Have the Cards really missed on any free agents?

by on January 8, 2009 · 21 comments

Today brought us some great posts across the Cardinal blogosphere, not so indirectly focused toward an article that appeared yesterday in the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

I don’t have a lot to add to what Pip and C70 have already said regarding the venom being spewed toward Cardinal management, nor about the media’s involvement in provoking and/or further exacerbating the fans’ perception of reality for this ballclub.

What I *would* like to do, is take a different approach to this story.  Who should the Cardinals have signed?

There is clamor and calamity among Cardinal fans everywhere that the front office isn’t doing enough to improve the team, the ownership is bilking the fans, and Bill DeWitt eats kittens.  Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the point.

To my point, below is a list of free agents that have already signed during this off-season.  I realize it is somewhat incomplete, as there are players not on this list who have agreed to deals but have yet to officially finalize their contracts.  Many thanks (again) to ESPN.com for the knowledge from their free agent tracker.

The list:

Player Status Old Team New Team Years Dollars
Mark Teixeira, 1B Signed (A) LA Angels NY Yankees 8 $180,000,000
CC Sabathia, SP Signed (A) Milwaukee NY Yankees 7 $161,000,000
A.J. Burnett, SP Signed (A) Toronto NY Yankees 5 $82,500,000
Ryan Dempster, SP Signed Chi Cubs Chi Cubs 4 $52,000,000
Francisco Rodriguez, RP Signed (A) LA Angels NY Mets 3 $37,000,000
Raul Ibanez, LF Signed (A) Seattle Philadelphia 3 $31,500,000
Milton Bradley, DH Signed (B) Texas Chi Cubs 3 $30,000,000
Rafael Furcal, SS Signed LA Dodgers LA Dodgers 3 $30,000,000
Kerry Wood, RP Signed Chi Cubs Cleveland 2 $20,500,000
Edgar Renteria, SS Signed Detroit San Francisco 2 $18,500,000
Casey Blake, 3B Signed LA Dodgers LA Dodgers 3 $17,500,000
Brian Fuentes, RP Signed (A) Colorado LA Angels 2 $17,500,000
Pat Burrell, LF Signed Philadelphia Tampa Bay 2 $16,000,000
Jamie Moyer, SP Signed Philadelphia Philadelphia 2 $13,000,000
Juan Rivera, RF Signed LA Angels LA Angels 3 $12,750,000
Damaso Marte, RP Signed NY Yankees NY Yankees 3 $12,000,000
Kyle Farnsworth, RP Signed Detroit Kansas City 2 $9,250,000
Nick Punto, SS Signed Minnesota Minnesota 2 $8,500,000
Jeremy Affeldt, RP Signed (B) Cincinnati San Francisco 2 $8,000,000
Randy Johnson, SP Signed Arizona San Francisco 1 $8,000,000
Willy Taveras, CF Signed Colorado Cincinnati 2 $6,250,000
Jason Giambi, 1B Signed NY Yankees Oakland 1 $5,250,000
Cesar Izturis, SS Signed St. Louis Baltimore 2 $5,000,000
Aaron Miles, 2B Signed St. Louis Chi Cubs 2 $4,900,000
Arthur Rhodes, RP Signed Florida Cincinnati 2 $4,000,000
Felipe Lopez, SS Signed St. Louis Arizona 1 $3,500,000

We can safely write off the first four players on the list.  The Cards weren’t going to spend upwards of $15mm per year on any player, and Ryan Dempster wasn’t going anywhere (he resigned with the Cubs with little doubt).

We can write off the outfielders on the list, based upon the Cardinals’ relative glut of capable players there, most of them cost-controlled, an additional bonus.  (Not to mention the joy I derive from seeing a player the Cubs plan to employ in their outfield every day, Milton Bradley listed as a DH.)

