The Best of the Bunch:
Albert Pujols (1B/OF):
Written by Jonathan Leshanski
Published: 12 March 2008
When he’s healthy Pujols is one of the best fantasy players in the game. There’s a trick to that: How healthy is he really going to be in 2008? It’s no secret he needs elbow surgery - and the surgery will be something akin to a ligament replacement surgery. How much will it affect him this year? Still he needed this surgery last year - and he still hit .327-32-103-99 so it’s hard not to draft him in the top 10.
The Second Tier:
Adam Wainwright (SP):
He’s the best pitcher the Cards have coming into the season but he’s far from being fantasy gold. His record last season 14-12, 3.70, 136 Ks, and a 1.35 WHIP shows mixed value fantasy wise. The WHIP and low strikeout totals will dissuade a lot of people from drafting him, but he’s at an age where improvement should be coming.
Chris Duncan (OF):
After Pujols this guy is the elite hitter on this team and at this point he’s nominally a second tier player but gets there mainly based on his upside. He’ll bat cleanup and does have enough power to park 30 in the seats - but that’s far from a sure thing. The Cards are relying a lot on him, but I wouldn’t want to think of him as more than a mid round sleeper at this point.
Jason Isringhausen (CL):
He’s the Cards franchise leader in saves and notched 30 plus saves seven of the past eight seasons and posted a 2.48 ERA last season. That’ll get him drafted in the top half of closers this year.
The Third Tier:
Yadier Molina (C):
Molina had a career year with the bat last year but that .275-6-40 is about what you can expect - his upside numbers won’t be better than .275-10-60. Still if you are scraping the barrel his name is worth remembering.
Troy Glaus (3B):
Most people will look at Glaus last season and remember the injury plagued slugger who managed a .262-20-62 last season, but those looking for value might take heart in the fact that Glaus is moving from turf to natural grass and could easily surpass the 385 AB he got last season. He’s still got the power, the only question is can he tap it to hit 30 home runs again.
Cesar Izturis (SS):
Someone has to hit at the top of the order ahead of Pujols, and it just might be the low-OBP Izturis. Last year’s primary number two hitter, Duncan, will likely move down lower in the order to make more use of his power.
The Question Marks:
Rick Ankiel (OF):
So much power, so much potential, so many questions, including the one which the commissioner might be asking, Should I suspend him for HGH use. He could easily hit 25 home runs, but he could easily strikeout 140 times.
Braden Looper (SP):
The real question is if the converted reliever can improve on last season’s 12-12, 4.96 season. At 34 it seems a bit of a stretch.
Mark Mulder (SP):
Mulder hasn’t been a good pitcher since 2005 but he’s been plagued by shoulder issues. He only managed 11 innings last year and has since undergone surgery to correct the problem. He’s been working out hard to get ready for the season and if he’s 85% of what he was back in ’05 he’ll be a good late round pickup.
Joel Pineiro (SP):
He’ll probably be used as reliever rather than a starter but depending on how bad the pitching situation is at any given moment he could end up back in the rotation. Even if that happens he’s probably not worth a pickup.
Matt Clement (SP):
Clement hasn’t pitched since 2006 but he’s definitely got a shot at making the rotation but unless he pitches well this spring, I wouldn’t do more than keep an eye on him.
The Great Debate:
Chris Carpenter (SP):
Carpenter will be lucky to pitch a half season this year and if he shows up around June he might be worth picking up, but can he return to ace form? Elbows can be very tricky, and anyone coming off Tommy John really needs 18 months to find the magic again.
Colby Rasmus (OF):
He’ll be up at some point this season and he’ll be the team’s leadoff hitter. Baseball America rated him the Cards best prospect but he’s never played above Class AA at this point in his career. Still in keeper leagues I’d be hanging on to him - he’s a true 30-30 prospect.