One Month In..
We’re through the first month of the 2012 baseball season for the St. Louis Cardinals. As play begins today, the Redbirds have a 3 ½ game lead on Cincinnati. Milwaukee, Houston and Pittsburgh are five games behind and the Cubs are in last place, seven games off the pace.
As the singer Meat Loaf observed in the late ‘70s, two out of three ain’t bad. The Cards have won all but one of the series so far this year. We have yet to see a series sweep, but those will come. The Cards winning percentage is .640. Over a full season, that means 104 wins.
Pitching is driving this good start. Even without Chris Carpenter, this rotation is as good as you will find in 21st century baseball. Adam Wainright’s arm isn’t at full strength, but he’s sorted out what is and is not working right now. Jaime Garcia is still better at home than he is on the road, but he’s showing signs of developing more consistency. The new, leaner and quicker Jake Westbrook is pitching as well as he ever has, Lance Lynn is making the most of his opportunity to crack the starting rotation.
Tonight’s starter is Kyle Lohse. I wasn’t enthused a few years back when Lohse came to the Cardinals. He wasn’t consistent and seemed to get sidetracked too easily. But, he’s responded well to Dave Duncan and has matured into a solid starter. That arm injury in ’09 slowed him for about 14 months. When Lohse is hitting his spots and keeping the ball down, he’s outstanding.
The offense isn’t missing Albert Pujols even a little bit. I’m of the opinion that Pujols will miss the Cardinal lineup more than they miss him. More on that in a post at some point in the future. Carlos Beltran is healthy again and he’s hammering away as he did back through his time in Kansas City. I’m also considering the possibility that the David Freese the world discovered last October might be the real David Freese. Remember, his career has been slowed by a series of injuries—including some unusual ones like dropping a weight on his foot. I recall George Brett having a similar rash of injury problems fairly early in his career. Lance Berkman should be off the disabled list soon. I’m not worried about Matt Holliday. Looks to me like he’s hitting in bad luck more than anything else. That sort of thing doesn’t go on forever.