H-Town Sports

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In a Glass Case of Emotion

In the absence of it all being some sort of elaborate smokescreen designed to trick the rest of the league while driving me to an early grave or substance abuse, the Texans will NOT be selecting native son Vince Young in Saturday's draft:


I believe my feelings on this decision have been made abundantly clear in previous posts, so I won't belabor them here. Instead, I'm just going to start drinking heavily and sobbing. The organization's decision is all the more disturbing after the lengths VY's supporters have gone to plead logic with the Texans:


My favorite part of this story? Houston icon Mattress Mack comparing VY to the Son of God. Struck a bit of a cord with me for some reason...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Rooster Watch

Mike Gallo's line from yesterday's game:

0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 11.25 ERA.

Specifically, he gave up a bomb to noted slugger (and ninth in the order) Freddy Sanchez and a sharp single to Jack Wilson. You would think that after two-plus years of this sort of output, management would've figured out the undeniable fact that Mike Gallo cannot get anyone out. Ever.

Friday, April 21, 2006

[ESPN Insider] Jets-Texans draft-day trade

Todd McShay of Scouts, Inc. and ESPN Insider fame writes in his column today (subscription required) that the Jets are trying hard to move up to the top of the draft board so that they can make a "splash" by selecting Reggie Bush. I have personally advocated the trade of the #1 overall pick by the Texans since Day One, and I still do. Once Kubiak made the decision to keep David Carr as the starting QB, which is a decision whose accuracy will not be known for three or four more seasons, their most productive 2006 draft option has clearly been to gather additional high draft picks, if possible. Neither the Saints nor the Titans are apparently interested in Bush, and trading down below #4 in the first round would not afford the Texans the opportunity to draft either OL D'Brickashaw Ferguson or DL Mario Williams, either of whom would fill a tremendous void on the Texans roster. Therefore, the Jets seem to be the Texans' best bet for a draft partner.

McShay suggests that a potential deal could involve the Texans sending the Jets the #1 overall pick in return for the Jets two first-round picks (#4 and #29), their second-round pick (#35 overall) and one of their fourth-round picks (#103 overall). Since the Jets have seven picks in the first four rounds, they could potentially afford to deal a handful of picks to get their man, should they so desire.

If this deal is proposed to the Texans, accepting it should be a no-brainer. No matter how talented Bush is, there is no way that a 2-14 team who is trying to build from scratch (again) and who already has a more-than-serviceable RB signed to a long-term contract can pass on an opportunity to add either a franchise OT or a freakish pass rusher, both of whom could be a #1 pick overall in another year, while simultaneously adding three additional high-level draft picks to their stash. Make the deal, Charley!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Operation Shutdown is now Operation Lockdown

Derek Bell, yes THIS Derek Bell, no longer has to worry about competition for a starting right-field spot in the major leagues, but he is apparently going to have to worry about protecting his cornhole from unwanted intruders. One of the biggest jokes per dollar in big league history is now apparently a crackhead. Couldn't have happened to a better guy. My guess is that like most victimized professional athletes, D-Bell was most likely just hiding the paraphanelia from his recovering relative.

Early look at Rockets' offseason

The Rockets' (remember them?) sewed up either the 8th or 9th spot in the 2006 NBA Draft Lottery by losing to the Spurs Wednesday night. Assuming they end up in either the 8th or 9th spot in the draft, who are some guys that they might consider selecting? One would hope that shooting guard and power forward would be the positions of primary focus this offseason. According to my interpretation of the current roster's contract situation, David Wesley, Keith Bogans, Maicej Lampe, Rick Brunson, Richie Frahm and Chuck Hayes will all be off the books after the season. Personally, I think Wesley would be great to have as a backup SG/defensive stopper in a reduced role for 2007. I also would like to see Bogans and Hayes back (in my completely unbiased opinion). That would leave the depth chart as follows:

PG: Alston, Sura, Spanoulis
SG: _________, Wesley, Head
SF: McGrady, Bogans
PF: Howard, Swift, Hayes
C: Ming, Mutombo

Clearly, backup PG and back up C appear to be need positions as well, more likely to be filled in free agency than in the draft. Don't forget about Vassilis Spanoulis, a 24 year-old Greek point guard who will likely get an extended look in summer league play.

In the draft, Brandon Roy would be certainly able to make an instant impact, but I think that Arkansas junior Ronnie Brewer would be the best pick at the shooting guard spot. Brewer is not quite the scorer that Roy is, but Brewer is much more athletic than Roy, a much better defender than Roy and is a better passer/playmaker than Roy. If you can find a sharpshooter to spread the floor either in free agency or in the second round, then I like Brewer with the first round pick.

