Monday, May 09, 2005

Cardinal Trades - 1996

Here it is - the first in a series of articles in which I will evaluate the trades made by St. Louis Cardinal General Manager Walt Jocketty. This is a work in progress, and before it's over I may change the methodology being used. In general, however, this is what I have in mind.

First, the players acquired will be looked at. The total number of Win Shares they contributed to the Cardinals will be counted as the value received. Easy enough.

Second, the players traded away will be looked at as well. Since we are grading Walt Jocketty's moves instead of both GM's in question, I am going to look at the Win Shares the player(s) acquired would have had assuming they had played with the Cardinals the rest of their career.

Third, should I miss any trades that went down along the way, please pipe up. When the dust clears, I would like to have a running total of the trades made over the last 10 seasons which can be added to as time goes on. With that being said - let's get started.


The Cardinals send Jay Witasik, Allen Battle, Carl Dale, and Bret Wagner to the Oakland A's for Todd Stottlemyre.

Todd Stottlemyre became an important part of the 1996 division winning Cardinals - the first division win in St. Louis since the 1987 season. During that year, Stottlemyre went 14-11 with a 3.87 ERA over 223.1 innings, making him roughly the third best starter on the team. Overall, he pitched for the Redbirds in 1996 and 1997, plus most of 1998 before being dealt at the trade deadline. During his tenure in "The Lou", he went 35-29 with a 3.77 ERA. Not a bad record, considering the Cardinals were only 2 games over .500 over that 3 year span as a team.

Jay Witasik was the best player given up in this trade, which says a lot about what was given up. The A's only got 51 innings out of Witasik over the next 3 years, with him never posting an ERA under 5.73. Witasik was later traded to the Royals for Scott Chiasson. Over his 9 year career before this season, Witasik went 29-36 with a 4.72 ERA over 614 innings pitched, with the bulk of his games coming in relief. Stay tuned for more information on Witasik in the years ahead as he'll only turn 33 this year, currently pitching for Colorado with a 9.00 ERA over 4 innings.

Allen Battle was the next best player given up in this trade. How good was he? In 1996 for Oakland he hit .230/.324/.274 over 248 at-bats. At the age of 27, it was his last season in the majors.

Carl Dale was an even bigger bust for the A's. After spending 1996, 1997, 1998, and most of 1999 in the minors, the A's traded him to the Brewers for Rich Becker. With the Brewers, Dale ended up pitching a grand total of 4 innings in the major leagues, posting a 20.25 ERA.

Bret Wagner had the worst career of all of the above, never making it to "the show."

Win Share Totals

Todd Stottlemyer - 35 (3 years with St. Louis)

Jay Witasik - 25 (9 years and counting)
Allen Battle - 1 (1 year)
Carl Dale - 0 (1 year)
Bret Wagner - 0 (0 years)

The Cardinals trade Steve Montgomery to Oakland for Dennis Eckersley.

Eckersley, like Stottlemyre, was an important part of the 1996 playoff team. Over his two seasons with the Cards, Eckersley recorded 66 saves with a 3.58 ERA - although, it is interesting to note that he also had a 1-11 record during that timespan. Of course, considering that the guy was 41 and 42 years old during those seasons, he did a great job.

The A's, on the other hand, didn't get much out of Mr. Montgomery. During 1996 and 1997 he only pitched 20 innings for Oakland, posting a 9.45 ERA. During the 1997 season he was placed on waivers by the A's and claimed by the Cleveland Indians. The Indians waived him the following Spring, and thus began a list of events in which he signed with various teams. Overall, he ended his major league career with 90.1 innings and a 4.98 ERA.

Win Share Totals

Dennis Eckersley - 16 Win Shares (2 years with St. Louis)

Steve Montgomery - 6 Win Shares (4 years)

The Cardinals trade Bernard Gilkey to the New York Mets for Eric Ludwig, Erik Hiljus, and Yudith Ozurio.

Bernard Gilkey had signed a contract with the Cardinals early in the 1995 season, then was traded in January of 1996. I am not certain as to what the contract terms were with Gilkey, but I can tell you that the Cardinals had signed Ron Gant the previous month, giving them a log jam in the outfield. The Cardinals chose to trade away Gilkey over Brian Jordan and Ray Lankford, which wasn't a bad idea. All three of them were 28 years old, and in 1995 Gilkey had been the worst of the three as he had 16 WS compared to Jordan with 18 and Lankford with 22. Meanwhile, Gant was coming off of a 21 WS season in which he hit 29 home runs in just 119 games.

Interestingly enough, Gilkey turned in a career year in 1996, posting 30 WS while hitting .317/.393/.562 with 30 Home Runs and 117 RBI - easily out producing Gant and his 18 WS. It ended up being an aberration, however, as Gilkey never came close to matching those numbers again. In fact, after 1996 he played 5 more seasons, only hitting a total of 36 home runs over that entire time. Branch Rickey once said that it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late - but the Cardinals likely would have been better in 1996 with Gilkey and without Gant (let alone Gant's albatross contract.)

