Polo grounds gazette
1964 National League
Last year the Dodgers won the pennant, staving off a last
minute charge by the Cardinals, and then dominating the Yankees in the World
Series. Their great pitching led by
Drysdale and Koufax is tough to beat along with NL batting champion for two
years running, Tommy Davis. But going
back to 1962, the Giants were the champs and not much has changed there, going
back another year are the Reds and they seem to be improved, and going back
even further the Pirates should not be taken lightly or even the aging Braves.
But most writers are picking Los Angeles to repeat and we see no reason to
disagree with them. If the Dodgers do
falter, then we think the Giants will swoop in to replace them. Here is this season’s preview.
Chicago Cubs. Manager – Bob Kennedy. 1963 record – 82-80. 7th place.
The Cubs have finally stopped their series of rotating
coaches and named Bob Kennedy as the full-time manager. That likely does not make much difference but
the Cubs got above the .500 mark last year for the first time in a long
time. They have a core of the big three
– Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks – in the heart of the order and
some decent pitching in Dick Ellsworth, Larry Jackson, and Bob Buhl. Of course
the big problem with Chicago is the tragic loss of second baseman Ken Hubbs who
died in a plane crash this spring. There is really no one to replace him and so
trying to fill the hole at second will be rookie Jimmie Stewart or veteran Joey
Amalfitano. The rest of the infield is
set with Banks (1b), Santo (3b), and Andre Rodgers (ss). The outfield is set
with Williams in left, speedster Lou Brock in right, and Billy Cowan in center.
Catching falls to Dick Bertell with Jimmie Schaeffer as backup.
After the big three of Ellsworth, Jackson, Buhl, pitching
gets a little thin. Veterans Glen Hobbie and Don Elston are around and a bunch
of kids led by Fred Norman, Wayne Schurr, and Sterling Slaughter. Kennedy will
try to piece together a rotation and those who do not make it will end up in
the already weak bullpen. To support the
iffy pitching, there is not much defense. Only Santo really has a good glove
though Rodgers and Cowan are acceptable.
All in all, there is some good here in Chicago but losing
Hubbs really hurts and it is hard to see how they can improve over last season.
8th place is looking about right.
1b – Ernie
2b – Jimmie
Stewart (r) Bob
Ss – Andre
3b – Ron
Lf – Billy
Cf – Billy
Rf – Lou
Bench – Jimmie
Schaeffer (c ), Joey Amalfitano (inf), Ellis Burton (of), Leo Burke (of)
Cincinnati Reds. Manager – Fred Hutchinson. 1963 Record – 86-76. 5th Place.
The Reds are
slowly changing from the team that went to the World Series 3 years ago but
perhaps a bit too slowly. They have added young Pete Rose and last year’s
rookie of the year has the look of a keeper at second base. Young Deron Johnson
will be playing a lot this year as Fred Hutchinson tries to get his bat into
the lineup – either at first base, third base, or left. Rookie Chico Ruiz will
get a look at third as veteran Steve Boros starts the season injured. One outfield position is up for grabs with
Mel Queen, Marty Keough, and Tommy Harper vying for the job alongside of Vada
Pinson and Frank Robinson. The infield
will feature veteran Gordy Coleman (1b), Rose (2b), veteran Leo Cardenas (ss)
and Ruiz/Johnson/Boros at third with Johnson moving to first against lefties or
playing in left if none of the above make it.
Catching is in the capable hands of Johnny Edwards.
what will make or break you and that is where it is not clear what to expect.