At the power forward spot, Tyrus Thomas and LaMarcus Aldridge will likely go in the top 5. I always felt that Shelden Williams was overrated at Duke, a solid big man but not a first-team All American caliber player. That said, I think he would be a perfect fit for the Rockets. He is physical and would present a solid presence in the paint, complementing Yao and Juwan Howard nicely. I hesitate simply because #8 overall seems awfully high, but I think he could be a Charles Oakley-type player in the NBA.

Some guys likely destined for the second-round that should pique the interest of Caroll Dawson & Friends include Gerry McNamara, Quincy Douby of Rutgers, Denham Brown of UConn, Steve Novak of Marquette, J. P. Batista of Gonzaga and Roy Hibbert of Georgetown.

Bring Back Charlie Kerfeld!

Despite the team's blistering 10-5 start, Astros fans are a wee bit worried at this point of the young season. And it's not the typical hand-wringing over a complete lack of offense this time, as the 'Stros are putting runs up and collecting clutch hits in a manner usually reserved for the postseason. No, this year it's the once formidable bullpen that has us reaching for the Pepto.

By now, we're innoculated against the horror of Mike Gallo's 9.82 ERA. Or at least I am, because I grab the closest bottle of Drano every time he enters a game. Speaking of Gallo, it appears that he's corrupted fellow "lefty specialist" Trever Miller. After posting a sublime 12.27 ERA in seven appearances, Miller went on the DL today. I'm convinced this is part of Gallo's sinister plan to ensure that he is once again the only left-handed option out of the bullpen. As it seems "lefty specialist" on the Houston Astros may be the only job in the entire world that has absolutely zero accountability, I've decided that I am going to tie my firstborn's right arm behind his or her back for the first ten years of his/her existence in a brilliant attempt to garner a life of privilege for my family. But I digress.

Chad Qualls' 9.35 ERA, however, is another story. Qualls looked like he had the stuff to be the next great closer last season, but this year he's been hit hard in his eight appearances. With the influx of young arms in the starting rotation, Qualls will be counted on to pitch the seventh inning most nights; if he doesn't get it together, he'll singlehandedly offset the offense. Lights Out Lidge is sporting a 3.12 ERA and five saves in eight games, but his location doesn't seem to be as sharp as it was last year, much to the delight of all those sportswriters who started a cottage industry of "Has he lost it?" reports after last year's NLCS. The only semi-bright spot in the pen has been Dan Wheeler; he appears to have retained most of last year's mojo and remains a good option for the eighth inning. But Wheels can't do it alone. If the 'Stros have designs on the playoffs, the bullpen is going to have to come around.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mario Williams? Seriously?

Rumors abound around H-town and the NFL that the Texans are seriously considering taking N.C. State DE Mario Williams with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. In a related story, I've been plagued with crushing migraines since rumors that the Texans are seriously considering taking N.C. State DE Mario Williams with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft began popping up.

Charley...Gary...Bobby...have you all lost your freaking minds? Mario Williams with the first pick in the draft? I understand the guy is allegedly the greatest thing since Julius Peppers, but c'mon. This has to be some sort of bluff, right? You're not really thinking of passing up Reggie Bush, Vince Young, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and/or (most importantly) more draft picks to take Mario Williams first overall, are you? I applaud the notion of utilizing stern negotiating tactics to show Bush's (or anyone else's) agent that you mean business, but I'm nauseous about the prospect of you blowing this pick.

Don't get me wrong. Mario Williams would look great in the steel blue, red, and white. But not with the first pick in the entire freaking draft! If you're sold on him being your guy, I get it. But surely you could trade down a spot or two, pick up a couple of draft choices, and still take him? For the sake of the City of Houston, I pray that I don't hear "With the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select Mario Williams, defensive end from N.C. State" on April 29th. The entire city would go into a collective shock not seen since Pujols went yard off of Lidge last fall.

Potential Trade Partner for the Texans?

ESPN.com is reporting that the Denver Broncos have dealt the 22nd pick in the 1st round to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for their 2nd and 3rd round picks in this year's draft. While SF head coach Mike Nolan is quoted in the same report as saying that the Niners "need starters", not just "depth", one wonders if the Texans would take the #6 and #22 picks in this year's first round, and say, and a 2nd round pick in 2007 for the #1 pick overall. Using the Draft Pick Value Chart provided by ESPN.com, that combination would work out pretty evenly assuming the Niners have one of the top three or four picks in 2007, which is a fair assumption. Maybe #6 is too far for the Texans to slide if they want to get Mario Williams or D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Along the same lines, the Jets have the #4 and the #29 in this year's first round. Reggie Bush, anyone?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

You be the Judge

Friday, April 14, 2006

Backe's Injury a Positive in the Clemens Derby?

