Despite losing pitching ace Chris Carpenter to a shoulder injury, the Cardinals can be a viable World Series contender, according to St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday.
“I've never been around such an amazing competitor, leader that he is,” Holliday said. “Losing Carp is a huge punch. But at the same time we didn't have him last year until the last two or three weeks of the season.”
Last season, the Cardinals staged a dramatic rally in Game 5 to win a division series against the Washington Nationals before being eliminated by San Francisco in seven games in the National League Championship Series.
The previous season, the Cardinals won the world championship, rallying in Game 6 against Texas to force a Game 7, which St. Louis won.
“It's really been a dream come true,” Holliday said. “With all the adversity we had last year to make it as far as we did with a new manager, without Albert Pujols, for us to be one game away from the World Series, it was a lot of fun.”
Holliday, a six-time All-Star, is confident highly regarded young pitchers such as Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal can help offset losing Carpenter.
“They have really high ceilings,” Holliday said. “We have depth, depth with talent. It's our job to take a team that on paper looks good and develop that chemistry and bond where we're all pulling in one direction. We have a very talented team that can do something special.”
Growing up in Stillwater, where his father, Tom, was the pitching coach and head coach at Oklahoma State, Matt was a fan of former Cowboys such as Robin Ventura, Pete Incaviglia and Jeromy Burnitz more than a specific team.
The Cardinals, though, were the team he followed the most.
“When you join the Cardinals organization you immediately understand the expectation of excellence and the tradition that comes with it,” Holliday said. “They take pride in getting players with great character. It's a great organization to play for.”