Archive for the ‘Bloggers’ Category

In participation with a United Cardinal Bloggers project, here are my choices for the top 5 iconic moments in Cardinals history:


What happened: In a fitting ending to an illustrious career, Stan Musial went out like he came in. Playing in his final big-league game on Sept. 29, 1963, against the Reds at St. Louis, Musial broke a scoreless tie in the sixth by smacking a single past second baseman Pete Rose, scoring Curt Flood. Lifted for a pinch-runner, Musial left to a thunderous ovation. He finished his final game with two hits and a RBI. Boxscore Ever consistent, Musial began his career in similar fashion, getting two hits and two RBI in his big-league debut on Sept. 17, 1941, against the Braves at St. Louis. Boxscore The Cardinals won both games by the same score: 3-2. For his career, Musial had 3,630 hits (1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road).

Why it qualifies: The final at-bat brought to a close the career of the greatest Cardinal. No Cardinal has been more outstanding.

Fun fact: After being lifted from the game, Jim Maloney, the Reds pitcher who gave up the two hits to Musial, went to the St. Louis clubhouse to seek out the retiring Cardinal and tell him, “It was a pleasure watching you play ball.”

Top quote: “It was a great day and I’m grateful that I was able to do something well in my last game.” _ Stan Musial to the Associated Press.


What happened: On Oct. 10, in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series at New York, the Cardinals led 3-2. In the seventh, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs against starter Jesse Haines, who split a finger on his pitching hand. Cardinals manager Rogers Hornsby called on Grover Cleveland Alexander to relieve. Alexander had pitched a complete game the day before in the Cardinals’ Game 6 victory. Boxscore Facing rookie Tony Lazzeri, who had 18 home runs and 114 RBI that season, Alexander struck him out on four pitches. Alexander shut down the Yankees with 2.1 hitless innings, earning a save to go with two World Series wins and preserving the 3-2 St. Louis victory. Boxscore

Why it qualifies: By defeating the Yankees and winning their first World Series championship, the Cardinals transformed from a perennial also-ran into an elite franchise in the National League.

Fun fact: Alexander faced seven batters in Game 7. None of the first six hit the ball out of the infield. The seventh, Babe Ruth, walked with two outs in the ninth and was thrown out attempting to steal.

Top quote: “I knew he was all rattled and nervous and would go after anything, so I gave him a low curve a foot and a half from the plate and he swung and missed.” _ Grover Cleveland Alexander to The Sporting News, describing the pitch on which he struck out Tony Lazzeri.


What happened: On Oct. 27, in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series at St. Louis, third baseman David Freese, whose two-out, two-run triple in the ninth tied the score, delivered a game-winning home run to lead off the 11th. The Cardinals rallied from deficits of 1-0, 3-2, 4-3, 7-4 and 9-7 against the Rangers to win 10-9 in 11 innings. St. Louis became the first team to score in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings of a World Series game. The Cardinals were within one strike of elimination in the ninth and 10th innings, and survived. Boxscore

Why it qualifies: The home run capped the most dramatic World Series comeback victory in Cardinals history. It advanced the Cardinals to Game 7 and they clinched their 11th World Series title.

Fun fact: Freese became the fourth Cardinal to receive the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, joining pitcher Bob Gibson (1964 and 1967), catcher Darrell Porter (1982) and shortstop David Eckstein (2006).

Top quote: “Your Game 6 performance, David, will turn out to be one for the ages.” _ Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, in presenting the World Series MVP Award to David Freese.


What happened: On Oct. 15, in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series at St. Louis, the Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter was on first base with two outs and the score tied, 3-3. Harry Walker hit a line drive that dropped into center where Leon Culberson (who had replaced an injured Dom DiMaggio) fielded the ball and threw to the cutoff man, shortstop Johnny Pesky. Slaughter rounded third and dashed toward the plate. Pesky appeared to hesitate before throwing to the catcher as Slaughter slid home safely. The daring baserunning gave the Cardinals a 4-3 victory and the championship. Boxscore

Why it qualifies: Slaughter’s hustle symbolized the smart and sound Cardinals teams that dominated the National League in the 1940s. The Cardinals won four pennants and three World Series championships in the decade and finished second five times.

