Where do the Astros go from here?

Around the seventh inning last night, I posed that very question to our Twitter nation. The instructions are simple: given the current state of the Astros — 13-26 record, a 3-5 road trip that ended with five consecutive losses — if you were running the Astros, what would you do?

I’m not looking at a long-term solution. We have gone over those elements time and time again and by now, we all know the mantra: draft well. Sign the picks. Develop their own talent. Build from within. We get it. They’re doing that.

No, in this particular exercise, I’m talking about the here and now. We’re about a quarter of the way through the season and very few tweaks have been made to the roster thus far. Should there be changes made? And if so, what?

A few ground rules before we get started:
1. Please refrain from the “Fire this guy, fire that guy, fire everyone” blanket statements.
2. Carlos Lee is untradeable. No team is interested in a .190 hitter making $18.5 million a year. And even if there was an interested team, which there is not, Carlos can say, “No thanks,” which he will. So let’s not waste our time trying to hypothetically find him a new home, because there isn’t one.
3. On that note, I’m not looking for suggestions as to what they should do closer to the trade deadline. I’m not looking for the big picture stuff. I realize Roy Oswalt has the highest trade value and Puma would be willing to listen if the Astros approached him. I’m talking in the simplest of terms — what would you do, today? Picture yourself in a meeting with the Astros brass and you’re exchanging ideas. What would you suggest? Tweak the roster? Or stay the course? And if you tweak, where? Whom?

Most scenarios would involve the Round Rock club, so a few notes there: Edwin Maysonet is on the shelf with a hammy problem. Osvaldo Navarro, a non-roster invitee during Spring Training, is a utility infielder type who’s having a nice season, hitting around .300, after starting a couple of weeks late with an injury. Wesley Wright has been pretty good this year, but he had a bad outing Tuesday — six earned runs over three innings with five walks.

I’ve gone over different scenarios in my head and I don’t know if there is a definitive answer as to what could or should happen to get this team moving in the right direction. But when I look at the makeup of the current team, here are the glaring issues:

In the category of “So Obvious I Can’t Believe I’m Actually Repeating It”:The middle of the order is the reason this team is losing. That’s it, plain and simple. Sure, some of the pitchers have had some stinkers from time to time, and the defense hasn’t been as good as we expected when Spring Training began. But this team is built on a few constants: Roy and Wandy being Roy and Wandy (check), a strong back of the bullpen in Lyon and Lindstrom (check) and a strong middle of the order. And so far, the middle of the order has been absent. Without some combination of Berkman, Lee and Pence resembling something close to what the back of their bubblegum cards say, this team isn’t going to win. And, obviously, six weeks in, it’s not.

What happens when the run producers aren’t producing? Shortcomings of the other position players are magnified. It’s unfair, sure, but it’s also inevitable. It happened eight years ago when Ensberg and Everett were shipped out because Bagwell and Biggio weren’t hitting, and it’s happening now, just with a different cast of characters.

It’s all well and good that Jeff Keppinger and Geoff Blum are getting more playing time, because they’re producing pretty consistently on an offensive level. But here’s the problem, friends — THEY’RE BENCH PLAYERS. And when you put your strong bench players into the lineup, that means your bench is made up of starters who have played their way out of being starters. And they’re not much more effective on the bench. And now, you have a problem.

So on any given night, the Astros bench might consist of Kaz Matsui, who’s hitting around .150, Tommy Manzella, who’s a young player who needs to be playing every day and is not experienced enough to be a part-time hitter, and one of the two catchers who’s not starting that day. The only two bench players who are actually, well, bench players, are Jason Michaels and Cory Sullivan, and they’re doing fine in their roles.

The bench is where I think the team needs to re-evaluate. Some of you might want Paulino or Norris to go to Triple-A to “work on things” as they say in the biz, but my reaction to that is a non-committal, “meh.” It’s not the worst thing that can happen but quite frankly, nothing in Round Rock is giving me reason to think bringing up someone new is a better option than to continue to run two very promising arms out there, have them work with a very, very good pitching coach, and hope they figure it out as they go through the season.

My suggestion is to try to construct a bench with players who can truly perform in that capacity. The requirements are: can pinch-hit, can enter games as defensive replacements and can make the occasional spot start.

