Revisiting five of the greatest deals in recent St. Louis Cardinals history.
the close of spring training approaches, the Cardinals may be active and maybe
not. But, there is no doubt that over the years, the Cardinals have made some
spectacular trades. It is a good time to look back fondly at the great ones -
the really great ones.
starting point for this analysis, I chose the time around when Kenny Boyer was
traded away in one of the franchise's worst moves ever. But, that was
we look at the upside of Cardinal dealing. There were a lot of candidates, but
these are my favorites. Join the discussion on our message board to share your
second baseman and "proven" pitcher traded for "troubled", but perennial
All-Star: Tie between Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen. OK, I
copped out here on my last pick, but the similarities are striking. And both
Rolen are still active, so they have a very good chance to move up this list
before their Cardinals careers end.
23, 2000: Jim Edmonds is acquired from the
Anaheim Angels for pitcher Kent Bottenfield and second baseman Adam Kennedy.
picked up a rap as a selfish player, more interested in highlight-film catches
and individual stats than team results. Bottenfield was coming off a career
18-win season and Kennedy was a top prospect, but blocked by the arrival of
Fernando Vina. You know what Edmonds has
accomplished in his time with the Cards, including five Division Series in six
years, four League Championship Series and one World Series, along with two
All-Star Game selections. And, just for the record,
210 home runs and 590 RBI in his six seasons in
Bottenfield was a washout in Anaheim,
then moved to Philadelphia and
winning only 10 more games in the next two seasons. He last appeared in the
majors in 2001. Kennedy is a career .281 hitter and is considered solid, but not
29, 2002: Scott Rolen ends his unhappy stay in
joining the Cardinals in return for infielder Placido Polanco, and pitchers Bud Smith and Mike Timlin. Rolen was already recognized as one of the very best
all-around third basemen in the majors and has solidified that reputation since
joining the Redbirds. After three and one-third seasons on the team, one ruined
by injury, Rolen has amassed 81 home runs and 300 RBI. Polanco remains a
serviceable middle infielder, but lacks the power needed at the corner. Smith
was the key to the deal for the Phillies. The 23-year-old owned a no-hitter,
although that remains his only complete game. Due to injury, Smith's career
seems to be over. In 2005, he was unable to pitch effectively at the Triple-A
level for the Twins and has since fallen off the baseball radar map. Timlin was
a salary dump and has since moved on to Boston in
his role as an overpaid former closer, now middle
4. Willie McGee: October
what at the time looked to be an unimportant deal, the Yankees sent minor league
outfielder Willie McGee to the Cardinals for pitcher Bob Sykes. McGee joined the
Redbirds for good during the 1982 World Championship season, starting what would
be a 2200-game major league career, most of which was spent in St. Louis. McGee
logged a career batting average of .295, four All-Star selections, three Gold
Gloves, one Silver Slugger award, two batting championships and an MVP award in
the 1985 National League Championship season. Returning to
to close his career cemented McGee's role as one of the most respected elder
statesmen of the franchise. Sykes
encountered arm problems and soon retired.
3. Mark McGwire: July
one of the most famous trade deadline deals ever, the
swapped impending free agent first baseman (and future Hall of Famer?) Mark
McGwire to the Cardinals for young pitching prospects Blake Stein, T.J. Mathews
and Eric Ludwick. In the years after leaving the Cards, these three hurlers
totaled 52 wins, 55 losses and 10 saves. On the other hand, McGwire's Cardinal
contributions were immense in both the business and field aspects of the game.
Rather than restate his obvious home run hitting prowess, let's look at his
impact at the gate. In the two
seasons prior to 1997, the Cards drew 2.6 million fans per year. That
immediately jumped by 600,000 to 3.195 million in 1998 and 3.235 million in
1999, the first three-million attendance years that decade. Since, attendance
has dipped below three million only once.
That's star power.
Ozzie Smith: February
11, 1982. After
two months of being on hold due to a contract dispute, the Padres' trade of
two-time Gold Glove (and future Hall of Fame) shortstop Ozzie Smith for All-Star
shortstop Garry Templeton was formally completed. Outfielder Sixto Lezcano also
moved to the Padres and pitcher Steve Mura was sent to the Cards. Templeton was
a career .304-hitter who had run-ins with the team and fans and had previously
asked to be traded. After the trade, Templeton was never again an impact player,
hitting only .251 over the next decade in San
Diego. At the time of the trade, Smith's
glovework quality was already known, but he had hit only .211, .230 and .222
during his three prior seasons with the Padres. Although not many of us understood at
the time, Smith would be the perfect player for Whiteyball. The rest is
1. Lou Brock: June
six-player trade that was essentially a swap for pitcher Ernie Broglio, Cubs
outfielder (and future Hall of Famer) Lou Brock joined the Cardinals. Brock helped power the then-fourth-place
Cards to their first World Series Championship since 1946. He sparked Cardinal
championship teams in 1967 and 1968, excelling in the Series, and went on to
become baseball's leading base stealer.
The six-time All-Star played for the Cardinals until his retirement after
the 1979 season. Oh yeah, Broglio won seven games and lost 19 before ending his
major league career in 1966.
opposed to the worst trades list, the Walt Jocketty era is well-represented
here. Now Walt, what have you done
for us lately?
Brian Walton can be reached via
email at email@example.com.
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