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eCentral Information: St. Louis Cardinals

cards diasporaWelcome to the 2nd edition of eCentral Information, our attempt to give you an idea as to what the mindset of our NL Central foes is like.  Up today is the St. Louis Cardinals and we were lucky enough to sit down with our friends and fellow Bloguineers from Cards Diaspora as we find out what life after Albert Puljos and winning the 2011 World Series is like.  

If you missed our 1st eCentral Information about the Houston Astros please go here for the full interview.  Now on to the nitty gritty with our Suds Series foes:

The Brewers Bar: Coming off last season’s heated contests in the regular season and NLCS how do you view the Brewers? Rival or just another team in your way?

Cards Diaspora: Who had money on a box full of piss sitting on some dude’s desk as the most important factor in the Brewers 2012 season? Anyone?

No question the Reds have made some moves to put them in contention for the NL Central in 2012. (Not to mention they have the best first basemen. UGH). But now with Braun playing a full slate, the Brewers are right there with the Reds as the contenders for the NL Central. That being said, if we had to put odds on it: Cards 2 to 1 / Reds 3 to 1 / Brewers 4 to 1.

TBB: Getting Adam Wainwright back could be huge for your pitching staff but we all know coming back from Tommy John surgery isn’t a given.  If he can or can’t live up to his pre-surgery self what does that do to the rotation? 

CD: Adam Wainwright coming back is HUGE. What’s bigger than huge? MONSTER? It’s probably bigger than that, too.

He’s the ace of this staff and a Cy Young runner up the two previous seasons he wasn’t out. Now you’re looking at Jaime Garcia getting more innings and stepping up as a budding star, Chris Carpenter as your big game ace and Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook eating up starts in the
back half of the rotation.

Oh, and if any one of those guys goes down, MLBs best prospect not named Bryce Harper is sitting there waiting for a shot. Shelby Miller could be better than Garcia and is a couple years younger.

TBB: How big of a season is it for Jamie Garcia?

CD: Speaking of Jaime Garcia… 2012 is his year.

He knows what it takes to succeed. He knows his weakness (mental toughness when he catches a few bad breaks). And he knows that this is the year he needs to get to that 15-18 win plateau to start the conversation about a huge contract extension.

If he hasn’t been working all off-season knowing that this is his year to really step out, then he’s an idiot. I expect that someone put the good sense in him to let him know that if wants to be a star, it’s his turn to be a star.

TBB: You did think I’d let you go without an Albert Pujlos question, did you?  Lance Berkman is taking over at 1st base, but the rest of your team stays pretty much intact from last season, so how do you see that lineup replacing his numbers or can they?

VD: Brewers are in the same boat… so no offense taken.

Losing the best player in baseball sucks. Pretty hard, actually. And the first time I have to hear a SportsCenter tease about what Albert Pujols did tonight and for a split second get excited then remember he’s not a Cardinal and get a little sad? I’m not looking forward to

But Carlos Beltran helps. He had a sneaky good year in 2011. David Freese healthy helps. He only played in 97 games last year. Allen Craig helps. Late call-up who proved to be clutch helps.

Are all of them combined going to replace Pujols? Not in the short term, no. But the 2012 Cardinals are going to be more focused on pitching, defense and manufacturing runs as opposed to making sure Pujols gets up with runners on base.

TBB: Bonus Question: Division winner and why?

CD: Cardinals win this division with 96 wins.

They’ve got 6 proven MLB starters for 5 spots with one rookie phenom waiting in the wings. With the addition of J.C. Romero and a full season of the Lynn to Rzepczynksi to Motte combination in the bullpen, I think you’d find a better staff (on paper) heading into the season.

Throw in the fact that the Cardinals team offense was at the top of the NL all season long (even with a sub-Pujols standard year) and I don’t think that anyone can make another the team the favorite by
opening day.

Oh, and by the way, that NLCS still has to leave a bitter taste, doesn’t it?

Look for us to continue this series throughout the comind days.  If you have comments, concerns, questions make sure to leave them in our comments section below.