re: MLB: COMMENCE HOLDING PATTERN
David Freese is going to start the season on the DL, too. And then there's the Jason Motte situation. Carlos Beltran is probably going to play on opening day but his toe may still be troubling him.
Cardinals are kind of a Jekyll/Hyde team. Their 2012 season is about as good a case study as there is. Remarkable run differential, the best in baseball. But if you look at the numbers, most of that was built up so ridiculously high in the first two months of the season. And I don't think you have to be a Cardinals fan or hater to see that that team fluctuates rather wildly over the course of months, weeks and even innings, in its distribution of runs scored. (All teams do, of course, but the Cardinals take it to another level.) Their rotation is kind of sturdy if very unspectacular. A strong bullpen but Mike Matheny's management of it always seems at least a touch suspect unless the game goes exactly according to script for his team.
That said, I think the Cards have the better all-around rotation than the Reds, from 1-5. Bullpen is kind of a push with Chapman back closing for the Reds. Reds probably have the better bullpen this minute, but the arms the Cardinals are grooming may soon change that. Dusty leaves his pitchers in for too long; Matheny does likewise. Dusty is old and stuck in his ways. Maybe Matheny isn't.
Leadoff spot troubles aside, Reds lineup scares the shit out of me, though. Cardinals can and will do damage but as proven last year, a lot of their offensive attack is driven by Carlos Beltran in lieu of Albert Pujols. Beltran was white-hot for the first three, four months of the season, and then slowly cooled off in the latter two months, especially from late August on. But he still delivered a hell of a season. Does he have that kind of season left in him for 2013, as he approaches his 36th birthday with so many past injuries?
If Oscar Taveras is everything it looks like he is, I can't see how Beltran remains a Cardinal past this year. Matt Holliday is locked in LF, and Jon Jay has made CF his home. I would have to think Taveras becomes the RF for the Cards in 2014. There's nowhere else for him to go, it would seem to me.