Thursday, May 26, 2005

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)

1999 Totals

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.

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.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Housekeeping

I'll be getting back to my year by year trade evaluations today or tomorrow. I would have had a couple more of them out this week, but I actually stayed at a hotel in a major American city the past 2 days that didn't have internet access. Go figure.

But before I start digging back into the trades, I thought that I should spend a breif moment on the 2005 Cardinals again, since so much is going on.

Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen going down for 3 to 6 weeks isn't exactly a blessing, but it's not the end of the world, either. Take a look at this.

Abraham Nunez - .333/.388/.556, 951 OPS, 45 at-bats
John Mabry - .333/.442/.472, 914 OPS, 36 at-bats

Scott Rolen - .257/.347/.477, 824 OPS, 109 at-bats

Would I expect Nunez and/or Mabry to out-hit Rolen all year? No. Do I think it's even likely during Rolen's trip to the disabled list? Not really. Especially in the case of Nunez, who is a career .241/.309/.323 hitter. But right now, the Cardinals aren't losing the 2004 version of Scott Rolen out of their offense. They're losing a guy with an 824 OPS - the same level that David Eckstein has hit to this point in the season. I'm fairly certain that Mabry and Nunez, along with Seabol, can keep things at the level that Scotty had been hitting during his injury. Once Rolen returns, hopefully he'll turn things around and improve the offense even more.

Bench

Speaking of Seabol, here is what he'd been doing in Memphis thus far in 2005.

.324/.374/.658
14 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs, 120 at-bats
10 BB's, 21 K's

Very good numbers out of Seabol, who has played 3rd and 2nd in AAA, and is likely to see time in the outfield under Tony La Russa. Personally, I'm very glad to see Seabol getting a shot here, and hope they allow him to start at least once or twice a week. In my opinion, the Cardinal bench is sorely lacking a right handed power threat. Seabol could be the answer to that, even when Rolen returns. Consider the bench as a whole.

Einar Diaz - Backup catcher. Needed
John Mabry - Lefty with some power, plays corner outfield and infield. Needed
Abraham Nunez - Switch hitter, defensive specialist at 2nd, short, and 3rd. Needed
So Taguchi - Righty, solid defensively, primary backup in center. Needed

That leaves...

Roger Cedeno - can only play the same positions as Mabry and Taguchi, and is a defensive liability. Hasn't had a good season with the bat in several years, and it currently hitting .128 with a .146 OBP. No longer a stolen bases threat.

Seabol has a golden opportunity here to take advantage of Rolen's injury. Obviously he's not going to end up as the regular 3rd baseman in St. Louis with the other Scott under contract for the next several years. But if he can show some versatility with the glove and provide just a little pop from the right side - ala Eduardo Perez - he could end up pushing Cedeno off the roster and find himself in the quest for a World Championship.

May Splits

Here's a look at what's going on the first 12 days of May.

As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .325/.396/.516, 912 OPS for the month (12 games.) Their opponents are hitting .257/.325/.407, 733 OPS over the same time span. That's a big advantage despite the meager 7-5 record. No less than seven Cardinal batters have an OPS of 1000 or better in May. Three more are looking at an OPS of 850 or better, including Jason Marquis, pinch hitter extraordinaire. Rather than listing a ton of numbers, here are the leaders in a few key categories with no minimum at-bats required.

Batting Average - David Eckstein, .449
OBP - John Mabry, .533 (24 at-bats)
SLG - Reggie Sanders, .750
OPS - Reggie Sanders, 1189

Runs - Albert Pujols, 11
RBI - Reggie Sanders and Albert Pujols, 10
Home Runs - Reggie Sanders, 4
Doubles - Mark Grudzielanek, 5
Walks - Albert Pujols, 9
Steals - Reggie Sanders, 2

That's what I would call a well-rounded attack. It's especially interesting to see the offense clicking so well without Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker, or Scott Rolen being among the team leaders in any major categories. Don't let that mislead you, though - they're still hitting well this month.

Walker - .367/.457/.667, 1124 OPS
Edmonds - .325/.438/.475, 913 OPS

The fact that Eckstein and Walker are both seing their OBP climb to .390 and higher on the year is going to allow Pujols to drive in a ton of runs.

Oh, and one final May split for you from the hitting side.

