All posts by Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.

Cardinals Sign Ian Bedell to Complete Week-Ending 4-for-4 Streak

photo: Ian Bedell (Ballengee Group)

No one should complain if St. Louis Cardinals assistant general manager and director of scouting Randy Flores and his top assistant Tyler Hadzinsky take the upcoming weekend off.

They have earned the break.

On Friday afternoon, the club announced its fourth addition in four days, which also completes the organization’s 2020 draft class. The final signee is fourth-round draft pick Ian Bedell. The right-handed pitcher, taken 122nd overall, hails from Davenport, Iowa and the University of Missouri.

Bedell inked his contract at Busch Stadium on Friday.

“With the signing of Ian Bedell, we are pleased to announce that our entire 2020 Draft class has agreed to terms,” Flores said. “Although we are still working through what the immediate future holds for their development, we are very excited for the next steps of their careers in the Cardinals organization.”

Ian Bedell

As reported by Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Bedell’s signing bonus is $800,000 – substantially above the slot amount for the 122nd overall pick of $469,000. The difference was made up by the organization’s decision to allow Flores to overspend his total signing budget by five percent, which he did.

A reason for the overslot spend is that Bedell’s talent was considered higher than his draft spot. According to Baseball America, he was the 105th ranked player in the draft, while MLB Pipeline placed him no. 88. Another data point is that an $800,000 slot value would have been between the no. 77 and no. 78 spots in this draft.

After a 1.56 ERA as a sophomore at Mizzou, Bedell topped it with a 0.59 ERA in the top summer prospect circuit, the Cape Cod League. However, his draft standing may have slipped after a poor start to his virus-shortened 2020 junior season.

Ian Bedell (University of Missouri)

With the formalization of the long-rumored agreement with Bedell, St. Louis has completed its signing of all seven 2020 draft picks.  Other above-slot signings were pitcher-shortstop Masyn Winn and pitcher Tink Hence. The organization also picked up eight non-drafted free agents, for a total of 15 new additions.


Related articles

To learn about Bedell’s skills and background:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

For details on Bedell’s no. 31 placement on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List:

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Predicting the St. Louis Cardinals’ 60-Man Player Pool for 2020


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce Signing of Second-Rounder Tink Hence

photo: the Hence family (Tink Hence)

The St. Louis Cardinals made it three days in a row, signing top picks from the draft Class of 2020 as well as fresh from their respective high school graduation classes.

On Thursday afternoon, the club announced the signing of second-round draft pick Tink Hence, taken 63rd overall. The 17-year old right-handed pitcher hails from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The University of Arkansas commit is the sixth of seven selections to come to terms with St. Louis.

Hence’s 63rd overall spot is a Competitive Balance Selection acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade that also included prospect pitcher Matthew Liberatore joining the Cardinals. Heading to the Rays were the 37th overall selection along with outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena.

Hence’s signing bonus has not been disclosed but this article will be updated once that information is disclosed. The slot amount for the 63rd overall pick is $1,076,300.

Tink Hence

Coming into the day, the two remaining St. Louis draft picks to be signed were Hence and fourth-round selection Ian Bedell. Both are overslot candidates and are expected to sign. Including a potential five percent overage on their total signing budget, the Cardinals had about $375,000 extra to work with to complete contracts with their full draft class.

In addition, the Cardinals signed eight non-drafted free agents so have 14 of their 15 newest additions on board. Bedell is expected to follow soon.

Update from Friday morning, June 26

Related articles

To learn about Hence’s skills and background:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

For details on Hence’s background and journey to date:

Pitcher Tink Hence – “The Quiet Assassin”

For details on Hence’s no. 19 placement on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List:

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Tentative 2020 Plans for Multiple Camps


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce Signing of Second-Rounder Masyn Winn

Brandyn Harris, Masyn Winn, Tiffany Rawson, Earl Luckett, Andrew Guerra (Masyn Winn photo)

As they did the day before, the St. Louis Cardinals delivered good news on Wednesday, introducing their latest 2020 draft signee. This time, the honoree was shortstop-right-handed pitcher Masyn Winn, taken in the second round, 54th overall.

Following recent custom, the team made a public social media announcement while members of the media participated in a video conference with Winn and Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores.

In his opening remarks, Flores characterized Winn as “infectious and driven”. The player noted he takes on a different demeanor depending on whether he is playing shortstop (“high engine”, “talking all the time”) versus pitching (“quietly focused”).

Winn added, “I am grateful for the chance to play two ways,” adding that dual opportunity is “the cherry on top”. He has played with unsigned Cardinals second-round draft pick Tink Hence, who he calls a “great dude” who he “really talks to a lot”. Winn also has a friendship with Cardinals 2019 second-rounder Trejyn Fletcher.

Masyn Winn

As reported by Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Winn’s signing bonus is $2,100,000 – substantially above the slot amount for the 54th overall pick of $1,338,500. The difference was made up by four earlier underslot signings – Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson, Levi Prater and A.J. Jones IV.

Winn’s family and his agent, Andrew Guerra of Roc Nation Sports, accompanied him to St. Louis. Visitors include his brother Brandyn Harris, mother Tiffany Rawson and stepfather Earl Luckett.

Other remaining St. Louis draft picks to be signed are Hence and fourth-round selection Ian Bedell. Both are overslot candidates and are expected to come to terms with the team. With a potential five percent overage on their total signing budget, the Cardinals have about $375,000 extra to work with to complete contracts with the final two members of their seven-player 2020 draft class.

Related articles

To learn about Winn’s skills and background:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

For details on Winn’s no. 12 placement on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List:

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sorting out Major League Baseball’s Rules for 2020

On Tuesday evening, Major League Baseball announced that the 2020 season will begin on July 23 or 24 and each team will play 60 games, with no fans in attendance. The target for the conclusion of the regular season is September 27.

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) made a companion announcement that all remaining issues have been resolved, while accepting the league’s health and safety protocols, and noting that players will report to camps.

Players are scheduled to arrive in their home cities starting on July 1 (pitchers and catchers first) with Spring Training 2.0 to begin on July 3. A limited number of exhibition games may be allowed near the end of camp.

Teams are expected to play 40 regular season games within their division and the other 20 vs. the same division in the other league. Natural rivals (the Royals and the Cardinals, for example) will meet six times. There are no double-headers planned, though that is likely the path to reschedule postponed games. However, this schedule is tentative until MLBPA approval and is slated to be released to the public on Friday, June 26.

Spring training rosters can include up to 60 players, including some or all of the 40-man roster. These 60 players must be identified by Sunday, June 28.

The season will open with 30-man rosters, dropping to 28 15 days later and the normal 26 at 28 days into the season. There is no mandated pitcher-position player split and no September expanded rosters. Per the March agreement, players will receive a full prorated portion of their annual salary based on team games played. This is approximately 37 percent of the full season (60/162).

Remaining players will train on a taxi squad in an alternate location (Springfield, MO for the Cardinals) with up to three taxi squadders allowed to travel with the MLB team on the road (must include one catcher). Taxi squad members will not receive MLB service time and will be paid salary at their minor league rate.

