Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cooper: Hugo Chavez of Baseball?

If Jose de Jesus Ortiz isn't careful, Cooper's going to shovel-whack him. Pretty shocking blog today after a tough Astros loss to the Cubs. Let's look at an excerpt:

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

Cooper's new nickname in the Astros' clubhouse is Hugo Chavez, whom you all may know is that Fidel Castro wannabe who runs Venezuela. I was informed of that fact yesterday at Wrigley Field, and that was before Cooper's second-guessing special.

I tried my hardest to find somebody to go on the record - other than Cooper - defending his late-inning decisions. I couldn't find anybody, although I didn't check with bench coach Ed Romero, who is on his job because he's Cooper's great friend.

I asked first base coach Jose Cruz for a comment, but Cruz politely said, "I just work here."

Let's be clear that players win and lose games, but they also have to believe in their manager. For the first time since I described the clubhouse as toxic last year in Baltimore, this visit to Wrigley is the first time when I've been approached with so many disgruntled players.


Reactions to G36 - Astros at Cubs

LaTroy Hawkins:
“There we go again. I want to kick myself for walking the leadoff hitter. That’s the game right there - leadoff walks. If I don’t leadoff walk that guy, then it’s just a regular old single.”

Cooper, on whether or not he considered walking Soriano (who instead had the walk-off RBI):
"No, not at all. “You make pitches, you get him out. Simple as that. We didn't make our pitches. If we make pitches, we get him out. It's not like he crushed the ball. The ball went off the end of the bat. You make pitches, you get him out."

"I wanted to try to hit the ball to the gap in right field. That pitch was away, and I put the ball in play."

Piniella, on Soriano:
"When he goes to right field, good things will happen. I've told him that many times."

Piniella, on Gregg:
"You certainly don't expect your closer to get hit that hard. I talked to our catcher, Geovany, and he said [Gregg] was up and down the middle with about everything. He needed the work, we needed to pitch him, and he'll be better tomorrow."

“We were pretty much dead in the water. Then Lance gets a swat for us and gets us going. We had our chances there. We had three shots to knock a run home and we didn't."

“I was very pleased with our effort in the ninth inning. You could have easily just packed it in when you’re down four runs and a team has their closer on the mound. I’d be willing to bet that doesn’t happen that often that you come back to tie that game. It’s just disappointing to lose a game that didn’t look like we were going to win, didn’t look like we were going to have a chance to win, then it looked like we should have won it. And now it’s disappointing again.”

Recap for G36 - Astros at Cubs

Thought the Astros had it. You don't score four runs in the 9th at Wrigley, have runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out, hit two fly balls to Kosuke Fukudome, and not have the 5th run score, do you?

Oswalt: 6IP, 6H, 3ER, 7K:0BB
Arias: 1IP, 1K
Wright: .1IP, 1ER, 0K:2BB
Sampson: .2IP, 1H,
Hawkins: .1IP, 1H, 1BB

Oswalt pitched alright - another home run, this time to Micah Hoffpauir - but he still had what is considered a quality start. And another no decision.


Matsui and Bourn were a combined 0x9 in 10 plate appearances (Bourn did draw a walk). However, 3-8 were 9x21 with all four runs and RBI, 2K:4BB. It looked like the Astros had Wells on the ropes in the early going. In the second inning, Pudge walked to load the bases, and Roy grounded out to end the 29-pitch inning for Wells. In the 3rd, the Astros had Lance and Lee on, and this time Tejada grounded out to end the inning. After that, the Astros had 1-2-3 innings from the 4th-8th. That's 15 up and 15 down. But then the 9th happened.

Now, Berkman and Lee went back-to-back (on three total pitches) in the top of the 9th, making it a 4-2 game. Then Tejada singles to left, then Pence singles to center and Tejada takes an extra base. Blum is then hit, loading the bases, and then Pudge singles, scoring Tejada and Pence - tying the game - and Blum is on 2nd with no outs. Noodlearm Fukudome is in right. Michaels pinch-hits, fly ball to right. Blum stays put. Matsui flies out to right. Blum stays put. Bourn walks, loading the bases for Berkman, who grounds out.

Let's look at this. Should Blum hustle it up and take third on what would be considered a sac fly from Michaels, he's in line to score the 5th run of the game when Matsui flies out to right. He doesn't do any of that, and the Astros leave the game tied. LaHawk nuts it (maybe Sampson and his 1.59 ERA should be taken for a spin in the 9th), and the game is over.

Longest AB of the night: 10 pitches by Blum in the 2nd, resulted in a single.

Man of the Match:
Carlos Lee. 3x4 with a homer to follow Berkman's to turn a fluke into a rally.

Goat of the Game:
Geoff Blum. Poor baserunning decisions led to what could have been a much, much different game.
Gotta do a quick version until tonight.
MotM: Carlos Lee - 3x4 with a run and an rbi
GotG: Easy pick is the bullpen. I'm giving it to Blum. See below.
Can someone please explain to me how Blum wasn't running on neither Michaels' or Matsui's flyballs on Noodlearm Fukudome? That's a 5-4 game if he does.

Matchup for G36 - Astros at Cubs

So in essence the Astros have another two-game series against the Cubs. Probably the last thing a hot-hitting Astros team needed was a cancellation yesterday, but we can't blame the rain on the Cubs (though their sinfulness probably had something to do with it).

Roy Oswalt

Cooper shuffled the rotation in the wake of yesterday's cancellation to keep Roy on his normal schedule.

Last three starts:

5/2 @ATL10/02:10/117/9
5/5 @WAS54/44:24/1089/55
5/10 vSD66/44:25/14104/68

It's been an interesting May for Roy, and it all started with his one inning outing at Atlanta, a 97-minute rain delay that sent him to the showers early, and ultimately starting him three days later at Washington. In his last two starts, Roy has managed to get only nine ground balls, compared to 24 fly balls (and two line drives). That's not good, and after two homer-less appearances, he has given up four extra bases in the last two outings - but three of those were home runs.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 20x85, .235/.305/.494, 13K:8BB
vs Lefties: 25x80, .313/.360/.475, 15K:6BB

This could cause some problems as the Cubs do have a pretty balanced lineup.

