The 1967 Cardinals Were Largely Homegrown Too


Much has been made of the homegrown talent that the Cardinals are sending into the World Series in 2013, for good reason.  In the era of free agency, teams like the 2013 Cardinals are somewhat of the exception, although that trend may be changing as the economics of the game may force teams to be more selective with future free agent signings.  How this team was put together was no accident and it bares a striking resemblance to another great team in Cardinals history, one that went on to beat the Red Sox.  Coincidence ?  I don’t think so.

moDuring a session with the United Cardinal Bloggers earlier this year, General Manager, John Mozeliak, was asked a question about his predecessors and their influences.  He explained that he had received a lot of advice from Bing Devine, who ran the organization from 1957 until an untimely dismissal in 1964 and then again from late 1967 to 1978.  All of a sudden, everything the Cardinals were doing made perfect sense.  While he would not return until after the Cardinals defeated the Red Sox in 1967, Bing Devine’s fingerprints were will all over the new World Champions, and in a sense can also be found on the team today.  Like the current roster of Redbirds, the 1967 St. Louis Cardinals were largely homegrown too.

Let’s take a look.

Starting Position Players

1967 2013
Pos Player How Acquired Player How Acquired
1B Orlando Cepeda Trade (Giants) Matt Adams Drafted
2B Julian Javier Trade (Pirates) Matt Carpenter Drafted
SS Dal Maxvill Drafted Pete Kozma Drafted
3B Mike Shannon Drafted David Freese Minor league trade
LF Lou Brock Trade (Cubs) Matt Holliday Trade (As)
CF Curt Flood Trade (Reds) Jon Jay Drafted
RF Roger Maris Trade (Yankees) Carlos Beltran Free Agent
C Tim McCarver Drafted Yadier Molina Drafted

Even though Julian Javier and Curt Flood were acquired in a trade, they had a total of 8 games at the Major League level between them, and those were all by Curt Flood.   These two were closer to the minor league deal that brought David Freese to the Cardinals than Lou Brock, who had some time in the big leagues with the Cubs. With a bit of creative license, that brings the 67 squad to five starters that were either drafted or brought over as minor leaguers to six on the current team.

cepeda

Orlando Cepeda – 1967 NL MVP

Looking at the starters, position by position, brings up some other interesting comparisons especially if you swap Matt Adams for Allen Craig.  Both Cepeda and Craig hit for average, gap power and had the ability to get a key hit.  Cepeda won the NL MVP award and Craig was in the discussion until his injury in September ended his season.

Even scarier is the left side of the infield where Dal Maxvill (.227 / .297 / .279, 1 home run and 41 RBIs) is Pete Kozma (.217 / .257 / .273, 1 home run and 35 RBIs)  and Mike Shannon (.245 / .302 / .369, 12 home runs, 75 RBIs)  is David Freese (.264 / .340 / .381., 9 home runs, 60 RBIs).

While you would never compare their production on first glance, Matt Holliday and Lou Brock are more alike than you might think.  Sure, Brock was a gifted speedster terrorizing the opposing battery once he reached base.  What has been forgotten is that early in his career, Brock hit for some serious power.  If he had hit third in the Cardinals batting order, his overall production would have looked more like Orlando Cepeda’s, and not that far off that of Matt Holliday in 2013.

The biggest similarity are from the two veterans, Carlos Beltran and Roger Maris.   While they were/are past their primes, both could cover some ground and make great plays when the game was on the line.  And both had cannons from right field.  Maris also had a tremendous Word Series in 1967, leading the team with 7 RBIs and trailing just Lou Brock with a .385 batting average.  Maris could have been the series MVP, had Bob Gibson not been as dominating as he was.

Starting Pitchers

1967 2013
Pos Player How Acquired Player How Acquired
SP Bob Gibson Drafted Adam Wainwright Minor league trade
SP Dick Hughes Drafted Michael Wacha Drafted
SP Nelson Briles Drafted Joe Kelly Drafted
SP Steve Carlton Drafted Lance Lynn Drafted

Here is where we really see the similarity in approach between Bing Devine and John Mozeliak – develop starting pitching and then surround them with key acquisitions, as needed.  In both cases, the GMs get great marks in executing to that plan, with a slight nod to Mozeliak as we see an even more impressive execution in the bullpen.

