December 22, 2015

#Cardinals sign Mike Leake: "meh" is my best response

Mike Leake: Your new
nondyanmic Cardinal
So, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has signed a B-grade John Lackey in former Reds stalwart Mike Leake, after losing the original John Lackey to the Cubs this offseason, for the same per-year price as Lackey, only for at least three if not four years longer.

Actually, that's not quite fair, perhaps. Leake is maybe a B-plus John Lackey, not a B-grade Lackey. But, we didn't need a back-of-the rotation pitcher so badly as to sign one to a five-year deal, let alone with a sixth option year. (It's a mutual option, not a player option, so that's not quite so bad as a player option.) He may not be a No. 5 starter, but he's no better than No. 3.

Mo had earlier promised no "dynamic signings." Well, this isn't a dynamic signing, and I'm not sure it's that good of one in general.

Seriously, unless a clear No. 1 or No. 2 starter was available, Mo shouldn't have been signing a pitcher to a six-year contract.

Unless Mo has clear evidence he's not telling the public about Carlos Martinez's shoulder (which is always possible), a rotation of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Martinez, and Jaime Garcia (with allowance for his injury history) and a fourth/fifth starter would work out fine while Lance Lynn was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. I'd rather the team had continued to explore seeing if Mark Buehrle wouldn't do a two-year deal to slot behind the big three.

Also unfortunately, this means Mo is probably done "big game hunting" unless he uses some Memphis-level pitching like Tyler Lyons or Tim Cooney to make a trade. It means that the likes of Chris Davis are surely off the table now. I don't know if a Denard Span or other outfield addition in free agency, which I said would be acceptable when paired with a pitching upgrade, is going to be done, either.

And, at St. Louis' paper of record, and paper of overpaid publishers, Ben Hochman tries to sell fandom on Leake, with a very selective column. When you ignore his low K rate and tout him as a batting pitcher (when in reality he's nowhere near a Zack Greinke and hasn't been plus-.200 since 2012), you're stretching.

Worse, shock me, Jeff Gordon is right, and for the second time in a week. Somebody must have spiked his coffee. Gordo honestly calls him a No. 4/5 starter (while noting that he's a good ground ball pitcher that could benefit from pitching in St. Louis). Even as contracts inflate, you don't give those guys what Mo just paid. (That said, note to Gordo: Tyler Lyons was 27 himself last year. Same age as Leake. There's no more "too soon" or "rushing him." He's not an MLB starter, not from this corner's perspective.)

Bernie Miklasz, who departed the P-D to ESPN radio (with Hochman replacing him under an acute version of Peter Principle) makes a somewhat better case than Hochman, but still falls short. He's right on noting Garcia's fragility is an issue, and that Lyons and Cooney aren't all that, but still, if he, like Hochman, is reaching into the "great hitting pitcher" bag, he's stretching.

If the Cards are going to overpay in free agency, I'd rather they overpaid for a potential Big Kahuna, not a "meh."

Ot, that Mo had paid what the Cubs did, or a bit more, for Lackey.

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