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UCB Spring Roundtable: The Finale

Posted on March 12, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
As is my tradition, I ask the last question of any United Cardinal Bloggers roundtable.  The reason for that is twofold: one, so that I don't take someone else's question and two, so that we always know when it's over.  The problem comes in when we have so many great bloggers asking so many great questions.  It's tough to find a different look at things.

So, after scuffling around a bit, I went and threw an offspeed pitch to the group.  My question was:

This spring we've gotten to see a lot of the faces of the Cardinal past around the ballpark. Some are there every year, some are fresh with the change in administration. Here's a two-parter for you in relation to that. One, who has made you the happiest that you've heard or seen is in spring training? Maybe it's an old standby like Lou Brock, maybe it's a new guy like #51. Who has made you smile when you think about them being in Jupiter? 

Second part of that question. What player currrently or recently with the Cards would you like to see in that sort of "spring training instructor role" in, say, 10-15 years? Would you like to see Scott Rolen return to show some fielding tips? Would you want to see Chris Carpenter teach how to scream obscenities at a batter? Feel free to be as creative as you like. 

Here's how the UCB members closed down this roundtable:

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Dennis (Pitchers Hit Eighth): First part of question: Just knowing that Willie McGee is at spring training makes me feel a bit younger again. McGee literally played the game like it was a joy to wake up every morning and realize that he was a professional baseball player. Besides, there aren't exactly dozens of potential special instructors running around with an MVP trophy on the mantle and a .295 lifetime average over 18 seasons, either. Having the man with the best pitching wedge swing ever seen on a baseball field in St. Louis makes me grin just a little. 

I'd love to see both Larry Walker, So Taguchi, and Jason LaRue receive special invitations one year. For an organization that prides itself on doing things the right way, there is no better example of that than remembering and honoring those who may have given small and meaningful or all too brief contributions to the team.

Ray (STL Cardinal Baseball): I think I was most excited by Ozzie Smith returning to camp. While I love Willie more, his return came as a result of Ozzie returning. I love Ozzie's return because it indicates the inclusive nature of Matheny's managerial style. Hopefully it will be a less neurotic and paranoid clubhouse now. 

Ten to fifteen years from now? I think Skip Schumaker would make a great coach. Carp would be terrific in any capacity. Would also love to see David Eckstein return someday.

Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth): I'm excited that Jim Edmonds is in camp. Doesn't really know what his role is? So what. After being in the big leagues as long as he was (or any player with that longevity, for that matter, not just Jimmy) there's no doubt in my mind he has some wisdom to impart on all of the players, not just the young kids. I can imagine it being a bit awkward just kind of wandering around down there, but he'll eventually settle in - especially as some of the younger guys learn to seek him out and not tip-toe around. 

The second question doesn't even take a second of thought for me - it's Lance Berkman. His loyalty to Houston and the Astros may still run pretty deep, especially with Drayton McLane no longer in charge down there, but I'm hopeful that Berkman stays associated with the Cards after his playing days. His infectious personality and the various experiences he's had in his career (coming back when most counted him out as finished/washed up) I think make him another excellent resource for young and older players alike.

Mark (RetroSimba): What brought a smile and happiness was getting the information about the Cardinals' spring training radio broadcast schedule and knowing Mike Shannon was back for another year. For many, Shannon is the Cardinals and, because he actually played with Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, and was instructed by people such as Joe Medwick and Harry Walker, he is a direct link to a part of the franchise going back into the 1940s or longer.   

Among Cardinals of recent vintage, would like to see David Eckstein invited back as an instructor or coach. He played the game the right way and he would be an asset to the organization. Most of all, would like to see the Cardinals reconnect soon with Ted Simmons before he grows too old. He is a significant part of their history. He's smart, talented, tough and a winner. He's been away from the Cardinals for far too long and he has much to offer.

Mary (MLB Voice): I second those comments just made about Jimmy Edmonds. he'll get accustomed to where he's needed.. Having his experience down in Jupiter to pass on is an awesome thing!  

It's great to see so many of our former Cardinals now helping the team. Whether they are confident in their role down there is not an issue. Their experience and the camaraderie with the team will enhance our Cardinals. Can you imagine how great they all feel with veterans like Willie McGee, Ozzie Smith and Jimmy Edmonds teaching their skills to them? Kudos to everyone that helped & hope they keep coming back. It just makes you smile to think of them in Jupiter like that!

