Some things to talk about as we marvel at the wonder that is the new SB Nation United layout...
1) Quad Cities confirmed
Woohoo! Houston has found a new Low A home, and it's pretty freakin' great. Clack covered all the high points yesterday, like the reaction from the Quad Cities owners and Jeff Luhnow's familiarity with the location.
My excitement stems from that awesome bridge in the outfield, which makes it possibly the most scenic ballpark in the system right now. It's tough to beat out Corpus, too, so that's saying quite a bit. In better news, Davenport, Iowa i apparently just a few hours away from my in-laws house in Omaha. Guess who's going to a Low A game sometime soon?? Maybe right around the time Carlos Correa is playing there?
This one isn't a surprise, as people speculated on the Cardinals connection for a while. I'm sad to see Lexington go, as they're one of my favorite minor league teams to follow, but Quad Cities should be fun. What say ou? Do you like the change?
2) J.D. Martinez has hand surgery
Sad news for J.D. Martinez, as his season is over nine days early after he underwent surgery on his hamate bone. Thanks to Astros County, we find a great explanation for this surgery thanks to the Baltimore Sun.
3) TV money not getting reinvested in payroll
Maury Brown, he of the general awesome Bizball fame, talked about how Houston will reinvest its nearly $50 million from both the regional sports network (RSN) after the ComCast channel comes online in October and baseball's national television deals.
The Astros will not emulate the Marlins, spending lavishly in free agency the second new money arrives at their door. Instead, sources indicate that the club will choose to pay down debt rather than put it toward free agent player contracts.
There's been some chatter already around the interwebs about this, including some great points brought up on Twitter that I can't collect here. Two things stand out to me, though.
First, Houston already is spending a huge amount on their payroll. The $60 million they spent this season was about 55 percent of its revenue. According to Brown, that number is higher than the league average, so I guess we can back off the criticism of Jim Crane and his spending rollback from Draytonian levels.
Second, while they aren't going to invest any of that RSN money in payroll, that doesn't mean they won't keep a $60 million payroll for next season. If that's the case, they are still going to have a good chunk of money hanging around to pay players in the offseason. Even if they give Jed Lowrie a big pay raise, it means Houston could have $25-30 million kicking around for player moves, and that's without putting any more from revenue into the payroll.
Until we hear that they're going to lower the payroll, this is how I see it. I don't mind them keeping it in pace, because I don't think the Astros need to binge on a ton of players this offsason. As I said on the podcast Sunday (maybe it was after the podcast...we have some GREAT conversations when we're not recording), I think Houston could target players who are in arbitration in trades rather than signing a bunch of free agents.