Now that the free agent market is open I thought
I would type up what my team the Houston Astros need to do to be
competitive next season. So here we go.
Brad Ausmus – Catcher
Mark Loretta – Infielder
Doug Brocail – Bullpen
LaTroy Hawkins – Bullpen
Randy Wolfe – Starting Pitcher
than Roy Oswalt the Astros started out with squat in the rotation.
Chris Sampson, Brandon Backe, Wandy Rodriguez and a series of minor
league pitchers. Brian Moehler ended up in the starting rotation early
in the season and ended up being a decent number 5 starter, but that
was the problem. The Astros have 4 number 5 starters already. But never
the less Brian was rewarded for his work and given a new contract
towards the end of the season.
At the trade deadline Ed Wade
pulled off a trade to get Left Handed Pitcher Randy Wolf. It was a bit
puzzling at the time, but I kind of understand what he was doing. He
picked up a starting pitcher to help a weak rotation and to possibly
lay the ground work for signing Wolfe for 2009 and beyond.
If the Astros start the season tomorrow this is what the rotation would look like.
1. Roy Oswalt
2. Wandy Rodriguez
3. Brian Moehler
4. Brandon Backe
5. Any and all Triple-A players in the organization
A rotation like that does not strike fear into anyone. The Astros need to sign two
free agent pitchers. And I mean sign two and not trade for two. The
Astros do not have enough talent to give up. What talent they have they
An Andy Pettite return would make a lot of sense for the
Astros. Andy is not the pitcher he used to be, but if he is brought
back to the National League his numbers would be a lot better.
Wolfe would also be a great signing if Pettite was added to the
rotation. Wolfe but up some very solid numbers after he was traded to
Houston. He went 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts with the Astros and a
combined 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 33 starts for the Padres and the
Astros. Not bad numbers for an end of the rotation starter.
the Astros were able to sign both Wolfe and Pettite that would give
them a very formidable rotation. But it would mean that the Astros
would have to non-tender Brandon Backe which would not hurt my feelings
in the least bit.
The new rotation would look like this.
1. Roy Oswalt
2. Andy Pettite
3. Randy Wolfe
4. Brian Moehler
5. Wandy Rodriguez
Yes, that would be an extreme left handed rotation, but that might be a good thing.
bullpen was probably the strongest link in the Astros chain. Jose
Valverde, Doug Brocail, Geoff Geary, Wesly Wright, Chris Sampson, Tim
Byrdak and LaTroy Hawkins all did a greatjob for the Astros and I
would love to have each of them back.
Chris Sampson struggled as a starter, but was great out of the pen. He did a great job as a long reliever.
Doug Brocail and LaTroy Hawkins are free agents and LaTroy has already
been resigned. Now if the Astros can resign Brocail the pen will be set
The catcher position was a
constant nightmare for the Astros last season. JR Towels was believed
to be the catcher of the future, but when handed the starting job he
failed miserably. Towels batted .137 as the starting backstop. His
numbers made Brad Ausmus look like Babe Ruth.
Even with Brad
Ausmus on the bench the Astros decided to split time with Ausmus and
Humberto Quintero. “Q” did a decent job behind the plate and his
offensive numbers were a big improvement over Towels, but they were
hardly respectable. “Q” posted a .226 batting average.
starting pitching, a new catcher is a high priority for the Astros. I
would not expect the Astros to sign a Pudge Rodriguez or Jason Varitek.
They will most likely be out of the Astros price range. I would not be
surprised to see Greg Zaun or Toby Hall in an Astros uniform next year
The Astros infield is pretty well
set for 2009 unless Ed Wade make a huge mistake and trades off someone.
Lance Berkman, Kaz Matsui, Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada should all be
back manning their positions for next season.
While Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence are locked into the corner outfield positions, center field is up for grabs. Or it should be.
