Good points about Pupura needing to recognize the need for rebuilding. But why can't we compete in the meantime? I don't think our situation right now is half bad. Sure, we're relying on a few things that are anything but certain (Pettitte's elbow, Berkman's rehab, Roger's willingness to play, Burke's transition to the majors, Lane's transition to everyday outfielder, Backe's workload, Bagwell's new stance, Lidge's overall health, a centerfielder, Biggio's fight against Father Time, Purpura's ability to run a team, Adam Everett's ability OBP, Garner's consistency). Okay, that's a LOT of question marks. But you never know...
The thing is... we can't really start to rebuild until Bagwell's and Pettitte's contracts are up. They're both gone after 2006. And in the meantime, Oswalt, Berkman, Burke, Lidge, Backe, Ensberg and Lane are good young players who will be peaking together in the next 2-4 years.
"Rebuilding" means giving young players lots of playing time and 3- to 4-year contracts, å la Oakland and Cleveland. We can do this (Lane, AE, Ensberg, Burke qualify as young...) and still compete. So we'll be giving our nucleus of the future plenty of playing time. If we can sign them to multi-year deals and make intelligent, informed decisions (I sound like a Bush Cabinet member, huh?) we'l be just fine as we transition toward the post-Killer B era.
Also, do we have any big names we can trade for some young talent? Say, if we're under .500 right before the trade deadline... do we try and pull a Cleveland by trading our star? Do we trade Bagwell or Pettitte? Biggio? Berkman?!?! Oswalt?!?!?! I hope not. But how else are we supposed to get goo prospects?
My thoughts on the Beltran thing: From what I've read, Boras is a big huge dick. Apparently he called McLane at 9 a.m. or thereabouts on Jan. 8. After a brief discussion, Boras says, "I'll call you back." He does so... at 9 p.m. CST, a mere two hours before our 11 p.m. deadline. He now wants an eighth year and a no-trade clause, among other demands. This gives our guys less that two hours to discuss and decide. We can't get it done.
I don't blame McLane or Purpura or, really, Beltran. I blame Scott Boras. I truly believe that Beltran enjoyed his time in Houston, and would have been happy to play for the Astros for the next few years. But Boras convinced him to go for the money.
Disirregardless, Beltran was not worth more than $15 million per year. That's what I've decided. It was much easier in hindsight, but despite all his talents, an annual $15 million paycheck would have hurt us in the long run.
As far as the mission for our next centerfielder: I also like Cameron and Byrd. Burnitz ain't that great. Neither is Laynce Nix. And I'm fairly certain Lew Ford had the best year he will ever have. We absolutely cannot have Lane or Biggio in center. Keep up the trade talks with JCJr. Do not give in to their request of Lane. Offer... Redding? Lamb and Duckworth?
We'll see. Five weeks til pitchers and catchers....