Saturday, June 20, 2009

Recap for G67 - Astros at Twins

Bet you didn't see that coming. Quality start from Moehler. Homer by Bourn. Four runs in the 7th, one in the 8th, and that, my friends, is a 6-5 win. And Coop manages to get kicked out in the 5th. Anyone want to make the observation that the Astros came alive after he was in his office?

The Astros had six extra-base hits: four doubles and two HRs - Bourn (2) and Berkman (14).

Moehler got 11 groundball outs, gave up four hits and, not kidding, those were three homers and a double. LaHawk had to go and make things interesting by allowing a 2-run homer to Jason Kubel, while Valverde got his 4th save of the year.

Only Tejada and Lee (and Erstad, who was pinch-hit for after 2 ABs) went hitless.

Man of the Match: Michael Bourn, again. 2x3 with 2RBI and a walk.

Goat of the Game: LaHawk.

Matchup for G66 - Astros @ Twins

Brian Moehler

Someone please make this stop. Inconsistency, thy name is Brian Moehler. You never know what you're going to get. His ERA is an ungodly (for a couple of reasons) 6.66, but Moehler is 3-4, and since returning from injury, he is 3-2 with an ERA just north of 5.00.

Last three starts:

6/3 vCOL67/42:19/1274/42
6/9 vCHC38/53:27/670/41
6/14 @ARI66/32:24/1689/54

I still feel bad for giving him the Goat in a game that (a) was considered a quality start, (b) he won. So let's all hope this one is a little easier to call.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 39x98, .424/.454/.707, 11K:4BB
vs Lefties: 31x116, .267/.328/.457, 20K:10BB

When swinging at the first pitch (34): .469/.485/.781, 6XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (105): .323/.356/.545, 20K:4BB
After First-Pitch Balls (89): .299/.375/.506, 11K:10BB

RISP: 21x58, .362/.415/.534, 7K:6BB
Runners on: 35x100, .350/.400/.570, 13K:8BB
2OwRISP: 6x25, .240/.296/.240, 4K:2BB

When there aren't any outs, batters are reaching base at a .407/.424/.667 clip against Moehler. You know who would be available to start today? Bud Norris. Just saying.

Scott Baker

Baker had a rough start to 2009, losing his first four games and posting a 9.15 ERA through May 3. He's 4-2 since then, he has brought his ERA down in every game he's pitched in since May 19.

Last three starts:

6/4 vCLE76/210:17/10106/72
6/9 @OAK84/38:110/8116/82
6/14 @CHC75/25:05/1698/70

Over his last five starts, Baker has 33K:2BB. That's gross.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 43x146, .295/.316/.623, 37K:5BB
vs Lefties: 29x144, .201/.243/.299, 25K:7BB

When swinging at the first pitch (36): .361/.361/.528, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (149): .186/.208/.372, 43K:3BB
After First-Pitch Balls (119): .294/.345/.560, 19K:9BB

Alarming stat: When getting to a two-strike count, Scott Baker has yet to issue a walk.

RISP: 15x45, .333/.367/.644, 11K:3BB
Runners on: 29x187, .333/.366/.736, 17K:5BB
2OwRISP: 8x24, .333/.385/.583, 7K:2BB


So Paulino's second bullpen apparently went much better than the first, and he's "feeling great." He'll throw a full bullpen session today in Minnesota.


Apparently the Astros outfielders went out and pracriced catching flyballs against the lily-white backdrop of the roof of what they call "The Metrodome," which is similar to watching a game at a Wal-Mart.

Of course, it didn't help Jason Michaels much...


Word from Alyson Footer's tweet that the Astros signed 3rd Round Comp pick Jonathan Meyer (which we knew), 13th round pick Jake Goebbert (which we knew), but also 8th round pick Brandt Walker (which we didn't).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Recap for G65 - Astros at Twins

So it's not often you see a pitcher throw a complete game, and lose. Which is exactly what happened tonight in Minnesota. Roy threw 126 pitches in a 5-2 loss, where the Twins bunted their way all over the place - three sac bunts and a squeeze.

The Astros got five hits on the night - two from Darin Erstad (!), one each from Pudge and Matsui and one long bomb from Keppinger. Bourn provided the other run on a sac fly that scored Matsui.

And in a recurring theme, the Astros managed to get caught stealing twice: Erstad and Bourn.

Man of the Match: Michael Bourn. 0x1, but with a sac fly and two walks.

Goat of the Game: Miguel Tejada. 0x4 with 3Ks.

Missouri: Better than Houston?

Article in the Columbia Tribune about Missouri players/commits, and the draft. The Astros selected 6'5" RHP Eric Anderson in the 28th round last week. The Tribune has this to say:

Missouri baseball fan Web site reports that the family had confirmed that “regardless of draft results, he will be a Tiger.”

Matchup for G65 - Astros @ Twins

The Astros picked up the last game of the Rangers series, and will try to build on a little momentum in a weekend where the Brewers have the Tigers; Cards have the Royals; Reds have the White Sox; Pirates have the Rockies; and the Cubs have the Indians. It's worth noting that the Twins are 21-6 against National League opponents since the beginning of 2008.

Roy Oswalt

Oswalt turned in a great game against the Diam'n'back', but he has put in seven straight 6+ inning performances, and 10+ swinging strikes in four straight outings.

Last three starts:

6/1 vCOL76/18:26/13102/71
6/6 vPIT69/63:110/14105/70
6/13 @ARI75/15:29/12119/79

He's 2-1 in those last three starts, and was miserable against the Pirates, but his ERA is 4.37 on the season.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 43x170, .253/.316/.441, 32K:13BB
vs Lefties: 45x151, .298/.338/.470, 31K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (44): .390/.390/.683, 3XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (187): .237/.269/.362, 41K:5BB
After First-Pitch Balls (120): .291/.392/.524, 22K:17BB

RISP: 13x65, .200/.321/.292, 17K:10BB
Runners on: 32x130, .246/.322/.423, 28K:13BB
2OwRISP: 6x31, .194/.342/.226, 10K:5BB

When facing the first batter of the inning, Oswalt is allowing hits at a 27x81 clip: .333/.357/.580.

Kevin Slowey

And the Astros will be facing Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey, who is second in the AL in wins with nine, obviously going for his 10th win tonight.

Last three starts:

6/2 vCLE6.26/25:212/9102/67
6/7 @SEA4.210/42:24/1795/60
6/12 @CHC66/310:16/698/64

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 46x165, .279/.292/.442, 26K:2BB
vs Lefties: 53x157, .338/.371/.535, 35K:8BB

When swinging at the first pitch (43): .286/.286/.381, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (190): .306/.316/.478, 41K:2BB
After First-Pitch Balls (107): .319/.377/.553, 20K:8BB

RISP: 17x83, .205/.250/.325, 18K:4BB
Runners on: 37x135, .274/.308/.407, 24K:6BB
2OwRISP: 8x36, .222/.282/.278, 8K:1BB

This could be a pretty big challenge for the Astros, as you can see Slowey has a 6.1:1 K:BB ratio, second only to Roy Halladay.

Minor League Report: June 18

Round Rock smoked, 11-4, last night at home by New Orleans. Bogusevic, Yordany, and Chad Spann had six of the Express' 11 hits, while Chris Johnson crack-a-lacked his 2nd homer of the season. Jeremy Johnson threw 117 pitches (!) to 31 batters, going 5.2IP with 11H/10ER, 6K:3BB. Geary threw the final two innings, allowing a hit and a walk, but no runs.

