The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Reviewing the predictions: TCN Blog’s top five Cardinals stories of 2011

Just over a year ago, last January 21, I published my predictions of the topics I thought could evolve into the top five stories across the Cardinal Nation in 2011. With the benefit of full hindsight, including the top 20 stories of 2011 countdown now in the books, this is a look back at my initial forecast. After all, anyone and everyone can make predictions, but how many come back later to review how they fared?

The original top five projections follow, along with where the stories actually ended up, including links to the before and after articles. I won’t be repeating my 2011 summaries here, so click on the links if you’d like to read those detailed stories.

My predictive powers were only so-so. While all five of my guesses from one year ago made the top 20, I sidestepped the possibility of Tony La Russa retiring, the eventual number three story.

As always, I also did not predict how the season would end up, which turned out to provide the subjects of four more of the eventual top six stores (along with La Russa’s departure). Albert Pujols’ contract situation was a no-brainer, then and now.

2011 prediction story Prediction rank Actual rank 2011 actual story
Pujols’ pending payday 1 2 Pujols leaves
Berkman’s stand 2 9 Berkman’s rebirth
Third and last time for third base? 3 10 Freese’s fantastic finish
Keeping Carpenter 4 19 Carpenter’s extension
Who follows Franklin? 5 17 Closer changes

My original top five predictions:

1. Pujols’ pending payday

All it took was a World Championship to knock this story out of the final number one position. While this subject has been talked to death already, I thought it was at least somewhat interesting to note that this was my number one story prediction in each of the last two years. One thing is clear – a three-peat is definitely out.

2. Berkman’s stand

One year ago, I said we would either look back at the signing of Lance Berkman as “a bold move or a bad risk.” Clearly, I feared the latter, while it was the former that came to pass. Berkman was a leader both on and off the field in 2011. Perhaps his story ranking ninth is taking him for granted a bit.

One must hope the Cardinals have not pushed their luck by showing faith (via a one-year, $12 million contract) that their (and Berkman’s) good fortune will continue in 2012.

3. Third and last time for third base?

2011 was David Freese’s third shot at holding down the third base position. 12 months ago, it was his chronic ankle problems that were causing the greatest concern. It turned out that Freese once again did serve major disabled list time last season, though it was primarily due to a fluke hit-by-pitch broken hand.

All that was forgotten by the post-season, a time in which Freese put on a historic performance. It was legendary, not just in comparison to past Cardinals stars, but in the history of Major League Baseball. That is what caused Freese to make the top story list – not his injuries.

Needless to say, Freese has solidified his job and seems aligned to bat just behind Matt Holliday and Berkman in 2012.

4. Keeping Carpenter

Last year at this time, I expressed concern that Chris Carpenter’s career may be nearing its end. With the added pressure of losing his co-ace, Adam Wainwright, for the entire year, all he did was lead the league in innings pitched and win some of the biggest games of the regular- and post-season.

In between, there were rumors of an in-season trade that intensified as the Cardinals seemed to slip out of playoff contention. Those whispers never became anything more.

Before last season, I also worried that the Cardinals would not pick up Carpenter’s pricey option for 2012, but noted the two sides could agree to a lower-cost extension. I did get that part right.

In hindsight, I may have done Carpenter an injustice by placing his 2011 down at story number 19. He should never be taken for granted.

5. Who follows Franklin?

The former closer was heading into the final year of his contract and hinting about retirement afterward, so a change was clearly in the air. Of course, none of us expected Ryan Franklin’s demise would begin on opening day and be completely over less than 90 days later.

Four different relievers followed as closer, with Jason Motte, the most likely choice coming in, seizing the job over the final month of the regular season and through the playoffs.

Next up: In my final article of this series, I will outline my predictions for the top five Cardinals stories of 2012.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

Follow me on Twitter.
Follow The Cardinal Nation Blog on Facebook.
Follow TCN on Google+.

36 Responses to “Reviewing the predictions: TCN Blog’s top five Cardinals stories of 2011”

  1. CariocaCardinal says:

    What happened to the idea of letting people vote on the top stories?

    • Brian Walton says:

      We can still do that. In a couple of days, I will put it up for reader vote. I think I will offer ten choices and let people pick their top five.

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        Good articles Brian.

        Can I just proffer that this has been one of the best seasons in baseball history? Historic comebacks. Dramatic postseason full of perrennial stars and the birth of new ones. Not to mention wild card Wednesday when the NL and AL wildcards were both decided in dramatic (13 innings/phillies and a walk-off home run/Longoria) fashion. No home run chase or anything but several records broken and career milestones reached (Rivera, Thome, pujols, Jeter, Jones, Verlander).

        What a great season to be a (Cardinals) baseball fan!

  2. CardinalFan4Ever says:

    Very nice reading Brian, thanks for your hard work on the write-ups.

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Glad you folks enjoyed them.

  4. blingboy says:

    Given all that happened from Wainy to game seven, it was an accomplishment to have picked five stories that ended up in the top 20.

    2012 will almost certainly be less outrageous.

    What I’d like to see, maybe as a postscript to your article, would be your 5 wild, but thoughtful, predictions.

  5. friendmouse says:

    Nice material, Brian. It was SO interesting to click on the link(s) back to the predictions you did a year ago as to what would be the top stories of 2011 when all was said and done. The comments were absolutely fun with the full benefit of hindsight perspective!!! The back-and-forth about Rasmus and TLR and Franklin and T-Greene and Punto and J-Jay…all made for chuckles for me this morning. It almost makes me anxious for the present to hurry up and turn into the past, so that in the future I can look back and reminisce. Weirdly. Can’t wait! But in the interim, there’s plenty of living to be done. We’d best get on with it…the best we can.

