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Thursday, January 30, 2014

RetroSimba: Rick Sutcliffe symbolized sad state of Cardinals in 1994

and of ESPN 1998–present.

Rick Sutcliffe is, by all accounts, a smart and personable man who had a first-rate career as a pitcher in the major leagues. But his year with the Cardinals reflects how distressed the proud franchise had become in the final years of Anheuser-Busch ownership.

Twenty years ago, when St. Louis signed Sutcliffe to a minor-league contract with the hope he could earn a spot in their rotation, it was a sure sign of the desperate state of the Cardinals’ starting pitching.

Sutcliffe had injured a knee in 1993 while with the Orioles and posted a 5.66 ERA in 28 starts. On the basis of that performance, he should have been finished as a big-league pitcher.

Yet, after starting pitcher Donovan Osborne underwent shoulder surgery, sidelining him for the 1994 season, the Cardinals, seeking an inexpensive alternative, signed Sutcliffe to a minor-league contract on Jan. 31, 1994, and invited him to spring training as a non-roster pitcher.

“I have no doubt I can still pitch,” Sutcliffe told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Pitching coach Joe Coleman: “With his breaking ball and pitching in our ballpark, he could be effective.”

General manager Dal Maxvill: “The reports we have are his arm is in good shape and he was throwing the ball well at the end of the (1993) season.”

...Common sense indicated the Cardinals, owned by an increasingly disinterested Anheuser-Busch, were more focused on expense savings than they were in winning championships.

“That move showed me they’re not going after somebody who’s in the top of his prime,” candid Cardinals pitcher Bob Tewksbury said to the Post-Dispatch after Sutcliffe’s signing.

Former Cardinals third baseman Terry Pendleton told the St. Petersburg Times: “They’re saving money. They’re not trying to win anything.”

Repoz Posted: January 30, 2014 at 06:43 AM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, history

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   1. BDC Posted: January 30, 2014 at 09:23 AM (#4648511)
Past-tense headlines creep me out. I'm glad to learn Sutcliffe is alive :)
   2. deputydrew Posted: January 30, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4648528)
When I think of Sutcliffe, I think of his amazing 1984 season with the Cubs (16-1, right?) and how he seemed to scoop his glove hand on the front of his delivery. It was such a distinctive look to me as a kid and it made it look almost like he was in slow motion. I can easily imagine how that delivery was advantageous, as it could distract the hitter or affect his timing. I'm not sure if he deserved the Cy Young over Gooden (or others, perhaps), but Stucliffe was quite the story that summer.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4648540)
I still chuckle at Cards fans talking about "the bad times". The Cards were 8 games under .500 in 1994, had one terrible season in 1995, then won the division in 1996. I don't know how those fans were able to survive!

A-B did let payroll sink, but another big factor was the Cards did not produce any pitching in the mid-90s. Donovan Osborne couldn't stay healthy, Arocha was a bust, Allen Watson wasn't very good. When they finally won the division in '96 the rotation was headlined by high priced talent Andy Benes and Todd Stottlemyre.

   4. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4648579)
I still chuckle at Cards fans talking about "the bad times".

This. Allow me to dig up something from an old thread:

Fun fact: The last time the Cardinals had three consecutive losing seasons was 1954-56.

The last time they had four in a row was over a century ago.
   5. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4648613)
That same year, the Yankees gave 19 starts and 120 innings to Terry Mulholland, who finished with basically the same ERA as Sutcliffe. Mulholland's ERA+ was 71 and Sutcliffe's was 64.
   6. zonk Posted: January 30, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4648628)
That same year, the Yankees gave 19 starts and 120 innings to Terry Mulholland, who finished with basically the same ERA as Sutcliffe. Mulholland's ERA+ was 71 and Sutcliffe's was 64.


Heh...

The #2 starter on the Cubs - he actually led the team in starts - was Willie Banks (2nd most starts, 78 ERA+). They also gave 15 starts to Mike Morgan (2-10, ERA+ of 63).... Oh, and it was the last year of the Jose Guzman can replace Greg Maddux! debacle (4 starts, ERA+ of 46).

