As many of you probably know, around this time of year the United Cardinal Bloggers get together and pose questions to each other. I was the one that brought up the rear on the questioning, which meant much of the great questions had already been asked. Still, I was able to get some of those that participated to give some quick hits about the 2018 season.
Before we get into that, though, I wanted to share a few links. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen where I’m try to run something called The Cardinal Six this season. Before every series, I’ll put out a six-question form about what’s coming up, some general, some specific. Each question as a point total and we’ll keep track of who wins all year long.
As a season preview, though, I’ve expanded it out to 16 questions (in honor of Ray Lankford) and you can find that form here. Put in what some identifying name (one that you’ll use all year long so we can match things up) and get going. You’ve got questions like where will the Cardinals finish in the division to how many strikeouts will Alex Reyes have and all sorts of things in between. We’ve got over 20 folks competing now and it’d be great to push that number even higher. Again, click here to get started. I’ll probably put the Mets series Six out a week from today and hopefully we’ll get each series’s questions out at least a day before first pitch.
Also, it was a full weekend of podcasting from me, so if you want to waste about 2.5 hours this morning, I’ve got you covered. First, you’ve got Allen and I talking on Friday over at Meet Me at Musial. Allen correctly suggested that Carson Kelly could be sent down to the minors and I wondered about the 40-man issues. We’ll find out how the latter gets sorted out now that the former has happened.
The 40-man cropped up on Saturday as I talked to Kyle Reis as part of the Conversations With C70 series, but it was only a minor point in a wide-ranging discussion that talked about how Kyle got into minors analysis and what exactly is going on with this Prospects After Dark stuff. Kyle, who you probably know that you can read over at Birds on the Black, also talked about the overabundance of prospects at the upper levels and who might be a rising star to check out this season.
(Speaking of Birds on the Black, I kicked off their Pinch Hitters program by paying off a bet I made with Joe Schwarz over the Butler/Arkansas game. Guess it could have been worse, given this tournament.)
Finally, Sunday night Tara and I spent some time on Gateway to Baseball Heaven talking about the fact that Kelly is going to start in Memphis and what that means going forward. We also spent some time talking about the pitching staff and just how we feel about this team about 10 days from the opener.
All right, there’s the self-promotion. Now, let’s see what the other bloggers had to say in the roundtable. For reference, here’s the question:
Daniel: Let’s do a little rapid fire–feel free to explain however much you like, but short answers are acceptable as well.
–Most surprising player this year
–Player most likely to disappoint
–The one topic we’ll be focusing on the most this season
–Number of Cardinal wins
Adam Butler (The Redbird Daily): Most surprising player — Mike Mayers
Disappointing player — Sam Tuivailala
Hottest topic — Finding the right middle relief formula
Number of wins — 89
Kyle Reis (Birds on the Black): Surprise: Bud Norris, who will be average, which is way better than I ever could have imagined.
Disappointment: Michael Wacha
Story line: Alex Reyes’ health, usage, and debut
Win total: 86
Josey Curtis (Viva El Birdos): Surprising: Luke Weaver
Disappointing: Paul DeJong – maybe not disappointing, but definitely a candidate for a fierce sophomore slump.
Story line: The top of the order, which *should* be one of the best in the league: Fowler-Carpenter-Pham-Ozuna
Tara Wellman (Birds on the Black): Most surprising player: Brett Cecil… because, has anyone really seen enough to know what he’s going to do?
Most likely to disappoint: Miles Mikolas… not because I don’t think he’ll be good, but because he’s not Chris Archer. Sorry, pal. Tough break, I know. (But actually, probably Matt Carpenter, because that guy can’t do anything right.)
#1 topic: Adam Wainwright… for better or worse
Win total: 87
Mary Clausen (MLB Voice): Most surprising player this year – Harrison Bader
Player most likely to disappoint – Michael Wacha
The one topic we’ll be focusing on the most this season – Alex Reyes
Number of Cardinal wins – 90 (keep fingers crossed. All season? lol)
Joe Schwarz (Birds on the Black): Most surprising: Jack Flaherty
Most likely to disappoint: Tommy Pham
One topic of focus: Adam Wainwright
As for me, I think I’d say the most surprising player is going to be Adam Wainwright. Not that he’s going to be the All-Star he’s been before, but if he has an ERA a bit under 4 I think that’s significantly better than anyone thought he could be even a couple of weeks ago.
The most disappointing player? I’m trying to shake the feeling that it’s going to be Carlos Martinez, that he’s still not going to take that next step we continue to think is coming. I’m going to be optimistic and not go that way, instead choosing Jedd Gyorko. Not that he’ll have a bad season, but if injuries or anything else crop up and Jose Martinez stays hot, Matt Carpenter find his way over to that side of the infield more and more often, cutting into Jedd’s playing time.
The one topic we’ll be focusing on? It’s tough to argue with those picking Alex Reyes. I think we are also going to be trying to figure out how much to credit Mike Maddux for any pitching-related decisions.
It comes down to the win total. I really am feeling good about the team right now, but I also know that it’s sitting on a bit of a razor edge. A bad injury, an ineffective player, and things could go south in a hurry. I’ll go with 91 wins, saying the Cardinals get to be the team that get a little good luck their way this season.
That’ll wrap another roundtable. We’ll do it again in the fall!