Saturday, February 14, 2009

Roy's getting chatty - and I like it.

Article in USA Today on Roy's thoughts of what to do with the other names in the 2003 "anonymous" test:

I think the big thing for us is if we get the other names out there instead of releasing one here and there. I mean it's been ... years. Get it over with. Don't let it linger and go on for three more years. Let's get them all out there, move on and start playing baseball. That's the worst thing about it ... the way they're going about it."

At the bottom of the article, we also read Tommy Manzella signed a one-year $400,000 contract for 2009.

Mariners sign first round pick Josh Fields. Which impacts the Astros.

The Mariners signed first round pick Josh Fields yesterday. So what? Well, that means the Astros now have the 21st pick, instead of the 22nd pick in the 2009 amateur draft.

Sampson's behind schedule, Roy is ahead

JJO's blog entry today tells us Roy Oswalt is ahead of schedule, throwing a bullpen session today after throwing 60 pitches against his alma mater Holmes Junior College.

JJO says Roy will throw two bullpens and two batting practices before joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

Ed Wade defends varying degrees of inactivity

In an interview with Alyson Footer, Ed Wade had many things to say - many of them regarding the same thing: why the Astros haven't done a whole lot, and why they will continue to do exactly that.

They talked to a lot of guys (Wolf, Braden Looper), but probably just to look like the Astros talked to a bunch of guys. Oh, and Pudge?

"We haven't had a conversation involving Pudge in several weeks and have never made a formal proposal."

It's interesting that apparently a conversation took place several weeks ago, and this week is the first time it's been kicked around in the press.

Regardless: Hooray! Then regard this:

The Astros' payroll is expected to be $107 million on Opening Day, so had Wade been successful with either Looper or Wade, someone else would've had to go, likely via a trade. With Looper and Wolf off the table, it's unlikely the Astros will pursue any of the free agents still available.

Your Houston Astros, the hardest working team in show business

Some great comments on the intangibles from under-utilized outfielder Darin Erstad from his hometown paper:

“I really had a great time in Houston and with my teammates. We have a bunch of guys who approach the game the right way. It’s a scrappy group. They work very hard before the game and during the game. It’s probably the hardest-working team I’ve ever played on. I’m excited to get back and get started.”

On going from a two-time All-Star, everyday player to a utility role?
“It’s different and hard at first. But I can’t really be upset. I put myself in that situation with my injuries. For most players, the window for being an every-day player usually closes at some point. But I still love the game and love to step on the field.”

On the transition from the American League to the National League?
“With interleague play and guys moving from team to team, there just aren’t many teams or pitchers you don’t see from year to year. Historically, the NL has been more of a fastball league and the AL more off-speed stuff, but there’s really no big difference between the two."

Good article there, Dave Selvig.

Sampson to be a little behind

JJO's article in the Chronicle today mentions that Chris Sampson isn't completely 100% coming into Spring Training:

“On flat ground and mechanical stuff, I’ll be able to do everything,” said Sampson, who says athletic trainer Nathan Lucero told him it likely will be at least 10 days before he can throw bullpen sessions.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gil de la Vara's status

So the bottom line on the MLB Network says that de la Vara and Bogusevic's signings were minor-league deals. I'm working on finding out what that means for his Rule 5 status.

Gil? Are you out there? I know we get a lot of hits on Google searches for your name. Give me a shout:

Jose Valverde asks not what his country can do for him, but what he is willing to skip out on his country to do

JJO's article in the Chronicle today filled me with cheer and warmth as I read that Valverde and Paulino threw bullpen sessions while Moehler, Brocail, LaHawk, Backe, Geary, Sampson, Nieve, Quintero and Palmisano worked out. No word on whether or not Quintero and Palmisano crouched menacingly at each other in preparation for a battle in which the player who does not win the starting catching position will have to die.

And Jose Valverde told Cecil Cooper he will not be pitching in the World Baseball Classic.

"(Valverde) is the stabilizer. He is the anchor. That’s great that he wants to be here and be a part of this and not be concerned with going to pitch over there. He’s committed to us and our season, and that’s great. Not that it’s not important to pitch for the WBC, but that shows his commitment here."
-Cecil Cooper.