Baldelli is the best free agent centerfielder out there, but he comes
with a high risk of injury. In the past three years he has not played a
full season. He has a ton of potential, but playing potential leaves a
big opportunity for failure. Just look and the Michael Bourn project.
trade for Juan Pierre would not be a bad idea at all. He is seeking a
trade and the Astros are seeking a centerfielder. He should come
cheaply in what the Astros would have to give up player wise for him,
but the Astros would surely have to pay all of Pierre’s contract. I am
actually ok with that.
I would also be ok with the starting job
being handed to Darrin Erstad. Why he even took a job as a bench player
just baffles me to begin with.
bench was a huge saving grace for the team. With injuries to Ty
Wigginton, Kaz Matsui and Carlos Lee, the bench had to eat up a lot of
playing time. Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum filled in great in the
infield, and Darrin Erstad was Darrin Erstad in the outfield.
but Mark Loretta are signed through the 2009 season. I would not expect
Mark to return, but after the performance of David Newhan I can see how
the Astros would let Mark leave. The Astros are sure to offer Loretta
arbitration because he is a Type-B free agent. It would be surprising
if Mark accepts it, but the Astros were surprised last season when he
accepted their arbitration offer.
If the Astros can pick up two
starting pitchers and a catcher I would expect them to be very
competitive in 2009. Will they be competitive enough to over take the
Cubs to finish on top of the National League Central Division? Probably
not. Then again, you never know.
I can no decide which is harder to wait for. Is it the start of the
regular season where every team still has a fighting chance? Or is it
the start of the off season free agent hot stove? On one hand you have
the actual start of play and something exciting to come home and watch
every day almost. Then on the other hand the excitement of “will my
team sign a big name free agent” is always exciting. It is just hard to
tell, but one thing is for sure. I can not wait until November 14th
gets here so the fun can really begin.
So for now I figured I
would type up an article on the trades and signings that have already
gone down. Some of these are rather boring, but some could have a real
impact on the 2009 season.
MLB Transactions: (or at least the “Best Of” anyways)
1. In a some what surprising move, the Washington Nationals sent Dmitri Young outright to Triple-A Syracuse.
After the 2007 season Young was named the National League Comeback
Player of the Year after only playing in 48 games in 2006. In 2008
injuries and difficulties in his battle with Diabetes limited Young to
only 30 games. Even so, Young be sent outright to Triple-A is a bit
puzzling to me.
2. The St. Louis Cardinals signed back up catcher Jason LaRue to a one year deal. LaRue played in 61 games for the Cardinals last year backing up Gold Glove winner Yadier Molina.
3. On November 6th the New York Yankees declined the option of Damaso Marte only to resign him six days later to a 3 year $12 million contract.
4. In an expected move the Texas Rangers exercised Hank Blalock’s $6.2 million option.
5. San Diego Padres exercised the $9 million option of Brian Giles.
With the state of the Padres right now no one was for sure if they
would pick up Giles’ option. On any normal circumstance it would have
seemed like a no brainer for the Padres to pick up his option.
6. Right handed Taiwanese pitcher Chia-Jen Lo’s dreams became a reality when he was signed to a minor league contract by the Houston Astros.
Chia-Jen Lo has always been a closer and the Astros seem inclined to
leave him in the role he feels comfortable. But do not worry Astros
fans, Chia-Jen Lo is not about to replace Jose Valverde anytime soon. The Astros believe the young Taiwanese pitcher is still a few years from the major league level.
7. LaTroy Hawkins
was rewarded for his stellar work out of the Astros bullpen. The Astros
signed the veteran pitcher to a one year $3.25 million contract. This
could mean the Astros are not as pressed in signing Doug Brocail even though they would also like to bring him back aswell.
8. The Washington Nationals acquired LHP Scott Olsen and OF Josh Willingham from the Marlins. To complete the deal the Marlins received for INF Emilio Bonifacio, RHP P.J. Dean and INF Jake Smolinski.
9. In the biggest offseason move so far, the Oakland Athletics acquired OF Matt Holliday in exchange for closer Huston Street.
