Saturday, May 9, 2009

Recap for G31 - Padres at Astros

Another Astros starter goes seven innings, and STILL the bullpen tries to screw it up. But the Astros rallied in the bottom of the 8th while LaHawk got a 4-out appearance to preserve a 5-4 win.

Moehler: 7IP, 5H, 1ER, 6K:1BB
Geary: .1IP, 2H, 2ER
Arias: .1IP, 0H
Wright: 0IP, 1H, 1ER
LaHawk: 1.1IP, 2H

Nice to have Brian Moehler back, and I kind of feel bad for saying all those mean things about him in his first two starts - and I will continue to feel bad until (if) he nuts another start. Both starters - Moehler and Correia - had pretty good games. Correia only gave up four hits and three walks in his six innings, and then the bullpen nutted it for him. Just like the Astros' bullpen almost did.

Moehler retired the first six batters he faced, then got into a little trouble in the third, putting runners on 2nd/3rd with just one out. Then he got Brian Giles to lineout to short and David Eckstein to pop up to 2nd. Inning over. In the 6th, after giving up two doubles to give the Padres a 1-0 lead, Moehler then got Adrian Gonzalez to ground into a double play.

But then the 8th inning happened. Geary threw a first-pitch ball to Chris Burke - that Chris Burke - and then gave up a double on the second pitch. He got Brian Giles, and then Astro-killer Eckstein singled, scoring Burke. Then Arias struck out Scott Hairston, and Wright came in - who gave up a single to Gonzalez - and LaHawk came in to complete the carousel, who then gave up a double to Chase Headley. Then he hit Kevin Kouzmanoff. Luckily Nick Hundley fouled out with runners on 2nd/3rd, but the Padres had a 4-3 lead, undoing in one inning what Moehler had accomplished in seven. Chris Burke doubled again in the 9th with one out, but the Padres left the tying run in scoring position.

First-pitch strikes: 14
First-pitch balls: 11


The 6th inning saw some good hitting from the Astros. After Bourn stole 2nd and Pence walked, Carlos Lee singled scoring Bourn and Tejada's sac fly scored Pence to put the Astros on top 2-1. The 8th was where it got really exciting. After allowing the Padres to take the lead in the top of the inning, Bourn got himself a lead-off walk. And then Pence walked, too. Both advanced on a wild pitch by Cla Meredith and a Carlos Lee single scored Bourn. When Tejada grounded into a fielder's choice, Pence scored and the Astros kept the lead for good.

Longest AB of the night: 10 pitches by J.R. Towles in the 3rd.

Man of the Match:
Let's give it to Carlos Lee. 3x4 with 2RBI, both of which tied the game (at the time). Brian Moehler pitched extremely well, giving the bullpen another break - even though it took four relievers to finish the two innings.

Goat of the Game:
Everyone in the bullpen should get a Goat, but everyone screwed everyone else's ERA, so it's hard to narrow it down. Let's go with Geoff Blum. 0x3 with 4LOBs. Blum's average fell from .333 on April 26 to what is now a .253 average. He has two hits in his last 26 ABs.

Lineup for May 9 vs Padres

1) Matsui
2) Bourn
3) Pence
4) Lee
5) Tejada
6) Blum
7) Erstad
8) Towles

Berkman out tonight and probably tomorrow

Update from Alyson Footer: Berkman probably out tonight after one swing in a BP session, and is probably out tomorrow.

"It's not a good sign. I don't like missing games, but there's no point in going out there and letting this linger."

Matchup for G31 - Padres at Astros

If you look at the standings this morning, you'll see something different. A team underneath "Houston." The Pirates and Astros have the same 12-17 record, but because of the two games the Astros took in Pittsburgh...5th place! Brian Moehler will go out and try to make this thing a streak this fine evening against the Padres versus Kevin Correia.

Brian Moehler
We saw a softer side of Brian Moehler last time out - one slightly more reminiscent of 2008. Let's take a look at the difference:

First two starts:
4IP, 15H/12ER, 1K:2BB. Five swinging strikes. .600/.643/.800

Last start:
5IP, 8H/2ER, 5K:2BB. Eight swinging strikes.

While the 10 baserunners in five innings isn't exactly desirable, let's hope that May Moehler is here to stay, and April Moehler can stay away.

Since we're talking about two different Moehlers, we're going to skip the splits for this start, and pick it back up May 15. But let's look at Moehler's career vs current Padres (4 AB minimum):


Kevin Correia

Correia spent parts of the last six seasons with the Giants - throwing almost 400 innings - before coming to the Padres in '09. He has started five games this season as the Padres SP4 and is 0-2 with a 5.92 ERA.

Last three starts:

4/24 vPIT53/33:48/795/51
4/29 @COL56/34:46/9101/59
5/4 vCOL3.18/54:26/779/48

You can see that strikeout to walk ratio is pretty low, but he should be rested as he only threw 79 pitches in his last outing. Correia hasn't thrown more than 5IPs since his first start of the season, when he went six innings against the Dodgers.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 14x44, .318/.340/.409, 11K:2BB
vs Lefties: 13x47, .277/.452/.362, 10K:14BB (that's a lot of walks to lefties)

After First-Pitch Strikes (56): .245/.327/.265, 17K:5BB
After First-Pitch Balls (43): .367/.524/.600, 4K:11BB

RISP: 6x22, .273/.414/.409, 3K:6BB
Runners on: 13x37, .351/.490/.486, 6K:11BB
2OwRISP: 3x10, .300/.500/.600, 1K:0BB

A couple of interesting notes: Correia has not allowed a stolen base, has only allowed four extra-base hits, and the two home runs he allowed - both against Colorado - came with two outs. And perhaps most interesting, if the ball is hit to the outfield off Correia - which has happened 36 times, it has landed for a hit 24 of those times.

A harsh, yet fair callout from the Corpus Christi paper

Joel Roza, of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, broke the Astros down in an excellent column today.

Roza points out that the Astros have had four Texas League Pitchers of the Year since 2000. Who are they?

Tim Redding
Kirk Saarloos
Jason Hirsh
Matt Albers

An excerpt:
Hirsh and Albers are the ones that really hurt. They were seen as truly dominant starters in waiting, but they were misused and traded prematurely in two of the most awful deals this decade (Jason Jennings and Miguel Tejada). Albers has been converted into a full-time relief pitcher, though he was recently demoted back to the minors after a rough start. His young career is already in a nosedive at 7-17 with a 5.33 ERA for his career. Hirsh’s story is still much the same as it was in Houston. The Rockies are still unsure about where he belongs and so his injury-plagued start in Major League Baseball continues to disappoint (8-11/5.32 ERA).

The point of this is that the Houston Astros have been ranked dead last in overall organizational talent for two consecutive seasons by Baseball America for a reason. They bring up studs, abuse their arms in the name of getting overpriced, underachieving veterans the innings they feel they’re entitled to and then deal them off in typically awful trades....

The Astros claim to be on their way back to restocking the farm system and are hoping to welcome the likes of Kyle Greenwalt, Jordan Lyles, Ross Seaton and Brad Dydalewicz to Houston in the next couple of years. The keys to success for Houston will be the same as they’ve always been – groom your prospects and give them a fair shot at achieving big league success. A starter won’t flourish in the bullpen. It has happened before, but it’s a dangerous practice – especially with a young player. It can damage the best of arms both physically and mentally. Patience will be a major factor as well. It’s a major jump coming from the minors to The Show. Everyone wishes prospects would be a lot like Roy Oswalt, who pretty much came in and took the ace role as soon as he arrived. But that’s a one-in-a-million type of deal. But you never know until it happens. Here’s hoping the Astros stay true to their word and re-discover that secret ingredient.

Read the whole thing - it's a good column.

Young'un of the Day: May 8

Round Rock
Round Rock won a shootout last night against Oklahoma City, 12-10, with Abercrombie, Manzella, Bogusevic, Saccomanno, Ramirez and Gall all having multi-hit games. But the YotD, or whatever we're going to call it, goes to Tommy Manzella. 3x4 with a double, a homer, and 4RBI. Josh Muecke went 4.2 and gave up 10H/8ER, 3K:4BB. Chad Paronto got his 8th save of the season with two scoreless innings.

Corpus Christi
Corpus got a 5-2 win over Midland last night as eight different Hooks got a hit - Drew Locke had a 2-run double. However, this game was about another successful rehab start at Double-A for Backe. Backe's line was 6IP, 2H/0ER, 7K:4BB. He threw 82 pitches, 54 of them for strikes.

