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Archive for the ‘Astros baseball’ Category

11/1/14: As I Stare Out The Window, Wait For Spring And Hate The DH

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Well, it has now been 2 years since my divorce from the Astros, since Crane took over and took the team to the DH league and down the drain. Of course, the games aren’t visible to the vast majority of Texans, or even Houstonians, and it is hard to keep interest in the ex you hate for leaving you when you never see em.

Last week, the kidsss, after informing me that they are now too Old to go out Halloweening like babies, changed their minds when they suddenly realized they wouldn’t be getting any goodies, and that dressing up in costumes is FUN!!!!  So Da Bull, now much bigger than I am, nonchalantly asked me if I had any old Astros caps, and if his Daddy had any old Astros t-shirts, but I didn’t say more than uh hunh until he asked me if I have my glove around somewhere – he was gonna dress up as an Astros fan – sort of like a zombie, only more colorful. THAT caught my attention, and I stared at him. He said, defensively, well, you don’t want it any more and I said I DO TOO!!!

I mean, it is not that I still don’t love baseball, because I do. I still can’t shut up about it and find some other interesting sport to absorb me, like men’s gymnastics. I follow all the ex-Stros and cheer for the seriously underpaid Jose Altuve, the non-prospect who turned out to be better than all the pimpees, and Dallas Keuchel, an afterthought in the draft and another non-pimpee, who won the Fielding Bible award this year.

And I still avoid, if I can, driving on the Southwest Freeway where it merges with 288, because it still hurts to see the ballpark.

I was told by someone who knows, that it was the players who demanded, even though it is not in the CBA, that Bud put the Astros into the DH league. I would guess that it is because they figured that someone who plays DH would earn more than the last guy in the bullpen or the 5th OF, or utility IF. Which is really not true these days, because guys like David Ortiz and Victor Martinez are the rare exceptions to the DH, as most DHs are just regular position players who are getting a day’s rest from fielding. Every single ballplayer I have ever talked to, with one exception, HATES the DH. But as with everything else, money talks.

I have been asked many times why I despise the DH and consider it the worst kind of cheating in baseball (besides players/managers/coaches betting on baseball). It’s very simple, really.

Baseball is a game of life. Baseball is both an individual sport and a team sport. A player HAS to play his position and have his chance at bat.  EVERYONE has his chance, no matter how bad he is. He matters.

AND he matters because baseball is not merely a game of failure, but of each individual learning how to adjust to failure and each individual working with other individuals to try to see that one player’s strengths and weaknesses are compensated as best possible with the strengths and weaknesses of others.

Once a player is removed from the game, he is gone for good, replaced by another, who has HIS strengths and weaknesses. It is simply dishonest to replace one player’s plate appearances with a pinch hitter who is never removed. True, most pitchers can’t hit, and do not work for hours in the batting cage, honing their swing.  Their lousiness at hitting is one aspect of team weakness, although youneverknow, he just might drive in the only runs. The decision of whether or not to remove him and replace him with a better hitter, then worse pitcher, is part of the game. It is, in fact, the essence of what the game is all about.

The DH is a pretense that one player really doesn’t count. That every man does NOT have his chance at bat. It ruins the basic premise of the game. The idea is not to have the best pitcher against the best hitter; it is that every man must take his chance, sometimes against what looks like insuperable odds, and do his best, because youneverknows, he might could win this time, regardless of what the strat card says his chances are.

The DH league, by the way, is certainly no longer the superior league, in spite of the payroll differences. For whatever reasons, the ball, the bats, the strike zone, the string of endless power pitcher relievers, overall strikeouts are up, walks and batting averages are down, and the DH (excluding Ortiz and Martinez) doesn’t create much of a gap in the BA/OPS between the NL and DH league. The media and fans wanted 70s era baseball back (minus Reggie!!!!!) and they got their wish. Thank you Bud.

Oh yeah – NO, Little Boy did not get my glove. He went as Frankenstein. After he got back, he said that he should have worn a t-shirt with A-Rod’s name and number on it and taped a syringe to his butt and gone as FrankenRod. So much for him not paying any attention to baseball…

8/27/13: The Astros Will Rake In 99 MILLION in Profit This Year And No Reduction Of Ticket Prices Announced

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

You know how Those Greedy Players are the reason why ticket prices are so high and if only they were paid peanuts, the prices would come right down?

Forbes reported that the Astros Base Ball Club will be making 99 mill in profit this YEAR, approximately the amount that Jim Crane has made his entire CAREER. Naturally, the team denies this and says that surrrrrrre, they will spend money on players some other time. Meanwhile, the money just goes in Crane’s pocket.

But what REALLY grinds my butt is that instead of hearing from media how That Greedy Owner is making more money than the Yankees, and not lowering ticket prices, or any other way using the money to help charities or the community, it is FINE to not spend any money on the team because why spend money on veterans? Just accumulate a lot of cheap minor league players – that way, you can have a good CHEAP team.

Check out Craig Calcaterra , who I’ve known since he started writing Shysterball on the side when he was still a practicing attorney. This is all I hear.

Who thinks that Crane is saving that money and will spend it on player contracts? I will bet that over the next five years, not one cent of that money will be spent on long term contracts or reducing tuicket prices. Anyone else wanna bet?

Only good thing I can say about this year’s team is that a whole lot of guys, with even one day of major league time, will get health care for life. Too bad it doesn’t come out of Crane’s pocket.

6/6/13: Astros Pick Pitcher Mark Appel First Round On This 69th Anniversary Of D-Day

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Today is D-Day the Astros picked homeboy Mark Appel.  (I actually WAS gonna say – picked a fight with Boras, but I have a feeling that as long as they offer Appel more than the Pirates last year, they will git er done because Appel, I am sure, does not want to have to pitch for the Fort Worth River Cats or the Skeeters…) They COULD pay him 7 something mill if he got slot, which wouldn’t leave em real too much for the rest of the rounds. OR perhaps, because he’s a senior, he’ll be stuck with a much lower price tag. He doesn’t have to sign by the July 15th deadline, however, so he CAN interfere with the Astsros getting other picks signed if they don’t know how much they are going to have.

Last time the Astros had a first pick pitcher, it was Bogusevic, back in 2005. What a waste of the poor guy’s career.

Ah well…

The picking of pitchers as the first pick hasn’t gone real too well over time.

Very first pitcher to be picked first in the draft was homeboy David Clyde, LHP, by the Rangers in 1973, who basically took an 18 year old and let him rot. He was basically treated like crap by the veteran players, who, I guess, felt that treating newcomers who just might could improve your team, like something that crawled out of the sewer, was fun and right. For as much as O(ld Timers talk about BITGOD , one good thing is that no number one pick would be left on his own with a bunch of sadists in the majors. And people scream about teams coddling players.

