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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

The Cardinal Nation Blog 2011 top story #20: Jaime Garcia’s extension

On July 13, the St. Louis Cardinals made an announcement that reminded us that the club continues to make smart, proactive moves to lock up the services of their young stars long before their free agent years arrive.

The Cardinals and left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia came to terms on a four-year contract with two club options for 2016 and 2017. The deal is worth $27 million over its first four years and could grow to $49.5 million over six.

This deal follows a formula the club used earlier with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Garcia’s salary is now set for his three arbitration eligible years and he remains under team control for as many as three of his potential free agent seasons as well. In return, the player receives earlier financial security.

Garcia, 25, had established considerable momentum coming into the negotiations. He was 9-3 with a 3.23 ERA during the first half of the season. That came on the heels of one of the best rookie campaigns in 2010 where he was 13–8 with a 2.70 ERA (fourth in the National League), ranking not only among top rookie pitchers, but also the top Major League pitchers in several categories.

Garcia’s career mark is 27–16, with a 3.27 ERA and 296 strikeouts in 374 innings. In 2010, his 2.70 ERA was the lowest by a Cardinals’ left-handed starter since John Tudor recorded a 2.40 ERA in 22 starts (25 games) during 1990.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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69 Responses to “The Cardinal Nation Blog 2011 top story #20: Jaime Garcia’s extension”

  1. crdswmn says:

    I want to see Mo lock Yadi up with an extension as soon as possible. The last thing we need is to get Pujolsed again come next offseason. With the Lohse and Westbrook contracts coming off the books, the money should be there.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I would like to see Wainwright handled, too. Just remember that it takes two to tango. Even if the Cardinals approach the players, if they are not amenable, it won’t happen. We most likely wouldn’t hear anything until the day deals are announced, nor should we. On the other hand, if nothing gets done in advance, there will be a vocal segment that will accuse management of being stupid, short-sighted and cheap – as if they forgot their own successful strategy. I am continually amazed that people who should know better think that teams can magically extend players without acknowledging it is the player who ultimately holds the power over what he signs and when (as it should be).

      • crdswmn says:

        Whoa, Brian, put down the soapbox and back away slowly. 🙂

        I wasn’t suggesting it was as easy as sticking a contract in front of Yadi’s nose and handing him a pen. I understand how the process works. I was only saying, as a fan, that I would like to not go through the same ordeal with Yadi as we did with Pujols and some assurances that there was at least some steps in that direction would suffice. You know, like just saying we’re talking with Yadi about an extension. I think most fans would be happy to hear that much.

        • RCWarrior says:

          It will be interesting to watch Yadi and see how he approaches this next step in terms of a new contract. Remember Yadi was number two on the list of most powerful guys in the clubhouse right behind Albert, and primarily because of Albert so he will take a power hit this year. And who knows how he will handle that………The Latin players see things differently it seems to me so it will be interesting to watch this next year unfold with regards to Yadi. He, like Albert, has felt a lot of love……..primarily because of Tony…..This year, no Tony, and subsequently there will not be anywhere near the love for Yadi that he has been shown. Fun to watch how it goes.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Sorry, but my site, my soapbox. 😉

          You just happened to hit a hot button of mine. ‘Twas no preaching intended about your personal understanding.

          Clubhouse chemistry/relationships, etc. could change quite a bit in 2012 with no Albert and a new manager. It will certainly bear watching but no one can predict with any accuracy how Molina or anyone else will react.

          I don’t think the front office should say one word publicly about extensions until they are done.

      • RCWarrior says:

        I agree Brian to a point. I believe most players if they are offered something fair that they would jump on it with both hands and both feet but those club friendly sweetheart deals only get done when the player is a good distance away from free agency. The closer the player gets to free agency the less likely they are going to sign a discounted contract.

        The Rays have made more than a couple of excellent deals with their players but those deals were made really early in the process. They just signed their lefty starter for a ridiculously cheap contract just a little it ago.

        There is a bit of a gamble on someones part when a long term deal is signed.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Also remember that both Molina and Wainwright already signed those deals covering their arbitration years-plus previously. Those are the contracts they are on today. Looking forward, we are talking about the prime of their careers, all free agent years. Much of the motivation of the player to sign early is gone. They already have the financial security. They don’t have to deal with aggravation of arbitration annually. Now it is the time for the big payday.

          Putting it simply, if I was Molina or Wainwright, it would take a “blow me away” deal to get me to sign now. We all know the Cards don’t tend to make those kinds of offers. Of course, their risk in not doing so is the player eventually walks like Albert.

