02 December 2009

The 2009 Offseason: The Astros are cutting payroll...and making no attempt to improve....

Well, as an Astros fan, this offseason has started off poorly.

Out of Miguel Tejada, LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, only one player was offered arbitration (Valverde). Even though the 'Stros want to cut salary, they should have offered arbitration to all, had them turned down and then reaped the draft picks when they signed somewhere else. Now, they have to hope that Valverde turns the money down and signs somewhere else. Then, the Astros get whoever signs Valverde's first round pick and a supplemental round pick. If they are lucky, they land two solid guys like Jiovanni Mier and Jason Castro. If they aren't, hello Mitch Einertson and Brian Bogusevic.

Of course, to make things worse, the Astros farm system is in shambles with only about FOUR players really worth a damn. Mier, Castro, Tanner Bushue (could be a power arm, but needs better secondary pitches) and Shia Jen-Lo, a deadly relief pitcher. Castro SHOULD start the season in Houston, but the other three are at least a year away (though, if Houston gets NO one reliable at SS, maybe, just maybe Mier sees time by the All Star break).

Out side of that, Carlos Lee, Kazuo Matsui and Lance Berkman all have terrible contracts (Matsui's is only $5 million, but he blows, so it is wated money). Lance and Carlos are both making upwards of $15 million or more a season and have no trade clauses. I personally wouldn't hate it if Lee and/or Berkman are moved for cost controlled, solid prospects. Then, use some of that money to land a SP or two and some MI/3B help (I don't think Chris Johnson is the answer at 3B this season...but we will see).

Or...they can sit on their laurels, we can wallow away in the cellar for a few years and once Oswalt, Lee, Berkman and Matsui move on, use the free cap space on some young stud free agents.

I could suffer through a few losing seasons if it meant building towards a solid future a la the Rays, not like the Royals, Padres and Pirates.

How do you feel about your team's current off season, based on the teams arbitration approach and general mindset heading into free agency?

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