Tagged: trever miller

Underrated Cards Hope to Improve

Season Preview: St. Louis Cardinals
Projected MLB Rank: 9th (t) — NL Rank: 6th (t) — NL Central Rank: 2nd –cardslogo.gif– Record: (88-74)

The Cardinals have all the makings of a run for October, but those makings are somehow overlooked. With a solid rotation, reliable bullpen, and underrated hitters–I will not be suprised when the Cards are still in the playoff hunt come mid-September.

Here’s a look at their projected rotation for the upcoming season:

1. Adam Wainwright
In 20 starts last season, Wainwright posted a 3.20 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and chalked up 11 wins. In his second season as a starter, his numbers were a good improvement on his 2007 season. Expect the Cards ace to top 200 innings and win over 15 games if he pitches a full season.

2. Kyle Lohse
Having a career year in 2008, Lohse proved that he can be reliable as he won the most games (15) and had the lowest ERA of his career (3.78). I would not be suprised to see him do it again.

3. Todd Wellemeyer
Another player who had a career year in 2008 is Wellemeyer. The former reliever tacked up 13 wins and held a 3.71 ERA. I would expect the same out of this year for him, along with some injury potential (having been converted to a starter last year).

4. Chris Carpenterchriscarpenter.jpg
Finally back from injury, Carpenter posted a 1.88 ERA in three starts late last season. While it would be a suprise to see him 2005 form again, Carpenter is the true number two in this rotation, which pushes Lohse and Wellemeyer back in to more reasonable roles.

5. Joel Pineiro
Pineiro has had a rocky career but seems to have found a nice back of the rotation job in St. Louis. Last year, he went 7-7 with a 5.15 ERA.

The bullpen has great young arms and the veteran experience needed to succeed. The veteran experience is provided by 36-year old Ryan Franklin. Franklin, who was the Cards closer for some time last season, saved 17 games with a 3.55 ERA and is a nice veteran option if the other two potential closers don’t pan out as planned. Lefty Trever Miller is another veteran option who recently had some playoff experience in Tampa Bay.

The closer job looks like it’s gone to Jason Motte. He lacks big league experience with only 12 games last season but in those 12 games he posted a 0.82 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 11 innings. He’s showed more of the same this spring with a 1.74 ERA and 15 strikeouts in about 10 innings. He wins the job over, who I thought had the job from the experience he gained at the end of the year last year, Chris Perez. Saving 7 games last year for St. Louis, Perez provides the option just in case Motte doesn’t get the job done. Perez’s 3.86 ERA in 7 innings is most likely the reason for the job going to Motte. Expect him to be the set-up man. Although I wouldn’t be suprised if the Cards started going closer by committee during the season.

The Cardinals outfield has the potential to be one of the best in the league. Last year, Ryan Ludwick really came out of nowhere to hit for nearly .300 while driving in 113 runs and hitting 37 homeruns. Not to mention his .591 slugging percentage. Ludwick is in his prime, so expect the same kind of year for him. Resurgent pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel has some great power as he hit 25 homeruns and drove in 71 runs last year but doesn’t hit for a high average and whiffs a ton. He’s still only young into his second career though, so the patience has the potential to be there. It now looks as if young stud Colby Rasmus will be the starting leftfielder for the Cardinals this season. The 22 year old is a top prospect, and now that Skip Schumaker has won the second base job, left field seems to be all Rasmus’. Fourth outfielder Chris Duncan provides some nice pop off the bench and a good starting option in case of injury.

Until the return of Troy Glaus, it looks as if David Freese will get the shot to start at third base. This kid tore it up in minors and has the potential to do the same in the big leagues, maybe not this year, but he will show some flashes of potential. Secondbaseman Skip Schumaker should bat at the top of the order and give Albert Pujols a bunch of chances to drive him home. Yadier Molina, who has shown improvement at the plate the past few years batting .216, .275, and .304 last season hopefully keeps up the average and that would be a plus to the catching job he done behind the dish. There is a weak spot here however, it’s spelled K-H-A-L-I-L. If shortstop Khalil Greene can continue what he’s done this spring, then it’s not a weak spot (hitting .418 with 17 RBIs). But if he’s not doing that, well, let’s just say last year he hit .213.

This lineup has all the potential to be productive and drive home runs and the rotation and bullpen will certainly keep the Cards in the game. I expect success out of St. Louis this year but not in the form of the playoffs.

