added 6/3/2007 by Scott Barzilla
Usually people feel numb when going through major down times and when the down times end you have to pick up the pieces and evaluate the future. The Astros did that and decided to make two roster changes. Rick White and Jason Lane are gone. Eric Munson and Chris Burke are here. Unfortunately, those moves bring up more questions than they answer.
Eric Munson by himself brings up all kinds of issues. First, we saw Munson start two games in a row after coming up. Is he now the primary catcher? What is Humberto Quintero's role from now on? Is the club this dissatisfied with Brad Ausmus? The last two games have not answered those questions. It only brings up one major question the Astros have to answer.
The first question is more rhetorical: are they really expecting us to believe that Eric Munson is the catcher of the future? I think we all know the answer is no. So, this means they don't believe Quintero is the answer either. Therefore, the catcher of the future is not on the roster right now. Are they doing anything about it? There are options out there if they are willing to deal some of their key pieces.
This brings us to Chris Burke. Burke will likely be in the right field platoon with Luke Scott. Kudos to the Astros for finally figuring out that Lane's .150ish batting average wasn't helping them. Yet, this move smacks of a team grasping for a way to compete. Looking at 2004, 2005, and 2006 it's easy to see what they're thinking. In this case they would be wrong.
The 2007 season should be about two things from now on: getting Biggio his hits and answering as many questions as possible. The recent performance of Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls may indicate that Lidge would be the better closer, but Lidge might be the best bargaining chip you have. Even if he is a dominant closer again he will have to paid like one. It is rarely a good idea to pay your closer 8-10 million per season. If the Braves will take a package of Lidge and a minor leaguer or two for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Yes, Wheeler, and Qualls might not be enough to get this team to the promised land. The thing is that this team will not go to the promised land. Functional closers are more difficult to find than solid catchers. Plus, we all know the importance of having a good catcher on your team. This needs to be about 2008 and beyond and not about whether you have a championship bullpen or not. You can have a championship bullpen, but if you have a 100 loss lineup and .500 rotation it won't do you a lick of good.
It appears as if the club has also given up on Ensberg. If this is true then the club needs to move on at third. Mark Loretta is not a 150 game a season third basemen and most people's hunch is that Mike Lamb is not the guy either. Well, if none of them are the guy then we need to figure out who the guy is.
It's time for the folks at Crawford street to admit that this season is lost. Once they do that they can finally begin honestly looking at each position and preparing for the future. Every position you can fill with a young player is a position you don't have to purchase in free agency. As the saying goes, "get busy living or get busy dying."