The biggest story heading into the St. Louis Cardinals 2012 season was whether they could survive in a post-Albert Pujols world. Well, it turns out that the Cardinals were more than just one superstar, as they came within a series of making it to the World Series before being knocked off by the San Francisco Giants.
But the moral of the story was, this is a team that is deep and a team that knows how to win even if it loses a major talent like Pujols. So the objective of the 2013 campaign will be to not only copy the success from last year, but build on it by a few games and make it back to the World Series, this time without Pujols and without the aid of a superstar.
Best Case Scenario
We get more of the same from this 2013 Cardinals team and they return to the postseason once again. Only, this time the Cardinals win the NL Central and return to October baseball as division winners, tearing through their divisional and championship series matchups to finally get back to the World Series. Big seasons are had by everyone in the lineup, but all eyes are on starter Adam Wainwright, who not only makes his new contract extension look like a bargain, but he garners serious Cy Young consideration for the way he tears through the Cardinals season.
Worst Case Scenario
The injuries catch up with the Cardinals and they end up missing Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal more than they thought they would. But the biggest blow is the fact that closer Jason Motte doesn’t return until late-May and isn’t the same guy until late-August when he’s fighting to get back into the closer role he lost over the summer. The lineup does what it can, as does Wainwright, but the Cardinals struggle to make a postseason bid and lose in the wild card round of the NL playoffs.
Most Likely to Happen
Wainwright is an ace, the lineup does what it’s supposed to do for most of the season and the injuries aren’t harsh to the Cardinals at all. Jason Motte returns and quickly becomes one of the best closers in 2013, racking up saves on the Cardinals way back to the postseason. They don’t quite make it to the World Series, but they show that their 2012 run to the NLCS wasn’t a fluke and that they can still be considered October fixtures in baseball.
The team as generally remained that same at it’s core as it was last season, which means if you doubted them in 2012, doing so again in 2013 is a really bad idea.