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PostPosted: April 5 18, 8:50 am 
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Joined: April 17 06, 9:16 pm
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Location: No. 16 on the Cards Top 15 Prospect List
So, we have set aside the offseason didn't do's, shoulda dones, and mighta beens. Home opener is here and we've had about a week of real baseball already to get a glimpse of what this team is. Plus, there was spring training fake baseball, which tells us almost nothing, but it is something more than nothing at all. Balls have been flying. Mitts have been popping. Bats have been swinging. We've gotten to see this team play ball a little, and I think I can say that I have at least an initial feel for what this team is.

And my gut tells me that we're good. Maybe very good.

As I think back through my concerns and frustrations over the offseason, most of it centered around regressions. Is DeJong going to be another Diaz? How far down will Ozuna fall? Was what we saw from Weaver real? Who in the world is this Mikolas guy and why does Mo seem to trust him so much? What will Pham do with a full season? I could go on. There were (and still are) reasonable concerns with roster stalwarts, too, like Carpenter, Wong, Molina, Wainwright and Wacha. The bullpen looked pretty rough in the offseason. Especially before we snagged Leone, Norris, and Holland.

We haven't answered all those questions decisively yet, but after watching many of these guys through the spring and a week into the season, I'm ready to make a few statements based on initial impressions.
1) DeJong is going to be just fine. Not basing that on his hot start; he looks comfortable defensively (despite still showing a lack of range) and the power just isn't going to go away.
2) Ozuna sure looks real. I don't think he'll duplicate his stats from last year, but he's a serious hitter and looks sharp defensively. This is the kind of player we've been missing since Holliday left his prime.
3) Jose Martinez is going to be hard to get out of the lineup. He's the same hitter he was last year; a potential All-Star hitter for us. Unbelievable story. He'll be a defensive nightmare, though.
4) Starting pitching will be just fine. Mikolas is going to be spotty, based entirely on his command, but overall solid. Weaver is a legit impact arm. Flaherty will push AW and that spot will work itself out. Martinez and Wacha are known commodities. The combination of that group might add up to one of the better staffs in the NL.
5) It's going to take awhile for the bullpen to sort itself out, but it will eventually be a strength. Holland, Hicks, Norris, Lyons and Leone can all be good to great performers out there.

I'm starting to think that 90 wins is the baseline for this club, and if they hold together (few devestating injuries), they could surpass that mark. If one or two things go really right -- Pham remaining an MVP caliber hitter; Ozuna duplicating his season; DeJong being the best hitting SS in baseball; Weaver getting Cy Young consideration, etc. -- then we could catch the Cubs. Looking at this club and the kinds of players they are, I think it's more likely that a few things will go really right than a few things will go really wrong, and I would have argued the opposite was true in January. But, that's why our eyes (you could say scouting) are still part of the equation; stats alone don't tell us everything.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 9:23 am 
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tl;dr

Joined: May 21 09, 12:41 pm
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I'll hold off on the Weaver getting Cy Young consideration but I am high on the kid and excited about his future in the rotation.

Not much else to argue with for me so I had to nit pick. It is amazing how much higher I am on this team than I was even a month ago. I'm feeling pretty good about the Cards right now. Heck, they are already off to a better start than last year at least. I think they were 3-9 at one point and I don't see them losing six in a row.

I'm simple. Doesn't take much to make me happy.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 9:24 am 
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Everday Unicorn
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Joined: April 21 06, 10:14 am
Posts: 34585
Location: Austin, TX
I tend to agree with you, Fat. It's amazing how much deeper this lineup is today than it was at this point a year ago. I'm even a believer that Wong will wind up with numbers closer to 2017 before all is said and done can be a valuable player again (.376 OBP, .788 OPS)

And look at the additions we will have in the next month or so:

Gregerson
Reyes
Gyorko
Holland


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 9:26 am 
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Perennial All-Star
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Joined: October 8 14, 11:41 am
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Thanks for writing up your reflections so far, Fat. I'm feeling increasingly bullish as well. Time and consistency will be the judges of some promising signs from question marks entering the season, but at a minimum I think we have a clearer picture of what the ceiling could be. Fowler-Pham-Carpenter-Ozuna-Martinez is ridiculous and Molina-DeJong on the backend of that is solid. If the bullpen can get straightened out, these guys should score enough runs to keep even a mediocre rotation afloat and push us towards the higher end of projections.

Opening the season with NYM, MIL, and ARI, with CHC and NYM mixed in among some series with the lowly Reds, is a real test. If we get to the end of April above .500 I'll be pretty optimistic about what the summer might look like.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 9:32 am 
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darjeeling sipping elite
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Joined: October 17 06, 11:19 am
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Location: Huis Clos
It’s almost time for the old “when did you last feel this good about the Cards?” thread.


I’ll see myself out.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 9:41 am 
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'Burb Boy
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Joined: July 9 06, 11:33 am
Posts: 19674
Location: Out of the Loop
The first four series against teams in the same boat as us will be a good barometer. So far, we are .500.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 9:43 am 
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I like our lineup but I'm concerned that our starting rotation as a whole isn't going to go deep into games very often, leading to overuse of the bullpen. Combined with Matheny's tendency to lean on a few key arms, that could be a serious issue as the season goes on.

CMart's start yesterday alleviates that worry a little bit. It would mean a lot if Waino can give us 6 innings/game without getting lit up.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 10:00 am 
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Master of Hyperbole
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Joined: December 1 17, 11:05 am
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Too quick to judge DeJong on small samples. I know he has a walk already but I won't feel good about him until his walk rate is at least > 6% over a whole year. And his defense is still average. He plays what's hit to him. But no range.

Carlos is good. I think the one from last night sticks around.

Jose Martinez will probably put up a 2014 Albert Pujols type year.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 10:23 am 
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Hall Of Famer

Joined: December 20 07, 2:45 pm
Posts: 20097
Team has met my expectations so far.....good line up, good rotation, highly questionable bullpen.


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PostPosted: April 5 18, 11:18 am 
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Perennial All-Star

Joined: June 5 06, 10:01 am
Posts: 9978
Felix The Cat wrote:
I like our lineup but I'm concerned that our starting rotation as a whole isn't going to go deep into games very often, leading to overuse of the bullpen. Combined with Matheny's tendency to lean on a few key arms, that could be a serious issue as the season goes on.


This is my view. Has been all winter.


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