Monday, May 23, 2005

Cardinals Trades - 1998

After almost two weeks without working on this series, I'm finally back at it. That pesky real world just gets in the way sometimes. Hopefully I can rip out 2 or 3 of these this week, as well as deal with the 2005 Redbirds.

The trades we'll talk about here are those that had an impact on the 1998 team. For that reason, the Jeff Brantley/Dmitri Young trade will be discussed here, even though it actually took place in late 1997.

The Cardinals send Dmitri Young to the Reds for Jeff Brantley

Young, a switch hitter, was a nice, solid player that had progressed through the Cardinal system. Since he was primarily a 1st baseman, and since a certain Red headed power hitter had been acquired in 1997, Mr. Young became expendable. Prior to the trade, Young had hit .257/.337/.354 over 362 major league at-bats with St. Louis over the previous 2 seasons. With the Reds, Young turned into a solid player, hitting .304/.357/.488 over the next 4 years, playing 1st, 3rd, left field, and right field. Overall, Dmitri has hit .298/.350/.494 in his 7 seasons since the trade. Considering he'll turn 32 in October, he should have several years left in the tank.

Jeff Brantly was supposed to be the closer that the Cardinals needed in 1998 to replace the departed Dennis Eckersley. Brantley was coming off of a season in which he was only able to pitch 11.2 innings, but had recorded 44 saves with a 2.41 ERA just 2 years previous. The good news was that Brantley was healthy in 1998. The bad news was that he would never sniff his 1996 levels again in his career. He ended up only playing 1 year for the Redbirds, going 0-5 with 14 saves over 50.2 innings. His ERA+ of 94 was actually the best of the last 4 years of his career.

Win Share Totals

Jeff Brantley - 5 Win Shares (1 year in St. Louis)

Dmitri Young - 86 Win Shares (7 years)

Cardinals send Todd Stottlemyre and Royce Clayton to the Texas Rangers for Darren Oliver, Fernando Tatis, and Mark Little

Even though it's only been 7 years, it seems odd to be talking about a time when the Cardinals were selling and the Rangers were buying in July. But that's exactly what happened in 1998, when it was obvious by the deadline that the Cardinals weren't going to be playing come October.

Todd Stottlemyre was solid for the Rangers in 1998, going 5-4 with a 4.33 ERA over 10 starts. Thanks to help from Stottlemyre and Clayton, the Rangers finished 1st in the West, 3 games up on the Angels - then proceeded to get swept by the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. Stottlemyre got one start in the post season where he went 8 innings, gave up 2 earned runs, struck out 8 - and took the loss as David Wells pitched 8 shutout innings. After the season Todd signed with the Diamondbacks, where he was never healthy again. Over his post-Cardinal career he went 20-15 with a 4.68 ERA, never pitching more than 101.1 innings in an individual season.

The Rangers got a bit more of a return with Clayton as he stayed in town through the 2000 season. His best overall season came with the Rangers in 1999, when he hit .288/.346/.445 and had a 98 OPS+. Overall, Clayton never really put it all together. He will likely be remembered as a guy with a slightly above average glove and a below average bat with some speed in his prime. Overall, his post-Cardinals numbers were .261/.316/.391, and he's still playing in 2005.

Darren Oliver was the key target of this trade. The 27 year old left handed starter was 41-27 with a 4.68 ERA over the previous 6 years for the Rangers. After joining the Cardinals, he went 13-13 with a 4.26 ERA in St. Louis through the 1999 season. After 1999, he was granted free agency.

Fernando Tatis ended up being the diamond in the rough among this group -although, it was a short lived success. Tatis, a third baseman, had hit .264/.297/.378 in limited time with the Rangers between 1997 and 1998. Only 23 years old at the time of the trade, the Cardinals plugged him into the every day lineup and were not disappointed. Through the 2000 season, Tatis would hit .282/.378/.525 with 60 home runs over 1063 at-bats. His 1999 season was especially a memorable one as he hit .298/.404/.553 with 31 doubles, 34 home runs, and 107 RBI. Rob Neyer declared that he would be the best 3rd baseman in the current decade before the 2000 season (I searched, but can't find the article.) And, of course, there is the 2 grand slams in the same inning thing. All in all, he was a great player in his brief time with the team. (More one him in a future article.)

Mark Little actually played for the Cardinals in 1998. 12 at-bats, 1 hit, 2 walks, and a stolen base. He was later granted free agency.

Win Share Totals

Darren Oliver - 5 Win Shares (2 years in St. Louis)
Fernando Tatis - 39 Win Shares (3 years in St. Louis)
Mark Little - 0 Wins Shares (1 year in St. Louis)

Todd Stottlemyer - 16 Win Shares (5 years)
Royce Clayton - 63 Win Shares (7 years)

1998 Totals

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 62

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 165

Net Win Shares gained by St. Louis - negative 103, or roughly 34 wins

Running Totals (1996 - 1998)

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 254

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 342

Net Win Shares gained by St. Louis - negative 88, or roughly 29 wins

The trades made for the 1998 season really appear to be bad. Part of that is actual, part of it is misleading.

Dmitri Young for Jeff Brantley has been claimed by Walt Jocketty to have been his worst trade, but it's not as bad as some make it out to be. Yes, Brantley was a bust. Yes, Young has been a solid player. And yes, the Cardinals should have gotten more out of him. But Young's best season was 2003, when he posted 19 win shares. Those win shares in 2003 would have made him the 5th best player on the Cardinal team, behind Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, and Renteria. Of course, if the Cardinals had kept him, the Tino Martinez experiment may have never been needed.

The other aspect of the 1998 trades that looks bad today is trading Royce Clayton. Of course, we all know that having Edgar over Clayton was eventually what took place, as will be covered in the 1999 trade edition. The simple fact that Clayton has remained a regular over the last 7 years skews the numbers away from the Cardinals. I am, as you can see, continuing to count ALL win shares accumulated post-trade against the Cardinals. I will keep doing that until I have covered the 2004 season. At that point, I will likely go back and adjust the numbers to reflect the contract status of players traded away. (The Cardinals, for example, may not have chosen to re-sign Young after is arbitration years were up.) But for now I want to see how the numbers shake out once Renteria, Kile, Edmonds, and Rolen enter the picture.

Finally, here is the new version of win shares accumulated by year with the 1998 trades included. Once again, listed are the year, net win shares picked up, and net wins picked up.

1996, -5, -2
1997, 9, 3
1998, -5, -2
1999, -2, -1
2000, -14, -5
2001, -34, -11
2002, -21, -7
2003, -29, -10
2004, -22, -7

Right now, it's not an encouraging trend. With that being said, 1999 and 2000 are the years and Jocketty really started to acquire talent. Stay tuned.


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