Some big stuff going on (for January, that is) as the Cubs signed a redundancy, Brad Ausmus* re-signed with the Dodgers, Jeff Bagwell is slated for more surgery and the San Diego Padres signed Jon Garland. I know, I'll get to why that's Astro-related in a minute.
*I once saw him read a book. It didn't even have pictures in it.
The San Diego Padres added Jon Garland to their 2010 rotation. This seemingly doesn't make a ton of sense, seeing as the Padres are going nowhere in 2010 and could define the word "rebuilding." Still, if the Padres have the money, the can do worse than adding a guy who's has thrown at least 190 innings each season since 2002. Garland won't affect the Friars win total too much, but he will give them a cushion if their young guys have to spend more time at Triple-A.
How does this relate to the Astros? Garland was an oft-mentioned trade target of the Astros when he was a White Sock and was mentioned as a possible signing this winter. Both have to bounce back from injuries, meaning they are not sure bets by any means. While Garland probably will be more consistent than Brett Myers, he doesn't exactly have Myers upside. Garland would have been a solid if unspectacular fourth starter. Myers has the ability to be a top-notch third starter. I'm okay betting on upside, especially in this case.
Brad Ausmus signed a one-year, million dollar deal with the Dodgers. Everyone is assuming Bradley will go straight into some managerial job once he's hung up his cleats (I hear there's an opening in Visalia next spring). You have to respect a guy who can keep playing at his age. Even if he starts managing after he retires, he's getting paid right now to play a game. Who wouldn't keep that up? Once he retires, that's it, save for the occasional pickup game at the YMCA or during All-Star Weekend. If only we all were so lucky...
Xavier Nady signs a deal with the Chicago Cubs. This deal suggests that Micah Hoffpauir may not be long for the team, since Nady can play both corner outfield spots and first base. Of course, Nady is also coming off an injury that limited him to 29 plate appearances and 46 innings in the field in 2009. Hoffpauir didn't do much in 2009 with the Cubbies, but his minor league numbers suggest he can be a power threat.
Of course, Chicago decided to forgoe his small salary for someone who makes three times that in Nady. As Harry Pavlidis noted on Twitter yesterday, Hoffpauir was probably not going to make the team anyway, but this is still a redundant move. Between Derrick Lee's inevitable bounce from last year to the addition of Carlos Silva and Marlon Byrd, it's hard to really tell how good the Cubs will be. They may be the first team I do a season preview on, if for no other reason than they will be fun to talk about.
Noah Lowery is set to work out for anywhere from one to 15 clubs this week. Jerry Crasnick tweeted last night that one of those teams could be the Astros. At the very least, the team has expressed interest in Lowery, who could be a nice reclamation project for Arnsberg.
With Wandy finally having his 2010 salary settled (it'll be either 5 or 7 million), the Astros big league roster appears set. However, a move for Lowery is the savvy kind that good GMs make. It's a way to add depth to the team in an inexpensive way without sacrificing anything on the MLB roster.
That last part is assuming Lowery is willing to sign a minor league deal to prove he's healthy. From the extent of his injuries which we've already discussed here this winter, it's easy to believe Lowery won't be ready to go for Opening Day.
Finally, Brian McTaggart has a story on astros.com that Jeff Bagwell will have another, very invasive surgery on his shoulder to hopefully avoid a full shoulder replacement down the road.
Reading about what they will do made me cringe almost as much as I did after Bryant Gumbel and Jeff Pearlman's recent comments. Yes, Bagwell was very into lifting weights during his career. Yes, he did hit mammoth home runs and was teammates with Ken Caminiti, an admitted steroids user. Bagwell still has never been linked to using and is innocent until proven otherwise.
It also makes the end of his career all the more sad. I was at the last game he played before going on the disabled list and was at the game toward the end of the 2005 season where his pinch hit to center field gave the Astros a much-needed victory. Thinking about how much pain he must've went through in 2004 and 2005 is humbling. After all the joy he brought me over the years, I really wish the best for Baggy and hope this surgery fixes his shoulder for good.