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Astros looking for deals at meetings

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by BobFinn*, Dec 9, 2002.

  1. BobFinn*

    BobFinn* Contributing Member

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    12/09/2002 11:00 am ET
    Astros looking for deals at meetings
    Hunsicker would like to shore up Houston bullpen
    By Alyson Footer / MLB.com


    HOUSTON -- In a perfect world, general manager Gerry Hunsicker would return from the Winter Meetings with a veteran starting pitcher, a left-handed specialist, a right-handed setup man and a speedy, defensively-sound center fielder who can bat leadoff and also hit for average.
    However, that perfect world has a few bumpy roads in the form of budget restraints, which will factor into how much Hunsicker will be able to accomplish when the Winter Meetings begin Thursday. He seemingly has found that veteran starting pitcher by re-signing Shane Reynolds to a one-year contract, which means the Astros' GM will likely concentrate on shoring up the bullpen later this week.

    As expected, the Astros did not offer salary arbitration to left-hander Pedro Borbon on Saturday. Borbon, who was traded to Houston from Toronto in the midst of the 2002 season, was effective enough in retiring left-handed hitters but not so successful when facing right-handers. Hunsicker hopes to amend that predicament by landing a lefty who is equally as effective against batters from both sides of the plate.

    The role of the right-handed setup man to complement Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner will not go to Nelson Cruz, who is expected to be traded this offseason. Lack of playing time in '02 moved Cruz to publicly blast manager Jimy Williams toward the end of the season and Hunsicker later confirmed that the right-hander "would probably be best suited in a different uniform next year."

    In a right-handed setup man, Hunsicker is seeking a sound power arm, not just a "bullpen guy." Flash Gordon did an admirable job in this role after arriving in a mid-season trade from Chicago but expressed the desire to pitch somewhere where he could assume a closer's role. Consequently, the Astros did not offer him salary arbitration.


    "We have a number of viable candidates for the bullpen," Hunsicker said. "The righty would have to be a legitimate setup guy, a power arm to go along with Dotel."

    With regard to that desired speedy center fielder, Hunsicker doesn't expect the 1996 version of Kenny Lofton to just drop in his lap. "What we're really looking for in center field is almost non-existent," he admitted. "There are just not that many players in the game that give you a complete enough package where it makes sense to take the kind of power out of our lineup that we would have to take out to accomodate this person."

    The Astros' lineup centers around offensive power, but considering the club already lacks power from its shortstop, third base and catcher positions, taking another offensive force out of the outfield in exchange for better defense is a risk the Astros might be unwilling to take.

    It's a debate has been a hot topic among the Astros' braintrust for some time.

    "If we change our outfield lineup, what change would make sense to where we improved our team?" Hunsicker said. "Does it make sense to strengthen your defense at the expense of your offense? Have you made your team better, stronger, more competitive?"

    As it stands, the Astros' outfield consists of starters Daryle Ward, Lance Berkman and Richard Hidalgo. If the Astros were to make a trade for a defensively-sound center fielder, Berkman could move to left, where he is probably better suited. But right fielder Hidalgo recently completed his second unproductive year at the plate and could have additional problems stemming from being shot in the left forearm during a carjacking incident. If Hidalgo struggles again in '03, that would leave the power burden on the shoulders of three position players: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Berkman.

    The Astros have been among the quietest of the 30 teams throughout the hot stove season, but Hunsicker and his troops could be in for a busy weekend at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville as they pursue solid pitching -- sans the high price tag -- while making important personnel decisions in the field.
     
  2. Jared Novak

    Jared Novak Contributing Member

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    Even though it seems impossible, I would love to see the Astros throw their hat in the ring for Colon or Vasquez, even if they come away empty-handed, to know they tried would speak volumes.

    Maybe they could come to an agreement with Mike Stanton, who I think the Yankees foolishly let go, he could definitely help shore up the bullpen.

    As for the speedy CF, there is one guy who I've been wanting in an Astros uniform, and his name is Carlos Beltran. He is a decent leadoff hitter and a good defensive outfielder. However, getting him is another story.

    Getting to read this article has brightened what so far has been a dismal offseason so far. Lets hope the Astros make some moves.
     
  3. rezdawg

    rezdawg Contributing Member

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    I just want there to be some activity. Thats all I want and it would make me feel a lot better. I have heard of every other team trying to make noise. I would love to go after one of the Expos pitchers.
     