Interest in shortstops was nullified by the acquisition of Khalil Greene, which was at a minimal cost (as far as we know now – that PTBNL still looms).  The Cards kicked the tires on Rafael Furcal and Edgar Renteria, but the cost again was probably prohibitive, especially on Renteria (enjoy that one, Giants!).  ESPN has Felipe Lopez listed at SS, which is probably misleading, I would’ve liked to see him re-signed to play 2B for the Cardinals, but alas, Boras is Boras.

Eliminate 3B Casey BlakeTroy Glaus is entrenched there for 2009, and the Cards have promising prospects behind him in David Freese and Tyler Greene.

Additionally, in terms of guys we can eliminate from Cardinal consideration, I submit Jason Giambi.  There is just no way the Cards could use the guy.  Agreed?  Good.

Now, explanation of my thought process here – CBS Sportsline lists the 2008 MLB average salary as $3,154,845.  For the sake of this little project, assume that number won’t change.  I’ve cut my list off at players who were signed for more than the league minimum, with a few exceptions (I kept the three former Cardinals: Aaron Miles, Cesar Izturis, and Felipe Lopez on the list – as well as reliever Arthur Rhodes, a lefty who fit the Cards’ needs well).

Why cut it there?  “Low hanging fruit,” my friend.  If we’re trying to appease the masses here, I think it safe to assume the masses wouldn’t be interested in competing to ink the Carl Pavano’s and Russell Branyan’s of the league.

That being said, there is some “low hanging fruit” of note:  SP Daniel Cabrera, RP Alan Embree, RP Joe Nelson.  I would’ve been intrigued enough by any of these three to welcome a flyer by the Cards, but they all went elsewhere.  Oh well.

Finally, I’ll eliminate the two players left who signed with their previous teams.  Jamie Moyer and Damaso Marte likely weren’t headed anywhere else but re-upping with the Phillies and Yankees.

Now then – back to the players we have left.  There are eight.  Only eight.  Sure, I’ve probably been a bit liberal in my criteria for cutting the list down, but I feel all the cuts made are legit, and at worse defensible.

Francisco Rodriguez – Rumors had the Cardinals in on him late in the game, once they realized he wasn’t going to command near the price he was hoping for in September.  Rodriguez marked the likely beginning of the down market, while at the same time probably making a shrewd move in taking the largest deal he could get early on, before the market turned even worse.  Rodriguez likely wasn’t going to settle for less than a three-year contract, which didn’t necessarily fit the Cardinals’ plans, yet they surely would’ve made an exception for the single-season saves record holder.  Questions abound about whether KRod’s arm will be able to hold up after several seasons of abuse.  It also deserves mentioning that signing Rodriguez would’ve cost the Cardinals a first-round pick as compensation, something the organization is not keen to lose, as they strive to make the organization self-sufficient.

Kerry Wood – Certainly a name to knock around, as the Cards were/are looking for a closer solution.  Wood’s injury history had to be a big factor in how the Cardinals evaluated Wood as a potential signing.  Injury risk has burned the Cardinals in past deals and has clearly been a concern during this off-season as players are evaluated.  Chances are good the Cards were never realistically considering a Wood signing.

Brian Fuentes – For most Cardinal fans, or moreso front-office and ownership bashers, this is the big fish that got away.  Fuentes was the answer to every Cardinal problem.  Fuentes could probably play a mean second base and throw a complete game if necessary, depending on which Cardinal fan you ask.  In reality, Fuentes was never too interested in straying far from the West Coast.  Reports have the Cardinals increasing their offer to Fuentes to include more cash than he eventually signed for, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  Being one that has stumped for a Chris Perez and Jason Motte tandem to close out games in 2009, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed, but it’s hard to deny what Fuentes could’ve brought to the team’s most glaring weak spot from 2008 – the bullpen.  Again, worth noting that Fuentes was a Type-A free agent, requiring the forfeiture of a first-round draft pick for signing him.

Kyle Farnsworth – I hope it’s ok with the readers if I just don’t give this one much thought.  There is a reason why Kansas City can’t seem to figure out the small market game, and Farnsworth embodies that.

