A Challenge For The Cardinals

If the Cardinals sign Albert Pujols to an eight or ten-year deal when he hits free agency after the season, they'll be counting on him to maintain his Hall of Fame-type production into his late 30s. But the Cardinals front office would be gambling on more than Pujols.

Unless the team boosts payroll significantly, GM John Mozeliak and the St. Louis front office would be gambling on themselves to fill out a roster with less spending power than they're accustomed to. Owner Bill DeWitt Jr. committed between $75-100MM in payroll every year from 2001-10. Fitting a $25-30MM player into that type of budget would limit the Cardinals' ability to spend on other needs and would likely leave them with a weakened bullpen and infield as soon as 2012.

Pujols

The Cardinals' rotation alone will cost about $47MM next year, assuming the team exercises its options for Chris Carpenter ($15MM) and Adam Wainwright ($9MM). Those two pitchers, plus Jaime Garcia (first time arbitration eligible), Kyle Lohse ($11.9MM salary), Jake Westbrook ($8.5MM) and Pujols would cost over $70MM in 2012 unless Pujols deferred an unexpectedly large amount of money. 

Throw in Yadier Molina ($7MM option), Matt Holliday ($17MM) and Colby Rasmus (first time arbitration eligible) and the payroll is already approaching $100MM, or more than the organization has spent in any year since Pujols arrived in St. Louis. Most teams that commit $100MM to a rotation and four position players end up cutting corners in other areas and the Cardinals would be no exception. They wouldn't have much room for luxuries when filling out their lineup and assembling their bullpen and bench.

The 'pen, which will see Ryan Franklin, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller hit free agency after the season, and the infield, which includes no sure things other than Pujols, would probably have to be constructed on the cheap if the Cardinals re-sign Pujols.

If the Cardinals continue to balk at Pujols' asking price, this won't be an issue. They'll lose him to free agency and find another first baseman. Though replacing Pujols is impossible, the Cardinals front office will have to make major adjustments in 2012 barring a substantial payroll increase or an unexpected trade. Mozeliak & Co. will face an immense challenge if Pujols leaves, but the challenge doesn't disappear if he stays.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


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98 Comments on "A Challenge For The Cardinals"


Guest
4 years 4 months ago

no way carpenter stays at 15 mill if they sign pujols

Member
Cards_Fanboy
4 years 4 months ago

Holliday will donate the extra money to pay Carpenter’s salary

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

not donate, defer. Huge difference

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

sar·casm
   /ˈsɑrkæzəm/ Show Spelled[sahr-kaz-uhm] Show IPA
–noun
1.
harsh or bitter derision or irony.
2.
a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review full of sarcasms.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

The option will probably get declined in an effort to resign him.

Member
mattevilspawn
4 years 4 months ago

Same thought crossed my mind when I read the article. Don’t know why BNS made that assumption.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I’ve been calling it for a while He’ll be a FA next year.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I did too! We BOTH can tell the future!

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Holy crud were amazing.

Member
foxtown
4 years 4 months ago

Let him walk if his demands don’t come down. What team in the NL Central scares you if you’re St. Louis? Pujols isn’t needed to win that division. You can still pick up a very good 1st baseman for $8-10m per year and add some other impact players with the savings.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

unless Pujols goes to Wrigley…

Member
astrostl
4 years 4 months ago

The Reds won last year, and the Brewers just buffed their weakness (pitching).

Member
Andy_B
4 years 4 months ago

The Cards were challenged for offense last year with pujols, without pujols the cardinals are a 4th lace team in the NL central.

Member
foxtown
4 years 4 months ago

That’s only if you assume they don’t reinvest Pujols’ money in multiple other impact players. I don’t think that’s very likely.

Member
nictonjr
4 years 4 months ago

‘multiple other impact players’

Holliday didn’t take less money or fewer years. Free agents don’t. Impact free agents don’t. If the rumored $21 per year is close that doesn’t really buy a lot…

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Theres the Reds, who have as if not better pitching staff, as well as a better pen and offense. You also have the Brew Crew who have the superior offense and as good a rotation, about the same as the cards in the bullpen department. I bet they finish third this year behind the brewers and reds.

