Archive for July, 2007

Biggio Hits #3021 And Passes Rafael Palmeiro

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Well, Chris Sampson couldn’t find the strike zone very well tonight – 31 balls of 76 pitches. He hung 3 pitches – 2 went out, 1 went 400′ (NICE catch by Lane) for a sac-fly, and the rest were singles to Lee and Berkman. Lee hardly gets to ANY balls – reminds me of Biggio out there, I swear. Anyhow, I can’t even really scream at the infielders this time. Sampson was pulled after 74 pitches for a pinch hitter, Chris Burke, in the top of the 5th with 2 on. AND Chris came through with an RBI single. Well, they didn’t trade him, they won’t play him, and there he is, wasting his career on the bench.

Sigh

I was happy to see McLemore in there, actually getting some innings, instead of being wasted as a *(%^&#! LOOGY. He zipped through the 5th, getting 1,2,3 out on 10 pitches. He gave up a homer to Frenchy in the 6th, but heck, that ball wasn’t even in the strike zone – way inside and just below the knees, so it wasn’t exactly a bad pitch. Interesting – I didn’t know that Frenchy could hit the low inside pitches like that – seems to me I remember him being an outside high ball hitter. He then got 3 more outs without giving up any more runs. Palmeiro pinch hit for him in the 7th, so Matt Albers replaced him.

Matt had had 2 great outings in a row, so I guess – uh, things even out. Like Sampson, he couldn’t find the strike zone. Single, walk,walk, sac-fly, FO to the warning track in deepest center, HR over the CF wall, single, blessed groundout to end the Jenningsing. HEY!!! a new word!!! Kind of the opposite of Clemensing, hunh…

Hitters? Loretta, hitting .196 in July, went ofer, as did Lee and Lane. Bruntlett walked twice and made THREE errors, and was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a couple of throwing errors. I don’t blame him for trying to even it up and yeah, I know the safer thing to do was to stay at third. Sometimes, an aggressive play that succeeds like that can swing the direction of the game.

Wigginton went 2 fer 4 and Munson went 1/4 – he was robbed of an RBI single, maybe even double, by a Web Gem catch by Larry Jones.

And speaking of hitters, the Braves managed to score 12 runs without Texiera, who, best I know, should be in the lineup tomorrow.

Wandy will pitch tomorrow – he’s never started at Turner Field – pitched 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief, but he’s not had real good luck away this year. And it sure looks as if we are NOT going to try to let Scott and Burke just play. I’m not surprised – Phil is NOT going to let go of his musical fielders ideology or his lefty/righty platoon thingy.

Sigh

So, to end on a happy note, Biggio hit a 2 RBI double to right center – career #662, and he needs 3 more to tie George Brett on the all-time list.

The 2007 Trade Deadline Has Gone With Ensberg, And No Big Deal

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

So to speak.

Mo Ensberg has been traded to the Padres (with $$$) for either a PTBNL or cash. I’m figuring it will probably be cash – McLane wouldn’t know a good prospect if one jumped up and bit him in the butt. So McLane didn’t care real too particular much if he got anything back for Ensberg, he just wanted him gone. The Pads fans I know are DELIGHTED. Interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets himself together. I remember what happened to the last third baseman we traded to the Padres. Of course, the fans didn’t WANT him gone.

I was actually surprised there were so few deals – the teams who were dealing wanted too much for what they were selling, so not much happened. Hard to believe we couldn’t get ANYTHING useful for a single guy on this team. Well, I guess it’s not hard to believe that McLane couldn’t get anything useful. I guess he has got to have a bad team and angry fans for a LONG time before he’ll wise up and actually hire a GM or a decent farm director or head of development. Maybe he will NEVER wise up. I wouldn’t have thought Angelos would tolerate all those years of losing and fan apathy of what was once a top top franchise, but I guess the lure of 20 something mill a year and playing GM significantly overcame being a loser.

And I hopeHOPE McLane doesn’t turn into the Nuttings, whose goal is to just try to win 75 games a year every year (and pocket 30 mill in profit.)

As for our Big Deal, here’s what Keith Law of ESPN has to say:
I have zero idea what Houston was thinking when they gave Dan Wheeler to Tampa Bay for Ty Wigginton.

