Yet another off season where all Astros fans wonder "will he or won’t he?" That’s become the annual question with "The Katy Rocket". We have sort of gotten used to the saga of Clemens to the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers–anyone but the Astros–but we know who he ends up pitching for. Patience with The Rocket Man always pays off if you’re an Astros fan. This year however, it seems like his golfing and backyard barbeque buddy, Dandy Andy, has decided to join him in writing the latest chapter of the Waiting Game.
Sports writers in Houston from Alyson Footer, the Astros beat writer to Richard Justice and John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle (we’re small market, we only have one newspaper), all seem to think that Pettitte is leaning towards retirement. Sports talk show hosts like Charlie Palillo, Carl Dukes and Brad Davies all think the same. Even Larry Dierker, the Astros ex-manager and radio and TV commentator said he believes Pettitte may retire as he discussed the acquisition of Carlos Lee and the Andy and Roger saga in his chat with Charlie Pallilo yesterday. You can listen to Dierker’s interview here. Just scroll down to "Charlie Palillo Podcasts". And yes, they mis-spelt the skipper’s name.
According to Dierker, Pettitte seemed bewildered about not being in the playoffs for the first time in his career and said he wasn’t sure if he still had the "fire" in him. I hope that Andy decides to come back. I would like to see #21 signed to a 1 or 2 year contract within the next two weeks.
The Rocket situation is not so critical this year because of the new Basic Agreement. I doubt the Astros will offer Clemens arbitration. No doubt, they’ll work out a half-season deal with him again. Of course, it all hinges on his golfing buddy’s decision and Roger’s desire to reach some more milestones before he hangs up his cleats to wait the 5 years before his induction in Cooperstown.
Tonight was also the first airing of the annual Astroline show hosted by Hall of Fame Announcer Milo Hamilton. As is the case each year, General Manager Tim Purpura was the first guest. He had some tough calls to field from Astros fans disappointed in the 2006 season.
Purpura talked about how he had contacted 2-3 other GMs today about trading for starting pitching and his desire to add a starter or two to help Oswalt and Williams. He also mentioned he’d touched base with Bengie Molina’s agent–that was heartening news for ‘Stros fans who see a big offensive black hole at the Catcher position. Unfortunately, he also said upgrading at Catcher was one of the last items on the Astros agenda this year.
Purpura was grilled by callers about not doing enough in the 2005 off season and not having enough Hispanic players on the team. To his credit, Purpura handled the criticism well. He explained the team’s philosophy of not trading the farm away for one bigtime player or trading just for the sake of trading at the deadline. He also reeled off the names of many of the Latin American players on the 40 man roster. More than 25 percent of the Astros roster consists of players of Hispanic descent.
While talking about the Latin American players on the team, Purpura praised Fernando Nieve as a possible #2 or #3 starter and Paulino, another Venezuelan who throws 99-100 mph, as being highly regarded by the organization. He then mentioned Wandy Rodriguez as another pitcher who would compete for a spot in the starting rotation–my personal belief is the Astros need to give up on the Wandy Experiment and trade him post-haste…Jeroime Robertson anyone? You can bet I’ll bring that one up when Phil Garner or Drayton McLane are guests on Astroline.
Purpura also addressed the 3rd base situation, which, he said literally has him waking up at 3 AM. My gut feeling is he’ll end up having to sign Aubrey Huff and trade away Morgan Ensberg. Morgan’s a nice guy, but the team needs a 3rd baseman who is consistent and doesn’t lie about injuries.
And how about this bombshell Astros fans–Jason Lane may split time at Center Field!
You can hear the full broadcast here, just click on "Listen live". Astroline is broadcast every Wednesday evening from 7 PM to 8 PM Central during the Hot Stove Season.