2011 a year in review: Cardinal edition
With today being the last day of the year, I felt it necessary to take a look back at the year 2011 in baseball, and a month by month recap of the magical 2011 Cardinals season. As we end 2011, we look ahead with high hopes for 2012, the Cardinals have a new manager, a lot of talented players, and a little fire in their belly after losing their superstar first baseman in free agency, the Cardinals have a serious shot at winning the World Series again and defending their title. Now here is a look at the year 2011 in baseball:
The Cardinals made a few minor moves in the month of January where they signed Miguel Batista and Ian Snell to minor league deals. As well as making their last major signing of the year where they signed Nick Punto to a one year deal worth around 750K. Batista went on to be a walk machine and was ultimatley released from the Cardinals shortly after the release of Ryan Franklin. Ian Snell retired after having a poor spring training, though he reinstated himself a few months later to become a free agent. Nick Punto on the other hand would become one of TLR’s favorite little pets, but he battled injuries all year and played in only 63 games for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals surprised nearly everyone when they signed Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal. Edmonds who is one of our STL Cardinal baseball legends(Read about what we have to say about him here) had challenged TLR and the Cardinals to sign him back in 2010, he claimed he would take the league minimum to play for the Cardinals, they were not interested and he ended up playing the 2010 season with NL Central rival the Milwaukee Brewers and ended the season on the DL with the Reds. However shortly after his signing, Edmonds announced his retirement and hatred of the Reds coaching staff where he blasted them for causing him to stay unhealthy and unable to play. Edmonds retired on February 18th, just two weeks after signing his deal. The Cardinals also made one more minor move signing Ramon Vasquez to a minor league deal, Vasquez would never play a game with the Cardinals in 2011. The biggest news of the year arguably occurred in February when Adam Wainwright was shut down for the year after requiring Tommy John surgery, this news hurt the Cardinals chances and many predicted the Cardinals to fall to third or even fourth place in the NL Central. Wainwright’s injury occurred on February 24th.
In the midst of Spring training, a battle was brewing for the fifth spot in the rotation after the injury to Adam Wainwright shut him down for the year. It was here that former reliver Kyle McClellan was blowing the competition out of the water, McClellan posted a .078 ERA in five starts winning 4 games and losing zero. McClellan was awarded the fifth starters role which he kept nearly all year until the Cardinals acquired Edwin Jackson later in the year. Another story that took place during Spring training was the rising star in Matt Carpenter a virtually unknown third baseman who won the minor league player of the year a year ago with the Memphis Redbirds. Carpenter made a valuable case for being called up and he made it to the final cut where he was sent down to make room for Daniel Descalso. Carpenter would later be called up and he struggled immensely he posted a .067 AVG before being sent down for the remainder of the year. Some other notable moves on the opening day roster was that the Cardinals left off Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez and instead had Bryan Augenstein and Brian Tallet on the roster. On March 22nd the Cardinals put Nick Punto on the DL for a sports hernia that kept him out for the first month of the season. On Opening day which was March 31st, the Cardinals lost after leading 3-2, headed to the ninth inning, Ryan Franklin came in and blew his first save of the year, as the Cardinals fell 5-3 in extra innings, causing many fans to become outraged at their former All Star closer.
Matt Holliday was expected to miss a long stretch of time after requiring an appendectomy, he only missed seven games and was able to heal fast. The Cardinals started off really cool going only 2-6, causing TLR to go on an outrage in a press conference in which he was constantly badgered about the lack of offense, he was right when he said it was the first week of the season, the Cardinals ended up having the NL’s best offense. Lance Berkman came on hot in a hurry, he won the NL player of the week award in which he went 10-24 batting .417, and blasting 6 HR, and 12 RBI’s showing everyone he still had it. Also injuries to Bryan Augenstein and Brian Tallet which ultimately turned out to be one of the best things to happen, the Cardinals brought up Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas both of whom were real threats out of the bullpen and both spent time in the closer’s role.
