Tag Archive | "Complete Games"

The Hall Of Very Good Adds Two Members

On Monday, July 29, The Hall of Very Good™ opened its proverbial doors to two new members…two-time National League MVP, Atlanta Braves legend Dale Murphy and former Pittburgh Pirates World Series hero Steve Blass.
DaleMurphy
“Thank you for the honor of being selected to The Hall of Very Good!” Murphy said.  “It’s great going into this the second class of inductees and also fun to go in with a great person like Steve Blass.”
“I am flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Dale Murphy.  I think he epitomizes everything a Major Leaguer should be,” Blass added.  “I’m very flattered to be involved with something that has Dale Murphy’s name on it.”
Murphy is considered one of the nicest, most even tempered men ever to play Major League baseball.
Armed with both size and speed, the right-handed slugger was a five-tool outfielder who has the distinction of being one of the most productive and decorated players of the 1980s, having led the Majors in both home runs and RBI during the decade.
“The way I remember it, Dale Murphy’s opposite-field power was a big part of his MVP seasons of 1982 and 1983, when he hit 36 home runs both years. This was back before nearly every hitter crowded the plate and had muscled up and could easily hit one out the other way,” ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blogger Dave Schoenfield said.  “Baseball in the ‘80s will be remembered in part for the drug scandals, but Murphy represents the best of the decade: A class act and a great player.”
At the time of his retirement, Murphy’s 398 home runs ranked 19th all-time.  His back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983 made him one of only four outfielders to win in consecutive years and, at the time, the youngest.
Blass is one of the great mysteries in the history of Major League Baseball.
After his first eight seasons in the bigs, the right-hander put up an impressive 100-67 record with a 3.24 ERA and an amazing 56 complete games.  During the 1971 World Series, he made history with a spectacular Game Seven performance.  Now the Pittsburgh Pirates undisputed ace, he finished second to Steve Carlton for the 1972 Cy Young Award.  By the time 1973 rolled around, Blass had, plain and simple, lost the ability to throw strikes.  He was out of the league a year later.
“It may be said that (Steve Blass) was like the girl with the curl: when he was good, he was very, very good, and when he was bad he was horrid,” John Thorn, Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball said.  “But Blass was a national hero for a moment, and how many ballplayers can say that?”
Today, he is an inspiration to many, has garnered the respect of many of his former peers on the diamond and one of the game’s best color commentators.
Murphy and Blass join the inaugural member of The Hall of Very Good™, 2012 inductee, former pitcher Tommy John.
“Murphy should be in Cooperstown,” John said.  “Blass was a very good pitcher.”
********************
You can read more about the induction of Dale Murphy and Steve Blass into The Hall of Very Good™ by visiting http://hallofverygood.com or by following The Hall on Facebook (http://facebook.com/hallofverygood) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/hovg).
ABOUT DALE MURPHY
PLAYING CAREER:  Atlanta Braves (1976–1990), Philadelphia Phillies (1990–1992) and Colorado Rockies (1993).
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .265 with 2111 hits, 398 home runs and 1266 RBI.  Back-to-back National League MVP in 1982 and 1983.  Hit 20-plus home runs 12 times, 30-plus six times and 40 or more…once.  Knocked in 100 runs five times and scored 100 runs four times.  From 1982 to 1985…hit .293, averaging 36 home runs and 110 RBI.  Shares Major League record for most seasons leading the league in games played by an outfielder with six.  Five-time Gold Glove Award winner (1982-1986) and seven-time All-Star (1980 and 1982-1987).  Had his number retired by the Atlanta Braves in 1994. 
ABOUT STEVE BLASS
PLAYING CAREER:  Pittsburgh Pirates (1964, 1966-1974).
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career win-loss record of 103-76 with 57 complete games, an ERA of 3.63 and 896 strikeouts.  Went 18-6 in 1968 with a 2.12 ERA with seven shutouts.  In 1969, won 16 with a career-high 147 strikeouts.  From 1969 to 1972, he won 60 games.  Notched a career-high 19 victories in 1972 and finished second in Cy Young Award voting.  1971 World Series Champion.  Member of 1972 National League All-Star team.

Posted in Classic, Featured, MLBComments (0)

King Felix Is Not Adam Wainwright

The Seattle Mariners extended Felix Hernandez‘s contract on Thursday and many St. Louis Cardinal fans reacted quickly, feeling Adam Wainwright‘s price tag just went up.  The problem with that thought is simple, Hernandez is no Wainwright, he’s much, much better.

Cardinals Spring Baseball

Hernandez agreed to a deal that will keep him in Seattle for a reported financial windfall to the tune of seven years and $175 million.

That is not to say that Adam Wainwright is not a very good pitcher, we all know that he is.  It is not to say that Adam Wainwright will not be a very wealthy man when his contract is resolved, he most likely will.  But to say that Wainwright’s price will be based off of Hernandez’s price is a bit absurd.

Both of them debuted in the same year for the team they still play for, the Mariners and Cardinals respectively, and both were due to hit free agency at the same time, after the 2013 season.  That is where the comparisons end, however.

We can start with the obvious point of age.  Hernandez (26) is five years a junior to Wainwright (31).  If you are giving a seven year deal to a pitcher, you would do so to a pitcher Hernandez’s age, not Wanwright’s.  Beyond that, Hernandez has not spent any significant time on the disabled list, has substantially better career numbers, and has earned many more accolades than his St. Louis counterpart.

Tale Of The Tape
Wainwright Hernandez
80 Wins 98
1 20 Win Seasons 0
3.15 ERA 3.22
908 Strikeouts 1487
1073 Innings Pitched 1620.1
214 Games 238
11 Complete Games 23
4 Shutouts 9
1 All Star Selections 3
0 Cy Youngs 1
1 Arm Surgeries 0
1 Missed Seasons 0

That graph shows two very good pitchers.  It also shows one with an injury history, that is older, and is not quite on the same level.

Hernandez translated his career into a $25 million a year payout.  Wainwright will probably look to translate his into $20 million a year for a much shorter period of time.

Calm down, Cardinal Fans, the price of King Felix had little to no impact on the cost of Adam Wainwright.  That price was set before and I highly doubt it moved at all with this news.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Odds and ends from 1985

If you enjoyed last week’s article then you should really enjoy this one. While explaining my hatred was an exercise in fun, I thought it this week I would look back statistically at the greatest season in the history of baseball, 1985. If Cardinals fans were upset by last week’s playful banter, I can only imagine how they’ll feel about reliving their most painful loss. We’ll start with some fun facts about the Kansas City Royals, move on to the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, and finish with my favorite stats from the 1985 World Series.

