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Wade likes how Astros are stacking up

Wade likes how Astros are stacking up

HOUSTON -- The Astros are feeling better about their chances to compete for a playoff spot in 2010 than they did this time last week. The addition of veteran right-hander Brett Myers has strengthened the rotation and will create more competition, which is never a bad thing.

Houston general manager Ed Wade, who will return Thursday from Arizona following two days of meetings with his fellow GMs, said to expect only a few tweaks to the roster between now and Feb. 20, when Spring Training workouts begin. If you're scoring at home, the Astros cut ties with Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde and Darin Erstad and added pitchers Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon and Myers and third baseman Pedro Feliz.

"If there's an opportunity to pull some more guys off the list of free agents or do something from a trade standpoint that makes sense, we'll do it," Wade said. "Anything we do going forward will have to have roster ramifications, and in all likelihood the types of offers we make between now and the beginning of Spring Training will be of the non-roster variety."

The Astros' 40-man roster was at its maximum before the club signed Myers to a one-year deal with an option for 2011. With that in mind, Houston on Wednesday designated outfielder Jason Bourgeois for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for Myers.


"There's a good chance over half the Triple-A club could be different, coming from outside the organization."
-- Astros GM Ed Wade

Houston has 10 days to outright, trade or release Bourgeois, who was acquired on a waiver claim from Milwaukee on Oct. 26. If he's outrighted, he has the right to elect free agency. The Houston native spent most of last year at Triple-A Nashville in Milwaukee's organization and hit .316 with 41 RBIs and 36 steals.

President of baseball operations Tal Smith and assistant GMs Ricky Bennett and David Gottfried are spending the bulk of their time on the Astros' eight arbitration-eligible players, a list that includes key players in Wandy Rodriguez, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence and a newcomer in Lindstrom.

Wade and his staff are still scouring the free-agent market for a left-handed bat in the outfield to occupy the role Darin Erstad held last year, and the team is also looking at Minor League free agents to fill out the roster at Triple-A Round Rock, which could have a much different look this year.

"There's still a couple of guys that we have been interested in all winter, and there's a chance we'll add one or two of them to add more depth," Wade said. "We've been aggressive in the six-year free-agent market and brought in some guys, not only to help the Round Rock club, but also to possibly help the big league club as well."

The Astros' approach to six-year free agents has been more sophisticated. They've taken the reports from their professional scouts and ranked the six-year free agents and then went back to the scouts to have them restate the level of interest and have aggressively tried to sign guys.

"There's a good chance over half the Triple-A club could be different, coming from outside the organization," Wade said.

Among the six-year free agents signed by the Astros are infielders Chris Shelton and Oswaldo Navarro, outfielder Alex Romero and pitchers Jose Valdez, Gary Majewski, Josh Banks and Gustavo Chacin. They also re-signed pitchers Rory Corcoran, Casey Daigle and Jeremy Johnson.

"Most of them have Major League experience, and you mix that with some of the guys we had in Triple-A last year like [Yordany] Ramirez, [Brian] Bogusevic -- and Collin Delome could be in the mix depending on what happens [at the Major League level -- we've got a chance to have a very a competitive club," Bennett said. "We have some depth we haven't had in recent years."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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