A look at the new-look Astros and the many unknowns currently inhabiting Minute Maid Park.
Since July 1, the Astros are 9-23 and have been outscored 109-163. At the trade deadline, they traded away their two most recognizable offensive stars, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Even before the deadline, Jeff Keppinger was sent packing. The Astros were probably the worst team in baseball before the deadline and were certainly that after it. The obscurity of the Houston lineup caused Larry Granillo to ask how the team would stack up against the Peanuts gang. That may be a stretch, but it seems fair enough to ask how they would stack up against a middling Triple-A team. Given how long Baseball Prospectus authors and our fellow travelers have been calling for rebuilding in the Bayou City, however, it seems unfair to criticize their current futility. Instead, let us provide this introduction to the new-look(-away) Astros.
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A look at Jered Weaver's outstanding 2011 season, his perpetually great ERA, and his propensity for pop-ups.
On July 21, Jered Weaver recorded his 13th win of the season. His box score recorded his seven innings, two walks, and six strikeouts to go with his zero runs and seven hits. His box score even recorded his 122 pitches—the sixth time this year he has thrown 120 pitches or more. Next to his box score, Weaver sits atop the leaderboard for ERA. But Weaver’s box scores do not tell the whole story.
While some home-run hitters can make it look easy, nothing about Jim Thome has ever looked effortless.
Jim Thome hit his 596th career home run on Sunday. The 490-foot blast was as pure a demonstration of Thome’s classic swing as any in his 20-year career. Delmon Young, who looked on from the on-deck circle, put it best when he simply gaped at the homer’s majesty. (The .gif linked above is almost certainly the finest of this baseball season so far. The way Young’s face slowly edges into the frame really sells it.) Others have written at length about the noteworthiness of Thome’s home run, but it’s worth reiterating the finer points of Thome’s style and swing.
Tommy looks at the difficulty in improving one's control but three pitchers who have managed to do so thus far in 2011.
Just throw a strike, for the love of all that is good and holy. Surely you’ve thought this after you team’s pitcher walks the third guy in an inning. Just throwing strikes seems like the easiest way in the world to win. If only these bums would challenge hitters in the zone they might be able to limit the damage, pitch deeper into games, and eat more innings. But dumping walks by increasing control is one of those “good work if you can get it” type of situations. For every Brad Radke there are three Daniel Cabreras waiting in the wings.