Astros Update

The Astros won 2 of 3 from the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend. The record’s now 18-19, and they have moved to within 7 games of the Milwaukee Brewers, and are in a tie with the Cubs for second place.

The big news from the weekend was the demotion of Chris Burke to AAA Round Rock. Amazingly, Jason Lane, Orlando Palmeiro, and Adam Everett still have spots on the major league roster, even though Burke has a higher average than all of them, and he’s able to play more positions than those three combined. I don’t know what it is that Burke did to piss of Phil Garner and/or Tim Purpura, but perhaps we should be finding it what he did, so that we can get Lane, Palmeiro, and Everett to do the same thing.

The strange thing was that Burke was sent to the minors because relief pitcher Rick White was ready to come off of the Disabled List, and Phil Garner insisted on carrying 12 pitchers. It’s strange because he’s been going with 11 pitchers while White’s been on the DL, so he doesn’t really need 12, and it’s not like the number 10 and 11 guys on the pitching staff, Dave Borkowski and Brian Moehler, have been used that much.

I think Phil’s full of it. He’s always been full of it, and he’s always been a mediocre manager, usually managing mediocre teams in Milwaukee and Detroit. The Astros have been playing to his level for several years; unfortunately, this season, there’s a really good team in the division, and it’s not going to be enough to just play mediocre for the season.

The highlights of the weekend are Wandy Rodriguez getting the win on Sunday, his first victory since July of last season. Craig Biggio’s moved to 34 hits away from 3,000 – and hopefully, either his benching or placement in the batting order at 7 or 8. I know Biggio’s the great team icon, but he’s only batting .257 and he’s got a mediocre on-base average. I think the most shocking thing of the Sunday game – besides Wandy getting the win – was that Craig Biggio actually walked. Usually, Biggio swings at one of the first pitches. So it really takes a lot of effort to give Biggio a base.

Morgan Ensberg sat on the bench Saturday and Sunday. Is somebody finally getting through to Garner? Mike Lamb only went 3 for 5 in Ensberg’s position on Saturday, including a home run while raising his batting average to .419. Mark Loretta got the start at third on Sunday, flashed some good leather, got a hit, and got an RBI, while having a batting average of .355.

Another troublesome thing about the Sunday game, though not surprising or shocking because we’re talking about Phil Garner, was that even after going 3 for 5 on Saturday, Mike Lamb was on the bench Sunday. Yeah, I know there’s that whole match-up thing, but Jason Lane managed to go 0 for 4, again, and lowered his batting average to the Adam Everett-esque number of .214.

It should be reminded that Loretta can play second, short, third, and first. Lamb can play third, first, and outfield, and Lance Berkman can play first and outfield. Why Lane’s still getting the at-bats just amazes me. It just seems that he should be the guy down at Round Rock.

And how nice was it to see a Houstonian have a good weekend?. No, I’m not talking about Lance Berkman. I’m talking about Arizona center fielder Chris Young, who starred at Bellaire High School, but, for some reason, the Astros brain trust never noticed. Just like this same brain trust never noticed Carl Crawford, or Josh Barfield, or Joe Nathan, or Zach Duke, or Scott Kazmir, or a large number of other major league players from the Houston area.

You’ve just got to be asking yourself, do the Astros even bother scouting the Houston area?

Yes, I dwell on the negative, but the Astros tend to bring that out in a person.

The Astros are off today, but begin a three game series with the Giants, and the big evil that is Barry Bonds on Tuesday night. -- John Royal


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