When swinging at the first pitch (24): .391/.391/.870, 3HR
After First-Pitch Strikes (96): .244/.274/.367, 17K:3BB
After First-Pitch Balls (63): .269/.397/.519, 11K:11BB

RISP: 4x25, .160/.290/.320, 6K:5BB
Runners on: 15x62, .242/.304/.532, 10K:6BB
None on: 30x103, .291/.348/.456, 18K:8BB
2OwRISP: 1x11, .091/.231/.091, 2K:2BB

0 out: .323/.364/.597, 10K:3BB
2 out: .188/.291/.354, 5K:7BB

I just don't see how Roy can't turn his season around. Aside from being fly-ball prone lately, Roy's stats look good. Is it a lack of focus with 0 out? Obviously the first pitch of the at-bat is killing Roy, maybe batters are starting to become less intimidated. And if that's the case, there's no stat that can measure that effect.

Randy Wells

26-year old rookie Randy Wells gets the start today, as a spot-start for Carlos Zambrano. He was originally slated to go yesterday, but was pushed back. He has made only one start this season so far...

Last start:

5/8 @MIL55/05:28/684/51

Wells only gave up one extra base hit to a Brewers team that actually took the May 8-10 series against the Cubs.

Let's do the splits vs the Brewers
vs Righties: 5x17
vs Lefties: 0x2

Swinging at first pitch: (2), 1x2
After First-Pitch Strikes (11): 3x10
After First-Pitch Balls (8): 1x7

RISP: 0x5
Runners on: 2x10
2OwRISP: 0x3

Bullpen giving Cooper hemorrhoids

So with Geary, Brocail and Valverde going down 30 games into the season, it's messing up Cooper's rotation.

"It's very tough. You have to figure out who's available first. Then you have to figure out what you want to do. Figure it out, according to matchups."

One guy who is pleased by this is Chris Sampson:
"It was a great opportunity [on Thursday in Denver], pitching the eighth inning. I just have to take advantage of these opportunities and prove to everyone that I can help out in the back end of the bullpen when they need me. Hopefully, that would open some eyes this year as well as for my career."

Don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind seeing Sampson pitching some 9th inning. He's the only reliever the Astros have who I don't want to crap my pants when I see him warming up. Enjoy some stats:

22IP, 16H/4ER, 9K:8BB, 1.64 ERA / 1.09 WHIP. 86 batters faced/66 outs (76.7%).
35 ground balls / 34 fly balls.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Backe to get more rehab starts than expected

Within this Notebook we read that Backe may need as many as two more rehab starts.

At first glance, you get the idea that they just want to get Backe healthy before he rejoins the rotation. Easy Eddie was at Backe's last start Wednesday, and Coop had this to say:

Wade “said (Backe) pitched fine. They had a big lead late in the game, and he thinks he just ran out of gas in the seventh inning. They said he pitched fine, located well and looked real sharp.”

So why not activate him? Maybe because they want to give it ten more days to see if Moehler or Paulino struggle. Cooper did address pushing Backe to the bullpen in Geary's spot, but decided starting is what Backe needed to focus on.

The Astros are going to have some tough decisions to make once Backe has made his schedule 20 rehab starts waiting for someone else to get hurt. Are they keeping him in rehab starts to enhance trade value? Or just hedging their rotation bets...

Want to get your own food at Minute Maid Park? Eat it!

Did you know that there is only one Major League ballpark at which you are not able to bring in any food and/or drink? That's right, it's our very own Juice Box...

Astros "in trouble"

Tom Verducci's column today discusses how baseball is a young man's game, noting a number of older veterans who remained unsigned, largely because of the ban on amphetamines. Then he throws the Astros directly in the path of the bus:

With not only steroid testing but also amphetamine testing in place, clubs no longer can count on players extending their prime years through their mid- and late-30s. The Astros are in trouble because they counted on way too many old players. The Yankees have scuffled because of injuries to old players. The Tigers have tried to remake themselves since the middle of last year by losing some old players (Kenny Rogers, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez) and hoping others bounce back from slow starts (Ordonez, Placido Polanco). The Red Sox are swimming against the tide with four regulars age 33 or older (Ortiz, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell). The bottom line, in case you weren't paying attention to the World Series last year: It's a young man's game.


Off the hook!

G35 postponed @ Miller Park South has been postponed due to rain. This has obviously caused some issues with the rotation. The matchup was to be:

Moehler vs. Wells
Oswalt vs. Marshall
Paulino vs. Harden

It is now...

Oswalt vs. Wells
Moehler vs. Harden

Weekend update

As much as it kills me, because this weekend is the series with the Cubs, coverage is going to be a little spotty today. Check back for updates, but probably not as often as you normally might...

Jose de Jesus Ortiz calls out Cooper, and me likee

You need to read the whole thing, but JJO went off on Cooper in a blog post today.

Calling him out continuing to run Geary out there, despite the fact that Geary said he'd been hurting for at least a week.

There's a testy little exchange, but Cooper says that he kept putting Geary in game situations, because "he said he could pitch," even though Geary knew he was experiencing soreness.

I couldn't agree more with Ortiz here. There's a fine line between pulling a Pavano and being tough. It's a long season, and you're going to get dinged up, but if you're at the point where playing is counter-productive, then the player needs to take responsibility. No player is going to turn down the ball or an at-bat. But it's up to the manager to make that decision for them. I would tell Coop I could pitch, but that's the last thing he would want to do.

Cooper did the same thing with Valverde, asking him what he wanted to do. That's not going to cut it - Cooper's going to have to manage tough to keep this team in contention, and he's not going to do that by running guys out there who are too proud to say they're hurting the team.

Reactions to G35 - Astros at Rockies

Pudge, on Wandy:
“He used a few changes in and out, but definitely his breaking ball was really strong today."

“Today we were kind of executing and taking advantage of (the errors). That’s what good teams do if you get the other on the ropes.”

Cooper, on Wandy:
“Sometimes the good pitchers — and I think Wandy’s right in that level now — once they get a lead and they know it’s going to get late in the ballgame, they start to dial it up. I thought he had two or three key strikeouts. You can see how he has a little more emotion. He seemed to get stronger as he went on.”

"I had good stuff today. Once I throw the ball, it's up the guys to make the play. We had a couple of unfortunate plays and it ended costing us."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Quick version tonight:
Man of the Match: Toss-up between Wandy and Bourn. Let's give it to Wandy for stopping the Rockies.
Goat: How about Berkman? 0x4, error

Jayson Stark on the Astros...

Today's Rumblings and Grumblings column by Jayson Stark has an extended mix on the Astros possible activity at the trade deadline:

As clubs begin sketching out their July shopping lists, no one can figure out the Astros.

They could have a bunch of marketable veterans (Jose Valverde, Pudge Rodriguez, LaTroy Hawkins, Tim Byrdak, Doug Brocail if he gets healthy and maybe even guys such as Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler and Russ Ortiz). They also could put one of the hottest names on the market, in Roy Oswalt.

