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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cardinals Interested In Lohse

Cardinals Interested In Lohse

Joel Pineiro's second bout of shoulder tightness this spring has the Cardinals scrambling for pitching help. Fortunately there are still a few names left on the market who are probably as good as Pineiro. One such pitcher is Kyle Lohse; the Cardinals put in an inquiry with Scott Boras recently.

GM John Mozeliak was upfront in saying that Pineiro's uncertainty changes the landscape for his team. If Lohse truly goes in the $4-5MM range we've been hearing about, that's a fine signing. Hell, Pineiro got two years and $13MM and was more questionable than Lohse at the time of the signing. Jeff Weaver and David Wells are the other two names we've heard linked to St. Louis this winter. A few people have asked me about Eric Milton. He had Tommy John surgery on June 15th, so he'd be of no help to the Cards right now.

Rockin' The Red gives five reasons why they think the Cards should sign Lohse, if you're interested.
Changing Landscapes

Braden Looper. Adam Wainwright. Anthony Reyes. With Pineiro's looming shoulder problems, the Cardinals are down to just three starters, two if you consider Reyes as only a competitor for a rotation spot. John Mozeliak has acknowledged that "the landscape has changed to some degree." If it's my call, I sign Kyle Lohse to a $4 million contract. My reasons?

1.) Matt Clement and Mark Mulder are no sure things. Pineiro has had less injury problems in his career, so there's reason to believe he can recover to full strength. On the other hand, Mulder and Clement have had significant injuries, have missed significant playing time, and have significant hills to climb to get back on the mound. If the rotation is left as-is, Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson are put in charge of holding two spots for an indefinite amount of time. Wellemeyer hasn't pitched more innings than his career-high 79.1 IP last year, while Thompson also had a career-high 129.1 IP last year. It would be hard to count on them to last that long, much less be effective for that long. Kyle Lohse has been a innings-eater when starting and has no lingering injuries that we know of.

2.) Jeff Weaver will be 32 in August and had an atrocious year last year. Even when he was with the Cardinals in 2006, Weaver had a 5.18 ERA, a 4.86 K/9, and the highest FIP of his career - 5.77. Last year, Weaver maintained his shrinking K-rate, striking out 4.91 batters every nine innings. Weaver would be another reclamation project in a situation where we need less projects and more solutions. I would rather try to make Mike Parisi or Kyle McClellan into a serviceable starter than try to reinvent Jeff Weaver again.

3.) Kyle Lohse is dependable. At 29 years old, he has amassed innings in every year he has pitched and has maintained a fairly stable K-rate. His time in the NL produced even better results for Lohse, including a successful run with Cincinnati where he faced pretty much the same competition he would face here in St. Louis. He's not going to "wow" you, but he offers stability in a rotation that has remained in a constant state of flux since November.

4.) Lohse is believed to only be looking for a one-year deal for numbers ranging from $4 million to $10 million. At this point in the season, it would be wise for him to take the best offer he can get, which could be from the Cardinals. I postulate that a $4-5 million deal would be sufficient to get Kyle in a uniform and report to Jupiter, and I think that should be as I high as we go. It would really make sense for Lohse to take that deal, as there's no other clubs as desperate for pitching as St. Louis.

5.) If Kyle Lohse can perform to last year's standards in the first half of the season, he becomes a great trading chip for the Cardinals to use. Last year, he was traded to Philadelphia for a top ten prospect - Matt Maloney - who is now the 6th rated prospect in a strong Cincinnati farm system. It could become another step in the rebuilding of the franchise while simultaneously opening a spot for the return of Matt Clement, Mark Mulder, or even Chris Carpenter.

The Cardinals should jump on this opportunity to sign a pitcher that could benefit the club in many ways - as a replacement for injuries, as a dependable innings-eater, and as a possible trading chip. He is a step ahead of the rest of the free agent talent available and could come at a cost similar to Kip Wells last year. You can never have too much pitching, and this seems like a deal we can't afford to miss out on.

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