I am definitely the type of person that loves these all-time team things. Call me a sucker, but hey, I like to pay my respects to the great ones, and sometimes it's fun to take a step back and admire all the talent that you've watched over the years.
I was born in 1988, and didn't start really understand sports until 1995 or so. It kinda annoys and frustrates me to talk about players that I never got to see play, because I feel that there is so much intangible impact that a player can have on his team.
So with that sad, I'm going to create my St. Louis Cardinals All-Time Team from players that I have personally watched play. Hopefully fans will see this list and fondly remember (or hate) players from these classic Redbird clubs.
(Player, Best Stats w/ Club)
-Catcher: Yadier Molina, .309, four HR, 41 RBI (through only 96 games this year)
Let's be honest. There hasn't been really any offensive skill at the catcher position for the Cards in the last 20 years or so. But Tom Pagnozzi, Mike Matheny, and now Molina all follow the same creed: great knowledge, handling of pitchers, and defense.
Yadier has improved dramatically as a hitter, and is still a fairly young player. And anybody who knows anything about baseball also knows that Yadi has a straight CANNON for an arm. Molina is definitely the best all-around catcher that the Birds have had since I've watched them.
-First Base: Albert Pujols, .331, 46 HR, 123 RBI (2004)
I didn't want to give the number to a 'roided up Mark McGwire, but I didn't even need steroids as an excuse to give my pick to El Hombre. Pujols is the best hitter that I've ever seen, period, and I don't say that with any bias. He takes what pitchers give him, and makes players around him much better.
In addition to his work at the dish, Albert is also an excellent fielder. Definitely the most complete player to wear Cardinal red in my days as a fan.
-Second Base: Delino DeShields, .295, 11 HR, 58 RBI, 55 SB (1997)
I can't remember anybody giving the Cards the type of speed that DeShields brought to the table. His 55 SB in today's game would probably make Albert Pujols drool at the thought of a leadoff hitter that could take the attention of the pitcher, as well as get into scoring position.
Second has been pretty weak under the La Russa regime, so over players like Fernando Viña, and fan-favorites like Bo Hart and Joe McEwing, I gotta go with my boy Delino.
-Shortstop: Edgar Renteria, .330, 13 HR, 100 RBI, 34 SB (2003)
What a helluva year Edgar had for the 'Birds in 2003, possibly the best offensive output in Cardinal history. Not to mention, at the time he had a slick glove and strong arm.
-Third base: Scott Rolen, .314, 34, 124 RBI (2004)
Rolen is definitely forgetten about when talking about the offensive production of MV3, but he had a monster year in 2004, while being one of the best defensive players in all of baseball.
When I think of former Cardinals to man the hot corner, I think of Gary Gaetti, John Mabry, and Rolen. Rolen is in a league of his own, and makes my list.
-Left Field: Ray Lankford, .293, 31 HR, 105 RBI, 26 SB (1997)
Ray Ray is my favorite Cardinals, and one of the most prolific hitters at the old Busch Stadium. He had a sweet lefthanded stroke, and was good in the field during his prime. Ray led what might have been the most talented outfield squad during my time, surrounded by Brian Jordan and Ron Gant back when he played center.
-Center Field: Jim Edmonds, .301, 42 HR, 111 RBI (2004)
Holy crap what numbers Jimmy put up in 2004. I didn't realize he had these kind of power numbers until I did some research. Combine those stats with the fact that Edmonds is probably one of the best fielders ever to play the game, definitely recently, and you have the best outfielder I've seen roam Busch Stadium for the home team.
-Right Field: JD Drew, .323, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 13 SB) (2001)
This is going to anger a lot of fans, as Drew wore out his welcome in the Gateway city with phantom injuries and lackluster effort. But Drew put up these numbers as a 25-year-old loaded with talent, and the fact of the matter is that the Cardinals haven't had a great crew of OF's.
I contemplated Brian Jordan or maybe even Ron Gant. Reggie Sanders, Eric Davis, and others, were too old once they played for St. Louis. Ultimately, Drew is the most talented and best OF on this list, and if we could have one game with an all-time Cards squad, I'd pick a 25-year-old Drew over Jordan or anybody else.
-Starting Pitcher: Chris Carpenter, 21-5, 241.7 IP, 213 K, 2.83 ERA (2005)
Carpenter barely lost that summer of 2005, and if I had to pick one starter to give me a good, hard-fought, and dominant game, I'm going with Carp from that year. Other good starters include Andy Benes, Matt Morris, and even Kent Bottenfield or Jeff Suppan, but Carp takes the cake in the end.
-Reliever: Jason Isringhausen, 47 SV, 74 G, 2.87 ERA, 1.035 WHIP (2004)
Izzy may suck now, but he was dominant for a couple of years in his early time with the Cardinals. I picked his 2004 campaign over his 2005 year, because he threw more innings and games, had a lower WHIP, and more saves.
Comparing him to Jeff Brantley, Dave Veres, and even an older Dennis Eckersley, Izzy is certainly the best late-game option for my all-time Birds team.
Do these names ring any bells to people? I'd love to here from Cardinal fans as well as baseball fans in general, and hear what people have to say about this team. Thanks for reading.