Although the initial reaction to Brandon Backe's "sprained elbow" yesterday was obviously unadulterated terror for any Astros fan, I'm beginning to think this could become a positive in Roger Clemens' decision to remain retired. Think about it: The team's No. 3 starter goes down, leaving a rotation of Oswalt, Pettitte, Rodriguez, Buchholtz, and either Nieve or Hirsh. Assuming the 'Stros continue to put up runs and stay respectable in the win column, wouldn't it make Clemens look all the more like the conquering hero returning to help the hometown team in their hour of need? It seems like a perfect excuse for the Rocket to be "jolted" out of retirement.

On a slightly more selfish note, my success in fantasy baseball also demands Clemens return as soon as possible. I just traded Preston Wilson for Roger Clemens yesterday on the basis of my gut telling me the Rocket will be rocking Minute Maid by June. As I think that Wilson will be good for at least 30 HRs this year, my bold move has a great chance of being the most one-sided trade since Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

John Lopez Despises Logic

As I wrote a few days ago, it now seems fairly certain that the Texans will draft Reggie Bush with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Before I begin this rant, allow me to say that I am not anti-Bush. I think he'll be a regular on SportsCenter. Do I think he'll be an All-Pro RB in the NFL? I sure hope so, but I don't know. Just like I don't know that Vince Young will duplicate his success at Texas in the NFL. For anyone to say that any prospect is a "sure thing" is ludicrous. The NFL is littered with "can't miss" prospects who turned out to be busts. Ryan Leaf? Tony Mandarich? Ki-jana Carter? Rick Mirer? Tim Couch? They were all once "sure things." But at its crux, any draft is little more than an educated guess. You gather as much information as possible and make what you hope is an informed decision. No one has a crystal ball. No prospect is without risk.

Yet despite the inherently speculative nature of the draft process and the rich history of "can't miss" prospects turning out to be flops, we can always count on people to assure us that Prospect X is bulletproof. In the latest local installment of this illogical practice, the Houston Chronicle brings you John P. Lopez:


Lopez's basic position is that Reggie Bush is without a single flaw in his game or personality. That's right, Houston--he's perfect. According to Lopez, NFL folks have found absolutely nothing wrong with Reggie Bush's game. Nothing. This is patently absurd on several base levels. Every player, even "Jesus in Cleats," has flaws in his game. VY, who I obviously hold in rather high regard, makes the occasional ill-advised pass into coverage. Just like any player, VY makes the wrong decision now and then. To base an entire column on the premise that any athlete is perfect is asinine.

Indeed, I seem to recall an infamous lateral in a game of some consequence for which Reggie was widely criticized. Was that a flaw in his game? Perhaps a bad decision at a bad time? I haven't had the pleasure of speaking to Reggie Bush, but I'd be willing to bet that he would readily state that the lateral was a mistake. A flawed decision, if you will.

As ridiculous as the "perfection argument" might be, Lopez's nonsensical assertion that Reggie Bush benchpressing 225 pounds 24 times answers all questions about his durability might trump it. Zuh? What does one have to do with the other? How do 24 reps demonstrate that someone will withstand the pounding of 300 pound lineman and 250 pound linebackers throughout a 16 game season? All it shows is that Reggie Bush is a great athlete, which I can't imagine anyone ever doubted. It doesn't mean that his body won't wear down after getting shocked by multiple behemoths every Sunday. Once again, the dots just don't connect.

Look, I'm looking forward to having Reggie Bush in a Texans uniform. I think he'll be an exciting addition to a team sorely in need of excitement and offensive firepower. While I still think Bob McNair will live to regret passing on the hometown boy, I can appreciate the decision to go with Reggie. What I can't condone is John Lopez wasting my time trying to prove the impossible and inventing a brand of logic (henceforth known as "Lopezgic") to get from A to Z.

Series Preview: Nationals v. Astros

This weekend's series at Minute Maid Park with the Nats should be very interesting. The Nationals and Astros are quite similar in that both teams will likely be carried as far as their pitching can take them because the respective offenses are not very productive.

