1 Card Pickup

by on February 24, 2011 · 20 comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the news about Adam Wainwright.  You’ve probably also heard that Adam’s contract includes a few interesting tidbits that weren’t really talked about a lot until recently.

  • His 2012 and 2013 options are guaranteed with a top 5 finish in either the 2010 or 2011 Cy Young vote.  He met this condition November 16th, 2010.  Check.
  • The team must exercise the 2012 and 2013 options simultaneously.  Suhweet! 
  • The “guaranteed options” go out the window, if he finishes 2011 on the  disabled list.  Oh no, Yogi!

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s $9M for 2012 and $12M for 2013 for the guy who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past 2 seasons. 

Would the Cardinals really consider declining the option on Waino in hopes of negotiating a lower base salary?  Of course they would.  I wouldn’t put anything past them at this point.  I just don’t think it’s wise to risk Waino packing up his toys and leaving the Stl. sandbox. 

Do I have a different suggestion?  You bet.  Pick up the options.  Right the heck now.  It’s a classy move, and it’s a vote of confidence.  It also sends a message to “The Franchise” (Albert Pujols) that your management team is big on loyalty.  Is it a big risk to gamble $21M on Waino’s return?  Maybe.  If the Cardinals don’t do it, then somebody will, though.  Over 70% of elite pitchers who have Tommy John surgery return to 100% after a full recovery and rehabilitation, and the Cardinals know this better than anyone.     

Also, keep in mind that Adam has been just as big a bargain over the past few years as Pujols.  The Cardinals paid out $2,787,500 in 2009 and $4,837,500 in 2010 for a top 3 Cy Young candidate.  Heck, the closer on the 2006 World Series championship team was a rookie who made $327,000.  Talk about a bargain.   

So, I’m curious to see how the team handles this one.  Waino is just 29, and there is no way he should be wearing anything but the Birds on the Bat after 2011.  Let’s get this done.  I challenge the Cardinals to game.  I call it “1 Card Pickup”.  It’s their move.

TIDBIT:  I may be wrong about Adam being just as big a bargain as Pujols.  He may have been a bigger bargain.  Consider Waino’s 6.0 and 5.7 WAR in 2009 and 2010 respectively.  Albert compiled a 9.2 and 7.2 WAR for the same years, but he was paid over $29M during the same period. 

MORE BITS OF TID:  While the team is at it, why not give Adam a long-term deal that is contingent on his health?  Avoid a repeat of #Albertageddon?  Yes, please.

Like it?  Enjoy a good game of “52 Card Pickup”?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and we’ll play the at-home version of “1 Card Pickup”!

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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Rich February 24, 2011

Good post. I agree on all fronts. Between coming back from TJ and from the standpoint of Pujols.

Ann February 24, 2011

With the way they LITERALLY just watched Carp come back from TJ surgery (as an older player), and knowing Waino’s work ethic, I see NO reason whatsoever that picking up his options would be in the clubs worst interests. Because by those two years? He should be back. And playing just as well as he is now.

PH8 February 24, 2011

“Pick up the options. Right the heck now. It’s a classy move, and it’s a vote of confidence.”

Dennis, you’re apparently still reeling from the news… It’s classy, maybe. It’s also foolhardy.

IMO, in this situation, loyalty is one thing – leaving your organization hamstrung because of a nine and twelve million dollar cheerleader you could’ve avoided is another.

Wainer may well come back strong as ever, and I expect that – but he may not. They are still in the exploratory phase right now.

To me, this predicament screams renegotiation, especially once they have all of the facts. They don’t even have to decline the options. Tear up the current deal, sign a new one with a cheaper 2012 and an option for 2013. If he comes back strong in 2012, you renegotiate again and avoid the 2013 option altogether. They were headed that way already anyhow. The question will be how big of a gamble does Wainwright want to take that he will be his 12-to-6 self as early as spring next season?

Once all the facts are known, and rehab has begun (remember, they’ve got all of 2011 to evaluate) – then the club has a difficult decision to make. I’m just not sure it’s as much a slam dunk that they pick up the options as you do. At least not without some concessions on Adam’s part.

PH8 February 24, 2011

…and apparently I’m the only dissenter. 🙂

Josh February 24, 2011

Talked about this very thing at the end of the Radio Hour. Now that it is official, the team can take care of Adam the right way. Tell him St. Louis will cover all the rehab, and the new contract can be worked out as soon as Wainer feels up to it.

No rush needed in my opinion as long as the Cards bring up the subject first and give their star pitcher time to think it over. My time frame is about the end of May/early June. Plenty of time to get the first couple of months out of the way and see how the season is shaping up for St. Louis.

Then see how big a team player A&W is when it comes to renegotiating to help out the current squad. Propose a longer deal with incentives for 2012 and open up some payroll to add a piece at the trade deadline. That shows Albert the loyalty factor and the ability to think outside the box to win.

Dennis February 24, 2011

Sure, the team can potentially avoid being hamstrung, and I don’t disagree completely. On the other hand, they could easily reach the end of this with a healthy Waino who doesn’t want to come back to St. Louis after being lowballed. Coming into 2011, he’s the 4th highest paid starter on his own freakin’ team behind Carp, Lohse, and Westbrook. If they don’t go for the full option, then I at least hope that they are quick about doing something, because uncertainty isn’t a great thing for players.

I’m sure you won’t be the only dissenter, though. I’m just making the case for hedging in favor of Waino.

PH8 February 24, 2011

No doubt they can’t afford to lowball him – but at the same time, I’d expect some willingness to work out of the player who’s not giving me anything in 2011 as well.