Is the team better off with Chris Johnson (who’s hitting well for Round Rock since returning from injury) in the big leagues? Would a player such as Navarro, who fits the general bill as a utility man, be a better option than, say, Matsui, as a part-time player?

One more thing — I do not favor the idea of bringing up Jason Castro at this time. First of all, he’s had his own offensive issues in Triple-A, where he’s starting to work out of what has been a very slow start to the season. But more than anything, I do not think it’s a good idea — in fact, I feel that it’s a terrible idea — to bring him into this mess. He’ll have enough pressure on him when he finally does make it to the big leagues. If you bring him up now, there will be this expectation for him to save the day, save the team, save the season. That’s way too much for the kid. If he doesn’t hit immediately, then what?

I’ve posed enough questions. So I ask you — minus the “fire this guy and that guy” and “trade Carlos” demands, what, if anything, should the Astros do?

_______________

So I’m sitting on the plane right now and it’s 2:28 a.m. CT. We’re pretty much on schedule, which would normally be a good thing, if not for the fact that “on schedule” means “landing at 5:15 a.m.” Normally, host teams will usually schedule a day game when the visiting club has a long flight and a game the next day, but the Dodgers had other plans. So instead, we’re taking the proverbial red-eye, flying 3 1/2 hours through the night, skipping two time zones and landing right around when the sun’s coming up in Houston.

These red-eyes are rare, and being the superstitious and sometimes cynical baseball vet that I am, I naturally assumed the game in L.A. was going to go 14 innings, forcing us to begin our travels home two hours later than scheduled. That happened about 10 years ago when the Astros played a night game in Arizona and had to fly to Kansas City, where they had a night game the next day. The game against the D-backs went 11 or 12 innings and we ended up getting to the hotel in K.C. around 7 a.m. The reason I remember this is because after that first game, we got back to the hotel and not only did I not remember what room I was in, I didn’t even know which floor I was on. The next morning, I woke up and couldn’t remember what city I was in.

It happens. It’s baseball.

30 Comments

I’m not sure I buy that Castro is actually struggling at Round Rock. His plate discipline has been good; he’s putting balls in play and drawing walks. His offensive performance in April seems mostly bad luck-driven. He is also hitting .343 with an .839 OPS his last 10 games.I don’t know when the cutoff would be for super two eligibility, and I suppose he doesn’t need to come up before whenever that is, but once we get to that point I think he should be called up immediately. Cash hits like a pitcher and his defense is bad, aside from his gamecalling/pitch framing skills.As for changes? Well, play Tommy Manzella every day, for one thing. I know he’s not hitting, but he needs to get playing time to work through it, not sit on the bench half the time in favor of a guy who doesn’t belong at shortstop, ever (Jeff Keppinger). Also, Keppinger is not, in fact, producing offensively anymore. His .676 OPS is well below major league average. His glove is a liability and has inflated the earned run averages of Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino.Beyond that? Well, let’s be frank. We’re not going to contend. I’m not concerned with winning games so much as developing players and giving the young guys (especially Norris and Paulino) the greatest chance to succeed. So any changes we make should not be of the shortsighted “DFA Towles” variety. Let’s not replace struggling youngsters with bad veterans. Stay the course and look forward to 2012 and 2013 when things will finally be getting better.

I think in the short term that Chris Johnson should be up here. Yeah, he’s gonna take his lumps and it’s not the best environment, but I think it’s going to be a few years before this is a good, non-losing environment again, and he’s going to be a part of it. Manzella definitely needs to be playing regularly, as much to get his defensive confidence back as find some offense – send him to Round Rock. Blum is actually a pretty decent defensive second baseman in his career, so I’d prefer to see him there regularly than Matsui and have Keppinger be the regular shortstop. I’m not sure you can DFA Matsui yet, because if either Keppinger or Blum is hurt, it leaves you a little thin in the middle, but no way should Matsui be leaving the bench under any other circumstances.

Lee, Berkman, Pence, Towles – you have to take what they give you, there’s no “better” players to replace any of them (I agree with you that Castro should not be brought up into the current environment). I think you have to consider trading all of them come deadline time though, including Pence. He’s 27, he probably still has perceived value to other teams despite his slow start, and this team has far too many holes to fill to consider anyone off limits. Obviously, you have to be able to field a team tomorrow, though, so it’s a balancing act. And you’re right, no GM in his right mind will take Lee.

