Saturday, July 11, 2009

I don't even have words

More tomorrow. I'm too depressed to talk about losing by 11 runs to the worst team in baseball. At home.

So...three catchers, huh?

To make room for Chris Coste, the Astros sent down Matt Kata.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Warning: Meeting ahead

Richard Justice and Alyson Footer are both tweeting that Russ Ortiz was just called into Coop's office.

I'm driving to Atlanta tonight, but will update as best I can - but I should let you know my wife hates it when I'm on my phone while driving... More later.

No live blog tonight, either, as Deputy Jason is unexpectedly unavailable.

Lineup Shakeup

Different lineup for G86, according to Alyson Footer's tweet:

1. Bourn
2. Tejada
3. Berkman
4. Lee
5. Pence
6. Pudge
7. Blum
8. Matsui
9. Oswalt

Note Pence slide up to #5, Blum down to #7.

Batting in the 5th spot in 35ABs, Blum posted a .229/.300/.371 line.
In the 7-hole, Blum is .274/.333/.339 (wait. Is that better?) He's probably better suited in the 6th spot, where he's .289/.372/.368...

When batting in the 5-spot, Pence (in 99 PAs) is .314/.394/.488.

Twitter update from Alyson Footer

Presumably, a catcher will be removed. Hmmmm....

So that probably answers that question about who's getting canned.

Astros claim C Chris Coste off waivers

How many catchers can one team have? Richard Justice is reporting the Astros have claimed former Phillies' catcher Chris Coste off waivers.

Justice is also reporting Coste will report to Houston on Saturday and will be activated, and that means someone is going to get cut or sent down. I can't imagine the Astros being willing to carry three catchers, so does that spell the end of Quintero's time in Houston - at least for now?

Coste, 36 years old, started 98 games behind the plate for the Phillies last year. This year Coste has started 26 games, and gone .245/.342/.382.

This is the second time Ed Wade has picked up Coste, signing him as a free agent following the 2004 season.

Let's do some quick career splits:
vs RHP: 134x492, .272/.333/.417, 85K:29BB
vs LHP: 64x211, .303/.354/.493, 44K:15BB
2nd half: 105x369, .285/.338/.444
at MMP: 7x14, .500/.563/.500, 2K:1BB

Now let's compare those career splits to Quintero's:
vs RHP: 74x346, .214/.256/.280, 77K:16BB
vs LHP: 34x119, .286/.309/.378, 20K:1BB
2nd half: 55x250, .247/.272/.326
at MMP: 46x190, .242/.273/.321, 29K:5BB

In every way - even the limited sample of both players - Coste's numbers are better than Quintero's, who turns 30 on August 8. That doesn't necessarily mean it's Q who gets sent down.

But if it does, that means the Astros have a 37-year old catcher, and a 36-year old catcher to back him up.

Coop's Kind of Pitchers

Earlier today JJO brought up how Cooper allegedly told Russ Ortiz that he wasn't "his type of pitcher."

You know: gets behind hitters, throws a lot of pitches, and gets a lot of walks. So I got to wondering, are there any other Astros' pitchers who Coop may not like?

Ortiz walks batters at a rate of one walk per 8.28 batters faced. That's our baseline. Does anyone else walk batters at a higher rate?

Not among starters. But among relievers? Yep, Tim Byrdak has 18 walks in 126 batters faced, or 1 walk per 7BF.

What about pitch count? Ortiz has been...
Behind 2-0: 10 times
Behind 3-0: 5 times
Behind 3-1: 27 times
Full count: 53 times

Can anyone beat that?
Behind 2-0: Nope
Behind 3-0: Wandy (10), Oswalt (9)
Behind 3-1: Wandy (32)
Full count: Wandy (58)

What about strike percentage? Ortiz has thrown 59% of his 1323 pitches for strikes. Can anyone do worse than that?

Among starters?

What about pitches/batter? Ortiz throws an average of 4.10 pitches/batter faced. Anyone higher?

Wandy - 4.05
Hampton - 3.79
Roy - 3.76
Moehler - 3.65

So maybe Coop is onto something. That said, Ortiz' 4.44 ERA is fourth among the Six Regular Starters, behind Wandy, Roy, and Hampton, but ahead of Moehler and Paulino. So maybe Coop needs to calm it down...

Matchup for G86 - Nationals @ Astros

The Astros will again try for .500 as they play the second in a four-game set with the Nationals. And this may be their best attempt of the year, as they send Roy Oswalt to the hill.

Roy Oswalt

Roy's ERA is under 4.00 (3.81, to be precise) for the first time since May 2, and has allowed three earned runs in his last 23IP.

Last three starts:

6/24 vKC67/18:27/10106/71
6/29 @SD92/18:27/13110/74
7/5 @SF83/16:115/694/69

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 51x224, .228/.293/.402, 44K:17BB
vs Lefties: 59x203, .291/.335/.448, 45K:14BB

When swinging at the first pitch (61): .333/.333/.596, 8XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (246): .226/.259/.339, 60K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (165): .279/.384/.493, 29K:23BB

RISP: 16x83, .193/.317/.289, 22K:14BB
Runners on: 40x166, .241/.319/.404, 35K:18BB
2OwRISP: 8x41, .195/.340/.244, 14K:7BB

Scott Olsen

And the Nationals will send Scott Olsen to the mound for tonight's game. Olsen started the game that finished up yesterday, getting a No Decision on May 5 when he gave up 5ER in 5IP. Olsen comes into the game with a 6.04 ERA, but just came off his longest outing of the year, and maybe his strongest start since April 18, but he has been injured recently, pitching just twice since May 16.