On the first day of May, David Freese was struck in the hand by a pitch causing him to miss over a month with a fractured bone in his hand. Freese’s absence in the lineup was huge, but the Cardinals had a reliable back up in the young rookie Daniel Descalso who showed that his glove and clutch hitting were very valuable and gave him the nickname “D-Money.” Jaime Garcia was nearly perfect pitching 7 and 1/3 perfect innings in which he ended the game with a two hit shoutout which was his second of the year. May also brought us TLR’s shingles, he ended up missing 6 games due to the illness and many of us will remember how disgusting and vile he looked like and are scarred forever. The Cardinals had a strong May in which they went 17-12 leading the NL Central by 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Albert Pujols who had been struggling all season blasted five homers in a weeks span getting him the player of the month honors. But things were headed in a downward spiral for the Cardinals as Eduardo Sanchez was sent to the 60 day DL and Pujols was headed to the DL expected to miss atleast six weeks the machine proved that he was superhuman by missing the exact 15 days before being activated in a very questionable move by the Cardinals. The Cardinals finally proved they cared more about winning than loyalty when they released former all star closer Ryan Franklin and Miguel Batista in what would start the revolution of revamping the bullpen. At the end of June the team was 44-38 in which they were down one game by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Three Cardinals were named All Stars Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina, and Matt Holliday. Trade rumors swirled non-stop after the feud between TLR and Colby Rasmus had began again. Rasmus’s slump and lousy play had caused fans and the team alike to be angered at their former number one prospect and fans were eager to see Jon Jay take over after he became red hot. After denial after denial from GM John Mozeliak the Cardinals finally pulled off a deal which at first seemed to be awful but turned out to be a genius move by the Cardinals, Mozeliak traded Rasmus, Trever Miller, PJ Walters, and the injured Brian Tallet to the Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Corey Patterson. All of whom were crucial to the Cardinals world series run except for Corey Patterson who was left off of the post season roster entirely. Two days after the trade Albert Pujols got his 2,000th hit becoming only the fifth Cardinal to have 2,000 hits as a Cardinal joining Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Enos Slaughter, and Rogers Hornsby. On the trade deadline the Cardinals made another crucial move trading minor league outfielder Alex Castellanos for LA Dodgers short stop Rafael Furcal, Furcal’s glove and leadership helped lead the team to the World Series.
The Cardinals signed veteran left handed pitcher Arthur Rhodes after the Texas Rangers had released him. Rhodes was not very effective as a Cardinal but he did help solidify the new and improved bullpen. The Cardinals ended August with a 67-63 record, they were 10 games out of first and had a 4.3% chance at reaching the post season. Many fans were angered with TLR after he constantly made bad moves including pulling Carpenter when he was 2 outs away from a shutout, the bullpen blew that game. The STL Cardinal baseball staff, wrote an article proclaiming the Cardinals should fire TLR and hire Mike Matheny, though he was not fired Matheny would later be named the manager after TLR retired.
The miracle all began in September the Cardinals were 10.5 games out of the wild card with seemingly no hope to getting to the post season. However the Braves had other plans, they were losing game after game and their once strong bullpen was crumbling while the Cardinals were hitting lucky stride after lucky stride. It all came to the last game of the season, the Cardinals were tied for the wild card and they needed a win and a Braves loss. They handed the ball to Chris Carpenter against the Astros, Carpenter showed how much he wanted it and shut out the Astros and the Cardinals were then tied for the wild card even if the Braves won their hopes would still continue to a one game playoff, however this was not necessary, the Braves who were leading going into the ninth blew the save and eventually lost in extras after a Hunter Pence RBI single. The Cardinals had proved everyone wrong and had made the greatest comeback in the history of the NL. The Cardinals signed extensions with Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman marking one of their signatures of September extensions. Lance Berkman was named NL Comeback Player of the year after surprising all of the baseball world.
The Cardinals were down in the NLDS and won a huge game thanks to the help of a little squirrel, sending the series to a game 5 at Philadelphia. This game would feature Aces Roy Hallady and Chris Carpenter, the two are best friends and were former teammates in Toronto and this game was one of the most hyped games in a long time. Carpenter proved to be a mad man where he looked unstoppable pitching a shutout and the Cardinals won 1-0 sending the Cardinals to the NLCS against their rivals the Brewers. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers in six games after an intense series with a lot of home runs and the Cardinals bullpen thriving. David Freese won the NLCS MVP and as you all know by now he would lead the team once again in the World Series along with Allen Craig, Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, and the bullpen. The Cardinals won the World Series in seven games after a magical comeback in Game 6 of the World Series where the Rangers were just one strike away from winning it all, David Freese tied the game with a two RBI triple and Lance Berkman did similar in the tenth, and eventually Freese would hit a walk off home run sending the game to Game 7, where Carpenter pitched effectively and the Cardinals won their eleventh World Series in their teams established history.
Albert Pujols became a free agent for his first time in his established career. Tony La Russa retired after 16 years with the Cardinals and the Cardinals had a huge list of candidates including Ryne Sandberg, Terry Francona, Jim Riggleman, Chris Maloney, Jose Oquendo, but the eventual winner was former catcher and STL Cardinal favorite Mike Matheny. Yadier Molina won his fourth straight gold glove award which was the only award the Cardinals would take home as TLR (MOY) and Berkman (SS)were snubbed from their respective categories.
The Cardinals had to say good bye to Albert Pujols as he signed a ten year 254 million dollar deal with the LA Angels. Don’t worry he was not signing because of the money no but because of God, God told him to sign with the Angels, go figure. To deal with the back lash of Pujols signing, the Cardinals re-signed Rafael Furcal to a two year 14 million dollar deal and their biggest signing to a player outside of the organization since Jason Isringhausen when they signed Carlos Beltran to a two year 26 million dollar deal.
Have a happy and safe new year everyone and thank you all for reading, we really appreciate it. This has been one of the best years in baseball for the Cardinals and what a year to start the web site. I hope we can continue our success and who knows maybe 2012 will bring us another World Series trophy.