There will be a separate COVID-19 injured list of no minimum or maximum duration. The regular injured lists for all players will be 10 days and 45 days (rather than 60), respectively.

Players may opt out of the season if they are part of a high risk group and would receive salary and service time. If people the players live with or come into regular contact with are high risk and the player does not want to play, salary and service time will be a team judgment call, with an appeal process. Other players may also opt out, but will not be paid. Owners backed off an earlier request for players to sign an “acknowledgement of risk” form which would have limited MLB’s liability.

MLB has the right to relocate teams to neutral site locations due to health and safety concerns, including in the post-season.

Following pre-camp screening, temperatures and symptoms will checked at least twice daily. All Tier 1 individuals, including all uniform personnel as well as trainers and strength coaches, will take saliva tests every other day. All others will be tested multiple times weekly. Anyone who tests positive will be quarantined and two negative tests will be required prior to return.

Players will be prohibited from arriving at the ballpark more than five hours prior to game time and staying longer than 90 minutes afterward. Reporters must leave the ballpark within one hour upon conclusion of post-game interviews.

The health and safety protocols also indicate that spitting, smokeless tobacco and sunflower seeds are prohibited. So are high fives, fist bumps and hugs. Fighting is also expressly prohibited, with threats of “severe discipline”.

Pitchers licking their fingers is prohibited. They will be permitted to carry a “wet rag” in their pocket to moisten their fingers.

Rule changes for 2020 only include a runner placed on second base to open all extra innings (to shorten extended games in the regular season only) and the universal designated hitter, with the latter oddly implemented as a health and safety matter.

The trade deadline will be August 31, with post-season eligibility based on rosters as of September 15. There will be no expanded playoffs, with the standard 10-team structure continuing for 2020.

Radio broadcasters will permitted to attend road games, but television crews are not expected to travel, and would call games from a neutral video feed provided by the home network. Reporters will be allowed in ballparks, but player access is expected to be via video chat.

Potential grievances to be filed by players and owners would occur in the background and not disrupt 2020 play. The MLBPA may take exception to the season being shorter than possible while the owners may claim bad faith in the negotiations.

As part of the health and safety protocols, MLB is separating personnel into three tiers:
Tier 1 – Players, coaches, trainers, doctors, physical therapists
Tier 2 – Clubhouse attendants, Baseball Operations employees, PR staff, groundskeepers, security
Tier 3 – Replay crew, cleaners, camera operators, reporters

Tier 1 – All-access
Tier 2 – Access to restricted areas but must keep distance from Tier 1 people and wear PPE
Tier 3 – No access to restricted areas – cannot exceed 150 people

Important disclaimer: There have been no formal announcements of most of these items. The comments here are summarizing multiple social media entries from media members and could include inadvertent errors. Updates will be made as required.


Related article – with events back to March 1

St. Louis Cardinals COVID-19 Time Line


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce Signing of First-Rounder Jordan Walker

photo: Katrina, Jordan and Derek Walker (Randy Flores/St. Louis Cardinals)

On Tuesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of first-round draft pick Jordan Walker, taken 21st overall. The 18-year old third baseman is in St. Louis to complete his physical exam and put pen to paper.

The club made dual announcements via social media as well as in a media session hosted by President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak and Amateur Scouting Director Randy Flores.

Walker’s signing bonus is $2.9 million, according to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, under the slot amount of $3.13 million. Including cost savings with three earlier picks signed and a potential five percent overage, the Cardinals have over $1,100,000 extra to work with.

Jordan Walker

In The Cardinal Nation’s updated Top 50 Prospect Rankings for the system, Walker initially slotted in at number 7 overall.

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings

Other remaining St. Louis draft picks to be signed are second-rounders Masyn Winn and Tink Hence and fourth-round selection Ian Bedell. All three are overslot candidates.

“I would say in the near future we are optimistic that those will be wrapped up,” Flores said Tuesday.

This year’s signing deadline is August 1.


Related articles

To learn about the power-hitting Walker’s skills:

Cardinals Select Jordan Walker in 2020 MLB Draft’s First Round

To learn about the young man himself:

Jordan Walker’s Play Speaks for Itself, but his Prep Coach Adds More


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Unable to Find Valid Logic to Trade Jack Flaherty

photo: Jack Flaherty (David Kohl/Imagn)

As the negotiations for the 2020 season became increasingly acrimonious and prolonged, a number of Major League Baseball players spoke out in support of their union’s bargaining positions.

Jack Flaherty (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

One of them is St. Louis Cardinals’ ace right-hander Jack Flaherty. Still four years away from free agency based on the current Cooperative Bargaining Agreement between owners and players, the 24-year old has been in the phase of his career in which production and pay are most mismatched. Specifically, the under-three year player has no choice but to accept any above-minimum salary offer tendered by his team.

The last two seasons, Flaherty respectfully declined to accept the team’s salary assignment, so was docked another $10,000 for his intransigence. He is one year away from his first of three seasons during which his salary can be decided by an arbitration panel if he and the team do not see his annual value similarly.

This is also the point in a young Cardinals player’s career where, if he is considered a core player, the team typically makes a long-term offer to cover the three arbitration years plus a free agent year or two, perhaps as team options. This has occurred a number of times over the years, back to Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and more recently with Paul DeJong (and perhaps Kolten Wong next).

However, against the backdrop of Flaherty’s ongoing dissatisfaction with baseball’s compensation system, a number of observers (including this writer) feel that he would not entertain a long-term contract initiative – unless perhaps the money was so extraordinary he absolutely could not refuse.

Given that Bill DeWitt Jr. is still leading the Cardinals, the scope of such a proposal would almost certainly be generous, but not record-breaking and precedent-setting. In other words, Flaherty’s salaries for the next three years (2021-2023) are likely to be set on an annual basis, perhaps decided via hearings.

The entire situation led to some recent ripples of social media dissatisfaction and the Belleville News-Democrat even published a column entitled:

“If Jack Flaherty is just about money, the St. Louis Cardinals should trade him — now.”

As Lance Berkman sagely noted as a Cardinal back in 2011, “It is always about the money. No matter what people say, it is always about the money.” Anyone who believes otherwise is living in the even further distant past.

Despite this, this idea of dealing Flaherty became a hot topic on local talk radio. Here is a prominent example, backed up by some very interesting poll results.

Amazingly, almost one-quarter of over 7,200 voters in this twitter poll would be in favor of a Flaherty trade – in a very specific context.

The matter eventually migrated to The Cardinal Nation’s free forum, where a long-time poster asked readers their view of Flaherty’s current trade value.

When no explanation was provided as to why moving Flaherty out would be considered, the silence led me to do it myself. I evaluated four scenarios under which Flaherty might be traded.

After doing so, my conclusion is that none of the four make anywhere near enough sense to consider dealing away the team’s ace.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1) He is a troublemaker!

If the underlying reason to consider a trade is Flaherty’s support of the union in compensation matters, think of the number of players across MLB who have also spoken out this year. If teams were to retaliate against outspoken players, a significant percentage of MLB rosters would be changing uniforms – but which teams would take them?