Two more signings

Dallas Morning News is reporting the Astros have signed Brian Bogusevic and Gil de la Vara to one-year deals worth $400,000.

This brings the 2009 payroll to just over $101 million. Remember de la Vara was a Rule 5 pick back in December, so he has to stay on the 25-man roster all season long, or go back to Kansas City - a fate worse than death.

Jayson Stark almost overlooks Astros in Spring Training Preview

Oh, you weren't surprised? Neither was I. The Astros only got two shout-outs from Mr. Research: one for having Danny Graves on the roster (in an oh-so-clever heading "Most unlikely names on spring training rosters"), and the other for this statement...

You can argue that six NL clubs (the Cardinals, Pirates, Astros, Reds, Padres and Marlins) didn't add a single impact player.

Well thank God four of those teams are in our division. And at least Stark's three most unimproved teams were the Pirates, Cardinals and Brewers.

Most improved teams in the NL? Mets, Braves, Giants.

Astros County on Spring Training 09

Check it. Astros County was asked to participate in covering the Astros for Spring Training 09. There you'll find a breakdown of Spring Training news and coverage by bloggers for all 30 Major League teams. Nothing earth-shattering, though I did throw a few witty remarks (natch) in there. I'll make you click the link and support them to read it.

Welcome, Citizen George

That's what I'm talking about. Got more? Send them to

Astros County now on Facebook

Join "Fans of Astros County" on Facebook today!

Man, this Pudge-to-Houston thing is getting a little traction

I would still be very surprised if this happens, but Tony Paul of the Detroit Free-Press is saying:

What about Pudge?
Another possible landing spot for ex-Tiger Pudge Rodriguez is Houston, where it's a four-man race (with no clear favorite) for the starting catching job.

Here's the kicker that makes Rodriguez, at age 37, a seemingly good fit: The club probably only needs a one-year stop-gap until Jason Castro, 21 -- the 10th overall pick in last summer's draft -- is ready for the majors.

But like the Marlins, the other team Rodriguez has been linked to, the Astros, have little cash with which to play with, making it almost inevitable the future Hall of Famer is in for a pay cut of at least $11 million if he's to avoid early retirement.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So rank it. What was worse?

Faithful Citizen Spruce e-mailed this link:

Joe Morgan to Cincinnati for Lee Helms and John Mayberry. It's never good when a trade recap begins as such: Not only was this the worst trade in Astro history, but it was completely unnecessary.

That's bad. Cincinnati went on to dominate, win two World Series, while Joe Morgan was a back-to-back MVP. What was worse? Obviously, without the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to say. But if it's not made, we don't have to hear Joe Morgan talk about Cincinnati every Sunday night during the season.If the Tejada trade still feels as terrible in 2013 as it does now, it might just pull it off.

Three more signings

KHOU is reporting the Astros have reached agreements with Chris Sampson, Drew Sutton and J.R. Towles for 2009.

Chris Sampson - $449,000
J.R. Towles - $401,500
Drew Sutton - $400,000

2009 payroll: $100,210,500

I'm not much with the Spanish

Or the English, apparently. However, this article apparently mentions the Astros offering $2.5 million to Pudge Rodriguez. Alyson Footer, Tim Dierkes and I all agree that the Astros are fine trying to settle two catcher spots among four catchers. And $2.5 million is about $2 million too expensive for a catcher, even if it's Pudge.

Richard Justice says not-nice words about Astros management

Good column today from Richard Justice, indicating the Astros deserve some blame, too (which is, of course, obvious). Regard:

This trade goes beyond what Wade gave up and what he acquired. It’s the timing of the deal and the attitude of the people who made it that’s even more troubling. This is the kind of deal that says baseball people haven’t yet figured out they should be embarrassed that so many players have been exposed as cheats.

I've thought for a long time - and we have discussed it here - how the timing of the Tejada trade is troubling. Trading for Tejada the day before the Mitchell Report came out, remember we all knew when the Mitchell Report was coming out, means one of two things:

1) Easy Eddie wanted to get the trade done before the Mitchell Report came out.
2) The Orioles wanted to get rid of Tejada before the Mitchell Report came out, and were looking for somebody to fleece. Voila, Easy Eddie.

