to start, next year we will be in the AL West........aka pretty much whatever moves we make this offseason it will be damn hard to get to .500, but who knows. Also if you are a grammar nazi, I would encourage you to go no further and get off this write up as fast as you possibly can.
Now that's out of the way, here is my humble opinion on what the Astros should do this off season if we want to close in on .500 ball while not jeopardizing next years draft.
1. Coaching: Rape and pilage the coaching staff at the ML level. Mills, the hitting coach Barnett, and the pitching coach Brocail must go. To me it is so vital to get these young kids proper instruction because the psyche of a young ball player is oh so fragile, and faulty teaching can lead to extended poor performance which can lead to permanent damage thus leading to a shortened career. I'm not discrediting these guys, Brocail threw for years, and Barnett knows his stuff i'm sure, but I dont see it on the field. Look at the entire starting staff, nearly all of them get touched up around the 5th or 6th. This happens because fatigue sets in and they begin to elevate their pitches. This is not necessarily a conditioning issue (I assume a major league staff, even ours, is in decent enough shape) but a mechanical one. Fatigue is going to set in, there is no way around it, and when it does set in most pitchers begin to elevate everything. This is because the follow through isnt as strong as previous innings, pitchers stay up taller, arm slots elevate, and balls fly very very far. A pitcher must over compensate by making sure to follow through in order to shoot the knees. I see it literally every single time it happens with Lyles, and Norris, and I just dont think that staff philosophy hones in on staying low in the zone like they should. Stay low in the zone, win ball games. With Barnett, my biggest complaint is pitch recognition, and the stability of eye level during the load and swing. I know that Garner use to use a drill that would spit dotted tennis balls out of a pitching machine that ran at a ridiculous 100+ Mph. He would have his guys stand behind the cage, then step in the box to simply watch and work on identifying pitch location, and the break on the pitch. Whatever Barnett is doing isnt working from what I can see. We have struck out just an absurd amount this year. He started using this in Milwaukee, and Mark Loretta testified to the wonders it worked for him. Also, I have noticed with guys Dominguez, (during his brief stint) Moore, CJ a little, and Jmax shift eye levels by dropping their heads during front leg plant. It's hard enough to hit major league pitching without shifting eye levels during a pitch. Look at any very successful Major Leaguer and you can damn near balance a book on their head throughout their swing. Good coaching for these young guys is so vital for their success and the Astro's as well. The impact would benefit us in the present and future.
Okay there's my coaching rant.
2. Free Agent acquisitions: We should have 25-30 mil to blow after Arbitration
1. Lance Berkman: (if he stays healthy the rest of this year) Much needed veteran presence that can still eat with the big dawgs. Give him a one year with an option at roughly 8-10 a year(Hometown discount?), slot him at first, and our lineup looks alot better. Also he's Lancelot guys, C'mon.
2. Cody Ross: 2-3 yr deal @ 5 Mil/Yr at RF/DH (Above his career average, but hes having a solid year in Boston)
Delmon Young: Offer 3-4 Yr @ 5-7 Mil/Yr at RF/DH (Attitude problem, try to buy cheap)
Angel Pagan: offer 2-3 yr deal @ 5mil/Yr at CF
Ludwick: 1 Yr deal W/ team option @ 2-3 Mil/YR
Swisher: could dangle a 3 yr deal @ 5-7/ Yr (I dont think his salary will stay at 10.5, but hes probably out of our price range)
Sign 1 maybe 2 of those OF options.
3. PITCHING: Focus on the relievers
1. CLOSER: options
a) Brandon League: 3 yrs @ 5Mil/Yr (Dropped from closer role so i think he'll be fairly cheap this offseason. still producing though)
b) Jonathon Broxton: 3 yrs @ 5-7.5Mil/Yr (Has done much better this year, has really returned to form.)
Anyone other than those guys and they're probably out of our price range.
1. Grant Balfour: His salary is certain to drop, as he is no longer closing. He is still however producing quite well. Lock him up at 2-3Yrs @ 2-3mil/yr
2. Luis Ayala: Throwing the ball very well with an ERA of under 3 the last two years, and the guy is fairly cheap. 1 yr W/ option @ 1Mil/Yr
3. Clay Hensley: Throwing well this year with an ERA of 3.31.....2 yr deal W/ team option @ 1Mil/Yr (Houston area native)
4. Mark Lowe: Throwing very well W/ ERA under 3 and good K numbers. Pricey though...2-3 yrs @ 3-5Mil/Yr
5. J.P. Howell: Solid lefty with a good track record...2-3 Yrs @ 2.5 Mil/Yr
- Erik Bedard 1Yr @ 4 Mil
-Kevin Correia 1 Yr W/ team option @ 4.5 Mil/Yr
- Roy Oswalt 1Yr W/ option @ 5-7 Mil/yr
- Brandon Mccarthy 4-5 Yrs @ 7-10 Mil/Yr
-Kevin Milwood 1Yr @ 1mil
- Joe Saunders 3yr @ 5-8 Mil
- Chris Young 1 Yr @ 1 Mil
Ideally sign a starter, a closer and 2 relievers.
sooooooooooooo lets say we sign Big Puma, Cody Ross, Broxton, Clay Hensley, J.P. Howell, and Bedard that would put us out roughly 25.5 - 29.5 putting us right around the 50 million payroll that JL is shooting for. I dont know about y'all but i like that team a lot more than the bad news bears we currently have assembled. Win they win it all? no chance, but we will make strides especially with our young guys continuing to develop.
CF: Paredes/schafer/Barnes/Grossman (who in the hell knows)
5. Keuchel/Cosart/ Weiland
Wright, Lopez, Hensley, Howell, Cedano, Storey, Broxton.
I think that team could scrounge out 70-75 wins.
What direction do y'all think we will be taking this offseason?