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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of April 12-18

photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals dropped both series of the week, falling below .500. The starting pitching is not getting deep into games and the offense is inconsistent. Our Blast From the Past history segment covers the team Hall of Fame candidacy of 25-year broadcaster Harry Caray.



Game Recaps

Monday, April 12 – Cardinals 2, Nationals 5

The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Nationals in St. Louis on Monday in the first of a three-game series.  Starter John Gant suffered his first loss of the season in the 5-2 loss to Washington.

Gant pitched five innings and surrendered three runs on six hits.  The right hander fanned four and walked three.   Giovanny Gallegos relieved in the sixth inning and the right hander allowed one run on one hit.  Andrew Miller followed with a shaky relief effort, giving up one run on three hits without recording an out.  Ryan Helsley took over in the eighth and was the first St. Louis pitcher to come out unscathed.  Helsley tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and was followed by Tyler Webb, who secured the final out.

St. Louis’ offense produced two runs on six hits, insufficient for a victory.  The runs came on an RBI single by Tommy Edman in the third inning and Yadier Molina’s sixth inning solo home run.

Edman stole his third base of the season and Dylan Carlson threw out a runner at home for his first outfield assist.

Tuesday, April 13 – Cardinals 14, Nationals 3

In the second game of the series, the Redbirds offense made up for what it lacked in Game 1.  In a 14 run onslaught, the Cardinals pummeled the Nationals for the Game 2 victory.

The scoring began with a first inning solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt.  Washington tied the game with a run in the top of the third, but the Cardinals responded with a four run bottom frame. Two run home runs by Nolan Arenado and Matt Carpenter gave the Cardinals a 5-1 run lead.

The Redbirds poured it on even more in the fifth.  Carpenter reached on a fielding error, Dylan Carlson drew a walk and Andrew Knizner singled to left. Justin Williams followed with an RBI single to right to plate one run.  Pinch hitter Austin Dean’s sac fly scored Carlson.  Tommy Edman walked and Goldschmidt singled to left to plate Knizner and Williams.  Nolan Arenado singled and Edman scored.  Paul DeJong singled to score Goldschmidt and a sac fly by Carpenter plated Arenado.  Carlson singled, Knizner walked and Williams singled to score DeJong and Carlson to make the score 14-1.

The Nationals put up two runs in the top of the ninth for the final score of 14-3.

Jack Flaherty

Starter Jack Flaherty earned his second win of the season in a five inning, one run allowed effort.  Flaherty fanned six and surrendered only three hits.  Genesis Cabrera followed with a scoreless sixth inning. Kodi Whitley contributed two scoreless frames.  Daniel Ponce de Leon allowed the two Washington runs in the ninth.

Arenado made a fielding error.  Williams had an outfield assist at second base.

Wednesday, April 14 – Cardinals 0, Nationals 6

In the rubber game of the series on Wednesday, the Cardinals offense apparently had no runs left to give after the 14 run onslaught the day before.  St. Louis was blanked 6-0 by Washington.

Veteran starter Adam Wainwright suffered his second loss of the season in a five inning effort which produced four opponent’s runs, three earned, on seven hits.  The right hander did punch out seven Nationals and walked two.  Jordan Hicks allowed one run in his one inning of relief.  Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless seventh.  Giovanny Gallegos surrendered one run in the eighth and Alex Reyes finished with a clean ninth.

St. Louis’ offense managed just four hits.  Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado doubled.  Yadier Molina and Edmundo Sosa provided singles. Molina set a record with his 2000th game caught, the first to do so with one team in MLB history.

Lane Thomas made a fielding error in what would be his final game on the active roster.

Thursday, April 15 – Off day

Friday, April 16 – Cardinals 2 at Phillies 9

The Cardinals traveled to Philadelphia for a weekend series against the Phillies.  The Cards all wore #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, which was officially the day before, but the Cardinals did not play. St. Louis lost to the Phillies, 9-2.

Starter Carlos Martinez pitched a good first inning, retiring all three batters.  Then came the second inning and various defensive miscues sent Martinez into a brief tailspin in which he hit two batters, walked two (one intentionally) and gave up three singles and two doubles. The inning ended with the Phillies leading 6-0.  Martinez recovered and gave up no further runs in the succeeding three innings he pitched.  All told, the right hander surrendered six runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two over five frames.

Kodi Whitley relieved for 1 2/3 innings, yielding two runs on on two hits.  Andrew Miller closed out the game allowing one run on two hits.

St. Louis’ offense was held scoreless until the eighth. Dylan Carlson doubled to right field and Justin Williams smacked a two run home run to left center, his first as a major leaguer, to avert the shutout.

Saturday, April 17 – Cardinals 9 at Phillies 4

The Cardinals recovered from the previous day’s disappointment to beat the Phillies, 9-4. Kwang-Hyun Kim was activated from the injured list to make his first start of the season.  Kim pitched three innings and gave up three runs on five hits. The left hander fanned four and and issued one free pass.

Ryan Helsley relieved in the fourth and tossed 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run to earn his second win of the season – with the help of his team’s offense.  Tyler Webb pitched 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Jordan Hicks, Genesis Cabrera, and Alex Reyes combined for the final 3 2/3 run-free frames.

The Cardinals offense scored six runs in the third inning to take a 6-1 lead.  Paul Goldschmidt singled and Nolan Arenado drew a walk.  Yadier Molina blasted a three run shot to to left field, his third long ball of the season.  Paul DeJong immediately followed with a solo home run to center field, his third of 2021.  Austin Dean walked and Dylan Carlson doubled to plate Dean.  Justin Williams was intentionally walked and Kim reached on fielding error that scored Carlson.

Yadier Molina

The Phillies scored two in the bottom of the third to make it 6-3. The Redbirds responded with three in the fourth. Once again it was back to back long balls – Nolan Arenado’s two run shot, and Molina’s second home run of the night, a solo blast.

On the basepaths, Tommy Edman was caught stealing for the first time in the season.  Williams made a fielding error.

Sunday, April 18 – Cardinals 0 at Phillies 2

In the rubber game of the three game series at Citizens Bank Park, the Cardinals were blanked by the Phillies, 2-0.  St. Louis’ sputtering offense could do nothing against Phillies starter Aaron Nola, who threw a complete game two hitter.

Yadier Molina collected the first hit early with a lead off single in the second inning.  The other hit didn’t come until the eighth, when Paul DeJong led off with a single.  In both cases, the next three hitters were retired.  10 Cardinals hitters struck out and there were no walks given.  The only other base runner was Tommy Edman, who reached on an error by Nola in the third.

Starter John Gant went the way of every Cardinals starter in every game except one, by not pitching past the fifth inning.  (Only Jack Flaherty made it past five innings in a six inning outing against the Marlins in Miami.)  Gant surrendered two runs on five hits, fanned five and walked five.   Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos and Tyler Webb combined to toss the final four scoreless frames.

The Cardinals committed one error, a fielding miscue by Matt Carpenter.

Big Picture

The Cardinals fell under .500 by finishing the week with a record of 2-4 due to series losses to both the Nationals (home) and the Phillies (away).  It is too early to panic, but this is a pattern that must change soon.

The pitching continues to be the major problem, though offense and defense need to improve as well. There have been too many errors on defense, especially in the outfield, and the offense has been feast or famine, a pattern all too familiar to Cardinals fans with regard to seasons past.

The offense, when it does come, still is mostly centered at the top half of the order.  Tommy Edman at lead off gets on base, but the power hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado need to be a little more consistent.  Yadier Molina’s offense has been a surprise of sorts, but a welcome one.  Paul DeJong has always been streaky and this season is no different.

As for the bottom half of the order, Dylan Carlson shows periods of getting on a roll, but needs to strike out less.  Justin Williams began the season in a bad spot but has shown some areas of improvement.  The musical chairs in the outfield makes it difficult for hitters like Austin Dean to take hold.  Tommy Edman has been in right, making Matt Carpenter a semi regular at second base.

How things will shake in the outfield once Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader return will make it interesting considering the weakness so far with the defense.  Both O’Neill and Bader bring above average to elite defense in the outfield, something this team has been lacking.  Both will need to show something with the bat though.

The issue with the infield defense is more nuanced considering the lack of a DH this season makes it more difficult to get Carpenter at bats and his defensive skills are lacking in comparison to Edman. The Cardinals let Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong go to free agency with the understanding that Edman could take up the mantle, yet he is getting close to spending more time in the outfield than at second base.  The majority of the infield miscues so far have been up the middle with DeJong and Carpenter, which could lead to an untenable situation defensively.

Pitching is its own kind of problem, with starters not going deep into games, thus taxing the bullpen.  Walks have been a real problem as well.  Cardinals pitching has the fourth highest walk percentage in the major leagues. Team ERA is the worst in the major leagues. As stated previously, it is too early to panic, but improvement in the pitching needs to happen soon.

The Cardinals play a three game series at the Nationals and a three game set vs. the Reds at Busch this week.  St. Louis have lost series to both and series wins are needed.  The Cardinals are hovering around the .500 mark, but this can change in a heartbeat if the team continues to lose series at this pace.  A winning streak would go a long way to giving them some breathing space.

The Cardinals are currently 7-8 and are in third place in the NL Central, two games back of the Reds and one game back of the Brewers. The Brewers and Reds have shown some vulnerability lately and the time is now to gain some ground.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Cincinnati 9 6 0.600
Milwaukee 8 7 0.533 1
St. Louis 7 8 0.467 2
Pittsburgh 7 9 0.438 2.5
Chicago 6 9 0.400 3

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 4/13 The Cardinals recalled RHP Kodi Whitley from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/13 The Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/15 The Cardinals selected the contract of CF Scott Hurst from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/15 The Cardinals optioned CF Lane Thomas to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/15 The Cardinals placed RHP Dakota Hudson on the 60-day injured list. Right elbow injury
  • 4/17 The Cardinals optioned RHP Kodi Whitley to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/17 The Cardinals activated LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim from the 10-day injured list.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) continues his rehab at the Alternate Training Site. The plan is for the right hander to throw to live hitters in simulated games.  Mikolas threw what was described by manager Mike Shildt as an “aggressive bullpen” and recovered well. The right hander is close to live BP. No timetable for his return has been reported.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) has been activated and made his first start in Saturday’s game against the Phillies.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right forearm flexor tendon) remains on the 10 day injured list. The injury is described as a right flexor strain but with no damage to the ligament. Bader has received a platelet rich plasma injection and  is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks.   The outfielder returned to St. Louis and has been sent to the Alternate Training site.  Bader is about 10 to 14 days away from resuming full baseball activity and has been hitting off a tee and throwing up to 220 feet.
  • LF Tyler O’Neill remains on the 10 day injured list with a right groin strain. Imaging showed no significant damage so it is expected O’Neill will be able to return to the roster when the 10 days are up, on April 21.

Looking Ahead

Following the weekend Phillies series, the Cardinals traveled to Washngton to play the Nationals for the second time in a three game series.  After a travel day on Thursday, the Cardinals return home to Busch Stadium for a weekend series against the Reds.

The Phillies come to St. Louis on Monday, April 26 for a four game set. The Cardinals will then travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series against the Pirates. From Pittsburgh, the team will return to St. Louis to take on the Mets in a four game series.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s installment of the Cardinals Hall of Fame series continues with another broadcaster, this one more well known to this author and doubtless to many other St. Louis fans.  A colorful character to say the least, this broadcaster’s career spanned more than one team and he became even more well known as the voice of a Cardinals rival.

Harry Caray

Harry Christopher Caray was born on March 1, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Christopher Carabina and Daisy Argint.  Harry changed his name from Carabina to Caray when he began his broadcasting career in Joliet, Illinois at the suggestion of the station manager, who thought Carabina sounded too awkward on the air.

Caray never knew his father, who was Italian, and who left Harry’s mother shortly after his birth.  Daisy Argint, of Romanian descent,  remarried when Harry was five.  She died of pneumonia when Harry was 14. Caray then went to live with his Aunt, Doxie Argint.

Harry’s family was poor, and he began selling newspapers at the age of 8.  Caray would attend Cardinals games at Sportsman’s Park whenever he had the money to afford a ticket.  He attended Webster Groves High School where he played second base and shortstop on the baseball team.  He was good enough to be awarded a baseball scholarship to the University of Alabama, but he did not accept the scholarship because he could not afford the room and board.

Caray played some semipro baseball after high school and was seen by scouts who invited him to a tryout for the Cardinals.  Caray didn’t make the team but he instead got a job with a company that sold sports equipment.  Harry listened to Cardinals games on the radio and though he could do a better job than the broadcasters he heard so he sent a letter to the general manager of KMOX.  Caray received a tryout and the general manager was impressed but thought he needed more experience, so he arranged to get Caray a job at WCLS in Joliet, Illinois.

After 18 months at WCLS, Caray was hired as the sports director of WKZO in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he got his first experience as a play by play man for baseball games.  It was at WKZO that Caray first uttered the phrase “Holy Cow!” as a substitute for profanity.

Harry was rejected for military duty in World War II because of bad eyesight and he moved back to St. Louis and took a job at KXOK in 1944.  Harry landed the job of doing play by play for Cardinals and Browns games in 1945 because he convinced the Griesedieck brothers that he could sell their beer on the air.  So Caray and broadcast partner Gabby Street began broadcasting Cardinals and Browns games on WIL in St. Louis.

At the time Caray started at WIL, the Cardinals games were not broadcast exclusively on one radio station so Caray and Street had competition.  The two built a considerable following, however, and in 1947 Cardinals owner Sam Breadon granted exclusive rights to the Griesedieck brothers to broadcast Cardinals games.

Caray continued to do play by play for the Cardinals through changes in ownership and broadcast sponsors, from Breadon to Gussie Busch and from the Griesedieck brothers to Anheuser Busch.  Caray and Street worked together until Street’s death in 1951. Caray then went on to partner with Joe Garagiola and then Jack Buck.  As the Cardinals play by play man, he called three World Series in 1964, 1967  and 1968.

Caray’s last season broadcasting Cardinals games was 1969, his 25th year as the team’s play by play man.  Caray was fired after the  season, an action reportedly taken on the recommendation of Anheuser Busch’s marketing department.  Rumors that Caray had had an affair with Susan Busch, the daughter in law of Gussie Busch, were never substantiated but not denied by Caray, who said the rumors were good for his ego.  Susan Busch denied the rumors, stating the two were only friends.  Susan divorced her husband August Busch III shortly after the rumors began.

Caray’s broadcast career continued with the Oakland Athletics and then the Chicago White Sox, and ultimately Carey became the voice of the Chicago Cubs in 1981.  His time with the Cubs continued until 1997, despite

A stroke in 1987 cost him two months away from broadcasting.  Caray’s grandson Chip was hired to join Harry in the broadcast booth for the 1998 season but that pairing was never realized as Harry passed away on February 18, 1998.

Though Caray finished his career as the voice of St. Louis’ rival, Harry was the voice of the Cardinals first.  His 25 years in St. Louis cannot be eclipsed by his move to Chicago, and his voice and personality behind the radio broadcasts must not be overlooked.  Caray deserves his place in the Cardinals Hall of Fame as the exclusive voice through some of the best years of the franchise in the 1960s.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of April 5-11

photo: Johan Oviedo via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Game Recaps

Monday, April 5 – Cardinals 4 at Marlins 1

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals began a three game series with the Marlins in Miami with a victory.  Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon tossed five innings and gave up one run on three hits.  The right hander struck out three and walked one to earn his first win of the season.

Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless sixth.  Giovanny Gallegos followed with two run-free innings. Alex Reyes hurled a scoreless ninth to earn his first save of 2021.

The game started with walks to Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, and Paul DeJong to load the bases.  A passed ball by Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro scored Edman.  Yadier Molina doubled to left to plate Goldschmidt and DeJong and make it 3-0 in the first inning.

The game remained 3-0 until the fifth when Edman led off with a solo home run to right field.  The Marlins plated one in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-1. That was all the scoring in the game.

Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing for the first time this season.

Tuesday, April 6 – Cardinals 4 at Marlins 2

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Redbirds were the winners in the second game of the series thanks to a mid inning comeback from an early 2-0 deficit.

The offense was held scoreless until the sixth inning.  Back to back singles by Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado’s walk loaded the bases.  In a repeat of the first game, Edman scored on a passed ball by Alfaro.  Paul DeJong followed with a ground out that plated Goldschmidt.  Matt Carpenter was intentionally walked and Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Arenado.  St. Louis took the lead, 3-2.

The Cardinals increased their lead to the final score of 4-2 on a solo home run by Dylan Carlson in the ninth inning.  Molina went 2-for-3 as the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Starter John Gant gutted his way through four innings.  He gave up one run on four hits while fanning four and walking three. Ryan Helsley tossed 1 1/3 innings of relief during which he surrendered one run on two hits. Helsley ended up with the win.  Genesis Cabrera secured the final two outs of the sixth before Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless seventh.  Tyler Webb started the eighth and got two outs before Alex Reyes finished the final 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his second save.

Tyler O’Neill made two errors on the same play, one fielding and one throwing.  Edman stole his first base of the season.

Wednesday, April 7 – Cardinals 7 at Marlins 0

Jack Flaherty (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

In the final game of the series and road trip, the Redbirds blanked the Marlins 7-0 behind a good start by ace Jack Flaherty.  The right hander pitched six scoreless innings with one hit allowed and six punchouts.  The only blemish on the outing was four walks as Flaherty earned his first win of the season.

Genesis Cabrera relieved for the seventh and tossed two scoreless innings.  Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless ninth.

The game had been scoreless on both sides until the seventh.  The Cardinals offense was generated by a two run home run from Yadier Molina in the seventh and a grand slam by Dylan Carlson in the ninth.  The other run came in the eighth on an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt.  Tommy Edman was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, as he went 3-for-5 but with no RBI.

Edman did get his second stolen base of the season.  Flaherty had a pickoff at second base.

Thursday, April 8 – Cardinals 3, Brewers 1

Nolan Arenado (St. Louis Cardinals)

The Cardinals returned to Busch Stadium for their 2021 Home Opener against the Brewers.  Following the festivities, Adam Wainwright took the field for his sixth opening day start.  The veteran right hander pitched five innings and gave up one run on five hits.  He fanned six and walked two but got a no decision.

Four relievers tossed one scoreless inning each – Ryan Helsley, Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes.  Gallegos earned the win and Reyes the save, his third.

The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. The Cardinals remained scoreless until the seventh when Yadier Molina singled, Dylan Carlson doubled, and Tyler O’Neill drove in Molina on an infield single.

In the eighth, Austin Dean drew a walk and Nolan Arenado blasted the first pitch he saw in the at bat for a dramatic two run home run, his first as a Cardinal.  St. Louis led 3-1, a score that would remain through the end of the game.

Wainwright made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at second base and center fielder Dylan Carlson committed a fielding miscue on the same play, which resulted in the Brewers’ only run.

Friday, April 9 – Off day

Saturday, April 10 – Cardinals 5, Brewers 9

The second game of the Brewers series was a bitter loss for the Redbirds.  The pitching failed, as the offense scored five runs on 11 hits, which should have been enough to win.

Starter Carlos Martinez yielded three runs in five innings.  The right hander allowed eight hits, struck out one and walked one.  Martinez was the losing pitcher.

Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless sixth.  Tyler Webb started the seventh and allowed four runs in 2/3 innings.  Andrew Miller was responsible for an additional two runs in relief of Webb in large part due to a three-run home run served up to his first batter.  Jake Woodford pitched the final 1 2/3 scoreless innings before being sent down after the game for a fresh arm.

The offense was held scoreless until the sixth when Yadier Molina drew a walk and Austin Dean singled.  Justin William hit a grounder to first that was misplayed by Brewers 1B Keston Hiura.  The error allowed both Molina and Dean to score.  The Brewers still led 3-2.

Milwaukee plated five in the in the seventh to make it 8-2, then added another run in eighth.  The Cardinals rallied in the home eighth with three runs, scoring on a Molina single, a walk by Dylan Carlson and a three run bomb by Austin Dean.  That closed the scoring.

Sunday, April 11 – Cardinals 3, Brewers 9

In the rubber game, Cardinals pitching once again faltered and they dropped the home series with a 9-3 loss on Sunday.

Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon did not make it through the second inning. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, the right hander allowed seven runs on six hits, with no strikeouts and four walks.

Newly recalled Johan Oviedo relieved in the second and stopped the bleeding.  The right hander pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings, with two hits allowed, four punchouts and two walks.  Jordan Hicks added 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Tyler Webb followed with 2/3 scoreless innings.  Genesis Cabrera pitched the ninth and surrendered two runs.

The offense was unable to crawl out of the seven run hole created by Ponce de Leon.  Ironically, Oviedo drove in the Cardinals first run on a ground out.  Austin Dean’s double in the sixth plated St. Louis’ final two runs as the outfielder went 2-for-4.

Paul DeJong made his third miscue of the young season on an errant throw.

Big Picture

Opening week, the Cardinals lost the first series of the season to the Reds.  A series win against the Marlins was a goal and the Cardinals exceeded that by a sweep in Miami.  The week ended with another series loss, yet the Cardinals came out ahead in the week, 4-2.

Pitching continues to be the Achilles heel so far for the Redbirds.  Though the offense could be better, especially at positions 5-9, it was pitching that failed miserably in the series loss to the Brewers.  The rotation is battered with injuries and the bullpen has been inconsistent at best.  The starters have been inconsistent and their inability to go deeper into games is putting pressure on the relievers. Only three members of the pen, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes, have been consistently reliable.  Johan Oviedo was a bright spot on Sunday in relief of Ponce de Leon.

The offense is mostly coming from the top of the order.  Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Yadier Molina have been the bulk of the offense so far.  Dylan Carlson has contributed three home runs, but with a high strikeout rate.  Austin Dean has contributed as well in limited appearances.  More contribution throughout the order is needed.  The outfield especially has been a mixed bag.  With Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader both on the injured list, it is going to be up to replacements Dean and Lane Thomas as well as Justin Williams to provide offensive production along with Carlson.

The defense has been fine, though Paul DeJong has three errors early in the season.  DeJong has also been unproductive with the bat in the last two series and was moved out of the cleanup spot on Sunday in favor of the 38-year-old Molina.

The Cardinals play the Nationals at Busch to start the week and then end the week playing the Phillies in Philadelphia.  Both teams will be tough so pitching must be better and the offense needs to pick it up.  As a result of the two losses to the Brewers, St. Louis is now tied for second place in the division behind the Reds.  Winning series should be the Cardinals’ prescription.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Cincinnati 6 3 0.667
Milwaukee 5 4 0.556 1
St. Louis 5 4 0.556 1
Chicago 4 5 0.444 2
Pittsburgh 3 6 0.333 3

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 4/11 The Cardinals recalled CF Lane Thomas from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals placed LF Tyler O’Neill on the 10 day injured list. Right groin strain.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals optioned RHP Jake Woodford to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals recalled RHP Johan Oviedo from the Alternate Training Site.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) continues his rehab at the Alternate Training Site. The plan is for the right hander to throw to live hitters in simulated games.  No timetable for his return has been reported.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) is on the 10 day injured list but returned with the Cardinals to St. Louis following the series in Miami. On Sunday, Kim pitched his final simulated game of six innings before returning to the rotation, which will likely come during the upcoming road trip.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right forearm flexor tendon) remains on the 10 day injured list. The injury is described as a right flexor strain but with no damage to the ligament. Bader has received a platelet rich plasma injection and  is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks.   The outfielder returned to St. Louis and has been sent to the Alternate Training site.  He has begun some light baseball activity but has not resumed throwing or hitting.
  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt was scratched from the Opening Day lineup with lower back tightness. Goldschmidt was back in the lineup for the second game of the series on Saturday.
  • LF Tyler O’Neill was placed on the 10 day injured list with a right groin strain. The injury occurred in Saturday’s game as the outfielder was running out a ground ball.  Imaging showed no significant damage so it is expected O’Neill will be able to return to the roster when the 10 days are up.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals homestand continues on Monday against the Nationals to open a three game series. John Gant gets the start on Monday, followed by Jack Flaherty on Tuesday, and Adam Wainwright on Wednesday.

The Cardinals travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to begin a three game weekend series on Friday with the Phillies. Next, the team will go to Washington to play the Nationals for the second time in a three game series.

Following a travel day on Thursday, the Cardinals return home to Busch Stadium for a weekend series against the Reds.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s installment of the Cardinals Hall of Fame series considers a Cardinals broadcaster not named Buck or Shannon.  This writer admits not having ever heard of this broadcaster prior to researching this article.  It is my loss.

Francis “France” Laux Jr. was born on December 3, 1897 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He was the son of J. Francis Laux Sr., a local judge. His nickname “France” was given to him by classmates in school.  Laux was a multi sport athlete in high school and attended Oklahoma City College.

After service in World War I, Laux managed a semi-pro baseball team in Guthrie.  His other jobs included insurance and real estate broker and refereeing college football games.

Laux’s broadcasting career began in a unique way.  On the eve of the 1927 World Series between the Pirates and the Yankees, the regular announcer left local radio station KVOO in a disagreement less than an hour before first pitch.   The station manager called on Laux because he was the only person the manager could think of who knew enough about baseball to do the job.  The manager had to find Laux on the streets of Bristow, 45 miles away and drive him back to the station.  The two arrived with 90 seconds to spare.  So with very short notice, Laux began his broadcast career calling the 1927 World Series.

Laux did such a good job that he was hired to be the station’s regular sports announcer.  He broadcast baseball and football for KVOO for two years.

France Laux

When KMOX in St. Louis was in need of a baseball announcer in 1929, they searched and found Laux.  He was brought in for a 30 day trial run calling both Cardinals and Browns games.  The trial was successful and Laux was hired.

Laux became very popular, with St. Louis the southernmost and westernmost city with a major league baseball team.  KMOX’ 50,000 watt channel was heard all over the western and southern parts of the country, and virtually coast to coast at night.