Member
The_BiRDS
4 years 4 months ago

The Cardinals were in it the whole season until the stretch when they just blew a few games. Yes the Brew Crew are better, but so are the Cardinals. They are the same team only they added Lance Berkman who is totally capable of having an amazing season in the NL central and they also got Westbrook for the whole year. The key for the Cardinals is Jamie Garcias sophomore season. If he has a great season like last year they can easily take the central.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I’m not saying they won’t be in it, the’re still a good team. Its just the brewers are a lot better. The Reds are the same, if not a little better. The Cubs I’m not sold on, though they could compete. When you tell me you have a guy whose played 1b for a long time now, is your starting everyday RF I’d be Leary. He’s been injured playing a position that doesn’t require to much defense, plus he’s getting up there in age. I can almost guarantee you that he won’t be able to stay healthy the whole season, and he aint what he used to be.

Member
The_BiRDS
4 years 4 months ago

Cardinals went to the World Series Chris Duncan playing LF. Im not worried about Berkman, any Major Leaguer especially a veteran has the capabilities playing just about anywhere. Yeah, he is injury prone but Im sure if we know that the Cardinals know that as well and will be keeping a close eye on him. Hes basically the new Larry Walker. When the Cards traded for him people said the same thing. Anyways hes an add on. Cardinals are still the same team as last year without Berkman so there really is no serious risk here and the guy turned down a larger 2 year offer to play here for 1 season.

As for the Reds… we’ll see. Im still convinced they just clicked and had a good season last year. There is a high chance they could just be the reds next year. Rolen is just as injury prone as Berkman.

Cardinals
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates
cubs

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

The thing is theres a lot more running in the outfield than there is at 3B.

Member
jwsox
4 years 4 months ago

but colby can cover a ton of groud which helps ease the load on berk. They have hoping that he bounces back and adds a strong bat to their line up after holliday. Plus he was supposedly hurt all last year so many be will come back strong

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

So can Rios, but theres only so much those two can do to make up for the lack of coverage. We saw last year to keep Quentin healthy we had to take him out because that much running could shatter his glass bones.

Member
Hunt2422
4 years 4 months ago

“Theres the Reds, who have as if not better pitching staff…”

You lose all credibility based on those 11 words alone. Saying Arroyo, Cueto and Volquez are as if not better than Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia is the funniest thing I’ve heard today. Thanks for the laugh.

Member
Ethanator99
4 years 4 months ago

The top of the Cards rotation is clearly better, but the Reds staff if much deeper. After Carp, Wainwright, & Garcia there are serious question marks. The Reds have Arroyo, Volquez, Cueto, Wood, Leake, Bailey, and Chapman if needed. There are also pitchers like Maloney and LeCure that can jump in at a moments notice.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Your welcome, but lose all credibility. I’d rather have the reds than the cards. Sure you have Pujols, but you have him for one more year than what? You’ll get two compensation picks for him. Carpenter is good, but his age is catching up with him, Garcia will regress a bit as the league catches up with him. Wainwright will still be a stud.

Member
PhnxCrew
4 years 4 months ago

why is garcia not a question mark? Apparently no one has had a great fluke season for the cardinals as a pitcher….. The thing about the cardinals is if they have no injuries they’ll be in it, sure. But you take out one of pujols/wainwright/carp/holliday and you’re back with the astros in fifth. Please stop trying to sell us berkman cards fans, unless larussa is already injection him too.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I’m not trying to sell the cards. If you read I actually believe they’ll finish third or fourth depending how the cubs do. Garcia will regress as all rookies do, but I still think he’ll be a good 3 or 4 starter, especially in the NL>

Member
Ethanator99
4 years 4 months ago

Are you serious? Yes they do need him to win the division.

Member
AthleticsFan
4 years 4 months ago

You are on crack.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I still think the Holliday contract was a mistake given the position it’s putting them in regarding Pujols. Add in the fact that they were bidding against themselves and ended up overpaying and it’s hard to see that being a good contract for them even if he does technically play well enough to earn his money. When you know you’re going to have to pay Pujols that far in advance you should be planning for it, not wasting money on players like Holliday.

Member
jphenix2002
4 years 4 months ago

the mistake was the Loshe contract.

Member
The_BiRDS
4 years 4 months ago

Holliday wasnt a waste.. Do your research. So far Cards contract to Holliday is a win for the Cardinals, not Holliday.

Check Fangraphs, I believe they estimated Hollidays last season as a 27 mil player.

Plus by signing Holliday, pitchers will actually pitch to Albert.
Unlike if the Cubs pay Albert 37 million a year to get walked. Who are you gonna put behind Albert? Soriano? HA!

