Archive for January, 2006

As The Baggy Turns, Episode 6: Baggy Speaks

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Thanks to Steve Schramm for sending me this video link.

Patty Smith from Fox Sports Southwest interviews Jeff, who actually gets a little bit of emotion in his voice. For once. He also explains why he thinks a man should work for his paycheck. I don’t think I have ever heard Baggy talk this much in my whole life.
Check it out:
http://video.msn.com/v/us/v.htm?g=c0e39404-c392-4ea5-8ef7-56cf693781a9&f=rss33

Roger Clemens also pitched batting practice at Astros mini camp, sez he hopes to pitch in the WBC, and heaven knows what happens after that. That boy sure DO luuuvvv for folks to beg him, don’t he…

As The Baggy Turns, Episode 5: Off The Cliff or Into the Sunset?

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Why dontcha just f-f-f-f-fade away?

Or is it – “old soldiers never die – they just fade away…” (Douglas Mac Arthur)

Getting old happens to all of us. Even if you never abuse your body, hurt yourself and live a perfect healthy lifestyle with no stress (how IS that even possible) you gonna get old. The day comes when you finally have to face that your body simply will NOT do what it used to.

Problem is, you don’t become a major league baseball player by giving up and giving in to tiredness, sore muscles, aching joints or time itself. You look at the young guys on the field and think – I’m bettern THEY are. And maybe your ability to read pitches, to read fly balls and ground balls and your understanding of strategy is incredibly better than theirs, true. But you STILL have to have the reflexes to swing the bat at the exact right second, to get the right jump on the ball, to be able to run, spring, dive and the arm strength to throw it.

So when does a guy who has been an elite athlete all his life look at himself and say – man I just can’t do this no more.

Or, maybe, the better question is – IF someone tells him – man you just can’t do this no more, when does he believe it, or maybe I should say, WHY does he finally believe it? Even when some players say they would play for the minimum ML salary, they STILL can’t get a nibble, and some go to the indy leagues (Devon White, Rickey) thinking they could still play at the ML level.
IF Baggy (yeah, yall KNEW I was gonna get around to him, hunh) didn’t have a guaranteed contract this year, would he STILL be trying to rehab and show up at spring training? How much would it take to convince him self that he couldn’t play at the ML level any more?

I’m going to quote Richard Justice’s entire article from today’s Houston Chronicle:

If I could be Drayton McLane for a day, I’d be waiting at the door when Jeff Bagwell walked into the clubhouse this week at Minute Maid Park. Jeff, I’d tell him, I’ve been doing some hard thinking. I’ve had some sleepless nights. I’m guessing you have, too.I don’t like the way this thing has played out. I don’t like the way we’ve handled some things, and I certainly don’t like the things you’ve said about the Astros. I’m here today without an attorney or an agent or a doctor.

I’m here to tell you that we’ve done too many good things together to have it end like this. I’m here to offer you a compromise because you’re as much a part of this franchise as any man who has lived. You represent all the things I want the Astros to be. What you’ve contributed can’t be measured in dollars or playoff appearances. You’ve done even more. You’ve left a legacy that has been passed to the next generation of players. Last summer, when those kids made one of the great turnarounds in history, they were following the example you and Craig Biggio set every single day.

You’re professionals in every sense of the word. You play the same way – as hard in April as you do in September. You play hard when it’s 2-2, and you play hard when it’s 10-2. You don’t know any other way.

I look at how guys such as Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg care so much, how they’re not affected by the score or the standings or anything else. They might be inclined to do it anyway, but you were the living, breathing example they followed. Hopefully, Adam and Morgan will pass their legacy to the next generation. And it’ll still be yours.

We’ve done well together. You’ve made a boatload of money and, to be honest, I’ve done pretty well myself. I couldn’t live with myself without at least seeing if there were a deal to be made.

Here it is. I want you in spring training. I want you in uniform. I want you out there hitting and throwing and running. I want you to find out if you can still play. Our doctors say your career is done. They say your right shoulder simply won’t allow you to be an everyday player anymore. That’s why we filed an insurance claim to collect $15.6 million. We had no choice. We had to protect ourselves. That’s why we purchased the insurance in the first place. Even in the screwy world of baseball economics, $15.6 million is a lot of money. The thing is, the doctors might be wrong. Because they can’t measure heart and determination. They can’t measure how badly you want to play again. They can quantify the damage to your shoulder, but in the end, they have no idea if you’re capable of playing. I’ve read where you’ve been encouraged by your rehabilitation and that you think you’ll be good to go by opening day. I don’t know whether this is an honest assessment or a great warrior’s refusal to give in to reality.

The thing is, I believe in you. I’ve seen you accomplish too much. If you say you can do it, then I think you can. So I’m willing to withdraw the insurance claim. Come to spring training, put the uniform on and go for it.

I’m doing this even though neither of us has any idea if you can play. I’m doing it even though you’re probably never going to be the dominant player you once were. In truth, we don’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know. I just feel you deserve a chance.

