John Mozeliak doubles up

by on October 6, 2011 · 12 comments

It’s been said more than once, by more than one person, Cardinals fan or not:

The Colby Rasmus trade was an all-in move for the 2011 Cards.

All of sports has adopted the strategic poker move as a euphemism for taking extreme measures or doing everything in one’s power to accomplish a goal.

After last night’s game four, if we’re to continue the poker motif, it seems fair to say John Mozeliak has won his all-in gamble and doubled up.

Bearing in mind that for now, we can only judge the trade in it’s current context – potential still exists for the deal to wind up a stinker in the long-term – I don’t think it could be considered anything but a rousing success.

Rasmus faltered (further) down the stretch, while Edwin Jackson shined. Octavio Dotel found success in well-placed situations and Marc Rzepczynski has been as advertised versus left-handed hitters.

Last night, all three played their respective roles as we’ve come to expect over the last month. Jackson struggled in the first inning only to settle in and give the Cardinals another great start and a chance to win. Dotel got his two uneventful outs. Rzepczynski struck out a left-handed hitter to strand a runner. Clockwork.

It is difficult to imagine the Cardinals of July and August being in the position they will find themselves in on Friday night – on the brink of returning to the National League Championship Series.

Indeed, the Cardinals of September and October, the team that forced their way into the playoffs, into the comparisons with a certain 2006 club, and back into the hearts of Cardinal fans everywhere – is a team born of Mozeliak having the stones to complete an unpopular deal that he insisted would improve the club.

He was right. So much so, in fact, that maybe one of our Twitter followers, @utnick98, said it best last night (in response to a crack about Rasmus making the game-ending catch with less effort than Jon Jay):

Who gives a [expletive] about Colby Rasmus?

I’m not certain I could’ve said it more potently or accurately myself.

Perhaps it’s time to start looking back on this trade as “the Edwin Jackson trade”.

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Otter October 6, 2011

I know in my mind everything in the trade lined up on paper, but it was still one of the most balls-hanging-over-the-edge moves I’ve seen in many seasons. I thought I would always miss Walt Jocketty and his seemingly crystal-ball-worthy trades, but we’ve got a GM now who’s every bit as crazy and apparently even better at reading player’s futures than Miss Cleo.

PH8 October 6, 2011

Well, let’s not forget his hand was force a bit too – but lucky or not, it helped this season.

SMS_Mike October 6, 2011

The only other recent trade that comes to mind is Theo Epstein dealing Nomar at the deadline for Orlando Cabrera, and even that comparison breaks down. Nomar was an established star and the most popular player on the team; Rasmus wasn’t even close to either. Not to mention, the fan response to Nomar leaving was a lot more angry than most responses to Rasmus’ departure.

Still, both were risky trades where the GM stuck his neck out.

Boston won that World Series, as we all remember. I wonder how this season will end up…

PH8 October 6, 2011

And Theo’s hand was far less forced, as I recall…

Pip October 6, 2011

Yes, all three played their roles well in one game last night. It’s important to keep the ex-Jays’ contributions in perspective, though. Together, Jackson, Rzep, Patterson and Dotel combined for 1.7 WAR with the Cardinals, a not-insignificant amount. But the team’s success post-Rasmus was as much due to Pujols and Carpenter (to take two players) resurging. Those two gained a bulk of their combined 10+ WAR by improved performance after July 27.

PH8 October 6, 2011

One game? All three are positive WAR with the Cardinals. Same cannot be said for those shipped to Toronto.

Pujols and Carpenter are constants, and of course the Cards would be sunk without their contributions.

But, 1.7 WAR > -0.7 WAR.

Not to get too literal with wins above replacement, but one win’s worth of improvement was pretty critical, no?

Pip October 6, 2011

“Critical”? Helpful, important, useful. But again, all I’m saying here is that we need to keep the trade in perspective. It’s not surprising that three players who got a lot of playing time accumulated more WAR than one who was injured.

I’m just wary of people looking for a single explanation/storyline for the team’s success (not necessarily saying it’s you) and pointing to The Trade and using the playoff berth as backward justification. If the Braves hadn’t choked, and the Cardinals not won the wild card, would that have meant that the trade didn’t work?

PH8 October 7, 2011

Well, then what is your perspective, if mine is wrong?

Rasmus played almost 100 more innings than Jackson, Rzep, Dotel, and Patterson combined – at a win less.

So yes, the trade was a success – judging on the information we have right now – playoffs or not. The trade improved the team, period.

PH8 October 7, 2011

…and you’re right, as I also mentioned above, this trade was certainly not a singular catalyst for the Cardinals making the playoffs. But conversely, I think an argument could be made that they may not have without making the trade.


Pip October 7, 2011

Yes, that’s really the important question to ask: What was the opportunity cost? The team surely could’ve acquired other players, be they RH relievers, LOOGys, starters. Or the team could’ve done nothing and used existing players, like McClellan, Boggs, Lynn, etc, and Rasmus might’ve regressed to his mean. That’s part of the difficulty in assessing a trade, of course. Saying that they won and therefore the trade was a success is far to simplistic, IMO.

PH8 October 9, 2011

Well, of course it’s simplistic – but using your logic, I’m not sure how we’d ever evaluate the effectiveness of a trade?

I mean, if we’re to make assumptions on other players that could’ve been required or different performance, it’d be fairly easy to always assume something better was available, no?

I’m not trying to defend a thesis here or anything, just merely stating that the players the Cardinals received were better, for the remainder of 2011, than Rasmus et al. And that I think it factored into, was not the sole reason for, the Cardinals making the playoffs.

If Rasmus ever fulfills his great promise, it could look awful in hindsight.

Perhaps rather than saying there was a winner or that the trade was successful, we can just say that right now the Cards are ahead? 🙂

Pip October 7, 2011

^ far too simplistic. [embarrassing typo!]

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