Astros' Mid-Season Report Card: It's Ugly Out There
The Houston Astros passed the halfway mark in games played this weekend, and after losing three straight to the San Diego Padres, the team's record for the season is 32-51. There are only two teams in baseball with worse records than the Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles. They're one of the worst teams in baseball, and those who expected more from the team when the season began just really hadn't been paying attention.
To call the Astros offense this season non-existent is to insult "non-existent." The team is dead last in the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, and homers. They're 27th in runs scored. The pitching is better, but not by much. Only three teams have given up more hits than the Astros, only four have given up more runs. The staff has the 24th ranked ERA in the majors. In short, this isn't a very good baseball team.
The biggest disappointments, of many disappointments, for the Astros have definitely been big-money guys Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman. Lee's numbers have dropped each year since joining the Astros, but this season he's been beyond awful, hitting an anemic .232 with a .379 slugging percentage and a .279 on-base percentage. The so-called power hitter has 10 homers and 41 RBI. Yet for some reason - probably because he's making a butt-load of cash - Lee has played in 80 of the team's 83 games.
Berkman hasn't been much better. After missing the first several weeks because of injuries, Berkman has yet to round into shape. Berkman's hitting just .243 with a .356 on-base and a .414 slugging percentage. He's struck out (57) more often than he's knocked in an RBI (37).
The only bright spots, offensively (and defensively), have been Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, and despite Bourn's being named to the All Star team, neither has numbers worth bragging about, unless you're a member of the Astros, of course.
Roy Oswalt, the team's ace, is only 5-10 with a 3.32 ERA and 111 innings over 17 games. He's on the record as wanting to get the hell out of Houston, and with the lack of success that he's received from his offense, it's hard not to blame him. Then again, perhaps it's time that Oswalt stepped up and pitched complete game shutouts every time out. It's obvious that the team is too damn incompetent to score, so the only way Oswalt can get win is to shut everybody down.
The fact that Brian Moehler has emerged as the third-best starter on the staff is damning evidence of just how bad the rotation has been. Wandy Rodriguez has returned to the suckitude that marked the majority of his career, and Bud Norris is awful unless he's facing the St. Louis Cardinals. Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon have been okay from the bullpen, but it's hard to explain and defend the signing of Lyon since he's not even closing, which is the role for which he was signed.
Speaking of bad signings, Pedro Feliz has finally lost his starting job at third base to Chris Johnson. Johnson is awful when it comes to playing defense, but so far, in limited playing time, his offense has made up for his lack of defense. Feliz's offense has sucked worse than his defense, but his lack of offense seems to be a surprise to only to the likes of Ed Wade who failed to see how Feliz's offensive numbers had been dropping despite playing in Philadelphia, a high-scoring offensive machine playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark.
Things haven't been all bad. Kazuo Matsui is finally gone from the team. Jeff Keppinger has been a pleasant surprise at second base. Johnson is actually providing some offense from the third base position. Manager Brad Mills actually appears to have the support of the players. And hopefully the absolute awfulness of the Astros will mean the end of the never-should-have-been-started Ed Wade era.
There are 78 games remaining in the season, and except for the chance of seeing some of the young kids play, there's really not a reason to pay the costs of attending a baseball game at Minute Maid Park. Unless you're a fan of the opposing team, that is.