Laux was the voice of the Cardinals and Browns from 1929 to 1942.  After 1942, he called only for the Cardinals.  After the 1943 season, Laux resigned, only to return in 1948 to call Browns games. After the 1948 season, Laux broadcast only weekend games for the Browns until the Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1953 season.

In the late 1950s, Laux co-hosted a show called Batting Practice with Jack Buck, which functioned as a pre-game show for Cardinals road games.

After leaving broadcasting, Laux turned his attention to a bowling house he had purchased in St. Louis and his duties as the secretary of the American Bowling Congress.  Laux passed away on November 16, 1978 at the age of 80.

One could say that Laux had a similar appeal to Cardinals fans as Buck did later on.  He was the voice of the Cardinals before Buck.   As such, Laux deserves to be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame because of his two decades of Cardinals broadcasting and huge popularity and reach.  The unfortunate fact that this writer hadn’t heard of him should be no impediment as this speaks more to my deficiencies than it does to Laux’s.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Update – April 9, 2021


2021 Prospect Guide now available!

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 29-April 4

photo: Jake Woodford and Nick Castellanos (Albert Cesare/Imagn)

Spring Training Game Recaps

Monday, March 29 – Cardinals 3, Mets 3

The St. Louis Cardinals’ final spring game ended in a 3-3 tie with the Mets in Jupiter.  Adam Wainwright had his final spring tune up and pitched only 2 2/3 innings in his final spring appearance.  The right hander gave up two runs on three hits, struck out one and walked one.  Jesus Cruz came in to get the final out of the third inning.  Carlos Martinez followed with three scoreless innings and Andrew Miller tossed one scoreless frame. Ryan Helsley surrendered one run in the eighth and Giovanny Gallegos tossed a scoreless ninth.

The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the first before Nolan Arenado answered with a solo home run.  In the third inning, Matt Carpenter plated St. Louis’ second run on a single.

The Mets grabbed a 3-2 lead in the eighth, but in the bottom of the ninth, Edmundo Sosa thumped a solo home run to end the game in a 3-3 tie.

Regular Season Game Recaps

Thursday, April 1 – Cardinals 11 at Reds 6

Dylan Carlson (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

The Cardinals began the 2021 regular season with a three-game series in Cincinnati.  In the chilly opener, St. Louis came out ahead by the score of 11-6.  Jack Flaherty made the opening day start and pitched 4 1/3 innings.  The right hander gave up six runs on six hits, fanned four and walked two.  Tyler Webb secured the final two outs of thre fifth.  From that point on Cardinals pitching shut down the Reds offense.  Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes each pitched a scoreless inning.  Gallegos got the win.

The Redbirds offense scored 11 runs on 10 hits.  The bulk of the scoring came in the first inning off Reds starter Luis Castillo.  Paul Goldschmidt hit a missile that hit the right field wall and was initially ruled a home run.  A review overturned the ruling and Goldschmidt had a double.  He scored on a single by Paul DeJong following a Nolan Arenado single.  Tyler O’Neill was hit by a pitch and a fielding error on a ground ball hit by Yadier Molina allowed Arenado and DeJong to score.  Dylan Carlson then hit a three run home run to make it 6-0 in favor of St. Louis.

The Cardinals scored a seventh run in the second inning on a single by Arenado.  In the fourth, Flaherty drew a walk and Tommy Edman singled.  Goldschmidt singled to score Flaherty, and Edman came home on a wild pitch.  Tyler O’Neil then blasted a two run home run to left field.

Goldschmidt went 4-for-5 and Arenado was 2-for-5. O’Neill had two RBI and Carlson plated three.

O’Neill had an outfield assist at second base.

Friday, April 2 – Off day

Saturday, April 3 – Cardinals 6 at Reds 9

Paul DeJong (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

The Cardinals did not take their winning momentum into Saturday’s game in Cincinnati.  The game started out fine, as the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo home run by Paul DeJong.

The wheels came off the bus in the bottom of the third inning.  Starter Adam Wainwright cruised through two, but gave up a leadoff walk in the third.  Leadoff walks are a bad omen generally and this time was no exception. A bad pitch to Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart sent the ball over the right center field wall for two runs.  That one bad pitch led to a torrent of weak and lucky hits to follow.  Six ground ball singles, two that never left the infield, led to four additional runs scored and a 6-1 Reds lead. After the sixth run, Wainwright was removed. Jake Woodford got the final out of the inning and stopped the bleeding.

St. Louis got one back in the top of the fourth on a second solo home run by DeJong.  With Woodford still pitching, the Reds added two additional runs in the bottom half of the fourth. A brawl ensued after Nick Castellanos, who Woodford had earlier hit with a pitch, scored on a wild pitch and then flexed himself with Woodford sitting on the ground after attempting to tag the Reds outfielder at the plate.  After the melee was over and the play resumed, Woodford hit Jonathan India with a pitch with the bases loaded, allowing Joey Votto to score.

The Cardinals made the score 8-3 in the top of sixth when Arenado singled and then later scored on a Dylan Carlson fly ball misplayed in the sun by Reds outfielder Aristedes Aquino.   The Reds responded with one more run in the bottom frame off Andrew Miller.   A three up and three down seventh inning occurred for both sides, with Jordan Hicks in for Miller.  In the eighth the Cardinals manufactured a run on two walks, a single and a sac fly by Carlson.  Tyler Webb retired all three Reds he faced.

In the top of the ninth, with the Cards down five runs, Nolan Arenado hit a two run home run to make it 9-6.

Sunday, April 4 – Cardinals 1 at Reds 12

Sunday’s game was even uglier than the day before, except without the brawl.  Once again it started fine, with starter Carlos Martinez cruising through the first three innings, though the offense had yet to score.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Reds broke through and Cardinals nemesis Nick Castellanos tripled on a Martinez slider that didn’t slide. Joey Votto followed with an RBI single.

Things hadn’t gotten bad yet though, because the Cardinals scored in the top of the fifth to knot it up 1-1.  Tyler O’Neill doubled and Yadier Molina followed with a single to plate O’Neill.

Martinez came back for the bottom of the fifth and after retiring his first batter, gave up a single to catcher Tyler Stephenson.  A wild pitch and a walk followed.  Martinez induced a ground out for the second out to bring up Castellanos, who smacked a cutter up in the zone for a three run home run.  The Reds led 4-1.

In the sixth, the Reds knocked relievers Ryan Helsley and Tyler Webb around for six runs.  They scored two more against Genesis Cabrera in the seventh.  The only Cardinal pitcher to come out unscathed was Andrew Miller, who pitched a scoreless eighth.

The Cardinals did not score again after the one run in the fifth inning.

The Big Picture

It is only three games into the season, but it is not looking good so far.  The Reds series was ugly after the first game.  The pitching throughout the series was not good, though the offense hit enough in the first game to overcome it.

The state of Cardinals pitching was precarious coming into the season because of injury to two pitchers in the rotation, Miles Mikolas and Kwang-Hyun Kim.  Because of those injuries, two pitchers who would ordinarily be in the bullpen were put in the rotation, Daniel Ponce de Leon and John Gant.  So they have yet to pitch in 2021. Gant had been one of the Cardinals’ most reliable relievers, so his services could have been beneficial in the Reds series.  Previously, Ponce de Leon had mostly been deployed as a long man out of the bullpen.

None of the three front-line starters in the series lasted past the fifth inning.  This was taxing on the bullpen and it showed.

The offense didn’t show up in the final game of the series.  It is too early to start talking about either pitching or offense being an issue but the Reds series loss was a bad omen.  Perhaps things will go better in Miami against the Marlins, although the Cardinals had a tough time with the Marlins in spring training so it won’t be a cake walk.  The pitching has to be better and the offense more consistent.

Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Paul DeJong, and Tyler O’Neill provided the bulk of the offense in the Queen City.  The rest of the lineup needs to be better, most especially RF Justin Williams, who was 0-for-9 with five strikeouts in the series.  Williams will likely get the day off on Monday in favor of Austin Dean with a left hander on the mound for the Marlins.

St. Louis is now 1-2 on the season and will face the Marlins in Miami starting Monday.  The Cardinals need to win at least 2 of the 3 games to return to .500.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Chicago 2 1 0.667
Cincinnati 2 1 0.667
Milwaukee 1 2 0.333 1
Pittsburgh 1 2 0.333 1
St. Louis 1 2 0.333 1

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 4/1 The Cardinals placed CF Harrison Bader on the 10 day injured list.
  • 4/1 The Cardinals placed RHP Miles Mikolas on the 10 day injured list
  • 4/1 The Cardinals placed LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim on the 10 day injured list.
  • 4/1 The Cardinals placed RHP Dakota Hudson on the 10 day injured list.
  • 4/1 The Cardinals claimed LHP Bernardo Flores Jr off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) still has not faced live hitters since February 25 but is making progress. He opened the season on the 10 day injured list.  He threw a bullpen session on Friday and the plan is for the right hander to pitch to live hitters at the Alternate Site in Sauget, IL in the near future.  Mikolas could be ready for a return in late April/early May.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) has been placed on the 10 day injured list and is set to pitch in a simulation game on Tuesday in Jupiter. It is possible that the left hander will fly back with the team to St. Louis when they return from the three game series in Miami that begins on Monday.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right forearm flexor tendon) has been placed on the 10 day injured list. The injury is described as a right flexor strain but with no damage to the ligament. Bader has received a platelet rich plasma injection and  is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks. Like Mikolas, he will be rehbbing at the Alternate Site.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals will play the Marlins in Miami a three game series beginning Monday, April 5.  Daniel Ponce de Leon is scheduled to make the Monday start, followed by John Gant on Tuesday, and Jack Flaherty on Wednesday.

The Cardinals return to St. Louis on Thursday, April 8 for the home opener against the Brewers.  Adam Wainwright will make the start.  After a Friday off day, the series continues on Saturday and Sunday against the Brewers, with Carlos Martinez and Ponce de Leon the probable pitchers.

The team continues the homestand next Monday against the COVID-struck Nationals for three games before a day off Thursday.  The Cardinals will travel to Philadelphia for a three game weekend series starting next Friday with the Phillies.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s installment of the Cardinals Hall of Fame candidacy series takes a look at a man who made history as the first Latin player for the Cardinals and one of the first Latin players in baseball.  He was a player, a coach, and a manager for St. Louis.

Mike Gonzalez

Miguel Angel Gonzalez Cordero a/k/a Mike Gonzalez, was born on September 24, 1890 in Havana, Cuba.  Gonzalez played baseball as a boy, as the sport had become popular in Cuba at that time.  He also played in school at the Institute of Havana.  Working as a bank clerk, he was recruited to play baseball by the Cuban baseball Club Fé.  At a height of 6’1”, he first suited up for the club as a shortstop in 1910, appearing in six games.

The next winter Mike was playing catcher and was spotted by the owner of the Long Branch Cubans, a New Jersey minor league team composed almost entirely of Cubans.  Mike played catcher for the New York/New Jersey League pennant winners of 1912.

The Cubans owner sold Gonzalez’ contract to the Boston Braves following the season.  He made his major league debut on September 28 at the age of 22.  He played in one game and in 1913 the Braves attempted to assign him to their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre but he refused and the Long Branch Cubans purchased his optional release and then subsequently his outright release.

Gonzelez returned to Cuba in 1913 and was traded from Fé to Habana.  He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds for the 1914 season.  Gonzalez returned to Habana in the fall as the manager and would have a long standing role as manager of Habana over his life, winning 13 Cuban League titles.

In April 1915, the Reds traded Mike to the Cardinals.  Gonzalez would play eight seasons for the Cardinals in three separate stints over his major league career, from 1915-1918, 1924-1925, and 1931-1932.  In between he also played for the New York Giants and the Cubs.  In 1933, he returned to the minor leagues as a player/coach for the Columbus Red Wings at the age of 42.  In eight seasons for the Cardinals, Gonzalez slashed .262/.320/.332 with seven home runs and 150 RBI.

Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch needed a coach for the 1934 season and added Gonzalez. As a coach for the notorious “Gashouse Gang”, he helped that team win the World Series over the Detroit Tigers in seven games.  Mike continued under Frisch until the manager was fired with 16 games remaining in the 1938 season. Gonzalez was named interim manager, making him the first Latin manager in the major leagues.

It was Gonzalez who recommended Ray Blades to Branch Rickey as the new manager of the Cardinals.  Mike would coach for Blades until Blades was fired in June 1940 and Mike again became interim manager.  The Cardinals then hired Billy Southworth and Mike coached for Billy until he left in 1945 to manage the Braves.  The Cardinals hired Eddie Dyer and Gonzalez was kept as the third base coach.

One of the most famous plays in World Series history happened in the 1946 series while Mike was third base coach.  Enos Slaughter’s “Mad Dash” that scored the winning run occurred either because Gonzalez  waved Slaughter home or Slaughter ignored a stop sign.  No one knows which one it was to this day although films appear to show Gonzalez waving Slaughter home.  Other accounts suggest otherwise.

Gonzalez is credited with contributing to baseball terminology that is still in use today.  Mike was asked to scout a winter league player by the New York Giants and he sent back a brief scouting report that said “Good field, no hit”.

Mike resigned from the Cardinals after the 1946 season in protest of a ban by major league baseball of players who played for the Mexican League.  MLB subsequently ruled him ineligible from working for U.S baseball.  Although the dispute between MLB and the Mexican League was ultimately resolved, Gonzalez never returned to major league baseball.

Gonzalez returned to Cuba and continued to manage Habana until he retired in 1953.  He passed away at the age of 86 on February 19, 1977.  He was survived by his second wife and a son, Miguel Jr.

Mike Gonzalez was a history maker for the Cardinals and a loyal player, coach and manager.  He received accolades from everyone around him, including Rickey and the managers for whom he coached.  He was considered an astute baseball man who had the ability to crack the code of signs and who had such a memory that he could recall the strengths and weaknesses of every player.  The dispute that resulted in his leaving MLB and the US was resolved and is long past.  Gonzalez’ contributions are obvious and he deserves a posthumous induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.


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Cardinals Prepare for 2021 Minor League Camp


2021 Prospect Guide now available!

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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.

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© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 22-28

photo: 1944 St. Louis Cardinals

Spring Training Game Recaps

Monday, March 22 – Cardinals 2 at Marlins 7

The St. Louis Cardinals were the visiting team in last Monday’s contest against the Marlins.  The Marlins defeated the Redbirds, 7-2.

Starter Jack Flaherty tossed 5 1/3 innings while giving up four runs, three earned, on five hits.  The right hander fanned five and walked three. Tyler Webb, Giovanny Gallegos and Austin Warner followed.  Webb pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.  Gallegos allowed three runs on 2 hits in 2/3 innings.  Warner got the last out of the eighth.

St. Louis’ offense took a 2-0 lead with runs in the second and fourth innings.  Dylan Carlson hit a solo home run and also drove in the second run on a single in the fourth inning.  Those were the only runs scored by the St. Louis offense.  Carlson went 2-for-3 as did Paul Goldschmidt.

In the field, Matt Carpenter made a fielding error and Flaherty had a throwing miscue.

Tuesday, March 23 – Cardinals 5, Nationals 5

Tuesday’s game between the Cardinals and the Nationals in Jupiter ended in a tie.  Adam Wainwright tossed a quality start, going six innings and giving up one run on two hits.  The veteran righty fanned seven and walked one.  Genesis Cabrera and Jesus Cruz combined for the seventh, with three runs charged to Cabrera.  Two of the runs were unearned. Alex Reyes surrendered one run in the eighth and Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless ninth.

Adam Wainwright

The Nationals got on the board first but the Redbirds tied it up in the fourth on a sac fly by Yadier Molina.  The Nats regained the lead with three in the seventh.

In the bottom of the seventh, Max Moroff singled in run to make it 4-2.  The Nationals made it 5-2 in the eighth but the Cardinals surged in the bottom of the ninth for three runs to tie.  Austin Dean blasted a two-run home run and Jose Rondon followed with a single to plate the tying run.

St. Louis’ defense made two errors, a fielding mistake by Edmundo Sosa and a pickoff error by catcher Dennis Ortega.  Tyler O’Neill stole his second base of the spring.

Wednesday, March 24 – Cardinals 3, Mets 0

The Cardinals blanked the Mets in Jupiter on Wednesday. St. Louis took a 1-0 lead on a second inning solo home run by John Nogowski.   The Redbirds did not score again until the eighth, when Justin Williams plated two runs on a single to left field.  Nogowski went 2-for-2 as the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez pitched six scoreless innings for his best outing of the spring. The right hander allowed four hits, struck out five and walked two.  Jake Woodford followed with two scoreless frames and Jordan Hicks tossed a scoreless ninth.

Nolan Gorman made a throwing error, his second of the spring.

Thursday, March 25 – Cardinals 0 at Astros 3

Following the 3-0 win on Wednesday, the Cardinals fell in a 3-0 loss to the Astros on Thursday in Palm Beach.  Daniel Ponce de Leon took the mound and pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits, struck out three and walked six.  Jesus Cruz and Evan Kruczynski combined to get the final two outs of the fifth.  Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley, and Kodi Whitley each added a scoreless inning.

St. Louis’ offense managed a meager two hits, a double by Nolan Arenado and a single from Tommy Edman.

Friday, March 26 – Off day

Saturday, March 27 – Cardinals 4, Marlins 6

The Cardinals played an evening game against their spring training facilities partners the Miami Marlins for the final time this spring.  The two teams will meet in Miami in the first full week of the regular season.

St. Louis’ offense picked up considerably from the paltry showing the day before, but it was insufficient to overcome the greater output from their opponents.  Tyler O’Neill drove in two of the four runs.  The first run came in the first inning on a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt, his second long ball of the spring.  O’Neill plated a run on a single in the fourth inning.  The other Paul, Paul DeJong, added an RBI single in the seventh and O’Neill singled in a run in the ninth.

The offense had a total of 15 hits.  Yadier Molina went 3-for-5. Goldschmidt, O’Neill and Nolan Arenado had two hits each.

Jack Flaherty had a planned short outing, pitching only three innings, allowing only one run on three hits. He fanned four.  Kwang-Hyun Kim made his first appearance since going down with a back ailment. The lefty added two innings in which he gave up two runs on three hits.  Genesis Cabrera surrendered a run in the sixth inning. Alex Reyes tossed a scoreless seventh. Zack Thompson surrendered two runs in the eighth and Kodi Whitley pitched a scoreless ninth.

Tommy Edman made a fielding error, his first of the spring.  O’Neill stole his third base and DeJong stole his first.

Sunday, March 28 – Cardinals 3 at Nationals 11

The Cardinals were trounced by the Nationals in Palm Beach in a game that got away in the late innings.

The Nationals took a 2-0 lead but the Cardinals tied it up with two runs in the third on a double play ball by John Nogowski and an RBI single by Yadier Molina.  The Redbirds took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Nogowski’s sac fly.  The Nationals knotted it up 3-3 in the seventh.

The wheels came off the bus in the bottom half of the eighth as the Nationals put up eight runs.  The game was started by Matthew Liberatore, who pitched 2 1/3 innings and yielded two runs on three hits. Jake Woodford followed with 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless sixth.  Tommy Parsons entered in the seventh and gave up the tying run, a solo shot.

Tyler Webb started the eventful eighth and gave up two singles, a double and walk that added two runs to the Nationals’ lead.  Parsons then returned to replace Webb with one out. Five more runs would score before Parsons was replaced by Roel Ramirez. Ramirez allowed an additional run that was charged to Parsons before finishing the inning.  Webb and Parsons surrendered nine runs between them over the two innings.

St. Louis’ offense scored three runs on six hits. Tommy Edman went 2-for-3.  Austin Dean stole his second base of the spring.

News and Notes from Spring Training

  • The Cardinals break camp on Monday after the game and head to Cincinnati. The roster has been set.  It consists of pitchers Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Daniel Ponce de Leon and John Gant as starters.  Bullpen will be Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes, Tyler Webb, Andrew Miller, Jake Woodford, Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera, and Ryan Helsley.  Position players will be C Yadier Molina, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Tommy Edman, SS Paul DeJong, 3B Nolan Arenado, LF Tyler O’Neill, CF Dylan Carlson and RF Justin Williams.  Bench will be C Andrew Knizner, IF Matt Carpenter, IF Edmundo Sosa, IF John Nogowski and OF Austin Dean.
  • Carpenter will be a bench player. O’Neill will be the starting LF and Carlson will be starting CF until Harrison Bader returns from injury.  RF will be open but Williams may have the inside track to start.
  • Pitchers Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Kwang-Hyun Kim, along with CF Harrison Bader will be placed on the 10-day injured list to start the season.
  • The players to be assigned to Alternate Camp will go to Sauget, IL on the 3rd or 4th of April.

For further information:

Cardinals Make 2021 Opening Day Roster Decisions

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 3/25 The Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oveido to minor league camp.
  • 3/25 The Cardinals re-assigned RHP Jesus Cruz, RHP Tommy Parsons, LHP Matthew Liberatore, LHP Zack Thompson, LHP Evan Kruczynski, 3B Nolan Gorman, and OF Matt Szczur to minor league camp.
  • 3/28 The Cardinals optioned RHP Kodi Whitley and OF Lane Thomas to minor league camp.
  • 3/28 The Cardinals reassigned C Tyler Heineman, C Dennis Ortega, IF Max Moroff, and IF Jose Rondon to minor league camp.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) still has not faced live hitters since Feb. 25 but is making progress. He played extended catch on Friday.  The right hander was recovering from surgery on his right flexor tendon and had issues with a sore shoulder while throwing.  An MRI showed no structural issues, but Mikolas will not be ready for Opening Day and his return to the rotation for the regular season is yet to be determined.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) returned to game action on Saturday against the Marlins. He pitched two innings in relief of Jack Flaherty.  Kim will not travel to Cincinnati with the team next week.  The timing of his first start of the regular season is yet to be determined.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right forearm flexor tendon) has had a reoccurrence of his arm issues and will begin the season on the injured list. The injury is described as a right flexor strain but with no damage to the ligament. Bader has received a platelet rich plasma injection and will be shut down from baseball activities for two weeks and then be re-evaluated.  Bader is expected to miss at least four to six weeks.

Looking Ahead

The final game of spring will be played on Monday against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium.  The game will begin at 11:05 CT with Adam Wainwright starting.

The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati in the Reds home opener.  Game time is 3:10 pm CT.  Jack Flaherty is scheduled to make the Opening Day start.  The next day will be an off day and the three-game series will continue on Saturday, April 3. Adam Wainwright will make the Saturday start, followed by Carlos Martinez on Sunday.

The Cardinals rotation is set at Flaherty, Wainwright, Martinez, Daniel Ponce de Leon, and John Gant. This will be the rotation until regular starter Kwang-Hyun Kim is ready to make his first start.  Starter Miles Mikolas will return to the rotation some time after Kim’s return.

Following the Reds series, the Cardinals will travel to Miami to play the Marlins in a three-game series.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s fourth installment of the series on non-playing individuals to be considered for the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, takes a look at an unusual candidate.  This man was neither a player, a coach nor a member of the front office.  He was a much beloved staff member, a clubhouse attendant for over 50 years.

There is not much biographical information available at the ready for Morris “Butch” Yatkeman, but it appears he was born on June 15, 1908, likely in St. Louis, where he at least grew up near Sportsman’s Park.  He was hanging around the park entrance one afternoon in 1924, as a 16 year old, when he was asked to act as the Cardinals batboy.  Soon after he became the regular batboy.

He made his first road trip with the team when they played the New York Yankees in the 1926 World Series.  The batboy job evolved into equipment manager, then clubhouse attendant over the next 58 years.

Yatkeman’s job as clubhouse attendant meant he was in charge of player’s uniforms.  He not only arranged for the uniforms and equipment to be transported from city to city, he also had each player’s uniform tailored to the exact standards each player required.  Butch fitted players from Stan Musial to Ozzie Smith, each to that player’s liking.  He was much beloved in the clubhouse.

1944 St. Louis Cardinals

(In this 1944 Cardinals team photo, Yatkeman is at the far left of the back row.)

Yatkeman retired after the Cardinals won the World Series in 1982.  He told the New York Times in an interview that October that what makes a good clubhouse man is keeping your mouth shut.  He no doubt had plenty of secrets to tell, but he never did.  He said his two favorite players were Stan Musial and Roger Maris.

During the years Butch was in the clubhouse the Cardinals won 13 NL pennants and nine World Series, the last one in 1982. After Yatkeman retired, the Cardinals didn’t win another World Series unti 2006.  Some called the 24-year drought “Yatkeman’s Curse” because of the organization’s failure to publicly recognize their long time clubhouse employee.

Butch never married and retired to live out his days in Hazelwood, MO.  He passed away on January 20, 2000 at the age of 91.

What are the reasons to put Yatkeman in the Cardinals Hall of Fame?  Aside from being a most beloved and long term employee, the other reasons should be obvious.  The Cardinals haven’t had a streak of pennants and championships like they did while Butch was in the clubhouse.  Is there a cause and effect?  Who knows, but the facts are there.  Seriously though, the Cardinals Hall of Fame should encompass all those who contributed, not just those who did so on the field or in the front office.  Butch gave most of his life to the organization and deserves to be recognized.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

2021 Cardinals Prospects – Others’ Consolidated Top 10


2021 Prospect Guide now available!

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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.

Follow Marilyn Green on Twitter @Marilyncolor.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 15-21

photo: Kwang-Hyun Kim via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Spring Training Game Recaps

Monday, March 15 – Cardinals 4, Nationals 2

The St. Louis Cardinals were the victors over the Nationals 4-2 on Monday at Roger Dean Stadium.   Right hander John Gant made the start and tossed 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits.  He struck out three and walked two.

John Gant

Gant was followed by Kodi Whitley, Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb, Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes. Whitley got the final out of the fifth, and Miller, Webb, Cabrera and Reyes each pitched a scoreless inning.

The Cardinals offense put up four runs on nine hits.  Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill both went 2-for-3.    Three of the four runs scored in the fifth inning on Dylan Carlson’s triple, Nolan Gorman’s double, and an RBI single by Nolan Arenado.  Ednundo Sosa scored on a wild pitch in the eighth.