And while it's better to trade a player too soon rather than too late, it's also better to actually get something in return.

Eric Ludwick gave the Cardinals the most production of all players received in the Bernard Gilkey trade. Which is sad, considering he only pitched 16.2 innings with a 9.16 ERA for the team over a 2 year span. Of course, Oakland must have seen something in him (stay tuned for 1997).

Eric Hiljus had the best major league career of the players received in this deal. Unfortunately, the Cardinals released him in August of 1997 before he reached the majors, and thus they received no benefit from him.

Yudith Orozio never made it to the major leagues with any organization.

Win Share Totals

Eric Ludwick - 0 Win Shares (2 years in St. Louis)
Eric Hiljus - 0 Win Shares (0 years in St. Louis)
Yudith Orozio - 0 Win Shares (0 years in St. Louis)

Bernard Gilkey - 62 Win Shares (6 years)

The Cardinals send Allen Watson, Rich DeLucia, and Doug Creek to the San Francisco Giants for Royce Clayton and a player to be named (Chris Wimmer).

Royce Clayton was picked up to be a defensive shortstop - much to the chagrin of an aging Ozzie Smith. In fact, Ozzie still holds a grudge against the Cardinals for playing Royce over him during the 1996 season, even though Ozzie was the better player in Spring training. Whether Ozzie was wronged or not, Royce saw the bulk of the playing time at short for the Redbirds for parts of three seasons, hitting .262/.313/.371 with 82 stolen bases. He was eventually packaged with Todd Stottlemyer in a trade for Fernando Tatis.

Chris Wimmer never played in the major leagues.

Allen Watson is likely the biggest name on this list, due to him picking up a couple of World Series rings with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000. In 5 years after being traded from the Cardinals, Watson was 32-34 with a 5.02 ERA, spending most of the last 3 seasons as a reliever.

Rich DeLucia was a right handed pitcher who was 31 years old at the time of this trade. DeLucia was coming off of a season in which he posted a 3.39 ERA, 125 ERA+ out of the bullpen for the Cardinals. In what would be the first of many examples of Jocketty selling at just the right time, DeLucia spent the next 4 years going 11-17 with a 4.82 ERA. His last season was 1999.

Doug Creek was a lefty specialist who pitched 6.2 shutout innings for the Cardinals as a September call-up in 1995. After being traded from the Cardinals, Creek ended up playing for 7 different major league teams plus a team in Japan. Overall, his MLB numbers were 7-14 with a 5.32 ERA.

Win Share Totals

Royce Clayton - 32 Win Shares (3 years in St. Louis)
Chris Wimmer - 0 Win Shares (0 years in St. Louis)

Allen Watson - 25 Win Shares (5 years)
Rich DeLucia - 11 Win Shares (4 years)
Doug Creek - 9 Win Shares (7 years)

1996 Totals

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 83

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 139

Net Win Shares Gained by St. Louis - negative 56 (roughly 19 fewer wins acquired than traded away)

Keep in mind that the -56 WS value is slightly misleading. For one thing, Gilkey provided for most of the loss (30 WS) in one year and one year only. What's more, Jay Witasik is still posting WS to this day. Every WS he racks up makes the 1996 trade look worse, as I am looking at the difference assuming the Cardinals had kept players traded away for their entire career.

Considering that many trades made by the Cardinals in years past have been made for short term benefits, the following table is going to provide useful. Basically, I have broken down the net difference in WS traded away and acquired into a year by year basis. By doing that, the WS totals racked up by players like Witasik over long stretches of time is more adequately accounted for. Listed below is the year, the WS net difference, and the equivalent in wins.

Year, Win Shares, Wins

1996, -5, -2
1997, 2, 1
1998, 4, 1
1999, -26, -9
2000, -8, -3
2001, -10, -3
2002, -7, -2
2003, -3, -1
2004, -3, -1

As you can see, when you spread the trades out over the time in which the players impacted their respective teams, things smooth out more. In 1996, the Cardinals ended up trading away 5 win shares, or 2 wins more than they received in return. Of course, when you consider the free agent signings of Ron Gant (18 WS), Gary Gaetti (16) and Andy Benes (14), the Cardinals still ended up fielding an 88 win team and making it to within 1 win of the World Series. What's more, the trades made prior to the 1996 season actually made the Cardinals a better team in 1997 and 1998, as Gilkey started performing more like the Cardinals probably expected him to.

Obviously the table is a work in progress in every year from 1997 and up. Stay tuned over the next several weeks as I pick apart all trades in every individual season and continue to add up both the overall and the individual season impact that Walk Jocketty has made through trades.

Note - if anyone out there can explain to me how to put a table into my blog via html, please either email me or place something in the comments section. It would be nice to make the table easier to read.


