Bryan Smith takes a look at the Cardinals farm system -- and sees a collapse waiting to happen. Like the 1999 Yankees before them, the Cards have put everything they've got into getting pieces now, at the expense of wrecking their franchise's minors, recently rated by Baseball America as the worst system in baseball.
From the article:
In the end, the Cardinals might not be so lucky as the Yankees, who despite ignoring their minor league system, have given their fans those World Series appearances in addition to ten straight playoff appearances. Instead, the Cardinals might trip onto the same path that Brian Sabean currently finds himself on. After winning the 2002 NL Pennant with no dependency on youths, the Giants managed to enter the 2003 playoffs about even-money to repeat as National League champions. Instead, San Francisco lost to the Marlins in the first round, and have seen the walls come tumbling down since, finishing second in 2004 and likely fourth in 2005.
At some point the age curve always bites down, and teams that had spent years riding the peak find themselves inexplicably on the decline. By the time they realize what a difference a few prospects could've/should've made, it's too late. It's a slippery slope to the bottom, and unlike the Yankees, the Cardinals don't have the money to buy their ways off.