Two consecutive years of watching from the couch in October is hard to swallow for a fan base used to success. However, St. Louis Cardinals fans might not have to wait much longer to enjoy October baseball once again.
Count me among the frustrated St. Louis Cardinals fans over the past couple of seasons. With a tradition and history as rich as the one in St. Louis, it’s hard to stomach an October without baseball at Busch Stadium.
Let’s be honest though. We have had a pretty good run in the Gateway City. Few organizations know the feeling of sustained success like the Cardinals do. It’s time that St. Louis Cardinals fans stop grumbling so much about the past two years and start getting excited about the ones to come.
Yes, fans of the Chicago Cubs are finally experiencing what we Cardinal fans already know all too well. They are on a nice run, but they are beatable. If the bullpen closes out even half of the games they blew up last year then we are talking about a 2017 Cardinals team that wins the division instead of finishing nine games out.
Rest assured, the Cardinals front office has a plan. They have always had one. It’s called the Cardinal Way. Draft, develop, dominate. The St. Louis Cardinals do it with class and in a way that makes other fan bases envious.
There is an exciting crop of young players in the farm system right now. From electric arms like Dakota Hudson to lightning fast outfielders like Oscar Mercado to solid hitters like Max Schrock, this is a deep system with strong talent.
It is a commitment to this system that keeps the Cardinals competitive every year. The moves that Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak and General Manager Michael Girsch made this offseason only reinforced the team’s commitment to winning while staying strong within.
The Cardinals traded away three Top-15 prospects for the middle-of-the-order bat that the fan base has been clamoring for in Marcell Ozuna. Unlike the last big name outfielder we traded for, Ozuna actually wants to be here and is excited about wearing the Birds on the Bat.
Following the trade to acquire Ozuna, Stephen Piscotty and Randall Grichuk were traded to the Athletics and Blue Jays, respectively. Those moves not only made the major league team better, but they also kept the farm system stocked with high upside talent.
This is how the Cardinals organization does business. It is also a big reason why they remain so successful. The Chicago Cubs tanked for several seasons and hoarded high draft picks. They had already lost for over a hundred years. What was a few more?
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That wouldn’t be acceptable in St. Louis. The Cardinals don’t always get high draft picks because they are always highly competitive. That means they have to get creative to stay on top. Again, the Cardinal Way is the formula. Draft, develop, dominate. Sometimes it also means trade.
The Cardinals are masterful at developing homegrown talent and trading it away to upgrade the major league team. It’s how they brought Matt Holliday to town. It was how they acquired Jason Heyward. Now, it’s how they got the Marlins to agree to trade Ozuna.
Mo an Co. are incredible at developing and trading. They have been doing it for decades, even before Mozeliak ascended to his current role. They are still good at it.
The Cardinals organization is one of, if not the best in the game at developing talent and maximizing it to keep the major league club competitive. Consider the projected lineup. Only Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, and Jedd Gyorko did not spend time in the Cardinals’ system.
The rotation is the same way. Miles Mikolas is the only projected starter to not have logged time in the Cardinals’ farm system. Adam Wainwright was a prospect on the Braves’ Double-A club when he was brought in and up through the Cardinals’ system. I’d say that worked out pretty well.
So what is the point in all of this? The point is that Cardinals are just fine. Does it mean the team as constructed is fully complete? No, it doesn’t. However, the Cardinals have managed to stay competitive while retooling in ways that most clubs can only dream of.
The 2018 Cardinals look a lot like the 2014 Cubs to me. They have a bright future ahead of them. They might even make the playoffs this year, though a World Series berth might be a stretch. You know what else? It didn’t take this Cardinals team 108 years to get there either.