In a few years, this team will be built around Jio Mier, Castro, and hopefully one of the pitchers like Lyles or Lo, and we’ll be back to the winning ways we’re used to. With or without the vets, this team is not going to win this year and may not win next year either with St. Louis always a power and the Reds a newly emerging threat.

So I guess as GM for a day, I’d say lets put the pieces we have in place to compete as best we can today, which we all need to admit is not going to lead to a lot of winning, and make sure the guys who are the future are not only ready themselves but also do what we can to get a few extra guys into that mix, even at the expense of this year’s team, to ensure that enough guys are ready when the time comes that we can take back this division.

Since we have absolutely nothing to lose, what’s the only thing you can do? Let the kids play. Let them get MLB at bats and experience while there’s nothing to lose/play for.

Man, if I made $18 million a year to only produce two out of ten times I did something, the world would be a better place.

1. Release Kaz Matsui. It sends a message to fans that Ed Wade realizes that he goofed on that one. Astros fans are sick of the rhetoric. Be honest, make the necessary changes…we might just come back to the ball park. Maysonet plays second.

2. Send Manzella down, and give Sutil a shot. It couldn’t be any worse than what’s going on right now, and he is already on the 40-man.

3. Inquire on the availability of Alex Gordon of the Royals. He isn’t getting everyday at-bats, and the Astros don’t have a long-term solution at 3B. Sorry, CJ is not a prospect. His peripheral stats are terrible, and we all know that you can be fooled by spring training performances.

4. Play for future. Anthony Rendon sure would look good in an Astros uniform, but that will require the worst record in the league. Trade what you can, and admit to yourself: We don’t have a chance of competing this year.

5. DO NOT take Norris or Paulino out of the rotation. You have to see if Arnsberg can get them on track. He’s the best in the business…let him do his job.

6. What ever salary can be dumped, dump it. Give the proceeds to Bobby Heck, Felix Linares, and Glen Barker to go shopping.

7. Bring up Bogusevic and sit Carlos 3 times a week. I know, that seems crazy, but you may push Carlos to be more amenable to a trade, and you get to evaluate Bogusevic against quality pitching. Is he a starter or 4/5th outfielder. You won’t learn that while he is at RR.

I would trade the Wizard, Berkman, Feliz, and Blum. I would get what I could for them, but not be too quick to pull the trigger.

I would hit Pence 3rd. Kep would start every day. I would have Q be the starting catcher. I would promote johnson to start, promote shelton to take Puma’s place, put mohler back in the rotation- for now- and see what happens.

So, to recap, that would leave us with a starting lineup of Bourne, Keppinger, Pence, Lee, Shelton, Johnson, Quintero, Manzella, Pitcher.

I don’t want to do this, but it needs to be done.

1) Release Matsui, as a trade to anyone isn’t possible. Kepp and Blum share time at 2nd.
2) Bring up Chris Johnson to take Kaz’s roster spot.
3) Leave Manzella at short, he isn’t helping us, but he isn’t killing us. (ie, astros won with everett at short)
4) Get J Mike into the outfield more, sit Carlos and Pence 1 game a week, this will create 2 starts a week for Michaels.
5) Go to a 4 man rotation when we have a day off, alternate skipping Norris & Paulino (get them a simulated game when they are skipped)…this will get Oswalt some games against someone other than the other teams ace. I know he is tired of losing 1-0, 2-1. This will increase our winnable games….I’d rather go 2-3 than 0-5. Give us a shot at winning…shake up the rotation!
6) Give away tickets, astros home record is horrible, the attendance is laughable…get fans in the park and wake up the players, close the roof and get loud!
7) 15-30 in ’05 to the pennant…I realize the pitching was great, but this year starting pitching isn’t the problem. Don’t give up just yet!
8) Mandatory batting practice everyday…including Sundays…this team needs it.
9) I’ve got nothing else…Wade is doing what he can with the cards Purpura delt him.
10) Do not trade Berkman or Pence unless you want the stadium completely empty for the rest of the year. (its about half full now)

