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Astros Sunday Roundup: Brownie & JD And The First Player On The Block

There are a lot of areas that need fixing on this team, but how will Jim Crane go about fixing them? A fire sale or a surgical strike?

"McCann has tied it. A pinch home run by Brian McCann makes it 1-1 with two outs in the ninth."

"Wow. McCann is saying 'wait a minute, I thought pinch hitting was the hardest thing to do'. He made it look pretty darn easy."

You have to admire their professionalism and self-control in a situation where I had my head in my hands. 

Whether they are talking about the Astros, Spiderman riding Sea Biscuit, or trying to guess who was on-base for Joe Carter's 3-run smash against the Phillies in 1993, nothing derails a telecast with Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies in the booth. Another question I always ask myself listening to Brownie, is it Mark Melan-son, or Mark Melan-con?

When Astros games start being shown on Comcast from 2013 onwards I would assume that a deal would be worked out to keep both calling Astros games far into this decade. 

Since winning three in a run at the turn of the month, the Astros are 4-13 in a span which has included nearly everything. A rookie pitching in his first major league start allowed just one hit and Brandon Lyon made the save opportunity into a fiasco, four more blown saves, a few ugly performances from Fernando Abad, our hottest hitter sent to the DL, and a change of ownership. 

At 16-30, the Astros run differential is -52. Despite constant quibbling about the lineup and those in it, the real bleeding wound is the pitching. 5.15 runs a game is what they are giving up. That would be 834 runs over the course of the season. Not since 2007, when we threw out Woody Williams, Jason Jennings and Matt Albers have we been anywhere near that bad as a pitching unit. 

Despite the fact that they are hopeless at drawing walks and hitting home runs, the offense remains eighth in the National League in runs scored. Perhaps as a staff they have experienced a mixture of misfortune, and poor defense behind them.

Yesterday was a case in point. If Clint Barmes fields a ludicrously easy grounder from Yunel Escobar, throws to Sanchez, who turns the double play, the bases are empty for Corey Patterson and the score probably stays at 4-0. As it was, the roller slipped between his legs and Brett Myers, who had been cruising served up a three-run home run to Jose Bautista. However, with one out and men on the corners, wouldn't it have made more sense to walk Bautista? With Aaron Hill on deck?

Jim Crane just has no choice but to blow this team sky high. Apart from Norris, Johnson, Wallace and Happ, who are cheap and under team control for some time to come, the rest of the team should be proceeding straight to the trading block. 

Playing time has to be given to players who could be helping this team in some capacity three or four years down the line when this team might be, and I say might  be, good. Names not in this bracket: Myers, Barmes, Bill Hall, Carlos Lee, and gulp, Hunter Pence.

Hopefully Wandy Rodriguez's last start at Turner Field caused a few GM's to straighten up a bit and pay attention. Perhaps he can pitch outside of Minute Maid Park, some of them might have thought. Let's go out and get him, days before SI's Tom Verducci compared his recent success to Cliff Lee, something David Coleman did in January

In our weekly Astros player(s) to the Phillies rumors, the latest target is Hunter Pence, who would appear to be their most bankable trade asset. A team like the Braves would make more sense, since they have the minor league pitching prospects to tempt the Astros, but have all three outfield positions locked out. I think the premise of the above article is the Phillies would like to get Hunter Pence, but without paying for him. As if Ed Wade would trade Pence for Raul Ibanez straight up. 

If Wandy turns on the style, and pitches like he did over his last 18 starts of 2010, gunslinging a 2.03 ERA, a team might take a run at him in July, but since Jim Crane is not technically in control, we will probably have to wait for the off season before serious moves get made.

Brett Myers trade value however, is starting to plummet. The home runs are starting to creep back, and he has not looked as sharp in the fifth/sixth innings as he did last year. If fans think they can get anything like a blue-chipper for him they are going to be disappointed. 

You trade in Myers and Rodriguez and the 2012 starting rotation could read like this: Bud Norris, J.A. Happ, Aneury Rodriguez, Jordan Lyles and Dallas Keuchel. That is not awful for a rebuilding year. Our lineup would be the definition of puny, with Bogusevic and Bourgeois playing the outfield spots if both Pence and Lee were disposed with. Help at the middle infield spots in the form of Jonathan Villar, Jiovanni Mier, Jose Altuve and Jimmy Paredes is a year and a half away, at the very least. 

But as Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Astros need a radical change of strategy or they will spend the better part of a decade digging themselves out of the hole they find themselves in. Pain now, or pain now and pain later. Perhaps we could get some major league ready prospects to patch up the lineup. But does Crane have the patience to field a bunch of anonymous nobodies for two years and watch his gate receipts go down the toilet?

I'm sure Brownie and JD could get through the transition without blinking. Unlike some they do their jobs without having to sing and dance while doing it

"Be quiet," Jerry Lawler barked in a memorable exchange between him and his long-time partner Jim Ross, during a mock-funeral. "Show some respect for the dead."

"He ain't dead," Jim Ross drawled back at him.

Neither is this club. It merely slumbers. 

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.