|Monday, July 29
Updated: July 30, 5:55 PM ET
Rolen dealt to St. Louis in deal for Polanco, Smith
PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Rolen should be much happier in his new red uniform.
"We are very pleased and excited to add Scott Rolen to our lineup,'' Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. "He is an All-Star, a proven run producer and an excellent defensive player.''
Rolen, who made his first All-Star team this season, is batting .259 with 17 homers and 66 RBI. He goes from the last-place Phillies to the first-place Cardinals, who lead the NL Central by five games over Cincinnati.
Rolen had been the subject of trade rumors since rejecting a 10-year contract extension last November that could've been worth up to $140 million. He signed an $8.6 million, one-year deal in January, but made it clear he wanted to become a free agent after this season. That decision forced the Phillies to make a move or risk losing him for only a pair of picks in next June's amateur draft.
"I regret the outcome,'' Phillies general manager Ed Wade said. "We were very serious about the offer we made.''
Rolen did not sign an extension with the Cardinals, so he remains eligible for free agency. However, he has said that he is interested in signing a long-term deal with St. Louis.
In the last five years, the Cardinals traded for potential free agents Edmonds and Mark McGwire and convinced them to stay in St. Louis long-term.
Polanco, 26, is hitting .284 with five homers and 27 RBI. He batted .307 last season and .316 in his first full year, in 2000. Wade said he'll play third base and bat second in Philadelphia's lineup.
Smith, who pitched a no-hitter in his rookie season last year, was sent to Triple-A Memphis on July 20 after going 1-5 with a 6.94 ERA in 11 appearances, including 10 starts. The 22-year-old left-hander was 6-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 16 games last year and will report to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
Timlin is 1-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 42 appearances and is holding righties to a .197 average. The 36-year-old right-hander is in the final year of a contract that is paying him $5.25 million this season.
"We did not replace Scott Rolen with an All-Star, Gold Glove third baseman, but we did replace him with a very good baseball player and we got some other guys who should help us,'' Wade said.
Nickle, 27, was 3-5 with a 2.97 ERA and seven saves in 34 games -- one of them a start -- at Scranton this season. He appeared in four games -- 4 1/3 innings pitched -- for the Phillies this season and has made 10 career major league appearances.
The right-hander went 9-3 with seven saves and a 1.68 ERA at Scranton last season. He was assigned to Triple-A Memphis.
Rolen was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1997, and averaged 26 homers and 95 RBI in his first five seasons.
His last two seasons with the Phillies have been marred by turmoil and controversy. He feuded with manager Larry Bowa, mostly because they have opposite personalities, and became a main target for criticism by fans. The low point came when an anonymous teammate allegedly called Rolen a clubhouse "cancer'' in June.
Once a fan favorite, Rolen heard boos increasingly as his average dipped this year. After hitting his second homer of the game in an 8-4 win over Montreal on June 1, Rolen wouldn't come out of the dugout to acknowledge a curtain call.
"Maybe we're even,'' he said.
Rolen considered signing a long-term contract with the Phillies before the 2001 season. But tired of losing, he wanted the team to make a commitment to winning. Rolen figured a higher payroll would be a step in that direction, and wanted a clause in his contract that guaranteed Philadelphia would be among the top teams in that department.
Talks broke down, but the Phillies -- despite having the seventh-lowest payroll in the majors on Opening Day last season -- nearly won the division, finishing just two games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
Playing on a winning team for the first time in his career wasn't enough to keep Rolen smiling, however. He had words with Bowa after the manager criticized his offensive production, and was stung hard by harsh words from Dallas Green, senior adviser to Wade.
Rolen was upset when the Phillies revealed their $140 million offer, and explained his decision by questioning management's commitment to winning, sparking a volatile spring.
Rolen and Bowa had an animated on-field conversation in February and went a period without speaking to each other before the season started.
"I don't think we did anything to necessarily make the player unhappy,'' Wade said. "We're always trying to do things the right way. We're always trying to make our players comfortable. We're always trying to compensate them fairly. We're always trying to bring teammates around that they are comfortable playing with and gives us a better chance of winning.''