“I say and I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok.” ~Malcolm X (Malcolm X – a Spike Lee joint)
I couldn’t have said it better myself (probably because Denzel Washington has a way better speaking voice, and he’s well…Denzel). Someone has tried to pull the wool over your eyes, and it’s been a masterful effort. There are hundreds if not thousands of co-conspirators, and they aren’t even aware that they are part of a plan to deceive us. What are they trying to accomplish? What is the higher purpose of this deception?
The masterminds are trying to convince us that we cannot survive in the year 1 AP (After Pujols). It will be something beyond anything imagined in a Brave New World, and Aldous Huxley would be shocked and awed (or at least thrilled by our consumptive habits). There is no contingency plan, and all baseball must be rationed accordingly unless Albert is signed to a contract extension of ginormous proportions.
I suggest to you that there is in fact a secret plan not unlike the ones that the US Secret Service has in place in the event of an alien attack or ballistic missile launch. In the event that the Cardinals reach a point of no return, a plan may be set in motion by the utterance of a single codeword or phrase. I believe it to be “Mang Overboard”. Elegantly simple. It’s known to only a few members of the “upper cabinet” and their most trusted minions. Its use will set a chain of events in motion unlike any other Cardinal Nation has ever seen. The sequence of events is most likely stored in a folder which is hidden inside a vault, and that vault is buried deep under the green portable toilets near the City Garden and Kiener Plaza. What follows is purely conjecture (that means that I made it up).
IF Albert leaves after the 2011 season, the Cardinals need to replace approximately the equivalent of 123 rbi and 119 runs scored from the #3 spot in the order and a first baseman. Of course, that first baseman just happens to play Gold Glove-caliber defense and averages a line of .331/.426/.624/1.050 with 91 walks and just over 40 hr per year. We’re talking about an average of almost 8.4 WAR per season. It’s probably safe to assume that the team isn’t going to find that all in one place.
Then again, they don’t necessarily need to do one-stop shopping, either. After all, the Giants won the World Series last year, and their top player by WAR was Aubrey Huff (5.9). The team could take a group effort approach to replacing Albert, and they might even be able to do so without sending payroll skyward. How so?
- Move Allen Craig to 1st base. In limited duty, Craig hit .246/.298/.412/.711 with 4 hr and 18 rbi in 124 plate appearances, and he did most of his damage from the 5th spot in the lineup. If he hits 3rd and gets 600 plate appearance or more, I’m comfortable saying that he can at least convert that line into 20+ hr and 90+ rbi with a slight improvement in his batting line straight across the board. He won’t likely turn in an 8.4 WAR performance, but a respectable 3.0 wouldn’t be out of the question, either. Keep in mind that Allen Craig costs the team a little over $400k versus $25-30M for keeping AP.
- If the Brewers don’t sign Rickie Weeks to an extension, go after Weeks to play 2B. Weeks was good for .269/.355/.429/.784 with 29 hr and 83 rbi last year as a leadoff hitter. Compared to Skip Schumaker‘s 2010 WAR value of 0.4, Weeks’ 3.7 looks pretty stout. He’ll cost a lot, but he’ll only be 29 at the start of the 2012 season, and he could lock down that position for a while.
- Find a way to upgrade right field with a premier rightfielder. If Shin-Soo Choo can somehow be pried away from the Indians, then do it. His line in 2010 was .300/.401/.484/.885 with 22 hr and 90 rbi, and his total WAR was 7.3.
How would the Cardinals afford Weeks and Choo, even if they can manage to sign/obtain these guys? Well, consider what the payroll could look like in 2012.
- Start with a baseline of $110M which is the approximate 2011 opening day payroll
- Don’t bring back Lance Berkman – save $8M
- Pick up Chris Carpenter‘s option – Carp makes the same $15M in 2012 as in 2011
- Extend Albert for $30M/yr – Adds $14M over AP’s $16M/yr in 2011
- Added costs for arbitration-eligible players (Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia, Kyle McClellan, & Jason Motte) – just guessing $10M (minimum)
- Increase in Adam Wainwright‘s salary – $2.5M
- Increase in Yadier Molina‘s salary – $1.75M
- Bring back everybody else or players of similar costs plus roster replacement for Berkman – $4M (guesstimate)
- TOTAL COST: $134,250,000
Is it possible the team set aside money for a rainy day? Does an AP extension preclude the team picking up Carp’s option? Do some of the aforementioned financial realities dictate that the team’s proposal to Albert include a modest raise in the 1st year followed by accelerated raises after 2012?
I can’t answer those questions (or any others). I’m just the conspiracy theorist. I can tell you that I want Albert signed to an extension, and I’d like to see legitimate upgrades made in RF, and at 2B, and maybe even SS. Those upgrades come at a price, but they can be had and will be explained at a later time. For now, just think about life in the year 1 AP. What would Mr. Huxley think of all this?
TIDBITS: If I had to choose between a Carpenter extension in 2012 and keeping Albert, I’d vote for keeping Albert. That brings the payroll projection down closer to $120M, although I’m all for bringing back Carp at a reduced rate, if he’s still effective.
Like it? Wish you had read Brave New World instead of blowing it off in favor of that Ultimate Frisbee Tournament in college? Find gr33nazn on Twitter, and we’ll discuss our roles as rampant consumers together!