My interest in this first sparked when during the thread today lboros opined that 09 might not be a competitive year either. Then some asked the question if not 09, then when? I have a theory that the answer to that question is "not anytime soon." Hang in there with me, i'm not trying to be pessimistic.
What I'm saying is that I don't think winning is going to be the number 1 goal for the next couple of years. I think the re-signing of Albert is the club's #1 goal, winning will be icing (especially since we won the title in 06).
During tonight's game Dan and Al started talking about A-Rod's contract and how its not likely that the Cards will sign Albert to a contract of that size when the time comes. However, we all know the kind of backlash there will be if Albert leaves after 2011.
It got me thinking, is that DeWitt's plan all along? I started looking into some of our contracts and low and behold every long term contract we have as of right now expires after 2011, same as Albert's. Carp's, Wainwright's, and Yadi's contracts all expire then. Coincidence? Maybe. I guess we will see this off season based on the lengths of the contracts that are offered to free agents.
I'm starting to think that the "building from the inside" philosophy is an attempt to have good, cost-controlled players at a majority of the positions so that we can pay our first baseman $30-$35 mil a year.
We are already looking at Rasmus in CF, Wallace at 3B (hopefully), Kozma at SS, Niko at 2B, and Anderson at C as the core of your 2011 team. We also should have more players to fill out RF and CF.
If they are paying those 5 position players close to league minimum they should definitely have the payroll to make a run at Albert. They can also try to use that as leverage for Albert to take a lesser contract. As in, if you take less money we can afford to sign your teammates.
I mean, if we are talking about A-Rod's contract being the starting point, we could be looking at a contract of 11 years, $350 million. For a mid-market team you almost have to be paying the majority of your team league minimum to afford that.
Again, i still think the club will want to win but my suspicion is that they won't bring on players/contracts that hinder their chance of re-signing Albert. Hopefully our young kids will play well enough till then so that we have a happy medium between trying to win now and signing Albert.