Team of Destiny? I am about to do what all sports’ writers know not to do, but since I am new to this blogging process, I am willing to take the risk. This Cardinals team will win the World Series this year. Yes, it is only May 15th, and they have played less than 25% of their games this season. However, this team has played unlike any other Cardinals team in the past couple seasons. They are beating up on the teams they are supposed to beat up on–as shown by the series sweep of the lowly Mets.
Why do I feel confident in saying that this team could and should bring home the 12th Championship for St. Louis? Well, the main reason is that for only completing 38 games, this team has already dealt with and overcome an incredible amount of adversity–an amount that exceeds what some teams experience in an entire 162-game season.
I have compiled a list of what they have had to deal with and how they have overcome these issues.
Rafael Furcal elbow injury that led to season-ending surgery. Pete Kozma has filled in for him and done just about all the Cardinals can ask of him: .250 batting average, 14 RBI, and only 1 error in 316 innings played at shortstop. Sure, the Cardinals could use more production from that position, but Kozma has done basically everything that an aging, ailing Furcal could do for the team.
Chris Carpenter injury in Spring Training. The end of an era for the Cardinals? Oh wait, he, like only Carp can do, may be coming back to help solve the team’s bullpen woes. I, along with all of Cardinal Nation, anxiously await yet another comeback from Carp. His bulldog demeanor and leadership, on and off the field, will play an integral role in the performance of the Cardinals down the stretch
Jason Motte injury. He attempted to rest it, but the end result: Tommy John surgery. “Chief Mujica” has filled in admirably thus far: 10/10 on save opportunities with a 1.80 ERA.
Mitchell Boggs (12.66 ERA) and Marc Rzepczynski (7.88 ERA) self-imploding which led to both being sent down to Triple-A Memphis. Thankfully, the starting pitching has been dominant as of late to help cover until the relievers figure it out.
Leadoff hitter? Jon Jay, who filled in last year and started in the #1 spot this year had a monster slump which gave him some off days and moved him down in the order. He changed his stance and is now heating up (batting average up to .277). See Back in His Comfort Zone for my previous post on him. Matt Carpenter has filled the void with a phenomenal .302 batting average and a .386 on-base percentage.
Freese injury and subsequent super slump. Once again, this void has been filled by utility man Matt Carpenter who has played over 13 games worth of innings at 3rd base.
Still wary about the bullpen woes? Yeah, so am I, but I am confident that they will be able to turn it around as the season moves forward. If they don’t, however, I have full confidence in Mozielak’s ability to fill the bullpen’s needs through the trade market as he has done the past 2 seasons: Mujica last year, Dotel and Rzepczynski for the World Series run in 2011. Also, as I stated earlier, #29 is salivating over being able to come back and contribute to the team. I have learned to never doubt him.
Thus, this year’s Cardinals, with an average age just a shade over 27, have developed so much this year already. They have one of the top offenses in the MLB. The starting rotation has the best ERA and has enough depth throughout the system to fill in when pitchers get injured (See John Gast for Jake Westbrook). Thus, all these injuries and slumps could have led to the demise of just about any team, but these Cardinals have not crumbled. If anything, it has made them a better team for the long-run with young players getting invaluable experience early on.
This, I will make this point loud and clear: this team will win the 2013 World Series and bring home the Cardinals 12th championship.
Until next time…
P.S. Sorry for any choppiness, lack of flow, or grammar errors in this post. My Internet is being transferred to my new house so I had to complete this blog entry on my iPhone. Thank you for bearing with me.