Shutout for the second straight game, the Legends lost to Rome 4-0 - collecting only three hits on the night. Ross Seaton's line: 6IP, 8H/3ER, 2K:0BB. Hard to say who the YotD is here - let's give it to Ricardo Bonfante, two walks in two plate appearances.

The JetHawks scored five runs in the third to beat the Inland Empire 7-5 at home. Interestingly enough, those seven runs came on five hits by five different JetHawks, and of those five hits, four were for extra-bases. YotD goes to Jason Castro, who hit what was described as a "mammoth" two-run homer to right field.

Reactions to G30 - Padres at Astros

Pence, on Wandy:
“There’s a win in Wandy Rodriguez throwing an eight-inning shutout, your pitching doesn’t give up a run and Michael Bourn making Superman catches in the outfield.”

Pence, on Bourn's Superman catch:
“I really didn’t think he was going to get it. It looked like he had a bead on it, but where the ball was hit it’s a tough place to get it. He sacrificed his body for the team.”

“Tonight I feel very strong. My changeup was used a lot, and I had a good one tonight.”

Cooper, on Wandy:
"He pitched terrific. Much, much needed. I tell you what, the young man has really shown a lot this year. He's really grown. He's becoming a big-time pitcher, our most consistent guy by far. "He looked like he was totally in command. His curveball was pretty good. He didn't have a whole lot of deep counts. I thought Wandy was efficient with his pitches and that's what you have to do to stay deep in ballgames."

Wandy, on being aware of the situation with the bullpen:
"Cooper used the bullpen a lot early, and I thought about that, too. I needed to go long, because he used his bullpen a lot. That's what I was thinking in the game."

Cooper, on Bourn:
"He didn't get any hits tonight, but he saved two runs. That's just like getting three or four hits and scoring a bunch of runs. He did a great job tonight."

Chase Headley, on Bourn's catch:
I haven't played at every park, but I feel safe to say that there's not a play to be made on that ball. Most of the time, it's a home run when you hit it like that. It's frustrating. You do everything right at the plate, then that happens. I thought it was two runs for sure, if not three."

Bud Black, on Bourn's catch:
"It changed the whole complexion of the game. If we jump out to a 2-0 lead ... you don't know what happens. Right off the bat, I thought that it was a double. It was a fantastic catch. In today's game, speed showed up."

Chad Gaudin on Pence's 2-run hit:
"He did what I wanted him to do ... hit it in the dirt. I made good pitches. That was a check swing and he hit it where we weren't."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Recap for G30 - Padres at Astros

That is what I'm talking about. We talked about needing an SP to go 6-8 to spell the bullpen, and who stood up and did it? Wandy. That's right, Wandy.

Wandy: 8IP, 5H, 0ER, 7K:0BB
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K

Give it up. That was the pitching performance the Astros needed to go from here. Is this the turnaround for a season? I don't know about that, but when the Astros needed a break, four pitchers had the chance to spell the bullpen, and Wandy came up huge. The Wandy and LaHawk came up for eight strikeouts and zero walks. That's huge. Michael Bourn also made some pretty amazing plays in center.

First-pitch strikes: 16
First-pitch balls: 13

Wandy. Can't get enough. We're seeing a pitcher come into his own. Because, let's be honest. Things aren't going well for the Astros pitching staff, or hitting, or the team in whole. But who gets up for the game? Wandy. He gave up five hits, and two of those in the first inning. That means 7IP of 3H/0ER ball. Three of Wandy's strikeouts started out with a first-pitch ball and got 16 straight Padres at one point.


Once again, the Astros' offense didn't do much - five hits. Four of them from Pence and Lee, the other from Matsui. However, Pence got the two runs on a bloop single to right that scored Pudge and Matsui.

Longest AB of the night: 7 pitches by Darin Erstad

Man of the Match:
Pence provided all the offense with one swing of the bat. But I think you, I, and Coop would take a loss if it meant not using eight relievers to get through a game. So the Man of the Match goes to Wandy. ERA under 2.00. No walks. Let the Astros score 2 runs and win.

Goat of the Game:
I really thought about giving the Goat to Tejada. 0x4 with 3LOB. However, someone has to call out Erstad. The only Astro playing fairly regularly with a worse average than Berkman. In his first start at first-base, Erstad went 0x3 to lower his average to .161. We're talking about Darin Erstad. A career .283 hitter. With five hits on the season, one extra-base hit and two RBI.

Cubs acquire Ryan Freel for Joey Gathright in a three-player deal

The Cubs sent Joey Gathright to Baltimore for Ryan Freel in a three-player trade. Wondering who that 3rd player is? Farney.

It doesn't directly impact the Astros right now. It's just fun to read again.

Lineup for May 8 game vs Padres

1) K. Matsui
2) M. Bourn
3) H. Pence
4) C. Lee
5) M. Tejada
6) G. Blum
7) D. Erstad
8) I. Rodriguez
9) W. Rodriguez

Berkman dropped to 5th

For tonight's game, you may notice a difference. If you're good at using context clues, you already know why (look up). Yep, Berkman will be batting 5th.

“I can’t believe it took this long to be moved out of the three-hole. I’ve been awful. It’s really the only logical thing. I’m sorry that I’ve forced Coop’s hand to this point. Hopefully this will work a little bit better for the team.”

Is he hurt? Maybe. Berkman said he injured his wrist checking a swing last night in the 8th inning against Carlos Marmol:

"I just thought it was a sore wrist. But I had to shut it down. I took about five swings and had to shut it down."

Has he lost some confidence?

“Absolutely. With hitting, a lot of it is confidence. When you’re suffering through an inordinate amount of failure your confidence suffers and that’s how it snowballs because then when you go out there and you swing through a pitch that you normally hit you’re like, ‘What in the world?’ So it gives you not a very good feeling.”

Will he get over it?

“I don’t know, but I’d like to think that. But you know it’s certainly a scary place to be when you don’t have any answers and you don’t see really any improvement in your performance. The only thing (is that) in 2007 it was similar because I felt pretty terrible all the way through May. That was the first. I’d have to go back and look, but I think I had 200 at-bats with one double and maybe like two or three homers, so I think I’ve been in some pretty dire straits from a baseball perspective before. But normally it doesn’t last as long as this one has.”

And then, the most bone-chilling quote of the year:

"I could be the next Andruw Jones. I mean, it’s possible and it’s unexplainable.”

That's funny, because Andruw Jones is still in the League. And it's not funny at all. Not at all.

UPDATE: Berkman will eventually hit 5th, but not tonight. Berkman's been scratched, Erstad gets the start at 1st.

Sean Berry's surgery "successful"

Good news from the Kansas City Star (seriously, Chronicle?). Hitting coach Sean Berry's surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his right kidney was successful.

He'll stay in the hospital for four days and could resume coaching duties within two weeks.

Catching up on transactions

The Astros released two minor-leaguers over the course of the last week. Sayonara, Jason Dominguez and Neal Musser.

Musser, 28, was 0-0 in 4 games with Round Rock. In 7IP, Musser posted a line of 9H/4ER, 7K:4BB, 5.14 ERA/1.86 WHIP.

Dominguez, 23, was 0-0 in 4 games with Lancaster. In 5.2IP, Dominguez had: 15H/10ER, 4K:2BB, 15.88 ERA/3.00 WHIP.

Matchup for G30 - Padres at Astros

The Astros enjoy a three-game set against the Padres this weekend, a team that is 13-16 and has been outscored by 28 runs. The Astros are 11-17 and have been outscored by 24 runs. Good thing - and the best thing for the bullpen - is that Wandy is pitching. And with the exception of last Sunday's game, Wandy hadn't pitched fewer than six innings, or given up more than three earned.

Wandy Rodriguez
Wandy got pulled on Sunday from the last game the Astros won, a 7-5 victory over the Braves, after only 86 pitches and five innings. So if any pitcher this time around is going to go 6-8 innings, it's going to be tonight. Wandy's been the ace of the staff, 2-2 with a 2.19 ERA, and his two wins have come when he pitches seven innings. He's 0-2 with two NDs when pitching six or fewer innings. Bizarre, huh?

Last three starts:

4/23 vLAD65/14:211/7105/67
4/28 @CIN75/15:29/1099/66
5/3 @ATL56/33:38/886/55

Wandy has been fairly efficient - throwing 3.97 pitches per batter - and has yet to give up a home run this season (which means now that I've said it, he'll look like '05 Lidge). But do you want to hear something disgusting? Both of Wandy's losses have come when the Astros have been shutout.

