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It's Off

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by RocketMan Tex, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. RocketMan Tex

    RocketMan Tex Contributing Member

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    Anyone read the lead in this morning's Chron Fishwrap sports page? Ortiz is spot on....:(

    [urlhttp://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/3206280[/url]

    It's June 1; Astros season pretty much over

    By JOSE DE JESUS ORTIZ
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle



    If history is any indication — and history usually shows the way in baseball — the Astros are plugged to an EKG machine this morning. The pulse is weak, and some in the family are preparing the obituary.

    The calendar has hit June 1. Is it time to pull the plug on the Astros?

    "Absolutely not," said Astros owner Drayton McLane. "Remember last year everybody wanted to bury us at the All-Star break? We made one change. We changed our manager and brought in Phil Garner. That gave a lift to the team."

    No, McLane is not thinking of changing managers. The 2004 Astros gave pessimists reason for caution, finishing the season with a 36-10 run to win the National League wild card in one of the most surprising comebacks in major-league history.

    But as badly as the Astros played last year, they never fell more than four games under .500 with All-Star sluggers Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran to go along with potential Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and All-Star Lance Berkman.

    Kent is with the Dodgers, and Beltran is with the Mets. Bagwell is on the disabled list and headed for what likely will be season-ending right shoulder surgery June 7.

    Berkman tore the ACL in his right knee playing flag football last October, had surgery Nov. 15 and didn't come off the DL until May 6. Berkman, the only current Astros position player who has been an All-Star this millennium, admittedly is still looking to recapture his swing. But his opinions are in midseason form.

    "There's two ways to fix this team," Berkman said. "You have to go in one of two directions, and I'm not smart enough or qualified enough to say when you pull the trigger on either one of these two plans. The first plan is that you have to go to a straight youth movement. You have to make trades and get as young as you possibly can and put together a nucleus of young guys that you think are going to be here for the next four or five or six years and let them play.

    "Or you have to say, 'All right, we have enough here with some of the veterans that we have.' You're going to have to go out and add one impact bat and another good professional hitter. Obviously a dream scenario would be like if you traded for a guy like (Kansas City Royals first baseman) Mike Sweeney or a guy like (the Rockies') Todd Helton if Baggy didn't come back and then signed Brian Giles (away from the Padres) in the offseason. Then you'd have either Sweeney or Helton and me and Giles in the middle of the order with Morgan (Ensberg). That would be a very good offense.

    "You either have to do something like that, or you have to say we're going to go with our young guys and give them a chance to grow into it and be the type of hitters they can be. I think you need to make a determination pretty quickly."

    As if missing the team's 2004 RBI leader (Kent), the postseason star (Beltran) and the franchise leader in home runs and RBIs (Bagwell) weren't enough, the numbers conspire to throw dirt on the Astros.

    Despite Tuesday's 4-3 win against the Reds, the Astros (19-32) are in last place in the NL Central, 14 games behind the division-leading Cardinals.


    A's, Marlins beat odds
    Only one team trailed by more games on June 1 and reached the playoffs. The 2001 Athletics were 15 games back in the AL West on June 1 and reached the playoffs that year. The 2003 World Series champion Marlins were fifth in the five-team NL East on June 1, 12 games back.


    RESOURCES
    GOAL TO GO

    One goal remaining for the 2005 Astros is to improve their winning percentage enough to avoid the first 100-loss season in franchise history. The Astros teams with the worst starts and how they finished:

    Season 51 games Final
    1991 18-33 65-97
    2000 19-32 72-90
    2005 19-32 60-102*
    1975 20-31 64-97
    1967 20-31 69-93
    1990 20-31 75-87
    * — projected record at current winning percentage.


    Both those teams earned wild-card berths. The A's were 25-26 and the Marlins 22-29 after 51 games.

    No other team reached the postseason after trailing by more than double digits in their divisions June 1, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

    Only six teams that were last in their divisions June 1 made the playoffs: 1974 Pirates (sixth place), 1974 Orioles (sixth), 1989 Blue Jays (seventh), 1995 Dodgers (fourth), 2000 A's (fourth) and 2003 Marlins (fifth).

    All those teams were dispatched in the first round except for the Marlins.

    "I'm not saying it has to happen immediately, but if we're not in it by the All-Star break and we're not showing significant improvement, I think at that point you've got to give guys looks," Berkman said. "You have to put a Jason Lane in the lineup every day, and you have to figure out a way to get Chris Burke in the lineup, whether in the outfield or somewhere.

    "You have to get him some at-bats in the major leagues just to see where you're at."


    Not throwing in towel
    At least publicly, the Astros aren't ready to concede the season.

    McLane refuses to say his team is rebuilding just one season after the Astros got within a win of the first World Series berth in franchise history.

    Some young players worry the Astros will try to salvage an unsalvageable season with an ill-advised trade that gets rid of young talent.

    McLane and general manager Tim Purpura are adamant that they won't make trades this year unless those players also provide help for the future.

    If a poll were conducted in the clubhouse, McLane and Purpura would have realized that several players were clamoring to have top second baseman prospect Burke back up from Class AAA Round Rock.