I guess there is a third option, that the timing was pure coincidence, but those first two are troubling, because it either means that Ed Wade got taken to the woodshed, or...(I'll let Justice take it from here):

They made the trade even though they knew he might be in the report. They didn’t care, and in that way, they’re as culpable as the players. They wanted a shortstop who could help them win, and they didn’t want to know how the soup was made.

This is the trade that defines Ed Wade. If Tejada puts everything behind him, uses it as ammuniton, and hits .300 with 30 HR and leads the Astros to the playoffs, we'll all slap hands and be happy and hug each other. But especially if Luke Scott proves what he was showing intonations of doing, and Troy Patton and Matt Albers continue, this will be the deal in Astros history to off-set the Larry Andersen/Jeff Bagwell trade.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do you think Ed Wade made Adam Dunn face a harsh reality?

Adam Dunn has had an offer on the table from the Nationals since at least January 29. So do you think it's a coincidence that, two days after Easy Eddie said the Astros had no interest in pursuing Adam Dunn, he and the Nationals agreed on a two-year, $20 million deal?

I don't. Anyway, there's no way the Astros approve $10 million (provided it's a split deal) for 2009. I bet Dunn was holding out to see what the Astros would do, and when he found out they were out, signed the deal with the Nationals. Thoughts?

Tejada's Press Conference

Here's the link to the video.

What did you think? Look, I don't like the term "coming clean" after it's been out that you did whatever you did - that's not coming clean, that's just owning up. So Tejada and A-Rod owned up. But what I saw from Tejada is genuine regret in his few public comments. Not the close-up, off-color (literally) shots of A-Rod's ridiculously landscaped face, but actual regret. And whether or not you think Miggs is guilty or not guilty, it was good to see.

Do I think that, had Adam Piatt and Rafael Palmeiro not sung like birds, Tejada would be holding this press conference? Not on his own initiative. Like A-Rod, I don't think the guilt was eating him up for six years. But it was good to see.

Baseball Prospectus speaks - though I think we've had enough bad news for one day

Richard Justice's column tipped me off to this, but the folks at Baseball Prospectus made their 2009 projections today. And it's not good.

5th place. 66-96. Two games ahead of Pittsburgh for last.
Last in the NL Central in OBP and SLG.
Last in the entire league, and tied with the Mariners for last place in MLB in OBP.
Next to last in the NL in SLG.
Last in the NL Central in runs scored.

Update: But Zachary Levine tells you not to panic.

Tejada's press conference moved to 5pm EST

Note. Don't show up at 3pm. It's at 5pm. Offer of picture of Tejada with an Astros County POC stands.

Update: Make that 6pm EST.

Miggs has to make a few stops before he goes to Florida

As expected, Miggs pleaded guilty.

Instead of making comments on the courtroom steps, John Grisham style, Tejada will hold a press conference in Houston later today. Anyone going? If you get a picture of Tejada holding an Astros County Proof of Citizenship, I'll give you $100.

Bizarrely, when asked for identification, Tejada provided a California driver's license. No word on the birth date.

The United States Government versus Major League Baseball

Citizen Ty linked to an ESPN article this morning talking about the millions of dollars and years of time spent trying to bring down Barry Bonds.

Do I want Congress to be Bud Selig's boss? No, but I think that baseball put itself in the situation where Congress is breathing down their neck. I don't want to speculate on the psychology of the government going after suspected PED users (because I'm not sure that someone from the government monitors what people write on blogs, among other reasons). There are other, more pressing issues facing the country today.

But I do think Congress/G-Men would never have been involved had MLB taken the lead on cleaning up its own sport.

Tom Davis must remember when Clemens left Game 1 of the 2005 WS with a groin pull in the 2nd inning

Former Rep. Tom Davis (who asked the Justice Department to investigate Clemens):

"I think you (meaning Clemens) need to cut your losses. Frankly, I think we'll see charges in the Clemens case and they will come around pretty quickly. Lying under oath is serious. It's not like A-Rod lying to Katie Couric in an interview. When you're under oath, you have to tell the truth."