Let's do the splits!
Vs Righties: 25x97, .258/.342/.320, 21K:11BB
Vs Lefties: 2x28, .071/.188/.107, 9K:4BB

First-Pitch Ball: (53) 5x43, 10K:10BB, .116/.283/.163
First-Pitch Strike: (78) 16x68, 20K:5BB, .235/.303/.294

RISP: 5x31, .161/.206/.161, 8K:1BB
Runners on: 12x53, .226/.300/.245, 11K:4BB
2OwRISP: 3x17, .176/.222/.176, 7K:0BB

Here's the thing, Wandy is 1-2 vs the Padres with an 8.10 ERA, with 21H/15ER in his career, though he only faced them once last season:

Apr 2 @ SD: 5IP, 8H/4ER, 6K:1BB - got the ND in a 9-6 win.

Chad Gaudin

Gaudin's contract was purchased by the Padres on Monday, April 27 after being released by the Cubs at the end of Spring Training. He started against the Rockies the next day. Though it seems like he's been around a while (he was once the youngest player in the American League), he is only 26 years old.

Last two starts:

4/28 @COL53/05:48/488/53
5/3 @LA5.28/65:44/1497/62

Gaudin can get some groundballs, but he can also walk some guys, too: 7 in 10.2IP this season.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 5x20, .250/.375/.250, 8K:3BB
vs Lefties: 6x20, .300/.417/.400, 2K:4BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (22): .400/.455/.400, 4K:2BB
After First-Pitch Balls (23): .059/.304/.059, 6K:5BB

RISP: 3x11, .273/.273/.364, 3K:0BB
Runners on: 6x24, .250/.280/.333, 5K:1BB
2OwRISP: 1x5, .200/.200/.200, 1K:0BB

Where the heck did these guys come from?: Lancaster

Based on Deputy Jason's question about where the heck Jonathan Gaston came from, I've worked up a little guide to our farm teams. Today we start with the Lancaster JetHawks, and how the Astros acquired each player...

Fernando Abad - Undrafted Free Agent (UFA), 2002
David Duncan - 5th Round Draft Pick (RDP), 2008
Jose Duran - UFA, 2004
Bryan Hallberg - 12th RDP, 2006
Chris Hicks - 14th RDP, 2008
Jeff Icenogle - UFA, 2006
Reid Kelly - 33rd RDP, 2005
Chia Jen-Lo - UFA, 2008
Jay Pacella - UFA, 2007
Jordan Powell - 35th RDP, 2007
Philip Rummel - 31st RDP, 2008
Sergio Severino - UFA, 2004
Shane Wolf - 26th RDP, 2008

Marcos Cabral - FA, 2009
Craig Corrado - 14th RDP, 2007
David Flores - 18th RDP, 2008
Chris Jackson - 29th RDP, 2008
Christopher Minaker - FA, 2009
Eric Taylor - 30th RDP, 2006

Jonathan Gaston - 7th RDP, 2008
Nick Moresi - 3rd RDP, 2006
Brian Pellegrini - 12th RDP, 2007
Jack (J.B.) Shuck - 6th RDP, 2008
T.J. Steele - 4th RDP, 2008

Jason Castro - 1st RDP, 2008
Jordan Comadena - UFA, 2009

Young'uns of the Day: May 7

Round Rock
Matt Kata went 1x3 with an HBP and 2RBI in a 6-5 loss to New Orleans.

Corpus Christi
The Hooks gave it right back, losing 14-2 to Midland. That said, Collin DeLome hit his 9th HR of the season.

Jordan Lyles threw a 7IP, 7H/1ER, 8K:0BB performance in a 1-0 loss to Rome. The lone run was a solo shot in the 4th inning.

Jonathan Gaston makes his second straight appearance, going 3x3 with a double, walk, and RBI in a 14-5 loss to Lake Elsinore. Gaston now has 11 hits in his last 19 ABs (including eight consecutive hits) and has 4HR, 10RBI, and 8 runs scored in his last three games.

List of Scott Boras clients tied to PEDs

For a guy who has total knowledge of how a player performs, how they stack up against history, what they ingest, how they react to situations, it's hard to imagine that Scott Boras doesn't have a part in what is transpiring in baseball today. I was going to look this morning, after a storm woke me up at 4:30am, at the number of clients Boras represents who have been legitimately tied to PEDs. But the NY Daily News' Michael O'Keeffe beat me to it. Here's the list:

Manny Ramirez
Barry Bonds
Kevin Brown (used Boras' HQ as a return address for cash sent to purchase HGH)
Eric Gagne
Scott Schoeneweis
Rick Ankiel
Ron Villone
Ivan Rodriguez (only linked through Canseco's book, "Juiced." Though that seems to be pretty reliable)
Gary Sheffield

And one more guy...who was it? Crap, what was his name...Oh yeah,

Alex Rodriguez.

As much as I hate to say it, there's a disclaimer. In November 2007 it was reported that Boras represented 65 Major League players and "about that many" Minor Leaguers. With that many clients, Boras is going to have a higher percentage of players who are linked to, or test positive for, PEDs. But the influence of Scott Boras should not be ignored. Now, of Boras' current clientele, are there any Astros?

Short answer: One - Pudge.

Former Astros include Carlos Beltran, Ron Villone, David Newhan.

Berkman and Wade respond to Manny

Man, those guys hate PEDers. (PEDophiles? Is that over the line?)

“It wouldn't surprise me if he (Manny) was on steroids. It's sad to say, but that's the way I feel about it. I wasn't surprised. I think that anybody that makes the game look clownish is under suspicion because it's just not that easy. It's unfortunate that here we go again with another round of steroid questions....

...Absolutely, whatever they've got to do to make sure that the game is clean, they should do it. It's a pain in the rear. I don't want to get tested every time I turn around, but I'll give blood at any moment during the off-season or during the season or whatever they want me to do. As much of an irritation as it is I'll do whatever they want in order to bring some integrity back to the sport.”

Ed Wade:
“It’s unfortunate that we still have things like that occurring in our game. I’m glad that we have the testing program in place. I think this validates the efficiency of the program. A lot of the stuff that’s been discussed revolving around drugs in our game for the past six or seven months or so dealt with things that happened pre-testing. Now I believe we have three players suspended right now for positive drug tests within the last year. And there are several other guys in our game that have served suspensions and are back at this point in time. So I think the program is working and hopefully the message is getting through that players have to take advantage of the resources that they have to make sure that whatever they’re putting into their system is not going to put them in a position that will lead to problems. It’s in their best interest, in the game’s best interest, to have a program in place and for players to follow it to the letter of the law.”

Injury reports fill Astros Notes column

Things worth mentioning:

Sean Berry will have surgery today, probably to remove his kidney after a potentially cancerous tumor was found.

Quintero will begin a four-day rehab assignment in Round Rock. Barring any setbacks, Q is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday. And then it's bye-bye, Towles.

An MRI showed a tear in Brocail's left hamstring, meaning he's out at least a month. If he needs surgery, then it's bye-bye, Brocail. Ed Wade:

“It is something that you can rehab probably in excess of a month. If you were to require surgery to reattach the tendon, it would probably be the season. Obviously, Doug is opting to go the more conservative route and try to rehab it.”

And Roy is scheduled to start Sunday vs. San Diego, on schedule.

Reactions to G29 - Cubs at Astros

8-3 loss in which the F-Bomb/Pitch ratio was very high...

Jose de Jesus Ortiz:
As Cecil Cooper slowly walked to the Minute Maid Park mound in the ninth inning to yank yet another pitcher Thursday night, he seemed to be in a daze as he approached Felipe Paulino, the fourth of five relievers the Astros needed to pick up the pieces for Russ Ortiz.

“I know every guy in here that’s a starter is going to go as long and as hard as they can for as many innings as they can. I think right now we’re in a little bit of a rough patch. That doesn’t mean it’s something that will continue to happen. No starter likes to have to have the bullpen used that much, because these guys need rest just like everybody else.”

Cooper, on yanking Ortiz in the 3rd:
“When do you just sacrifice the game and let them just go? I don’t think you just leave a guy out there to die like that. That’s not the way I do things. I thought we had a chance to hold the game there, and we actually did.”

Piniella, on Lilly:
"Lilly struggled early but he picked it up and he hung in there. Truthfully I was thinking, 'I hope we can just get through five with him.' But I tell you what, he threw six pretty respectable innings."

