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Tank Still Full

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2010 at 12:01 am

Houston has quietly been playing some really good baseball the past two weeks going 10-3. They are still 15 games out of first place but are only 12 games under the .500 mark. The Astros are currently riding a four game winning streak and looking to sweep the Phillies tomorrow afternoon as Wandy Rodriguez will be taking the mound. What may be shocking as Houston has seem to find a way to win is that they are not giving up many runs. They are not scoring many either but the starting rotation looks like they may have found their niche. This being said, all this could unravel come tomorrow but Houston fans will take it. Starting pitching Brett Myers has really impressed me with his consistency. He has the ability to last 7 innings and only gives up 2 or 3 runs per outing. Usually this is strong enough for the offense to supply enough run support to help notch the W. Though usually the bullpen would find a way to falter but not as of lately. J.A. Happ has had  5 quality starts out of six appearances. I would like to see Happ go into deeper innings but as of now I pleased with his overall performance. With his current victory over ex teammate Roy Halladay, Happ has shown that he can compete with the elite. I am honestly excited to see the starting rotation for next season because I think if the top three are Happ, Myers and Rodriguez, Houston would have a very solid 1-3. The back end still hasnt been decided yet but Figueroa is making a very strong statement to make the rotation. Than there is AAA player Jordan Lyles who might be called up next season and as of now, he has a great shot to make the ball club.

Hitting hasn’t changed too much as Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez and Jeff Keppinger are still producing. Hunter Pence has seemed to turn it on a bit as he is batting .337 in the month of August. His 17 RBIs are only second to Carlos Lee’s 19 this month. The team seems to hitting well together but their scoring rampage has slowed down a bit. They have the ability to score a lot of runs but expect an average of 3-5 a game. I would like to see Houston find some more power but hopefully Brett Wallace will soon find his stride as the season comes to a close. I really like the players now but still wouldn’t mind seeing Carlos Lee shipped off for some younger talent.

Houston has played better ball than I predicted but there is still awhile to go. If they can manage to get within 5 games of .500, I think their record would look better than they have shown all season. I find this team really fun to watch when I can because they tend to have this spark about them. The younger players seem to respond really well to tough situations and I believe if they can continue to get better that head coach Brad Mills has the ability to lead this team back to NL champions.


The Road to Prominence

In Around The League on August 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

With still over a month and half left till the post season, there can still be a lot of movement around the divisions to claim a playoff spot. A lot of teams haven’t been able to expand their division lead outside of the Texas Rangers. They are only team in baseball with a lead more than 5 games. It seems like their division rival Angels are not going to be making any ground on their own without some help. Rangers left fielder, Josh Hamilton, looks like he should win the MVP award. His .362 average is the best in baseball and he is on pace to crack the 100 RBI mark. Many Rangers fans hoped that pitcher Cliff Lee would be an automatic win when he takes the mound. Since his debut with the Rangers, Lee has gone 2-3 and his ERA has jumped .43 %. Come post season, Lee has been very dominate going 4-0 as he helped the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series. When in the playoffs, you only really need three good pitchers and a dominate closer to be successful. The Rangers do have three good pitchers but four of the five starters have zero playoff experience. Along with that their closer too has not seen the more beautiful side of October. This being said, the Rangers should still make a good run but I do not think they will make it past the ALCS.

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have identical records but the Rays would be crowned A.L. East Champions as they boast a 6-5 record vs the Bronx Bombers as of now. These two teams will face each other seven more times and unless the Red Sox make ground up, the AL East will be very interesting race to claim the crown.

While the Red Sox are only 5.5 out, their up and down play isn’t going to help them gain any ground. If they can get back on track, the rest of their schedule is very manageable. They face four teams with records under .500 and outside of the Yankees and Rays, they face two teams with winning percentage that barely clips the .510 mark. Josh Beckett has seemed to lost his dominance presence as he claims a 3-2 record with an ERA over 6. Lester and Bucholz have been very good this year but struggled as of lately. Dice-K who was once a dominate pitcher has been turned into a very good number three starter. Though he does boast an 8-4 record, his era is still way to0 high.

