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Here's a tip: Play Lane to the end

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Howyalikemenow, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. Howyalikemenow

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    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/3315753

    Here's a tip: Play Lane to the end
    By RICHARD JUSTICE
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    At this point, there's probably no help coming. The Astros you see now may be the only Astros you're going to get.

    If they miss the playoffs, we can revisit last winter's mistakes while the Cardinals and Braves are playing for the National League pennant. And won't that be some kind of fun?

    If team owner Drayton McLane had done the right thing nine months ago, if he'd signed either Jeff Kent or Moises Alou, the Astros might be coasting to their sixth playoff appearance in nine years.

    Either one of them would have been a nice fit for an offense that has been held to three runs or less 53 times. That the Astros have somehow won 13 of these games is a tribute to a pitching staff that has allowed the fewest runs in the majors.

    Neither Kent nor Alou will be playing for the Astros this season. Kent didn't clear waivers, and the San Francisco Giants informed the Astros several weeks ago that Alou was unavailable.


    It's all about pitching
    A lot of the other players who have been discussed either didn't clear waivers or are making too much money. So let's all get over it.

    "There's just not much out there," general manager Tim Purpura said.

    And some nights, a lineup with both Alou and Kent wouldn't be better than the opposing pitcher. Losses to Kip Wells, Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano aren't warning signs of a larger problem. Those three are capable of dominating even great lineups.

    Losing to Pittsburgh's Dave Williams is a sign of trouble. What the Astros have done this season is nothing short of remarkable. That shapeless thing we saw in April has become a team.

    But it's a team built around pitching.

    When Roy Oswalt is merely solid instead of spectacular, the Astros probably aren't going to win. That was the case in Wednesday's 4-2 loss when Oswalt allowed four runs in seven innings.

    "This team goes the way of its pitching," Lance Berkman said. "That's unfair, but that's the reality of the situation."


    Nobody's perfect
    Manager Phil Garner's knack for mixing and matching the right combination led the Astros to a 42-17 run. They're 7-9 since and bunched with four other teams who are within 2 1/2 games of the National League wild-card lead.

    None of those teams is perfect, either.

    What Garner is hoping is that Morgan Ensberg and Berkman will be hot in September, that Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus will contribute as much as they did in July and the club will regain its mojo.

    Here's one small suggestion.

    Play Jason Lane.

    All day. Every day.

    Stop with the platoon thing, stop fretting over the numbers and simply put him out there and leave him for the remainder of the season. He has earned the opportunity.

    At times this season, no player has looked worse. At other times, though, he has seemed on his way to being a big-time run producer.

    He's second on the team with 55 RBIs. He's tied for second with 17 home runs. He's hitting .353 since the All-Star break.

    The Astros are 24-7 when he drives in a run. Besides, platooning him makes
    no sense, because he's
    hitting higher against righthanded pitchers (.276) than lefties (.233).

    He's not perfect. He's batting .220 with runners in scoring position. There are nights when he will be dominated just like every inexperienced player is dominated.

    The Astros began their turnaround when Lane and Chris Burke began playing every day. They were at their best when Mike Lamb and Orlando Palmeiro were sharing time with Lane and Burke.

    Things have changed.

    Lamb is hitting .179 this month and is 2-for-20 since Aug. 3.

    Burke also has gone into a deep sleep, hitting .109 since July 23. He's going to have to earn his way back while splitting time with Palmeiro.

    This is not last year's lineup. That one had three guys — Kent, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio — with their Hall of Fame tickets punched. That lineup carried the Astros when the pitching was thin.

    Now they're going to have to do it another way. They're capable of winning in October if they get that far.

    Garner did exactly the right thing Wednesday. He pleaded for patience.

    "It's all under control," he said. "It's going to happen. Guys are about to break loose."

    Outside his office, there were similar words.

    "We're OK," Ensberg said. "We just have to get back to scoring early in games."

    Perhaps more important than saying they're going to be OK is that they seem to believe it. For young teams that haven't been where this one would like to go, believing could be critical.

