Archive for August, 2007

8/31/07: The State Of The Dis-Astros On Hardball Times

Friday, August 31st, 2007

My first piece for Hardball Times – check it out.
And yes, I know yall heard it all (mostly) before.

8/30/07: Matt Albers, Chad Qualls And Brad Lidge Shut Down Cardinals

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

It’s not that Matt had super stuff, as Roy did last night – he gave up more walks (4) than hits (3) plus 1 WP, but no homers, and somehow managed to get the last out with men on base. As Roger Clemens taught me these past few years, if you go to 3-1 or 3-2, especially on a guy who seems to be seeing your stuff well, much better to walk him than give him something good to hit and worry about getting the next guy out. Matt used only 94 pitches to get through 7 innings, a pretty darn good and efficient job.

Astros hitters didn’t do very well – fortunate that Lance has picked this time to get hot – he hit another monster shot to right to win the game. And Lee and Lamb left bases loaded in the 8th. But not hitting against Joel F. Pineiro? Good grief.

I see that Cooper is going to continue Phil’s leftyrighty thing. Mike Lamb is going to spend most of what is left of the season on the bench, so it really does look as if they are definitely cutting him loose and keeping Wiggy. I sure would REALLY like to know if they ever even tried to keep Lamb next year – I all I read are vague things like – well, the club didn’t think they’d be able to keep him next year. I’m cynical enough to translate that into – the club didn’t WANT to play the few extra million it would take to keep Lamb instead of Wiggy….

I’m not surprised that Biggio is again telling the manager where and when he’ll be playing. I’ll be glad when this season ends – I’m REALLY tired of his stuff. I’m just grateful the team is so bad this year so it really doesn’t matter, except to the careers of Scott and Burke.

And today, Bud Selig “enthusiastically” endorsed Coop. Yecccccccccccchhhhhh. Bud Selig, far as I’m concerned, is (how can I put this) someone for whom I have exactly zero respect (yeah, I can put it like that) and hearing him endorse Coop is bad BAD news, far as I’m concerned. Cooper taking orders from Biggio, playing Loretta at short, getting kudos from Buddy Boy – I got a bad BAD feeling about this…

We’re off on a 9 game road trip – Chicago (all afternoon games!!!!!), rapidly sinking Milwaukee (hard to believe with the talent on that club) and then a day off before visiting The Jackal and friends.

Tomorrow is Troy Patton vs Jason Marquis.

8/29/07: Roy Oswalt Shuts Out The Cards On His 30th Birthday

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

I know I keep telling the story of the Cardinals fan who told me last September in the midst of the Cards near fatal collapse – I honestly don’t know why I even bother to come to any game Roy pitches – we just CAN’T beat that guy. It’s wrong, of course, but I just hope Roy is in the heads of the Cards as much as he in the heads of the fans.

Husband had suggested we all go watch Roy tonight – he correctly guessed that with the bad weather and the bad team, we could score dirt cheap tickets. It was true all right – we ran into a woman who approached us before we got to the scalpers and asked us if we wanted some free tickets because the people who were supposed to join her decided not to come. I took this as a good luck sign.

And in fact, the Box was just a little more than half full – the least full I’ve seen for a Roy start and an Astros vs Cards game in a long LONG time. I wonder if Drayton is noticing…

Roy had said he was feeling fine and by the looks of him, he surely was, oh he most definitely was. For a baseball connoisseur such as my own self, watching a master like Roy pitch is an almost indefineable pleasure. He’s just good. (As Barry Lamar said, it’s talent and you can’t teach talent…)

He had said, when he strained his oblique a few weeks back, that something had clicked after the disaster at Wrigley (9 runs over 4.1 IP) and he was pitching the best of his entire career. True – he’s given up 5 ER over 45 IP since then for a 1.00 ERA. And tonight he gave up 3 singles and a double, no walks, and struck out 9 over 7 IP – 95 pitches, 73 strikes.

I don’t blame Cecil for not sending him back out there – I mean, even with his missing 2 games, he’s 4th in the NL in IP with 185.2, and he could easily throw 40-50 more innings in the remaining month and there is no reason to wear out his arm with a 5 run lead.

