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The Cardinals are, without a doubt, the Reds’ most dangerous opponent for the NL Central title in my opinion.
Many Reds fans don’t like to admit that they think the Cardinals are a good team because of the recent rivalry between the two teams, sparked by Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina.
Allen Craig, who I have already picked up in a few of my fantasy leagues, is the X Factor for this lineup.
With the season-ending injury to Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals’ pitching staff was dealt a big blow. The Cardinals had a bit of a down year, partially caused by injuries, after their unlikely World Series victory in 2011. As I talked about before, I think that Allen Craig is the offensive player to watch for on this team.
As a very exciting battle between the National League and the American League comes to a close, it is utterly amazing how 2 of MLB's best will duke it out against each other to claim the pennant.
The Boston Red Sox, who are a powerhouse in the AL East, are behind a impressive Big Papi, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Jon Lester and etc.
While the Cardinals are, admittedly, getting up there in age, they still feature one of the more dangerous lineups in the MLB. However, we have to look at the reality of the situation- there’s no team better in the big leagues than the Cardinals when it comes to winning in tight situations. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Randy Choate (36) throws in the third inning during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. While Carpenter is getting up there in age, him and Adam Wainwright still formed a formidable 1-2 punch atop the Cardinals’ rotation. Adam Wainwright should only get better as he removes himself from Tommy John surgery, which he showed by pitching to an impressive 3.28 ERA after the All Star break. This is their second trip to the coveted Classic 6 years after their last win in 2007 against Colorado Rockies. Louis Cardinals players celebrate on the field after defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2 in game seven of the 2011 World Series at Busch Stadium. When you factor in that they feature a nice pitching staff, headed by staff ace Adam Wainwright, you are looking at serious contender year in and year out.

Even in 2012, where they didn’t win the World Series, they still blew up reliable closer Drew Storen to snatch victory away from the Washington Nationals. They signed Randy Choate to a  3 year, 7.5 million dollar deal to be their lefty out of the bullpen. Wainwright has been an ace throughout his career, and he should return to ace status in 2012. Against the Reds, they were the better team last year, although just barely, finishing with a 8-7 record against the 97 win Reds. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) throws against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of game four of the 2012 NLCS at Busch Stadium. Louis Cardinals, behind an absolutely well playing Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday are the NL Champs and will try their best to win their second in 2 years. They have a record of sweeping the Cardinals in 2004 of 4-0, but the 2013 Cardinals are a different team. They were headed by rookie manager Mike Matheny, who had a good season as his first as head of the Cardinals. The Cardinals are always a threat, and will pounce on the Reds at the slightest sign of weakness. They also signed veteran utility man Ty Wigginton who can provide some nice pop off the bench. Lance Lynn had a great start to 2012, including an All Star nod over Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto, but faltered down the stretch. Overall, the Cardinals are in pretty good shape with their starting rotation, but they could miss the production that their opening day starter Kyle Lohse provided last season.
While they have enough offensive talent to replace him if need be, their production would take a hit no doubt.
Seeing as last year was Matheny’s first as a manager, his career record is an impressive 88-74.
Craig is incredibly clutch, as he hit over .400 with runners in scoring position last year. In 2010, when he finished second in Cy Young voting, he posted a 2.42 ERA with a record of 20-11.

Craig has the potential to be the best player on this impressive team, and even if he falters, he should still be a solid first baseman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wainwright return to his sub-3 ERA form in 2013, now that his curveball should be working right again.
Both Kozma and Cedeno are viable options to replace the oft-injured Rafael Furcal, who will miss the 2013 season (0r at least most of it) after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal, who have both impressed, are in contention for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Wainwright’s main pitch last year was his sinker, which he threw at an average of 90 mph.
They also gave up Lance Berkman, who signed a big deal with the Texas Rangers to be their DH for 1 year and 10 million dollars (with a 2014 vesting option for 13 million which triggers at 550 PAs this year.) This seems to be a big deal for the 37 year old Berkman, who had a down year last year after reviving his career in St.
However, I think that 2012 rookie Joe Kelly, who pitched well in both the rotation and bullpen in 2012, will win the spot out. However, his most impressive pitch is, arguably, his curveball, which is one of the best in baseball. Louis in 2011, and the Cardinals were right to not chase after him for that amount of cash. He has more MLB experience than either Miller or Rosenthal, and his stuff is just nasty, with a fastball that can easily hit triple digits. He threw his curveball 24 percent of the time, limiting hitters to a measly .174 average off of the pitch.
He throws the curveball slow, at an average of just over 73 mph, which is a nice complement to his hard sinker. Wainwright should be one of the best pitchers in the National League in 2013, and is a virtual lock to bounce back, in my opinion.

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