Monday, July 31, 2006

braves gave up on their prospects and got little in return, that gives them the dodger blues; and other, fatter trades

I forgot to mention my favorite trade of the day. The Rangers got Matt Stairs from the Royals for minor-league pitcher Joselo Diaz. When Fat Stairs joins his 8th major league team, and it's Texas, it's worth noting.

Also, the Braves traded 2 of their better recent prospects, Wilson Betemit and Jorge Sosa. They got Baez and Willy Aybar from the Dodgers for Betemit, and a minor league pitcher from the Cardinals for Sosa. No big deals, but a bunch of smaller gap fillers for a few teams. I didn't know that the Dodger's got Betemit until a few minutes ago, and with Bill Mueller, Kent and NOMAH on the DL, adding Lugo and Betemit means a job well done, right? Greg Maddux will replace Aaron Sele or Jae Seo in their rotation, which has to be an upgrade. Now if only they can get JD Drew to be consistent, Maddux may have another chance to pitch in the playoffs.

Man, I couldn't help myself with the Nomar picture. I thought of him and DL and this picture pops in my head. Enjoy!

nothing, absolutely nothing

Well, it looks like the Astros did NOTHING! Stupid, you're so stupid!~! UHF reference anyone? The big names that are gone today are Greg Maddux, Julio Lugo to the Dodgers; Oliver Perez to the Mets for X Nady; Pirates sent Craig Wilson to the Yanks for Shawn Chacon; Ronnie Belliard from the Indians to the Cardinals for Luna; Sean Casey to the Tigirls for a minor-leaguer (April/May darling, Chris Shelton, is now a Triple-A Toledo Mud Hen); Pirates continued the fire-sale and traded Kip Wells to Texas for a minor-league pitcher. A few more minor deals went down, but nothing interesting from the Astros. So much for Clemen's request for some action and the demand to trade Lidge.

No Lidge leaving, no gut wrenching deal including Oswalt. Tejada and Soriano go nowhere. It is being reported that the Nationals are going to try to re-sign Soriano at the end of the season. They may need to get some of that government money to afford it. Whoop dee doo!

Will the Astros do something?

Another shitty loss for the Astros and another lost series, lost 2 of 3 to the D-Backs. Another HR given up by Lidge in the 9th. This time to Connor Jackson. What, if anything, can the Astros do now to salvage the season? They're now 6 games back of the Wild Card with the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Rockies, Giants, D-Backs and Reds all in front of them.

It'll take something extraordinary to get this Orange-Juice powered train a-rolling again! According to Richard Justice's blog and ESPN insider, there's some chatter... Clemens has "gone to Drayton McLane and said: 'We have to do something. We need help.' " I'm all for Roger getting the management to do something, and honestly I'm a little surprised that he didn't demand a trade involving himself and Andy back to New York or something.

Also from Justice's blog. "The Astros are serious about landing Miguel Tejada. They're Roy Oswalt serious. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Astros have discussed a trade that would send Oswalt, Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett to the Orioles for Tejada." I'd really hate to trade Roy away. I'd rather see Pettitte or Clemens traded. RoyO is 5 years younger than Pettitte and 15 years younger than Roger. Justice suggested that Baltimore would turn down this deal anyways, which is surprising.

I also read over the weekend, that the Astros are also in the running for Soriano. I'd rather have Tejada. The deadline is today, so the clock is ticking for the last few hours.

Also, the Astros sent Buchholz to Round Rock and Ensberg is there making some rehab starts. Chris Sampson was called up to Houston as well. Sampson's 28 years old, so if he's going to make an impact for the Astros, it will be soon. Get him in there.

Next up... a trip to sunny San Diego

--matchups-- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
Tuesday: Pettitte (9-11, 5.18, 112, 50) vs. Jake Peavy (5-10, 5.01, 136, 36)
Wednesday: Backe (1-1, 5-82, 9, 8) vs. Woody Williams (4-2, 3.69, 39, 17)
Thursday: RoyO (8-7, 3.23, 99, 27) vs. Clay Hensley (6-8, 4.46, 71, 53)

Boy, I hope RoyO will still be around to make his scheduled start on Thursday. It would be strange if Tejada was in the lineup and Hirsh or Sampson took Roy's position in the rotation. I don't know how I feel about it. Readers, (Habeab, mom?) what do you think?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sinsinnatty




Nothing wrong with some natty light.

The Astros on the other hand...

The 'Stache would be well served to stop playing the guys who are not helping win ballgames. Especially those contributing to losing ball games. Like the 8-4 stinker of a "Ballgame" Thursday night.
Namely, the slugger formerly known as Preston "K" Wilson must stop getting the automatic pencil into the lineup everyday. He reminds me of Cerrano, from the movie Major League. If only he had the power to hit the ball, just from saying,
"Jo-boo, you no help me hit curve ball. I say, fuck you Jo-Boo. I do it myself."

Aubrey Huff? Just because Sittin' Tim Purpura "Snagged" him in a "Major Trade," does not mean he warrants playing time over other Astros, namely 2 former "prospects" in Willy T and Luke Scott, and a big contributor to the last 2 winning seasons, Mike Lamb.

Blhuff = .227, HR, 4 RBI, 5 K, 5 BB, 5 R in 44 ABs. He has not played in the NL and is not good enough to compensate that fact.
Cerrano "K" Wilson = .274, 9 HR (WOW), 52 RBI, 38 runs(!), 90 "K"'s, 21 BBs, and drum rollll.... .415 SLG%, for a power hitter!?!?! It's a joke?
Mike "The B is silent" BLamb = .319, 8 Hr, 30 RBI, 43 runs and just 32 "K" 's to 20 BB's in only 238 ABs.
Willy "I'd run if they'd stop giving me the Red Light" Taveras = only .258 with 52 runs and 14 swipes. 53 K's to 18 BB's. He could have 40 steals already if given time to develop a bit. He is young, Very Young for Astros standards.
Luke Scott = .318, RBI, 2 R in 22 ABs. Only 2 K's and 0 BBs. Such a small sample size. Do Not Daryle Ward/ Jason Lane/ Chris Truby/ Phil Nevin this guy.