Anyway, the great thing about going to games with kids is that they are just so happy to even be there and they don’t know how bad the team is, so they are happy to cheer for Uncle grounding into a DP, for each K that Roy got (they wave their K cards happily), for Luke’s homer, for BGO’s 665th career double, which tied him with George Brett all time, for Brad Ausmus’ 33rd career triple, which FINALLY moved him ahead of Jeff Bagwell on the career triples list (in case all yall forgot, Brad made a BIG deal out of him being tied with Baggy for triples when he roasted Baggy in his retirement ceremony on Sunday) and of course, Lance Berkman’s 250th career home run, a no doubter 428′ over the RF bullpen.

And of course, the best hit of the night – Roy’s RBI single in the second. Pitchers hitting RBIs is very cool. And Roy finally got his OBP over his weight with his ROE in the 4th – also very cool.

Actually, I think TLR’s idea of having the pitcher bat 8th, with .300 hitting Aaron Miles batting 9th is actually a great idea and I’m not sure why a lot more teams haven’t tried it out (and yes I know if any manager not TLR or Bobby Cox did that, they media would be all OVAH their butts….) Of course, you need a decent hitter to hit 9th, or you really haven’t improved matters.

Cooper juggled the lineup again – what a surprise – and now he has Pence batting leadoff with Biggio batting second. Not that Pence is an ideal leadoff man – most of his OBP is BA because he seldom walks, but his .350 OBP is still better than Biggio’s .287.

And of course, we all have our Blue Star Hats – happy 80th birthday Milo Hamilton.
I’m so happy that Roy won that I’m not going to mention that we left a man on third with less than 2 outs twice – or that 2 of the 4 hits Roy gave up wouldn’t have been hits with Everett at SS.

Ah well, rubber game tomorrow afternoon – Matt Albers vs Joel Piniero, RHP

Pineiro’s name is vaguely familiar to me – checking him out – he pitched for Seattle for years, was a fairly good starter in 02 – 3.24 ERA and 03 – 3.78 ERA, who saw his numbers rise and his victories fall over the subsequent years – 4.76 ERA in 04, 5.62 in 05, and 6.36 both starting and relieving in 06.

He then signed with the Red Sox as a FA reliever this year and didn’t do very well, as he was injured most of the time and ineffective the rest. He was acquired by the desperate Cards at the July 31 deadline for cash and immediately inserted into the rotation and he’s gone 3-1 in 5 GS with a 3.86 ERA nd a .275 BAA – 6 HR, 4 BB and 18 K over 28 IP. Rightys hit him better than leftys – always have .281 vs .259, and it is even more extreme this year.

I wonder if Cooper wil repeat Phil’s mistake of refusing to check simple stats like these.

8/28/07: Cards Shut Out Astros And Spoil Cooper’s Debut

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Well, New Manager, Same Old Stuff.

I don’t have the right words to describe my disgust seeing Loretta back at short. I guess things really aren’t going to change. In the pre-game show, Coop talked all about “playing the game the right way” – meaning not leaving men on base, and not playing pretty much the worst defense in the NL, I guess. Not sure how he plans to change that, he didn’t say. He is going to resume the platooning of Scott and Burke in right (I guess this must come direct from the Puppet Master) and he has stated that Biggio’s decision to play in at least 2 of 3 of the remaining away games is going to be honored. It’s straight out of that play Damm Astros – whatever Biggio wants, Biggio gets.

What’s the point of replacing Phil if you just insert his clone?

I have noticed that some fans believe that Phil got the shaft, that he couldn’t win with this team, that the fact that he was manager when the team went to the WS means that he should continue managing and be handed another great team. Well, the trick to being a good manager is to do well when you don’t have 3 aces starting and an almost guaranteed 7th, 8th and 9th inning outs – see Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox. The players didn’t hate him as they did guys like Terry Collins, Larry Bowa and Buck Showalter – in fact most players liked him and liked playing for him. Problem was simply that Phil was just not a good strategist.

Tonight, Woody pitched poorly after 5 straight good starts. His stuff just wasn’t very good and the Cards fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch. The first inning started off badly. After The Pest struck out, Ankiel hit a grounder to second, which Biggio couldn’t come up with. No surprise there. Uncle flew out, Edmonds singled, Duncan fouled off some pitches, then hit a changeup 400 something feet into the upper deck. (I won tonight, but you know, it’s a hollow victory. As Husband says – yeah Baby, you beat me but they STILL suck.)

Woody had a very hard time with the home plate ump, who refused to call the same borderline pitches for Woody that he did for Looper (and not just by my eyeballs – I checked on Gameday too.) Looper, by the way, only struck out 4, but he sure got guys swinging at pitches out of the zone. If guys don’t hit, you won’t win.

