Cardinals Trades - 1999
Let's get right to it.
The Cardinals send Braden Looper, Armando Almanza, and Pablo Ozuna to the Florida Marlins for Edgar Renteria.
In an effort to win the World Series before Y2K ended the world as we know it, Walt went after a young shortstop with a championship in his portfolio.
Braden Looper was easily the best player given up in this trade. Having pitched 3.1 innings for the Cardinals in 1998 with a 5.40 ERA, young Looper has gone on to become a closer, currently with the Mets. Since leaving St. Louis Looper is 18-18 with 75 saves, a 3.45 ERA, and a World Series ring.
Almanza hasn't been as successful as Looper, but is still making a living playing a kids game. He managed to play 5 years with the Marlins and spent last year in Atlanta. Over his career, the reliever is 14-13 with 2 saves and a 4.87 ERA over 210.2 innings.
Ozuna was supposed to develop into the stud of this bunch. Yet more proof that prospects are never a sure thing. Ozuna made it to the majors in 2000 at the age of 25 and hit .333/.333/.375 over 24 at-bats. He's never quite managed to stick at the major league level, however. Before this season he's never had more than 47 at-bats in a given year. His overall hitting line is .261/.297/.333 with a OPS+ of 63 and 0 MLB home runs.
Edgar Renteria ended up being a nice, solid player for the Cardinals. Over his 6 years in St. Louis he hit .290/.350/.420 and picked up 2 gold gloves, 3 silver sluggers. He had an especially great 2003, hitting .330/.394/.480 with 47 doubles, 34 stolen bases, and 100 RBI. That's a lot of production out of a defensive shortstop. Unfortunately for Cardinal fans, his 2003 season and not the rest of his hitting career was looked at this off-season, putting him out of the Cardinals price range. Well, I say unfortunately - the Cardinals appear to be doing just fine with Eckstein, Mulder, and Grudzielanek for about the same amount of 2005 dollars.
Win Share Totals
Edgar Renteria - 109 Win Shares (6 years in St. Louis)
Braden Looper - 50 Win Shares (6 years)
Armando Almanza - 10 Win Shares (6 years)
Pablo Ozuna - 2 Win Shares (4 years)
The Cardinals send Ron Gant, Jeff Brantley, and Cliff Politte to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Garrett Stephenson and Ricky Bottalico
This trade is a classic example of teams dumping players that they really wish they didn't have onto each other, with both sides hoping they can get the benefit of a change of scenery bump in production. In the end, clubhouse benefits aside, the Phillies ended up getting the short term benefit of this trade.
Ron Gant and Tony La Russa supposedly didn't get along. Claims of racism surfaced, but have never made any sense to me personally. (Would a true racist actually dislike blacks, but have no problem with Latin players? I guess it's possible...) Gant had a respectable 1998, playing in 138 games and hitting .260/.364/.430. His 16 win shares that year were more than any Cardinal outfielder - it was a year, after all, in which Willie McGee got 271 at-bats while hitting .251/.293/.277. (How he got playing time with a racist manager is beyond me.) The Phillies kept Gant around until the trade deadline the following year, when they sent him on to the Angels. Overall, Gant played 5 years after his stint in St. Louis, hitting .254/.345/.457 with 37 home runs over 859 at-bats.
Jeff Brantely really was horrible after leaving St. Louis - even worse than he was with the Cards. Over three years, the current announcer went 3-10 with a 5.61 ERA over 85 innings pitched. Somehow, some way the Phillies allowed him to record 23 saves in 2000 despite a 5.86 ERA, 81 ERA+.
Cliff Politte was a player that, for some reason, the Cardinals threw in in this deal. Personally, I don't see why it was needed. He was born and raised in St. Louis and had shown some limited promise in a few of his 8 starts during the 1998 season. But gone he was. The Phillies eventually converted him to a reliever during the 2000 season, which was a good move for Mr. Politte. Overall, Politte is 11-17 with 14 saves and a 4.26 ERA over his post-St. Louis career.
Coming to St. Louis in this deal was Curt Schilling's buddy Garrett Stephenson. Stephenson was always a little bit better in his mind than on the field. Overall, the Cardinals got a good season out of him in 2000, and an O.K. one in 2003. Over four years in St. Louis, Garrett was 42-47 with a 4.46 ERA over 781.2 innings.