The ace is Jim Maloney but after that comes Jim O’Toole, Johnny Tsitouris,
veterans Joe Nuxhall and Bob Purkey, and Joey Jay trying to come back from 2
awful seasons. It is not clear who will
get the starts and who may end up in the pen. Two rookies made the squad and
both Sammy Ellis and Bill McCool will start in the bullpen but be given some
chances to start here and there. That leaves Bill Henry as the only real
veteran in the pen.
is a real question mark. The offense
seems solid built around Robinson, the fielding is pretty decent, but the only
uncertainty is pitching. If the pitching settles down and the rookies help out,
then the Reds are in position to move into any vacancy that might occur in the
top tier teams. But we see them as a 6th
1b – Gordy
2b – Pete
Ss – Leo
3b – Deron Johnson John
Lf – Marty
Cf – Vada
Rf – Frank
Bench – Tommy
Harper (r) (of), Hal Smith(C), Chico Ruiz (r) (inf), Mel Queen (of), Steve
Boros (3b – hurt)
Houston Colt 45’s. Manager – Harry Craft. 1963 Record. 66-96. 9th Place
returns as manager of the expansion Colt 45’s and though there is no dream of
first division yet, Houston under Paul Richards’ guidance is starting to build
some young talent. This season, expect
to see rookies Rusty Staub (of/1b), Jimmy Wynn (cf), Jerry Grote (c), and
possibly Joe Morgan (2b). Some veterans
pepper the lineup to give the kids some help.
Nellie Fox has been brought in to play second while veteran Eddie Kasko
comes in to play short. Walt Bond (1b)
and Bob Aspromonte (3b) complete the infield. John Bateman will also doing the catching along
with Grote. The outfield is a bit
sketchy depending on how often the rookies play. But veteran Al Spangler is
still around as is Mike White to help fill out the outfield. All in all, the offense is not that
impressive, however, and unless the kids arrive fast, Houston may have trouble
problem lies in the pitching, however, where the same crew that lost 96 games
returns with no new additions. There are
some kids on the roster who will get a look and could contribute: Larry Dierker, Claude Raymond, Danny Coombs,
and Dave Giusti. But of these only
Raymond and Giusti are slated to start the season with the team. Likely, the
Colts are not going to rise this year but watch out in the future. This year looks like 9th place again, though.
C – John
1b – Walt
2b – Nellie
Ss – Eddie
3b – Bob
Lf – Mike
Cf – Al
Rf – Rusty
Staub (r) Jim
Bench – Jimmy
Wynn (r) (of), Bob Lillis (inf), Jerry Grote (r) (c), Jim Beauchamp (1b/of)
Los Angeles Dodgers. Manager – Walt Alston. 1963 Record. 97-65 (1st place)
jumping on the Dodger bandwagon and we see no reason not to join them. The only question marks are third base and
Johnny Podres. The Dodgers swept the
Yankees last year but in a key play, Johnny Podres was hit on the hand. Now
that injury may be worse than originally thought. He has barely thrown this spring but will get
a try early in the year to evaluate his health. If Podres is out, then the
Dodgers’ road to the World Series is much tougher. That would mean that Joe
Moeller and Phil Ortega would have to shoulder some of the load. Between them they started 1 game last year.
The original plan was to move Bob Miller to the bullpen to give Ron Perranoski
a break since Larry Sherry was sent to Detroit.
So without Podres, the pitching staff is at a loss when Sandy Koufax and
Don Drysdale aren’t pitching. But those
two are still formidable.
does not feature much power but at Dodger Stadium, you are not going to
generate a lot of homeruns anyway. So they score on hitting and speed. Willie
Davis and Maury Wills provide the speed though almost everyone can run except
big Frank Howard. Everyone hits just
enough to score some runs with Tommy Davis as the NL batting champion 2 years
running. The question mark is third
base. Ken McMullen played much of last season but he is being pushed by John
Werhas and Dick Tracewski and may lose the job.
Tracewski can also play second since there is concern about Jim Gilliam’s
age. But the Dodgers are flexible since
Tommy Davis also played at third last season and Wally Moon covered the
outfield. Normally though, the outfield
is set with Willie Davis in center, Howard in right, and Tommy Davis in left. Catching is in good hands with John Roseboro
with backup from Doug Camilli and Jeff Torborg.
Dodgers will solve the third base problem but the Johnny Podres problem is
causing real concern. We still see the
Dodgers winning the pennant but the Giants will be hard on their heels.
