When the All-Star break ended the Cardinals had a very average team with alot of unproven young players... Hoffpauier, Kalihl Green, Tyler Green, Mitchell Boggs etc... They had some young players who had found themselves a home in St. Louis like Colby Rasmus. However when the numbers were added up they were all but stellar. The big man in the equation, Albert Pujols, was hardly a threat due to the pitchers' ability to walk him and face Ludwick who struggled due to the lack of depth in the lineup. The pitching rotation was great through the first three players, those being Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Pinero, but fell very much short after that. Todd Wellemeyer was constently being inconsistent and the fifth pitcher was struggling and almost perpetually changing. The bullpen was not much better with Trever Miller and Kyle McClellan being the only bright spots but lacking the left handed relievers. Ryan Franklin, who has been phenominal throughout the year shored up the closing spot by being virtually unhittable. The defense needed some help with a third baseman with the absence of Troy Glaus with an extended injury from the pre-season and the outfield had it's problem with Chris Duncan not being able to catch a pop fly or field a grounder or basically do anything right defensively.
Enter Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo and John Smoltz.
These trades covered every hole in the lineup. Matt Holliday a seasoned veteran and power hitter filled the gap in the outfield and sent Chris Duncan packing. Problem #1 solved. Mark DeRosa picked up the glove at third base and provided another strong batt to back up Pujols. Problems #2 and #3 solved. Then there's Julio Lugo who really has no place since his position at second base is already spoken for in Skip Shumaker. However, he is a stellar utility player and a great guy to pinch hit. No problem solved just beefing ourselves up, no complaints there. Then last but certainly not least, John Smoltz. John Smoltz, no doubt, a future Hall of Famer came in as a free agent coming off some bad games at Boston. However, he would not disappoint in St. Louis. In two starts he gave up four earned runs and went 1-0. He was the key to the pitching situation. He is a strong number four guy and, come the post-season a great guy to bring in from the bullpen. Problem #4 solved. We now have a great defense with possibly the strongest rotation in the league and a lineup that can produce runs on the best of the best.
Prediction: Cards at least get to the World Series and, I think, more than likely win.