UCB Project: Five Headlines of 2011

This month’s project comes from the mind of Tom at CardinalsGM. He suggested that we jot down five headlines that we expect to happen during the coming year. Not necessarily what we want to happen, but what we think will happen. You can check out the other United Cardinal Bloggers’ five headlines of 2011 at the UCB site.

So in my first project participation of 2011 with the United Cardinal Bloggers, I’ve worked on the five headlines that I expect to see in the coming 11 months of baseball.

1. Albert Pujols remains unsigned as Pitchers & Catchers Report.
This one was really my easiest. Right now, both sides are playing a game of chicken (as my Dad put it while we chatted on the phone last night). Neither side wants to be the first to blink so it will very likely come down to the deadline. While my Dad believes that something will get done before Spring Training starts, I am not so sure. I think the possibility of heading into the season without a done deal for Albert is very real and very likely. I feel that if the two sides were that close on a deal, it’d already be done. No deal says they are nowhere near close and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

I’ve written on Pujols several times. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Cardinals will make a fair offer that compensates him well and probably in the top-3 players in the game. At that point, it will be a measure of how much Albert Pujols wants to be a Cardinal.

Both sides understand how essential it is to bring Pujols back after this season. That is what makes this negotiation difficult for the Cardinals. They are trying to keep it somewhat affordable to them to be able to pay players around him while both sides know that they really need to bring him back because there aren’t very many good options on the list of 2012 potential free agents.

On to the other four after the jump.

2. Waino isn’t bueno anymore, more like perfecto.
Yeah, I’m going to call it which probably automatically means it won’t happen. Last year was the year of the pitcher, but this is the year I’m going to call the Year of Wainwright. In 2009 he lost it to Tim Lincecum. In 2010 he lost it to Roy Halladay. This is the year he puts it all together and it will start with a perfect game sometime in May.

It will be the beginning of a strong year for Wainwright as he will take home his first Cy Young Award.

3. Motte relishing chance to close
It’s a contract year for Franklin and it’s well documented at CardsClubhouse that I’ve never felt that Ryan Franklin wasn’t true closer candidate. He’s a nice stop-gap, but he’s been that stop-gap for three years now. I believe though, that by June, Jason Motte will have established himself as the Cardinals new closer of the future. Making it easier for the franchise to cut ties with Franklin at the end of his current contract.

The organization has placed almost all of their eggs in the Jason Motte basket. His two system rivals who  came through the system with him and actually had closing experience, Chris Perez and Jess Todd, were dealt. The other popular closer prospect in the system, Mark Worrell. I’ve never been in the Jason Motte supporters. I’ve been known to turn games off, expecting a loss, after Motte is brought into games late. However, I’ll say that he impressed me last season with his performance and seems the best internal option to take that role over.

4. Cardinals sweep Brewers to take decisive advantage in NL Central.
I know, I’m not done my preview, but I believe that the Cardinals and the Brewers will be your top-2 teams in the NL Central. Hopefully the clubhouse chemistry changes will work their magic and the Cardinals will once again return to the top in the NL Central. The Cardinals have a history of getting up against the good teams and playing well (or at least Matt Holliday does, more on that at some point this weekend) against them.

The Cardinals will come into the September series against Milwaukee with a 3 game lead in the division with the Brewers able to make it tight through the remainder of the season. However, their bats will be silent while the Cardinals manage to put some runs on the board against the likes of Gallardo, Grienke, and gMarcum (I felt he needed a G at the beginning of his name too, it’s a team unity thing).

5. Phillies and Cardinals to matchup in pitching staff battle.
Wainwright v. Halladay, Carpenter v. Lee, Westbrook v. Oswalt, Garcia v. Hamels. Who woudn’t want to watch that? I’m a huge lover of pitcher’s duels, not only for the speed of those games either. Two pitchers going out-for-out all afternoon in a battle to see who makes the first mistake is just far more entertaining to me than to see an offensive slugfest.

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Leave a comment below and let me know why I’m wrong because, well, I probably am. Considering the last two I still personally highly doubt, but I’m being a homer for once. It happens. I can’t be ‘negative Nelly’ all the time.

Now that you’ve read mine, go read some others! Head over to unitedcardinalbloggers.com to find the links to the rest of the members’ January project.