Astros Sign Kaz Matsui, Corner the Market on Mediocre Middle Infielders

Wow. So the Astros have signed Kaz Matsui to a three-year, $16.5 million contract . Are you as under-whelmed by this deal as I am? But along with the Geoff Blum signing, it appears the Astros are doing everything possible to corner the market on mediocre middle infielders. Maybe the brass can talk Craig Biggio into coming back for one more farewell tour. And I think they should talk to the Padres and see if they can get Morgan Ensberg back while they’re at it.

Seriously. Am I really supposed to think this is a good deal? Has anyone with the Astros bothered to really take a look at his stats? Sure, he hit .288 last season, but take him out of Coors Field and his average dropped to .249, down 80 points from what he hit in Denver. And take a look at his career stats. Get this guy out of Coors and he makes Adam Everett look like Babe Ruth. Yes, I exaggerate, but I do so for effect. And he’s never played more than 114 games in a season. A season is 162 games long. On average, he misses a fourth of the season with injury. He’s the baseball equivalent of Matt Schaub. And sure, as Richard Justice says, he’s fast, and he can steal bases. But Adam Everett’s fast, and he can steal bases, but it does no good to be fast and steal bases if you’re not on base.

Now Justice is high on this deal because it shows that Ed Wade is decisive, writing in the Chron: “I love his decisiveness. I don't know if he has made the Astros better or worse. Actually, I'm pretty sure he couldn't have made them worse.”

Hey, Richard, George W. Bush is known for being decisive. And as he’s proven, just because you’re decisive doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. Sure, it probably looks better than Tim Purpura’s waffling. But I don’t care about waffling versus decisive. I care about his making the team better.

And I can look at his decisive deals so far and I can tell you that he hasn’t made this a better team.

Brad Lidge is gone in exchange for Michael Bourn. That’s a plus. And he’s acquired a bunch of mediocre guys by way of small trades. But he’s signed the mediocre Geoff Blum to a contract. And he’s signed the mediocre Kaz Matsui. So let’s look at the lineup, as it now stands.

At first will be Lance Berkman. At second will be Matsui. At third will be Ty Wigginton. At short will be Adam Everett. The outfield will be Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence. The catcher will be J.R. Towles.

We don’t know if Bourn can hit, but he’s leading off. Matsui will bat second, and he only hits in Coors. So once again, as was often the case last season, we’re starting the game off with two outs. Then comes Berkman, who everyone hopes will bother with getting in shape this off-season, and Carlos Lee, who everyone hopes will hustle next season. Hunter Pence will probably bat fifth, and here’s hoping he doesn’t get the sophomore slump. Ty Wigginton is a mediocre infielder who possesses a bat that is nowhere near as good as Mike Lamb or Mark Loretta, who he is replacing. Towles will bat seventh, and we don’t know how he can do. Then comes Everett in the eight hole, who will once again attempt to hit his weight. Then comes the pitcher.

So, let’s look at that batting order. Two outs at the top. Four outs at the bottom. Three guys who can hit. Gee, that looks a lot like the 2007 season.

Maybe Bourn will hit. Maybe Matsui will hit. Maybe Wigginton will hit. Maybe Towles will hit. Maybe Everett will hit. That’s just like last season. If Craig Biggio hits and if Chris Burke hits and if Morgan Ensberg hits and if Brad Ausmus hits and if Adam Everett hits, then maybe we’ll have a team that can compete.

If. If. If. If. If. If. If.

Am I the only one in this city who is tired of lineup constructed around “ifs”? -- John Royal


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