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UCB Project: Top 5 Stories of 2009

Posted on December 31, 2009 at 9:27 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
There is no doubt that 2009 was a very eventful one for the St. Louis Cardinals. From the surprising dismissal of Adam Kennedy right before spring training to the continued pursuit of Matt Holliday as the year comes to a close, there was little time this year when something wasn't happening. The United Cardinal Bloggers are doing their annual look back with the Top 5 Stories for 2009. Below are my selections:

1) Midseason Madness Time was, Cardinal fans were used to moves in the middle of the season. Walt Jocketty cleaned up at the deadline numerous times, including a very active 2000. However, even when Jocketty was wheeling and dealing, he didn't make the impact moves that John Mozeliak made this summer.

First off, Mozeliak made the move most everyone was clamoring for, trading off Chris Perez and a PTBNL (which turned out to be Jess Todd) for versatile player Mark DeRosa, who was toiling away for a Cleveland club that was well out of contention. While the price was steep, especially in retrospect, Mozeliak made the move that made the most sense for the team at the time.

So, after getting possibly the second best hitter on the trade market, Mozeliak then pulled off a deal for the first. Giving up on top prospect Brett Wallace, along with Clayton Mortenson and Shane Robinson, was a steep price to pay for a player that wasn't guaranteed to return to the club in 2010. However, Holliday sparked the Cardinals and provided another big bat in the St. Louis lineup. To go along with all of that, Mo still made moves to rid the team of Chris Duncan, something many never thought they'd see, and to get a productive player for him to boot. The team also signed John Smoltz after he was put on waivers from Boston, and while he wasn't exactly vintage Smoltz, he definitely was a boost to the rotation.



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2) Terrific Tossing

It's rare enough that there is a Cy Young caliber season in St. Louis.  Chris Carpenter won the first such award since Bob Gibson a few years back, which indicates just how long it has been.  So to have two Cy contenders going in the same rotation was a spectacular part of 2009.

I'm a huge pitching fan, so it was wonderful to see Carp and Adam Wainwright matching each other every time out, throwing up low scoring games right and left.  Either one of them would have been worthy of winning the award, though it went to Tim Lincecum of the Giants.

Those two weren't the only stars on the mound, though.  Joel Pineiro had a career year, relying on the ground balls from his sinker to put himself in position for a large contract.  Ryan Franklin inherited the closer role early and, until the last part of the season, really claimed it as his own, locking down games on a regular basis.  Even middle relief shined, as Trever Miller and Blake Hawksworth were reliable after the starters left the game, which was rarely before the seventh inning.

3) Awesome Albert

Some teams, having a player win the MVP would rank much higher up on the list.  In St. Louis, Albert Pujols not winning the award would have a bigger impact.  All Albert did was carry this team offensively until help arrived from the midseason acquisitions.   His final line of .327/.443/.658 with 47 homers and 135 RBI put him in the top three in all the traditional Triple Crown marks, even with the fact that he didn't hit a home run after September 9th.

The other part of the Pujols story was the continuing discussion about an extension for the franchise player.  No negotiations were undertaken, even though the fan base clamored for it.  Pujols came out and said that he didn't need an extension right now, which provoked much discussion and worry.  He clarified that remark by saying the team needed to focus elsewhere, which provoked much discussion and worry.  Until he puts his signature on a long-term deal with the club, almost anything he does will provoke much discussion and worry.

4) Dodgers Deal Defeat

After looking like the best team in the National League soon after the acquisition of Matt Holliday, the Cardinals struggled in September, losing five of their last six going into postseason play.  While some hoped that they would flip a switch and get back to that winning team, it never happened.

The team in NLDS against the Dodgers wasn't anything like the team from late July that was firing on all cylinders.  Chris Carpenter picked the worst time to have his worst game and the only Cardinal rally in Game 1 was snuffed out by a double play.  Adam Wainwright looked to have Game 2 won, until Ryan Franklin and Matt Holliday combined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  In the 2-0 hole, the team didn't seem to show up when the series shifted back to St. Louis, getting down early and never really making a comeback.  A disappointing end to a stellar season.

5) Skip to Second

It was stunning when the Cardinals released Adam Kennedy right before spring training began in 2009.  Most observers figured that St. Louis would be in the market for a second baseman, but instead transplanted outfielder Skip Schumaker to the slot.  While early returns defensively were brutal, Schumaker continued to hit at his regular pace and gradually the defense improved.  While it's unlikely that Skip will ever win a Gold Glove at second, he is going to be one of the rare players in recent history to hold that job for the Cardinals for more than one season.  His progress and attitude in the shift were overlooked somewhat as the season went on, but were definitely noteworthy.

A lot of other things could have made the list, such as the pursuit of Matt Holliday this offseason or the unlucky season that Kyle Lohse had, but I think these are the top stories to take away from 2009.  Now, what will 2010 bring?



4 Comments

4 Comments | Leave a comment

Good list. I'd have Ryan stablizing shortstop for #6. I think Ryan played a significant role in #'s 2 and 5. The fact that the keystone positions are now cheaply and well filled for the next few seasons is a huge boon for the team. This was totally unexpected, at least by me, at the start of last year.

That's a good point. Ryan was a big find for the Cards last year and hopefully he can keep it going in '10.

Nice look back, except for that part about the Dodgers.

Oh, I believe the last player in the deal for Holliday was Shane Peterson, not Robinson.

I think you are right. I meant to double check that and forgot when I got to writing. Thanks!

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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