  6. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Provocative article Brian………… its no wonder that all the Post guys……at least 2 of the NY guys……and all the other local hero’s watch you columns so closely ………………. its the real deal………. Hard to believe your not looking at the Colby trade for that very interesting story………….. this bubble will eventually pop………..likely in 2013………. It looks like Washington for Fielder …… with opt outs… how about the Cubs taking there medicine…..and Zambrano agreeing to obey Caribbean law …….. which reminds me………Ken Williams………what was happening in Chicago at last years trade deadline?????????????

  7. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Zambrano waived his no-trade clause to play for Guillen, his friend and fellow Venezuelan. Zambrano also waived his $19.25MM option for 2013,………………………………… now this is news……… a real GM is emerging in the central…………. you may not see his legs until 2013……….but you will know him…..

    The underlying story here is the preposterous assumption that Midwest values and commercial realities actually mesh with either coast…………………….. KW did not bring Dunn into Chicago on his own reputation……….. it was the owner trying to straddle the fence…………. Dunn could never have played/produced for OG………weigh this against the Rio’s signing which appeared to be a dead wringer……………..opps…………… and yet Williams and Anthopoulos were still scratching backs trying to get what they needed last year……past history be damned……. the Frazor loan to help cushion a salary bail…….. and his polite return……………speak of a shared understanding of risk and its assessment ………… Both see what Mo/BD are about……… the players made available by the Jays just helped everyone avoid the awkward appearance of waisted resources and bad signings last winter………. zero sum exchanges giving Mo what he needed to duck criticism ……….. all Cardinal players hitting the dumpster…. Chris D. style……………… and what do you know……..some of them could play baseball………better than the misfits that MO signed last winter………. go figure ….. cost to the Jays…………9.5 million and two lower echelon prospects…….. cost to the Sox ……….salary bail and a weather beaten sail………… cost to the Cardinals……….. ?????????? just like the Westbrooke deal……it can’t cost anything……………. from a cash standpoint……….. Jays made the speculation…..Williams made it happen……….and Mo went to a swap meet ………… The results are still a mysterious brew ………….. to suggest that Mo made any of this happen save taking his cow to market is silly…………..save for the magic beans he brought back ………… alls well that ends well…..for some………….

  8. crdswmn says:

    Jefferson City Cardinals Caravan has David Freese, Jaime Garcia and Shelby Miller this year. Autographs for kids only but maybe I will go and take some pictures.

  9. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Can anyone even guess why the Cardinals didn’t just take Colby and send him down?????????????? avoiding all the trouble………..far away from mean TLR??????…………… you know the answer to this…………. its just a little hard to face………………for some of you…………….

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Sure, I can guess. We wanted a useful starting pitcher for 2011 (Jackson) as opposed to Rasmus. Good decision.
      The last of the Redhot Spenders, DeWitt, preferred to spend $13MM per annum for Carlos Beltran rather hear more infantile blubbering about which batting practice pitcher Colby got to face.

    • T8Ball says:

      Westie, much respect for you, but it seems over and over again you are the one having trouble facing that he’s gone.

      My ultimate goal as a fan for my team is to win a WS. How the Cards get to that point is out of my hands.

      Let it go. Enjoy the Toe Ring, and look forward to the next Toe Ring.

      12 in 12!

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        T8……………… I’m sure RC would tell you that I’m one of Colby’s biggest critics ……….. This is hardly about Colby, even though he has a leading role from this “peek hole”………..this is about understanding the nature and character of the organization ………….. I suffer not ………. some times when you play to profit……….you win………… give this some thought…….Tony has announced his readiness and interest in BB…….. WS champ and friend to many….future HFer……… surely someone wants some of that….whose first in line???????

  10. crdswmn says:

    Joe Strauss is reporting Dave Duncan is stepping down as pitching coach. Mrs Dave must be worse. Damn.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      You have answered your own query CRD………………… she was stage 4……… it was just a matter of time…………and thats not a long time……….. stepping down may mean that Tony may have gotten a bite…………… he is giving up 3M for the privilege…………. and they won’t be that unhappy to see him go for that reason……………. Dave is a great man………. and great coach……… and I feel for his loss……. stepping down seems a bit premature…………unless there is more to it……….

      • Brian Walton says:

        Formal team press release backs Rosenthal, that it is an indefinite leave of absence, not resignation. Article on main site.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          Just means that BD remains in control……at some expense…………for awhile…………….. these are very sensitive times for someone that is concerned with legacy ………….. I’m watching with interest…….

          Bottom line,,,,,,,,,,,,, Dave teaches self reliance and peer group “steerage” ………… All seasoned vets save for Garcia……..who might do well with a break………. no one suffered last year……… and John Barleycorn looms above the whole………… said the sage…………

    • blingboy says:

      He’s done enough. I pray for them both.

      • blingboy says:

        “Reached Thursday night, Duncan declined comment . . .”

        I can’t believe some jackass called him.

        • crdswmn says:

          That jackass would be Strauss.

          Miklasz has tweeted that Mrs. Dave is not worse. However, I have personal experience with the type of tumor she has as a close friend’s daughter had the same type. The long term prognosis is very bad. Dave is doing the right thing imo.

          • blingboy says:

            Rosenthal says it’s a leave of absense, not resignation.

            “As far as how long he’ll be gone, no one knows,” said GM John Mozeliak to Rosenthal.

      • T8Ball says:

        Aye, more than enough.

        Thoughts and prayers to the Duncan Family. Beat this back Mrs. J!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.