|Ezequiel Astacio||Javier Vazquez|
|1 - 4, 7.17||9 - 9, 4.29|
With Monday's offday being the first since the All-Star break, I took the opportunity to do absolutely nothing Astros-related on that day. I mean, I might have opened a padded mailer from some ebay vendor that had a numbered Astros baseball card, but for the most part, I just read from my newly arrived copy of The Year's Best Science Fiction # 22, which believe me, I was really glad to do.
And of course, yesterday, I was too busy railing on about Mr. Better Living Through Chemistry over there with the Orioles.
So it wasn't until just now that I was able to take a look at Tim Purpura's webchat from Monday over at the officail site.
And I gotta say, his questioners were honest, forthright, and upfront.
Tim, though: not so much.
I understand that he's kind of prohibited from ragging on Dan O'Brien as the sleazy price-gouger that he is, and I maybe even get that some in the Jamie Moyer camp would be upset if he mentioned Moyer's name, but in general, the approach to the trade deadline as it fizzled was a sort of Panglossian positivism that says whatever did happen was the best of all possible developments.
And that's obviously not the case. No, the Astros should not have met the Reds' ransom demands for Adam Dunn, and maybe there was even a good reason why an equitable Kevin Millar deal didn't get done. But to pretend that the Astros' needs are fully met as we head nto the home stretch frankly insults both his webcast questioners, and those fans reading a couple days later (me!).
Purpura's gotta be smart enough to know that you don't take your samples off the leading edge of the curve. Yes, the Astros are 14 - 4 since the All-Star break, and yes, they'd been pretty good before that, going back to the start of June. They needed to do that to get back into the race. But it's naive to think that this is a .740 baseball team. It insults no-one on the team or associated with it to suggest that this team is going to naturally fall back a little bit. Maybe the 1906 Cubs played .740 for four months, but certainly, no-one since then has.
My favorite part of the whole thing was when one of the participants got to the heart of the matter and asked about the dearth of a power hitter. In addition to expressing an unrealistic conception of what Jason Lane represents, Purpura raised my eyebrows by saying the following:
We have more contact hitters and more hitters with higher on-base percentages than we have had in the recent past. Since playoff games are typically low scoring games, we feel like that balance is an important characteristic to have as you head into the playoffsProblem is that the Astros' team OBP, if it continues--and even a 43-18 run hasn't changed it much--will be the lowest since 1992, which was of course 1) in a much more offensively unfriendly ballpark and 2) a whole different era. So, yes, OBP is good, but no, we don't have it.
Purpura, while noting many of the good things Willy Taveras has done, also could have reassured some of the team's more astute fans by simply mentioning the obvious: that Willy T's walk rate is going to need to increase. Plus what's up with all the flyballs off his bat lately?
Purpura also said several nice and uncontroversial things about Jeff Bagwell, and downplayed the magnitude of the decision that may need to be made when Backe returns from the DL.
Tim Purpura seems like a nice guy, and I think he's doing a pretty good job. But he's no spinmeister.
Anyway, Zeke Astacio takes the hill in front of the stripe at the BOB tonight, and maybe he can meander his way through a somewhat underachieving D-Backs lineup in the fashion that Roger did last night.
Or maybe we hit Vazquez. . . .