Little to no Astros news of late. Oswalt / Pettitte / Clemens continues to be a hell of a 1-2-3 punch:
Oswalt - 113.1 IP, 2.70 ERA
Pettitte - 99 IP, 3.25 ERA
Clemens - 101 IP, 1.51 ERA (!!!!!!!)
I don't think Clemens can allow a .182 batting average all year, but that's pretty damn impressive at the top of the rotation.
but we're still dead last in MLB in runs (we have 278...the next lowest team, the Washington Nationals, have 310, a difference of 32 runs), and we're hitting .243 / .310 / .383 as a team. Yep, that's a 693 OPS.
I still have a suspicion that the Astros are shopping Chris Burke for a left fielder (how great would Adam Dunn look in an Astros uniform?) or I suppose a first baseman if Lance doesn't mind moving back to LF (Ryan Howard of the Phillies is available and is crushing AAA) or even a 5th starter. Even if Burke put up close to the numbers he put up last year in AAA (.315 / .396 / .503), he's not a great offensive or defensive left fielder, he certainly hasn't looked great in the majors so far, and Biggio's going to go for 3,000 hits here in Houston at 2B.
If we do become sellers at the trade deadline, who should we look to trade?
I just don't see us trading Clemens. He's making too much money, and I think the Yankees are going to look everywhere. I still think trading Andy Pettitte, who is off to a great start this year but is due 17.5 million next year and still has an occasionally wonky elbow, is a better bet. Pettitte to the Orioles for Daniel Cabrera and Jorge Julio? Mike Lamb could also make good trade bait; other than that, I just don't know.
Hey, just found this Ken Rosenthal column with this:
"The Astros rejected the Mariners' offer of OF Randy Winn for RHP Brandon Backe. Winn, a switch hitter, doesn't offer enough power to be effective in a platoon with Chris Burke, a righthanded hitter. If the Mets' Mike Cameron remains unavailable, the Astros could zero in on the Tigers' Rondell White or Craig Monroe, both of whom are righthanded hitters. Backe probably would be available only in a larger deal. . . ."
Wow. That's pretty interesting. I still like Randy Winn a lot, but he really isn't hitting for power, even away from Safeco (.290 / .351 / .382 with 9 extra base hits in 131 AB in away games), and if we'd just be using him in a platoon with Chris Burke, I wouldn't give up Backe for him either. Backe still has a somewhat encouraging strikeout rate (61 on 95.0 innings this year; I actually thought it was better than that) and he is just 27 and he's only been pitching for a few years; I'd be inclined to keep him unless we get a solid player in exchange.
The bit about Mike Cameron remaining unavailable makes me think we're not sold on Taveras yet, which is good, because while I have admitted he's not doing that bad for a 23 year old who skipped AAA, he's still not walking (12 in 262 AB) or hitting for power (12 extra base hits in 262 AB). Cameron has been excellent since coming off the DL (.295 / .399 / .534 in 146 AB, including a ridiculous 1109 OPS away from Shea Stadium) - while he can't keep that up, he'd be a huge upgrade in CF.
So, Rondell White or Craig Monroe? Well, off the top of my head, I'd stay way the hell away from White. He's an injury prone 33 year old LF, and he's not all that great when he's healthy (795 OPS in '03, 790 OPS in '04, 796 OPS so far in '05). Monroe, on the other hand, is 28, has played some CF, has showed good power (.488 slugging last year) and an improved walk rate this year (23 BB in 248 AB. Hey, it's progress.) He's also much cheaper. He's not an All-Star, but he could be a decent fit. At the very least, please don't trade for Rondell White.