Colorado also received LHP Greg Smith and OF Carlos Gonzalez. This puts
the Athletics in a position to contend in 2009. If they are able to
sign Jason Giambi to be their DH then the A’s may have a fighting chance.
10. The Kansas City Royals made a trade for power hitting first baseman Mike Jacobs Sending RHP Leo Nunez to the Marlins to complete the deal.
11. Shortstop Edgar Renteria will be a free agent now that the Detroit Tigers
declined his option. Edgar is classified as a Type A free agent and a
lot of teams may be unwilling to give up their first round pick for
him. There is an outside chance the Detroit Tigers can resign him to a
12. For the first time in a decade the purest swing in the game will be on the free agent market. The Chicago White Sox declined the option on veteran power hitting Ken Griffey Jr.
Even though Junior’s numbers have fallen off a bit do not look for him
to sign cheap. I would guess he would sign with a team he feels will
compete in 2009 so do not look for a Seattle reunion. (Even though he
said he is open to the idea)
13. Catcher Rod Barajas will be in Toronto in 2009. The Blue Jays have picked up the option on his contract.
14. Carlos Delgado had his $12 million option picked up for 2009.
15. The Boston Red Sox picked up Tim Wakefield’s
option for next season. In case you are unaware of how many option
years Wakefield has left on his contract I will let you know. The
number is indefinite. As long as Boston wants the knuckleballer then he
his theirs for $4 million a season.
Now, these are just the
transactions that have already gone down. These do not count the
endless Jake Peavy rumors that are swirling around. Or the Manny or CC
contract offers that have already been made.
I was kind of
hoping this blog would carry me into the beginning of the opening of
the free agent season, but sadly it has only brought me a couple of
Well, the General Managers meetings have come
and gone once again. Unlike last year when the Astros traded Brad Lidge and
Eric Bruntlett to the Phillies for Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary, there were no
major trades. (Although Lidge, Bruntlett, Bourn and Geary trade were not
considered a major trade when it happened) But we did get a lot of swirling
rumors to come out of the General Managers meetings.
The Jake Peavy Train
One of the biggest rumors heading into the meetings was of
course where the “Jake Peavy Train” will stop now that it has “left” San Diego. The Atlanta
Braves and the Chicago Cubs are two teams that seem to be leading the race to “arms”
so to speak. But like any race there is a dark horse in the mix and that would
be the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Braves seem to have the slight lead in the Peavy Derby because
they can not only match the Padres demand with talented young pitching, but
they could also throw Yunel Escobar to fill the hole at shortstop the Padres
will have when they trade off (probably in the same deal with Peavy) Kahlil
Do not think for a second that the Cubs are out of the race,
because they are not. Do not expect Jeff Samardzija to be involved in any trade
for Peavy or other trade for that matter. Contrary to some postings and
articles, Samardzija has a full no trade clause and not a partial no trade
Samardzija’s no trade clause does not mean the Cubs are out
of the race for Peavy, they still have Rich Harden that can be part of any trade
to land Jake Peavy. If the Cubs are willing to put Harden in the deal with a
young pitcher and Felix Pie or Ronny Cedeno I would be very surprised if the
Padres turn down a deal like that.
For the Dodgers to land Peavy would probably mean they
would have to give up a lot more talent considering they are in the National League
West with the Padres.
Matt Holiday’s surprise appearance at the General Managers
Meetings started the wheels of the Rumor Mill turning. Are the Rockies making the power hitting outfielder available for
trade? Does Holiday’s appearance mean the Rockies
have given up hope of signing him to long term contract?
New York Mets
Omar Minaya stated that the Mets would be more
active in the free agent market than the trade market. Signing a free agent
will not cost a team a current prospect already in the team’s organization. The
only thing a team will lose is a draft pick in next years draft.
The Houston Astros signed LaTroy Hawkins to a
one year deal for $3.5 million plus bonuses. Hawkins was rewarded for is work
for the Astros have they acquired him in a trade from the Yankees. Hawkins
posted a 0.43 ERA in 24 games.
