added 4/13/2002 by Raymond Desadier
I can’t begin to count how many articles were written from the time Jimy Williams was named skipper of the Houston Astros about what a “teacher” he was. Just what has he taught this team? How to lose? He sure hasn’t taught them how to win, unless you count spring training games.

If Williams is such a teacher, why hasn’t he taught Astros hitters to swing at first pitch strikes when it is a proven fact that it yields positive results? Even if he is unable to drive this concept through thick skulls can’t he at least plead to swing at hanging, HITTABLE curve balls? Most ballplayers are taught from little league that when a batter gets two strikes, he is to defend the plate by swinging at anything questionable. Has Jimy not yet reached the little league learning level? Just what kind of learning curve is he throwing?

I must admit, after reading these countless articles, I was very impressed with Williams. He sounded different than his predecessor. Thus far I see no difference, other than minor details. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not blaming him for the poor play of his team. I just want to know what he has been teaching because I have not seen any lessons learned. Has he not begged Richard Hidalgo to quit trying to pull everything?

Maybe he should remind his players that Alan Zinter and Keith Ginter aren’t available to pull games out in the late innings anymore so it might be a good idea to use that piece of wood in their hands sometime before the fourth inning. Perhaps the starting pitchers weren’t notified that they weren’t going to pitch only 4-5 innings per start once April rolled around. Did someone change the calendar near the Killer B’s lockers to October?

For a team that was predicted by some to win the Central and perhaps go to the World Series, they have yet to show much promise. Maybe Zinter, Ginter and Brandon Puffer need promoting. Maybe Ricky Stone should be in the starting rotation. Sure he’s the best reliever so far, but what good is a good reliever if the starter can’t hand him a lead? Why doesn’t Daryle Ward start hitting second again instead of Double-Play Brad? Something needs correcting before we’re left in a trail of red feathers.

Finger Pointing

Much has been said about the ineffectiveness of the bullpen during the Astros stumble from the blocks but the blame needs to be placed on the entire team. If a 5-1 game is handed to the relievers, what difference does it make how many runs they allow if the offense is going to lay down anyway? Even if they allow 4 runs, that’s still a run less than the starter allowed.

Take the Sporting News for example. They wrote that the Astros need Hipolito Pichardo and Doug Brocail back soon. Sure it would be nice to get them back, but who will they replace? Ricky Stone? T.J Mathews? They have the two best ERAs out there. Sure Scott Linebrink has done poorly, but no worse than Nelson Cruz. Billy Wagner seems to get worse each time his paycheck increases.

You can’t trash the Astros performance without mentioning the gaping hole in the bottom of the lineup. Or not mention that Craig Biggio’s cycle is about the only thing keeping him above the Mendoza line. And let’s not forget that Wade Miller has looked more like a number 5 starter than a number 4 and Carlos Hernandez has lost his edge. Lay off the relievers – it’s been a combined effort…or lack thereof.

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