Monday, August 31, 2009

Locke, Sutil named to Texas League Post-Season All-Star team

That pretty much says it...

Locke done for the year

Professional raker and Double-A prospect Drew Locke is done for the year after getting HBPed. Zachary Levine is tweeting it's a broken hand and Locke will not be ready for winter ball.

Pump the brakes, Nolan

Captip to Street for a link following up on Justice's tweet earlier today about Nolan shifting the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate to Round Rock.

The Oklahoman's Matt Patterson:
Oklahoma and the Rangers are midway through a four-year player development contract that is set to expire in 2010. Any discussions about the team leaving before that agreement is idle speculation, said Rangers director of minor league operations John Lombardo.

"It's ridiculous. We're obligated to fulfill that agreement, and we want to fulfill it. We have no intentions of moving the team before that agreement is up, and we've had no internal discussions whatsoever about moving out of Oklahoma City. We're more than happy with Oklahoma City and have no intention of changing directions...

...From our understanding, the Astros are very happy with their relationship with Round Rock,. That would be against the rules anyway. We have an agreement, and to break it, Major League Baseball would become involved along with Houston. To my knowledge, the only time that (agreements broken) has happened is when a big-league club moves into a market that had previously had a minor league team in it.”

OKC RedHawks co-owner Scott Pruitt:
"There's no indication we've received from them at any time that they're anything but ecstatic about having their Triple-A team here. They love the accessibility to Arlington, they love the stadium and being involved in this market.”

Matchup for G131 - Astros @ Cubs least college football starts this weekend. The Astros are four games back of the Cubs, and two back of the Brewers, for fourth place in the NL Central, and are playing like the 66-96 team Baseball Prospectus thought they were (they are who they thought they were) at the beginning of the season.

Roy Oswalt

In the four starts since returning from injury, Oswalt has thrown two quality starts (one of them a gem), and two disaster starts. Roy is 7-5, and is in real danger of not winning ten games in a season for the first time in his career.

Last three starts:

8/16 @MIL68/55:28/1294/65
8/21 vA'I73/02:015/9100/71
8/26 @StL610/33:111/1399/70

Career vs. Chicago: 12-12 (28 starts), 3.86 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 174.2IP, 135K:30BB
Career @ Wrigley: 6-5 (14 starts), 4.71 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 84IP, 63K:11BB
2009 road record: 4-3 (15 starts), 4.07 ERA/1.18 WHIP, 90.2IP, 65K:23BB
2009 vs. Chicago: 0-1 (3 starts), 3.68 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 14.2IP, 11K:1BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .246/.306/.411, 56K:20BB
vs Lefties: .273/.315/.414, 63K:18BB

When swinging at the first pitch (82): .373/.382/.653, 12XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (354): .218/.255/.312, 86K:11BB
After First-Pitch Balls (230): .284/.371/.488, 33K:27BB

RISP: 27x124, .218/.336/.339, 30K:18BB
Runners on: 53x235, .238/.320/.396, 46K:24BB
2OwRISP: 10x57, .175/.329/.228, 18K:9BB

Rich Harden

Last three appearances:

8/11 vPHI72/26:26/1187/54
8/19 @SD71/08:36/6103/62
8/26 vWSH65/25:28/895/66

In the eight starts Harden has made since the All-Star Break, only one of them hasn't been a quality one, and that one (7/31 @ FLA) was because he only went 5IP, 5H/2ER, 11K:3BB, and his pitch count was running up on him.

Career vs. Houston: 1-1 (3 starts), 5.30 ERA/1.55 WHIP, 18.2IP, 19K:7BB
2009 vs. Houston: 1-1 (2 starts), 4.85 ERA/1.59 WHIP, 13IP, 11K:6BB
Career @ Wrigley: 5-5 (19 starts), 4.34 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 101.2IP, 128K:45BB
2009 @ Wrigley: 3-5 (12 starts), 5.98 WHIP/1.40 WHIP, 61.2IP, 67K:28BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .213/.314/.393, 74K:34BB
vs Lefties: .243/.312/.424, 69K:18BB

When swinging at the first pitch (42): .343/.361/.571, 4XBH (2HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (244): .205/.240/.323, 91K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (238): .232/.381/.479, 52K:44BB

RISP: 21x86, .244/.350/.407, 24K:14BB
Runners on: 40x175, .229/.335/.406, 53K:27BB
2OwRISP: 10x42, .238/.385/.238, 14K:9BB

So the Astros will be facing Harden, after all

David Kaplan is reporting Harden will be staying with the Cubs.

Berkman: Calf still bothering him?

In a fantasy baseball article lamenting the loss of Berkman's power, Jason Grey wonders if his calf is still jacked.

"I see him running, running hard, so I don't think that's an issue anymore. He's still getting extra-base hits, scoring from second with ease. I just don't think his swing is where he wants it to be."

I watched Berkman from several angles this weekend, and it was apparent there are still some timing issues with his swing. Even with the assumption that pain in Berkman's calf is no longer an issue, it's possible that fighting through the problem has caused him to compensate or slightly alter his stroke in some fashion. Berkman is still making the same contact, but not really driving the ball as well I've seen him. A few times during this past weekend, his hands were late getting to the ball from the left side, sapping some of the power in his swing, and he's not getting the leverage with his lower half, leading me to suspect that trying to compensate for the calf muscle has caused some problems with his swing.

Thankfully, Berkman has at least hit for some average while balls aren't clearing the fence, hitting .294 since the break as his batting average continues to rebound from a slow start that saw him hitting just .162 after the first month and .230 at the end of May. However, based on what I saw this weekend, he's going to need to get back in rhythm or perhaps make a slight mechanical adjustment to expect a good power outburst in the final month.

And what has the Tout Wars Champion noticed about Michael Bourn?

Michael Bourn's performance this season hasn't surprised me. This is kind of what I've expected, and what's he's capable of. The fact that he fell so flat last season was the surprise. I did expect some struggles in his first season with a full-time starting job, but the depth of those struggles were unexpected. However, Bourn has bounced back nicely this season, ranking as a top-10 outfielder in our Player Rater. The speed has obviously still been there, and he's brought the batting average up. His batting average on balls in play is .370, which is probably a tad high even for someone with the Bourn's wheels. While his average does have a little bit of luck involved, it's legitimate.

One of the biggest changes in Bourn's game this year is being much more aggressive with fastballs early in the count. Last year, he was trying too hard to draw walks and see pitches trying to get ahead. That often works in the minors, but in the big leagues taking the first two pitches can mean you're quickly down 0-2.

"You try to be patient, because as a leadoff hitter you think you need to take as many pitches as you can, but I learned you have to hit the way you hit no matter where you are in the order and not try to change things. I feel like I have a pretty good eye, but if it's in the strike zone I'm swinging. Every so often, I'll go up there to take the first pitch no matter what, but usually if it's a good strike I'm going to swing."

Last year, Bourn wouldn't always stay back and behind the ball, instead lunging or reaching at it, and it threw off his swing path. He would drift forward, and when you do that your head is moving and everything looks faster. Last year, the book was that he could be beaten with fastballs, but that's definitely not the case this season, as he's become a very good fastball hitter. He's done a much better job of consistently staying back, and he's able to go to the opposite field, thus we're seeing the results. This is the version of Bourn we can expect going forward.

August 31, 2000-2009

The Astros are currently 62-68, 14GB of the Cardinals heading into play on August 31. How does that compare to the past ten seasons (without the Wild Card)?

2008: 70-66, 15GB
2007: 60-64, 9GB
2006: 65-68, 6GB
2005: 69-62, 14GB
2004: 68-63, 18.5GB
2003: 71-64, tied for 1st
2002: 72-62, 2.5GB
2001: 78-55, 4 games up
2000: 55-78, 20GB

Astros might face Harden tonight. Or they might not.

Because the Twins put in a waiver claim on Rich Harden, and the Cubs have until today to work out a trade. This will affect today's matchup post, so stay tuned...

The Albany Times-Union is just mean

Profile on the upcoming close of the 2009 Tri-City season.

Sports Editor Mark McGuire:
Maybe there's a more meaningless game than the Tri-City ValleyCats facing the Aberdeen IronBirds tonight at Bruno Stadium. Perhaps the Tuesday night game. That's the best I can do.

ValleyCats manager Jim Pankovits:
"Unfortunately we didn't have a chance to play a lot of meaningful games involving a pennant race. We struggled in just about every phase of the game. They certainly have a body of work that is full of adversity that they can call on down the road -- how they dealt with it positively or negatively. Certainly it was a learning experience in that respect."

For all the ineptitude, you can't say the ValleyCats underachieved; that would presume talent. While a small handful of players such as third baseman Erik Castro and shortstop Barry Butera may have gotten themselves on the radar of the parent club, the ValleyCats are too starved for power, speed and pitching to ever have been considered a contender.

And then this:
Enough. The fans and local management (which has no say on player personnel) deserve better.

The ValleyCats' franchise agreement with the Astros expires after 2010. Consider next season a make-or-break one -- not just for the to-be-determined players, but the Astros-ValleyCats union. Granted, the won-loss record of a Class A team is not paramount to the Major League club. But unless the Astros make demonstrable strides in getting some talent -- any talent -- to Troy (start by improving college scouting), then Tri-City owner Bill Gladstone should be looking elsewhere for a big-league affiliation.

So this morning we hear from Justice that Round Rock sucks enough to perhaps get taken away from the Astros. And that the NYPL team might suck enough to get taken away from the Astros after 2010. Rough year, huh?

Wade, on call-ups

Further evidence on a lack of call-ups:

"As best as possible, I would like to limit it to players who are going to get a chance to contribute. It doesn't mean there might not be a player or two here for atmospheric reasons, to learn about the big leagues a little bit, but by and large I don't believe in using September as rewards.

You start talking about [accruing] 30 days of big league service time and everything else that comes with it. As excited as players are to get promoted to the big leagues in September, when they get here and don't play, I'm not sure they're quite as enthralled as they thought they would be."

Interesting. Major League Baseball isn't as cool as we think, apparently.

Within this piece, we see Towles is "almost assured" of getting a spot. Sampson and Manzella are also strongly being considered.