The Minnesota Twins have still been the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break. They have only loss eight times while winning twenty-two. They currently have a three game lead over the White Sox. Their team batting average is an impressive .281 while being lead by Joe Mauer, Delmon Young and Justin Morneau. The Twins could make a solid playoff run too but like the Rangers their starters are not greatly experience. The White Sox seem to more of a gritty team that likes to grind it out day in and day out. They do have talent but their play doesn’t seem to be very polished at times. Their starters are not un hittable and their hitters are not overwhelmingly dangerous. With Ozzie Gullien being the coach, he will always have this team prepared every day.

The National League definitely has the more intriguing and tighter races in baseball. A week of baseball could make a huge difference in the division leaders. All the current division leaders have had their struggles but seem to find a way to win. In the NL East, it has been the Phillies  and Braves for the past two months while the Mets tried to contend but now have dropped 10 games out. The Braves currently lead the division by two and half games. They have been really good even with Chipper Jones being out with an ACL injury. Outside of the Reds, the NL top-tier teams are in the bottom half of run production while the AL elite are all in the top ten. When it comes to pitching though, three of the four top NL teams are 1-3 in overall pitching but the AL does also have all their top four teams in the top ten. The Phillies might have one of the best starting rotation as they were able to acquire Houston’s ex ace Roy Oswalt. They also have Roy Halladay who has been worth every penny since his trade from the Blue Jays.

The Central has been between the Reds and Cardinals from pretty much day one. Every other day it is either the Red Birds or the Reds leading. The Reds survive on great hitting with mediocre pitching while the Cardinals are opposite and have great pitching but their offense isn’t near what it use to be. Puljos is still a threat every game and Matt Holliday is still producing. It’s the players as Rasmus, Schumaker and Molina that are struggling this year. At the end of the day though when the season comes down to its finally games, the Cardinals pitching should prevail. Both Carpenter and Wainwright could win the Cy Young this year and Jamie Garcia as his first real year as a starter has been outstanding. This division will be the most exciting to watch because who ever wins will be in the NLCS and possibly a very good shot at the World Series.

The West has been the Padres for a while. While teams like the Dodgers, Giants and Rockies have been shuffling  all season to maintain distance, the Padres keep churning away. Their hitting has picked up while their pitching has been untouchable. They still ranked number one over all in pitching with a 3.23 ERA. Starting pitcher Mat Latos has been unbelievable as he has only surrender six runs in his last seven starts. The Padres hitting is so mediocre that despite them leading the division, they have scored the least amount of runs than any other team in their division. The Giants are only four games back but they seem to have trouble maintaining good play by anyone. One week it could be the pitching but then the offense struggles. Next week it would be vice versa. Lincecum has not lived up to his usually self and Barry Zito who started the season 6-1 has a  record of 8-6 now. Matt Cain still hasn’t been able to find consistency in his performance. He was able to extend his record to 6-4 with three straight winning performances. Then he followed that up with three straight losing starts. I think the Padres will be able to keep up their strong pitching and if their hitting still gets better, they will win this division.

This season definitely has the potential to be the most exciting as their will be tight finishes in nearly all the divisions. Also there will be some exciting playoff series as we might be seeing some new faces this year.

Stuck In Reverse

In Houston Astros 2010 Season on August 12, 2010 at 2:15 am

A week ago things started looking right for the Houston Astros. The team was winning and winning convincingly. The pitching and hitting seemed to be on par and glimpse of another late season run seemed possible. Now losers of the last 6 of 7, Houston has gone 13 games behind the division leader to 16. They were only 12 games under the .500 mark and now have extended their deficit to 17. So what went wrong is such a quick turn around? After their 18-4 victory over the division leading Cardinals, Houston’s momentum has seem to just float off into space. Their impressive starting pitching has evaporated and bullpen has been beyond atrocious. The hitting has slowed down but not enough to keep them in ball games.

J.A. Happ’s career in an Astros uniform has been seen three games, he has been impressive. Outside of the huge implosion vs the St. Louis Cardinals where he surrender seven runs in the first inning, Happ has had two extremely solid outings. Unfortunately for him, he is dealing with the same problem that Oswalt had to contend with. If it isn’t the offense being able to score runs, it is the bullpen not being able to hold the lead. Now these two can play hand in hand. It is hard to put pressure on the bullpen when the team only can muster a 1 or 2 two run lead with 3 + innings to go.

