Houston Astros Update & Predictions
As the Astros embark on the remainder of the regular season, fans must remember that, although we have completed the first 25 games of the season, the season is far from over, and we have truly just begun. Through the first 25 games we can begin to analyze the statistics and tendencies of a baseball team, but still, 25 games is still not a large enough sampling size to compare this year’s team to previous versions. It does not in any way mean that we can not feel disappointed when our team loses or exuberant when our team wins. It simply means that you should wait a few more weeks before retiring that Lance Berkman jersey to the back of the closet in favor of wearing that Houston Texans jersey that has been sitting there the past few months.
Through the first 25 games, we can start to draw some conclusions about the Astros and the direction in which they are heading, but remember that they are only conclusions. Nothing has been written in stone. The Astros finished up the weekend with a series win against the Atlanta Braves, something that they had not accomplished since 2004. They are winners of five of their last seven games and head into Washington to play the NL East bottom dwelling, Washington Nationals. The Astros are one of the leagues worst at scoring runs in the majors (28th) and as a team they are batting a combined .256. The pitching staff has allowed 114 runs (19th) while posting a 4.34 ERA (14th) through the first month of the season. So, what conclusion can we draw from this? Mediocre pitching coupled with a struggling offense, does not a winning record make.
Do not take any of this out of context. The Astros starting pitchers have been extremely effective and it has been the bullpen, the supposed strength of the team that has faltered in the early stages of the season. You could blame it on injuries, as Doug Brocail, Brian Moehler, Chris Sampson and Jose Valverde have spent some time of the 15 day DL, but it would be sincere injustice to this team to blame just the pitching staff. The Astros hitters have not produced. Lance Berkman is batting .198 and Miguel Tejada, although he is hitting .286, has zero home runs and only 5 RBI on the season. Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger, who are sharing time at third base this season, have combined to hit 1 home run and 7 RBI through 25 games. To say that the Astros have struggled would be an understatement.
So, what would you do to fix this? This is what I think that the Astros need to do to get back to their winning ways, be patient. The Astros hitters will come around, especially Berkman, and although we may not get a large contribution from Blum and Keppinger in the power department, both are patient hitters and will continue to contribute with their bats. You have to assume that Tejada will begin to hit for a bit more power and Pence will continue his development. Bourn will eventually replace Kaz Matsui in the leadoff position and the pitching staff will get healthy once again.
Here are a few observations and a couple of fearless predictions:
Roy Oswalt: Because of the rain shortened start in Atlanta on Saturday, Oswalt will start on Tuesday in Washington against the Nationals. Roy is winless in 4 starts against the Nationals, but will pick up his first win tonight.
Lance Berkman: Although he is batting a minuscule .198, Lance Berkman is due for a breakout of his current slump. Fearless Prediction #1: Berkman goes on a tear over the next twenty games that starts tonight in Washington.
Cecil Cooper: Coop has never really seemed comfortable as manger of the Astros, but got a vote of confidence form the organization when he gat a contract extension at he beginning of the season. Coop has to be a little worried that his job is not all that secure, contract extension or not.
Fearless Prediction #2: The Astros will have a winning record through May and put some ease in fans minds, and Coopers. The Astros play 14 games against division opponents in May and could climb out of the cellar with series wins Against the Cubs, Pirates, Brewers and Reds.
Fearless Prediction #3: All of my predictions fall flat on their preverbal faces and the Astros continue to freefall, prompting the Astros to fire Cecil Cooper and Drayton McClane, release Miguel Tejada and trade Carlos Lee to the Yankees for prospects.
By: Jordan Fleck
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