Former Canyon High all-star offers sound advice for Astros

"If the Houston Astros want to win their division and a shot at the world series they must sign Roger Clemens and Carlos Beltran," former Canyon High School baseball star and current Houston Astros all-star right fielder, Lance Berkman exclaimed.

Berkman, who has only played with the Astros his entire season, is recovering from an off-season operation to correct injuries he sustained toward the end of the 2004 season. He also says he is starting to "make a good recovery," and is ready to return to the team for the 2005 season.

"If we want to win it, all we need is to sign both Roger Clemens and Carlos Beltran. Without them last season, there is no way that we would have gone that far," Berkman noted.

Although unconfirmed at this time, most of the media and press report that Beltran may sign with the New York Yankees and that the Yankee front office may be close to a settlement.

On the other hand, Houston management is still trying to come to grips with a contract for Roger Clemens. A salary dispute may be the stumbling block.

"Our pitching, if we can get Roger back, will be great, especially since Andy will be coming back in top form after some medical problems," Berkman remarked. "We'll have Morgan Ensberg back at third, Craig Biggio in left, Jose Vinzcaino at second and it looks as if Jeff Bagwell will come back for another season," he continued.

Berkman also indicated that manager, Phill Garner, is expecting big things from his bullpen, especially from Brad Lidge, who ended up as the workhorse last season.

"Things are especially looking up with the return of Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus behind the plate," Berkman' stated. "If Byron Backe can come back this season and throw like he did last season, there is no doubt things will happen," he added.

Berkman wasn't quick to go out on a limb early. As far as a quick pick, however, he's sure that the Cubs have done some off-season house cleaning, as did the Giants. And they, too, will have a few new tricks to boast about come May.

"There is no doubt that Phill Garner has made a tremendous difference in this team, and we all know the same feeling will carry over in '05. Everyone likes Phill. He's a real leader that we all respect," Berkman concluded.

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