Archive for October, 2010

10/25/10: Only 1 Ex-Stro Will Play In The 2010 Giants-Rangers WS

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Sorry I haven’t written much – too depressed that the Astros future is so dim and the Rangers future so bright.

Aubrey Huff is the lone Ex-Stro on either playoff roster, and he was here for such a short time and contributed so little (and stupid Drayton McLane wouldn’t let us offer arb so we got zippo when he left) that he hardly qualifies as any kind of Astro at all.

But I must say that I am absolutely delighted that the big money East Coast teams are not in the WS, not just because I am interested in seeing if Buck/McCarver will react with the same sort of despair/disrespect/disgust that they did when we played the White Sox. Neither one could be bothered to even try to correctly pronounce Biggio’s name, remember?

Media can’t complain that there are no “storylines” for THIS series neither even though there is no His Jeteriness Clutchhood. And these 2 teams haven’t faced each other this year, so it should be very kewl. I’m actually kind of sorry that it wasn’t him made the final out at Arlington. (Can you believe I’ve read stuff from media insisting that the Yankees should give him a SEVEN year contract at 20+ mill/year and another story saying that the Yankees should give him a 4 year contract at 23 mill/year to “show respect” or something. Jeter says he is going to play until he’s 43 – he’s worse than Biggio…)

Can Cliff Lee dominate teams whose hitters don’t walk much? Interesting that he was simply worse than dreadful both times he pitched against the Houston Astros.

Can Josh Hamilton hit one into the Cove?

Will Rangers pitchers manage to not throw Cody Ross any more low inside FB? And Ah luvvvvvv it when little guys kick ass.

Am still working on Part 2 of Astros’ future. Will recap the efforts of all Ex-Stros in the playoffs once the series is ovah.

10/17/10: Roy Oswalt Pitches A Fantastic Game To Beat Giants And Even NLCS

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Ah jus LUUUUUVVVVVVS me some Roy-O, Phillie or no Phillie.

Tough lil bantam rooster.

Pitched a superlative game, he surely did. Against the Giants, too, a team he’s always had a tough time beating, even when Barry Lamar Bonds wasn’t playing. Gave up 3 walks, 2 singles to Freddie Sanchez, 1 homer to Cody Bonds Ross over 8 innings.

I must mention how, with 2 on and 2 out in the 8th and lefty Aubrey Huff up, when Charlie Manuel went out to the mound to pull Roy and put in lefty Romero, Roy said – I don’t THINK so. And he got Huff to fly out. Last time Roy told a manager to get offn his mound with 2 on and a lefty up, that lefty was Barry Lamar Bonds – and there’s kind of a lil difference between Huff and BLB you know what I’m sayin…

Oh yeah – and with Sanchez pitching well and Roy clinging to a 1 run lead in the 7th – Roy led off with a single, knocking Sanchez out. Then with 1 out, Roy takes off on a single to shallow center AND runs through the stop sign, AND scores with a FANTASTIC slide.

I would say he pitched an even better game than he did in Game 6 at St. Louis in 05, but that was a do or die game and this wasn’t.

I’ll always root for him, unless he’s pitching against us. And I’m sorry he’s not an Astro any more. Happ is no Roy.

The Future Of The Astros After 2010, Part 1

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

It has been tough to think of what to write about – the team is not exactly overflowing with any news, let alone good news. Anderson Hernandez has been removed from the 40 man roster, but, like, honestly, so what? Yeah, he’s a lousy baseball player, and yeah, he has no business on a ML roster, but I sure don’t see anyone who is Mark Loretta V2 out there.

I watch the Rangers and get depressed. Not just because they have an overflowing stadium and because they just seized the entire mid-Texas TV market, but because they have the same problem that the Astros do, namely that they won’t be able to keep Cliff Lee (see Carlos Beltran) because the amount that they would have to over pay to keep him just isn’t worth it, unless they have an otherwise perfect team and they go to the World Series AND they go every year.

