- Presenting the 2006-07 Leafs, in spikes: They were 13th in runs scored and 14th in runs against in a 16-team league last season, which makes them a diamond equivalent to the John Ferguson Jr.-era Toronto Maple Leafs. Granted, even JFJ would have jettisoned Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman by this point.
- You know what you're getting: Jonah Keri summed it up well: "Owner Drayton McLane has passed down the same philosophy for as long as he's owned the team: Never sell off your stars, and never rebuild."
- Why you hear Drayton McLane and just picture the Rich Texan from The Simpsons: The Baseball Prospectus 2010 chapter on the Astros notes they were second-last in Payroll Efficiency Rating (the other PER) from 2006-09. Does that make leftfielder Carlos "RBI and Little Else" Lee the equivalent to the world's fattest racehorse?
The Seattle Mariners were worst, for what it is worth. The most efficient teams were the Rays and Blue Jays. Please keep this on file in case Seattle ever gets close to winning something.
- Over-under: 73½ wins.
- Take the ... Over. The NL Central is so frustertaining (a word used when a division is entertaining since almost every team is frustrating is follow) that the 'Stros should stumble into 75 wins.
- Starting to slide: Long-time first baseman Lance Berkman starting the season on the DL has led to speculation his days are numbered with Houston, even though the Astros like to hang on to big names long after they've surpassed their usefulness, like NBC or the late-1980s New York Islanders.
- Long in the tooth: Roy Oswalt, only 32 years old, is already talking about retiring.
- Weighty moral questions: Root for prospect Koby Clemens to carve out his own niche as a corner infielder or hope he fails since it would be another burn on his old man?
- Magic Wandy: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has found that strata where he is as good a No. 2 starter as you'll find, until you put him on your fantasy team.
- The shame of it all: FanGraphs listed the Astros dead last in their organizational rankings. That's what a combo of big contracts, precious little player development (the main prospect of note is 19-year-old right-hander Jason Lyles) and next-to-no scouting outside of the U.S. will do for a ballclub.
- In case you weren't outraged: Minor-league players can barely afford to eat, but Carlos Lee is due $19 million this season.
- Bound to get a lot of hype: Shortstop Tommy Manzella, who is not so young at age 27, will fill out the "wheel" on The Score with some fielding gems.
- Now why is this good to know? The franchise has never lost 100 games in a season (it's lost 97 twice).
- Long-shot bet: Closer Matt Lindstrom becomes Houston's all-star representative since last few spots can be filled almost randomly with middling-to-good pitchers.
- Really: The damn hill in centrefield. At least it could have been named after Terry Puhl.
- Only in Texas ... Could Nolan Ryan be part of the ownership group for the Texas Rangers and the ownership group of the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express.
- PECOTA says: 78-84, tied-third NL Central, 697 runs scored, 723 runs allowed. (Subject to change slightly before the season starts.)
- In English, please: This team can't even bottom out properly.
(Why only 18? In honour of their win in the longest post-season game ever against the Braves in 2005. It only feels like it was 20 years ago.)
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Jusssst a bit outside: the Houston Astros preview
Duty calls to preview the MLB season, providing up to 30 things somewhat about each of the 30 teams, even the sucky ones. At bat: the Houston Astros.