1976 – Astros pick LHP Floyd Bannister who pitched for 16 years in the bigs – what I remember him for is being the father of Brian Bannister, a stat loving pitcher for the Royals, who failed in the Bigs and went to Japan. Anyway, the best thing Floyd did for the Astros was to get traded after 2 years for Craig Reynolds. He threw 253 innings, 88 and a 69 ERA+ in 1977 and 1978. He ended his career throwing 2388 innings of 102 ERA+ baseball. He did, to my surprise, actually have 10 solid years, in which he missed time in only 1 year and was selected for one ASG. He did not, however, have the stats expected from a #1 pick. But a 16 year career in MLB is nothing to sneeze at neither.

1981: Mariners picked RHP Mike Moore. (the first guy I actually remember and I remember him from the WS winning Canseco Athletics years.) He was called up for the start of the 82 season, pitched 6 years for the Mariners (not a good W-L record, but the Mariners were a last place team while he was there) starting 217 games, relieving in 10, and an ERA+ of 97 over 1457 IP. Kind of a Brett Myers without the wifebeating part. He signed with Oakland, helped pith them to a WS Ring, and came in #3 in the Cy Young voting, posted ERA+ of 142, 79, 129 and 90 – didn’t miss a start, threw 33 games/year minimum – 137 games total and 847 IP. That is value, even if he was only ace-like for one year. He then had 3 lousy years with the really lousy Tigers. Pretty decent career. Not an ace, certainly not a HOFer.

1983 – Twins pick Tim Belcher, RHP, who did not sign, and was picked AGAIN as the first pick in the January 84 draft (they used to do it twice a year) by the Yankees, signed, and was taken by the Athletics as Free Agent Compensation – interesting, I didn’t know they used to do the FA compensation thing that way. He was traded to the Dodgers midway thru the 87 season for reliever Rick Honeycutt, who turned out to be a critical piece of the bulpen for the As for several years. The Dodgers put him into the rotation later in the year and he threw 5 good games. He was an important part of the World Series team the next year – everyone remember Orel Hershiser and the consecutive socreless inning streak, but Belcher therw 170 innings of 112 ERA+ ball and won 2 WS games. He stayed with the Dodgers to the end of the 91 season – had a 118 ERA+ and threw 802 innings over 118 starts and 19 in relief. He never did that well again. He was traded to Cincy for Eric Davis (I remember that – it was him and Darryl Strawberry Coming Back Home, gonna create years of Champeeeens – um, no…) AAnyway, he spent the next 8 years as a journeyman, pitching for Cincy, KC, Angels, White Sox – had a career improvement late in his career for the Royals in 96 at age 34 – must have been steroids, hunh? and threw 238 innings of 128 ERA+ ball. All in all, not a bad career, came in 6th in the Cy Young voting in 88, no All Star appearances, NOT an ace, most certainly not a great player.

1988 – Padres pick Andy Benes, RHP. Another player who was a solid major leaguer, but certainly not an ace or a HOFer. He was called up the year after he was drafted, came in 5th in ROY voting. He pitched for the Padres over parts of 7 seasons, threw 182 starts (and 6 in relief) of 104 ERA+ ball, and was traded to the Mariners midway through the 95 season for their first Run To The Pennant – rememebr that? I actually do – it was Randy Johnson and Jay Buhner and Edgar and Junior Griffey and Alex Rodriguez (before he was hated for being Greedy) and threw 12 games of 82 ERA+ ball, but won 7 of the games because he had an incredible offense and defense behind him. He then signed as a FA with the Cards, and the usual Cards Magick with Old Pitchers came on and he had 2 really good years – 109 and 135 ERA+ ball over 230 and 177 innings, and  came in 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 97. He then signed on with Arizona in 98 back when they were buying every FA in sight, had 2 lousy years, went back to Saint Looey had 1 good, 1 lousy (injured) and 1 excellent finishing up his career year. He neded up throwing 2505 innings of 104 ERA+ ball over 387 starts with 16 games in relief. All in all, not a bad career.

1989 – Orioles pick Ben McDonald, RHP – oh man, I remember when he was picked. I remember 88 was the year of the Zer-OOOOOOOs with the 22 straight losses to starat the year. Ben McDonald was supposed to be the best college pitcher like EVAH. He pitched a few innings that year, was in the rotation in 90. He had a 157 ERA+ over 112 innings that year, but the next, had some injury and only threw 21 games. He was a full time starter the next 3 years, posting ERA+ of 94, 132, 123, but then the injury bug bit in 95, although he did post a 115 ERA+ again. He signed with the Brewers as a FA, threw 221 innings of 133 ERA+ ball, in 97, threw 21 games of 115 ERA+ ball, then blew out his shoulder and was OOB. He ended up with 1291 innings of 115 ERA+ ball, but never got a Cy young vote or an All Star bid. Of course, his W/L records were nothing to write home about because he always played for bad teams, but we all know that Wins got nothing to do with run support or fielding. He appears to have been a much beter pitcher than any of the earleir guys, but had a shortened career due to injury. Youneverknow…

1991 – Yankees pick LHP Brien Taylor, who is infamous for destroying his shoulder ina bar fight before he could pitch. He supposedly is the best pitcher who ever walked, according to Yankee legends Mystique and Aura.

1994 – Mets pick RHP Paul Wilson – his #1 comp on bbref is Tim Redding. Which tells you about his career. I don’t even remember him before he came to the Reds in 03, but he was highly touted, along with Jason Isringhausen and someone else whose name escapes me, as the Mets’ New Generation of Tom Seavers. He was called up in 96, did really lousy, was hurt for years, then dumped on the Rays for Bubba Trammell and Rick White. He threw 50 good innings in 2000, a bunch of mnediocre innings in 01 and 02 for a bad team, then signed with the Reds as a FA in 03 – threw 896 innings of 86 ERA+ ball over the next 3 years, and achieved his greatest hour of fame by charging the mound and getting his butt kicked by Kyle Fransworth. He really never recovered from all his injuries early in his career, and he did pitch for 6 years, but they certainly weren’t representative of what any first round pick should be, let alone the first pick. No ROY, All Star or Cy Young votes, naturally. He was a 5th starter on bad teams.

