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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
Lat strain again sidelines Mark Teixeira
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:54 pm ET) Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is out again Monday in Texas with a lat strain. Despite having missed eight games with the ailment, he is not expected to land on the disabled list.

Teixeira has missed 28 games, but still leads the team with 17 home runs and 48 RBI.


Aaron Hill available off the bench Monday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:53 pm ET) Diamondbacks infielder Aaron Hill may not be in the starting lineup Monday, but he is available off the bench, according to MLB.com.

Hill is dealing with a hand injury. He left Saturday's game due to the issue, and did not play Sunday. Hill is hitting .256/.291/.389 over 375 at-bats. 


Yankees make minor roster moves
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:47 pm ET) The Yankees have promoted outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and designated for assignment veteran left-hander Jeff Francis.

Almonte played for the Yankees in brief stints this season with four hits in 25 at-bats.


Noah Syndergaard will not be involved in trades
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:45 pm ET) Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard is not available for trade, according to Newsday.

With the ascension of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to the majors, Syndergaard has been the club's top pitching talent. He's taken some lumps in the minors this season, posting a 5.16 ERA and dealing with injuries, but the club is still confident in his talent. Their stance can change prior to the deadline, but it doesn't appear Syndergaard is going anywhere in the next few days. 


Report: Alfonso Soriano set to sit out season, return in 2015
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) Recently released Alfonso Soriano has told friends he will take the rest of the 2014 season off with the thought of returning to action next year, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Soriano is still being paid for the final season of an eight-year, $136 million deal he signed with the Cubs before he landed with the Yankees, who designated him for assignment on July 4.

The slugger, who has 412 career home runs, has expressed a disdain for part-time duty, which he was forced to handle this season in New York. He managed just a .221 average and six home runs in 2014 before his release.


Corey Dickerson resting Monday against lefty
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) A matchup against left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada has Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson out of the Monday lineup against the Cubs.

Dickerson, who is batting .250 against southpaws this season, has two hits in four of his last nine games with five runs scored in his last six. His stat line is an impressive .325/.390/.583.


Carlos Gonzalez back into action Monday night for Rockies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will not miss a third straight game with an ankle ailment. He's back in the lineup for the Monday game against the host Cubs.

The injury-plagued Gonzalez has not enjoyed a multi-hit game since July 12 and owns an uncharacteristically mediocre stat line of .249/.298/.444.


Phillies reportedly open to dealing Cole Hamels
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:03 pm ET) Less than a week after ESPN reported that the Phillies will not trade ace Cole Hamels, a report from Fox Sports is claiming he is indeed available for the right price and that the Dodgers are interested. That report, however, is adding that the price will be high.

Hamels has done all he can on the mound to mazimize his value. He has 14 quality starts in his last 15 outings and has yielded just 15 earned runs in his last 77 2/3 pitched.


Scooter Gennett back on the field
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:53 pm ET) A quad ailment that prevented Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett from playing the last five games will not keep him out Monday at Tampa Bay. He's in the lineup.

Gennett will seek to turn it up a notch at the plate upon his return. He comes back in a 2-for-11 slide, but has been excellent this season with a .304/.342/.480 stat line.


Chase Utley not in Monday lineup against Mets
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:46 pm ET) Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has been given the night off for the Monday game against the host Mets. Reid Brignac is set to start at that spot instead.

Utley has been hot at the plate with four multi-hit performances in the last seven games. He boasts a strong stat line of .291./.354/.433. But he has homered just once in the last five weeks.


 
 
 
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