Rob Neyer traces through how John Rocker's career went downhill. He pinpoints the trade to the Indians, rather than the controversial Sports Illustrated quotes, as the point where theings started to go downhill...
The answer, I think, is that he was lucky. And I think his luck just didn't hold after leaving the Braves. But he got unlucky in two ways. Not only did his luck not hold, but he went from being exceptionally lucky to being exceptionally unlucky. ... That said, if Rocker can still strike out 11 hitters per nine innings, he's probably worth a flyer. I'd like his chances a lot better if Leo Mazzone was again his pitching coach, though.
I tend to think it may have more to do with having Andruw Jones as the centerfielder than anything else. Quite simply, I think Andruw Jones is the most dominant defensive baseball player since Ozzie Smith.
It's kind of a joke to hear the Cardinals' announcers rave about what a great center fielder Jim Edmonds is. Edmonds is good, and makes a lot of spectacular plays, but he's not in the same class as Jones.