"We want to win as many games as we can. We're committed to a lot of veteran players here, guys who have gone out there and battled for us all season long. I think they deserve the opportunities to continue to play. Can you find out some things about younger players in September? To some extent, but I've also been told by a lot of sage, veteran baseball people, 'Don't be fooled by what you see in Spring Training and don't be fooled by what you see in September.'

The players will be here to contribute when called upon, but my expectation is the bulk of the playing time will continue to go to the players who have gone out there and produced for us all season long."

Or, not produced all season long.

The Nolan Ryan Effect spreading to Round Rock?

Interesting tweet from Richard Justice this morning:

Round Rock Express may dump Astros and sign on with Rangers in 2010. Nolan Ryan must be tired of finishing last.

Eddie's Farm: August 30

Round Rock
Nashville used a 6-run 4th inning to beat the Express 7-3. Matt Kata was 3x4 with 2RBI, Reggie Abercrombie (2x5), and Bogusevic (2x4, RBI) had multi-hit games. Josh Muecke threw 5IP, 9H/4ER (7 total) and four relievers followed - three of them major-leaguers (Wright, Brocail, and Sampson), while Chad Paronto closed out the game. This was the second time Sampson has pitched since August 20, and surprise surprise, allowed 0ER in his those two games. So, rest. Who knew?

Corpus Christi
Corpus scored a go-ahead run in the 8th to defeat San Antonio 11-10. Jhon Florentino was 3x5, while JVO was 2x3 with a 2-run homer and 3RBI. Felix Molina and Nick Moresi had 2RBI each. Klingin' Kenny Baugh threw 2IP, 6H/7ER, 0K:3BB, and Ryan McKeller came in with 4IP of relief, 4H/2R (1ER), 4K:1BB. Weatherby blew the save, but got the win, while Evan Englebrook got his 8th save of the year.

Despite out-hitting San Jose 9-6, the JetHawks lost 4-1. Jack Shuck and Ebert Rosario had two-hit games. Chris Salamida threw 6.1IP, 5H/4R (1ER), 3K:3BB. Four errors (Rosario - 2, Cabral, and Salamida) led to the three unearned runs

Lexington scored a run in the 12th to defeat Greenville 4-3. Jay Austin was 2x6 with an RBI, Brandon Wikoff was 2x5, and Suttle and Pellegrini each added RBIs - Suttle's RBI double providing the winning run. Jordan Lyles thrwe 5IP, 7H/3ER, 6K:0BB while Henry Villar, Brian Wabick, and Matt Nevarez threw 7IP, 5H/0ER, 7K:0BB in relief - Nevarez picked up the win.

Tri-City beat Aberdeen 6-3 thanks to Nick Stanley's 3x4 day, with a 3-run homer and 4RBI. J.D. Martinez was also 3x4 with a solo homer. Colton Pitkin threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 2K:4BB for the win.

A 5-run 5th inning for Princeton was what sunk the Gastros 7-3. Kyle Miller was 2x3 with two doubles, Our Boy Aaron Bray was 2x4 (hitting .436 in his last ten games, .316 in August). Jiovanni Mier hit a solo homer, and Carlos Mojica had the other two RBI. Luis Cruz threw 4.2IP, 8H/7ER, 3K:0BB while Jeiler Castillo and Scott Migl threw 4.1IP, 1H/0ER, 6K:2BB in relief.

2012 is going to be awesome

In a nice profile of the Legends' heralded pitching staff:

Jordan Lyles:
"We're pretty young, but experience wasn't a factor. We came out and threw strikes and got people out."

Astros' minor-league pitching coordinator Britt Burns:
"I've been tickled to death with what (the starters have) accomplished this year. I'm really looking forward to next year, (seeing) them progress and, hopefully, finding their way to the big leagues sooner rather than later."

Lexington pitching coach Travis Driskill:
"They're all 20 and under, and they've all performed in a league where most of the guys are probably either college kids or have at least three or four years of pro experience. They've all done well, and all of them have thrown one game that you can say, 'Wow, that was a really good game!'"

Robert Bono:
"The biggest stride is probably keeping the ball down. And going in and out. Command of my fastball, that's been the biggest jump."

Brad Dydalewicz:
"My changeup has been a great pitch for me this year, so I've pretty well mastered that pitch. I really feel comfortable throwing it in any count. My ball is moving a lot and I've got a lot of sink on my two-seam (fastball)"

Kyle Greenwalt, on what changed from last year:
"My competitiveness on the mound. I just became more willing to allow guys to hit the ball and I just learned a lot. That's what our pitching philosophy has been all year: just pitch to contact. You don't need to strike guys out."

Jordan Lyles, who has already set the Lexington record for Ks in a season:
"Midway through the season I came away with a pretty decent curveball from Travis helping me, and our pitching coordinators. I've really grown to like it and I expect big things from it in the future."

Ross Seaton:
"The game's faster. I know everybody says that, but I didn't understand it until I got here. Everything just moves faster and you have to learn how to slow it down and keep it at your own pace. We can't control whether we score runs or not. And it's not in our control how many runs we give up, either. You can have great suff and get killed, and you can have awful stuff and throw a shutout. It's the way it is, and we're learning from it, and you 'just pitch' no matter what."

September Call-ups

Information is slowly coming out as to who will be called up tomorrow when the rosters expand to 40.

Obviously there are 25 guys on the roster now. We already know that Aaron Boone will be activated tomorrow, and Doug Brocail, and Wesley Wright will be added to the roster, as well.

Now we find out Billy Sadler is only minor-leaguer who has been confirmed to come up to the Big Club, but it won't happen until Round Rock's season is officially over (as opposed to Theoretically Over, as it has been since about August 1.)

Why Billy Sadler? Because it's in his contract:
“A pre-condition of (Sadler) signing with us was that if he was healthy that we would bring him up in September. He's healthy. Unless something changes between now and what probably will be the end of the minor league season we'll bring him up.”

So that means there are 11 spots available to come up, and you have to be on the 40-man roster to be eligible for a September call-up. (So the Astros couldn't reward Jordan Lyles with a few weeks of chartered flights, even if Ed Wade was in the reward business, which he has made very clear he is not.) Who is on the 40-man roster, yet in the minors?

Brad James
Chris Sampson
Polin Trinidad

J.R. Towles

German Duran
Matt Kata
Tommy Manzella
Jose Vallejo

Brian Bogusevic
Yordany Ramirez

That's ten players. Enough Major League to go around for everyone. But it won't happen. I'm guessing Sampson comes up, Towles, too. I would like to see Manzella and Bogusevic, but Manzella might be more likely. I'm still not sure why Wade wouldn't want to use the September Call-Up more inclusively. At the very least it could provide a motivating factor for the minor-leaguers to keep working, and to give them some experience around established veterans. Bogusevic wouldn't want to hear from Hunter Pence? Manzella wouldn't want to talk to Tejada and see his approach to the game? I just don't get it.

So the Astros do have some sort of plan with Norris

So after throwing a career-high in IPs this season, The Troof will be skipped the next time through the rotation.

“Thinking about it and talking to Dewey a little bit, and we're going to talk about it some more, he could get skipped this time too,”

Dewey Robinson:
“Me being the coordinator for years, I always looked at the workload of pitchers from year to year. You try to be very conscious of that and make sure they're healthy and you're not putting them at any risk. (Norris) and Paulino, those are two of our top young arms. You want to make sure you keep them healthy. I believe (Norris) approximately had 80 (pitches). I think the year before was (103). At least last year he pitched in the Arizona Fall League. That was good because that extended his season until October. That being said, at least his season last year was an extension like it is in the major leagues.”
Oh, and Paulino is fine after getting drilled in the back of the knee by a line drive Saturday. He'll start the game on Wednesday vs the Cubs.

“It's fine. What's important is that I don't have any discomfort. I'll just prepare the same as usual. I'll try to do my job and throw strikes.”

Hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing


“Right now nothing is going right for us. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“Some thought the Cubbies were going to run away with it in the division. That’s why we play 162 games to see what happens. It’s a grind, and unfortunately we’re being ground up in it. It’s definitely a snowball. I mean, it seems to be accumulating. We’re constantly finding ourselves in situations where we can’t get out of. Even when we do get in what could be a prosperous situation we don’t take advantage of it or we don’t get that big hit.”

Coop, who isn't knowing a lot right now:
“These guys seem to hit us. I don’t know. They seem to make things happen against us.”

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Recap coming later, but getting swept at the hands of the Diamondbacks in the current situation the Astros are in...that's not something a manager with communication issues normally survives.

Tejada back in the news. And it's not good, either.

This article, from the NYT, addresses Tejada's alleged pitch-tipping with Oakland.;jsessionid=23D4479C5D372ABAB2FC06E2FBDF7A9A.w5?a=426318&f=27

Wandy to start today

In JJO's Notes column today we read:

1. Wandy gets the start today - not Paulino.

2. Blum is experiencing body stingers:

The good news is where they thought it was impinged it's not, so it will heal relatively quickly, hopefully. But they also found another herniated disk (C-7) a little bit further down, which is kind of interesting. I talked to the doctors, and they said, ‘If you can handle it, you can play.' I want to play, so here I am.”

That's impressive.

3. Wilton Lopez was on the mound less than two hours after arriving from Corpus.

“That was really tough on him. But you know what? I was really impressed with what I saw. ”

Coop: Master of the Backhanded Compliment

Asked to evaluate Bud Norris after last night's game, Coop:

"They are definitely guys we’re looking at for the future. But they have to figure out a way to throw it over the plate. Command is the whole issue. He couldn’t command his fastball at all.”

“My arm feels good, honestly. I feel great. That’s the thing. Obviously I got to learn, period.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recap for G128 - Astros at Diamondb-cks

Quick version tonight.

Man of the Match: Jeff Fulchino - only one to throw a perfect inning.

Goat of the Game: Bud Norris. Quickly erased that 3-0 start and is now 3-3 after 5IP/6ER.

Hampton done for the year

Mike Hampton is done for the year and will undergo three surgeries: on his jacked up shoulder and both knees.

Uh. What?

Cecil Cooper, on motivation this season:

"I'm not sure there's much I can do," manager Cecil Cooper said when asked if there was any way to light a fire under the team. "They're professionals."

Some managers, like the Dodgers' Joe Torre, have meetings to remind players of their responsibilities. Others choose to meet with players on a one-on-one basis. Every manager has their own technique.