Andy Pettite informed the New York Yankees that
he would like to pitch again next season. The Yankees have stated that they
want Pettite back, but it is widely believed he would have to take a
significant pay cut from the $16 million he made last season. A two year deal
should be a long shot for Pettite. Brian Cashman does not seem to be in too big
of a hurry to ink Pettite to a contract. The signing or retirement of Mike
Mussina will play a big role in Pettites return. There is a chance that Andy
could end up back in Houston
or with the Texas Rangers.
The Milwaukee Brewers have formally made an
offer to CC Sabathia. Right now they are sitting and waiting for a counter
offer from CC’s agent. The offer is believed to be a 5 year 1$100 million
Manny and the Dodgers “Window Dressing”
Manny has received is first official offer from
the Dodgers. Some call the offer a “Window Dressing”. It is believed to be a 2
year deal for $45 million and a third option year. I doubt that Manny and Scott
Boras have given this offer more than a seconds thought.
I know that every write has his, or her, own opinion about
different subjects. For example, I am of the high belief that Lance Berkman is
one of the most underrated players in the game.But yet there are many that
disagree with me, and that is fine. Each person is entitled to have a separate and
different opinion. Which is why I usually overlook articles that I disagree with,
but today when I was reading the Astros addition of “mailbag” I became
completely stunned. Not by the question that was asked, but by the answer which
Now before I give everyone the question and answer let me
state for the record that I highly respect the writings of Alyson Footer. 99%
of the time I at least partially agree with her. This, I guess, just happens to
be the 1% that I am in total disagreeance with her.
I am about to give you the question posed by what I am
to assume is an Astros fan, and then I will give you the answer Alyson Footer
gave. And then I will attempt to break down in detail why I believe she is so
way off base.
I totally agree with you on Jake Peavy being an
unrealistic trade. The few prospects we have, we need to hold onto to help the
Astros. The trade I’d love to see (if anyone would take him) is Miguel Tejada
for anything. He has the tendency to ground into double plays, and has
potential legal issues ahead. What are the Astros’ plans for him?
— Doug P., Athens, Ala.
You answered your own question, you
don’t need my help. Tejada’s power numbers decreased at an alarming pace as the
season progressed, as evidenced by the three home runs he hit in the second
half. His average was decent (.283) and he had a good September, hitting .295
with seven doubles and 11 RBIs, but he’s nowhere close to where he was a few
years ago, when he was a perennial MVP candidate. He has $13 million coming to
him in ’09, and he’ll be 35 in May. No one knows where he could be with his
legal issues next year. So, what are the Astros’ plans for him? What are their
He’ll be in a Houston uniform in ’09, he’ll play out his
contract, and he’ll probably move on after that. We’ll see. But dealing him is
not happening. Who would take him?
Now, I have to know what in the world both Doug P. and Alyson Footer are
thinking here. Miguel was a major improvement at shortstop over Adam Everette.
No, I am not in any stretch of the imagination saying that Miggy is a better
defensive shortstop than Adam. That is just simply not the case. Adam is hands
down the best defensive short stop in the game. There is not a better glove man
to be found. And before you email me and say that Derek Jeter let me just tell
you now. Get real.
Let me explain why Miggy is a huge upgrade over Adam. In 2007 the Astros
shortstop put up these monster numbers. A .232 BA 2 Homeruns 15 RBI 1 Triple 11
Doubles. In 2008 the Astros shortstop put up these so called dismal numbers. A
.283 BA 13 Homeruns 66 RBI 3 Triples 38 Doubles. In 2007 Adam was the
shortstop. Now before everyone runs to checkout how accurate my stats are take
note that Adam only played 66 games in 2007, but is 2006 stats mirror the stats
I just gave you. Plus Adam only played in 48 games this season.
Now let us take and put the stats aside. Let us see what other value Mr.
Tejada has for the Astros.
First no one can deny that the man is electrifying on the field. Just take a
look at how youthful the team looks. Jumping and giving high fives. Throwing “the
spotlight” at each other. It is a far cry from the casual forearm bump that
became standard operating procedure during the “Killer B” era.
