Saturday, April 25, 2009

Recap for G18, Brewers at Astros

That one got a little exciting. Michael Bourn hit a huge ol' jack. So did Carlos Lee. So, unfortunately, did Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder - twice, including a laser shot off a struggling Jose Valverde in the 9th to give the Brewers the go-ahead runs and lead 8-7 in the 9th. Pudge and Coop got ejected, and personally, I'm pleased that Coop showed a little fire. Nice work by Towles to come in and get a hit and a run about six hours after coming in from Round Rock. Hunter Pence put the ball in play and made Bill Hall do something stupid - which he obliged doing. Give the credit to Pence and Berkman to running hard. In the end, the bullpen couldn't close it out and the Astros couldn't get the big hit late.

Hampton: 6IP, 8H, 4ER, 4K:3BB
Sampson: 1IP, 1H, 2K:0BB
LaHawk: 1IP, 3H, 2ER, 1K:1BB
Valverde: 1IP, 2H, 2ER, 2K:0BB
Geary: 2IP, 3H, 1ER, 2K:2BB


The problem - once again - is the bullpen. Sampson was solid in striking out two, but LaHawk/Valverde/Geary combined for 8H, 5ER in 4IP. Hampton made it through 5.2IP, and in hindsight might have been better served to go ahead and walk Bill Hall to get to Jason Kendall. He didn't, and Hall tagged him for a three-run homer. LaHawk comes in, immediately gives up a single to Prince Fielder. Then the ejections, then a four-pitch walk to J.J. Hardy. Then a Bill Hall single, then a Jason Kendall sac fly. There you have it. Towles and Matsui give the Astros a 7-6 lead, and then Valverde comes in...Corey Hart takes a 1-1 Valverde fastball - and he was throwing all fastballs until Mike Cameron - almost deep, and Prince Fielder tattooed him.

Now whether Valverde came back too early - leaving pitches up like that makes one think that leg is not 100% - or Valverde just sucks right now is up for debate. Tonight's performance raised his ERA to 6.43. Valverde has had two perfect appearances in this young season, but it's still cause for concern. Because that means in close games, Valverde has put runners on in four of his six appearances, including three home runs. The home run vs the Reds gave the Reds the victory, and had it not been for Pence/Berkman tonight, would have blown another save.

Man of the Match:
Michael Bourn. 2x6 night with his first HR of the season, now hitting .291 and is 8 for his last 24.

Goat of the Game:
Jose Valverde. For reasons already explained.

Quintero to DL: Who's Coming Up?

Thanks to Mike Cameron, Quintero is headed to the 15-Day Disabled List as a result of the collision at home (where Cameron got thrown out like a touchy lout in a strip club. I made that up, but feel free to use it.)

So who's coming up to replace him? Because one Pudge does not a catching battery make. Let's look:

Round Rock


Pretty clear edge to Towles. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: That question was answered in short-order. J.R. Towles is your C2.

Meat Wagon notes

We spoke last night about how Moehler did at Round Rock last night, and there are a
couple of updates we get from Doug Brocail and Jose Valverde...

Depending on how well he feels after a 20-pitch simulated game yesterday, Brocail could rejoin the team tomorrow.
“I felt good. I felt real good. When you cut the ball off, my ball tends to be a cutter in to lefties and uncontrollable to righties,” he said. “Finally I’m getting sink and hard movement in. I threw three out of my four pitches for strikes. I’ll throw three out of my four pitches for strikes any day.”

Threw seven pitches last night, and is still not ready to return from the Tuesday game vs. the Dodgers.
“I really felt it. It wasn’t a lot, but I really felt it.”

Matchup for G18 - Brewers at Astros

Coming off a game where the Brewers hit a lot of singles, and the Astros didn't, Mike Hampton will try to stop a two game skid. It's important to note, however, that the Astros are 5-5 since starting the season 1-6. Lemons, meet lemonade.

Mike Hampton

Mike Hampton makes his 4th start of the season, and his second at home tonight. In his last two starts Hampton has thrown quality starts and 100 pitches each, and is throwing an average of 66.5% strikes - 43 looking and 22 swinging. Walks are down, too. After walking four batters in his first start at St. Louis, Hampton has walked two batters - one in each start.


First-pitch strikes: 38 (.371/.425/.400), with 10K:3BB. Bizarre, huh?
First-pitch balls: 25 (.136/.231/.136), 8K:3BB

With RISP, hitters are 3x13, .231/.286/.308

Jeff Suppan

You know Jeff Suppan. He's 2-7 vs Houston from his time in St. Louis and Milwaukee, with a 5.34 ERA. He only made one start vs. the Astros last season - at home - and lost. Throwing 6IP, 11H/8ER, 3K:1BB, Suppan took the loss on July 27.

Here's Suppan this season so far. He looked good last start, but those first two starts? Eh...


Of his 239 pitches thrown, only 135 of those were strikes. And in his last start, his stuff got a little better, as he had 17 strikes looking - but 20 his last time out at CitiField.


Friday, April 24, 2009

So how did Moehler do?

The guy who Paulino replaced? Brian Moehler? Yeah, he threw almost as many pitches in Round Rock tonight (77) than he had to this point in the season for the Astros (82).

It's a game still in progress, but Mohler went 4IP, 3H/1ER, 0K:3BB in his first rehab start for Round Rock. The Express spotted him six runs in the 1st.

So far, four doubles by the Express - Gall, Yordany, Abercrombie, Kata - and Ramirez has a 2x4 night going to raise his average to .348.

Recap, G17 - Brewers at Astros

That one wasn't very fun, either. Paulino was cruising until the 5th inning. Had a 2-0 lead, thanks to Carlos Lee's homer, and then boom! (homage to the recently retired John Madden) the 5th inning came along. What happened in that 4-run 5th?

Bill Hall popped out to short
Kendall singled to center
Gallardo sac bunted, Kendall to 2nd
Weeks reached on infield single
Hart singled to right, Kendall scored
Braun singled to right, Weeks scored
Fielder singled to right, Hart scored
Cameron singled to right, Braun scored
Fielder out at 3rd

Strange, because of the ten hits Paulino gave up - only one was an extra-base hit, a double in the 4th.

FP strike: 13
FB ball: 10

Paulino: 6IP, 10H, 4ER, 4K:0BB
Fulchino: 3IP, 1H, 1ER, 1K:0BB

The Astros pitcher gave up 11 hits, but no walks for what - if memory serves - is the only time this season. The Brewers only connected on two extra-base hits, Cameron's double and Rickie Weeks (Rickie Weeks!?) double. Here's the thing about Fulchino's outing - after the homer to Weeks, Fulchino sat down nine straight Brewers. Pudge did have to come in for Quintero in the 5th after a collision at home with Mike Cameron (where Pence nailed Cameron at home for one of two outfield assists), who should be used to collisions by now. Cameron, not Quintero.


It's that dadgum offense, though. Berkman went 0x4 to dip his average to .186 after striking out - looking - three times. Lee provided all the runs with what was then a 2-run shot in the 4th. Managing only five hits - one from Matsui, two from Bourn, the one big one from Lee and one from Pence. Other hitless wonders include Tejada (0x3), Blum (0x3), Quintero/Pudge (0x3). Batters 5-8 went 1x12. Oh, and did the game always feel like it was in the top half of the inning? That's because the Astros had six 1-2-3 innings.

Man of the Match:
Jeff Fulchino. Despite the 5th run to Weeks, Fulchino actually stopped the juggernaut Brewers' offense with nine straight outs.

Goat of the Game:
Does it seem like I'm picking on Berkman? Maybe so, because it's real easy to do from Tennessee. I'm going to the game in Atlanta on Saturday, so I don't mind explaining. But a 6-11 record with Berkman hitting .186 makes a little sense.

Lineup for G17 - Brewers at Astros

Lineup for G17:

Walk-off tracker

So I was bored and decided to take a gander at who on the Astros leads the team in walk-off homers. Results follow the ellipses...