Another pitcher that has performed well but has failed to gain a victory in last two starts is Wandy Rodriguez. In his appearance against the Milwaukee Brewers on August 6, Wandy pitched 6 strong innings only giving up two runs. Houston had a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the 9th where closer Matt Lindstrom blew his fifth game of the season giving up 4 runs. In his latest start Wandy again pitched admirably going seven strong allowing 2. The game extended into ten innings where relievers Lyon and Fulchino gave up six runs to the Braves.

It could be that the pen is getting worn down already as they have put in a lot of innings. They could have just hit a bad rut but excuses can be made. Things still need to be done all around the organization to improve this team. Lindstrom is going to be around as he hasn’t had a bad year blowing only 6 games. It is really the inconsistency that wears down the ball clubs patience. Not just with the pen but the starters and hitters. It is rare to have Houston’s 1-3 starters pitch great games. The pitchers themselves might go on a winning streak but as a whole, the starters will go 2-3 as the rotation cycles. That number is just if the starters can make it more than 5 innings. Most of the time it is the pen being spotted with the loss.

The rest of the August doesn’t ease up as the next five opponents will be the Pirates, Marlins, Mets, Phillies and Cardinals. The 100 loss mark could come up a lot quicker if the pen doesn’t turn it around. As the season does come to an end, we all will get a good idea who might be sticking around next year.

New Era In Both TT

In Random Rants on August 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm

This is a new era in Texas Tech Football as there will be a new head coach leading the Red Raiders out onto the field. Former Auburn coach, Tommy Tuberville will be now controlling the reigns of Tech as his new image and character has seem to make significant changes already. After the Mike Leach debacle, everyone was on edge to find out who would be taking over as names were being thrown out in the wind. Finally once news broke on who would be in charge, everyone become optimistic of the future. As the months soon passed, people started seeing positive change as better recruits were making commitments. More convincing to prove that Tech will become a powerhouse seem to seep into people’s minds and the new East Side Expansion progression has increased anticipation.

The season begins 28 days from now as the Red Raiders will be facing the SMU Mustangs on September 5th. The game  is on a Sunday which is very different as most collegiate football games are held on a Saturday. Tech is 30-16 vs SMU and look to extend their current 12 game winning streak. As of now no one really knows who the starting QB will be but I think either Taylor Potts or Steven Sheffield will be prepared to lead the Red Raiders to victory. This will be the first game as head coach of the Red Raiders for Tommy Tuberville and everyone will be intrigued to see if the offense changes a lot and how much better the defense will be. Tech also has a new offensive coordinator in Neal Brown who came over from Troy. While at Troy, Brown also lead a pass happy offense which actually racked up more yards than Tech did last season. We all have been told that the offense will remain the same but try to utilize the backs more. I am honestly fine with this as long as we can still score at will. The main concern that all Tech fans have is the mediocre defense. While yes Tech can score on majority of teams, being able to hold those teams have been disheartening. Now that new defensive coordinated has been put in place, James Willis. Willis was the linebacker coach last year at Alabama who are coming off a National Championship win. This has brought a lot of new optimism as now Tech has put in place two defensive minded coaches.

I honestly think Tech can have a decent season once again reaching a bowl game. Ideally I think Tech should win 9 games. Tech’s schedule follows as