"I don't think it bodes well for Roger," said Earl Ward, the defense attorney for McNamee, who told federal investigators that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone multiple times from 1998 through 2001 and possibly 2002. "How can they go after Barry Bonds and Miguel Tejada and not indict Roger Clemens?"

Some insight into Miggs' legal situation

The Baltimore Sun addressed Miggs' legal issues in an article this morning. A couple of things to note:

Tejada could face up to a $1,000 fine and one year in federal prison, according to the United States Code, though federal sentencing guidelines suggest a term of probation to six months served.

"It's a definitive signal that he's pleading guilty and likely cooperating," said former Baltimore federal prosecutor Andrew C. White, who is not involved in the case but was making suppositions based on information provided to him. In such a case, White said, Tejada could have been charged with the felony of lying to Congress, so the lesser misdemeanor suggests the agreement includes an obligation to "cooperate against other persons."

A conviction, however, could jeopardize Tejada's right to work in the country, White said. Misdemeanor offenses routinely lead to deportation for non-U.S. citizens, and Tejada has only Dominican Republic citizenship. Anyone living in this country who is not a citizen "and has been convicted of a particular crime in the United States, that person could be and may be subject to removal proceedings," said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To recap:
(1) Miggs will probably receive six months' probation.
(2) The relatively light handling of this case by prosecutors indicates Tejada could be willing to cooperate in other cases.
(3) Tejada's motivation for cooperating is clear: a felony conviction for non-U.S. citizens means Miggs enjoys la Vida Dominicana permanently.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Talking Tejada

You know what I think. What does someone else think?

Tejada will be at spring training and will be trying to be a good influence in the clubhouse and on the field, but there's nothing he can do to repair his image. Too bad for the Astros and their fans they have to put up with him for another year.

Ever since the Mitchell Report broke, I've known that McLane has encouraged players who were mentioned to be honest and come clean if they did it. Miguel Tejada appears to be taking a step in that direction, and it has to please McLane.

The moment I get to Kissimmee, I'm going to walk right over and give Miguel Tejada a big hug. I'm going to embrace him and whisper, ''I've got your back, buddy. It's going to be OK.'' Miguel Tejada has been pretty much everything the Astros hoped he would be. He has been productive on the field and a ray of sunshine in the clubhouse. Tejada is one of those guys that understands it's an honor to put on a big league uniform.

Only the guys that have been proven guilty, their numbers shouldn't count. ... I love Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens just like brothers. I've played with them for three years. They're great teammates and I would love to have them on my team this year, but the way I feel I feel like they cheated me out of the game just because of the way they enhanced themselves but I've done it by working out."

"Their numbers shouldn't count. They should have their own record book, and it shouldn't count. All the guys before us they're cheating them. These guys from the past are in the Hall of Fame, and these guys (who are on steroids) are breaking their records. It shouldn't count. It's not fair."

Jerome Solomon:
On a side note: Miguel, it would be best if you show up at Minute Maid Park today for your scheduled news conference, and apologize for everything from buying performance-enhancing drugs to the unfairness and impurity of the designated hitter to the recent economic slide. We love contrition in America.) The feds are kicking in doors all over the country looking to charge athletes with lying about steroid use. At what expense? To what gain?

Cecil Cooper:
“I can’t worry about the legal process. That’s between Miguel and the legal process. I will have my shortstop for the season, and that’s been my hope all along.”

David Steele (Baltimore Sun):
This latest entanglement for Miguel Tejada doesn't teach us anything new about baseball and performance-enhancing drugs. All it does is reinforce what we already knew, and the events of the past few days tell us that a lot of people needed reinforcing, or else they stay deluded about how bad this is. What Tejada's federal court appearance today - for allegedly lying to congressional investigators about his knowledge of teammates' use of performance-enhancing drugs - reteaches us is that everybody might not be guilty, but hardly anybody is innocent.

Astros sign four to one-year deals

The Astros signed Michael Bourn, Sam Gervacio, Polin Trinidad and Wesley Wright to one-year contracts today.

