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Cardinals will be back … and often

Oct 31, 2013, 12:24 AM EDT

michael wacha fenway getty Getty Images

It’s going to be a somber plane ride back to St. Louis for the Cardinals following Wednesday night’s World Series ouster at Fenway Park, but these birds will be playing on big stages for years and years to come.

There may not be a team in baseball that is better-poised for an extended run of future success.

Adam Wainwright is an established ace and under contract through 2018. Michael Wacha has all the tools to join Wainwright in that elite category, and Shelby Miller would have been a National League Rookie of the Year shoe-in if not for Marlins young stud Jose Fernandez. Carlos Martinez could join Wainwright, Wacha and Miller in the St. Louis starting rotation in 2014 and Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia are just a few of the organization’s other starting pitching options. Trevor Rosenthal — the club’s current fireballing young closer — has said publicly that he wants an opportunity to be a starter.

And that’s just the rotation. Kevin Siegrist, a 24-year-old lefty, is a rising star in the Cardinals’ bullpen. Seth Maness, a 25-year-old righty, posted a 2.32 ERA over his first 62 major league innings this season. John Axford, who found new life after arriving in St. Louis via a waiver trade, is eligible for salary arbitration. Jason Motte should be recovered from his Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery around early May.

Matt Holliday is locked in through at least 2016, Yadier Molina is locked in through at least 2017 and Allen Craig signed a big extension this past spring that can keep him in St. Louis through 2018. Matt Carpenter emerged as an MVP candidate this summer and top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras is ready to step in for Carlos Beltran, who is all but certain to accept a multi-year contract elsewhere in free agency. Exciting second base prospect Kolten Wong has the look of a future major league regular and could claim a starting job as early as 2014 if the Cardinals move Carpenter to third base and part ways with the arbitration-eligible David Freese. Don’t forget imposing slugger Matt Adams, who flashed game-changing power this year.

The Cardinals are stacked with good, young talent and have more than $30 million in player salaries coming off the books this winter between Beltran, Rafael Furcal, Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook.

The only real hole is at shortstop — and maybe center field — and the Cardinals will have the budget to make a major upgrade there. The most-storied franchise in the National League will write many more chapters.

  1. first2bomb - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    As a born and raised Cards fan it’s a disappointing to lose in the ship. Hats off to the Red Sox. They were the better team an deserved the crown. Also my hats off to Big Papi. Never have I seen a more dominant player at the plate in a World Series. You simply couldn’t get the man out. Congrats to Red Sox Fans… Signed- Depressed Cards Fan!!!

    • chrisernst82 - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      Cardinal fan here too, and even though love the Cards Ortiz was crazy to watch. Ive never been so concerned about one player when watching baseball in my life. And dude is a class act, definite HOF’er.

      To bad no matter how much people try to sweep it under the rug Lester got caught cheating. To me it will always be a tainted WS. Even though they probably didn’t even need to cheat. We killed ourselves defensively in game 1. But who knows if his cutter wasn’t breaking like it was how many runs we would have scored. We will never know. But we will always know that Lester is a cheater.

      I know people keep saying everyone does it but I ind that hard to believe. Im sure some have but if its that common why do we not here about it, ever. I have to believe in this day in age with the internet no detail seems to go unnoticed.

      You can thumbs down me all you want and try to give whatever excuse you have. It was the most obvious case of cheating ive seen in baseball in a long, long time. To me that’s no different than steroids. Hell its even worse than some guys who just used them to rehab IMO. Im not saying that’s cool either just not as bad.

      To me this WS will always be froze at 3-2. Nobody won.

      • jarathen - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        Dude. Let it go. If he was cheating, why didn’t any Cardinals complain?

      • chrisernst82 - Oct 31, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        It was brought to light by a Cardinal player buddy. And he got some pretty nasty stuff written about him. I personally think that there is some sort of Gag order type thing going on. Like MLB is refusing to let players talk about it. MLBPA probably is as well, it would look bad for the league and the PA.

