This is the fifth and final installment in Bleacher Nation’s 2009 preview of the National League Central – specifically, how every team not named the Cubs is going to suck. Previously: Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros.
Welcome back to Bleacher Nation’s foray into the other teams of the National League Central, and their prospects for 2009 success. But, as it’s boring to just preview a team and predict their finish (boring/too hard), we do things a little differently here. It’s much more interesting (easy) to simply examine why they currently suck and are going to suck in 2009. So I guess the prospects we explore are the prospects for failure.
Up this week is the St. Louis Cardinals. Mmmm. Let me say at the outset that it has truly been a pleasure writing this particular article. The Cardinals evoke for any rational Cubs fan a completely irrational response. We hate them. We just do.
And thank God they’re going to suck this year.
Baseline for Suckitude
The Cardinals were 86-76 last year, but a healthy 11.5 games out of first in the NL Central – all the way down in fourth. That includes a completely meaningless 6-game winning streak to end the year, too. Still, the suck bar is set kind of high. Expect it to get worse this year, Cardinal fans.
Sucky Offseason Moves
Sad Arrivals: LHP Charlie Manning (waiver claim from Nationals), SS Khalil Greene (trade with Padres), LHP Trever Miller (free agent), LHP Royce Ring (free agent), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent).
Happy Departures: RHP Matt Clement (free agent, signed with Blue Jays), INF Felipe Lopez (free agent, signed with Diamondbacks), SS Cesar Izturis (free agent, signed with Orioles), INF Aaron Miles (non-tendered, signed with Cubs), OF Juan Encarnacion (free agent, if he plays again, it probably won’t be for the Cardinals and/or won’t be well), RHP Jason Isringhausen (free agent, signed with Rays, not expected good), RHP Braden Looper (free agent, signed with Brewers), LHP Ron Villone (free agent, not expected back), LHP Mark Mulder (free agent, not expected back), RHP Russ Springer (free agent, signed with A’s), LHP Randy Flores (non-tendered), LHP Tyler Johnson (non-tendered), RHP Mark Worrell (traded to Padres), OF Josh Phelps (free agent, signed with Giants), Felipe Lopez (free agent, signed with Diamondbacks), Adam Kennedy (dumped, signed with Rays).
Yo. That’s a lot of people stoked to be getting out of St. Louis. Most of them sucked anyway, so it’s not a huge loss to the Cardinals. The ones likely to hurt the most are Russ Springer (been quietly dominant for years) and Braden Looper (recipient of Dave Duncan starting pitcher voodoo magic). Fortunately the Cardinals replaced all of those losses with, um, Khalil Greene.
Their Very Own Blogoverse Thinks They Suck
Before brilliantly noting that the Cardinals 2009 rotation is a major concern, Viva el Birdos delightfully describes the problem:
Pineiro was caught smack-dab in the middle of the vortex of suck last year. We got a better performance from the fact that he ate up so many innings as opposed to giving them to Mitch Boggs (last year!). The point is that the Cards’ rotation had depth, but not strength and, for us to really be a strong team, it’s going to have to have some strength.
Cardinals Diaspora doesn’t even need to say it in a post. They’ve got tags that include: “09 is Gonna Suck,” and “The Cards are Gonna Suck.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
The Suckiest Part of Their Suck
I know what you’re thinking – it’s got to be on the pitching side. After all, the bullpen looks like crap after the departures of Springer and the formerly-effective Jason Isringhausen, and the rotation is held together with the thin hope that Chris Carpenter can somehow come back – again – and perform as a solid 2 or 3. How could I not select something within the portion of the team that throws stuff?
But nope. It’s the lineup.
Take a look at what’s going on outside of Albert Pujols. Yes, Pujols is the best hitter in baseball, and is the equivalent of three solid hitters. But the other 7 regulars are also the equivalent of three hitters. And those three kind of suck. With Troy Glaus out for an indeterminant period of time, the rest of the lineup sports Rick Ankiel’s un-juiced arms and goatee, Skip Schumaker, the guy who played way the hell over his head last year but you’ve still never heard of him (his name is Ryan Ludwick, by the way), and then crap.
It’s going to take uberprospect Colby Rasmus breaking through and several more career-like seasons from the middle of the order for this lineup to be above average in the NL Central, let alone the NL.
And in the End
God it feels good to say it. The St. Louis Cardinals suck.
There is little reason to believe Chris Carpenter will make it through most of the season both productive and healthy. That means that on as many as four out of five days, the Cardinals will be trotting out a mediocre, at best, starting pitcher who will be hoping to last seven or eight innings so as to protect the equally mediocre bullpen.
Pujols will get his. And some douche you’ve never heard of will blow up and have an All-Star season because, well, it’s the Cardinals. Outside of that, I don’t see where the runs will come from.
If this team were wearing anything other than Cardinal red, I have a hard time believing anyone would expect this team to break the .500 mark. I just don’t see it on paper. Much like every other team in the Central, the Cardinals are probably worse than they were last year.
Given the team’s unsuccessful overtures this offseason toward Brian Fuentes and toward acquiring Matt Holiday, it is likely the Cardinals will have extra money in the coiffers to make an addition. One move will not, of course, take them from suck to not suck, but it might be just enough when combined with the Cardinals’ uncanny superability to play over their heads to be a thorn in the Cubs’ side.
As things stand, they look primed for a third place battle with the Astros and Reds. Here’s hoping they fall off sooner rather than later, diminishing the likelihood of a major acquisition, and shutting the trap of smug Cardinal fans.
Oh. And did I mention they suck?
*I can’t believe I made it through this entire preview without so much as a scandalous insult hurled at Tony LaRussa. Well. You know what they say about pictures.