Tagged: tcu

Escape from Arlington

Both the Astros and I left Texas following their game Sunday night. The Rangers Ballpark was everything that I’d been told to expect – a beautiful facility, and we had great seats. I got my wish, as both Roy and Lance were in the starting lineup, and the weather was actually quite pleasant with the breeze, so I couldn’t have scripted a better night to see the boys again. I only wish that the game had turned out differently, or at least more competitively; it was a great night for Rangers fans, but it was an ugly game for Houston. Disappointing that Roy was at his most un-Wizard-like on the night when I finally got to see him pitch. Disappointing that Hunter Pence never got into the game, although Oswalt and Berkman were those I cared most about. Josh Hamilton did his best Jim Edmonds impersonation, killing the Astros on both sides of the ball – if he maintains numbers anything like what he’s done so far, he absolutely has my vote for AL MVP. At least the pigeon provided some comic relief as the game drew to its inevitable conclusion.

But still, I can’t honestly complain. We had a great weekend in Arlington apart from the Astros game, which was intended to be the weekend’s highlight. And really, it was, in spite of the less-that-ideal outcome. I consoled myself with the fact that Texas needed the win more than Houston did; it’s clear that the Astros are going nowhere this year, but the Rangers and Angels will likely be locked in a pennant race for the rest of the summer. Texas was always my #2 team as a kid, and that’s never really changed, so I can’t begrudge them their success. We also got the unexpected bonus of seeing the TCU baseball team on the field before the game, to congratulate them on their first CWS appearance, and their coach threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Astros signed Paul Gerrish today, so I hope we’ll see more of him again.
Houston pulled off the big comeback on Monday that I’d been hoping for the previous night. It was nice seeing Michael Bourn pull a Jim Edmonds on Jim Edmonds last night. The Astros are going this afternoon for another series win, and for a .500 record in June. July will bring the All-Star Game, Roy’s continued pursuit of Joe Niekro (still two wins back), and all of the questions about how different the roster will look on July 31 v. July 1. A fellow Astros fan in Arlington – one of many, as it turned out – commented to me that it’s been a long year already. And I agree, but I hope this next month sets the stage for a brighter future. 

Crazy Eight

After eight tries, the Astros finally beat the Giants, though a day too late for Jason Castro’s debut, but c’est la vie. Castro got his first 0-fer and first passed ball, but he did work a walk and score another run. Chris Johnson was the star rookie for Houston on this night, going 2-4 with a double, a RBI, a stolen base and a run scored. 

Bad news for the other of Houston’s rookie trio, Tommy Manzella; he broke his finger in the 9th Tuesday night, and now he’ll be out for about six weeks. Signing Adam Everett didn’t make much sense when he was DFA’d by Detroit early this month, but he’s officially a free agent now and is still available, so is it time to bring him back? It would certainly make more sense now, with Tommy out until at least August, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad move… the Astros recalled Oswaldo Navarro from Round Rock to fill Tommy’s roster spot, and of course we’ve got Geoff Blum, but neither of those two are natural shortstops. I’d love to see Edwin Maysonet get another shot in Houston, but he’s been battling injuries this year and is primarily a second baseman himself. Jeff Keppinger could slide over to short, but he earned his starting job this year at 2B, and I’d rather not muck with that. Adding Everett would solve all of those difficulties, but it would introduce another problem, in the question of what do you do with him when Manzella returns? He refused minor league assignment in Detroit, so I doubt that he’d accept it here. There is also potential for intangible benefit by bringing in Everett, as he could help mentor Manzella and other young Astros players; he was evidently valuable in that role for Detroit. But ultimately, I still don’t think it makes enough sense for a struggling and rebuilding team to go out and add veteran parts when you already have younger guys like Navarro or Maysonet who are capable of filling the role. I would smile to hear that Adam was signed, but I don’t expect it to happen.
Other thoughts: It’s rumored that Delino DeShields, Jr. (or DDJ, from henceforth) is close to signing with Houston, and I hope that’s true. The Astros have already signed their other two first rounders this year, and 28 of 52 draft picks overall; I’d like to see DDJ added to that mix sooner than later. Taken at #8, he was of course greeted with the hype of being “Houston’s highest draft pick since Phil Nevin at #1 in 1992.” Jason Castro had that same hype two years ago when he was taken #10, although Chris Burke was also drafted 10th in 2001. The hope with both Castro and DDJ is that they’ll exceed the careers of Burke (currently with AAA Louisville) and Nevin, but only time will tell. Phil did put together a few good years with San Diego, but his Houston career was a bust, and his final totals were disappointing compared against the expectations for a #1 overall draft pick. Looking back, the gem of the ’92 draft was taken #6 by the New York Yankees… I know, hindsight is 20/20 and all that, and the Astros probably would have been criticized back in ’92 had they not picked Phil Nevin #1. But for a franchise whose career home run leader at shortstop is still the aforementioned Adam Everett with 35, just the possibility that Derek Jeter could have been an Astro all this time is a tantalizing “what if?” fantasy. Imagine Jeter in a Houston infield with Bagwell, Biggio and (pre-injury) Ken Caminiti… wow. I should stop now before I cry myself to sleep tonight.
Astros conclude their third Giants series this afternoon, and then they (and I) are off to Arlington for the weekend. In non-MLB news, how about that Landon Donovan? Go USA!! I was fortunate yesterday to catch both the last 25 minutes of the USA-Algeria game, and the last three innings of the TCU-Florida State CWS game, in which TCU scored 8 in the 8th to roar back from a five-run deficit and win 11-7. My (really cool) father-in-law is a TCU alum, so I’m behind the Horned Frogs all the way in Omaha. Go rally turtle!!