You can always tell when it’s getting close to the end of the year – the end of the year review stories start appearing online, in the newspapers, etc. The United Cardinals Bloggers project for December is the top 5 Cardinals stories of the year, so here are mine (your mileage will vary):
1. Yadi resigning with the Cardinals early – Cards fans were delighted when Yadi signed a contract extension during spring training. He got business done before the season began. Yadi no doubt saw what Cardinal Nation went through in 2011 with Albert – will he sign or will he go? – and he didn’t want to play drama queen and put the fans through that again. After signing, Yadi had his best season yet. It was nice to see him smiling and looking like he really enjoyed playing baseball.
2. Mark McGwire leaving the Cardinals – There was great anticipation when McGwire became the hitting coach. After all, someone who hit 70 home runs in one season has to know something about hitting, right? But during the playoffs, the hitting started to stink. No one was surprised when Mark left or when John Mabry was promoted to the hitting coach position. It was a pleasant surprise, however, when Bengie Molina was hired as the assistant hitting coach. If one Molina is great, two has to be even better.
3. PItching woes – Chris Carpenter had surgery and was thought to be out for the season, just as Adam Wainwright was coming back from Tommy John surgery. Jaime Garcia was inconsistent. Kyle Lohse picked up some of the slack, but became a free agent at the end of the season. (As of this writing, he has not been picked up by another team.) Carpenter returned earlier than expected, in time for the playoffs, but the results were mixed. Relief pitching was problematic early until Matheny figured out everyone’s role. Here’s hoping the pitching situation next season won’t be as volatile.
4. The rookie manager’s first season – Despite the fact that Mike Matheny had never managed at the major league level before (or at the minor league level either, for that matter), he did pretty well, taking the team to one game shy of the World Series. Mike was respected by all his players. Even though the Cards got into the playoffs via the wild card, it could have been a lot worse.
5. Lack of action at the winter meetings – The Cards went into winter meetings with two big needs – a specialized left handed relief pitcher and help for the middle infield. Mo signed Randy Choate to fill the first need, but there was no major signing for the second need. Skip Schumacher was traded to the Dodgers for minor league infielder Jake Lemmerman and Mo picked up free agent Ty Wigginton at the winter meetings. Matt Carpenter has been told to practice playing 2B in the offseason. I think Cards fans were hoping for a little more excitement.
Thanks for reading! May 2013 bring happiness, good health, and prosperity to you – and may the Cardinals win their 12th World Series in 2013! See you next time!