  • On this date in history, after an 8-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners, the Royals were 4.5 games out of first at 33-33. Things got much worse before they got better and bottomed out at 7.5 games back on July 21st. From that point forward they finished 45-27 to win the division by one game.
  • That team had only three players with an OPS+ better than 100—George Brett (179), Hal McRae (118) and Steve Balboni (112) and Brett was the only player with more than 100 runs or RBI.
  • In case you ever wondered how Buddy Biancalana became so popular, Onix Concepcion may go down as the worst player ever to start a majority of the season for a World Series team. Conception hit just .204 with 8 extra base hits and an incredible 39 OPS+. He also committed at 21 errors at short in just 128 games.
  • Charlie Leibrandt won 17 games and led the team with a 2.69 ERA while only striking out 4.1 batters per 9 innings. Perhaps more impressively, he threw 8 complete games including three shutouts. That was good enough for 5th in the Cy Young voting, behind two of his own teammates. Of course, Brett Saberhagen won the award, and Dan Quisenberry finished 4th.
  • Coming into 1985 the Royals’ starting five had combined to win just 81 games in their career. They won 75 games in 1985 and by the end of their collective careers, they’d won 672.
  • The Cardinals won their division more convincingly, but had their own struggles early. After a 13-2 loss in front of 4,817 fans in Pittsburgh, the Cards trailed by six games in their division. They finished 71-35 and led their division by three games or more for most of September.
  • The Cardinals line up featured five switch hitters, and even less power than the Royals. Jack Clark led the team with 22 home runs, and no one else hit more than 13.
  • By OPS+ standards, Clark was the best Cardinals hitter, but only by the slimmest of margins over speedster Willie McGee. McGee won the MVP with his .353 average, but judging by WAR it may have been one of the worst decisions in MVP history. Here’s a look at the top 5 MVP vote getters along with their WAR:
    Willie McGee- 7.9
    Dave Parker- 4.4
    Pedro Guerrero- 3.0
    Dwight Gooden- 13.0
    Tom Herr- 5.3
  • John Tudor had one of the best seasons ever for a pitcher that didn’t garner even one first place vote in the CY Young race. 21-8, 1.93 with 169 Ks and just 49 BBs in 275 innings. He threw 14 complete games and 10 shutouts (2 of them lasting 10 innings, both in September). Maybe his arm fell off in Game 7.
  • Joaquin Andujar was even more overworked, leading the league with 1127 batters faced in 269 innings. He had an 11 inning outing! It’s no wonder he had an ERA of nearly 9 in the postseason.
  • Todd Worrell appeared in only 17 games in the regular season but 7 of the 13 in the postseason.
  • There were only four home runs hit in the entire World Series, two from each team. The Cardinals home runs came from Tito Landrum and Willie McGee. They combined to hit 92 home runs in nearly 9300 at bats.
  • It’s been well chronicled that the Cardinals hit .185 for the entire seven game series, but even worse was their slugging % of .269. That is historically awful. Ozzie Smith led the way with two singles in 23 at bats. The amazing part? He didn’t strike out once! The Cardinals leading RBI man Tom Herr hit .154 with exactly zero RBI.
  • Steve Balboni, after hitting .243 with 36 home runs in the regular season, hit .320 with 8 singles and zero extra base hits.
  • The Cardinals stole 314 bases in the regular season, or nearly two per game. They stole two in the entire seven game series and were thrown out three times.
  • Brett Saberhagen threw two complete games and allowed one run and one walk while striking out ten. He was one of only seven Royals pitchers to pitch in the Series; their five starters, Quiz and Joe Beckwith. Only Bud Black had an ERA above 2.76 in the Series.

That’s it for now, although if the Royals pitching continues its current trend I may not have much more to be optimistic about in a couple of weeks.

Posted in Cardinals, RoyalsComments (0)

Royals sign first-round pick Kyle Zimmer

ROYALS SIGN FIRST-ROUND PICK KYLE ZIMMER

Kansas City, MO (June 7, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals today announced the club has signed first-round draft choice Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.  Consistent with team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 20-year-old Zimmer, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed starter, went 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 13 starts, including three complete games, for the Dons in 2012.  In 88.1 innings, he allowed 76 hits, 28 earned runs and 17 walks, while striking out 104.  Zimmer led the West Coast Conference in shutouts (2), strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (10.6).  Baseball America rated Zimmer as having the best fastball among all collegiate prospects and his curveball as the third-best in the collegiate ranks.  He was named a preseason second-team All-American by Baseball America entering 2012 and to the 2012 Midseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List last month.  Zimmer was also a member of the 2012 WCC All-Academic team, posting a 3.72 GPA.

Born in San Francisco, Calif., he attended La Jolla (Calif.) High School in the San Diego area where he played four years of baseball, mostly as a third baseman, while also competing in water polo and basketball.  Serving mostly as a position player, he pitched a total of 21.1 innings during his high school career.  Zimmer converted to pitcher his freshman season at USF, but only made five appearances that year.  He then posted a 6-5 record with a 3.73 ERA last season, including outdueling 2011 first-overall selection Gerrit Cole and the UCLA Bruins, 3-0, in a four-hit complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts in a NCAA regional game on June 3, 2011.

Zimmer is the 23rd pitcher to be selected by the Royals in the first round and the first since 2011 All-Star Aaron Crow in 2009.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Baseball Digest Report Card: Royals

The parent site of i70baseball, Baseball Digest, has recently been running their end of the year Report Cards for each franchise. The following is the post written by Todd Fertig for the site about the Kansas City Royals.

The revolving door has spun crazily in Kansas City the last several years, but the turnover may finally have come to a halt. The decade-long “youth movement” may finally have produced some youth worth keeping. The Royals minor league system earned a number one ranking last winter, and though the big league team lost 91 games, one by one top prospects matriculated to KC. By the end of the season the team’s entire starting lineup was 27 years old or younger, and only dreadful pitching kept the youngsters from contending in the AL Central.

Rotation: F
Hopes for the Royals’ pitching staff were especially low entering 2011, so you would think it would be hard for the starters to disappoint. But the Royals’ youthful offense and fielding were unexpectedly strong, making the weakness of the rotation all the more glaring.

