Sunday, June 26, 2005

Chris Carpenter

Just a quick note this morning. ESPN has been tracking game scores this season, which is a Bill James methodology of rating how good a start is. To learn more about it, check out this link, which also includes the best game scores of the season.

And while you're there, of course, note that Chris Carpenter now has the best 2 games pitched this season in the NL - last night's (2nd), and the 1 hitter against the Blue Jays (1st). In fact, he now has 2 of the best 3 starts in the majors on the year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cardinal Trades - 2000

After a few weeks and a couple of thousand miles of travel for work, I'm finally back on the job of reviewing Walt Jocketty's Cardinal trades. Due to the distress my time off from the blog has created for the 5 or so of you that check in from time to time, I am voluntarily taking a 50% pay cut...

Here we go!

The Cardinals send Alberto Castillo, Lance Painter, and Matt DeWitt to the Toronto Blue Jays for Pat Hentgen and Paul Spoljaric.

This is the trade that kicked off the 2000 rebuilding project. Alberto Castillo had been a decent player for the Cardinals in 1999, but was used as trade bait to upgrade the rotation. And looking at his numbers since being traded away, it's easy to see why. Over 457 at-bats, Castillo hit .212/.280/.284 over the past 5 years. He was solid for the Royals last year, however.

Lance Painter was actually pretty solid for the Blue Jays in 2000, going 2-0 with a 4.72 ERA over 66.2 innings. Overall, he only pitched 2 years after leaving the Cards (not counting 2003, when he was back in town.) During that time he was 3-1 with a 5.27 ERA.

Matt DeWitt was in the majors for parts of the next 3 years after this trade, but never had a season with more than 19 innings pitched. He finished his career with a 1-3 record, 4.95 ERA.

Coming back to the Cardinals was Pat Hentgen. Hentgen provided the Cards with an innings eater type pitcher. He didn't lead the team in ERA, ERA+, innings pitched, or wins - but he was a solid contributor in 2000, going 15-12 with a 4.72 ERA over 194.1 innings.

Paul Spoljaric was waived by the Cardinals during Spring training. He ended up pitching 9.2 innings for the Royals that season, then retired.

Win Share Totals

Pat Hentgen - 10 (1 year in St. Louis)

Alberto Castillo - 10 (5 years)
Lance Painter - 5 (2 years)
Matt DeWitt - 2 (3 years)

The Cardinals send Jose Jimenez, Manny Aybar, Rich Croushore, and Bret Butler to the Colorado Rockies for Darryl Kile, Dave Veres, and Luther Hackman.

At the time, I actually remember not being overly impressed by this trade. I wasn't convinced that Kile was really going to get it back moving back to "normal" altitude, while the Cardinals were sending away a young pitcher with a no-hitter under his belt in Jimenez. Was I ever wrong.

Of the players sent away, Jimenez did in fact end up having the best career post-trade. In the past 5 years, Jimenez went 16-30 with 110 saves and a 4.59 ERA. While the ERA isn't stellar, he did spend 4 of those years in Colorado. He was especially impressive in 2000 through 2002, posting ERA+ seasons of 186, 127, and 138. And believe it or not, he's had more Win Shares over the past 5 years (40) than Darryl Kile had as a Cardinal (39.) (And yes, I realize that isn't exactly a fair comparison.)

The next best player sent away was Manny Aybar - and should tell you a lot about this trade. In his post-Cardinal career, Aybar ended up going 5-3 with a 4.53 ERA over 119.1 innings for 5 different teams.

Brent Butler was almost as good as Aybar. He played parts of three seasons for the Rockies, hitting .245/.285/.380 over 553 at-bats, hitting a grand total of 11 home runs despite half of his games coming in Coors Field.

Rich Croushore, the screwball pitcher, was actually pretty solid for the Cardinals in 1999. Unfortunately for him and the Rockies, is was a career year for him. He pitched 16 innings in 2000 between the Rockies and the Red Sox, posting a 7.88 ERA. He hasn't pitched in the majors since.

The keystone coming back to the Cardinals, of course, was DK. Kile was completely awesome in 1997, going 19-7 with a 2.57 ERA. He tried to cash in by going to Colorado, but as we know - that's not the place for a curve ball pitcher to try to make a living. Coming to St. Louis, Kile became the anchor of the staff in 2000, going 20-9 with a 3.91 ERA. Over his 2 and a half year stint with the Redbirds, Kile was 41-24 with a 3.54 ERA. It's hard to imagine that it's been 3 years ago tomorrow (June 22nd) since he passed away at the age of 33. Rest in Peace.

Dave Veres wasn't chopped liver as he came over in the trade, having recorded 31 saves in 1999 with a less than spectacular 112 ERA+ for the Rox. While many Cardinal fans never really felt comfortable with him in the game, Veres nonetheless spent 3 years in town as the closer, picking up 131 saves with a 3.33 ERA. He was especially tough in the 2000 season, getting 29 saves with a 2.85 ERA, 162 ERA+.

