Spring Training: Time to Give Up the Woody Williams Experiment

Last week, the Astros and various members of the Houston media were telling me that spring stats didn’t count. That the pitchers were just throwing certain pitches and throwing to certain spots. Even after he got beat up last week, Woody Williams said he was happy with his performance, because his pitches were doing what he wanted wanted his pitches to go for hits.

After yesterday’s performance, I think Woody can stop throwing to spots and just working on certain pitches, because, frankly, Woody looked to be in mid-July form, surrendering four home runs in four innings, and from what the broadcasters said, there were some shots that landed just short of the fences – I’ve been to Joker Marchant Stadium where the Detroit Tigers play spring games, and those are some deep fences.

I’ve been saying since last season that it was time to give up on the Woody Williams experiment. And I could never understand how the Astros could have just him penciled into the starting rotation based upon last season’s results. Yet things appear to be changing. It’s now really hard to imagine how Woody could have a spot. But, here’s the problem: who’s going to take his place?

Felipe Paulino is injured. Fernando Nieve is injured. Chris Sampson, for some reason, has been having to battle for a spot for Pittsburgh Pirate reject Shawn Chacon. Hell, even Brian Moehler is in the mix for a starting spot.

The options suck. But none of them suck as bad as Woody Williams being back in the rotation. So, if I had a vote (which for some reason I don’t), Chris Sampson would definitely be back in the rotation. He was better than Woody last season. He was better than Chacon. And because there are no other real options, I would give that fifth starter spot to Chacon. It’s clear the Astros want Chacon in the rotation. So just do it.

Meanwhile, could someone please tell me why Brian Moehler is even still around after his disastrous stint as long reliever last season?

And I don’t know where my buddy Jose de Jesus Ortiz has disappeared to, but thank God he’s not around at the moment, because I just know he would be trotting out the whole "Woody and his spring training stats don’t count" bit. But Joseph Duarte, who was there at the game, was not thrilled, saying Woody is probably out of a rotation spot. And Brian McTaggart, who inked Woody into the rotation on Tuesday took it back yesterday.

We do know who the Astros won’t be adding to the rotation in that they have ruled out free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse (Lohse sucked in the launching pad that is Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio, so there’s no way he could handle the job here in Houston.)

And before I go, I’ve got another request for Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan: dudes, it’s a ground rule double. That’s been the terminology for years. Just because Milo Hamilton calls it a book rule double, or an automatic double, doesn’t mean that you have to do it to. I listen to lots of baseball broadcasts, and for years Milo’s been the only one to do that. There’s no need for you to adopt the inane sayings of a senile old man. So please stop stooping to his level. The Astros are going to be hard enough to follow this year as it, don’t make it harder.

Please.

--John Royal


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