Ugly, ugly game yesterday. I'm sure it made Drew happy, though. John Franco walked 4 batters and hit a batter in limited action AND he sucks against righties, so I'm not looking forward to a year of him. Dave Burba, who I thought was a decent risk as a spot starter / dark horse 5th starter, got ripped. Turk Wendell was also terrible, so it looks like our Old Guys Triumvirate of Franco / Burba / Wendell might not turn out so well. Oops.
Baseball Prospectus had a few notes on the Astros today:
They like Chad Qualls to be the 8th inning set-up guy for Brad Lidge, essentially because a) Harville is too wild b) Franco is too old and c) Dan Wheeler isn't as good as he showed late last year. I agree, and think that Qualls might be a bright spot for the Astros this year, with a possibility of 70-80 innings of ~3.00-3.50 ERA.
They also say that one of the first signs of how the season will go will come early, when the Astros decide between Vizcaino, Biggio, and Burke at 2B. If we fall into the "proven veteran" trap and start Viz or Biggio, we're likely to expect to contend all year and make one last run with Biggio / Clemens / Berkman / Ausmus. If we do the correct thing and start Burke, it means we realize we're not likely to be as good as the Cubs or Cardinals barring a lot of things going right, and that it's more important right now to get our top prospects (Lane, Burke, Astacio?) playing time. I also agree here, and can't even stomach the thought of Vizcaino instead of Burke starting at 2B. At least Biggio has been good to the Astros in the past.
JT and Andy were both right and Peter Gammons was wrong: Carlos Hernandez is not out of options. So look for him to go back to AAA, and it's likely one of Redding / Munro / Duckworth will get the #5 spot, and two will be released / traded.