I hope the Cardinals can carry over their reconstituted speed game into the regular season.
So far in Grapefruit League play, the Cardinals have swiped 18 bags in 22 tries. In all of last season, the Birds only swiped 56 bases in 96 attempts. Not only was the total low, but the percentage of the time runners were successful was absolutely terrible.
One of the benefits of losing Albert Pujols is that he stifled the running game at the top of the order. Pujols didn't like runners moving around on the bases in front of him because if a runner went from first to second, the pitcher was likely going to take advantage of the open base and walk Albert. So the guys at the top of the order who are expected to be able to get on base a lot and be good runners were suddenly anchored to the bag.
The other factor that may help the Cardinals steal more bases is the loss of Skip Schumaker to injury. According to the Cardinals, Schumaker tore an oblique and is expected to be out for a while. That opens a space for a lefty hitting extra outfielder. Enter Rule Five draftee Erik Komatsu who leads the Birds in stolen bases this spring with five swipes in six tries.
The loss of Schumaker also opens up more time at second base for Tyler Greene who led the Cardinals in stolen bases last season with 11 stolen bases in 11 tries. He's got four in five attemts so far this spring.
I'm not saying I want to trade the Cardinals recent slugging ways for the teams of the 1980s that struggled to hit more homers in a season than Roger Maris did in 1961. What I would like to see is more balance and more options when it comes to scoring runs.
The Redbirds would benefit from being able to manufacture runs when the opportunity arose instead of counting on three-run homers. Plus, it's just exciting to watch players steal bases and hit and run.