The first two games will be a good test for both team and coaching staff to see how prepared and ready this team will be going into the rest of the season. I believe that both of these games against SMU & @ New Mexico should be wins, they will not be blow outs. Then September 18, the game that everyone all season will be anticipating brings the Texas Longhorns back to Lubbock, TX. As many of us remember, the last the UT played at Jones AT&T stadium, they walked away being upset as Michael Crabtree scored the game winning touchdown with a second left on the clock. Now both teams are basically have a new looking arsenal, this will stay make for an exciting game. I think Tech has a very good chance to pull out of this game with a W and with an always rowdy Tech crowd, this should help the Red Raiders come out victorious. If Tech does win, the next three games should also be victories. The Red Raiders will be facing Baylor in Dallas again but not at Cowboys Stadium. They both will be playing at the Cotton Bowl stadium and the last time Tech played there, they lost to Ole Miss in the 2008 Cotton Bowl game. Baylor has yet to be the Red Raiders since the birth of the Big 12 but have been playing Tech a lot closer. A 6-0 start will be outstanding but after their match up against the Ok. State Cowboys, Tech will have to travel to Boulder,  Colorado. Despite how bad the Buffaloes are, the Red Raiders always have trouble in Boulder. For some reason, winning at Folsom Field seems impossible. I think Tech will lose this game to notch their first L of the season. Last year the Aggies came stumbling into Lubbock after being dismantled by the Kansas Jayhawks. Well they seem to take out their aggressions as they rolled over Tech, 52-30. Tech does have a chance to win this game but it is always difficult to win in Kyle Field. I just have a gut feeling that Tech will walk away with a loss.  Despite A&M having a terrible defense, their offense will be quite good. The game will be close and exciting like most are but I see A&M winning by 10. Missouri will be the next opponent and just like Colorado, Tech has trouble beating this team that they should notch Ws against. Missouri is on a three game winning streak against the Red Raiders but I think their winning streak ends this year. By now Tuberville will have the Red Raiders extremely ready, especially if Tech does lose to A&M. The game at Norman vs the Sooners will be a loss. The Sooners are loaded at almost every position and looking to once again redeem themselves as Tech ran Landry Jones and his crew out of town. This game could be ugly once again just like 2008. The next two games should be winnable, especially the game against Weber State. Houston will finish off the regular season and will be a huge game for Tech as they want to revenge their loss last year to the Cougars. While Houston will be tough, I think Houston’s weaknesses will be easily exposed by the time this game arrives.

As I mention, a nine game winning season would be optimal and very possible. Anything more would be outstanding and anything less especially under 8 will be a disappointment. I am just reading for tailgating and spending some more great moments will my fellow Red Raiders.

Revamped For The Future

In Houston Astros 2010 Season on August 3, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Who knew new faces could make such a huge impact immediately on a ball club. A lot of Astros fans were gloomy to see their two big stars in Oswalt and Berkman leave the organization. They have been the face of this team for the past nine plus years. They have help transition the loss of Biggio and Bagwell and send Houston to its very first World Series birth. That is history and there are a ton of new players that seem to be ready to lead this team back in contention.

The Astros are currently on a seven game winning streak which is by far the longest of this season. A team that pretty much baseball considered down and out for the count looks like it might be showing what it is capable of doing next season. So what does this mean for the rest of the season? It would be historic to see the Astros not loose for the rest of the year and make probably the greatest playoff run in the history of the game. Don’t forget, Houston has done it before. Back in 2004 the Astros fired skipper Jimmy Williams a little half way through the season and hired Phil Gardner. The Astros then went on to finish the season 46-26 and clinch a playoff berth. They eventually were ousted by the by division foe Cardinals but help set up the historic 2005 year.

After tonight’s 18-4 dismantling of the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston does sit 12 games out. This deficit seems way too big for any club to come back from. A team that has been struggling to gain any type of composer all season has enough will power to shock the world? Honestly I do not think so. Yes they have looked impressive in their win streak. They have been able to outscore their division rivals 57-12. There were times were Houston looked like they would have trouble scoring 57 runs in a month. Their starting pitching and bullpen have all of suddenly have found their niche . Every starting pitching was able to notch a victory at least once and new face J.A. Happ looked like he has claimed the Ace roll.

There are so many players that have impressed me. Jason Bourgeois and Jason Castro who both were called up from Round Rock have made a significant impact. Bourgeois who hasn’t yet found his swing yet has been a more than solid fielder. His ability to play outfield and infield makes him such a viable utility player. The same goes with Castro as he seems to be able to communicate with his fellow pitchers. Though his batting average hasn’t been outstanding, he does have two home-runs.

These next two players have been the most impressive. Third baseman Chris Johnson who has been called up before has seem to finally been able to figure how to hit off big league pitchers. Since becoming a consistent starter June 22, Johnson has a .341 B.A., 21 RBI and 4 HR. Johnson rode a 14 game hit streak all the way to the end of July but hasn’t seemed to slow down going 4 of 8 the last two games. New SS Angel Sanchez has also made a strong impact as he has shown the ability to hit. Entering the lineup July 2, Sanchez B.A. is .293 along with 14 RBI. Since he isn’t a power hitter, he has shown be a great contact hitter. His role at the top of the lineup has really boosted this offense and could make Michael Bourn’s job a lot easier.

