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Getting to Know the Enemy: St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals

Every week until the start of the season, I’ll preview one of the Brewers’ division rivals.  In addition to recapping the last season, we’ve tried to get bloggers to answer a few questions about their team, because really, who knows what’s going on better than the team’s own fans? First we took a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Then it was the Cubs.  And then the Cincinnati Reds. Today, it’s a (Rated-R) look at the St. Louis Cardinals with Aaron Hooks of Cards Diaspora.

2009 Finish: 91-71, 1st NL Central

Last Season in a Nutshell: The Cards rode a midseason acquisition of Matt Holliday into an easy division crown, but took a hit to the gut against the Dodgers in the NLDS.  In hindsight, we probably should have had a feeling the Cards were in trouble when they lost 8 of their last 10 games in the regular season, including a season-ending sweep at the hands of the Brewers.

2010 Prediction: 1st, NL Central — they’re too talented and the difference between the Cards and the rest of the division should make for another easy division crown.

Q&A: Aaron Hooks of Cards Diaspora
Thoughts on Matt Holliday’s new contract?  Is it going to tie the club’s hands at all?
Matt Holliday needed to be in St. Louis. He’s a perfect Robin to Pujols’ Batman. He’s in the NL where he’s MUCH better. He’s in a city that has completely forgiven him for trying to field a ball with his nuts and bouncing the team from the playoffs in the process.

It was as much of a no-brainer as you can get.

Will it effect the the club at all? Probably. I mean if the guy just takes a big fat dong and starts honking it the first couple of years and teams would rather trade for HIV than Holliday- well yes. Yes it would.

But if he’s 75% of what he showed for 4 months in 2009, then it’s just what the Cardinals need to keep them in contention for the next 4-5 years.

He’s also working with the club to earn his money back. The switch to #7- you don’t think that was a way to get a couple milly back and have the fans foot the bill?

The Cardinals are savvier than people think.

It seems highly unlikely Albert Pujols will play with anyone else in the future, but can the team stay competitive if it’s paying a large chunk of its payroll to Holliday and Pujols?
Don’t ever let the Cardinals fool you.

They’ve got enough money to Pay Pujols and Holliday whatever the hell they want and still wipe their asses with Morton’s steaks.

No, they don’t want to be the team that has a 200 million dollar payroll. But nobody, not even the Yankees do at this point. I think every MLB team has entered a point in their existence where they know they need to have 1 or two superstars and then surround those guys with a couple other stars, a couple other veterans and some young talent that are cheap. It’s kind of the blueprint for everyone.

Except the Pirates. Who suck at everything.

When you play in a city that would (probably) donate to keep a player if the team asked (and don’t put it above them, they’re rich, but cheap, if that makes sense), then I don’t think you’ll ever be truly out of competitiveness.

Unless you move to Pitsburgh. Then you’ll marry a 3.

The front of the rotation looks to be strong again with Carpenter and Wainwright, but what’s the plan for the bottom of the rotation?  Is losing Joel Pineiro going to hurt?
The Cardinals rotation is better in 2010 than 2009. Much better.

In 2009 we didn’t know what Chris Carpenter was going to give the Cardinals. We hoped for a full season, but now we know he’s back and ready to be an ace. Wainwright has another year of starting under his belt. And Kyle Lohse was hampered by a bum forearm after a fluke comebacker for 3/4 of the season. He’s finally 100% healthy.

Brad Penny is perfect for pitching coach Dave Duncan. We’ve all seen the guy that can get 20 wins in a season with little bits and flashes of brilliance… but never for more than a couple of outings before getting pillaged for 8 runs in 2 and 1/3. But Dunc has made guys (like Pinero) who absolutely suck the life out of life into 8 million dollar arms again. Penny may be a dark horse for the Cy Young out of the gate. Serioulsy.

The fifth spot is up for grabs, but as I predicted before Spring Training, I think Jamie Garcia, the rookie, will claim it. He’s got the talent to be a 2 in the future. So penciling him in as a #5 seems like cake to me.

Is Mark McGwire serving as hitting coach going to be a positive thing for the Cards, or do you think he’ll be a distraction?
Mark McGwire is the best thing to happen to the Cardinals this off-season.

Yes, his initial hiring was messy. And yes, the PED story will be trotted out all summer by ink-stained wretches still bitter they wrote fawning columns about the guy in 1998.

But those that watched the younger Cardinals close, know that the team had the wrong man in the job of hitting coach. Hal McRae is perfect for a veteran team that needs some tweaking here or there. But he’s not proactive, he let’s the guys come to him when they need help. Big Mac, meanwhile, has been ultra-aggressive in getting out in front of problems he sees and correcting them ASAP.

Players have been raving about what he’s done for them all spring long. Regardless off what he put in his ass in the 90’s, McGwire loves baseball and seems like a man re-born after all this admission circus left town.

Any feelings on Jim Edmonds joining the Brewers?  Assuming he stays on the roster and doesn’t retire at the end of the spring, do you think he can still be an asset, or is he more of a liability at this stage in his career?
Jim Edmonds overplayed his hand big time. Back in December, in a way to force the Cardinals hand, he announced at an ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) event that he was un-retiring and that he wanted to play for the Cardinals.

Fans of half-shirts and brooding in St. Louis rejoiced.

Then the Cardinals pretty much said in a round about way- go fuck yourself, Jimmy Baseball.

Not wanting to look like a complete douche, Edmonds took a job from the Brewers. And as you mentioned, had been planting seeds of another retirement with the press still over a week away from the regular season.

Edmonds wanted to play for the Cardinals. I don’t think he ever considered what it takes physically and mentally to get through an entire baseball season and in reaction to being scorned by the Cardinals took a job he now regrets terribly.

I have no doubt this will not end well in Milwaukee.

You folks in St. Louis seemed to have a problem with the Brewers untucking their jerseys after wins the last couple years.  I thought the outrage from St. Louis beat writers was a little dumb, but what did you think?
Personally, I fucking love the un-tucking. I don’t want to see it at a game I’m at, but I sure as shit wish a team I rooted for thought of it. Especially because I spent 12 years in Catholic school with a strict uniform and un-tucking was the ultimate sign of dis-respect.

Or so that one old nun told me.

When the Rams had the Bob-n-Weave banned by the NFL back in 2000, I was upset. pro sports is so antiseptic anymore- people are offended by everything. But unless Prince Fielder’s penis flops out during an un-tuck, I have absolutely no problem with the thing.