.385/.429/.423, 852 OPS, 26 at-bats.

That from no other than....Yadier Molina.

Pitching wise, the Cardinals are having a bit of a letdown this month. Not that it was unexpected - you know there will be stretches this year where the offense carries the pitching, and vice versa.

The rotation has still been steady, with all 5 starters looking at ERA's of 4.50 or less. Mark Mulder has been the class of the group, of course, going 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 15 K's over 14 innings.

The bullpen has had some bright spots and some dim spots (and are happy to see Izzy back on the roster tonight.) On the one hand, Tavarez and Reyes have been getting the job done with neither allowing an earned run this month. Brad Thompson has also been a shot in the arm in limited work, posting a 1.80 ERA over 5 innings. On the flip side, everyone else in the bullpen has an ERA of 6.75 or greater in May - thus the revolving door that now has Gabe White joining the big club. (It's nice to have a big lead in May to allow your team to give everyone a shot!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Cardinal Trades - 1997

The 1997 St. Louis Cardinals looked to be a team on the rise. They were coming off of a season in which they won 88 games and had the Braves down 3 games to 1 in the NLCS before dropping 3 games in a row. Most of the team was returning in 1997, with rookies Dmitri Young and Matt Morris ready to lend a hand to the cause. Free agent acquisition Delino DeShields was the only move made outside of the organization to improve the team.

Unfortunately, 1997 just wasn't meant to be in St. Louis. Brian Jordan, Donovan Osborn, and Alan Benes all missed considerable time to injuries, while Ron Gant and Gary Gaetti saw their production drop off in a major way. The end result was kind of odd - the Cardinals found themselves going after Mark McGwire despite their not being in the playoff hunt and him being in the last year of his contract. The gamble paid off as Big Mac enjoyed the fans of St. Louis and decided to ink a 4 year deal with the Redbirds, setting a trend of big name players coming to St. Louis for a discount. That was the only trade pulled off by Walt Jocketty for the 1997 season - but what a trade it was.

The Cardinals send Eric Ludwig, T.J. Matthews, and Blake Stein to the Athletics for Mark McGwire.

Ludwig didn't do much before or after playing with the Cardinals. After leaving St. Louis, the A's got 24 innings out of him in 1997 with an 8.25 ERA. The A's ended up dealing him to Florida for Kurt Abbot during the off-season of that year. Overall, Ludwig went 2-8 with an 8.11 ERA over 3 seasons after leaving St. Louis.

Matthews was the best of the bunch sent away for McGwire. He actually played for Oakland from the time of the trade until the middle of the 2001 season, when the A's released him. He was then signed by the Cardinals in 2001, giving them 14.2 innings and a 3.07 ERA during the push for the pennant. He played for Houston in 2002, which was his last season in baseball. Overall, the reliever was 25-15 with a 4.60 ERA post-trade.

Blake Stein may have helped the A's the most, but in an indirect manner. Stein was with the A's until the trade deadline in 1999 when he was packaged with Jeff D'Amico and Brad Rigby for Kevin Appier, who was a big part of the A's 2000 playoff team. Stein himself had a couple of decent seasons as a starter for the Royals. Overall he finished his career after the 2002 season with a 21-28 record, 5.41 ERA after leaving the Cardinal organization.

Mark McGwire joined the Cardinals with 34 home runs - the most ever traded away at the deadline, if memory serves correct. He hit 24 more in St. Louis, giving him 58 on the year - the most in the majors. He actually led the A's in home runs on the season, and had the 2nd most for the Cardinals (Lankford led with 31 that year.) And, of course, you all know the rest. He hit 70 in 1998, 65 more in 1999. There is plenty of controversy surrounding Mark McGwire these days, but no matter what you think about his accomplishments you have to concede a couple of points. One, as mentioned above, McGwire started the trend of bigger name players signing with the team rather than testing free agency. (McGwire lobbied Jim Edmonds, for example, after his trade to St. Louis.) Two, it is very likely that Mark McGwire and the excitement generated by his power hitting was a large part of getting the new stadium approved in St. Louis.

Win Share Totals

Mark McGwire - 109 Win Shares (Parts of 5 years in St. Louis)

Eric Ludwig - 0 Win Shares (3 years)
T.J. Matthews - 20 Win Shares (6 years)
Blake Stein - 18 Win Shares (5 years)

1997 Totals

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 109

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 38

Net Win Shares gained by St. Louis - 71, or roughly 24 wins.

