(Baseball StL) -- The best trades, it is often said, are the ones you don’t make.
While over the years the St. Louis Cardinals have made some shrewd deals that paid huge dividends, some have not only been poor decisions that just didn’t work out, they have actually set back the franchise for years.
Here’s a look at what I consider to be the worst recent and historical Redbird trades.
Worst recent trade: December, 2004 - Young pitching prospect Dan Haren is sent to the Oakland A’s for veteran Mark Mulder.
Haren was a promising youngster but the feeling was the Cards were close to the promised land. Mulder was 17-8 with a ton of strikeouts for the Oakland A’s in the 2004 season and could put the Birdos over the top.
After going 16-8 in 2005, Mulder was 6-10 his last three years, did not win a game in 2007 or 2008 and had an ERA in double digits in those years.
Haren is currently 119-97 with an ERA of 3.66, much of the time pitching for average to below-average teams. The Cardinals invested a lot of money and wasted three years waiting for a comeback from a guy whose best years were gone. The result was a makeshift staff and a salary-confined organization.
How could they have known? Well, he was the AL starter in the Al-Star game in 2004, and on Aug. 24, became the first pitcher to win 17 games. The Cy Young Award seemed assured. He never won again that year, going 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA. Clearly, something was amiss.
Next, in no particular order;
· Chris Perez for Mark DeRosa. The Cardinals had to choose between Jason Motte and Chris Perez and chose Motte. Perez went to the Indians for DeRosa, a career utility man. He didn’t work out but Perez is a very respectable closer. Unfortunately, he may also be a Tweeker so this may not be as bad as it looked at first.
· Luke Gregerson for Khalil Green. Could have worked out well because Green was a smooth fielder with occasional power. But his emotional difficulties could not be overcome and he is out of baseball.
Worst trade of my lifetime:
February 1972, the St. Louis Cardinals trade Hall of Fame left hander Steve Carlton to Philadelphia for pitcher Rick Wise. Carlton won 20 games in 1971 but reportedly wanted a raise so he was shipped off to Philadelphia where he showed there was plenty of tread left on the tire. He won 241 more games, four Cy Young awards, and one World Series.
Wise was traded two years later to Boston. After this trade, the Cardinals did not make the playoffs for 10 years.