added 7/15/2009 by Scott Barzilla
It has been a good summer so far. Eric Clapton and a golfing trip have eaten into the writing schedule, but as a dedicated Astros fan I've been keeping track. The team looks the same as they have in recent seasons. In fact, at 44-44 they are in better shape than they have been in several seasons. However, their record is hiding a fact that is going to hit them head on.
Phillies 0-0 (6) Marlins 0-0 (6) Braves 2-1 (3) Mets 0-0 (6) Nationals 3-3 (0) Cardinals 0-3 (15) Brewers 2-4 (12) Cubs 4-6 (8) Reds 3-7 (8) Pirates 8-4 (3) Dodgers 2-1 (4) Giants 1-2 (3) Rockies 5-2 (0) Dbacks 2-1 (3) Padres 6-1 (0)
The Astros are done playing three teams in the National League. Two of them are in last place in their division. Plus, they only have three games left with the Pirates. So, obviously, the Astros have made themselves fat on the backs of bad teams. The teams are listed by their order in the standings. There are seven teams under .500 in the National League. The Astros have a combined 23 games left against those teams.
It isn't a big deal to be better against bad teams. In a lot of ways this is a good thing. You should be good against bad teams. However, this presents a problem when most of your remaining games come against good teams. So, where does this put the Astros? They are 2.5 games out of first place. They can't give up in good conscience can they?
This is where the first two weeks out of the break are so very important. There are 15 games until the end of the month. Most of them are against the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Cubs. Those are three potential playoff teams. If they struggle against those teams it might be time to sell off some talent. Yet, if they manage to go 8-7 or 9-6 they could be in the market for some offense at third base.