Today we are going to finish our Where Are They Now series by looking at what happened to the members of the starting lineup from the 2006 World Series team. So far, things didn’t turn out very well for many other members of the team. Only Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright really saw success among the pitchers and even they battled injuries. The bench yielded no positive results either. Can the starting lineup turn the tide and reveal more bright spots?
Yadier Molina was the starting catcher for the 2006 St Louis Cardinals. With Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, Yadi is one of only three members of the team that is still with the St Louis Cardinals. Yadi lost out on the 2006 Gold Glove to Brad Ausmus and also lost to Russell Martin in 2007. He has won every gold glove since then though. This season could be his last as a St Louis Cardinal, but that’s a topic we have discussed in another post.
Too much ink has already been spilled regarding first baseman Albert Pujols. Since the 2006 World Series, Albert has won two MVPs, a second gold glove, three silver sluggers, and numerous other awards. His historic career and statistics earned him an absurd contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Second baseman Ronnie Belliard was acquired midseason from the Cleveland Indians for Hector Luna. He played very well in the playoffs with his strong defense being a driving factor in the run to the World Series. He’s had trouble catching on full-time with a major league team since, though. He played with the Washington Nationals from 2007 to 2009 and was a triple away from hitting for the cycle in 2008. In August of 2009, he was traded to the Dodgers and hit a home run in his first at bat in Los Angeles. He signed a one year deal for 2010, but was DFAed and later released in September. He signed a minor league deal with the Yankees, but was released before the season started and ended up playing in 53 games for the Phillies AAA affiliate before announcing his retirement in June.
Shortstop David Eckstein was the unlikely star of the World Series. He hit surprisingly well and many articles about his scrappiness came out in the weeks following MVP performance. He was brought back for the 2007 season, but signed with the Blue Jays in 2008. Eckstein was traded to Arizona in a deadline deal. He signed with the Padres at the end of the season and played with them from 2009 to 2010. Eckstein did not play in 2011 due to helping his wife with her acting career. It is unknown whether Eckstein is fielding offers for the 2012 season.
Third baseman Scott Rolen was an enigma in 2006. Embroiled in a controversial feud with manager Tony LaRussa and coming off a disappointing 2007 season in which he missed 61 games due to injury, Rolen was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Troy Glaus. The change of scenery helped Rolen turn things around and strong play led to a trade to the Cincinnati Reds. He has played for them ever since and received MVP consideration and his eighth gold glove in 2010. Rolen recently restructured his contract to stay in Cincinnati and help the team continue to build its young core to challenge the Cardinals for the NL Central title.
Left Fielder Preston Wilson was signed in August after being released by the Houston Astros. His offense didn’t show any signs of a turnaround but he provided the team with needed depth and took some pressure off of the rookie Chris Duncan. He was resigned, but missed almost all of 2007 with a knee injury. He went unsigned for 2008 and announced his retirement in 2009.
Center Fielder Jim Edmonds is still a favorite in St Louis. Like Rolen, Edmonds was controversially traded after the 2007 season. He missed time in 2007 due to injury and put up poor numbers. He was moved to San Diego for a third base prospect named David Freese who now owns the city of St Louis. He was released from San Diego early in 2008 and picked up by the Chicago Cubs. In Chicago, Edmonds saw a rejuvenation of his once highly regarded power bat, but the burst did not garner him what he felt was a reasonable offer for 2009. He returned to the game in 2010 by signing a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers traded Edmonds to the Reds in August for Chris Dickerson. In February of 2011, Edmonds signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals and announced his retirement soon thereafter. He was a minor league deal with Pittsburgh and Houston away from completing the NL Central cycle.
Right fielder Juan Encarnacion signed a three year deal with St Louis in 2005. He was a solid contributor for the team in 2006 but did not contribute much in the playoffs. In 2007 he was struck in the eye by an Aaron Miles foul ball while standing in the on deck circle. The injury ended up being career-ending as Encarnacion has not played since. He has, however, worked feverishly with the Dominican baseball league in an administrative capacity.
As we can see, history was not kind to the 2006 Cardinals. Only Carpenter, Wainwright, Pujols, Molina, and Rolen to an extent went on to see further success. Only three players remain with the Cardinals organization, and many of the players are out of the game. Will the 2011 St Louis Cardinals see a similar fate by the time 2016 rolls around? Only time will tell.