12/8/12: Astros Pick Josh Fields, RHP In Rule V And Keep Payroll Nice And Low

When I first read that the Astros had claimed Josh Fields, I thought for an awful moment that they had claimed Josh Fields, the former first rounder (White Sox, 2004) who was supposed to be a Mike Schmidt/Scott Rolen Future Star!!! who got called up because he had been a first rounder and proceeded to not hit or hit for power for parts of 5 years before finally disappearing into the minors.

You see, being at the top of the prospect list does not necessarily mean that the aforementioned prospect is going to be a good major leaguer, although he will probably BE a major leaguer at some time, just because he was picked in the first round.

Our Josh Fields, who will be 28 in July (yes, he IS old beyond belief) was ALSO a first rounder – picked by the Mariners in the 08 draft after he refused to sign with the Braves after being picked the previous year in the second round. He started at AA, as a reliever – yes,a first rounder starting at reliever (see Chad Cordero, Huston Street) threw 33 innings in 09 – had a leeeeetle trouble with control, 6 walks/9 and also 9 K/9 with a low home run rate. ERA 6.38/1.65 WHIP.

Repeated AA in 2010, threw 28.1 innings, had essentially the same walks/K numbers, but had a low 6 H/9 and gave up no homers, so he lowered his ERA to 3.24 and WHIP to 1.29.

in 2011, he again started at AA, threw 26 innings, posting essentially the same numbers as the previous year only with a slightly lower ERA of 2.77 and was promoted to AAA where he threw 13 innings and gave up – are you ready for this – NINE walks/9 IP. For the first time in 2 years, he allowed homers, so both his ERA and WHIP skyrocketed.

Neveretheless, he was traded to Boston as part of the Erik Bedard trade (he hasn’t worked out real too good for anyone he’s been traded to, has he – yet ANOTHER guy who keeps getting work because, I guess, he used to be good…) He threw 17 innings for Boston’s AA club, 5.2 H/9, 1 HR/9, 5.5 BB/9 and 13 K/9.

So he split last year between AA and AAA: 44 innings at AA, in which he posted his same low hits, homers and high K numbers, but managed, for the FIRST time in his career, to lower his obscene walk rate to 3.2 K/9. At AAA, he threw 13 innings over 10 games, 8 H, no HR, TWO walks, 19 K.

Now, I DO know this is small sample size, but it looks as if he has managed to conquer his wildness without sacrificing his low hit, high K numbers. Actually, he looks better than Rhiner Cruz did last year. So we just might could, youneverknow, have found a good bullpen guy, not that we have many of them – or, I should say, ANY of them besides Wesley Wright and Mickey Storey, who is back after the Yankees decided they didn’t want him after all.

The good news/bad news, is that no team picked up Jason Stoffel, our AA closer (who we got for Jeff Keppinger, way back when) which means that either we got lucky or no other team thought he was worth picking up.

We also acquired a would-be DH, Nate Freiman, a huge righty (think Richie Sexson, not a fatso like Ken Harvey) picked in the 8th round of the 09 draft by the Padres. I know he played 1B, but you know and I know that with Jonathan Singleton and Brett Wallace, he’s not gonna be no first baseman unless Singleton can’t hit ML pitching even as well as Brett Wallace, youneverknow. He just finished AA San Antonio, which means our guiys have seen him a great deal. What is good is that he maintained his power numbers moving from the Cali league to the Texas League – he’s pretty much averaged approximately .847 OPS at each level, meaning 35 doubles/22 homers per 135 game seasons. It’s nice, but making the jump to ML pitchers from AA just ain’t easy, is it Julio Daniel Martinez?

About our 20 mill payroll team: I’ve been having these discussions with a few guys I’ve known for years, who just LUUUVVVVV prospects/young players and like rebuilding. They are always thinking about/dreaming about selling high on pretty much ANY player and getting more prospects. for a minor league that is just bursting with prospects. Well, I like the – minor league bursting with prospects – part. What I do NOT like is the other part in which your major league team has essentially only cheap players (AAAA guys, anyone decent in ears 1-3, sometimes 1-2 IF you had got him already signed to a longer term cheap contract) while you are waiting for that year when you have an el-cheapo team and somehow, everything magically Comes Together and you WIN and you have Your Core. You dream that anyone good signed an Evan Longoria contract (the one he signed right after he came up, not the last one in which they actually have to PAY him) without a no-trade, so you can play churn the players. Like Billy Beane.

