ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Player Development and Depth Make the Cardinals Major League Baseball's Model Organization

Updated on March 20, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals 2014

Will Oscar Tavares be the next player to provide quality depth for the Cards?
Will Oscar Tavares be the next player to provide quality depth for the Cards? | Source

Replacing retiring pitchers

This offseason, the Cardinals got the news that two of their starting pitchers were going to retire. Chris Carpenter had been the longtime ace of the Cardinals, and Jake Westbrook had been a fixture in the middle of the Cardinals rotation for the past few seasons. This news did not create panic in St. Louis, among either management or the fan base though. The Cardinals had been preparing for the retirement of these pitchers, for quite some time. Over the years, and most notably in 2009, the Cardinals have drafted very well. However, it is not good enough to just draft good players in Major League Baseball, because after they are drafted, amateur talent needs to be developed. Over the past two decades, the Cardinals have done an exceptional job of drafting and developing talent. As a result of this, when two key pitchers retired from the Cardinals this past offseason, they had three young pitchers ready to step in and take their places.

Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez

Michael Wacha was a first round pick for the Cardinals in 2012, and he was in the big leagues for them by late 2013. Wacha was able to step into the rotation last season when Westbrook went down, and his talent allowed him to become a postseason hero for the Cardinals in a trip to the World Series. Twenty-five year old Joe Kelly has been solid for the Cardinals the past two seasons, since his debut as a rookie in 2012. He has appeared in relief 30 times, and made 31 starts over the past two seasons, with very nice results. Kelly throws hard, and has solid off-speed pitches to complement his fastball, so the solid results are not surprising. Despite Kelly's solid season in 2013 though, he is not guaranteed a rotation spot with the 2014 Cardinals.

Kelly faces competition from rookie phenom, Carlos Martinez, who made one start last season, but pitched mostly in relief after a late season debut. Martinez is younger than Kelly at 22 years old, but he is similar in size at six feet tall, and has a similar pitch repertoire with his great fastball. Carlos Martinez was signed by the Cardinals in 2010, out of the Dominican Republic and Joe Kelly was one of the significant draft picks that the Cardinals made in their outstanding draft of 2009. Joe Kelly was a third round pick in 2009, but the excellent development system of the Cardinals, allowed him to be in the big leagues in 2013, producing at an excellent rate. Kelly was able to win 10 games in 2013, while posting an earned runs average of 2.69, which makes him strong evidence in support of claims that the Cardinals have a great player development system. As a result of their strong development system, the Cardinals are able to re-tool, rather than rebuild when pitchers like Carpenter and Westbrook retire.

2006 Title Team vs. the 2011 Title Team

The St. Louis Cardinals won two World Series, that were separated by just five years. Many sports fans may think that it was possibly similar core groups that won those titles for the Cardinals. The reality is that among the Cardinals' starting position players, only Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, played in both of those World Series. While some of the fixtures on the pitching staffs remained the same, the Cardinals were able to re-tool most of their lineup and defensive alignment from 2006 to 2011, with the same championship result. The secondary stars behind Pujols, in the 2006 championship, were Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion. In 2011, Pujols had some big games, but it was third basemen David Freese and outfielder Allen Craig who provided most of the highlights in the postseason for the Cards that year. Matt Holliday was a big name that was a key contributor for the Cardinals in 2011, but when homegrown talent like Craig and Freese, can lead the team to a championship, it is very positive for the organization's player development staff.

Beyond the 2011 Championship

In 2012 the Cardinals had to move forward after losing Albert Pujols in the offseason, but they were up for the challenge as they returned to the postseason that year. The Cardinals were one win away from returning to the World Series in 2012, but they ultimately fell short. This type of consistency and success, is not sustainable without depth and player development though. The 2012 team moved on from Albert Pujols with Lance Berkman playing first base and Carlos Beltran in right field, but without the further emergence of Allen Craig, none of their success would have been possible. Both Berkman and Craig had good seasons for the Cardinals in 2012, but as older players, they missed some time. Allen Craig having the talent and versatility to produce at the plate and play strong defense at both first base and right field, made a huge difference for the Cardinals during the 2012 season. In fewer than 500 at bats, playing multiple positions, Craig was able to produce 22 homeruns and 92 RBI in 2012.

Craig's performance in 2012, earned him the starting job at first base, after Lance Berkman moved on in free agency going into the 2013 season. Craig went on to have a very successful season in 2013, but he suffered an injury late last season. This was no problem for the St. Louis Cardinals though, because they just turned to depth player Matt Adams, to be their starting first basemen. Adams produced at a very strong rate, with 17 homeruns and 51 RBI in fewer than 300 at bats. Now that Carlos Beltran has left as a free agent, the Cardinals will once again turn to their depth in Matt Adams as their starting first basemen. This will leave right field open for Allen Craig to make his defensive home for now, but should an injury happen to either Adams or Craig, the Cardinals have top prospect Oscar Tavares waiting to make his debut. Tavares as an outfielder, has less defensive flexibility when compared to Allen Craig, but having three players for two positions, once against leaves the Cardinals with impressive depth.

Conclusion

While the Cardinals may not always have a player ready at every position, their farm system has produced impressive talent in timely fashion over the past few years. The Cardinals player development does not just specialize in pitching or offense, but their ability to produce both over the years has paid off. Going forward, the Cardinals will always be one of the teams that is best able to overcome injuries, because of the quality depth that they have developed over the years. This is why the Cardinals are currently the model organization in Major League Baseball.

Sources:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/roster.php?y=2006&t=SLN

http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/31340/carlos-Martinez

http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/31359/matt-adams

http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/30399/allen-craig

http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/31992/joe-kelly

http://baseballnewssource.com/prospects/cardinals-oscar-taveras-set-to-be-next-best-thing-in-baseball/26583/


St. Louis Cardinals 2014

Are the Cardinals Major LeagueBaseball's model organization?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)