    Burke, who was called up after Tuesday night's game, wasn't given a chance to unseat Craig Biggio at second base in spring training even though the Astros said goodbye to Kent under the premise they wanted to see Burke play daily.

    "It's tough to bury us now," said Purpura, in his first season as a general manager. "I know people want to, (but) people in the organization when times are tough, they rally. Whether it's scouts or even people like Nolan (Ryan), we're trying to find answers.

    "Chris Burke's name has been talked about a lot lately and trying to find a way to get him in our lineup in a significant way."


    Garner focused on present

    Astros manager Phil Garner is adamant that he is under a mandate to try to win now. He is more concerned about winning on a daily basis instead of trying to prepare younger players for the future.

    "That's not my task," Garner said about managing to rebuild. "My job right now is to try to win the pennant. So until things change, that's what we have to do. What we have to do is keep our pitching pretty much the way it's been. We have one-third of the season gone.

    "We can be equally as devastating for another third of the season and then play decent ball another third and be where we need to be. When you have good pitching, you can get hot. But all the talk in the world won't get it done. We have to get it done. Truly, we have to start getting our offense clicking."
     
  2. codell

    codell Contributing Member

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    I wonder how Drayton feels about Lance playing GM and spending his money like that. lol
     
  3. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    I'd like to think signing two big offensive players = automatic big fix, but look at the Seattle Mariners.

    They really need more OBP guys, and one-two RBI machines (like Berkman is... or will be when he finally finishes his "spring training.")

    That's wouldn't want Adam Dunn... but I'd take Giles in a heartbeat. Also, I've been clamoring for Mike Sweeny for some time now.
     
  4. RocketMan Tex

    RocketMan Tex Contributing Member

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    I believe the rest of this season will show Astros fans exactly how good of a GM Tim Pupura is. Will he be able to make deals that help the team while still kowtowing to Drayton? Only time will tell.....
     
  5. desihooper

    desihooper Contributing Member
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    I said it before in a previous thread and I'll say it again now... Todd Helton is a guy that we can get to replace Baggy. The Rockies (like the Rangers before them) won't be competitive with that contract on their books. They'll probably even eat some of the money to move Helton to free up some more cash and play some kids like the Rangers did in the A-Rod deal. We have to jump early and be aggressive on this effort. Purpura can really make a "splash" in his first year as GM by pairing the premier left handed bat in the NL with Berkman to solidify the middle of the order (Helton 3rd and Berkman 4th) for years to come. Both of them are locked up longterm. Burke/Estacio/Buckholz for Helton. Get it done Tim!!

    Dunn isn't the answer, a guy who hits for avg and power is what this lineup needs. He'll take his walks (like Bags did) which will help Berkman out because baserunners create pressure on pitchers. Biggio at the three hole doesn't work because he doesn't walk a lot anymore (I think he's really chasing 3000 hits so he's not wanting to get cheated on his ABs). His lack of walks makes him a less than ideal lead-off guy, but I think Bidge is best suited to bat 1st or 2nd in our "A" lineup.

    Taveras
    Biggio
    Helton
    Berkman
    Ensberg
    Lane
    Everett
    Ausmus

    We have about 2/3 of the year left... get the deal done!
     
  6. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    I'd be interested to hear why you would prefer Giles over Dunn.
     
  7. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Are you kidding me?!?

    Giles is a bonafied stud.... he hits for average, power, has great OBP numbers, is a gold glove calibur outfielder, has a rocket for an arm....

    The only thing that Adam has is power... he's a horrible outfielder, he's never hit above .266, and a strikeout machine. No, I do not want the next Dave Kingman on this team over a guy like Giles.
     
  8. NJRocket

    NJRocket Contributing Member

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    I'd have to agree...Giles would be my preferrence over Dunn in a heartbeat.
     
  9. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Giles OBP and SLG career numbers (.412 and .548) are not that far off from Dunn's (.384 and .518). Not to mention, Dunn is eight years younger than Giles.

    I'd be happy with either of them. Helton, I'm not so sure. His road stats this year are awful. Don't know about his career splits though. He does make a ton of money, right?
     
  10. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    Dunn has a career OBP of 0.382 and has drawn 100+ walks two of the three seasons that he has been a regular, so any comparison to Dave Kingman (who had a career 0.302 OBP) is ludicrous.

    If you want to compare careers, than I would agree with you that Giles is better, but if you were choosing which player you want right now, it has to be Dunn. Look at their 2004 seasons - Giles had a better AVG, but Dunn had the better OBP & SLG. Of course Giles numbers were affected by playing in a pitcher-friendly park, but even park-adjusted numbers favor Dunn considerably.

    Dunn is 24, which means that he likely hasn't even reached his peak yet and he has 3 more seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining. Giles is 33, his numbers took a huge plunge last year, and he is making $9MM.

    Giles was at one point one of the best players in the game, but those days are over. He's now a good player who will continue to decline, but is paid like a star. I'm not exactly sure where you get your opinion on his defense, but he's never won a Gold Glove. Now I understand that just because he's never won a GG doesn't mean he's not a great defender, but I've never heard him mentioned with the game's elite defensive outfielders. In fact, in this article, his own GM refers to him as an 'average to above-average', which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement coming from your own team's management.