"I'm not sure that works with a veteran team," Cooper said.
Huh? That's a quote from someone who has given up. Get him out, and the sooner the better. If you can call somebody up on September 1 to see what they have, let's try it out with the managerial spot.

Youngest Citizen of Astros County

Citizen Spruce and new Citizen Lynlee, at whatever where the Rangers play is called. Keep sending those photos in!

Justice's 12-step program

Latest plan to fix the Astros.

1. Fire Coop
2. Hire Bagwell
3. Make Manny Acta bench coach, and make room for Biggio
4. Bench Matsui
5. Make Maysonet starting 2B
6. Bench Blum and Keppinger
7. Move Tejada to 3B
8. Make Manzella starting SS
9. Give Towles one last chance
10. Bench Moehler
11. Put Paulino as SP5
12. Give Bogusevic a roving spot in the outfield

Suddenly, we'd look at 2010 completely differently. There'd suddenly be some hope. Even if they were terrible in 2010, there's the possibility that they're learning on the job and that they'll get better.

Do you like my plan? Sure you do. What do we have to lose except a few more games? If we're going down, let's go down with a manager that loves the Astros with all his heart and soul and cares more about them than any 10 fans. Let's go down with kids that are going fast and playing their hearts out. Let's make this September one to remember instead of one to forget.

If my great experiment doesn't work, so what. At least we tried. At least we didn't sit on our hands, ignore the problems and pretend it would all be OK.

Drayton issues no votes of confidence

Seems that Roy caught Drayton's attention after all.

There's plenty of time when the season is over to address how we finished up. Let's see what the real potential of this team is. We had much greater expectations, so you have to adjust. Part of it you have to look at it. You ever see a team that had as many injuries to key players?”

I think we've already seen it. And injuries to key players? Valverde missed some time. Berkman missed some time. Roy was on the DL once. As far as your key players? That's a stretch.

Is Drayton happy with Coop?
"I don't know that I can have evaluated or considered that. We're going to review every part — from the players to the manager, to the farm system. We haven't picked out any one part of it.

Is Drayton happy with Roy?
"Roy had great frustration, and that's part of a champion. He wants to win as much as anybody else. These are problems you need to solve internally rather than through the media...

...“He didn't name any names. I'm kind of struggling to know who he was referring to. We got some great players. When we put this team together in December and January, we certainly had thought we were going to have better results than we had this year. I think the team has given great effort. Particularly when you get to the big leagues, you play 162 games and you need to play hard, aggressively for the 162 games; No. 1, for the fans. They support you. And for the team, that's how you build your fan base and the fan base for the season. And for the players themselves, they take lots of pride in their careers.”

Is Drayton concerned?
"You're always concerned. I think there is concern because we had great expectations.”

Seriously, who spilled water in the bullpen?

That may not be how it went down, but Arias says he strained his hamstring slipping in the bullpen while warming up. He won't be throwing for two to three days.

With Arias on the DL with a hamstring strain, becoming the fifth Astro to hit the DL with a bad hamstring, Run-DMc (Drayton, for those of you new to Astros County) is going to order a full investigation into why it's happening:
“Look at how many hamstring strains, calf strains and other injuries we've had. Do we need to change our training routine? Do we need to see the energy drinks they take? We need to see what has caused all these injuries. Have you ever seen so many calf injuries? Look how many calf injuries.”

I'll go out on a limb and say that the energy drinks are safe. But the training routine...he may be on to something.

Looks like Paulino will get the start on Sunday, and not Wandy:
“Well, we've kind of decided, but we still don't want to put it in stone just yet because you know how these things are. When you make plans, then all of a sudden there's a long day or a long ballgame and you have to use everybody you got.”

So they're leaning towards it, but fully realize that Saturday's game could be a complete disaster.
Boone will rejoin the team on Tuesday, after rosters expand to 40 players:
You know when you go to spring training you start to get ready for the grind of the season. And not being able to go through it with the guys — a lot of these guys I knew coming in and a lot of these guys that I didn't know as well — I was really looking forward to playing with. That at least it's going to become a reality for a month is nice.”
And Blum will rejoin the team today after a negative MRI showed that he was just being a wuss.

Recap for G128 - Astros at Diamondbacks

Some Astros fans are going to be upset about this latest turn of events, in which our two newest pitchers allowed 14 runs in a 14-7 loss at Arizona. I'm not. Not even close, because this is on the job training for 2010. So why should I care what happens in 2009 if we're already thinking about 2010? It was one game, and a lot of lessons can be learned from it. Let's do the thing:

Bazardo: 2IP, 8H/8ER, 0K:3BB, 10/15 first-pitch strikes, 8/24 non-contact strikes (7c:1s)
Lopez: 4IP, 8H/6ER, 3K:2BB, 13/22 FPS, 21/60 NCS (11c:10s) - 92 pitches, 3 homers
Gervacio: 1IP, 2K, 1/3 FPS, 7/9 NCS (3c:4s)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 4/9 NCS (3c:1s)

Pretty tough major-league debut for Lopez. I'm still impressed by Sam Gervacio and the job he's doing. Another inning of scoreles relief, and his ERA is now 1.08.

Offensively, it was the fourth time this season the Astros have scored seven runs and lost. Pence and Matsui were both 2x4 - Pence had two RBI, Matsui, just one - and Berkman and Keppinger were both 1x4 with 2 RBI each. Tejada was lifted after two ABs, and Maysonet installed at SS.

Not that it mattered, but the Astros actually led this game 2-0 in the first. Berkman made another baserunning mistake trying to advance to third after hitting a 2-run double...with nobody out. And then they led again, 4-3, on Keppinger's two-run homer in the 3rd. That's when the wheels fell off, for the first time, in the bottom half of the inning. Seven straight Diamondba'ks reached base, three of them on extra-base hits

Regardless, the only way to look at this and to not want to cry is that this was a learning experience game.

Pitch Count Hero: Jeff Keppinger - 23 pitches in 5 PAs (1x4, 2RBI)
Pitch Count Punk: Lance Berkman - 12 pitches in 4 PAs (1x4, 2RBI)

Man of the Match: Uhhh. How about Hunter Pence? Rebounded from being benched for most of the St. Louis series with 2x4, 2RBI.

Goat of the Game: Just because it's a learning experience doesn't mean that Bazardo gets off the hook. Got one swinging strike in 44 pitches.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Luis Gonzalez Appreciation Night

Here's betting no one makes too big a deal about Luis Gonzalez, all 6'2" 210lb of him, hitting 57 homers (he hit 31 HRs in 2000, and 28 in 2002) in 2001. However, he can still be appreciated in Arizona tonight before G128 with the Astros.

It was also announced that Gonzalez will be joining the Diamondbacks as a Special Assistant to Arizona President/CEO Derrick Hall.

He is one of only 17 players in Major League history to collect at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 350 home runs and 1,000 RBIs. Thirteen of those players are in the Hall of Fame, and only one of the 17 - Andre Dawson - is eligible for the Hall of Fame, but has not yet been elected.

Migraine Alert

A migraine is quickly derailing Astros County this afternoon. So service will resume when available.

Pence: Punching the wall doesn't do anything

Julian Tavarez would disagree, but whatever.

In a story on his latest stint as benchwarmer, Hunter Pence has learned a few lessons:

"I'm going to continue to work and continue to learn. When you fail in this game, you learn from it. I wouldn't say that I've been a complete failure. You go through ups and downs, but you've got to learn and figure out a way to turn it around. I'm going to continue to work until we get back to the postseason...

...I get angry from time to time. When I was a kid, I learned that doesn't get you anywhere. Punching the wall doesn't do anything. You learn that at a young age, to keep that in and old your head high and continue to learn on those things. After a little bit of time, it goes away. You're going to be hot for a little bit, and then it goes away."

Pence has hardly been a complete failure. His 57 RBI rank him 13th among NL outfielders, 19 HRs are tied for 6th among NL outfielders, and his 213 total bases are 12th among that group, as well. It's also important to remember that this is really his second full season, third overall, as a Major Leaguer.

Jerome Solomon on Roy's tirade

It must have taken a while to form an opinion. But what we do read is an interesting quote from Ed Wade about it:

"If he feels that way, he should name names, either that or address the players privately," Wade told Jesus Ortiz. "I just think that it's something that if he feels strongly about that, so strongly that he feels compelled to make public, I think he specifically should point out players who he feels aren't giving 100 percent. Because otherwise it's an indictment of the other 24 players on the club. I prefer for those things to be dealt with in private."

This response cracked me up. Basically, Wade said there is a right way and a wrong way, and though he would prefer you do things the right way, if you're going to do them the wrong way, do it big. Go big or go home.

Now read this. And then you'll need this:

You don't have to name names for the names you didn't name to know it is their names you would have named if you were naming names.

Once you diagram it, it makes more sense. But all this is to lead to the point that maybe Roy is talking himself into forcing a trade.

First September Call-Up announced

And it's Jamey Snodgrass, athletic trainer for the Corpus Christi Hooks.

I am very excited about going to Houston. It is every Minor Leaguer's dream to make it to the big leagues. I have been fortunate to work some Major League Spring Training games, but I am sure those cannot compare to being in the dugout for a regular-season game. I am extremely grateful to the Astros for inviting me and look forward to helping out in any way possible.

Eddie's Farm: August 27

Eddie's Farm was back at it last night as we wind down the minor-league seasons across the organization: 3-4 last night.

Round Rock
Completion of Wednesday's suspended game finishes with a 6-4 win, as Nashville scores three in the top of the 9th (with Corey Patterson's three-run jack). Tommy Manzella had the multi-hit game with a 2x5 night, Chris Johnson and Matt Kata had 2RBI each. Wesley Wright got the win, because Andy Van Hekken (AVH) had to be pulled for the completion of the game. Armando Benitez followed up his 3HR performance with a scoreless inning.

Game 2: And Round Rock won the shortened second game 2-1 on Chad Spann's 2-run homer. Mark McLemore threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 1K:1BB and Chad Paronto got his second save of the day.

Rough night for the Corpuses, as Midland dominated 10-0. The Hooks had four hits (Castro, Van Ostrand, Molina, and Moresi). Unbelievably, the Hooks' pitching staff only had three earned runs after errors from Ori, Weatherby, and Locke led to seven unearned runs. Lumsden got the loss, throwing 6IP, 5H/6R (1ER), 2K:4BB, Weatherby threw 3IP, 3H/4R (2ER), 1K:0BB.