Stop smiling until you’ve heard the rest of the deal. This is the tough part. This is the part you’re not going to like.
In return, I’m going to ask you to be honest. You’ve told me you’d never do anything to embarrass yourself or the Astros. If you get down to Florida, or if you get into April or May and find the shoulder won’t allow you to continue, I want you to retire. Yes, you heard right. I’m asking you to walk away and accept a settlement of your contract. You’ve got around $25 million coming to you over the next two years.

You’re going to make $17 million this year. You’ve got $8 million guaranteed for 2007 (not covered by insurance). I’m risking $15.6 million by withdrawing the claim. But if I win, you lose. Your career probably is over. If you win, you come to spring training under the worst circumstances possible.

So let’s make a deal. Remember the time we worked out a deal at that Whataburger near the Astrodome? Let’s do another deal like that. Let’s agree to divide the $15.6 million. I’ll pay $7.8 million; you pay $7.8 million.
Other players have left money on the table. Mark McGwire walked away from $30 million because he didn’t feel he was worth it. The thing is, if you can still play - I mean play the way Jeff Bagwell should play - you’ll get all $25 million. That’ll be $133 million in 15 years. Guess what? You’ve been worth every penny of it. Good for you.

I think it’s funny that some people say you can no longer play. They haven’t done their homework, have they? You played 2003 and 2004 with a bum shoulder and had 66 home runs and 189 RBIs. You’re not as good as you once were, but you’re in the upper echelon. Ensberg had what you would consider an average season, and we’re clearing a spot in Cooperstown. That’s the problem with setting the bar so high.

Maybe you’re not going to like this deal. Maybe you’d rather go down the road we’re headed. No one is going to win doing it this way. Take a couple of days to think about it and get back to me. I’m asking you to do something unprecedented. I know it won’t be easy.
I just want this to end the right way. I want it for the Astros. I want it for you. And when you’re done playing, we’ll find the perfect job in the organization. You’ll be a coach or an instructor or a scout or an ambassador. Whatever you want to do.
What you’ll mainly do is be an Astro. Forever.

And let’s let bygones be bygones.
By the way, you might have noticed the huge posters of you and Roger Clemens were removed from the exterior of Minute Maid Park. OK, I overreacted. I’ll have ‘em put back up there.
If you see Roger, don’t tell him I had his taken down, too. That was Hunsicker’s idea.

- I agree with everything Justice has said here. I think this is a VERY fair deal.
smile
- Only problem I see is that Jeff is gonna hafta look at the man in the mirror with an honest eye, and I think that may be the toughest thing he’s ever had to do.
But I want Jeff to be Mr. Astro, and I think every single Astros fan wants that too. Sometimes, you just have to compromise so you don’t have to compromise your integrity.

J.R. in the House

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

We just signed J.R. House to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

He was signed out of HS in the 5th round of the 99 draft by the Pirates. I remember him, the Pirates Catcher Of The Future – gonna replace Jason Kendall, who Kevin McClatchy supposedly regretted signing to that 6 year 60 mill contract the second the ink was dry (you know, I never believe this “regretting” bullstuff. You see, these owners didn’t have no gun at their heads. The big contracts by stingy owners like McClatchy are ONLY for having a handy dandy explanation how the big contract hurting the team and it’s why they can’t sign no one else or keep other good FA. Notice it don’t explain why the minor league system ain’t developing decent minor leaguers and why the ones they DO develop aren’t really appreciated – say, Chris Shelton, Craig Wilson and a WHOLE lot more.)

Anyhow, back to House. He sure nuff hasn’t replaced Kendall in the Pirates plans. Well, maybe that ain’t so – he’s not there enither. He tore up the Sally League in 2000, was hurt all of 01, spent a LOT of time on the DL in 02 and 03, came back reasonably strong in 04 – had an 852 OPS in 92 games. He’s 2 fer 10 in 10 ML AB, in case yall curious. Then he decided he wanted to play football in college in 05 – guess that didn’t work out real too good, and he decided to come back to baseball.

The Pirates have Humberto Cota and Ryan Doumit and they are both young, cheap and decent catchers. We have, well, let me be nice here – can’t nobody in our minor league system catch AND hit. So what the heck – a $52K gamble. And by the way, I have NO idea how JR is with calling games or throwing.

As The Baggy Turns, Episode 4: A Bag of Questions

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Red Sox got their Theo
Yankees got their beast
Astros got the Baggy Problem
A few months to solve at least…
(apologies to Jim Croce)

James writes (in italics)
Do we know what January 31 means in this mess? Is it only a filing deadline? or is a final medical determination necessary? or something in the middle?

- that’s a good question and I’m glad you asked. It’s important to feel free to ask questions, especially important questions. Yes, in a free society, if we don’t feel free to ask questions, we can hardly be a free society. Especially if you don’t feel free to ask questions you believe are important. And we can see you see we see that that question is important to you, yes it is. I am glad you feel free to ask these important questions. The Astros Organization welcomes all questions from its faithful fans. Thank you for asking this important question.