McLemore came in to relieve Woody with bases loaded, one out – should have been 2 on, 2 out, but the HP ump called strike 3 ball 4 on Edmonds. McLemore looked a little shaky, gave up 2 run scoring singles, Francoing poor Woody, then got 2 swinging Ks. Interesting that JD noted that his stuff seems to be more suited to starting, which is what I’ve been thinking. I wonder if he’ll even get a chance.

Driskill pitched 3 decent innings in relief, giving up only 1 run. His “fast”ball is about 85, 86 MPH – see, you CAN get guys out even if you don’t throw 95.

Springer pitched a scoreless inning for the Cards. Getting rid of him was one of Purpura’s BIG mistakes, one that gets lost in the deluge of Willy Worship. Troy Percival mopped up the 9th. The Cards picked him up with a minor league contract a few months into the season – he said he wanted to try a comeback and the Cards were one of the few teams who gave him a call. Best I know, Timmy didn’t. This was something Gerry would have jumped all over and right there, to me, is one of the biggest differences between Tim and Gerry.

And speaking of GMs, I read that both Richard Justice of the Chronicle and Tim Brown of yahoo.com are advocating Dan Evans for our new GM – they must have been reading my stuff (hehhehheh). The good thing about Dan Evans, besides his decent track record, is that he is on good terms with a lot of other GMs, something Tim was not, and he knows a LOT of good scouts, scouting people and development people AND he is one of the original stat geeks who worked for STATS Inc inputting data back when he was in college (I’ve forgotten exactly where I read this and I can’t find it). We’d better hope and pray Drayton doesn’t just hire himself another yesman.

Oh, and by the way, in case all yall have forgotten, the Astros most DEFINITELY did not play better as soon as Phil took over back in July 04 and in fact, they did not begin to play better until August 27 – the infamous Roy vs Michael Barrett game that kickstarted the Astros first out of nowhere run – they had played .500 ball that entire 6 weeks from the time Phil had taken over. Click here to read my entry from the end of August 04. On Aug 26, the team was 63-63. When Phil took over on July 15, we were 31-30. Which means that Phil did exactly zero with the team. ROY OSWALT, not Phil, galvanized the team, and from Aug 27 to Oct 3, the Astros went 26-7 to grab the WC on the very last day of the season, beating Colorado (that was just incredible – you had to be there…)

Anyway, enough of saying that it was Phil who changed things when he came on board. He didn’t.

I am not expecting miracles from Cooper. I am, however, hoping he won’t repeat Garner’s mistakes. After today’s press conference, I’m not exactly holding my breath…

8/28/07: Goodbye Garner And Purpura – Part 2

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Many people have expressed surprise that Phil and Timmy were fired with 1 month to go to finish off one of the worst Astros seasons in many years. I certainly expected that one of them would be fired at the end of the season, as SOMEone would have to pay for the putrid performance of this team. I was both surprised and impressed that Drayton had the sense to fire them both NOW. Sure it “could” have waited until the end of the year, but he needed to do this to secure the fan base, most of whom were EXTREMELY unhappy with Phil’s roster shuffling and Tim’s seeming inability to either sign draft picks or acquire players who didn’t practically beg to play here. I simply can’t give Tim “credit” for signing Carlos Lee, Woody Williams or Mark Loretta, for that reason.

What is VERY interesting to me is that national baseball commentators, such as Steve Phillips on BBTN and Jayson Stark, writing for ESPN, have BOTH stated very clearly that McLane is seen as, uh, meddling, or too hands on. And they both said, as I have many times before, that McLane needs to hire good baseball men and let them do their jobs.

Timmy, at this time, is not talking to the media. IF he has had exactly no ability to make essentially any decision, I wouldn’t blame him for not being happy that he has been appointed a scapegoat. On the other hand, he must have known he had taken a job as a yes-man, and he’s too old to not know that the fate of a yes-man is to be a designated scape-goat.

At this point, I would guess that McLane has 2 options: 1 – find another yes-man and repeat the same path to failure and 2 – find a decent baseball man such as Dan Evans, and actually give him control of the club. McLane clearly wants to win (unlike other owners I won’t mention) but at some point, he has to come to grips with the fact that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and that he has no idea how to make a purse in the first place. The most important hire will be the GM – he has to completely re-do a great deal of the badly broken system, from the non-existant Venezuelan (and other Latin American) pipelines, the poor player development system, the poor scouting (or is it the refusal by McLane to sign the more elite and more expensive prospects) and trade for actal prospects to restock the virtually empty minor league system.

