It was on this date twelve years ago…July 29, 2002 that the St. Louis Cardinals traded Placido Polanco, Bud Smith, and Mike Timlin in exchange for Scott Rolen and Doug Nickle.
Rolen soon signed an 8-year contract that was expected to keep him in St. Louis the rest of his career–which obviously did not work out as despite playing in and winning one of two World Series, the third baseman and Tony La Russa had a falling out which resulted in a trade to Toronto after the 2007 season.
With all due respect to those who have manned the hot corner since Rolen, there has yet to be anyone display the same type of glove work that Cardinals fans were treated to during those five years he was in St. Louis. The question still lingers–what if the collision between Rolen and Hee-Seop Choi had never happened?? What kind of offensive numbers would Rolen have continued to provide and would the feud with La Russa have been avoided, thus seeing Rolen retire as a Cardinal?
We’ll never know. And Rolen made his efforts to put an end to the feud when he first returned to Busch Stadium as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. It’s over. What happened, happened.
The question now remaining is if what happened will be enough to garner the support necessary for Rolen to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The glove is there–eight times Rolen was recognized with a Rawlings Gold Glove.
Offensively, there will be more debate or hesitation. In his 17 big league seasons, Rolen hit .281 with 2077 hits, 316 home runs, and 1287 runs batted in. More than respectable, but not an automatic into Cooperstown.
But consider this–Rolen is one of only three third basemen to have 2,000 hits, 500 doubles, 300 home runs, and 1,200 RBIs. The other two–George Brett and Chipper Jones.
Jones long been talked about as a surefire Hall of Famer and he will be a first-timer on the ballot this upcoming season. Playing in two extra seasons and 461 more games than Rolen are reflected in their career totals at the plate, but the season-average is closer than might be expected. Jones averaged .303 with 30 HRs and 105 RBIs. Rolen averaged .281 with 25 HRs and 102 RBIs.
So now, as has been the case for players in the past–how great or what kind of value will be placed on the defense Rolen brought to the field? And with the recent changes to the voting, there will be fewer years to make that decision.
photo credit: butterfunk.com