My biggest questions/concerns about the Cardinals as spring training gets set to start:
1) Can they keep it up? The Cardinals got what could be considered a career year from several players including Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina and -- even though his power wasn't as present as we've come to expect -- Allen Craig. Can the Cardinals keep producing at the pace they did last year? Can Shelby Miller avoid a sophomore slump? Will Carpenter's bat be impacted negatively by a move back to third base? We think we know who a lot of the Redbirds young players are. But the only thing that will prove it will be repeating their success year after year.
2) Can the Cardinals stay healthy? Injuries -- or, more accurately, the ability to overcome injuries -- played a big role in the 2013 season. When we lost saw the Cardinals Allen Craig and Oscar Taveras couldn't run because of ankle injuries, closer Jason Motte couldn't pitch because of torn ligaments in his elbow and Jaime Garcia couldn't fill his role as a starter because of shoulder issues. Their recoveries could be key to the 2014 season.
3) Are the Cardinals asking too much too soon from their young players? It seems like a lot of people have penciled Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha in for 20 wins each and second baseman Kolten Wong as a candidate to bat leadoff or second. Let's not forget that shelby Miller couldn't crack the lineup card in the World Series and that Wacha -- who was otherwise absolutely brilliant for the last month of play -- got shelled by the Boston Red Sox his last time out. Wong, who didn't get to play much because the Cardinals were in contention, didn't do much at all with his limited playing time. If Wong flames out and has to go to the minors, the Redbirds have Mark Ellis as an insurance policy. But if Wacha and Miller struggle, the St. Louis rotation looks a lot less imposing.
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