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.