At 4:49 PM, Blogger L Boros said...

robb --- this is cool; looking forward to the rest. i'll post a ref'nce over at my site. as a heads up, i've been working on a trade article too, which i'll prob'ly post within the next week. there is a small amount of overlap with what you're doing, but i'm not considering the entire trade record or delving into win shares at all. so i think it will be a nice complement to what you're doing.

btw, re the negative win-share outcome, you might recall that hardball times did a thing on trades this winter and focused specifically on the smoltz-for-doyle alexander trade, which was very lopsided (in atl's favor obviously) in terms of win shares. i think they made a good case that detroit still made out well in the deal, because they dealt value they could afford to part with at the time (young pitching) for value they needed to put them over the top that year. same situation applies vis-vis jock's '96 trades, it seems to me.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Robb said...

After I go through all the trades, I may go back and do a similar analysis with FA signings, as well as overall team payroll. I agree with you - even in giving up more WS than receiving, it doesn't mean the trades were bad for the team as a whole.

(I still understand why the Cardinals thought Gant would be an upgrade over Gilkey - and in fact, Gant in 1996 was better than Gilkey in 1995).

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an awesome idea. The sort of thing I'd probably think about when I'm out walking, minus the Win Shares part.

As an aside, Stottlemeyre was one of my favorite pick-ups, in large part because of what he did in 1998, when the rotation disintegrated, so that instead of Stott with Alan Benes, Morris, Osborne and Mercker as No. 5, it was Stott, Merck, and the likes of Manny Aybar behind them.

I've long held the opinion Stott blew out his arm dragging that miserable pitching staff up a mountain the first half of the season. Here's the number.

Stott per-All star game: 19 starts, 139 IP, 9-6, 3.11 ERA

Stott post All-Star until traded: 4 starts, 22 IP, 0-3, 6.15 ERA.

Small sample size caveats all around, but it seems to be a portent of the arm surgeries that were yet to come.

Sorry, about the off-topic rant. Still, that's amazing that we're coming up that short in Win Shares, even Gilkey's ludicrous 1996. Question, Lankford and Jordan both had good seasons, what were their Win Shares compared to Bernard's? I know it was better to hold on to them given they've lasted longer but for that one year, I'm curious. Looking for to rest.


At 12:56 PM, Blogger Robb said...

Stottlemyer was a great pick-up by the Cardinals, I agree. The wife of a friend of mine actually boycotted the Cardinals after he was traded away in 1998. Well, at least for a short while. ;)

Here are the win shares totals you asked about (plus a couple of extra years).


Gilkey - 30
Jordan - 27
Lankford - 25
Gant - 18


Lankford - 24
Gilkey - 16
Gant - 11
Jordan - 1


Lankford - 27
Jordan - 21
Gant - 11
Gilkey - 6

In 1996, Jordan and Lankford were solid - Gilkey was just slightly better. Over time, of course, they probably made the right call (other than Jordan's injury problems in 1997, which can't exactly be predicted.)

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Eleven said...

As long as you are only comparing the number of years that the player played WITH St. Louis.... VS the TOTAL years for the players given up, you will always come up with a negative value.

St. Louis wouldn't always keep the other players around. Whether through trades, or free agency, they would probably move on.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Robb said...

I don't think that's going to be true in the long run. We'll see, but I think Jim Edmonds alone is going to wash it all into positive territory. (Dmitri Young and Braden Looper may skew it back, of course.)

I personally didn't think that just comparing Jocketty vs. trading partner would be interesting enough. I'm more interested in "Gee, if we'd only kept that guy around..."

The other option would be to figure out how many more years the player had left on his contract while he was with St. Louis, and only count those years. Which may in fact be more accurate. (J.D. Drew is a great example of that - why should his performance in 2005 make Walt look bad, when they got Marquis and King past 2004, but would have lost Drew to FA anyway.)

I may have to go back and modify 1996 and 1997 to reflect contract lengths. I'll think about that.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger cardsfanboy said...

good article, just for the record, instead of worrying about contract lengths or anything like that which may require a tad more work, a simplistic approach may be good enough.

evaluate the trade, until both of the teams involved with the original players no longer have the original players.(not sure I worded that correctly, but here is what I mean)

say the cardinals trade wiht the marlins (random names, for simplicity) Braden Looper for Edgar Renteria. 3 years later Braden is traded to the mets, a year after that Renteria joins another team as a free agent, at this point in time neither teams has the original player they traded for and the counting should stop there. (you would count loopers 3 years as a marlin then his one year as a met)

same thing about retirement,(see McGwire)

harder part is multiplayer deals. since it's possible that one player(usually a minor leaguer) may stay with a team for a prolonged period of time even if they never make it to the majors.

drawback of course it doesn't accurately reflect all the thinking involved in a trade(see jd drew) but I think for simplicity sake it would make it easier and be pretty fair on the whole.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Robb said...

It should be somewhat easy to go back and make modifications like that one (years with new team) after the fact. I hope.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is being ill...


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