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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Nostradamus Still Works Here. And He's Pi$$ed Off.

After Special K connected in the first inning for only his ninth dinger of the year--wow, he sure was a productive slugging free-agent, wasn't he?--the score stood Astros 3, Mets 0. I'm not exactly sure why, but I knew at the time that we probably wouldn't score again. The question becomes one of whether the lead could hold up.

Of course... it didn't. As soon as Xavier Nady launched Brandon Backe's slider into orbit, the lead (and the game) were both gone. Sure enough, we couldn't muster any more runs, despite the bullpen's five effective (if more exciting than necessary) shutout innings.

My favorite inning had to have been the fourth. With two men on and no outs, everybody's favorite whipping boy Ausmus grounded into a double play to kill the potential rally. Never-Hit--not wanting to get left out of the fun--made darn sure that the rally was good and dead by swinging wildly at the ever-elusive rally with his bat following up with a swinging strikeout.

(By the way, Tim McCarver impliedly blamed the Nady game-losing homer on Ausmus, who had called for a slider while setting up on the inside part of the plate. "That pitch isn't designed to have the catcher set up inside.") Ausmus tried to redeem himself by "throwing out" Reyes at second, although replays showed that Reyes was--in fact--safe.

As bad as Ausmus was--and I'm inclined not to give him credit for his ninth-inning "hit" inasmuch as Wagner probably should have snagged it--he wasn't the low point. Nope, that dubious distinction belongs to the announcing duo of Buck & McCarver. While an improvement over that complete embarassment Josh Lewin, Joe & Tim made the regrettable decision to have Meat Loaf (WTF?) up in the booth for an inning. As if that weren't a poor enough decision, Joe then decided to try and "sing" along with him. That was awful, and it caused me to stab my eardrums with a pencil until they bled and I lost my hearing. WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE ANSWER THAT DAMN PHONE?

This team blows chunks.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Different Team, Same Result

New York Metropolitans 7, Houston Disastros zero. Do I have to show my disgust for this one with the same level of sarcasm I did following the last game against the Cubs?

*sigh* We muscled up to slug our way to all of four hits and a total of six baserunners. By contrast, the Magnet served up seven runs in five innings, including a big old grand salami to that most feared of sluggers, Jose Valentin. That raised his ERA (5.65) up above the Brad Lidge Line (5.60). Somewhere--as though I didn't know that he's sitting in a hotel room in Round Rock--Magic Audrey Rodriguez is getting a chuckle out of this. "Oh, and I'm the one who needed to be sent down?"

Bravo, gentlemen. Teams have to be just salivating to see us on the schedule. We're the ultimate pick-me-up for a struggling pitcher. It doesn't matter if he's blown chunks all season long--we'll make him out to be Cy Young, both on and off the field.

I'm sure there will be plenty of excuses offered in tomorrow's paper, such as "They just hit some good pitches," or "we've just got to tip our caps to that guy [Mets starter Maine] because he made good pitches, etc.", "they made the plays and we didn't," etc. What they should be saying is, "Well, they're a good baseball club... and we f--king SUCK."

Question: How Bad Is This Team?

Answer: Real, REAL bad.
Here's some trivial "fun" for all of us to contemplate:
1) Out of 22 chances with men in scoring position in our recent series loss to the Baby Bears, the Disastros managed to push across all of ONE run.
2) As Shafty so eloquently pointed out already, we had multiple situations where there were men on first and second with no out and couldn't get a run in.
3) Brad Ausmus needs to go away. I'm sorry. I admire the guy for what he's done and for how he supposedly handles pitchers. But let's take a look at dear ole' Brad (disclaimer... I'm sure he's a very nice guy, but that doesn't make him a good ballplayer):
BA: .243
OBP: .308
SLG: .303
K: 44
BB: 21
SB (against): 45
CS (against): 11
That's 11 of 56 that he's thrown out, for a whopping .196 throwout percentage. Only weak-ass Piazza is worse. And let's take a quick sec to ponder how "well" our pitching staff has been handled... hhhhmmmm... I frequently catch Ausmus looking over to the dugout for pitch calls. I also see him being quite predictable with calling a steady diet fastballs... whether the other team is hitting them or not.
What's more, I heard Jim Deshaies talking about how Marty Barrett is catching (pardon the pun) some heat in Chicago for not being a very good defensive catcher (as if that's the reason they suck). Well, Marty's throwout percentage is better than Ass-munch's (thank you, neighbor Brian for that wonderful nickname). Nevermind that Marty's offensive stats are WAY better than Brad's.
4) Gar[d]ner has fallen victim to over-managing. He's trying to do too much. That's the quickest way, in my opinion, to manage yourself out of a job. Look, you've got to stick with your lineup and hope they'll come around.* You also HAVE to win series! For crying out loud, if you're going to sit Biggio, don't freaking sit Skullcap! Put him in CF and let Luke use the Force in LF. Sit The Swinging Bunter. (*see below)
5) Suckitte needs to shape up or ship out. I'm sick of excuses. I'm sick of talking around the subject. A veteran freaking pitcher is telling the papers that he didn't know where the ball was going to go when he threw it. WTFITS?
The Lineup as It Should Be
1) Bidge - 2B
2) Sparkplug - CF
3) Fat Elvis - RF
4) Lambo - 1B
5) Huff n' Stuff - 3B
6) Skullcap - LF
7) Munson - C (I believe that more AB's will show more production)
8) Everett - SS
9) Pitcher
If you have to sit Bidge, you rotate Scottwalker in at LF, move Special K to CF, and Sparkplug to 2B.
Dammit... WIN!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cubs 4, Astros... not so much.

