Astros: Second Prize Is A Set Of Steak Knives

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I swear, the sense of desperation with the Astros and their desire for a Mariano Rivera-type reliever has me believing that Drayton thinks that Alec Baldwin speech in Glengarry Glen Ross is "always buy closers," not "always be closing."

It's like he and his staff are afraid that Mitch and Murray are going to cut off their coffee supply if they don't have some certified ace that closes out every game. And it's rather pathetic.

Drayton, your team sucks. It doesn't matter who the closer is because he's not going to pitch much, and his ability to close, or not close, isn't going to matter because the team isn't going to be anywhere near playoff competition.

The Astros said goodbye to some big salary commitments this week when Jose Valverde declined the team's offer of arbitration and when LaTroy Hawkins took a head-scratching two-year offer from the Milwaukee Brewers (head-scratching in that Milwaukee offered him a two-year deal). That, coupled with the probable departure of free agent Miguel Tejada, meant Drayton and the Astros might have a bit of payroll flexibility that could be used in an attempt to patch some of the many holes with the team.

Personally, I would have used that money to shore up the farm system. Spend on some draft picks in this summer's amateur draft. See what can be found in Asia or Latin America. Try and get this team some talent for the future.

If not that, maybe it could have been used to help out the team's bench depth or maybe to help plug a hole in the rotation. (The Astros decided to waste some money on Pedro Feliz to play third, which makes sense only in that the Astros needed another so-so fielder at third who can't hit, a la Geoff Blum.)

But that's what I would have done. Drayton decided that it was better to Always be Buying Closers.

So he went out traded for Matt Lindstrom from the Marlins. Lindstrom started last season as the closer for the Marlins, but then he suffered arm issues, spent time on the DL, and lost his job as closer -- sounds like a perfect addition to a Houston bullpen that was devastated by Cecil Cooper-induced injuries last season.

Drayton didn't stop there, however, and he went out and spent $15 million (over three years) for middle reliever Brandon Lyon who spent last season with the Detroit Tigers. Lyon has closed in the past, particularly for the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he lost the job to Jose Valverde (due to an injury) and to Chad Qualls (because of general suckitude).

It's Drayton's money, and he can spend it out he chooses. But I just don't understand the team's fascination with having a closer. A closer is not needed on a team that doesn't have leads to protect. And the Astros rotation doesn't provide very many leads to hand over to a closer.

The Astros go into the 2010 season hoping that Roy Oswalt is going to return to his pre-Cecil Cooper form. Then there's that hope that Wandy Rodriguez's 2009 season wasn't a fluke, that Bud Norris will improve upon his rookie season and will be able to pitch a complete season without injury.

Then there's Brian Moehler. And I don't know who they're planning for the fifth spot in the rotation. This isn't the type of rotation that's going to leave many leads to be protected by an eighth-inning set-up guy and a closer.

Who knows, maybe wasting some money on the closer will allow the Astros to get closer to 80 wins next season than 70, but unless a team is in contention for the playoffs where every game, every inning counts, then a closer is just a waste of money.

Even then, as the Atlanta Braves showed in the `90s, a team with a good rotation can make and win a World Series without a closer. But the Astros don't have a good rotation, which means that Drayton's just wasting money on something that the team really doesn't need.

The good news though as that, so far, he hasn't wasted any money on any more players like Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui. So that's something to be for which to be thankful.

I guess.

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