The End of Spring Training seems to go on and on and on – Soxaholix thinks so too – (WARNING – not G-rated). It’s like the last month of pregnancy – you just want it to be OVAH so you can go on the the real thing…
Here’s where we at:
First, the GOOD news – Steve Sparks and his 11.30 ERA have been let go (thank goodness – I was getting VERY worried…)
Here’s what Tim Purpura had to say – “It all comes down to performances and getting the job done. He wasn’t very effective in that regard.”
Looks like the only questions left are
1 – will Buchholz or Nieve be slotted as the 5th starter (I’m betting on Buchholz starting and Nieve relieving)
Buchholz has a 1.96 ERA over 23 IP with ZERO HR, 4 BB and 11 K in 4 GS and 2 in relief
Nieve has a 3.71 ERA over 17 IP with NO HR, 6 BB and 13 K in 2 GS and 5 in relief
– note that both guys gave up 3 UER – the fielding has not been the usual Astros high quality this spring.
Who I’m worried about is Brandon Backe, who had 2 VERY bad outings in a row. Phil says he’s happy because Brandon “threw strikes” – oh goody – but the problem was the other guys hitting them strikes he threw.
As of now, he has an (shudder) 8.87 ERA over 23 IP with 11 HR, 10 BB and 11 K in 5 GS and 1 in relief.
– Yes, that was NOT a typo, eleven home runs in 23 IP. Worse than Astacio.
What we need to do is put Brandon’s games on national TV and then he’ll do the ace thing. Which reminds me – I wonder how many #4 pitchers pitch SO much better on live TV, especially in the playoffs (remember last year Brandon pitched a CG SO against the Giants on an ESPN game – one of the few that didn’t involve Yanks, Red Sox, Braves or Cubs – yeah, grumble…)
2 – will Munson or Chavez be backup catcher? We all know that Chavvy can’t hit, but do we really want to substitute a guy who hasn’t ever had an OBP over .300 – a guy who hasn’t caught since college, SEVEN years ago???? We’ll have to see… But I have a bad feeling about this because Munson has 49 AB compared to Chavvy’s 28. Yeah I know that Munson has great ST stats except for BB – only 1, but I have this tough time believing that it don’t matter if he actually knows how to catch like a ML catcher – if he did, why would he have IMMEDIATELY been moved to 3B after being drafted by the Tigers??? Remember that Luke Scott had the best ST stats last year, followed by Brad Ausmus…
3 – Neither Mo Ensberg or Preston Wilson are hitting worth a darn and they are striking out a LOT – Mo 18 of 59 PA and Preston Wilson 18 of 50 PA – fortunately they are both walking a lot, but there’s no power – Mo has 1 HR and no doubles and Preston has 3 doubles and 1 HR. I’m hoping that Mo isn’t still having trouble with his hand and swing the way he did in the playoffs and the series. He had a bad elbow the first half of 2004 and didn’t say nothing (in my opinion, because of being intimidated by the truck washer) and I hope he’s learned his lesson. Maybe both guys just need some time to get their swings and timing working. Both Jason Lane and Lance are having a great spring – so be it and shall it remain.
Have yall noticed how Astros players who are great seem to be almost unknown by the national media? Baggy (I’m still steaming over that comment by long time New York columnist Maddon who said Bagwell was a borderline HOF candidate) is getting attention because of the insurance thing instead of his great play.
Biggio, one of the 5 best 2B of all time, is gonna get attention as he gets near 3000 hits. It’s ridiculous – if he retired today, he should be headed straight into the Hall. And it took the NLCS to show the baseball world why Roy Oswalt is one of the 5 best pitchers in the NL and has been for the last 5 years (which reminds me – Drayton had BETTER be thinkin of extending that contract because I do NOT wanna see Roy wearing a (shudder) Yankees, Red Sox – or even worse – a Cubs cap in the Hall. I hear tell Walt Jocketty got his eye on Roy and I do NOT wanna see Roy in red neither…)
And our next HOFer is gonna be Lance Berkman – lifetime BA .302, OBP .416, 3 AS in 7 ML seasons. And he has hit even better in the postseason than he has in the regular season – something Mr. Clutch Gawd Derek Jeter can’t say. Now I know he’s no 5 tool guy like Baggy, but he has managed to be at least league average in the OF and even had a decent year playing center (remember that???) in 2002 (yeah, he wasn’t no Carlos Beltran, but hey, not many guys are…) I know he’s 30, but he’s got years to go and you’ll see. Smile – yall remember when he first came up, he, uh, wasn’t real too buff and someone asked him about steroids and he patted his belly and said – hey – this is grown with beer n BBQ. A real Texan.
Predictions for the season –
1) baseball will happen
2) Uncle Albert, unless he’s hurt, is going to be the best player in the ML. Sorry, Slappy
and those are just the things I’m positive of.
The media “experts” are picking who they think will win honors, divisions and series. I have found exactly one “expert” – Jeff Passan of Yahoo.com, who thinks the Astros will even break .500, and he thinks we will beat the Cards for the division title and that Roy will FINALLY win the Cy Young (bout time – and Drayton better get that contract extension done early before George decides Roy is worth a Kevin Brown contract.) I guess they think that the difference is 100% the fact that Roger isn’t pitching and that we WILL lose the 13 games he won last year.
The guys with the prediction systems (PECOTA, ZIPS, etc) all think the Cards will win, the Cubs will be second (hopeless giggle – with WHO pitching??? and you KNOW the rookies gonna be riding pine the day after their first Ofer or error…) and the Stros will be 5th with a losing record.
I’m also surprised how many “experts” think the White Sox won’t repeat, neither. They picking the A’s (as usual) – another hopeless giggle – I guess they will win the stat contests where you don’t need to know how to do stuff like run bases. And of course, the Yankees (sigh) and Braves.
Yall remember last year not a single “expert” ever thought we would win anything, let alone the pennant.
So remember, it’s baseball, and youneverknow….