Success breeds success in Cardinals' youth movement

Thu Oct 3, 2013 7:38pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The postseason rise or fall of the St. Louis Cardinals could well rest on contributions from 10 rookies on their roster, but the National League's top seed are confident in them and their own winning culture.

Major League Baseball's Cardinals own 11 World Series trophies, the most hardware among National League teams, and their long string of achievement has roots in their minor league levels, with players groomed to expect success.

The Cardinals, who won the World Series in 2011 and 2006 and came within one win of reaching the Fall Classic last year, could use up to three young starting pitchers in the playoffs, a rookie closer and rookie slugger in their lineup as they open their postseason push against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"We've had so many young players who have come into St. Louis here ready, not to just be in the big leagues, but to contribute to a team that was in the fight from the beginning," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny himself is part of the youth movement as he was the major league's youngest active manager at age 41 when he replaced the retired Tony La Russa two years ago.

Adam Wainwright, who leads the pitching staff with 19 wins is at the top of the rotation followed by 24-year-old Lance Lynn, who won 15 games in his second season as a starter.

After that, Matheny can pick between 22-year-old rookie Shelby Miller (15-9), Joe Kelly, 25, (10-5) and 22-year-old Michael Wacha, who improved to 4-1 after coming within one out of pitching a no-hitter in the season-ending game.

Matheny, a former major league catcher who served as special assistant of development before being named manager, said the procession of potent young players was no accident and was in keeping with the Cardinal way.'   Continued...