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Friday's Three Astros Things

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I'm still in shock about this note on Carlos Lee...smh...

1) A case for Josh - M'kay, let me make it clear right up top that the chances of this happening are about 0.5 percent. Not 50 percent, but half of one percent. Very, very tiny.

But, there is a situation brewing up I-45 that Houston would do well to take note of. Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers are heading for a messy breakup this offseason and it's gotten more complicated in recent days. After setting the world on fire for the first two months of the season (and generally being awesome for pretty much his entire Rangers career), Hamilton has been in a horrible slump, gotten benched and now is going through a troubling, off-the-field issue that remains anonymous. Speculation has ranged from marital problems (like maybe a divorce brought on by that drunken hookup during the offseason) or a relapse of his drug and/or alcohol addictions.

Whatever is affecting his performance, Hamilton is owning up to it (in a way) and is set to hit free agency this winter. That's because the Rangers' boss, Nolan Ryan, has publicly criticized Hamilton recently for his approach at the plate. That's not generally something you do to a guy who's about to sign a multi-year deal with your team. Or, maybe it is. Nolan follows his own path, filled with snow monkeys.

If we assume Josh Hamilton will hit the open market, and we assume that he'll have some baggage coming with him (injuries, performance dropoff, all the other stuff), how will the market receive him? Who spends the kind of money on him that he would want? The Yankees? They've got a ton committed already and seem loathe to spend more last summer. The Red Sox are paying a king's ransom to Carl Crawford. The Dodgers have a very expensive outfield now, and just traded for Shane Victorino to complete it. The Angels have about 15 billion outfielders already and a logjam at DH.

What I'm saying is the market could be softer for Hamilton than it should be. That's why it makes sense for Houston to try and swoop in with a big-time, short-term offer. I'm thinking they try something like a one-year, $15 million deal. Houston has the room in the budget for it and he wouldn't be blocking anyone more important that's younger than him. He could play center, right and DH some while allowing Jimmy Paredes, Robbie Grossman and whoever else to get time in the outfield, too.

Plus, with Houston moving into the AL West and playing the Rangers regularly, it'd cut into that marketing opportunity. I'm sure some Rangers fans would start following Houston with his addition and he'd help Houston become a little more relevant on the national stage.The marketing opportunities would be huge, and I think Hamilton might take the pressure off some of Houston's other hitters (though that can't be scientifically proven in any way).

Even if Hamilton declines, there's a good bet he'll be a 4-5 WAR player for at least one more season. That means he's absolutely worth $15 million on the open market. If he has a huge bounceback year? Houston could flip him in June or July to a team and pick up some more prospects.

As I said at the beginning, the chances this happens are miniscule. Hamilton may re-sign with Texas, he may have a stronger market and not make it out of the Winter Meetings. He may sign a mutli-year deal with San Francisco or Cincinnati or even the Baltimore Orioles. He might balk at playing for the lowly Astros and may not want to play against his old team so often.

But, if things break right, signing Hamilton could be a big win for the Astros. Keep that in mind this winter.

2) Radio Apprentice - We've been remiss for not talking more about this 2013 Radio Apprentice Challenge. By all means, go sign up by August 7, because it would be super cool if a TCBer gets the gig. And, if one of you out there lands in the semifinals, you can be certain we'll throw everything we can in support of you. If two of you make the semifinals? Well...let's cross that bridge...

As I said, the deadline is coming up soon, so get your entry in there and represent.

3) The value of a team's highest-paid player - I'm trying to keep these short, because my first one was so long. But, I found this article over at Hardball Times very interesting, as it breaks down the effect each highest-paid player had on the team.

For Houston, that means Carlos Lee, who's still technically the highest -paid guy, even if he's not currently on the team. Here's the money quote from the Hardball Times article.

The team who has received the least production from their highest-paid player is the Houston Astros, with Carlos Lee. Lee, of course, is no longer with the Astros, but given the fact that Miami is paying less than $250k for his services, he still makes the most, by far, of anyone in Houston's organization.

Next year? That number may get dramatically smaller, though it's still unclear who that highest-paid guy may be. It won't be a minimum salary guy, will it?