1996 – Pirates pick RHP Kris Benson, who was more famous for his loudmouth stripper wife than his pitching. He was called up in 99, did very well  2 years straight on a very terrible team – threw 197 and 211 innings of 113 and 121 ERA+ ball. UNfortunately, he blew out his elbow and really never recovered. He returned in 02, but was no longer sharp – and only had one year in which he pitched 200 innings again, 2004. He had 5 years between Pittsburgh, the Mets and Baltimore through 2006, was out for 2 years with more injuries, tried to come back with Texas in 09 and Arizone in 2010, but couldn’t. Who knows how good he could have been without injuries? Youneverknow…

1997 – Tigers pick RHP Matt Anderson, RH closer from Rice (yes, Berkman’s team.) First time a closer had been picked like this. Times change, hunh? Got called up in 98, did very well throwing 50 innings of 145 ERA+ ball, then ML hitters started hitting his straight 100 MPH FB and hitting it hard. It ain’t the speed, it’s the motion. It’s the location and ML hitters hit FB down the middle very hard and very far. He also had injury problems from 2002 on, and was up and down and on and off the DL, missed 04, tried and failed to come back with Coloroado in 05. FAIL. Drafting a closer as your FIRST PICK? Cmon, it’s not like there wasn’t any other decent player to be had. 

2002 – Pirates pick RHP Bryan Bullington (massive FAIL). Called up at the end of 05 and pitched 1.1 innings giving up 2 runs. The ONLY reason teams kept picking him up is because he was a first round pick – he had a couple of lousy innings with Cleveland, Toronto and KC before leaving for Japan in 2010, where he has done pretty well.

2006 – Royals pick RHP Luke Hochevar, who although he has been in the majors for 4 years, has, to put it mildly, really stunk up the joint. Even bigger FAIL than Bullington, because he has taken a roster spot that could have been given to someone who, like, doesn’t completely suck. He was originally picked in the 1st round of the 05 draft, but the Dodgers wouldn’t meet his demands, so he went and played indy ball, then the Royals picked him first, don’t ask me why. Boras was his agent and I remember all the, uh, negotiations. He had a cup of coffee in 07, then was put in the rotation in 08. He got sent down a few times as well over his first 3 years, but has spent most of his time int he majors. Here are his innings/ERA+ since 2008: 129/78; 143/68; 103/87; 198/87; 185/72. This year, they did not have to sign him as he is arb eligible, but for reasons known only to God they signed him to a 4+ mill contract and he’s thrown 21 innings in relief over 16 games in middle relief, and done quite well. 4 freaking mill a year for a 29 year old middle reliever. The pick was a FAIL. The signing him to this year’s contract was EPIC FAIL.

2007 – Rays take LHP David Price. So far, he’s the best pitcher taken first. Came up in 08, helped win them their first pennant in September/October, mostly in relief. Started 09 in AAA to delay the arb clock, then came up, joined the rotation, 23 games, 98 ERA+ ball over 128 innings. He’s been an All Star in 2010, 2011, 2012, Was #2 in the Cy Young voting in 2010, won it last year. Posted ERA+ of 149, 104 and 145 over 208, 224, 211 innings. Lost both games in the 2010 ALCS. Has been hurt and has not done well this year and has been on the DL for the past 3 weeks with “triceps strain” whatever that is – as of yet, he’s not been headed northwest to Dr. Andrews.

2009 – Nationals pick RHP Stephen Strasburg. Now I know all yall want to say that he’s the bestest. I will say that he had the most fuss, that is fer sher. Came up to a kabillion cameras in 2010, packed the parks, threw 12 games with an ERA+ of 129 over 68 innings, but no ROY votes, interestingly enough. You notice that this isn’t even 6 IP/GS. But the screaming was relentless. He got hurt and blew out his elbow after only 5 games in 2011 – Rob Dibble got hisself fired for insisting that Strasburg was a weenie who wouldn’t pitch with an owie. So he goes off for TJ, comes back in 2012, and the Nats have This Plan they’ve concocted with Scott Boras to only let him pitch 160 innings, then shut him down, no matter what. So they shut him down at 162 innings of 129 ERA+ ball, right on the nose, and insisted that no big deal, we got this great team, we gonna be winning year after year, no Stras in the playoffs, no Beeg Deal. Well, they didn’t et anywheres near the pennant, losing the NLDS, and this year, WITH Stras, who, by the way, is back on the DL with an owie in his side, they are a game under .500 and 8 games behind Chris Johnson and the Braves. Will be interesting to see if Stras turns into another Ben McDonald. Or maybe exceeds David Price. Youneverknow.

2010 – Pirates pick RHP Gerrit Cole, now age 22. He didn’t play in the minors at all in 2010 because he signed 1 minute before the deadline, so lots of $$$ but no playing baseball. He advanced thru AA last year, is doing fine at AAA – 12 GS with a 2.91 ERA/1.06 WHIP over 69 IP. BUT, he’s not averaging even 6 IP/GS. With the injury to Wandy, it is possible he might could get called up earlier than the Pirates had hoped, unless Charlie Morton pitches well after his rehab ends next week. Youneverknow…

As for Appel, all my scouty friends tell me he’s damm lucky because next year, he certainly wouldn’t be in anyone’s top 5. I’m hearing all kinds of stuff about how he’s gonna be in the rotation next year. Well, if he is, it’s because he’s good, not because Scott Boras demanded it as part of his contract – no major league contracts for draftees any more.

6/3/13: The Season Is 1/3 Over And The Astros Are Clinging To 2nd Place

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Marlins are giving em a run for the money – they just swept the Mets who just swept the Yankees. It’s baseball and youneverknow.

Haven’t heard from anyone yet about the draft – almost everyone I knew who had any connection to the Astros is long gone and the one person I do know I can’t ask. Very tough to say if they will pick Appel or someone else. These days, there isn’t a thing Scott Boras can do except tell his client to not sign, and they’ve closed all the loopholes with the indy leagues, so prospects don’t have any leverage unless they can threaten going to college or going to senior year. Appel already done the – won’t sign for 4 measly mill. Doubt the Stros are gonna pay him the entire slot, wouldn’t be surprised if they do what they did last year with Correa.

Speaking of draft, yall know that one the the Astros draft honchos is Kevin Goldstein, right? Well, back in the 09 draft, he screamed about how crazy the Braves were to draft Mike Minor, currently the staff ace, as their first rounder. He thought they should pounce on Alex White (now, like Brett Wallace, traded twice since being drafted, and on the DL after having TJ earlier this year) and Bobby Borchering, now out of baseball after having crapped out at AA. Interesting that the Astros traded for both of them as soon as Kev got here, hunh?

As for Chris Johnson – he’s doing great with the Braves this year – 147 PA, OPS+ 130, only 2 errors, 1.0 WAR, Runs Created (weighted/normalized to league etc) 137. Cost 2.3 mill.

Matt Dominguez – 208 PA, OPS+ 78, 5 errors, 0.1 WAR, wRC+ (the mathemtized kind) 76. Cost 0.5 mill.



Most awesomest stat of the month: in May, Cubs pitchers had more home runs than all the Dhs combined on the Royals. Actually, more than the ENTIRE Royals team.

The DH is teh EVULLLL.

