Bing Devine keeps changing players around as if they were so many bubble gum cards. The Cardinals’ general manager ought to receive an award as the best friend the airlines ever had. Before Bing is through, the Redbirds’ 1968 pennant winners will have to hold a reunion soon if they want to reminisce about the good old championship days. Thanks to Devine, and an assist from the expansion draft, the Cardinals are developing one of the biggest alumni organizations in the business.
Jim Hicks won’t have any trouble remembering Memorial Day. That’s when he was dealt to the Angels for Vic Davalillo. Then, just a couple of days later, man-in-motion Devine was at it again. Mel Nelson headed for Tulsa (American Association). Gary Waslewski moved on to Montreal. The incoming flights brought Dennis Ribant from Tulsa, from which Bing had earlier plucked Chuck Taylor, and Mudcat Grant from the Expos.
Previously subtracted from the ’68 flag winners by Devine were such men as Orlando Cepeda, Bobby Tolan, Johnny Edwards, Wayne Granger, Ed Spiezo, Dick Schofield, Ron Davis, and Larry Jaster. Besides, Roger Maris had retired. Waslewski had been obtained from the Red Sox for Schofield. Hicks had been promoted from Tulsa, where he hit a whopping .366 last season.
The bullpen had been one of the Cardinals’ chief concerns since spring training, especially since Grange had been swapped and Ron Willis had been having arm trouble. The Cardinals’ relief staff currently has an ERA of 5.11. Ribant, acquired in a minor league deal, earned another big league shot with a good start at Tulsa. Bing didn’t forget Ribant’s good work for the Mets when Devine bossed that club. It was Bing who became the butt of wisecracks by New York writers after he sent 8-game winner Ribant to the Pirates in a deal involving Don Bosch, who quickly turned into a bust with the Mets.