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Should the Cards Add Peavy: The Money & The Splits

With the haggling between San Diego and the South Side of Chicago over and done, all that was needed for Jake Peavy to change clubs and leagues was the tradee's approval. A ballplayer can contract for such rights these days and Peavy exercised his no-trade rights, vetoing the deal. This proposed deal has had many rumors surrounding just what farmhands the White Sox were sending to the Padres. Az weighed in over Future Redbirds, looking at what a HYPOTHETICAL package similar in value to that which the White Sox put together would look like coming from the Branch Rickey Honorary Farm System. Similarly, Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons weighed in on his blog at ESPN.com (subscription required), suggesting that the Padres were concerned they wouldn't get as good of a deal later in the summer as they had lined up with Chicago:

...if the Padres have to wait for the Cubs, the Cardinals or -- and they don't even want to think about this -- the Dodgers until the deadline, their chances of getting anything close to Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard and two other pitchers are slim.

THE MONEY: THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH TO GO AROUND AND ALBERT PUJOLS IS GOING REQUIRE AN AWFUL LOT OF IT

Much ink (virtual and real) has been spilled over Peavy's preference to stay in the NL, his list of clubs that he would accept a trade to, and his desire to pitch in "middle America." St. Louis fits all of those bills, but as Az points out, Peavy isn't playing for free. There are large sums of money involved:

 

Per Cots:

  • 2010: $15M
  • 2011: $16M
  • 2012: $17M
  • 2013: $22M option ($4M buyout)

That’s a heap of money ($52M for the math impared) for a pitcher.  It’s easy to see why a bad team would want to clear that off the books.

 

This season, Peavy will make $11MM this season, which the Cards would have to pay a pro rata (I believe) share of depending on when they acquire the 2007 Cy Young. That strikes me as a bargain for 2009, but, as Az relates via Cot's, there's a whole heckuvalot of coin left to shoveled Peavy's way in the seasons after 2009 in what would amount to a five-year contract if you count 2009. Again, thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts, we can get down in the weeds of it all and see whether or not this addition is one we as a club can actually afford and want to afford.

It's been well-documented that the Cardinals have a lot of money coming off the books after the 2009 season. The only commitments we have to players currently on the roster for 2010 are these, according to Cot's:

 

  • Pujols, $16MM
  • Carpenter, $14.5MM
  • Lohse, $8.875MM
  • Molina, $4.25MM
  • Wainwright, $4.65MM
  • Reyes, $2MM
  • Franklin Club Option, $2.75MM
  • Total, $53.05MM

Adding the $15MM owed Peavy brings the Cards' payroll to $69.05MM without any additional signings or calculating the raises due the likes of Ludwick, Skip, Rasmus, Perez, Motte, McClellan, etc. What I would argue is that this payroll total shows the value of plugging in cost-controlled players developed in a club's farm system. The fact that we can even discuss adding Peavy is a side effect of having a low-cost center fielder in Rasmus, left fielder in Duncan, bullpen arms in Perez, K-Mac, Motte, etc. Also, look at what we are paying for Wainwright and Yadi next season: $8.89MM combined. This year, it's even lower at $5.85MM. Again, intrasystem products that are an absolute bargain basement value for the big club. I digress. Back to Peavy...

In 2011, the Cards have commited, as of this writing, $54.605 to Pujols ($16MM), Carp ($15MM), Lohse ($11.875MM), Yadi ($5.25MM), and Wainwright ($6.5MM). Adding Peavy's $16MM brings this payroll to $70.605MM, again, without any of the raises due the youngsters or any of the extensions Mo might work out with them between now and then. That's a heck of a lot of money to direct at six players (three of whom are pitchers). 