Miguel Tejada - 271 career homers / 5 walk-offs
Carlos Lee - 284 / 4
Pudge Rodriguez - 296 / 3
Darin Erstad - 122 / 3
Hunter Pence - 46 / 2
Lance Berkman - 292 / 1
Jason Michaels - 45 / 1
Geoff Blum - 85 / 0
Kaz Matsui - 24 / 0
Jason Smith - 17 / 0
Jeff Keppinger - 14 / 0
Michael Bourn - 6 / 0
Humberto Quintero - 5 / 0

And just for grins...
Jeff Bagwell - 449 / 3 (surprising, no?)
-April 18, 1992 vs. SD
-Sept 15, 1992 vs. SFG
-June 3, 1997 vs. LAD
All three were in extra innings, and at the Astrodome

Craig Biggio - 291 / 3
-June 5, 1995 vs. FLA
-May 16, 1998 vs. ATL
-July 31, 2001 vs. NYM

The 7% Solution

Nice link from Citizen Chris with the CoolStandings odds on the post-season to this point in the season. I noticed this towards the end of last season on ESPN's standings page, but I didn't realize they would do it this early.

Anyhow, good news, I guess. The Astros have a 7.1% better chance of going to the playoffs than they did in 2005! In the Top Comebacks section our Houston Astros on June 7, 2005 had a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs. Of course they went to the World Series, where they had a 50% chance of winning, and got smoked.

This is an interesting site, as the Red Sox and Yankees have the same record, at 9-6, yet the Red Sox are given a 51% chance of making the postseason while those Yankees sit at 20.7%. As of today the Astros are given a 3.5% chance of winning the NL Central, a 3.8% chance of winning the Wild Card. Add that up, and there's your 7.3% chance of making the playoffs.

How do they do it? I'll just let you read it.

Astros County Apparel

We now offer Astros County apparel through CafePress. There are shirts, jackets, mousepads, whatever, available for as low as $9.99 (for a baby's bib, if you want to install hatred of other NL Central teams into your newborn). Shirts run in the $15-20 range. The Value Shirt option clocks in at $12.99. But I bet if you wear it in the rain, people can see your nipples.

Support your local blog. After all, at least we're not running any ads.

Matchup for G17 - Brewers @ Astros

The Astros come in off their first home series win of the season, but the Brewers have won three of their last four games, as well. Two relatively unknown quantities - in that Paulino and Gallardo either did not pitch, or barely pitched in 2008 square off in the final three games of a 10-game homestand, in which the Astros are 3-4.

Felipe Paulino

Paulino comes in for his second of what looks to be three starts before Brian Moehler comes off the DL. What happened last start? Total domination until the bullpen came in the game and killed it. Versus the Reds last Sunday?

6IP, 3H, 0ER, 6K:2BB, 1HBP, 1WP, 7GB/7FB, 20ABs:1XBH

First-pitch strikes: 12 (.250/.250/.333)
First-pitch balls: 10 (.000/.200/.000)

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo was one of those Keys to 2008 for the Brewers, pitch in three games in April/May, and was out until September 25. Amazingly enough, with the exception of the September game, Gallardo threw all quality starts, and was on his way to a 4th when he was lifted due to a strict pitch count, in which he only threw 67 pitches. So we have two unknown quantities going at each other.

And based on this season's appearances, we still don't know what to expect. Here are his three starts to date:


So who knows? Of 306 total pitches, he's thrown 189 strikes, 62 of them swinging.

First-pitch strikes: 30 (.107/.167/.250)
First-pitch balls: 39 (.167/.667/.167)

That Was Your Series: Dodgers at Astros

Tuesday: 8-5 W
Wednesday: 6-5 W
Thursday: 2-0 L

Most telling stat: Bullpen - 10IP, 4ER



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reactions to G16 - Dodgers at Astros

Blum on Billingsley:
“I have close to probably 20 at-bats off of him and I have an idea of what he’s got. Tonight it was electric. It was crazy. I had actually gotten some good hitting counts and he was still throwing 90 mph, what looked like a slider. ... His depth is pretty impressive. He had us off-balance. He made pitches and he had it all working for him.”

Cooper on Wandy:
“I thought Wandy pitched well. We just didn’t really swing it very well tonight. Give the other guy some credit. We didn’t hit very many balls hard, not many chances. But great pitching from us, I thought, from Wandy. I thought he pitched well. We just needed to figure out how to score some runs for him when he pitches those kinds of games, or even for that matter from Roy. He couldn’t really, really locate early with his fastball, but he stayed in the game. That to me shows he’s making giant strides with what we want him to do.”

Recap, G16 - Dodgers at Astros

Definitely not as fun as last night. 2-0 loss as this was the pitcher's duel I said it would it be. The Astros managed four hits over the course of the evening, and Chad Billingsley blew it out the box. Wandy did what Wandy's done, and that's allow very few runs over the course of his outing. Let's take a look at his first pitch stats:

FP strike: 18
FB ball: 6

Wandy: 6IP, 5H, 1ER, 4K:2BB
Geary: 2IP, 2H, 1ER, 1K
Wright: 1IP, 1H


The offense...we mentioned this earlier, but Hunter Pence got to take a rest today. Not sure why. But it is what it is. Let's look at the ABs with runners on base. Trust me, this won't take long.

1st inning, Tejada on 2nd, 1 out:
Berkman strikes out swinging
Lee pops out to catcher

2nd inning: Erstad on 1st, 1 out
Pudge grounds into double play

3rd inning: Bourn on 1st, 0 out
Wandy sac bunt, Bourn to 2nd
Matsui flies out to 2nd
Tejada pops out to short

5th inning: Pudge on 1st, 1 out
Bourn strikes out swinging/Pudge caught stealing at 2nd

6th inning: Michaels on 1st, 0 out
Matsui sac bunt, Michaels to 2nd
Tejada safe at 1st on throwing error
Berkman grounds into double play

8th inning: Bourn on 2nd, 1 out
Pence lines out to short
Matsui grounds out to third

9th inning: Tejada on 1st, 0 out
Berkman strikes out swinging
Lee strikes out looking
Blum HBP
Erstad grounds out to first

So Tejada provided half the Astros' offense with two of the four hits, and they got nothin' from anybody else. Still, in a positive light, the Astros did win a series that looked unwinnable the way they played against the Reds.

Man of the Match:
Miguel Tejada. 2x4, now hitting .365.

Goat of the Game:
I really hate to harp on Berkman, but he did leave two men on twice in one game that the Astros lost by two runs. 0x4 with two Ks, 4 LOBs, and is now hitting .200.

Lineup for G16 - Dodgers at Astros

1) Matsui
2) Tejada
3) Berkman
4) Lee
5) Blum
6) Erstad
7) Pudge
8) Bourn

Pence gets the night off - and why not? He's only hitting .309 and has hits in four of his last five games and has seven hits in his last 19ABs...

Huh? Part 6, Simulated Games

Part Six in the Huh? series in which we look at some of the more unexplained aspects of baseball. And then explain them.

Previous Huh?s include:
Primobolan: A-Rod's cocktail of choice.
Game Scores
Viral Meningitis
Marginal Lineup Value

Today? Simulated games. I'm sure you've heard of them, but what the heck is a simulated game? PlayStation? Negative.

In simulated games, two or three hitters take turns hitting against an injured pitcher. Which hardly seems fair. However, it's more like a scrimmage where the pitcher throws, and the batter hits, and there are ghost runners based on how hard the ball is hit. Yesterday Brocail and Backe threw simulated games to Erstad, Bourn, Quintero, and Smith. If Brocail threw to Erstad and he hit it to the gap, then there's a Ghost Runner on 2nd, and Brocail then would pitch out of the stretch. No word on whether or not Smith got a hit.

If Brocail got a ground ball in between second and third, that would be called an out. Three outs and Brocail goes and sits down, and allows Backe to try his hand at three outs. Simulated games rarely go more than three or four innings because, after all, they're hurt already.

