Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's Hardly As Though We Hardly Knew Ya'

Well, so much for baseball heaven. When he was rescued by, er I mean traded to, the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of the 2002 season, Scott Rolen announced on leaving Philadelphia that his new zip code was located squarely within the borders of baseball heaven whereas his previous address was decidedly south of that region. A native of Indiana, Rolen grew up a Cardinals fan. Now, he would be their starting third baseman. It didn't get any better than that, Scott allowed, at least at the time.

During the intervening years Rolen lost a World Series, won a World Series, won several Gold Glove awards, suffered a few injuries along with a well-publicized falling out with his manager, the self-anointed genius Tony LaRussa. Oh, and he made a ton of money; let's not forget that. Surely, Scott thought upon heading for the city under the Gateway Arch, any place would be an improvement over one that boasted both Larry Bowa and Dallas Green.

Apparently not. Heaven, it turned out, wasn't all it was cracked up to be and after suffering what he thought were one too many indignities, Rolen let the Cardinals know he was ready to move on once more. The news that he will be swapped for Troy Glaus of Toronto, pending both players pass physicals and the Commissioner's Office OK's the financial details of the the deal, comes as a little bit of a surprise only insofar as the destination. I assumed Rolen had a no-trade clause in his current contract and it surprises me to learn he'd consider going to the Blue Jays, who appear to have little chance of overtaking the Red Sox and Yankees in their division, if not holding off the up-and-coming Rays of Tampa Bay. Maybe the idea of occasionally DH'ing appealed to Rolen, who isn't getting any younger and whose shoulder ailments have cost him a fair amount of playing time the last few seasons. Or maybe he decided that baseball heaven no longer included the National League at all; the All-Star games certainly would suggest that was the case.

No matter. In the end, Rolen comes off as a guy who wears out his welcome, which is what some of us though nearly six years ago when he complained bitterly that the Phillies just didn't care enouigh about winning and, by extension, about him.

Out with a whimper.


SirAlden said...

Truly a tragedy.

It proves his words were self serving in Philly. Boy he could have been a Philly Hall of Famer.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't a nice guy. Wouldn't sign the home run ball he hit off the facade of the Vet for my son who caught it.

David said...

Tom, I know I'm late with this...I have been AWOL from bloggerville for awhile. It's good to see you're writing again.

We don't have the same opinion of Rolen, so I won't go into that again; although, it should be noted that we do have the same opinion of Tony LaRussa, and it's kind of hard to entirely fault a man who has problems playing under Bowa and LaRussa. We're not exactly talking about Chuck Tanner and Charlie Manuel here.

The one thing that really surprises me about Rolen's clearance of his no-trade clause is that he did it to go to one of the very few teams that still plays on turf. What are there, three left now including Toronto? Doesn't sound like the best idea for a man with a chronic back condition which isn't getting any better.

Tom Goodman said...

Good points, David. The turf issue never occurred to me. I must also say a lot of pundits think the Jays will be a very solid team this season and that influenced his decision. I prefer to think not too many teams were willing to try for an aging veteran with a huge salary remaining and a recent history of injuries. Oh, and some of them probably think he is a malcontent although as you correctly observe, Bowa, Green and LaRussa are not exactly Terry Francona clones.