Nov 09

2013 St. Louis Cardinals in Review

As a long time Chicago White Sox fan I have always admired the St. Louis Cardinals organization and find myself constantly jealous of their fans. Only one team in the history of major league baseball has had more World Series appearances and wins, that being the Yankees.

Having said this I would like to share a great article from tom s. on the SB Nation on the fantastic 2013 season the Cardinals had.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Beautiful 2013 Season Comes to an End at Fenway

 

Jim Rogash

 

While you always hope to end each season with champagne, the Cardinals 2013 was a wild ride and (almost) everything we could have wanted.

 

The Cardinals gathered their equipment last night while the Red Sox sprayed each other with champagne, readying for a flight home that (one hopes) will go more smoothly, if less hopefully, than their last.

 

Even a few hours after a tough loss, it is hard to look back on the 2013 season as anything but a triumph for the Cardinals. After going soft in the middle of the summer, the Cardinals roared to the best record in the National League in September.

 

The most striking thing to me is the sustained success the Cardinals have had for three consecutive seasons. While it’s no New York Yankees 1996-2000, we won the World Series in 2011, went to the NLCS in 2012, and went to the World Series in 2013. That’s the best series of postseason runs from 2011-13 in baseball.

 

Don’t let the loss last night make you forget that we are living in a truly exciting time in Cardinals history; put this together with another comparable run (at least in terms of postseason success) from 2004-06, and most readers at this blog have seen a run of success unparalleled since World War II. Four pennants and two rings in ten years is nothing to sniff at. The only better runs in Cardinals history would be the 1941-46 era (four pennants, three rings) and the 1926-1935 era (5 pennants, three rings).

 

The Whiteyball era yielded three pennants and one ring. The Gibson era brought us three pennants and two rings. Sticklers for history could, I suppose, count the St. Louis Browns in the American Association from 1885-1888 who appeared in four World Series, winning one and tying another (?). Perhaps someone can enlighten us about that long forgotten bit of history in the comments.

 

I don’t think calling the Cardinals current run historic is any kind of hyperbole. Enjoy this while it lasts, because these sustained bouts of postseason success don’t come regularly.

 

 

 

***************************

 

Acknowledging the unique run we have enjoyed and that caveat of success’s impermanence, I will contradict myself a bit. The thing that makes last night’s loss most palatable is the knowledge that, in the short term, we are likely to remain competitors for a long time to come. Maybe moreso than most years we have gone to the World Series, we have control over the core of this team for years to come.

 

Many of the essential players are very young and have years of club control remaining: Matt Carpenter, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Pete Kozma, Daniel Descalso, Kevin Siegrist, Joe Kelly, Seth Maness, John Gast, Tyler Lyons, Kolten Wong, and Michael Wacha are not going anywhere unless they are traded or nontendered. The older core of the club remains under long-term contract at least through 2016: Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, and (if he returns healthy) Jaime Garcia.

 

The club is left with only a handful of question marks after the season (albeit important ones).

 

In short order, we will see how the club plays out the Carlos Beltran scenario. Any qualifying offer must be made by Monday. I will leave the larger discussion of the Beltran contract for someone else to digest, but my best guess is that the club will give Beltran the qualifying offer, as well as a two-year offer at a lesser annual value. Two years at $18m or $20m seems like a decent settling point. Although Beltran could probably push the market for a slightly bigger deal, it can’t escape his notice that the Cardinals finally got him to a World Series and seem as well poised as any NL team to take him back in 2014. Managing an increasingly hobbled Beltran will probably require more frequent rests and more appearances in right field by Oscar Taveras and Allen Craig.

 

I have trouble imagining the club not making a move to improve the shortstop position this offseason. Stephen Drew is a seemingly gettable shortstop free agent, and a number of clubs have shortstops that could move for a sizable bounty of prospects, which the Cardinals are very much positioned to provide.

 

I see that lots of commenters are very willing to say goodbye to Jon Jay and David Freese. Third base and center field are plausible places for improvement, but I suspect they are much lower priorities for the club. For one, both Jay and Freese are projected to regress to league average-ish performance. For another, the club could shift players around to relegate Jay and Freese to timeshares at their positions. A three-part time share of Kolten Wong, David Freese, and Matt Carpenter across second and third base would seem workable. Easing Jon Jay out of his starting role and easing Oscar Taveras into it could also work to the club’s advantage. Especially if the club intends to trade Freese or reduce his playing time, it may also want to look at some sort of right-handed utility player; alternately, it could watch to see how Stephen Piscotty fares in Arizona and Memphis and consider him for a midseason callup.

 

Don’t mistake these comments for an argument not to upgrade third base or center field. Those moves are definitely plausible, but they seem like secondary options. Deciding what to do about Beltran and shortstop are not optional; those moves are imperative.

 

The rest of the team requires very little sorting out. The club will have to make a couple of decisions about tendering or nontendering: Salas (non); Descalso (tender); Jay (tender). I don’t think the club is likely to re-sign Mujica to any kind of contract. The club should probably make an effort to sign Axford to a contract in lieu of going to arbitration with him; otherwise, they could either let him walk, or put him through arbitration and then try to flip him to another team after he goes to arbitration. It doesn’t make much sense to pay more than $3m or $4m to a guy who will probably compete with Seth Maness for a bullpen spot.

 

This team probably gets better just standing still, at least in terms of talent. Replace 19 Jake Westbrook starts with starts from the younger phenoms, and there’s a couple wins. Remove some of the 2013 bullpen detritus; replace with more youngster innings. Add some playing time for Oscar Taveras and some regression upwards from Jay and Freese, and the 2014 team is at least as well positioned as the 2013 team without a single move from the club. Adding shortstop, or third base, or centerfield improvement would make the team a serious force to be reckoned with.

Tom has brought to light in this article why Cardinal fans should be excited about the bright future this team has in front of it. Cardinal fans just got done celebrating the 2011 World Series win and just 2 years later again saw their team in the World Series after losing Albert Puljos and Tony LaRussa. Yeah..I’m jealous.

Apr 26

White Sox Sophomore Manager Robin Ventura is Being Tested

The

White Sox sophomore manger Robin Ventura

is now experiencing the litmus test for any aspiring baseball manager. That is “the slump”, where everything that can go wrong usually does. So far this year is beating him up more than Nolan Ryan did.  This is true except in the case of the Chicago Cubs where this has been a game by game experience for over 104 years.nolan-ryan

The White Sox are not an overly talented team, not by a long shot. Their pitching is better than average and that is about the best that can be said for them. The temporary loss of Dayan Viciedo and Beckham has weakened an already anemic lineup. Under similar conditions an experienced manager has no qualms reinventing his lineup and has long stopped worrying about whose feelings he may hurt while trying to create a successful one.

