Jocketty’s Greatest Hits Collection

…includes 30 songs on 9(!) CDs. Rare B sides, live recordings, and never released tracks – until now! The whole package can be yours for only $29.99!!!

Just kidding. With the trade deadline for 2007 approaching quickly for this year, I’ve decided to look back of some of Walt Jocketty’s player personnel moves over the last few years. The hope is to identify some hope for a big move or two that Jocketty might make this summer. We’ll cover the period 1999 through the present day and look at what I consider his ‘big’ trades, signings, and draft picks. Here we go:


1999

Looking at the June draft, it’s fun to see what a great class of picks were made for this year. Particularly funny is the players chosen before Albert Pujols. The draft went Chris Duncan, Jimmy Journell, Coco Crisp, Alberto, Mike Crudale, and Bo Hart. I wonder if Duncan has the guts to hold that one over Prince Albert in the clubhouse. This was a exceptionally productive draft for the Cards as every one of these players made it to the bigs and three of them have gone on to have nice careers thus far. I dunno who drafted for them in 1999, but I don’t think he’s with the club anymore. This summer’s draft was pretty disappointing in comparison. Then again – drafts results don’t become apparent until 4-5 years later anyway.


The winter of 1999 was when Walt Jocketty really made his mark on the Cards and sealed his status as one of the game’s best GMs. He cleanly stole great player from other teams during this offseason. Three trades paid big benefits:

1.Manny Aybar, Brent Butler, Rich Croushore, and Jose Jimenez FOR Darryl Kile, Luther Hackman, and Dave Veres

Big Steal. Manny and Jose were decent prospects with an uncertain future. None of the group the Cards traded away had any sort of future or sucess in Colorado. Everyone of the players the Cards picked up were key players for the Cards for a number of years. Kile and Veres were All Star caliber players.

2.Juan Avecedo and 2 noname players FOR Fernando Vina

Another Steal. Avecedo was a scrub and Vina was a nice leadoff guy that jumped start the Cards offense for a number of years. He was notably the last solid, everyday 2B the Cards have had even up until today.

3.Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy FOR Jim Edmonds

Jimmy Baseball. HUGE steal. Bottenfield was actually interesting. He had won 18 games for the Cards the year before. The Angels thought they were getting a stud starter. He did nothing for the rest of his career. Jimmy’s skills are just about gone but he’s been Mr HighlightReel up until this year.

Analysis for this year: We might be able to pull off a similar trade to #2 if some team is looking to dump salary the Cards are willing to pick up. #3 is a long shot but it would mean trading someone like Chris Duncan or Adam Wainwright and then having them fall off the face of the earth while we pick up someone good. I’d say unlikely.


2000

Cards drafted Yaddi Molina in the 4th round. John Gall and Tyler Johnson were drafted too. Yaddi was a nice pick up obviously

With all those great players we added in the 1999 offseason, in July, we added Mike Timlin for some nonames we gave away. We also traded a nobody for Will Clark. End result was finishing 1st in the division and being booted out of the NLCS. The big offseason move in 2000 was to trade Fernando Tatis and Britt Reames FOR Dustin Hermason and Steve Kline. Another Steal for Jocketty with both Tatis and Reames doing nothing after the trade. Kline was a good reliever for a number of seasons and servicable Hermason late rotation starter.

Analysis: Something like the July trades are quite possible. Picking up an aging, near retirement vet like Clark would be possible. The thing is that a trade like that should be done when you are in contention and you need a piece to get into the playoffs or advance deep into the playoffs. I don’t see why the Cards would make a move like that. Get young and skilled I say. The big offseason trade is possible but you are trading a couple starters away. Maybe like Rolen and Looper? Rolen and Brad Thompson?

2001

Drafted Danny Haren in the 2nd round and Skip Schumaker in the 5th. They should have kept Haren – Mr. Starting AllStar pitcher this year.

The big summer trade was Ray Lankford FOR Woody Williams. Another classic example of Jocketty’s ability to trade a fading player or a rising prospect which will end up nearly out of baseball in less than 5 years. In return, Jocketty seems to always find someone that fits a hole that he needs filled. I really liked Woody Williams. In my mind, he was the Cards number one starter for a lot of years. Dave Duncan can claim him as one of his most successful reclamation projects. Big big steal.

