Why: Hunter Pence's new contract makes sense and the Astros are already a win down

In regard to Hunter Pence's new contract, Brian McTaggart is on board with the Crawfish Boxes, so it appears. The Astros are in a position to control costs and maintain payroll flexibility by not offering a longer term contract to Pence. As much as some fans may want to give the big money to Hunter, he probably doesn't merit a longer contract at this point. Hustle, heart, and a cannon arm are all appealing qualities for a baseball player, but the fact remains that his production at the plate is good, but not great.

McTaggart mentions Evan Longoria and Ryan Braun as players who received multi year contracts early on in their careers, but these are two players whose values in arbitration would greatly surpass their per year salaries in their current deals. It remains to be seen where Pence will fall on the WAR/value spectrum. After 2010, we'll have three plus seasons worth of data on Hunter with which to analyze.

As the news that Miguel Tejada was officially not going to return to Houston became public, a lot of us immediately thought of Ed Wade's December signing of Pedro Feliz for 1 yr/$4.5 million and how it compares to Tejada's 1 yr/$6 million pact with Baltimore. While very few Astros' fans could have been excited at the prospect of heading into the season with Geoff Blum and Chris Johnson battling it out for playing time at third base, it wasn't as if Feliz was the number one player on our collective wish lists.

Way back in November, Jeff Zimmerman at BeyondtheBoxscore created a spreadsheet projecting the 2010 free agent classes' WAR and each player's resultant value on the free agent market. Zimmerman has Feliz is a 1.3 win player, and Tejada as a 2.1 WAR guy. Since then, CHONE has made the WAR battle between the two a much closer contest, with Feliz climbing to a total of 2, and Miggy falling slightly behind at 1.8. Of course, Miguel's diminishing range made him a liability at SS, shift him over to third, and CHONE has him at a (slightly) below average defensive third baseman.

It's tough for me to think that Miguel Tejada will not produce a similar offensive season this season as he did last in many regards.  At the plate, Tejada is as consistent as they come in regard to his plate discipline, tending to swing, miss, and get contact pretty much at the same rate the past two seasons. Lots of contact, lots of ground-balls means a high BABIP and batting percentage, but also the accursed double plays that killed many a rally over the course of his career. Despite the improved competition which he'll face in the AL East, expect much of the same from Tejada offensively in 2010.

At this point, Pedro Feliz is going to have to pick up his offensive or be an absolute vacuum cleaner at third base to make up for the difference in the pseudo-competition between he and Tejada. The Astros early signing of a third baseman was the safe decision, but had Ed Wade and company held out longer, I think re-signing Tejada for the same amount would have ended up being slightly advantageous at the end of the season. If that extra $1.5 million saved on the contract differences helped sign Brett Myers, that's a different story of of course. Tommy Manzella can officially breathe easy, as it looks like he is the shoo in as our starting shortstop. Clarity and improved infield defense are the bright spots of this scenario. Unfortunately, the loss of Miguel's offense, coupled with the fact that he would have been an improvement over Geoff Blum at third base probably means the Astros lost out on perhaps as much as a full win.

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