Updated April 10
If there was one year the Cardinals couldn't be without Chris Carpenter, this would have to be it. As it is, pitching coach Dave Duncan will need to do his most brilliant work yet.
|New starter Adam Wainwright was the Cardinals' closer during their playoff run last season. (AP)|
Not exactly imposing.
If you're keeping score: Looper and Wainwright, perhaps their two best active starters, had a combined zero career starts coming into this season. The failed closer and October hero closer have both transitioned to starting -- albeit with impressive results so far.
Wells, also taken off the scrap heap like Carpenter and Looper, is woefully under .500 for his career. Reyes has loads of potential. But, unfortunately, potential doesn't always produce the necessary results.
Further, losing Looper and Wainwright has weakened a bullpen that didn't add anything significant in the offseason; fixing the rotation was priority No. 1. Luckily, Jason Isringhausen's hip surgery seems to have fixed things, but outside of Izzy, that bullpen is on the bad side of scary.
The NL Central isn't a tough division, which helps, but remember -- the Cardinals were just an 83-win playoff team last season when Carpenter was far healthier and the rest of the rotation far more experienced.
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This and a home sweep at the hands of the Mets compel us to drop the World Series champions to No. 13 in CBS SportsLine.com's latest Power Rankings. Usually we cannot get a true read on things this early, but the vibe is unusually bad for a team coming off a World Series title -- one that won with the lowest regular-season win total in baseball history, no less.
Of course, we still rank them ahead of the rest of their division and Carpenter should be plenty healthy by the time they need him as a stopper again. It might only take a month.
Someone in the NL Central better be ready to kick them while they are down. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
The complete Power Rankings: