Oquendo and McGee added as Coaches

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today the following new roles on their Major League Coaching Staff for 2018: 

Special Assistant to the General Manager Jose Oquendo has been named Third Base Coach; 

Special Assistant to the General Manager Willie McGee has been named to the Major League Coaching Staff and

Third Base Coach Mike Shildt has been named Bench Coach.  

The team also announced that Ron “Pop” Warner, who was named Assistant Field Coordinator last spring, will begin serving his promotion in that role after being asked to assist the Major League coaching staff for much of the 2017 season following some in-season changes.

“We feel that by bringing the experience, past successes and baseball savvy that these three gentlemen possess to our Major League coaching staff will be a strong benefit to our ball club,” stated Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  “Whether it’s coaching, teaching, game analysis, game planning, etc., etc. – these three men bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team.”

Oquendo, 54, who due to health reasons, had stepped aside as the team’s Third Base Coach just prior to the 2016 season, returns to the Major League staff after serving as Special Assistant to the General Manager in 2017.  Oquendo has spent 16 seasons as the Cardinals Third Base Coach (2000-15) and was the team’s Major League Bench Coach in 1999 after spending the 1997 and 1998 seasons working in the farm system for St. Louis.  The “Secret Weapon” enjoyed a 17-year professional playing career, including stints in the majors with the New York Mets (1983-84) and St. Louis Cardinals (1986-1995).   Oquendo was voted in 2005 as the top Utility Man on the All-Busch Stadium II team.

A native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Oquendo served as manager for Puerto Rico in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics and for the World Team in the 2009 MLB Futures Game.

McGee, 58, joins the Major League coaching staff for the first time, having spent the 2013-17 seasons serving as a Special Assistant to the General Manager.  A member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, McGee enjoyed a banner career that included National League MVP honors in 1985, two league batting titles (1985 & 1990), four All-Star Game selections (1983, 1985, 1987 & 1988) and threeRawlings Gold Glove awards (1983, 1985 & 1986).

After breaking onto the scene in a big way during the Cardinals World Series win in 1982,  the switch-hitting McGee went on to spend 18 years in the majors with the Cardinals (1982-90 & 1996-99), Oakland A’s (1990), San Francisco Giants (1991-94) and Boston Red Sox (1995), accumulating 2,254 hits, 352 stolen bases and a .295 career batting mark.

Shildt, 48, has been a member of the Cardinals organization since 2004 and he spent this past season serving as Quality Control Coach and also Third Base Coach with the Major League team.   Shildt, who managed for eight seasons in the Cardinals farm system at Memphis (2015-16), Springfield (2012-14) and Johnson City (2009-2011), was voted the recipient of the highly-distinguished George Kissell Award in 2010 – an award that honors excellence in player development.

In addition, the Cardinals are still working to fill coaching vacancies on their Major League staff for both Pitching Coach and Bullpen Coach.

Source: St. Louis Cardinals

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Cardinals eyeing Marlins Players

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The sale of the Marlins to Derek Jeter’s group has put the Marlins team of players wondering will I stay or will I go. The Hot Topic for the week was Giancarlo Stanton’s status as a Marlin and what team will be a willing trading partner. According to MLB TradeRumor the three teams that have interest in Stanton are the Giants, Phillies and the Cardinals. Well outside this news on Stanton it looks like the Cardinals are also licking their chops over a few other Marlins if they are available for a trade. This summer a Marlins player said  the Cardinals reportedly expressed interest in Marcell OzunaDee Gordon and Brad Ziegler this summer, with Ziegler’s name surfacing after Trevor Rosenthal was lost to Tommy John surgery in late August.  The Cards’ interest in Ozuna (and other Miami outfielders) is known, though this is the first time Gordon and Ziegler have been linked to St. Louis.  It makes sense that the Cards would’ve checked in on Ziegler given their sudden need for relief help after Rosenthal went down, though it remains to be seen if Ziegler would be a trade target this winter as the team looks to bolster its pen.  Ziegler has a hefty $9MM salary in 2018, though the Marlins could eat some of that money to make a deal happen.  Gordon would be an even pricier addition at $38MM owed through the 2020 season, plus a $14MM vesting option for 2021. I am all in if the Cardinals where to acquire Dee Gordon, what an upgrade he would be at short stop or second base. I really think that the Cardinals and the Marlins at this point would make great trading partners. The Marlins have key players that would boost the 2018 Cardinals into contention for the NL Champs once again. The Cardinals have the pitching and lots of young outfielders that the Marlins are looking for. So lets hope that the Winter of 2017 is a very productive for the Cardinals to rebuild their team.

Source: Mark Polishuk

Loews Hotel coming to Ballpark Village

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 Loews Hotels & Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loews Corporation (NYSE: L), announced today plans to build its first ever St. Louis hotel, which will be part of Ballpark Village’s $260 million expansion project.  Ballpark Village, developed by the St. Louis Cardinals and The Cordish Companies, is a mixed-use dining and entertainment district adjacent to Busch Stadium.  The hotel will debut as Live! by Loews – St. Louis, MO, a partnership between Loews Hotels & Co., The Cordish Companies and the St. Louis Cardinals.