Voila! Simulated game.

Meat Wagon News

Brandon Backe and Doug Brocail both threw simulated games yesterday at Minute Maid Park.

And the fans in Round Rock won't be pleased. Brocail apparently managed to talk Dewey Robinson and Cecil Cooper out of sending him to pitch one inning at Round Rock before being activated on Sunday from the DL. The people need to see the Broc. He'll apparently hump up for another simulated game tomorrow.

Says Brocail:
"The swelling went down, and on the fourth day, I was feeling pretty good. The only bad thing is you have to ride out the 15 days. I felt good. It's the hardest I've thrown in about a year, so I'll take it. I actually threw strikes today, so I can't complain."

Darin Erstad:
"He was the same Brocail. Ball moving in every direction possible, he's screaming at you in the batter's box. He's in peak form. He's ready."

However, Brian Moehler will throw five innings for Round Rock tomorrow, and Brandon Backe will throw four innings for Round Rock on Monday.

Matchup for G16 - Dodgers at Astros

The Astros will try to complete their first sweep of the season, after ensuring their second series victory with last night's win over the Dodgers.

Wandy Rodriguez

Who would have thought that Wandy would be the ace of the staff so far this season? This was the year Wandy needed to prove he was a valuable #2 starter, and he has established that in his first three starts. He's shown poise, emotion, and the ability to strike a fool out. The Astros are 2-1 in Wandy's starts.
Wandy's three starts:


Batters are hitting .177/.282/.210 (yep, I checked) off Wandy, and hitting .146 at Minute Maid Park with three induced GIDP. And this is interesting. With a first-pitch strike, opponents are hitting .147/.211/.147. After a first-pitch ball, opponents are hitting .143/.333/.190. Once he gets that first-pitch ball, batters have gone on to get three more pitches just like it six times (in 27 plate appearances), and he's had only eight walks all season.

2008 vs. Los Angeles:

July 1 L5IP6H/5ER5K:4BB6GB/10FB

Career vs:


Chad Billingsley

Billingsley is 3-0 in his first three starts, and has turned in quality starts in all three, but his second game was the gem of the season so far. Throwing 7IP with 5H/1ER, 11K:0BB against the Giants in an 11-1 win, Billingsley is starting to live up to the hype he's had since his debut in 2006.

This matchup has the promise of a pitcher's duel as Billingsley's BAA splits are as follows:
Total: .169/.243/.231
Righties: .103/.156/.138
Lefties: .222/.310/.306

First-pitch strikes: .088/.086/.118
First-pitch balls: .292/.452/.375

2008 splits:

vs. HOU1-12.77 ERA/1.15 WHIP0 HR9K:3BB
At MMP1-00.00 ERA/0.88 WHIP0 HR5K:1BB


Forbes Astros Valuations

So Forbes released their franchise values for all 30 MLB teams, and predictably, the Yankees are the most valuable franchise in all of baseball. Buoyed by the new ballpark, the Mets are 2nd, and the Red Sox are 3rd. Where do our Astros fall here?

The Astros were one of 13 MLB clubs to record no change or a decline in value from 2008. Also declining were the Nationals (-12%), Braves (-10%), Mariners (-9%), Tigers (-9%), Giants (-5%), Indians (-4%), Rangers (-2%), A's (-1%), Pirates (-1%), Cardinals/Orioles/Blue Jays (+-0%)

How does this change from the previous five years?

YearValue%ChangeRevenueOper. Inc.Value Rank

Go to the World Series and see your value increase by $59 million! Anyone else notice that the Astros posted a record in revenues?

A Link in the Chain

I got from Babe Ruth to Jeff Bagwell in five steps. What are they?

About Roy and those three homers

It's true. I'm not terribly concerned about Roy and those three home runs. Those were three home runs by guys who hit 78 home runs last year. Now, when was the last time that Roy gave up three home runs in a game? It's only happened twice:

vs Marlins on April 11, 2008 (4HR - two in the 3rd, two in the 4th)
vs Reds on July 18, 2003 (3HR - one in the 2nd, two in the 6th)

He has never given up three homers in an inning before. And until this becomes a trend, we'll just call it three good swings to the shallowest part of the park.

Now, Roy has given up six home runs in four starts. At what point over the years did Roy give up his 6th HR?
2008: 5th start
2007: 8th start
2006: 8th start
2005: 8th start
2004: 17th start
2004: 8th start
2003: 8th start
2002: 15th start
2001: 16th start

So that doesn't exactly make me feel better. But regardless, he's still an elite pitcher, and the Astros still won.

Last Three Games: Lance Berkman

We know about Lance's struggles so far this season, but with a four-game hit streak, things are looking up for the Cornerstone of the Offense. Lance was hitting under .200 as late as April 18, but has raised that average to .216. What have his last three games looked like?

8th inning: 2-pitch, 1-0 2-run homer to left
6th inning: 6-pitch, 3-2 leadoff walk
4th inning: 6-pitch, 3-2 Flyout to right
1st inning: 4-pitch, 1-2 strikeout looking

6th inning: 6-pitch, 3-2 groundout to first
4th inning: 5-pitch, 1-2 strikeout swinging
3rd inning: 5-pitch, 2-2 flyout to center
1st inning: 4-pitch, 1-2 single to left (RBI)

8th inning: 1st pitch flyout to right
6th inning: 1st pitch homer to right
4th inning: 2-pitch, 1-0 groundout to short
1st inning: 4-pitch, 2-1 lineout to right

So in his last 12 plate appearances, Lance has been on base four times with three hits, and two of those were homers. But, and I think this is important, he has only grounded out twice in those 12 PAs.

Reactions to G15 - Dodgers at Astros

“I think this is a very nice win for us. I think (it’s one of) those kinds of games that a team should feel good that you come from behind to beat a good team like the Dodgers. They’re first in their division, and it’s good. It’s nice. Sampson pitched great to keep us in the game, and then Hawkins came and closed the game.”

“Team win. Everyone put something in today. We did well.”

“Well, it’s a team game. That’s what we talked about at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t going to be one guy. It was going to be everybody. We all had to chip in and help carry the load.”

Randy Wolf:
"We put up four runs against a really tough pitcher. And we had that four-run sixth inning and I give up that lead right away. You can't do that. It's disappointing because that's a win for us that I felt I let slip away. They're a tough lineup. When it's the first two weeks of the season, you throw out numbers. They don't mean anything."

Recap - G15, Dodgers at Astros

That was fun! First, big thanks to Deputy Jason for what was a fabulously entertaining Live Blog (it was still entertaining the next morning, that's saying something). The Astros win in a see-saw game 6-5, and we have ourselves a series win.

Five homers were hit, including three by Manny, Ethier and Blake in the top of the 6th to tie the game 4-4. With the exception of Pence's homer, they all went to left field. Where's our SportsCenter special investigating the wind tunnel effect at Minute Maid Park? Roy was effective, except for three pitches. But let's see the First Pitch stats...

FP strike: 16
FB ball: 11

Good news for Roy is that in the 11 times he threw a first-pitch ball, only twice was the second pitch a ball, as well.

Oswalt: 6IP, 8H, 4ER, 6K:1BB (3 HR)
Sampson: 2IP, 2H, 1ER, 1K
LaHawk: 1IP, 0H, 1K

Good job in a game where Valverde was unavailable for Sampson to go two (though he got hit pretty good in his second inning of the night) and LaHawk to get a perfect ninth inning.


Let's say it again, 15 groundball outs, eight strikeouts, and only four flyball outs. Of course three of those flyballs went beyond the boundary of the playing field, but what are you gonna do?

Offense was money again, doing just enough to get the win. Extra-base hits in the form of doubles from Pence, and two doubles by Michaels, with a homer by Berkman - 4-game hitting streak - provided the offense, and when Pence advanced to third on a wild pitch, Pudge got the big hit to knock him in with the game-winning RBI. And, even better, four of the Astros' six runs came with two outs.