Bourn - $434,500
Wright - $425,000
Gervacio - $400,000
Trinidad - $400,000

This brings the Astros' committed 2009 payroll to almost $99 million.

And maybe Tom Manzella moves one spot up on the depth chart

Updated update: Deadspin has the six-page document detailing the case.

Update - 1:52pm: Miggs will plead guilty tomorrow morning at 11am.

I seriously doubt Tejada will see any jail time, and will spend part - or all - of the '09 season on probation. How will this affect his play? Who cares. I'm not comfortable with the "Oh man, Tejada's busted, I hope he doesn't suck now" response. Because we're dealing with an issue much larger than how our favorite team's shortstop plays. It's exactly that mentality that got us to the point where we are in baseball/performance-enhancing drugs, where if a "juicer" (or a "healer") is on your team, you just hope he doesn't get caught. I hated the Tejada trade from Day One, if only for the news we heard today.


It came down the wire a few minutes ago that Miguel Tejada has been charged with lying to Congressional investigators about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Note, he was not charged with lying about his own use of PEDs. (A-Rod to Miggs: That's why you should lie to Katie Couric. Not Congress.)

Tejada faces a maximum penalty of a year in jail, but advisory sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of probation to six months behind bars.

So with a plea deal "seemingly near," it will be interesting to see the deal that is struck. It's also interesting that Tejada would be charged with lying about what turns out to be Adam Piatt's use, and not his own.

Here's the exchange which landed Tejada in trouble:
"Has there been discussions among other players about steroids?"

"No, I never heard," Tejada said, speaking through a Spanish interpreter.

Later, the investigator asked whether he knew of "any other player using steroids."

"No," Tejada answered. "I didn't know any player."

In court documents filed this morning, prosecutors said those statements contradicted evidence gathered from Piatt.

Piatt told investigators that he spoke to Tejada in the Oakland A's locker room in the spring of 2003. Tejada told Piatt that "he looked in great shape physically and asked [Piatt] what he was doing to help him be in such good physical shape," prosecutor Steven J. Durham, the chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office's public corruption unit, wrote in court documents.

I'm floored by the fact that he's going to get at least probation based on what Adam Piatt said, and not his own statements. The Post signals this turn of events shows "The charges also signal that prosecutors are serious about holding athletes accountable for their statements to Congress." Tejada is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow morning at 11am EST.

That tapping you hear? That's Roger Clemens' foot.

Minor League Transactions

Baseball America reporting the Astros have made some minor league transactions, signing right-handed pitcher Rob Semerano, catcher Julian Henson and second baseman Felix Molina.

Rob Semerano: 27 years old, went to Fordham, signed with the Yankees mid-season 2008 as a reliever and posted a 4-1 record in 22 games (35.1 innings) with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP for Tampa (High-A). Underwent Tommy John surgery in 2001. Has a fastball in the 92-94 range and was a 20th round pick by the A's in 2004.

Julian Henson: 21 years old, actually spent 2008 in the Astros' organization, splitting time between Tri-Cities and Lexington. Went 8-for-32 in Lexington with a .375 SLG.

Felix Molina: 25 years old, drafted by the Twins in the 21st round of the 2001 draft. In eight minor-league seasons, Molina has a base stat line of .264/.323/.378. Spent time in the Twins' Double-A and Triple-A (albeit for three games) teams in 2008. Here's what the Twins' Scout page said about Molina:

Another year in the Eastern League for Molina, who is a fan favorite in New Britain. However, he still has not been able to make the jump to Triple-A, and he is currently a free agent. He may try to latch on to another organization, because the second base spot is loaded with talent in the Twins system. Still, he had another solid season in Double-A in 2007, batting .272 for the Cats.
Grade: B-

Can we just get one thing clear?

Here's the thing that irritates me. Can the media stop saying that steroids were not illegal in 2003? Because that's bullcrap. Steroids have been illegal since 1990.

And here's where we get into semantics. Because yes, steroids were illegal but no, baseball didn't have a system to punish players to took them. So it's a morality issue: if it's illegal, but there's no punishment, is it still wrong?

