Hope everyone had a nice, relaxing holiday season. The Astros didn't do much over the break until this morning, when they *allegedly* signed Mark Loretta to a 1-year, $2.5 million deal. Apparently only Loretta's agent has announced it, so the deal is far from official, but if it's true, I like the signing a great deal. Loretta hasn't slugged much over the past two seasons, but his career .299 BA and .363 OBP will be a great addition to the club. We traded for him back in 2002 at the deadline, and he performed very well for us. I think the front office has always liked his work ethic and baseball skills. Hopefully he won't mind an initial back-up role.
This signing also means that Burke has an evern stronger hold on centerfield. I assumed he might start once a week or so at second, with Bruntlett or Lane filling in at center. But Loretta now will probably get all the extra starts at second, leaving Burke as our clear everyday centerfielder.
Eric Bruntlett must not be too happy about this deal, but that's OK. Yes, he's had some big hits over the past two years, but he hasn't put up the numbers to guarantee him a roster spot. He and Lane are now battling for one spot with the team, unless we decide to go with 11 pitchers.
Haven't heard much from the starting pitching front. Richard Justice wrote in his blog that the Astros were considering inviting a couple of invitees to spring training: Paul Wilson and Pedro Astacio. I like the idea: Everyone know these guys have had the stuff to compete at a high level, but injuries have hampered their careers. If it doesn't cost us anything, give them a chance. I'd still like to pursue other guys, like Brian Lawrence or Tony Armas, but they might require major league deals. A And we should keep our eye on Jeff Weaver, just in case his price falls.