As I write this, the Houston Astros are enduring yet another typical night.
Wandy Rodriguez, who's on-again, off-again pitching deserves its own theme song (Jerry Reid's When You're Hot, You're Hot, and When You're Not, You're Not ) left tonight's game against the Cincinnati Reds after getting shelled for eight runs and eight hits over three-and-a-third innings.
We like to think he mistakenly thought he was pitching batting practice.
The 'Stros, as usual, have shown that hitting the ball into play and getting to first base before the ball does remains a foreign concept to them. One has to wonder if Sean Berry is unaware that Kaz Matsui is no longer with the team and is giving hitting instructions in Japanese.
If the Astros lose tonight's game, they'll be at 16-32 and a frigid 16 games below .500. Houston has the worst record in the National League and would have the worst record in baseball if not for the Baltimore Orioles.
Right now, it would probably be easier to get Houston schoolchildren to eat a meal of creamed cauliflower and fried liver* than to get them to watch the Astros play.
I worry that in a few years if things continue, Brad Mills will be fired. It would be a shame, since I honestly believe he'd be a fine manager IF he had decent players to work with.
I know that Jack McKeon brought the Florida Marlins back from the dead one year. Asking Mills to win with this team is tantamount to asking KISS bassist Gene Simmons to marry longtime girlfriend Shannon Tweed and bid adieu to adding more female conquests to his infamous Polaroid collection.
If Mills did that with this team (the winning part, not the sleeping with every woman in the solar system), forget a World Series parade in downtown Houston: He should be admitted simultaneously into both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian.
I can just see the Smithsonian exhibit:
Brad Mills, the rookie manager of the Houston Astros who'd never managed a major league team before, took a team that sucked so bad it could suck a proverbial golfball through a proverbial garden hose and radically turned the Astros around. After starting the season 16-32 and losing an exhibition game against the Little League World Series champion 84-0, the Astros went 114-0 en route to their first World Series championship. Fans named their sons Brad, daughters Brad-ette, and Mills ended up doing a commercial where he said, "Forget Disney World! I want Six Flags to re-open Astroworld!!!"**
I'm afraid Houston needs to start rebuilding.
My suggestion: Trade Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.
Oswalt, who will turn 33 in August, currently has an impressive career win-loss record of 139-74 and a 3.21 ERA. This season, he is 3-6 with a 2.35 ERA. He conjures up memories of Nolan Ryan, who had a National League-leading 2.79 ERA and 270 strikeouts in 1987 en route to a sickening 8-17 record.
(As a side note, many whine about how Ryan shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame because he was only a .500 career pitcher [324 wins versus 292 losses]. But what they don't tell you is that Ryan spent much of his career on mediocre teams).
In short, Roy O is wasting his talent in Houston with this team. As he's hinted already, he'd like to go somewhere where he can win a championship.
Is it possible Houston will miraculously rebound the next year and be a contender?
My feeling is it would be better to trade Oswalt and insist on getting some quality prospects and even a major-leaguer or two. Pitching and hitting. Any team that wants Oswalt will have to cough up some good players in return.
What if they don't? Then Houston better play hard ball or else: Oswalt's contract expires in 2011.
It'll stink if Oswalt goes. Chances are, he'll pull a Nolan Ryan, and have so much fun at his new home that if he makes baseball's Hall of Fame, he'll request to wear that team's cap.
Berkman is 34 and has struggled the past few years. He hit .274 last year and again got off to a slow start this year as he's at .235. Lifetime, he's at .298 with 318 home runs and 1,056 RBI. Surely, Houston could get some solid prospects in return for Berkman.
The Big Puma is in the final year of his six-year deal with the club holding a $15 million option for 2011.
Let me get this straight: I don't really want to see Oswalt or Berkman leave Houston.
I'd love to see them end their careers in Astros uniforms. I have fond memories of Berkman in 2005 hitting everything in sight, and Oswalt calmly shutting the St. Louis Cardinals down in Game Six after the Albert Pujols/Brad Lidge Game Five heartache.
But I also know that Oswalt may choose to leave for another team once his contract expires, and that Berkman has suggested he'd waive his no-trade clause.
I hate seeing both waste their time playing on a team that'll go nowhere, and I'd hate to see Roy O and Mr. Eligibility Major leave Houston with the Astros receiving absolutely nothing in return.
* I hated both cauliflower and liver as a child and still do as an adult, so I naturally assume today's children hate both also.
** Astroworld, for non-Houstonians, used to be a very popular amusement park in Houston across Loop 610 from the Astrodome. My favorite rides were the Texas Cyclone and XLR8. It closed in 2005.
Richard Zowie blogs about the joy and (mostly) the pain of being an Astros fan at Bleacher Report. Post comments here or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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