H-Town Sports

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

Friday, February 02, 2007

Someone Please Rip Purpura's Phone Cord Out of the Wall

The longer this offseason lasts, the more Tim Purpura's incompetence continues to destroy the Astros' hopes of a winning season. The latest bold, imbecilic move by the Astros' braintrust is to consider offering minor league contracts to degenerate relievers Ben Weber and Kelly Wunsch. Purpura continues to tug at the heartstrings of the local fan base by chasing local "talent", as Weber is a former UH Coog and Wunsch is an Aggie from Bellaire H.S., but sadly, the geographical connection to the franchise is much stronger than the qualifications of either pitcher to actually perform as a major-league pitcher.

Weber was scintillating in 2005 for Cincinnati, and by 'scintillating', I mean an embarassment to the sport and to his family (8.03 ERA in ten games). He split last season between the Independent League Atlantic City Surf (where one of his pen mates was 60 year old Tony Pierce) and AAA Syracuse (Toronto), where he attempted to battle back from neck problems, possibly the result of either his incredibly unorthodox/painful windup or post-pitch whiplash. Purpura was quite gentle in mentioning that the 37-year-old Weber was "looking to regain his career". Just the guy you want your GM chasing down, eh? Weber's prospects for 2007 make Dan Miceli appear to be an attractive option.

Wunsch was actually once a fairly effective lefty reliever - not Gallo-effective, mind you, but effective in his own, gets-batters-out-on-a-regular-basis kind of way. Last season, however, he was terrible for the Dodgers (8.31 ERA), problems that he'd like to have you believe are the result of shoulder issues, which he'd like to have you believe have been cured by offseason shoulder surgery. Wunsch is a potentially decent guy to stash away at AAA - see if he can regain enough mustard to get the occasional lefty out. Hell, if Trever Miller's slop can mesmerize Adam Dunn, Geoff Jenkins and the like, why not give K-Wuncsh a shot? In the big picture, however, moves like this really only place further hurdles between guys like Nieve, Albers, Patton and Estrada and the major league roster, which by definition makes them idiotic.


Blogger Bouj said...

Someone needs to inform the local general managers, local media, and local sports fans that it is okay to look for talent beyond the local area. Just because someone is "a hometown guy" doesn't mean he should be playing for the Astros/Rockets/Texans.

This seemingly recent phenomenon is best illustrated in the Texans' QB search. There were/are QB prospects beyond Vince Young and Kevin Kolb. It just really grinds my gears that some people (idiot sports-show callers and Richard Justice) think that just because someone played locally or is from the area he should be playing pro here. Expand your world view beyond the borders of the state of Texas.

Sat Feb 03, 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, I'm not an astros apologist, and I think there may be valid reasons to consider Purp incompetent, but I don't think this is one of them. You do an good job summing up the fact that these guys suck, and shouldn't be counted on to do anything, but as for the idea that they're keeping prospects out of the majors, I don't buy that. First off, if Albers and Nieve can't outperform a 37 year old Weber, then I'm not sure they'll ever be good in the majors. And secondly, do you really think the Astros will turn to any of these guys before Sampson, Albers, etc.? I mean, with just a quick google, I found that the 2006 Astros added Dave Borkowski, Joe Valentine, and Steve Kent(all with career ERA's over 5.50) to the Express, and already had Travis Driskill on the RR roster. Brandon Puffer, David Lee, and Roberto Giron(all over 30) were also on the roster. Borkowski was the only one of those to see major league action, as opposed to the 6 rookies that were promoted, and Borks was arguably better than all of those but Sampson and Nieve. In 2005, Houston signed Dave Burba, Turk Wendell, Russ Springer, and John Franco. Burba was sent to RR, pitched marginally well for 35 innings, and was cut in June. Wendell didn't stay past spring training, Franco pitched 15 horrible innings for the Astros and was cut, and Springer did well. So of these, the only one that really hindered the prospects was Franco, and only for 15 innings. Like I said, there are reasons to criticize Purpura, all with varying validity, but signing Kelly Wunsch to a minor league deal just isn't one of them. In fact, if Kelly Wunsch or Ben Weber in any way "destroy the Astros' hopes of a winning season", I will post a comment apologizing profusely for doubting you. :)

Sat Feb 03, 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous the previous anon said...

Damn, I just wrote a huge diatribe about Kelly freaking Wunsch. God I hate the offseason.

Sat Feb 03, 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Anon - I admit that these two signings are not in and of themselves going to prevent the Astros from enjoying a winning season. However, I think moves like this are indicative of the Astros' management's mindsight, which is give preference to re-tread, washed-up players who provide the comfort of being "known quantities", rather than throwing some of their young talent to the fire and working to develop them on the job. The ceilings of guys like Weber and Wunsch are known, and they're so low that the odds of them making the team out of ST are slim, at best. But this is a pattern from the Astros, and don't forget this is the same Astros team who gave Wandy 24 starts in 2006, despite his 1.46 WHIP and 5.53 ERA in 22 starts in 2005. Signing these fluff guys is no big deal as long as the young guys with higher potential get an unobstructed chance to succeed, and that's the part that the Astros have yet to figure out.

Tue Feb 06, 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

Relievers are some of the flightiest players out there. Great one year, brutal the next. That said, taking a microscopic gamble on a couple of old arms is among the least of any team's worries.

Not a big deal.

Sun Feb 11, 05:35:00 PM  

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