Fun fact: Slaughter credited third-base coach Mike Gonzalez for waving him to home plate as soon as he reached third. It was redemption for Gonzalez, who was criticized after Game 4 when two Cardinals baserunners he waved home were thrown out at the plate.

Top quote: “They say if Pesky hadn’t held the throw I would have been out by a country mile. I don’t know about that. I know the throw to the plate was a little wide, up the third-base line. I also know I had to score.” _ Enos Slaughter to International News Service.


What happened: In Game 5 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series on Oct. 14, 1985, at St. Louis, shortstop Ozzie Smith snapped a 2-2 tie with a one-out home run in the ninth against Dodgers reliever Tom Niedenfuer, giving St. Louis a 3-2 victory. Boxscore It was the first home run Smith hit left-handed in eight years as a big-leaguer.

Why it qualifies: The blast (along with broadcaster Jack Buck’s memorable call of “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!”) symbolized the spirit of manager Whitey Herzog’s 1980s Cardinals clubs and helped clinch Smith’s reputation as a Hall of Fame legend.

Fun fact: Niedenfuer said the pitch was supposed to be up and in to Smith, but instead was down and in. That mistake enabled Smith to drop the head of the bat on the ball and golf it over the right-field wall.

Top quote: “All I was trying to do was get the ball down the line, into the corner. Fortunately, I got enough to put it out. It was exciting.” _ Ozzie Smith to the Associated Press.

Previously: Stan Musial ranks with best walkoff homer hitters

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In participation with a United Cardinal Bloggers project, here are my picks for the top five Cardinals stories of 2011:

1. Cardinals win 11th World Series championship

Winning a World Series title remains a rare and special achievement. So even in a year of major personnel news for the Cardinals (manager Tony La Russa retiring. Mike Matheny replacing him, Albert Pujols leaving, Colby Rasmus being traded, the resurgence of Lance Berkman, Adam Wainwright missing all season because of an injury and closer Ryan Franklin imploding), the clinching of their 11th World Series title tops all other stories.

I’m 55 and this is the fifth Cardinals World Series championship in my lifetime. I feel blessed to have experienced that many. Even though an average of one every 11 years doesn’t seem, at times, to be enough, it’s an impressive total.

Since 1956, the year I was born, only the Yankees (11) and the Dodgers (five) have won as many or more World Series titles as the Cardinals. And the Dodgers haven’t won one since 1988.

All the Cardinals’ World Series championships are cherished and unique. The 2011 title always will stand out for the monumental obstacles the Cardinals had to overcome:

_ The injury to Wainwright.

_ The meltdown by Franklin.

_ The flameout by Rasmus.

_ The 10.5-game deficit for a postseason spot with 31 to play.

_ The 8.5-game deficit in September.

_ The three-game deficit with five to play.

_ Losing two of the first three games and then eliminating the Phillies in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

_ Chris Carpenter outdueling Roy Halladay as the Cardinals beat the Phillies, 1-0, in a Game 5 masterpiece at Philadelphia. Boxscore

_ Losing the opener 9-6 to a cocky Brewers club and then eliminating them by winning four of the next five in the National League Championship Series.

_ Eliminating the Rangers in the first seven-game World Series since 2002 by winning the last two games, including the drama-filled Game 6.

In short, a championship to savor for a lifetime.

2. The David Freese Game becomes an all-time classic

This game is so historic it rates its own mention among the top five stories. For as long as baseball is played, it will be remembered and analyzed for being one of the most significant and most dramatic games.

The Cardinals rallied from deficits of 1-0, 3-2, 4-3, 7-4 and 9-7 against Texas to win 10-9 in 11 innings and keep their World Series championship hopes alive. Boxscore

St. Louis became the first team to score in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings of a World Series game. The Cardinals were within one strike of elimination in the ninth and 10th innings, and survived.

Many Cardinals performed magnificently in this game, but the best was third baseman David Freese, whose two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth tied the score, 7-7, and who delivered the game-winning home run to lead off the 11th.

