A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE CARDINALS
If the staff stays healthy, they'll be back on top again. Adam Wainwright is gonna be fine once he gets over his abdominal strain. He knows how to take care of his body, when to push himself, when not to.... Lance Lynn is a bulldog. The way he attacks the strike zone and lets his defense work for him is one of his biggest pluses.... Michael Wacha's arm is healthy. He's got the potential to be an All-Star—I don't think a perennial All-Star but a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy, as long as he continues to develop that third pitch and command of the fastball.... Jason Heyward will add a lot to that team. A plus defender, he probably hits in the 2 hole with Matt Holliday in the 3 hole, so he'll get Holliday a lot more pitches to hit. They do become a little lefthand-heavy, especially when Jon Jay is in the lineup.... Matt Adams is still on that learning curve. At times he gets overly aggressive and puts himself in bad counts. But the power is there.... Yadier Molina looks very fit; he's lost some weight.... I'd expect Jhonny Peralta to put up the same type of numbers as last year. But he can be pitched to—you can tie him up inside, and he's very aggressive early in the counts.... Kolten Wong needs to understand the zone a little more, but he's got pop and speed; he'll have a big breakout season.... It's not a very sexy bullpen, but it's workmanlike. It helps that they have the strong rotation; you can give the guys a blow when they need it.
Mike Matheny has reached the postseason with the Cardinals in each of his first three seasons as manager, but that doesn't mean he can't work on some things. Matheny has shown a notable lack of patience with younger players. He cut the playing time of Kolten Wong and Peter Bourjos less than a month into the 2014 season and showed little patience for the development of Carlos Martinez as a starter. While the Cardinals are a veteran team, they will be integrating a number of young players such as Martinez, lefty Marco Gonzales and outfielders Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty over the next few seasons. Matheny, who can best be described as an old-school manager in both demeanor and tactics, has to be able to work those players into his rotation. The medium-market Cardinals will need production from minimum-salaried young players to subsidize their high-priced talent.
LEAGUE RANK 3
MANAGER MIKE MATHENY 4TH SEASON WITH CARDINALS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
JOHN BAZEMORE/AP (HEYWARD)
DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MARTINEZ)