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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
Astros' Chris Carter hits second home run of season Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) Astros first baseman Chris Carter belted his second home run of the season during Monday's 9-4 win over the Padres.

Carter connected on a solo shot off Brandon Maurer in the seventh inning. The home run was Carter's only hit in the game. He finished the game 1 for 5 with three strikeouts.


Astros SP Collin McHugh receives no-decision Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:51 am ET) Despite producing six solid innings of work, it was not enough to earn Astros pitcher Collin McHugh a win during Monday's victory over the Padres.

McHugh tossed six innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. He also struck out five batters, while walking none. His ERA now stands at 2.92.

The no-decision was the first time this season McHugh (3-0) failed to record a win for his efforts.

His next projected start will be Saturday against the Mariners.


Padres SP James Shields strikes out 12 in loss Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:49 am ET) Despite striking out 12 batters in just six innings Monday, it was not enough for Padres pitcher James Shields to earn a win.

Shields (2-0) tossed six innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits during Monday's 9-4 loss to the Dodgers. The 12 strike outs were a season high for Shields. He also walked one batter and gave up a solo home run to Jed Lowrie in the fourth inning. He received a no-decsion and his ERA now stands at 2.90

His next scheduled start will be Sunday against the Rockies.


Astros LF Colby Rasmus collects three RBI during Monday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus drove in three runs to help lead the Astros to a 9-4 win over the Padres on Monday.

Rasmus was 2 for 5 during the game. One of the hits was his third home run of the season when he connected off reliever Cory Mazzoni on a two-run shot in the ninth inning.

Rasmus has collected two hits in each of his last three games. He is now hitting .273.


Astros SS Jed Lowrie suffers right thumb injury Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie was forced to leave Monday's game against the Padres after sustaining a right thumb injury, the team announced.

Lowrie suffered the injury while sliding into home plate. He was replaced by Marwin Gonzalez.

Lowrie was 2 for 3 with a home run before leaving with the injury. The home run was his fourth of the season and came off James Shields in the fourth inning.

Lowrie will fly back to Houston to have an MRI conducted on the thumb Tuesday, reports the Houston Chronicle


Dodgers' Joc Pederson, Justin Turner go deep Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:26 am ET) Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and infielder Justin Turner each connected on a home run Monday to help lead the Dodgers to a 8-3 victory over the Giants.

Pederson hit a solo shot off George Kontos in the sixth inning for his third home run of the season. Pederson also doubled to finish the game 2 for 3 with two RBI.

Meanwhile, Turner broke the game open in the eighth inning when he connected on a three-run home run off Yusmeiro Petit. Turner was pinch hitting when he belted the home run. It was his first of the season.


Rockies' Justin Morneau homers in win over Diamondbacks
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(1:20 am ET) Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau hit his second home run of the season in Monday night's 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks. 

Morneau hit a three-run homer in the first inning that also scored Corey Dickerson and Troy Tulowitzki. Morneau finished the game 2 for 3 with three RBI and a run scored. He also drew a walk. 

Morneau is now hitting .297/.338/.438. 


Dodgers Brett Anderson fails to go five innings Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:19 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson was one out shy of completing five innings of work during Monday's win over the Giants. As a result, Anderson earned a no-decision for his effort.

Anderson (1-1) got the first two outs of the fifth inning, but then surrendered a walk and three-consecutive hits before being pulled for the game. It was his second-straight start failing to pitch at least five innings. His ERA now stands at 5.49.

His next projected start will be Sunday against the Diamondbacks.


Giants SP Tim Lincecum struggles in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:17 am ET) Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum failed to pitch past the fourth inning in Monday's loss to the Dodgers.

Lincecum allowed four runs on eight hits over four innings to earn the loss. He struck out two batters and walked three.

Lincecum (1-2) ran into trouble during the third inning, when all four runs against him were scored. Lincecum surrendered five hits and one walk during the inning. He retired the side in the fourth inning, but was pulled after that.

His next projected start is Sunday against the Angels.


Rockies' Corey Dickerson gets 3 hits in Monday's win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(1:16 am ET) Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson went 3 for 5 in Monday night's 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks. 

Dickerson recorded an RBI and scored a run of his own. He now has 15 RBI for the season. Dickerson is now batting a slash line of .338/.384/.632. 


 
 
 
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