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Past Predictions: TCN Blog’s Top Five Cardinals Stories of 2015

A look back at the top projected stories across the St. Louis Cardinals world in 2015 from last January.

Last January, I published my predictions of the topics I thought could evolve into the top five stories across the Cardinals Nation for the then-coming year of 2015. Today, with the benefit of full hindsight, including the top 20 stories of 2015 countdown now on the books, it is time to take my annual look back at my initial forecast. After all, anyone can make predictions, but how many actually return after the fact to review how they fared?

The original top five projections follow, along with where the stories actually ended up, including links to the appropriate articles. I won’t be repeating my 2015 summaries here, so click on the hot links if you’d like to read those detailed stories.

My predictive powers were better this year. Four of my top five guesses from one year ago made the top 11 with most being direct hits. In one case, the pitching, there were two related, but separate top 20 stories, not to mention individual articles about Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia and John Lackey, not listed here.

As always, I also did not predict how the season would end up. As the Cardinals won 100 games, but quickly exited in the post-season, the big pictures turned out to provide the subject of the number one and two stories of 2015.

Prediction Actual
Pre-2015 prediction story rank rank Post-2015 actual story
Will Broken Wings Fly? 1 4 Historically Great Pitching
8 Overcoming Pitching Injuries
Healthy Hitting 2 11 Outfield Churn
Heyward’s Happiness 3 3 Coming in Second (for Free Agents)
Trevor’s Theatrics 4 10 Rosenthal Steps Up
Lynn’s Pending Payday 5 NR None

Revisiting my predicted top five St. Louis Cardinals stories of 2015.

1. Will Broken Wings Fly?

One year ago, I had specifically expressed concerns about Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, opining that the 2015 Cardinals would be “dead in the water” without Wainwright making his customary impact on the team.

Unbelievably, the Cardinals staff as a whole was extraordinarily good, even without Wainwright for almost the entire year.

2. Healthy Hitting

After the 2013 season was record-setting in terms of offensive production with runners in scoring position, the 2014 Cardinals hitting predictably dropped off. Yet, it became a concern as evidenced by their smallest run differential of any post-season team that year.

Though the Cardinals run differential improved from just 16 in 2014 to 122 in 2015, it was far more due to the pitching than the hitting. The 2015 offense scored 28 more runs than the year before, but the 2015 pitchers allowed 78 fewer runs.

The key hitters did not remain healthy. Among the core position players, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina again dealt with injury. So did Matt Adams, Jon Jay and newcomer Randal Grichuk. Up the middle players Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong started well, but fell off in the second half.

Jason Heyward delivered no more or less than what was expected with Matt Carpenter being the only regular who clearly exceeded expectations. The July arrival of Stephen Piscotty was an important shot in the arm, earning him an apparent regular role in 2016.

3. Heyward’s Happiness

Given the cost of his acquisition – starting pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins – the Cardinals needed to get a lot out of outfielder Jason Heyward. For 2015 alone, the return was about what could have been expected – standout defense, but so-so offense.

Yet, the long-haul view of the deal is in a big hole. Heyward’s one-year experience with St. Louis was clearly something he did not want to continue, a point he made clear after signing with the rival Chicago Cubs.

The player to be taken by the Cardinals in compensation for the loss of Heyward next June is going to have to become a star for the trade to have a chance of ever coming out positive.

4. Trevor’s Theatrics

Closer Trevor Rosenthal was often shaky in 2014 and the worry was the impact to the team if it continued in 2015. It did not, as Rosenthal improved his performance considerably last season. A spring decision to pitch exclusively from the stretch looked to help greatly with first pitch strikes and retiring first batters faced.

Rosenthal went on to set the team’s single-season save record and blew just three opportunities all season long. Along with veteran starter John Lackey, the 25-year-old was one of the few constants on the Cardinals staff that as noted above, performed very well as a group.

Yet, some believe a regression is just ahead for Rosenthal in 2016.

5. Lynn’s Pending Payday

I guess I stretched to come up with a fifth big story prediction for 2015. Lance Lynn did get his multi-year contract, covering his arbitration years, but going no further.

But the reality was that it was business-as-usual – to the point it did not even register among my top 20 Cardinals stories for the year.

On January 15, Lynn agreed to terms on a three-year, $22 million deal to cover the years of 2015 through 2017. He delivered in year one, but will sit out year two due to Tommy John surgery.