Then there was Ricky Bottalico. I'm not sure why the Cardinals thought that he would be an upgrade over Brantely considering his 6.44 ERA in 1998. But nonetheless, he was the new closer for 1999. The good news was he recorded 20 saves. The bad news was he had a 3-7 record. When your closer has a 4.91 ERA and 1.80 WHIP, things are not good - although, to be fair, he was actually better than Brantley in 1999. Thankfully, though, he was a free agent after the season.
Win Share Totals
Garrett Stephenson - 21 Win Shares (4 years in St. Louis)
Ricky Bottalico - 4 Win Shares (1 year in St. Louis)
Ron Gant - 39 Win Shares (5 years)
Jeff Brantely - 5 Win Shares (3 years)
Cliff Politte - 21 Win Shares (6 years)
The Cardinals send Shawon Dunston to the New York Mets for Craig Paquette
Two of my recent least favorite Cardinals involved in the same trade. I didn't really completely dislike Dunston, so much that I hated seeing him actually taking playing time away from J.D. Drew in the outfield. The defensive downgrade alone should have been enough, but Drew was a much better hitter - even against lefties, which was usually when Dunston got the nod (This was especially a problem in 2000, when Dunston came back like a fungus). Whatever the case, Dunston wasn't bad for the Cardinals in 1999, hitting .307/.327/.467 over 150 at-bats.
Craig Paquette was very similar to Dunston in that he despised drawing walks. In six major league seasons prior to 1999, Paquette's single season high in OBP was .296. Unfortunately (so to speak), he won over a lot of fans at the end of the 1999 season by hitting 10 home runs in just 48 games. Now - I can't completely discount Paquette. There is value in a guy that was able to play 1st, 2nd, 3rd, right field, and left field. And a power bat from the right side of the plate is always nice off of the bench. I simply never liked a player of his talent actually getting 340 or more at-bats in a season, as he did in both 2000 and 2001. Overall, Paquette spent parts of three seasons with the birds on the bat, hitting .267/.307/.461.
Sidebar - A friend of mine went to Colorado during the opening series of the 2001 season. Sitting on the lower level, he was able to maneuver into position to get an autograph from Paquette and speak to him briefly before the game. My friend asked Paquette how much impact young Mr. Pujols would have on the team that year. Paquette, obviously disgusted that Pujols might take away some of his playing time with McGwire on the DL, basically said "the kid isn't good enough to stick on the roster long enough to have an impact." My friend was so ticked that he ended up throwing away the baseball. That comment, combined with Paquette's general suckiness, helped me to thoroughly enjoy it when Vina went on the DL in 2003 - a week after Paquette retired from baseball while toiling in AAA Memphis.
Win Share Totals
Craig Paquette - 25 Win Shares (3 Years in St. Louis)
Shawon Dunston - 4 Win Shares (1 Year)
Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 159
Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 131
Net Win Shares gained - 28, or roughly 9 wins
Basically, Walt had what I would consider to be a great trade (Renteria), a solid trade (Paquette), and a bad trade (Stephenson/Bottalico.)
Renteria, as mentioned above, had a great run with the Cardinals. He was especially valuable to the team in 2002 and 2003 when he recorded 26 and 25 win shares, respectively. In fact, Renteria had more win shares in each and every season with the Cardinals than Looper, Almanza, and Ozuna combined.
Paquette drove me crazy, but he was in fact a solid bench player. The fact that Paquette had more WS in 1999 for the Cardinals (5) than Dunston had with the Mets (4) would have made it a decent trade to start with. When you further consider that he contributed another 20 WS with the Redbirds over the next 2 years - with Dunston as a teammate in 2000 as he re-signed - and it is an obvious no-brainer.
The third trade, as already stated, was a case of house-cleaning in both organizations. In reality, Gant ended up being the best player involved in the deal, but only had 2 solid seasons over the rest of his career. Considering that Stephenson had 1 himself, the bulk of the trade deficit in this deal was in the 1999 season. If the Cardinals could have kept Politte for themselves in this deal and worked them into their bullpen, Jocketty wouldn't have looked quite as bad on this one.
Here's the updated WS matrix, updated through the 1999 trades.
1996, -5, -2
1997, 9, 3
1998, -5, -2
1999, -3, -1
2000, -4, -1
2001, -26, -9
2002, -29, -9
2003, -15, -5
2004, -18, -6
Basically, you have the Cardinals not gaining or losing much in Walt's trades through the 1999 season. As far as future talent, the Cardinals had so far sent away roughly 9 wins in both 2001 and 2002. Could that deficit be made up in future trades? Stay tuned for the 2000 season, when Jocketty really kicked it into gear.