To fans and free agents alike, the Cardinals sell their history and their intent to be an annual fixture in the playoffs. They measure themselves by Octobers. The past two autumns have fallen short as the team slipped from National League champ in 2013 to, rung by rung, third place last year.
The Cardinals haven’t missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons since the late 1990s, and to avoid that they had one driving strategy this winter: change. After adding a new pitching coach, they chased NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Miami agreed to a trade; Stanton did not. The Cardinals cast again, reeling in Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. The two-time All-Star gives the lineup a jolt the Cardinals had to have to return where their brand says they belong.
Opposing Scouts Size Up the CARDINALS
“I really like this lineup. It’s a little too right-handed, but they’ve got power up and down the order, and Marcell Ozuna makes a big difference with his bat and his strong arm. They’ve got the usual veterans coming back for the rotation — Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright — and some other really intriguing options. The first year back from Tommy John can be a challenge, but Alex Reyes has a big arm and he’ll be a huge addition. Luke Weaver was terrific last year; he’s got an excellent changeup, and he’s deceptive enough to beat guys upstairs with just an average fastball. I’m eager to see how Miles Mikolas transitions back to MLB. They said he threw harder in Japan than he did with the Padres and Rangers a few years ago, and he really attacked the zone. The Cardinals gave him a lot of money, so they’re believers. Brett Cecil is a solid reliever, but quite overpaid, and if they try Luke Gregerson as a closer on a team with playoff hopes, that’s a bit of a reach.”
Beyond the Box Score
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