Based on the conversation that Richard Justice had recently with Miguel Tejada, it sounds as if Miguel's future with the Astros is hazy at best. From what RJ wrote on Saturday about the Astros' 2010 lineup being populated mostly by players under the age of thirty, to Drayton McLane's desire and apparent intent to cut payroll to the mid $90 million range, this quote probably has a lot more credence to it than just about anything in connection with this incarnation of the Astros:
[T]he Astros are going to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year, and they're determined to begin the transition to a younger team...
Despite Tejada's overt willingness to shift to third base (like many of us here have wanted), the organization doesn't seem to be as gung-ho. Rather, Tommy Manzella and Chris Johnson appear the likely left side infielders in 2010. This is a prudent financial decision, and a reward to Manzella and Johnson for performing well in AAA this season. Both will struggle offensively at times, but such is life with young players. Everything that Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn went through, these two will experience as well. Leadership on a team isn't something we talk about a lot on TCB, but veteran leaders are important in transition periods, and sadly Miguel Tejada would be an excellent person to have around for that purpose.
Felipe Paulino will be a key cog in the rebuilding effort this offseason, and his recent quotes concerning his role on the 2009 Astros do not bode well for the future of Cecil Cooper:
I just need one role. Just give me the role, and I'll go pitch. It's really hard when you go to the games and you don't know what your role is. For me, it's more easy when you go to the games and they tell you "hey Paulino, you're going to start the next six games, so just be ready." It's going to be easy. Baseball now, you don't pitch with your body; you pitch with your mind. Now it's easier when you go pitch and you know you pitch every five days.
I like this quote because it allows us to engage the subject of Felipe Paulino and his ability to be a viable major leaguer on a level beyond what statistics can tell us. Sure, he hasn't always been good this season, but his tERA and FIP can only tell us so much about his performance this year. These players aren't robots pre-programmed to perform on a certain level. They have external factors acting on them outside of what goes on between the foul lines. Instability affects Felipe Paulino the same way it would you or I if our responsibilities at work were constantly in flux. Find a comfort level and we perform better. That appears to be pretty much a universal rule.
Brian McTaggart has a nice write up about his time spent recently with prospect Ross Seaton. The 18 year old just finished his first season of professional baseball with the Lexington Legends and is eager to head to the Instructional League in Kissimmee, FL to hone his craft:
"I'm going to work on polishing things up, getting my command and getting the slider and curve over and all that stuff," he said. "I'm going to keep working on the same stuff I've been working on all season, and now that we're out of it this season, I can work on it a little bit more and tinker with stuff more than I could during the season. Hopefully, I'll keep making progress."
The main issue with the quintet of Lexington starters is where to start them in 2010? Moving them up High A Lancaster means putting them in a hitters paradise that has no peer in minor league baseball, or perhaps moving some or all to AA Corpus Christi.