Less than a year ago, the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox clashed in the World Series. Now, these two teams match up for the first time, and if they didn’t have to wear uniforms, you might not recognize them.
Both teams took different paths to revamping their rosters, and they have both arrived in St. Louis for a World Series rematch heading in completely different directions.
The St. Louis Cardinals did some introspection after losing the Fall Classic in six games. Holes in their lineup, lack of range in center field and at third, and a lack of hitting against lefties let the Cardinals down throughout the season and especially in the World Series.
Less than a month after losing Game Six, the Cardinals moved the 2011 Game Six hero David Freese. Freese was among the worst infield defenders in the league in 2013 and was one of the holes in the line-up down the stretch. So the Cardinals swapped him for a solution in the outfield: Peter Bourjos.
While Jon Jay had the worst arm rating and the second worst Ultimate Zone Rating according to Fangraphs, Bourjos is one of the best defensive outfielders in the sport. Jay took plenty of playing time at the beginning of the season, but Bourjos is getting more playing time since Jay tweaked his wrist.
Just days after trading Freese, the Cardinals inked a deal with free agent Jhonny Peralta. Peralta filled the line-up hole that the Cardinals had been struggling with for years. Peralta was a massive upgrade from Pete Kozma, and filled the need for hitters against lefties.
The final changes to the roster for St. Louis came just before the non-waiver trade deadline. The Cardinals revamped their rotation with veterans from Cleveland and Boston. They swapped a minor league outfielder for Justin Masterson, and they traded two impact players from the World Series for Game Six winner John Lackey.
The trade with the Cardinals was one of three moves on deadline day for the Red Sox. Boston decided to blow up their rotation just one year after winning it all, something that Philadelphia Phillies GM Rubén Amaro, Jr. has failed to do despite being out of the playoffs for the last two years.
While no one believes the Red Sox dismantled their team too early, it takes guts to pull the rug out from under the team. The Sox traded away every pitcher with a win in the World Series in 2013 for players that can help their team this year and next year, or players to help them in the future.
They flipped Jake Peavy and his duck boat to the Giants for a pair of young players, and they traded Felix Doubront to the Cubs for a player to be named later.
But the biggest moves Boston made involved big league players.
They picked up Yoenis Cespedes from the A’s and Joe Kelly and Allen Craig from the Cardinals for Jon Lester and John Lackey, respectively.
Craig has already gone on the DL, but Cespedes and Kelly will appear in this series. Kelly gives the Red Sox the same number of starters from the Cardinals 2013 rotation as their own 2013 rotation, while Lackey gives the Cardinals the same amount of 2013 Boston starters as the Red Sox do.
The Cardinals look like they could be heading for the playoffs while the Red Sox are waiting for next year. Kelly’s return to St. Louis, Cespedes’ first game in a Red Sox road uniform and how Oscar Taveras reacts to playing every day will make this World Series rematch worth watching.
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