Recap for G29 - Cubs at Astros

There are teams with bigger problems than the Astros right now. The Dodgers, for instance. The Padres, for instance. But this is not a blog about them. The Astros needed five relievers to clean up Ortiz' mess, who was - once again - ineffective. It's hard to imagine a starter getting pulled in the third inning and not being injured, but that seems to be exactly what happened. Ortiz needed 57 pitches, just over half of them strikes, to get seven outs, allowing six hits and three walks. And you just get the feeling Ortiz is skating on thin ice, though Paulino didn't do anything special, either, needing 43 pitches to allow five hits, two walks and four earned...and two outs. Let's get to the beatdown:

Ortiz: 2.1IP, 6H, 3ER, 1K:3BB
Byrdak: 1.2IP, 1H, 1ER, 1K:0BB
Sampson: 3IP, 1K
Wright: .2IP, 2H, 2K
Paulino: .2IP, 5H, 4ER, 1K:2BB
Arias: .2IP

All in all it took 178 pitches to get those 27 outs, and the pitcher of the night definitely goes to Chris Sampson, who went 3IP, didn't allow a hit, and only needed 33 pitches to do it.

First-pitch strikes: 6
First-pitch balls: 9


Coop should be taking a good hard look at the rotation. Relieving, so far, clearly doesn't suit Paulino - but he was effective as a starter. Sampson, despite what happened the other night, has been on lock. Right now, starting doesn't suit Ortiz. And relieving ain't so hot, either. If the Astros want to start the rebuilding project this season, that's fine with me. But it won't happen. You don't spend $95-100 million on payroll to rebuild. So all of those glaring mistakes - each and every one of them over the past three years - is obvious right now, and will be obvious for a couple of years to come. Now, could the Astros turn it around and make a run for it? Sure. Veterans are veterans for a reason - because they know how to win. But you can't seriously expect a team to go 60-30 after starting 20-50 every season.

The Astros only got eight hits - and Miguel Tejada had half of them. Lee, Pence, Pudge, and Erstad had the other four. Cubs pitchers rung up 11 Astros, and Berkman was the victim four times. Four times! Three of them swinging strikeouts. That's a guy who can't find the ball, and that's not like Berkman. Maybe that biceps tendonitis is worse, or lingering more, than expected.

The Astros' strikes swinging: 17 (eight from Berkman)
The Astros' strikes looking: 28 (four from Berkman)

Longest AB of the night: 7 pitches by Russ Ortiz - how pathetic is that?

Man of the Match:
Sampson was a good candidate, but this one's going to Miggs. 4x5 with his first homer of the year and two doubles. Maybe the guy should get probation before every game - har! har!

Goat of the Game:
I'm not going to give the Goat to Berkman every time he nuts it at the plate. Though 0x5 with 4Ks certainly is deserving. But big picture, the Astros need a starter who maybe could make it to the 6th or 7th inning and spell that bullpen a while. So Russ Ortiz going out and getting 2.1IP in before being yanked is definitely Goat-worthy. Russ Ortiz, get your Goat.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Matchup for G29 - Cubs at Astros

Well this isn't the most favorable of matchups...

Russ Ortiz
Ortiz made his Astros debut in the 3rd inning of that horrible third game of the season vs the Cubs, which surprisingly turned into a slugfest after Moehler crapped the bed (come on, he was hurt). But it wasn't exactly the debut he had in mind. But let's recap the inefficiency of Russ Ortiz.

Last three starts:

4/16 @PIT4.25/32:28/999/54
4/21 vLA53/32:510/5116/64
4/26 vMIL54/23:45/1096/50

So it hasn't gone very well. He has been terribly inefficient, in three starts (the other three appearances were in relief), Ortiz has racked up 311 pitches, 168 for strikes (54.1%), and only 17 were swinging strikes. It's also worth mentioning that 311 pitches were needed for 44 outs - 7.07 pitches per out. Regard his latest appearance, Sunday versus Atlanta, in which Ortiz came in for the 8th inning and recorded one out to two walks (4 out of 12 pitches for strikes).

How did Ortiz do versus the Cubs in that Fateful G3?
Fontenot: Homer to right, strikeout swinging
Theriot: Walk, single to center
Hill: Single to center, strikeout swinging
Soriano: Groundout to short, walk
Fukudome: Ground rule double to right-center, walk
Lee: Strikeout looking, popout to first
Bradley: Strikeout swinging, walk
Ramirez: Strikeout swinging

That's 15 plate appearances, four hits, two for extra-bases, five strikeouts, four walks.

Let's do the splits!
Vs Righties: 8x30, .267/.450/.400, 7K:8BB
Vs Lefties: 9x41, .220/.360/.415, 7K:9BB

First-Pitch Ball: (47) 10x35, 2K:11BB, .286/.468/.400
First-Pitch Strike: (38) 5x31, 12K:6BB, .161/.297/.290

RISP: 4x21, .190/.320/.333, 4K:2BB
Runners on: 8x33, .242/.390/.455, 7K:6BB
2OwRISP: 3x12, .250/.400/.500, 3K:2BB

Ted Lilly

Is anyone else in the Majors named after a president? Because I was more than a little surprised to see that his full name is "Theodore Roosevelt Lilly." Check out his collar - it explains why my cousins refer to him as "Father Ted."

Last three starts:

4/22 vCIN75/12:012/1296/67
4/27 @ARI56/53:44/1396/67
5/2 vFLA85/110:04/15104/76

Lilly is clearly a flyball pitcher, and didn't fare so well in G3 vs the Astros last time around. Remember that one? The 11-6 game where Moehler imploded (come on, he was hurt). What happened for the Astros in G3 vs Lilly?

Matsui: Groundout to 3rd, groundout to third, homer to left
Keppinger: Single to left, homer to left, groundout to third
Berkman: Flyout to center, homer to left, flyout to center
Lee: Flyout to left, popout to 3rd, double to left-center,
Tejada: Popout to 2nd, single to center, flyout to right
Pence: Flyout to center, foulout to catcher
Pudge: Double to center, homer to left
Bourn: Groundout to 1st, strikeout swinging

A couple of things. In 21 ABs - 8 hits, 6 for extra bases. Only one out to the right side of the field.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 24x99, .242/.276/.485, 19K:5BB
vs Lefties: 1x17, .059/.111/.059, 7K:1BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (58): .158/.155/.246, 25K:3BB
After First-Pitch Balls (56): .240/.321/.540, 13K:6BB

RISP: 4x17, .235/.300/.353, 3K:2BB
Runners on: 6x31, .194/.257/.355, 13K:8BB
2OwRISP: 2x10, .200/.333/.400, 2K:2BB

How do the Astros swing it, and against what?

A friendly note from Buster Olney, in this morning's blog post:
Recently, I had a conversation with a member of the Milwaukee Brewers coaching staff who mentioned that the Giants' pitching staff had kept throwing soft stuff against Milwaukee. Obviously, this has the Brewers believing that other teams believe Milwaukee can hit fastballs better than off-speed stuff. So I e-mailed Jonathan Costa, a statistics analyst for ESPN, to ask whether he had some numbers about how teams fared, in total, against fastballs, against changeups, etc. And Jonathan did not disappoint:

I'm not going to give you the rundown on each team, but here are the Astros averages against FBs, Changeups, Curves, and Sliders compared to the League average...

Astros - .284 (16th)
League Avg - .287

Astros - .243 (17th)
League Avg - .249

Astros - .141 (27th)
Avg - .205

Astros - .238 (11th)
Avg - .217

Bar fights: a pitcher's best friend

Brandon Backe could be facing charges for his role in a hotel bar fight after a wedding in Galveston last October. Backe and ten other people were arrested in what officers described as "a riot."

Apparently there's video. Why it's not on YouTube is a crime. Or the fact that leaking it to YouTube is a crime could have something to do with it. Backe will appear in court on Tuesday.

In other legal news, Miggs was officially sentenced to one-year of probation for lying to Congressional investigators.

Could be worse. We could be Dodgers fans.

Young'uns of the Day: May 6

Round Rock
So did Jose Capellan just lose the will to live when he didn't make the rotation? Because I don't know if he noticed, but the rotation isn't exactly set right now. Capellan gave up 8H/4ER in 5IP last night in a 7-3 loss to New Orleans. YotD for The Rock goes to Lou Santangelo, 2x4 with two 2Bs. The Express were 1x12 with RISP.

Corpus Christi
Douglas Arguello threw a complete game 7H/1ER, 6K:0BB performance last night as Corpus beat Midland (do they play anybody else? It's like Siena/Iona down there...) 4-1. Drew Locke and catcher Jonathan Fixler each hit homers (Fixler's a 3-run shot) to account for all Corpus' runs.

