It's time for a little optimism. What did Easy Eddie give us for Christmas this year?
Let's give it to Eddie. Maybe Cecil Cooper, too. God bless him/them, they stuck with Bourn in CF, and he responded with a +.150 in OPS from 2008 to 2009. Add 61 stolen bases and his first Gold Glove award, and there is reason for optimism. At least with 2/3 of the outfield.
So this whole "drafting" thing does work! The 24-year old Norris was 12-25 in his minor-league career, with a 3.67 ERA/1.32 WHIP. So to come out and go 6-3, including his debut (to which I listened) that made a 12-0 loss to the Cubs (thank you, Mike Hampton, for being so awful at Wrigley that it brought in The Troof, memorable. With Norris' spot in the rotation slotted at #3 at best, and #5 at worst, I'm actually going to keep this blog alive.
It was a gamble. A big gamble. And yet, when Pudge hit .251 over 93 games (and it never seemed like his BA was that high), a full-fledged releasing was in order. But to turn around and spin Rodriguez for not one, but two prospects, in Matt Nevarez and Jose Vallejo was like alchemy.
He only pitched in 29 games in 2009, and 21IP. But 25K:8BB just warms my heart. And in those 29 games, he only allowed a run in four of those games. Drafting him as a 17-year old in 2002 is now paying off. Let's just be thankful that he wasn't traded for Tejada.
The Dodgers left him unprotected, where in two seasons with High-A Inland Empire, he had posted OPS's of .737 and .841, respectively. So the Astros selected him in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft, and Locke dominated Double-A, hitting .338/.389/.581, with 84 strikeouts in 558 PAs. He'll be in Round Rock in 2010, looking at a September Call-up (that is, if Eddie believes in them).
Heck has had two drafts with which to work, and has seemingly turned around a farm system which Tim Purpura laid as bare as a centerfold. 2010 will bring us a top-10 pick and, if/when Valverde signs somewhere else, a sandwich pick. This will boost a team that should financially be able to compete in 2013/2014. And hope, however fleeting, is the best Christmas gift of all...