March 2007

Final cuts

Matt Albers and Fernando Nieve will not start the season at The Show this Monday. They, alongside Eric Bruntlett have been optioned to Round Rock, while Brian Moehler and Chris Sampson survived Spring Training altogether. I can imagine the reason behind Nieve and Albers’ demotion was that of needing more opportunities for them to pitch, and that was not guaranteed right away in Houston.

With a rotation of Roy Oswalt, Woody Williams, Jason Jennings, Wandy Rodriguez and Sampson, and Luke Scott as the starting RF instead of Jason Lane, here’s how the roster ended up:

Pitchers
(12):
RHP Dave Borkowski, RHP Jason Jennings, RHP
Brad Lidge, LHP Trever Miller, RHP Brian Moehler, RHP Roy Oswalt, RHP Chad
Qualls, LHP Wandy Rodriguez, RHP Chris Sampson, RHP Dan Wheeler, RHP Rick
White, and RHP Woody Williams.

Catchers
(2):
Brad Ausmus, Humberto Quintero.

Infielders
(6):
Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Morgan Ensberg,
Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, and Mark Loretta.

Outfielders (5):  Chris Burke, Jason Lane, Carlos
Lee,
Orlando Palmeiro, and Luke Scott.

Finally

Ph_roy_od_275x235Let me tell you, I have never felt so good receiving a press release as I did with this one. Finally it’s here.

ASTROS BEGIN 2007 SEASON WITH SIX-GAME HOMESTAND

ASTROS PLAY HOST TO THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES AND THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

HOUSTON – The Houston Astros begin their season with a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates (April 2-4), followed by a series against the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals (April 6-8).

Highlights of the season-opening homestand include: Houston Astros Opening Day Street Festival (April 2), National Anthem performance by country music star Clay Walker (April 2), Presentation of Rawlings Gold Glove Award to Brad Ausmus (April 3), and Jeff Bagwell Appreciation Night with a tribute to Jeff Bagwell and a special figurine giveaway of the longtime Astros first baseman and franchise icon (April 6).

HOMESTAND OPPONENTS
(APRIL 2-4) PITTSBURGH PIRATES: The Pirates travel to Minute Maid Park for the Astros opening series of the 2007 season. Games are Monday (April 2) at 6:05 p.m., Tuesday (April 3) at 7:05 p.m., and Wednesday (April 4) at 7:05 p.m. RHP Roy Oswalt will make his fifth consecutive Opening Day start on April 2, facing Pirates LHP Zach Duke.

(APRIL 6-8) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: The St. Louis Cardinals visit Minute Maid Park in their first road trip of the season. The Astros will face the Cardinals for the first time since the last 2006 home series at Minute Maid Park. Games are Friday (April 6) at 7:05 p.m., Saturday (April 7) at 6:05 p.m., and Sunday (April 8) at 1:05 p.m.

The whole text is available at http://astros.mlb.com/hou/mediacenter/homestand.jsp

Decisions, decisions

Capta1ec5af99bb249c6a66ead8ebbed4511astrIt isn’t easy to be a Major League manager. Phil Garner knows it quite well. Time is running out and tough decisions must be made.

Seeing Ezequiel Astacio, and being patient with him, was becoming harder for us each and every time. He has talent, no doubt. But he couldn’t rise to expectations. That’s why he was put on waivers, and now we see the Rangers taking him.

Astacio wasn’t a strong contender by any chance for a rotation spot. That’s why we saw things being decided
between Wandy Rodriguez and Fernando Nieve, and it seems like Nieve will take the fifth spot in the end; all because Brian Moehler hasn’t been able t odeliver.

Chris Sampson might be the long reliever, after all; only confirming our suspicions. When it comes to the most established starters, Woody Williams is having mixed results in his outings. We hope he feels 100% in shape when the season starts. We are not so sure about that but I hope I’m wrong.

Will this experiment of Morgan Ensberg in the second lineup spot work? It would take a bit of pressure out of him since he wouldn’t be in crucial places in the order anymore. He’s had contact in his better moments. I hope it works, and if it doesn’t, don’t blame us for losing our patience with him.

Finally, we are sorry that Richard Hidalgo wasn’t able to capitalize on his Spring Training invitation. We can’t say he didn’t make his best effort. He truly deserved this chance; and it’s sad to see he couldn’t make the best out of it.

Amazing

Elnac_pb_1

That’s today’s front page of the Sports Section from El Nacional, one of the biggest dailies in Venezuela. I spent four days without my Internet connection, so when I finally logged on, I found an amazing sample of great coverage from many papers in Caracas. Some of them sent reporters to Spring Training camps, and they’ve spent quite some time at Kissimmee, interviewing Richard Hidalgo, Luke Scott and Hector Gimenez, among others; and also sharing the remarkable story of bullpen assistant Javier Bracamonte. There’s a sample at a Web album we’ve created to share some of it. Enjoy.