Paul Goldschmidt and Harrison Bader each singled and Sosa doubled.

Tuesday, March 16 – Off day

Wednesday, March 17 – Cardinals 4 at Astros 4

The Cardinals’ trip to play the Astros at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ended in a 4-4 tie.  St. Louis scored in the first inning on a two-run long ball from Paul Goldschmidt.

Paul Goldschmidt

The offense did not score again until the eighth inning. Max Moroff led off with a double and John Nogowski followed with a walk.  Jose Rondon hit into a fielder’s choice and Moroff scored on a throwing error by the Astros shortstop. With Nogowski on third, Austin Dean’s sac fly plated the fourth run.  The Cardinals had seven hits in total, with Tommy Edman going 3-for-3.

Starter Adam Wainwright pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He fanned four and walked one.  Angel Rondon got the final out of the fifth inning.  Jordan Hicks started the sixth and gave up one run before leaving with two outs.  Jesus Cruz finished the inning.  Jake Woodford followed with 1 2/3 innings in which he surrendered a run.  Seth Elledge and Kodi Whitley combined for the final 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Tyler O’Neill and Edman each stole a base – O’Neill’s first and Edman’s second of the spring.  Edman and Dylan Carlson were picked off, Edman off second base and Carlson off first.  Hicks made a fielding error.

Thursday, March 18 – Cardinals 7, Marlins 5

The Cardinals were the home team at Roger Dean Stadium as they took on the Marlins, who they defeated 7-5.   Daniel Ponce de Leon took the mound to start and the right hander hurled five innings.  He surrendered four runs on four hits, struck out four and walked three.

Tyler Webb and Genesis Cabrera tossed a scoreless sixth and seventh, respectively.  Alex Reyes gave up a run in the eighth, his first of the spring, and was replaced with two outs by Roel Ramirez. Zack Thompson added a scoreless ninth.

Paul DeJong

The Redbirds offense scored seven runs on 13 hits. Paul DeJong, Justin Williams, and Austin Dean each went 2-for-3. Nolan Gorman was 2-for-2.  DeJong hit his first spring home run in the first inning to put the Cardinals on the board.  It was a two-run shot.

Dean plated a run on a single in the fourth.  In the eighth, Jose Rondon drew a bases loaded walk and Gorman doubled to clear the bases for three final runs.

Williams had an outfield assist at home plate.

Friday, March 19 – Cardinals 5 at Mets 8

The Cardinals were defeated by the Mets in Port St. Lucie by the score of 8-5.  St. Louis’ offense was held scoreless until the sixth inning when they finally got to Mets pitching for three runs.  Max Moroff blasted a two-run home run to right field following a walk by John Nogowski. Dylan Carlson singled and Evan Mendoza drove him home on a double.

The Cardinals scored again in the eighth when Nogowski singled and Scott Hurst thumped a two-run home run to right center field.  In addition to the two home runs and the Mendoza double, Delvin Perez doubled.

Carlos Martinez made the start for St. Loius.  The right hander pitched three innings and gave up five runs on five hits while striking out one and walking two.  Evan Kruczynski and Tommy Parsons combined for the fourth inning.  Parsons surrendered two runs in his 2/3-inning outing. Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegos followed with a scoreless inning each.  Matthew Liberatore tossed 1 2/3 innings and allowed one run. Jesus Cruz secured the final out of the eighth.

The Cardinals committed one error, a throwing error by third baseman Mendoza to second sacker Nolan Gorman.

Saturday, March 20 – Cardinals 5, Astros 2

The Cardinals played the Astros for the second time in the week and were the victors by the score of 5-2.   John Gant tossed five innings and gave up one run on three hits.

Ryan Helsley surrendered one run in the sixth. Jordan Hicks and Jake Woodford each tossed a scoreless inning.  Kodi Whitley pitched a scoreless ninth.

Dylan Carlson

Dylan Carlson hit his first spring home run, a two-run shot in the second inning to get the Cardinals on the board.  The Astros tied the game with runs in the third and sixth inning.  In the bottom of the seventh, Carlson singled and Harrison Bader drew a walk.  Both later scored on a single by John Nogowksi to give the Redbirds the 4-2 lead.  In the eighth, Lane Thomas’ sac fly plated the final run.

Bader had an outfield assist at third base.

Sunday, March 21 – Off day

News and Notes from Spring Training

  • Kwang-Hyun Kim is ahead of schedule in his recovery from back tightness. He will throw in a sim game on Monday, followed by a stadium game later in the week. Nevertheless it will be close in terms of his readiness for the regular season.
  • Mike Shildt says the Cardinals will carry 13 or 14 pitchers (of the 26 total allowed) to start the season based on team need.
  • Shildt says he doesn’t expect to split Goldschmidt and Arenado in the batting order. The manager further said he likes the look of Goldschmidt batting second.
  • Adam Wainwright is a strong possibility to pitch the home opener according to Mike Shildt.
  • Sunday was an off day and there was no baseball activity. Camp was closed.

For more

For recaps of manager Mike Shildt’s daily remarks with the media, check out the Spring Training News thread at The Cardinal Nation’s free forum.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 3/20 The Cardinals optioned RHP Angel Rondon, RHP Seth Elledge, and C Ali Sanchez to Memphis Redbirds.
  • 3/20 The Cardinals optioned C Ivan Herrera to Springfield Cardinals.
  • 3/20 The Cardinals reassigned RHP Roel Ramirez, C Aaron Antonini, 3B Evan Mendoza, SS Delvin Perez, OF Scott Hurst, and OF Conner Capel to minor league camp.

Injury Report

Kwang-Hyun Kim

  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) has been throwing bullpen sessions and will pitch in a sim game before returning to one spring appearance before the end of camp. Whether Kim will be available for his first turn in the rotation when the season begins is yet to be determined.
  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) had been shut down from throwing for 7-10 days. The right hander was recovering from surgery on his right flexor tendon and has had issues with a sore shoulder while throwing.  An MRI showed no structural issues.  Mikolas resumed playing catch on Wednesday.  He remains very unlikely to be available for opening day. John Gant and Daniel Ponce de Leon have been starting in place of Mikolas and Kim.
  • OF Matt Szczur (quad) has returned to play in spring games but seems behind other outfield candidates.

Looking Ahead

The final full week of Spring Training games begins on Monday when the Cardinals as the visiting team play the Marlins as the home team at Roger Dean Stadium.  Jack Flaherty is scheduled to make the start.

The Cardinals remain in Jupiter on Tuesday to take on the Nationals. On Wednesday the Mets come to Jupiter.

The team travels to Palm Beach to play the Astros on Thursday.  After a Friday off day, the Cardinals are will again appdear at Roger Dean Stadium to play the Marlins.  The Cardinals will be the home team.

On Sunday, the Cardinals return to Palm Beach to play the Nationals.

The Spring Training game schedule can be found here.  The Cardinals are playing only the four teams on the east coast of Florida to minimize travel.  Those teams are the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals. The Cardinals have a 24-game schedule of six games each against the four teams, with four days on, then one off.

The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, game time 11:05 am CT.  The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati in the Reds home opener.  Game time is 3:10 pm CT.

Blast from the Past

The third installment in the Cardinals Hall of Fame candidacy series features the only woman in our top tier of those  considered.  She was neither a player nor a coach, but an owner.

Helene Hathaway Robison Britton was born on January 30, 1879 in Cleveland, Ohio to Frank DeHass Robison and Sarah Carver Hathaway.  Frank Robison was the owner of the Cleveland Spiders along with his brother Stanley.  They also were the joint owners of a streetcar business in Cleveland.  Helene was encouraged by her parents to become familiar with sports and she of course developed a particular interest in baseball due to her father and uncle’s ownership of the Spiders.

The Spiders folded after the 1899 season and Frank and Stanley purchased the St. Louis Brown Stockings that same year.  Helene frequently traveled on road trips with the team. The team name was changed from the Brown Stockings to the Perfectos and in 1900 to the Cardinals.

In 1901, Helene married Schuyler Pearson Britton.  Helene’s father died in 1908 and her uncle Stanley became the sole owner of the team.  Stanley died three years later and bequeathed controlling interest in the team to Helene. The remaining shares went to Helene’s mother.  “Lady Bee” thus became the first woman to own a major league baseball team.

Helene received much pressure to sell the team as many felt a woman could not successfully run a major league franchise.  She would attend National League owners meetings where the pressure to sell was even greater.  She did not relent.

Helene “Lady Bee” Britton

While Helene originally got along well with Cardinals manager Roger Bresnahan, the goodwill did not last.  In her second season of ownership, Helene and Bresnahan clashed and he made repeated offers to buy the team but she refused to sell.  At the end of the 1912 season, Helene fired Bresnahan after he angrily told her that he would not listen to a woman telling him how to run a ball game.

In 1913, Helene left Cleveland and moved her family to St. Louis to a mansion on Lindell Boulevard.  That year her husband was elected President of the Cardinals.  Though Schuyler would attend the men’s only owners meetings, Helene controlled the operation.  One of her ideas was to hold a “Ladies Day” to lure women to attend the games.  It was considered unladylike for women to attend games unescorted so to encourage women to attend she would admit women who came with male escorts for free.

Helene encountered many obstacles in her ownership, including a lack of funds to renovate the ballpark.  Despite all the issues, she held on to her ownership in the wake of continued demands that she sell.  In 1914, the team rose to third place, the highest position by the team since her father and uncle bought the franchise.  She divorced her husband in 1917, claiming he was an alcoholic and he abused her.  He was removed as president of the Cardinals.

Helene finally relented and sold the Cardinals to Sam Breadon, who held a minority interest in the team, in 1917.  Her fortune had been depleted by her husband, who she claimed squandered her money.  Helene would state years later that she regretted her decision to sell because she loved baseball and loved the team.

Helene remarried in 1918 and passed away at the age of 70 on January 8, 1950.

While Helene’s ownership of the Cardinals was of a short duration, she did everything she could to progress the franchise, despite all odds.  She was a pioneer for women in baseball at a time when a woman running a major league team was unheard of.  If one looks at the pros and cons of her consideration to the Cardinals Hall of Fame, her history making ownership in and of itself is definitely a pro.  The cons of course would be that she never had a championship team and never had higher than a third-place finish.  Had she taken ownership at a much later time perhaps things might have been different.  Despite all that she should be considered for the Cardinals Hall of Fame strictly on the significance of her achievements in the context of her time.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 8-14

photo: Kwang-Hyun Kim (St. Louis Cardinals)

Spring Training Game Recaps

Monday, March 8 – Cardinals 7, Marlins 7

The St. Louis Cardinals played the Miami Marlins in a second spring game that ended in a tie. Unlike the earlier scoreless tilt, seven runs were scored on each side.

Kwang-Hyun Kim started and the left hander pitched 2 1/3 innings, gaving up four runs on six hits.  He struck out two and walked one. Junior Fernandez, Roel Ramirez, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Andrew Miller, Connor Jones, Giovanny Gallegos, Evan Kruczynski and Ryan Helsley followed.  Ponce de Leon allowed one run and Miller surrendered two runs.  All the other pitchers had scoreless outings.

Tyler O’Neill

The Redbirds offense scored seven runs on eight hits. Tyler O’Neill drove in three runs on a double in the first inning.  Dylan Carlson’s single and a Delvin Perez’ triple plated two runs each in the fifth inning.  Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, John Nogowski, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Williams each had a hit.

Two errors were made in the field, a throwing error by Nogowski and a wild pickoff attempt by Helsley.

Tuesday, March 9 – Cardinals 3 at Mets 5

The Cardinals headed north to Port St. Lucie on Tuesday to play the Mets.  The game started well for the Redbirds, but ended with a 5-3 loss.

St. Louis got on the board first with two runs in the second inning on a single by Andrew Knizner and a sac fly by Edmundo Sosa.  Justin Williams’ solo home run in the fourth gave the Cardinals the 3-0 edge.

Starting pitcher Carlos Martinez tossed three scoreless innings with two hits allowed.  The right hander fanned three and walked two.  Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, and Tyler Webb followed with a scoreless inning each.  The wheels came off the bus in the seventh when Angel Rondon gave up five Mets runs on two hits.  Only two of the runs were earned.  Rondon exited the inning with only one out and Seth Elledge finished the inning.  Kodi Whitley pitched a scoreless eighth.

The Cardinals had one error, a throwing miscue from 3B Nolan Gorman that resulted in run scoring.

Wednesday, March 10 – Cardinals 2 at Nationals 3

The Cardinals lost a squeaker to the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Wednesday. Starter Jack Flaherty surrendered two runs on two hits in four innings pitched.  The right hander struck out four and walked one.

Johan Oveido followed and yielded one run on two hits in his two innings on the mound.  He struck out three and issued no free passes.  Tommy Parsons finished the contest with two scoreless innings.

The Cardinals had to play catch up after falling behind 3-0 due to the one man offense of Nationals infielder Starlin Castro, who homered and tripled to drive in all three Washington runs.  In the seventh inning Nolan Arenado’s sac fly plated the first Redbird runner.  The second and final run came home in the ninth inning on a ground out by John Nogowski.  The offense managed five hits, two from the bat of leadoff hitter Tommy Edman. Jose Rondon tripled.  Andrew Knizner and Tyler Heinemann each singled.

Thursday, March 11 – Off day

Friday, March 12 – Cardinals 4, Astros 3

The Cardinals returned home on Friday to take on the Houston Astros.  The squeaker this time was in the Redbirds’ favor.

All four of St. Louis’ runs came via the long ball.  Tyler O’Neill blasted a two run shot in the fourth inning to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.  The Astros responded with one run in the top of the fifth, and tied it up the next inning.  Yadier Molina thumped his first spring home run in the sixth, a two run shot to bring the score to 4-2.  The Astros scored again in the seventh but it was one run too little and the Cardinals held on to win 4-3.

Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright started and continued his dominance in the spring.  The right hander tossed four scoreless frames with only one hit allowed.  He fanned three and walked one. Wainwright was followed by Tyler Webb, Ryan Helsley, Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos and Kodi Whitley.  Webb, Helsley and Miller were each responsible for one Houston run.

Saturday, March 13 – Cardinals 6 at Marlins 4

The Cardinals finally played a game against the Marlins that didn’t end in a tie.  Fortunately for the Redbirds, it ended in a win for them.

Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits.  The right hander struck out two and walked one.  Roel Ramirez entered in the fourth inning and got the final out.  Matthew Liberatore tossed the next two scoreless innings.  Zack Thompson followed and pitched 1 2/3 innings in which he allowed two runs on no hits.  The left hander fanned three and walked three.  Seth Elledge hurled the final 1 1/3 innings and surrendered one run on two hits.

John Nogowski

St. Louis’ offense scored six runs on 11 hits.  The first run scored in the fifth inning as John Nogowski singled on a ground ball to right field to plate Austin Dean.  In the seventh, Lane Thomas doubled to score Dean a second time.  Nogowski then singled to bring in Thomas.

In the ninth,  Lars Nootbaar tripled to center to score a run and once again Nogowski singled to plate two runs.  Nogowksi went 4-for-4 with four RBI.    Dean was 2-for-3.

In the field, Scott Hurst had an outfield assist and Tyler Heineman had a passed ball.  Justin Toerner stole his first spring base.

Sunday, March 14 – Cardinals 5 at Mets 7

The Cardinals went north again to play the Mets in Port St. Lucie.  It ended in another two run loss for the Redbirds.

St. Louis’ offense got on the board in the first inning with two runs on a line drive single by Jose Rondon.  The Mets responded in the bottom frame with two runs to tie.

The Cardinals went back on top in the third inning on a sac fly by Rondon.  In the fifth inning the Redbirds increased their lead to 4-2 on an RBI double by Matt Carpenter, his first hit of the spring.  The Mets came back in the bottom half of the fifth to put five runs on the board.  The Cardinals were able to add one more run in the ninth on a sac fly by Justin Toerner.

Carlos Martinez got the start and pitched four innings, giving up two runs on five hits. The right hander struck out three and walked one.  Jordan Hicks made his first start of the spring.  Hicks was only able to pitch to one batter, Luis Guillorme, who worked a 22 pitch walk that exhausted Hicks’ first-outing pitch allocation. Guillorme later scored and the run was charged to Hicks.

Garrett Williams entered and was unable to record an out, surrendering three runs without giving up a hit.  Two hit by pitches and a walk brought home one run and left two runners on for the next pitcher Evan Kruczynski.  Kruczynski yielded consecutive singles to bring the other runs home that were charged to Williams.  Kruczynski also hit a batter but induced a double play and a ground ball out to end the inning.

Tommy Parsons added two scoreless innings and Jake Woodford tossed a scoreless eighth to finish the game.

News and Notes from Spring Training

  • OF Matt Szczur has a mild quad issue and has been held back from games. He is expected to return to games in the coming week, likely Monday.
  • Per Mike Shildt, Carlos Martinez will be in the starting rotation.
  • LHPs Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson are going to be stretched out as starters, though not in the opening day rotation conversation, but as possible starters later on.
  • Tyler O’Neill’s performance at the plate will earn him a higher spot in the lineup on Monday according to Mike Shildt.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

3/13 The Cardinals optioned RHPs Junior Fernandez and Johan Quezada to minor league camp.

3/13 The Cardinals reassigned RHP Connor Jones, RHP Griffin Roberts, LHP Austin Warner, LHP Garrett Williams, C Pedro Pages, C Carlos Soto, 1B Luken Baker, 2B Kramer Robertson, OF Lars Nootbaar, and OF Justin Toerner to minor league camp.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) has been shut down from throwing for 7-10 days. The right hander was recovering from surgery on his right flexor tendon and has had issues with a sore shoulder while throwing.  An MRI showed no structural issues. Mikolas has not faced live hitters since February 25 and the shutdown means he will not be ready to pitch by Opening Day.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim was scratched from his Saturday start after experiencing back stiffness following his most recent bullpen session. A timeline to return to throwing has not been set as the team is allowing Kim time to rest and recover before he returns to throwing or live game action.  Manager Mike Shildt doesn’t rule out placement on the IL to begin the season along with Mikolas. John Gant and Daniel Ponce de Leon seem the top candiates to fill in for the two injured starters.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right forearm) has returned to game action with his first start since a week long shutdown coming in Wednesday’s game. He has since started in two additional contests.
  • Non-roster OF Matt Szczur has a “light quad issue” per manager Mike Shildt and has been out of games for the week. He is expected to return on Monday.
  • RP Jordan Hicks made this first game appearance since 2019 on Sunday, with his 22-pitch outing considered a success by Shildt. Hicks will be on a normal game schedule ahead.

For more

Stop by The Cardinal Nation’s free forum to read a quick synopsis of manager Mike Shildt’ daily media comments.

Looking Ahead

The third week of Spring Training games begins on Monday with a contest against the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. John Gant is expected to be the starter.

After no game on Tuesday, during which Jack Flaherty will throw against St. Louis hitters in Jupiter, the Cardinals will travel to West Palm Beach for a Wednesday tilt against the Astros. The team returns to Jupiter on Thursday to face the Marlins as the visiting team.

On Friday, the Cardinals again bus north to Port St. Lucie to play the Mets, then return to Jupiter to take on the Astros on Saturday.  The Cardinals have another off day on Sunday.

The Spring Training game schedule can be found here.  The Cardinals are playing only the four teams on the east coast of Florida to minimize travel – the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals. The Cardinals have a 24 game schedule of six games each against the four.

The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, game time 11:05 am CT.  The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati in the Reds’ home opener.  First pitch is 3:10 pm CT.

Blast from the Past

We continue the series of articles considering the Cardinals Hall of Fame credentials of various individuals associated with the team by taking a look at Dave Ricketts, a catcher in the Cardinals organization who made his impact as a coach for many years.

David William Ricketts was born on July 12, 1935 in Pottstown Pennsylvania, the third of four children born to Richard J. Ricketts Sr and Margaret Ricketts.  Richard Sr. was African American and Margaret was of Irish descent.  Dave’s older brother Dick also played baseball as a pitcher for one season with the Cardinals.

Dave Ricketts

In addition to baseball, Dave excelled at basketball, playing three seasons in the NBA before giving up hoops to focus on baseball.  Ricketts was signed by the Cardinals in 1957 for a bonus of $4,000.  Ricketts spent his early years in the minor leagues, also sitting out the 1958 and 1959 seasons for military service.  He returned to the organization in 1960 and remained in the minor leagues until making his major league debut with the Cardinals on September 25, 1963.

Dave went back to the minor leagues in 1964 and part of 1965, getting call ups that season when both Tim McCarver and Bob Uecker were injured.  He returned to the minor leagues in 1966. He finally made the major leagues for good in 1967 as the back up for McCarver.  He played three full major league seasons with the Cardinals, then was traded to Pittsburgh in 1970, where he ended his playing career.

Ricketts’ playing days were sturdy but unspectacular.  His career slash line was .249/.278/.305.  Where Dave made his impact was as a teacher and coach.  He began as the bullpen coach for the Pirates in 1971.  At that time he was one of only a handful of African American coaches in baseball.  Ricketts remained with the Pirates through the 1973 season and then was hired to be the Cardinals bullpen coach in 1974.  He spent two seasons at that position before being sent to manage in the minor league system for Sarasota and Johnson City.  He returned as the Cardinals bullpen coach in 1978 where he remained until 1991.

Ricketts returned to the minor leagues as catching instructor where he taught the likes of Tom Pagnozzi, Mike Matheny, and yes, Yadier Molina.  Those three catchers among them have won 16 Gold Gloves.  Quite a testament to the teaching of Ricketts.

Yadier Molina has spoken long and often about the man he says “saved his life”.   Molina once tweeted  that Ricketts “made him a catcher” and “I’m here because of him” some five years after Ricketts’ passing from kidney cancer in 2008.

(Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Tony La Russa once said that he knew of no one greater or more beloved in the Cardinals organization than Dave Ricketts.

Since his passing, a plaque honoring Ricketts has been affixed to the Cardinals batting cages in Jupiter.

Last week we looked at the many pros and little if no cons to the induction of Dave Duncan into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  Ricketts is no less worthy, as he was to Cardinals catchers as Duncan was to Cardinals pitchers.

The catching greatness Ricketts left behind speaks volumes.  Just ask Yadier Molina.


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Cardinals Make First Cuts of Spring 2021


2021 Prospect Guide now available!

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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 1-7

photo: Chris and Dave Duncan (Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

Spring Training Game Recaps

Monday, March 1 – Off day

Tuesday, March 2 – Cardinals 0 at Marlins 0 (seven innings)

In a situation not unusual for spring training, the Tuesday contest between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins ended in a seven inning scoreless tie.  The teams agreed in advance to play only seven innings, though the inability of either team to score was part of the deal.

Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright started and the 39 year old right hander pitched a masterful two innings.  Wainwright gave up no runs, no hits and no walks and struck out one.  Daniel Ponce de Leon followed with two scoreless innings. Matthew Liberatore, Jake Woodford, and Tyler Webb each tossed a scoreless inning.

St. Louis’ offense managed just four hits, singles by Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Tyler O’Neill and Max Moroff.  As a team, the Cardinals drew four walks and struck out four times.

On the basepaths, Harrison Bader was caught attempting to steal second base.

Wednesday, March 3 – Cardinals 14, Mets 9

The Cardinals offense that couldn’t be found on Tuesday was located on Wednesday.  The opposing Mets also found some against St. Louis pitching, but not enough.

Three long balls figured into the slugfest for the Redbirds, though none of the three came from major league regulars.  John Nogowski hit a three run shot in the second inning, with the other home runs having come in the eighth inning off the bats of Jose Rondon and Ali Sanchez.  Both shots were of the two run variety.

John Nogowski

Additional run producers were Nolan Arenado with a first inning RBI single, Andrew Knizner with an RBI double in the third inning and Justin Williams with a third inning single that drove in a run.  Rondon contributed an RBI triple in the sixth prior to his eighth inning long ball and Evan Mendoza singled in a run in the sixth.

Kwang-Hyun Kim struggled in his first spring start, giving up three runs in the first inning before being pulled for reliever Angel Rondon.  Kim returned to start the second inning, but pitched to only two batters, striking out one and walking the second.  He was replaced by Tommy Parsons. Parsons surrendered a run in 1 2/3 innings before Seth Elledge who tossed a scoreless inning.  Connor Jones followed with one inning in which he yielded a run. Roel Ramirez, Johan Quezada and Jesus Cruz each spun a scoreless inning.  Junior Fernandez gave up three runs in the ninth.

Austin Dean made a fielding error and Knizner had a passed ball.

Thursday, March 4 – Cardinals 0 at Astros 14

The Cardinals played an incredibly forgettable game against the Astros in Palm Beach on Thursday. Neither pitching nor offense offered much in this 14-0 pulverizing by Houston.

Carlos Martinez was singularly not good.  The starter was charged with six runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings.  Martinez was followed briefly by Austin Warner, who finished the first inning. Martinez then returned to start the second and pitched just as poorly the second time around, causing the inning to be ended with only one out.

Alex Reyes started the third and was very good, pitching two scoreless innings with no hits and three strikeouts.  Genesis Cabrera gave up two runs in the fifth before Garrett Williams surrendered three runs in the sixth.  Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless seventh.  Giovanny Gallegos gave up three runs in the eighth.

The Cardinals offense had just three hits. Molina had the only extra base hit, a double. Tyler Heineman and Lane Thomas singled.

Martinez committed an error on a pickoff attempt.  Thomas and Connor Capel each had an outfield assist.

Friday, March 5 – Cardinals 6 at Nationals 7

The Cardinals returned to West Palm Beach to play the Nationals on Friday, and though they also lost this game, the result was much less lopsided.  The lead changed multiple times throughout but in the end, the Nationals came out on top.