Kansas City finished 27th in the league in quality starts, as well as team ERA, and 26th in opponents’ slugging and OPS. Royal starters managed a mere two complete games, and just six shutouts. To comprehend just how directionless was the staff, consider that for an extended period KC utilized a six-man rotation, prolonging the Kyle Davies train wreck. He finished 1-9 with a 6.75 ERA before he was mercifully released.

It’s hard to believe the team’s best starter was nearly left off the roster prior to the season. But after searching high and low for anyone else, the Royals kept Bruce Chen, who wound up the team’s only starter with a winning record. Chen led the team in wins (12) and ERA (3.77).

Danny Duffy gained experience, but that’s about all you can say. Jeff Francis was a stop-gap at best. But Luke Hochevar may have turned a corner – he went 6-3 after the All-Star break, and finished with a 1.283 WHIP. Felipe Paulino was a revelation, posting 8.6 SO/9 and a 1.372 WHIP.

Bullpen: D
Though the bevy of young arms in the pen gained a measure of acclaim, this group was not really all that effective as a whole in 2011. Closer Joakim Soria’s troubles were well documented. Soria blew several saves when the Royals still had hopes of contending, and the psychological effect of those collapses on the rest of the club cannot be overestimated. Soria had never posted an ERA above 2.48. This year it was 4.03.

Setup man Aaron Crow started with the sizzle the Royals hoped for from a first-rounder. But after being named to the 2011 All-Star Game, he let teams hit .313 and score 4.34 earned runs after the break. The cast of Tim Collins, Louis Coleman, Blake Wood, Nate Adcock and Greg Holland was at times serviceable, while at other times atrocious.

BD Report Cards brought to you by Seamheads

Catchers: C-
The Royals foolishly hoped Jason Kendall had something left in the tank. The 37-year-old never made it off the DL. Matt Treanor filled in admirably, but there was never a hope he would hit. Bryan Pena disappointed at the plate as well, and the Royals finally turned to 21-year-old phenom Salvador Perez in September. His lock on the position is now rock-solid.

Infield: B
Seemingly every month, an infield position was handed over to one of the Royals’ coveted prospects. Alcides Escobar assumed the shortstop duties on opening day. In May, first baseman Eric Hosmer made his feverishly-anticipated debut. June saw Mike Moustakas move in at third base. The transition was complete in August when Johnny Giavotella took over at second.

Giavotella and Moustakas had mixed results. Moustakas struggled mightily for much of the season. But he broke loose with 12 doubles, four homers and 19 RBI in his last 36 games. During that span, only one player bested his .379 average.

Hosmer asserted himself as the team leader and will only get better. The 21-year-old made a push for Rookie of the Year with 19 homers and 78 RBI in just 128 games. Escobar, meanwhile, looks to be the long-term answer at short.

Billy Butler is a capable fill-in at first, and is arguably one of the best designated hitters in the league. He hit .291 and found his power stroke in the second half to finish with 19 homers and 44 doubles.

Outfield: A
A very convincing argument could be made that Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur made up THE BEST outfield in all of baseball in 2011. Defensively, they blew the curve with 49 assists. Gordon earned a Gold Glove in left, and Francoeur got snubbed in right in favor of Nick Markakis.

The trio was also a doubles machine. They combined for 136 doubles, each finishing in the top 8 of the league. As a group they also belted 61 homers.

At the plate, Gordon had one of the best seasons by a Royals outfielder in history. He was one of just five players in all of baseball to hit better than .300 with 20+ homers and 45+ doubles.

Top Offensive Player
Gordon’s 5.9 WAR was KC’s highest since 2003. In just his second year in left field, he became one of the best.

Top Pitcher
Chen missed more than a month, or his numbers might have been even more impressive. Even so, he continues to pitch like an adult, as opposed to Davies, Hochevar, Duffy, etc. Few in baseball get more from their physical ability than Chen.

Todd Fertig
I-70 Baseball

Posted in RoyalsComments (1)

Albert And Carp

When a fan asks a question and we can find time to provide a in depth answer, we jump at the chance here on i70. Such an instance jumped out at me while on Twitter.

Carp and Pujols

Shortly after the game ended Saturday night and the Cardinals had put the finishing touches on a two to one victory over the Florida Marlins, a tweet came across my screen that caught my eye.

I'd like to know how many times Albert has hit a home run and Carp has gotten a win in the same game over the years. Its a lot. #stlcards
@FishSTL
Michael Fisher

Michael, I am glad you asked. It is a valid question and caused a little digging into some stats.

The two superstars of the St. Louis Cardinals have played together in St. Louis since 2004. There have been injuries over that time but when you put two players of their caliber together, you expect some results. Those results are not disappointing.

Chris Carpenter has pitched in 184 Games for the St. Louis Cardinals and according to Baseball-Reference, posts an impressive record. The Cardinals veteran ace has won 91 games as a Cardinal while losing only 41. A 3.09 career earned run average since joining the team, 19 complete games, 8 shutouts, and 276 walks to 1003 strikeouts makes him one of the most dominant pitchers in recent memory for the Cardinals. As dominant as he can be, does it mean that a player like Albert Pujols performs at a higher level for him? Maybe not, but the team certainly benefits when the two are on the same page.

The simple answer here is 47. That would be the number of regular season games that Chris Carpenter has pitched in since joining the Cardinals that Albert Pujols has also hit a home run in. Slightly more than 25% of the time when Carpenter takes the mound, Pujols will leave the yard in the same game. What may be most impressive is a deeper look into the stats.

Albert seems to be on his “A Game” during these 47 games, for sure. Over the course of regular season games that Carpenter pitches and Albert homers, Pujols is hitting .460 with 54 home runs, 86 runs batted in, and 76 runs scored. Carpenter is no slouch, when the Cardinals first baseman puts one over the fences, Carpenter posts a 3.34 earned run average with 260 strikeouts, 31 wins and 5 losses.

The Cardinals as a whole enjoy it when Carpenter is pitching and Albert goes deep, they have won 39 games and only lost 8 when this occurs.

