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.

/

Area Scoreboard

Boys Basketball

Monday, Jan. 12

%St. Charles 85, Bayless 32

%Westminster 64, Washington 44

Fulton SA at Providence    7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Pacific 48, Eureka 38

%Borgia 72, St. Clair 36

#South Callaway 68, North Callaway 29

#Hermann 28, Russellville 13

Crosspoint 59, Heritage Christian Academy 18

%Francis Howell Central 87, Union 79

#New Bloomfield 63, Montgomery Co 59

#Harrisburg 48, New Haven 39

Thursday, Jan. 15

#North Callaway 65, Montgomery County 58

#South Callaway 84, New Bloomfield 58

Bethel at Fulton SA    6:30 p.m.

#Russellville 36, New Haven 34

#Harrisburg 51, Hermann 44

Friday, Jan. 16

%Washington 71, Bayless 43

%Union 65, St. Clair 52

*Crosspoint at Community Christian    6:30 p.m.

%St. Charles 67, Westminster 50

Providence at Fulton SA    7 pm.

#Seventh-place game — New Haven vs. Montgomery Co.    7:30 p.m.

Consolation game — Russellville vs. North Callaway    7:30 p.m.

%Borgia 60, Francis Howell Central 53

Saturday, Jan. 17

%Seventh-place game — Bayless 58, St. Clair 43

#Third-place game — Hermann vs. New Bloomfield   3:30 p.m.

%Consolation game — Washington 66, Union 59

%Third-place game — Westminster 66, Francis Howell Central 62

#Championship game — Harrisburg vs. South Callaway    6:30 p.m.

%Championship game — St. Charles 65, Borgia 40

Sunday, Jan. 18

Pacific vs. Jefferson City (Mizzou)    5:30 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 19

Union 86, Warrenton 62

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Park Hills Central 72, St. Clair 55

Fulton SA at Liberty Christian    6:30 p.m.

Crosspoint at CAGSL    7:30 p.m.

Linn 59, New Haven 38

Thursday, Jan. 22

Union 86, Cuba 72

Fulton SA at Rivers of Life    6 p.m.

Borgia 70, O'Fallon Christian 35

*Crosspoint at Thomas Jefferson    7 p.m.

Pacific 69, Wichita Independent 46

Friday, Jan. 23

Cuba at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Borgia at Trinity    6:45 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    7 p.m.

*Fulton SA at Crosspoint    7 p.m.

Pacific vs. Riverton at Frontenac Tny (Kan.)    8:30 p.m.

New Haven at Chamois    6 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 24

Pacific vs. TBA, Frontenac Tny (Kan.)    TBA

Monday, Jan. 26

^Rock Bridge 79, Northwest 27

^Lutheran South 76, Hillsboro 43

Owensville 41, Hermann 40

St. James 80, Montgomery County 39

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Jackson at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

^Borgia vs. Union    5:30 p.m.

~Warrenton vs. Chamois    6 p.m.

^Washington vs. St. Clair    7 p.m.

~Wright City vs. New Haven    7:30 p.m.

*Bethel at Crosspoint    7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

^Northwest vs. Hillsboro   5:30 p.m.

~Warrenton-Chamois loser vs. Wright City-New Haven loser    6 p.m.

~Warrenton-Chamois winner vs. Wright City-New Haven winner    6 p.m.

^Borgia-Union loser vs. Washington-St. Clair loser    7 p.m.

~Hermann-Owensville loser vs. Montgomery Co-St. James loser    7:30 p.m.

~Hermann-Owensville winner vs. Montgomery Co-St. James winner    7:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 30

^Rock Bridge vs. Lutheran South    5:30 p.m.

^Borgia-Union winner vs. Washington-St. Clair winner    7 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    7:30 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

^Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

~Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

^Consolation    4 p.m.

~Consolation    4 p.m.

^Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

~Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

^Championship    7 p.m.

~Championship    7 p.m.

%Washington Tournament

#South Callaway Tournament

^Union Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

Girls Basketball

Monday, Jan. 12

St. Clair 60, Lutheran South 49

Pacific 65, Lindbergh 40

@Washington 79, Patriettes 28

#Harrisburg 69,  Russellville 45

#New Bloomfield 54, Montgomery Co 29   

Fulton SA at Providence    6 p.m.