How many times did you see Miguel go to the mound to talk with which ever
struggling pitcher was run out that night? You can not add that kind of
leadership into a contract. That has to be the player. The man on the field.
How in the world can anyone make a claim that Miggy is not that great of a
shortstop or have any value to this or any team? Is it because he is not
putting up the MVP type number anymore? Or is it because people are resentful
of the fact Miggy is caught in the steroid scandal? Or is it because Miggy
magically aged two years in one day? Whatever the reason may be, people really
should get over it.
Alyson Footer answer broken down:
You answered your own question, you
don’t need my help.
I am assuming this is in response to the
part of the question that asked who would want Tejada. Easy. Anyone that wants
to win and have a leader and great shortstop.
Tejada’s power numbers decreased at an alarming pace as the season
progressed, as evidenced by the three home runs he hit in the second half.
Yeah, I will give his power numbers dropped WAY off after
the All-Star break, but most of his offensive numbers were better than even
Berkman’s after the All-Star break. Maybe more of the problem is with the
hitting coach rather than the players.
His average was decent (.283) and he had a good September, hitting .295
with seven doubles and 11 RBIs, but he’s nowhere close to where he was a few
years ago, when he was a perennial MVP candidate
I will gladly take a .283 hitter in a position that has had
a BA of .249 in the previous 5 years.
He has $13 million
coming to him in ’09, and he’ll be 35 in May.
Am I the only one that has noticed how astronomical
contracts have gotten the past few years? If pitchers are starting to get $17
to $20 million a season to pitch every 5th day, then Miggy is well
worth the $13 million to play everyday.
No one knows where he
could be with his legal issues next year.
There seems to be no hurry to prosecute anyone for perjury.
Barry Bonds has been “under investigation” for several years before Miguel’s
testimony had been brought into question. The Astros could resign him for three
of four more years without worry.
So, what are the
Astros’ plans for him?
Hopefully to let him continue to be the team leader he
Each offseason and each trade deadline brings rumor upon
rumor about the Houston Astros considering trading Roy Oswalt. Before all that
starts I am going to let the world know Roy
is not going anywhere this offseason or even at the 2009 trade deadline.
First of all Oswalt has a complete no trade clause and has
no desire to play for any other team than the Astros, the only organization he
has ever been apart of in his professional career.
Grant it Roy
has been quoted as saying he would consider waiving his no trade clause if the
Astros approached him about it stating he would not want to play where he is
not wanted, and the Astros do want him. They realize that Roy is their ONLY pitcher. They have a number
one starter in Roy,
and four number five starters with the rest of the rotation.
Not to mention the fact that Drayton McLane Jr. is greatly
fond of the Astros one and only ace pitcher. He loves Roy so much he bought him a Caterpillar D6N XL
bulldozer for clinching the final game of the 2005 National League Championship
Series. Yeah sure, many a boss have bought extravagant gifts for employees that
go well above and beyond the call of duty, but a bulldozer is a pretty exact and
personal gift. You have to have a lot of love and admiration to know that a man
wants and needs a bulldozer.
Take away the fact that Roy has a no trade clause and is a admired by
team owner McLane, Roy is also a fan favorite. There is not an Astros fan alive
that does not know what this man means to the Houston Astros organization. They
have all seen his grit on the field and love him for what he does on the mound,
and for a team where image is everything this assures that the Astros organization
will not take a Public Relations hit like that.
The final reason Roy
remains with the Astros is probably the most important reason of all. Ed Wade
and his job security is the biggest reason. If by some chance Ed finds a way to
get around the no trade clause, McLane’s fondness of Roy and the PR night mare, Ed knows his
future with the club will ride on this single trade. If the Astros get a
pitcher or two and some minor leaguers and they turn out to flop or not live up
to expectations Ed will be looking for another job and the chances of Ed
finding a third GM job would be slim to none.
So mark my words, Roy will remain in an Astros uniform for
seasons to come.