Last three starts:

5/16 vPHI59/53:24/1794/66
6/29 @FLA76/27:07/1294/66
7/5 vATL8.28/35:511/16116/75

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 59x183, .322/.378/.579, 28K:17BB
vs Lefties: 15x52, .288/.362/.481, 13K:6BB

When swinging at the first pitch (31): .321/.321/.607, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (134): .295/.313/.543, 29K:4BB
After First-Pitch Balls (97): .346/.474/.564, 12K:19BB

RISP: 24x69, .348/.403/.638, 9K:7BB
Runners on: 39x104, .375/.421/.702, 10K:9BB
2OwRISP: 17x40, .425/.452/.750, 4K:2BB

Astros are losing to a team not in the Majors

The Astros have lost 2 of 3 to a team not in the Majors. Or so says Rob Dibble, on the Nationals:

"This isn't a Major League baseball team I'm watching out here....It's pathetic. I've never seen a team that is ok with losing....Some guys are mailing it in, and it's hard to watch."

While I don't think it's funny when injuries actually happen, sometimes the fall is entertaining. And I certainly think it's funny when other people point and laugh at said injured player. Look at the kid on the front row, far right. Image from Joe Sportsfan. (Thanks to Citizen Aaron for the link)

Houston Press finds something else to be pissed about

The Houston Press finds another reason to get all worked up about how terrible the Astros are. Regard:

Does anybody on the Astros bench pay attention to anything? Last night, in the top of the fifth inning, Washington's Adam Dunn fouled a pitch off of the head of Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge is clearly dazed, but continues on trying to catch. One would think the coaches or trainers would catch this detail, but they don't, and finally Dunn stepped out of the batter's box and motioned to the Astros dugout and suggested someone come out to take a look...

...It's for reasons like this that I just don't think the Astros are a good team, or are worthy of making the playoffs...

...Cecil Cooper never seems to be aware of the injury status of his pitching staff. Third-base coach Dave Clark often seems to at a different game. Carlos Lee sees no need to chase after balls hit down the left field line. The guys are sloppy when running the bases and are often caught in rundowns that should have never existed...

...So maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just as clueless as Cooper and Clark and the rest of the team often appear to be.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times runs down the Top 10 trades of the last 10 years

Joel Roza at the Caller-Times churns out an article on the Top 10 Astros trades of the last 10 years. Click the link for the explanation, but I'll include the trade, and a one-line snipped, because I love you all...

10. Buchholz, Hirsh, Taveras to Colorado for Jason Jennings and Miguel Ascencio (December 2006).
By far and wide, the worst trade of this decade. This is the deal that sealed Tim Purpura’s fate and sent the Astros into a full tailspin.

9. Scott, Albers, Patton, Sarfate, Costanzo to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada (December 2007)
It seems Houston’s lust and Ed Wade’s desire to shake things up ended up costing Houston more than helping. The forgotten wrinkle in all of this though is the guy not involved in the deal, but one who was certainly affected – Adam Everett.

8. Zobrist and Talbot to Tampa Bay for Aubrey Huff (July 2006)
Just another ‘get rich quick’ trade, yet again, gone horribly wrong. It’s also one of those deals that took a couple years to go from bad to worse.

7. Blum to Tampa Bay for Brandon Backe (December 2003)
Blum would end up as a member of the 2005 White Sox and hit a game-winning homer in Game 3 of the World Series, putting the Astros in an 0-3 hole in the series, where they were eventually swept.

6. Qualls, Gutierrez, Burke to Arizona for Jose Valverde (December 2007)
I just believe the Astros had their priorities mixed up with this deal. It was a good deal but at a bad time.

5. Wagner to Philadelphia for Brandon Duckworth, Taylor Buchholz, and Ezequiel Astacio (November 2003)
But the trade, which drew the ire of Astros Nation initially, ended up not being because of Wagner’s comments, though I’m sure they made it easier, but to free up payroll so that the Astros could sign Andy Pettitte, and later, Roger Clemens.

4. Seuss to New York Mets for Dan Wheeler (August 2004)
Who in the hell is Adam Seuss?
(Ed Note: Adam Seuss failed a steroids test in Spring Training 2005)

3. Lidge and Bruntlett for Michael Bourn, Geoff Geary, and Mike Costanzo (November 2007)
It’s still Philly’s ballgame, but I’m starting to like this trade more and more.

2. Jeriome Robertson to Cleveland for Luke Scott and right to Willy Taveras (March 2004)
If you whittle it all down, all the Astros have to show for this trade today is Miguel Tejada. At least we got a pennant out of it. Very good trade though. Leave it to Gerry Hunsicker.

1. Octavio Dotel, John Buck, and $$$ to Kansas City and Oakland for Carlos Beltran (June 2004)
He can have Citi Field, I’ll take the memories. Awesome, awesome trade.

What say you?

Minor League Transactions

A few transactions to catch up on from yesterday...

July 9: Place RHP Jose Trinidad on 7-Day DL
July 9: David Duncan called up from Tri-City
July 9: Kyle Godfrey called up from Tri-City

July 10: Scott Migl called up from Greeneville

July 9: Kyle Miller sent down from Lexington

Miller was hitting .213/.260/.340 for Lexington in 32 games.