Did you see the A-Rod interview? Gene Orza told him "You may or may not have failed a test." Yeah, (Cubs fans note: sarcasm ahead!) I bet that's exactly what he said Because if you just took a test, that's pretty much how it's going to go.

Monday, February 9, 2009

How Did We Get Here? 3rd base

The second in a series on How Did We Get Here? This time, 3rd base (over the last 20 years)

Buddy Bell - 1988
-Traded by Cincinnati to Houston for a player to be named later
-Released, December 1988

Kan Caminiti - 1989-1994
-Selected in 3rd round of 1984 draft
-Traded by Houston with Andujar Cedeno, Steve Finley, Roberto Petagine, Brian
Williams and a player to be named later to San Diego Padres in exchange for Derek
Bell, Doug Brocail, Ricky Gutierrez, Pedro Martinez, Phil Plantier and Craig Shipley, December 1994.

Dave Magadan - 1995
-Signed as free agent, April 1995
-Granted free agency, October 1995

Sean Berry - 1996-1998
-Traded to Houston by Montreal for Dave Veres and Raul Chavez, December 1995
-Granted free agency, October 1998

Bill Spiers - 1997-1998
-Signed as free agent, January 1996

Ken Caminiti - 1999
-Signed as free agent, November 1998
-Granted free agency, October 2000

Chris Truby - 2000
-Signed as undrafted free agent, August 1992
-Traded to Montral for Geoff Blum, March 2002

Vinny Castilla - 2001
-Signed as a free agent, May 2001
-Granted free agency, October 2001

Geoff Blum - 2002-2003
-Traded to Montreal for Chris Truby, March 2002
-Traded to Tampa Bay for Brandon Backe, December 2003

Morgan Ensberg - 2003-2007
-Drafted in 9th round of 1998 draft
-Traded to San Diego for future considerations, July 2007

Ty Wigginton - 2007-2008
-Traded by Tampa Bay for Dan Wheeler, July 2007
-Non-tendered by Houston, December 2008

McTaggart's Predictions: Things won't go as planned

Here are McTaggart's predictions:

1. By July - no Bourn, hello Bogusevic.
2. By October - no Q, hello Jason Castro.
3. Kaz Matsui plays a lot.
4. Roy wins the Cy Young.
5. Either, or both of, Boone and Blum will not be playing third base by year's end.


Easy Eddie: "If we had money, we'd sign a pitcher. Not a donkey."

Or something like that. Ed Wade denied Phil Rogers' "whispers" that the Astros could be planning a sneak attack on Adam Dunn, cryogenically freezing him in an Astros jersey and hoping he warms up by April 5.

But this is the actual quote:
"It was never an item of discussion for us. And even if we had greater resources available, we would have continued to be working the starting pitching market."

So three things here: (1) Signing a guy who hits 40+ homers each year never even came up in conversation. I understand the logistics of signing Dunn and the what-are-you-giving-up-defensively question, but at least throw it against the wall. (2) Don't go thinking the Astros have any money left. In fact, please go to your nearest Academy and buy a "Lidge 54" shirt (they're cheap now) so they can pay the clubbie. (3) The rotation obviously stinks, and Easy Eddie knows this. But why reach for the stars when you can settle?

And concerning Bourn: "We have MVP-caliber players in left field and at first base, and we think Michael Bourn deserves the opportunity to play on an everyday basis [in center field]."

Wade also preemptively broke up with Bobby Abreu (even though signing 1990s-era Astros seems to be the fashion):

Wade said he also spoke recently with agent Peter Greenberg and informed him that the Astros are not a candidate to sign Abreu. Wade was general manager in Philadelphia when Abreu was an All-Star right fielder for the Phillies.

Lance knows your pain, baseball fan.

In an article in the Chronicle today, JJO reports even Lance Berkman knows the baseball fan cannot accept that baseball is clean. Even after instituting rules where there is actual punishment.

Says Lance:
“The problem with this whole sordid mess (is) now everybody (is questioned). Even today all of a sudden my name gets brought up in an article about steroids, and I’ve never even been anywhere close to that. What happens is you get a few guys basically throwing a taint over the game and the rest of us are suffering for it.

