The Cardinals' season has been nothing short of interesting so far. They started out well and then limped through May and the beginning of June. The Cards started to finally show signs of life again leading up to the All-Star break. The team has now made it back to 6 games over .500 and are only 2.5 games back of the Pirates and Reds. The good thing about the Cards is they've been here before. This is a team full of experience and the offense is there. If you are looking for a weakness, the Cards' big one is their bullpen. I'd probably look for them to try and make a move to bolster the bullpen, just like they did last year. Also, with Chris Carpenter officially done for the season, a move for another starter seems like a necessity.
With the team the Cards have now, in the post Pujols era, they still have a chance to win this division. Lance Berkman has been out most of the year and is about to make a return to the lineup. It will be nice to have his bat back and it also improves our depth, giving the Cardinals a chance to keep everyone fresh being able to rotate Allen Craig in at different positions. And one cannot forget about Carlos Beltran, the most important signing the Cardinals had last offseason. He has worked out better than the Cards ever expected. He has almost made the Cards forget about Pujols...almost.
I'd say going forward this year, it is the Cards' division to take control of. With arguably the best offense in the league, there are only a couple of holes that need to be filled. Lets not forget the Pirates imploded around this point last year. The team that the Cards need to worry about is the Reds. But with them only being 1.5 games up on the Cards, this division is up for the taking. Like I said, Berkman is supposed to be back after the All Star break and Jaime Garcia will finally be back in August. Two big factors will be if Wainwright can return to being his former self and if Lance Lynn can continue to dominate the National League. Lynn has obviously been a huge surprise at this point, as he is basically a rookie this year. Wainwright was rusty at the being of the year, as could be predicted. It seems he has started to right the ship at this point in the year. If he can come back to his dominant pitching of the past, this team could become a serious contender again.
And lets not forget, Tony LaRussa is no longer the manager of the Cardinals. It is Mike Matheny and this is his first stint as a Manager. If this team is going to make a run, he is going to have to pull the right strings for this team to be successful. As the season goes on, he has to keep players fresh and do whatever he can to avoid injuries. Which we haven't necessarily been that good at thus far.