…though if they’d not left the Astrodome, wind wouldn’t be a factor. The Rocky Mountain News’ Tracy Ringolsby writes of the Astros’ difficult of planning for 2005 without knowing of Carlos Beltran or Roger Clemens’ intentions.

The word is out that Beltran has eliminated all teams that won’t give him a guarantee of at least seven years. The Astros have gotten indications they still are a legitimate consideration for Beltran, although Houston’s offer is believed to be a five-year guarantee for $75 million, including a $5 million buyout on a $14 million option for a sixth year.

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has met with Beltran, and the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs are believed to have interest, along with the New York Mets, who emerged as a possible candidate this week.

The Astros want to make a strong push for Beltran, but owner Drayton McLane also is wary of getting caught in a trap and bidding against himself like the Texas Rangers did when they gave Alex Rodriguez a 10-year, $252 million deal, was double the second-best offer Rodriguez received.

Fortunately for the Astros, they can just walk away from Beltran if they want.

Things aren’t as simple with Clemens. The Astros offered Clemens arbitration and he accepted. Technically, that means Clemens is a signed player.

Here’s the rub: Clemens has not decided whether to pitch in 2005 or retire. What’s more, the Astros are well aware that, while Clemens signed what was considered a hometown-discount deal a year ago to put off retirement, he is going to look for “market value” if he decides to return.

A year ago, he signed for a base salary of $5 million and deferred $3.5 million of that without interest. He also picked up $1,325,000 worth of incentives, bringing his earnings to $6,325,000. If he pitches in 2005, that figure will at least double.