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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
Report: Mets acquire RP Addison Reed from Diamondbacks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:37 pm ET) The Mets have added reliever Addison Reed in a trade from Arizona, pending a physical, per MLB.com.

Reed owns a 4.20 ERA on the year, but has performed better recently. He has allowed just two runs in his last 14 2/3 innings and has pitched scoreless ball in 11 of his last 12 appearances.


Giants SP Ryan Vogelsong collapses in fifth to take defeat
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:28 pm ET) Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong continued to pitch his way out of the rotation Saturday against St. Louis.

Vogelsong cruised for four innings before falling apart in the fifth by giving up a triple, two singles and a walk. The bullpen completed the collapse as the Giants fell behind 4-0 and never recovered. He finished having allowed all four runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

He has given up seven runs on 14 hits over his last eight innings to raise his ERA to 4.19.


Mets' Jacob deGrom strikes out 10 in loss to Red Sox
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7:27 pm ET) Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom was firing on all cylinders during his start against the Red Sox on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to earn a victory.

deGrom allowed two runs on four hits in six strong innings of work. He struck out 10 batters and allowed just two walks in the loss. At one point, deGrom had a no-hitter through four innings.

With the loss, deGrom dropped to 12-7 on the season with a 2.32 ERA.


Red Sox RP Jean Machi closes out ninth, earns third save
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7:24 pm ET) Red Sox reliever Jean Machi closed out the ninth inning of his team's win over the Mets on Saturday with ease.

Machi didn't allow a walk or a hit in the ninth as he put away New York in the 3-1 victory.

Machi lowered his ERA to 5.21 in 46 2/3 innings this season.


Red Sox SP Joe Kelly tosses gem against Mets
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7:22 pm ET) Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly was very impressive during his start against the Mets on Saturday.

Kelly allowed just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out two batters and allowed a pair of walks.

With the win, Kelly improved to 8-6 on the season with a 4.94 ERA.


Ankle injury forces Cardinals SP Lance Lynn out of game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:52 pm ET) Cardinals standout starter Lance Lynn rolled his right ankle trying to make a play in the eighth inning Saturday against the Giants and was removed from the game, per the San Francisco Chronicle. He was later diagnosed with a mild sprain.

Lynn made an off-balance throw to first on what resulted in an infield single.

He at least received the pleasure of raising his record to 11-8 after throwing seven shutout innings. Lynn allowed just six hits and two walks while whiffing two.

Lynn has given up only four runs in his last 19 2/3 innings after a disastrous outing against Pittsburgh.


Royals RF Alex Rios (illness) scratched from lineup on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:57 pm ET) Royals right fielder Alex Rios has been scratched from Saturday's lineup due to an illness. Jarrod Dyson will take his place in right field against the Rays.

The severity of Rios' illness had not been made clear.


Royals RP Ryan Madson dealing with extreme case of dead arm
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:47 pm ET) Royals relief pitcher Ryan Madson is dealing with a significant case of dead arm, according to The Kansas City Star.

Madson has not pitched since Aug. 22 because of severe soreness in his right arm.


Weiss: Kyle Kendrick to return and start Tuesday vs. D-backs
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:44 pm ET) Rockies manager Walt Weiss announced that right-hander Kyle Kendrick will come off of the disabled list and start one of the games in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Diamondbacks, according to The Denver Post.

Kendrick's last start came on July 31, and he has been on the DL ever since due to right shoulder inflammation. 


Padres OF Wil Myers (wrist) likely to begin rehab on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:38 pm ET) Padres outfielder Wil Myers is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday. Myers has missed the majority of the season due to a wrist injury that required surgery back in June. 

Myers has played just 35 games in 2015, his first with the Padres. It is not yet known how many rehab games Myers will require before being ready to return to the Padres.


 
 
 
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