In the MLB, players are always on the move. Through trades and free agency, it is nearly impossible to keep all the fan favorites under one roof. For me, every once and awhile, it is fun to check in on some of those departed favorites, appraising their current status and reminiscing about their days with the Cards.
Frequently, fans attach themselves to certain players and managers, investing a shocking amount of emotion their successes and failures. While this certainly enhances the overall fan experience, it can lead to extreme disappointment when a favored player exits your franchise of choice.
Interestingly, though, it seems that the sting of losing a famed player is, for the most part, extremely temporary. While devastation may set in upon reading that dreaded tweet or news headline, the player quickly becomes out of sight, out of mind.
In some cases, things occur differently. For example, if a player joins a rival, of course their departure remains more relevant. Jon Jay and Jason Heyward fall into this category.
Obviously, this list could contain far more than five players. To make selection even easier, I tried to pick departed players who had higher end WAR (relatively) during their time in St. Louis.
Jaime Garcia has gotten a lot of publicity as of late, but I feel he has to be a part of this list. Garcia, as most of you obviously know, pitched in St. Louis for 8 seasons. During his best season in 2011, he posted a 3.4 WAR, winning 13 games and posting a 3.56 ERA. Since that season, Garcia struggled to truly put together full seasons, leading to his exit after 2016.
Since his exit from St. Louis, Garcia has been a part of 3 organizations. He began the year in Atlanta, was traded to Minnesota, and finally made his way to the Yankees just recently. A bumpy ride for Garcia, he has posted a 5-8 record across those three clubs, once again struggling to find a groove.
While he was an integral part of some great Cardinals teams, it is surely safe to say it was correct to move on. While there is a lack of left-handed pitching in the system, his performance was simply not up to par any longer.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 4, 2017
Although he really fell off last season, Holliday was undoubtedly a great Cardinal. In his best season (2010), he was second on the team in WAR (6.2), only to the great Albert Pujols (6.8). That year, he slashed .312/.390/.532, hitting 28 home runs and driving in 103 runs. The second member of a lethal one-two punch, Holliday continued to play well thereafter.
Also notable, Holliday was an integral piece of the 2011 World Series Champion Cardinals. For that simple reason, he will always be seen in positive light in St. Louis.
Since his departure last season, Holliday went to the Bronx, where he has been a decent pickup. While he certainly is not hitting for average, he has hit 16 home runs and driven in 51 home runs, no small feat in this power driven league.
Although it may be muddied by a truly disappointing 2015 campaign, Jay was a great Cardinal. Hitting .300, .297, .305, .276, and .303 across 5 seasons of work, he was extremely consistent. His power numbers were not ideal, hitting 29 total during his time at Busch stadium, however he did just about everything else well. He was a solid pro, grinding it out and putting up good numbers year in and year out.
After 2015, though, the Cardinals traded Jay for Jedd Gyorko, gaining a huge power boost in the process. For Jay, perhaps he benefited from the change of scenery, returning to his previous form that very year. He catapulted back up to around the .300 range (.291), where he remains today.
Speaking of today, Jay has played his 2017 ball for the enemy. As a Chicago Cub, he has, at times, been their best player, showing true consistency on a team that has struggled with just that. He is currently slashing .300/.389/.387, playing solid, heady baseball and playing an integral role in their quest for the playoffs.
Perhaps the most interesting case on this list, Adams has truly transformed himself over the past year. Coming off an injury-plagued 2016, the Cardinals traded a skinny Adams to the Braves after 31 games. If you were like me, the trade did not really seem like much. Especially with Matt Carpenter serving as the permanent first baseman, it just wasn’t a big deal. On top of that, I anticipated that Adams would fall from grace in Atlanta, becoming less and less relevant as he got lost in the mix.
Much to the contrary, Adams has had one of his best seasons to date. Aside from his 2014 campaign, in which he posted a 2.2 WAR and a .288 average, he is truly playing his best ball. Perhaps most interestingly, Adams is on pace to surpass his career high for home runs, already having hit 15 in 2017. Previously, his high was 17. In an ironic fashion, the skinnier Adams is hitting for more power.