Top Five Cardinals Stories of 2011

by on January 20, 2012 · 0 comments

World Series Fall Classic 2011

Image by brianandjaclyn via Flickr

Yeah, I’m a little behind on this one – so what, wanna fight about it?

5. Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay go fishing

I’ve been told, over and over and over and over again, that this was a thing. And then Doc saved someone from a snake and Carp busted up his toe. Story! (You can listen to Carpenter tell the real story at Winter Warm-Up here.)

4. Matt Holliday IS GOOD AT BASEBALL

Somehow, defending the baseball ability and honor of Matt Holliday has become a crusade of mine. Maybe it’s because all of the “he’s not worth the contract” and “Holliday should be traded” or “Holliday has been disappointing” is just nonsensical. Maybe I think he’s a dreamboat. Either way, he’s GOOD AT BASEBALL.

See arguments here … and here.

3. Cardinals minor league system rates highly

With or without a first baseman making north of $25mm per season, developing players from within that can contribute – see: Cardinals, St. Louis, c. 2011 – is a critical component of the Cards’ desire to remain consistently competitive for years to come.

To that end, it is meaningful then, to see well-regarded prospect/talent evaluators such as John Sickels rank the Cards’ organizational depth so well and highly amongst all MLB teams.

Obviously prospects don’t always pan out – but the more chances you have with higher odds, the better, no?

2. Organizational reconstruction

Being tardy in compiling this list has afforded me the knowledge that more coaches have departed and the organization continues to undergo a complete makeover from front office to on-field staff to player personnel, with varying levels of impact.

Clearly the departure of a future Hall of Famer will have the largest impact in terms of wins and losses, but what about the mainstays that have retired, prioritized family (and don’t misunderstand that, it’s with good reason), and/or found greener pastures elsewhere?

Having a rookie manager, Mike Matheny, is bound to cause Cardinal fans even more heartburn than the previously infuriating Tony La Russa. Time will tell if Derek Lilliquist can work any sort of magic similar to Dave Duncan‘s well-documented success with reclamation projects and creating superior pitching staffs.

But what of the departure of Jeff Luhnow and some of the other important front-office brains like Sig Mejdal and Mike Elias? This clearly will have an impact on the item we just discussed, continuing to develop the organization’s farm system toward being more self-sufficient, higher-performing, and most importantly – maintaining depth. The Cardinals have a very important position in the draft this year, holding many picks from free agency departures – Dan Kantrovitz should have some fun.

1. Cardinals win the 2011 World Series

Really, this entire list could’ve been made up of moments from the last month or so of the 2011 season, but what fun would that be? A lot, you’re right, but I decided to condense the season into one list item.

The Cardinals won the 2011 World Series. Is there more that must be said? Yes, it’s a fascinating and unfathomable story to hear how they got there, but at the end of the day Game Six of the World Series was one of the best ever (certainly in my still somewhat young memory) and the Cards finished the job in Game Seven.

As was said at the Winter Warm-Up last weekend – that was a great time to put the finishing touches on a celebration of 2011 and the organization’s success. Now it’s time to look forward to 2012, time to do work.

I’ll surely take a beating for this perhaps sounding a bit trite, but I say it with as much sincerity, genuine appreciation, and wonderment as I can – isn’t being a Cardinal fan awesome? Thanks Dad!

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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