Jose de Jesus Ortiz. Really, What More Can We Say?

I can’t take it anymore. Jesus Ortiz has finally pushed me off the ledge. And I’ve got to ask the Chron’s publisher: Do you know this guy’s being paid by Drayton McLane?

My evidence? Let’s try this: “Astros owner Drayton McLane has reason to be optimistic as his club enters the final week of the 2007 season and heads into an important offseason.”

And why, you might ask, does Jesus think Drayton’s got reasons to be optimistic? Well, because Ed Wade is a savvy veteran general manager (which is funny seeing that the best reason Ortiz could give for hiring Wade was that Wade would be fun to cover.) Oh, and the team’s going to draw three million people. (That speaks to the stupidity of the fans, which I guess is a reason for Drayton to be optimistic). And there’s Drayton’s best-nucleus-in-the-game argument. And Cecil Cooper is a “no-nonsense guy who will be perfect at molding a club with more young players while fixing the defensive and fundamental lapses that have plagued this club for the last two years.” (I don’t know, I’ve yet to see any evidence of Cooper doing any of that, and since Cooper’s been the bench coach for several seasons, why didn’t he try fixing some of these problems during this time?) And don’t forget, Carlos Lee is a brave, heroic figure who’s played every day despite an injury – don’t the guys at the Chron ever read each other, because it was just last week that Richard Justice was talking about how pissed the Astros have been at Lee’s lackadaisical, no-hustle approach this season?

Oh, and did you know Billy Wagner, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio aren’t fit to carry the jocks of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt or Brad Lidge? Well, that’s what Ortiz says, and Ortiz says so because the Astros were in the World Series in 2005 and that the guys responsible for getting the Astros to the World Series in 2005 were Berkman, Oswalt and Lidge – shhh, don’t anybody tell Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte. And by that logic, then Chris Burke must be one of the greatest Astros in history because of his 2005 playoff homer off of the Braves.

Finally, things will be good in 2008 because Troy Patton, J.R. Towles, Josh Anderson, Matt Albers, Juan Gutierrez and Felipe Paulino make up a strong core of young players to complement the strong core already there.

Well, Patton’s injured. Albers has sucked. Anderson’s been stuck in the minors for years. (Charlton Jimmerson anyone?) Towles has produced in exactly one game (Gerald Young actually produced for a half season once, but I don’t think he’s going go the Hall of Fame anytime soon), and Gutierrez and Paulino look to be newer versions for Wandy Rodriguez.

But that’s the case Ortiz makes. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we should be optimistic about 2008.

I know I should give this up. I know I should stop with the criticism of Ortiz because it’s not doing any good. I know I should stop with this because obviously Ortiz is allowed to write whatever he wants. And I know that I’ve said all of this before. That the Astros aren’t any good. That the Astros “core” isn’t any better than the core of a bunch of other teams. And I know I’ve written that the Astros and the Chron are living in a fantasy world.

And, I’m sorry for writing about this again. I just can’t help myself. But it all seems so damn obvious to me. I don’t know if Ortiz is just so stupid that he can’t see the obvious, or if Ortiz is just in Drayton’s back pocket. This Astros might not win 70 games this season. And there’s nothing, nothing, to indicate that this team will be any better next season.

No matter how often Ortiz closes his eyes and taps his heels.

Sorry about that. I just can’t help it.

As for the actual baseball…

Well, the Astros finished off a four-game series with the Cardinals last night. The Astros demolished the Cards on Thursday and won on Friday night. Matt Albers, one of Jesus Ortiz’s hopes for the future, was bombed in an Astros lost on Saturday night.

Then came Sunday night.

The Astros were up 3-1 going into the ninth inning. So Cecil Cooper does his best Phil Garner and goes to Brad Lidge. Lidge, being Lidge, starts the inning by giving up a single to Miguel Cairo. Ryan Ludwick walks. David Eckstein’s due up, but Tony La Russa decides to play a cruel trick on Lidge and instead sends Albert Pujols to pinch hit. Pujols then proceeds to single to deep left field, just barely short of being a game-winning home run, to make the score 3-2. Rick Ankiel then triples to win the game.

I’m so glad that we can depend on Brad Lidge.

The Astros are off tonight, then travel to Cincinnati for three games, before heading home to end the season with three games against the Braves. With six games remaining, the Astros record is 68-88.

You know, thinking about things, it’s quite possible that Jesus Ortiz’s prediction at the beginning of the season, that the Astros would go 93-69 will be correct. Of course, by 93-69, Jesus meant 69 wins and 93 losses. – John Royal

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