My name is Devon and this is my first post/comment. A little background on me before I get into what I think we should do with reported 35-45 million Crane said he was willing to spend. Growing up on the Iowa/Nebraska boarder, where the closest professional teams were still a few hundred miles away, gave me freedom from bias local media to select my favorite teams. One fateful week I was sick as a dog and was told I could not go to school (sad I know). Like most 9 year olds in the early 90’s, I had already mastered every Nintendo game I owned. Daytime TV is terrible, so I stopped on WGN, to see how badly the Cubs were losing. (My older brother is a Cubs fan, so I wanted to rub it in). That day they were playing the Astros, as soon as I turned on the game I watched Bagwell go yard. He instantly became my favorite player and I was hooked. I watched the rest of that game and then watched the entire game the following day. Boom Astros fan for life.
Now on to the reason for my post. It was recently reported that Crane and Co., "could" raise the payroll to 50-60 million. Assuming we have about 15 million committed to next year, that gives us 35 - 45 million to spend. With the farm system finally starting to pay dividends and good prospects a few steps away, there is no reason to block prospects long term. There should be no reason to go any more than 3 years right now. We also have a few big holes that need to be addressed. OF, RP, SP, SS and maybe a DH who is not going to set negative records like strikeouts. Power is needed, a bullpen that won’t melt down under pressure and some IF/OF support for when the young guys struggle.
My wish list includes players that are unlikely to get qualifying offers and thus allows us to keep our draft picks. Additionally, salary figures may be a little high, but we will have to pay to get quality to come to a team in flux. I don’t know how many opening are going to be on the 40-man but if signing this many players would mean we leave 1 or 2 real prospects unprotected for the Rule 5 draft, scrap my wish list and save the prospects.
And here we go:
RP – Brian "The Beard" Wilson – 1yr 5m w/option – In a partial season due to recovering from surgery still posted a +.6 WAR 13.2IP with an ERA of 0.66. Small sample size, I know. Offer him a shot to close and show he still has it, if he does we have a closer for 2014 and 15, or we can flip him for prospects.
RP – Carlos Marmol – 1yr 3m – After the trade to the Dodgers he posted a WAR of +3 and an ERA of 2.53 but his numbers with the Cubs were horrendous. He is coming off a season where he was demoted from Closer on a bad team to RP and he made 9+ million last year, no team is going to pay that now. He is another a buy low candidate that we could flip for prospects if he performs up to past levels or we could keep him.
RP – Joba Chamberlin – 3yrs 9m – Last season he was exactly an average player (WAR +/-0), in 42 IP he had an ERA of 4.93. He is 27 years old, so still young enough to help us when we are competitive again. He was the Friday starter at the University of Nebraska, so he could potentially become a spot starter/long reliever if we need him to be. The Yankees tried him as a starter a few years back, but gave up on that experiment. In Houston it would a much lower pressure situation for him and I think he would succeed in any role we wanted to use him for.
SP – Roy Oswalt – 1yr 5m – No need to get into his numbers with the Rockies, pay him whatever it takes to come back, 5 mil is my guess. He needs 1 win, I believe, to be the Astros all time wins leader, give him every opportunity to do that and let him ride off into the sunset wearing his Astros jersey. Additionally, he would be great mentor for the young guys.
SP – Scott Kazmir – 2yr 15m w/option + incentives - he is a Houston. With the Indians last season he had an ERA of 4.04, pitched 158 innings, WAR +1.1 and his K/9 ratio was back to 9.2. His resurgence was a great story and the guy used to be an All-Star. He is going to generate interest from other clubs, I don’t think he is going to get huge money until he proves himself a little more but hopefully pitching at home would be appealing to him.
RF – Nelson Cruz – 2yrs 15m – Biogenesis may have made him affordable for us. His name is tainted but he fills a need for Houston, RF with some pop. How much pop is up for debate, he obviously has had help in the past. I find it hard to believe he didn’t know he was under the watchful eye of MLB all season, so he played this last season clean. Last season he hit .266/.327/.495 with 27 HR, 76 RBI’s. WAR +2.0, 24% K, 13% BB. Short term fix until the long term answer comes up.
SS/3B/2B – Juan Uribe – 2yrs 12m – A utility guy with a little pop, he can back up 3 positions and hits well enough to DH. He would give us some needed flexibility, he hasn’t played a lot of SS the last few years but I feel like he could do it short term if need be. Last season he his .278/.331/.438 with 12 HR, 50 RBI. WAR + 4.1, umm, yes please. Over his career he has only stuck out more than 100 times 2 times, we need more of that, he doesn’t walk a lot either though.
Add 37 Million for 2014 - That gives up 5 new arms, a RF with some power and a utility infielder. This answers our CP and Setup Man questions and gives up another solid young arm in the Pen. This also gives us some Veteran leadership and fills a couple holes in the rotation. We create a contingency plan if our young infield struggles and we add an outfielder that should hit for power. Plus who doesn’t want to see Roy pitch in Houston again? Fans will come out and fan support is something we have been missing. Total added WAR +10.8, all short term fixes that will not break the bank and gives our prospects time to mature.
Long first post, sorry. We may as well get this out of the way too, the username "Devo" has been my family nickname forever, there is not a joke about the band from the 80’s I have not heard. So go ahead, "Whip it!, Whip it good!"