Well, almost like Billy Beane who has liked to sign some known slugger, albeit for more than minimum wage, supposedly on his last legs. Sometimes it works – Frank Thomas. Other times, the slugger really IS finished – Mike Piazza. Billy didn’t start really churning his rosters until after the 4th straight time they lost the ALDS in 2003. But the Athletics haven’t really done the – everybody on minimum wage thingy, unlike Tampa and Miami and San Diego. Here are their (approximate) Opening Day payrolls in millions, as well as if they win a playoff spot: * indicates a winning record

………..Athletics …….. Marlins ……….. San Diego ……… Tampa
2012: 55 (win) ……… 118 ………………   55  ………………… 64*
2011: 66 ………………… 57 ……………….   45 …………………. 41 (win)
2010:  51 ……………….. 55 ………………..  38* ……………….. 71 (win)
2009:  62 ……………….. 36* ………………. 42 ………………… 63*
2008:  50 ……………….. 21* ………………. 73 ………………… 43 (win)
2007:  79  ……………….. 30 ……………….  58* ………………. 24
2006:  62 (win) ………. 14 ………………… 70 (win) ……….. 35
2005:  56* ………………. 60*………………. 62 (win) ……….. 30
2004:  59* ………………. 42 ……………….. 55* …………………30

Payroll doesn’t seem to be correllated with winning. Marlins haven’t reached higher than 3rd place no matter how much/little they spent – no wonder Loria doesn’t think they should spend anything.

Tampa started winning once Gerry Hunsicker came over and remade the team, partly with Astros’ castoffs, including pitching coach Jim Hickey. Yeah, I know – all those number 1 draft picks who were so great, like Tim Beckham and DeWon Brazelton. More like smart trades (especially with dumb Astros) and a few smart FA signings.

But basically, you don’t win consistently churning rosters or keeping payroll at rock bottom. Or, as Loria was finally forced to do in 2010 – sign ONE player to an expensive contract to up your payroll and look as if you are Serious About Winning.

Low payroll + tons of high draft picks does NOT = winning. Winning increases attendence (except in Florida). Churning the players decreases attendance (see Miami and Oakland). And people are simply not interested in going to games in which most of the players are AAAA/minor leaguers and the payroll is low, and the GM announces that FA will not be signed.

I have no reason to believe that the Astros are ever going to substantially increase the payroll for the simple reason that THEY DON’T HAVE TO. There aren’t fans who care and the owner knows that Loria has gotten away with it for over 10 years. They are now talking about a 3-4 year re-building project, meaning that all the future good players are at A ball, so I expect that Jonathan Singleton will be called up and turned into more prospects after a year or 2, if he succeeds, seeing as how he will get expensive and as how the rest of the players will be 3 years “from the next good team” or something like that. I know the system by now.

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22 Responses to “12/8/12: Astros Pick Josh Fields, RHP In Rule V And Keep Payroll Nice And Low”

  1. Ralph says:

    if you’re right (and I’m willing to bet you are), then this just sucks. Can’t remember a time when I was just flat out embarrassed of the ‘stros. Sure we had some crappy seasons, but there was always a tiny glimmer of hope at the start. Now everybody knows we suck, we know we suck, and the players know we suck. I’m sure this could have been said more eloquently, but it’s the truth. (and it stinks)

  2. Lisa Gray says:

    ralph

    i disremember EVER having a team on which there were only AAAA players and 2-3 average major leaguers. i remember how bad we were like 88 – 91 when i was a kid, but there was always SOME major league talent on the team. and they had GOOD young players on the farm. yes I know things were different Back Then.

