A few baseball nuggets:
Odalis Perez has agreed to re-sign with the Dodgers for 3 years / 24 million. Damn! If we could have had him for 4 / 32 or 3 / 27, I think we should have done it. Tip of the cap to Paul DePodesta. Here are a few players he's signed this offseason: Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, and Odalis Perez. I'm still amazed he couldn't beat the Mariners' 5 year / 65 million offer for Beltre, but oh well.
So there goes the last good free agent starting pitcher on the market. So I guess it's time to look inwards for our starting five. I'm going to assume the No Beltran / No Clemens route, so as of right now the only sure things are Roy Oswalt (still hasn't accepted arbitration, actually) / Andy Pettitte / Brandon Backe. Then we got the usual suspects: Redding, Hernandez, Munro, Duckworth, Astacio, D.J. Houlton. I'll assume we won't throw the AA guys (Astacio and Houlton) straight into the mix, so pick 2 from the front 4. I have a icky feeling Munro will absolutely be one of them, and I'd give Redding one last chance and stick Hernandez in the middle relief role in the bullpen. So that leaves us with Oswalt / Pettitte / Backe / Redding / Munro. Get excited!! Man, there's a lot that could go wrong there. Pettitte might not be completely healthy. Backe might not be that good. Redding might repeat 2004. Munro might realize he's Pete Munro. I don't know. But there's a lot that could go wrong, and even the best-case scenario has that as an average starting five.
Purpura and McLane, it's time to realize that it's rebuilding time. Don't think of that as a failure - just recognize that the next great Astros team should be built around Oswalt / Berkman / Lane / Burke / Lidge, etc., and not Bagwell / Biggio / Pettitte.
Rebuilding for the next year or two could be pretty exciting - you get to see which of the young players stick in the big leagues (Ensberg circa 2003 or 2004? Can Lane do it? Chris Burke? Adam Everett = 340 OBP? Which pitching prospects will make it? Can Carlos Hernandez get his velocity back? How will the young bullpen do?)
Rebuilding is NOT a failure. But it can be a failure to not recognize that it's time to rebuild.
Sign Berkman and Oswalt to 4 year deals and move on. End of story.