Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: St. Louis Cardinals

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

The St. Louis Cardinals finished 2013 with the best record in baseball (tied with the Red Sox), winning 97 games and finishing in the top four in batting average (.269), runs scored (783) and doubles (322). And that offense actually upgraded (or at least treaded water) in the offseason, with the loss of Carlos Beltran offset by the addition of Jhonny Peralta and promotion of Matt Adams to full-time first baseman.

This roster is chock full of Fantasy goodness. Close your eyes and point to a player and you have a case for relevance in most standard Fantasy leagues. The Cardinals are especially fun in that they have a little something for everyone:

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

Do you enjoy a power hitter fully capable of carrying a high average, with corner infield eligibility and the first name "Matt"? Then try Matt Holliday (.300 average, 22 home runs in 2013) or Matt Adams (.284 average, 17 home runs in just 296 at-bats)! Would you like a high batting average coupled with the hope of some power? Yadier Molina (.319 average in 2013) and Allen Craig (.315 average in 2013) could both fit neatly. Both players have their 20-plus home run seasons in 2012 sandwiched between home run seasons of 11 and 13 (in Craig's case) and 14 and 12 (Molina). Is the power real or an aberration? You'll have to wait until the end of this season to know for sure.

Kolten Wong is a top prospect who will get a crack at full-time at-bats. Matt Carpenter is a run-scoring machine. The winner of the Peter Bourjos/Jon Jay competition should offer some run production, steals (more for Bourjos than Jay) and decent average. And Peralta makes for an interesting Fantasy asset, with potential in average and power, but a huge question mark hanging over his head thanks to a 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension in 2013. Either Peralta becomes a tremendous value pick or a wasted shell of his former self. There's really very little precedent for this.

The rotation is one of the strongest in baseball, and may actually improve on the 3.42 team ERA from 2013 (which was fifth-best in the majors). Adam Wainwright is a borderline top five option at starting pitcher, while Shelby Miller (15 wins, 3.06 ERA, 8.8 K/9 in 2013) and Michael Wacha (2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 over 64 2/3 innings last season) are young studs ready to take the next step in Fantasy value. After those three, though, things get interesting. Lance Lynn may be one of the game's most underappreciated starters (more on him later), while Joe Kelly put up better numbers last season than most people may realize (2.69 ERA and 10 wins over 124 innings). Jaime Garcia pitched just 55 1/3 innings in 2013 before shoulder surgery in May. He'll be in the mix for that last spot -- and is on track to be ready for spring training -- but is more of a late-round gamble in deeper (14-plus teams) mixed Roto leagues thanks to the unfortunate (for Garcia) one-two punch of injury uncertainty and several viable starting candidates.

The perfect segue to the bullpen outlook is Carlos Martinez. Although he has expressed his desire to be a starter, there may not be room for the 22-year old. He'll likely be in the starting mix early in spring training, but is probably slated for bullpen duty -- taking over the eighth-inning role manned last year by Trevor Rosenthal, who will now serve as closer. Rosenthal thrived in the bullpen last season, striking out 108 batters in 75 1/3 innings, with a 2.63 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He'll likely be drafted among the first six or seven closers and should fall into the Kenley Jansen/Greg Holland category of high-strikeout, low-ratio elite options. And for Fantasy players in holds leagues, Martinez could be a tremendous sleeper.

The Cardinals are primed to make another run at the National League title, and have a ton of Fantasy value on the roster. And the risk -- outside of trying to figure out whether Molina/Craig will hit 15 home runs or 21 -- is relatively low. Even the younger players taking on significant roles carry less risk than those in similar situations in other leagues -- Wong was brought up at a nice pace, Adams has proven he can hit in the majors and Rosenthal is downright nasty as a reliever. St. Louis may not have that first- or second-round stud, but the following several rounds should be dotted with plenty of Cardinals.

Breakout... Trevor Rosenthal, relief pitcher

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Matt Carpenter 3B
2. Peter Bourjos CF
3. Matt Holliday LF
4. Allen Craig RF
5. Matt Adams 1B
6. Yadier Molina C
7. Jhonny Peralta SS
8. Kolten Wong 2B
Bench Jon Jay CF
Bench Mark Ellis 2B

There's an argument to be made Rosenthal broke out last season, with a 2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 108 strikeouts over 75 1/3 innings. But Rosenthal recorded just three saves in 2013 -- with all of them coming in what was essentially emergency duty in September, as Edward Mujica dealt with late-season soreness. With Mujica now gone (to Boston), the closer role falls to Rosenthal -- a converted starter who has excelled in a bullpen role. Rosenthal finished last season with the 20th-highest K/9 in the majors, but that includes several pitchers who barely threw a total inning all year. If you whittle that list down to those who threw 50 or more innings, Rosenthal had the sixth-highest K/9. And the five pitchers ahead of him were all elite closers. When the dust settles on the 2014 season, Rosenthal should end up having firmly placed himself in the top tier of closers. If you approach his value in the context of what he did last season -- and then add 40-plus saves -- Rosenthal may end up being one of the season's best Fantasy bargains.

