Jayson Stark's new column talks about how overblown the attendance decrease is across MLB to this point in the season. But there's no mistaking average attendance is down at Minute Maid Park, and as Stark points out, the Astros are drawing 29,508 customers per game, down 3,881 from 2008 (-11.7%)
Yes, attendance is down, but let's look at the attendance per home series:
Series 1 vs. Cubs (including 43,827 for OD09): 34,998
Series 2 vs. Reds: 28,772
Series 3 vs. Dodgers: 26,388
Series 4 vs. Brewers: 28,120
The Astros have drawn 30,000+ fans three times since that opening series: Friday/Saturday games against the Reds and Saturday against the Brewers.
UPDATE: Stark also points out that the Marlins may be in search of a back-of-the-bullpen type of pitcher if they can keep within striking distance of the NL East lead. Among many possible matches for what the Marlins hope to accomplish with this, Stark puts Valverde and LaHawk squarely on the block.
Valverde comes off the books next year, and I think if the Astros were going to sign him to a multi-year deal, it would have been last year. That said, they did not. Same thing with LaHawk. He's owed $3.5 million this year and is not under contract beyond 2009. So with both of these pitchers, let's say the Astros trade both of them - which they will not do - we're looking at getting at least two prospects in return for rent-a-pitchers, and for once, I think the Astros should end up on the right end of a rent-a-player. I'm looking at you, Randy Johnson. And I'm definitely looking at you, Carlos Beltran.