Only one player from the World Series roster, catcher Yadier Molina, remains on the team. The cardinals have been over .500 since – and even won a pennant in 2013 – but rivals have passed them.
"It's hard man," said second baseman Kolten Wong, who has played six seasons in St. Louis. "For me, all I knew when I first came to the big leagues was the playoffs every year. Going from it to not doing it the last three years, I'm itching to come back. Everyone deserves to come back and our fans deserve it more. "
In the seven seasons since 2011 – Albert Pujols last in St. Louis before signing the angels as a free agent ̵
Yet Goldschmidt, 31, is more than a power hitter. He has a .297 career average and five seasons of at least 15 stolen bases plus the three gold gloves. Before reporting to the camp, he spoke with coaches on the phone about the finer points in the base.
"He's actually launched them and they're not short conversations, and they're not forced," said Mike Shildt, leader. "He loves it, he's a baseball guy and he has the details."
Cardinals turned to Shildt, an organizational lifeguard, after beating Mike Matheny as manager last July. The players responded with a late press for a playoff spot that ended with 88 wins and a renewed sense of identity.
As an organization known for attention to fundamentals, it was remarkable for the cardinals to lead majors' mistakes. Yet, in the second half, they pledged strong defenders like second place Wong and Harrison Bader in the center, and in the winter they stabilized their bullpen with a two-year $ 25 million deal for Andrew Miller.