The 'Stache, explaining why he has to field such a sorry bunch of batters


Furthermore, open the damned roof. It's a sign of coddling your team and it was a shame what happened during the World Series. You were worried about a ROOF? Not hitting the White Sox pitching, but a ROOF?
Open the roof every game not in July or August. Let the players learn to brave the elements and deal with unexpected events on the field. Maybe, perhaps they will get better by toughing it out?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

All Is Saved and Well!!!

OK, OK, that is not true at all. And let us hope that Pops Drayton and Sittin' Tim Purpura don't think everything is better after the Astros 8-5 win over the Reds, because that inning was one error away from the typical Astros inning with men on: Double Play, No Runs!

Thank Royce Clayton right now, don't praise anyone on that offense. OK, Berkman deserves it.


So Brad Lidge was yanked in the ninth inning with the game on the line to go with, um, Trevor Miller. Actually, I was more than happy to see that. Once Lidge gives up a hit, hits a batter, and throws a wild pitch, everyone knows how that is going to end, regardless of a strikeout. He either dominates, or gets whacked and loses it. Way to go, Wheels.
Hopefully The 'Stache has realized Tony LaRussa did not invent the game, and he can actually pitch whoever he wants, whenever he wants in the right situation. Hooray!

On the telecast last night, they showed Preston K Wilson (The Whiffman) during batting practice, making jokes with teammates and the likes. Not one other person was laughing, actually, they all looked uncomfortable. Yes he was mic'd and everyone knew it. Yet he isn't bringing much to the table at all, so why is he still getting ALL the starts in LF?
The 'Stache called Burke the best defensive LF last year, so put him in LF, and Scott in RF.
AND please, for the love of lions, put Mike BLamb at 3B. Who gives a sweaty shirt about Aubrey Huff??? The extra B in Lamb (BLamb) makes him a Killer B, and when the Astros can play that buzzing sound at home for him, The 'Stache has to give him more at bat, right?

Teeee-Jada, do you like Hot, Muggy weather? Muggy is close to Miggy!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lance-Less Loss

Ah, alliteration. Always an absolutely amazing affair, agreed? Affirmative! Anyways... No start for Berkman tonight, but Luke Scott started in right and knocked a double to open the 5th. He was followed in the order by Ausmus (ground out, Scott to 3rd) and Everett (strike out) and Clemens (walk on 4 pitches). Everett tried a squeeze bunt with Scott on third. Didn't work, but it's good to see them trying. Biggio flied out to a leaping Brandon Phillips to end the inning and leave Scott stranded at 3rd. 2 nice plays by Phillips in the last 2 innings. Preston K gounded into a silly broken-bat double play to end the 4th, including a sweet turn by Brandon Phillips.

In the bottom of the 5th the announcer on Fox Sports Houston said something to the tune of "The Astros seem so anxious about getting that run home, and they keep fucking it up." Something like that, and its so true.

No hope for the offense mostly until the 8th when there's a sign of life. Everett surprised us all by leading off the inning with a double. Then Lance-christ himself pinch hit for Trevor Miller and popped out. Ok, well maybe he's not that good. But if anyone's going to knock in a run, it's Lance. After him, a wild pitch moves Everett to 3rd, and Biggio lined out to 3rd. 2 runners stranded at 3rd so far, awesome!

Preston K and Luke Scott got hits off Todd Coffey in the 9th to set up Orlando Palmero pinch-hitting for Ausmus. Cincy subs in lefty Bill Bray, and the 'Stache counters with Bruntlett instead. Bruntlett flies out to Griffey. Game Over! It's just another Clemens start for the Astros. He pitched just fine (7 ininngs, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 BB, 2 K), but the Astros powerhouse offense gets shut out again. Giving Clemens his 4th loss. Same shite different day.

This has got to be Clemens' last year (with the Astros at least), right? Do you think he wants to do this again? Pitch well, but lose most nights because the offense can't score a single f-ing run? Help me Lance-christ! You're my only hope!

You've got REDs on you!

The Astros are back home tonight for a 3-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. This follows a dreadful 10-game road trip where they went 4-6. Losing 2 of 3 to the damn Cubbies. The Reds are currently in the lead for the NL Wild Card and the Astros are hanging on, 5 games back.

--matchups-- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
Tuesday: Harang (10-6, 3.72, 129, 36) vs. Clemens (2-3, 2.43, 27, 9)
Wednesday: Arroyo (9-6, 2.92, 111, 33) vs. Pettitte (8-10, 5.08, 108, 49)
Thursday:
Elizardo Ramírez (3-6, 4.43, 59, 19) vs. Buchholz (6-8, 5.57, 75, 30)

Lance is expected to play today, and I hope to see Luke Scott getting a start in the OF over Preston K. Luke's got a hit in his last 3 games, and is 5/15 this year with only 1 strike out. Start him now. If he's one of the Astros future stars, let him get that ball rolling. Don't let him ride the pine like Daryl Ward during his best years. It's raining right now in Houston. Hopefully it won't last, because I'm watching this one!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Strapping Youth

If Berkman's knee is hurt and needs more than a few days rest, chances are the Astros ain't gonna be shining in the playoffs once again.

After speed, youth, hustle, and enthusiasm helped the 'Stros knock off the Mets 8-4, I hope Tim Purpura starts acting like a General Manager and less like player's fathers. Stop coddling, throw the youngin's onto the fire. How else did we find out Berkman could be a solid player? By letting him try when he was young.

