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[EPSN Insider] - Astros may need to rethink plan going forward

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by UTweezer, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. UTweezer

    UTweezer Contributing Member

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    To begin with, a selective list of facts:

    • In 2004, the Florida Marlins finished in third place.

    • In 2003, the Orange County Angels finished in third place.

    • In 2001, the New York Mets finished in third place.



    AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
    Craig Biggio will be 40 years old when next season begins.• In 1999, the San Diego Padres finished in fourth place.

    • In 1994, the Toronto Blue Jays finished in third place.

    Aside from the obvious, all five of these teams had something else in common: just one season before, they played in the World Series. Three of them won the World Series. The Blue Jays, Angels and Marlins all reached the very pinnacle of professional baseball … and 11 months later, they finished in third place.

    I'm bringing this up as a preemptive strike against those of you who are going to think I'm crazy for suggesting that both the White Sox and the Astros might suffer big drop-offs next season. Last week, I argued that if the White Sox aren't serious about improving this winter -- as opposed to simply maintaining the roster that won 110 games in 2005 -- they could well finish third in 2006.

    The Astros are in exactly the same boat.

    Oh, it's been a wonderful year. But does this look to you like a team with a solid long-term future?

    This season, six Astros pitchers accounted for 161 starts.

    Roy Oswalt (age 28), Andy Pettitte (33) and Roger Clemens (43) combined for 100 starts, 50 wins, 29 losses and a fantastic 2.42 ERA. We'll call them Group A.

    Ezequiel Astacio (25), Wandy Rodriguez (26), and Brandon Backe (27) combined for 61 starts, 23 wins, 24 losses, and a less-than-fantastic 5.24 ERA. We'll call them Group D.

    Which is more likely? Group A doing significantly worse next season, or Group D doing significantly better?

    As I'm sure you've heard, without their pitching, the Astros would have been lost. They were No. 1 in the National League in runs allowed, and No. 11 in runs scored.

    But their pitching will, in all likelihood, be worse next season. Maybe a lot worse. Will they make up for it on the other side of the equation?

    Last season, the Astros were blessed with two great hitters (Lance Berkman and Morgan Ensberg), two good ones (Jason Lane and Craig Biggio), and a bunch of stiffs.

    I know, that's harsh. It gives me no pleasure to tell this particular truth. But I mean, just look at these guys. Mike Lamb did show some power, but his .284 on-base percentage sometimes made him one of the very worst first basemen in the majors. Chris Burke wouldn't be so bad at second base, his "natural" position, but as a corner outfielder, he's terribly miscast. Adam Everett is 28, and he's got a .305 career on-base percentage. Willy Taveras is touted as a Rookie of the Year candidate, and though he might yet become a fine player some day, right now he's a fast runner with no power and practically zero control of the strike zone (25 walks and 102 strikeouts in 152 games).

    Oh, and Biggio turns 40 next month.

    I've been wrong about the Astros before. Dead wrong. In 2004, I thought they should have traded Carlos Beltran before August, because they didn't have a chance to come back and make the playoffs. They almost went to the World Series. In 2005, I thought they should have spent the year rebuilding, as of course they would suffer the loss of Jeff Kent and there was no way Roger Clemens could duplicate his brilliant 2004 performance. They went to the World Series.

    Twice I've said the Astros should start the rebuilding process, twice they've ignored me, and twice they've wound up within a few breaks of the Big Enchilada. But this time -- seriously, folks -- management needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and figure out if it wants to stand pat and win 80 games next year, or make some real (i.e., expensive) moves and have a fighting shot at winning 90.
     
  2. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    Dude, they did rebuild. They started two rookies all season long and found significant playing time for a third. They mixed in two rookie starting pitchers throughout the season. And found a very good one in Qualls in the bullpen. (yes, Qualls qualified as a rookie this season). Their team MVP is 30 years old (Morgan Ensberg). Meanwhile, Lance Berkman isn't exactly an old grizzled veteran.

    This article breaks down on two players. Biggio and Clemens. And I won't argue they're old. I won't argue that at all.

    But the article draws the assumption that every flip that could go either way...basically whether or not guys will improve or not improve...or whether or not guys will still play to the same level they did last season or not....he finds going the other way. Just guessing. All on assumption.

    It ignores that we've been hearing about how Clemens CERTAINLY can't go out and have another season like the one he did previously again...can he?? And it ignores the fact that Biggio was more than productive in this year's lineup after many said he should have been replaced last year. (it also ignores the possibility of a platoon situation at 2B with Biggio and Burke). In the end the worst thing he can say about Biggio is that he's 40.

    So what is rebuilding then?? Baseball teams rarely turn over an entire roster. He's talking about replacing Biggio and Lamb. Is he seriously advocating giving up on Taveras? Would it be enough to merely replace Everett (something I'd be very open to)??
     