Unfortunately,  the

White Sox sophomore manager Robin Ventura

has to depend on his more experienced coaching staff for this type of intuition. He has yet to develop his “gut feeling” when faced with these difficult situations. Sox fans can only hope Ventura can find his way through the morass of injuries plaguing his team now.

At some point in his career Kenny Williams has forgotten how to build a team that could generate run production by means other than the home run. It seems the new GM Rick Hahn still has much to learn in this regard as well.  Both of these men have done little with the roster to help Robin Ventura succeed.

The White Sox lack solid contact hitters that can move runners and generate high OBP numbers. Gordon Beckham seemed to finally be hitting his stride at the plate before his injury and fans can only hope that continues when he gets back. There are far too many bad at-bats from the middle of the lineup between Adam Dunn and a struggling Paul Konerko. AJ Pierzinski’s bat is sorely missed in the sixth spot, and third base is still a problem area for this team.

Sox fans of the 50’s and 60’s can relate to a White Sox team with strong pitching but not enough bats to get them to the top. Their 2005 World Series team had tremendous pitching and a number of hitters that had a career year that year. Teams that consistently contend have good hitting and pitching every year.

It is my hope as a lifelong White Sox fan that Rick Hahn develops into a great general manager and builds a team on the Southside that contends year after year. I do find some comfort in the fact that there will always be team in Chicago worse than the White Sox.

Aug 01

2012 Chicago Cubs Report Card

Theo EpsteinThe Chicago Cubs report card at the trading deadline is really a referendum on Theo Epstein. The latest “savior” of the Northside baseball franchise in Chicago gets mixed grades from this author.

Cubs report card – Pre-season Moves

The hire of Dale Sveum as manager is still debatable as a good move, but at the midseason point of the season he has already shown he is a no-nonsense manager who believes in sound fundamentals, something the Cubs have lacked for years. There is every  reason to believe that he can develop a younger, more aggressive team into a winner.

One move they had to make was to move Carlos Zambrano, even though they picked up a considerable portion of his contract. They made no effort to retain free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. They packaged two prospects and picked up Ian Stewart from the Rockies. This proved to be a huge lose on the offensive side of the ball. What is proving to already be a great move is the trade that sent top pitching prospect Andrew Cashner for San Diego top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo.

It is too soon to comment on the trade of pitcher Sean Marshall to the Reds for 3 prospects. The pickup of veteran outfielder David DeJesus to solidify the centerfield position was a nice move by Epstein, as well as the pickup of Paul Maholm, who was just dealt to the Braves for prospects. At the last minute of the trading deadline the Cubs unloaded Ryan Dempster to Texas Rangers for third base prospect Christian Villanueva and minor league right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Villanueva is a top 100 prospect and one day be the everyday third baseman for the Cubs.

Cubs Report Card –  The Season

Anyone who knew anything about baseball knew the Cubs would suck this year. After looking at the direction Epstein is taking the team Cub fans should expect the same for another year or two at least.  Even with the improved play of Alfonso Soriano in the field their team defense is average at best.

Two pieces of the puzzle in the infield seem to be locked in with Starlin Castro at shortstop and Rizzo at first base. Darwin Barney could play for years at second base, but I don’t think the Cubs are quite sold on him at this point.

Catcher is another weak spot on the team. Geovany Soto was just traded last night to Texas for pitcher Jacob Brigham, who is condidered to be a backend rotation pitcher. The pitching has actually been a bright spot for the team so far, but with the Maholm and Dempster trades the rotation will be weak at best.

Cubs Report Card –  The Future

It is common knowledge throughout Major League baseball that you can’t build a winning team through prospects. Epstein had to unload poor contracts and has done a good job gathering quality prospects. But, it takes all-star quality veterans to get to a World Series. The question remains, can Epstein build a team of quality players that he didn’t inherit like he did in Boston? There are still too many incompletes on this Cubs report card. And the looming questions in everyone’s mind is will the Chicago Cubs ever win another World Series?

Jul 30

White Sox Kenny Williams Making Great Moves

Kenny Williams and Robin VenturaI have not been a fan of

Kenny Williams

for sometime now. I can count more blunders than good moves he has made in the last 7 years. That being said, I do think Kenny Williams has pulled off moves before the trade deadline that can help the Chicago White Sox for years to come. Here is a column written by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune supporting my supposition.

By Phil Rogers — Chicago Tribune
Created: Monday, July 30, 2012

(MCT) — It’s never easy for Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox, but year after year they find ways to stretch the payroll and keep things interesting. That sweetheart stadium deal certainly helps. So does the Comcast SportsNet Chicago deal. But at the end of the day, they need creative management.

That’s what I thought failed them the last couple of years, when Ken Williams had become an inefficient steward of Reinsdorf’s resources. But if there was such a thing as Comeback Executive of the Year, Williams would be an easy winner for 2012.
After a quiet offseason, with his hands tied by the previous unproductive moves that brought Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn to the White Sox, Williams has made all the right moves during the season, the latest being Saturday night’s trade for Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano.

“We’ve had the displeasure of facing him when he’s been on top of his game,” Williams said Sunday. “He has some of the best stuff in our league, and has for some time now.”

Liriano has a 5.31 ERA this season, but Williams is banking on pitching coach Don Cooper helping him develop some consistency, as Cooper did with Edwin Jackson after Williams landed him at the trade deadline two years ago. And at this point, with the White Sox leading the American League Central and Williams having recently added Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers without giving up a significant prospect, you’d look foolish questioning Williams. The dude is on a roll.

Williams had seemed pessimistic about adding salary a few weeks ago when he was asked about the upcoming trade deadline. Despite being in first place all but three days the last two months, the Sox are averaging only 24,705 fans at home, which ranks 24th in the majors.

They took a big hit in season-ticket renewals last winter, when Williams was talking about rebuilding, but things have looked up thanks to two great moves by Williams and his assistants.

Robin Ventura was a high-risk choice as manager when he was hired to replace Ozzie Guillen, and he looks like the early front-runner for Manager of the Year. But the second great move went almost unnoticed.

When Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn negotiated the five-year, $65 million deal to keep John Danks, they heavily back-loaded the contract. Danks is being paid only $8 million this year, with $7.5 million of it in a signing bonus that is paid out through December. His salary jumps to $14.25 million next year, when the Sox can take Jake Peavy or, more likely, Gavin Floyd off the books.

Without that flexibility, the Sox might not have been able to add the experience of Myers and Liriano to a pitching staff that badly needed more gristle. Those two guys and Youkilis have increased the payroll about $7 million — and that total would have been almost twice as high if Williams hadn’t gotten the Red Sox and Astros to send along $6.6 million in those deals.

Williams has never seemed to care about trading prospects and entry-level big leaguers, with Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Hudson, Clayton Richard and Chris Young among those he has traded since the 2005 World Series. This time around he has been able to add veterans without paying a high price in talent.

Eduardo Escobar, who went to the Twins along with lefty Pedro Hernandez, is the best player that Trader Kenny has moved this season. But he probably falls into that group of players scouts consider regulars only on second-division teams, and in Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez, the White Sox have Escobar replacements coming fast in the high minors.
“We think we can compete,” Williams said. “(But) we’re also building for the future.” September is in the future. And with the moves that Williams has made, maybe October too.
 

I am hoping

Kenny Williams

has provided me reasons for believing in him again, but like a good White Sox fan I reserve the right to change my mind.

Jul 16

2012 Chicago White Sox Baseball at the All-Star Break

White Sox manager Robin Ventura

Robin Ventura

The

2012 Chicago White Sox

baseball team has surprised many of the baseball pundits up to now. The 2012 Chicago White Sox find themselves in first place by 3 games at the break. With the loss of manager Ozzie Guillen, players Mark Buehrle and Carlos Quentin, and the bad play of last year shared by Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, plus the hiring of rookie manager Robin Ventura, there was little optimism the Sox would even contend for the playoffs.

The White Sox have been beneficiaries of comeback seasons for Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Jake Peavy. Peavy and Dunn joined Paul Konerko and Chris Sale on the All-Star team. Ventura is already proving to be an effective manager that has the team playing with sound fundamentals.

A Kenny Williams trade that has already proven to be huge to the team is the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox. Not only did this move supply a needed bat to the lineup but also bolstered the 3rd base position, which was the weakest on the team. New addition to the lineup Alejandro De Aza is doing a great job in the leadoff spot and is at the top of the leader board in runs and stolen bases. Rookie Dayan Viciedo is supplying the power in the lineup missed by Quentin’s absence.

The pitching again is strong for the 2012 Chicago White Sox. They are 3rd in American League with 50 quality starts and a .243 BA against. Along with Chris Sale’s brilliant 11-2 season to this point is the welcome comeback of Jake Peavy to his prior form and the surprise pitching of starter Jose Quintana, who stepped in for an injured John Danks. Rookie Addison Reed is proven he can be an elite closer in the league for years to come. It must be mentioned that the veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski is the glue that binds this pitching staff.
 

Surprisingly the

Chicago White Sox

rank fifth in defense at the break. Shortstop Alexi Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham are becoming one of the best double play tandems in the league, reminiscent of the Hall of Fame combo of Aparicio and Fox of the Go-Go- White Sox. The outfield defense is also improved with De Aza in center and Rios moving to right field.

The second half of the season will be a true test for the

2012 Chicago White Sox

. The heavily favored team to take the division, the Detroit Tigers, are beginning to play better and the young upstart Cleveland Indians are real contenders. It should prove to be an exciting race to see which team prevails.

Nov 23

St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champs

St. Louis CardinalsThe St. Louis Cardinals pulled of one of the major surprises in 2011 by winning their 11th World Series in team history.  The Cardinal’s struggled in the Central division all season, mainly due to injuries and pitching problems. With one week left in the month of August they were 10 1/2 back of the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card race.

What happened next for the St. Louis Cardinals is nothing short of amazing. They went on a 23-9 tear, finishing 1 game up on the Braves, who during the same stretch had one of the worst collapses in baseball history. The Redbirds made the history books by marking the biggest comeback in the game after 130 games had been played in the regular season. Albert Puljos, who for him had a down year, got hot during this stretch run to help lead his team to postseason once again.

St. Louis Cardinals – the NLDS

The Cardinals didn’t have a chance, or so all the pundits would have had you believe. They had to face the Philadelphia Phillies, who had the best record in baseball and a pitching staff that was loaded. The series did go all five games with Cards coming out on top 3-2. Cardinal’s pitching ace Chris Carpenter pitched brilliantly, clinching the series in game five with a 3 hit shutout in a 1-0 victory.

St. Louis Cardinals – NLCS

Next up for the St. Louis Cardinals was their division rival Milwaukee Brewers, who beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 in the NDLS. Though the Breewers were favored, the Cardinals were no longer thought of as heavy underdogs. They would go on to defeat the Brewers 4-2 in the series match up to make their eleventh World Series appearance. Once again their pitching was solid with key hits coming from Albert Puljos and and third baseman David Freese, who won the NLCS MVP award. Their 18th pennant win tied them with the Giants and Dodgers for the most in the National League.

St. Louis Cardinals – World Series

The 2011 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers would go down as one of the most exciting in baseball history, if not one of the best played. History was again made by the Redbirds in this series. In game 3 Albert Puljos became only the third player in history to hit 3 homers in a World Series game, joining the company of Hall of Fame players Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. In a 10-9 victory in game six of the series the Cardinals became the only team in World Series history to win a game when being behind in the ninth and extra-innings, as well as accomplishing a victory when being just one strike away from losing the series in 2 different innings in the same game. They also were the first team to score runs in the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh innings of a World Series game. This tenacity reflected manager Tony LaRussa’s personality, who proved his worthiness to a future induction to the Hall of Fame.

The St. Louis Cardinals would go on to win game seven and the series. But, the real story for this team was the emergence of third baseman David Freese, who went on to capture the World Series MVP award as well. He established a new post-season record with 21 RBI,s and became just the sixth player to win both the World Series and NLCS MVP awards.

On a sadder note for St. Louis Cardinal fans, Tony LaRussa called it quits and retired as manager. His presence will be surely missed by all who love the game. Redbird fans now have to hope they can resign Puljos in free agency.

Nov 17

Sveum accepts offer to become Cubs manager

Breaking news from the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Cubs’ managerial search is over: Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum has accepted the job of succeeding Mike Quade in the Cubs’ dugout.

Sveum received a three-year contract with a club option for 2015.

Sveum, 47, will be introduced as the next Cubs manager at 9 a.m. Friday as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer turn to the gargantuan task of rebuilding the 91-loss team.