Erstad's hammy and Backe's shoulder

Maybe you noticed that Matt Kata replaced Darin Erstad as a defensive substitution the G84 suspended game. It's because of Erstad's hobbly hamstring.

Darin has a little nagging injury, and it was probably not best to put him on the defensive end. He’s having a hamstring problem. He’s available (to pinch hit).”

And we also get an update on former Astros Brandon Backe, who has a partial tear in his right rotator cuff. He's scheduled for surgery with Dr. James Andrews, who I'm surprised has time to take away from reconstructing Brett Favre to do the surgery in the first place, and the Astros will pick up the tab.

Big story: Ortiz pissed

So again it seems that there are communication issues between Cooper and his pitching staff. So much so that JJO chimes in with this line:

If Cecil Cooper survives beyond the All-Star break, he might want to have a meeting with his pitching staff. Russ Ortiz became the latest in a growing list of pitchers who have openly complained about communication problems with Cooper.

"It became apparent to me from the very beginning of the season that I wasn't going to be given much of a chance or room for error and today is another example of that. My first start was an example of that and my fourth start was an example of that. The last two months I don't think I've really struggled pitching. I struggled today and I'm out after three innings and we come back and win. I don't understand it and I haven't been given a real good reason why I was taken. They said I was walking and getting behind too many guys, but, like I said, in my last inning four out of the five guys I made my pitches to. They just did a good job of hitting them."

Let's break this part down before moving on:
They said I was walking and getting behind too many guys.
Ortiz only walked two batters. He threw 9 first-pitch balls to sixteen batters. He was behind 2-0 four times. Behind 3-1 five times. But to be fair, Ortiz threw first-pitch strikes to the last three batters he faced in the third.

Moving on:
"They don't talk to me. He told me I could pitch my way back into the rotation and then he told me it wasn't possible. Unfortunately some guys got hurt and that's why I started starting. I kept starting because I guess I was throwing the ball fine. I struggled today and I guess, like I said, from the very beginning of the season I was told by our manager that I'm not his kind of starting pitcher. He doesn't like a lot of walks and a lot of pitches. That's why I'm assuming I got taken out and why I assume I was taken out of my first start, my fourth start and today."

Now I'm not sure there's any manager who actively looks for pitchers who walk batters and are inefficient, but I do think that if that type of pitcher is signed, it's up to the coaching staff to help that pitcher get it straightened out.

JJO asked the good question: Did he really tell you you weren't his type of pitcher?
"I can't tell you exactly when. We had a discussion, me and Cooper. We had a discussion because, you know, I was told that when I got sent to the bullpen that the reason why was because I was throwing too many pitches and walking too many guys. But I had a chance to pitch my way back into the rotation. And when I went into the pen and I thought I was throwing the ball pretty good I ended up asking him if I had any chance to get into the rotation and he said no. He said, 'unless someone gets hurt.' And so at that point in time he made it known to me that he likes guys that throw strikes, get ahead early in the count and minimize pitches. I'm like, 'Hey, if you could have a team of those guys I think you'd win the World Series every year.' I said, 'I would love to be that type of pitcher.' I think everybody would like to be that type of pitcher. I work my butt off every time out to get better. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not.

Today was a battle game, but I didn't panic. It's just the last inning the walk and the hit batsman, it was one of those things that happens. I threw strike one and then I hit him. I wanted to throw up and in and it just hit him. I'm very frustrated. I was told I was getting behind too many hitters, but like I said, four out of the five last guys I faced I was ahead of. So how was that being behind hitters in the last inning? I can see if my last inning was brutal, but it wasn't. I walked Johnson and Zimmerman hit the second pitch and I was 0-1 on him and then I got an out. The next guy I was 0-1 on and then hit him then I got an out and I was 0-2 on him before that. The next guy I threw strike one and then ball one and then he got the base hit. So I thought the last four guys I faced I threw the ball where I wanted so I thought I was getting back in rhythm but apparently they had a different mindset. That's what's so frustrating is that I haven't gotten a real answer."

Let's give credit to JJO where it's due - this was a good interview...for us. But this isn't going to end well for either Coop or Ortiz. Communication hasn't been Coop's strong point, as we've seen with Oswalt and Backe already this season. Is Ortiz getting jobbed? It seems like (and this is pretty standard common knowledge) starting pitchers crave routine, and Ortiz apparently wasn't getting that from his coaching staff.

If the Astros were 30-55, Coop would be gone. But they're not. They're four games back with three games left with the Nationals, so this is a critical weekend heading into the All-Star Break. But at some point you have to be concerned that Cooper isn't shooting straight with his pitching staff, that Ed Wade entrusted to Coop. It's okay to wish you had a rotation full of Tim Lincecums, but there are enough instances this season already where the pitching staff (Oswalt, Backe, Geary, and now Ortiz) are wondering where the leadership is.

So the question is: What other instances are there of former position players having success communicating with the pitching staff? Who makes a better manager: a former pitcher, catcher, or position player?

Recap for G85 - Nationals @ Astros

This was more like it. The Astros scored the last eight runs of the game to win 9-4, and salvage a decent day. When the Nationals were up 4-1 after the top of the 3rd, I thought to myself, "Self, you were talking about being a half-game back of the Brewers if they could win one inning plus a game at home against the Nationals. But you forgot, this is the Astros we're talking about."

But this was much better. Ortiz had another rough go of it, getting his ERA up to 4.44 with a poor outing, but the bullpen held the Nationals down until the bats could get going, and get going they did. Let's get the pitching done first...