Wigginton is a terrible defensive third baseman who doesn’t get on base, isn’t young (he turns 30 in October) and will end this year with over four years of service, making him a free agent after 2009. He’s another good example of a guy plucked off the scrap heap who provided some unexpected value, but he’s a below-average hitter because of his career-long aversion to the walk. He has a .330 OBP since the start of the 2006 season. In other words, the Astros just traded one year of Wheeler, a good reliever with experience as a closer, for two years of Wigginton, a player without a position and who has mediocre offensive skills. Sure, this winter’s free-agent third base market is top-heavy (Mike Lowell and potentially Alex Rodriguez) but otherwise very shallow. And Wigginton represents an upgrade over the 2007 edition of Morgan Ensberg. But he’s much worse than the 2006 and 2005 editions of Ensberg, and the cost to acquire Wigginton was the lost opportunity to deal Wheeler for a younger and potentially better player. It’s a short-term move, and not a particularly good one, for a team that needs to look more long-term.

I just can’t figure out who exactly is driving that bus. (Mclane vs Purpura) The strategy is built around the assumption that they’ll be right back in this thing next year, and I don’t think that’s realistic. Their system is almost completely devoid of position-player prospects, and Pence is the only hitter on their roster under age 27 and the only good hitter under 31. Rebuilding an offense without major-league ready hitters in your farm system takes 4-5 years, not one.

Now, I know that some people will sneer at anything that Law says because he went to this place called Harvard – I think it is some kind of reform school or something, because it turns out Really Bad Guys like Paul DePodesta who do terrible things like use computers and not treat their zits and trade guys who are buddybuddy with reporters like Paulie LoDuca for really good pitchers like Brad Penny and go around winning their divisions.

Anyhow, the Astros, far as I can tell, have done exactly ZERO to improve the team for either this year or next. As far as I can tell, they have no real plans to move anyone by August 31, either, and McLane hasn’t shown any ability to pick guys like Wheeler off the waiver wires. As far as I can tell, Phil will be playing musical positions with anyone not named Carlos Lee – I mean “managing” and McLane will still be the GM.

Sigh

At this minute, the Texiera trade is not official, so we may or may not see him tonight. Gotta say this – at least they are TRYING. And remember, Schuerholz has a LOT lower budget to play with than McLane does. Somehow, he has a better roster, a MUCH better farm, and makes MUCH better deals.
Sigh

7/30/07: Switching Wiggington For Ensberg

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Still no cable, no TV and no computer in the house. But no games today, so hopefully by tomorrow….

OK, now down to business. Let’s talk trades.

Time for a quick looksee at Jennings – let’s say – so far, so bad. Before I declare this a HORRIBLE trade, I want to see if we get anything for Jennings, or if we sign him, offer him arb†and he declines, see what kind of draft pick we get for him. It just might could take 4 years before we can weigh the plusses/minuses. For example, take the Billy Wags trade – we got 3 pitchers who are already gone, but if you factor in the fact that we got Andy and Roger with Billy’s money, it wasn’t a total loss.

If you looked at the roster, there are some guys that contending teams (which, despite anything McLane says, is NOT the Astros) might could want – Oswalt (forget it), Lamb, Loretta, Lidge, Qualls, Wheeler and even Burke. Obviously Oswalt would bring the best package, but you can’t just replace an ace like him at his price so forget that. Lidge is next – yes, even after yesterday, but McLane is adamant about not trading him, and next year, he’ll bring less because of his impending free agency. Qualls has a bit more upside than Wheeler because he won’t be a FA for 3 years instead of one.

So who got traded?

Ty Wigginton was traded for Dan Wheeler. Yes, the D-Rays – Gerry Hunsicker again. This is making me wonder if any other GM is willing to do business with McLane, and I am wondering if Gerry is ripping us off again as he did in the Aubrey Huff trade. At least Wigginton will be under team control for a few years, unlike Huff.  (Wheeler is a 5th year guy this year, in case anyone was wondering)

So let’s take a look at Wigginton, our “prize.”

He’s a “3B” drafted by the Mets in the 17th round 1998 from U North Carolina -Asheville. In case yall wondering why 3B is in quotation marks, it’s because he one of the Mark Loretta type utility guys that Phil luuuuvvvvs – he plays RF, LF, 1st, second and third. He was called up in 2002 and hit .302 with a .526 SLG in 112 AB. Somehow, don’t ask me how, he came in 8th in the 2003 ROY voting – not sure what the voters rated the highest – his .225 BA, .396 SLG – which is an 85 OPS+, perhaps his 46 BB to 124 K in 573 AB, or perhaps his 16 errors with a league average range factor. Or perhaps it was simply the usual East Coast Bias???