But what are the chances that always-upbeat owner Drayton McLane would agree to a sell-off? No one is too sure.

"Based on the history?" an executive of one club said, laughing. "I'd say zero."

Granted, the Astros are famous for their slow starts and furious finishes. But where are the signs that this team can contend? It has allowed the second-most runs in the league and scored the fifth-fewest.

"Face it, they're the oldest team in the league, and they're not winning," the same exec said. "They need to get younger and more athletic. So how do they do that? They need to start getting those older guys out of there. Move some veterans. Move some money. Get some younger blood in there. Drayton needs to come to grips with the idea that, from a baseball perspective, that's what they need to do."

The Astros do have no-trade issues, however. Oswalt and Lance Berkman have total no-trade clauses. And Carlos Lee has one through 2010.

Geary to DL - Fulchino recalled

So that's pretty self-explanatory. Official word on Geary is "right biceps tendinitis." Fulchino up from Round Rock in his 3rd stint with the Club.

Matchup for G35 - Astros at Rockies

Here's your rubber match, folks, and I like the matchup. Wandy/Pudge. Let's just look to see the difference when Pudge catches Wandy as opposed to the rest of Wandy's career:


Obviously there is a sample set issue, but from the limited results so far we should be pretty encouraged by Pudge's influence on young-ish Wandy. Now, can this be chalked up to Dewey Robinson and Wandy's normal progression in his career? Sure, but some credit should be given to the guy calling the game.

Wandy's last three starts:

4/28 @CIN75/15:29/1099/66
5/3 @ATL56/33:38/886/55
5/8 vSD85/07:08/14116/82

This is self-explanatory. Wandy is pitching like Roy, and Roy is kind of pitching like Wandy used to, so while Roy finds his form Wandy has been lights out and a bullpen-speller. Wandy got 31 non-contact strikes (17 looking/14 swinging) against the Padres - the most since his 7 inning gem against Cincinnati where he got 37 non-contact strikes. He's 3-2, but could very easily be 5-0, giving up four total runs in his two losses (and four total runs in two NDs).

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 30x119, .252/.323/.319, 27K:11BB
vs Lefties: 2x35, .057/.154/.386, 10K:4BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (92): .232/.289/.280, 24K:5BB
After First-Pitch Balls (66): .125/.258/.296, 13K:10BB

RISP: 5x35, .143/.184/.143, 9K:1BB
Runners on: 14x61, .230/.294/.279, 12K:4BB
2OwRISP: 3x19, .158/.200/.158, 7K:0BB

Wandy is coming in on five days rest. That's happened only once this season, and how did that work out? 7IP, 2H/0ER, 10K:2BB.

Jason Hammel

Hammel has been a reliever and a starter for Colorado so far this season, starting the last three games in which he appeared this season. And with the exception of the middle game, it wasn't pretty....

Last three starts:

5/3 @SF66/01:212/979/48
5/8 vFLA4.18/64:18/980/51

It will be interesting to see how long Hurdle lets Hammel go in this game. The Rockies are in the midst of 16 games in 16 days and Hurdle lamented how much the bullpen has been taxed by ineffective starters (note Rusch's extended relief performance last night). Hammel was extremely efficient against the Giants, only needing 79 pitches to go six innings, but as you can see his pitch count has been right around 80, though that may have been more out of necessity due to the situation. The best possible thing for the Astros after a 24-hit night is an afternoon game.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 11x36, .306/.333/.417, 8K:2BB
vs Lefties: 17x48, .354/.426/.667, 4K:6BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (44): .214/.250/.524, 9K:2BB
After First-Pitch Balls (39): .452/.526/.484, 3K:6BB

RISP: 6x17, .353/.500/.471, 2K:6BB
Runners on: 7x31, .226/.359/.290, 4K:7BB
2OwRISP: 2x15, .133/.133/.400, 1K:0BB

With 2 outs in an inning, opponents are hitting .438/.526/.750 in 32ABs with 1K:6BB. And the second time around the order, opponents are 12x30 against Hammel.

Geary's velocity drop

According to the rather incredible FanGraphs page for Geoff Geary, we see some telling signs of arm issues:

Average fastball
2008: 91.5 mph
2009: 89.6 mph

Average curveball
2008: 80.6 mph
2009: 79.4 mph

Average changeup
2008: 84.5 mph
2009: 82.3 mph

Average slider
2008: 82.7 mph
2009: 81.3 mph

That's a 1-2 mph drop in every single pitch, so it's not like he's taking something off his breaking pitches.

Geary to DL?

Lots of chatter this morning about Geary's next destination: the Disabled List (which I've always thought is a fairly harsh term).

So who will the Astros bring up to fill his spot?

Fulchino: Hasn't done so well in his two stints with the Astros...
Casey Daigle: 14.1IP, 15H/3ER, 10K:5BB, 1.88 ERA / 1.40 WHIP (and the guy from the American-Statesman can crap his pants about Jennie Finch)
Chad Paronto: 13IP, 7H/1ER, 9K:3BB, 0.69 ERA / 0.77 WHIP
Recent signee Brendan Donnelly: 8IP, 8H/3ER, 7K:2BB, 3.38 ERA / 1.25 WHIP

YotD: May 13

Round Rock
The Express scored five runs in the 8th and 9th, but it wasn't enough to over come an 11-2 lead Fresno built up (Josh Muecke: 3.2IP, 12H/11ER, 4K:1BB, 4HR). That said, Edwin Maysonet was 2x3 with a double and a run. But your YotD goes to Brian Bogusevic who hit a 3-run double. Manzella and Kata also had two hits each.

Corpus Christi
The Hooks enjoyed a 7-run 2nd inning, coasting to a 13-6 victory over Frisco. Drew Meyer and Mark Ori had three hits each, while Collin DeLome, Jhon Florentino, Brian Esposito, and Vladimir Sutil each had multi-hit games. YotD, though, goes to Drew Locke, 2x4 with two runs scored, two RBI, and a homer. His .388 average is 3rd in the Texas League. Brandon Backe went 7IP with 8H/4ER, 3K:0BB in another rehab start. 57 of his 77 pitches were for strikes as Backe retired 21 of the 28 batters he faced.

Chris Johnson went 2x4 with two doubles and two RBI and Jason Castro was 2x3 with two doubles and two RBI himself to earn YotD honors in a 7-4 win over Lake Elsinore. Shuck, Gaston, and Moresi had two-hit games.

