March 23, 2000: Cardinals trade Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy for Jim Edmonds

After three years of trade rumors, Angels general manager Bill Stoneman emphatically announced that he had no intention of trading Jim Edmonds.

Four days later, on March 23, 2000, Edmonds became a St. Louis Cardinal in a deal that sent pitcher Kent Bottenfield and second base prospect Adam Kennedy to the Angels.

“When we heard Stoneman say Jim wasn’t getting traded, I don’t know what it meant to you guys, but to a lot of us it was a sign something was going to happen,” Angels shortstop Gary DiSarcina said. “It was the kiss of death.”[1]

ANGELS HAD LONG SOUGHT TO TRADE THEIR YOUNG STAR

A Southern California native, Edmonds was the Angels’ seventh-round draft pick in 1988 out of Diamond Bar High School, approximately 20 minutes outside of Anaheim. By the time he made his major-league debut as a September call-up in 1993, Edmonds had established himself as an elite defensive center fielder who was batting .315 in Triple-A Vancouver.

He had not, however, developed a power stroke. Heading into the 1995 season, Edmonds had never hit more than 14 home runs in a single season (that came between Double-A and Triple-A in 1992) and he had just five major-league home runs to his name.

“I got a lot stronger and I changed my swing,” Edmonds said. “I went home in ’94 and said, ‘This is what I’ve got to do.’ I wanted to learn to pull the ball a little bit more. It just happened overnight. Very surprising. I knew I had power. I just wasn’t able to hit the ball in the air to right-center field as much. That’s where I changed. I wasn’t trying to hit 30 home runs. I was just trying to get the ball up in the air with some backspin.”[2]

The changes worked. In 1995, Edmonds emerged as an American League all-star, batting .290 with 33 homers and a team-high 107 RBIs. He hit at least 25 home runs in each of the next three seasons.

Despite Edmonds’ success, California media reported that teammates thought Edmonds could get even more out of his ability.

“He took the rap of being lazy,” said Rod Carew, who worked with Edmonds as a hitting instructor with the Angels. “I told him, ‘Same thing I took for 19 years.’”[3]

Edmonds also faced accusations that he didn’t take the Angels’ late-season elimination in the 1998 American League West championship race hard enough.[4] Matters only grew worse in 1999 when Edmonds required surgery in April for a longstanding shoulder injury. Edmonds initially believed that he could continue to play through it, but the condition finally grew so bad that he relented and had the surgery.

Because he waited until April to have the surgery, he wasn’t able to return until August and played just 55 games that season. The Los Angeles Times reported that “several Angels felt betrayed and vented their frustration, saying that if Edmonds had his priorities in order, he would have had surgery in the offseason.”[5]

It was no secret that the Angels were looking for a trade partner, especially as Edmonds entered the final year of his contract. At various times, the Angels spoke to the Athletics, Mariners, Mets, and Yankees about possible deals.

In the weeks leading up to the trade, Stoneman spoke to the Yankees but New York was unwilling to send pitcher Ramiro Mendoza or infielder Alfonso Soriano to Anaheim. Oakland offered pitcher Ron Mahay and pitching prospect Jesus Colome, but the Angels declined that offer.[6]

The Cardinals had spoken to the Angels during the winter but were unwilling to trade pitching prospects Rick Ankiel or Chad Hutchinson.[7] Talks lay dormant until the spring, when former Rockies general manager Bob Gebhard, now an assistant to Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty, was scouting the Angels at their training camp in Arizona.

“Talking to their people, they said they’d pretty much had a tryout camp at second base and they asked if Kennedy might be available,” Gebhard said. “I said, ‘You need to talk to Walt, but for a deal the magnitude of an Edmonds trade, he might be.’”[8]

THE CARDINALS MET THE ANGELS’ NEED FOR A STARTING PITCHER AND SECOND BASEMAN

The combination of Bottenfield, who would bolster a beleaguered Angels pitching staff that posted a 4.79 team ERA in 1998, and Kennedy, who had relatively little competition for the second base job, was enough to convince Stoneman to make the trade.

