It was on this day in 1985 that Jack Buck asked Cardinals fans to “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!” in the wake of Ozzie Smith’s walkoff homer to win Game Five of the NLCS. The Wizard Of Oz wasn’t known for his power, of course, though the defensive legend’s only career postseason home run (and, remarkably, the switch-hitting Smith’s first career homer as a left-handed batter) could hardly have come at a better time. The victory gave the Cards a 3-2 lead in the series, and they clinched the National League pennant two days later at Dodger Stadium.
Here’s some modern-day buzz out of St. Louis…
- The official details of Adam Wainwright’s new contract with the Cardinals won’t be known until after the World Series, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Wainwright will have to officially file for free agency before the deal is finalized, as league rules stipulate that a player currently on a team’s roster cannot re-sign for less than a 20% pay cut from their previous salary, and Wainwright’s new deal will obviously be far less than the $19.5MM he earned last year, in the final season of his five-year, $97.5MM contract. His new deal is just a one-year pact, as Wainwright tells Goold that “I’m going to treat every year from here like it’s my last and go year to year. I’m going to have a great time and maybe a year from now we’re having the same conversation or we’re having a retirement conversation.” After being greatly limited by injuries in three of the last four seasons, Wainwright was greatly encouraged by how his elbow felt in some late-season appearances, and now feels ready for whatever role the team wants him to fill in 2019. It’s clear that Wainwright is hoping to spend his entire baseball career in a Cardinals uniform, telling Goold “I wanted to do all I could to keep the door open with St. Louis. I was trying not to think about the possibility of going somewhere else. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
- Stubby Clapp, manager of the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis, has widely been mentioned as a possible candidate to be the next Blue Jays manager, though Clapp tells Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi, “I haven’t heard anything from Toronto. It’s been all rumors.” Before taking over in Memphis in the 2016-17 offseason, Clapp spent the previous four seasons as a hitting coach in the Jays’ minor league system, so he has some ties to the organization. The Windsor, Ontario native would also be the Jays’ first Canadian-born manager. Even Clapp’s current duties carry some Blue Jays connections, as star prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is playing on the team Clapp is managing in the Arizona Fall League. “If there’s an opportunity to get an interview or something like that, great, I’d be excited to do something like that,” Clapp said. “Right now, I’m a Cardinal, that’s my focus and that’s where my mind is, and on taking care of these guys in Arizona.”
- While the Cards have some uncertainty about their 2019 rotation, Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch doesn’t consider starting pitching to be a top priority for the offseason. Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, and Carlos Martinez look to have rotation jobs locked up for next year, while Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Austin Gomber, Daniel Poncedeleon, and John Gant are all in the mix for the final two slots. While this group carries a lot of injury and experience questions, Frederickson figures there’s enough depth on hand that the Cardinals don’t need to add another arm unless a clear top-of-the-rotation pitcher like Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel can be had at a reasonable price. The team’s more pressing needs are a left-handed bat for the lineup and more bullpen depth, the latter being particularly important given how successful teams around baseball are increasingly relying on strong bullpens to carry them into (and through) the postseason.