1. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are your number one team ranked team heading into Spring Training ladies and gents, and while many of you may scoff and not like it, the Cardinals the best-built team right now. Sure, the injury concerns can be used as an argument, but consider this. While, yes, Adam Wainwright did have a “minor” elbow cleanup done this offseason, he did complete a full offseason routine. The Cardinals fully expect Wainwright to be good to go in 2015, and they also plan on having him rest a bit more this Spring as well as during the season so that he can be fresher down the stretch and into October. Next is Michael Wacha. After emerging as the next potential Cardinals ace in the 2013 postseason, Wacha went down with a stress reaction in his shoulder, and didn’t return until October, when he gave up the season-ending pitch to the eventual champion Giants. That’s the point though, Wacha was pitching in October, and showed good velocity at the same time. He too went through a normal offseason routine, and also built up the muscle around the shoulder to lessen the chances of the injury coming back. To boot, Wacha’s last few MRI’s have come back completely clean, and he too has already thrown a bullpen. The tragic loss of Oscar Taveras left a hole in the Cardinal outfield, but GM John Mozeliak moved quickly to acquire Jason Heyward, and the club is excited about what he can bring to the team. Both sides have expressed interest in an extension, as Heyward will be a free agent after 2015. The trade that brought in Jason Heyward did send 24 year-old Shelby Miller to Atlanta, but the presence of electrifying righty Carlos Martinez made Mozeliak comfortable enough to swing the deal. Now Martinez has a chance to become the fifth starter and show what the Cardinals have been waiting for, with his high velocity, and pitch arsenal (5 pitches-4 and 2-seam fastball, slider, curve, and improved change). Anyway it’s spun, the Cardinals look strong everywhere on the field, thanks to Yadier Molina being healthy, and second baseman Kolten Wong emerging in October. After being dispatched in the NLCS, the Cardinals will head into 2015 with chips on their shoulders and a vengeance.