Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Offseason Winners: Kyle Lohse

On September 29th, Kyle Lohse and the St. Louis Cardinals came to terms on a 4 year/$41 million dollar deal. The Cardinals rewarded Lohse for putting together the best season of his career in 2008. Lohse thrived in St. Louis by going 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA. Lohse stabalized the shaky Cardinals rotation and helped keep the Cardinals in contention for a majority of the season.

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.


Anonymous said...

Its not a guarantee that Lohse would have signed a similar deal to Looper, Wolf or Perez. He could have signed quickly before the bottom dropped out of the market and made 8-10 a year but maybe over 2 instead of 4. The Cardinals had issues at the time of the signing with Carp so as a Cardinals fan I dont mind this signing.

Anonymous said...

I would take Lohse over all four of those pitchers you mentioned. We should be lucky to have a guy like him. Yea we signed him when we did because we didnt know the economy was going to bomb and therefore the deflation of the market. So there is your reasoning. Do you think that if we knew all of that we would have signed him to the deal that we did? Yea, either do I.


Anonymous said...

Lohse would have signed with the Phillies, 3/36 before the winter meetings. Cardinals knew this.