Only five members of the 2006 Cardinals World Series championship team -- Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Skip Schumaker -- remain with the organization as we get set to embark on the fifth season since the club's improbable victory.
Here's a look at where the players are now:
Starting Eight -
C - Yadier Molina was in his second season as the Redbirds' primary catcher. He's still going strong, turning from a .216 hitter in 2006 to a .284 hitter since the start of the 2007 campaign.
1B - Albert Pujols is still with the Cardinals, at least for one more season. He's gone from one of the best players in baseball to THE best player in baseball over the last four years. He's hit .330 with an average of 40 homers and 118 RBIs a season over the last four years and has landed a pair of MVP awards, three Silver Sluggers and four All-Star Game selections in that time.
2B - Aaron Miles made a second appearance with the Cardinals in 2010 after splitting in 2009 for a two-year contract with the Cubs. He was traded to Oakland and then landed in Cincinnati with former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty -- but he didn't stick in either place, never appearing in a game with those two clubs. Miles is presently a free agent. He has received some attention from the Nationals this off-season.
3B Scott Rolen infamously demanded a trade following the 2007 season and got it -- landing for a while with Toronto. But Jocketty raised a few eyebrows at the trade deadline in 2009 when he traded for the talented but brittle third sacker. It paid off in 2010 when Rolen helped lead the young Reds to a surprise win of the National League Central Division crown. He'll try to stay healthy and productive in Cincinnati this year on a team-friendly contract extension.
SS David Eckstein is not only no longer in St. Louis. He's no longer a shortstop. After a contract dispute with the Cardinals following the 2007 season -- he wanted a multi-year deal and the Birds offered a short-term contract -- Eckstein ended up signing a one-year pact with the Blue Jays. 2008 was his last year spent primarily at short. He was traded late in the season to Arizona where he was converted to second base and he spent 2009 and 2010 with San Diego where he remained at the keystone position.
LF So Taguchi has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He won a title with the Cardinals in 2006 then landed in Philadelphia where he won another ring in 2008. Of course, his magic couldn't do anything for the Cubs who gave him a contract in 2009, his last season in the majors.
CF Jim Edmonds finally got his ring after watching his former teammates with the Angels get one a few years before. Thought to be a free agent goner after the season, Jocketty surprisingly signed him to a two-year contract extension instead of picking up his option. Edmonds, facing reduced playing time in 2008, was traded to the Padres for a minor leaguer named David Freese. Things turned ugly when Jimmy Ballgame was released by San Diego and he chose to sign with the rival Cubs and then he and manager Tony La Russa started a public war of words about the ugly divorce between the player and his longtime team. In 2010 he approached the Cardinals about a reunion but it didn't work out. After spending most of the season in Milwaukee, he ended up with the Reds. He's said to still be weighing whether he'll play in 2011.
RF Juan Encarnacion had his career ended in the Cardinals on-deck circle in 2007. A ball fouled off the bat of Miles as he tried to check his swing hit Encarnacion in the face, severely damaging his eye. Encarnacion has basically disappeared since then, reportedly refusing attempts by the Redbirds to contact him.
RHP Chris Carpenter fought back from an injury to his elbow on opening day 2007 that caused him to miss that season and almost all of the next one. But in 2009 he was back in form and was a serious contender for the Cy Young Award. He is under contract by the Cardinals through 2011 and the club holds an option for 2012.
RHP Jeff Weaver pitched the best game of his life when it counted the most -- the clinching game of the World Series. He was a ground ball machine who seemed to have a razor focus on the task at hand all night long. After struggling for the previous couple of seasons and then suddenly finding success under the watchful eye of pitching coach Dave Duncan, you'd think Weaver wouldn't want to upset the apple cart. But he refused to take a short term contract from the Cardinals and defected to Seattle where he promptly resumed stinking it up with a 6-13 record and a 6.20 ERA. He's spent the last two seasons in the Dodgers bullpen.
RHP Jeff Suppan was a star in the 2006 National League Championship Series with both his arm and his bat. But he left the Cardinals in 2007 to take a four-year contract with the division rival Brewers. He went downhill quickly in Milwaukee and was basically booed out of town before being released and signing on with St. Louis in 2010 as an emergency replacement for injured starters Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse. He last week signed a minor league contract with the Giants with an invitation to spring training.
RHP Anthony Reyes was another Cardinals starter who pitched the game of his life on the game's biggest stage. He beat the Tigers in game one of the series and gave those of us who watched for three years as he struggled to become a consistent major league pitcher a measure of hope. Reyes was eventually basically given away to Cleveland after butting heads with La Russa and Duncan. He had Tommy John Surgery last year and re-signed a minor league contract with the tribe in the fall.
