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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
Padres' Brandon Morrow dealing with more shoulder discomfort
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Padres starting pitcher Brandon Morrow will not make his scheduled rehab start Thursday for Triple-A El Paso and is returning to San Diego to be re-evaluated by the team doctor, the Padres announced Thursday.

The right-hander experienced more shoulder discomfort following his most recent bullpen session, according to U-T San Diego.


Report: Mets' Rafael Montero being re-evaluated following setback
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:52 am ET) Mets starting pitcher Rafael Montero experienced stiffness in his injured shoulder following his latest throwing session, according to the New York Post. He is getting re-evaluated.

The right-hander has made two appearances on a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League (rookie). He has tossed four scoreless innings, allowing four hits and no walks. He has five strikeouts.


Nationals' Strasburg to make at least one more start in minors
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:40 am ET) Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg came out of his rehab start Wednesday with no issues, manager Matt Williams said Thursday.

Williams added Strasburg will make another rehab start and could return to the majors after that outing, if all goes well.

Strasburg has been on the disabled list since early July due to an oblique injury.


Padres 1B Yonder Alonso gets first day off in 21 games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso received a day off Thursday against the Mets. It was the first time he was held out of the starting lineup in the last 21 games.

Alonso, who homered during Wednesday's 7-3 win, is batting .313 (10 for 32) with two doubles, two home runs, three RBI, three runs and three strikeouts in his last nine games.


Collins says Mets will ease d'Arnaud back into action upon activation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) Mets manager Terry Collins confirmed catcher Travis d'Arnaud will be activated off the disabled list Friday. Collins added d'Arnaud will be eased back into action and won't catch more than two or three games in a row.

He has been on the disabled list since June 23 due to a sprained left elbow. He has been active for only 19 games this season due to injury.


Nationals' Jayson Werth rests after starting first two games off DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:49 am ET) After starting in his first two games off the disabled list, Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth received a day off Thursday against the Marlins. Clint Robinson was in left field for the Nationals.

Werth is batting .250 (2 for 8) with one run and two strikeouts since coming off the disabled list.


Report: Mets ready to activate Travis d'Arnaud off disabled list
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:36 am ET) Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud is ready to come off the disabled list and will likely be activated prior to Friday's game against the Nationals, according to MLB.com.

D'Arnaud traveled to New York after going 1 for 5 for Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday, according to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

He has been on the disabled list since June 23 due to a sprained left elbow. He has been active for only 19 games this season due to injury.

D'Arnaud hit safely in all five games on a rehab assignment with Binghamton. He hit .300 (6 for 20) with one double, one RBI, three runs and two strikeouts.


Indians trade Brandon Moss to Cardinals for prospect Rob Kaminsky
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:18 am ET) The Indians traded outfielder Brandon Moss to the Cardinals for left-handed pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Moss is being traded for the third time in his career. He was part of a three-team trade involving the Red Sox, Pirates and Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2008 and was traded from Oakland to Cleveland in December.

The left-handed slugger is batting .217 with 15 home runs, 17 doubles and 50 RBI in 94 games. The one-time All-Star will be playing for his sixth MLB franchise. He has a career .243/.321/.452/.772 slash line.

Kaminsky was a late first-round draft pick (28th) in 2013. He is 6-5 with a 2.09 ERA in 17 starts for high Class A Palm Beach this season. He is 14-10 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 43 career appearances (40 starts) in the minors.


A's 3B Brett Lawrie busts out with four hits, four RBI on Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:01 am ET) Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie had himself quite a night at the plate against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Lawrie went 4 for 5 with a home run, two doubles, four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base.

In the fifth inning, Lawrie brought his team to with a run when he ripped an RBI double to make the score 3-2. In the seventh, he chipped in a two-run single to give the A's a 4-3 lead. And he capped off his night by launching a solo home run, his ninth of the year, in the ninth inning. It was too little too late however, as the Dodgers held on for the 10-7 win.

This was the first four-hit game and third four-RBI game of Lawrie's career. The strong showing at the dish gives Lawrie a .268 batting average over his last 10 games.


Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig hits seventh home run in win Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:54 am ET) Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig had a nice night at the plate in Wednesday's 10-7 win over the A's. Puig went 2 for 4 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored. Puig's two-run home run, his seventh of the year, gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.

He also had an RBI single in the Dodgers' five-run eighth inning, as the team rallied from behind to claim the victory.

Puig has three home runs over his last eight games, but he has just one other hit in 24 at-bats over that stretch. 


 
 
 
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