Ortiz: 3IP, 6H/4ER, 1K:2BB, 7/16 First-pitch strikes, 15/36 non-contact strikes (11 called/4 swinging). 68 pitches.
Fulchino: 1IP, 1H, 1K, 3/4 FPS, 2/11 NCS
Arias: 2IP, 1H, 2K:1BB, 4/8 FPS, 6/16 NCS (4c:2s)
Byrdak: 1IP, 1/3 FPS, 1 NCS (1c)
Sampson: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 3 NCS (3c)
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 2K:1BB, 3/5 FPS, 9/15 NCS (4c:5s)

So let's do a quick recap:
Ortiz: 3IP, 6H/4ER, 1K:2BB
Bullpen: 6IP, 3H/0ER, 6K:2BB

Ortiz never looked comfortable. After getting Morgan to hit a leadoff groundout in the 1st, Johnson singled to center, then advanced to second on a wild pitch, then advanced to third on a Pudge throwing error. Zimmerman singled in Johnson, and Dunn doubled in Zimmerman. He then got Willingham to line out to left, and struck out Guzman. Next time around in the 3rd, Ortiz walked Johnson, allowed Zimmerman a single to center, hit Willingham (after getting Dunn to fly out), then a two-out, two RBI single to Bard. 4-1, and Ortiz' day is done.

It broke open in the bottom of the 6th:
Pudge: leadoff double
Blum: infield single
Keppinger: 2-run triple (4-4)
Michaels: K swinging
Buorn: RBI triple (5-4)
Tejada: RBI single (6-4)

There were multi-hit games from Lee (3x5), Bourn (2x5), Berkman (2x4), Pence (2x4), Blum (2x4), and Keppinger (2x4). The Astros were 7x15 with RISP. 6 of the Astros 16 hits were for extra-bases, with doubles from Lee, Blum, and Pudge; triples from Keppinger and Bourn (his 8th), and the game-sealing three run homer in the 8th by Berkman - his 18th of the season.

Pitch count alert:
Most pitches seen: Pence - 24 in 5 ABs
Fewest pitches seen: Tejada - 10 in 4 ABs

Man of the Match: Lance Berkman. 2x4 with 3RBI and 3 runs scored.

Goat: Russ Ortiz - lucky for him the bullpen bailed him out, because that was getting out of hand.

Recap for G84 - Astros @ Nationals @ Minute Maid Park

Boy, Tejada couldn't have nutted that throw any more than he did, huh? Officially the 11-10 loss took 3h59m. But it only took about 10 minutes to end, after LaHawk got the groundball he needed to get out of the inning, and Tejada threw the ball to Sealy.

So let's go through this, quicklike.

Man of the Match: Miguel Tejada. 3x6 with 3RBI.

Goat of the Game: This is the first time this season that the same player got a Man of the Match and a Goat of the Game. Miguel Tejada.

Eddie's Farm: July 9

Eddie's Farm goes 3-2 last night, after the Greeneville/Johnson City game is postponed.

Round Rock
The Express never led last night as the Sounds defeated Round Rock 5-3 in Nashville (again, couldn't go. And won't be able to go this weekend. I'm not happy.) Yordany and Abercrombie had two hits each - that's seven hits in his last 13 ABs for Yordany - and Chris Johnson hit his 4th homer of the season in the 6th inning. Jeremy Johnson went 5IP, 7H/4ER, 3K:2BB, while Geary went 2IP, 2H/1R (0ER) with 1K, but also two errors.

Corpus Christi
Andy Van Hekken and Corpus were all over Tulsa last night in a 7-1 win. Jhon Florentino was 4x5, while Jimmy Van Ostrand was 2x5 with 3RBI, and Drew Meyer was also 2x5. Drew Locke got a hit and two walks, and also drove in his 77th run of the season. AVH went 7IP, 2H/1ER, 5K:1BB while C-Lo and Danny Meszaros combined for 2IP, 1H/0ER, 1K.

The JetHawks scored three runs with 2 outs in the top of the 10th on Koby Clemens' three-run jack, and then held on as Rancho Cucamonga got two back in the bottom of the inning, but it obviously wasn't enough, and Lancaster won 8-7. Clemens was 2x4, and Suarez and Steele both had two hits each. Bryan Hallberg threw 4IP, 6H/2ER, 3K:3BB, while Abad threw 4.2IP, 5H/2ER with 5K. Chris Salamida got the win despite allowing 2ER in .1IP, and Jack Tilghman closed it out for his second save of the year.

Lexington broke out the offense for a 9-5 win over Savannah last night. David Duncan, who was just called up from Tri-City, got the win despite giving up 5ER in 5IP, and Henry Villar and Pat Urckfitz combined for 0ER in 4IP with 5K. Jay Austin and Ebert Rosario were 3x5 each. Albert Cartright hit a 3-run bomb in the 3rd inning, and Michael Diaz had 3RBI. Brian Pellegrini got two hits as well, as did Chris Jackson.

Despite taking a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the 9th, Lowell got two runs back for a 7-6 walkoff win. Brian Kemp and Russell Dixon both got two hits each, and Erik Castro hit a pinch-hit 2-run single in the 9th, with Brian Kemp knocking Castro in to take the lead. Then Pedro Gonzalez came in for the bottom of the ninth to close it out. Lowell's Christian Vazquez hit a game-tying one-out HR, and ValleyCats 3B Jhonny Medrano committed an error to let Ronald Bermudez reach first base. That's important, because Derrik Gibson then hit a popfly to CF Kemp, which would have ended the inning. But it didn't. And then Gonzalez walked the next three batters with the last walk scoring Bermudez. Game over.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dayn Perry's Midseason Awards

Let me save you some time.

