The Daily Six Shooter June 26, 2012

Photo courtesy Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters
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1. The Houston Rockets have acquired yet another draft pick as they’ve dealt Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 18th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. With the way they’ve stocked picks and all the movable pieces they have already on their roster (one less now with Budinger gone), they’re putting themselves in position to go after a major free agent. That free agent that they want it Dwight Howard.

But the Rockets aren’t done dealing. They can’t score Howard with the 14th, 16, and 18th picks. Rumor has it that Houston is actually shopping Kyle Lowry to a team with a top 10 pick and Houston would likely throw one of their other picks in with that deal.

The newsworthy part of this story isn’t that Budinger has been dealt for a pick, but that Lowry and not Goran Dragic is the one on the trading block. It was widely accepted that the Rockets would rather keep Dragic based on his play after Lowry got injured but because of Lowry’s injury, Dragic would likely make the better trade chip. But Lowry is still valuable to a lot of teams so it looks like the Rockets will be able to hang on to Dragic. And that’s the right move.

It’s also a perfect move to go after Dwight Howard because the one thing that the Rockets couldn’t do last season was consistently grab rebounds and score in the paint. For all the great shooters and tall guys they had, a great player in the paint would have not only pushed them into the playoffs, but might have gotten them home court advantage in the first round.

2. The Houston Astros lost a back and forth affair with the San Diego Padres in extra innings 8-7 last night.

There were a few Astros that had multiple hits, but the key guy was Brian Bixler. In yesterday’s Daily Six Shooter we talked about how even though the team’s best hitter Jose Altuve injured his hamstring, Bixler had been hitting well and he continued to do so in this game going 2-3 with a walk, an RBI and three runs scored. Bixler has a hit in all of his starts this month which has shot his OPS all the way up to 1.012 in June. Chris Johnson is also starting to quietly pick things up. He’s hit safely in six straight games and five of those games have been multi-hit games.

Wandy Rodriguez had a disappointing outing even though he was set to get the win when he left the game. He threw 6.2 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits. Sadly, “The Regulators” didn’t live up to their nickname as the bullpen gave up the lead and then allowed the winning run in the 10th inning. Closer Brett Myers, who pitched a scoreless 9th inning, was the only guy who pitched well in this game. It was a surprise that he didn’t stay in the game longer even though his spot came up in the 9th inning (when there was one out and nobody on).

Despite their early success, Houston relievers rank near the bottom of the league now and the team ERA in June is tied for the worst in the league.

Photo courtesy Bob Levey/Getty Images
3. I had some friends attend Houston Astros games this week and they were astounded by the number of empty seats and announced attendance. Last night, the team announced that about 14,400 people were at the game. And we all know that the number is always inflated because it looked worse than that.

If you can believe it, with how poorly the Astros have played as an organization the past few years and with the club dumping just about every star it had last season, Houston doesn’t have the worst attendance per game in the league. They’re actually only 5th worst in attendance.

The teams that rank lower are the Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays and (if you’re a fan of Major League, this shouldn’t come as a surprise) lastly the Cleveland Indians. Interestingly, Houston is doing comparatively well compared to those other franchises considering the recent history of all those teams.

First of all, why the heck are the White Sox near the bottom. They’re in 1st place in their own division! They had a perfect game thrown at their park earlier this season! It’s a bad sign if you’re winning and making history and struggling to get people to the park. Same for Tampa Bay. They have the 4th best record in the AL and are just a few games back of the division lead. Cleveland doesn’t have as good a record as Tampa, but they’re only a half game behind Chicago for the division. Ironically, whoever wins the division, there likely aren’t going to be many people around to see it.

Seattle and Oakland are in the same division, with the Mariners in last place and the A’s hovering around .500. It’ll be a surprise if Oakland finishes with a winning record, so no surprises there. Here’s the catch though. With the exception of the Mariners, every one of the teams behind Houston on that list have made the playoffs more recently and have a pretty good chance of making the playoffs this year.

What’s their excuse?

4. The Texas Rangers aren’t having problems drawing a crowd, but it’s not because of games like the one yesterday when they lost to the Detroit Tigers 8-2.

Texas was doomed from the start as starter Justin Grimm couldn’t get out of the 2nd inning and gave up six runs in just one inning of work. He threw 40 pitches in the first inning, giving up five runs, and then gave up another before got an out in the 2nd when Ron Washington finally pulled him. Michael Kirkman gave up just two runs in five innings of relief, but most impressively Mike Adams threw three innings of no-hit relief.

There was one point when Texas was close to getting back into the game. The Rangers loaded the bases in the bottom of the 6th inning with two outs and Mike Napoli coming to the plate. Even down 8-0, a few more hits would create some momentum and the crowd sensed it. Sadly, Napoli struck out and the Rangers never threatened again.

Even though Texas only scored two runs, I’d put this loss on Grimm and look forward to moving on with Yu Darvish on the hill tonight and Roy Oswalt going the next day. Texas was even able to use just two pitchers in relief so the bullpen wasn’t hit that hard. The Rangers actually found a great way to lose this game and are still in great position to take the series.

Photo by Javi Perez/Playmaker Magazine
5. The Round Rock Express announced that Derek Holland will make make rehab starts this week with them as Holland works his way back from a shoulder injury. His first start will be on Wednesday and he’ll be on a 50 pitch limit.

Texas has said that they don’t want to push him, so Holland will likely be out until after the All Star break. The All Star Game will be played on July 10th, which means that he could possibly make three full starts in Round Rock before rejoining the team in Arlington.

6. Finally, I’ll end today’s Daily Six Shooter on a light note. Despite his controversial claims that were taken out of context last week, I’m a fan of Adam Carolla. I listen to his podcast every day, have read both of his books, own his movie The Hammer, and will be seeing him live next month when he comes to San Antonio.

On his podcast yesterday, he unveiled an “animatic,” which is basically a rough animated pilot, for a show based on a character that he’s had since his old radio days called Mr. Birchum. Birchum is a shop teacher who is basically an extension of Carolla’s own ego and, as you can see, is a funny guy. Check out this animatic for yourself. If this was on the air, my DVR would have another reserved spot. Unfortunately, this is all we get.

Enjoy!

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About Javi Perez

Javi Perez is a contributing editor with Playmaker Magazine heading up the sports desk, as well as covering the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, film, and TV. He currently lives in San Antonio.