Below them are the sleepers, the long shots. There are the Cardinals, who had the best attack in the league last season and, except for Pittsburgh, the worst pitching. Eddie Stanky, who memorizes figures, recalls that St. Louis lost 30-odd games, after leading through the seventh inning, because he had no relief pitcher to hold the advantage. The Cardinals finished sixth, 25 games behind the Giants.
Frank Smith, a fine relief pitcher for Cincinnati, and Tony Jacobs, ditto for Rochester, have been brought in to alter that situation. St. Louis has two moderately renowned rookies—Ken Boyer, a big, fast, agile and powerful third baseman, and Bill Virdon, an outfielder of grace, speed and promise.
They need pitchers to help Harvey Haddix. Stanky hopes he has them around, bearing such names as Brooks Lawrence, Tom Poholsky, Gordon Jones, Stu Miller and Vic Raschi. His hopes aren't necessarily hollow, even though at the moment Raschi's back feels like a hollow tooth.
Since spring exercises began, people who admire hitters of the Ted Kluszewski-Jim Greengrass- Gus Bell- Ray Jablonski stripe have been saying that if the Reds could discover some big league pitchers they might alter the sleeping habits of many opponents. Cincinnati's articulate manager, Mr. Tebbetts, concurs, but he also disclaims any gift for passing miracles.
"We have," he says, "three pitchers who can win 12 games apiece in the National League. I know they can, because they have done it—Joe Nuxhall, Art Fowler and Corky Valentine. The first question now is, can any or all of these three move up this year into the class that wins from 15 to 20 games?
"If they can, is there somebody else on the club who can come along as a 12-game winner behind them? With a pitching staff, it's a matter of building, not a question of miracles."
Then, because it's spring, the manager draws a long breath and adds: "Of course [sigh], of course, if everything worked out perfectly, we could take it all."
Thus reads the latest bulletin from Delphi:
The Giants, Dodgers and Braves have everything, provided they also have luck; the Cardinals have power, defense and speed, need pitching; the Reds need pitching, lack speed.
If they're all possible winners, then there must be some losers. That's why Phillies, Pirates, Cubs were born.