The post-season has only seen this occur twice, though one of them was memorable. Both times that Carpenter has pitched on a day when Albert homered in the post-season, the Cardinals would win. Carpenter would receive the win in the contest with the Padres on October 3, 2006. Perhaps the most memorable post-season game for this to occur would put a win in the Cardinals hands, if not their starting pitcher’s. That game happened on October 17, 2005 when Albert ruined Brad Lidge‘s night in Houston and quieted the home town crowd who thought they were witnessing their team reaching the World Series, just to see that postponed due to a long home run from the Cardinals’ Most Valuable Player.

There were a few notable games that popped up while digging through box scores for the information on the two superstars.

- April 9, 2004 - Carpenter would go six innings, giving up five runs, walking one and striking out three. Albert would hit a solo home run but go on to score three times on one hit and two walks. When the dust settled, the Cardinals would beat the Diamondbacks 13-6 and Chris Carpenter would gain his first victory while wearing the birds on the bat.
- June 14, 2005 - Pujols would hit a two run home run in the contest against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Carpenter would show his old team just how dominant he could be as he posted his first double-digit strikeout total in a game where Pujols would homer, striking out 10 Blue Jays. He would also grab his first shutout and throw his first complete game in such a game.
- June 25, 2005 - It would not take long for Carpenter to repeat that feat and do it one better as the Cardinals played the Pirates in front of the sea of red in Busch Stadium. Carpenter would once again throw a shutout, going the distance and striking out eleven while Pujols would hit a three run shot in the seventh inning of that contest, his 20th of the season.
- September 8, 2005 - The two superstars were well on their way to winning a Cy Young Award and a Most Valuable Player Award in the 2005 season when September rolled around. This time, the Busch fans would witness the first multi-home run game for Albert while Carpenter was on the mound. In addition to seeing Albert leave the yard twice, the fans would also see Carpenter throw seven shut out innings, striking out seven Mets, and winning his 21st game of the year.
- June 4, 2009 - Our final game to point out was one that seen Carpenter go toe-to-toe with Reds hurler Aaron Harang in a pitcher’s duel that would see both starters go the distance for their teams. Carpenter would only surrender one run and Harang would only struggle with one hitter. Albert would hit a two run home run in the bottom of the third and add another run batted in on a double in the sixth giving the Cardinals the only three runs they would get that day. It was the only three runs Carpenter would need.

With two top quality players on the field for their eighth season together, it seems it would do the team a lot of good if they could match up on a few more games down the stretch of the 2011 season.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

The Rise Of Joaquin Andujar

A Struggling Astro

Joaquin Andujar made his major league debut on April 8, 1976. The 23 year old right hander made the club out of spring training, and was penciled in as a starter in a very young and intriguing rotation. In a few early season relief appearances, he would struggle with his control and the walks he issued would come back to haunt him. The wildness would continue through his first few starts, until being shut down with an injury before the first month of the season was over. Things were definitely not going to Andujar’s plan.

Joaquin Andujar

When he came back in June, a completely different and much more confident Joaquin Andujar took the mound. In his first start, he would throw a nifty 2 hit complete game against the Cincinnati Reds for his first major league win. As an encore, he would throw another 2 hitter in his next start against the Chicago Cubs, recording his first shutout. He would also throw another 2 hitter in September, this time against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His control was not much better, but he’d started finding ways to retire batters before they could hurt him.

After a rough 0-2 start to the season, with an ERA over 6, Andujar would go 9-8 with a respectable 3.20 ERA after his return, including 9 complete games and 4 shutouts. On any other team, this would would have been a sensational performance and Andujar would have been getting the lion’s share of praise for his efforts. But this was also the breakout season of J. R. Richard.

After spending several seasons bouncing between Houston, Oklahoma City (AAA) and Denver (AAA), the big, and I mean BIG right hander established himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League. At 6ft 8in, he was a towering sight on the mound, but it was the electric stuff that came out of his hand that made you stare open mouthed when you watched him pitch. He would soon break the National League record for strikeouts in a season, twice posting over 300 ks. Richard was the most exciting young arm to appear in the National League since Tom Seaver in 1967, and that played a huge part in Andujar’s early troubles. It was Richard and not Andujar that would become the ace of the Astros rotation, taking the reigns from Larry Dierker.

For a while, the Astros continued with the youth movement in the rotation. Floyd Bannister

JR Richard

and Mark Lemongello (one of the best baseball names ever) joined Richard and Andujar as the young guns in Houston. At the same time, veteran junk-baller Joe Niekro started turning back the hands of time, and kicked off a very promising second career. By 1978, he would take Andujar’s spot in the rotation, banishing the youngster to the bullpen – a veritable exile. But you could not argue with manager Bill Virdon’s success. Niekro would have back to back 20 win seasons and prove to be the perfect complement to J. R. Richards overpowering arsenal of pitches.

The anti-youth move would continue as veteran Ken Forsch, older brother of Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch, would work his way back into the rotation. Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton also joined the rotation, pitching like young men again. As the Astros record improved, Andujar fell deeper and deeper into Bill Virdon’s dog house, and his role diminished significantly – now a spot starter and mop-up arm in the bullpen.

It was the combination of consistency and pride that derailed Andujar in Houston. When he got into trouble, bad things would happen. Some times, his emotions would get the better of him, and he would start throwing at opposing batters. Other times, he would just throw instead of pitch, and that got him into worse trouble. Andujar was a proud and competitive athlete, if only a coach or a manager could find a way of focusing that on something positive.

June 7, 1981

Andujar as a Redbird

June 7, 1981 is the day that Joaquin Andujar’s career took a turn for thebetter – but we had to wait almost 60 days to find that 0ut. Five days later, before the new Cardinal could make his debut, a work stoppage caused Major League Baseball to suspend all games until August 10.

The Astros had come within a single game of going to the World Series in 1980, and were contending again in 1981. Their perennial Gold Glove winning center fielder, Cesar Cedeno, was beginning to show signs of wear and tear from playing so long on the hard artificial turf, so a move to first base would be able to keep his potent bat in the lineup. The Cardinals had somewhat of a surplus of outfielders, and a deal was struck, sending Tony Scott to Houston for Joaquin Andujar. This deal worked out well for both clubs, as Scott turned in a productive year and helped Astros reach the playoffs again.

As for Andujar, the 1981 Cardinals couldn’t have been a better spot for the temperamental hurler to land. There were no stars in the Cardinals rotation, except perhaps for local fan favorite, Bob Forsch. This was an opportunity for Andujar to start over again, and if he could duplicate some of his past success, he might finally become the ace of the staff.

