ST. LOUIS — Six years in St. Louis was apparently plenty for Scott Rolen.
“He wanted out,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said on Sunday.
Mozeliak, speaking to a large gathering of bloggers who were in town for the annual United Cardinal Bloggers weekend, recounted the months leading up to Rolen’s departure and spoke candidly, and perhaps jokingly, about what went into the decision to finally trade the eight-time Gold Glove third baseman and seven-time All-Star.
“I did not want to trade him,” Mozeliak said. “I like Scott on a personal level and I consider him a friend. But he definitely needed to get out of here for a variety of reasons.”
Mozeliak never disclosed exactly why that was the case, but one can presume it was likely due to a disintegrating relationship between Rolen and then-manager Tony La Russa. The rift was likely caused by La Russa benching Rolen more and more after he continued to deal with a nagging shoulder injury.
Basically, it was two stubborn personalities constantly going at it.
Mozeliak remembered driving home in November and December of 2007, shortly after Rolen’s final season in St. Louis. He’d get a call around 9 p.m. every night from Rolen saying, “I want out.” The calls would last around 30-40 minutes, Mozeliak said.
Perhaps jokingly, Mozeliak said he tried to think of the one place to send Rolen that would irritate him.
“So, Toronto, right?” Mozeliak said. The Cardinals and Blue Jays agreed on a deal that sent Rolen to Toronto in exchange for Troy Glaus. The trade became finalized on Jan. 14, 2008.
Mozeliak then called Rolen and his agent and did the good-news-bad-news bit.
“You’ve been traded,” Mozeliak said.
“Sweet,” responded Rolen. “So what’s the bad news?”
“It’s Toronto,” Mozeliak replied. “Dead pause. His agent hadn’t spoken and was like, ‘we’ll call you back.’”
Rolen had a $4 million signing bonus that was part of the deal and was due like, 10 years after he actually signed. He demanded that to be accelerated as part of the trade to Toronto.
“He’s a great player and we certainly missed him, but things happen,” Mozeliak said.
Mozeliak went on to say, though, that the average fan usually has no idea what the dynamics of a clubhouse are like, and that’s something that can’t be forgotten when deals like that are made. We saw it with Colby Rasmus and it’s something that’s bound to happen in the future.
Rolen, a Jasper, Ind., native, was a .286 hitter, made four All-Star teams and won three Gold Glove Awards with St. Louis. He hit .421 with one home run in the 2006 World Series to help the Cardinals earn their 10th World Series title.
Rolen had flashes of greatness in Toronto and Cincinnati, but for the most part was never able to gain consistency and lost quite a bit of power as he continued to deal with his shoulder injuries.
Rolen has yet to officially retire, but it’s unlike he’ll ever play in the Major Leagues again.