Despite the fact that Mr. Cheapskate decided to spend very little of his precious money on improving the offense(outside of adding Spicoli and his .210 average), I'm excited about the potential that exists in the Cardinal lineup. Particularly the power potential. And yes, I was joking about DeWitt. He's a good man that knows what he's doing.
There may not be a team in baseball with more power than the Cardinals. There are a lot of question marks surrounding that power but the potential is there.
-Albert Pujols hitting anywhere from 35-45 home runs a year. It is a given unless injury strikes(knocking on every piece of wood I can find).
-Ryan Ludwick coming off a year in which he hit 37 bombs. Who knows what 2009 has in store for Ryan as he could either fall back to Earth or prove that he's for real. But we at least know he has plus major league power potential and could hit 30 home runs this year. Hopefully having Pujols near him in the lineup continues to help him. Most remember Ludwick struggling in late June when Albert missed 2 weeks with injury. Once the Mang returned so did Luddy.
-Troy Glaus who hit 3 home runs in the first two months of last season combined and still wound up with 27 home runs. Even though he's going to be missing April, Troy could still be good for close to 30 HRs this year if he gets into a groove soon after returning. Of course it would be really nice to see him hit around .270 again and keep the strikeouts down as well.
-Rick Ankiel hitting 36 homers in 585 ABs these past two years. I'm praying so hard that Rick can stay healthy this year. If he does it probably means his time in a Redbird uniform will come to an end as he'll be getting rich over the winter. But it also means big production in the middle of the order. I would also like to add that I believe Ankiel is an underrated hitter. He hit .285 in his position player debut in 2007 and was hitting .282 until he started playing through hernia problems near the end of last season. A .280, 35 HR season could be in Rick's future if he just stays healthy. I can't wait.
-Chris Duncan finally back to full health and feeling good. He hit 20+ HRs in a platoon role in 2006 and 2007. In my opinion, it is close to a given that lil Dunc could hit 30 HRs if he's feeling healthy and getting 500 ABs. Now in the Cardinal lineup he won't get that many at bats but at least in the past he has been able to handle platooning well. So like with everyone else, it is just a matter of staying healthy, feeling good and the numbers will be good. His numbers early on in spring training are encouraging.
-Joe Mather with the nickname "Joey Bombs." In just 133 at bats last year Mather was able to slug 8 home runs. Then go down to the AAA level and he hit 17 home runs in 211 at bats. Geez Joe, did you take all of Popeye's spinach? We talk all the time about how nice it would be to see Skip Schumake make a somewhat smooth transition to 2B, but how nice would it be to see Joe Mather make a somewhat smooth transition to 3B to fill in for Glaus? My big concern about Mather in 2009 is hitting or laying off the breaking ball away. If he can handle those we could see a good numbers across the board from Mather this year.
-Khalil Greene exiting the power zapping Petco Park where he has actually been able to put up solid power numbers. It wasn't too long ago that Greene hit 27 home runs in his only full big league season. Even in an absolutely terrible year in 2008 he hit 10 home runs in 389 at bats. So Greene certainly has plus power for a shortstop and he will provide plus power from the bottom of the order. The big question is can he raise the average, increase the walk totals and cut down on the strikeouts a little? We shall see.
-Colby Rasmus probably hitting 74 homers this year. Alright maybe not that many but I think if Rasmus is given consistent playing time he'll hit his fair share of round-trippers. Considering that he will likely either hit 1st, 2nd or 9th in the Cardinals lineup, if he makes the team, his power would be a plus. However, I don't know how likely it is that he will make the team out of spring training. It is certainly more possible with Mather and Schumaker playing the infield but you've still got three hitters in the outfield that hit better against righties. Plus Mather returns to the outfield in May and he could be very deserving of playing time. Perhaps Duncan is dealt during the year if he is hitting well and a platoon of Rasmus and Mather emerges in LF. Who knows? What we do know is that Colby hit 29 homers in AA at the age of 20 and most scouts project good home run totals from him in the future.
There could certainly be a lot of strikeouts and .240-.270 averages in the Cardinal lineup to go along with a ton of home runs, but if there is one thing the Baseball Writers Association of America has taught us it's that a .250 average, 50 HRs and 200 Ks is close to being worthy of an MVP award.