We all know that new GMs usually prefer to hire their own managers, so Cecil Cooper may or may not last more than the rest of this year. However, I SERIOUSLY doubt that McLane will hire DePodesta as GM or Joe Girardi as manager. And if Larry Bowa ever gets another job, it most DEFINITELY won’t be here in Houston as the players will rebel against him even faster than they did against Terry Collins…

Anyway, I received this email this morning from Anne Onnamuss, who passed along what appears to be McLane’s performance evaluations of Phil and Tim:
(1) “This employee has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.”
(2) “His men would follow him anywhere, ……. but only out of morbid curiosity.”
(3) “This employee is really not so much of a ‘has-been’, but more of a definite ‘won’t be’.”
(4) “Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.”
(5) “When he opens his mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet.”
(6) “He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle.”
(7) “He has delusions of adequacy.”
(8) “He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.”
(9) “This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”
(10) “This employee should go far, ….. and the sooner he starts, the better.”
(11) “Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.”

(12) “A gross ignoramus – 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus.”
(13) “He certainly takes a long time to make his pointless.”
(14) “He has a knack for making strangers immediately.”
(15) “He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room.”
(16) “When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell.”
(17) “If you see two people talking and one looks bored, ….. he’s the other one.”
(18) “A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on.”
(19) “If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you’d get change.”
(20) “Some drink from the fountain of knowledge;….. he only gargled.”

And my very favorite (printable in this squeaky clean blog) critique of Phil Garner from an internet Brewers fan named “harvey’s wallbangers” – Phil couldn’t manage a lemonade stand at the corner of “Thirsty” and “Parched.”

8/27/07: HALLELUJAH!!! McLane Fires BOTH Garner And Purpura

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I had just picked up the twins from school when my phone rang – it was my mother, and she was so happy she could barely get the words out – THEY’RE BOTH GONE BOTH OF THEM!!! Now this could mean a whole lot of different things, so I carefully said – who’s gone Mama?

Drayton fired BOTH Phil and Timmy this afternoon, just got it from Susanna, can you believe it? There is hope Baby Grrrl, there is now HOPE.

Meaning, of course, that unlike other owners, Drayton is NOT going to be happy watching this baseball club turn into perennial bottom feeders. It has been more than obvious that Phil is not a good manager and had LONG since outlived his effectiveness and it has been more than obvious that Purpura, while he may have other talents, is most definitely NOT a good GM – he can’t make decent trades, can’t work with some agents, can’t identify good waiver wire pickups, can’t even get enough draft picks to fill the farm without picking up lots of minor league FA lifers. Not sure exactly what convinced Drayton that things have GOT to change, but I’m just grateful that he has taken the first step.

I have to add that I hope Drayton has also realized that he himself should not continue as de-facto GM, and that you can NOT win without good baseball men running things.
I had often told my friends that I couldn’t see me continuing to support a team whose owner didn’t care if the team won or not. I have a LOT of respect for Pirates/Royals fans – and I would never agree to actually go to a ballgame just because the stadium was lots of “fun” like an amusement park. I think that more than a few people must have told Drayton that there sure are a lot of fans just like me, who would support a young, rebuilding team, but not a team consisting of a bunch of utility/platoon guys who were cheap.

Cecil Cooper has been appointed interim manager and Tal Smith interim GM. I am praying that he doesn’t decide to hire Randy Smith or (please Lord) Steve Phillips as the next GM, but instead turns to someone with an excellent track record like Dan Evans, or someone with an outstanding reputation as a farm and development man like Mike Rizzo. And I hope Cecil does a good job – we’ve won every single game he’s managed so far.

8/26/07: Jeff Bagwell’s #5 Is Retired

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

And here I have been, staring at the screen for too long, trying to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

I guess, first props to Jeff’s parents – his mothah and fathah, reluctantly converted Red Sawx fans. The boy looks like his mama and I think she’s a tigah too.

Next, I gotta thank Jeff for thanking us, the fans. I know our Nation is a lot smaller than Red Sox Nation, but we LUUUVVVVV our guys just the same.

