Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/31/15
St. Louis Cardinals: 3 up and 3 downNearly the entire 2013 season, all the way up until the fourth game of the World Series, everything was fine for the St. Louis Cardinals. There were setbacks during the season, mostly injuries, but the Cardinals had an answer for just about every one of them. But the Cards finished the season on a losing streak, dropping the final three games of the World Series to the Boston Red Sox to put a bitter finish on a sweet season. The Cardinals enter their third season with manager Mike Matheny at the helm, and while both of Matheny’s first two seasons have seen success, the final goal of winning a World Series is still incomplete. The franchise, led by general manager John Mozeliak, has a front office that has made outstanding personnel decisions recently. The Cardinals and their farm system have one of the deepest clubs in the majors and they are ready to contend for a championship again in 2014. The Cardinals made two major offseason moves in the same week in November. First, they traded 2011 World Series hero David Freese to the Angels for athletic outfielder Peter Bourjos, whose past is riddled with injuries. They followed that up by signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta, an offensive force with a checkered PED history. The rest of the holes are to be filled internally by players already within the organization. 3 Up Best case scenario The best case scenario for the St. Louis Cardinals would require a season with minimal injuries and every player finding a defined role. If that happens the Cardinals can approach 100 wins, win the National League pennant again, and this time finish it with a World Series victory. Most important Cardinals It is silly to suggest that any Cardinal other than catcher Yadier Molina is the most important player on the team. Molina is revered for his handling of the pitching staff, and giving the right signs to the young pitchers. Yadi also shuts down the opposition’s running game with his laser arm. Additionally, Molina in recent years has been a fixture in the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup. Molina’s health is paramount to the Cardinals’ success and his workload needs to be monitored. Adam Wainwright (Photo: Scott Rovak – USA TODAY Sports) The Cardinals have what seems like endless young pitching, but the rock of the pitching staff is ace Adam Wainwright. The risk of employing so many unseasoned pitchers is the inconsistency that can occur. But the Cards can always count on Wainwright to give them a quality start and eat innings. Wainwright returned to his pre-surgery form in 2013, leading the National League in innings (241.2), complete games (5), and shutouts (2). He is the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff, and his involvement is a necessary ingredient to a successful season. Potential breakout players Michael Wacha will always be remembered for crashing the 2013 postseason with unhittable stuff and unflappable nerve. But the 22-year-old Wacha can establish himself as a great major league starter if he can perform well consistently throughout the entire season. The Cardinals were cautious with Wacha until last September, and he still has not reached his full potential. Look for him to go to his curveball more to add another wrinkle to his destructive fastball-changeup repertoire. The Cardinals will be looking for more power on offense in 2014 and first baseman Matt Adams could be the man to provide it. Adams, 25, hit 17 home runs in just 296 at-bats last season, and he has the chance to start opening day and cement the first base position as his for 2014. The big lefty struggled against southpaws last season, and many teams implemented a defensive shift when he was at the plate. If Adams can improve against lefties and learn to spray the ball to all fields, then he will be a force in the Cardinals lineup and possibly hit upwards of 30 home runs. 3 Down Worst case scenario The Cardinals were hit by quite a few injuries last season, but the injury bug seems like it could always be worse. Several key players missed extended time, but the most valuable Cardinals (Molina, Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Matt Carpenter) were mostly healthy. If injuries hit the Cards even harder in 2014 it could lead to a worst case scenario of not making the postseason. An overcrowded pitching staff or potential platoons in the field could also lead to a confusion of roles if not managed properly. The Cards probably have enough depth to still finish above .500 regardless, but missing the playoffs this year would be a failure from any point of view. Kolten Wong Areas of concern The middle of the infield has been a problem for the Cardinals for much of the past decade. Both shortstop and second base have been revolving doors. In 2014, the Cardinals are giving unproven Kolten Wong a shot, but signed veteran Mark Ellis for insurance. The Cards are counting on Peralta to shore up the shortstop position with consistent offense. If he cannot come through then it is back to the combination of Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, both of whom are capable fielders but anemic hitters. The Cards need second, short, or both to be solidified by a player or players who can play every day and also help turn the lineup over. Who needs to bounce back from a down 2013 Centerfielder Jon Jay had a disappointing 2013, losing his spot as the leadoff hitter early in the season. Coming into the year he had a career .300 batting average, but Jay only managed to hit .276 for the season. He also regressed defensively, including some blunders in the playoffs. The Cardinals traded for Peter Bourjos to create a healthy competition in center, but Bourjos has to make a comeback of his own. Bourjos only played in 55 games last season for the Angels due to injury. The Cardinals did not give up much in the trade to acquire Bourjos, but he needs to prove he can stay healthy and give the Cards his extraordinary athleticism. Either Jay or Bourjos need to bounce back in a big way or else the Cardinals will have a potential problem area in the center of their outfield. isportsweb | isportsweb - Sports in Perspective
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dekker changes his Twitter to painful memory

Five best quarterback situations in the NFL

MLB players want to trade lives with Tom Brady

WATCH: Ohio State dog urinates on Michigan fire hydrant

Gregg Marshall is staying at Wichita State

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bengals troll Browns with April Fools’ Day joke

Malcolm Jenkins on McCoy trade: Could've gotten more

Does Romo restructure pave the way for Peterson?

Todd Gurley: 2015 NFL Draft Profile

Colts' Robert Mathis hopes to be back by training camp

LeBron thought Kyrie was a ballhog when season started

Gus Malzahn not happy about Michigan satellite camp

WATCH: Kaman pushes CP3 after shot to groin

Kelly Olynyk helps Celtics to win despite eye injury

Report: Boston mayor furious over Olympics rumors

Ravens commit tampering violation, show it on Twitter

Lightning won’t sell playoff tickets to non-Florida residents

Brad Stevens dismisses Texas rumor

Albert, Costas and Michaels to work together for the first time

A’s closer buying tickets to fill stands at LGBT Pride Night

13 U.S. senators call on FIFA to strip Russia of 2018 World Cup

The San Antonio Spurs are beautiful again

Auriemma blasts men’s college basketball: ‘The game is a joke’

Cardinals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five best QB situations in the NFL

Dark horse Cy Young candidates

Final Four fact or fiction

Why WrestleMania 31 was an all-time great

Five worst QB situations in NFL

WATCH: Curry drops CP3 with crossover

Durant wants to spend career in OKC

This isn’t Tom Izzo’s greatest March masterpiece

Are the Angels being overlooked?

Top 20 players in the Final Four

Report: Tiger's plane spotted in Augusta

Moss shares story on meeting Deion

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.