Last night, the Jays walked the number 8 guy to pitch to the pitcher, who promptly hit A THREE RUN HOMER!!! It doesn’t get any better than that, except maybe Travis Wood hitting a grand slam to win the game or Clayton Kershaw hitting the homer that won him his shutout. 

Ah well.

Let’s check on the starters: I mean, the ones who are still here:

Bud Norris: 12 GS, 5 HR, 26 BB, 44 K over 69 IP. You notice that his K rat4e is significantly lower than it usually is – he’s been around 8 K/9, and he’s down to about 6. He’s had 10 games in which he’s given up 3 or fewer ER (only 8 with 3 or fewer runs) and 2 bad starts – one of 0.1 IP and 6 ER and one of 5 IP and 7 ER. He’s an Angels killer – must be the leftover Pujols effect – as one of my Cards friends says – now the Angels know how the Cards have felt for years.

Lucas Harrell: reminding me of Chris Sampson. Getting singled to death. Only Chris had the excuse of a lousy defense, after Adam Everett went down, Sampson’s ERA skyrocketed. 12 GS over 63.2 IP. 9 games over 5 IP – 2 with 4.1 IP and one with 1.2 IP (22 ER over those 3 alone – when you suck, you suck.) He only threw 6-7 innings in 4 games, and in those games he gave up 4 runs. Oakland killed him TWICE and Detroit once. One of my Athletics buds told me that the As are 103-61 over their last 162 games. Maybe Billy Beane’s magic has returned. Anyway, Lucas has given up 8 homers 37 walks and 35 K. He never was Mr Strikeout Person, but having your walks higher than your Ks is not good. And the walk thingy is not the umps (not like with AJ Burnett last night in which the HP ump absolutely refused to call ANYTHING inside over the plate a strike) fault. He has done better throwing to Corporan, and maybe Bo will let him pitch to the guy he is comfortable with.

I know we are all drooling over Jason Castro because of him hitting home runs, but he’s STILL a lousy receiver and has only thrown our 8 of 32 base stealers. Plus all the WP and passed balls. He doesn’t present a nice steady target behind the plate, neither. It’s so weird – I swear I remember him being really good at that when he first came up.

Erik Bedard: He threw 4 scoreless innings in relief his first appearance, then had a 4 inning scoreless start (was kept on a strict pitch count) then gave up 6 runs over 1/3 inning vs Oakland (something about that team) then had 4 straight lousy starts – 14.1 IP, 12 runs, then straightened himself out. Five straight starts of at least 5 IP, 29 IP, 27 H, 9 R/ER, 2 HR, 9 BB, 20 K. He got 4 ND – the bullpen lost 2 and won 2. He’s giving up fewer homers, fewer hits and fewer walks/9. Maybe he just needed some time to heal. 

Dallas Keuchel, put in the rotation after it was obvious that Jeff Peacock and Phil Humber had no business starting: he began the year as a reliever, 9 ER/13 R over 6 G. He has now started 5 games, has gone 6+ in each except for his appearance against (who else) Oakland, in which he game up 6 runs over 5.2 IP – hey, at least he lasted more than an inning, unlike some other guys we could name. 31.1 IP, 18 R/ER, 37 H, 4 HR, 9 BB, 20 K. Pretty good – at this point, he’s pitching better than Lucas Harrell, whoda think it? Same kind of pitcher – heavy sinkerball, getting groundballs works well unless sinker don’t sink or the balls have eyes – and it happens to GB pitchers.

Jordan Lyles, who pitched beyond lousy in Spring Training (unlike Peacock and Humber) which shows that you can’t always go by ST records. Was called up to start when suckage developed in Bedard/Peacock in the beginning of May. He has had 7 starts, only 1 bad start – 8 ER/4 IP vs the Rangers, has otherwise pitched at least 5 innings and given up 1 – 3 runs/start. Ignoring the Texas Start, that is 6 GS, 28 IP, 10 R/ER. This is amazing, considering the fact that he had pitched lousy in April at AAA, and considering that he wasn’t good at either the ML or AAA last year, neither. Nonetheless, over 32 IP, he has given up 4 HR, 12 BB, 23 K. Serious decrease in walk rate from last year. He’s only won 3 games, but should have won 3 more, except that the bullpen coughed up too many runs.

Phil Humber – had very good starts his first 3 appearances, lost because the offense gave him no runs, then he descended into suckage so massive that he couldn’t even help as a reliever and he was banished to AAA on May 11. Since then, he’s only thrown 7 innings over 4 games in relief and he has lousy stats.

Brad Peacock: who we traded Jed Lowrie for because someone on the Astros thinks that Peacock is an ace in waiting. He had 5 starts – lasted 4.1, 5, 4.1, 4.1, 3.1 innings – giving up 2,3,3,7 (vs Seattle??!!) and 5 runs. He had 2/3 inning as a reliever, giving up 3 runs, before he was sent to AAA, where he started 4 games, in which he didn’t exactly ROOL – 23 IP, 18 4 9 27 K and 12 ER. This adds up to a 4.98 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He got called back up when Edgar Gonzalez (himself not exactly any good) went on the DL at the end of May and since then, has had 2 appearances – 2.1 innings scoreless and 1.1 innings of 2 run ball (2 run homer).

They are probably going to keep him up here as a long reliever, which is too bad, seeing as how there are several relievers at AAA who are doing better:
unfortuately, they are 1 inning guys -
- Jose Valdez, the closer: 22 IP over 24.2 G with 12 saves:  18 h, 1 hr, 3 bb, 10 K, 6 ER: 2.19 ERA/1.12 WHIP (has been in majors before – did OK last year over 12 IP: 12 H, 1 HR, 8 BB, 10 K, 3 ER. I’m sure they don’t think he strikes out enough guys.
- Josh Zeid: 22.4 IP over 22 G: 15 H, 1 HR, 17 BB!!!! 29 K: 2.59 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
- Jason Stoffel: 17.2 IP over 13 G: 7 H, no HR, 6 BB, 14 K: 1.53 ERA/ 0.74 WHIP (he was the closer last year at AA, not sure why on earth it has taken so long for him to get promoted

Kevin Chapman has a high K rate, but also a high BB rate 20 BB/23 IP – hit rate is low, but WHIP is 1.66 because of that walk rate.

Alex Sogard just got called up, so he needs a few more innings. Chuckie Fick and Rhiner Cruz are both sucking. Spring Training stats are not necessarily predictive, you know…

Jarred Cosart is the only starter who isn’t sucking, now that Wes Musick is back on the DL. 12 G, 58.2 IP (remember that at the beginning of the year they did that – we have 10 SP and some of em are gonna do split shifts – thingy) 3.07 ERA/1.34 WHIP – and the WHIP is because of a high walk rate. Only 35 hits but 34 BB. K rate is acceptable, but not outstanding. And he has Jonathan Villar for a SS, who has 12 errors ALREADY over 55 games (not to mention his 60 K over 214 AB, too. He does lead the team with walks, at 17 – Jeezus.

