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Playoff Roster

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Stories both at the official site and at The Chronicle about how Purpura, after having spoken to Garner, will set the 25-man roster for the Braves series at some point early Wednesday.

There seems to be no possibility that Jeff Bagwell won't be on it, nor does any doubt exist about 22 others:

Position Players  -- Ausmus,  Berkman, Biggio, Bruntlett, Burke, Chavez, Ensberg, Everett, Lamb, Lane, Palmeiro, Taveras, Vizcaino

Pinch-hitter - Bagwell

Pitchers -- Backe, Clemens, Gallo, Lidge, Oswalt, Pettitte, Qualls, Springer, Wheeler

That adds up to 23, with nine of the 23 being pitchers. The Astros will certainly name one additional pitcher to the team, but may want to name two, and go with eleven hurlers for the series.

Although I believe that if the Astros really wanted to wrangle, and take advantage of injury loopholes, they could get Mike Burns* onto the team, I think it's pretty clear that the Astros will take their choice of Wandy Rodriguez or Ezequiel Astacio or both to achieve their pitching complement for the series.

If the Astros do choose to go with ten pitchers and fifteen hitters, that would then open a spot for either of two position players: Luke Scott, or Charles Gipson. In the Chronicle story, Purpura says, "it's almost like you have to speculate who you're going to need to win a game," and he's right. Tie game, two outs sixth inning, you'd rather have Scott; one out ninth inning and Berkman's just singled, you'd rather have Gipson.

Since the Astros so often come to me for their roster decisions, I'll go ahead and save them the trouble, offer them here:

First off, go with ten pitchers in a five game series. Second, make that tenth pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. The numbers say Wandy doesn't present an advantage when pitching to one side of the plate or the other, but he is a lefthander, and Wandy could be something cosmetic to show the Braves when not wanting to go with Gallo for whatever reason. There's also that screwball-looking thingy he can rarely control that breaks down and away from right handed batters. If he can get a couple of those over in a clutch situation, his presence on the roster could be justified right there.

Wandy has a better ERA, and a better batting average to both sides than Zeke. Plus Zeke had a traumatic experience in Atlanta.

The difference between Gipson and Scott is between what one will do, and what the other might do.

Charles Gipson WILL run the bases quickly and efficiently when inserted as a pinch-hitter. He might even steal a base or two off the hobbled Estrada. He can also play an inning of solid outfield defense when needed.

Luke Scott, on the other hand, MIGHT just break a game open by pounding a middle out fastball into deep center. But he's high risk, and is more likely to whiff.

This team is looking for every offensive advantage it can, but I believe the answer is to go with the sure thing, and take the small things you know you'll get.

Go with Rodriguez and Gipson to round out the roster for the Braves series.

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*Burns has a .156 BAA vs. righties, but 5 home runs allowed in 64 at bats. . .