Corpus Christi
...lost a wild one to Frisco. Check this out, inning by inning:
1st inning: Down 3-0
2nd inning: Down 4-0
3rd inning: Down 8-0
4th inning: Down 12-1
5th inning: Down 12-1
6th inning: Down 13-4
7th inning: Down 12-5
8th inning: Down 12-8
Mid 9th: Tied 13-13
Bottom 9th: Lost 14-13
That's right, came back from 12-1 down - at the end of five - and lost 14-13 in the bottom of the 9th. Frisco out-hit the Hooks 24-17, and committed four errors. Wilton Lopez lasted 2IP, 12H/8ER, 1K:1BB; Danny Meszaros: 3IP, 5H/4ER, 2K; Evan Englebrook: 0IP, 1H/1ER; Ryan McKeller: 3.1IP, 6H/1ER, 1K:1BB, 1L.
Wladimir Sutil and Drew Meyer had three hits each, while Drew Locke did what Drew Locke does - rake the ball, to the tune of 4x6 with 5RBI.

Modesto scored eight runs in the 7th/8th, but Lancaster was able to hold it off and win 10-8, thanks to 19 hits. Jack Shuck, Marcos Cabral, TJ Steele, and Koby Clemens had three hits each - Clemens providing 6 RBI including a 3-run HR. Clemens is hitting .315, while TJ Steele has a .367 average this season. Reid Kelly got the win, 6.2IP, 3H/2ER, 8K:1BB, while Erick Abreu and Jeff Icenogle combined for 6H/6ER in .1IP. That's right.

Brian Pellegrini led the Legends' offense with a 3-run homer in the 8th inning to put the game away in a 6-2 win over Bowling Green. Brad Dydalewicz threw 6IP, 4H/2ER, 6K:2BB while Ashton Mowdy, Henry Villar, and Patrick Urckfitz combined for 3IP, 1H, 5K:2BB.

The Houston Press' turn to rip Lee

I yell at the Houston Press a lot, but they're spot on today on Carlos Lee.

In the top of the first, Tejada and Lee get on base. There's a wild pitch. Tejada easily makes it to third, Lee loafs into second, at which point Jim Deshaies immediately starts talking about Lee barely being able to move on the bases because of his hamstring. Then in the top of the sixth, Lee was on third base when Kaz Matsui hit a ball in the hole between first and second. Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler fielded the ball and ran toward first because neither the first basemen nor pitcher were in position for his throw. Matsui was barely safe at first.

During this time, Lee stood at third base. Even before offering up the Lee hamstring excuse, Deshaies stated that he should have scored on the play. Then Deshaies goes on about how tough a job it is for third base coach Dave Clark because he's got to figure out how to get Lee to score. And it ends up that Lee stays at third the rest of the inning as the team fails to score, leaving the score tied at three. Luckily, Lee's teammates bailed him out in the later innings and the Astros ended up winning 5-3.

Now I don't care if Lee is loafing, or if he is injured. If he can't score from third, he shouldn't be in the game. I know the thing is that he's not supposed to run the bases, but that he's just supposed to hit home runs and jog around the bases. But if he's healthy, he's got to at least show some effort like the rest of his teammates, and if he's not healthy, he shouldn't be out there, especially if there's a worry that he's going to further injure himself running to home plate.

Since May 1...

Going into May 1, the Astros were 9-14. They are now 30-34, including five losses to the Rangers. One of the things I was curious about was how the Astros' hitters are faring since the first month of the season. Let's take us a gander...

Since May 1:


A couple of notes on this little exercise.
-The sample size is smaller, but Quintero is killing the ball lately - hitting .368 in June. He's not presently in danger of taking Pudge's job, but you can bet if offers start rolling in for Pudge, the Astros will (hopefully) start listening a little more closely.
-Bourn has 72 hits through 64 games. In 2008, Bourn didn't get his 72nd hit until July 22. Through 64 games, Bourn is hitting .295/.370/.406 . Through 64 games of 2008, Bourn was hitting .224/.281/.309.

Draft Day Update: B.J. Hyatt

4th round pick B.J. Hyatt is getting ready to head to Greeneville.

“We wrote down a (monetary) number that if it were met, I’d sign immediately. This is like a dream come true. My next goal is to make it to the major leagues. My goal is to be able to control my fastball, to be able to work it inside and outside within the strike zone. I had a couple of mechanical flaws and I hope doing this every day I’ll be able to fix it.”

On having Tommy John surgery during his senior year of high school:
“I knew I was going to have to work real hard to get back to where I was after that surgery,. It took awhile to get back to where I wanted to be. I had to reteach myself to pitch. I just continued to work to get better.

Might we see Bud Norris or Yorman Bazardo soon?

Ed Wade, acknowledged the club discussed Class AAA Round Rock Express righthander Bud Norris as a candidate to start Thursday.

Norris threw eight scoreless innings Monday night for Round Rock, so he would not have been able to go on his regular four days of rest on Thursday. Righthander Yorman Bazardo, who is 7-2 with a 2.34 ERA at Round Rock, also is on the radar.

“We talked a lot about Bud when it became apparent we were going to DL (Mike) Hampton,” Wade said via phone. “We discussed it.”


It's true. Norris was lights-out on Monday night - a game in which I witnessed - but he would have been starting on short rest, which is...yeah, a bad idea. Bazardo pitched Tuesday, so he wasn't available either.

The good thing is that it looks like it will be sooner than later that we might be able to get ready for 2010.

JJO offers up some advice to Coop

After word leaked out that Coop called a team meeting to apologize to Pudge for not congratulating him on setting the all-time Games Caught record (hang on. Let's look at that again. Coop forgot to apologize to Pudge? What was he doing during the video tribute - taking a deuce?), JJO offers some advice:

Cooper needs to understand that the media isn't out to get him. My friend Jerome Solomon jokes that he cannot believe some people say Cooper can get angry. Well, Cooper was definitely angry Thursday, and he needs to learn to pick his battles.

It's one thing for him to lose the clubhouse, something he did weeks ago. But the media has never, ever treated him unfairly in Houston. He needs to grow up. Yes, grow the heck up and be a professional. Drayton McLane needs to talk to his manager and explain to him that he's the face of the club, and now the face of the club is coming off as an angry whiner.

Then this...

At first Rodriguez didn't want to discuss Cooper's meeting, but he later approached the Chronicle to say he forgave his manager.

"I appreciated that," Rodriguez said. "That says something about the manager for the manager to do that. I forgive him. It happened. We move forward and we won (Thursday), so that's the important thing."

Recap for G64 - Astros @ Rangers

So the Astros avoided the season sweep with a 5-3 win over the Rangers. Down 3-0, the Astros scored the final five runs of the game to win it. How? Mainly by keeping Kinsler, Blalock and Cruz to a combined 1x11 - seeing 40

Backe. Backe, Backe, Backe: 4IP, 4H/3ER, 1BB, 2HR - one from Michael Young, one from Chris Davis.
Wright: 2.2IP, 3K:2BB
Arias: .1IP, 1K, 1W
LaHawk: 1IP, 2H, 1BB
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 1K, 1Sv

Backe pitched moderately effectively by keeping the ball - mostly - on the ground. Seven groundballs, Four flyball outs, and of course the two homers. 12 of his 34 strikes were of the non-contact variety, 10 called / 2 swinging. Wright had the same number of non-contact strikes, meaning the Astros got 27 called strikes off the Rangers. The bullpen recorded 5IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:3BB.

