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I Was Right! Sort Of…

Posted By JE Powell

Back before the baseball season started, I did a prediction post about how I thought the Cardinals would fare in each series, you can read it here, if you wish. In the second to last paragraph, I said I thought the Cardinals would go 16-11 (plus or minus 11, you know, just to give myself some wiggle room). At the end of April , 2011, the Cardinals are, in fact, 16-11. So, I was right!

However…

I only accurately predicted the outcome of  4 of the 9 series the Cards had in April, for a .444 average. But since this is primarily a baseball blog, a .444 batting average is pretty damn good.

My predictions:

Cards take 2 from the Padres. NOPE! Cards only won one game.

Cards take 2 from the Pirates. NOPE! Pirates took two.

Cards only win one against the Giants. YES! Well more like “yes (frowny face)”. The Cards lost the first two games of the series in the bottom of the ninth. Had they had a pitcher capable of closing a game at that point, they could have swept.

Cards take two of three from the Diamond backs. YES! This was the series when the bats came alive and began to take the National League by storm.

Cards and Dodgers split, 2-2. NOPE! And I am glad I got this one wrong. Cards took 3 of 4 and nearly swept the Dodgers.

Cards win two against the Nationals. YES!

Cards take two of three against the Reds. YES!

Cards sweep Astros. NOPE! They did take two of three from Houston, though.

Cards lose last two games of April to the Braves. NOPE! Another one I am glad to have been wrong on. In fact, the Cards one both of the April games against the Braves.

So, while I may have been below .500 on the predictions that led up to my 16-11 prediction, I was spot on for the overall record.

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NL: Grand Central

Posted by JE Powell

This is day 3 of the United Cardinal Bloggers Monthly Project-March and today we are dealing with the NL Central Division. I have already posted about where I think the teams in the NL Central will finish (you can read it in my first post), but I have changed my mind slightly.

NL Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals     92-70

Part of the reason for putting the Cardinals in first place is that, as a die hard fan, I just don’t have the heart to rank them lower. The other part is that I feel they underachieved last season when they faded down the stretch to lose out to the Reds. For the Cards to be successful this season they need steady production from Lance Berkman and Kyle McClellan to be a solid fifth starter.

2. Cincinnati Reds     90-72

The Reds lead most of the offensive categories last season in the NL and I think they may again this year. Bronson Arroyo is a solid starter and Mike Leake is a good, young pitcher, but I feel the Cards have a better starting rotation. The Reds have the reigning MVP in Joey Votto and overall the Reds had a very good defensive team. I would be irritated, to say the least, but not surprised if they won the division. I think that the Wild Card will come out of the East again, so winning the Central Division is the only way into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers     87-75

This is another team that I wouldn’t be surprised to see win the division. The additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum gives the Brew Crew a legitimate ace and very good number two starter. Along with last years staff ace Yovani Gallardo, the Brewers will be very tough to beat in a series.

4. Chicago Cubs     82-82

The Cubs added starting pitcher Matt Garza and first baseman Carlos Pena in the offseason which were some good pick-ups. If Aramis Ramirez can stay healthy and Alfonso Soriano can live up to expectations for once, then the Cubs should be able to at least finish at .5oo.

5. Houston Astros     75-87

The Astros were awful in April and May last season, but played very well after June 1st. I look for a similar performance again this year, but I feel the rest of the division (other than the Pirates) is much better.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates     63-99

Awful. Just awful. They have some promising talent with their everyday players, but their pitching is atrocious. They only won 57 games last year and they wont do much better this year.

That’s just a quick look at how I think things will play out in the Central Division. Thursday will be the NL West.

Monthly Predicitons: April

Posted by JE Powell

I want to take a look ahead to the schedule the Cards have for April (I am counting the one game in March) to see what kind of win loss record they will have when May 1st comes around. I am going to list their schedule by series and you can go here for a complete day-by-day schedule, if you are so inclined. My goal is to have a Monthly Prediction post up before the first of each month and take a look at the games ahead.

San Diego Padres, 3 Game Series:

I think the Cards can go 2-1 in this series. San Diego’s projected starting line-up doesn’t have anyone who hit better than .268 last season (Orlando Hudson) or hit more than 17 home runs (former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick). With the loss of Adrian Gonzalez (via trade with the Boston Red Sox) the Padres lost a near .300 hitter with 30+ home run and 100+ RBI capability. As of right now, they do not appear to have a team that has the ability to put many runs on the board each game.