Cliff Lee won’t stay in Dallas because

1 – it’s a hitter’s park BIG time (yes, even more than Cincy/Philly) and for some reason, the ballpark was built without a retractable roof and guys who can get BIG money aren’t going to take even the same amount to pitch in that kind of heat

2 – Scott Boras always has his GOOD free agents sign with LA/Detroit/NY/Philly. Kevin Millwood/Chan Ho Park don’t count as good. Scott learned from the Alex Rodriguez debacle (well, not financially, I mean media-ly.)

Other reason I get depressed is because there really IS no way to generate any more interest in either the Rangers or the Astros because

1 – there is no way to grow the market and

2 – there is no way to get national press because no one from the national press wants to talk about Texas teams because no one from the national press is from Texas. A whole lot of sports fans are bandwagon fans – they have no ties to the city or team or even people on the team, they just want to be able to cheer for winning teams and media-hyped popular players (like Jeter, who has, for some reason, reached absolutely mythical status to the extent that some media people have declared him to be the greatest player who ever lived – and yes, including Babe Ruth.) And if the team and its players don’t receive endless hype, the bandwagoners just are not going to jump on (see the Rays – they can’t even get people from Tampa-St. Petersburg to go watch their winning team.)  I know all yall gonna bring up the Dallas Cowboys, but I am gonna remind you that they had endless hype from the 60s to 70s BEFORE the “rule” was put in place about not hyping teams not from large northeast population centers and besides, football has STAHS!!!! in a way that baseball does not (besides Jeter, that is.)

There is no way for the Astros to grow their market because other large population centers in Texas have like zero connection to the Astros. Corpus Christi is not exactly a large population center. I know that the Rangers just signed this megabucks contracts with FoxSports, but unless FoxSports actually is available on regular cable (I mean the standard package) and unless they actually broadcast all the games, like, so what? It’s not exactly going to grow the market. Same, by the way, with any ordinary satellite package. No FoxSports, no watching unless and I mean UNLESS, you have someone so desperate to watch Rangers/Astros games that they will pay extra money and a LOT of extra money for a LOT of extra channels.

And you can’t watch the games on MLB.TV because of the silly blackout rules, even if you go and buy Extra Innings. I’ve never been clear how exactly this benefits the team, but hey, I’m no economist and I guess it really is designed for teams with their own cable channels such as YES and RSN – and other teams don’t matter, right?

Let’s look at other major population centers in this supposedly untapped baseball market, shall we?

Houston to McAllen/Brownsville: 350 miles; population 270K (around that)
Houston to El Paso: 730 miles; population 700K
Houston to Lubbock: 550 miles; population 260 K
Houston to Midland-Odessa: 550 miles; population 270K
Houston to Amarillo: 610 miles; population 240K
Houston to Tyler/Longview: 230 miles; population 400K
Houston to Abilene: 370 miles; population 120K

Of course, I left out San Antonio, and I know it, because I don’t know if FoxSports contract with the Rangers has a clause in the deal that only Rangers games will be broadcast in San Antonio as well as Austin. And as I have said before, San Antonio already HAS a minor league AA team, which is glued to the Padres.

And, by the way, it is not just what happens to be on TV, even IF Fox Sports chooses to broadcast baseball games, it is also the long standing interests of the residents of the city – and at least in Texas, most coverage of sports is heavily centered on the local college. Professional sports get a couple of lines at best. You disbelieve me, check out. say, the Lubbock media and see how much time is given to Texas Tech vs any pro baseball team…

And, by the way, the numbers of humans in one city does not necessarily correlate precisely to the numbers of people who are watching TV. And those numbers don’t necessarily correlate to the numbers of people who actually are able to get Astros games every day with a standard cable package or a standard satellite package. AND that does not necessarily correlate to people who watch Astros games who have any money which they actually spend on the team. Purchase of Astros gear is split amoung 30 teams unless bought at the stadium. And how many people are actually going to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms to go to Houston and watch baseball games? Even IF the team is winning. (By the way, back when the team WAS popular/winning and I was going to a lot of games, I asked all kinds of people in Astros gear if they were from Houston or somewheres else and almost everyone came from close to Houston – and yes, Galveston/Beaumont/Port Arthur/Galveston/Alvin/College Station count as close to Houston. But most people were from Houston.)

