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pay purview

excellent showing by the busch crowd last night. they gave edgar his due -- a well-deserved standing o in the top of the first -- and thereafter treated him like any other opposition player, ie none too well. edgar obliged with a poor showing, while his replacement went three for five with three ribbies. couldn't have asked for a better result in any respect.

in the end, the game turned out to be less about the player who left than about the one who stayed -- matt morris, who apparently is the designated starting pitcher for emotionally charged home games. eleven days ago it was the kile family celebration, last night the edgar-homecoming / world-series rematch combo -- and mattmo bent both contests to his will. big games, big-game pitching; by september / october he could be downright scary.

he may also be in the same position edgar found himself last season -- too pricey for st louis. if we project morris' season totals out to, very conservatively, 180 innings, 15 wins, and a sub-4.00 era, his price tag likely falls in the neighborhood of $9 million a season for three years or so (about what russ ortiz and matt clement bagged in last winter's free-agent auction). if morris ends up with 18 to 20 wins and an era below 3.50, then he's worth . . . . what? andy pettite got three years at $10.5 million per; tim hudson, a three-year extension at $11.75 million per; pedro, four years at $13.25 mill. morris himself got three years at $12.5 million per annum on the strength of one 20-win season. he will still only be 31 at the end of this season; he is healthy and focused, perhaps just entering his peak years. let's say he's worth four years @ $11 million.

could the cardinals afford that? we're getting way ahead of ourselves, but what the hell -- let's think it through anyway just for fun. here's who they have locked up for next year:

player position 2006 salary
mulder sp $6,500,000
carpenter sp $6,000,000
izzy rp $8,500,000
king rp $2,300,000
thompson rp ~ $400,000
yadi c ~$500,000
albert 1b $14,290,000
eckstein ss $3,400,000
rolen 3b $11,250,000
edmonds cf $9,500,000

that's $63 million committed to 10 players. assuming a payroll roughly equal to this year's $90 million budget, that leaves $27 million for the remaining 15 roster slots. if $11 million of that goes to morris, you have $15 million left for 14 slots -- a tight squeeze indeed. could it be done? let's take it step by step:
  • plug anthony reyes and adam wainwright into the rotation behind mulder, carp, and morris. both rookies will make the minimum of ~$350,000. the cards do not exercise their option on suppan, who becomes a free agent; and jason marquis (paid $3 million this year but probably $5 mill or more next year via arbitration) becomes trade bait. payroll remaining: $14.3 million roster spots remaining: 12
  • randy flores returns to the bullpen at $400,000; tavarez or another setup man signs for $2.5 million. payroll remaining: $11.4 million roster spots remaining: 10
  • two minimum-wage players come off the bench -- candidates include hector luna, scott seabol, john gall, reid gorecki, chris duncan, others yet unnamed. payroll remaining: $10.7 million roster spots remaining: 8
  • mabry comes back for $800,000; einar diaz or his ilk signs for $500,000. payroll remaining: $9.4 million roster spots remaining: 6
  • marquis gets traded to (wild-ass guess) cincinnati in exchange for austin kearns and a prospect. kearns becomes an everyday outfielder and is paid $1.25 mill. payroll remaining: $8.2 million roster spots remaining: 5
  • al reyes or his like signs for $900,000. payroll remaining: $7.3 million roster spots remaining: 4
  • an outfielder of the reggie sanders / jeremy burnitz type signs for $3 million. payroll remaining: $4.3 million roster spots remaining: 3
  • jocketty finds an eckstein-grudz type to play 2d base, pays $2.5 million. payroll remaining: $1.8 million roster spots remaining: 2
  • $1.5 mill for a veteran starting pitcher / swingman as a hedge for the rotation; the final spot to some min-wage player jocketty pulls off the scrap heap
so on the face of it yes, the cards could pay morris top dollar and still do a decent job of covering all other bases. and if morris is willing (unlike you-know-who) to accept less than market rate to stay in st louis, so much the better. but such a cost savings is far more likely if they start workign on the extension now, rather than waiting for the bidding to break out.

let edgar serve as exhibit a.