1) Release Matsui, as a trade to anyone isn’t possible. Kepp and Blum share time at 2nd.
2) Bring up Chris Johnson to take Kaz’s roster spot.
3) Leave Manzella at short, he isn’t helping us, but he isn’t killing us. (ie, astros won with everett at short)
4) Get J Mike into the outfield more, sit Carlos and Pence 1 game a week, this will create 2 starts a week for Michaels.
5) Go to a 4 man rotation when we have a day off, alternate skipping Norris & Paulino (get them a simulated game when they are skipped)…this will get Oswalt some games against someone other than the other teams ace. I know he is tired of losing 1-0, 2-1. This will increase our winnable games….I’d rather go 2-3 than 0-5. Give us a shot at winning…shake up the rotation!
6) Give away tickets, astros home record is horrible, the attendance is laughable…get fans in the park and wake up the players, close the roof and get loud!
7) 15-30 in ’05 to the pennant…I realize the pitching was great, but this year starting pitching isn’t the problem. Don’t give up just yet!
8) Mandatory batting practice everyday…including Sundays…this team needs it.
9) I’ve got nothing else…Wade is doing what he can with the cards Purpura delt him.
10) Do not trade Berkman or Pence unless you want the stadium completely empty for the rest of the year. (its about half full now)

1) Release Matsui, as a trade to anyone isn’t possible. Kepp and Blum share time at 2nd.
2) Bring up Chris Johnson to take Kaz’s roster spot.
3) Leave Manzella at short, he isn’t helping us, but he isn’t killing us. (ie, astros won with everett at short)
4) Get J Mike into the outfield more, sit Carlos and Pence 1 game a week, this will create 2 starts a week for Michaels.
5) Go to a 4 man rotation when we have a day off, alternate skipping Norris & Paulino (get them a simulated game when they are skipped)…this will get Oswalt some games against someone other than the other teams ace. I know he is tired of losing 1-0, 2-1. This will increase our winnable games….I’d rather go 2-3 than 0-5. Give us a shot at winning…shake up the rotation!
6) Give away tickets, astros home record is horrible, the attendance is laughable…get fans in the park and wake up the players, close the roof and get loud!
7) 15-30 in ’05 to the pennant…I realize the pitching was great, but this year starting pitching isn’t the problem. Don’t give up just yet!
8) Mandatory batting practice everyday…including Sundays…this team needs it.
9) I’ve got nothing else…Wade is doing what he can with the cards Purpura delt him.
10) Do not trade Berkman or Pence unless you want the stadium completely empty for the rest of the year. (its about half full now)

1) Release Matsui, as a trade to anyone isn’t possible. Kepp and Blum share time at 2nd.
2) Bring up Chris Johnson to take Kaz’s roster spot.
3) Leave Manzella at short, he isn’t helping us, but he isn’t killing us. (ie, astros won with everett at short)
4) Get J Mike into the outfield more, sit Carlos and Pence 1 game a week, this will create 2 starts a week for Michaels.
5) Go to a 4 man rotation when we have a day off, alternate skipping Norris & Paulino (get them a simulated game when they are skipped)…this will get Oswalt some games against someone other than the other teams ace. I know he is tired of losing 1-0, 2-1. This will increase our winnable games….I’d rather go 2-3 than 0-5. Give us a shot at winning…shake up the rotation!
6) Give away tickets, astros home record is horrible, the attendance is laughable…get fans in the park and wake up the players, close the roof and get loud!
7) 15-30 in ’05 to the pennant…I realize the pitching was great, but this year starting pitching isn’t the problem. Don’t give up just yet!
8) Mandatory batting practice everyday…including Sundays…this team needs it.
9) I’ve got nothing else…Wade is doing what he can with the cards Purpura delt him.
10) Do not trade Berkman or Pence unless you want the stadium completely empty for the rest of the year. (its about half full now)

1) Release Matsui, as a trade to anyone isn’t possible. Kepp and Blum share time at 2nd.
2) Bring up Chris Johnson to take Kaz’s roster spot.
3) Leave Manzella at short, he isn’t helping us, but he isn’t killing us. (ie, astros won with everett at short)
4) Get J Mike into the outfield more, sit Carlos and Pence 1 game a week, this will create 2 starts a week for Michaels.
5) Go to a 4 man rotation when we have a day off, alternate skipping Norris & Paulino (get them a simulated game when they are skipped)…this will get Oswalt some games against someone other than the other teams ace. I know he is tired of losing 1-0, 2-1. This will increase our winnable games….I’d rather go 2-3 than 0-5. Give us a shot at winning…shake up the rotation!
6) Give away tickets, astros home record is horrible, the attendance is laughable…get fans in the park and wake up the players, close the roof and get loud!
7) 15-30 in ’05 to the pennant…I realize the pitching was great, but this year starting pitching isn’t the problem. Don’t give up just yet!
8) Mandatory batting practice everyday…including Sundays…this team needs it.
9) I’ve got nothing else…Wade is doing what he can with the cards Purpura delt him.
10) Do not trade Berkman or Pence unless you want the stadium completely empty for the rest of the year. (its about half full now)

