The next team we’ll cover on Call to the Pen’s 2012 MLB Season Preview series is the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
2011 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS SEASON RECAP
Despite John Mozeliak’s best efforts, he and Albert Pujols could not come to an agreement on a contract extension. Talks ceased once the Cardinals reached Jupiter, FL and eventually Albert left to play for the Los Angeles Angels.
Adam Wainwright was hurt in late February forcing him to have Tommy John surgery and was lost for the season. In an instant the Cardinals were behind the eight ball and seemed to be in that spot the entire season.
Ryan Franklin blew four save chances and the closer carousel began for the Cardinals, as Franklin was done in the role within the first couple weeks of the season. He was later released.
The Cardinals took a flyer on signing Lance Berkman to a one-year deal and it paid off especially in the beginning of the season when his bat carried the team while Pujols struggled. Berkman ended the season hitting .301 with 31 home runs and 94 RBI.
Pujols was just not himself through May suffering from his worst two months in a Cardinals’ uniform. Once June began Pujols started to find his groove. He finished very strong and his overall numbers resembled more the player Cardinals’ fans expected. His final line was .299, 105 R, 37 HR and 99 RBI.
Chris Carpenter was a workhorse, throwing 237 innings (which he may be paying for now). He was 11-9 with a 3.46 ERA and 191 K’s. Kyle Lohse led the team with 14 wins and a 3.39 ERA. Jaime Garcia had a good sophomore performance going 13-7. The closer role was Fernando Salas‘ for a better part of the year. But by late August manager Tony La Russa handed the reins over to Jason Motte. He recorded the Cardinals’ final nine saves and was practically unhittable during the postseason.
The Cardinals were active on the trade front in July, dealing much maligned outfielder Colby Rasmus along with Trevor Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Toronto Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson. Jackson, Rzepczynski and Dotel ended up being major contributors for the remainder of the season. At the trade deadline the Cardinals traded AA outfielder, Alex Castellanos, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for shortstop Rafael Furcal.
The Redbirds entered the final month of the season 8.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and 8.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card standings. With 28 games left to try to get back in the race(s), the Cardinals won 20 of them. The Braves went in the complete opposite direction and the Cards ended up winning the wild card spot on the final day of the season finishing the regular season 90-72.
The team never quit despite the numerous injuries and that attitude translated into a magnificent run to the World Series title.
2011 CARDINALS POSTSEASON
The Cardinals dispatched of the Philadelphia Phillies in the Division Series and then beat the Brewers in the National League Championship series four games to two.
The Cardinals met the Texas Rangers in the World Series with home-field advantage in their pocket. The Rangers had a three games to two lead over the Cards going into Game 6, which went down as one of the most memorable games in World Series history. Down to their final strike twice, the Cardinals came back to win the game thanks to the heroics of David Freese. The Redbirds went on to seal the deal in Game 7 en route to winning their 11th World Series title. Freese was named the World Series MVP.