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nothing to lohse

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we switch platforms in two days. remember, the site will be down for a little while on saturday morning (not more than an hour or two, if all goes well), and then the get-started post will appear with a few instructions and what not. farewell to ye olde platform; this is my last post in it.

if the cardinals sign kyle lohse (which they should do), i wouldn't expect him to turn the club into a serious contender. that's not the reason you go out and sign him. the reason you sign him is to keep other guys from having to take on roles they're not ready for, roles that don't give them their best chance to succeed. you sign him so guys like parisi and mclellan can pitch regularly at triple A instead of sporadically out of the bullpen in st louis; so they can work on their secondary pitches and round out their games instead of just trying to survive against big-league hitters. committing to youth doesn't simply mean throwing young guys into the big-league lineup; it means creating pathways for them to reach the big leagues and moving them up when they are ready. it might be argued that parisi can learn just as much as a big-league mop-up man (with big-league coaching) as he can by repeating triple A; he's about to turn 25 and has thrown 550 minor-league innings, 315 of them against elite minor-league competition (ie double A or above). i'd rather he had at least another 10 starts at memphis to work on that changeup of his, but it's debatable how much he would benefit from further seasoning. mclellan, though, has only thrown 30 innings against elite minor-league competition (ie, double A or above). he has only made 12 starts in the last 4 years at any level. if the long-range goal is to have him contend for a spot in the rotation, then in the short run the only thing to do is give him some starts --- at memphis.

which is why you sign lohse. that enables thompson or wellemeyer to go back into the bullpen and reduces the imperative to fill the mop-up role with a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time rookie.

i've written elsewhere about the striking similarity between lohse today and jeff suppan at the time the cards signed him; let me repeat those numbers:

gs w-l era whip k/9 hr/9
suppan thru 2003 206 62-75 4.90 1.423 5.0 1.2
lohse thru 2007 195 63-74 4.82 1.432 5.7 1.2

and here's a table comparing lohse over the last three seasons (2005-07) to the pitcher he'd ostensibly replace, joel pineiro:

gs ip w-l era whip k/9 hr/9
lohse 2005-07 81 498 23-35 4.77 1.432 5.5 1.1
pineiro 2005-07 66 452 22-29 5.61 1.523 5.1 1.2

now, it's true that pineiro spent all but two months in the dh league over that span, whereas lohse spent half of his time in the non-dh league; that explains part (though not all) of lohse's numerical advantage. but pineiro has performed almost entirely in pitcher's parks, while lohse has pitched predominantly in hitter's parks. it's hard to look at those numbers and conclude that pineiro is a significantly better bet than kyle lohse --- if we're generous to pineiro, we might say he's about as good. insofar as lohse will cost about the same as pineiro for 2008 but won't also require an $8 million guarantee for 2009, as joel did . . . . i mean, what the hell's left to discuss? this is a test of the ownership. if the cards don't sign this guy, then maybe dewitt's really as big a cheapskate as his worst critics say.

a few notes about Bird Land's early look at the minor-league assignments:

  • mark worrell, we hardly knew ye. despite pitching well at triple A last year and getting added to the 40-man roster, he has been busted back down to double A --- passed by motte, perez, et al. i guess he didn't make much of an impression on tony n dave earlier this spring.
  • for the first time in a couple years, the cards won't have anybody opening the year at double A who came from the previous year's draft --- not, at least, unless mortensen and / or jess todd ends up there. in 2006 nick stavinoha (7th round in the 2005 draft) made that transition; last year john jay (2d round, 2006) did it, although injuries forced him to the DL and, eventually, back down to high A. the 2007 draft is well represented on the palm beach roster. half a dozen of last year's selections --- daniel descalso (3d round), oliver marmol (6th), tyler henley (8th round), stephen hill (13th), arnoldi cruz (26th), and nick derba (30th) --- are already penciled in there, and they may well be joined by mortensen todd and / or kopp (all from the first 2 rounds).
  • another noteworthy item about palm beach: a couple of the "tools" draftees (tommy pham and jonathan edwards) apparently will be there, leapfrogging low-A. pham still hasn't gained any traction; he went .205 / .283 / .305 in short-season A last year as a 19-year-old. edwards (also 19 last year) showed a bit more promise at that level, .245 / .345 / .431; all the same, high A seems like an awful big jump for these guys. they'll be joined there by another tools project, daryl jones, who advances despite a .217 / .304 .296 line at low A.
  • even with the losses (to promotion) of rasmus, jose martinez, chris perez, and mitch boggs, the springfield roster looks loaded with interesting players: bryan anderson, mark hamilton, john jay, allen craig, ottavino, pj walters. a guy i'd like to learn a bit more about is dan nelson, the second-baseman --- 13th-rounder from the ill-famed 2004 draft. i kind of wonder if he might be this year's jarrett hoffpauir --- has a very good batting eye, hasn't shown a lot of power or ability to hit for average. he draws enough walks that with a .280 average he'd top .400 in obp. he's moving from an extreme pitcher's park at palm beach to a hitter's park in springfield; when jose martinez made that transition last year, his stats took a giant leap forward. compare his trajectory to hoffpauir's and martinez's, particularly their lines at palm beach . . . . . i'll be keeping an eye on this guy.
here's today's gameday link; the cardinals play the mets, with looper getting the start.