1) Release Matsui, as a trade to anyone isn’t possible. Kepp and Blum share time at 2nd.
2) Bring up Chris Johnson to take Kaz’s roster spot.
3) Leave Manzella at short, he isn’t helping us, but he isn’t killing us. (ie, astros won with everett at short)
4) Get J Mike into the outfield more, sit Carlos and Pence 1 game a week, this will create 2 starts a week for Michaels.
5) Go to a 4 man rotation when we have a day off, alternate skipping Norris & Paulino (get them a simulated game when they are skipped)…this will get Oswalt some games against someone other than the other teams ace. I know he is tired of losing 1-0, 2-1. This will increase our winnable games….I’d rather go 2-3 than 0-5. Give us a shot at winning…shake up the rotation!
6) Give away tickets, astros home record is horrible, the attendance is laughable…get fans in the park and wake up the players, close the roof and get loud!
7) 15-30 in ’05 to the pennant…I realize the pitching was great, but this year starting pitching isn’t the problem. Don’t give up just yet!
8) Mandatory batting practice everyday…including Sundays…this team needs it.
9) I’ve got nothing else…Wade is doing what he can with the cards Purpura delt him.
10) Do not trade Berkman or Pence unless you want the stadium completely empty for the rest of the year. (its about half full now)

oh yeah, FIRE SEAN BERRY. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but this team isn’t hitting and he’s the coach for that very thing.

How about trying Pence in the two hole? I don’t believe this has been tried in awhile, possibly not at all under Mills.

He would see more fastballs and could spark the whole situation. I understand originally we needed to lengthen the line-up, but now we need just a couple of additional runs/game.

Keppinger would bat 5th in this scenario.

Arguello (2.90)& Lyles (2.20)for CC are both pitching great with ERA’s under 3.00. Arguello hasnt given up a homer this season & he is a lefty & 6ft 3. I think Lyles pitched a complete game yesterday & won 3 to 1. Koby Clemens leads the league in RBI’s & homers-should be moved up to AAA. The pitchers need to be given a shot!

Turn off the hot water at MMP. Until the astros start winning, they will have cold showers.

My two cents:
*Release Matsui, forget his $5 millions contract. Signing him was a mistake in the 1st place. His offensive struggles from last year are continuing this year and his current 0 for 20 streak makes it really hard to find a reason to keep him. His bunt was terrible last night?the man keeps digging that hole deeper and deeper. Let him go.

* Don?t call Maysonet up! The poor lad is struggling badly and is competing with Delome for who?s gonna get K-ed more often. Make Keppinger our everyday 2nd baseman, which he sort of already is.
* I?m not sold on Navarro just yet; He only has 77 ABs in RR and his record shows that he?s probably way over performing right now. Leave Manzella at SS. He ain?t worth much offensively speaking but he?s worth even less off the bench. Every time he?s reached a higher level in the minors he hit a bump; this is no exception. Let him have his 4 ABs/day and work things out.
*Call Towles back, send Cash packing, leave Castro where he?s at for now.
*Leave Norris and Paulino in the rotation for now. Give them a better chance to iron things out. Don?t call Wright, but Banks may become an interesting option if he keeps it up.
*They paid $4.5 millions for Feliz (another pointless signing) so they might as well play him. Don?t call Johnson up; he needs to work on his plate discipline big time. Right now he K every 4 ABs and he has only 1 BB in 35 BBs?also, Start Blum every now and then.
Domedogs: Gordon is currently playing in AAA as an outfielder because he struggled badly in the ML this season.
* Leave este povre caballito in LF and hope he figures it out and hits his way back into fans? heart? I don?t particularly like him but we?re stuck with him at the very least until the end of this season.
I?d like to see Bogusevic in the ML but it?s probably better for him to get everyday AB in RR for now. He still K too much.

