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The Steak is Served. Was it worth it?

Mar 25, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

kyle lohse getty Getty Images

Back in January, Scott Boras said this to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick regarding his then un-signed free agent clients, Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse:

“People call me all the time and say, ‘Man, your players aren’t signed yet. Well, it doesn’t really matter what time dinner is when you’re the steak.”

Now steak is served, and steak costs approximately $12 million a year over four years for the Bourn strip and $11 million a year for three years for the filet Lohse. Good deals on steak, or market price?

That’s the big question now, as the two most high-profile free agents subject to draft pick compensation have finally found homes.  Did the market work how it was intended to work, or did these two get boned because of the draft picks that were the cost of doing business with them?

I can sort of see it both ways.

On the one hand, in a vacuum, I’d say that Bourn and Lohse are basically worth what they got. This isn’t economics I’m talking about here. It’s gut. It’s me looking at their performances in recent years, their ages, their skill sets and consulting with all of the intangible crap that floats around ife and saying “yeah, that seems about right.”  $48 million and $33 million, respectively, are numbers that, if my team signed them for, I’d probably be able to live with. And if some team signed them for significantly more, I’d say “hmm, seems like an overpay.”

On the other hand, free agents don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in a market in which other guys sorta like them sign. And I see B.J. Upton and Jake Peavy and Edwin Jackson and a lot of other free agents getting deals that are either worth much more or, given the relative quality of the players involved, seem to be more valable for the guys in question than what Bourn and Lohse got. Put differently, I can’t help but think that those “overpays” I mentioned above would have come to pass but for the free agent compensation.

And now, with everyone of any stature signed, people are going to revisit that free agent compensation thing. Some are going to argue that it’s unfair. Some are going to argue that it worked the way it was intended and it kept free agent salaries from getting out of control. I don’t know that it truly worked either effect particularly well.

Shane Victorino showed that if you’re not quite worth a $13.3 million risk in a qualifying offer, you still can get that much times three on the market whereas, if he were better and worth the qualifying offer, he’d get nothing approaching it. The top end guys showed that owners will still pay near-silly money for free agents. Overall, there wasn’t a ton of discipline exacted on the market. But if there was, it seemed to fall disproportionately on a couple of guys.

In that sense I’m not sure it worked for either the owners or the players, whatever they intended when they negotiated the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. Because I can’t imagine that the desired effect by either side was “a couple of free agents will get what, in vacuum, sorta seems fair to some fans.”

  1. dowhatifeellike - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    I never saw Lohse getting more than about $10M per for 2-3 years. Teams are starting to wise up about giving monster contracts to pitchers. I figured if he dropped his asking price to $10M he’d have a job the next day.

    • Old Gator - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      Eleven million guaranteed for three years beats a $13.5 million qualifying offer all the way to hell. I wish Lohse lots of luck in Milwaukee and can recommend a fine Ethiopian restaurant on the north side of town if he gets tired of toothpicking the shreds of beef from between his teeth.

      • professormaddog31 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        There’s a great Belgian place within walking distance of downtown, as well, should he like a very tasty and authentic waffle to augment the steak.

      • umrguy42 - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:11 PM

        I know, I’ll probably get thumbs-downed for this, but I loved the BDs Mongolian Grill on the northside (Bayshore?) when I was there. Yeah, it’s a (small) chain, but man I miss that place.

    • stex52 - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Like OG said. Do you want a 13.3 MM$ guaranty at age 34 or would you rather have 33 MM$? Sounds pretty easy.

  2. tfbuckfutter - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Lohse is worth it….if Dave Duncan is included in the deal.

  3. heyblueyoustink - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    “You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? ”

    (Takes a bite of steak)

    “Ignorance is bliss.”

  4. nineroutsider - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Speaking of steak, the Giants cut through that moist filet Lohse like it was butter in Game 7…

    • salvomania - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Yes, Lohse did have a bad game that day.

      But he did win Game 3 to put the Cardinals up 2 games to 1, he won the one-game Wild Card play-in against the “unbeatable” Kris Medlen, and he threw 7 innings of two-hit ball in a no decision in the NLDS against the Nationals. The guy is a good pitcher.

