Continuing our Face of the MLB tournament, let us know who you think is the Face of the Cardinals by voting in the poll below.
Dan McLaughlin broke the news that pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel would retire from baseball on the St. Louis Cardinals broadcast, and would like to join the front office.
Ankiel pitched in the majors from 1999-2004, taking 2002 and 2003 off due to arm injuries. He attempted to resume his pitching career once more in 2004, but was unsuccessful with recurring injuries.
In 2005, Ankiel returned to the majors for the St. Louis Cardinals as an outfielder, for whom he had played with from 1999-2004. Ankiel spent his outfield years with the Cardinals, Royals, Braves, Nationals, Astros, and Mets, before finally calling it quits.
Ankiel had made a name for himself with a cannon of an arm from the outfielder, and finished his career with a fielding percentage of 97.9%.
As a pitcher, Ankiel had a career 3.90 ERA in 242 innings. He had a decent 8.1 K/9 and 0.9 BB/9.
In his 11 year career, Ankiel had a .240/.302/.422 slash line with 76 hom runs in 2115 plate appearances spread out over 653 total games.
In case you don’t know already the teams in the NL central are the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, and Reds.
1: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have re emerged as one of the powers on the National League. The reason I think the Bucs will win this year is the Cardinals have weakened. Another reason is they have the pressure of having a winning season off their backs. Now they can focus on going further in the playoffs and winning the division. If they pick up a solid starting pitcher on the free agent market they can make a serious run for the World Series. They basically have the same team as last year (minus Garrett Jones, and possibly A.J. Burnett) so I think they can make a repeat playoff appearance.
2: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals will miss Carlos Beltran’s power in the lineup, but knowing the Cardinals’ organization, they will find a way to stay in the playoff race. I think their key will be power hitting first baseman Matt Adams, and newly acquired Jhonny Peralta. If Matt Adams can start the 2014 season where he left off in the playoffs, he may be able to fill the hole left empty by Carlos Beltran. Peralta will definitely be an upgrade at shortstop over Daniel Descalso. Peralta has 2.8 WAR rating over Descalso’s 0.2 . Because of the always solid starting rotation and new additions, the Cardinals will stay in the division race.
3: Milwaukee Brewers
Surprise! The reason I think the Brewers will finish in third (with the Reds not far behind) is that Ryan Braun will be playing with a fire under his butt, trying to win the fans back, and if he has a solid year that would be a huge boost (needless to say). With the energy of Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Matt Garza, and the veteran presence of Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, and Jonathan Lucroy I think the Brewers have enough to possibly compete in the division/wild race.
4: Cincinnati Reds
I have no doubt that the Cincinnati Reds can finish higher than I predict them to, but I just don’t see it happening. The Brewers are re-stocked, the Cardinals are almost always good, and the Pirates are pretty stacked. But that doesn’t mean they can’t compete. They have a solid starting rotation with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey. They also have one of the best left handed hitters in the league in Joey Votto, and one of the better defensive players in the league in Brandon Phillips. But one of the wild cards with this Reds team is who is going to get traded before the season starts. Brandon Phillips has said he would like to be traded, and Homer Bailey’s contract expires at the end of the season and GM Walt Jocketty has said he will not re-sign him at the end of the season.
5: Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are the only team in the central not fit to compete this year. I think they will do better than last year, but not enough to get out of the NL central basement. But don’t worry, the Cubs time will come. As a Cubs fan I am very excited for the future.