Tagged: Houston Astros

Home Cooking

By: Big Rygg

In what is hopefully the first of 9 victories on this homestand, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 3-2 courtesy of a Mike Cameron walk-off sacrifice fly. It was one hell of an ending to an exciting game, if at times frustrating, game.

J.J. Hardy had a 3/4 night with two huge RBIs and recently maligned Bill Hall scored the winning run on the aforementioned sac fly. Pretty much every one contributed in some way, but probably the biggest story of the night goes to starting pitcher Dave Bush.

The night started out seemingly on a powder keg as Bush allowed a solo home run in each of the first two innings, one being a rookie’s first career homer. Those two runs, though, would be all the Braves would get off of Bush or any other Brewer pitcher for that matter. Recently acquired Julian Tavarez pitched a perfect 8th inning on 8 pitches and Salomon Torres worked around one hit in the 9th and earned the victory on Cameron’s walk-off.

All in all, a good night for the Brewers and hopefully the jumping off point for a strong homestand. The Brewers are, after tonight, a mere 3 games over .500 at home. Granted, they’ve only played a MLB-lowest 21 games at home, but even still, the Crew needs to pick it up. I’m very encouraged by the face that the Brewers now sit 2 games under .500 overall after having played 31 games on the road so far. That being said, if we pick up the pace on this homestand, we stand to be a few games over .500 by the end of it.

The Braves have won 6 games on the road all year. We need to exploit that. Houston is only one game over .500 on the road, so we can hopefully use that to our advantage. Arizona, who had the majors’ best record at one point this year, did most of that work at home where they are 19-9. Away from Chase Field, they are 11-13.

After the beginning of the year where we ran into everyone’s aces, things have turned a bit, at least during this homestand. We avoid Roy Oswalt when Houston comes to town (even though he’s been getting hit way above average so far this year). We avoid Brandon Webb when the Diamondbacks come to town. We’re going to avoid Tom Glavine while the Braves are here…

The point is, all nine of these games are winnable. We won one…let’s see how far we can take these next eight games.

Brewer Nation SPS ’08: Houston Astros

By: Big Rygg

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Houston Astros

 
2007 Record: 73-89
4th place in the NL Central

2007 Review

The 2007 Houston Astros were just three seasons removed from representing the National League in the World Series. The National League has a bit more competitive balance in it than does the American League, but to fall to 16 games under .500 in such a short time something drastic had to have happened. In the Astros’ case, it’s called transition. Gone are the days of the Killer Bs (the only remaining member is Lance Berkman). Gone are the days of a rotation so stacked that Roy Oswalt was the #3. Gone are the days of an NL Central Champion contender.

What was here, in 2007, were a few of pieces on offense that could add up to a winning combination in a few years. LF Carlos Lee, 1B Berkman and RF Hunter Pence lead the way for this Astros team that has added new starters at CF, 3B, SS, 2B and C…yes folks, that’s all the other starting spots, but more on that later.

The Astros didn’t score enough in 2007, but more than that they had a very hard time putting together quality outings from starting pitchers other than the aforementioned staff ace Oswalt.

Oswalt started 32 games, twirled a 3.18 ERA, but only won 14 games and somehow lost 7. Only one other regular starter for the Astros last year (Chris Sampson, 7-8) came within two games of being over .500…that’s how bad their pitching was after Oswalt.

Therein lies the story of the Astros in 2007. Poor pitching led to a lot of losses that the offense couldn’t make up for, including a team-worst 10-game skid between May 20th and May 30th. The ‘Stros fell behind early in the standings and often in games and finished the regular season 9 games off their 2006 2nd place finishing pace. 

Comings and Goings

The biggest move for the Astros in the offseason, in my opinion, involved a coming and a going at the Closer spot. The Astros sent the oft-beleaguered Brad Lidge to the Philadelphia Phillies (in exchange for new CF Michael Bourne) and traded for 2007 NL Saves leader Jose Valverde then of the NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

There were a few other big name additions made by the Astros, but none should produce more immediately notable results as the change at closer.

The Rest of the Additions…

Geoff Blum – OF
Michael Bourn – CF
Doug Brocail – RP
Jack Cassel – SP
Alberto Castillo – C
Shawn Chacon – SP
Victor Diaz – OF
Darin Erstad – OF
Geoff Geary – RP
J.R. House – C
Kaz Matsui – 2B
David Newhan – OF
Chad Paronto – RP
Miguel Tejada – SS
Oscar Villareal – RP

Those that left:

Matt Albers – RP
Josh Anderson – CF
Craig Biggio – 2B
Eric Bruntlett – SS
Chris Burke – 2B
Adam Everett – SS
Juan Gutierrez – SP
Jason Jennings – SP
Mike Lamb – 3B
Trever Miller – RP
Orlando Palmeiro – OF
Chan Ho Park – SP
Chad Qualls – RP
Cody Ransom – SS
Luke Scott – OF

25 Man Roster

Click here to see the Reds’ 25 Man Roster. This will save space and reading time if you don’t care.

Potential Starters

Here’s the way I see the starting eight and five-man rotation as of opening day this season. This is not in batting order by any means.

C – J.R. Towles
1B – Lance Berkman
2B – Mark Loretta (though Kaz Matsui will start once healthy, most likely)
3B – Ty Wigginton
SS – Miguel Tejada
LF – Carlos Lee
CF – Michael Bourn
RF – Hunter Pence
P – Roy Oswalt
P – Brandon Backe
P – Wandy Rodriguez
P – Shaun Chacon
P – Chris Sampson

Extras on Players

If this Michael Bourn is as good as some are suggesting he’ll be, the Astros should have quite the good OF. Pence was a Rookie of the Year candidate until he got injured and missed roughly a month of time. All baseball fans, especially those of us in Milwaukee, know what Carlos Lee can do, and Bourn himself could compete for the ROTY this year if he performs as advertised.

Another thing to mention would be Tejada’s inclusion in the Mitchell Report. Bud Selig doesn’t appear to be handing out any penalties or whatnot based on the report, so maybe Tejada slides by on that. The real thing to pay attention to is whether or not his tailed off numbers last year were an anamoly or if they were becoming the norm.

X-Factor

The X-Factor for this club, to me, is first-year manager Cecil Cooper. There is enough talent on this ball club (offensively) to hang in a lot of games, and it might come down to whether or not proper and timely decisions are made by Cooper when dealing with his pitching staff and defense.

2008 Predictions

Record: 75-87
 

Final Thoughts

Can the culture in Houston change from one of Oswalt-and-Oh-no! to something resembling confidence in their chances to win more than once every five days? Backe, Rodriguez and Sampson (somewhat) are holdovers from last year’s rotation. If they, along with retread Shaun Chacon, can’t get it together, it won’t matter what Roy Oswalt does…again. The most newsworthy thing coming out of Houston this year might wind up being the yearly trade rumors regarding Roy Oswalt. For the Brewers’ sake? Sure…that’ll work. For the sake of Houston fans, let’s hope that at least the majority of talk is regarding youth and the future potential and not Tejada and his past (alleged) mistakes.

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Agree/Disagree? As always, feel encouraged to leave comments.