Over the last week or so, I have been amused, outraged and confused by the articles and comments that I have been reading. Call this a follow-up to my first article, An Open Letter to the Casual Fan, because various media outlets and bloggers are clogging the minds of fans with worthless information that I would like to clear up.
First on my list, Josh Hamilton: The Houston Chronicle posted an article that Josh Hamilton was a fit with the Astros and even went as far as posting a poll as to whether or not they should make an attempt to sign him. Really? This type of journalism is foolish and should have never been published. This article generated pages of fans debating on whether or whether not Josh Hamilton should actually be signed by the Astros.
First off, of course Josh Hamilton is a “fit” for the Astros. Oh, by the way, one of the best hitters in the game and biggest free agent on the market is also a fit for the other 29 teams as well. Why exactly would the Astros sign a player on the wrong side of thirty during the beginning-to-middle stages of their rebuilding process? Furthermore, why would they do so and lose draft pick compensation, which is the entire idea behind their rebuild?
The Astros are (and should) be trying to stockpile so many prospects and draft picks that they are asked to be filmed in an episode of Hoarders. If the question is whether or whether not to sign a player which will result in a loss of a pick, then the answer is without a doubt, a resounding, “No!”
We are on the right track. It is a painful, brutal direction, but it is the right one. We need to stay steadfast and support our beloved team through this process. If you don’t know the names of Singleton, Cosart, Springer, Villar, Correa, DeShields, Clemens, Olberholtzer, McCullers, Ruiz and others, well, you should. The depth of that talent pool is sure to get deeper in the near future with definitely one and most likely a second and possibly even a third 1st overall pick in the First Year Amateur Draft.
Josh Hamilton, nor any other big name free agent, will remedy any problem that we currently have. In fact, it would only worsen the situation. With his salary demands and length of desired contract, his $20-25MM annual salary would only tie down the Astros’ when they were ready to possibly extend the contracts of those younger players listed above, or make an attempt to sign a free agent in their prime, rather than Hamilton who at this time would be in his mid-30’s and certainly not producing at the level equivalent to his pay.
Next on the list are the Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer. Now most of this will revolve around Upton, who has undeniably been shopped and will probably be moved before the start of the ’13 season. I’m going to start with a package that I, personally, do not even think would land Upton, but is still enough to debunk any kind of trade ideas. That package would be Bud Norris, Jed Lowrie and George Springer.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem too bad. It can be justified as follows: “Well Norris has had his chance. He’s shown flashes of greatness, but this is Justin Upton we’re talking about! Lowrie is a good shortstop, but he’s not in our future plans. We can definitely find someone to fill the hole until Villar or someone else gets promoted! Springer is definitely a good player, but there’s no assurance that he’ll ever be what Justin Upton is or can be! Let’s do this deal for sure!”
Now, let’s move back to reality. Justin Upton is signed for three years at $38 million. Not really that bad to be honest. But what happens at the end of that third year and he’s still just 28 years old? What if he hits his ceiling? Are we going to pay him $25MM to stay? Will he want to stay? Will the Yankees or another team outbid us? What if he never reaches his ceiling? What if he really is just a .280/17/80 guy? Did we just trade those three for that?
In actuality, there is a very good market for shortstops right now. Lowrie can bring a nice return. There could even potentially be a decent market for a hard-throwing pitcher like Norris should Houston decide to move him. The key as to why this is a horrible idea is Springer. Does he have the ceiling of Upton? Probably not. But then again, do players always reach their ceilings? Absolutely not. What if we traded Lowrie for a nice prospect or two, and kept Springer who ended up being a 20-25 home run and 75-95 RBI guy? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Oh, by the way, I haven’t even mentioned that Springer will be under club control for years after Upton’s contract has expired.
Now to Bauer. People have thrown together trade possibilities involving Bauer and Upton as if they were aging castaways who were overpaid and over-stayed their welcome in Arizona. Bauer is 21 and Upton is 25. That’s a combined age of 46 years old, which is younger than Jamie Moyer who was just pitching in the Major Leagues last season and barely older than some active players. These guys are young, really young. Factor in that Upton has a relatively team-friendly contract and Bauer is, oh, by the way, one of the top prospects in the entire game. Acquiring these two would literally cost just about everything that the Astros have spent working towards these last few seasons and I can assure you that Trevor Bauer and Justin Upton are not the answer to our problem and would not result in a World Series berth.
My advice to Houston fans: Trust what they’re doing. This isn’t the old regime. I am one-hundred percent confident and trust in what Jeff Luhnow is doing. Every time I turn around, our minor league systems seems to get deeper and deeper. It’s going to work. You have to ride it out. You have to support your team. When the smoke clears and the dust settles, this is going to be awesome!