Next up: In my final article of this annual series, I will outline my predictions for the top five Cardinals stories of 2016.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of 2015 countdown

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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27 Responses to “Past Predictions: TCN Blog’s Top Five Cardinals Stories of 2015”

  1. blingboy says:

    Once again you have divined the answers in your borderline mystical way. We await your prediction of the MLB sanctions.

    As to the Miller for Heyward trade, it could be argued that what we got out of Heyward was of at least as much value to the Cards as what we gave up. We needed a RF more than we needed Miller. In other words, for the Cardinals, replacing Miller was easier than replacing Taveras.

    The acquisition of Lackey, and his superb performance, were huge as far as overcoming the loss of Adam and the pitching in general.

    One of the issues I am most interested in for 2016 is whether Mo will yet bring in a middle of the order hitter, or whether Mike will reconfigure the middle of the order with in-house assets, or none of the above.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Leave out the “mystical” and you have it!

    • Brian Walton says:

      I have no idea what the penalty will be. There is no precedent.

      • blingboy says:

        As I mentioned on the main site boards, I wonder how sure the other owners are that their org will not one day find itself on the receiving end of whatever precedent is set here? Would they be confident that their institutional control will prevent a rogue from doing something comparable?

        It seems like they would be more comfortable with the bulk of the pain being felt by the individual wrongdoer.

        • Brian Walton says:

          They are more concerned about protecting their anti-trust exemption and showing Uncle Sam they are capable of policing themselves.

          I am guessing that had MLB known another team’s employee was behind it, they may have thought twice before asking the Feds to investigate the Astros emails leaked.

          My take on your specific point is that the owners could express opinions to Manfred if they so choose, but it isn’t like deciding how to punish the Cardinals is going to appear on any group meeting agenda.

          Some competitors may actually be in favor of slapping the Cardinals hard, especially given their recent success. Personally, I think that is far more likely than clubs pleading for leniency on the Cardinals in fear it could one day happen to them.

          P.S. The future deterrent is five years in jail. That should work. Though there have been plenty of people with blinders on, as evidenced by discussion on the message board, who don’t see this as a big deal. They are wrong.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            hackers made off with SSNs and personal information on 20 million Federal employees, retired and active, including via agents. Will anyone be charged? No.
            Thank goodness the trade discussions of the Astros will now be sacrosanct, because the notorious criminal organization the saint Louis Cardinals are going to the pokey. Finally decent folks are safe to walk the streets. Praise the Lord!

  2. crdswmn says:

    It bears repeating, but in my opinion the Heyward trade is already a positive. We filled a dire need, we won a hundred games and the Division with said dire need, and the pitching was not harmed by the loss of Miller.

    • jj-cf-stl says:

      lets not be in denial that once miller was traded due to perceived “SP depth”, it left a huge hole in the rotation, long term. we knew from the get-go that lackey was a rental, and lynn’s surgery doesn’t necessitate signing leake, when buehrle could have been the Band-Aid. millers club control and future $ have been converted to leake, at a large added expense beyond miller, and that’s stl’s evaluation, through their actions.

      • crdswmn says:

        Um, no it didn’t. The Miller trade at the time it was made left no hole in the rotation. Subsequent injuries made a temporary hole, and the acquisition of Leake was a personal choice, not a necessity, as they had the same thing in Memphis in Tim Cooney. That the Cardinals felt more comfortable with Leake is not an indictment of their pitching depth.

        • jj-cf-stl says:

          stl just spent 80mil because of a lack of “comfort” with cooney, and their “pitching depth”.
          they didn’t do that to appease you and I as fans, to get us through the winter, they felt Leake was a long term roster “necessity”.

          • crdswmn says:

            They spent 80M on Tim Cooney. Cooney is the same pitcher as Leake, just with less major league experience. They chose to sign Leake. Before they did that, Mozeliak was touting the virtues of Cooney/Lyons/Gonzales as plenty of depth. Nothing changed between those statements and the signing of Leake. So all I can glean from that is that Mozeliak signed Leake, not because of lack of depth, but because of other factors. Either that or he was lying about his great pitching depth.

            • blingboy says:

              Two Cooney’s are better than one.

            • crdswmn says:

              You know, maybe Mozeliak has a long term strategy to trade with some his depth. If that is true, that might explain the signing of Leake.