Man of the Match:
Hunter Pence. Six total bases, takes third on the wild pitch, two RBI, scores the game-winning run.

Goat of the Game:
Jeff Keppinger. 1-for-4 (he's only hitting .455 now), but he did end the inning three times and left four on base.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

G15 Dodgers v. Astros

Valverde out tonight with jacked up leg. Who gets the ball in the 9th?

Sampson hurt, more of a man than A-Rod

Chris Sampson has a torn labrum in his hip. But unlike A-Rod and his alleged torn labrum (remember, I don't think A-Rod is hurt), Sampson will pitch through it. Where's Sampson's Details photo shoot where he kisses himself?

Matchup for G15 - Dodgers at Astros

The Astros try to build on an improbable victory last night and we get to see which Roy will show up tonight: Reds Roy or Cards Roy. If the game is close (with the Astros up) late, will Coop throw Valverde out there? Of Geary, Wright, Byrdak, LaHawk, Fulchino or Sampson, who would you want in the 9th? Regardless, let's look at Roy...

Last start, Friday vs Cincinnati:
6IP, 5H, 0ER, 4K:3BB

Oswalt lowered his season ERA almost two runs with a stellar performance against the Reds last Friday night. Needing an average of eighteen pitches an inning (a little high), Roy only allowed two runners in scoring position all night.
Let's look at Roy's starts so far:

vs CHI7IP7H/3ER2K:1BB13GB/12FB
at STL6IP9H/6ER4K:2BB11GB/10FB

But this Dodgers team is not the Reds, who came in with the worst batting average in the Majors - which didn't stop them from taking three of four. Righties are hitting .324 (all three HRs allowed were to righties) off Roy, while lefties are getting him at .273. How about through the order?

1st AB10x26.385/.429/.6925:2
2nd AB5x21.238/.320/.3333:3
3rd+ AB6x23.261/.292/.3912:1

Career vs:


Who's missing from this list? Manny.

Randy Wolf

Will Wolf get pissed off facing the Astros in what should have been his home park in 2009? Would you remember if someone had pulled $28 million off the table before you had a chance to respond? Wolf so far this year is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA. Best start of the season was April 12 at Arizona, where he threw 7IP and gave up two hits. But last start vs Colorado, Wolf threw 6IP, 3ER, 9K:2BB and got 10 swinging strikes.

2008 splits:

vs. HOU0-01.50 ERA/1.00 WHIP0 HR5K:2BB
At MMP4-01.71 ERA/1.14 WHIP1 HR22K:9BB


Don't miss the exciting conclusion tonight with Deputy Jason's Live Blog!

Minor League Roundup

Some days, as time allows, we'll take a look at the Minor Leaguers and see how those guys are doing. Some days we won't. That's the hook. You'll just have to keep coming back. Astros County is now getting over 120 hits a day, which after five months and no marketing budget, is pretty awesome - so thanks for your support. Tell a friend.

Round Rock
Arias gave up 2ER in 3IP to raise lower his ERA to 10.13 in a 4-1 loss to New Orleans. Bogusevic got two hits while John Gall cracked a double and Manzella hit a triple. Yordany Ramirez is hitting .316 while J.R. Towles is sitting nicely at .357

Corpus Christi
Slugfest last night as the Hooks and Whatever the NW Arkansas Team Is Called each got 13 hits. Problem was, NW Arkansas scored two more runs in a 9-7 loss. Mitch Einertson went 3x4 while Jimmy Van Ostrand went 2x5 to lower his average to .414. Polin Trinidad took the loss with 4ER in 5IP.

The Legends got the crap kicked out of them 12-0 at the hands of the Hickory Hickories (this name has been changed). Managing only two hits of offense, Jordan Lyles gave up 4ER in 4.1IP (but did strike out six batters), and then reliever Brian Wabick got rocked for 5ER in .2IP.

The JetHawks dropped their sixth straight last night to the Inland Empire 66ers, 11-4. Marcos Cabral hit his first homer of the season.

Live Blog tonight!

So Deputy Jason and I have done a number of these live blogs, each with a middling amount of success. We've made friends with Seth, Rob, German, and a couple of other readers - and that's fun. So join Deputy Jason tonight as he live blogs G15 vs. the Dodgers! Deputy Jason was at the game last night so he, as always, should have some great insights. And let's be honest, the guy's funny, too.

Ed Wade comments on Randy Wolf's off-season negotiations

Remember Randy Wolf? I thought you might. Ed Wade made a few comments about the negotiations the day Randy Wolf pitches in Houston again, but for the other team:

“Our hope was to be able to keep Wolfie here. We made a legitimate offer, and we were knee-deep in the negotiations when we had to pull it off the table because of the economy. I never had to do it before, pull an offer off the table to a player. At the tail end just before he signed with the Dodgers, we made another offer; we tried to get back into it, but at that point, it was fairly apparent that we weren’t going to be able to get anything done with him.”

Wolf signed with the Dodgers for $5 million plus incentives.

Says the Wolf:
“I really don’t look at it as shortchanged. As far as the Astros, they have to make their decisions in a business sense that they feel is right for them.”

Reactions to G14 - Dodgers at Astros

Berkman on Ortiz and Valverde:
"They’re guys that have been around. I think that’s what you get when you have veterans - poise even in the face of seeming disaster. They both did a great job of limiting the damage. Russ kept us in that game and gave us an opportunity to score those runs without it getting out of hand. Jose did his job there in the ninth inning after it looked like he got off to a little bit of a rough start."

"I knew after the first my job was just to keep us in the game."

Clayton Kershaw:
"I just didn't have a good night. I was getting ahead of hitters for the most part, they were just hitting pitches. It was one of those nights."

Joe Torre on Kershaw:
"He just didn't look comfortable. I thought he battled, but it looked like he was trying to overthrow it at times."

"I’ll take a win almost at any cost. Almost"

The Meat Wagon is making a stop, and Valverde has a ticket

Orlando Hudson's 9th-inning AB did a number on JV, as the ball hit him on the ankle, and then he pulled his calf trying to throw him out.

"Right now, I just put it on ice and check it tomorrow. See how I feel. "I felt it a lot. It affected me a lot. I wanted to pitch. I wanted to support my team, and that's what I did today.”” I guess when you're in pain you talk like Ernest Hemingway writes.

Then JJO had this item:
Valverde, who blew a save Friday while pitching with mild back soreness a night after he couldn’t pitch because of the back problem, refused to come out even though trainer Rex Jones, manager Cecil Cooper and catcher Pudge Rodriguez suggested he’d ex

This is what's most troubling to me. It worked out, I guess, last night for Valverde because he got the save. But if your catcher, manager, and trainer come out to the mound and you tell them to leave...? I guess I understand, because who the heck else are you going to put in that situation. I'm not thrilled with Valverde's performances to this point, either, but I'm more comfortable with him in the 9th than anybody else in the bullpen right now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recap - G14, Dodgers at Astros

Someone needs to tell the Astros they don't all have to be exciting. Nice 8-5 win, where bullpen bends yet doesn't break, and Valverde strikes out two with the bases loaded to preserve the win after taking one off the leg. Russ Ortiz really labored in the first inning, throwing 33 pitches, 16 of them for strikes. Obviously with a first inning like that, the pitch count is going to be elevated. Want to know how you throw 116 pitches in five innings (including 33 pitches in the first inning)? Let's let Russ tell us:

1st inning: 33 pitches
2nd inning: 20 pitches
3rd inning: 15 pitches
4th inning: 19 pitches
5th inning: 29 pitches

Of the 23 batters faced:
11 of them got a 1-0 pitch
7 of them worked to 2-0
3 of them worked to 3-0

Nevertheless, a win is a win. Groundballs are a pitcher's best friend, and Ortiz got 11 groundball outs, but the bullpen is going to have to be on standby when Ortiz pitches.