Oct 15

Will Mark Buehrle Leave the White Sox

Only 3 members of the 2005 Chicago White Sox championship team are still with the team, Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzynski, and Mark Buehrle.  It is a good possibility Mark Buehrle will leave the team via free agency for the 2010 season. Mark Buehrle is surely one of the most underrated starters in the majors who consistently throws quality innings every year and owns one perfect game and another no-hitter. But, more importantly he is a leader in the clubhouse and a strong influence on young pitchers. Should he bolt the Sox he will missed.

Mark Buehrle’s Options

The White Sox will more than likely follow the same pattern they used when they last resigned Konerko. They will see what offers come Mark Buehrle’s way and see if they can get a hometown discount. Mark Buehrle has indicated in the past his interest in playing for his home state team, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have their top 2 pitchers entering free agency this year and Mark Buehrle could be an attractive alternative to either Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, both of who see the disabled list frequently. It also most be noted that Mark Buehrle and his family love Chicago and a real possibility remains that he will resign with the team he helped lead to a World Series victory.

Here is section of  Scott Merkins blog “Merks Works” on MLB.com commenting on the Mark Buehrle situation.

Inbox: Will Buehrle return to the South Side?

By Scott Merkin / MLB.com | 10/14/11 12:36 PM ET

CHICAGO — As I sit and write this first offseason installment of the Inbox, the University of Michigan football team has a perfect 6-0 record and is ranked 10th in the country.

How does this have anything to do with the White Sox? Well, reliever Matt Thornton is a big fan of the Wolverines, and if Michigan continues its unbeaten ways, then it could go against Jake Peavy’s beloved Alabama squad for the BCS title.

OK, Michigan football has next to nothing to do with the White Sox. I just like writing and talking about the Wolverines’ perfect 6-0 record. But let’s bring the focus back to the South Side of Chicago.

Mark Buehrle
White Sox on Buehrle’s outing
00:02:11
9/27/11: A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko talk about Mark Buehrle’s possible last start for the White Sox
Tags: Chicago White Sox, press conference, Paul Konerko, More From This Game, A.J. Pierzynski

I’ll be answering your questions once a week until the start of Spring Training, and hopefully throw in a few guest Inbox anchors along the way, as Thornton was nice enough to do last year. So let’s get to work with this week’s topics.

Is there any chance that Mark Buehrle comes back in 2012?
— Mike, Tinley Park, Ill.

There’s certainly a chance, but as of right now, I would say Buehrle will be somewhere else. Of course, I thought that to be true about A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko at some point leading into the 2011 season.

Buehrle and his family love Chicago, and he would like to continue pitching for the White Sox. But in talking to him during the final month of the season, I got the feeling that he wants to see what else is out there in his first foray into free agency. Moving to the National League could be appealing at this point of his stellar career.

Extended negotiations will probably play out along the same lines as those of Konerko, in that Buehrle will explore the open market and the White Sox will see where they stand in terms of both their budget and team direction. One thing is for sure: Teams going for a title or teams in rebuilding mode could use a durable quality starter and an even higher-quality clubhouse presence such as Buehrle.If you had to predict the pitching rotation for the 2012 season, who would be in it right now?
— Andrew, Omaha, Neb.

I would go with Chris Sale, Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber. Put Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod in the bullpen at the outset, and if Mark Buehrle does come back, that could mean a potential move via trade with Danks, in his last year of arbitration eligibility before free agency, or Floyd, earning $7 million in the finale of his four-year deal. It’s a pretty solid rotation if players live up to their yearly standard.

Discuss Sale’s role in 2012.
— Rich, Chicago

Barring something completely unforeseen, Sale will be a starter in 2012 and beyond. Those words came straight from general manager Ken Williams about 10 days ago, and I just don’t see a change.

Sale was drafted in 2010 with the design of using him immediately in the bullpen to both help the team and have him cut his Major League teeth, but he was always targeted as a starter. The argument going into last year is that he would have been just a spot starter until Peavy returned healthy, and that moving around could jeopardize his development. I believe that Sale has the ability and the makeup to be a 16- to 18-game winner, maybe even in his first year.

Oct 14

Theo Epstein – Will He Make a Difference to the Cubs

Theo EpsteinSince the 1960′ the Chicago Cubs have brought in very successful baseball men as general managers and managers, which Theo Epstein will apparently  be the next. Just to name a few: Herman Franks, Dallas Green, Leo Durocher, Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella. And what were all these successful, knowledgeable baseball men able to accomplish on Chicago’s north side? Absolutely squat! Will Theo Epstein just be another one in a long line to fail?

Theo Epstein – Boy Wonder

Theo Epstein was the youngest general manager ever hired by a major league ball club when the Boston Red Sox hired him 2002 at the age of 28. He went on to help build a team that would win 2 World Series. What needs to be said is the Boston organization had been competitive for decades prior to hiring Theo Epstein, and gave Theo Epstein an open checkbook. Now the Cubs, with few exceptions, have not been competitive for decades. It is also not certain that the purse strings will open for Epstein to aggressively seek high priced free agents.

Theo Epstein – Will the Cubs Ruin His Career

Many good baseball men have tried their hand at turning the Cubs around to their glory days in early 20th century. None of the succeeded. Given the track record it would be foolish to bet on Theo Epstein’s future with the Cubs as being a successful one. He is just another Chicago Cub’s fans glorious delusions of seeing their team win a World Series.

Here is a great article by Steve Rosenbloom from the Chicago Tribune sharing similar thoughts on Theo Epstein.

Theo is perfect — for a lot of the wrong reasons

October 12, 2011|Steve Rosenbloom | The RosenBlog

This seems like the perfect hire.

The best thing ever.

The smartest move you could dream of.

But it’s the Cubs. So, it will turn into a disaster. That’s what the Cubs do.

Somehow, some way at some time, the hiring of Boston general manager Theo Epstein will splatter all over the team, the fans and the North Side like the seagulls at 4:30 every summer afternoon at Wrigley.

It’s not a done deal, which means it could still blow up in the Cubs’ faces. Tom Ricketts is Baseball McCaskey, after all.

But it might not be Ricketts. It might be a nut owner in Boston wanting to look like a hero and save his boy wonder.

For now, though, the storyline has the Cubs thisclose to hiring Epstein, who is fresh off presiding over the greatest late-season collapse in baseball history.

Perfect Cub, indeed.

Perfect hire.

Perfect qualifications.

