Monday, August 15, 2005

Cardinal Trades - 2002

This was an interesting year in Cardinals history. The somewhat expected death of Jack Buck came first, quickly followed by the very unexpected death of Darryl Kile. The death of Kile brought on a trade that likely wouldn't have happened other wise, in the form of Chuck Finley. On the bright side, 2002 also saw the addition of current cornerstone (when healthy) Scott Rolen.

The Cardinals send Luis Garcia and Covelli "Coco" Crisp to the Cleveland Indians for Chuck Finley.

As I mentioned above, this trade likely wouldn't have even taken place without the unfortunate death of Darryl Kile. With that being said, you may remember that 2002 actually featured several rotation members going through health problems. Woody Williams missed a lot of time with an injury. Andy Benes more or less retired early in the season, only to come back very strong after the death of Kile. And Bud Smith started his repid decline during the 2002 season, after having a very promising 2001. However, the Cardinals had been treading water in the division behind the solid starting pitching of Matt Morris, Darryl Kile, and Jason Simontacchi (aka, the Brit Reames of 2002.)

Anyway, the death of Kile, combined with the injuries to Williams and the uncertainty surrounding Benes, led to the need for another starting pitcher. Adding a lefty to the rotation was a bonus.

Sent away in this deal was Luis Garcia, the key player in the trade at the time. Garcia has never played in the major leagues.

Coco Crisp was actually a player to be named later in this deal. Obviously, the Indians did a nice job in naming him later, because he's made this trade one that is coming back to hurt the Cardinals a little in present day. After being acquired in Cleveland in 2002, the Indians promoted him from AA all the way to the majors, where he hit .260/.314/.386 over 127 at-bats. Interestingly enough, he provided the Indians with 3 Win Shares in 2002, whereas Finley provided the Cardinals with 4. Overall, Crisp (prior to this season) has hit .280/.324/.401 for the Indians over the past 3 seasons, spending most of his time in center field. In 2005, he's currently hitting .296/.345/.446, 791 OPS.

Chuck Finley was 39 years old at the time of his acquisition, and he ended up finishing his career as a Cardinal. During his half season in St. Louis, Finley went 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA, 103 ERA+. He eventually ended up getting the only win for the Cardinals in the NLCS despite giving up 4 earned runs over 5 innings pitched against the Giants.

Win Share Totals

Chuck Finley - 4 (1 year in St. Louis)

Luis Garcia - 0
Coco Crisp - 24 (3 years and counting)

The Cardinals send Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin, and Bud Smith to the Philadelphia Phillies for Scott Rolen and Doug Nickle.

The rumors running up to the trade deadline always mentioned the Cardinals as a possibility in this trade, but it took a while for me to believe it was going to happen. Over the last week, the rumors had the Cardinals giving up both Bud Smith and Jimmy Journell, which had me thinking the price was too high (shows what I know.) In the end, the Cardinals ended up giving up 3 players, and actually getting 2 in return.

Polanco was included in the trade in order to give the Phillies a 3rd baseman to replace Rolen. Polanco had always been a solid hitter, but not for a corner infielder. What's more, his glove was always great, no matter where they seemed to play him in St. Louis. I, for one, was one of the people interested in moving Renteria for needed players, while keeping Polanco at shortstop. Whatever the case, Polanco brought Rolen into town, and it's hard to argue with that. Over three seasons with the Phillies, Polanco hit .294/.340/.441, 781 OPS, spending most of his time at 2nd base over the last 2 years.

Also included in the trade was Mike Timlin, who was getting ready to become a free agent. Timlin was actually one of the better arms in the Cardinal bullpen in 2002 (2.51 ERA, 156 ERA+), making me scratch my head as to why he was included in the deal at the time. After all - the Phillies weren't going to the playoffs, and Timlin wasn't going to be back with them in 2003. I, for one, would have liked to have seem Timlin stay in town, but that's splitting hairs at this point. Timlin finished off the season in Philly, posting a 3.79 ERA over 35.2 innings. He has since spent his time in Boston, picking up a World Series ring. Since leaving St. Louis, Timlin is 14-11 with 3 saves and a 3.82 ERA.