“Nobody’s going to be believed anymore. I can sit here and crow and say I’ve never done steroids or never done anything illegal from a standpoint of performance-enhancing drugs. But who’s going to believe me? The point’s well made because we’re all guilty by association."

+1 to Lance for using the word "taint" in a quote. But seriously, Lance, like myself, would like to see the other 103 names on the Naughty List come out.

I’d like to know who took performance-enhancing drugs. You see these guys and they do freakish things and you feel like, 'man.' If you’re not measuring up to what they’re able to accomplish you sit there and you say, 'well, who’s on the juice and who’s naturally just heads and shoulders above everybody else and who’s artificially enhanced.'

Personally, it's a question of total accountability. I do not appreciate the willingness of the government or of Major League Baseball to go after Barry Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens and a bunch of minor leaguers.

Feature on Drew Meyer

Good feature in the Charleston Post and Courier today on former 2nd round draft pick, left-handed infielder and minor-league addition Drew Meyer.


"We like the fact that he can play second base, he can play shortstop," said Ricky Bennett, director of player development for the Astros. "He can move around the diamond, and being a left-handed hitter there are not many guys who can do that. So that's to his advantage. I told him, 'Hey, you're going to get an opportunity to play. We didn't sign you to sit on the bench. Whether it's AA or AAA, you're going to be in the lineup every day.' "

The Rangers, typically, mismanaged him and he's hoping to catch some breaks with the Astros. And with Tejada in the last year of his contract and Matsui two years away, there should be some opportunities.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Left-handed pitching? I own you.

So I was wondering - as I generally do when Grey's Anatomy is on - about the Astros versus left-handed pitching. I want to know who, over the last three years, has shown the most improvement in base stats against left-handed pitching. We won't take Michael Bourn into account, as we don't have more than 2008 to compare.

Let's look:
Lance Berkman
2006 - .266/.374/.416
2007 - .265/.361/.439
2008 - .276/.354/.449

Aaron Boone
2006 - .280/.369/.421
2007 - .213/.350/.255
2008 - .275/.365/.451

Darin Erstad
2006 - .192/.300/.346
2007 - .157/.205/.229
2008 - .243/.270/.329

Carlos Lee
2006 - .313/.354/.490
2007 - .338/.408/.547
2008 - .330/.374/.585

Kaz Matsui
2006 - .119/.229/.143 (that's in 42 at-bats)
2007 - .271/.311/.386
2008 - .291/.345/.408

Hunter Pence
2007 - .354/.407/.586
2008 - .250/.294/.428

Humberto Quintero
2007 - .211/.250/.263
2008 - .274/.294/.333

Miguel Tejada
2006 - .335/.375/.503
2007 - .323/.404/.508
2008 - .282/.326/.417

To recap, the players who showed improvement in all three categories over three (or two) years are: Kaz Matsui, Humberto Quintero.
Improvement in two categories: Lance Berkman, Aaron Boone and Carlos Lee.
Regression in two categories: Darin Erstad.
Regression in all categories: Hunter Pence and Miguel Tejada. Miggs' stats have alarm bells going off. Hunter Pence's stats can be chalked up to being in the League for his first full season and making adjustments

Are the Astros secretly pursuing Adam Dunn?

Interesting article from Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune this morning.

The Astros may be secretly pursuing Adam Dunn on a one-year deal, moving Hunter Pence to center field and Michael Bourn to the bench (or to Round Rock).

Rogers makes a good point: the players know what the market is, and they know - unless they're Manny Ramirez, whose agent, Scott Boras, has other issues on the table right now - what their financial options are. So now they're looking for the right fit. And a multi-year offer from Washington doesn't seem to appeal to Big Donkey. So maybe a one-year deal from Houston would be the right fit.

Back in November I shot down the idea that Dunn could fit, but that was dependent on Michael Bourn's presence in center. If that's up for discussion, there could be a fit.

The Chronicle has shifted its attention away from the Texans...again.