There aren't any Astros in there...

Lineup for G(sus)84 - Astros @ Nationals

Yep, you read that right. Here you go:

1. Bourn
2. Keppinger
3. Berkman
4. LaHawk
5. Tejada
6. Pence
7. Pudge
8. Blum
9. Erstad

Alyson Footer tweets and points out that Blum made the last out, so should LaHawk retire the two batters in the bottom of the 11th, Erstad will lead off the 12th.

Matchup for G85 - Nationals @ Astros

Immediately following G84 at 6:05pm, the Nationals will start G85, sending Russ Ortiz to the mound to face Nationals' ace John Lannan.

Tha Nationals are 5-23 in the first games of series, and of course one of those five wins is against the Astros. The Astros are 1-3 in games where they can reach .500.

Russ Ortiz

First of all, let's congratulate Russ on throwing 70IP already this season. Why is that important? Because 70IP is as many as Ortiz has thrown in the majors in one season since 2005.

That said, up until his last start @SF, Russ had managed to keep his ERA under 4.00 since June 4. Before the SF game, the ERA was at 3.36. Funny how 8ER in 5.2IP will invite your ERA to join 4.11 land.

Last three starts:

6/23 vKC75/24:212/9110/91
6/28 vDET7.16/25:09/1191/62
7/4 @SF5.29/87:58/10111/63

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 40x141, .284/.364/.404, 23K:16BB
vs Lefties: 30x122, .246/.357/.393, 31K:21BB

When swinging at the first pitch (24): .364/.391/.864, 5XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (146): .252/.324/.336, 39K:13BB
After First-Pitch Balls (137): .264/.394/.382, 15K:24BB

RISP: 14x60, .233/.304/.300, 15K:5BB
Runners on: 31x116, .267/.346/.379, 27K:13BB
2OwRISP: 9x31, .290/.389/.419, 11K:4BB

John Lannan

John Lannan is The Man. 6-5 on a team that is 24-58. Six wins, and the other starting pitchers for the Nationals have 11. Total. His ERA is a full run lower than the Nationals' SP2.

Lannan has faced the Astros once this season, on May 6 when the Nationals beat the Astros 9-4. Lannan's line: 6IP, 9H/3ER, 0K:2BB.

Last three starts:

6/23 vBOS6.19/33:29/15109/69
6/28 @BAL7.16/32:312/12102/66
7/4 vATL89/31:117/1198/65

It's been since May 31 that Lannan hasn't thrown a quality outing, and that includes starts at Yankee Stadium and against Boston. Last time out vs Atlanta, Lannan got 4 GIDPs. So he won't strike too many batters out, but he's had 10+ groundballs in 11 of his 17 starts.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 71x292, .243/.312/.339, 25K:27BB
vs Lefties: 35x110, .318/.400/.627, 23K:11BB

When swinging at the first pitch (59): .364/.375/.564, 5XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (225): .261/.320/.391, 30K:14BB
After First-Pitch Balls (166): .229/.345/.400, 18K:24BB

RISP: 24x88, .273/.340/.443, 14K:8BB
Runners on: 46x174, .264/.323/.420, 23K:13BB
2OwRISP: 10x45, .222/.314/.311, 9K:5BB

Wrapping up Best Mainstream Journalist poll

A while ago we held an unofficial poll that received 14 votes (boo) on who was the Best "Mainstream" (whatever that means) Journalist covering the Astros.

Your choices were:
Richard Justice
Jose de Jesus Ortiz
Brian McTaggart
Alyson Footer
Zachary Levine

Your winner, with 7 of 14 votes, was...Alyson Footer. You can still vote, if you want.

Astros appear on Baseball America prospect list, and not for "Sucking"

Wonder of wonders! Credit to Zachary Levine for pointing out this link to Baseball America's Top 25 midseason prospects. Who do we see?

Jason Castro, sitting at #19!
Jordan Lyles, in "The Next 25"

J.D. Martinez' last 10 games

611th pick J.D. Martinez has been The Man over the last ten games for Greeneville. How so?

Well, since June 29, Martinez is hitting .404 (19x47) with eight extra-base hits and 11RBI. In that span, he's had six multi-hit games, including four-game set from July 4-7 when he was 11x21 with four doubles and a triple.

This season, Martinez is hitting .379 in 16 games (25x66) and is 10x26 with RISP with 16 hits in his last 38 ABs.

ESPN Stats, on Wandy's start

Nice to see Wandy get a little love from ESPN in what was probably the best start of his career. How did he do it? Let's ask ESPN Stats & Information:

Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez read the scouting reports and has totally restructured his approach on the mound, with great results. For the second consecutive start, Rodriguez reduced his arsenal from four pitches to two, throwing 98.4% fastballs and curveballs. This strategy has actually improved his deception on the hill, as his slider and changeup weren't fooling anyone. Opposing batters were hitting .385 against his changeup, and have chased only one slider out of the strike zone throughout the entire season (league average is 33 percent in that category). On Wednesday, he:

A) Shut the door in two-strike counts: Opposing batters went 0-17 (12 of those outs came via fastballs).
B) He had an outstanding 78.3 strike percentage when behind in the count (as evident by his 11:1 K/BB ratio).
C) His fastball was dominant: Opposing batters hit only .143 (compared to .353 in his last start), mainly due to his heater gaining more than two extra inches of run compared to the average fastball in his previous 17 starts this season (6.51 average inches of horizontal movement on Wednesday, 4.40 in rest of season).

