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How the Astros' 2011 payroll obligations will affect the 2011 Astros

One of the many things that changed for the Astros post-trade deadline are their payroll obligations for 2011 and beyond. They shed the burden of having to decide whether or not pick up Lance Berkman's option, $7 million worth of Roy Oswalt's contract, and the burden of having to decide whether or not to pick up his 2012 option. Kaz Matsui will also no longer receive a pay check from the Astros, nor will Pedro Feliz (vacuous waste of space he was). As result of this, only three Astros are guaranteed to receive more than $5 million next year, and five at most are likely to get that much after we consider arbitration raises.

Since the trade deadline, that is how I have been laying it out in my head. The Astros have gotten younger, and they have gotten cheaper—glorious. It's the kind of thought that can lead an unattended mind astray into the zone of prognostication regarding free agency. It's dangerous, and that is mostly because the free agent list is just very, very ugly (for players that may actually be in the sweet spot of the Astros' price range and the Astros' positional needs).

Stating the way I just did, made it too easy for me to assume the Astros were going to be bargain basement cheap in 2011. I knew that they weren't, but it was too easy for my mind to boil their payroll obligations down to something so minuscule sounding. So yesterday, in the basement of the library, in between pondering whether the stream of commerce theory still maintains enough weight to be determinative in wake of Asahi and why my life is so sad that I was pondering that, I decided to throw all the Astros payroll obligations into a spreadsheet and hit SUM(). The results (after the jump), I think, give us a fairly clear picture of who the Astros will be in 2011.

I have tried to generously gusstimate arbitration bonuses, as well as include only players I think will likely be on the 25-man roster from within the franchise. As it stands, there are twenty-one players listed, twelve of whom (if I can count) are pitchers. Angel Sanchez or Brian Bogusevic were two players that I agonized over, but then I finally decided to stop caring and just excluded them. Regardless, I have the roster four men short.

I also included the remaining checks to be cashed in both Philadelphia and New York.

Player 2011
Carlos Lee $19,000,000
Wandy Rodriguez $7,000,000
Brett Myers $7,000,000
Brandon Lyon $5,250,000
Hunter Pence $5,000,000
Michael Bourn $3,500,000
Matt Lindstrom $3,000,000
Jeff Keppinger $3,000,000
Humberto Quintero $1,500,000
J.A. Happ $600,000
Bud Norris $500,000
Felipe Paulino $500,000
Jeff Fulchino $500,000
Jason Castro $450,000
Wilton Lopez $450,000
Alberto Arias $450,000
Samuel Gervacio $450,000
Chris Johnson $450,000
Tommy Manzella $450,000
Mark Melancon $450,000
Brett Wallace $450,000
Roy Oswalt $9,000,000
Lance Berkman $2,000,000
Total Payroll Obligations $70,950,000

$70-71 million. That's a lot of dough.

Luckily, though, the Astros are a fairly complete team twenty-one players in. The proposed roster above leaves only a few, non-starter spots to be filled. Given that context, my guess is that Wade's off-season shopping list will consist of a scrap heap starting pitcher, a utility infielder, and Jason Michaels. I'll also opine that I think that Wade will only have $8-10 million to shop with based on the attendance (i.e. revenue) decline in 2010.

Thus, to me, the Astros' 2011 payroll obligations means that Ed Wade has two options for the 2011 Astros: go to war with the guys that he's got plus a few spare parts, or figure out a way to get rid of Carlos Lee and at least $7 million or so of his salary. And that raises a question that I have not found answer to, personally: How confident am in the guys that the Astros would be going to war with? What makes me the uneasiest is not that I doubt Wallace, Castro, Paulino, Norris, Happ, and Johnson going forward. My unease comes from the fact that I don't feel either way.

What about you?