It is pretty difficult to guess on a trade package without knowing which teams would be willing to take on vocal union supporters as other teams are ridding themselves of them. Of course, another assumption is that the Cardinals would be among the retaliating teams, for which there seems no shred of supporting suspicion.

It is important to remember that Flaherty has directed no acrimony toward the Cardinals or team officials.

2) He is going to leave, anyway!

Another potential reason for trading Flaherty would be a fear of him eventually leaving as a free agent. But since that is four years away under current rules, giving up what look to be very good years ahead at a well below market salary seems a really bad idea, especially for a team not tanking, but expecting to contend each season.

Maybe it would be worth revisiting in three years from now – or sooner if free agent rules and compensation changes are enacted in the next CBA. Also, one can hope that by then, the lingering problems from 2020 will be past and the baseball labor market will settle into normalcy (whatever that will be).

3) Use him to get Arenado!

Nolan Arenado (Allan Henry/Imagn)

Because of Flaherty’s success, relatively low salary and relatively long window before free agency, he is sure to appeal to other teams. The Cardinals might be motivated to trade him to scoop up a high-salaried star from one of the clubs looking to save money, an especially relevant thought in MLB’s current cash-strapped economic climate. (This is a generic Arenado scenario.)

The reason this idea does not hold water is that if Mr. DeWitt did not want to add more payroll in normal times, why would he change direction now? It has already been presented by DeWitt that the Cardinals are more dependent on game-day revenues than most teams – a tap that is completely shut off for 2020. One can only speculate what 2021 and beyond will look like.

Acquiring Arenado – with or without Flaherty in the deal – is not impossible – just extremely unlikely.

4) Sell high!

A fear that Flaherty’s strong 2019 on the mound was an aberration could be another trade driver. But does anyone actually think that Flaherty peaked at age 23?

A poster at TCN’s forum noted that Flaherty’s 5.7 bWAR was exactly half of the 2019 rotation’s 11.4 bWAR total. This placed St. Louis 12th in MLB. However, with a 2.0 bWAR average rotation replacement for Flaherty, the Cardinals staff would have slid to a below-average 20th spot in baseball.

As is the case with these other scenarios, the idea of trading Flaherty, despite any possible motivation, is highly, highly questionable.

We can only hope that live baseball will resume soon, leaving imaginary trades like this one as quaint relics from a time in which there was not enough real news to discuss that some people devised their own – complete with faux outrage!

When games do resume, enjoy Flaherty’s mound mastery!


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Finalize Contract with Draft Pick Levi Prater

photo: Levi Prater (The OU Daily)

The St. Louis Cardinals’ third-round draft pick in 2020, University of Oklahoma junior left-handed pitcher Levi Prater, finalized his first professional contract on Friday evening, the team announced.

Prater will celebrate his 21st birthday on Saturday. The amount of his signing bonus is not yet available. The slot value for his pick, 93rd overall, is $627,900, but I predict his deal will be at or below that number.

Update: Prater signed for $575,000, per MLB Pipeline.

Levi Prater

For full details on Prater’s background and offerings, check out the following article.

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

The Cardinals have now officially signed three of their seven selections from the draft along with eight non-drafted free agents. Prior deals announced are with a pair of outfielders, Alec Burleson (70th overall) and fifth-rounder, L.J. Jones IV, both of whom accepted under-slot bonuses.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reports that the Cardinals also have an agreement in place with their fourth-round selection, pitcher Ian Bedell. The former University of Missouri right-hander is expected to receive a signing bonus above than his slot value, so it may be announced later after other deals are done.

The three selections that remain are the team’s top three, expected to be the most expensive to sign – all high schoolers. They are first-round third baseman Jordan Walker, and second-rounders Masyn Winn and Tink Hence. The Cardinals have approximately $850,000 of additional cap space currently, including a potential five percent overage.

The deadline to sign draft picks is August 1 and with no baseball being played this season, the urgency is somewhat lessened. Ultimately, the Cardinals are expected to sign all seven draftees.


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Pitcher Tink Hence – “The Quiet Assassin”


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings

photo: Jordan Walker (Perfect Game Baseball)

Normally, The Cardinal Nation features monthly in-season updates to our St. Louis Cardinals top 50 prospect list. However, with no minor league games being played in 2020, there has been no reason to make adjustments – until this month’s First-Year Player Draft.

During the annual event, held on June 10-11 and limited to five rounds, the Cardinals made seven selections. In our placement of the new draftees into our existing top 50, we are assuming for now that all will be signed.

Our process was for TCN analyst Derek Shore and me to separately place the draftees into the site top 50 for 2020, which we had developed during the off-season. Our two scores for each draft pick were averaged and that spot was where the players were placed on the overall list. (In one case, a tie was broken by the best individual ranking.)

As you can imagine, a lot of thought went into our individual rankings – and there were some significant differences of opinion. The first six draftees made the new top 50.

Following for all readers are the basics – the rankings themselves.  The new and old lists are presented side by side, with the draftees’ names in bold.

Rk New top 50 Prior 
1 Dylan Carlson Dylan Carlson
2 Nolan Gorman Nolan Gorman
3 Matthew Liberatore Matthew Liberatore
4 Elehuris Montero Elehuris Montero
5 Andrew Knizner Andrew Knizner
6 Ivan Herrera Ivan Herrera
7 Jordan Walker Zack Thompson
8 Zack Thompson Jake Woodford
9 Jake Woodford Angel Rondon
10 Angel Rondon Junior Fernandez
11 Junior Fernandez Genesis Cabrera
12 Masyn Winn Jhon Torres
13 Genesis Cabrera Malcom Nuñez
14 Jhon Torres Johan Oviedo
15 Malcom Nuñez Justin Williams
16 Johan Oviedo Trejyn Fletcher
17 Justin Williams Edmundo Sosa
18 Trejyn Fletcher open
19 Tink Hence Luken Baker
20 Edmundo Sosa Kodi Whitley
21 Luken Baker Julio Rodriguez
22 Kodi Whitley Alvaro Seijas
23 Julio Rodriguez Griffin Roberts
24 Alvaro Seijas Tony Locey
25 Griffin Roberts Mateo Gil
26 Tony Locey open
27 Mateo Gil Andre Pallante
28 Andre Pallante Jack Ralston
29 Jack Ralston Alex FaGalde
30 Alex FaGalde Justin Toerner
31 Ian Bedell Seth Elledge
32 Alec Burleson Evan Mendoza
33 Justin Toerner Delvin Perez
34 Seth Elledge Rangel Ravelo
35 Levi Prater Steven Gingery
36 Evan Mendoza Edgar Escobar
37 Delvin Perez Conner Capel
38 Rangel Ravelo Tommy Parsons
39 Steven Gingery Brendan Donovan
40 Edgar Escobar Juan Yepez
41 Conner Capel Evan Kruczynski
42 Tommy Parsons John Nogowski
43 Brendan Donovan Pedro Pages
44 Juan Yepez Francisco Justo
45 Evan Kruczynski Max Schrock
46 John Nogowski Kramer Robertson
47 Pedro Pages Ludwin Jimenez
48 Francisco Justo Patrick Romeri
49 Max Schrock Brady Whalen
50 Kramer Robertson Bryan Dobzanski
off Ludwin Jimenez
off Patrick Romeri
off Brady Whalen
off Bryan Dobzanski

For much, much more

For those who are members of The Cardinal Nation (and we greatly appreciate your ongoing support), Derek and I have explained the whys and wherefores of our placements in significant detail in the following article.

