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Garner's moves defy baseball logic

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by arkoe, May 12, 2007.

  1. arkoe

    arkoe (ง'̀-'́)ง

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    Garner's moves defy baseball logic

    By RICHARD JUSTICE
    Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

    One third baseman is hitting 167 points higher than the other third baseman. Guess which one Phil Garner had in his starting lineup Friday night.

    If you answered the one with the lower batting average, you're thinking right along with our skipper. Keep it up and pretty soon you may have your own 16-19 team to manage.

    Here's another easy one. One of Garner's second basemen entered the game 7-for-21 against Arizona starter Brandon Webb. Garner's other second baseman was 1-for-17.

    Easy choice, right? Actually, no. Garner had the 7-for-21 guy on the pine and Mr. 1-for-17 in his lineup.

    Hey, managers have bad nights, too. Maybe there's a method to Garner's madness.

    Or maybe this Roger Clemens stuff has him so shook up that he can't think straight when it's time to fill out the lineup card. He spent another day explaining that he didn't say what he appeared to say when he brought up the fact that Clemens was seen at a golf tournament last September when the Astros were playing a must-win series in Pittsburgh.

    Garner said he didn't intend the comments to be a knock at Clemens. They clearly were, but that's beside the point. He pointed out again and again that the vast majority of his comments were overwhelmingly positive.

    He made the golf tournament an issue by mentioning it. If it wasn't an issue, he shouldn't have brought it up.

    "I loved every minute he was here," Garner said. "It was never an issue with our club. Plain and simple."

    That he was preoccupied with Clemens is about the best explanation for Friday's lineup that I can come up with.

    For instance, third base. Mike Lamb began the day hitting .395. Morgan Ensberg was at .228. Ensberg got the start at third and went hitless in four at-bats in a 3-1 loss. Ensberg's average dropped to .219 as Webb pitched a six-hit complete game.

    Garner made another puzzling move at second, where Craig Biggio was 1-for-17 against Webb and Mark Loretta was 7-for-21. Despite the numbers, Biggio got the nod and went 0-for-4. Loretta pinch-hit in the seventh and hit into a double-play. Lamb never got off the bench.

    I think I understand some of what's going on. Ensberg is playing almost every day now because the clock is ticking on his career with the Astros.

    If he doesn't pick it up soon, he's going to be gone, either by trade or release. Because he's so good defensively, because he has the potential to hit for power, Ensberg is going to get every chance.

    "I think he can get back to the form of two years ago," Garner said. "If he swings the bat, which he has done these last 10 days, he'll hit home runs. If he can get back to hitting with power, he brings more to the table than the other two guys."


    Test of patience
    Baseball seasons unfold a bit at a time, and the test for a front office is deciding when to be patient and when to make a move. Ensberg says he has 11 line-drive outs. If six of those line drives had been hits, he'd be batting .276.

    "I've never seen anything like it," he said. "I'm trying not to go absolutely crazy."

    As for Loretta, that's a tougher one. Garner could have used him at short or second. But the Astros seem to believe he can play just one position competently, and that position is filled by someone 37 hits from 3,000.

    Which brings us to Chris Burke. He was sent to Round Rock Friday when reliever Rick White was activated. He was braced for the news after a meeting with Garner earlier in the week. Still, it hit him hard.

    He asked (pleaded? demanded?) the Astros trade him. General manager Tim Purpura promised nothing.

    His career so far has been a combination of bad timing and even worse circumstances. He was the 10th pick of the 2001 draft, and the Astros believed he'd be their everyday shortstop and leadoff hitter for a long, long time. No sooner had he reported to the minors did the Astros discover their scouts had blown it. He didn't have the arm to play short.

    He was shifted to second base, where, as Purpura said: "His career course ran right into Craig Biggio."

    Burke was distraught on Friday. He's 27 years old and has just 781 career at-bats. He said the hardest thing is walking through the clubhouse knowing that his teammates and coaches still have no idea whether he can play for not.

    This was supposed to be his year. The trade of Willy Taveras to Colorado opened up an everyday spot for him, but he barely held onto the job in spring training when Hunter Pence burst onto the scene. He lost his job after just 80 at-bats. He was hitting .238.

    "He never got a chance," teammate Lance Berkman said.

    Purpura may have pulled the plug on Burke too quickly, but his alternative was to do nothing.


    'Set up for failure'
    "In a lot of ways, I think the situation was set up for failure from the beginning," Burke said. "I'm extremely upset about the way my career has materialized. I've been here three years, and no one in that clubhouse has really seen me play. I also know this organization doesn't revolve around doing what's best for me. I don't want to get too carried away. It's just frustrating."

    It's turning into that kind of season. Things looked worse in 2004 and 2005. The difference was those teams had enough starting pitching to make a spectacular run. This one doesn't. That's why Garner should find a spot for his best hitters. They're his best chance to get something going.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Amazing what happens when he doesn't write about himself in the article. I agree with basically everything he said other than the part about Loretta playing SS.
     
  2. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Contributing Member

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    it's why this club should look for a new manager.
     
  3. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    you gotta feel bad for burke but really where can you put him? we have to have him next year but are we slowly destroying a career in the meantime?
     