Jordan Lyles is your hard-luck loser, throwing 5IP with 4H/2ER with 9K:2BB in a 3-1 loss to Charleston, the lone run coming on a 9th inning homer by Ronald Ramirez. Charleston switch-pitcher Pat Venditte got the save for Charleston.

Clue to Geary's struggles at the bottom of an article

So we get this closing line from Alyson Footer's recap of G34...

Cooper indicated Geary may be dealing with biceps tendinitis and could be checked by doctors in the near future.

It would certainly make sense. So far Geary this year has thrown 20.2 innings. At no point has his ERA been below 3.00. Six appearances have been 4-out appearances, but he has thrown 10 or fewer pitches just three times. He has had one perfect appearance, giving up no hits or walks. Just one - out of sixteen games.

This is obviously not the Geary of 2008, so if he's hurt, it would make sense.

Reactions to G34 - Astros at Rockies

A night in which the Astros got 24 hits - one shy of the club record - and scored 15 runs, most in the NL this season.

"I didn’t know we almost (made franchise history for hits), but everybody should appreciate it. In any franchise, you never know when you have a chance to set records. It’s something special."

It's a little discouraging when you go 4-for-4 and you look up and you’re hitting .216. It’s not something that you sit there and say, ‘Well, this is how we should hit every night,’ because you do realize it’s a special type deal where everything kind of fell into place for you."

"The offense is going to come along. We know that we’ll compete every day because we know this team is going to hit. I feel very happy because when you have a good team like the one we have and everybody steps up it’s easier for everybody. When everybody is contributing for the team it’s all better."

"I gave up the lead, which stunk. But the team just kept battling and swinging and everything found a hole. They got me the lead back and I pitched well enough to hold it."

Jason Marquis:
"I just didn't make pitches tonight. Mistakes, good pitches, it just felt like everything found a hole. It was one of those nights."

"Lance is starting to come. I thought before this, he was swinging the bat a little bit better. It's always good to see him get some hits. I'm sure it helped him relax a little bit as well. He wasn't the only guy. Everybody kind of chipped in. It was good to see it."

Recap for G34 - Astros @ Rockies

I made two tentative prognostications in the matchup for G34: It would be a high-scoring affair, and it could be the game to get Lance off the schneid. Both of those happened. It was a hit fest, as the Astros actually had to hold on to a 9-run lead at the end (I'm looking at you, Geary).

It was Lance's fourth multi-hit game of the year. The last time he had four hits in a game was May 4, 2008 against Milwaukee (and he had a 5x5 game two days later). So what does four hits do to your average when you're struggling like that? It raises it 29 points (.187 to .216), and your OBP 25 points (.323 to .348).

But let's table that discussion and get to the pitching. Hampton actually fared okay, the game was well in hand when he left. But while it never got hairy, it was enough to make it interesting.

Hampton: 6IP, 7H, 5ER, 3K:2BB
Arias: 1IP, 1H, 1ER, 1K
Wright: 1IP, 1H, 2K
Geary: .2IP, 3H, 5ER, 2BB
Hawkins: .1IP

Geary's portion of the inning was not much fun at all. Let's look. He came in in the 9th with the Astros up 15-6, and actually got pulled.

Fowler: Foul out to left
Quintanilla: Walk
Barmes: Single to center
Spilborghs: Flied out to right

-Note: That's two outs. There are Rockies on 1st and 2nd-

Smith: Double to right (scores Quintanilla)
Atkins: Walk
Iannetta: Grand Slam to left center (scores everybody)

So he leaves and it's 15-11. At least he didn't leave any mess for LaHawk to clean up. Maybe when starting six of the seven batters he faced with a ball, and three of them with two balls (heh), had something to do with it.


The Astros hit .471 off of the Rockies' pitchers. What I find interesting is that, of those 24 hits, only six of them were for extra-bases. That's taking advantage of baserunners. However, seven of those runs came on those extra-base hits. Eight runs were scored with 2 outs. And the Astros did some hitting from behind - 29 plate appearances resulted in a first-pitch strike, and still the Astros hit the cover off the ball.

The Astros got multi-RBI games from Berkman, Tejada, Blum and Quintero. Also worth pointing out that by going 2x6, Quintero is now hitting .133. Smith was 0x1, and that's 0x24 on the season.

Longest AB of the night: 7 pitches by Blum in the 7th, resulted in a 3-run double.

Man of the Match:
Give it up to Lance Berkman. 4x4 with a walk, and made no outs.

Goat of the Game:
Geoff Geary. Made a blowout interesting and couldn't get through the 9th, needing to burn LaHawk to throw four pitches to close out the game.

Valverde / Brocail out for...a while longer

In this update from Alyson Footer, we get a chance to see a time line on when the 8th/9th inning guys may return:

The two pitchers are working to keep their arms in shape without full use of their legs. In fact, they've been doing most of their throwing from their knees. Only recently have they been cleared to actually play catch while standing up.

Okay, well, that's not a good sign. How about a date?

Valverde, who has been on the disabled list since April 27 with a strained right calf that eventually needed to be drained of fluid, isn't expected back for at least three weeks. That return date may be a little liberal, however.

Brocail candidly said sometime around the All-Star break would be a realistic target.

Baseball America profile on Lexington

Nice little article from Baseball America - who never pass an opportunity to laugh at the Astros' farm system - on the Lexington Legends, and the turn-around taking place among the really young guys in the system. Thanks to Deputy Jason for the tip...

Here's the introduction:

The Astros’ farm system was rated the weakest in baseball two years in a row coming into the season, and with good reason thanks to a string of uninspiring drafts. Last season, their low Class A affiliate, the Lexington Legends, finished with a 45-93 record, the worst record of any full-season minor league team and a mark indicative of the plight of Houston’s farm system.

However, things might be looking up, if the early part of 2009 is any indication.

Matchup for G34 - Astros at Rockies

Last night did not go so well. Worst loss of the season. Paulino was not sharp, and the Rockies were. The only good thing to take away from the rout was that Ortiz came in and threw three innings to keep from burning the bullpen in an 11-run loss. Mike Hampton gets the start in his Parade of Old Teams, facing the team he spent two seasons with, going 21-28 with a 5.75 ERA. And this figures to be another high-scoring event, as Hampton is 17-10 lifetime at Coors Field with a 5.79 ERA / 1.70 WHIP.

