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Atlanta Braves: 5 Moves to Get to the 2011 NLCS

Granted, the Bobby Cox era has officially been closed with the Braves—but that doesn’t mean baseball has ended in Atlanta.

And the same Braves that made a splash once again in 2010 have a shot of reaching even higher expectations in 2011.

So, what moves do Atlanta need to consider when building upon this past MLB season’s success and looking towards Spring Training and beyond?

Let’s take a quick glance at five moves the Braves can make to get to the 2011 National League Championship Series, and possibly even a return trip to that coveted World Series.

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Houston Astros: Looking Towards the Future, Building Upon Success

Before the past week, Houston was one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star break.

But the last six-plus games reminded fans, media, players, and coaches alike of the Astros of 2010’s past—and proof that there’s still some room to grow before the team gets to where it wants to be.

Regardless of the team’s poor play as of late, the Astros absolutely appear to be heading in the right direction.

Youth and talent abound on this promising group of Houston baseball players.

Will 2011 bring about a 180-degree change and an immediate impact in the National League Central?

Not necessarily—but I have a lot more faith heading into 2011 than I did, say, midway through the 2010 campaign.

No matter how fans feel about the Astros management, no one can argue that they haven’t made the right moves to improve this ball club.

They’ve done what was necessary to wipe the slate of aging super stars and replace them with minor league prospects.

Granted, it took a heavy load to begin that rebuilding process—begun by parting ways with ace Roy Oswalt before shutting the door on the Lance Berkman dynasty in the Lone Star State.

But with the exit of Oswalt and Berkman came the new and youthful faces of guys such as Brett Wallace, Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez, and Jason Bourgeois—along with blossoming newcomers such as J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and Matt Lindstrom.

The 2011 MLB season will be an exciting one for the Houston Astros and it’s fans.

And with just one week of action left in a disappointing season, Astros players and fans alike should keep their heads held high as the team closes the door on a dismal year with eyes set solely on the promising future of Houston’s franchise.

It’s only a matter of time before the Astros return to the top of the NL Central standings.

Are growing pains ahead?

Yes, there’s no doubt about it.

But I have absolute faith in this team.

And I am highly confident that Houston will once again be contenders in the majors by 2012…


Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at

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2010 MLB MVP Race: Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton and the 10 Biggest Contenders

The 2010 Major League Baseball season is quickly winding down to the final 10-plus games, and the race for postseason play—and postseason awards—is in full swing.

And with those final two weeks of races coming down to the wire, it’s time to take a quick look at the 10 biggest contenders for one of baseball’s most prestigious awards: Most Valuable Player.

So, from the likes of Cincinnati’s Joey Votto to Texas’ Josh Hamilton, who are the 10 players with the highest probability of bringing home the 2010 MVP hardware?

Let’s begin…

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Houston Astros: 10 Future Stars To Be Excited About in 2011 and Beyond

Although the Houston Astros have spent a majority of the 2010 season in the cellar of the National League Central, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the team’s future.

Today, we’re going to look at 15 solid reasons to get pumped up about next year’s Astros squad.

Let’s begin by taking a look at five honorable mention candidates before quickly narrowing down to the top 10 players on Houston’s young and talented depth chart with the highest probability of becoming future MLB stars.

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Delmon Young, Carlos Gonzalez and 10 MLB MVPs No One Is Talking About

With the 2010 Major League Baseball season nearing the final six weeks of action, it’s time to take a quick glance at 10 worthy Most Valuable Player candidates that no one is talking about.

And from Delmon Young, to Carlos Gonzales, to a handful of other overlooked stars in the majors this season, we’re going to be counting down the 10 MLB MVPs no one is talking about.

As a side note, let me mention that for “fairness reasons,” I have decided to include five players from the National League and five from the American League, breaking it down by a majority of overlooked batters and one or two under-the-radar pitchers that deserve mention in the MVP category.

So, without further ado, let’s begin…

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Adam Wainwright: Five Reasons He Deserves Cy Young and MVP in 2010

There are many arguments as to why a pitcher deserves to win both the Cy Young award and the MVP award, but perhaps the most important issue revolves around what a pitcher brings to a ball club.

What I mean by that is if you had to put a franchise tag on one individual on a baseball team, a majority of the time (if not all the time), that nods goes towards a starting pitcher.

There’s a reason for that, but we’ll get to that later.

Today, we’ll be debating whether or not the St. Louis Cardinals most dominant pitcher—Adam Wainwright—deserves both awards.

And with the only offensive candidates appearing to be Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, or Cardinals teammate Albert Pujols, this year may be the season for a pitcher to bring home both the Cy Young and MVP hardware.

But will it be Wainwright, a pitcher who has the possibility of taking home both the wins and ERA crowns in the National League, and will it happen in 2010?

