The Cardinals could still win this thing. Indeed, as Buster Olney pointed out today, Cardinals teams have faced a 3-2 deficit in World Series play five times before this one and on four of those occasions they came back to win games 6 and 7. So, sure, it could happen.
If they do, however, where will they rate all time? Yes, every World Series winner is the undisputed champion of the baseball world — just like the guy who graduates last in his medical school class is still called “doctor” — but the teams are obviously of varying quality. The short series trumps what the long season tests and all of that. Today at the Platoon Advantage, Bill looks at the worst World Series champions of all time. I’d have to say the 2011 Cards would crack that list.
And it’s a neat list. Lots of transitional teams such as the 1959 Dodgers who were just their lovable Brooklyn days but not quite fully into their sleek, professional Los Angeles Dodgers days. We consider all of the Derek Jeter Yankees teams to be part of the same general dynasty, but the 2000 Yankees were definitely at the end of one phase of that existence and the beginning of another. There’s a wartime team on the list. A couple of flukes. These sorts of champs just happen when you meet up with them at an unusual time in baseball’s life.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.