The JetHawks only got three hits in a 4-0 loss to San Jose. Shuck, Rosario, and Barnes provided hits, and no JetHawk made it to scoring position. Chris Hicks threw 5IP, 7H/4ER, 5K:2BB, and San Jose pitcher Paul Oseguera threw a complete-game, 9IP, 3H/0ER, 15K:0BB.

The Legends actually had a 4-0 lead in this game, and then Hickory scored eight unanswered runs for an 8-4 win over Lexington. Brandon Wikoff was 2x4 with an RBI, Federico Hernandez was 1x4 with a 2-run double. Ross Seaton threw 6IP, 5H/1ER (2 total), 5K:0BB, while Kyle Godfrey had his 2nd blown save and third loss of the season with 2IP, 5H/5R (1ER), 1K:0BB.

Despite out-hitting Staten Island 14-9, Tri-City found a way to lose 10-6. Brian Kemp was back in the leadoff spot, going 1x3 with a walk. The ValleyCats got multi-hit games from Barry Butera, J.D. Martinez, Jhonny Medrano (2 RBI), Rene Garcia, and Jorge De Leon. But going 3x13 with RISP doesn't help much. Brandt Walker threw 2IP, 6H/6ER, 1K:3BB, following by 2ER outings from Brendan Stines and Dan Sarisky. Mike Modica and Max Fearnow threw hitless IPs each.

Greeneville was on the right end of a 4-1 game against Burlington. Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with a solo homer, and Grant Hogue, Our Boy Aaron Bray, Jiovanni Mier, Kyle Miller, Oscar Figueroa, and Ryan Humphrey all had hits, as well. Angel Gonzalez threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:1BB and Joan Belliard threw three perfect innings in relief for his first save.

Centerfielder, Justin Timberlake

Bizarreness out of Hollywood: A movie is opening in Corpus today in which Justin Timberlake plays Corpus Christi Hook Carlton Garrett. Jeff Bridges is his father, a retired Astro. Here's the plot:

Movie centers on the adult son of a baseball legend who, together with his girlfriend, embarks on a road trip with his estranged father.

Please. Someone in Corpus, near Corpus, around Corpus: go see The Open Road and get us a review.
IMDB is giving it 4.6 out of 10. Apparently Lyle Lovett is in it. Which bumped it up the 0.6 in my book.

Do the Astros owe it to Roy to trade him?

I say no. John Royal says yes.

I'm a big Roy Oswalt fan. I've been a big fan since he came up in 2001. I like that Oswalt actually seems to care about what happens in a game. I really like this in that it generally appears that guys like Tejada, Lee, and Lance Berkman rarely give a damn about what actually happens during the game. And the fact that Tejada has emerged as the clubhouse leader instead of a guy like Oswalt has always been a sign that most of the team just doesn't really care.

It's pretty obvious that there are going to be changes in this club come the off-season. Cooper will probably be fired. Tejada and Jose Valverde are free agents. And I'm sure the club will start listening to trade offers for just about everybody else on the team. Including Roy Oswalt.

For the sake of Oswalt, to preserve his sanity, and because he deserves it, the team really should make sure that he's one of those that get traded. I could never understand why Oswalt signed that big extension on his contract a couple of years ago. It was obvious then the team was headed in the wrong direction, and as a free agent, he would have been able to command big dollars from clubs like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers -- teams that have shown a willingness to pay for pitching as well as teams that are using in contention for the playoffs.

Of all of the players on the Astros, Oswalt, to me, is the one who most deserves to be playing baseball when it really matters, and that's not something the Astros are going to be doing for a long, long time. So as soon as this season's over, the Astros should be on the phone to all of the other clubs telling them that it's open season and Oswalt can be theirs if the deal is just right...

...Sure. The Astros pitching will suck without Oswalt. But the pitching sucks with him here, as does the rest of the team, and there's no legit reason why he should continued to be punished. Send him to a team that cares, and that can win. And if the Astros can do this right, they'll get a lot of grade A talent for restocking the farm system so that, in about three more years, there will be somebody available to play with Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Plus, by then, the team will be free of Lee, Matsui, and the rest of the slackers who just show up to collect pay checks.

Blum Shoulder, or is it Blum Neck?

Geoff Blum flew back to Houston yesterday to have his shoulder spasms checked out.

Coop thinks the problem in his shoulder, nay, even his knee lies in his neck:
“I think it's a nerve in his neck that's causing the problem. He's been battling a sore left knee and everything. He's got to get checked out.”
Hunter Pence feels personally responsible for his performance in August, a month in which he's hitting .214.

“Where we're at right now, I feel like I'm letting the fans down in Houston. We got to figure out a way to turn it around. That's what I'm working to do.”

Well, the fans in St. Louis love it.
And an update on Hampton's PRP:
“I hadn't thrown in two weeks. I didn't expect to feel great. I'll probably try it again in Arizona and see how I feel then. I threw probably about 50 throws. I'm trying to get it going. Some felt good, some didn't. ... I don't care who you are, if you haven't thrown in two weeks you're not going to feel great. We'll see. We'll give a couple more days and see how it feels.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I bet the boys in Round Rock aren't real happy about this

So Alberto Arias is headed to the DL with a sore knee. Who comes up to replace him? No one from Round Rock, I'll tell you that much.

Our friend Greg Rajan, of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, tells us that Hooks pitcher Wilton Lopez will take his place on the big club, and will join the Astros in Arizona for the series against the ''''''''''''.

Apparently Doug Arguello is Lopez' interpreter, and said this, on behalf of Lopez:
“I was surprised when they called me (to Hooks manager Luis Pujols’ office). I was thinking different things, like going to Triple-A or something. Now, it’s the major leagues and I’m real excited. That (opportunity) is what you’re waiting for whenever you’re doing your job well.”

“Sometimes it’s not just the ERA – it’s what you see out there. I believe he can do it. He’s throwing the ball well. I believe he can do it (in the majors).”

I'll be honest. If I was Casey Daigle, or Josh Muecke, I'd be pretty pissed off. But I'm happy for Wilton Lopez.

Recap for G127 - Astros @ Cardinals

Well, it avoided a sweep, and the Astros are 1-0 following team meetings in August. Jeff Keppinger broke a 3-3 tie with a solo homer with two outs in the top of the 9th, and Valverde recorded six outs to preserve a 4-3 win over St. Louis.

Moehler: 6IP, 6H/3ER, 1K:1BB, 17/24 first-pitch strikes, 20/50 non-contact strikes (17 called:3 swinging)
Gervacio: 0.1IP, 1H, 2/3 FPS, 3/11 NCS (3c)
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1/1 FPS, 1/2 NCS (1c)
Fulchino: 0.1IP, 1K, 0/1 FPS, 3/3 NCS (1c:2s)
Valverde: 2IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:1BB, 5/8 FPS, 7/13 NCS (4c:3s)

Moehler threw a quality start, and departed somewhat early, having thrown just 76 pitches through six innings. Coop used three relievers to get through the seventh inning, and Valverde allowed two baserunners in a six-out save - his first six-out save of the year.

Offensively, Matsui and Coste had the only two two-hit games, both going 2x3 with a walk. It looked like the Astros had wasted a pretty good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning, sending eight men to the plate but only scoring two runs. Keppinger flied out to right with the bases loaded to end the inning, and it looked like his Goat streak would run to two games. With the Cardinals leading 3-2 in the 8th, Tejada scored from first on Erstad's double to tie it up, and then Keppinger hit a squeaker over Matt Holliday's head for the game-winning home run with two outs in the 9th.

Pitch Count Hero: Chris Coste - 18 pitches in 4 PAs (2x3)
Pitch Count Punk: Lance Berkman - 12 pitches in 5 PAs (0x5)

Man of the Match: It has to go to Keppinger. The Astros haven't got the Big Hit lately, and Keppinger provided that hit with the game-winning knock.

Goat of the Game: Lance Berkman: Even with his 2x4 day yesterday, Berkman was 2x12 against the Cardinals in this three-game set. Add the quick ABs, and that's a Goat.

About that players-only meeting

McTaggart addresses Berkman's players-only team meeting:

Oswalt, with the comments that started it all:
"The team atmosphere is dead. There's no fire. When you get on a streak, you come to the field expecting to win. When you're dead, you come to the field just hoping to get by. That's what it feels like around the clubhouse -- just a dead feeling. We've got so far behind it seems like we're going through the motions as a team. You've got to play it out. You've got to play all the games."

"I don't think that's the case. I totally disagree with that. I think this has been two of our better ballgames right here. We just haven't hit. One hit to the left or to the right and it's different ballgames. We win them."

"I don't like to talk about players-only meetings in the media, but it was good. You never like to have too many of those kinds of things. I just think that communication is really important, especially when you're dealing with 25 individuals and you're trying to come together as a team. Communication is essential...

...I think he's just concerned about making sure that guys keep playing hard, that we still have a month and a week left. It's just a situation where it looks pretty bleak in terms of our playoff chances, and in order to guard against complacency, sometimes you have to check yourself and say, 'All right, so what? Let's just keep playing hard and get after it.'

"This has been a tough season for us in a lot of ways. Since we were one game out a month ago, things have gone south in a hurry. We just haven't played as well as we would have liked, and I think there's a lot of disappointment and frustration, and you just want to make sure things are as they should be as we head into the final month of the season."

"When you're winning and you're in contention, you talk to any player in the history of the game and they always say, 'This year went by quick because we were in contention,' or if you're out of contention, 'Man, it drags by.' I think where you're at in the standings and how you're playing has a lot to do with the atmosphere of the club."

Thing is, from what I can tell by reading the Chronicle and, the atmosphere of the club has never been good this season. They might tell fans it was a joke, but remember when Carlos Lee showed up two days late to Spring Training? Berkman sniped at him - I know, they're really friends and all - but from the moment this team got to Kissimmee, it's been one thing after another.

Scary note on T.J. Burton

From McTaggart's new blog:

T.J. Burton, right-handed pitcher at Double A Corpus Christi, collapsed Wednesday in the clubhouse in Corpus Christi. He was taken to the hospital and admitted into the ICU with a possible viral infection. He is still undergoing tests and remains in the ICU.

Justice gives the Astros the $.44 for postage

(Because they're mailing it in).

