Astros Sunday Roundup: The Coaching Dream Team, Brad Ausmus And Roger Clemens

With Jim Crane soon to take over, will he leave the coaching staff in place, or will he look to replace Brad Mills with his own man?

With the impending ownership change soon about to take place, fans are already eyeing up replacements for Brad Mills. This might be a bit unfair to Mills. He has done a good job in difficult circumstances, and he clearly has the respect of his roster.

But after defending him this time last year, I despair of the traditional nature of most of his moves. He goes by the book far too often. He should never have brought Brandon Lyon back, and arguably should never have let him startthe season, as the closer was clearly not 100% and he knew it. 

Reading Lyon's comments on his injury, if the Astros management did know of this ailment before the season started, they need to look at themselves in the mirror. If you start opening doors with your left hand, should you really be let anywhere near a major league roster?

One name that was immediately tossed in the ring was Brad Ausmus, and if the former catcher, who is currently employed by the San Diego Padres as a Special Assistant to Baseball Operations, ever wants to manage, I would suggest a controversial choice for his pitching coach. 

Roger Clemens. For obvious reasons, the Astros have yet to start the clock on a 10-year personal services contract, and a move down the road would be problematic, but I figure if Mark McGwire can be a hitting coach Clemens could be a pitching coach. He would have to come through the Brian McNamee defamation suit and be found not guilty of the six felony counts he has hanging over his head.

I've never understood why Astros fans turned their backs so quickly on Clemens, who helped take this franchise to a new level in performance and media attention, before returning to the Yankees and retiring. True, recent events have made Clemens look dead-bang guilty and if pushed I would say that the balance of probabilities suggest to me that he did use Human Growth Hormone during his career. If guilty, he could still save some face by admitting it, take the wrap (would this involve jail time?), and down the road repair his image by coaching with the Astros. 

He and Ausmus worked together well as a battery, and everyone talked about Ausmus becoming a coach/manager down the road during his time with the Astros. 

But, like Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame snub earlier this year, it still looks to me like a select few are being put on trial by the media in place of the Steroid Era. 

Its a pipe dream and I know it. Next. 

Meanwhile back on planet earth, Wandy Rodriguez continued his pitching masterclass last night, a year exactly since he got a bruising from the Texas Rangers raising his ERA for 2010 to 6.09. Since then (from June 19th 2010 to June 18th 2011) Rodriguez has been one of the best ptichers in the NL, posting a 2.37 ERA, the best mark over that time period in the league, marginally lower than Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. And only Felix Hernandez in the major leagues has a lower ERA at 2.20. Cliff Lee meanwhile has nothing on Wandy. 

So this guy should be viewed as a back-end of the rotation starter? Please. 

"The problem with the Rodriguez deal is that the Astros want top of the rotation value while the Yankees would probably see Rodriguez as a bottom of the rotation starter in the AL East." 

After an indifferent start to the season, Rodriguez has turned it on in his past seven games, holding his opponents scoreless in four of those games, two against the Braves. He has a minuscule 1.31 ERA  in those starts, where he's allowed just seven runs, with five of these have come on solo home runs. 

The key to Rodriguez's success? When he allows home runs, they are with the bases empty. And when people get on base, he keeps them there. Even coming into last night's game, Rodriguez held the NL high in LOB% at 85.3% and that mark will only have gotten higher, as he allowed seven hits last night, one walk, and crucially no runs against the Dodgers. 

There is a disclaimer that Rodriguez remains mighty at Minute Maid Park, and as some of us discussed over at TCB during draft week, like Michael Bourn, his value is greater because he plays at Minute Maid Park. Bourn's defensive value is higher at MMP than it would be at any other ballpark, while Rodriguez seems to have some sort of supernatural affinity with the ballpark. 

In other laughable comparisons Michael Bourn has spanked Boston' Carl Crawford this season, and has been worth 2.7 more wins than the 14m dollar man. Imagine Bourn batting in front of Adrian Gonzalez? He would have scored a billion times this season already. Clint Barmes, is 1.3 WAR ahead of the man on 2994 career hits - Derek Jeter. If Brian Cashman wants upgrades, there is one for him. 

Meanwhile Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel are starting to get some real props, which is good, both for them, and people who have championed them as sleepers. I know Brooks Parker was very happy with the Stephen Goff article on Keuchel, as he highlighted him as a sleeper ever since he was drafted out of college in the seventh round in 2009. Alyson Footer has this to say on Altuve, while Astros County has rightly taken exception to some very sloppy logic on the part of Jim Callis.

Lastly Richard Justice is back on his favorite hobby horse, already moaning that the Astros did not go for Taylor Jungmann. If the Drew Stubbs saga is anything to go by, he will be talking about this one for the next three thousand years. Sigh. 

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