Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Astros Notes

1) Well, this is ironic:

"Jeff Bagwell was supposed to have his surgically repaired right shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews this week, but Andrews suffered a heart attack over the weekend."

There's still plenty of time left before spring training, but at this point it just doesn't seem like we're going to have a healthy Bagwell in '06. No one from the organization is saying positive things, Bagwell has been quiet, we signed a free agent outfielder which would allow Berkman to move to 1B...and when your doctors start having heart attacks, maybe it's just not your year. I'd love to be wrong, but at this point, I don't think Jeff Bagwell will be our starting 1B in 2006.

2) Like Andy, I'm not particularly impressed by Trever Miller either. When one of the best things you can say about a guy is that he's "better than Mike Gallo", look out. I guess Miller isn't terrible (career 4.66 ERA, although he's been better than that the last 3 years - check out his career numbers here). Someone on Astros Daily mentioned: Miller isn't a pure situational lefty, but he's moreso than Gallo... he carries a .724 lefty-on-lefty OPS over the last 3 years, whereas Gallo is at .790. Anyway, here are the contract specifics:

"Trever Miller's $1.3 million option for 2007 will vest if he makes 50 appearances this season
Miller, who is guaranteed $1.3 million in 2006 under the terms of the deal signed yesterday, has made at least 60 appearances each of the last three years, so all he needs to do is stay healthy in order to have the option kick in."

So make that a probable 2 year / 2.6 million dollar deal, which isn't so good. Just to recap, we've now spent 1.7+1.9+2.6+7.5=13.7 million combined on Mike Lamb, Orlando Palmeiro, Brad Ausmus, and Trever Miller, four average-to-below average-players who are all on the wrong side of 30 years old.

Here's what our GM had to say:

"He's a high character type of person, which is obviously something that's very important to us," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said of Miller. "But No. 1 is his ability on the mound. We've been looking for a lefty reliever to come in and help stabilize our bullpen and give us another option in the bullpen on the left side with Mike Gallo. It gives Phil a lot of versatility. I talked to Phil (Sunday) night. He was really pleased to have another lefty on board that can give him the ability to use maybe one lefty earlier in the game and another lefty later in the game. Really, since Phil and I started working together, this has been his goal. His goal is to get two lefties in the bullpen, and I think this accomplishes that. It gives us that versatility."

Ugh. Miller AND Gallo in the same bullpen, when we could have Nieve or Bucholz or some younger guy with potential? I don't care if they're both left-handed; they're both below-average. AND WHY IS CHARACTER SO IMPORTANT TO THE ASTROS?? Expect to see a lot of one-batter-faced outings for Gallo and Miller, a fair amount of which will end up badly for the Astros.

3) We'll end on a happy note:

The National League champion Astros were the team closest to landing Miguel Tejada, FOXSports.com has learned, offering closer Brad Lidge, shortstop Adam Everett and either outfielder Jason Lane or Willy Taveras.

That would have been a great trade, especially if Taveras was the 3rd player. Lidge is a dominant closer, but he is unlikely to stay healthy for much longer, and both Qualls and Wheeler should be able to close. Adam Everett should not be starting in the majors, and Taveras will never have higher trade value. To combine those three into four years of Miguel Tejada, who gives you excellent offense, solid defense, and no injury risk at a premium position, would have been incredible. I'm still hoping we could revisit those trade talks, because Tejada is a stud.

4) One more piece of good news:

The Astros offered a minor-league contract to former Pirates catching prospect J.R. House.

Anytime we try to sign a catching prospect, it's a good thing, but House was an offensive star in the minors (most recently, he put up an 852 OPS in AAA in 2004), and he's still only 26. Check out his career stats in the minors here. He probably wouldn't get much playing time for a few years, but House was one of the Pirates' top prospects, and it appears he's mostly recovered from shoulder surgery. I like this move.


Andres said...

Just think if we still had Julio Lugo! We quickly dismissed him when we heard he allegedly beat his wife, a charge which (I think) was later dropped.

Some players get DUIs. Others punch fans. Some even blast the media. But many of these bad boys (Ryan Freel, Milton Bradley, Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds) are damn good players.

Lugo would have been a beast for us the past couple years, and our Adam Everett problems would have been non-existent.

I don't think the Astros should simply drop their "good character" rule altogether. After all, it does seem to help create an amiable locker room, and many potential free agents are drawn to that. Pettitte and Clemens didn't just want to play for their hometown team. You think anyone from Kansas City wants to play for the Royals? No, Pettitte and Clemens wanted to pitch for the Astros because of our organization.

Still, I wish we had Lugo.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about Lugo. I think the Astros would've been chomping at the bit to get their hot prospect (Everett) up to the majors as soon as possible. We would've probably traded Lugo now, in hopes of having a lower-salaried young SS in our lineup. Of course, we might have gotten something in return too...

As far as the Astros policy of good character guys, who can complain about this, unless it keeps real talent off the field. If Drayton is willing to pay (perhaps) a premium for character guys, it is commendable for an owner to prefer guys who represent the team well and who keep the clubhouse in harmony. Cancer can spread quickly.

-Matt R.

Scott Barzilla said...

As usual, good call on most of the minor deals we've signed this off-season. This Bagwell situation is becoming very messy. That's usually what happens when you give a huge contract to someone approaching their mid-thirties. Here's hoping Drayton is learning something from this.