Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doug Brocail's 2008 season

The quick numbers say Brocail had a 3.93 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, 22 Holds and 64 strikeouts in 68.2 innings.

What do the long numbers say?

72 games - a career high.

Games giving up a run: 18
Games giving up a walk: 17
Games giving up a home run: 8

That means 54 games Brocail appeared in that he didn't give up a run. 54 out of 72. July and August were particularly brutal. Brocail gave up runs in consecutive games on two occasions in July and three consecutive games in August.

The home runs were to:
Padres LF (and left-handed #2 hitter) Paul McAnulty on April 17 at home with 0 out.
Nationals RF (and right-handed #6 hitter) Austin Kearns on May 6 at home with 0 out.
Yankees SS (and right-handed #1 hitter) Derek Jeter on June 13 at home with 0 out.
Pirates 1B (and left-handed #5 hitter) Adam LaRoche on July 8 at Pittsburgh with 2 outs.
Cubs LF (and right-handed #1 hitter) Alfonso Soriano on August 5 at Chicago with 2 outs.
Brewers SS (and right-handed #2 hitter) JJ Hardy on August 20 at Milwaukee with 2 outs.
Cardinals 1B (and right-handed #3 hitter) Albert Pujols on August 30 at home with 2 outs.
September 2 CF (and right-handed #5 hitter) Jim Edmonds at Chicago with 2 outs.

So that's 2 lefties and 6 righties. 4 at home, 4 on the road. 3 with no outs, 5 with 2 outs. And the Astros were 39-33 when Brocail pitched. 28 games in which Brocail put a man on base, but didn't give up a run.

Astros sign Brocail

According to an Astros press release, the Astros signed Doug Brocail today.

It's a one-year deal for $2.5 million plus incentives and a club option for '10 for $2.85 million with a $250,000 buyout. More later.

The Astros DO have some sense...

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Braves made some inquiries about Roy Oswalt and "so far have not received favorable replies."

I hope the "unfavorable reply" came with hysterical laughing and then slamming the phone down 142 times.

Alyson Footer on arbitration, or lack thereof...

She says:

The club appears to still be interested in retaining both Wolf and Brocail, but the interest has cooled, especially with Wolf, whose contract offer, which the Astros extended earlier this season, is believed to have been pulled.


In the interest of saving payroll, it looks as though the Astros didn't want to risk having both players accept arbitration and signing for more money. The Astros have apparently pulled their offer to Wolf, which, if it was worth anything, he probably would have taken. So the Astros have pulled their ten dollar offer and are trying to get him to sign for a five and two ones...

I'll say it again, the Hampton signing was meant to replace Wolf.

Richard Justice confirms what you read here three hours ago...

At least we think alike:

They could still sign Wolf, but it appears increasingly unlikely now with the bargain-basement $2-million signing of Mike Hampton.

I'm guessing they decided it would be dumb to trade Jose Valverde, and that they'd rather take their chances with Hampton if it meant they could keep the National League saves leader.

Maybe the Astros took a deep breath sometime in the last few days and decided they'd rather have Valverde than Wolf. That's an interesting decision.

More arbitration information

The Astros will make public what they did with arbitration this morning, but there's some interesting information to be drawn from the fact that they probably did not offer arbitration to Wolf and Brocail.

Alyson Footer is reporting that:
General manager Ed Wade made it clear that in order to sign Wolf, he'd have to shave money off the payroll in other areas. Presumably, if he cannot trade Ty Wigginton and/or Jose Valverde, both of whom are due hefty raises in arbitration, Wolf may be too expensive and therefore headed elsewhere this winter.

So that would indicate Easy Eddie isn't finding a suitable trade partner for Wigginton and/or Valverde. Or that Wolf and Valverde would make about the same amount of money, and Easy Eddie is leaning towards keeping Valverde and letting Wolf go where he pleases, indicating that Hampton is Wolf's replacement in the rotation.

The Brewers did end up offering arbitration to Ben Sheets - and as he's a Type A free agent, the Astros (should they sign him, which is iffy at best) will have to give the Brewers two draft picks.

Footer also mentioned the Cardinals did not offer arbitration to Russ Springer, which opens the door for a possible return to the Astros in '09 - then making Brocail more expendable.

How Arbitration Works

Monday night was the last night to offer arbitration to players. What the heck does that mean? Here (with some aid from here)

Players with at lease three years, but less than six years, of ML service are eligible.
Super-2 players (which is complicated).
Players who have filed for free agency, but the team has to offer and the player has to accept.

Teams have to offer contracts to players by December 12.
Players who have been offered arbitration have to accept by December 7. If they accept, the player goes back on the roster and the two sides continue to negotiate.

If they can't come to an agreement by January, the team and the player separately submit a figure to a three-person panel of arbitrators. At the hearing (and negotiations can continue up to the hearing), each side has one hour to present their case with a 30-minute rebuttal available.

