Daily Distractions: Astros already in the cellar, Kobayashi deal official, etc.

If there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there must be 50 more ways to put the Houston Astros’ paltry payroll in perspective.

Jed Lowrie recently signed a one-year, $2.4 million contract to become the team’s third-highest paid player (per Cots) and the fourth-highest if you include Phildelphia Phillies pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who’s still owed a team-high $5 million by the Astros this season. On Monday Lowrie was traded to Oakland for Chris Carter and two minor-leaguers.

Yahoo now calculates that 20 players will make more money in 2013 than the entire Houston team, including Vernon Wells. A large payroll is no guarantee of success and a small payroll is no guarantee of failure. But FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal writes that the question is not where Houston will finish in its new division, but rather how many games it will lose en route to securing the top overall draft pick for the third straight year.

Welcome to the American League West, boys.

Onto the links …

• The Angels officially announced a minor-league contract for right-handed reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi with an invite to major-league spring training.

Chris Carpenter is expected to miss the entire 2013 season and may be forced to retire due to a series of injuries. The 37-year-old was bothered by a nerve issue in his shoulder that limited him to five games last season. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Carpenter currently has health concerns in his right shoulder, arm and neck.

• If you’re an MLB.tv subscriber, you’ll want to check out the new, longer list of approved devices for 2013.

• Happy 79th birthday, Hank Aaron.

• Only a handful of MLB arbitration-eligible players remain unsigned. Here they are.

• The song “Scale It Back” by DJ Shadow feat. Little Dragon is one of the best and most-covered electronic tracks in recent memory. We know of at least 400 remixes, via an online contest that gave rise to these 15 tracks. Here’s my favorite submission that didn’t make the final cut:

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.