Finally free agency starts tomorrow. I've been waiting for this to happen ever since the Astros were eliminated from playoff contention. Here's my 2 cents on what Purpura must do this off-season to consider this off-season a success.
- Sign a big bat. Yes I know I'm stating the obvious, but if Purpura signs another Preston Wilson type player this off-season and that's the best bat he adds, he's failed miserably. The Astros haven't had a good offensive team since Jeff Kent left. The Astros cannot settle for having a below average offense this year especially with the extra money Purpura has to spend this time around. I'm not saying they need to go out and overpay for a Soriano(which it looks like it's going to take to sign him), but they need to spend some money. Go after Carlos Lee. Lee batted almost .300 last season, drove in 116 runs and hit 37 home runs. He's also shown interest in the Astros and reportedly owns a ranch in the Houston area.
- Sign a reliable pitcher. Yes again, stating the obvious, but with the possible departure of both Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, and with Brandon Backe being on the shelf for next season due to Tommy John surgery, the only reliable starting pitcher we have next season is Roy Oswalt. Barry Zito is the #1 starting pitcher of the free agents, but the Astros aren't going to sign Zito. I'm not even sure if they'll try. Zito will probably end up in New York or Boston due to his high salary demands. The Astros have a good crop of young pitchers, but none have proven that they are reliable enough to hold down a 2 or 3 spot in the rotation. Look to go after a few mid class pitchers; maybe a Jeff Suppan, Woody Williams, Ted Lilly or Brad Radke. Maybe 2 of them... Put in offers to Jason Schmidt, but don't hold your breath on it. Do not wait on Andy Pettitte or Roger Clemens. Assume they are not coming back and build your team with out them. If they do come back, that's an added bonus.
- Sign Bengie Molina. Molina is an above average offensive catcher and a serviceable defensive catcher. He's no Brad Ausmus behind the plate, but with the stick in his hands, he's a much better player than Brad. Let Ausmus and Molina share starts this season.