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Nothing against the Cards, of course. They've got a good base of talent, some excellent young pitchers, and a first baseman who we hear has been hitting home runs now and again. Still, just 83 wins? A mere five games over .500? St. Louis didn't exactly dominate its competition.
But then again, the season starts anew in the playoffs, where the Cardinals certainly showed that they belonged. To do so, they had to go through a resurgent Tigers team which had set new lows in futility scant years before. Led by a young and exciting pitching staff, the Tigers rode Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya's fastballs as long as they could, before inexperience and David Eckstein derailed them in the World Series.
Both teams have re-upped key players and largely stood pat in the offseason, with Detroit's trade for Gary Sheffield the only big move for either team. Can they repeat their playoff success in 2007?
Tim Kurkjian: "Now the Cardinals are trying to put together their rotation after the loss of Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver and Jason Marquis to free agency in the offseason. Kip Wells was signed as a free agent and Mark Mulder was re-signed, but he likely won't throw off a mound until April, and likely won't pitch in a game for the Cardinals until perhaps July. Anthony Reyes, 25, is expected to get a regular turn in the rotation for the first time. Braden Looper, who hasn't started a game on any level in 10 years, will also get a long look this spring for the rotation. The projected five starters won 22 games last year as starters, which makes [Adam] Wainwright's move to the rotation very important."
Feb. 23, 2007
Wainwright eyeing 'smooth' transition to rotation
Tony La Russa: "There's not much margin to miss much work and get ready. We'll take it one step at a time."
March 11, 2007
Injured Cards Edmonds, Eckstein handling injuries
Boston Red Sox
2004: 98-64, won World Series
2005: 95-67, lost in divisional round
Chicago White Sox
2005: 99-63, won World Series
2006: 90-72, missed playoffs
2005: 89-73, lost World Series
2006: 82-80, missed playoffs
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2002: 99-63, won World Series
2003: 77-85, missed playoffs