Jeff Bagwell's on-field career for the Houston Astros is over, but he may be interested in remaining with the club in some capacity, according to his longtime agent.

In an expected move, the Astros declined to pick up the 2007 option for the first baseman. Bagwell is the team's career leader in home runs and RBIs, but missed much of the 2005 season and all of the 2006 season with a deteriorating right shoulder.

He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and the league's Most Valuable Player in 1994.

"Obviously this is all part of the process," Bagwell, who met with Astros owner Drayton McLane and GM Tim Purpura Tuesday morning, told the Houston Astros. "Everybody in the world knew they weren't going to pick up my option. Obviously I'm OK with that.

"Now, it's just the process of me dealing with the reality and where to go forward here."

Barry Axelrod, Bagwell's agent, said Bagwell doesn't have plans to announce his retirement anytime soon, but he is exploring options on how to remain involved with the Astros' organization beyond his playing career.

"It certainly makes sense, because he plans to stay in Houston," Axelrod said of Bagwell.

McLane had nothing but praise about Bagwell when asked about the longtime Astros veteran.

"Jeff is simply one of the best players and individuals to ever wear the uniform of the Astros or any other Major League team," McLane said. "He is a true icon of our franchise and a tremendous ambassador for the game of baseball. Jeff certainly has cemented his place among the greatest to ever play the game."

During his career with Houston, Bagwell, a four-time All-Star, hit .297 with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs in 2,150 games. He also stole 202 bases and scored 1,517 runs while slugging 488 doubles and 32 triples.

Cardinals ponder Wainwright's role: When the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves were negotiating a trade prior to the 2004 season, the main components were in place. It was J.D. Drew going from St. Louis to Atlanta, with Ray King coming to the Cardinals -- and one other player. St. Louis knew who they wanted.

"I told them that we weren't going to make the deal unless he was in it," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "They said they wouldn't do that and they left the room. And they came back. He was a big part of that deal for us."

That "him" Jocketty spoke of was Adam Wainwright, who just completed an outstanding post-season for the World Champion Cardinals. Now a decision must be made on just what the future holds for the young pitcher.

"When we got him, we felt he had the ability to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. We still believe that's what his role will be," Jocketty said. "Depends on the needs of the club. We'll make that decision next spring. It would be best to get him on a career path and keep him there."

Wainwright says he's just high on life no matter what his role may be.

"Such a special time in my life, such a special year in my life. I'll never be able to top it," Wainwright said, cradling his newborn daughter, born the weekend Wainwright assumed the job of Cardinals closer.

Asked what he wanted to do - start or close next year -- his answer was succinct: "Pitch. In the big leagues," he said. "That last part is the most important part."

Verlander, Tigers were a great blend: The Detroit Tigers didn't win the World Series, but the way the team developed this season will not be forgotten by Justin Verlander.

"I'm proudest of the way our team came together," Verlander told the Detroit Free Press. "I'm proud of the way myself, Joel (Zumaya), Grandy (Curtis Granderson) and Zach Miner -- the young guys -- all meshed with the veterans. It led to us being a great team.

"That's what we were -- a team. We didn't have the one single superstar that did it night in and night out. It was individual players on certain nights that kept us going all year."

And in the end, the entire experience was a lot of fun. "Man," he said. "What a fun season. It's hard to say that now. You really can't feel that right now. But looking back, this has been nothing but fun. Getting to know these guys and getting to be a part of this team -- I couldn't ask for more than this my rookie year."

Rogers wouldn't trade with the Cards: Detroit pitcher Kenny Rogers loved the 2006 season, so much so that he'd not trade any of it -- with anyone.

"I wouldn't trade places right now with anybody in St. Louis," Rogers told the Detroit Free Press. "Really. I enjoyed these guys so much. I couldn't have asked to be in a better place, better teammates, a better coaching staff, a better manager.

"Yes, it's nice to win a championship, but I think I gained a lot more than that. And at this stage of my career I value that even more than a World Series ring."