The Mets traded him to the Pirates at the 2004 trading deadline for Kris Benson. I understand that – they had David Wright to play third. Wigginton didn’t exactly play well with the Pirates – in 15 games over 1 1/2 years, he batted .241 with an 86 OPS+ and by the way, his fielding was most definitely substandard and he made 15 errors in 115 games – for those of yall who are more impressed by numbers of errors made than by range, or lack thereof. Anyway, the Pirates released him after the 2005 season. You understand. They could play minimum wage guys Bautista and Sanchez instead and they would have had to pay Wigginton maybe 100K more. You don’t make 30 mill a year off a perpetually terrible team if you don’t pay special attention to those 100K deals.

But I digress.

Anyway, The Devil Rays signed him at the beginning of the 2006 season and they were so impressed with him that after the 2006 season – 444 AB, 25 2B, 24 HR, 32 BB, 97 K, .275 BA, .498 SLG, .828 OPS – 5 E in 34 games at 3B – and a revised zone rating (hardballtimes.com) of .590 (translation – makes Mike Lamb look like Scott Rolen) they went and signed Japanese baseball player Iwamura to a 3 year contract to play third.

So, checking bbref.com – his 162 game average shows .267 BA, .448 SLG – 34 doubles and 21 homers which is a perfectly average 100 OPS+ and his fielding, uh, is not good. But on the bright side, he seldom walks – only an average of 47 a year, and he strikes out over 100 times a year – mostly swinging!!!! The fans should LUUUUVVVV him, seeing as how they think defense doesn’t count unless it’s Chris Burke in center we’re talking about. And he’ll be only 30 at the end of the year, and we’ll have him under club control for 2 more years!!! A good young player, by Astros standards.

Mo, by the way, adjusted his stance (well, it looks like it to me) during the Mets series and since then has been hitting over .300. I wouldn’t be surprised if he IS picked up by some other team now that he has been DFA, and if he plays every day, I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks it up. (Note that Luke Scott says that he’s playing better and seeing the ball better since he’s been playing every day and not been platooned and his average has gone up over 20 points in 6 games. There’s a time and place to platoon and platooning a lefty who kills leftys is like, um, stoopiddd.)

So, seeing that Phil LUUUVVVVSSS to platoon, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb is going to face the rightys, so let’s see if Wigginton has Biggio type splits against leftys: well, not so much. Career, it’s 12 points of BA, 34 points of OBP and 55 points of SLG. This year, the average is the same, but the SLG is 139 points higher against leftys.

And, by the way, looking at various non-Astros fan sites, seems a whole LOT of fans think Mo got screwed and that he is a VERY good bet to get better. Unless his shoulder really IS shredded, and it is time for the guy to be honest with himself about it, he could definitely prosper with a new start. I hope he does, I really do.

7/29/07: The Astros Score 11 And Lose And Jennings Isn’t Getting Traded

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

First, sorry about so few posts, and not replying to comments these past few days – we’re having trouble with the new cable, so no TV and no computer in the house. They are “supposed” to fix it tomorrow.

So anyway, what with us stopping to see Husband’s cousin’s new baby after church (no, it couldn’t wait until after the ballgame – Mr. Baby LUUUUUUUVVVVVVR had already told cousin his wife was just dying to see the baby and we be right there) I didn’t get the radio on until – with 2 out in the first, Mike Cameron homers off the facade and it’s Padres 9 – Astros hopeless. Yeh. It went – walk, walk, double, sac-fly, single, FO, walk (and Phil has not gone to the mound, Wallace has not gone to the mound, Munson has not gone to the mound, and no one is up in the pen yet – this from my Mama at the game) – where was I, oh yeah. The PITCHER singles, Giles doubles, Cameron homers. NOW Phil gets the bullpen up. Gee Phil, what gave you the clue?

I keep hearing that old worn out rock anthem going through my head -
There Phil stood in the dugout
Unmoving from his toes to his pout
I said hey what’s this ****
Now maybe Phil’s in need of a kick
Phil said SLOW don’t move so fast
Don’t you think that Jennings can last
She said LAST??? are you NUTS
Yank him now no ifs ands or buts!!!

