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The Astros Have a New Utility Player. The Chron Has a Not-So-New Story on Sports Radio.

Before I start in on the Astros, I just wanted to say I hope all of you read yesterday’s Chron, especially its story on Houston sports talk radio. It’s not bad. But I can’t help thinking I’ve read it before. Oh, yeah. That’s right. Richard Connelly wrote the definitive story on this topic last month. But who am I to expect original, in-depth reporting from the Chron? (But, Rich, tell me, did Barron pay you any royalties for ripping off your story?)

Now, on with the Astros.

Jesus Ortiz wrote yesterday that Jason Jennings was drawing interest from other teams, and that he could be traded by Tuesday. That was before the game.

Then Jennings went out and pitched.

Jennings went out and pitched two thirds of an inning, surrendering 11 earned runs in the process. I don’t think the other teams were impressed.

The Astros lost to the San Diego Padres yesterday by a final of 18-11. And don’t worry, Brad Lidge got beat up on as well. True, the Astros scored 11 runs, but I just had the feeling, as I watching the game, that no matter how many runs the Astros scored, the Padres were going to score more.

This game was ugly.

I would do a “that game was so ugly, how ugly was it” joke, but I can’t think of one that would do the game justice. That’s how ugly the game was. It was so ugly, it’s it hard to remember the Roy Oswalt of last season showed up Saturday and pitched a gem, as the Astros won 3-1. It was so ugly, it wiped away the memory of Woody Williams getting beat up, again, Friday night. It was so ugly, Dan Wheeler sent Tim Purpura a thank you note for trading him to Tampa Bay. It was so ugly, Ty Wigginton sent Gerry Hunsicker a death threat for trading him to Houston.

That’s right. Tim Purpura made a trade. And knowing that the team needed to get younger. And knowing that the team needed help and youth at just about every position, Purpura pulled the trigger and traded Dan Wheeler to the D-Rays for Ty Wigginton, a guy who previously washed out with the Mets and Pirates. A guy who’s nearly 30 and who plays third, second, and first base.

Jesus Ortiz tells me this improved the Astros flexibility. I see it another way: the Astros traded for another Mike Lamb and Mark Loretta.

And sensing that the team now had a few too many guys capable of handling third, the team finally cut the string and designated Morgan Ensberg for assignment.

Did this make the Astros any better? No. It’s just a repeat of last season’s acquisition of Aubrey Huff. This just opens up things for the Astros to trade Lamb or Loretta, and there are teams that are interested in those guys, but since both guys are eligible for free agency at the end of this season, it’s doubtful the Astros could get much in the way of prospects for them.

The non-waiver trading deadline is Tuesday afternoon. So it’s still possible the Astros will make some kind of blockbuster deal. But don’t go expecting a Randy Johnson or Carlos Beltran deal. This team just doesn’t have the talent for that kind of deal. And if the Astros do try that kind of deal, the Astros should be on the other end. The Astros should be one the trading the big name for prospects. And Detroit and Boston are still interested in Brad Lidge. But I’m not expecting that to happen.

But I’ve got an idea. I heard on the radio that the Astros are having a faith and family day at the ballpark next month – I’m not going to get into the Constitutional issues that fall from a taxpayer-funded facility being used to promote a religion (we’re dealing with Drayton, so I’m not expecting the pre-game festivities to be featuring any Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, Wiccans, Pagans, etc, though he might let a Catholic slip inside, and maybe a Jew) – and since Lance Berkman is supposed to address the crowd about his faith, maybe, just maybe, Lance can have a word or two with the Man upstairs and ask that maybe He provide the Astros with a couple of starting pitchers, a shortstop, and a catcher next season.

The Astros have today off. The team’s flying out to Atlanta where it will close out the month. The team currently stands at 12-12 for the month, its best record for any month this season. A win over the Braves on Tuesday will give the Astros a winning record for the month. Which would be a big improvement for this team.

The Astros are currently 46-59 for the season, but amazingly, the team’s only 10.5 games out of first place. And if anyone’s looking for some baseball to watch, I suggest signing up for the MLB.TV package and watching the Cubs as the Cubs are now only a half game out of first place. And remember, people, the Cubs stunk up the joint at the start of the season.

But don’t go thinking that this means good things for the Astros. The Astros suck. The Cubs don’t. The Cubs have a good manager. The Cubs have good pitching.

The Astros have a new utility player. – John Royal

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