No matter the outcome of this season, the Astros have some damn fine minor league players that deserve a shot at the big league level. When spring training rolls around in 2007, I don't want to hear about not knowing which young guys to play, who is ready, and who will never be. Use the rest of this season to find out, and if by some miracle a young player performs well (that has NEVER happened!?) then maybe he'll help them to October this year, and next year.

Let Willy T play CF, start Burke in LF with some Wilson. Berkman in RF and 1B with Lamb playing more 3B. Give Luke Scott tons of starts in RF and LF. Let the lineup, in some fashion, always have Willy T, Lamb, Burke, Berkman (if healthy), Scott in it. Give Biggio some days off, Huff a lot more days off, and Preston Wilson a lot of days off. Let's see what the kids can do before it's guesswork at spring training again, a la 2006.

I am not that confident in Huff. There is a reason Purpura could only swing a deal with his former boss, and for a player that the D-Rays have been trying to give away for 3 years now. That is not the mark of a good GM, no matter how smart and good a baseball man Purpura is.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Justice For All

Since we've started this fine journalistic style blog about the Astros and their insistence on not producing at the plate for a third straight year, I've begun emailing Mr. Richard Justice over at the Houston Chronicle to bitch, whine, complain, cheer, and all the other things fans do.

Here's a tet-a-tet from yesterday's ballgame.

Me: how can two batters in a row take a called third strike with runners on 2nd and 3rd? You are right, Richard, the Astros need a bat. The lineup is not good enough to cover for the two defensive "wizards," of which Ausmus is not anymore. Please, enlighten these two intelligent men that watching pitches and whining about called third strikes is unacceptable, no matter how smart you are. -Habeab Kurdi Chicago (Houston)

Justice: I think they've left more men on third than any team I've seen. And
maybe it gets in their heads after awhile and gets worse. Terrible

It's a bat, swing it!

The three automatic outs (7-8-9) are killing the 'stros and the 'stache.
He keeps yanking his cap off, rubbing his head, because there is nothing he can do about Everett and Ausmus because they just suck as hitters. They aren't even taking good approaches at the plate, and if they're gonna make an out, at least have a smart at-bat, college boys.

Oh but wait, there is something the 'stache can do, try other options!
As Tom Wilsonberg would say.....whaa huhhu whats that I hear? Excitement?
Well it's true, , and what if I told you it could happen, today??

Burke at SS revolution! Play Luke Scott! No more Preston Wilson! Call up Pence, stick him in LF!!

I have to agree, 'til Lidge does us part at closer. let him be, it'll be OK.
But I want Tejada. And truth be told, I'd rather lose Lidge than Burke. Though Lidge is a better player, and there is no telling if Burke will ever fully develop the way he's treated by the Astros, let' get some

TEJADA!

to tejada or not to tejada?

Rumors are flying again about the Astros making a trade for Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada. So far, I've read Baltimore GM Peter Angelos doesn't want to trade Tejada unless they are overwhelmed by an offer. According to ESPN.com Insider, "The Angels apparently made a run at Tejada in June and hoped to move him to third base. But the Orioles reportedly wanted right-hander Ervin Santana, second baseman Howie Kendrick and reliever Scot Shields in return."

I wanted to break that down and see if I can devise a similar trade. First, Santana's started 42 games with an ERA of 4.28. He's got a 3.88 ERA this year with 87 Ks and 38 BBs. Let's look at the young arms the Astros have to match Santana...

Backe, 36 starts, 4.79 ERA
Nieve, 11 starts, 4.44 ERA
Wandy, 46 starts, 5.38 ERA
Buchholz, 16 starts, 5.31 ERA
Hirsh, 19 starts, 2.18 ERA (this season in Round Rock)
Sampson, 15 starts, 2.45 ERA (in RR)

I'd rather not give up Hirsh or Backe. So, let's say Sampson or Wandy....

Next, Howie Kendrick. He's batting .206 with the Angels in 34 at-bats this year, but was killing as a member of Angel's AAA Salt Lake Bees to the tune of .369, 13 HR, 6 triples, 11 SB in 69 games. Chris Burke is the likely Astros parallel here, and I'd hate to see him go, but for Tejada Burke may have to be in this deal. Another option is Luke Scott, or I'd be OK with sticking Willy T or Preston K Wilson IV as the bat in this trade, but it feels like they're stuck with Preston this season.

Lastly, Scot Shields. He's got a career line of 2.74 ERA, 404 Ks and 156 BB. He's been a top of the line setup man for the Angels since back when Troy Percival was saving 40 games a year and the Angels denied Barry Bonds his most recent stab at a World Series ring. See that over there, Barry? You're never going to get one of those. Anyways... We need a reliever. I think Lidge should, and
will be the closer through this year, for better or worse. So, don't deal him now. How about Qualls or Wheeler or Springer or whichever reliever they want. If it has to be Lidge, fine. I guess.

So that leaves us with Sampson/Wandy, Burke and Lidge for Tejada at worst. Hmm, the O's will probably want a SS back, so Everett can be the cherry on top. OR How about Everett, Hirsh and Lidge? I'd do that. Tejada's a career .282 batter who averages 25 HR and 97 RBI per year. I think he'll be worth it. Another solid bat in the middle of the lineup, and a
HUGE step up offensively from Everett. Imagine a lineup of...

Biggio, 2B
Lamb, 1B
Burke, CF
Berkman, RF
Tejada, SS
Huff, 3B
Preston, LF
Munson, C
Pitcher

Beautiful, as this should provide some stability, which should breed confidence. That's what is so obviously lacking in the offense, and has been most of the past few seasons despite their recent success.

A side note on Ausmus. He should not be the everyday catcher anymore. His anemic offense has finally become a liability that his defense can no longer overcome. He's batting .247 with only 20 RBI this yeat and has grounded in to 11 double plays, about on par for his .255 career batting average. On defense however, his caught stealing percentage has taken a sharp dive since the year 2000.

