It's a shame the Cardinals hold an option on Jake Westbrook for 2013 instead of Kyle Lohse.
Westbrook, except for a brief period when he was picked up in trade in 2010 and the first month of this season, has been pretty consistently terrible. Lohse, on the other hand, has recovered nicely from the forearm problem that bothered him for a season and a half at the start of his current four-year deal. And I wouldn't mind seeing the Birds extend Lohse for a year or two.
Lohse has been a welcome stabilizing force. Last season he filled the shoes of Adam Wainwright quite nicely after Wainwright was hurt in spring training and missed the whole 2011 campaign. This year he's basically doing the same thing in the absence of Chris Carpenter due to shoulder trouble.
In spring training when there were rumors that Lohse or Westbrook could be dealt, Lohse said he would reject any deal because he wants to remain in St. Louis. So, if he wants to stay and the Cardinals want him to stay... couldn't something reasonable be worked out.
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I know pitching prospect Shelby Miller is projected to possibly make the St. Louis rotation in 2013. And the Redbirds already have Jaime Garcia, Carpenter and Wainwright under contract -- not to mention Lance Lynn. But you just can't have too much pitching -- especially with Carpenter's injury history. And I am not counting any chickens on Miller until he's had a few major league starts under his belt.
The Cardinals have about $85.5 million committed to their roster in 2013, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. So there isn't a whole lot of money to spend and remain at about the $110 million to $115 million range the team budget is set at. But, if Lohse wants to stay, he needs to be reasonable. The Cardinals could pay him $10 million or $11 million and still have room to address the rising earning power of David Freese, Jason Motte and other arbitration eligible players.
It seems certain that Lance Berkman won't be back after a season full of injuries -- especially with the emergence of Allen Craig and Matt Adams. So that's one less thing St. Louis needs to spend money on. Now is the time to see if Lohse would take a two-year extension with an option.