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cardinal trades, 2007-2012

August 1, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Daniel Descalso (33) hits a single during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
August 1, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Daniel Descalso (33) hits a single during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

by request, here's a timely review of cardinals trades over the past many years.

zack cox for edward mujica (this week)

the cardinals sold low on a not-very-long-ago first round talent. if you thought zack cox was bound to go the way of the kozma, then maybe this was a defensible trade. cox had not gotten off to a very good start in the minors, but had shown signs of adjusting to AAA ball after undergoing a similarly difficult transition to AA last season. let kolten wong, stephen piscotty, and james ramsey take note: the cardinals want their polished college hitters to make quick progress.

the upshot with mujica is hoping that he regresses more towards his career numbers (3.89 FIP/ 3.69 xFIP) than his peripherals from this season (4.52 FIP / 4.11 xFIP). if you're a believer in SIERA, his SIERA this season is 3.71, versus a career of 3.29.

outcome: undetermined

colby rasmus, PJ walters, brian tallet, and trever miller for edwin jackson, octavio dotel, marc rzepczynski, and corey patterson (july 2011)

oh dear. this is a controversial one. a top prospect wore out his welcome through a combination of a terrible season at the plate and conflicts with coaching staff. the cardinals flipped him and three unexciting members of the 40-man roster for a rental starter, a rental reliever, a club-controlled reliever with starting potential, and 6th outfielder.

you've heard all the arguments, which i won't rehash. either you hate the process of the trade, despite the world series win, or you appreciate the world series win, despite any questions about causation and any subsequent performance from rasmus.

rasmus stayed with the blue jays this season. tallet pitched briefly with the jays, and is now in AAA for san diego. miller pitched with the jays, then with the red sox after being released by the jays. miller appears to be retired. walters ended up with the twins this season, pitching seven starts (not well).

players traded ROS WAR: (-0.5 WAR [rasmus] + -0.1 [tallet] + -0.1 [miller] + 0 [walters]) = -0.7 WAR

players traded 2012 WAR: (1.8 WAR [rasmus] + 0 [tallet] + 0 [miller] + -0.1 [walters]) = 1.7 WAR

marc rzepczynski is the only piece still with the cards. he's had a rockier 2012 than 2011. the cardinals allowed both jackson and dotel to go to free agency, whence they landed with washington and detroit respectively and turned into supplemental round picks. corey patterson now plays for the brewers' AAA affiliate.

players received ROS WAR: (0.4 [rzep] + 0.7 [jackson] + 0.9 [dotel] + -0.3 [patterson]) = 1.7 WAR

platers received 2012 WAR: (-0.6 [rzep] + 1.6 [jackson] + 1.1 [dotel] + 0 [patterson]) = 2.1 WAR

outcome: well, on a pure WAR basis, the players we received did much better in 2011. while rzepczynski did poorly this year, we also have the value of the picks. but the jays have a long-term value in rasmus. unless rzepczysnki starts games again, it's unlikely we'll see comparable long term WAR out of him.

alex castellanos for rafael furcal (july 2011)

this one is worth recounting just so i can block quote this:

It's difficult to find a marquee shortstop like Furcal, but if the Cardinals were hoping Furcal's presence would help them take hold of the NL Central, they are in for a rude awakening. All he does is insert a lackluster bat into the lineup, assuming he remains healthy enough to take the field. Furcal has been superb over the years, but this move should be seen as a non-factor for the Cardinals, if not a step backwards.

sure, cheap shot to quote a bleacher report article entitled "st. louis cardinals gain nothing by bringing in washed-up rafael furcal." but, fun cheap shot.

alex castellanos was a passible outfield prospect having his best season in the minors. the dodgers have put some intriguing effort into converting him to second base duties. surprisingly, castellanos continued his offensive success and surpassed it, putting up a 168 wRC+ in the remainder of 2011 at the dodgers' AA affiliate and a 178 wRC+ in 2012 at AAA. seems like a fine outcome for the dodgers: they turned an older, expensive player in a down year into a younger, more interesting long-shot prospect. and for the cardinals, furcal has been a great success. the cardinals re-signed him to a 2-year deal this offseason

furcal ROS WAR: 0.9

furcal 2012 WAR: 1.4

castellanos ROS WAR: 0

castellanos 2012 WAR: -0.3

outcome: win-win

victor marte for a dollar (april 2011)

marte's had a rough time with batted balls and home runs. he's probably a replacement value reliever. still . . .

marte total WAR: -0.3

outcome: lose?

blake hawskworth for ryan theriot (december 2010)

once a top prospect, by 2011, hawksworth was a marginal reliever who had flunked his multiple efforts at starting games in the majors. in the wake of a soured relationship between brendan ryan and the coaching staff (as well as some of the clubhouse), the cardinals were looking for ("needed" being a strong word) a shortstop. and, well, there was ryan theriot. on the wrong side of 30, with declining skills. but available. hawksworth was an unexceptional reliever for the dodgers in 2011, and went down with injuries in 2012. but, hey, he worked for league minimum. theriot was so theribeaux, we had to go back to the dodgers for another infielder (discussed above) mid-season.

