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Series Preview #51: Talking Astros With The Crawfish Boxes

The final non-interleague meeting between the Brewers and Astros starts tonight in Milwaukee.

Bob Levey - Getty Images

80-76 (3rd place, NL Central)
51-105 (6th place, NL Central)

GAME 1: September 28, 2012 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

: September 29, 2012 @ 6:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: September 30, 2012 @ 1:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 94.5 WLWK)

Miller Park | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

SBN Coverage: Astros vs Brewers coverage

A View from the Other Dugout: Crawfish Boxes

Game 1 Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59) vs. Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 3.94)
vs. Astros (3-0, 2.18) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 2 Marco Estrada (4-7, 3.87) vs. Dallas Keuchel (3-7, 4.66)
vs. Astros (0-0, 3.86) vs. Brewers (0-1, 8.10)
Game 3 TBD vs. TBD
vs. Astros --- vs. Brewers ---

As the Brewers return home to open their final homestand of the 2012 season, Timothy De Block of The Crawfish Boxes was kind enough to answer some questions on the Astros to help us prepare for this series.

BCB: With six games to play the Astros have already lost 211 games since Opening Day 2011. What's the mood of the fanbase at this point?

CB: Non-existent. The casual fan has moved onto football where the Texans are 3-0. The more involved fan has really been tested with blooper gifs and head scratching PR moves. But there's also hope. The Astros farm system has taken a turn for the better with a strong 2012 draft and trades that have infused the farm system with talent and depth. Before the season, the Astros farm system was ranked anywhere from 27th to 17th. If you're an Astros fan that's what you're grasping onto at the moment.

BCB: The Astros are two wins away from having 13 in September, which would tie their best month of the season. Have things improved lately?

CB: Yes, (interim manager) Tony DeFrancesco has seemingly had a positive impact on the clubhouse. He's not the sole reason for the turnaround or even the main reason. The improvement is likely from the Astros hitting rock bottom on the season and having no where to go but up. Some positive regression in the teams favorite is probably the biggest factor in their improvement in play.

BCB: The Brewers are scheduled to face Edgar Gonzalez Friday night, and his four starts for the Astros this season are his first since 2009. What can you tell us about him?

CB: He essentially came out of no where. He's two pretty good starts with the Astros, one bad one and his latest start he left early with blister issues. He's not going to blow anyone away, but he's got some decent off-speed stuff. At this point he's a flyer the Astros are taking a chance on.

BCB: The Astros are in kind of a weird position with their manager, having already announced that interim manager Tony DeFrancesco won't be back for 2013 and Nationals third base coach Bo Porter will take his place next season. What's your opinion on the Porter hiring and how they've handled the search?

CB: I like Bo Porter, especially considering he's not going to take any crap from loud mouth Cub coaches. He's a candidate that we discussed, but kind of fell to the wayside with sexier sabermetric picks like Tim Bogar and Dave Martinez. After learning more about him the past 24 hours I'm fine with his hiring. I don't really get too excited about this manager or that manager being hired because this team needs a lot more work than who's running the ship. Still it's a nice step in the right direction and he's got thumbs up from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.

As for the process they handled it well, my only gripe is that news broke about the hiring well after midnight. We have a theory that the Astros front office is filled with vampires, because they're stealthy and the only release big news in the evening.

BCB: Obviously this team is a long way away from contention and has a lot of work to do. If you were put in charge of the Astros today, what's the first thing you'd tackle?

CB: The PR/Marketing department. Apparently on top of possibly being vampires they're also working on raising the dead for luncheons involving former players. Joe Niekro has been dead for six years ( and that's not the only thing the Astros PR department is bungling. Apparently they also don't know how to read a lineup card ( Yes there's more but I'll spare you.

I realize I was supposed to a more baseball operations approach, but really I like what Jeff Luhnow is doing and would continue to let him do it. For a team that was leading the way in social media and interaction with the fanbase they've really taken a step backwards and that's very disappointing to see as a fan that has suffered through two 100 loss seasons.

Thanks again to Timothy De Block for taking the time, and be sure to check out The Crawfish Boxes for more on the Astros!