JSF Power Rankings: Last 5 Cardinals Trade Deadlines
If you haven’t noticed that giant shadowy figure looming over players and GMs throughout Major League Baseball, it is the notorious beast known as “The Trade Deadline”.
The end of July annually cues up league-wide drama for both the competitive teams and the scrubs. Add the media blaring every whisper they hear over the loud speakers and the result is chaos.
Not surprisingly, Cardinals fans always crave some action around this time of the year. You never want to be a fan of the team that does nothing. Just throw us a bone, front office.
In honor of the quickly approaching deadline soap opera, let’s take a look back and powerfully rank how the Cardinals handled the past five years in this edition of the JSF Power Rankings (most disappointing to most exciting):
Record on July 31: 61-50; Tied for 2nd place, 5 games back
Deadline Action: In John Mozeliak’s first trading deadline as GM, the big day went by with a whimper. The only activity the fans got a taste of was the signing of Felipe Lopez, which, while it turned out to be a solid move that season, didn’t take place until August 5. The big “trade” was when Mozeliak opened LaRussa’s doghouse, pulled out former prospect Anthony Reyes and shipped him to Cleveland for someone named Luis Perdomo.
How They Finished: Despite a respectable 86-76 record, the Cardinals finished 4th in the NL Central behind the Cubs, Brewers and Astros. Meanwhile, the team they were tied with as of the deadline, – the Brewers – acquired CC Sabathia and cruised to a wild card spot.
Record on July 31: 58-46; Half game up on the Reds for 1st place
Deadline Action: 2010 was the year of the head scratcher. On the final day, Cardinals fans were somewhat intrigued when they heard we had scored Jake Westbrook from Cleveland. Probably only took a fringe prospect right?
Then it was mass confusion when we saw that, to get him, the team had just given up Ryan Ludwick. A legit Major League hitter was dealt for a mediocre starter with the expiring contract. Even as Ludwick’s offense has plummeted in San Diego, it still doesn’t make sense.
Needless to say it was met with significant criticism on Mozeliak and some backlash against LaRussa who, once again, at least appeared to be flexing his muscle behind the scenes.
It took until the offseason for the sour taste to wear off as the team re-signed Westbrook to a reasonable deal and filled Ludwick’s spot with someone who calls himself the Big Puma.
How They Finished: Even the emotional sweep in Cincinnati after the brawl wasn’t enough of a spark to get the Cardinals headed in the right direction, so the addition of Jake Westbrook wasn’t either. They finished 86-76, five back of the Reds.
Record on July 31: 50-53; 6 games back
Deadline Action: With the Cubs threatening to run away with the division and the home team struggling through injuries, the fan base wasn’t exactly anticipating a huge splash. What they got was a small splash that had slightly larger ripples than they would have expected when it happened.
Joel Pineiro was the player they acquired from Boston on deadline day in exchange for a PTBNL (Sean Danielson). Pineiro had been a bullpen arm for the Red Sox but joined the rotation and started 11 games for the Cardinals, going 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA. Nothing too significant came from his appearance in ’07, but his success over the next two years – primarily in 2009 – was more than anyone expected when the team brought in what seemed to be Kip Wells Part 2.
How They Finished: 78-84; 3rd in NL Central
Record on July 31: 58-46; 3.5 games up on Cincinnati
Deadline Action: Two under-the-radar deals hit the transaction wire before the deadline reached its final hours. Neither were ones that sent fans into the street doing cartwheels, unless you happened to be the guy who was dying to see us get Ronnie Belliard and Jorge Sosa (Die Hard Cards Fan perhaps?). Belliard came over from Cleveland in exchange for Hector Luna and Jorge Sosa from the Braves for Rich Scalamandre. Sosa wasn’t a game-changer out of the bullpen, but Belliard took over the 2B slot and played a key role on a somewhat memorable team, and he brought some much needed cornrows to the squad. So he was worth Hector Luna (especially considering Luna played on 88 MLB games after the trade).
The most influential deal that month was the decision to end the Sidney Ponson experiment and grab Jeff Weaver from the Angels in exchange for Terry Evans. Weaver joined the team on July 5th, so it didn’t qualify as a “deadline deal”, but it certainly added some grunge to the locker room chemistry. His win in the World Series clincher didn’t hurt either.
How They Finished: We don’t really need to go into this do we, Cardinals fans?
Record on July 31: 57-49; Half game up on Chicago
Deadline Action: It was risky given Matt Holliday’s free agent status and the talent they gave up to get him, but it was still met with little resistance when Mozeliak took the leap and snagged the biggest fish at the deadline. It tool Shane Peterson, Clayton Mortensen and Brett Wallace to pry him from Oakland.
Holliday didn’t disappoint when he put up a 1.023 OPS in 63 games and helped lead the squad to the Division title. Mozeliak didn’t disappoint when he signed him in the offseason ensuring that Brett wallace and Clayton Mortensen weren’t shipped out for a two month rental.
How They Finished: 91-71; 1st in the NL Central; Swept in NLDS by the Dodgers.
So it’s official. In a shocking development, we’ve determined that the acquisition of Matt Holliday ranks as the jewel in the last five years of trade deadline madness. And considering that, in Game 2 of that season’s NLDS, Cards fans watched a flyball bounce off his junk with two outs in the 9th triggering a brutal loss, he should be proud that we still like him.