Friday, February 26, 2016


By Michael Wong

Jupiter, Fla.--The model franchise of Major League Baseball that is the St. Louis Cardinals continues to chug along with winning record after winning record based on the strength of their always potent farm system.  As we move into the 2016 season however, there are some fraying around the edges as the Cards have a few players who are aging more than a bit both in the pitching staff and around the diamond.  So as always let's take a look at some of the main themes surrounding the team as the 2016 season approaches.

1.  Is it finally time to send Matt Holliday off into the fantasy baseball sunset?  It certainly looks like we have reached that point as Holliday comes off a frustrating season in 2015 that saw him miss more than a little bit of time with injury and saw more erosion in his offensive numbers.  Now 36-years-old, Holliday has seen his always stellar batting average fall under the .280 mark the last two years and his power could struggle to even reach 20 home runs in 2015.  This is another case of saluting how great a player Holliday has been (have you seen some of his crazy Colorado Rockies numbers?) while at the same time moving away from him for good due to the name brand vastly outpacing the actual level of production. 

2.  On the pitching/aging front, is Adam Wainwright in the same boat as Holliday?  Turning 35 in August, Wainwright comes off his own injury-filled 2015 campaign that saw him tear an Achilles tendon and pitch only 28 innings.  Prior to that in 2014, Wainwright showed a drastically lowered K rate as all those seasons of crazy inning totals look like they are finally taking a toll.  While still an ace on paper, Wainwright just doesn't have the stuff anymore to even approach his old number 1 starter numbers.  We have been big fans of Wainwright in the past but like with Holliday, it is time to move on to more younger and more stable pitchers. 

3.  Can we really buy into the incredible power bustout from Matt Carpenter?  One of the more eye-opening and unexpected numbers in all of fantasy baseball in 2015 was the 28 home runs that third baseman Matt Carpenter swatted for the Cards.  What makes it so unexpected was the fact Carpenter had only reached double-digits in home runs ONCE in his previous three-years in the majors and just barely at 11.  It seems like Carpenter began swinging more for the fences last year though after moving from second base to third where more home runs are expected.  The trade-off was seen in the batting average as Carpenter hit a mediocre .272.  That is an exchange any Carpenter owner will gladly take however as he is a major runs scored guy (99 or more three straight years) and also collects a decent amount of RBI for a leadoff man.  Since the 28 home runs were way out of the blue, it is a good idea to push the expected 2016 number there to more like 20-22 given the career trends.  It also wouldn't be a shock if Carpenter doesn't even go that high.  Ultimately Carpenter still is a top ten fantasy baseball third baseman and his draft price will likely be decent since so many are not buying into his 2015 haul. 

4.  While Matt Holliday is clearly on the decline in leftfield, how impressive does the rest of the outfield look?  The Cardinals once again are being lauded for churning out not one but TWO very promising outfielders in Randal Grichuk and rightfielder Stephen Piscotty.  Grinchuk has terrific natural power that evokes comparisons to Jay Bruce, while Piscotty is more of a .300 hitter with 15-20 home runs power.  Both guys carry good upside for 2016 fantasy baseball but Grichuk could struggle to hit even .260 considering the fact he whiffed in more than 30 percent of his at-bats a year ago. 

5.  While both are very talented, how concerned should we be about the health of pitchers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez?  Both guys have already had some big fantasy baseball seasons at very young ages for the Cards but both guys also have some very concerning injury issues.  Both Wacha and Martinez have come down with shoulder ailments over the last two years and any pitcher will tell you that a problem there is so much more worse then an elbow injury.  Wacha faded badly the second half of last season which calls into question how many inning in a given season he can pile onto that shoulder while Martinez was shut down in September with his own pain in the joint.  Both guys are expected to be full ready to go to start 2016 but both also are more than a little risky.  With starting pitching so deep, there really is no reason to cut a check on either unless you get them at your price. this season. 


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