H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Gettin' Some Head

Despite Kentucky Scott's prediction that the Rockets would trade away the 24th pick in the NBA Draft last night, the Toyota Center braintrust somehow ignored Scott's omnipotency and opted to select Luther Head out of Illinois.

By almost all accounts (the most notably absent being the moron over at FoxSports.com), it was a great pick-up by your 2006 NBA champions. Head is a tremendous defender, which is an absolute necessity on a JVG-coached team. Unless, of course, your name is Patrick Ewing, in which case you can be a huge stiff and travel all over the floor without repercussion. Further, the rook-to-be is a good shooter and has nice handles. He gives the Rockets flexibility at both guard spots. In fact, his relatively short frame (he's 6'3") probably mandates that he'll be more of a PG than SG.

While the hometown team still needs a banger inside (Stromile Swift perhaps?), I'd have to give the Rockets an "A" on their 2005 draft. Bottom line is that the team got better and younger, which is what the draft is supposed to be about. On a personal note, I'm absolutely giddy about the possibilities Luther's surname provides the Houston fanbase. The signs and headlines virtually write themselves.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

NBA Age Limit

Michael McCann of the Sports-Law Blog has a brilliant piece posted which details his analysis of the newly enacted NBA age limit. Here is the comment that I posted to Michael's piece, which details briefly my thoughts on the matter:

The problem with the age limit is that there simply is not a strong statistical correlation that indicates that 18 year olds are any less prepared to play in the NBA than players of any other age group. Michael's piece does an excellent job of pointing this out. Just as there are 18 year olds who are drafted and don't pan out, there are 21 year old draft picks who don't live up to their potential and there are 28 and 30 year old free agents who sign contracts and fail to perform to expectations.

The risk-reward scenario that is inherent in drafting an 18 year-old kid is exactly why GM's make a lot of money, and there is virtually no evidence to support effectuating such an arbitrary ban. Denying these kids the right to pursue work as a pro basketball player in the NBA is absolutely wrong.

Justice on Stubbs

Richard Justice's article in Tuesday's Houston Chronicle on Longhorn CF Drew Stubbs' pre-college rollercoaster ride is an interesting read. Something seemed fishy when I initially read it, and Skip Sauer at the Sports Economist picked up on that vibe as well.

I know very little about baseball's anti-trust exemption and how the collective bargaining process enables teams to elude claims of collusion, if it does, but the fact that Bud Selig allegedly has the ability to call an MLB owner like Uncle Drayton, tell him that their offer to a draftee is too high and "recommend" a more accurate offer sure makes me nauseous. I was under the impression that MLB worked under a free-market umbrella, at least in the sense that the negotiations between the teams and their draft picks were not restricted by monetary limitations arbitrarily set by the commissioner's office.

Sauer's 'cartel' analogy seems to hit home, especially when you consider that (allegedly) owners like McLane are willing to let the commish push them around (i.e. tell McLane that he's not free to pay his draft pick what he sees fit) in return for favorable future treatment. There's nothing wrong with compromise between parties, but if this is how the system works, it sheds new light on the real reason that some talented draft picks do not end up signing deals following the draft.

NBA Draft Night

UPDATE: ESPN.com reports that the Jazz dealt their #6 and #27 picks this year and their rights to Detroit's #1 pick next year to Portland in return for the #3 pick tonight. I love this move for Utah because I think Deron Williams (I'm assuming Sloan & Co. will take him #3) is a franchise PG, which the Jazz desperately need, and I don't think Felton is the same. If the Jazz had stayed at #6, they likely would have missed out on Williams (and Paul). The Blazers will still get Gerald Green (probably) at #6, so this seems to be a good deal for both teams.