Next question….
(hey, I gotta practice in case I ever wanna work for the media, or the Organization…)
Do we know what January 31 means in this mess? Is it only a filing deadline? or is a final medical determination necessary? or something in the middle?
- OK, I can see it’s time for a little interpretation from me.
We have NO idea, because we have only heard what the Organization says Jan 31 means. Apparently, a claim that Baggy is totally disabled and unable to play must be filed by this date. Mind, I think it MUST mean to play for the Astros, a NL team, which has NO DH. Unfortunately, ML ballplayers CAN be strictly pinch hitters (ala Lenny Harris). We are talking 15.6 million dollars here. We are talking an insurance company here. I will believe that men can get themselves pregnant before I will believe that ANY insurance company will just fork over 15.6 MILLION simoleons without having their own doctors examine Baggy

What happens if Baggy goes to ST, gives it his best shot, then ǃÚagrees to go on the DLǃ٠for the year, before opening day? No insurance pay out?
- no one has definitely answered this question.

What if he goes to ST and is injured in another way and cannot play the year? no insurance?
- I have a REAL hard time believing that there is ZERO insurance if Baggy is disabled AFTER Jan 31. I have a REAL easy time believing that the Astros will get SOME money, but not no 15.6 mill.

What happens if the Astros file and claim Baggy is disabled, against his will? – Baggy is S.O.L. This is what happened to Pat Meares a few years ago. In fact, Pat Meares, if I recollect rightly, insisted he could play, but he was ignored. Of course, we are not talking no 15.6 mill a year here.

Baggy is under contract, so I assume he can’t play elsewhere.
- he can IF he “retires”/quits and kisses 25 mill goo-by

If Baggy goes to Kissimee, as he has stated, will the Astros security prevent him from entering the facility?
- they can, I suppose. That will look REALLY bad – there will be media and cameras and microphones. I would guess that he can come in the facility, but he won’t have a uniform for him and his name won’t be in any lineup for practice.

or does the claim of disability allow Baggy to go to another club?
- not unless he is released or traded. And he is a 10/5 guy, so he can’t be traded against his will. IF he was released and hooked on with another club and was able to play at a ML level, it would be REAL interesting to see if the insurance company would demand repayment of the “disability” claim…

The guy is only a first class citizen, potential HOFer, long-time fan favorite who deferred income to help the team / business field a competive product, who is working out diligently to rehab his shoulder.
- you got THAT right.

First, pay the man. Don’t screw with his earnings.
- folks forgetting that the way contracts are written, he is guaranteed a certain sum – it is NOT a renewable yearly contract – but instead, the lump sum is paid out over so many years. It isn’t a question of this year, he don’t play, he shouldn’t get paid for that year’s “work.”

Next, find a way to give him a chance to find out if he can play up to his standards. Baggy has earned enough trust to know when it’s over. He should be allowed some input into when its time to go.
- like I said before, it is flat out, um, not real too cool to suddenly inform Baggy mid January that the Organization expects him to be in playing shape, instead of after Spring Training, as Baggy said about a zillion times he would be. As I said to another commenter, I am POSITIVE that the Organization didn’t say ONE thing to Baggy bout this Jan 31 “filing deadline.” Why? Because Purpura could look earnestly at the cameras and say, reproachfully – we explained this ALL to Jeff and his agent right after the Series and we are surprised at the depth of this “misunderstanding.” Of course, Jeff shoulda known something up when Purpura talked about trying to find another OUTFIELDER back in November. And of COURSE he has earned the right to go out with dignity, instead of being tossed like a Bag of Garbage…

NEXT COMMENT @ 9:10 PM:
Steve says:
The problem is simply that Bagwell wants his millions (who wouldn’t?) and he wants to play ball this year because he knows his body probably won’t make it to next year.
- of COURSE he wants to be paid the rest of the money he is owed. AND he is willing to work for it. He COULD, of course, just shut up, take the benjamins and be somewhere else.

But for both of those things to happen, he must play for the Astros, unless he agreed to be traded and the Astros would agree to trade him, and that’s not happening because no one is going to pay him $17M and the Astros aren’t going to eat the dough to get another team to take him.
- yep

Drayton is rich, sure, but he’d be stupid to flush $15.7M down the toilet. So he’ll file the claim to initiate the battle with Lloyds of London and keep his options open.
- look – I got NO problem with Drayton trying to cover what might could be a loss. What I got a problem with is his embarassing and humiliating Baggy like this when he perfectly well could have sat down with Baggy last fall and put the cards on the table like a decent honest guy. I also have a REAL hard time believing that the insurance will pay ZERO if any claim is filed for any reason after Jan 31. In my opinion, the reason that the Organization hasn’t said so is because they KNOW they would look bad for making Baggy look like a dirtball this way and for not giving him the chance to show what he actually CAN do at the time he expected to have to show it. I would also bet that the Organization WOULD get SOME insurance $$$ but not 15.6 mill and THAT is why Drayton and gang are filing for the Jan 31 deadline.

Meanwhile, the Astros will see how Bags looks heading into Spring Training. If he can whip the ball across the diamond and still hit, then they’ll probably let him in and ditch the insurance claim.
- they will HAVE to ditch the insurance claim whether they want to or not. Because if the insurance company sees him playing at the ML level, they will deny the claim anyhow.

