Friday, December 12, 2008

Decisions, Decisions for the Astros re: Ty Wiggington and Brandon Backe

Tonight is the deadline for teams to tender contract offers to arbitration eligible players, and the Houston Astros have not hidden the fact that dumping a lot of payroll is on their horizon. The Grocer Drayton McLane has made it priority one for the Astros, which brings us to Brandon Backe and Ty Wiggington.

The Houston Astros had hoped during the Winter Meetings to move Ty Wiggington and his arbitration eligible self. This was not a decision based on baseball alone, as Wiggington showed himself to be a pretty decent 3B toward the end of the 2008 season, and also showed the power that the Astros thought they had gotten when they traded with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for him in exchange for setup man Dave Wheeler. Although it was criticized at the time due to Wiggington's questionable glove, he showed himself at least able to field the position during the year. Now it looks like that good play will make him likely win an arbitration award of about $7 million a year at a time where the Grocer is looking to put everything in Aisle Three on sale, not that the Astros have a major league caliber certainty at the hot corner waiting in the wings. This is simply The Grocer looking at the payroll and the advanced ticket/luxury box sales, not a decision anyone in the organization wants.

Brandon Backe is the enigma, but the numbers game may keep him on the roster. He, too, is arbitration eligible, but he really has not returned to his pre-injury form and has been a spotty right handed starter, at best. He's a great athlete, and you figure he might be able to do more with a little more distance from the injury, but you just never know. Either way, he's under contract, has some years of service, and may be non-tendered just because what he gives you you could probably get cheaper elsewhere. I project Backe, even if signed, may end up as a middle reliever. Which is saying alot, given how little the Astros have as starting pitching even assuming Mike Hampton lives up to his contract value and incentives.

But tonight is the night. We'll see where it goes...should be interesting.

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