Archive for February, 2009

Brad James goes all Chuck Knoblauch on us.

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

Alyson Footer had a piece the other day about Brad James catching a case of the “yips,” also known as “Steve Blass Disease.”  Turns out he was scared he would hit one of his own teammates, then he started thinking too much, and then he hit Humberto Quintero.  He started throwing away from the hitter instead of pitching to the catcher.  

This might just be a little thing he goes through, but I see this having huge potential for disaster.  If the Astros’ top pitching prospect is battling his own thoughts, doubts, insecurities like this, look out.  He is the next Jason Lane.  Lane’s potential was never realized because he was so scared of failure.  He kept trying not to mess up, and when you do that, you start to mess up, and on comes the vicious circle.  

Footer quoted Cecil Cooper as saying: “We know he’s got a lot of ability. Sometimes he’s doubting himself a little bit, not feeling good about himself. We’re talking to him, trying to work through it.”  

They had better keep it light and be careful not to give this kid too much to think about, or it will make matters worse.  I suggest they watch the movie “Swingers” for inspiration.

Coop: “You’re so money and you don’t even know it!”

Brad: “That was humiliating.”

Coop: “You don’t look at the things that you have, you only look at the stuff that you don’t have.  Those guys are right about you – you’re money.”

Brad: “I hit Q, is he okay?”

Coop: “That was so fucking money. That was like the Jedi mind-shit.”

Ivan Rodriguez

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

I love when national sportswriters provide analysis of the Astros’ roster or offseason moves, even when it’s just a tiny blurb at the end of a news and notes piece. This is because those writers are disinterested and detached enough from the club that they don’t come accross as Drayton’s spin doctors.  Ken Rosenthal had this to say about the Stros’ catching situation:

The Astros need a catcher after losing potential backup Toby Hall to shoulder surgery, but the team continues to indicate that it cannot afford free agent Ivan Rodriguez unless his price drops significantly. That’s a problem: Humberto Quintero probably is more of a backup than a five-day-a-week catcher, J.R. Towles batted .137 last season and Rule 5 pick Lou Palmisano is not the answer.

How is it that we don’t have $1 mil to spend on Ivan Rodriguez?  Granted, Pudge today isn’t the same guy that put up some decent numbers for that other Texas baseball club, but he would certainly provide plenty more than what we’ve got.  I’m not even a guy who expects a lot of pop from the catcher’s spot.  I love Brad Ausmus types.  The catcher’s primary role is to handle the pitching staff.

However, last year in 447 innings under Quintero, Astros pitchers had an ERA of 4.89. By contrast, the team ERA under Ausmus was 3.65 in 569 innings. Like Ausmus, Pudge knows how to call a game, and with so many question marks in our starting rotation, he would be an instant pitching upgrade.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a “Q” fan all the way. Not so much because of his numbers (not good), but because of the effort he puts in. He’s done everything the club could ask for, despite the fact that they have passed him up, taken him for granted, and stunted his development for so long.  This spring he has made an effort to meet with all the pitchers to put in all the preseason prep work he can, realizing that so much of what a catcher does is off the field.  Still, there’s a reason he has cleared waivers multiple times. Rosenthal is right: Q is a back up, and strictly a back up.

Pudge would pay for himself.  Houston fans love the big names.  Unfortunately, they sometimes care more about what a player has done than what he will do (see fans expectations of Miguel Tejada last year or Mike Hampton this year).  Even if Pudge is a Brad Ausmus equivalent, the fans want to see him with a star on his hat.  How many $1 million deals have the potential to wake a hibernating fanbase?  This would show Astros fans that Wade and McLane are still trying.  I’m ready to be excited about something, and seeing Pudge as our backstop would get me out to Minute Maid.

Here’s to New Beginnings

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , on February 14, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

Well, it’s about time for a new start, just ask Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz and Danny Graves. This blog needs to get rolling. Where have we been? Berkmaniac? Beckeesh? Y’all out there? Because I think we could all use some positive thinking.

I need someone to find a way to convince me that Aaron Boone is worthy of a platoon split at third base, and Jason Michaels is a worthwhile backup corner outfielder. I want someone other than the Houston Chronicle to tell me that taking a chance on Mike Hampton’s health is a good idea. (By the way, I guess the organization forgave him for sleeping with Bagwell’s now-ex wife. Heck, those two guys were on the winter caravan together.) Or maybe someone can show me that Brandon Backe is gonna put it all together this year … on the mound, not at the plate.

The more I look at this roster of David Newhan, Tim Byrdak, Michael Bourne, and four AAA catchers (update: make that three AAA catchers), the more it feels like Berkman, Oswalt and Lee are the big names at a charity softball event. I feel for you guys. Baseball Prospectus says you’re gonna go 70-92. I can’t imagine it being that bad, but I also can’t see our pitchers missing many bats.

Well, at least it’s not the NFL or NBA. Hello again, good guys.