Placing Cardinals 2020 Draftees Among the System’s Top 50 Prospects


For more

If you want to share your thoughts, please head over to The Cardinal Nation’s free message board.

As more signings are announced and roster information evolves, it will be noted on team rosters (located via the ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES menu in the left column) as well as on the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation. The latter source also is tracking the status of all draftees and non-drafted free agent signings.

To go deeper on the Cardinals draft class and the free agents signed following, check out the following free articles:

Cardinals Select Jordan Walker in 2020 MLB Draft’s First Round

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

St. Louis Cardinals Augment 2020 Draft with Free Agents

Cardinals Continue Non-Drafted Free Agent Signings


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter. Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mr. Jones Becomes a Cardinal

photo: LJ Jones IV (Long Beach State University)

The second of seven 2020 St. Louis Cardinals draftees to be signed, fifth-round outfielder L.J. Jones, has come to terms with the team on his first professional contract.

This comes on the heels of Monday’s announcement of the signing of outfielder Alec Burleson.

Jones, 20, endured an injury-plagued career at Long Beach State University, but offers the Cardinals power potential, a commodity the system has been lacking in recent years. The right-handed hitter will likely require more minor league seasoning than Burleson, however.

LJ Jones IV

To read The Cardinal Nation’s full scouting report on Jones, including video, refer to the following article.

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

The pool amount for Jones’ fifth-round spot is $350,300. Though the Cardinals do not disclose signing bonuses, I would not be surprised if Jones received less than slot value, with the team redeploying that spending on the remaining five unsigned selections.

Update

Later Tuesday evening, Jones’ signing terms were disclosed.

As I expected, Jones was a money-saving pick for the Cardinals. Between Burleson and Jones, the organization has banked around $450,000 they can use on some combination of the remaining five unsigned draft picks. To that can be added another $400,000 if the Cards decide to overspend their total allotment by five percent.

This year’s signing deadline is August 1.


Other news

Also on Tuesday afternoon, the organization formally announced the addition of eight non-drafted free agents, whose signing had been previously disclosed.

Details about all eight free agents signed by St. Louis this week can be found in these two articles.

St. Louis Cardinals Augment 2020 Draft with Free Agents

Cardinals Continue Non-Drafted Free Agent Signings

As is the case for all of the other draftees and free agent signings, the chances of them playing their first official baseball games in 2020 as professionals seem murky at best.


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Seasons – 1963-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Does Major League Baseball Consider Itself Bulletproof?

photo: Bill DeWitt Jr. and Rob Manfred (Jeff Roberson/AP)

I feel pretty comfortable in asserting that everyone even slightly involved with Major League Baseball is disappointed over the delays in owners and players coming to agreement on the structure of the 2020 season.

Unlike prior labor disagreements in baseball, when general fan sentiment seemed to be in support of ownership, the owners are taking a beating in the court of public opinion this time around.

Even so, it seems like some MLB team officials are not attuned to the depth of fan concerns aimed in their direction. It appears that they believe the game is bulletproof.

Misreading their customers?

I have little doubt that St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. could demonstrate a view of the books that would back up his assertion that baseball “isn’t very profitable.” Even so, using no more powers than simple common sense, most people suspect that when taking all of their related businesses into account, baseball is in fact a very good investment. DeWitt, a savvy and successful entrepreneur, has owned the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a quarter of a century and is one of the game’s most influential owners.

Chicago Cubs board chairman Tom Ricketts was recently quoted as saying the potential for losses this year are “biblical’ in scope. Again, one can imagine such a case being possible when considering the expenses related to starting up their new television network.

Yet, a short-term cash flow issue is very different from long-term asset growth and profitability. And as is the case for these privately-owned teams, their complete books are not public, requiring a level of trust in these kinds of comments that does not exist for many.

With literally billions of dollars at stake (when considering the next labor agreement to go into effect in December 2021), owners have no reason to share more information about their finances than is required. And that is well within their rights, just as it is for fans to be skeptical.

Speaking of fans, they are baseball’s (relatively) silent majority. They not only get no say in what is happening, their opinions are not even being acknowledged during the labor battle.

Well, come to think of it, that is not entirely the case.

This past weekend, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak made the following statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (I include the segment in its entirety so readers can see the context before I parse out several passages from it.)

“There is no doubt right now there is an enormous amount of distrust on both sides, and when we get back to playing baseball it must be everybody’s goal to rebuild that,” Mozeliak said. “If you look on Twitter, you’re going to find that it’s 50/50 as to who is at fault, and regardless of that answer that resentment or annoyance is not great for the game. There’s definitely a group of fans that aren’t active (on social media) and enjoy the game and are hopeful it will return — to have something else to watch other than Netflix. It’s the fact there are a number of fans on each of these sides that if we can’t get this right, there could be reason for concern.”

Let’s break down a few of these points.

“If you look on Twitter, you’re going to find that it’s 50/50 as to who is at fault…”

Is that really what owners and front office people think? Take this weekend poll of 1,100 people on social media, for example. It pegs public sentiment at two-thirds blaming the owners (with 5% on the players and 28% on both).

Note this poll was taken prior to Commissioner Rob Manfred’s Monday reversal on his comment five days earlier that he was 100 percent confident the 2020 season will be played. If anything, support of ownership has almost certainly further eroded since.

“There’s definitely a group of fans that aren’t active (on social media) and enjoy the game and are hopeful it will return — to have something else to watch other than Netflix,” Mozeliak said.

There are several very interesting implications from this quote.

First is that Mozeliak seems to be assuming that those on social media do not want to see MLB return ASAP. (In reality, they absolutely do, but just not on the owners’ terms.)

Second is that he may be suggesting that the fans who are less plugged in to the details of what is going on will be more forgiving.

I suspect what he is getting at is that the vocal fans are relatively few but the silent majority are not that upset with the owners and will come back to the game quickly. I sense this has been an ongoing feeling, that their golden goose cannot be killed.

If so, it could help explain the recent foot-dragging. According to a player agent quoted by The Athletic,

“There are definitely more than eight owners who don’t want to play (the 2020 season).”

After all, why take any losses if you don’t have to? Earlier, owners stated they would lose $640,000 for every game played this season.

I cannot help but feel baseball’s leaders are misreading their customers – whether on social media or not – who want to see baseball in 2020. Most fans have apparently come to the realization is that the owners are the primary reason it may not happen.

Those in power may or may not understand this, but their recent public comments surely put it into question.

Will the game need to be “saved” in the future?

Having said that, how much is puffery and how much is real? It is impossible to separate fan emotion in the moment from their actions in the future. I suspect that owners may believe that most who assert they will stop supporting MLB will actually come back, or perhaps never leave.

Yet, there are plenty of sports writers even who talk about the game being on the road to ruin, unable to rebound from the debacle of 2020.

