|For most intents and purposes I would say that the Astros have done an acceptable job so far this off season with the acquisitions of Carlos Lee and Woody Williams. The Astros and Tim Purpura have made it pretty clear that the most important item on the agenda is to pick up a pitcher to fill the slot between Roy-O and Woody Williams. We're not going to let Pettitte's status impede our progress... and that's a good thing.
**Side note** As soon as I wrote that we're not going to let Pettitte impede our progress. I read this which basically says that the Astros aren't actively pursuing Jason Schmidt to their full potential because of the "Pettitte Factor." Go figure.
I've scoured the internet for anything and everything I can find about the Astros and the rumors (irregardless of the validity) and have the meat of them here. With all of the "stupid money" being thrown around and the amount of money the Astros have already spent... look for the Astros to go the trade route to get their #2 pitcher... if they get their #2 pitcher.
Trade for Horacio Ramirez
I read that the Braves could be looking to deal away Horacio Ramirez. Horacio looks more like a #4 starter to me than a #2 starter, and was plagued by injuries last season limiting him to only 14 games. If I'm trading for him, I'm not giving away much.
Trade for Juan Rincon
This wouldn't fill our 2nd starters role more than likely, but MLBTraderumors.com is stating that the Astros are possibly interested in Juan Rincon. He's been pretty good over the last 225+ inning posting a sub 3.00 ERA. One negative note on him is that he was suspended 10 games in 2005 for performance-enhancing drugs.
Trade for Jason Jennings
I've been hearing multiple people stating that the Rockies are looking to move Jason Jennings for the right deal. I think the right deal for the Rockies would be something to the extent of Chris Burke and a Patton or Hirsh, or maybe a Lidge for Jennings straight up. Personally, I'm not real interested in Jennings for that price. I'm not even sure what I'd be willing to give up for Jennings. Take into consideration that he's been pitching for the Rockies... but he's only had 1 sub 4.00 ERA season and only 2 seasons where he actually won more than he lost... and his last one of those was in 2002. I'll give up Hirsh or Patton for Jennings... maybe. They'd probably have to throw in a fruit basket as well though.
Trade for Miguel Tejada
Over at the MLBLog "the Hot Stove and Beyond", Rita's saying that she's heard from a source that the Astros are still actively pursing Miguel Tejada. Who knows... I highly doubt this will happen though. This isn't going to help us with the #2 starter, but an extra 100 RBI's would make me happy anyways. That's about it for trade rumors. I really don't see us being active at all in free agency besides trying to resign our free agents (mainly Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and possibly Russ Springer). Even trying to trade for pitching is going to be tough since basically every team is looking for pitching. I honestly don't see us doing anything dramatic in the Winter Meetings. Look for us to go into spring training with what we've got. I still think that both Roger and Andy will return to the Astros (with Roger having the same deal as last season). Roy-O, Pettitte, Williams, anyone but Wandy, anyone but Wandy is a rotation that I can live with.
The Astros are in a tough spot regarding Brandon Backe. As you should know, he's trying to recover from Tommy John surgery and is also an arbitration eligible pitcher. I want them to keep Backe, but keeping him means they have to sign him to some type of contract or make him a free agent. Also, the Astros have finally given up on Carlos Hernandez.