Kyle Greenwalt had a rare rough outing, giving up 4ER in 6IP as Lexington lost to Rome 4-2. Brandon Barnes went 2x4 with a triple to earn YotD honors.

The JetHawks beat the piss out of Lake Elsinore, getting 25 hits and 17 runs in a 17-4 whoopin. Lots of candidates for YotD here, but it goes to Jonathan Gaston, who went 5x5 with 3HR and 7RBI. Chia Jen-Lo threw three scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.00.

Astros Notes

Nice little notes column this morning to digest:

Roy is still scheduled to make his next start, Saturday vs the Padres:
“We’ll see how it feels today. I’m not going to throw a bullpen. I might just throw on flat ground. But it should be OK.”

And here's your next photo opportunity!
Berkman, along with Padres and other Astros will host a free baseball clinic at Second Baptist Church on Woodway - Saturday from 8:30-11am. Children 4 and up. Use your kids to get a picture with your PoC and get a prize...

Reactions to G28 - Cubs at Astros

Thoughts and prayers go out to hitting coach Sean Berry after he revealed he has a possibly cancerous tumor in his right kidney.

Hampton, on Berry:
“It just puts things in perspective. No matter how bad it gets on the field you know that’s the bigger issue. We’re human. Though we’re on TV and a lot of people look up to us and what we do, being a professional athlete, it really hits home when you break it down to we’re just people and crazy things happen.”

Coop, on Berry:
“We’ve gone through four or five days that have been really tough for us, travel days and long days at the ballpark. Cannot make excuses. We still got to go out and play. But it was difficult to get the news about Sean.”

“It was a bad day for me behind the plate. I’m human. I feel like I was jumping a little bit behind the plate, trying to reach for the pitch instead of waiting for the pitch and receive it.”

Coop, again:
“But we put ourselves in kind of a bad hole from the start. If we don’t do that we keep the game close and we always have a chance with our offense.”

Cooper, on Harden:
He comes at you with fastball, split and he's got a good arm. We had a chance to get back in it one inning and get a hit, he walked a couple guys. We couldn't get a hit. Then he sailed through three or four innings through seven. He was efficient with his pitches. He's tough."

Piniella, on Bourn:
"Bourn can go get a ball. This young man is developing into a really good, everyday center fielder. He can get the ball as good as any center fielder in baseball. He was pretty close to catching Johnson's."

"As a whole, the road trip was a little tough. With the rain, and our bullpen being used. And if anything, that four-run first, I was like, man, just pitch as long as you can, because I know they need a break down there. They're just getting used and abused, basically. I tried to go as long as I could. It's tough. We tried to battle back, but they had a tough pitcher on the mound."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Recap for G28 - Cubs at Astros

Hm. Once again, a big first inning pretty much sunk the game for the Astros. This time, though, Brian Moehler was nowhere to be found. Mike Hampton was the culprit. Giving up four runs in the first were all the Cubs needed...

Hampton: 5.1IP, 7H, 4ER, 4K:4BB
Arias: 1.2IP, 1H, 1ER, 3K:0BB
Wright: 1IP, 2K
Fulchino: 1IP

Welcome, Alberto Arias! And let's hear it for the Law Offices of Arias, Wright & Fulchino: 3.2IP, 1H/1ER, 5K:0BB. It just hasn't clicked on all cylinders for the pitching staff. Maybe having an extra one will help.

First-pitch strikes: 15
First-pitch balls: 12


Yes, I know the total number of outs added up to 28 - but that's what ESPN gave me. Ridiculous, huh? So Pudge had two passed balls, leading to one run, and that wasn't very fun, either. Berkman kept himself at .300 with a 2-run shot in the 8th off Harden to close the game to 6-3. Pence and Matsui had two hits each while Hampton added his own RBI single in the 4th. Hampton's .273 average is higher than Berkman, Blum, Rodriguez, and Erstad.

Longest AB of the night: 6 pitches by three Astros

Man of the Match:
Lance Berkman. Two-run shot off Harden, stayed at .300.

Goat of the Game:
Could have gone to Tejada, who went 0x4 with 4LOB. It could have gone to Hampton, whose seven hits and four walks in 5.1 was brutal. However, the Goat goes to Pudge. 0x3, a GIDP, and 2PBs that led to two unearned runs for Hampton.

It actually happened. Smith out, Arias up

Holy Hannah. After an 0x21 start, Jason Smith is out, designated for assignment. Alberto Arias is up.

Zachary Levine points out the Astros now have 13 pitchers and 12 position players - first time this season.

Who do you hate?

I'm including a link to an article which is extremely profane, and extremely hilarious.

In essence: A Vikings fan rages on the possibility of the Vikings signing Brett Favre.

This made me think the following: If the Astros signed _________, even if that meant an increase in 10 wins, I would be so opposed that I would bleed out of my eyes. Here's my list:

Tony LaRussa
Carlos Zambrano
David Eckstein
Roger Clemens
Jim Edmonds
Jim Leyritz (1998 hatred; it's the best)

Who you got?

Berkman in danger of not being a .300-hitter, embarrassing me

So...I point to two things whenever my Yankee/Met/Red Sox-fan friends start to get loose and bust my Astro-balls: (1) Roy's career 3.16 ERA (4th among active, if you count Pedro as "active") and the fact that, since he debuted, his 129 wins are the most in the Majors, and (2) Lance's status as a career .300+ hitter. One of those things is about to change.

Lance's batting average is currently .2996 (exactly the same, incidentally, as Chase Utley). In 4,897 ABs, Lance has 1,467 hits. If Lance goes hitless in his first two ABs tonight, his average will drop to .2994 - under .300. At which point if my Yankee, Met, Red Sox fan friends say anything, I will slice them up like a visalia onion.

Young'un of the Day: May 5

Round Rock
It feels like we do this every day. Yordany Ramirez is your YotD for Round Rock after going 4x5 with a double, a homer, 2RBI in an 8-5 win over New Orleans. Bogusevic came in a close second - 2x4, 3RBI and three runs scored

Corpus Christi
Mark Ori, come on down. 3x4 with 3RBI, 3RS. The Hooks defeated Midland 10-3 in a game where Hooks' batters walked eight times to four strikeouts. Casey Hudspeth threw 7IP, 7H/2ER, 4K:2BB.

Robert Bono threw 6IP, 6H/1ER, 5K:2BB in a 4-3 win over Augusta (the Green Jackets. That's cool.), lowering his ERA to 1.61. Bad news, frequent YotD'er Albert Cartwright will be out for "several weeks" with a broken forearm after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. Cartwright was hitting .316 with 3HR.

Jack Shuck went 3x4 with a triple and a walk in a 10-4 loss to Lake Elsinore.

Matchup for G28 - Cubs at Astros

This could get a little ugly. Or it could be totally fine. Two teams who recently lost key pieces to injury (in the Cubs' case, that would be Big Angry Z), and who should be faring better than they have. The Cubs are 14-12, 2.5GB of the Cards and the Astros face Rich Harden today and Ted Lilly tomorrow in a shortened, two-game series. The Astros were 4-3-(1) on their eight-game road trip.

Mike Hampton
Hampton was hit hard last Friday night in Atlanta, and has been both brilliant and piss-poor at times this season. But he hasn't been hurt. Hampton hasn't been getting as many swinging strikes, his last three starts. His lone win of the season - Apr 15 @ Pittsburgh - came when Hampton got 15 swinging strikes. He hasn't had more than 7 in the other four starts.

Last three starts:

4/20 vCIN6.18/35:116/5100/68
4/25 vMIL68/44:311/8101/62
5/1 @ATL4.15/50:210/972/42

Let's do the '09 Splits!
Vs Righties: 22x78, 2HR, 12K:9BB, .282/.364/.385
Vs Lefties: 7x26, 1HR, 10K:2BB, .269/.321/.385

First-Pitch Ball: (47) 6x38, 11K:8BB, .211/.348/.289
First-Pitch Strike: (61) 19x56, 11K:3BB, .339/.383/.482

So what does that mean? Hampton gets comfortable when pitching ahead? Hitters become more aggressive? After throwing a first-pitch strike 61 times (50.8%), Hampton has then thrown a second-pitch strike just 16 times.

RISP: 13x21, .381/.458/.762, 2HR, 2K:3BB
Runners on: 11x42, .262/.392/.452, 10K:9BB
2OwRISP: 5x12, .417/.500/.917, 2K:2BB

Rich Harden

Rich Harden has been hit-or-miss for the Cubs, as well. His ERA is 5.11, but the Cubs have won the last three games Harden started (though he tried his best to lose to the Marlins his last time out.)