But if he looks more or less as he has the past few years, they’ll play hardball with him (so to speak) and force him to the DL so they can fight for the insurance money.
- if he looks like he did last fall, I don’t think they’ll HAVE to force Baggy anywhere. Baggy don’t want even more bad PR from making a damfool of hisself after all this…

As The Baggy Turns, Episode 4: And Dontcha Come Bag No More

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Well, the Baggy Saga is getting some play in the national press – a few lines on ESPN. But us being a thousand miles away from Bristol, Conneticut, the center of the Sports Universe means that the Saga is on like the local public access channel instead of prime time.
So let me bring you up to speed.
How’s that ol song go? (apologies to Ray Charles)

Hit the road, Bags
And dontchu come bag no more no more no more no more
Hit the road, Bags
And dontchu come back no moreeeeeeeee

Here is Jose de Jesus Ortiz’ column from the Chronicle:
Here are the first three sentences:
“Just in case there’s any doubt, Jeff Bagwell is adamant that he will be at Osceola County Stadium for the first full-squad workout at spring training on Feb. 24. It also appears that the franchise’s relationship with their veteran first baseman is irreparably damaged or, at least, in need of severe mending.
It probably will never be fixed between me and the Astros, Bagwell said Tuesday morning in his first public comments since general manager Tim Purpura declared Monday that Bagwell from a technical point of view right now he is a disabled player. He can’t play professional baseball — certainly not at the National League at this point.
- Just great. Purpura tries to kinda sorta a little smooth things over by saying that well, they gotta submit documents to the insurance company by a deadline you know how that is gee we wish Baggy could play like the old Baggy, blah, blah, blah. Uh hunh.

Baggy is not THAT stupid. And Baggy has had 17 years of practice of saying a lot of words that don’t say anything, you know. And a lot of the – just gonna go out and win one for the gipper – sort of stuff.

Now he says this – IN QUOTES, mind you :
“To me more than anything else, it’s just amazing how bad they don’t want me to play, said the Astros’ all-time leader in home runs and RBIs. Anything else said it’s just not the truth. They just want to collect their money. It’s an awkward situation. It’s just amazing to me how much they don’t want me to play.”
- Apparently the team doctor has concluded from Dr. Andrews tests that Baggy has a bad shoulder. I’m shocked, SHOCKED.

At what, you ask?
Why, that the team doctor says JUST what the team wants to hear. And of course, that Baggy has a bad shoulder.
And of course that apparently nobody from the Organization got around to telling Baggy about the January 31 deadline for the insurance company. And humiliated him like this in the press.

Of course, then CAN put him on the DL with or without his say so and force him to sit out the year. Like I said before, the question is – will Baggy go along like a lamb to the slaughter?
I don’t THINK so.

Formalities or whatever, the thing to me is I am a under contract for 2006. No matter whatever is said or not, it should be no matter. I know I have a bad shoulder. I know I’m coming off surgery. I just want to have an opportunity to see if I can play.
I tell you what, I didn’t script this,” he said.  “I did not script the end of my career to end it when you’re pushed out the door. It all comes down to the same fact. It’s a business. And when you think it’s not a business, you’re reminded it’s a business.”
- pushed out the door? Well, I would have called it something a LOT more like being grabbed when you are asleep and flung out on the dump.

I am really surprised and disappointed how many people have said something like, well, he should just give up the 17 mill. Seriously. (Like THEY would.) Or even worse, he should just be glad to take 17 mill to sit home. Amazing.

I mean, the guy wants to WORK for his money and there are people out there who just want him to go away, like a nightmare.
If you were in his shoes, wouldn’t YOU want the opportunity to prove yourself?
But OK you think athletes are all overpaid greedy pigs who should be getting minimum wage to do something yall would do for free (assuming you even COULD do what they do, which of course you can’t. Get real.)
But you DO wanna watch quality major league baseball, right?

Then I want you to re-read Baggy’s last comments:
“My teammates, now they know how much of a business it is. And for certainly I know how much of a business it is. As I reiterate, now I hope fans understand how much of a business it is. I’m not looking for handout. I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s just a business.”

Now ask yourselves this – even if you couldn’t care less if Baggy takes his 17 mill, leaves town on bad terms with the Astros and refuses to have anything ever to do with the Astros ever again (remember Nolan Ryan going into the Hall of Fame in a Rangers uni???!!!)

WHAT sort of impression do you think this made on Roy Oswalt?
You think he gonna think – oh, but that would never happen to me? He might be a small town southern boy but he AIN’T that dumb. And neither is his agent.

And I am NOT forgetting – Roger Clemens. Yep, that’s right. You see, IF Roger happens to decide to play, IF Baggy didn’t agree to flush hisself down the toilet of McLane’s memory, why then Drayton has a nice ready made excuse to not sign Roger (or any other available, needed FA at the trade deadline) – it’s all Baggy’s fault – if he had just gone along for the team, we woulda had 15.6 mill to spend on needed players, but that’s how things went. Blame Baggy.

One last thing – just WHERE is that 15.6 mill gonna go IF we don’t sign Roger or anyone else?
Any guesses?????