Once again, a throwing error by the catcher - this time Quintero - led to a run being scored. Nelson Cruz singled, then moved to second on a Backe WP, and then stole third. In the process of stealing third, Quintero threw the ball away, which allowed not only Cruz to score, but David Murphy to advance to second. Backe then buckled down and got the next two to get out of the inning. +1 to Pence for doubling Andrus off first on a Kinsler fly ball to right.

Offensively, it took the Astros a little while to get going. Berkman grounded out with 2 RISP in the first. Erstad GIPDed to end the 2nd. In the 5th, Quintero scored Erstad from 2nd with a single to center to make it a 2-run game. The 6th was pretty big. Let's look...
Keppinger: Walk
Tejada: Single
Lee: Single, scores Keppinger and Tejada takes the extra base to 3rd
Berkman: Walk
Pence: Struck out swinging
Matsui: (Tejada scores, Lee moves to third, Berkman to 2nd on a 1-2 passed ball) Infield single
Erstad: Struck out swinging
Quinter: FC

Five baserunners, two walks, three hits, two runs.

Pence led off the top of the 8th with a homer off Jason Jennings, and Bourn tripled to right scoring Quintero to account for the final two runs of the game.

Man of the Match: Hard to say. So we'll go a little odd here and give it to Wesley Wright. Backe had allowed three runs in four innings with a .438 OBP. Wright came in and got eight outs in nine batters, slowing down the Rangers offense. Too bad he didn't get the win, but it's still a win.

Goat of the Game: Let's give this one to Berkman. 0x4, but with a walk. Each of his four outs ended the inning and he left four Astros on base.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Smiley Rosenthal takes his bi-weekly shot at the Astros

At least Ken is consistent:

Here we go again. The Astros are old. One general manager says they have more below-average players than any team in the NL. But every year people urge Astros owner Drayton McLane to concede. And every year he responds with his familiar cry: "Charge!"

The Astros might own the fourth-worst record in the NL, but they forever see themselves as one winning streak away from contention.

Trading players such as right-hander Roy Oswalt, shortstop Miguel Tejada and closer Jose Valverde could bring the team desperately needed young talent. Yet, McLane has passed on such opportunities numerous times before.

The difference this season is that the Astros probably lack the financial flexibility to make a significant addition, the way they did last year with left-hander Randy Wolf. The team cut payroll last offseason, prompting the departures of Wolf and third baseman Ty Wigginton. Its attendance decline, one of the largest in the majors, will further inhibit GM Ed Wade.

A note on the Astros attendance:
So far in 2009, the Astros have "officially" brought in 987,848 fans in 34 games. That's an average of 29,054 fans/game.
In 2008, through 34 home games, the Astros brought in 1,222,323 fans, averaging 35,590 fans/game.

This isn't all the Astros' fault. The team had some scheduling advantages through the first 34 home games in 2008 that the 2009 team has not enjoyed. Namely, three games at home vs the Yankees. In 2008, the Astros got a Memorial Day weekend series against the Phillies that brought in 41,000+ in each of the three games.

This year, the Astros were on the road over Memorial Day weekend. And, of course, there are no Yankees in Houston this season. And the Astros have not yet played the Cardinals at home. So while I'm willing to admit that a -19% drop in attendance to date from 2008 to 2009 is alarming, I'm not willing to admit that it won't get a little closer - maybe not much - to zero.

Stark updates possible trade bait

In today's Rumblings and Grumblings column, Jayson Stark assessed the bottom nine teams in the latest ESPN Power Rankings and picked the player Most Likely to be Traded (an award I received in the ol' High School Yearbook). Of course the Astros are in the bottom nine. Who got the nod?

LaTroy Hawkins, RHP
Roy Oswalt? Forget it. We can't find anybody, on any team, who thinks Drayton McLane will sign off on dealing him. And if the Astros (just 6½ out in the NL Central, 5½ in the wild card) stay this close, "I don't know if the owner will deal anybody," said an official of one team. But if the Astros do any selling off -- and at this point that's still not likely -- it either figures to be on the Pudge Rodriguez front or in their bullpen, with either Hawkins or Jose Valverde moving on.

"If they want to move LaTroy, I'm in," said an executive of one team doing bullpen-shopping. "He's better than he's been in a long time. He's fixed that little move with taking the ball out of his glove, and now he's got an unbroken rhythm, and tempo, and it's helped him. I like the fact he's still willing to make adjustments. And he'll take the ball."

Stark also notes that Roy, in 14 starts, has pitched in five games where the Astros scored either 0 or 1 run while he was in the game. No commentary needed.

Minor League transactions

June 17: Placed OF Marques Williams on 7-Day DL
June 17: Reinaldo Pestana assigned to Lexington from Tri-City ValleyCats.

June 17: C Pedro Gonzalez assigned to Tri-City from Lexington

Matchup for G64 - Astros @ Rangers

So the Astros try to avoid the season sweep by interleague "rivals" the Texas Nolans. When was the last time the Astros were swept in a season series (where there are two separate stings of 3+ games)? You're going to love this: Never. Not once. They've been swept in interleague play by a bunch of teams, but only in three-game spurts. Never in the history of the franchise have the Astros played at least four games against one team and lost all of them.

So who do they send to the hill?

Brandon Backe

Like you, I have no idea what to expect from Backe tonight. General consensus is that he's going to get it handed to him. But how many times have we thought that about Backe in the past? Too bad this isn't a playoff game, he'd be lights out. We're not going to do any sort of statistical analysis, because it really doesn't count for much. In four appearances - all in relief - Backe has yet to record more more than nine outs. He has thrown 68 and 56 pitches in his last two appearances, respectively, but again only getting nine outs in both. He has given up runs in all four appearances. In his last appearance, a 3IP, 5ER outing, Backe recording only 1 groundball out.

Of course, he could go out and dominate. But the way he's pouting (see previous posts), I'm not so sure. He faces...

Vicente Padille

Padilla, with or without his flotilla, enjoyed some success once already in interelague play in his last outing with the Dodgers. He comes in with a 5-3 record and a 4.82 ERA.

Last three starts:

6/2 @NYY3.27/71:412/489/46
6/7 @BOS74/24:410/999/59
6/12 vLAD54/02:38/9108/71

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 22x113, .195/.266/.265, 15K:8BB
vs Lefties: 43x135, .319/.429/.437, 18K:23BB

When swinging at the first pitch (34): .267/.333/.333, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (127): .237/.286/.339, 21K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (128): .290/.438/.390, 12K:25BB

RISP: 19x70, .271/.366/.343, 7K:7BB
Runners on: 33x114, .289/.397/.368, 15K:16BB
2OwRISP: 6x27, .222/.323/.333, 4K:2BB

David Duncan on his way to Tri-City

We talked yesterday about David Duncan's struggles for Lancaster this season. It looks like he'll be on his way to Tri-City for a confidence booster.

"I’m just the type of pitcher who’s just going to go out there and throw strikes, try to challenge some hitters, and try to get through the lineup as quickly as possible, try not to have to make too many pitches and stay in the game as long as I can. I’ll be a lot more confident. I’m coming from a league that’s very hitter-oriented, the Cal League, and right now I just want to come back here and try to relax and get back to throwing the way I can."

Backe: Kind of a whiner?

"I'm happy I'm pitching at least, but I don't want it to be like this, filling in for somebody that got hurt. When he gets off the DL, things are going to be jumbled around again. I'm just trying to step in and do what I can as a teammate to help fill in his spot for the time being. There's no telling what's going to happen around here. I'm just trying to do my best on the mound when I'm called upon. Unfortunately, Hampton got hurt and I'm going to step in and try to eat up as many innings as I can."

