Thursday, August 27, 2009

Justice gives the Astros the $.44 for postage

(Because they're mailing it in).

Here's a list of the quitters
1. The team on Cooper
2. The team on each other

It's not just that the Astros are playing out the string when there's still so much string left. It's not just that they're near the bottom of the National League in pitching, hitting, baserunning, etc. It's not just that they're buried in the standings despite one of baseball's highest payrolls.

All those things tell you that the people in charge have screwed up the franchise. Some of the problems developed over a long period of time. Some of them were bad decisions last off-season. Regardless, the Astros are a mess, and until the people in charge admit there's a mess, they're unlikely to get better...

... The Astros were 1.5 games out of first place on July 24. They'd won 31 of 48, and some of us believed they might just be good enough to win a mediocre division. Their starting pitching had been terrific and they'd developed a knack for getting a key hit at the right time. In ways large and small, they appeared to be a good team.

Two things have happened since then. One is that the St. Louis Cardinals were transformed by the acquisition of three-time All-Star Matt Holliday. They're 22-8 since, and with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter at the front of the rotation, the Cardinals have emerged as the National League's best team. They've blown away the competition in the NL Central, opening up the largest division lead in baseball.

The other is that the Astros have gone in the tank. They've gone 11-19 and fallen to 12 games out of first. They're scoring just 3.9 runs per game in this stretch, and their ERA is 5.61. Miguel Tejada is hitting .227 since then, Hunter Pence .231, Kaz Matsui .206. Pudge Rodriguez had stopped hitting when he was shown the door. Brian Moehler (1-4, 6.00), Mike Hampton (1-3, 8.47) and Oswalt himself (1-1, 4.91) haven't pitched well...

...Now it's too late. Now we're playing out the string and all the professionalism that carried them through the bad managing and bad management is being tested.