      • nineroutsider - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        No doubt, I just wanted to work my Giants into the Lohse steak reference. He stymied my boys in Game 3 and has been a great pitcher over the years.

  5. Old Gator - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    A simple, fabulous au poive sauce: melt three tablespoons of butter (that’s butter, as in “not margarine”) in a pan. Take about three tablespoons of whole peppercorns, put them in a plastic sandwich bag and smash them into splinters with the side of a veal mallet, then empty into the butter. Saute at low heat for fifteen minutes. Add two tablespoons of all purpose flour and stir to make a roux, then slowly add one cup of beef stock or broth, at room temperature (NOT straight from the fridge), stirring constantly, to form a sauce base. Then add two cups of milk, nonfat half and half or, if your arteries are irrelevant to you, light cream – also at room temperature – slowly, stirring, until you get your nice gritty looking peppery sauce. You might want to add a little bit of red wine – room temperature! – to thin it out, and a little color and body. Then add a quarter of a cup of grated onion (the consistency of a gel), a quarter of a cup of finely chopped parsley, salt to taste, and let it simmer over a very low flame. Ohboy. Use it on thick juicy cuts like New York strip, Porterhouse, T-bone, fillet mignon or tournedos.

    Bon appetite, Kyle.

    • stex52 - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      I had a pretty damn good steak au poivre at Brasserie Max and Julie over in the Montrose area (I know you are aware what I am talking about). Only differences, I think they might not have put in as much onion. And they appeared to have pounded a pretty wicked crust of peppercorns into the steak itself. Excellent with full-bodied Graves. My gastric reflux complained a bit about all that pepper, but it was worth it.

    • joecool16280 - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Sounds delicious but thats not a real au Poivre sauce at all.

      Gognac, shallots, and heavy cream are musts.

      Technique is different too.

      • Old Gator - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        That’s why I called it a “quick and easy” version. Anyway, I could never see the point of using something as delicate as a shallot in something as intensely flavored as an au poive. And a good burgundy – or even a cheap one – really does a nice job of transitioning your taste buds between the pepper to the meat flavors that will mingle on your fork en route to your mouth.

      • stex52 - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:07 PM

        A burgundy would serve, but I think a cab is better for the peppery flavor. Personal preference in part, but it’s an easy choice. My wife almost always insists on cabs.

      • joecool16280 - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        That still doesn’t make sense. “Quick and easy” .in the culinary. world would mean cutting out steps that are somewhat time consuming and considered non-essential. All you have to do is switch out the ingredients.

        Coming from a classical french culinary background “au Poivre” means one thing and one thing only but I guess I can see how some might interpret it differently.

        Live to eat!

      • Old Gator - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:39 PM

        Thing is, you could skip the roux altogether and just go with sauteeing the peppercorns and then dumping in the broth, wine, cream and some cornstarch to thicken. That’s not quick and easy. That’s…well…lazy. The idea is to get the thing done in a home kitchen quickly enough to have your dinner before the sun comes up in the morning and still have a delicious meal in the process. I wouldn’t even try to compare this to what a professional chef in a properly equipped and provisioned restaurant kitchen – especially a French one – would do.

        To return matters to Earth, though, I also have a terrific way to make shit on a shingle using real thin sliced Boar’s Head Londonport roast beef instead of that horrible, sodium-suffused Armor dried beef….

  6. buggieowens - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Sometimes I cringe at OG’s posts and sometimes I want to print them out and post them on my frig. That recipe looks one to post on the frig. More cooking advice please!

    • tfbuckfutter - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM


      Frig means something else entirely.

      Unless that was what you meant, in which case….ew.

      • buggieowens - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        hahaha…thanks for needed correction! Indeed, I don’t want to frig that. And TF….if I say so myself…don’t be so glum about our Sox…2013 won’t be that bad (that bad, meaning 2012)…at least we’ve got the Doom Watch if the Sox tank.

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        I’m not glum.

        I just have no hope for them.

        Which is why I’m not glum. I find the awful contracts, the questionable lineups, the dozens of injuries to be humorous.

