Monday, December 15, 2008

Catching up on today's news

Sorry, I was out of commission most of the day.

Let's see, the Astros signed fifth outfielder Jason Michaels to a one-year, $750,000 incentive-laden contract today.

Says Easy Eddie:
He's a solid player with good makeup and he brings another veteran presence to the Astros. He can play all three outfield positions, can, if needed, go out there and play on a regular basis, and can give you a professional at-bat in a tough situation."

Michaels, 32, hit .224 with eight home runs and 53 RBI in 123 games with Cleveland and Pittsburgh in 2008. In 50 pinch-hit appearances last season, Michaels hit .200 and recorded 13 RBI, ranking third in the Majors in RBI as a pinch-hitter.

On June 2 he hit a pinch-hit grand slam off Adam Wainwright and the Pirates won 5-4. And while he does spend much of his time coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter, Michaels does much, much better when facing the pitcher in his second at-bat (.206 first time, .345 the second time). When swinging at the first thing he sees (probably a good idea in pinch-hit situations), Michaels hit .361 with 11 RBI, 3 HR and 3 doubles. Bizarrely, he never saw a 3-0 count. When he's ahead in the count, Michaels hits .395. When behind in the count, Michaels in 2008 hit .134. With runners on, Michaels in 2008 hit .277 and with runners in scoring position hit .321.

So there's your 2008 statistical breakdown on your fifth outfielder. That probably means Erstad is going to be your go-to guy when Lee or Pence needs a break. Or if Bourn continues to hit .200. Michaels will be your off-the-bench pinch-hit presence with the spot start. Welcome to the Astros, Jason Michaels.