Hunsicker and the 40 Man Roster
added 8/6/2001 by Steve Cutchen
Folks seem to ALWAYS second guess Gerry Hunsicker's roster moves. For example, trading Scott Elarton, a young, strong pitcher for Pedro Astacio. Or trading another good young starter in Tony McKnight for the last part of Mike William's final contract year. But Gerry is under not only salary constraints. He's also under the pressure of the 40 Man Roster.
Sometimes, the Astros have to trim the roster from the top to make room for the guys coming up.
You know this.
You've see The Lion King.
It's the Circle of Life!
Trimming From the Top
As examples of the typical fan reaction to recent trades, I've been told the following:
"Astacio won't be around after this year, because he's got an option for $9 million next year and is really nothing more than a #3 starter. The Astros gave up 3 years of Elarton for 3 months of Astacio. Not at all a good trade."
"Williams is a nice pick-up if we can re-sign him. If not, he cost us McKnight."
A good farm system starts to squeeze you from below when you don't have enough 40-man roster slots to hold your 25 plus the good prospects that are Rule 5 eligible.
Last winter we lost Eric Ireland to this numbers game. The Cubs picked him up and traded him to the Oakland A's for Matt Stairs.
You have to start culling somewhere. That is the point of this structure as negotiated by the Player's Association. It forces the team's hands to do something with players or make them eligible for some other team.
To work the system, you have to decide who is not long term. Then you try to trade them for either someone you can use NOW or for someone that is young enough to buy you a bit of time on the minors roster.
That is the basis for this deal with Elarton and McKnight. Looking at the organization and the projected progressions, the Astros felt that neither were long term Astros in the show. So when can you get value for them versus play out their string here? With this pennant race, the Astros obviously feel that we have a chance to win THIS YEAR. So we make a move now for some immediate help. Whether Astacio or Williams are around next year is beside the point; we were going to have to cull the 40-man roster anyway, and we'd decided Elarton and McKnight were on that list. So spend them for help in THIS YEAR'S pennant race.
My Take on the End of Season 40 Man Roster
OK. So maybe this argument makes sense. But do we REALLY have to cull from the top THIS YEAR? Were Elarton and McKnight going to have a chance at the 40-man roster at the end of the season?
To answer that question, I've gone through my own analysis of the Astros organization and decided what I think the 40-man roster will look like after the end of the season.
Surprises Because They DID Make it
Surprises Because They DIDN'T Make it
That's my Knuckleball. Try to hit it.
My 40 Man Roster Table