When play resumed in August, Andujar made his Cardinals debut in a short relief appearance. It was rather underwhelming, but there was somewhat of a spring training atmosphere in the first week of the new season. When he finally made his first start, on August 14 in Montreal, he made quite an impression. It was a short outing, but he earned the win, and perhaps the respect of the players around him. He would win over the fans in the following two months, finishing with a 6-1 record as a Redbird, including winning his last 4 starts. Yes, the Cardinals had something special in Andujar, and maybe Whitey Herzog was just the manager to get the best out of him.

Pennant stretch

Andujar got off to a great start in the 1982 season, but thanks to a general lack of run support, his record didn’t reflect how well he actually pitched. Entering a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 12, he had a losing record of 8-10, but an era of 2.81. Those two numbers just didn’t go together, and Andujar was about to put the universe in balance. It is also important to note that the Cardinals were just a half game out of first place when Andujar threw his first pitch.

Andujar would throw a gem of a game. Jim Kaat and Bruce Sutter would close it out and make a hard luck loser our of Ross Baumgarten. In doing so, they would also take over sole possession of first place, a spot they would hold on to for all but two days of the remaining season. A big reason for the Cardinals success during August and September ? Joaquin Andujar would make 10 more starts for the Cardinals in 1982, and the Redbirds would win all but one of them. From half a game out on August 12, the Cardinals would go 10-1 in Andujar’s remaining starts and win the NL East by 3 games.

Joaquin was now the ace of the Cardinals pitching staff.

A Bad Break

Andujar would get one start against the Atlanta Braves in the 1982 NLCS. It went by so quickly, hardly anybody noticed. If they did, events in the World Series would make them forget all about his nifty win.

The quick dispatching of the Atlanta Braves set up a rather unusual pitching rotation for Whitey Herzog in the World Series. Andujar would not see action until Game Three. After splitting the first two games at home, Herzog gave Andujar the ball for the first game in Milwaukee, and he delivered. And then some. Andujar was on fire, retiring Brewers batters as soon as they stepped in the batters box. He had a 3 hit shutout working with one out in the seventh inning when tragedy struck. Former Cardinal, Ted Simmons, hit a line drive off Andujar’s leg that sent the big hurler to the ground in a ball. After several minutes, he was was carried off the field, and assumed to be done for the series. Jim Kaat, Doug Bair and Bruce Sutter scrambled to preserve the win, but the momentum in the series just turned in the direction of the Brewers.

The Brewers would take the two remaining home games, forcing the Cardinals to win both Games Six and Seven. John Stuper turned in a masterful performance on a cold and rainy night in Game Six, and the Cards routed the Brew Crew 13-1.

Much to everybody’s surprise, Joaquin Andujar took the mound for Game Seven. He didn’t look right from the first pitch. It looked like it hurt when he shifted his weight in his delivery and he threw wildly across his body. But he pitched like a champion and kept the Cardinals in the game until a late rally against a spent Brewers bullpen made a winner out of the Redbirds. And a legend out of Andujar.

A major milestone

1983 was not a good year for the Cardinals, and Andujar was not immune to the general funk in the clubhouse. Keith Hernandez was sent to New York in the dead of night, leaving many questions unanswered. We would learn much more in September of 1985, but for now, things were just unsettled. Throw in a big injury to Tommy Herr, and the Cardinals just had a bad season. Andujar would lose a career high 16 games, winning only 6. His ERA ballooned to over 4 runs per game, but there was nothing obviously wrong with him – just a funky year.

The wounds from 1983 would start healing for the Cardinals in 1984. Andujar would rebound quickly and turned in the best season of his career so far, winning a league leading 20 games, led the league in innings pitched (261 1/3). He would also throw 12 complete games, including a league leading 4 shutouts. There was suddenly reason to be optimistic about post-season baseball returning to the Gateway City, and the ace of the staff was big part of the turnaround. Throw in an interesting right handed pitching prospect by the name of Danny Cox, a young and talented outfielder named van Slyke, and the Cardinals might be one trade away from returning to the fall classic.

The most amazing thing about the Andujar story, we haven’t seen the best of him yet. To be continued ….

Posted in Cardinals, ClassicComments (1)

The Cardinals In Time: Turning Things Around

During the offseason we have been taking a look at the past, giving readers a timeline of St. Louis baseball throughout history. Last time we learned about Gussie Busch and the beginning of Bing Devine’s work with the Cardinal’s front office. Unfortunately the product on the field was not good at all, and the Cardinals were finding themselves at the bottom of the National League food chain. Things had to go up. Who would become the answer?

The Cardinals’ players just did not like Solly Hemus. Players knew he was not using his best lineup simply because he was not utilizing players like Curt Flood, Bill White, and Bob Gibson – all African American players – the way he should have. In 1960, he pushed All-Star and Gold Glove winning first baseman White out in the outfield, flipping him back and forth between leftfield, centerfield, and first base. Hemus also pushed Stan Musial around the diamond, never leaving him in one place for any length of time and seeing him find time in left, right, and first. Musial had his second “down” year in a row, hitting .275/.354/.486 and seeing the fewest number of at-bats in the season (378) than any other in his twenty-two year career. Of course, it is quite difficult to perform at the top of your game when you are constantly shifting your role and sliding up and down the lineup, but I digress…

Ken Boyer

Third baseman Ken Boyer won his third consecutive Gold Glove in 1960, and led the team in basically every major offensive category. On the pitching rubber Larry Jackson had arguably his best season wearing the birds on the bat, going 18-13 and leading the team with fourteen complete games on the year. Ernie Broglio rounded out a 21-9 record and 2.74 ERA by pitching twenty-eight games in relief to go with twenty-four starts. All of that combined to bring the Cardinals back up to a respectable 86-68 record, good enough for third place in the National League behind the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates, led by Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, and Dick Groat.

Things changed in 1961. Despite the assumption that Hemus was a “player’s manager,” the fact that he and Stan the Man obviously did not see eye to eye (not to mention any of the African American players) did not go unnoticed by the front office. Bing Devine had to make a change, and by the time he went to Gussie Busch and requested that the change be made Gussie was irritated by the Cardinals’ then 33-41 record. He told Bing that whatever he wanted to do was fine, so Bing made the switch, firing Hemus and bringing in coach Johnny Keane. Keane had been a minor league manager for the Cardinals’ farm system for many years and had worked his way up to an assistant coach for the big league squad when he took over the reins.

