As promised, here is my ideal, yet realistic 2007 Astros roster that would have a good shot at winning the NL Central and doing well in the playoffs.
The Keepers: These players are signed through the 2007 season:
Lance Berkman at $14.5 million, Roy Oswalt at $13 million, Brad Ausmus at $3.5 million, Trever Miller at $1.3 million, Orlando Palmeiro at $950,000.
I would also bring back the following players still under club control for one year–Brad Lidge at $4.25 million, Adam Everett at $2.25 million, Mike Lamb at $2.25 million, Dan Wheeler at $1.5 million, Russ Springer at $1 million, Willy Taveras at $500,000, Chad Qualls at $400,000, Eric Bruntlett for $375,000, Eric Munson for $327,000, Chris Burke at $400,000, Fernando Nieve for $327,000, Joe Borkowski for $327,000 Chris Sampson for $335,000, Luke Scott for $350,000. Adding in Jeff Bagwell’s $7 million buy-out, the Astros have a little over $53.5 million committed.
The free agents: I would sign Andy Pettitte to a 2 year contract for around $16 million, Craig Biggio for 1 year at $4.5 million, Aubrey Huff for 2 years, $14 million, Alfonso Soriano for 5 years, $65 million, Woody Williams for 2 years at $9 million bringing the estimated payroll to just over $90.5 million. Roger Clemens for one more half season would add $13 million to the final payroll. If Clemens does rejoin the club mid-season, I’d send either Sampson or Nieve to AAA. If I couldn’t sign Soriano, I’d take Carlos Lee at 5 years, $60 million.
Traded: Lane ($450,000), Ensberg ($3.8 million) and Buchholz ($327,000) for a veteran starter.
Back To The Minors: In my opinion, based on what I saw of them during the season, I would keep Wandy Rodriguez, Jason Hirsh, and Matt Albers in Round Rock for most of the 2007 season barring emergency call ups.
On The DL: Backe should be spending the entire season on the DL and therefore, his salary should be paid from the injury-insurance policy.
My Opening Day 2007 Roster:
Taveras – CF
Sorianno – LF
Berkman – 1B
Scott – RF
Huff – 3B
Biggio – 2B
Everett – SS
Ausmus – C
Oswalt – SP
Rotation: Pettitte, Veteran Starter via trade, Williams, Sampson (if Clemens rejoins mid-season, Sampson goes to bullpen or AAA)
Bench: Palmeiro, Lamb, Bruntlett, Burke, Munson
Bullpen: Lidge (Closer), Wheeler (Setup), Qualls (7th inning), Miller (Lefty specialist), Springer (6th inning) Nieve and Borkowski (long relief)