The latest Gammons column includes these little tidbits:
The Reds also told the Astros they would move Junior Griffey to Houston – for four top prospects.
Um, four top prospects for The Injury King? No thanks.
• The 'Stros right now plan to open the season with Willy Taveras in center field and Craig Biggio at second base, which means Chris Burke will either go back to the minors or stay in the majors as a utilityman/left fielder.
Yeah, I figured as much. I wonder if Gerry Hunsicker somehow knew that this would happen when he resigned in protest over the Biggio signing. To be fair, Biggio is one of the best Astros of all time, and a Hall of Famer. But to be honest, he's past in prime, is no longer a defensive asset at 2nd, and he's now blocking our top prospect. Burke as a utilityman? Why not Biggio as a utilityman? Lord knows he's played more positions than Burke. You could put Biggio anywhere except 3rd or SS and he wouldn't completely embarrass himself. But instead we're going to put him where he'll prevent our best up-and-coming player from getting AB's. Makes sense to me. Moreover, where does this leave our OF? If it's Lane / Taveras / Scott, I guess I'm all right with it. If it's Lane / Taveras / Palmeiro, I'm pissed - Biggio, Taveras, and Palmeiro getting playing time over Burke and Scott? Urge to kill....rising.....
• The Astros' fifth-starter battle seems to be between Brandon Duckworth and Tim Redding, who are both out of options, but if 25-year-old righty Ezequiel Astacio keeps pitching well he may fill the spot. If Duckworth or Redding doesn't grab the spot, Astacio could go to Triple-A New Orleans for a couple of starts, then be ready when the Astros need a fifth starter sometime after the first week of the regular season.
I'm of the opinion that Redding and Duckworth both have decent enough potential and trade value that simply releasing them wouldn't make sense, so unless we can find trade partners for both of them (unlikely), I'm hoping we can trade one of them, make the other the #5 starter, and send Astacio to the bullpen or AAA. Why are we trying to rush Astacio to the big leagues when he's never thrown a pitch above AA? Work him in slowly....sheesh.