Posted on February 17, 2009 at 3:30 PMAs 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.
Filed Under: Houston Astros
| Playing Pepper
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
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
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.