Ortiz: 5IP, 3H, 3ER, 2K:5BB
Wright: 1IP, 1H, 1K
Fulchino: 1IP, 2H, 2ER, 1BB
LaHawk: 1IP, 1H
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 2K:1BB

Fulchino gave up his first runs as an Astro by granting Manny Ramirez a 2-run trot around the bases, and Valverde's outing was dicey:
Furcal: Safe on an error by JV
Hudson: Infield single
Ramirez: Flied out to right, Furcal to third
Ethier: Walked
Loney: Struck out swinging
Martin: Struck out swinging


I know I have a tendency, when the opposite team puts up three in the first inning, to go ahead and cede the game, but the Astros didn't, and battled back. Tejada, Lee, Pudge and Keppinger all had multi-hit games, while Lance now has a three-game hitting streak. Carlos Lee hit his third homer of the year - and his second in two games. Tejada had the highest batting average on the team, and just one RBI to show for it (think about that for a second. What does it tell you?), and went out and got three RBIs last night.

Man of the Match:
Miguel Tejada. Tripled his season RBI total, and even got a 2-out hit with runners in scoring position.

Goat of the Game:
Tough to say. I want to pick on Valverde, but he didn't allow a run. Ortiz threw a lot of pitches, but buckled down when it could have gotten out of hand. So it goes to Hunter Pence. 0x4 with a strikeout, and didn't get the ball out of the infield.

Seriously, did Cooper piss in Rosenthal's tea?

Ken Rosenthal, today, in its entirety (at least the Cooper comments):

When I covered the Orioles as a columnist for The Baltimore Sun, owner Peter Angelos would sometimes do just the opposite of what the media anticipated. It was as if he wanted to defy certain reporters and columnists whom he perceived as boogeymen, even if his stubbornness hurt the team.

Well, it was deja vu all over again when Astros owner Drayton McLane exercised the 2010 option on Cecil Cooper's contract Saturday, and not simply because I had written earlier in the week that Cooper might be the first manager fired.

The only rational explanation for extending Cooper at a time when the Astros were 3-7 was to give the team increased stability; McLane has employed three managers and three general managers since 2004.

True, Cooper rallied the Astros to 86 wins in his first full season after a 6-12 start. But that record was a mirage; the Astros were outscored by 31 runs. Their veterans, many of whom do not care for Cooper, are unlikely to be stirred by the news that he will remain their manager through next season.

What's more, Cooper's coaching staff is not considered strong. Yet, with the exception of hitting coach Sean Berry, who eventually could be sacrificed, the coaches, too, figure to gain increased job security.

Hey, it's McLane's team; he can do what he wants. Much as critics like myself might quibble, the Astros' record is the fifth best in the majors since McLane became owner in 1993.

Still, McLane sure picked a funny time to pick up the option of a manager whose team started the season 1-7 and finished 1-16-3 in the spring.

The owner probably believes that he snuffed out a potential problem. In truth, he might only have delayed the inevitable.

You look back at who was quoted in the article following Cooper's extension: Bourn, Tejada, McLane, Wade. McLane and Wade are obligated to say a few words. Who was not quoted? 23 other guys in the clubhouse. Berkman, Lee, Oswalt. Those are the guys who should say something. The fact that they didn't is just as telling. Okay.

There are a lot of accusations and critiques flying here. To name a few:
1) McLane acted in a way that Rosenthal does not understand. Therefore, he's a moron. And irrational.
2) Again with the Astros getting outscored. They're not as good as their record indicated - but that's how you tell how good a team is. It's a circular argument, and the logic is flawed.
3) Not only does Cooper not deserve an extension, but his bench coaches suck, too. They have increased job security, except Sean Berry.

And the Astros did not finish the Spring 1-16-3. They finished the Spring 11-4. And they did not start the season 1-7. They started 1-6, won two games, and then lost another. That's 3-7.

Does this look low to you?

Got another image in the inbox from Citizen Chris, this one of the called third strike with the bases loaded versus Pence in the 8th inning of last night's game.

Some commentary from Chris:
Here it is with the area where the ball was all shaded in with bright white - I don't know, it was a fairly close pitch. But he hadn't been calling low ones like that all game. It was clearly below Hunter's knees - and Hunter already has a disadvantage by being lanky and having a big strike zone between his knees and waist.

ESPN says Wandy could be this year's Cliff Lee (meaning next year's Buddy Carlisle)

Christopher Harris, of ESPN's Fantasy Baseball team, gets a lot of questions about fantasy baseball. Which is strange, because that means he's getting paid - presumably well - to answer questions about make-believe. Anyhow, he was basically asked to find the next breakout pitcher before he breaks out. Who's on the list? Your boy Wandy.

Rodriguez is 30 now, so he's not exactly a bonus baby. He has broken a lot of fantasy hearts in his day. But his strikeouts per nine innings rate has increased from 5.6 in 2005 to 6.5 in '06 to 7.78 in '07 to 8.58 in '08. And even more significant, his walks per nine innings rate has decreased the past three seasons. He has trended positively toward forcing more ground balls, and he's actually good at that Minute Maid bandbox. His problems? He has been bad on the road, and he was hurt last season. But there's some pretty big upside here.

Matchup for G14 - Dodgers at Astros

The Astros try to bounce back from three winnable losses in four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 10-3 and have won eight straight.

So the Astros will send Russ Ortiz up against Claytown Kershaw to try to be the stopper. Logically, that first pitch is huge for Ortiz. First-pitch ball? .353 BAA. First-pitch strike? .143 BAA. Problem is Ortiz is throwing that FPB 17 out of 31 ABs so far this season. And settling in has been a problem. Pitches 1-15 have resulted in 7x16 with 1HR, 4RBI and 3 doubles.

Last start, Thursday at Pittsburgh:
4.2IP, 5H, 3ER, 2K:2BB.

Efficiency in pitches will be huge for Ortiz - last start it took 99 pitches to get through 21 batters (and only 14 outs). Problem, is, the Dodgers are averaging 3.94 pitches per plate appearance.


Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw got a no-decision last Wednesday against the Giants, but like many an Astro starter, deserved much better. Check the stats: 7IP, 1H, 1ER, 13K:1BB
Batters are hitting .081/.186/.189 against Kershaw, with 19K:5BB so far this season. Kershaw has given up two extra-base hits all season - just so you know.

2008 splits:

Away2-35.36 ERA/1.72 WHIP5 HR41K:29BB
vs. HOU0-04.77 ERA/1.41 WHIP0 HR4K:2BB

July 1ND5.2IP6H/3ER4K:2BB

Limited sample in one career start, but here it is


About this RISP thing...

Let's take a gander as to how the Astros are doing with RISP. I mean, we all know it's bad, but how bad?


Bugs & Cranks interview with J.R. Richard

Got an e-mail from Landon, over at Bugs and Cranks. They've posted an excellent interview with the one and only J.R. Richard.

An excerpt:
B&C: In 1980, when did you first notice that you weren’t feeling right?

J.R.: I noticed that I wasn’t feeling right early in the month of June. To tell you the truth, in May, I wasn’t feeling right in May. And there had been times before that where I wasn’t feeling up to par, so I told the Astros, “Something is wrong, something is wrong.” So they sent me to different doctors and all of this, and the doctors couldn’t find anything so they just said, “Oh, it’s all in his head,” but I knew it wasn’t all in my head. And the reason why was because I never did debate the issue about it being healed, being better, what was really wrong, because I didn’t know what it was. But I knew there was something wrong.

Click the link to read the full transcript.

Brandon Backe is a delicate duckling

His analogy, not mine.

Backe threw a bullpen session Monday, and will throw a three-inning simulated game on Wednesday. Provided everything checks out, Backe will go on a minor-league assignment(s).

"That will be one more test before I go out in a real game situation in the Minor Leagues," he said, referring to the simulated game. "If I can get out from under the wing of the Astros babyness -- I'm not saying that in a bad way, but it's time for me to go off and leave my mother, so to speak."


Doug Brocail will head to The Rock on Friday for a rehab assignment, and is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.


