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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals number 12s on 12/12/12

With the special day that is upon us, December 12, 2012, I decided to take a quick look at some of the notables to have worn the jersey for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The most recent number 12 is, of course, Lance Berkman. The long-time Houston Astros star arrived in St. Louis on the rebound after a mid-season 2010 trade to the Yankees that led nowhere. Assigned to take his balky knees to right field in 2011, the switch-hitter became the National League Comeback Player of the Year, being one of the leaders of the Cardinals’ World Championship run. The injuries returned in 2012, however, as Berkman played in just 32 games. Turning 37 in the spring, the Houston resident is again a free agent and may retire.

During the Tony La Russa years, a series of middle infielders often donned number 12. It began with Luis Alicea in his return to the Cardinals in 1996, followed by long-time Cubs star Shawon Dunston in 2000. Late in his first of two stints as a Cardinal, Miguel Cairo shifted to number 12 in 2003.

Mark Grudzielanek became number 12 in his single season manning second base in 2005. The next year, scrappy infielder and reserve pitcher Aaron Miles picked up the number, also wearing it in his second tour of duty with the club in 2010.

Going back into time by decade, the most notable Cardinals number 12 in the 1980s had to be Tom Lawless. Who can forget the light-hitting infielder’s improbable game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series?  Lawless had batted .080 that season and ended his major league career with just two regular-season long balls.

In 1972, the Cards traded their then-current number 12, first baseman Joe Hague, to the Reds for outfielder Bernie Carbo. Yet to become a Red Sox star, Carbo picked up Hague’s number 12 as a Cardinal that season. Late in his career, Carbo returned to St. Louis, but did not don 12 then.

A key member of the Cardinals teams from 1959 through 1965 was slick-fielding first baseman Bill White, another prominent number 12. He was dealt to Philadelphia after the 1965 season before returning to St. Louis to conclude his career in 1969. One of the players heading the other way in the Phillies deal, Alex Johnson, became the new #12. White later spent five years as National League president and is a long-time television commentator.

Following the firing of manager Marty Marion in late 1951, the Cards acquired fiery second baseman Eddie Stanky from the Giants and immediately named the 35-year-old their manager. After winning seasons in 1952 and 1953, the 1954 club dropped to 10 games below .500 and Stanky was fired 36 games into the 1955 season. He later returned to St. Louis as director of player personnel from 1958 through 1964.

First baseman-outfielder Johnny Hopp was a stalwart for the Cardinals through the World War II years. He wore number 12 from 1940 until he was dealt to the Braves prior to the 1946 season, where he was reunited with former St. Louis manager Billy Southworth. Hopp’s best season was 1944, when he batted .336 with 11 home runs and 72 RBI.

Gas House Gang first baseman-outfielder Ripper Collins was the first Cardinal to wear number 12 for more than one season, doing so from 1933-1936. In 1934, Collins led the NL with 35 home runs, a slugging percentage of .615 and 1.008 OPS and helped lead the Cards to the World Championship. Subsequently, his performance dropped off and he was traded to the Cubs following the 1936 season.

With number 12 now vacated by the free agent Berkman, who will wear it in 2013 and beyond?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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31 Responses to “Cardinals number 12s on 12/12/12”

  1. blingboy says:

    I wonder how Choo will work out in CF for the Walts. He’ll have a cozy field to play in, and he still has speed, but still, he’s not a center fielder. It’s O over D of course, same as us with Berkman and Theriot going into 2011. Sometimes it works out depending on how much O. In Choo’s case, leading off, its his OBP that has to hold up.

    • Brian Walton says:

      There is risk, but the Reds look like a better team today than yesterday.

    • Brian Walton says:

      ESPN tweeted this:

      “Choo has .384 OBP since ’08, 4th among hitters who played all 5 yrs in AL. Top 4: Mauer .412 Cabrera .401 Youkilis .385”

      “Reds leadoff hitters had a .254 OBP last season.”

      Higher OBP than the Greek God of Walks the last five years is pretty impressive. So would be an average year from Choo of 130 points of OBP improvement at the top of the Reds order.

      • Nutlaw says:

        Yeah, not thrilled to see this trade happen. Hopefully, he leaves after a season when his contract is up.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Even then, the Reds would receive a comp draft pick (when they offer him arbitration and he declines).

        • blingboy says:

          In 2012 Choo’s OBP when batting in the leadoff spot was .389 and Jay’s was .382.