Worth about the pixels on which it's printed, RealGM provides an interactive, if not accurate, website for wannabe NBA GM's. They posted a report on Monday night that alleges that the Rockets and Hawks have discussed swapping the #24 and #31 picks in tonight's draft. I don't see that this is a big deal, really. I'm sure the Rockets have a handful of guys that, if available at #24, they'd be happy to take, but the impact of a player taken tonight at #24 is likely to be somewhat minimal, so if they are able to put a package together that either adds another pick or brings in a proven player (not that the Hawks really have any proven NBA talent on their roster), the Rockets would certainly have to consider it. The RealGM report indicates that the Rockets have their eyes on Luther Head. Head's a nice player, in my opinion, but I'm not sure he's worth the #24 pick in the draft, which apparently the Rockets seem to think as well.

Here's my mock draft (assuming no trades):

1. Milwaukee - Andrew Bogut: I think that this is a mistake, as Marvin Williams is a freak of nature, but apparently the Bucks are sold on Bogut. He's definitely a beast in the paint, but I'm not sure how high his potential really is. If I'm Atlanta at #2, I'm sending highlight films of Bogut to Milwaukee every 10 minutes trying to convince them to take the Ute. (Note: When's the last time the same school boasted the #1 pick in the same year's NBA and NFL drafts?)

2. Atlanta - Marvin Williams: Al Harrington, Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Donta Smith and Marvi Williams. While none of these guys are allowed to buy a bottle of beer, they sure do provide the nucleus of an exciting young roster. But since it's the Hawks, I'm sure they'll sell the kids for parts at some point in their neverending pursuit of imperfection.

3. Portland - Gerald Green: Paul or Deron Williams is probably the best pick at #3, but I'm assuming Telfair's selection in '04 will preclude the Blazers from taking a point guard at #3.

4. New Orleans - Deron Williams: I'm not sure that the Hornets have any kind of plan in place, but I do know that Dan Dickau likely is not their "PG of the future", despite how effective he was last season.

5. Charlotte - Chris Paul: Paul has the talent to be the biggest star out of this draft, in my opinion.

6. Utah - Raymond Felton: To me, Felton = Ed Cota II. We'll see if he proves me wrong.

7. Toronto - Danny Granger

8. New York - Hakim Warrick: I'm sure that Isiah will manage to screw this up somehow, but this sure seems like a nice fit to me.

9. Golden State - Charlie Villanueva: I wouldn't be surprised to see GS move up to try and get one of the 3 big PG's in the draft, but I think they think that they're not far from competing, so I don't think they'll go with a high schooler if they stay at #9. I'm not big on Villanueva, but he's certainly talented.

10. LA Lakers - Martell Webster: Since the Zenmaster admits that the Lakers are likely years away from being competitve again, a HS player seems the perfect fit.

11. Orlando - Channing Frye: Loren Woods says "Hi."

12. LA Clippers - Yaroslav Korolev: I've never heard of this guy, so he's a perfect fit for the Clips.

13. Charlotte - Rashad McCants: If the Bobcats go into next fall with Paul at the point, McCants at the 2, Okafor at the 4 and Brezec at the 5, they'll deserve a lot of credit. I'd buy tickets to see that team develop.

14. Minnesota - Andrew Bynum: Nothing like hiring a GM hours before the draft. I'm assuming that the Kandi Man might be a guy that new GM Boy King would like to replace.

24. Houston - My guess is that the Rockets don't pick at #24 tonight. I'm not sure what they'll do exactly, but I figure that JVG's dislike for rookies and the need to move Sura/Wesley will result in a deal being done, probably to bring a young vet into the Rockets' fold.

C(areless) J(udgment) Miles? Not really...

It's CJ Miles' party tonight, and he can cry if he wants to. More than likely, he will cry his way straight from hip-hop NBA dreams to the slow waltz of Big XII basketball. Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News provides a profile of Miles and his actively-involved father. It is hard to be too critical of the Miles family's decision because of 2002 rule allowing prep players to enter the draft prior to enrolling in college and not risk losing their amateur status as long as they do not retain an agent. CJ has yet to obtain the services of an agent, with his father serving as his lead advisor thus far, and should he not get picked in the 1st round tonight, he could be the first player to take advantage of said rule and enroll in classes at UT in the fall. Seems like there's not a lot of risk for the player, and the only entity disadvantaged would be the college (should they withhold a schollie and CJ not use it) or the NBA team who uses a pick on CJ should CJ decide to forego the NBA.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sherrod Harris - the anti-Perriloux?

