If the Astros are truly finished making moves this off-season, the group of players in the mix to become starters include: Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brian Moehler, Brandon Backe, Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz, Alberto Arias, Fernando Nieve, and Felipe Paulino.I wouldn't blame you for a second if your brain went into a Phil Collins-esque haze after you read Wandy Rodriguez' name. The rest of those guys do not inspire a great deal of confidence.
One option that's out there is free agent starter Chuck James, most recently of the Braves. He has produced decent looking seasons in the recent past- posting ERA's of 3.78 in 2006 and 4.24 in 2007. In actuality though, those seasons were not that good at all. FIP's above 5, K:BB ratios no better than 2:1, and ground ball percentages of 27.7% and 30%. Last year was lost for James, where he started only seven games after tearing his rotator cuff.
Is there anything salvageable about James? There isn't much about him that should produce all that much optimism about him, beyond his relative youth (27). He doesn't seem to have great stuff, although others would beg to differ. His change-up looks like his go-to pitch when he needs a strike. For good reason too- as it was swung on and missed fifty times this past season. Maybe there's something there after all. Drayton said he's done writing any more checks, but Chuck James could be the sort of guy that has actual upside- more than most of the pitchers we'll be bringing into spring traning.