Like the Carlton Fisk Game in the 1975 World Series and the Kirk Gibson Game in the 1988 World Series, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series will be known as the David Freese Game.

3. Cardinals stage stunning comeback to earn wild-card berth

Throughout my lifetime, the standard for greatest Cardinals comeback was established by the 1964 club that overcame a 6.5-game deficit with 13 to play and won the National League pennant on the season’s final day, then defeated the Yankees in a seven-game World Series.

I never figured to see another Cardinals team match or top that feat. But the comeback by the 2011 Cardinals rates every bit as amazing as what the 1964 team accomplished. For that reason, it must be included as one of the top five Cardinals stories of the year. 

4. Tony La Russa retires; Mike Matheny replaces him

The Cardinals have produced many great managers. La Russa is the greatest. He has the most wins, two World Series championships and, most impressive of all, nine postseason appearances in 16 years. Because his personality and methods were lightning rods for controversy, La Russa is a manager who likely will become more appreciated with time _ a veritable treasure trove for a Cardinals history blog such as this.

Matheny is an intriguing choice to replace La Russa. A leader as a Cardinals catcher, he appears to be smart and likeable, but although he has no managerial experience, he’ll be expected to produce postseason contenders immediately.

5. Albert Pujols snubs Cardinals, signs with Angels

The Self-Absorbed One, who showed he valued  money and ego-stroking ahead of loyalty and Cardinals legacy, did have one thing right all along. When he said he didn’t deserve to be called “El Hombre” because Stan Musial was the only Cardinal worthy of being called “The Man,” Pujols wasn’t joking.

Previously: Power personifies 2011 World Series champions

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In participation with a United Cardinal Bloggers postseason roundtable, we asked the question, “Who is your No. 1 choice to replace Tony La Russa as Cardinals manager, and why?”

The majority of respondents chose Rays manager Joe Maddon (a lifelong Cardinals fan). He received full support from 11 bloggers and partial support from four others.

Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo and former Phillies and Red Sox manager Terry Francona (whose father, Tito Francona, played for the Cardinals in 1965-66) also got prominent consideration. Oquendo got full support from four bloggers and partial support from one other. Francona got full support from three bloggers and partial support from one other.

One of the most original suggestions was former Cardinals catcher Tony Pena, who has managed the Royals and is a coach with the Yankees.

Here are the responses:


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(Updated Dec. 6, 2015)

The Cardinals’ back-to-back late comeback victories in Atlanta in April 2011 were a sign that the season had the makings of something special.

For the first time since their World Series championship year in 2006, the Cardinals won consecutive games when trailing in the eighth inning or later.

By beating the Braves 5-3 April 29 after trailing 3-2 in the ninth (Boxscore) and then winning 3-2 April 30 after trailing 2-0 in the eighth (Boxscore), the Cardinals matched a feat they hadn’t achieved since July 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

In the two games before the 2006 all-star break, July 8 and July 9 at Houston, the Cardinals capitalized on key hits from players such as Aaron Miles and Scott Spiezio to stun the Astros.

Considering that the Cardinals went on to win the National League Central Division title by 1.5 games over second-place Houston, the consecutive comeback wins in July 2006 were the difference between St. Louis qualifying for the playoffs (making the World Series championship run possible) and staying home.

July 8, 2006, Cardinals 7, Astros 6, 10 innings: With Houston ahead 6-4, Brad Lidge came in to close out the ninth inning. He retired Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion. Then, Scott Spiezio homered.

Chris Duncan, pinch-hitting for Gary Bennett, singled to center and David Eckstein walked.

Second baseman Aaron Miles, who entered the game with a .258 batting average and 17 RBI, singled to right, scoring Duncan with the tying run.

In the 10th, Albert Pujols greeted Roy Oswalt with a home run. Jason Isringhausen retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the inning, preserving the St. Louis victory. Boxscore

July 9, 2006, Cardinals 7, Astros 5, 12 innings: Houston led 2-1 after seven innings. The Cardinals scored four runs in the eighth, the key hit being a three-run homer by Scott Rolen, and led 5-2. Houston scored twice in the eighth and once in the ninth, tying the score.