CS% - Year
.475 (2000)
.477 (2001)
.323 (2002)
.352 (2003)
.264 (2004)
.316 (2005)
.204 (2006)

His offense is about the same as it has been, crappy, while his defense has deteriorated. He's been sticking around because he's supposedly a defensive specialist, but that's just not true anymore. Get him out of there. Can't someone please stop this? Boy, he must have some sort of snake-charmer effect on Hickey and the pitching staff. Ausmus should start here and there, but they need more offense! Start Munson!

Speaking of offense... One thing that I found out while researching this post is that pitcher, Chris Sampson is hitting .405 at Round Rock, with 15 hits in 37 at-bats. Maybe the Astros should pull him up to spot start and pinch hit!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Roger Clemens and My Mom

Watched the Cubs-Astros game Tuesday night, and my girlfriend said it better than anyone on the team has, saying
"they look like they're just going through the motions, they're not playing with any passion."

Right now it doesn't matter if it's Clemens, Oswalt, or my Mom on the mound, they'd still lose most of the games they lose due to the offense. The pitchers can allow 3 runs or 20, and if the offense keeps it up, they'd lose both those games.

A large number of the team is in purgatory, not knowing if they'll be traded or benched or get a spot in the lineup. No consistency. The Astros are spending too much money on pitching to not have a decent offense. What teams have relied on rookies and young guys to help them win at the Major League level? Well this year, the Red Sox, Yankess, Tigers, Cardinals, Braves, even the Marlins, Reds, A's., Brewers. The Astros keep hanging on so they end up with 27 year old rookies, and won't pull up a younger player out of fear?

Hirsh is doing good in AAA because he WANTS a spot on the Major League roster, not because he wants to look good playing AAA. Same with Pence. And Luke Scott. A young player needs some time to develop, and the younger, the better shot they have.

You have to back up the pitching.

¿dónde está el jefe?

well if the jefe ain't going to post, then I will. Making this a record 8th straight post in a row from the guy that doesn't work for a newspaper. He was at the game last night where Clemens got just enough run support to get his 2nd win. Roger struck out 5 and didn't allow a runner to get past 2nd base in his 6 innings. Trevor Miller, who threw a total of 2 pitches, gave up a 2-run dinger to Todd Walker in the 8th and was quickly yanked. The Astros actually scored an insurance run in the top of the 9th and Lidge got the save, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced. Oh, and by the way, Craig Biggio hit a home run to lead off the game, the 49th time he's done that in his career.

The day game today features Andy Pettitte vs. Carlos Zambrano. Z has been great this year as usual and is on his way to 200 Ks for the 2nd straight season. but the Astros offense is sniffing at daylight and may, just may be able to score enough runs to get Pettitte to 9-9.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Trip to Wrigleyville

Astros took only 2 games from the Marlins and stand 8 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central and 4 games back of the Wild Card. Not really progress. The lineup yesterday featured Bruntlett starting in right field. I would have liked to see Luke Scott get the start over Bruntlett maybe, since he's on the team now and played left-field in Round Rock So far this year, Scott has had 3 at-bats and 1 hit. No game today. Next up is a 3-game series at Wrigley against Your Chicago Cubs. Here are the matchups...

---Matchups--- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
Tuesday:
Roy-O (6-6, 3.06, 85, 24) vs. Carlos Marmol (2-3, 4.23, 33, 23)
Wednesday:
Clemens (1-3, 2.96, 22, 8) vs. Greg Maddux (7-10, 4.99, 68, 22)
Thursday:
Pettitte (8-9, 4.99, 102, 45) vs. Carlos Zambrano (9-3, 3.23, 131, 72)

The Cubs have the worst home record in baseball at
15-27. Go get us another sweep boys!

Friday, July 14, 2006

2nite Not So Good

The Jefe is in sunny San Diego for a few days, so it looks like I'll have to cover writing for a little bit. He's at the Braves/Padres game tonight, which is currently tied at 8 in the bottom of the 7th. That game features back-to-back homers from the Joneses in the first inning, another dinger by Chipper, and a 3-run HR by Piazza. 7 home runs in the game so far. Chris Young got rocked with 7 earned runs in 3 innings.

As for the Astros, not so much offense tonight. Clemens gave up a 2-run dinger in the 2nd to Marlins's CF Reggie Abercrombie. Meanwhile, the Astros were no-hit until Willy T's single in the 6th. They were held to 4 hits total, with the only run coming from Lance, as usual. Lance leads the NL in RBI with 80 while playing on a team that's 10th in the NL in run scored. The team that's scored the least runs in the NL? Again, Your Chicago Cubs. The Padres are 2nd to last, but have scored 36 more runs than the Cubs. Lance's RBI came with 2 outs in the 9th, and Aubrey Huff killed the rally by striking out to end the game.

Same old story for Clemens, no run support, and he gets his 3rd loss of the season. Maybe they should give Andy Pettitte some support because with his 5.28 ERA, he'll need it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

So far so good!

Didn't get to watch the game tonight. I was at my co-ed softball game. We won! ...kind of. It's a beer league, so no one really pays keeps score. Not even the umpire. At the end of an inning, my team had the score at 9-6, and the other team had 8-6. We kept playing dispite the dispute, and in the bottom of the last inning, we're up by 2 or 1, depending on how you see it. They've got a man on 3rd base. 2 outs. Ground ball to 2nd, bad throw to me at first. I end up on my ass in fair territory and the batter heads for 2nd. I throw from my ass to second base to get the last out. But the runner on 3rd scored. We either won by 1 or tied. We say we won. Kickass.

But when I got back home I saw that the Huff Experiment is working so far. Roy-O kept the Marlins at bay, only allowing a HR to Mike Jacobs in the 6th. But he didn't get the win. The game was all tied up until the 8th, when Willy T and Burke got on base. Berkman continued to be an image of clutch-ness and plated Willy T with a single. Aubrey knocked a 3-run dinger in his 4th at bat as a National Leaguer.