Buster Olney: Halladay for Dummies

You've probably heard by now that the Blue Jays seem to be pretty serious about trading Roy Halladay, and the price is going to be high. They will probably trade him, if not out of the AL entirely, most likely out of the AL East - which is good for them, bad for us. How might the NL Central get Roy Halladay? Buster Olney breaks it down.

The Cardinals about Halladay, and a club official told Joe Strauss what he perceives the price tag to be: "Asked about the price tag for Halladay, a club source said: "Give Ricciardi all our minor-league rosters and let him circle any 5 names."

And the Brewers are interested in continuing their recent trend of trading away top prospects for a few months of help (though, to be fair, Halladay is signed through 2010).

Minor League Transactions

A couple of transactions from the last couple of days:

July 8: Ronald Ramirez called up from Lexington

Ramirez was hitting .248/.288/.366 in 52 games for the Legends this season

July 8: Chris Jackson sent down from Lancaster

In 197 ABs, Jackson was hitting .183/.239/.244 for the JetHawks

Eddie's Farm: July 8

Eddie's Farm goes 3-2 last night as Corpus Christi was off. And if you can, watch SportsCenter this morning - Wladimir Sutil had #2 on Top Plays.

Round Rock
Really glad I was working late and wasn't able to make it to this game. The Express whooped up on the Nashville Sounds 10-0. Mark Saccomanno went 4x5, Yordany went 3x5, Lou Santangelo was 3x4 with a three-run homer (5RBI total), and Jason Smith also went deep for the Express. Mark McLemore got his 3rd win of the year with 5IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:1BB, while Gervacio, Daigle, and Paronto threw a combined 4IP, 3H/0ER, 3K:1BB.

A 5-run second inning led Rancho Cucamonga to a 6-3 win over the JetHawks last night. Lancaster scratched out three hits - two of them on homers from Koby Clemens and Marcos Cabral. Casey Hudspeth got 14 groundball outs and 7IP, 8H/5ER, 3K:2BB (still, six scoreless and one bad inning) while Jordan Powell went 1IP, 2H/1ER.

The Legends were all over Savannah in a 7-3 win. Lexington got nine hits, two each from Pellegrini (one of those his 13th HR of the season), Brown (triple and a homer), and De Leon. Brad Dydalewicz got the win with 6.2IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:2BB.

Rough night for the the ValleyCats as they got rocked 9-0 vs Lowell. Tri-City only managed three hits, one from Brian Kemp, a double from Barry Butera, and one from Russell Dixson. Erik Castro got the start at 3rd base, and it's taking a bit to find his stroke - now hitting .040 - though he's hardly the only one, only two ValleyCats from last night's starting lineup are hitting over .250 (Brian Kemp - .328; Pedro Gonzalez - .278). 7th Round pick Dallas Keuchel made his professional debut, throwing 3IP, 1H/0ER, 2K. Then it all fell apart. David Berner: 0IP, 3H/4ER, 0K:3BB; Justin Harper: 1IP, 1H/3ER, 0K:3BB; Robby Donovan: 3IP, 2H/2ER, 3K:2BB. Max Fearnow bookended Keuchel's scoreless outing with an 0ER IP of his own.

Greeneville got five runs in the 9th inning to defeat Johnson City 8-6 last night. Jiovanni Mier was 2x5, Bubby Williams 2x4, and Altuve, Meyer, Martinez, Bray, and Hogue all contributed hits as well. Altuve hit his 2nd homer in the 8th inning. Luis Cruz threw 5IP, 8H/4ER, Jeiler Castillo 3IP, 3H/1ER and Nathan Pettus closed it out for his 4th save with a scoreless ninth.

How did the 5-run 9th happen?
Meyer: Walk
Martinez: Single
Bray: Single
Williams: RBI single
Metroka: RBI fielder's choice
Almonte: 2 wild pitches (one scores Arrendell), then he strikes out
Hogue: RBI single
Mier: RBI single - Altuve out at 3rd.

Justice: Astros getting smarter

Richard Justice's blog post this morning discusses the Astros' making a point not to get Roy Hallady, and it turns in to an Easy Eddie love fest (which, as of today, is completely appropriate)....

The Astros just got their draft class signed on the field faster than any other team in baseball. They just spend a couple more million on international signings. They're building an academy in the Dominican Republic.
In ways large and small, the Astros are doing what smart organizations do. They're building from the ground up while attempting to keep the big league team competitive.
There'll be a day when it's time to pull the trigger on a Roy Halladay team and announce, ''We're going for it.'' That's what the Astros did with Randy Johnson. This isn't that time.

Totally agree.

Setting the stage for G84 - Nationals at Astros

When LaTroy Hawkins steps to the mound at 6:05pm this evening, here's the situation:

Bottom of the 11th, one out
Elijah Dukes (was) on first
Oswalt, Sampson, Byrdak, Lee, Michaels are unavailable as they have already been taken out of the game

Miguel Tejada is 3x6, Pence and Pudge: 2x6.

