Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Strauss: Wainwright, Cardinals Cement Faith in One Other

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Strauss: Wainwright, Cardinals Cement Faith in One Other

Article excerpt

Fighting emotion, he thanked his mother who raised him alone, his older brother who mentored him, his agent and his teammates.

He cited the contributions of his former pitching coaches, Dave Duncan and Marty Mason, and his current one, Derek Lilliquist. He thanked his former co-ace, Chris Carpenter, for teaching him about tenacity. He then hugged club chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak for a second time.

"I'm a hugger," Adam Wainwright said a bit haltingly.

Thursday morning Wainwright also became a Cardinal for life or at least into the winter of his career something that had to happen because anything else would have been wrong.

Yes, the Cardinals made Wainwright the highest-paid pitcher in franchise history by awarding him a five-year, $97.5 million contract extension that includes full no-trade protection. However, it's also true Waino could have cashed in more heavily by playing out his deal, filing for free agency in November and working the market.

To judge him by Thursday's words, that would have been his loss.

"It makes me feel I'm way too blessed more than I deserve," Wainwright said about continuing his career within sight of the Arch at Busch Stadium.

Coming from someone else the words might seem like so much hokum. However, Wainwright insisted talks be conducted without rancor and without becoming personal. Even when the talks' pace seemed to drag earlier this spring, an adult, Wainwright addressed the matter with a smile. "If it didn't work out, there were no hard feelings." If some wanted to attach his value to the five-year, $120 million deal signed by Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, let them. This wasn't about what comes first then squeezing the last nickel.

"I just realized I have complete peace about staying in St. Louis. That's worth more than a few extra dollars," Wainwright described shortly after leaving Roger Dean Stadium on Thursday afternoon. "The opportunity to keep Cardinal tradition alive means a tremendous amount to me. This is honest stuff. It's sincere. I'm not saying it because I feel any need to say it. If it wasn't true, the situation might be different."

As is, the $19.5 million per year average is the largest awarded any player in franchise history. There is no deferred money, a staple of previous mega-deals signed by three-time MVP Albert Pujols and left fielder Matt Holliday.

DeWitt referred to Wainwright as "a classic Cardinal." By reaching agreement, the Cardinals extend a lineage that runs from Darryl Kile through Carpenter pitchers also considered clubhouse leaders.

The Cardinals had to do this. Forget the entrenched narrative about an approaching tidal wave of young power arms rolling through the system. At 31, Wainwright projects stability, professionalism and a track record within a rotation that next year may feature three pitchers yet to reach arbitration. …

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