    "If we can come back from that 15-30 start, nothing is going to faze us now," Berkman said.

    He spoke with the kind of confidence that grows during a 42-17 run. It's what the Astros have to rely on now. There's no help coming.

    richard.justice@chron.com

    :D Listen up Garner!
     
  2. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    WOW...Justice has strung a couple of articles together that I agree with. Alert the press!

    Also...PLEASE TAKE NOTE...if he is correct, then Alou is off the table and Kent didn't clear waivers. Can we stop talking about how the Astros should be making trades? Because it appears it isn't going to happen. And it appears it has very little to do with their willingness to pick up a player.
     
  3. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Someone give Satan a coat...I agree with Richard Justice. I believe all of BW3 Royal Oaks heard me screaming at the television for Garner to put him in that last at bat. That .353 average since the all-star break is hard to ignore.

    Well, I don't agree with all of the article. For one thing, I don't think Alou would've signed here regardless. He was going to go to San Francisco to play with his Dad. With Jeff Kent, I think you possibly get into some chemistry problems. Remember last year when we had more bats with Kent in there and it took us until mid-August before we started playing really well.
     
  4. Xenon

    Xenon Contributing Member

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    It's sad that we have 3 of the top pitchers in the league, a solid closer and a top 5 contender for the MVP award yet we are not running away with the wildcard. How poorly will this reflect on Purpura when all is said and done? How do you squander the type of performances we are seeing this season and possibly not even make the playoffs? I truly believe that in 20 years people will single out this Astros season as what NOT to do as a General Manager of a major league club.

    I hear Griffey cleared waivers and was even rumored to go the Whitesox a few days ago. Wish we had a GM and owner with the balls to pull off a move like that. :(
     
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    that's right..they lost last night, so the sky must be falling again. i have a hard time keeping up.
     
  6. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Yup, history will look back 20 years from now and say that Purpura was not doing his job by not signing or trading for such future hall of famers having career years like J.D. Drew, Adrian Beltre, Steve Finley, Randy Winn, Matt Lawton, Larry Bigbie, or Jose Cruz, Jr.

    Yeah, I wish we add an owner who at some point during his tenure would've traded for Carlos Beltran, Pedro Astacio, Mike Williams or even some loser named Randy Johnson. If only they had balls.
     
  7. Xenon

    Xenon Contributing Member

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    Hi. Where exactly in post did I say that we should have signed those guys? I'm talking about RIGHT NOW. A move needs to made right now. Do you not understand that this team has needed another bat all season long? Preferably a corner outfielder.

    Wow, those were some great moves by Purpura. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Major

    Major Member

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    This article seems really poorly timed, given that Lane is not really in a platoon situation... He started 6 of the past 7 games. :confused: A few weeks ago, this might have made more sense.

    As far the team performance, as Berkman said, this team will go where the pitching takes it. If we have average to good pitching, we're not going anywhere - if we add a bat or not. That's just the reality of the team. In August, everyone except Clemens has been average or worse. Oswalt has an ERA of 4.7, Pettite has been 3.3, and the two rookies have been miserable. We need the big 3 to all stay in the low to mid 2 ERAs to win, and when that's happened, we've proven we can win with this offense.

    I think Oswalt may need a start off, whether he admits it or not. Outside of that, Pettite is pretty close to where he was, and Clemens seems to be still doing his thing. If we can get Oswalt back on track, we're fine. We've lost 3 of his last 4 starts. If we win 3 of 4 instead (as you'd expect), we're 2 games up in the wildcard and in pretty good shape.
     
  9. Major

    Major Member

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    Do you not understand that a trade requires two interested parties? Do you believe a good GM would make a trade at any cost?

    In case people don't remember, in 2003, we barely missed the playoffs. The great Hunsicker did not make a move during that season. Billy Wagner yelled and screamed about how ownership wasn't dedicated to the team and got blasted by fans (and traded), and everyone realized that there was nothing good available at a reasonable price and that this was the right decision. Why is it so different now?
     
