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

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Thursday, Dec. 18

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

%Washington vs. TBA    4 p.m.

%Borgia vs. Poplar Bluff    5:30 p.m.

%St. Clair vs. TBA    TBA

%Sullivan Shootout

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Pattonville vs. Farmington, 4 p.m.

Sullivan vs. Owensville, 5:30 p.m.

Principia vs. Pattonville, 7 p.m.

Borgia vs. Cuba, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Francis Howell    7 p.m.

Sullivan Tournament    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Washington at Kennedy    6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Washington at Lindbergh    4 p.m.

*Conference Games

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