After a tumultuous offseason amongst the fanbase, it is becoming apparent to this fan that the St. Louis Cardinals are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Here at STL Hat Trick, we have dabbled in a little pessimism and a little optimism this offseason. At the start of the offseason, I thought that this team had to go out and get them a top of the line starter, a middle of the order hitter, and a top closer.
I wasn’t necessarily wrong. This is what the team had set out to do. However, the chips started to fall and the St. Louis Cardinals decided that the free agent market just wasn’t going to go the way they liked. The closer market however, eventually fell into their lap yesterday and they just couldn’t say no.
The Cardinals filled the hole in their rotation with a guy not many knew about. That guy was Miles Mikolas, a guy who spent some time in Japan after not having success in his first stint in the major leagues. While initially, I wasn’t huge on Mikolas, I think he is going to be a very successful 4/5 starter this season.
While the Cardinals didn’t initially go out and grab the top of the line closer like many wanted, they acquired a guy that could turn into that in Dominic Leone. I like this move. I think Leone combined with guys like Luke Gregerson, Tyler Lyons, Jordan Hicks, and not to leave out my dark horse Sam Tuivailala create the “super bullpen” they have been trying to create for the last few seasons. Now, add in Greg Holland and this may be the deepest bullpen in the league.
In my opinion, the best move of the offseason was the St. Louis Cardinals acquisition of Mike Maddux. Not that I thought Derek Lilliquist was that bad of a pitching coach, but the Cardinals for a while have needed a strong secondary coach to help balance out Mike Matheny. Maddux has a lot of experience working with some great pitchers and I really believe in his philosophy of leaning on the high fastball.
When you combine Maddux’s knowledge with the great arms like Carlos Martinez, Luke Weaver, Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, and the future of Alex Reyes – I think that this rotation has the chance to blossom into a top ten rotation in the entire league and yes it will be better than the Cubs. It’s going to be a fun year to see these young guys get their shot and learn and grow under Maddux.
Last year the Cardinals were a top-five team in runs scored and I think that is going to change. They are going to be even better this year. The addition of Marcell Ozuna changes this lineup. It frees up Matt Carpenter and allows him to hit in a high influence lineup position without the pressure of being “The Guy” in the middle of the order. I am absolutely ecstatic for this offense.
A few weeks ago I did some research on the NL lineups and was looking at my favorite offensive statistic (wRC+). Using this statistic to average out last year’s numbers it appears that this St. Louis Cardinals lineup has the potential one of the top few offenses in the NL. This is no surprise and it doesn’t take into consideration the bench options in Jose Martinez, Yairo Munoz, and Greg Garcia.
The only concerns I have about this team is the ability of Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong to be able to repeat their 2017 performances. If Pham has any issue with his vision, that could be a huge problem for the team and the team cannot afford to have Paul DeJong go through any kind of Sophomore slump ala Aledmys Diaz in 2017.
The Cardinals have a tough road ahead of them in the division. The Cubs are going to be really hard to catch as they have a very good team. The Brewers are also a solid team and are going to be no pushover. However, in my opinion, this team has the best chance to be a force in the league than either of the previous two season’s teams.
If you look at the makeup of the team, this team even looks better than the 2015 team that won 100 games. Not only do the Cardinals have a team that will most certainly contend this year, but they will also have a team that will be a launching pad for the future.