Cardinals @ Mets Series Preview

The Cardinals head to Shea this weekend for three games starting this Friday, bringing with them a staggering offensive machine that ranks 2nd amongst all Major League teams. St. Louis is currently 2 games out of first place in the NL Central division. Despite, the team's offensive prowess, they are only 4 games above .500 and their proximity to first place is closely tied to the fact that they play in one of the weakest divisions in baseball.

Heading their offensive attack are three of the best hitters in MLB: Edgar Renteria, Jim Edmonds, and Albert Pujols (who've actually represented the National League as the starting 1, 2, and 3 hitters in this year's All Star game.) However, Jim Edmonds may be questionable for this series as a shoulder injury aggravated during the All Star game's preceding Home Run Derby has prohibited the gold glove centerfielder from starting all but 4 games since the break.

Pujols, arguably the best all around young hitter in the game is currently batting .376 and is on pace to hit between 40 and 50 HRs. He was suspended for 2 games for his part in an incident that occurred on 7/13/03 after he was beaned for apparently "admiring" his game-winning home run a little too long the night before. The suspension is currently on appeal however and his appeal has yet to be responded to.

The Mets, who have depleted their roster of veterans due to trades and injuries, are relying quite heavily on younger players. Jason Phillips has stated his claim to being a part of the core the Mets plan to build around by batting .315 with a .386 on base percentage and a .877 OPS. Slightly rushed phenom Jose Reyes (only 20 years old) has shown flashes of power, clutch hitting, and great defense. However, his anemic .273 OBA suggests a weakness in his ability to take pitches and draw walks. This may be problematic considering the Mets have plans for him as a leadoff hitter while his power develops.

Ty Wiggington continues to show consistency, hitting .271 with 7 homeruns while avoiding long cold streaks. Recent call up, Jeff Duncan has been a spark plug batting leadoff with an OBP of .406 despite the fact that after 278 ab's, his OBP at Double-A Binghamton was only .376. Lone veteran Cliff Floyd has been solid thus far at .277 with 17 HRs. Overall, the Mets rank below 25 in nearly all major offensive categories out of the 30 major league teams.

The starting pitchers for this series will be Fassero vs. Trachsel on Friday, Simontacchi vs. Seo on Saturday, and Stephenson vs. TBA (Glavine will miss his scheduled start due to injury) on Sunday. The Mets recently called up righty, Jason Roach, who is a possibility for the start on Sunday. For the Cardinals, Stephenson is the best of the three, posting 4.50 ERA in 21 starts despite sporting a 5-10 record. Fassero will be making only his 3rd start this year and posts a 6.08 ERA in 47 innings while Simontacchi is somehow 8-4 despite a 5.91 ERA.

For the Mets, Trachsel and Seo have been the two most consistent Met starters this year. Trachsel is 9-7 with a 4.71 ERA. Seo is 5-7 with a 3.97 ERA. Though Seo's ERA seems respectable, you have to consider that his ERA was in the high 2's for most of the season. In his last 6 starts, he has gone 0-4 with a 6.61 ERA. Both teams are ranked in the bottom third in almost all Major League pitching categories.

The Cardinals swept and outscored the Mets 32-12 in St. Louis the only other time these teams have met this year.

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