It is certainly good to hear that Tim Purpura hasn’t been just sippin’ the tea at the 2006 Winter Meetings in Florida. According to AM 790, The Sports Animal, the Astros GM has made telephonic contact with Alfonso Soriano’s agent and talked in person to Carlos Lee’s agent. He has also talked with several other General Managers, one of whom offered a player via trade that Purpura said "wasn’t one we had considered available." Speculation is high on who that player might be. Could it be the now-annual Astros vs Orioles war over Miguel Tejada? How about Devil Rays offering up Carl Crawford? Marlins wanting to deal The D-Train? The price for all of the above would be high indeed, but some, like Tejada would be outrageous. What would the Devil Rays want for Crawford? Maybe it’s the Diamond Backs and Johnny Estrada?
Personally, I just don’t see Miguel Tejada or Carl Crawford in Astros pinstripes anytime soon. The Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos has been called "mad" by some and others use even worse names for him. No, Tejada for Oswalt isn’t going to happen. Carl Crawford is too valuable a prize for the Devil Rays to just trade away without getting a marquis player in return–preferably a pitcher. Tim Purpura can ill afford giving up two or three of his best prospects in Hirsh and Patton for Crawford. Jerry Hunsicker, the Tampa Vice President for Baseball Operations, knows the Astros strengths and weaknesses all too well to not ask for Hirsh, Buchholz and Patton.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Estrada platooning with Ausmus in 2007. It is certainly a cheaper option than Bengie Molina. Estrada would be a better offensive and defensive option too. The Astros do have enough starting pitchers to give up Buchholz or even Hirsh (but not both) for Estrada.
Signing Carlos Lee and a veteran starting pitcher like Woody Williams or Randy Wolf should still remain the Astros top priorities in the coming months though. Those free agent signings along with Aubrey Huff’s will most likely be enough for Clemens and Pettitte to make up their minds sooner rather than later.
Stay tuned for the latest in the Rocket saga, coming soon to a blog near you…