That’s not a knock on Wainwright, injuries happen and I’m sure he’s devastated by it – but facts are facts. They’re paying for something they’re not getting. At the risk of getting presumptive, Waino sounds like an old-school type of dude who would go back to the drawing board with the team and work out something in the best interests of both.

Then when he comes back strong and wins a Cy, he can say “PAY ME FOOLS!” 😉

Dennis February 24, 2011

It’s a slightly different situation than the one they were in with Carp, but they did pay him $19M to pitch 21 1/3 innings from 2007-2008. There’s also the question of whether or not this is something that the team doctors should have caught last year. Could this have been prevented? If so, then it’s possible that everything evens out due to negligence. I’m just sayin’.

PH8 February 24, 2011

Already been addressed and been agreed that no doctor or specialist would’ve recommended he be cut on or shut down last year.

Dennis February 24, 2011

Yeah, I caught that along with the repeated references to how there were no differences on the MRIs between last year and the more recent ones. That’s great, and it is certainly a great CYA approach. Wonderful. All that tells me is that they learned from the Carpenter fiasco when so many people were questioning the timing of Paletta making the decision about surgery. Super. Is anybody else beginning to question why so many Cardinals pitchers have gone under the knife? Doesn’t it seem like an inordinately high number? Maybe that’s just me. I’m no doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express the other night. 😉

PH8 February 24, 2011


If they wouldn’t have shut him down or had surgery last season, then how would this have been prevented? Voodoo?

Seems they shut Garcia down over concerns, and reports are that he is strong as ever?

If dude was going to break, he was going to break.

Dennis February 24, 2011

Well, I wouldn’t normally endorse the voodoo route, but…..

Seriously, I was thinking more of a specialized offseason condition program to watch him a bit more closely than usual. Just a thought. I’ll be interested to see if he comes back and changes his approach, though. I can see him making some of the adjustments that Carp did.

Josh February 24, 2011

Sounds to me it is more related to Pujols about his elbow than anything else. Both players have been dealing with lingering issues for years, not months mind you, and unfortunately time was up on Adam’s clock.

Albert himself said Wainer looked really good to open spring, so if both team and player are on the same page ending a season — why stress over nothing?

I have many of the same concerns about St. Louis needing a new DR team, but so does my wife and many others I know. Bottom line NO ONE could have projected this bombshell to strike and it is time to move on.

Cardinal70 February 25, 2011

I agree with “it’s gonna happen.” Remember that the Nationals babied Strasburg about as much as possible, and he still barely got a handful of starts before needing it. Throwing a baseball ain’t natural, my friends.

E.E. RIPPER February 24, 2011

I saw the news of Wainwright’s injury on the ESPN scroll while watching basketball last night. I am a Cubs’ fan & I can honestly say my first reaction was ouch. As badly as I would like the Cubs to win, I don’t ever want the prize at the expense of players’ season &/or career. How should the cards handle the situation? Picking up a 2 year/21M club option for a top-flight starter that stands to have a good chance for recovery is a pretty good hedge. But then again, if Wainwright is such a “stand-up, old school” guy then I think he would understand a low base & massively incentive laded contract for 2012. And the Cards could structure the contract so that whatever incentives he meets in 2012, will automatically trigger a suitable long-term deal for a pitcher of his talents.
P.S. In most instances loyalty is a good thing, but LaRussa’s loyalty to Mark McGwire is ridiculous. He was the best hitting coach available??? Or is having him in town a way to pressure state senators into leaving I-70 alone??? Or provide him with more visibility to Hall-of-Fame voters? Jeez…

Dennis February 24, 2011

I couldn’t agree with you more about winning at the expense of others. In every sport I played, I never relished the thought of winning against a team that wasn’t at full strength. That’s why I don’t wish injuries on anybody…..even somebody like Cueto.

It’s one thing for Wainwright to understand a incentive-laden offer, but it’s another thing for him to be put in that position. In the end, I’d like to see the middle ground reached – a reasonable base salary with reasonable triggers for a long-term contract and a few option years that potentially keep him in St. Louis for a long time.

Josh February 24, 2011

Wainwright should be the first one to WANT an incentive-laden contract. He saw what Carp went through on more than one occasion, and Penny and Lohse last season. There are no guarantees that he comes back the same player, and St. Louis has options to explore.

As for the middle ground, that is probably more realistic but MO would not be doing his job if he doesn’t at least try to keep the 2012 salary as low as possible for a player who at best will contribute 2-3 months.

E.E. RIPPER February 24, 2011

No takers on the McGwire situation.?.Touchy subject I know, but still I believe Cards’ fans have some kind of opinion about it.The only reason I bring this up is because here in Chicago, Sammy Sosa is basically persona non grata. Just wondering.

Dennis February 24, 2011

Sorry, I rushed through my reply and omitted responding to that bit. I’m certainly not qualified to say whether or not McGwire was the most qualified candidate available. All I can say is that I have no problem with his general hitting philosophy and like that he doesn’t try to turn hitters into miniature versions of himself. If he’s given space to do his work, I think he’ll do fine without interference from others. In terms of grading his work, I think it usually takes 2 full years to see what a hitting coach can do with a team, so I’m anxious to see how players respond this season.

Dennis February 24, 2011

Yeah, the funny thing is that your timeframe and my timeframe may not be anything like Waino’s timeframe. Assurances, promises, and handshake agreements don’t replace signed contracts in this day and age. If your health/career were on the line, wouldn’t you be a bit anxious about the future beyond 2011? I would be.

Sure, Stl has options, but I bet he will as well. Who is risking more? If he doesn’t recover well, then he’s out of luck. If he does recover fully, then he is going to get paid by someone, even if it isn’t the Cardinals.

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