There’s actually very little that can be done. Even our best prospects in the minors are marginal big leaguers, at best, and we just are going to have to take our lumps for 2-3 more years, and I think that time span is optimistic. In the short term, I think it’s time for Roy and Lance to be moved for whatever we can get for them. Realistically, this should have been done years ago, but also it’s probable that neither would have waived his no-trade clause at that time. Trade them now, before one or the other gets hurt, which would destroy their already diminished value. Right now I think they need to address the public relations aspect of this disaster, and that starts with speaking the truth about what we’re all seeing. It’s insulting to the knowledgeable fans to be told that this team is competitive. Clearly it is not, and that was obvious to most of us even coming out of spring training. We need to hear the truth from ownership. We need to hear that there’s awareness that this is a mess, and that it’s going to take time to fix. Don’t try to tell us that this Field of Screams is really a Field of Dreams. Tell us and show us that you’ve learned lessons from the past, and will get it right in the future. I’m sorry if this is short on actual suggestions about roster tweaks, etc., but that is because I really don’t think there’s anything they can do. It’s all about damage control now. I think fans can accept losing (actually they have little choice) as long as they can see management and ownership speaking truth and moving with a consistent approach toward a clearly stated goal.

Not much can be changed at this point. This team only had HOPES of contending. Puma, Lee, Pence,Feliz, Matsui would have had to have banner years. The pitching would have had to pitch to their highest potential. Manzella would have to be great defensively. Hardly any of these have happened. Who could have guessed that they would ALL be off their career averages.
You have to play the cards already in your hands as this time. There are no saviors at AAA or AA yet. Norris and Paulino need to pitch to gain ML experience. Manzella needs to play every day as long as he can do the job on defense (don’t fret abt. low BA). Maybe the middle of the lineup will return to their career level of play. It won’t be easy to improve. We haven’t faced many marginal pitchers. I have been astounded, in fact, at the level of good, young piching in the League. Until we get those type of prospects onto the club, it doesn’t look very promising. I have begun to not worry about winning, but just enjoying watching the game of baseball with all of its great plays within the game. Winning is several years down the road.

I don’t see any quick fix, or even a reasonable improvement from a little juggling. I think Mills is doing what he can, and the dice rolls keep coming up snake eyes. The best we can hope for is the middle of the order to start hitting, and even if they all get hot the odds of getting above .500 by August are slim. Come July, it’s time to get brutally serious about next year…”We’re only two players away from being a contending ballclub, unfortunately they’re Babe Ruth and Cy Young.”

I’m not as well informed as some of these comments are, but I watch the Astros every day and from what I see, this is what i can assume.
1. Feliz is a double play/horrible RISP batter. I didn’t support his signing in the beginning, because what happens every time the Stros try to load up on old talent? He won a WS with the Phillies, and they dropped him, so why take him? Clearly he isn’t a leader, and he’s not producing. That being said, I don’t know if there’s anyone out there that would want him. Chris Johnson should be starting for the same reason that Manzella should be. Get him some time, hope he matures into something you can work with one day. Manzy has shown signs of bein a good hitter. He had a 200+ average at a time, which considering the Astros, is pretty good.
2. NEVER TRADE PENCE. I’m sorry if I’m being too much of a fan, but Pence reminds me of a Biggio, and I loved Biggio. He is one of the FEW pure Astros, drafted by the Astros, once a prospect for the Astros, that actually worked out for us and he’s still only 27. Why would you get rid of Pence? You’re looking for good young prospects, right? Well Pence passed that test, is still good and young, and is getting increasingly better as the season goes on. He leads the team in HRs and BA… DON’T TRADE PENCE! Ever!
3. I haven’t completely given up hope in the Astros yet. Its insane to think that Berk/Caballo/Pence aren’t batting over 250, but they are all superb hitters and its not completely unreasonable to think they’ll come around. Also, If Norris can be harnessed to dominate all teams like he does my home town Cardinals, how awesome would that be? And i don’t see anyone better to do that than Brad Arnsberg. I think he can turn Paulino and Norris into pretty awesome young dudes. And isn’t it quite factual that the Astros are capable of some serious streaks? Whose saying we’re out of this? A few wins orchestrated by the middle of our line-up, some run suppory for Ossy, and who says we can’t fight for a spot in the very weak NL Central? It can happen. We aren’t losing games by 8+ runs, they are all manageable losses. So in conclusion, i don’t think you trade your franchise guys like Puma and Ossy unless they become unmanageable, which they are too classy to do. But that’s just my opinion.
4. I agree with everyone on Matsui, aside from one killer at bat VS Brian Wilson, he has done nothing, and he still got out that at bat. Kep should be the second baseman, because he has been pretty clutch this year, getting i think its 13 RBI’s without even being a starter. You have to reward those that deserve it, and that being said, if CJ stays in AAA, then Blum should be at 3rd, not Mr. Feliz.

