[MSNBC] Astros make pitch for postseason contention

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by WizzyWig, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. WizzyWig

    WizzyWig Member

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    Excellent article, first one I have read this year that doesn't just make assumptions based on what happened this off-season.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7468010/


    Astros make pitch for postseason contention
    With Clemens, Pettitte, Oswalt on mound, Houston can go far

    COMMENTARY
    By Mike Celizic
    NBCSports.com contributor
    Updated: 12:05 a.m. ET April 12, 2005

    St. Paul said that without charity he was nothing. Clearly, the apostle formerly known as Saul of Tarsus never ran a baseball team.

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    If he had, the thing you can’t be without is pitching. You can have all the offense in the world, but without it, you’re nothing. And no matter what else you lack, with it, you’ve got a shot.

    This year’s case in point is the Astros. During the winter, the critics — in one of the few nanoseconds when they weren’t putting the Yankees and Red Sox under the dissecting microscope — rather blithely wrote off Houston as a serious factor in the National League. The reason was plain: The team let one of the best young offensive players in the game and the hero of last year’s playoffs, Carlos Beltran, skedaddle out of town and made no effort to replace him. It was a simple equation: no Beltran equals no hope.

    While it’s early, it already appears as if that assessment is going to be as wrong as saying Bo Jackson took steroids on the basis of a one quote that was later denied. After six games, the Astros were 4-2, and no team in the game had fewer losses.

    It’s not a good idea to base too much by the standings this early in the season. The Yankees aren’t going to remain in last place in the AL East, and St. Louis isn’t going to wallow near the bottom of the NL Central chasing Milwaukee all season.

    On the other hand, it was amazing that after just a half-dozen games, the divisions were already sorting themselves out along predictable lines; Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Washington, the New York Mets, Colorado and Arizona are already sinking. Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles — both Dodgers and Angels — and Philadelphia are rising.

    And the teams that are pitching well are doing well.

    And Houston, with an early team ERA of 3.00 after six games, trails only the Marlins in pitching. The Astros may has lost Beltran from last year, but they got Andy Pettitte, who spent most of 2004 on the disabled list with a repaired elbow, back in the lineup. They also persuaded Roger Clemens, last year’s NL Cy Young winner, to give it another go. Together with Roy Oswalt, the league’s only 20-game winner from last season, that’s as good a top three as any rotation in the league.

    As with every team, middle relief can be an adventure, but closer Brad Lidge already has three saves in four wins.

    The Cardinals may have all the offense in the National League, but so far, their pitching has been as scarce as Tom DeLay’s shows of humility, and the Cards are fighting to get to .500.

    The Yankees and Red Sox are two more illustrative cases. Neither team has pitched with distinction, and both are staggering along early in the season. The Sox should get better when Curt Schilling gets back into form, but so far, you have to worry when the ace of your staff is Tim Wakefield.

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    The Yankees have gotten one good performance out of Randy Johnson and one bad one. Mariano Rivera is looking mortal, Joe Torre has no faith in his middle relief, Mike Mussina has been giving up hits at a frightening rate, Carl Pavano may or may not be as good as advertised, and the rest of the staff has yet to be sighted. Again, it’s early, but none of those are encouraging signs.

    Either the Yanks or the Red Sox would probably give a lot to have Houston’s pitching. So would St. Louis. And if they wouldn’t, they should.

    Struggling pitchers don’t remedy themselves as readily as struggling hitters. And good pitchers usually don’t suddenly go sour. If you have to rely on one or the other to carry you through a long season, take pitching every time.

    Houston couldn’t keep together the team that nearly made it to the World Series last year. Faced with difficult choices, management swallowed hard, waved bye-bye to Beltran, and hoped to heaven that Pettitte would come back strong and Oswalt and Clemens would be as good as they were last year. With Lidge to save them, the team figured it still had as good a shot as anyone to do damage.

    A lot of us dismissed that idea. But already, it looks as if the Astros made the right decision, and really the only decision they had.

    They went with the surest thing in baseball — pitching. So far, it’s working just fine.
     
  2. weakfromtoday

    weakfromtoday Contributing Member

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    Ah, nice article.
     
  3. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    :eek: did i just read that? i like it, but i also like us in the scrappy underdog role.
     
  4. Fegwu

    Fegwu Contributing Member

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    I hope Backe and Astacio see this an insult. ;)

    I dare say that if our pitching staff stay health this season our starting five will finish in the top 3 in the majors in ERA and total quality of starting pitching.

    For the first time in a long while, our Astros will go into every game believing that we can win it win our starting pitcher.
     
  5. bottlerocket

    bottlerocket Member

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    Has the Astros announce their 5th pitcher yet?
     