“The Angels hope to fill two holes with the deal, adding an 18-game winner who, though he is no Cy Young Award candidate, should bolster a rotation many consider the worst in baseball, and a good-hitting second base prospect who is expected to win the job over the undistinguished cast of candidates the Angels have auditioned this spring,” wrote Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.[9]

“It became apparent we might be able to fill two needs,” Stoneman said. “It made so much sense we had to do it.”[10]

Stoneman already was familiar with Bottenfield, who had been a Montreal pitching prospect during Stoneman’s days as an Expos executive. At that time, Bottenfield had been a hard-throwing starter, but since starting 37 games for the Expos and Rockies in 1993, he had been used primarily as a reliever until the Cardinals signed him as a free agent in 1998.

Under pitching coach Dave Duncan’s tutelage, Bottenfield was selected for the only all-star game of his career on his way to an 18-7 record and 3.97 ERA. His 18 wins more than tripled his previous career high of five.

“He found himself in St. Louis,” Stoneman said. “His blazing fastball is gone, but he could throw to a dime and hit it. He understands pitching and has great control. He won’t strike out a lot of guys, but he’ll make them put the ball in play.”[11]

Said Bottenfield: “Guys will walk away from the plate wondering how I got them out. I watch 8-10 hours of videotape before each start and try to learn hitters better than they know themselves. I try to find their weaknesses and exploit them.”[12]

Like Edmonds, Bottenfield said he had been assured by Cardinals executives that he didn’t have to worry about being traded.

“I was told this wasn’t going to happen,” Bottenfield said. “Maybe that should have been the first clue.”[13]

“We had no intention of trading a starting pitcher,” Jocketty said. “This came up, and when you get an opportunity to get a guy of Edmonds’ stature, you can’t pass it up.”[14]

Though he had spent just two seasons with the Cardinals, Bottenfield was so emotional after learning of the deal that he couldn’t speak with reporters that day. The following morning, he was still fighting back tears.[15]

“It came as a shock,” he said. “With all the moves this team made, it’s going to be exciting, and I’m going to be sorry that I’m not a part of it. … I don’t dread going to Anaheim, and there are some positive aspects of this deal, but to leave the fans of St. Louis, who have been so good to me, that’s tough.”[16]

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Kennedy saw the deal as an opportunity to move closer to his hometown in Riverside, California, and to get regular playing time. The Cardinals had acquired Fernando Vina in a trade with the Brewers that offseason, effectively blocking Kennedy from the St. Louis starting lineup. In Anaheim, he was expected to compete with Scott Spiezio and Trent Durrington for playing time.[17]

“They’re going to give me a shot,” he said. “You know I love this place, but this is also my career and life and a job, and at the same time I’ve got to do what’s best for me. This is what I’ve been waiting for – an opportunity like this, and I think I’m pretty ready for it.”[18]

The Cardinals selected Kennedy with their first-round pick in 1997, and in 1999 he was named the franchise’s minor-league player of the year after batting .327 with 10 homers, 63 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases for Triple-A Memphis. His performance earned him a late-season call-up to the majors, where he hit .255 with a home run and 16 RBIs in 110 plate appearances.

“I doubt many people know Adam Kennedy except for his neighbors in Riverside, but our scouts think he’s ready,” Stoneman said. “He’s basically an offensive player at this point who rarely strikes out, but he also knows how to play and plays hard.”[19]

In addition to providing the Angels with a starting pitcher and a second baseman, the trade also helped clear up the Angels’ outfield situation, with Garret Anderson moving from left field to center field, Darin Erstad moving to left, and Tim Salmon stationed in right field.