Don’t lost hope! Haha

Oh and ditch Kevin Cash…. fast. That dude has done nothing. I feel for Towles, if this is his replacement.

We need an offense that emphasizes Bourn and Pence.
Pence needs to start in the three hole, permanently,
no matter what. Keppinger should be the starter over
Matsui. Matsui can go in for defense, pinch running, and
bunting. Put Michaels in at least twice per week until
Lee gets his average to .250. If Feliz doesn’t start
producing, get rid of him and promote Johnson.
Lance should bat clean up – giving Pence more good
pitches to hit. Blum should be the super sub who can
play nearly everywhere. Sullivan is the lefty pinch hitter.
Michaels/Lee are the righties. Stay with the pitching staff.
Emphasize better control for Norris and Paulino. After three
walks in the first five innings, Moeller comes in. If Moeller
is tired, use Sampson.

Trade Roy & Lance for young prospects.
Goodbye to Matsui and bring up Maysonet.
Send Manzella down & bring up Navarro.
Option Cash & bring up Castro in a limited role.
Make room for DeLome and limit El Tortuga’s playing time.
Bourn & Lindstrom are all we need to worry about keeping.

It’s time to go into full-on rebuilding. Uncle D seems to think that people will blindly follow if he just keeps repeating “We’re Chaympyuns”, while coming up with yet another in-game distraction or billboard for the already circus-like atmosphere – “text your favorite song”, “sauce packet races”, (embarrassing).
We’re 10 back & falling fast. Now’s the time to take action.

1) Place Carlos Lee on waivers. If someone else claims him, so be it. If not, he goes down to AAA and works out his problems until he’s hitting .350 or better.

2) Call up Jason Bourgeos or Brian Bogusevic. Might as well get one of them some major league playing time while we’re at it.

3) Place Kaz Matsui on waivers. If someone else claims him, so be it. If not, he’ll finish his career in AAA (or AA).

4) Call up Jason Castro.

5) Release Kevin Cash.

6) Give Nolan Ryan a call and ask about a straight up Lance Berkman for Justin Smoak trade.

7) Hire another hitting coach. Maybe two can do what one obviously can’t.

The problem is that we CAN’T go all in one direction; we cannot cut the fat (namely Matsui, Feliz and Cash) and replace them with ready talent from within, and we cannot afford to trade prospects to get decent Major League talent to replace them either.

We also cannot rebuild. What’s the point of trading Oswalt and Berkman if you’re still going to be stuck with Carlos Lee? The only way to rebuild completely would be to simply release him, and I can’t imagine that Drayton would pay him $19 million to sit on a horse at his ranch.

If it were me, we wouldn’t be IN this mess in the FIRST place, because I would have resigned Pettitte, which means I wouldn’t have had to spend money like a fool over the last half decade on stop-gaps and journeymen veterans to try to fill the hole. I also would not have given Carlos Lee, a good-but-not-great-hitter who is terrible at every other facet of the game, a $100 million dollar contract that’s BACKLOADED like it is. I also would not have balked at signing crucial draft picks. I’ve been saying for YEARS that this franchise is going down hill, that it’s falling apart and that we would be desperately sorry for the mistakes of past years, and it’s all come true now.

So this is what I would do. If I were the owner, and a multi-billionaire like McLane, I would release Feliz and bring up Johnson; he can’t possibly do worse than Feliz (Feliz’s offense has been as bad as ever, but his defense has suddenly disappeared too this year). I would release Matsui and play Kepp at 2B full time. I finish the year like that. There’s simply no other reasonable options at this point.

If you really wanted to go with the “rebuild and play the young guys no matter what” route, you could release Lee and call up Bogusevic to play LF. After that, Berkman and Oswalt would see the writing on the wall and be all the more willing to waive the NTCs. Trade them for prospects. Sure, you’re paying Lee to do nothing, but he’s not exactly doing much right now, and even if he bounces back some time this year, is it really going to matter? Isn’t it going to be too late? So who cares? Give Bogusevic a shot.

