On Carl Crawford, the 2011 infield, and our own Emmy winning TV star.

It’s never too early for a little Hot Stove chatter…

Let’s get this one out of the way now: Carl Crawford is from Houston, he’s only 29, and he can do a lot of things really well — hit for average, hit for power, play tremendous defense…plus, he’s fast (as kids, he and childhood buddy Michael Bourn were pretty much considered the fastest runners in Houston and used to go toe-to-toe, literally, for bragging rights.) In a nutshell, Crawford is that five-tool player worthy of a nice, fat contract and appears to be the most attractive free agent about to hit the market this winter.

A lot of you have asked what the odds are that the Astros will be the team to sign him to that nice, fat contract. I put the odds at slim to none.

The numbers I’m hearing bandied about from industry insiders is six years at $120 million or seven at $140 million. Yes, there will be a team out there goofy enough to shell out that kind of cash. I cannot envision it’ll be the Astros.

The payroll is not yet set, but it’s going to be somewhat lower than the $93 million it was when the season started, and higher than the $50-some million it was when the season ended. The Astros will be able to retain all of the arbitration-eligible players they want to bring back, and they’ll have some wiggle room to fill in gaps (fifth starter, utility infielder, bullpen, etc.). But to sign Crawford means allotting what could be as much as one-quarter of the entire payroll to one player. That’s a bad blueprint, regardless of how great of a player Crawford is.

Plus, you know how I feel about signing Type A free agents, which will cost the team its first-round draft pick. Losing first-rounders is part of what contributed to the dip in Minor League talent over the last decade, and while the farm system is slowly replenishing itself, the Astros are not yet to the point where they should be sacrificing those precious picks.

(Update 10/20: I had that wrong…totally forgot about the rule that protects teams that finish in bottom half of standings from losing their first-rounder. Sorry about that…that being said, it won’t have any bearing on the Astros not being in on the bidding for Crawford.)

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To-do list

So what are the priorities this offseason? The Astros will be looking for fifth starter candidates (Felipe Paulino and Jordan Lyles are two internal options), a utility infielder and possibly a left-handed hitting outfielder who could platoon with Jason Michaels in left field.

Left field might be open, should Carlos Lee move to first base. That could change if Brett Wallace wins the first base job outright during Spring Training, sending Carlos back to left. These are scenarios that will sort themselves out next spring, but look for the Astros to search for some backup outfield help (Brian Bogusevic is an internal candidate to fill that role).

The Astros will also look at second base and shortstop and decide if they want to stick with Jeff Keppinger and Tommy Manzella, respectively. Keppinger had a terrific year, producing the most consistent numbers of any position player on the roster. He’s also under club control for two more seasons, which makes him an attractive piece to keep around. Manzella, and Angel Sanchez, are less of a sure thing.

Manzella needs to hit a little more to really establish himself at this level, and Sanchez, as good as he was offensively, may not be the answer from a defensive standpoint. His range was decent, but his arm strength is somewhat of an issue.

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Applause, applause

Big congratulations to FS Houston’s Patti Smith, Max Mejia and Marshall Hooker, each of whom took home a Lone Star Emmy under the category of “Sports — One-time Special” for their “Spotlight” show about Miguel Tejada in 2009.

Our own Jim Deshaies also won an Emmy in the “On Camera Talent” for, well, be an outstanding on-air analyst.

The eighth annual Lone Star Emmys took place Sunday night in Dallas. Kudos to all of the winners…

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Terribly tragic news from out Latin American operation: Astros Venezuelan Scout Luimac Quero passed away in the early morning hours on Sunday from a heart attack at the age of 26. He is survived by his wife Klineidy Leon, who is three months pregnant, and his one year old daughter, Megan Quero. Deep condolences to his family.

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From the photo vault…

Here we have an image of one of the first photo shoots for the Astros pet calendar, probably taken about four years ago. My only question is, what were they feeding that cat?!?! (The kitty cat, not the Puma.)

1013_puma_cat.jpg

 

11 Comments

Alyson,

I couldn’t agree more, don’t throw away the future on 1 player. Carl would be a great addition, but not at the cost!
Wallace didn’t show a whole lot, hopefully he works on his hitting during the off-season. Moving Carlos to first would be the best move.

Bogusevic and Michaels could platoon in left field. Bourne and Bourgeois have center field covered, Hunter pretty much has right field covered.

Keppinger did a good job, and should be the second baseman for the next few years. Manzella did a great job in the field, and knows he needs work in the area of hitting, so he’ working on that this off season. Hopefully his bat will come around. Sanchez is do-able at short, but from what I could tell Manzella has a better arm and fielding.

I was terribly disappointed Blum wasn’t resigned. I think he brought a lot of leadership and ability to play different positions. I still think they should resign him.

