During a closed-door meeting on Sunday evening, in which the Cardinals' failure to make a deal at the non-waiver trade deadline was discussed, Tony La Russa demanded that John Mozeliak make a trade for the 2004 Cardinals.
The subject was first broached by the Cardinal manager a few weeks before, during a meeting leading up to the trade deadline. La Russa had laid out his wish list for the Cards GM to shop for, with the need for a big bat taking priority.
La Russa felt the team needed help for the bullpen, and possibly one more starter, as well.
As he and Mozeliak were discussing what they could possibly expect to acquire, a solution suddenly presented itself to the longtime St. Louis manager.
"We'll trade for the 2004 team."
When Mozeliak expressed confusion, La Russa continued:
"The 2004 team had all the things we're looking for. I mean, guys like Edmonds, Pujols, and Rolen? It doesn't get any better than that. Izzy was outstanding for that team, and guys like Ray King and Steve Kline really helped to back him up. We should trade for the 2004 team."
La Russa wasted little time in making his plan public, announcing his proposal during a press conference soon after.
Many leading physicists were quick to decry his plan, claiming it would irrevocably damage the fabric of space and time to complete such a deal. Stephen Hawking in particular was highly critical of the proposed trade.
"Dealing for a past Cardinal team would be a gross violation of the Law of Conservation of Roster Talent," Hawking said, speaking from his home in Cambridge, England. "The amount of energy that such a trade would require to successfully pull off would be greater than a hundred supernovae.
"Plus, they would probably just get their asses handed to them by Boston again."
La Russa, though, is undaunted by such criticism.
"Look, you want to get talent, you've got to give something up in return. You want to bring in a Mark Mulder, you've got to be willing to move a Dan Haren. You want to get a 105-win team? Well, you're just going to have to destroy the universe. You can't just expect these things to fall in your lap."
More than anything, the Cardinal manager feels that the front office owes it to the players to try and improve the team.
"These guys have played their butts off this year," La Russa said last night in his office. "These guys have gone out there every night and given it a hard nine. They've competed day in, day out. We owe it to these players to replace them with a team that has a better chance of winning, and the 2004 Cardinals are that team."
As of press time, Mozeliak had contacted fromer Cards GM Walt Jocketty to at least discuss what the 2004 team would cost. Now Cincinnati's GM, Jocketty was decidedly lukewarm. However, Jocketty is currently involved in talks to ship out the Reds' farm system in return for Tim Hudson from Atlanta.
This isn't the first time La Russa has thought about benching an entire squad if they under-perform. In 2004, then-RFT writer Mike Seely wrote of the manager's "Manhattan Project."
The plan was to bring in aging Redbirds, many of them from the team's golden years of the 1980s, to replace the '04 squad if they struggled. Luckily for that '04 Cardinals team, they succeed (so much so that they won the pennant), and were not replaced by the likes of Tito Landrum, Dick Williams and Bob Horner.