So as the one who was on duty at the AC Desk this weekend, being called away on business meant that I completely failed at my job. I thought, "What can possibly happen?" And then the Astros went and signed Bill Hall to a $3.25 million contract. A couple of notes about this.
1. This is pretty clearly the end of Jeff Keppinger's time as 2B1. If this is true, I'm okay with that. 2010 was the best year of his career, and if the Astros can capitalize on that with a couple of prospects - even lower-level ones - then that's great.
2. That said, the Hall deal is only a one-year deal. Meaning the Astros are paying $3.25m for a guy who has posted one year with an OPS higher than .700 since 2007. Keppinger is heading to arbitration for the second time, after making $1.15m in 2010. Even if his 2nd year of arbitration nets him a 100% raise, it will result in almost a million dollars less than Bill Hall's deal. (But again, if you spend $1m adding a good prospect or two, then I can live with that).
3. The Astros are obviously just trying to get to 2012. Heading into 2012, Lee will be mercifully be in the final year of his contract. Bourn and Pence will be in their final year of arbitration. Hall will be off the books. Who knows what will happen to Barmes? Just right there, that's potentially five positions (without even having looked at pitchers) that are up in the air beginning in 2013. Will the Astros give extensions to Bourn or Pence? They've decided - rightly, in my humble opinion - to wait and see. There's no pressure to lock anybody up, because let's be honest, the Reds and Cardinals are going to be better - on paper - than the Astros for the next couple of seasons. With the Brewers acquiring Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum, they are now better than the Astros.
4. So Wade is doing what he has done over the past couple of years: Trying to catch lightning in a bottle while adding to the farm system. It seems to be his M.O - stock the system, and then get fired before any of them finish climbing the chain. If you're a Wade believer, then you hope whomever is the new owner (if there even is one by 2012), believes in the system and keeps him on. It's not Wade's fault that the Astros have $35m in financial commitments in 2012, and $18.5m of that is to Carlos Lee. Patience is the word to remember around Astros Fandom. Think Mills is reminiscing about his days at Fenway yet?