Once Jim Crane is officially the new owner of the Houston Astros, "Disappointment Watch 2011" will begin. I'm sure Crane will keep Ed Wade around through the end of the season - and maybe he should. While Ed isn't exactly my pick for Baseball Personnel Genius of the Universe, we would probably do better with his expertise through the trade deadline than without. Or something.
There are some troubling things out there about Crane, but I don't expect it to have much of an impact on his approval. War-profiteering is appalling, but - how can I put this without getting a smack from SBN HQ... uh... there are "other people" in "other professions" who engage in it at a disgusting level and nobody seems to care, so why should it matter for a MLB owner? I say that of course in the most cynical and sarcastic way possible, because war-profiteering is foul and disgusting.
So, Norris and Lyles. Jordan has yet to win a game as an Astro, and he may not win one all season even if he breaks the consecutive innings record.
In five starts, Lyles has an 0-2 record, has three quality starts (for the casual baseball fan, that's at least six innings with no more than three earned runs allowed). He's really had only one bad game, where he gave up four runs in four innings of work in San Diego. He's shown good command and poise for such a young player, and despite his 4.20 ERA, he's looked much stronger than that in most of his outings.
Norris has been on a hell of a tear lately. Since giving up five earned runs in five innings of work in St. Louis on May 18, Norris's earned runs in each start look like this: 1, 1, 4, 1, 1, 0. In that stretch, the Astros have Astro'd up two no decisions and two losses. Oh, and the game where he gave up four runs was a win, by the way.
Do you think young Astro pitchers get together and compare their free agency dates? Yeah, probably.
So the message is this - I'm a HORRIBLE cynic in general, but when it comes to the Astros, I'm damn near intolerable. But Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles could certainly help to build a strong pitching foundation. A foundation that could very well be wasted if Jim Crane doesn't come in and turn the organization upside-down from the word go. Or at least the second the offseason starts.
War profiteers like winning, right? Probably more so than grocery salesmen.