C – John Roseboro Sandy
1b – Ron
2b – Jim
Ss – Maury
3b – John
Werhas (r) Joe
Lf – Tommy
Cf – Willie
Rf – Frank
Bench – Wes
Parker (r) (1b/of), Doug Camilli (c), Dick Tracewski (inf), Ken McMullen(3b),
Wally Moon (of), Lee Walls (of).
Milwaukee Braves. Manager – Bobby Bragan. 1963 Record.
84-78 (6th place).
gets his first full season managing and has already said that Denis Menke is
going to play - somewhere. The versatile
talent is most likely to be the shortstop as incumbent Roy McMillan’s bat just
can’t carry him far. That leaves the
infield pretty stable with power at the corners in Felipe Alou and Eddie
Mathews and Menke and veteran Frank Bolling up the middle; and Menke is
expected to have some power too. Add
that to an outfield with Hank Aaron in right and Lee Maye in center and this
team has the ability to score some runs.
Joe Torre will be the full-time catcher after a successful full season
last year and the youngster seems to keep improving. That leaves just left
field in question. And here rookie Rico Carty is going to be handed the job
until he loses it. The Braves
organization feel he can’t miss, thus accounting for the absence of young Mack
Jones who will start the year in the minors after playing some last year. Put it altogether with first baseman/catcher
Gene Oliver and this is a team to reckon with offensively.
still have to pitch to win. And here things are not so rosy. Tony Cloninger is
ready to take over the lead role from the aging Warren Spahn. Cloninger has been a swing man for 3 years
but most feel he is ready for full time starter status. Spahn still won 23 games last season so may
not be ready to hand over the leadership role just yet. Denny Lemaster adds another left arm and
probably pitched better than his record but after that it is not clear. Bob Hendley and Bob Shaw started last season
but they were sent to the Giants in the Felipe Alou deal. That leaves Hank
Fischer as the possible 4th starter though he only started 6 games
last year while working mostly out of the pen.
Rookie Bob Sadowski will also get a look and if need be ancient Billy
Hoeft might start. Otherwise, Hoeft will join knuckleballer Bob Tiefenauer and
Dan Schneider in the pretty weak bullpen.
Lots of uncertainly here not including Spahn’s age.
We see the
Braves as possible contenders but only if the pitching comes around and if
Carty is the real deal. More likely,
they are a 7th place team.
C – Joe
1b – Felipe
2b – Frank
Ss – Denis
3b – Eddie
Lf – Rico
Carty (r) Billy
Cf – Lee
Rf – Hank
Woody Woodward (inf), Ty Cline (of), Gene Oliver (c), Ed Bailey (c), Mike de la
Hoz (inf), Len Gabrielson (of), Roy McMillan (inf)
New York Mets. Manager – Casey Stengal. 1963 Record. 51-111. (Last place)
The Mets are
generating a loyal fan base but one wonders how. Again this will be the last place team – by a
mile. The starting positions below are only a suggestion except for Ron Hunt at
second and Jim Hickman somewhere in the outfield. Frank Thomas will probably play somewhere but
he could easily be at third or left field.
George Altman is hoping to find his power stroke again. But most of these players have bounced up and
down, none of them obtaining much experience.
goes for the pitching, though the top three of Jackson, Fisher, and Stallard
might actually be a decent starting 3 on a team that could support them with
some offense and defense. But they will
not find that here and so will toil to losing records and likely 20 losses. After these three, perhaps Galen Cisco is a
quality pitcher but there is not much else.
If you want
to make a sure bet, bet on the Mets for a last place finish and probably
another 100+ losses.
C – Jesse
1b – Frank
2b – Ron
Ss – Amado Samuel Galen
3b – Rod
Lf – George
Cf – Jim Hickman Ron
Rf – Joe
Bench – Chris
Cannizzaro (c), Ed Kranepool (1b), Dick Smith (1b), Tim Harkness (1b), Hawk
Taylor (of/c), Larry Elliott (of).
