Some things to talk about while Jason Lane gets a shot as a reliever...
1) A failed experiment?
Late last night, Brian T. Smith posted a story over at Ultimate Astros about how the Astros $21 million experiment failed. He referenced the front office saying they'd be a .500 team this year and how they'd compete just like the Oakland A's. He brings this up again and again to illustrate that the front office didn't do its job with this major league roster.
Which is all true. As good a job as Luhnow and Co. are doing with the minors and trying to extract value in trades, they did not assemble a major league roster that could compete in the AL West. Their one free agent splurge, a starting DH, didn't make it to the end of July.
I guess the question that Smith cannot answer is whether the front office believed that they'd seriously be a contender. I have to think they knew what roster they had and thought they'd be right around here. Maybe not the worst team in the majors, but certainly a team flirting with 100 losses.
So, do you hold the team accountable for its coach-speak in talking about expectations this season? Wouldn't you rip them more if they came out and said "Yes, we're going to lose a lot in 2013." Of course, we did the same thing to the old front office when they tried to pump up players competing for the rotation or to compare T.J. Steele to Cesar Cedeno.
I mean, when they were throwing around talk about Jordan Lyles being the "ace" of this pitching staff, how many of us mocked that? Were we truly shocked when his numbers came back down to earth? Apparently Smith was, as he has another critical piece on Lyles and the questions his performance raise in this notebook.
It's a fine line we have to walk in writing about this team. The path to hell (or Kansas City) is paved with good intentions. This team could compete in a few years, but I don't think we can take everything the front office says at face value. We have to hold them accountable from time to time, and I think that's what Smith is trying to do. I don't necessarily agree with his points, but I do agree with his sentiment.
2) Bedard hard to catch?
Via Astros County, here's a note about Jason Castro and those pesky passed balls from Erik Bedard:
With Bedard, I mean, the way that he pitches I only know what's coming about half the time. In certain instances it's tough to catch back there, when he has such good movement and it's not always expected.
AC does a good job of breaking down how silly this is. Does Bedard throw a knuckleball and we don't know about it? Castro didn't look great defensively there, but he's been fairly average for much of the season. But, quotes like this sound an awful lot like making excuses, don't they?
3) Trade rumors roundup
Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters that Matt Garza was "100%" to pitch in Monday's game, according to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. After trade talks heated up late last week, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Garza would not make another start for the Cubs. He's slated to pitch, though, which likely means that any deal that was in place with the Rangers has fallen apart -- otherwise, there would be little reason to send him out to the mound while in a Cubs' uni.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have moved on from Garza. Instead of focusing on Bud Norris like they promised, they're going after someone named Santana. Sounds made up, if you ask me:
The Rangers "checked in" with the Royals about pitcher Ervin Santana, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Royals are not yet ready to sell, however, and until they are they will not look to deal the expiring-contract of Santana, who could likely bring back a compensation pick were he to sign elsewhere this off-season. The Rangers likely view him as an alternative to Matt Garza as they attempt to upgrade their rotation for the stretch run. With the Royals currently 45-50 and seven games out in the AL Central, they might change their tune about selling within the next few days.
Oh, and you can definitely add the Red Sox back to teams looking for relief pitching again, even after picking up Matt Thornton. That can only mean good things for the Jose Veras trade market.