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April 8, 2005

Reds come to town

After splitting the first two games of the season with the Cardinals, the Stros have their first weekend series of the season at Minute Maid Park against the slugging Cincinnati Reds, who are coming off a satisfying season-beginning three game sweep of the Mets. The Rocket takes the hill on Friday against the Reds' Ramon Ortiz, followed by Backe on Saturday and Roy O. in the Sunday matinee.

It's not prudent in baseball to make concrete conclusions based on the anecdotal experience of two games, but the Stros' lack of hitting -- particularly power hitting -- is apparent. In Games 1 and 2 against the Cards, the Stros were able to score a total of seven runs on 22 hits, 15 of which were singles and none of which were home runs. Pitchers Pettitte, Qualls, and Lidge looked good in Game 2 against the Cards, but without more run production, good pitching will only go so far.

reds.gifThe Reds are sort of the polar opposite of the Stros, with a raft of mashers at the plate (Houston area resident Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey, Jr., Austin Kearns, etc.), but marginal pitching, at best. The Reds also started fast last season, but faded badly after the All-Star break as the club's deficient pitching simply could not keep the team in many games. I think they will do better this season, but my sense is still that they do not have enough pitching to get to the 90 win level that is necessary to compete for a playoff spot.

The only thing that I've seen during the first two games that is truly baffling is Stros' manager Phil Garner's decision to bat light hitting shortstop Adam Everett in the leadoff spot in the Stros' order. So far in his career, Everett has been a far below average hitter. Over the past two seasons, Everett has a -24 RCAA (explained here) -- i.e, he has created 24 fewer runs than an average player in the National League would have produced in the same number of games. Moreover, Everett has a career on-base percentage of .315, which is well below the 2004 average OBP of .329 in the National League. Inasmuch as a club should not be batting someone at lead off who is merely average in terms of on base average, it goes without saying that a player who is below average in that department should not be leading off.

Although Garner's reputation rode the crest of the Stros' marvelous finish last season, his record during his eleven previous seasons as a manager before coming to the Stros was not good. Although Everett is a wonderful defensive player and those skills can justify playing him despite his offensive deficiencies, it is simply managerial malpractice for Garner to place him in the leadoff spot in the Stros' order. A few more moves like that and Garner might as well hire Jimy Williams as his bench coach.

Meanwhile, over at the Brazosport News, Banjo Jones reports on a rather embarrassing problem pertaining to Alvin, Texas' statute of former Stros star and local icon, Nolan Ryan.

Posted by Tom at April 8, 2005 4:31 AM |

Comments

The changing of the NL central guard amongst the Kirkendall clan? Go Reds. ;-)

Posted by: Josh Kirkendall at April 8, 2005 8:05 AM

Everett is weird but so is Ensberg in the cleanup slot. I expect a normal lineup once Berkman returns. This current one does not instill a whole lot of confidence.

Posted by: Mark at April 9, 2005 9:14 AM

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