Philadelphia Phillies. Manager – Gene Mauch. 1963 Record. 87-75. (4th place).
were a 4th place team last year without Jim Bunning. Over the winter, Philadelphia unloaded Don
Demeter and spot starter Ed Rakow to Detroit for Bunning. Though Detroit
thought Bunning could be washed up, his numbers were not that bad despite a
losing record. If he still has a few miles left in the tank, then the Phillies
may have one of the better pitching staffs in the league. Joining Bunning will
be Ray Culp and Chris Short, though missing in action will be Cal McLish who
led the team in innings last season. He
is out until mid-season with arm issues. Replacing McLish will be lefty Dennis
Bennett and Art Mahaffey. The bullpen
features John Klippstein, Jack Baldschun, and Ryne Duren which is not the best
in the league but adequate.
contend, the Phillies will need some offense.
And that depends mostly on a rookie, Richie Allen. Allen (3b) is already being touted as likely
rookie of the year and is the reason that Demeter could be let go. Another rookie, John Hernnstein could replace
ancient Roy Sievers at first. Which
brings us to Phillies other great strength, versatility. They have two major league shortstops in
Bobby Wine and second year man Ruben Amaro. They have two second basemen in
Tony Taylor and rookie Cookie Rojas. They have a rookie outfielder in Danny
Cater who can platoon with left-handed hitting Wes Covington. Rojas can play
center to spell lefty Tony Gonzalez. Gus Triandos can platoon with Clay
Dalrymple at catcher. This is a team with a strong bench and only Johnny
Callison and Allen as the two who will likely play every day.
So we see
the Phillies possibly moving up. If the
Dodgers falter, they could fight it out with the Giants for first but likely
they finish just behind both L.A. and S.F.
C – Clay
1b – John
2b – Tony
Ss – Ruben
3b – Richie
Allen (r) Ray
Lf – Wes
Cf – Tony
Rf – Johnny
Bench – Gus
Triandos (c), Danny Cater (r) (of), Cookie Rojas (r) (ut), Bobby WIne (ss), Roy
Sievers (1b), Johnny Briggs (r) (1b/of)
Pittsburgh Pirates. Manager – Danny Murtaugh. 1963 Record. 91-70 (3rd place).
is a rare team that is replacing aging veterans but not dropping too much in
the standings. Willie Stargell is
projected to play full time this season and so is Bob Bailey. It is not clear if Stargell will push out
Donn Clendenon at first or Jerry Lynch in left but he will play somewhere. Young Gene Alley will get plenty of playing
time at both short and third. Manny Mota
is going to hit somewhere but it could be in left or in center as Bill Virdon’s
bat weakens. Jim Pagiaroni now has the
starting catching job with Smokey Burgess pinch hitting and filling in. So the infield looks like either Stargell or
Clendenon at first, Maz at second, Schofield at short, and Bailey at third with
Alley filling in. The outfield will be Clemente in right and likely Virdon in
center with left a revolving door of Stargell, Lynch, Bailey, and Mota. Figuring all of this out is Danny Murtaugh’s
job. But overall, they can hit though
the power is limited, not only by the players but by Forbes Field itself.
But as with
so many other good hitting teams, it will be the pitching that makes or breaks
this team. Fireballing Bob Veale leads the staff and is very good. Bob Friend is in his 11th season
and should still be strong. But Don Cardwell has serious arm issues and may not
contribute much. He will get some early
looks and if he does not come around, look for rookie Steve Blass to take his
place. The other starter is Joe Gibbon
who is left-handed but not more can be said. And that leaves Vern Law. The veteran retired last year but with the arm
troubles of Cardwell, has been talked into playing again. He may need a few weeks to get into shape,
however. So overall, the starters are
okay but cannot carry the team. They need the offense to come through. The bullpen has Roy Face and Al McBean. That could be good with McBean slated to get
the most work over veteran Face.
another team that is hard to place.
Maybe 5th because of the young faces but if they all gel and
the same time and the pitching improves, how knows?
C – Jim
1b – Willie
2b – Bill
Ss – Dick
3b – Bob
Lf – Jerry
Rf – Roberto
Bench – Donn
Clendenon (1b), Gene Alley (r)(inf), Smokey Burgess (c), Manny Mota (of), Gene Freese (3b), Orlando McFarlane (c).
