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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