It's arbitration time.
The Astros have 3 of the 4 largest differences between a player's asking price (1st number) and the team's counter-offer (2nd number):
Roger Clemens: 22mil / 13.5
Roy Oswalt: 7.8 / 6
Lance Berkman: 11 / 10 mil
Well, that's some money. I'm kind of surprised we can offer the 29.5 million dollars we'd be spending if those big 3 accept those offers.
Brad Ausmus makes 2 million, Viz and Palmeiro both make around 1 million, Bagwell makes about 16 million, Pettitte goes up to 7.5 million, Lidge should get a raise to around 3 million, a mystery CFer will get around 3.5 million, and everyone else (that leaves Chavez, Lamb, Burke, Everett, Ensberg, Lane, Taveras, Backe, Munro, Redding, Hernandez, Duckworth, Qualls, Wheeler, Harville, Gallo, Burns, and Astacio) will probably average around 750K = (750)(18) = 13.5 million (I did that in my head....woooo.) So add all that up and it equals 77 million. Our payroll last year was 'only' 74.66 million. So what gives?
I know the Astros and the Rockets are getting a new TV deal that should increase revenue. And the team's succesful 2004 (one game away from WS, home sell-outs the entire last 1/4 of the season) should generate some buzz heading into '05.
I think I would rather spend the 29.5 million we could spend in arbitration on the big 3 by signing Berkman to a 5 year / 60 million dollar deal (a little less than what Vladi got) and Oswalt to a 4 year / 48 million dollar deal. That still leaves 5.5 million to play around with. Give Brian Jordan a 1 year / 1 million dollar deal, and give Esteban Loaiza a 1 year / 2 million dollar deal with up to 4.5 in incentives (200 IP, sub-4.00 ERA).
Of course, Clemens is a special case. It seemed like every home start he made was a sellout. He'll sell tickets. But my god, 22 million? I'd tell him to shove it up his ass, thanks for losing Game 7, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.