A quick Tim Purpura quote:
Astros general manager Tim Purpura hasn't ruled out Burnitz, 35, but he said the club has other priorities.
"We've been pursuing a lot of other possibilities, and that's been on the backburner for us," Purpura said. "We're going to move at a pace that works for us, and I've had a lot of other conversations throughout the week that have a little bit more interest for us.
I approve. This is the way to solve the CF problem; don't just latch onto Burnitz, but talk to Seattle about Randy Winn, to Tampa about Jose Cruz Jr., to the Mets about Mike Cameron, to the A's about Eric Byrnes, and see what you like the best. Other than that, I wonder what 'other possibilities' we could be pursuing. Regardless, I like the action.
I forgot to make a note that the Astros signed Turk Wendell and Dave Burba to minor league deals and both will be invited to spring training. I don't really like Turk Wendell, even if he does have a shark necklace, but I like taking a flyer on Burba. He's put up ERA+'s of 93, 124, and 99 the last 3 years, his strikeout rates are still good, and he'll come cheap. Let me put it this way: he's better than Pete Munro.
One other thing that has been on my mind is this: Purpura has said in the last week or so that he wants to sign Berkman to a long-term deal, and he's more concerned with signing Berkman than Oswalt.
This is a dangerous position. (Note: I know we have one more year of arbitration with Oswalt and that Berkman will be a FA after this year, but bear with me.) Not that Lance Berkman isn't an incredibly valuable player. But if I had to choose one to give a 5 year / 60 million dollar deal to (and I hope Purpura can choose both), it would be Oswalt.
1. Berkman will be 29 on Opening Day 2005. Oswalt will be 27.
2. Some of Berkman's most 'similar' hitters at his age, according to baseball-reference, are Tim Salmon, Albert Belle, and Mo Vaughn. These guys all have something in common: they all declined a lot after their 29th birthday. They were still good players, but not superstars. In addition, Berkman eventually projects to replace Bagwell at 1B, which is a position where you can pick someone off the minor league scrap heap and expect a decent year. Put this way: if you had to choose between a 950 OPS at 1B or a 3.00 ERA over 200 innings, there is no doubt in my mind that the 3.00 ERA over 200 innings is more valuable. Oswalt's most 'similar' pitchers at his age include Mike Mussina and David Cone (and Tim Hudson), who both remained effective pitchers well into their 30's. Oswalt might be more of an injury risk now, but Berkman projects to be a bigger injury risk in the future. He should retain his batting eye, but he's losing power, and he loses a bit of bat speed, watch out.
3. Berkman's SLG% over the last 4 years: 620, 578, 515, 566. Extra base hits: 94, 79, 66, 73. He definitely had a nice year in '04, but his power seems to be decreasing.
I hope we can sign them both to long term deals. But if I had to choose one, I go with Roy O over Fat Elvis.