Ok, ok, I know this is looking ahead a bit, but after Roy Oswalt, outduels Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2004 World Series, bringing home our first World Series to Houston....what do we do in 2005? The Astros have positioned themselves to go down the crapper in the next few years, for a few reasons:
1. Not many prospects.
2. Deferred money in Bagwell, Kent, Pettitte contracts.
Whatever happens, the 2005 offseason will be a defining year for the franchise. We'll have the opportunity to let a lot of players go. Here's a rough draft of what could happen, position by position:
C - John Buck / Brad Ausmus (Ausmus is making 3 million in 2005.......UGH)
1B - Jeff Bagwell (13 million)
2B - probably Chris Burke (14 million option for Jeff Kent....he'll be 38....I don't think so)
SS - Adam Everett
3B - Morgan Ensberg (gotta love that cheap left side of the infield)
LF - Lance Berkman (I really, really hope we sign Lance to something like a 4 year, 40 millon dollar deal....he's not the type of player to age really well, but he'll only be 28, and he should put up 900+ OPS seasons for the next 3/4 years)
CF - ?
RF - Jason Lane (Lane has said he can play CF too....hopefully we'll find out this year)
SP - Roy Oswalt (like Lance, I hope we re-sign him....in a way, it's important that the Astros have an identity after losing Biggio and eventually Bagwell...I think that Berkman and Oswalt are the two best players to represent our franchise for the next few years....his best comparable is Tim Hudson, who isn't getting any worse...maybe a 4 year 36 million dollar deal?)
SP - Andy Pettitte (about 9 million I think)
SP - Tim Redding
SP - Carlos Hernandez
SP - Brandon Duckworth / Kirk Saarloos / Taylor Bucholz /
some other cheap guys.
So the most obvious place to upgrade, I think would be OF or bullpen. We should have a pretty decent staff as long as we re-sign either Oswalt or Miller (please Oswalt!) In my opinion it's not worth spending much money on your bullpen - whoever isn't the 5th starter can jump in there or we can bring up some guys....whatever.
So assuming we re-sign Berkman for 10 mil (no deferred money!) and Oswalt for 9 mil (no deferred money, dammit!), that brings us to 44 mil...everyone else combined costs about....um...10/15 mil.....so that puts us at 55/60 mil. Which, finally, brings me to this: Can we make a run for Carlos Beltran?
Ultimately, I don't think so. He'll be too hotly pursued by other teams, and he's a bit overrated in real-life, compared to fantasy. Don't get me wrong, he's 26 and damn good and he'd be a perfect fit, but someone's gonna give him a Vladi-type contract and I don't think he's worth that.
So let's see we've got 10 mil to spend on improving the OF.
What do we do? Who are the OF free agents in 2005? Glad you asked:
The other 'big name' OFers availabe besides Beltran are
Garret Anderson. Consistent. Overrated. Consistently overrated. He's a good fantasy player, but his .300 average hides his unwillingness to take a walk and his 100 RBI's are a product of the fact that he never misses a game.
Magglio Ordonez. I didn't realize he was 30 already. Hasn't improved in the last 3 or 4 years. Pass.
In my opinion, we should go after younger, cheaper guys. Here a few suggestions:
Termell Sledge (what a name! The SledgeHammer!)