Some observers point to the highly-damaging 1994 strike, observing there is no McGwire-Sosa home run chase this time around to bring alienated fans back to the game. That is impossible to say without being able to see into the future.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Whether or not the home run battle actually saved the game, it is worth remembering that 1998 was the fourth season following the strike. Back in 1994, no one had any idea what was ahead – just like no one today knows what the state of the game will be in 2023.

Maybe owners are right. Maybe the game can survive the “disaster” of 2020 (Manfred’s word, not mine). Maybe the Cardinals will again draw 3.4 million content fans in 2021.

But what if they are wrong?

The Lords of Baseball seem to be judging their success by their financial ledgers, and leading up to 2020, indications are that MLB has been a very healthy business for its owners. But how much of baseball’s record revenues have come from higher prices, technology investments and commercial endorsements, rather than in growth of the game itself?

Long-term studies indicate that MLB is losing the hearts and minds of the fans – and has been for years.

Consider this Gallup Poll data, which stretches back to the pre-Bud Selig days. Also note the very small overall impact of the 1998 home run chase. Sosa and McGwire may have drawn attention to the game, but it did not significantly alter the long-term decline in MLB fan preference.

Eventually this is going to catch up with Major League Baseball. The only question seems to be “How soon?” and the debacle of 2020 is almost certainly another major step in that direction.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Seasons – 1963-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series

photo: Johnson City Cardinals – 2019 Appalachian League Champions (Johnson City Cardinals)

Note from the owner

These are trying times, with very serious issues facing each of us. How we react and cope are personal decisions.

While some feel that the virus threat should render everything else in our lives irrelevant, I think there is room for balance. I believe that we can take our health seriously without it consuming every minute of our day.

Once we are as safe as possible, we await further instructions from the appropriate authorities. But what do we do in the interim?

Many who are quarantined crave entertainment. Until further notice, live sports are out.

But for those who subscribe to The Cardinal Nation, we pledge to continue to deliver new and original St. Louis Cardinals-based content daily. Our forums continue to provide a place for Cardinals fans to discuss baseball, even while games are not being played. Personally, what I am doing is to keep writing about the organization we all follow. It is what I can best do and do best.

It is your decision if you want to read on or if you prefer to focus your attention elsewhere, and I respect your choice. But just know that we will still be here whenever you are ready.

Thank you for reading and may you and your loved ones remain safe.

– Brian Walton



The St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed a long history of success – both at the Major League and Minor League levels.

The focus of this new series is to revisit the rich history of the Cardinals minor league teams and the organization’s standout players over time.

Part 1 – The levels

Following an overview of the system and how it evolved over the years, we will review each level of play – from Triple-A down through the Dominican Summer League, highlighting the best teams in the regular season, the playoff entrants and the ones that progressed to win their league championship.

This classification-focused view begins in 1963 and runs through 2019 – a period of 47 years. 1963 was chosen because it was a time of significant change for minor league baseball. The long-standing B, C and D classifications were eliminated, and the first Triple-A league to fold, the American Association, did so.

In 1963, the Cardinals were down to all-time low of five affiliates (tied), a far cry from the peak of 31 farm teams just two decades prior. None of the five clubs in 1963 were short-season teams, though the Cardinals initiated their first regular season “complex” team in Florida in 1964. Eventually, the system grew to its current nine affiliates – through two may be eliminated in 2021.

Articles:


Part 2 – System season hitting and pitching leaders since 1960

The second phase of this series will highlight the top individual seasons by Cardinals minor leaguers over time in a number of statistical categories – as compiled for both hitters and pitchers. Some of the names will be very familiar, while others might have been forgotten over the ensuing years.

The time frame for this exercise will be 1960 through 2019, a period of 60 years. The starting date is based on the point in time in which the number of minor league games per season were dropped – making counting stat comparisons valid from 1960 onward.

Hitters Pitchers
Batting average ERA
Hits Wins
Runs Innings pitched
Doubles Strikeouts
Triples Saves
Home runs
RBI
Stolen bases

Part 3 – Current affiliate stats leaders

Each of the Cardinals’ current full-season minor league affiliates maintain team single-season statistical leader lists. These differ from the all-time lists since each of the current teams joined the Cardinals system at different points in time, some relatively recently. Some had other organization affiliations before St. Louis, which will be excluded here. Surprisingly, Johnson City does not maintain its own team records, but I will try to compile a list myself.

      • Memphis Redbirds – 1998-2019
      • Springfield Cardinals – 2005-2019
      • Palm Beach Cardinals – 2003-2019
      • Peoria Chiefs – 1995-2004, 2013-2019
      • State College Spikes – 2006, 2013-2019
      • Johnson City Cardinals – 1975-2019

Part 4 – System season hitting and pitching leaders – all-time

A potential fourth segment of articles – if time permits before 2020 play begins (if it does) – will be to review the all-time minor league stat leaders across the Cardinals farm system. The vast majority of these records were set in the 1930s and 1940s. Even so, a number of the standout player names will be familiar to readers.

The categories would be the same as in Part 2, with the exclusion of stolen bases for offensive players and saves for pitchers, which were not kept that far back in time.

Hitters Pitchers
Batting average ERA
Hits Wins
Runs Innings pitched
Doubles Strikeouts
Triples
Home runs
RBI

Part 5 – Other key individuals

We all should know that the primary purpose of player development is to provide MLB-ready players when St. Louis needs them. In this section, we will remember players who made their Major League debuts by year.

Another area of emphasis will be to evaluate the winningest managers in the farm system over time.

Further surprises could follow, depending where the data leads as well as the calendar, as we all ponder how long baseball will remain on hiatus – while anxiously awaiting the return to live play on the fields.


To see it all

At least one article in each part of the series will be free to all readers, but the majority of this content will be available only to members of The Cardinal Nation. (Those articles will be designated with the key icon. )

We never take for granted the ongoing support of our subscribers, who enable us to provide the best end-to-end coverage of the Cardinals system available anywhere year after year.

Thank you to our readers!


Acknowledgments

This series would not be possible without the record-keeping of Baseball America as delivered via their book, The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, as well as the staff of the St. Louis Cardinals, who have maintained individual player leader lists for decades. Baseball Reference remains a valuable fact-verification resource.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals 2019 Minor League Award Winners Recognized


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Minor Leaguers Take Good News with Bad

With just a few days remaining until the March agreement to play minor leaguers $400 per week expired (May 31), Major League teams had not adopted a common approach going forward.

The first team news to come out this week was bad. The Oakland A’s decided to stop paying their players for the remainder of 2020. This drew negative reactions from many around the game.

On Thursday, the news from the St. Louis Cardinals was mixed. The majority will continue to receive their pay through at least the end of June, a good thing.

However, for a minority, the news was bad – career-ending bad. The Cardinals joined a number of other organizations which decided to implement another wave of player releases rather than continue to pay them.

While the 2020 minor league season has not yet been officially canceled, most expect this will be the final outcome. For 2021, the Cardinals are expected to shed two affiliates, the State College Spikes of the Short-Season Class A New York-Penn League and the Johnson City Cardinals of the Rookie Advanced level Appalachian League.

Back on March 31, 10 Cardinals minor leaguers were dropped.

