Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The 2006-07 Cardinals

When the Cardinals won the World Series after an 83-78 regular season last year, many called them the worst champs of all time. Those who defended St. Louis generally argued that they were the same team who won 205 games the previous two years.

This wasn't true then, and it isn't now. Between 2004 and 2006, the Cardinals--like all teams do over the span of two years--underwent huge turnover, both in personnel and performance. Of those Cardinals who played regularly in 2004's 105-57 season, there were just five holdovers on the 2006 postseason roster: Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Chris Carpenter, and Jeff Suppan. That's still a hell of a core, but Rolen and particularly Edmonds were substantially less valuable in 2006 than 2004, due to age and injuries. This was simply not the same collection of talent that had the best record in MLB in both 2004 and 2005.

The 2006 Cardinals resemble their 2007 team much more closely than 2004, and the 2007 version ain't looking good. Their Pythagorean record stands at 9-22, making them the only non-Nationals team under 10 expected wins. This is despite returning almost the entire 2006 roster. I know, Chris Carpenter is hurt, but his absence hasn't cost the Cardinals more than one win. Suppan and Marquis are pitching well for divisional rivals, but you couldn't pay St. Louis enough to take Jeff Weaver v.2007 back. The 2006 Cardinals were not a championship-caliber team, and the 2007 Cardinals aren't either.

The Cardinals have had a great run this decade, and they probably deserved a World Series title at some point. But it's looking more and more like that run is over, and that for the next few years, we're going to be watching a team of Pujols, Rolen, Carpenter, and a bunch of also-rans.

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