photo: Andrew Knizner (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
The St. Louis Cardinals removed a total of seven players from the 40-man roster last week, adding three others and creating four openings. Popular reserve catcher Andrew Knizner was among those non-tendered. Our history feature revisits the Cardinals of 2000-2004.
Cardinals non-tender four players
The non-tender deadline arrived on Friday, and the St. Louis Cardinals did not tender contracts to four players. They are Dakota Hudson, Jake Woodford, Andrew Knizner, and Juan Yepez. The 40-man roster has been reduced to 36.
The departures of pitchers Hudson and Woodford were expected. Reports on Friday had the Cardinals attempting to trade Hudson. Obviously, they were unsuccessful. Hudson was the first-round pick of the Cardinals in the 2016 draft. The right hander’s best season was in 2019 when he posted a record of 16-7 with an ERA of 2.77. He had Tommy John surgery in September of 2020 and was out for most of the 2021 season. Hudson spent part of 2023 in Triple-A and never regained his early promise.
Woodford was also a first-round selection of the Cardinals from the 2015 draft. The right-hander made his debut in 2020. Woodford never made a foothold in the major leagues and pitched only 184 innings over four seasons. He spent most of those four seasons in Triple-A.
The non-tenders of Knizner and Yepez surprised many. Yepez was up and down during the last two seasons and his performance was mixed. He was a poor defender but had some promise with the bat. There was some chatter that Yepez could be a trade chip during the offseason. In 28 MLB games in 2023, Yepez slashed .183/.246/.300. He had a better 2022 season, with a slash line of .253/.296/.447 with 12 home runs.
Knizner’s popularity in the clubhouse was well known. However, the emergence of Ivan Herrera coupled with Knizner’s increasing salary, made the latter expendable. Knizner had flashes of good performance at the plate, but never put it together consistently. In five seasons with the Cardinals, Knizner slashed .216/.290/.331 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI.
With Knizner gone, Herrera will likely be the primary backup catcher to Willson Contreras. The Cardinals also added catcher Pedro Pages to the 40-man roster as insurance.
News and Notes for the Cardinals offseason
This section will feature offseason news items each week that do not require extensive coverage.
- One of the Cardinals possible starting pitching targets is off the market. Aaron Nola is re-signing with the Phillies, as reported by multiple sources on Sunday. The deal is reported to be for seven years and $172 million.
POBO John Mozeliak told Tom Ackerman of KMOX on his Sunday morning show that Nola’s agent called him (Mozeliak) and told him that Nola preferred to return to Philadelphia. Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch tweeted that the Cardinals had not made on offer to Nola prior to his signing with the Phillies.
- The annual Cardinals Winter Warm-Up is scheduled for January 13- 15, 2024. Details can be found at com/WWU.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
- While one of the starting pitching targets (Aaron Nola) is now off the market, the Cardinals remain in the hunt for multiple starters. The team has been linked previously to Sonny Gray and Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They have also expressed interest in a reunion with free agent Jordan Montgomery.
It is interesting to note that Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar and Yamamoto were teammates on the Japanese World Baseball Classic team. Multiple people on Twitter posted links to the Instagram accounts of Yamamoto and Nootbaar showing a video of the two playing golf together on Friday.
It has been reported that Yamamoto is expected to receive a contract as high as $200 million on the free agent market. It is unclear whether the usually reticent Cardinals are willing to make a commitment at that level.
- Another pitcher in whom the Cardinals have expressed interest is Sonny Gray. Following the announcement that Nola had signed with the Phillies, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted that the Atlanta Braves are now considered one of the top suitors for Gray.
The Braves are one of a number of teams looking for starting pitching this offseason. The Cardinals are competing in a tough market and must be vigilant and aggressive if they hope to land any of the better starters available.
In preparation for next month’s Rule 5 draft, the Cardinals protected three players, while moving three others off the 40-man roster.
- 11/13 The Cardinals sent RHP Wilking Rodriguez outright to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 11/14 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Sem Robberse from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 11/14 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Adam Kloffenstein from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 11/14 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Pedro Pagés from the Springfield Cardinals.
- 11/14 The Cardinals sent LHP Packy Naughton outright to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 11/14 The Cardinals designated LHP Connor Thomas for assignment.
- 11/16 The Cardinals sent LHP Connor Thomas outright to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 11/17 The Cardinals non-tendered RHP Jake Woodford and he elected free agency.
- 11/17 The Cardinals non-tendered C Andrew Knizner and he elected to free agency.
- 11/17 The Cardinals non-tendered 1B Juan Yepez and he elected free agency.
- 11/17 The Cardinals non-tendered RHP Dakota Hudson and he elected free agency.
There are no new injuries to report.
The exclusive negotiating window for teams to negotiate with their free agents has passed. Free agents may now negotiate and sign with any other team.
The tender deadline has passed. The Cardinals did not tender contracts to four players. They are RHP Dakota Hudson, RHP Jake Woodford, C Andrew Knizner, and 1B/OF Juan Yepez. All four players are now free agents. The 40-man roster has been reduced to 36.
