5 wildly successful reclamation projects for past Cardinals teams

These five former St. Louis Cardinals exemplified the team's past skill of turning scraps into stars.
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Chris Carpenter

Dave Duncan had countless success stories during his time as the Cardinals' pitching coach, but Chris Carpenter may have been his magnum opus. Carpenter was an average pitcher for six years with the Toronto Blue Jays, with a 4.83 ERA, but after Toronto released him after 2002 and the Cardinals scooped him up, Duncan sculpted Carpenter into a completely new pitcher.

Carpenter's first season with the Cardinals in 2004 saw him reach new heights, going 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA, but few could have guessed that a Cy Young Award was up next. Carpenter pitched brilliantly in 2005, scratching out a 2.83 ERA and leading the major leagues with seven complete games. In 2006, Carpenter anchored the Cardinals' World Series-winning rotation.

Age and injuries would slowly eat away at Carpenter, as he missed most of 2007 and 2008 with Tommy John surgery, but he had one more excellent season in 2009, where he led the league with a 2.24 ERA and finished second to Tim Lincecum in Cy Young Award voting. Carpenter retired late in 2013 after injuries kept him out the entire season.

With Toronto, Carpenter was pulled in many different directions by multiple pitching coaches and managers, but he landed in potentially the best possible place in St. Louis, where Duncan and manager Tony La Russa were stalwarts through 2011. Carpenter was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2016, and Dave Duncan deserves to join him.