I guess it's time I gave my opinion on the Brad Ausmus signing. Forget all the numbers for a moment. Well, every number but one: 37. That's how old Ausmus will be one week into the 2006 season. Off the top of your head, how many catchers can you think of that were still productive at that age? Carlton Fisk......oops. That's it. So what does that tell you? CATCHERS DON'T AGE WELL. Yap all you want to about how Ausmus is great defensively, or 'calls a good game', or has great rapport with the umpires. I can quote stat after stat about how bad Ausmus is offensively. Let's call the two even. But the one thing neither side can deny is we just gave 7.5 million to a 37 year old catcher. And that is simply stupid.
Supposedly we're one of the finalists for the Nomar sweepstakes. Generally speaking, I think this is a good thing - Nomar is coming off a down year (and he still put up a 772 OPS when he played), so he won't break the bank, and all reports have him looking for a 1 year deal (for around 6-8 million), which is fine by me. However, I would much prefer seeing Nomar at SS than at LF. A Luke Scott / Chris Burke platoon (and that assumes Berkman would be at 1B because Bagwell can't play) could certainly put up a 750 OPS for a lot cheaper than Nomar will cost. However, Nomar would be a big upgrade at SS over Adam Everett. I don't think we should just move Everett, though - Nomar will definitely need the occasional day off. Everett would make a great defensive replacement and pinch-runner, too.
Oh yeah, Rondell White. I actually like him a lot - unfortunately, I just don't see where we can play him. Lance Berkman and Jason Lane aren't going anywhere - if Bagwell can throw, he'll be at 1B (occasionally spelled by Berkman / Lamb), and if he can't...well, then we could sign White, but we just don't know. White has played in some tough pitcher's parks throughout his career (his road OPS is a solid 842) and he's consistently hit lefties well (888 OPS). And from what I've seen of him, he looks to be a pretty dead pull hitter. He'd like that short LF porch. I think he could help the Astros - but where do we put him? So much is resting on Bagwell's shoulder. I think we have to assume he'll be the Astros starting 1B in '06 until we hear otherwise.
Jon Garland for 2 pitching prospects, eh? Andy weighed in on this earlier, so I'll keep it short: I'd be interested, as long as we don't have to sell the farm. Garland had a great year; part of that was the incredible White Sox defense, though. Podsednik, Crede, Uribe, and Rowand are all well above-average defensively. I think Garland might regress a little bit next year simply because his last year was so much better than his previous career stats. However, he is still very young, and his most comparable player at his age was Brad Radke, which sounds good to me. He'll make at least 5 million in arbitration this year, though, so it would be a moderately expensive one year rental. Still, we're going to need another starter from somewhere. And I can only recommend Jason Johnson so many times.