After they lost free-agent Bruce Sutter to Atlanta, the Cardinals summoned three forms of assistance: spiritual, psychological and powerful.
Given a roster full of Bible-thumpers and teetotalers, manager Whitey Herzog, who is not known to be either, imported a preacher, Andrew Jumper, to conduct motivational chapel services. "I don't want to talk about that," says Herzog. "It has nothing to do with baseball."
Reliever Neil Allen is not so sure. "God is in Atlanta," he says, referring to Sutter, who headed south after racking up a league-record 45 saves. Herzog talks bravely of replacing Sutter with a tag-team of righthanders (Allen and Jeff Lahti) and lefthander Ricky Horton. "It'll be just like in Kansas City before [Dan] Quisenberry, when we won 102 games in '77," says Herzog.
Nonetheless, Allen, who had three saves in '84, will be counted on to finish games against all but the best lefthanded hitters. An up-and-down performer who has been his own worst enemy for most of his six seasons in the league, Allen insists he's calmer as a result of off-season counseling with a sports psychologist.
April 15, 1985
St. Louis will get a power boost from its new first baseman, Jack Clark, who was having his best season (.320, 11 homers, 44 RBIs in 57 games) when he was lost with a knee injury. He's healthy and optimistic about hitting in cavernous Busch Stadium. "I don't consider myself a power hitter," he says. "I'm more of a slugger." Come again? "Power hitters get homers and sluggers drive in runs; I'm basically a line-drive hitter."
Clark will often bat with fleet third baseman Terry Pendleton and fleeter centerfielder Willie McGee on base. Last year St. Louis didn't have a single 70-RBI man. Leftfielder Lonnie Smith (.250), catcher Darrell Porter (.232) and rightfielder Andy Van Slyke (.244) must hit better—or else. However, Porter hit and caught so poorly this spring that Herzog may rely more on Tom Nieto. For the third straight year the Cardinals traded someone (David Green to the Giants in the Clark deal) to open up a position for Van Slyke; his teammates are beginning to question whether he's worth it.
The Cardinals won 37 of their last 62 games in '84, and are counting on 25-year-old righthanders Danny Cox (9-11) and Kurt Kepshire (6-5) to join Joaquin Andujar (20-14) and ex-Pirate John Tudor (12-1 1) as full-time starters. But even if redoubtable pitching coach Mike Roarke gets good years out of three of them, it may not be enough without Sutter for relief.
"The Cardinals have nothing but ifs," says a scout, "and when you have to use the word 'if' too often, you've got problems."