Last week, I recapped the 2011 World Series, showing what happened to that roster in just a few years time. Today, we take a look at how that roster was created. Like I did with the current roster, I have created a visual to show how every member of that team was acquired.
Without the Adam Wainwright trade that traced back to Eli Marrero's drafting in 1993, this chart goes back only to the 1997 when Adam Kennedy was chosen by the Cardinals. This chart shows 38 total players compared to 42 on the present roster. Each chart has seven trades. There is one major trade present above that is already gone from the current roster.
In the middle of the 2011 season, the Cardinals traded Colby Rasmus along with Trever Miller and Brian Tallet for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski. The trade was not without controversy, perhaps still not without controversy. The Cardinals were giving up a young, talented center fielder with multiple years to go before free agency for a starter and a reliever with no control beyond the current season as well as a controlled, lefty reliever with varying opinion on his future.
The Cardinals World Series blunted much of the criticism, although claiming "the trade worked" perhaps goes a bit too far. Rasmus would go on to have some up and down seasons with Toronto before reaching free agency this offseason. Edwin Jackson would leave after the season to the Nationals and then the Cubs. Octavio Dotel moved on to the Tigers, and Marc Rzepczynski would be traded, but all contributed in 2011, Jon Jay took over in center field, and the Cardinals won the World Series.
Nine of the 25 players were acquired prior to or during the 2011 season. Of those nine players, only Furcal in 2012 made any meaningful contributions to the Cardinals after 2011. Like the current roster, free agency was not a big contributor to the Cardinals' roster. The Cardinals built through the draft and trades. The Cardinals system was lean on depth a decade ago, but Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina tend to cover up any deficiencies the Cardinals had at the time. The Cardinals have since built up their system, but have not yet produced a star on the level of Pujols (which is next to impossible) or Molina.
The 2011 team is likely to be one that will long live in the hearts of Cardinals' fans. The season was the last with Albert Pujols. Chris Carpenter carried the rotation for the final time, and their improbable run to the playoffs and the magical postseason created great memories. While many moves were made in the final year, the team was built over time. The Cardinals' set themselves up for a continued run as the aim to get to the NLCS five times in a row.