Member
amccoy12
4 years 4 months ago

Simply saying he’s outperformed his contract doesn’t discredit the above point that they overpaid. It always appeared that St. Louis’ offer far exceeded what other teams were valuing Holliday at. I don’t have certain evidence of that but a lot of media outlets basically came to that same conclusion. Be it a million or two million, etc that they could have saved would be extremely helpful to their cause of retaining Pujols but they can’t get that back no matter how well Holliday does or doesn’t play.

As far as the Cubs protecting him or any team for that matter, we’re talking about a guy signing a deal with a minimum of 7 years on it. Think about how much a team can change over just 2 seasons. Any deal Albert signs could see his team getting solid support at some point from guys that aren’t even in college yet.

Member
The_BiRDS
4 years 4 months ago

Had the Cardinals not signed Holliday… The headlines today would read

“Pujols will wear another jersey next year”

Member
bjsguess
4 years 4 months ago

This is exactly right.

Take another example – Vernon Wells. I’ve heard Angel fans suggest that if Vernon can repeat his 2010 campaign for the next 4 years that the trade will be a good move (zero probability of that happening but whatever). The answer is still NO. Wells could win the MVP over the next 4 years and the trade would still be bad. Not because of what Wells did post trade but rather because the team could have landed him for significantly less money had they played the negotiating game better (or at all in the case of Wells).

Holliday may be worth the money and still turn out to be a bad signing because the team spent more resources than they needed to in order to sign him.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Soriano. Ramirez. Lee. Fukudome. Zambrano.

Member
The_BiRDS
4 years 4 months ago

= 11 games back from the playoffs

Member
thejerkstore
4 years 4 months ago

is this like a JEOPARDY question? ok i will play
What are five biggest reasons Jim Hendry should be fired?

Member
Jntg4
4 years 4 months ago

Cubs have no Lee. They traded both Derrek and Hak-Ju. They have a guy named Pena, who won’t be here when Pujols would. Same goes for Fukudome, won’t be here.

Member
ubercubsfan
4 years 4 months ago

And chances are neither will Ramirez.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

They signed Holiday for fair market value, there were several teams involved in pursuing Holiday, but the main reason that some of the huge market teams backed off was because it was probably evident that he was going to remain in St. Louis once his market value was determined and a fair contract was agreed to.

Players cannot just sign for nothing, in a perfect world, players would take a lot less money to play in a place they are comfortable, but the MLBPA isn’t going to allow that, and its disrespectful to under cut other guys in the Union that way. I know, its a union of millionares but its still a union.

The Cardinals are more than capable of signing both, its not a matter of matching bids with teams that have endless streams of revenue like the Yankees or Angels, its about finding out what Market Value is, what the Cardinals best offer is and determining if its close enough to satisfy all the parties involved from Pujols and his agent, to the Cardinals front office, to the MLBPA and Major League Baseball.

Holliday couldn’t have signed for nothing, especially when Baltimore made him an offer. You can give a hometown discount, (which I think Pujols will give the Cardinals) but you have to at least come close enough to market value to satisfy all the parties involved.

The contracts that we could do with out, are the ones such as Kyle Loshe, who earned that contract, but hasn’t performed since his contract was signed, and Brad Penny who was worth a gamble, but eventually got hurt and disappeared. You take those 2 contracts, plus what Pujols is already getting combine it and you’ve got a pretty good annual salary.

Member
bjsguess
4 years 4 months ago

This is serious revisionist history. I would suggest that you go back and look at the archives. There was NOBODY else that was talking 7 years. In fact, there was a strong probability that Holliday would just take a one year deal (ala Beltre) and hit the market again after the season ended.

I don’t think the contract, when reviewed from a value perspective, is a bad one at all. I like Holliday. Think he is a fine player. Wished that he was on my team. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Cards bid against themselves and expended resources they didn’t need to.

Member
astrostl
4 years 4 months ago

I think Carpenter’s 2012 15MM option is a seriously unlikely pickup. Wainwright’s 2012 9MM and 2013 12MM options are forced because of a contract clause (top 5 finish in 2010 or 2011 Cy Young vote), but if he keeps form they’re great deals. Holliday’s offer was for salary deferral, not salary return.

Member
bjsguess
4 years 4 months ago

Really depends if 2010 was his true talent level or just another blip towards regression. Even after a “disappointing” season, the guy racked up 3.7 WAR. That makes 1/$15 type deal sound very, very good.

This is especially true with a guy like Carpenter where you don’t worry so much about the talent as you do the injury risk. Limiting your exposure to 1 year on a guy like Carp is the right way to handle things.