 The Live! by Loews hotel concept was developed jointly by two of the most prominent and respected names in hospitality and entertainment: Loews Hotels & Co and The Cordish Companies.  Loews Hotels & Co has been a leader in the hotel industry for more than sixty years, offering distinctive experiences to its guests, for business, group, leisure and family travelers. The Cordish Companies’ Live! brand has set a new national standard in dining, hospitality and entertainment destinations, welcoming over 50 million visitors annually to its entertainment districts.

 “Expanding the Live! by Loews name in St. Louis, with partners like The Cordish Companies,  the DeWitt  family and the St. Louis Cardinals, allows Loews the opportunity to add a unique and immersive hotel into our portfolio  ,” said Jonathan M. Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels & Co.  “Cardinals fans are some of the most loyal and best in Major League Baseball, and we look forward to having a hotel in the epicenter of the already successful Ballpark Village.”

 The $65 million hotel will bring an upscale hospitality experience to downtown St. Louis. Located directly across from Busch Stadium at the intersection of Clark and 8th Streets, Live! by Loews – St. Louis, MO will be a celebration of the rich history of St. Louis, a spectacular destination for sports fans, families, and visitors, as well as a premier location for meetings and special events.  The 8-story hotel tower is part of a dynamic plan to complete a full build-out of Clark Street, transforming it into one of the most unique city streets in all of professional sports. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Loews Hotels & Co. on their first St. Louis hotel,” stated Bill DeWitt III, President of the St. Louis Cardinals. “Live! by Loews – St. Louis, MO will be an incredible anchor for Ballpark Village and a tremendous step forward in fulfilling our vision of creating a world-class mixed-use destination next to Busch Stadium.”

 Designed by internationally-acclaimed HKS Architects Hospitality Studio, the exterior architecture and interior design will be influenced by local St. Louis character, including inspiration used for Busch Stadium. Live! by Loews – St. Louis, MO will feature:

  • 216 luxury guestrooms, including 19 suites

  • 17,000 square feet of meeting and special event space that boasts incredible views of Busch Stadium, downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch. Located on the hotel’s second level, these spaces include: 

    • A Grand Ballroom that flows out to an outdoor amenity deck
    • An Executive Board Room
    • Several break out meeting rooms
    • An expansive, exclusive outdoor event terrace

  • Great Room Lounge and Outdoor Terrace: A sophisticated central gathering place that offers both indoor and outdoor guest experiences. Located on the first level, the Great Room lounge area and outdoor terrace will provide guests the opportunity to enjoy premier food and beverage offerings, private dining options, and an impressive digital AV experience that showcases sports, entertainment and art. 

  • Fitness facility,  lobby and porte-cochere entrance with 24-hour valet services 

“Loews Hotels & Co is one of the most respected names in hospitality,” stated Blake Cordish, Vice President of The Cordish Companies. “We are extremely excited to welcome Loews to Ballpark Village and are thrilled to be growing Live! by Loews to another iconic sports anchored destination.”

Live! by Loews – St. Louis, MO will become the second hotel to carry the Live! by Loews name. The first announced location, Live! by Loews – Arlington, TX, will open in the heart of the Arlington Entertainment District between the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. Live! by Loews – Arlington, TX will anchor the $250 million world-class Texas Live! dining, entertainment and hospitality destination being developed in partnership between The Cordish Companies, the Texas Rangers and the City of Arlington.  

Over the past three years, Loews Hotels & Co has expanded its Midwest presence, with the additions of Loews Chicago, Loews Chicago O’Hare and Loews Minneapolis. Earlier this year Loews announced the 800-room, Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel, which will open in early 2020.

“We’re excited to welcome Loews Hotels & Co to St. Louis,” stated Mayor Lyda Krewson, City of St. Louis, MO. “Whether you’re taking in a Cardinals game, here on business, or touring the city, we’re confident the hospitality at Live! by Loews will provide visitors a great stay and be a wonderful addition to BallparkVillage.”

The 550,000 square foot second phase of Ballpark Village being developed in partnership between the St. Louis Cardinals and The Cordish Companies will feature a 29-story luxury high-rise apartment tower, the first Class-A office building built in downtown St. Louis in nearly thirty years, an upscale, full-service Live! by Loews convention hotel, as well as additional retail and entertainment. Just as the first phase of Ballpark Village created more than 1,000 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent new jobs when it opened, the second phase of Ballpark Village stands to create 1,500 construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent new jobs. Plans call for construction to get underway by the end of this year. 

