|Cardinals rule in 2024? Willson Contreras, Lance Lynn looking to top Cubs, all others in Central. There's a favorite to win the 2024 National League Central race, and its first full-squad workout of spring training took place Monday, some 2,300 miles from Mesa, Ariz. While the big-market, big-money Cubs are playing around at the edges with their payroll, so far avoiding an opportunity to grab control of a division they should control more often than not but don't, the Cardinals — a last-place team in 2023 — have bubbled up to the top of the Central, according to the leading projection models. Eighty wins isn't going to get it done, but that's where the Cody Bellinger-less Cubs are, if the slide-rule and pocket-protector crews at FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus, to name two, know what they're nerding out about. The Cardinals, projected in the low- to mid-80s in wins, are happily embracing the favorite's role.
|Cardinals believe young, new pitchers have right 'stuff.' But can it launch better results?. After seeing some of the same stuff from a different vantage point, Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras took a moment to review the pitchers he faced as a hitter during live batting practice Saturday so that he could detail what newcomer Riley O'Brien threw him. Seated beside him in the clubhouse, teammate Alec Burleson nodded. “Just met the guy,” Contreras said. “He struck you out,” Burleson reminded.
|Cardinals' Willson Contreras looks forward to having Yadier Molina in his corner in 2024. The differences catcher Willson Contreras brought to the table, the places where he diverged from iconic Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, were always part of the package. The fact that Contreras came with a bit different profile and provided more of an offensive component played into the club's attraction when the Cardinals made him the centerpiece of their offseason a year ago. A few turbulent weeks into Contreras' first season as the club's starting catcher, the fact that he wasn't Molina seemed to hang over him like the blade of a guillotine. Contreras served as the public fall guy for an underwhelming and underperforming pitching staff, but he bounced back by midseason to turn in a highly productive season and reassert himself as the club's starting catcher.
|BenFred: Willson Contreras' redemption tour launches in 2024. First stop? Cardinals Winter Warm-up.. Of all the things that went wrong for the last-place Cardinals in 2023, give them some credit for owning up to and sounding determined to correct the most preventable mistake. It could have been resolved by simply not mangling the debut season of the big free-agent addition the Cardinals actually did acquire. The Contreras Redemption Tour is coming to Busch Stadium in 2024.
|Cardinals' Recent Decisions Continue to Raise Questions. The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves under increasing scrutiny for a series of questionable trade and personnel decisions that have left fans and pundits scratching their heads. While the Chicago Cubs appear to be on an upward trajectory, their divisional rivals in St. Louis are facing criticism for a lack of roster stability and competitiveness. One of the most glaring examples of the Cardinals' decision-making woes revolves around Willson Contreras. After a tumultuous trade saga that saw him move from the Cubs to the Cardinals with the expectation of becoming the primary catcher, Contreras was subsequently relegated to designated hitter duties, a puzzling move that has left observers baffled.