And Now There Are Just 27 Days …

Quick — when you hear No. 27 for the Cardinals, who’s your first thought?

Am I the only one who still thinks of Scott Rolen first? Sorry to Jhonny Peralta and to the never-forgotten second love of Miranda’s baseball life (after David Freese) Tyler Perry Greene and, apparently, Ron Villone (I’ve purged my memory of the 2007 and 2008 Cardinals, to be honest). But I still think of the third baseman from what’s my tied-for-first favorite Cards team, 2004. And now we’re just Scott Rolen days until Opening Night at Wrigley Field.

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago CubsAh, yes, 2004 … that wonderful year when the MV3 of Rolen, Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds dominated; when Larry Walker was traded to the team in August; when Chris Carpenter showed why he was worth waiting through those shoulder surgeries for; when Jason Marquis, in his first season as a Cardinal, had yet to become the Guaranteed Loss Night pitcher and and won 15 games; when Matt Morris and CC joined Marquis with 15 wins each and Jeff Suppan had 16; when the team won 105 games; when they swept the Dodgers in the National League Division Series and both teams shook hands afterward (something we know would not ever happen with the current Dodgers and Cardinals); and when the season ended after that wonderful, seven-game National League Championship Series against the Astros.

Right? The Cards won the pennant, then lived happily ever after as NL champs. Continue reading

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.


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