          I am just waiting for the tough talkers to start with the “give Molina an ultimatum or trade him now” bluster any day now… I may be in the minority, but with the benefit of hindsight, I would take the 2011 World Championship any day over having traded Pujols last year or the year prior. Further, I don’t see the current Cardinals in rebuilding mode and I believe they have a better shot in 2012 with Molina rather than without him.

          I spent two years trying to register the exact same points about Albert, but you never accepted it then, so I am not expecting any different reaction now. 😉

          • RCWarrior says:

            I follow you Brian but where is the fun in everyone following the leader? Albert was a special case in my mind and I am still bumfuzzled as to how the Cardinals could let him get away. He will end up being one of the top 5 players to ever play the game so in my eyes no matter how you spin it the Cardinals dropped the ball. I understand we disagree but if the Cardinals didn’t plan on making a competitive offer to Albert then they should have dealt him years back. The fact that they didn’t do that led me to believe they were prepared to offer him his value. So color me more confused than I normally stay. 🙂

            I don’t believe Adam or Yadi to be anywhere near the player that Albert was in terms of popularity or iconic status so their contracts should follow the strict business guidelines that the Cardinals prefer to follow. Albert was special so I thought he should be treated like that special player.

            Boy was I wrong. 🙂 But that is just one of many things I am wrong about…..and I know BW is keeping a running tally. 🙂

            • blingboy says:

              RC: “. . . if the Cardinals didn’t plan on making a competitive offer to Albert then they should have dealt him years back. The fact that they didn’t do that led me to believe they were prepared to offer him his value.”

              Maybe the Cards did plan on making a competitive offer, so they didn’t trade him. It is reasonable to think that if you are looking at Albert’s value after his monster 2009 season, you would come up with a much different number than looking at him after 2011. In other words, the Cardinals view of Albert’s value evolved, and the offer made this winter did reflect their current opinion of his value. The Angels had a different opinion of his current value. That doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with how the Cards handled the whole thing.

              • RCWarrior says:

                I just disagree but do so knowing many people have different thoughts on this entire subject. Albert to me was the type of player that you overpay for to keep him in your uniform for his entire career. He is not like every other player. He is a certain HOF guy if he didn’t play another game imo. To have one of the all time greats play for one organization only would have been something special in my mind.

                Albert obviously had at least 2 offers that were substantially better than the one the Cardinals made and maybe 3 if you believe the news reports. The cardinals did offer Albert what they thought he was worth. Thats like going to the Mercedes dealership(and theres only 2 or 3 of these models on the ground in the US) and saying I really expect you to sell me that top of the line car but I really can’t afford that top of the line price. So would you take 80% of what you have on the sticker…..And they will say wellllllllll……NO. I’ve got a couple of people over here in the waiting area willing to pay whats on the sticker. Can you say as you leave that you made a competitive offer? Nope you can’t. You never had a chance to buy that car.

                • blingboy says:

                  My dad and I were talking about the whole Albert thing over a cold one last evening. My mom, a frail little old lady now, says “Happiness has dynamic pricing, the more you have, the more it costs”.

                  Can’t argue with that.

                  My hope is that Albert will be happy being the shittiest player ever for the next ten years.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Nope, bb. Not acceptable. In a bad breakup, one always has to find someone to take the blame. 😉

                • RCWarrior says:

                  And you may be right Brian………maybe it was just never meant for Albert to play for the Cardinals for his entire career. I just wished that it would have happened because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen in todays marketplace. I just expected the Cardinals to do like the Yankes in the Jeter negotiations and overpay to keep Albert in the Cardinals uniform. Just wasn’t meant to be.

                  I just wanted the Cardinals to care a little more about it. It wasn’t like Albert was overpaid these last 10 years.

            • Bw52 says:

              RCW-thats one today.Not really keeping score.FWIW i think everybody was surprised that Albert left except Westy and he`s out in his own universe.

          • RCWarrior says:

            I don’t believe Yadi would bring much in the way of a motherload of players like Albert would have so I would keep him. My gut tells me he will go the way of Albert when all is said and done but he is not Albert so I don’t think it will be earth shaking when it happens.

          • CariocaCardinal says:

            Guarantee me a championship in 2012 and I won’t mention trading Molina.

            Really hard to play that game in retrospect. Heck, for all we know we might have won 2 World Series if we had traded Albert before the 2010 season.

            • Brian Walton says:

              My take is very simple. If you believe you are a championship caliber team, you do not trade your most valuable asset for a parcel of lesser individual assets with potential upside in the future. If you are rebuilding, doing the opposite may be your best long-term move, even if there is an immediate hit to your competitiveness.

              • Bw52 says:

                Brian-Yadi is going to be 30 this year and the wear and tear will be watched closely by the Cards.Yadi`s offense was good last year but his defense was down (Gold glove or not}.Will Cards be wary of paying a guy who has physical problems now and big dollar deal after 30.I think Cards are very careful before Yadi gets another deal .

      • crdswmn says:

        You mention Waino as well, and I am just as anxious (if not more so) about keeping Waino as Yadi. My anxiety is tempered with the knowledge that we have an additional year with Waino.

        The thing about Waino, though, is I sense that there may be less to worry about with him simply because he seems very content with his situation here. That is NOT to say that he wouldn’t leave, or that he wouldn’t be tempted by more money, I am not going down that delusional road, even with Waino. I just don’t sense the egocentric impulses with him that I did with Pujols (and even with Yadi). I could very well be wrong, he may be the biggest ego on the planet and he is just better at hiding it, but I just don’t have the anxiety (yet) that I do about Yadi.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Some would argue that Albert was just fine until the team paid Holliday more money….

          • crdswmn says:

            Yeah, I’ve heard that argument. But I just sense a much different type of personality for Waino as opposed to Albert. He seems more emotionally grounded.

            Just call me Dr. Phyllis. 😛

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Its all about money. Albert had Lozano as his agent before Holliday arrived. Because Musial and Gibson could not leave, some Cards fans might have assumed Pujols would stay for team records. Players and their agents are much more mercenary. Ike is not still President. Its a different time.

  2. blingboy says:

    Should things work out for Garcia and the contract run its full course, then he will be the same age as Albert is now when it expires. The Cards will have benefitted from his youthful prime years, and will have an excellent idea of what he is likely to have left, so as to make a smart decision about furthering the relationship. A proven model.

    Yadi and Adam follow the model too, although Adam’s lost season complicates it a bit.

    Freese will be arb eligible 2013, so this year will be the time to decide on him. But he’s older. Same with Craig next year. Those guys will only have one shot at the big contract, as 4-5 years will take them on through their prime. That could make it tougher.

  3. friendmouse says:

    One of my first thoughts when I heard the news flash about Albert was “Oh, man! I wonder how Yadi feels. Hmmm, maybe Yadi will pull an “Albert,” and become and Angel [sic] himself when he gets the chance.” It is amazing how well money talks.
    And, c-wmn, I have the same feelings as you do concerning Waino…I believe he’s long-term.

    But to the topic, J-Gar seemed to tail off almost immediately after he signed the big contract. I always wonder about those things. Perhaps the final realization that “poverty” is forever behind them may, in some instances, cause an unintended and unconscious “relaxing” of the competitive fires which have burned within them since their youth, with a chip on their shoulder to prove their worth, which drove them to excellence. But that’s only natural, I suppose, if the motivation has been financial security. To others, it’s not the financial so much as it is the competitive pride that they’re the best at what they do, so they’re driven to prove it constantly, regardless of the size of the bulge in their bank account.
    Thanks for sharing your soapbox with me for a moment, Brian. I’m now stepping off it. 🙂

    • Brian Walton says:

      fm, to be more complete, I should have posted Garcia’s record after the signing as well. I will correct that now.

      From July 13 through the end of the regular season, we went 4-4 with a 4.07 ERA in 13 starts. 58 K/16 BB in 77 1/3 IP.

      He went 0-2 with a 4.21 ERA in five post-season starts. 21K/8 BB in 25 2/3 innings.

    • blingboy says:

      Achieving lifetime financial security would be a monumental, life-changing event (assumption not based upon personal experience). Especially for a family man. No way to tell in advance how a person will react. Also no way to tell what the long term reaction will be compared to the immediate reaction.

      Peel back that layer, and there is the home/road psychological thing going on with Jaime that was talked about last season.

      Plenty of reason to stay tuned.

  4. crdswmn says:

    Can anyone think of a team that might be willing to give Prince Fielder a bigger contract than Albert? Many people think that is what Scott Boras is looking for. Without the Yankees, Boston and Philly (and now the Angels) to bid, who can afford that?

  5. Brian Walton says:

    An in-depth Freese article from ESPN The Magazine. Matt Holliday’s leadership comes through.

  6. Kansasbirdman says:

    I didn’t get to the middle infield discussion before topics moved to this page, but there was discussion regsrding signing a FA 2B. I’m not aware of any top flight free agent second basemen.

  7. Brian Walton says:

    My article on the signing of J.C. Romero.

    • crdswmn says:

      At the risk of being called “wonky” by Bling, I say “bleh” about Romero.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Hard to argue with his leftie splits.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Other than Fielder (who may be out of the division anyway) and Votto, who are the NLC lefties so good they wouldn’t be pinch hit for?