Time to Extend Roy Oswalt’s Contract

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Last year, the Organization made Roy Oswalt wait and wait and wait and wait to finally offer him a 2 year contract. They made Roy wait until AFTER, waaaaay after they signed Lance Berkman, who had just needed knee surgery, to a 6 year contract. It is true that Lance was a 6 year guy and Roy was a 5 year guy, and you might could say that Lance had been one of the 10 best hitters in the NL for a good 4 years, and you would be right. And you might could say that top 10 hitters are not exactly as plentiful as, say, roaches in a garbage can. But Roy was NOT happy about that – he didn’t make a fuss like, say Gary Sheffield, but he thinks the staff ace should be treated with a little respect and he’s right.

Roy is going to be a FA at the end of the year. I think it’s fair to say that he is THE best pitcher we have ever drafted and developed except JR Richard. (Darryl Kile – 30th round and Billy Wagner pretty darn good, but not up to Roy. Dave Smith was a decent closer, Floyd Bannister was a league average pitcher for 14 years, Ken Forsch was a little better than league average for 15 years – lost his only playoff game – grrrrrrrrr to the **** Phils in 1980.) And that, my friends is I T it. And I looked through EVERY single year of the draft.

JR Richard was headed straight for the Hall but was derailed by his stroke. Roy is headed straight for the Hall, too. Yeah, I know the road to the Hall is littered with “sure fire HOFers” – guys like Gooden, Strawberry, Mattingly, Dale Murphy who got hurt, on drugs, just suddenly lost it. Craig Biggio is going to be the first ever home grown Astro in the Hall, yes, and Baggy is gonna be the second Astro in the Hall (Nolan woulda been the first if McMullen hadn’t been such a dumbass.)

Roy has a great chance to be the next homegrown Astro in the Hall. (Yes I KNOW yall real tired of hearing how much of a total Roy fangrrrl I am, but let’s look at his stats anyhow.)

He was drafted out of JuCo in 1996, the 23rd round – he a hard throwin tough skinny lil guy and I guess they figgered what the heck, he don’t cost much, we need filler in the minors – lil itty guy like him, real quiet, he won’t amount to much.

Well, all he did was blow away the competition. He won and won and struck out guys left and right (hahahaha) and so the story goes he got called up to AA in 2000 because someone got hurt and was gonna be sent back down but Purpura happened to be at that game and noticed the lil guy with the electric fastball and realized that the Organization had something there. The rest of the world who bothered to watch the 2000 Olympics saw it too – Ben Sheets got all the ink, but Roy was electric.

He started 01 in AAA, but got called up because we needed an extra arm in the pen and it was SO obvious that he was being wasted in the bullpen that he was put into the rotation after a month and all he did was to go 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP – 9.15 K/9, 0.8 HR/ 9 IP in “homerun” field (the boy grew up in the Texas League and didn’t believe in no “homerun field” curse stuff) and 1.2 BB/ 9 IP. He came in second in the ROY voting to Albert Pujols (OK, I gotta concede that one – but poor Roy always coming in second to the Albert Pujols and the Randy Johnsons and the Roger Clemenses and in 15 years ida wanna hear bout why didn’t Roy win more Cy Youngs, etc…)

And for the next 4 years, well, he’s been an ace de la ace. He’s been one of the top 10 pitchers in the NL since he came up. Except for 2003 (when he had a strained groin and missed 6 weeks at the end of the year) he’s been in the top 5 in almost all the leaderboards every year and has been in the top 5 in Cy Young voting every year except 03. He has a 141 ERA+ AS A STARTER over 5 years – that’s Pedro/Maddux/Clemens like. He’s won 20 games twice in a row (yeah I know stat geeks hate wins but fans and GMs sure nuff don’t feel the same way) and his career winning % is 0.680 – 9th best all time (whoa!!!)

5 year average – 196 IP, average 29 starts/year (and remember he only started 20 games his first year and 03), a little over 7 IP/GS; 3.07 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.8 K/ 9 IP; 2.06 BB/9 IP and o.73 HR/9 IP

Postseason, he’s 4-0 in 7 GS and 1 in relief with a 3.66 ERA. He had a bad game against St. Louis in the NLCS last year and a BAD game in the WS, but got himself some really beautiful hardware in this year’s NLCS – the MVP trophy, which he earned with 2 AWESOME outings.

According to thehardballtimes.com, he has 86 lifetime win shares – an average of 17/year (and remember 2 of those years he pitched only 141 and 127 innings) – incredible for a pitcher, considering that it is very difficult for a pitcher to exceed 25 win shares/year. In fact, this year, Roy actually beat the Cy Young winner, Chris Carpenter, in pitching WS, 23.2 to 22.7 – Roger was the winner with 25.5, in case yall curious. AJ Burnett had 12, in case you curious.

You don’t give a rat’s rear end about what AJ Burnett did? Well you should. Because, you see, he just got himself a 5 year 55 mill contract from the Blue Jays with a PLAYER opt out after 2 years. Burnett is 8 months older than Roy, came up 2 years earlier, missed 2003 with TJ surgery, and has only thrown 200 innings/year twice, has a career 110 ERA+ with a 3.73 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. AJ isn’t bad – he IS better than league average, but his ERA+ after surgery, on TWO winning teams, was 112 and 117. Roy has never had an ERA+ that LOW.

So, Drayton, stop being so darn silly and PAY Roy before it costs even more than AJ Burnett!!!!!

