May 13, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Houston Astros manager Brad Mills (2) reacts to an umpires call during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the twelfth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2 in twelve innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Game Day Six Pack: “What’s Dallas Keuchel still doing in Oklahoma City?”


Maybe we’ll play a baseball game today.  If so, here’s somebody who knows something about the Astros to correct our ignorance.  It’s Austin Swafford of Astros 290!  Shut up and let him speak.

I noticed a Brad Mills rant or two on your site, centered around the “save situation” argument.  Why do you think guys like Mills and Charlie Manuel are so married to the concept of bringing in the closer only when the closer’s stats stand to go up a notch?

I think the save stat has convinced a lot of managers that a closer must always be used in a save situation, unless your starting pitcher is Justin Verlander or Roy Halladay. Starting pitchers can’t be trusted to finish games because they don’t have that “it” factor that you need to pitch the ninth because that inning is different from all the rest. Because, you know, in the ninth you HAVE to get three outs, whereas the approach in all the other innings is that it’s really not that important to get outs.

You can really take them or leave them until the ninth. It’s pretty ludicrous that they’ve put such importance on a fairly arbitrary stat. Why should a save have so much more value than a hold? It shouldn’t, but for some reason, it does, even though the function is basically the same. That issue is compounded in Houston where they’re trying to pad the stats for Brett Myers so they can trade him.

Is there a ticking time bomb around J.A. Happ’s neck?  If not, where is it located on him?

Oh, definitely. It took three starts to make Houston pundits go from “he’s really recovered from a bad 2011″ to “What’s Dallas Keuchel still doing in Oklahoma City?” It’s pretty bad.

How long will it be before I stop referring to players like Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart as “Phillies prospects?”  When will my dreams where they’re all laughing and high-fiving as I drift off a cliff in a school bus driven by an insane Hunter Pence stop?

2014, I hope? 2013 is too optimistic, but they’re both doing quite well at Double-A and I’m hoping they get up to Houston while the rest of the team is still young and intact. The Phillies have had enough laughs at the Astros’ expense, thanks to Ed Wade. It’s way past time the Astros got a little chuckle in.

I’ve watched Brett Myers falter as a starter and exceed as a closer before.  Do you think a miraculous comeback win that clinches you a playoff spot is in the near future?

In 2012? No. This team is playing far better and heading in the right direction. But their recent offensive woes show how far they still have to go. They have great potential but still not the consistency of a winner. I think Brett Myers (along with J.A. Happ and, sadly, Wandy Rodriguez) will all be long gone before this team starts talking playoffs again. I just hope Wandy lands somewhere good. He’s just 3-3 right now with a 1.99 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He deserves to play for a good team.

As the Astros prepare to leave their mark on the NL Central before abandoning it entirely, what will their legacy be?  What will the last image be?  Who will be most humiliated by it?

I’d love to say their legacy will be the kind of team they were from 1997-2005 when they won four division titles, had a lot of 90-win seasons, went to a couple of NL championship series and even got to a World Series once.

Sadly, I think their legacy will really be as a team that had some good years but was just out of place with classic franchises like Chicago and St. Louis. A team without a true rival. A team that MLB was perfectly comfortable moving to another division in another league.

Hopefully, however, the last image will be as a young team on the rise that is resurrecting itself from the ashes of some pretty bad mismanagement at the hands of Drayton McLane and Ed Wade. They, of course, own the responsibility for the bad image the Astros have cultivated over the last few years. McLane most of all, for running one of baseball’s truly great minds in Gerry Hunsicker out of town.

Tags: Astros Six Pack