These next two guys have been on the team for a while but mainly bench players. Since they team needed a lot of changes, they have come through unbelievably as starters. Jeff Keppinger might have found a home after bouncing around on four ball clubs in six years. His bat, glove and veteran-ship have seem to make a contribution throughout the organization. Though his numbers are not overwhelming All-star caliber, with the combination of all these new players, they have helped tremendously. Jason Michaels who switches roll as starter and bench player has not been a disappointment. It seems whenever this club needs a boost during the game, it is Michaels that can create that spark. His Grand Slam against the Brewers help Houston propel into the lead and the rest of the offense seemed to come alive.

If the Astros are able to finish .500 come season end, than this year will be a success. Anything less won’t shock me and anything more will be a miracle. All I know is if Houston can get a couple more of key pieces, than the rebuilding process will not be as long as people thought.

8/2/10 MLB Top Five

In Around The League on August 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm

With the second half of the 2010 fully underway, there have been numerous trades to help get teams in position for the playoff run. This being said, not a lot recently has changed much as your current division leaders have been there for the past three weeks. After the trades though, some clubs became a lot stronger while others are just hoping their current roster is good enough to maintain a playoff spot.

1.) New York Yankees ( 66-38 ) – Even though they just lost the series to their division foe Rays, they are still the powerhouse team of their division and baseball. With the recent acquisitions of Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns, the Yankees now have made their already all-star line up stronger and added more depth to their pen and bench. Once all these players settle, I expect the Yankees to finally pull away and easily win this division by 7 + games.

2.) Tampa Bay Rays ( 65-39)- For awhile the Rays were battling with the Red Sox for the second spot and basically the wild card spot. They are 11-5 so far in the second half and should keep this winning pace up for the rest of the year. They rank third overall in the majors in hitting as they are also third overall in runs scored. They do not have an outstanding batting average but they do have one of the best pitching staffs. Three out of five starting pitchers have ten or more wins while the two other are sitting at nine.

3.) Texas Rangers ( 61-44 ) – The Rangers might have been the biggest winners out of all the clubs trading. Outside of signing starting pitcher Cliff Lee, they also acquired Bengie Molina, Jorge Cantu, and Cristian Guzman. Since joining the club, Cliff Lee has gone 1-2 but has had decent outings. Their already 8 game lead out in the West seems to be enough to win the division as the Angels are not deep enough to make a run.

4.) San Diego Padres ( 61-42 ) – The Padres were one of the few teams that didn’t make any moves this past week. They still cannot hit but having surprisingly good pitching. With the rest of their division making moves though, mainly the Dodgers. How long will the Padres be able to keep this miracle run up? If the Padres do make the playoffs, they are not good enough to go anywhere past the first round.

5.) Minnesota Twins ( 59-46) – They might not be winning their current division but they definitely have been the hottest team in baseball. A 13-4 record this half, the Twins have dominated their opponents. Fifth overall in hitting, they do have the best batting average at .283. Justin Morneau, Delmon Young and Joe Mauer are all in the top ten in hitting. The Twins acquired closer Matt Capps from the Nationals making their back end extremely efficient  as they will know have two strong closers but Jon Rauch taking over the set up role.

Out with the old in with the new

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Houston’s long time ace Roy Oswalt has finally been traded as he will be packing his bags heading to Philadelphia. Houston in turn got a great deal as they were handed pitcher J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose and SS Jonathan Villar. The Astros then immediately traded Gose to the Blue Jays to receive top hitting prospect Brett Wallace. Despite one of my favorite players leaving, the trade was much-needed as this was definitely a huge boost as the Astros are now in the rebuilding phase of their organization. J.A. Happ has been in the majors for four years but has been hurt majority of this season. Last year he finished with a 12-4 record and an ERA of 2.93. He is still young and should become of the new faces of this team. There are obviously much more that is needed in the rotation but this is a great start. Houston doesn’t have a deep pool in the farm system as far as pitchers so there will be much more trading in the future. Jonathan Villar is a fast short stop and is pretty decent at hitting. He would be a top of the line up guy for his ability to get on base. The only knock on this kid is he makes a lot of fielding errors. In fact this season he has made already 42 which is way unacceptable to claim any starting job in the majors. The biggest thing Houston may of gotten out of this was the trade to the Blue Jays. Brett Wallace may have been the best hitting prospect in the Jays organization. Wallace has the ability to hit for power which is much needed and he also has the ability to knock in a lot of runs. Throughout his whole career in the minors, he has had a batting average over .280. Right now Lance Berkman is Houston’s first baseman. There have been rumors though that he may be traded for more pitching. In this case, Wallace will be Berkman’s next replacement and will be one of the main pieces of this team. Overall I am really pleased with this trade and even though we lost a hero we gained so much more. I am excited to see what happens down the road and if bigger trades will become more prevalent.

