Mang Overboard

by on January 13, 2011 · 6 comments

“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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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{ 4 comments }

Craig F. January 14, 2011

I have been attempting to figure out all offseason if… if you can truly replace Albert Pujols.

I tried to find someone to compare him against historically at his age whom he might compare with as he ages. Now assuming he follows players more like Hank Aaron vs. Barry Bonds.. since I am of the opinion that Albert does not do steroids.. the only MLB player in history that I could even fathom he is similar to stats wise is.. well Albert Pujols. I think maybe Hank Aaron is about as close as you can get statistically to what Albert has done but I think he is even above Aaron. I am very nervous to make that comparison since Hank Aaron in my mind is one of the top three offensive players ever in Baseball.

Anyway.. if you use Hank Aaron’s model you see he did not fall off production wise until he hit 39 which I think might be reasonable for Albert.

So what does that mean contract wise? It means you have to pay the guy.. he is still to young to let him go to another team. If you let him go then St. Louis will never forgive the Cardinals. I don’t mean the Saberticians and anyone that is a blogger who attempts to look for the truth.. I mean the general public that buys the tickets so they can take their kids to the game.

When they see Albert helping out another team for a very long time.. I just can’t see how this ownership group would survive very long before people are asking for their heads.

Just my humble opinion.

Dennis January 14, 2011

Try either removing Aarons 1st season and just using 1955-64 in a comparison against Albert’s 1st 10 seasons, or adjust Aaron’s rookie year out to 150 games played from the 122 actually played to get a better comparison just to see how close the two are. Aaron’s first 10 aren’t too far behind Albert’s 1st 10, either way you do it.

I don’t even consider Albert’s standing in baseball history to be the issue here, though. The team has had difficulty filling holes on the roster while taking advantage of having AP signed at a very reasonable price. What makes you think they’ll be able to build a team around him while paying him significantly more than the $16M he’ll earn in 2011?

Also, it’s not a matter of “letting” him go. It’s free will. If it comes out that the Cardinals have made a 8 yr / $205M offer, and he turns it down, I don’t think the ownership will have to worry about a lot of negative publicity. The heart of the matter is really that most people I know want the best of both worlds. They want to see the Cardinals win, and they want to see those winning teams led by Albert. What if economics dictate that the two are mutually exclusive?

Craig F. January 14, 2011

I think if you look at a starting point for his negotiations will probably start with Ryan Howard’s contract as far as price but not length.

In that case the $205M equates to 25.4Mil per year. I think while that is a good starting point for negotiation it is a bit unrealistic. I am guessing that AP would probably settle for somewhere around 7/8 Years $27/28Mil per year deal. That would make sense to me. However.. I think if the Cardinals attempt to go closer to Ryan Howard’s contract.. which is simply a stupid contract IMHO btw… then I am not sure if the Cardinals are going to sign him.

We don’t know all the revenue sources the Cardinals have and I can’t say for sure what the top of their payroll could possibly be.. however.. they have to not throw dumb money at players like Berkman who have not produced at a sufficient level and hope to continue to compete. I am flying blind a bit on the Cardinals resources but I know enough to know that you can’t throw money at aging players unless you want to become the Pittsburgh Pirates eventually.

That is why I predict long term we will not see Don Tony managing this team since they cannot afford to run it the way he would like.

Dennis January 14, 2011

The Jayson Werth deal provides a good reference point in terms of length, because it pays Werth through his age 38 season. Pujols is about to play his age 31 season, so a 7 year deal would also take him through his age 38 season.

As for AAV, I don’t think it matters what others make. Lozano can use the Howard contract as a floor, and he may use the A-Rod contract as a target, but he can really just pick a number.

No, we don’t know what all their resources really are, but we do know what they report each year. That information will come out sometime in February, and I’ll be curious to see what they report for 2010. If you look at “Rich Team, Poor Team – Part I”, you’ll see what was reported for 2009.

With a 2011 payroll that’s not likely to break the $55M mark, I’m not sure the Pirates are throwing too much money at anybody (relatively speaking). As for the Berkman signing, I think their hands were/are tied until the Pujols situation is resolved.

As for TLR, he’s 66, so I’d say he’s not likely to be around as manager more than another year or two, anyway.

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