Dear Ed Wade: What Took So Long?

Dear Ed Wade,
I'm really wondering if you can yet provide me with a legitimate answer for why you kept Chris Johnson stuck down in Round Rock for so long this season?

Yes, his defense has been as bad as advertised, but it's really been no worse than the defense of Pedro Feliz, and Feliz was advertised as having an above-average glove. And more important, unlike Feliz, Johnson has actually been hitting the baseball (of course, as I was writing this, Feliz decided to look relevant and go three-for-five last night with an RBI).

And I'm not really sure why Jason Castro was stuck down in the minors for so long. Were Humberto Quintero and Kevin Cash really that much better? That the Astros had Cash starting about two out of every five games shows just how bad the Astros catching was.  

The Astros are bad -- even after winning last night and even after winning four of their last seven. But for the most part, with Johnson and Castro in the lineup, the Astros have been a more entertaining team to watch. And they've been more entertaining to watch because a bunch of young kids bouncing around on the field trying to prove they belong in the majors is a lot more fun to watch than a bunch of old guys trying to collect one more paycheck.

But more fun to watch aside, this is a bad team that is going nowhere this season. Sure, they're not as bad as the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Baltimore Orioles, but as the American League proved, whenever the Astros face a good team, they're going to get their asses kicked.  

The Astros were 3-12 against the American League this season. And while it's one thing to be swept by the Yankees, or to lose five of six to the Texas Rangers or two of thee to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Astros also lost two of three to the Kansas City Royals. The Rangers outscored the Astros 41-18 during the six games, but at least this weekend Brad Mills didn't walk Vlad Guerrero to face Josh Hamilton though after what Hamilton did to the Astros this season, maybe Mills should consider issuing an intentional walk to Hamilton every time he comes up to bat, even if the bases are loaded.

The pitching staff still has a lot of problems. Any starting rotation that boasts Brian Moehler as a member is a bad one. And the Astros were the first team in the majors to have two members of their rotation reach 10 losses -- Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez. Despite last night's win, starter Bud Norris, fresh off of the disabled list, still appears to only be able to throw a quality start against the St. Louis Cardinals.  

At least the Astros are once again playing teams in the National League, where they appear to be somewhat competitive. Then again, the Astros are playing the Brewers, and the Brewers, while not Houston Astros bad, are bad. But the Astros next fly to San Diego for a four-game series. The Padres offer up something the Astros have big problems with, good pitching. However, if the Astros can survive the weekend, they get three games against the Pirates. And that's a good thing because the Pirates make the Astros look like the Yankees.

Despite everything, the Astros are worth watching now. Just for the chance to watch Chris Johnson and Jason Castro. They're what make baseball fun. Two kids hustling after everything, doing they're best to prove that the general manager who thought Kevin Cash and Pedro Feliz were better options for playing time is a complete and total idiot.

So, Ed Wade, I'm waiting. And I'm sure the rest of Astros nation is waiting, too. Just what took long to give Castro and Johnson a chance to prove themselves?

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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