Yeah... cry. me. a. river.

EDIT: The infamous Anthony Young was basically the #3 starter - but he wasn't half bad (ERA+ of 107 over 19 starts).
   7. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 30, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4648633)
Yeah, but the Yankees were on a 100-win pace.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4648651)
That same year, the Yankees gave 19 starts and 120 innings to Terry Mulholland,


Who they were paying $3.3 mill for, and gave up 3 prospects for.
   9. AROM Posted: January 30, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4648695)
Sutcliffe was done in 1994 (6.52 ERA, FIP must have been astronomical given his high HR rate and more walks than K). He wasn't good in 1993 with the Orioles either. In 1992 with the Orioles he was the definitive innings eater. ERA+ was only 89, but he made 36 starts and pitched 237 innings. He had some value in that every start he made was one that didn't have to go to Bob Milacki, or Jose Mesa, or someone in AAA.

“That move showed me they’re not going after somebody who’s in the top of his prime,” candid Cardinals pitcher Bob Tewksbury said to the Post-Dispatch after Sutcliffe’s signing.


Sure it didn't work out, but taking a flyer on a cheap, older pitcher hoping he's got something left in the tank is something all teams do. The Cardinals not going after the likes of say, Doug Drabek or David Cone at the time might be telling, but even if they sign a star in his prime you still need to round out the staff.

"Signing an old middle reliever like Koji Uehara instead of a closer in his prime shows me the Red Sox are just trying to save money, not trying to win anything"

-Made up quote but coming off the 2012 season, I'm sure you can find some pessimistic Red Sox fans saying much the same thing.
   10. zonk Posted: January 30, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4648699)
Who they were paying $3.3 mill for, and gave up 3 prospects for.


This would be a fun little query I'm trying to play on BBREF.... Is there any player for whom you could produce a full starting 9 when considering players he was traded for... Was looking at some of the obvious candidates -- Mike Morgan doesn't get very far... Edwin Jackson gets you a full - and pretty darn good - OF and a damn fine rotation.

Octavio Dotel gets you a pretty decent OF (Roger Cedeno, Carlos Beltran, Derek Bell, COlby Rasmus), a catcher (John Buck), a 2B/3B (Mark Teahan), a 1B (one of the spare OFs or Andrew Lambo), a rotation of some sort (Mike Hampton, James MacDonald, Kyle Davies).

John Buck - you can actually build nearly a full roster... a really good rotation, a pretty good IF/OF (including prospects), and even some utility guys... short in the bullpen though.

C Travis D'Arnaud/Jeff Mathis/Josh Thole/Mike Nickeas
1B Pick a spare
2B Dilson Herrera/Mark Teahan/Emilio Bonfacio
SS Jose Reyes/Yunel Escobar/Adeiny Hechavarria
3B Mark Teahan/Emilio Bonafacio
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Marlon Byrd
OF Jake Marisnik/Wuilmer Becerra
SP RA DIckey
SP Josh Johnson
SP Mark Buehrle
SP Henderson Alvarez
SP Noah Syndegaard
SP Justin Nicolino
RP Octavio DOtel

Just playing around with some well-traveled players and permutations -- hard to beat the John Buck Swaps...
   11. AROM Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4648714)
You're counting all players he was traded with and for - Buck was traded to the Jays along with Johnson/Buehrle, then traded to the Mets for Dickey.
   12. zonk Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4648717)
You're counting all players he was traded with and for - Buck was traded to the Jays along with Johnson/Buehrle, then traded to the Mets for Dickey.


I am - I started by just sticking with the "for", even if a 5 player deal and the guy in question was just a throw-in, but I was coming up surprisingly short so I expanded it... I think if I peeled back the Buck layers and limited it to guys "going the other way", I might still be able to fill a starting 9... but this way was more fun.
   13. AROM Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4648718)
Team Buck might be hard to top though. I thought of team Rickey! since he moved around so much, but you don't get all that much.

