Rotation Possibilities

This write-up started as a comment to one of the threads today but quickly got out of hand length-wise.  Basically, I was working out my own reaction to houstoncardinal's break down of Duncan and Ankiel's trade value.  Also, I wanted to consider how the team would look different in 2008 and 2009 based on whether they obtained a (younger) starting pitcher through trade or waved the white flag on available free agents.

So we've got Carpenter, Looper, Pineiro, Mulder, Wainwright, Reyes, and Thompson right now for starting pitchers.  In my mind, anything Carpenter does in 2008 is a blessing... so throw him out.  I'd rather be conservative than think that he's going to provide cy-young caliber pitching upon his return.  Our 2008 rotation at the moment (in the mind of TLR & DD; I'd definitely pencil in Reyes over Thompson):

  1. Wainwright

  2. Looper

  3. Pineiro

  4. Mulder

  5. Thompson/Reyes
But let's look one more year down the road... Carpenter returns (presumably...) and at least two contracts are up in Looper and Mulder (whew)... so that leaves us with these guys for 2009:
  1. Carpenter

  2. Wainwright

  3. Pineiro

  4. Reyes

  5. Thompson
Now, this is assuming that Mo (as he's so endearingly been called by the STL media) quits making moves... which does not appear likely following the shipment of one Jim Edmonds to San Diego.  He's  going to add a pitcher somewhere.  Why do I think so?  Well, we just learned that Reyes has one more option left on his contract which means he's likely to spend some time down in Memphis.  And after posting a 2.95 ERA in 55 innings pitched during his rookie season of 2005, Thompson spent time in Memphis during each of the 2006 and 2007 seasons.  So it appears that there's a short leash on him as well.  Assuming that TLR and DD aren't willing to pencil either Thompson or Reyes into the back end of the rotation, Mo's going to have to bring another guy this year.

Would it be better to throw a multi-year deal at one of the sub-par FA pitchers available or would it pay more dividends to swing a deal with the little bait that the Cards have in Duncan or Ankiel?  Again, I'm thinking ahead here... 2009 being most important while hoping to make the 2008 team somewhat competitive as well.  Let's walk through this.

Which starting pitchers are left at the moment? Here's a list.  Not a whole lot there.  There's some mediocre pitchers trying to capitalize on this year's weak FA class while hoping to get some overvalued multi-year deals.  These are guys like Silva and Lohse.  Then there's players who might be willing to take a one-year deal as an opportunity to boost their value come 2009.  These are guys like Colon and Weaver.  Then there's some other names that seem to have been linked to the Cards at one time or another... Fogg, Benson, Armas Jr., and Clement.  And then there's the recently touted Josh Towers.Lets' take a look at these guys.  For the time being, I'm going to use 2008 predictions from Bill James that are listed over at Fan Graphs. If there's better historical stats or future predictions to use here, please let me know.  I checked on ZIPS but they weren't yet available for every player.

Silva 199 4.61 1.38 3.71 1.58
Lohse 188 4.69 1.43 5.55 2.78
Colon 70 4.24 1.36 2.32 2.83
Weaver 185 4.72 1.38 5.74 2.34
Fogg 181 5.02 1.48 4.77 3.03
Benson 130 4.43 1.38 5.33 2.98
Armas Jr. 120 4.95 1.48 6.45 4.13
Clement 95 4.17 1.39 7.77 4.07
Towers 81 5.11 1.41 5.22 1.56
There you have it.  A bunch of similarly league average pitchers.  Nothing that the guys we already have on board couldn't do IMHO.  For comparison's sake, take a look at the other two guys who that rotation slot will presumably go to.
Thompson 109 4.62 1.38 4.54 2.64
Reyes 109 3.88 1.26 7.68 2.89

On second thought, we might have an upgrade available in Anthony Reyes.  If only he could get out of the dog house.  As a result, I'm not convinced that signing any of these guys is necessary to make the 2008 Cardinals more competitive than they already are... let alone the 2009 Cardinals when Carp has a completely rehabilitated throwing arm.  What about the names that we've heard as potential trading chips thus far this winter?  Of all the rumored Giants, I'm leaving out Lincecum because it just ain't likely.  If he's available, someone else is going to have a better offer.  Same for Bedard because we ain't sending Rasmus anywhere (everyone knock on wood now).  Again, we're using 2008 Bill James projections.

Cain 205 3.42 1.26 8.25 3.91
Sanchez 58 3.57 1.34 10.24 4.50
Lowry 194 4.13 1.41 5.98 3.80
E. Santana 160 4.39 1.38 6.98 3.21
Capuano 145 4.41 1.37 7.32 2.98

That's more like it.  Seems that pursuing a trade (assuming Duncan or Ankiel and some throw-ins would get the deal done) offers us the best chance at fortifying a very ho-hum starting rotation in not only 2008, but 2009 and beyond.  Most, if not all, of these guys are younger than their FA counterparts.  The benefits are obvious:  we'd have them under control for more years (assuming we are looking for a one year bargain) and they have more upside.

Our 2008 and 2009 Rotations:








2009 Free Agent

Who are the 2009 Free Agent starting pitchers?  Well, there's Johan Santana, Ben Sheets, and C.C. Sabathia.  Also, there's other less desirable names such as Oliver Perez, Randy Wolf, Carl Pavano, Derek Lowe, and John Garland.  And remember:  A.J. Burnett may opt out of his current deal.  Of course, several of these player's fates will likely be determined before they ever hit free agency... but the names look better than Silva or Lohse.

It should also be noted that there is quite a bit of money slated to come off of the books for the Cards after the 2008 season.  No more Looper, Juancion, or Izzy.  That extra money could conceivably be put towards acquiring a solid outfielder.  Using the same list as linked to above, it appears guys like Abreu, Burrell, and Adam Dunn would be available.  Therefore, the loss of production from Duncan or Ankiel could soon be replaced with the money that will become available after this season.  And we could pull a one-year corner outfielder out of the current FA class in the mean time.  It seems that 2009 is what the organization is looking towards anyways.

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