All wrong now,
Phil you see it’s STILL all wrong
All righty is wrong
Dontchu see it’s all wrong, now…

(apologies A. Frasier/P. Rodgers)

So of course Bradley gets an infield single to short (no, it doesn’t matter) and Gonzalez homers. NOW Jennings gets yanked. Mama says the few balls he threw in the strike zone were flat and slow and that she could have hit the ball out of there too. She said that the top FB speed shown was 86, but she doesn’t believe it.

Looks like McLane waited one start too long to trade him. He waited too long to trade Ensberg, Lane and Burke (and the year before, when he made up his mind to get Biggio the 3000, he could have gotten a LOT for Burke) and he waited too long to trade Jennings. He just can’t seem to ever strike while the iron is hot.

In comes McLemore. Good – we’ll just think of this as a spot start, which I’ve been wanting him to have. I had forgotten he was even on the team – what a waste. This team is good at wasting guys, what can I say. So McLemore gets the next out without giving up any more runs. Then in the second, he gives up a single to right, then gets a popout and a K. Brian Giles hit a ball for what should have been the third out, but it hit hard off McLemore’s leg and Giles reached. Mc Lemore looked as if he was having trouble walking, but he stayed in, and his next pitch to Cameron had nothing on it (says my Mama) and he doubled juuuuuuust past a diving Carlos Lee and a run scored. Next pitch Bradley gave a long ride to center, but it is tough to hit a ball out of the park here and so it was just out#3.

McLemore is out. I hope the leg isn’t broken. Poor guy – this could have been his big chance.
Albers pitches 2 scoreless innings, is pulled for Palmeiro to pinch hit, and Palmeiro, for once comes through, so it wasn’t a wasted move.

Then Borkowski comes in and continues his lousy pitching from last night. On a 3-2 count, Cameron doubles (can’t nobody get this guy out???) then Bradley singles him home, thanks to a lousy throw from Scott. Gonzalez is then safe on what should have been an easy out because Burke bobbles the ball. Then Greene singles to left – bases loaded. Then Borkowski gets an easy comebacker, but throws so offline to Munson that he can’t get the out, then Munson can’t get the throw to first to get THAT out neither (Mama is saying Very Bad Words here) – so this is three runs.

Miller pitches a scoreless inning. I just checked – he actually hasn’t given up a run in any of his 12 appearances this month and has lowered his ERA from 7.52 to 5.28. I am going to have to check and see the date of the entry I wrote saying that Miller suckes and should be released/traded.

Qualls strikes out the side – guess he’s not going anywhere – but not because he is sucking.
Lidge gets 3 outs on 9 pitches in the 8th – 2 weak-ass groundouts and a lazy FB. He comes back to pitch the 9th, gives up a double down the RF line that scores on a double down the LF line that Wigginton doesn’t get near, a popup homer into the Crawford Boxes, a flyout and a swinging K. First run/HR Lidge has given up in 6 weeks. He’s pulled for Brian Moehler, ace reliever extrordinaire. I guess Lidge IS mental – can’t buckle down and get those saves and can only deal with a pressure-free non-save situation and he – oh, uh, oops. Nevermind.

You know, McLane could get actually good players for the few valuable chips he DOES have, such as Qualls, Lidge, Lamb and Loretta, but he’d rather pretend he’s “retooling” and staying “competitive” instead of actually trying to repair the badly damaged club and farm he has. Reminds me of that commercial of that guy who uses his chewing gum to repair the leak in the dam and thinks the job is finished no problem.

Hitters? Well, the Astros all hit – except for Biggio and Loretta, and Burke struck out swinging on ball 4 with bases loaded, but hey, at least he didn’t strike out looking (or even – shudder – WALK.) You score 11 runs, you should win. Unless, of course, your fielders and pitchers†field like crud and let runs score. And your starting pitcher gives up 11 freaking runs in 2/3 of an inning. Munson and Scott are swinging hot bats and Phil NEEDS to leave them in the lineup – but of course, that’s against everything he believes in.

Ah well. It’s a little too late to do the right thing now.

Day off tomorrow – I’ll post an entry discussing Wigginton. Right now, I have to go home (no computer) and so I can’t reply to comments or email until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.

7/27/07: Woody Gives Up A Homer And Loses #12

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Every time Woody pitches, Husband and I have a little bet centered on which inning Woody will give up a homer. We each pick 4 innings and don’t count the 9th. Whoever gets the most homers wins. Well, seeing as how the TEAM is going to lose, SOMEone might as well win. The Astros has lost 14 of Woody’s 22 starts and Woody himself is responsible for 12 of those. And actually, he’s only given up homers in 8 of his 12 losses, but it sure seems like more. And yeah, Woody has given up homers in 3 of his 5 wins, but hey small sample size (giggle)….