Mo Ensberg And The Astros Exchange Arbitration Figures

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Morgan Ensberg and the Astros exchanged arbitration figures yesterday.
Morgan wants 4.2 mill.
The Astros want to pay him 3.4 mill.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

Mark Texiera (1st base) got 2 years at 15.4 mill – and Tex don’t hit worth a lick out of the Ballpark.

Marcus Giles got 3.8 mill and his numbers weren’t near as good as Ensberg’s.

I think that Mo would be most likely to get the higher figure at a hearing, and I’ll bet that the Organization will settle. I thought they might could be thinking of more than a 1 year contract, but I see Lidge only got 1 year, and

I’ll bet at this point that Mo will also only get 1 year. If he has another year like last year, he might could get a good 8 – 10 mill next year.

And so far, all quiet along the Baggy Front….

Astros 2006 Arbitration Update

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

1/17/06 – 5:18 PM
Brad Lidge signed a 1 year contract for $3,975,000 (more than I though he’d get…)

Dan Wheeler signed a 1 year contract for $930,000. If he’s as good as he was last year, this is a GREAT deal.

(So I underguessed at salaries by around 1.25 mill so far…)

I read today in the Houston Chronicle that Brad Lidge is going to be playing in the stupid March exhibition nonsense (yes, my opinion – yours may vary.)

I sincerely hope that the US team gets knocked out right away so there is less chance that either Lidge or Berkman (or Clemens) will be overworked, tired, or even HURT.

2006 Astros Players Nearing Arbitration Deadline

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Today is the deadline for exchanging arbitration numbers. Unless there is progress, the Astros will be going to arbitration with THREE players. Last year, only three players went to arb in the entire major leagues, and as usual, the owners won 2 of 3 cases.

Adam Everett, age 29 in Feb, – no hit great glove SS, signed a 1 year, 1.9 million contract. Well, I was figgering about 1.5, so Adam did just fine for himself. I didn’t think he’d get moren a year – if Benny Zobrist isn’t ready next year (and neither is, say, Tejada) we can resign Adam to another 1 year contract. Adam had his worst hitting season so far – he strikes out too much and Gaetti has tried to get him to swing for the Crawford boxes a little too much, I think. He should try bunting for hits more, I think, or at least try to stop hitting the ball out.

Lee Sinins at www.baseball-encyclopedia.com shows the following stats for Adam:
YEAR AGE RCAA OBA SLG OPS ..OWP RC/G AVG .HR RBI –SB –G
2003 – 26 (-) 13  .320 .380 .700 .392  4.21  .256 – 8 — 51 — 8 – 128
2004 – 27 (-) 11  .317 .385 .703 .412  4.35  .273 — 8 —31 – 13 – 104
2005 – 28 (-) 21  .290 .364 .654 .364  3.65  .248 – 11 — 54 – 21 – 152
CAREER …..  53  .305 .365 .670 .375  3.91 .253 – 27 – 140 – 46 – 433
LG AVG …….. 0  .340 .431 .771  .500  5.14 .269 – 47 – 191 – 23
POS AVG —–38 .318 .388 .706 .414 –4.27 .265 -26 – 147 – 35

- not real too good, hunh? I mean, with the bat…

The other Astros players are:

Brad Lidge, age 29, elite RHP closer (click here to read article on him in today’s USA Today:

Dan Wheeler, age 28, pretty good set up guy

Morgan Ensberg, age 30, great hitting good fielding 3rd baseman who came in 4th in the MVP voting

Well, none of these guys are particularly young, they are all first year arb eligible, so I seriously doubt that they would get any contracts buying out any FA years.

As yall know, most ML players (with VERY few exceptions) are not paid much over the ML minimum for their first 3 years, then their salary usually at LEAST triples, and with very valuable players, well, teams gotta pay.

It’s better if the player and team agree on a contract BEFORE they have to appear before the arbitrator, so that there aren’t hard feelings, especially if the team wants to keep a player as a FA. The Astros have already offered contracts to all four guys, but the terms have not been released.

So I am going to do some guessing here.

I’m not real too sure that Brad Lidge, whose numbers weren’t as good last year as they were in 04, would even be healthy enough to still be an elite closer 3 years from now, so I would bet that the Organization would only want to give him a 1 year contract – at most a 2 year contract, not backloaded so we could use him as trade bait if we needed to. I would bet that as one of the top 3 closers in the NL, Brad will get a GOOD 4 mill. Easy. My question is whether or not the Organization could get 2 years at 4 mill apiece. I doubt it, because if Brad has another year in 06 just like 05, he would be worth a LOT more than 4 mill, and I promise you that his agent knows it. One thing – remember that he didn’t look real too good since like late September and I wonder if his arm was hurting and if the Organization will want a physical…

It should be an easier decision with Dan Wheeler because he’s a set up guy, not a closer, and it might could be cheaper to sign him for a couple years, especially because if Lidge goes down, we might could end up needing to use Wheeler to close, as he did, and very successfully when Lidge was “resting” with a sore arm muscle (ahem) back in July. IF we needed Wheeler to close next year and we had him at set up prices, that would be a good investment. (Hard to believe that the Mets DFA’d him in 04, hunh – but I guess Jim Hickey was the pitching coach Dan had been needing…)

And last but not least, Morgan Ensberg.