Here's the article, here are some nuggets:

-“If Felipe Paulino doesn’t win a spot in the rotation, he’s got options remaining. But we can’t walk past the possibility of considering him as a bullpen piece,” Wade said. “We’ve talked about Norris. De la Vara is a Rule 5 guy. We have guys like Danny Graves in camp. Chad Paronto is back in camp. All of these guys are going to be out there trying to put their best foot forward and see if they can impress somebody.”

-Norris and third baseman Chris Johnson top that list, but shortstops Edwin Maysonet and Tommy Manzella have realistic shots at earning one of the utility infield roles as the club seeks a true shortstop to back up Tejada.

-Jason Smith also will compete to be the backup shortstop, which also could be filled through a trade or free-agent acquisition. David Newhan performed well for the Astros last year in a backup infielder’s role, yet the club has made it clear to Newhan’s agent that his chances of making the club aren’t as strong as they would be if he were a true shortstop.

Ruben Amaro, Jr is happy he and Ed Wade are in their respective situations

From Delaware Online:

You were a finalist for the Houston Astros' GM job in 2006. Be honest. Aren't you glad now that Ed Wade got the job instead of you?

(Laughs) If you were to line up the two opportunities, sure. I was very thankful that [Astros president] Tal Smith and [owner] Drayton McLane gave me the opportunity to interview, and it was kind of ironic that Ed and I were finalists. But obviously it worked out great for both of us. Ed, with his experience, is in a great situation there. And for me, to be able to spend more time under Pat Gillick and then have this opportunity, it worked out as well as I could've asked.

Huh? Part Five: Primobolan

So rather than speculate how dirty the MLBPA is/may be, let's take a look at what A-Rod has reportedly tested positive for using testosterone and primobolan. If you were to look at me, you would know that I rarely spend time in the gym and I got a C in 10th grade chemistry, so I obviously wouldn't know what to do with a steroid. For me, a performance enhancing drug is one of those Cadbury's Cream Eggs.

So let's take a look at it, because what I noticed being thrown around following the story yesterday was the guys on television expressing shock and disbelief because A-Rod doesn't look like Popeye or Mark McGwire. I'm guessing this is attributed to the type of steroid he reportedly used.

From Bodybuilding: Primobolan is a well-known and popular steroid as well. Like nandrolone it's most often used as a base compound for stacking with other steroids....Because it is a widely available steroid its often used as a replacement for nandrolone or boldenone to those who have no access to Deca-Durabolin or Laurabolin or Equipoise.

Maybe you remember Deca-Durabolin if you have read "Juicing the Game" by Howard Bryant (excellent book) or "Game of Shadows." Or if you're Rafael Palmeiro.

Then regard this (still from the linked Bodybuilding article): For athletes who wish to maintain a "natural" status in competition, the tablets are quite well-suited as detection chances for the acetate-form are quite slim. However tests have improved and quite a number of metabolites1 of methenolone can be detected with a simple urine sample. But an English study documented that there is a liability in eating methenolone contaminated meats2, which could provide a possible defense if found out. One could always claim they ate the meat of a chicken or cow injected with methenolone since the test concluded eating such meat does not improve performance, but can deliver positive tests for several methenolone metabolites almost 24 hours after ingestion. That's for those of you seeking a viable defense against a possible methenolone-positive.

Of course, the reported presence of testosterone in A-Rod's tests would kind of blow that "I ate a juiced-up hamburger defense," but it'll be interesting to see what A-Rod says.

George Spellwin's Elite Fitness, says this in December 2004: "Primobolan - The Ultimate Steroid? I Think Yes!" Primobolan Depot is an extremely effective steroid that's earned its respect as the safest injectable steroid. It's the only steroid that will yield solid gains even on a low calorie diet. It's also the only steroid that will build solid muscle slowly with minimal to no side effects... No acne, no aggression, no water bloat, no loss of sex drive, and its the only steroid that will not shut down HPTA (you want to have kids one day right?). I honestly cant think of another steroid that compares to primobolan!

All of this is important, especially if you're trying to hook Madonna away from Guy Ritchie. If you didn't know, now you know. For other Huh? articles, click the label to your right.