Tag Archives: Houston Astros

The Depressing Futures of Baseball’s Worst Teams

The MLB playoffs are nigh on hand, and while it is a time where several teams are celebrating their clinched spots or fighting vigorously to earn a spot in their final games, many others haven’t seen the spotlight for months. Here’s a look at how bright or dull a future some of baseball’s worst teams have.

Houston Astros

Houston wins the honor of worst team in baseball for the second straight year and it was their fourth straight season below .500. A lot will be different next season in Houston, but wins may not be part of that. The Astros will be switching to the American League in 2013, and after trading some of their best players (Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee) over the past two season, there isn’t a lot left in Houston to build around. Jose Altuve is the lone bright spot on the team and he’s basically nothing more than a solid leadoff hitter. He’s also not tall enough to go on half the rides at Disneyland. Unless the Astros dig up some savior prospect from their farm system, it could be a while until this team is relevant.

These uniforms are worse than the Astros themselves.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have a bit more reason for optimism than the Astros. With some decent young pieces in Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo, Chicago has some flexibility to trade for some big name players. And if they choose to keep that young core, the trio may develop into a strong group. But the Cubs still have a long way to go. Their pitching staff is beyond lackluster and their best power hitter, Alfonso Soriano, is getting up there in years.

Colorado Rockies

Playing the majority of their season without their best player, Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies’ season was basically over the moment he was injured. But if he is able to return to form next season, this team may not be all that bad. Carlos Gonzalez continues to hit well and the emergence of Dexter Fowler and Jordan Pecheco gave Colorado three players who hit above .300. Pitching remains a problem, however. The Rockies tried to work with a four man rotation and a strict 75 pitch limit for their starters. This caused them to burn through their bullpen pretty quickly and pretty clearly did not work at all. If they can figure out how to give up less than 5 runs every game, the Rockies have the offense to be a decent club.

Miami Marlins

The beautiful mug of the man riding the Marlins into the ground.

All the hype the Marlins built with their offseason spending pretty much disappeared the moment the season started. How Ozzie Guillen still has his job is beyond me. Within the first week of the season, he mentioned his support for Fidel Castro. For a team whose fan base consists of a large number of Cubans, that’s kind of a stupid thing to say, especially since it has nothing to do with baseball whatsoever. Furthermore, he has bashed his players continually, most recently Heath Bell, saying he doesn’t respect him. His players have quit on him and its shown, as most of the Marlins are having some of the worst years of their careers. With Hanley Ramirez traded and a significant portion of the salary cap invested in their offseason signings, Miami doesn’t have a lot of tradeable assets or flexibility to rebuild. Their first step should be finding a new manager.

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Freeze Frame Friday II: Jordan Schafer and Eminem

I think “I Need a Doctor,” because I’m definitely seeing double.

After nearly a month-long hiatus, it’s back!  Having to go through pun withdrawals is quite troubling, so it’s time to change things up again ( cue the drum set, I’m feeling a series of rim-shots).

This week, we have Houston Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer and multiplatinum recording artist Eminem.

Currently on the 15 day Disabled List with a left shoulder injury, Schafer, the 25 year-old Indiana native feels as though he hasn’t played in a major league game in “Forever.”

2012 has been Schafer’s third consecutive attempt to break out into stardom after a positive HGH test in 2008 left him suspended for 50 games.  Experts rationalized the decision to enhance his training, saying, “He needed a little controversy.”

The left-handed speedster is batting a feeble .216 on the season but is 2 for 3 against Detroit rap legend Papa Doc after defeating him in an open mic night last weekend.

Schafer has been far from the Astros’ only disappointment this season.  At 40-91, Houston finds itself a study in mediocrity, trailing the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds by 39.5 games.  The rest of the MLB just stood there to watch the Astros burn through all their players as they essentially cleaned house by gutting their more expensive contracts towards the end of last season.

The perennial cellar dwellers need to remind themselves that “it’s not so bad…it’s not so bad.”  Before they know it, they’ll be trying their luck in the AL West.

Still, Schafer remains unfazed and brutally honest with critics as well as people who insist he is Eminem.  “It’s a little too late to say that you’re sorry now, you kicked me when I was down, but what you say just don’t hurt me,” he said.

Note: the real Jordan  Schafer prefers to stand during interviews.

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A Resurgent Tim Lincecum Toes the Rubber

For the entire first half of the 2012 MLB season, Tim Lincecum has been hearing about how he just isn’t good enough.

He’s been told that his speed has gone down, that his workout regimen is insufficient, that his pitching windup has too many moveable parts to be diagnosed properly after a few bad starts.

That if he screws up one more time, his season as a starter for the San Francisco Giants will be effectively over.

Clearly, this past week’s All-Star break allowed Lincecum to escape the speculation and criticism and he responded in a big way in his first start of the second half, blanking the Houston Astros over eight innings of brilliant work on Saturday night.

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Lincecum showed signs of his former self on Saturday night, fanning 11 Astros in a dominating performance.

Lincecum entered the game with an NL-worst 6.42 ERA (among qualifying pitchers) and 10 losses and the expectation was that he would undergo yet another one of his early-game meltdowns.  On this night, that nightmare inning never came.

The Freak’s performance came as a pleasant surprise to the more than 40,000 Giants fans who witnessed his season high in innings pitched (8), strikeouts (11) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (11:1).

After an eighth inning in which he completed his own strikeout against the last batter he faced, flipping a dropped third strike that had dribbled up the first base line to Brandon Belt to retire the side, Lincecum received a standing ovation from a Giants crowd that was as appreciative as it was excited.

As Lincecum’s fate would have it, the crowd’s elation was short-lived.  Giants interim closer Santiago Casilla couldn’t hold the 2-0 he had been handed, blowing his fifth save of the season in one of the most bizarre turn of events imaginable.

With the Giants ahead by one and with two outs already recorded in the top of the ninth inning, Casilla got Astros catcher Chris Snyder to chase a curveball in the dirt to earn his third strikeout of the inning.

The ball then bounced off the shin guards of Giants catcher Hector Sanchez, who tracked down the ball and threw wildly to first base, allowing centerfielder Justin Maxwell, who had not stopped running, to score from second base and tie the game.

The miscue handed Lincecum a no-decision on the night, but the Giants were able to overcome.

Sanchez would later redeem himself by driving in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th and Lincecum remained encouraged by his performance following the win.

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Replacing an injured Brian Wilson at the start of the season, Casilla has struggled to shut the door as of late.

“I’m going to take the small steps as they come,” Lincecum said. “Even though we won I’m going to go home and reflect on this and think about the things I did well and try to duplicate them in my next start.”

After his ability to respond to the widespread doubt on Saturday, all signs point to a resurgent Lincecum.  Sure, his speed might not be what it once was, but “The Freak” appears to once again have confidence in his ability—often times all it takes for a struggling pitcher to turn a disappointing season around.

His ERA now sits at 5.93, which is still not good enough in the eyes of many, but certainly a good enough improvement in one night of baseball.

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