08/17/2004: Thought for the Day:
Of all the lopsided trades in baseball history, the Cards have made some doozies: Eric Ludwick for Mark McGwire, Bob Sykes for Willie McGee, Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock.
But the discussion should probably include Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy for Jim Edmonds. It was a classic Walt Jocketty trade: find an established veteran in a contract year, preferably one undervalued as a malcontent; trade either unproven prospects or peaking veterans to get him; deliver your new star to the loving arms of the St. Louis fan base; then lock him up to a long-term deal below market cost. You don’t normally think of Jocketty as the type of Moneyball wheeler-and-dealer who has to take risks on "men of questionable character," but remember that Jocketty, like Billy Beane, learned at the feet of Sandy Alderson, one of the great bargain-hunters of our time.
This model fits perfectly with Jocketty’s resources. After all, St. Louis – only the 26th largest media market in the major leagues – will never have enough money to win an all-out bidding war with the New Yorks and Bostons of the world. But Jocketty is able to land big-name stars like Rolen, McGwire, and Edmonds by auditioning them before the local crowd, encouraging them to soak in the Red Sea down at Busch Stadium, and letting them bask in the womblike environment that’s so different from whatever town they’re fleeing. It’s a clever approach for signing superstars, Midwestern-style.
--Brian Gunn and Richard Lederer
Len on 08.17.04 @ 06:40 AM CST