Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Westbrook Deal a Bargain for Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals locked up Jake Westbrook for two years at a guaranteed $16.6 million. The deal includes a no-trade clause and mutual options for the third year. That sounds like a lot of money, but the deal is actually a bargain for the Cardinals. Westbrook traded some value for a guaranteed paycheck and with his recent injury problems, that makes sense for him too. But he probably sold himself short.

According to Fangraphs, Westbrook was worth $9 million in 2010, his first year back from major surgery. His 33 starts and 202 innings of work in 2010 bode well that he is completely back and should get even stronger a second year off of the operation. Westbrook is a ground ball pitcher with a heavy sinker. He doesn't walk that many batters and that figure should go down even more as the Cardinals insist on throwing strikes. Westbrook doesn't blow people away, never has, never will. But he gives you quality games and consistency. There really isn't any reason working with Dave Duncan that Westbrook can't win 15 to 18 games for the Cardinals in 2011.

And Westbrook seemed to like the National League. All of his peripherals came down once he joined the Cardinals late last season. Thanks to pitchers hitting in the senior league, Westbrook struck out a full batter more per nine innings in the NL with the Cardinals than he did in the AL.

Westbrook is 33, but as Carpenter has shown over the past couple of years, some of the surgeries they are performing now give new life to pitching arms and prolong careers. Westbrook has been a solid pitcher most of his career. He isn't spectacular, but he is capable of giving the Cardinals two quality years of consistent starting for a reasonable cost.

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