Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bringing the Badness

Oh, sweet baby jane are the Houston Astros going to be bad.

I know that they won yesterday, beating Chicago 3-2 in a ten-inning affair. I know that they have two of the game's brighter stars in Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. I know that they have a successful recent history, with only two losing seasons in the past seventeen years. I know that an NL championship trophy from 2005 shines in their trophy case.

But oh, are they going to be bad.

Forget that they are trotting out as their third baseman 35-year-old Geoff Blum, whose .700 career OPS is about fifty points below the norm for his position. Forget that the starting pitching rotation was patched together with Elmer's glue. Focus on one thing: Houston has played two games in 2009, and in each manager Cecil Cooper has chosen to bat Pudge Rodriguez second.

Rodriguez is finishing off a remarkable career. He once possessed a breathtakingly broad skill set, highlighted by his legendary throwing arm a catlike quickness behind the plate. Even at his best, however, Pudge was a poor choice for the second spot in the batting order. His awful ratio of double plays to walks drawn was always better suited for the fifth or sixth hole, and that ratio has only grown uglier with time. That Cooper cannot see this is by itself evidence that he is incapable of effectively running a major-league team. Couple that level of boss's-chair incompetence with a roster that swamps its only two bright lights with flotsam, and even a .500 record is a pipe dream.

Astros fans, you are headed towards a bright light. That light is an onrushing train.

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