When the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, it was the definition of a ‘win now’ team. They were relying on players that were in and nearing past their prime, plus some throw-ins that had been plucked off the scrap heap and helped that rather improbable team reach the pinnacle of the baseball season. Players came in by trade at that time. The only home grown every day talent on the team was Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. This was a team that relied on 33 year old utility man Scott Spiezio for 119 games and 28 year old minor league journeyman John Rodriguez for 102 games (Rodriguez’s total career games played in the majors? 156. In the minors? 1197. Just saying).
I did of course skip the other main farm system player on the 2006 team that year – Anthony Reyes. Reyes went 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA and averaged right at 5 innings per start that year. The only other players to get any sort of significant playing time from the Cards’ farm system that year were Chris Duncan (90 games and 314 PA) and Tyler Johnson (56 relief appearances and a 4.95 ERA). Josh Kinney came up through the farm system but was not drafted by the Cardinals, and no other home-grown player had more than 30 games played that year.
They were old, and when the calendar flipped to 2007 many of them wound up busted as well. The farm system had been depleted to get all of these quickly aging players on the team, and they were built for failure.
Last year, many of us were clamoring for our beloved baby birds to get playing time in various positions on the big league club. We screamed with outrage when Aaron Miles, Randy Winn and Mike MacDougal were getting plucked up off the designated for assignment pile, because really, what were they offering that the boys down in Memphis were unable to bring to the table?
It appeared that the answer was age and experience. However, 16 players from the Cardinals farm system had an impact (by my definition that equates to >30 games played or >30 IP… my blog, my rules) in the 2010 season, far greater than the 5-6 players from that 2006 championship team.
This year? There have already been 19 players (6 pitchers and 13 pitchers) that were drafted by the Cardinals that have already appeared (or, in the case of Andrew Brown, who is getting his first start tonight) this season. 13 of these players (Yadi, Pujols, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene, Jaime Garcia, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Jason Motte, and Mitchel Boggs) have had a ‘large’ impact (>100 at bats or 20 innings pitched… more arbitrary numbers, but I could care less).
This team is built for a much longer term success rate. I can’t wait! We’ll go from old and busted to new hotness!
Gametime is just in a few minutes – 6:05 Central, vs. the Nationals in the nation’s capital.