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Astros traded their soul to the Phillies

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by fya, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. fya

    fya Member

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    If this isn't the truth, I don't know what is.

    Team failed to bolster bullpen after Wagner's inevitable trade
    By JOSE DE JESUS ORTIZ
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
    RESOURCES


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    At the time, it seemed so melodramatic. On the last day of last season, Billy Wagner stood by his locker at Minute Maid Park with venom streaming out of his mouth toward owner Drayton McLane.


    The man was in pain. He loved the Astros and the city of Houston. He was a part of the family, a reliever who held the respect and admiration of all his teammates.

    Turns out, every Astros fan should have been sad. Wagner was more than just a closer. He was a leader whom Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller leaned on.

    Some would argue that if the Astros had not traded Wagner to the Phillies, they never would have signed Andy Pettitte or Roger Clemens.

    Clemens has been spectacular, bringing the spotlight to a city that rarely gets national exposure.

    Pettitte has been injured, and he admits that his first season in Houston has been disappointing.

    Wagner also has been injury prone this year. He has been on the disabled list twice, once with a strain of the left posterior rotator cuff and once for a month with a strained left groin muscle. But he is sorely missed in Houston.

    Regardless of what Wagner says, McLane answered many of his critics this year. He put up the money this year, and his players let him down.

    Everybody from Jimy Williams to Harry Spilman to Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio and on and on and on deserve blame for this fiasco.

    Here's the deal, though. Even if the offense had shown up this year — and it really hasn't — the bullpen would have sabotaged the season. I'll be the first to say I was an utter and complete idiot for picking the Astros to win the World Series.

    I should have known better. The soul of the Astros was taken away when they dealt Wagner. Even worse, Wagner's absence left a gaping hole in the strongest part of the team. Octavio Dotel was a great setup man and a decent closer, but he never was and never will be in Wagner's class.

    Brad Lidge already is becoming one of the better closers in the game, but he doesn't have the setup men Wagner had. Instead of having Wagner, Dotel and Lidge, the Astros now have Lidge, Dan Miceli and some really nice guys.

    Unfortunately for Miceli, he was run ragged in the first two months of the season and really hasn't bounced back. David Weathers has the heart of a guy you want on the team, but he was run ragged before he landed in Houston. Chad Harville has the makings of something special, but he's still a bit raw.

    Even if Wagner had been more tactful at the end of last season, he was going to be traded. Don't fool yourself into thinking he was traded because of the barbs he threw at McLane. He was dealt to trim payroll. Pettitte and Clemens landed in the Astros' lap.

    But Clemens and Pettitte weren't enough because the bullpen and the offense haven't been enough. McLane does not deserve the blame for this one, but his general manager, Gerry Hunsicker, and president of baseball operations Tal Smith should have realized the bullpen would have sabotaged this season.

    "We'll be looking at a tape job and fill-ins and no marquee additions in the offseason," Wagner said at the end of 2003.

    No team that signs Clemens and Pettitte can be accused of having an offseason full of tape jobs and fill-ins, but Wagner's comments ring true about the bullpen he left behind.

    -http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/2737074
     
  2. gunn

    gunn Contributing Member

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    This is laughable. Stop writing de Jesus, you've sucked for years.
     
  3. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Contributing Member
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    Yeah, this is overexageration at its worst. Sure, lots of people knew the bullpen was a bit of a question mark going into the season, and that it could potentially be a weak link...but every damn team has a weak link SOMEWHERE, and with the way our starting rotation and lineup was shaping up (on paper), it seemed that a less than average bully wouldn't be so terrible.
     
  4. bigboymumu

    bigboymumu Member

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    This is what I have been saying for the most part. However, I blame Drayton also (as you guys know). Not a bad article IMO.
     
  5. Puedlfor

    Puedlfor Contributing Member

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    The true problem this year was not the bullpen - the bullpen's failures were merely symptomatic of the entire team's failings.

    The starting pitching was supposed to be fantastic this year, with the right mix of youthful talent and salty veterans - instead injuries have imploded the rotation.

    The offense was supposed to be solid, instead for about two months - it may have been the worst in the league.

    With the burden of injured pitchers and an inability to score runs - the bullpen's failings became much more apparent. We could've skated by without worrying about the fact our bullpen wasn't that great if the offense hadn't imploded and our pitching staff decided to have a party on the DL - but they did.
     
  6. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Rankings of the 2004 Astros' problems:

    1.) The Offense - Not one player has put up big superstar numbers for the entire year... Beltran would have, had he been around longer. Every good team has at least one player putting up gigantic numbers... the astros have none.

    2.) Pitcher's injuries - With Wade and Andy basically pitching hurt the entire year, it seriously negated a supposed strength of this team.

    3.) Team defense - the Biggio CF experiment somehow survived last year, but was downright disastrous this year. His LF defense isn't any better, but he does less damage out there. Kent at 2B is awful, Ausmus has regressed, and Bagwell still can't throw.

    4.) The Bullpen - As has been said, had this team done what it was supposed to do (score runs, get quality starts from their pitchers), the bullpen would NOT have been an issue. All teams have a problem somewhere... hell, our bullpen is no worse than the Red Sox' or Oakland's, but they win because of their starters and offense.

    If anything, the bullpen last year simply masked the true problems of this club... but as last year showed, even a strong bullpen can't carry you through the entire season.
     
  7. IROC it

    IROC it Contributing Member

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    I especially enjoyed this part of the article...

