Results tagged ‘ Miguel Tejada ’

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.

Tejada likely done with Astros

Astros general manager Ed Wade met Tuesday morning with Diego Bentz, the agent for free-agent infielder Miguel Tejada, and expressed doubt his club would be able to sign the former American League Most Valuable Player.

“I’m not optimistic we’re going to be able to get anything done on Miggy,” Wade said. “We love him death and everything he’s brought to the organization, but I don’t necessarily see a common ground.”

Wade said the sticking point is length of terms of the contract. Tejada made about $14 million last season, but the Astros told him he’d had to have a large pay cut and play third base if he was going to return for a third season in Houston. That return now seems very unlikely.

Astros face arbitration decisions

If you were the general manager of the Astros, what would you do?

The Astros have until Tuesday night to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents – a list that includes shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde, reliever LaTroy Hawkins, outfielder Jason Michaels and infielder/outfielder Darin Erstad.

Players offered arbitration have until next Monday to decline or accept the offer. If they accept, they are considered signed players and will have their salary determined through an arbitration hearing or negotiations. If they decline, they are still free to sign with the Astros or any other team.

The decision to offer arbitration has high stakes. Tejada, Valverde and Hawkins were classified as Type A free agents, which means the Astros would get draft picks if the players were offered arbitration and sign with another team. If they’re not offered arbitration and sign with another team, the Astros don’t get compensation.

If a Type A player signed with another team after being offered arbitration, the Astros would receive the signing club’s first-round draft pick in next year’s draft (assuming it’s not in the top 15 picks) and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. A Type B free agent, such as Doug Brocail, would bring only a sandwich pick.

Tejada made around $14 million last season and appears headed for a healthy pay cut on the free-agent market, which makes it seem unlikely the Astros would offer him arbitration. Valverde, who made $8 million last season, is likely headed for a raise after coming off a season in which he was 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA and converted 25 of 29 saves. He would be less likely to accept arbitration if he was offered by the Astros because he could command a higher salary in free agency.

The Astros have been in negotiations with Hawkins for weeks and are eager to re-sign him to be an option at closer if Valverde leaves. Hawkins had a base salary of $3.5 million last season and made nearly $4 million in incentives and was 1-4 with 11 saves and a 2.13 ERA.

Here’s what I would do:

Jose Valverde: Offer arbitration. He’ll have some strong interest and will likely get a multi-year deal from somebody, so I think it’s doubtful he would accept arbitration. If he does, you have an expensive, but capable closer.

Miguel Tejada: Don’t offer. He’ll get nowhere near the kind of money in the free-agent market than he would in arbitration, which he would accept in a heartbeat. If he wants to come back, it will have to be at a discount. The Astros can’t afford paying a third baseman $14 million next year.

LaTroy Hawkins: Offer arbitration. Sure, he’ll get a raise, but the Astros need the Hawk, especially if Valverde bolts. If he accepts and becomes the closer, he’ll still likely make less than Valverde did in closer’s role last season.

Jason Michaels: Don’t offer. I think the Astros should re-sign him, but I don’t expect there to be a big market for him and he’s not going to bring compensation anyway.

Darin Erstad: Don’t offer. Erstad is one of my favorite guys, but how much does he have left?


Dissecting the Astros and arbitration/free agency

The free agent filing period began Thursday, with outfielder/infielder Darin Erstad, outfielder Jason Michaels and pitcher Mike Hampton filing for free agency. Shortstop Miguel Tejada, closer Jose Valverde and reliever LaTroy Hawkins are expected to file in the coming days.

The Astros have a 15-day exclusive negotiating window with their own free agents and are hoping to get something done soon with Hawkins. Tejada and Valverde will certainly test the free agency waters.

Tejada, Valverde and Hawkins have been classified by the Elias Sports Bureau as Type A free agents, which means simply they are among the best in baseball at their positions. It also means the Astros could receive an additional first-round draft pick next year if they offer them arbitration and they wind up signing with another team.

Of course, offering arbitration is tricky. Tejada made roughly $15 million last season, so if they offer him arbitration and he accepts, he could wind up making a ton of money after leading the team in hits and driving in 86 runs. But if they don’t offer Tejada arbitration and he signs elsewhere, they get nothing.

The same is true with Valverde, who made $8 million last year and is likely headed for a raise. If the Astros offered arbitration to both Valverde and Tejada and they both accept, they could make a combined $25 million next year. That would put a choke hold on the payroll. Houston already owes Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui a combined $54.5 million next year, and several players are due for large raises in arbitration.

“We have to keep our eye on both balls,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We have to pay attention to the short term, and if there’s a free agent out there we feel we can’t walk past and is costs us a draft pick then we have to deal with that. At the same time, there’s nothing more valuable to the overall long-term picture than draft picks.

