Um, Define “free agent” again?

Everyone needs to calm down. Albert Pujols is not a free agent. He will not be a free agent for a LONG time. The Cardinals have not lost their chance to negotiate with him. Deadline? Please. Grow up. If the Cardinals decide during the season – for whatever reason – that they want to come back with an offer that matches what they believe he wants, Pujols’ camp will look at it, and he will sign it.

Albert isn’t stupid. At least I don’t think he’s stupid. He knows there will not be a huge bidding war for him. The likely suitors in Boston and New York are already covered with players that put up similar numbers. The Mets? Please. They’re a mess. Nobody would pass up $27mm/year with the Cardinals for $30mm/year with the Mets. The Cubs? What a joke – the organization, that is. If they’re willing to pay (and they have a history of terrible contracts), then so be it. If Albert is content winning one World Series in his career then Wrigleyville is the place for him.

Anaheim? Maybe. Anyone else? Not too likely.

I love the irony here regarding the negotiations. The same loud voices that crabbed that the Redbirds were bidding against themselves with Matt Holliday (when he was ACTUALLY a free agent and there were other suitors), are somehow now upset that the Cardinals are refusing to bid against themselves in this situation.

Holliday also had an exclusive window. It passed. Then he signed with the team. And in this instance, the exclusive window still has nine months left! And even if the somehow DO call things off, they still have until five days after the World Series. The point is, it’s not over.

Let’s see how that elbow holds up. Let’s see how the season goes. He’s not bigger than the game, people. He’s a businessman that wants the most money he can get – and more power to him. But don’t blame Mo for trying to run a business in a way that makes sense.

The harsh reality is this – the loyalty you feel for Albert… he doesn’t feel it for you. At all. He’s just trying to make the best deal he can for himself, and that’s his right. But this humble, loyal, god-like thing you’ve created in your minds – uh, yeah… negative.

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Pujols

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Let’s not forget this… we heard the Jeter deal was
“hopeless.” We heard he was gone. Then, what was it, a day later the
deal was in place?

 

Here’s what I think…. and this is the God’s honest truth
as to what I believe. And …while I don’t necessarily like it, I believe it…
I think he’s going to re-sign, and I think we’ll hear that tomorrow. Today was
clearly not an option with the day belonging to Musial, thus the one-day
extension.

 

I think the deal will be 10 years, but I think it will
include THIS year. As in, it’s not a 10-year extension, but essentially a
nine-year extension that they will be able to call a 10-year deal. I think his
2011 salary will represent a modest raise, and I think the salary will escalate
probably to $22mm/year as early as next year.

 

I think it will be back loaded, with an average annual
salary of probably just above $30/mm year, with the actual annual rate not
hitting $30mm/year until 2015 or so. Back loading not only gives him the same
money he thinks he needs, but protects the Cardinals to a certain degree. It
allows the team to stay competitive over the next two years while their entire
pitching staff is under contract, it gives Albert his money, and it makes it less
of a hit down the road. $35mm/year in 2016-2017 isn’t as much as it is today.
Salaries escalate no matter the economy, we know that.

 

Albert won’t likely care that the deal is back loaded,
unless we’re going to start to argue over interest earned, here. And I really,
really think that won’t happen.

 

Without further ado:

2011: $20mm

2012: $22mm

2013: $24mm

2014: $27mm

2015: $30mm

2016: $32mm

2017: $34mm

2018: $36mm

2019: $38mm

2020: $40mm

 

The back loaded deal also gives the chance to try to move
him if the team becomes non-competitive or some sort of fracture that makes
this ugly comes into play. While unlikely (this will be a ‘retire here’ kind of
deal), it may also be impossible with his 5&10 protection. Even so, back
loading it makes it a problem then, not now.

Wait for it.

 

The deal will also include quite a bit of deferred money,
probably around $2mm/year just like the Holliday deal. And, quite likely, a
“retirement” contract, which keeps him under contract even further
out than 2020 with some sort of position with the team.