Here's a list of the quitters
1. The team on Cooper
2. The team on each other

It's not just that the Astros are playing out the string when there's still so much string left. It's not just that they're near the bottom of the National League in pitching, hitting, baserunning, etc. It's not just that they're buried in the standings despite one of baseball's highest payrolls.

All those things tell you that the people in charge have screwed up the franchise. Some of the problems developed over a long period of time. Some of them were bad decisions last off-season. Regardless, the Astros are a mess, and until the people in charge admit there's a mess, they're unlikely to get better...

... The Astros were 1.5 games out of first place on July 24. They'd won 31 of 48, and some of us believed they might just be good enough to win a mediocre division. Their starting pitching had been terrific and they'd developed a knack for getting a key hit at the right time. In ways large and small, they appeared to be a good team.

Two things have happened since then. One is that the St. Louis Cardinals were transformed by the acquisition of three-time All-Star Matt Holliday. They're 22-8 since, and with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter at the front of the rotation, the Cardinals have emerged as the National League's best team. They've blown away the competition in the NL Central, opening up the largest division lead in baseball.

The other is that the Astros have gone in the tank. They've gone 11-19 and fallen to 12 games out of first. They're scoring just 3.9 runs per game in this stretch, and their ERA is 5.61. Miguel Tejada is hitting .227 since then, Hunter Pence .231, Kaz Matsui .206. Pudge Rodriguez had stopped hitting when he was shown the door. Brian Moehler (1-4, 6.00), Mike Hampton (1-3, 8.47) and Oswalt himself (1-1, 4.91) haven't pitched well...

...Now it's too late. Now we're playing out the string and all the professionalism that carried them through the bad managing and bad management is being tested.

Coop fights a lack of fire with fire

Coop apparently disagrees with Roy's conclusion that the Astros have no fire.

Let the pissing match commence. I think the only fire we'll see for the rest of the season is Coop going down in flames. How silly does it look to argue with a team leader about how much intensity there is on the team?

Lineup for G127 - Astros @ Cardinals

Captip, Alyson Footer:

Bourn CF
Keppinger 3B
Berkman 1B
Lee LF
Tejada SS
Erstad RF
Matsui 2B
Coste C
Moehler P

Team Meeting alert

According to McTaggart, Berkman called a team meeting this morning to remind them that they are still getting paid to play baseball, even if the baseball they're playing sucks (okay, I made up that last part). McTaggart also said Berkman understands where Roy is coming from (on the "no fire" part).

I imagine the team meeting being similar to the halftime speech by Jon Moxon against Gilroy:

"Let's go out there and play the next 36 games for the next 36 games. And we'll leave all out on the field. We have the rest of our lives to be mediocre, but we have the chance to play like gods for the last 36 games of this season. But we can't be afraid to lose. There's no room for fear in this game. And if we go out there and half-ass it because we're scared, then we're left with nothing but an excuse. We'll always wonder. But if we go out there and give it all we got, that's heroic. Let's be heroes."

And of course there would be no coaches in this meeting, either


Matt Holliday on 1380 Radio in St. Louis:

"Hopefully this will be a long term relationship. I love it here [in STL]."

Blum on his way back to Houston

McTaggart is reporting that Geoff Blum, scratched from last night's start with shoulder spasms, is headed back to Houston to be examined by team physician David Lintner.

Does this open up room for a September call-up for Chris Johnson?

A note on the guys Ed Wade let walk

Last December, the Astros declined arbitration offers to Ty Wigginton, Randy Wolf, and Mark Loretta. How have they done this season?

Wigginton: 91GP, 305 ABs, .259/.306/.387, 8HR/33RBI, 40K:19BB
Keppinger: 82GP, 235 ABs, .264/.337/.383, 3HR/21RBI, 25K:24BB

Loretta: 89GP, 153 ABs, .222/.306/.261, 0HR/22RBI, 18K:18BB
Michaels: 81GP, 114 ABs, .228/.285/.447, 4HR/15RBI, 32K:8BB

Wolf: 28GS, 9-6, 177IP, 3.25 ERA/1.11 WHIP, 133K:47BB
Hampton: 21GS, 7-10, 112IP, 5.30 ERA/1.55 WHIP, 74K:46BB

Could Brad Penny help the Astros

Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny - pardon me, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny has been released.

"I had some bad breaks and made some bad pitches. But I'm healthy, and that's what I'm happy about. This isn't last year, when I was hurt. If that had been the case, I'd be upset. All in all I had a great time here. My shoulder is healthy and I'm glad I came here. It was a blessing."

Could the Astros use him? Well, maybe. I would imagine there are three spots locked up in the rotation next year: Roy, Wandy, and The Troof (Bud Norris, for you newbies). There's a mutual option for Brian Moehler in 2010, and Yorman Bazardo figures to be in the mix, but if the Astros can sign Brad Penny (who signed a one-year $5 million deal). That leaves at least one spot available.

Penny, though, doesn't come without baggage. After leaving LA, Larry Bowa said:
"You mean the same guy who was never on time, out of shape and has one complete game? He has more stuff to worry about in the A.L. East than me. He has to worry about getting people out. He was never on time, was out of shape and never helped the kids out. Put that on the (expletive) dot-com. Put it in the headline. He never watched the game (when he was on the DL). Jason Schmidt watched the games. Nomar Garciaparra watched the games. Mark Sweeney watched the games. You go right down the line, everybody who was on the DL watched the games. But not him. He was out of there."

It's been since 2007 that the 31-year old Penny's ERA was under 5.50, and Houston isn't exactly known as a place for pitchers to reclaim their career, but if Easy Eddie is in the habit of taking fliers on veteran injured pitchers, Penny might work out. He's only pitched 226.1IP since 2007, and he says his shoulder feels fine. Buster Olney says the best place for him is Colorado, where he could take advantage of a chance to screw the Dodgers. What say you?

Eddie's Farm: August 26

Round Rock
Game suspended because of rain in the 4th, and will be resumed with a 5-1 Round Rock lead this evening.

Corpus Christi
Corpus had a 5-4 lead going into the 9th, Midland tied it up, and Corpus got it back in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off by Collin DeLome for a 6-5 win. Sutil, DeLome, and Locke had two hits each, and Jimmy Van Ostrand contributed a two-run bomb, while Jonathan Fixler hit a solo shot in the 3rd. Sergio Perpez threw 6.2IP, 6H/1ER (4 total). Evan Englebrook blew the save with the run in the top of the 9th, but got the win.

High Desert got two runs in the third, and that's all they needed in a 2-1 win over Lancaster. Koby Clemens had a double and a homer for two of the JetHawks' four hits. Shane Wolf threw a complete game, 8IP, 9H/2ER, 6K:0BB.

With the game tied 3-3 in the seventh, Lexington broke it open with six runs, and then held on for a 9-7 win over Hickory. Eric Suttle and Russell Dixon were both 3x4 (Dixon: 3 doubles, 3RBI). Robert Bono threw 5IP, 4H/2ER (3 total), 0K:3BB. Brian Wabick got the win despite allowing 4H/3ER in 2.2IP, and Kyle Godfrey got his second save for the Legends.

The ValleyCats rode a 4-run 4th inning to a 6-3 win over Hudson Valley. Jake Goebbert and Sean Barksdale were both 2x3, Goebbert scoring two runs. Dallas Keuchel threw 5IP, 7H/2ER (3 total), 3K:2BB while the bullpen of Kirk Clark, Mike Modica, and Nathan Pettus threw 4IP, 4H/0ER, 3K:1BB.

Jiovanni Mier hit a 2-run walkoff in the 10th to give Greeneville a 5-3 win over Kingsport. Greeneville had leads of 1-0 and 3-1, but Kingsport tied it at 3-3 with two runs in the top of the 9th, allowing Mier to do his 1st Round thing. Nathan Metroka was 3x4 with two hits. Oscar Figueroa scored three runs, and Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x4 with an RBI. Juri Perez threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 6K:0BB. Travis Smink had the blown save with 1IP, 4H/2ER, and Abraham Gonzalez picked up the win - his first with the Gastros, and his ERA is currently 0.71.

JJO needs you to remember his loyalty

Carrying on the metaphor of death and destruction around the 2009 Astros, JJO wants you to remember something - just in case you ever question him:

In 2005, history will show that I refused to declare the Astros dead in the story that ran alongside the infamous tombstone. In 2009, however, I'm going to call it. I wish I could say you heard it here first, but you've heard it all over the place for a while...

...Bring out the peanut butter and jelly for the Astros, 'cause these boys are toast.

They aren't just dead. They're road kill.

I looked for a pulse in the Astros' clubhouse Wednesday night, and I didn't find one.

What many of you have seen for a while became quite clear: the 2009 season is over for your Houston Astros. Cheering for the Astros now is like continuing to hope the girlfriend who just dumped you and treated you like manure is suddenly going to think you're Brad Pitt. It isn't going to happen.

Metaphor Call-off:
1. Death (check)
2. Breakfast (check)
3. Relationships (check).

Brian Bogusevic: Not Roy Hobbs, Not Rick Ankiel

Zachary Levine is spending some time in Round Rock, and he gets his mini-recorder out after Brian Bogusevic, former pitcher turned outfielder, now leading the Express in OBP.

Express manager Marc Bombard:
"I saw him in spring training for the first time. And it's kind of hard to believe that he converted to an outfielder halfway through (last season).”

Bogusevic, in one of the best quotes you'll read all year:
All of us are in (Triple-A) for a reason; there's stuff that everybody needs to work on. For me, it's everything.”

Ricky Bennett:
We put him right in the fire when we sent him to AAA this year. At times, he's streaky, but I think that's normal for a young hitter in terms of experience. It's a lot different than when you're hitting in college and you face guys once a year. You make an adjustment to them; they make an adjustment to you, and it's a little bit of a game back-and-forth.”

And on a call-up next week?
“Quite frankly, I don't think any of our young outfielders are ready to be challenged. Our outfield is pretty set. There's not really a need.”

There are good pitches, and there are bad pitches

And Bud Norris knows the difference. On his last outing:

"Everything's normal, same stuff. Obviously I made some good pitches, I made some bad pitches. You got to keep on making good pitches and give yourself an opportunity. Obviously I want to pitch better. I have a lot of starts this year, but I feel good. That's all that matters — to get back there. I'm anxious for the task. My arm feels great."

