As I sat down to write an article commending the excellent managing job done in 2009 by Memphis’ Chris Maloney, I couldn’t help but recall the last time the Redbirds were in the playoffs.
Here is a reminder just how long ago it actually was. 20-year-old Albert Pujols hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to sink Salt Lake and make Memphis the 2000 Pacific Coast League champions.
Here and now, Maloney not only did a superb job leading his club into the playoffs for the first time in nine years, but he did it while shipping players to St. Louis at a rapid pace as well as losing arguably his best hitter, starter and reliever among others via mid-season trades.
At this point, I expected to link to a series of articles I wrote prior to the season about the history of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system as well as its best managers. Specifically, I wanted to point to my Maloney article during which I highlight him being the winningest Cardinals minor league skipper in at least the last 40 years.
There was only one problem. I discovered that I only posted the team-oriented half of the series. Apparently distracted by my annual trip to spring training and everything that followed, I never got back to the top managers articles.
So I am going to fix that starting right now. To be consistent with the rest of the series, all the records mentioned and listed are through the 2008 season. I will look to do some kind of update over the upcoming winter.
With that, I am ending what has to be my longest introduction ever…
Over the 43 baseball seasons from 1966 through 2008, the St. Louis Cardinals employed at least 71 different individuals to lead their various US-based farm clubs. They managed all or parts of 295 individual seasons.
During this time, the Cardinals averaged between six and seven minor league clubs per year. Their high-water mark was eight, from 1988 through 1994, with a low of five, from 1974 through 1976 and again in 1979-1980. Their current count is seven.
Of the 71 leaders, fewer than one in four, only 14 of them precisely, managed for six or more years in the Cardinals system. They are the focus of this report.
We will look at several measures, including time in the job, number of clubs and leagues managed, won-loss percentage plus frequency of playoff participation and championships.
The data that follows is ordered by regular season winning percentage. Note that several managers’ marks have asterisks. That is due to them either taking over jobs or being replaced in-season. In a handful of cases where partial won-loss records were unavailable, the entire season’s results were credited to all managers. Any playoff results were assigned to the final skipper that season only. Finally, in any leagues with no playoffs, any regular-season first-place club is considered the post-season champion.
Here are the top St. Louis Cardinals minor league managers since 1966. The categories led by each are in bold. I will profile each of the six leaders in subsequent individual posts.
|Manager||Years||# Yrs||Cities||Lvls||Win %||Playoffs||Playoff %||Champs||Champs %|
|Joe Cunningham III||1992-94||12||7||4||0.480||2||17%||0||0%|
Three of the 14 are managers in the Cardinals system today – Maloney, DeJohn and Turco. Two others, Pitts and Rigoli, are also still under the Cardinals employ. The former is a roving instructor and the latter serves as a professional scout.