What next for Major League Baseball's model franchise? The St. Louis Cardinals are the symbol of doing things right from the top on down, making the playoffs eleven times in the past fifteen years (including four straight) thanks to a mixture of solid drafting and deft moves in free agency.
However, with the 2015 MLB season fast approaching, it's time to put the Cardinals' impressive decade-and-a-half run behind us and focus on the future. Without further ado, here's 3 bold predictions for your St. Louis Cardinals.
3. Adam Wainwright -- Your 'Dark Horse' NL Cy Young Candidate
Wainwright, 33, had minor maintenance work done on his pitching elbow this offseason -- something which immediately sent baseball pundits into full "regression, REGRESSion, REGRESSION" mode when forecasting the Cardinals' season. What the doomsayers are failing to take into account is that Wainwright set career marks for ERA (2.38), WHIP (1.031), and HR/9 innings (0.4) before that minor elbow work.
After? Wainwright will be back in the conversation with the Clayton Kershaws and Max Scherzers of the world for the NL Cy Young Award.
2. The Cards Will Extend Their Right Fielder Of The Future For $200 Million Plus
Amidst a bat-poop crazy offseason chock full of trades and free-agent drama galore, the Cardinals' acquistion of former Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward has been pushed on the publicity back burner. Don't be fooled. Heyward's defensive value alone will make him a sabermetrician's dream, and his bat will wake up something fierce to the tune of 20-25 home runs and 100+ RBIs.
He'll also endear himself to the fans and the front office, while picking up 6-7 years of job security and some fat paychecks with the Cardinals through the end of the decade.
1. Dodgers/Cardinals Part Three?
These two budding rivals appear destined for one more heavyweight fight on the big October stage. St. Louis has gotten the better of Los Angeles two postseasons in a row, and both National League powerhouses have the horses in place for a legitimate run at the pennant. Be it in the Division Series, Championship Series, or (gasp) the Wild Card game, the Cardinals will have a third opportunity to rub the Dodgers' faces (*cough* Yasiel Puig *cough*) in the dirt.
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