Now that the Cardinals have signed Kyle Lohse some have said they’re done adding starting pitching. If Chris Carpenter is healthy (a very big “if”) the rotation looks like this.
1.) Adam Wainright
2.) Chris Carpenter
3.) Kyle Lohse
4.) Todd Wellemeyer
5.) Joel Pinero
Certainly not the best rotation, but solid if Carpenter is healthy. Without Carp, they may need another starter. I don’t think they should rely on him. Go out and try to extend Braden Looper. Yes, they have other holes, but the starting pitching still needs to be stabilized. They have 21 million to spend and could sign an expensive reliever or middle infielder. They also could look to trade an outfielder. The Cards are going to have to do a lot if they want to win the division next year.
Right after I posted that Kyle Lohse could be extended, he did get extended for four years, 41 million plus a full no trade claus. It seems a little bit of a better deal for the Cardinals than for the Mariners with Carlos Silva, but I still think Scott Boras did a good job. Remember when everyone thought he screwed up Lohse by not taking the 3 year, 30 million contract offered by the Mets and the Phillies? Well, that looks like a smart move now. Instead of getting that, he gets effectively 5 years, 45.5 million. So, an extra two years for 15 million. Looks like a nice job. Plus, he got Lohse a NTC (no trade claus) which could eventually be bought out for an extra 2-3 million. It doesn’t look terrible for the Cards, but still a win by Boras. I would’ve perfered 3 years instead of four, but he is young, so hopefully it won’t matter. The bar for starting pitching has been set.
The Cardinals are on the verge of signing Kyle Lohse. When I heard about that, I was happy for them. But when I heard about the amount of money and years, I changed my mind. It says Lohse will be signed for the 4 years, 48 million that Carlos Silva got. I think it’s a bad deal for the Cards. This free agent market is much deeper than last years, so there is less of a demand. Even though there was a big need, that deal still made zero sense for the Mariners. It also sets the bar for all the better free agents. Ryan Dempster, Jon Garland, and Oliver Perez should all be paid more than Kyle Lohse. I’m not sure some of them should get over 48 million, however. This might be a crazy offseason if the ninth best free agent starting pitcher gets paid 4 years, 48 million.
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The overachieving St. Louis Cardinals have faded from the playoff race recently, but could make a comback in 2009 with a succesful offseason. They need to add at least one starter with Kyle Lohse and Braden Looper hitting free agency. They also need a lefty reliever for the bullpen. A complete middle infield makeover is in order. It wouldn’t kill them to use Brendan Ryan at one of the positions, but the other must be sloved outside of the organazation. They will be in on all #3 or #4 type starters, as well as Will Ohman and Edgar Renteria. I picked them to sign both, as well as Mark Ellis in the offseason. It is going to be tough to compete in the NL Central, however. The Cubs are awesome, the Brewers are going to be very good even without CC Sabathia and maybe Ben Sheets, the Astros are likely to make some big splashes, and if certain Reds’ young players break out, the Cards could finish in fifth place. This team is going to have to move an outfielder in the offseason with Colby Rasmus likely to be called up from AAA. The one being shopped could be Rick Ankiel. With the bleak center field market, he could have a lot of interest. He is a free agent after 2009. It makes more sense to trade him instead of Skip Schumaker, who isn’t even arb. eligible untill after 2009. I think Ankiel should be traded for one of their needs. The Cardinals are a team that could continue to compete, but might also fall on their faces. However, a lot of people were saying they’d be awefull this year, and they were wrong. Don’t underestimate Tony LaRussa.
The New York Mets, in the thick of a pennante race now could separate themsleves from the rest of the division next year. The Mets have a few needs. They need to get a starter to replace Oliver Perez, a reliever to the terrible bullpen they have, a left fielder not as injury prone as Moisis Alou, and a first baseman if they decline Carlos Delgado’s club option. The Mets should start by picking up Delgado’s option. Effectivley 8 million for a solid first baseman is a bargain. My Top 50 Free Agents predicted them to sign Manny Ramirez to fill left field. This team is a great fit for Manny. They need a power hitting left fielder, and the Mets seem to have a club house that gets down when they start losing. (Like when they couldn’t win a game to end the 2007 season) Manny would change that. This would be a major signing for them. I also picked them to sign Francisco Rodriguez. They badly need bullpen help, and there’s no one better than K-Rod. Plus, Billy Wagner has been injured and has been shaky when healthy. If the Mets had an 8-9 inning punch of Wagner and K-Rod, the game would effectively end in the seventh inning. If they dole out all this cash for Manny and K-Rod, plus Johan Santana’s new contract is starting, they would not have much money to get a front-line starter with. They will try to resign Oliver Perez, but might not be able to match Scott Boras’s demands. If they fail out on Perez, they could sign a different Boras’ client, Kyle Lohse. They had interest in Lohse last offseason, and could get him this year instead of last. If the Mets lose out on Manny or K-Rod, look for them to be big players on starters such as Ben Sheets, AJ Burnett, and Derek Lowe. This has the potential to be a world series caliber team, they just need to spend their money wisely.
Todya, I will make the second team in the Offseason Plan series. Don’t forget, you can see all the teams I have written on the side-bar link labled “Offseason Plan.”
Whether it makes sense or not, the Houston Astros are going to try to run down the Cubs next year. You can expect a busy offseason by Drayton McLane and Ed Wade. MLB Trade Rumors says the Astros players are hoping to recruit Ben Sheets, one of the best free agents on the market. I don’t think the Astros should build a team this way, but if they can get Sheets, they become a pretty good team. They have an above average lineup. The starting ptiching is aweful, but if they sign Sheets and then another pitcher like Kyle Lohse, whom I both picked them to get in my Top 50 Free Agents, they would have an above average rotation. That means all they have to do is fix the bullpen and viola, the Astros are a winning team. Not good enough to catch the Cubs, but good enough to possibly get the wild card next year. Hopefully, for all Astros fans, the money isn’t a problem. Their payroll last year was almost 89 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. If I added right, they have about 70 million in contracts and arbitration in ’09. They probably can afford a 100 million payroll. If they sign Sheets and Lohse to 10 and 18 million a year deals, then they’d have 2 million to spend. Not much to add a starting catcher and 2 relievers with. If they backload contracts, they could still sign these guys. If they add 2 relievers at 4 million a year, that brings it to 106, leaving some money for a catcher like Pudge Rodriguez. I think he’ll sign for 2 years, 12 million, so 6 million a year. If they backload it to 4 million, then 8 millon, they’d be able to sneak him in. They give Benn Sheets 14 million in his first year, Lohse 8, the two relievers 2. The ‘Stros would have players with big raises in ’10, though.