I'm on an extremely slow connection back home in Wheeling, so I'll have to keep this brief, but there's some news:
-P- The Astros have dropped $112.5 million on Carlos Lee and Woody Williams. Two weeks ago $100 million for Lee would have been altogether too much, and this is probably a contract the Astros are going to regret a lot in five years, but in this market, $100 million is reasonable. Lee is at least very likely to provide well above average production. The last few years of this deal would worry me a lot because of Lee's physique, but for now he's a surprisingly athletic player.
In any case, all this spending in the NL Central reminds me of something someone - maybe WTM? - said a couple months ago: you can't assume there's a window open for the Pirates to compete in 2007 and 2008 just because the division was so poor in 2006. The reason why is that other, deeper-pocketed teams will see the apparent opportunity too, and try to take advantage of it. That's exactly what the Astros and Cubs are doing.
-P- Also, from Pat, the Bucs are talking with the Rockies about a deal involving outfielder Brad Hawpe. The Bucs are apparently willing to part with Paul Maholm but not with any of their other starters. That sounds about right. Hawpe is a solid player and would be a big upgrade, but he'll be 28 next season. I'd love to have him and would trade Maholm for him in a second, since I don't think Maholm is too likely to come back to bite us. But I wouldn't give up Ian Snell, Zach Duke or Tom Gorzelanny.