I've put together a Cardinal Roster Matrix with payroll obligations for 2010 here. I've created a couple of different scenarios for what might happen next year and beyond if we sign Matt Holliday. If we don't sign Holliday (which would make today's trade a really, really bad move), we have an approximate payroll of $65M (I factored in arb raised for Skip and Ludwick) and holes at 4 positions: LF, 3B, SP, SP.
Scenario #1: We Sign Holliday for $15M per season and replace 3B, SP, SP from the farm.
Essentially this means our 4th and 5th starters are some mix of Boggs/Garcia/Thompson/Hawksworth/Lynn and our 3B is David Freese or Allen Craig (or, god forbid, Julio Lugo). You can see that our payroll is less than this season ($83M), but we've replaced Derosa with a replacement level player and replaced Piniero and Welley with replacement level pitchers (Which, in Welley's case might be an improvement). I see no way that this team wins 85 games (a .500 team is what I would assume), and that's without factoring in any injuries which would totally hose our pitching staff. Bullpen looks great though. This leaves us room to sign a mid-level starter to fill the 4th rotation spot, or to get a decent FA 3B, speaking of which:
Scenario #2: We sign Holliday for $15M per season, Derosa for $8M per season, SP and SP from the farm.
Brings us up to right around the current 2009 payroll of $88M, plus around $3M in raises, but we still have two replacement level starters and no pitching depth in case of injury to any players. I would expect the Pythag for this team to be worse than this year -- somewhere around 85 wins due to the replacement level pitching at the back end of the rotation. There's a way to combat that problem though...
Scenario #3: Holliday, $15M; Derosa, $8M; Pineiro (or other starter), $10M; Other SP from the farm (Boggs/Thompson).
Now we're over $100M, we still don't have a lot of depth anywhere, but our rotation is better than it was in the previous two scenarios. If Carp stays healthy and Lohse and Piniero (or whoever) give us #3 starter stuff, we're looking at around 90 wins I'd say, given that Piniero will be worth at least 3 wins this season. Do we want to give a guy with a career year a $10M deal? Do we want to give any pitcher in this offseason $10M a year when we're already spending a good chunk of change on our top 3 starters? I don't, but we don't have much choice if we want to win ballgames. The better question is: Does ownership want to spend $98M on a team that probably isn't good enough to win 90+ games? I'm not sure I would if I'm taking a $10M loss each of those seasons.
Some things that I haven't factored in here:
- I have not discussed signing Albert long term, but you can see from the matrix that if you plug in $20-$25M per season starting in 2012, You're talking about a payroll of around $110M, which is more than Dewitt has ever spent (even adjusting for inflation) in any one season since he bought the team.
- I have not discussed locking up Rasmus' arbitration years either. He'll be cheap in 2011, but he'll be a Super 2 guy for sure in 2012, and will get very expensive after that if he lives up to his potential. If he doesn't, we're really screwed as a ballclub. If he does, better to lock him up now (like they did with WW and Molina) until 2014 for less money that what he'll surely cost in arbitration. That could be the difference between a $110M team and a $116M team. Seems worth it to me.
- Ludwick will earn a big payday (barring injury and falling off a cliff) in 2012, making 2012 a really expensive year if Pujols extension starts that season.
Any way you slice it, paying Holliday the market rate for even a 3 year contract (which he won't accept probably) gets prohibitively expensive if you want to compete, extend Albert, and have a decent pitching staff. You're looking at $100-$110M if you want to have a similar roster to the one we have after the Holliday trade for the next 3 seasons ('09,'10,'11). That's some serious coin for a team that, on paper, would be about a 90 win team (i.e. not as good as the Cubs last season). Let me know if I've missed anything and I'll add it to the sheet.