Last three starts:

4/21 vCIN63/28:27/692/60
4/26 @STL64/29:22/11107/69
5/1 vFLA3.26/52:48/786/50

So basically Harden has either thrown what we now consider a quality start (which is a bullcrap stat, but we'll roll with it) - three times - or he hasn't made it out of the 4th - twice.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 9x57, .158/.372/.644, 25K:7BB
vs Lefties: 12x35, .343/.452/.657, 12K:7BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (53): .160/.208/.300, 25K:3BB
After First-Pitch Balls (52): .333/.490/.641, 12K:11BB

RISP: 7x16, .438/.609/.438, 3K:6BB
Runners on: 10x36, .278/.422/.306, 13K:8BB
2OwRISP: 4x8, .500/.714/.500, 1K:5BB

Vs Your 09 Astros (min 4ABs):


Chris De Luca, You So Sly!

The NL Central watch from the Chicago Sun-Times has picked up on something totally new and heretofore unmentioned: Miguel Tejada:

The Cubs open a two-game series tonight against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Something strange is happening with Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was a key figure in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Tejada is still searching for his first home run of 2009. The shortstop has gone 168 at-bats without a homer, but he's still batting .297 and leads the Astros with eight doubles, With the feds closely watching a slugger who hit 34 home runs to win the 2002 AL MVP, it makes you wonder why there has been sudden drop in power. Hmm.

Why hasn't anyone thought of this before!?

Runs to Hits Ratio: National League

So I was thinking, because I've been sick the last couple of days: Man, the Astros seem to be able to hit the ball (kind of), but they sure don't score many runs. How do they compare to the rest of the National League? It's a valid question, and there's a valid answer. Regard:

As of this morning, 1-16 in total runs:hits ratio

RankTeamRunsHitsR:H Ratio
2St. Louis148251.590
5Los Angeles151267.567
10San Diego108214.505
11New York118238.496
16San Francisco90205.439

Everyone realizes what this means, right? It basically takes 2+ hits to get one run for the Astros. And while the Astros rank 12th in the NL in runs, they're 5th in hits. That's a bad ratio. Obviously.

Oswalt hurt, Smith hitless

Interesting, most useful Astros Notes article in weeks, from JJO:

Oswalt's injury:
“I hit the ball off the end of the bat in my last at-bat. I got a stinger on my finger. I went back out there and tried a few breaking balls and couldn’t throw them. I tried to get through an inning of trying to throw a lot of fastballs, but I knew that wasn’t going to work. I’m hoping in two or three days it should feel better. I might skip my bullpen and let it calm down some and see how it feels going into this weekend.”

Only Jason Smith and the Brewers' Brad Nelson haven't managed a hit in 15 at-bats. Of course, Nelson is 0x18. Smith, as we've mentioned, is 0x21. And wasn't Smith given IF5 because of his ability to play shortstop? Well...Smith has as many starts at short as he has hits.

“He hasn’t gotten any base hits, but he’s hit some balls hard in the games that he did start in. Defensively, circumstances and situations just haven’t developed for him to get in there (at short).”

I don't know about you, but I would prefer a guy who makes it a difficult decision on who starts when. I would prefer the circumstances and situations to develop out of necessity, not convenience.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reactions to G27 - Astros at Nationals, kind of...

“This game today is the one game that everybody wants to erase from the season. It’s just a little too early to be making that choice. What I loved most about this game is the offense kept putting up runs. They kept going out there and they never gave up. We didn’t do our jobs, but they kept carrying us today.”

“They did everything they could to keep the game tied. And we did everything we could to let them tie it. The last two games were just very ugly, that’s all. Just very, very ugly.”

Coop, on Sampson and Byrdak issuing four balls to everybody they could:
“It’s one of the weirdest situations I’ve ever seen. From pitching really great two days and the next two days it’s just the opposite. I don’t know what the heck the deal is. I don’t know how to explain it. I wish I could. It was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve seen.”

“It was just one of them days. It seemed like I couldn’t find the zone out there and unfortunately gave up Roy’s runs. I feel bad about that. I’d rather give up my own runs than coming in and giving up somebody else’s runs. I feel bad for that. I take full responsibility for that. I just had a bad day.”

Manny Acta:
"It was the battle of two struggling bullpens. We could have helped ourselves a little bit if we would have played better defense. Again, our guys battled out there and put up some runs. We just couldn't come out on top."

Recap for G27 - Astros at Nationals...kind of

So I'm confused. I don't know what to do. How do you recap a game that hasn't actually ended? Play was suspended in the 11th with the score tied 10-10, and since the Astros won't come back to Washington this season, play will resume on July 9 with LaTroy Hawkins pitching to Josh Willingham with a runner on 1st base and one out in the bottom of the 11th. Except the Natinals (sic) will be the home team.

Besides the bullpen pulling its usual hijinks, Roy is now hurt, messing up a finger on his pitching hand while batting in the sixth inning. But Roy wasn't doing well to that point...

Oswalt: 5IP, 4H, 4ER, 4K:2BB
Sampson: .2IP, 1H, 2ER, 1K:4BB
Byrdak: 1.1IP, 1H
Geary: 3IP, 4H, 2ER, 1K:1BB
LaHawk: .1IP, 0H, 1K:1BB

Sampson had walked just three batters in over 15 innings, and walked four today. Nice, huh?


Regardless of how this turns out it's either going to hurt to score 10 runs and lose or to score 10 runs and almost lose to the Nationals. That said, the offense did a few things I liked to see. Namely, score three runs off of Julian Tavarez. MRI results are pending on the phone to the bullpen.

Miggs went 3x6 with two doubles and three RBI, raising his season total to eight (so far). Bourn went 2x6, while Keppinger, Pence and Pudge all had multi-hit games, as well (so far). Only Berkman and pinch-hitter Darin Erstad didn't get a hit (so far).

Longest AB of the night (so far): Hunter Pence in the 4th - seven pitches.

Man of the Match:
Let's hold off.

Goat of the Game:
It's probably going to be Chris Sampson, but let's see how the other Astros can nut it up on July 9.

Matchup for G27 - Astros at Nationals

Man, do these Astros play down to their competition, or what? After nutting it against the Nationals last night, they'll look to split the two-game series today in my favorite game in the world - the day game. Roy Oswalt takes the mound after a rain-shortened Saturday (which I appreciate, being in attendance) versus new National Scott Olsen.

Roy Oswalt
Since the debacle of the first two games of the season, Roy has strung together some pretty impressive starts. With the two starts against the Reds, one against the Dodgers, and an inning against the Braves, Roy has an ERA of 2.25 in 20IPs.

Roy comes in to this game looking for his first win of the season facing the Nationals, a team in which Roy is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP - but 0-0 last year in two games...


Why the shortened appearance on July 11? Strained left hip in the first inning, and he didn't pitch again until 28 July. Versus this current crop of Nationals:


Scott Olsen

Scott Olsen came from Florida with Josh Willingham for Emilio Bonifacio and a couple of other guys, and things really aren't going so well. Well, they're going better, but like Roy, he's overcoming his first two starts, with his last three faring much better. Let's look:

First two starts:

4/7 @FLA38/82:37/869/41
4/12 @ATL56/53:37/1082/48

Last three starts:

4/18 vFLA76/25:110/13103/71
4/24 @NYM69/34:26/1696/63
4/29 @PHI5.26/16:210/693/67

Olsen pitched against the Astros last year, getting the win in a Sept 18 8-1 victory in which Olsen threw 7IP with 3H/1ER, 7K:1BB. Predictably, this was Olsen's third-highest game score of the year.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .322/.372/.644, 12K:7BB
vs Lefties: .280/.379/.280, 8K:4BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (68): .284/.294/.522, 17K:1BB
After First-Pitch Balls (42): .406/.548/.563, 3K:10BB

RISP: 11x31, .355/.429/.548, 4K:4BB
Runners on: 19x52, .365/.411/.731, 5K:4BB

2 Outs: 16x41, .390/.444/.683
2O, RISP: 11x19, .474/.500/.789, 1K:1BB

Over his last four starts, Olsen has managed to get 10+ swinging strikes.

Young'un of the Day: May 4

Round Rock
Yordany Ramirez. 2x5 with 2 RBI, including a homer in the 2nd and the go-ahead in RBI in the 9th as the Express win 5-3.