The bet started getting serious the night of the Zambrano game – naturally, Big Z was the homer hitter.

And tonight, I had the 3rd inning and so now Husband is folding laundry and trying not to grumble too much. The idea should be for him to look earnest, but lost, a little foolish and sort of overwhelmed. Think of it as sort of like pitching – you wanna fool the batter, get her thinking a FB is coming, then throwing a breaker. And sighing and trying not to glance at me is like Crash saying – here comes the heat.

Anyhow, just for the fun of it, here are the breakdown of homers (in his losses) by innings:
1st- 2
2nd- 3
3rd- 3
4th- 1
5th- 5
6th- 1
7th- 2
And, in case yall curious, it’s Wife 3 Husband 1

Any comments about the game, you ask.. Sure. Borkowski looked like heck and Loretta didn’t turn a 1-6-3 that should have been an inning ender but failure to do so led to another run. Luke Scott in center makes Burke look like Ichiro. We scored 3 runs because their reliever made two separate throwing errors. The rightys significantly outhit the leftys against a righty pitcher.

And tomorrow, Roy-O returns to face Greg Maddux, The Professor.

7/26/07: Wandy Wins #7 And Mo, Biggio And Carlos Homer

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Wandy had a VERY rough first inning. Brian Giles (isn’t it weird to see him leading off after all those years of him hitting third) singled, then Mike Cameron doubled him home on a pitch that was actually waaay inside and high. Then a strikeout, a groundout, a walk and another K.
32 freaking pitches and I thought – lil dude has forgotten that he’s actually HOME. He’s nails at home. But actually, he gave up only the one single hard hit ball off the scoreboard.

He came back after for the second inning with a 3-1 lead and just slammed the door for the next 6 innings, giving up only another walk and 2 piddly singles. 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 ER.
Just awesome the way he just regrouped and shut it down. Now, the ONE thing Brad Ausmus has left to teach Wandy is to pitch like that on the road.

Wells lasted only 3 innings – he was just terrible – he gave up THREE walks and an IBB and THREE homers – 7 runs. Whoa. Then homeboy Clay Hensley (from Tomball – another out of the closet short righty – and all yall KNOW how I luuuvvv the little guys – went in the 8th round in 2002 – where was all the homeboy luuuuvvvv back then???) came in to relieve him – with a 7.45 ERA. Whoa – talk about sophomore slump he pitched 187 innings last year with a 3.71 ERA. And he threw 3 shutout innings – 1 hit and 2 walks.

Joe Thatcher, one of the young pitchers the Pads received from the Brewers for Scott Linebrink (ex-Astro who was DFA’d in 03 and snapped up by the Padres and pitched great until approximately August 06) pitched a scoreless inning. Then in the 9th, ex-Astro Doug Brocail, age 40, faced the guy for whom he was traded after the 96 season, Brad Ausmus. And he got Brad out, too.

Chad Qualls pitched a nice 1,2,3 8th innng, then Brian Moehler was sent in to mopup in the 9th. And he managed to get 1,2,3 out.

Oh, and of course Carlos Lee is going to get all the pub on his homer, but I do want to point out that Mo Ensberg went 1/2 with 2 BB. I know, bad boy, there he goes walking again. But in the second, his called “strike” was out of the zone and the balls were waaaayy out of the zone – AND he walked in a run. Yeh, he walked in the 4th, too, but cmon, he swung at the only pitch that came close to the strike zone. And the one hit was a homer to the Banco Popular window. And Jason Lane went 1/2 with a walk and an RBI AND he made 4 excellent catches. BGO went 2/4 with a solo homer – #288 – and a steal of third.

And here we are, suddenly winning since Hunter Pence went down and Jason Lane came back up. Small sample size, you say? OK – yall got a point. But what is getting me worried with the winning is that I am afraid this will get McLane thinking that he really doesn’t need to do any trades, that the team is just fine and so what if the farm is empty? I never thought I’d be writing that I’m worried that we’re winning too much.

But never fear, tomorrow it’s Jake Peavy vs Woody Williams. I just checked Peavy’s stats – actually he’s 5-4 in 10 GS with a 2.44 ERA – but he has a 3.44 ERA at the Box. He won’t get to oppose his buddy Roy-O, who will be starting on Sunday.

