Organizational Ranking: Current Talent – Cardinals

The Cardinals cruised to the NL Central last season with a 91-71 record, 7.5 games ahead of second place Chicago. They did so despite an $11 million cut in payroll from the previous year down to around $90 million. They are maintaining that level in 2010 even with the addition of Matt Holliday.

Just as the payroll is remaining fairly static, the projected win totals for the Cardinals is close to their 2009 actual totals. FanGraphs readers have the Cardinals at 88 wins for 2010, a massive ten games over the second place Cubs. That is twice the separation of any other division. CHONE agrees as well with the Cardinals topping the NL Central at 91 wins, ten games ahead of the Brewers and Reds.

Around the infield, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan all return. They’re all reasonably young and none really had outrageously fluke-filled seasons so St. Louis fans should have a pretty good idea of what is in store for 2010. I might expect slightly less offense from the right side, but Schumaker might make up for that with increased defensive prowess at second base with more experience there. What is less known is at third base where David Freese and Felipe Lopez will battle for the majority of playing time.

Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick all return for the Cardinals outfield though there appears to be some questions as to who will be providing depth behind the starting three. Holliday and Ludwick are roughly average gloves in the corners but Rasmus provides an opportunity for a plus defender in center and obviously all three can swing the stick a little bit.

While Joel Pineiro is unlikely to repeat the success he had in 2009 for the Angels this coming year, his loss still hurts the Cards some. They did import Brad Penny to ease some of that pain however. The fifth spot was Kyle McClellan‘s to lose and he apparently has as Jaime Garcia appears to have been named to the post. Nevertheless, his hold is tenuous and McClellan along with Rich Hill and others are lurking. Still, it should remain an above average unit for St. Louis.

The bullpen returns largely intact and that’s less of a positive as they were unimpressive in 2009. Still, they were not a disaster and if that’s the worst unit on the team, it’s not bad enough to prevent the Cardinals from playing postseason baseball.

When it comes down to it, the 2010 Cardinals look a lot like the 2009 Cardinals and for a team that’s not overly old and won the division last year, that’s a good thing.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

11 Responses to “Organizational Ranking: Current Talent – Cardinals”

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  1. Shaun says:

    I know these are probably written ahead of time, but it looks now like Jaime Garcia is the 5th starter.

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  2. Big Oil says:

    David Freese, not Freeze.

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  3. Grant says:

    This is amateur hour gentlemen. As mentioned, Garcia is the 5th starter, not Mac or Hill. Also, its David Freese not Freeze. Please do some minimal research before putting out your organizational “analysis”.

    Also, the contention that the 2010 Cards will be as good at the 2009 version is just lazy. How is a full season of Matt Holliday not better than giving half a seasons ABs to Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel? Also, if you actually followed the Cardinals you would know that Brian Barden and Joe Thurston manned 3rd base for the Cards for most of the first half of last year. Freese is a huge upgrade there. Lets also not forget the 122.1 innings of 5.89 ball Todd Wellemeyer pitched for Saint Louis last year. Penny/Loshe/Garcia is a huge improvement over Pineiro/Wellemeyer/Boggs/Smoltz. Perhaps we are as good as we were at the END of 2009, but that team was much better than a 91 win team due to all of the significant mid-season additions.

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    • jross says:

      ohhhhh Grant

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    • Steve Sommer says:

      It’s most likely that the Cards were a ~85-86 win team that won 91 games last year, and this year they project to be a true 91 win team (for the reasons you mentioned). You can’t simply say that because they won 91 games last year and added 5 wins (completely made that up) they are then a 96 win team, because they likely weren’t a true talent 91 win team (on the whole) last year.

      In all you are correct in that they are likely better than last year, and Matthew is also correct in that their most likely finish is identical to last year, ~91 wins and a fairly clear margin in the Central.

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    • Paul B says:

      You should ask for a refund, since the articles are written by amateurs. Better get all your money back.

      Oh, wait, what?

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  4. Ivdown says:

    The Cardinals have one of the few worst farm systems in all of baseball…yeah, I can definitely see why they are here instead of a few spots back…and I LIKE the Cardinals. They are all win now, and soon much of their payroll will be tied up in Holliday and Pujols, allowing for little else to be spent around them.

    I’m just waiting for the Mariners to be put 6-8 right now, because i don’t expect ANYTHING less from the last 5 rankings on this list. Despite strong bias by one or more writers on here, that’s NOT a good thing (or correct).

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  5. Omar says:

    This seems to kind of gloss over the fact that Pujols is the best player in baseball, and they also have two guys who look like stars in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Despite an awful first month of the season Holliday still rebounded to post a .390 wOBA, he’s quite a bit better than this makes it seem.

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