Corpus Christi
We'll give this one to Sergio Perez. Drew Meyer was a strong candidate, but Perez regained some form in a 6IP, 0ER outing, leading the Hooks to their 18th straight scoreless inning.

Ebert Rosario. 3x4 with a double in the 7th setting up the 4th run in a 4-3 win.

Jeff Icenogle. The JetHawks lost a tough one, 1-0 in 13 innings to Visalia, but Icenogle went 8.2IP with 4H/0ER, 2K:1BB.

Welcome, Citizen Mitch

Today we welcome Citizen Mitch. Welcome, Citizen Mitch!

Astros County: The problem with Berkman is:
Citizen Mitch: Is there a problem with Berkman? I feel like these things happen. Slumps and semi-slumps occur. It's baseball. I'm not worried. Who's been more consistent than Fat Elvis? Maybe what's wrong with Berkman is that I don't buy him drinks enough for being an awesome guy.

AC: Who do you prefer? Alyson Footer, Richard Justice, Brian McTaggart, Zachary Levine, or Jose de Jesus Ortiz and why?
CM: I don't read much Chron anymore, but Jose de Jesus Ortiz is the bomb. He's diligent and incisive, a quality, consistent read, and rarely talks down to his audience or is self-serving or hackily unfunny.

AC: Who is the first Astro to get sent down on merit (not just to clear space)?
CM: I'm not sure I totally understand this question, but how about, on merit, a drinking foursome with you, Carl Everett, Shawn Chacon, and Julio Lugo? Greatest night ever? Even Artest is like "those guys are completely insane." Talk about crazy former Astros.

AC: What is your favorite Astro memory?
CM: Attending Game 4 of the '05 Division Series against Atlanta--the 18-inning game. I was there with my dad, who, incidentally, had actually been at the 16-inning game loss to the Mets in '86. I thought that was a cool form of sports redemption that doesn't often happen. And I also thought it was cool to be at an 18-inning Astros playoff game, for obvious reasons. It was just a tremendous game, and Burke's homer was an absolutely pure and genuine moment of elation, a microcosm of everything great about being a sports fan. What sucks is that the amount of disappointment that resulted from the World Series sweep still rivals Game 4 in how it's affected my life. On top of that, how surreal (and cripplingly depressing) was it to see Lidge pitching the final out of the World Series for the PHILLIES?! Sorry I even brought it up. Let's move on.

AC: Which former Astro do you wish they would have held on to?
CM: Man, there is a massive amount of candidates (wasn't Johan attached to them at one point?), but Beltran clearly springs to mind; I was a freshman in college at UNT during their '04 playoff run and subsequent offseason, and it was one of the first times I'd ever noticed, and arguably been overwhelmed by, widespread, real, ardent interest in the Astros from casual fans, and it was because this dude Beltran was absolutely SICK, just dominating playoff competition. He was raking like Redford in The Natural and playing centerfield like Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones screwed in their respective primes and birthed him. People my age, young Astros sports fans, were obsessed with Beltran; it's sort of blasphemous, but the dude definitely had a chance to be an iconic Astro, like Bagwell or Biggio. We wanted so badly for him to stay and carry our team.

Clearly, it didn't turn out that way, but the Beltran trade was awesome, Beltran was awesome, and I'll always remember the optimism he generated as completely contradictory to the typical Astros cynicism amongst me and my friends who are Astros fans. How often can you say "one of the top five guys in baseball plays for the Astros?" Rarely. He's not a top-five guy now, but, hey, you never know what could've been. They didn't re-sign him, obviously, and they told us they couldn't compete with the Mets' cash, but when you compare Caballo's contract and the fact that Beltran is an all-star player in the field and at the plate, I think it could've been worth it. Then again, it's not my money.

Corpus Christi doing their best Orel Hershiser impression

Not quite up to Hershiser's standards, but the Hooks blanked Frisco for the second straight game for an 18 inning scoreless streak.

Sergio Perez is starting to look like a professional pitcher, instead of the batting tee he has resembled over his last two starts, with 6IP, 8H/0ER, 6K:1BB. Drew Meyer went 3x5 with 3RBI in the 10-0 win.

Reactions to G26 - Astros at Nationals

Cooper, on the bullpen:
“The last couple of days they did a terrific job. Tonight we just didn’t get it done. It’s pretty simple. To get them out you got to be able to throw it over the plate, and we didn’t do a very good job of that.”

“I just didn’t have it today. It’s kind of frustrating when your team hands you the lead and we fought so hard tonight to get a lead.”

“I felt fine. It was just a bad day. I have control of my pitches, but this was just a bad day.”

Elijah Dukes on Ryan Zimmerman's 4x4 night:
"You've got to give the credit to Zimmerman for basically staying in there and giving us hope. He was hitting, and everybody else was like, 'Might as well join him.'"

We just had good at-bats tonight. I think that's the most impressive thing. We got our hits, but we took a lot of walks. We didn't swing at their pitches, even when they were close. It's kind of a sense of us maturing as a team, I think."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Recap for G26 - Astros at Nationals

Way to build on that two-game winning streak by beating a 6-17 team on the road, fellas. Moehler did pretty well, but are the Astros sure Paulino should be relieving? If he's throwing a fit, it's working for me. Wright was terrible, and what do you know? So was Fulchino.

Moehler: 5IP, 8H, 2ER, 5K:2BB
Wright: .1IP, 1H, 3ER, 0K:2BB
Paulino: .1IP, 2H, 2ER, 0K:2BB
Fulchino: 2.1IP, 4H, 2ER, 3K:2BB

The bullpen, once again, was pretty awful. Let's look at this another way:
Bullpen: 3IP, 7H, 7ER, 3K:6BB


Moehler's FPBs: 7
Moehler's FPSs: 18

Offense did relatively well, but blowing a 4-run lead lands squarely on the bullpen. Multi-hit games from Matsui (2), Berkman (2), Lee (3) got the Astros seven of their ten hits. 0SB to 2CS (Berkman, Matsui), and the Nationals bullpen allowed just one base runner in three innings.

Against teams currently with winning records: 7-12
Against teams currently with losing records: 4-3

Man of the Match:
I'm going to give this one to Lance, who crushed the ball for a double that Elijah Dukes had no chance at, no matter what. It was encouraging to see Moehler come back and get some innings in - he lowered his ERA to 14.00 with two earned in five innings.

Goat of the Game:
Felipe Paulino. Faced six batters, only got Flores to pop up. The other five walked, singled, singled, got hit, and walked. That's bad.

Moehler takes Brocail's spot on the 25-man roster

So that whole breakdown of who would take Brocail's place was rendered moot as it was Brian Moehler who got the nod. And this is going to take a while:

“This one’s going to be a while, yes. I think the hardest part is seeing Ed Wade and Drayton (McLane, the owner) here and knowing that they know that there’s nothing I can do for the team right now. The last two outings I was throwing the ball well. I can’t do anything to help us out right now. That’s where guys are going to have to step up and fill in. We’ve got capable arms and we’re just going to have to battle."

Matchup for G26 - Astros at Nationals

Pointlessly short two-game series against the Nationals in what should prove to be an empty stadium as the Astros try to extend their two-game road winning streak, a two-series road winning streak, and have won five of their last seven road games. Brian Moehler will come off the DL in a start against Washington's John Lannan.

Brian Moehler:

Who knows what to expect from Brian Moehler? I feel like he is owed, and this is even retroactive on my part, a little slack and credit because he was basically pitching hurt. Apparently the tide turned in the massacre at Corpus when catcher Koby Clemens went out to the mound and asked Moehler what he wanted to do. Moehler said "Let's throw changeups." And that was it.

So we're not going to list any stats for Moehler, because he's really starting anew tomorrow. Of course, if he nuts it, then that's different.

John Lannan

Lannan is 0-3 on the year with a 4.61 ERA, but not taking into account his first start of the season - OD09 @ Florida, he's 0-2 with a 2.96 ERA and 26H/8ER, 17K/7BB. He has not been getting many swinging strikes - no more than eight in a game, and three in his last start @ Philadelphia.

Last three starts:

4/17 vs FLA6.13/18:16/799/65
4/22 vs ATL75/04:213/995/60
4/28 @ PHI59/32:114/883/53

Interesting Splits:
Home: 13.1IP, 8H/1ER, 12K:3BB, 0.68 ERA/0.83 WHIP
After FPB: 8x41, 5K:5BB, .195/.298/.415
After FPS: 17x54, 13K:2BB, .315/.339/.537
RISP: 8x21, 3K:2BB, .381/.458/.810
W/2 outs: 16x41, 5K:4BB, .390/.457/.610

Lannan only appeared once against the Astros in 2008: a May 8 win at Minute Maid Park, getting the win in an 8-3 victory. I knew this, because this was one of the games I attended last year.

