It’s easy to hate the St Louis Cardinals if you’re not a Cardinals fan. It seems like they make a postseason run every single year. But unlike the Braves of the 90’s, they actually win almost as often as they lose. No, the last two World Series they played in didn’t bring any more championships to the club, but the fact that they’ve contended so often in the last decade is nothing short of amazing.
The Cardinals have the 2nd most all time World Series wins and are 3rd in World Series appearances. That’s stretched over a century, but it’s what they’ve been doing since the mid 2000’s that’s resulted in two more World Series wins and guided the team to so much postseason success. In a nutshell, what they’ve been doing is focusing their attention on the farm system.
A guy like Brian Cashman wouldn’t survive in St Louis. They don’t buy talent outright, they develop it. Yes, they’ll make a late season trade to acquire a position player like any other team, but a late season trade for the Cardinals usually means someone on their way down with just enough gas left in the tank to contribute. Much of the team is comprised of guys they developed within their farm system or guys they traded for early in their careers that are signed to long term contracts for players from their farm system.
And that’s not to say it’s always a winning formula, but it’s kept them in contention for a solid ten years. You never hear of a St Louis Cardinals early or mid-season “fire sale”. You never hear of “rebuilding years”. You never hear of them gutting the team to acquire an overpriced player via a big name trade. Instead, you see that they’re consistently willing to let players go if their salary needs are outside of what’s in the best interest of the organization. Pujols was a prime example.
We’ll see how they do this postseason. But win or lose, you can bet they’ll probably contend again next year. They’re one of the few teams with the system in place to do it.