I've been remiss in getting an article up on this for the last couple days. Check back, because I will update as events unfold.
Last weekend, we were asked to participate in a Mock Winter Meetings exercise hosted by our SB Nation sister site, Royals Review. I was lucky enough to jump on last minute to serve as the Co-GM of the Houston Astros with Royals Review contributor KCTiger. KCTiger and I have been swinging deals and signing free agents for the last couple days. Next week, we will collaborate on an article talking about our experience as Astros "GM" for the week.
For now, I'll list the moves we've made so you can discuss them. I will explain our goals and reasoning behind the moves in the next post. We operated under a budget of about $35 million, not including the $5 million owed to Wandy Rodriguez.
Tuesday, Dec 04:
Trade 1: The Astros trade Bud Norris to the Royals in return for OF Jeff Francoeur, RHP Yordano Ventura, RHP Mike Montgomery, LHP John Lamb, and RF Elier Hernandez
Boy, did KCTiger and I love this trade, and our acumen was validated by the immediate outrage of Royals fans on the message boards. There was a lot of early action on Norris, and we were able to use that to maximize our return.
Trade 2: The Astros trade Jeff Francoeur and $2.5 million to the Cubs for LHP Eric Jokisch.
Francoeur's inclusion in the Royals deal was at the insistence of the Royals. The Cubs trade was a salary dump. As a bonus, we added a guy whose last name is "Jokisch."
FA Signing 1: The Astros sign Jair Jurrjens for 2-years, $11.5 million, plus a $6 million club option
We struck early when Jurrjens was non-tendered, and it's a good thing we did. The pitching market went nuts shortly thereafter. We saw deals like Brandon McCarthy for 4 years $55 million, and Zack Greinke signing for 6 years, $175 million. We liked the risk that Jurrjens would bounce back to be the almost 2-WAR pitcher he was in 2011.
FA Signing 2: The Astros sign Ryan Raburn for 2-years, $4.5 million
And we have our DH. There are mixed opinions on Raburn, but we liked his price, positional flexibility (OF, 1B, 2B, 3B, DH), and we truly believe he's closer to the guy who hit .280/.340/.475 in 2010 than the guy who only hit .171 last season. With the budget so tight, we feel like this was a strong catch.
Wednesday, Dec. 05:
Trade 3: The Astros trade Wilton Lopez and Fernando Rodriguez to the Phillies for C Sebastian Valle and 3B Mitch Walding
This is another trade I love. Lopez' value is at its peak, and F-Rod is one year away from arbitration. The inclusion of F-Rod allowed the return to be two of the Phillies' top 10 prospects. Valle was the prize here - he is the #7 prospect catcher in all of MLB according to MLB.com. He immediately is the top catching prospect in the Astros' system, and has a ceiling as high or higher than Jason Castro's. Walding is a powerful young 3B who has a major league future.
FA Signing 4: The Astros sign Shaun Marcum for 5-years, $52 million
Our biggest priority was a rotation anchor, and we landed one. Marcum is actually a very reasonable cost for this sim, though he has injury worries. We felt the injury thing overblown, as he has averaged 173 innings per season since missing all of 2009. Marcum hasn't posted an ERA over 4.00 since 2007 (4.13).
Thursday, Dec 06
FA Signing 5: The Astros sign Roy Oswalt to a 1-year $2.5 million contract with a $500k bonus for reaching 125, 150, 175, and 200 innings.
We liked the way our budget lined up, but still felt we could make a smart addition to the roster. Roy-O will bring fans back to the park, but more importantly we feel he has what it takes to be a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher still. His maturity, professionalism, and experience will be a good example for Jurrjens and Lyles (or whoever comes up mid-season to take their shot). Make no mistake: we aren't giving up on our top prospects. But a bit more time in the minors won't hurt them, and with injuries and the uncertainties surrounding those prospects, Lyles, Jurrjens, and Keuchel, we thought this was a smart roster move.
Friday, Dec 07
FA Signing 5: The Astros sign Matt Capps for 1 year, $1million
I needed a veteran bullpen piece, and so I added one. Fake GM CRPerry13 notes that Capps will not be in consideration for the closer's role, even if Wesley Wright is traded.
Trade 3: The Astros trade Eric Jokisch and Jean Batista to the Padres for DH Kyle Blanks
This trade gives us options. Blanks is a beastly power hitter who hasn't gotten a lot of chances in San Diego, between logjams at his DH/LF positions and injuries. The Astros feel it is a low price to pay to see what he can do away from the pitching haven of Petco Park.
Trade 4: The Astros trade Wesley Wright to the Royals for pitchers J.C. Sulbaran and Robinson Yambati.
Right at the deadline (literally the minute before), we shed a bit more payroll and added another of the Royals' top 10 prospects. Sulbaran figures to be in the bullpen mix for the Astros in mid-2013, and Yambati is another power reliever with good walk numbers. The Astros view both of these players as significant MLB contributors and are happy with the return received on Wright.
Current 25-Man Roster:
|C||Jason Castro||Carlos Corporan|
|SS||Jed Lowrie||Tyler Greene|
|LF||J.D. Martinez||Fernando Martinez|
|CF||Justin Maxwell||Brandon Barnes|
|RF||Ryan Raburn||Jimmy Paredes|
And now the simulation is complete. I will follow up with a detailed explanation of the week and what I learned from the experience.