Running Totals (1996-1997)

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 192

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 177

Net Win Shares gained by St. Louis - 15, or roughly 3 wins.

After just two years of becoming the GM of the St. Louis Cardinals, Walt Jocketty had received more value than he had given up in trades. It is worth mentioning, however, that the Bernard Gilkey trade actually ate up a lot of the advantages that Jocketty received when he picked up Big Mac. Here is the updated table for WS over time.

1996, -5, -2
1997, 9, 3
1998, 40, 13
1999, -7, -2
2000, 3, 1
2001, -11, -4
2002, -8, -3
2003, -3, -1
2004, -3, -1

As you can see by the above numbers, the biggest benefit to the Cardinals provided by Mark McGwire (and the other players traded for by Jocketty) came in 1998, when the team won 13 more games than they would have by simply promoting their farm sytem. Another item of note is that McGwire had more win shares than the players the Cardinals traded for him every year but 2001. That season, McGwire had 8 WS, while Stein had 7 and Matthews had 2. Personally? It was worth it.

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.

1996

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.

Monday Morning Thoughts

- While it's frustrating that the Cardinals are off to a 3-7 start against teams not in the NL Central, it's not all bad news. For one thing, the Cardinals have yet to be swept in a series this season. For another thing, out of their 7 losses against teams from the NL East and NL West, 4 of them were of the 1 run variety. Just a couple of small breaks here and there and the Cardinals could have a 7-3 record instead of the one they're looking at.

- Thanks to the 15 run outburst yesterday, including 11 in the first inning, the Redbird offense is finally clicking. The Cardinals now have the 2nd most runs scored in the NL with 154 - right behind their opponents for the next 4 games who have scored 161. The Cardinals OPS is 3rd best in the league at 780. The Dodgers have an 801 mark, with the Giants 2nd at 783.

- Even though the pitching was letting the team down during the San Diego series, on the season the Cardinals still have the 3rd best ERA in in NL at 3.69. Once Isringhausen comes off the DL, the pitching should really come into focus.

- Down on the farm:

Adam Wainwright - 3-1, 1.96 ERA, 34 K's, 5 BB's, 41.1 innings
Anthony Reyes - 4-1, 2.61 ERA, 40 K's, 6 BB's, 41.1 innings

How and when are the Cardinals going to get those 2 plugged into the major league roster?

- Over the next few weeks, I'm going to start working on articles that will address the trades made by Walt Jocketty since joining the Cardinals. A lot of work was done on this front at Redbird Nation back in 2003. I'm going to further that work by looking at the win shares gained by each side in each trade so that, when it's all said and done, we can assign the number of wins added or lost by Walt for the Cardinals. My plan is to do it on a year by year basis, starting with 1996 and working my way up. Hopefully, I'll get one out today with more following over the next 3 weeks. (Thanks to Eleven for the suggestion.)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Random Thoughts

- Yadier Molina got off to an 0-16 start, and only had 1 hit in his first 29 at-bats. Since then, Yadier is hitting .278/.316/.333/.649 over 54 at-bats. Obviously a 649 OPS isn't exactly Mike Piazza, but the .278 batting average over that time is encouraging. (Not that the team is exactly expecting Molina to carry the team offensively in the first place.)

- The bullpen has been a bit shaky, especially with Izzy out. But don't let anyone tell you that they would have been better off right now if they had kept last year's unit in place.

Kiko Calero - 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8.2 innings
Dan Haren - 5.50 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 34.1 innings
Steve Kline - 6.52 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 9.2 innings

Sure - those guys are still likely to be better than Pulsipher, Journell, and Cali this year. But nothing is set in stone.

- If someone had wanted to bet you $100 that Mark Grudzielanek would be out-hitting Scott Rolen on May 6th, would you have taken them up on it?

Grudz - .319/.374/.495, 868 OPS
Rolen - .261/.352/.467, 820 OPS

- It's taken a little time, but the Cardinal offense is gaining steam. Entering play today, the Cardinals have scored the 5th most runs in the NL (130) and have the 7th best OPS (757). That without a lot of help from Scott Rolen and Larry Walker.