Tonight's opening game pits Tony Armas, Jr. against Brandon Backe. Backe was horrendous in the spring and is fighting some nagging injury problems. Armas has annually been a "breakout" contender, but arm and shoulder problems have hindered his development. The Big Puma is 5-8 with 2 HR lifetime against Armas, and Preston Wilson is 6-17 with a HR as well. On the contrary, Biggio is hitless in 12 at-bats against Armas and Ensberg is 0-5 lifetime.
Prediction: Nats 7, Astros 3

Saturday's matchup is a marquee one: Livan Hernandez v. Roy Oswalt. Expect both pitchers to go late into the night with the Astros coming out on top thanks to Roy O. Several Astros have solid histories against Livan: Bidge (13-33), Lamb (5-14) and Preston Wilson (8-20). Serious Golden Sombrero potential for Alfonso Soriano, who is 1-14 lifetime against the Wizard. Prediction: Astros 3, Nats 1

Sunday's matinee pits Ryan Drese against Andy Pettitte. Drese has been bothered by the injury bug, and AP was beaten like a drum by the mighty Fish on Tuesday night. Look for Pettitte to bounce back in impressive fashion in a relatively easy Astros win. Jason Lane has five hits in six tries against Drese, while Berkman is 6-12. Christian Guzman will not be rushing to get off of the DL Sunday, as he is 4-27 against Pettitte with 13 K's.
Prediction: Astros 5, Nats 1

Monday's businessman's special has John Patterson facing Wandy Rodriguez. Patterson was flat-out nasty in 2005 and has a history of success against Houston. Wandy is inconsistent at best, and the Nats should take out 48 hours of frustration on him Monday afternoon. Patterson has had some trouble with a couple of Astros: Preston Wilson (4-7 with a HR) and Morgan Ensberg (3-5 with 2 HR).
Prediction: Nats 6, Astros 2

Opening Night down on the farm

The AAA Round Rock Express defeated the New Orleans Zephyrs 5-4 on opening night in Louisiana Thursday night. The Astros AAA roster is full of non-prospects (again), but of guys who may seriously contribute to the big league club's sucess in the future, Luke Scott hit a solo HR, Charlton Jimerson went 1-4 with 2 K's from the leadoff spot and Jason Hirsh made his AAA debut, throwing 4+ innings, allowing only 2 hits and 1 earned run while walking 3 and whiffing 5.

AA Corpus Christi also opened their season on Thursday night, losing 4-3 in San Antonio. Hooks' C and ex-WVU QB J. R. House hit a solo HR and SP Juan Gutierrez had a nice start, allowing only 1 run and whiffing 6 in 4 innings of work.

In High-A ball, Salem beat Potomac 4-3 on opening night in dramatic fashion as C Lou Santangelo hit a 2-out bases loaded double in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Beau Torbert had three hits and Jimmy Barthmeier had a spectacular start, allowing but three hits and a single run while striking out nine over five-plus innings.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Silver Lining

I know some might have trouble finding any positives from last night's 11-2 shellacking, but I've managed to find one. Look on the bright side, Houston. Gallo didn't cost the 'Stros this game. He didn't even get in. That's all I can hold on to right now. If I actually allowed myself to think about the potential doom that could befall the 'Stros when their No. 2 starter gives up 13 hits to a team widely predicted to be the worst in all of baseball, I wouldn't be able to function.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

[CBS Sportsline] Aldridge a goner

In yet another follow-up, CBS annoyance Gregg Doyel reports that Lamarcus Aldridge "has spoken with coach Rick Barnes about entering the NBA Draft" and "is making inquiries about agents." I do not really understand the benefit of guys like Aldridge and Rajon Rondo commiting to an agent so early in the process. It is my understanding that the NBA has set up a deal where plenty of credible scouts and sources are available for potential draft entrants to use as references so that they do not have to sever all ties to their amateur status.

As Chad Ford says in his ESPN blog today, Rondo's inability to make a shot without having his hand in the cylinder makes his draft stock "volatile", at best. Ford does have Aldridge listed as the #3 player overall on his "Big Board" and has Rondo listed as the #2 overall point guard behind UConn's Marcus Williams, but Rondo could sure use another year or two to discover a jump shot and Aldridge, though clearly a tremendous talent, is still extremely raw fundamentally. It just seems like, especially in Aldridge's case, he'd be smart to "test the water" sans agent. What does he have to lose?

[ESPN] Moulds a Texan

ESPN's John Clayton reports that Eric Moulds is officially a Texan. No "terms" have been disclosed, of course, which is the only item that has been truly uncertain for at least a week, as Moulds and the Texans had already publicly acknowledged that they had agreed upon a contract. As mentioned previously, whether the Texans part with a 4th or a 5th round draft pick is a rather significant "term". If only I could perform my job in the half-ass way that Clayton and his ilk do, "breaking" stories minus the most important details. Sure would allow me much more time for blogging.