The 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released on November 20. The Contemporary Era Non-Players Committee results will be announced on December 1. One former Cardinal, Bill White, is a nominee for his work as an executive and broadcaster.
The Winter Meetings are scheduled for December 3-6 in Nashville. The Winter Meetings are when the rate of offseason transactions generally pick up.
On December 5, the 2024 draft lottery will take place. The Cardinals finished the season with a 71-91 record. Based on lottery odds, the Cardinals have an 8.3% chance of getting the first pick, which is the fifth best odds. There are 17 teams eligible for the lottery, all non-playoff teams.
The Cardinals have never had the top selection in the draft. The highest they have ever picked is third.
The annual Rule 5 draft will be held at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, on December 6.
Blast from the Past
The Cardinals did not make the postseason in 2023. The reasons for that have already been hashed over and the historically bad season analyzed in every quarter. Now that the year is history, the Blast from the Past will make a U-turn, and rather than bemoan the lost season, will celebrate those years in which the Cardinals did play in October.
This series is looking at the Cardinals in the postseason by decade. The period from 1900-1920 was a tough two decades for the St. Louis franchise. It wasn’t until Sam Breadon purchased the Cardinals in 1917 that they began the ascent into the successful franchise it is today.
From 1920 until the present, the Cardinals made the postseason 32 times. In only two decades since did they not made a single postseason appearance, the 1950s and the 1970s. In all other decades but one they have gone to the postseason multiple times.
The seventh installment in this series looks at the period of 2000-2004. By this time, the postseason was set at three levels, the Division Series, the Championship Series, and the World Series. The Wild Card, one per league, was introduced in 1994.
The Cardinals went to the postseason in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004. They made it to the World Series only once, in 2004, and lost.
In the 2000 season, the Cardinals were owned by Bill DeWitt Jr. The GM was Walt Jocketty. The manager was Tony La Russa.
The 2000 Cardinals finished in first place in the NL Central, 10 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. Their record was 95-67.
The only future Hall of Famer on the 2000 team was La Russa.
The 2000 Cardinals played the Atlanta Braves in the 2000 Division Series. They swept the Braves 3-0.
The 2000 team advanced to the Championship Series against the New York Mets, who was the NL Wild Card team. The Mets had defeated the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series.
The Cardinals lost the series to the Mets 4-1. The only game the Cardinals won was Game 3 at Shea Stadium.
The Cardinals next went to the postseason in 2001. The 2001 team had the same owner, GM and manager as the 2000 team.
The 2001 Cardinals were the NL Wild Card team in 2001. They finished in a tie with the Houston Astros. The Astros were awarded the Division title because they had a 9-7 head-to-head season record over the Cardinals.
The 2001 Cardinals’ record was 93-69. They and the Astros were five games ahead of the Cubs.
Once again, the only future Hall of Famer on the 2001 team was La Russa. The 2001 season marked the MLB debut of Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals lost the 2001 Division Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2. The Diamondbacks went on to defeat the Yankees in the World Series.
The Cardinals won Games 2 and 4, the latter at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinal went to the postseason for the third year in a row in 2002. The owner, GM and manager were the same.
The 2002 Cardinals finished in first place in the NL Central with a record of 97-65. They finished 13 games ahead of the Astros.
In 2002, future Hall of Famers were La Russa and Scott Rolen. 2002 was a tragic year for the Cardinals, as both Jack Buck and pitcher Darryl Kile passed away. Kile’s death was due to a sudden heart attack in his hotel room in Chicago, prior to a game against the Cubs.
The Cardinals turned the tables on the reigning World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002, sweeping them in the Division Series.
The 2002 Cardinals advanced to the Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants but lost 4-1. The Cardinals won Game 3 in San Francisco.
The Cardinals did not go to the postseason in 2003 but returned in 2004. The owner, GM and manager were the same.
The 2004 Cardinals season mirrored their 2002. They finished in first place in the NL Central, 13 games ahead of the Astros. The record was better than in 2002, as they finished 105-57.
2004 future Hall of Famers were La Russa, Rolen and Larry Walker. Walker had been traded to the Cardinals in August 2004 from the Colorado Rockies. Also expected to become Hall of Famers are Pujols and then-rookie Yadier Molina.
The 2004 Cardinals first played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The Cardinals won 3-1. They advanced to the NLCS against the Astros (the NL Wild Card) and beat them 4-3.
The 2004 Cardinals next went to the World Series for the first time since 1987. Unfortunately, it was a disaster, as the Cardinals were swept by the AL Wild Card Boston Red Sox.
It was the first World Series title for the Red Sox since 1918. The Red Sox’ long drought was purported to be the result of the “Curse of the Bambino”, which was broken by the poor play of the 2004 Cardinals. The 105-game-winning Cardinals did not lead in any game of the series.
The next installment of this series will cover the period 2005-2011. This period included four trips to the postseason and two World Series titles.
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