Just bought 4 tickets to the Wilco show @ the Orpheum (old concert hall in Flagstaff) on April 27. I'm pumped. Hopefully I'll know some cute girls by then...
Astros news....there's a new (subscriber) article up at Baseball Prospectus, where their main everyday writer, Joe Sheehan, picks his "Up" and "Down" teams over the offseason. His Up team? The Cleveland Indians, led by Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, and an underrated bullpen and some solid prospects. His Down team? The Houston Astros. Sheehan's main reasons why:
On February 28, though, it's hard to see how the Astros can repeat last year's success. They are going to lose a ton of runs from even last year's average attack--seventh in the NL in EqA. Carlos Beltran is gone. Jeff Kent is gone. Their best hitter, Lance Berkman, is going to miss at least a few weeks rehabbing a knee injury. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are a year older. Even in the best-case scenario, where Chris Burke and Jason Lane are allowed to win jobs and both hit to expectations, that just makes up for the losses of Beltran and Kent. At their best, the Astros are carrying Adam Everett, Brad Ausmus and a pitcher. If you have even one more low-OBP hitter in the lineup, it becomes almost impossible to sustain an offense.
The Astros aren't going to make it up on the pitching side. Keeping Roger Clemens around just kept them running in place. They still have the same depth issues as they did a year ago, with a host of injury cases and suspects vying to fill out the rotation behind Clemens and Roy Oswalt and the bullpen in front of Brad Lidge. A healthy Andy Pettitte makes up some of that, but there's still the question of whether two starters can be found from among Brandon Backe, Carlos Hernandez, Tim Redding, or even a longshot like Ezequiel Astacio.
Last year's playoff run happened because the front end of the Astros' roster included some very dominant players. They're down two stars this year, and the likelihood that Clemens and Lidge can match '04's work is slim. They don't have the depth to make up for that kind of slippage. Not only are the Astros unlikely to return to the postseason, I doubt they can stay in contention.
Ouch. I agree with most of what Sheehan writes; our offense can't reasonably be expected to be even equal to last year's, and barring Pettitte being awesome all year, Backe pitching like he did in Sept / Oct., and Ezequiel Astacio becoming the next Oswalt, I don't see our pitching being that great either. I guess it's time to take an objective look at the Astros; you might not like what you see.
I'll still watch damn near every game, though, and root like hell.