After a Whirlwind, the dust settles

added 12/15/2003 by Jeff Schneck

Well we know alot more about our team and their 2004 roster. WOW what an off season we have already and then there is the possibility that Clemens might join us instead of retiring too. The thoughts for the upcomming season are begining to make me giddy. But then again, I tend to get this way each season as I have wild fantasies about the Astros winning it all. But let's look at what we do know for sure.

Our Roster based on who is actually under contract:

 C: Brad Ausmus		$ 1,500,000
1B: Jeff Bagwell	$13,000,000
2B: Jeff Kent		$ 8,500,000
3B: Morgan Ensberg	$   325,000 (estimate)
SS: Adam Everett	$   325,000 (estimate)
LF: Lance Berkman	$ 6,500,000
CF: Craig Biggio	$ 6,000,000 (still would rather see him as a Utility guy)
RF: Richard Hidalgo	$12,000,000 (I am begining to doubt he will 
    be traded, but I can see us trying to re-work his deal(extension)
    and get out from the nasty option/buy-out for 2005)

 C: Raul Chavez		$   305,000 (estimate)
UT: Jose Vizcaino	$ 1,200,000
OF: Jason Lane		$   300,000 (estimate)
OF: Colin Porter	$   300,000 (estimate)
OF: Willy Taveres	$   300,000 (I doubt he makes the 25 man 
    roster, but if not we lose him, ala Victor Hall)

Starting Pitchers:

#1: Roy Oswalt		$ 3,000,000 (estimate)
#2: Andy Pettitte	$ 5,500,000 
#3: Wade Miller		$ 3,000,000 (estimate)
#4: Tim Redding		$   325,000 (estimate)
#5: Jeriome Robertson	$   325,000 (estimate)

CL: Octavio Dotel	$ 3,000,000 (estimate)
RP: Brad Lidge		$   325,000 (estimate)
RP: Brandon Duckworth	$   350,000 (estimate)(New Dotel project)
RP: Ricky Stone		$   350,000 (estimate)
RP: Mike Gallo		$   310,000 (estimate)
RP: Dan Miceli		$   600,000

WOW, we only have one roster spot available right now. That is either a Utility role, or a 12th member of the pitching staff. My personal thinking is we need a corner IFer, but since we just traded Blum for Brandon Backe you have to believe he might be the one with the inside track for the 25th slot. Given that he will make the minimum of $300K, that means we have a Roster cost of:

$55,400,000 (Known values plus 2 likely minimum value players: Backe and Taveres)

$12,540,000 (estimate values, using the ones I listed above)

For a grand total of $67,940,000. This gives us our wiggle room for later deals and still keeps us under $70,000,000.

Now that that is done, let's play the "What if..." game:

What if Roger Clemens is willing to play one last season for us. It would likely cost us some decent money (more than the $3 Million we have to keep us under $70 Million as a team). Also it would bump down people on the roster (my guess it would bump Redding or Robertson to AAA). My guess is that we would have to pay Roger somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 - $10 Million for that one season. All this is workable given the current roster value, and the potential payoff in ticket/TV revenue it would generate.

*** Side-note ***

I would like to see us get Roger to pitch for us in 2004, but I think Drayton ought to go to Roger and say something like this: "Roger we want you as part of our organization, either as a player (prefered) or as part of our coaching staff/player development, what do you think?" I think it would be foolish to have someone of his caliber this close, and not use him in whatever way he is willing. The same goes for my feeling on Nolan, imagine having Ryan and Clemens on your player development team for pitchers. Do you think they would give you a work-out/conditioning program that wouldn't make you team better in the long run. Also I have a friend who is a die-hard Red Sox fan, and he noted that you could see a change in the pitching of Mariono Rivera after Clemens arrived in New York. He began to learn how to set-up hitters better and be even more affective and not just relying on his "stuff". I think these two could be used as like a mentor program for some of our better pitching prospects (even Roy and Wade) and the development program would be even stronger.

*** End Side-note ***

My issue with the roster is, how often have we complained about a 13/12 breakdown of postion players to pitchers. If we were to move people around on the 25/40 man rosters we could send someone down from the bullpen (hopefully one with options) and bring up some like Bruntlett. -OR- We could package some of our excess starting pitching (Redding, Robertson, Hernandez, Saarloos) and acquire a better player for the bench. Perhaps even some prospects to bridge the gap we have at the moment at AAA.

I think right now we have an amazing amount of depth at starting pitching, which is never bad, the problem is our depth does not include anyone I would classify as "high potential" talent, although Buchholz could be that, but he is still a year away at least (I hope we are that patient). By "high potential" I mean guys who have a chance at being at least #2 type guys in a rotation. I view Redding, Robertson, Hernandez and Saarloos as being more #3 at best type guys (more likely back-end of the rotation guys). That is not to say they are bad, but wouldn't it be nicer to have less guys available, but better quality, rather than alot of decent guys?

We do have quite a bit a talent at our low levels pitching wise. From most reports I read, Lexington and possibly Round Rock will have some killer pitching staffs next season. Our farm system lacks depth in Position players and AAA pitchers at the moment, although if we sign Roger, we will likely have Saarloos, Hernandez and Redding/Robertson in AAA, which is still a pretty nice start to your starting staff in New Orleans.

So as the team sits right now, we look set, with the possible execption of Roger Clemens. I do not see us as being too active in the Free Agent market, unless we are looking to sign role players to fill the potential hole or two we have on the bench, or if we make a trade of some people I have listed as being on "my" 25-man roster. I think we might be looking to guys willing to sign "minor league" deals with Spring Training invites being part of it.

It is pretty amazing what we have been able to accomplish this quickly in the off-season. Now comes the worst part....

They waiting for Pitchers and Catchers to report in February.

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