He’ll be 33 years old when he becomes a FA for the first time, well into the stereotyped decline phase, and he’s not gonna ever get a Scott Rolen contract. But he’s gonna get a VERY hefty paycheck next year fer SHER, and seeing as how salaries, um, skyrocketed (ahem) this year, I would bet that a FA who hits like Mo hit in 05 will be getting a LOT more than the 5 or so mill a year that I would bet Mo is going to get, they might could want to consider buying out his arb years. We don’t have ANY 3rd baseman who can hit NEAR Mendoza line, let alone a .945 OPS. And guys who can hit like that AND provide at LEAST league average defensive skills and are decent baserunners are NOT cheap.

The other thing is that although Morgan LOOKS like a California surfer dude, under that cute little face, the boy got a banker’s brain – he has a college degree in economics (or was it accounting) and he’s no dummy, so it won’t be real too smart to treat him as if he was.

And of course, the MOST important contract to get signed is Roy Oswalt’s extension. But that is for another column. Actually, MANY columns until the job gets done

The REAL 2006 Astros Payroll

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

I have been reading all sorts of columns talking about teams payrolls. Now, understand that a “payroll” in NOT the amount of money that a team has to pay each year to ML and minor league ballplayers. “Payroll” is the amount of money that a team has to pay in “salary” to that years’ players on the ML roster, and that figure is used for luxury tax and revenue sharing purposes. (For example, Andy Pettite’s “salary” is supposed to be 10.5 mill/year, but that is not the amount he actually receives in checks each year – this year, he will get 10 mill and will get his remaining 7.5 mill from his contract in 07.)

BUT

as yall know, players are often paid yearly “signing bonuses” and deferral payments can continue for years after the player is no longer on the team.
Finding the exact amount of payments each year to all the team’s players (current, former, major, minor) is incredibly difficult, as no blog (I know of) publishes this, and apparently, even though the exact terms of a contract are actually published when the player signs the contract, the teams don’t/won’t release this information – not sure why not.

So the Seattle Mariners were the first to break the rule and release their true team payroll (on Jan 11) in response to an AP article which stated that their payroll as of Aug 321 was around 70 mill (it was actually 99 mill.) I didn’t, by the way, see any deferred salary on the list.

The Astros August 31, 2005 payroll was supposed to be $76,186,763. I am wondering what it REALLY was.

Info from www.dugoutdollars.blogspot.com, cot’s (www.mlbcontracts.blogspot.com), www.mlb4u.com/hou.html and www.hardballdollars.com
Now, I am not sure if guys who start the year in the ML continue to get paid a ML salary if they are sent down (but for this I am going to presume that they do) and I’m not sure exactly how to calculate salary of guys who start the year in the minors and are called up before 9/1 OR if guys called up and sent back down continue to receive ML salary, but these aren’t exactly major amounts, so if they off a little, hopefully it won’t matter.

So let’s look at every single guy who played for the Astros last year (as best I can do)
- Jeff Bagwell $ 15,000,000 (actually, I’m not sure how much he DID get – cots says he had a 15 mill signing bonus to be paid from 02 – 06 but not how much to be paid each year, 29 mill deferred with 8 mill paid in 05 – so I am not sure the exact amount in a checks/ year he actually got…) – hardball dollars says 13 mill and I’m gonna go with that.
- Roger Clemens $ 18,000,022 plus $25,000 All Star, $1.4M attendance, 25K for 2005 3rd place Cy Young finish
- Lance Berkman $ 10,500,000 – 42 950 022
- Andy Pettitte $ 8,500,000
- Roy Oswalt $ 5,900,000
- Brad Ausmus $ 3,000,000
- Craig Biggio $ 3,000,000 plus 1 mill in deferred dollars plus a bonus of 1.25 mill for 651 PA
- Mike Lamb $ 1,300,000 (not sure if he was actually paid 200K in incentives)
- Jose Vizcaino $ 1,250,000
- Orlando Palmeiro $ 800,000 – 67 700 022
- John Franco $ 700,000 (yeah, he got the whole &*%^#$@! amount)
- Russ Springer $ 550,000
- Brandon Duckworth $ 500,000
- Brad Lidge $ 500,000
- Morgan Ensberg $ 450,000
- Adam Everett $ 445,000
- Chad Harville $ 365,000
- Dan Wheeler $ 365,000 (not sure if he was paid promised incentives or for how much)
- Raul Chavez $ 360,000
- Brandon Backe $ 350,000
- Jason Lane $ 345,000
- Mike Gallo $345,000 (was guaranteed even though he spent the first 2 months at AAA)
- Eric Bruntlett $ 335,000
- Chris Burke $ 316,000
- Chad Qualls $ 316,000
- Luke Scott $ 316,000
- Willy Taveras $ 316,000
- Carlos Hernandez – $350,000 (guaranteed even though he spent the year in the minors)
- Hector Giminez (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
- Fernando Nieve (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
- Juan Gutierrez (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
- Mark McLemore (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
- Taylor Buchholz (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
- Tommy Whiteman (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
- Jared Gothreaux (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
(we already at $75,292,222)
…. did not originally sign ML contracts and were not on the original 40 man but were called up and sent back down during the season, so I don’t know how much they actually made – if the contracts are pro-rated
- Wandy Rodriguez $316,000 called up after 6 weeks = $256,223
- Ezequiel Astacio $316,000 (called up after 1 month) = $272,100
- Humberto Quintero $ 316,000 (called up after 3 months) $184,300
- Todd Self $ 316,000 (called up after 1 month) = $272,100
- Mike Burns $ 316,000 (called up after 2 months) $228,200
…. September callups: ?? I am figgering 5/6 of $52,600 plus 1/6 of $ 316,000 = $96,500
- Scott Strickland – $96,500
- Travis Driskill – $96,500
- Charles Gipson – $96,500
- Charlton Jimerson – $96,500
….guys signed in spring training who didn’t make the team
Pete Munro $114,754
Dave Burba (never made the majors so assume the minor league salary of $52,600)
Turk Wendell (minor league contract, but retired before the start of the season) – so none.
……. plus money paid to guys no longer on the team (may be more, but I’m not sure who)
Richard Hidalgo was paid 2 mill
Jeff Kent was paid 5.7 mill
- (not including the contracts of Phil Garner, 1.2 mill and Gerry Hunsicker – I can’t find the exact amount but I think it’s around $700,000)