Todd Willis of the Dallas Morning News has a column up today (registration required) about Sherrod Harris, a QB out of Arlington Bowie HS, who has orally committed to play college ball at Texas. According to the article, Harris threw for 677 less yards last year (his junior season) than he did his sophomore season while "leading" his team to a 1-9 record. Most interestingly, Harris is allegedly a cerebral QB with 3.9 GPA and 1310 SAT score.

Mack would be smart to lock up a mature, capable QB if he wants to avoid the picketing of his home when Colt McCoy is announced as the starter at the end of 2006 spring drills. I don't claim to know anything about Harris, but the irony of a football factory like UT locking up a brainy QB on an apparently terrible high school team is certainly worth mentioning.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A&M v. Tech in annual Dallas Big XII South consolation game?

Rumors abound about a potential annual showdown (of sorts) between Big XII South doormats Texas A&M and Texas Tech, allegedly to take place at Texas Stadium the evening of the Red River Shootout each year. While this plan does seem to have definite comedic value, it certainly would seem to be a dumb move from just about any angle you look at it. By definition, it is the junior tilt if it's held the same day in the same city as the Texas-OU game, and both schools would seem to lose a vital rivalry game at home every other year. Obviously, the schools will likely realize equal or better monetary rewards if they move the games, or else they certainly would not have even begun the discussions, but I would imagine that residents of the metropolises of College Station and Lubbock would prefer that the games stay on campus. I doubt that the Dallas' infrastructure would be positively affected by the influx of the four schools' alumni and fans all on the same weekend.

However, I'm still searching for confirmation that this plan is actually in place. All I've found thus far is this one-liner from the Dallas Morning News (registration required) indicating that there are discussions ongoing about moving some of the schools' future football games to Dallas and this blurb in the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle's published report did indicate that this fall's November 5 game between the two schools will not be moved under any cirucmstance related to these discussions.

From a logistical standpoint, it certainly would be a good idea to hold the games in separate stadiums since the classy Red Raider fans would likely be unable to refrain from their 'tradition' of blasting Aggie fans in the face with the goalposts.

Foot in Mouth - the Sequel

Charlie Pallilo of ESPN 790 pointed out to me that the Rockets do not have a second-round pick in 2005. That's why he's the pro, and I'm the amateur hack. However, should the Rockets trade for a second-round pick up to or during the draft Tuesday night, consider my 2nd round preview applicable (sarcasm dripping).

As an aside, speaking of ESPN 790, I wonder how badly Pallilo crushes David Dalati about the fact that Dalati's bio on the ESPN 790 website is found at http://www.espn790.com/charliepallilo.html. That's got to be the source of a little ribbing around the studio, one would think.

Who's the Aggie Now? Correction to Bennett Bashing

Upon further review, Martellus Bennet is apparently better advised than I am. A discussion with the Angry Pirates' departing 3rd baseman Joe Matetich last night sparked us to do some research on the NBA's draft eligibility rules. Andy Katz of ESPN.com authored a timely piece on May 19, 2005 that details exactly the situations we considered.

As an high school player, Martellus Bennett is allowed to declare for the draft one time prior to enrolling in college. If he does not sign with an agent, it does not matter whether Bennett is drafted or not - he retains his amateur status and NCAA eligibility. If he is drafted, the drafting team retains his rights for one year. After enrolling, Bennett gets two more shots at declaring (if he does not retain an agent the first time, of course). So really, Bennett had nothing to lose by declaring for the draft, and neither does any high school player who does not sign with an agent. As Katz mentions, no high school player has gone into the draft without retaining an agent to this point, making the rule moot thus far.

