St. Louis Cardinals

Is there a point where the Cardinals can lose so many key players that they will no longer produce Cardinals-like results? That's the question of 2016, as St. Louis saw both Jason Heyward and John Lackey leave for their rivals, the Cubs, at the same time that Lance Lynn is lost for the year due to Tommy John surgery and Jhonny Peralta will miss a few months with a thumb injury. The thing is, since this is the Cardinals we're talking about, they were prepared with replacement players who, if you don't already know them, you soon will.

Key Addition

The Cardinals won't have John Lackey or Lance Lynn in 2015, but they will have a healthy Adam Wainwright to replace one, and Mike Leake was signed to replace the other. Now, Leake isn't quite Lynn nor Lackey, but if he throws his 200 or so innings of average or better ball, the Cardinals won't have much, if anything, to complain about.

All additions: Mike Leake, Jedd Gyorko, Ruben Tejada, Seung-hwan Oh

Key Departure

Losing Jason Heyward will hurt, especially since St. Louis' loss is Chicago's gain. However, the Cardinals now have a place to play both Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk everyday, so even though neither is the equal of Heyward, when you consider they're also replacing the damage Jon Jay did to his own team in 2015, they might actually come out even or ahead anyway.

All departures: Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Steve Cishek, Mark Reynolds, Jon Jay

Best Case

A full season of each of Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Holliday helps make up for the loss of Heyward as well as the months without Jhonny Peralta. The rotation doesn't even take a step back, because Mike Leake pitches well in his friendly new home while Adam Wainwright returns to the rotation without a hitch. The Cardinals win the NL Central, again, because as incredible as the Cubs might be, it's still not enough to unseat the division's apparently rightful king.

Worst Case

A full season of each of Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Holliday helps make up for the loss of Heyward as well as the months without Jhonny Peralta. The rotation doesn't even take a step back, because Mike Leake pitches well in his friendly new home while Adam Wainwright returns to the rotation without a hitch. The Cardinals win the NL Central, again, because as incredible as the Cubs might be, it's still not enough to unseat the division's apparently rightful king.

Projected Team

Lineup: Matt Carpenter, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Matt Adams, Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, Ruben Tejada

Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, Mike Leake