Last three starts:

4/25 vMIL68/44:311/8101/62
5/1 @ATL4.15/50:210/972/42
5/6 vCHC5.17/34:48/11107/66

It's been since Apr 20 against Cincinnati that Hampton threw a quality start, and he hasn't struck out more than five batters in an outing since Apr 15 @ Pittsburgh. That said, Hampton did get eleven swinging strikes against the Cubs in his last start. Pitching on five days rest (instead of his normal four) is something that has happened just once: at Atlanta. And we all know how that worked out.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 27x95, .284/.376/.400, 14K:13BB
vs Lefties: 9x32, .281/.324/.406, 12K:2BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (73): .338/.375/.471, 13K:3BB
After First-Pitch Balls (59): .239/.397/.370, 13K:12BB

RISP: 9x28, .321/.424/.679, 3K:5BB
Runners on: 14x55, .255/.379/.455, 13K:11BB
2OwRISP: 6x14, .429/.529/1.000, 2K:3BB

Hampton has allowed the leadoff batter to reach in five out of his six starts. Two of the three HRs Hampton has allowed have come with runners in scoring position.

Jason Marquis

Marquis has been a bit of a surprise so far this season, so far going 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA in six starts, and even three of those coming at Coors Field.

Last three starts:

4/26 vLA7.16/35:49/14109/65
5/2 @SF95/14:117/11113/73
5/7 vSF68/52:015/1187/57

Marquis pitches to contact, and the second time around facing the Giants he got kicked around pretty good. With a career ERA of 4.53, It's hard to say if his success will last. Marquis has already given up five home runs in 41 innings, and only gave up 15 all of last season. So is Marquis just pissed at the Cubs for letting him go, or has he a newfound vigor? We'll see. Jimenez shut the Astros' bats down, two days after Tejada said that this was an Astros team that will hit the ball hard.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 16x72, .222/.250/.403, 8K:3BB
vs Lefties: 22x88, .250/.320/.364, 11K:9BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (73): .157/.178/.200, 15K:2BB
After First-Pitch Balls (81): .324/.407/.563, 4K:10BB

RISP: 7x39, .179/.250/.436, 5K:4BB
Runners on: 11x63, .175/.274/.333, 8K:9BB
2OwRISP: 2x15, .133/.133/.400, 1K:0BB

So with runners on, Marquis has been the anti-Hampton, and has only allowed four runs in 15ABs with two outs and runners in scoring position.

Against the Astros, Marquis is 9-6 lifetime with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.

And this could be what Berkman needs to get off the schneid - he's 21x43 with 14RBI and a .488/.607/.721 line against Marquis lifetime with 3K:13BB.

YotD: May 12

Round Rock
The Express went 1x9 with RISP last night in a 12-3 loss to Fresno last night. However, Brian Bogusevic was 2x3 with a double and a homer and 2RBI and is now hitting .324.

Corpus Christi
San Antonio took advantage of an 8-run 8th inning and beat Corpus 10-5 last night. However, Collin DeLome was 2x4 with a triple. And the YotD goes to Drew Meyer, 2x5 with two doubles and an RBI.

Lake Elsinore scored all eight runs in three innings last night in an 8-5 victory over the Lancaster JetHawks. However, Chris Johnson - in a rehab assignment, I guess - hit a 2-run double for the JetHawks.

Charleston defeated the Legends 3-2 last night in Lexington. However, Kody Hinze accounted for both runs with a 2-run homer in the 7th inning. Kyle Greenwalt gave up 3ER in 5IP.

Berkman: Still the best hitter?

I think what we may be seeing is a little bit of fear on the part of Cecil Cooper. Remember last week it was said that Berkman would be dropped to 5th in the lineup, which, for a .184 hitter is still a pretty generous spot. So where was he last night? Back in the 3-spot. And what did he do? Well, he got a hit.

Manager Cecil Cooper has admitted being concerned about his five-time All-Star’s prolonged slump, which was partly why he planned to drop him to fifth in the order last week before Berkman was sidelined. Yet Cooper hopes the three games (and four days) off help Berkman fit back in the third slot.

It's not exactly a secret that Berkman and Cooper don't go out to Pappasito's after home games. So I wonder how much of the reluctance to drop Berkman until he regains his swing (something he's been more than happy to do with Tejada and Bourn - who both expressed satisfaction with Coop's extension) has to do with trying to keep on Berkman's good side.

Regard, Berkman:
“He came up to me and said he wanted to put me back in the three hole and asked if I had a problem with that. I was like, ‘I’m OK either way. Whatever you want to do.’”

That’s where you want your best hitter. That’s where he belongs.”

But Berkman, right now, is not the Astros' best hitter. He's not the fourth-best hitter.


Wandy's success - Pudge-related? It looks that way. So Quintero will catch Hampton tonight (in Hampton's 2009 Parade of Former Teams), and Wandy will stick with Pudge tomorrow.


Proof that Coop has lost his mind:

“I wouldn’t mind getting Smith an at-bat somewhere.”

Reactions to G33 - Astros at Rockies

“They had four or five home runs tonight, didn’t they? I can’t remember how many balls went out of the ballpark. Not a good night of pitching for us and a pretty good offensive night for them.”

“No, I don’t feel anything different. It was just a bad day for me today. I battled with all my pitches. It was a tight zone, and the umpire didn’t get me a few calls, but that’s not an excuse. It got difficult, and sometimes my pitches stayed up there.”

Berkman, on Jimenez:
“He’s one of the harder throwers in the league. He threw me a changeup, and I was like, ‘Man, that looks slow.’ I look up, and it’s 90 miles per hour. So I was like, ‘Man, that’s most guys’ fastball.’ On top of that, his ball really moves. I don’t think people realize the movement that he has.”

Berkman, on his wrist:
“It felt good. Really, the only time I had trouble with it at all today was when I took some righthanded batting practice. So lefthanded, it felt really good. I didn’t really notice it. I’m very, very happy — obviously, not with the game, but I’m excited because I don’t feel like this is going to linger. I feel like this is behind me.”

Cooper, on Paulino:
I thought Paulino threw the ball OK, but he wasn’t as crisp and sharp as he had been in the past. I thought he got squeezed as well, but we just didn’t make enough quality pitches.”

Ian Stewart, on the Grand Slam:
“With the bases loaded two out, he threw me a slider first pitch. I figured he’s probably going to come back with the heater, probably away. He doesn’t want to make a mistake in, leave it out over the plate. I also thought - probably not another slider because he doesn’t want to bounce it. The game’s still relatively close there. It was only 5-0. I was looking for a fastball there, and it was up, and I was just able to put a good swing on it.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recap for G33 - Astros @ Rockies

If we chalk it up to nerves, would that make everyone feel better? Because Felipe Paulino did not do so well tonight in his magical return to the rotation. It was downright brutal, and it made Ubaldo Jimenez look like a star, which is so April of the Astros.

