2012Predictions

5 Piquant Predictions for the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals open the MLB season (in the US) on Wednesday against the Miami Marlins in their sterling new balpark. They end their spring tranining with an exhibition game agains the Springfield minor league affiliate tonight in rural Missouri. That means it’s time to bust out the predictions for 2012. 

As always, these prognostications are not for the faint of heart. In fact, a few might sting. But all WILL happen.

The Cardinals will trade for a middle infielder before August 1.

Fucal and Greene? Really? That’s who we’re going with all year ?

I don’t think so. Greene might know the trip from Memphis to St. Louis better than any Cardinals player in the history of the franchise. And Furcal between stints being banged up this spring, decided to not unpack his bat and contribute to the offense.

The Cardinals are basically throwing two semi – Hail Mary’s out there to anchor the middle of the infield in 2012 and they both won’t work out. At least one won’t. Maybe both won’t. Regardless, the Cardinals will be in the race for the NL Central and are going to need some help.

Asdrubal Cabrera anyone? 

David Freese will not live up to expectations.

It’s not his fault. But the memory of October 2011 is seared into our brains. The picture of him kneeling on third base is now iconic. And we’re setting ourselves up for a massive let down with the hometown hero.

David Freese has never played more than 100 games in a major league season. Before last year, his record high for GP was 70. It’s not an insignificant jump from 100 to 130 or 140 games played and one of the big reasons that minor league players tend to fade down the stretch run in the majors. Couple that with the fact that we’re pretty much counting on him to be in the same stratosphere of clutch this season as last post-season and I think that David Freese’s expectations are not only too high, but probable for disappointment.

He took full advantage of his new found fame this offseason. From GQ shoots to CMA award presenting. From cameos on NCAA basketball games to multiple team-sanctioned events. Hell, he even went on the Joe Sports Fan pod.  While we can’t begrudge a guy taking advantage of his situation, it does ripen the prospect of a backlash if his slow spring training carries over to the regular season.

Regardless, the bar has been set crazy high. For him to clear it, he’d have to essentially channel Albert Pujols for a year. Friends, we’re all pulling for David… but he’ll even tell you that’s unlikely.

Speaking of…

Albert Pujols will not be missed.

Cardinal fans have compartmentalized well. Sans the occasional cover story here or there on Albert, the chatter has dissipated on the internets. Seeing as most of El Hombre’s games will still be going on when Cardinal Nation goes to sleep, the highlights will be around, just not abundant. The team in St. Louis will be competing for a division title again without him. Add it all up and I think it’s safe to say we wish him well… thanks for the memories… and we’ll be fine without you.

Admittedly, it didn’t look like we’d get to this point so soon.

The birds on the bat has been resilient before and is being resilient again. Dude needed to get paid and left. Wish he wouldn’t have been a bitch and said it wasn’t about getting paid, but he’s the one that has to live with that. We know what we gave the guy for 11 seasons. Now we’re looking ahead to a pretty promising season in 2012. Can’t say I wouldn’t rather have #5 over at first base. But then again, it’s not bothering me as much as I thought that we don’t.

Maybe we’ll have a flare up now and then… but St. Louis has forgotten about Pujols with much more ease than expected.

Mike Matheny lands in the top 3 for AP Manager of the Year.

He’s not going to win because people will punish him for taking over a Championship team. What they won’t remember is that the Cardinals won 90 games and squeaked into a Wild Card berth. They were a few breaks away from being a .500 team, so the truth is somewhat obscured by the gleam off the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Coach Mike will lead the team to a division title though. And he’s going to get this team to 90 wins after losing an All-World player anchoring the middle of the line-up. Oh, and that crank-ass shit that TLR got away with because he was TLR? That’s gone. Coach Mike knows how to work the press room and the guys that were stonewalled from the Cardinals the past 16 years suddenly getting access they’ve craved?

That’s going to get him the votes he needs to be a finalist.

The Cardinals win the 2012 World Series.

And they do it against the Los Angeles Angels.

Why not, right? Why the hell not.

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