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Anatomy of 2011 Champions

The Cardinals didn't look like the best team in baseball over the course of the regular season, but they more than earned their stripes from September onward. Even though the team came on, almost out of nowhere in the final month, it wasn't built overnight. Any champion is built on the foundation of several sage moves over several years. Here, in chronological order, is how St. Louis acquired every player on their postseason roster:

  • June 2, 1999 - Drafted 1B Albert Pujols in the 13th round of the amateur draft
  • June 5, 2000 - Drafted C Yadier Molina in the 4th round of the amateur draft
  • June 5, 2001 - Drafted 2B/OF Skip Schumaker in the 5th round of the amateur draft
  • December 13, 2002 - Signed RHP Chris Carpenter as a free agent. Re-signed as a free agent December 2, 2003
  • June 3, 2003 - Drafted RHP Jason Motte in the 19th round of the amateur draft
  • June 7, 2005 - Drafted RHP Mitchell Boggs in the 5th round of the amateur draft
  • June 7, 2005 - Drafted RHP Jamie Garcia in the 22nd round of the amateur draft
  • June 6, 2006 - Drafted OF Jon Jay in the 2nd round of the amateur draft
  • June 6, 2006 - Drafted OF Allen Craig in the 8th round of the amateur draft
  • April 5, 2007 - Purchased the contract of RHP Fernando Salas from Saltillo (Mexican League)
  • June 7, 2007 - Drafted 3B Daniel Descalso in the 3rd round of the amateur draft
  • June 7, 2007 - Drafted OF Adron Chambers in the 38th round of the amateur draft
  • December 14, 2007 - Acquired 3B David Freese from the Padres for CF Jim Edmonds 
  • March 13, 2008 - Signed RHP Kyle Lohse as a free agent
  • June 5, 2008 - Drafted RHP Lance Lynn in the 1st round of the amateur draft
  • July 24, 2009 - Acquired LF Matt Holliday from the Athletics for RHP Clayton Mortensen, OF Shane Peterson, and 1B Brett Wallace. Holliday re-signed as a free agent January 5, 2010.
  • July 31, 2010 - Acquired RHP Jake Westbrook as part of a three-team trade with the Indians and Padres. The Cardinals sent OF Ryan Ludwick to the Padres, and also acquired LHP Nick Greenwood from the Padres in the deal. Westbook re-signed as a free agent November 16, 2010.
  • November 30, 2010 - Acquired 2B/SS Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers for RHP Blake Hawksworth 
  • December 4, 2010 - Signed RF Lance Berkman as a free agent
  • December 14, 2010 - Signed C Gerald Laird as a free agent
  • January 21, 2011 - Signed INF Nick Punto as a free agent
  • July 27, 2011 - Acquired RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Octavio Dotel, and LHP Mark Rzepczynski (as well as OF Corey Patterson, who was not on the World Series roster) from the Blue Jays for LHP Trever Miller, OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Brian Tallet, and RHP P.J. Walters
  • July 31, 2011 - Acquired SS Rafael Furcal, along with cash considerations, from the Dodgers for OF Alex Castellanos
  • August 11, 2011 - Signed LHP Arthur Rhodes as a free agent

A couple things stick out to me about this acquisition timeline. First of all, the roster featured only one international signing, Fernando Salas. That's interesting, given how global the game has become.

The second thing that sticks out to me is tethered to the lack of international signings: if I had to describe the traditional way to build a baseball team, I'd submit this timeline right here. There are lots of draft picks on the roster, a few free agent acquisitions to support the core, and a few pivotal trades that changed the complexion of the team.

In total, it took the Cardinals over 12 years to acquire each player on their World Series roster. Teams can turn around quickly, but there is something to be said for patience and drafting well.