          In 2012 Choo’s UZR/150 in RF was -16.1, Jay’s in CF was 5.2

          • Brian Walton says:

            Do you think there is a single GM in baseball who would trade Choo for Jay straight up?

            • blingboy says:

              Considering the cost differential and prospect of dealing with Boras a few months from now, yes. In fact, hell yes.

              But I understand your point, money issues aside. I’m betting Jay will outperform Choo in 2013 and the answer to your question will be quite different a year from now.

              • JumboShrimp says:

                Walt helped the Reds a lot by shedding Drew Stubbs, whose best contribution during 2012 was to induce Jon Jay to run hard into a wall.
                Stubbs is a great defender, speedy, and a horrible hitter, as Indians fans will learn to their sorrow.
                Choo is a major offensive upgrade and will have fun in Cinci’s little park.
                We lose Lohse and maybe Garcia. We gain Choate, while the Reds gain Choo and they hope a healthier Votto.
                For 2013, we may need another strong contribution from Super Pete! Thank goodness we are perennial winners who will prevail against all odds.

  2. blingboy says:

    The all-seeing, all-knowing Joe Strauss mentioned this in his chat today:

    “Barring another move, Lemmerman likely starts at Springfield. Garcia, Kozma and Jackson project at Memphis with one of the three serving a utility role. I do see potential for another move.”

    Hmmmm . . . . . . . . . . . . . would Jackson be the odd man out? Strauss also mentioned that Jackson has “secondary issues” which played a part in his Brendan Ryan treatment last September. He wouldn’t say what those issues were, of course, but still (insert more Westiedots)

    We could probably get a case of pretzels and a bag of balls for him. Our infield prospects have a way of fizzling.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    12th comment on thread 12/12/12.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Skip got traded. The Cards gain by shedding $1.5MM, while LA gains a pal for McGwire and a good team-mate for everyone.
    Clearing away Skip means Descalso gets more play at 2B. He earned it, with clutch play that helped us prevail over the Nationals. Pete Kozma can help out against southpaws. Matt Carpenter can offer competition. Exciting stuff for hard core Birds fans.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      It would be wonderful icing on the cake, if Lemmerman were to become of value. Given our weak bargaining position, it would be weird to land anyone useful out of the Dodgers. The optimistic case for Lemmerman is he had an OPS of 725 at AA, though only a pro for 2.5 seasons. He has moved up fast and an OPS above 700 is good enough for a short-stop. Eckstein’s career OPS was about 700.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        As a nice touch, when the Dodgers added Skip, they bumped Scott van Slyke off their roster. Scott jacked a 3 run bomb off the Cards during 2012, so I am glad for this revenge. More icing.

        Baseball America reported in 2011 Lemmerman has a strong arm and some compare him to Mark Loretta or Mark Grudzielanek in terms of getting the most out of his ability.

        Nice job by Mo on this trade.

        • Brian Walton says:

          BA had a much more critical review of his arm last off-season.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            We unloaded Skip’s salary on a franchise that loves to pay ball players. DeWitt is lighting a victory cigar. In September, I said Skip looked done. Mo must monitor my posts, because we were eager to move the Skipster along. Mo and I still hold Skip in very high regard for wonderful contributions to the 2011 post season, make no mistake about that. In future, Skip can pal around with Big Mac and Donnie Baseball, Tres Amigos..

            In any event, saving $1.5MM is fantastic, so we win the trade all the more if Lemmerman can even tie his own shoe laces. In 2011, BA had Lemmerman as 24th among Dodgers prospects, for this year, he tumbled to 27th place, not much change. The Cards can use Lemmerman. He supplies some SS depth at AA to supplement slick fielding Ronnie Gil. Looking forward to rooting for the Springfield team in 2013!!

            • JumboShrimp says:

              Skip was a 5th round pick, back in 2001. Its great that we can reunite him with Big Mac; pocket $1.5MM; and collect a 5th round infielder from the Dodgers. A nifty deal by Mo.

    • blingboy says:

      The article was so-so, but I haven’t heard anybody say “going Galt” in about 30 years. Makes me want to dust off my Ayn Rand novels.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      What is it Brian…………………do they want to know how big the hammer is? Do you think because their name isn’t in there, that they are above the fray? I have little interest in your local politics at present. That could change however.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Westie must be ill. Opened the barn door for a huge conspiracy thread and he punted ( I love mixed metaphors)

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