John Gant got the start and struggled through 2 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits.  He struck out two and walked two.  Angel Rondon followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Lefty Zack Thompson surrendered one run in two innings pitched before Tyler Webb also gave up a run in 2/3 of an inning. Seth Elledge finished Webb’s inning and Kodi Whitley followed with a clean eighth.  Johan Quezada was charged with the loss in the ninth but the run scored on an error by catcher Ali Sanchez.

St. Louis’ offense scored six runs on 10 hits.  Lane Thomas had the only extra base hit, an RBI double in the second inning that plated two. Thomas again drove in a run with a single in the sixth. Andrew Knizner plated a run on a single in the third inning. Two other runs came home on sac flies by Max Moroff and Tyler Heineman.  Thomas, Knizner, and Austin Dean had two hits each.

Dean and Tommy Edman stole a base.  Sanchez’ throwing error in the ninth brought in the winning run.

Saturday, March 6 – Off day

Sunday, March 7 – Cardinals 8, Astros 5

The Cardinals got revenge for the 14-0 Thursday whooping by the Astros in Palm Beach with an 8-5 win in Jupiter.

Adam Wainwright made his second spring start and pitched well.  The right hander tossed three innings and gave up one run on one hit, while fanning five and walking none.  Matthew Liberatore followed with 1 1/3 innings during which he surrendered one run on two hits.  Tommy Parsons hurled 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Jake Woodford followed with two run-free innings. Seth Elledge struggled in the ninth and was charged with three runs before being replaced by Jesus Cruz, who entered with one out.  Cruz secured the final two outs and earned the save.

Tyler O’Neill

The Cardinals scored eight runs on five hits, led by a three run home run by Tyler O’Neill in the seventh inning.   O’Neill went 2-for-3 for the afternoon.  Paul DeJong, Dylan Carlson, and Austin Dean drove in runs as well.  Dean’s eighth inning double plated two. DeJong and Carlson singled in runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

News and Notes from Spring Training

  • Mikolas’ scheduled side session for Sunday was pushed back until Wednesday. Mike Shildt could not commit to the right hander’s availability by opening day.
  • Jordan Hicks has been throwing to live hitters and looks good. Was throwing 102 mph.  Still no indication when he will get into spring games.
  • Flaherty’s pitching was a lot crisper in a B game against the Astros on Friday. The right hander threw three innings in that game, about 50 pitches.

2021 Hall of Fame Ballot Announced

The St. Louis Cardinals have revealed Steve Carlton, Keith Hernandez, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria and Lee Smith as the five players nominated for possible induction into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.  Fans can view the Cardinals Hall of Fame ballot and cast their selections online at cardinals.com/HOF.

More information

2021 Cardinals Hall of Fame Ballot Nominees Announced

Partial Capacity Plans for Busch Stadium Approved

The Cardinals and the City of St. Louis disclosed an agreement has been reached to allow the team to play its initial home games of the 2021 regular season with up to 32% capacity (approximately 14,500).

More information

Cardinals Plan for Fans in Busch Stadium Approved by City

Triple-A Season Delayed

Major League Baseball has made a decision to delay the scheduled April 6 start to the Triple-A season for at least a month. In the interim, MLB teams will revert to the alternate camp model first deployed in 2020. The Cardinals intend to select a location in the St. Louis area, as there are schedule conflicts with the prior location in Springfield, MO.

More information

Triple-A Season Delayed, Alternate Camp to Fill Gap

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas was set to pitch in a “B game” on Monday but has encountered a setback in the form of a stiff shoulder. Mikolas was set to throw a side session on Sunday but that has been moved to Wednesday.  Manager Mike Shildt has not committed to Mikolas’ availabililty when the season opens on April 1.  Mikolas is recovering from surgery to repair a right flexor tendon.
  • CF Harrison Bader has been kept out of spring games for the last few days due to “a little barking’ in his right forearm. The arm has been checked out with an MRI and everything looked okay.  Bader is expected to be back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game.

Looking Ahead

The second full week of Spring Training games began on Sunday with a nine inning 8-5 Cardinals win over the Astros at Roger Dean Stadium.   The Cardinals remain at Roger Dean on Monday to play the Marlins as the visiting team.  Kwang-Hyun Kim will get the start.

The Cardinals travel to Port St. Lucie on Tueday to face the Mets.  On Wednesday, the Cards return to West Palm to play the Nationals.  After an off day on Thursday, the team returns to Jupiter to take on the Astros on Friday evening (FOX Sports Midwest), and the Marlins on Saturday night with the Cardinals as the visiting team.

The Spring Training game schedule can be found here.  The Cardinals will play only the four teams on the East Coast of Florida to minimize travel.  Those teams are the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals. The Cardinals will play a 24 game schedule of 6 games each against the four teams.

The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, game time 11:05 am CT.  The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati in the Reds home opener.  Game time is 3:10 pm CT.

Blast from the Past

This week in Blast From the Past, we begin a series that looks at various individuals involved with the Cardinals in some capacity and assess their credentials for admission into the Cardinals Hall of Fame as an ownership selection.  Each week will feature one person for consideration.

We start by explaining the criteria for consideration for the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  For players the criteria is very straightforward.  A player must have played for the Cardinals for a minimum of three seasons and must be retired from major league baseball for at least three seasons.  There are two categories of players for consideration, “Modern Era” players and “Veteran” players. To be classified as a “Veteran” player the player must be retired from baseball for 40 or more years.

The selection process for Modern Era players consists of a six week long voting by fans online in the spring of each year.  One Veteran player is selected annually by a Red Ribbon Committee comprised of a number of baseball experts chosen by the Cardinals.  The Committee also selects from 6 to 10 nominees in the Modern Era category for the fan vote. In prior years, two Modern players were selected, but for 2021, just one new inductee will be added.

The Cardinals may also choose non-players such as coaches, broadcasters, and front office staff. These selections are made by the DeWitts and are not necessarily annual.

Dave Duncan

This week’s installment looks at one such non-player for consideration.  Though he played 11 years in the major leagues, this standout never played for the Cardinals.  Our person up for consideration is none other than former St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Duncan was a major league catcher with the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics for seven years, followed by two seasons each with the Cleveland Indians and the Baltimore Orioles.  Duncan was not a standout offensively as a catcher, with a career slash line of .214/.279/.357 over 11 major league seasons.  He was however considered one of the better defensive catchers of his era.

After Duncan retired as a player, he began coaching with the Indians as bullpen coach, and later as the team’s pitching coach. He moved on to the Mariners as their pitching coach in 1982.  After one season Duncan was persuaded to join the Chicago White Sox as pitching coach for his old friend and teammate Tony La Russa.  Duncan followed La Russa to the Oakland Athletics and finally to the Cardinals in 1996.

During his years with the Cardinals, the team won four NL Central titles and two World Series Championships.   Duncan is credited with turning around the career of Woody Williams, who the Cardinals acquired in 2001.  Before St. Louis, Williams had a combined record of 79-79 over 11 seasons with Toronto and San Diego.  In his four seasons with the Cardinals,  his record was 45-22.   He is also credited with changing the career trajectory of Kyle Lohse, who came to the Cardinals in 2008 with a losing record in his six seasons with the Twins, but left the Cardinals after five seasons with a record of 55-35.

Duncan coached four Cy Young Award winners, including St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter, whose career was also turned around after a losing record in Toronto.

In looking at the pros and cons of considering Duncan for the Cardinals Hall of Fame, there don’t seem to be many cons.  The fact that Duncan spent much of his career with other teams and perfected his craft before coming to St. Louis shouldn’t be held against his candidacy.  It has often been said that if the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted coaches, Duncan should be the first one in.  If the 75-year-old should be in Cooperstown, he should certainly be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 22-28

photo: Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Spring Training Game Recaps

Sunday, February 28, 2021 – Cardinals 4, Nationals 4

In the first game of the spring, the St. Louis Cardinals met the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The game ended in a nine-inning tie with four runs each.

Jack Flaherty got the start and pitched to four hitters before the inning was ended.  Flaherty fanned the first batter he faced, Victor Robles, but then walked the second hitter, gave up a single to the third hitter, and walked the fourth batter.  Flaherty returned to start the second inning and allowed three straight singles and a walk before he was removed.  Flaherty ended his outing having relinquished three runs on four hits.  During his post-game Zoom interview, Flaherty declared he had been “horrible”.

Jack Flaherty

Flaherty was followed on the mound by Tommy Parsons, John Gant, Roel Ramirez, Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, Connor Jones, and Giovanny Gallegos.  All were scheduled. Cabrera surrendered the only run of the seven relievers.

The Cardinals got on the board in the first inning. Tommy Edman led off with a single and later scored on a wild pitch.  The Redbirds put up a second run in the second on Harrison Bader’s RBI double that plated Tyler O’Neill, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.

The score remained 3-2 until the seventh inning, when Cabrera gave up the fourth Nationals score.  In the bottom of the ninth, with all of the starters out of the game, Austin Dean singled, and Max Moroff doubled to right to plate him.  Ivan Herrera’s grounder to shortwas muffed by the Nationals shortstop and Moroff came home to tie the game at 4-4.  The game ended with the third out by first baseman John Nogowski.

The Cardinals offense had eight hits and the lone RBI was the Bader double.

News and Notes from Spring Training

  • Pitchers Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, Kwang-Hyun Kim, and Andrew Miller will be eased into camp. Each has thrown side sessions and Mikolas is scheduled to pitch in a “B” game on Monday, which is an off day.
  • Position players had a workout on Saturday prior to first spring game. With respect to outfielders, Mike Shildt stated that bat will dictate playing time but acknowledges the importance of defense as it is what has won games for them over the last two seasons.  Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, and Dylan Carlson all have strong defensive chops (O’Neill won a Gold Glove in 2020 and Bader was a finalist in 2019).  Shildt would like to see hitters less “splitty” and more consistent against both RHP and LHPs.
  • Due to Covid-19 protocols, players will be separated for games. Starting lineup and scheduled position player replacements will be in dugout. Players are allowed to sign and toss balls to fans in stands.  Starting pitchers will be in dugout but will leave with that day’s starter.  Third tier backups will be allowed in later. Not all players in camp will be allowed in stadium.  Those players not in the game will have separate workouts with minor league coaches and can either leave when done or watch game on TV.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

  • RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) remains likely to miss the entire 2021 season, but reports are that Hudson holds out hope for a September return, even in a relief capacity. The right hander is scheduled to begin playing catch on March 15.

Andrew Miller

  • LHP Andrew Miller reported to camp late and the reason was revealed to be an earlier positive test for Covid-19. Miller tested positive for the virus 10 days prior to pitchers and catchers reporting.  The pitcher did not test positive on the initial intake testing when he arrived at camp.  Miller reported mild symptoms to include fatigue and loss of sense of smell.  Miller threw bullpen sessions early in camp rather than throw to live hitters and will take things at a slow pace.

Looking Ahead

Spring Training game action began on Sunday in a nine-inning game against the Nationals.  The game ended in a 4-4 tie.  The next game will be Tuesday, March 2 against the Marlins with Adam Wainwright the starter.  The remainder of the week will include a Wednesday game against the Mets in Jupiter, then a road game in West Palm Beach against the Astros on Thursday.  The team will remain in West Palm to play the Nationals on Friday and will have an off day on Saturday.  The Cardinals will return to Jupiter on Sunday to play the Astros.

The Spring Training game schedule can be found here.  The Cardinals will play only the four teams on the East Coast of Florida to minimize travel – the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals. The Cardinals will play a 24-game schedule of six games each against the four.

The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, game time 11:05 am CT.  The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati in the Reds home opener.  Game time is 3:10 pm CT.

For more information

Beyond the 12 covered by FOX Sports MIdwest, four additional games are being televised by Cardinals spring opponents, increasing the total available to watch to 16. Full details here.

Cardinals 2021 Spring Training Television and Radio Schedules

Blast from the Past

This week on Blast From the Past, we will highlight a series of notable events that occurred in Cardinals history from February 22 to February 28.  This chronicle will include the brief baseball career of a Hall of Fame football player, the birthdate of a beloved Cardinals coach, and what to many is the worst trade in Cardinals franchise history.

  • February 22, 1938—On this date, Texas-Christian All American football player Sammy (Slingin’ Sammy) Baugh signed a contract to play baseball with the Cardinals. Baugh, age 24, signed after college and was assigned to the minor league system.  Baugh played the 1938 season with both the Rochester Red Wings and the Columbus Redbirds, appearing in a grand total of 53 games.  He had 130 plate appearances and finished the season batting .200 with one home run.  Baugh was primarily the backup shortstop for Marty Marion.  Baugh left baseball after that one season and went to play professional football for the Washington Redskins, which was the right decision.  He played for the Redskins as a quarterback until 1952, winning two NFL championships and receiving many other accolades.  He was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

    Stubby Clapp (2000)
  • February 24, 1973—Richard Keith “Stubby” Clapp is born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. While Clapp is well known in his native Canada for his performance in the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, his major league baseball career consisted of one half season with the Cardinals in 2001 – though he played from 1996 to 2000 in the Cardinals minor league system.  In his best year in 1997 with Class A Prince William Cannons of the Carolina League, he hit .318/.435/.487.  Following 1997, he played with the Arkansas Travelers and the Memphis Redbirds until he made his major league debut on June 18, 2001 at the age of 28.  Clapp hit a meager .200/.231/.280 in 26 plate appearances.  Stubby returned to the minor leagues and became a free agent at the end of the 2002 season.  He finished his playing career in the Toronto system in 2004.  Stubby’s #10 jersey was the first number ever retired by the Memphis Redbirds, in 2007.  Stubby was hired as the Memphis manager in 2016 and made his way to the big leagues as a coach in 2019 after two consecutive Pacific Coast League championships.
  • Steve Carlton

    February 25, 1972—The Cardinals, in one of the worst mistakes ever made by a major league baseball franchise, traded LHP Steve (“Lefty”) Carlton to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Rick Wise. The trade was over money.  Carlton had pitched to a 20-9 season for the Cardinals in 1971 and entered the offseason in a salary dispute with the Cardinals. This was the second such dispute with the team, as Carlton had asked for $50,000 in 1969 and the Cardinals only offered $31,000.  The Cardinals offered Carlton $55,000 for 1972 but he wanted $10,000 more.  Rather than pay the measly extra $10K, the Cardinals instead shipped him to the Phillies, who paid him the $65,000.  The Cardinals paid the $65,000 they wouldn’t give Carlton to Wise.  Not a wise move (pun intended).  Wise pitched two seasons for the Cardinals and was traded to Boston.  Carlton on the other hand went on to have a  15-year Hall of Fame career in Philadelphia which included winning four Cy Young Awards.  The worst trade ever.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 15-21

photo: Zack Thompson (St. Louis Cardinals)

News and Notes from Spring Training

St. Louis Cardinals 2021 Spring Training has begun with pitchers and catchers having reported on Wednesday, February 17.  Position players reported over the weekend and the first full squad workout begins on Monday (today).  The following news and notes were gleaned from multiple Zoom interviews given to media.

  • Most healthy pitchers and catchers reported on the 17th. Andrew Miller was a few days late due to a personal matter. Several position players reported eraly, including Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong.
  • Players will spend less time in the locker room due to Covid-19 protocols. Outdoor tents have been set up for meetings, eating, and Covid-19 testing.  Initial Covid intake showed no positives among players or staff.
  • Manager Mike Shildt said the roster will be kept together throughout camp instead of sending players to minors camp, which is not expected to begin until late March or early April. Simulated games and “B” games will likely be set up to get innings for pitchers.
  • While it was initially thought that all spring games would be nine innings, John Mozeliak reported that after discussions with other four teams whom they will be playing against that some early games may be only seven innings.
  • The addition of Arenado will bring changes for a couple of players, most importantly Matt Carpenter. Shildt says Carpenter will likely see time at all infield positions except shortstop.  A turn in the outfield is unlikely according to Shildt.  Third base prospect Nolan Gorman will get work at second base and maybe outfield.  Gorman has been working with Jose Oquendo and Stubby Clapp at second and early reports are encouraging.
  • With respect to the starting rotation, Carlos Martinez is in the mix and pitched well in winter ball. Alex Reyes will get some consideration to start as will John Gant. Daniel Ponce de Leon, Johan Oveido, Matthew Liberatore, and Zack Thompson will be developed as starters in camp.
  • Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb are preparing to be relievers. Jordan Hicks is being monitored.  No decision on a closer will be made until the end of camp.
  • Dakota Hudson reported early to Florida but is not expected to pitch in 2021. He is currently on a non-throwing program but is tentatively scheduled to play catch around March 15.  He is reportedly ahead of schedule on his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

Spring Training Numbers Set

Spring training number assignments for Cardinals players and coaches have been announced. We offer two views – a straight 0-99 take and more detailed breakdown, including changes from spring 2020.

One of the most notable changes is the return to active use is no. 57, last worn by the late Darryl Kile in 2002. It has been assigned to prospect pitcher Zack Thompson.

Further details

2021 Cardinals Spring Training Number Assignments

Minor League Schedules Released

On Thursday, November 17, schedules were released by the four St. Louis Cardinals affiliates. Triple A is scheduled to play 144 games with an April 6 Opening Day for the Triple-A East (including Memphis) with the Triple-A West following two days later.

The Double-A and the A-ball levels are slated to play 120 games. Due to their delayed spring training, these leagues will not open until May 4. For all full-season clubs, the schedule is scheduled to conclude on September 19 with no playoffs to be held in 2021.

Further details

Cardinals 2021 Minor League Schedules Released

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch told fans in his weekly chat that the Cardinals maintain interest in RHP Jake Odorizzi but that the interest is not aggressive.  On the other hand, it was reported by several news outlets that President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak told the media in a press conference at the start of spring training that he is confident going into opening day with the roster they currently have.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

  • RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) remains likely to miss the entire 2021 season, but reports are that Hudson holds out hope for a September return, perhaps in a relief capacity. The right hander is scheduled to begin playing catch on March 15.

Looking Ahead

Spring training is underway and pitchers and catchers have reported and have begun workouts.  Position players reported over the weekend and full squad workouts will commence on Monday.

The Spring Training game schedule has been modified and can be found here.  The Cardinals will play only the four teams on the East Coast of Florida to minimize travel.  Those teams are the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals.

The revised schedule reduced the original 30-games to 24, 12 home games and 12 road games.  Eight of the 24 will be evening games that begin at 5:05 pm CT.  The Cardinals will have five off days during the Spring Training schedule.  The annual exhibition game against the Memphis Redbirds prior to the start of the regular season will not be played this year.

The first spring training game is scheduled for Sunday, February 28 against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.  Game time is 12:05 pm CT.  The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium at 11:05 am CT.  The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati for the Reds home opener.  Game time is 3:10 pm CT.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith:  1997 to the present.

In the final installment of the Ozzie Smith series, we look at Smith’s career post-baseball.  As noted last week, Ozzie retired at the end of the 1996 season in part due to a personality conflict with manager Tony La Russa.  Smith’s Hall of Fame baseball career spanned 19 years in total, 15 of which were with the Cardinals.

Ozzie Smith at 2012 spring training (US Presswire/Scott Rovak)

Smith moved into broadcasting right after he retired.  In 1997, he replaced Mel Allen as the host of “This Week in Baseball”.  He also was the color man for Cardinals games on KPLR in St. Louis from 1997 to 1999.  Following his time with This Week in Baseball, Ozzie moved on to CNN-SI in 1999.

Smith would not work for the Cardinals while La Russa remained the manager. After La Russa retired in 2011 and Mike Matheny took over in 2012, Ozzie agreed to assist the team as a special instructor.

Smith also went into business. He opened a restaurant/sports bar in 1988.  Ozzie’s at Westport closed in 2009.  He also invested in a grocery store and opened a youth sports academy in 1990.  Only the youth sports academy remains in operation.

Smith also authored a children’s book called “Hello, Fredbird!” in 2006 and launched his own brand of salad dressing in 2008.

Smith was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 on the first ballot.  He also entered the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Walk of Fame.  He was one of 22 players inducted into the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. Smith finished third in the voting for shortstop in Major League All Century Team.  He was ranked #87 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

A bronze statute of Smith was erected on the Northwest corner of the current Busch Stadium.  The statute shows Smith in a horizontal position fielding a baseball.

Smith also spent some time in “show business”, playing the role of the Wizard in the St. Louis Municipal Opera’s 2001 summer production of “The Wizard of Oz”.  His son, Nikko, was a finalist in the 2005 edition of American Idol.

Ozzie remains a resident of St. Louis and is a visible figure in the area.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 8-14

photo: Yadier Molina via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Yadier Molina returns

In a move that had been expected for several weeks, the St. Louis Cardinals announced on Monday, February 8 the signing of free agent Yadier Molina to a one-year contract for a reported $9 million.

2021 will be the 38-year old catcher’s 18th season with the Cardinals.  He trails only icon Stan Musial in longevity with the team.

The move seemed imminent after a new one-year deal with battery mate Adam Wainwright was announced.  Molina was participating in the Caribbean Series in Mexico with his brother’s Puerto Rico team at that time, with the deal expected to be finished once the Series ended, on Saturday, February 6.  Sure enough, two days later, Molina was officially back.

The return of Molina leaves the role of heir apparent Andrew Knizner, 26, up in the air, though it is likely Knizner will act as Molina’s backup for the 2021 season.  The Cardinals have acquired further catching depth in free agent Tyler Heineman and more recently, Ali Sanchez, in a trade with the Mets.  Veteran Matt Wieters was Molina’s backup for the prior two seasons, but the team has not indicated a desire to have Wieters back for 2021.  Wieters is a free agent who is yet unsigned.

Further information:

Yadier Molina Agrees to his 18th Season with the St. Louis Cardinals

Jack Flaherty wins arbitration hearing

The arbitration hearing for right Jack Flaherty was held on Friday, February 6.  On Saturday, February 13, it was revealed that Flaherty had won his hearing and would be paid $3.9 million for the 2021 season.

2011 is Flaherty’s first year of arbitration eligibility.  The win for Flaherty was the first loss for the Cardinals in an arbitration hearing since 1994 (Gregg Jeffries) and the only loss for the current ownership and front office.

The two sides had submitted salary figures on January 15 – $3.9 million from Flaherty and $3 million from the Cardinals.  An arbitration panel was empowered to only choose between the two submitted salaries after hearing the respective cases.

Assuming the current rules continue into the next CBA, Flaherty will have two more arbitration eligible seasons before he can reach free agency.  Given the circumstances of Flaherty’s past unhappiness with the Cardinals’ salary offers and his strong public stance for higher pay for players, it is unlikely we will see any contract extension coming Flaherty’s way – unless the Cardinals come to him with an offer he can’t refuse.  Cardinals fans should not hold their breath for this.

Further information:

Jack Flaherty is The Cardinal Nation’s Projected Arbitration Winner

Cardinals make last-minute depth acquisitions

During the final week before spring training begins, the Cardinals made a flurry of depth acquisitions.

The first up was a trade from the Phillies of 6’9” right-handed pitcher Johan Quezada on Wednesday, February 10.  He was acquired for cash considerations.  Quezada, 26, made his major league debut with the Miami Marlins late in the 2020 season and was claimed off waivers by the Phillies in October.  His last full season was with the Minnesota Twins Class-A Advanced affiliate in 2019 as posted an ERA of 3.44 in 52 1/3 relief innings. Quezada was a 40-man roster player for the Phillies and has been added to the Cardinals 40-man roster.

On Friday, February 12, the Cardinals announced the acquisition of catcher Ali Sanchez from the Mets, also in exchange for cash considerations.  The Mets had designated Sanchez for assignment to make roster room for Jonathan Villar, who they had signed to a major league deal.  The 24-year old Sanchez made his major league debut with the Mets in the 2020 season, but had only 10 plate appearances.  During his 2019 season, Sanchez slashed a combined .261/.326/.322 with the Mets Double-A and Triple-A teams.  Sanchez is an above-average defensive catcher with an average bat that lacks power. Sanchez also joined St. Louis’ 40-man roster, which is now at 39 players.

On Saturday, February 13, the Cardinals announced the signing of Matt Szczur to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.  The right-handed outfielder last played in the major leagues with the 2018 Padres.  He made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2014 where he remained until he was traded to San Diego in 2017. Szczur played in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league organization during the 2019 season, then was signed by the Phillies for the 2020 season. He did not make the major league team and was released in June.  The outfielder has a career major league slash line of .231/.312/.355 with 12 home runs and 61 RBI.

Further information:

Cardinals Acquire Tall Right-Handed Reliever Johan Quezada

Cardinals Acquire Catching Prospect Ali Sanchez from the Mets

St. Louis Cardinals Sign Depth Outfielder Matt Szczur

Cardinals announce non-roster invitees to spring training

Cardinals spring training officially begins on Wednesday, February 17, when pitchers and catchers report.  The Cardinals will have 67 players at camp, which includes the 39 players on the 40-man roster and 28 non-roster players.  The 67 include 33 pitchers, 9 catchers, 14 infielders and 11 outfielders.

The Cardinals announced the first 27 non-roster players in a tweet on February 11, later increased by one with the Szczur signing.  The group includes top prospects Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore, and Zack Thompson, any of whom could make their major league debuts later in 2021.

The Cardinals first spring game is scheduled for Sunday, February 28 against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

Further information:

Cardinals Announce 2021 Spring Camp Invitations

Revised spring training schedule announced

On Friday, February 12, the Cardinals’ revised 2021 spring training schedule was disclosed in an announcement made in conjunction with all MLB teams.  Games are scheduled to begin on Sunday, February 28 across both leagues.

St. Louis’ schedule dropped from 30 games to 24 games with no games against college teams or minor league teams allowed.

To reduce travel, the Cardinals will play only the four other teams with spring training facilities on Florida’s East Coast.  Opponents are the Marlins, which share Roger Dean Stadium with the Cardinals, the Mets, the Astros and the Nationals.  St. Louis will play 12 home games and 12 road games including eight in the evening, beginning at 5:05 pm CT.  The Cardinals will have five off days during the month, on March 6, 11, 16, 21 and 26.

The full spring training schedule can be found here.

