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.
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.
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.
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.
- 11/14 The Cardinals signed free agent C Tyler Heineman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
There are no new injuries to report.
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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