St. Louis Cardinals 2013 Season in Review: Top Five Stories

2013 was another great year for the our beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Despite facing an incredible amount of adversity, they were still just two wins away from their 12th World Series title. Well, as part of our end-of-the-year project for the United Cardinal Bloggers, this post will be dedicated to bringing you my top five stories of 2013. Here we go:

stltoday.com

stltoday.com

5. The Emergence of Rookie Pitchers. Jason Motte went down before the season. Jaime Garcia required season-ending surgery after a handful of starts. Jake Westbrook pitched injured for much of the season.

Rookies–Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Michael Wacha, Seth Maness, and Carlos Martinez–became key contributors to the pitching staff. Throughout 2013, other rookies–Tyler Lyons, Keith ButlerJohn Gast, Sam Freeman, and Michael Blazek–had roles of their own as well. Considering only one of the 10 listed were traded (Blazek), fans can expect much from this group in 2014.
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Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

4. Matt Carpenter‘s Breakout Season. Carpenter filled two glaring team-needs in 2013 by taking over as the everyday second baseman and leadoff hitter. According to Fangraphs, he had the third highest WAR in the National League at 7.0. He made his first All-Star team and finished fourth in NL MVP voting.

With David Freese now in Los Angeles, Carpenter will return to his natural position at third base. Ideally, by the end of the 2014, this doubles machine will be moved down to the two-spot in the lineup, but that will be a direct result of the performances of Kolten Wong and Peter Bourjos.
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Photo Credit: USATSI

Photo Credit: USATSI

3. Yadier Molina‘s Brilliance was Ever Present. As I stated in story #5, the pitching staff was largely dominated by rookies. It is hard to fathom how 2013 would have gone without Molina’s presence behind the plate. He was a calming presence for the young arms and was the mentor they needed to get through the long, grueling season.

Molina remained one of the best defensive catchers in the league–winning his sixth straight Gold Glove Award. His offense picked up yet again–leading to a .319/.359/.477 slash line. Putting all of 2013 together, Molina finished third in NL MVP voting and moved one step closer to being known as one of the best catchers to ever play.
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Photo Credit: AFP

Photo Credit: AFP

2. The Cardinals Win the Pennant! The Cardinals Win the Pennant! The Pittsburgh Pirates were the “sexy” pick by the national media to win the National League in 2013. However, Wacha and Adam Wainwright had other plans–allowing just two total runs in Games 4 and 5 of the NLDS.

They moved on to face the big bad, $220+ million-payroll Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. They won the series in six games with two wins from Lance Lynn and two wins from Wacha over the best pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw.

They ended up losing the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in six games, but for the purpose of this post, let’s just focus on the positives.
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1. Stan Musial. On January 19, 2013, the greatest Cardinal to ever live passed away. I would love to write a paragraph embracing just what Stan meant to the Cardinals and the city of St. Louis, but I really could not do him justice.

However, the lovely ladies over at Aaron Miles‘ Fastball constructed the perfect post to check out because it contains links to article from across the Web about The Man.

Thank you, Stan Musial. I may not have been able to see you play, but your impact on the Cardinals and the city of St. Louis will last forever. Because of this, I feel like Stan was the only choice for the #1 spot on my list.

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe or Facebook: stlCupofJoe’s Sports Page

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The Year of Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals Get 6 All-Stars

Photo Credit: sportslogos.net

Photo Credit: sportslogos.net

We all know that Stan Musial did incredible things on and off the field during his lifetime, but based on the way this year’s All-Star rosters panned out, it seems as if he is still having an impact on his beloved, St. Louis Cardinals.

When the All-Star rosters were announced, St. Louis had two starters and three bench players. Yadier Molina was voted in as the starting catcher over defending league MVP, Buster Posey. Carlos Beltran collected enough votes to be the starting right fielder for the National League.

Bruce Bochy, the National League manager, chose Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright to round out his roster. Most teams would be thrilled to have such an impressive representation in the All-Star game, but I knew something was just a little off about having five players this year (and no, this is not a stab at Albert Pujols).

2013 has been dedicated to Stan “The Man” Musial. This is shown each and every game by the #6 patches that adorn the sleeves of the Cardinals jerseys. Five players in the All-Star Game was nice, but that was not the right number given the circumstances of this season. The team needed six players this season, and it could be seen as another tribute to The Man.

When manager, Mike Matheny, decided to manipulate the rotation a week before the All-Star break to give Wainwright the opportunity to pitch twice, it set up perfectly for the Cardinals to get their sixth man added to the team. However, there were no guarantees because it was all left up to Bochy to name the All-Star replacements. Would he even be interested in putting another Cardinals player into Wainwright’s open spot?

Well, Wainwright did a really good job at campaigning for Mujica to take his spot. He was very straightforward in saying, “If my spot can go to a guy who’s not on the roster, preferably on this team named Mujica, I would like to see that happen. Of course, I want to pitch in the game. But I don’t want to be a liability in any way. If I have a pitch count of 12 pitches in an inning … I want to see a guy who really deserves to be there go and get a chance to pitch.”

His proposal was accepted by Bochy, and during his outing on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, it was made official that Mujica was named to take his spot–the sixth Cardinal on the National League All-Star roster. Could Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, or even Lance Lynn also made the team? Each one could make their own case, but that just was not going to work this year. The Cardinals had their six, and I am sure that is exactly how Stan would want it.

A Quick Video Tribute to Stan

One will never forget this legendary home run hit by The Man 58 years ago. Just two years ago, this 12th inning walk-off home run by Musial was voted as the top moment in All-Star Game history.

Good luck to the team’s representatives as they take on the American League for the rights to home-field advantage in the World Series. It would only be fitting if Craig (or AC Hammer as I like to call him) or Carpenter could hit a walk-off home run just like Stan did back in 1955.

Photo Credit: Carlos  Beltran's Twitter

Photo Credit: Carlos Beltran‘s Twitter

Above is a picture of the six Cardinals representatives on the plane that took them to New York for the All-Star festivities. Notice that Mujica has started a trend with his hand gesture that he describes as “the Cardinal” based on its shape.

UPDATE: The American League won the game, 3-0. Molina and Carpenter both went 0 for 2 in the game. Beltran went 1 for 2 with a single, and Craig lined out to left off of the great Mariano Rivera.

Thus, the Cardinals’ quest for a 12th World Series title will have to come through an American League stadium. Good thing the Cardinals are 30-20 on the road this season.

Until next time…

Joe (@stlCupOfJoe)