        If I could get one good explanation of how it could have been anything else I would be happy actually. I love baseball and don’t want to think of it as something being manipulated. Its not like im the only one thinking it though. I think some sort of explanation is due. Its not like im constantly bringing it up, ive made a whole 1 post about it. Well two now, and if you lived where I live its a pretty hot topic. My grandma even asked me to get the video for her lol

        But how could something so obvious be swept under the rug. How could the MLB not even address it? Unless all those photos of it were fake and the video which is pretty damning is fake as well. Or there was one rational excuse maybe I would let it go. Im not gonna keep complaining on a baseball blog about it. But I know a lot of Cardinal fans personally that are pissed. There is a good 15 in my family alone.

        You here all this crap about steroids and the purity of the game. But this is off limits. I watched almost every Cardinal game this year in the regular season and every postseason game of the Cardinals. So baseball is a big part of my life its how I wind down half of the year. Not to mention all the money I spent on baseball for tickets, stadium markups, gear it is a lot of money. How could I forget about it. I think as fans the MLB literally owe us an explanation. Bud gets involved in every other little tiny thing and articles are written constantly about players when we don’t have near the kind of evidence that we do of this.

      • richwizl - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        In Lester’s second start, he moved the rosin from his glove to his right arm, above the wrist, so everyone could see it; the same green stuff, perfectly legal, no complaints from Matheny or umpires, so, I guess you’re still wrong; but thanks for the back-handed compliment, anyway.

  2. stoutfiles - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    I remember reading this exact article last year about the Nationals.

    There are no guarantees in baseball. Injuries, players not performing year-to-year…it’s going to be a struggle every year. You’ve got the Reds and Pirates in your own division, not to mention other good teams in the Dodgers, Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants, Nationals, etc.

    The Cardinals have the talent to get back but don’t crown them just yet.

    • mikelyons2013 - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      I thought Wainwright should have been pulled in game 5 several batters sooner. They had Martinez warmed up. Last night the Cards hit Lackey hard every inning. But they couldn’t string enough hits together to score. The Cards just couldn’t get that one big hit. As the game wore on, the Cards had 6 hits the Red Sox 7 hits, but the Sox led 6-0. Wacha hitting Gomes was huge. You just can’t hit or walk batters in crucial games. Boston is an opportunistic bunch. Cardinal fans are looking for a return to the World Series. I’m a Giants fan, and I too am looking for a return to the big show.

      • midjerseyfatcat - Oct 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

        No doubt that St.Louis will be back to the WS but there are no guarantees that it will be next year but they might be as they are that good. I don’t think they have a bad arm in the pen or in the starting rotation. The managing is solid and they have a pretty good defense especially up the middle. Though I rooted for the Red Sox I had to admire the way St.Louis took the field of every game looking like they were going to win. They have a “winning attitude” and are not losers for sure and they know it. I do believe if it was the custom for the losing team to shake hands with the winners after all is said and done I think St.Louis would have done it in a heart beat. It was a great series regardless what the fans from NY and other big market cities say. When I think of pitchers I think of Bob Gibson of St.Louis. I saw him pitch back in 68′. A lot of people say he was mean but that was all bull. He was a great pitcher and I think the Cards have a few arms on the team now that could use his mentality. That alone might put them over the top to win a WS or two.

  3. sportsdrenched - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    I’m confused with the National’s comparisons. The Nationals have made the plays-offs once in the 9 seasons since they moved to Washington.

    The Cardinals on the other hand have made the post season 6 of those 9 years and cashed in two World Series Titles.
    Yes, baseball is a funny game and anything can happen. But I think the Cardinals have a track record of success and their current roster suggests that the odds are in their favor to continue that.

    However, can someone explain Matt Adams to me. I watched his AB’s in the playoffs looking for something special based on the discussions here. He looked like a lost Matt Stairs at the plate to me. What am I missing?

    • stoutfiles - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Because anything can happen. The Nats looked great on paper as well last year, better than the Cards do right now. They’re probably losing Beltran, and Holliday/Molina are both on the wrong side of 30. They should be good, but there is no guarantee of the playoffs, and it’s foolish to think so. They’re are a lot of good teams in the NL with a lot of great pitchers.

      Every year is a fresh start. You can’t look at past years to determine the following year’s success.