Peavy has been great this year – 16 of 20 QS and he has never lasted less than 5 innings or given up more than 4 runs in a start. Woody has pitched decently over his last 5 games, and in fact, over his last 9, has had only one game where he threw fewer than 6 innings.
So may the best man lose….

7/26/07: Everett Bests Loretta – The Stats Speak The Truth

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Not with batting average, no argument there.

However, Sean Smith, one of MVN’s resident statisticians and inventor of the CHONE defense ratings, has compared Everett’s runs saved + runs created to Loretta’s runs (not) saved + runs created.

The results just might could surprise some people who really DO think that as long as a fielder isn’t making errors, he’s doing a great job…
click here to read

7/25/07: Albers Pitches 5 OUTSTANDING Innings And Carlos Lee Goes All Biggio On The Dodgers

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Friends, neighbors and Astros fans – heck, BASEBALL fans, give it up for Matt Albers, spot starting for Roy Oswalt against the NL West leading Dodgers and pitching an outstanding 5 innings – 3 hits, 1 walk and 5 K – and he was pulled for a pinch hitter, NOT for another pitcher.
I didn’t think Albers would stand a chance against Derek Lowe, but he more than held his own. Did he EVER. I think that was the best I’ve seen him pitch, and I am including the 3 hit, no run 7 innings against St. Louis back in May. For one thing, this Dodger team is a better hitting team AND he didn’t have a 13 run cushion.

It’s true Brian Gorman had a huge strike zone, but Albers had guys swinging and missing low pitches, inside pitches and outside pitches. In the third, Loney led off with a triple on the Hill (man I wish he was on our team) and Albers didn’t blink, just struck out Kemp, struck out derek Lowe swinging at an inside pitch at the knees, then got Furcal to GO. Just nails. In the fourth, with one out, he gave up a single, then a walk, then got the the next two outs on swinging strikes. All in all, Albers threw exactly 2 fat pitches – one to Loney, who hit the ball 430′ to dead center (sorry dude, in this park it is not a homer) and one to Lowe, who hit the ball to right – should have been an easy single, but he dogged it down the basepaths and Luke Scott threw him out. That was kewl.

Phil pulled Albers for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 5th with 1 out and man on first. It’s stuff like this that makes fans insist that the pitcher can’t pitch long into games. So, trying to defend Phil, let’s say that he was concerned that after throwing 90 pitches over 5 innings, Albers was too tired to bunt the runner over. Anyway, Borkowski pitched a great inning. Then Chad Qualls came in and gave up a train tracks homer to Jeff Kent (why didn’t he hit like this when he was here?????) to tie the score and take the W from poor Albers. Dan Wheeler pitched a 1,2,3 and Brad Lidge got an easy groundout, a flyout (Kent) annd a swinging K. I’m insisting that Lidge is NOT mental.

And now, for something completely different.
All yall know I’ve been saying that Carlos Lee has been dogging it on the basepaths and in the field. Well, tonight, he just Biggioed up. Threw out Kent in the second trying to stretch a single off the scoreboard into a double – and he HUSTLED to get that ball. In the 7th, he HUSTELD to get Garciaparra’s ball and held him to a single. In the 4th, he stole a base – carefully picking his time and not getting thrown out from bad timing. And of course, he hit the game winner.

Biggio has a lot of good points, and always trying his best no matter what is his best one. Bend it Like Biggio. Yeah, baby YEAH.

7/24/07: Biggio’s Big Day

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Goin in style, that’s what I’m sayin’ – or rather, that’s Biggio. He announced that he would retire at the end of the year, 99.9% sure, he said. That was just great. He also said that he would like to end his career playing (against the Braves) an inning catching – sort of a going full circle.

And speaking of going full circle, he won the game for Jason Jennings tonight by taking ex-Brave Rudy Seanez deep for the 4th granny of his career and second this year. Good ol Crawford Boxes. And you know, Biggio, old as he is STILL hustles around the bases. (Anyone see Manny Ramirez hit a ball to center in last night’s AL game – he watched the ball take off, jogged down to first and suddenly realized the ball had bounced off the wall and was in play and so he ended up with a single instead of a double? Biggio has NEVER, not ONCE in the past 20 years done something like that. Carlos Lee ought to be taking lessons in hustle from the Old Master.) My favorite Biggio story is one told to me by a fan of another team – he said that Biggio was up with 2 outs in the 9th and the Astros losing by a good 7 or 8 runs and some mopup guy pitching and Biggio hit a routine easy out grounder to short and ran full speed to first, even though he must have known he’d be out by 10-15 feet. He never gave up and he never gave in. And that is the one thing I admire most about Biggio.

