Operation: Center Fielder.
The Astros don't have one. Even after Lance Berkman comes back, our only two 'locks' in the outfield are Berkman and Lane, and neither one can play a good defensive center field (to his credit, Berkman did play CF for a while, and didn't embarrass himself, but that was a few years ago). So: what do we do?
Option 1: Trade for one. I've heard Randy Winn's name bandied about, Mike Cameron isn't nearly as valuable to the Mets in RF as he would be to us in CF, and the Phillies have some extra OF's (Marlon Byrd, notably), and the Twins have Lew Ford (Stewart, Hunter and Jones are already there). Out of all those options, I wanted Mike Cameron the most last offseason, and I want him the most right now. He signed a reasonable contract last year, so we wouldn't be overpaying, he still plays a bitchin' CF (2.74 Range Factor, compared to a league average of 2.36), and he had somewhat a down year, so the Mets might be looking to trade him. What did he do in his 'down' year (where he was constantly suffering from a thumb injury)? 231 / 319 / 479 with 30 HR's and 57 BB in 493 AB, good for a 798 OPS in a pitcher's park. The Mets really need a 1B, and though I don't see us trading Bagwell, maybe an offer of Todd Self plus Tim Redding plus D.J. Houlton does the trick.
Option 2: Promote from within. Orlando Palmerio is too old. Willy Taveras is too young (and not that good). I can't think of anyone else. Lane would be badly stretched in CF. Just 'cause he used to be a defensive replacement for Biggio when Craig played CF does not mean Lane should play CF. It just means he was better than Biggio, which is damning with faint praise if I've ever heard it.
I choose Option 1. It's a tricky option, really, because the Astros probably aren't going to compete in 2005 and maybe not in 2006, so we don't necessarily want to trade for an older guy since we're rebuilding. But Cameron is only 31 and damn good, so unless we can get Byrd or Lew Ford or Laynce Nix cheap, I say go after him.
For some reason, there are lots of rumors that the Astros will try and work a trade for Alfonso Soriano. Why??? Unless they intend to move him to center, which Soriano has said he does not want to do, we have a guy named Chris Burke and an aging veteran in Craig Biggio that will fit in fine at 2B. The last thing we need is an overpaid, no-walking guy (124 BB in 2618 career ABs) like Soriano. Stay away from him, please.
I broke my cell phone the other day, and I had to file a claim with Verizon's insurance company, so I might be out of a phone for a few days. So you'll have to e-mail me if you want to tell me how stupid my ideas are.