Is it sad when fans are more interested in their team’s off-field dealings than what they’re doing on the field? I believe that it is sad, and yet such is how I find myself feeling. Such it will likely continue until this week is over.
Cliff Lee to the Yankees? Really? If that turns out to be true… I’m disappointed. Not that I’m a huge Cliff Lee fan, or that I’ve been hoping he would end up some place in particular; it really doesn’t matter much to me. But Lee-to-Yanks is another “rich get richer” deal, and unless you’re a Yankees fan, how can you really get excited over that? It would be noteworthy here in Arkansas, uniting Lee with A.J. Burnett, the two local pitchers that squared off in Game 5 of last year’s World Series. I really don’t think that Lee would make the Yankees significantly better, just because they’re already so good. I do think that his greatest impact in going to New York would be in his not going to division rival Tampa Bay. I kind of feel bad for him, too – four teams in two years? Most pitchers that play for four teams in two years are marginal major leaguers, not Cy Young candidates!
Swept by the New York Yankees. That’s a fate that has been suffered by many, many teams over the years, so there’s no special shame in it. But this is likely where you will see the 2005 and 2010 Astros part ways. In order to keep up with the 2005 pace, this 2010 edition will have to go 9-1 over their next 10 games, against Kansas City, Texas and San Francisco – unlikely. And even if they did somehow manage to pull it off, the Yankee series exposed a reality that’s been ignored each year since 2005: the Astros are not an elite-level team. Granted, that was clear this year before their visit to New York, but this series should have removed any remaining doubts from the heads of Houston management. We’re still a game and a half up from last place, and I believe that’s no temporary arrangement; this is not a basement-bad team. But they’ll struggle to climb much higher than this, and even on a hot streak, they stand no chance of competing for long against true top-tier teams. So, for the first time in two decades, it’s time that the Astros become sellers.
Astros win again! And Pirates lost again, so Houston is now 1.5 games up from last place, and only half a game behind Milwaukee for 4th in the NL Central. Small steps. Crazy stats: previously punchless Houston is #2 in NL team batting average for the month of June. And the Astros are tied with the Dodgers as the hottest teams in baseball right now (both 9-3 over their last 12 games). This evening it’s Brett Myers against should-still-be-an-Astro Andy Pettitte; a win in any of these three games against the Yanks will put the 2010 Astros back on pace with the 2005 team. At this point five years ago, the World Series-bound Astros were busy getting swept by Baltimore. (Yeah… it was ugly.)