The title is somewhat facetious. The Astros are guaranteed to spend around $80 million, as is, heading into 2010, but there should be another $10-15 million to allocate to filling the gaps. So where should Ed Wade and co. be focusing on allocating it?
In my mind, there are few options:
- Find someone for 3rd base. Geoff Blum isn't getting any younger and Chris Johnson isn't getting any better at getting on base. Jeff Keppinger was great as a platoon there, but I think we can find a better option. This option could include re-signing Tejada and slotting him at 3rd, but I doubt that happens in the wake of the Blum re-signing. If we really wanted to go for it: Chone Figgins (probably a multi-year deal with at least $7-8 million on the table each year).
- Sign LaTroy Hawkins back to have a strong depth for the likely closer by committee situation I can feel building. There are a few former closers who carry the label to which I'm sure Ed Wade is keen, and my Interesting rehab-esque-project of the bunch is Billy Wagner.
- Sign a top-teir reclamation project for Arnsberg to get behind. Ben Sheets or Justin Duchscherer are probably the cream of that crop. Both are coming off years where they were DLed and in all honesty I don't know the exact status of either of the two, but if they could log 100-120IP for us in 2010 just think of the marginal gain. That's replacing Hampton or Ortiz' production for probably not a whole lot more in guaranteed money. Neither of those two are looking for multi-year deals. Instead, they're looking for a chance to audition for a year and then jump into the big deals they seemed primed for in 2008. My under the radar choice for Arnsberg to ply his trade with: Rich Hill (see photo caption for explanation...for the one other than LHP hominid).
- Convince Drayton McLane that if he wants a decent on-field product, he's probably going to accept spending in the red. I don't think this is a hard argument to win. There's little to no fan excitement with this team—especially after a 10-22 last month-ish of the season. Unemployment is still up and while other macro-economic indicators are improved, they're not game changing. The odds that attendance collapses further if Drayton doesn't do something to generate excitement is roughly the equivalent of the odds that Drew Brees beats Jake Delhomme in TD passes this season. So the options Drayton has seem to be: lose money by nothing nothing, or spend just a little bit more money and increase your odds that you don't lose revenue.
If four were to happen, I could easily see us accomplish two and three. But I don't know how many different ways you can combine the options with the shoe string budget that rounds out payroll. Thus, the crux of our offseason seems to be what will the Astros brass deem our most important short coming as a baseball club. My hope is that they realize they likely have to pay a lot of attention to option three.
My in a perfect world of realitic limitations off season goes like this:
- Rich Hill signs for no more than $3 million.
- Hawkins re-signed, or some equivalent former closer for no more than $5 million. Wagner would be a sexy choice.
- Bobby Crosby gets a crack at 3rd base for $5-6 million.
That's $13-14 million and I think it plugs some major holes. While still leaving some wiggle room for our "that guy still plays baseball?" corps of bench guys that Ed Wade plucks from the nether-regions of baseball.
Those are just my ideas, though. What say you?