I think he's a young guy getting his feet wet really. He's been thrown to the wolves kind of. There's some things that he got away with in the minors he can't really get away with here. He just needs to fine tune his game, his breaking balls, get in the zone a little bit better and those kinds of things. This is all a growing process. And I think he got spoiled. I think we got a little spoiled.”
Pence isn't worried about hitting .215 this month:
I'm fine. Sometimes you get out a few days in a row. It's not going to stay. I don't go through long periods of that. It's unusual. I know I'll get my hits and be fine. Tell me a player that hasn't had a rough streak or a rough week. There's no panic at all.”

"Ups and downs of the game, a long season. A younger player is going to have probably a bigger period where they scuffle and things. Some of the stuff that he's going through he's got to experience it."
Quintero: Better than Pudge? Wandy says it:
Pudge and Quintero are both good catchers. I'm not afraid to throw any pitch to either or a pitch in the dirt at any time because I know I have a good defensive catcher. Quintero has helped me a lot. He knows how to call a game. I don't check him off much anymore. At first I'd check him off often, but now he knows how I like to pitch a game. Pudge has more time in the majors and has known the hitters longer, but that's the only difference. Quintero is good on defense, has a good arm and is quicker. He has a good chance to be a good catcher for a long time.”
And speaking of Wandy, he doesn't know when he's going to pitch next. He may start Sunday (a game Paulino is in the mix to start), depending on how ineffective the upcoming starters are:
They said I'm possibly going to pitch Sunday or possibly pitch on Monday. They say if they have to use a lot of guys in the bullpen a lot then I'll pitch on Sunday against Arizona. If not, then I'll go against the Cubs on Monday.”

It could be Wandy. I don't know. It just depends on what happens the next couple of days. It could be Paulino unless we use him in these next few days here, next two games. It could be Wandy because we don't know. It depends on how many guys we use the next couple of days.”

JJO gets macabre

I'm all for metaphors - obviously - but JJO took it to a new level:

For most of August, the stench of decay has been obvious to anybody around the Astros, and on Wednesday the St. Louis Cardinals’ Joel PiƱeiro was the latest pitcher to dance on their grave.

Recognizing what many fans and baseball folks have seen of late, Roy Oswalt finally identified the body at Busch Stadium.

Roy does exactly that:
“The team atmosphere is dead. There’s no fire. When you get on a streak, you come to the field expecting to win. When you’re dead, you come to the field just hoping to get by. That’s what it feels like around the clubhouse. It’s just a dead feeling. We got so far behind, it seems like we’re just kind of going through the motions as a team. We’ve got to play it out. We’ve got to play all the games...

...We have an owner that pays us money to come play. We’ve got to play. If you don’t give 100 percent, you’re cheating him and you’re cheating the fans of Houston. You’ve got to come out here and give everything you’ve got.”

JJO asked Roy if he means some guys are mailing it in:

"I’m just saying we’ve got to play. We’ve got to keep playing. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. Nobody else feels sorry for us. We’ve got to come in here and play and liven it up a little bit and play hard.”

Initially I thought, "who are these guys? I had more respect for them than this." And then I thought, "who can blame them?"

Coop was quick to put it on Roy:
"He wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. He had to battle. He really had to make pitches to get out of that first (inning). Heck, he had to do that in the fourth, the fifth and the sixth. He got the pitch count up, but he kept us in the game.”

No way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recap for G126 - Astros @ Cardinals

Okay, so the Astros have held the Cardinals scoreless for 14 of 16 innings (they haven't had to bat in the bottom of the 9th this series). Problem is, the innings where they do score is enough to win the game. Once again, all the runs scored by the Cardinals were in the 1st inning, and while the Astros got two back, it just wasn't enough (theme for this season?). Cardinals win, 3-2.

Let's do the thing:
Oswalt: 6IP, 10H/3ER, 3K:1BB, 23/30 first-pitch strikes, 27/70 non-contact strikes (20 called:7 swinging), 2HBP
Fulchino: 1IP, 1K:1BB, 0/4 FPS, 6/9 NCS (3c:3s)
Gervacio: 0.2IP, 2/2 FPS, 0/2 NCS
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1K:1BB, 1/2 FPS, 4/5 NCS (2c:2s)

Oswalt's first inning:
Schumaker: Single to RF
Rasmus: Single to RF
Pujols: K looking
Holliday: RBI single to CF
DeRosa: 2-run double to left
Ankiel: Groundout to second
Molina: Groundout to second

And that was all the scoring. Roy gave up 10 hits over six innings - but obviously only six hits over the remaining five innings.

The Astros scored two runs in the 4th on four consecutive singles by Bourn, Pence, Berkman, and Lee. Tejada GIDPed for the first two outs of the season, and with Berkman on third, Keppinger grounded out to the pitcher. The Astros threatened again in the 9th. With one out, Ryan Franklin - who needed nine pitches last night - allowed a double to Lee. Tejada grounded out to third, and with Maysonet (running for Lee) on third, Keppinger grounded out to end the game. Six pitches. That's 15 pitches for five outs over two games.

Pitch Count Hero: The Astros weren't a very patient bunch tonight, Cardinals pitchers needed only 96 pitches to get through 33 Astros ABs. But Chris Coste gets the PCH - 17 pitches for 3 PAs (0x3)

Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee - 7 pitches in 4 PAs (3x4, 1RBI)

Man of the Match: Carlos Lee. Had three of the Astros' eight hits, and an RBI.

Goat of the Game: Jeff Keppinger. 0x4 on the night, and left the tying run on third base twice.

Brad James shut down

McTaggart is reporting via Twitter that pitcher Brad James has been shut down (after not having pitched since August 16) for the season with a jacked up shoulder.

Crasnick: Coop's negatives outweigh his positives

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick addresses Coop's job security, noting that Ed Wade wouldn't evaluate Coop, saying there's no value to it right now. Crasnick goes on:

A National League scout who's spent a lot of time watching the Astros thinks Cooper's strategic missteps have outweighed his positives. It's tough to live down intentionally walking Nick Johnson to face Hanley Ramirez.

"It's like he manages inning to inning rather than three innings down the road," the scout said. "I think he'd be better off as a first-base coach and working with hitters. He's had some good moments, but a lot of questionable moments as far as how he addresses and reacts to situations."

Matchup for G126 - Astros @ Cardinals

It wouldn't be out of line to say that the hopes of the Astros season somewhat rest on tonight's game. If the Astros win tonight and tomorrow night, they'll pull within ten games of the Cardinals, and then there's a series with the Cubs next week....I know. Mathematically it's possible, but if the Astros don't fare well tonight and tomorrow, that's it. Tell Justice to get the tombstone ready again.

Roy Oswalt

At least we'll send Roy to the mound again, but if the Astros get blanked, what's the point? Nobody in the National League has more No Decisions than Roy, with 14. He's 7-4, but the Astros are 14-11 when he pitches, and the bullpen has blown five wins for him.

Last three starts:

8/11 @FLA59/63:28/1192/57
8/16 @MIL68/55:28/1294/65
8/21 vA'I73/02:015/9100/71

2009 road record: 4-2 (14 starts), 4.04 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 84.2IP, 62K:22BB
Career road record: 61-44 (143 games), 3.65 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 864.1IP, 6672K:222BB
Career vs. St. Louis: 9-7 (26 starts), 3.14 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 177.2IP, 132K:36BB
2009 vs. St. Louis: 0-1 (2 starts), 6.23 ERA/1.46 WHIP, 13IP, 8K:3BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .235/.295/.403, 54K:20BB
vs Lefties: .272/.314/.418, 62K:17BB

When swinging at the first pitch (80): .365/.365/.649, 12XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (332): .209/.244/.305, 83K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (224): .282/.372/.487, 33K:27BB

RISP: 24x112, .214/.328/.339, 28K:17BB
Runners on: 51x219, .233/.312/.397, 44K:23BB
2OwRISP: 9x52, .173/.317/.231, 18K:8BB

Joel Pineiro

Last three appearances:

8/9 @PIT79/36:016/699/71
8/15 vSD6.27/35:115/7106/70
8/20 @SD7.24/17:211/8109/68

13 of Pineiro's last 14 starts have been considered Quality.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .268/.294/.373, 44K:6BB
vs Lefties: .261/.287/.365, 35K:12BB

When swinging at the first pitch (86): .342/.341/.506, 10XBH (1HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (339): .255/.278/.350, 60K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (225): .250/.290/.346, 19K:10BB

RISP: 43x130, .331/.350/.508, 16K:3BB
Runners on: 71x236, .301/.321/.436, 28K:6BB
2OwRISP: 16x56, .286/.322/.464, 6K:2BB

Jose Altuve is the lone NYPL player to be named to App League All-Star

Appalachian League All-Star Team was named, and 2B Jose Altuve is the lone Gastro representative on the team, despite the fact that he now plays in Tri-City.

LaHawk to be pulled back?

Well, the waiver claims expired 18 minutes ago, and what will happen with LaHawk? Smiley Rosenthal weighs in:

The Astros, however, will be inclined to pull him back, sources say.

Hawkins, 36, has a 2.03 ERA in 48 2/3 innings and a .645 opponents' OPS. The Astros want to re-sign him, knowing they could lose closer Jose Valverde as a free agent, weakening their bullpen.

Hawkins, too, is a potential free agent. He has enjoyed his time in Houston and is open to returning, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking.

New poll!

Eddie's Farm: August 25

Eddie's Farm followed up an 0-6 day with a 2-4 one. Baby steps...

Round Rock
At least we know one team in this organization can win a 1-0 game, as Round Rock did against Memphis last night. J.R. Towles hit a sac fly in the third, scoring Jose Vallejo (who was 2x3, and is 5x15 with 3 doubles since the Pudge trade) for the lone run. Bogusevic had two more hits, and Brian Esposito provided the 5th and final hit of the contest. Josh Muecke threw 7IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB while Casey Daigle struck out the side and Chad Paronto got his 22nd save of the year.

The Hooks were taken down by Midland 11-6 last night. Drew Locke was 3x4, Jason Castro was 2x4 with 2RBI, and Jhon Florentino had the other multi-hit game. Felix Molina hit a 2-run shot in the 7th. Four Hooks errors led to five unearned runs, Kenny Baugh threw 5IP, 6H/4ER (6 total), 4K:6BB; T.J. Burton threw 2IP, 5H/2ER (5 total), 1K:3BB; Charlie Weatherby III (screw it, I'm never putting the "III" again) and Evan Englebrook threw 2IP, 1H/0ER in relief.

