Astros add Rockies' Jennings to rotation

HOUSTON -- The Astros are getting Jason Jennings instead of
Jon Garland to replace Andy Pettitte in their starting rotation.

Five days after a potential trade with the White Sox came apart,
Houston acquired Jennings and pitcher Miguel Asencio from the
Colorado Rockies on Tuesday for outfielder Willy Taveras and
pitchers Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh -- who all would have been
sent to the White Sox.

"This gives us a solid No. 2 starter and some depth in the
bullpen," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "It's an
exciting day for us."

It was also somewhat of a homecoming for the 28-year-old
Jennings, who was born in Mesquite, Texas, just outside Dallas, and
pitched for Baylor University.

He's spent his entire five-year professional career with the
Rockies, and last season was 9-13 with a 3.78 ERA. He will make
$5.5 million in 2007 and is eligible to become a free agent after
next season. He is Colorado's career leader in victories (58) and
shutouts (three).

"I'm excited to go to a good ballclub and a team with playoff
aspirations every year," Jennings said during a conference call.
"I am looking forward to a new opportunity with a new team. It's
almost like a breath of fresh air, a whole new beginning for me."

Jennings was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2002 after he had a
career-high 16 wins with a 4.52 ERA.

That was Jennings' only winning season in the majors. Still,
Purpura said the Astros have been watching Jennings and were
impressed by his record last season.

Jennings becomes Houston's No. 2 starter behind Roy Oswalt,
joined in the rotation by Wandy Rodriguez and free-agent pickup
Woody Williams. After winning their first NL pennant in 2005, the
Astros are unsure whether seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger
Clemens will return for a fourth season with his hometown team.

"This was a trade we would have made whether Jason was in the
last year of his contract or not," Rockies general manager Dan
O'Dowd said. "Any time you get back three major league-ready
players, it's very difficult to do in this environment, and this is
the kind of baseball deal we will always have to make. Whether he
had three years and 'X' amount of money left on his contract or he
was entering his final year, we would have made this trade."

Taveras hit .278 with one home run and 30 RBI this year. He had
a 30-game hitting streak that ended Aug. 29.

Buchholz, whose medical reports may have caused the White Sox to
back off a trade, was 6-10 with a 5.89 in 19 starts and three
relief appearances. He was demoted to Triple-A Round Rock for a
spell and made seven starts there.

Hirsh, a 24-year-old prospect who is highly rated, made his
major league debut last season and was 3-4 with a 6.04 ERA in nine

White Sox general manager Kenny Williams had little comment
about the trade.

"Sounds like Rocky and Astro business to me, not White Sox,"
he said in an e-mail.

Asencio was 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA in three games with the Rockies
last season and 8-7 with a 5.03 ERA in 16 starts and 22 relief
appearances at Triple-A. He has repeatedly been sidelined over the
past three seasons because of multiple operations on his right

"It's very hard to say goodbye to a homegrown talent, but
whether it was now or at the end of the season, it was
inevitable," O'Dowd said.

He hinted that the team's inability to get Jennings to agree to
an extension factored in the decision.

"We gave him a great offer, but he understands where the market
is and we understand what he had to do," O'Dowd said. "We're sad
to see him go but happy for him going to a team in his home