Their pitching doesn’t appear to be that great right now, either, outside of Mat Latos perhaps. Latos won 14 games last year with a 2.92 ERA and 189 strikeouts and he’s only 23 years old, so he could become a top-tier ace. Clayton Richard had 14 wins as well, but with a 3.75 ERA. He did have a decent 153 K’s, though. Then there is Heath Bell, who posted 47 saves last season with 86 strike outs in only 70 innings pitched. So, if the Padres can get a lead going into the 9th inning, Heath Bell’s history suggests that they will hold the lead and win.

Pittsburgh Pirates, 3 Game Series:

I see another 2 out of 3 for the Cardinals. The Pirates have some young, talented players, especially Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones, but they are still a young team. A team that finished the season 57-105 last year. Their projected starting line-up has several players that could be All-Stars one day, but as has been the case more often than not the last several years, they will probably be All-Stars on other teams.

The Pirates biggest problem is pitching. Their projected opening day starter, Paul Maholm, went 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA last year. That’s barely a fifth starter on most teams. The Pirates projected five starters went a combined 26-54 last year, with Ross Ohlendorf going 1-11 and Charlie Morton going 2-12 (with a 7.57 ERA, yikes!).

The main reason I give the Cards a loss to the Pirates is that it seems like the Cardinals have a tendency to lose games against relatively bad pitching. I don’t have specific evidence, just past experience in being a Cardinals fan.

San Fransisco Giants, 3 Game Series:

This will be a tough series and I think the Cards will lose 2 of 3. The San Fransisco Giants are the defending World Series Champions and they have a shot to repeat. Buster Posey is coming of off a Rookie of The Year award and Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff are two very capable hitters. Edgar Renteria has gone on to the Reds, but was replaced by former MVP Miguel Tejada, who may be in the twilight of his baseball career, but can still perform.

Which brings us to the one of the top two or three pitching staffs in the National League. Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young award in 2008 and 2009 and could win more in the near future. Matt Cain is a solid number 2 starter and could be an ace on many other teams. Together Lincecum and Cain combined for 29 wins and 408 strikeouts last year. The Cards may not have to face Lincecum in this series because the first game of the Giants series is the seventh of the year for both teams, so Lincecum will more than likely have pitched the day before. That’s why I think the Cards will win one. If Lincecum does pitch, there could be a sweep.

Arizona Diamondbacks, 3 Game Series:

This is a team to look out for this year with a very good young core of players in Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Kelly Johnson, and Chris Young. I think that the D-Backs should be able to put some runs up on the board. However, I think the Cards will go 2-1 against this team. Here is a look at their depth chart.

Record-wise their pitching didn’t look to good last year, except for perhaps Daniel Hudson who posted an 8-2 record with a 2.42 ERA in only 14 games. If the offense can put up some runs, I look for pitchers such as Ian Kennedy and Joe Saunders to win 11-12 games, which would be an improvement over last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 Game Series:

I predict a split in this series. Here’s a look at the Dodgers depth chart. Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney are three very capable hitters, but at 37 Casey Blake is starting to decline. If he can hold up, he may very well be productive. The addition of Juan Uribe will certainly help, assuming that can put up another 20+ HR, 80+ RBI season. I don’t think this team is capable of winning the NL West or even getting the wild card, but I think they will be around .500 when the season ends.

Their pitching looks to be pretty decent this year. All five of their starters won 10+ games last year and Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley could both win 15 games. If those stats hold up, you are looking at a starting rotation that’s capable of winning 55 to 60 games. Not to shabby.

Washington Nationals, 3 Game Series:

Win 2, lose 1. The Nats added Jayson Werth, but lost Adam Dunn, though the acquisition of Adam LaRoche will certainly help the team. The Nationals have done a pretty good job of improving the offense of the team. Their probable starting line-up has former Cardinal Rick Ankiel in left, though he has a tendency to strike out and does not seem to be able to his left-handed hitters, so he may platoon in left. Center fielder Nyjer Morgan can steal some bases and run out some bunts for hits, but other than that his bat doesn’t have much pop.

Their pitching isn’t really any better either. Livan Hernandez could be their opening day pitcher and he went 10-12 last season. I think one of Washington’s bottom of the rotation pitchers will sneak a win in this series.

