The Crawfish Boxes have lashed out with a logical argument for offering arbitration to LaHawk. Which, of course, the Astros did not do.
Prior to a few hours ago, Hawkins was a questionable free-agent to invest in because of the detrimental Type-A tag hanging off his right arm. All Ed Wade had to do was explain to Drayton McLane is that by not offering Hawkins arbitration, he'd start hearing sizable offers that the Astros, or really any rational actor, likely cannot prudently match. Or that with an arbitration offer the Astros would get one of two results: teams become gun-shy due to the draft picks if Hawkins declines it, or the Astros get Hawkins back for probably no more than $4 million for one year if they go to arbitration.
Who, upon seeing that logic, says no to that? So either Drayton McLane is wholly illogical, or Ed Wade did not frame this decision very well to his boss. One of the two. But now there's no going back on this one and I think we'll see an interesting race to overpay for guys on the fringe of closer (like Hawkins, Gregg, and Sherril) as the hot stove heats up.
I don't understand it either. My immediate guess is that even $4 million (I thought $5m was a reasonable arrangement for LaHawk) is more than Run-DMC wants to spend on a closer in 2010, and the plan is to plug an in-house option in, while spending that money (or not) on another piece - maybe even Tejada. I, for a moment, thought that perhaps a deal had been worked out already with LaHawk, but then why wouldn't Ed offer arbitration, anyway? Just in case.
Ed could have locked up some sort of return for Hawkins' pretty great season and a half, be it by bringing him back or with a draft pick. But it didn't happen. And the most amazing thing about all of this is that nobody knows who to blame - Drayton, Ed, or the Wizard of As himself, Tal Smith.
Earlier I mentioned the possibility that the Astros will lose their 8th/9th inning pitchers this off-season, and that possibility is becoming more of a reality.