My Offseason In A Week
Running The Houston Astros
The baseball offseason, December in particular, is a very active time in baseball, with the annual winter meetings, trades, free agent signings and the like. This year, I was a part of an off season “winter meetings” which lasted a week during the Major League baseball playoffs in October.
Brian Joura, a friend and co-worker of mine when I worked for a summer on the night crew at Howe Sportsdata, enlisted myself and 28 other colleagues in and out of baseball assigning each a major league baseball organization in an effort to conduct the baseball off season in a week…..establish a roster (we were each given a payroll), sign or reject arbitration eligible players, sign free agents, make trades, basically anything a general manager does during these crucial months and condense it into one week.
First a little background on how our “commissioner” (also the decision maker for the Indians during this project) came to choose me as one of the pseudo GM’s for this. I worked with Brian Joura (who currently runs the Mets360 website) during the summer of 1994 at Howe Sportsdata in Boston. Howe was at the time the official statistician for minor league baseball. We both worked on the night crew, inputting official scorers forms to compile the daily statistics which were sent out to each club . This was all pre-internet, and for the most part, our down time (we worked 10pm to 6am) consisted of reading the AP wire and discussing what trades should be made. (Oh, and bowling in the hallway with a plastic bowling set…..sometimes it took forever for those last West Coast games to be faxed in)
Anyway, it was an interesting summer in Boston to say the least, the final summer of the ill-fated Butch Hobson era, the baseball strike, the World Cup games in Foxboro (one morning I ran into a bewildered Hakeem Olajuwon in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel as he was trying to find the Nigerian World Cup team), the Green Day riot and lots and lots of nights of not enough sleep and many baseball stats. I lived that summer on coffee and free Snickers bars from the World Cup trade show. My co-workers were tremendous people who I am lucky enough to still be in contact with via Facebook and the occasional in-person reunion.
When Brian asked me to contribute to this “offseason in a week” project, the two stipulations were that one of the Mets360 writers would get the Mets as his club, and since there were several Red Sox fans and employees involved, that the Red Sox selection would be drawn out of a hat. Well, with those options exhausted, I had no real preference, however I requested the Astros for several reasons. I do follow them a bit and am familiar with their prospects, and with a small payroll I thought it would be interesting to see how I could tweak the roster while staying under budget.
My first day, I prepared a spreadsheet with what would be Houston’s 25 man roster if opening day 2015 came and no moves had been made. Then I listed possible players from the Astros minor league system who I could choose from to boslter the existing roster. I decided against signing any of the potential Houston free agents, and we were asked to accept or reject the arbitration eligible players. I rejected Alex Presley and Carlos Corporan, the latter causing me to need a backup catcher to Jason Castro who can also start a number of games. I originally penciled in Max Stassi for that role, however on day 3 the Mets came calling.
One of the really enjoyable aspects of the MLB Project, as it was called, was receiving numerous emails, like press releases each day listing the various trades and free agent signings. On this day the Mets offered me the only deal which made sense for my payroll. I accepted, and traded Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, and two million dollars of Astros Monopoly money for Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee and Anthony Recker, thereby solving my catching dilemma. Of course, I had to give raises to all three, but still fit neatly under our payroll cap. My big free agent signing was a pitcher who wasn’t offered arbitration (in our world) who I watched each night put up incredible postseason numbers, Yusmeiro Petit.
The MLB Project was great fun and really put some interesting ideas out on the table as far as how clubs are run versus how people think they should be run.
For the actual article, go to Mets360.com.