Keane knew what it would take to turn around several of the players on the team. He went to Stan Musial and told him that he was still a valued and productive member of the team. The 40-year-old Musial stepped it up and had something of a return to form. Keane went to Curt Flood and installed him as the permanent centerfielder, went to Bill White and made him the full-time first baseman, and went to Bob Gibson and changed his career.

Johnny Keane

Up until 1961 Bob Gibson had been on the outside looking in on the Cardinals’ pitching staff. He pitched, sure, but not particularly well, and was largely unknown by most. He had been bounced in and out of the rotation and bullpen, and was 2-6 on the season before Johnny Keane came in. The new manager was swift in righting Gibson’s career, handing him the ball for the first game in his control and informing the big pitcher that he trusted him to take care of business. That night Gibson threw a complete game and won 9-1 on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rest of the way he went 11-6 under Keane and finished with a respectable 13-12 record and 3.24 ERA. The Cardinals all dusted themselves off after a rough first half and went 47-33 with their new skipper. They wound up 80-74, good enough for only fifth place in the National League.

By now Gussie had owned the team for nearly a decade and had never even come within smelling distance of a pennant, much less a World Series win. He was impatient, and when Mr. Busch was impatient he was apt to fly by the seat of his pants. 1962 did nothing to improve his mood. The team finished 84-78. This record was only good enough for sixth place in the newly expanded ten team National League. Gibson and Jackson led the pitching staff, but the real story in 1962 was the resurgence of Stan Musial. “The Man” played in 135 games (the most for him since 1958) and hit a much more Musial-like .330/.416/.508.

Gussie’s impatience led to a big change after 1962. At the suggestion of one of his friends he decided Bing Devine was not getting the job done, so he brought in an old friend to be a “senior consultant” for the team. Who was that man? Why, none other than Branch Rickey. Suddenly Devine found himself having to get approval from a man who had left the team in the dust over 15 years prior. If he wanted to make a move, he had to go to Rickey, and if Rickey approved he would go to Busch and inform him what was going to happen under “his acceptance.”

Devine and Rickey, while having a mutual respect for each other, did not necessarily see eye to eye, and had to find creative ways to work around the other. The first real road block came before the 1963 season, when Devine wanted to make a trade with Pittsburgh, swapping shortstop Julio Gotay and pitcher Don Cardwell for Diomenes Olivo and Dick Groat. Rickey did not like the deal, stating that when he made deals, he got the younger players, not the older ones. Gotay was “up and coming” in his mind, while the 31-year-old Groat’s best years could be behind him.

Eventually Devine rounded up a crew of “baseball minds” and went to Rickey again to convince him to make the trade. When Rickey realized he was outnumbered and surrounded by a team that was firmly convinced that he should go through with the trade, he acquiesced. Groat became a Cardinal, and the team was starting to take shape. The infield especially was a fearsome thing to look at for an opposing batter. The entire starting infield of Ken Boyer (1B), Dick Groat (SS), Julian Javier (2B), and Bill White (1B) started in the 1963 All-Star game, the first time this had ever happened in the history of the game.

Tim McCarver

Another new face on the field in 1963 was 21-year-old Tim McCarver. McCarver was a hotshot rookie who had offers from sixteen different teams before finally taking the Cardinals’ $75,000 offer to sign at age seventeen. Behind the plate he was the captain of the team, even at such a young age. He called the game like a seasoned veteran, and had enough spitfire in him to set the clubhouse ablaze. Having him there working with Gibson, Broglio and Curt Simmons pushed the team to the brink of the pennant. A late push probably saved Bing Devine’s job from the ever increasingly antsy Gussie Busch, but when Gibson broke his leg taking batting practice in mid-September, it became too much. They finished 93-69, six games back of the Dodgers.

To begin explaining what happened in 1964, I turned to i70 Baseball’s historian Bob Netherton for help. He made my job easy by dropping some tidbits about this very team in a recent post on his own site. Here is what he said:

Of all the come-from-behind teams, the 1964 Cardinals may have been the best. Not only did they win many of their games in the late innings, it was an unbelievable surge in August and September that propelled them to the World Series. This was not the first time they had rallied late in the season either. Johnny Keane’s Cardinals almost pulled off a similar upset in 1963, falling just a few games short of the Dodgers in the end. If Branch Rickey had not played the role of puppet master in the summer of 1964, there might be more pennants blowing in the wind in St. Louis. ’64 was no fluke, and Johnny Keane is a very underrated (and unappreciated) manager.

The key to the ’64 Cardinals success? Mischief at the top of the batting order and then the big names coming up big. Curt Flood and newcomer Lou Brock terrorized National League pitchers with their hitting and base running. It would not be the only time they did this, but in 1964, the middle of the order was brutally consistent in the second half of the season. Ken Boyer and Bill White challenged each other down the stretch, with Boyer winning the NL MVP in the end. The few runners that this duo left on base were quickly driven in by Dick Groat, Tim McCarver or a new local kid named Shannon. There were some great role players on the team as well. Dal Maxvill, Carl Warwick and Bob Skinner all made big contributions, especially in the World Series, but it was the everyday players that brought the pennant to St. Louis in 1964.

Lou Brock

How about that newcomer in Brock? Devine knew around the trading deadline that something needed to happen – that spark to push the team over the top. He called Chicago. Yes, the Cubs. He had spoken with Cubs’ GM John Holland in the offseason about a kid named Lou Brock. The kid looked like he had talent, but had no clue what to do with it. The two sides agreed – Brock for Ernie Broglio.

The rest of the Cardinals were actually perplexed by the trade. Broglio had been an eighteen game winner in 1963 and Brock was a green knucklehead that tried to pull every ball out of the ballpark and ran the bases like a gazelle. It made no sense. There was no way for them to see what Brock would become. However, under Keane and the rest of the Cardinals’ management, their little speed demon would hit .348 the rest of the year and swipe thirty-three bases.

Gussie Busch was not satisfied with what Devine had been doing. Despite all his friends begging him not to do so (even Branch Rickey – who had realized that Devine actually knew what he was doing), Busch fired his GM and brought in Bob Howsam from Denver. Johnny Keane almost got the ax as well, but Busch had to back down. The season rode out dramatically, as the Phillies had to have one of the most grand collapses in the history of the game in order for the Cardinals to catch up, pass, and then capture the pennant away from them.

