All's Fair In Love and Baseball
Greatest trade in Cardinals history! Well….wait? Was it? Or just wishful thinking? As of right now Nolan Arenado hasn’t taken an official swing for the Cardinals. It’s not too grand to say that the eyes of the entire Cardinals Nation are waiting with bated breath to see if Arenado will pump life into an otherwise lifeless team. Will he help win us the championship we’ve grown used to winning over the years? We’ll see. Would that solidify his place in the list of great Cardinals trade deals? Well…let’s take a look at some of them…
Brock for Broglio. The statement might not be as popular as it once was, but it’s meaning leaves no doubt. Still considered one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, this 1964 trade between long time baseball rivals had the Cardinals end up as clear winners over the Cubs. At first, the Cubs seemed to fair better from the deal because Ernie Broglio was a notable pitcher for the Cardinals and Brock’s career in Chicago was seemingly a bust. Fast forward to 1966, and Broglio was already out of MLB with an injured elbow and Brock was a year away from winning a second World Series. Brock would go on to steal 938 bases and accruing 3,023 hits solidifying his place in the 1985 Hall of Fame.
Who could predict that flipping the bird to your hometown crowd would lead to backflips from The Wizard? Thanks to sour relations between Garry Templeton and the Cardinals, the Redbirds were looking to replace the shortstop right around the same time Ozzie Smith and the Padres were coming to blows. After an impressive start with the Padres, Smith failed to deliver in ’79, contributing to tensions between him and the club. Initially Smith wanted to stay in San Diego, but a visit from the White Rat himself, Whitey Herzog, was enough to convince Smith to head to the Midwest. Although Templeton had better luck than Broglio, but it’s hard for any Cards fan to imagine a baseball field without the Wizard’s backflip.
Bad relations on the west coast between players and teams, which ultimately prove beneficial to St. Louis, is a theme staying consistent from Ozzie Smith to Mark McGwire. Public statements made by McGwire made it fairly clear he saw no future for himself with the A’s. Once again, the Cardinals smelling blood in the water with the A’s (having gotten Dennis Eckersley and Todd Stottlemyre) knew if Oakland had a chance to rebuild their team, they needed to trade McGwire. Even though it didn’t end up being the uneven trade result of Brock/Broglio one would be hard pressed to match the careers of T.J. Mathews and Eric Ludwick against the 1998 homerun chase and McGwire’s impact as player-turned-coach after retirement.
If you’re looking for a disproportionate trade in the 2000s era, a case could be made for the Jim Edmonds/Kent Bottenfield trade. Certainly, no slouch at Anaheim, Edmonds was averaging a .280 BA and an imposing defensive player in center field, but a shoulder injury, sketchy relations with Angels’ teammates set up for an Edmonds free agency departure. The Angels needing pitching help, wanted Rick Ankiel, but the best the Cardinals would offer was to trade away pitcher, Kent Bottenfield and second baseman, Adam Kennedy. With the Edmonds puzzle piece added the Cardinals went on to win two National League pennants and win one World Series. Bottenfield? Well…the Angels got rid of him and his 5.71 by July 2000, not even lasting a full year with the team.
We have a pretty good history of not giving up a lot, but gaining a ton, so here’s hoping we can add Arenado’s name to this extraordinary list.