Wild one in High Desert last night, Lancaster took leads of 1-0 and 6-5, only to see it vanish time and again. The JetHawks tied the game at 11-11 with 2 runs in the top of the 9th before High Desert got it back in the bottom of the 9th with Jose Duran on the mound. High Desert's Joseph Dunigan got on with a 1-out double, and then advanced to third on a balk, who then scored on a sac fly. Ouch. It's the California League, so there's bound to be hitting. Ebert Rosario was 4x6, Jon Gaston was 3x6 with 3RBI, Koby Clemens was 2x5 with 4RBI (3-run jack), Ronald Ramirez was 2x5 with 2RBI, and Craig Corrado was 2x5. Chris Salamida went 4.2IP, 9H/10ER, 5K:1BB.

The Legends got two runs in the bottom of the 8th for a 3-2 win over Hickory - no word if Gene Hackman was managing. Federico Hernandez and Michael Diaz were 2x4 with an RBI each. Brad Dydalewicz threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 6K:3BB, but it was Henry Villar who got the win with 2IP, 1H/1ER. Matt Nevarez got his first save with Eddie's Farm after a scoreless ninth.

Tri-City managed just three hits in a 2-1 loss to Hudson Valley. Brian Kemp, who has been hitting all over the lineup was 2x4 in the 2-spot. The ValleyCats only had three starters last night hitting over .235 (Martinez - .303; Altuve - .289; Kemp - .278). Colton Pitkin took a hard-luck loss, going 5IP, 4H/1ER, 7K:2BB, lowering his ERA to 3.98 and his record to 3-8.

Elizabethton was all over Greeneville in a 10-4 win. Carlos Mojica was 3x3, Grant Hogue was 2x4, as were Nathan Metroka and Kyle Miller. Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x4 for a five-game hitting streak. Luis Cruz threw 4.1IP, 8H/5ER, 3K:5BB, while Jeiler Castillo and Scott Migl threw 4.2IP, 10H/3ER, 5K:3BB.

Minor League IPs

The Orioles are limiting the number of innings pitched for their young'uns. Should the Astros do the same with pitchers under 25 years of age?

(Note: The Crawfish Boxes posted a similar story regarding Bud Norris)

Within that CB link, Tom Verducci explains:
The unofficial industry standard is that no young pitcher should throw more than 30 more innings than he did the previous season. It's a general rule of thumb, and one I've been tracking for about a decade. When teams violate the incremental safeguard, it's amazing how often they pay for it.

Alright, so let's take us a gander at this: Which pitchers age 25 and younger have already exceeded 30IP over 2008 totals?

Bud Norris
2007: 102.2 IP
2008: 80 IP
2009: 147.2 IP

Felipe Paulino
2007: 131 IP
2008: 0.2 IP
2009: 98 IP
It's worth noting that Paulino's IP jumped from 55 in 2005 to 126.1 in 2006. He threw 131 in 2007, and missed just about all of 2008. That's why he's listed - as a precautionary tale.

Danny Meszaros
2008: 26.1 IP
2009: 65.1 IP

David Duncan
2008: 55.1 IP
2009: 115 IP

Shane Wolf
2008: 58 IP
2009: 100.1 IP

As we get into Lexington, it's a little tricky, as many of the players were in short-season ball in 2008. Nevertheless:

Robert Bono
2007: 34.1 IP
2008: 75 IP
2009: 124.1 IP

Kyle Godfrey
2008: 30 IP
2009: 72.2 IP

Jordan Lyles
2008: 55.1 IP
2009: 133.2 IP

Again, this should be taken for what it's worth - pitchers advancing their careers (and some making an adjustment from short-season to a moderately full-out season). But it's still interesting.

Astros 2010 Club Options

Taking a quick look at the players who signed a contract with a 2010 club option:

Doug Brocail:
2010 salary - $2.85 million
$250,000 buyout.
Verdict: Bye, Doug.

Brian Moehler:
2010 salary - undetermined, but makes $2.3 million in 2009
Mutual option
Verdict: Hard to say, but I'm guessing he's back next year.

Hampton to begin PRP

As in "plasma replacement therapy." For an explanation of PRP, click here.

Apparently, if he doesn't feel marked improvement by the end of this road trip, he'll go with surgery.

"I'm doing everything I can to get back. Any option that I have, any therapy, treatment or anything I have I'm trying. I'll probably know here before the road trip is over I think I'll probably have a good indication if I'm going to pitch this year or not...

..."(Astros team physician Dr. David Linter) said some of the Texans players have been doing it with ankle sprains and hamstring pulls and stuff like that. Brocail's tried it. I talked to Erstad. He had done it. He had tried it in the past. The big thing is it's not going to hurt. If it has a chance to speed up the recovery process, why not do it? I've been stuck so many times it kind of becomes second nature. It's just a little pain for now. Hopefully it pays off in the end...

..."Nothing is going to help by putting (surgery) off a month or two. I think the sooner I have it the sooner I have a chance to pick up a ball and see if I can do this."

So perhaps we've seen the last of Mike Hampton in an Astros uniform.
Paulino, on being named a reliever:
"I'm healthy. The opportunities that they give me I need to take advantage. I just want to have a genuine opportunity and I want to focus on any job that they give me and take advantage of it. You know how good it feels when they say you're going to relieve, because I feel more comfortable when I know what fixed role I have. Sometimes my mind wanders when I don't know what my role is. It's hard to say it, but it's true sometimes it's harder to focus when I don't have a set role."

So just to keep him off balance, because of the way the rotation lines up, with Wandy and Roy pitching against the Cardinals this week, and Coop giving Wandy/Roy extra-rest to pitch against the Cubs next week in a last-gasp effort to save this season (which at this point, if the Astros finish above the Cubs I'll be mildly satisfied), Felipe Paulino may get a start on Sunday. Because we don't want him to be focused, or feel comfortable.
And finally, Coop has no idea how Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan does it:
"They brought guys in that they saw some potential in. The guy (Duncan) over there seems to get them fixed. A new guy comes here, and he seems to fix them. They had (Todd) Wellemeyer last year pitch good for them. (Kyle) Lohse has had a couple good years after really bouncing around for a little. I have to say that the guy who's working with them or fixing them is a pretty good mechanic. I haven't the faintest idea (what Duncan does), but whatever it is, it seems to be working. They keep getting guys, reclamation projects and making it work. There's been some guys that it's worked pretty consistently. He's gotten (Chris) Carpenter squared away. He's gotten (current Brewer Braden) Looper to be a stinking starting pitcher and the guy's a bullpen guy. There's something to that. There's something to it. You got to give the guy some credit. I don't know what the philosophy is, but whatever it is it's working."

Good to know.

Wandy would rather give up 10ER than 1ER

Wandy ain't happy. Nor should he be:

“This one hurt worse than when they pounded me with some wood in Milwaukee. Remember when the Brewers scored 10 runs off me? Well, this one felt worse than that. To lose games like this hurts. You try to do your job well, but the other pitcher was excellent. He’s had a great year.”

Carlos Lee:
“Wandy pitched a great game. You can’t even say they hit the ball hard. The only hard ball hit was Ryan, and Pujols hit the ball right down the line, a two-hopper. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m happy to see Wandy keep pitching good. And if he keeps going, he’s going to keep us in the game and be a great pitcher...

...Sometimes you’re going to be dominated, and we got dominated today.”

Except the Astros have been dominated more than sometimes this season.

Recap for G125 - Astros at Cardinals

11 games back. Thanks to a pathetic offense and an effective Adam Wainwright, Magic Wandy took the loss despite allowing just three hits in a 1-0 loss at St. Louis. So that's 11 back with 37 to play. Anyone want to call this season?

Last night's game was the first time since August 16, 2006 the Astros have lost a 1-0 game. It is, however, the 9th time the Astros have been shutout this season. Let's just do the thing:

Wandy: 7IP, 3H/1ER, 6K:1BB, 15/25 first-pitch strikes, 30/64 non-contact strikes (24 called:6 swinging)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 4/11 NCS (1c:3s)

The pitching wasn't the problem. Wandy gave up an RBI double to Pujols in the first, and that was pretty much it. No other offense to speak of. After Pujols' double, Wandy retired 20 of the next 22 batters. Problem was, after a Michael Bourn leadoff double in the 1st, Adam Wainwright got the next 17 batters, which Bourn broke up with another single. This was just a miserable performance by the Astros' batters, going 0x5 with RISP (0x3 in the first inning alone).

Pitch Count Hero: Blum - 20 pitches in 3 PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Pence - 12 pitches in 4 PAs

Man of the Match: It could go to Bourn for providing two-thirds of the offense, but this one is going to Wandy. Remember Road Wandy last year? 4-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP (1.35 and 0.25 higher than his road stats, respectively). Road Wandy this year? 5-6 record - thanks, offense - but a 3.95 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, lower in both.

Goat of the Game: Hunter Pence. 0x4 - 1K and three groundouts, and 0x2 with Michael Bourn on base.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seven minor leaguers to play in Arizona Fall League

Captip to Crawfish Boxes, the seven new members of the Peoria Saguaros:

Evan Englebrook
Wilton Lopez
Danny Meszaros
Jason Castro
German Duran
Jon Gaston

Matchup for G125 - Astros @ Cardinals

Three-game set at Beck's Stadium as the season is starting to wind down, with 38 games left to play. The Astros are an oft-mentioned 10 games back of the Cardinals. St. Louis is eight games up on the Cubs for first place.

The Cards are 23-12 since the All-Star Break, and since getting swept by a team that we used to recognize as the Astros are 21-8, and haven't been more than one game back of the NL Central lead since June 30.

Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy followed up the disastrous Milwaukee start with an excellent outing against Florida. We'll see what we get tonight.

Last three starts:

8/9 vMIL75/03:210/13116/72
8/14 @MIL410/104:59/9105/64
8/20 vFLA84/07:210/10103/70

His last time out was just the third time this season that Wandy hasn't allowed an extra-base hit. In those games, he's predictably 3-0.

