Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Cardinals. Here's what we wrote about the team on October 8th. Changes for 2009:
Additions: Khalil Greene, Dennys Reyes, Trever Miller, Royce Ring, Jason LaRue (re-signed). Midseason: Charlie Manning, Kyle Lohse extension
Subtractions: Felipe Lopez, Cesar Izturis, Braden Looper, Russ Springer, Ron Villone, Jason Isringhausen, Adam Kennedy, Tyler Johnson, Randy Flores, Aaron Miles, Mark Worrell, Luke Gregerson, Mark Mulder. Midseason: Josh Phelps, Matt Clement, Anthony Reyes
The Cardinals needed help in the middle infield and bullpen. GM John Mozeliak's solution was to trade for Greene and sign about $4MM worth of lefty relievers. Many of the departed played significant roles (good or bad) last year, so the Cards may be hoping for addition by subtraction to a certain extent.
Last year's offense scored 4.81 runs per game, 4th in the NL. Using CHONE projections and Baseball Musings' lineup analysis tool, the '09 lineup projects at 5.00 runs per game. This particular simulation doesn't include Colby Rasmus, has the pitcher batting ninth, and doesn't account for time missed by Troy Glaus. But even if Ludwick takes a step back, the team may score more runs than last year.
The '09 rotation features familiar names Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer, and Joel Pineiro. The difference is that Braden Looper's 199 innings of 4.16 ball are gone, and Wainwright, Carpenter, and Pineiro will hopefully double last year's 292 combined innings. Last year the Cards had 16 starts from Mitchell Boggs, Brad Thompson, Mike Parisi, Jaime Garcia, and Mark Mulder at a combined 7.31 ERA. This year's backup crew seems more capable. The 4.20 collective ERA of last year's rotation was pretty good, and if Carpenter makes a big contribution they should be able to at least match it. The Lohse extension, signed on September 29th for four years and $41MM, doesn't look good. On the other hand, the Cardinals are presumably still happy they have Lohse to pencil in for 33 starts.
The bullpen will be better for the losses of Villone, Isringhausen, and Flores, but they didn't do much to replace Springer. Mozeliak did add two decent lefties, and from the right side it'll be up to youngsters Jason Motte and Chris Perez to step up.
Defensively, the Cardinals ranked 2nd in the NL according to The Fielding Bible II. The success of the rotation will be closely tied to the team's ability to repeat its stellar defense. The Cards figure to lose ground defensively in the middle infield, though, replacing Kennedy/Izturis with Schumaker/Greene.
With last year's run prevention the Cardinals look like an 89 win team. The concern is that a defensive slip or rotation injury could shave 4-5 wins off that projection.
Bottom line: The Cardinals switched up their middle infield and added lefty relievers, and hope a healthy rotation can keep them in contention in '09.