Seems to me that Feliz and Myers are expendable. I’ve always thought of them as solid, relatively low-risk additions. Both are on 1 yr contracts (I believe) and are making average salaries considering there experience and out put.

I know why we signed them. Quite frankly if our 2-5 hitters were doing just that, then these two would like be considered valuable contributors. On the flip side, if we’re not any good (which we’re not) then they could be valuable additions to a contending team and fetch us a few prospects a la Pudge from last year.

Chris Johnson may be slightly above average as a prospect bet he couldn’t be significantly worse than Feliz and he could actually pan out.

Let Manzella play, we might as well let him see if he can figure it out. If he’s not going to we need to know now rather than dabble at him…a la J.R. Towles. Sorry for you, J.R.

Trade Matsui for a rabbits foot, a beaver pelt or a spider ring but for goodness sakes rid us of that deprivation of talent. Heck, Maysonet has had moments, Kepp can swing a stick now and again or Blum holds up a jersey better than Kaz and Blum can actually hit in the clutch.

Like everyone else says, let Norris and Paulino figure it out for the whole year.

If it comes to the deadline and we’re this bad still, love you Roy but we’re going to make this a win win and send you to a contender and draw some young blood in return.

Like others I think its time to play the youngsters. I don’t think it would overwhelm Castro with pressure if he was just a leader of a bunch of other young players. The team isn’t going to win as it is now, and right away it won’t win with the youngsters. Yet maybe they grow together, form a bond of winning that the great Astros teams of the past had, Biggio, Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez and Ken Caminiti like, and the one we’ve seen the past few years haven’t had.

I like the move to release Matsui, I’m glad Keppinger will be starting at 2B for a while. Hopefully Navaro is good off the bench. If I could take over for a day, I would:

-Play Manzella everyday. Keppinger and Blum really have no business playing shortstop. Plus you really need Blum off the bench.
-Find trades for Oswalt and Berkman. Not only do we need the prospects, but they deserve to be on a winning team.
-Still play Lee, but bat him 7th in the order instead of 4th. He only seems to hit when no one is on, this way he can’t kill rallies between Berkman and Pence.

-Once the Oswalt and Berkman trades go through…
—Call up Johnson, Bourgeios, Wright, and Castro, and send Cory Sullivan down to AAA.
—Let Feliz finish the year at 1B, and bring up Shelton or Clemens to play next year.
—Play Castro almost everyday, always catching Norris and Paulino.
—Play Bourgeios in LF everyday and make Carlos Lee the highest paid pinch hitter in the league.
—Slot Wright into the rotation in Oswalt’s spot and make that the new 5 with Meyer’s your new ace.
I agree that we don’t want to bring prospects up into a mess, but if we turn the team over to them, there aren’t big expectations, just good play experience.

Commit to rebuild. This isn’t a team that even close to being a contender and it hasn’t been for years.
Play Manzella every day. He made the team for a reason, give him a chance to prove himself(or not) rather than waste the year spot starting and playing off the bench.

Give Navarro the majority of the starts at 2B instead of Keppinger. I have nothing against Keppinger, but unless Navarro tanks let the young guy have a shot.

In the outfield, bench Lee. I know he’s untouchable in
terms of trading/releasing him, but that doesn’t mean you absolutely have to play him every day. He’s playing like a 5th outfielder, so treat him like one.
Call up Bogusevic, or whoever they think will be able to handle it the best, and give them a shot. I’m guessing that no one is very high on Bourgeois, since he’s 28 and has barely sniffed the big leagues, but i could be wrong about that.

One we get closer to the trade deadline and their value increases, send Berkman and Oswalt, as much as I love them, on to a better place, and give them a chance to finish their careers with a winner. Our young pitchers really aren’t playing so bad from what i’ve seen. A little defensive help, and some run support would do wonders. Trade for some young players with speed and hitting potential.

The goal of this club should be to become the 05/06 Devil Rays. Yes, they’re going to lose for 2 or 3 years, but look at them now. I personally have no problem with watching a team full of 24 year olds struggle and improve. I do have a huge problem watching a team of 34 year olds struggle and decline.

Oh, i forgot.. Call Chris Johnson back up. He was on the DL for a while, but as soon as he’s physically ready bring him in.

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