Monday, December 04, 2006

2007 Free Agency Preview - Part 4 (Pitching)

I'm exhausted, I've had family here all weekend from out of town, I'm not sleeping, so I'll have to keep this short.

First, news of the day: Carpenter signs a 5 year extension for $65M. That's $13M a year, folks, starting next season.

I'm downright giddy. One of the few aces in the NL and an actual competitor on the mound will remain a Cardinal for the balance of his career. Good Move, Walt Jocketty!

I was afraid the Cardinals would skimp on starters because they didn't want the new pitcher to make more than Chris, who's base salary was to top out $7M this season. Looks like that's no longer a concern.

Let's break this down into Relievers and Starters:

Relievers: Stay with the group used at the end of the season. Rincon will be an addition, coming off a major injury and rehab. The only question is what to do with Adam Wainwright? For now, he needs to remain in the mix as the closer. I know all the reports state Izzy is ahead of schedule, but I don't believe it's prudent to plan based on reports and what Izzy is saying. Wainwright stays the closer through the start of spring training. No other changes are needed.

Starters: Carp, Reyes, Wells fill 3 of the 5 slots. Still need 2. Options:
a. Re-sign Mark Mulder. I've been saying this for a while now. Mark is damaged goods, and not projected to be MLB ready until July. He should be looking at next year as a 'prove I can pitch at the level of my pre-2006 stats' season and then make big money on the open market later. I'd sign him to a incentive laden deal with a 2008 option (because as Jocketty says, we don't want to go through the pain of rehabbing a guy and then get very little in return on that investment as an organization), say $4M this season with an option for $9M next year. Just throwing numbers out there.
b. Sign Jeff Weaver. Things going for StL in this discussion: (a) pulled him off the scrap heap and saved his career; (b) obviously working with Dave Duncan has helped his mechanics and confidence AND there seems to be a genuine rapport there; (c) he's a competitor and will rise to the occasion; (d) he has stated he'd like to stay in StL. Things going against StL: Scott Boras is his agent. Now if I were a player I'd loooovve to have Scott as my agent - he has a demonstrated knack for negotiating large contracts for his top tier clients. If I were a GM, well, let's say seeing him dive off a cliff near Big Sur in a spectacular one-car accident wouldn't break my heart. The problem is how much money will Weaver command/demand, especially in a market where Adam friggin Eaton is worth EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS a season: $10M? $11M? Cardinals can't afford him at that price. Hopefully (a) through (d) will tip the scales toward a, let's say, 3-yr deal at $7M/$8M/$10M (so $25M).
c. Promote from within. Isn't there ANYBODY else in the farm system close to being ready to pitch in the majors? (crickets chirping)
d. Sign one of the following. Since the last item is probably wishful thinking, I'd target one of the following 3 pitchers, all reasonably young, all with WHIP at or below Marquis' level: Tony Armas, Tomo Ohka, or Mark Redman. All pitched capably for awful (Nationals and Royals) teams. Jocketty could probably get them to sign for Kip Wells type money for one year. Look at it this way: They're a stop-gap until Mulder is ready to return.

Updating our running salary amount.

Start: $75.45M
Add: Wells ($4M), Kennedy ($2.5M), Bennett ($0.9M), Spiezio ($2.25M), Carp (add'l $6M), Projected Mulder ($4M), Weaver ($7M), and one of the 3 amigos ($4M) Equals $30.65M.

Total (19 players): $106.1M

The final free agent post will look at the bench.

UPDATE 12/5: I was slightly off on the value of Carp's contract. I'll default to Cot's on this one as far as how much he's making next season, so I'll adjust his number down from $13M to $8.5M. That reduces our bottom line by $4.5M to $101.6M.

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