- Over the last 7 days, Neifi Perez (SS, Cubs) is hitting .105/.190/.105, 296 OPS over 17 at-bats. What, you expected him to hit around .400 with a 1000 OPS all year?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Cardinals May Schedule

Even though one game has already been played in May, here is a quick breakdown of the opponents coming up the remainder of the month.

Based upon current won/loss records, the Cardinals only have two teams on their schedule in May with a winning record - The Dodgers at 16-8, and the Nationals at 13-12.

Four other teams on their schedule this month are currently within 4 games of the .500 mark - The Reds at 10-14, the Padres at 11-14, the Mets at 12-13, and the Phillies at 11-14.

The other three teams the Cardinals are playing this month are already looking towards 2006 - the Royals at 7-18, the Pirates at 8-15, and the Rockies at 6-16.

If you combine the winning percentages of all teams and weigh them to the number of times the Cards are scheduled to play them in May, the component winning percentage of the competition is currently at .452. Compare that to the "strength of schedule" so far this season, which is .497 heading into play today.

That's not to say that this month's schedule is going to be a cake walk, but on paper it appears to be easier than April. Especially the end of the month.

3 @ Kansas City (7-18)
3 vs. Pittsburgh (8-15)
3 vs. Washington (13-12)
4 @ Colorado (6-16)*

*Note - 2 of these games are played the 1st 2 days of June.

That two week stretch of games could provide a great opportunity for the Cardinals to pile up some wins. Of course, last year the Pirates swept the Cardinals in the middle of the season - so you never know!

Cardinal Players of the Month - April

This is nothing official, just my own take on the subject.

Starting Pitcher - Matt Morris

It would be easy enough to argue for Mulder, Carpenter, or Marquis, but Morris is my pick. Signing a cheap deal during the off-season, Morris was not expected to be able to join the Cardinals until May, if not June. Instead, Matty-Mo took the mound three times in April, compiling a 2-0 record with a 2.12 ERA. His peripheral stats look great as well. Nineteen strikeouts over 17 innings vs. just 3 walks. A WHIP of 0.94. Batters hitting just .210/.242/.323/.565 off of him. But most important of all? He's only allowed 1 home run so far this year. Take a look at his home runs per at bat ratios over recent history.

2001 - 0.060
2002 - 0.076
2003 - 0.116
2004 - 0.173
2005 - 0.059

I'm not ready to proclaim that Morris is going to return to 2001 form based on just 3 starts, but it is encouraging. And for those of you that may not recall - 2001 was the season that Morris went 22-8 with a 3.16 ERA. If the Cardinals get anything close to that out of what was supposed to be their #4/#5 starter this year? Look out!

Relief Pitcher - Randy Flores

Yes, I realize he hasn't been perfect. But Flores, thus far, has provided a solid 2nd lefty out of the bullpen. And don't let his inflated ERA (5.19) fool you. Opponents are only hitting .188/.297/.313/.610 off of him this season - the best OPS allowed out of the bullpen in April among guys that aren't now on the DL. He's striking out 11.4 batters every 9 innings, and sporting a WHIP of 1.15. Once he piles up some more innings, his ERA is going to come into line as well.

Starting Hitter - Albert Pujols

The guy is supposedly off to a slow start, yet still hit .322/.396/.611/1.007 in April, hitting safely in the last 11 games of the month. Compared to 2004, he's off to a better start hitting wise, but worse OBP wise (.287/.411/.609/1.020). Through yesterday, Pujols is on pace to hit 56 doubles, 42 home runs, and drive in 134. Ho hum.

Bench Player - So Taguchi

What the heck has gotten into this guy? He hit .370/.433/.630/1.063 over 27 at-bats in April. Entering this season, So had 13 career doubles, 3 triples, and 6 home runs. Last month he hit 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 home run. Seven career stolen bases entering the year, 1 in April. We can hope that he keeps it up, but he did have a couple of hot months last year as well.

April - .214/.241/.286/.527
May - .400/.429/.650/1.079
June - .212/.250/.273/.523
July - .242/.250/.364/.614
August - .450/.500/.550/1.050
September - .293/.383/.415/.798

I must say - the last 2 months of last year, combined with his start this year, may indicate a bit of improvement on his part. Not that it's likely, mind you. But nonetheless, he was great in April!