Friday, July 10, 2009

The State of the Central: St. Louis

We're nearing the end of the our week long look at the NL Central, today's team is the St. Louis Cardinals and their awful, awful mustaches. Seriously, who thinks that would be a good idea, what's wrong with shaved heads and mullets? I guess they had to "70's porn star" it up a bit.

St. Louis Cardinals: St. Louis can't really have any complaints about the first half of their season. After taking two of three against the Brewers this week the Cards held a two game lead in the Central and sat seven games above .500. They've made a move to get better, adding Mark DeRosa and as they've gotten healthy they've gotten very, very good. They do have some holes, but everything has gone right so far.

The Good: Starting pitching has been dynamite in the first half. Led by Chris Carpenter(left), Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro their rotation boasts the best top three pitchers in the division this season. As a team St. Louis has walked less batters than any team in the National League. Closer Ryan Franklin has had an amazing first half, converting 20 of 21 saves with a .83 ERA. Offensively, Albert Pujols is on pace to have his best season yet and Colby Rasmus seems to be living up to his top prospect status, hitting .280 with 11 home runs.

The Bad: The Redbirds have had a hard time finding any consistent production out of the third base spot. Joe Thurston (.224), Brian Barden (.233) and Khalil Greene (.200) just haven't done the job. Even DeRosa went hitless in his three games with the Cardinals before getting hurt. Really, that's the only complaint one could have about St. Louis' first half.

What to Expect: Trading for DeRosa was a good move, however it may backfire entirely if he indeed does have a torn sheath in his wrist, as Brewers fans know well that can be a season ender. Kyle Lohse will be returning from injury soon and that would make an already good rotation even more formidable. As far as filling in production at third base, don't expect too many moves to be made. DeRosa was the only addition this team will be making via the trade market. If they play like they have been lately St. Louis could run away with the division (especially if no one else gets their act together).

Outlook: The Brewers have the misfortune of playing St. Louis nine times in the second half, six of which are at Busch Stadium. Based on how the last couple series have gone between these two teams the Crew would be lucky to win three of those. But, if Milwaukee can get it's act together and make a legitimate playoff run they will have to take five if not six of these games.

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