While it may be trendy to pick a dark horse in this situation, it’s hard to ignore all of the light bulbs that have been going off at the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training.
With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the Phillies have a deeper starting rotation than the 1990s Braves and the best starting staff on paper since the 1906 Chicago Cubs.
While it may be stretch to use a team from 1906 as an example, we have never seen the pitching gods smile upon any team like this.
The MLB took a notable turn from the steroid-soaked offensive league it had been for a decade to a league where pitching rules. The Phillies are ready to face this new world in baseball better than any other team.
The scary thing is the Phillies’ offense is nothing to laugh at either. Ryan Howard will get his 40 home runs, Chase Utley will recover from last year’s injury-plagued season and rookie outfielder Domonic Brown will turn heads with his high average and quick feet.
As the Phillies look around the National League for some solid competition for the NL crown, they see a wounded Cardinals team and a Giants team with much less offense.
With a great pitcher playing almost every day for the Phillies, the Philadelphia will have more than just one reason to be Always Sunny.
The St. Louis Cardinals were dealt a huge blow when ace pitcher Adam Wainwright was injured for the season during a routine batting practice session this spring.
But is a World Series berth still in the cards?
Maybe the best thing to happen to the Cardinals in preparation for the 2011 campaign was not signing first baseman star Albert Pujols. While the free agent-to-be could be in different uniform in 2012, he will be hungry to earn a big contract and is poised for a monster season.
Having the best player in baseball in a contract year is great news for the Cardinals and terrible for National League foes.
This offseason, the Redbirds strengthened its offense by adding corner outfielder Lance Berkman and middle infielder Ryan Theriot.
The duo will solidify two positions that were constantly in flux in 2010.
Berkman lost 15 pounds this winter and can be the third threat offensively the Cardinals desperately needed a year ago.
The pitching staff will be anchored by former Cy Young pitcher Chris Carpenter. With the loss of Wainwright, the Cardinals will rely heavily on the arms of Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse.
When the Fall Classic begins in October don’t be surprised to see the St. Louis Cardinals representing the National League.