Wednesday, September 29, 2004


With only a handful of games left to go, Houston has taken sole possession of the NL Wild Card.

Since the canning of Jimy Williams, the club has gone an impressive 44-26 (.629), and lived up to my preseason hype. (I thought this was the best team in the NL at the start of the year. Losing three quality arms in Miller, Pettitte, and Dotel over the course of the season clearly hurt, but acquiring one of the top ten players in the game helped offset a lot of the damage.)

The Cubs, a half game behind, play another tomorrow against the Reds, and then the Braves come to town for the final three. (Don't expect Bobby Cox's boys to roll over easy, Dusty.)

The Giants, also a half game behind, play the Padres again tomorrow and then finish up in Los Angeles with three against the Dodgers. (It seems if Barry's going to make it to the postseason this year, it'll have to be as NL West champs.)

The Astros have a day off tomorrow then play three games in Houston against the Rockies.

They are clearly in the driver's seat, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them tear through the postseason. Any club with Clemens (19 WS), Oswalt (17 WS), Beltran (29 WS), Berkman (30 WS), and Brad Lidge (15 WS) can do a hell of a lot of damage in a short series. (Even past their primes, Bagwell and Kent aren't a bad supporting cast.) Call me an idiot, but I think they are a scarier opponent than the Carpenter-less Cards.

Over in the AL, the Angels passed the struggling A's to take the lead in the West. I'm not sure what this really means for the postseason. While the Angels have the kind of stellar bullpen Niles will tell you all but guarantees playoff success, I'm not convinced they can get past Boston, New York, or the Santana-Radke lead Twins. But hands up everybody who really thought Kelvim Escobar (15 WS) would have a better season than Miguel Batista (11 WS).

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