Luther Hackman was really a throw in player in this trade, but he ended up having as good of a career with the Cardinals as 75% of the players given up in this trade. Only with the Cardinals for 3 years, Hackman went 6-6 with a 4.30 ERA and eventually was dealt for Bret Tomko.

Win Share Totals

Darryl Kile - 39 (3 years in St. Louis)
Dave Veres - 27 (3 years in St. Louis)
Luther Hackman - 5 (3 years in St. Louis)

Jose Jimenez - 40 (5 years)
Manny Aybar - 7 (4 years)
Bret Butler - 7 (3 years)
Rich Croushore - 0 (1 year)

The Cardinals send Juan Acevedo, Eli Alfonzo, and Matt Parker to the Milwaukee Brewers for Fernando Vina.

Acevedo had been a serviceable swingman for the Cardinals in 1998 and 1999, getting both starts and closing opportunities during both seasons. But Walt had many irons in the fire pitching wise (such as the newly acquired Dave Veres) and thus had room to deal him away. After leaving the Cardinals Acevedo's days as a starting pitcher were officially over. During the next 3 seasons, he went 7-22 with 34 saves and a 3.97 ERA for 6 different teams.

Eli Alfonzo and Matt Parker were both players to be named later in this trade. Looks like the Cardinals did a poor job in drafting them, and the Brewers did an even poorer job in "naming them later." Neither ever made it to the majors.

Fernando Vina had been coveted by Walt Jocketty for a while, as rumors of him coming to the Cardinals had been floating around since at least the 1999 season. And that's easy enough to understand - he played hard, was solid defensively, and was perceived to be a leadoff hitter. Actually, other than his first pitch swinging, he was a pretty good leadoff guy in 2000 and 2001. 2002 and beyond left quite a bit to be desired, but overall he was a solid player for the Redbirds. Vina hit .285/.327/.384 over his 4 years in "The Lou," picking up a pair of gold gloves.

Win Share Totals

Fernando Vina - 61 (4 years in St. Louis)

Juan Acevedo - 23 (4 years)

The Cardinals send Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy to the Anaheim Angels for Jim Edmonds.

This trade may be looked back upon in 20 years as the Brock/Broglio deal of this era. At the time, it didn't seem quite like a no-brainer. Bottenfield had just had an 18 win season and Kennedy looked like the real deal.

Bottenfield, as I just said, went 18-7 in 1999 with a 3.97 ERA, 115 ERA+. Obviously, the Angels GM at the time must have gone to the Joe Morgan school of "wins are the only pitching stat that matters." 18 wins looks great, but doing so with a 3.97 ERA in the NL? It wasn't likely to happen again....and it didn't. Bottenfield's ERA ballooned up like his waistline in the AL as he had a 5.71 before being traded to the Phillies at the deadline. Over 2000 and 2001, Bottenfield went 10-15 with a 5.63 ERA. Last I heard he had a Country/Christian album coming out earlier this year.

Some were afraid that Kennedy was going to haunt the Cardinals down the road, and he has been a solid player (with a World Series ring to boot.) But overall, Kennedy has been nothing more than a nice player, hitting .278/.322/.406 over the last 5 years. In other words - he's no Jim Edmonds. (He's not even David Ecksteine....)

Jim Edmonds. What's not to like? He was acquired to play 2nd banana to Mark McGwire, but Big Mac went down and Edmonds ended up leading the team in OPS+, HR, RBI, R, and a case of other statistics as the Cardinals made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. In his 5 years with St. Louis (prior to this year) he's hit .298/.409/.593 with 181 home runs and 5 gold gloves in center field. I'm very biased, but I don't think you can find a better centerfielder in baseball during that time span. If he can get to 400 home runs and add a World Series ring to his portfolio, I think he has a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame.

Win Share Totals

Jim Edmonds - 146 (5 years in St. Louis)

Kent Bottenfield - 7 (2 years)
Adam Kennedy - 63 (5 years)

The Cardinals send Jose Leon to the Baltimore Orioles for Will Clark.

With Big Mac down and out, the Cardinals got help in the form of Will Clark. Someone forgot to tell him that it was 2000, not 1990. But first, Jose Leon.

Leon did make it to the majors, playing with the O's from 2002 through 2004. However, he only got 209 at-bats during that time, hitting .225/.262/.321. Not exactly great numbers out of a corner infielder.

Clark, on the other hand, played out of his mind. Over 171 at-bats, Will the Thrill hit .319/.418/.546, including an amazing 12 home runs and 42 RBI over those 51 games. While I wanted Clark to come back for the 2001 season, I know there is no way he could have finished his career with a better flourish than what he did.