Oh yea, I forgot they have this guy



Reds Picked by Many to Suprise

Season Preview: Cincinnati Reds
Projected MLB Rank: 16th — NL Rank: 11th — NL Central Rank: 3rd — Record: (redslogo.gif81-81)

Many are calling Cincinnati — “2009’s Rays.” Well this year’s Rays will be the team you won’t suspect — if you know what I mean. The Reds are filled with young stars and quality players, so I can see the connections between the Rays and the Reds. Let’s go further with it and make direct connections (analogies):

Carl Crawford is to Brandon Phillips
Crawford has been a star in the league and still very young. Phillips had a great season last year and still is young at 27 years old. As long as the Reds are playing at Great American Ballpark, Phillips will continue to look like he has pop. He puts up decent power numbers and has some great speed.

as Carlos Pena is to Ramon Hernandez
Pena has spent his career on numerous teams and the Reds are Ramon’s fourth. Hernandez has great production potential and is one of the older starters in the lineup. In Cincinnati, he may hit 25 homeruns and drive in 75 runs (and that’s probably not a stretch).

as JP Howell is to Bill Bray
Both strikeout lefthanders coming out of the bullpen. Bray was considered a possible closer at one point in his minor league career. He’s still only twenty five years old too.

votto.jpgas Evan Longoria is to Joey Votto
Votto played his first full season in the majors in 2008 and had a very productive year. He batted .297 with 24 homeruns and 84 RBIs. His numbers mirror Longoria’s and Votto has a higher average. Votto is also only 25 years old and will definately improve on his numbers this coming season.

as Scott Kazmir is to Edinson Volquez
Both great prospects coming up, Volquez strikes out hitters at an alarming rate. He recorded 206 strikeouts last season in ten less innings than strikeouts. He had a 3.21 ERA and went 17-6. Who knows how he will do in 2009 but he will definately help the Reds out.

as Troy Percival is to David Weathers
Both righthanders approaching 40 years of age while staying relatively successful coming out of their team’s bullpen. Weathers recorded a 3.25 ERA last season with 19 holds.

as BJ Upton is to Jay Bruce
Bruce played in 108 games last season and had a good rookie season and should definately improve on his .254 average, 21 homeruns, and 52 RBIs. He may experience a sophomore boom or bust, but he will eventually be who the Reds hope he will become.

as Matt Garza is to Johnny Cuetocueto.jpg
Cueto didn’t have a very good season last year but has great stuff. Look for him to also improve upon his 4.81 ERA and 9 wins as he should start over 30 games again this season.

as Eric Hinske is to Alex Gonzalez
Gonzalez played a total of zero games last season due to injury, but he’s a veteran who’s glove is better than his bat. He will be in competition with Jeff Keppinger for the starting shortstop spot just as Hinske competed for the right field spot most of last season.

as Trever Miller is to Arthur Rhodes
Both veteran lefty relievers, Rhodes had a great year for the Marlins last year as a lefty out of the bullpen with a 2.04 ERA with 40 strikeouts in about 35 innings.

as Grant Balfour is to Francisco Cordero
Balfour and Cordero both throw hard. Cordero will remain the closer this year for the Reds after he saved 34 games last season. He struck out 78 batters in about 70 innings with a 3.33 ERA.

arroyo.jpgThe Reds rotation is lead by innings eater Aaron Harang who had a down year last season but is still projected as the Reds ace this season. Bronson Arroyo has also become a staple in this rotation as an innings eater.

This lineup will score a lot of runs and the pitching will keep them in games but I just don’t see this team making the playoffs as the Rays did last season. They’re definately capable of doing (as every team is) but I just think they have a few holes in the lineup and they are still pretty young. 

Breakout Players: Chris Perez

chrisperez.jpgRP Chris Perez St. Louis Cardinals
With St. Louis’ failure to sign a veteran closer this offseason (Kerry Wood to the Tribe and Trevor Hoffman to the Brewers) the 23 year old Miami product, Perez, is looking to be the Cards closing pitcher for 2009. Perez was seven for eleven in save chances last season. He went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA and had 42 strikeouts in just about as many innings in his rookie season. He throws mid-nineties with a slider and the job is still not officially his. In the ninth inning, the ball could go to Jason Motte or wiley veteran Ryan Franklin as well.

He likes the roll though and Tony La Russa claims that he and their other young relievers still aren’t set in stone to even make the roster. La Russa said, “They opened some eyes. They’ll come to Spring Training getting a legitimate look. But they’ll have to beat somebody out.” I assume La Russa said that to make them, and Perez especially, work even harder. I honestly think Perez will end up with the job even though La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan claim that he may even end up back in the minors to start the season. 

In the minors, Perez was the closer from A-ball on. With the Swing of Quad Cities he had 12 saves. With the double-A Springfield Cardinals he saved 27 games and with the triple-A Memphis Redbirds he had 19 saves over two season (07/08). He totaled 58 saves over three years in the minors while appearing in 105 games, struck out 147 batters, and held a 2.72 ERA.

Cardinals Closer Competition:
Frontrunner: Chris Perez (3.46 ERA // 7 SV // 9.17 SO/9INN)
Veteran Option: Ryan Franklin (3.55 ERA // 17 SV // 5.87 SO/9INN)
Darkhorse: Jason Motte (0.82 ERA // 1 SV (4 HLD) // 13.09 SO/9INN)
Darkerhorse: Trever Miller (4.15 ERA // 2 SV (11 HLD) // 9.19 SO/9INN with TB)