    I see absolutely ZERO evidence that the 2013 team will be like the 91 team – full of good young players getting it together to really get going next year. I see absolutely ZERO evidence that the 2015 team will be like that, and i see absolutely NO evidence that crane will suddenly be willing to spend money. i’m sure he’s eventually gonna do the modern thing, which is to sign young players to a lower than market value contract to buy out arb and some FA years. Without any no trade clauses. The reserve clause is beginning to take on a new look. But, as Billy Beane has proved, signing players to a long term contract most certainly does NOT mean he won’t churn them the next year.

    Much more money for the owners’ pockets.

  3. Bruce says:

    Did anybody claim the one you had recommended?

  4. Eric says:

    As far as Houston sports are concerned…the Houston Texans currently own the best record in the NFL. Rockets are mediocre, but huge future upside. They’ll be scary good in a few more years with the right picks. They just need 1-2 more scorers and they’re right in the playoffs. Unlike the Astros, both of those two francises have VERY good front offices. The Rockets’ Darryl Morey is one of the better GM’s in all of NBA although I’m not sold on McHale as a coach.

    Astros ? Guaranteed to be on the last page of Houston sports section from now on in for the foreseeable future.

    I think MLB screwed up royally by allowing Crane to purchase the Astros.

  5. Lisa Gray says:

    bruce

    he was traded to the pirates before the draft and put on their 40 man.

  6. Lisa Gray says:

    eric

    astros will be a footnote for a long LONG time. the astros front office? good/bad? depends what you want them to do. if what they are supposed to do is have a whole lot of “prospects” and churn the roster and keep the payroll low, well, then, they have done and will do a bang up job. winning? what’s the point of that AS LONG AS they keep the payroll low. which they have done and WILL DO. and right now, they are in year 2 of explaining that they are “rebuilding” and trading major leaguers for younger guys who will be there “for the next good team” and it doesn’t matter that what is appearing on the ML field is a clown team, bro. i figure they’ll be able to do this churning/rebuiilding stuff for a GOOD 4 years before someone even notices or calls them on it. and i’m sure they will be good little boyz and sign enough FA like humber so as the MLBPA can’t get on their asses. they can always sign players to a long contract to buy out their arb/FA years then churn them.

    i think it was in 06 or 07 that richard justice was writing about the amount of comments/hits on the various sports teams in houston and he said that the astros led by a large margin and it wasn’t close. MLB doesn’t give 2 shtts whether or not a team has fans as long as the money overall is coming in. and the money from MLBAM is HUGE because of the gambling (fantasy) and mlbtv.com. crane is in this to make money and he is going to make sure he stays in the lines and obeys bud’s commands.

    remember that bud WANTS low payrolls and most of the money going to the owner. as for the players, 5% of the players make something like 90% of the money. there will be 60 or so stars, lots of minimum wage players and lots of 1-2 mill a year players.

    the owners have finally figured out how to bring back the reserve clause – by getting players to sign these long below market contracts for most of their good years. and the players’ union, best i can tell, is not doing well on getting their share of incoming $$$ and they’ll regret it. first they screwed the young players coming in, then they are screwing the minimum wagers out of their fair share and sooner or later, they’ll find they are earning less and less of the incoming $$$ and they’ll be too fat and lazy to fight.

    now i understand why the owners suddenly wanted “clean” players – the guys will break down in their early 30s, like they used to, so there won’t be hardly any guys over 34 or so getting FA contracts and being able to continue playing. cheaper help. and the public WANTS it that way.

  7. Bruce says:

    Ah, Pittsburgh. Another puzzle piece.

  8. Bruce says:

    Wow!!!

    Quote from Rotoworld.com player news:

    “Indians acquired RHP Trevor Bauer from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade.
    Bauer rubbed some in the Diamondbacks’ front office the wrong way with his unorthodox preparation, but it’s hard to believe they couldn’t get more for him. However, Arizona’s loss is Cleveland’s gain, and the Tribe are picking up a potential frontline starter here and didn’t have to give up anything of much consequence other than a guy that would have departed as a free agent following next season. Bauer, who boasts a 3.00 ERA with 200 strikeouts over 156 minor league innings, should immediately slide into the Indians rotation. Dec 11 – 9:34 PM”

  9. Lisa Gray says:

    if trevor bauer wasn’t White, he’d be uppity.

    the dbax were not exactly quiet about the fact that they disliked him PERSONALLY but i didn’t think they’d trade a pitcher valued THAT highly just because they don’t like him. and MLB only tolerates supadupa stahs who don’t seriously toe the line and bauer wasn’t that yet.

    he’s supposedly “uncoachable” – well, at least by the dbax coaches.

    and drew stubbs is gone from the reds – will be interesting to see sin-soo choo playing CF seeing as how he’s not a center fielder.

