Houston re-signed Russ Springer for 2006. I've read he's making $750,000, but it hasn't been confirmed. Springer was better than advertised last year. His 4.73 ERA wasn't pretty, but a 1.19 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 59 innings sure is. He's 37, so let's not expect any miracles. The price is decent, although we could have saved half a million by calling up a rookie like Hirsh or Nieve. Still, it might be in our best interest to keep those two in the minors for another year.
Luke Scott is Barry Bonds' cousin. He's batting .439 / .536 / .930 in 57 at-bats in Venezuela. And he's playing centerfield. Intersting…
The D-Backs have an interest acquiring Brad Ausmus. Whatever. If anything, this is good news. It might drive his price out of our range.
Other intersting trades and signings:
• Giles re-signs with San Diego. I didn't think we had much of a shot at him. We'd have trouble playing Lane, Berkman, Bagwell and Giles, and we couldn't afford him. But props to a guy who takes a significant pay cut to play where he wants to.
• Hector Carrasco to the Angels for two years, $6 million. It's looking like Pual Byrd has a 3-year, $20 million offer on the table from some mystery team. I can tell you who it isn't: the Astros.
• Tom Gordon to the Phillies for 3 years, $18 million. He's a lot cheaper than Billy the Kid, although three years to a 38-year-old is about as secure as asking a little old lady to watch your stuff while you go break a twenty.
• Kyle Farnsworth to the Yankees for 3 years, $17 million. This for a guy who put up a 4.72 ERA in 2004 (Not to mention his two fantastic innings in NLDS Game Four)? Pass.
• Tim Worrell back to the Giants for 2 years, $4 million. Not
• Luis Castillo to the Twins for prospects. One, Travis Bowyer, is decent. Ninety-six strikeouts in 74 innings decent. He might close soon. Castillo will help the Twins, but unless Morneau and Hunter return to form and the Twinkies find another pitcher besides Santana, it won't be enough
• Manny, Abreu, LoDuca, Benson, Soriano, Pavano, Bradley, Blalock, Pierre and Jason Michaels are staying put. For now.
• Millwood, Burnett, Byrd, The Big Hurt, Nomar, Hoffman, Morris, Molina and Hernandez are still available...
This, from Baseball Insider:
"Houston's rising salary structure has prompted Purpura to explore trades rather than free-agent signings as a possible way to upgrade the Astros' offense. Baseball sources told ESPN.com the Astros have expressed interest in Texas outfielder Kevin Mench and Philadelphia's Jason Michaels, but backed off when the Rangers and Phillies asked for starter Brandon Backe in return. Houston would be more receptive to trading pitchers Ezequiel Astacio or Wandy Rodriguez for a hitter.
The Astros are working to retain backup outfielder Orlando Palmeiro and catcher Brad Ausmus, who has a choice of returning to Houston or signing with San Diego."
This is all good news. Not great, but good. It's good to see that Purpura is looking into available players, trying to cash in on second-tier players for bargain deals. But given our status and roster, I wouldn't give up Backe for Michaels, though it'd be tough to say no. Palmeiro would be fine as a fifth oufielder again, so long as he doesn't block Luke Scott. The more I read about him, the more I like Luke Scott. I like saying Luke Scott.
The Reds are still noncommital on LaRue. What could it take to snatch him? A pitching prospect, perhaps? Maybe Dunn and LaRue for Lane, Burke and Nieve? Looks like an even trade to me.