photo: 2004 National League champions (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The lockout continues with a looming “deadline” imposed by MLB. Plans for the Rule 5 draft have been clarified. Our history feature highlights the second-winningest Cardinals team of all-time, the 2004 National League Champions.
MLB lockout updates
The week began with the lockout negotiations moved to the St. Louis Cardinals spring training complex in Jupiter, Florida. The sides met every day, sometimes in multiple sessions.
Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the union an arbitrary deadline of February 28 to reach an agreement or he will cancel regular season games. This past week, each day from Monday through Thursday, the union team was composed of chief negotiator Bruce Meyer and a varying team of players that included Max Scherzer and Paul Goldschmidt. The player composition changed as the week went on.
Little progress was made for the first four days of the talks. The league made a second request for a federal mediator, which the union rejected. By Thursday a league source reported to the media that MLB had run out of ideas, after presenting not many ideas and labeling some key issues such as arbitration eligibility and revenue sharing as nonstarters.
A little more progress was made on Friday on a draft lottery but perhaps on no other issues. Manfred arrived at the talks but did not participate in the negotiations. He met one on one with union president Tony Clark.
On Saturday the union presented a comprehensive proposal on all issues as requested by the league side. The proposal included a big give by the union on arbitration, lowering their demand from 75% of players eligible to 35%.
The league’s response was to reject the union’s proposal while making only small concessions on non-key issues and tying any deal to an agreement by the union to a 14-team expanded postseason. The union has only proposed a 12- team expanded postseason. The talks were reported to be extremely hostile with the players discussing whether to even return on Sunday.
The talks did resume on Sunday with reduced numbers on both sides. Only three players participated, and reportedly no owners. The league was represented primarily by lead negotiator Dan Halem.
The talks extended into the early evening and came to a close at approximately 6:30 pm CT. MLB sources reported to the media that the negotiations were “productive” without any further detail provided. There were no new formal proposals from either side. Talks are scheduled to resume on Monday, the deadline outlined by the league before cancellation of games. The talks are scheduled to begin at 9:00 am CT rather than the usual 12 pm CT.
The big economic issues largely remain unresolved. The only issues for which progress appears to have been made are a draft lottery, some incentives against service time manipulation, and minor tweaks to the minimum salary. The movement on the CBT has been incremental at best on the thresholds with the league holding fast to higher tax penalties than the ones that existed under the now expired CBA. This and arbitration eligibility are major economic issues on which both sides are far apart.
During the week it was announced that spring training games in both Arizona and Florida are cancelled through March 7. Ahead, almost surely more contests will be sacked.
For further updates check back to this report every Monday.
Rule 5 Plans Clarified
Due to the lockout, only the minor league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft was held on schedule in December. The major league phase was postponed.
According to a new report from Baseball America, MLB plans to hold the annual event one week after the new CBA is in place. In the meantime, some clubs are banning opposing scouts from their minor league spring camps because they don’t want their players scouted prior to the draft.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
There are no transactions to report.
There are no new injuries to report.
On December 1, the MLB/MLBPA Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. No new agreement was reached and the Commissioner’s Office announced that the owners of all 30 teams voted unanimously to institute a lockout of MLB players effective immediately.
As a result of the lockout, all major league transactions are halted indefinitely. Players and team personnel are prohibited from communicating with each other and players are not permitted to use team facilities. The parties may continue to negotiate to reach an agreement that would end the lockout.
The deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures was originally on January 14. This deadline has been extended to a date after the lockout ends.
There will be no major league activity to report for the foreseeable future as long as the lockout continues.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast continues the series within a series on the best Cardinals teams of all time. The 1942 season, with its 106 wins was the best and as such was the focus of last week’s segment. This week we look at the team coming in second with a record of 105-57, the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals.
The 2004 club was the 123rd team in franchise history. They were managed by Tony La Russa under general manager Walt Jocketty. Home games were played in Busch Stadium II.
The principal position players in 2004 were Mike Matheny, Albert Pujols, Tony Womack, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, Ray Lankford, Jim Edmonds, and Reggie Sanders. In his rookie season, Yadier Molina was the backup catcher to Matheny. Future Hall of Famer Larry Walker became a member of the team after he was traded to the Cardinals on August 6.
The starting rotation consisted of Matt Morris, Jason Marquis, Woody Williams, Jeff Suppan, and Chris Carpenter.
The Cardinals spent 122 days in first place in the NL Central. Their next closest opponent in the division was the Houston Astros, which finished in second place, 13 games back. The Cardinals’ biggest was 17.5 games. The team never fell behind .500 after May 11 and were 4.5 games out of first place on that date. That was the farthest the team was behind for the entire season.
The most runs scored in a game by the 2004 Cardinals was 13. They did it three times: a 13-6 win over the Diamondbacks on April 9, a 13-5 win over the Rockies on April 16, and a 13-2 win over the Texas Rangers on June 13.
The most runs allowed by the Cardinals was 12 in a 12-3 loss to the Cubs on June 10.
The Cardinals’ longest winning streak was nine games, from August 27 to September 5. Their longest losing streak was four games from September 27 to 30. The team clinched the NL Central title on September 18 in a 7-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cardinals met the Dodgers in the NLDS starting on October 1. St. Louis won the first two games at Busch Stadium, both by the score of 8-3. The series moved to Los Angeles for Game 3, which the Dodgers won 4-0. Game 4 in Los Angeles was 6-2 game win and series win for the Cardinals, as they moved on to the NLCS on October 10.
The NLCS began on October 13 against the Astros. Houston had advanced to the postseason as the NL Wild Card team and defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS in three games. Game 1 was played at Busch Stadium and was a 10-7 win for the Cardinals. Game 2, also at Busch Stadium was a 6-4 win for the home squad.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 series lead to Houston’s Minute Maid Park. The Astros won Game 3 by the score of 5-2. The Cardinals also lost the next two games 6-5 and 3-0.
The series returned to St. Louis with the Cardinals behind 3-2. Game 6 was a 6-4 win for St. Louis and they took the series with a 5-2 win in Game 7.
The Cardinals opened the World Series on October 23 against the Boston Red Sox. Boston had advanced to the postseason as the AL Wild Card, beat the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS and the Yankees in the ALCS. This team had not won a World Series since 1918 and were on a mission to end the drought. The Red Sox accomplished their mission by sweeping the Cardinals in four games.
The closest game was Game 1 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox took a 4-0 lead in the first inning against St. Louis starter Woody Williams. The Cardinals cut the lead to 4-2 with runs in the second and third innings which included a home run by Larry Walker. Boston scored three in the bottom of the third but the Cardinals fought back with three in the fourth. St. Louis tied the game 7-7 in the sixth. Red Sox took a 9-7 lead in the seventh, the Cardinals tied it 9-9 in the top of the eighth. Boston scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth and took Game 1 by the score of 11-9.
Game 2 in Boston featured Matt Morris against Curt Schilling. Schilling held the Cardinals to only two runs and the Red Sox won 6-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Series moved to St. Louis for Game 3. The Cardinals again faced a top pitcher, Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez. Jeff Suppan started for the home team. Martinez yielded a home run to Larry Walker in the fourth inning, which was St. Louis’ only run. Suppan lasted only four innings and gave up all four of the Red Sox runs. Boston took a 3-0 series lead with a 4-1 victory.
The Cardinals were shut out 3-0 in Game 4, with Jason Marquis against Derek Lowe. Marquis gave up three runs in six innings. The Cardinals could get no traction against Lowe and three Red Sox relievers.
The World Series shutout defeat ended the Cardinals’ second best season of all time. Next week we will look at another team of the decade of World War II.
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