No one can accuse him of not being enthusiastic.

Welcome Back, Brad

If you want to win baseball games, you should field your best line-up on a regular basis. Sounds simple enough, right? It’s just common sense. And that’s exactly why Brad Lidge belongs back in his familiar role as the Astros’ closer.

Sorry, John, I know you have a hate on for all things Lidge, Garner, Pupura and McLane. No question the Houston brass has made their fair share of short-sighted blunders this season. But this time, they’re doing the right thing.

I understand the trepidation and dread fans may feel toward this maneuver. I’m sure many see this sequel ending just as poorly as the initial tragedy. But check out the numbers Lidge has posted since his demotion. Now take a look at what Wheeler’s been up to lately. Sure, Wheeler has only blown one save, but he’s been getting carved up like John Daly for quite some time now. To me, the answer is crystal clear: Lidge deserves another shot.

If you don’t agree, that’s fine. But think of it this way: Do you want Loretta starting over Biggio? How about Lamb instead of Ensberg? Well, if you answered “yes” to one or both questions (and I’m guessing you did), the Lidge-Wheeler issue is no different. The best player should be receiving the bulk of the playing time. There comes a point where it doesn’t matter what guys have done in the past. The only thing that’s important is putting your best nine on the field.

One more thing: Let’s put to rest the notion of trading Lidge to the Red Sox during spring training. If this report is to be believed (and I’ll begrudgingly give JJO the benefit of the doubt here), Boston offered journeyman Julian Tavarez for Lidge. That’s a joke. But you know what? How much did you really think Lidge was going to fetch after his horrific 2006 and his double digit spring training E.R.A.? You were never going to get more than 50 cents on the dollar at that point. Now, of course, it’s a different story. Thanks to his resurgence, Lidge is once again a valuable commodity on the open market. And considering the Astros’ woeful season so far and depleted farm system, I’m all for dealing Lidge to the highest bidder.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing how he holds up in his old-new role. No doubt, his first few save opportunities will be nail-biting adventures. But, hey, no matter what happens, at least we’ll have some excitement at the ballpark again. And who knows, now that Garner has inserted his best closer, perhaps he’ll wise up and start playing his best second baseman, too. – Jason Friedman

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