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2012 Fantasy outlooks: St. Louis Cardinals

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Sputtering into the last week of August with a record that was just four games over .500, 2011 looked like a lost season for the Cardinals. However, instead of missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, St. Louis won 23 of their final 32 games, snuck into the postseason, and captured their 11th World Series championship.

It's hard to know what was more surprising: the Cards' seven-game victory over the Rangers in the Fall Classic or Albert Pujols' decision to bolt the Gateway City for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Pujols' departure via free agency was just one tremor in an earthquake of an offseason that has rocked the Cardinals' world. Also gone are long-time skipper Tony LaRussa, who announced his retirement, and pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is taking a leave of absence. Stretch-run acquisition Edwin Jackson is no longer a part of the pitching staff, but the offseason hasn't only been about subtraction. Mike Matheny and Derek Lilliquist replaced LaRussa and Duncan, respectively, and free agent signee Carlos Beltran will replace Pujols in the lineup and shift Lance Berkman to first base.

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Perhaps the biggest addition in 2012 will be Adam Wainwright, who is expected to return after missing all of the 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. Barring a setback, he should be ready to start the year in the rotation and give the Cardinals the true ace that they lacked in 2011. The rotation will otherwise have the same look as last season with Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook all reprising their roles from a year ago. Aside from Beltran, the lineup should have a familiar feel as well, and only second base appears to be up for grabs in spring training. Converted shortstop Tyler Greene should have the upper hand in the battle for the starting role, though he will have to hold off Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumaker to win the job.

Despite an offseason of losses, the Cardinals look to be a contender yet again in 2012. After all, they aren't the only NL Central team to lose an All-Star first baseman, as Prince Fielder will head to spring training with a team other than the Brewers for the first time. They also have enough depth to weather the loss of a key regular, just as they did last year.

Sleeper ... Tyler Greene, 2B

Greene is the preseason favorite to win the starting job at second base, and he could prove to be a late bloomer. Like teammate Allen Craig, he has impressive minor league power numbers, but he's had to wait until his late 20s to get a chance at a regular role in the majors. Greene's ability to draw walks and steal bases has already translated to the majors during his limited time with the Cardinals. If he can deliver double-digit homer totals like he has in the minors, Greene will suddenly be in high demand in standard mixed leagues.

Impact 2012 prospect ... Shelby Miller, SP

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Over the last two seasons, Miller has zipped through the Cardinals' system, leaving a trail of frustrated batters in his wake. He is clearly the organization's best pitcher in the upper minors, and he may not need much more time to show that he is major-league ready. Should the front office look to ditch Kyle Lohse's or Jake Westbrook's expiring contract midseason, or should an injury arise, Miller could be called into action. With a mid-summer recall, Miller would become a hot waiver wire commodity, so especially in deeper leagues, he is worth considering as a reserve option on Draft Day.

Bust ... Kyle Lohse, SP

Coming off a 2010 season marred by forearm surgery and a 6.55 ERA, expectations were low for Lohse entering last year. However, he emerged healthy and put together his best campaign in three seasons. With a 14-8 record, 3.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, Lohse became a staple in standard mixed leagues, but he is not a strong bet to repeat his success. Lohse benefited from opponents hitting just .191 against him on ground balls, but that mark is likely to rise, especially with subpar middle infield defense behind him. Despite what his 2011 stats might suggest, owners who draft Lohse in standard mixed leagues this year will likely regret their choice.