In the 12th, with Lidge pitching, Eckstein was hit by a pitch and So Taguchi singled. When Pujols flied out to center and Rolen struck out, it appeared Lidge would work out of the jam.

Miles was sent in to hit for pitcher Braden Looper. Miles, who had driven in the tying run against Lidge the day before, had been a roommate of Lidge when both were Astros minor leaguers. They remained friends.

When Lidge uncorked a wild pitch, Eckstein advanced to third and Taguchi went to second. Miles, batting left-handed, sliced a double down the left-field line, scoring both runners and giving St. Louis a two-run lead.

“I don’t know how he hit the ball,” Lidge told the Associated Press. “I guess somehow it went off the end of his bat.”

When Josh Hancock retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the inning, the inspired Cardinals headed to the all-star break with a three-game winning streak and a 48-39 record. Boxscore

“I’m going to have to review this game to believe we won it,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

After the break, the Cardinals opened the season’s second half with a four-game sweep of the Dodgers. That stretch immediately before and after the break was critical to the Cardinals building a lead that enabled them to withstand a shaky finish and reach the postseason.

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In participation with a week-long United Cardinal Bloggers project, our predictions for the 2011 National League West Division:

1. Rockies: Led by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.315 batting mark, 27 home runs and 95 RBI in an injury-shortened 2010) and left fielder Carlos Gonzalez (NL-leading .336, 34 homers, 117 RBI), Colorado has the best starting lineup in the division. Anchored by Ubaldo Jimenez (19 wins), Jorge de la Rosa (113 strikeouts in 122 innings) and Jhoulis Chacin (138 strikeouts in 137 innings), the rotation is good enough.

2. Giants: With a rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner (all four had ERAs below 3.50 in 2010), the defending World Series champions cannot be counted out.

3. Diamondbacks: No-nonsense manager Kirk Gibson may be just the tonic to get talent such as outfielders Justin Upton (.273 in 2010) and Chris Young (.257), and shortstop Stephen Drew (.278), to consistently perform to their potential.

4. Dodgers: Los Angeles has too many fading veterans _ catcher Rod Barajas, 35; third baseman Casey Blake, 37; left fielder Marcus Thames, 34; and pitcher Ted Lilly, 35 _ in prominent roles. First-year manager Don Mattingly will be tested.

5. Padres: In 2010, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was the only Padre to hit more than 13 homers and drive in more than 58 runs. He’s now with Boston. The lineup needs punch, and the lack of run production will put a strain on a talented, but young, starting rotation.

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In participation with the most recent United Cardinal Bloggers project, we asked the question, “Is Colby Rasmus a center fielder who can help lead the Cardinals to a World Series championship?”

The consensus is, yes, he can, following in the footsteps of center fielders such as Curt Flood, Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds. My colleagues supported their opinions with sharp analysis:


Mike Metzger
Stan Musial’s Stance

Tough question.
Curt Flood finished 11th in MVP voting in 1964, 13th in 1967.  McGee was 3rd in ROY voting in 1982 and won the MVP 3 years later.  Edmonds finished 5th in the MV3 vote of 2004, and although he missed 2 months in 2006 due to lingering post-concussion symptoms, he was a big part of that playoff run.
Does Rasmus have the tools to be that caliber of player?  Absolutely.  Is he that caliber of player today?  Not yet, but he’s getting there.  Offensively he’s probably already there.  He improved quite a bit last season as compared to 2009 and we can reasonably expect he’ll remain a 25-30 HR, .340-.370 wOBA player for the next few years.

Defensively it’s tough to evaluate him based on 2 years at the major league level (superior 13.5 UZR/150 in 2009; below average -9.1 last season).  He’s probably not as good as his 2009 effort and nowhere near as bad as he was last season.  The 3 men referenced above were all outstanding defenders, which Rasmus certainly can become on a consistent basis.
So to answer the question, yes, I believe Rasmus is the kind of CF that can help lead the team to a World Championship.