Bud Smith has not pitched in the majors since this trade. As far as I can tell, he actually pitched in 3 minor league games this year, but hasn't been in a game since mid-May. I'd love to see him get it back together some day, but at this point it's a long shot. At least he can tell his kids that he pitched a no-hitter in the majors.

Scott Rolen probably doesn't need a very detailed introduction here. He was a former rookie of the year who already had 3 gold gloves when he was picked up in this trade. What's more, he had hit 25 or more home runs in each of the previous 4 seasons. He had a rap as a bit of an injury prone player, but it was believed that playing on grass rather than turf would help him out. So far, I believe that has actually helped, despite his injury problems last year and this. Especially this year, when his problems were caused by a collision. Since coming to St. Louis, Rolen has hit .296/.381/.561, 942 OPS, including 76 home runs and 272 RBI (not counting 2005.) He's pretty good.

Doug Nickle was placed on waivers right after this trade and claimed by the Padres. He hasn't pitched in the major leagues since.

Win Share Totals

Scott Rolen - 75 (3 years in St. Louis)
Doug Nickle - 0

Placido Polanco - 42 (3 years)
Mike Timlin - 17 (3 years)
Bud Smith - 0

The Cardinals send Jared Blasdell and Jason Karnuth to the Cubs for Jeff Fassero

Supposedly, Dave Duncan saw Jeff Fassero jogging near the arch on a hot day in August during a Cubs series. His dedication to staying healthy despite playing for a horrible Cubs team impressed Duncan, who pressed for the Cardinals to pick him up.

Jared Blasdell was the main player the Cubs wanted for Fassero. Considering he never played in the majors, I guess that was a bad idea.

Jason Karnuth was a player to be named later in this trade. He pitched 5 innings for the Cardinals in 2001 with a 1.80 ERA, but hasn't pitched in the majors since.

Fassero actually wasn't too bad for the Cardinals in 2002, pitching 18 innings with a 3.00 ERA, 130 ERA+. He also ended up pitching 3.1 shutout innings in the playoffs, which included the winning decision in 2 of the 3 Cardinal wins against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. I'll do my best to remember that part of his career in St. Louis, rather than his adventures for the team in 2003.

Jeff Fassero - 2 (2 years in St. Louis)

Jared Blasdell - 0
Jason Karnuth - 0

The Cardinals send Chris Morris and Mike Matthews to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jamey Wright.

I may be wrong, but I remember this trade as an attempt to revive the career of a starter who had shown some promise earlier in his career. To be honest, they gave up too much for Wright, even though it really didn't hurt them in 2002 or beyond.

Chris Morris was a young player who many thought would end up being a great leadoff hitter for the Cardinals. Morris tore up A ball in 2001, posting a .401 OBP and stealing 111 bases - an organization record, if I recall correctly. For whatever reason, however, the Cardinals traded him away for Wright. Even more perplexing, however, is the fact that Morris is still in the minors - but has never played above A ball.

Mike Matthews was also sent away in this trade, but never really put together a solid season in the majors after leaving town. Overall, he went 8-5 with a 5.02 ERA over 3 seasons after this trade.

Jamey Wright pitched in 4 games for the Cardinals, including 3 starts. Overall, he went 2-0 with a 4.80 ERA, 81 ERA+. For whatever reason, he was grated free agency after the season despite having been traded for. Which brought up an interesting 2003 for Mr. Wright:

January 28, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Seattle Mariners.
March 18, 2003: Released by the Seattle Mariners.
March 26, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Milwaukee Brewers.
April 28, 2003: Released by the Milwaukee Brewers.
May 7, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Texas Rangers.
June 15, 2003: Released by the Texas Rangers.
June 20, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.
October 30, 2003: Granted Free Agency.
December 29, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs.

Win Share Totals

Jamey Wright - 1 (1 year in St. Louis)

Chris Morris - 0
Mike Matthews - 3 (3 years)

2002 Totals

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 82

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 86

Net Win Shares gained - negative 4, or 1 loss.

