mo money, mo problems

Posting here a day early...Just a few thoughts on the el caballo gordo deal that went down yesterday...It's growing more and more amusing to watch our division rivals get into money fights. The Carlos Lee deal almost makes the Soriano deal look good, and that's saying something. Throwing $100 mil at a corpulent left fielder who has the range of a narcoleptic cow and a career OPS of .835 doesn't quite add up to me. Mitchel Litchmann, stat guru and former advisor to the Cards had a little rant in light of the news of the deal. Per MGL at BBTF:

This is the worst signing of the off-season. It is horrendous. I defended the Soriano and Matthews signings. This one is indefensible. Lee, by all rights, is a terrible defender at this point in his career (interestingly, prior to 05, his UZR was above average). His baserunning lwts also took a nose-dive in 05. That and his UZR decline suggests that he has lost his speed. He is an average left fielder overall at best. At best. This signing has all the earmarks of a stupid team overvaluing a player - signing for big bucks a corner outfielder (not properly adjusting for defensive position) who is past his prime, just had a career year in offense, has good garbage stats, and is a terrible defender.
I'd love to hear his defense of Gary Matthews... Anyway, it's not that I think Carlos Lee will be completely awful for at least the early part of the deal, but the Astros are spinning their wheels here. First of all, the could've just signed a stop gap until Hunter Pence is ready, which could be as soon as '08. Kid projects to be pretty good, however Pence should only play LF due to defensive limitations, but he's now blocked. Also, the signing of Woody Williams makes up for a tiny fraction of what they had in Pettitte and Clemens. Neither are going to be back most likely. So together Woody and Lee project to be good for around 6 or 7 wins above replacement. When you subtract Clemens and Pettitte, figure maybe Ensberg rebounds and Hirsh does okay, the Astros aren't picking up ground, they're probably losing it or just maintaining.

Speaking of Woody, outside of Mussina resigning with the Yanks to no great suprise, he's the first domino in the FA pitcher line to fall. I'd guess the 2y/$12.5 mil deal maybe sets the bar for the mid-tier arms going rate. Well, kinda. Woody's 40 and hasn't pitched over 160 innings since '04. And maybe he's giving the Astros the home discount a tiny bit. The younger arms will be looking for more then $6m now, I'd guess. It's crazy to think Carpenter made $6.5 mil last season, and will be making $7 mil the next. What would the asking price be for him in this market? $14 or even as high as $17 mil a season perhaps? With the Cardinals looking primarily in the mid-tier pool of free agent pitchers, it seems extremely unfair to think that Jeff Weaver, Adam Eaton or whoever's in the rotation will be making as much or maybe more money then Carpenter will in '07. But I suppose no one put a gun to Carp's head, much credit to Jocketty for knowing when to pounce.

Other tidbits:

Miklasz did say that the Cardinals are interested in Jason Schmidt but he recently switched agents to the Hendricks Brothers, the same guys who snookered the Astros into paying Roger Clemens $22 mil for 19 starts last season.

Adam Kennedy is seeking a 4y/$18 mil deal. In this crazy market, that almost doesn't sound totally awful. If that 4th year can be an option, maybe you got something there. He's also a type B free agent, so no losing out an a draft pick. Loretta is a type A free agent.

I'd have to imagine roster moves are soon forthcoming. It's fun watching teams burning through cash and all, but the Birds are gonna have to do some spending of their own pretty soon here. It'll be interesting to see if they too don't find themselves swept up in the insanity, or if they can remain smart and thrifty without losing out. I hope they do something soon, if but for conversation's sake.

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