Further information:

St. Louis Cardinals Announce Revised 2021 Spring Training Schedule

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

A rumor that the Cardinals were interested in free agent starting pitchers, most especially RHP Jake Odorizzi, seem to have fizzled.  Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reported that President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak stated in the virtual press conference regarding the signing of Yadier Molina that the Cardinals “were pretty confident with the team we have going into camp”.

Transactions

  • 2/9 The Cardinals signed free agent C Yadier Molina.
  • 2/10 The Cardinals acquired RHP Johan Quezada from the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • 2/12 The Cardinals acquired C Ali Sanchez from the New York Mets.
  • 2/13 The Cardinals signed OF Matt Szczur to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Cardinals spring training is scheduled to begin on February 17 when pitchers and catchers are required to report.  The Spring Training game schedule has been modified and can be found here.  The Cardinals will play only the four teams on the East Coast of Florida to minimize travel – the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals.

The revised schedule reduced the original 30 game schedule to 24 games, which includes 12 home games and 12 road games.  Eight of the 24 games will in the evening beginning at 5:05 pm CT.  The Cardinals will have five off days during Spring Training.

The first spring training game is scheduled for Sunday, February 28 against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.  The game time is 12:05 pm CT.  The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, game time 11:05 am CT.  The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati in the Reds home opener.  Game time is 3:10 pm CT.


Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith:  1992-1996

In the next installment of the series on Cardinals icon and Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith is a summary of the last five seasons of Smith’s major league career.

Smith began 1992 in an unusual way.  Prior to the start of spring training, a character appeared on a Simpson’s episode called “Homer at the Bat”.  This character was the cartoon version of Smith, with the actual Smith providing the voice.

In 1992, Smith played in 132 games and finished with a slash line of .295/.367/.342.  He won his 13th and final Gold Glove and appeared in his 12th consecutive All-Star Game.  Under manager Joe Torre, the team finished in third place in the NL East with a record of 83-79.

The 1993 season was not much different from 1992 in terms of Ozzie’s performance.  Smith slashed .288/.336/.356 in 141 games.  St. Louis went 87-75 with another third place finish in the NL East.  However, the 1993 season was different from all the others in that it was the one season since 1980 when he didn’t win a Gold Glove and the one season since 1981 he didn’t make the All-Star team.  The Reds Barry Larkin was named the starting shortstop with shortstop reserves Jay Bell of the Pirates and Jeff Blauser of the Braves.  Bell was the recipient of the NL Gold Glove for shortstop that season.

The 1994 season was shortened because of a player strike which began in August and caused the post-season to be canceled.  Smith played in 98 games and slashed .262/.326/,349.  He returned to the All-Star team.  St. Louis  had a losing record of 53-61, but was still in third place in the newly created NL Central Division.

Ozzie’s 1995 was marked by a shoulder injury that required surgery and shortened his season by three months. Smith played in only 44 games and slashed a dismal .199/.282/.244.  He did make the All-Star team that year, however.  Manager Joe Torre was fired in June and replaced on an interim basis by Mike Jorgensen.  The Cardinals finished fourth in the NL Central with a record of 62-81.

Tony La Russa and Ozzie Smith – 1996 (AP)

In the offseason of 1995-1996 the Cardinals were sold by Anheuser-Busch to an ownership group headed by Bill DeWitt Jr. for a price of $150 million dollars.  The Cardinals also got a new manager, Tony La Russa, who was previously the manager of the Oakland Athletics.

Smith had a contentious relationship with his new manager.  The Cardinals had acquired shortstop Royce Clayton in December 1995.  According to reports, La Russa proclaimed that Smith and Clayton would compete for the starting shortstop job in Spring Training.  At the end of spring camp, Smith had hit .288 while Clayton batted a dismal .190.

However, when the season started, La Russa platooned the two despite Smith having outhit Clayton during the “competition”.  Clayton ended up playing the majority of the games with Smith only starting every third or fourth day.  La Russa’s explanation for this did not set well with Smith nor with Cardinals fans, either.  As a result, Smith announced in June that he would retire at the end of the season.

The Cardinals went on to the 1996 playoffs after winning the NL Central title.  Smith started Game 2 of the NLDS against the Padres and also played in Game 3.  The Cardinals swept the Padres in three games.

The Cardinals played the Braves in the NLCS.  Smith started Games 1 and 5 and had one plate appearance in Game 7.  He went hitless in the series, which the Cardinals lost in seven games.  That Game 7 plate appearance was his final as a player.

Next week, we will look at Smith’s post-playing days.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 1-7

photo: Dexter Fowler (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Nolan Arenado trade finalized

Following the initial news on Friday, January 29 that the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies had came to terms on the trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado to St. Louis, the complicated deal became final on Monday, February 1 when official approval from both MLB and the MLB Players’ Association was secured.  Along with the official announcement came some of the details of the trade.

Nolan Arenado

The official list of Cardinals players going to the Rockies was completely different from the rumored names discussed on Friday.  Only one player from the initial list, LHP Austin Gomber, was included in the final trade.  Along with Gomber, the Cardinals sent 3B Elehuris Montero, SS Mateo Gil, and RHPs Tony Locey and Jake Sommers to Colorado.  The Friday group rumored to be in the trade were OF Jhon Torres, 1B Luken Baker, and RHPs Jake Woodford and Angel Rondon, all of whom remain Cardinals.

Cardinals fans are familiar with Gomber, who made 14 appearances on the mound in 2020, four as a starter.  As a combined starter and reliever, he finished the season with an ERA of 1.86.

Montero, 22 was a 40-man roster player who spent the entire 2020 season at the Cardinals Alternate Training Site in Springfield.  The third baseman was The Cardinal Nation’s #7 Cardinals prospect but had yet to see any major league playing time.

The 20-year old Gil was the 2018 third-round draft choice of the Cardinals and is the son of former MLB infielder for the Rangers and the Angels, Benji Gil.   Mateo played at Johnson City in 2019 and ended the season at Palm Beach.  Gil is TCN’s #22 ranked prospect.

Locey, a right hander, was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2019 draft. He played very briefly for the GCL Cardinals before moving up to pitch in 10 games for the Peoria Chiefs.  The 22-year old is ranked by TCN as the Cardinals #19 prospect.

Sommers, 23, unranked by TCN, was the Cardinals 10th round choice in the 2019 draft.  Also a right hander, Sommers pitched in 12 games in 2019 for the Johnson City Cardinals.

Arenado’s contract includes opt outs after the 2021 and 2022 seasons, full no-trade protection, and an additional year (2027) tacked on to the back end of his contract at a salary of $15 million.  The Cardinals also received $51 million from the Rockies which includes Arenado’s $35 million salary for 2021, $15 million of which will be paid to the Cardinals in 2021, and the remaining $20 million will be deferred.

More information

St. Louis Cardinals Welcome Nolan Arenado

Dexter Fowler dealt to the Angels

In a surprise move, the Cardinals traded RF Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels in return for a player to be named later or cash.  The trade was not signalled before the announcement came on Thursday night.

The 34-year old Fowler is entering the final year of his five-year, $82.5 million dollar contract he signed prior to the 2017 season.  Fowler had full no-trade protection, but he waived it to go to the Angels, a team led by his former Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Dexter Fowler

Fowler’s four years with the Cardinals were mostly unremarkable.  His worst season by far was in 2018, in which he slashed a miserable .180/.278/.298 in a season ended prematurely by a broken foot from a foul ball.  He rebounded somewhat in 2019 to hit .238/.317/.409 with 19 home runs.  He missed a part of the 2020 season with a recurrence of a stomach ailment and finished the season hitting .233 with four home runs.  Of his four seasons with the Cardinals, only his 2017 season was above average at the plate.  Though he played some CF during his first two seasons, he moved to RF for his final two Cardinals seasons.  He was not a strong defender at either position, being primarily an offensive outfielder.

The Cardinals originally intended to use 2020 to see what they had with their young outfielders, but a season considerably shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic put a wrench in that plan.  The subtraction of Fowler opens up 2021 as the season of reckoning for the young outfield instead.

The Cardinals will pay $12.75 million of Fowler’s $14.5 million 2021 salary, signalling the move was not intended as a salary dump, but instead to free up playing time.  The Cardinals will likely begin the 2021 season with an outfield of Carlson in RF, Harrison Bader in CF, and 2020 Gold Glover Tyler O’Neill in LF with Lane Thomas, Justin Williams and Austin Dean in reserve.

More information

Cardinals Trade Outfielder Dexter Fowler to Angels

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Last week, the Cardinals added to the roster by trading for All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado for five players. In addition, the Cardinals inked a deal for the return of RHP Adam Wainwright for another season.  The return of C Yadier Molina is rumored to be in the offing and would likely happen sometime following the Caribbean Series, which ended on Saturday.  As of this writing, no announcement has occurred.

Yadier Molina

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted that the Cardinals were actively looking at free agent starting pitchers.  Among those pitchers were Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker.  Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch followed Feinsand’s report with a tweet confirming that Odorizzi is a pitcher in whom the Cardinals are interested.

Transactions

  • 2/1 The Cardinals traded LHP Austin Gomber, 3B Elehuris Montero, SS Mateo Gil, RHP Tony Locey, and RHP Jake Sommers to the Colorado Rockies for 3B Nolan Arenado and cash.
  • 2/4 The Cardinals traded RF Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals and RHP Jack Flaherty will proceed to an arbitration hearing this month.  A date and time for the hearing has not been revealed.  Each side submitted a salary figure on January 15 for the consideration of an arbitration panel – Flaherty at $3.9 million and the Cardinals at $3 million.  After consideration of evidence submitted by both sides, the arbitrators will choose one of the two numbers as the 2021 salary for Flaherty.

More information

Jack Flaherty is The Cardinal Nation’s Projected Arbitration Winner

Cardinals spring training is scheduled to begin on February 17 when pitchers and catchers will report.  Position players will follow on the 22nd. Last week, MLB submitted a proposal to the MLBPA for a delay to both spring training and the regular season.  The offer included universal designated hitter and expanded playoffs.  On Monday, February 1, the MLBPA officially declined MLB’s proposal.  Therefore, the season is expected to proceed on the normal schedule absent any additional negotiations.

St. Louis’ first spring training game is scheduled for Saturday, February 27 against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.  A time for the game is to be determined, but spring games generally begin at 1 p.m. local time, 12 noon CT. Ticket sales had been put on hold during the above discussions, but should become available soo.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith:  1987-1991

In this next installment of the Blast From the Past series on Ozzie Smith, we take a look at Smith’s five years from the 1987 season through 1991.  This five-year span begins with Ozzie’s third and final trip to the World Series.

1987 season was Smith’s pinnacle season with the bat. Known primarily for his defense, his offense steadily improved in over his first five seasons with the Cardinals.  That year, Ozzie hit .303.  He was named to his seventh consecutive All-Star Game and received his eighth consecutive Gold Glove Award at shortstop.  He also finished second in the NL MVP voting and won his only Silver Slugger.

The Cardinals went to the postseason again in 1987 following a 95-67 record and the NL East Division title.  The Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS in seven games but Smith did not perform well at the plate.  He hit .200 for the series with only five hits and one RBI.  He batted only slightly better in the World Series against the Minnesota Twins with a slash line of .214/.267/.214 with six hits and two RBI.  The Cardinals lost the Series to the Twins in seven games.

The Cardinals had a losing season in 1988, with a 76-86 record and a fifth place finish in the NL East, 25 games back of the New York Mets.  Ozzie slashed .270/.350/.336 and earned his eighth All-Star Game berth and ninth consecutive Gold Glove.

Ozzie Smith

The Cardinals rebounded with an 86-76 record in 1989, finishing third in the NL East.  Ozzie continued to accrue Gold Gloves and trips to the All-Star Game while hitting .273.  In 1990, Smith hit .254/.330/.305 in 143 games but returned to the All-Star Game and won his 10th consecutive Gold Glove in a losing 70-92 season that included the resignation of Whitey Herzog in mid-season.  Red Schoendienst took over on an interim basis until Joe Torre was hired to finish the season.

Smith played the 1991 season under Torre and the Cardinals rebounded with an 84-78 season good for second place, 14 games back of the 98-win Pittsburgh Pirates.  Ozzie rebounded from his down 1990 with a slash line of .285/.380/.367 in 150 games.  He won his 11th Gold Glove, went to the All-Star Game for the 10th time and finished 20th in the NL MVP voting.

Smith’s final five seasons with the Cardinals began much like his previous five but ended with the team being sold and a contentious relationship with his new manager. That will be detailed here next week.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 25-31

photo: Adam Wainwright via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Cardinals deal for Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado

To the surprise – but delight – of St. Louis Cardinals fans, media reports over the weekend indicate the Cardinals had reached a deal with the Colorado Rockies to acquire third baseman Nolan Arenado and cash in exchange for multiple St. Louis players and prospects. National reporter Ken Rosenthal broke the story.

Nolan Arenado (Allan Henry/Imagn)

The complicated trade, which is pending approval from MLB and the MLBPA, will not be official until the beginning of the week at the earliest.  The Cardinals have long coveted the eight-time Gold Glove Award-winning third baseman, as rumors of a trade first swirled in 2020 but had seemingly died out.

The trade reportedly includes $50 million in cash moving from the Rockies to the Cardinals and a salary deferral from Arenado.  The 29-year old has roughly $199 million remaining on his eight-year $260 million contract signed with Colorado in 2019.  The deal includes a full no-trade clause, which Arenado has already agreed to waive, according to sources including Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch. Also rumored to be included is the addition of another year at the end of the contract for $15 million.

The players going the other way have not been specified officially but are expected to be among a list that includes LHP Austin Gomber and RHPs Jake Woodford and Angel Rondon, as well as a prospect list which may include OF Jhon Torres and 1B Luken Baker.

None of the Cardinals top nine prospects are expected to be a part of the deal, per The Cardinal Nation’s 2021 rankings.  This may be because Arenado’s contract includes an opt out clause after the 2021 season, which should he exercise, would reduce the value of the deal to the Cardinals to a one-year rental.  Also reportedly in the trade terms is a second opt out clause to be added after the 2022 season and Arenado’s retention of full no-trade protection.

Some have viewed a trade of Arenado by Colorado as inevitable because of public tensions that have   surfaced between the third baseman and Rockies GM Jeff Bridich.  Arenado reportedly stated that Bridich was “very disrespectful”.  Arenado was also believed to be unhappy with the Rockies because he felt there was no push to win.

The deal is seen as a way to reduce the Rockies payroll and make room for Colorado to sign All-Star shortstop Trevor Story to a contract extension.  Arenado is said to be thrilled with the trade and has long expressed a wish to play in St. Louis.  He is close friends with Cardinals 1B Paul Goldschmidt and also has a close relationship with former St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday.

For further information

Cardinals and Rockies Agree on Nolan Arenado Trade

Adam Wainwright returns on one-year deal

After a long offseason of rumors of the return of RHP Adam Wainwright, the deal is finally done.  On Friday, the Cardinals announced they had signed Wainwright to a one-year contract reported to be worth $8 million.  It was initially reported to include appearance incentives but that report proved to be erroneous.  The deal does include a no-trade clause and about $775K in potential award bonuses.

Adam Wainwright (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The agreement was long in coming and fraught with rumors of offers by other teams, including the Padres most recently.  Wainwright made no denial of the fact that his preference was to return to St. Louis, other offers notwithstanding.  Wainwright told the media that he in fact received higher value offers from other teams but chose to return to the Cardinals instead.

Despite belief by some that the 39-year old pitcher was “washed up”, Wainwright defied expectations by posting good numbers in both 2019 and 2020.  The right-hander tossed two shutouts in 2020 and had an ERA of 3.15 for the season.

The 2021 season will be Wainwright’s 16th season as a Cardinal.

For further information

Wainwright Comes to Terms with Cardinals on 2021 Contract

Molina expected to re-sign with St. Louis

On the heels of the signing of Wainwright to a one-year contract comes word to expect his battery mate, free agent C Yadier Molina, to do the same thing.  This has been predicted by multiple outlets, including Goold and MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Molina is currently in Mexico playing for the Puerto Rican team in the Caribbean Series.  The round robin series began on Sunday with PR playing the Dominican Republic team which includes St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez. Molina has been playing for the PR team as the designated hitter.  The series is set to conclude on Saturday, February 6.

The contract offer is expected to be accepted by Molina on his return from Mexico.  The catcher, along with Wainwright, has reportedly been pursued by the Cardinals throughout the offseason, though initial reports were that the negotiations with Molina were not going well.  That seems to have changed, perhaps because of the return of Wainwright, who has been seen as a package deal for return along with Molina.

Cardinals fans’ hopes for a Molina return were brightened on Thursday by a social media post by Molina of a picture of he and Wainwright with the caption, “Hermanos” which means “brothers” in Spanish.  This was posted the day before the deal with Wainwright was announced.  Also a picture posted over the weekend of Wainwright wearing a catcher’s mask during the zoom press conference of his signing added to the suspense of a return of Molina.

The deal is expected to be for one year, but an amount has not been reported.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Kolten Wong (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

Reports this past week by Goold and Morosi indicate that long time Cardinal and free agent catcher Yadier Molina is expected to sign with the Cardinals soon.  Goold reports that the Cardinals expect to complete a one year deal with Molina when he returns from playing in the Caribbean Series in Mexico.  Molina has been playing for his brother’s Puerto Rico team in that series as the designated hitter.  Morosi tweeted similar news on Friday.  The Caribbean Series is expected to conclude on Feb. 6.

A possible reunion with free agent Kolten Wong appears more remote.  Wong’s 2021 option was declined by the Cardinals in November, sending the second baseman into free agency.  Though Morosi has reported the Cardinals’ continuing interest in Wong, Goold has reported the Cardinals have not been actively pursuing a reunion.  Wong has had interest from multiple teams which has increased since several notable infielders such as D.J. LeMahieu and Tommy La Stella have signed with other teams.

Transactions

  • 1/29 Cardinals sign free agent RHP Adam Wainwright to one-year contract.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Jack Flaherty (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

The month of February is notable for two distinct baseball events, the start of spring training and arbitration hearings.  One of those things is certain to occur, but the other is still to be determined.

The Cardinals’ remaining unsigned arbitration eligible player, RHP Jack Flaherty, is scheduled for an arbitration hearing in February, specific date and time to be announced.  While it is still possible an agreement between the Cardinals and Flaherty can be reached, it is the stated policy of the team to proceed to hearing if an agreement isn’t reached by the deadline for submitting salary numbers, which came and went on January 15.  Flaherty is requesting $3.9 million, while the Cardinals submitted a number of $3 million.  An arbitration panel must choose between those two numbers.

The second February event, the opening of spring training, is far less certain at this time.  If this were a normal year, pitchers and catchers would report on February 17.  Due to the continued Covid-19 pandemic, this is not a normal year.

MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) are in the midst of negotiating when and how spring training, as well as the regular season, will begin.  On Sunday, it was reported that MLB had made a proposal to the MLBPA on Friday for a 154-game season and a one-month delayed start.  In this proposal, spring training would not start until March 22 and the regular season Opening Day would be delayed until April 28.  The proposal also includes full season pay for players (though reportedly pro-rated) and an expanded postseason.

The Union has not formally responded to the proposal, but is expected to do so on Monday.  Some media outlets have reported that the Union is expected to reject the proposal on several grounds.  One is that expanded playoffs are seen as a benefit for owners with little to no benefit for players.  The idea is that expanded playoffs disincentivize owners to put together a winning team.  Teams would then be less inclined to sign high priced free agents thus depressing free agent salaries.

From there, it is expected that negotiations will continue during the week.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith:  1982-1986

This week’s Blast continues with the series on Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.  The prior installment ended with the trade of Smith from the San Diego Padres to the Cardinals in 1981.  This week, we review the first five seasons of Smith’s Cardinals career.

Garry Templeton and Ozzie Smith (Getty Images)

Smith was traded to the Cardinals on December 10, 1981 as part of a six-player swap, which was followed by a period of uncertainty until Smith was convinced by Whitey Herzog to report.  At the time it was thought the Padres got the better end of the deal with fellow shortstop Garry Templeton, a .288 hitter the previous season.  Smith, on the other hand, had hit just .222 for the 1981 Padres.  Smith was unequivocably the much better fielder, his major strength.

Ozzie debuted with St. Louis on April 6, 1982 against the Houston Astros.  Smith was in the starting lineup at shortstop, batting eighth.  He went 2-for-5 with two RBI.  Both hits were singles to left field.

Smith finished the 1982 regular season with a slash line of .248/.339/.314, but stood out offensively in the postseason.  In his 13 plate appearances in the NLCS against the Braves, Ozzie hit .556 with an OPS of 1.171.  He did not hit well in the World Series against the Brewers, slashing only .208/.296/.208 in 27 PAs, but the Cardinals took the Series in seven games.

His 1982 season included an All-Star berth and his third Gold Glove Award.  He also finished 13th in the MVP voting.

Smith had a lackluster 1983 season, as did the Cardinals, who finished in fourth place in the NL East with a record of 79-83.  Smith’s slash line that season was .243/.321/.335.  Smith again was selected to the All-Star game and was awarded his fourth consecutive Gold Glove.

Ozzie’s offense gradually improved over the next few years.  In 1984 he hit .257/.347/.337 and his stellar defense continued with his fourth consecutive All-Star Game nod and fifth consecutive Gold Glove. The team finished third in the NL East with a winning 84-78 record.

The Cardinals returned to the postseason in 1985.  Smith slashed an improved .276/.355/.361 in the regular season, but really stood out in the 1985 NLCS against the Dodgers.  The Cardinals won 101 games that season and Smith slugged .435/.500/.696 in 27 plate appearances in the NLCS.

In Game 5, Ozzie hit his only postseason home run, a ninth inning solo shot off Tom Niedenfuer that prompted the “Go Crazy” call by Cardinals Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck.  The Cardinals advanced to the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, which ended in the stunning defeat keyed by umpire Don Denkinger in Game 6.  The Cardinals lost the Series in Game 7, but the Game 6 missed call was the Siren’s Song.

The Cardinals fell back to a losing record in 1986, but Smith’s offense continued to improve.  He hit .280/.376/.333 in 609 plate appearances, a season that included his sixth consecutive All-Star election and his seventh consecutive Gold Glove.

We continue next week with Smith’s next five seasons beginning with his best offensive year of his career and his third trip to the postseason.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 11-17

photo: Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Three arbitration eligible Cardinals settle

On Friday, January 15, the Cardinals announced agreement have been reached with three of their arbitration eligible players for one-year contracts for 2021.  The deadline for submitting salary figures for arbitration was 12 noon CT on Friday.

The three players are RHPs Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks, and CF Harrison Bader.  Reyes settled for a salary of $900,000 for the 2021 season, while Hicks agreed to a salary of $862,500.  Bader will be paid $2 million for the upcoming season.

The final amouns for the two pitchers was slightly lower than the projections from MLB Trade Rumors.  The average projection for Reyes was $1.1 million and the average projection for Hicks was $900,000.

Bader’s agreement was higher than projected.  His average projection was $1.4 million, $600,000 lower than he received.  Much of Bader’s value comes from his elite defense, though the center fielder ended the 2020 season with the third highest OPS on the team, behind 1B Paul Goldschmidt and utility player Brad Miller.

Jack Flaherty

The Cardinals failed to reach agreement with RHP Jack Flaherty.  An agreement could still be reached by the parties prior to the hearing, which will likely occur sometime in February, however, by policy, the Cardinals will stop negotiating and go to hearing.  Flaherty has a history of being outspoken about his displeasure with salaries for players.  He refused to accept the Cardinals prior salary offers, which were then assigned to him as a pre-arbitration player.  Flaherty was penalized $10,000 for this refusal both years.  The parties submitted salary figures on Friday, with Flaherty submitting for $3.9 million and the Cardinals submitting an even $3 million.  An arbitration panel must choose between the two figures in a hearing.

The Cardinals reached an agreement with RHP John Gant on December 3 for $2.1 million.  RHP John Brebbia was also arbitration eligible, but the Cardinals non-tendered him and he subsequently signed a major league contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Cardinals minor league coaches announced

On Saturday, January 16, the Cardinals announced the coaching staffs for the 2021 minor league season.  The group underwent significant changes due to the elimination of two affiliate teams in State College and Johnson City.  The moves were part of an MLB wide reorganization that reduced the total number of affiliated teams to 120.

The Cardinals retain their top four full season clubs in Memphis, Springfield, Peoria and Palm Beach.  Peoria and Palm Beach have switched classes with Peoria becoming the Class-A Advanced affiliate and Palm Beach switched to Low-A.  Memphis and Springfield remain the Triple-A and Double-A clubs.

Ben Johnson has been retained as the manager of the Memphis Redbirds.  Joe Kruzel was not retained as the Springfield manager and has been replaced by Jose Leger.  Leger spent eight years managing in the New York Mets organization and joined the Cardinals organization in 2018.

Chris Swauger will be the manager of the Peoria Chiefs in 2021.  Swauger previously managed the Johnson City Cardinals and the Chiefs in 2017-2018.

The Low-A Palm Beach Cardinals will be managed by Jose Leon.  Leon managed the State College Spikes in 2020.  Dann Bilardello, who managed in Palm Beach previously, was not retained.

The Cardinals retained their Gulf Coast League affiliate, now labeled as Extended Spring Training (EST).  The team will be managed by Roberto Espinoza, who managed Johnson City to the 2019 Appalachian League title.

Two managers, Joe Hawkins and Erick Almonte, were retained in hitting coach roles for 2021.

The two teams in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) keep their 2020 managers for 2021.

Jose Oquendo, who temporarily returned as third base coach for the 2020 Cardinals, remain an infield instructor in the system.

The details of remaining staff changes can be found here for TCN members.

Major Changes in Cardinals Player Development for 2021

Cardinals sign 15 international free agents

On the first day of the 2021 international signing period, the Cardinals announced the signings of 15 players from four different countries.  By far the most were from the Dominican Republic but the group includes two players from Venezuela and one each from Panama and the Bahamas.