Just like last year, the good pitchers are at AA. You know they aren’t calling up anyone early.


5/7/13: Astros Scrabble To The Bottom Of The Heap In Spite of Ch-ch-chchanges

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Gloriously lying at the very bottom of the heap at 9-24, envied by the Lorias, 2 games ahead, and the Cubs, 4 games ahead, the Astros Organization has sent Future Ace Brad Peacock to AAA to suck there while bringing up Jordan Lyles and his 5+ ERA at AAA to start – you see, he has been Tagged For Suck-cess. They sent Erik Bedard and his 8+ ERA (starting) back to the bullpen, haven’t said what they are going to do with Phil Humber and his 9+ ERA – probably a 9 ERA+ if it is even positive, which is doubtful. Rhiner Cruz went to AAA, which, by the way, he skipped because of being a Rule V last year, to re-locate his pitches.

To my surprise, they dumped Fernando EFF Martinez, his limp bat, dead weight legs and crappy glove. To my shock, they DFAd Rick Ankiel, Mr. Veteran Presence and his umpty strikeouts. He had the 4th highest OPS on the entire TEAM, which tells you where that team at. Brandon Laird got sent down, not DFAd, seeing as how he didn’t hit like Barry Lamar 2004 in his 28 at bats. At least he wasn’t released.

Trevor Crowe, who appears to be another AAAA guy, got called up, along with Jimmy Paredes, tearing up AAA pitching and, uh, “weak” on defense, and Julio Daniel Martinez, back off the DL.

You ask me how I know this stuff seeing as how I don’t care no mo. Well, it was on the Inter Nets and MLB, that’s how I know.

Number 2 son, the one who usually thinks things over before he asks and then before he answers (yes he IS male and yes he WAS born that way) has noticed that I watch Pirates games when Wandy is playing, Giants games when Hunter Pence is playing, Braves games when Evan Gattis is playing, Cards games when I’m at Mama’s. He asked me why I don’t watch the Astros no mo and I have told him that they aren’t on (our) TV and they don’t care about me so I don’t care about them.

He’s thought about this for several months now and so yesterday  he asks me – Mami, do you want to go to the ballpark for Mother’s Day – I mean, with us? So I asked him – are you asking me if I personally want to watch the Astros play baseball, let alone at the Box, or are you telling me that YOU want to watch baseball and are asking me to take you to a game. (Because that would be really something, seeing as how he and brothers have expressed disdain for baseball – except the backyard kind with Mami + Dogz + friends/cousins…) He thought about it. Came back and said, I wanna know if YOU want to watch them. I told him that if he and his brothers wanted to go, they could go with their Daddy and that I would do something different with them.

But I informed him that he and brothers had still better think of something to get me for Mothers’ Day. He thinks about this. How bout a Brandon Barnes t-shirt? he sez.

That boy – WHERE does he get this stuff?

OK, I told him – as long as you boyz make it your own selves – draw it on a plain t-shirt so as Crane won’t get a penny from it. You really hate him, dontchu, sez my kid. Nope, no hate, that’s giving him something and he ain’t gettin nothin from me, not even that. Kid is gettin big – give him somethin to think about.

Wonder whose jerseys they are pimping, besides Altuve, seeing as how the remainder of the roster is has beens, never weres and who’s thats. Doubtful that Barnes, unlike Backe, has his Jersey on the racks.

Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles goes 5 innings again – seems as if he’s not going to be allowed to go past the 5th again, in spite of the fact that he’s only thrown 82 pitches, he’s already made it past the #4 hitter for the 3rd time and the Astros bullpen is really bad AND he’s leading 6-3. After all that grousing about how the starters can’t go deep  into games, well, what is with pulling someone managing to not stink getting pulled? 4 hits,, 2 walks and 1 HR (all 3 runs scored)? Meanwhile, CJ Wilson is still pitching in the 7th. Looks really weird to see Uncle with a .231 BA – guess that bad foot is really affecting him. Natcherilly, him being macho n stuff – he can’t go on the DL and let it heal.

Glad to see Brandon Barnes getting some playing times, especially seeing as how he’s leading the team in OPS.

Watching the Cubs/Cards just to listen to Deshaeis, who, sorry to say, is better than Alan Ashby and whoever is broadcasting with him. Also to make sure Mama doesn’t have a stroke from blood pressure when Yadi Molina gets his fool self caught stealing third by Carlos Marmol to end the 8th with men on first and second and Kozma up.

Watching the Braves to see if Kimbrel is gonna blow his 3rd save in 5 games. Yep – 2 outs, 3-2 count, yet another homer, then a walkoff next hitter. Reminds me of Brad Lidge 06. Poor Medlen. It’s so funny – the Braves announcers are all hepped up about how fast Kimbrel throws – well, ML hitters hit straight FB even when they are 97/98. People get all hysterical about velocity. Braves bullpen has not been shut DOWN like it was last year.

Meanwhile, in the Astros minors:
at AAA, Jonathan Villar has a .814 OPS and 7 errors in 29 games – Paredes had 6 errors…
Elmore and Krauss are killing the ball. So, by the way, is Brett Wallace, who has a .996 OPS. Andy Simunic, playing 3B, one of the few Original Astro Minor Leaguers, hitting .340 – no power, but he has half as many walks as hits. The main catchers are Jason Jaramillo and Cody Clark, both over 30, neither hitting his weight. Too bad they gave away Chris Wallace.

As for pitchers, you know they’re doing that weird 75 pitch start thingy, so starters only have a couple of real starts, and expect to go only a few innings – I still don’t get the intelligence of doing that with pitchers in the high minors, but hey, whatevs.

Only starter who is pitching well is Jarred Cosart – 1.10 WHIP/2.63 ERA over 27.2 IP – Wes Musick did well, but he’s been shuffled off to the bullpen. Oberholzer has 18 ER/24 R over 21 IP. Ross Seaton has 22 ER/25 R over 21 IP. Kevin Chapman and Josh Zeid are pitching decently in relief – 1.24 WHIP and 1.35 WHIP respectively. Jose Valdez is closing – yeah, you remember him – he didn’t do that badly last year at the majors, 2.25 ERA/0.93 WHIP over 12 IP. He’s doing fine – 14.2 IP over 12 games, 1.84 WHIP and a 0.90 WHIP – more K than hits + walks.

At Corpus, the starters are pitching well – Tropeano, Foltynowicz (who, for some bizarre reason, was forced to start the year at Lancaster) Bobby Doran, Dave Martinez, Asher Wojciechowski. Ruben Alaniz and Matt Heidenrich.

