I'm going to keep things relatively brief today; it's sort of the beginning of a holiday, after all. So no, I'm not going to write 3000 words about how much I love seeing Peter Bourjos brought to this team (though I could, if I wanted to), or pile on about how unbelievable it is the Cardinals managed to snag Randal Grichuk in the same deal, or even cast back in my memory to the two weeks leading up to the 2009 draft, and how Grichuk's name was pretty heavily bandied about in connection with the Cardinals, and how much consternation there was with what seemed a rather underwhelming, rather meh, rather budget-friendly, rather....Kozma-esque draft pick. Maybe I'll break that one out sometime closer to Christmas, when the Redbirds are sitting home wrapped up in a Cardinal-themed Snuggy while the rest of the baseball world tries to figure out how they managed to put off their holiday shopping until the last minute again, and why in the hell do the oh-so-perfect Cardinals have to rub it in their faces that they pretty much finished weeks ago. The Grichuk sentiment was somewhat fascinating to me at the time, and it still sort of is, but really, it's such a small footnote now that perhaps it's minutiae too minute for all but the dullest, darkest, most navel-gazing of days.
I was also considering writing this post without a single paragraph break, just to fuck with everybody, but that would be obnoxious. So, paragraph ho!
As for Jhonny Peralta, the man I plan on writing a word or two about today, well, he wouldn't have been my first choice. Or, rather, I should say Jhonny Peralta wouldn't have been my first kind of choice; once it was clear the type of choice he is was the type going to be made, he actually was my first choice. And yes, I am rather enjoying my own loquaciousness today, perhaps a bit more than is actually decent.
Anyhow, what I mean to say is my preference in addressing the shortstop position would have to really, completely address it for the long term, fixing the hole once and for all. (And by for all, I mean for, say, the next decade.) It was my feeling coming into the offseason that the Cardinals had an opportunity due to the remarkable confluence of a glut of talent in a few specific areas, a market starving for young pitching, and a roster with just one or two areas which could be significantly upgraded, to make a big splash. To go all in for a Jurickson Profar type (and by Jurickson Profar type I mean Jurickson Profar), and just end all questions about shortstop for the foreseeable future. I wanted to see them boldly dip into the asset pool, pull out a gob of value, and use it to extort a young superstar from some desperate club.
Unfortunately for me, things didn't quite work out that way. The Rangers managed to find someone to take Ian Kinsler off their hands, somewhat surprisingly, and so lost all desire to deal from their deck of middle infielders. The Orioles wanted Shelby Miller for one year of J. J. Hardy, a deal roughly akin to that Manhattan-for-beads thing from back in the day. I assume other clubs made other, similar demands for their young assets, apparently reading the Cardinals' embarrassment of riches and specific desperation as an excuse to be assholes.
And so it became clear the trade market, at least of the grand slam, do-you-see-the-wonders-I-have-wrought variety, was pretty much a no-go. So, no-go we go on to the free agent market. At which point Jhonny Peralta, as I said before, was, in fact, my first choice over Stephen Drew, the name who seemed to get the majority of the attention.
Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, Mr. Mo: awesome bow tie. Someone send Ken Rosenthal a picture of how a real sartorial genius rocks a bow tie. Also, send Ken Rosenthal a punch in the Adam's Apple. Just because.
Of all the things I find fascinating about the Jhonny Peralta deal, from the player outrage to the sexy, sexy lineups we can type up using the Cards' hitters this year, the one I find the most fascinating of all is one that probably seems a bit prosaic, if not downright sordid.
I'm talking about the contract.
More specifically, the frontloaded contract.
Ah, frontloading. Long the exclusive domain of message board blue-skying, where people who should really know better speculate teams should really pay their players more money up front, that way they can save money down the road. And oh, it sounds so very reasonable when you put it that way!
The problem, of course, is fairly basic economic theory, things like the value of money over time; specifically, the future is cheaper than the present. Or, rather, the present is more expensive than the future, since the two things are, strangely enough, not exactly equivalent.
Teams would be foolish to frontload a contract, the sensible voices say. You would be paying far more in actual value vs a contract that's backloaded, even if it seems like you would paying more if the big money is all coming at the end of the deal when the player probably isn't worth it anyway. Teams simply do not frontload their contracts, and there are lots of really, really good reasons why they don't.
Except, well, this team just did.
The contract the Cardinals just handed Jhonny Peralta is worth $53 million total over four years. That's a lot of money, especially when the player in question has age questions, body questions, defense questions, and PED questions. Then again, the Cardinals had no questions at shortstop, only an answer, and the answer was no. So questions....eh, not so bad.
The years break down thusly:
- 2014: $15.5 million
- 2015: $15 million
- 2016: $12.5 milliion
- 2017: $10 million