Paulino: 4IP, 7H, 7ER, 2K:2BB
Byrdak: 1IP, 1H, 1ER, 1K
Ortiz: 3IP, 4H, 1ER, 4K

Dude. This was bad. The Astros gave up four homers, one to Todd Helton, two to 8-hole hitter Ian Stewart, and one to Brad Hawpe - who went 4x4 with 5 RBI (Stewart also had 5 RBI). The game was maybe in reach until the 5th inning when the following happened:

Tulowitzki: 2-2 (8 pitch) single to left
Helton: 5 pitch walk
Hawpe: 2-1 single to center, scores Tulowitzki
Atkins: 6 pitch walk

Then Byrdak came in and...
Smith: FC, Helton out at home
Ianetta: 6 pitch strikeout
Stewart: 1-0, (3 pitch) grand slam to center

That made it 9-0, and not too many teams are going to come back from that. Especially this one.

First-pitch strikes: 12
First-pitch balls: 11


The Astros were 8x34 tonight, which ain't great, and also didn't walk, either. Multi-hit games came from Bourn (now hitting .295), Pence (now hitting .316), and Blum (now hitting .264). No-hit games came from Matsui (.245), Lee (.322), Tejada (.308), and Smith (pinch-hitting for Tejada and now 0x23). No extra-base hits. They just got worked by Jimenez.

Longest AB of the night: 6 pitches by Lee and Matsui.

Man of the Match:
Hunter Pence went 2x4, scored the only run for the Astros, and is now hitting .316, six points behind team leader Carlos Lee.

Goat of the Game:
Paulino. Maybe Byrdak. Paulino gave up 7ER, but three of those ER came from Byrdak giving up a grand slam. Eh, Paulino. Needed to show that Ortiz deserves to be in the bullpen, and only went 4 innings, leaving Ortiz to pick up three innings himself.

Does the Tacoma News-Tribune know something we don't?

Or did the newspaper just screw Ryan Divish and print a story today that he wrote over the weekend?

In an article published at 11:51am today, the News-Tribune posted their MLB Power Rankings. The Astros are as follows, at 27th:

Lance Berkman is hitting below .200 and Roy Oswalt doesn’t have a win and isn’t healthy.

Matchup for G33 - Astros at Rockies

Felipe Paulino is making his return to the rotation tonight after nutting it so bad he pushed Russ Ortiz to the bullpen. It's almost as though Coop and Wade said, "Fine! You're going to suck that much? Well, just go back to the rotation then!" in high, squeaky voices. The starter/reliever splits are pretty dramatic. Let's look, again, shall we?

As starter: 17.2IP, 19H/5ER, 13K:4BB, 2.55 ERA / 1.30 WHIP.
As reliever: 3IP, 10H/7ER, 4K:6BB, 21.00 ERA / 5.33 WHIP.

In that vein, we're going to skip the splits for Paulino for today. We're all going to feel silly if Reliever Paulino is more telling than Starter Paulino. Stay tuned, and follow the live blog this evening.

Ubaldo Jimenez

Jimenez has done a few things in the last couple of years, like led the National League in starts in 2008 (with 34). Like finished 2nd in HR/9inn in 2008 - 0.498. Like he hasn't given up a home run this season. Jimenez has started six games this season, and had a rough GS2-4, but strung together good starts his last two times out. And we'll see how that HR blanking holds up after this series - Jimenez has only pitched in two games at Coors Field - 11IP, 13H/7ER, 9K:5BB.

Last three starts:

4/25 vLA48/63:47/1091/51
5/1 @SF75/35:29/12109/66
5/6 vSF75/16:19/10103/66

So Jimenez is a fly-ball pitcher in Coors Field, against a team that is figuring out how to hit the ball hard. This could be pleasant for the Astros, and Deputy Jason could have plenty of things of which to speak...

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 12x57, .211/.333/.246, 15K:7BB
vs Lefties: 21x67, .313/.427/.478, 15K:13BB

After First-Pitch Strikes (67): .268/.364/.321, 15K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (74): .228/.397/.386, 15K:14BB

RISP: 9x40, .225/.353/.275, 12K:8BB
Runners on: 16x60, .267/.403/.383, 15K:13BB
2OwRISP: 6x22, .273/.448/.318, 5K:6BB

This could go either way. He throws a lot of pitches, walks a lot of guys, hits a lot of guys (5 this season so far). Five of his six starts have come against NL West teams, in which he's 2-3.

Wow. Padres fans are brutal.

There's really no way to condense this and it has nothing to do with the Astros, but it's from a Padres' fan blog:

Memo to Brian Giles: Retire

Yes I know that you are a competitive guy, I know your a hometown guy, I know that it must be extremely hard to realize that you just lost it. You had a good run (enhanced or not). You just have to man up, be a professional and go out with some dignity. See Mike Schmidt and Ryan Sandberg.

The only reason most of us feel you are still lacing it up everyday is to collect our hard earned money. Problem with that is that your "not" earning it. You just woke up and got old, that's ok it happens to everyone.

If you really:

1. Love the Padres and are a true San Diegan
2. Really do want to be close to your family and spend more time with them....

RETIRE! You have made an insane amount of money playing a kids game, help the padres save a little money this year, which will help keep guys like Jake Peavy.

Allow the team the ability to move forward without embarrassing youself further. I know it's only once or twice a week now that your on the bench, but soon it will be a platoon role and then a spot starter. Just save yourself the embarrassment and retire as a!

This way the team can bring up some young guys and start to see what we have for 2010. Clean up your image with the court case, and start doing some PR work. People love a guy that admits his mistakes and moves forward.

Thanks for the memories and good luck.

Honestly, because who else would get this award?

Congratulations to Jon Gaston of the Lancaster JetHawks, the California League's Player of the Week.

From May 5-10 Gaston was 13x22 with seven runs, three doubles, two triples, four homers, 14 RBI and one strikeout.

YotD: May 11

Round Rock
The Express scored four runs in the final three innings to defeat Oklahoma City 6-5 last night. Jose Capellan threw 6IP and gave up just 2ER; Edwin Maysonet was 2x4 with a run and 2RBI, but the YotD goes - again - to Yordany Ramirez. 2x4 with 2 runs and an 8th inning homer to tie the game at 5-5.