2011 is also a club option year for El Hombre--the last year the Cards have Pujols under contract. Like probably all of Cardinal Nation, I cannot fathom Pujols in another club's uniform. I'm irrational about this. I want him to spend his entire career as a Cardinal (for the 500th, 600th, and 700th career HRs, the 3,000th career hit, the 2nd, and 3rd World Series titles, etc.). The best chance of that happening, in my estimation, is the club extending him after this season or after the 2010 season (because we won't be able to compete with the bigger market franchises were he to hit the open market). That extension will easily be at least $25MM per year and probably $30MM. This would likely about double his salary and gives him an enormous share of the club's overall payroll. If we were to trade for Peavy, and the club were to extend Pujols, as much as or more than two-thirds of our payroll could be tied up in three players for that 2011 season: Pujols, Carp, and Peavy. 

After 2011, things get interesting. Carpenter comes off the books, I'd assume, since the club has a $15MM option for him in 2012. After the injury-riddled last two and a third seasons, I can't imagine them exercising it. So, the organization will have to buy him out for $1MM. Pujols, without an extension, is gone. Lohse is still hanging around and set to make $11.875MM. The club has an option on Wainwright that it can exercise for $9MM and an option for Yadi that would be $7MM. Peavy is scheduled to make $17MM. 

THE PETCO EFFECT, THE BUSCH III EFFECT, & RISK

Jake Peavy made his big-league debut in 2002, starting 17 games for Padres. He had an ERA of 4.52 and a FIP of 3.69 in his rookie season, striking out over 8 batters per 9 innings. He averaged 1.0 HR/9, as well. In 2003, Peavy started 32 games for the orange-and-blue Padres, FIPing 4.99 (worse than Pineiro last year!), ERAing 4.11, striking out 7.2 batters per 9 innings, and allowing 1.5 HR/9. In 2004, PetCo Park opened up for baseball in beautfiul, sunny San Diego. Coincidentially or not, a light seemed to go on for Peavy as he turned in a terrific season, FIPing 3.14, King 9.36 per 9 innings, and allowing only 13 HR in 166.1 innings after allowing 33 HR over 194.2 innings the year before.

You all know the rest. Peavy cemented himself as a dominant pitcher, one of the best in the league, FIPing 2.89 in 2005, 3.51 in 2006, 2.84 in 2007 (and winning the Cy Young), and 3.60 in 2008. He is FIPing 3.35 so far this season and has assuaged my concerns about his K/9 falling nearly a full K last season as compared to 2005-2007 by striking out over 10 batters per 9 innings this year. 

The concern amongst many is Peavy's home/road splits and how much better he is at PetCo than in other stadiums. However, QualCom was pretty pitcher-friendly, too, according to ESPN.com's Park Factor tool:

  • 2002: 0.835 on Runs, 0.758 on HR
  • 2003: 0.825 on Runs, 0.806 on HR
Both of these were in the bottom one-third of MLB for those years. Comparing it to PetCo, PetCo is a bit more repressive of runs and home runs than ol' QualCom.
  • 2004: 0.835 (R), 0.691 (HR)
  • 2005: 0.798 (R), 0.747 (HR)
  • 2006: 0.860 (R), 0.982 (HR)
  • 2007: 0.755 (R), 0.685 (HR)
  • 2008: 0.796 (R), 0.743 (HR)
  • 2009: 0.732 (R), 0.622 (HR)
No wonder Peavy cut his HR rate by in half from '03 to '04, eh? Taking a look at Peavy's career home and away split, there is a pronounced difference:

Home: 2,873 PA, 231 R, 51 HR, .219 BAA, .613 OPSA
Away: 2,625 PA, 280 R, 84 HR, .245 BAA, .735 OPSA


Lets compare Peavy's current home field to the new Busch Stadium, which is only slightly pitcher-friendly. Here are its Park Factors via ESPN:

  • 2006: 0.950 (R), 0.887 (HR)
  • 2007: 0.933 (R), 0.717 (HR)
  • 2008: 0.943 (R), 0.915 (HR)
  • 2009: 0.886 (R), 0.725 (HR)
So, if Peavy were to come to St. Louis, he seems likely to have an increase in his HR rate and, consequently, his FIP and ERA. It's a lot of money for a player who stands to lose effectiveness when removed from the pitcher-friendly confines of PetCo Park. It reminds me a bit of Matt Holliday outside of Coors (on whom, the jury of my mind is still out). What do you all think?

 

 

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