Source: St. Louis Cardinals

Fowler Not going Anywhere

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  • The Cardinals may deal from their surplus of outfielders this offseason, but the highest-paid member of the bunch, Dexter Fowler, seems unlikely to go anywhere. When the Cardinals signed Fowler to a five-year, $82.5MM contract last winter, they included a no-trade clause in the deal. Now, Fowler tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he and his family love their new city. He also enjoys being part of the Cardinals organization. “I see myself being here for a long time. It’s what I signed up for,” the center fielder said. “That’s what my contract says. I’m looking to build a legacy with my teammates.” Fowler had a terrific offensive season to kick off his Redbirds tenure, hitting .264/.363/.488 with 18 home runs in 491 plate appearances, but injuries limited him to 118 games and advanced metrics indicate he had a rough time in the field (minus-18 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-5.9 Ultimate Zone Rating).
  • Source: Connor Byrne-Derrick Goold

Cardinals Targeting Donaldson..again

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When I think of Cardinal third basemen that stood out in the past that showed consistency and leadership just a few names comes to mind…Ken Boyer, Scott Rolen and Terry Pendleton. If the Cardinals want to keep Matt Carpenter at first base then the powers that be must make a move for a power hitting third baseman. Well this morning Bob Nightengale tweets….The , who badly need a slugger in the middle of their lineup next year, are expected to strongly pursue  3B Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson missed significant time with a calf injury this season, but when healthy he’s produced in pretty much a characteristic manner: .272/.389/.564 with 33 home runs in 111 games. Donaldson in 2018 will be in his age-32 season and walk year. He signed a two-year, $28.65 million deal with the Jays prior to the 2016 season, but he’ll be arbitration-eligible prior to next season. Given that Donaldson made $17 million this year and put up big numbers, he’s going to be in for a hefty 2018 payday. That’s obviously a consideration for any team interested in dealing for him. The Cardinals already have more than $100 million on the books for 2018, and that’s not counting a handful of arbitration raises. That said, they can certainly handle the Donaldson investment.

So who would the Cardinals give up to trade for this former American League MVP? The Cardinals have a surplus of both outfielders and multi-positional infielders, so they’re a fit for Toronto’s needs as potential trade partners. The Bluejays perspective on who they want from the Cardinals are quite interesting. The players of interest that the Bluejays would love to have to consider trading from the Cardinals would be Alex, Reyes, Tyler O’Neill or Jedd Gyrko. In other words the Cardinals will need blow the Bluejay brass away.

Source: Bob Nightengale-Tom Dakers

Ray Lankford Plans to Return

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When Tommy Pham became St. Louis Cardinals 20/20 player for 2017 not only was I so happy for him but I also wonder who was the last Cardinal player to do be a part of the 20/20 club and it was Reggie Sanders in 2004. In 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 Ray Lankford was a 20/20 guy and he is also the only player in franchise history to accomplish the feat more than once. Ray was also known for his impressive fielding he posted  a 2.90 range factor in 1992 and committing only one error in 1996. In the latter season, he led the league with a fielding percentage of .997 but was still not awarded a Gold Glove.

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(Bernard Gilkey and my son Gabe)…………..I was able to sit down with Mr.Gilkey during a water break at the Cardinals Baseball Camp for Kids and talked about his good friend Ray Lankford. He told me that Ray now resides in the Orlando, Fl area. He does plan to reconnect with the Cardinals in the near future in regards to working with the players. Gilkey also feels that Lankford should be in the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame soon, his numbers with the Cardinals still stand. Ray finished his career among the Cardinal Top Ten in a number of  statistical categories, including home runs (third), stolen bases (fifth), runs scored (eighth), runs batted in (eighth), and bases on balls (fourth). He also hit more home runs at Busch Stadium (123) than any other player, and finished his career in his home ballpark with a pinch hit home run in his final major league at bat on October 3, 2004

Simontacchi Named Coach of the Year

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The Springfield Cardinals are also proud to announce that Springfield Pitching Coach Jason Simontacchi has been named the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Texas League Coach of the Year.In his third season as the Springfield Pitching Coach, the former St. Louis Cardinal

guided Springfield’s pitching staff to the 2nd-best team ERA in the league this season, tied with the Tulsa Drillers at 3.62. Under Simontacchi’s tutelage, Cardinals RHP Dakota Hudson was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year, becoming the first-ever Springfield hurler to win that award.

Additionally, three Cardinals starting pitchers collected Texas League Player of the Month Awards, with RHP Jack Flaherty honored for April, RHP Matt Pearce winning it for May and LHP Austin Gomber collecting it for August. Flaherty, Hudson and Pearce were each named to the exclusive Texas League Postseason All-Star Roster, accounting for three of the six spots for pitchers on the team.

In 2017 alone, seven former Springfield Cardinals that Simontacchi worked with at Hammons Field have toed the rubber for St. Louis, including RHP Luke Weaver, RHP Jack Flaherty, RHP Sandy Alcantara, RHP John Brebbia, LHP Ryan Sherriff, RHP Josh Lucas and RHP Mike Mayers.