What do you want to see in the final month?
We’re into September and the Astros are all but eliminated. That’s pretty much unchartered territory around these parts. We’re used to seeing the Astros play meaningful games up until the last week of the regular season, even if they fell short the past few years. It’s been pretty rare that the Astros have played meaningless games in terms of the standings, but we have plenty of those coming up.
So what’s on tap for the rest of the season?
Well, the Astros owe it to their veteran players to try to win as many games as they can and avoid a losing season (they’d have to 18-11 to finish .500), but perhaps it’s time to give some of the young players a look. I know, it’s not like the Astros have a wealth of young talent at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues, but there some interesting players.
Shortstop Tommy Manzella, a Major League-ready defensive player, could be among the next wave of Minor League call-ups, and if so I’d play him as much as possible. That wouldn’t sit well with Miguel Tejada, but he’s slumped terribly in the second half and likely isn’t coming back. Let’s see what Manzella has got. He might be the starting shortstop next year.
Same is true with Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino. No matter how poorly they pitch, I’d tell them they’re taking the ball every five days and don’t worry about results. Rack up some innings and learn as much as you can and be ready to win a job in spring training.
I’d like to see what catcher Jason Castro can do, too, but he’s headed off overseas to be a part of Team USA in the Baseball World Cup.
I don’t anticipate the Astros calling up any more pitchers. They’re already sitting at 14 pitchers, which means veterans Geoff Geary and Chris Sampson will have some free time in September. That will undoubtedly be difficult for them.
Other than that, I think we’ll see pretty much the same club the rest of the season. I think it’s important for Wandy Rodriguez and Michael Bourn to cap off their fine seasons in style, along with younger guys like Wesley Wright re-establishing themselves.
The Astros’ .247 team batting average in August was third-worst in the National League, ahead of only Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh was the only NL team to score fewer runs.
And there were some woeful individual numbers in August. Hunter Pence hit .232, Jeff Keppinger .226, Miguel Tejada .212 and Kaz Matsui .202.
Michael Bourn had reached base in 25 consecutive games via a hit or a walk prior to going 0-for-1 on Wednesday in Chicago. Bourn didn’t start and was used as a pinch-hitter late in the game, so that’s a tough way for a streak to end. The streak was the longest current streak of its kind in the Majors and a career-long for Bourn