St. Louis Cardinals: Revisiting the trade that brought Adam Wainwright to St. Louis
In December 2003, the St. Louis Cardinals engineered a trade with the Atlanta Braves that brought Adam Wainwright to St. Louis. However, it was the other two pieces the Cardinals acquired in the trade that helped impact the 2004 season.
The trade that brought Adam Wainwright to St. Louis, not only gifted the Cards a future all-star, but also added two players who would play a significant role with the team in their 2004 NL Pennant Championship season. It gave the St. Louis Cardinals an additional left-handed arm in the bullpen and a solid starter who would win 15 games in 2004.
On December 13, 2003, then general manager Walt Jocketty, traded outfielder J.D. Drew and catcher Eli Marrero to the Atlanta Braves. In return the Cardinals received Wainwright, starting pitcher Jason Marquis, and relief pitcher Ray King.
Of course, Wainwright’s career with the St. Louis Cardinals is well-known to most fans, but Marquis and King’s contributions in their relatively short time with the team may have been forgotten. Their time with the Redbirds was relatively short, however, the role they played in 2004 shouldn’t be overlooked.
Let’s take a closer look at the trade and it’s short and long-term effect on the St. Louis Cardinals.
What the Cardinals gave up
J.D. Drew was a former first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998. After initially being assigned to AAA Memphis, Drew was called up to the major league club in September and batted .415 the rest of the season.
Expectations for Drew were high in St. Louis, but he never played more than 135 games in any one season. His best season for the Cardinals was 2001 when he had a slash line of .323/.414/.613 with 27 HR and 73 RBI in 109 games. Although Injuries played a role in his limited playing time, Drew was accused by Manager Tony LaRussa of playing with a ‘lack of passion.’
It should be pointed out that Drew’s 2004 season with the Braves was the best of this career. He played 145 games, had a slash line of .305/.436/.569, with 31 HR and 93 RBI.
Eli Marrero primarily played a utility role with the St. Louis Cardinals as a catcher, outfielder, and first baseman. He is best remembered by fans as the catcher for Bud Smith during his ‘no hit’ game on September 3, 2001. During his seven years with the Redbirds, he had a slash line of .238/.295/.390.
The 25-year-old right-hander came to the Cardinals after being assigned to the bullpen by the Braves. He was immediately put in the starting rotation for the 2004 season by impressing Cardinals pitching coach with his ‘devastating sinker.’
The 2004 season ended up being a career best for Marquis. He posted a 15-9 record, with a 3.71 ERA, and a career high 138 strikeouts in 201 inning pitched. Marquis was also second in the NL ground/fly ball ratio (2.17), while holding batters to a .198 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Marquis strung together a Cardinals’ season high 11-game winning streak, the longest since John Tudors‘ 11-game streak in 1985. He also pitched 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings from August 24 to September 10.
Marquis never came close to his 2004 results in his last two seasons with the Cardinals, and left for the Chicago Cubs after the 2006 season.
Ray King joined Steve Kline as the left-handed options in the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen for 2004. The Kline/King combo gave the Cardinals one of the most effective 1-2 left-handed punches coming out the BP in their history. This left-handed combo is something the 2018 Cardinals sorely needed.
Ray King’s 2004 season, like Jason Marquis, was the finest of his career. He appeared in a team high of 86 games, and career best in holds (32), wins (5), and ERA (2.61). The left hander also pitched a 30-game scoreless streak from May to July.
The 30-year-old King was traded after the 2005 season to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Larry Bigbie and infielder Aaron Miles.
Finally, Adam Wainwright
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I won’t rehash Adam Wainwright’s career accomplishments in this piece. Most of us know his story since being called up by the Cardinals on September 11, 2005. However, it should be noted that the Braves didn’t want to let go of Wainwright.
The Braves were only going to offer Marquis and King in the original deal for Drew and Marrero. But Walt Jocketty held his ground and would only relinquish Drew if Adam Wainwright was included in the trade.
J.D. Drew was the Atlanta Braves target and Wainwright was the Cardinals target from the beginning. After much back and forth between Jocketty and Braves General Manager John Schholtz, Wainwright was finally thrown in and the trade was completed.
In summary, although Adam Wainwright was the biggest prize in this trade for the Cardinals, Jason Marquis and Ray KIng were important pieces for their short-term needs. Marquis and King were two important additions for the 2004 run to the World Series.
Former GM Walt Jocketty should be given credit addressing in one trade both the long-term and the short-term needs for the Cardinals. Thanks for reading and, as always…Go Cards.