Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Andy looks at the 2004 Astros through slightly-rose-colored glasses, predicts the lineup, playoffs, and suggests that Dan Miceli is poop. I make occasional comments (in bold)

"i love all your new posts, but you seem to be making a 180 degree
turnaround from the statistician field. Which is awesome. I've always
thought Bidge and Bags should stay with the Stros, even if it meant
keeping them around for longer than they were valued. I'm sure Billy
Beane and all his followers would have shipped off the old guys long
ago (or at least traded them in their primes), but you're exactly right
about those two having a HUGE effect that isn't reflected in their

They're team leaders, they draw a crowd, they create team identity,
they helped bring Pettitte and Rocket, and they're still DAMN GOOD. I say
Biggio goes .280-.350-.500
(Biggio's slugging % the last three years are .455, .404, and .412)
and swipes at least a dozen bases to reach 500. While I'm at it, Bagwell goes .300-.375-.600 (Bagwell's slugging % the last three years are .568, .518, .524)
and has another 100-rbi season. In fact, I bet Hidalgo finally pieces together two
consecutive monster seasons, but gets overshadowed by Berkman's huge comeback with 50 -- count-em -- homers (he had 25 last year, although he did have 42 the year before) and a 1.000 OPS. Kent goes for a .950 OPS, finally healthy (I think this is pretty likely). Ensberg drops off a bit, but still impresses with an .850 OPS (I think that's very likely). Ausmus uses his second half as a springboard to a .700 OPS season (I hope so), and Everett wins the Gold Glove while putting up a .750 OPS (very possible).

Oh yeah, and the Stros will be the first team in history with four 20
game-winners, and we go 150-12 (all 12 losses are Redding's, despite a
sub-3.00 ERA). And we don't lose a game in the playoffs. (I like it. Seriously, we could win 100 games pretty easily.)

But seriously, might we shop Hidalgo to Baltimore? Who could we get? I
like Jay Gibbons, but not THAT much. The thing is, we don't need
anything that we could get in return for Hidalgo. Maybe a RF, but if we
do shop him, we'll have Lane. I say there's no way we get ridda him,
not after all these emotional signings. It'd leave a bitter aftertaste in
the collective mouth of Houston, and if (should my predictions somehow
miss the mark) our offense falters again, we'll miss his power. (If we do shop Hidalgo, I imagine we'd try to package Roberston with him and get prospects. I also hope we don't - Lane has fewer than 100 AB's in the majors, and we would miss Hidalgo's patience, power, and arm.)

I was pondering our best possible line-up, rotation, bench and bullpen,
and a potential playoff schedule whilst at a school board (read: bored)
meeting in Starr, S.C. Methinks you will partake in imbibing me quaff

1. Biggio .280 - .350 - .500 (probably closer to a .450 slugging)
2. Berkman .300 - .450 - .550
3. Hidalgo .300 - .425 - .525 (Hidalgo's never drawn more than 58 walks, so I don't see a 425 OBP)
4. Bagwell .280 - .375 - .600 (probably closer to .550 slugging)
5. Kent .300 - .400 - .550
6. Ensberg .275 - .350 - .500
7. Ausmus .250 - .300 - .400 (Ausmus will not slug .400)
8. Everett .275 - .325 - .425

Vizcaino .250 - .300 - .400
Lane .280 - .350 - .500
Chavez .250 - .300 - .400
Porter .275 - .325 - .450

Oswalt 2.50, 1.15, 250 K
Pettitte 3.00, 1.20, 180 K (higher ERA)
Clemens 4.00, 1.30, 200 K
Miller 3.00, 1.25, 225 K (higher ERA, fewer K's)
Redding 3.50, 1.30, 150 K

Robertson 4.50, 1.50
Hernandez 3.50, 1.35
Duckworth 3.25, 1.25
Miceli 4.00, 1.30
Saarloos 4.25, 1.40
Stone 3.50, 1.20
Lidge 3.00, 1.15, 100K
Dotel 2.00, 1.00, 100K


Astros over Padres
Phillies over Cubs

Angels over Boston (nooooo...)
K.C. over Yankees (yay!!!)

Astros over Phillies (hopefully we avoid Wagner as much as possible)

K.C. over Angels (I would love this ALCS)

Astros over K.C.

You like? I like. I'm calling it now: K.C. in the playoffs. Anyway,
right now I got 13 pitchers, 12 batters, which I suppose isn't
realistic. I suppose they could send down Robertson or Saarloos. (Or
trade Robertson or Redding). But why on earth would you trade anything
for bench help? This, to me, seems dumb. Aren't bench players like
crappy relievers? They spend very little time actually playing. Why
would you pay anything for a guy who (one figures) might not even get
100 ABs. I say Viz is fine. even better yet are Lane and Porter.
Especially Lane. He shouldn't spend any more time at AAA, as he knows
-- as we know -- that he is ready to play in the majors. But it might do
him good to spend a season as a bench player. he could learn a lot, and
he wouldn't have the immediate pressure of playing full-time. The only
reason the bench plays a factor during a season is filling in for
injured players. And Lane would definitely be the first guy to fill in
should an OF or Bagwell go down, so he should get 300 ABs or so. (If Lane is the 4th OF and the backup 1B, he'll probably get around 200-250 AB's. Orlando Merced, who filled a similar role last year, got 212.)

I like the bullpen, too. I don't know why. The only guy I don;t like is
Miceli, and that's because he is poop. We have Robertson, Hernandez, or
Duckworth could fill in for an ijnured pitcher, and I like all three. I
think Duckworth will really fit in well here. In fact, I can see him
becoming the first link in the Big Three, Vol. II. Think about it.
Duckworth, Lidge, Dotel. Unstoppable. That is, of course, unless Rocket
goes the distance. Which he has done ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN TIMES in
his career. But seriously, Duckworth will benefit from a change of
scenery, Saarloos will finally become the "thinking" pitcher we've all
hoped he could be (in the mold of Maddux), Robertson will struggle but
improve his stats, Hernandez won't know it, but he'll save his elbow
for the rest of his career while pitching well. And Stone will be money.
Amazingly, we'll avoid the no-lefties-in-the-bullpen problem that we
always manage to find ourselves in. Hernandez will be #1 threat against
Jenkins, Patterson, Edmonds, Dunn, etc. And we don't have to waste a
league spot on Gallo or Bland. Not a weak link there (except Miceli of

Do me a favor and look up Oswalt's first 50 starts versus Prior's. I
bet they are eerily similar.

(How about their combined first two seasons instead?

Oswalt: 54 starts, 374.2 IP, 341 H, 86 BB, 352 K's, 30 HR's, 2.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Prior: 49 starts, 327.3 IP, 281 H, 88 BB, 392 K's, 29 HR's, 2.75 ERA, 1.12 WHIP
Prior's gets more K's, but otherwise pretty similar. Damn, Prior has a lot of K's.)

Obviously Prior has the better upside, but I bet these two could start a tremendous rivalry. Just imagine if the Cubs traded for, say, Tom Glavine. Think about how close our two rotations
would be:

Oswalt :: Prior (dominant but quiet, fast-working pitchers) Edge: Cubs
Clemens :: Wood (hard-nosed arrogant Texan assholes who throw at
people's heads) Edge: Cubs
Pettitte :: Glavine (crafty lefty veterans with postseason success)
Edge: Astros
Miller :: Zambrano (power pitchers who sometimes lack control,
physically and mentality) Edge: Astros
Redding :: Clement (bearded, short, lanky, ugly: they even look alike!)
Edge: Astros

But after this series, we gotta gear up for the mighty Kansas City
Royals! Boo BYE!"

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