“Whether it’s sacrificing draft picks or picking up additional draft picks by offering salary arbitration and run the risk of having the player accept, we have to evaluate the different variables involved. When it comes down to it, if there’s a Major League free agent we think we can’t live without and we have a chance to sign them and them are faced with losing a second-round pick in the process.”

Elias ranks all Major League players numerically based on their stats from the last two years. The players are grouped by five positions by league – first base/outfield, catcher, second base-shortstop-third base, starting pitching and relief pitching. The top 20 percent at each position are considered Type A free agents, and the next 20 percent are Type B.

Teams that lose a Type A free agent receive the first-round draft pick from next year’s First-Year Player Draft from the signing team (provided it’s not in the Top 15) in addition to a supplemental pick between the first and second round. Teams losing a Type B free agent receive a supplemental pick, with the signing team keeping its draft choice.

The good news for the Astros is their pick in next June’s First-Player Draft is in the first half of first round (No. 8), so they will keep their first-round pick even if they sign a Type A free agent. They would give up their second-round pick instead of their first-round pick in that case.

Teams have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents, and the players have until Dec. 7 to decide if they’re going to accept.

In case you’re wondering, Randy Wolf is a Type A free agent.

Players can file for free agency today

Beginning today, players eligible for free agency can start filing. For the Astros, that list includes Darin Erstad, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Michaels, Miguel Tejada and Jose Valverde, who has already said he’s going to test the free-agent waters. Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton are also eligible, but Boone could retire and Hampton’s career appears to be done.

Those eligible for free agency have 15 days to file and their former team has exclusive negotiating rights for that period. Players are free to talk to other teams, but they can’t talk about contract offers in terms of dollars without risking tampering.

The Astros could sign either of their own free agents, just as they did last week with Geoff Blum. They’re in talks with Hawkins and hope to re-sign him. Michaels could also return, but the big names are Tejada and Valverde. I see Valverde’s price being too high for the Astros, and I don’t envision Tejada returning. It all depends on what kind of market there is for Tejada and whether he wants to take a large pay cut and play third base.

Those looking at possible free agents for the Astros down the road? The Dodgers have declined the option of Jon Garland, who went a combined 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA between Arizona and the L.A. Dodgers. The Astros made a run at him a couple of years ago and could do so again.


Astros tidbits

Here are some various Astros tidbits from Tuesday:

— As you certainly know by now, Wesley Wright is going to winter ball to be a starter. Wright will head to the instructional league in Kissimmee, Fla., following the regular season and try to get stretched out by throwing five innings before reporting for the start of the Dominican winter league on Oct. 23.

— The Astros haven’t begun contacting candidates for possible interviews to be the next manager, but about 60-70 people have contacted the Astros through emails and phone calls in the days since Cecil Cooper was let go. The Astros are still in the process of sifting through names.

Pedro Martinez will start for the Phillies on Wednesday against the Astros instead of Thursday. Cliff Lee, who was originally scheduled to start Wednesday, will instead start Thursday. Philadelphia changed up the rotation so it can start lining up its pitching for the playoffs.

— Astros interim manager Dave Clark said he considered hitting Miguel Tejada in the lead-off spot Tuesday with Michael Bourn out of the starting lineup. “I thought about leading him off and seeing what happens,” Clark said. “It may happen in the Mets series. You just never know.”




Brocail feels better after tip from Oswalt

Even after more than 20 years in professional baseball, relief pitcher Doug Brocail still seeks advice. Brocail summoned teammate Roy Oswalt to play catch with him Wednesday with hopes he could find out why he was having trouble getting his arm in the proper slot.

About 10 throws into the pitch-and-catch session, Oswalt pegged it. He told Brocail he needed to get his front side (left side) and his left arm higher during his delivery, which would, in turn, cause him to get his back side and throwing arm higher.

“He got me up and out,” said Brocail, who’s been limited to 8 1/3 innings because of three different stints on the disabled list this year. “I’ve been so lost mechanically. When I came back and was sore and when I blew out my leg I have been throwing with a really low arm slot.

“About the 10th throw with me yesterday, he walked me through it and got me to a comfortable position. He got me way back on top of the ball, and the ball was coming out of my hand about seven or eight mph harder than I’ve been throwing all year.”

Oswalt could tell a difference right away.

“Pitchers go through different funks where they don’t really know what they’re doing,” he said. “You can kind of feel the ball isn’t coming out of your hand right. There’s got to be a reason a lot of times, more than just the obvious. Doug was telling me that he felt he wasn’t getting over the top of the ball because his arm wasn’t up high enough.