Answer – not real too many, seeing as how a whole lot of baseball fans don’t have that kind of $$$ – the same reason I have to laugh when Bud Selig and gang talk about putting a ML team in San Antonio – they gots the live bodies, but those there live bodies who are into baseball don’t gots the money AND there is no corporate base from which to extract those lovely corporate sponsorships. (Should I mention that the San Antonio Ballpark seats 6200 + 3000 on the grass and draws around 4000 people/game and is on the West side, right off the Highway 90, so not hard to get to and it STILL doesn’t draw full crowds.)

MLB should have learned its lesson from its ill-fated expansion into Florida – 12,000 people came to the Ray’s stadium to watch the team’s last game of the season. And most people who bother to even go to the stadium are Yankee/Red Sox fans – bandwagoners and transplants. It ain’t the stadium – the popular excuse given by Buddy Boy and gang – it’s the POPULATION. They either aren’t interested in going to an actual baseball game, or they are from Up There and are fans of other teams.

And I bring this up because most top free agents not only want to go to a winning team, they want to go to a winning team which gets the most possible national publicity. Anyone think that CC Sabathia would have stayed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin even IF he had been offered more money/years than the Yankees AND their owner was the richest person in the world who would make George Steinbrenner look like a piker in the spending money department? Answer is no, because Milwaukee will never generate any sort of national interest with the media, even if the team went to the WS 10 years in a row and yes I know all about the Wisconsin Packers (they are around Milwaukee give or take a hundred miles) but the national media deals with football very differently than it does baseball.

Lance Berkman was one of the best players in the majors for 10 years, and nobody but fantasy league players even heard of him because he almost never was mentioned in the national news media. Bagwell and Biggio are almost unknown because they played for Houston and the national media never talked about them. The last non-ex-Yankee player I can remember who got ANY sort of significant national coverage at all, besides Roy Oswalt and his bulldozer (and that was all the – ain’t he a rednekk hickk – sort of coverage) was Mike Scott. And yes, my memory of him is significantly augmented by my Mama, seeing as how I was a small child in 86.

Where was I?

Oh yes, where will the Astros go next year? There sure nuff won’t be MORE fans, irrespective of the Rangers incursion into what was once Astros territory. No top free agent is going to come here regardless, and one player alone can not take the team to the WS and win (see Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Billy Williams, etc.)  and we will be stuck with Clank at 1B/LF, and at either position, he will be a huge negative, unless he somehow just had a bad year for no reason and he magically turns back into 2008 Clank, not that I’m holding my breath.

I know that Jeff Bagwell was magically supposed to have made this great difference, but fact is that the Astros offensive rankings at the ASB didn’t change and the team (including all players who even had 1 PA) ended up 29th in BA, SLG, OBP, LAST in walks and 5th in K.

Not sure I see much of any sort of change for next year, neither, no matter WHO they hire as a hitting coach. Very few guys actually acquire plate discipline, Sammy Sosa being a rare example (and yes, I know he has already been tried and convicted of using steroids based on the fact that he hit too many home runs, but I don’t really get how steroid use has any effect on a ballplayer’s ability to recognise pitches that will be out of the zone and to refrain from swinging at them.)

Neither Brett Wallace nor Chris Johnson took much of any walks as minor leaguers: Wallace, now age 24, walked roughly 50 times/162 game season and CJ, now age 26, walked roughly 34 times/162 games – and, even worse, he grounded into an average of 22 DPs/162 games. Unless he changes his approach significantly, learns somehow NOT to swing at everything that comes near the plate (especially changeups – he isn’t near as vulnerable to sliders off the plate, don’t ask me why) he is going to have some serious trouble next year, as pitchers will have a much better idea how to get him out (see Hunter Pence, year 2.)

