July 20, 2002 at 6:38 PM EST - Updated July 10 at 7:56 PM
By ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Even on a night both teams lost, the St. Louis Cardinals gained a bigger edge over Cincinnati in the NL Central race -- they got left-hander Chuck Finley and the Reds didn't.
After scouting numerous pitchers and waiting almost a month since Darryl Kile's death to make a deal, the Cardinals landed the 39-year-old Finley from the Cleveland Indians on Friday for minor league outfielder Luis Garcia and a player to be named.
Finley is a proven winner in the majors, with seven seasons of 15 wins or more and a 193-169 career record. But he is only 4-11 with a 4.44 ERA this season in 18 starts, getting limited run support, and is 12-18 over the last two seasons.
"But I hear his velocity is good and that's the thing you worry about with an older pitcher," St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds said. "I think this will give him a fresh start."
Even with a 3½-game lead over Cincinnati, the Cards' pitching is showing some cracks. Bud Smith was rocked Friday in a 12-9 loss to Pittsburgh and has won only once all season. And the rotation became so thin after Kile died June 22, the Cardinals even gave another chance to the oft-sidelined Andy Benes, whose career once seemed over.
That's why Edmonds is glad the Cardinals will have Finley pitching for them rather than against them. The Reds were believed to be the other finalist among the five teams bidding for Finley.
"I can't speak for him, but everybody else who has come here has seemed to enjoy it," said Edmonds, Finley's teammate for seven seasons with the Angels. "He's the ultimate workhorse. He's one of the best professionals I've ever seen. When you play a big game, you want him to have the ball."
Finley will likely get it Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was scheduled to start Friday night in Kansas City, but was scratched as the deal awaited the approval of major league baseball.
Any trade involving the transfer of $1 million or more must be approved by the commissioner's office. Finley is making $5 million this year and is still owed $7 million from his original $11 million signing bonus.
"We'll pick up a portion of his salary, not half," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "We have to pick up his signing bonus."
It was the second big trade in less than a month for the downsizing Indians, who dealt former ace Bartolo Colon to Montreal on June 27. Asked whether the Indians were done trading, Shapiro said: "I don't know."
There has been speculation that power-hitting first baseman Jim Thome might be dealt, but he has the right to veto a deal.
"Every team goes through rebuilding processes. We've got a club here that's got some young guys on it who are learning how to play. That's the direction they wanted to go," Thome said after an 8-5 loss to the Royals.
Said interim Indians manager Joel Skinner: "The team is getting younger. This is part of the process."
"This is not new news," he said. "We're in a situation where some changes are being made and you have to stay positive."
The key player in the deal for Cleveland was Garcia, 23, is hitting .266 with 13 homers, 37 homers and 59 strikeouts at Double-A New Haven. He was acquired from the Red Sox in December with two other prospects for pitcher Dustin Hermanson.
Shapiro praised Garcia's "raw power" and called him a "plus-plus talent." Garcia will spend this season in Double-A and move up to Triple-A next year.
Shapiro said the Indians have a list of four names to pick as the player to be named.
With the Indians rebuilding, Finley was eager for a trade to a contender. Finley, who spent most of his career with the Angels, got back to the postseason for first time since 1986 last season and went 0-2 in two starts against Seattle.
However, Finley is dealing now with the emotional baggage of a messy divorce case with actress Tawny Kitaen. The two have accused one another of domestic violence and drug abuse in dueling court documents.
Petitioning to regain custody of their two children, Kitaen claimed that Finley started a fight that led to her arrest in April. She also accused him of alcohol and drug abuse, and said he took steroids.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)