    :p
     
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    what is it with Chronicle columnists that FORCES them to pinpoint ONE area or ONE player on the team and say..."ahhhh..there's the problem!!! that's the guy/position that's been the difference. if we had just improved that guy/position then we would have been in this thing!!!"

    for a team that has underperformed the way the 'stros have this season, i don't understand this logic at all.

    the "soul" of the astros was taken away when they traded wagner? excuse me, were these guys world series champs WITH wagner?? has wagner brought ANYTHING to philadelphia?

    this reminds me of the Chinese food restaurant episode of seinfeld and elaine's comments:

    "always here? always here? what does that mean?? where am i??"
     
  9. PhiSlammaJamma

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    Philadelphia Soul = Arena League team. ironic.
     
  10. caphorns

    caphorns Member

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    This is pretty good although I'd rank the bullpen up there higher than team defense.

    1. Hitting - Hunsicker had to keep Bagwell and guys that normally hit well are just not hitting. You can't blame him for that. But, I think you can look to two things there: (1) the aging of our roster (which is what it is) and (2) the poor quality of our hitting coaching (apparent from the Doggie deal). The organization deserves some blame here for not improving the lineup. We do not have a real PH for example (sorry but Orlando Palmeiro does not cut it). As a result, there are no bats to bring in late in the game.

    2. Bullpen - If not for Lidge, this would have been really bad. We let go or traded away our depth here. We've added a guy like Weathers that is heartless. It's not just the Billy Wagner deal. I've ranted about this before, but it is clearly a Hunsicker issue. The bullpen was handled very poorly by management.

    3. Injuries - We took on Pettitte knowing of the injury concerns. We had the same type of flare ups last year, so it's not really a surprise. Recharacterized, I'd say it was our lack of pitching depth (not injuries). Chicago had more injuries than we did. To me, its a Hunsicker issue since he has traded our depth (this is just a case of paying the piper for all the bandaid deals of the past). Really, the lack of depth and bullpen are related.

    4. Defense - Management knew they had put a medium to poor defensive product on the field from the start of the season (so our pitching and offense was supposed to make up for it). Our defense is bad, but not something you can't work around. This is not a one-player fixes it all type of situation. But, they did trade away Doggie who was one of their medium to decent defensive players. They have done nothing spectacular at 3B. The catcher spot (to me) has been the biggest disappointment and somewhat of a surprise. Biggio is just out of position being in the outfield.
     
  11. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    Now that Hidalgo has come back to earth:

    August - .204 avg, .291 OBP, 2 HRs, 5 RsBI

    Last 124 at bats - .201 average, 7 HRs, 18 RsBI, OBP < .290

    Is Spilman exonerated? Is Baylor now as bad of a hitting coach as Spilman? Why haven't the Mets been extolling their virtues regarding correcting the flaw in Hidalgo's swing? They sure did after his great first 2 weeks with them. Is it perhaps the player and NOT the coach after all?
     
  12. caphorns

    caphorns Member

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    I'm sure the Mets are looking to trade Doggie now and want desparately to get back that great relief pitching they gvae up :rolleyes:

    Doggie's in a fairly routine slump (not that bad because he still cost us at least one game). I'd say his slump is not as pronounced as the slump Beltran has been struggling through.

    No doubt he got some help. Before he was traded, the guy was going through the worst slump in his entire career. After getting some work from Baylor, for about 3 or 4 weeks he was hitting lights out. I really think the guy will be a better hitter. To the tune of $17M a year, nah.

    But, how would you account for the fact that the Astros lineup is consistently underperforming (with one or two relatively minor exceptions)?
     
  13. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    Traded their soul, no...

    Screwed up the chemistry of the bullpen, absolutely...
     
  14. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Wagner did that when he opened his fat mouth after the season. You don't talk bad about the ownership who signed you to a huge contract.
     
  15. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    124 at bats with a .201 average is more than a "fairly routine" slump (granted, most of the Astros are in the same sort of slump). I am just tired of hearing how the Mets found this flaw in his swing and turned him around when he is hitting about the same with them (average wise) then he did with Houston. He is also hitting .229 since the all star break.

    To counter your "Baylor" argument: after going through spring training with Spilman, Hidalgo was hitting lights out for 3-4 weeks.

    Collectively the Astros have underperformed since May. Age is a contributing factor. A seemingly bad psyche is a contributing factor. Ultimately the blame lies with the players. I suspect that the coaches coached the same way this year as they have since they were hired. At what point did they become "bad" coaches? Did Spilman get credit for helping Hidalgo turn a miserable 2001-2002 into a good 2003?

    I agree about Beltran. With the exception of a couple of exceptional weeks, he has been a huge disappointment with the exception of the HRs.
     
  16. mateo

    mateo Contributing Member

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    Hey...I quit watching a week ago.

    The NFL rules, anyway.
     
  17. caphorns

    caphorns Member

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    Sounds like we mostly agree. I concur that you cannot conclude for certain that Spilman succs by Doggie alone. The fact is the entire lineup (with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions) stopped hitting at their ordinary level. Rather than go man-for-man, I tend to view it as MOST LIKELY TO BE A PROBLEM WITH THE ORGANIZATION. You can fault the players to a tee, but the orginazation is charged with putting the product on the field. They haven't this year at all (and they oversold what they had).
     
  18. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Contributing Member
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    Oversold what they had? What the hell does that mean? Should their ad campaigns have instead been:

    "Come see the Astros in 2004! We're PRETTY good, although not GREAT! There is always the potential for players to suck, so we won't say come see a world series run, just come see some baseball, maybe! We figure the team has about 85-88 wins in them this season, so if you're not doing anything, come on out! If you are, that's cool, dude. No biggie. They'd probably lose anyway since we aren't really trying to put a good product on the field. Nice jacket!"

    None of this season's woes should be put on the front office. With the talent this team accumulated, we should be in playoff contention now, if not world series contention. I put this miserable season solely on the players heads.
     

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