Astros 4-0 victory vs Reds avoids series Sweep

In Houston Astros 2010 Season on July 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Even though the second half of the season has started off better than the first, Houston’s overall play is still as bad as ever. Despite being 3-3 heading into their home series with the Reds, the Astros offense is still dormant and their only ace wants out-of-town. I am always optimistic about Houston turning things around and making those late season runs like they did in the mid 2000 years. This year shows no sign of this promising turn around. Though Houston is now 40-58, I am honestly surprised they have 40 wins considering their overall of inconsistent play. Houston has brought in a few new faces to help revamp this season with players as Chris Johnson, Kevin Cash, Jason Bourgeois and Angel Sanchez. Kevin Cash is now gone as he was traded to the Red Sox for Angel Sanchez. Chris Johnson has been pretty solid since his call up from Round Rock. He is currently on a nine game hitting streak while is overall batting average is .315. He has seem to be performing than season starter Pedro Feliz.

Bud Norris took game one of the series and once again struggled to keep earned run down to a minimal. Even though Red’s starter Travis Wood also struggled, Houston’s bullpen once again failed to keep runs off the board as the Reds scored two runs after a 4-4 tie to win the game 6-4. It seems of lately there are only about one or two players in the lineup that do any significant damage per game. It is always a different player and it is very rare when all the players are able to come through. Chris Johnson has been one of the more consistent players as of lately but it was Hunter Pence in this game that help Houston get on the scored board. One of the new arrivals Angel Sanchez performed well too but when your main bats in Berkman and Lee are incapable of producing, the rest of this team isn’t talented enough to win ball games late. Of course this has been a repeating story all year long and once in awhile you will see the bats clicking. Houston does have the capabilities to knock in runs but even with that  baseball clubs heavily rely on pitching.

Oswalt who has been in the media for the past week took game two and probably had his worst outing of the season giving up six runs in a mere five innings. Things seem to being going downhill for Oswalt as he just wants to get out of town. The fans of Houston have always loved The Wizard but majority of them understand why he wants to leave. We cannot be mad at him and knew this was coming at the beginning of this season and probably part through last. Houston’s total of four hits in this game just solidifies why Oswalt is just getting tired of trying to be perfect out there every time when the offense cannot muster more hits than the Hanson Brothers. Once again Chris Johnson was the only one able to record more than one hit in this game and has pretty much claimed the starting roll at third. It is a good thing that the Astros only signed Pedro Feliz to a one year contract and didn’t lose much when he becomes a FA.

Game three is always a must win when you are already down 0-2 in any series. Just becomes more a of a pride issue. Even though the Reds are in first in the division, losing three straight in a series especially at home is never a good feeling.  With Wandy Rodriguez on the mound, I am sure many people chalked this up as a loss but surprisingly Wandy pitched well and usually does at home. He does have eight wins which is only 6 less than his 2009 total but is one loss from matching 2009 too. He is probably one of the biggest disappointments this year as many people believed that he is finally become a reliable starter. You can always blame lack of offense but remember, Houston has been shooting blanks for a while. I am not really sure why Wandy cannot perform well on the road. We all know it is tougher but eventually you will figure it out. Could be a mentality ordeal just what Brad Lidge went through but not as worse.This game the Astros line up was more productive top to bottom. Bourn had a good game going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs while Johnson and Pence both hit solo shots. There have been rumors that closer Matt Lindstrom could be traded but as of now he is still in an Astros uniform where he was able to come close the game out but not in a save situation.

