Friday, April 9, 2010

Verducci choke slams the Astros

Tom Verducci brings it to the Astros today:

The Houston Astros are the official winners of the title of First Team in Trouble. Could the season have begun any worse for a team that lost 88 games last year and has lost half a million paying customers in two years? The Astros were swept at home by the Giants. How ugly was it? Houston was outscored 18-6, drew only two walks while striking out 22 times, never held a lead, never hit a home run, and lost reliever Sam Gervacio to the disabled list, where he joined first baseman Lance Berkman.

You say it has to get better? You haven't checked their schedule or their roster. Houston plays its next 12 games against the Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs and Marlins, completing a welcome-to-2010 opening sequence of 15 straight games against teams that won between 83 and 93 games last year. Its roster continues to be curiously overloaded with older players for a team that is not a contender. Of the 23 players used in the Giants series, 16 are in their 30s and only two are younger than 27: Chris Johnson and J.R. Towles.

Brad Mills was an inspired choice as manager, a guy who ran an upbeat training camp. But he is being tested already: keep hope and faith alive for a little while longer, at least before schools get out in Houston for the prime drawing weeks when summer hits. Otherwise, as one former Astros coach might put it, it will get late early in Houston.

No, it's not "curious" how much the roster is full of older players. It's just that anybody who takes no more than a cursory glance at the Astros doesn't see that the Astros are full of no-trade clauses (except in the case of Moehler and Blum - which was just a terrible decision.) and Kaz Matsui. Want that "half a million" paying customer loss to double or triple? Then get rid of Berkman and Oswalt. Fair-weather Astros fans may be able to handle losing one or the other, but not both. Add to that the need to just let the contracts play out so that Heck's first two classes can advance, and the Astros won't be doling out contracts to big-name free agents who will clog up the ladder to the Majors.


Ryan Sides said...

Nice take on his article. I agree-- I could handle losing Roy AND Lance to rebuild, but most couldn't.

The Constable. said...

Even with them both in the lineup, I do think the Astros will see attendance in the mid-20K range all season long, except for weekends and holiday homestands - which, oh yeah, MLB has the Astros on the road for Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day.

Jeff said...

The national media really pisses me off when they talk about the stros. No question we suck right now, but you're right: the "experts" never seem to take more than a 2 second view of the organization.

John Royal said...

I'm a fan from way back, and I could stomach a trade of Roy and Lance because I remember the uproar when stellar hall of famers and fan favorites Larry Andersen and Glenn Davis were traded for failed projects like Jeff Bagwell, Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch, and Curt Schilling. Sometimes, what's best for the immediate fanbase must be made secondary to what's good for the team longterm. Oswalt has said he would accept a trade, and if Berkman will accept, then trade them both and see if it's possible to give this team a chance in the future.

Of course, back then, Bill Wood was GM and he was competent. Wade would probably trade them to the Phillies so that he could get Brad Lidge back.

The Constable. said...

John, absolutely. I think most of the hardcore Astros fans would be okay with trading Lee, Oswalt, and Berkman for a cram of prospects within about 15 minutes of each other, because we all see the bigger picture, and the overall health of the organization.

I don't know if I'm a big Ed Wade fan, or a big Ed Wade fan for him getting out of Bobby Heck's way.