Kevin (Cards 'N Stuff): I was so excited Ozzie was in camp that I demanded a pic on twitter from the media guys :). Love that he's back in the fold and excited to see what he has to offer the young guys. Jim Edmonds get honorary mention from me as that guy in camp. Exciting to have him back where he belongs. 

I look forward to the time Chris Carpenter can a huge presence in camp teaching kids how to pitch at this level. I believe his competative attitude, work ethic, and professionalism is a rare combination in a lot of young pitchers, and he could end up being the standard bearer for that concept for the next generation of Cardinal pitchers. 

That said, the next guy to perhaps get an invitation once his career ends...should be Jason Isringhausen. That guy just deserved a lot better treatment than he got from a lot of Cardinal fans. And he seemed to have a lot to offer bullpen guys and closers. I would love to see him mentor Jason Motte and/or Eduardo Sanchez in a couple years.

Chris (Birds On The Bat 82): I love the guys Matheny is integrating Into camp. Would be interested to see Ray Lankford and Vince Coleman help our outfielders if they are willing to come.

Tara (Aaron Miles' Fastball): I know it's the epitome of a non-answer, but I'm thrilled with the whole idea of having ALL the guys back. It's like the doors are wide open to everyone who has left a mark on Cardinals history -- a history that is absolutely treasured by its fans! 

BUT ... if I have to choose, it has to be Ozzie. Especially knowing how some of the current guys grew up watching him play, it's great imagining them getting a tip from their hero. Plus, it's Ozzie! Who wouldn't be happy to have him back at Busch?!

Tom (CardinalsGM): If not too late.... I would like to see JimEd have an integral part in Spring Training. As far as Ozzie, he acted like a baby and I am neutral on whether he is "in the loop" or not.

Christine (Aaron Miles' Fastball): I think my only-a-Cardinals-fan-since-2000 background - or, more realistically, my Cubs fan past - shows when trying to answer the first part of the question because I don't share the enthusiasm of others when it comes to seeing Willie McGee or Ozzie Smith in Jupiter this year. It's great they are with the team for a bit to share their knowledge and that fans are excited about it. But to me personally, those 1980s-era guys are never going to mean much so it's not a big deal to me. In their prime, they were the enemy. Can't go back and retroactively love them now, even though I obviously understand their position in Cardinals history. 

As for current or recent Cardinals returning as instructors in the future, I like the ideas others have said of fan favorites like David Eckstein, Larry Walker and So Taguchi returning, even if just once. Scott Rolen too. Personally, I think Chris Carpenter has far more to offer than just teaching pitchers how to swear - he seems to have already taken an interest in the young guys like Shelby Miller for the past couple years, and he certainly would have lessons to share on perseverance and overcoming injuries. He could be a good pitching coach someday. Truthfully, any former player could have some kind of wisdom to share - playing tips, of course. But there also are lessons learned throughout the minors and upon reaching the major leagues, both on and off the field, that could be valuable. Even Aaron Miles would have plenty to offer ... particularly if there's ever a hostage situation. And, obviously, pitching advice.

Pip (Fungoes): Part 1: I do like hearing that Willie McGee is in camp, even if his advice includes changing the style of pants Adron Chambers wears. 

Part 2: I suppose it depends on how you define "recent" member of the Cardinals. In addition to being the best-fielding first baseman in history, Keith Hernandez was also a fine instructor, having attended Mets' camps to tutor guys like John Olerud. But in 10-15 years, Hernandez will be 68 years old. He doesn't strike me as likely to be a good-natured old man, as, say, Red Schoendienst is, if you take my meaning. As for current players, Lance Berkman, with his boyish humor and simple professionalism, seems like he'd be a perfect addition to the 2022 spring-training spectacle.
As for me? Well, I've always been a great fan of Ozzie, so I'm very excited to see him back in the fold.  I'm not saying that he didn't share some fault in the TLR feud, but I do like seeing him in uniform again.

For the second part, Scott Rolen and Lance Berkman would be high on my list, but I have a feeling that, after he's retired a good decade-plus from now, it's always going to make me smile to see Adam Wainwright in Cardinal red.

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