The St. Louis Cardinals are hoping a change of altitude will work wonders for Darryl Kile.
Kile, a big-bucks bust in two seasons at Coors Field, was sent from the Colorado Rockies to the Cardinals in a seven-player trade Tuesday.
Along with a potential No. 1 starter, St. Louis also got a new closer in Dave Veres, who had 31 saves this year, and pitching prospect Luther Hackman.
"His whole approach will change once he gets out of there," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said of Kile. "Getting him out of Colorado will be a psychological lift for him, as it would be for any pitcher."
The Rockies continued an offseason makeover that includes the trade of outfielder Dante Bichette and general manager Dan O'Dowd stressed the "flexibility" that results from dumping $9.3 million in salary.
"It's the next step in the plan, in the process that I've been talking about," O'Dowd said. "We are very excited about the three young arms that we received. All of them, in our minds, were power arms that throw strikes."
The sides reached a tentative deal early Monday, contingent on the Cardinals' restructuring the final year of Kile's contract. Kile is scheduled to make $8 million next season.
The Cardinals were negotiating to reduce the salary to $6 million and add an option for 2001 with a $2 million buyout, and the final hangup was negotiating incentive clauses for the option year.
Kile, who turns 31 next month, joins 1996 AL Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen, an 11-game winner last year who was acquired last week from Toronto, to revamp a staff that has been the Cardinals' major weakness the past two seasons.
Kile was 19-7 with a 2.57 ERA with Houston in 1997, but was a major bust in Colorado after signing with the Rockies as a free agent. He was 21-30 with a 5.84 ERA in two seasons for Colorado.
Last season, Kile was 8-13 with a 6.61 ERA. The right-hander struggled with his curveball at the mile-high altitude and those problems ended up affecting his other pitches he wound up with a 7.77 ERA at Coors Field, the hihest home-field ERA among major league pitchers.
The Cardinals think he'll be a different pitcher closer to sea level.
"Honestly, I never thought that way," Kile said. "You make good pitches, you get outs. You make bad pitches, you don't, and that holds true no matter where you pitch."
But Kile wasn't exactly overjoyed to be leaving Denver.
"I liked it here," Kile said. "That's why I came here a couple years ago. I can't say I'm excited to be leaving, but I'm excited to be playing for the Cardinals. Does that make sense?"
Veres was 4-8 with a 5.14 ERA overall, but was 20-for-21 in save opportunities and had a 2.52 ERA on the road.
"I know I had four or five games in Coors that were pretty horrendous," Veres said. "A bad pitch there doesn't go to the wall, it goes 20 feet over it."
Veres, 33, was 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA and eight saves in 63 appearances as a setup man in his Rockies debut in 1998.
Jimenez, 26, pitched a no-hitter and two-hitter against Arizona's Randy Johnson this year, but the rookie later spent time in the minors and was 5-14 with a 5.89 ERA.
Aybar, 25, was used mostly in relief and was 4-5 with three saves and a 5.47 ERA in 97 innings. Croushore was 3-7 with a 4.14 ERA, eight saves and 88 strikeouts in 71 2-3 innings.
Butler, 21, was a Cardinals' third-round draft pick in 1996 and hit .269 with 13 homers and 54 RBIs last year at Double-A Arkansas. He played mostly at shortstop but also has experience at second base.
O'Dowd said Butler was the holdup in the deal.
Hackman, a rookie right-handed reliever, was 1-2 with a 10.69 ERA in five games last year.
The Rockies also claimed right-hander Julian Tavares on waivers from the San Francisco Giants
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