Time to break out the voodoo doll.

This morning I told Cecil Cooper that the odds were overwhelmingly in the Astros favor, considering they were playing two games that day. That pretty much doubled their chances to win, right?

In a nutshell, no. The Kissimmee side lost to the Philies, 5-2, and those who traveled to Tampa to play the Yankees lost, 3-1.

So the Astros are 1-13-1. How bad is it? It depends on who you ask. Coop is having a hard time with this, but if you go into the clubhouse, you’d find a much different take on this Grapefruit League season. You would actually find people who don’t even know the Astros have won only one game.

Lance Berkman, who is aware of the record, reminded Coop about the 1998 Yankees, who won 114 games during the regular season and nearly swept their way through the playoffs.

How is that team similar to your 2009 Houston Astros? According to Berkman, quoting his good friend Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte, the ’98 Yankees had “the worst Spring Training in Yankee history.”

I can’t find what the Yankees record was that spring, but I’ll take Berkman’s word for it. Berkman also issued a friendly reminder to his manager: “We are 0-0.” Meaning, once Opening Day gets here, this nightmare of a spring season will be forgotten.

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Posted on the bulletin board in the Astros’ clubhouse was a note indicating everyone is going to Disney on Sunday. Everyone — as in every position player and every pitcher scheduled to pitch. Usually a handful of players will stay behind and work out at the home facility. Not this time; Coop is obviousy steamed, and Sunday’s game with the Braves is going to be a group effort in its most literal sense. We’ll see how that goes.

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Russ Ortiz wasn’t happy with himself after his start against the Phillies.

“I was terrible,” he said. “I was just bad.”

Ortiz allowed three runs over 3 2/3 innings, walked three and struck out two.

“I didn’t come here just to go through the motions,” he said, when asked if he felt like his chances to make the club were diminished after this outing. “I came here to throw and throw well, and be healthy. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve said it before, yea, I want to be on the team, and my goal is to be on the team first and foremost.”

Jose Capellan is scheduled to start Sunday’s game in Atlanta. This is getting interesting.

9 Comments

I am starting to think that we are making more out of this losing than needs to be. Even when we lose all of them, they still don’t mean sqaut. The only difference these games will make is if the players allow these games affect them opening day.

So if the players start to panic and make these losses bigger than they need to be then I can see this snowball and affect the season. If anything Coop should just downplay these and don’t let them take on a life of their own.

Lets just all take a deep breath and focus on the individuals and not the team. The team starts to get measured opening day, right now its only the players, and really we pretty much know what we are going to get out of most of the positions.

Hi Alyson,
Do you think the fact that the opening day lineup is already mostly set and there aren’t many spots up for grabs may be affecting the competitiveness the players have?

Don’t tell Lance, but in 1998 the Yankees went 15-12 in Spring Training according to Spring Training magazine (http://www.springtrainingmagazine.com/history5.html). We’ve already lost more games than that.

Alyson,

I think Berkman has mistaken 1998 with 2001. In 98′ the Yankees went 15-12, which was a higher winning pct than they had in 96′ or 94′. In 01′ they went 9-20, easily their lowest from what I’ve seen. They finished the regular season 95-65, they didn’t win the World Series but we all know how close it was.

I found all of the Spring Training records from 1984-2006 here: http://www.springtrainingmagazine.com/history5.html

I agree with bklewis. Of course all of these losses are frustrating, but Coop making a huge deal about it is only going to put more pressure on the players and potentially get in their heads. The last thing we need is the entire team pressing, overthinking, and getting into bad habits before the season even begins. I’m glad to hear Berkman isn’t taking their record to heart, hopefully no one in the starting lineup is, they need to stay loose.

I’m not all that concerned about the losses or the batting averages. I’m pretty confident that Berkman, Lee, Miggy, Pence, Boone/Blum, and Matsui won’t be hitting in the .100-.200 range all season. Hitting is contagious, and I wouldn’t mind if this slump continued throughout March if it meant we’d have better starts than we have the last two years.

What happened to John Gall’s stats?

We played around .500 in ST in most of our good years, but the Astros were 9-18 in ST in 1986.

Since the addition of Wild Cards, teams that finish 8 or more games under .500 in Spring Training are 6-for-44 (13.6%) in actually making the playoffs.

Teams at least 7 games under .500 or better are 106-for-370 (28.6%) in gettin to the playoffs.

So, if you put any importance on ST then you have to think that this performance cuts their playoff hopes in half. :)

I never really put any weight on ST performance except in cases where the performance is abysmal… and this one has been in that category so far.

See, that’s why I was hesitant to print Lance’s ’98 Yankees comment without verifying it first. Oh well, it made for a good story and I think it comforted Coop for at least a few minutes. I can hardly wait to get down to the field and tell Coop the Yankees were actually pretty good that spring.

I never worry too much when hitters aren’t hitting during Spring Training. Berkman and Lee aren’t going to hit .100 during the regular season, that, of course, is a ridiculous notion.

To me, it’s all about pitching and that’s why I’m slightly concerned with what’s going on this year. That said, if Wandy can stay healthy and Hampton does what he’s supposed to do, I think the Astros will be OK.

The dugout is going to be crowded today, with every position player making this trip to Disney.

Looks like now the best we can hope for is a little worse than a 9-18-1 record such as what we had in ’86. Let’s just hope it means we’ll have a better year than we did in ’86, cuz if so count me in!

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