Have the Astros gotten better?

With most of their major offseason shopping done, the Astros will be limited to adding a few non-roster players between now and the start in Spring Training in two months. In a whirlwind few days at the Winter Meetings earlier this month, the Astros said goodbye to Jose Valverde, LaTroy Hawkins and Miguel Tejada and hello to Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliz.

There’s no doubt the Astros got a little bit younger, but did they get better? Valverde and Hawkins at the back end of the bullpen are certainly a better option and more proven than Lindstrom and Lyon. Tejada, even though he’s declining in his mid-30s, would have been a better option at third base than Feliz.

When you consider the economics, the Astros had to move in another direction. Valverde, Hawkins and Tejada made a combined $26 million last season. Owner Drayton McLane wants to cut the payroll to about $95 million from last season’s $107 million, and getting rid of Tejada and Valverde pretty much accomplished that. They would have loved to have Hawkins back, but Milwaukee swooped in and signed him.

Lindstrom is still arbitration eligible and comes at a relative bargain considering his age and his stuff, but Lyon is getting paid $5 million per season. Many around baseball believe the Astros overpaid for Lyon, but it’s not like they gave Carlos Lee a six-year, $100 million deal. Spending a little extra money for a proven pitcher doesn’t make the Astros dumb.

Of course, no matter how good these new additions are, it’s all going to come down to starting pitching. And the Astros are going to need some of their young arms to step up next year — Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, Wesley Wright or Wilton Lopez. If at least one of these guys doesn’t plug one of the gaps in the rotation, it won’t matter what Lindstrom and Lyon are able to provide.

11 Comments

To answer the question of whether or not the Astros got better…

Starting pitching = about the same as last year (not good)
Bullpen = worse than last year
Starting hitters = worse than last year
Bench = about the same as last year (not good)
Manager = unknown, but likely better than last year

Unless Mills really makes a huge difference over Cooper, this really looks like a team that’s going to have a hard time matching even what they did last year (which of course wasn’t much). That’s ok as long as the focus is on rebuilding the minor league system.

I think the Astros have gotten worse. You’re right, we did get younger but I’m not sure that we got any better.

The Astros are really going to regret not adding a catcher like a Miguel Olivio or Bengie Molina to fallback on until Castro is ready. I really think they should of had a fallback plan if Tommy struggles. Like an Orlando Cabrera on a cheap 1yr deal.

Then there is our starting pitching which is really really bad. Roy,Wandy, and Moehler are a year older and what happens if one of them misses alot of time then what?

We should of signed a starter or two and used the young guys as a fall back plan.

On the flip side, we’re probably going to lose even more games than we did last year and this will probably get Ed Wade fired. I used to feel bad for Ed Wade because I thought he was giving a bad hand, but not anymore. He makes some of the most bone head moves that I’ve seen. There is more the team than the bullpen.

Let’s face it this team is really bad and they are not going to be a very big draw this year. From a fans perspective, there is nothing exciting about this team. This might be the worse team that we’ve had since 1991.

TAG:

Not related to this story, but what do you think will happen to the Ryan-Sanders teams (RR and CC) in Texas now that Ryan will own some percentage of the Rangers? Changed to Ranger affiliates?

RG

“Tejada, even though he’s declining in his mid-30s, would have been a better option at third base than Feliz.” No one knows whether Tejada can even play 3b on a regular basis. Did no one else notice the giant crow hops on his throws at the end of last season? The Astros will get better if Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman play better than they did last season.

What do you mean Milwaukee “swooped in” and took him? He wanted to come back and the Astros did what they did with Pettitte; they refused him a second year, and he walked, and then they went out and gave THREE years to the inferior Lyon. This team is freaking doomed as long as Drayton and Tal are running the show.

The Astros have gotten worse this off-season. Perhaps this was unavoidable given the payroll issues, but they’re worse nonetheless.We don’t have an elite closer anymore and the offense took a big hit with the departure of Tejada (Feliz does little to change that). Our starting rotation has a chance to be better, but not through any acquisitions made by the front office; we will be using the same young pitchers we used in the second half of 2009 and hoping they can have breakout seasons.Our defense is the only area we’ve definitely improved, as Tejada was an awful defensive shortstop and the Blum/Keppinger platoon was below average. I like that we sought defensive value, but it’s too little to make up for all the other losses.

I don’t often go into a season with a feeling of dread. However, when the owner’s answer to a bad season is to cut payroll and let a few solid players go, it’s tough to care. Bullpen is worse, hitters are worse, starters are worse, and we have a rookie manager. Man, 2010 is shaping up to be really ugly. Oh well, guess I shouldn’t worry too much – Uncle D says we’ll be “chaympyuns”.

……and I’m still gonna drop my 150 bux for MLB.tv, and the Stros are still gonna do something nobody expected prior to Opening Day, and my boys are stilll gonna be competitive like every other team for a while…….and then we’ll see in the summer-time, and I’ll have already paid my bux to watch whenever I can, and they’ll do better than Uncle D deserves, and there will be stars in brick orange. Lemme drop it now, when it’s still exciting on Labor Day, all y’all better man up and apologize. At least I’ll be within a couple of time zones again.
Happy holidays, younger in this case will be better, whether immediately or not………

Defensively our infield got a bit better with Manzella (supposedly anyway). However I would not say Feliz makes a much better defensive 3rd baseman over Blum. Our offense got weaker now that Tejada is gone, and again it doesn?t look like Feliz is an improvement over Blum. If Manzella can avoid hitting a lot of GIDP (18 this season with RR) that will be an improvement over Tejada but in term of BA and OBP and SLG he?s a downgrade. Lyon and Lindstrom are not Valverde and Hawkins, however they are younger and cheaper (saved around $7.5 millions). Like someone said, Ed did exactly what Drayton wanted him to do which was lowering the payroll. What I think may make a real difference is the coach. If Mills can rally the team and create a good atmosphere we?ll be in a lot better shape.
Now i don’t know about you but i can’t wait to see who signs Valverde; Someone with a pick higher than 15 in the 1st round I hope.

I’m not overly impressed when I see D-backs sign Howry for 1 year at $2-3 million while we do 3 for $15 M with Lyon. Does not compute!

They should have drafted Zach VonRosenberg. I am a Pirates fan now!

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