Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Smiley Rosenthal takes his weekly shot at the Astros

...Although there are some nice things to say in his piece...

The move seems almost obvious. The Astros rank 11th in the National League in OPS at third base. Miguel Tejada ranks 32nd among major-league shortstops in the plus-minus ratings on Bill James Online.

Why not move Tejada to third and promote slick-fielding shortstop Tommy Manzella from Class AAA? One reason, general manager Ed Wade says, is Tejada's pending free agency.

"We've never broached the subject with Miggy about moving," Wade says. "I'm sure if we asked him, he'd do it. Frankly, I think it's tough to ask a player to change positions in his free-agent season."

Wade says such a decision would make sense only if it improved the club "dramatically." That might be a difficult sell: Manzella, 26, has only a .699 OPS at Class AAA.

And then...wait. Could it be? Credit given to Ed Wade?

The point is, the Astros — under tight financial constraints — probably will have no choice but to improve from within. If they don't make a move at shortstop, they certainly will have flexibility with their pitching staff.

The return of left-hander Mike Hampton in addition to righty Felipe Paulino will give the team six starters, at least temporarily. Righties Bud Norris and Yorman Bazardo loom as potential reinforcements at Class AAA.

Give Wade credit for mining the so-called "free" market for talent. Bazardo was a minor-league free agent. Two of the Astros' most successful relievers this season, Alberto Arias and Jeff Fulchino, were waiver claims from the Rockies and Royals, respectively.


Regrettably, I totally agree with Rosenthal on letting Miggs earn his next contract. Play it out at shortstop, and let Manzella/Maysonet fight it out over the rest of the year in Triple-A and in Spring Training 2010, and fill the gaps from within. I think we've seen the last of the $100 million contracts out of Drayton.

Free agent shortstops in 2010 include (and their ages):
Orlando Cabrera (35)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Adam Everett (33)
Chris Gomez (39)
Alex Gonzalez (32) - $6MM mutual option with a $500K buyout
Khalil Greene (30)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
John McDonald (35)
Marco Scutaro (34)
Omar Vizquel (43)
Jack Wilson (32) - $8.4MM club option with a $600K buyout

Does that flip up anybody's skirt? Me neither.

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