Opening Series Preview


Being apart of such a large network like we have the chance to talk with other team’s writers to preview the upcoming series. So I had an opportunity to talk with Justin, the lead writer over at That Balls Outta Here and ask him a couple of questions about the Phillies and he got to ask me about our beloved Houston Astros. This is how the conversation went:

Justin: What are your thoughts on the Astros being comprised by a lot of Phillies castoffs?  Do you think opening day will be like a bunch of children reuniting with their long lost parents?  On a related note, do you think Ed Wade is still on the Phillies payroll?

Brandon: I think Ed Wade has done a pretty good job of picking out the “Phillies castoffs”. The reason the Astros and Phillies have been regular trade partners is that Wade knows the Phillies farm system the best since he played a big role in building it up. The Astros have gotten the likes of Michael Bourn, J.A. Happ and Brett Wallace either directly or indirectly from a trade with the Phillies. He also brought in pitchers Brett Myers and Nelson Figueroa who has pitched well for us. Ed Wade has done a good job of acquiring young talent and built a solid foundation for the Astros.

Brandon: Do you expect Ryan Howard to cut down on his strikeouts this year? Do you think he would whiff less if Charlie Manuel promised Howard a Snack Pack every time he didn’t strikeout?

Justin: Ryan Howard is the shit.  He is large and therefore, by definition alone, in charge.  When he was a kid, he killed the monster under his bed with his bare hands and then invited his entire extended family over for a barbecue.  He hits home runs that span certain countries.  He has improved his defense when asked, he has come up with plenty of clutch hits, he knocks in obscene amounts of runs, he’s got a great smile, a ridiculous contract, and a tremendous work ethic.
That said. Things that could feasibly cut down on Ryan Howard’s strikeout total:
1. Being on the disabled list.
2. Being asleep (Though his “Strikeout Per Dream” total is in the thousands)
3. Retirement.
Without Jayson Werth or Chase Utley in this lineup, how the hell is he going to get anything to hit?  I’m just hoping he’s improved his speed enough to beat out a few dropped third strikes.

Justin: Brett Myers filled many roles in Philadelphia:  Opening Day starter/closer/rehabbing minor league pitcher/class clown/domestic abuse specialist.  What role do you seem him playing in Houston now and in the future?

Brandon: Brett Myers did wear alot of different hats for the Phillies in his tenure there but he has become the ace and workhorse for the Astros and did a great job last year. I expect him to continue that in 2011 but his value won’t be on the field but in the trade market. I don’t expect Myers to finish the year in an Astros uniform. Do you think the Phillies will take him back?

Brandon: Are Phillie fans ready to turn the lights out on Brad Lidge and hope Manuel will hand the closer role to Ryan Madson even after Lidge comes back from the DL?

Justin: My mom takes care of feral cats and tries to raise them to the point where they can be adopted by people without killing one of their kids.  Sometimes, they’ll cower in the back of a crate or under a bed, mewing piteously until they’re allowed to roam in a more open environment; but given their initial behavior, doing so is a risk.  What I’m saying is, every time they’ve let Ryan out of his crate, he’s shit all over the carpet and scratched out somebody’s cornea.  Which sucks, because all of his work in the eighth inning has been so damn appealing, and we want him to be just as great three outs later, and so does he, and it would make the most sense if he was.
That said, Brad Lidge has left enough stains on the rug and required enough surgeries that maybe we’ve started to wonder whether he is really worth the trouble. 

Justin: Was/Is is it difficult to see Roy Oswalt achieving success in a foreign team’s colors?  If not, how awful was it to see Lance Berkman wearing a Yankees uniform?

Brandon: Roy Oswalt was a fan favorite and a class act with the Astros and it was not difficult to see him pitch well for the Phillies. Roy Oswalt wants a ring and the Astros knew they were not in a position to compete for one. I believe moving Oswalt and what the Phillies sent us, worked out for both organizations. The same with Berkman who’s skills have gone down over the past few years, so it was good to see the Astros get some pieces back in return, no matter how small. However, it will be extremely hard to see Berkman wearing that awful Cardinals uniform this year. I don’t expect Berkman to get the same welcome Oswalt will when they return to Houston.

Brandon: Where do you expect the Phillies to find the offense they lost with Jayson Werth heading to Washington? Or does management plan on winning all their games 1-0 with the Super Staff they have constructed?

Justin: Well, the Phillies wouldn’t have put pitching first if they were for some reason against winning a ton of 1-0 games, but I still think our offense is pretty formidable.  I mean, even without Chase Utley, whose return is inevitable, we’re still basically identical to the team with the second most run total in the

We… we LOST Jayson Werth?!  TO THE NATIONALS?!?
Oh, yeah.  Never mind.  We’re fucked.  Plus we’re old, too.  You forgot that.  So damn old.

Justin: A lot of people thought your four game sweep of us last season was a nail in the coffin.  Do you expect to emulate that dominance against Philly this season, and if so, do you see many/all of Trevor Harris’ bold predictions coming true?

Brandon: It is hard to expect a team that is rebuilding to continue dominance over a team that is expecting to compete for a World Series title this year. The two teams seem to be built very similarly around a strong pitching staff. The talent level though right now is not comparable. Looking at Trevor’s predictions I actually consider all to be realistic predictions and I can see everyone coming true.

Brandon: Over/under 1.5 Phillies fans tasered during the Astros series this weekend?

Justin: A-ha! You didn’t specify whether it would be because they ran onto the field or not, so the answer is way, way over!  Joke’s on you, Croce!  Also, the joke is on Philadelphia.

Justin:  Is Wandy Rodriguez’s nickname really “WayRod?”  That is excellent.

Brandon: Wandy has a couple of nicknames with WayRod being one of the better ones. I am partial to Magic Wandy.

Brandon: Can the Phillies stars (Lidge, Utley, Rollins, etc.) stay healthy enough for them to make another run to the World Series?

Justin: As we do in Philadelphia, allow me to answer your innocent question with bullets.
*Yeah I don’t know if Brad qualifies as a “star” anymore.
*I’ll also answer your question with a question:  Do you know how to cure chondromalacia?  Please tell us if you do.  Otherwise, Chase has already answered this query with a resounding “NO.”
*Well, Jimmy’s got that whole “contract year” thing floating over his head, but even if he has the kick assiest year on record, what are the odds he comes back and does it again with an extension?  Barring that ideal scenario, I would hope he comes out this year, is awesome, gets picked up again, and if the Phillies need to let him go, I would hope he gets picked up by the Orioles and is a part of their rise from the ashes, being the missing sense of outspoken cockiness they need to seal the deal.

Justin: Don’t you think “Star Power” would be a good name for an Astros blog?  I’ve had that idea for a while but this is honestly the first time I’ve interacted with an actual Astros fan.

Brandon: Star Power is not a bad name for a site but Climbing Tal’s Hill is pretty good and is the best Astros blog on the web right now with the talented staff we have over here.

Brandon: If you could take back any of the former Phillie cast-offs on the current Astros, who would you want back?

Justin: Brad Mills.  Hell of a bench coach.  That man could coach so many benches into submission, it wouldn’t even be worth watching him yell and scream at a piece of furniture for several hours, because you knew he’d come out on top.  What do you mean, “That’s not at all what a bench coach does”?  I think I would know.  I have a blog about baseball.