Monday, January 12, 2004

Well, thanks to the Packers defense allowing the Eagles to convert on 4th and 26, I went 0-4 this past weekend with my football playoff predictions. This teaches me one important thing: I should never, ever, bet on sports games. Ever.

All the games were pretty close, leading me to think that football (unlike basketball and baseball) really does have the competitive balance thing down pretty well. Anyone think the Panthers and Packers would meet in the NFC Championship Game at the beginning of the year? Anyone? Well, I didn't.

The big Astros news today (press conference at 2pm) is that Houston has signed Roger Clemens to a one-year deal worth 5 million. I've heard the 'Stros will try to let Clemens make most of his starts at home, in front of his family and friends. This is, in my opinion, an excellent deal for the Astros: 1) Clemens will practically pay for himself. He's a local, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and probably the best pitcher in the modern (post-WWII) era. The fans should come in droves to see him pitch. 2) Clemens is, however, 41 years old. Exercising the caution that the Astros apparently were unwilling to use with Brad Ausmus, signing older players to one-year deals is smart. But Clemens isn't your run-of-the-mill 41 year old. He's never missed significant time due to injury, he's in great shape, and he struck out 190 batters in 211.2 innings last year. In fact, don't just take my word for it - go to his career stats page and look in awe. Roger Clemens has been an amazingly good, amazingly durable pitcher for nearly as long as I've been alive. I really can't believe the Astros will have 2/5 of the 2003 Yankees starting rotation in 2004. It's insane. Here are your 2004 Astros starting pitchers, with 2003 IP, ERA, and K's:

1. Roy Oswalt (127.2, 2.97, 108)
2. Roger Clemens (211.2, 3.91, 190)
3. Andy Pettitte (208.1, 4.02, 180)
4. Wade Miller (187.1, 4.13, 161)
5. Tim Redding (176, 3.68, 116)

That rotation scares me. It should scare any non-Astro hitter in the National League. That is an absolutely dominant, better than the Cubs, better than the Red Sox, better than the A's starting rotation.

The bad news? Ummmm...sorry, Carlos Hernandez, Brandon Duckworth, and Jeriome Roberston - have a seat in the bullpen or AAA, 'cause we just signed the best pitcher of the last thirty years.

If the Astros can get a decent bench soon (which could be easily accomplished by siging a backup IF and a backup C), they may well run away with the National League next year.

It's a good day to be an Astros fan.

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