Corpus Christi
Corpus beat San Antonio 5-2 at home last night, thanks to pitcher Casey Hudspeth, who threw a complete game, allowing just two runs on nine hits.

Lexington used six pitchers to get back into the win column, 3-2 last night against Charleston. Robert Bono threw 5IP with 8H/2ER, but the YotD goes to catcher Federico Hernandez: 3x6 with his 4th HR of the season and 2 RBI.

Off yesterday.

Notes for the Rockies series

Series upcoming with the Rockies tonight - in which Deputy Jason will lead a live blog for Tuesday night's game!

There are some notes to report:

Berkman is "likely to play" this series. Taking some swings in the cage, Berkman reported his wrist felt fine. The march to Mendoza continues...

Quintero will be activated from the DL today, meaning J.R. Towles will be making his way to Round Rock.

Hitting coach Sean Berry was released from the hospital yesterday, and released the following statement:

“Thank you for all the messages of support. I would like to especially thank Dr. James Muntz and Dr. James Goldfarb and everyone at The Methodist Hospital for their expertise and professionalism. I also greatly appreciate the understanding and first-class actions by the Astros organization in helping myself and my family through this difficult time. I will be back soon.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flip a coin: Piss your pants or pass the powder

I actually have no idea what that means - I just like alliteration - but Brian McTaggart posted a blog today with reasons for optimism and reasons for concern with this Astros team.

Reasons for optimism
1. Lance Berkman is struggling, and the Astros aren't buried.
2. Wandy Rodriguez has been terrific.
3. Miguel Tejada, Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence are off to fast starts.
4. Roy Oswalt could be turning it around.

Reasons to start chewing our hair
1. Lance Berkman is struggling.
2. The bullpen has been used and abused.
3. Injuries have been a problem.
4. Miguel Tejada has played a ton of innings.

What do you think? Rank them in order of importance.

I'll say that, with Lance and Roy not performing up to what we now consider very normal extraordinary circumstances, the fact that they're only three games under .500 is significant. So for me, I'll put optimism at 1, 4, 2, 3.

For pessimism and self-loathing, I'll put this at: 2, 3, 4, 1. Lance will come around (said as I reach for some hair to chew). The bullpen pitching poorly and pitching often is not good. Jason Smith still needs a hit - a big, fat one - before I would be willing to hand him a couple of starts.

Want to hear Clemens talk? Nah, me neither.

But if you do, tune into Mike & Mike at 7:25am Central on Tuesday morning.

Astros signed Brendan Donnelly...a while ago.

So I totally missed this, until I perused Baseball America's transactions.

The Astros signed 37-year old pitcher Brendan Donnelly. And they also released Clay Hensley and 1B Eric Taylor.

Donnelly, you may remember, was with the Angels in the 2002 season in which they won the World Series and was an All-Star in 2003. And with the exception of 2008, he posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each season since, though he has only thrown 34.1IP at the Major League level since 2006. And he's already 1-0 with 7H/3ER, 3.86ERA / 1.29 WHIP, 7K:2BB in 7IP.

Hensley posted the following line this season at Round Rock:
10IP, 12H/8ER, 7.20ERA / 1.90WHIP, 5K:7BB.

Taylor, 23, was 5x27 at Lancaster this season for a .185/.333/.222 line in nine games for the JetHawks.

Mock Draft time!

2% of amateur players who get drafted actually make it to the Major Leagues. So in that vein, Minor League Ball has posted an updated 1st round mock draft.

Here is the latest projected pick for the Astros in June:
21. Houston - Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy
Yes, I know the Astros took a catcher in the first round last year. However, Myers' ability to stick at catcher is a little questionable, and his athleticism and bat make him the obvious option here.

This kind of hurts

From Peter Gammons' column:

Rays manager Joe Maddon maintains Ben Zobrist has blossomed into "one of the most valuable players in the game. I have no fear of playing him at seven positions; he's a switch-hitter and he has power. He's an amazing weapon."

Remember Ben Zobrist? He was traded by Tim Purpura for Aubrey Huff in July 2006.

Doing the Splits: Carlos Lee

Doing the Splits is a new feature we're rolling out today. You have seen the phrase in dealing with pitchers, but we're going to focus on interesting batters' splits from time to time. Today? Carlos Lee...

Over the last 7 days, El Caballo is:
11x22, .500/.577/.773, 4XBH-7RBI, 2K:4BB
Over the last 14 days:
20x46, .435/.471/.630, 7XBH-11RBI, 2K:4BB

Vs RHP: 28x88, .318/.351/.545, 12XBH-20RBI, 8K:6BB
Vs LHP: 11x29, .379/.455/.655, 4XBH-6RBI, 2K:4BB

After a first-pitch strike: 16x48, .333/.320/.563, 5XBH-10RBI, 6K:0BB
After a first-pitch ball: 14x52, .269/.381/.442, 7XBH-7RBI, 4K:10BB
When swinging at the first pitch: 9x17, .529/.529/1.000, 4XBH-9RBI

With RISP: 14x36, .389/.468/.750, 7XBH-22RBI, 3K:8BB
With runners on: 19x54, .352/.424/.648, 8XBH-24RBI, 6K:9BB

With 0 outs: 13x33, .394/.400/.697, 6XBH-9RBI, 2K:1BB
With 1 out: 12x38, .316/.364/.579, 4XBH-11RBI, 5K:4BB
With 2 out: 14x46, .304/.373/.478, 6XBH-6RBI, 3K:5BB

1st time facing SP: 7x31, .226/.219/.258, 1XBH-2RBI, 3K:0BB
2nd time facing SP: 11x26, .423/.516/.923, 7XBH-10RBI, 1K:5BB
3rd+ time facing SP: 11x25, .440/.500/.680, 4XBH-6RBI, 2K:3BB
Vs Relievers: 10x35, .286/.308/.514, 4XBH-8RBI, 4K:2BB

Off-Day Argument

So... Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has a very long column dealing with a long list of items. But one caught my eye:

An excerpt:
A couple of major league owners whispered to me last week that they wish there was something they could do to void contracts when a player such as a Manny Ramírez is suspended for violating the drug policy.

While Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will get $7.7 million in relief for Ramírez's unpaid 50-game suspension, owners would like to get rid of such contracts altogether.

"There ought to be something to protect us from something like this," said a National League owner. "We sign a contract with a player in good faith and then the contract is violated and the player basically can't live up to the terms of the contract because of his behavior.

"It's just not right that we have to be stuck with a contract like that."

So the off-day argument is as follows: If an MLB player violates the drug policy, should their contract be voided?

