Strengths: Youth. This team just went to the World Series and many of its key contributors were merely in the infancy of their careers. Sure, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are grizzled vets, but the fireballing Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal at the back of the bullpen, Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha in the rotation, and stud first baseman Allen Craig and MVP candidate Matt Carpenter are just starting out. The future is bright. Their scouting and personnel people have sure gotten the job done.
Weaknesses: Nothing glaring. If you wanted to nitpick, you could say that their offense occasionally hits a period of malaise, as it happened to do during the World Series. When you’ve got the light-hitting Pete Kozma, underachieving John Jay, and the streaky David Freese happens to be in a funk, that’s more than a third of your line up that you can’t count on much from. That’s a lot.
Off-Season Needs: Again, they just competed in the World Series so it’s not like an overhaul is in order. They really need to open a spot for Oscar Taveras, which they can accomplish by letting Carlos Beltran leave in free agency, though cutting bait with the disappointing Jay would be preferred. They also should consider opening a spot for Matt Adams by trading David Freese and moving Craig to third.
2014 Outlook: The NL Central is competitive for sure, but I don’t see any scenario happening in which this team does not win the division. Clearly, they aren’t unbeatable, but if their division wasn’t so tough they’d probably eclipse 100 wins easily. A deep playoff run, and maybe even another World Series appearance, is in the cards. Get it? See what I did there? In the “cards”??? Never mind.