Unfortunately for Walt, he made probably his biggest player personnel mistake during the offseason of 2001. Can you guess? Before Pujols at 1B…Free Agent…Pinstripes… That’s right – Tino Martinez. Walt signed him as a free agent that winter and the results were distasterous. Horrible pickup and the Cards will saddled with mediocre talent and a bad hit on the payroll. This is the lesson all Cardinal fans should learn and relearn about Free Agency and getting involved in dangerous trades. Adam Kennedy seems to be the brilliant example for this year’s team. If we knew what we knew now, who in their right mind would sign Kennedy again? And for the dollars he got? No one. The Cards have found servicable replacement players from their farm system and low risk signings at low dollars. Although I was REALLY hopeful the Cards could acquire someone to play 2B for a long time to come – we needed an impact player. We didn’t get one and I would argue that we knew we didn’t get one when we signed Kennedy. I feel like we expected him to be “just decent”. If that’s what we expected, we grossly overpaid. So lessoned learned again. Tino all over again – just a bit less painful. I say the only time you use Free Agency is to get an impact player and you pay the big bucks for them. Don’t throw money at marginal players hoping they’ll turn in career years for you. For every David Eckstein that you overpay, there are 10-20 scrubs like Kennedy and Tino.


Analysis: See above.


2002

Drafted Brad Thompson. Great example of building the team from within. Not a flashy player and he won’t be remembered 5 years after he leaves the Cards, but he’s a fill-in guy. And he doesn’t cost much. The Cards are pretty decent about producing this kind of guy actually. The problem is they haven’t produced (and kept) a great deal of star players.

Two contrasting trades marked the summer of 2002.

1. Coco Crisp and Luis Garcia FOR Chuck Finley

Woops. I think we can file the Coco Crisp part into the “Who knew?” category. Sometimes you just don’t know a players potential until much later. But getting Chuck Finley is the alter ego of what I was talking about with Tino. I like this better though. We were not saddled with Chuck Finley for a 3-5 year contract. Sterling Hitchcock was a trade in the same mold as this if you remember him. Sometimes you can get the other team to pick up some of the contract too. This is the way you trade for “unknown” or unsure talent. I think Brett Tomko was an example of how not to get a new starter. If I remember right he saddled the Cards with crappy play for the length of his contract despite high hopes.

2. Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin, and Bud Smith FOR Scott Rolen

This is one of those trades that is more “even” than Walt’s previous trades. Although the Phils didn’t reap the rewards exactly, Polanco and Timlin have gone on to good things in their career. The Cards got the best of it in the long run. Near steal.

After these moves the Cards finished first in the division but got bounced out of the playoffs in the NCLS

During the offseason, they signed Chris Carpenter. We know his story and Mark Mulder is semi-parallelling it right now although we are paying Mulder WAY too much for what could be false hope. Here’s hoping lightening strikes twice.

Analysis: This year, Mulder means jack squat to the Cards. There is hope the Mulder will come back and be awesome next year and I feel there’s an outside chance for that. If I’m the Cards though, I get at least one midlevel starter in case dreams don’t come true. That would be good anyway after what we’ve seen of the patchwork rotation this year. I’d say the #1 trade as an example will not happen. Why would we need to rent a player? I thought we could do this with Burlie until he got signed. That method does work if you are pretty certain the player will sign after the season ends. Not gonna happen this year though. The #2 trade listed is the big one the Card’s fans are looking for this year. A big time trade for a premiere player. When the Cards signed Scott Rolen, they signed a CURRENT AllStar. No maybe they’ll have a career year, or maybe they can turn it around from last year, or maybe he’ll be good after a few years in the minors. Rolen was a stud to start with. But can the Cards turn a trade like that this summer? Probably not.. If we plug in similar players from this year’s roster, I’m thinking Polanco Timlin and Smith would equal Chris Duncan, Ryan Franklin, and Anthony Reyes. You might be able to sub out Duncan for a slightly lesser position player like Encarnacion or Thompson. Do you really want to part with them? Maybe maybe not. Depends who’s on the other side of that trade. Do I think that will happen? No.


2003

Drafted Anthony Reyes. We need more of this type of draft player. Reyes is looking like a “just missed” major leaguer. We aren’t sure yet whether he’ll turn out to be Bud Smith or Danny Haren. I agree w/Jonny’s comments about the Cards royally screwing this guy up. I think he really had/has huge potential. His future right now is anywhere from great player to out of baseball in 5 years.

In the winter of 2003, the Cards traded JD Drew and Eli Marrero FOR Jason Marquis, Burger King, and Adam Wainwright. Good trade for both sides. I’d say we reaped the long term benefits with Wainwright but both clubs prospered during the year immediately after the trade.

The Cards also signed Julian Tavarez and Jeff Suppan during the winter of 2003. Solid pickups. I can’t remember the length of Suppan’s deal though.

