Izzy Gives Cardinals Sweetheart Deal

Jason Isringhausen's new contract addendum supercedes the old one, saving the team at least $3 million in previously-deferred salary.

While the terms of Jason Isringhausen's amended contract have been widely published – three more years with $25.75 million guaranteed – there remain two burning questions on the minds of Cardinals fans, if my email is any indication, that is.

1) Is Izzy really healthy? Or, did the team take a huge financial risk on a thirty-something pitcher with a bum hip?

2) What about the $3 million that was deferred from last year? Are the Cardinals liable for that, too?

First of all, regarding Izzy's health, rest assured he has been examined thoroughly. As in most cases, the team will acquire insurance to help mitigate a loss. However, in these situations, there is always a tradeoff to be made between affordability and risk. In other words, the team will at least be partially protected if Izzy were unable to play.

I have great news on the second point. A team official has confirmed that the total amount the team will owe Izzy is that aforementioned $25.75 million. This new amendment supercedes the old one.

Needless to say, what this means is that this contract is even better than it first appeared. Instead of $9.25 million this season, Izzy will make $7 millon. Last season's $3 million deferral being erased means the Cardinals got 47 saves last season for $4.5 million ($7.5 million - $3 million).

Another way to look at it is that the Cardinals were already committed to pay Izzy $13.35 million. That would cover his deferral, the 2005 season and his 2006 buyout. The Cardinals get him for two more seasons for an additional $12.4 million, or $6.2 million per season. A real bargain.

The fact that he agreed to this contract speaks volumes to me about what kind of man Jason Isringhausen is. He could have held out for more money. He could have not been so cooperative with the team on multiple occasions regarding his compensation.

Instead, it is clear that Izzy wants to remain a Cardinal and was willing to meet the team midway in doing so. It seems that remaining a member of this organization was more important to him than squeezing out the last dollar.

I have not spoken much with Izzy in the past, as he is not the loudest, nor seemingly the most accessible player. That is probably just because I didn't take the time to approach him. In ten days when I join the team in Jupiter, I am going to change that.

First, I am going to introduce myself. Then, I am going to thank Jason Isringhausen. Personally, he'll get my praise for removing a large share of my cynicism about the motives of today's ballplayers and publicly, I will thank him on behalf of the Cardinal Nation.

In addition, kudos also have to go out to General Manager Walt Jocketty and Assistant General Manager John Mozeliak. Masterminding this deal was a stroke of genius. I only wish they had a few more contract extension irons in the fire, but I am told nothing else is cooking right now. Too bad, though they'll have a hard time topping this one.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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