So Backe said kind of the right things, but maybe Backe should be happy he's getting a start, instead of the Astros Geary-ing him.

Draft Day Update: Jake Goebbert

13th round pick Jake Goebbert signed with the Astros, and will be assigned to Tri-City.

After negotiating with the team during the past several days, a source close to the situation said Goebbert signed for $100,000.

The decision means Goebbert will forego his senior season at Northwestern, but the source indicated that the contract also includes an additional $50,000 that Goebbert can use should he choose to complete his college degree.

Billy Beane will do well to wear headgear

Ex-Astro/MMA fighter Shawn Chacon signed a minor league deal with the Athletics.

Bobby Heck chat recap

Bobby Heck conducted a chat yesterday about the draft. Allow me to break it down for you, so you don't have to read the Chronicle. Also note that Bobby Heck let it slip they signed 3rd-Round Comp pick Jonathan Meyer.

On the Astros' best steal of the draft:
Probably Dallas Keuchel was a guy we thought dollar for dollar, although we haven't signed him yet because he's in the College World Series. He is a college lefthander in the SEC who had success, and you usually don't find him in the seventh round.

Late-round happiness:
29th rounder Garen Wright a center fielder from Putnam High in Oklahoma. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school. His size and athleticism are very intriguing. He turned down multiple Division I basketball scholarship offers. He also turned down multiple Division I baseball scholarships. He wanted to get out and play. He's a not a fast-track guy. He's more of a developmental players. We're excited about his tools and upside. It's fair to say he wasn't treated like a 29th rounder.

On 2nd-round pick Tanner Bushue:
He's an athletic kid with a natural athletic and simple delivery and good arm action. We project him to have a plus fastball and a plus curveball and to be a good strike thrower. We're comfortable at this time saying he projects as a major league starter.

On Jason Castro's progress:
He's been in Double-A for a week now and is hitting over .350. There's still more work for him to be major-league ready, but just a year ago he was in Omaha with Stanford at the College World Series and now he's halfway to the big leagues. That says a lot about the progress he's made.

On how the Astros assign players to the Single-A level:
Tri-City is geared mostly toward college players. The NY-Penn league is mostly toward college players. The Appalachian League is geared to second-year profesional players, advanced high school draft picks and junior college draft picks. The Gulf Coast League is more a first-year landing spot for players from Latin America as well as some of your high school draft who may need additional acclimation to profesional baseball.

On 4th Round pick Telvin Nash:
We see Nash as a potential power hitter with 30-plus home run potential. He was another two-sport athlete from the Atlanta Area. Griffin High school, the same high school Tim Beckham, who was the first pick in the 2008 draft. Telvin passed on some Division I football scholarships and needs to catch up as far as games he's missed in the falls when he played football while others were playing baseball.

On Danny Meszaros:
That's exciting for a kid that wen't from the 48th round in last year. Clarence Johns and I signed him in a Courtyard Hotel in Cape Cod. He went straight from there to Tri-City, had success there and has had continued success at Lexington and to Double A. I'm very proud of him, happy for him and happy for the Astros.

Best pitches:
Best fastball is shared by fourth-rounder B.J. Hyatt and 17th rounder Justin Harper, both of whom throw up to 95-mph. Best curveball is Tanner Bushue, the second-round pick. Best changeup is possessed by 7th-rounder Dallas Keuchel.

On P Mark Jones:
This is a pitcher that was dug up by our area scout Everett Stull, our area scout in the mid atlantic states who is a former major league pitcher. He thinks he has a chance to be a starter down the road. He thought he'd have a 3-4 pitch mix when it was all said and done and liked the progress he made in the spring.

Justice rips Lee

Interesting blog this morning from Richard Justice on Carlos Lee.

An excerpt:
Carlos Lee loafed on an infielder grounder in the 10th inning. He presumed it was a routine out to the shortstop, but the ball was bobbled and Lee was caught looking bad...There are worse things than Carlos Lee not running hard to first base. For instance, there's the owner, general manager and manager ignoring Carlos Lee not running hard to first base.

Lee's play wasn't the worst thing that happened to the Astros Wednesday night in Arlington. There were again runners thrown out on the bases, errors, etc. If you care about the Astros, this should be an energizing time. Every ugly loss (leaves) the franchise closer to the reckoning day that's coming.

There may be days when the people in charge still convince themselves that everything is going to be OK, but mostly they seem to know it's time for a course correction.

They'll let it play out awhile longer, but sometimes between now and July 31 if the Astros clearly are out of contention, Drayton is going to pull the plug and begin the reconstruction.


I am generally opposed to any type of loafing, except when it involves me doing the loafing. That said, Lee should run hard on every play - and as much as I hate to give credit to Mark Teixcisdfiehasra, he scored from first on a routine pop out against the Mets last Friday night. However, Lee is playing through some leg issues. But I agree, I'm in favor of whatever catalyst is necessary to overhaul this club.

Hampton explains his groin

In today's Notes column, we read about Hampton's groin:

“When it happened I knew it wasn’t terrible. It’s still a little bit sore but it still wasn’t bad. Hopefully I’ll just miss two starts and this isn’t something that lingers.”

The injury apparently happened on his last pitch against Arizona on Friday.


And Backe has a fairly simplified view of what his job will be tonight as he makes his first start of the season for the Big Club:

“It’s more just me getting people out. I really haven’t done too good of a job lately. Hopefully I’ll turn it around with this start.”

Recap for G63 - Astros @ Rangers

Well, that wasn't much fun. The Astros have never lost five straight to the Rangers, which happened last night, 5-4 in ten innings. Ortiz pitched well, going another season-high six innings, allowing three earned runs. Let's take us a gander:

Ortiz: 6IP, 7H/3ER, 5K:1BB
Sampson: 1IP, 1K
LaHawk: 1IP, 1H, 1K
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 2K
Fulchino: .1IP, 2H/1R (0ER), 1BB

Fulchino got the loss, but on an unearned run, of which there were two, thanks to two throwing errors by Pudge and one by Keppinger on a groundball. Middle relief looked sharp, as did Ortiz. Ortiz threw 17 of his 25 first pitches for strikes. Ian Kinsler (on whom my wife has a not-so-secret crush, which burns me to my core), scored the winning run. Why is that important? Because Keppinger's throwing error allowed him to reach to lead off the inning, which he then stole econd. Then Michael Young singled, and Fulchino intentionally walked Hank Blalock. That's bases loaded for Nelson Cruz, who flied out to center. David Murphy's single allowed Kinsler to score the winning run, but the 10th inning's complexion could have been much, much different had Kinsler not reached base. Murphy's single wasn't enough of a rip to score a runner from second.

The Astros had another game in which they took themselves off the basepaths. Michaels led off the 9th with a single, Bourn bunted into a fielder's choice, getting Michaels out at 2nd. Bourn was then caught stealing second. Of course, Keppinger singled two pitches later - which, had he made it, or had Michaels been on second, could have scored the go-ahead run.

Hunter Pence was 4x5 with an 8th inning homer, while Keppinger, Lee and Matsui all had two-hit games. Berkman and Tejada went hitless, going a combined 0x9. Oh, and congratulations to Pudge, who set the all-time record for games caught. Should he be able to avoid this whole...mess, he'll be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Man of the Match:
Hunter Pence. 4x5 with a game-tying homer, and now hitting .328 with a .408 OBP.

