Sunday, January 09, 2005

Astros season already swirling the drain?

Well, we lost him.


After calculating the effect of New York's state income tax (and the corresponding increase in federal income tax) I figured that either Empire State team would have to pay an extra $15 million over the 'Stros' offer just for Carlos to break even. This, I speculated, kept us strongly in the running for the services of the talented Mr. Beltran.

Maybe Scott Boras had his bluff called (and his client will wind up with less net jack from the Mets with the hometowners folding and the Yankees already overspent), maybe Tim Purpura messed up (when he blurted that the Astros had made their final offer a couple of days ago), maybe Uncle Drayton blinked at the price tag (though you'd never suspect based on the spin coming from the Chronic today).

Maybe it really was a fumble:

"It slipped through our fingers in the last, last few minutes," McClain said. "It was just some sticking point. It should never, never have gotten to this."

Who's it sound like he's blaming? Maybe it was a no-trade clause. Whatever, if it was just a few million dollars, we could all be really, really upset.

It's too late for the Astros to make smart upgrades with Beltran's former money, as most of the desirable free agents on the market have committed. They don't have lots of good prospects to trade, and the only free agent that should interest them is Magglio Ordonez, who's just beginning to work out after offseason surgery.

Five-to-one Clemens decides he's done now.

The good news is Chris Burke and Jason Lane get onstage. The bad news is Berkman will be a month late (as he rehabs his busted knee until May), Biggio may be reduced to the role of supersub, Bagwell still can't throw the ball from first to home on the fly, the rotation has to replace Wade Miller and the bullpen has to replace, well, everyone except Lidge.

Despite my rather negative header, let's reserve judgment a bit longer and see if they have a free-agent trick or two up their sleeve.

I'll have the rest of the winter, spring, summer, and fall to blast them otherwise.

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