It's hard to be upset with an NL Championship, but it sure did stink to see us get swept. I have to admit each game was a nail-biter... it's just such a shame we couldn't end up on the winning side in any of them.
Is it too soon to start thinking about next year? No.
The problem is, the status of next season hinges on two future hall-of-famers and one light-hitting catcher. If Ausmus doesn't come back, it's unlikely that Clemens will. And if Bagwell's shoulder won't allow him to play defense, something must be done. It's difficult to conjecture about possible signings when we don't know about these three players and the possible $40 million they'll make.
The most troublesome situation is Bagwell's. He honestly wants to come back, but if it's a degenerative condition, I can't see how he'll ever throw a baseball again. Jack has told me that Bagwell would want to be traded to an AL team so he could DH if he can't throw again. I really can;t see him in any uniform but Houston's, but if this is what he wants, we have to respect it. The problem is that we won't know his status for a few months -- and probably too late to sign a big bat like Brian Giles.
I honestly don't know what could be done with Bagwell's $17.5 million contract for 2006, but in many ways I wish it would somehow disappear. Berkman could move to first base exclusively and we could go after a corner outfielder like Giles or Jacque Jones.
Clemens could probably come back and pitch at an elite level. But is he worth more than $18 million now that his hammy makes him a question mark in terms of health? And when we could sign two good free agents with the money we'd dish out to him? It's hard to say.