I was going to re-post all his stats, all his numbers, explain why he should be elected to the HOF, but Zachary Levine has already done that in the Chronicle. Besides, sometimes, I think we focus too much on numbers and not enough on the human side of the game. It is true that his numbers say that he is the best player the Astros ever had, but it’s more than that.

From the original Colt 45s in 1962 to 1980, the Astros had very few real stars on 18 years of losing teams – Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn and JR Richard. Larry had really only 3 good years, Jimmy had the misfortune to hit during the pitchers’ era in the Dome and unfortunately, his numbers seemed to fall as short as his stature and JR Richard was betrayed by the Organization (and still has not really received the recognition he deserves) and his 6 year career tragically felled by a stroke. But they were good players on bad teams.

There were a few more stars in the 80s – Nolan Ryan, who spent 8 years of his 25 year career as an Astro, and Mike Scott, who wasn’t an Original Astro either – he was obtained in a trade with the Mets for Danny Heep after he had finished his 4th year in a Mets uni, and he pitched 8 years for the Astro, having one spectacular year and 4 decent years.

By the time the 80s ended, the good players of the 86 championship years were approaching the end of their careers. In 1990, the Astros were starting to integrate new young players Craig Biggio, Ken Caminiti, Eric Yelding, Eric Anthony and Gerald Young (back in the days when this team still WELCOMED Negro-Americans) with fading stars Bill Doran, Glenn Davis and Terry Puhl. At the trade deadline, they made The Trade – Larry Anderson, an excellent relief pitcher (who, by the way, did an OUTSTANDING job for his new team) to the Red Sox who were in a tight pennant race, for a AA third baseman named Jeffrey Robert Bagwell.

Bagwell had a great glove, a great batting eye and he sprayed doubles all over the field. The Red Sox believed that Scott Cooper, their AAA 3B was going to be a superstar and Bagwell wasn’t (just judging by minor league numbers, I do NOT get this.) Baggy had a .333 BA, .422 OBP and .487 SLG in AA. The previous year in AA, Scott Cooper had a .247 BA, .339 OPS and a .363 SLG and his 1990 stats in AAA were virtually identical.

Anyway, Baggy made the switch to first because it looked as if Cammy would be at third for the next 15 years, and the rest was history. Over the next few years, Baggy, Bidge and Cammy were joined by Luis Gonzalez and Steve Finley and the young team gelled and started winning, though never quiiite enough to win the division, let alone the WC.

Astros fans were stunned after the 94 season when Cammy, Finley and a few other guys were traded to the Padres for Derek Bell, Ricky Gutierrez and a few other guys and Luis Gonzalez and catcher Scott Servais were traded to the Cubs for Rick Wilkins. But Baggy and Biggio stayed. And stayed.

Through all the trades and acquisitions the Astros made over the next 12 years, Baggy and Biggio were a constant. Every year, every game it was #7 at leadoff and #5 in the 3-hole. No matter who else was on the team, no matter whether the pitching was bad, good or great, Baggy and Biggio held it together and could be counted on for great year after great year. And now it is really over. Baggy is gone and in a month, Biggio will follow.

It is really the end of an era. Well, actually, the era should have ended with the WS, but I digress.

This year, we’ll end up at or near the very bottom of the National League. The Astros have been there before, but unlike 1990, it’s different now because there is no core of good young players coming up to start the cycle, there are only a bunch of mediocre utility players plus a star LF who can barely field and a first baseman who is playing RF and an ace pitcher. I can’t see the Astros putting a good, let alone great, team on the field for years.

Baggy and Biggio are in a great part responsible (and make no mistake about it – Roger Clemens joining the team in 2004 easily doubled that fan interest) for the increase in the popularity of Astros baseball in Houston since Baggy joined the team in 1991. The fans came, not just to see winning baseball, but to see them. It will be interesting to see how long the fans will keep coming to the park, will stay interested in the team now that they are gone and they will have taken the remnants of the team’s long standing excellence with them…

8/25/07: Troy Patton Sells Out The Box And Astros Win the Battle For Last In The NL

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Here we are, tied with the Pirates for last place in the NL, and a sellout crowd comes to watch Troy Patton. A Lot of fans complain about Drayton’s luuuuvvvvv for homies, but hey, it seems to work.

Patton gave up 6 hits, 2 HR, 2 BB, 3 ER and 4 K over 5.2 IP – 99 pitches, 57 strikes.

