Mar 10, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano (73) prepares to tag out St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tyler Greene (27) on a stolen base attempt at Roger Dean Stadium. The Marlins defeated the Cardinals 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Matheny, bringing the stolen base back in 2012

Many of us remember the days of the Running Redbirds in the 1980’s.  The swipe of a base was at the heart of Whitey Ball.  During those days when the Cardinals’ roster starred players like Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Lonnie Smith and Vince Coleman.  All of them speedsters and when they reached base it wasn’t if they were going to run, but a matter of when they were going to take off.

Prior to the “catch us if you can” motto of the 1980’s, the Cardinals were the home to one of the greatest base stealers of all time, Lou Brock.  The 1960’s and 1970’s base paths were dominated by Brock swiping everything he could.  Then things began to change in the 1990’s.  The art of the stolen base began to fade away from the game.  People wanted to see the long ball, those towering moon shots in to the stands.  I like to see the homerun as much as the next fan.  But, the stolen base is an important aspect of the game that has really taken a backseat, not just in St. Louis  but in all of baseball.

The Cardinals have a rich history in the speed on the base paths and stolen base.  However, it is one they have all but abandoned over the past several years.  In the 2011 season the Birds placed last in the National League for stolen bases.  It is not like they did bad without the stolen bases, we did bring home the Trophy for the 11th time.

The new skipper, Mike Matheny has said since the beginning of his reign the aggressiveness of the Cardinal’s on the bases will be stepped up during the 2012 campaign.  I think this is a great mindset.  The stolen base is a run generator.  It changes the entire aspect of the game.  If a pitcher knows that a guy is on first and he is going to stay put unless there is a hit, makes the pitcher’s job a lot easier.  It is one last thing that he has to worry about.

Matheny has also vowed to be more aggressive in the running of the base paths as well.  He said early on in the Grapefruit league that taking two bases on a hit will be strongly encouraged.  I think this tweak in mindset for the offensive of the Cardinals will make them even more dangerous.  The team came out of Spring Training with 22 stolen bases.  There were 11 Cardinal players, including the old wheels of Lance Berkman that accounted for the thefts.

I think from top to bottom of the lineup, the Cardinals speed does not compare to the Cardinals days of old.  But, we do have a few that have the ability to swipe a base here and there.  Tyler Greene steps to the front of that line.  Greene has yet to be caught in his 16 major league attempts.  I also think the addition of Carlos Beltran, even though he may not have the speed he used to have, he still has enough to add stolen bases to the overall team stats for this year.

Matheny has gone on to explain this difference in mindset from the former manager’s tenure.  He has they are not going to try to make something out of nothing but rather utilize the speed that they have on the team.  Matheny went as far to have Willie McGee come in as a guest coach in Spring Training to talk about being aggressive running the bases.

The players have seem to be excited with that as well.  We as fans have seen some of the running already this year.  Yadier Molina has even logged a stolen base for himself already in the young season.   I don’t think we will see Yadi leading the team in stolen bags, but it is good to see that the mindset is there.  As a fan I am excited, another aspect of the game that will be brought back from the days gone by.  Catch ‘em if you can!

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Tags: Carlos Beltran Lance Berkman Lonnie Smith Lou Brock Mike Matheny Ozzie Smith Redbird Rants St Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene Vince Coleman Whitey Ball Willie McGee Yadier Molina

  • johnwvideo

    Totally agree with you , its a great mind set to have. I would love to see them steal alot this season. I just would not count on Greene as the example.. The issue I see with Greene is he cant hit. He has to get on to steal.. So many keep saying give him his at bats and he will get it. I dont think so !
    At his age if he cant hit in the majors, he never will, I almost am willing to bet, “like in Money ball” he is let go or put on waivers by June if he is still not hitting. At least I sure would cut him and somehow make room for Carpenter. 
    Personally  I dont think we will ever see a Brock, Henderson, Coleman, 100 steals again…  50 or so might be the most we see from any player..
    I did like to watch them do the double steal this spring and take home. I wish they could keep that up, Nothing like making the pitcher worry on the mound.. 
    I like you am excited to see more this year, Its as good as the long ball if not better at times..

  • Dennis McHawes

    Great points.  I do agree about Greene.  We will probably see him more in pinch run situations.  I think we need to make room some how for Matt C.  As players get healthy and start coming back some moves will have to be made.
    The days of the 100+ steals I think are gone as well.  It is an aspect of the game that has went away.  But, if we can steal a few here and there it makes the Cards an even more dangerous team.  It will be another weapon in the arsenal.
    Thanks for the input!