Underappreciated... Lance Lynn, starting pitcher

Lance Lynn has a 3.88 ERA and 33 wins over the last two seasons. In 2013, Lynn pitched 201 2/3 innings, striking out 198 batters. On any other team, a pitcher who can go 200 innings with a sub-3.75 ERA (his BABIP was high, his xFIP was low and just his general progression as a pitcher suggests he should drop below that line in 2014) and a strikeout per inning would be a third -- possibly second -- starter. But the Cardinals have several options for the back end of the rotation, and Lynn isn't guaranteed a spot. I'll be approaching Lynn as if he's entering 2014 as the team's No. 4, with a projected Fantasy finish among the top 50 starters. But this idea that Lynn will work out of the bullpen should send his value on a death spiral, meaning Lynn's stats could be had for pennies on the dollar. If/when he's announced as a starter, the discount will disappear. But for drafts that happen before Lynn has a spot officially locked up, there's a tremendous bargain to be had here and it only requires a tiny bit of faith and finger-crossing.

Impact prospect... Kolten Wong, second base

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Adam Wainwright RHP
2. Shelby Miller RHP
3. Michael Wacha RHP
4. Lance Lynn RHP
5. Jaime Garcia LHP
ALT Joe Kelly RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Trevor Rosenthal RHP
2. Carlos Martinez RHP
3. Seth Maness RHP
4. Randy Choate LHP
5. Kevin Siegrist LHP

In 59 at-bats last season, Kolten Wong hit .153, with three steals and a double. This was a far cry from what Wong had done in the minors -- a .301 batting average over 1,120 at-bats, with two seasons (out of three) with 20 or more steals. The Cardinals brought him along at a patient pace -- Wong spent a season in Class-A, another in Double-A and then played 107 games at Triple-A in 2012, before the callup. This winter, St. Louis traded David Freese to the Angels, allowing Matt Carpenter to move to third, opening up second base for Wong. Mark Ellis is on the roster as a backup, but this job is Wong's to lose, essentially. And he's looking like he could be Carpenter-esque (solid average, good doubles total, not a ton of power), with more speed, but without the huge runs scored numbers that Carpenter got from batting leadoff. If anything, Wong's numbers last year should help push his draft position down far enough to make him a nice mid-to-late round value pick on Draft Day.

Prospects Report

For as good as Wong is, the top prospect in the Cardinals' system is 21-year-old Oscar Taveras, who has a .320 career minor league average and .895 OPS, but is coming off a season cut short by an ankle injury (and eventual surgery). He can play any of the three outfield positions (although should eventually settle in as a centerfielder), and may force his way onto the Cardinals' roster by June -- an arrival that could be hastened if injury strikes any of the regulars. He's worth a bench spot in deeper mixed Roto formats. ... Stephen Piscotty has played two seasons in the minors after being selected in the first round of the 2012 draft, and has hit .295 in each. He hit 15 home runs and stole 11 bases in 112 games between Class A and Double-A last season. The outfielder is still a couple years away, but is worth a dynasty league selection. ... Xavier Scruggs won't hit for average, but he has a huge power bat, with four straight seasons of 20-plus home runs. Unfortunately, he plays the same position as Matt Adams, so there's currently no spot in the majors for him. But expect Scruggs -- who had a career high 82 walks last season -- to at least level up to Triple-A in 2014, where he could see 30-plus homers in the hitter-friendly PCL. ... If the minor leagues weren't labyrinthine and confusing enough, the Cardinals' system -- which, up until a few years ago, featured a promising pitcher named Marco Gonzalez -- now features a promising pitcher named Marco Gonzales. The soon-to-be 22-year-old was taken in the first round of the 2013 draft and finished the season with a 2.70 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 23 1/3 innings. Having pitched three years in college, Gonzales -- who won the John Olerud Award for his stellar play on offense and as a pitcher -- could pull a Michael Wacha and make an appearance in the majors this season, although probably not with anywhere near the impact of Wacha.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Orioles CF Adam Jones improves after scary collision
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) The Orioles appear likely to have dodged a bullet in regard to center fielder Adam Jones, who left the game Thursday in Kansas City after bashing into the wall chasing a ball hit by Ben Zobrist.

X-rays on Jones were negative, per MLB.com. Buck Showalter declared after the game that Jones was feeling better. How he's feeling Friday will determine if he can play in the series opener at Texas.


Bad stretch dooms Orioles SP Chris Tillman in Kansas City
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:56 pm ET) The swoon continued Thursday for Orioles starter Chris Tillman. The hope for a second-half surge that appeared quite possible earlier this month has faded away.

