Drayton has made official what we’ve all known since the deal with Jim Crane fell through. He is OPENLY trying to sell the team, but only if he can get the ridiculous price of 700 mill. He has hired Bud Selig’s pet firm to help him get top dollar.
Well, no idea who or what group/company is going to buy this team, but it might not be for the best, you know. Everyone always thinks that a new owner is gonna go all George Steinbrenner/Ted Turner, but those days are gone. Zillionaires are only interested in getting MORE zillions, not in spending (shudder) their OWN money. And we could get another Jeffrey Loria (but he won’t get another stadium…)
The team, as it is right now, is, to be nice about it, teh sukc. They have 2 decent youngish players in Pence and Bourn, some re-treads, some young players who don’t look like much, 2 good starters, 3 good relievers and a minor league system devoid of talent. Sorry, but it is true – Jack Shuck is NOT the next great player and Jordan Lyles needs to get AAA guys out.
I understand that the new cable deal with Comcast, which will start next year, is supposed to make the team more money, not sure how. Any cable network which is not Comcast will have to pay Comcast to broadcast Astros/Rockets – and let’s be real, like, they are gonna sell this WHERE? I guess people who have satellite and the Extra Innings package can watch the Astros, but they are gonna be out of luck IF it is “Astros territory” and the cable doesn’t pick up the RSN. I guess they don’t care about fans, only about the actual income they will get.
What can I say?
Meanwhile, I was gonna say that I doubt that Drayton would spend any of that money that came off the books, but after seeing Barmes, I guess I was wrong about that. No earthly idea what the budget is gonna be this year – I’m figuring a minimum budget of around 75 mill (assuming that none of the arb guys will be traded). I can’t see that anyone coming up from the minors will be exciting the fans and I would be surprised if the attendance doesn’t decrease.
I had stopped Part 1 after gloomily surveying our probable infielders for next year amid the uncertainty of production with bat AND glove for most of them..
So let’s take a look at the OF
Seeing as how I already discussed Clank, whose base stealing ability (yeah, he used to be very good at noticing when he was being ignored and taking second) bottomed along with his hitting, I won’t talk about him as a LF – and I will state that he is a worse fielding LF than Burrell because at least Burrell has a strong and accurate arm, unlike Clank, who throws like Johnny Damon/Juan Pierre.
Anyway, to the two sure things, Pence and Bourn.
Bourn had a sudden and mysterious slump in the middle of the year after essentially carrying the team in April and May – yes, a singles hitter led the club in RCAA (runs created above average, a stat I prefer to using the non-existant replacement player) until the third week in May. He had a significant decrease in bunt singles, but did lead the league in infield hits anyway. He also hit into a career high 6 double plays. He couldn’t get the bat on the baseball in July, but rebounded in August and exploded in September. I have NO idea why on earth baseball players hit bad patches and have terrible months, but they do. If THEY knew why, they wouldn’t have those terrible months. But although he isn’t going to hit for power, he IS going to vacuum just about everything hit to the OF.
And speaking of hitting – Michael sees 4.04 pitches/PA (team best – which is sad) and over the past 3 years, has steadily improved his walk frequency from 1 walk every 13.4 PA to 1 walk every 10.2 PA. He also has steadily decreased his K frequency from once every 4.6 PA to once every 5.5 PA. Keppinger, the toughest guy to strikeout in the NL, strikes out once every 16 PA. But then again, he grounded into 15 DP and only walked once every 11.3 PA. So grounding out instead of striking out is not necessarily better…
Anyway, as far as the bat, I would expect an OPS somewhere between .685 and .740 – he’s a glove and speed guy, a scores runs kind of producer, not a drive em in kind of producer. I expect the same awesome glove and the same awesome baserunning. All in all, a net positive and at this point, with no Jim Edmonds 2004 available, Michael will be in center again. Which, I must confess, makes me happy.
My very favorite Michael Bourn moment this year is the time some batter hit a ball over toward the LF bullpen and of course, Clank had zero chance to geven get in the vicinity of the ball. The radio maroons were saying something like – well, there goes an extra base gapper, no way Bourn gets to the ball OHMIGAWD he caught the ball. He caught the ball!!!!! I watched him misjudge a ball only twice and make bad throws only twice (and no, he does not have Jasse Brafield’s arm, I know it, but at least he DOES hit the cutoff man…)
Hunter Pence will be in RF. Good news is that he really improved his baserunning – fewer idiotic running into outs, fewer bad jumps when stealing, fewer picked off. Bad news is that he had, uh, more, uh, adventures in the field – misread more balls, didn’t catch catchable balls more often, more bad throws, more missing the cutoff man. Kind of combining all the fielding evals, he’s league average in 2010, but was better than that in 09. He’ll only be 28, and he’s not El Gordo like El Mule in left, so hopefully, he can return to at least 2009 levels – not that I am expecting superlative, mind.
As for bat, he’s had a 115 OPS+ these past 2 years. Good news is that it appears he has finally conquered his little problem with sliders and bad news is that although his doubles, triples and homers/PA numbers were essentially constant, his walks took a nosedive from one walk every 11.2 PA to one walk every 16 PA. I wish I could tell you that his walk rate improved after the rookies arrived and the Astros started winning, but it didn’t. His pitches/PA dived, too, from 3.90 to 3.68. His strikeout rate remained the same, and, good news, he cut his GIDPs in half (probably because he hit in FRONT of El Perezoso, not behind him.)
I seriously doubt he would be traded, unless it is one of those Teixiera for 4 top notch prospects trades that really aren’t done any more. And Pence is not Teixiera, anyway. AND he’s the biggest fan fave now.
So his numbers are certainly decent for a RF – I doubt he’s going to improve or decline although I certainly hope he finds his old glove. Guys slump with the glove too, not just the bat.
Forget Carl Crawford. It’s not that I wouldn’t absolutely LOVE to see mah homie out there and at the plate. It’s that Drayton is NOT going to outbid Yankees/Angels/Detroit – even though his agent isn’t Boras, there is no reason to give a Soriano-like contract to a guy whose value is heavily tied to his speed. He’ll turn 29 in August, and he’s gonna get a GINORMOUS contract from SOMEone. And that someone almost certainly will not be the Astros. Which, believe it or not, makes me sad.
So, IF Clank is going to play 1B, then almost certainly Brian Bogusevic is going to play left. Trouble is that he really doesn’t hit for power – we gotta get it from SOMEwheres. He had a .778 OPS at AAA over 520 PA last year, but at least he walked a little – 67 walks to 105 K. He grounds into too many DP (welcome to the Astros) 13 last year, but surprisingly, he’s a good basestealer – 23 SB and 1 CS. He’s like Jayson Werth – he doesn’t LOOK like a basestealer – and I hope Bogu is a good baserunner, too. I DO know that the guy can field – he’s not Bourn, but next to Clank, he looks like Barry Lamar 1990s.
I’d just really love to see all the young Astros do well – would really rescue this season.
Part 3 will be pitchers and Part 4 will be our minor leaguers (warning – is NOT pretty…)