H-Town Sports

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

Monday, July 10, 2006

What Can Be Done?

It's safe to say that this guy, whoever he is, fares quite badly with the ladies these days. But what if I told you that during each of the past two summers, he was seen frequenting Hef's mansion, frolicking with bombshell blondes and brunettes on each shoulder, going through vials of Viagra like they were grape Nerds? Seems impossible, right? There's NO WAY this guy was a first-class Don Juan as recently as last year!

The Astros are to baseball what this man is to sex appeal, if you follow my premise that this guy was a World Class Love Machine in 2005. Looking at their current situation makes it quite difficult to believe that they are capable of doing wonderful things, but they did in fact do so mere months ago. For this guy, whose age appears to be ascending quite rapidly, Father Time is not on his side. Odds are, he's not going to be around to see Dakota Fanning on the cover of Playboy. But, with immediate, concentrated maneuvering, he can return to glory, if only for a short while. Similarly, the Astros as currently comprised are unlikely to be making deep postseason runs several years from now. But as abysmal as their play was this past weekend against St. Louis, we at H-Town Sports believe that they can be shined up just enough to float to the top of the comode that is the NL Central. Get your pen and paper out, Timmy P. We're setting our vast egos aside as well as our infuriation that we are not currently serving as co-GMs of the Houston Astros, though clearly we have had exponentially more brilliant ideas pertaining to the 2006 Astros than you have thus far this season. Here's where you start:

1. Mike Lamb is the new everyday third baseman. As previously mentioned on this very site, Morgan Ensberg should be dangled as trade bait. In the event that comparable value cannot be obtained for his services, Mo's shoulder allegedly hurts, but he is trying to be manly and play through the pain. Buy a pack of gold stickers from Walgreen's, pin one on his chest in front of the entire team with a valiant war march playing over the loudspeaker, and then place him on the 15-day DL. Lamb has hit the cover off of the baseball, and defensively, Morgan Ensberg is not to third base what Adam Everett is to shortstop such that his impotent bat can be forgiven. Plugging Lamb in at first base would be preferable, but risking injury to NL MVP candidate Lance Berkman by forcing him to play right field is not worth it.

2. Demote Wandy Rodriguez to Round Rock, and move Jason Hirsh into the rotation. This move is so obvious that it hurts. Front offices around the league must laugh themselves silly when they see that the Astros continue to insist on running Soft Tossing Sandy out every fifth day while their #1 pitching prospect continues to make mincemeat out of AAA hitters. Maybe Wendy can be converted into a LOOGY or a fifth starter, but he has pitched absolutely terribly for the last two months, and sadly, the numbers that he has posted in those two months are comparable to his career averages. As Tim pointed out to me earlier today, the Indians are out of the race, and they may be willing to sell Bob Wickman for parts. They've shown an affection in the past for left-handed soft tossers whose records were far better than their talents provide. Send Chief Wahoo our regards, Senor Cold Sore.

3. Move Brandon Backe into the bullpen upon activation from DL, waive Mike Gallo. My understanding of the rules is that once The Pride of Galveston is ready to be activated from the 60-day DL, he must be included on the 40-man roster again. According to my count, a player will need to come off of the current 40-man to make room for him. That's simple enough. Release the worst pitcher in professional baseball. Take Backe's intensity and have Hickey & Co. teach him to bottle it up for an inning or two a night. The odds of him becoming a consistent top-of-the-rotation starter at age 28 are slim-to-none, but he may very well become a dominant relief pitcher immediately. You have starting pitching in abundance, and you need help in the pen. It makes perfect sense. As such, this move certainly won't materialize, but it should.

4. Make Nieve your 7th inning guy, Qualls your 8th inning guy and keep Lidge as closer. Chad Qualls has given up some big hits, like in Chicago against the White Sox (again), but his numbers are really quite good (3.51 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .238 OAA). His control has been questionable, but that's in large part due to the incredible movement on his sinker. Wheeler's never had the stuff that Qualls has, and his numbers are much worse than those from 2004 and 2005. He also appears much more shellshocked. Give the guy a break. Use him in more Springer-like settings in the hopes that less pressure will allow him to return to his 2005 form. Nieve has outstanding stuff and could potentially be very effective in short bursts. Use him more frequently with the strict instruction that he keeps his pitches at the knees. As for Lidge, as Tim wrote earlier today, no one was more outstanding for Houston the past two seasons, and as such, no one should get a longer leash than Brad Lidge. There's no one better suited for the closer role right now than Lidge. Tell Jim Hickey that his job in 2007 is contingent upon Brad Lidge returning to his 2005 form. Hickey's ridden a pretty sweet horse thanks to the Rocket, Roy O and Andy Pettitte, and it's high time that he earns his paycheck for a change.

5. Bring up Luke Scott, designate Orlando Palmeiro. OP sure appears feisty when he checks in to pinch-hit. Choking up on the bat, nice compact swing, a couple of pesky foul-offs. The problem is quite simple, really: the results of these scrappy at-bats are horrendous. His OPS for the season is .553, and it's even worse (.435) as a pinch-hitter. He has absolutely no pop (zero HR), and it's not really his fault; he is, after all, 37 years old. Luke Scott probably won't become a long-term answer in the starting outfield, but he's unquestionably a better option than Palmeiro, no matter the situation in question. Jason Lane does have a .904 OPS against LHP this season, so simply platoon these two guys in RF everyday. It cannot possibly be any worse than your current alignment.

6. Install Jailen Peguero as the closer at Round Rock immediately. Travis Driskill may be a nice guy, but he has as much of a future on the Astros' active roster as yours truly. Jailen Peguero, on the other hand, posted a 0.70 ERA as the Hooks' closer (with 14 saves) and has pitched effectively in his first four outings at AAA. Make him the closer for the Express immediately, and if he pitches well there for about a month, point him towards Highway 71 East and get him a jersey.

7. (If options available) Demote Wily Taveras, promote Chris Sampson. Taveras' OBP is .307, and his SLG is .308. While he has taken more walks so far this season than he was taking in 2005, he still needs a TON of work offensively. Send him down to AAA, where they are currently housing a bunch of non-prospect, AAAA-type journemen, and put him in CF leading off every single day. Work with him extensively on his plate discipline and on making contact, including the drag bunt. He should not be given up on at all (he's still only 24 years old), but he is not going to reach his potential wasting away on the bench in Houston. Sampson showed the ability to throw strikes and induce groundballs, which could render him a valuable long relief/spot starting tool for Phil Garner. This move is contingent upon Willy T having options available, something which I have been unable to verify so far online.


Blogger Tim said...

T-Poo has the next couple of days off, so there's no excuse for him not to implement our version of the Marshall Plan. Something has to be done.

Mon Jul 10, 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bert said...

When I first saw that picture I thought someone was going to sue David Hasselhoff for $5 and a Twix bar for “defamation and permanent injury and emotional pain and suffering". See link below:

Mon Jul 10, 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Bosquez said...

Hasselhoff's signing with the Astros - that rocks, I loved this guy at the MTV Music Awards:


Tue Jul 11, 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Scott, where in your list was the one about trading away your best SS and a quality arm for another 1B/3B/OF? I find your analysis to be woefully deficient.

Thu Jul 13, 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Let's see...one game into the Huff Era, and Lamb's on the bench, Lane's in Round Rock, Backe's in the rotation and Wandy's still on the 25-man roster. I'd give T-Poo a D-minus.

Fri Jul 14, 03:51:00 PM  

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