The Chicago Cubs who the Astros recently took the series from in Chicago come rolling into town for a three game set then they will play the Brewers following. To come out of this 3-3 would be nice and a success. I can see them going 2-4 in the next six games and Oswalt trade negotiations should be really heating up more.

Series win, Astros even second half record

In Houston Astros 2010 Season on July 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

Starting off the second half season with back to back road series is something any team hates to do. It is something that the Astros would have loved to avoid considering that they started off the beginning of the season 0-8. After notching a win to start the second half, Houston at least knew that they had at least one win under their belt and could probably breathe a little easier. Unfortunately Houston dropped the next two as they were outscored 23-6. Bud Norris pitched game two and was rocked early sending him back to the showers after only 4.2 innings pitched. By then the score was 5-4 but the bullpen couldn’t manage to stop the bleeding. Roy Oswalt took the mound game three and pitched well before leaving the game after being hit in the ankle by a ball. After that the bullpen fell apart again and the offense was only able to manage three hits to Pittsburgh suddenly potent offense which finished with 19.

Then Houston went to Chicago to face their division rival Cubs. After looking terrible against the basement dweller Pirates, another poor outing by this club look inevitable. I was proven wrong as Houston took again the first game of the series winning 11-5 and Wandy looked good on the road which is extremely rare. Third basemen Chris Johnson was a double away from reaching the cycle has he finished the day going 3 for 5 with three RBIs. Every starting player in the lineup was able to notch out a hit as the Astros finished with 17.

Game two was a completely different story as the Cubs brought out the bats and pounded the Stros 14-7. Houston was able to jump on top of the Cubs 6-0 but then the bullpen once again failed to not give up runs. Wesley Wright who has been coming out of the bullpen started his first game of his career and pitched well until the 5th inning rolled around where he gave up six runs. Chris Johnson had another huge game going 2 for 4 with 2 RBis.

Game three the bats finally cooled off as it became a pitching showdown as Brett Myers took the mound for the Astros while Ted Lilly was he counterpart. The game last twelve innings and with the help of two home runs by Jason Michaels, the Astros won 4-3. Acquired from the Red Sox this year, SS Angel Sanchez went 3 of 6 and has hit well while being in an Astros uniform.

Brett Myers, whose name has been thrown around in trade talks, has pitched well his last 5 of 6 outings. Out of those five outings, Myers once only lasted six innings, otherwise it was 7 or more. Also he was able to notch three wins amongst those outings and would probably have more if Houston could score earlier for him.

Another pitching that has been in the news again is Roy Oswalt. He has openly said that he wants to be traded but the club that picks him up also needs to pick up his $16 million option. According to sources, the Philadelphia Phillies are highly interested in acquiring the 32 year old righthander. Oswalt who has been with the Astros his whole career since 2001, has now maybe scared off any big time contenders going after him. He hasn’t been as dominate the past couple of season but many reasons could factor into that. The Phillies are looking for a solid arm to add to their top heavy rotation to help them win the NL East. The price tag might be too much and the Phillies could be shopping else where for another arm at a cheaper price. With the Braves already making a big splash in the trade market, this trade talk could come to an dead end pretty soon.

Second Half Predictions

In Around The League on July 18, 2010 at 1:50 pm

The NL finally won an All-Star game that will finally secure home field advantage when the World Series rolls around. This might be really important considering out of the top ten teams so far that half of them are AL squads but the Yankees and Rays are 1 and 2 while Boston, Texas, Chicago WS are 5,6, and 7. Now with the second half underway I don’t think there will be a lot of changes to the top of each division leader boards.

The American League East current has the New York Yankees sitting atop with the Rays and Red Sox not too far behind. I think the Yankees should walk away with this division unless some major catastrophe occurs. They are just on a different level of playing field when it comes to the rest of baseball. This being said, they Rays and Red Sox will be battling it out for the wild card spot. The Rays currently hold a 3.5 game lead and have been playing ball down the stretch. They are younger and I think more talented than the Red Sox. In my seasoning predictions, I had the Rays finishing behind the Red Sox and that still could be true. Veterans over youth is always important but the Rays youth seems to be finally understanding how to handle pressure. As far as the rest of the division, the Blue Jays should be extremely positive for how well they have played this season. They are one game above .500 which I wouldn’t have bet and for awhile actually ahead of the Red Sox. The Orioles are just a mess. They might not even win 65 games this year and probably would end up finishing behind the leader by 40 games.

