The Astros as we all know are in a bit of a bind. Management wants to reduce payroll and presumingly go with a younger lineup, the problem with this is that the Astros have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and the weakest part of the system lies at the upper levels. So throwing out a lineup that looks a lot like the one the folks at Round Rock saw all of last year is not likely to keep you competitive. Now blowing up the team and starting all over has become a rising sentiment by astros fans the past couple of months, but the problem with this strategy is we are past the stage where rebuilding is the smart thing to do. First of all are star players will no longer net the same return as they are all pretty much coming off down years, and second of all we have a huge contract that can not be moved in left field. My beliefs are that the astros should try to put together the best team possible, each year while abiding within their salary means, sacrificing draft picks, or trading away players from the 08 class or beyond weakening our system even further.
With these challenges in mind here are three options I would look at in addressing each of the Astros needs.
1. Now this year's free agent class of pitchers is by no means to heavy, but there are a number of interesting reclamation projects as it has been pointed out a numerous amount of times on this site. In rebuilding the staff the astros need to seek out the highest potential bargain reclamation projects they can find, in doing this you are going to have to deal with huge amounts of injury concerns, but it will be worth it if they hit on the right guy. The goal for wade here should be to get a guy that can be looked at as a 2b rather than a three, which would give the stros a daunting staff that arguably already holds 2 aces. The guys im looking at here would include Ben Sheets and Eric Bedard. Seriously, how much could it really cost to attain one of these guys, im not sure its going to be much more than the 7mil that some astros fans wouldnt mind throwing at tejada, or the close to 10 mil valverde could possibly get, and the payoffs for these guys are a hell of a lot higher.
2. Im not sure the stros are going to want to risk it all on a pitcher with the injury concerns that Bedard and Sheets come with, especially for the type of money they might get, so lets look at plan B. This is called the sign two under the radar guys that are coming off injuries too but also have high potential plan, long winded i know. My choices for these two guys would be Noah Lowry and Brett Myers, a lefty thats only twenty nine and has at time been brilliant over the course of his career, and a guy was the number two on championship winning and caliber teams the past two years, thats not all either, he also has a good track record as a closer as well, thats called versatility my friends.
3. Fill out the back of your rotation with a solid four that is dependable. This plan calls for to sign either Garland or Doug Davis and rely on the fact that more times than not they will give you the chance to win every fifth day. It also requires a little more faith in Norris and Moehler.
The rotation will be the most interesting aspect of the offseason for the astros, and will probably be the telling point at where the astros will go with next year. If they decide to let Felipe and Wesley "compete" for the fifth spot during spring training, expect a long season of watching chris johnson whiffing on another strike three, however, if they are willing to take a chance here look for the astros to be mildly entertaining to downright enjoyable next year if they can strike with the right combination.
1. My first preference would be to let Keppinger take over the second base job, he has proven to be reliable both offensively and defensively the past year, and i like his steady but not spectacular game.
2. The second best option that the stros have is to keep kaz put and hope for the best. Now kaz is probably a little better player than keppinger, but overall i think his injuries disrupt the continuity of the lineup, and i like jeff's power a little better so i would give him the nod.
3. a willy old veteran i like to call brad ausmus.... please, please can we bring him back???? i promise ill behave, please please please???
other veteran backstop options that might be good backup options if you trust castro for the whole season next year are bringing back coste or q, toby hall, or josh bard.
well there you have it, let me know what you think.
3. Edwin Maysonet, he played well in the time he got last year, but how long could we really expect that to hold over the course of a season? I dont see the astros spending any more money at the second base position than they already have so in house candidates are pretty much what we are stuck with, hopefully we can stay a little bit healthier at this position than in years past.
1. Here is another spot where we are pretty much going to be taking a leap of faith and hoping our moves pan out. We dont have the money to retain Tejada, and i would not want to because of his lack of power production, so we are going to have scour the free agent list looking for a quality third basemen. I do not like the idea of Johnson starting at all, and working within our budget constraints we don't seem to have enough money for the Beltre's, Figgins', or De Rosa's of the world so again we must look at the cheap high risk high reward players at the bottom of the free agent list. My first choice is Garrett Atkins, ive been talking up Atkins for a while now, and i think i have convinced some of you as well, seeing as there was a fan post dedicated to him all alone recently. Atkins has shown good power throughout his career and could be an excellent fit in minute maid.
2. Joe Crede. Crede was a excellent pickup by the twins last year before he got hurt and has had plus power years of over 30 home runs, taking a chance on him fully recovering from his injury could really pay off next year.
3. Troy Glaus, another if he can come back from injury case, but if he could i do seem to remember a time when Glaus was an elite player.
I actually dont think are bullpen is that big of a concern, we have a lot of good young arms, and the only real question mark is the closer spot in the bullpen for me. I am a firm backer of the offer valverde and hope he walks in free agency party, so we are not even going to consider him right now, if he accepts arbitration we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
1. Hawk: he would be a solid closer that im comfortable trotting out in the ninth next year; ask yourself this how much a swing in our record would we have if hawkins was our closer last year, im saying at most 4 and probably closer to 2 or 3. The other side of this is that you do almost hopes he walks after being offered arbitration so that you can get the compensation picks, but since he will probably accept the offer, you put it out there and roll with whatever he decides. If he accepts, then great we have our closer, if he doesnt well then great we will get type A compensation picks for a guy that was our setup man last year.
2. JJ Putz, look i know he's another prayer that we would be hoping to cash in on, but we are dealing with a tight payroll here. Anyway i see him as one of the best available reclamation closer projects out there, or at least he is better than what eric gagne has become..... wait a second gagne's trying to make a comeback....hmmm?
*SLAP* thanks i needed that, maybe ive become a little too engrossed in the reclamation project ideas
3. combination of isrinhauser and percival? how bad could it be...
id love to see castro here, but i think we need to give him room if he needs to start in AAA next season, so i would look at bolstering the catcher position a tad bit. First id let Q go, then id proceed to option number a,
1. Joe Buck, former astro, is most likely going to get nontendered by the royals, he would be a good start the season option, and let castro come along when he is ready. Plus you could throw him out there with castro as a lefty righty platoon when castro is ready to come up.
2. Start season with a Castro and Towles platoon, all i can say for this one is these boys better grow up quick.