        That’s just in-grained in me….if my team isn’t good, I want them to be awful and for everyone else to be mad. I don’t know why, I just do. If they are just going to be “ok”….that’s not entertaining. I hope for all the guys I like to play great, and I’m not rooting for them (or the team) to fail….I just get a weird enjoyment when they fail embarrassingly.

        Even the 2011 collapse was somewhat enjoyable when I realized “Oh my God….I see where THIS is going”….so I got more enjoyment out of them collapsing then had they SQUEAKED into the playoffs and then been eliminated.

      • buggieowens - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        You are indeed a Red Sox fan then. I can understand your 2011 comments but I prefer the 2012 collapse over a 2011 or a 1986. Less painful for me personally plus it gave me some insight into how Cubs fans have survived over the years.

  7. tfbuckfutter - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Someone remind me how it worked out for the Brewers the last time they signed away a failed AL pitcher that magically found the ability to pitch in St. Louis.

    I think his name was Jeff Suppan.

    That work out well for them?

    • salvomania - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Suppan and Lohse are apples and oranges. Lohse’s third-best Cardinal season is still way better than Suppan’s best.

      Suppan’s best WHIP while a Cardinals was 1.37—which is below average.

      Lohse was 4th in the NL in WHIP last year and was in the top 10 the year before.

      He’s simply a way better pitcher than Suppan ever was, and, unlike Suppan, is coming off a pair of excellent seasons upon joining the Brewers,

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        Suppan was coming off 3 straight consistent decent-to-good seasons, 3 2/3 if you consider his work with the Pirates (which is actually more significant because he turned himself around before Duncan got his hands on him) and immediately jumped a half-run in Milwaukee.

        Lohse’s 3rd best Cardinal season included an ERA+ of 111…..Suppan’s best was 119….and Suppan also didn’t have 2 awful seasons in St. Louis. Lohse did.

      • salvomania - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        Suppan’s ERA+ of 119 came in a season in which he also allowed 24 unearned runs—a huge total—which makes it look at if he was more effective than he was.

        I was going by WAR, in which Suppan’s 3rd-best Cardinal season was 2.2, vs. Suppan’s best of 1.3.

        Lohse’s poor 2009-2010 were both injury-plagued and cut short. Not saying that didn’t happen or it doesn’t count, just that when he’s been healthy, he’s been effective.

        All Suppan’s trends were negative when the Brewers signed him: boatloads of baserunners with a WHIP that increased each season in St. Louis; a declining strikeout rate that had plummeted to under 5 per 9ip; and a climbing walk rate combined with higher-than-average home-run rates. All a recipe for long-term-deal disaster.

        There’s no way you can honestly describe Suppan’s St. Louis career before he was signed by the Brewers as being comparable to Lohse’s, except for in the most superficial and meaningless ways.

        Suppan was an innings-eater with terrible peripherals that were trending even more terrible when the Brewers signed him.

        Lohse is coming off a season in which he finished 7th in Cy Young voting when the Brewers signed him.

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:33 PM

        I’m not really disagreeing that Lohse wasn’t BETTER than Suppan.

        And your points about their performances are perfectly valid, I’m not even going to debate it.

        I even understand it’s not a perfect comparison…..but I do believe the chances are better than even that the results turn out the same.

        Lohse’s track record of pitching NOT for St. Louis is a lot longer than his track record of pitching FOR St. Louis.

        I wouldn’t put much faith in Chris Carpenter were he to have left St. Louis at the height of his success. The same goes for any pitcher turning his career around, and then leaving Atlanta during the Leo Mazzone years.

  8. flcounselor - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    So many people on these threads chewed out Boras because Lohse turned down the qualifying offer. I guess Boras knew better than to leave $20 million dollars worth of Wisconsin cheese on the table.

    How many of those commenters will come back now and be big enough to admit they would make for terrible agents?

    • bougin89 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      As a Brewer fan I know all too well that Boras knows when to accept the qualifying offer.


  9. gopherz - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    ho-hum WHO CARES?? baseball is a JOKE;

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