Saturday, March 29, 2008


It's baseball season, that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team for six months, knowing full well they won't win. Here's a starting nine for the Houston Astros.
  1. Stuff White People Like #94 -- loose analogies between anything they don't like and the Bush White House: Well, the Astros' season-long farewell to Craig Biggio did kind of resemble the Right's efforts to rename everything after Ronald Reagan. The Astros are also loaded down with the big contracts of first baseman Lance Berkman and leftfielder Carlos Lee which could create their own version of the subprime mortage crisis.
  2. But he's not a one-hit wonder: Rightfielder Hunter Pence raises mixed feelings. He seems like a good player and solid citizen, but you know you're going to here so many Sixpence None The Richer references with him that it might inspire some kind of reunion tour ... Swing, swing.
  3. Coop isn't one to wait: There's a theory that players who were patient hitters are often good managerial timbre. Know this about Astros skipper Cecil Cooper -- he was a regular in the majors for 13 seasons and drew more than 40 bases on balls exactly once.
  4. Bourn again: He never made it to Ottawa while he was Phillies property, but centrefielder Michael Bourn is pencilled in as Houston's leadoff man. In Ottawa, his speed on the bases and in centrefield would at least have livened up the Lynx's long goodbye. In the majors, he's probably overmatched, but at least he can resurrect a noble Houston tradition of burners who quickly burn out since they can't hit for power:

    Sonny Jackson, 1966: 49 steals, .334 slugging
    Gerald Young, 1988: 65 steals, .325 slugging
    Eric Yelding, 1990: 64 steals, .297 slugging
    That's more or less in line with what Bourn could do if he's run out there for a full season. Middle reliever Geoff Geary, briefly a Lynx last summer, is with the Astros.
  5. How much does the Other Roy mean to the 'Stros? Houston was close to .600 (19-13) when Roy Oswalt started a game last season and below .400 (54-76) when someone else took the hill. He's only one man, though. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is half-decent by NL Central standards, but he's no No. 2 starter.
  6. One reason to get excited; just one: Baseball Prospectus 2008 says Jose Valverde will lead the National League with 42 saves.
  7. There's being right and there's being nice: "(Ty) Wiggington embodies the player who puts up good numbers but never does it when you are watching. He’s going to hit 20 home runs but you’ll never hear about it and I’ll never see it happen." -- Sportable
  8. Hip, hip José: Who knew that José Cruz Jr., still the only 30-30 man in Blue Jays history, was still playing? He made the team as a non-roster invitee and so did fellow former Jay Tomas Perez.

    A third late-'90s Jay, Woody Williams, though, was cut and will retire (quoth Drunk Jays Fans, " I know what you're thinking, and I had no idea that he was still pitching either"). There's some job in there about how the Astros didn't want those guys wasting time trading Tim Johnson fake war stories, but it's always been the view here that Tim Johnson got a raw deal and should have been forgiven.
  9. Need-to-know: Sometimes you have to do the wrong job to get the right job. Roy Oswalt will be able to relate to that very well over the next couple seasons before he ends up becoming the No. 3 starter on a contender. The Astros aren't going to be much to look at for a while.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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