Win Share Totals

Will Clark - 10! (1 year in St. Louis)

Jose Leon - 0 (3 years)

The Cardinals send Chris Richard and Mike Nussbeck to the Orioles for Mike Timlin.

The Cardinal bullpen was pretty shallow leading up to the trade deadline, thus this trade (and the next one.) Other than Dave Veres, Matt Morris, and Mike James, there wasn't much that could be counted on out there until the acquisition of Timlin.

Richard actually ended up with more win shares than Timlin in 2000 as he hit .276/.335/.563 with 13 home runs in August and September for the O's. But Richard never really was able to re-capture that level of performance again during his career. He hasn't played since the 2003 season, having career numbers of .258/.324/.452.

Mike Nussbeck never made it to the majors.

Mike Timlin went 3-1 with 1 save and a 3.34 ERA in 2000, helping stabilize the Cardinal bullpen. He, like Timlin, was never fully trusted by the fans, but more often than not he got the job done. Spending parts of 3 seasons in St. Louis, he went 9-8 with a 3.53 ERA over 155.1 innings and helped land an important part of the MV3's in a later year...

Win Share Totals

Mike Timlin - 13 (3 years in St. Louis)

Chris Richard - 19 (4 years)

The Cardinals send Jack Wilson to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jason Christiansen.

The Cardinals were desperate for a left handed pitcher in 2000. Yes, they had Rick Ankiel in the rotation, but the bullpen? Jesse Orosco? 2.1 innings pitched, out for the season. Scott Radinsky? One - ONE - pitch thrown during a game, out for the season. Mike Matthews, Justin Brunette, Jose Rodriguez - all were given a shot, none got the job done. So Walt made a move for Christiansen, giving him his only bad trade of the 2000 season.

First, Jack Wilson. Wilson is a slick fielding shortstop who the Cardinals felt was expendable with Edgar Renteria in town. Fair enough. Between 2001 and 2004, Wilson hit .265/.303/.370 with a 75 OPS+, making the highlight reel with his glove on a regular basis. He was especially good last year, giving people ammunition to complain about the Cardinals giving up on him. With that being said, I thought last year was likely a fluke. So far, it appears to have been (.238/.275/.367 through today.)

Christiansen had a great season. In 1998. Did I mention we were talking about 2000? So far in the year, Jason had a 4.97 ERA, 92 ERA+ over 38 innings. That's not great, but maybe he was a LOOGY waiting to happen? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the case, he pitched 10 innings for the Cardinals with a 5.40 ERA. He did, however, pitch 2.1 perfect innings in the playoffs, which was the whole reason he was brought to town. He finished his Cardinal career having just pitched 29.1 innings for the Redbirds, posting a 4.91 ERA with a 2-1 record and 3 saves.

Win Share Totals

Jason Christiansen - 3 (2 years in St Louis)

Jack Wilson - 51 (4 years)

2000 Totals

Win Shares acquired by St. Louis - 314

Win Shares given up by St. Louis - 234

Net Win Shares gained - 80, or roughly 27 wins.

This was a banner year for Walt, and really the beginning of both his and the Cardinals great run. He revitalized the pitching staff by picking up 2 rotation members. Furthermore, he added a new closer, and a solid setup man at the trade deadline. Not to mention the Will Clark pickup. I realize that Walt likely never expected what he got out of Clark, but luck counts too.

The only blemish of the year, as mentioned, was the Wilson/Christiansen trade. Do I blame Jocketty for trading Wilson? No. Do I blame them for wanting a left handed reliever? Again, no. It is likely, however, that a better candidate could have been picked up to fit the bill that could have helped out the Cardinals more both in 2000 and beyond.

Not only did the trades in 2000 set up the Cardinals for their playoff run, it also placed the 2001 team into a position to be a playoff contender. Here is the updated WS matrix. Once again, this is a breakdown of the difference in Win Shares between the players the Cardinals acquired and the players the Cardinals sent away. Remember - this is a worst case scenario, as players sent away count for the remainder of their MLB careers, whereas players recieved only count during their time with the Cardinals.

1996, -5, -2
1997, 9, 3
1998, -5, -2
1999, -4, -1
2000, 40, 13
2001, 16, 5
2002, -29, -10
2003, -21, -7
2004, -17, -6

Under Walt Jocketty, the Cardinals were 13 games better in 2000 than they would have been by simply building from their farm system. What's more, the 2001 team was already 5 games better before any moves were made.

Five years down, 4 years to go. I promise, it won't take me three weeks to get to 2001.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm still alive

I just wanted to check in and let you all know that I am still around, and do plan on finishing up my trade evaluations. The real world, once again, has been a little more pressing as of late. Look for me to get back into the swing of things by Monday night of next week.