The Cardinals went into 2012 as a team in a bit of flux. No longer would they have the cornerstones of Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa to help guide them through the season. Instead, rookie – in every sense of the word – manager Mike Matheny took the reins of a still-talented team. It was anything but a smooth road, starting with the loss of Chris Carpenter in spring training and running through some patches of significant offensive woes, but Matheny was able to guide St. Louis into the playoffs via the new “second wildcard” opening and had them one win away from their second consecutive World Series before the San Francisco Giants rallied to send them home for the winter. All in all, 2012 was a very successful season and even though there was basically no activity by the front office during the offseason, there’s little reason to think 2013 will be any different.
CORNER INFIELD – Lance Berkman will not be on the team in the coming season, but most of the damage at first was done by Allen Craig anyway due to Berkman’s knee problems that kept him on the shelf for two-thirds of the season. Craig played in just 119 games but still managed an .876 OPS and hit 22 home runs as well. Craig, whose nicknames include “Wrench” and “Amazing Whacker Guy”, looks to add to those numbers with a full season of play.
On the other side of the diamond is St. Louis legend David Freese. Freese had a tough task ahead of him in 2012, having to follow up on a magical October run that saw him win MVP honors in both the NLCS and the World Series. However, health was with him for the first time in his career as he played 144 games and put up an .839 OPS with a career-high 20 home runs. Matheny was less inclined to remove Freese for a defensive replacement late in games than his predecessor was and Freese rewarded that faith by being slightly above-average at the hot corner.
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