Let’s discuss five reasons why he deserves both awards come season’s end…

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Houston Astros: New York Mets on Tap Beginning Tonight at MMP

The Houston Astros embark upon another home-stand when they begin a four-game series with the New York Mets tonight at 7:05 p.m. CST at Minute Maid Park.

Houston, entering the contest after a three-game sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates, will be facing a Mets team that has lost two in a row.

Lefty Wandy Rodriguez will be taking the mound for the Astros in tonight’s game, while New York’s Jonathon Niese will be the southpaw on the hill for the Mets.

New York, however, is just one game under .500 (58-59) while Houston remains 14 games below that mark (51-65).

But the Astros are aiming to build upon their recent success at home, as the team hopes to continue a successful climb up the NL Central ladder.

And I’m really enjoying the youth and enthusiasm on this current Astros team, regardless of the club’s overall record, with “veterans” like Geoff Blum, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn taking active roles both on the field and in the clubhouse.

In addition, I was recently interviewed by the Mets Gazette in regards to the Astros upcoming series with the Mets.

Below is a transcript of the questions asked and my responses:


Mets Gazette: What is the biggest story of your team this year?

Denton Ramsey: The biggest story for the Astros this season has to be, by far, the trades of longtime Houston players Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. The true results of this trade will take time, and very well may end up working out in the Astros favor if the young talent they received in return pans out in the majors. But losing Berkman (Yankees) and Oswalt (Phillies) has been the biggest story this season for the Astros.


Mets Gazette: Who has been your best player so far?

Denton Ramsey: The best player on the Astros this year has probably been Jeff Keppinger, Houston’s second baseman. With 107 games and counting under his belt, the 30-year-old infielder is batting .286 this season with 28 doubles, five home runs, and 46 RBI.


Mets Gazette: What or who has been your biggest disappointment or worst player?

Denton Ramsey: Houston’s biggest disappointment this season is most likely Carlos Lee. The veteran power-hitting outfielder has had quite a down season, and is currently batting just. 247 with only 15 home runs (through 111 games).


Mets Gazette: What are your team’s strengths and weaknesses currently?

Denton Ramsey: The Astros current strengths are youth and speed, although one could also easily argue that “youth” could be a weakness. But so far for Houston, “youth” appears to be working.

And the team has always had speed: Including the lightening-quick Michal Bourn and the always hustling Hunter Pence (not to mention some of the up-and-coming rookies on the Astros current roster).

Houston’s biggest weaknesses, meanwhile, revolve around two things: clutch hitting and starting pitching. The Astros need a solid rotation, and this season has been anything but that—especially after the trade of Oswalt—as this year has turned into a testing period of what’s to come in terms of Houston’s rotation.

Clutch hitting, meanwhile, has been a problem for most of the season for the Astros; and that will only get better with practice, patience, and persistence. But the team appears to be heading in the right direction, regardless of the club’s overall record of 51-65.


Mets Gazette: Your thoughts on the Mets and expectations for this series?

Denton Ramsey: The New York Mets enter the start of today’s four-game series with the Houston Astros (51-65) just one game under .500 at 58-59. But the Mets have also lost two games in a row, while the Astros enter this evening’s contest having won three straight in a recent home sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tonight’s tentative matchup has a pair of southpaws facing one another when New York’s Jonathon Niese battles Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez.

As far as expectations for this upcoming series at Minute Maid Park, I believe the Astros will be happy with a spit of the series, although there is no doubt they are looking to build upon a three-game sweep and would love nothing more than to add another sweep to their bags.

In the same breath, the Mets could use this time in Houston to bounce back—and over the .500 mark—as New York is currently 10 games out of first place in the National League East.




Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at


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Houston Astros Tie Game in Ninth, Lose It in 10th at Minute Maid Park

The rivalry between the National League’s Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves goes back far historically, but Wednesday afternoon’s matchup was one to forget—at least for those cheering for the home team—in the midweek matinee at Minute Maid Park.

I’ll never forget, sadly, the postseason game between Houston and Atlanta in the late 90s when the Astros had the bases loaded—with nobody out—and failed to score a single run (I also sadly remember having to walk outside shortly thereafter in near tears over a damn sporting event).

However, Wednesday’s game was different in many ways—beginning with the fact the Astros are well out of contention in 2010—especially in regards to the appointed leader of the club, Hunter Pence, doing everything possible to give his team a chance to win.

After deadlocking the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning off closer Billy Wagner on a sac fly plating Pence, the Houston bullpen blew the opportunity to keep the contest going beyond 10 innings by surrendering six runs in the top of the extra inning frame (including a grand slam blast) before finally succumbing in a Minute Maid sweep at the hands of the Braves.

