Alou or Not Alou?

added 6/23/2001 by Susan Evans and Darrell Pittman

Thanks for taking time to read this, the initial offering of Double Play.

Just to introduce you to the authors, we are Susan Evans and Darrell Pittman.  You may have read some of our At the Game reports on The Astros Daily.  We are engaged to be married this September.

Like most couples, we don't always agree on everything (to say the least), so most often, this column will be presenting our differing takes on topics of timely relevance to the Houston Astros in specific, and baseball in general.  One thing we do agree on is that we love our 'Stros.  We hope that we can make this column at least mildly interesting along the way.

Please feel free to contact us individually via the hyperlinks given above, or at our shared mailbox, if you have comments or feedback about anything we write on these pages.  We also scan the The Astros Daily Forum a couple of times a day if you want to post something there.

We'd both like to thank Ray Kerby, not only for giving us the opportunity to write this column, but also for all his hard work and dedication to excellence that goes into making The Astros Daily such a great fan website.  Thanks also go to all the other contributors to this site, who have given us all so much cogent analysis, facts, opinions, and hours of reading enjoyment.

Susan and Darrell in February 1999

Susan’s Take

OK, I admit, last season I was ready to trade Moises Alou;  to just get rid of him.  Yes, his bat was good, but defensively, he was letting more balls get away than he caught.  It seemed that he was lazy in the outfield, not willing to run.  I remember more than one occasion when he was playing left field, it appeared that he was just strolling toward the ball, waiting for it to come to him.

Now that rumors and speculation are flying around about what to do next year about Alou, I have mixed feelings on the subject.  His bat is hot and he is really shining defensively.  My theory is that last year, he was afraid of hurting himself again, so he didn’t play hard.  But now he is completely healed, he can run and dive, twist and turn, whatever it takes to do the job. 

But when push comes to shove, my opinion is that we have enough hot young bats to carry us into the future.   With Alou being eligible for free agency next year, the team management should not be investing the kind of money that he will probably be able to command.  Who knows when he could get hurt again and end up sitting out the season.  I’d rather take the chance and get two good young players for one Alou.

Darrell's Take

Moises Alou is a hitting machine.  The term most of the other Astros players use to describe him is "professional hitter."  When Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio use the term professional to describe someone, you can bet that that's about the highest form of praise in their book.

Except for Bagwell's legendary effort in the strike-shortened 1994 season, he's the only Astro to have seriously contended for the National League batting title.  I think everyone can agree that by today's salary standards, having Alou's services at $5 million is a bargain.  No way we trade him this year... that $5 mil is buying way too much hitting for us to trade him.

As I write this, the man is hitting .353, and his career average is .303.  His 2001 season OPS is .994!  Not too shabby.

Granted, he's 35 years old and injury prone, but right now, he (and we fans) are enjoying a career year.  If he can stay healthy (and granted, that's a big if), I think he's got a couple more good years left in him before he has to go to the Junior Circuit to DH, ending his career there.

Letting him go free agent would be a dumb move on the Astros' part, but unfortunately, it would be just the sort of bonehead personnel move the Astros have been making the last few years.

If I were Gerry Hunsicker or Drayton McLane, I'd sit down with Moises and talk.  I'd point out that he's been happy playing in Houston, that Enron Field is a great hitter's park and perfectly suited to him, and that he has friends here.  I don't know whether I'd mention that we paid him $5 million to sit out injured all of '99.  I'd offer him a two-year contract, say $7 million the first year and $8 million the next, well below his free-market value (estimated at $10 million) but still a respectable increase that, combined with the other incentives to stay, might just keep Moises wearing an Open Star another two years.

As to its effect on Daryle Ward, well, I'm sure he'd be disappointed, perhaps even upset enough to want to be traded.  I'm just not convinced that he's ready for prime time.  Yes, he's had a hot bat (though not as hot as Alou's), and he's had a great attitude playing backup, but I just don't quite buy all the hype about "first baseman of the future" or "outfielder of the future".  We have Bagwell signed for four more seasons after this one, and the outfield is loaded with talent.  More importantly, the farm system is bulging at the seams with young talent that will be more than ready by the time Bagwell (and Biggio, for that matter) retire.

I say re-sign Alou to a two-year contract if we can, even though we have to dig a little deeper into the pocketbook, but no way do we trade him this year.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it.  It's a tough call either way, because a good arguments can be made on both sides.

Where do you stand?  Let us know.

Susan and Darrell

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