  3. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    He's just being realistic. On paper this team does not look that great. You look at the lineup and the age of some of our better players and you wonder how they did it. But then again we've said that the last couple of years.

    I think the writer is ignoring one thing though. With the steroid era over, the game is now about pitching. We had the best pitching in the league, that is why we won.
     
  4. gwayneco

    gwayneco Contributing Member

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    Who wrote this?
     
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    but age is really only a big issue with 2 players who were major contributors on this team.

    EDIT: and one of those guys finished 1st in ERA this year. the other hit 26 dingers.

    he groups oswalt, clemens and pettitte together, and puts their age. pettitte is closer in age to the youngest guy in the next group (Wandy) then he is to Clemens. i just don't get this article. this was not a real old team that won this year. if you think they're not talented, that's one thing...but that they're this old over the hill team?? i'd argue they did rebuild. and for as good as roger clemens was, they didn't really take advantage of it during the regular season. nevertheless, they won enough games to make the playoffs and went on to be NL champs.
     
    #5 MadMax, Nov 3, 2005
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2005
  6. UTweezer

    UTweezer Contributing Member

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    phil neyer
     
  7. Major

    Major Member

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    I don't think this is too unreasonable an article. This team was virtually the definition of a "chemistry" team - it somehow won a lot of games, but no one would have predicted this to be better than last year's team just based on personnel. Chemistry teams are notorious for not duplicating whatever magic made them successful.

    Looking at the roster, we got extremely lucky with health. Outside of Berkman's pre-season injury and Roger for a few starts in September, no one on the roster was hurt for any significant length of time. It's also unlikely that our pitching can keep up that level of performance. Both Clemens and Pettite had career years, with Oswalt coming pretty close until an August stumble. Can they repeat that? Possibly - but it's not likely.

    The offense should improve with all the youth we had, but it's still not a powerful offense.

    He admitted he's been wrong twice. But from a personnel standpoint, a lot went right last year - even the rotation for each of our playoff series came out perfectly - and those types of things tend to balance themselves out.
     
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    if that's what he's saying, fine. i just don't read that as what he's saying. he spends a lot of time telling you how old everyone is. that they need to rebuild...and that it's been overdue to rebuild. of course, just last year they added pettitte and clemens. this year they had two rookie starters...and threw in two rookie starting pitchers, particularly when Backe was down for a good part of the season.
     
  9. Major

    Major Member

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    Outside of mentioning that Biggio is 40, did he mention age at all? Or just that our pitching is likely to regress and our hitting is ... uhh, not so good. :)
     
  10. msn

    msn Member

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    Phil Neyer? There's a Phil Neyer?
     
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    look up at the article..he cites the age of almost every player he mentions.
     
  12. Khal80

    Khal80 Contributing Member

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    he is not that off....clemens did drop off toward the end of the season

    we need bats and another pitcher

    i would be happy with a decent pitcher, a big name bat, and a bat that gets it done

    and throw in a consistent morgan ensberg
     
  13. Major

    Major Member

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    But outside of Biggio and Clemens, none of them are old. It doesn't seem like he's talking about them as those they are old, just as mentioning their ages. For example, he mentions Astacio (25), Wandy (26), Backe (27), Oswalt (28) etc.
     
  14. white lightning

    white lightning Contributing Member

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    What are these expensive moves that he recommends? There's not many free agents worth what they are going to get this year. I don't think we want to take a big money gamble on pitchers like K. Millwood, J. Washburn or Burnett (maybe). Or hitters- Giles (old) R. Sanders (old) Alou (old) Damon? We have a better shot with working more with the kids that we have.
     
  15. UTweezer

    UTweezer Contributing Member

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    rob neyer
     
  16. white lightning

    white lightning Contributing Member

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    Rob Neyer lives about 2 mile from me. Should I egg his house?
     
  17. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Nah... the guy has always been a big Astros supporter... in fact, he cares enough about them to constantly write about them, even if he isn't really supporting them with this article.

    If it weren't for him and Jayson Stark, people around the country may still not realize that we even have a baseball team. They're always the first (and only) guys to write about the Astros... while the rest of the staff is devoted to the Yankees, Red Sox, Yankees, Red Sox, Yankeees, Braves, Red Sox, Yankees.
     
  18. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    that's what i'm saying..i don't understand the article. maybe someone needs to define rebuilding for me. we had young players making HUGE contributions this year. as regulars in the lineup. as starters in the rotation. as relievers in the pen. does he propose we trade all those guys away?? would that be rebuilding? he's saying he's been telling the astros to rebuild for 2 offseasons...fine...what does that mean??
     

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