Jeremy Affeldt – Affeldt has had two quite successful seasons as a reliever, in 2007 and 2008, and was a name much bandied about by Cardinal loyalists coming into this off-season.  Affeldt likely flew under the radar of the Cardinals, signing early while most focus was still on the big names and taking care of the role players that needed to be resigned within the organization.

Randy Johnson – Still a name that intrigues me, but one who still commands a premium price, despite his advancing age.  Johnson is likely to earn victory number 300 this season, which will be a great story unto itself, but what can he realistically offer a team that hopes to contend?  Johnson still threw 184 innings last season, he still had an ERA under 4, he is still better than Joel Pineiro.  This is where I think back to a bit I read that indicated Mozeliak was more interested in cost-controlled pitching than investing more money in his rotation.  After all, they have a ton of money locked up in Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Adam Wainwright, and Pineiro.  Something to the tune of $30mm-$35mm if I recall off the top of my head.  Problem with that thinking is Pineiro is seriously overpaid and cost-controlled pitching has become the holy grail in MLB.  It might cost the Cards two of their outfielders for one decent cost-controlled starting pitcher, where everyone expects Mo to magically pull off a Skip Schumaker for Tim Lincecum deal.  Note to the Cardinal front-office haters: MLB GMs value the Cards’ outfielders about 1/6 as much as you do.  Adjust accordingly.

Aaron Miles – This one has really been beaten to death since his signing with the Chicago Cubs.  I will refer you to Matthew Leach.

Arthur Rhodes – The Cards were certainly involved here as well, with an offer that was redacted when the Trever Miller signing finally went through.  The Cards have seemingly taken a “throw ’em at the wall and see who sticks” approach to their LOOGy’s this season, and perhaps with good reason.  In my view, nothing points to Rhodes being glaringly more worthwhile than Miller (short of injury concern), yet Rhodes is getting $4mm guaranteed.  The Cardinals played their hand correctly with Miller on this one, in my opinion.


So who then, should the Cards have locked up?  Who was the no-doubter?  Hindsight always being 20-20, perhaps Rodriguez was a great value.  I don’t think Fuentes ever really believed he would wind up in St Louis.  Wood has a history as damaged goods.  I could go on.

What shouldn’t be lost in this discussion is that of the 25 players that qualified for this discussion, 17 of them signed with large-market teams.  Yankees, Cubs, Mets, Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, Angels.  The majority of the money has been spent by teams that can get away with virtually anything in a bad economy.  The Yankees have committed per season money to four players that would’ve been the 24th highest payroll in the league last season (there are 30 teams, for those keeping score).

I don’t count myself a front-office/ownership apologist, and I don’t want to be pegged as such.  But I am an optimist, and more than that, a realist.

Who should the Cardinals have signed out of the list above?

I ask only because there are still plenty of unsigned free agents on the market, most of which will be going hungry if they made their 2009 family budget in August or September of 2008.

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Cardinal70 January 8, 2009

Great, great work there. That really puts this offseason into perspective. Besides, wouldn’t Lohse’s contract be about fifth on that list?

PHE January 8, 2009

Yep, fifth, right behind Dumpster.

Nevermind that I still think Lohse’s deal might wind up being an albatross, having been signed prior to the market dump.

BrewCards January 9, 2009

Great post! You could make a case for Rodriguez, but at some point you have to see what you have in Chris Perez or Jason Motte. I wasn’t big on a multi-year deal on a closer. But if you did it would have had to have been on K-Rod.

I’ve said all along the team needs a starter. So while I would have loved to get Sabathia, there is no way we could afford both he and Pujols. So on the list that leaves Randy Johnson. I’m not so sure I would go higher or evan as high than the Giants did on a 45 year old.

PHE January 9, 2009

Right on about the closer situation – and I think the Cards weren’t interested in going over two years. They seem to eventually want Perez and/or Motte to take the job, just not right now. They may not have a choice at this point.