Basically, 2002 can be boiled down to two things. Scott Rolen improved the team for years to come over the players sent away. Chuck Finley improved the team slightly in 2002 - but the loss of Coco Crisp actually hurt the team for years to come. Assuming, of course, that the Cardinals would have played him. Considering that he's about an 800 OPS player, it's hard to imagine them using him in a corner slot. Worst case scenario, the Cardinals probably should have kept him around in order to use him in a better trade. But that's easy to say right in hind sight. In 2002, it probably looked like the loss of Morris was going to be a bigger problem.

Here's the updated WS matrix.

1996, -5, -2
1997, 9, 3
1998, -5, -2
1999, -4, -1
2000, 32, 11
2001, 34, 11
2002, -22, -7
2003, -15, -5
2004, -2, -1

It's interesting to note that the Cardinals were 95-67 in 2002 - yet had 7 fewer wins than they would have by keeping around players that had been traded away. However, when you look at the specifics you can see why this is misleading.

For one thing, the death of Darryl Kile makes the numbers look worse than reality. Kile only compiled 4 win shares in 2002 over 14 starts. Considering that he had 17 and 18 win shares over the previous 2 seasons, he most likely would have finished the year with 14 or more, bringing up the Cardinals totals. Not helping the balance sheet is the fact that one of the players sent away for the Kile package - Jose Jimenez - posted 13 win shares in 2002.

The other trade from the past that caught up to the Cardinals in 2002 was the Garret Stephenson/Ron Gant deal. In 2002, Stephenson was horrible for the Cardinals as he fought injury problems, picking up 0 win shares over 45 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Ron Gant (12 Win Shares) and Cliff Politte (7 Win Shares) were having solid seasons in San Diego and Toronto, respectively.

Taken together, Darryl Kile and Garret Stephenson posted 28 fewer win shares than Jose Jimenez, Ron Gant, and Cliff Politte, more than making up for the difference listed above. With that being said, it's impossible to argue that the Darryl Kile trade of 2000 was a failure because of his death. In addition to that, the Cardinals dealing away Ron Gant was probably needed from a clubhouse standpoint, even if he had been able to help out the team in 2002. After all - with an outfield of J.D. Drew, Jim Edmonds, and Albert Pujols, where was he going to play? (If he could have helped the Cardinals avoid the Tino Martinez signing, I guess it could have been worth it.) All in all, the Cardinals should have kept Politte around in 1999. That, in a nutshell, was the factor that would have been nice to have erased looking back.


At 2:12 AM, Blogger Valatan said...

(If he could have helped the Cardinals avoid the Tino Martinez signing, I guess it could have been worth it.)

This made me laugh. hard. Even though I strangely have no ill will toward Tino--i think he really did do his best, he just got paid for way more than he's worth

At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Zubin said...

I knew the Tino Martinez signing was going to be lame. Even back then (actually before then) I knew Albert was destined for first base.

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, Ron Gant, Tino Martinez, Ron Gant, Tino Martinez. Guy who hates his manager and strikes 160 times a year while hitting .240 or the guy who tells Cardinals fans they need to be more like Yankees fans and boo him when he plays poorly (When it came to me, Tino got his wish)? I'd rather have. . . neither. Throw Crisp into the corner outfield spot, and to hell with OPS. With Albert at first, you're so far above average there, you can afford to be a little below at left or right.


At 9:36 AM, Blogger Robb said...

I didn't mind Tino Martinez the person. I just thought that his salary (around $8 million) was at least twice the amount he deserved, especially considering the fact that no other team was really interested in picking him up. He had no business starting against left handed pitching, and wasn't great against right.

If they'd signed him for $3 million a year and platooned him, I never would have had a problem with the signing. As it ends up, the extra money they were paying him prevented the Cardinals (in my opinion) from building a decent bullpen in 2003, which cost them making the playoffs (they only finished 3 games behind the Cubs.)

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