Craig's Corner: Cardinals Should Contend in 2014 - The Missourian: Sports

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Craig's Corner: Cardinals Should Contend in 2014

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Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 12:45 pm | Updated: 1:00 pm, Wed Mar 26, 2014.

Baseball season has arrived.

The St. Louis Cardinals open the 2014 season Monday in Cincinnati.

After three games against the Reds and three more in Pittsburgh, the home opener in St. Louis is Monday, April 7, against the Reds.

So what’s in store for the Redbirds after losing in six games to Boston in last season’s World Series?

Well, most prognosticators are picking the Cardinals to win the National League’s Central Division crown.

At this point, there doesn’t appear to be many questions or position battles as the regular season approaches.

The starting rotation is set, the eight regulars, at least to start the season, are nearly ready to go and the team appears to be focused on defending the NL title.

One of the few questions I have is who will start in center field on opening day?

After all the talk in the offseason about him being gone, I think Jon Jay is going to be the starter in center.

The Cardinals acquired Peter Bourjos from the Angels in the Davis Freese trade, but he’s been a little beat up, as has top prospect Oscar Taveras.

Jay isn’t the long-term answer for the Cardinals, but he works in the short term. You have to think Bourjos and Jay will start the season platooning.

Flanking Jay in the outfield will be sluggers Matt Holliday in left field and Allen Craig in right field.

Holliday and Craig need to stay healthy. If they do, both will have big years.

As far as the infield goes, Matt Carpenter moves from second to third base, which is his natural position.

It’s unrealistic to expect Carpenter to have the same season he did last year, but if he can find a way to get on base from the leadoff spot, that will be huge.

The Cardinals made a big move by signing free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who will provide some offensive punch in the lineup to help replace Carlos Beltran, who’s now with the New York Yankees.

On the right side of the infield, first baseman Matt Adams needs to cut down on his strikeouts and just focus on putting the ball in play.

Rookie second baseman Kolten Wong will be under the microscope after struggling at the plate at the end of last season.

If Wong struggles, newcomer Mark Ellis will be there to take over at second base.

Of course, you have Yadier Molina behind the plate.

The offense has a chance to be very good.

Peralta, who was nailed for PED use last season while with Detroit, should make a big difference.

As far as pitching goes, the starting five to start the season are Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly.

A southpaw starter would be nice, but Jaime Garcia is injury prone and unreliable.

The bullpen looks strong with the likes of Randy Choate, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal to close it out. Jason Motte is back after having Tommy John surgery last year, but it will take time for him to return to full strength.

All and all, I expect the Cardinals to win the NL Central.

Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Milwaukee will provide a challenge, but will run out of gas in September.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the NL West and the Washington Nationals will take the NL East.

The two National League wild card winners will be San Francisco and Atlanta.

In the American League, division winners will be Detroit in the Central, Oakland in the West and Boston in the East.

Wild card winners will be New York and Kansas City.

The World Series will come down to Los Angeles and Detroit with the Dodgers winning it all.

As far as individual awards go, I’m picking Wong to be the NL rookie of the year.

There are plenty of NL MVP candidates. Names I’ll throw in the mix are Craig, Washington’s Bryce Harper, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman, Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, Los Angeles’ Hanley Ramirez, Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt.

In the end, it’s going to be Molina who finally wins the MVP award.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is the popular pick to win the NL Cy Young award, but I’ll go with Miami’s Jose Fernandez.

Predicting the AL MVP is a lot easier. You have to go with Mike Trout of the Angels.

Texas’ Yu Darvish will win the AL Cy Young, although Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer will be in the mix.

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Area Scoreboard

Football

Friday, Sept. 19

*Ft. Zumwalt S 56, Washington 7

Borgia 42, Cardinal Ritter 6

*Union 55, St. Clair 35

*Sullivan 27, Pacific 10

Owensville 19, Hermann 16

St. James 28, Ash Grove 7

Brentwood 41, Cuba 24

*St. Charles West 49, Warrenton 7

South Callaway 55, Wright City 6

Friday, Sept. 12

*Ft. Zumwalt North 49, Washington 0

*Borgia 35, St. Dominic 0

*Union 27, Pacific 19

*Sullivan 47, St. Clair 21

Hermann 65, Wentzville Liberty 7

*Owensville 29, St. James 28 (OT)

Cuba 22, Windsor 6

*Warrenton 14, St. Charles 6

*Bowling Green 55, Wright City 0

Friday, Sept. 5

Warrenton 14, Washington 6

Borgia 13, Maplewood-Richmond Heights 0 (forfeit)