Aaron from El Maquino

Definitely. He can cover most of that ground out there and will be–at least–a consistent 20 hr guy.


J.D. Norton
Bleed Cardinal Red With Me

Absolutely.  Colby is only going to get better.  People need to realize he’s still only 24 years old.  I fully expect Colby to be a top 3 CF in the next couple of years.


Bill Ivie

Colby is an interesting case.

He has the ability to be a leadoff hitter with some pop, but does not want to be that type of player and underperforms when he is asked to do so.  He has a vision for his career and when the Cardinals ask him to do something that is in line with that vision, he is one of the best in the league.  When the team needs him to do something that would change the player that Colby wants to be known as, then he seems to act immaturely and not perform as well.

That all being said, the addition of Jim Edmonds will have a two-fold improvement on Colby.  Jimmy Ballgame is one of the best defenders in the game and takes a different approach than other outfielders.  His background shows that he can teach younger players how to improve and I expect him and Colby to be stuck together all Spring.  The competition that will be created, and a much lower level than most “competitions”, will spur Colby to play better.

Best case scenario, Colby turns the corner into the phenomenal player that we all know he is capable of.  Worst case, Edmonds takes some playing time and we will be talking about trade demands again in the early Summer.

I don’t think the question is “Is he capable” as much as it is “Is he willing”.


Tom Knuppel

I believe Colby is not quite there yet but he will. The only rap I have on him at this time is his inability to hit the cut-off man and his sometimes weak or nonchalant throws to the infield. He must improve in that area to be in the same sentence with Flood, McGee and Edmonds, in my opinion.


Bob Netherton
On the Outside Corner
Throatwarbler’s Blog

A great question, Mark.  Lots to think about.

When you put “is” together with “lead” and then recall the names Flood, McGee and Edmonds, the answer is no. Can he be that kind of center fielder? Without question. But will he – not for a while, and not without a significant change to the way he plays the game.

Curt Flood was one of the coolest baseball players I’ve seen wear the Cardinal uniform. Steady as a rock, but his eyes were always focused like a laser beam. Edmonds and McGee were quite the opposite – total disruptors .  McGee beat you every way possible: the glove, with his feet and finally his bat.  He was a terror wherever he was placed in the batting order.  The “awww shucks, it was no big deal” persona just made him even more irritating to the opposition.  Edmonds was also an instigator, but more of the “hey guys, look at what I just did – now, let’s go out and get them”.  All three produced consistently, and made the players around them better.

Two things will keep Rasmus from joining this elite group of center fielders.  Tony La Russa may be the wrong kind of manager for a kid like Rasmus.  The best spot for him in the batting order is at the top, first or second, and leave him there.  Unless your name is Pujols or Holliday, you aren’t staying anywhere in the batting order. Maybe if Lance Berkman stays healthy and hits in the fifth spot, Rasmus can adjust to the top of the order and become the offensive force we think he can be. 
But part of that will have to be the running game, and that’s not in La Russa’s bag-of-tricks.

The biggest obstacle for Rasmus is his entitled attitude.  The other three players all had something to prove. Flood dealt with some really tough racial issues, McGee wasn’t supposed to be in the big leagues, and Jimmy Ballgame had to prove he was the best, on a daily basis.  All three played like this might be their last game, and they wanted it to be special.  I don’t see that in Rasmus – not even close.

Oh, and before somebody plays the “Rasmus is still young” card, Curt Flood was already a Gold Glove winner and .300 hitter at a younger age. Both Vince Coleman and Willie McGee went to a World Series before their 24th birthday.

Right now, Colby Rasmus is more Alex Johnson than Flood, McGee or Edmonds, and I hope that changes.  Quickly.

Awesome question – thanks Mark!


Dennis Lawson
Pitchers Hit Eighth

Great question, and I really like the way you worded it, Mark. 

I do think Colby has enough raw talent to lead the team to a World Series championship, even if he doesn’t have his head completely screwed on straight.  I think he’ll start to put things together this year, but he’ll by no means be the complete player that he’ll be in 2-3 years.  He’s still good enough to be a top 5 centerfielder in the NL, and he doesn’t have to be his ideal self to push this team over the top. 

