The Cardinals figured it out some time ago. The key to consistent success in Major League Baseball is to invest aggressively at the front end and spend more carefully at the back end.
Bill DeWitt Jr. saw where free agency pricing was headed and shifted his organization’s focus. The franchise overhauled its scouting process, escalated its commitment in Latin America and quit toeing the “slotting” line with top prospects in the amateur draft.
The Cardinals poured more resources into player development and reduced their need to purchase veteran help in a seller’s market. This allowed them to assemble greater depth and retain the flexibility to make year-to-year moves.
Other teams have figured it out as well. While the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies age before our eyes, the Braves, Dodgers and even the Orioles are threatening to reemerge with lots of home-grown pitchers and position players.