  4. rocketfat

    rocketfat Member

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    i agree that garner's an awful, brainless manager and should be canned, but this article is just r****ded.

    justice's main points are that for one specific game 2 players with lower BA's against the opposing pitcher got the start over 2 players with higher BA's vs. him? so that's how you're supposed to set your lineup every single game, with no exception? just look at everybody's BA's vs the opposition and pencil them into the scorecard accordingly? then he goes on to throw in that loretta did get an AB, but grounded into a double play? uhhh....so what's your point?

    it's just pure rambling nonsense, spoken and written like a 10-year old.
     
  5. kevwun

    kevwun Member

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    You gotta love Dick Justice. Earlier in the week he had an entry in his blog about Garner being the right man for the job. How does Justice get away with completely contradicting himself time and again?
     
  6. Buck Turgidson

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    That's pretty much a sure-fire way of knowing that you're wrong.
     
  7. Buck Turgidson

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    Unless, of course, you're agreeing with him tomorrow when his opinion shifts 180 degrees.

    RJ is a hack, you'd be smarter by not reading him. Or The Jesus.
     
  8. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    It is RJ's job to get readers ......he writes about both sides of a topic.....almost all reporters do that...big deal.

    DD
     
  9. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    No, they don't.
     
  10. Major

    Major Member

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    Well, at least we know now where you model your posting style from. :)
     
  11. rocketswinitall

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    his moves may not make much sense but the point is since he has been here he has WON.
     
  12. arkoe

    arkoe (ง'̀-'́)ง

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    I barely ever read the Chronicle. Wandered over this article the other night.

    We have two players hitting over .360. Mike Lamb is hitting nearly .500 when he starts. You have two players who have had success against one of the best pitchers in the league. You've got to play them to give yourself a better chance.
     
  13. Buck Turgidson

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    I did not read the article, just the headline & your commentary.

    My point being, if you want to become a smarter Astros fan, if you want to gain some insight into what is actually happening down on Crawford & Texas, you would do yourself well to avoid Justice, Ortiz & Lopez. They offer nothing of value.

    To your point: MoBerg is likely running out of opportunities: "Day to day basis" right now, said Garner last night. They have actively shopped Ensberg since last winter, and had no takers. As was pointed out, by me & now McTaggart, he's hit into some atrocious luck this year, but at some point you just have to produce. Lamb/Ensberg quasi-platoon strikes me as a good alternative.

    Loretta is not a good SS. He may be adequate in small doses. It is absolutely pointless to argue about Biggio getting PT right now, especially at home. Anyone who has followed the situation with even passing interest understands what's going on. It's just about akin to arguing that the sun should rise in the West. Not gonna change in the near future.
     
  14. arkoe

    arkoe (ง'̀-'́)ง

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    Past this board, who would you suggest reading that writes about the Astros.

    I realize that there is a huge discrepancy between Biggio's home/away splits over the last couple of years, he's a fan favorite, and then there's the whole chase for 3000 thing. If it wasn't an All Star pitcher, I wouldn't be arguing this way. Webb is dominating though. You have one player who has a .300 average against Webb and a second batting over .400 for the season. Putting them in gives you a much better chance at winning. Lamb started against Hernandez, why not against Webb?

    Garner sits Biggio here and there, he can sit him every once in a while at home.

    As for Loretta at SS, I have already said that I disagree with Justice when he said that Loretta was an option at SS.
     
  15. Buck Turgidson

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    Biggio starting, day game after night game (when he usually sits) and Loretta at 3rd instead of Mo should maybe tell us something.

    Garner has had to deal with some tough player situations in his tenure (Lidge, MoBerg, Burke, Biggio, WillyT, Lane, Wandy). He's not perfect, nobody is, but he's handled them about as well as could be expected.
     
  16. Buck Turgidson

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    We don't know, because Justice has no access & can't ask Garner. I'm sure he had a reason, and I would have liked to hear Gar's thoughts.

    He got some good stuff from Lamb in today's chron, but very, very telling that there was not a single comment from anybody in Astros management.
     
  17. JunkyardDwg

    JunkyardDwg Contributing Member

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    The only thing that sucks is the Burke situation, but even then I think Garner handled it the way he had to. It's just tough luck that he ran into a future (possible) first-ballot HOF and franchise icon in Biggio...but it's just the way it is. And he might not have been placed into the best position to succeed by starting him in CF this season, but still he didn't make the most of that opportunity. The organziation will need him though, either in the second half or next season.
     
  18. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    no kidding!! i was thinking the exact same thing.

    he is so topsy-turvy with the astros it's beyond ridiculous. he used to at least wait a month or 2 before writing something so contradictory. now he does it within the same week.

    he'll talk bad about drayton on the radio...but praise him in print. he'll talk about how the astros are doing it right...and then tear them apart when they have a losing streak. he's a lot like a lot of posters here that way, frankly. the difference...he expects to be taken seriously...and he's paid to do it.
     
  19. Fatty FatBastard

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    Say what you want about Justice, but he was no Eddie Sefko.

    That moron wrote constantly about the Rockets sucking during our glory years. I think he picked the other team beating us in every series except the TWolves.

    I actually called him out on it when I met him at Savages. The next year, he was relegated to golf. Then he moved to Dallas.

    RJ might be an odd reporter, but at least he loves our teams, much unlike fat-ass Sefko.
     
  20. rocketfat

    rocketfat Member

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    haha. sefko. always blew my mind how limited his vocabulary and how poor his grammar was. felt like every article he wrote was written by a grade schooler.
     

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