[Ed. note - While the usual suspect around here is on vacation, we've drummed up some great guest posters to take the reins and keep our loyal readers (all three of you) entertained. Today's guest post is from Sherwood Farnham. If you're not already following Sherwood on Twitter @Mstrdstr12, you should be. It should be noted that this was sent in to us on April 28th, so as Sherwood mentions below, his impressions are through April 27. Thanks Sherwood!]
Some thoughts about what we have seen from the Cardinals so far, all stats are through April 27th. Let’s leadoff with the leadoff man.
1. Skip Schumaker: Only one error in his transition to 2B, and he has ranged into the outfield to grab some shallow fly balls that most 2B would not get to. He has a .371 OBP in the leadoff spot so he is getting on base in front of a potent lineup. It’s early to call but this experiment is definitely a success so far.
2. Pujols’ Pace: 162 Runs, 194 Hits, 57 HR, 204 RBI, 130 BB, 24 Steals, .333 AVG, .457 OBP, .681 SLG. WOW! I sometimes forget just how good he is because I get to watch him every day. I don’t expect El Hombre to keep doing quite this well, but it shows just how well he has started the season and why he is the best player in baseball.
3. Khalil Greene: I think it would be fair to say he has been a disappointment thus far, but there is still hope. He has five errors in 18 games played, but a couple of balls that went under his glove, and a throw that Albert didn’t stretch too far for. He has good range and has been a decent defender in the past, so the errors should slow down. What he will do at the plate the rest of the year… who knows? My guess is 15-20HR now that he is out of Petco Park but I am still worried about the batting average. Will TLR keep him as the everyday SS if his AVG. stays this low?
4. Adam Wainwright: He has turned into a legitimate staff ace. His control was off for the first few starts, but he got out of the jams, and that is what aces do. He looked much better in his 4/24 start against the Cubs with seven strong innings. I expect starts like that the rest of the year.
5. Todd Wellemeyer: Well his start in Arizona was good, but that is about it. He has given up 37 hits and earned 13K’s in 22IP. He needs to get that “bowling ball” sinker scouts talk about working or it could be a long year for him. The next few starts should give us more insight into whether he has really hit the wall converting from reliever to starter.
6. 3rd Base: Thurston and Barden have done an amazing job so far, even if they do slow down Mather and Freese are still legit options. Will Glaus just be handed the job back if someone else is still performing? Probably, but I don’t know if I agree with it.
7. Chris Carpenter: Well we are all disappointed with the most recent injury, especially with how dominant he was in his first start. With that said, I think it was unrealistic to expect a full season out of him, he hasn’t really pitched in two years. At this point I am hoping for 75-100 innings. When he comes back he should get extra rest when possible. Let’s just make sure he is healthy and not gassed for the stretch run and the playoffs.
8. Kyle Lohse: Has looked awesome so far, but is he this good (2.42 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)? Probably not quite, but he should still be very good. He had a 3.78 ERA last year; I would expect a slight improvement this year. 3.50 ERA? The longer Carp is out, the more we will need from Lohse.
9. 5th Starter: Boggs looked really good against the Cubs, and his breaking ball has been sharp so far. He doesn’t need to me great, just needs to keep the Cards in games. As long as he can do that he should keep getting starts.
10. Defense: Not impressive to this point but this team is much better defensively than they have shown so far. Duncan and Skip and possibly Greene are the only players who concern me at all on defense.
11. Barton for Boyer Trade: I know it’s early to judge, but I didn’t like it when it happened and I don’t like it any better now. The team thought Barton had enough potential to keep him on the team all of last year and then he was traded for a reliever with a career 5.54 ERA. Can’t believe we don’t have a reliever in triple-A who is better.
12. Colby Rasmus: The kid looks good, he has 8 walks and 10 K’s; pretty good for a rookie. He also may be our best defender in the outfield. It’s still very early but if he keeps getting on base at a decent clip he will stay in the bigs. I’m we will all be watching to see if he can make the necessary adjustments.
13. The Lineup: This team can hit. They lead the league in a lot of offensive categories and that should continue throughout the season. The only real weakness in the lineup so far has been Greene, but having one weak spot in the lineup is pretty good.
14. The Closer: Franklin has looked great since he took over, he hasn’t allowed a run yet, and he has a 0.63 WHIP. He even has got the closer look now with his man-beard. The job should be his until he blows a few saves. If he can keep being reliable this team will be greatly improved from last year, it would also allow Perez and Motte to develop and get big league experience. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
15. Jason Motte: Well his fist outing was awful, let’s get that out of the way. Since then he has pitched 6.1 innings and only given up 1 run. This guy just needs to keep getting innings and keep developing his slider. I’m confident that if he has to step in to the closer role later this year he will be able to do it. Probably just wasn’t ready for the pressure right off the bat.
16. Yadier Molina: This guy just gets better at the plate every year. I can’t say enough about his defense either. He even has a triple already; maybe he’s getting faster (wink wink).
17. Chris Duncan: We all know he’s not a good defender. OK, he’s a pretty bad defender. With that said, the dude can hit. I expected more power and a lower average, but again it is very early. If Duncan can stay healthy and continue hitting this lineup will still be a nightmare to pitch to.
18. Ryan Ludwick: This guy can hit too. He is off to a great start proving his doubters wrong. Ludwick is probably the 2nd most important part of the Cards offense, Pujols obviously being the first. If Ludwick is performing in the cleanup spot, pitchers will be forced to give Pujols more to hit. We all know what happens when teams have to pitch to Pujols.
19. Future Trade? The Cards wisely did not spend big in the offseason, and it has put them in a position to address whatever needs, most likely pitching, may arise. The most likely needs are a closer or a starter. So who will be traded away? My guess is Ludwick. The Cards are deep in the outfield and Ludwick won’t be arbitration eligible till after next year.
20. Prediction: With the Cards amazing start its hard not to think what they will do for the whole year. It may just be a guess, but I’ll give it a shot: 97-65 1st in the central, and another MVP for Albert while I’m at it.
Sherwood Farnham can be found on Twitter @Mstrdstr12.