And that collapse wasn’t just a collapse, by the way. It was nuclear and laughable — the kind of choke for which they build statues at Wrigley Field.

The Boston Globe details Epstein’s collection of players drinking, eating their way out of shape, and neither the manager nor veterans able or even wanting to stop the madness.

The Cubs’ best hire would’ve been Andrew Friedman, a similar boy wonder who did more with less in Tampa Bay than anybody anywhere, and whose team overtook Epstein’s Red Sox during that sparkling 7-20 September, a time when character shows, and what showed was that Epstein’s Red Sox didn’t have any.

The case will be made that Friedman hasn’t won a World Series. He put together a team that reached one Series and came in second. He didn’t win it, while Epstein did. Twice, in fact, in 2004 and ’07. A ring for each hand.

Just like his reported steroid user for each hand.

Epstein, see, has yet to win a Series without a juiced-up middle of the order.

You’ll recall that the Red Sox got clutch hit after clutch hit from Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. They got big hits from others — even J.D. Drew, if you can believe that — but it all stemmed from the power of Ramirez and Ortiz.

And that power reportedly was aided by ‘roids.

I guess Epstein gets credit for that. The Cubs tried the ‘roids thing, but never won a pennant with Sammy Sosa.

And I give Epstein credit for combining the kind of big payroll Jim Hendry had with the kind of farm system that Hendry couldn’t harvest. But Epstein had his Alfonso Sorianos and Milton Bradleys in the form of Carl Crawford and John Lackey. General managers who get the chance to spend a lot of money inevitably will spend some of it badly. The trick is to do it less than Hendry.

Oh, and about that general manager thing: In order to lure Epstein, the Cubs will have to promote him to president or CEO or something bigger, but all you want him to do is build a baseball organization as a GM. But the Cubs will use him as one of the point men to sucker the mayor and city into $200 million worth of improvements for Wrigley. That will take him away from what he has done best.

We’ve seen that movie before. Everybody dies in the end. The Cubs did this with Andy MacPhail in 1994. Say hello to Ed Lynch, everybody. Someone gets promoted above the reason you really want to hire that person. So Cub.

I want Epstein to succeed. I’d love for the Cubs to win a World Series just to see whether that indeed marks the apocalypse.

But it’s hard to get past the idea of the most embarrassing franchise in sports empowering the man in charge of the most embarrassing death spiral in baseball

Can Theo Epstein bring a World Series Championship to the north side of Chicago? If by some miracle he pulls this off he will never have to by another meal or drink in the city for the rest of his life.

Oct 01

The Ozzie Guillen Era Ends in Chicago

The most poignant thing one could say about the Ozzie Guillen Era of the Chicago White Sox is that it certainly wasn’t boring. Ozzie’s mouth landed him on ESPN more than his style of management. There is no doubt that he is baseball’s most controversial figure. After eight years of slightly better than .500 baseball the white Sox organization said farewell to a manager that ranks third in franchise victories with 678.

The Ozzie Guillen Era – The Rookie

Ozzie Guillen EraOzzie was a rookie twice for the Chicago White Sox, once in 1985 as a player when he won Rookie of the Year honors, and once again as a rookie manager in 2004. He performed as a player for sixteen seasons, making three all-star appearances and winning a Gold Glove Award for the 1990 season. He was one of the best defensive shortstops of his time.

The most common praise of Ozzie during his career was how smart of player he was.  This was a belief shared by many baseball people, so it was no surprise when he was hired as the third base coach by the Montreal Expos in 2001, his first year after he retired as a player. He went to Florida Marlins to coach the following two season before being hired as manager of the White Sox.

The Ozzie Guillen Era – The World Series

The Ozzie Guillen era started inconspicuously in 2004 with an 83 win season, 3 less than the previous season, but still good enough for second place in the division. No one in their wildest dreams could have seen the 2005 season coming. With the help of some superb player acquisitions made by general manger Kenny Williams in the off-season Ozzie kept the White Sox in first place from the first game of the season to the last game of a World Series win.

He proved to be an instinctive field manger that would often throw the “book” out and go with his guts. As the team contended deep into the season he bore the brunt of the media attention by keeping himself the focal point and thus allowing the players to stay focused on their games. This earned him the Manager of the Year Award and it remained his management style through the years, as he often took the blame for his team playing poorly.

The Ozzie Guillen Era – the Character

Ozzie Guillen is a gift that keeps on giving for sports reporters. His profanity laden rants through the years can be found on sports blogs, YouTube, and every major newspaper in the country. Given his fiery temperament it’s amazing he managed to be employed by the White Sox for eight years. Even Ozzie’s strongest supporters in Chicago struggled to see any advantage of having him as a manager of the White Sox. Aside from this it cannot be forgotten that he is an exceptional manager.

The Ozzie Guillen Era – a Fan’s Perspective

As a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan Ozzie will always hold a special place in my heart. I enjoyed watching him as a scrappy ballplayer eking out every drop of talent he had, never giving in or giving up until the final out of a game.

And as a manager there is only one thing to say…2005 World Series Champions. After 88 years of futility this feisty manager (first Latin American manager in MLB) took a slightly better than average baseball team into the record books. I will never forget where I was and who I shared those World Series games with, and for this I will always be beholding to Ozzie.

And as the Ozzie Guillen era comes to an end in Chicago the fans of the Florida Marlins certainly have some entertaining days ahead of them. And knowing Ozzie, they will also have some very competitive teams. As a White Sox I can only hope that their next manager can accomplish what only one colorful man managed to do in 88 years.

Sep 02

2011 Chicago White Sox – A Lesson in Futility

2011 Chicago White SoxThe 2011 Chicago White Sox held great promise for their fans and many baseball pundits. Paul Konerko was coming off a great 2010 season, as was Alex Rios. Alexi Ramirez solidified the shortstop position with solid defense and hitting, and Juan Pierre performed well as a lead-off hitter for the team.
Well, Konerko is again having an all-star season, A.J. Pierzynski is once again having a solid year at catcher, Pierre is having a below average season for him, Rios is pitiful, and Ramirez if little off this year as well, and the pitching staff ahs been very good as usual for the White Sox.

2011 Chicago White Sox – Needed Improvement

The team as well as the fans knew that Gordon Beckham, Carlos Quentin, and third baseman Mark Teahen needed to show significant improvement in hitting for the Sox to contend. The newly revamped bullpen also would have to step it up as well as a healthy Jake Peavy. To improve the team’s run production Kenny Williams signed big bopper Adam Dunn in the off-season. Most everyone thought this move would make the 2011 Chicago White Sox serious pennant contenders.

