#6. The St. Louis Cardinals
Most Valuable Position Player: Yadier Molina
Breakout Candidate: David Freese (after he returns from injury)
Notable Offseason Additions:none
Notable Offseason Losses: Kyle Lohse, Raphael Furcal (Injury), David Freese (Injury)
Biggest Team Weakness: Shortstop
It was a real toss up between the Cardinals and Reds, but I give the edge to the Cards because of their playoff track record and team overall depth. St. Louis wasn’t able to repeat as World Champions in 2012, but did make it back to the NLCS without superstar Albert Pujols and longtime manager Tony La Russa. New manager Mike Matheny was able to replace Pujols’ production with a cast of new faces, lead by veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran. Young outfielders Jon Jay and Allen Craig were surprisingly effective, and Craig is expected to make huge strides this year. Raphael Furcal also had a bounce back year until an injury in late August ended his season. And Yadier Molina, known as being the best defensive catcher in the league, had a breakout offensive season with a huge power surge.
But this year the injury bug has already hit the Cards. Furcal is still out and will need to be replaced by untested shortstops Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso. Chris Carpenter is expected to miss the entire season again, meaning either Lance Lynn or Jaime Garcia will have to fill in the number two spot in the rotation. Closer Jason Motte and 3rd baseman David Freeze are expected to start the season on the DL and lining the team up for a slow start. Luckily they have a nice chunk of young prospects, and if they have to, the Cardinals can get a few of them some experiences during the early goings of the year.