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Yahoo gives its 2009 Cardinals prediction

If nothing else changes between now and opening day, Yahoo! Sports says the Cardinals' payroll with drop from $99.6 million in 2008 to $91 million for 2009.

And while writer Steve Henson said the result will be less fans spinning the turnstiles at Busch Stadium, he still thinks the Cardinals might have a shot at the National League wild card.

Henson said the Cardinals have a strong offense -- if Troy Glaus can return and produce, a strong rotation -- if Chris Carpenter can somehow return to 2006 form and ... well ... a crummy bullpen that might make Redbird rooters think of last season's blown save fest as the good ol' days.

The Cardinals improved by eight victories in 2008, but they look like an 86-win team again. The fan base, perhaps the savviest in the National League, senses it, and season ticket sales are down, Henson writes. Catching the Cubs in the NL Central is a longshot, but competing for a wild-card berth isn’t.

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