And CJ best spend a lot of the winter taking fielding practice, too. Even Ozzie Smith made errors, but CJ makes waaaaayyy too many (you do not want to hear his fielding scores) and he doesn’t make enough spectacular plays to compensate. And gloves certainly DO lose games – see Brooks Conrad, poor guy. And gloves certainly DO win games (see, for example, any OF who has pulled back what would have been the game winning homer) and trouble is that third basemen/middle IF usually don’t get the spotlight for game ending fielding plays and they sure as HECK don’t get any spotlight for making difficult plays look routine (see Adam Everett) and too many fans care ONLY about batting average and don’t believe that runs saved makes one little bitty bit of difference. Although they sure as heck notice plays NOT made…

At least Wallace has a very VERY solid glove. AND if Clank plays 1B, Wallace is going to get sent to AAA to rot. He has exactly zero to learn there (like JR Towles) and I personally believe that in the vast majority of cases, it is harmful to a player’s development to keep him at AAA waaaaaaay to long. He simply does not learn to hit ML pitching and yes, there IS a vast difference. The Evan Longorias/Ryan Brauns are the RARE exceptions – guys who tear UP minor leaguers and come up and tear UP major leaguers year after year.

Wallace tore UP minor league pitching the minute he got there at every level. He was given only 159 PA scattered over 51 games at the ML level. I don’t have game logs for minor league games, so I have no idea whether or not Wallace took more than 150 PA to adjust to each minor league level, but he was playing every single DAY, most likely batting in the 3,4 or 5 hole, not the 7th or 8th. I don’t know and I can’t tell whether or not he can or will be able to hit ML pitching consistently and put up the numbers which are expected of a ML first baseman, but if he is going to be kept at AAA or turned into a bench player/platooned, we’ll never know, especially as he is one of the rare leftys who hits leftys as well as/better than rightys.

Tommy Manzella has an excellent glove – not Adam Everett level, but then again, that is not exactly a fair comparison because since 03, I haven’t seen ANY major league shortstop approach Adam Everett’s glove. Not that fans care, unless they do back flips on their way on the field. With respect to the bat – the good news is that Tommy alwsays struggled when he was promoted BUT he improved at that level every single year; first year at AAA, he had a .567 OPS over 247 PA. Next year, he posted a .756 OPS over 580 PA. Yeah, I know you are not impressed, as these are not exactly Tulo/Hanley type numbers, but they ARE respectable for a VERY good fielding SS. This year, he posted a .531 OPS over 285 PA. And he increased the OPS to .581 in 69 PA AFTER the ASB – and this is also with him only receiving sporadic playing time. But, unless he bats second, he is not really going to hit over ML average for a SS and he’ll be 28, so it is really do or die time for him.

His competition is Angel Sanchez, a mediocre at best fielder. His AAA OPS over the past 3 years: .584, .791 (and that is at Las Vegas – think pre-humidor Coors) and .675. He isn’t exactly Tulo or Hanley. Question is – does the slightly better hitting outweigh the significantly inferior glove? Can’t tell from previous ML stats, mostly because he had only 30 PA. He doesn’t walk much (like Tommy) and he doesn’t hit for power much (like Tommy) and he is not fast on the basepaths (UNLIKE Tommy) and he doesn’t have baserunning smarts (UNLIKE Tommy.)

Most fans will prefer Sanchez ONLY because of the higher BA, because they don’t care how well a SS fields unless he makes lots of errors. Well, they don’t care about that neither – look at Miggy Tejada and his lead glove – as long as he hit over .280.

In either case, we aren’t getting any sort of good, solid bat. Downs was a utility guy in the minors, too, playing mostly second base. He was originally slotted at third, but guess he wasn’t real too particularly good there. Over his minor league career, he played 217 games at second, 131 at third, 33 at short and none at first. Which is not great, IF Clank is going to be your 1B because you need someone who actually CAN play the position (remember Loretta, Blum, Jose Vizcaino – shudder) and the other utility guy, Michaels, is strictly an OF. He has spent part of 08, all of 09 and part of 2010 at AAA and here are his numbers: 705 OPS over 94 PA; .834 over 467 PA; .764 OPS over 228 PA – all at Fresno. He had a .690 OPS at San Fran over 88 PA this year before being released. NOT Loretta. NOT even Blum.

And, by the way, I want to point out that Ed Wade’s record of picking out utility IF runs to Jason Smith, Anderson Hernandez, Matt Kata, Jose Castillo etc – his only non-dreadful pick has been Angel Sanchez. I doubt that Matt Downs is going to blossom into a good hitter/fielder either.

