Astros-Mets: Houston Sweeps New York

I was little puzzled about why Johan Santana’s record wasn’t better. But after watching the New York Mets blow a two-run lead on Saturday night, leaving Santana with a no-decision, now I understand.

What is there for me to say after the Astros swept the Mets this weekend. I sure didn’t see that coming. Though I have been saying all season that Mark Loretta and Darin Erstad should be seeing more playing time, especially after they came through in the clutch so often over the weekend – so much so that Loretta was injured scoring just ahead of Hunter Pence in the ninth inning on Saturday night.

And I’ve got to make a confession, after the way Cecil Cooper jacked around with the bullpen, I was really hoping the Astros would lose a couple of the games. I’m not even sure that Tony La Russa would go to the pen more than Cooper did over the weekend. It really bugged me on Friday night when, after Brandon Backe loaded the bases with no outs, Cooper decided that he needed to use three pitchers, going to a different pitcher after each out. It always bugs me when a manager does this, usually because the move backfires. Luckily, this didn’t happen at any time during this weekend, but really, when you’ve got the bases loaded, and you bring Chris Sampson in with one out, there’s no real need for another pitcher, not when Sampson is primarily a ground ball pitcher, and especially not with the way that Sampson has been pitching since moving into the bullpen. He’s about the only guy I never worry about blowing up when he comes into the game.

Oh well, why dwell on the negative after the weekends of Loretta and Erstad. I just wish Loretta was getting more playing time over Miguel Tejada anyway. And since Michael Bourn can’t quite seem to get over his ankle injury, Erstad might be playing for awhile longer.

The Astros are now off to Chicago where they will play three games against the Cubs starting on Monday. Brian Moehler (6-4, 4.23) gets the start at 6:05 against Ryan Dempster (12-4, 2.50) on Monday. Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 3.61) gets the Tuesday afternoon start against Rich Harden (6-2, 2.04). And Brandon Backe (6-10, 4.72) closes out the series on Wednesday afternoon.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

I’m still not impressed with Randy Wolf. Any healthy starting pitcher who can’t get past five innings doesn’t deserve to be a starting pitcher. And Brian Moehler shouldn’t be under the pressure to have to pitch a complete game because the bullpen is tired after having to continuously bail out the starting staff over the weekend.

Speaking of which, can somebody please explain to me why Jose Valverde pitched on Sunday? He wasn’t even in position for a cheap save as the score was 4-0 when he came into the game. There was no reason to use him – he certainly didn’t need the work.

***************** Richard Justice is telling us that the Astros actually have a plan for 2009: it is to keep this current team together while adding pieces in the off-season.

Great, keeping this team together. A team where the entire starting infield is over 30 years old. Where the primary catcher is in his late-30s. Where the out-of-shape starting left fielder is in his 30s. Where the entire starting staff are in their 30s.

In other words, Drayton McLane’s plan is the same as it has been: just keep trying to win by getting older. That plan hasn’t worked too well for the New York Yankees, but I guess Drayton McLane thinks he’s on to something. This just doesn’t make sense to me. And Tal Smith and Ed Wade really should try explaining baseball reality to Drayton.

Here’s something else, the guys at the Chron are raving about Drayton busting out the check book and signing his draft choices for lots of money. But with the way he runs the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if all of these young draft choices are traded within the next several years for a couple of washed number five rotation pitchers and long relief guys.

I shouldn’t dwell on the negatives. I know that. I should be pleased that the Astros swept a series. But just as the Astros traded for Jason Jennings last year, and Miguel Tejada this season – having to give up young prospects each time – what is there to make me believe that this won’t happen next year. And just as the Astros have wasted good money on free agents like Woody Williams, Carlos Lee, and Kaz Matsui, why should I not expect the same thing to happen in this offseason?

I think I’ll just quit here. They’re telling me on the TV that there’s a hurricane in the Gulf and that I’ve got to go get some supplies. – John Royal


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