So now my question is, why doesn't Bennett stay eligible for the draft this summer. Who knows, maybe he'll get drafted in the lottery, and if he doesn't (and he doesn't retain the services of an agent), then he's lost nothing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Aggie Pearl of Wisdom

Martellus Bennett still has some work to do if he's going to become Master of the Obvious. While he is talented enough to pull double duty in College Station this fall, he apparently needed input from several NBA teams to discover this nugget of brilliance:

"A lot of teams told me that if I come out the next two years, I will be worth more." (courtesy of AP story on ESPN.com)

Sadly, this is the one chance MB had to test the proverbial NBA waters without penalty. It's stunning, though unfortunately not too surprising, how stupid/impressionable some of these youngsters are.

Signs Point to Victory?

Courtesy of my fine friends at Sportsbook.com:

The Rockies are 5-29 on the road this season, and Jamey Wright is 0-10 lifetime against the Astros with an 8.27 ERA and 1.93 WHIP (his team is 1-12 in his 13 lifetime starts v. the Astros).

Despite these ominous figures, I may refrain from wiring the proceeds of a dedicated home equity loan to Antigua on this 'lock' since (a) Wandy Rodriguez is pitching for Houston and (b) of the current Astros' lineup, only Berkman, Biggio and Viz have any extended histories of success (Berkman's hitting .556 lifetime against J-Dub).

Wherefore art thou, Missile?

I, along with some of my buddies (including Sports Radio 610 pandering blogger Kentucky Scott), attended the 'Stros-Rockies game last night. While it was surely pleasing to see Andy Pettitte throwing darts, Berkman leaving the yard, and Chris Burke raise his batting average above .180, I couldn't help but feel that the fans of Houston were robbed last night. Robbed of the chance to welcome the anchor of the 2004 NLCS meltdown--Dan "The Missile" Miceli--back to H-town. I think the roughly 9,000 people that stuck around through the 8th inning did it for only one reason: We all hoped and prayed it was going to be Missile Time. Alas, Clint Hurdle would rather let his pitchers die on the vine (see Kennedy, J. and Anderson, M.) than give the fans what they paid to see. Is it really too much to ask for Miceli to get into a game against his former team in front of his former fans? He was clearly warmed up and ready to go. Tension was at a fever pitch, be it from the moment or the beer. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Hurdle's decision to save Miceli was the worst decision anyone has ever made in the history of mankind.

Worse, the Missile didn't even have the guts to appear on the field after the game. While his bullpen mates made the customary walk through the outfield to the dugout, Miceli cowered in the pen and took the back way out. I don't know what he was scared of--we just wanted to scream that he cost our city a chance at the World Series by serving Albert Pujols a meatball in Game 6 last year. Personally, I just wanted to let him know that dozens of Astros fans died after his meltdown having never seen their beloved team advance to the World Series. I just wanted to let him know that he singlehandedly murdered a little piece of me when he served up a pitch that Mickey Rooney could have hit for a ground-rule double. Why wouldn't he allow me to get that off my chest? Even though he's left the Astros, Miceli continues to ruin my baseball experiences. Damn you, Missile. Damn you straight to Denver.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Look at the Rockets' Draft

The obvious needs for the Rockets heading into 2005-2006 are three:

(a) younger, quicker point guard play
(b) athleticism at the 2/3 spots
(c) banger at the 4 to complement Yao.

With the Greek guy (Spanoulis?) apparently on the verge of making a training camp appearance, (a) may be less of a focus than (b) or (c), but since I know nothing about European players, I won't consider him an option in my preview, nor will I mention any player with an excessive number of letters in his last name (a pretty good way to filter Euros from your draft preview).

Looking at NBA.com's draft site, here's some names that jump out at me with regard to those needs:

(a) Jarrett Jack - This guy's likely not going to be around at the Rockets current #24 slot in the first round, but I will guarantee you that he's going to be a solid contributor for a winning team in the NBA for the next 12-15 years. He's gone up against top-notch ACC and other competition for the last 3 years, and his numbers have tremendously improved each of those 3 years. He's unselfish, tough, athletic, and he plays through pain. I would love to see the Rockets move up to get this guy.

Filiberto Rivera - I'd love to see the Rockets use their 2nd-round pick on this UTEP Miner. He was sensational in the WAC tourney and in the NCAA tourney, and he's got a total package (size, passing ability, scoring, quickness) with a less-recognizable name.

