The 2008 All Ex-Cardinals Team

Several days ago, I unveiled the St. Louis Cardinals’ “Let ‘em Go” Team, made up of 18 players that were allowed to leave by the Cardinals via free agency this decade. The common thread was that once out of St. Louis, most all of the players were paid more money than they were worth and delivered less results.

I received some comments about the choice of the team, questioning whether I wasn’t ignoring several players the club let go that did better after leaving.

I would say that sticking to the original criteria of free agency, the answer is “no”. When also including players involved in trades, the list of solid players increases slightly in size, but the ultimate conclusion remains the same. One must also remember that those traded Cardinals did not represent a total loss to the organization, since players also came in the other direction.

Major league losses

In creating the “2008 All Ex-Cardinals Team”, the goal was to be complete by listing every former Cardinals major leaguer that suited up for any one of the other 29 major league clubs in 2008. With considerable assistance from Cardinals Best News Links’ Josh Jones, I was able to identify at least 41 such players.

I then selected my starting nine, noted in
bold below. I submit that only four, Placido Polanco, Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew and Dan Haren (pictured) would be starters if they were members of the 2009 Cardinals. Yet, only one of them left St. Louis as part of what I would now call a bad move.

With the benefit of hindsight, of the four, only Haren was a deal that I would not do today. Of course, he went to Oakland with two other players for
Mark Mulder prior to the 2005 season. Haren has all the makings of being a star for years to come.

The others ultimately worked out fine for the Cardinals, as Polanco was part of the price of
Scott Rolen. Rolen was once an All-Star, but was significantly outplayed in 2008 by Troy Glaus, who the Cardinals received in trade for him from Toronto.

Renteria went into a decline and didn’t earn his $40 million, while the Cards picked up 2006 World Series MVP
David Eckstein instead at about half the price plus got top organizational prospect, outfielder Colby Rasmus as part of the compensation for losing Edgar.

Drew went to Atlanta for just one season as the Cards received
Adam Wainwright as part of the take. Cardinals fans still thank you very much, John Schuerholz!

Including my other five “starters” in
bold below along with the remainder of the 41 names, there are few that would even make all that great of reserves on the 2009 Cardinals. In other words, the majority of the still-active players that have left St. Louis aren’t that badly missed.

Player Pos Yrs StL 2008 MLB
Infield Gary Bennett C 2006-7 Dodgers
Mike DiFelice C 1996-7,2002 Rays
Mark Sweeney 1B 1995-7 Dodgers
Dmitri Young 1B 1996-7 Nationals
Marlon Anderson 2B 2004 Mets
Ronnie Belliard 2B 2006 Nationals
Miguel Cairo 2B 2001-3,7 Mariners
Mark Grudzielanek 2B 2005 Royals
Placido Polanco 2B 1998-2002 Tigers
David Eckstein SS 2005-7 Blue Jays/Dbacks
Hector Luna SS 2004-6 Blue Jays
Edgar Renteria SS 1999-2004 Tigers
Russell Branyan 3B 2007 Brewers
Abraham Nunez 3B 2005 Mets
Scott Rolen 3B 2002-7 Blue Jays
Fernando Tatis 3B 1998-2000 Mets
Outfield J.D. Drew OF 1998-2003 RedSox
Jim Edmonds OF 2000-7 Cubs
So Taguchi OF 2002-7 Phillies
Starters Dan Haren SP 2003-4 Diamondbacks
Jason Marquis SP 2004-6 Cubs
Matt Morris SP 1997-2005 Pirates
Jamie Moyer SP 1991 Phillies
Anthony Reyes SP 2005-8 Cardinals/Indians
Sidney Ponson SP 2006 Rangers/Yankees
Jeff Suppan SP 2004-6 Brewers
Brett Tomko SP 2003 Royals/Padres
Kip Wells SP 2007 Rockies/Royals
Relievers Kiko Calero RP 2003-4 A’s
Brian Falkenborg RP 2006-7 Dodgers/Padres
Ray King RP 2004-5 Nationals
Mike Lincoln RP 2004 Reds
Kent Mercker RP 1998-9 Reds
Darren Oliver RP 1998-9 Angels
Troy Percival RP 2007 Rays
Al Reyes RP 2004-5 Rays
Ricardo Rincon RP 2006 Mets
Jorge Sosa RP 2006 Mets
Julian Tavarez RP 2004-5 Red Sox/Brewers/Braves
Mike Timlin RP 2000-2 Red Sox
Jamey Wright RP 2002 Rangers

Minor league losses

In addition to the 41 former Cardinals major leaguers above, another 15 ex-Cardinals minor leaguers appeared somewhere in the majors during the 2008 campaign.

