Cardinal party! (Getty Images)
St. Louis will open 2013 with a lineup that looks nearly identical to the group that dropped Game 7 of the NLCS last October ... and that seems perfectly OK. Last year's team was excellent.
The Cardinals won 88 games in 2012, posting the NL's second-best run differential, then edged Atlanta in the wild card play-in game (thanks in part to a ridiculous, rally-killing ruling that went against the Braves). There have been a few off-season personnel losses, but nothing devastating. Lance Berkman is gone, though he barely played last year. Kyle Lohse is out of the picture, too, a free agent linked to several teams. The Cards will have little trouble replacing Puma's production — Allen Craig takes over at first base — but Lohse's 200-plus innings are another matter. The veteran is coming off a career year: 16-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP. And it sounds like Chris Carpenter won't pitch this season, his career in jeopardy due to persistent arm issues.
Still, it's not as if the Cards will be completely without pitching in 2013. Adam Wainwright is entering a contract year, now two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery. Lance Lynn is coming off an 18-win campaign, Jaime Garcia is presumably healthy, and Jake Westbrook is still lurking. Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal are in the mix, too.
And then there's this nugget: St. Louis has the best farm system in baseball, according to pretty much everyone who rates such things. Here's Sickels, here's Law, here's BA. The Cardinals are well-positioned for success over multiple seasons.Read More »from Pressing Questions: The St. Louis Cardinals