Feliz, Giants begin to talk: The Giants have 11 players eligible for free agency and the first one they have made overtures to sign is third baseman Pedro Feliz. The Giants and Feliz' agent, Mike Arias, are currently exchanging contract proposals. The club has until November 11 to exclusively negotiate with their former player.

"I'm going to take advantage of these two weeks and my hope is that we can bridge the gap," Arias told the San Jose Mercury News. "Pedro is a known commodity to them and he'd be a hot commodity on the market."

Feliz batted .244 last season and led the Giants with 98 RBIs.

The Bonds Market: Barry Bonds was one of the first players to file for free agency. Jeff Borris, Bonds' agent, thinks there will be an active market for his client.

"When you analyze the economics and demographics that Barry might mean to a franchise, I believe all 30 teams would be interested in him based on the revenue he could bring to the franchise," Borris told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Earlier, Orioles Vice President Jim Duquette told the Boston Globe that his team might be interested in Bonds.

"Obviously, there are many factors we'd have to consider, including contract," Duquette said. "But I would think if Barry were out there, there would be other American League teams interested, considering what he could do as a DH, preserving his body, and the fact you'd be getting a player who is about to break the home run record."

Cameron a great fit for Padres: The San Diego Padres will have the services of center fielder Mike Cameron next season after picking up his option. General manager Kevin Towers also said that he wants to talk to Cameron about a multi-year extension.

The Padres feel Cameron is useful for several reasons. One is the fact that the organization doesn't have a top center field prospect in the Minor Leagues, so Cameron would be a steady player to start there for several years. Secondly, the club feels fortunate to have Cameron considering how many clubs, including National League West rivals, are looking for a center fielder.

"He's just a tremendous defender in center. He gives us good right-handed power and his intangibles, I can't say enough about that. He's a great teammate and a leader,". Towers, who acquired Cameron from the Mets for utilityman Xavier Nady last offseason, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "My hope is that Mike Cameron will be here beyond 2007. I hope that he's here a long time."

Branyan's versatility attractive to San Diego: In his brief time with the San Diego Padres, Russell Branyan made a strong impression. The club picked up his option for next season after watching Branyan hit .292 with six home runs in 27 games after being acquired from Tampa Bay on Aug. 24.

The Padres like Branyan's versatility as he can play either corner position as well as both corner outfield spots. While the Padres have stated they will look at other free agent third basemen, they are pleased to have Branyan on the roster.

"Right now, Branyan's our third baseman," general manager Kevin Towers told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "A guy that versatile with that type of power -- it's pretty much a no-brainer."

Rockies eye Roberts' speed: Needing to increase their team speed, the Colorado Rockies are showing an interest in free agent outfielder Dave Roberts. Roberts fits the team's need to have a center fielder who can hit at the top of the lineup and steal bases.

"Of course Dave has interest in Colorado. And I told them that. He likes the direction they are going," agent John Boggs told the Denver Post. "He's not going to just wait around (for San Diego)."

Roberts hit .293 with a .360 on-base percentage this past season with San Diego while swiping 49 bases. The Rockies had only 85 steals as a team this year.

Rest is key for Wakefield: Tim Wakefield will be pitching for the Boston Red Sox once again next season after the club picked up the right-handed pitcher's option for next season.

Wakefield was slowed by injuries this past season, but both Wakefield and general manager Theo Epstein believe Wakefield will return to good health in 2007. This year, Wakefield had a stress fracture in his ribs, leading to seven weeks on the disabled list.

"As far as my health is concerned, I feel great now that I'm home and have been able to rest a month or so," Wakefield told the Boston Globe. "I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym and starting to throw, probably by the first part of December.

"My body feels a lot better than in July. I was able to make four starts at the end of the year and was starting to feel better. I think time is the cure-all for this injury, and now that I've been off for a month, it feels really good."

-- Red Line Editorial