Before I talk about the Astros, did anyone see my alma mater, Vanderbilt, beat Indiana IN Bloomington 67-60 in the first round of the NIT last night? The 'Dores lead the whole way, with a matchup zone defense and Corey Smith's 22 points or so leading the charge. A great win for Vandy, and it might just get Mike Davis fired. I think Vandy can definitely win a few more games in the NIT.
Ok, Astros time:
You probably already saw that the Stros let Pete Munro go yesterday.Garner is hinting that the race is between Ezequiel & Burba for the 5th spot. Have you been following Ausmus' batting stats this spring?--they're ridiculous. 2 for 2 again yesterday with a homer. Apparently he's added a leg kick to his swing. How much would he need to raise his BA over last year's to actually become an offensive asset?On the other hand, how many more runners would he have to throw out compared to last year to actually become a defensive asset?
I saw a bit surprised (but not disappointed) when I saw the Astros released Pete Munro. We need to start eliminating 5th starter options, and Munro has the least potential of any possible #5 starter, and had a bad spring so far to boot. I like the move. I didn't know that Garner had narrowed it down to Astacio and Burba - if that's true, I hope Redding has another good spring start so we can get decent value from him in a trade, and I also think Duckworth is out of options. I'd still like to see Duckworth or Redding get the #5 starter position, since otherwise we'll have to release them, and give Astacio a little time in a middle relief role or at AAA. Dave Burba is, well, old, and I don't think he has too much left.
Ausmus is indeed having a crazy spring training, as are Luke Scott and Carlos Rivera. I did read that Ausmus added a leg kick to his swing, which appears to be helping, but I still trust his career batting average of .255 over 4730 AB's over a hot spring. Still, we've got no better options, so any improvement over last year's .248 / .306 / .325 would be really, really nice. Luke Scott has been great this spring; I'm pulling for him to make the team as a backup OF and get a few AB's while Berkman is hurt. He's a lefty power bat on a team that currently has one (Mike Lamb) while Lance is out. If Lamb starts, and you need a late inning pinch-hitter against a righty, your options would be Orlando Palmeiro or Jose Vizcaino if you're looking for a lefty batter. Similar comments would apply to Carlos Rivera, who's going crazy this spring. Unfortunately, he plays 1B, where Bagwell / Lamb / Lane might have him covered, but if he can learn an OF position that'd be great.
I just read Scott Barzilla's column on AstrosDaily (link in the upper left), and it's excellent. Check it out ASAP. Gotta run.