I agree about needing another starter – I just don’t know if, or how much, they’re willing to spend to get one. Ideal scenario would net a cheap pitcher in trade for one of the outfielders, someone we could cost-control for a couple of seasons.

Sarah-bug January 9, 2009

You’re so right. The guys that I would have liked to sign (ie, Burnett) were just too pricey and too risky. I guess it all comes down to the fact that we outsiders don’t really have enough information to make those decisions. It’s only after we find out what they were asking that we can say ‘yeah, he’d be worth it’ or not. (And of course, no one can predict who’ll get injured or who’ll surprise everyone.)

Penny might still turn out to have been a miss, and I wouldn’t have complained if we’d signed Hoffman, but chances are we can work around both of those pretty easily.

I heard that the Orioles may be looking for an outfielder… is there anywhere else we might find a willing trade partner?

PHE January 9, 2009

Yep, everyone’s a great GM when they’re sitting at home on their couch. I’d love to be involved, just for a day, in the *actual* goings-on inside an MLB front office.

I would put Penny in the “wouldn’t touch him because of injury risk” boat for the Cardinals. They’ve been burned so badly with that in recent years, I just don’t think they had the stomach for it anymore. I mean, look at the hoops they made Trever Miller jump through once they found out more about his shoulder.

Not sure about other trade partners, maybe the Rays still, maybe the Braves still?

The Orioles interest me a bit – Brian Roberts? Jeremy Guthrie?

StLCards January 12, 2009

Who ‘should’ they have signed?

This is not easily answered since it excludes trades. To me, the first ‘miss’ on Mo’s part was not being able to trade for Holliday. We could argue all day long about who would or could have been involved in a deal, but when you look at the deal that was completed by Oakland, certainly the Cardinals should have been able to match that. The Cardinals were definitely in pursuit of Holliday and failed to land him.

Then comes Fuentes. Sure Fuentes wanted to stay on the West Coast and play for the Angels. Translation, give me a 3 year contract and I’ll come play for you. TLR identified Fuentes as the ‘top priority’ and Mo failed to sign him. TLR also said they would look outside the organization for a closer, but now Mo is content to go with Perez and or Motte.

Then we can look at the rush job to resign Lohse. Here is a guy that had zero takers last year and has 1 good year pitching for the Cardinals. The Cardinals won’t go more than 2 years on a closer yet go 4 years $41M on Lohse, even though they only wanted to go 3 years. The rush signing likely backfired as Lohse likely would have signed a 3 year deal now as the Cardinals would have been able to shop more aggressively amongst the free agent pitchers available. Lohse hadn’t had a winning season since 2003 and isn’t exactly a ‘proven’ pitcher. Without Lohse, Peavy might even have been more viable via trade.

Another ‘miss’ in my mind is a non-move, that being Kennedy. They guy wants out, they should have accomodated him even if they had to take a loss on the deal. Better than having discontent in the clubhouse. With AK on the roster then that means he is the ‘starter’, so no way do you sign Orlando Hudson or trade for a 2B. Sure they could decide to trade Kennedy later, but there is no indication they are willing to lose any money on him.

Next we look at the Carpenter situation. At the end of last season Carpenter was very much in doubt. Needed surgery, might not ever pitch again, opted to rehab instead, everyone said the same thing, no way can you count on Carpenter to start the season in the rotation. So the interview I heard yesterday with Mo, of course he said that Carpenter is the 5th starter right now, but if they need to, they can sign a pitcher later on, especially since the free agent market is moving so slow.

I also heard Mo say the same thing TLR said last year, we will surprise people with our team especially with TLR at manager.

So let’s review. We don’t sign an ‘imapct bat’ that TLR identified, we don’t sign a closer that TLR identified as #1 priority, we still don’t have a lead off batter other than Rasmus, who bats about .250 in the minors and TLR questions whether he is even big league ready. So Mo isn’t giving TLR the tools that he asks for, but yet he is once again expected to ‘surprise’ people.

