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The St. Louis Cardinals aren't Opening Day favorites, but they are contenders

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The St. Louis Cardinals are firmly behind the Cincinnati Reds among expert and pseudo-expert predictions, but they're within the margin of gods-of-baseball-related error.

Noted free-agent pickup Randy Choate.
Noted free-agent pickup Randy Choate.

The St. Louis Cardinals are not the 2013 favorites in the NL Central—we know that much by now. Expert Predictors and people who fancy themselves Expert Predictors are mostly choosing the Cincinnati Reds; here's our actual experts, Rob Neyer and Grant Brisbee, for example. The Cardinals are old (or at least not young) at the top, they didn't do much to improve in the offseason (Randy Choate! Ty Wigginton!), and their vaunted farm system is hindered inasmuch as not every highly touted right-hander can pitch at the same time.

But Neyer and Brisbee do a good job of explaining just how close this division is—especially because their debate ends with Brisbee saying "Probably picking the Reds. But not in love with the idea that I'm right" and then picking the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have a lot of depth—what looks, at least, like a low floor—and a ceiling that might depend on Pete Kozma topping replacement level convincingly and Shelby Miller impressing as a rookie with almost no major league experience. One thing that makes me a little more optimistic than Neyer and Brisbee: If Kozma does turn out to be as bad as his minor league numbers, I fully expect John Mozeliak to trade for someone who is not Pete Kozma.