That works. The bullpen held the lead this time and the 'Stros win 5-1. Lidge pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning with 2 Ks. It's a good start for Huff who, like me, he was born in Ohio but went to high school and (junior) college in Texas. I'm liking this more and more.

Other news? Morgan Ensberg went on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder contusion. He will get the rest he obviously needs and Luke Scott has been called up from AAA Round Rock. I've heard good things about him and hope he gets a chance to contribute. In 87 games for the Express, Luke's batting .299 with 20 HR and 63 RBI (52 BB and 66 Ks too).

That's all for now. I'm about to go make shrimp for dinner. The Astros feasted on seafood tonight and so shall I!

Will Huffing Get the Astros HIGH?

Tonight begins the Great Aubrey Huff Experiment of 2006. My brother-in-law played ball with Huff in Junior College, I believe. So, I'm kind of excited for him to join the team. He may have been the best player available that Purpura could get without giving up tons of minor league talent. To make room for Huff, Jason Lane was demoted to AAA Round Rock, and barring injury, he should stay there.

In other Astros news, they fired hitting coach Gary Gaetti over the break, and promoted minor league hitting coordinator Sean Berry. The Astros are tied for the worst batting average in the NL with the Phillies, and tied with the Padres for 2nd worst slugging percentage in the NL. The team in last place in SLG? Your Chicago Cubs. I'm not sure if Gaetti was the problem, but it can't hurt to have someone new in there. New ideas, shake things up...

Next up is a 4-spot in Miami against the Mighty Florida Marlins. The Astros seek to end a 3-game losing streak, which shall not be discussed. That trip to Houston is dead to me.

---Matchups--- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
Thursday: Roy-O (6-6, 3.15, 81, 24) vs. Dontrelle Willis (6-7, 3.94, 76, 39)
Friday: Pettitte (7-9, 5.28, 92, 43) vs. Anibal Sánchez (1-0, 6.60, 8, 7)
Saturday: Clemens (1-2, 2.82, 15, 8) vs.
Josh Johnson (8-4, 2.21, 74, 42)
Sunday: Buchholz (6-6, 5.21, 64, 24) vs.
Scott Olsen (6-4, 4.24, 79, 38)

Astros are currently 6 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central, and 3.5 games back for the Wild Card. Time for a rebound!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Astros trade for Aubrey Huff

Astros traded away minor-league pitcher Mitch Talbot and shortstop Ben Zobrist for Devil Rays 3B/OF Aubrey Huff. Huff had a ridicusouly slow start this year, but has brought up his average to .283 with 8 HR and 28 RBI. Not great, but he's usually better in the 2nd half. Career batting .273 before the break and .303 after. He was batting .176 in April and May, but .367 since.

So, this isn't an overwhelming move by any stretch of the imagination, but the Astros added a solid hitter without giving up Hirsh, Pence, Burke, Lane or Willy T. Aubrey should be able to contribute now, but what does this mean for the lineup? If Huff is in, who's out?

Likely it will be Morgan Ensberg, who has been horrible in June and July. In those 2 months he's 13/80, batting .163 with 2 dingers and 8 RBI. So we're looking at a potential lineup of...

Biggio/Willy T
Lamb
Burke
Berkman
Huff
Preston K
Ausmus/Munson
Everett
Pitcher

Well, I don't know what I think really. But Huff should be an upgrade over Jason Lane and the current Ensberg we're seeing. I guess

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mmmmwwwarrrrgggg, mlb.tv sucks sucks sucks

I, like many others, paid Major League Baseball to watch games live on mlb.tv. I like to watch games at work and guess what. The All-Star game is &%$#%$ BLACKED OUT.

Thanks MLB.

Astros Future & All-Star Game

So, if you watched the beginning of the futures game on Sunday, you got to see Jason Hirsh starting the game on the mound and Hunter Pence starting in right field. Hirsh pitched a scoreless first inning, allowing a single to Joey Votto. Hirsh then struck out Joel Guzman to end the inning. He's struck out 99 in 110.1 innings pitched for the AAA Round Rock Express. He's 10-2 with a 2.28 ERA. Hunter Pence from the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, went 1 for 3 with 1 RBI and a run. He's batting .287 with 20 HR and 63 RBI in 83 games.

Berkman took part in the Home Run Derby last night, and only managed to hit 3 HR, and didn't get out of the first round. Neither Berkman or Roy-O are starting tonight in the All-Star, but if mlb.tv allows me to watch the game tonight, I'll get to see what they are able to do. There's alot of talk about the AL being superior to the NL, and tonight lead by the 'Stache, can they get a win and home field advantage for the Series?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dear Dirty Hit Mike

Well, that was a good $25 well spent at the bar with a chicken sandwich and free beers and shots. About half my beers were free thanks to an empty bar except for 4 other people, and let me tell you, it does NOT help the Lidgeidisis. That is pronounced Lidge-a-die-sys. Yup.
At least one of the people's there, a guy named Gunnar, had a very very hot girlfriend who kept talking and flirting with me.
Main goal was not get punched in the face. SUCCESS!!!
Oh, wait, did the Astros lose tonight? Did the moon hang near the Earth? Thought so.

In the second half, if i see ONE lineup that does not go Leadoff hitter (Willy T or Biggio), Lamb, Burke, Berkman I will spaz. As far as Preston, he is who he is, and he wasn't meant to carry an offense behind Berkman, yet he has to now.

Tim Purpura, GET A BAT! Jason Lane Experiment 2.0 is OVER.

At least my liver is not as hammered as a Brad Lidge pitch. Right?

God dude, grow a pair. Stop walking guys and hoping for a win. Friggin poooos.


So to recap, the Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals are all in front of Houston. And none of them have Roger Clemens, or Roy YOUNG Oswalt. Or the depth of young talent to trade for a solid player.

