Does that “4/41” part sound familiar at all? Wait for it…..
Yep, that’s it. That’s Kyle Lohse’s contract – 4 yrs / $41M. It’s easy to second guess it, but was it really a bad idea at the time? After all, nobody could know that he would go on to pitch in only 41 games in all of 2009 and 2010 combined. It’s not like he went out and did something stupid and reckless like crash a motorcycle while riding without a helmet and try to cover up the incident. Who would do something that dumb?
At the time, it seemed like a smart move. Lohse had just finished a year in which he went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA with 119 strikeouts in 200 innings. He was only 29, so it seemed pretty reasonable to sign him through the prime years of his career. Did the Cardinals overpay? Well, let’s go to the comparables and see. Jason Marquis went 26-22 with an ERA over 4.00 in 2008 and 2009 combined, and he still managed to procure a contract for 2 yrs / $15M. Jeff Suppan went 12-7 with a 4.12 ERA in 2006, and he went on to sign a 4 yr / $40M deal with the Brewers. At the very least, it seems like the Cardinals paid market price for locking up Lohse.
While the last 2 years have certainly been frustrating for fans, I bet that they have been equally frustrating for Kyle Lohse. Even so, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. If Lohse can return to his 2008 form, it’s quite possible that the Cardinals can boast a starting rotation without a starter having an ERA above 4.00. If that happens, there’s a really good chance that the team will make it to postseason play, and playoff baseball tends to help fans forget about everything else that has happened. In the meantime, I’m just rooting for Mr. Lohse to stay off the disabled list, because it’s a lot more fun talking about him playing baseball than looking up information about “exertional compartment syndrome” on the Mayo Clinic’s website.
TIDBIT: Lohse threw just 117 2/3 innings in 2009 and 92 innings in 2010. I sincerely hope that the team is cautious with him in 2011, and that he’s on a short leash. If he shows even the slightest sign of early fatigue or has any velocity issues, I hope they make him the most expensive long/middle reliever in baseball. That would certainly be preferable to losing him for the balance of the season due to pushing him past the breaking point by throwing him out there every 5th start.
Like it? Want to know more about “exertional compartment syndrome”? Try here, because I can’t explain it in 140 characters or less on Twitter, although I recommend that you follow me on Twitter, anyway.