          • blingboy says:

            Part of the idea is to get into their bench, get their subs out there.

            Bernie makes a good arguement that Romero should do fine if used strictly as a loogey. It seems like part of Miller’s downfall was Tony deciding to expand his role.

            • Brian Walton says:

              I said the same…


              how often does a LOOGY only get to face lefties and how many important lefties remain in the NL Central?

              Any manager that sees Romero come into the game will just PH a right-handed batter and then odds are that it will get ugly. Only batter I am sure would stay in is Votto. Are there others?

              • blingboy says:

                I get the point about the lack of big bat lefties, and its a good one. But, especially late in games, a big bat righty isn’t always sitting there ready to come in. Bringing in Romero to get a lefty starter out, only to have him face a light hitting utility guy of the bench. Scrabble would be the first guy used, if there’s a worrisome righty in the shadows.

                Of course, he may not make it through ST, if history is a guide.

                Any word on contract terms.

              • CariocaCardinal says:

                I wasn’t aware we only played teams from the NL Central.

    • blingboy says:

      I take it we are better off than re-signing Rhodes?

      I guess DD can slap the paddles on this guy and see what happens.

  8. blingboy says:

    The Mariners are looking to sign some Japanese SS, almost ready AAA type.

    But of course, this is a Cardinals oriented site, so no reason to mention that.

  9. blingboy says:

    Believe it or not, earlier today I was on the verge of complaining that Berkman was still an OF on the roster matrix, but thought better of it, after the last time. Glad its straightened out though. I’ll say nothing about Skip the second baseman for a while.

    If I remember from past years, the minor leaguers will get moved up once rosters are announced at the end of ST.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Yes, I slipped Berkman over today. Surprised it was noticed so quickly.

      Yes, the next major update to team assignments will be at the end of spring training. (I do provide the team designations of those in camp during spring training as well but only post those rosters on the main site for subscribers.)

  10. JumboShrimp says:

    I love the Romero signing. Released by 3 different teams in one year! Its exciting to think how low his salary could be. I will guess $725,000. Romero should be a real upgrade over Tallet, who was awful, poor man.

    • blingboy says:

      We paid Tallet 750 and he hadn’t been cut by anyone. 725 seems excessive.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Tallet was horrendous during 2010 for the Blue Jays. He had been good before. Tallet was a bounce back bet. We lost.
        Romero has been cast off by richer teams and is post-prime. Hes not a bet to rebound to a high level, rather we just hope to squeeze a little usefulness out of the twilight of his playing days.
        Glad to see he innocently imbibed steroids and then sued somebody as an excuse. Smart. Love to see that Ryan Braunian craving to win. Good for the Clubhouse. They won’t catch you most of the time, JC.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          If JC works out, we might add him to our management team, after his playing days are over. Ryan Franklin is scouting Oklahoma for us now, while Big Mac is helping guide the attack. They should have sued somebody too, about those naughty nose sprays!

  11. JumboShrimp says:

    2012 will be the last year of Yadier’s 4 year deal and he will be emancipated. Just one more year and then liberated from team control. Already a rich man, this will be his one shot at even greater wealth. Didn’t one of Yadier’s brothers play for the Angels?

    • friendmouse says:

      Of course I’m sure that was a “rhetorical” question from you, Jumbo, but yes…Jose played 6 1/2 years for the Halos. I’d guess Yadi has had those sorts of thoughts cross his mind just a bit this past week. Angels still have plenty of leftover dinero from the Fox deal- heck, they could buy our whole ballclub with the coin they’ve got! How much longer of a deal do with have with FoxSports-Midwest? Maybe they should “re-negotiate” that deal with us..otherwise, we may go to the highest bidder when the contract is up. Two can play that game, can’t they?!

      • JumboShrimp says:

        It may be no co-incidence that after Albert left, two of our additions are Furcal and Romero, to replenish the Latin contingent. Yadier is from Puerto Rico, like Romero. It would be nice to add Carlos Beltran too.
        Maybe if the ancient Mariner Arthur Rhodes hailed from the Carribean, he might have been invited back.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        An odd thing about catchers, given how important they are, is there salaries tend not to be as enormous as some other positions. Molina is making $7MM this year and that is highish for a catcher. Joe Maurer has an enormous deal from the Twins, $23MM/yr, but this is unusual and did not help them in 2011. Posada of the Yankees reached $13MM/yr.
        What should Yadier command next winter, if then a healthy free agent of all star caliber? Three years? $10MM/yr? $12MM? Yadier is not going to land $254MM.
        The Cards could probably afford to re-sign Molina. It may be a question of where he will choose to play, factors other than money.

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