@Helias 47, Sullivan 42

#North Callaway 49 vs. New Haven 39 

#Hermann 44 vs. South Callaway 40

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Ursuline 63, Pacific 44

St. Clair 58, Ft. Zumwalt East 27

Heritage Classical at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

@St. Charles West 45, Union 38

@Borgia 57, Eureka 35

Wednesday, Jan. 14

#Russellville 43,  New Haven 24

#North Callaway 63, Harrisburg 57

# South Callaway 46, Montgomery Co 28

#New Bloomfield 58, Hermann 50

Thursday, Jan. 15

Bethel at Fulton SA    5 p.m.

St. Clair 54, Northwest 38

@Sullivan 64, Patriettes 32

@Union 56, Eureka 26

Friday, Jan. 16

@Helias 38, Washington 35

Providence at Fulton SA    5:30 p.m.

#Seventh-place game — New Haven 52, Montgomery County 40

#Consolation — Russellville vs.  South Callaway  6 p.m.

@Borgia 47, St. Charles West 37

Saturday, Jan. 17

@Seventh-place game — Eureka 69, Patriettes 39

#Third-place game — Hermann vs. Harrisburg   2 p.m.

@Consolation game — Sullivan 45, Union 38

@Third-place game — Washington 55, St. Charles West 37

#Championship — New Bloomfield vs. North Callaway    5 p.m.

@Championship — Borgia 37, Helias 36

Monday, Jan. 19

*Owensville 78,  St. Clair 68

Warrenton 51, Union 44

New Haven 44, Montgomery Cnty 40 

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:45 p.m.-rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 23

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Fulton SA at Liberty Christian    5 p.m.

Pacific 63, Parkway West 43

New Haven 35, Wellsville 26

Crosspoint at CAGSL    6 p.m.

Borgia 56, O'Fallon Christian 26

Wednesday, Jan. 21

Pacific 55, Eureka 40

Thursday, Jan. 22

*Washington 56, Ft. Zumwalt East 30

*Crosspoint at Thomas Jefferson    5:30 p.m.

Silex 45, New Haven 44

Borgia 67, Trinity 22

Friday, Jan. 23

*Fulton SA at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 26

^Holt 60, Pacific 57

^Warrenton 42, Union 40

~Owensville 64,  Montgomery Co 32

Borgia 62, Cardinal Ritter 41

^St. Clair 64, Lutheran South 45

~Hermann 57, Wright City 26

Washington 74, Wentzville Liberty 19

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Fulton SA at Barat    4:30 p.m.

~New Haven vs. Montgomery Co    6 p.m.

*Bethel at Crosspoint    6:15 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Wright City    7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

^Pacific vs. Union    4 p.m.

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    5 p.m.

^Wentzvillr Liberty vs. Lutheran South     5:30 p.m.

~Owensville vs. New Haven    6 p.m.

^Holt vs. Warrenton    7 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Chamois    7:30 p.m.

^Washington vs. St. Clair    8:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

*Borgia at Notre Dame    6:45 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 30

^Seventh-place game    4 p.m.

~Consolation    5 p.m.

^Consolation    5:30 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    6 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    6 p.m.

~Third-place game    6:30 p.m.

^Third-place game    7 p.m.

~Championship    8 p.m.

^Championship    8:30 p.m.

@Union Tournament

#South Callaway Tournament

^Washington Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

Wrestling

Tuesday, Jan. 20

*Ft. Zumwalt North 39, Washington 36

*Union 41, St. James 24

*Union 49, Sullivan 24

Warrenton 48, Union 30

Thursday, Jan. 22

Priory/Windsor at Pacific    5 p.m.

Borgia at Festus    5 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 23

Union, Pacific at MICDS Tny    TBA

Saturday, Jan. 24

Union, Pacific at MICDS Tny    TBA

St. Clair at Ft. Zumwalt South Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Jan. 27

*Pacific at St. Clair    6 p.m.

Borgia at Helias Tri-Meet    6 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Borgia at Lutheran St. Charles    5 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Union at Farmington/Summit    5 p.m.

*Pacific at St. James/Owensville    5:30 p.m.

Washington at Seckman    6 p.m.

St. Clair at De Soto    TBA

Friday, Jan. 30

St. Clair at Potosi/Festus    5 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

Pacific at Hazelwood East Tny    9 a.m.

Girls Swimming

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Timberland 140, Washington 96, Ft. Zumwalt East 87

Thursday, Jan. 22

Oakville 120, Washington 115, University City 9, Mehlville 6

Saturday, Jan. 24

Washington vs. Borgia    noon

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Washington at St. Charles West    3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Washington at Affton/Lutheran South    4:15 p.m.

Borgia at St. Dominic    8:30 p.m.

*Conference Games

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