Nate Robinson - This is the fuse that powered the explosive Washington Huskies over the past two years. He's only 5'9", but he's thick and athletic (originally signed to play football at UW) and can absolutely get to the rim. I see a more powerful version of Earl Boykins and an excellent 2nd-round opportunity for the Rockets when I look at Robinson.

(b) Brandon Bass - The 2005 SEC Player of the Year is a ridiculous inside-out talent and more of a 3/4 than a 2/3, but I put him here nonetheless. He's 6'8" with a big frame and can crash the boards, block shots and take his man off the dribble. If he played in the ACC, he'd go in the lottery, and the Rockets should jump on him if available.

Julius Hodge - This former ACC Player of the Year is a seasoned college veteran and versatile player. He was somewhat the victim of unreasonable expectations at NC State and wound up having a stellar career. He's long and lean, can play defense and get to the rack, which are features that the Rockets desperately lack.

Ryan Gomes - All-American, 2-time All Big East first teamer Ryan Gomes is the total package. His Friars had a disappointing conference season in 2005 which removed his name from the national headlines, but at 6'7", 250 lbs. and armed with a successful inside-out game against a power conference over the last 3 years, this guy should be on the Rockets' radar at #24.

(c) Andray Blatche - Late blooming underclassman making himself eligible for the 2005 draft. Blatche did not play organized basketball until high school, and he's 6'11", 235 lbs. with good leaping and athletic ability. He was part of a winning prep program and has played very well in various high school all-star gatherings. The Rockets don't need a polished post scorer (Yao and Juwan Howard can provide plenty of that), but they do need a big, young, powerful body who can rebound and block shots, and Blatche, despite his inexperience, can certainly provide that.

David Lee - Despite my unabashed hatred for the Florida Gators and all that they represent, David Lee would be an excellent pick at #24 for the Rockets. He's a rebound/defense-oriented big who is athletic and unselfish. His numbers at Florida were underwhelming, which is more the result of never seeing the ball (Walsh, Roberson, DuPay, etc.) than an inability to contribute. As a lefty, he has a good knack for getting to the rim and will certainly be strong enough to hang on the blocks in the NBA.

Lawrence Roberts - His name doesn't seem to get the ink that May or Simien get when so-called experts pontificate about the Rockets' draft, but I know from watching plenty of SEC basketball over the last two years that this guy has the ability to dominate a basketball game. He put up 17 points and 10 boards each of the last two seasons while being the focus of opposing defenses all across the country. He more than held his own against the object of Packer and Vitale's affection, Sheldon Williams, when the two met in the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney in March, and he think he'd be a good fit for the Rockets at #24.

Notes: I think that Simien and May will never approach the level of success in the NBA that they did in college, and I think that Chris Taft will follow Eddie Griffin's career path... Michael Harris of Rice would certainly be a great pick in the 2nd round for the Rockets, despite his lack of size. Any guy who consistently puts up 20/20 in D-I deserves a draft selection. .. Rashad McCants obviously is blessed with amazing talent, but frankly, I'm scared of him and would never hand him $1 million in guaranteed money... Channing Frye reminds me of Loren Woods, and Raymond Felton reminds me of Ed Cota...


Daniel Ewing (Willowbridge HS)
- A good, not great college player, I see Daniel being drafted in the 2nd round and never contributing to an NBA team.

Gerald Green (Gulf Shores Academy) - Wouldn't know him if he asked me out to dinner, but anyone who commits to play basketball for Oklahoma State obviously has character issues (pardon the editorial). Apparently he does it all, and judging by the mock drafts I've seen, he'll be a high lottery pick.

Bracey Wright (The Colony HS) - Gifted player amongst non-gifted others at IU (and playing for an incompetent coach), causing him to get lost in the national picture. I see Bracey as a late 1st-round, early 2nd-round pick who will certainly make a roster.

John Lucas (Bellaire HS) - Clutch, competitive point guard with an ex-NBA dad who is a likely 2nd-round draft pick. I'm not convinced that he does anything well enough to last in the NBA (not super quick, not a super shooter, not a super defender, etc.), but he'll certainly get his name called sometime on draft night.

