, St. Louis (PressExposure) May 01, 2009 -- The 2006 World Series winners, the Saint Louis Cardinals, finished with 86 wins last season and should be in the hunt for the playoffs in 2009. Injuries and inexperienced youth was the topic of sports talk most of last year but if the Cards can avoid any of those major injuries it can only translate into more wins and a greater chance of competing with the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central division.
Most of last year's team is back and a 2005 Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter at full strength could propel the Cards into a legitimate fight for the division title. There is an abundance of reasons to look forward to the 2009 season for the Cards.
Tony La Russa may be the biggest reason the St. Louis Cardinals have a chance to make it back to the Fall Classic in 2009. It's his proven record of success that makes you think he's destined to bring them back again:
â¢ 2006 he became the first manager ever to win multiple pennants in both the NL and AL â¢ 2006 one of only two managers to win the World Series in both leagues â¢ With a 2,461-2,146-3 (.534) record as a manager he is number three on the All-time Wins and All-time games managed (4,610) behind Connie Mack leading at 7,755 (3,731-3,948-76), and John McGraw at 4,769 (2,763-1,948-58) â¢ La Russa is one of only 4 managers to win Manager of the year award in both the NL and AL and the only manager to win the award 4 times â¢ No manager has won more games for the Cardinals â¢ One of only a handful of managers in the history of baseball to also have a law degree.
La Russa and his record come into the 2009 season with plenty of things to look forward to.
The Cardinal's starting rotation looks pretty good with Adam Wainright (11-3, 3.20 ERA, 20 starts last year), Kyle Lohse (15-6, 3.78 ERA, 33 starts, 200 IP), Todd Wellemeyer (13-9, 3.71 ERA, 32 starts, 191 IP), Joel Piniero (7-7, 5.15 ERA, 25 starts), and Chris Carpenter. Carpenter seems to be ready for a normal season again after two minimal seasons. If he can look anything like his past years at normal health the Cardinals should expect to be a solid contender.
The best first baseman in all of baseball is the reigning National League MVP Albert Pujols (.357, 37 HR, 116 RBI, .462 OBP) and La Russa has been working hard to protect his bat with different line-ups this spring training with interesting success. In the Cardinal's outfield we may notice one of baseball's best prospects and that would be Colby Rasmus. There has been a lot of talk about this being his year to become a consistent major leaguer. Rasmus is the face of the future for this Cardinal's ballclub and another evidence that another year under the belt means nothing but good news.
The 2009 St. Louis Cardinals may be primarily young but with one of the all-time great managers and the 2006 World Series championship just a few years removed this may be another very, very good year.