*Union 32, Sullivan 19

*Pacific 20, St. Clair 18

*Hermann 52, St. James 20

Owensville 35, Cuba 8

*Wright City 36, Montgomery Co. 0

Friday, Aug. 29

Sullivan 30, Washington 8

Borgia 56, Union 13

Ozark 41, St. Clair 0

Potosi 34, Pacific 13

Hermann 54, Cuba 12

Blair Oaks 42, Owensville 0

St. James 36, Houston 18

Warrenton 28, Troy 0

Orchard Farm 36, Wright City 18

Friday, Aug. 22

Washington 26, St. Clair 21

Borgia 48, Owensville 12

Parkway West 49, Union 39

Pacific 28, De Soto 20

Park Hills Central 34, Sullivan 27

St. James 12, Cuba 6

Hermann 61, Montgomery Co 12

Warrenton 26, St. Dominic 23

Trinity 28, Wright City 24

Softball

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Borgia at Notre Dame    4:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt N    4:30 p.m.

*Union at Owensville    4:30 p.m.

*Pacific at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Hermann at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

Washington at Warrenton    4:30 p.m.

Sullivan at Northwest    4:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

*St. Dominic at Borgia    3:45 p.m.

*Union at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

*Owensville at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19

Union at Ft. Zumwalt N Tny    TBA

South Callaway at New Haven    5 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

Union at Ft. Zumwalt N Tny    TBA

St. James Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 22

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt S    4:30 p.m.

Union at North County    4:30 p.m.

Warrenton at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

Principia at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Hermann at Cuba    4:30 p.m.

Owensville at Cuba    4:30 p.m.

St. James at Bourbon    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

*Borgia at Duchesne    4:30 p.m.

*Holt at Washington    4:30 p.m.

*Pacific at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Owensville at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*Hermann at St. James    4:30 p.m.

Volleyball

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Sullivan at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    5 p.m.

*New Haven at Union    5:30 p.m.

*Pacific at Hermann    5:30 p.m.

*Owensville at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

Washington at Duchesne    5 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

*St. Clair at Owensville    5 p.m.

*Union at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

*Hermann at New Haven    5:30 p.m.

*St. James at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

O’Fallon Christian at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Washington at Gateway Match Up    TBA

Friday, Sept. 19

Eagle Ridge at Crosspoint    5:15 p.m.

Providence at Crosspoint    7:15 p.m.

Washington at Gateway Match Up    TBA

Saturday, Sept. 20

New Haven Round Robin    9 a.m.

ECC at Wentworth    1 p.m.

ECC vs. Graceland JV (Wentworth)    3 p.m.

Washington at Gateway Match Up    TBA

St. Clair at Seckman Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 22

St. Clair at Salem    5 p.m.

Bourbon at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

Dixon at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Hermann Tournament    TBA

Tuesday, Sept. 23

Cuba at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Crosspoint at Bethel    5:30 p.m.

Crosspoint vs. Thomas Jefferson    6:30 p.m.

Hermann Tournament    TBA

Boys Soccer

Tuesday, Sept. 16

Crosspoint at Fulton St. Albans    4:30 p.m.

Tolton Catholic at Borgia    5:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

*St. Louis at ECC    4:30 p.m.

Union at Affton    5 p.m.

St. Clair at De Soto    5 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

*St. Clair at St. James    5 p.m.

Dixon at Sullivan    5 p.m.

Borgia at Trinity    6:15 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19

Eagle Ridge at Crosspoint    4:30 p.m.

Tolton at Fulton SA    5 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

*Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    10 a.m.

Crowder at ECC    2 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 22

Hillsboro at Union    5 p.m.

CYC Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Sept. 23

*Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    4:30 p.m.

North County at Union    5 p.m.

*St. James at Pacific    5 p.m.

*Borgia at St. Dominic    6:15 p.m.

CYC Tny    TBA

Cross Country

Thursday, Sept. 18

St. Clair at Lutheran North    4 p.m.

New Haven, St. James at Steelville Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

Festus Inv.    9 a.m.

Hermann at Fulton Inv    9 a.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25

Washington at Rolla Inv    4 p.m.

Union, Owensville, St. James at Belle Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 27

Hancock Inv    8:30 a.m.

Pacific at Viburnum Inv    10:30 a.m.

Monday, Sept. 29

St. Clair at Elsberry Inv    4 p.m.

St. James at Dixon    4 p.m.

Girls Golf

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Borgia at St. Dominic    3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

Duchesne at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    3:30 p.m.

Borgia at AAA Meet, Lutheran SC    TBA

Wednesday, Sept. 24

Washington at GAC Central Meet    TBA

Thursday, Sept. 25

*Duchesne at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Boys Swimming

Saturday, Sept. 20

Borgia at Ft. Zumwalt W    8:30 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 29

Washington at Ft. Zumwalt South    3:30 p.m.

*Conference Games

Racing News