Astros sue over Bagwell insurance claim. Wow. Actually I guess this was inevitable. What happens if we lose? What happens if we win? More on that next post.
We're 13 games into the season, and the mighty Astros sit on top of the NL Central with a 9-4 record. Inspired by similar posts at Aaron's Baseball Blog and U.S.S Mariner, I thought I might give out letter grades at each position. Here goes:
Brad Ausmus still can't hit for power, but I'll take a .258 / .410 / .258 line from him any day. He's still solid defensively and can call a good game, although he is not a God in those areas as some would have you believe. I was excited when Garner went with Eric Munson as the backup catcher, since he has some pop (career .405 SLG) and bats left-handed. However, he's struggled so far, hitting .143 / .188 / .143. We don't have any better options, though, so I hope Munson turns it on and keeps his job.
1st base: A+
Lance Berkman. Lance F'ing Berkman! A .380 / .441 / .820 line. 6 HR's, 18 RBI's, 7 walks, solid defense at 1st...what a stud. His knee looks good, he's running well, he's crushing everything...keep it up, big fella.
2nd base: C
Craig Biggio is the 2nd best Astro ever, but he's a 40 year old 2nd baseman, a tough feat to pull off. He's hitting .250 / .308 / .354 with 2 walks, but what makes me nervous is he's only seeing 3.30 pitches per plate appearance. That's terrible, especially from a leadoff hitter. It seems like he's franticaly trying to reach 3,000 hits, patience at the plate be damned. Chris Burke has looked good so far, hitting .231 / .333 / .462 with 2 walks in 13 at-bats. I'd love to see him get at least a start a week at 2B.
Adam Everett still covers a ton of ground at SS, has been swinging a hot bat lately, and he's hitting .289 / .289 / .400 on the year. But 0 walks out of the #8 hole? That's rough. If he starts drawing a few walks, he could end up being one of the better shortstops in the NL.
Third Base: A+
Morgan Ensberg, along with Berkman, has been carrying the team offensively. You like Berkman's 1261 OPS? Ensberg will see that and raise you to a 1377 OPS. He has 11 walks and 10 extra-base hits in only 44 AB's. He has made 4 errors, but not all of them have been his fault. His stance still looks a little funky, but you can't argue with the results.
Left Field: C
P-Wil strikes out a ton (5 times last night!), but there's a tradeoff - he'll hit for a lot of power. I'd like to see him shorten his swing just a bit, because if he pulls the ball at MMP, he'll hit 30 bombs, no problem. However, a .245 / .302 / .510 line isn't bad. He's only drawn 2 walks and he's 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts, so he can do better.
Center Field - B
Willy T has looked better at the plate so far, at least to my eyes. He's only drawn 3 walks, but he's worked a lot of counts (P / PA), and he's hitting a non-fluky .304. He's also 0-for-2 in stolen bases, which is weird, but I expect that to change soon. His defense has also looked good.
Right Field - B
After the last few games, Lane has raised his line to .217 / .368 / .435. The hits will come, and he's drawing walks (11 so far). I like his defense in RF, and he's just an all-around good guy.
No one's done much so far. Bruntlett has had a few big hits, but both Lamb and Palmeiro haven't done anything. Stay tuned.
Roy Oswalt? 2-0, with a 1.99 ERA. That'll do. Andy Pettitte - 6.35 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 5 HR allowed...yikes. Brandon Backe was off to a nice start, but he's out for six weeks. And then it's the young guns - Wandy, Bucholz, and Nieve, who have all done surprisingly well. Can they keep it up?
The Big Three (Lidge, Wheeler, Qualls) has shrunk to the Big Two so far - Qualls has been really up and down - mostly down: 9.35 ERA, 12 hits, 4 BB in 8.2 innings. Lidge and Wheeler are looking good, but our lefties (Gallo and Miller) are crappy. I'd rather see Springer, Astacio, or Jason Hirsh than either of those guys.
Garner has done a nice job not overworking his pitchers yet, and he's given Biggio and Ausmus a few days off each. My only complaint is bunting with Taveras in the 1st inning!!! AAARGHH!! Don't give up outs so early on! Other than that, so far, so good.
We're basically being carried by Berkman, Ensberg, and Oswalt, but that's what stars are supposed to do. Pettitte and Qualls will be fine, Biggio should bounce back a little, etc. A lot will depend on how Wandy / Bucholz / Nieve / Astacio do. I'm excited.