Perhaps Cardinals fans are a bit edgy these days waiting for Albert Pujols to sign an extension. Or maybe they just have long memories. When former Cardinal Brad Penny posted a seemingly innocuous tweet about his recent workout, JoeSportsFan's Matt Sebek took umbrage, perhaps still upset that Penny's injury left the Cardinals in the lurch last year. One thing led to another, which wasn't surprising, given that it was at least the third time that the two had locked horns. Perhaps Penny should take some Twitter-PR lessons from Logan Morrison.
The Dodgers and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo reached agreement Wednesday on a one-year, $2.725 million contract, with another $675,000 possible through bonuses. According to Dylan Hernandez, Kuo can max out his incentives by finishing 55 games. Given that the most games he has ever pitched in an entire season is 56, that seems unlikely. But think for a moment about the incentive of finishing games. First, it's a usage-based stat, so it's largely out of his control. But second, finishing games, especially for LOOGYs isn't like, say, games started for pitchers, simply because starts imply multiple innings pitched, and therefore a reasonably consistent leverage index (a measure of pressure situations during the game). For a pitcher like Kuo, who has averaged about one inning per game the last two seasons, his leverage index can vary greatly depending on when he pitches that inning. And the last one may not be the highest. For example, his average leverage index in 2010, when he finished 16 games, was 1.51. But in 2009, when he finished only two games, it was slightly higher, at 1.55. Assuming both Kuo and manager Don Mattingly act in good faith to help the pitcher attain his goals, this would likely be a case of incentives being misaligned with the best interests of the team.
Vladimir Guerrero’s one-year, $8 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles makes for an interesting comparison with Lance Berkman's identical arrangement with the Cardinals. Neither player is the fielder he once was, but their new teams obviously believe they can still hit. The major projection systems do, too: Bill James figures Vlad is good for a .373 wOBA in 2011 and Berkman .385. Fangraphs' fans are more bullish on Berkman, whom they expect to hit for .366, whereas Guerrero "only" .345. Time will tell whether the Cardinals or O's got the better deal.
The 2004 Cardinals own the best regular-season record -- 105-57 -- over the last nine years. So it's understandable that their aging alumni would still carry some cachet around the league. Earlier this winter Jeff Suppan signed with the Giants, Edgar Renteria joined Scott Rolen and Walt Jocketty's Reds, Rick Ankiel signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals and even Hector Luna inked a minor league contract with the Red Sox. And now, Jim Edmonds has signed a minor league deal with his old team. Who's next, Roger Cedeno?
-- Matt Philip is the editor and principal writer of the blog Fungoes.