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Bird Bytes: Here’s a Vote For Ray Lankford, Who Should Be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Time to serve up some Bird Bytes.

Let’s do it …

1. The Cardinals are out with the fan ballot for their 2018 Hall of Fame voting. What a fun list. An entertaining list. Outfielders Vince Coleman and Ray Lankford; first baseman Keith Hernandez; third baseman Scott Rolen; starting pitcher John Tudor; and closers Lee Smith and Jason Isringhausen. By my unofficial count,  when playing for the Cardinals,  the seven nominees combined for 16 division titles, 10 National League pennants, three World Series championships, 13 All-Star game appearances, 10 gold gloves, one league batting title, one league MVP award, and one Rookie of the Year award. Coleman (549) and Lankford had a combined total of 799 stolen bases. Smith and Izzy had a combined 377 saves while closing game for the Cardinals. It’s going to be tough to select only two winners from this group.

2. Pardon my campaigning … but I was thrilled to see Lankford make it to the ballot, and I’ll be voting for him. Lankford’s career body of work as a Cardinal is impressive … and so good that it may surprise some voters. But scanning Cardinals franchise history, Lankford ranks 5th all-time in homers, 5th in walks, 7th in extra-base hits, 8th in stolen bases, 9th in RBIs, 9th in runs scored, 9th in doubles, and 13th in OPS. Lankford also holds the distinction of hitting the most homers at the old Busch Stadium which made way for the new Busch in 2006. In terms of all-around value, Lankford’s 40.4  Wins Above Replacement (WAR) puts him 10th overall among non-pitchers in franchise history, and 5th among outfielders. The only position players that have more WAR than Lankford in team history are, in order: Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Albert Pujols,  Ozzie Smith, Ken Boyer, Ted Simmons, Enos Slaughter, Jim Edmonds, and Lou Brock. With this resume, Lankford deserves to be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

3. Keith Law of ESPN is out with his annual system rankings and the Cardinals are 12th, moving up one spot from 13th. Law’s ratings were presented in a subscribers-only piece, so I don’t feel I can take too many liberties here. But to loosely sum it up … Law doesn’t believe the Cardinals have an elite prospect, but the system is loaded with potential major leaguers. If you pay any attention to these things, you already know the Cardinals have surplus of outfield prospects and are stocked with starting pitchers that aren’t top-of-rotation types. Law has

4. Only three Cardinals made Law’s Top 100 prospects list: pitcher Alex Reyes (No. 27), pitcher Jack Flaherty (43rd), and catcher Carson Kelly (71st.) Among NL Central teams, only the Cubs have fewer Top 100 prospects (two) than St. Louis.

5. You might want to remember this the next time you’re subjected to media hype about the Cardinals’ farm system. We tend to make the Cards’ prospects seem a helluva lot better than they really are. The STL system is in  good shape, and is getting stronger. But here’s the reality check: I don’t think GMs from other teams are heading for the fainting couch because they’re so overwhelmed with excitement when they look at the Cards’ prospects. John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch were fortunate to entice the Marlins pitchers with a four-prospect package in the trade for left fielder Marcel Ozuna. The Cardinals have up some good prospects — pitchers Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen and outfielder Magneuris Sierra … but it wasn’t painful because the Cardinals have plenty of prospect depth to fill any voids created by the deal.

6. The Cardinals need a starting pitcher. Need a starting pitcher. Need a starting pitcher. Need a starting pitcher.

7. The ZiPS forecast for 2018 has Marcell Ozuna hitting 30 doubles, 30 homers, slugging .492, driving in 103 runs, posting park-adjusted runs created  at 16 percent above league average … and with 3.7 WAR. How  does that look to you? Would you be happy with that?

8. In summarizing the outlook for Cards’ non-pitchers in the ZiPS report, writer Carson Cistulli writes: “as for weaknesses, there are few among the club’s position-player core. One possible concern is shortstop defense … Paul DeJong is projected for -6 runs there.”

9. Update on a division rival: The Brewers need a starting pitcher … they are making inquiries … Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer is the latest name to surface in speculation … After signing relievers Matt Albers, Boone Logan and J.J. Hoover to free-agent contracts this winter,  the Brewers are on the prowl for another bullpen arm. 

10. Update on a division rival: the Cubs have signed another former Card. Last winter it was outfielder Jon Jay, who did a swell job in his fourth-outfielder role for the NL Central champs. This winter, the ex-Card import is Peter Bourjos … and though Bourjos agreed to a minor-league deal with no guarantees of a spot on the big club, he has a chance to win the last roster spot being saved for an outfielder … Joe Maddon, fond of the mix-and-match managing method, is said to have coveted Bourjos’ speed and defense … and it’s not difficult to envision Bourjos being utilized as late-inning defensive replacement for left fielder Kyle Schwarber.

Thanks for reading …

-Bernie

More: Miklasz – Should the Cardinals Tank? If You Hate Their Long-Term Success, Good Idea!