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Sunday tidbits

A lot of little things to go through this morning, starting with….

The always wonderful fangraphs, never satisfied with the status quo, has added CHONE projections to its long list of tremendous stats. It seems to like Duncan and Mather, but not Ankiel. Ludwick’s down some but it likes David Freese. Oh yeah – it expects Pujols to be the best hitter in baseball.

If you haven’t yet visited the link, Erik (yes, of futureredbirds fame) has posted a great fanpost that uses Sky Kalkman’s user-friendly WAR spreadsheet to project the Cards’ win total in 2009. It’s a great spreadsheet and Erik has done great work to come up w/ an idea of how good we’ll be but I believe he used the Marcel projections. Download the spreadsheet and see if the Chone projections differ from what Erik came up with. If we truly are, right now, an 88 win team, how good would Derek Lowe look in a Cards’ uni? Those 3-5 wins could be the difference between making the playoffs and not – which would have a huge impact financially on the team. This is exactly the time to spend high $ on a free agent – when you’re 3-5 wins or so away from making the playoffs.

I brought up Derek Lowe again b/c there’s a report out that the Braves, fresh off of signing the pitcher many Cards’ fans were drooling over – Kenshin Kawakami – are close to signing Lowe as well. Rosenthal says Lowe would receive a 3 year deal in the neighborhood of $40-42 M. The Cards ought to be in on that. They have the money, if only just barely, and he’s worth it. As I said the other day, it probably makes sense to toss in some kind of 4th year option that vests automatically if he reaches some # of innings or # of starts over the first 3 years. That 4th year option could seal the deal and it wouldn’t hurt us b/c it would only activate if Lowe is healthy and productive. And the Braves are in the eastern time zone but it lends credence to the notion that Lowe doesn’t have to be in Boston or New York if the numbers are right. Get in there, Mo!

Speaking of free agent pitchers, Harry Pavlidis over at BtB has a thread going about Juan Cruz and the possibility of the Cards signing him to be one option as closer. Cruz is a good pitcher but, as has been noted here several times, he’s also a Type A free agent. Is he worth a first rounder along w/ the money? Without spoiling Harry’s thread, he doesn’t seem to think so. In fact, his analysis makes Cruz sound an awful lot like one young pitcher we all know. Now, I like this pitcher but he’d be considerably less appealing at $4-5 M per year + our first round draft pick next season. As it happens, he’s not nearly that expensive. Dan likes Cruz and I do, too – but not enough.

I caught this link over at BtB yesterday also. Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has taken THT’s projections and come up w/ the first (of many) projected standings. It’s got the Cards 2nd in the Central, behind the Cubs, finishing at about 85-77. That’s not really too bad considering our starting pitching looks like it does. Let’s see, the Wild Card would go to the Phils, who are projected to finish w/ 88.3 wins – 3.5 ahead of us. Think Lowe’s worth 3.5 wins? I do.

Over in the hot stove thread, Erik posed a question that got me thinking. He asked at what point type A free agents lose their type A status? In trying to find the answer, I stumbled across this Buster Olney post. Now this will probably be the first and last time I link to a Buster Olney post on the front page, but it’s a relatively interesting discussion of type A free agents who are caught in "compensation-pick purgatory." That is, teams like them ok but they don’t believe the players are worth the first round draft pick + the money. So there’s some question as to when and if they’ll be signed. How low would Cruz’s money have to fall in order for him to then be worth the compensatory pick? Wouldn’t it turn this compensatory-pick rule on its head if better free agents become worth less than lesser players simply b/c it costs the team a first-rounder as well? Make no mistake, just b/c I wouldn’t pay Cruz’s money now doesn’t mean I wouldn’t pay it later. Remember, one of those type A guys is Ben Sheets! His market could be plummeting and it might have, in fact, hit rock bottom already.

Incidentally, I should have mentioned the other day that our friend Erik has a new Cardinal blog out. Stop by and say hi at play a hard nine. He’s smart and obviously knows a lot about the team and its prospects so there should be some good conversations developing over there. Good luck w/ the blog, Erik.

BTW, in case you missed it, HL and some others have it documented for you. The Cards won game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and will be playing the Tigers in the World Series. Hopefully those games will be coming to the mlb network soon. I think we’ve got a pretty good chance here. (Watch out for Kenny Rogers, though. I’m not sure he’s all natural, if you know what I mean!)