2011 World Series Wrapup, Look Ahead to Post-Pujols Cardinals

The 2011 World Series is over, but it’s one I know I will certainly remember. The product on the field was excellent, with many games being close until the final innings and some going into extra’s. No team had a particularly oustanding advantage on either side of the field. Although Texas’ lineup is substantially better, we saw some players show their ability in St. Louis that may give fans some optimism when Albert Pujols inevitably ops for free agency.

David Freese and Allen Craig have shown a very advanced approach at the plate. They get on base, can hit for extra bases and work counts into their favor. At the beginning of 2011 it looked as though if Pujols leaves, the Cards are in a world of hurt. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Recently the Cards picked up Adam Wainwright‘s club option for 2012 and 2013 due to his progress in rehab. There was a rumor of a slim chance that Wainwright would possibly be available to pitch in the World Series, but I’m sure nobody believed that. It is a good sign that he is regaining his stuff.

Aside from the development of Freese and Craig, the Cards have two fireballers that are major league ready for 2012. It would come as no shock if Chris Carpenter regresses due to his age, but even if he is 85% the pitcher he is now, the Cardinals will have a fearsome pitching staff come second half of 2012 and beginning of 2013. Both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez are aces in the making, with Miller ready to produce now. Martinez may need some additional development to start 2012, but the originally drafted Red Sox throws in the upper 90’s, touching triple digits at times even into the later innings.

There is no discounting the major loss in production that losing the best hitter of all time will have on the Cards, but not all is lost. With some minor complimentary pieces added, they could be a force over the next 4-5 years. There is a press conference with Tony LaRussa scheduled and rumor is a possible retirement. If so, it’s possible that Dave Duncan moves over to take the reigns. He has been reluctant to a management opportunity in the past, but a promotion in St. Louis would be completely different circumstances, ones which I believe Duncan would embrace.

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