A lot of important stuff indeed. First, a few reaction to some of your summaries, Andy...
I agree with you about Jeff Kent - he's a good player, but probably not worth 17 million over the next two years. The key here is that we have options - either Lane or Burke is now almost guaranteed plenty of playing time. The Astros are in a unique situation in that we're in between rebuilding and contending. Part of me wants to go for it all while we still have Biggio and Bagwell, and if you do that, you might keep Kent. But at the same time, you have to look towards the future at some point.
The only thing that concerns me is that Beltran has reportedly requested that the Astros re-sigm Berkman, Oswalt, Everett (?), and Kent if they want him to sign. But then again, not signing Kent allows us to offer more money to Beltran. I've read that we've offered him 6/81, which I think is absolutely reasonable, but I think it'll take more. Maybe 7/100?
Taking Pettitte and Clemens at once: Pettitte is not an elite pitcher, but we absolutely need him healthy. We really don't have any great minor league options and the free agent market is pretty awful. Best case: Oswalt Pettitte Miller Clemens Backe. More likely: Oswalt Pettitte Miller Backe Hernandez/Duckworth/Redding. I think Clemens is done, and I don't think he 'owes' anyone another year.
On to your free-agent signings:
Troy Glaus to the D-Backs, 4 years, 45 million. Ridiculously bad. The D-Backs have Hillenbrand and Tracy at 1st and 3rd, respectively, and both are decent, so why risk 45 million on an oft-injured player that can only play 1st or 3rd. He might be worth it if he's healthy, but this is not what the D-Backs need.
Brad Radke to the Twins (two years, $18 million). Third best pitcher in the AL right here. Schilling, Pedro, Santana, Hudson. Which two of those guys is Radke better than? I could probably throw in Mulder and Halladay for guys I'd rather have next year. Not to say that Radke is bad, (he's constantly underrated), but I don't know about 9 mil / year.
Check out baseballprimer.com sometime to see ZIPS (basically a formula that predicts performance based on age, comparables, etc.) predictions for Astros next year.
Of particular note:
Chris Burke: 284 / 352 / 401, 10 HR, 52 BB, 25 SB. I like. If he does this well (or even fairly close to this) I'll be really happy we let Kent go.
Morgan Ensberg: 279 / 356 / 437, 14 HR, 48 BB. Apparently ZIPS thinks 2003 wasn't a total fluke for Ensberg. This includes Lamb getting plenty of AB's also. I've come around to thinking we should still go for a semi-platoon of Ensberg and Lamb, with the odd one out getting plenty of PH AB's.
Mike Lamb: 277 / 355 / 446, 11 HR, 37 BB. Good thing they can't predict defense - Lamb is still pretty bad defensively. I wouldn't want him playing 3rd when Pettitte, a lefty ground-ball pitcher, is going. But he can still rake, especially against fastball pitchers. You can't throw a fastball past this guy.
Lance Berkman, 306 / 436 / 551, 31 HR, 124 BB. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Get well soon.
Craig Biggio, 245 / 310 / 384, 14 HR, 40 BB. Yikes!! Is that prediction is anywhere close to what Biggio does, we should probably let him be Super Utility Man and let Burke and Lane play.
Jason Lane, 280 / 345 / 470, 12 HR, 32 BB. Let him play. He has a weird looking swing, bats righty despite throwing lefty...I don't care. Let him play.
Oh, quick note: Mike Coolbaugh, my 3rd baseman of the future? He's 33. Oops. Still had a big year, though.
Carlos Beltran (if signed): 278 / 373 / 527, 34 HR, 89 BB, 38 SB. An even 900 OPS, good power, good defense, the best stolen base percentage ever, and (maybe most importantly) no injury concerns at all.
Pitching next time. Long story short:
They don't think Brandon Backe is as good as he looked.
They like Ezequiel Astacio (25 year old prospect.)
Oh Lidge. Oh behbeh.
They like Munro????
More to come later.