St. Louis Cardinals
SLEEPER Anthony Reyes gives the Cardinals a legitimate No. 2 starter, and fantasy players a potential reason to wait on pitching.
BUST At age 32, Scott Rolen's days as a top 10 third baseman may already be over. He hit a lot of doubles last season that would have been homers in his prime.
HITTER TO WATCH: Colby Rasmus, CF Rasmus isn't far from taking over center field from the oft-injured Jim Edmonds; Rasmus is a great athlete with a simple swing and has already started to fill out physically.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Blake Hawksworth, RHP
Hawksworth has added a cutter to his repertoire, but is probably still destined for a bullpen role due in part to his lack of a real out pitch.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED Izzy or isn't he? The Cardinals say Jason Isringhausen is healthy after hip surgery last season. "They keep putting me back together," says the 34-year-old closer, who also had shoulder surgery in 2003. Izzy's return allows Adam Wainwright, who was lights-out as the postseason closer (0.00 ERA, 15 K's in 9 2/3 IPs), to go back to starting. "He has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation guy," says GM Walt Jocketty of Wainwright. That's good, because Wainwright is slotted as the Cards' No. 2 starter. "We need him," says manager Tony La Russa. Same goes for Izzy.
NEEDS FIXING The Cardinals lost 60 percent of their rotation to free agency, so even with ace Chris Carpenter and the burgeoning Wainwright, there's a lot of uncertainty. This year's starting five had a combined 33 wins last season, 15 of those by Carpenter. Anthony Reyes alternated between good and terrible, Kip Wells was awful for the little time he wasn't hurt, and pitching coach Dave Duncan may be the only one who really believes Braden Looper can start. Then again, Duncan did turn Jeff Weaver into a postseason stud.
"I feel like a kid who's throwing a ball for the first time." -- Mark Mulder, who had shoulder surgery last September. The Cards are hoping for Mulder to return by July.
The new Busch Stadium's $365 million price tag might have been privately funded, but management is finding other ways for fans to foot the bill. The $4.49 average raise on tickets and price bumps to beer ($7.75), soda ($4.50) and hot dogs ($3.50) make it pricier to savor the sweet World Series win.
"So the Cardinals had to empty their bullpen to fill up their rotation ... sounds like a great recipe for success! Plus I smell an Albert Pujols injury come May."