I originally wrote this as a post in a gameday thread; for everyone else in that thread, sorry about that (it's a bit long). It's my first diary ever, other than the one I was forced to keep for like two weeks in fifth grade and didn't put much effort into because, as it turns out, that's really a stupid thing to make a fifth-grade boy do.
I tend to write my online prose in lboros/e e cummings format, but it seems I shifted back and forth a bit here and I'm too lazy to go back and change it. Hope it's legible.
being competitive - or, rather, winning, as that's what we want and what we've done in the recent past - is not really about "breaking the bank." the cards are not the sox/angels/(apparently) cubs/(apparently not?) yanks. they can't just buy a proven vet at every position.
luckily, they don't have to be marlins/twins either - i.e., have to do things on the cheap, keep getting incredibly lucky with young guys, and just pray that all the chips fall right every 6 years so you can catch lightning in a bottle before everyone hits their eligibility and you lose them all because you can't afford them.
what the cards have to do is be middle of the road - pay for a few pricey studs to carry the team; fill in with a few proven quantities of moderate ability at moderate salary (see: encarnacion, j.); and have enough cheap young talent come up the pipe to fill in the rest of the roster while easing the pressure on the payroll for the high-priced guys. then just a few basically league-minimum vets to provide some performance above replacement where the cheap young talent can't fill in.
we also get a bonus in one area: dave duncan. he's like game genie for pitching staffs. guys like kip wells and braden looper are able to do decent work (yes, i think at the end of the season, "decent work" will describe the output of both of those guys) at a much lower cost than other teams. even given their respective april 2007s, i'd MUCH rather have wells/looper at their salaries than, say, suppan/marquis. or, say, zito/weaver.
so, taking stock (and, really, i think this could be done a lot better by one of the front-page writers; might be a good distraction, given the current doldrums of this team both on and off the field?):
Studs (as defined mostly by salary, but also by expectations): Pujols, Carpenter, Rolen, Edmonds, Isringhausen
Moderate Vets (range differs by position, but I'll cut off at Springer for $1.75m): Encarnacion, Eckstein, Mulder, Wells, Looper, Eckstein, Kennedy, Spiezio, Springer, Flores
Cheap Young Guys: Yadi, WW, Reyes, Duncan, Thompson, TJ, Skip
Low-Income Vets: Franklin, Miles, Taguchi, Wilson, Bennett
Looking at it this way, here are the problems I see:
Actually, I was going to do a list, but there's really just a few minor things, and one really big one. The big one is:
1. The studs are too hurt/old. Carp has been out this year, and Jed and Rolen might as well have been. Pujols is the only one with an OPS over .800 - or even above .660 (yikes). I'm also not a big believer in giving $8 million to a closer in the first place. So, basically, the studs aren't carrying the team. This is really the major issue. Of the Cards' $90 million 2007 payroll, these five guys eat more than $52 million of it (not counting Jed's $3 million deferral). And they're not exactly doing 5/9 of the work.
That's really the major, major issue. The other three are: 1) right field (basically have three cheap fourth-outfielder types filling in as starters, with a moderate guy hurt); 2) the middle infield (giving up outs in the lineup by going with moderately priced, basically glove-only vets - the farm system has consistently, consistently failed to develop middle infielders, and until they do this is going to be a major, growing problem for the roster as a whole); 3) the cheap young rotation guys, ww and reyes, haven't performed very well yet (if they can be league average at the end of the year, this team will be better).
the pitching market is out of control, and the cards have really young, cheap guys there right now other than carp. see what kind of discount buehrle will give; other than that, though, based on what i've seen at this point i'd be in favor of keeping wells and looper and calling it a day.
the trouble is, i'm not sure where you can drastically improve. jed could retire, i guess, which would open cf and salary for an andruw jones type. kennedy's salary is stuck at 2b, even if he's not. they could let eck go, but short of signing frickin arod, the ss free agent market next year looks godawful.
izzy's contract comes off next year, and they're still at just $90 million; so i guess they could just eat instant breakfast's salary as a bench guy or ship him somewhere for a resin bag, and then bring in the best stud rf free agent bat they can find. some of that $ is probably just going to get eaten up with small increases across the board though.
i don't really have a conclusion. i was never big on them. i do know i am depressed, and also that i should get back to work.
thanks to mlbcontracts.blogspot.com for the assist.