Things to recall from 2012

USA Today Sports

There was a lot of baseball played in 2012, but these are the things that will stick with me.

so, is this the time when we debate whether jake lemmerman or jr towles was the third most exciting acquisition of the off-season? I suppose a safer bet is our assistant hitting coach.

if you're hungry for cardinals media, Jenifer Langosch posted two pieces to run over the holiday: one a retrospective on the cardinals continued winning ways this season and a nice Q&A with Allen Craig.

I don't want to trample on what will surely be a few days of retrospective posts, so I'll give you a few non-comprehensive thoughts. What I'll look back on as memorable about the season would include a few things: the cardinals' exciting playoff run, especially as one of the two teams to use the second wild card slot; the continued success of the team after the departure of future hall-of-famers Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols; and the peak year from Yadier Molina following his extension.

As much trouble as I may give Matheny, one could hardly say that the boat was seriously rocked in terms of on-field play or tactics. If anything, there was probably too little innovation. But Tony La Russa (recent world champion Tony La Russa, no less) was always going to be a hard act to follow. Maybe we'll see more innovation down the line. In any event, I'll take the tactics of Tony La Russa without the sour disposition of Tony La Russa over the full La Russa package any day.

it's hard to complain about the departure of Albert Pujols, especially with a season's worth of hindsight. The Cardinals avoided paying top dollar for a great player in the downslope of his career. Instead, we can look forward to a host of young, exciting players. After one season of fine and mostly healthy performance from Allen Craig, which beat Pujols' numbers on most fronts, the departure hardly affected the Cardinals performance this season. I think John Mozeliak probably enjoys more respect for managing the contract negotiations as he did, as well as holding clearer rein with the franchise in the wake of La Russa's departure. Whether he blew all that good will by giving a multi year deal to Ty Wigginton remains to be seen.

I enjoyed the one-game playoff, though I remain somewhat skeptical of whether it's a good scheme overall. No one can deny that we made it memorable. And the world knows the ins and outs of the infield fly rule better for our appearance.

For the second year in a row, the Cardinals turned in one of the most exciting game 5s in Division Series history, against the team that won the NL East. Last year, it was a historic pitchers' duel. This year it was a bizarre slugfest, capped by unexpected contributions from the cardinals' (literally and figuratively) homely infield.

last, after experiencing some anxiety about the Molina contract's length and value, it was very reassuring to see yadier put forth his best season ever. He merited serious MVP consideration, although I think Posey had a very compelling case to win. Even if he never outdoes his 2012 performance, Molina has a more reassuring likely decline curve than I would have predicted 12 months ago. And Yadier still looks like a defensive expert behind the plate. Not since Ozzie Smith have the Cardinals held on to such a dominant, historically great defender for so long at one position. He's an exciting player and we should enjoy our opportunity to watch a historic talent while we can.

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