 

Keep in mind, Albert knows what he has here. He knows he
doesn’t have to hustle. He knows he can ignore his third base coach 90% of the
time and never get fined or benched. He knows that the starting rotation is
under contract for tw…o more years – minimum. He knows his elbow is barking.
He knows his only real likely suitor after year would be the Cubs, who are the
Cubs for crap sake. Why bother? He knows the Yankees and Red Sox don’t need his
name to put butts in the seats and already have 1B covered long-term.

 

He wants and needs the deal before he takes the field.

Offense

After being shut out for the fourth time this year (1-0 in SD tonight), it’s clear this offense is sputtering. The popular thing to do is talk about Albert’s struggles or Matt Holliday’s numbers with RISP, but what about some of the other glaring problems? Brendan Ryan’s struggles have been well-documented, but what if he were hitting? What about Skip? What if Lopez had stayed healthy?

I don’t think we can completely excuse the big boys from the problems this team is having, but they’re hardly the only guys not putting up big numbers. And if you look closely, you’ll see that overall Holliday is batting .289 while Pujols is at .314. They’re NOT the entire problem.

Meanwhile, how ’bout Waino? He tied a career high with 12 K’s tonight, and is clearly the ace of this staff. Well, he is if Jamie Garcia isn’t! Let’s see if Jamie can keep it up on Wednesday. My money says yes.

Carpenter

Interesting quotes at the end of the Cardinals game today. I commented last week that while Chris Carpenter has good numbers this year, it seems he’s had to work a little harder to get them. He’s battling. He’s laboring. He’s in and out of trouble, and the home runs…. plentiful.

Here’s what TLR and Carp had to say after today’s game – during which he allowed 4ER in 6IP while his ERA jumped to a solid (but perhaps misleading) 3.09. Quotes pulled from Matthew Leech.

“I really felt that the ball was coming out of his
hand outstanding,” La Russa said. “He had a couple 0-2 misses and they
capitalized. And their catcher takes the ball on the outside black and
hits it out, that’s great hitting. He pitched around a couple errors. I
really thought that Carp had good stuff and located, made a lot of
pitches, kept us in the game.
“Overall, I
really thought the ball was coming out of his hand very well.”
Then came Carp’s comments:
“Interesting enough, it really was the best I’ve felt all year. I made a
couple bad pitches for the homers, but I felt like my stuff was good. I
felt like my cutter was better. my command was better. it was a nice
win for us and I was happy with the way I felt. … I felt like I was
locating well.”

Did you watch the game? Is this what you saw? I still think he’s laboring. Is it just me?

What now?

So what happens if Kyle Lohse has to go on the DL? I’m all for giving P.J. Walters at least one start – maybe two – to show what he can do. He earned this promotion, and given what he’s been through this year they owe him the benefit of more than a doubt or two. He can pitch. And with a day off on Monday, they can skip a spot if they want to – meaning that if they do have to DL Lohse along with Penny, they might only need one more guy to make one more start. If, that is, what we heard about Penny being ready as soon as he comes of the DL is true.

But what if they need more than Walters? What if Lohse and / or Penny are each out a while? Trade? Try to stretch out McClellan (and maybe give Russ Springer a look in the pen? Someone else from Triple-A, like Lance Lynn?

Thoughts?

P.J. Walters

P.J. Walters is on his way up from Triple-A, but I haven’t heard yet if it’s to replace Hawkesworth or Penny. We already know BH is out at least through the weekend, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he went on the DL before they make a decision on Penny. Either way, interesting numbers form Walters at Memphis.

Three starts, 1ER, 18 2/3IP, 23K, 3BB

Dorothy Kamenshek / League of Their Own

I wrote and posted this for work, but here it is in case you missed it. Very sad. Great movie.
———————

Dorothy Kamenshek, one of the stars of the All-American Girls
Professional Baseball League that helped to inspire the lead character
Dottie in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, has died.

Kamenshek, who played for the Rockford Peaches from 1943-1953, was a
left-handed infielder that was named as one of the top 100 female
athletes on the century by Sports Illustrated.

According to the Riverside County (Calif.) coroner, she passed away
on Monday at the age of 84.