The World Series almost felt like an afterthought after the race to the finish of the regular season.

Almost.

The mighty New York Yankees were once again the foes awaiting the Cardinals in the World Series. By now the two teams had faced each other five times in the Fall Classic, but the last time had been 1943, and the Yanks had run away with that one 4-1. By the ninth inning of the third game, the score was 1-1, both in games won and in runs on the scoreboard. Barney Schultz, the knuckleballer that Bing Devine had brought in midway through the year, came in to hold down the score for the Cardinals. The first man he faced was the fearsome Mickey Mantle. Schultz threw his bread and butter knuckler to Mantle, but the pitch did not knuckle, and Mickey had a nice meatball to smash into the third deck of Yankee Stadium, giving the Yankees the win and the Series lead, both by a score of 2-1.

It felt back and forth the whole Series. In the fourth game the Yankees jumped out to a three run lead, but a grand slam blast by Ken Boyer in the sixth inning was all the firepower needed, and reliever Roger Craig helped finish out the win for the Cards. The score was tied again in game five and it led to extra innings. Bob Gibson pitched his heart out and ended up winning in ten innings thanks to a three run blast from battery mate Tim McCarver in the top of the inning. The tide had shifted and now the Cardinals were up 3-2.

The Yankees were not going away quietly, and tied the Series at three apiece with the deciding game seven left. Yanks manager Yogi Berra turned to Mel Stottlemyre, who lasted only three batters into the fifth before being pulled for a string of pitchers that paraded out from the Busch Stadium bullpen. Keane went with his ace, and Bob Gibson went out and pitched a complete game victory. The team staked their big right hander out to a 6-0 lead before Gibby gave up a three run home run to Mantle, but it was too little, too late. The Cardinals eventually won the game 7-5 and the Series 4-3.

Gussie Busch had his World Series ring, and the Cardinals were back on top, thanks to the strong arms of Gibson, Simmons and Ray Sadecki, the fleet feet of Brock, and the mighty bats of Boyer, White, and Flood. It was good to be a Cardinal again.

Angela Weinhold covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com and writes at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. You may follow her on Twitter here or follow Cardinal Diamond Diaries here.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, Featured, The Cardinals In TimeComments (1)

Appier: A Forgotten Ace

Zack Greinke’s departure from Kansas City isn’t the first narrative in club history of a top flight starter demanding to be traded after multiple rebuilding failures. Over two decades ago the Royals had groomed one of their former first round draft picks to make a Major League impact similar to Greinke’s. Despite dominating the AL for nearly the entire decade of the 90s, Kevin Appier is almost always a name overlooked because of the quality of teams he played with.

The Royals drafted the righty out of Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, CA, during the 1987 MLB Draft. Appier progressed steadily through the lower of levels of the farm system during his first two years in professional baseball. It wasn’t until his 22 starts at AAA Omaha in 1989, anyone began to pay notice.

Appier threw three complete games and two shutouts, along with a 3.95 ERA and 7.1 SO/9. His performance was good enough to earn him five starts with Kansas City as the season come to a close. It also garnered him a spot on Baseball America’s first ever Top 100 Prospects list prior to the 1990 season.

The ‘Ape’ made good on his minor league success, as well as the projections of Baseball America in 1990. In his eight start of the season Appier gave up a first inning hit to Detroit Tiger Lou Whitaker. Whitaker’s would be the last Tiger his of the night as Appier cruised to his first career complete game and shutout, along with six strikeouts. Two starts later, Appier earned his second complete game and shutout against the Red Sox, striking out ten, with three hits.

In all but two of Appier’s starts in 1990, he made it past the sixth inning. In the two starts he didn’t reach the ninth he only allowed two runs. All told, Appier went 12-8 with a 2.76 ERA in his rookie campaign. He posted the lowest ERA for a rookie pitcher since 1976, when Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych took the league by storm with a 2.34 ERA.

Appier finished third in the 1990 Rookie of the Year voting, losing to divisional foe, Sandy Alomar. Alomar hit .290, 9 HR, and 66 RBI.

In his sophomore campaign, Appier suffered a bump in his win percentage and ERA, but bolstered his innings pitched and saw a rise in strikeouts. Appier broke the 200 inning mark for the first time in his young career, but would go on to throw from 200 or more innings seven more times in the next decade.

His slight regression in 1991 proved an aberration after two of the most dominant consecutive seasons in 1994-95. Over the next couple of years Appier went 33-16, 447 IP, 336 SO, 1.116 WHIP, and an ERA of 2.52. Appier’s achievements went unnoticed in 1992. In 1993, Appier finished third in the Cy Young vote and 24th in the MVP discussions, but could not garner the mainstream notoriety to earn him an award. Appier earned only 21% of the Cy Young vote behind Jack McDowell and Randy Johnson.

After the two best seasons of his career, the emphasis on the pitcher faded as juiced hitters swelled in the league causing vast rises in pitching statistics league wide.

In the strike shortened 1994, Appier went only 7-6, with 145 strikeout in 155 IP, and an ERA of 3.83 (League average ERA – 4.81). Appier was overshadowed again, this time by teammate David Cone who took the 1994 Cy Young Award home.

Appier, 27, was poised for domination as he hit his prime in 1995. A managerial switch allowed newly hired Bob Boone to deploy a four man rotation, which would enhance Appier’s numbers but also add one to his already large workload.

With the shortened rotation, Appier made 17 starts by the first week in July. Appier threw 96 or more pitches in every one of his first 17 starts, throwing more than 120 on eight occasions. At the All-Star Break Appier was 11-5, with 120 SO in 121.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, and .198 BAA. Appier was finally recognized, making his first All-Star appearance after a whirlwind first half.

Appier suffered a three game skid going into the playoffs, the wear beginning to show on his arm. Boone reverted back to the five man rotation after the All-Star Break, but the damage had already been done to Appier. Late in July Appier hit the DL for the first time in his career. After coming back from his DL stint, Appier went 4-5 in 14 starts, while his ERA ballooned to 5.18 and only struck out 65.

Appier shook off the side effects during the offseason and went on to produce to more consistent seasons in 1996-97. Appier logged 66 starts over the two seasons, 1.244 WHIP, 403 SO, 447 IP, and an ERA of 3.50.