That's SOLID player, not talented and might one day hopefully possibly maybe one day down the road break out of being a loser and succeed player.

Oh man.

It hurts.

wtf people? seriously...

Alright, so I made the trip today to Houston and back to see Roger Clemens pitch against the reigning NL Central Champion St. Louis Cardinals. About 6 hours of driving roundtrip for a meal and some baseball, and it couldn't have gone worse. Seriously...

First the game.

We got inside The Juice Box early enough to watch the end of the Cardinals batting practice. Got to see some of Pujols, he's good. Anyway, Roger dug his own hole tonight, but the Astros were able to get the game tied with the consistent greatness of Lance Berkman and a 3-run dinger from the man they call Biggio.

In the bottom of the 7th, Berkman knocked in his 2nd and 3rd runs of the night to give the Astros a 2-run lead. But there was something before Lance's RBI single that I need to mention. After Orlando Palmero walked and Biggio was beaned for the 279th time in his career, Lamb comes to the plate, with no outs, and squares around to bunt. El Jefe wrote Wednesday about a similar zero out bunt attempt by Burke. What is the 'Stache trying to do with these unnecessary sac bunts? Lamb has been the 2nd best hitter on the team recently. In the last month, Lamb's batting .320 with 5 HR and 17 RBI. If the concern was grounding into a double play with a man on first, Lamb has only grounded into 1 double play this season in 192 at bats. During the previous 2 seasons, Lamb's gounded into 14 double plays in exactly 600 at bats. I understand the reasons for sacrificing the runners over to be (1) when the batter stinks and you have no confidence that he'll get a hit or (2) when you absolutely need a run, NOW, and will sacrifice that first out to set up a sacrifice fly or an easy score. But Lamb's hitting as well as anyone. Let him hit. Luckily, he couldn't lay down a bunt well enough, and got 2 strikes on foul balls. So he had to swing, and what do you know... he got a single. He didn't knock in any runs, but now the bases are loaded, not outs. STOP trying to sacrifice that first out, 'Stache. I would understand if a double play machine like Ausmus (11 GIDP this season, 30 in the previous 2 seasons) or a pitcher was at the plate, but not Lamb or Burke. Berkman was able to get the lead back. It didn't last.

Which brings us to Brad Lidge's 4th blown save of the season. I won't say much, but Lidge got the first 2 outs, and the Juice Box was rocking. Then Scott Spiezio of all people quiets the place with a solo dinger. Spiezio! A single by Duncan, a walk to Eckstein and a single by Miles ties it up. In a matter of minutes everything went sour.

Isringhausen pitched the 9th and got Willy, Lane (batting for Lidge) and Lamb out in order. What happened next blew my mind. I looked at the score board and saw "44 R. Oswalt" replace "16 J. Lane" in the lineup. Now, I understand why Garner went for Roy. He hadn't pitched since Wednesday. He won't pitch again until Tuesday's All-Star game, and is the best pitcher they had available. With Albert Pujols leading off in the 10th, you want your best guy out there to face him. But, apparently Pujols owns Astros pitching in the Juice Box. As soon as Pujol's bat made contact with Roy's first pitch, I knew it was gone and muttered, "That's game." I knew it was over, and it felt like everyone else did too. I've got Roy-O in one of my fantasy baseball leagues, and it's a good thing he was on the bench today, cause I am glad my team didn't get hit with that loss tonight. The Astros sure did.

Now, I know this is supposed to be a sports blog, not personal, but I figure my trip to the game today is Astros-related enough for me to share some details with our loyal readers (that's you, Habeab). Today was a terrible day, and not just for the Astros. Before the game, I stepped down to an empty row of seats to go get some beers and my shorts ripped in the crotch. I visited the Astros swag store near our seats and the main store downstairs, but apparently the entire Astros organization is sold out of pants. Then the Astros lose. I get back to my car, and I've got a parking ticket. Looks like the area where I have parked before isn't a legal place to park anymore. Then on the ride back to Austin, my car starts making fun griding noises in Giddings. I made it back home in one piece and managed to stay up to write this long thing.

C. Carpenter vs. A. Pettitte tomorrow night. Go team!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

CG Loss for Roy.... Again!

Put away the brooms and curb your excitement of winning 6 in a row against the lowly Cubbies. The Astros got shut out for the 6th time this season last night, 2nd time by the Cubs. El Jefe covered the problems with last night's game already, the 'stache's no confidence sac bunt by Burke, no nuts to have Willy do what he does best, run fast.

Poor Roy-O. Two complete games losses back-to-back. His last start, on June 30th, Roy gave up 3 runs over 8 innning at Texas, but the Astros could only score 1 run against Padilla. Check this out... Roy's last two starts: 17 IP, 4 earned runs, 11K, 4 BB and TWO LOSSES. In those two games, the offense manged to only score 1 run. It's not only Roger who's getting no run support~

Next up is a 4-spot against the reigning NL Central Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

---Matchups--- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)

Thursday: Ponson (4-3, 5.60, 29, 25) vs. Buccholz (5-6, 5.36, 61, 23)
Friday: Marquis (10-6, 5.78, 50, 40) vs. Wandy (9-5, 4.97, 66, 47)
Saturday: Reyes (1-3, 3.30, 22, 9) vs. Clemens (1-2, 2.76, 12, 7)
Sunday: Carpenter (7-4, 2.88, 90, 27) vs. Pettitte (7-9, 5.37, 84, 42)


The Astros are only 4 games behind the Cards, but the Reds and Brew Crew are within 4 games of the lead as well. The Cards haven't created a huge lead like they have in previous years, and the NL Central is up for grabs. If the Astros sweep the Cards, and the Reds and Brews lose out, the Astros can be in first place it the Central just in time for the All-Star break. How's that for optimisim?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The ZERO OUTS sac-bunt is SACK-LESS

A sacrifice bunt with no outs and man on second is the baseball equivalent of premature ejaculation. There is no satifaction.

