The dust from the Clemens decision to pitch for the Yankees hadn’t even settled before another controversy bubbled over in Houston. Rick White was activated on Friday, May 11th and Chris Burke was demoted to AAA Round Rock. Burke was understandably upset, publicly asking to be traded.
Burke, who had been given the opening day starting center fielder job had struggled offensively and defensively while Hunter Pence was tearing it up a mere 90 miles north. Burke of course wasn’t the only guy to struggle though. Ensberg, Lane and Everett have struggled too.
So why was Burke demoted while Ensberg, Everett and Lane got a pass? Simple. Guess who doesn’t have to pass through waivers. Yep, you get a cookie if you guessed one each Chris Burke. The guy who has the most upside ends up in AAA Round Rock because the Astros are too scared to try to sneak Mr. Mendoza Line (Jason Lane) through waivers. Can’t say I blame Chris for being upset and demanding a trade. But trading Burke is the worst thing the Stros can do. The guy has too much upside. Problem is, the management thinks Ensberg and Lane do too although both have proven to be more streaky than Burke has.
My suggestion would be to trade Lane and Ensberg for whatever they can get in AAA pitching or 3rd base prospects. For this year, Ensberg’s spot is easily filled with a platoon of Lamb and Loretta. Next year can be dealt with via trade or in the off season.
So much for the people who proclaimed 2007 as a year Ensberg would be fantastic in because it was an "odd" year. Yeah, right. Mo was messed up in 2006 and has carried it to 2007. There goes that theory.
One guy that I and many other Astros watchers worried about was Brad Lidge. Even though I had resisted vehemently trying to label his failure last year as the "Albert Pujols Syndrome" I had finally given up and admitted it might have played a big part in his miserable 2006 season. I also believed that his biggest problem was pitching in the 9th inning. Apparently I got the 2nd part right. Lidge since being demoted, has lowered his ERA from 10.13 to 3.57 in 3 weeks and he has pitched in the 9th inning of any game just once. He was horrible in that outing.
Given the ball in any inning besides the 9th, Lidge has performed to his 2004/2005 levels. He has indeed been "Lights Out". Maybe in a few more months or maybe next year, "Lights Out Lidge" can again close games for the Astros. Until then though, he’s a fine bullpen guy for the Astros.