One of my favorite pro athlete run-ins occurred in the men's room of Lumen in downtown St. Louis.
The private event space was hosting something or another where some Cardinal players came to hang out. It was the end of 2008 and Cardinal pitcher Kyle Lohse had just come off a 200 inning, 15-6 season entering free agency.
Feeling he was healthy and worthy of a top 2 in the rotation salary, the Cardinals singed him to a 4 year/ 41 million dollar contract.
So In Lumen there are 2 stalls and a toilet in the restroom downstairs. Walking in with my buddy, we notice Kyle Loshe is at one uninal and a random is in the stall.
My buddy goes to the other urinal and looks over at Loshe. When he looks back, my buddy says:
"HUGE... (beat)... contract."
I couldn't see his face, but he chuckled. For about 1/8 of a second, he was probably terrified. But the situation worked out for Lohse. Besides. There was a divider. Buddy couldn't see anything anyway. He's not a looker. Never look at the urinal. Ever.
Things always seem to work out for Kyle Lohse, though. He could have met a creeper. Instead he got a laugh.
Right after he singed his signature contract, he dropped to 117 innings and a 6-10 mark in 2009. In 2010, 92 innings and a 4-8 run. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was a -1.45 for the combined seasons. Meaning, he was getting 10+ million dollars to be a win and a half below what the Cardinals would have got had they plugged in the most average Major League pitcher.
We openly wondered if this was the worst contract the Cardinals ever signed.
2011 saw Loshe bounce back. Finally fully healthy.
And now, in 2012, he's got to be in the discussion for NL Cy Young after moving to 12-2 with a sub 3.00 ERA in a win over the Brewers Sunday night.
Oh, by the way, he happens to be a free agent after the season, too. A 33 year old in his prime. With Scott Boras as his agent. In other words, unless the Cardinals are looking to run this contract back for 2013-2017, then Kyle Loshe's run as Cardinal is entering its twilight.
Yes, it's too early to write off the chance that Lohse comes back. After all, he's been mum on what he's looking for in his next deal. But suffice to say, it's not going to be cheap. And the Cardinals aren't as quick to forget the first two years of this contract as we are. The chances of him re-upping in St. Louis have to be 50/50 at best.
I'm OK with that.
We'll see where this goes. If someone wants to overpay Lohse, I'll be a little sad to see him go. If the Cardinals can get him locked for 3 and an option for a good price, I'll love to have him back.
Just like in 2011, we have another Cardinal playing great baseball with one foot out the door. This time we're prepared, though. Armed with the knowledge that we can get through this either way.
Don't worry for Kyle Loshe. He'll be all good. Let's enjoy what he's got left in 2012.