The St. Louis Cardinals are not a team of destiny. Suggesting they were somehow steered towards this championship — however unlikely — deprives them of well-earned credit. The Cardinals of 2011 are a team of opportunity.

The Braves handed the Cardinals a golden opportunity to reach the playoffs and they took it. They still had to be beat Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay to realize it. The rain gave the Cardinals a great opportunity to use Chris Carpenter in Game 7 and they took it. He pitched well and they, of course won. But they still had to survive Game Six to get there.

It is a time to celebrate the Cardinals for overcoming the odds, a time to celebrate Albert Pujols as the cornerstone of a two-time World Series winning franchise. To me this is not a time to weight the merits of the Colby Rasmus trade but…here we are.

On Getting Blanked we’ve argued the merits of this trade ad nauseum. My belief is unchanged – the Cardinals made this trade then won the World Series, they did not win the World Series because they traded Colby Rasmus.

But this point is officially moot. The deal is done. Why the rush to anoint a winner and loser? The Cardinals addressed some very specific needs, as did the Blue Jay. The White Sox? Their concerns are no concern of ours.

Yet here comes the wall of “I told you so!” from people unable to see the forest for the trees. The Cardinals won the World Series ergo they won the trade. Simple! Except it is not that simple, not by a long shot. As stated above, the Cardinals are a team of opportunities – many of which came 100% independent of the presence of Colby Rasmus, Marc Rzepcyznski or Edwin Jackson.

The trade doesn’t have an intrinsic value any more because the Cardinals won. Cardinals fans wouldn’t trade anything for the World Series title. It doesn’t matter if Colby Rasmus posts seven consecutive 5 WAR seasons while the Cards languish with the thoroughly average John Jay in center. It simply doesn’t matter to them any more.

Trading present for future means the winner won’t be decided for a long, long time. Take, for example, the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett ahead of the 2006 season. One year later, Beckett won the ALCS MVP and started Game One of the World Series, a series the Red Sox swept in four games. All the Red Sox had to give up for Beckett’s services was one of the very best players in baseball, some kid by the name of Hanley Ramirez.

Would Red Sox fans undo this deal? The Ramirez-for-Beckett deal yielded a much, much, much, much, much, much, much bigger return than the Cardinals will ever see from the Rasmus haul, one that had a much greater DIRECT impact on their immediate playoff fortunes so of course they wouldn’t redo it. Not a single BoSox fan that I’ve questioned would do a single thing differently. It doesn’t matter how many different men have played shortstop the Red Sox in that time (17) or how bad they’ve been (Julio Lugo has the most SS games since the trade.)

So let’s end this conversation. The Cardinals won. They wouldn’t change a thing. The ends justify the means, no matter how steep the means. With their manager now retired and the number one reason the Cardinals are every anything about to test free agency, they have much bigger fish to fry than the fate of Colby Rasmus. Like celebrating. They deserve it.