The last couple days have been very busy for the Astros. They have trimmed the active roster down to 26 (not counting Backe and Gimenez who are both on the DL). Charlton Jimmerson got outrighted to AA Corpus Christi and Ezequiel Astacio got claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers. Astacio was the last of the three pitchers that came to Houston from Philadelphia in the 2003 Billy Wagner trade. Brandon Duckworth, the guy who was deemed most MLB ready was released a couple years ago. The oft-injured Taylor Buchholz was traded to the Rockies this off-season as part of the Jason Jennings trade. With Astacio gone, I believe the "Curse of Billy The Kid" just got lifted. Jimmerson was taken off the 40 man roster and the Rangers will have to keep Astacio on the 25 man roster this year as he is out of options.
The two Erics, Bruntlett and Munson are on the bubble and will probably be left off the team unless Garner decides to carry only 11 pitchers. Munson, interestingly enough, has been added to the 40 man roster, so he’s probably going to accept a minor league assignment. Bruntlett has an option left still, but he’s been on the 40 man roster for more than 3 years so he will have to pass through waivers before being assigned to AAA Round Rock.
The Astros picked up veteran catcher Danny Ardoin from the Washington Nationals in exchange for AA shortstop Wade Robinson. Ardoin is known as a guy who is really good at calling a game, but not that great offensively–sound familiar? Ardoin also caught Jason Jennings for many years in Colorado. I don’t think Ardoin will make the 25 man roster though. He’s most likely insurance should Ausmus or the backup catcher get injured.
The Biggio Sunshine Kids Pin flap has taken a life of its own in Houston. Donations to the Sunshine Kids are up significantly and I am organizing a giveaway for fans on Opening Day. I plan to be in front of the patio portion of the Big Bamboo passing 8×11 posters of the logo to fans going to the game.
The idea is to get everyone to hold up those posters every time Biggio comes to bat and have the crowd yell out B G O. That should make the Sports Center clip and get Bud Selig’s attention.
With the Yankees rotation being snake bitten, the NYC media is begging Brian Cashman to put out the SOS for Clemens. Too bad for them that Randy Hendricks quickly sent an email stating Roger’s timetable hasn’t changed one iota. Some NYC reporters went even as far as stating that without Clemens, the Yankees may be in danger of not making the post season. How melodramatic!
In the meantime, Chicago media and Jayson Stark of ESPN are claiming that The Rocket is most likely going to be an Astro again this year. The Windy City reporters however believe that the Astros may not be able to outbid the Yankees or the Red Sox. My question to them is, What planet are you living on dude? The Astros may not spend more than $95 million for their "team budget", but, Clemens is not part of the Astros regular budget. Clemens’ money will come from the same place it has for the last 3 years–Uncle Drayton’s special Rocket pocket.
Sorry Cubs Fans to have to bash your visions of a division title, but you will have to face Clemens again starting in June. The most tell-tale sign of this is the Koby Clemens interview by the Boston papers…Koby says the family hasn’t had a conference call about Roger’s decision to pitch this year yet, but he expects it will be soon. He says he’d prefer Roger to stay an Astro. The reason Clemens became an Astro in the first place is because Koby gave him an Astros cap for Christmas back in 2003 after he had retired from the Yankees–Koby’s preference clearly means a lot to his Dad.
This is backed up by the Jayson Stark note that Astros officials feel more and more confident that there will be a Rocket Launch in Minute Maid Park instead of Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park this year.
I personally think Roger will come back for one more season and this time, do what he promised the City of Houston–finally bring home a World Series Championship. With the Curse of Billy finally lifted, the Astros with their offensive additions are primed to claim the title that has eluded them for 45 years.