C.J. Miles (Skyline HS) - A commitment to Texas may not hold up, as I've seen his name listed on several mock drafts in the first round. That would be disappointing for Rick Barnes, but very good news for CJ and his wallet.

Antoine Wright (Texas A&M) - Antoine's draft stock is apparently rising, and I think he's going to be a solid pro. I predict Antoine will go between 12 and 18 on draft night, allowing him to legitimately don that obnoxious NBA-logoed headband and socks.

Hello Blazing Fire, My Name is Gas Can

I have no authority to mandate evacuations in the Denver metro area, but I know that there were several times last summer that my wife and I went to the one area in our house without windows just in case. I would highly recommend that residents living in a three-mile radius of Coors Field begin making similar preparations, as "The Missle" will begin launching his famed moonballs on Monday - appropriately enough, for MLB's worst pitching staff. Even more ironic is the fact that The Missle was called up just in time for the Rockies' only trip to Miceli's old stomping grounds, Minute Maid Park. Of course, pitching to the Astros woeful lineup may be the best chance for success that The Missle has all summer.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Texans Predictions

As I was reviewing the 2005 schedule today, I realized something: The Texans could very easily regress in the win column this season. The only probable "gimmes" on the schedule are Cleveland and San Francixxxco. I know the Oilers are down, but I would not underestimate the impact Norm Chow can have on their offense. He could be the second coming of Steve Spurrier, but I don't think you can chalk up two Ws against the Bud's team just yet. The rest of the schedule looks disturbingly tough--road games against Buffalo and Baltimore are nothing to sneeze at. If I had to give a game-by-game prediction for the season (in June), it'd look like this:

1. @ Buffalo--L
2. Pittsburgh--L
3. @ Cincy--W
4. Tennessee--W
5. @ Seattle--W
6. Indy--L
7. Cleveland--W
8. @ Jacksonville--L
9. @ Indy--L
10. Kansas City--L
11. St. Louis--W
12. @ Baltimore--L
13. @ Tennessee--L
14. Arizona--W
15. Jacksonville--W
16. S.F.--W

Final Record: 8-8

Obviously, this prediction is subject to change, but 8-8 shouldn't be enough to sniff the playoffs. Rumor is that Bob McNair has made it abundantly clear that he expects a serious push toward the playoffs this year. If that doesn't happen, will Capers be held responsible? And if so, who replaces him? It had better be someone who runs a 3-4, or half of the Texans' defensive roster will be looking for jobs next summer.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

We Might Be Terrible...

But at least our local sports section doesn't devote valuable real estate to the incoherent ramblings of Mr. Jessica Simpson. Should you not want to click on the link below, allow me to summarize--Dan O'Brien bad. Danny Graves good. University of Cincinnati bad. Bob "One More Round" Huggins good. Having your own career bad. Piggybacking on your hot wife's career good. Backstreet Boys bad. Frosted tips good. I could go on like this for hours:


Give me my struggling MLB team and dignified fanbase over that inexcusable crap any day of the week.

The Astros are downright Offensive

- Exactly 2 regulars in the Astros' current lineup make outs less than 2 out of every 3 plate appearances. Let that sink in just a little bit. 3B Morgan Ensberg's got an OBP of .370, and Lance Berkman, who's had an astounding 7 extra-base hits in 123 at-bats since returning from "McHale surgery", has an OBP of .345.

Speedster Willy Taveras has a .321 OBP, which is especially crappy for a leadoff hitter, and has 11 extra-base hits in 223 at-bats. Sure he's not a slugger, but with his speed, didn't you expect him to stretch an extra double or triple every couple of games?

Jason Lane's bat has come alive lately, but he's still taken only 12 walks in 195 at-bats and is failing to reach base 70% of the time he comes to the plate.