Moulds seems thrilled to line up next to Andre Johnson, and I'll be the first of many to say that I'm thrilled to know that he's thrilled. Replacing Bradford with Moulds is a fantastic upgrade at the #2 WR spot for Houston. Signings like Moulds, Putzier, Weaver, Cowart and Flanagan allow Casserly & Company to now focus on pursuing that magical "best player available" with each of their top draft picks on April 29, which is quite impressive considering the terrific amount of water that the U.S.S. Texan was taking on at the end of the regular season. I've always had the feeling that Capers convinced McNair that his way of building a team was the best way, limiting Casserly's options as a GM. Maybe that's true and maybe it's not, but whoever is making these decisions is certainly doing a quality job.

Have to Get This Off My Chest

As the public has been inundated with Joakim Noah for the past few weeks (did you know that his dad was a professional tennis player or that his mom is a beauty queen from Sweden or that he gets compared to Sideshow Bob because of his hair or that the ESPN college basketball crew wants to have his children?), I have one request...

Dear Media-

Please cease and desist with all of the "Joakim Noah yelling" pictures and videos. I cannot remember anyone being photographed in a more tired pose. I used to be rather ambivalent about Mr. Noah, but the repeated images of Noah yelling/screaming/bellowing/shouting/etc. have turned me against him. I now hate him for no other reason than the fact that I'm fed up with seeing him in a constant state of elevated blood pressure. Stop encouraging him already. Thanks in advance for your time and cooperation.


One Down, One Hundred Sixty-One to Go

A few observations from last night's thrilling Opening Day victory:

1. The crowd's reception of Bagwell was awesome. The fans have been pretty rough on him for the past few years as his body has broken down, but the fact remains that he and Bidge have been the faces of the Houston franchise for most of my life. It was nice to see that the vast majority of 'Stros fans understand what he's meant to the organization.

2. Roy O is filthy. He should be illegal in this country without a prescription, but available for purchase over the counter in Mexico.

3. Preston Wilson looked overmatched. I think it was probably just a combination of nerves and Dontrelle Willis, but he's got a long way to go to justify my bold prediction that he will be the best free agent signing in all of MLB.

4. Lidge didn't look very sharp, but he got the job done. That strikeout of Miggy was monstrous, and the game-ending DP was beautiful. With the media's "has he lost it" schtick fresh in his mind, I imagine he was a bit more keyed up than usual out there. Nevertheless, he got the save, and that's all that counts.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bush to Texans--Now a Foregone Conclusion?

As expected, Reggie Bush put on a show yesterday at USC's Pro Day:


I'm not the biggest numbers guy in the world (or even on this site), but a 4.33 40 is freaking ridiculous by any standard. While I will forever remain a VY disciple, it seems like it's all over but the crying. Bush is scheduled to be in H-town on Thursday to visit with Bob McNair and the rest of the Texans' brass. Although Jesus in Cleats will be stopping by Reliant on Friday, I fully expect word to become official next week that Bush is the Texans' guy. Start printing up the steel blue, red, and white Bush jerseys, NFL.

Personally, my only hope is that the Titans take Leinart with the third pick. The thought of Vince playing for the Oilers is too much for my soul to comprehend. It would break me in two.

It's Opening Day!

The likely lineups for "Scrap Iron" Garner and "I Sure Wish Someone Would Have Told Me That They Were Going to Gut This Team Before I Took the Managerial Job Here" Girardi (parenthetical numbers represent historical performance vs. opposing starting pitcher):

Hanley Ramirez - SS
Jeremy Heredia - RF
Miguel Cabrera - 3B (1-3)
Mike Jacobs - 1B
Josh Willingham - LF
Dan Uggla - 2B
Reggie Abercrombie - CF
Miguel Olivo - C (0-2)
Dontrelle Willis - P (0-2)

Craig Biggio - 2B (2-12)
Willy Taveras - CF (0-7)
Lance Berkman - 1B (4-13, 3 RBI)
Morgan Ensberg - 3B ( 2-10)
Preston Wilson - LF (4-10, 1 HR)
Jason Lane - RF (1-8, 1 HR)
Brad Ausmus - C (4-8)
Adam Everett - SS (4-11, 1 HR)
Roy Oswalt - P (0-2)

The remarkably consistent Roy O. has been stellar in April throughout his career, posting a 10-7 record, 3.08 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and .239 avg against. As good as Oswalt has been, D-Train has been even better: 8-0, 1.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and .213 avg against. Willis is 3-1 lifetime v. the Astros with two complete games in four starts and a 3.00 ERA, while Oswalt is 2-2 lifetime v. the Fish with a 2.52 ERA.

Prediction: Preston Wilson does his best 2005 Joe Randa Opening Day imitation, hitting a solo HR in the 9th to lead the Astros to a 1-0 victory.