Week 5 Power Rankings

Here we take it all in for a meaningless, column-filling, off-day piss-taking:

Bleacher Report:
Astros: 22nd
Hey, they swept the Padres!

Astros: 23rd
Miguel Tejada had no home runs in the first 28 games, but he has two homers in the past four games.

Fox Sports:
Astros: 22nd
Lance Berkman's wrist threatening to derail the one thing the Astros do semi-well -- hit for power.

This makes more sense

Jeff Fulchino was sent down to make room for Jason Smith, needed because of Berkman's injury, which may keep him out until later this week. There are now 13 position players and 12 pitchers on the roster, and all is right with the world.

Eddie's Farm: Week 5

Fifth Installment of the Rise and Fall of the Minor Leagues:

Round Rock
14-17, 2nd place, 2GB



Corpus Christi
15-14, 2nd place, 1.5GB

Van Ostrand23x67.343/.443/.6129-1211:8

Van Hekken17.220/63.06/1.2514:2

Lexington Legends
17-13, T-1st place, -



Lancaster JetHawks
10-21, Last Place, 11GB



Sunday, May 10, 2009

Smith returns to Round Rock, Fulchino joins him

Jason Smith, if you recall, was designated for assignment. He had 10 days to be claimed by another team, which did not happen. Because of that, the Astros then tried to send him to Round Rock. He refused, gaining status as a free agent. The Astros then re-signed him as an unrestricted free agent. And then sent him to Round Rock. True story.

And Fulchino was sent to Round Rock. Again.

Reactions to G32 - Padres at Astros

“He’s been struggling to get that first win. Hopefully, now, we can roll off a few for him.”

“I really don’t know what I’m doing right now. I went from a fastball-curveball pitcher to a fastball-slider pitcher all of a sudden. I’ll try and figure it out.”

“Finally, we gave him some runs to work with. We need to score runs for him. If we do that, we’ll be okay.”

“We have to pick up the slack. One thing we know is we have a great hitting team. I know we’re going to hit. There are going to be a lot of games like this coming.”

Padres' pitcher Josh Geer, in one of the most illogical quotes you'll ever read:
“I don’t know what it was, but it was definitely my command. I was all over the place."

Jody Gerut:
“We just have to be better. We've hit a lot of hard balls for outs with runners in scoring position, but we have to start making our own luck. I suppose you do that by looking at your own prep work and asking yourself if you're doing everything to get yourself ready for each game. And if you need to do extra work, are you doing it? If the answers to those questions are yes, then it's just a matter of time before we regain the form we had. I still don't concede that this is our team. It isn't.”

Recap for G32 - Padres at Astros

The Astros swept the leg, Johnny, out of the Padres. And it felt good. Everyone needs to make someone else feel shame, and that's what the Astros did today. Oswalt finally got a decision, and his first win at that. Whoever had May 10 as the date in which Oswalt got his first win of the season wins, and also deserves to get bitten on the nostrils.

Oswalt: 6IP, 6H, 4ER, 4K:2BB
Byrdak: .1IP, 1H, 1ER, 1BB
Arias: .2IP, 0H
Sampson: 2IP, 2H, 1BB

Oswalt didn't pitch great, but as long as the Astros can hold it down until he, like Stella, gets his groove back, I'm okay with it. He did get six up/six down but after hitting Eckstein with a pitch (which I'm totally okay with), he did give up a homer to Chase Headley, but you know what he didn't give up? Three homers in an inning. Another two-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez - which was bound to happen - hurt the ERA, and it hurts to give up four runs with two swings of the bat, but the game was out of hand by then, thanks to an offense that went OFF.

First-pitch strikes: 17
First-pitch balls: 9


Unsung hero of the bullpen is Chris Sampson. 1.71 ERA and maybe the only reliever - other than Arias, who has a limited sample size - who you don't piss your pants when he comes to the mound.

As for the Astros offense. Well. 12 runs. 16 hits. Six of them for extra-base hits. The Astros had a .400 average today against the Padres. By the end of the 1st inning, the Astros had a 3-run lead thanks to Carlos Lee's RBI single and a Tejada 2-run shot to center. Tejada provided two-more RsBI (I'm a stickler for language, what can I say? It's "runs batted in," not "run batted ins") in the 2nd with a 2-run single. With a 4-run 4th, game was over. Three more runs in the 8th with home runs from Lee and Pudge put the game out of reach - even for the Astros' bullpen. With two outs in the inning, the Astros had 8 hits and 6 runs.

Longest AB of the night: 8 pitches by Kaz Matsui in the 3rd.

Man of the Match:
Pudge. 4x4 with 2RsBI and a walk with a triple and a homer. Now hitting .273.

Goat of the Game:
Hard to say. Everyone got a hit in the lineup. Byrdak gave up a home run to a guy hitting .228, after his 2x5 game. Keppinger went 1x5 with 5LOB. Toss-up. Flip a coin? Keppinger.

That Happened. Ortiz demoted.

So it happened. Russ Ortiz has been moved to the bullpen, replaced by Felipe Paulino.

“He’s not totally happy, but that’s to be expected from a veteran guy. He’s going to go do some things in the ’pen and try and earn a spot back.”

“It’s hard to accept this position, but if I want to be a part of this team I have to. I told them I want to be a part of this team.”

“This is my opportunity I have waited for."

Paulino's splits are vastly different from the rotation to the bullpen. Regard:
Starter: 17.2IP, 19H/5ER, 13K:4BB, .288/.347/.348
Reliever: 3IP, 10H/7ER, 4K:6BB, .556/.680/.833

Paulino will reclaim his spot in the rotation on Tuesday at Colorado, giving Hampton an extra day of rest, going on Wednesday against Jason Marquis.

Reactions to G31 - Padres at Astros

Cooper, on innings 6-8:
“You’re sailing along, and all of a sudden you hit a low spot, a high spot, a low spot. It was a pretty big roller coaster up and down.”

Hunter Pence:
“The big at-bats, Michael Bourn getting on and getting us a little momentum and putting more pressure on the pitcher, because now he has a base stealer on first. They’ve got a lot to think about it. It changes the at-bat completely.”

Cooper, on Lee:
“Carlos knows how to drive in runs. His swing is back. If there is a guy on second base, that’s probably the one guy I want up (at the plate). He knows how to get it done, even with two strikes.”

“Every day I feel better on my knee. I’m not thinking about my knee anymore. I feel good and confident the way I’m pitching.”

Nick Hundley, on the passed ball:
“I need to make those plays. I think if I catch those balls, we would have won the ballgame.”