The Archives 2011

June 23, 2011
Astros 5
Rangers 4

Downs and Lee

If Matt Downs had Carlos Lee's at-bats, he'd have 18 homers.

Or maybe you prefer the statement in its other direction: if Carlos Lee had Matt Downs' home run rate, Caballo would have 18 homers.

Expressed either way, the story is told. Lee in actuality has five shots.

As most of Houston and all of the rest of America spent its time last year bashing Carlos Lee in general and our signing of him in specific, I never once thought that he'd lost the ability to hit.

Even as a fat old man, his approach is so sound. And after another horrible start, I'm betting that Lee returns to form averagewise and finishes over .300 this year. But on the other hand, as more and more of his flyballs expire at the track, it's pretty clear that his power is gone.

Too bad he's not a second baseman, huh?

As offense continues to decline throughout the majors, the value of a player who hits .300 and doesn't strike out, regardless of his place in the defensive spectrum, will be highlighted a little bit to those who'd forgotten during the bloated steroid years.

But as Downs' numbers suggest, the difference between the actuality and the onetime expectation as regards Carlos will also continue to be readily apparent. June 16, 2011

Pirates 5
Astros 0

Pence Hit Streak, Arnsberg Firing

Too bad about Hunter Pence's hitting streak--especially since he's had five hits in the two games since his streak was broken in the opener of the Pirates series.

Back in '06, when Willy T set the record Hunter had been gunning for, it took Taveras nine games to get five post-streak hits. I remember taking a look at the sheer unlikeliness of Taveras' streak back then, and that nine-in-five business above is a good gauge of that, I think.

Pence had 39 hits in the 23 games that made up his streak; Taveras had 45 in the 30 that made up his. Not a huge difference: Willy T had 1-1/2 hits per game, Pence had 1.7.

Hit streaks are by their nature fluky. But it's interesting to note that Willy T (at least as he was then) and Hunter are of a type: fairly undisciplined, speedy .270-.280 hitters who got hot.

Still, while I would have bet the farm back then that Taveras would never have another 30-game hit streak, I'm pretty sure Pence has another 23-gamer inside him.

Too bad about Brad Arnsberg, too. But I'm holding my outrage, as others around the net seem unable to. You know, I'm glad that Brett Myers pitched well last year. But when your relievers are 15th in the league in ERA, and so are your starters, I don't care who's got what philosophy, I'm not gonna be surprised--or outraged--if someone gets canned.

I still expect (and want) Ed Wade to be axed at the end of the 2011 campaign. But I won't be holding the firing of Brad Arnsberg against him.

During the Braves series this past weekend, it was mentioned that the Braves had reached the .500 mark as a franchise, and that got me thinking of the Astros. I remember something from April of '07, where after a series-opening win over the Brewers, the official site had let us know that the Astros would be playing for a .500 record all-time that night.

And I remember that the 'Stros had lost, and basically tanked the '07 season from there.

Looking at it now, that Saturday night when the Astros were a game away from break-even seems a long way away. With the Pirates having swept us, Houston is now 53 games under .500.

'Course, under .500 is where the Houston ballclub is used to being. In the entire history of the franchise, the Astros have spent a total of 33 games at or above .500.

Wish I could find that article from 2007 on the official site now, though. Because I don't remember it mentioning that the club had in fact been over .500 for 20 days in '06.

The whole thing got me so nostalgic for 2006 that I made a funny looking line graph, just like I often used to when I was running The Crawfish Boxes.

And since I made it, I figured I'd share it:

Click to enlarge

May 4, 2011

Reds 3
Astros 2

A Lyon Bastard

OK, so you gotta hope that Brad Mills has learned his lesson: that anytime your closer gives up 4 hits over 1/3 of an inning or less, you need to remove him immediately, because you are about to lose.

Brandon Lyon has four blown saves, which is a number that leads the majors, and his WHIP of 2.12 is worse than 216 of the 230 pitchers who have made a major league appearance this year. His WHIP is even worse than Ryan Franklin's. Can you imagine?

Of course, you can't blame Lyon for all of this. It's not his fault that his talent level is south of what it takes to be a closer. And of course it's not his fault that Ed Wade offered him a contract that would pay him $5 million a year. Hell, I would have signed it, too.

The shame is that with the hitting they've shown at a time when the bats are usually cold, this team could have made the summer fun. But since no-one expects the team to be any good, and because Drayton is in GTFO mode, relief pitching is not going to be addressed. And we'll probably lose 90 or 95 games.

Like JD might say: doesn't have to be.

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or you could search '05, '06, and '07 for some of my opinions expressed at my old blog, The Crawfish Boxes

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