Brian Moehler was fitted for a knee brace and will throw off the mound for the first time since landing on the DL today.

That was your Series: Astros vs. Reds

Friday: 2-1L
Saturday: 7-0W
Sunday: 4-2L
Monday: 4-3L

Most telling stat: 34 hits + 17 walks = 13 runs



Power Rankings - Week 3

Week 3 Power Rankings, from ESPN:

Houston Astros
29th (LW: 29th)
The Astros are last in the majors in runs scored (36), and Miguel Tejada, who's hitting .368, has no home runs and only one RBI.

NLC roundup:
Cubs - 3rd
Cardinals - 5th
Reds - 12th
Pirates - 20th
Brewers - 27th

And from Fox Sports:

27th (LW 29th)
Don't blame Cecil, this club is put together horribly. And the skip will get another chance to see just how poorly in 2010.

Cubs - 5th
Cardinals - 10th
Reds - 15th
Pirates - 16th
Brewers - 25th

Reactions to G13 - Reds at Astros

Another tough loss to the Reds at home last night, 4-2. Here are the thoughts:

“We still haven’t gotten the big hit. I’ve had a lot of opportunities. I think everyone has. Once again, we didn’t get it done. I’m going to be a winner. I’m going to find a way. In those times I want to be up to bat. This time I didn’t get them, but tomorrow’s a new day. This is where you find out what you’re made of when times get tough.”

I'll respectfully disagree with Mr. Pence. Berkman and Lee got two pretty big hits back-to-back to get the lead. Pence is 0x4 with 4Ks with the bases loaded this year...

“It was just one of those games. It’s one that we feel — I know I feel — we let slip away.”

“I know I’m sounding like a broken record. But another good outing from our starting pitching. We’re still scratching to try to get a big hit when we need one. And our bullpen needs to tighten up a little bit.”

“It (stinks). They’re going out and giving us quality starts. And as a bullpen we have to go out there and do our job and keep the lead.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz:
With two lefthanders set to start for the Dodgers against the Astros, it might be time to drop Berkman to cleanup or fifth or put Lee at third or fifth. You can complain about the lineup only so much before people say, "Well, who in the heck is writing up the lineup card?" Coop, it's time to make some of your stars upset. Make them earn their place in the lineup instead of waiting for them to match the numbers on the back of their baseball cards, which show what you've done in the past, not what you're going to do. And the bullpen should be placed on notice, too. Other than Jose Valverde and Brocail and LaTroy Hawkins and Chris Sampson, nobody's job should be safe in the bullpen. If Geary continues to struggle, call up Alberto Arias or Bud Norris. If Felipe Paulino impresses in his next start, maybe it's time to keep him and put Brian Moehler in long relief after he returns.

Bronson Arroyo:
“We’ve got to keep riding the wave. Everything’s falling in place for us.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

Recap - G13, Reds at Astros

Last year the Reds won three games against the Astros all season long. The Reds won three games this series. The story of the night was, again, the piss-poor bullpen. Let's regard this series so far:

Friday night:
Oswalt leaves up 1-0, Astros lose 2-1

Wandy dominates, Astros win 7-0

Paulino leaves up 1-0, Astros lose 4-2

Hampton leaves up 3-2, Astros lose 4-3

So with a solid, perfect bullpen the Astros sweep a four-game series against a division rival at home and push their record to 7-8. Now they're 4-9 and reeling facing the NL's hottest team in the Dodgers.

Last night Byrdak walked the first batter he faced, and Geary got lit up, taking the loss. Tonight, it was the other way around. Geary gave up an infield single to Taveras and then walked Jerry Hairston. Byrdak came in and got lit up for a 2-run double where Votto ended up on third. A perfect throw from Tejada nailed Hairston at the plate and prevented the 5th run from scoring.

Hampton: 6.1IP, 8H, 3ER, 5K:1BB
Geary: IP, 1H, 1ER 0K:1BB
Byrdak: .2IP, 1H, 1K
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K:1BB
Valverde: 1IP, 1K

Hampton started out a little rough, allowing two runs in the 1st in which he couldn't keep the ball down, and then he settled in. In his start last Wednesday against Pittsburgh, Hampton got ahead of batters, and he pitched brilliantly. In the first inning, three of the five batters he faced got a first-pitch ball. Two of them scored. The rest of the evening, 12 of the 21 batters got first-pitch strikes. None of them scored. Valverde worked a perfect inning, touching 96mph (I'll refrain from mentioning that he got taken to deep right, and a basket catch by Pence saved it from being extra-bases).


Offensively, it was kind of fun - for a while. Berkman and Lee went back-to-back, with Lee narrowly missing a home run in the 2nd inning. Blum was hitting 1x19 off Arroyo coming in, and got three hits. Hunter Pence got two hits, but managed to get squeezed in a quality AB and struck out looking with the bases loaded in the 8th, down 4-3. The Astros had Michaels on 3rd and Tejada on 1st with Berkman up, who popped up to shallow right; Lee walked; and Pence got rung up on a pitch that looked a little low. The Astros got 10 hits, but with Pudge getting a CS, GIDPs from Pudge and Tejada, and Pence looking like Willie Mays-Hayes trying to stretch a single into a double, the Astros are pretty good at taking themselves off the basepaths.

Man of the Match:
Geoff Blum. Went 3x4 and his .341 average is 2nd on the team.

Goat of the Game:
Geoff Geary. Didn't have time to break a sweat before Votto's double (triple) gave him whiplash and got the go-ahead runs across the plate.

Jayson Stark tells us to enjoy what Roy Oswalt has done.

New column from Jayson Stark where he separates reality from illusion to this point in the baseball season. Fun, right? I don't imagine he has much else to do. But then he started messing with Roy:

After two messy starts, Oswalt threw six shutout innings against the Reds on Friday. But the baseball community no longer talks about him with anywhere near the reverence it used to. "He's definitely now more heart that stuff," one NL executive said. "I love him, but I think the arrow is pointing down. He used to have an overpowering fastball. Now it's not there. His curve is still a good pitch. But it's not a power strikeout pitch. He still has good enough stuff, but he lacks that put-away stuff he used to have."

Those Lexington pitchers? One of 'em might be the next Tim Redding.

But that's a good thing.

McTaggart posted a blog on the depth of pitching being assembled at Lexington. Righties Ross Seaton, Robert Bono, Jordan Lyles, Kyle Greenwalt and lefthander Brad Dydalewicz are killing it up in Kentucky. And trust me, gentle reader, I will go see them and give you a full report.

As mentioned on Eddie's Farm, Tags points this out:
Through April 19, the five were a combined 5-2 with a 1.18 ERA in nine starts. Seaton (1-1, 1.64), Bono (2-0, 0.00), Dydalewicz (1-0, 0.00) Lyles (1-1, 3.12) had each made two starts, and Greenwalt (0-1, 1.80) had made one.

Astros Farm Director Ricky Bennett:
"We were hoping they showed us enough to make the jump from rookie ball to the full-season club. Between the instructional league and spring training, they all made huge strides and we felt comfortable they could handle this level together. Now they're here and becoming tighter, creating a bond and competing against one another. They all have enough talent to pitch at the major league level. But we all know there are bumps in the round along the way. From a talent standpoint and maturity standpoint, we're hoping they're up to the challenge."

The last time the Astros had such a talented group of young pitchers come through their system was a decade ago when Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller, Carlos Hernandez and Tim Redding were turning heads.

As requested: Team Stats and Rankings!

Let's feel worse about ourselves by looking at some the team rankings for the Astros today:

Hits: (T)25th - 96
Doubles: 29th - 16
Homers: (T)26th - 9
Runs: 30th - 36
Walks: 17th - 45
Strikeouts: (T)4th-best - 74
GIDP: 19th - 9
Stolen Bases: 16th - 6
Caught Stealing: 29th - 4
Avg: 23rd - .242
OBP: 22nd - .318
SLG: 25th - .366

ERA: 14th - 4.46
WHIP: 18th - 1.48
BAA: 20th - .273
Strikeouts: 22nd - 79
Walks: 11th - 44
HRs: 13th - 12

Depressing e-mail from a Reds' fan

Got this in the ol' inbox this morning:

I’ll say this after watching your Astros for 3 days, Jason Smith ain’t a big league hitter. Berkman is frustrated. Tejada is the only one hitting. Bourn’s OBP will not top .330 at the end of the year. Your bullpen will be where leads go to die and many of your starters will feel like Aaron Harang did the other night.