theriot 2011 WAR: 0.7

theriot 2012 WAR: 0.4

hawksworth 2011 WAR: 0.1

hawksworth 2012 WAR: 0

outcome: lose-lose?

brendan ryan for maikel cleto (december 2010)

as stated before, the cardinals' staff and some players had tired of brendan's flittish personality. despite being maybe the best defender in the major leagues, brendan was traded to the mariners for pitching prospect maikel cleto. brendan ryan, while not a star with the bat, amusingly hit for an 84 wRC+, much like his replacement, ryan theriot, who was not the best defender in the major leagues. except for 3 ill-fated appearances, cleto spent 2011 in the minors, polishing some control problems. in 2012, he was shifted into the memphis bullpen (perhaps in recognition of the glut of starting pitching talent, perhaps to allow for more work on his control). while his walk rate got under control, his propensity for allowing homers has kept his stay in the majors short. however, the cardinals retain long-term control over cleto.

ryan 2011 WAR: 2.6

ryan 2012 WAR: 2.0

cleto 2011 WAR: -0.2

cleto 2012 WAR: -0.2

outcome: it's hard to believe that cleto will approach boog's success by WAR as a reliever. while the outcome is officially undetermined pending the next 5-ish years, i'd say cleto will either have to turn into an elite reliever or a starter to make this work out well for the cards.

pedro feliz for david carpenter (august 2010)

following a series of unsuccessful substitutes for an injured david freese, the cardinals doubled down on the terrible and traded nonentity david carpenter for pedro feliz. feliz had been terrible for the astros, and continued to be terrible for the cardinals. he made the minor league rounds, then the indy league rounds. david carpenter threw a lot of middle inning relief, not very well. he was a throw-in in the mega-ultra-player trade which "centered" around JA happ and brandon lyon.

feliz ROS WAR: -0.5

feliz WAR 2011-2012: 0

carpenter ROS WAR: 0

carpenter WAR 2011-12: -0.2

outcome: whoever ends up with pedro feliz automatically loses the trade.

ryan ludwick and nick greenwood for jake westbrook (july 2010)

i had completely forgotten the nuances of this deal. it was a three-way deal, with corey kluber going to the indians. we also got some money. ludwick completely stunk it up in petco and in a brief stint with the pirates, although after signing with the reds, he's improved (1.5 WAR in 291 PAs). westbrook had a pretty good rest of 2010, a rough 2011, and has had a pretty good 2012 so far. nick greenwood has improved some, but not made it to the majors yet. on the contract side, we've paid westbrook a goodly sum of money. 2011 was luddy's last year of club control.

westbrook ROS 2010 WAR: 1.3

westbrook 2011-2012 WAR: 3.3

ludwick ROS 2010 WAR: -0.2

ludwick 2011-2012 WAR: 1.8

outcome: almost all of ludwick's value came in his free agency year (2012), so ludwick was basically replacement value during his years of club control. even though we've spent a lot more money on jake, we've done pretty well - paying $16.5m for 3.3 WAR over 2011-12 with a couple months to go. i think you can call it a win.

matt holliday for brett wallace, clay mortensen, and shane peterson (july 2009)

panned at the time by a lot of folks here, including probably me, the trade ended up working out even in the short-term sense, ignoring holliday's extension. wallace can't stick at third and can't stay in the majors for one of the worst clubs in baseball. mortensen has bounced around but made little impression in 13 starts and 34 MLB appearances (currently a reliever for the red sox after several starts in colorado and oakland). peterson has hardly been heard from since, lingering in the a's system.

holliday ROS 2009: 2.6 WAR

holliday 2010-2012: 16.3 WAR

traded players WAR 2009-2012: (0.2 [wallace] + 0 [peterson] + 0.1 [mortensen]) = 0.3

outcome: unquestionable win

mark derosa for jess todd and chris perez (june 2009)

no one can fault the club for not predicting that derosa's wrist would break immediately after the trade. the trade, to my mind, was not a dumb one; just one that didn't work out. perez became an okay closer, whose peripherals somehow dramatically improved this year. todd bounced around and has returned to the cardinals organization. derosa meanwhile was awful for the nats this year, after being awful for the giants. if he hasn't retired yet, it's coming soon.

derosa ROS WAR: 0.6

derosa 2010-12 WAR: -0.7

traded players WAR ROS 2009: (0.1 [todd] + 0.3 [perez])

traded players WAR 2010-12: (0.1 [todd] + 2.4 [perez])

outcome: loss

blaine boyer for brian barton (april 2009)

though much bemoaned at the time, this appears to have been a trade of nonentities. our resident spaceman (who put up 1.1 WAR in 2008! i forgot that somehow.) now hits in the mexican league. he appeared in one game for the braves, without getting a single plate appearance (he was caught stealing as a pinch runner and played right field). boyer was a replacement value reliever for the d-backs in 2010, then returned to the cardinals system in 2011 and was terrible, not making the majors. he's currently being awful for the mets.

boyer ROS 2009: 0.1 WAR for the cardinals (0.4 more for the d-backs after we released him)

boyer 2010-2012: -0.2

barton 2009-2012: 0.0

outcome: somehow, the diamondbacks appear to have won a trade between the braves and cardinals. otherwise, a draw.

