12/11/09 10:13 PM EST
Feliz seeks return to playoffs in Houston
Astros' third baseman: 'I'm always thinking about winning'
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
"I think they've got a great team, and I think it's a great opportunity for me to go there and have a chance to get to the World Series," said Feliz, who talked to the media via conference call Friday, one day after signing a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Astros.
Feliz joins the Astros a day after they traded three Minor Leaguers to the Florida Marlins for reliever Matt Lindstrom and reached a contract agreement with reliever Brandon Lyon, a deal that could be announced as soon as Saturday.
Feliz spent the first eight years of his career with the San Francisco Giants and is a career .254 hitter with 135 homers and 558 RBIs. Known more for his defense, Feliz will allow the Astros to move switch-hitter Geoff Blum around the infield in what general manager Ed Wade calls a "super utility" role.
"We think Pedro brings a lot of different elements to our club," Wade said. "Before we talk about the offensive side of his game, his defense has always been very solid. We certainly think with him and Blum, our defense is in pretty good shape at third base."
Feliz hit .266 with 12 homers and 82 RBIs in 158 games last year for Philadelphia. A right-handed hitter, he's a career .301 hitter with five homers and 18 RBIs in 25 games at Minute Maid Park.
"I'm going to give 100 percent and leave everything I have on the field," Feliz said. "In my mind, I'm always thinking about winning, and that's the main point for me. I think the Astros have potential, have good players. It's a great team and a great opportunity."
Feliz has hit primarily seventh in his career and will likely hit sixth or seventh in manager Brad Mills' batting order. Last season, he hit .293 prior to the All-Star break and .236 in the second half of the season.
"He knocked in 80-plus runs last year, which is fairly standard for him, he hits well with runners in scoring position and is durable," Wade said. "He started 150 games at third place [last season] and played in 155 games. In our environment with Geoff here, we have a chance to give him rest from time to time and keep him sharp.
"He struggled down the stretch in August and September, and a lot of that seemed to be workload related. We can pick and choose our spots to give him rest and keep him fresh." When it comes to playing time, Feliz has is eye on more than 162 games.
"I would like to play 162 plus the playoffs," he said. "We've just got to see. I'm going to be ready for every game. I'm going to be there to cheer for the team and do my best to win games."
With the addition of Lindstrom, Lyon and Feliz, the Astros are pretty much done adding key pieces. They still need to find fourth and fifth outfielders, and Wade said there's still some payroll flexibility to make a run at a player to help in other areas.
Saturday is the non-tender deadline, and the Astros will be watching closely which players don't get tendered a contract. As it stands, it appears Houston's payroll will be about $95 million heading into next season, down from $107 million last season.
"We're always going to explore ways to improve the club overall," Wade said. "We could move one piece where have we have depth to bring us a piece in another area that would be sensible. We've got some irons in the fire on that right now."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.