St. Louis Cardinals: What Mozeliak could learn from 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 30: John Mozeliak of the St. Louis Cardinals speaks to the crowd at Busch Stadium during the World Series victory parade for the franchise's 11th championship on October 30, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 30: John Mozeliak of the St. Louis Cardinals speaks to the crowd at Busch Stadium during the World Series victory parade for the franchise's 11th championship on October 30, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals made two impact trades in 2011 before the Trade Deadline. Those trades turned the season around and helped surge the team to the 2011 World Series Championship.

While we wait for the July 31 Trade Deadline and see if the St. Louis Cardinals make any substantial moves, let’s look at 2011.  Two trades were made during that incredible year that helped propel the Cardinals to World Championship.  Those two trades involved disgruntled outfielder Colby Rasmus and then-Dodger shortstop Rafael Fucal.

These two trades weren’t the only reasons the Cardinals made their postseason run in 2011, other moves were made and contributed.  However, without the two trades, it is unlikely the Cardinals win the 2011 World Series.  In fact, they made not have even made it to the postseason.

I believe John Mozeliak and the Cardinals Front Office should go back and look at the trades from 2011 as they approach the 2018 Trade Deadline.  That year they made two low-cost, low-risk trades and helped the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Championship.

Let’s look at the trades and how it impacted the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.

The Colby Rasmus trade

On July 27, the Cardinals made a four-for-four trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Cardinals sent to the Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus, left-handed relievers Trevor Miller and Brian Tallet, and starter P.J. Walters.  In return they received from the Blue Jays, right-handed starter Edwin Jackson, left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski, right-handed reliever, Octavio Dotel, and outfielder Corey Patterson.

Colby Rasmus had been considered a five-tool player and at one time was considered untouchable by the Cardinals when other teams inquired about his availability.

However, by 2011, Rasmus had become disgruntled playing for then Manager Tony LaRussa, and was asking to be traded.  Rasmus had been in a slump  and was hitting .194 since mid-May.  After the trade,  Jon Jay became the St. Louis Cardinals starting center fielder for the rest of the season.

With Adam Wainwright out for the season, the trade allowed Kyle McClellan to return to help shore up the bullpen and Jackson assumed his spot in the rotation.  Consequently, the addition of Dotel and Rzepczynski helped stabilize a bullpen that had been struggling throughout the year.  Former closer Ryan Franklin and Miquel Batista were released in late june, after posting ERAs of 8.46 and 4.60, to open the door for a remaking of the Cards bullpen.

Rafael Fucal trade

On July 31, the St. Louis Cardinals made the second trade before the Deadline, when they sent AA outfielder Alex Castellanos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for  shortstop Rafael Fucal.

The Cardinals shortstop position had been a revolving door since David Eckstein left after the 2007 season.  The names passing through St. Louis since Eckstein’s departure included Khalil Greene, Brendan Ryan, and Tyler Greene.  The latest, Ryan Theriot, had been signed in the off-season and already committed 17 errors.

Fucal batted .255, hit 7 home runs in 50 games and helped stabilize the Cardinals infield defense.  The veteran, also had a positive impact on the sometimes humorless Cardinals’ clubhouse.  He implemented the phrase ,”happy flight,” to emphasize how important winning a last game of a series before flying out to the next one.

What the Cardinals front office should learn from 2011

The two trades in 2011 are often forgotten in the midst of David Freeze’s heroics in Game 6 of the World Series. Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Rafael Fucal didn’t have many highlights when the 2011 season is recalled. However, without these players, it is unlikely the season would have turned out in a World Championship.

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The trades didn’t have an immediate impact on the St. Louis Cardinals 2011 season.  In fact, the club continued to struggle throughout August and were 10.5 games back in the NL-Central in the later part of the month.  But in September, things started change.

As the September race tightened for the Wild Card spot, Mozeliak’s trades begin to pay off.  Edwin Jackson proved to be a reliable innings-eater in the starting rotation and the bullpen settled down with the help of Dotel and Rzepczynski.  Also, Rafael Fucal’s play at shortstop helped tighten the Cardinals’ infield defense.

These players weren’t the only reason the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series.  The collapse of the Atlanta Braves in September also contributed to the Cards earning the Wild Card spot.

Nevertheless, the lesson to be learned for John Mozeliak, Michael Gersh, and the Front Office is a series of moves or trades can be made that aren’t costly.  The two 2011 trades did not cost the St. Louis Cardinals a lot in players, prospects, or money.

The two trades accomplished the goals of improving the starting rotation, shoring up the bullpen, and solidifying the infield defense.  Let’s hope John Mozeliak will remember July of 2011 as he approaches the 2018 Trade Deadline.

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Let’s know your thoughts and opinions on the coming Trade Deadline.  Thanks for reading, and Go Cardinals!