Seemed like old times today – of course, the all-righty lineup with 2 of the 4 Most Hated Astros, Ensberg and Lane back together again, facing crummy lefty Mark Hendrickson – the kind of pitcher who usually shuts out the Astros with a 4 hitter, but has a 5 something ERA against the rest of MLB. Jennings had a rough start to the second inning – HR, walk, single, double – all with no out, leading to 3 runs, but then he settled down and retired the remainder of the hitters he faced for the rest of the game. Best he’s pitched since before he went on the DL – he gotta look good for all those other teams want to trade for him AND he wants that nice fat juicy contract at the end of the year.

The guys fielded pretty well – Bruntlett at short and Loretta not at short helped, of course, and Mo-st Hated Astro drove in 2 runs with a patented Biggio double into the LF corner.
So the Astros are no longer last in the NL. We are actually a game ahead of the Reds and Pirates. Goodness gracious.

And last but not least, happy birthday Barry Bonds. 43 years old and he won’t give up and he won’t give in. And he outlasted Bud Selig, who finally gave in and said he’d go watch Barry break the record – unless, of course, it comes during the HOF induction ceremony this weekend. And why am I mentioning Mr. Birthday Boy? Because I am looking forward to watching Biggio and Barry walk into the HOF together in 6 years. Oh yeah, Barry WILL go in.

7/23/07: Pathetic Pitching And Horrid Hitting = Sampson Loses

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Pence and his sore hand sat the game out, but Lance and George didn’t. So Phil put Bruntlett in center, and trust me, he is NOT a better glove than Burke there, and unfortunately this meant that Loretta was back at short and you KNOW that Sampson would be praying a WHOLE lot with Lamb at third, Loretta at short and Biggio at second.

Reminds me of why my doctor told me about not getting pregnant if I had sex without using birth control – prayer don’t work.

Thing is – if you are a GB pitcher, you just HAVE to have great infield defense. And Sampson had all around lousy fielders. Now I agree he didn’t help himself leaving up a fat one to Furcal the first inning for a single to right, then he got small-balled home for the first run. And I have to say that Carlos Lee dogged it to every ball (like he should have followed Luis Gonzalez’ example – and LuGo is 10 freaking years older, too) that Kent hit to almost the exact same spots all night, including the double he hit in the 4th that led to another run. And 4 piddly singles – one that Sampson didn’t field and one that Biggio didn’t, uh, get to, led to 2 more runs.

So Sampson was pulled for a pinch hitter with 2 out and no on in the 6th after 5 innings/74 pitches. Of course, people will say he can’t “last” very long, but obviously, he wasn’t tired.
Of course, it would have helped if the first 4 hitters had, like, hit. Five hits and 3 walks over 9 innings – Billingsly needed 109 pitches for a CG – and in fact, it looked as if he was only going to need 10 pitches an inning. He got a little tired in the 9th and left the 106th pitch up a little and Luke Scott hit it out – or we would have been shut out.

Trever Miller pitched a scoreless inning – whoa.

And of course Brian Moehler got to mopup for the first time in a few weeks and of course he did terrible and threw a nice fat FB down the middle and Houston’s own James Loney sent it over the fence. No I am not criticizing the Astros for not drafting him because he went 19th overall in the first round 2002 and we didn’t pick until #29 (which, in case yall curious, we wasted on Derick Grigsby, who was OOB only a year later.) But I do have to laugh at the Rangers’ writer who are urging the Dodgers to trade him for Boras Client 10 mill a year in his 5th year Mark Texiera.

Anyway, suppose I should talk about news – Backe is expected to start minor league rehab at Corpus in a few weeks and if all goes well, he will be back in the Majors around Sept 1.

And a moment of silence for former Zephyr/Express third baseman Mike Coolbaugh, who was one of those very AAA guys who couldn’t hit ML pitching. He died last night when he was hit on the head with a line drive foul ball. He was in his first year as a coach for the AA Tulsa Drillers. I hope he literally didn’t know what hit him – he died living the life he loved, doing what he wanted.

May he rest in peace.
click here to read Ben DuBose’s piece on Coolbaugh on mlb.com.