The sides high-low each other, presenting the awkward scenario of a team telling a player they want to play for them how they aren't worth what they think they are. If a free agent is offered arbitration and declines and signs with another team, the team who signs them loses draft picks to the team from which the player departed. If accepted and a deal is struck, it's a one-year/non-guaranteed deal (meaning he can be cut, and is only due 30-45 day termination pay).

Arbitration Not Offered to Brocail, Wolf

Tim Dierkes is reporting that the Astros did not offer arbitration to Doug Brocail and Randy Wolf.

This is pretty surprising, because arbitration results in a one-year deal - like the Astros are afraid to lose in arbitration. I agree with Dierkes: Run-DMc must have a pretty hardline figure in mind for the '09 payroll...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rosenthal on Hampton

Holy crap - wouldn't you know it? Astros County called it...

Hampton has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the chance to earn another $2 million in appearance-based incentives, according to a major-league source.

If you're keeping track at home: $2 million is about what we paid Shawn Chacon...

Mike Hampton signs with Astros

According to ESPN.com, Hampton and the Astros reached agreement Monday on a contract pending the free-agent pitcher passing a physical, KRIV-TV in Houston reported on its Web site. Terms were not available.

Astros GM Ed Wade declined to comment.

Hampton pitched for the Astros from 1994-99, with his best season coming in 1999, when he was 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA.

Hampton has spent the past four seasons with the Atlanta Braves but did not pitch in 2006 and '07 because of injuries. In 2008, he was 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA after missing the first four months of the season because of injury.


The value of this deal all depends on the financials - of which incentives are sure to be a part. Hampton has enjoyed a few good seasons since leaving the Astros following the 1999 season, but hasn't started more than 30 games in a season since 2003. Hampton had Tommy John surgery in 2005, tore his oblique, pulled a hammy and strained a pec. And if you touch the tweezers to the side of his spleen, his nose lights up and he buzzes.

Four teams interested in Loretta

"At least four clubs have expressed interested in free agent infielder Mark Loretta, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. The list includes Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Arizona and the Dodgers. Loretta, 37, hit .280 in 101 games with Houston last season, and played all four infield positions. After losing his salary arbitration case in February, he received a base salary of $2.75 million. The Astros are not expected to offer Loretta salary arbitration this year."

The New York Daily News does not think highly of the Houston Astros organization

Bill Madden's annual Top 10 Turkey List came out over the weekend, and the Astros' front office was very well-represented. A full 20% of baseball's biggest turkeys work at Minute Maid Park (and that's not even counting Roger Clemens!). Check it out:

It's beginning to look as though we can't have a proper annual turkey list without Drayton McLane, who makes it for the second straight year. For the Astros, it's a Turkey Quinella with McLane and his GM Ed Wade after the Astros owner screwed up the postponement of the "Hurricane Ike" three-game series with the Cubs in September and then bad-mouthed Bud Selig behind the commissioner's back for the games winding up in Milwaukee. Days before the hurricane hit Texas, Selig tried to convince McLane the games needed to be moved, but McLane chose to ignore the dire forecast out of greed for a potential three sellouts - by which time Milwaukee was the only option left. Plus, after saving $600,000 by failing to sign three of his first five draft picks in '07, McLane turned around and authorized the $2 million expenditure on pitcher Shawn Chacon, despite the pitcher's checkered past.

Hard to imagine a GM having a worse, more embarrassing year than the Astros' front office chief. He wound up making world champions of his former team, the Phillies, (after never making the playoffs in eight years as their own GM) by gifting them closer Brad Lidge, who was 41-for-41 in saves, for outfielder Michael Bourn. At the time of the deal, Wade maintained Lidge needed a change of scenery (which he certainly did) and cited Bourn as a potential diamond-in-the r ough speed guy who could have significant impact on the Astro offense. Alas, Bourn had the worst on-base pct. (.288) and OPS (.588) of any player in the majors, hitting just .229 with only 19 extra base hits in 467 at-bats. And then there was that nasty clubhouse fight Wade allowed himself to get into with Chacon. While Chacon was deservedly suspended (and subsequently released), Wade did not dignify himself by cursing the pitcher out in front of teammates and precipitating the fight.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Roy-O Recruiting Sheets

Roy has decided to pick up the phones and do a little recruiting himself, presumably to make sure he isn't the only solid one-fifth of the rotation next season, by talking to his buddy Ben Sheets.

Sheets is going to command $10-15 million, so that means getting rid of Tejada, Wigginton and Valverde for the payroll limitations which have apparently already been set by Run-DMc.

Ken Rosenthal says this about Sheets: "If the Brewers fail to offer Sheets arbitration, it will be a clear indication that club officials are concerned about his ability to stay healthy in 2009. And remember, the Brewers know Sheets better than any other team."