  6. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Not yet... and let me introduce a dark-horse candidate... Wandy Rodriguez.

    The guy has been pretty stellar during his last few outings.... he impressed the Astros in Florida for ST, then he shut this team out for 5 perfect innings in the exhibition game, and now he didn't allow a run in his first start for Round Rock.

    Garner loves this kid... he couldn't stop talking about him, when all the press was asking about Zeke. We'll see... but we should know by Thursday who is coming up to mnake the sunday start.
     
  7. mulletman

    mulletman Member

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    if not for a starting spot, could they call him up for middle relief?

    dont want to go through what happened with the bullpen last year again this year....
     
  8. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    When you define "middle relief" do you mean 7th or 8th inning guys? Because, I think we already have that set w/ Wheeler and Qualls. Plus, They'll need to try Harville out a little before they completely give up on him.

    Wandy is better off either starting, or pitching every 4th day in the minor leagues. Our next candidate to come up for the pen would be Dave Burba.
     
  9. candlegreen

    candlegreen Contributing Member

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    Frankly, I was puzzled when Springer was brought in for the 8th inning with a 1 run lead. I would've guessed that it would be Qualls or someone half reliable. I was disappointed when the runs were given up; but I guess Garner just wanted to give each pitcher some work....
     
  10. Svpernaut

    Svpernaut Contributing Member

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    Great article, and it's what I've been trying to preach all along.
     
  11. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    The article, while it gives a warm fuzzy feeling, fails to mention anything about us losing Kent or Berkman's injury...so while they can justify losing Beltran by saying we basically gave him up for a healthy Pettitte, who did we get in return for Kent and any possible lack of production fro mBerkman after blowing out his knee?
     
  12. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    have you seen how nice it is outside today, NJ??

    the Astros are 4-2.

    smiile and enjoy it!!! :)
     
  13. Svpernaut

    Svpernaut Contributing Member

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    Why would we sign someone to replace Berkman? He'll be back in Mid-June at the latest.... As far as losing Kent, we have a better defensive second baseman who is just as productive offensively. He doesn't have Kent's power but he made up for it in other areas especially considering he was a leadoff hitter, all for 5.5 million less this season.

    Kent's Numbers For 2004
    G145 AB540 R96 H156 2B34 3B8 HR27 RBI107 BB44 SO96 SB7 CS3 AVG.289 OBP.348 SLG.531 OPS.879

    Biggio's Numbers For 2004
    G156 AB633 R100 H178 2B47 3B0 HR24 RBI63 BB40 SO94 SB7 CS2 AVG.281 OBP.337 SLG.469 OPS.806
     
  14. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    Super -

    you apparently didnt understand my post....i never said we should trade for someone to replace Berkman....I was pointing out how the article makes no mention of Berkman as if he was 100% healthy and in our opening day lineup....and if he is out until mid june, thats a pretty big factor in how we do this year.

    As for your Biggio-Kent comaprison, the last time I checked, Biggio was in the lineup last year...so we didnt gain anything offensively by moving him to second.
     
  15. Svpernaut

    Svpernaut Contributing Member

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    If we can succeed without Berkman because of our pitching, that only makes our case for getting to the playoffs stronger once he does make it back. As far as Biggio/Kent I'd be willing to bet that Jason Lane can and will have numbers very similar to Kent's 2004 numbers because they weren't that impressive... and he isn't a defensive liability.
     
  16. msn

    msn Member

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    The point of the article is not to quantify the net gain or loss (OK, loss) of the Astros' offense, but rather to stipulate that regardless of the net loss the Astros stand a great chance to make the playoffs due to superior pitching. He only mentioned Beltran specifically in dismissing the logically fallacious writing from other commentators.
     
  17. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    First off....I'll be pleased as punch if Lane comes close to 27/107/96...only time will tell.

    As for Jason Lane's defensive prowess, did you see the game yesterday?
     
  18. Svpernaut

    Svpernaut Contributing Member

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    Yes I did... and I've also seen his canon for an arm in person 4 games so far this season. There were multiple times during the first homestand where a runner could have gone 1st to 3rd on a single, but didn't out of respect for his arm. He's a much better right fielder then Kent is a second baseman... and our only "ready" outfielder. Taveras will eventually be a great center fielder, but he's still a little raw.
     
  19. WizzyWig

    WizzyWig Member

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    Jason Lane will likely have the following stats this year:

    .285/21 HRs/85 Runs/88 RBIs

    Overall a mediocre year for Lane, but he will build on these numbers next year...be patient it's only his first year playing everyday.
     
  20. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    That's true, we need to get him on an MLB 90's/2000 era S&C "program", that'll jack his power numbers up in no time....
     
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