Analysis: The equivalent trade today of the Drew/Wainwright trade would only be possible if the Cards are willing to give up Chris Duncan. Drew was a young, solid player who had a lot of good years ahead of him. Marrero looked to be the same before cancer hit him but he was just a decent throw in I think. I don’t think any current Cardinal matches Drew like Duncan does. If the Cards do something with Duncan, I hope this is the type of trade they make. I won’t be surprised if they do pull the trigger on something like this but I don’t think they will. One of the big benefits of a trade like this might be the Duncan fades after the trade. I REALLY like Chris Duncan right now but I’m concerned he could turn into a John Mabry type guy. Always decent but never a star. Excepting injuries, we’d rather have Duncan take the path JD Drew did.

2004

In the summer the Cards traded for Larry Walker for some pop on offense. He delivered but the Cards fell short in the World Series.

In the winter of 2004, the Cards signed David Eckstein. Not my favorite trade for reasons mentioned above but it turned out okay. Not a good signing but it paid off for Walt. Also the big trade was Danny Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton for Mark Mulder.

Analysis: We won’t make a Walker trade since there is nothing to push toward this post season. Mulder is a bust so far. For the first time with a big trade, Walt is getting the worst end of it. Everything he gave up turned out good for the other team and Mulder has been a huge disappointment. This is what you fear and I think it’s just unavoidable. All accounts seemed to have Mulder being a strong player for the Cards. If I’m Walt, I might do this deal again. It depends on how you project Haren. Of course we have this dilema with Reyes right now although he’s more damaged goods right now. The true equivelent would have been trading Reyes this past offseason instead of after 10 losses. We don’t really have the talent to put this trade together today unless you involved Duncan, Wainwright, or maybe Molina. You’d need a player that’s in the everyday bigs roster and that is young. Those are about the only guys that qualify.

2005

Signed Brandon Looper, Encarnacion, and Spezio in the winter of 2005. Spezio was a WS hero in 2006.

Analysis: No big trades really. Encarnacion was signed to a decent deal in my opinion, however he is being used wrong. He’s a 4th outfielder, not a starter. Looper has paid off this year. Good low cost signing. Spezio was probably over paid but I like seeing a semidecent bench player for the Cards for a change. More signings of all three types of players is fine with me to fill holes. NOT NOT NOT for everyday players though (hi every 2B since Vina).


2006

Two nice trades for Walt to redeem himself form the Mulder trade. Got Jeff Weaver for a minor leaguer and Ronny Belliard for Hector Luna. Of course, they won the WS this year too!

Analysis: Both of these trades are possible. Belliard was a decent 2B who was pretty solid – he’s not the impact long term guy everyone is looking for though. Weaver can be added to Dave Duncans list of Jeff Suppan, Woody Williams, etc. Weaver should be cutting part of his check to Duncan for the contract he got this last offseason. Anyway, it turned out to be a good move for Jocketty. Trade away nothing and get something to cultivate in return. Unfortunately the Cards have had to copy this move multiple times this year and nothing has turned out like Weaver did. Hopefully Maroth turns out like it but that remains to be seen after his last two starts. Walt has relied on this type a bit much this year.

******

So what will the Cards do this summer and off season? I think they’ll patch holes and hopefully get prospects. I don’t think Rolen, Duncan, or any other big names are going anywhere. Maybe some bullpen guys get traded and it looks pretty solid that Reyes will be gone if not this year, then next year after the Cards can prove he’s not a perrenial ten game loser. They need to build his value up again before a trade I think. No blockbuster trades this year unless they trade away decent players which probably won’t help them much this year anyway. It looks like the Cards are gonna reload for next year and hope the rotation is solid with Carpenter, Mulder, Wainwright, Looper (i guess), and whoever wins the competition for the 5th spot (Thompson, Maroth, Reyes, whatever low-mid level starter they pick up). That still leaves gaping holes in the outfield (we need at least one big name out there to go w/Duncan – I’m okay with a scrub in right field), nobodies at 2B (I’m okay w/that), and Rolen suffering on offense. Both a solid 3b and a solid OF need to be added still for next year. Good luck Walt. I still think he’s done an admirable job overall – even this year. He’s been seriously burned by the total disappearnce of Rolen and Edmonds. I expected at least one of those guys to have some left in the tank. I think Walt was just as surprised as I was that both of them went downhill at the same time. He also was hurt by the rotation obviously. Suppan and Weaver left but I’d say Looper and Thompson have been decent replacements overall. AW has not been consistent though. Carpenter kills us. And Walt simply didn’t pick up a 5th starter. Soon we’ll see what he does to fix the situation and get the club ready for next year.


I’m sure my blog partner Jonny has some things to say and some disagreements with me about any upcoming trades and personnel moves that Walt will come up with before the trade deadline. I turn it over to him on that account.

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