It has begun.
So I'm hanging around Paris when I find this English bookstore with a TON of magazines, one of which happens to be The Sporting News. It's got Mark Prior and Curt Schilling on the cover and proudly claims that the Cubs and Red Sox will meet in the World Series. Ok, first of all, way to definitely jinx both teams. Then they talk about the NL Central, and mention a few things about the Astros that I have issues with.
First of all, they say that Pettitte AND Clemens AND Oswalt are all likely to get injured at some point during the year. Well, so far only their cover boy Prior has been hurt. But anyway, this addresses a common misconception about pitchers: Only Old Pitchers Get Hurt. Baseball Prospectus did a big study of this a few years back, and they found that once a pitchers reaches a certain age (31 or 32 or so) their chances of injury drop, because they've passes an injury threshold. Obviously, this is very general, but I think young pitchers coming off a year where they threw way more pitches than they have before including numerous 120+ pitch outings are more likely to miss time than a 41 year old pitcher who has been pitching for 20 years and has NEVER missed significant time due to injury. Furthermore, Jimy's occasional saving grace is he's gentle with his starting pitchers. Dusty Baker is not. If you ask me whether the Astros or Cubs will have the healthier staff this year, I gotta go with the Astros, old age and all.
John Lauck over at AstrosDaily has been doing awesome game summaries for every Astros Spring Training game. Major props to Mr. Lauck, and his recaps are always great. But I'm going to quote him a few times, and let you read them, and then I'll argue against them tomorrow, because I'm out of time for today.
"To put the matter plainly, Everett is now in his best spot--second--and the Astros should encourage him to do exactly what he did in this spot: bunt. Everett should be bunting like crazy, and stealing bases every chance he gets....If Everett bunts as much as he ought to, and if he steals as many bases as he can, his percentage of success might not be as high as we'd like; as high as Bagwell's steal percentage, perhaps, but the idea in having him bunt and steal is not entirely to be successful all the time." - John Lauck
"My respect for Vizcaino has grown immensely since he became an Astro. Like every good pinch-hitter, he has had--and will have--his share of failures, but there is no one else, not Bagwell, not Berkman, not Kent, that I would rather see up there at the plate when Houston needs a simple base hit for a single run. Vizcaino's experience under pressure and his deft bat control are a quality and a talent I'll bet the Yankees wish they had back right now, but New York can't have him. Vizcaino belongs to the Astros, and he fits a need on this club so deep that no one wants to contemplate what another extended absence of him during the upcoming season would mean." - John Lauck