Goat of the Game:
This is tough. I really don't want to give a Goat to a guy who set an all-time major league record. But I'm gonna. Pudge was 1x5, left Pence on 2nd base - twice, but once (obviously) in the 10th. And the throwing error, which he almost rocketed the ball to Azle, trying to get Kinsler at third.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cards may not be interested in Miggs

So reports Gordon Edes of Yahoo, who also mentions after this season Koby Clemens could be shifted to third base.

Matchup for G63 - Astros @ Rangers

So the Astros are going to be running spot-starters in 40% of their rotation for the next little while, what with Paulino's bad hammy and Hampton taking his assigned seat on the Meat Wagon through the rest of interleague play. How will the Astros respond? Hard to say. But the September call-ups could begin in July if the next two weeks go poorly.

Russ Ortiz

Ortiz earned this start due to his last start against the Cubs, in which he threw 5.1IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:3BB. Incredibly, the 16 outs he recorded are the most of the season so far. Pitch count is still high, 92 pitches for 17ABs - 5+ per, on average.

Starting vs Relieving:


Matt Harrison

Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison is getting his first start - and appearance - since May 25.

Last three starts:

5/14 vSEA95/27:010/15102/67
5/20 @DET59/53:27/1294/55
5/25 vNYY511/72:110/1396/61

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 58x167, .347/.402/.545, 19K:14BB
vs Lefties: 10x54, .185/.214/.296, 10K:2BB

When swinging at the first pitch (28): .286/.286/.500, 5XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (108): .272/.306/.408, 15K:4BB
After First-Pitch Balls (104): .356/.433/.567, 14K:12BB

RISP: 16x56, .286/.339/.482, 7K:5BB
Runners on: 32x107, .299/.333/.486, 16K:6BB
2OwRISP: 4x23, .174/.208/.348, 4K:1BB

Jason Jennings has a very strange idea of what we find heartening

In the Dallas Morning-News' blog this morning, we're told that Jason Jennings "finally feels healthy again."

From Jennings:
"I wanted to show those fans something because they never got to see me really pitch well because of the injuries. I wasn't able to do my job. Now I am."

So...yay. Good for him. I guess Tim Purpura pulled that trigger two years too early.

What! Hampton to DL

So I was wondering how come Wright was called up from Round Rock, when I saw this story, and then it all made perfect, ridiculous sense.

Placed on the DL with a strained left groin, the move was retroactive to June 14. It happened vs Arizona last week. So who's going to take his place? Yep...Brandon Backe.

On Sammy Sosa's agent

It's not fair to hammer Scott Boras for representing PED users, and not do the same to other agents.

If the news about Sammy Sosa is true, then it should be known that Adam Katz - Sosa's agent - also represents Carlos Lee and Aaron Boone. Just so you know...

A thought on some damage control

So the news of Sammy Sosa's alleged placement on The List wasn't exactly news...

"That's not that surprising at all. There are just certain guys that you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit."

This story is going to be on the front page of baseball sections for a couple of days, and it's going to hit Sosa's chances of making it into the Hall of Fame, fairly or unfairly (that's a debate for another time).

If MLB wanted to do the players on this list a favor, and there is an extremely good chance that MLB is not interested in this idea, then there's a simple way. There are a little over 100 players who tested positive in the anonymous testing that is getting less and less anonymous. Legacies and images are being tainted with every name that comes out in this test, and again, this isn't exactly bad from a fan's perspective, but it's certainly bad for Bud Selig and the H.M.S. MLB.

But if every 4-6 weeks a new name comes out, MLB gets the black eye right along with those players who are exposed. How best to deal with this? Short of modifying the memories of investigative reporters, MLB could just release the whole list. Can you remember, without looking, every player in the Mitchell Report? Of course not. But you can name every single Major Leaguer to get a 50-game suspension - even JC Romero, who quite possibly got screwed by a GNC - this season. And you're going to remember everyone else from here on out.

So by releasing the whole 100-something names, it goes from a national story to a regional story. The New York Media probably won't key in on guys on the list who played in Minnesota, or Atlanta, or Houston. We'll always remember, but by releasing the whole thing, there would be too much information to cover, and the information would overload the ability to cover it on the same level that A-Rod got and Sosa is getting now.

Is this Right? Probably not, but it's the best last chance MLB has to spin some damage control.


June 17: Wesley Wright recalled from Round Rock

Round Rock
June 16: Chad Paronto placed on 7-Day DL

June 15: Activated RHP Jose Duran from the 7-Day DL
June 15: LHP David Duncan placed on temporarily inactive list.

Duncan this season has had some struggles: 0-9 with an 8.51 ERA in 48.2IP. 82H/46ER, 33K:17BB and a 2.03 WHIP. Let's hope he gets some time to figure it out.

YotD: June 16

Round Rock
Nashville shut down the Express, 5-3 in Nashville last night. The Express got six hits - all singles - and all three runs were scored in the 6th inning. Tommy Manzella got two hits, while Reggie Abercrombie took himself off the bases twice - once caught stealing, and once on a pickoff. Of last night's lineup, Manzella is the only one close to hitting .300, with a .290 average. Yorman Bazardo did what Yorman Bazardo does, and threw 7IP, 5H/1ER, 5K. Geoff Geary got the loss, allowing three hits and two walks (and four runs) in 1IP.

Corpus Christi
The Hooks spread out 10 hits over eight players (Sutil and Florentino enjoyed two-hit games) as the Hooks defeated San Antonio 4-3 on the road. Sergio Perez threw 5IP, allowing 3ER, while Andy Van Hekken, Evan Englebrook and T.J. Burton threw four innings of scoreless relief.

Inland Empire got four runs in each of the 7th and 8th to defeat the JetHawks 10-5. Six 66ers had multi-hit games as Chris Hicks gave up 11H/6ER in 5.2IP. Jeff Icenogle gave up four hits and a walk - three earned runs - and recorded just one out. Jon Gaston was 3x5 with a homer and Gabe Suarez was 2x4.

Jordan Lyles got the win for Lexington, allowing 3ER in 6.2IP for the Legends, and getting 6Ks in a 5-3 win. Brian Pellegrini was 2x3, while Kyle Miller also had a multi-hit game. They got RBIs from Miller, Ebert Rosario, Steve Brown, and two from Pellegrini.

Recap for G62 - Astros @ Rangers

There it is. 6-1 loss to the Rangers, and that's four straight Ls to the in-state rivals.

Let me tell you what's killing me about this. After Wandy's last, brilliant start, Coop comes out and says: Quintero catches Wandy. So last night, needing two games to break Fisk's all-time games caught record, Pudge gets the start. Not Quintero. And Wandy gives up 6ER in 4IP. Now I'm not saying - at all - that what happened to Wandy is Pudge's fault. The Rangers can, and did, hit the ball all over the place. But a little bit of consistency would be nice. Fact: Wandy has had one good start in his last five. Fact: Quintero caught Wandy in that one good start. Fact: Coop went back on what he said.

I understand Pudge deserves to set this record in Arlington. But he very easily could have caught tonight/tomorrow's game to break the record in Arlington, and still let Quintero catch Wandy.

So Wandy was bad. Control issues all night long - allowing 11 baserunners in 4IP, four extra-base hits and three of those home runs. 103 pitches, and the thing was, Wandy got in front of a lot of them - 14 of 23 batters saw first-pitch strikes. And 14 Rangers had ABs of 5+ pitches. All three Rangers home runs came on first-pitch balls.

But let's give it up to Arias for throwing 37 pitches to get through three innings. Good outing from him.