I was most definitely NOT impressed with his stuff. Fastball doesn’t move well, slider is meh. He’s only 21 but he throws like an old guy on the downside of his career. His FB tops out at 86-87 and doesn’t have bite. He threw a LOT of pitches in the middle of the plate and I was surprised he didn’t get hammered. (Note – mlb.com says he has an above average curveball, but I didn’t see him throw a single one, just FB and sliders.)

But the Organization is pimping this guy, so we’ll see how he does. It’s funny because they were criticizing Gutierrez the other day because he has only a mediocre 3rd pitch, his curve. But best I can tell, Patton is a 2 pitch pitcher. He is supposed to be good at pitching inside, but he only threw 7 strikes inside and threw 15 balls inside.

They really better be careful with him because he is already at 156 innings this year and there is no reason to over stress such a young pitcher.

And I guess Carlos Lee must have read all my comments about how he’s the NL’s worst LF outside of Pat Burrell, how he has no range and ambles over to let balls fall in. I guess that made him mad (GOOD) because today he made a GREAT play on a sinking liner in the 6th – I haven’t seen him actually try to get a ball like that in several months. Way to go Carlos – I sure wish you’d try like that all the time.

And the Astros simply SUCKED at bat – 2 walks, 6 singles, and the only run scored on a GIDP. I can’t say enough bad things about the hitting.

8/24/07: Biggio And Lidge Let Albers Down

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Tonight I saw the most amazing sight I have seen this entire season including the return of Josh Hamilton, the return of Rick Ankiel and Barry Lamar Himself being polite to the media all year long – I saw the Pirates’ manager walk Orlando Palmeiro with Brad Ausmus on first and Eric Bruntlett on third – yes, an IBB with first base occupied – yes, an IBB to a guy hitting .230 with virtually no power, to face .327 hitting Hunter Pence and or Lance Berkman. And it worked.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Matt Albers WOULD have won if Biggio hadn’t cost him 2 runs (and Brad Lidge hadn’t coughed up a game tying homer, but I’m getting ahead of myself)… He booted McLouth’s easy ground ball in the first. McLouth, a guy who seldom steals, but carefully picks his spots and is quite successful when he does (11-0 this year, 22-1 lifetime) stole second, then came around on on a single to left.

I hope everybody notes that Carlos Lee, who is being pimped by the Astros Organization for the MVP (strictly because of RBIs) barely loped over to the ball, caught it on a bounce, let the run score and tossed it gently to second. He has the worst zone rating of any LF in the NL – and this means worse than Barry Bonds, who is 12 years older, and Adam Dunn, who has a reputation as a terrible fielder – the only LF with a lower range factor is Pat Burrell.

Biggio cost another run in the second by not getting near Jack Wilson’s grounder – it hurts to watch him now – I remember the days he would have been all OVER that ball.

sigh

You see, Matt pitched 7 great innings, and if he had had even league average defense behind him, he wouldn’t have given up a run. Defense matters.

You are right – I AM in a bad mood. I am tired watching a lousy team that management seems to believe is only a game or 2 away from making an end of the season run to the post season.
Ian Snell was VERY good, as usual, mowing down the Astros 1,2,3 in every inning except the second, in which a Munson sac-fly scored a run and the 7th, when he was suddenly tiring, when he gave up 2 runs on a Carlos Lee single, a Lamb double, a Loretta groundout RBI and a Munson RBI single.

Then Brad Lidge coughed up poor Albers’ win. Nady always kills us – Brad was stupid to throw him a ball down and mid plate and I wanna kick that guy for making this game drag on for 2 more hours. And in fact, it felt like the Atlanta 18 innings game without any of the excitement. Bases kept getting loaded and nobody could manage to get a run across.

I already talked about the 10th. Bases loaded 1 out – Pence Ks, Berkman GO.
In the 13th, Pence and Lance are on 1st and second, no out. Lee and Lamb get out. Scott IBB. Bases loaded, Eric Bruntlett leaves em loaded.
In the 14th, men on first and second, 2 out, Lance grounds out.
In the 15th, down 5, bases loaded, no out. Bruntlett Ks, Burke Ks, Ausmus Ks.
5 &*$^#@! hours long ball game and no cigar.

