I originally had a different idea here, examining possible free agent relievers to add to the the team, but Mo went out and grabbed Matt Belisle, so that left me scrambling, then a random thought popped into my head, and I’m running with it.
Basically, if all Cardinals players from the past showed up in free agency in the middle of their prime years, which single one of them would you sign?
BUT….There are two rules:
1)You have to factor in money. For example, if Bob Gibson were available today, he’d be worth a ton, and the Yankees would likely snatch him up. Same for Stan Musial. As is, our roster is pretty much set, so we’ve spent most of what we had planned to spend, other teams haven’t. So the player we sign will be relatively cheap.
2) The player has to fit our current needs. Our lineup is pretty much set, as is our bullpen. Where I see a need is possibly another starter as we have too many injury concerns. Having another back end starter who would be consistent but wouldn’t break the bank is what I’d look for. After all, this starter is likely a placeholder for a prospect coming through the pipeline…(Alexander Reyes…drool…though he’s admittedly one of the farthest down the line, his potential excites me) With that in mind, it’s time to take a journey through the annals of Cardinals history. Keep in mind though I’m not as much of an expert on Cardinals history as other bloggers, so I’ll probably miss someone.
Note: I didn’t weight seasons as I’m not a mathematician. Far from it in fact. I cannot devise formulas or anything like that. I was, truth be told, an English guy in college. I did end up with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, but that “Science” was Technical Writing. (And yes I make my share of grammatical errors, but after teaching English all day, I really don’t want to double-check every word or comma.)
Anyways, the two best candidates I can come up with that fit my criteria are:
Larry Jackson, who pitched for us from 1955 to 1962. Tossing out 1956, when he pitched mainly out of the bullpen, he averaged 14 wins and 12 losses in that span, (total record of 99 wins and 84 losses in those seven years) with an ERA of 3.68. His WHIP during that period was 1.297. He was a pretty solid pitcher for us, nothing spectacular. He had some good years for the Cubs (boo!) and the Phillies after he left us, including a 2nd place finish for the Cy Young award, but we’re only focused on the Cardinal years. Given his stats during those years, he’d fill up a back end slot well enough, and not cost too much as those years were in the first part of his career and gave no indication of the better years to come.
Bob Forsch, who spent most of his career with us before finishing up with Houston. Forsch pitched for us from 1974 to 1988. He had one year where it looks like was injured (1984) as he only pitched 52 innings that year and had a sky high ERA, so we’ll exclude that year from our totals. He had a total record of 161 wins and 120 losses in the 14 healthy years. He was never an all-star and never got any Cy Young votes (though he did win a pair of Silver Slugger awards. Apparently he was a pretty good hitting pitcher.) Over those 14 seasons Forsch averaged 12 wins and 9 losses a year, with an ERA of 3.62 and a WHIP of 1.265. Again, solid.
Both of these guys were solid and consistent. They weren’t aces, but they both had some pretty good years during their span with us, and would fill up a four or five spot in our current rotation just fine without costing too much, even in this day and age of exploding salaries.
There were some curious ones out there, like Max Lanier. He had some really good years during the World War II years, and those were his best years. How much of that was due to lesser competition as many players were off fighting, we’ll never know. The same can be said for Mort Cooper, who also had his best years during World War II.
I know I missed somebody. Heck I probably missed 15 somebodies. Feel free to let me know in the comments!
As always, thanks for reading.