December 18, 2002

Houston hello!

Jeff Kent became a member of the Astros yesterday, putting an end to the Giants' efforts to team Barry Bonds with every quality second baseman in the entire world.

Kent signed a 2 year deal worth about $18 million bucks, which seems like a very good deal for the Astros and a somewhat confusing one from Kent's point of view.

He turned down a reported 3 year deal worth $24 million from San Francisco earlier.

If I was a 34 year old baseball player, I think I would take a 3 year deal worth $8 million a year over a 2 year deal worth $9 million a year and I don't think the decision would be all that difficult to make.

I really don't think Jeff Kent and his management are that dumb, so there is probably more to this than meets the eye.

I think there are two distinct possibilities:

1) Kent really did not like playing with the Giants.

2) The Giants negotiations with him upset Kent to the point that he took a shorter contract for almost the same amount per season.

I remember when I was a little kid and I wanted something, I would ask my mom for it and sometimes she would refuse to give it to me.

Whether it was a cookie or a new toy or whatever.

Being the little brat that I was, I would go in my room, close the door and pout for like 3 hours.

Sometimes my mom would come in later and decide to give me whatever I wanted.

I was so upset from earlier that I would usually refuse to take the thing I wanted in the first place.

I think that might be what happened with Kent and the Giants.

They offered him a contract that he did not feel was a good one, so he got upset.

He went in his room and pouted or, in his case, talked to other teams and got some other offers.

Then when the Giants finally decided to offer him a revised, multi-year deal, he told them he didn't want it and he took a deal that isn't as good from the Astros.

Kent leaving SF means the Giants offense will simply be very good and not spectacular next season.

And now the Astros have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in baseball, with Berkman, Bagwell and Kent.

Initially I heard that Kent would be moving to third base with Houston, but apparently those reports were false and Kent will be staying at second base, while Craig Biggio moves to left field.

The Astros have some good options at third base in Morgan Ensberg and Geoff Blum, so it is probably a good decision.

Craig Biggio is in a heavy decline at this point and could be one of the worst offensive left fielders in baseball next season, but he is under contract for quite a bit of money and he is one of the best Astros of all-time, so they don't have much choice but to find a spot for him.

His defense at 2B was getting pretty awful anyway, so maybe he can at least help prevent some runs in left field.

I read somewhere ( maybe?) that they might try to see if Biggio can handle center field.

Lots of luck with that.

His problem at second base was a lack of range because of knee injuries and a loss of lateral movement and quickness.

That is only going to be magnified in center field.

Although now that I think about it, how much worse out there could he be than Lance Berkman?

Back in November I compared the 3 available second basemen (Kent, Alfonzo and Durham) and concluded that Kent would cost the most, followed by Alfonzo and Durham and that considering all the factors, I would want Durham first, followed by Kent and Alfonzo.

Here is what they ended up signing for:

Jeff Kent = 2 years / $18.2 million

Edgardo Alfonzo = 4 years / $26 million

Ray Durham = 3 years / $20.1 million

I have to say, those 3 contracts are a lot closer in cost than I thought they would be and all of them are definitely reasonable.

Good signing for the Astros, as Kent will help them a lot of offense and will actually improve their infield defense too.

If Bagwell can bounce back to his pre-2002 level and Berkman continues to be the star that he is, they will score a ton of runs in 2003.

In other news...

Most of you are probably familar with John Sickels, the minor league baseball guru that writes for and has authored the "Minor League Scouting Notebook" for STATS Inc. the past seven years.

Sickels is one of my favorite baseball writers and I never miss one of his columns at and own every one of his books.

He knows more than anyone in the world about minor league prospects and he writes extremely interesting and often very humorous books and columns.

Anyway, STATS Inc. is under some new management and they decided to stop producing many of their annual baseball books, including Sickels' Minor League Scouting Notebook

But fear not fellow prospect nuts, John is coming out with a new and improved version of the book called "The Baseball Prospect Book."

Here is what what John had to say about his new venture:

Hello, everyone.

This is John Sickels of As most of you know by now,

STATS is no longer publishing the Minor League Scouting Notebook, which I'd

written for the past seven years. But I'm still going to publish for 2003. My

new book is called, simply, The Baseball Prospect Book. It will be very

similar in form and content to the old MLSN, except now I can function without

the constraints of corporate oversight.

The cost of the book is $19.95, plus $5 shipping and handling.

To order, send a check or money order to

John Sickels

Attn: BPB Order

PO Box 4066

Lawrence, KS 66046

Make check payable to John Sickels.


If you have email, feel free to include that too. I promise not to spam you,

but I will send you updates about the book, including an early Top 50/50 list

to help fantasy owners with drafts that happen before the book is published.

I will be sending out a check to John immediately and I encourage all of you to do the same.

It will be some of the best money you have ever spent in your life, you'll learn a ton about all the important (and not so important) minor leaguers and you will help support one of the best baseball writers around today.

Plus, I emailed John a while ago and gave him the links to my Baseball Primer articles.

He read them right away and even complimented me on them!

How can you not like someone that does that?

Speaking of good baseball writers...

My good buddy Joe Dimino has a new article posted on Baseball Primer.

Joe actually attended the Winter Meetings in Nashville last week and he files a report on the Rule 5 draft, including analysis of the picks and scouting reports on the players.

It is a good read and Joe is a good guy, so go check it out.

And finally...

"Hi Allard, this is Billy. I hear you might be shopping Carlos Beltran . . ."

Billy Beane - the man you hope your team's GM never takes calls from.

(Don't ask me why, but that picture just struck me as really funny for some reason)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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