2011 Chicago White Sox – Big Disappointments

Without a doubt the biggest disappoint in 2011 major league season is Adam Dunn. He is on the verge of having the lowest batting average EVER for hitters who have qualified for a batting title. For a player who has averaged nearly 40 homers a year he has only 11 as of September 1 with 40 RBI’s. Run production was an issue for the team last year and Dunn was to be the remedy. This is looking like a big blunder for Kenny Williams.
Alex Rios is another huge disappoint for the Sox this year. He is hitting a paltry .214 with only a .252 OBP as of September 1. It is beginning to look like the 2010 season was an exception and not the rule for Rios. These two players tie up nearly $30 million in salary that could be better spent shoring up a team that is proving to have many holes.
Gordon Beckham is another player the Sox had high hopes for going into this season. But, Beckham is starting to look like a bust, although he is still young. The Sox will more than likely continue to give him a chance to play well at the major league level due to his low salary more than anything else.
The 2010 Mark Teahen deal failed completely. By the end of July he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. This was another over-priced free agent that Kenny Williams signed that proved to be bust on the Southside.

2011 Chicago White Season – Promising Players

Two young promising outfielders for the 2011 Chicago White Sox are Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo. The late call up of Viciedo is creating a strain on the team management because of his instant success. It is apparent to all that an earlier call up would have been beneficial to a team that should have benched a struggling Adam Dunn months ago.

 

Philip Humber

The Sox have also gotten a surprise season out of new pitcher Philip Humber, who has an 8-8 record with a 3.63 ERA as of September 1.
Another promising future starter looks to be catcher Tyler Flowers. Since he has been called into action due to backup catcher Ramon Castro’s season ending injury and Pierzynski going on the 15 day DL he had proven to be an effective hitter with power and a solid defensive catcher.

While the Sox are still not out the division race at this time, there is little doubt that the failure to perform up to their normal standards by many players on this team has cost the 2011 Chicago White Sox a real opportunity for another chance to play in a World Series.

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Jul 22

The St. Louis Cardinals – the Early Years

The St. Louis Cardinals were the only major league team west of the Mississippi river until the 1958 season when the Dodgers and Giants opened their first seasons in California. St. Louis was one of the original eight charter members of the newly formed National League in 1876. Other significant events that made 1876 memorable were the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Mark Twain’s classic Tom Sawyer was published, and General George Custer and his army were defeated at the battle of Little Big Horn.

St. Louis Cardinals – the Browns

In their earliest years the team’s moniker was the Browns. The inaugural year for the league saw the Browns finish second with a record of 45-19. Amazingly, that would be their best finish until they captured the pennant and World Series in 1926.

The 1978 season had great expectations, but they were dashed when four players the St. Louis team signed from a strong Louisville team were permanently banned from baseball when it was determined they conspired to throw games the previous season. This had the owner of the club, John Lucas, so upset he broke up the Browns and resigned from the National League.

St. Louis Cardinals

Charles Comiskey on the St. Louis Browns

In 1882 the American Association was formed which included the St. Louis Browns. The new owner was Chris Von Der Ahe, a German who owned a beer garden near Sportsman’s Park. His baseball advisor was Al Spink, a co-founder of The Sporting News. Upon Spinks suggestion the Browns signed a former Chicago sandlot star, Charles Comiskey, to play first base for them. Comiskey took the over the managerial duties for the team in 1885 and led the Browns to four successive pennants. Comiskey would later go on to organize and own the Chicago White Sox and eventually enter the Hall of Fame.

St. Louis Cardinals- the New Name

The St. Louis Browns were eventually absorbed into the National League in 1892. The name change to the Cardinals was inspired by the team’s new uniform change in 1899 that displayed red trim and red stockings. Legend has it a female fan said “Oh, what a beautiful shade of Cardinal,” upon seeing the new uniforms. Sportswriter Willie McHale overheard the woman’s comment and is generally referred to being the first to use it in print.

St. Louis Cardinals- Losing Stars

Budding pitching star Denton “Cy” (short for “Cyclone”) Young was a member of the Cardinals for the 1899-1900 seasons when he jumped to the new American League for more money and cooler temperatures to play in Boston. He would go on to win 511 games, the most victories in the history of the game. Hall of Fame outfielder Jesse Burkett also played for the team from 199-1901 and averaged .382 over that time. Hall of Fame player/manager John McGraw played third base for the team in 1900 and was asked to be manager, but he turned them down and moved to the New York Giants in 1901 where he enjoyed a stellar career.

The St. Louis Cardinals had nothing to be proud of for the next two decades. They in fact traded a young Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown to the Cubs in 1903 because they thought his damaged hand would hold him back from being a productive player. He went on to be the anchor of a pitching staff that would see the Cubs win many pennants and World Series and enter the Hall of Fame with the second lowest career ERA.

During the lean years (there were many) Miller Huggins played second base for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1910 to 1916. He was their manager from 1913-1916. He would leave St. Louis in 1917 and begin his reign as Yankee manager where he would win six pennants. Beyond Huggins they fielded mediocre ball players until the signed the great Rogers Hornsby in 1915.

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Jul 22

The Legendary Branch Rickey

Branch Rickey was one of the most influential personalities to have ever graced the game of baseball, though his early career gave no indication how much he would change the face of baseball. He will be forever tied to Jackie Robinson and the breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball when, against much opposition, signed the first black player to a Major League contract in 1947. He also drafted Roberto Clemente, the first Black Hispanic superstar to grace the diamond.

Branch Rickey – the Early Years

Branch Rickey

Branch Rickey the College Student

Wesley Branch Rickey was born on a farm on December 20, 1881 in Stockton, Ohio and was raised near Lucasville, Ohio. He was always an intelligent kid. He studied Latin, math, and rhetoric on his own before attending college. He graduated with honors from Ohio Wesleyan and began a teaching career at Allegheny College and then at Delaware College. As a scholar athlete Branch Rickey would spend his summers playing semipro ball and for a short period played what would be considered then professional football in the fall until he suffered a broken leg.

Branch Rickey broke into the professional ball as a catcher after signing with a contract to play minor league ball with Terre Haute, Indiana in 1903. In 1905, at the age of 23,  he made the major leagues with the St. Louis Browns, where he would spend two seasons. He played in 64 games in 1906 and hit .284. He was sold to the New York Highlanders (Yankees) in 1907. There he proved to everyone he could not hit or catch. He still holds the dubious record when thirteen Washington Senators stole successfully in one game where he was catching. He also found the time to manage the baseball and football teams while still teaching at Allengheny College in 1904 and 1905.