The Bahamian player, Adari Grant, is a middle infielder with offensive upside.  From Panama, the Cardinals signed catcher Leonardo Bernal, a switch hitter who was part of his home country’s 2018 US World Cup Silver Medal team.

A full list of the 15 signees and their details can be found here for TCN members.

Cardinals Announce 15 First-Day International Signings

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch stated in his weekly chat that the Cardinals are not actively pursuing starting pitching.  Interest in a reunion with RHP Adam Wainwright remains, but outside a signing of Wainwright there is no indication as of yet that the Cardinals will seek a low cost starting pitcher should Wainwright sign elsewhere.  Goold reports that all signs point to the Cardinals seeking to reduce payroll for 2021.

Yadier Molina

In an interview with Cardinals Spanish language broadcaster Polo Ascencio, former Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said that he is prepared to retire should no acceptable offer be made to him by the Cardinals or another MLB team.  The details of the interview were reported by Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch.  While the Cardinals maintain an interest in a reunion with Molina, the only offer made to Molina was deemed “ridiculously low” by Molina’s camp, according to sources.

Interest by other teams has been reported but recent acquisitions of other catchers by the Mets and the Padres and others have reduced the number of teams looking for catching help.  Catcher J.T. Realmuto remains unsigned and may be the hang-up in Molina’s market solidifying, but a recent report of a large offer made to Realmuto by the Phillies may provide clarity for Molina should Realmuto accept.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

Multiple reports from executives and coaches at Winter Warm-Up are that both reliever Jordan Hicks and starter Miles Mikolas are cleared to have a normal spring. The two are already in Jupiter preparing for spring training.

Looking Ahead

Listed below are dates for key offseason events:

  • Friday, January 15 was the deadline for submitting salary figures for arbitration eligible players. That day, the Cardinals reached agreement with three of the four remaining arbitration eligible players.  The three are CF Harrison Bader, RHP Alex Reyes and RHP Jordan Hicks. RHP Jack Flaherty is heading for an arbitration hearing.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and has since signed with San Francisco.  John Gant, in his second year of eligibility, reached an agreement with the Cardinals on December 3, 2020.
  • RHP Alex Reyes reached agreement for a $900,000 salary for 2021.  CF Harrison Bader and the Cardinals agreed to a 2021 salary of $2 million.  Also reaching agreement with the Cardinals was RHP Jordan Hicks for a one year salary of $862,500.
  • RHP Jack Flaherty remains the only arbitration eligible player to not reach agreement. The parties can continue to negotiate on a salary up to the time of the hearing, however the Cardinals say they will not negotiate further and will require the hearing. It will occur sometime in February.  The salary figure filed by Flaherty was $3.9 million.  The Cardinals submitted a figure of $3 million.  The arbitration panel is not permitted to grant a salary anywhere in between but must choose between the two salary figures submitted by the parties.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up has gone virtual for 2021 with its final day on Monday, January 18. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu.
  • From a report in USA TODAY by Bob Nightengale, commissioner Rob Manfred has informed the 30 MLB teams that they should plan for 2021 Spring Training to begin on time and for a full 162 game season to be played. Cardinals spring training will begin with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 17.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith:  1978-1981

Last week’s Blast covered the early years of Ozzie Smith’s life and the first years of his professional baseball career.  We ended with the only season Smith spent in the minor leagues.  This week we cover Ozzie’s first four years as a major leaguer, all with the San Diego Padres.

Ozzie Smith

Smith went to the Padres 1978 spring training camp as a non-roster invitee and played well enough at the Yuma, Arizona camp to earn a roster spot on the major league team.  He made his debut with the Padres on April 7, 1978, starting in the eighth spot in the lineup at shortstop against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.  Ozzie made two plate appearances, grounding into a force out and walking.

Smith secured his first major league hit the next day, a single.  Smith dazzled at defense, making a spectacular bare-handed play in an April 20 game against the Braves.  He did his first back flip for the fans in the last home game of 1978.  The back flip became a trademark for Ozzie throughout his major league career.

Smith finished the 1978 season with a slash line of .258/.311/.312 in 159 games with the Padres.  He finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to Bob Horner of the Braves.

Ozzie suffered through a sophomore slump in 1979.  He began the season 0-for-32 before getting his first hit on April 13 against the Reds.  Smith’s batting average stayed below the Mendoza line for much of the season.  He climbed above .200 on August 4 and ended the season with a slash line of .211/.260/.262.

Smith’s fielding was his savior.  He led the league in assists in 1979, the first of eight times he accomplished this feat.  He ended his career with 8,375 assists, the most of any player at any position in major league history.

Smith’s 1980 season was somewhat better as he slashed .230/.312/.276.  Ozzie also won the first of his 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.  1980 was even better for Smith on the personal front, as he married Denise Jackson, who he met at the Astrodome in Houston where she worked as an usher.  They were married in November.  They would have three children, Nikko, Dustin, and Taryn before divorcing in 1996.

In the 1981 season, Smith was named to the NL All-Star team for the first time, the first of 14 career selections.  Ozzie hit .222/.294/.256 in the season split into two halves by a strike.  Smith led the NL that season in games played (110), plate appearances (507) and at-bats (450). He earned his second Gold Glove.

Garry Templeton and Ozzie Smith (Getty Images)

1981 was Smith’s last season in San Diego.  On December 10, he was traded to St. Louis in a six-player deal that sent Smith, Steve Mura and a player to be named later to the Cardinals for Garry Templeton, Sixto Lezcano and a player to be named later.  The PTBNL sent by San Diego was Al Olmstead and the Cardinals sent Luis DeLeon.  The trade was not completed until 62 days later as Ozzie had no trade protection in his contract and initially refused the deal.  Manager Whitey Herzog finally persuaded Smith to accept the trade and become a Cardinal.

Next week we will review Smith’s debut and early years with St. Louis.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 4-10

image: St. Louis Cardinals

Winter Warm-Up virtual events announced

The St. Louis Cardinals issued a lineup of virtual experiences for fans to take part in during the 2021 Winter Warm-Up.  The annual event will be virtual this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The list of activities include a 2011 World Series reunion that features former team members including Allen Craig, Lance Berkman and David Freese.  That event is scheduled for January 15.

Additional sessions include a talk with prospects Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore, and a topic called “Best Dressed Birds”.  This event features current Cardinals Harrison Bader, Jack Flaherty, and Dexter Fowler sharing their off-field wardrobes.

A full list of sessions with dates, prices and instructions on how to participate can be found at cardinals.com/wwu.

Martinez scratched from key winter ball outing

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is in the news again, but not for results on the field.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Sometimes rumors are non-rumors.

Senger Peralta, 2016 (Johnson City Cardinals)

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, in response to a question during his weekly chat, threw out the name of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta as an example of a potential trade target for the Cardinals.  The discussion surrounding Peralta was not couched as a current rumor, but more of a “what kind of player could the Cardinals potentially get” if they were inclined to pursue an additional outfielder.  Goold apparently chose Peralta based on the idea that he was once a part of the Cardinals organization (in his prior life as pitcher Senger Peralta) and was rumored to have been a subject of interest in the past.

However, to be clear, there have been no credible reports of any current interest in trading for Peralta on the part of the Cardinals.  It should also be stressed that there have been no reports that the Diamondbacks are shopping Peralta, either. Despite this, several online sources have represented Goold’s reference as a current rumor, which it clealy is not.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first-time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and has since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu. The events will take place January 16-18.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith: The Early Years.

This week, we begin a multi-part history installment on the life and career of Hall of Fame Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith.  This first segment covers Smith’s early years and the beginning of his professional baseball career.

Osborne Earl Smith was born on December 26, 1954 in Mobile, Alabama.  Smith was the second of six children born to Marvella and Clovi Smith.  The family moved from Alabama to the Watts section of Los Angeles, California when Ozzie was six years old.  Smith’s father was a delivery driver for Safeway Stores and his mother was a nursing home aide.

Ozzie was an athletic child who practiced back flips in a sawdust pile at a local lumber yard, and who bounced a rubber ball off concrete steps to see how fast he could catch it.  Like many children of poor families, Smith did not have a baseball glove, but would fashion a “glove” out of a paper bag wrapped around his hand.

Ozzie Smith (Cal Poly Athletics)

Smith attended Locke High School in Los Angeles, where he played both baseball and basketball.  His sports activities did not attract college recruiters, but Smith attended college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo on a partial academic scholarship.  Ozzie made the college baseball team as a walk-on and was taught how to switch hit.  Smith became the starting shortstop after the regular broke his leg.  Smith took this opportunity and ran with it to become a star.

Smith was spotted by scouts playing semipro ball in Clarinda, Iowa in 1976.  The Detroit Tigers picked Ozzie in the seventh round of the amateur draft but he did not sign, instead returning to complete his senior year at Cal Poly.

After graduation, Ozzie was drafted a second time, by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round in 1977.  He began his professional baseball career with the Padres Class-A team in Walla Walla, Washington, and hit .303/.391/.362 in 68 games that season.

Smith spent only that one season in the minor leagues.  In 1978, Ozzie made his major league debut with the Padres.

Next week we take a look at Ozzie’s first years in a major league uniform.


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2021 St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects – The Departed


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 28-January 3

photo: Derian Gonzalez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Former Cardinal minor leaguer dies in accident

On New Year’s Eve, former St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitcher Derian Gonzalez was killed in a motorcycle accident in his native Venezuela.

The 25-year old right hander was signed by the Cardinals in 2012.   Gonzalez posted a 2.76 ERA in 13 games at Double-A Springfield in 2018 but shoulder problems cut his season short.  He missed the entire 2019 season and was not part of the 60 man player pool for the 2020 season.  The right hander was added to the 40 man roster in 2017 but never made the major leagues.  He was outrighted off the roster the following year.

Gonzalez became a free agent last fall and had been pitching in winter ball in Venezuela at the time of the accident.  He reportedly had signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves a few days prior to his death.

Futher details

Former Cardinals Pitching Prospect Derian Gonzalez Passes

Top stories of 2020 and 2021

In case you missed it, check out The Cardinal Nation’s annual assessment of the top stores of 2020 and a look ahead to the potential biggest newsmakers of 2021, as well.

The Cardinal Nation’s Top Five Stories of 2020 Countdown

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the Cardinals remain interested in Kolten Wong, even after the team declined his 2021 option and sent him to free agency.  Heyman reported that the decision to cut Wong loose was about the price of the option, not about Wong.  This tweet suggests the Cardinals would be open to sign him at a reduced price.  Other teams have also expressed interest in the second baseman, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner.

Kolten Wong

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wwu. The events will take place from January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past takes a detour from in-depth looks at former Cardinals greats and instead presents a brief remembrance of a St. Louis short termer from the past.  This tall catcher from the early days of the team had a major league career that spanned 15 years, but his two stints as a Cardinal were brief and memorable in a non-baseball way.

John Bannerman McLean was born on July 18, 1881 in New Brunswick, Canada, but grew up in Boston.  McLean was nicknamed Larry early in his career because of a resemblance to Larry “The Frenchman” LaJoie, a second baseman for both Philadelphia and Cleveland.  He played his first professional baseball in Canada but made his major league debut with the Boston Americans in April 1901, only to be released in July of that year.  He returned to Canada to play and in 1903 he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs.

Larry McLean

After playing one game in Chicago, Larry was traded to the Cardinals.  McLean was a catcher and large one at that, standing 6’ 5’’ and weighing nearly 230 pounds.  He played for the Cardinals in 27 games in 1904 and then was demoted to the Pacific Coast League.  McLean played for the Portland Giants of the PCL and helped them win the 1906 pennant.

McLean was already showing signs of a troubled life off the field.  He battled alcoholism and Portland withheld $200 from his salary with a promise to remain sober.  At the end of the 1906 season, Portland sold McLean to the Cincinnati Reds.  During his time with Cincinnati, his battles with alcohol continued.  His off field life was a sore spot for the Reds, who reportedly hired a private detective to follow him.  The Reds suspended him in 1910 causing Larry to write a letter of resignation.  He returned after a one week suspension and a promise to do better.  The Reds held back 40 percent of his salary as a sobriety bonus.

McLean remained in Cincinnati until September 1912, when he failed to show up for an exhibition game and was suspended.  The Reds had enough, and at season’s end traded him to the Cardinals.

Larry McLean

Larry could not control his addiction.  A few weeks before Cardinals spring training, McLean broke his arm in a poolroom brawl.  After McLean recovered, he played in 48 games in 1913.  In 48 games, he slashed .270/.297/.329 in 158 plate appearances.

On August 6, 1913, the Cardinals traded McLean to the New York Giants.  McLean played well for the Giants and got along with manager John McGraw until June 1915 when he was again suspended for drinking.  The Giants were in St. Louis at the Buckingham Hotel and McLean confronted McGraw about the suspension.  He accused scout Dick Kinsella of spying on him and then got into a brawl with McGraw, which ended in damages at the hotel and McLean fleeing.  McLean’s baseball career was over.

What happened after baseball was not well known until on March 24, 1921, McLean got into an argument in a Boston speakeasy.  He attempted to climb over the bar and the bartender grabbed a pistol and shot him.  McLean died on the street outside.  He was 39 years old.


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2020-2021 Cardinals Winter Ball Hitters Report – December 29


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 21-27

photo: John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Brebbia signs with the Giants

Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever John Brebbia has signed a one year major league deal with the San Francisco Giants.

John Brebbia

The 30-year old right hander underwent Tommy John surgery during the summer and may not be ready for an on-time start to the 2021 season.

Brebbia, who was first year arbitration eligible, was not offered a contract by St. Louis by the December 2 tender date.  The team did not rule out signing the reliever to a minor league deal, but that option is now off the table with his big-league contract with the Giants. Its amount is reported to be for $800,000, the amount Brebbia was expected to earn in arbitration.  The decision by the Cardinals not to tender a contract was reported to not be financially-driven, but for roster flexibility.

Brebbia made his MLB debut with the 2017 Cardinals and emerged as a reliable reliever over the last three seasons.  The right hander was added from the Diamondbacks in the minor league phase of the December 2015 Rule 5 Draft.

The Giants will have two additional years of control beyond 2021 over Brebbia, with him holding arbitration eligibility in each.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There continues to be no news, or movement on the possible return of Yadier Molina or Adam Wainwright.

Derrrick Goold of the Post Dispatch writes that the Cardinals are seeking “cash-neutral” possible trades, given the uncertainty of the coming season’s revenues.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival has gone virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu. The events will take place from January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo:  1997 to present

This week’s Blast is the final installment of the series chronicling the baseball career of the “Secret Weapon”, former Cardinals player and current coach Jose Oquendo.

Last week, we ended with the final season of Oquendo’s playing career, 1995. That year he slashed .209/.316/.300 in 88 games.  Oquendo returned to spring camp in 1996 but failed to make the Opening Day roster under new manager Tony La Russa.  He chose to retire after 12 years in the big leagues, the final 10 of which were with St. Louis.

Oquendo’s time in baseball was not over, however.  Jose accepted a position coaching in the Cardinals minor league system in 1997. In 1998, Oquendo became the manager of the Cardinals minor league team the New Jersey Cardinals. The New York-Penn League team was the Cardinals Class A short season A affiliate based in Augusta, New Jersey.  The young Cardinals finished the 1998 season with a record of 34-41, for fourth place in the division.

Oquendo did not spend long toiling in the minor leagues.  In 1999, the Cardinals promoted Jose from minor league manager to big league bench coach in St. Louis under La Russa.

After one season as bench coach, Oquendo moved to third base coach in 2000.  Jose remained in that position for the next 16 consecutive seasons.  His long career as third base coach included being ejected from a game against the Phillies on June 13, 2008.  La Russa had been thrown out earlier in the game after arguing the ejection of his pitcher Russ Springer for throwing an inside pitch to Ryan Howard.  Several innings later, Phillies pitcher Rudy Seanez retaliated by throwing a pitch behind Brendan Ryan without any consequences, which caused Oquendo to argue from his coaching box.  Oquendo was then tossed by umpire Larry Vanover.

Oquendo also made a pinch hitting appearance in a preseason exhibition game with the Memphis Redbirds on April 2009.  Oquendo drew a walk and advanced to third before being stranded on an inning ending groundout.

Jose Oquendo

Oquendo was ejected one more time for arguing balls and strikes in an August 17, 2012 game against the Pirates.

Oquendo was granted a medical leave of absence for the 2016 season to undergo dual knee replacement surgeries.  Jose was replaced as third base coach by Chris Maloney.  In 2017, Oquendo was named Special Assistant to the GM and worked at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter training minor league players.

Jose returned to his former third base coaching box for the 2018 season.  He did not continue in that role for 2019 but remained in the organization in player development.  Jose opened 2020 heading the staff at the Cardinals alternate camp in Springfield, but returned to his third base coaching role on an interim basis covering for Willie McGee. The former outfielder opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns following an early season outbreak of the virus among Cardinals players and staff that kept them off the field for 17 days.

Jose Oquendo (USA TODAY Sports)

Jose’s long career with the Cardinals as both a player and a coach has had staying power. He seems likely to continue indefinitely, but stay tuned to find out for sure.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #2 – Nolan Gorman


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 14-20

photo: José Rondón (Raj Mehta/Imagn)

Cardinals add minor league infield depth

This past week, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signings of two players with major league experience to minor league contracts.  The two, both infielders, received invitations to major league spring training camp.

Infielder Max Moroff’s deal was announced on Tuesday.  Moroff, 27, was the 16th round draft choice of the Pirates in 2012.  He made his major league debut with Pittsburgh on July 31, 2016 and appeared in two games that season. Moroff returned for 56 games in 2017 and 26 games in 2018 before being traded to Cleveland on November 14, 2018.  Moroff appeared in 20 games for the Indians in 2019 and then elected free agency after being outrighted off the roster.  He signed a minor league deal with the Mets and was part of that teams’s 60-man player pool.  He did not play in the major leagues for the Mets in 2020.

Moroff, a switch hitter, will be added to the Cardinals infield depth, down considerably with the departures of Kolten Wong, Brad Miller, and Max Schrock.  Moroff may begin the 2021 season with the Cardinals Triple-A team, the Memphis Redbirds.

Max Moroff

On Friday, the Cardinals announced the addition of infielder Jose Rondon.  Rondon, also 27, a Venezuelan native, was originally signed by the Angels as an amateur free agent in 2011.  He was traded to the San Diego Padres in July 2014 and added to the Padres 40[man roster in the 2015 offseason. Rondon made his major league debut with the Padres on July 29, 2016.  He appeared in only eight games in 2016 and spent all of 2017 with San Diego’s Double-A and Triple-A teams.

In January 2018, the White Sox purchased Rondon’s contract from the Padres.  He played in 42 games for the White Sox in 2018 and in 55 games in 2019.  He was designated for assignment by Chicago in July of 2019 and claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.  He made one appearance for the Orioles in 2019 and was placed again on waivers and outrighted to the Orioles minor leagues. Rondon remained with the Orioles organization but did not make an appearance in 2020.  He became a free agent at the end of the season.

Rondon may join Moroff in Memphis and serve as a infield depth.

José Rondón

In other signing news, the Cardinals re-signed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez to a minor league contract. The 23-year old left-hander made his brief MLB debut in 2020, but was subsequently removed from the roster and became a free agent this fall.

Ricardo Sánchez

For further information:

Cardinals Sign Infielder Max Moroff to a Minor League Deal

Cardinals Sign Two Ex-Big Leaguers to Minors Contracts

Shildt speaks

On Friday, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt answered questions from the media. He touched on a number of off-season-related topics, some of which were summarized at MLB.com.

For Cardinals minor league followers, Shildt offered an optimistic perspective on prospects Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman.

Liberatore and Gorman: Ability to Play in the Majors Now

Players Alliance visits St. Louis

On Wednesday, the Players Alliance tour came to St. Louis to hand out food and needed supplies to local neighborhood families in need due to the coronavirus epidemic.  The non-profit organization was formed in the wake of the death of George Floyd by 100 current and former black MLB players.

Each player in the group donated their game day salaries from Jackie Robinson Day to fund the organization.  MLB added $1 million worth of supplies to the Alliance.  Cardinals members are Dexter Fowler, Jack Flaherty, and Jordan Hicks.

The Alliance is conducting a 33-city tour this offseason to give back to Black communities.  Fowler, Flaherty, and Hicks reside in other cities during the offseason, so the players involved in the St. Louis stop were not Cardinals.  They were St. Louis native and 2020 NL Rookie of the Year recipient Devin Williams of the Brewers, St. Louis native James Proctor, a minor league pitcher in the Reds organization, and Texas Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson, whose wife is from St. Louis and who lives in the area in the offseason.  Gibson, who is white, is not a member of the Alliance but volunteered to help out in the local relief effort.

The St. Louis segment included two stops, the first on Gravois Avenue, and the second at the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis building on Delmar Blvd.  The people lined up to received aid were given food,  Covid-19 supplies, and baseball equipment.  The Cardinals donated items to give out as well.  The baseball equipment is a part of an effort to grow Black participation in the game.

Martinez starts in winter ball

St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez, whose 2020 season prematurely ended with a September oblique injury, has begun pitching in winter ball in his Dominican Republic homeland. His stated goal is to be built up to 100 pitches by Cardinals spring training camp, where he will have to compete to retain his starting berth.

For more:

Members of The Cardinal Nation can follow the winter exploits of a dozen Cardinals hitters and pitchers currently playing across Latin America in our exclusive weekly reports.

2020-2021 Cardinals Winter Ball Hitters Report – December 15

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no new trade or acquisition rumors to report.  The Cardinals remain in the mix for signing both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, but no movement toward either has been reported.

The Cardinals were reportedly interested in free agent catcher James McCann, but McCann signed with the Mets and is therefore off the market.

Transactions

  • 12/15 The Cardinals sign INF Max Moroff to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
  • 12/18 The Cardinals sign INF Jose Rondon to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
  • 12/18 The Cardinals re-sign LHP Ricardo Sanchez to a minor league contract.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.  Gant has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and remains a free agent.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wwu. The events will take place January 16-18.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo:  1991-1995

This week’s Blast From the Past continues the series on former Cardinals player and present minor league instructor Jose Oquendo.  Today, we review the final five seasons of Oquendo’s playing career. They were down seasons for the team, as the 1991-1995 Cardinals missed the playoffs every year.

Jose Oquendo

In the 1991 season, Oquendo continued to primarily play second base.  He made 118 appearances at second, 22 at shortstop and three at first base.  Jose slashed .240/.357/.301 that season with one home  run and 26 RBI.  It would be the final year in which Oquendo was a full time player.

Oquendo suffered a hamstring injury in the 1992 season opener, which kept him out of action until June. He played in only five games in June, five games in July, and three games in September, for a total of 14 games in the season.  He slashed .257/.350/.400.

Luis Alicea, who Oquendo replaced in 1988, was recalled from the minor leagues and became Oquendo’s replacement at second base after the injury.  Alicea remained the Cardinals primary second baseman in 1993 as well.  Oquendo appeared in only 46 games that season – 16 games at second and 22 at shortstop.  He slashed only .205/.314/.205.

Oquendo never returned to full time status.  Second base in 1994 was shared by Alicea and Geronimo Pena.  Oquendo played 16 games at second and 28 games at shortstop in 1994. He also made 14 pinch hitting appearances. His total games played in 1994 was 55.  During that season Jose slashed .264/.364/.310.

The 1995 season was Oquendo’s last as a player.  He increased his games played total to 88 that season with 62 of them at second base.  Alicea had been traded to Boston in the offseason and Oquendo shared the second base duties with Pena, and after July with the newly acquired David Bell, who came over in a trade from Cleveland.  Jose also appeared at shortstop in 24 contests, two games at third base, and one game in right field. Jose slashed .209/.316/.300 in his final season.

With new manager Tony La Russa in charge, Oquendo failed to make the team in 1996 spring training and retired.  At the age of 32, he had logged 12 seasons in the majors. Jose’s time in baseball, however, was not over.  Next week, we will look at Oquendo’s post-playing career.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #6 – Jordan Walker


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 7-13

image: FOX Sports Midwest

Wainwright wins Roberto Clemente Award

Long-time St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and current free agent Adam Wainwright was announced this past week as the 2020 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. It is given annually to the player who displays commitment to community and an understanding of the value of helping others.  Each team nominates a player in September and the winner is chosen from the 30 nominees.

Adam Wainwright

Wainwright has been nominated for this prestigious award five times, and he now joins five prior Cardinals recipients.  They are Lou Brock (1975), Ozzie Smith (1995), Albert Pujols (2008), Carlos Beltran (2013), and Yadier Molina (2018).  The Cardinals have more Clemente Award winners than any other organization.

Wainwright’s charity foundation, Big League Impact, has raised over $5.8 million since 2013.  The foundation, organized around an annual Fantasy Football competition, has built clean water systems and hospitals in Haiti, as well as a clinic in Ethiopia, among other charitable endeavors.  Big League Impact also provides food for the needy both in the US and overseas, including in St. Louis.

The 39-year old Wainwright stated that winning the Clemente Award was the greatest honor of his career.

Further information:

Adam Wainwright to Receive 2020 Roberto Clemente Award

Cardinals select LHP in Rule 5 draft

The annual Rule 5 Draft was held virtually this year on Thursday, December 10.  The draft contains a major league phase and a Triple-A phase in which teams may select unprotected eligible players from any of the minor league systems of the other 29 organizations.  Any player selected in the major league phase must be added to the new team’s 40-man roster and remain there for the entire season or be returned to their prior organization.  In the Triple-A phase of the draft, players selected are placed in the selecting team’s minor league system with no requirement for return.

This year, the Cardinals made no selections in the major league phase and lost no players, either, but did select LHP Garrett Williams from the Los Angeles Angels in the Triple-A phase.  The 24-year old lefty spent the 2019 season with the Angels Double-A affiliate in Richmond, VA.  Williams posted a record of 7-8 with an ERA of 3.60 in 110 innings pitched in 2019.