Despite centuries of expansion and evolution, the English language does not currently possess strong enough descriptive terms to properly illustrate Brad Ausmus' offensive performance (how does a .265 slugging percentage strike you?) BA's a nice guy and, according to my wife looks splendid in his sliding pants, but 4 extra-base hits in 132 at-bats is beyond terrible. When Adam Everett is out-slugging you by 0.124, you should be calling Raul Chavez to see if he needs a roommate. Newly promoted Humberto Quintero had a nice 1-4 to start his Astros career, and selflessly, he's tried to keep from perturbing Senor Ausmus, going hitless in his last 12 at-bats.

Adam Everett - nearing Ausmus-like production (.237/.290/.389). Mike Lamb, the clutch bat off the bench last year, has played his way off of every AL GM's "future DH list" with his .213/.263/.376 splits (yes, those are worse than Everett's numbers). I pined to see more of Chris Burke, and he still deserves to be playing every day when considering the alternatives, but I certainly didn't forsee .179/.216/.253.

Ironically, Baggy's numbers, much maligned at the time of his departure, are considerably better than every hitter on the current roster except for Morgan Ensberg. How many Astros fans would still not like to see him return sooner rather than later to the lineup? Sure, $17 million is too much for his current abilities, but the money has already been spent, and that production, no matter how much it has diminished, would still be outstanding for the 2005 Astros.

- The negative magnitude of the K has been debated heavily in recent months (here's a start), and I'm still somewhat undecided personally. I know that as a fan I feel much more helpless watching my team go down swinging than I do when they're putting it in play, but overall, I've been persuaded that a player is not, by definition, an unproductive hitter because he strikes out a lot (see: Adam Dunn). However, I am prepared to say that a team whose lineup is stacked with hitters who are striking out multiple times for each time they draw a walk is likely going to stink.

Ensberg 32 55
Berkman 18 20
Biggio 13 34
Tavarez 11 39
Lane 12 39
Ausmus 13 20
Everett 13 32
Lamb 10 25
Burke 4 23

That is ugly.

- Some of the fans' usual cries don't hold much water, though, when trying to explain the Astros' offensive futlity. With RISP, they're batting .270 (middle of the pack in MLB), .258 with RISP and 2 outs (12th in MLB). However, the Astros are 3rd to last with the bases loaded (.184 avg) and 3rd to last from the 7th inning on (.229 avg).

The Astros' team SLG is ahead of only Seattle and Oakland (.387), their 53 homers leads only Washington, Seattle and Oakland, and their team OBP is WORST in MLB (.306).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fire Carroll Dawson

According to Mark Berman of Fox 26 (according to Clutch Fans), Scott Padgett, star of the 1997-1998 National Champion Kentucky Wildcats, has opted out of his contract for the 2005-2006 season. If this is true, you can (a) eliminate all consideration of the Rockets as serious NBA Finals contenders in 2005-2006 and (b) consider Carroll Dawson on the hot seat.

OK, I'll attempt to shed a fiber of my bias. Truly, I imagine that Scotty P. has intimate knowledge of the current situation with regard to the labor negotiations, and I would bet that he knows that he's likely to be able to make more money later in the summer (under the prospective new deal) than his current option affords him the opportunity to make. Intelligence is one trait that #35 has that his fellow playas are lacking, not surprisingly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Texans' O-line in Disarray

I didn't mind when the Texans passed on Alex Barron in the 2005 NFL Draft. I'm of the opinion that 1st round draft picks should be spent on skill position players and that O-line guys are best found in later rounds of the draft and in free agency.

However, I'm beginning to lose patience with the Texans. Here we are a month or so out from the start of training camps, and Megan Manfull reports that the Texans are pondering moving Steve McKinney from center to left guard in an effort to shore up the defensive line. Y'know, no matter what order you align Howie, AJ, B-Rock, Kevin and Nick in, they are going to be extremely gay and they are going to collectively comprise a group of no-talent ass clowns. I am able to muster some hope in the fact that the Broncos always have a reliable O-line stocked with no-name guys in a successful, if not legal, scheme, and allegedly the Texans' "new" zone blocking scheme is somewhat similar. And I do believe that another year of practice and games can only serve to improve the cohesiveness of the Texans' line as a whole. Unless that offseason included elementary arithmetic classes for Chester Pitts, I don't care which of the 5 spots he takes up, he's still going to jump offsides at least 4 times a game more than your average farm goat.

