Clemens won't sign unless Beltran signs. Beltran won't sign unless Berkman and Oswalt signs. And Ausmus ain't going anywhere. One thing's for certain: the next month will be critical for the next few years of the franchise.
Is it too early to start discussing long-term deals with Oswalt and Berkman? Berkman said in the paper recently that he's a little pissed that management hasn't contacted him at all this offseason. That's understandable.
I still think that Berkman and Oswalt are the key to the Astros' succes in the next few years. Oswalt is amazing, and no longer an injury concern. And no offense to Beltran, but Berkman is the better slugger. Their career stats:
Berkman: 2683 AB, .303, .416, .563 (.980!), 156 HR, 535 RBI
Beltran: 3467 AB, .284, .353, .490 (.844), 146 HR, 569 RBI
Notice I didn't say Berkman is the better baseball player. Beltran can win games with his defense and his baserunning abilities. Berkman eats jelly donuts.
But the fact of the matter is this: If we focus on Beltran too much, we may piss the heck out of Berkman regardless of whether or not we land Beltran. I don't know. I just want them to be together... forever...
Enough reality. Let's dream for a second. DISCLAIMER: None of these players will be an Astro in 2005. I'm not saying we could or even should sign these players. Just think. Open your mind. There is no spoon.
Derek Lowe. If Rocket doesn't sign, our pitching staff is going to be a wee bit shaky in 2005. We'll have Oswalt and Backe for sure (and don't try to tell me Backe has to fight to earn his spot... eight innings of one-hit ball against THE CARDINALS is proof enough for me). Then we got Pettitte and Miller, but those guys are anything but dependable. The last line of defense is the old Redding/Hernandez/Duckworth quagmire, and I don't want to touch any of those guys. Lowe is a sinkerball pitcher, and our infield (i.e. Everett) will help him out. If he does sign, let's hope it's the 2002, 21-win, no-hitter Derek Lowe. Or the 2004 win-all-three-deciding-games-in-the-playoffs Derek Lowe. Not what happened in-between. Downside: two words. Scott Boras.
Moises Alou. Yeah!!! Why not? And don't tell me, "Because he's 38 and wants a two-year deal and he can barely bend his knees in that weird stance anymore and if he ever tries to catch a fly ball, his body will shatter into a million pieces like that cup in The Usual Suspects." Just don't. You'd be wasting your breath. I already know. Oh yeah, he pisses on his hands. I've tried this. No luck.
A.J. Pierzynski. Career averages: .294, .336, .438. Ausmus' last four years average in Houston: .240, .305, .330. Not much to say here. Actually, Pierzynski isn't the greatest. Apparently he had more HBPs than unintentional walks last year. For the second year in a row. Wowee wow wow. Then again, anything looks good next to the horror that is Brad Ausmus. It's like putting some small, innocent puppy next to Barstool. That puppy... well, it just doesn't make the cut. Not against Barstool.
Jose Cruz Junior. The Cruzes are reunited! Cruz would fill Berkman's void for the first month or so. And once everyone sees his .350 OBP, we might have a Lane-Cruz platoon going when the fat man returns. I've heard speculation that we're offering Lamb for Cruz. I'd be in favor of this. Enough babying for Ensberg. Someone needs to slap him upside his nerdy little face and say, "No more pussy-footin' around, little boy! Time to do the nasty!" Well, you get my jist. Get ridda Lamb while he's got some value. Make the D-Rays pick up a million of Cruz's $4 million paycheck, and we got ourselves a deal. May we never see Orlando Palmeiro again.
Jeremy Burnitz. An alternative should Steiny wake up one day and find like $200 million in his jeans pocket. But in case you forgot where he played last year, allow me to remind you: the moon. His home and away stats:
Moon: .322, .386, .670 (1.057)
Not Moon: .244, .327, .488 (.775)
You know who's better than that? Mr. Twenty-eight-year-old-on-Dec.-22 Jason Lane. Happy b-day slash Christmas buddy. I wonder what was on his wish list this year. Maybe, 400 ABs??? Anyone???
Brad Fullmer. He creamed the ball in Anaheim (.888 OPS in 2002 and 2003), but always gets hurt. I say he'd be a perfect fit for us! By the time his knee falls off, Berkman will be ready to go! Yay!
Orlando Hernandez. Do it. Let's continue our rotation of old Yankee pitchers. While we're at it, let's nab David Cone.
Steve Kline. I'm serious about this one. He'd probably command a two-year deal, but he'd be worth it. Besides, what was our one weakness this October? Dan Miceli. Oh man. Still gives me nightmares. But now that he's off folding orgami, we got room for this guy. Bring him over.
Jim Mecir. I hear his hand is deformed. Cool. I've always wanted a screwball pitcher on my team.
Jeff Nelson. Again, bullpen help. Plus, he looks EXACTLY like Jeff Kent. Just tell him to say things like, "Well, sir, I'm thinkin' ma truck needs a scrub," and you'll never know the difference.
Oh yeah, and there's also Delgado, Clement, Drew, Millwood, Nomo, Magglio and JOSE LIMA! We must! Casa Ole! Fresh Today!