Good Morning and Happy New Year Cardinal Nation,
Here’s what I have for you this morning:
— Buster Olney ranked his top ten outfields in his column this morning, where the Cardinals ranked fifth. From the article:
Left fielder Matt Holliday had a typical season of run production, with 27 homers, 95 runs and 102 RBI in 157 games, and right fielder Carlos Beltran had 59 extra-base hits, including 32 homers. Center fielder Jon Jay took a big step forward as an offensive player, hitting .305 in 117 games, with a .373 on-base percentage; he progressed from 3.63 pitches per plate appearance in 2011 to 3.85 last season, a sign of an improved approach at the plate.
Something to remember: Beltran played in 151 games last season, his most since 2008, but he will be 36 years old in April. Given his history of knee trouble, he has reached that stage of his career when the Cardinals will presumably have some contingency plans built in. Beltran was a very good player in 2012, but his OPS of .841 was his lowest over a full season since his first season with the Mets, and his 124 strikeouts were his most since 2002.
I think the Cardinals do have one of the better outfields in the Major Leagues. Of the three, Beltran will obviously be the biggest question mark in 2013. What he did last season was absolutely remarkable, particularly in the first half when he batted .296 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs. I think to expect him to play even 130-140 games this season would be pretty optimistic, as his knees are only deteriorating more. I’m very interested to talk to Mike Matheny at some point about the plan he has in place for Beltran to ensure that he is healthy for the duration of the regular season.
— Lastly, here’s a humorous article from Joe Posnanski about Bruce Springsteen (my favorite musician) and Atlanta Shaves