Late-ish last night, the Astros made as much of a splash as the Astros can make by signing 33-year old Jack Cust to a 1-year deal with a club option for a 2nd year.
The immediate question was: What the hell? (Note: This was written prior to me seeing Powling's post for SB Nation).
Currently on the 40-man roster, the Astros have Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, Carlos Lee, Fernando Martinez, J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer, and J.B. Shuck. Seven outfielders. Well, eight, now. What the hell is going on? Is Cust going to play Rover?
The way it looks now, Carlos Lee is probably going to at least begin the year at 1B, so that leaves J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer, and Brian Bogusevic as your potential outfielder, though there's room for someone coming up and killing the ball in Spring Training and beginning the year with some starts. Also, if Brett Wallace has figured out how to hit a fastball inside, it could push Carlos Lee back to LF, which would mean OUTFIELDER APOCALYPSE.
The question on my mind is, "Where does Cust fit in?" He had a miserable 2011, playing in 67 games for the Mariners, and hitting .213/.344/.329, the lowest OPS of his career since he got 78 PAs for the Rockies in 2002. He's been a DH-type player since 2007, hitting 25+ HRs from 2007-09 (also leading the AL in strikeouts with 164, 197, 185, respectively).
Like most everyone else, he could be the Bat Off the Bench - Jason Michaels 2.0. You can't look at his history as a pinch-hitter, as he's spent the overwhelming majority of his career in the American League, only getting a circus performer's handful of Pinch-Hit PAs.
For his career against RHPs, Cust has a .247/.383/.466 line, with 86 of his 105 career homers coming off righties.
Does it make senes? Not really. So, should you get upset about the signing? Probably not. Bogusevic, Shuck, and both Martinez' all have options left. As the Juvenile Court Clerk so deftly put it, they could have announced a Pudge signing instead. Click the SBN link above for further analysis...
Update: Cust has signed for $600,000. Compared to you and I, that's a huge amount of money. It's also $300,000 less than Jason Michaels made in 2011, so keep that in mind.
Updated Update: Cust's contract is a non-guaranteed contract. And if that doesn't help you out, the JCC posted this link from McTaggart (when he worked at the Chronicle) on the difference between Guaranteed and Non-Guaranteed Contracts. Hint: one of them is not guaranteed.
“Any player released after April 1 would receive full termination pay. So in other words, all non-guaranteed contracts would become guaranteed past the April 1 deadline."
So if Cust makes it through Spring Training, he gets his $600,000.