“Sometimes patience has its rewards,” Stoneman said. “We now have two players who our (scouts) really liked a lot at two positions where we had a need. This helps immeasurably to balance our club. Some people may have felt differently, but it has never been our intention to do anything less than field a competitive club this year and make a run in the West.”[20]

“A talent like Jim’s is not going to be replaced,” Mike Scoscia said. “Fortunately for us, we have enough guys so the impact won’t be as great offensively, and Garret is an experienced center fielder. This strengthens us in a couple of areas.”[21]

EDMONDS BRINGS ELITE OFFENSE, GOLD GLOVE DEFENSE TO ST. LOUIS

In St. Louis, the trade was the endcap to a busy offseason for Jocketty, who acquired Andy Benes, Vina, Pat Hentgen, Dave Veres, and Darryl Kile in recent months. Those moves gave the Cardinals the starting pitching and infield depth to trade Bottenfield and Kennedy.

“And we’ve still got (Ankiel) in a Cardinals uniform and we’ve still got Hutchinson in a Cardinal uniform,” Gebhard said. “The nucleus of the 2000 club is still here, and so is the future.”[22]

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he planned to move incumbent center fielder J.D. Drew to right field. Ray Lankford would play left field and the 38-year-old Eric Davis, who was returning from shoulder surgery, would be used as a fourth outfielder.[23]

“As we looked at our club, we needed another bat and we also got a Gold Glove center fielder,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “I’ve talked to several American League general managers in the last few days and they felt he was probably one of the best one or two center fielders in the entire league.”[24]

Edmonds already had won Gold Gloves in 1997 and 1998.

“I’ve seen Jim make a dozen plays where you just say, ‘Wow, that’s amazing,’” Salmon said. “He has a great arm and the ability to make the off-balance throw to third. He banged into the wall a ton of times making great plays.

“He has such a beautiful swing I’d get jealous of it, and in pressure-packed situations, he seemed so relaxed. He has that flair. He’ll be missed, but at the same time, none of us should be surprised. We’ve been preparing for this for three years.”[25]

Edmonds was due to make $4 million in 2000 and was entering the final year of his contract.[26] Jocketty said that if Edmonds and his agent were open to exploring a long-term deal, the Cardinals were interested.[27]

“He’s a terrific center fielder,” said Benes, who had played against Edmonds in the American League. “There’s a lot to be said for how many runs are saved because of good defense.”[28]

“He’s a great player,” said Fernando Tatis, another former American Leaguer. “He can hit, he can do everything. This guy is unbelievable. I’ve watched him play and the way he plays is amazing.”[29]

Just as the Cardinals heaped praise on their new teammate, Salmon offered his teammates in Anaheim a word of caution, noting that the trade “looks pretty good so far … but if Jim wins the National League MVP Award, Bill (Stoneman) will have to live with that one.”[30]

EDMONDS THRIVES IN ST. LOUIS

Edmonds didn’t win the MVP Award in St. Louis, but he twice placed among the top five in the award voting. In his debut season in 2000, he hit .295 with a career-high 42 home runs, 108 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. In addition to earning midsummer all-star honors, he captured the third Gold Glove of his career and placed fourth in the NL MVP race behind Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, and Mike Piazza.

Four years later, in 2004, Edmonds may have been just a touch better, batting .301 with 42 homers, 111 RBIs, and eight stolen bases. As part of the vaunted “MV3” alongside Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen, Edmonds won a Gold Glove, placed fifth in the MVP voting, and won the Silver Slugger Award while helping the Cardinals win the National League pennant. In Game 7 of the NLCS against the Astros, Edmonds made a diving, game-saving catch to help send the Cardinals to the World Series.

In 2006, Edmonds hit two home runs in the NLCS before the Cardinals topped the Tigers in five games for the 10th World Series championship in franchise history.

Following the 2007 season, the Cardinals traded Edmonds to the Padres for 2011 World Series hero David Freese. Edmonds split the 2008 season between the Padres and Cubs, then sat out the 2009 season before spending 2010 with the Brewers and the Reds.

In 2011, Edmonds rejoined the Cardinals but a lingering Achilles injury forced him to announce his retirement before spring training games could begin. He retired with eight Gold Gloves, a career .284 batting average, 393 home runs, and 1,199 RBIs in 17 big-league seasons. He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.