  4. kidrock8

    kidrock8 Member

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    I would like to see a reinforced bullpen. I hope we could re-sign Flash, though I know he's looking for a closer role.
     
  5. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    Since we didn't go to arbitration with him we can't sign him until May 1, 2003.
     
  6. kidrock8

    kidrock8 Member

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    Do we need another righty? Other than Borbon (will he be back?) and Wags, what lefties do we have in the pen?
     
  7. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    Borbon will not be back. We will need both a lefty and a righty set up guy.
     
  8. Behad

    Behad Contributing Member

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    Anybody else think that this sounds like Wagner could be traded and Dotel take over the closer role?
     
  9. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Contributing Member
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    We can only hope.
     
  10. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    Dotel is right handed. Astros looking for right handed. I thought it sounded the exact opposite, but that doesn't make sense.
     
  11. BobFinn*

    BobFinn* Contributing Member

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    Doesn't sound like they are trying to trade Wags, but replace Gordon.
     
  12. PhiSlammaJamma

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    We can help your defense by getting a quality starter instead.
     
  13. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    I hope you mean 'good moves'.
     
  14. mrpaige

    mrpaige Contributing Member

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    Nah. Any move is okay. :)
     
  15. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    According to ESPN's Jayson Stark:

    So it looks like the Astros have thrown their name into the hat. We'll see what happens.
     
  16. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    Yeah, Drayton'll outbid them all!
     
  17. NIKEstrad

    NIKEstrad Contributing Member
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    I like Stanton. One of the best lefty relievers in all of baseball, IMO. However, I think the Yanks offered him 2.5 mill per year for 2 years, and he didn't want to accept that. Will Drayton pay 3 mill for a lefty reliever? Who knows.

    PS- That part about the right power arm did sound to me like they may turn Dotel into the closer. Acquiring Stanton to set up from the left side would definitely make Wagner a fairly expendable commodity.

    If Wagner can be moved for a quality need (ie, 3B, CF, maybe SS), I wouldn't be opposed to signing Stanton, and using Redding as the righty set up man.

    Miller-Oswalt-Reynolds-Hernandez-Saarloos, with bullpen featuring Dotel, Stanton, Redding, plus guys like Lidge, Stone, Linebrink, and probably whatever similarly disgruntled middle reliever we get for Cruz. The rotation has questions at the bottom though, but a 4th or 5th starter wouuldn't be too hard to find.
     
  18. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    The questions in the rotation are whether Reynolds and Hernandez will be able to stay healthy.

    We still have Munro who can do in a pinch though.
     
  19. BobFinn*

    BobFinn* Contributing Member

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    I don't understand this trading Wags talk. We had an incredible record last season when taking leads into the 7th inning of games. The reason for bringing in a left handed set up guy is to give Wags an occasional rest and allow Dotel to close some games. Our starters only have to go 7 innings!!!

    However, if it takes trading Wags to get a better than average centerfielder who can hit leadoff, then I am all for it. I just don't see any available.
     
  20. VesceySux

    VesceySux Contributing Member

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    Barring a miracle, Stanton is NOT coming to Houston. Here's why...


    Stanton is trying all avenues to Shea

    The prospects for the Mets signing free agent Mike Stanton are looking very favorable. The former Yankees reliever would like to stay in New York and he is willing to backload his contract so the Mets could bring him aboard.

    According to Mets sources, the club has begun negotiations with Stanton's agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, and have discussed some creative ways to make a contract palatable to both sides.

    The Mets Saturday cut loose lefthanded reliever Mark Guthrie by not offering him salary arbitration. They want to replace him with a quality pitcher, "but something that would be in the $1.5 million range during the 2003 season," the source said. "They're willing to work with (those parameters) to work it out."

    Stanton was offered a two-year contract by the Yankees for between $4.6 million and $5 million - an annual salary lower than the $2.6 million he made in 2002 - and turned it down. The deal with the Mets is thought to be a three-year arrangement that would pay in excess of $3 million the last two years.

    "The Mets are definitely an intriguing possibility," said Stanton, who lives year-round in New Jersey. "My kids are in school here and when you live in a place six years, you get rooted."

    Several other clubs may vie for Stanton, including the Braves, but the Mets also may have an edge with Art Howe as manager.

    "I respect Art Howe a lot," Stanton said. "I followed him as a player when he was in Houston (where Stanton grew up) and I respect him as a manager. I think the A's will miss him a lot and the Mets made a great move getting him.

    "He's very quiet, very stand-up and obviously knows his baseball."
     

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