Which Three Years Were Better: 2004-2006 or 2011-2013?

The past 10 seasons are an extraordinarily rich time in St. Louis Cardinals history, as we all know. Seven trips to the postseason, six times in the National League Championship Series, five National League Central titles,  four World Series appearances resulting in two World Championships — obviously a glorious time to be a Cardinals fan.

Yet also two very distinct ways to that success, with the Tony La Russa/Walt Jocketty era reaching its pinnacle in 2004 with its reliance more on veteran acquisitions to make an impact and now the John Mozeliak/Mike Matheny way that’s blossoming with talent developed from within. Which has me wondering: of these past seasons, which three-year stretch was better: 2004-2006 or 2011-2013?

Here’s a refresher on these two championship stretches.

2004-2006

MV32004
Record: 105-57 (best in MLB), finished first in NL Central.

Postseason: Won NLDS 3 games to 1 over Dodgers; won NLCS 4 games to 3 over Astros; lost World Series in sweep by Red Sox.

Top hitters: The MV3 — Albert Pujols .331/.415/.657 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI, WAR of 8.4; Scott Rolen .314/.409/.598 with 34 homers and 124 RBI, WAR of 9.1; Jim Edmonds .301/.418/.643 with 42 homers and 111, WAR of 7.1. Also, Tony Womack hit .307 and had 26 stolen bases. Edgar Renteria hit .287 with 72 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

Team batting average: .278, first in NL.

Team OPS: .804, also first in the NL.

Top starting pitchers: Chris Carpenter, 15-5, 3.46 ERA; Jason Marquis, 15-7, 3.71 ERA; Jeff Suppan, 16-9, 4.16 ERA.

Saves leader: Jason Isringhausen, 47.

Team ERA: 3.75, second in NL (Braves first at 3.74)

Postseason moment to remember: Jim Edmonds 12th inning walk-off home run in Game Six of the NLCS.

Award recognition: The MV3 finished third (Pujols), fourth (Rolen) and fifth (Edmonds) in NL MVP voting. Tony La Russa was second in the NL Manager of the Year race.

Continue reading

Say It Ain’t So! So Long Freese

That collective gasp you heard Friday afternoon was reaction to the highly anticipated news that 2011 World Series MVP David Freese was traded.

Freese was traded to the LA Angels of Anaheim … or whatever they go by now … along with disappointing reliever Fernando Salas for OFer Peter Bourjos and minor league prospect, OF Randal Grichuk.

As much as I love Freese, I think the Cardinals got the best end of this deal. A top prospect  in Grichuk and a speedy, good hitting, young outfielder in Bourjos. Freese gets a fresh start. And he gets to be teammates with that one guy that used to play first base for the Cardinals. What’s his name! And Salas. Yeah. He gets a clean slate with a new team.

Now to say good bye to him, I will share a few of my favorite pictures of Freese!

Freese

Freese Continue reading

Well, Cardinals, That Was No Fun

About that sweep of the Reds … maybe next week.

YikesBut winning the series is preferable, which the St. Louis Cardinals have now done five straight times. Plus a 5-2 home stand to start The 17 Biggest Cardinals Games in the History of the World is obviously very good.

Last night, though, and losing 10-0 to the Cincinnati Reds? Yikes!

That was the very accurate subject line of an email from my uncle Jim last night, who was late turning on the game and found the Reds leading 6-0 in the first inning and then 9-0 in the second.

Safe to say it was not Adam Wainwright’s night.

Continue reading

Finding Some Cardinals Bright Spots

None of us as Cardinals fans enjoy what we’ve witnessed on this 0-4 road trip. Longest losing streak of the season — ugh. But how about a little perspective?

sunshineOf course it’s easy to panic and be all doom and gloom and think trades have to be made right this second since the trade deadline is tomorrow and things are terrible today.

And it was terrible to watch Allen Craig and Yadier Molina strike out five times between them last night, a season first. (They did strike out twice each on Opening Day in Arizona — which, after their second back-to-back Ks last night prompted me to see if they’d each struck out that many times in the same game before.)

But we know the team can, and has, played better.

And will again.

So here are some bright spots — in general and from last night in particular.

Continue reading

Holliday Helps Westbrook Win

Holliday

Jake Westbrook definitely deserved a win Saturday, after allowing only four hits in eight scoreless innings. Thankfully, Matt Holliday came through with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth as the Cards shut out the Royals 3-0.

Wait, that’s not enough on the homer. It was a bomb into the left field fountains at Kauffman Stadium, 433 feet total. And it left male Cards fans on Twitter and broadcaster Dan McLaughlin gushing about their man-crushes on Holliday. I mean big-time gushing — click here for Danny Mac’s call. (He was still talking about it during the bottom of the eighth inning, and probably still talking about it this morning.)

Westbrook

True, it was impressive. And it had been a very frustrating game on offense for the Cards to that point — they were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position through seven innings. But I was more impressed with Westbrook getting out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the fourth inning.

First, he got Jeff Francoeur to ground the ball right to him for a 1-2-3 double play. (Come on, how often do you see that particular play?) Then, Ryan Theriot (yes, really) made a diving stop of a grounder hit by Billy Butler and an equally good throw to first for the out.

Thankfully, Dave Duncan agrees with me about the importance of that fourth inning, as Rick Hummel pointed out in his Post-Dispatch article:

“That was the real key in the game,” said Duncan. “If something happens there, you don’t know how that game is going to go.”

Continue reading