Tillman was rolling merrily along for three innings in Kansas City before giving up four runs over the next three. He finished having given up nine hits while walking one and whiffing one. The loss evened his record to 9-9.

He allowed one hit in each of those first three innings, then two doubles, single and sacrifice fly put two runs on the board in the fourth. Two singles resulted in another run in the fifth and a Paulo Orlando homer in the sixth all but drove him from the game.

Tillman has yielded 14 runs over his last 22 innings to raise his ERA to 4.58.


Marlon Byrd powers Giants to victory over Cubs on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:49 pm ET) New Giants outfielder Marlon Byrd came through with another big hit, as he led the way to the 9-1 victory over the Cubs on Thursday. Byrd had just one hit on the day, but it was a three-run home run in the third inning to give the Giants a 5-1 lead.

This was Byrd's second home run in six games since coming over to the Giants in a trade earlier this month. It was also his 21st home run overall this season, which is four shy of his career-high, which was set last season.


Royals SP Yordano Ventura powers past Orioles
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:45 pm ET) It took about four months, but Royals flamethrower Yordano Ventura has finally found himself on the mound. The Orioles paid for it Thursday.

Ventura was dealing. He racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts in six shutout innings. He allowed just two hits and walked four in raising his record to 9-7.

He walked two and struck out the side in the first, then really settled down. He retired seven in a row at one point and 10 of the last 12 batters he faced.

Ventura has given up just three runs over his last 25 innings and has won his last five decisions. His ERA has shrunk to 4.41, its lowest point since May 31.


Giants rookie Kelby Tomlinson goes grand for first MLB home run
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:44 pm ET) Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson unloaded the bases with one swing of the bat on Thursday. The rookie Tomlison launched his first-career home run for a grand slam, as the Giants beat the Cubs 9-1.

Tomlinson, who was a 12th-round draft pick by the Giants in 2011, has been productive since his callup after Joe Panik went down with an injury. Tomlinson has been playing nearly everyday since being promoted at the beginning of August, and he is batting .346 (18 for 52). 


Cubs SP Dan Haren doomed by one bad inning in loss to Giants
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:40 pm ET) Dan Haren's struggles with the Cubs continued on Thursday. The right-hander did not fare well in his start against the Giants, allowing five runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four in the 9-1 Cubs' loss.

Haren (8-9, 3.90 ERA) was given an early 1-0 lead in the second inning, but he allowed the Giants to tie the game in the bottom half. The big inning came in the third, when the Giants tacked on four more, including a three-run home run by Marlon Byrd.

The 6 1/3 innings represents Haren's longest outing since joining the Cubs at the July 31 trade deadline. In five starts with the Cubs, Haren is 1-2 with a 6.33 ERA. 


Braves release injured RP Jason Frasor
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:35 pm ET) The Braves have released veteran reliever Jason Frasor, who was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 4 with a right shoulder strain.

Frasor had performed well before going down. He finished his stint with 6 1/3 scoreless innings and 1.29 ERA on the year with Kansas City and Atlanta.


Madisom Bumgarner cranks out a dozen strikeouts in Giants' win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:31 pm ET) Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was in fine form and was given plenty of run support, as the Giants topped the Cubs 9-1 on Thursday. The big left-hander allowed one run on two hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out 12, which helped elevate his pitch counto its final mark of 98 (62 strikes).

Bumgarner (16-6, 2.97 ERA) did what he does best and pretty much mowed down a rather tough Cubs' lineup. The only run he allowed came on an RBI double in the second inning, which actually gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. But the Giants were able to rally back, while Bumgarner kept his team in the game.

In the month of August, Bumgarner won all five of his starts, posting a 1.44 ERA. He struck out at least 12 batters three times in those five outings.


Marlins targeting two-week return for SP Jose Fernandez
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:26 pm ET) Marlins young stud starter Jose Fernandez provided some good news Thursday with a sterling bullpen session that has the team optimistic he could be back in action within two weeks, per the Miami Herald.

Fernandez has been out for three weeks with a biceps strain. His season has been limited by injury to eight starts.

"I think it went something like, wow," Dan Jennings said of the 30-pitch BP session. "I talked to (trainer Sean Cunningham) and he said it was very impressive. He said he's right on track, looks good, jumped out of his hand."

Fernandez will likely throw one more bullpen before a simulation game and return to the mound in a game.


Cardinals LF Stephen Piscotty out Thursday for first time in month
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:18 pm ET) Hot-hitting Cardinals left fielder Stephen Piscotty is catching a break Thursday night at Arizona. It marks his first absence from the lineup since July 25, four days after his promotion.

Brandon Moss is set to play the position instead.

Piscotty owns a slash line of .316/.349/.538.


 
 
 
Rankings