Here at Climbing Tal’s Hill we generally prefer to take the “glass half-full” approach. But occasionally I have to clear my head with a realistically negative rant. At the halfway point of the season the Astros 28-53 record is by far the worst in the majors. The team has lost five in a row and 19 of their last 24. They are 13-30 at home and have lost 13 of their last 15 at MMP.
Does this year’s squad possess the moxie of recent Astros teams to turn things around and put together a winning record in the second half? Probably not. Brad Mills has no confidence in all but two of his relievers, and for good reason. A 4.72 team E.R.A. ranks 29th in the majors. Astros pitchers have allowed 97 homers. Astros hitters have only produced 45 longballs. The ratio is even more depressing at home. In fact, Lance Berkman’s five homers at Minute Maid Park this season are more than any Houston player. This team simply hasn’t been competitive, especially against American League foes.
Our latest poll here at “the hill” asks readers to grade the performance of manager Brad Mills. I have to give him an F. Although the Astros roster is shorter on talent than most teams, their .346 winning percentage is .061 points lower than their nearest competitor. Mills seems to be afraid to play certain youngsters and I just don’t understand why. Jose Valdez was passed over for relief chances early in the season while Fernando Abad continued to throw gopher balls on a regular basis. Can anyone tell me why Fernando Rodriguez spent nine days in the majors before making his first appearance out of the bullpen? Catcher Brian Esposito was called up on Saturday and sent back down today without appearing in a single game. Meanwhile, Carlos Corporan (.178/.208/.222) has started 14 of the last 16 games behind the plate. Why not give Esposito a shot? I just can’t make any sense out of it. With new ownership on the horizon I think Mills is in serious jeopardy of losing his job.