Cardinals—mighta, coulda, shoulda

. Hindsight is always 20-20…but there are plenty of situations in our life when we mighta’ve taken the chance, coulda waited, shoulda’ve done it. Same in all sports…so the Cards are no exception……some worked out well… some not so much
…As Stan Musial was winding down his fabulous career…. before going on…. let’s take a look @ some of his stats because many of you never had the chance to see “the MAN” perform.In his career he batted .331 and won 7 batting championships. When he retired, he held 17 MLB batting records, 29 NL records & 9 All-Star records. He STILL… after almost 60 years.. holds record for playing in the most consecutive All-Star Games(24), NL record for most years (17) & most consecutive years (16) batting .300 or better. He still holds NL marks for most seasons leading the league in runs scored (5), in triples (5) and in fewest strikeouts (4). And…he was NEVER ejected in any professional game!! He retired in 1963 at 42 years old. Sooo… the Cards shoulda been looking for a replacement for him…and they were…. In 1962, the Cards obtained Minnie Minoso from the CWS. He had batted over .300 eight different years in the AL but..he was 36 years old when the Cards got him in 1962. He never got started here…he was set back further when he injured himself seriously running into the outfield wall (btw.. that brought on the padded walls)….he batted only .196 and didn’t last even a year prior to being shipped off to Washington. As the Cards continued to prepare for Stan’s departure, they turned next to Charley James, a local boy from WG. James batted .276 in late 1962, in 1963 he batted .268. When he struggled in the first 40 games of 1964 with a .223 average the Cards shoulda looked elsewhere…. and they did. The Cards traded Ernie Broglio, OF Doug Clemens & LHP Bobby Shantz to the Cubs for Lou Brock, Jack Spring & Paul Toth. At the time, it seemed to be a rather even swap…Broglio had won 60 games from 1960-63 and was thought to be a good #2 or #3 starter. Brock was fast but batted only .263 & .258 in the 2 previous years. They were the 2 key players and the other 4 players had short, nondescript careers after the trade. Even the Cardinals biggest hopes mighta been that he’d be a good, competent player for a few years. However, after the trade, Broglio, who was 28 when traded, held a 7-19 in 2+ years. Meanwhile, Brock played 15+ years with the Cards. He was a very important element of the 64, 67, 68 Cards championship teams. Known for his speed (led NL in SB-8x)His lifetime career batting mark was .293. In his 3 World Series combined, he batted .393. He was elected to the HOF in 1985 with almost 80% of the Writers voting for him.
…on the other side of the coin…in Feb 1972, a trade that mighta cost the Cardinals some pennants in the 70’s saw the Cards trade Steve Carlton for Rick Wise…how did that happen? Both Carlton & Rick Wise were having sour negotiations with their clubs prior to the trade. Somehow, Gussie Busch got involved in the negotiations & when Gussie got his mind set on something…that was it. The Dispute was over $5000, Carlton wanted $65,000, Cards(Gussie) offered $60,000 and Gussie wasn’t going to budge. The Cards decided to trade Carlton to Philly for Rick Wise, who also was in a salary dispute. Tim McCarver revealed last summer on a telecast that Carlton was actually driving towards meeting with the Cards to accept their offer when he heard that he was traded on the radio. Now don’t ya think, that it mighta, coulda, shoulda been common sense to call Carlton for 1 last time & indicate if he didn’t sign, he’d be traded? At the time, not many observers thought that it was one-sided. Rick Wise was a 26-year-old All-Star pitcher for the Phillies coming off a 1971 season during which he went 17-14 with a 2.88 ERA. In that same year, Carlton was 20-9, 36 starts, 18 complete games, 3.56 ERA. Most of the baseball world thought it was tit for tat….but…the future belonged totally to Carlton. He pitched for the Phils from 1972 to 1985! He won FOUR Cy Young Awards(and was in the top 4 of the Cy Young award voting in 2 other years), he led the league in– Innings Pitched 5x, strikeouts 5x, complete games 3x, unbelievably he had 30 complete games in 1972.Carlton is only one of 4 pitchers to pile up 4000 strikeouts in their career. He was inducted into the HOF on his 1st possible ballot. Wise pitched for the Cards for 2 years and won 16 games each year. The Kicker to all of this…when each man arrived at their new team in 1972, both teams awarded their new pitcher that $65,000 salary that they had refused to their original player… soooo…. maybe the Cards Shoulda taken a deep breath! Carlton led the Phillies to 6 post season trips, 2 World Series & 1 WS Title. On the other hand, in the 1970’s, the Cards made zero trips to the post season and actually had 4 years below .500….ugh!!
…then there are those guys that shoulda been a keeper but they became a mighta-been keeper. JD Drew coulda fit into that case. Drew came out of Florida State owning several collegiate batting records & accolades. Drew became the first player in college baseball history to hit 30 HR and steal 30 bases in the same season. His recorded a batting average of .455 and OB% of .604 clip through 233 at-bats. Drew also became just the 3rd player to record a Triple-100 college season, topping 100 hits, 100 runs and 100 RBI. He signed with Scott Boras to represent him. Boras claimed prior to the 1997 amateur draft that he was expecting a $10m signing for him. As a result the Tigers passed on him. Philadelphia was still very apprehensive about Boras & his demands but drafted him anyway. The Phils offered $3m+ which was rejected by Boras. Then Boras, using the word “amateur” to his advantage, had Drew play in an independent professional league(St Paul Saints) for the season. Possibly, this was the beginning for Drew of others disliking him. When Drew pounded the Saints league @ .341 clip, he kept the attention of the MLB executives. In 1998, Drew was again drafted in the 1st round-5th by the Cardinals. His $7 million deal put him up on a high pedestal with extremely high fan expectations. In 1998, the Cards brought him up for a “cup of coffee”…btw…to take the pressure off of his debut, Tony LaRussa let him bat on the night that Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. No one would notice this rookie kid on that night..and they didn’t! He played the next 5 seasons for the Cardinals. As a Cardinal he never played more than 136 games in a season—often missing games due to injury & LaRussa’s platooning system and.. seemingly.. his frustration with him. Many fans still think that he shoulda been better. He DID miss several games due to injuries, despite running with good speed—to some,he didn’t appear to be hustling (I think because he didn’t pump his arms hard enough while running), to some because of his gait, he seemed lazy. It seemed, to some, that his production never matched the hype…that huge hype wasn’t formed by him but by the same people(the writers) who criticized him later. Further, Drew was shy, rather quiet not the outgoing, easy to interview type of guy…it just wasn’t his personality. Sooo… people didn’t warm up to him in that way. I’m not saying that he’s headed to Cooperstown but he was better than most realize. If he had played his entire 14 year career with the Cards and finished with the exact same batting numbers at retirement, JD Drew would be #4 in HR, #8 in WAR, #4 in BB, #9 in runs, #10 in RBI, #10 in OPS, #10 in RBI in the Cardinals career record book! If he mighta, coulda, shoulda had posted all those same numbers with the Cards, he would be viewed In an entirely different “take” from Cards fans. I know that there are many views on JD Drew….pls feel free to voice them.

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