2012 St. Louis Cardinals Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Chris Carpenter RH
2 Jon Jay CF 2 Adam Wainwright RH
3 Carlos Beltran RF 3 Jaime Garcia LH
4 Matt Holliday LF 4 Kyle Lohse RH
5 Lance Berkman 1B 5 Jake Westbrook RH
6 David Freese 3B Alt Lance Lynn RH
7 Yadier Molina C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Tyler Greene 2B CL Jason Motte RH
Top bench options SU Eduardo Sanchez RH
R Daniel Descalso INF RP Fernando Salas RH
R Skip Schumaker 2B/OF RP Marc Rzepczynski LH
R Koyie Hill C RP Kyle McClellan RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Shelby Miller 21 SP Double-A Triple-A
Miller dominated at two levels last season. He has a strong chance to contribute at the big-league level by midseason.
2 Carlos Martinez 20 SP Class A Class A
The Futures Game alum has been wild, but he's still a potential ace. Certainly worth the attention of long-term keeper league owners.
3 Zack Cox 22 3B Double-A Double-A
His power has yet to emerge, but Cox is a good gap hitter, much like the player -- David Freese -- who is blocking him in St. Louis.
4 Matthew Adams 23 1B Double-A Triple-A
Adams took advantage of a hitter-friendly ballpark in Double-A. 2012 will be a critical year for the potential 2013 starting first baseman.
5 Jordan Swagerty 22 SP Double-A Double-A
Swagerty could figure into the Cardinals' bullpen plans during the second half of 2012, and he could be a future closer.
Best of the rest: Oscar Taveras, OF; Tyrell Jenkins, SP; Kolten Wong, 2B; Trevor Rosenthal, SP; Matt Carpenter, 3B; John Gast, SP; Maikel Cleto, SP; Ryan Jackson, SS; Charlie Tilson, OF, Joe Kelly, SP; Brandon Dickson, SP; Cody Stanley, C; Thomas Pham, OF; Adron Chambers, OF; Tony Cruz, C; Mark Hamilton, OF; Pete Kozma, SS; Adam Reifer, RP.

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Player News
Reds add Kyle Waldrop, Amir Garrett to 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:29 pm ET) The Reds have added Kyle Waldrop and Amir Garrett to the 40-man roster.

Waldrop is a former first round draft pick with the Twins. Garrett posted a 3.64 ERA over 133 1/3 innings at Class A. 


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(6:14 pm ET) The Dodgers have added three players to the 40-man roster on Thursday.

Zach Lee , Chris Reed and Scott Schebler all had their contracts purchased. All three players will now be ineligible for the Rule-5 draft. 


Diamondbacks shore up 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:10 pm ET) The Diamondbacks have shored up their 40-man roster Thursday.

The team purchased the contract of pitcher Kevin Munson and A.J. Schugel . Both players are now unavailable for the Rule-5 draft. In order to make room on the roster, the team designated Mike Bolsinger and Charles Brewer for assignment. 


Pirates claim Pedro Florimon from Nationals
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:32 pm ET) The Pirates have claimed infielder Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Nationals.

Florimon didn't see much time in the majors last season, receiving just 76 at-bats. He hit just .092 between the Twins and Nationals. The 27-year-old will join his fourth franchise in six seasons. 


Mets put Noah Syndergaard, five others on 40-man roster
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) The Mets placed six pitchers to their 40-man roster, including highly-touted prospect Noah Syndergaard, reports The Star-Ledger. New York also added pitchers Cory Mazzoni, Hansel Robles, Gabriel Ynoa, Akeel Morris and Jack Leathersich.

Pitcher Jeff Walters, who's recovering from Tommy John surgery, was removed from the 40-man roster.


Mariners claim pitcher Edgar Olmos off waivers from Marlins
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) The Mariners claimed pitcher Edgar Olmos off waivers from the Marlins on Thursday. Olmos, 24, went 3-3 with three saves and a 4.06 ERA in 51 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

Jays' GM: Happ penciled in as No. 5 SP, but Sanchez will be SP depth
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:57 pm ET) Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday starting pitcher J.A. Happ is penciled in to the final spot in the team's rotation as of late November, according to MLB Network Radio.

However, he added the team wants prospect Aaron Sanchez to remain stretched out as a starter in the spring.


Nats add four, subtract one from 40-man roster
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:55 pm ET) The Nationals put pitchers A.J. Cole and Matt Grace, infielder Wilmer Difo and outfielder Brian Goodwin on their 40-man roster and outrighted reliever Ryan Mattheus, who becomes a free agent, reports CSNWashington.com.

Orioles add pitchers Wilson, Wright to 40-man roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:54 pm ET) The Orioles announced Thursday they added pitchers Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright to the 40-man roster.

Wilson split the 2014 season between Double-A and Triple-A, going 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 28 starts (166 2/3 innings). Wright was 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A.


GM: Blue Jays have talked with Melky, but 'not close to anything'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday he has talked with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, but "right now, we're not close to anything," according to MLB Network Radio. Anthopoulos added they would like to re-sign Cabrera.

CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported Thursday the White Sox are the latest team to show interest in Cabrera and could consider pursuing the veteran outfielder in free agency. Cabrera hit .301 with 16 home runs, 35 doubles and 73 RBI in 139 games in 2014.


 
 
 
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