Defense matters in baseball. I do not mention it very often, statheads do not seem to care about it....but we do actually, it is just hard to measure. I was surfing through baseball blogs the other day, and I found one that has combined pretty much every advanced defensive metric into one, which he calls the Cedeno Number, because he is a Mets fan and Roger Cedeno is absolutely horrible defensively. So without further ado, the 2004 Astros, except for Brad Ausmus, it does not measure catchers, and their respective Cedeno numbers, courtesy of The Raindrops blog...
1B Jeff Bagwell -3
2B Jeff Kent 0
SS Adam Everett +12
3B Morgan Ensberg +12
LF Lance Berkman +4
CF Craig Biggio -7
RF Richard Hidalgo +15
Conclusions? The main thing that jumps out at me is how good Morgan Ensberg was defensively. Everyone knows how good Adam Everett is, and Hidalgo has an absolute cannon for an arm, but look at Ensberg!
Ok, pardon me while I get on my soapbox....
I CANNOT BELIEVE WE WAITED THIS LONG TO GIVE MORGAN ENSBERG THE FULL TIME THIRD BASE JOB.
Quick, name the last three Astros to get the majority of at bats at third base.
2000 Chris Truby 772 OPS
2001 Vinny Castilla 812 OPS
2002 Geoff Blum 807 OPS
Morgan Ensberg is already 27, and he just put up a 900 OPS and excellent defensive season. I am absolutely positive that he could have done as well, if not better, than all of these guys in the last three years. At a reduced price, too.
So here is my point - you gotta play your prospects. Sometimes you want them to take their time, but when you do not have much else at that position, and they are not getting any younger....DO IT! Let them play. They need the experience. It is the rare Pujols that can just come in to the majors and dominate. Most young guys need some at bats. It seems like the Astros are much more willing to bring up young pitchers, Oswalt Miller Redding Hernandez, than hitters....Ensberg is already 27, Everett is 27, Buck is already 25...I think the organization is a little over cautions when it comes to position prospects. Some times, you just gotta let them play instead of getting a more expensive veteran. I hope we let Ensberg, Everett, Burke and Buck all start next year, even if they struggle a bit...we can spend the money elsewhere....resign Berkman, Oswalt, and go after Beltran. The approach of bringing up young players has certainly worked with the pitchers that I mentioned...I do not see why the same should not hold true for position prospects.
My two cents.