DeWitt's vision of sustained success for Cards thriving
ST. LOUIS -- When he took over as principal owner in 1996, Bill DeWitt Jr. took his vision of sustained success and went about initiating an organizational rebuilding that has propelled the Cardinals to postseason prominence almost annually since the start of the century.
Under DeWitt, the Cardinals have advanced to the playoffs 12 times, moved onto the National League Championship Series 10 times and played in the World Series on four occasions. Their 63 postseason wins, which includes a 3-2 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Tuesday, since 2000 is the most among any team.
This is the first time under DeWitt or any other previous Cardinals owner that the franchise will have advanced to the NLCS in four consecutive seasons. Never before had the Cardinals even qualified for the postseason four years in a row.
"To do it four straight years is so impressive," DeWitt said. "It's a great team. [General manager John Mozeliak] has done a great job in constructing the roster, and Mike [Matheny], in his first three years, has gone to the NLCS three straight times. That's really special."
Since the introduction of the LCS, no other rookie manager in baseball history has guided his club that far in his first three seasons.
"I think Mike has done an amazing job," Mozeliak said. "He had to step in after following Tony La Russa, who just won a world championship, but he has this presence. He understands what this clubhouse is about and he embraces it."
Mozeliak, who took over as GM in October 2007, has helped build clubs that have won 90-plus games four times in the seven years with him at the post. The two years the Cardinals didn't advance to the postseason under him, the club still won 86 games.
Even before succeeding Walt Jocketty as GM, Mozeliak was an advocate for DeWitt's vision of trying to build the core of the club from within. Seventeen players on the Cardinals' NLDS playoff roster were homegrown talents. He helped bring in other key contributors via offseason signings (Jhonny Peralta, Pat Neshek) and midseason trades (John Lackey).
"I haven't had a lot of time to reflect on what this all means historically, but I think what it is really is a testament to our organization," Mozeliak said. "We made it a point to want to make sure that we could do this internally and have the depth to be successful by building within. You're seeing that pay off right now."