So I had a friend the other day asking me why he should bother with watching the Houston Astros this season. I went with the because-you-love-baseball answer, and he went the-Astros-aren't-baseball answer. And I've got to confess, looking at Brian McTaggart's proposed Opening Day roster, there's really not that much to look forward to.
You can't help but know that the season is going to suck when Geoff Blum is the first baseman and Jason Michaels is still ripping off Drayton McLane and drawing a major league salary (it's rather amazing that Blum is still ripping off McLane and "earning" a major league salary).
But frankly, there's just not much too look forward to if you're an Astros fan. This is a bad team, and it's even worse with Lance Berkman sitting on the DL because of his knee. And with Berkman out, the Astros have to have one of the worst infields in baseball. Blum, Kaz Matsui, Tommy Manzella, and Pedro Feliz are a recipe for disaster. Roy Oswalt and the pitching staff are probably longing for a return of 2006-era Morgan Ensberg, Adam Everett, Chris Burke, and Jason Lane.
There are some reasons to watch the Astros, though.
Take the outfield combo of Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. If these guys continue growing and improving as players, then they could turn out to be one of the team's best-ever outfield combos. Maybe new manager Brad Mills will just plant Carlos Lee on the left field line and have Bourn and Pence play the rest of the outfield -- they've got the speed and the arms to pull it off.
Then there's watching these two guys on the bases. Here's hoping that being stuck in a lineup with plodders like Lee and lousy hitters like Blum and Lopez doesn't ruin them.
And I'm looking forward to watching Brad Mills manage. It's not going to take much for a manager to be an improvement over Cecil Cooper, but it's a good thing that Cooper's not around because this team has less talent than normal.
It's said that the job of a good manager is to put his players in the best position to win games. The first thing Mills can do is ignore Drayton and Ed Wade, two guys who really don't know much about baseball -- how else can one explain the signings of Matsui, Feliz, and Brandon Lyon but as coming from a couple of baseball morons? I would advise Mills to put in a call to Gerry Hunsicker and Larry Dierker for some advice on ignoring Drayton.
But the ultimate reason to watch the Astros this year is just because they're going to be so damn bad. And as anyone who has watched a lot of bad Astros baseball knows, TV analyst Jim Deshaies is at his very best when the team is losing a game, especially when the team is getting blown out. And any team relying on Geoff Blum and Wandy Rodriguez and Kaz Matsui and Carlos Lee is going to be bad and will be blown out of a lot of games.
So for those of you wanting a reason to watch the Astros this year, there's your answer. Jim Deshaies. He's the best in baseball. And he's going to have a lot of material with which to work this season.