Alex Sogard and Jason Stoffel are closing – guess they are swapping out on that one too. Sogard and Stoffel have both allowed a run, and Stoffel hasn’t allowed any walks. Actually, I was surprised that Stoffel didn’t get promoted this year, but youneverknow…

4/26/13: The Astros Make Themselves Available – Sort Of

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Last night, we got the news that the Astros RSN on Comcast is offering a 5 week free broadcast to all the OTHER networks, hoping to get enough eyeballs to try to pressure everyone else into agreeing to buy in at a cost of $3.40/subscriber added to the basic cable bill. RSNs do NOT want all the $$$ that is paid to them to become only part of a “sports package” that is separate from basic cable. You see, all the sports networks that come, or do NOT come with “basic” cable are responsible for a very hefty part of the cable bill seeing as how you don’t get a lower cable bill if you don’t want ANY sports channels.

No other carrier in Houston has taken them up on the “generous” offer, so at this point, I can’t watch em even if I wanted to.

It is gonna be a cold day in youknowwhere before all these RSNs agree to have anyone decide to buy their network independent of the cable bill because they make MUCH more money forcing everyone to pay for something whether or not they do want it. The college networks/conferences have caught on to this, too.

Anyway, I don’t want to watch DH ball when it is on Fox/ESPN, so I’m not gonna watch it if it IS free. Unless they are playing NL ball in a NL stadium.

Bud Selig, by the way, stated that he takes responsibility for destroying our NL franchise because he thinks that everything will be great because there will be this “great rivalry” with the Metroplex. It certainly didn’t develop in the least little bit with that dumbass “Silver Boot” crap, and it is not gonna develop with this silliness. Bud, by the way, is still thinking about a franchise in San Antonio. He is counting residents, not corporations or even people with money – they don’t have the $$$ to pay to build a stadium and the population is too poor to support a ML team. If he thinks people are going to drive down from Austin to watch a baseball game in San Antonio, he’s out of what is left of his mind.

As for the Astros, well, what is good is that there are a lot of guys who, with just one day in the major leagues, will receive health insurance for life. One of the very very few things that the MLBPA has done FOR the players in the past 20 years. Unfortunately, the new guys only receive the ML minimum each day they are on the 25 man roster. Guys like Brett Wallace, who signed a contract before the season began, unless he signed a split contract, receives the ML minimum.

I like this. The less amount of any profit stuffed into Crane’s pockets, the better. It’s not like he’s spending it on the TEAM in any way, you know.

At this point, the Astros are the worst team in the DH league at 7-14 (how did they win THAT many) but are tied with the Cubs and trailing the Padres (6-15) and the Marlins (5-17). That Jeffrey Loria – what a business GEEENYUSS. No one in the stands, no payroll to speak of, all that profit – AND, you notice, even with the lowered payroll, no tickets lower in price. All the people who scream about player salaries being the only cause of high ticket prices never bother to notice this little detail.

Here are the lucky guys who, this month, earned themselves free life insurance by getting called up from AAA: newbies only:
- Paul Clemens: RHP: 4 games, 13.2 IP, 11 H, 3 walk, 4 K, 4 HR, 7 runs
- Brett Oberholzer: RHP: 1 game, 2 IP, 3 H, 2 HR, 2 runs
- Jose Cisnero, RHP: 2 games over 5.2 IP – 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 K, no runs
- Robbie Grossman: CF/OF (who we got for Wandy, who, by the way has thrown 4 games 21.2 IP, 3 BB, 16 K, 4 ER: 1.66 ERA/ 0.78 WHIP. Good thing we got rid of him) who was called up to replace Justin Maxwell, on the DL for a broken hand: 2 games, 2 fer 9, no walks, 2 doubles

Xavier Cedeno got picked up offn waivers by the Nats, who are 11-11. They are supposed to be 22-0, you know. It’s the fault of Stephen Strasburg, who is supposed to pitch perfect games every time out, but has thrown 7, 5.1, 6, 6 and 7 innings and given up 0, 6, 0, 2, 3 ER, 27 H, 3 HR, 8 BB, 28 K over 31.1 IP and has only one W to show for it. Pitcher wins, you see, are not in any way correllated to stuff like run support or the performance of the bullpen. They only measure the manlinesshood of the pitcher.

Only Altuve, Carter and Pena have appeared in all 22 games. The game plan for hitters this year appears NOT to have a good on base, but to have a high slugging percentage and to heck with stuff like walks and Ks. Chris Carter has struck out in 37 of 90 PA, which is 41% by the way, has 18 hits – 1 double, 1 triple, 5 HR and 9 walks. He has a .222 BA and a .444 SLG for a .741 OPS, which is lower than Altuve’s.

Carlos Pena Ks 25% of the time, but the team leader by FAR is Rick Ankiel, who has Kd in 28 of 45 PA, which, is 62% – but of his 9 hits, 2 are doubles and 5 are homerse, which gives him a BA of .205, and a slg of .591 and an OPS of .815. Sort of reminds me of Mo Ensberg 2006, except Mo walked over 100 times that year, allowing himself to be on base to be driven in. Ankiel swings hard at everything – no infield dribblers there. From what I’ve seen, his fielding instincts are most definitely NOT what I remember from his time with the Cards, and he’s already misplayed 3 balls I can count (no errror, just runs) and made 2 errors. At least he’s better than Fernando Martinez, who has the speed of a 9 month pregnant woman and the fielding instincts of a 10 year old kid shagging fly balls in the OF.

Matt Dominguez, so far, is hitting like he did in the minors his whole career: 18 fer 73 with 4 doubles, 9 walks, 9 K, 4 GIDP: .247/.295/.301/.596. Wonder how long it is going to be before he is replaced by Brandon Laird, whose glove is just as outstanding, and who hits better and for more power.
He’s going to have a much longer chance than Brett Wallace did, that’s fer sher.
Matt is getting out-hit, both average and power, by BOTH shortstops.