Lopez pitched great! Potential closer? Perhaps!

The pitchers really were a bright part of this past year!

But one questions what happen to Chris Sampson?

Will he regain his form or be out?

Thanks Alyson, for the baseball talk…great for us guys who see football as a way to pass the time until spring training. You’ve always got something fun and intelligent to say.

For Puma’s sake I hope that pissed-off kitty was declawed! Alyson, we hope you keep us entertained, at least on a weekly basis, with your insight, your photos and your wonderful written words. It is going to be a long winter, however, there is much to look forward to in the Spring!

Alyson as much as I agree with your opinions here I thought I’d say that I’m pretty sure we have a protected first round pick. The top 15 are unchanged, we are #11, since Arizona & San Diego have compensations for not signing their drafts from last year. That really puts us at #9, but the point being we have a protected first round pick. Having said that, I’m not up for sacrificing our second round pick either. Its too important for us to rebuild the farm right now.

You always hear gaudy predictions on salary offers for big name free agents, but Craw Daddy will not be a 20+ mil guy. His stats are comparable to guys who make 12 – 15 mil max. Soft economy and major market teams at or near their limit means that Crawfors will be decided on intangibles like Bourn’s friendship, spotlight, and hometown support. We have money to burn and a protected draft pick. We have very few holes to fill, so 15 mil or so is do=able. We need offense before we all stop watching completely. Dunn is a crud defender and strikeouy liability, Konerko is old as He!!, and all we need is an offensive spark with power and average, Omar Infante at SS!!!, or Marco Scutaro. Garland/ C. Young/ Javier Vazquez/ or equivelant 5 -7mil pitcher, and 1 great bullpen guy (consistent lefty.) We fill LF, Lee at 1B, CF is covered as is RF, Kepp at 2B, Infante at SS, and CJ at 3B. WE NEED JOHN BUCK AT CATCHER!!! HELLO POSTSEASON! Still under 100 mil.

mugaro…you’re absolutely right, I totally forgot about the rule that protects teams that finish in the bottom half of the standings from losing their first-rounder should they sign a Type A. That said, it won’t change the Astros’ chances to sign Crawford. Thanks!
Alyson

Mug, as usual you make some good points. I agree in the current economic situation of our country, 12-15M may sign Crawford. My nightmares involve Lee. Either situation, Lee at first or Lee in left is a detriment to the team. He is a “me” player and will only diminish what Ed Wade has done so far. Hopefully with his contract now, a limited no trade contract, we can move him to an unsuspecting AL team. We cannot afford his less than average defense at either position, especially since his offense has, and will continue to decline.

Mug, as usual you make some good points. I agree in the current economic situation of our country, 12-15M may sign Crawford. My nightmares involve Lee. Either situation, Lee at first or Lee in left is a detriment to the team. He is a “me” player and will only diminish what Ed Wade has done so far. Hopefully with his contract now, a limited no trade contract, we can move him to an unsuspecting AL team. We cannot afford his less than average defense at either position, especially since his offense has, and will continue to decline.

Actually I don’t know if Omar Infante is a free agent, anyone know? I’m pretty sure Marco Scutaro is on about a 3 year deal, and he’s getting up there in age. No one will disagree that an outfield of CC/MB/HP would be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball in the past several years. John Buck as a catcher? Not a terrible idea, but I like Castro. Picking up a reliable LHP in the bullpen shouldnt be too hard, every team’s bullpen changes every single year. A journeyman LHP, Infante or Orlando Cabrera, just a decent SS. Add Garland, Chris Young, Javier Vasquez or someone as a reliable #4 or #5 guy and it sounds great. Playoffs! But do we have enough to go deep into the playoffs? I’m not sure. I’d love to be a division winner, but I want it all and not a quick fix just to get swept in the division series like the NL Central champ has done the past 4 years in a row.

We would not be “Throwing Away” our future, you bone heads! He’s 29!(Craw Daddy). He could be a foundation for years to come with very high upside and no reason to consider statistical sliding. Ok, so if we act like we don’t care, Drayton won’t do it. Fine! OMAR INFANT/ JHONNY PERALTA at SS/2B/3B!Talk about 2 utility infielders with real talent and under 30. MIGUEL OLIVO / JOHN BUCK at C! DONTRELLE WILLIS as RP and fight for rotation spot. A 1 mil contract w/incentives would do it. Worth a gamble! ADAM LAROCHE at 1B/ LF! Young, power, RBIs, BB’s, great defender. Always hit well at MMP. JONNY GOMES at LF! Not a single one of these guys would cost over 10m. Most are around 5, and we stupidly gave Lyon 5 mil? SPEND THE CASH!!! WE WANT TO WIN NOW!!!!!!

Carl Crawford = postseason

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