As the trade deadline has come and gone, there have unsurprisingly been a wide range of reactions from the Cardinal fanbase. As A.E. Schafer pointed out yesterday, the front office didn’t get everything done, but they did what they needed to do. Still, as a fan, it can be rough to watch the non-waiver trade deadline roll by with no large changes (other than moving Pham, of course). August presents an opportunity for a few more moves—let’s not forget, Larry Walker was acquired on August 6—but it basically indicates holding steady until the offseason. Let’s take a trip back through the Cardinals’ July non-waiver traded deadline moves and revisit the times when buying was the clear direction of the team.
The non-waiver trade deadline dates back to 1917 for the National League, set on August 20. In 1921, both leagues agreed on an August 1 date. The deadline was changed to June 15 after the 1922 season, where it stayed for over six decades. 1986 marked the first year for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and that’s as far back as we’ll be going in this review. We’ll also be limiting the trades to July alone. The first reason is that it maintains the same minimum amount of impact the player could have on a team. The second is that it maintains a recency, limiting the player pool to roughly the past two decades. Finally, we’ll only be grading players on their contribution in the season of their acquisition.
During that 22-year span, the Cardinals traded for 34 players who contributed at the Major League level that season. Nine of the acquired players were starting pitchers, 11 were relievers, and 14 were position players. The position players were much more concentrated on the right side of the infield, with seven of them being first basemen or second basemen.
A quick warning: not all of these are great. A few are phenomenal. But some are actually pretty terrible. But that’s a great look into just how fickle trades at the deadline can be, or how few times the organization has gone after an upgrade at a position.
SP: Woody Williams (2001) — 1.5 WAR
Regular Season: 11 GS, 75 IP, 2.28 ERA, 19 BB, 52 K, 190 ERA+
Postseason: 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
In a sentence: If the 2001 rotation had been fully of Woody Williamses, the Dbacks might have fallen. (Also, totally missed this one by two days. Whoops. August trade. Joel Piñiero it is.)
RP: Edward Mujica (2012) — 0.6 WAR
Regular Season: 29 G, 26.1 IP, 1.03 ERA, 3 BB, 21 K, 376 ERA+
Postseason: 9 G, 7.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
In a sentence: The Cardinals got the best years out of Mujica, and it isn’t even close.
C: Carlos Hernandez (2000) — 0.1 WAR
Regular Season: 58 PA, .275/.345/.412, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 8.6% BB, 15.5% K, 93 wRC+
Postseason: 29 PA, .259/.310/.370, 6 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K
In a sentence: The backup to Matheny—and the only catcher acquired at the deadline in the last 22 years—put out some serviceable numbers in his short stint with St. Louis.
1B: Mark McGwire (1997) — 2.2 WAR
Regular Season: 224 PA, .253/.411/.684, 24 HR, 42 RBI, 19.2% BB, 27.2% K, 172 wRC+
In a sentence: 1997 was the start of some fun-to-watch mashing, and McGwire wasted no time getting started.
2B: Julio Lugo (2009) — 0.2 WAR
Regular Season: 170 PA, .277/.351/.432, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 6 SB 10% BB, 15.9% K, 111 wRC+
Postseason: 6 PA, 2 H, 2B, BB, K
In a sentence: In the Cardinals’ constant struggle to solidify the middle infield in the 2000s, Julio Lugo offered some late-season stability.
3B: Scott Rolen (2002) — 3.0 WAR
Regular Season: 229 PA, .278/.354/.561, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 3 SB, 8.7% BB, 14.8% K, 139 wRC+
Postseason: 8 PA, 3 H, HR, RBI, 2 K
In a sentence: Scott Rolen was one of the most exciting all-around players to watch of the 2000s, and that he put up 3 WAR in 229 PA is just a testament to his ridiculousness.
SS: Rafael Furcal (2011) — 0.8 WAR
Regular Season: 217 PA, .255/.316/.418, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB, 7.8% BB, 8.3% K, 106 wRC+
Postseason: 85 PA, .195/.244/.325, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 4.7% BB, 10.6% K, 56 wRC+
In a sentence: I had always loved Furcal, even as a Brave, and his leadoff triple in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS is engrained in my memory.
LF: Matt Holliday (2009) — 2.6 WAR
Regular Season: 270 PA, .353/.419/.604, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 9.6% BB, 15.9% K, 168 wRC+
Postseason: 13 PA, 2 H, HR, RBI, 2 K
In a sentence: Matt Holliday was probably one of the most under-appreciated players St. Louis has had in a while, given he was left in a lineup devoid of Pujols (and still produced).
CF: Corey Patterson (2011) — -0.3 WAR (yikes)
Regular Season: 56 PA, .157/.189/.235, 3 RBI, 3.6% BB, 21.4% K, 14 wRC+
In a sentence: Thankfully he was left off the playoff roster, for obvious reasons; can you tell this is the only center fielder the Cards traded for at the deadline in this time period?
RF: Craig Paquette (1999) — 0.8 WAR
Regular Season: 166 PA, .287/.309/.516, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 3.6% BB, 22.9% K, 102 wRC+
In a sentence: An under-the-radar utility man who put up some solid numbers in St. Louis at the turn of the millennium.