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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Remember why Wacha is with St. Louis and be thankful

Simply put, the St. Louis Cardinals have Michael Wacha because they don’t have Albert Pujols. This gift is set to keep on giving for many years to come, but even in 2013, it has been a good deal.

As Major League Baseball fans know, the St. Louis Cardinals prepare to send rookie right-hander Michael Wacha to the mound Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh in an attempt to stave off elimination in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

It is a heady assignment for any player, let alone one with such limited experience. Yet as we have seen in the past few days from others such as Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole, youngsters can and do thrive in the post-season atmosphere.

No matter what happens on Monday, I am guessing the Cardinals are truly at ease with the decision to not match the Los Angeles Angels’ 10-year, $240 million contract offer to Albert Pujols two winters ago.

Fueled by the additions of youngsters such as Allen Craig (who replaced Pujols at first base) and veterans like Carlos Beltran (signed with part of the cash earmarked for Pujols), the Cardinals reached the post-season in both of their post-Pujols campaigns.

Further, the departure of Pujols awarded St. Louis the 19th selection of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft from the Halos. They used that pick on Wacha, who signed for slot value, $1.9 million, and arrived in the majors just 11 months later.

As the 22-year-old prepares for the biggest game of his young career and Pujols watches the Division Series on television, here are some thoughts.

  • If MLB clubs were granted a “do-over” on the 2012 draft, where would Wacha have been selected?
  • If the pitching-starved Angels had kept their 19th pick, would they have chosen Wacha?
  • This season, Albert delivered 0.7 WAR in 99 injury-plagued games for the Halos. In his initial 15 regular-season outings with St. Louis, Wacha’s WAR was 1.1.
  • In 2013, Albert made $16 million, while Wacha earned a pro-rated share of the MLB minimum salary of $490,000 while with St. Louis.
  • By the time Pujols’ annual salary escalates to its peak value of $30 million in 2021, the final year of his contract, will Wacha have earned that much money over his entire career to date?
  • What will be their respective aggregate WARs over the decade of 2012-2021?

Just wondering…

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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22 Responses to “Remember why Wacha is with St. Louis and be thankful”

  1. Bw52 says:

    While Pujols watches on TV.What about all the playoffs and World series other players watched while AP was a cardinal? Cards made their choice and most are fine with that and understand the reasoning.The stupid Pujols jabs and bashing are really ridiculous.Fans should appreciate what AP did in STLouis .

  2. Bw52 says:

    Just tired of reading the AP bashing.Ap and the Cards both benfitted from 11 years together.

    • Brian Walton says:

      You have to be looking hard to consider this post to be bashing. No one here questioned the benefits gained from 2001-2011, but that is not the focus on this piece. It is on the post-Pujols environment and is factual. Not sure why I even have to explain that.

      • kray66 says:

        There was some anger at Cards management/ownership for not driving a fleet of armored trucks to Pujols’ house to keep him. I think there were more people angry with AP for his decision, but there was still a great deal of people who thought the Cards messed up and disrespected AP.

        I think this article is just meant to reinforce that in hindsight and after the emotions have calmed, not signing AP was a good deal for the Cards to say the least.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Drink some geritol Bw and you will feel better.

    It seems like the foot tendon woes of Pujols are responsible for his decline. Just as Achilles was a powerful Greek warrior undone by an arrow to his heel and Mighty Bo Jackson by a blow to the hip, to too Mighty Albert was undone by the fascia foot injury thing. It seems chronic problem and quite debilitating. Having tended to Pujols’ health for years, the Cards probably were clear-minded about the condition of his feet. When they offered him a five year deal, this may have been rational based on problematic feet. Everything starts with the foundation of feet and if your feet go bad, a player can’t keep excelling, no matter how smart or determined.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Before the draft, it was rumored the Cards were scouting Texas A&M’s left swinging CF Tyler Naquin. This was a disturbing rumor, because we have plenty of Skip Schumaker clones already in our system. Happily, the Cleveland Indians lost their minds and popped Naquin 15th overall, IIRC, enabling A&M hurler Wacha to fall to us at 19. Stud pitchers are very valuable, little left swinging OFs are easier to find.
    It will be interesting to see who has a better career, Naquin or our James Ramsay. Right now, I am liking Ramsay.

    • Brian Walton says:

      The Cards scout hundreds of players each year. Do you recall where you read they preferred Naquin in the first round?

      • JumboShrimp says:

        I shall repeat what I said. I said it was rumored (in print) the Cards were scouting Naquin. This was probably reported by a columnist who tries to project first round draft selections. I recall hoping this was untrue.
        We could have been obviously following Naquin so as to try to mask actual interest in Wacha or to have a comparison with Ramsay. In any event, things worked out.

  5. blingboy says:

    I liked the article.

    I can’t see where recognizing reality equals bashing.

    Albert was great in the past, but he is not great now and will decline going forward. The Cards made out like bandits and Arte got reamed. That is reality.

    • Bw52 says:

      The Cards made out pretty good right now.There is no Guarantee Wacha improves or he might turn out like Reyes(the kid who beat the Tigers in the WS and ended up in Cleveland).I don`t gripe about the Cards decision to go another direction and I don`t blame AP for his choice either.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Anthony Reyes ended up traded to the Indians, but he required an elbow operation and probably is no longer playing. For many young men, baseball is only a fleeting shot at fame and fortune. Reyes first hurt his elbow his junior season at USC, the reason why he was still available in the 15th round as a senior in 2003. He was damaged goods when signed.
        Thus far, Wacha has stayed healthy. He is gifted and a fantastic gift from the ever so generous, last of the red hot spenders, our dear pal Arte Mareno!

  6. blingboy says:

    What are we going to do to get a higher pick this year? Or an extra 1st rounder.?

  7. JumboShrimp says:

    Another stupendously wonderful pitching performance by Wacha. Happily our OPS leader solved Morton so we could eke out a win.
    The 5th game is unlikely to be easy either.

  8. JumboShrimp says:

    I doubt Pete will start Game 5, because Cole is a load for any right swinger. If Matheny wants to look for an extra lefty bat versus the RHP, he could shift Carpenter to 3B and insert Wong at 2B. We will probably just suffer with Freese, however.

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