Offseason In Review: Houston Astros

Next in our Offseason In Review series, the Astros.

Major League Signings

  • Brandon Lyon, RP: three years, $15MM.
  • Brett Myers, SP: one year, $5.1MM.  Includes $8MM mutual option for 2011 with a $2MM buyout.
  • Pedro Feliz, 3B: one year, $4.5MM.
  • Brian Moehler, P: one year, $3MM.  Mutual option exercised.
  • Geoff Blum, IF: one year, $1.5MM.  Includes $1.65MM mutual option for 2011.
  • Jason Michaels, OF: one year, $800K.
  • Total spend: $29.9MM.

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Summary

Early in the offseason, it was suggested by some reporters that the Astros had the payroll flexibility to make only minor moves.  As Jeff Euston wrote for Baseball Prospectus in February, the team did ultimately trim roughly $15MM from their year-end payroll.  GM Ed Wade still is able to pay his offseason acquisitions about $20MM in 2010, since the '09 payroll featured larger commitments to veterans such as Tejada, Valverde, Hawkins, Brocail, Hampton, Erstad, and Backe.

I wrote in October that the Astros could contend in 2010 with the right additions.  Starting with the bullpen, Wade replaced Valverde and Hawkins with Lyon and Lindstrom.  The Astros might not lose much in performance here, and they will pay the new pair $4.125MM less in 2010 than the old tandem will earn.  Plus, the Astros snagged the #19 pick in the draft from the Tigers.  The downside to this bullpen swap: Lyon's contract is quite excessive, the pair comes with increased health risks, and Jimenez might've been useful.

Myers is a wild card as the new #3 starter; the Astros are looking for him to return to his 2006 level of performance (3.91 ERA in 198 innings).  My beef is with the Astros bringing back Moehler at $3MM.  There was no reason to overcommit to him in October.

There was early talk that the Astros would go with rookies Tommy Manzella and Chris Johnson on the left side of their infield in 2010.  Instead Feliz will handle the hot corner as the Astros take a defense-first approach toward the two positions.

For the Astros to contend in 2010, they'll need a huge performance from their rotation.  Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Myers, Bud Norris, and Felipe Paulino are all capable of big things.  They won't get much run support – the lineup is littered with easy outs and is the worst of the eight NL clubs I've projected so far (using CHONE and Baseball Musings' lineup analysis tool).


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