In a memorable article just a couple weeks before the trade deadline, Derrick Goold framed the discipline John Mozeliak brings to trade decisions around one of his acknowledged mistakes: The 2010 trade for Pedro Feliz. "Today, that deal wouldn't happen," Mozeliak said.
But while it's certainly too early to judge the Brandon Moss trade, the plot and cast of characters do seem eerily similar to the Feliz deal. Imagine, if you will...
Brandon Moss as Pedro Feliz
Matt Adams as David Freese
Mark Reynolds as Felipe Lopez
Rob Kaminsky as David Carpenter
...and Jose Oquendo as himself
The Cardinals opened the 2010 season with their promising young(ish) third baseman David Freese manning the hot corner. Through May, Freese was putting up pretty solid offensive numbers, but on June 5 he tweaked an ankle that had given him trouble the year before. He was limited to pinch-hitting duty for about a week, then gingerly returned to the field, only to leave the game in the 6th inning on June 27 and head to the disabled list.
During the offseason, the Cardinals had signed Felipe Lopez to serve as a super-utility type and perhaps step in at third if Freese wasn't ready for full-time duty. With Freese on the DL, Lopez was asked to step into the spotlight full-time. It soon became clear that Lopez could not even provide David Freese Level Defense at third, as he would go on to make ten errors in just 49 starts.
Still, the team held out hope that Freese would return. Neck-and-neck with the Reds for first place in the Central, Mozeliak let the trade deadline pass, holding a narrow half-game lead on Cincinnati.
Just three days later, David Freese made his first rehab start for Springfield. Slated to only make three plate appearances, Freese doubled in his third and final at-bat. He was followed by Cardinals farmhand Matt Carpenter, who singled. As Freese rounded third, his ankle more-or-less exploded and he hobbled off the field. Three days later, he would undergo major reconstructive surgery.
Meanwhile, the Reds were doing whatever they could to overtake the Cardinals, including felony assault.
With the trade deadline past, any acquisition by the Cardinals would have to clear waivers. On August 19, Mozeliak managed to swing just such a deal, acquiring 3B Pedro Feliz from the Astros for minor league reliever David Carpenter.
Mozeliak tried to temper expectations of the acquisition from the get-go:
"I do understand that this is not the biggest deal in the world," he told the Post-Dispatch. "But I do think it addresses a very big need."
Tony La Russa, who had pressed Mozeliak to make the trade, was much rosier in his outlook.
"He's a terrific fit," La Russa said. "He's played on a couple of championship clubs... so he knows the importance of this time of season. And he has a reputation for driving in a big run."
Of the nine runs that Feliz would drive in during his 40 games as a Cardinal, I don't know if any of them were what La Russa would call big ones. But Feliz was categorically terrible during the final 125 plate appearances of his major league career, putting up a wRC+ of just 29 - 71% below league average.
The Reds would push their lead in the division as high as 8 games, and the Cardinals ultimately finished five games behind both Cincinnati for the division and Atlanta for the Wild Card.
Now, are the characters of the Feliz trade an exact match for the Moss deal? Of course not. Feliz was always at-best going to be more of a band-aid than an upgrade, and 12th-round draft pick David Carpenter wasn't the first-round talent that Rob Kaminsky was, although Carpenter has gone on to throw more than 200 major league innings to date.
But for how openly Mozeliak pointed to the Feliz deal as an example of what not to do, the plot similarities to the Moss deal he would make just about a week later are striking, if not eery.
Of course, those similarities will all go away if Brandon Moss can hit like he did from 2012-2014, and there's still a lot of reason to believe that he can. There is still time for the Brandon Moss deal to be something more akin to the Will Clark trade.
Let's hope that's the way it goes, that we speak no more of the Pedro Feliz trade, and that nobody kicks Tony Cruz in the face.