'Juiced': The Deacon's Master Plan
By Christopher Gray,
3:01PM, Wed. Dec. 13, 2006
Astros fans who have accused GM Tim Purpura of being slow to pull the trigger must now officially back off. There's plenty of other stuff to complain about. But yesterday, the Good Guys traded fledgling pitching prospects Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh, and budding fan favorite Willy Taveras, to Colorado for starter Jason Jennings and Rule 5 tagalong Miguel Asencio, who, um, missed the past two seasons after elbow surgery. Doh!
Given the Astros' luck with trading away starters (Johan Santana, Freddy Garcia), Hirsh is an early favorite for the 2010 Cy Young Award. Although he was PCL pitcher of the year for Round Rock last year, he was no great shakes in the bigs. The Stros were already backed into a corner by Andy Pettitte's sudden yearning to be back on Broadway and last week's Jon Garland trade implosion, and Jennings did have an ERA under 4.00 last year in the pitcher's purgatory of Coors Field. The Juice Box may not be much friendlier, but at least Houston's humidity should help him keep the ball down.
But the real reason the team felt Hirsh was expendable, it turns out, is that he's from Santa Monica, Calif. Jennings, lo and behold, was born in Dallas and starred at Baylor - which just so happens to be the alma mater of Astros owner "Deacon" Drayton McLane. His fondness for signing homebred talent is already well-documented, but it turns out he's just getting started. With the invaluable help of baseball-reference.com, Juiced peered into the crystal horsehide to discern the Astros' all-Texan roster of a few years hence.
A few notes before we start. According to b-r.com, Texas has produced 723 major leaguers, including Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby, and Eddie Mathews. That's good enough for fifth place among U.S. states, behind California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Not bad for a place where baseball's mortal enemy, football, is the one true religion. Among active players, the list is heavy on first basemen, outfielders, and pitchers, light on middle infielders, catchers, and third basemen. All these players were born and, to the best of Juiced's knowledge, raised in the Lone Star State. Since the Web site doesn't list players' current residences, people born outside Texas but living here now are disqualified. That's why über-Texan Roger Clemens is out - he's native to Dayton, Ohio. Likewise our friend Andy Pettitte, born on the bayou in Baton Rouge. New Padre Greg Maddux, whom you may have heard of, was tough but a no. He was born in San Angelo but claims Las Vegas as his hometown.
One thing's for sure: nickname quality sure has gone downhill. Though New Caney native and Cincinnati slugger Adam Dunn is known as "Big Donkey," he's a rare exception to a very bland rule. In bygone years, Texans on b-r's list included Ox Miller, Cotton Pippen, Chief Youngblood, Sarge Connally, Peaches Davis, and Boob Fowler. Of the rest, up until about 1950 or so, approximately half were nicknamed Tex. The last was Dallas' Tex Nelson, who hit .205 for Baltimore in 79 games between 1955 and 1957.
Without further ado, Purpura and the Deacon's future roster, with current team and birthplace. Every player was active through the 2006 season. The only player out of position is Brandon Backe, who starred as a pitcher and position player at Galveston Ball High School. This list wouldn't be complete without him.
OF: Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay (Houston)
OF: Craig Monroe, Detroit (Texarkana)
OF: Ryan Langerhans, Atlanta (San Antonio)
OF: Scott Podsednik, Chicago White Sox (West)
OF: Laynce Nix, Milwaukee (Houston)
1B: Lance Berkman, Houston (New Braunfels)
2B: Brandon Backe, Houston (Galveston)
3B: Jorge Cantu, Tampa Bay (McAllen)
SS: Omar Quintanilla, Colorado (El Paso)
C: Jason LaRue, Cincinnati (Houston)
DH: Adam Dunn, Cincinnati (Houston)
UI: Ben Broussard, Cleveland (Beaumont)
SP: Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay (Houston)
SP: Josh Beckett, Boston (Houston)
SP: Zach Duke, Pittsburgh (Waco)
SP: Jason Jennings, Houston (Dallas)
SP: Woody Williams, Houston (Houston)
RP: Matt Belisle, Cincinnati (Austin)
RP: Mike Stanton, San Francisco (Houston)
RP: Mike Timlin, Boston (Midland)
RP: Arthur Rhodes, Philadelphia (Waco)
RP: Joe Nathan, Minnesota (Houston)
CP: Huston Street, Oakland (Austin)
Manager: Grady Little, Los Angeles Dodgers (Abilene)
Pitching Coach: Nolan Ryan (Refugio)
Hitting Coach: Don Baylor (Austin)
Bench Coach: Frank Robinson (Beaumont)
First Base Coach: Mike Hargrove (Perryton)
Third Base Coach: Cito Gaston (San Antonio)
Now that team ought to be able to win a couple of ballgames. Better get cracking, Tim ...