|Woody Williams||Jeff Suppan|
|3 - 10, 5.75||8 - 7, 4.90|
Given recent history, it's somewhat difficult to count this team out. Everybody remembers the tombstone. But as much as you might want to believe in a monthlong stretch of .780 baseball just around the corner, there is an impediment keeping you from doing so, and that impediment is the simple fact that our 2007 Astros do nothing well, while doing several things terribly.
In 2005, as anemic with the bat as they were for good stretches, they almost always pitched, at least as long as Zeke Astacio wasn't going.
This team can only dream of doing any one thing that well.
This team has acceptable starting pitching if you're willing to overlook today's starter, and the hitting has been OK for three or four weeks now, but it doesn't hit for power, it doesn't play defense, and it can't relieve its starters.
Four games out of five it features the second-worst leadoff man in the National League, and nineteen games out of twenty, it starts the NL's second-worst #3 man by average.
So sure, I'm ready to concede. If somebody wants to send us a decent AAA third baseman for Mike Lamb, I'm all ears. If somebody thinks a steady bat like Mark Loretta can help them, and offers a AA catcher who can hit some, well, go to.
And if a contender is silly enough to offer as power-hitting second baseman for Jennings or Lidge, then what are you waiting for?
Yet there are reasons to continue watching, and only one of them is named 3000. There's Hunter Pence and his quest for the Rookie of the Year, and maybe even the batting title. There's Roy Oswalt and his climb up the team career win charts. He could be third on that list by the end of the year if the bullpen can ever hold a lead for him.
There's Matt Albers and Brandon Backe. And there's the Morgan Ensberg/Luke Scott show, in which our favorite sons of each of the past two years attempt to prove their value to the team in the next two.
The rest of this year is about next year.
So stay tuned, by all means. Just don't hold your breath for the NL Central title.