Most eyes will be on Allen Craig, a .315 hitter with 97 runs batted in before Sept. 4, when he suffered a left mid-foot sprain. Baseball's best hitter with men in scoring position the last two seasons will serve as the designated hitter and, if Craig is right, one scout sees that as an enormous advantage to the Cardinals' offense.
"If he can DH in four of the seven games, I definitely see that in St. Louis' favor," said the scout.
Another scout said "that it would have been a tremendous disadvantage for the Cardinals had they not had Craig. Craig is a critical element. Just how quickly can he get back?"
Another key player for the Cardinals will be Matt Adams, who one scout said should take advantage of the inviting left-field wall at Fenway, although he hits very few ground balls to that side of the field.
"He hits a lot of fly balls and if he can hit the ball to left and left-center field, Adams' power can come into play if the Red Sox are not careful," the scout said. "If they keep the ball away from him, they can actually speed up his bat. He can certainly do a decent job at Fenway."
Scouts like the way Matt Carpenter, another leadoff hitter, regained his edge in the National League championship series, but are more skeptical of center fielder Jon Jay, a lefthanded hitter who batted .176 in the NLCS and had some trouble in the field.
"It looks like Jay's bat has slowed up, and you can take advantage of him up in the strike zone," said one scout.
"The key guys, for me," said another scout, "are Jay in center field and David Freese at third."
Freese, an October hero a couple of years ago, was even less productive than Jay in the NLCS, batting just .118 with no runs batted in.
Scouts generally like the Cardinals' bench better than that of the Red Sox, although the Cardinals' bench hasn't offered much power yet. But the scouts appreciate the versatility of infielder Daniel Descalso, and one scout praises the production and outfield play of Shane Robinson.
"I like Robinson a lot," said the scout. "He can really run, he's very athletic and he's a better center fielder than Jay. I look for him to play center field against lefthanders.
"He has one element that many of the Cardinals don't have. He will run, and the Cardinals need to run going into this because the Red Sox don't really hold runners on well.
"Robinson can hurt them at bat, too. He likes the ball on the inner half of the plate. He's a quiet kid and he kind of grows on you because of what he can do. You kind of forget that because he doesn't get a lot of playing time, but when he does ... he does something."
"Michael Wacha is huge. He could be the key to the whole scenario," said one scout. "I expect (Adam) Wainwright to be the same pitcher who pitches well in big games but I also think Wacha is going to do very well."
Citing Wacha's last four starts, in which he has given up one run and flirted with two no-hitters, one scout said, "He's been about perfect. His Achilles' heel, if you will, was that he had to learn how to handle it when hitters tried to step out on him. So the Dodgers tried it and it didn't really affect him at all.
"It's unbelievable that he's basically a two-pitch pitcher -- fastball and changeup, with an occasional curve. But he's been consistent with both those pitches and when he releases the two, he looks like he's about 71/2 feet high. He has a very unusual arm angle. I don't think anybody releases the ball as high as Wacha. It looks like he's standing on a footstool. Basically, he's throwing downhill and he uses his height to a considerable advantage."
Joe Kelly, who could be the No. 3 starter, has improved during the season, according to scouts. One said, "He's got a very good changeup, his breaking ball is getting better and his command is getting better."
Lance Lynn still worries some scouts "because sometimes he loses his focus," said one, although the same scout said, "If he can get his curveball over, he can be tough."
"One of the keys to the Cardinals' success is that they've got so many new players, mostly pitchers, that other teams don't know very well," said a major league scout. "Besides (Michael) Wacha, they haven't seen (Seth) Maness, (Kevin) Siegrist, (Carlos) Martinez and (Trevor) Rosenthal hasn't been the closer very long. You can watch all the video you want and read the scouting reports, but you until step into that batter's box, you just don't know."
Maness has impressed scouts with his quick windup in which the hitters don't appear to see the ball. The double-play specialist throws mostly strikes and keeps the ball down.
Lefthander Siegrist might be the most intriguing and perhaps most important if he can help neutralize Boston's excellent designated hitter, David Ortiz.
"He can be a real factor against Ortiz," one scout said, "if he can expand (Ortiz's) zone with his breaking ball."
The Cardinals have another lefthander in veteran specialist Randy Choate, who, one scout said, "has a picture of Ortiz in his locker."
In their careers, Ortiz is three for nine against Choate with three runs batted in, one walk and one strikeout.
While a scout thinks Ortiz will have trouble with Siegrist, he said, "Ortiz has faced Choate. He's not a mystery. He's kind of funky if you've never seen him before and can be tough on you. But this is negated because Ortiz has seen him."
One scout pointed to the Cardinals' pitching secret weapon, 15-game winner Shelby Miller, who has managed just one postseason inning so far and has been the early man the Cardinals haven't needed yet.
"I don't know how much he's going to pitch but he's a new, big arm, too," said the scout. When it was suggested to a scout that the staff must be deep to have a pitcher that talented in long relief, he responded, "No kidding."
As for the end of the line in rookie Rosenthal, there isn't much not to like. "He has an outstanding fastball and an outstanding changeup," said the scout. "And the bigger the stage hasn't seemed to affect him so far."
Many of the Cardinals, while playoff veterans, haven't had to deal with the vagaries of Fenway's outfield, where the shortstop often comes into play with the short left field and where right-center field is huge, with some interesting angles.
One scout noted that left fielder Matt Holliday, who played in Fenway with Colorado in the 2007 World Series, "is not as good an outfielder now as he was then, and he wasn't real good then."
Shortstop Pete Kozma, who must be alert for the caroms back toward the infield, has never played in Boston.
"The shortstop might be more crucial in left field than the person playing left field," said one scout. "It's funny to say, but it's true."
Kozma said, "I'll be playing the 'rover,"' referring to a softball defender. "I tried to watch as many (playoff) games as I could to see how much ground I've got to cover just in case the ball gets by Matt or if something gets past the third baseman and ricochets back."
The possibilities took Kozma back to his days of throwing a ball off his garage wall. Asked if he ever got a true bounce, he said, "Never."
Hitting coach John Mabry, a former outfielder, said, "(The) Red Sox already know where the ball is going to bounce when it hits (the wall). We've got to find that out -- before they score."
One scout thinks manager Mike Matheny will have an advantage, notably in the National League park, because of a more versatile bench. "(Boston's John) Farrell never has managed in the National League," said one scout.
"He's really good at what he does but he does have a limited bench. The Cardinals have more interchangeable players."
And home-grown ones. Of the Cardinals' 25 players on the World Series roster, 18 came through the system from the start and two more, Wainwright and Freese, developed in the system after being acquired in trades.
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