julio lugo for chris duncan (july 2009)

god, there was a lot of drama in our trades. among all the trades that our manager forced, here's one that our manager seemed to fight tooth and nail. duncan is such a sad case in my book. he was an outstanding hitter until his injury and his experimental surgery where they put plumbing washers where his vertebrae were, or whatever it was. the red sox left him in pawtucket. he got picked up briefly by the nats in 2010 and then retired. lugo played for st. louis in an unmemorable stint, then went to the orioles in 2010 and the braves in 2011, doing terribly in both places. he is now retired and dedicates all his time to human sacrifice.

lugo ROS 2009: 0.4 WAR

lugo 2010-2011: -0.8 WAR

duncan ROS 2009-2010: 0 WAR (DNP)

outcome: eh. i guess the cardinals won.

troy glaus for scott rolen (january 2008)

here's another person who lost favor with the manager, while seeing his skills decline from age and injury.

rolen managed to put up some decent years with the jays and the reds, though he is currently at what appears to be the end of his career. cincinnati did extend him for 2011 and 2012, though he has only been worth a further 1.3 WAR during those years. glaus had a great 2008. for a while, the trade looked like a great deal for the cardinals. injuries hobbled glaus in 2009, and ultimately the cardinals made no further use of him. had david freese been healthy in 2009 and 2010, glaus's injuries wouldn't have been so terrible. as it was, the cardinals assembled a mix of truly awful third basemen in the wake of glaus's and freese's injuries and brett wallace's inability to man third.

rolen 2008-2010: 12.2

glaus 2008-2010: 5.5 WAR (0.5 with the braves in 2010)

outcome: loss.

khalil greene for mark worrell and luke gregerson (december 2008)

more drama. greene was a potential project for the cardinals. he had struggled seriously for the padres in 2008 (62 wRC+), but had previously been a surprising power hitter, even with petco as his home park. he hit 27 homers in 2007. in st. louis, one possible reason for his struggles in 2008 became clear. he had uncontrolled anxiety disorder, and couldn't manage to hit or field competently. the good news is that brendan ryan was there to be a decent shortstop. greene tried later to hook on with other clubs, but couldn't recover from his illness.

luke gregerson and mark worrell were the return in the trade. gregerson ended up a pretty good reliever, aided somewhat by petco's pitcher friendly dimensions. mark worrell (before there was "david freese is from st. louis" there was "not related to reliever todd worrell") spent all of 2009 recovering from surgery. he's moved around from club to club and gotten very little time in the majors.

greene 2008: -0.8

traded players WAR 2008-present: (-0.3 [worrell] + 3.6 [gregerson])

outcome: loss

david freese for jim edmonds (december 2007)

we can't bemoan the greene trade much, because we had previously victimized san diego. we sent them jim edmonds in decline and the cash owed on a pretty substantial extension, improvidently granted to him after the 2006 world series. to add insult to injury, edmonds completely collapsed in san diego, putting up a .178/.269/.233 line over 100 PAs. convinced he was finished, the padres released him, eating the huge remnant of his contract. then the cubs picked him up for league minimum; he put together a .398 wOBA over 300 PAs for the cubbies. after sitting out 2009, edmonds would complete his tour of the NL central with the brewers and the reds in 2010, then retire as a cardinal before the 2011 season.

to make it worse, the cardinals star third baseman and world series MVP david freese was the return on this doozy of a trade. while the padres had then-acceptable kevin kouzmanoff under contract and chase headley in the pipeline, freese was quite a prospect to throw-in on the edmonds trade.

edmonds 2008: -1.1 with the padres (1.7 with the cubs)

edmonds 2010: 2.5 WAR

freese 2008-2012: 7.9 WAR

outcome: "and we will see you tomorrow night!"

final thoughts: it's interesting to see common threads of the cardinals struggling to fill certain spots across the years. the upcoming ankiel pushed edmonds a little bit, rasmus pushed ankiel a lot, and then rasmus ended up in a new trade. struggles at shortstop led to the khalil greene trade; our inability to fill that slot with someone who didn't chatter too much led to the theriot trade, and then the furcal trade. the same thing at third: the plan went from rolen to glaus to wallace to freese, with the trades at each link in that chain.

but you'd be lost trying to find some overarching theme here. it's not always wrong to trade a prospect (wallace for holliday), but sometime prospects are great returns (freese) for beloved veterans. we lost a lot of the small trades, but it looks like we mostly won the big ones. in terms of cumulative WAR, the glaus-rolen one actually looks the worst at this point. the freese-edmonds trade looks outstanding, in ways it would have been hard to foresee in 2007.

well, i'll reconsider that: if there's an overarching theme, it should be that player talent is a lot bigger than "intangibles." we held on to chris duncan way too long. we let scott rolen and brendan ryan go far too soon, and replaced them with inferior talent, mostly because interpersonal conflicts. those moves complicated our club's outlook substantially. letting go of our sentimental extension of jim edmonds was the right thing to do, as was letting go of well-beloved cardinal ryan ludwick.