Sunday roundup: The Matt Downs conundrum, Astros sign more draft picks and photos from Social Media Night.
We had another rip-roaring good time Saturday night in the Budweiser Patio for our latest installment of Social Media Night, presented by Ford Focus.
It’s nice to see a blend of returning patrons and new fans at these events and it’s of course even nicer to see everyone having a great time. Last year, we had two Social Media Nights, but we decided to make it a monthly thing this season. The program includes a ballpark tour, batting practice viewing, t-shirt, dinner, dessert, ticket in the Budweiser Patio and an opportunity to win prizes through Twitter trivia.
The highlight is always the visit by the Astros player who helps hand out the prizes. Hunter Pence was the guest for our April event, followed by Chris Johnson in May. On Saturday, Brett Wallace joined us and helped distribute 12 autographed baseballs and two autographed J.D and Brownie bobbleheads.
Great times all around, as you’ll see from our slideshow (and the next event is July 16):
Matt Downs is averaging a home run every 13.7 at-bats, a pretty impressive statistic when you consider he’s only had 82 at-bats this year. His six longballs, amazingly, rank second on the club.
That brings us to the next logical question: should he be starting more games? Brad Mills and his coaching staff appear to be leaning toward trying to get his bat in the lineup with more frequency. But that also brings forth a pretty common conundrum.
It’s like baseball’s version of the chicken and egg theory. Do you play Downs more, which will take away a hugely valuable weapon in the late innings? Or do you keep him on the bench as your most valuable pinch-hitter, eliminating the opportunity to give your hottest bat three or four plate appearances during a game?
Downs is valuable in that he can play all over the infield and appears to really like those late-game situations when he can push the Astros ahead with an extra-base hit. But it’s dangerous to assume a bench player will automatically thrive if given more playing time. Sometimes he’s best left to do what he’s always done really well. When it comes to Downs, I’m guessing the coaching staff is still figuring out how and where he best fits.
The Astros signed two more draft picks on Saturday, bringing the tally of signees to 31 of the 50 players selected. Right-hander Steven Martin (37th) and catcher Kevin Gonzalez (36th round), both products of Texas A&M, finished the paperwork on the fifth floor of Union Station before Saturday’s game and posed for this photo:
The Astros have signed eight of their top 10 selections and 20 of their top 25. They’ve also signed six non-drafted free agents.
This date in Astros history, June 26, 1988:
Catcher Craig Biggio makes his Major League debut in a 6-0 win versus the Giants. Biggio walks in the fourth inning and scores the game’s final run after stealing second. Starter Jim Deshaies and reliever Larry Andersen combine to blank the Giants on seven hits. Biggio will get his first hit three days later against Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser, that year’s Cy Young Award winner.
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