St. Louis Cardinals: The Upside of Losing the Offseason

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Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This week, ESPN posted yet another “winners and losers” pieces, focusing on the losers this time. The St. Louis Cardinals weren’t among them. Should we care?

One thing we do know is this. The St. Louis Cardinals certainly aren’t among the winners of the offseason. Not like they were considered by some back in December 2013. At that time, the team had added pop at shortstop (Jhonny Peralta) and extra speed in the outfield (Peter Bourjos) while every other team in the division spun their wheels.

Sure enough, the St. Louis Cardinals went out and won the division and proceeded to make a deep run in the playoffs. But so did the Baltimore Orioles. A competing general manager told ESPN’s Jayson Stark this in the wake of the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings:

"“They look like a team that’s caught in between,” one executive said. “They act like they don’t have any money, although I’m not sure why. They’re a little short on having enough talent to keep pace in the division. And they don’t seem like they’re going to do much to address it. They feel like they’re a team with nowhere to go.”"

The Orioles were beaten in the ALCS by another team that certainly didn’t win any praise for its offseason wheeling and dealing. The Kansas City Royals’ biggest move over the previous winter was trading for punch-and-judy outfielder Nori Aoki, who mercifully became a free agent a year later.

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The Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and, yes, the Kansas City Royals yet again, all took their lumps in the media last winter for their offseason dealings — or lack thereof. The former two reached the postseason. The Royals, of course, won the whole ball of wax, even though the New York Post‘s Ken Davidoff wasn’t alone in writing this on the eve of the season:

"The defending AL champions replaced James Shields with Edinson Volquez and Butler with Kendrys Morales. Underwhelming."

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No one should laugh at that. Not me nor anyone else, because given all the information we as the media and fans had at the time it was a perfectly logical assessment. Fortunately for the Royals — and perhaps the St. Louis Cardinals as we head into 2016 — championships are decided in October, not December.

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