While St. Louis Cardinals fans are concerned mostly with wins and losses, fantasy baseball followers are more concerned with on base percentage, runs batted in, strikeouts, and earned run average. These updates are for those fantasy baseball owners looking to get an inside look at the Cardinals players. The updates below include the latest news on the Cardinals from local and national reporters over the last 48 hours.
Player Whose Stock is Up
Besides prospect Michael Wacha (seen below) the player getting the most preseason buzz for the Cardinals is first baseman Allen Craig. Of course, any knowledgeable fantasy baseball owner already knows of Craig based upon his 76 runs, 92 RBI, and .875 OBP last year. However, reading comments from Cardinals players like Matt Holliday in a recent article by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one gets the sense that Craig might be on the brink of an MVP-like season. Holliday calls Craig an "elite" hitter in the category of others he has seen like Albert Pujols. While Craig is highly regarded, he has never been healthy enough to put up numbers over a full season. If this is the year Craig puts it all together he could go from above-average first baseman to one of the elite hitters that owners want to grab in round one.
Player Whose Stock is Down
Rafael Furcal undoubtedly leads the list of players whose stock has fallen before a single Grapefruit League game has even been played. Furcal opted not to have surgery on a torn ligament in his elbow over the offseason, and thus far has not even been able to throw baseball with more than 50 percent effort. Today Furcal was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as saying, “It still hurts a lot when I’m throwing.” Furcal and the club continue to say that the shortstop will be ready for opening day, but the club said the same thing about players like Mark Mulder in the past, and Furcal has a history of missing months in a season due to injury. At this point, Furcal should be assumed injured until proven healthy.
The name popping up the most early in spring training camp is last year’s first round pick Michael Wacha. After being picked 19th overall in last year’s draft Wacha advanced up three levels at lightning. Over that short time, Wacha pitched 21 innings while compiling 40 strikeouts to just 4 walks with a 0.86 ERA. After watching Wacha throw a side session, Manager Mike Matheny had high praise for 21 year-old, “You see him asking questions, keeping his head down doing the work. But when he gets on the mound, you can see that there's a confidence there. There is some reason to be excited about the potential that he has." David Freese was even more praiseworthy on Twitter saying, “Saw @MichaelWacha throw for first time today. Wow. Looks like a steal at 19th pick overall. Stay humble dude, keep working. Gonna rise fast!”
For all the praise there is still no chance Wacha begins the year with the big league club given the plethora of other young arms that the team has. Still, Wacha will at least begin the year at AA and if he continues to excel he could be slotted for a place in the rotation in 2014 with the departure of Jake Westbrook and/or Adam Wainwright. Wacha was off the radar of nearly ever fantasy owner before the season, but he is now certainly worthy of consideration in keeper leagues.