A while back I compared him to the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton in terms of ability.  I think he’s only shown us about 70% of what he can do.  If he gets to 80-85% this year, he’ll start earning the respect, praise, and eventually the big contract that he seems to be wanting.  Along the way, he could just propel the Cardinals through the playoffs with a monster year.  Keep in mind that he put up .276/.361/.498/.859 with 23 hr and 66 rbi in only 534 PAs, and a lot of people were still disappointed.  The expectations are high, and the force is strong with this one.


Andy Beard
Gas House Graphs

Unquestionably. Colby Rasmus can contribute towards a World Series victory.

Check the league leader boards at FanGraphs and you’ll find that Colby was the fourth most productive center-fielder offensively in 2010 (.366 wOBA – From FanGraphs’ dictionary: a stat that, “combines all of the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value”). Only Josh Hamilton and Carlos Gonzalez were better. Would you consider them dynamic, impact players? Take this another step further and restrict eligibility to those that played at least 50% of their games in CF, and Colby was the most productive according to his 132 OPS+ (found at Baseball-Reference). If he were able to cut down on his strikeouts, while maintaining advanced patience at the plate (11.8 BB% in 2010), he could take another step forward.

The advanced fielding metrics at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference reveal two completely different defenders in 2009 and 2010. While they suggested an underrated, if not dynamic, fielder in 2009, Colby’s defense was a liability in 2010. There’s a school of thought that his positioning was off for much of last season, but improved later in the year. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt considering his scouting reports were always positive and expect him to prove himself as an average defender at least.

The need for players like Colby on this team (young, cost-controlled) cannot be overstated if Saint Louis wants to have a realistic chance to stay competitive within the division while extending Pujols’ career under the Arch.


Daniel Shoptaw
C70 At The Bat

Really not much to say after the great comments already put out there.  My two cents is that I don’t think Colby will be one that will lead a team as much as, like Andy phrased it, he will contribute to a World Series victory.

I don’t get the impression that you could make Colby the best talent on the team and he’d take a team to the title.  I think he’s a great complementary piece on a solid team, such as the one that the Cards have now, but if it’s Colby and a few above-average players, then that team, in my opinion, wouldn’t go that far.


Dustin McClure
Welcome To Baseball Heaven

There’s already been some great insight. I’m hoping I can add a little something to the discussion.
Last year was kind of an up and down year for Colby. When things were good they were really good. When they were bad it turned into trade rumors, feuds with TLR, etc. There were times at the plate when his at bats were a thing of beauty (working the count, drawing walks, and driving the ball). Other times he looked lost at the plate trying to jerk everything which I believe was the main culprit in his elevated strikeout total from the prior season.
As Mike mentioned it’s a little early to draw any conclusions defensively. He’s in pretty elite company when grouped in comparison with Flood, McGee and Edmonds. He’s got the tools and ability to become a top tier defender for sure.
To answer Mark’s question it’s definitely a yes! Colby will be a significant contributor in bringing another World Series title to St. Louis in the very near future.


Christine Coleman
Aaron Miles’ Fastball

Definitely a lot of interesting points made by everyone so far – surprising ones as well, and not necessarily what I expected as responses when I first read the question. And, given the fact I’ve been reading everything very carefully these days (to try to figure out what’s fact and what’s speculation when it comes to anything written about Albert and his contract – with, of course, speculation being the case 98 percent of the time), I found the wording of “can help lead” in Mark’s question intriguing. Yes, of course he can help. *Will* Colby help lead the Cardinals to a World Series championship? That depends. And it depends the most, in my opinion, on how much he’s given the chance to play and continue to learn/improve. We’ve seen the raw talent and potential that he has. Whether he’s given the opportunity to hone those talents and abilities – that’s up to the manager. It’s also going to depend on the team around him, because baseball is obviously a team sport. One or two great players – or even five All-Stars – don’t necessarily make a World Series or even playoff team. But my thought is that yes, Colby could easily be a valuable contributor to a championship team based on the abilities he’s shown during his time with the Cardinals.

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