The St. Louis Cardinals pulled off a blockbuster trade to man the hot corner for the foreseeable future. Is that enough to get this back to elite?
#11 - 2nd in NL Central
MIH - Paul Goldschmidt
MIP - Miles Mikolas
PTW - Dylan Carlson
#12 - 30-28, 2nd in NL Central, lost in Wild Card Round
The Cardinals had a typical Cardinals season. They were quiet enough that many people forgot about them, but they were still good enough to make the postseason and almost spoil the magical Padres in the Wild Card Round. They were led in 2020 by Paul Goldschmidt, possibly the quietest of all of baseball's superstars, which makes him the perfect star for St. Louis.
Additions / Subtractions
The Cardinals really only made one move over the offseason, but it was a big one. They pulled off the blockbuster trade that sent them third baseman Nolan Arenado from Colorado. Outside of letting second baseman Kolten Wong sign with Milwaukee and trading outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Angels, the Cardinals didn't do much else other than get healthy.
Most Important Hitter
Entering his 5th season as the starting shortstop in St. Louis, Paul DeJong got out to a hot start to his career, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year in 2017 and making his first All Star Team in 2019. However, 2020 proved to be a struggle for DeJong. If the Cardinals are going to have a dangerous and deep lineup, they need DeJong to bounce back and show he can get back to that All Star level.
Most Important Pitcher
In 2020, Adam Wainwright emerged as the go to ace of the Cardinals' staff. With Wainwright entering his age 39 season, he can't really be counted on to be that good again in 2021. That means it is time for Jack Flaherty to emerge as the consistent dominant ace the Cardinals need. He was outstanding in 2019, finishing in the top 5 in Cy Young voting, but 2020 was a struggle. With some of the injuries the Cardinals are facing in their rotation to start the season, the 25 year old Flaherty needs to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, which is not a stretch considering his how good he has shown he can be.
Prospect to Watch
When the Cardinals traded Dexter Fowler, they were basically announcing that the outfield would be super young and athletic. Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill can be expected to be out there every day, but the best of the group might be Dylan Carlson. Ranked the 14th best prospect in baseball, Carlson played in 35 games in 2020 with little success, but the Cardinals believe in him, and his tools show that he can be a star.
1st in NL Central, win World Series
Here are my World Series champions! It is definitely an outside-the-box pick, but with the way the Cardinals always find a way to be better than anyone realized, and the add of Arenado, this team is going to surprise everyone. Arenado and Goldschmidt are the perfect superstars to play in St. Louis, and they are going to become one of the best combos in any lineup in the league. Every few years, the Cardinals emerge as one of the best teams in baseball, and they are due. Also, can you imagine the storylines of a Tony La Russa vs. the Cardinals World Series? And a World Series win would almost certainly send Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright off into retirement on top. Perfect!
Jack Flaherty wins the NL Cy Young Award.
Like I said, Jack Flaherty has the capability to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is going to be the surprising star everybody knows from this team by the end of the season. A Cy Young and a World Series ... sounds like a successful season to me.