Don't Worry Be Happy
That's not to say there's nothing that needs changing or that I'm totally satisfied (will I ever be?), but when you consider poor, poor towns like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee or Tampa Bay or Chicago (North Side). At least we get a race and something to root for. Some hope. Some Lance and Roy, Clemens and Pettitte. And Lidge? C'mon Houston is home to baseball-gold these days, and it's fun.
Next year? It's on. We need a few moves (Crawford? Carlos? Woody?) and a few players to return (Roger? Andy? maybe Huff?). All under budget of course, Mr. McLane.
Ok, enough of the positive. Onto a taste of the negative. We've got a few months to point out each and every place where things went wrong this season. Tonight's topic... The bottom 3rd of the lineup.
Everett .239/.290/.642, 6 HR, 59 RBI, 52 runs
Ausmus .230/.308/.593, 2 HR, 39 RBI, 37 runs
Offensively? Bad. Just plain bad. However, Everett is one of the best defensive shortstops and it's an important position where you may have to take an offensive hit. A defensive stud at that position can be hard to find. But we've got one, he only committed 7 errors in 688 total chances all season and was part of 105 double plays. All amongst the tops in baseball. Luckily for him, he makes up with his glovework what he can't do with his bat.
Ausmus on the other hand is no longer such a defensive specialist. He did lead all catchers in field %, and had only 1 past ball all season, in 124 games started, which is pretty remarkable, but he was more middle of the road in both Stolen Bases Allowed and Caught Stealing. Point is, there are catchers of comparable defense that are better at the plate.
But I have a feeling that we're stuck with another year of Ausmus as the primary catcher. He's supposed to be great working with the pitchers and could be crucial to bringing Clemens back. So, maybe it's not as bad as I think, but I don't think I can stand another season of wishing the bottom 3rd of the lineup could do something with the bat.
JR House could maybe assume a backup role next season. For the Express and Hooks this year he hit a combined .345/.392/.913, 15 HR, 105 RBI and 83 runs. The Astros farm system seems to be as good as any, and I think it's time we see more of them in Houston. No need for the free agency catcher-version of the Preston K Wilson Experience in 2007. Dear God, please make it so.
I really wanted to get into the Preston Wilson Experiment, circa 2006, tonight, but I just can't take anymore.
Preston gets into the playoffs, but I'd bet they don't get past the David Wells and the stingy Padres. Padres had the lowest ERA in the NL at 3.87. Guess who was 2nd with 4.08?
Turning to the Cardinals for a second. They lost nine of their last 12, almost blowing a seven-game lead. They finished 83-78, the worst record by an NL Central champion. The Central title was out there all season and no one wanted to beat the Cardinals. wtf? If the Astros could have won 2 or 3 of the 4-6 games that Lidge blew, they'd be playing tomorrow. Shoulda, coulda, woulda and so on. But now... Now it's time to put all your energies into rooting against the Cardinals and Yanks. I'm thinking Mets vs. Twins at the moment.
Also 2 great pitching matchups tomorrow, Johan vs. Zito and Chris "Cy" Carpenter vs. Jake Peavy.