The $50 million dollar compensation for moving the Astros into the American League West is still just rumor, but let's talk about spending it. I don't know about you, but I know what I would do if I were to get a $50 million dollar rebate with one of my purchases. I'd have a lot of coke at all my parties; I'd buy an entire legion of life-sized Star Wars stormtrooper manikins; I'd make it rain in the strip club every night; I'd get gold teeth; I'd put diamonds on the soles of my shoes; I'd buy lots of trucks with really big tires to go muddin in my neighbor's yard because he would complain a lot about my nightly firework show and my full-sized AT-AT lawn ornament; I'd hire a personal bodyguard to guard my body double; and the list goes on. Or I may choose to invest the money by purchasing 50 million lottery tickets. How much do lotto tickets cost these days? Are they still a dollar? I am a fan of 'letting my money work for me.' That's obviously how you get rich enough to buy a baseball team in the first place. You win the lotto once then reinvest in the lotto or go to Vegas for the big score. I might even donate it all to my favorite televangelist. The possibilities are endless. Oh, but I know Jim Crane is better than me. He is not afflicted with my peasant desires. I'm sure he can think of better things to do with the money. But let's help him with some ideas anyway.
First off, we can get some promotions going on. For instance, instead of dollar hotdog night we can have free hotdog night...pretty much every night. Can you imagine how popular Astros tickets will be among the homeless? Thus it could be seen as welfare, and the Astros could get some sort of tax write off if they don't already cook the books enough. The homeless will be out under the I-10 overpasses with signs reading "Will work for stros tickets" ...free advertising! How many hotdogs can $50 million net a fellow? I'm guessing Mr. Crane can even afford to upgrade the hotdogs from the dilapidated things that Drayton served up on dollar hotdog night. Those mummified hotdogs had to inspire Sinclair's The Jungle. Other possibilities: solid gold bobble heads, the first five hundred fans get $100,000, turn Minute Maid into a homeless shelter during nationally televised games to make the stands appear full, a robot manager that uses advanced statistics to manage the game and fans get to use their mobile devices to connect to and communicate with the manager during the game.
Perhaps, mystery-meat isn't your thing, and you want to see some money invested in an on field improvement. What is it that fangraphs always says? 1 WAR on the free agent market costs about 5 million dollars? So let's see, the Astros were at 21.4 WAR on the season and $50 million can buy us about 10 WAR, which puts us at 31.4. That is very simplified, but we are still a good 10 WAR away from even having a chance at making the playoffs. Some have said that the Astros could make a run at Yu Darvish if they wanted to make a splash and raise fan interest. Sure it's unlikely but that 50 million could cover his posting fee. I've warmed a little bit to the idea of him pitching for the Astros since I wrote my first ever fanpost, but I still have my doubts. The $50 million could even let us keep Barmes, or eat Lee's contract, or most of Myers and/or Wandy's contracts. Or it could cover two seasons or maybe one and a half seasons of Albert Pujols. Of course, it would be more sensible to add a few needed stop gaps, and invest in the draft and international signings, but that won't please the readers over at chron.com. It's not flashy.
Reckless spending on players would cause more problems than it would fix, just like my narcotics at every party idea in the first paragraph...or most of my ideas in the first paragraph. Maybe instead of investing in on field talent they could invest in off field talent. How much would it take to get Friedman to come home again? How about Dave Duncan as pitching coach? $50 million can get you quite a few good scouts on pretty much every continent in the world and still have enough money left over to sign the best prospects that they find.
However, it is more likely that this $50 million will go towards something mundane and responsible like lessening the debt that the new ownership group had to take on in order to buy the team so that the Astros don't go Dodger/Ranger on us...unless they can build the talent the Rangers have, then they can go bankrupt all they want...hopefully with that lessened debt, some of juicier things will come to fruition (like free hotdog night). One has to worry that the compensation money could also go towards an owners-only party with lots of coke, stormtroopers (they're white and male so Crane will hire them), AT-ATs, fireworks and the rest. I hope he sends an invitation to me for my great ideas.