With 0 outs, and a lead-0ff double mind you, The 'Stache calls for Chris "two hits in the game" Burke to sac-bunt Biggio to THIRD BASE!!
This means that either Biggio is completely incapable of scoring from second with 0 outs, or that Chris Burke is completely incapable of driving in a run. Which is it 'stache??????
Why would you give an out away to a pitcher who just gave up a lead-off hit?? His confidence is shaken by the almost homerun, and Burke is hot in the game. Of course, Biggio does not score.

Furthermore, the 'stache depends on Burke to drive home a run from third base with one out in the 9th inning right after showing ZERO confidence in him in a similar situation. Gee, you think Burke feels good about his chances, or that he is not capable of knocking in a run because he wasn't given the chance earlier on. It's a home game, why play for the TIE????

NO MORE SAC BUNTS!!! CHRIST!!!!!! Unless it's the slowest guy at first, there is no reason to bunt a guy from 2nd to 3rd with ZERO outs!!!

And by the way, is Morgan Ensberg going to get a hit anytime in the next month? How about an RBI or a sac-fly with a man on?? Noooo, let's just keep getting walks. I love that he has a great eye, but you know, the point of the game is to, um, you know, HIT the ball.

So much anger right now...can't seem to form functional thoughts...hey I know, howsabout the Astros finally FINALLY climb to .500, and then get SHUTOUT by a rookie with a 5+ ERA who didn't even dominate. awesome. Makes perfect sense, let's kill the momentum. Now, I am not saying all is lost, they are still doing OK, but a chance to sweep against a ROOKIE pitcher with ROY YOUNG on the hill and this BS#*&#*&$*$???? With the Cards coming up????

This one is on you Phil Garner, AKA the 'stache, because you had no confidence or faith that Burke, one of your best hitters, could do anything with the bat with Biggio on 2nd base other than sac-bunt. Way to give Marshall confidence and an out without him having to earn it.

And why wasn't Willy T stealing second base BEFORE Biggio's single in the 9th?? Isn't that his specialty? He scores on the single if you let him run. STOP WITH THE RED LIGHT!!!

GRAAARRRGGH!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lucky Number 7

Astros win again today 7-2, after a stable but uneasy outing from Pettitte. Won last night 7-2 as well. My favorite stat from today's box score is the Astros 8 walks. I also like Morgan's line. 0 for 2, 2 BB, 2 runs, no Ks. Getting on base and scoring. He should show Willy T what's up because Taveras struck out thrice today. One more than resident Whiffologist Preston K Wilson IV. In fact, the only time Willy reached base was when he was beaned in the 3rd. He scored a run, so I'll let it slide. this time...

But Lamb was the MVP today. He went 2-3, 3 RBI, and 2 walks. Start him everyday. Somewhere, anywhere. Ride out the hotness for sure.

Astros have won 4 in a row, and look to make it 5 tomorrow night and complete the sweep of your Chicago Cubs. Sean Marshall vs. Roy-O. Advantage Astros!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mike's Long-Ass GameLog

So much for Roger not getting any run support. Biggio leads off with a HR to give Roger an early lead, albeit a small one. Berkman doubles the lead with another solo HR in the first, a damn fine start. Both HRs were into or damn close to the Crawford Boxes. Way to eye the short porch, fellas. Preston K Wilson IV strikes out, as expected, to end the first.

Roger gives up a dinger to Jacque "Sucques" Jones to cut the lead in half. Roger needs to be careful, he should know that he likely won't be seeing much more run support than he's got now.

Ensberg & Ausmus raised their OBP by walking to open the bottom of the 2nd. Only to be followed up by Everett popping out, Clemens sacrificing the runners up a base, and Biggio flying out to left. Through 2 innings, 3 hits, 3 HR.

Preston K ran into the scoreboard of the Crawford boxes going back for a Juan Pierre double. Running backwards, he hit the wall earlier than he was expecting. Looks like that hurt a little, yet he wasn't charged for the error. DAMN, Everett made a heck of a play behind 2nd base on a chopper up the middle to get Roger out of the inning. That's why he needs to be out there. That would have been a run with the speedy Pierre on 2nd. With 2 outs, Pierre was running on contact and would have easily scored. Way to go Chris, I mean, Adam Everett! Now, just learn to slap singles and we'll be great friends...

1-2-3 for Willy, Lamb and Berkman in the bottom of the 3rd. Cubs 2B, 3B and SS each got to handle a ground ball that inning. Way to get everyone involved.

Jacque walqued in the 4th, and then stole 2nd. Barrett walked and Jacque scored to tie the game on a Pagan single. Ausmus made a mighty fine play on a weak grounder by Cedeno to end the inning. Well, at least the Cubs aren't ahead, but offense, c'mon offense. Can they score more runs? Apparently 2 won't be enough tonight.

Yahoo's live box score shows Clemens at 92 pitches already through 4 innings. So far Roger's thrown more pitches for strikes (55) than Marmol has thrown total (49). Boy, I hope that's wrong. If it is not, that's a bad sign.

Preston K gets a double to open the bottom of 4, and Ensberg walks again. This is what I want to see, folks on base. Cause some tension, make Marmol pitch. Granted, he'll be pitching to Ausmus, Everett and Clemens next. And almost on cue, Ausmus grounds into a double play. Everett is intentionally walked to get to Clemens. Clemens had a pretty good at bat, talking pitches and working the count full before walking. Good eye, Roger! Biggio up with bases loaded, lines out to 3rd. Five base runners this inning and no runs to show for it. Good, go Astros!

Ok, so after Marmol's 4th inning, he's up to 76 pitches. But Roger will go above 100 pitches in the 5th and likely won't be back after that. Top 5, Pierre triples on a fly ball to center that Willy T dove at. Damn, Willy got close to that one, the ball bounced off his wrist as he dove. Walker fouled out and Derek Lee walked. Then Clemens was visited by bench coach Cecil Cooper, instead of the usual visit by pitching coach, Jim Hickey. I can't hear the games at work, so don't know if anythings up with that. Regardless, it worked. Armpit Ramirez grounds out to end the inning.

