Thursday, December 20, 2007

Like Watching Chrome Rust

There really isn't much that happens in the off-season. Moves by the Cardinals are few and far between. When they do happen, as in the Edmonds trade, they provide a couple of days discussion; but eventually every angle has been covered and it's time to move on.

Pondering what to write about is like watching chrome rust - you waste a lot of time, and not much happens. That's one of the reasons why I shifted to a two post per week schedule last winter - I ran out of things to say. Which, for anyone who knows me, is almost unbelievable.

One of the sites I peruse (as you can see from the right margin) is C70 at the bat. At the tail end of the Edmonds discussions, commentors started discussing retired numbers, or more specifically, numbers that have been 'unofficially' retired. This caught my interest.

So let's talk about Cardinal Retired Numbers.

For those of you unsure which players have had their numbers retired, here they are:

1 - Ozzie Smith (HOF)
2 - Red Schoendienst (HOF)
6 - Stan Musial (HOF)
9 - Enos Slaughter (HOF)
14 - Ken Boyer
17 - Dizzy Dean (HOF)
20 - Lou Brock (HOF)
42 - Jackie Robinson (HOF)
42 - Bruce Sutter (HOF)
45 - Bob Gibson (HOF)
85 - August A 'Gussie' Busch (Owner)

Yep - all but Ken Boyer are in Cooperstown, making this a hard group to join. I think Busch is also in the hall, but I can't prove it from the HOF website.

So of the unofficial retired number list, who should we consider to join this group? (Note: I selected what I consider representative statistics for this analysis.)

1. Jim Edmonds (#15)? Played for the Cardinals 2000-2007. 3-time All-Star. Top 5 twice in MVP voting (4th in 2000 and 5th in 2004). Six Gold Gloves (2000-2005). Sliver Slugger (2004). Top 15 on team's all-time list in HR (4th), RBI (12th), and walks (7th). Reasonable case for the Hall.
Projection: Probable. As a Cardinal, he is one of the greats in the history of the club.

2. Willie McGee (#51)? Played for the Cardinals 1982-1990, 1996-1999. 1985 NL MVP. Two time batting champion (1985, 1990). 4-time All Star. Silver Slugger (1985). Three Gold Gloves (1983, 1985, 1986). Top 15 on team's all-time list in RBI (14th), Hits (11th), Total Bases (14th), and Stolen Bases (4th). Got 5% of HOF vote in 2005, 2.3% in 2006, so won't be going to the Hall unless the veteran's committee picks him up.
Projection: Possible. One of the most beloved Cardinals of the past 20 years. Other than Ozzie, the best position player on Herzog's teams in the 1980s. Had a petition drive started in his name; I think it got over 10,000 signatures, but not sure what happened to it. I have a nice T-Shirt commemorating the petition effort, though.

3. Whitey Herzog (#24)? Managed the Cardinals 1980-1990. Three NL East Division Titles, 3 NL Pennants (1982, 1985, 1987). One World Series (1982). NL Manager of the Year in 1985. 822-728 as Cardinals Manager.
Projection: Very Probable. Herzog missed getting into the Hall this year by one vote (Veteran's Committee), so he may make it in 2009. Once he's in, I imagine the team will retire his number much like Bruce Sutter's in 2006.

It's interesting that only one Cardinal manager's had his number retired (Schoendienst), and that was for his exploits as a player. Now that Billy Southworth is in the Hall, that should change.

4. Darryl Kile (#57)? Pitched for the Cardinals 2000-2002, compiling 41-24 mark. All-Star in 2000. Died tragically from a blocked artery in 2002; found in his Chicago hotel room the morning he was to start against the Cubs, June 22, 2002.
Projection: Not Likely. By all accounts he was a good man and excellent teammate, but his number would be retired more because of his tragic death and the way that galvanized the team in 2002 then for his on-field exploits as a Cardinal. Did not receive a vote for HOF in 2007.

5. Josh Hancock (#32)? Pitched for Cardinals 2006-07. 3-4 record, 1 save - your typical middle reliever. Killed in a collision on a St Louis highway April 29, 2007; was later found to be legally drunk at the time of the crash.
Projection: Not in this lifetime. An appropriate period of not issuing 32 to another player is warranted. I'd be a little bit surprised to see #32 on a Cardinal before the 2009 season. After that, someone else should wear the number. His death was untimely; but I don't think a guy who was so self-destructive in life is someone we should lionize in death by retiring his number.

Anyone else we should consider? Make your pitch in the comments.


Cardinal70 said...

I don't think Busch is in the HOF, but I could easily be mistaken. IIRC, they retired 85 on his 85th birthday to honor him.

I think Edmonds and McGee will wind up with unofficial numbers for quite some time. If Edmonds makes it to the Hall, then he might get his number retired.

24 has been worn by immortals such as Dmitri Young, Eric Davis and Bobby Bonilla (plus Rick Ankiel) since Whitey left. I'm not sure if they'd retire it or not, though they might. If they do that, though, they'll have to retire 11 when TLR goes in the Hall.

No one will wear 57 again, I don't think, but I don't think it'll go up on the wall. I think you are right on 32, that it'll be back in circulation pretty soon.

BTW, great site for Cardinal numbers and their wearers:

The Angry Rant said...

Actually LaRussa wears #10. And I think they would retire his number if/when he makes the hall; 6 Division Titles, 2 NL pennants and 1 WS victory to date is a pretty good run as manager.

If they do retire his number, won't it be fun to see him and Ozzie mingling at a future 'Cardinals Greats' function?

Cardinal70 said...

You are right--don't know why I was thinking 11. Probably the story that he took 10 because the goal was the 10th WC, so now he should switch to 11.

Oh, and one big elephant in the room that was left out. #25 for Mark McGwire.

Tom said...

Maybe McGee. Edmonds is a borderline HOF. I believe we make it too easy to be a HOF'er in Cooperstown but as far as a team retiring them, I am mostly against it.

The Angry Rant said...

I agree with your Cooperstown assessment as far as how bona fides have evolved recently (actually this discussion may merit its own post). It seems if you manage to survive long enough to get 3000 hits or 300 wins or 500 HR you're then considered one of the greats - regardless of whether you were actually great or simply hung around forever.

The function of retiring numbers should be to honor those who were great Cardinals. Not necessarily among the greats of all time, but great Cardinals. That's why Ken Boyer's number was retired. That's why McGee's SHOULD be retired. Edmonds was a great Cardinal, which is why he merits serious consideration (to my mind).

Thanks for commenting. Stop by again.

Lazar_89 said...

Jim Edmonds isn't even close to hall of fame worthy...

.286 BA
371 HR
1181 RBI
1848 Hits

And never was he the dominant player on his team, let alone the entire league...

So I can't see where you guys are getting Edmonds at "Hall Worthy," when in reality, he's not even close

Mike said...

This post wasn't about which Cardinal next deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown. It was about which recent great Cardinals should have their numbers retired by the team.

Read the post again, sounding out each word if you have to.