Moehler an Astro in 2010? I vote yes. Yes on Randy Wolf, too.
The Astros won’t have much money to play with next year, and I’d like to see what extra they do have spent on pitching. The first thing I would do is pick up the option on Brian Moehler’s contract, which will be worth either $2.3 million if he pitches fewer than 150 innings this year, and $3 million if he exceeds that total. He’s pitched 119 innings so far and assuming he makes six more starts and averages six innings per start, he’ll come in just over 150.
So, for argument’s sake, let’s say the option is worth $3 million. Going over the projected salaries for 2010, four players will take up more than half the payroll — Lance Berkman ($14.5 million), Roy Oswalt ($15), Carlos Lee ($18.5) and Kaz Matsui ($5). Including Moehler’s option, that’s $56 million for five.
Drayton McLane has not set the payroll for next season, but for now let’s estimate it at $95 million. They’ll need about $21 million to cover the arbitration-eligible players. That leaves $18 million to spend on the rest of the team, with more than half the 25-man roster still undetermined. If Miguel Tejada agrees to play third base for $5 million, and Tommy Manzella and Jason Castro make the league minimum as the starting shortstop and catcher, respectively, I would fill the rest of the infield with Jeff Keppinger, who will probably cost a little less than $1 million in arbitration, and Geoff Blum, who the Astros probably could sign now for around $2 million.
The Astros will probably have to round out the bullpen with mostly young guys — Yorman Bazardo, Alberto Arias, Sammy Gervacio, Wesley Wright and Jeff Fulchino (he’ll be 30 next season, but he’s not yet arbitration-eligible, which puts him in the category of “young”). I have no idea what they’re going to do with the closer situation. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to afford to bring back Jose Valverde, who I’m assuming will be looking for a multi-year deal exceeding the $8 million he made this year. The Astros may be forced to try to either convert one of their young relievers into a closer or trade for a young pitcher viewed as a possible future closer.
Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez will get hefty raises in arbitration. I do not know what the final figures will be but I have Wandy penciled in for $5 million and Pence and Bourn making around $2 million.There are still approximately two bullpen spots and the two backup outfielder spots to fill. That doesn’t leave a lot of extra money to play with, but whatever wiggle room they have should be spent on a starting pitcher, and I would like to see them once again pursue Randy Wolf.
In Wolf, the team would be getting a veteran pitcher who has had success here and is, most importantly, healthy. They pulled their offer to him last year when the economy went in the toilet, and they took their chances on Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz. That didn’t pan out.
I’d rather spend a little extra on someone healthy and have a rotation that can survive the realities of this organization — the promising pitching prospects are still working their way through the system and will not be ready in 2010. That leaves them with little Major League-ready depth, which means they simply have to strengthen what they do have at this level. A Randy Wolf would be the perfect No. 3 to slide in behind Oswalt and Rodriguez and ahead of Norris and Moehler.
That’s my two cents. What say you?
Random pictures from a weekend of baseball at Minute Maid Park:
Michael Bourn, Sean Berry and Ed Wade have a laugh during batting practice.
Roy Oswalt signs autographs for young fans.
The Astros honor Kaz Matsui for logging his 2,000th career hit…
…And Carlos Lee for his 300th career home run.
Puma addresses a crowd of at least 5,000 on Faith and Family night.