    Dunn, on the other hand, has had 1.5 really good seasons and 2 OK years under his belt by the time he turned 25. He will continue to improve, and will still be relatively cheap for a few years. I think the Reds would be crazy to give him up, but I suspect that term may just be an apt description of the team's front office.
     
  11. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    I just think that Dunn is not a tough out. He'll take you deep, but he'll also swing away and miss (a LOT!). He got tons of walks last year because Griffey and Kearns were out, and plus he's not a threat on the basepaths at all (not that Giles is... but he definitely runs better than Dunn).

    The age difference is big... but Giles is not old, its more that Adam is that young. While Dunn may improve some aspects of his game (like K's), I don't expect him to start becoming a better hitter for average as he gets older... in fact, it normally gets worse.

    Giles hasn't formally won a GC, but compared to Dunn, he's Willy Mays out there.

    I guess, in the end, I've seen that a 30 year old Giles can still outperform a 20-something Dunn, and make his team better. I would take Adam on this team in a second... but if I had to choose between the two, I'm still taking Giles for the next 4 years.
     
    #11 Nick, Jun 1, 2005
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2005
  12. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    Looks like Dunn signed a one-year, $4.6 million deal this season to avoid arbitration, which is almost exactly half of what Giles earns.
     
  13. RocketManJosh

    RocketManJosh Contributing Member

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    I am absolutely amazed at the love by some of you in here for Brian Giles. This is the same guy that people here in San Diego were ready to run out of town last year. From what I've seen watching a lot of Padres games over the last 2 years, he is a decent hitter and a decent fielder. He seems slow in the outfield, and I definitely have not seen a spectacular arm on him that some have claimed ... at least not as far as right fielders go.

    I think Giles would be a decent addition, but by no means should they break the bank open for him. I personally would prefer Adam Dunn by a long shot.
     
  14. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    After all this talk about potential Reds, what about Kearns??? He gets lost out there, because of his injury history, but he's a guy the Reds may just give away... and he would be worth a shot.
     
  15. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure how you can dismiss his walk total last season so quickly - he's put up huge on-base numbers no matter where he's played.

    Adam Dunn
     
  16. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    His best major league OBP was .400. A 35 year old Jeff Bagwell, with one arm had a OBP of .401.

    You've made a solid case against Giles. He is older, and his numbers have dropped from his career averages... but I'm not buying the case FOR Dunn.

    I guess the thing that really bugs me about him is his K's... that alone is why he's hitting for such a poor average. When I see 40 HR potential, but 100K's, and a .250 average, I don't think "franchise player".... he will not ever amount to the careers being posted by Pujols, Bagwell, Frank Thomas, or any other slugger of the past era. HR's skew everybody's mind.

    For instance, Bagwell is getting into the HOF... not only because of his HR's... but his ability to hit near .300 and be the team leader for 14 years. If he was a .240-260 hitter, and still hitting all those HR's, he's be on the bubble (like many are saying Frank Thomas is, for not being a team leader... but he'll also eventually get in as well).
     
  17. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    I would argue that you're looking at the wrong numbers. Who cares about batting average when he has an excellent OBP & SLG? And why are K's so much worse than any other out?

    I'm not trying to put Dunn in the same category as any of the players that you mentioned, all of whom are special, special players. I'm just saying that a player who is 25 with the potential to post a 0.400 OBP and a 0.600 SLG is a guy that you grab if you have the opportunity.
     
  18. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    K's are almost always worse than any other out:

    You don't advance runners, you don't get sac fly RBI's, and you take away inherent fear from the pitcher when each of them knows that they have the ability to K Dunn by throwing some junk in the dirt.

    I guess you avoid the double play (which for Adam, that's a good thing)... but the negatives outweigh the positives.

    I normally don't have that big of a problem with K's... but he had almost 200 last year. He was also on a pretty bad pace at the beginningof this year.

    If the Reds are deseparate to unload him, and it would be minimal risk on our part (ie - no big long-term contract w/ no-trade clauses), there's no sense in not doing it. BUT... I'm just a little more wary than a lot of people here about him (hell... there's an entire thread devoted just for him... I don't think any Astros player got that much attention this year)
     
  19. Hammer755

    Hammer755 Contributing Member

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    I agree that K's are slightly worse than other types of outs, but a lot of people are willing to write players like Dunn off completely because they strike out a lot. Sure the strikeouts are bad, but they are more than offset by the offensive production that he provides.
     
  20. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Agreed... and that's why he's not a "40 HR hitter"... he's a "40 HR hitter who strikes out a ton, and doesn't hit for average."

    Which means a guy like Morgan Ensberg, who's on pace for 30 HR's, and a .280-290 average, could be more valuable to a lineup (or just as valuable) as a guy who's touted as a star and savior by many others here (not you).

    I'm not writing him off completely... I'm just saying that we need better players than Dunn to fix our lineup right now... that's all. If the Reds, of all teams, don't think he will help them get wins... why should we feel overjoyed to have him?
     

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