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The Shawn Chacon / Justin Timberlake Connection

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The Astros are trying to bring sexy back to baseball. Unfortunately, the signing of free agent pitcher Shawn Chacon is the best way to do that.

Chacon, who went 5-4 with 1 save and a 3.94 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, was signed for one year and two million dollars. General Manager Ed Wade told the Chron that Chacon will be “put into the competition for a spot in the rotation and let him battle it out.”

That should tell you just how bad the Astros pitching staff is. Shawn Chacon, who couldn’t start for last year’s Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that finished in last place in the NL Central, and who couldn’t get on a spot on this year’s team, is in the mix for a spot in the Astros starting rotation. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in the 2008 Astros.

This is further proof that the Astros might have the worst starting staff in the NL Central. Roy Oswalt is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately, he can only start every five days or so. The rest is up to Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Backe, Chris Sampson, Woody Williams and possibly Shawn Chacon. This is not a staff that can compete with those of the Milwaukee Brewers (Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan, Carlos Villanueva, Chris Capuano), the Chicago Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, Jon Lieber), the Cincinnati Reds (Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey) or the Pittsburgh Pirates (Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Paul Malhom, Matt Morris, and Zach Duke).

But I’m being negative, I know. I’m not looking at the bright side of things. Just like I’m not looking at the bright side of new Astro Kaz Matsui being subjected to an extended physical on Tuesday. “He was one of the last ones to go through it, and I think he had some chest X-rays or something. I’m not sure,” manager Cecil Cooper said.

He had some chest X-rays? He had an extended exam? On the first day of camp? And Cooper’s not sure what’s going on?

Yeah, I’m sure there’s nothing going on there. Nothing. He’s perfectly fine. I’m sure that every player got chest X-rays. The Chron just didn’t report it.

I’m sorry, but this is just strange to me. It’s like there’s something there, but nobody’s telling me what. Hell, do we need to put in a call to Craig Biggio? At least Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum can play at second, unless they’re having to play at short because Miguel Tejada’s in jail.

Damn, this just isn’t a positive way to start spring training. But, like I said up top, the Astros are trying to bring sexy back to baseball.

Kind of.

Justin Timberlake has signed to play a minor league baseball player in a movie to be called The Open Road. Timberlake is supposed to be a member of the Corpus Christi Hooks (the Astros Double-A farm team) who’s supposed to be trying to reconnect with his legendary athlete of a father played by Jeff Bridges.

I don’t know what position Timberlake’s character is supposed to be, but if he should show any sign of being able to spot a fastball on the corner, I say give him a shot with Shawn Chacon for the starting rotation. He can’t be any worse than what they’ve already got penciled in. Can he? – John Royal

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