SP Rijo
OF Polonia, Javier
A bunch of bullpen arms

Not traded as much as I thought, most of his movement was free agency.
   14. AROM Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4648721)
Joe Carter's trade team is very star powered:

P Sutcliffe
C S Alomar
1b McGriff
2b R Alomar
SS Fernandez
3B Baerga
OF Mel Hall
   15. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4648722)
Team Traded-For-Doyle-Alexander has all kinds of pitching depth, but not too many position players. Frank Robinson and John Smoltz are both on the team, and Smoltz's career ended 53 years after Robinson's began.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4648728)
On a phone so cant do much....but sheffield is a good bunch of guys.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4648747)
If you cheat a little, you can get a full lineup just with guys Dick Allen was traded for. And unlike Buck, he was the guy teams were trading for.

C - Jim Essian
1B - Tim McCarver
2B - Ted Sizemore
SS - Steve Huntz
3B - Barry Bonnell
OF - Curt Flood (that's the cheating part, since Flood didn't report, thus allowing...
OF - Willie Montanez to fill in. Though you could move Essian here, Montanez to Flood's spot and catch Bob Stinson.
OF - Byron Browne
SP - Tommy John
RP - Joe Hoerner
   18. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4648757)
Bobby Bonds would be pretty good:

Bobby Murcer
Mickey Rivers
Brian Downing
Claudell Washington
Jerry Mumphrey
Rusty Torres
Larvell Blanks

John Denny
Ed Figueroa
Jim Kern

I don't know where the hell you could play everybody, though--too many outfielders.

(but hey, Murcer came up as a SS)
   19. AROM Posted: January 30, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4648793)
Downing would be the catcher, in fact was a catcher when the trade happened.
   20. Pooty Lederhosen Posted: January 30, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4648811)
If you cheat a little, you can get a full lineup just with guys Dick Allen was traded for. And unlike Buck, he was the guy teams were trading for.

OF - Willie Montanez to fill in. Though you could move Essian here, Montanez to Flood's spot and catch Bob Stinson.


I still hate Thelonious Monster.
   21. A Cubs fan in Philly Posted: January 30, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4648878)
The "All-Traded For Todd Zeile" Team is really quite something. And it's got both positional flexibility and minor-league depth.

C Charles Johnson
1B Ross Gload (OF)
2B Jose Santo (3B, never made the majors)
SS Lou Collier (OF)
3B Bobby Bonilla (OF/1B)
OF Gary Sheffield (3B/SS)
OF Jeromy Burnitz
OF Alex Ochoa
DH Jim Eisenreich (OF/1B)
UT Mark Sweeney (OF/1B)

SP Mike Morgan
SP Garrett Stephenson
SP Jeff D'Amico
SP Calvin Maduro
RP Craig House
RP Manuel Barrios

And still stashed in the minors...
C/1B Francisco Morales (never made the majors)
OF/1B/3B Paul Torres (never made the majors)
SP Daniel DeYoung (never made the majors)

Only fitting, since as a 3B/1B/C/OF/P himself, Zeile could nearly make up an entire team on his own.
   22. A Cubs fan in Philly Posted: January 30, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4648904)
The "All-Traded For Willie Montanez" Team would be pretty sound, as long as the manager could convince Milner, Ashford, Grieve, and Miller to take up catching and/or pitching in relief...

1B Mike Jorgensen (OF)
2B Marty Perez (3B)
3B Darrell Evans (1B)
SS Nelson Norman
OF Al Oliver (1B)
OF Garry Maddox
OF Ken Henderson
UT Tony Phillips (OF/2B/3B/SS)

BE John Milner (1B/OF)
BE Tucker Ashford (3B)
BE Tom Grieve (OF)
BE Eddie Miller (OF)

SP Bert Blyleven
SP John Matlack
SP Tommy Boggs
SP/RP Ed Lynch
SP/RP Joe Carroll (never made the majors)
RP Adrian Devine
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4648905)
Brad Ausmus

