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Bird Watching

Bird Watching: A Bruce Sutter Statue at Busch…?

Harry Weber, the artist responsible for the iconic statues of Cardinals Hall of Famers standing outside Busch Stadium, is looking forward to trying his hand at a statue for recent Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.

“I hope they do make one sometime in the future,” he said by email this week. “And I hope I get to do it. The split finger fastball is something I would love to portray.”

As the closer for the 1982 World Series Champion Cardinals and the most recent former Cardinals player inducted into Cooperstown, Sutter could be the next bronze figure to grace the corner of 8th and Clark.

“[He] certainly fits the criteria that we set up some years ago of having a retired number and being in the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal,” said Weber.

His fabled split-finger grip combined with that signature mountain man beard and flagging tuft of hair could make for one of the most interesting statues to date. And given Sutter’s obvious qualifications, it seems only a matter of time before Bill DeWitt, Jr. and company find themselves unveiling a new statue outside Busch – but not even Weber can predict a timeframe for Bronze Bruce.

“I haven’t heard anything from Cardinal Management yet,” he said, “But I’m sure they’ll get around to it…I know the fans would love it.”


Considering the relative haste the Cardinals showed in commissioning a Mark McGwire statue in anticipation of his induction (a statue currently residing in storage in the bowls of Busch Stadium until/if that happens), the delay in ordering a Sutter statue is a bit surprising.

It’s possible the Redbirds’ front office would prefer to unveil a Whitey Herzog statue first, while Whitey appears to be in considerably improved health, but Weber confirms he has yet to receive orders for either Herzog or Tony LaRussa.

It’s also possible that the World Series win in 2011, the long-anticipated start of Phase 1 of Ballpark Villiage, and the passing of Stan Musial this past offseason have simply provided more immediate matters for the team to address than the production of a statue for a still-relatively-young former player.

Whatever the reason, it shouldn’t be long now. The 2013 offseason could very well be the year Mr. Weber gets his wish – the split-finger fastball forever immortalized in St. Louis.

Let’s get into the rest of it…

Jon Jay’s job seems to be in peril. The previously dynamic, suddenly anemic center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Redbirds can’t seem to find his groove. He’s dropping balls in the outfield and struggling at the plate. Entering the season with a home-road split that was just short of alarming, Jay has done nothing to allay the fears of Cardinal Nation. He’s not hitting, he’s not walking, and he’s not making the consistently spectacular plays fans have learned to expect in the field. Announcers have noted Jay’s new preference for playing a bit shallow in center field – hello, Jim Edmonds? – an adjustment that would seem to favor his talent for tracking down balls in the gap and near the wall while also protecting his shoulder from frequent outfield wall collisions…except that he’s not making those plays now. And let’s face it – if Jon Jay isn’t tracking down balls like a madman with a rocket up his a**, he’s just an average outfielder with a streaky bat. A bat that’s disturbingly sedate at the moment. Already Mike Matheny has shown a preference for Matt Carpenter in the leadoff spot, and a willingness to start Shane Robinson in center field. If that’s the case, how much more willing will he be to play Oscar Taveras in CF in September? Jay needs to step it up.

Edward Mujica is looking like the one trade that could save two seasons. Last year, when Mozeliak sent top pick Zack Cox to Miami in exchange for a middle reliever by the name of Moo-hika, most Cards fans said, “Who?” But by the end of 2012, fans knew Edward Mujica as the leadoff man for Matheny’s Bullpen Script. Mujica-Boggs-Motte could go down in Cardinals lore as one of the more memorable lines from the 2012 season. And now, Mujica’s new split-finger awesomeness is closing out games. Honestly, it’s been so long since the Cardinals had a quiet, 1-2-3, event-free ninth inning that it felt like we just won the NLDS over the Nationals all over again. Can Mujica do the job long term? I have to believe the answer is no. But could he fill a Fernando Salas role and bridge the gap between failed closer (Boggs/Franklin) to new closer (Motte/Rosenthal) for the Cardinals? Yes…I believe he can.

How scary could the Cardinals’ lineup look if Taveras becomes the everyday CF’er? The decline of Jon Jay – or slow start, if you’re the optimistic type – opens up an intriguing possibility. Matheny has already shown more than a willingness to play Allen Craig in the outfield and Matt Adams at first base. If that formula sticks and carries into not just September but Opening Day of next year, the ascendance of Oscar Taveras is going to force Mike’s hand. Imagine an Opening Day lineup like so:

  1. 2B  Matt Carpenter
  2. CF  Oscar Taveras
  3. LF  Matt Holliday
  4. RF  Allen Craig
  5. 1B  Matt Adams
  6. C    Yadier Molina
  7. 3B  David Freese
  8. SS  Pete Kozma
  9. P   Adam Wainwright

And don’t be surprised to see Kolton Wong in the mix at second base and leadoff, meaning David Freese and Matt Carpenter get to play the play-a-day/rest-a-day game to keep everyone fresh (and that doesn’t even count the Freese at DH/Wong at 2B/Carpenter at 3B in American League parks factor). As Bernie points out in this morning’s Post-Dispatch, that puts Jon Jay in a very effective 4th outfielder position. *shudder* That’s one scary, run-producing lineup.


That’ll do it for today. I apologize for the brief break from blogging, but it was necessary for many, many reasons. Look for the Progressive Game Blog on May 4th from the UCB, and don’t forget to listen Wednesday night (the 24th of April) to UCB Radio Hour with myself and Jon Doble.

And as always…



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