              Regardless, there was no hole in the rotation that necessitated the signing of Leake. He was signed because they wanted to sign him, not out of necessity. This whole idea that trading Miller made a hole in the rotation is just not supported by the existing evidence.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Last spring, after Miller was gone, the Cards had three very good starters competing for the fifth spot – Jaime Garcia, Carlos Martinez and then-healthy Marco Gonzales.

                • jj-cf-stl says:

                  for one season? yes, but we had Shelby for four. I guess the current stl “depth” is adequate, as long as it doesn’t get tested in a miller or leake role. Mo sure wasn’t going there with lyons or cooney.

              • jj-cf-stl says:

                “Cooney is the same pitcher as Leake, just with less major league experience.”

                and that’s where yours and Mo’s opinions differ. if Mo wanted Cooney making 25 plus starts, he doesn’t spend the 80mil on leake.

                the trade of miller necessitated a leake signing. innings were the biggest concern of the 16′ rotation before the leake signing, and Mo is showing he evidently doesn’t seem to have the faith in cooney and gonzales to meet those team innings.

                “This whole idea that trading Miller made a hole in the rotation is just not supported by the existing evidence.”

                if we ignore the leake signing, that is true. Mo wanted a starter, not filler depth every 5th day, meaning he views leake and cooney very differently.

  3. jj-cf-stl says:

    “The player to be taken by the Cardinals in compensation for the loss of Heyward next June is going to have to become a star for the trade to have a chance of ever coming out positive.”

    or he could become the next Tyrell Jenkins, which brings us back to heyward and walden for shelby. while I appreciate Mo and the owners for making a bold trade that had an extremely small chance of ever being a positive trade, the season is not about winning each individual trade. they gave a contenders roster a better chance to win it all. every now and then I get that, and even endorse it, but lets not start a trend (Moss / Kaminsky).

  4. Bw52 says:

    What`s the scope on this Korean bullpen guy coming to STLouis? I read his scouting report and he seems to have decent stuff.I read 2 years 11 million total.Not a cheap price for a setup man but not a monster price either.If the guy can handle big league hitters then good deal.Now Mo get another bat………………Come on Mo.Get another LHP for the pen to battle with Lyons.Another minor FA Catcher with MLB experience to backup Fryer who backs up Pena wihile Yadi rehabs.(Matt Pagnozzi,Bryan Anderson,Blake Lalli,Taylor Teagarden etc; all still minor FAs.You also need a 1B at Memphis .

    • crdswmn says:

      I don’t get this desire for 3 lefties in the pen. You really only need two.

      If they want 3 they have lefties in Memphis. No sense in paying big money for one when you have cheap options in the minors.

      Spending lots of resources on fungible relievers isn’t a good idea.

      • Bw52 says:

        Mo said he wanted a LHP who could be more than a LOOGY.So if the best 3 bullpen guys are LH then why not?

        • crdswmn says:

          Siegrist can be used as more than a LOOGY. If he is used as only a LOOGY then that is the fault of the guy they hired to manage.

          Lyons is less effective against RHB but his sample size is relatively small.

          Why not? Because spending big on relievers is a waste of money.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Siegrist was good in 2015But here was dominant versus RH batters I n 2015.Siegrist good versus LH batters also but more dominant versus RH batters.Lyons splits are almost even concerning facing either side.Cooney was terrible last year versus LH batters and Marco Gonzales has been ineffective versus L bats .So having 3rd LH in the pen would not shock me.

    • crdswmn says:

      Then bring up someone from Memphis and don’t spend money on another LHP. Completely unnecessary.

      • Bw52 says:

        If the seven best in the bullpen consist of 3 LHPS and 4 RHP s what say you then?I don`t see any sure thing RH bullpen sure things except Rosenthal;Broxton probably close to sure thing,Walden -return from injury?,Socolovich,Tuiavalala,Bowman,Harris are all battling for a spot and Sueng-Hwan OH and Maness are in the mix.I wonder if Oh contract allows him to be optioned .Maness is most expendable IMHO because although he is a good groundball pitcher he doesn`t miss many bats.Then you also have longshot NRI guys like Deck McGuire and Jeremy Hefner who could factor in the mix although I think both will be at AAA Memphis until needed

        • crdswmn says:

          Maness isn’t going anywhere, Oh isn’t going to be optioned.

          My objection is not to the mix necessarily (I don’t see the need for 3 lefties, but whatever) my objection is to going outside the org and paying for another reliever. There are enough cheap arms in the org already.

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