Justice's column this morning is like when your roommate in college asks you if you'll be able to give him a ride home every 15 minutes in Finals Week. We get it. You like Jim Fregosi.
Regardless, Justice outlines his Five-Point Plan to fix the Astros:
1. Be realistic. The Astros didn't become terrible overnight, and they're not going to be fixed overnight.
2. Establish continuity. The Astros have had three general managers and four managers since the middle of the 2004 season. No other franchise has had so much turmoil, which is an indication of organizational chaos and placing the blame for failures in all the wrong places.
3. Hire Jim Fregosi to be manager. Manny Acta, Bob Melvin, Don Baylor and Ned Yost would all be terrific choices, and Acta is especially appealing because of his history with the organization. However, Fregosi brings credibility the franchise needs and a personal presence to refocus the clubhouse on winning.
4. Return to the time-tested core principles of pitching and defense. Every move should be made with pitching and defense in mind.
5. Re-sign Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins for the back of the bullpen and spring for one reliable starting pitcher to put in a rotation that has Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and Brian Moehler.
I wonder if Fregosi owes Justice money. And the only way that Justice is going to get it back is if he has to talk to Fregosi 80-100 times a year. I think this Five-Point Plan is similar to everybody's Five-Point Plan: Pitch well, play good defense, establish a respectable franchise. The only part of this that doesn't make sense is resigning Valverde.
Within Justice's column, he acknowledges it may be 2012 before the Astros can win their division again. So why commit $10m/year until Valverde is 35 (or 36, or...) for that to happen. Point Five flies in the face of Point One in being realistic. LaHawk can handle the 9th inning. Let's see if a bullpen anchored by Arias/Fulchino can get it to him. To commit what looks to be about 12% of the payroll to a closer who might be in a position to save 20-25 games is ludicrous. So let's be realistic, and let's use Valverde's $10m somewhere else...