The United Cardinal Bloggers‘ January project tasked us bloggers with putting together a Cardinals team made up of the best at each position, in our opinion, during the recently completed decade. Not really any other restrictions placed on this one, other than it was due on Friday. Oops. Better late than never.
Without further delay, the PH8 Cardinal Team of the Decade:
Catcher – Yadier Molina
Mike Matheny was the only other player who really deserved any sort of mention here, and he wasn’t really close to Molina. Defense, defense, defense behind the plate for the Redbirds, although Yadi’s bat has lately shown signs of maturation.
(Best single season by a catcher, Yadier Molina – 2009)
First Base – Albert Pujols
Was there any real doubt here? Save for the early years when he was in the outfield and generally all over the place just to get his bat in the lineup, Pujols has been the mainstay of the Cardinals’ organization in the ‘Aughts.
(Best single season by a first baseman, Albert Pujols – 2009)
Second Base – Fernando Vina
A position that had a rotating entry and exit door, Vina was the only second baseman who ever really gained traction with the Cards in the decade. Vina missed out on the World Series years, but was the last “tenured” second sacker the Cards have had.
(Best single season by a second baseman, Fernando Vina – 2001)
Third Base – Scott Rolen
Oh what could’ve been. If not for injury, and bickering, and ego. The third base position has been as unstable as second base since Rolen’s departure. What could’ve been a Hall-of-Fame bound career with the Cardinals quickly deteriorated after shoulder injury – but man Scottie had some good years wearing the Birds-on-the-Bat. Part of the MV3 triumvirate in 2004, Rolen had easily the best season of his career with the Cards.
(Best single season by a third baseman, Scott Rolen – 2004)
Shortstop – Edgar Renteria
Renteria had a monster 2003, followed up by a so-so 2004 in which most Cardinal fans expected more from him. Folks were still sad when he chose to leave for Boston, but in hindsight, probably the best move for both. The Cards went on to sign David Eckstein and win that elusive championship in 2006.
Josh says: “Renteria seemed like the logical choice, but it is hard to ignore what Eck meant at the top of the lineup and his overwhelming desire to kick ass and take names (or maybe that was his wrasslin’ matches).
(Best single season by a shortstop, Edgar Renteria – 2003)
Left Field – Chris Duncan
Shock! Dismay! Confusion?!
Before you all lynch me and drag me across the Poplar Street Bridge by my toes, hear me out.
Left field was another pretty undistinguished position for the Redbirds in the ’00s. Duncan, Ray Lankford, and even So Taguchi are all viable candidates here. (Heck, you could even make a case for another current Cardinal.) Lankford has probably the best resume statistically to win this battle.
We chose to go the sentimental, stat-deflated, foam-finger fan route.
Duncan’s 22 home runs, 43 RBI, and .952 OPS helped catapult the 2006 club into the Playoffs and ultimately winning a World Series title. Were Lankford’s statistical prowess so overwhelming that it wasn’t even close, this is not a debate. Being that Ray Ray and Lil’ Dunc were so close with their contributions to the team statistically during the decade, we’re using the feel-good story of 2006 as the tiebreaker.
Josh says: “The candidates are not great options when you look at C. Dunc’s strengths and weaknesses, Reggie Sanders’ crazy even and odd splits, and the rest of the crew. At this point I am leaning towards Duncan just due to the WS win. Is that wrong?”
(Best season by a left fielder, Albert Pujols – 2003) – See what I mean by case for another current Card?
Center Field – Jim Edmonds
Any questions about this one? Didn’t think so. Jimmy was a permanent highlight reel both in the field and at the plate.
Josh says: “Brewers, really!?”
(Best season by a center fielder, Jim Edmonds – 2004)
Right Field – J.D. Drew
Ryan Ludwick closed quickly at the end of the decade, but it just wasn’t enough to match Drew’s output from the front end of the period. While he wasn’t consistently on the field, Drew was very consistently good when not injured. 2001 was Drew’s signature year before sputtering out and leaving for big dollars
(Best season by a right fielder, Ryan Ludwick – 2008)
Starting Pitcher – Chris Carpenter
With a tip of the cap to current teammate Adam Wainwright, who will no doubt make his case for the coming decade, Carpenter was easily the choice here. Others like Matt Morris, Darryl Kile, and Woody Williams had periods of success during the decade, but Carpenter won a Cy Young, contended for others, and has arguably been the bellwether of the Cardinals’ success for the last five years.
(Best season by a starting pitcher, Chris Carpenter – 2005)
Relief Pitcher – Jason Isringhausen
Isringhausen deserved a much better departure from St. Louis than he received. With his style of pitching and ability to turn easy saves into high leverage, Izzy gave many Cardinal fans indigestion – but he had undoubted success with the Cardinals. Isringhausen left the Cardinals as the team’s all-time leader in saves and sixth all-time in appearances.
(Best season by a relief pitcher, Steve Kline – 2001)
A successful decade for the Cardinals – they won 913 games, six division titles, and appeared in the playoffs seven times – it’s easy to see how it was done looking at the All-Decade roster above.