“Usually that stems from your front side. Everything operates from your front side. Instead of just telling somebody to get your arm up higher, which is not really the answer you’re looking for, you can correct something to allow them to get their arm up.

“I noticed his forearm, his lead arm, was down, and instead of throwing on top of the ball he was throwing around the ball. You can tell a lot of stuff by the spin of the ball, and I could tell the ball had a tilt to it instead of an over-the-top spin. That stems from not coming over the top of the ball.”

Brocail, who’s currently on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, said he felt “phenomenal” today and wants to get on the mound and throw in the bullpen Friday or Saturday. He said he would have to go on a Minor League rehab before returning, hopefully by the start of September.

“We haven’t talked that far, but I’d like to get back out there,” he said. “I need innings. I haven’t done anything for the team all year, and hopefully this will get me over the jump and put myself in better position to throw the baseball.”


Astros manager Cecil Cooper tried to talk shortstop Miguel Tejada into taking a day off when the two visited in the manager’s office before Thursday’s game, but Tejada convinced Cooper to keep writing his name in the lineup card. Tejada has started all but two games this year and leads the league in multi-hit games and hits.

“I’m the kind of guy, I like to play every day,” he said. “I don’t think I can help the team sitting on the bench. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I can do the job. This time of year, everybody’s tired. As soon as I put on my uniform, I felt good to play nine innings.”

Cooper said he will have to settle for trying to give Tejada occasional innings off.

“He didn’t one, so we’re going to roll until I feel like he really needs it,” Cooper said. “He needs it, but he probably won’t get it.”




Tejada taking time out for kids

Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada performed clinics on Tuesday and Wednesday at local YMCA branches. Before each Wednesday home game, Tejada hosts 20 Houston area kids from low-income families to Tejada’s Troops.

Purchased by Tejada, each participant receives a field-level ticket to the game along with $10 in Astros Bucks that can be spent at Minute Maid Park. The experience also includes watching Astros batting practice from the field and the chance to spend time with the five-time All-Star.

Tejada fielded a wide range of questions Wednesday, ranging from his fears to how many kids he has. Among the things Tejada told the group was his favorite travel city was New York and his favorite player growing up was Alfredo Griffin, who is also from the Dominican Republic. Tejada also told the kids to pursue their dreams.

“I like to come speak to children because where I came from kids didn’t have the opportunity to talk to people like me and a lot of people look at me like a role model,” he said. “I came from nothing and look where I am. A lot of bad things can happen and kids can go in a lot of directions.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Major League players or have famous people to talk to. I wish back in the day, a professional player would have talked to me.”


The Astros announced that the club has finalized the details of a build-to-lease agreement for a new complex for their Dominican Republic operations. The lease was entered into with D. & F. Sport Field Services, S.A, and will be for a five-year term with an option to renew twice, each option for an additional five-year period.

“The new complex in the Dominican Republic is a huge step forward in our player development process,” general manager Ed Wade said. “The facility will allow us to further the on-field development of our young Latin players along with giving us the opportunities to enhance their diets and provide them with English lessons that will allow them to function at a higher level when they move along the development chain in the United States.

“We’re excited about the advances that we’re making on the international front, and this is one more clear indication of our commitment to find and develop the best talent on a worldwide basis.”

The all-inclusive academy will be located in the Guerra Region of Boca Chica, D.R., and will be conveniently located a half-mile from the new Tampa Bay Rays and L.A. Dodgers facilities, as well as in the same area as the Kansas City Royals and other Major League Dominican Academies. The Astros current Dominican Operations resides in San Pedro de Macoris, D.R.

The complex will consists of two-and-a-half baseball playing fields, six-pack pitching mounds, batting cages and an observation tower among other amenities.

The facility will also include a two-story building with the first floor consisting of administrative offices, educational classrooms, a dining room, full-service industrial kitchen, weight room, training room, manager and coaches offices and locker rooms, equipment room, clubhouse, and laundry room. On the second floor of the building will be player and staff living accommodations, along with a computer lab with 15-20 work stations and a player entertainment room.

The academy should be fully functional by the start of the 2010 Dominican Summer League season.

Tejada hitting streak stopped

Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada had five attempts to extend his National League-best hitting streak Thursday night against the Colorado Rockies but went hitless in five at-bats to bring an end to the streak at 17 games.

Tejada flied out to center in the first inning, struck out in the third, lined out to right field in the sixth and bounced out to the pitcher in the eighth. Tejada got one final chance with two outs in the ninth and hit into a game-ending fielder’s choice.

Tejada, who entered Thursday’s game leading the NL with a .358 batting average, hit .444 (32-for-72) during the hitting streak, which was his longest since going for 19 games in 2004. The last Astros player with a streak longer than 17 games was Willy Taveras, who had a club-record 30-game streak in 2006.