the astros came into this season having finished under .500 just once in the previous 15 years; from 1994 to 2006, they finished in either 1st or 2d place 12 times in 13 years. the collapse that befell them could just as easily have happened to the cardinals --- indeed, given the loss of carpenter and the decline of edmonds and rolen, i can't figure out why it didn't happen to the cardinals. superficially, the astros seem to have the makings of a decent year --- their ace is healthy and having a very good season; three other starting pitchers have performed close to league average; their free-agent slugger already has over 100 rbis; their rookie centerfielder has a .900 ops; and their closer has regained at least some of his former unhittability. unfortunately for houston, nearly every other player on the roster has performed at or near replacement level. half the lineup plus the entire bench has posted OPS figures of below .700. they lost all their high-round draft picks this year as compensation for old free agents like carlos lee, woody williams, and mark loretta. it may be a while before this team has a chance to contend again.
woody has won 6 of his last 9 decisions, with a 4.20 era over 13 starts. his bugaboo all year has been dingers --- he has coughed up an mlb-leading 28 so far, not particularly surprising for a 40-year-old flyball pitcher in that ballpark. at home he's yielding nearly 2 dingers per 9 innings; on the road, just 1.2 hr / 9. in spite of that, his home era is half a run lower than his road mark . . . . .
cards line up like this, according to bernie: