I guess I could gloat for a bit about picking the St. Louis Cardinals to best the Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series, but that wouldn’t be very "professional." After all, most of the pundits picked the Rangers to win their first ever championship. But I didn’t go with the herd. I took the opposite path and am now taking in the glory of my prognostication. Just ignore the man behind the curtain and my finishing 2286th of 2778 in my football salary cap game last week after scoring less than half the total points of the winner.
But that’s irrelevant. Just as it’s irrelevant the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs. The fact is they made it after the second greatest September comeback in baseball history and proceeded to bounce the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, and finally, the Rangers in winning it all. But now the real games and the parades are all over and it’s time for John Mozeliak and company to assess what they have going into the 2012 season and what pieces they’ll need to add.
A look at what St. Louis will need first requires a look at what obligations they currently have entering the start of the free agency period. Those under contract and assumed coming back are Matt Holliday ($17.00M), Chris Carpenter (10.5M), Kyle Lohse (12.188M), Lance Berkman (12M), Jake Westbrook (8.5M), Adam Wainwright (9.0M), Yadier Molina (0.75M), Jaime Garcia (3.375M), and Zack Cox (0.85M). That adds up to a total of $74.163M in salaries not counting the $0.75M buyout of the option on Octavio Dotel’s contract and a $1.3M buyout of the option for Rafael Furcal. There is still a $4M option on the contract of Arthur Rhodes St. Louis has to decide on.
After that, there’s still arbitration for Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, Ryan Theriot, and Skip Schumaker. The combined 2011 salary of these players was $10.241M and they all figure to make at least what they earned this past year. That brings the Cardinals up to a total of $84.404M even before pitchers and catchers report. Assuming they either offer contracts or arbitration to these five, that gives St. Louis 14 players with 11 left to sign.
Free agents to be include Nick Punto who made $0.75M in 2011, Corey Patterson - $.90M, Gerald Laird - $1.0M, Edwin Jackson - $8.75M, and, of course, Albert Pujols - $16.00M. Without Pujols, that’s another $11.4M which would bring their potential 2012 team salary to $95.804M for 18 players. If six players sign with the Cardinals for the minimum, that will be approximately $2.50M, bringing the total to $98.304M. St. Louis paid roughly $109M in salaries and bonuses in 2011. That leaves them just under $11.0M to sign Pujols without going over last year’s salary total.But the cream of this year’s free agent crop is reportedly asking for an Alex Rodriguez type contract, which would pay him $275M over ten years or $27.5M per year that would increase St. Louis’s payroll to $125M. So the Cardinals and Mozeliak have some tough decisions to make after winning the 11th championship in club history. The work will start in earnest behind the scenes on these tough decisions soon enough but for now Brian Walton and the rest of Cardinals nation can revel in a hard won championship and a season for the ages. Congratulations!