Astros-Giants: Any Day Now Cecil Cooper Will Be Starting Brad Ausmus at First

The Astros came from behind to defeat the San Francisco Giants 7-4 yesterday. This was the 8th straight victory for the Astros, but I’m not jumping on the bandwagon, especially since the victories have come over two of the worst teams in the league – Cincinnati and San Francisco – and especially since the vaunted offense of the Astros has continued to show an ability to beat up on mediocre pitching, but also a continued inability to hit anything close to competent pitching. I’m not sure if the Astros are good, or if the Reds and Giants just really suck more than I thought they did.

There is some good news to come out of the past several games: They have just demonstrated how useless Carlos Lee really is, as Lance Berkman doesn’t appear to have been harmed by the absence of Lee’s bat in the lineup for the protection of Berkman.

And with the Astros playing some real teams starting this weekend (the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers), maybe Cecil Cooper will stop with his idiotic lineups and get serious. Really, starting David Newhan – this also shows what a waste of good money it was to sign Kaz Matsui to a contract. For some reason, Newhan, who can’t hit, got the start yesterday, but Michael Bourn was on the bench because, according to the great mind that is Cecil Cooper, “It's about performance, and Michael has had a couple days when he didn't add a whole lot.”

I would be willing to cede this point to Cooper if, when Miguel Tejada failed to hit in June and July – Tejada contributed virtually zilch those two months – Cooper had sat his ass on the bench. Instead, the worthless Tejada trotted out to shortstop night after night after night while players who could contribute, like Mark Loretta, were left to rot on the bench.

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Oh well, it doesn’t matter now. The Astros are facing some actual competition this weekend, and if they could be almost shut down by Barry Zito, just imagine how bad it’s going to look tonight and Sunday. Wandy Rodriguez (7-4, 3.89) goes up against Brandon Webb (17-4, 2.88) tonight. Brandon Backe (7-11, 5.14) pitches against Yusmeiro Petit (1-3, 3.12) on Saturday night, and Roy Oswalt (10-8, 4.52) is probably praying that Cecil Cooper doesn’t decide to sit Lance Berkman on Sunday when he faces Randy Johnson (10-8, 4.18) – then again, knowing the stupid lineups Cooper has subjected Oswalt and the fans to this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to Newhan at second, Reggie Abercrombie in center, Brad Ausmus at first, Ty Wigginton in left, and Geoff Blum in right.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

The Ahman Green of the Houston Astros, Kaz Matsui, had an MRI on Wednesday which revealed no structural damage, but the team does not know when he will return. So could someone explain to me once again why signing this walking-injury risk was a good idea? Couldn’t Mark Loretta have done basically the same job for much less money and with fewer trips to the disabled list?

******************* If you’re thinking of going to some of the games this weekend, there are few things you should prepare for. For instance, Saturday is Christian night, so expect a lot of do-gooders who will doubtless be offended when you boo the umpire for making a bad call. And Sunday is Craig Biggio worship day as the team will be retiring his jersey on that day. But what might make Sunday more interesting is that Randy Johnson is going for career victory number 295 as he attempts to get to 300 career victories before the end of the season. – John Royal

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