He may not be the calibre of pitcher that Roy Oswalt is, but Happ is a different type of pitcher, and since he's a lefty, every piece on him will undoubtedly refer to him as 'crafty' at least once. If you ignore his start at Busch Stadium, where he gave up seven earned runs in just one inning, his ERA in the other six starts is 1.81.
And Happ allowed just two hits to the Cardinals in nine innings of stellar work last night, giving the Astros a 3-0 win after a tough day against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Here's a very intriguing piece by Alyson Footer, who talks about guys in the Philly clubhouse's reaction to Happ being traded to Houston. It was hardly a shock, as Happ's name was repeatedly talked about as the centre-piece of an Oswalt trade. Basically she says that the guys were not happy, and thought Happ was a future cornerstone in Philadelphia.
Wade is trying to rebuild a franchise, and he's looking for pieces to do that. Some are small and some are big. Some look small, but are actually very big, and Happ might be one of those. Early returns, and we are talking early returns, because there is still a long way to go, look very good. I'll make my judgements at the end of a full season (2011), because Happ may go the way of Brandon Backe for all we know.
A lot of people are saying that fans need to be cautious if they think the Astros can compete in 2011, but they aren't a million miles away from being a .500 team. Offensively they need more punch, but the free agent market is underwhelming, and apart from second base, which seems to be a dificult position to fill, there are not really any available slots on the field. The outfield is tied up- Johnson, Wallace and Castro have three positions down, so that leaves only the middle infield spots to improve our offense with.
The rotation has looked better and better as the season has worn on, and a full year of Myers, Happ, Rodriguez and Norris at their best, would send Houston a long way. Will they be hurt by lacking a real ace at the top of the rotation? Lyles might bring that, but 2012 will likely be his rookie year, and there is no-one else close to the Majors who you would label as a front of the rotation guy. Paulino could be a no.2, if he could stay healthy and pitch at a more consistent level, but he and Norris' stuff is still very raw and not fully developed. They have still got a ways to go as they learn to pitch at the big league level.
While he might never dazzle, and strike a whole load of guys out, you need pitchers like Happ, who will give you the chance to win 7 or 8 times out of 10. Tony LaRussa was very complimentary of Happ after the loss, which sees his team fall six games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central race, praising his command of the corners with all four pitches.
"He had everything working tonight," LaRussa said. "Everything he threw, nothing over the middle, changed speed, different breaks. It was an outstanding exhibition of pitching.
Tonight's game should be an absolute humdinger, as Wandy Rodriguez squares off against Chris Carpenter.
Both Jeff Keppinger and Matt Lindstrom are in Corpus Christi on re-hab assignments. Keppinger could be with the team by Tuesday, while Lindstrom will throw 20-25 pitches tonight and 1 IP for Corpus (or at least that is the plan).
I wouldn't dream of discussing American politics on here, as that is one quagmire I'd not want to step into, but when I saw this, about LaRussa and Pujols attending the Glenn Beck 'non-political' rally in DC, I thought, really? And LaRussa has expressed his support for the tough Arizona anti-immigration. Hmmm...you know, I wonder who might have been affected if, say those measures were in place across the whole of the US in say, 1996? Where was Albert Pujols from again? Jeez, give me a break you loonies. Ooops, sorry. No politics. Got it.