St. Louis Cardinals Release 10 Minor Leaguers

Following that, the organization had 252 minor leaguers, excluding 40-man roster players. Among them are roughly 90 international players assigned to the Dominican Summer League rosters. Those academy players are not part of the $400 weekly payments.

That left about 160 Cardinals minor leaguers in the US who had been receiving the $400 each week. Seven new recruits may soon join the organization through the condensed June 10-11 First-Year Player Draft.

The newest cuts appear to be MLB-wide.

This next go-round of releases include a number of additional ex-Cardinals. Once their names are known, I will provide an update with details.


For more

In March through May 2018 and 2019, the Cardinals released 36 and 19 players, respectively. Full details are in prior versions of the Roster Matrix.

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Level – 1963-2019


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Hate Pond Scum but Still Recognize Hernandez

I am one who bristles every time I read that so-and-so was “snubbed” after missing out when honors of any type are announced, whether all-star selections, Gold Glove Awards or Hall of Fame inductees.

The reality is that people have their own criteria for recognition that is subjective by definition and as such, there will never be 100 percent agreement. Almost always, there are more deserving candidates than spots to put them. For these reasons, I generally go out of my way to give voters the benefit of the doubt.

However, in the case of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, I believe that Keith Hernandez is being unjustly treated by a large segment of fan voters. I won’t go quite that far with Steve Carlton, though I believe his accomplishments with St. Louis are not being adequately considered. There are similarities (as well as differences) in the qualifications of the two.

As most everyone reading this should already know, the 2020 Cardinals Hall of Fame Class was announced Friday night. If by chance you missed it, check out this article, then return here, please.

Tom Herr, John Tudor and Bill White Join St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame

Among former Cardinals greats on the Modern Era fan ballot who did not finish in the top two in the 2020 voting are repeat candidates Hernandez and Carlton.

Keith’s “buts”

Hernandez was exceptionally productive as a Cardinal, winner of a National League Most Valuable Player Award, an NL batting title and was a key member of the 1982 World Series champions. In 10 seasons with St. Louis, he logged 34.4 WAR, which is more than this year’s fan inductees Tom Herr and John Tudor combined over 15 years. To this day, Keith is considered one of the best defensive first basemen in MLB history.

But…

And there is always a but. In fact, for Hernandez, there are two major “buts” working against his Cardinals Hall of Fame candidacy. The first is drug use and ensuing turbulence that culminated in his trade. The second is that he became a hated opponent as a member of the New York Mets in the second chapter of his career.

Wondering the percentage breakdown of fan opposition to those two “buts,” I posted the following 24-hour Twitter poll Friday night.

While I understand that some people may have deep and intermingled feelings about both, I really wanted to get a feeling for which of the two points is stickier as Cardinals fans view it. With over 900 votes cast, Hernandez’ identification and success with the Mets led, 54 percent to 46 percent. (Thank you to all who voted.)

Even though his drug use and deterioration of the situation in St. Louis was not the number 1 factor, its 46 percent support is strong. This continued focus on Hernandez’ mistakes and their ramifications indicate that many fans will not forgive and forget. This is really too bad, but Hernandez was guilty as charged. His behavior directly led to his messy departure. It was a different time and was dealt with accordingly then.

Over 35 years later, Hernandez is still on the hook for his transgressions with some, despite the fact that the key principals in the matter, he and manager Whitey Herzog, buried the hatchet long ago.

Keith Hernandez and Whitey Herzog (Getty Images)

Update: In Sunday’s Post-Dispatch, Herzog shared his current thoughts with columnist Benjamin Hochman. Here are two excerpts which summarize his position.

“I think Keith Hernandez very much deserves to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame,” he said.

“I thought Keith Hernandez would get in the Cardinal Hall of Fame this year, I thought he and Tudor would,” said Herzog, 88, the legendary Cardinals manager and general manager in the ’80’s.


Hernandez eventually paid the price in the public spotlight, as well, over a decade before McGwire (a Cardinals Hall of Famer), Sosa, Bonds and the rest.

I am most troubled by the majority who use Hernandez’ time as a Met against his Cardinals Hall of Fame case. First of all, he did not choose where he was traded. Herzog sent him to an also-ran opponent, but one in the same division that was on the cusp of emerging. This led to the Cardinals getting their collective nose rubbed in it time and time again over the next seven years.

Do fans really expect that Hernandez would and should have stopped trying to excel at baseball after being traded? Beating the opponent, whatever team it may have been, was his job. His success with the “Pond Scum” illustrated that he was a great player who confirmed it with two different teams. Even so, his best years were with St. Louis.

I suspect recency bias is coming into play for at least some, and in this case, the bias is negative. I suggest that if Hernandez had played with the Mets first and the Cardinals second, the lasting memories would likely be different. (And this is not even taking into account that some number of fans were not yet following the Cardinals during his time with the team, 1974-1983.)

I am not criticizing anyone for this natural phenomenon. We remember better what we experience more recently. The most important point when considering performance over the annals of time is that the sequence of events should not matter, however.

Compare Hernandez to Tom Herr, a deserving Cardinals Hall selection in 2020. Both spent 10 seasons with the Cards, but after leaving St. Louis, Herr bounced around to four teams in his final three and a half seasons and then retired. In other words, there was no “Pond Scum” blemish to mar his post-Cardinals years, which totaled just 4.4 bWAR. In contrast, after leaving St. Louis, Hernandez accrued 25.9 bWAR.

In a direct comparison of their Cardinals-only results, Hernandez’ decade was substantially better, 34.4 bWAR to 19.1. This is likely a big reason why Hernandez was on the fan ballot years before Herr. This is meant with no disrespect to Herr, who was up for consideration for good reason, but comparing candidates is something we all do before we cast our votes.

Especially in the context of the Cardinals Hall of Fame, what Hernandez did elsewhere and when he did it should be separate from what he accomplished with St. Louis. His Cardinals results are more than Hall-worthy, yet he has been passed over in all seven years of the fan vote. This has gone long enough.

For his part, Hernandez identifies himself as a Cardinal.

Don’t forget Lefty

Though Carlton was with St. Louis seven years versus Hernandez’ 10, it is longer than a number of others already inducted with as good or better results. Carlton’s solid St. Louis resume includes a World Championship, three All-Star Game selections and 20.9 bWAR in seven seasons.

Steve Carlton

I sense the left-hander is also being overlooked because he played for St. Louis even before Hernandez (1965-1971) and especially because he was just too good later on in his first-ballot Hall of Fame career. As most probably know, in the pre-free agency days, Carlton was exiled to Philadelphia in a salary dispute over $10,000 prior to his age 28 season.

Again, that Carlton was traded within the division was no fault of his own. That he went on to regularly defeat the Cardinals for years – to the tune of a 38-14 record with a 2.98 career ERA vs. St. Louis – just rubbed salt in the festering wound that may have been the single largest contributor to the down decade of the 1970’s. It lives on as the worst trade in team history.

Why should Carlton be blamed if he may have had greater motivation facing the Cardinals? His .731 winning percentage vs. St. Louis is his best against any opponent he faced more than four times in his 24 years in the majors. His 2.98 career ERA versus the Cardinals was even better than the 3.10 ERA he logged over his seven seasons on the mound for them!

