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20-20 hindsight

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no tournament update today; off-day for both series. we resume tomorrow.

here's an exercise in second-guessing: knowing what we now know about the prices that various free agents went for, which ones would you have signed for the cardinals this off-season?

the cards spent a total of $24.3m in guaranteed money this winter on free agents and option-year players:

  • picked up izzy's option for $8m
  • signed pineiro to a two-year deal that pays $5m this year
  • re-signed springer for $3.5m
  • signed cesar izturis for $2.9
  • signed matt clement for $1.8m, with up to $5.2m in performance bonuses and an optional 2d yr
  • re-signed miles for $1.4m
  • signed larue for $850K
so here is the challenge: if you were starting the off-season over again, and you had $24.3m to spend to fill the holes on the st louis roster that existed when the off-season began, and you could get any free agent for the same money that he signed for elsewhere --- how would you have spent the money?

before we go on, some qualifications and clarifications &c &c. in addition to the above-named moves, the cardinals also tendered contracts to wellemeyer and ankiel (and signed them for $1m each), and they extended molina for four years, paying him $1.2m this season. these could all be considered discretionary expenditures --- the team had the option of nontendering any of these players and spending the money elsewhere --- but i'm leaving those out of this little game. they needlessly complicate the issue; those were no-brainer moves with low dollar amounts. so those signings are assumed; you don't get to change them.

you also don't get to make make-believe trades --- you're not allowed to stick erik bedard or miguel cabrera or dan haren on your roster and subtract colby rasmus. nor do you get to undo the deals that were actually made --- ie rolen, edmonds. you do, however, get to promote players from within the organization. if you want to name brendan ryan as your starting shortstop, colby rasmus as your starting centerfielder, and mitchell boggs as your number 5 starter, be my guest. for the sake of simplicity, i'm also going to assume the rule V pickup of brian barton for this exercise; consider him an "internal resource."

i should add that i consider this a value-neutral exercise. i'm not intending to criticize the moves the front office actually made, nor am i suggesting they should have foreseen the rather low prices that a lot of players went for. this is just a way to pass the time, ok? if you want a complete list of all the available free agents, go here. (that list does include traded players, by the way, but you still don't get to use them.) if you know where a guy signed but you don't know what he signed for, you can look him up by his team at Cot's Contracts. here's one way to spend the $22.5m:

1 yr / $8m for izzy
1 yr / $5m for milton bradley
1 yr / $3.5m for jon lieber
1 yr / $1.8m for josh towers
1 yr / $1.8m for matt clement (with optional 2d year)
1 yr / $850K for jason la rue
my everyday lineup is
  1. bradley
  2. duncan
  3. pujols
  4. glaus
  5. ankiel
  6. molina
  7. ryan
  8. pitcher
  9. kennedy
the rotation's wainwright, lieber, looper, towers, and reyes, with mulder clement and carpenter on rehab and thompson / wellemeyer plus the minor-leaguers for depth. the use of bradley in the leadoff position might be considered a bit novel, but he's a logical fit --- good on-base skills, good speed. he has 300 or so plate appearances in that slot over his career; gotta be creative. to me, that's a competitive team (in the nl central) for 2008, and it affords plenty of opportunity for young players to establish themselves for 2009 and beyond. there are no backup infielders on my team; i'm assuming those would come from the d'angelo jimenez / royce clayton talent pool.

i was tempted to bring back eckstein at $4.5m for one last year as the leadoff man, but the defense killed it for me. i also think pineiro is a good deal for 2008 only, but i never liked the 2d year on his deal --- and i like it less now that we see what the market for pitchers has been.

have at it, ladies and gents.