The Rangers might be in the heat of the ALCS, but let's not forget about the Lone Star State's other pro baseball team. Here are a few pieces of Astros news from the team's senior director of digital media, Alyson Footer…
- While Carl Crawford is a Houston native and a childhood friend of Astros outfielder Michael Bourn, Footer says the odds are "slim to none" of the Astros pursuing the free agent this winter. Crawford would absorb a quarter of Houston's payroll, and would cost the rebuilding team a draft pick (though not its 11th-overall first-round pick, which is protected).
- The team may consider changes at second base and shortstop. Jeff Keppinger is a safe bet to start at second next year, but neither Tommy Manzella or Angel Sanchez are settled at short. Footer says the Astros will be looking for a utility infielder.
- Other needs are a fifth starter and a left-handed hitting platoon partner for Jason Michaels in left field.
- Footer says the payroll will be "somewhat lower than the $93 million it was when the season started, and higher than the $50-some million it was when the season ended." According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Houston has a bit more than $41MM committed to next year's payroll, but that's not counting arbitration raises for Bourn, Hunter Pence or Wandy Rodriguez, among others. Given that Houston finally seems to be committed to a youth movement, it's hard to see next year's payroll topping $80MM at the most.