By Will Lingo
December 8, 2005
The Cardinals and Rockies traded players who didn’t fit into their 2006 plans to each other, giving all three players a fresh start and a path to more playing time.
The Rockies acquired lefthander Ray King to bolster their bullpen, sending second baseman Aaron Miles and outfielder Larry Bigbie to the Cardinals.
King, 31, will serve as a set-up man for closer Brian Fuentes in Colorado. The bullpen was one of many sore spots for the Rockies in 2005, and they have now added King and Jose Mesa (who signed as a free agent) to try to improve the situation.
King had fallen out of favor in St. Louis and asked to be traded after not appearing in any of the Cardinals’ nine postseason games. He appeared in 77 games during the regular season, going 4-4, 3.38 with 23 strikeouts and 16 walks. It’s not clear he can be more than a lefthanded specialist, however. He held lefthanded hitters to a .244 average last season but allowed righties to hit .352.
The Cardinals are also trying to find cheap replacements for players who are departing as free agents. They declined to offer arbitration to outfielder Reggie Sanders and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, so Bigbie and Miles, who earned a combined $706,000 in 2005, will get a chance to win jobs in spring training.
Bigbie, 28, came to Colorado in a deadline deal with the Orioles this year, and he was expected to move on to the Red Sox in a bigger deal that eventually fell through. So he never fit into the Rockies’ long-term plans and batted .212 in limited playing time. A lefthanded hitter who’s considered a good defender, he was the 21st overall pick in the 1999 draft and is a career .268/.331/.398 hitter in 1,202 big league at-bats.
Miles, who is also 28, had a strong rookie season in 2004, batting .293/.345/.389, but he lost his starting job to Luis Gonzalez this season. He batted .281/.306/.355 in 324 at-bats and turned 48 double plays in 79 games at second.