Whee, losing to the Cubs NEVER gets old! Today, the local boys relished the opportunity to repay Carlos Zambrano for the embarassment that was the one-hit, eight strikeout shutout he dropped on them on June 5th.

And boy, did they show HIM what was what: today, we got TWO hits off of him. And we struck out TEN times. I'm sort of having trouble figuring out which of the innings was my favorite of the game. The fifth?
Huff 'n Stuff walks, breaking up the perfect game.
Luke Scott singles, breaking up the no-hitter.
With two men on, Ausmus strikes out looking on four pitches.
With two men on, Never-Hit strikes out looking, on FIVE pitches.
With two men on, Willy T. hits a real scorcher of a groundout to first base.
Or perhaps it was the seventh inning?
Berkman walks.
Huff n' Stuff walks.
With two men on, Scott flies out to center.
With two men on, Ausmus strikes out looking on four pitches. (Where have I seen that one before?)
With two men on, Munson (pinch-hitting) strikes out on four pitches.
How about the ninth?
Huff n' Stuff flies out to left.
Scott singles.
Ausmus flies out to center. (Good game there, pal.)
Munson walks.
With two men on, Taveras grounds out to the pitcher to end the game.
Cletus, for his part, coughed up back-to-back jacks to Barrett and E-Ramis. Then, when faced with bases loaded in the fifth inning and goofy-looking screwup young prospect Matt Murton at the plate, Cletus heroically walked the relative lightweight (all of four dingers on the season; slugging .375) on five pitches, forcing in the Cubs' fifth run. Brav-o!

The "silver lining," as it were, is that Magic Audrey was optioned to AAA after the game to make room for AA pitcher Matt Albers, of whom the following was said:
"I think his pitching makeup we think will allow him to go into the bullpen and help us out. His arm bounces back really, really good. He can go 110 pitches and feel hardly anything the next day. You look at those type of things."
Not that he'd ever get the opportunity to throw 110 pitches, with Gar[d]ner around. As solid as Clemens had looked through six, Gar[d]ner nonetheless pulled him after 85 pitches for stud pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro, who flied out to left to drop his average to .219 or some crap.

If my count is correct, we still have to open up one more spot to make room for Brandon Backe, who's slated to start in New York on Saturday. Magic Audrey was the most likely choice; now that Albers is up, whose head is on the chopping block next? Or is there a two-for-one or such trade out there that hasn't been announced yet?

Either way, having flunked the exam against the worst team in the National League (even if the Pirates' record is nominally worse), we now go on to face the best team in the league. Oh, this should be fun.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Phat-C's Astro Thoughts

Top to bottom, here we go... childrens, cover your ears (or eyes, as it may be).
I hate it that the headline for yesterday's disaster on the Astros' website describes the club as "victimized" by the long ball. No, you weren't "victimized." After pounding the ever-living shite out of the Marlins, you bent over, grabbed your ankles, and... well, you know. Stupid.
1. Ausmus - look, I can tolerate your "hitting" (that is to say, the fact that you don't hit and were obviously in faerie land in April)... it's your defense that's kept you on the team. So why is it that of this "run-saving" defense of yours, the only thing that remains is your ability to block the ball? I mean seriously, dude... have you thrown anyone out?
2. Ensberg - will the Body Snatcher that took Morgan please return him? We could sure use him about now. Bizarro Morgan's about hit my last nerve. But then again, he's on the 15-day DL, so whatever.
3. Everett - you're the bomb, dude. Thanks for making plays that keep us from getting blown out in every game. Now if you can just keep hitting, that'd be great.
4. Lidge - pack your bags, punk.
5. Miller - see Lidge.
6. Rodriguez - see Miller.
7. Taveras - you went from being the bomb to being a blowout. Dude, they KNOW you now... mix it up a little. You'd better learn to hit, or you'll be on the plane with 4-6 above. Seriously, I'm willing to give you the rest of the season and the beginning of next year; but you'd better get it together! Freaking hit the ball out of the infield for crying out loud!
Gar[d]ner: Please, please PLEASE... stop using SCRUBS like Miller, Lidge, and Wandy (who's proven he's the Latin Jeriome). They're KILLING us. Guys like this bring teams down (much like Snaggletooth... a.k.a. Tim Redding). Also, please stop mixing the lineup so drastically! If you want to rest one or two guys, fine. But don't tinker us to losses!!!!
That's all I can stomach for now. I'm so freaking going to quit this crap. The boys have a day to contemplate whether they can spread their "run" production out over Marmol, Maddux, and Zambrano. So help me, if we lose the series to the Cubs... you might not hear from me for a LONG, LONG while.