Only a few weeks left!!!

I really can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by this go around. Just today I was looking at a calendar and it really started to sink in just how little time is left. I’m both excited and a little nervous at the same time. I guess that’s always true with change but I really don’t know what to expect this time around. I think the Astro’s lineup looks strong but with the soft pitching rotation I’m not sure. Either way March 31st is just around the corner. I love opening day…what did you think I was talking about? Seriously, I can’t wait for Julianna to arrive on March 12th. I know Monique is ready to have her insides back to normal and I’m ready for all the late nights taking care of the baby (with the Astros on the office Tivo of course).

Back to the Astros…Everyone has reported to spring training but our young superstar, Hunter Pence, is home recovering from lacerations on his right hand and knee. Guess how he got these injuries…He ran through a sliding glass door that he thought was open! I love it…at least the injuries aren’t serious. My favorite part of the story –

Pence jumped into the shower to wash the broken glass off of him, but when he noticed he was excessively bleeding, he called his parents. They told him to call 911, and soon after, according to Pence, “firemen, emergency people and medics came to the house.”

He called home first…what a guy.

Babies and Baseball – March is going to be AWESOME!!!


Astros have a closer again with Valverde

The Astros just acquired all star closer Jose Valverd from the D-Backs for Chris Burke, Chad Qualls and Juan Gutierrez. Valverd’s numbers look great if he can keep it up. Last season he posted a Major League leading 47 saves with a 2.66 ERA. Valverde, 28, also struck out 78 hitters in 64 1/3 innings while walking 26 and allowing 46 hits. The only real loss in this trade is Chad Qualls. Chris Burke’s future with the Astros was sealed when the club signed second baseman Kazuo Matsui. Gutierrez was a decent prospect but not a lock. Qualls, on the other hand, was one of the most consistent guys in the bullpen. I’m not sure if Qualls had the stuff of a modern closer but he was generally a dependable setup man.

Not 100% sure about this trade yet but it could turn out in our favor. Bottom line is that not every trade is going to work out but you’ve got to take some chances. I respect Ed Wade for this. Tim Purpura seemed too reluctant to pull the trigger on big risky moves and as a result the team suffered. I’m guessing his time spent as vice-president in charge of player development taught him to be very patient with players but the big leagues is not the same as rookie ball. The blind spot the Astros’ seemed to have regarding Jason Lane was laughable. On the other hand, Ed Wade has no personal relationship to these players and so far seems willing to take some calculated risks. I hope they pay off…but you’ve got to respect the effort. This is going to be a very different looking team from last year.

Astros Aquire Tejada

Let me go on record as a big supporter of this trade. The Astros acquired Baltimore Orioles All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada for Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Troy Patton, Luke Scott and Michael Costanzo. First I’ll tell you what we got. Tejada is only 31 years old and hit 18 homers and 81 RBIs last year in only 133 games. Before that, he was an extremely reliable shortstop who played in nearly every inning of every game over his 11-year career.  He hit .287 with 258 homers and 1,033 RBIs and there’s no reason to believe he won’t do that for the Astros (at $16 million per year). While it is a defensive downgrade at shortstop over Adam Everett (who will be a free agent by tomorrow and who missed most of last season) the addition of Matsui at second base (a vast upgrade over Biggio last year) makes the Astros’ defense up the middle a far cry better then last year. Now for what we lost… Costanzo may turn out to be a decent hitter but not any time soon. Sarfate pitched well in a very brief time last season, but to say he’s a can’t-miss prospect and was going to be a big part of the bullpen was a reach. He might not have amounted to anything, which is the conclusion the Brewers reached when they traded him last season. Scott was trade bait after they acquired Bourn anyway, so losing him was part of the plan. Albers has been inconsistent at best. Losing Patton hurts but all good trades should hurt a little. He may turn out to be a good pitcher but he ended last season with an arm injury and his velocity was way down.

The bottom line is that the Astros’ starting rotation stinks. It currently is among the worst in baseball. After Roy Oswalt (one of the best in the business) there are a bunch of 4th and 5th starter types. I’m not down on Backe but it remains to be seen if he has the stuff of a quality #2 or #3 guy. The free agent market this year for pitching is pretty bleak and frankly the Astros don’t have much to offer. No way they have the minor league talent to get in on the likes of a Johann Santana (without giving up Hunter Pence). So, if you know your pitching sucks and isn’t likely to improve drastically then you better plan on scoring more runs then your opponents. That has been the Achilles heel of this team in the past. Not after this trade. The Astros (on paper) appear to now have the most potent offence in the division with the possible exception of Milwaukee.  Ed Wade announced the starting lineup earlier today (bad move in my opinion…should be the manager’s role) with one strange positioning. He has Matsui batting in the 2 hole with Pence at #6.  WHAT??? Why would you put Matsui in a slot that is going to come up 50-60 times more over the course of the season then Pence’s slot.  My dream lineup:

  1. Bourn .277
  2. Pence .322
  3. Berkman .300 (career)
  4. Lee .303
  5. Tejada .296
  6. Matsui .288
  7. Wigginton/Loretta .278/.287
  8. Towells .375 (limited ABs)
  9. Pitcher

This lineup will be impossible to pitch around.  Combine that with the friendly confines of Minute Maid park and the offense looks great at this point…Anyway, I can’t wait for the season….March 31st is coming fast!