Cincinnati Reds, 3 Game Series:

I have touched upon the Reds in an earlier blog, so I am not going to go to in-depth here. There Reds have reigning MVP Joey Votto and the team is coming off of a sweep in the NLDS. The Reds won the division by five games over the Cards last year and will be in the mix to repeat as division champs this year. The Cards had the Reds number last year winning 12 of 18 and I look for that to continue this year. 2-1.

Houston Astros, 3 Game Series:

The Astros had a nice stretch from June 1st on last year where they had a winning record in that time period and they may be able to build on that this year, but I look for them to be at the bottom of the barrel this year along with the Pirates. Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee have some pop in their bats and Michael Bourn is a very speedy guy, so this team may put some runs up on the board and sting you when you aren’t looking, but I am predicting a 3-0 sweep of this team. This series is in Houston, but I just have a feeling that brooms will be involved.

Atlanta Braves, 2 Games of 3 Game Series in April:

The Cards will play to games of a three game series to finish out April. The Braves look to be an offensively improved team with the addition of Dan Uggla, though I would certainly not call him a defensive improvement. I think Snoopy is a better defensive player. The Braves outfield is looking pretty good with Martin Prado in left, Nate McClouth in center, and Jason Heyward in right. These three guys are capable of power and hitting for average. If Chipper Jones can stay healthy, look for  this team to be in the playoff hunt for a wild card spot (The Phillies pitching may be to strong for any other team to seriously think about winning the NL East). 0-2

April Overall:

So, my prediction for the month of April is the Cardinals going 16-11, plus or minus 11. The Cards, I think, have a good team and will continue to do what they have done in years past be winning 16+ games in April and then have slightly worse months (record-wise) in May and June (than they did in April), but I will take a closer look at those months when they get nearer.

So, there you have it, a minimally researched outlook at the month to come with some mediocre analysis and sub-par links. Do you kind of get the feeling that you are watching Saturday Baseball on Fox after reading this?

I’ll Give It The Ol’ College Try

At this point, I don’t really know what I expect to make of this blog. I love my Cardinals and have since I was a wee lad splitting logs and walking miles to get a book to read, unknowingly preparing myself to become the 16th President. That may have been someone else, I’m not sure. Anyway, I hope to, at the very least, be entertaining if not informative. I would like to be humorous, logical, and at times irreverent, but that’s not really for me to decide. I will write what I write and let my readers (probably just my wife and a couple of friends) decide what the blog ends up being. So, having wasted a bunch of words and not said anything worth while, let’s get down to the point of this blog: The Greatest Team in The History of Sports (my opinion, of course) the St. Louis Cardinals!

The Central Division is going to be tough this year, it seems. The Reds should remain as good as they were last year and have Aroldis Chapman for a whole year, he of the 105 mph fastball. And lest we forget the reigning NL MVP in Joey Votto and the addition of former Cardinal Edgar Renteria, World Series MVP.

The Brewers are much improved with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to go along with Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf for a pretty good starting rotation. They also have, of course, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Cory Hart, and Casey McGehee all players who have 25+ HR power.

The Cubs, I daresay, are improved as well. Matt Garza was a smart trade and Carlos Pena should have a better year than last year when he hit .196. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Fukudome can have improved seasons, and stay healthy, they should produce more than last year.

Houston played much better ball after June 1st last year with an above .500 record after going 17-34 in April in May. If they can continue that trend, then they may have a solid team, if not necessarily a playoff team.

And then there’s Pittsburgh: The Turd in the Toilet of the Central Division. I predict another last place finish for this stinker of a team. The Pirates are mostly irrelevant, though they have had some good players over the years that they let slip away.

My predictions for this season are as follows:

  1. Cardinals (of course!) 92-70
  2. Brewers 90-72
  3. Reds 89-73
  4. Cubs 80-82
  5. Astros 75-87
  6. Pirates 63-99 (Narrowly missing the Century mark in losses by sweeping the Reds and then being swept by the Brewers, who win the NL Wild Card)

When I started writing this particular blog post, the Cards had a full, healthy rotation, but since then Adam Wainwright has gone down with (at the time of this writing) appears to be a season ending injury. I still stand by my prediction of 92 wins, but I do not think they will get past the first round of the playoffs. Also, just for the sake of honesty, I am standing by my prediction of 92 wins and a first place finish out of a severe case of the I-Hopes.

As my Grandpa used to say to me “You’re as useless as a turkey turd on a pump handle.” I hope this blog has been at least slightly more useful than that.