When the St. Louis Cardinals signed Kyle Lohse to a one year, four million and some change deal this past spring it was a smart and thrifty move. Yet when they re-signed Lohse to a four years, 41 million dollar extension (with a full no-trade clause) it leaves some, including me, wondering what exactly they see.
Lohse's 3.89 FIP is solid, his 4.95 tRA, not so much. A low .300's BABIP seems a tad bit unsustainable for someone who gives up 22.1% liners. Assuming that regressed north slightly to .322, the midway point between .303 and .341 expected, Lohse would have given up an additional 18 hits this season. That's a bit concerning and unpredictable, however to Lohse's credit he doesn't walk too many and has been a groundball pitcher this season.
The issues with this signing are as follows:
A. Lohse has been a consistently below average pitcher (tRAs since 2004: 93, 93, 81, 112, 98, 87, 94.) You know who else has a tRA between 93 and 95? Guys like Livan Hernandez, Kevin Milwood, Garrett Olson, and Dave Bush.
B. Lohse had one of the worst strike swinging percentages of his career, tying 2005 at 6%. Greg Maddux gets 6.2%, Jarrod Washburn gets 6%, only pitchers like Jeff Suppan, Paul Byrd, Mark Hendrickson, Jeremy Sowers, Joe Blanton, the potentially non-tendered Daniel Cabrera, Scott Feldman, and Aaron Cook get between 5-6%. That is not very good company.
C. The Cardinals are paying him 41 million over four years.
D. Let me repeat that: the Cardinals are paying him 41 million over four years.
E. See points C and D.
Lohse is nearing 30 as well, so his prime is likely gone. The Cardinals are stuck with this guy for the next four years when they could've found someone just like him next spring for far less money. I don't know, maybe the Cardinals know something we don't, I sincerely hope so, otherwise this contact has the potential to look foolish very quickly.