That is all well and good, but surprising people earned a 4th place central division finish last year. I really haven’t seen the improvement over last year, so it is hard to expect much better.

As far as Penny goes, he would have been a nice 1 year signing. I don’t mind high risk – high reward signings as long as they don’t have long term negative potential. Who has more bust potential, a 4 year Lohse deal or a 1 year Penny deal?

Cetainly Lohse could turn out to be a great long term signing, and if he pitches well again in 2009 then his contract will look great. You have to assume that Duncan has given his seal of approval so hopefully his signing makes Mo look great. Even still it is the same team as last year. Will the added year of experience mean more wins? I certainly hope so.

PHE January 12, 2009

You’re right, Holliday isn’t really part of the discussion. The point being made is regarding the uproar among Cardinal fans about not signing any free agents.

The Cards have Perez and Motte both slotted as closers in development. They simply were not willing to give Fuentes a third year (and it may not have mattered anyway, since he got a third year of sorts with the option from the Angels). This is part of the problem – everyone wants big dollars spent on Fuentes right now, but then will complain in 2011 when he’s earning $14mm and that money can’t be spent on a renegotiation with Pujols.

Lohse was signed at a time when the Cards could not have predicted this market. If you recall, KRod was still after $50mm when Lohse was signed. Can’t have your cake and eat it too – if the market hadn’t bottomed out and Lohse hadn’t been signed, folks would want Mo’s head. It’s a gamble for certain, and I don’t agree with the no-trade clause, but they had a guy who they believe is worth that contract, so they made it happen.

I don’t really have much to say about Kennedy – again, kind of out of the topic of discussion here – but there just wasn’t any interest. It was either cut him, or give him a shot. He performed about to his career numbers last year, so if they think they can live with that (and he and Tony can play nice), maybe it’ll work out.

I really believe that with the holes yet to fill, the Cards just don’t have any room for a risk/reward type of signing like Penny. Especially at $5mm guaranteed.

I’d argue with you until I was blue in the face that this is far from the same team as last year, but methinks we’d wind up agreeing to disagree. 🙂

StLCards January 12, 2009

Please convince me it isn’t the same team. I see Pujols at first, Kennedy at 2B, Greene at SS (ok, so he’s different), Glaus at 3B, Molina at C, Ludwick, Ankiel, Schumaker, Duncan in the OF, and of course Rasmus, if he can stick. The subtractions are Lopez, Miles, Izturis. Tony considers Duncan to be an OF, so barring a trade it is hard to imagine Rasmus playing everyday. He is the one player that could change the dynamics, but is he ready?

In the rotation we have Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer, Piniero, Carpenter. What’s different about that?

For closer we have Perez and Motte. We’ve added Royce Ring and Trevor Miller. Is that the making of an improved bullpen? Can you say to yourself, wow, if only the starter can go 5 innings it’s a slam dunk with our great bullpen?

So the big difference is what, Rasmus and Greene? Are opposing pitchers going to be worried when they come to bat? Is there protection for Pujols? Do we have a lead off batter? Team speed? Contact hitters? Or do we have a bunch of guys prone to K’s and extended slumps? I’m thinking the latter.

I’d definitely like to hear your take on it 🙂

My previous post wasn’t necessarily my opinion either, I was trying to view it based on what TLR has said he wants and what has actually been done.

Impact bat = Holliday. Closer = Fuentes ( I wouldn’t have wanted him). Now he wants a starting pitcher (thus my comments about Carpenter and the wait and see approach). I did leave the door open for the Lohse signing to turn out to be great. I had honestly forgotten about the no trade clause for Lohse, but I really don’t like that at all.

I’m still optimistic that the Cardinals will do good as they will ride the coat tails of Pujols. Pitching should be good enough.