Matt’s got chillssssssss
they’re multiplying
cuz the powerrrrrr
Laird’s supplyingggg

So Matt
better shape up
cuz Stros need a guy
who will keep them satisfied
and they’ll admit deep inside
that Laird’s the one that they want
oooh ooooh oooooooooooooh
that one they neeeeeeeeed
oh yes indeeeeeeeeed

(yeah, you know the video that’s been playing around here lately)

Looks to me as if the Astros would do a LOT better if they had Laird at 3rd most of the time and Pena at first with either Fernando Martinez or Chris Carter at DH – does anyone here remember the Mike Lamb as a left fielder experiment? (shudder)

And speaking of shudder, let’s take a look at how the starters are doing:

Ace Bud Norris: 5 GS, 24 IP: 4.13 ERA/1.58 WHIP: 27 H;  2 HR;  11 BB;  16 K;  14 R/11 ER:  R/IP each game:
2 ER, 5 R/5.2

Lucas Harrell: 5 GS: 28.2 IP: 4.08 ERA/1.57 WHIP: 30 H;  5 HR;  13 BB;  20 K;  5 R/ER:  runs, IP/G:

Brad Peacock: 4 GS: 18 IP: 7.50 ERA/1.57 WHIP: 20 H;  6 HR;  8 BB;  16 K;  15 R/ER:  runw, IP/G

Phil Humber: 4 GS: 23.2 IP: 799 ERA/1.82 WHIP: 35 H;  3 HR;  8 BB;  14 K;  21 R/ER:  runs, IP/G:

Erik Bedard (limited to 75 pitches/appearance): 3 GS, 1 relief:  11.2 IP;  6.17  ERA/  1.54 WHIP: 10 H; 2  HR;  8 BB;  14 K;  R/ER: 8 IP/G:

In only FIVE of 22 games, did a starter manage to last at least 6 innings.  Amazing. So the churning in the minors is going to continue – sort of like – the beatings will continue until the morale improves.

I guess the real reason they are doing that stupid tandem stuff in even the high minors is so that all these starters can think of themselves as 3 inning long relievers. Pretty tough to get a starter to think of going 6-7 inning per game when they adjust themselves to 75 pitches/4 innings, whichever comes first. I can’t see how on earth this does not mess with their minds, but
it’s the Astros problem, not mine…

4/21/13: Astros Starters Not Making It Through The First Inning Is Becoming A Habit

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I can’t remember anything like this before: tonight, Phil Humber got an out, then gave up 8 runs before being pulled. Ol Portie-poo must have gotten that ol deja vu creepies – one nice fly out, then single, single, double to shallow center, then massive double to right bullpen wall after 3 pitches way off the plate – all on balls up and over the plate. Time out. But Humber is all shook up. another 5 pitch walk. And then a hanging slider and POW 3 run homer into the RF bullpen by Mark Reynolds (who holds The Sacred All Time Got Struckt Out Record, who I thought was out of baseball) and it’s 5-0. Lil time out at the mound, Keuchel up and throwing, sumpin gotta be done. More hanging sliders and 3 more batters, still only 1 out and it’s 8-0.

It’s 6:17 and the ballgame is ovah already.

Incredible. But true. And jeezus, this is the third time in a WEEK the starter couldn’t finish the first inning. I am positive this has NEVER happened before in Astros’ history.

I could mention that Dallas Keuchel, who is getting a LOT more work than I would bet he thought he was gonna get, got the next 2 outs right quick, but gave up SIX runs in the second because Matt Dominguez completely botched a 5-4-3 to load the bases, then Ronny Cedeno couldn’t play a grounder and a run scores, a K, a real single, then a walk, then another fielding screwup as Corporan can’t throw the ball to first on what should have been a 1-2-3, then another single, and a double down the LF line (for once, not Carter’s fault) and 6 runs are in, 2 earned, but hey, runs are runs.

It’s not that Kazmir was any good, as he gave up 3 runs in the second (Brandon Laird homer!!!) 2 walks and a singe, and 3 in the third (Brandon Barnes homer!!!!) and got pulled with men on second and third in the 4th, don’t ask me why, because Cleveland was leading 18-6 at the time, seeing as how – I forgot – Travis Blackley, the new lefty (remember Xavier Cedeno got the heave ho) freshly offfn the DL, gave up a walk, a double, then a 3 run homer to Jason Giambi. Remember him? He’s one of the guys who used steroids but nobody cares because he ain’t goin near the Hall – tried to get the job as manager of the Rockies after having played there the past few years, but they didn’t want him, so he kept on playing as just a player and not a player manager.

Which we haven’t see in baseball since the last days of Pete Rose, which I really don’t remember.  But anyway, Rhiner Cruz managed to give up only 1 run in 1 inning and Paul Clemens pitched 3.1 scoreless. Good thing the Astros have 2 long men because looks like they gonna need them.

Sunday afternoon, it’s Erik Bedard, who, last start, couldn’t finish the first inning vs Ubaldo Jiminez, who used to be an ace de la ace for the Rox and suddenly just started being a less than average pitcher, and then Cleveland traded for him, thinking they could fix him, but they didn’t.

There weren’t even 10K people in the stands for Fireworks Friday (I don’t care what fake numbers get posted as official) and there appeared to be fewer tonight. Wonder if there will even be 5K – doubt it, not that they mind. I’m sure that the stands will be packed with Yankee/RedSox fans next week and they’ll be busy selling Yankee/RedSox stuff in The Shed instead of Astros gear, as they did last time those teams were in town.

Stros better step down their game though – they are winning the AL loss record, but unfortunately, the corpse of the Jeff Lorias have the major league lead…

Should I mention that Wandy threw 7 innings of 2 hit no walk ball against the Braves and got pulled after 82 pitches. Or that Mark Melancon seems to be cured of whatever ailed him last year? Or that Chris Johnson got 2 of the Braves 4 hits vs the Pirates today? Yeh, CJ is on FAHR, has kept the BA over .400 – not that I expect him to keep THAT up, but just the same, he’s outhitting and out fielding Matt Dominguez.

4/18/13: Laird Up Brett Wallace Down, Michael Bourn Ain’t Comin Home

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Well, Brett basically didn’t make contact with the ball and swung at everything and missed – I mean, seriously, I think your average football player woulda had better luck. and he was on the tightest leash like evah, so he gone. I’m actually surprised he wasn’t released, but youneverknow. It’s the usual – he needs steady ABs – stuff and fact is that Chris Carter is a born DH and Carlos Pena is a decent first baseman, so once AGAIN, Brett couldn’t hit ML pitching.

Yes, I know that 26 AB is small sample size, but it’s not like he hit frozen ropes all ovah the place that Gold Glove catches got made on.

Brandon Laird is a FINE 3rd base glove and Matt Dominguez is hitting like he did in the minors, which is to say, not a lot. Yes, I know, small sample size.

Should I mention that Chris Johnson is hitting .435, has 7 multi hit games, and playing a great 3rd/1st base? For the Braves, that is? Yes, I know, small sample size.

I was SO lookin forward to seeing Michael Bourn again, but he got his finger sliced up yesterday when it got spiked, and he’s on the DL. Rats.

I liked the newsfeed on MLB – the first headline says – Peacock learns from number 1 starter Bud Norris. The next headline – Bud Norris Gets Knocked Out In The First Inning.

It is to laugh.

The team is 4-11, on a nice 5 game losing steak, and is headed toward the top of the suckage heap. They dumped Xavier Cedeno, who, unike Edgar Gonzalez, is almost certainly going to pass throu waivers, and now they are down to one lefty, Wesley Wright. I had praised Bedard’s awesomeness in long relief, so I won’t jinx the 2 guys who are now long relievers.

