Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Good news: The Rocket passes Steve Carlton on the all-time win list with 330.
Better news: Todd Self gets called up from AAA (see comments on the previous post for more info.)

Astros win 2-1 last night, as Orlando Palmeiro (who has really had an excellent start this year, and I would argue he's one of the better 5th OF's in baseball) had 2 RBI's.

Couple of interesting things about the game:

1. Lance Berkman started in LF, and Mike Lamb started at 1B, where I think both are much better suited than if the positions were reversed.

2. Morgan Ensberg went 1-for-3 with a walk, and is sporting a healthy .381 OBP. I wonder if there's any thought to moving him up in the lineup?

There are also a few quotes, both encouraging and discouraging, from a few Astros Daily links:

1) About Jeff Bagwell's shoulder

His arthritic right shoulder is dying a day at a time. He hasn't been able to throw for three years. Now he's having trouble swinging a bat. There's no indication it's going to get significantly better.
"I have no strength left in my shoulder," he said. "My shoulder has gotten weaker year after year after year. I just can't get the bat head to the ball like I could. The pain is always there."

I feel for the guy. As much as he's struggled the past few years, take a look at his career stats. You can't blame a guy for wanting to help his team any way he can. There just comes a point when it the best way to help the team is to step aside.

2) Phil Garner, on the offense:

"You can't generate runs if you don't get on base," Garner said.

YES!! YES!! YES!!!! Baserunners = runs! Out of any single batting statistic, OBP has the highest correlation to runs scored! I love it!

"I'll look on the scoreboard and it's the sixth inning and we have one hit."

Well, that's true...but getting on base isn't all about hits. This is nitpicky, so I'm going to give Garner credit for his first statement.

3) Garner, on the win-now mentality:

The Astros are in a different position than some teams that might get such a slow start and think about going with a youth movement, Garner said.
"Our owner wants to win the World Series," Garner said. "We don't have the luxury of letting [the younger players] learn to play. We've got to win right now. So that's our objective and our marching orders. We're not playing so someone can be good two years from now. That's not the objective."

I understand that it's early in the year, and hopes of winning the World Series are still alive. But let's be realistic here. We have exactly one hitter (Berkman) who is significantly above average offensively at his position. Yes, Biggio and Lane and Ensberg are all solid, and perhaps above average, but not by a lot. I'll grant that we have a strong front 3 in the rotation, and perhaps a strong front 3 in the pen (Lidge, Qualls, Wheeler), but this is not a playoff team. Which of the following teams are we better than: Cards, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Phillies, Dodgers, Padres.

I would have to vote 0, in all honesty.

4) Adam Everett, on stealing:

Like Phil said, I've got to get on base first," said Everett, who is hitting .210. "It's one of those things. You hit a ball good, it's right at somebody. And you hit a ball good, they seem to catch it."

Everett hits on a big point here - one of the benefits to being a patient hitter is that your walk rate is often more stable than your batting average. Sometimes you're hitting liners right at guys; sometimes you're hitting bloopers and seeing-eye grounders. But if you're a patient hitter and work counts, you should generally be able to walk fairly often.

Backe vs. 'Scuffy' Brian Moehler tonight. Seems like a good night for the offense to do some damage, but I've said that before. I'll take Lane and Berkman getting going.

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