Hindsight is 4/41

by on January 21, 2011 · 11 comments

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 / $15MJeff 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.

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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PH8 January 21, 2011

It’s also important to note that prior to his ’09 and ’10 issues, Lohse had never faced significant injury. He had a clean bill of health, which I’m certain made the Cards more comfortable with the deal.

One pitch taken in the forearm, and things have certainly changed, eh?

Dennis January 21, 2011

That’s true about his injury history, and it’s probably equally important to note that he’s only topped 200 innings once (2003 – 201 innings). He made his starts with regularity, but he wasn’t exactly known for pitching deep into games. I think that the team was basically hoping for a good percentage of “quality starts” from someone they hoped had just figured things out. My hope is that he can come back this year and just be consistent. He doesn’t have to be a top 10 starter for the Cardinals to contend. Starting 33-34 games and winning 12-15 would be pretty darn good, though.

PH8 January 21, 2011

I would say that would qualify as “exceeding expectations” at this point.

Dennis January 21, 2011

Yeah, it really is. Realistically, a combined 25+ wins from Lohse and Westbrook would be huge, though. Waino, Carp, and Jaime combined for 49 wins last season. Pushing around 75-80 wins from the starters would be pretty sweet. I think the bullpen had something like 18 wins, so that gets them in the right neighborhood.

Andrew January 21, 2011

I, too, think Lohse can bounce back this year. The biggest thing I always wondered about when the deal went down was the NTC… I guess it turned out to be moot because they couldn’t have gotten much for him anyways. Boras has his ways, I guess.

PH8 January 21, 2011


Oh, sorry, was reading unreasonable Twitter posts again.

Dennis January 21, 2011

The FULL no trade clause that Boras managed to get for Lohse still just boggles my mind to this day.

Just say “No” to Michael Young. When Beltre was being discussed a few weeks ago, someone mentioned that Young’s contract calls for $16M/yr through 2013.

PH8 January 21, 2011

Sorry – let me rephrase.

[ thick sarcasm ] TRADE HIM FOR MICHAEL YOUNG! [ /thick sarcasm ]

Dennis January 21, 2011

Ah, much better. I didn’t recognize the “sarcasm” font at first.

Josh January 22, 2011

Figure it is time for me to chime in on starter numero five-o. Or is he the sixth in waiting. Maybe I should make that the first question to PJ next weekend…

Ok so maybe not but is it realistic at this point to wonder when Kyle is going to suddenly wake up and become non-injury prone? For a guy that went all those years without a trip to the DL, he sure knows how to pick some freaky illnesses!

Dennis January 22, 2011

I don’t know how realistic it is, Josh. Some guys are just injury prone no matter what they do. It’s not like he’s been repeatedly injured by some quirky mechanical flaw that he refused to correct with a change to his throwing motion.

Good point about the “sixth in waiting” part, though. I think that both the team and the fans have been really patient with him. If he struggles or gets injured, then I can envision that patience wearing thin quickly.

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