Hats off to Miller for a scoreless inning, to Moehler for 2 scoreless innings, including getting out of a bases loaded jam by striking out Freddy Sanchez. Travis Driskill came in, threw 2 scoreless innings. Then in his last inning, failure to make a play (an error, for those of all yall who care whether a play not made is an official error or not) by Mike Lamb, who muffed an easy DP ball, opened the floodgates. A 3 run homer, a double, a RBI single, a sac-fly and another RBI single. 5 runs right there. Goodbye ballgame.

Astros left 28 guys on base – only Munson and Biggio didn’t leave anyone on base. You can’t hit with MOB, you can’t take the extra base, you can’t steal, you can’t manage to hit even an RBI single with bases loaded 2 out, well, it’s gonna be pretty tough to win.

Can’t wait to hear Phil spin this one.

I know what a whole lot of fans will say – Lidge is mental, Burke should be released and Loretta signed to a 4 year contract.

It’s good to take a good long look at the Pirates because they are who this team is rapidly turning into.

Phil has announced that top prospect Troy Patton will stay in the rotation, I guess in Jennings’ spot, for the rest of the year. Both Backe and Sampson are rehabbing and are expected back in a week or so. Anyone want to bet that Backe will be put right into the rotation and Sampson will sit on the bench and will barely throw a few pitches in relief. Ah well, at least his elbow will get some more rest…d

8/23/07: Carlos Lee Homers Twice But Gutierrez Loses His First Start

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Eric Munson, Lance Berkman and Luke Scott all wish to send their very worst wishes to Mr. Nook Logan and they are calling the police on him for robbing them of 3 triples and 2 doubles. Nook Logan really is the defensive CF that too many Astros fans wrongly think that Willy Taveras was.

Gutierrez got taken to the cleaners in the first inning, but then settled down and did a creditable job for the next 4 innings. I wasn’t particularly impressed – he has a 91-93 MPH FB, an OK slider and an OK curve. But then again, I was blown away by Taylor Buchholz and look how ordinary he’s done. So I would say that Gutierrez has OK stuff, OK movement and OK location.

He looked nervous when he first got onto the mound. He threw Felipe Lopez a slider for strike 1, then Lopez hit the next slider to flyout. One down, 26 to go. He threw Nook Logan a good FB and Logan laid down a nice bunt for a single and then Gutierrez had to pitch from the stretch with a speedster on first. So Zimmerman hits a low inside fastball just inside the 3rd base line into to corner for a double and Logan scored easily. Then Da Meat Hook hits a low FB at the knees into the gap in right center – another run in. Still only 1 out. Then with a 1-2 count, he hung a curve to Kearns, who hammered it to the RF bullpen wall and another run came in.

Three runs in, and really, only 1 bad pitch. And still, only one out. So Munson went out to calm down his pitcher – relax man, you throwing good, they hitting good pitches, you just fine, atta boy.
So Gutierrez takes a deep breath, concentrates and gets Ryan Church swinging on a slider away. OK. 2 outs, only 1 to go. And then Ronnie Belliard hammers a letter high FB almost onto the train tracks.

Nats 5 Astros zip.

My gawd, the poor guy has given up 5 ER in 0.2 IP which is an ERA of, like 75 or something. He’s flustered, throwing 2 FB way out of the zone before managing to get a slider near the strike zone, which Schneider fouled. He then threw a nice FB on the corner, which Schneider sent back up the middle for a single. Pitcher up – and FINALLY, the third out. ERA down to 45.

Munson settled him down after that and he scattered 4 singles and a double, giving up on more run on a double, groundout, single and a sac-fly. He gave up NO walks, got 4 Ks, gave up 11 hits and 6 ER over 5 IP. Honestly, I think it looks worse than it was and he might could be someone decent.

McLemore pitched 2 innings, giving up a run (turned out to be the game losing run) on 2 walks and a single. Borkowski and Moehler each pitched a scoreless inning.
As usual, the Astros stranded players in almost every inning. Same old story. Carlos Lee drove in 5 with two 2 run homers into the Crawford Boxes and a single.

And now for the Big News!!!!!!!

Troy Patton will be called up for the Saturday start. They sure know how to get people in the seats, hunh? Backe and Sampson are still making rehab starts and it will be interesting to see what happens in a week or so. I would bet money that Phil shoves Sampson into the bullpen to mopup or something. He never liked the guy from the beginning, that is more than obvious.
It will be interesting to see who gets called up on Sept 1 and who actually gets any playing time. Fortunately, since there isn’t any chance of winning anything except 4th place back from the Reds, the guys won’t be under quiiiite as much pressure.