Astros Series Preview

The Yankee series was stunning to say the least. The Rays entered that series struggling offensively and were slated to face Burnett who had absolutely murdered the Rays in recent history and Pettitte who had been rolling through American League batters. They leave New York with both wins and having won one game with their legs and another with their power.  At 30-11, the club is now five games up on the competition in the division and is the first team to win 30 games in 2010. Each team that was the first to 30 games in the past three seasons made the playoffs but only the 2007 Red Sox made the World Series.  That said, Cork Gaines of RaysIndex shows us just how much a five game lead in May helps the club.

On paper, the Astros could not have asked for a better inter-league match-up landing the struggling Houston Astros. While the Rays have had a recent offensive slump in May, the Astros have hit like that the entire season. Their ace Roy Oswalt is pitching his tail off and yet the club is not giving him any support and Carlos Lee has only recently started to hit home runs; the bottom half of this line-up is downright putrid. Scott Barzilla of KissMyAstros.com took some time to answer some questions for me about the series – a series that I will be attending in person on Saturday and Sunday!

(DOTR): On a scale of 1-10, where is the frustration level with the Astros fanbase right now? Is that frustration more directed at the product on the field, Ed Wade, or Drayton McLane?

I would say it is at 12. Most of it is directed at McLane on two levels. Intelligent fans see the decay on the roster and in the farm system and are outraged that we haven’t rebuilt. Casual fans see a losing team and think he hasn’t spent enough. Either way, he shoulders the blame.

I’m not a big Ed Wade guy, but a lot of the criticism is not completely fair given how McLane has hamstrung him. I quibble with some individual decisions, but the direction is all McLane’s.

(DOTR): McLane has an unfortunate history of seeing possibilities in the Astros that just do not match with reality. Do you think this is the season he approves of Oswalt and Berkman being traded or will he once again think the team can contend based on a lot of if/then scenarios?

Being a hardcore Astros fan is a tapdance in loyalties. No one really roots for the Astros to lose. You always want your team to win. Yet, we all realize that if we win he won’t trade them and might even try to add. So, the losing part is not that heartbreaking. Then again, we also realize that those players must play well in order to be desired by other teams. If they play well we probably win more often. We’re stuck in this cycle unfortunately.

(DOTR): What is your opinion on how the young arms Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino have done so far this season?

Realistically they are doing fine. Paulino has made more progress because he has more upside. Norris might need another pitch or he may need to go to the pen. He does okay the first time through the order but teams have figured him out after that.

(DOTR): Given how Matt Lindstrom has pitched this season, has your opinion changed at all about the 3 year deal Brandon Lyon was given?

My opinion hasn’t changed. I’m not sure if it was the worst contract given last winter, but it was among them. Lyon has done well for the most part so this is really not his fault and there is little he can do differently. I’m just of the opinion that long-term contracts and relievers don’t mix.

(DOTR): What do you make of the entire J.R. Towles situation. Does he have a future in Houston or is a change of organization in his best interest?

In short, he’s done. Towles was never given an opportunity to succeed after he struggled early in 2008. If the Phillies had done the same with Mike Schmidt or if the Braves had done the same with Smoltz and Glavine we would be deprived of three Hall of Famers. This organization has unrealistic expectations of young players after watching Oswalt, Berkman, and Pence all succeed out of the gate. For his sake, I hope he gets dealt.

I want to thank Scott for his time and please visit his blog later today to see his questions for me related to this series in Houston.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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