Jason Castro? The only thing I think I CAN judge is his glovework. Which is, uh, er, let’s say, a work in progress. He is absolutely terrible at blocking balls – I mean, terrible. He frames pitches well and has a very strong and accurate arm – I only saw him make a bad throw twice, which is awesome. As for his bat – well, let’s be real here – he was never projected to be a superstud like Buster Posey, who spent too much time in the minors, considering his abilities. Castro, on the other hand, spent too little time in the minors, considering his abilities. He didn’t even hit AAA pitching very well before being called up because Ed Wade’s little petsy-poo didn’t like Towles. Castro had 267 PA over 67 games for a whopping .573 OPS, AND he was platooned heavily (except for always catching Wandy) and had only 46 PA vs leftys – had 3 hits and 3 walks. He had only a .669 OPS vs rightys, not good either.

Not that Quintero was exactly much better – had a .570 OPS over 265 AB. He, like Castro, hit rightys much better (so much for platoon splits) and has a lifetime OPS of .593 in the bigs.

By the way – remember fans screaming about how terrible a bat Bradley Awesomeness was? The automatic out? The absolutely superlative defensive catcher? Let me post his OPS from 03 to 07: .594, .631, .682, .593, .641. Not Piazza, but incredibly better than anyone else who has caught – and yet, no one (but Towles) has caught any youknowwhat for lack of bat.

Castro could certainly improve with both glove and bat. I can’t predict anything because he had so little time in the minors. I know all the Guys Who Know Their Stats have somehow already divined his True Talent Level, but as for me, I would rather not because we have too little data and he is having to spend his minor league years in the majors. The Organization is desperate for him to succeed, so he is gonna stay, no matter what, so he’ll get at least 300 PA next year and who knows – maybe he’s practicing catching balls as hard as Chris Johnson is.

Jeff Keppinger – reasonable glove (at second – don’t even think about short) and solid bat for a second baseman. This year, slightly exceeded his career line of .281/.339/.391/.729. No Biggio/Kent, but at least he’s dependable and I don’t see why he would be removed from second, seeing as how we have no Ian Kinsler available to replace him.

sigh

Summary – I sure nuff don’t see anything that resembles even a league average hitting infield – AND if Angel Sanchez is the SS, it will be a waaaay below average fielding infield as well. Unless miracles happen, of course…

youneverknow

Part 2 soon – I hope…

Astros News And Notes Oct 4, 2010

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Briefly:

Jason Michaels is staying (900 K option picked up) and Geoff Blum is not (1.65 mill option). Money talks. I guess this means that Bogusevic will be the 5th OF again and I just hope they are NOT gonna keep Anderson Hernandez.

Surgery:

Fulchino is having something done to his elbow. Those of us who thought that he was a lot more hurt than we were told were obviously right.

Bogusevic is having some kind of bone sputs shaved off his foot.

Byrdak is (probably) having a hernia fixed. Good idea to do it in the offseason so you don’t lose time like Mike Cameron did.

Not sure what is gonna happen with Lindstrom, or exactly what was bothering his back. Not sure about Felipe Paulino, either, or if he is going to have some kind of MRI or scope on his shoulder.

Tommy Manzella IS going to go and play winter ball in the Dominican. Good. Because, if I remember rightly, Angel Sanchez is going home to Puerto Rico to play winter ball, too.

I hope that Castro is NOT playing winter ball – he looks exhausted. I hope that Chris Johnson is gonna work on his throwing. I don’t know what Brett Wallace is going to do – it probably doesn’t matter because if Clank plays at first, he is essentially permanently screwed. unless he gets lucky and gets traded to a team that will actually play him full time.

Astros End 2010 Season With A Win As Nelson Figueroa Pitches Second Shutout Outing

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Yes I did go to all 3 games to close out the year. I hate October unless the Astros are playing for something besides golf games (WHY??? are baseball players so into golf? Which is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But I digress…)

Friday night – date night with Husby-doo. I was a little worried because the roof was open, but fortunately, the sun was weak and we were on the 3rd base side and there was a little breeze besides. I guess I should call this game – the home plate ump refuses to call almost any pitch below the mid-thighs or anywhere near the outside corner as a strike. Bud walked SEVEN, and I went home and looked at gameday, just to make sure I wasn’t completely crazy, and I wasn’t. Bud did his darndest to adjust, but the Cubs had the sense (unlike the Astros, but I’ll get there in a minute) to not swing at much.

