The prevailing line of thought regarding the construction of the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster is that the club has focused more on drafted talent and less on acquiring proven major leaguers via trading away some of those drafted players.
Only the first half of that supposition is accurate – if the club’s National League Championship Series 25-man rosters from its last five appearances are a good indication. (Note the 2012 LCS roster remains the same as it was in the Division Series.)
Sourcing of St. Louis Cardinals NLCS rosters since 2004
|LCS roster||draft||free agent||acquired||Rule 5||total|
As the table above indicates, the 2012 Cardinals – with 16 homegrown players among the 25 active – have more players drafted by the organization than their 2004, 2005 and 2006 NLCS clubs combined (14). Here are the details behind the current 16.
St. Louis Cardinals active players by draft class and round, 2012 LCS
|2009||M Carpenter (13)||Kelly (3)||Miller (1)||Rosenthal (21)|
|2007||Chambers (38)||Cruz (26)||Descalso (3)||Kozma (1)|
|2006||Craig (8)||Jay (2)||Robinson (5)|
Further, only three of the six acquired players on the current roster were added as major leaguers – Edward Mujica, Marc Rzepczynski and Matt Holliday*. The other three became Cardinals while still minor leaguers – Adam Wainwright, Fernando Salas and David Freese.
The decline that corresponds to the growth in drafted players is from those signed via the free agent market. The current Cardinals have just three such free agent-acquired players – Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse and Carlos Beltran. That compares to 13 as recently as 2006.
It seems clear that the club will continue to fill needs via trade as needed. The key acquisition of Mujica this summer is a good reminder. Same with selective use of free agency, such as signing Beltran to replace Albert Pujols last winter.
However, the days of bringing in major league journeymen to fill out the roster are past – at least as long as the farm system continues to produce.
(* Note that I am counting how the players joined the team in their current contiguous service. For example, Holliday was first a trade acquisition and is listed that way, even though he re-signed later as a free agent.)