Garrett Williams

The Cardinals also lost RHPs Jordan Brink and Ronnie Williams in the Triple-A phase to the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants, respectively.

Much more Rule 5 information for members of The Cardinal Nation:

Cardinals Add One, Lose Two in 2020 Rule 5 Draft

Mozeliak gives the State of the Off-Season

As is tradtion during the Winter Meetings, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak fielded a series of questions from members of the media, though this time it was virtual. The primary focus as expected was the club’s plans for the remainder of the off-season. Re-signing free agents Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are the clear priorities. Beyond that are many uncertainties.

Full details here:

John Mozeliak’s State of the Cardinals – December 9, 2020

Cardinals announce 2021 minor league affiliates

Following a major restructuring of the minor leagues by MLB that reduced the number of affiliated teams to 120, the Cardinals confirmed this past week that they will retain all four full-season affiliates in 2021.  They are the Memphis Redbirds, the Springfield Cardinals, the Palm Beach Cardinals, and the Peoria Chiefs.

There will be one difference in 2021 for the four.  While Memphis and Springfield retain their status as the organization’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, the Palm Beach Cardinals and the Peoria Chiefs will be swapping levels.  Peoria becomes the Cardinals High-A affiliate and Palm Beach will be the Low-A affiliate.

The Cardinals own the Springfield and Palm Beach teams and hold a minority ownership stake in the Memphis affiliate. The internal level change creates a situation where the top three affiliates are located within a few hours drive from St. Louis.

The Cardinals shed their short-season Class-A affiliate State College Spikes and their Appalachian League affiliate Johnson City Cardinals in the MLB restructuring.  The organization will retain their rookie level team in the Gulf Coast League and their two teams in the Dominican Summer League.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Mark Saxon of The Athletic reported that separate talks between the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina have been slow to develop.  This is especially true with respect to Wainwright, who recent said he has not had any substantial discussions with any team.  Wainwright is believed to be seeking his third consecutive one-year contract.

Yadier Molina

On the other hand, Molina is reportedly seeking a two-year deal, which Saxon says is at least one year at $10 million plus an option for 2022. Saxon also reports that the Cardinals are not rushing to sign either Molina or Wainwright and are content to wait and watch the market develop.

It has been reported that a member of the Molina camp referred to an early offer from the Cardinals as “ridiculous” and Saxon adds that Molina feels he is being lowballed by the organization.

Transactions

There are no major league transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.  Gant has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration. John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and remains a free agent. Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wvu.  The events will take place January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo: 1986-1990

Last week’s Blast From the Past looked at the early baseball career of Jose Oquendo, the “Secret Weapon, from his signing by the Mets at the age of 15 and concluding with the trade to St. Louis.  This week, we review the first five years of Oquendo’s Cardinals career.

Oquendo came to the club in an April 2, 1985 trade from the Mets for two players, minor leaguer John Young and Angel Salazar.  Oquendo spent the 1985 season playing with Triple-A Louisville Redbirds, where he appeared in 133 games and slashed .211/.264/.245 with one home run and 30 RBI.

Jose Oquendo

Oquendo was called up to St. Louis on April 19, 1986.  Although Jose played exclusively at shortstop up to that time, the presence of Ozzie Smith necessitated that the Cardinals try Oquendo at other positions. In his 76 games played in 1986, 29 were at shortstop, 21 were at second base and one game each at third base and left field.  He also made 30 pinch hitting appearances and three pinch running appearances.  Oquendo improved his hitting in the big leagues, slashing .297/.359/.341.

Oquendo increased his versatility in 1987, playing every position that season except catcher.  He made one emergency pitching appearance in the August 7 game against the Phillies in which the Cardinals were losing 12-4.  Jose pitched the eighth inning and gave up three earned runs.  In addition to the one pitching appearance, Oquendo played first base three times and third base eight times.  His outfield appearances increased to 46 in total, 37 of which were in right field.  He continued to receive time at both second base and shortstop as well.

Oquendo slashed .286/.408/.335 in 116 games in 1987 and reached the postseason that year for the one and only time in his career. In 42 plate appearances across the NLCS and the World Series, Jose slashed .222/.286/.306 with one home run and six RBI.

It was in 1988 that Oquendo reached the pinnacle of versatility by playing at every position on the field at least once.  Oquendo made one appearace again as a pitcher and one appearance behind the plate that season. His one pitching outing was in a 19-inning game against the Braves on May 14 in which he tossed three scoreless innings before giving up a double to Ken Griffey in the 19th inning.  Over the full season, Oquendo slashed .277/.350/.350 in 148 games.

In 1989, Oquendo become the Cardinals’ regular second baseman with 156 games played at the position, committing only five errors. He also made one appearance at first base and seven appearances at shortstop while leading the league in games played at 163. That season he slashed .291/.375/.372.

Oquendo continued as St. Louis’ starting second baseman in 1990, playing in 150 games there and  four more at shortstop.  This was Jose’s best defensive season as he set a major league record for the fewest errors by a second baseman (three) in a 150+ game season.  His performance at the plate took a hit, however, as he slashed only .252/.350/.316.

Next week, we will look to Oquendo’s final five seasons as a Cardinal player.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #11 – Tink Hence


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 30-December 6

photo: Rangel Ravelo (Jon Durr/Imagn)

Cardinals tender contracts to five arbitration eligible players

December 2 was the deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players as well as pre-arb players. The St. Louis Cardinals announced that evening that of the five of their six arbitration eligible players were tendered contracts.

The five players guaranteed to be back for 2021 include right-handed pitchers Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, John Gant, and Jordan Hicks.  Also tendered a contract was center fielder Harrison Bader, who was the only position player with arbitration eligibility.

Rangel Ravelo (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Not tendered a contract was RHP John Brebbia.  The Cardinals also did not tender a contract to 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo, who was not yet arbitration eligible.

Of the five tendered players, Flaherty, Reyes, Hicks and Bader were arbitration eligible for the first time.  Gant is entering his second year of arbitration.  The next day, the right hander agreed to his 2021 contract terms with the Cardinals, and will be paid $2.1 million.

The remaining four have until January 15 to settle with the team on their 2021 salaries.  Should agreements not be reached by the January 15 deadline, each side will submit a salary figure, with the next step a hearing with an arbitrator sometime in February.  An agreement on a contract can be reached anytime before a hearing is held.

John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

Brebbia and Ravelo have become free agents and will be seeking a contract with another team.  Brebbia missed the entirety of the 2020 season as a result of his Tommy John surgery on June 3, 2020.  The right hander is continuing rehab and has begun a throwing program but may not be ready for the start of the 2021 season.  The Cardinals have expressed interest in signing Brebbia to a minor league contract should he not get a major league contract elsewhere.

Ravelo was not yet arbitration eligible after making his debut in 2019.  He had limited playing time in 2020 and the Cardinals have other options such as Austin Dean and John Nogowski to step into the bench player role.  Ravelo’s spot on the roster was tenuous because he is out of major league options.

For further details:

Two Cardinals Go Non-Tender in the Night

Gant, Cardinals Come to Terms on 2021 Contract

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the Cardinals are among several teams with interest in free agent catcher James McCann.  The Cardinals continue to have interest in re-signing Yadier Molina, but McCann could be an option should talks with Molina not bear fruit and he signs with another team.

Transactions

  • 12/2 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo has become a free agent.
  • 12/2 RHP John Brebbia has become a free agent.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • The Winter Meetings begin this week and continue through December 10. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 Draft, which will be held on Thursday to conclude the event.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have four arbitration eligible players who have yet to settle – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All are first time arbitration eligible.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wvu.  The events will take place January 16-18, 2021. The traveling Cardinals Caravans will not be held this year.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo: His early life in baseball

Last week’s Blast was the final installment of the series on Cardinals manager and Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog.  This week we begin a short series on one of Whitey’s players, the man known as the “Secret Weapon”. Jose Oquendo played 10 seasons with St. Louis and continued his post-playing career as a coach and instructor with the eam.

Jose Oquendo

Jose Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras was born on July 4, 1963, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.  In 1979, at the age of 15, Oquendo was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Mets.  Oquendo was assigned to the Mets’ short season Class A team, the Grays Harbor Loggers of the Northwest League following his signing on April 15, 1979.  In his first professional season, Oquendo played in 64 games, 63 at shortstop and one at second base.  Oquendo slashed .227/.329/.277 in that first season, with one home and 14 RBI.

Oquendo was promoted to the Class A Lynchburg Mets of the Carolina League for the 1980 and 1981 seasons.  Jose played in 109 games in 1980 and 124 games in 1981, all at shortstop.  His hitting in his first season in Lynchburg was poor, with a line of only .169/.280/.223.  He improved to .249/.366/.300 in 1981.  As it turned out, the 1981 season was his best hitting results during his years in the Mets organization.

Oquendo jumped to the AAA Tidewater Tides of the International League in 1982.  There, he slashed .214/.298/.255 in 114 games.  He continued to play all of his games at shortstop.

Jose made his major league debut with the Mets on May 2, 1983 in a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros.  Oquendo made a pinch hitting appearance in the ninth inning and grounded into a force out.  Jose slashed .213/.260/.244 in 120 games with the Mets that season.

Jose Oquendo

In 1984, Oquendo bounced back and forth between Tidewater and New York.  He played in 81 games with the Mets, slashing .222/.284/.249.

On April 2, 1985, Oquendo was traded to the Cardinals along with Mark Davis, for John Young and Angel Salazar.  Jose would spend the entire 1985 season with the Cardinals’ AAA affiliate, the Louisville Redbirds.

During Oquendo’s time with the Mets, he played shortstop only.  Once traded to the Cardinals, that changed, as they already had a shortstop, a man named Ozzie Smith.  So, when Oquendo finally made his debut with St. Louis in 1986, the team decided to experiment with making him a utility player.

Next week, we will cover Oquendo’s early years with the Cardinals.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #16 – Kodi Whitley


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 23-29

2021 Cardinals Caravans canceled and Winter Warm-Up goes virtual

The annual St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up/Cardinals Caravans will be different in 2021.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team made the decision to cancel the Caravans for 2021.  Usually about six groups of players and media members visit towns in a multi-state area. The Winter Warm-Up, however, will not be canceled, but instead will be held virtually. It has been a three-day event in downtown St. Louis.

The 2021 Winter Warm-Up is scheduled for January 16-18.  The 50/50 raffle winner will be selected on Friday, January 15.  Player autographs will be available online beginning December 4, which will include pre-ordering autographed baseballs and photos to be personalized by select players.  There will be a limited number of these items, so fans are encouraged to order early.  The list of available items with delivery schedule can be found at cardinals.com/wvu .

Silent auctions will be held online from 9 am to 5 pm CT on January 16 and 17 and from 9 am to 3 pm CT on January 18.  More details will be announced in December.

Martinez involved in Covid protocol violation

News from reporters on Monday, November 23 was that Cardinals’ pitcher Carlos Martinez was in violation of Covid-19 restrictions in place in his hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic over the preceding weekend.  Martinez was allegedly participating in an event with a music artist that involved Martinez on a motorcycle, unmasked, with the singer, also unmasked, on the back of the bike driving through a large crowd of fans, also unmasked.

The incident was in violation of a mandate on social distancing in Puerto Plata.  The Cardinals issued a statement on Monday that they were aware of the incident and were looking into it.  The statement said Martinez was not arrested and there were no pending legal charges against him. Martinez later posted a written statement and a video apologizing for his actions.

Carlos Martinez

Martinez contracted Covid-19 early in the 2020 season and was one of a number of Cardinals players who missed time due to being infected with the virus.  He was one of the sicker of the affected players requiring at least two hospital stays for treatment.  The right-hander returned for five starts, only to have his season ended by an oblique injury.

Martinez is entering the final year of his contract, which includes team options for 2022 and 2023.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Free agent catcher Yadier Molina stated in an interview with Laura Bonnelly V. of Mas Que Pelota that he hopes to return to the Cardinals.  During that interview, he revealed four other teams that have shown interest in him – the Yankees, the Mets, the Padres, and the Angels.  Molina had previously named the two New York teams as suitors but had not revealed the interest of the California clubs.

Molina has stated he wants a two-year contract.  The Cardinals have apparently been in contact with Molina, but no progress has been shared.

A signing by the Angels would reunite Molina with his friend and former teammate Albert Pujols, who is entering the final season of his 10-year contract with the Angels.

Yadier Molina

On Sunday evening, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Toronto Blue Jays are expected to pursue free agent second baseman Kolten Wong, assuming the top available player at the position, D.J. LeMahieu, returns to the New York Yankees as expected. Late last month, the Cardinals gave Wong $1 million to get out of their commitment to pay him $11.5 million this coming season.

Kolten Wong

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 12/2: Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes. All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.
  • 12/6-12/10 were the dates scheduled for the annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This also includes the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be virtual on 12/10.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wvu. The events will take place January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Whitey Herzog: St Louis Cardinals and beyond

Last week’s Blast From the Past looked at Whitey Herzog’s post-playing career from 1964 through 1979.  This final installment in the series follows Herzog as he left the manager’s job with the Kansas City Royals in 1979 and took on a new opportunity close by.

Herzog was fired by the Royals following the 1979 season.  Down Interstate 70, the St. Louis Cardinals, under the management of Ken Boyer, had finished the 1979 season with a record of 86-76, good for third place in the NL East.  By June of 1980, the Cardinals were 18-33 and had gone 5-22 over the previous 27 games.  The Cardinals fired Boyer and hired Whitey.

Herzog managed the final 73 games in 1980 for the Cardinals and went 38-35.  He assumed the role of general manager on August 26 and the remainder of the 1980 season was managed by Red Schoendienst. Herzog took the reins of both positions – GM and manager – in the 1980 offseason and retained the dual posts for two seasons.  Joe McDonald became the Cardinals GM in April 1982 as Herzog continued on as manager.

Herzog’s 1981 season with St. Louis was cut in half by a midseason player’s strike.  After a 50-game hiatus, the season restarted in August.  With the season cut into two halves, with each half’s winner would advance to the playoffs.  The Cardinals had the best overall record in the NL East of 59-43, but finished second in both halves, thus missing the playoffs.

Whitey Herzog

During Whitey’s two seasons as GM, he acquired Bruce Sutter, Darrell Porter, Lonnie Smith, Willie McGee, and Ozzie Smith.  The Cardinals finished the 1982 season with a record of 92-70, swept the Braves in the NLCS and defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in seven games to win the World Series.

Whitey’s Cardinals did not repeat in 1983, finishing 79-83 and in fourth place in the NL East.  The Cardinals made the unpopular move of trading star first baseman Keith Hernandez to the Mets prior to the 1983 trade deadline.  The reason included a long-time personality conflict with Herzog among rumors of Hernandez’ cocaine use.

The Cardinals finished the 1984 season in third place in the NL East with a record of 84-78.  After the season, the Cardinals acquired pitcher John Tudor and first baseman Jack Clark.  These moves aided the Cardinals to winning 101 games in 1985, the NL East title, and win over the Dodgers in the NLCS and a trip to the World Series against the Whitey’s former team, the Kansas City Royals.

The Cardinals lost the I-70 Series in seven games, a marred by a bad call in Game 6 by umpire Don Denkinger.  A routine grounder was fielded by first baseman Clark who threw to pitcher Todd Worrell.  Denkinger called the runner safe at first but on video he was clearly out.  The bad call led to the Cardinals losing Game 6 and they subsequently dropped Game 7.

Whitey Herzog

The Cardinals had a losing season in 1986 with a record of 79-82.  They bounced back to a winning mark of 95-67 in 1987, taking the NL East title.  They beat the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS but lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins.

After a losing season in 1988, and a third place season in 1989, Herzog resigned as manager of the Cardinals 80 games into the 1990 season, frustrated he could not motivate the young players.  His career managerial record is 1281-1125, a .532 winning percentage.

Whitey would not manage again, but did not immediately leave baseball.

Herzog was hired by the Angels in various front office positions, including a brief move into the GM job in 1993-1994.  Herzog resigned from the Angels in 1994, citing a desire to do other things.  Despite other rumors of potential interest, he did not officially work in baseball again.

Matt Carpenter and Whitey Herzog shaking hands (USA TODAY Sports)

Herzog was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 through a vote of the Veterans Committee and his number 24 was retired by the Cardinals. He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in the 2014 inaugural class.

Herzog turned 89 years old on November 9 and appears regularly at red jacket events.  He recovered from a mild stroke suffered in 2019 and continues to live in the St. Louis area with his wife, Mary Lou.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #24 – Edwin Nuñez


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 16-22

photo: Ivan Herrera (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Cardinals add two to 40-man roster

The deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster for protection from the Rule 5 draft came and went on Friday, November 20.  The Rule 5 draft occurs annually on the morning of the last day of the Winter Meetings, this year on December 10.

The Cardinals protected two top prospects in anticipation of the draft.  Catcher Ivan Herrera was announced on Wednesday, November 18.  Herrera, 20, was signed as an international free agent in 2016 for $200,000.  He spent the 2019 season between Low-A Peoria and High-A Palm Beach and concluded 2019 playing in the Arizona Fall League.  The catcher was to start the 2020 season in Double-A Springfield, but due to the cancellation of the minor league season he instead participated in the alternate training site in Springfield for the shortened season.

Ivan Herrera

Herrera is known more for his bat, slashing a combined .284/.374/.405 in 2019, but has improved his defense through working with coaches as well as Yadier Molina.  Herrera’s addition to the 40-man roster is independent of any talks to re-sign Molina to a new contract.

The second addition to the 40 man roster, RHP Angel Rondon, was announced on Thursday, November 19. The 22-year old was also an international signing in 2016 from the Dominican Republic.  Rondon was named the Cardinals organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019, and like Herrera, spent the last summer at the alternate site.  The right-hander pitched for Palm Beach and Springfield in 2019, posting a 2.93 ERA over 28 starts.

Angel Rondon

Further free details on each as well as an in-depth subscriber article on those players left unprotected in the Major League and Minor League phases of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft:

Cardinals Add Catcher Ivan Herrera to the 40-Man Roster

Cardinals Follow with Placing Angel Rondon onto 40-Man Roster

Cardinals Rule 5 Draft Preparation Changes

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

In an interview with Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the team’s payroll situation for 2021 is “fluid”.   DeWitt stated that due to the uncertainty of what the 2021 season will bring, a payroll reduction remains a possibility.

The extent of the public health situation as the 2021 season nears will be determinant in which direction the Cardinals finances will head.  St. Louis is more reliant on ticket revenue than other teams and therefore the ability for live attendance at games in 2021 will be key.

DeWitt asserted that regardless of the financial situation, he intends to field a “competitive” roster, without clarifying what level of competitiveness is the target.

Transactions

  • 11/18 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Ivan Herrera from the Palm Beach Cardinals
  • 11/19 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Angel Rondon from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 12/2: Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10: The dates originally scheduled for the annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This also include the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be conducted virtually on December 10.
  • 1/15/21: Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past – Whitey Herzog: 1964-1979

Last week’s installment of Blast from the Past chronicled the playing career of Whitey Herzog.  Herzog retired from baseball at the end of the 1963 season after putting up poor numbers with his final team, the Detroit Tigers.

This week, we begin in 1964, with Herzog returning to the Kansas City Athletics as a scout.  In 1965, Whitey became a coach for the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate in Vancouver. After one year in Vancouver, Herzog left the Athletics organization and went to work for the New York Mets.

He joined the Mets in 1966 as the third base coach for Wes Westrum, who had replaced Casey Stengel as manager in 1965.  In 1967, Whitey was named Director of Player Development, the farm director.  He also managed the Mets Florida Instructional League for 50 games that year.  This was Whitey’s first foray into managing.  He spent the next six years in Player Development.

Whitey Herzog

After Whitey was passed over for the manager job in 1972 following the death of Gil Hodges, he left the Mets organization.  In November 1972, Herzog was named the manager of the Texas Rangers at the age of 40, replacing Hall of Fame player Ted Williams.  He made his managerial debut on April 7, 1973, with his first win on April 12 by a 4-0 margin over the Kansas City Royals.

Whitey did not finish the season with the Rangers, as he was fired after 138 games and a record of 47-91.  Billy Martin was his replacement.

Herzog’s next job was as the third base coach for the 1974 California Angels.  He became the interim manager for the Angels for four games after manager Bobby Winkles was fired.  The Angels then hired Dick Williams and Whitey stayed on as coach for the rest of the season.

Whitey Herzog

In 1975, Herzog was named manager of the Kansas City Royals in July after the firing of Jack McKeon.  His salary was $50,000 for the remainder of 1975 and through the end of the 1976 season.  Whitey’s first Royals team included George Brett, Frank White, Hal McRae, and 39-year old Harmon Killebrew.  Herzog managed them to a second-place finish.

It was with the Royals that Herzog’s style of baseball, called “Whitey Ball” first began.  Trademarks were top-flight fielding, speed on the basepaths, and solid pitching.  Whitey Ball thrived on the artificial turf of Royals Stadium.  The Royals earned their first AL West Division title in 1976 with a record of 90-72 but lost in the Championship Series to the Yankees.

The Royals again took the AL West title in 1977 with 102 wins.  A rematch with the Yankees in the ALCS ended in a 3-2 loss in five games.  The pattern repeated in 1978 as Kansas City took the AL West title and lost to the Yankees for the third time, in four games.

The 1979 Royals ended the season in second place with only 85 wins.  This setback and friction between Herzog and Royals owner Ewing Kauffman over the manager’s perception that the owner did not want to improve the team led to Herzog’s firing.

Herzog began the next decade with a different team, just across the state.  Next week we will review Herzog’s successful stint as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.


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Cardinals 2020-2021 Winter Leagues Preview


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 9-15

photo: Whitey Herzog played for the Washington Senators from 1956-1958

Cardinals sign minor league catcher

The St. Louis Cardinals made a move this past week to add catching depth to the organization by signing catcher Tyler Heineman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.  Heineman, 29, spent the shortened 2020 season with the San Francisco Giants, appearing in 15 games for the NL West team.

Tyler Heineman

Heineman was the eighth round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2012, and spent his first five professional seasons in that organization’s minor league system.  His contract was purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 and the catcher played in their system in 2017 and 2018.  After spending the first half of 2019 in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, Heineman was acquired by the Miami Marlins that June and made his major league debut with them on September 4, 2019.  The Giants signed the catcher as a free agent in January 2020. In his 15 games for the Giants, Heineman, a switch hitter, slashed .190/.292/.214.

The minor league deal is a typical depth move for the Cardinals and barring injuries to others, is not likely to be significant in the big league plans for the catching position for the 2021 season.  The Cardinals are still the favorites to re-sign free agent Yadier Molina, and Andrew Knizner is likely to serve as the backup catcher if Molina returns the Cardinals. Even if Molina does not return, another free agent catcher could be added before spring training.

Further details:

Cardinals Sign Catcher Tyler Heineman to Minors Deal

Friday deadline to protect players from Rule 5 draft

The annual Rule 5 draft is set to take place virtually on December 10, 2020. In preparation for this event, each team is allowed to add eligible players to their 40-man roster to exempt them from the draft.  The deadline for this action to take place is November 20, 2020.

The Cardinals 40-man roster currently stands at 37.  The possible return of both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina would take up two of the three open spots.  Should the Cardinals want to add more than one Rule 5 eligible player, additional spots will need to be made available by removing players currently on the roster by the November 20 deadline. (Other roster changes can be made later for free agent signings or trades.)

You may read here at TCN a prediction of which Rule 5 eligible players are likely to be added by the deadline.

The Cardinal Nation’s 2020 Rule 5 Protection Picks

Cards awards shutout

The major National League awards for 2020 were announced this past week. No Cardinals placed in the top three in the voting for the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year honors.

Respective winners were Freddie Freeman of the Braves, Trevor Bauer of Cincinnati, Milwaukee’s Devin Williams and Miami’s Don Mattingly. Voting details can be found here.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported in a tweet that free agent catcher Yadier Molina has received calls of interest from the Mets and the Yankees.  Heyman states at least 3 or 4 other teams, including the Cardinals, have expressed interest in Molina.  Molina’s agent told Heyman that he is seeking a two-year deal for the catcher.

Yadier Molina

Transactions

  • 11/14 The Cardinals signed free agent C Tyler Heineman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Listed below are dates for future key offseason events:

  • 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
  • 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
  • 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10 were the dates scheduled for the annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This also include the annual Rule 5 draft which will also be virtual on the final day.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first=time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast From the Past continues with the second installment of the series on Cardinals Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog.  Last week covered the early years of Whitey’s life and professional playing career.  It ended with the trade from the New York Yankees minor league system to the Washington Senators in April 1956.

Whitey made his major league debut with the Senators on April 17, 1956 at the age of 24, in a game against his former team.  Herzog was in the starting lineup at right field, batting third.  Whitey went 1-for-4, striking out twice and grounding out before hitting a single to right in the bottom of the eighth inning.  The Senators lost, 10-4.

Herzog played in 117 games for the Senators in 1956, with all but five of those games in the outfield.  Whitey slashed .245/.302/.337 with four home runs and 35 RBI.  He split much of 1957 in the minor leagues and played in only 36 major league games.

In May 1958, the Senators traded Herzog to the Kansas City Athletics.  Whitey played in 88, 38, and 83 major league games for Kansas City in 1958, 1959, and 1960, respectively.  His best season with the bat was in 1959, when he slashed .293/.446/.390 with one home run and nine RBI.  He hit eight home runs and 38 RBI with a slash line of .266/.364/.417 in his 83 major league games in 1960.

In January 1961, the Athletics traded Herzog along with Russ Snyder to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Archer, Bob Boyd, Wayne Causey, Clint Courtney, and Al Pilarcik.  Whitey played in a combined 212 games for the Orioles in 1961 and 1962.  In 1961 he slashed .291/.387/.409 with five home runs and 35 RBI.

