When the best moves are the ones you don't make
I have some longer thoughts on the Cards’ inactivity thus far, and the fan base’s agitation over them, but I wanted to get this out now:
Five years for Aaron Rowand, when he’ll turn 31 in the first year of the deal, is just nuts. He’s had two seasons in the Major Leagues when he was really an offensive asset — ’04 and ’07, both times playing in hitter-friendly ballparks. In ’02, ’05 and ’06 he was a liability with the bat, and in ’03 he was a league-average hitter.
His glove is somewhere between very good and excellent, depending on the year and who you believe, but we’re not talking about Andruw Jones in his prime here. And by the end of the deal, odds are he won’t be an asset in CF anymore, if he’s even a CF at all at that point. So he’ll HAVE to be a significant plus bat for the contract to make sense at that time — and in his prime, his late 20s, he’s been less than a 50-50 proposition to be a significant plus bat.
This is all doubly true to the extent that the Cardinals were considering him, because they have a cost-controlled player ready very soon in CF. So to add Rowand, they would have had to do one of two things: move Rasmus, which takes away much of his value, or move Rowand and bank on those odds that he’s a plus bat for a corner spot in even MORE years of the deal.
I’m sure I’ve already received 10 teeth-gnashing emails from fans about why the Cardinals are sitting on their hands while everyone else gets better. Well, I don’t think the Giants got better today. Their ’08 team may be a smidge better, but their franchise health is assuredly worse.
Deals like this are why I just don’t share the outrage of many fans that the Cards aren’t dipping into the FA market this winter. Big dollars in the short term rarely hurt you — the Andruw Jones deal is at least intriguing, if not the best of the winter (as Joe Sheehan argued, but I don’t really agree). But big dollars in the long term, for players who have already turned 30? Guh.