In 4th year, Rolen looks to climb HOF ballot

November 17th, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- is back on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, and his fourth year could see another significant jump in voting by Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters.

Rolen saw his support jump up 18.1% last year, appearing on 35.3% of ballots compared to 17.2% the year prior. Despite his steady rise since first appearing on the ballot, Rolen was still well off the 75% threshold that players must be selected on to be elected. However, this year’s ballot doesn’t feature any notable first-timers, so that could mean potentially large percentage increases for others who continue to appear.

Some of Rolen's best years over his 17-year career were spent in St. Louis. He won four of his eight Gold Glove Awards with the Cards, and only Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt won more Gold Gloves at third base. Rolen also hit 316 home runs and had a career OPS of .855. His best season was in 2004, when he hit .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBIs as part of the juggernaut St. Louis team that won 105 games.

Right-hander Dan Haren, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2001 and pitched in St. Louis from '03-04, is on the ballot for the first time. Haren had a 4.85 ERA across 28 games and 118 2/3 innings with the Cardinals, but he went on to have a 13-year career with the A’s, D-backs, Angels, Nationals, Dodgers, Marlins and Cubs. A three-time All-Star, Haren posted a career 3.75 ERA and a 153-131 record.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y., and will also feature the 2020 class, including former Cardinals Larry Walker and Ted Simmons. The '21 class will not feature any non-BBWAA inductees, as the Golden Days and Early Baseball Era Committees have postponed their votes until the winter of '21-22.

BBWAA voters must submit their votes by year’s end. The results will be revealed on Jan. 26 on MLB Network. Players much receive at least 5% support in order to stay on the ballot the next year.

Cardinals sign Minor League catcher to add depth
The Cardinals signed catcher to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training on Saturday, a move that addresses catching depth in their farm system ahead of 2021. Heineman, 29, spent this past season with the Giants and appeared in 15 games. After originally being drafted by Houston in '12, he's hit .285 over eight years in the Minors. He also played in the Milwaukee, Arizona and Miami organizations, and in '19, he hit .341 with a 1.019 OPS in 48 games with the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate. He made his Major League debut that season.

Adding Heinemen to the organization does not change anything about the Cards’ intent to re-sign free agent Yadier Molina or have Andrew Knizner as Molina’s likely backup. Heineman fills the gap between Knizner and prospect Ivan Herrera, who is considered the long-term catcher but still has not played above Double-A Springfield. Herrera, 20, spent last season working at the Cardinals’ alternate training site and, depending on what the Minor League season looks like next year, he's likely on track to play at Class A Advanced Palm Beach or Springfield. He still has some time before reaching the Majors, thus the Cardinals’ need to add catching depth.

Molina is fielding interest from three or four teams, including the Cardinals. His agent, Melvin Roman, continues to engage in talks with St. Louis, but neither side expects the pace of those talks to accelerate soon. Molina, who is seeking a two-year contract, wants to see what his value on the market is, and that might hinge on how teams approach catcher J.T. Realmuto, one of the top free agents this offseason.

Familiar faces open Dominican Winter League
The Águilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican Winter League opened their season Sunday with a pair of Cardinals hitting in the middle of their lineup. First baseman John Nogowski and designated hitter Rangel Ravelo hit fourth and fifth, respectively, in Águilas’ 8-5 extra-innings loss to Gigantes del Ciabao. Ravelo hit a home run in the fourth inning.

Along with Nogowski and Ravelo, infielder Edmundo Sosa and right-hander Junior Fernández -- who gave up the winning three runs in the 10th inning -- are on Águilas’ roster this offseason. Sosa impressed many throughout the Cardinals organization in winter ball last year, so his season will be one to watch as he looks to compete for an Opening Day roster spot again in St. Louis next year.