“It is kind of weird picking up a game. Then it’s a home game for them. That would be weird, very weird, weirder than playing a home game in Milwaukee (as the Astros did twice against the Cubs last September) for them to be at our place to get a walk-off."

I will disagree that the resuming of G84 in Houston is weirder than the Milwaukee home game.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh. No.

Joe Strauss of the St Louis Post-Dispatch is tweeting that the Cardinals' interest in Roy Halladay is "real."

That would be a bad thing.

Hawkins to start tomorrow's suspended game

When Cinco de Mayo finally comes to a close tomorrow at 6pm as the Nationals and Astros finish their suspended game (I, for one, have yet to remove my sombrero), it will start with LaHawk.

Courtesy of Alyson Footer's tweet, Hawkins will start tomorrow's suspended game.

Recap for G83 - Pirates @ Astros

That was fun! A 5-0 win by the Astros in the day game, the Astros rap out 13 hits, Wandy pitches his best game of the year, and his first complete game since July 6, 2007 against the Mets - a span of 56 starts.

Wandy: 9IP, 5H/0ER, 11K:1BB, 20/31 first-pitch strikes, 40 (40!)/85 non-contact strikes. 26 of those strikes were called, 14 were swinging.

It was Wandy's third 10+K game of the year, striking out 10 Reds on April 18, and 11 Rockies on May 14. Only 10 Pirates got to two balls, and the only time the Pirates really threatened was in the second inning, when the Brothers LaRoche got consecutive singles, but Wandy struck Diaz and Vazquez out - both looking - to end the inning. He kept the ball down, and in the infield. Only three outs were flyballs to the outfield.

The offense had it kicking today. 5 runs, 13 hits, 3 walks, 5 extra-base hits, including Bourn's 7th triple of the year (NL leader), and two doubles from Bourn, who was 2x3 with 2BBs. Every Astro starter got a hit, and Bourn, Tejada, Berkman, Lee, and Matsui all had two hits each.

All the damage came in the third and fourth innings. Bourn got a one-out triple in the 3rd, and Tejada brought him home with a single. Berkman doubled (Tejada misjudged the double and got hisself th'own out at home, Berkman advancing on the throw), and Lee doubled, scoring Berkman, to get the Astros out to a 2-0 lead on four straight hits.

Then in the fourth, Matsui reached on an infield single that should have been an error on LaRoche for picking his foot up off the bag for no good reason, Quintero walked, Bourn singled - scoring Matsui, then Tejada singled, and Berkman doubled home Wandy and Bourn for two more RBI (and he's the first Astro to 50 RBI), and that's all the scoring.

It could have been a lot worse for the Pirates, as the Astros were still only 5x16 with RISP. And continuing the Bummer portion of the post, Tejada grounded into an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the 8th inning with the bases loaded. But a win is a win, and now we wait for the rest of the NL Central to play out their games and see where we stand.

Man of the Match: Any doubt? Wandy.

Goat of the Game: Even though he got two hits, I'm giving it to Matsui. One "hit" was actually an error, and the other one was plonk off the end of the bat. More than once Milo and Dolan talked about how terrible Matsui looked. It's not a good sign when you get two hits, and the commentators say you need more days off (read into that: you shouldn't be playing this much).

Lineup for G83 - Pirates @ Astros

Courtesy of Alyson Footer's tweet:

1. Bourn
2. Tejada
3. Berkman
4. Lee
5. Blum
6. Pence
7. Matsui
8. Quintero
9. Wandy

Inning killers

I'm a curious guy - though not sexually, and I got to wondering: Which Astro starter kills the most innings? Meaning, who GIDPs with one out, or who gives in to the 2-out pressure? Let's take a gander, and again, we're looking at regular starters. 2-out OBP is included to account for AB regulation...

1-out GIDPs:
Tejada: 6
Pudge: 5
Berkman: 5
Pence: 5
Lee: 4
Blum: 3
Matsui: 2
Bourn: 1

2-out outs:
Lee: 87
Tejada: 71
Pence: 69
Berkman: 63
Pudge: 53
Matsui: 50
Bourn: 45
Blum: 40

2-out OBP:
Blum: .293
Matsui: .296
Pudge: .321
Tejada: .324
Lee: .326
Bourn: .389
Pence: .412
Berkman: .429

Matchup for G83 - Pirates @ Astros

Rubber match today! The Astros fall to 4.5 back, and with the Reds win last night against Philadelphia, are back in 5th place.

Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy gets the ball today! In day games this season, Wandy is 3-2 with 36IP, 35H/10ER, 34K:13BB, .265/.333/.348 against.

Last three starts:

6/21 @MIN72/18:35/8114/78
6/26 vDET67/43:410/11106/59
7/2 @SD77/15:211/10108/70

Wandy has thrown 100+ pitches in each of his last five starts.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 83x307, .270/.339/.427, 72K:31BB
vs Lefties: 16x79, .203/.276/.329, 23K:8BB

When swinging at the first pitch (40): .400/.400/.550, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (217): .210/.252/.542, 63K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (176): .281/.400/.527, 32K:29BB

RISP: 26x92, .283/.340/.402, 23K:8BB
Runners on: 46x157, .293/.362/.389, 33K:16BB
2OwRISP: 13x47, .277/.358/.404, 14K:5BB

Charlie Morton

With his fifth start of the year, Charlie Morton will take the hill for the Pirates.

