Throughout the year, I hope to be able to preview upcoming opponents through Q&A’s with fellow FanSided writers for the opposing teams. With the season now only four days away for the Brewers, it’s time to preview the season-opening series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Instead of previewing the Cardinals myself, Jason Evans from our friends at Redbird Rants was gracious enough to answer some questions for a rival team’s website.
Reviewing the Brew: 2011 NLCS: St. Louis 4, Milwaukee 2. 2012 World Series: St. Louis 4, Texas 3. Go ahead and take a few moments to brag as I flash images in my brain of Shaun Marcum giving up gopher ball after gopher ball.
Redbirds Rant: Yeah, David Freese called and said to tell Shaun Marcum he’s the best.
RtB: Now let’s address the elephant in the NL Central, or lack thereof, right away. How does St. Louis rebound after losing Albert Pujols, both offensively and defensively.
RR: Obviously, when you lose the best hitter of a generation you’re team will suffer. I think John Mozeliak did the best job possible to “replace” Pujols. He didn’t make the big splashy move, but signing Carlos Beltran was a nice pickup. Lance Berkman needs to have a good year and I think Allan Craig if he’s healthy will get a lot of time. I think it was a better play to go strength in numbers rather than one huge piece.
RtB: David Freese was obviously the October hero for the Cards. What can we expect to see from him in 2012?
RR: If Freese is healthy, he should be a very productive player. He’s not gonna go crazy and put up the numbers he did in the playoffs, however a .280-20-85 season isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
RtB: Name one player on the Cardinals we may not know too much about, but should start paying close attention to this season.
RR: I think John Jay is someone to watch. If he plays well, Beltran can play more in right and Craig can play second. If he doesn’t, Beltran has to play center, which given his injury history may not be the best idea. Craig would be in right and then Greene at second. The defense suffers with Craig at second; however you can replace him late in games.
RtB: How much will having SP Adam Wainwright back after missing 2011 because of reconstructive elbow surgery help the pitching staff?
RR: Any time you add an ace it’s a good thing. Given Carpenter’s nerve issues, a healthy Wainwright is key for the Cardinals to have success in 2012. If he doesn’t pitch well and Carpenter misses a significant chunk of the season I don’t believe the Cards will reach October.
RtB: Who is the dark horse in the Cardinals rotation?
RR: I’m not sure there is a dark horse. I think the rotation is Carpenter, Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. I think two guys to watch for at some point this season are Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. I think Lynn will be given first crack to replace Carpenter in the rotation. Miller, I believe at some point in 2012 will be in the starting five. Don’t sleep on Roy Oswalt either being a Redbird by July.
RtB: Mike Matheny is obviously filling some big shoes with the retirement of Tony LaRussa. What different kind of managing styles does he bring?
RR: I think Matheny won’t change pitchers as much as LaRussa does. I think Matheny may hit and run more and he may need to without that Pujols guy. I also think he will evolve as the season goes on and we may not get a good read on his style until maybe next year.
RtB: As a Brewers fan, I, of course, love Nyjer Morgan’s antics. As a Cards fan, what’s your perspective on T. Plush?
RR: I think every team needs a T.Plush kind of character. I think Marlins fans don’t like him either http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR87fyd794k . I think in a lot of ways he’s the heart and soul and if you can shut him down you can shut down the Brewers. He reminds in a lot of ways of Sean Avery.
RtB: Now let’s get down to business. Who’s your pick to win the NL Central?
RR: The Astros. (Just kidding) I think the Reds actually will win the division. I think top to bottom even without Madson they are loaded but I think the Cardinals will be involved in the first ever wild card play in game versus the Marlins.