The Orioles traded Herzog to the Detroit Tigers on November 26, 1962.  Whitey played in only 52 games for the Tigers in 1963 and hit a dismal .151/.303/.226. Over eight seasons in the major leagues with four different teams, Herzog played in 634 games and posted a career slash line of .257/.354/.365, with 25 home runs and 172 RBI. (His full career playing stats can be viewed here.)

Herzog retired as a player at the end of the 1963 season. The next stage of his baseball career took him off the playing field.  Whitey said years later about his playing career versus his managing career, “Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it.”

Next week, we will look at Herzog’s journey through baseball after his playing days were over.


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St. Louis Cardinals Draft Recap 2013-2019 – Top Over-Slot Picks


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 2-8

O’Neill and Wong win Gold Gloves

St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Tyler O’Neill and second baseman Kolten Wong were named National League recipients of the 2020 Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence.  It is the 30th time the Cardinals have had multiple Gold Glove winners in the same season and first since 2015. Paul Goldschmidt came in second at first base.

Details here:

Kolten Wong and Tyler O’Neill Win 2020 Gold Glove Awards

The first-time Gold Glove Team Award for the National League went to the Chicago Cubs, which narrowly edged the Cardinals.

For members of The Cardinal Nation, we dug deeper into the metrics which decided the awards and looked at how all position players stacked up.

What the Metrics Say about St. Louis Cardinals Defenders

Cardinals shut out of other major awards

The 2020 Silver Slugger Awards, given to the top offensive performers by position in the National League, did not include any Cardinals.

The top three vote-getters for 2020 Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player awards were announced last Monday. The Cardinals have no “finalists” for any of these National League-wide honors, for which the winners will be disclosed this week.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Adam Wainwright tweeted about his intention to play in 2021, as expected. Because the right-hander had a successful network television analyst debut in the post-season, there was some speculation FOX might try to hire him away.

Transactions

After a prior week of numerous transactions, the Cardinals have been quiet in November to date. As detailed below, the next major decision will be which prospects to protect from the December Rule 5 Draft.

In addition, minor league free agency opened for some and ended for others before it officially began, as we have news for members on 15 current and former St. Louis Cardinals farmhands. Four were once on the 40-man roster and three pitched in the majors in 2020.

Assessing 2020 Minor League Free Agency for the St. Louis Cardinals

To view the entire Cardinals system, by position and team, as well as all free agents and every transaction across the organization, check out the Roster Matrix, free here at the Cardinal Nation.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2020-2021 Offseason

Injury Report

There is no new injury news to report.

Looking Ahead

Listed below are dates for key offseason events:

  • 11/9-11/12 Winners of the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player awards will be announced on MLB Network at 5 pm CT on consecutive days. The Cardinals have no top three finishers.
  • 11/11 Deadline for free agents to accept or decline a qualifying offer is by 4 pm CT. No Cardinals have been made a qualifying offer and only six players did across all of MLB.
  • 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
  • 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
  • 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10 The annual Winter Meetings were to be held in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be virtual.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past

Last week’s Blast from the Past was the final installment of the five-part series on Cardinals legend Bob Gibson, who passed away last month and would have turned 85 on Monday.  This week’s Blast begins another series about another team legend, who was born on the same day as Gibson, but four years earlier, and is still with us.

Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog was born on November 9, 1931 in New Athens, Illinois, a town about 40 miles east of St. Louis.  Herzog was the second of three boys born to Edgar and Lietta Herzog.  Herzog’s father worked at the Mound City Brewery, and his mother at a shoe factory.  Dorrel was also known as “Relly” to his friends and family.  He would acquire another nickname later on as an adult.

Herzog undertook several jobs as a youth to help the family make ends meet.  He worked as a grave digger and delivered newspapers and baked goods and did some work at the brewery where his father worked, as well.

Dorrel would sometimes skip school and take a bus to Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, the home of the Browns and the Cardinals.  His idols were Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter.  Herzog would sneak into the ballpark early and grab batting practice balls that he would take home and reuse at the local sandlots.

Herzog played basketball and baseball at New Athens High School. The lefty pitched, played first base and outfield.  Herzog hit .584 as a junior and helped take his team to the regional playoffs as a senior. He was a second team All-Stater in both his junior and senior years.

Though Herzog drew some interest from local colleges and universities, he did not continue in school following his graduation in 1949.  He signed a contract with the New York Yankees, the same year the Yankees signed another young man named Mickey Mantle.

Herzog began his professional baseball career with the Class D McAlester Rockets in McAlester, Oklahoma.  While there, Herzog acquired the name “Whitey”.  The nickname was bestowed upon him by a sportscaster who said he resembled a pitcher on the Yankees, Bob “White Rat” Kuzava, because of his light blond hair.

During his two years in McAlester, Whitey hit .279 and .351.  He moved up to the Class C Joplin Miners and Class B Piedmont League in 1951 where he hit a combined .276.  In 1952 Whitey played for the Quincy Gems of the Three-I League and the Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League before finally reaching the Triple-A Kansas City Blues near the end of the season.

At the end of the 1952 season, Herzog was drafted into the US Army and spent two years in the Corps of Engineers.  He also married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou Sinn, that same year.

While stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Whitey got his first managerial experience leading the company baseball team. After his 1955 discharge from the Army, Herzog returned to baseball, playing for the Yankees Triple-A team, the Denver Zephyrs.  That season, Whitey hit .289 with 21 home runs and 98 RBI.

Herzog hoped to make his New York debut in 1956, but that April, the Yankees traded him to the Washington Senators in a seven-player deal.

Herzog’s major league career began in Washington but didn’t end there.  In the next six years, Whitey bounced around between the majors and the minors for three more organizations. More on that is coming next Monday!


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #43 – Alex FaGalde


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of October 26 – November 1

photo: Kolten Wong (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Cardinals decline option on Kolten Wong

On Wednesday, October 28, St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced in a Zoom call with media members that the team had declined the 2021 option for second baseman Kolten Wong.  The option was for $12.5 million.  The Cardinals will pay a $1 million buyout to Wong and he has officially become a free agent.

Mozeliak stated that the move was to bring “payroll flexibility” to the team, which faced reduced revenues from gate receipts due to the Covid-19 shortened season.  The Cardinals are anticipating reduced payroll for 2021 and have already made cuts to personnel in baseball operations.

The Cardinals have $116.75 million committed to nine players with guaranteed contracts and six arbitration eligible players likely to receive raises, assuming they are all offered contracts.

The Cardinals also intend to pursue free agents Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and have “left the door open” for future talks with Wong, though Mozeliak was non-committal about any efforts to re-sign the Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman.

Tommy Edman has been tabbed as Wong’s replacement for 2021.

Further details:

Cardinals Drop Kolten Wong on “the Conservative, Safer Play”

All Cardinals Coaches to Return for 2021

In his Zoom review, Mozeliak also confirmed earlier reports that the entire St. Louis coaching staff will return for 2021. This includes oft-questioned hitting coach Jeff Albert and coach Willie McGee. The latter opted out of participating in 2020 due to COVID concerns.

Three Cardinals are Gold Glove Award finalists

Finalists for the NL and AL Gold Glove awards have been announced and three Cardinals are on the list of the top three finishers at their respective positions.  They are Paul Goldschmidt at 1B, Kolten Wong at 2B and Tyler O’Neill in LF.  The winners of the award will be announced on November 3 at 7 pm CT on ESPN.

Goldschmidt is up for his fourth Gold Glove.  Wong was a winner in 2019.  O’Neill is a first-time nominee.

The Cardinals had six finalists for the Gold Glove Awards in 2019 but only Wong received the prize. Goldschmidt was a finalist but did not win. Catcher Yadier Molina, a nine-time winner, was a finalist in 2019 but not in 2020, causing him to lash out via social media.  Other Cardinals finalists in 2019 but not in 2020 were CF Harrison Bader, SS Paul DeJong, and P Jack Flaherty, all first-time finalists.

Further details:

Three Cardinals are Top Three Finishers in 2020 Gold Glove Award Scoring

Wong and O’Neill win Fielding Bible Awards

The cross-MLB winners of another key defensive award were announced on Thursday. Kolten Wong picked up his third consecutive Fielding Bible Award at second base and left fielder Tyler O’Neill was recognized as the game’s top defender in left field in the sabermetrically-focused voting.

Further details:

Cardinals O’Neill and Wong Win 2020 Fielding Bible Awards

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

David O’Brien and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Atlanta Braves have interest in signing free agent Adam Wainwright.  Wainwright became a free agent on Wednesday, October 28, the day following the end of the World Series.  The quiet period for exclusive negotiations with the Cardinals ended at 4 pm CT on Sunday.  Wainwright can now be signed by any team.

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that four teams, including the Cardinals, have reached out to Yadier Molina with interest in signing the catcher.  Molina became a free agent along the same calendar as Wainwright.

Goold also reported that Kolten Wong, who became a free agent when the Cardinals declined his 2021 option, has received interest from the Los Angeles Angels and several other teams.

Transactions

  • 10/28 C Yadier Molina, C Matt Wieters, 2B Kolten Wong, 2B Brad Miller, and RHP Adam Wainwright have all elected free agency.
  • 10/30 The Cardinals activated RHPs Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, and John Brebbia from the 45-day injured list.
  • 10/30 The Cardinals sent LHP Ricardo Sanchez, and RHP Nabil Crismatt outright to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 10/30 2B Max Schrock was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs.

To view the entire Cardinals system, by position and team, as well as all free agents and every transaction across the organization, check out the Roster Matrix, free here at the Cardinal Nation.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2020-2021 Offseason

Injury Report

  • RHPs Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, and John Brebbia were activated from the 45-day injured list, as required by MLB rule. Hudson and Brebbia are expected to miss all or part of the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery.  Hicks and Mikolas are expected to be ready to pitch for the opening of spring training 2021.
  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right, throwing elbow. Goldschmidt is expected to be ready to play for spring training 2021.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez required Tommy John surgery, which was conducted in St. Louis two weeks ago.

Looking Ahead

The offseason has officially begun.  Listed below are dates for key offseason events:

  • 11/2 Finalists for Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards will be announced during a live broadcast on MLB Network at 5 pm CT.
  • 11/3 Gold Glove Award Winners will be announced during a live broadcast on ESPN at 6 pm CT. Three Cardinals, 2B Kolten Wong, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, and LF Tyler O’Neill are top three finishers.
  • 11/9-11/12 Winners of the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards will be announced on MLB Network at 5 pm CT on consecutive days.
  • 11/11 Deadline for free agents to accept or decline a qualifying offer is by 4 pm CT. No Cardinals have been made a qualifying offer and only six players did across all of MLB.
  • 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
  • 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
  • 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10 The annual Winter Meetings were to be held in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be virtual.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past

The final installment of the series on Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, highlight’s Gibson’s post-playing career.  Gibson was with the Cardinals from 1959 until his retirement from baseball in 1975.

Gibson hung up his spikes in the last month of the 1975 season.  In the early 1970s, prior to his retirement, Gibson had done some broadcasting work for ABC.  Following his retirement, Gibson was hired to do broadcasting work on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball for a couple of seasons.  The former Harlem Globetrotter also provided basketball commentary for a radio station in New York and subsequently for WTBS in Atlanta.

In the mid-1980s, Gibson hosted a Cardinal pre-game and post-game show for St. Louis radio station KMOX.  In 1990, Gibson worked for ESPN’s baseball broadcast but quit after one season.

The native of Omaha, Nebraska became involved in commercial ventures there.  He was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of Community National Bank of Omaha, which primarily served the local black community.  He also had a financial stake in a local radio station for several years and was briefly involved in a print advertising venture.

Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals)

Gibson opened a restaurant near his alma mater Creighton University in the late 1970s.  The restaurant was successful, but Gibson closed the establishment after 10 years due to time conflicts with other activities that took him away from Omaha.

In 1981, Gibson was hired by friend and former teammate Joe Torre as an “attitude coach” for the New York Mets.  Torre and his coaches, including Gibson, were fired after the 1981 season.

When Torre was hired to manage the Atlanta Braves in 1982, Gibson joined him as his pitching coach.  He held that position until the end of the 1984 season, when both he and Torre were fired again.

Gibson stated in his 1994 autobiography “Stranger to the Game” that though he tried to get other jobs in baseball, he felt his reputation for being outspoken and difficult to get along with was held against him.  He also wrote that he believed some people in the Cardinals organization were working to keep him out of the game.  He felt this was due to his inadvertent omission of members of the Cardinals organization from his acceptance speech when he was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

Gibson did have one final job in baseball, albeit brief, in 1995, when he was brought on as pitching coach with the Cardinals under Torre.  Torre was fired as manager in June of that year, and Gibson was let go at the end of the season.  The Cardinals later utilized Gibson as a special instructor for years, and he was a regular in spring training camp.

Bob Gibson (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Gibson returned to Omaha to live out his life.  He was named to the Board of Directors of the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.), a group that provides assistance to down on their luck former players.  He was named to MLB’s All Century Team and was inducted into the Creighton University Hall of Fame.  The University also created a scholarship in his name in 2005.  He was inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.  As a Cooperstown Hall of Famer, he was part of the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.

In 2019, Gibson was honored with a street in St. Louis named after him.  A stretch of road in South St. Louis from the 4200 block of East Gibson Avenue to West Kingshighway was renamed “Bob Gibson Way”.  Gibson was on hand for the unveiling in April 2019.  The section of street is located in the Southeast Forest Park neighborhood, south of Interstate 64.

Gibson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2019 and fought the disease until his death on October 2, 2020, at the age of 84.  His death came only a month after the passing of former teammate and friend Lou Brock.  Gibson was survived by his wife Wendy, who he married in 1979, and son Chris from that marriage.  He was also survived by daughters Annette and Renee from his first marriage.


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Being Free Agent Yadier Molina


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Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1971-1975

In the fourth installment in our Bob Gibson series, we look back at the final five seasons of the Hall of Fame pitcher’s career.  From his 1959 debut with the St. Louis Cardinals, until 1970, when he won his second Cy Young Award, the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game.  However, his last five years showed a gradual decline in effectiveness, until he retired from the game prior to the conclusion of the 1975 schedule.

Gibson won at least 20 games in a season for the fifth and last time in 1970.  His record dropped to 16-13 in 1971, but his ERA remained good at 3.04.  Gibson made 31 starts that season and led the league again in shutouts with five.  His strikeouts dropped to under 200 at 185 for the first time since 1961, not counting 1967 when he fractured his leg and missed a couple of months of the season.  He finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting that year behind winner Ferguson Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Al Downing, and Dock Ellis.  He also won his seventh Gold Glove Award but failed to make the 1971 NL All-Star team.

The year 1971 stood out however, because it was the season in which he pitched his one and only no-hitter.  On August 14 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium, Gibson no-hit a lineup that included Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski, both future Hall of Famers.  Gibby struck out Stargell three times.  The Cardinals beat the Pirates 11-0 as Gibson struck out 10 and issued three walks.  He had previously earned his 200th career victory on August 4 against the Giants.

In 1972, Gibson rebounded to win 19 games with an ERA of 2.46, with the latter his best since 1969.  His strikeouts rose to 208 and he made 34 starts.  Gibson finished ninth in the Cy Young Award voting and was named to his eighth and final All- Star Game.  He also won the eighth of his nine Gold Gloves.

Bob Gibson’s 1971 Gold Glove Award

Gibson tore the cartilage in his knee while running the bases in August 1973.  The Cardinals were in pennant contention at the time of the injury and ended up just 1 ½ games behind the division-winning Mets.  Gibson made only 25 starts in 1973 due to the time out with the knee and his record dropped to 12-10 with an ERA of 2.77. He did win his ninth and final Gold Glove in 1973.

Gibson’s decline began in earnest in 1974.  Though he reached the 3,000th strikeout milestone on July 17, 1974 by fanning Cesar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds, Gibby no longer had his once-overpowering fastball.  Gibson’s personal life also took a turn as he and his first wife Charlene divorced that year. A return of swelling in his knee did not help matters and he finished the season with his first losing record since 1960 at 11-13.  His ERA rose to 3.83.

Gibson announced in January 1975 that the season would be his last.  He made only 14 inconsistent starts and was relegated to the bullpen by the end of July.  His last win was in a relief appearance on July 27 against the Phillies.  He made five more appearances in August with the last on August 29. He pitched the sixth inning in relief against the Reds and decided that was it.  Gibson retired and left the team prior to the final road trip.

Gibson ended the 1975 season with a record of 3-10 and ERA of 5.04.  He threw 109 innings with 60 strikeouts and an eye-popping 62 walks.  Gibson retired with a total of 3,117 strikeouts, which was the NL record at that time, and second overall in MLB history to Walter Johnson.  Those 3,117 strikeouts put him presently at a rank of 14th in major league history.

Gibson’s 17-year major league career ended with a record of 251 wins and 174 losses.  His career ERA was 2.91 and he threw 255 complete games, including 56 shutouts.

The final installment of the Bob Gibson series will showcase his post-playing career, which included broadcasting as well as coaching jobs.

Related articles

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 28 – October 4

(includes Blast From the Past covering Gibson’s early career through 1959)

Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1960-1964

Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1965-1970


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The 2020 Cardinals Benefited from the Designated Hitter


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Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1965-1970

This week’s Blast From the Past continues with the series on the baseball career of St. Louis Cardinals legend Bob Gibson.  Last week’s segment ended with the World Series Championship of 1964.  Gibson was instrumental in leading that Cardinals team to the top, winning Games 5 and 7 as the starting (and only) pitcher.

Gibson’s career began with the racially troubled relationship between manager Solly Hemus and the black players on the team.  Hemus was replaced mid-season in 1961 with Johnny Keane.  Keane had a much better relationship with Gibson and the pitcher flourished under his guidance.

Red Schoendienst (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

Keane resigned immediately after the 1964 World Series and was replaced by former Cardinal second baseman Red Schoendienst. Schoendienst had spent his prime years as a player with St. Louis but was traded to the New York Giants in 1956.  After a year, he was dealt to the Milwaukee Braves.  After a bout with tuberculosis in the 1958-59 offseason in which his baseball career was assumed to be over, Schoendienst returned to play baseball with the Braves but was released at the end of the 1960 season.  He returned to the Cardinals in 1961 and spent the next three seasons as a player-coach.  In 1965, Schoendienst took over as St. Louis’ manager.

Bob Gibson’s 1971 Gold Glove Award

The Cardinals as a team struggled for the next two seasons following the 1964 championship.  Gibson, however, pitched well and blossomed.  He won 20 games in 1965 and 21 games in 1966 and made the National League All-Star team both years.  Gibson also won the first two of his nine Gold Glove Awards in those seasons.

In 1967, the offense was led by a group that included Orlando Cepeda, who won the NL Most Valuable Player Award.  Gibson was joined by future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, who debuted as a 20-year old with the Cardinals two years earlier and became a regular in the rotation by 1967.  By mid-season the Cardinals had a 3 ½ game lead over the San Francisco Giants.  On July 15, Gibson was hit on the leg by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Gibson continued to pitch to three more hitters before his right fibula snapped just above the ankle.  The injury could have been season-ending, but Gibson returned to pitching on September 7 in a game against the New York Mets.  Gibson started five games in September, winning three.

The Cardinals won the NL pennant by 10 ½ games over the Giants as Gibson finished with a record of 13-7.  St. Louis met the Boston Red Sox in the 1967 World Series.  Gibson started and won Games 1, 4 and 7 and was named World Series MVP.  Gibson pitched all nine innings of the three games and allowed only three runs in total.  He allowed only three hits in Game 7 and struck out 10.  He also hit a home run in the fifth inning as the Cardinals took the series finale by a score of 7-2.

Mike Shannon, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver and Orlando Cepeda (Getty Images)

1968 became known as “The Year of the Pitcher”, with Gibson as the star of the show.  Gibson threw 28 complete games, which included 13 shutouts.  He led the NL with 268 strikeouts and finished with a record of 22-9.  His most astounding feat, however, was his season ERA of 1.12.  This set a major league record and was the lowest ERA of any pitcher since the Deadball Era.  This record has never been broken.  Gibson capped off his record-breaking season with the first of his two Cy Young Awards and also won the NL MVP award.

Major League Baseball decided to lower the pitching mound after the 1968 season to 10 inches from 15 inches, and it has been said Gibson’s dominance was the driving force behind this decision.  Whether this is true is up for debate.

The Cardinals won the 1968 pennant by nine games over the Giants and played the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.  Gibson set another record by striking out 17 batters in Game 1 to set a World Series record that remains to this day.  Gibson won Game 4 over Tigers pitcher Denny McLain, who he also bested in the opener.  Gibson pitched Game 7 against Mickey Lolich but unfortunately lost that contest and the series to the Tigers.  A two-run triple off Gibson by Jim Northrup went over the head of center fielder Curt Flood in the seventh inning, leading the Cardinals to a heartbreaking defeat.

Bob Gibson’s 1968 Cy Young Award

1969 was a low point for the Cardinals as the season began with labor troubles.  Talk of a player’s strike over salaries led to low morale and a season that ended with the Cardinals dropping to fourth place in the newly created NL East Division.  Gibson won 20 games that year, however.  He led the league in complete games with 28 and played in his fifth consecutive All Star game.

Gibson won his second Cy Young Award in 1970 after posting a 23-7 record.  This was the last season Gibson would win at least 20 games.  The team finished in fourth place in the NL East for the second season in a row and had a losing record of 76-86. Center fielder Curt Flood had been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of the 1969 season but refused to report, leading to a prolonged legal battle with Major League Baseball that would eventually spark the beginning of player free agency.  Gibson also lost his catcher and friend, Tim McCarver, in the Flood trade.

The years 1965-70 were the pinnacle of Gibson’s career.  The next and final five years of his career would have some bright spots, but his decline was inevitable.


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Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1960-1964

photo: Bob Gibson (Associated Press)

This week’s Blast From the Past is a standalone article that continues the series about St. Louis Cardinals pitching icon and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.  Last week, we began with a brief description of his early life and his major league debut in 1959.  Here, we look at the next four years of Gibson’s career, a period which ended with his first World Series Championship.

Gibson made his major league debut in April 1959 but spent the next couple of months in the minor leagues.  He returned to pitch for St. Louis mid-season.  Gibson’s 1960 season began with the big league club but he rode the shuttle between the Cardinals and the minor league Rochester Red Wings the next few months.

Gibson made two relief appearances with St. Louis in April 1960.  He had three outings in May, one as a starter for two innings on May 4 and two relief appearances on May 7 and May 11.

Gibson returned to St. Louis on June 21 as a starter.  He remained with the Cardinals for the remainder of the 1960 season.  Gibson made 11 more starts that season, including a complete game on August 12 against the Pirates, in 9-2 win.  He pitched a total of 86 2/3 innings in 1960 in starting and relief combined.

Gibson’s manager during this 1959-60 period was Solly Hemus, a notorious racist. Gibson remarked that Hemus told both he and Curt Flood at one point that they would never make it in the majors.  Because of Hemus’ dislike of black players, he would use Gibson as sparingly as possible.

Hemus began the 1961 season again shuffling Gibson between the bullpen and the rotation.  Gibson made two starts and two relief appearances in April.  In May, he had four starts, including a complete game shutout against the Cubs on May 21.  Gibson made six starts in June, including three complete games.

Johnny Keane

On July 6, Hemus was fired by the sixth-place Cardinals and replaced by Johnny Keane.  “It was a whole new world for the black players,” said Gibson on the removal of Hemus.  The Cardinals were 33-41 under Hemus but went 47-33 after Keane took over.  Gibson made 14 more starts in 1961 including complete games on July 18, August 6, August 31, September 12, and October 1.  The latter was a complete game shutout over the Phillies.

Gibson and Flood, along with teammate Bill White, started a movement to end segregation of black players in the clubhouse and hotel rooms and the Cardinals became the first team in baseball to end this practice of segregation in 1961.

Gibson’s 1962 season featured 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in late May.  Major League Baseball played two All-Star Games each season from 1959 to 1962, and Gibson was named to both All-Star teams in 1962.

Despite fracturing his ankle late in the season, Gibson still made 30 starts, and led the NL in shutouts with five.  He pitched 15 complete games and ended 1962 with a record of 15-13 and an ERA of 2.85.  He also posted his first 200+ strikeout season.

A slow recovery from the fractured ankle led to only one win for Gibson in his first seven starts in 1963.  He won his next two and won four of five in June, with the other a no decision. By the end of July, he had a record of 12-5.  Gibson finished the season with a record of 18-9, but the Cardinals fell short of the NL pennant by six games with a record of 93-69 behind the 99-63 Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 1964 season was a race to the finish line against the Phillies for the NL crown.  A nine-game winning streak by the Cardinals and a 10-game losing streak by the Phillies led to St. Louis squeaking out first place on the final game of the season.  Gibson ended 1964 with a record of 19-12 with an ERA of 3.01.

The Cardinals faced the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series.  The Cardinals won Game 1, 9-5.  Gibson got the Game 2 start against Yankee pitcher Mel Stottlemyre.   His first World Series start ended in an 8-3 loss, with Gibson yielding four of the eight runs in his eight innings pitched.

Gibson redeemed himself in Game 5, which the Cardinals won 5-2 in 10 innings. Gibson pitched the entire game, holding the Yankees scoreless through eight.  He finally gave up two runs in the ninth to tie the game and send it into the 10th inning.  The Cardinals took the lead in the top of the 10th on a three-run home run by Tim McCarver and Gibson shut the Yankees down in the bottom of the 10th with only a single allowed.

Gibson returned to start Game 7 on two days of rest.  He gave up five runs in nine innings including two home runs in the ninth, but the Cardinals put seven runs on the board to win 7-5 and take the series.  Gibson retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly for the final out.

1964 Cardinals celebration

Gibson won two World Series games and set a new World Series record by striking out 31 Yankee hitters.  The 1964 World Series was the Cardinals seventh World Series title and first since 1946.

The first five years of Gibson’s major league career started with a troubled relationship with a racist manager but ended in a World Series Championship.  The next stage of Gibson’s career would be even better.


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