Thursday, June 18, 2009

Smiley Rosenthal takes his bi-weekly shot at the Astros

At least Ken is consistent:

Here we go again. The Astros are old. One general manager says they have more below-average players than any team in the NL. But every year people urge Astros owner Drayton McLane to concede. And every year he responds with his familiar cry: "Charge!"

The Astros might own the fourth-worst record in the NL, but they forever see themselves as one winning streak away from contention.

Trading players such as right-hander Roy Oswalt, shortstop Miguel Tejada and closer Jose Valverde could bring the team desperately needed young talent. Yet, McLane has passed on such opportunities numerous times before.

The difference this season is that the Astros probably lack the financial flexibility to make a significant addition, the way they did last year with left-hander Randy Wolf. The team cut payroll last offseason, prompting the departures of Wolf and third baseman Ty Wigginton. Its attendance decline, one of the largest in the majors, will further inhibit GM Ed Wade.

A note on the Astros attendance:
So far in 2009, the Astros have "officially" brought in 987,848 fans in 34 games. That's an average of 29,054 fans/game.
In 2008, through 34 home games, the Astros brought in 1,222,323 fans, averaging 35,590 fans/game.

This isn't all the Astros' fault. The team had some scheduling advantages through the first 34 home games in 2008 that the 2009 team has not enjoyed. Namely, three games at home vs the Yankees. In 2008, the Astros got a Memorial Day weekend series against the Phillies that brought in 41,000+ in each of the three games.

This year, the Astros were on the road over Memorial Day weekend. And, of course, there are no Yankees in Houston this season. And the Astros have not yet played the Cardinals at home. So while I'm willing to admit that a -19% drop in attendance to date from 2008 to 2009 is alarming, I'm not willing to admit that it won't get a little closer - maybe not much - to zero.

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