i took my first serious look at the cardinals' schedule this morning. it's forgiving early on: 21 of their first 29 games come against teams that finished below .500 last year and project to be terrible again in 2008. the cards went 41-34 (.547) against sub-.500 teams in 2007; their april slate includes 13 games against san francisco and houston, 3 against washington, and 2 against pittsburgh. better yet, 12 of those 21 easy april games are in st louis. the cards went 22-15 (.595). against sub-.500 teams at home last season. they could very well be a few games over .500 --- 16-13 or something like that --- as of may 1.
then the opposition stiffens considerably. they open may with a 3-game home set vs the cubs, then go on an 8-game road trip to colorado and milwaukee; a 6-game trip to san diego and los angeles looms later in the month. and on june 20 they begin a brutal stretch that will last most of two months. from that day through august 10, they will play 40 of 46 games against teams that had winning records in 2007 --- and most of those teams have gotten better over the winter. (the cards went 37-50, .426 against winning teams last year, in case you were wondering.) that segment includes 6 games against two of the best american league teams (boston and detroit); 10 games against the best of the nl central (cubs and brewers); 17 games against the best of the nl east (mets, phillies, braves); and 7 games against the padres and dodgers. the only good nl teams they won't play in that stretch are the rockies and dbacks; they finish with the rockies may 8, and all their games with dbacks happen after september 1.
jim edmonds' only trip to st louis takes place july 17-20, by the way. so taguchi's team comes to town august 1-3. and dan haren will probably get a start during the dbacks' lone visit to st louis this year, a 4-game set in the last week of the season (sept 22-25).
- mlb.tv will be televising the cards' 2d game of the spring, this friday vs the mets. wainwright's scheduled to start; game time is at 12:10 p.m. central standard.
- over the weekend at Not a Golfer, matthew leach took a stab at projecting the opening-day roster. juan gonzalez and aaron miles were on it; brendan ryan and brian barton weren't. leach emphasizes that that he's only projecting who will be on the roster, not who he thinks should be on it; also that it's ridiculously early and a lot could still change. but leach sees every workout and talks to the manager every day; he has a sense of who's in favor, who's being watched closely, &c &c. i take his forecast as a gauge of which players have the greatest benefit of the doubt heading into the grapefruit league schedule --- the roster that tony / dave would regard as a best-case scenario. take a look at that roster and see what you think. how many games does it win in '08? how much future-year potential does it possess?
- the news that la russa lobbied for barry bonds doesn't give comfort. am i the only cynic who thinks the juan gonzalez signing is not unrelated to the bonds thing? kinda like: "you wanted an old, no-field, steroid-tainted ex-mvp? well, here he is!" only differences being, a) bonds can still hit, and b) bonds costs lotsa moolah. just so i'm not misunderstood --- i am not saying the cards should have signed barry bonds. my position is that the perfect number of old, no-field, steroid-tainted ex-mvps for this roster would be zero.
- scott rolen speaks: to ken rosenthal and the philadelphia inquirer.
- per a quick-n-dirty by the Hardball Times' chris jaffe, the cards got a little unlucky in the longball department last year --- hit way fewer than their fair share of juuuuust-made-it home runs. pujols in particular is due for a few cheapies, according to this article.
- Future Redbirds had 11 questions for BP's kevin goldstein about his list of the top 11 st louis prospects.