Lucas Harrell has had 2 very good starts, but no W to show for it, and 1 really bad 8 runs given up start. He faces ex-stro, the Ol WB. Not that there’s gonna be a crowd, even for fireworks night.

4/15/13: The Astros Traded The Wrong Wallace

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I guess I’ve given up on Brett. Not sure if the Organization has, but they can’t get anything for him. He hasn’t put good wood on the ball yet. He didn’t strikeout yesterday against a ground ball pitcher – like, you know, whoaaaaa, but I’m not impressed. Of course, he might could click and go on a tear, but I doubt it.

It’s Chris Wallace, Houston homeboy from U of H, who got dumped for some crappy reliever. He was picked in the 16th round of the 2010 draft – he’ll turn 25 in a few weeks. He spent most of last year at AA, posted a .727 OPS, and ended up at AAA at the end of the year, and had a .708 OPS over 46 AB.

He started this year at AAA, only had 3 AB – maybe he was hurt? They played their latest ML flunkout, Jason Jaramillo (last year was Landon Powell, remember? You don’t? Oh well…) and Cody Clark, who is a 32 year old AAA lifer in the KC system with a .554 OPS over 7 years, signed as a minor league FA – don’t ask me why him and not Wallace, but I guess the Organization had washed their hands of him after Spring Training.


Here and I thought the Astros were complaining about their lack of minor league catchers. Chris has at least a chance to reach the majors with Cleveland, and with the Astros’ Jason Castro worship, he didn’t have a chance here. Castro, from the little I’ve seen, hasn’t improved his ability to block balls at all.

Anyway, Chris got traded for a 27 year old lefty, picked in the 9th round of the 07 draft – he’s a swingman. Over 127 IP at AAA, he has a 6.08 ERA/1.40 WHIP. That is over 3 years, up and down. Big difference from his AA numbers, where he had high K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and less than 1 HR/9.

I don’t get this at all. It’s not like the guy hasn’t had much time at AAA – he has. And he had a 5.50 ERA there last year over 88 IP.

Why so eager to get rid of someone who COULD be someone for a crappy AA/AAA guy?


I do want to throw in my 2 cents on Jackie Robinson Day about Bud Selig’s concern about how few American born Black men are playing baseball these days. Ida wanna hear all that stuff about “pace of the game” because football is slowern molasses on a cold day and don’t nobody care. It’s all about the benjamins, Buddy Boy. There are zillions of college full rides for football and basketball. Zero for baseball. There aren’t batting cages, pitching instruction in poor areas, no place for a bunch of kids to play pickup baseball. Nowhere to play, nowhere to practice, no one to teach, no money for all those expensive travel teams, which are so much more important than Little League or High School.

So if Bud is so dammed bothered, he could take all that massive slush fund and his 22 mill salary and put it toward batting cages, teachers, sponsoring kids to travel teams, providing FULL scholarships to college.


Much better to keep it to use to help owners browbeat poor taxpayers into giving billionaire owners more money, right?

And prayers for the wounded and friends and family of those killed. Too awful.

4/14/13: You Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

It is beyond weird not watching the Astros. I’m getting used to it I guess, like living in the house where you lived with someone you loved who has died. You turn around, think they’re there and they aren’t. Have to be satisfied with’s free game of the day (unless I just happen to be at my Mama’s and we’re watching the Cards, whose bullpen looks like the Astros…)

But I was checking on the Braves/Nats game today – you know that the Nats were the heavy favorite to win the Pennant this year, and they got their asses handed to them on a platter. They were talkin last year as if missing the playoffs – resting Strasburg – was no biggie because, of course, they’d be in it every year for years. Youneverknow, you know, youneverknow. The Braves were big winners, had great teams from 91 – 2005 and they won exactly one WS and 4 pennants and that was all. Stuff happens – guys get hurt, guys suddenly struggle for no apparent reason, and as Miss Joplin once sang, you gotta get it while you can.

Remember 04? Pettitte went down and McLane wouldn’t spring for
1 – another starter
2 – a GOOD reliever (well, they signed a whole lot of guys who turned out to be good, and tossed em out)
and we thought it would be OK because we’d still have Oswalt, Clemens, Pettitte  - and we had the Unhittable Brad Lidge, Qualls, Springer and
well, then Albert Pujols happened and it was wait until 06 when Clemens gets around to coming back and
and then it was The Year Of Nothing Matters But Biggio’s farewell tour, especially not bothering to like, draft any decent players because what are they good for,
and then it was Fast Eddie and that idiot Cecil Cooper and the Psychobilly Cadillac that got junked by Hurricane Ike
and then McLane decided to throw in the towel – riches to rags in 3 short years with him as the defacto GM
and next thing you know, goodbye baseball team.

They’ve been out on the West coast, with those late games, can’t check the scores until the next day. Got shutout 3 of the first 6 games, then inexplicable, bats exploded, they won 3 straight games, and then Albert Pujols happened. And the Stros jumpstarted the slow year of Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout and back to the losing.

Bud Norris, still on the trading block, in spite of the Astros just losing Alex White and John Ely to elbow surgery and Edgar Gonzalez to the waiver wire when they traded for Travis Blackley, brought up Dallas Keuchel and Paul Clemens, set the Astros starting pitching record of the year by throwing 7 innings. Yes, finally a starter managed to go even SIX innings, miracles oh miracles. This afternoon, Lucas Harrell managed to go 7 innings – pretty good performance, too – 2 runs/7 IP and took a tough L.

Jose Veras, not to my surprise at all, blew his first save opportunity. Have yet to see why on earth the Stat Geek Parade ever thought he was closer material. I mean, I saw him when he was with the Pirates, and I wasn’t impressed. The only reliever who has been impressive so far is Erik Bedard – oh

At this point, the Astros finally figured out that Chris Carter has a great glove at DH and as soon as they got him out of the field, he started hitting. It’s not that Julio Daniel is exactly Mr. Gold Glove, but he is compared to Carter. Altuve, Maxwell, Barnes and Marwin Gonzalez are still hitting well, and Dominguez and Castro are keepin it real at about .240 and Ronny Cedeno seems to have been suddenly switched to the backup guy, which is sensible.

And now – what’s their record?
4 and 7.
Yes, it’s 4 and 7
It’s a miracle.
It’s a miracle.

Tomorrow night, they’re back in Oakland, where they just got swept. I hate all those west coast games.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll check up on all the ex-stros around the majors. You know that Chris Johnson is hitting over .400? Guess who has more fielding errors, CJ or Gold Glover Ryan Zimmerman?  CJ has made some awesome plays both at third and first. The boy seems to have found a good home.