  10. Xenon

    Xenon Contributing Member

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    How often are we going to have performances like we've seen this season? This could be a magical season and it seems like its just being wasted.

    I hear Griffey has Houston as one of the teams he wouldn't mind being traded too. If he has cleared waivers like the rumors suggest why couldn't he be traded here? Why do so many people think their teams prospects are all can't miss? Two prospects for Griffey is nothing especially if he helps us into the postseason.
     
  11. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    I know, the plethora of trades in the last few days has me fuming that the Astros haven't done anything. The way the Phillies and Nationals have made trades to vastly improve their team since the trading deadline while Purpura and Drayton have sat back is just maddening!

    You said you wished the GM AND the owner had the balls. The owner obviously does. There is no proof that the GM does not at this point. Unless you wish he had stupid balls and had gone after all the guys mentioned before.
     
  12. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Do you have access to the Astros front office that no one else here has? How do you know that they're not talking with teams or actively going after someone? Please enlighten us as to how you know this. Thanks.
     
  13. Major

    Major Member

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    And this team has proven that when we're getting those performances, we can win. The simple fact is, outside of Clemens, we're not getting those performances right now.

    Griffey also has 4 more years on a huge contract and is likely to be injured for many of those years. Only a stupid GM would trade for him without contract changes.
     
  14. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    How great is it that the Astros are starting 2 rookie pitchers, essentially (for the most part) an all rookie outfield, a catcher and SS unable to hit .250, a guy coming off major knee surgery playing most of his games at a new position and also have a number of young unproven relievers, yet they are tied for the wild card lead in mid-August.
     
  15. Xenon

    Xenon Contributing Member

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    There's nothing I can say that will convince you people how much of a waste it will be if this team does not make the playoffs.

    Can someone point me to the message board for people that don't think every Astro player is an all star and every prospect is can't miss and can never be traded for any reason? Thanks...
     
  16. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    It's only a waste if there's no one out there that will realistically help the ball club not only get over the hump this year, but doesn't completely mortgage your future. Randy Winn, Larry Bigbie, Matt Lawton or Jose Cruz, Jr. aren't going to push this team over the top. You can speculate on Griffey all you want, but he hasn't even been moved yet. If he is, I'll wait and see what he was traded for before I start b****ing and moaning about how horrible our GM and owner are.

    www.constantlybitchandmoan.com

    Good riddance.
     
  17. Howyalikemenow

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    Aside from trading, we can make one significant change. Leave Lane in. Doesn't cost us anything because Lamb is flat out not producing, minus the one game winning homer the other week.

    Besides, this constant lineup changing has got to be playing mind-tricks with our hitters.
     
  18. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    I won't go as far to say that Purp is ignoring his responsibilities...yet. However, its hard not to think about Hunsicker and his ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat when we needed a boost.

    I still like our chances even if we stand pat....mainly because we are battling a lot of mediocrity for the WC.....but the sound of "batting 5th, playing LF, #30, Ken Griffey Jrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" sure has a nice ring to it.
     
  19. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    I actually like the job he's doing. The only questionable move IMO was the Kent thing, but I'm nowhere near convinced that he'd help as much as a lot of people think he would. It's easy to look at stats and plug them into our lineup and say that person would be a difference maker. It's another thing, unlike the first 3/4 of last year showed, to actually have it happen. Purpura could've panicked by making a move for one of the many people mentioned that haven't panned out for anyone and in the process hurt the team. Bottom line is it's August 18th, and we're tied for the wild card lead.

    Absolutely. I don't like his contract, but I think a lot of the injury concerns surrounding Griffey were fluke things like hurting his shoulder by running into a wall. I would definitely welcome a trade that brought him to Houston.
     
  20. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    I agree with the injury thing (other than the hammy which can happen to anyone). I also think that if only had to patrol the short porch in LF as opposed to Tals Hill in CF, it would potentially be less of an injury risk.
     

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