RHP Jason Marquis was another headbutter, fighting with the skipper and pitching coach until he was left off the World Series roster. Marquis signed a ridiculous contract with the Cubs after his St. Louis departure and skipped to the Rockies after that. He missed most of last season with arm problems, but he is currently under contract with the Nationals where he expects to make a comeback in 2011.
Adam Wainwright was the closer during the 2006 post season because of an injury to Jason Isringhausen. Although we all remember him throwing his arms in the air in celebration after striking out Carlos Beltran to beat the Mets in the NLCS, in 2007 Wainwright was back in the rotation where he has remained ever since, a finalist for the Cy Young Award the last two seasons. Izzy signed with Tampa where he had trouble staying healthy after his stay in St. Louis. In 2010 he tried to come back with the Reds and an injury derailed his attempt. He'd like a chance to get the seven saves he needs to reach 300 for his career. But the odds look slim that he'll get a chance at 38 years old.
Josh Kinney was a much needed bullpen lift in 2006. But he suffered a couple of terrible arm injuries in 2007 and 2008. He made the Cardinals opening day roster in 2009 but struggled with control issues and returned to the minors. He left the Cardinals system after the 2010 season and signed last month with the White Sox.
Josh Hancock was killed in 2007 in a latenight crash in which he -- while under the influence of alocohol -- crashed into the back of a flatbed tow truck assisting a stranded motorist on the interstate.
Braden Looper pitched with the Cardinals through 2008 when the team didn't make a contract offer to keep his services. He played in 2009 with the Brewers and then walked away from the game when he didn't get a contract to his liking in 2010. Looper, 36, is said to be willing to listen to offers to pitch in 2011. But, so far, he has no deal.
Randy Flores was let go by the Cardinals after a rough 2008 season. He appeared in 27 games with the Rockies in 2009 and spent the bulk of the 2010 season with the Rockies before ending up with the Twins. He is currently a free agent.
Tyler Johnson suffered an arm injury in 2007 and hasn't appeared in the majors since. He was signed to a minor league deal with the Mariners in the meantime but was released in June.
Chris Duncan was a popular Cardinals whipping boy for his shoddy outfield play and his mounting strikeout totals before he was dealt to the Red Sox organization in 2009 for Julio Lugo. He was released by Boston and later signed with the Nationals. He is currently a free agent.
Scott Spiezio keyed the Redbirds' push for the Central Division title in 2006 with a key game-winning triple against the Brewers. In 2007 he fled the Cardinals clubhouse in a bizarre scene that landed him in rehab for substance abuse. After he left the Cardinals, Spiezio attempted a comeback in the Atlanta system but it was very short-lived. He has played independent league baseball since then, spending the 2010 season with the Newark Bears. But he is not currently listed on that club's roster.
Ronnie Belliard looked like he was toast in 2006, although he made a great play deep in the hole at short against the Padres to help the Birds win in the first round of the playoffs. But he has managed to hang on since then he has found new life as a utilityman, playing all over the infield. He was with the Nationals for a while, but spent the last year and a half playing for the Dodgers.
Preston Wilson, on the other hand, dropped like a rock. He manged only 64 at bats with the 2007 Cardinals and was released. He has been out of baseball since then, although he was only 32 at the time.
Larry Bigbie is mentioned here because he is such an interesting story. His last major league appearance was his 25 Cardinals at bats in 2006. But he's been attracting the attention of major league scouts lately because of his 2010 appearance with the Edmonton Cracker Cats in the Golden Baseball League. There he hit .403 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs. If he was able to stage a significant comeback it would be the biggest thing of its sort since Rick Ankiel became an outfielder.
Skip Schumaker had 54 at bats in the 2006 season. He remains with the Cardinals after a position switch prior to the 2009 season from the outfield to second base.
Gary Bennett has been out of baseball since he spent 2008 with the Dodgers. Shortly after he was named in the Mitchell Report as a performance enhancing drug user -- charges he admitted -- he went on the DL with foot problems and never returned. The highlight of his career was late August 2006 when he hit four homers in a week, most notably a game-winning grand slam against the Cubs.
John Rodriguez had 183 at bats for the 2006 Cardinals and hit .301. But it was the last time he was seen at the major league level. Derisively nicknamed AAA Rod, he hit .261 for the Yankees top farm club in 2009 and spent last season playing in the Mexican League.