Of course my Reds have four regulars hitting on the interstate and one under it. Thank the almighty for Micah Owings. It is sad that a pitcher is the best pinch hitter and right handed power bat we have. I can’t take much more of Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Phillips long ugly swings. They are killing us."

This is hard to refute. So I won't.

Matchup for G13 - Reds @ Astros

Mike Hampton

Hampton has been a nice little surprise for the Astros - and at the same time a huge sigh of relief, so far, for Ed Wade. First start, April 10 @ St. Louis, Hampton threw 92 pitches to 24 batters, and only got 15 of them out, walking 4 and strking out 5. Second start, April 15 @ Pittsburgh, Hampton shined, throwing 95 pitches to 22 batters, striking out eight and walking one.

Let's have a gander at Hampton so far this season:
11IP, 8H, 3ER, 13K:5BB. 0HR. 2.46 ERA/ 1.18 WHIP

Lefties are hitting .294, Righties a silly .130. And this is interesting: when Hampton gets out to a 1-0 start, batters hit .083 (1x12); When Hampton throws a first-pitch strike, batters hit .318 (7x22).

Bronson Arroyo

And the Astros will face rock star, and sometime pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo has been dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. Just so you know. Draw your own conclusions from that. After 0-1, batters are hitting 5x26 (.192); after 1-0, batters have hit 5x14 (.357) so far this season.

2008 splits:

20092-04.38 ERA/1.46 WHIP1 HR7K:6BB
@ MIL1W6.1IP4H/1ER3K:4BB

2008 splits:

Away7-45.76 ERA/1.66 WHIP15 HR67K:35BB
vs. HOU1-36.12 ERA/1.40 WHIP2 HR18K:7BB

Apr 23 HL3.2IP10H/8ER5K:1BB
July 29 AL6.1IP8H/6ER3K:0BB
Aug 9 HL6IP5H/2ER7K:4BB
Aug 26 AW9IP5H/1ER3K:2BB

A reminder: I only select players with at least 5 ABs.


Welcome, Citizen Seth

Today we welcome a new citizen to Astros County, Citizen Seth. I asked questions, he provided answers. If you'd like to join, send an e-mail and be prepared to answer some questions...

AC: If you could punch one Astro in the face, it would be...
CS: Drayton McLane. I wish I could go back in time about 4 years ago and punch him in the face and force him to sign all of the draft picks that he low-balled in that time period. As bad as the Astros drafted, they would not be in near of a pickle if they would have signed a lot of those draft picks... instead of not offering them too much money to please Bud Selig (another guy I would like to punch for the "Home" series he gave the Astros last year in Milwaukee vs. the Cubs down the stretch during the hurricane). Sorry, I'll step down off the soap box. Basically, Drayton has got us in trouble by buying high and selling low, way too many times.

If he doesn't count because he's not an actual player, I would have to say Geoff Blum. I witnessed him hit the home run in game 3 of the 2005 World Series that ended up beating the Astros. I wouldn't hit him hard, it would just be a jokingly done love tap.

AC: What is it going to take for the Astros to make it to the playoffs?
CS: That's simple... it's going to take overacheivement. I am going to say that the magic number is 4. 4 players are going to have to have breakout/career/comeback type seasons. That is of course taking for granted that Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Jose Valverde, and the rest of the bullpen perform like they are expected to. After that, some players are going to have to breakout like Michael Bourn or maybe even a Felipe Paulino who currently looks solid against the Reds. Career seasons from possibly Wandy Rogriguez, Blum/Keppinger, or Hunter Pence. Maybe we can get comeback seasons out of Pudge, Hampton, or Ortiz. In summary, 4 of those players listed in the breakout/career/comeback list need to play very well.

AC: If the Astros traded (one of) Berkman, Valverde, or Oswalt, I would be okay with...
CS: 1. Valverde
2. Berkman
3. Oswalt

I would be ok with Valverde being traded. It wouldn't break my heart... as long as we got decent return out of it. I would only be ok with trading Lance and Roy if we were so far out of it that it was time to do a complete rebuild or if they wanted out.

AC: How long before the Astros make it to the World Series?
CS: You never know with these guys... Sadly, I think it will be at least 4 or 5 years with the way the "retooling" is taking place. They are rebuilding the farm system, yet keeping it clogged up top with older players. When these older players start to phase out and the Jason Castros era starts to take over... maybe we can compete for it then.

It will not be until we have a rotation rivaling the 2005 rotation.

AC: Who's in the Hall of Fame first: Biggio or Bagwell?
CS: That is a tough... tough question. I'm going to go with Biggio. To me, Biggio is the definition of a team baseball player. Not the biggest, strongest, or fastest, but he could just play ball. Played for one team, switched positions 3 times, and was the clubhouse leader. Yep, Biggio gets in first also because Bagwell plays a position where offensive numbers usually come from. Biggio being a catcher/2nd basemen, his offensive numbers are more impressive.

Offensive Leaderboard Look

This morning let's take a look at who is on the 1st page of the leaderboards:

(T)5th - Miguel Tejada, 18

22nd - Carlos Lee, 4

Stolen Bases:
(T)24th - Michael Bourn, 2

Caught Stealing:
(T)1st - Kaz Matsui, 2

(T)4th - Lance Berkman, 12

(T)29th - Lance Berkman, 12

(T)16th - Miguel Tejada, .383

30th - Miguel Tejada, .431

Depressing, no?

Can you hear the bells? It's the Meat Wagon...

More news - none of it really bad - on the injury front:

Matsui again did not start, meaning he has missed five of the Astros' 12 games this season, but did enter yesterday's game in the 8th. Depending on how he feels this morning, Matsui could be back in the lineup tonight.

“I feel fine. I want to start (today).”

Jeff Keppinger will likely avoid the DL, even though he has missed three straight game.

Doug Brocail threw yesterday, and is on schedule to rejoin the team when he comes off the DL next Sunday.

“It (his shoulder) bounced back quicker than I was hoping, quicker than I expected. I don’t think a rehab (stint) will be necessary. After (today’s) outing, I’ll throw all my pitches and then have maybe two days off and then do like (Brandon) Backe did (in a simulated game on Saturday) and then get their input.”

That was a lot of parentheses.

And Felipe Paulino could be in the rotation for a while longer. Brian Moehler will throw a bullpen session tomorrow - the first time he'll throw since the Pirates game. One more session and then the rehab starts begin - which JJO indicated could be more than one:

Moehler might need to make a few starts on a rehab assignment, considering he hasn’t lasted longer than 2.1 innings in a start this season.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Eddie's Farm: Week 2

Second installment of Eddie's Farm, where we look at how the Astros of July will look.

Round Rock
4-7, last place, 1GB



Corpus Christi
(statistics through yesterday's game - not today's).

Van Ostrand7x13.538/.700/.5380-23:4


Lexington Legends
6-4, 1GB



Lancaster JetHawks
3-7, 5GB
(statistics through yesterday's game - not today's).



Reactions to G12 - Reds at Astros

"The only thing that’s frustrating is that we have 50 chances to score runs during the game and we don’t do it. This is on our offense. We keep getting pitching like that, we’re going to win a lot of games."

"What did we leave on, 13? That won't get it done. Offensively, we need to do a better job of executing. I think we have only had one game this year where we have really opened it up, and actually, it was last night. We need to do a better job of that. I know they will. I am getting a little impatient, but I know they will. We had plenty of chances and we had the bases loaded at least twice with one out against Volquez. And then in the last three innings, we had their seventh, eighth and ninth-inning guys on the ropes, and we don't get a hit. We need to get hits in those situations. We had the right people up. We're just not hitting, and we have to pick it up in that area."