As far as ‘holes yet to fill’ what are you thinking there? A backup C and a utility guy are certainly needed. Don’t think we’re getting anything else until the season starts unless Carpenter shows he isn’t ready. I do think they will sign Izzy, so I guess that would be one hole filled 😉

PHE January 13, 2009

Greene and Rasmus, yes. Duncan can be an impact hitter if healthy, but I’m not counting on that at all.

Big difference in the rotation *could be* a healthy Carp and Waino all season. Obviously, I’m not holding my breath – but I’ve also made known I’d like to see another starter signed.

Bullpen has seen addition by subtraction. Bye bye Izzy, bye bye Flores, bye bye Villone (who would’ve been fine if TLR had used him appropriately. Don’t forget we’re getting Kinney back, also have Manning and Ostlund from the LHP side, and possible Tyler Johnson as well.

Greene is a massive upgrade on Izturis offensively, even if you don’t take into account depressed numbers at Petco. Schumaker seemed to work out alright as a leadoff hitter next season, and Tony doesn’t seem to be shying away from using Rasmus there either.

The Cardinals led the league in batting average at .281 last season – I’d say they have some contact hitters (league average was .260).

Cards scored 779 runs last season, good for fourth in the NL, behind the Cubs, Mets, and Phillies.

They also struck out the least times of any team in the NL, only 985.

So there are some arguments there that aren’t holding water…

As for holes – I’d still love to see an upgrade at 2B, but relatively resigned to the fact that Kennedy will likely be the guy. Starting pitching is first and foremost. They resigned LaRue to be Yadi’s backup, he’s fine in that role.

In a perfect world, we’d see a 2B upgrade, another proven bullpen arm (either RHP or LHP), and a starting pitcher. Assuming they don’t have the remaining capital for that, I hope they shoot the entire wad at a starting pitcher like Sheets or Lowe.

We have to keep in mind though that Mo can be very quiet about moves he’s making – we can still hold out hope there is an Ankiel for Matt Cain type of trade in the works. 😉

StLCards January 13, 2009

I don’t think my numbers are so skewed, it just depends on how you look at them. The hardest guy to strike out in baseball last year was Molina. Pujols is about impossible to strike out. That is going to inflate those numbers obviously. Now let’s look at Ankiel(100/413; 24%), Ludwick (146/538; 27%), Glaus (104/544; 19% but also much better than typical), and Greene (100/389; 26%). Those are 4 key guys in the lineup.

Izturis and Miles were a combined 63k’s in 793ab’s or 9%, but we don’t have either of those anymore. Kennedy didn’t strike out much, Kennedy only struck out 13% so maybe he’ll actually be better than I was thinking. The real key to the low K’s though was Pujols and Molina. I’ll also guess that our pitchers struck out the fewest of other teams as well, so that could be a factor. Schumaker was very solid.

Basically Pujols, Schumaker, Molina and even Kennedy are very good at putting the ball in play. But that still leaves 4 guys striking out at an alarming rate, and my contention is that leaves them vulnerable to slumps and rally killing.

Out of all this I’m thinking that having a couple of power hitters that K a lot is fine, just don’t have too many. Therefore, I would trade Ankiel for a speedster that puts the ball in play. Ideally I would actually not have signed Greene and gone with Furcal or Orlando Cabrerra. I don’t see Greene as a difference maker, but more like a Kennedy. He’ll have stretches where he is good, but I have followed him having him on fantasy teams, and he is very inconsistent.

Last year the Cardinals were near the bottom in stolen base % and I’d like to see that improve. Speed/contact would give Tony more options for hit and run too. I would gladly have taken a Willy Taveras. Struck out at 16% but also had 68 SBs. Would not be my first choice, but someone I remember as available off the top of my head.

If Rasmus comes in and becomes what we hope he is and Ludwick continues off of last year, and Schumaker is an everyday player leading off, then the Cardinals could be pretty good. I honestly hadn’t realized they were so good in those categories, although with power hitters you expect runs scored to be high and I still think the k’s won’t be too good this year for the Cards.

