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those of you who've been reading this site for a while may recall that long ago --- like, 10 years or so --- i promised a few upgrades to the site; comment auto-refresh, better comment-input editor, yadda yadda. it was so long ago i can't even find a link to the damn post.

well, the time is nigh. no, really --- i mean it this time. but we're not talking mere upgrades; we're talking about a whole new platform, custom-built by SB Nation. it's the product of more than a year's labor, and it'll incorporate a whole range of new features suggested by bloggers and readers across the network. the changeover is due to happen sometime this month. i and the other front-page VEBbers have seen the beta, but the details are super-duper mega-confidential industry secrets; i'm really not allowed to describe the specifics of the new platform in advance. what i can say is that the new design is intended to make the user experience more streamlined and more robust; you'll have a greater range of options and an easier interface with which to choose among them.

keep an eye on Athletics Nation, our flagship site; the new platform will roll out there first, hopefully next week. our site will convert about a week after that.

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pitchers / catchers report in less than two weeks, and kyle lohse is still out there. it's been assumed all along he would get a ridiculous deal, but the market obviously has shifted. he ain't getting 4 years / $40m at this point; the team likeliest to spend a lotta money on him, the mets, are no longer interested for obvious reasons, and teams that are still looking for pitching have plenty of other options (livan, josh fogg, kris benson) if boras makes unreasonable demands on lohse. boras might be forced to put lohse on the jeff weaver plan --- ie, accept a one-year deal and hope the market's more forgiving next season. should the cards jump in? according to ken rosenthal, the cards are no longer shopping for rotation help (scroll down to the second item) because they're so encouraged by what they see out of mulder, but if the price were right --- i repeat, if the price were right --- i would kinda like to see this guy in st louis. lohse is a true everyman pitcher in the mold of jeff suppan; indeed, supps is his #1 comp at Baseball Reference (with a very high similarity score of 980), as well as his #3 comp in the new PECOTAs. lohse is the same age (29) suppan was when he signed with st louis; their career stats through that age:
gs w-l era whip k/9 hr/9
suppan 206 62-75 4.90 1.423 5.0 1.2
lohse 195 63-74 4.82 1.432 5.7 1.2

others in lohse's top 10 comps include joel pineiro, jason marquis, and todd stottlemyre; until recently, his #1 comp was chris carpenter, who also signed with stl at age 29. carpenter v lohse through age 28:

gs w-l era whip k/9 hr/9
carp 135 49-50 4.83 1.510 6.3 1.1
lohse 195 63-74 4.82 1.432 5.7 1.2

what's the right price for him? a few months ago i pegged it at about $8.5m a year; PECOTA projects him as a 2.3-win player this year, which would put his price slightly higher than that. since coming to the nl in 2006 lohse has made 43 starts and posted an era of 4.61 with a FIP of 4.35 while pitching in two very hitter-friendly parks. in the more forgiving st louis ballpark he'd be a decent bet to put up a 4.30 or something on that order. . . . i'd throw him a 1-year offer at $10m and see if he bites.

my guess is this guy ends up with the astros, who are more desperate for pitching than the cardinals and more willing to overcommit to so-so players.

quick monday-morning hits:

  • david pinto did a quick-dirty analysis of the cardinal offense and estimated they'll score 4.76 runs a game --- which would be a big improvement over their 4.48/game average in 2007, a 4- to 5-win gain in the standings. by the same method, pinto guesstimates the brewers at 4.97 runs a game (no change from last year), the cubs at 4.96 (plus 0.32 runs/game), and the reds at 4.60 (down 0.23 runs/game).
  • the new set of PECOTAs includes only one player with bob gibson listed among his top 4 comparable players --- cory doyne, who briefly made an appearance on the cards' 40-man roster in 2006. the cards lost doyne to minor-league free agency after the season; he joined the baltimore organization and was dominant at AAA last year.
  • more PECOTA comp filler: the only player with lou brock listed as a comp? ichiro. . . . there is no player with albert pujols listed among his top 4 comps, nor anybody with tony la russa on his list. . . . dan haren's top 4 comps include 2 cy young award winners (fergie jenkins and pete vukovich), plus curt schilling and freddy garcia. . . . .chris carpenter's #1 comp is tex hughson (???). his #4 is tommy john; is that supposed to be some sort of a joke?. . . . .
  • keith law kinda sorta ranks the cards' farm system 16th out of 30, adding: "The Cards have a ton of guys I project as extra players --- fourth outfielders, utility infielders, middle relievers --- and I'm not sure how to value that appropriately."