After snapping an eight-game losing streak on Carlos Lee's walk-off home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 4-2, the Houston Astros are now 9-18 on the season. They are comfortably nestled in last place in the N.L. Central.
Don't get too excited about the win, Astros fans. The home run was only the first of the season for Lee, who plays in a very right-handed hitter-friendly ballpark and is now dead-even with the infamous Mendoza Line at .200.
Despite the win, Houston was outhit by Arizona 8-4. Brett Myers pitched a good game for the Astros, giving up two hits in seven innings along with three walks and six strikeouts, but as Roy Oswalt has learned, great pitching can get wasted when your team couldn't get a clutch hit against a pimply, puberty-challenged high school pitcher.
What can the Houston Astros do to improve their hitting? Here are some humble suggestions:
Fire Sean Berry
I have no doubt Berry's a great guy and I admire what he's had to overcome as far as his kidney problems, but it doesn't look like he's getting the job done. It's a business, nothing personal.
Stop "Working" the Count
It's hard to work the count when you're suddenly down 0-2. Against some pitchers, you have to bring your swinging stick. Lay off the bad pitches, swing at the good ones.
Don't Become the Pitcher's Friend
This is something I tell my two youngest sons as they play baseball. Don't swing at the bad pitches. Make the pitcher either throw you something good or walk you. For the love of Jimmy Wynn and Jose Cruz, please oh please do not swing at bad pitches.
Acquire Good Hitters
It's pretty sad when Lance Berkman's hitting .213. Of Houston's regular hitters, only Michael Bourn is hitting above .300 at .312. Houston does have two guys hitting above .400, but unfortunately, they're both pitchers. There are lots of players hitting .250 or below.
I wonder why Houston doesn't have better access to solid hitters in its minor league system, or why it doesn't go after .300 hitters in trades and free agency? Maybe it's just the ugly uniforms that make people's batting averages sink in Houston.
Threaten to Bring Back Dr. Phil
As I jokingly mentioned in a previous post, Dr. Phil came in to motivate Houston to play better. If the threat of Oprah's favorite pet doctor isn't scary enough, I don't know what is.
Bring in Simon Cowell
What could make Astros hitters quiver more than to receive an angry tongue lashing from the man most of America (including myself in a non-personal way) LOVES to hate? I can see it now: "Lance Buh-kman, your hitting is atrocious! You say you may-juhed in 'eligibility' at Rice Uni-veh-sity, but what you should've may-juhed in was 'hitting the ball'!"
Knock Over a Few Post-Game Buffet Tables
Billy Martin was notorious for doing this after his team played a bad game. One manager I read about did this also--but never when they served kielbasa (which he loved). Perhaps Brad Mills should knock over a few tables and force the Astros to go to TGI Friday's. Or maybe he should instruct caterers to serve haggis and split pea soup.
Richard Zowie is a blogger and long-suffering Houston Astros fan. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org .