Just too bad we can’t have Holliday to protect Pujols, Furcal to lead off, and Lowe or even Sheets in the rotation. To me that would be a championship looking team. This team can certainly win, but I really don’t see sustainability unless many things fit together just right. Biggest weakness is still the starting pitching unless Carpenter miraculously returns to form for the whole year and Wellemeyer/Piniero can hold their own as 4th and 5th starters, and Perez/Motte are better than TLR is expecting.

PHE January 13, 2009

You make a decent point about where the Ks are coming from – but the fact remains that every team apparently has that same issue, or worse, they are getting strikeouts through their whole order. If the Cards are 50 Ks less than the next team, they’re still making less outs without the ball in play.

All of your wishes for players are fine and good, but it’s interesting you bring up fantasy baseball, because I feel like that’s where your head is at. 🙂

2009 salaries:

Holliday – $13.5m
Furcal – $6.5m
Lowe – $12m (minimum, since he’s already turned that down)
Sheets – $10m (?)

That’s a total of $42m guaranteed, committed dollars for 2009. Where is that money coming from? Even if you take out Greene’s $6.5m for argument’s sake, you’re still looking at $35.5m. Whether you like it or not, or argue that they should be spending more, the Cards just aren’t going to add that much salary.

Willy Taveres? Sure, he’s fast, but he’s no leadoff hitter. A .308 OBP? Blech. I’d rather Skipper. Plus, where does he fit? Who does he bump out of the already over-crowded Cardinal outfield? I’m not putting him in for Ank or Luddy, that’s for sure – and Schumaker is a better leadoff option, in my opinion, because of his OBP. Where would he even fit?

PHE January 13, 2009

Lowe to the Braves for 4/$60m. There is no way the Cards were going to even sniff that level.

StLCards January 13, 2009

It’s not my money, but then again I’m not a billionaire, nor am I the one that ‘sold’ the need for a new stadium by saying the Cardinals couldn’t compete without the luxury boxes. Ticket prices went sky high with the new stadium, yet the increased spending failed to materialize. We were promised a bill of goods that we never received. Once the Cardinals won the Series without spending the promised money, there became no need to do so. They can easily sell out the stadium with what they have.

If you think the Cardinals haven’t made out like bandits from the new stadium or are otherwise hurting, then read this article published in the ST. Louis Journalism Review.


This article discusses what the Cardinal ownership is worth


Sure, the economy has turned south for now, but they haven’t exactly shelled out money since the new stadium either.

According to this site,
the Cardinals opening day payroll for 2005 was $93,319,842 (6th overall). In 2006 they suddenly dropped to $88,891,371 (11th overall). In 2007 they go to $90,286,823 (still 11th). In 2008 they are at $99,624,449 (again 11th). So from 2006 they are up almost $11M and still rank the same 11th overall, however, if you compare it to 2005, they are only up $6M. That is just over 6% in 3 years which doesn’t even cover inflation.


I’ve looked at other numbers and they are similar

Obviously these numbers are estimates and there is nothing wrong with being financially responsible, just don’t sell me a stadium on the premise that you want to increase payroll and then not do it. I for one was very happy with the ‘old’ Busch stadium.

Obviously the new owners are raking in huge profits so congrats to them.

PHE January 13, 2009


Despite the claims in the first article that the city is getting killed on the deal, the new stadium was largely privately financed up front, so I’m sure they’re still paying on their notes as well.

I don’t know that any of us will ever fully comprehend what they are or aren’t “raking in”.

What I *do* know is that the Cards said they’re willing to go up to around $110m (unless they’ve reneged on that number now). Given their current payroll situation, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room.

StLCards January 13, 2009

I’m going to look at the teams in the Central division since 2005 using the USA today tool. I have no idea what the outcome is going to be, but I will compare % change from 2005-2008.