Geary, on Owings' double:
"There’s nothing tough about facing a pitcher in comparison to a hitter. You make a pitch according to how the game was going. He’s a fastball-hitting pitcher. I was given a choice of throwing a fastball or a slider or curveball away. I thought well if I can throw a fastball in off the plate the most he could do was roll over it. I watched the video. He opened up his front side, got greedy and hit it off the wall. I won’t make that mistake again."

And then on the error:
"Lance said third, but I thought he was going to get hit if I went to third. So when I threw the ball I threw to where Smith was at the time I saw him. Rather than leading the throw to the bag, I threw it off to what would be the inside part of the bag."

Recap for G12, Astros vs Reds

I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong, and I was flat-out wrong about the decision to throw Paulino. Is Easy Eddie omnipotent? Perhaps. Did he get lucky? Perhaps. Regardless, he made a decision, and it worked out. That said, Geoff Geary owes Felipe Paulino an apology. And Byrdak probably ought to be standing there, too. Paulino threw a pretty stellar game, and the bullpen came in and wasted another quality start for the second time this series, losing 4-1 to the Reds and blowing a chance to go 3-3 at home this season. Byrdak walked Jerry Hairston, Jr, and then Geary did this:

1-2 single to Hernandez
1-1 sac bunt to Gonzelez, throwing error on Geary that scores Hairston and sends Hernandez to 3rd
1st pitch double to pinch-hitter/sometime-pitcher Micah Owings that scored Hernandez and Gonzalez
1-0 HBP on Taveras
Dickerson strikes out swinging
3-0 GIDP to Votto

Yep, that's on Geary. Hard to fault Coop for pulling Paulino after 95 pitches, but he was cruising, getting 3up/3down innings in the 5th and 6th.

Paulino: 6IP, 3H, 0ER, 6K:2BB
Byrdak: 0IP (1bf), 1ER, 1BB
Geary: 1IP, 2H, 1ER, 1K
Fulchino: 1IP, 1H, 1K
Sampson: 1IP, 1H, 1ER


And those Astros. Tejada was pretty much all the good stuff that happened today. 3x5 with an RBI. The Astros walked a whole bunch of times: eight, in fact. But the 10 strikeouts hurt pretty bad. And speaking of those walks, it's worth noting that Berkman has now drawn his 12th walk of the season. That's an average of .200, with an on-base percentage of .385. The average is the worst average among Astros with 20+ ABs. The OBP, meanwhile, is the 2nd best on the team with the same criteria.

The GIDP was a problem today, as the Astros had two of those - when Geoff Blum did it in the 6th with the bases loaded in a 1-0 game; and when Berkman did it in the 7th with two men on. It's also worth noting that Jason Smith went 0x3 with 2Ks. that's 0x17 with 8K:0BB. Yep, not on base in the first two weeks of the season. I know we're dealing with a relatively small sample size of 500+ ABs, but Smith has - in two weeks - lowered his career batting average almost seven points.

Man of the Match:
I really thought about giving it to Tejada, but it's got to go to Paulino. Moehler won't come off the DL until April 30, so that means Paulino would presumably get another start on the 29th at Cincinnati - so that could be handy.

Goat of the Game:
Geoff Geary. Totally blew it.

Matchup for G12 - Reds at Astros

The Astros will try to ensure a split today as spot-starter Felipe Paulino will take on the Reds' Edinson Volquez. How will Paulino fare? Who's to say? He struggled in Spring Training, claims he feels better, and after dominating in two starts at Round Rock, will try his luck today in his first start since September 30, 2007 (vs. Atlanta - 6IP, 2H, 1W)

Edinson Volquez

Last start (Tuesday 7-6 win at Milwaukee):
5IP, 7H, 6ER, 4K:4BB;

So far this season Volquez has struggled in his two starts. Home versus the Mets on Apr 8, Volquez gave up 4ER in 4.1IP, and then gave up 6ER in 5IP at Milwaukee, but the Reds have managed to go 1-1 when he pitches. The problem could be in the number of pitches - 206 in 50 batters faced - and the GB/FB ratio of 18:14. Lefties are hitting .316, righties .318 this season. And if you get a first-pitch ball, get ready, because hitters are 7x18 (.389/.542/.722) off of him after 1-0. However, it doesn't change the fact that last year Volquez dominated the Astros in two starts, winning both.

2008 splits:

vs. HOU2-01.32 ERA/1.02 WHIP3 HR14K:2BB

July 30 AW6.1IP6H/1ER5K:1BB
Sept 23 AW7.1IP6H/1ER9K:1BB


FanGraphs ranks the Astros' farm system somewhere below the Pawtucket Red Sox' farm system

I'll give a nod of the head to the Crawfish Boxes for having this article linked. It's pretty interesting. Fair and balanced headline: Houston...What Are You Doing?

No, Sutton is probably not going to be a perennial All-Star at the Major League level. He may top out as a utility player not unlike Mr. Keppinger. However, he has the potential to be much, much more. But Houston either does not see that, or understand how that might be more valuable than a dime-a-dozen, established utility player with limited defensive skills whose value lies in hitting southpaws (.354 career vs .261). At the end of the day, it’s yet another questionable move for Houston, which has a laughable minor league system. And the Cincinnati Reds organization continues to overflow with minor league talent and depth.

Reactions to G11 - Reds at Astros

"Vamos! Vamos!"

Cooper, on Wandy's demeanor during the game (and the aforementioned quote):
"I have never seen him do that before. That’s probably as much emotion as he’s ever shown. And I think it’s good. I think it’s good for him, but I’m going to tell you the guy (Ivan Rodriguez) who has been squatting and catching for him has been a godsend. I think they really connect. Wandy’s been as good as any pitcher in the game right now. He’s really thrown the ball well."

Pudge, on Wandy:
"He did a great job. What he did good today was he threw a lot of strike ones. He used the fastball a lot and his breaking ball was very good today. It was a 12-6 break and just kept them off balance."

Tejada, on Wandy:
“He’s showing more emotion now. Now when he gets an out, you can tell that he’s fighting. And I think he needs that. I think the form in which he pitched today it’s going to help us. Especially with the help he’s getting from Pudge, I think he’s going to be fine.”

Dusty Baker, on Wandy:
"That’s the best curveball I’ve seen him have. He had a good mile-per-hour differential between his fastball and curve.”

Aaron Harang, on the Astros' offense:
"“They were hitting everything right where nobody was. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Screw You, Screw You, Screw You, You're Okay, Screw You

Take that, Ken Rosenthal. Take that, Tracy Ringolsby.

The Astros picked up Coop's option, ensuring that he will be The Unsightly Man in the Astros Uniform through 2010.

Says Run-DMc:
“We wanted to eliminate any confusion and lack of focus from the baseball team. So Ed and Tal approached me several days ago, and I said absolutely. We wanted to wait when we got back to Houston and we got this opportunity in our ballpark to announce that.”

Says Ed Wade:
"I didn't see confusion... It just stops all that background noise for whatever reason, off-days, national columns, things of that nature," In other words, taste my pain, Ken Rosenthal.

Says Michael Bourn:
“That’s good for him. This might can make him relax now. It gives him confidence because he really is a good manager and he was a great player, too.”

Says Tejada:
“This is very good, great. This is very good for Coop because he’s a very hard working man. He’s a respectable man, and I think he deserves this.”

Says Coop:
"It is comforting to know that you're going to be with an organization for a while. And when I came over here in '05 (as Phil Garner's bench coach), they made me (feel) welcome, Drayton, Tal, and heck, all the leaders here. And heck, I feel like I was brought up in this organization. It's a great organization, they treat people well, and I'm tickled to be associated with it and glad that we're going to go forward."

Just so you realize, Coop was 2x5 in "heck"'s in this interview.