American League Central for awhile look like the Minnesota Twins division. They to me just seem to have the superior staff but with the loss of Joe Nathan, their back end became pretty weak. now they are sitting in third place and 2.5 games out while the White Sox are in the lead. This might be one of the closest division races in baseball because the Twins, White Sox and Tigers will all be contending for first. They all have had great seasons so far and two of them will walk away extremely disappointed come season end. I am still going with my gut instinct and saying that the Twins will pull this out but who ever wins will be much deserving. Also watch for Miguel Cabrera as will be contending for the 30-30-30 club. Unfortunately the AL East is still too strong and the second place team in the Central won’t have a good enough record to snatch the wild card spot away.

The American League West is a two team race. The Texas Rangers keep getting better as the season progresses but the Angels do too. The way the Rangers have been playing the last month and half, you would think they would hold a bigger lead than 3.5 games. With the acquisition of Cliff Lee, Texas has made sure they have a strong enough starting rotation to maintain their lead. I could really see the Rangers make a deep run in the playoff. If Texas can avoid the up and down roller coaster they tend to go on at bad times, they might end up with the best record in baseball. The biggest disappointment here is the Seattle Mariners. They made ton of off-season moves that seemed really positive but now sit in dead last and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The Angels will need to make two big moves soon to add more talent to their line up and rotation. They have given up a lot of runs for a team contending and they will need to fix that or the Rangers will just keep adding to their lead.

The National League East could be the second most entertaining division to watch. Atlanta, Philadelphia and NY Mets are all trying to win this division. This division mirrors the AL East as there are three teams also trying to make a playoff spot also one of these teams might walk away with the wild card too. I had the Phillies winning this and I still think they will. Atlanta has been playing great though which is shocking too me. I didn’t think they were as talented as they are. The Braves traded with Toronto and the two big pieces that were switch were short stops. Yunel Escobar was sent to the Blue Jays while the Braves added Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been much more productive than the Brave’s previous short stop Escobar. Gonzalez average is 20 points better and has double the amount of RBIs. This will add even more depth to the club which should keep them in the hunt as they will expect the Mets and Phillies to make some moves. I could see the Mets slipping away in the race but they are a very scrappy club. Since this isn’t their division to lose, they might play better from behind.

The National League Central has been a two team races for majority of this season. Cardinals and the Reds have switch back and forth taking the division lead and should continue this progress until the end of the season. I honestly didn’t think they Reds would even be contending for first as I though the Cubs would have finally figured out how to play better as a team. Instead the Cubs are ten games out and in fourth. The Reds do have a few studs on their team but it isn’t filled with an all-star caliber lineup. Instead they all mesh really well together and great chemistry can make you a very promising club. They like to play in a lot of close games which I am sure Reds fans hate but they win them. The Cardinals despite being only .5 game out of first should be pretty disappointed. Outside of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, they rest of their lineup hasn’t been as dominating as Cardinal fans hoped for. Colby Rasmus is having a decent year but Ludwick, Schumaker and Molina are all struggling which has kept the Red Birds from really busting this thing wide open. Carpenter and Wainwright are both having great season while Jamie Garcia is showing that he can be a solid third pitcher.

The National League West has been run by the most surprising club of the year, San Deigo Padres. They are one of they worst offensive production clubs in the league but yet have one of the most solid pitching staff. Not filled up with All-Stars, they some how manages to keep on winning. I have mention this before, solid pitching will win you games and they are the perfect definition of that. Their rotation majority of people outside of San Diego wouldn’t have heard of but they know how to win. Outside of Mat Latos who has a 10-4 record, the rest of them record wise are not overly impressive. They just know how to keep runs off the board and then the Padres lack luster offense knows how to score at the right time to win games. Eventually I would think the stress the lack of offensive would build up on the pitchers but that has been yet to be seen. The Giants are in second and Rockies and Dodgers are not too far behind. If the Padres start to struggling, this could become a four team race. It is hard to say who will walk away with this as each club is has been dominating in certain categories.