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, 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

Friday, Aug. 29

Washington at Sullivan    7 p.m.

Union at Borgia     7 p.m.

St. Clair at Ozark    7 p.m.

Potosi at Pacific    7 p.m.

Cuba at Hermann    7 p.m.

Blair Oaks at Owensville    7 p.m.

Houston at St. James    7 p.m.

Troy at Warrenton    7 p.m.

Wright City at Orchard Farm    7 p.m.

Volleyball

Friday, Aug. 22

@Neosho Co def. ECC, 26-24, 25-14, 25-23

Marquette def. Washington 25-19, 25-20

@ECC def. Labette, 25-15, 13-15, 25-20, 25-18

Crosspoint at Community Christian    6:30 p.m.

Crosspoint vs. St. Louis Panthers    7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 23

@ECC vs. Fort Scott    11 a.m.

@ECC vs. Pratt    5 p.m.

Sullivan at Windsor Tny    TBA

Monday, Aug. 25

Steelville at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Hermann at Montgomery Co    6 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Pacific at Seckman    4:15 p.m.

Union at Potosi    5 p.m.

Washington at Francis Howell C    5 p.m.

Pacific at Farmington    5 p.m.

New Haven at Cuba    5:30 p.m.

Owensville at Bourbon    5:30 p.m.

St. James at Salem    5:30 p.m.

Cardinal Ritter at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Central Methodist JV at ECC    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Potosi at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Notre Dame at Borgia, 5 p.m.

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

Battle at Union    5:30 p.m.

Hermann at Jefferson City    5:30 p.m.

Belle at New Haven    5:30 p.m.

Linn at Owensville    6 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 29

Mississippi Valley at Crosspoint    5 p.m.

Softball

Friday, Aug. 22

Rolla at St. James    7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 23

New Haven Tournament    8 a.m.

Lutheran South at Sullivan    10 a.m.

Union Tournament

Union Sports Complex

G1 Washington 21, St. Clair 0

G2 Pacific 15, Liberty 3

G3 Farmington 15, Union 0

G4 Park Hills Central 4, Borgia 2

G5 Liberty 6, St. Clair 5

G6 Union 9, Borgia 2

G7 Washington 5, Pacific 4

G8 Farmington 5, Park Hills Central 2

Consolation — Union vs. Liberty Postponed due to heat

Seventh Place — Borgia 16, St. Clair 0

Championship — Farmington 5, Washington 0

Third Place — Park Hills Central 7, Pacific 6

Monday, Aug. 25

*Notre Dame at Borgia    3:45 p.m.

Union 14, Rolla 7

New Haven at Cuba    4:30 p.m.

St. James at Salem    4:30 p.m.

Belle at Owensville    5 p.m.

Sullivan at Westminster Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Aug. 26

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

Warrenton at Union    6 p.m.

Duchesne at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

Steelville at Owensville    4:30 p.m.

Vienna at St. James    4:30 p.m.

Wright City at St. Clair    6 p.m.

New Bloomfield at New Haven    5 p.m.

Hermann at Montgomery Co    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Borgia at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Borgia at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

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

Bourbon at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

Owensville at Linn    4:30 p.m.

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

Friday, Aug. 29

Pacific at Lutheran South    4:15 p.m.

New Haven at Wellsville    4:30 p.m.

Belle at St. James    4:30 p.m.

Washington at Battle Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 30

Washington at Battle Tny    TBA

Boys Soccer

Friday, Aug. 22

Crosspoint at ER    4:30 p.m.

Festus at Union PPD, Rescheduled for Oct. 13

#Washington 2, Bishop DuBourg 1

Fulton SA at Rock Bridge Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 23

#Rockwood Summit 8, Washington 0

Fulton SA at Rock Bridge Tny    TBA

Sunday, Aug. 24

Heartland at ECC    1 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

*Union at St. James    5 p.m.

St. Clair at Fredericktown    5 p.m.

Pacific at Hillsboro    5 p.m.

Sullivan at SLUH    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Borgia at Union    7 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Union at De Soto    5 p.m.

Pacific at North County    5 p.m.

*St. James at Sullivan    5 p.m.

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:15 p.m.

Washington at Pky W/Northwest Tny    TBA

Friday, Aug. 29

Mississippi Valley at Crosspoint    4:30 p.m.

ECC at McKendree JV    7 p.m.

Washington at Pky W/Northwest Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 30

Washington at Pky W/Northwest Tny    TBA

Cross Country

Friday, Aug. 22

Sullivan at Fleet Feet Inv    4 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Borgia at Parkway Central Inv    TBA

Friday, Aug. 29

St. Clair at First Capitol Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 30

Washington at Lafayette Inv    9 a.m.

Girls Golf

Monday, Aug. 25

Washington at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Washington at Troy    3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

*Borgia at Kennedy    TBA

Boys Swimming

Friday, Aug. 29

Borgia, Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E Inv    3:30 p.m.

*Conference Games

@Fort Scott Tournament

#Parkway West/Northwest Tournament

Racing News