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Playing Pepper 2009: Houston Astros

Posted on February 17, 2009 at 3:30 PM
Filed Under: Houston Astros | Playing Pepper
As the players start getting themselves ready for another season, I thought it'd be a good idea to do the same.  I contacted a blogger for each major league team and posted them five questions.  This is the result.  You can find the tentative schedule of teams here and today's main post is right here.

Since the NL Central came into being, two teams have dominated the landscape--the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros.

Some of the best memories for Cardinal fans have come against the 'Stros, what with the epic Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS and Pujols's shot against Lidge in '05.  And there's been controversy as well, when you think of the '01 co-champs/wild card debate.

Neither the Astros nor the Cardinals have been to the playoffs in the last two years, however, so while the personal rivalry is still there, the stakes haven't been as high.  James of Astros County and I got together and talked about our teams.  My portion can be found here, his answers are after the jump.


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C70: Besides Roy Oswalt, what one pitcher can you rely on for a quality game?

AC: Ummmm....That's an excellent question. Wandy Rodriguez was solid last season when he wasn't hurt - with a 2.99 ERA at home. But basically it's Roy on Sunday and pray for four days of rain.

C70: Will JR Towles be the catcher and, if so, will he improve on 2008?

AC: No and I hope so. I think the problem with Towles was that he was rushed. He had one game in September 2007 (against St. Louis. Sorry.) where he got eight RBI and was then crowned the heir to Johnny Bench's throne. But he just couldn't put it together, so there are probably three options at catcher ahead of Towles: Humberto Quintero, Toby Hall and Rule 5 pick Lou Palmisano. But Towles will only be 25 this season, so it's not like he doesn't have any chances at starting.

C70: Would the fan base accept Roger Clemens if he wanted to make a return?

AC: I doubt it. It's the same old story with Clemens that, if he had done what Pettitte and Giambi did and just said he was sorry (even if he didn't mean it), things would have been different. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't believe that. But if I am representative of the Astros fan-base - which I like to think I am - then I feel a little embarrassed about drinking the Clemens kool-aid and then things turning out the way they have over the last couple of years.

C70: What's the general opinion about Astro management and ownership?

AC: Well, trading for Miguel Tejada the day before the Mitchell Report came out was something of a stunner. I am privy to absolutely no inside information and I knew Tejada would be in the Mitchell Report.

Currently, I think the general attitude is bewilderment. The farm system is the worst in the Majors - which is an indictment of previous management. I think the Astros are trying to be cautious in the economic climate, but when we hear that Jake Peavy would approve a trade to Houston or Ben Sheets would come to Houston and we get Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz...it's confusing.

Still, Ed Wade had a track record in Philadelphia of success - he just got fired before he could get some credit for it. So I'm pretty happy with management, but ownership has taken some well-deserved lumps.

The problem is that the Astros were really the first team to come out and say, "Look, the economy is awful, we're making some cuts." Now that just about every team - minus the Yankees - is saying the same thing, it's easier to understand. But for a few weeks we were led to believe that the only team operating in the same economy as everyone else was the Astros.

C70: What's the biggest problem facing the Astros going into spring training?

AC: It has to be the rotation.

The bullpen is as solid as any team. The heart of the lineup looks good on paper - Berkman, Lee, Pence and Tejada somewhere in there. Bourn, simply through the law of averages, has to play better. Matsui shouldn't be dealing with a cracked anus (yeah, I said it).

But as I mentioned, the rotation currently is Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler and Brandon Backe. Backe will be a couple of years removed from Tommy John surgery in '09, so everyone is expecting - or at least hoping - for a turnaround for him. But the rotation doesn't exactly inspire dreams of playing in October.

Thanks to James for his input and I expect we'll hear more from him when the Cards and Astros get together this year.  As he says, that lineup still worries you, but the rotation has some hitters chomping at the bit to get up to the plate.


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Eager to see the Astros And Cardinal fight against each other to battle it out at the field.

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
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Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
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Shelby Miller (3)
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Allen Craig (2)
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Tyler Lyons (2)
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Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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