2009 road record: 5-5 (13 starts), 4.21 ERA/1.53 WHIP, 72.2IP, 70K:32BB
Career road record: 20-27 (67 games, 60 starts), 5.31 ERA/1.52 WHIP, 335.2IP, 282K:134BB
Career vs. St. Louis: 3-7 (13 games), 3.73 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 70IP, 48K:16BB
Career @ Beck's: 1-2 (4 starts), 3.18 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 22.2IP, 11K:7BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .257/.325/.420, 111K:44BB
vs Lefties: .195/.252/.280, 31K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (60): .3333/.3333/.550, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (336): .199/.234/.278, 101K:13BB
After First-Pitch Balls (246): .287/.408/.520, 41K:40BB

RISP: 29x127, .228/.308/.346, 30K:14BB
Runners on: 56x220, .255/.337/.359, 44K:25BB
2OwRISP: 16x65, .246/.355/.400, 16K:9BB

Adam Wainwright

Ahhh hell.

Last three appearances:

8/8 @PIT6.27/16:012/9112/83
8/14 vSD78/03:014/10103/68
8/19 @LA74/23:112/999/60

Wainwright has pitched against Houston twice this season:
Apr 6 v HOU: 5IP, 4H/0ER, 4K:3BB, 1W (11-2 StL win)
Aug 2 v HOU: 7IP, 8H/2ER, 5K:0BB, 1L (2-0 HOU win)

Nevertheless, it's been since June 21 (11 starts) that Wainwright hasn't thrown a quality start.

2009 home record: 5-6 (14 starts), 2.02 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 98IP, 87K:30BB
Career home record: 20-16 (74 games, 42 starts), 2.81 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 323IP, 246K:89BB
Career vs. Houston: 6-1 (14 games), 2.17 ERA/1.08 WHIP, 62.1IP, 49K:17BB

Against teams he faced 10+ times, Wainwright's lowest ERA is, of course, against Houston.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .226/.268/.300, 81K:22BB
vs Lefties: .276/.346/.429, 71K:32BB

When swinging at the first pitch (83): .397/.392/.564, 9XBH (2HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (387): .182/.215/.241, 114K:15BB
After First-Pitch Balls (278): .303/.402/.470, 38K:39BB

RISP: 34x153, .222/.305/.288, 45K:19BB
Runners on: 65x290, .224/.293/.293, 74K:29BB
2OwRISP: 16x79, .203/.284/.266, 23K:9BB

Kent played in Houston without passion, heart

That's an incendiary, out-of-context take on Jeff Kent's comments as he gets elected to the Giants' Hall of Fame. But still...

Should he be elected to the Hall of Fame, Kent would want to go in as a Giant:
"All my accomplishments, my passion and my heart were left in San Francisco."

Plate appearances by prospect

There comes a time when a player either has it, or he doesn't. Sometimes it looks like a player doesn't have it, and they ultimately do. Sometimes a player has it, and then loses it. Obviously there is a lot of leeway in organizational need, quality of instruction at lower levels, etc. Let's just take a gander at some prominent MLB youngsters, and their minor-league plate appearances ("A" accomodates short-season, low-A, and high-A)

Evan Longoria, TB: 881 mL (minor league) PAs
A: 167
AA: 556
AAA: 158

Prince Fielder, MIL: 1929 mL PAs
Rook: 192
A: 719
AA: 577
AAA: 441

Ryan Howard, PHI: 2151 ml PAs
A: 1004
AA: 433
AAA: 384

Just for comparison's sake, Lance Berkman, HOU: 1241 mL PAs
A: 223
AA: 517
AAA: 501

Alright. With that small look at the way teams have recently handled the young'uns, let's peek at some guys in the Astros' system.

Drew Locke: 2086 mL PAs
Rook: 192
A: 1360
AA: 534

Koby Clemens: 1920 mL PAs
Rook: 133
A: 1766
AA: 21

Collin DeLome: 1253 mL PAs
A: 792
AA: 461

Jason Castro: 644 mL PAs
A: 345
AA: 239

Houston Press: Tear It All Down

The Houston Press is back with some advice for Drayton McLane:

I wouldn't waste any money on Oakland pitcher Justin Duchscherer. He hasn't pitched this season because of injuries. He missed most of last season because of an injuries. He's currently undergoing treatment for depression. He's over 30. If you think about it, this guy could be just like Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz, but he would get more money. And the key to the Astros getting better for next season is not wasting more money on aging, injury-prone veterans.

But there's something else I would do differently than Justice, and from what my friend wants. And it's this: I wouldn't spend much money on signing free agents. That's because signing expensive free agents is the opposite of the approach I would make with the team. This team needs to get younger. It needs to get more talent. It needs to position itself to be able to make a run for the title for years, not for a season. In short, I'm revisiting the Astros of 1990.

So turning back the clock to 1989 means:
1. Trade Berkman, Matsui, and Oswalt
2. Let Tejada and Valverde walk
3. Get rid of Ed Wade, hire Gerry Hunsicker back from Tampa Bay
4. Get rid of Cecil Cooper, hire Buck Showalter from ESPN

The hardest part will be dealing with Drayton and the fans. Because this team will be bad for several years. But if the money is invested in the farm system and the front office, and if youngsters like Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn are signed to long-term contracts that buy out their arbitration years, then a team following this blueprint can become a contender in a matter of years.

If smart people are in charge, this is a winning formula for the future.

What do you think?

The Cardinals are bored with us

So St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Gordon says:

There is not much intrigue surrounding the Cardinals these days. They are racing back to postseason play.

They know it and their National League rivals know it. They are destined to win the Central Division with this reloaded roster...

...From here to October, the Cards just have to go about their business and grind out some victories.

/quiet sobbing.

Cabell to direct "Koby: Doin' Work"

Enos Cabell apparently couldn't shut up about Koby Clemens over the weekend.

Let's turn to JJO, who has breakfast with Enos Cabell, apparently, enhancing the quality of his Manifest Destiny of knowledge:
Over breakfast Sunday morning, Enos Cabell was gushing about Clemens, saying the young catcher might be the most clutch run producer in the whole organization.

I looked to see if Cabell was joking, but he wasn't. He is seriously impressed with Clemens.

"You need to pay attention to this kid," Cabell said. "He's had a great year and he's not getting enough recognition about it."

Ricky Bennett, what say you?
"He's right," said Astros assistant general manager Ricky Bennett, who also thinks Clemens has made dramatic strides this season behind the plate.

And JJO's after-school special portion:
Clemens has been a respectful young man, remaining classy during difficult times. More importantly, he's shown that he has a genuine fighting spirit and desire to be a major leaguer some day.

At Lancaster this season, Koby is hitting .346/.420/.622 with 62 of his 130 hits coming for extra-bases, and a league-leading 110 RBI.

Eddie's Farm: August 24

This is a first - at least in a very long time - but Eddie's Farm was 0-6 last night. /sadness.

Round Rock
Memphis took it to Round Rock with a 12-7 win, and what sunk the Express was the four consecutive homers given up by new Round Rocker Armando Benitez in the 8th inning, all with two outs, to Glaus, Craig, Hamilton, and Descalso. Reggie Abercrombie hit a grand slam in the 4th for a 3x5, 4RBI day. Chris Johnson was 2x5 with three runs scored. Aside from Benitez, Erick Abreu threw 5IP, 7H/4ER, 3K:4BB; Brocail took the loss with 1IP, 3H/3ER (4 total), 0K:2BB. Roy Corcoran threw a scoreless inning between Brocail and Benitez (the Filler Bs), and Geary closed it out in the 9th with 1IP, 2H/0ER.

Springfield scored two runs in the bottom of the 11th on a two-run walkoff homer off Charlie Weatherby III - look, are his dad/grandpa still playing? Can we drop the "III?" - for a 5-3 win over Corpus. Drew Locke accounted for all the runs with a three-run homer - his 20th - and Jason Castro was also 2x5, and is now hitting .301 for the Hooks. Hooks pitchers allowed nine hits and ten walks. Doug Arguello threw 3IP, 2H/2ER, 1K:5BB in the start, C-Lo threw 2IP, 1H/0ER, Ryan McKeller threw 3IP, 2H/1ER 4K:0BB, Danny Meszaros threw 2IP, 2H/0ER, and then Weatherby gave up two quick hits for the loss.

High Desert scored five runs in the bottom of the 8th for a 10-6 win over Lancater. Jack Shuck was 3x5, Koby Clemens was 2x4, and Marcos Cabral was 2x3. Cabral and Rosario contributed homers to the cause. Jon Gaston has cooled off considerably - after hitting .365 in May, and 11 homers in July, Gaston has one homer in August to go with a .187 average. His OPS, which this season has never been below .886, is .604 in August. Tom Fairchild allowed 10H/5ER (7K:1BB) in 6.1IP, Urckfitz took the loss with 1.1IP, 1H/2ER, and Jack Tilghman gave up 3H/1ER (3 total) in 0.1IP.

The Legends were shutout again, this time 5-0 to Greensboro. Albert Cartwright was 2x4, with Wikoff, Diaz, Hulett, and Dixon contributing the other four hits. The Legends left 13 on base and were 0x8 with RISP. Jordan Lyles threw 5IP, 7H/4R (2ER).

You're not going to win many games giving up seven runs in an inning. That's an old baseball adage. And it rang true in a 12-6 Hudson Valley win over the ValleyCats. Sean Barksdale hit a 2-run pinch-hit jack, Erik Castro was 2x5, and Butera, De Leon and J.D. Martinez each contributed extra-base hits, but Tri-City was 3x15 with RISP. Zach Grimmett threw 3.1IP, 3H/2ER. Dan Sarisky, Max Fearnow, and Brenden Stines combined for 4.2IP of relief, allowing 11H/9ER, 5K:2BB, and 3WP.

Hold a lead one time. The Gastros were up 5-0 going into the 7th, and 5-3 going into the 9th. Elizabethton scored two in the top of the 9th, and seven in the top of the 15th for a 12-5 extra-innings win. Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x3 with 2RBI and 2BB. Wilton Infante was 2x7 with 4K. Jonathan Meyer was 1x4 with 4 walks. Jose Cisnero got it right in his start, throwing 6IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:0BB. Murillo Gouvea gave up 4H/5ER in 2IP for the blown save, and Joan Belliard gave up 6H/6ER (7 total) in 0.1IP in the 15th, with 0K:2BB.