January 21, 2014

#Cardinals — more likely to win 100 than 90?

After the Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz said yes to that, or at least to the idea that the Cards have a decent shot of improving on 2013's 97 wins, ESPN's David Schoenfield says no.

Bernie, among his 10 points, notes better defense with the trade of David Freese for Peter Bourjos, which in turn moves Matt Carpenter to third and opens second for Kolten Wong.

Next is Cardinal rotation stability, which Adam Wainwright discusses a bit here, including what Michael Wacha could do in a full year (even winning a Cy Young?), even as Wacha says he's not treating a starting slot as guaranteed. Meanwhile, Shelby Miller says he's still puzzled over how he was non-used in last year's postseason, but trying to get over it.

Next is the adding of Jhonny Peralta, and an expectation of more homers, among other things. He also notes more team speed and a deeper bench with the signing of Mark Ellis as well as Bourjos.

And, Peralja says he can play just fine without PEDs. Plus, not to give too much credence to a Deadspin story, but, since he was buying from Tony Bosch, he may have gotten distilled water, or sugar free Gummi Bears, anyway.

Schoenfield has good counters.

He notes the biggie, that the Cardinals' batting with runners in scoring position will surely regress this year. He also notes that, on homers, Matt Holliday's power is on the decline, though he doesn't allow for more Matt Adams at bats. He adds that Yadier Molina is a year older. So, while I repeat my cautions about not reading too much into Adams too early, I think Schoenfield at least partially misses the boat on this issue. Schoenfield also probably doesn't know that Adams is in better shape, with more muscle and less extra weight, and that he's also already working on trying to hit lefty sliders.

He adds that the Cardinals were lucky in injuries in 2013. Well, not totally true, David. Jason Motte blew his arm out, Rafael Furcal never got his arm healed properly and Jaime Garcia also blew his arm out. I mean, they were throwing three rookies in the starting rotation at the end of the regular season and made the World Series, David. That said, I suppose injuries could be even worse this year. However, Bernie's statement about bench depth addresses this.

I mean, the rotation this coming year will be better than last year's. All of what I mentioned above, plus the addition by subtracting of dropping Jake Westbrook and knowing that all of last year's young guns come back with another year of experience.

Depth? Stephen Strasburg doesn't know the word. He doesn't fully comprehend just why Joe Kelly isn't under discussion as a starter.

Plus, the Cards' Pythagorean in 2013 was 101-61. And, on better defense, the Cards also seem likely to use strategic shifts more than last year.

Beyond that, to double down on Bernie's comments on team speed.

First, I want the Cards to steal more. And, Bourjos says he wants to steal 40, which is definitely good news.

Second, per his expectation of more managerial growth from Mike Matheny? I want Matheny to get a better handle on team baserunning. You can be slow, but still be smart, on the base paths. Freese was slowish, and often dumb as well, last year.

Finally, the extra depth not only allows for plugging holes if the injury bug does hit, it gives the team midseason trade options, like Motte, if he's healthy again.

Much more here in this "winter warmup" wrap from the Post-Dispatch.

So, Schoenfield's wrong. (Hey, it's ESPN.)

I don't know if the Cards will win 100, but I'll certainly take the "over" on 95 wins. And, I'll take Miklasz over Schoenfield on a lot of stuff that's baseball-related.

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