Yes, Carlton is a Phillie first and foremost. Yes, he owned the Cardinals for a long time and it hurt. But I also think Carlton is a Cardinals Hall of Famer solely based upon his prior results with St. Louis.

Why a one-team association only?

As is the case for all Modern Era nominees, it is ultimately up to the fan voters. I just wish the decisions could take contribution more into account than other factors not entirely under the players’ control.

Specifically, that anyone with seven to 10 stellar seasons with Team A should be labeled a one-team player only associated with Team B is narrow thinking I do not support. I would have no problem whatsoever with a player being a member of multiple team Halls of Fame if he is worthy.

In fact, Nolan Ryan is in three of them – the Astros, Rangers and Angels Halls of Fame. Randy Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Gary Carter and another Carlton, Carlton Fisk, are among the many greats whose accomplishments have been celebrated by two different teams via Hall of Fame and/or retired number honors.

I think it is overdue that Cardinals fans consider this kind of multi-team recognition acceptable, too.

What is next?

Some have suggested the voting process should be changed. I don’t think that is the way to go, however.

Any system will have its bumps, whether fan-driven or writer-driven or owner-driven or numbers-driven or some mix of them. There is no magic answer, but ultimately, it is a fan-oriented Hall. I am all for engaging as many people as possible on the subject of team history, even if I may not always think a given year’s results are optimal. All of the deserving candidates should get in eventually and when they do, we will soon forget who went in ahead of who.

In the meantime, let’s keep the dialogue going and maybe next year, the record 113,000 votes can be surpassed!


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals in Rookie Complex Level – Top Teams and Standouts – 1964-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tom Herr, John Tudor and Bill White Join St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame

photo: Tom Herr, John Tudor, Bill White

St. Louis Cardinals press release

In a televised special on FOX Sports Midwest this evening, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that Tom Herr, John Tudor and Bill White will be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. This is the seventh induction class since the team dedicated the Cardinals Hall of Fame with an inaugural class on Opening Day in 2014. Details regarding a formal induction ceremony for the 2020 Induction Class will be announced at a later date.

Chosen by the fans, Tom Herr and John Tudor were the top two-vote getters in the Cardinals Hall of Fame online balloting presented by Edward Jones. The ballot, which also included Cardinals legends Steve Carlton, Keith Hernandez, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria and Lee Smith, was selected by a Red Ribbon committee of St. Louis baseball experts through a secret ballot process. Cardinals fans cast a record 113,000 votes over the nine-week voting period.

In addition to nominating modern players for fan balloting, the Red Ribbon Committee also elected Bill White, a veteran player, for induction using a secret ballot process. White, a Gold Glove first baseman and African-American pioneer, was a starter for the Cardinals from 1959-1965 and returned to finish his career in 1969. The 1964 World Champion would later become the first black president of a major sports league when he was named National League President in 1989.

“Selecting the members of the Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class is one of our organization’s greatest traditions,” said Bill DeWitt Jr., Cardinals Chairman and CEO. “We thank the over 100,000 fans and our Red Ribbon Committee who cast their votes for this year’s induction class and look forward to celebrating the achievements of these remarkable players with Cardinals Nation very soon.”

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame was established as a way to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of the greatest players in Cardinals history, as well as those who have made exceptional contributions to the organization. To be eligible, players must have played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and must be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years. The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories of “modern players” and “veteran players”. If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.

Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Each member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame is permanently enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Edward Jones that is located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village, just outside the entrance to the Cardinals Museum. The Hall of Fame Gallery is free and open to the public. Fans can visit cardinals.com/HOF for more information.

The following is a description of each Inductee’s career as a Cardinal:

Ton Herr

Tom Herr (Modern Era Player — Fan Selection)

Years: 1979 – 1988 .274/.349/.354, 1021 H, 179 2B, 31 3B, 498 R, 152 SB (1029 Games)

Making his debut the same night Lou Brock clubbed his 3,000th career hit, Tom Herr made his mark on one of the most popular eras of Cardinals baseball. He led the National League in both fielding percentage and assists as a second baseman in 1981 and finished in the top-three in double plays turned in six of his 10 seasons in St. Louis. Herr’s finest offensive season came in 1985 when he was named to the All-Star team and finished fifth in NL MVP voting after finishing in the league’s top-ten in on-base percentage, batting average, hits, doubles, runs batted in and walks. That season he had 110 RBI and only eight home runs, making him the last player in NL history to reach 100+ RBI with less than 10 HR. A fan favorite of the Whiteyball era, Herr may best be remembered for hitting a 10th inning walk-off grand slam against the New York Mets on “Seat Cushion Night” at Busch Stadium, resulting in thousands of fans hurling their cushions onto the field.

John Tudor

John Tudor (Modern Era Player — Fan Selection)

Years: 1985 – 1988, 1990 62-26, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 22 CG, 12 SHO, 881.2 IP (125 Games Started)

During his five seasons in a Cardinals uniform, John Tudor accumulated a .705 winning percentage and 2.52 ERA over 125 starts, both of which still stand as all-time Cardinals records (minimum 750.0 IP). The left-hander’s finest season came during his first year with the club in 1985 when he won 21 games (including a mind-blowing 20-1 record after June 1) with a miniscule 1.93 ERA and 10 complete game shutouts, and finished second in National League Cy Young voting. A member of two National League pennant-winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Tudor had a 3.16 ERA over nine post-season starts for the Cardinals. Tudor would go on to win at least 10 games in each of the four full seasons he pitched for the Redbirds and remains the only pitcher to reach double-digit shutouts in a single season in the last 45 years.

Bill White

Bill White (Veteran Era Player — Red Ribbon Panel Selection)

Years: 1959 – 1965, 1969 .298/.357/.472, 1241 H, 209 2B, 140 HR, 843 R, 870 RBI (1113 Games)

Acquired via trade two weeks before the start of the 1959 season, Bill White would go on to spend the next seven years in the Cardinals starting lineup. The left-handed first baseman was named an All-Star in five of those seven seasons, and was part of the all-Cardinals starting infield in the 1963 All-Star Game. After setting career highs in batting average (.324) and OPS (.868) in 1962, White returned with an even better year in 1963, establishing career bests in hits (200), runs (106), home runs (27) and RBI (109). The next year, White finished third in NL MVP voting after putting up another 20+ HR and 100+ RBI season as the Cardinals won their first World Series title in 18 seasons. In addition to his prowess at the plate, White earned six consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1960-1965. While playing for the Cardinals, White worked part-time for KMOX, a precursor to him becoming the first African-American play-by-play broadcaster for a major league team in 1971 and the first African-American president of a major sports league (National League President) in 1989.