C John Flaherty
1B Mitch Meluskey
2B Chris Gomez
SS Orlando Miller
3B
LF
CF Brian Hunter
RF Roger Cedeno
DH Paul Bako

SP Bruce Hurst
SP Greg Harris
SP Chris Holt
SP Brian Powell

RP Doug Brocail
RP Todd Jones
RP Dean Crow

   24. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 30, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4648911)
The "All-Traded For Willie Montanez" Team would be pretty sound
You missed this guy.
   25. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4648913)
Richie Sexson

C Chad Moeller
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Junior Spivey
SS Marco Scutaro
3B Craig Counsell

SP Jorge de la Rosa
SP Chris Capuano
SP Jason Bere
SP Steve Woodard

RP Bob Wickman

No outfielders though.

Don Larsen
C Gus Triandos
1B Kent Hadley
2B Willy Miranda
SS Joe DeMaestri
3B Bob Saverine
LF Wes Covington
CF Gene Woodling
RF Roger Maris

Bench: C Hal Smith, 1B Bob Farley, IF Don Leppert, IF Kal Segrist, OF Stan Johnson

SP Harry Byrd
SP Bob Shaw
SP Gerry Staley
SP Jim McDonald

RP Bill Miller
RP Dom Zanni
RP Verle Tiefenthaler
RP Eddie Fisher
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4648922)
Bert Blyleven

C Gary Alexander
1B Paul Sorrento
2B Jay Bell
SS Roy Smalley
3B Mike Cubbage
LF John Milner
CF
RF Jim Weaver

SP Bill Singer
SP Bob Owchinko
SP Jim Gideon

RP Curt Wardle
RP Mike Cook
RP Rafael Vazquez
RP Victor Cruz

If you include everyone from that 4-team trade, then Al Oliver can play CF and Willie Montanez can be on the team (as well as others!)
   27. God Posted: January 30, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4648930)
With Dick Littlefield, you can fill out a whole lineup with guys who had long big league careers:

C Sherm Lollar
1B Whitey Lockman
2B Jackie Robinson
3B Ray Jablonski
SS Al Dark
LF Cal Abrams
CF Bill Virdon
RF Jim Delsing

SP Gene Bearden
SP Bob Cain
SP Don Liddle
SP Ray Scarborough
   28. God Posted: January 30, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4648937)
The Danny Haren team has a great starting rotation, one superstar hitter, and nothing else:

1B Chris Carter
LF Carlos Gonzalez
SP Mark Mulder
SP Patrick Corbin
SP Joe Saunders
SP Tyler Skaggs
SP Brett Anderson
SP Dana Eveland
SP Greg Smith


The Eric Plunk team has the highest average WAR:
LF Rickey Henderson
CF Rickey Henderson again
RP Doug Jones
...and that's it.
   29. God Posted: January 30, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4648943)
In playing around with Baseball-Reference today, one weird thing I never noticed before is how many great pitchers go by their middle name:

Nolan Ryan
Roger Clemens
Kevin Brown
Roy Halladay
Tom Seaver
Bert Blyleven
Kevin Appier
Zack Greinke
   30. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4648944)
Tommy Helms
C
1B
2B Joe Morgan
SS Denis Menke
3B
LF Ed Armbrister
CF Cesar Geronimo
RF Tony Armas
DH Mitchell Page

SP Jack Billingham
SP Doc Medich
SP Rick Langford
SP Dave Giusti
RP Doug Bair
   31. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 30, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4649045)
Rick Sutcliffe is, by all accounts, a smart and personable man


?!
   32. bjhanke Posted: January 30, 2014 at 09:13 PM (#4649079)
The ownership story in STL in the early 1990s is a bit more complex the just the results. What had happened was that the Gussie Busch who bought the Cardinals in 1954 had died, and the team had passed into the hands of his son, the next Gussie Busch in line (I can't keep track of which one was Gussie Jr. or III, or IV, but the numbers are in that range). And make no mistake, although the accountants might have said that the team was owned by the beer company, everyone knew that Gussie Busch had treated it as his personal property. Well, the son didn't seem to care about baseball at all. He didn't go to the games, or get involved. All he seemed to want was for it to show a profit every year, which MLB teams can't do - as investments, they're like stocks. You buy them and wait for the price to go up, then sell. Yearly operations aren't expected to make profits, although I don't suppose anyone complains too hard if they do.

