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Friday, March 31, 2006

Texans, Astros News

Eric Moulds?

Megan Manfull reports that Eric Moulds has agreed to a contract offer from the Texans, which clears the way for Moulds to come to Houston if the Bills and Texans can agree on compensation for Moulds. Reportedly Moulds will receive a $5 million signing bonus and could be paid as much as $14 million over the next four seasons, although anyone with a pulse realizes that in the NFL, the totals in a contract do not matter at all since players can be cut at any time. Manfull reports that the Texans are offering a fifth-round pick, while the Bills are asking for a fourth-round pick. Remember that those picks are each the first in their respective rounds. The Bills do not want to keep Moulds under the terms of his current contract, and the Texans know that, which means technically the Texans could hold their ground and dare the Bills to cut Moulds. At that point, the Texans could simply sign Moulds as a free agent and avoid losing a draft pick. However, the risk for the Texans is that the Eagles are also negotiating with the Bills for Moulds' services.

Moulds did have 81 catches for the hapless Bills in 2005, but will also be 33 years old when the 2006 season kicks off this fall. Health has never been an issue before for Moulds, who has missed only six games throughout his entire ten-year career with the Bills. If I'm the Texans, there's no way that I'm giving up the first pick in the 4th round for Moulds. A fifth-round pick seems fair for a 33 year-old WR, especially knowing that the Bills are desperate to lose Moulds' contract.

Taylor Buchholz?

Jose de Jesus Ortiz also reports in Friday's Chronicle that Taylor Buchholz has pretty much cinched up the fifth rotation spot for the Astros. Buchholz has had an outstanding spring, and this is the right decision for the Astros to make, although there seems to be little doubt that Zeke Astacio actually pitched himself out of the rotation as much as Buchholz pitched himself into it.

Oswalt and Pettitte are as good a 1-2 punch as any in the majors. After that, Backe-Wandy-Buchholz is about as shaky of a 3-4-5 as any rotation in the majors. Take a quick look at the 3-4-5's in just the NL Central:

Astros: Backe (4.76 ERA), Wandy (5.53 ERA), Buchholz (4.81 ERA in AAA)
Brewers: Capuano (3.99 ERA), Bush (4.49 ERA in Toronto), Helling (2.39 ERA in relief)
Cards: Marquis (4.13 ERA), Suppan (3.57 ERA), Ponson (6.21 ERA in Baltimore)
Cubs: Maddux (4.24 ERA), Sean Marshall (2.52 ERA in AA), Jerome Williams (4.26 ERA)
Pirates: Snell (5.14 ERA in 5 starts), Maholm (2.18 ERA in 6 starts), Santos (4.57 ERA with Milwaukee
Reds: Claussen (4.21 ERA), Milton (6.47 ERA), Williams (4.41 ERA)

Of those, clearly St. Louis is at the head of the pack. After that, there are plenty of question marks to go around. Is Capuano the real deal? How much does Maddux have left in the tank? Will Sean Marshall's low-minors and spring training success carry over to the bigs? Are the Pirates young arms ready to pitch consistently? Can Eric Milton bounce back from a nightmarish 2005? Is Brandon Claussen as good as he was in August and September (5-2, 3.09 ERA)?

Whichever team's 3-4-5 performs best will get a significant jump over the competition. The biggest burden, however, may be on the Astros and Pirates, who were both in the bottom-third of the NL in runs scored in 2005. The Reds and Brewers figure to have powerful young offenses that may be able to pick up some of the slack if their pitching falters, but the Astros and Pirates will both likely struggle to score runs, leaving them little room for error on the mound.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

I'll answer one of your questions. No, Eric Milton will not bounce back from a nightmarish 2005. He's just plain awful.

Fri Mar 31, 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Assuming it comes to fruition, I freaking LOVE the Moulds pick-up. Our QB won't know what to do with himself if he actually has someone besides Jabar "Alligator Arms" Gaffney or Corey "Boots" Bradford to throw to.

Fri Mar 31, 03:11:00 PM  

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