He gave up only 2 runs, one by a Castillo smash off the LF bullpen with Bobby Scales, who is VERY fast scoring from first (he walked) and the other on a fly ball to right by Casey Coleman, the PITCHER, on a ball that Pence TOTALLY misplayed. He twisted and turned on his way to the ball like – well, like a guy who didn’t know which way to go. Not that it would have mattered if he had caught it, because losing 1-0 isn’t real too different than losing 2-0.

The Astros swung early and they swung often – they went to a 3 ball count exactly 3 times, and one of those was a walk to Castro. CJ has slumped badly since the beginning of the Washington series, and he’s swinging at almost every single pitch. Bagwell has been working with him, I guess, trying to get him to go the other way and it is helping him ground into double plays. Baggy walked a LOT. The Astros are last in walks in the NL, and last in OBP, gee, what a surprise. Bourgeois, Kepp, Clank and CJ all went ofer, and you ain’t gonna win like that.

And Saturday, it was grrrrls night out – Went with Lil Miss and Mama and a few of her gf – and for once, the Box was pretty crowded (Biggio bobblehead giveaway, natcherly)so we got to Watch J Happ not be able to find the strike zone – and THIS time, it wasn’t all the ump, although it sure nuff was to the first batter – THREE pitches called balls were right in the strike zone. But tonight, Anderson Hernandez was playing second – what IS it with playing this guy so much?? He’s this year’s Matt Kata. I hope to gawd that he’s NOT on next year’s team, and if he’s not, why on earth not get as much playing time for Tommy Manzella and Angel Sanchez as possible?

JA sure as heck wasn’t helped ANY by his fielders (and it WAS nice to see Wallace at first even though it was NOT nice to see Clank in left – why the heck can’t he get some time off and have Bogusevic play??? (guess that comes from the GM/owner) because if is not like Clank has been tearing the cover offn the ball these past few weeks. I don’t know why I even bother to complain about Clank any more – he’s making 19 mill, he’s playing no matter what. In the second inning, one out bases loaded, a ball is hit to shallow left – he ambles over to get it and of course 2 runs score. If it had been either Bogusevic or Bourgeois playing, they would have gotten to the ball a LOT faster and they ARE capable of throwing accurately, and HARD, and the runner might could have been held at third. And Baker isn’t the fastest guy and I doubt he could have scored on Ramirez’ flyout – too shallow.

But the worst fielding happened in the 4th. First, CJ overthrows the ball on what should have been a dead easy 5-3.  I’ve groused about him getting errors because Clank makes Prince Fielder look like John Olerud at 1st. But this one was flat out, no argument about it inexcuseable. He’d better work on that throwing, because 18 errors in half a season is not ok. (It IS OK if you are Miguel Tejada, being paid 14 mill, but I digress…)

Next hitter hits a little nubber to the 3rd base side of the mound – this is a play in which the catcher is supposed to get the ball and throw the runner out, unless the pitcher is an ex-infielder like Backe – pitchers are almost never gonna get that ball and make the play. But both he AND Castro hesitated – doesn’t Castro scream something about I’LLGETIT!!! so there’s men on first and second, no out. Next hitter hits one of those popups to shallow center and Bogu is good but not Bourn. Hernandez SHOULD have gone back to get it, but he didn’t even bother to try. Sanchez didn’t really go there either. Not sure if Kepp woulda gotten it, but Tommy sure nuff would have. And naturally, 2 pitches later, grand slam and the Astros are down 8-0.

Really, the end of the game.

Remember how the Cubs fans wanted Zambrano OFF their team, but he had too big a salary and he’s emotional, or something?

He looked like his usual Zambrano self and the Astros, as usual, swung early and swung often. taking 13-14 pitches/inning. Through 6 innings, the Astros went to a 3 ball count only once, and that was a walk. Only twice did a hitter force Zambrano to throw at least 6 pitches in an AB. Same crap, different day.