In any case, I am understating it a bit. The new Gussie treated the team with what looked to me as almost jealousy. It was as if he thought he'd competed with the team for his father's affection, and lost. He basically got rid of it as soon as he could find a man he knew and liked to sell the team to for less than it was really worth. That turned out to be Bill DeWitt, so it worked out OK for us here in STL. Regardless of my cheap pop psychology, the "rough spot" for the Cards is directly related to which Gussie Busch owned the team. - Brock Hanke
   33. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM (#4649100)
When I think of Sutcliffe, I think of his amazing 1984 season with the Cubs (16-1, right?) and how he seemed to scoop his glove hand on the front of his delivery. It was such a distinctive look to me as a kid and it made it look almost like he was in slow motion. I can easily imagine how that delivery was advantageous, as it could distract the hitter or affect his timing.

It was his throwing hand: he'd scoop it way up behind him while the glove hand went straight up & out front; it looked like he was trying to hail a cab while scratching an itch in the middle of his back.
   34. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:59 PM (#4649114)
it looked like he was trying to hail a cab while scratching an itch in the middle of his back.

almost as colorful as my (very non-PC) description of Sid Fernandez's delivery
"like a left-handed faggot reaching into his purse"
   35. Cabbage Posted: January 30, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4649115)
In playing around with Baseball-Reference today, one weird thing I never noticed before is how many great pitchers go by their middle name:

Don't forget fireballing relief pitcher Come At Me Brah Farnsworth
   36. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 31, 2014 at 12:53 AM (#4649139)
Gene Woodling has everything but a second baseman

C Al Lopez
1B Dick Kryhoski
2B
SS Billy Hunter
3B Wally Westlake (usually an outfielder, but played 34 games at 3b)
LF Jim Fridley
CF Larry Doby
RF Dave Pope

P Bob Turley
P Don Larsen
P Bob Chesnes
P Don Ferrarese
P Mike Blyzka

Plus Darrell Johnson, if you need a manager
   37. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 31, 2014 at 07:58 AM (#4649160)
Randy Johnson has a nice pitching staff, but not much in the way of position players:

C: Dioner Navarro
2B/3B: Carlos Guillen
SS: Alberto Gonzalez

SP: Mark Langston
SP: Freddy Garcia
SP: Javier Vazquez
SP: John Halama
SP: Ross Ohlendorf
RP: Luis Vizcaino
   38. Walt Davis Posted: January 31, 2014 at 11:36 PM (#4649706)
If you ever need a team with about 19 Cs on it, the Brad Ausmus transaction team is what you're looking for.

ooh ... if we are allowing everybody in the transaction, the Ken Holtzman team is pretty solid. Awesome OF, pretty awesome C duo, a good rotation and a solid bullpen. We'll have to dig up some IF but criminy.

C -- Elrod Hendricks & Rick Dempsey
LF -- Don Baylor
CF -- Rick Monday
RF -- Reggie Jackson
SP -- Doyle Alexander
SP -- Mike Torrez
SP -- Scott McGregor
SP -- Rudy May
SP -- Paul Mitchell
RP -- Grant Jackson
RP -- Ron Davis
RP -- Tippy Martinez

Ron Davis as the PTBNL for Holtzman to come back to the Cubs and put up an ERA over 6 was not one of the Cubs' brighter moves.
   39. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 01, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4649892)
Harry Chiti

C Harry Chiti

(OK, OK, he was involved in other trades, too, but that would spoil the joke, wouldn't it?)

Fun facts: Chiti was a malor-leaguer at 17 and an original Met.
   40. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 01, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4649928)
Rick Sutcliffe tends to symbolize the sad state of a lot of things

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