So I am getting a total of around $84,758,500 NOT counting deferred money I don’t know about, signing bonuses paid to draft picks and minor leaguers and the contracts of Phil Garner, 1.2 mill, Tim Purpura and Gerry Hunsicker. Hardballdollars allows 7.5 mill for “benefits” – whatever those are, besides the salaries, so let’s estimate the total at around 95 mill. Not chicken feed, but not Yankees/Red Sox neither…

Now for 2006:
“the minimum salary for players on the 40-man roster for their second season in 2006 or players with at least one day of major league service time will rise by $1,900 to $54,500.”

(estimated salary from arb or guessing from last year’s in italics)
40 man roster:
Matt Albers $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Ezequiel Astacio $340 (at least)
Brandon Backe (made 350K last year – should be at least 400K)
James Barthmaier $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Taylor Buchholz $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Mike Gallo (made 345K last year – at least 400K)
Juan Gutierrez $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Jason Hirsh $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Brad Lidge (arb eligible – elite closer – probably 3 mill)
Mark McLemore $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Trever Miller $1,300,000
Fernando Nieve $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Roy Oswalt $11,000,000 (worth more and he knows it…)
Felipe Paulino $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Andy Pettitte $10,000,000
Chad Qualls (made 316K last year – at least 350K)
Wandy Rodriguez (made 316K last year – at least 350K)
Russ Springer $750,000 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Dan Wheeler (arb eligible setup guy – a good 1.75 mill)
Brad Ausmus $3,750,000
Raul Chavez $400,000
Hector Gimenez $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Humberto Quintero $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Jeff Bagwell (here we go again – let’s just say 17 mill)
Craig Biggio $4,000,000
Eric Bruntlett (made 335 K last year – say, 400K)
Chris Burke (made 316 K last year – say 350K)
Morgan Ensberg (arb eligible, #4 in MVP – a GOOD 4 mill)
Adam Everett (arb eligible, say 2 mill)
Mike Lamb $1,700,000
Josh Anderson $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Lance Berkman $14,500,000
Charlton Jimerson $54,500 (unless he makes the ML team in ST)
Jason Lane (made 345 K last year – say 400K)
Orlando Palmeiro $950,000
Luke Scott (made 316 K last year – say 350K)
Willy Taveras (made 316 K last year – say 360 K for getting #2 in ROY voting)
Preston Wilson $4,000,000
not on the team but getting $$$ anyhow
Roger Clemens $3,500,000
guys signed to minor league contracts who have to be paid $54,500 even if they don’t make the ML team:
Joe Valentine $54,500
Kevin Orie $54,500
Eric Munson $54,500
Carlos Hernandez $54,500
Alan Zinter $54,500
Dave Borkowski $54,500
Steve Sparks $54,500
Danny Klassen $54,500
Jared Gothreaux $54,500 (never played in the majors but he was on the 40 man last year, so he gets this dough)
so, guaranteed $$$ so far: $73,994,500
plus the salaries I’m guessing the others will get: $14,450,000
total – again not including the salaries of Phil Garner and Tim Purpura or bonuses: $88,444,500
plus the 7.5 mill in “benefits” = $95,944,500

Not much more than last year, unless Ensberg or Lidge gets more in arbitration than I guessed. But you can sure see why McLane would LUUUVVVV to put that 15.6 mill from the insurance company straight into his own pocket, wouldn’t yall. Because, as you see, he don’t exactly need it to pay out more salary, does he?

Now yall KNOW about all the increased revenues ALL the ML teams have received from the satellite and TV deals, yall KNOW we had all that extra $$$ from the playoffs and yall KNOW that McLane has raised ticket prices again. And whaddya know, the payroll hasn’t really increased. So I do NOT want to be hearing how Jeff Bagwell is causing the team to have payroll problems.

Because he’s not.