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Tuesday's Three Astros Things

Talking about the draft order, prospects before they were pro and baseball's worst contracts...

Some things to talk about while we celebrate Taco Tuesday together...

1) Draft order set, bonus pool estimate

After James Shields signed with the Padres on Monday, the official 2015 draft order has been set. No other free agents lurk to possibly shake up things, so here's what we have.

The Astros will pick at No. 2, No. 5 and No. 37 overall in the first round. According to MLBTR, that puts their draft bonus pool at nearly $18 million for 2015.

After the Astros failed to sign Brady Aiken at the deadline, I speculated they could have $20 million in bonus money. Turns out, they came pretty darn close to that figure. That gives Houston more than $14 million more to spend in the draft than either the Mets or the Nationals, who round out the bottom of the bonus pool list.

2) Perfect Game Before They Were Pros

Really interesting piece over at Perfect Game looking back at the AL West's top prospects when they were amateurs. The two singled out of the Astros system were Brett Phillips and Colin Moran. What caught my eye was this note on Phillips:

That fall on a whim, Phillips decided to try to play high school football despite not having played yet in high school. He ended up playing in the Pinellas County All-Star game following the season. Watching this video is pretty instructive when you look at Phillips as an athlete. Just in the first three minutes there are highlights of him playing running back, wide receiver, quarterback, linebacker, safety, blocking a kick and kicking an extra point. It's impressive to watch, especially in the context of his never having played at that level before.

That stood out because I read something very similar on Craig Biggio after he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. A New York sportswriter was talking about brushing up against Biggio's high school football career when he took scores by phone for a newspaper. Biggio played all over the field, ran for five touchdowns in a game and would often sit out the second half because it wasn't fair to the other team to keep him in.

I'm not saying Phillips will be like Biggio. There are plenty of great football athletes who never pan out in baseball (looking at you, Donavan Tate). It's just encouraging that there's a small similarity there. I'd take half of Biggio's career out of Phillips.

Points, too, go to the Astros scouting side for finding him and recognizing his talent. I'm not fully on board the Maverick hype train yet, but I'm contemplating buying a ticket.

3) Baseball's Worst Contracts

Fun read from Jonah Keri at Grantland about the worst contracts in baseball. All the usual suspects are there, including a pair of Rangers and Angels. The point I'd highlight here is the debate between what really makes a terrible contract.

Here's Keri, talking about what he heard from front office types:

"I think that the contracts where you're essentially getting zero production or, even worse, you're better off just dumping the guy rather than letting him hurt your team are the worst, regardless of money owed. Mauer and Votto and Cabrera are overpaid/well above their market value, but if you take the money out of the equation, at least you're not making your team worse by having them. [B.J.] Upton, Ethier, and Howard, on the other hand, are complete sinkholes."

Counterpoint: "I feel like the longer the deal, the more risk. Like with Upton or even A-Rod - it's over in three years. I think the worst contract in the game, far and away, is Pujols."

This is exactly why I believe the Astros have not spent big in free agency. It may be why they never will spend big in free agency. It's not because they don't have the money. It's because these deals rarely work out well for the team.

It's just really hard to predict the whims of fate six or seven years from now. Even if everything goes right, gradual performance decreases can make a deal look bad by the end.

Russell Carleton argues over at Baseball Prospectus that long-term extensions have value for franchises, because it brings in talented players who may decline, but also may not. If a team gets an All-Star performance for three to five years out of a seven year deal, and they contend for three of those years, they probably would do the deal again.

I still don't think that the Astros will be willing to spend for big-ticket free agents, because of the risk involved.