On a side note, the Astros loss at MMP on Wednesday afternoon could not be nearly as heart-breaking as the Texas Rangers home game loss to the New York Yankees after taking a large lead only to blow it later on.

Thankfully, Thursday (August 12) is an off-day for Houston—giving the young team time to reflect on what could have been after making a very respectable run upon trading two clubhouse icons—before the Astros return to the diamond on Friday night.


Updates on Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt

Both Berkman and Oswalt are beginning to fair much better with their new teams, as the Wizard picked up his first win since donning a Phillies uniform on Wednesday night in a dominating outing.

Berkman, meanwhile, was a key figure in helping propel the Yankees to a come from behind victory over the Rangers on Wednesday night as the first baseman is finally starting to feel more at ease in pinstripes.


Up Next: Three-Game Home Series vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

The next series for the Astros resumes on Friday evening, August 13, at Minute Maid Park as Houston hosts the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First pitch for Friday night’s game is slated for 7:05 p.m. CST, followed by games on Saturday (6:05 p.m. CST) and Sunday afternoon (1:05 p.m. CST).



Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at


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Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt: Slowly Adjusting to New Teams, Lifestyles

Right about now, it’s not easy being Lance Berkman or Roy Oswalt.

Talk about a lost puppy in a big city.

Both former Houston Astros icons are in new cities and with new teams, and both appear to be having a difficult time adjusting to their new surroundings.

Oswalt was rocked in his first start with the Phillies, while Berkman has notched a mere two hits and one RBI since donning pinstripes with the Yankees.

Oswalt’s second start for Philadelphia was much smoother, although still resulting in a no-decision, as the former Astros ace threw 6.1 solid innings in what eventually ended up as a 5-4 Phillies win over the Marlins in 10 innings.

Berkman, meanwhile, has been switched into a role he is very unfamiliar with after spending his entire career in the National League with the Houston Astros: the designated hitter for the New York Yankees.

He has had one opportunity to play defensively at first base for New York, but Berkman’s time on the field will be extremely limited as the Yankees feel the slugger can best be used in the DH role and in the everyday lineup.

And that’s probably true, to be perfectly honest.

Oswalt and Berkman will both be missed in Houston, there’s no doubt about it.

But after those two left town and the Astros have been forced to work with younger talent, the team put together a seven-game win streak—including a 9-4 win followed by a blowout 18-4 win over the Cardinals at St. Louis—before dropping the series finale at Busch Stadium.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, and it’s honestly tough to realistically admit, but the Astros absolutely appear to have a bright future.

In addition, rumors have recently be circulating that Berkman would like to return to Houston after this season if he becomes a free agent.

Will it happen? Doubt it.

But could it happen? Absolutely.

Regardless, the Astros amazingly appear to be heading in the right direction.

Maybe I should begin having more faith in Ed Wade and company after all…



Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at


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Houston Astros Update: Club Signs Delino DeShields, Activate Geoff Blum


The Houston Astros have been beyond busy lately.

Less than a week after trading two of the biggest franchise players to ever don an Astros uniform, Houston had won seven games in a row—culminating with an 18-4 beat-down of St. Louis—before the Cardinals finally ended that streak with an 8-4 win over the Astros last night at Busch Stadium.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to the seven-game win-steak that ended Wednesday night in St. Louis, the Astros have made a couple other major moves as well.

That includes finally signing first-round draft pick Delino DeShields to a Major League Baseball contract and activating infielder Geoof Blum .

For Astros fans, this latest news has to make them excited.

Plus, there are rumors floating around that Lance Berkman would like to return to Houston following his second-half stint with the New York Yankees .

As hard as it may be to see, the future appears bright for the Astros.

They are on a tear right now, even without ace Roy Oswalt and face-of-the-franchise Berkman, and they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.


“Drama’s over finally, now let’s play some ball against the BREWERS,” All-Star youngster outfielder Hunter Pence said via Twitter following the Berkman trade.

Pence, one of the very first—and very finest—athletes I have ever interviewed, is more than a star in Houston.

He is, believe it or not, becoming a new face-of-the-franchise.

Look at Pence, Michael Bourn , Jason Castro, and a handful of youthful infielders to soon replace what many referred to as the Killer-Bs for years.

Change is coming; and that doesn ’t mean Barack Obama is taking over the franchise.

But changes are heading Houston’s way nonetheless.

For fans, they can do nothing more than hope for the best.

However, if the present is any clear indication of the future whatsoever, there are plenty of reasons to be happy as an Astros fans.

Watch out, world. The young and gunning Houston Astros are aiming to begin making some noise in the majors as soon as possible.

And it may be a lot sooner than anyone expected…



Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at


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