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Restoring the rosters: No. 17 – St. Louis

Aug 22, 2009, 5:23 PM EDT

This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
Producing the game’s best player and one of the top five pitchers only goes so far. The Cardnals’ lack of pitching depth leaves them right in the middle of these rankings.
Rotation
Dan Haren
Braden Looper
Anthony Reyes
Mitchell Boggs
Brad Thompson
Bullpen
Kyle McClellan
Luke Gregerson
Chris Perez
Jason Motte
Josh Kinney
Jess Todd
Blake Hawksworth
The Cardinals haven’t had a high first-round pick since taking J.D. Drew in 1998, but they’ve missed on an awful lot of pitchers with selections in the 20s and 30s. 12 of the 19 first- and supplemental first-round picks they’ve had since then have been pitchers, but only three have reached the majors: Perez, likely bust Chris Lambert and the recently traded Clayton Mortensen.
So what we’re left with here is Haren and not much else. Looper, the third overall pick in the 1996 draft, is a mediocre closer turned No. 4 starter. Reyes has No. 3-starter talent, but he may never be able to stay healthy. He’s out until late next year following Tommy John surgery. Boggs is a fringe fifth starter, and Thompson is most useful in middle relief. The bullpen is more promising. Both McClellan and Gregerson are shaping up as excellent setup men, and Perez and Motte still have a fair amount of promise. Todd might end up being better than all of them.
Lineup
3B Adam Kennedy
2B Placido Polanco
RF J.D. Drew
1B Albert Pujols
LF Rick Ankiel
C Yadier Molina
CF Colby Rasmus
SS Jack Wilson
Bench
2B/OF Skip Schumaker
CF Coco Crisp
INF Brendan Ryan
OF Terry Evans
C Mike DiFelice
Another star would be nice, but Tony La Russa would be happy with the flexibility provided by this lineup. Also, the excellent defense will help all of those starters who won’t be recording many strikeouts. Molina, Pujols, Wilson all rank among the game’s best at their positions, and Polanco is still a surehanded asset at second. The outfield defense is a little above average with this arrangement and significantly better when Crisp starts and Rasmus goes to a corner. Against lefties, Ryan should start over Kennedy, Crisp over Ankiel and perhaps Evans over one of the other two outfielders.
Summary
The Cardinals have struggled to keep pitching prospects healthy and are paying for it in these rankings. It’s worth wondering just how much better off they’d be if they concentrated more on producing hitters over these last 10 years. After all, in Dave Duncan, they have a pitching coach who excels at turning around veteran starters. They could have played to that strength a little better.
Of course, it’s not as though the Cardinals are struggling. It looked like they’re set to reach the playoffs for the seventh time in 10 years, and they won it all in 2006. While I generally give a lot more credit to general managers than field managers, in this case, La Russa and Duncan deserve the praise, probably more so than former GM Walt Jocketty.

  1. Steve - Aug 22, 2009 at 5:56 PM

    “Won it all in 1996″? I think someone should let the Yankees know.

  2. norm - Aug 22, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    I am windering if anyone has info on NL september call-ups
    Can’t seem to find it anywhere

  3. Matthew Pouliot - Aug 22, 2009 at 6:19 PM

    Whoops. Thanks.

  4. Matthew Pouliot - Aug 22, 2009 at 6:21 PM

    That was the topic of last week’s Strike Zone: http://www.rotoworld.com/content/features/column.aspx?sport=MLB&columnid=2&article=33421

  5. randy - Aug 23, 2009 at 2:12 PM

    Do you know the difference between 1996 and 2006?

  6. Jaron - Aug 23, 2009 at 9:45 PM

    Haha. You are pretty funny especially because Carp isn’t even in the rotation. This Matt guy must not know anything about baseball or maybe he has just been living under a hole for the past 2 years.

  7. WY - Aug 23, 2009 at 10:14 PM

    Jaron: Do you understand the premise behind this series? Apparently not. Here it is: Only players that were ORIGINALLY DRAFTED by the team count. Carpenter originally came up with Toronto, so he’s out. Likewise with Wainwright (for what it’s worth), since he came up in Atlanta’s system. Looper is on there not because he had recent stint with the team, but rather it’s because he was originally drafted by them (and then traded to the Marlins in the Renteria deal). And so on and so forth.
    You should probably apologize to the author and make sure to get your facts straight in the future before slamming other people.

  8. Floyd - Aug 23, 2009 at 10:27 PM

    Irony is just so awesome.
    Here’s the internet tough guy, thinks he just outsmarted the baseball writer, but he doesn’t even check his facts first.
    This type of comedic relief is why I’m still alive today.
    Carpenter wasn’t drafted by the Cardinals, idiot.

  9. Eep - Aug 23, 2009 at 10:31 PM

    I disagree with regards to the defensive “upgrade” switching from Rasmus to Crisp. Rasmus’ RZR of .963 is the third best among qualified CFs in both leagues. Crisp’s .938 (a career high by .011, btw) would slot him in at 11. Rasmus is an absolutely elite defender in CF.

  10. Matthew Pouliot - Aug 23, 2009 at 10:51 PM

    Oh, that wasn’t a knock on Rasmus at all. I was referring to the upgrade you’d get by using Crisp over one of the corner guys.
    And, yeah, you could make a case that it’d be better to put Crisp in left and keep Rasmus in center when Ankiel sits.

  11. Rick - Aug 23, 2009 at 11:29 PM

    People who write stories like this are one reason NBC isn’t a major player any more in TV sports.

  12. Andre - Aug 24, 2009 at 9:04 AM

    Why, Rick? Because it’s interesting and you expect your internet articles to be inane and blaring? I know, I kept hoping he’d mention Jeter or Ortiz but he didn’t and now I’m really disappointed. How are those guys doing. I never hear about them.

  13. Matthew - Aug 25, 2009 at 12:07 AM

    Why isn’t Pujols batting third? You want your best overall hitter batting third, just like Pujols does in real life.
    By the way, even though he’s had a really tough year this year and is now on Boston’s AAA team, I’d rather have Chris Duncan as a backup 1B/OF over Terry Evans, whoever he is.

  14. John - Aug 25, 2009 at 2:44 AM

    Terry Evans was traded to the Anaheim Angels for Jeff Weaver. He has played some in the big leagues, but not a whole lot. I wouldn’t want Duncan in his current condition (unhealthy)…He was just released by the Red Sox. It’s really amazing how many plate appearances he received this year while being so awful. I hope he gets healthy and returns to 2006 form as a DH somewhere… I would probably replace Evans with Daric Barton. If the bullpen wasn’t so stacked as is, I would probably add Kiko Calero too.

  15. Nick - Aug 25, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    Wow Jaron, you really just don’t get it…
    Also, How exactly does one live UNDER a hole???

  16. Matthew - Aug 25, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    Keep in mind that this includes recent past performance and projected value for next year. Duncan was great when healthy in 2006 and 2007, and he has a decent chance of bouncing back next year, or at least a better chance than Terry Evans or Daric Barton do.

  17. Matthew Pouliot - Aug 25, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    If it was just the 13 best players, Duncan would clearly have a spot. However, on this team, he’d be another left-handed hitter with left-handed starters at all three outfield positions. I think it makes more sense to carry the right-handed bat, whether it’s Evans, Nick Stavinoha or Joe Mather.
    One more note: Calero was a Royals prospect originally.

  18. cardzfanbub - Sep 10, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    Definitely makes more sense to move Crisp to left if you’re replacing Ankiel with him. His noodle arm pales in comparison to Colby’s plus arm, and would play much better in LF.

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