KENNEDY BECOMES A FIXTURE FOR THE ANGELS

In Anaheim, Bottenfield struggled to regain the magic of his 1999 season. Through 21 starts, he went 7-8 with a 5.71 ERA before he was traded to the Phillies for Ron Gant. In Philadelphia, Bottenfield went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in eight starts.

He signed with the Astros in 2001, where he went 2-5 with a 6.40 ERA before a shoulder injury forced him to retire with a 46-49 record and 4.54 ERA for his career.

In Kennedy, the Angels indeed found their second baseman of the future. Kennedy played seven seasons with the Angels, batting .280 over that span. His best season came in 2002, when he hit .312 with seven home runs, 52 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. He earned ALCS MVP honors that fall when he hit .357 with three homers and five RBIs against the Twins. He then hit .280 with two doubles and two RBIs to help the Angels win the World Series title over the Giants.

After the 2006 season, Kennedy returned to St. Louis on a three-year, $10 million contract.[31] He was batting just .219 in 2007 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in August. The following season, he appeared in 115 games – including 89 starts – batting .280 with two homers and 36 RBIs. After he requested a trade in a bid for more playing time, the Cardinals released him in February 2009.

The remainder of Kennedy’s career took him to Tampa Bay, Oakland, Washington, Seattle, and Los Angeles. His retirement following the 2012 season concluded a 14-year major-league career that included a .272 career batting average, 80 home runs, 571 RBIs, and 179 stolen bases.


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[1] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[2] Mike Eisenbath, “Meet Jim Edmonds: All the tools – and baggage, too,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[3] Mike Eisenbath, “Meet Jim Edmonds: All the tools – and baggage, too,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[4] Mike Eisenbath, “Meet Jim Edmonds: All the tools – and baggage, too,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[5] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Edmonds’ defense should help Cardinals pitching,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[7] Rick Hummel, “Cards trade Bottenfield, get Edmonds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 24, 2000.

[8] Rick Hummel, “With Orosco in bullpen, Radinsky can be cautious,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[9] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[10] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[11] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[12] Mike DiGiovanna, “Bottenfield Brings His ‘Maddux-Type’ Approach to Angels,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2000.

[13] Mike DiGiovanna, “Bottenfield Brings His ‘Maddux-Type’ Approach to Angels,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2000.

[14] Associated Press, “Angels relent, deal Edmonds to Cards,” Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2000.

[15] Mike DiGiovanna, “Bottenfield Brings His ‘Maddux-Type’ Approach to Angels,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2000.

[16] Mike DiGiovanna, “Bottenfield Brings His ‘Maddux-Type’ Approach to Angels,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2000.

[17] Rick Hummel, “Edmonds’ defense should help Cardinals pitching,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[18] Rick Hummel, “Cards trade Bottenfield, get Edmonds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 24, 2000.

[19] Ross Newhan, “By pulling the trigger on a deal that fills voids at two key positions, Stoneman sends Angels a message that he’s not gun-shy after all,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[20] Ross Newhan, “By pulling the trigger on a deal that fills voids at two key positions, Stoneman sends Angels a message that he’s not gun-shy after all,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[21] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[22] Rick Hummel, “With Orosco in bullpen, Radinsky can be cautious,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[23] Rick Hummel, “Cards trade Bottenfield, get Edmonds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 24, 2000.

[24] Rick Hummel, “Cards trade Bottenfield, get Edmonds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 24, 2000.

[25] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[26] Rick Hummel, “Cards trade Bottenfield, get Edmonds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 24, 2000.

[27] Rick Hummel, “Edmonds’ defense should help Cardinals pitching,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[28] Rick Hummel, “Edmonds’ defense should help Cardinals pitching,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[29] Rick Hummel, “Edmonds’ defense should help Cardinals pitching,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 26, 2000.

[30] Mike DiGiovanna, “Enigmatic outfielder is traded to St. Louis for pitcher Bottenfield and second baseman Kennedy,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2000.

[31] Derrick Goold, “Cards get moving on shopping list,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 29, 2006.

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