Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

What did the farm system yield from 2003-2009?

We don’t often fish in the fever swamps of fan message boards, but every now and then we experience the flotsam and jetsam that brave souls like Joe Strauss expose themselves to in online forums such as the Post scribe’s worthwhile, personality-driven live online Cardinals Chat. In addition to reminding us why we should take more pity on Joe, it’s s also a helpful reality check on the zeitgeist of Cardinal nation. Which brings us to the post of this post, which is to augment Strauss’s answer to a particularly short-sighted question, which was posed thusly on Wednesday’s chat:

The Cardinals traded several high-level minor league prospects from 2003-2009, and none of them (save for maybe Gregorson) have turned out to be monsters, yet now the fanbase is supposed to accept organic growth for the near to mid-term future? Will there ever be another Holliday type acquisition in the next 5 years?

To his credit, Strauss reasonably retorts “The Cardinals are now developing starting pitchers and position players, something they were criticized for four or five years ago. I don’t get the notion of “accepting” organic growth as a bad thing. The team won a World Series with heavier reliance on home-grown talent. Most organizations would kill to have the Cardinals’ situation. The alternative is to overpay to keep or acquire talent.”

Putting aside the question’s false premise — that just because the Cardinals had a weak farm system at one point in time, they necessarily would continue to in the future — we wanted to list out some of those prospects and how they really did fare (including some that they didn’t trade). Since it is unclear from the comment whether the author means “prospects in the system during 2003-2009” or “prospects traded” during that time, we’ll include a list of each, ordered by career WAR, of players with at least as many WAR as “Gregorson”:

Player Pos WAR
Yadier Molina C 19.5
Adam Wainwright RHP 18.9
Brendan Ryan SS 14.6
Colby Rasmus OF 6.8
Jon Jay OF 6.6
David Freese 3B 5.8
Allen Craig SS 4.5
Jaime Garcia LHP 4.3
Jason Motte C 4.2
Skip Schumaker OF 3.8
Year Traded Player Pos WAR
2003 J.D. Drew OF 42.4
2004 Dan Haren RHP 30.6
2004 Daric Barton C 7.7
2009 Chris Perez RHP 4.4
2003 Eli Marrero C 4.0

Turns out that the commenter had a fairly selective memory, thus also rendering even the factual accuracy of his false premise dubious as well.  Of course, it hinges on one’s definition of “monster,” though with the author’s use of “Gregorson” as his possible exception, we can’t figure that he means an Albert Pujols standard. It looks to us as though the Cardinals did indeed produce a few “monster” players, kept several of them and traded a few away.

We dare say that we’d gladly have (and have had) on our team the likes of Dan Haren, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Brendan Ryan, Luke Gregerson, Jaime Garcia, Chris Perez and Jason Motte (Though drafted and developed in the Cardinals’ system, JD Drew was beyond being a prospect by the time the team traded him.)

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