News, Notes and Historical Information on the St. Louis Cardinals
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Cardnals assistant general manager John Mozeliak hopes to land the recently vacated general manager’s job for the Cincinnati Reds. General manager Walt Jocketty has endorsed Moseliaz for the job but he looks like he might be on the outside looking in. There’s speculation that either Jim Beattie or Twins assistant GM Wayne Krivsky will get the job.
This isn’t a surprise to Cardinals’ fans, but second base and left field are up for grabs. Matthew Leach reports that So Taguchi probably will go into the spring season with the left field spot his to lose, while Junior Spivey, who’s had some solid seasons but has the “injury prone” tag, is the front runner for the second base job.
Regardless of who wins the two position battles, the more important factor in the Cardinal’s success will be Scott Rolen coming back and playing like he did in 2004. That by itself would be a huge boost.
It’s almost dissappointing that I’m beginning my discussion on the 1926 Cardinals with second baseman Roger Hornsby. While he still had a few good seasons left in the tank, Hornsby was near the end of a fantastic career when the Cardinals finally won their first World Series. Just the year before, in 1925, Hornsby won his sixth consecutive batting title (which I believe is still a National League record) by hitting .403. On top of that, he led the league in RBIS (143) and homeruns (39) to win the second triple crown of his career.
Similar to players like Ty Cobb, it’s hard to determine which season was Hornsby’s best. In 1922, he won the triple crown and hit a career best 42 homeruns. In 1924, he hit a career high .424 and also set a career high with a .507 OBP. And then in 1925, his third season above the .400 mark, he set career highs in slugging (.756) and OPS (1.245). In 1925, Hornsby also took over the managerial reigns from Branch Rickey part way through the season so it’s fitting that the Cardinals won it all in Hornsby’s first full season as skipper.
1926 was definitely an off year for Hornsby. For the first time nine years, Hornsby wasn’t in the top four in hitting. His OPS+ of 124 was his lowest season total ever unless you count his rookie season (1915) when he logged only 57 at bats. It was also the first time since 1915 that Hornsby didn’t lead the Cardinals in OPS. Ironically, even in this off year, Hornsby finished eight in the National League in runs (96) and sixth in RBIs (93).
Despite the Cardinals winning the World Series, Hornsby’s story doesn’t have a happy ending with the Cardinals. In December of 1926, the Cardinals traded Hornsby to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring. Ring went 0-4 in 27 innings for the Cardinals in 1927 and was traded after the season but Frisch was a major player on both the 1931 and 1934 World Series championship teams and managed the team from 1933 through 1938.
Hornsby wasn’t quite done putting up great numbers after being traded by the Cardinals. He had a great 1927 season for the Giants (league leading OPS+ of 175 and second in hitting with .361) but was traded after the season to the Boston Braves. In 1928 he won his seventh and final batting title and notched his fourth and final season with at least an OPS+ of 200 (it was exactly 200 in 1928). Like the previous two seasons, Hornsby was again traded in the offseason, this time to the Chicago Cubs.
That 1929 season was another historic one. He was voted the MVP for the second time in his career and belted 39 homeruns. He also set a career high in runs scored with 156. He stuck with the Cubs through 1932, but after 1929, he never played more then 100 games in a season. He even made a final appearance with the Cardinals in 1932 even if it was for only 83 at bats.
Hornsby finished his career as the second greatest hitter ever with a .358 batting average. Only Ty Cobb had a higher mark. Hornsby’s OPS+ of 175 is the fifth best mark of all time and his career OBP of .434 is the eighth best mark ever. In Bill James’ Historical Baseball Abstract, Hornsby was chosen as the third greatest second baseman ever. Only Joe Morgan and Eddie Collins ranked higher but Hornsby’s 1922 season is considered as the greatest season ever by a second baseman.
Stolen Bases 3
Caught Stealing 0
Matthew Leach, who covers the St. Louis Cardinals for MLB.com, recently answered questions in his mailbag column. One reader asks about how the Cardinals will handle the fact that, with Anthony Reyes in the mix, the Cards have six starters. While on the face of things I questioned the signing of Sidney Ponson, the guy can chew up some innings. In 2003 he had a career year which looks like an anamoly, but he’s never had the Cardinals’ offense behind him.
Anthony Reyes, who’s hopefully the future ace of the team, might do well to spend a year coming out of the pen. Earl Weaver always tried to get his young pitchers work out of the pen before they were put into the rotation, and that would allow us to see what Ponson may or may not have, while getting Reyes some quality major league innings.
One writer piped in about going to a six man rotation, but I don’t see that happening. Then again, Tony LaRussa was the guy who wanted to try using three pitchers for three innings each, basically turning all of his pitchers into relievers, when he was in Oakland, so who knows.
My name is Jeff Matthews, and this is my St. Louis Cardinals Blog. While I’m not extremely happy with some of the moves the Cardinals made this offseason, I still think they have as good of a chance of winning the World Series in 2006 then they have the past couple of years. One of my tasks will be to document this race.
The other thing I’ll be writing about is a love of mine, baseball history. Fortunately, the St. Louis Cardinals have a rich history and I shouldn’t run out of topics too soon. The name of this blog comes from the nickname of the 1930s Cardinals teams. Two of those teams won World Series and both of those World Series went seven games. While I’ll definitely spend some time on the players and seasons that made up the Gas House Gang, I have another order of business to take care of this season.
Eighty years ago this season, in 1926, the St. Louis Cardinals won their first of nine World Series. Leading up to the start of the season, I’ll be doing season specific bios on the players who made up that historic team. Then in April, I’m going to document the day by day happenings of the team in a diary format. I’ll even have a little help, as Brian, the author of Tigerblog, has done this exact same thing for the 1984 Tigers and the 1935 Tigers. I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I do as we go through an entire season from 80 years ago.
I hope you’ll stop by often. I’ll do my best to provide qualtiy content in both 2006 and beyond.
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