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DeWitt deservedly among St. Louis Sports Hall inductees

On Wednesday night, the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame inducted its 2013 class of 16 individuals. At least five of them are most closely identified by their connection to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Three are former players, including a pair that was once traded for each other. On March 17, 1969, the Cardinals dealt Hall of Fame first baseman Orlando Cepeda to the Atlanta Braves for a future Hall of Famer, Joe Torre. Of course, Torre went on to great success as the manager of the New York Yankees.

The other player is one of my favorites from the 1970’s, Keith Hernandez. Due to his off-field issues, Hernandez was dealt to the Mets by Whitey Herzog in 1983 for a pair of pitchers, Rick Ownbey and Neil Allen. Seeing Hernandez lead the Mets to the 1986 World title is still too much for me to take. In today’s world, Hernandez would have received help, not banishment. Now, he is a member of the Mets television broadcasting team.

One of the off-the-field Hall inductees is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Rick Hummel. The highly-respected writer is the 2006 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, given by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to their very best. Though not officially members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Spink Award winners are permanently recognized in Cooperstown.

The final Cardinals-related inductee is team Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. As the principal of the ownership group that purchased the Cardinals in 1996, DeWitt has been the organization’s guiding force through a long period of success. Even as key contributors like Walt Jocketty and Tony La Russa moved on, DeWitt made smart changes and continues to lead his group to prosperity.

I recall some who derided the arrival of the DeWitt group, noting the St. Louis native lives in Cincinnati. Others attacked his financial intentions, declaring him to be a carpetbagger with his sole intent to secure a five-year tax break, then dump the team.

Some writers challenged his business plan and financial acumen, mocking him as “DeWallet,” while essentially calling him cheap. They derided his blueprint to build organizational strength from within, mocking the prospects he refused to allow to be traded for tired veterans as “Faberge eggs”.

Those critics now line up to praise DeWitt, as the Cardinals consistent success has muffled their ill-advised complaints over and over again. Nine division titles, two Wild Cards, four National League pennants and two World Championships speak loudest.

I appreciate the fact that Gussie Busch saved the Cardinals from potentially being moved in 1953 and provided long-term financial stability. Yet unlike Busch, DeWitt has not made rash decisions based on emotion that ultimately hurt the organization.

Personally, I don’t think any owner should have a “retired number,” but I firmly believe that DeWitt has earned a place alongside Busch and Sam Breadon as the most important owners in team history.

I congratulate Bill DeWitt Jr. and the other St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

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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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17 Responses to “DeWitt deservedly among St. Louis Sports Hall inductees”

  1. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    You should really investigate the county loan Brian. Spare me the details.

  2. Nutlaw says:

    So while I don’t know how excited I am about Bourjos with Taveras looming, losing Freese and Salas doesn’t really hurt and Grichuk seems interesting.

    I’m reading that Jay should make for a platoon candidate with Bourjos or a solid fourth outfielder, but I think that he ends up as the fifth outfielder unless Adams sits for Craig at first. It makes for an exciting outfield bench, though moving Carpenter to third makes the middle infield depth now especially weak.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Well, we still should assume they are trying to upgrade shortstop as well.

    • crdswmn says:

      Taveras was never going to play CF long term. All scouting reports on him have said he is corner OFer. I personally watched him play CF on many occasions and it made me cringe. Acquiring Bourjos hints that the org was not comfortable with Taveras in CF.

      Bourjos is a defensive whiz and one of the best baserunners in baseball. I have been coveting this guy for years. For a team that is both slow and poor defensively, he will be a shot in the arm. I am so excited to watch him play on a regular basis now.

      Jay will likely be relegated to 4th OFer or be traded. Taveras will start the season in AAA so Craig will likely man RF with Adams at 1B. If Taveras is ready by mid season, then Craig likely goes back to 1B and Adams either goes to the bench or is traded in a deadline deal.

      As for moving Carpenter to 3B I am on record as not liking it for several reasons, but knew it was likely inevitable. I hope it works out but I am just not comfortable with his arm there.

      • Brian Walton says:

        I generally agree with your points, but do not see the Taveras situation the same as you. I think Taveras will make his own call. My bet is that if he shows he is ready in the spring, he will not be kept down. A situation not unlike Shelby Miller this spring or Colby Rasmus back in 2009. Special talents are treated differently.