Cubs 87,032,933 118,345,833 31,312,900 26.46%
Cardinals 92,106,833 99,624,449 7,517,616 7.55%
Brewers 39,934,833 80,937,499 41,002,666 50.66%
Reds 61,892,583 74,117,695 12,225,112 16.49%
Pirates 38,133,000 48,689,783 10,556,783 21.68%
Astros 76,779,000 88,930,414 12,151,414 13.66%

OK, what does this show? First off it shows why the Pirates consistently lose and why the Brewers started winning. The Brewers have the highest % change in salary by far. It also shows that the Cubs and Cardinals spend the most.

The other point however is that it shows that since 2005 the Cardinals have the lowest % payroll increase in the division.

Sorry to get so far off topic, but I really wasn’t expecting to find that. Subtract Carpenter’s salary off of there if he can’t go and then our ‘effective’ salary drops quite a bit. Once again this year Carp is going to be a huge part of the team, so I just hope he can pitch.

PHE January 13, 2009

The Brewers have that big change, but they’re in for a big fall this coming season if they don’t find a way to replace Sabathia and Sheets (and I suspect they won’t). They were all in last season.

I’d argue that percentage increase means very little when those large percentage increases still put teams 20%-25% below the Cardinals in payroll (like the Reds and Brewers).

Now, why were the Brewers able to increase payroll so much? Because they have young stars, cost-controlled players who are having a large impact on their performance. This is where the Cardinals are trying to head, and I believe rightfully so.

Besides, look what all that spending has gotten the Cubs. 🙂

StLCards January 13, 2009

“That’s a total of $42m guaranteed, committed dollars for 2009. Where is that money coming from?”

All I said was give me two of those guys, a batter and a pitcher. Furcal = Greene, so then give me Sheets at $10M.

and I believe my point was that Lohse maybe wasn’t the best signing. Lowe at 4 years for $60M is steep with Wainwright and Carp locked up long term already, but I wonder if Lowe got a full no trade clause?

Even still, I would have even taken Furcal or Holliday without an additional pitcher as to me both could be season changers and add a whole new dynamic to the club.

Certainly easy to speculate what may or may not happen, but what else is there to do until April 🙂

PHE January 13, 2009

Hey, I’ll climb on board the Sheets @ $10m train with you. So long as they can get it done for only 2 years. 😉

Again, Lohse will be debatable until his 4 years are up – there was no predicting the market downturn at that point. The no-trade is the big flub on that one, in my book.

Just wait for Ludwick to top his ’08 this coming season, and Holliday will be a long-gone memory. 😉

StLCards January 13, 2009

I’m fine with the Lohse signing, the terms could have been better but I think he’ll be fine. Piniero is another story, but that’s another story 😉

I’m all for seeing Ludwick excel in 2009 and see no reason why he won’t as long as he stays healthy.

I guess Ankiel and Greene are my biggest concerns. Probably makes sense to move Ankiel IF you could get the right piece, but there isn’t a clear direction right now as to what that piece is anyway. If Rasmus isn’t ready, then the missing piece would be in CF. If Rasmus does pan out, then later in the year as needs of all the teams becomes more clear, then maybe a nice trade partner can be found. Only problem might be that only teams in contention would consider Ankiel at that point, whereas you might find a rebuilding trading partner now that wants to renogiate his contract to begin the season. OK, that probably isn’t likely, so I think we’ll have Rick for the season. I certainly don’t like having 5 outfielders, not to mention Stavinhoa and others waiting as well.

I do like Greene and hope he does well here. He just doesn’t fit what I see as the biggest needs are for a Cardinal SS. He is also just a one year deal if I remember, so we still don’t have a long term answer. He’s likely to want a bigger contract so you might as well have just signed a Furcal or Cabrerra to start with.

I’ll be rooting for him all the same 🙂

PHE January 13, 2009

Agreed, Pineiro’s looking like a noose for ’09. I reckon he could always find the ‘magical free agent year’ but I doubt it. Imagine what they could’ve done with $7.5m in this market!

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