At the time, this deal looked good for the Cardinals. Quality starting pitchers have generally been given exorbinant contracts over the past few seasons, so it was not a crazy thought to think that Lohse would get a huge contract on the open market. The Cardinals thought by acting quickly, they were going to sign Lohse to a cheaper contract.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said (about Lohse's extension), "Clearly, deals like this are market-driven. What we were trying to do is avoid the market."Mozeliak did the right thing by trying to avoid the market. Anything can happen on the open market and signing a player before he hits free agency is usually a good way to ensure that the price tag does not get too high.
However, it quickly became clear that the 2008 market was not shaping up like previous seasons. Teams were spending less than usual because of the rough economy and free agents who expected to find the endless riches that come with free agency were greatly disappointed. The money and years simply were not there.
So by avoiding the market, the Cardinals probably wound up overpaying for Kyle Lohse. Mid level guys like Jon Garland, Oliver Perez, Braden Looper, and Randy Wolf struggled to drum up interest from teams because of the economy. Perez was the only one out of that group to receive a deal longer than 1 year, and that was largely because of his age (27) and upside (high strikeout pitcher)
Can anyone honestly say that Lohse is a better pitcher than any of those four? The 30 year old Lohse is not a strikeout pitcher with a lifetime 4.67 ERA. Hell, 2008 was the only season where Lohse's ERA was under four. Those statisitcs are reminicent of a mid level starting pitcher with a minimal ceiling, not the front line starter that the Cardinals just ponied up $40 million bucks for.
If the Cardinals held off on signing Lohse, there is no doubt in my mind that his price tag would have come down significantly. Lohse should be thankful that he signed when he did because he clearly maximized his earning potential while so many others did not.
Once again folks, timing is everything.