In the 7th, Z lost a bit of control after Pence ROE5, walking the next 2 hitters. Then CJ got a FC RBI and Brett Wallace hit a 2 RBI double. The boy is determined to go out with a bang, so he won’t necessarily get poopoo-canned. He’s got exactly zero left to do at AAA. Good news is that for the second day in a row, the Astros bullpen gave up zero runs.

And today was family day. All of us went – wasn’t exactly tough to find seats together, couldn’t have been more than 15,000 people actually THERE. We didn’t have seaeson tickets, so we couldn’t go down to the bullpen and meet n greet the players and get autographs. But we wouldn’t have gotten there in time anyway, thanks to it being tougher and tougher to get 4 kids ready to GO. So we got there in time for me to see someone warming up who looked righty – NO WANDY!!!!! and there I was in my Wandy shirt, hoping he would throw a shutout to finish off the year, but no, it was Figgy (found out from someone else in the section that Wandy had pulled something. ?rib muscle? and so no Wandy.

sob

But Figgy was absolutely teh awesome. Really. Honest. In 6 innings, he went to 3 ball counts TWICE (not counting the IBB) and he struck out EIGHT, gave up 5 singles and a double down the line and no hard hit balls. I was a little disdainful of him shutting out the Reds’ bench last week, but today, he faced the Cubs regular lineup and he was absolutely NAILS. Looked as if he coulda pitched the 7th, too.

As for the guys, even with Clank in left, no fielding effups, CJ threw easily, accurately (WHY??? does he have these throwing problems????) and Tommy Manzella, at short, showed why he is a REALLY good glove man. FANTASTIC play on a ball in the hole (Blum and Sanchez wouldn’t have made it) and another AWESOME play on a ball up the middle. He also drove in 2 runs with 2 RBI singles and also walked. Going out on a very high note.

And he’s going to go and play winter ball, too. Good. Because I want to see him hitting at least as well as he did his last year at AAA – he’s improved every year he repeated a level, and not everyone is gonna hit like Hanley Ramirez – not that he’s even an average fielder there. But I digress…

Bogu played center again. He and Bourgeois play pretty well there, but they ain’t no Bourn. We get so used to Michael, it’s hard to not criticize other guys for not being him. And those guys are waaaaay better than Jason Michaels. I guess I should say that Bogu took the golden sombrero. However, it took a minimum of 7 pitches to get him out and he went to 3-2 counts twice. Pence did nothing, Clank hit an elcheapo into the Crawford Boxes and CJ singled, scored the first run, GIDP and grounded out.

Good news is that Wilton Lopez and Fernando Abad and Brandon Lyon all went out and threw scoreless innings. Meaning that the bullpen had a scoreless series, which is great.

So the 2010 Astros end up 76-86, 2 games improved over last year. I’ll do the autopsy on this year’s corpse over the next few weeks. I won’t be writing every day, but will try to post on days in which there are no games.

Congrats to the Rays for winning the NL East (they’re my AL team because of the huge number of ex-Stros). The Yecchs take the WC and go to Minnesota. They’ve always, and I mean always beaten the Twins in the playoffs, so let’s hope the Twins this year have their Astros-Braves 04 year. And speaking of Braves, congrats to them for winning the WC. Guess they went out and won one for the Chipper.

so to speak.

Congrats to the Giants, winning on the last day of the year. And here I am remembering 04 and Brandon Backe beating the Rockies to win the WC the last day of the year. The most incredible, most intense game EVAH. Really, screaming fans inside and OUTSIDE the ballpark. I miss it. And the last 4 years of massive September suckage, starting with The Year Of The Biggio Primadonna-ship – I’m tired of this. I want to go back to the playoffs where we belong.

No idea what on earth we can do over the next few years because frankly, we have no Buster Poseys anywhere in the farm. And Ed Wade’s forte is finding relief pitchers, not position players like Burrell and Andres Torres (he finds Anderson Crappy Hernandezes and Matt Hit-o-phobic Downs – although I DO gots to give him some cred for Angel Sanchez, who is most certainly not any sort of heavy hitter…)

Sorry so long – Posnanski length without Posnanski quality.