      • paperlions - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:17 AM

        The Nats did not look better on paper. The Nats had high end talent and many guys that had career years in 2012 that they didn’t replicate in 2013. The Nats didn’t and don’t have anywhere near the depth the Cardinals organization has (especially in pitching), and the Cardinals continue to win every year without guys putting up crazy unsustainable production. The only guy that you could reliably predict will likely be worse next year than in 2013 is Carpenter, but if you look at his MiLB numbers, he actually hit well at every level….so he shouldn’t be expected to fall off of a cliff.

        The Cardinals have a LOT of young talent already on the roster (more than the Nats did) have more coming (Wong, Tavares, Piscotty), and have greater payroll flexibility.

        The teams aren’t similar in construction at all.

    • chrisernst82 - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Yeah you are, he got cold in the playoffs, he was awesome coming off the bench and replacing Craig at the end of the season. not to mention NLDS. He is a rookie who had a cold streak.

      By that logic I bet you think Miggy is nothing special either since he only batted around .260 with an OPS barely above .700 in the playoffs.

      Adams had 296 AB’s this year as a rookie. Take his stats and average them over 600 AB’s what do you get? around 95-35-105-0-.284/.335/839. That is pretty bad I guess lol

      That’s without considering how much better he was as an everyday player than off the bench. You just count the games he was an everyday starter and average those over a whole season and he was even better.

      • chrisernst82 - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        Matt Adams that is…it was supposed to be a reply but I posted in the wrong area

      • sportsdrenched - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        I’m confused by your logic that becuase I asked a legitimate question that I have flawed logic.

        Matt Adams didn’t look like he was hitting into bad luck or that he was slumping…he looked lost at the plate to me, overmatched in some cases. But, He was out there for a reason. So I asked.

        Miggy plays in the same division as the Royals and I was more familiar with him. He was nursing an injury during the final days of the season and the playoffs. Not only that Miggy has a body of work to know that he was just having a rough time. With Matt Adams, just like the Nationals…we don’t have that.

    • db105 - Oct 31, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      Do you buy stocks based on a couple weeks performance? I wouldn’t judge a player based on a few postseason games.

  4. officialgame - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Every team says the same thing but the Cardinals are a great organization. It’s just hard, real hard.

  5. mikelyons2013 - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    I thought Wainwright should have been pulled in game 5 several batters sooner. They had Martinez warmed up. Last night the Cards hit Lackey hard every inning. But they couldn’t string enough hits together to score. The Cards just couldn’t get that one big hit. As the game wore on, the Cards had 6 hits the Red Sox 7 hits, but the Sox led 6-0. Wacha hitting Gomes was huge. You just can’t hit or walk batters in crucial games. Boston is an opportunistic bunch. Cardinal fans are looking for a return to the World Series. I’m a Giants fan, and I too am looking for a return to the big show.

  6. drewnichols81 - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    C. Carpenter, Furcal, Motte, Craig, Tavares. With those injuries, glaring holes at SS and CF, to make it so far was a damn good year

  7. gostlcards5 - Oct 31, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Well written article, Drew. I was actually just stating most of your points to some of my Cardinals-fan friends on Facebook this morning.

    The future is bright, the sun will rise tomorrow, it’s 5:00 somewhere, and spring training starts in 4 months!

  8. thomas655 - Oct 31, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Where was Shelby Miller in the World Series?

  9. barroomhero80 - Oct 31, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Who cares. Boo hoo

    • chrisernst82 - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      Enjoy your trophy, and the asterisk right next to it in the record book. There is more evidence of the Jon Lester cheating than Bonds taking steroids. Any pictures out there with Bonds juicing? Ive never seen a video of it. What I have seen a video of is Lester wiping some goop from out of his glove. He is even dumb enough to use a bright green substance which is clearly visible in several pictures.

      I bet all you people who want to thumbs down me for speaking the truth when you would be feeling the same way if your team got cheated out of a fair shot. I know I would be ashamed to even brag if the Cardinals would have got caught doing that.

      Seems to be the Boston way now a days, must have learned it from the patriots!

      • richwizl - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Your team might have beaten the Tampa Bay Rays, but I doubt it. Get better and come back. Be happy you won one game and another tainted game.

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