The 10 biggest surprises of 2008
Top 10 surprises of 2008
1) Ryan Ludwick -- I knew he was a good player. But who would have predicted that he would hit .300, crack more than 30 homers, drive more than 100 runs and make the National League all-star team? It will be interesting to see next season if Ludwick is the guy who showed up in 2008 or the player he was for the first seven years of his career who couldn't stay healthy enough to be a starter.
2) Kyle Lohse -- Nobody wanted him over the off-season. He ended up signing with the Cardinals for a little more than half of what Joel Pineiro will make next season in a move that was met with a yawn by most and a chuckle by others. But he was dominant for most of the season and the Redbirds wouldn't have hung around in the race for as long as they did without him.
3) Yadier Molina -- He finally showed his potential as a hitter, batting over .300 when in the past sometimes it seemed like he couldn't hit .200.
4) Todd Wellemeyer -- A fantastic season for a guy who was let go by the Cubs, Royals and Marlins (twice.) He found the control that was elusive to him in previous seasons and learned to trust his stuff. Hopefully, his career will continue to take off from here.
5) Jim Edmonds signs with the Cubs. After he rejected the Cardinals plans to trade him to the White Sox over the off season because he only wanted to play near his kids in southern California if he left St. Louis, the Redbirds accommodated him and sent him to the Padres. When he stunk it up there the first two months of the season, the Fathers released him and he went out of his way to sign with the Cubs to "stick it to the Cardinals." He really stuck it to the fans, distancing himself from his time in St. Louis with his two-faced comments. Anyone want to buy a gently used Edmonds turn back the clock jersey? I'll never wear it again.
6) Troy Glaus' defense -- Critics made it sound like he had the glove of Edward Scissorhands. But Glaus proved to be very capable at the hot corner. He may not have the range of Scott Rolen, the guy he was traded for. But he also was a heckuva lot more productive than his predecessor at the plate. He hit more than 20 points higher than Rolen, hit three times as many home runs and twice the RBIs. Rolen was also healthy all season long while Rolen's troublesome shoulder -- along with a freak spring training injury -- kept Rolen familiar with the Toronto training staff.
7) Skip Schumaker -- He didn't have the flashy numbers of Ryan Ludwick. By the longtime reserve outfielder made his case to be a starter by hitting over .300 and playing solid defense all year long. Earlier in the year, he showed previously unseen pop in his bat.
8) No deal -- The Redbirds were rumored to be in several big deal at the trade deadline. But, ultimately, the team decided that it wouldn't part with the prospects necessary to make it happen. The veterans seethed and the team sank to below .500 since after the vote of no confidence by ownership.
9) Kyle McClellan -- The local product came out of nowhere in spring training to stabilize the St. Louis bullpen for most of the year. The coaching staff has hinted that it might try to make him into a starter next season, giving the kid an even bigger role.
10) Colby Rasmus -- The top Cardinals prospect was supposed to be in St. Louis sooner rather than later. But, after a strong spring training in which manager Tony La Russa raved that he was a major league-ready player when questioned about not having enough starters in a split squad game, Rasmus hit less than .250 in Class AAA Memphis before a knee injury put him out for a month. How bad was his supposed coming of age season? He didn't even get the Sept. 1 call up because the skipper said he didn't earn it.