Notes: Purpura announces roster
Healthy rotation allows Houston to carry 10 pitchers
ATLANTA -- Shortly after the Astros concluded their workout at Turner Field on Tuesday afternoon, general manager Tim Purpura announced the playoff roster. As suspected, the club will carry 10 pitchers and 15 position players.
Right-hander Ezequiel Astacio and outfielder Charles Gipson did not make the cut. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and outfielder Luke Scott did.
Pitchers: Brandon Backe, Roger Clemens, Mike Gallo, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Chad Qualls, Rodriguez, Russ Springer and Dan Wheeler
Catchers: Brad Ausmus and Raul Chavez
Infielders: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Eric Bruntlett, Chris Burke, Morgan Ensberg, Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, Jose Vizcaino
Outfielders: Lance Berkman, Jason Lane, Orlando Palmeiro, Scott and Willy Taveras
As late as 2 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Purpura and manager Phil Garner were still mulling the options. Purpura hinted they were leaning toward 10 pitchers, mainly because the staff appeared to be healthy.
"Health issues that we were anticipating don't seem to be an issue," Purpura said. "Roger's fine, Backe's fine. Everybody seems to be fine in the rotation, so there's no need to add an extra guy for reinforcement there."
It came down to Scott versus Gipson -- in other words, power versus speed. The Astros chose power.
"Luke's a power-hitter, a left-handed hitter," Purpura said. "In a limited sampling, he's shown he can get a pinch-hit when we need one.
"He's not the defensive outfielder that Charles is, or the speed guy, but it might be important to have someone on the bench who can hit the ball out of the ballpark."
Not that there needed to be an announcement in terms of the rotation, but for the record, that's set, too. Pettitte will pitch Game 1 of the Division Series against the Braves on Wednesday, followed by Clemens on Thursday. Oswalt will pitch Game 3 in Houston on Saturday, followed by Backe on Sunday, if Game 4 is necessary.
Rodriguez, who was the Astros' No. 5 starter for much of the second half, moves to the bullpen.
Naturally, most of the talk on Tuesday surrounded the strength of the Astros' rotation, which is the main reason why so many national writers and media outlets are picking the Astros to -- dare we say it? -- win the World Series.
Just don't mention that to the Astros, who, on the eve of their first playoff game of 2005, aren't looking that far ahead.
"We have a pretty solid rotation," Garner said. "Coming out with Pettitte, Clemens and Oswalt, you've got to feel pretty good about it. I was joking a few minutes ago, if I only had one other guy to add to the rotation, it would be Cy Young. It would be hard to get him here now, I guess."
Taveras, rookie of the year? Garner didn't want to talk about end of the season awards until the regular season was complete, and now that it's October, he's willing to say, yes, he believes Taveras should win the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Taveras' closest competition is likely Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Pittsburgh's Zach Duke, all of whom posted impressive numbers. But Garner's argument is Taveras, unlike the others, spent a full season in the big leagues, and his average never dipped below .280.
"He should be high on the list of anybody's choices for Rookie of the Year," Garner said. "Clearly, you take a look at what Howard did, he got hot and helped the Phillies. But the Phillies didn't win, and we did, and Willy was a big part of that.
"His consistent play, his consistent hitting all year long -- and he's played pretty solid defense. He had a period in there where a couple of balls gave him a little bit of trouble, but he's been playing a pretty solid defense."
Franco's in the booth: John Franco, who was released by the Astros earlier this season, is back in baseball -- in the broadcast booth.
Franco will be working for ESPN Radio during the Astros' series with the Braves, and he hopes it will spark interest for future gigs.
"I'll give it a shot," said Franco, who officially retired following the regular season. "This is what I probably want to do in the next year or two, a little TV, a little radio."
Franco was genuinely happy to see his old teammates, most of whom he hadn't spoken with since his release in early July. He emphasized that he had no hard feelings against the Astros.
"When you don't pitch well, things like that happen," he said. "I wasn't pitching well -- too many inconsistencies. We weren't playing well at the time. They wanted to see what the younger players can do. No hard feelings. I went home, relaxed, spent time with my family."
Awards: The Baseball Writers Association of America announced its annual awards, which will be presented at a banquet this winter.
Ensberg was named Most Valuable Player, Pettitte is Pitcher of the Year and Taveras is Rookie of the Year.
Additionally, Lidge will receive the fourth annual Darryl Kile (Good Guy) Award, and strength and conditioning coach Gene Coleman is this year's recipient of the Fred Hartman Long and Meritorious Service Award.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn was named Houston-area Major League Player of the Year.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.