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Friday Grab-bag

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There's been a lot of debate on here about what the Astros should do to better themselves. Since we're all amateur GMs anyway, let's try our hand at fixing/improving this team ourselves.

This is a link to the 2008 Opening Day payroll of the Astros. Some things have changed (Chacon going Sprewell on Ed Wade) but the numbers should still hold up pretty well. Based on my first week here, I can tell just about everyone who posts comments has pretty strong opinions about this team. I dig. Why root for a team if you're just gonna be complacent? What I'm interested in seeing, is not necessarily what you want the Astros to do this offseason, but what you think they realistically can do. To that point, the club has major salary obligations to these players:

Player $ Owed in 2009 (in millions)
Miguel Tejada $13
Lance Berkman $14.5
Roy Oswalt $14
Carlos Lee $18.5
Kaz Matsui $5
Total $65

More than 75% of the team's current payroll goes to these five guys. Now- let's assume that we go after a big name free agent starting pitcher. Ben Sheets has been a popular choice on here, so throw him in there. He's 30 years old, has great stuff, but has a history of injuries. Taking these factors into account, let's say Ed signs him to a 5 year contract worth 80 million dollars. Similar money to what Roy O is making right now. Add $15 mil to our payroll. That puts it at about $103 million. From there, it's anybody's guess.

That's where The Crawfish Boxes' readers come in. We've got the payroll at our fingertips, and here's a list of players that are expected to become free agents after the season. All the tools are at our disposal, so what can the Astros do, within reason, to get back to the postseason in 2009? Here's a few things I think would be interesting to think about

-Sign Rocco Baldelli to an incentive based contract. He could be the right handed side of a CF platoon. He may be worth the risk, as his history of injuries may drive his asking price down

-Do not offer salary arbitration to Brandon Backe. Postseason heroics aside, he hasn't done anything to give me confidence that he can be a viable starter for a major league team. Non-roster invitee to spring training?

-Make a run at Ben Sheets. If not him, then Jon Garland. Starting pitchers have a tendency to regress if they're signed too far after their 30th birthday. Either of these guys could offer the team 4-5 quality years. Let some other team sign the Braden Loopers of the world.

As nice as it would be to just build a team from a deep farm system, that isn't likely to happen. Yea, the Red Sox won a couple World Series with young players, but their decision to add David Ortiz when nobody wanted him, their trading for Mike Lowell, and shelling out the big bucks for Manny played just as big a role. The Astros won't have a viable farm system next year, but they can spend their money wisely. What do ya'll think?