Back in April, I wrote a column where I expressed nagging fears that this season might blow-up, destroying all our hopes and dreams for the glorious campaign to come. “BANG!”, I said. I was wrong. This is no bang, this is a whimper. OK, so Miller and Pettitte have spent some time on the DL, and Oswalt is nursing a bum rib, but that matters ought when you look at any or all offensive categories. “Operation Shutdown” has been executed flawlessly, and the Astros’ season has been scuppered as a result.
As I write this, Scrap Iron appears to have beaten some life into the Astros offense. This, coupled with some unexpected pitching fortitude from Munro and Redding, has resulted in a rally that has reinvigorated certain sectors of the fan base, and seemingly convinced the organization to press on with this campaign instead of cutting bait. They announced this renewed commitment to winning by trading for Darren Oliver. Of that I will say nothing except, “WTF”?
A Modicum of Perspective
The Astros’ post-ASB, post-Jimy rally has done two notable things:
1) garnered…umm…Garner a .500 record as skipper; and
2) got the Astros back to .500 as a club.
Yes folks, .500 is the landmark achieved by this rally. The very definition of mediocrity. Meanwhile the 3rds remain out of reach, and the Astros have improved to just 4th place in the NL Central, completely out of that race and 5 games back in the Wild Card, staring at the behinds of five other clubs at least three of which have much better balanced ballclubs.
The current schedule favors the Astros. They have some vulnerable opponents, while their prey has some difficult match-ups. We may yet have another week or two of fun; enough to take us past the trading deadline, at least. But what happens when the idiosyncrasies of the baseball schedule swing back against us? Is this team really any different from the group that somnambulated through the last two months of Jimmah’s reign? Can they sustain a .666 WIN% to the finish line (necessary to get to 90 wins)? I think not.
“Have you read this ‘piece of cake'”?
When you can throw a hat over Bagwell’s and Everett’s batting average; when the defensive and offensive savior, Beltran, falls off the table with his bat and creates an overall downgrade in outfield defense; i.e. when you have Berkman and Biggio playing the corners; when your bullpen consists of 8lbs of shit in a 5lb bag…and Lidge; when Duckworth, Munro and Redding are getting starts…consecutively; when you consistently fail to score from bases loaded, less than two-out situations; when your right-side infield consists of one guy with a rubber shoulder and another with stone hands and rocks in his head; when there are two dead pigeons in the water tank?
The list of game-elements that the Astros fail to execute time after time after time is almost endless. It has made watching the Astros an excruciating experience. Performances have been better: after whistling the same tune coming out of the ASB they have beaten up on the woeful D-Backs and surprising Brewers. But as a wise bench coach once said “Don’t you think there’s a problem when you get this excited about a seeing-eye single?”