• HaroldHecuba: Mike Mussina is EASTERN EUROPEAN, not Italian....

undefined

Houston GM Ed Wade has gotten a lotta crap for the moves he’s made this offseason. Nick, who is not prone to hyperbole, just wrote a post describing Wade’s “overwhelming incompetence.” And his is a pretty popular sentiment on the internets.

I’ve defended Wade in the past. But not today. I think his moves this offseason have been, at best, shortsighted. But I will point out this simple fact: the Astros finished 2007 in fourth place. And they’ll enter 2008 with a real shot to win the NL Central.

Now, granted, the Astros playoff chances could only exist in the NL Central, which is a piss-poor division indeed. But we can’t blame Ed Wade for that, can we? Ok, maybe we can blame him for one-sixth of the division’s crapiness. But I digress.

The Astros ended the offseason with an infield lineup that included Adam Everett, Ty Wigginton, and Mark Loretta. Ewwwwwwwwww. They’ll presumably go into 2008 with an infield that still has Wigginton, but now boasts Miguel Tejada and Kaz Matsui, not to mention RBI machine Lance Berkman. That’s a solid group, at least offensively.

The outfield corners will be manned by Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee, both potential all-stars. And Michael Bourn, acquired in a trade with the Phillies, should be, at the very least, a capable defensive player in center and could develop into a threat at the top of the lineup. Plus the team will have Geoff Blum coming off the bench. And now they’ve got a dominant closer to finish games with a flourish.

Now, I know, I know, the Astros still don’t seem to have enough pitching —  though the way Wade is going, nobody would be surprised if he signed a big name in the next few days (Carlos Silva?) or traded the team’s next five first round draft picks for Erik Bedard.

But even if Wade does nothing, and Houston enters 2008 with a rotation consisting of Roy Oswalt and a bunch of question marks, he has succeeded in putting together a lineup that could be successful and surely will be entertaining. And, if you’re an Astros fan coming off a season that offered little excitement beyond the Craig Biggio farewell tour, that probably sounds pretty good right now.

4 Responses to “Watch out for the Astros”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    This will surprise no one, but I completely disagree with Coley.

    First of all, Coley pulled off a bit of sleight-of-the-hand there when he talked about how the Astros are going from an infield of Adam Everett, Ty Wigginton, and Mark Loretta, to an infield of Miguel Tejada, Kaz Matsui, “not to mention Lance Berkman.” This makes it almost sound like Wiggenton got replaced by Lance Berkman. But Lance Berkman was on the old infield too, and last time I checked Wigginton is still pencilled in to be the starting 3B next season.

    So basically, Loretta and Everett got traded out for Matsui and Tejada. Is this really such a good thing? I think not. Tejada’s skills have been eroding across the board (since he stopped jucing?), but nothing has eroded more than his defense at shortstop. Meanwhile, Adam Everett was the second best defensive shortstop in the National League last season, behind only Tulowitzki, and can be conservatively expected to save something like 35 runs with his defense over a full season.

    When the Astros brought Tejada over, I thought it was a bad idea, but I figured, at least this means they can put Tejada at 3B and get rid of Wigginton, who provides scant offense and is horrible on defense. Everett at short and Tejada at third would actually be a pretty awesome leftside defense. But instead, Wade didn’t even offer Everett a contract, and he promptly signed with the Twikies. So the Astros, with that one decision, instantly went from having a potentially awesome leftside defense to having one of the worst defensive left sides in the league. And for what? Is Ty Wigginton’s scant offensive contribution worth the huge loss on defense? Is Ty Wigginton’s offensive contribution even that much more than Everett’s? I think the answer to these questions is clearly, no.

    Finally, we come to Wade’s and Coley’s shared overevaluation of Kaz Matsui. Coley includes Matsui in what he calls “a solid group, at least offensively.” But that’s ridiculous. Matsui is exactly the same player who sucked so terribly on offense as a Met. You can slice the numbers any which way and you still have to come to the conclusion that Matsui’s “comeback” in Colorado was entirely due to the effects of playing in Coors field. Now the Astros’ park (whatever it’s called nowadays) is a hitter’s ballpark, whereas Shea was a pitcher’s park, but there is still going to be a huge dropoff in Matsui’s offense, and I don’t think it’s possible to say that signing Matsui was anything other than a bad idea.

    Suffice to say, unless Wade pulls off several genius moves in a row over the next few weeks, I don’t think anyone has to “watch out for the Astros.”

  2. Matsui hit .249 outside of Coors Field last season, expect his numbers to be close to that at the “Juice Box” even though it’s homer friendly. Jim Hendry was interested in signing him for the Cubs and as a fan I was relieved to see him go to the Astros. I fail to see how he’s going to be much of an upgrade for them.
    I agree with Nick that they would have been much better off keeping Everett at short and putting Tejada at 3rd. Everett doesn’t get much notice because of his offensive numbers but he’s absolutely stellar defensively.
    After Oswalt the Astros don’t have a single starter from last season that won over 10 games or had an ERA under 4.5. Good luck to them with Woody Williams & Wandy Rodriguez. Their defense has gotten weaker and they have failed to bolster their biggest weakness from 07, starting pitching. What good does Valverde do them if they don’t have the guys that can get the ball to him? Qualls would have been a really nice set-up man in front of him. He’s not as valuable without a solid 8th inning guy in front of him.
    You also have to wonder if Berkman is on the decline offensively. He hit 11 less homers this past season, his batting average was the lowest and strikeouts the highest since his rookie season. He had Carlos Lee hitting behind him, so he may be having a decline similar to Tejada.
    Unless they acquire a quality starter or 2 don’t look for them to overtake the Cubs or the Brewers. They finished 4th last season and look primed to compete with the Reds for 3rd in 08.

  3. I don’t think that even the Astros would disagree that putting Tejada at 3rd would be better. Something must have happened that we don’t know about. Either the Stros were afraid to ask Miggy to switch, or they did and he said no. I can’t imagine anyone taking Wigginton’s bat at 3rd over Everett’s glove at SS.

  4. Nick Kapur says:

    Paul, I don’t think the Astros every even considered asking Tejada to switch. In fact, I don’t think the idea of putting him at third was even considered. At least, there was absolutely zero discussion of it, when the trade was announced. I think Ed Wade really is that dumb that it never occured to him.

Leave a Reply

Marketplace

    Subscribe via email

    Enter your email address:

    Archives

What's Popular

Featured posts

220px-Bbwaa_logo_web

December 5, 2011

Will anybody get elected to the Hall of Fame this year?

Last week, we asked you to vote for who you would like to see enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame. The verdict? If it were up to UmpBump readers, nobody would make it in. The leading vote getter (so far) is Jeff Bagwell, who has 60% support. Of course, in the real voting, players need […]

January 5, 2011

Annual UmpBump Hall of Fame Balloting: 2011 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, we here at UmpBump cast our ballots for the Hall of Fame on the eve of the announcements of the voting for the real Hall of Fame. Voters can vote for anyone ever who has been retired from baseball for at least five years and is not already […]

According to the internet, "The Little Napoleon" John McGraw was the greatest manager of all time.

October 19, 2010

Crowdsourcing the Greats: The Top 10 Managers of All Time

Now that we’ve looked at every position on the diamond, as well as relief pitchers, we are nearing the end of our “Crowdsourcing the Greats” series. But before we finish, let’s turn one more time to the internet hoi polloi for answers on who the greatest baseball manager of all time was. As usual, we […]