Has the Cardinals Trade Deadline Passed?

Now that the 2008 non-waiver trade deadline has passed with the St. Louis Cardinals not having made a move, does it mean the club is done?

On FSN Midwest within an hour after the Thursday 4 P.M. EDT deadline, St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak appeared, giving mixed signals to the listeners.

 

On one hand, the GM said several relieved players had just come up to him to thank him for not trading them. Mozeliak noted how they could now relax knowing that the club is not making any trades. "I look at it as an opportunity to let (the players) continue to play," said the GM.

 

On the other hand, Mo acknowledged at the end of the interview that he thought he might have pulled off a couple of deals late in the period but ultimately the needs of the other clubs did not match up. "We had so many different balls in the air. When 4 o'clock came (and no trade was made), it was a little bit of a letdown," admitted Mo.

 

So how close was he, really? It might take a subpoena of his cell phone records to even get a feel for the answer. Were his televised remarks an honest reply or a calculated comment designed to soothe the ire of fans expecting action?

 

Judging by traffic on our message board, there are plenty of angry Cardinals fans out there, with many others in what I would call a concerned state.

 

Yet, what is done (or not done), is done.

 

Or is it? The relevant question now is whether Mozeliak might still make a waiver deal to improve his battling 2008 club.

 

I wonder if even he knows?

 

For players to be traded between now and the waiver trade deadline of August 31, they must first pass through revocable waivers. That means if a player is claimed by another team, the original team can nullify the waiver move and keep the player as if nothing happened.

 

If past behavior continues in 2008, clubs all over the game will now begin sending waves of players on their rosters through the waiver process.

 

Historically, few players are claimed, yet some GMs have been known take the action to block a competitor. Of course, the handful of examples of such a move backfiring have been long remembered.

 

They include a Randy Myers claim by San Diego in 1998 and the Yankees getting stuck with Jose Canseco in 2000. In each case the blocking move was not stopped, sticking the claiming club with a player and big contract to assume.

 

Though several hundred players do clear waivers and therefore are tradeable each August, few end up changing teams. In some ways, that is like the non-waiver deadline, where there is much more talk than ultimate action.

 

To try to put this into context, I looked back at the substantive trades made by the Cardinals this decade both just before and after the non-waiver deadline. I tried to select impact players in the regular and where applicable, post-season. In other words, you won't see Russell Branyan or Jorge Sosa mentioned again here.

 

The Cardinals have made at least seven successful late-season deals this decade. Five of them occurred prior to the non-waiver trade deadline and two were waiver deals during August.

 

2007, July 31. Joel Pineiro is traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Cardinals for a player to be named later (Sean Danielson). Pineiro went 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts and translated that into a two-year contract extension.

 

The Cardinals were in third place, six games off the lead in the NL Central at the time of the trade and finished in third place, seven games back.

 

2006, July 30. Ronnie Belliard is traded to the Cardinals by Cleveland for Hector Luna. Batted .237 with five home runs and 23 RBI in 194 at-bats. Also hit .240 in the post-season. The Cardinals apparently did not try to re-sign Belliard, who made the Washington Nationals in 2007 after coming into camp on a minor league deal.

 

The Cardinals had a 3.5 game lead at the time of the trade and took first place in the NL Central by 1.5 games. They won the World Series.

 

2004, August 6. Larry Walker (right) moves from the Colorado Rockies to the Cardinals in return for Chris Narveson, Jason Burch and Luis Martinez.

Walker had to clear waivers before this trade could be made. That was eased by the fact Walker was still owed $16.5 million, $9M of which ultimately was paid by the Rockies to close the deal with St. Louis.

Walker stroked 11 home runs with an OBP of .393 as the Cards streaked into the playoffs. Added six more long balls and 11 RBI in the post-season. Returned for 2005, but was hampered by a neck problem and retired after the 2005 playoffs.

The Cardinals were 1.5 games up at the time of the trade and won the NL Central by 13 games. They lost in the World Series.

 

2002, July 19. Chuck Finley joins the Cards from the Cleveland Indians for Coco Crisp and Luis Garcia. Finley went 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts down the stretch. Added a 1-0 record with a 3.24 ERA in two post-season starts. Retired after the season.

 

The Cardinals were 3.5 games in the NL Central lead at the time of the trade.

 

2002, July 29. Scott Rolen becomes a Cardinal along with Doug Nickle in return for Bud Smith, Mike Timlin and Placido Polanco. Rolen would sign an eight-year contract extension and serve as a mainstay of the Cardinals lineup through 2007, after which he was traded to Toronto after a falling out with team management over how his now-chronic shoulder injuries were handled.

 

The Cardinals were five games ahead at the time of the trade and won the NL Central by 13 games. They lost in the NLCS.

 

2001, August 2. Woody Williams is traded by the San Diego Padres to the Cardinals for Ray Lankford. Both players cleared waivers, making this deal possible.

Williams would be lights-out for the Cardinals, posting a 7-1 record with a 2.28 ERA in 11 regular-season starts. Also won his only post-season start in 2001. Remained a cornerstone of the rotation for three seasons until leaving following the 2004 campaign.

The Cardinals were in third place, 7.5 games out at the time of the trade and finished tied for the lead in the NL Central, entering the playoffs as the Wild Card. They lost in the NLDS.

 

2000, July 31. Will Clark joins the Cardinals from Baltimore in exchange for Jose Leon. Always despised as an opponent, Clark became a fast St. Louis favorite after batting .345 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI in 51 late-season games. Also hit .345 with two more long balls in the playoffs. Retired after the post-season.

 

The Cardinals were four games up at the time of the trade and won the NL Central by ten games. They lost in the NLCS.

 

 

Does all that mean anything in relation to 2008? Do the Cardinals have a two in seven or eight chance of making an August trade?

 

Certainly not.

 

Yet while Cards fans should be concerned about the non-waiver trade date passing, they should still not necessarily assume the dealing is done. Larry Walker and Woody Williams are proof of that.

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net

 

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