I've always thought of Jake Westbrook as one of those players who pitches better when he's trying to earn a new contract.
Last season he said he couldn't focus. Meanwhile he had the comfort of a guaranteed contract for 2012. This year, he has pitched much better and listened to coaching to throw strikes and not get cute -- which tends to only get him in trouble. The results were remarkably better.
So what do the Cardinals do? Instead of waiting until the end of the season to pick up Westbrook's option, they give him a one-year extension with a raise and an option. And during his next start he's terrible.
Pitching to a bunch of Class AA players that populate the Astros roster, Westbrook gave up seven hits and five runs in five innings Thursday. He added to the fun by making a critical throwing error. He put his team behind 4-0 in a blink. And when the Birds battled back to being down 4-3, Westbrook quickly gave Houston ANOTHER run.
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By contrast, Kyle Lohse was jilted by the Cardinals when the team opted to spend its limited resources on Westbrook instead. Every reporter in town has asked Lohse if he's upset the Cardinals apparently plan to pass on him and that GM John Mozeliak hasn't mentioned him in the team's future plans. But, through all the distractions, he went out the day before Westbrook's clunker and pitched the Redbirds into the playoff picture with a seven inning gem.
Sure, Lohse is going to cost more. And maybe the Cardinals couldn't have afforded him. But why did the team have to make this move now?
Couldn't it have avoided an un-necessary distraction by waiting until after the games are over to announce a deal with Westbrook -- either an extension or picking up his option? And shouldn't Mozeliak have talked to Lohse first -- either to see if a deal could be struck or to explain what he was doing with Westbrook so Lohse wouldn't have been blindsided?
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