Apparently Astros management wasn't as insulted by Clemens' 22 million proposal as I was, as today they agreed to a 1 year, 18 million dollar deal. I did mention that Clemens was a special case - he sells tickets, plain and simple. He's the most famous and probably best pitcher of our lifetime, can still bring it, I think that all his home starts were sell-outs last season, etc., etc.
18 million is still a lot of money, but honestly, how else are we gonna spend it? I guess we could lock up Berkman and Oswalt to long-term deals, but we might be able to lock up Berkman this year for 5/60 or something and then lock up Oswalt next year after Clemens leaves.
The fact is we are a MUCH better team with Clemens than without, so I can't really say anything bad about this signing. Oswalt / Pettitte / Clemens / Backe / Redding or Munro or Hernandez is a huge step up from any rotation without Clemens. Will this be the year he ages? I doubt it; the guy is still in tremendous shape and you can't really argue with 18-4, 2.89 ERA, 218K's from last year.
My main concern is where we go from here. If we just call this offseason done with, I'm still pretty worried. I think the Astros are still a bit of a longshot to make the playoffs, and we're an old team (Clemens, Biggio, Bagwell, Pettitte, Ausmus), so we need to recognize we have to look towards the future. So we should at least consider signing Berkman or Oswalt to long-term deals.
I mentioned Leskanic as a bullpen candidate, and I stand by him, but I also think Jeff Nelson would be a nice pickup. I think the Cubs are likely to feature a 2-5 of Garciaparra / Sosa / Ramirez / Lee, and Nelson is death (absolute death) against righties. He'd be worth his 1.5 million or whatever just from pitching against the Cubs and Pujols and Rolen.