Inside Look: Mets vs. Astros

astros_throwback.jpgAfter sweeping the Braves out of Shea, the New York Mets begin a weekend series tonight against the Houston Astros.

The Astros come in with a 64-63 record, which is respectable, but puts them in fourth place, 14 games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.

In many ways, the Astros are something of a disappointment this season, considering their offensive output in 2007 and significant offseason moves. However, it’s not looking good for them right now, and we’ve called on Lisa Gray of MVN’s Astros Dugout to give us an idea of what happened down in Houston.

1. What the heck happened? After acquiring Miguel Tejada in the offseason, the Astros seemed poised to make a serious run at the playoffs. Where did the plans for success go wrong?

Miguel Tejada was not the offensive force that the Astros thought he was and in fact, he has had only one good month with the bat. J.R. Towles and Michael Bourn also were not the offensive forces. But the main reason there hasn’t been the kind of success that the Organization hoped for is that they simply do not have good pitching.

2. Any consideration to putting Brandon Backe at 1B or LF when he’s not pitching? That .308 average and .513 slugging percentage is pretty impressive.

Well, we have Lance Berkman at first and he is kind of pretty good you know what I’m sayin. The person he might replace is Hunter Pence in right, who has seriously regressed as a hitter this year, another reason this team hasn’t done nearly as well offensively as predicted.

3. In mid-July, the Houston was mired in last place, over a dozen games out of first in a division that is clearly dominated by the Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs. Yet, GM Ed Wade was wheeling and dealing like the Astros were in the thick of the pennant race. What was he thinking, and how do you as a fan feel about him bringing in re-treads and rentals such as Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins?

I understand why it was done – the owner thinks that if he doesn’t put a team of vets on the field and say that we’re “competing” that fans won’t show up. However, he really has no one of any value to trade who doesn’t have a no-trade, and there really are no minor leaguers near to ready to come up. I just hope that we don’t re-sign LaTroy Hawkins and Randy Wolf.

4. Maybe I’m being too harsh … as an Astros fan, are you still hopeful that the playoffs are possible, or have you resigned to rebuilding for 2009?

Oh, I’m always hopeful. I’m hopeful that Grady Sizemore will call me this afternoon and tell me he’s in love with me. However, I’m not holding my breath. And I’m not holding my breath about “rebuilding” for 2009 either. We may see Felipe Paulino in the rotation, if he’s healthy, and we will probably see J.R. Towles take Ausmus’ spot, but I doubt there will be any trades of veterans for prospects.

5. Who has been the biggest surprise this season? The biggest disappointment?

The biggest surprise has been Ty Wigginton, who has fielded better than the absolute disaster I expected, and hit better (except with RISP) than I expected, even before his hot streak.

The biggest disappointment, I guess, would be Miguel Tejada, who occupies the #3 hole and can’t hit with MOB or drive in runs. Unlike many other fans, I didn’t expect Tejada to hit .330 and hit 50 homers, but he hasn’t lived up to even 50th percentile projections.

6. What would you like to see happen with the Astros between now and the end of the season? During the offseason?


What I would LIKE to see isn’t going to happen.
I would really like this team to try to acquire prospects and good young players, but they won’t, so at the very least, I would like them to try to sign at least ONE starter who could be a #2 as we ALREADY have plenty of #5 type guys.

7. What youngster(s), either on the Astros 25-man roster now or in the minors, should we be looking for this September and in 2009?

I would like to see Tommy Manzella, shortstop, whose glove is said to equal Adam Everett’s and J.R. Towles, who has regained his stroke at AAA. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if they instead call up a bunch of washed up AAAA guys.

Again, in 09, best I can tell right now, the only guys I am pretty sure about are Paulino and Towles. IF Brian Bogusevic, who couldn’t get A ball guys out as a pitcher, continues to hit like Ankiel, he might could earn a call-up, youneverknow.

Thanks again to Lisa Gray for her insight. Be sure to check out Astros Dugout for more information on the Houston Astros.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.