We can’t quite field a full lineup from this group, as there is no third baseman, for example. In addition, the number of former minor league outfielders and starting pitchers that put on an MLB uniform last season is very small at two and one, respectively.

With the exception of
Jack Wilson and Coco Crisp, traded away almost a decade prior, eight and nine years ago respectively, there are no real impact players among this group. As such, any real damage the Cardinals caused by minor leaguers being traded away was initiated a long time ago.

For all the gnashing of teeth at the time over prospect
Daric Barton going to the A’s in the Mulder deal, to date Barton has arguably been as big of a disappointment in Oakland as Mulder was in St. Louis. As noted above, Haren was the big loss.

Player Pos Yrs StL Highest level 2008 MLB
Infield Robinson Cancel C 2005 Memphis Mets
Michel Hernandez C 2006 Memphis Rays
Danny Ardoin C 2007 Memphis Dodgers
Daric Barton 1B 2003-4 Peoria A’s
Edgar Gonzalez 2B 2007 Memphis Padres
Jolbert Cabrera 2B 2007 Memphis Reds
Jack Wilson SS 1998-2000 Arkansas Pirates
Outfield Coco Crisp OF 1999-2001 Potomac Red Sox
Emil Brown OF 2004 Memphis A’s
Pitchers Chris Lambert SP 2004-7 Memphis Tigers
Matt Ginter RP 2007 Memphis Indians
Joe Nelson RP 2005 Springfield Marlins
Vladimir Nunez RP 2005 Memphis Braves
Rich Rundles RP 2006 Springfield Indians
Les Walrond RP 1998-2003 Memphis Phillies

The newest ex-Cardinals

The final group presented is the new additions to the first list for 2009 – at least the ones that can find MLB jobs next season will be. This group of 15 players all saw action for the 2008 Cardinals (or were on the disabled list all year) but left the organization following the season.

Other than outfielders, of which there is only one,
Juan Encarnacion, a full lineup could be fielded from these departed 2008 Cardinals. One, Kelvin Jimenez, left via a waiver claim. Three, Rico Washington, Mark Johnson and Josh Phelps, became minor league free agents after they were also dropped from the 40-man roster. Two more, Aaron Miles and Tyler Johnson, were arbitration-eligible, but were non-tendered instead.

The other nine were granted free agency, of which six are pitchers, two are infielders and the last is outfielder Encarnacion, who suffered a career-ending eye injury late in the 2007 season.

Of the nine, it is most interesting to note that all six free agent pitchers are still looking for a place to play in 2009. The only two to have signed are the middle infielders
Felipe Lopez (Arizona) and shortstop Cesar Izturis (Baltimore). Non-tendered middle infield utilityman Miles also wasn’t out of work very long.

That seems to be a combination of a soft pitching market and the relative scarcity of decent middle infielders. Otherwise, it is pretty safe to say demand has been weak for the more recent group of departing Redbirds.

Player Pos 2009 organization
Infield Mark Johnson C Cubs
Josh Phelps 1B Giants
Aaron Miles 2B Cubs
Felipe Lopez 2B Dbacks
Cesar Izturis SS Orioles
Rico Washington 3B FA
Outfield Juan Encarnacion OF FA
Pitchers Braden Looper SP FA
Mark Mulder SP FA
Randy Flores RP FA
Jason Isringhausen RP FA
Kelvin Jimenez RP White Sox
Tyler Johnson RP FA
Russ Springer RP FA
Ron Villone RP FA

In conclusion

While there are a handful of still very fine players among the 71 ex-Cardinals organization players listed here, most are not difference-makers. Instead, for the vast majority, it is probably better both for them and the Cardinals that they are playing their future ball elsewhere.