Cardinals likely to be even stronger in 2013

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It won’t take the sting out of Monday’s Game 7 loss to the Giants, but the Cardinals have a great chance of being a better team in 2013 than they were this year.

The Cardinals’ only key free agents are Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman. Berkman didn’t contribute this year anyway, and the Cardinals have a full rotation without Lohse:

Adam Wainwright
Chris Carpenter
Jaime Garcia
Lance Lynn
Jake Westbrook

Top prospect Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal are all available as fallbacks should Garcia’s shoulder remain a problem. Rosenthal presents a particularly intriguing option; if he remains in the pen, he’ll be a dominant weapon in the eighth. However, he has a whole lot of upside as a starter.

The Cardinals will also bring back their lineup intact, with Rafael Furcal expected back at shortstop after missing the end of this season with an elbow injury. Matt Carpenter could get a look at second as a potential upgrade from Daniel Descalso. And top prospect Oscar Taveras should be ready to step in if Carlos Beltran misses more time than he did this year.

So, the Cardinals may have a quiet winter, but that’s probably for the best. Even if teams like the Dodgers and Nationals make more noise, the Cardinals have as good of a shot as any NL team to reach the World Series next year.

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.

Zack Greinke likely to start Wild Card game for Diamondbacks

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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo is considering pushing Zack Greinke‘s next start to this weekend in order to line him up to start the National League Wild Card game on normal rest, Nick Piecoro reports. The D-Backs open up their final series of the season, a three-game set, on Friday against the Royals in Kansas City. Greinke is currently on track to start Wednesday against the Giants and the team has an off day on Thursday.

Robbie Ray has been the Diamondbacks’ best pitcher by several measures, including ERA (2.95) and K/9 (12.3), but Greinke has been quite good himself (3.18) and has nine postseason starts under his belt in his career. He’s acclimated to postseason pressure. The D-Backs also signed Greinke to a $206.5 million contract two years ago, which is likely a factor.

The D-Backs are still waiting to find out which opponent will fly to Arizona for the Wild Card game on October 4. Currently, the Rockies hold a two-game lead over the Brewers and lead the Cardinals by 2.5 games.