Backe's Back In The Rotation: Just How Bad Can The Astros' Farm System Be?

Here's some shocking Astros news. According to the Chron, Mike Hampton is going on the 15-day disabled list. Yeah, I know, who would ever think that Hampton would get injured. It's not like he missed two of the last three seasons because of injuries, or anything. Even Matt Schaub and Tracy McGrady think he's injury-prone.

Here's the really scary news, though. Brandon Backe's returning to the starting rotation to take Hampton's spot. I'll admit, when Backe was on his rehab, and the starting rotation was getting the crap beat out of it, I was kind of hoping that Backe would come back because he couldn't be any worse.  

Then Backe returned to the team. And let's face it, opposing batters have been hitting him this year like they're members of the Galveston Police Department. In only nine innings for the Astros this season, Backe's surrendered 17 hits, 12 runs, 12 earned runs, and three homers for an ERA of 12.00. Kind of makes you long for the return of Woody Williams, doesn't it?

But here's my question: just how damn bad is the Astros farm system that they don't have anybody available to come pitch in the rotation? I saw Backe pitch last season. And it looks a lot like this year's version of Backe. He's done nothing to indicate that he's going to be any better in the starting rotation.

So come on. Let's give Bud Norris, down at AAA Round Rock, that chance. What do the Astros have to lose? They're already in last place. They already suck. They're already trotting out Russ Ortiz, Brian Moehler, and Brandon Backe. And he's got decent stats. He can't do any worse than Hampton's been doing, or Backe. Sure, he's young. But I bet AARP will forgive Drayton McLane if he has at least one pitcher in his starting rotation who's younger than 30.  

And before I go, I think I've got an idea for a contest. Kaz Matsui came off of the disabled list yesterday. So maybe we should have some kind of game where we guess how long it is, or which game it is, that he goes back on the DL. Personally, I'm thinking it will be around the All Star Break.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal