Feldman: Cards facing big decision on Lohse

Feldman: Cards facing big decision on Lohse

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 25: Starter Kyle Lohse #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium on July 25, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)


by Brian Feldman / News 4 Sports


Posted on August 14, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 14 at 10:20 AM

(Baseball StL) -- The dictionary defines economics as the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, or the material welfare of humankind. 

Or in regular people’s terms—supply and demand.

This winter, agent Scott Boras is going to shop his client, Kyle Lohse, around to all 30 teams in an effort to create a demand.  A demand that will surely drive Lohse’s price way up.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last, oh, 20 years, starting pitching is quite valuable in this sport.  Very very very valuable.

GM John Mozeliak will be forced to evaluate how much the Cardinals are in demand of Lohse’s services and whether or not it makes sense for them to meet Boras’ asking price. 

It’s kind of funny looking back at Kyle Lohse’s time with the Cardinals and thinking how crazy it would have been 2  years ago to suggest the Redbirds would want him back after his current deal expired.

But that just shows his poor performance in 2009 (4.74 ERA) and especially 2010 (6.55 ERA) was due to one thing and one thing only.  Injury.

Since getting healthy from that nasty forearm strain, Lohse has been a model of consistency.  More than 188 innings last year and a then career-low 3.39 earned run average while holding hitters to a then personal best .249 average. 

This year?  Even better.  He’s on pace to shatter his previous mark of 201 innings in 2003 with 213 this season.  His ERA’s never been this low (2.72), his WHIP - walks plus hits per innings pitched - has never been this good (1.11), his opponents batting average has never been this low (.244) and if you’re into this kind of thing...he’s never been this valuable overall (currently worth 3.5 wins above a replacement level player).  

So what does this mean going into the offseason?  Well, considering Scott Boras was able to turn one good season of Lohse (3.78 ERA in 2008) into a 4 year, $41 million deal...I can’t wait to see what he can do with two years of even better production.   

At 33 -- Lohse will turn 34 on October 4th—teams will probably be hesitant to go beyond 4 years with him.  But that $10 million a year average he got last time?  Scott Boras is going to demand more than that this offseason.

I think he’ll push for 4 years and around $48 million ($12 million a year) but may have to settle depending on what other teams believe he’s worth.

As for the Cardinals, the sad reality is as good as Lohse has been these last couple seasons...he probably wouldn’t make sense for the price he’ll command.  Think about it.  Adam Wainwright is in line for a massive extension that will probably get him over the $20 million a year barrier.  Chris Carpenter has another year left on his deal.  Jaime Garcia is signed to a multi-year contract.  Lance Lynn is under control at a cost effective rate for a few more seasons. 

But most importantly, the Cards have some talented, young (i.e. cheap) pitchers with great stuff coming up the pipeline.  The last thing you want to do is block them. 

Remember that whole economics thing from before?  Why spend $10-$12 million a year on a pitcher when you have someone making a few hundred thousand that—you hope—can give you pretty good production? 

As a result, that money you’re saving can go somewhere else.  Like...to Adam Wainwright.  Also, don’t forget Yadier Molina starts making big money next year, too, as part of the 5 year, $75 million extension he signed this past March.

When all is said and done, I just don’t see Kyle Lohse returning to St. Louis.  I could be wrong, but that’s my gut feeling.

Economics can be a funny thing sometimes.  Just ask Albert Pujols.