Offensively, Bourn and Tejada provided 80% of the offense. Four of the five hits. Tejada now hitting .348, with Bourn now at .294. Lone HR from Pudge, his sixth of the year. The Astros again took themselves off the basepath, in the first inning. Setting? Bourn on 2nd, Tejada on 1st. Lee up with one out. Lee struck out, Bourn was caught stealing third.

Why in the world was Bourn stealing third with Lee up to bat? Bourn is so fast, it's not like he needs the four extra steps to make it home on a single.

Man of the Match: Miguel Tejada. On base three times, with two hits and a walk.

Goat of the Game: It has to go to Wandy. Now he's just being silly.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Question answered

Who gets jobbed when Matsui comes off the DL?

The Astros put Geoff Blum on it. Problem solved.

Rangers v. Astros G62 LiveBlog!!!!!!!

Don't Forget the Live Blog!

Tonight! Give it up for Deputy Jason. And if you're going to the games, print you off a PoC and get some pictures.

Sporting News' six players who can change the NL landscape

Really? This is who they chose?

Astros: 2B Kazuo Matsui
What was expected: The Astros were hoping their switch-hitting leadoff hitter could stay healthy this season. Matsui posted a career-best .354 on-base percentage last season despite three stints on the D.L.
What has happened: Like most of the Astros, Matsui struggled early. He then was slowed by the same hamstring that disabled him once last year, and he went on the disabled list in late May. The Astros started winning shortly after Matsui went out.
What's next: Matsui, hitting .219 with a .288 OBP, is scheduled to come off the disabled list today, though he told reporters his hamstring still isn't 100 percent. With outfielder Michael Bourn performing well in the leadoff role, manager Cecil Cooper has a decision to make if Matsui doesn't pick up his game.

I know Matsui is owed a decent amount of money - about $7.5 million between now and the end of his contract, thanks to some quick math. Would you release him?

Great article on Max Sapp

Excellent article from the Orlando Sentinel following the progress on Max Sapp.

An excerpt:
Six months later, Sapp has made a full recovery expect in one area: He remains at risk for seizures because his illness disrupted the delicate electrical system in his brain. He takes two anticonvulsant medicines every day to stay seizure-free. At precisely 8:30 a.m., he takes a 1,500-milligram dose of a drug called Keppra. At 8:30 at night, he takes another 1,500 milligrams of Keppra and 300 milligrams of Phenobarbital.

When doctors told him to wean off of Phenobarbital in March, Sapp suffered two more seizures. Until that setback, he was planning to return to playing minor-league ball around midseason for the Astros, who gave him a $1.4 million signing bonus in 2006. Now it's unclear when he'll play in games again.

"We don't want to rush him or push him too hard or too soon or too fast," said Ricky Bennett, the Astros' director of player development.

Matsui what?

So what's going to happen? The Astros have to make a move before tonight's game. Blum to the DL? Kata to Round Rock?

Live Blog Tonight!

Join Deputy Jason as he guides you through G62 (that's right, three rhyming words, right in a row) in a Live Blog starting this evening. It's been a little slow lately, so please do make plans to join Astros County this evening.

April interview with Brandon Wikoff

Got a heads-up in the inbox from the Illinois Baseball Report about an interview they did with Astros signee SS Brandon Wikoff.

Read it in its entirety.

Matchup for G62 - Astros @ Rangers

The Silver Boot series resumes tonight in Arlington, picking up from the three games played at Houston last month...where the Astros were swept. That marks the first time the Astros have been swept by Texas since May 20-22, 2005 (the middle game of which was the 18-3 beatdown; tip of the cap to Ezequiel Astacio).


After three rough starts, Wandy managed to put something together his last time out against the Cubs. We'll see if Quintero or Pudge catches Wandy tonight - with Pudge's imminent record-breaking game on tap.

Last three starts:

5/30 @PIT4.29/56:35/11105/67
6/4 vCOL510/77:210/898/63
6/10 vCHC75/16:28/11116/70

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 64x238, .269/.323/.391, 59K:18BB
vs Lefties: 13x61, .213/.294/.328, 16K:7BB

When swinging at the first pitch (28): .357/.257/.429, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (168): .245/.283/.316, 48K:7BB
After First-Pitch Balls (134): .250/.351/.448, 27K:18BB

RISP: 22x74, .297/.341/.392, 18K:5BB
Runners on: 39x122, .320/.370/.402, 25K:9BB
2OwRISP: 11x38, .289/.357/.368, 11K:3BB

Kevin Millwood

Millwood is enjoying one of those seasons that would pretty easily qualify as an "anomaly." This is his 4th season with the Rangers. He's posted ERAs of 4.52, 5.16, and 5.07. ERA this year? 2.72. It's not a contract year. Does it just take three seasons to figure out how to pitch in Arlington?

Last three starts:

5/31 vOAK65/25:29/10116/68
6/5 @BOS77/05:48/16117/70
6/11 vTOR7.25/01:014/13105/68

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 49x191, .257/.314/.372, 20K:14BB
vs Lefties: 36x161, .224/.290/.422, 29K:13BB

When swinging at the first pitch (42): .357/.357/.714, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (186): .190/.220/.246, 33K:4BB
After First-Pitch Balls (155): .275/.387/.496, 16K:23BB

RISP: 16x80, .200/.264/.338, 8K:7BB
Runners on: 32x137, .234/.314/.365, 18K:15BB
2OwRISP: 5x40, .125/.222/.275, 4K:5BB

Citizenship Exam Answer Key

Congrats to Deputy Jason, who was just recertified in his Deputyship by notching an overwhelming win - 14 correct answers.

1. Which Major League team were the Houston Buffaloes affiliated with from 1921-1958?
St. Louis Cardinals

2. Which Houston judge was responsible for building the Astrodome?
Judge Roy Hofheinz

3. Which Hall of Famer hit a single off of a speaker on the roof of the Astrodome?
Mike Schmidt

4. Who hit the first home run in Astrodome history?
Mickey Mantle

5. Which Astro was nicknamed the “Toy Cannon?”
Jimmy Wynn

6. Which Hall of Famer was responsible for teaching Joe Morgan his famous “arm-flap” batting stance?
Nellie Fox

7. Which Astro won five consecutive Gold Gloves – a club record?
Doug Rader – 1970-1974

8. Name the six pitchers who combined to throw the no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in June 2003.
Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, Billy Wagner

9. Ten numbers have been retired in Astros history – who do they belong to?
Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jimmy Wynn, Jose Cruz, Jim Umbricht, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, Don Wilson, Jackie Robinson, Larry Dierker

10. Whose logo does Nolan Ryan wear on his cap in the Hall of Fame?
Texas Rangers

11. Who was the owner of the Houston Astros before Drayton McLane?
John McMullen

12. Who did the Astros trade in 1991 for catcher Eddie Taubensee?
Kenny Lofton

13. Which former Astros manager became the sixth manager in Major League history to win the division in his first year?
Larry Dierker

14. Who is the only Astros pitcher to win the Silver Slugger?
Mike Hampton

15. The Astros set a club record on July 23, 2000 by hitting four home runs in an inning vs. the Cardinals (yay!). Who hit them?
Bill Spiers, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Richard Hidalgo

16. Who hit the first Grand Slam at Minute Maid Park?
Ken Caminiti – May 9, 2000

17. Who was the last Astro to hit three home runs in one game?
Morgan Ensberg – May 15, 2005 vs. San Francisco

18. June 28, 2007, Craig Biggio collected his 3000th hit. Which pitcher gave it up?
Aaron Cook

19. Craig Biggio is 5th on the all-time doubles list, with 668. Who did he pass at 665?
George Brett

20. Who has the highest career batting average in Astros history?
Lance Berkman

Where you can find the new Astros...