Eddie's Farm: Week 4

Fourth installment of Eddie's Farm, where we're gonna keep 'em down on the farm.

Round Rock
10-14, 3rd place, .5GB



Corpus Christi
10-12, 3rd, 4.5GB

Van Ostrand23x59.390/.478/.6954-1211:7

Van Hekken13.218/63.95/1.3911:1

Lexington Legends
15-9, 1st place, 1 game up



Lancaster JetHawks
8-16, Last Place, 9GB



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lance Berkman owes Jack Wilkinson an adult beverage

Atlanta Braves official scorer Jack Wilkinson just raised Berkman's batting average 12 points. By changing Berkman's 7th inning at-bat from an error on Chipper Jones to an infield single, Berkman went 2-for-5 and raised his average from .172 to .184. Good series all around.

But seriously. Can I point out something?

Berkman's batting average by month:

April 0830x998-2513:14.303/.383/.657
May 0849x1049-2218:18.471/.553/.856
June 0829x915-2119:10.319/.394/.582
July 0821x790-816:21.266/.431/.329
Aug 0831x1085-1824:13.301/.390/.573
Sept 0813x762-1217:21.171/.343/.289
April 0912x745-1022:17.162/.326/.392

Pre All-Star Break 08: 22HR, 73 RBI, 61K:56BB, .347/.443/.653
Post All-Star Break 08: 7HR, 33 RBI, 47K:43BB, .259/.384/.436

Meat Wagon Now Adding Express Service

With Brocail pulling a hammy, he's likely to ride the Meat Wagon to the disabled list, which poses something of a problem for the Astros.

Valverde is out, likely until the end of May, perhaps until mid-June. Brocail is out. Moehler is coming off the disabled list at a time in which the bullpen has thrown 12 innings in the last two days. If Moehler falters again tomorrow in his first start off the DL and a rehab start in which he gave up a lot of runs (and admittedly recovered to retire the last 11 batters he faced), then you're probably looking at Ortiz and Sampson pitching in long relief. But that doesn't leave a whole lot of room for error. And if the Astros' bullpen needs anything right now, it's room for error.

It'll be interesting to see who the Astros call up when they put Brocail on the DL. They've called up Arias already this season, and if they do that here is your rotation

SP1: Roy
SP2: Wandy
SP3: Hampton
SP4: Moehler
SP5: Ortiz

Long Relief:

Byrdak (L)
Wright (L)

8th inning:


Who will the Astros bring up?

Chad Paronto: 8IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:2BB, 1.13 ERA/0.75 WHIP
Jeremy Johnson: 16.2IP, 14H/3ER, 12K:3BB, 1.62 ERA/1.02 WHIP
Casey Daigle: 8IP, 10H/2ER, 5K:3BB, 2.25 ERA/1.63 WHIP
Alberto Arias: 16.1IP, 14H/7ER, 15K:10BB, 3.86 ERA/1.47 WHIP

Who do you like?

Reactions to G25 - Astros at Braves

“Tremendous offensive execution. We did a lot of good things today. We had three sac bunts, and every time we did it the guy scored.”

Geoff Geary:
“I think overall we did pretty good. To be honest with you, if we accept giving up runs as excellent then we’re all kidding ourselves. Now we have to really pick each other up with Doug going down hurt. And I think it’s just going to show everybody what we’re made of because we don’t have a choice.”

Wandy, on not pitching the 6th:
“I wanted one more inning, but Cooper said that’s it. I respect this guy. I tell him, ‘I want one more inning.’ But he didn’t want to.”

As a temporary aside, I'm pleased with this turn of events. I watched this game and thought Wandy maybe could have gone one more. But then this from...

“He was at 85 or 86 (pitches) and I just thought it looked like to me it was kind of getting away from him a little bit. We had some fresh guys to use there.

This is encouraging to me, because we actually saw Cooper managing today. He didn't let Wandy make the decision (like when he let Valverde stay in the game weekend before last). He made the decision, and that makes me happy.

Chipper Jones:
We had a lot of opportunities to score more runs than we did. We gave them too many opportunities in the middle innings."

G25 Recap : Astros Win Rubber Match

With Magic Wandy only going 5 innings today and throwing 86 pitches, the bullpen parade was needed to cover the last four innings while giving the offense a chance to bust out. And bust out they did, providing 7 runs on 10 hits. The Astros improve to 4-2 on the roadtrip by taking 2 out of 3 from the Braves, while improving to 11-14 overall.
The AstBros managed to tie a franchise record by hitting 4 sac flies in the contest. One in the 1st off the bat of Berkman, then in the 6th from Pudge, again in the 7th by Lee, and the last one in the 8th by Blum.
This was a team effort for the second night in a row, as every starter but one (Keppinger 0-1 2BB) had a hit.
The relievers combined line was not as pretty as last night (4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) but was just as effective. Aside from Brocail pulling a hammy and Sampson being battered last night, the Astros staff should have a good feeling about themselves after the first six games of the trip. Next comes a quick series in Washington against a bad Nats team. A long outing from Moehler would be just what the Dr. ordered.
Not lost on Coop, was the performance of Michael Bourn, who was 3/4 with 2 runs, 1 RBI and 2 SB. Between Bourn and AzzMat, the top of the order is functioning at a high level right now and giving the middle of the order plenty of chances to score runs.

Man of the Match: Has to be Bourn tonight. Raised his BA to .301. He is turning into Kenny Lofton right before our eyes.

Goat De Jour: Wandy for lack of a better option. He wanted to keep going, but Coop was unhappy with his location during the 4th and 5th. He put our bullpen in a precarious situation by leaving so early. His line was pedestrian : 5IP, 6H, 3ER, 3BB, 3K

G25 Preview: Astros v Braves

Matchup for Today:

Wandy Rodriguez (2-2 1.69)
JoJo Reyes (0-1 4.26)

The Astros (10-14) lefthanded #2 starter has produced a quality start in all five of his outings this year and has been dominant in the past three starts allowing 2 ER over 20 IP. Batters are struggling to make good contact with Magic Wandy's ridiculous curveball this season leading to a WHIP of 1.03.

Braves Batters Career v Magic

Diaz, Matt - - - - .308 13 1 3
Escobar, Yunel - - - - .500 6 0 2
Francoeur, Jeff - - - - .286 7 1 2
Infante, Omar - - - - 1.000 1 0 0
Johnson, Kelly - - - - .333 3 0 0
Jones, Chipper - - - - .571 7 2 3
Kotchman, Casey - - - - .333 3 0 0
Norton, Greg - - - - .000 2 0 0
Prado, Martin - - - - .167 6 0 0
Ross, David - - - - .200 10 0 1

The Braves (11-12) will counter with JoJo Reyes who has an absolute cannon for a right arm. Bobby Cox has been quoted recently as saying that he has become a better pitcher while not trying to be a flamethrower. Reyes will be a difficult guy to face because he may throw in the 89-94 range all day, and then when he needs it, pull out a 97 mph fastball. Astros hitters wil be sitting on his fastball all day as he has only recently shown the ability to locate any of his pitches.

Astros Batters Career v. JoJo

Berkman, Lance - - - - .125 8 1 2
Blum, Geoff - - - - - - - -
Bourn, Michael - - - - - - - -
Keppinger, Jeff - - - -.500 10 0 2
Lee, Carlos - - - - - .429 7 0 1
Matsui, Kazuo - - - - - - - -
Pence, Hunter - - - - .200 5 0 0
Rodriguez, Ivan - - - - - - - -
Tejada, Miguel - - - - .500 2 0 1
Towles, J.R. - - - - .000 2 0 0

Rotation shuffle

The Wife is in the bathroom, thus, I return for a quick post:

The Astros are doing some shuffling in the rotation after Roy's 17-pitch appearance in a rain-shortened game against the Braves. This, as previously mentioned, was bullcrap. I was in the stands and saw the rain coming from about 2:30 on. I realize Fox must be pleased, but it was ridiculous to play an inning and a half of a game and then delay the game for an hour and a half. Granted, Jurrjens went through the same problem, but still. Hold off on the game's start, everyone can watch the Phillies-Mets (like we did on the Jumbotron), and then start the game.

Anyway, because of that, Roy will start Tuesday against the Nationals while Ortiz can provide long relief today against the Braves.

I now defer to the Deputy...