Just How Bad Can The Houston Astros Offense Possibly Be?

The headline shouldn't actually end with a question mark. The headline should have one of those cartoonish question marks followed by an exclamation point then another question mark and maybe a few other characters in there just to reinforce how terrible it must be to root for the Astros right now. ↵

↵Watching their game on Sunday – just their sixth of the year, all at home – I was amazed that the stadium was 2/3 empty. This is Houston. They've been to a World Series in the last five years, so surely things couldn't be this bad where they're having "bring your dog to the game" promotions in the first week of the season and the empty seats still, on TV, look to outnumber the filled? It's baseball season, Houston…get out there and support your team, no matter how bad they seem after one week. ↵

↵

↵Oh, but this Astros team seems very bad. Not only are they winless in their first seven games, but they've scored just 13 runs on the season. Roy Oswalt has pitched 12 innings this season and given up only five runs – including just two to the hard-hitting Phillies on Sunday – and he's 0-2 on the year. Oh, I didn't mention in the last graph that the 28,619 in attendance on Sunday (by the looks of it on TV, they must have been counting in dog years) were treated to a pitching clinic by Oswalt and Roy Halladay. Yes, Houston is in so much trouble right now that a week after 43,836 came out to Opening Day to see Oswalt face Tim Lincecum, more than 15,000 fans decided to stay home instead of coming to see their ace in his second start against another one of the best pitchers in the National League. ↵

↵

↵Pardon the pun, but clearly this Astros team is for the dogs. Oh wow, I can't believe I just wrote that line. It's gotten that bad in Houston where just a week into the season we're making 'for the dogs' puns. All jokes aside, it has been rather terrible for the Astros. Houston has been outscored 42-13 on the season. The Astros are the only team in the league that has yet to score at least 20 runs, while six teams have scored 40 or more runs thus far. Every day but one since Opening Day, at least one team has scored double-digit runs in a game, with three teams scoring more than 13 runs in a game already this season. Monday night, the Padres scored 17 runs on the Braves. Arizona scored 15 on the Pirates on Sunday and the Braves plated 16 against the Cubs on Opening Day. ↵

↵

↵The Astros haven't scored more than six runs in a game and have been shut out three times in seven games, including two times at home. The team has just 12 extra base hits in those seven games, just two of which have gone for home runs. By contrast, the Cardinals, who beat the Astros 5-0 on Monday, have 13 home runs. Albert Pujols has three more home runs after seven games than the entire Astros team. ↵

↵

↵The Astros are so bad, they have venerable Houston Chronicle writer Richard Justice talking crazy. Well to be fair, that may just be the style – hilarious, by the way – of his blog SportsJustice, but it sure sounds crazy to be defending this Astros team: ↵

↵
↵⇥Many years ago, Hardin-Simmons had a basketball coach named Lou Henson, and one year he had a really bad record. ↵⇥

↵⇥One day, Lou marched right into the editor's office at the Abilene Reporter-News and asked quite nicely if it was necessary to keep putting his team's record in every story. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥I thought it was funny then, but now that request is starting to make some sense. Do we have to dwell on 0-7? I mean, do we? ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥All 0-7 does is discourage the kids. If they start thinking about 0-7, they'll start doing dumb things like getting picked off first base, and we can't have that. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥Richard, they're already doing dumb things. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥See what I mean? People have asked these kids so many times about being winless that they're doing things completely out of character. ↵⇥If you're bailing out on the Astros after one week, that's on you. I'm remaining in their corner. ↵⇥

↵
↵Justice refers to the team as "kids" so many times this entire column has to be a work. Carlos Lee, batting a whopping .111 with zero extra base hits through seven games, is going to be 34 years old in June. Hunter Pence, who turns 27-years old today, has two full (and quite productive) seasons under his belt, yet has just three hits this season in 25 trips to the plate. Catcher J.R. Towles, while in his first full season in the big leagues, is 26 years old, so his 1-16 at the plate (.063) to start the season isn't just some 20-year old kid coming up and trying to adjust. In fact, Towles played in 54 games in 2008 and, in 146 at bats, hit just .137 and struck out 40 times. Last season, in just 48 at bats, he hit .188 with 16 strikeouts. So he could be baseball young but he might just be baseball bad at hitting. ↵

↵So let's chalk up Justice's blantant homerism as a fantastic bit of snark and sarcasm. It has to be how most baseball fans in Houston feel these days. Lance Berkman's knee cannot heal fast enough. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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