He returned to big league baseball when he took the position of front office executive for the St. Louis Browns in 1913. He took over the manager duties for the last two weeks of the season and continued to manage the team through 1915, never breaking the .500 mark. His biggest accomplishment with the Browns was the signing of Future Hall of Famer George Sisler, perhaps the most underrated player of all-time. It was also the beginning of a philosophy that would make him the best baseball executive in baseball history. Mr. Rickey scouted for and told his scouts to look for the “young, hungry player with the basic attributes of youth and speed plus strength of arm.”

He saw service in WWI as an Army officer stationed in France for nearly five months in 1918. He commanded a chemical training unit that included two of the original Hall of Fame players Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson.

Branch Rickey – The St. Louis Cardinals

He would join the financially struggling St. Louis Cardinals as president of the team in 1917. He was thirty-six years old and as yet had not set the baseball scene on fire. By 1919 Branch Rickey would take over as manager of the team and hold that position until June of 1925 when Rogers Hornsby took over the managerial duties.

During his reign as team president Branch Rickey was the brain trust behind the “farm system”. He had bought minor league teams and used retired professional players to coach the young players. His farm system grew to as much as 800 players and was eventually adopted by every major league franchise. He stayed with the Cardinals until 1942 when there was an amicable parting between Rickey and owner Sam Breadon. While with the Cardinals he took a struggling club that was in debt to the tune of $175,000 and developed players that led to six National League pennants and four World Series wins during his tenure. He was also responsible for the farm system that developed the likes of Stan Musial and Dizzy Dean.

Branch Rickey – the Brooklyn Dodgers

Branch Rickey again proved to be an innovator with Brooklyn Dodgers. He established the initial full-time facility for spring training in Florida as well as implanting the batting cage, pitching machines and batting helmets. He was the first baseball man to hire a full-time statistician and taking advantage of that information to build rosters and use adopt the platoon strategy.

Branch Rickey signing Jackie Robinson

But his biggest contribution to the Dodgers and baseball was the signing of the first Negro player to play in the Major Leagues, Jackie Robinson. Branch Rickey was a man with strong Christian ideals and despised racism. He was quoted as saying, “I may not be able to do something about racism in every field, but I can sure do something about it in baseball.” Through this bold move he forever changed the face of baseball and society in general in America. He would leave the Dodgers in 1950, but not before winning two pennants in 1947 and 1949. He set the stage for a dominate Dodgers team that would sign many of the first black Hall of Fame players.

Branch Rickey – the Pittsburgh Pirates

Rickey accepted the position of General Manger for the Pirates in 1950. It did not take long for the Pirate fans to dislike Rickey because he followed is philosophy of finding young talent and shipped out many of the favorite veteran players on the team. Initially this seemed to backfire as the Pirates struggled for years. Because of health reasons Branch Ricky retired in 1955, but in 1960, with the nucleus of players drafted and developed by Rickey, the Pirates beat the vaunted New York Yankees in the World Series for the first time since 1925.

Branch Rickey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967 by the veteran’s committee.

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Jul 22

Rogers Hornsby – the Great “Rajah”

Rogers Hornsby

Rogers Hornsby - Rajah

In many baseball circles Rogers Hornsby is considered to be the greatest second baseman of all-time. While his offensive prowess is unquestioned, he was never a great defender, leaving arguments open for Eddie Collins and Joe Morgan. There is general consensus he is the greatest right-handed hitter baseball has ever seen, although the Cardinal’s Albert Pujols may have something to say about that in the future.

Rogers Hornsby – the Minor Leagues

At the age of eighteen Rajah followed in his older brother Everett’s footsteps who helped him get his first minor league contract with the Dallas Steers in 1914, which lasted for only two weeks. Rogers Hornsby then signed with the Hugo Scouts in the Texas-Oklahoma league which sold his contract to the Denison Champions after folding. Playing shortstop for both teams he batted just .232 with a whopping 45 errors in 113 games. In 1915 the Denison team joined the Western Association and changed their name to the Railroaders. He helped the team win the pennant with a .277 BA, but still struggled in the field with fifty eight errors. He caught the attention of St. Louis Cardinal scout Bob Connery and the Cardinals purchased his contract and brought him to the team in September.

Rogers Hornsby – the Early Years

Stepping onto the major league scene as a 19-year old in September, Rogers Hornsby played in eighteen games and hit .246. The spring of 1916 saw the single biggest factor that most probably led to his improvement at the plate; Connery made changes to Rogers batting stance, moving him to the back of the batter’s box. This allowed his powerful swing to stay in the strike zone longer. As a rookie Hornsby batted .313 and split his time at shortstop and third base. He would not be a full-time second baseman until the 1920 season.

1917 would bring another positive change to the Cardinals and Rogers Hornsby’s career. The team was sold to a syndicate that hired 36 year old Branch Rickey to be president of the team. No non-player in baseball would have the impact Rickey would eventually have in the game of baseball. He is one of the most remarkable men to grace the baseball scene. He was a player, manager, innovator, and visionary that would place his stamp on the game he loved forever when he broke all the rules and signed Jackie Robinson to a major league contract in 1945.

Under the leadership of disgruntled manager Miller Huggins (tried to buy the team but was not allowed present his proposal before the sale) , the team finished in third place with Rogers Hornsby finishing second in the National League in batting average at (.327), first in triples (17) and a .484 slugging percentage. He would go on to capture nine slugging titles in his career.

What is not often mentioned regarding the talents of Rogers Hornsby was his great speed. Not known as a prolific base stealer, he would use his speed to get extra bases. He led the league in triples on three different occasions and had thirty inside-the-park homers in his first eleven seasons in the league.

Rogers Hornsby – the Legend Begins

The National League answer to Babe Ruth in the 1920’s was Rogers Hornsby, who would go on a rampage never seen before or since. Beginning in 1920 he had six consecutive batting titles and slugging titles. During this time he also set the record for the highest batting average over four consecutive seasons: (1922-1925) is .403 (.4039) and over five consecutive (1921-1925) seasons with .402 (.4024). He is also the only player to hit forty or more home runs (42) and hit over .400 (.401) in a season (1926). In 1924 he hit.424, the highest batting average ever hit in the “live ball” era. He won two Triple Crowns, sharing this distinction with only Ted Williams. His lifetime batting average of .358 is second only to Ty Cobb. During the decade of the 20’s he accomplished the “decade triple crown”, leading the National League in home runs, RBIs and batting average. Only three other players in baseball have accomplished this feat; Ted Williams, Honus Wagner and Albert Pujols.

