Getting Defensive About The 2008 Astros

I keep hearing how the Astros defense is going to be SOOOOOOO much better this year. I don’t get it.

Let’s take a look at the starters:
First Base: Berkman is Berkman – way below average as a  defender. Yes, no more Mike Lamb, but it is not like one great glove at first was replaced with a lousier one. And Loretta is even worse at first.
Second Base - Biggio to Matsui (Assuming Matsui will play 2 out of every 3 games, based on his history during his 6 year ML career) definitely better; Biggio to Loretta/Blum for the other 1/3 – minimal to no improvement there.
Shortstop – Everett to Tejada – ENORMOUS downgrade; Loretta to Tejada – some improvement, but not a whole lot, unfortunately.
Third Base – Ensberg to Wigginton – significant downgrade; Lamb to Wiggy -barely an upgrade as both are terrible gloves.
Catcher – Ausmus/Munson to Towles/Ausmus – no real obvious difference at this point as Ausmus has been declining with age and Towles hasn’t caught enough to really evaluate well, except to say that he doesn’t have a reputation as a lousy defender.
Left Field – It’s still Carlos Lee and he’s just awful and there is zero reason to think that a perennial lousy defender will suddenly improve.
CF/RF – Pence/Scott to Bourn/Pence – Pence and Scott were both average to a little above average; Bourn has a good reputation, but very few innings and we’ll have to see how well Pence handles right. I would assume that Pence will not be worse in right than he was in center and he has a reasonably strong arm – we’re not talking Pierre/Damon here – and, unlike Willy Taveras, Pence knows what a cutoff man is and how to throw to him. There may be some upgrade, but it won’t be much.

Conclusion – there is NO great defensive upgrade with the exception of the 100-114 games Matsui replaces Biggio at second. Like Porky Pig says at the end of the original Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 century cartoon, Big Deal…

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8 Responses to “Getting Defensive About The 2008 Astros”

  1. wags says:

    I know Jason Lane didn’t play enough last year for inclusion in this analysis, but I recall his being a pretty good OF with a strong, accurate left arm (could have been a nice loogy, huh?).
    According to the box score for today’s game, as of the sixth inning, both Lane (throwing) and Ensberg (fielding) have committed errors. And so has Bourn (throwing), who was also caught trying to steal.
    But it’s still early; everybody’s still oiling their joints.

  2. Kris says:

    wags
    Jason did have a strong OF arm, the best of any Astro OF – but problem is, he hasn’t hit worth spit in the last 2 years and it doesn’t look like that’s changed yet …
    Today he was 0-4 (did have 1 RBI on an out) and 6 guys LOB
    Not good, plus the error … poor guy

  3. Kris says:

    I know it’s early ST but Tejada currently has the lowest BA on the roster
    Plus his errors
    Oy …

  4. Kris says:

    oops
    I meant, Dios Mio!

  5. Lisa Gray says:

    yeh i know it is still early – the guys stretch and lift all winter – they don’t shag balls or make OF throws or take IF type practice…
    but to my eye tejada doesn’t look like much of an improvement on loretta
    jason DID have a strong and accurate arm. poor guy – he wasted away in AAA and the bench for waaaayyy too long. ah well – at least he can say he played in the WS which is a lot more than a whole lot of better ballplayers can say.
    actually, last year was the first that jason lane got above average marks as a fielder – the previous 3 years he ranked at the very bottom of RF

  6. Kevin Bradshaw says:

    Exactly, Lisa, this is what I’ve been saying. And they imperceptably improved the lineup and made the bullpen slightly worse, same rotation.
    They took on alot of payroll to merely swap out unwanted useful players like Burke and Scott who were basically free.
    Same team, different names.

  7. Steve Schramm says:

    roy’s gonna quit if this keeps up. gives up four runs, one earned due to two tejada screw-ups. or maybe he’ll blow out his arm trying to strike everyone out so no balls get to ss.

  8. Lisa Gray says:

    i don’t blame roy – no wonder he gave up so many walks last year. and poor sampson – he can’t be effective without great IF defense
    i still can’t find any orioles fans who think that tejada was even an average defender – well, except for a very strong throwing arm that is