San Francisco Giants. Manager – Al Dark. 1963 Record 88-74 (3rd Place).
traded for pitchers Bob Hendley and Bob Shaw but lost catcher Ed Bailey and
right fielder Felipe Alou in the process.
Tom Haller will resume the main catching chores so that is not a problem
and he has veteran Del Crandall to back him up.
But replacing Alou in right is a different matter. So why not replace him with an Alou? So Jay Alou will be given the best shot at
right field with Matty Alou around in case that does not work out. One of them
will join Willie Mays and homerun leader Willie McCovey in the outfield –
though Harvey Kuenn will see some at bats against lefties. Still there is some uncertainty here.
Likewise in the infield. Orlando Cepeda
is a lock at first base but the other three positions have question marks by
them. Chuck Hiller is still the second baseman but his skills are deteriorating
with his age. Ditto for Jose Pagan at short. But third has young Jim Hart ready
to take over – as long has he hits. His glove will not carry him far. If he does hit as expected, then the Giants
will have the toughest lineup in this league – going through Mays, Cepeda,
McCovey, and Hart. The top of the order
could be a bit weak, though.
So can the
pitching help the potent offense? That depends a lot on the newcomers Hendley
and Shaw. Manager Dark has already said that he wants Shaw in the bullpen
leaving Hendley to join Marichal and Sanford as the mainstays. Then it comes
down to veterans Billy O’Dell and Billy Pierce or youngsters Gaylord Perry and
Bob Bolin. Most likely all 4 will switch back and forth as needed. Then there is rookie Ron Herbel who will get a
look but the pitching mound is already pretty crowded. Sorting out the rotation
will be a chore for pitching coach Larry Jansen.
We are not
sure about this team either. The pitching is a bit sketchy though the power
looks good. Will there be enough base runners when the homeruns fly? That is the question. We are not so sure. Still, this is too good of a team to finish
below 4th so we project them 2nd.
C – Tom
1b – Orlando
2b – Chuck
Ss – Jose
3b – Jim
Hart (r) Bob
Lf – Willie
Cf – Willie
Rf – Jay
Alou (r) Billy
Bench – Matty
Alou (of), Del Crandall (c), Jim Davenport (inf), Harvey Kuenn (of), Duke
St. Louis Cardinals. Manager – Johnny Keane. 1963 Record – 93-69 (2nd place).
The Cardinals closed fast last year, almost
catching the Dodgers. So naturally most people are picking the Cardinals to
either win it or finish a close second. But we are not so sure. Last year had
Stan Musial in left and George Altman in right. Both are gone now. Musial
retired and Altman went to the Mets in the deal to get Roger Craig. So other
than Curt Flood in center, the outfield is up in the air. Likely Charley James
and Carl Warwick will start but Doug Clemons could squeeze in there along with
rookie Johnny Lewis. The infield is set
and probably the best in the business with White, Javier, Groat, and Boyer – at
least hitting wise. Tim McCarver will
do most of the catching with help from Bob Uecker. But until the outfield is
settled, the lineup is unsettled and runs might be harder to come by than last
But the pitching is solid with Gibson,
Simmons, and Broglio. Add in acquired
Roger Craig and young Ray Sadecki and it could even be good. The bullpen of Taylor and Shantz gives a R/L
combo and veteran Burdette will swing back and forth between the pen and
All in all, this is a pretty solid team but
we are just not sold on them yet. They could finish 2nd or they
could finish 5th. This is a
team that we will know more about by mid-May.
C – Tim
1b – Bill
2b – Julian
Ss – Dick
3b – Ken
Lf – Charley
Cf – Curt
Rf – Carl
Bench – Jerry
Buchek (inf), Doug Clemons(of), Johnny Lewis (r)(of), Bob Uecker (c), Goeff
is that 2nd through 7th could be thrown into a hat and
pulled out and the results might be closer to reality. There is just a hair’s difference between
them and one injury or a surprise improvement could move a team down or up. But the Dodgers are real solid and so we join
the rest of the baseball community in predicting another Dodger-Yankee matchup
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Houston Colt 45’s
New York Mets