I feel the motto for the 2010 St. Louis Cardinals will be a phrase we were uttering at the end of the 2009 season, "Just finish the job!" I fully expect the Cardinals to have a rip roaring time beating up on the NL Central this season. The only thing that can stop us is what hurt us down the stretch last year: finishing the game. How fragile is our bullpen? Will Franklin be able to hold it together through October? Will McClellan or Motte be able to pick up the slack if Franklin sucks. Shoot, will our current bullpen find its legs and hold on to the leads we have in general? My feeling is that we will trade for some bullpen help. It is easy to get a mid-level closer/set up man at the trade deadline for only a prospect or two. Think Pirates/Nationals.
Also, last summer I applauded the Derosa trade. Now that we crashed out of the playoffs, Derosa is in San Fransisco and Chris Perez is Cleveland's closer that deal doesn't look so hot. Honestly, if Derosa doesn't get hurt in his third at-bat he might be twice as productive and I wouldn't feel so bad seeing Perez in the box score for the Indians.
I am completely looking forward to the first 7 innings of every ball game. Our lineup puts on a clinic - literally. Schumaker, Ryan, Pujols, Holliday, Molina and even Rasmus all work the count and have great at-bats. This will not only wear down pitchers, but it will give each batter a good look at the oppositions pitch selection. By the 4th inning we will see some rallies game in and out. Our starting rotation looks awesome, even if Garcia doesn't work out. Carpenter and Wainwright are a treat to watch. Good season to look forward to.
Just for fun, here are my season predictions. I should point out I first made some really boring/obvious picks and actually changed two of them because you never know what's going to happen each season.
AL: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles Angels, Boston
NL: Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia
World Series: St. Louis over New York Yankees
First, if I'm going to pick the Cards to make the playoffs, you bet I'm going to pick them to go all the way. That's just how it goes.
I looked hard at the NL East and AL Central. I went with Atlanta because I feel their rotation is built for the regular season. They have 4 quality starters and a unproven Japanese import. Their lineup looks solid and their bullpen is anchored by Billy Wagner. The Phillies have Halladay but some inconsistency after that. And can anyone honestly trust Brad Lidge anymore? I go Atlanta.
It was really a toss up between Chicago and Minnesota. The White Sox have a better rotation, the Twins have a great looking lineup. In the end I went with pitching and variety with the White Sox. (That AL Central is hard to pick, I get it wrong every year).
One last prediction: Pujols will make me say "You can't just go out and do that!" at least 10 more times this season. For example: (Pujols hits homerun in first at bat) "You can't just hit a home run to start the season! Who does that!" (Pujols goes 4 for 5 with 2 homeruns) "You can't win and MVP and then go 4/5 right out of the gates! It's just obsurd!" Get the idea?