St. Louis Cardinals: 5 trades which built the bridge to their 105-win 2004 season

St. Louis Cardinals World Series Ring Ceremony
St. Louis Cardinals World Series Ring Ceremony / Scott Rovak/GettyImages
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The Walt Jocketty-Tony LaRussa Era of Cardinal baseball was one of the most successful in franchise history. Dating from the time when Jocketty hired LaRussa in 1996, through 2007, when Jocketty was fired as General Manager, the Cardinals had some of their best teams.

The zenith of these years dated from 2004 to 2006, when the Cardinals won three Divisional Championships, two National League Pennants, and one World Series Championship.

The best of those teams was the 2004 105-win National League Pennant Champions. Even though this team didn't win the World Series, it was the foundation of the team that did in 2006.

To build that team, there were 5 trades that help create this Championship foundation. Here are those important and historic trades.

Trade 1. A Trade for a Shortstop in 1998

Royce Clayton had been the Cardinals' primary shortstop since 1996 after Manager Tony LaRussa pushed the legendary Ozzie Smith to a backup role. During the 1998 season, with Clayton due to become a free agent, the Cardinals traded Clayton to the Texas Rangers.

Needing an everyday shortstop, the Cardinals traded Armando Almanza, Brandan Looper, and Pablo Ozuna to the Florida Marlins for Edgar Renteria.

For the next 6 years, Renteria became the shortstop the Cardinals needed, a good bat with Gold Glove defense. He not only won 2 Gold Gloves during his tenure with the Cardinals, but he also won 3 Silver Slugger Awards and made 3 All-Star appearances.

During the 105-win 2004 season, Renteria's right-handed bat hit a slash line of .287/.327/.401 with 10 HR and 72 RBIs. During the postseason, Renteria hit a slash of .455/.600/.636 with 4 RBIs against the Dodgers in the Divisional Series, and .333 /.412/.533 in the World Series against the Red Sox.

Overall, he had a 6-year slash line of .290/.347/.420 and a 16.7 WAR. He was also a durable shortstop, being in the Top 5 of games played for Shortstops during his time in St. Louis. Additionally, he was a consistent leader in putouts, assists, and double plays turned.