Cardinals Hall of Fame Members (43)

Jim Bottomley Jim Edmonds Tony La Russa Branch Rickey
Ken Boyer Curt Flood Ray Lankford Scott Rolen
Sam Breadon Bob Forsch Marty Marion Red Schoendienst
Harry Brecheen Frank Frisch Pepper Martin Mike Shannon
Lou Brock Bob Gibson Tim McCarver Ted Simmons
Jack Buck Chick Hafey Willie McGee Enos Slaughter
August A. Busch Jr. Jesse Haines Mark McGwire Ozzie Smith
Chris Carpenter Whitey Herzog Joe Medwick Billy Southworth
Vince Coleman Rogers Hornsby Johnny Mize Bruce Sutter
Mort Cooper Jason Isringhausen Terry Moore Joe Torre
Dizzy Dean George Kissell Stan Musial

2020 Cardinals Hall of Fame Red Ribbon Selection Committee (15)

Tom Ackerman, Frank Cusumano, Derrick Goold, Whitey Herzog, Benjamin Hochman, Rick Hummel, Randy Karraker, Martin Kilcoyne, Tony La Russa, Bernie Miklasz, Joe Ostermeier, Rob Rains, Anne Rogers, Joe Torre and Brian Walton.

Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum

The 8,000-square-foot St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village celebrates the rich history of baseball in St. Louis and the legacy of one of baseball’s most storied franchises. Since its creation in 2014, the Cardinals Hall of Fame, presented by Edward Jones, has inducted 43 former Cardinals players, coaches and executives. The Cardinals’ museum collection is the largest team-held collection in baseball and is second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with over 22,000 memorabilia items and hundreds of thousands of archived photos. Fans can learn more about the museum at cardinals.com/museum.


Brian Walton’s take

Personally, I am surprised and disappointed that Keith Hernandez was passed over again, but I understand why. The concerns of many fans seem to have no expiration date, still fresh even after 35 years. It leads me to wonder if the first baseman will have to wait until he becomes eligible for the Veteran Era ballot.

But this time should be about the winners and I am delighted for all three members of the Class of 2020. Their tremendous accomplishments as detailed above make their cases better than I ever could.

I only hope we do not have to wait until 2021 to see them don their red jackets for the first time. While that is not under anyone’s control, it would also be a mistake to rush and not include fans in the induction. It seems a delay is highly likely.

The fact that Tom Herr was elected his first year appearing on the fan ballot tells me as a Red Ribbon Committee member that fans are looking at players differently than we seem to be. When all is said and done, this is a fan Hall, so I am going to take this learning to heart in my future deliberations.

There was no ownership selection for the fourth consecutive year.

Whether you agree or disagree with the selections, come and join our ongoing Cardinals Hall of Fame discussion at The Cardinal Nation’s free fan forum.


For more

For those interested in hearing comments from Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III about the creation of the Hall, how honorees react when informed as well as some of the top speeches made over the years, please check out the following from Dan McLaughlin and ESPN 101 Radio.

Scoops with Danny Mac – May 22nd, 2020 – Bill Dewitt discusses the upcoming Cardinals HOF selections and Brewers broadcaster Brian Anderson talks about the testing process for COVID-19.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals in Rookie Academy Level – 2005-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Avoiding Sympathy and Blame if There is No MLB Season

photo: Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals)

It feels as if there is extreme polarization on every issue in our society. Important nuances of extremely complex matters are brushed by without consideration as existing trenches are dug deeper and deeper.

It is as if we are back in the old days of Saturday afternoon westerns at the cinema, where the good guys wore the white hats and the bad guys were in black, with no gray areas whatsoever.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is that simple.

Take the current state of Major League Baseball, for example. There is not a person even tangentially interested who does not want to see games played in 2020.

However, there is always some kind of “if” attached.

“If” the players can be safe. “If” MLB does not take tests away from the general public. “If” the money can be worked out. “If” 27 sets of cities and states will allow teams to play in their own stadiums. “If” revised rules and schedules are acceptable. And the list goes on and on.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking. On one hand, it might seem there is still plenty of time to get ready to restart spring training in mid-June and celebrate Opening Day 2020 in early July. On the other, each of these and dozens more nagging “ifs” have to be knocked down and negotiated out by owners and players – one by one.

And even that is not as simple as it appears. The owners are 30 separate groups of individuals, with generally common objectives. But that does not mean they always all agree on how to achieve them. Some teams are better insulated financially from a lost 2020 than others, though none are in any danger of going under.

Then, there is the MLB Players Association, several thousand individuals who are diverse in every way other than they are all young men who play the game of baseball particularly well. Some players are ready to go, while others have reservations that may or may not be able to be satisfied.

To date, we have seen proposal details leaked and public displays of contempt. We’ve read about “smoking guns” and prior commitments broken. We have seen posturing designed to put pressure on the other side.

Managing the message and perception seems to receive as much or more attention as the content behind it. This is likely only going to increase in the days ahead.

For those of us who are non-stakeholders, our emotions can change by the day, or even the hour. The owners are greedy. The players are insensitive. The owners are insensitive. The players are greedy. And so the carousel spins.

My view is that we should neither demonstrate sympathy for nor place blame on either side. The complexity and sheer volume of details to be worked out in a very short time is daunting. Because of this, there seems a reasonable chance they cannot come to agreement on playing in 2020.

Owners assert they will lose billions of dollars no matter what happens and they would be better off canceling the season if players do not accept further salary concessions. Many have significant interests in related but separate endeavors including regional sports networks and entertainment complexes.

How many businesses are on firm enough ground financially that they could choose to not operate for a year and know they could re-start later? That is a advantageous place to be.

Players are against revenue sharing when times are tough, noting it was not offered when times were good. They bristle at the talk of a salary cap and are especially skeptical of MLB’s accounting. They have already received $170 million they do not have to return to tide them over if no games are played.

MLBPA members also have to assess health and safety exposures that affect each of them personally and the risks that will remain no matter how comprehensive the plans may be.

Both sides worry about the potential downstream impact of concessions accepted in 2020 would have on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, just 18 months away. That pact will establish the parameters for the game’s operation for five years, from 2022 through 2026, so its looming importance cannot be overestimated.

Simply put, owners and players alike may have what they believe to be very good reasons for an unwillingness to accept the other’s current stance. That is their choice as the primary stakeholders.

If players are not comfortable with safety and compensation, who are we to judge them? Similarly, if owners feel it is in their best interests to not play in 2020 to help minimize their already substantial financial losses, isn’t that within their right?

If not all 27 cities are opened up in time, thereby wrecking the good intent behind the proposed regional schedule, should they proceed even if team travel includes multiple trips to Florida and/or Arizona? And yes, what if there is a new breakout of the virus despite all the precautions?

Having said all that, if the situation gets as far as scrapping the season, the most likely expectation is that there will be finger-pointing between players and owners as they each try to take and hold the high ground. They are the ones wearing the white hats.

We should understand that we will learn what they tell us, directly or via controlled “leaks”. And they will endeavor to only tell us what they want us to hear.

I get it. Everyone would be disappointed and frustrated if the 2020 MLB season cannot be played. My only hope is that if it gets to that, fans can avoid joining in the blame game and together, look ahead to better times in 2021. (And despite the gloom and doom coming from some corners, baseball will survive this.)

Yes, we want our entertainers. We want our entertainment. And we want it now! But that doesn’t mean they have to give it to us. Like it or not, we don’t get a vote.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Predicting a St. Louis Cardinals 50-Man Roster for 2020


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.