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.

Comments (15)

  1. Just want to say that I love how you expose logical fallacies in your blog. Many a baseball fan falls victim to the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (after this, therefore because of this) fallacy, no thanks to the commentators and announcers who constantly laud La Russa’s “game management skills,” as if his actions have a direct causal outcome on the performances of the players themselves.

    Anyways, thanks for providing a rational, analytic alternative – it’s highly preferable to the tripe so often spewed by the mainstream voices!

  2. One thing to keep in mind is that the means are only steep IF Rasmus does put up the numbers that many predict he will. If he ends up flaming out this will become an even bigger non-issue.

    The Cardinals took advantage of the opportunities presented to them and ran with it all the way to the title. Those opportunities were not there though because Rasmus was no longer on the team. The Braves didn’t collapse because Rasmus was a Blue Jay. The Braves collapsed because, well, they are the Braves and that’s what they do.

    Lastly, I don’t necessarily think there has to be a winner and loser here just like with the Boston trade. If the Jays do well with Rasmus then both teams win because the Cards get a title and the Jays improve there team just like with Boston winning and Florida getting one of the best players in baseball.

  3. “The trade doesn’t have an intrinsic value any more because the Cardinals won. ”

    This comes nowhere close to making sense. Just because Cardinals fans running around on a sugar high no longer give a shit about what they had to give up does not mean that people with sober minds can’t assess the trade down the road and assign value to the returns to both teams. If the trade had “no intrinsic value”, whatever that means, but as you say the Cardinals STILL won, then I guess they won every trade made this season, including ones in which they didn’t participate, since those ALSO had “no intrinsic value” as far as upgrading their club.

    • I mean the World Series win renders the cost of the trade moot. We can talk about expected value and ROI all we want but the results in this case trump all that. Evaluating the trade in a “won/lost” context no longer matters because they won. It wipes the slate clean before the final judgement is even delivered. They won the war, who cares about a minor battle with only a slight impact on final outcome?

  4. I figure, let the world think that the Jays lost that deal. The baseball world was getting hip to the manoeuvrings of AA and now that he “lost” a trade that he actually won, more fleecings can take place.

    I doubt AA or anyone in Toronto’s front office much care about what the Damien Coxen of the world have to say.

  5. While I’m certainly of the opinion that the Jays “won” the deal (however we end up defining that), it’s hard to overlook the fact that as a part of the trade they swapped three replacement level (or worse) relievers for a historically good ROOGY, and a LOOGY unlike any other. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, but after their bullpen played such a big role in their winning the whole damned thing, it’s hard to say that the trade didn’t vastly help them win.

    Next year we can reap the rewards of a shrewd deal by AA, but for now it bears remembering that deals in baseball are not absolute win/lose things; the Jays addressed a need (young player with star potential) while the Cards brought together what everyone here is always happy to remind people is the last part of putting together a playoff team: their bullpen.

    • Exactly. Can we stop talking about winning/losing the trade.

      The Cardinals made a bad decision to trade Rasmus for the return they received, but that bad decision was nullified by their winning the World Series. They flipped over their cards with a bad hand, but caught the river and winning is all that matters in the end.

      The Jays made a good decision to trade spare parts for Rasmus, and that decision stands unaffected by the fact that the Cardinals went on to win the World Series thanks, to some degree at least, to the addition of those spare parts.

  6. Who gives a shit about what the Cards do with their trade pieces. I don’t care if the team on the other end of the Jays trades wins the world series or cuts all the players as soon as they get them.

    The 2012 Jays now have a young cost controlled potential star CF. To get him, the 2012 Jays lose a mediocre pitching prospect, a pretty good LOOGY and a draft pick.

    The Jays roster is better now because of the move so the winner/loser debate is irrelevant to me.

  7. Okay, I understand the way a BJ fan and Cardinal fan quantify a successful trade are totally different things but,that being said there is no way you can say the Cards didn’t come out on top of this one. The Cardinals go out and get pieces that help push them to another world championship and the Jays get a meddlesome,whiny, overrated kid who’s perceived value is much greater than that of his actual value. So, to recap, Cardinals receive value (add pieces to help win WS Championship) Blue Jays perceive value (add Colby Rasmus). It really all does work out in the end because there is no way the Birds would have won with Colby on there roster, and he really isn’t ever going to be more than a center fielder on a third or fourth place team. So he’s right at home now.

    • “the Jays get a meddlesome,whiny, overrated kid who’s perceived value is much greater than that of his actual value”

      Now who’s talking about perceptions and assumptions? You perceive him much lower based on, what, a reputation fostered by beat writers and some second-hand stories? Careful, friend. You can’t have it both ways.

  8. Ok, then I choose the championship.

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