  10. Bruce says:

    We, I mean they, will be able to check Bauer out in person next year.

  11. Bruce says:

    Rotoworld reports Berkman still at the top of DH list for the ‘stros.

  12. Lisa Gray says:

    bruce

    question is – are the astros at the top of berkman’s list. because he has made it clear he wants to be paid, not Dickey-ed (hahahaha) around with.

    and cleveland didn’t have much of anything good in their rotation last year after derek sunk to new Lowe(s) – hahahaha – my am i not the punster tonight. so maybe they’ll get lucky and bauer will get his stuff together for them. youneverknow. and he’ll be facing astros and mariners, although not frequently enough.

  13. Steve says:

    Hamilton to Angels. Wow. Look at that lineup. Between the Angels, Rangers, and A’s, it’s gonna suck to be Houston.

  14. Eric says:

    Yeah with the Astros’ Quad A pitching staff, they might wind up with the worst ERA in all of MLB next year.

    But hey we still GOT Harrell, right ? He’s in for some rough skidding this coming season even as good as he was last year. That’s some serious hitting lineups in the AL West.

    I’m sure Pujols and Hamilton are circling every Astros game on their calendars for jacking up their MVP numbers.

  15. Lisa Gray says:

    steve

    nonsense. it puts the lastros in a great position to beat seattle and miami for The Worst Team In Baseball – and this will be a trifecta!!!!! do you realize there hasn’t been a trifecta since division baseball began? AND we just might could have a good chance at The Sacred All Time Loss Record (162 game season)!!!!!

    eric,

    i’m sure pujols, trout and hamilton (along with the rest of actual major leaguers) are shaking in their spikes at the thought of facing our new aces Alex White and Phil Humber. Along with whoever else is dredged up from the waiver wire/AAA.

  16. Bruce says:

    We could move the fences across the street and call them the Pujols boxes.

  17. Eric says:

    I looked up Alex White (Who ?) and Phil Humber who I have *vaguely* heard of. Humber might actually be serviceable, but he imploded last year. Had 44 walks over 102 innings…which equaled the year before when he pitched far more innings so it seems he has control problems. Gave up more hits too. Statistically Humber screams “.500 pitcher”

    Alex White…he hasn’t done enough to be even measurable but from what I can see, he’s worse than Humber.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa389733&position=P

    That’s our Josh Fields ? Color me unimpressed…when he had enough time at triple A, he got nuked.

  18. Bruce says:

    I actually think both will eventually be OK, maybe.

  19. Bruce says:

    Both have potential, but so have a lot of others. Will take a bit of good coaching, good timing, good fielding, and good luck.

  20. Lisa Gray says:

    bruce

    i’m sure that Uncle is lookin forward to comin home to the Box. he hit really well once he crawled out of his 7 week paralysis.

    eric,

    alex white is a guy who was drafted very high and he’s still young, so in spite of being traded twice already, he’s got all that “potential” hanging around. sort of like brett wallace. phil humber is a 5th starter at BEST. he’s kind of like armando gallaraga – had a no hitter that came out of nohwere.

    josh fields looked like crap until last year – supposedly, he’s learned to control the strike zone – we’ll see.

  21. Eric says:

    Fromw aht I can see of Josh Fields..he got pounded the first time he moved up a level ((AA and AAA respectively)) and got demoted, then promoted. Did better his second time up at each level. But his sample size at Triple A is too limited honestly.

  22. Lisa Gray says:

    eric

    yeah, i know. it’s why he’s not on the red sox 40 man. i know he throws fast and you know how people are about that. i supposed they think he can be taught command. however, i remember stephen randolph. for one.