Rogers Hornsby – the World Series of 1926

Despite his blistering hitting through the decade the Cardinals seldom finished above fifth place. In June of 1925 Hornsby replaced Branch Rickey as manager and finished in fourth place, largely due to Rogers Hornsby’s second Triple Crown title. Hornsby was never a popular player with his teammates because of his gruff, cold personality and this often got him in hot water throughout his career. Though Rogers Hornsby would have a bad year by his standards, magic happened in 1926 and the Cardinals would make it to their first World Series and Rogers Hornsby’s only winning appearance.

Grover Cleveland Alexander

The Cardinals faced the powerful New York Yankees with Babe Ruth and second year sensation Lou Gehrig in the series. What would prove to be a huge factor in the World Series was the trading deadline pickup of the aging superstar pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander by the Cardinals. The series would go to seven games, and in the bottom of seventh in game seven Hornsby put in Alexander as a relief pitcher, who had already won games two and six as the starter. The 39-year old Alexander, who pitched nine innings the day before, was called on to pitch by Hornsby in the bottom of the seventh with bases loaded, two out, and the Cardinals up 3-2 and the dangerous rookie Tony Lazzeri at the plate for the Yankees. Alexander used an inside fastball and two curve balls to strike out the young hitter. The series ended when Babe Ruth attempted to steal second base after being walked. He was thrown out by 10 feet to end the game with Rogers Hornsby making the tag. It was the only time a World Series ended by a base stealer being thrown out until 2010. One notable event worth mentioning from this series was Babe Ruth hitting 3 home runs in one game (game 3).

Rogers Hornsby – the Waning Years

In a move that shocked St. Louis fans the Cardinals traded Hornsby to the New York Giants for star Frankie Frisch, another hard-nosed player that too often butted heads with his manager John McGraw. Hornsby wanted a three year contract at $50,000 per year, and that was more than owner Sam Breadon was willing to pay for a player he had many disputes with.

The 1927 saw Rogers Hornsby bounce back as he led the league in runs, walks, and on base percentage while hitting .361. He was again to be traded because of his gambling problems (horse racing) that owner Bill Stoneham would not tolerate.

Joining the Boston Braves for the 1928 season, Rogers Hornsby once again was the league’s top hitter. He went on to win his seventh batting title (.387), and also led the league in on-base percentage (.498), slugging percentage (.632), and walks (107). After the season the Chicago Cubs offered the financially struggling Braves five players and $200,000 for Hornsby. The offer was too good and the deal was made.

The move proved reaped immediate benefits for the 1929 Cubs. Rogers Hornsby set a new Cub hitting record with a .380 BA while hitting 39 home runs and a league leading .679 slugging percentage with 156 runs scored. He was awarded his second MVP Award while leading the Cubs to the pennant. He completely fell apart in the World Series, setting a World Series record with eight strikeouts, and hitting .238 with 1 RBI and the Cubs would lose the series. This was his last full season and his game continued to decline. He got his last hit on July 5, 1936 while managing and playing for the St. Louis Browns.

Rogers Hornsby’s legacy will always be as one of the greatest players of the game. While many teammates and opponents did not think kindly of him as a person, they were all awed by his baseball talents. All the players on the field would stop everything to watch him hit batting practice. To quote Frankie Frisch, “He’s the only guy I know who could hit .350 in the dark.” St. Louis Cardinal fans should hold a special place in their hearts for Rogers Hornsby and Branch Rickey. They both set the stage for an organization that would become one of the best in baseball.

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Jul 21

The St. Louis Cardinals – the “Gashouse Gang”

The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals would go down as one of baseball’s most memorable teams in the long history of the sport. Nicknamed the “Gashouse Gang” because of their hell-bent style of play and collection of characters, the team members were proud of the moniker.

Though no one can say for certain, rumor has it shortstop Leo Durocher coined the phrase when he was heard saying about the American League, “Why, they wouldn’t even let us in that league over there.” “They think we’re just a bunch of gashousers.” This was in reference to the often ragged and filthy uniforms the Redbirds would play in. The term “gas house” referred to plants that were used to generate town gas for lighting and cooking from coal.

The St. Louis Cardinals-Dizzy Dean

The most famous characters on the team were Dizzy Dean and the irascible Leo Durocher, who came over to the team in a trade with Cincinnati prior to the season. Dizzy Dean had been raised in rural poverty in Arkansas. His wonderful sense of humor and positive approach to things was refreshing and certainly needed on the sports scene during the “Great Depression.” The media loved his down-home stories and he quickly became the media darling with Babe Ruth fading from the limelight, this and the fact that he was an outstanding pitcher.

The St. Louis Cardinals-Hall of Famers

Just how good were the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals ? They would field four future Hall of Famer’s in Dizzy Dean, Joe Medwick, Frankie Frisch, and Leo Durocher, who would enter the Hall as a manger. With the Cardinals winning the World Series in 1926 and 1931 the “Gashouse Gang” had big shoes to fill. Branch Rickey, possibly the best general manager baseball ever had, pulled off the trade for Durocher after their starting shortstop Charley Gelbert shot himself in the leg in a hunting accident during the off-season. Part of the trade was sending pitcher Paul Derringer to Cincinnati, who would go on to be one of the top pitchers of his era. Ultimately this would be considered one of the few mistakes Rickey made as a GM.

Unique to the 1934 season was Dizzy Dean’s thirty-win season, the last one pitched by a National League pitcher. Manager and third baseman Frankie Frisch led his band of misfits against the defending World Series champions New York Giants team in a hot pennant race won by the Cardinals on the last weekend of the season. They would now face a powerful Detroit Tigers team in the World Series.

The St. Louis Cardinals-the World Series

The 1934 Detroit Tigers lineup included future Hall of Fame players Hank Greenberg, Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer. The stars for the Cardinals in the series would prove to be Joe Medwick who batted .379 with 2 hrs and 5 RBIs, and the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Paul, who combined for an ERA 1.43, 28 strikeouts and all four victories for the Cardinals. The St. Louis Cardinals won the series 4-3 for their third World Series title in eight years. The first World Series won by the St. Louis National League franchise was in 1926 when the great Rogers Hornsby played and managed for the Cardinals.

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