The Kissimee Somethings - Gulf Coast League
Tanner Bushue, Telvin Nash, BJ Hyatt, Ronald Sanchez, Mark Jones, Aaron Bray.

Greeneville Astros
You better believe I'll be at a few of these games
David Williams, Ryan Humphrey, J.D. Martinez, Travis Smink, Scott Migl, Grant Hogue.

Tri-City ValleyCats
Brandon Wikoff, Ben Orloff, Justin Harper, J.B. McDonald, Brian Kemp, Barry Butera, Robby Donovan, Mike Modica, Nick Stanley, Brenden Stines

All of your new ValleyCats are college-age players.

“I’m very satisfied to have this number of players signed this quickly,” assistant GM of scouting Bobby Heck said. “It’s a tribute to the work our scouts have done and the relationship with these people in preparing for signing. You can go in there and sign the player and not just feel each other out."

Bud Norris and Astros County doing their best Derrick Rose impression

Beautiful(-ish) Greer Stadium

Big Bad Bud Norris & Astros County

Impressions of the Express

So last night was actually the first time I had ever seen Round Rock play, and let me tell you, I was impressed. A couple of things I theoretically knew, but needed to see...

1. Reggie Abercrombie is fast. Scored from first on a double to left.
2. Bud Norris throws hard. He threw a lot of fastballs, and made the mini-Brewers look pretty silly all night long.
3. Brendan Donnelly throws really hard, too. And he has a weird wind-up.
4. Chris Johnson didn't have a great night, but made a lot of contact - except when he struck out in the 9th and got everyone in the stadium 30 free White Castles. You read that right.

Interestingly enough, there's an article on Chris Johnson in the Chronicle today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dying for some commentary?

I'm at the Round Rock/Nashville game. Follow updates on Twitter - @Astroscounty
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Heyman: (ripping ticket) "Roy stays."

Get the Hoosiers reference?

Jon Heyman's column today:

With the Astros winning, Roy Oswalt is all but certain to stay in Houston. "They could never get what they wanted for him, anyway," one AL executive said.

Angels interested in LaHawk or Valverde?

With Scot Shields going down for the season, could the Angels be interested in some of the Astros late-inning help?

The LA Times seems to think so.

The Angels have spoken with the Colorado Rockies about reliever Huston Street, and other possible targets include Jose Valverde or LaTroy Hawkins of the Houston Astros or Chad Qualls of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Astros have signed 22 picks

And here they are:

2nd: RHP Tanner Bushue
3rd: OF Telvin Nash
4th: RHP B.J. Hyatt
5th: SS Brandon Wikoff
9th: SS Ben Orloff
11th: C David Williams
15th: OF Ryan Humphrey
16th: 1B Ronald Sanchez
17th: RHP Justin Harper
18th: RHP J.B. MacDonald
19th: OF Brian Kemp
20th: OF J.D. Martinez
21st: 2B Barry Butera
22nd: RHP Mark Jones
23rd: RHP Robby Donovan
24th: LHP Mike Modica
25th: 1B Nick Stanley
27th: 3B Aaron Bray
31st: LHP Travis Smink
33rd: RHP Brenden Stines
34th: RHP Scott Migl
35th: OF Grant Hogue

Bobby Heck and scout Doug Deutsch are still negotiating with first-round pick Jiovanni Mier, a high school shortstop from southern California.

"It's been very positive," Heck said. "Doug Deutsch has had multiple meetings with the family since his selection, and we've been given all indicators it's going to happen sooner than later."

Who hasn't signed yet?

1st: Jiovanni Mier
3rd (Comp): Jonathan Meyer
6th: SS Enrique Hernandez
7th: LHP Dallas Keuchel
8th: RHP Brandt Walker
10th: 3B/C Erik Castro
12th: RHP Geoffrey Thomas
13th: OF Jake Goebbert
14th: LHP David Berner
26th: 1B Matt Watson
28th: RHP Eric Anderson
29th: CF Garen Wright
30th: RHP Brandon Petite
32nd: RHP Greg Peavey
36th: SS Tyler Saladino
37th: RHP Raul Rivera
38th: OF Sean Barksdale
39th: RHP Rory Young
40th: RHP Dan Sarisky
41st: C Carlos Escobar
42nd: CF Ivory Thomas
43rd: RHP Anthony Tzamtzis
44th: RHP Mike Schurz
45th: 2B Adrian Morale
46th: SS Justin Gonzalez
47th: RHP Matt Branham
48th: LHP Steven Rodriguez
49th: 1B Matt Smith
50th: LHP Spencer Hylander

Astros sign 4th Round pick

The Astros have signed 4th Round pick pitcher BJ Hyatt, and he will report to Greeneville.

Blum to DL?

So Kaz comes off the DL tomorrow, and this is Jack's Complete Lack of Amusement. Who gets sent down? Maybe no one.

Geoff Blum still feels like poo with his hamstring, and may be an option to trade DL stints with Matsui. This would keep Keppinger (who is also still hurt) / Maysonet on the roster.

Draft Day Update: Erik Castro

The Examiner did a Q&A with 10th round pick Erik Castro - something I'm working on getting with recent draftees/signees (Note: If you were just drafted by the Astros, send an e-mail to A few excerpts:

Q: Did you have an idea prior to the draft that Houston could be a possibility?

A: I definitely knew they were interested. I've known Doug since high school. He's always shown a strong interest in me, especially after playing catcher last season. He scouted several of the SDSU games this season. It was a pleasant surprise to find out the Astros drafted me.

Q: Do you believe you're ready to make the jump to professional baseball?

A: Absolutely. I would like to begin my professional career. We'll see what happens. If the signing bonus is right, I'll accept it and begin playing in the minors. If not, I'll return to SDSU for my senior year and try to improve my draft status next year.

Q: What is something unique you can offer to the Astros organization?

A: My versatility. I can play both third base and catcher. Also, I will probably learn to play first base at some point. I'm very coachable and eager to learn. I consider myself a patient hitter who hits for average, power and can reach the gaps. I'm a prototypical, middle-of-the-lineup hitter.

Q: What areas do you need further improvement?

A: There's always room for improvement. I don't possess great speed,. I'm not going to steal a ton of bases in my career, so I need to make sure I run the bases well.

Q: Discuss your short and long-term goals?

A: I want to sign and play professional baseball. I'm ready to play in the minors. I intend to learn, grow, climb the ladder and drive in runs. In the long-run, I want to be am impact player on the big league level. I would like nothing more than to be a productive player for the Houston Astros.

Read the whole thing. He's been able to get advice from not just Tony Gwynn, but Duke Snider, as well.

Off-Day Fun! Take the Astros County Citizenship Exam

1. Which Major League team were the Houston Buffaloes affiliated with from 1921-1958?

2. Which Houston judge was responsible for building the Astrodome?

3. Which Hall of Famer hit a single off of a speaker on the roof of the Astrodome?

4.Who hit the first home run in Astrodome history?