While nobody would compare the styles of Bob Gibson and Adam Wainwright, Ray Washburn is actually pretty close, Wainwright has become just as much as leader of this current rotation as Gibson was in his era.  Both could be counted on to take the ball in must win games and give their respective teams a chance to win.  And they are both winners.  Adam Wainwright is what I believe Ray Washburn could have been, had he not been injured early in his career.

Dick Hughes

We’ve talked about the eerie parallel between Joe Kelly and Nelson Briles before, but things get interesting when you compare Dick Hughes and Michael Wacha.  Both are rookies, although Dick Hughes had a long minor league career before breaking into the big leagues.  Hughes slider was one of the nastiest in the game and a big part of his success, just as the change-up is for Wacha.  Both make a very good fastball even better.  The big difference is the innings load as Wacha’s has been very carefully managed and Hughes was not.  As a result, Hughes was a bit fatigued in the World Series and the Red Sox bats got to him in both of his starts, and a big reason why the series went a full seven games.

Bullpen

1967 2013
Pos Player How Acquired Player How Acquired
CL Joe Hoerner Trade (Astros) Trevor Rosenthal Drafted
RP Ron Willis Drafted Carlos Martinez Drafted
RP Jack Lamabe Trade (Mets) Seth Maness Drafted
RP Hal Woodshick Trade (Astros) Kevin Siegrist Drafted
RP Al Jackson Trade (Mets) Edward Mujica Trade (Marlins)
RP Larry Jaster Drafted Randy Choate Free Agent
RP Ray Washburn Drafted Shelby Miller Drafted
John Axford Trade (Brewers)

This is where the similarities basically end.  Other than a good number of homegrown pitchers in the 67 bullpen, there is little in common between the two bullpens, except maybe Seth Maness and Joe Hoerner – both were deceptive, threw strikes and just didn’t give up a lot of hard hit balls.  Ron Willis was a hard throwing side armer, but there were no relievers that threw anywhere near as hard as the kids on the current roster.  One thing that has been a bit overlooked in recent years was how young the 1967 pitching staff was – Ron Willis (23), Nelson Briles (23), Larry Jaster (23), Steve Carlton (22).  That is three of your five starters and go to right hander out of the bullpen.  Dick Hughes was the anomaly as a 29 year old rookie.

The Bench

1967 2013
Pos Player How Acquired Player How Acquired
Bobby Tolan Drafted Allen Craig Drafted
Ed Spiezio Drafted Tony Cruz Drafted
Phil Gagliano Drafted Shane Robinson Drafted
Alex Johnson Trade (Phillies) Adron Chambers* Drafted
Eddie Broussard Trade (Mets) Daniel Descalso Drafted
Dave Ricketts Drafted Kolten Wong* Drafted
John Romano Trade (White Sox)
* one of these two players will be left off the World Series roster to make room for Allen Craig.
Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson

Neither of these benches are going to scare the opposing pitchers late in the game, but the number of players that were developed in the Cardinals farm system is very close.   Phil Gagliano was the Daniel Descalso of that era, a scrappy ballplayer that could come up with an unexpected bit hit as well as play just about any infield or outfield position.   Even scarier is the comparison between Alex Johnson and Adron Chambers.  Other than Johnson’s questionable work ethic, which is why did didn’t play in the World Series, both players were built more like football players and could flat out fly on the bases.  Unfortunately, unless placed there in a pinch running situation, neither of them could figure out how to get on base.  Johnson would eventually figure things out and become a very good player, as would Bobby Tolan, but not until traded to the Cincinnati Reds.  That suggests perhaps a bit more patience should be shown with Adron Chambers.

Note: of course, Adron Chambers would be left off the World Series roster, adding to the Alex Johnson comparison.

The ’67 Cardinals carried three catchers, so Dave Ricketts did at least get a few at bats in the World Series.  With only Tony Cruz backing up Yadier Molina, his next at bat will likely come next March, in Spring Training.

As baseball fans, we will try to draw some conclusions based on a completely unrelated set of past events in the hopes of finding some optimism heading into a big series.  Taking a closer look at the 1967 team, there are more than a few similarities.   Lots of young and home grown talent and both teams play a balanced brand of baseball, perhaps a bit tilted in the direction of starting pitching.  It is certainly a more fitting comparison than the offensively minded team that got swept in 2004.   Or at least that is my story until the series actually gets under way.

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