In 1998, Appier started three games throwing 15 innings, allowing 13 runs. Appier’s herky jerky motion and heavy workload had finally caught up to him. He was diagnosed with a torn labrum and missed the rest of the 1998 season.

After his first major shoulder injury, Appier simply wasn’t the same. He served as a formdible middle of the rotation pitcher, but never returned to the electricity of the early to mid ‘90s. Appier started nine games for the Royals in 1999, but due to a questionable future for Appier, as well as a faltering big league squad, Appier was dealt to Oakland at the trading deadline.

In return the Royals received Jeff D’Amico, Brad Rigby, and Blake Stein. Appier pitched a mediocre season and a half in Oakland, while none of the return players made much of an impact in Kansas City. Appier went 22-16, 4.84 ERA, 264 IP, and 182 SO with the A’s.

In 2000, Appier was signed by the Mets where he had his most successful post surgery season. In New York, Appier posted a 3.57 ERA in 206.2 IP, 172 SO, while going 11-10. During the next offseason, Appier was dealt again, this time to Anaheim in exchange for Mo Vaughn.

In two seasons with Anaheim, Appier made 51 starts with an ERA of 4.48. Most importantly Appier made two World Series starts, earning for what he couldn’t get a chance at in Kansas City, a ring. The next season, Appier was released just prior to the trade deadline. Appier’s career came full circle when he signed a contract to bring him back to Kansas City.

Appier made six starts for the Royals, before he was released. Despite signing with Seattle in 2006, he had thrown his last MLB pitch as a Royal. Appier retired with only a single All-Star appearance and World Series ring to his name.

1990-1997 Top Pitcher defined by ERA+ (Minimum of 1,200 innings pitched)

1. Greg Maddux: 165 ERA+

2. Roger Clemens: 157 ERA+

3. Kevin Appier: 140 ERA+

4. David Cone: 136 ERA +

5. Randy Johnson: 135 ERA +

After being overlooked during the awards voting in 1992-93, Appier is the only pitcher on the list not to win a Cy Young Award.

Posted in Classic, RoyalsComments (0)

The Value Of Chris Carpenter

Last week, the Philadelphia Phillies shocked the baseball world by signing Cliff Lee. What made the signing so shocking was that it was thought to have become a two-team race for the southpaw. The New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers were in a bidding war. It was assumed that by the end of the week, Cliff Lee would be with one of those teams, and, more than likely, with the New York Yankees.

But Lee decided to sign with Philadelphia and join, arguably, one of the best rotations in MLB history. The signing of Lee had an impact on the Cardinals fortunes in 2011. The goal of winning the NL pennant and the World Series became a lot tougher. But the day after the signing a rumor began to swirl that could have even bigger ramifications for the 2011 Cardinals.

Though there was never any official statement purporting so, there was talk the New York Yankees might be willing to trade for Chris Carpenter. An arm like Carpenter might help ease the blow from missing out on Cliff Lee. He could, in theory, be a great compliment to Sabathia at the top of the Yankees rotation. In return, the Cardinals could possibly acquire some young talent that could help either the lineup or the rotation in years to come. And, most importantly, they could free up some cash for Albert.

There are, of course, an up side and a down side to a trade of this magnitude. Let’s start with the down side of moving Chris Carpenter out of St. Louis.

Anyone who is a Cardinals fan knows how much Chris Carpenter means to the team. He is the quintessential veteran “ace”. He is the foundation of the rotation. When Carpenter is at his best, the Cardinals are in the thick of the pennant race.

Since joining the Cardinals staff in 2003, Carpenter has posted a staggering record of 84 wins and 33 losses. This puts him in the top 3 of all time Cardinals Win-Loss percentages. In the seven years he has pitched for the Cardinals, he has posted an ERA of 2.98. He has pitched 17 complete games, including 8 shut outs.

In those seven years, Carpenter has been a Cy Young candidate three times. In 2006 he finished third in voting. In 2009 he finished second, right in front of St. Louis Cardinals co-ace Adam Wainright. His best finish, of course, was in 2005 when he finished first in Cy Young voting with a 21-5 record and a 2.83 ERA.

The value of Carpenter goes well beyond the numbers and awards, though. His leadership on the staff has been irreplaceable. He has acted as mentor for others on the pitching staff. And, as we saw last year, he has been a clubhouse leader when others have lacked focus.

The impact Carpenter has had on the team is undeniable. With him, the Cardinals have competed for and won division titles, NL pennants, and World Series. Without him, the Cardinals have floundered in mediocrity.

But, as 2010 showed, nothing lasts forever. The numbers put up by Carpenter last year were disappointing by his standards. In 2010, Carpenter posted a 16-9 record with a 3.22 ERA. That is certainly nothing to scoff at. But, more disturbingly, Carpenter gave up 21 home runs in 2010. That is in comparison to the 7 he gave up in ALL of 2009. Even more alarming is number the earned runs Carpenter gave up in 2010, 84. That’s 36 more than the 49 he gave up in 2009.

Again, these numbers are not horrible. But they are not the numbers we are use to Chris Carpenter, the super ace, posting. He is certainly capable of bouncing back. He has posted less than stellar numbers in the past, only to come back stronger the next year.

But, Carpenter has one thing going against him he did not have in the past; his age. During the 2011 season Carpenter will turn 36. He is getting close to that unfriendly age of 40. Which doesn’t bode well because he also has had issues with durability in the past. He missed the end of the 2004 season with a nerve problem in his right biceps. More damaging was when he missed most, if not all, of the 2007 and 2008 seasons with elbow issues.

When considering trading Carpenter, perhaps the most tempting benefit is the amount of money the Cardinals could free up. In 2011 Carpenter is set to make $15 million. That is the kind of money that is desperately needed to help keep the Albert Pujols from leaving via free agency.

That being said, there are no guarantees the Cardinals will be able to resign Albert Pujols. And with that possibility, perhaps it is wiser to go “all in” with what you have now. The division rival, Milwaukee Brewers, have certainly done so.

The Brewers just shipped a handful of young and talented players to the Royals in order to obtain a proven ace in Zack Greinke. With that kind of arm in the division the Cardinals are going to need all the help they can get in their starting rotation. And unless the Cardinals fall out of the race early, I suspect Chris Carpenter will remain a Cardinal.

Hopefully, helping push the Cardinals to the post season once again.

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (2)

Buy OOTP Baseball 14 PC & Mac