So out of that inning ok, but is anyone else doubting that the Astros will score this inning and hold that lead so that Clemens gets his first win of the season? He's up to 115 pitches and I would be surprised to see him back in the 6th. This is his last chance for the win. At least he won't get his 3rd loss if he exits the game.

Willy T flies out. Lamb doubles to the gap in left-center. Berkman, the only true offensive threat the Astros have, is intentionally walked to set up the double play. Haha, Preston K doubles in Lamb and moves Berkman to 3rd. Ensberg walks for the 3rd time today to load the bases. That's all for Marmol. Time for a pitching change. Ausmus grounds out to score Berkman. Astros up 4-2! Everett Ks to end the inning. Maybe Clemens will get his 1st win after all. It's up to the bullpen now.

Yup, no more Roger. Springer comes in for the top of the 6th. I'm a little worried about the bullpen holding a 2-run lead through the 4 remaining innings. But Springer gets the Cubs to go 1-2-3. Bottom 6, Biggio singles, Willy T was beaned. Dusty brings in another pitcher, Will Ohman. Berkman knocks a 3-run HR. OH MAN, how's that for some offense? Astros up 7-2. Roger, get ready for a win!

National Homecoming

Never a better time to see Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros on the schedule than right now.
With Roger, Pettitte, and Oswalt slated to go, the Stros should absolutely sweep this series. Gotta defend the home, especially with the laughable (not lovable) Cubs coming to town.
Come on!

I'm not sure who was in more shock last night after watching the drubbing the Astros gave the Rangers, a 9-5 win, me or Roger. The Rocket is pitching today and I am sure he's muttering to himself and ready to kill if the Astros get blanked tonight. IF they do, it's 100% mental, and that is on the 'Stache for letting his OWN players be intimidated by Roger. UNACCEPTABLE.

Speaking of drubbing, the offense is this good, they just generally don't believe it. I loved that the lineup was hitting only singles and doubles last night, that leads to contagious confidence at the plate.
Confidence and Stability go hand in hand, and that is proving very true. Leading to the 'stache's tough questions coming up without the DH anymore, meaning he needs to keep sitting Lane, keep playing Lamb EVERY day, and find a way to get Willy T and Burke in the lineup. Good things seem to happen with Willy in.
The options:

-Burke plays second 2-3 days of the week, and CF 3-4 days, and possibly SS 1-2 days.
-Willy T plays CF at LEAST 4 days a week, his glove is amazing and he is finding his game.
-Biggio plays 5 days a week at 2B.
-Lamb at 1B 6 days, Berkman in RF 5-6 days and moving to 1B once, with Lamb spelling Ensberg at 3B 1-2 days. Berkman's knee seems to be getting stronger with him in the OF, meaning his bat will stay hot.
-Ensberg and Preston look comfy in the 3 and 5 spots (at least the last two days), and the middle of the order needs that stability.
-Munson has to catch 2-3 days a week, Ausmus might as well not swing anymore and pray for walks.

Finally, Trevor Miller looked sharp, very sharp last night. Where in the hell did that come from? Was it facing Rangers' hitters mired in slumps, or has it figured something out?

Let's get those Patriotic Brooms ready, as a sweep right now could pull the Astros within 2-3 games of first with some mo' in these last series before the break.

Astros Got the Boot!

Astros took 2 of 3 from the Rangers in Arlington over the weekend. Scoring 16 of 17 of their total runs in the last 2 games. And they won the Silver Boot, whoop dee doo. Next up are the Cubs at home. The Astros are 5-1 against the Cubbies so far this year. Time to keep scoring runs...

Matchups
Tonight: Marmol (1-2 4.18 ERA, 28 K 11 BB) vs. Clemens (0-2, 2.38 ERA, 7 K, 4 BB)
Tomorrow: Prior (0-3, 9.00 ERA, 15 K, 6 BB) vs. Pettitte (6-9, 5.58 ERA, 81 K, 38 BB)
Wednesday: Marshall (4-7, 5.19 ERA, 59 K, 42 BB) vs. Roy-O (6-4, 3.27 ERA, 74 K 22 BB)


I like the looks of those pitching matchups. Pettitte against Prior doesn't have the ring one would have thought at the beginning of the season, but the Astros should have the pitching advantage in every game in this series. Again, it will come down to the offense.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

ROY Young

Ataboy Roy!

Minus the overt intensity of Roger Clemens or Jeff Kent, or a rock like Jeff Bagwell, I've been hoping that someone in the Astros clubhouse would stand up and give the team a swift metal boot kick to the arse. Roy said all the right things, and though it's just been one game, the Astros seemed to have a lot more zip and confidence Saturday.

Every season it seems Roy just dominates except for a couple games he randomly gives up a five-run inning. He should have 10 wins at least by now, and him and Clemens have every right to poke the hot end at the Astros hitters because they are getting the job done.

Will this be the turnaround? The stache gets shaved out of a game along with Berkman, while Mike Lamb refuses to sit on the bench ever again. Roy says the right things, like don't worry just go out and play how you play. Preston is on the verge of .300 and really, if he keeps driving in runs, I am not concerned with dingers! And though Burke is thriving in the 3 hole and Lamb in the 2 spot, Ensberg seems to do very well when in front of Berkman (who doesn't thrive in front of him?). Yet Burke shouldn't be hitting 5, so maybe he hits sixth as someone who can get on and create something at the bottom.

After the 7-0 win over Texas, the catapult might be stretching back and ready to zip forward. Stability and confidence go hand in hand, and the N.L. is completey open except for the Mets.
It's time to pay the price! (That means you Cincy and St. Louis)