I don't think that pursuing guys like LJ Shelton, Ross Verba or Victor Riley is going to necessarily make that big of a difference, either. I believe that the key is going to be in all of the other positions on the offensive side of the ball. Backs have to find holes quicker (read: Dominick Davis) and pick up blitzes quicker. Star wideouts have to have the ball thrown in their directions 20 times a game. Secondary receivers like Gaffney, Armstrong and Bradford have to at least occassionally get open enough to serve as a decoy. And David Carr must continue to improve on his progressions and game management skills.

Just once, I'd like to see Dom Capers or Chris Palmer quoted in the Chronicle discussing any of these "non-line" related ways to decrease the number of times that David Carr eats dirt this fall. Instead, it appears that the idea is to continue attempting to polish or shuffle the current assembly of turds and pray. If I'm David Carr, I'm asking for a new contract before August 1, while I can still sit upright and hold a pencil.

Saban Ain't Goin' to Austin...

Rather, he's just throwing up a de facto "bat signal" to fervent Longhorn and estrangedMiami Dolphin Ricky Williams. Ronnie Brown will be a franchise running back in a few years, but the Era of Ricky isn't over yet. Look for the most (in)famous son of Mack to rush for 1,000 yards this year, be it in Miami or somewhere else.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Saban to the Horns? Mack Brown to D.C. PR firm?

In H-Town Sports' first "scoop", our cybersleuths have discovered a photo of Nick Saban secretly gesturing to Deloss Dodds, apparently communicating his intent to take the head job at UT. While it's not surprising that Saban would send mixed signals to fit his own selfish interests, it is probably going to come as somewhat of a surprise to UT Coach Mack Brown, although most likely, Mack updated his resume several Red River Shootouts ago.

All Systems Gone?

Astros' fans will know by June 30th whether or not this team is worthy of any attention whatsoever, assuming they don't already know the answer to this question. Between tonight and the end of June, the Astros schedule includes 6 games v. the Jays and the O's, in which a split would be nothing of which to be ashamed, followed by 3 at KC, 3 with Texas and 6 versus the Rockies. In that final stretch of 12 games in June, the Astros will be playing crappy-to-mediocre temas and MUST win at least 9 to make up any ground against the .500 mark.

The deeper question is whether or not teasing the rear end of the Wildcard race in late June or early July is good for the long-term health of the organization. Even if they get within shouting distance of the Wildcard race, there will still be at least 7 or 8 teams ahead of the Astros, all of whom are as good or better on paper. I would argue that the Astros of 2006 and beyond would be better served by conceding the 2005 season, letting their youngsters continue to play (and by the way, Scrapper, Viz, Ausmus, Bidge, Palmeiro and Lamb are not 'young') and dealing the Rocket for the best prospects that they can rustle up.

Of course with Uncle Drayton in charge, the most likely scenario is signing Koby Clemens to a $9 million signing bonus and bringing him straight up to the majors, followed by a 3-year, $15 million extension for Bidge.

All Systems Go?

Fresh off a successful road trip (the first all year), your Houston Astros may be on the verge of yet another spirited finish to the season. World Series? Probably not...but don't count out a squad that could feature two hurlers named Wandy and Zeke down the stretch. A .500 record? Maybe so. A couple of weeks ago, .500 was about as likely as Moises Alou using a urinal. But now, a mere 12 games under equilibrium and with momentum on their side, righting the ship doesn't seem nearly as impossible.


Much like the WNBA or OU, the "Ceremonial First Pitch" sucks. I see that I'm going to have to raise the quality of work product tenfold to get this thing off the ground.

Ceremonial First Pitch

This first post is for all of the downtrodden, heroic and pseudo-celebs who have climbed the mound prior to first pitch and unleashed a knuckling lob that bounced 13 times on the way to its final destination, 25 feet left of home plate. We can only hope that this site reflects the same quality as that of a Lee P. Brown heater.