THE CARDINALS ALL-AUGHTS TEAM
SP — CHRIS CARPENTER
RP — STEVE KLINE
CL — JASON ISRINGHAUSEN
C — YADIER MOLINA
1B — ALBERT PUJOLS
2B — FERNANDO VINA
3B — SCOTT ROLEN
SS — EDGAR RENTERIA
LF — REGGIE SANDERS
CF — JIM EDMONDS
RF — RYAN LUDWICK
Bench –SO TAGUCHI
So what does WAR say? While my family is over playing board games (wild times in the Manning household), I thought I’d take a quick peak at Rally’s WAR numbers and see who comes out ahead. Here’s the Cardinal All-Decade team, according to wins above replacement.
C- Yadier Molina, 7.9 WAR. Molina’s only competition was Mike Matheny, who had just 3.3 WAR in his five seasons as a Redbird. I remember the hand-ringing by folks when the Cardinals let Matheny leave for free agency, and then the hand-ringing over Molina’s hitting. It’s amazing to see how he’s evolved into such a complete player and not just a defensive specialist. There’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing Molina nail a baserunner napping at first.
1B- Albert Pujols, 44.7 WAR. This is since 2004, when he permanently switched to first base. Bananas.
2B- Fernando Vina, 5.7 WAR. Vina wins mostly because of tenure, a whopping three seasons. The keystone has infamously been a revolving door. Aaron Miles (1.6) had the 2nd longest tenure with three seasons as the de facto 2B, and he had less WAR than one-season wonders Tony Womack (3.2) and Mark Grudzelaniak (3.5).
3B- Scott Rolen, 25.3 WAR. Oh, how I miss the MV3 days. In 2004, Rolen was good for 9.2 WAR, Edmonds 8.4 and Pujols 9.4. That’s just nuts. I hope that when Rolen’s career is over, the voters don’t give him the Ron Santo/Greg Nettles/Ken Boyer treatment. Rolen already has more career WAR than Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Yogi Berra and I believe he still has a few more productive seasons in him.
SS – Edgar Renteria, 16.6 WAR. It seems that not long ago, Renteria was that toolsy young shortstop we gaffled the Marlins for. (Yeah, I said gaffled. I grew up listening to too much gangster rap, I’m sorry). ’02-’03 were the only two seasons in which Edgar had a wRC+ over 100. He won the NL Silver Slugger both those years, and in ’00 despite a wRC+ of 96. He also won two Gold Gloves, one that he deserved and one that belonged to Adam Everett. The Cardinals let Edgar walk, and we have Colby Rasmus to show for it. That’s a nice trade-off. Edgar earned his money and then on his $36 million contract, although it certainly wasn’t with Boston. Fangraphs values Edgar’s 2005-2008 performance to be worth $44.7 million. The Braves were lucky enough to spin him for Jair Jurrjens. Renteria, the gift that keeps on giving…well, except for Red Sox fans.
LF -Albert Pujols, 16.7 WAR. This is ’02-’03 seasons only. It also poses a logistical problem. Okay, okay, I’ll pick someone else. Matt Holliday comes in 2nd place with 2.8 WAR during his two month tenure in St. Louis. Seriously. Two months of Holliday is better than anything else I could find. Following Holliday is Reggie Sanders, with 2.6 during his two seasons as a Cardinals. Chris Duncan racked up 2 WAR in his 5 seasons. Thankfully, it sounds like Boras-palooza is winding down and left field should become a strength for years to come.
CF – Jim Edmonds, 45.3 WAR. It’s not too early to start the Jimmy for the Hall bandwagon. I will bang this drum until the day Cooperstown comes calling, and if Cooperstown does not come calling, I will greatly bewail the injustice every chance I get. Look at this run: 6.8, 6.4, 7.2, 7.3, 8.4, 6.8. And then Edmonds turned 36, and then fell from a cliff. Edgar Martinez and Tim Raines are two sabermetric favorites on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. Edmonds’ career war is 66.6. Gar, 67.2, Raines 64.9. Edmonds is .1 behind Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.
RF – JD Drew, 16.1 WAR. Ryan Ludwick, fans? Really? I like the Brass Monkey, but one great season and one average one leaves him nearly ten behind Drew (6.6) for the decade. I’m not surprised, the fans had great expectations from Drew, he spent time on the DL every season and his manager famously criticized him for giving “75% effort”. Everyone likes to pick on Drew, but he was a pretty darn productive player for the Cardinals, 75% effort be darned. And the cherry on top is without JD Drew, we wouldn’t have Wainwright.
SP – Chris Carpenter, 16.8 WAR. Please stay healthy, please stay healthy, please stay healthy. Adam Wainwright comes second with 11.8 over just 567 innings as a starter. Let’s just fill out a five-man rotation while we’re at it. Morris had 8.9 over 5 seasons, two of those seasons of which he was right around replacement level. Darryl Kile had 8.8 over two and a half seasons. Woody Williams had 8.2 WAR over four seasons. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but it’s amazing to think the Cardinals have had such a great run this past decade with some of the piecemeal rotations we’ve had. Dave Duncan gets a lot of credit for this, and deservedly, but it hasn’t hurt that Jocketty and Mo have put some great defenses behind their pitchers.
CL – Jason Isringhausen, 12.4 WAR. Baron Von Isringhausen. They’re not saying “boo”, they’re saying Boos-ringhausen. Part of the ballyhooed Generation K, he was the only one of the three who had a real career. Bobby Valentine said having him throw in relief would be like using an Indy Car as a taxi. As it turns out, Izzy was a darn fine taxi and not much of an Indy car. When he was healthy, he was splendidly solid despite his infamous reputation for making things interesting. He deserved better from the fans.
I’ll forego middle relief and bench, although without doing a ton of digging, I think the fans nailed it. Kline had a 4.6 WAR, including a brilliant 2.5 WAR season in 2001. Taguchi added three wins off the bench in his six seasons, I think he’s in because of tenure, but he was a fine 4th OF.
Overall the fans picked the right players, other than Drew, and that probably has a lot to do with a certain bestseller. We’ve been spoiled with some talented teams over the past decade, and I’ve enjoyed just about every minute of it. There have been some downers, but there’s been far more ups than downs. With some smarts and good fortune, the good times should continue to roll.