The St. Louis Cardinals are a Padres nemesis. You can't really call them a rival since they've dominated the Padres. Three times the teams have faced off in the postseason (1996, 2005 and 2006) and the Cardinals are 6-1 in those games. At times the Cardinals have also dominated the Padres during the regular season. At one point former Padres announcer Matt Vasgersian got thoroughly frustrated with the situation and accidentally broadcast a number of disparaging comments about the Cardinals and their fans. The Cardinals also had Albert Pujols for most of the 2000s who, in addition to hurting the Padres with his bat, has had multiple altercations with different Padres players.
The Padres also have a strange dynamic with regards to players who have changed uniform from one to the other.
- 1981 - Ozzie Smith, Steve Mura and Al Olmstead from the Padres to the Cardinals in exchange for Gary Templeton, Sexto Lezcano and Luis DeLeon:
Ozzie Smith went on to be a Hall of Famer and Gary Templeton was simply a decent contributor for many years. Sexto Lezcano had a really solid 1982 season for the Padres before they shipped him off to Philly and Luis DeLeon had two good years in relief before fizzling out. The Padres were basically forced to trade Ozzie Smith due to monitory reasons, so this wasn't exactly a pillaging, but just an interesting (and frustrating) piece of history.
- 2000 - Carlos Hernandez and a minor leaguer from the Padres to the Cardinals in exchange for Ben Johnson and Heathcliff Slocumb:
A salary dump where the Cardinals needed a catcher and the Padres needed to get rid of one of their regrettable contracts that got handed out after the great 1998 season. Carlos Hernandez didn't really provide the Cardinals with anything of value. Score one for the Padres.
- 2001 - Woody Williams from the Padres to the Cardinals in exchange for Ray Lankford and cash:
Woody Williams went on to have some great seasons for the Cardinals and pitched in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series. Ray Lankford was a means to an end in this salary dump and played a forgettable 121 games for the Padres before becoming a free agent and fading into oblivion.
- 2007 - Jim Edmonds from the Cardinals to the Padres in exchange for David Freese:
The Padres thought they were going to squeeze one last decent year out of Edmonds and gave up one of their lesser top prospects to acquire him. However, Edmonds' performance for the 2008 Padres was abysmal and they released him in early May. David Freese blossomed in the Cardinals minor leagues and became their starting 3B in 2010 and World Series hero in 2011.
- 2008 - Khalil Greene from the Padres to the Cardinals in exchange for Luke Gregerson and Mark Worrell: Khalil's emotional problems came to a head in St. Louis and his already declining career fizzled out in his one year there. The Padres developed Luke Gregerson into a top setup guy in what basically amounted to a steal. Mark Worrell got injured shortly after the trade and was later released.
- 2010 - Ryan Ludwick from the Padres to the Cardinals in exchange for minor league P Nick Greenwood and Corey Kluber. Kluber was then sent to the Indians in exchange for Jake Westbrook.: This originally looked like a good deal for the Padres. Ryan Ludwick, based on his recent performances, was supposed to be an upgrade to the bats the Padres had been using in LF. Instead, he struggled down the stretch and the Padres missed the playoffs by one game. Figuring that it was just bad luck, GM Jed Hoyer retained Ludwick for the 2011 season only to see him falter worse than he had the year before and at substantial cost. The Padres dealt him to the Pirates for cash considerations near the 2011 trade deadline.