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2009 Houston Astros: Spring Training news & notes


We are nearly a third of the way through this years extended spring training and so far ... no good. In a recent interview with Astros skipper, Cecil Cooper, he described his mood as “raging.” The Astros horrible fielding, inadequate pitching and poor hitting has buried the Astros under a 1-8-1 record in Grapefruit League action. Nobody expect to have astounding numbers every spring, but this year is far from the norm for many Astros regulars.

Houston Astros hats & merchandise Now, I did not expect any of the Astros players to be producing at all-star levels at this point in spring training, but the Astros play to this point can be described as a mixture of the Bad News Bears meets Bull Durham. The only thing missing is to have “Nuke” Laloosh show up to intentionally bean the mascot while wearing a uniform emblazoned with ‘ Chico’s Bail Bonds” on the back where the name placard should be. Opposing teams have teed off on the Astros pitching staff and the Astros hitters have been stepping up to plate and swinging the bat like a drunk fisherman learning how to fly-fish for the first time. Suffice it to say, spring training has been miserable so far for the Astros players, manager, coaches, GM and owner.

Not everybody has performed poorly. Reggie Abercrombie has performed quite well, but will be sidelined the next few weeks with a fracture in his foot. Chris Johnson has impressed in his first big league spring training camp, making many take notice. Johnson isn’t likely to be on the 25 man roster when camp breaks, but he is turning heads, including assistant GM Ricky Bennett who said of Johnson, "We're keeping an open mind on how he performs in camp, and if he shows us that he's physically and mentally ready for the big leagues, we will give it strong consideration." Quite a conundrum is forming in the running for the third base job. Aaron Boone was brought in as a veteran presence behind starter Geoff Blum, but neither appears to be capable of the full time gig, as showcased in their combined in the 2-29 hitting display this spring. Surely, if this type of production continues, Cecil Cooper and GM Ed Wade have to seriously consider eating the $750,000.00 guaranteed contract that was offered to Boone and just release him.

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It is still far too early to really and accurately evaluate the entire team until all the pitchers have started to stretch their arms to 6+ innings and you start to field your regular lineup for more than two or three innings at a time. But, things look really bleak right now in Florida and if the team doesn’t start coming around soon, Cecil Cooper might be starting to wonder if the warm feeling he is getting is from the spring heat or from the hot seat that he’s sitting in. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from a pessimist when it comes to the Astros, but it’s hard to look at the glass as half full when it’s filled with soured milk.


By: Jordan Fleck
MLBcenter.com Houston Astros correspondent

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