        At-bats can be shared until the inevitable injuries hit. Depth is a very good thing, so trading Adams would not be on my priority list. I hope shortstop could be addressed via free agency. But if a trade is needed, it would ideally be made with pitching depth, not by moving offense and especially power – a commodity that is relatively scarce in this organization.

        In my opinion, no other major moves beyond shortstop are needed for this team to be ready to go.

        • crdswmn says:

          I am not anxious to trade Adams, but if he could net us a shortstop that I would want, I am willing. 1B is a position kind of like having type O blood—the universal position that almost anyone can play. Descalso can play there pretty well so he could be a short term injury replacement. Injuries at 1B are easier to compensate for than at other positions.

          I am finicky about shortstop, more so than any other position. I am not excited about any of the FA shortstops. I was initially on board with getting a veteran shortstop with good defense like Hardy, but the more I thought about it the more I was convinced that we need a long term solution now. There doesn’t appear to be any solution already in our system. (Why the Cardinals are so good at developing pitchers and so bad at developing infielders is a mystery) . So, getting a SS via free agency does not appeal to me to be honest.

          We have power, but apparently not enough to satisfy most people. Holliday and Craig have power, so does Molina and Taveras will be arriving. I am not power mad, never have been, I am a small ball, defense, and speed kind of gal with the occasional home run thrown in. I realize I am in the minority but I kind of thrive in that role 😉 I’ve been an unabashed non-conformist all my life. So, the power thing is the least of my worries.

          Mo does need to loosen his grip on some of our pitching depth and get us a shortstop, hopefully (for me) a young, cost controlled one. Signing Jhonny Peralta would make me very unhappy, Stephen Drew, less so.

  3. blingboy says:

    CF and 3B defense were especially weak this past year. Bernie’s article pointed out they were both ranked 30 something in MLB in defensive runs saved. So both positions shoud be vastly better. We will have to see how Wang does at 2nd.

    I read somewhere the other guy was the Angels #2 prospect.

    We should consider putting a statue of Arte outside Busch. Heck of a guy.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    This trade seems like an amazing heist. Its hard to fathom why the Angels would make such a trade.
    Salas was great for us. Back in 2011. That was two years ago. Salas is someone we might have non-tendered. The league seemed to figure him out.
    We wish Freese well. Maybe he can bounce back to his fine form in 2012. We shall hope so. But again for the Cards, Freese is somebody easy to give up. Carpenter can move right in, with Descalso and Moore for depth.

    Grichuk was part of the great 2009 amateur class. I remember the Cards had him visit Busch before the draft for a batting practice, etc. He was pretty well regarded at the time. His ascent has been slower than Mike Trout, but this means little since Trout is a freak. Grichuk has some injuries, but has been coming around, getting better. I like him a lot. The Cards system can use a guy just like Grichuk,, depth behind Matt Holliday.
    I don’t know how good Bourjous is, but we sure need help in CF. Adding him is a nice lift for 2014.
    Its pretty amazing Mo could add two such promising talents, for spare parts. Its amazing the Angels would demand so little in return.

    • Bw52 says:

      Simple really.Angels had ex-Rockie Nelson playing 3B for them after they dumped Callaspo to Oakland.Angels top 3B Prospect (Kaleb Cowart) is a year away at least.The Angels had a boatload of OFs and needed pitching of any kind.Freese takes over at 3B and Salas is a fairly cheap guy who has had success.Even if Freese duplicates last year he is still equal or better to what Angels finished season with.I wonder if Angels GM asked Albert what kind of guy Freese is.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Looked up Grichuk’s stats for 13. Averaged only .250, but I still like him. He does not whiff a lot. He can collect 800 at bats for Memphis the next couple of years and get ready to become a ML candidate. He reminds me of Johnny Gomes, not going to hit for a real high average, but he can deliver RBIs. We need more hitters in the system, so its great to stock up by adding Grichuk.

  5. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Angels have big problems. They need to sell tickets. They are going to market hero David just like the Cardinals would have done if needed. It will work. They can’t afford anything else. They will go through a massive reconstruction in 2015 if they blow out again. That likely means some interesting moments for AP. Certainly the end for DF. They couldn’t figure out how to use Bourjos. He did not respond to opportunities. With Holiday on his right and Craig on his left, he will respond I think. He will feel God like around some here. With Andrus at short, Wong will respond. Could be a good team.

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