5. Which Astro was nicknamed the “Toy Cannon?”

6. Which Hall of Famer was responsible for teaching Joe Morgan his famous “arm-flap” batting stance?

7. Which Astro won five consecutive Gold Gloves – a club record?

8. Name the six pitchers who combined to throw the no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in June 2003.

9. Ten numbers have been retired in Astros history – who do they belong to?

10. Whose logo does Nolan Ryan wear on his cap in the Hall of Fame?

11. Who was the owner of the Houston Astros before Drayton McLane?

12. Who did the Astros trade in 1991 for catcher Eddie Taubensee?

13. Which former Astros manager became the sixth manager in Major League history to win the division in his first year?

14. Who is the only Astros pitcher to win the Silver Slugger?

15. The Astros set a club record on July 23, 2000 by hitting four home runs in an inning vs. the Cardinals (yay!). Who hit them?

16. Who hit the first Grand Slam at Minute Maid Park?

17. Who was the last Astro to hit three home runs in one game?

18. On June 28, 2007, Craig Biggio collected his 3000th hit. Which pitcher gave it up?

19. Craig Biggio is 5th on the all-time doubles list, with 668. Who did he pass at 665?

20. Who has the highest career batting average in Astros history?

Draft Day Update: Dallas Keuchel

7th round pick Dallas Keuchel started Saturday's Game 1 between Arkansas and Cal-State Fullerton: 6IP, 5H/4ER, 2K. He left after the sixth, experiencing some stiffness in his back:

(It started hurting) about the fifth inning, but just a little bit. I told the coaches it was tight. It’s feeling better now.”

Astros sign 23rd Round pick Robby Donovan

Stetson coach Pete Dunn confirming the Astros have signed Stetson RHP Robby Donovan.

Astros sign 27th Round pick Aaron Bray

Word within this piece confirming the Astros have signed 3B Aaron Bray, and he will head to Florida for workouts, and will begin the season in Greeneville.

Minor League Transactions

Round Rock
June 13: Astros optioned Wesley Wright back to Round Rock

Corpus Christi
June 12: CF Josh Flores assigned to Corpus
June 12: OF Nick Moresi assigned to Corpus from Lancaster

June 11: Brandon Barnes assigned to Lancaster from Lexington

June 11: CF Jay Austin activated from DL

Draft Day Update: Ben Orloff

9th Round pick Ben Orloff has won the Brooks Wallace Award, given to the nation's top collegiate shortstop.

UC-Irvine coach Mike Gillespie:
“I sometimes hesitate to praise guys until they’re gone because some guys can’t handle it. And then they’re up for ridicule by their teammates, because the coach loves him and all that stuff. Well, this guy’s different. One, he can handle it and, two, everybody else feels the same way [about him]. There’s not anybody that doesn’t love him and doesn’t realize what a special player he is."

Gillespie, in 42 seasons as a college head coach, said several times during the season that he has never seen a player with a more intelligence on the field.

“I don’t know how else to say it: His instincts, his clue, his feel for the game, his baseball IQ, is like nothing else. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. The guy is just ... I’m not kidding. I shouldn’t be surprised, yet something always comes up where I’m surprised. He doesn’t change. There’s no arrogance. He’s unselfish to the absolute max. I mean he should be a major league manager. He might be wasted as a major league manager, because they can do so little, in terms of all these little things ... He probably should be a college coach, a college head coach. And he’s ready to do it right now. I’m not kidding, he’s a better coach than I am.
He’s a joy, an absolute joy. And you can tell him how great he is and he’s gonna shake it off and it ain’t going to change him.”

Astros sign 33rd Round pick Brendan Stines

Word from the South Bend Tribune that the Astros have signed 33rd round pick, RHP Brendan Stines from Ball State University.

"To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to hear my name being called at all. I was a little nervous the whole time, but once I finally did, I was definitely both happy and relieved. I owe a lot to all of the coaches that helped me out along the way, I'm grateful because they made it possible for me to get the opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing pro baseball.

It doesn't matter to me if they use me as a starter or reliever. The way I perform on the mound when called upon will determine how much pitching time I get. That's why I'm going out there with an open mind, ready to show off my stuff and have some fun. I'm really looking forward to working a real job now, although it's not really a job to me. All of these years, I played this game for free, so it's really going to be weird when I do get that first paycheck."

That makes three picks - that I've counted so far - the Astros have signed: Stines, 5th rounder Brendan Wikoff, and 11th rounder David Williams.

How do you have a -33 run differential, and be three games under .500?

As everyone likes to point out, the Astros are playing above their head, right? You don't get outscored by 33 runs and still be considered a "respectable team."

It's worth pointing out:
The White Sox have a -27 RD, and are -4 from .500
The Royals have a -26 RD, and are -6 from .500
The Indians have a -8 RD, and are -7 from .500
The Padres have a -66 RD, and are -6 from .500
While the Diam'n'b'c's have a -38 RD, and are four games behind the Padres.

How did the Astros get a -33 run differential? Getting the crap donkeykicked out of them. Regard:
# of games in which the Astros lost by 5+ runs: 10
# of games in which the Astros won by 5+ runs: 5
In 1-run games: 9-6
In 2-run games: 16-13

So that's 15 games that were decided by 5+ runs, 15 games decided by 1 run, and 29 games total decided by 2 runs. The Astros play a lot of close games, and have lost some games in which they got smoked. There's your run differential.

What's with the abbreviation?

Got a question in the ol' inbox.

Q: What's with the random apostrophes for Arizona?

AC: Here's the thing. The franchise known as the Arizona Diamondbacks abbreviates their team name to the D'Backs. On their jerseys, on just about everything. That is preposterous. If they didn't want such a long name, maybe they could have chosen something else. This isn't a matter of laziness, like calling the Yankees the "Yanks." I can't stand altering the name due to regional dialects, either - like calling the Red Sox the "Sawx." No one calls the Rangers the "Rayn-jurrs," like they say it in Dallas. No one calles Atlanta the "Braaaaayves." So to have a franchise randomly abbreviate their name infuriates me, and I will reassign their apostrophe at will.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

G61 - Astros @ Dia'nd''ck'

Brian Moehler, improbably, turned in a quality start despite trying as hard as he could to give away a 3-0 lead. Allowing two runs in the first, then bunting into a double play, then needing a Pence-Kata-Pudge relay to nail Chris Snyder at home. The Astros pulled away to win 8-3, and are now three games below .500.

Jose Valverde struck out the side in his first appearance since dancing his way to being made active.

Man of the Match: Miguel Tejada. 2 doubles, 2 RBI.

Goat of the Game: Hard to say. Now accepting nominations...

Sampson day-to-day

Bad news from Alyson Footer's tweet:

Chris Sampson listed day-to-day with arm fatigue.

This is a shot to the bullpen, Sampson - before last night - was about the only lock in the bullpen. More to come...

YotD: June 13

Round Rock:
Express got one-hit by Albuquerque in a 3-0 loss. Jeremy johnson gave up 3ER in 6IP. Reggie Abercrombie got the only hit as the Isotopes faced the minimum 27 batters.

Down 4-1 in the 8th, the Hooks rallied to win 5-4 in the 10th over Midland. Jimmy Van Ostrand hit a 3-run double while DeLome, Locke, and Sutil each had 2-hit games. Wilton Lopez got rocked for 12 hits in 4IP (but only 3ER). Andy Van Hekken and Evan Englebrook combined for 6IP and just 1ER.

Congratulations to Reid Kelly, who got his first professional win in a 12-2 win over High Desert.

The Legends gave up a 3-run lead in the 9th, but scored in the 10th to beat Asheville 8-7. Brian Pellegrini hit his 7th homer of the season while Eric Suttle walked in the 10th, stole 2nd, went to third on a sac fly and scored the winning run on Michael Diaz' double.