Last three starts:

6/20 @COL55/24:26/988/55
6/28 vKC57/33:05/1387/55
7/3 @FLA61/04:47/791/51

Morton's last start was easily his best of the year, holding the Marlins to one hit over six innings, getting 18 outs in 22 batters faced.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 3x25, .120/.241/.120, 6K:4BB
vs Lefties: 11x37, .297/.333/.514, 5K:2BB

When swinging at the first pitch (3): .667/.667/1.667, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (29): .222/.276/.333, 7K:2BB
After First-Pitch Balls (36): .188/.278/.250, 4K:4BB

RISP: 3x18, .167/.211/.222, 2K:1BB
Runners on: 6x28, .214/.267/.286, 2K:2BB
2OwRISP: 0x5, .000/.167/.000, 1K:1BB

The scariest split, in a limited sample size, is obviously the fact that righties have only managed to get a hit in 3 out of 25 ABs...

Now that's how you get angry at your players

Hooks manager Luis Pujols, on his closed-door meeting following a series with Northwest Arkansas, where the Hooks were outscored 34-13:

“We didn’t play worth a (expletive) and they needed to know that. I’m very disappointed in the homestand. We didn’t pitch, we didn’t hit and we didn’t play defense. We didn’t do anything good. We were flat the whole homestand, not just tonight. I just let them know that we need to pick it up. They know that we didn’t play well. This is my first meeting of the year; It took three months to have a meeting. We have (exactly) two months left and a lot of baseball to play. I believe they understand that they didn’t play good enough. (The coaching staff) lets them know how to play the game, but they’re the ones who have to play.”

And on Naturals' pitcher Everett Teaford?
“He threw the ball well. But he wasn’t Sandy Koufax.”

Eddie's Farm: July 7

Eddie's Farm went 4-2 last night.

Round Rock
Round Rock's offense struggled against a rehabbing Kyle Lohse last night in a 3-1 loss to Memphis. Yordany got two of the Express' five hits - and no regular starter is currently hitting above .275. Yorman Bazardo took the loss, giving up 2ER in 8IP with 6K:1BB.

Corpus Christi
Northwest Arkansas jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the fourth inning, and managed to finish it off with a 9-2 win over Corpus. Sutil and Florentino got the only two hits for the Hooks last night. Sergio Perez went 4IP, 7H/5ER, 1K:3BB for the loss. New Hook Charlie Weatherby III gave up 3H/2ER in 2IP, Ryan McKeller went 2IP, 4H/1ER, and T.J. Burton threw the only scoreless inning for the Hooks.

The JetHawks blew up for four runs in the final three innings to defeat Rancho Cucamonga 7-3. Only David Flores didn't get a hit last night, as T.J. Steele was 3x5 (now hitting .359), while Gabe Suarez, Jon Gaston, Matt Weston, and Koby Clemens each had two hits. Jack Shuck hit his first homer of the season and stole his 17th base of the season in 23 attempts, and the JetHawks had three two-out runs on the night. Chris Hicks bumped his record to 8-5 with 6IP, 5H/1ER, 2K:2BB and Chris Salamida closed it out with 3IP, 2H/1ER, 2K:0BB.

Ebert Rosario scored Eric Suttle with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Rome 1-0 last night. The Legends had five hits - three doubles, two of them Rosario's - in the pitcher's duel that saw Jordan Lyles drop the hammer on Rome with 7IP, 7H/0ER, 10K:1BB and Brian Wabick throw two hitless innings for the win. Lyles' ERA is now 2.92.

The ValleyCats got two runs in the 2nd, and then held on for a 2-1 win over Lowell. Russell Dixon got his 4th RBI of the season and Colton Pitkin moved his record to 2-2 with a 5.1IP, 5H/0ER, 6K:4BB performance. Antonio Noguera threw 2IP, 3H/1ER and J.B. MacDonald got his first save of the season with 1.2IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:0BB.

The Greeneville Astros got out to an 8-2 lead after two innings, and then had to hold on for a 13-10 win over Kingsport. Jonathan Meyer was 3x5, Grant Hogue 3x4, and Jose Altuve, Miguel Arrendell, J.D. Martinez, and Aaron Bray had two hits each. The 4-5-6 of Martinez, Meyer, and Bray went 7x15 with 3 doubles and 6RBI. The pitching wasn't much to shout about: B.J. Hyatt went 2IP, 7H/6ER, while Angel Gonzalez got the win despite throwing 1.2IP, 3H/4ER, 2K:2BB. Juri Perez and David Martinez closed out the game with 5.1IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:1BB.

Want to watch Mrs. Casey Daigle on tv? Turn it to E tonight

E! is debuting a show tonight called Baseball Wives. It's pretty self explanatory.

Astros send scouts to Continental Baseball League All-Star Game

Word within this piece that the Astros were among at least seven teams that sent scouts to the Continental Baseball League's All-Star Game.

The CBL is an independent league playing in the southwest.

Coop discusses job security

Astros Notes this morning includes a mention of what has changed since not having Ken Rosenthal calling for his job every other column:

I don’t even worry about that. I figure if I do what I’m supposed to do somebody will hire me, so I don’t even worry about that. I’ve been in baseball for 40-something years, and I’ve always had a job. So I don’t worry about it.”

And acknowledges that a healthy starting lineup makes a manager look a lot smarter:
“It helps when you’ve got healthy players and guys that you counted on to do certain things. It helps. Sure it does. It makes it a little easier. It’s not an easy job, but it makes it easier.”

And finally on the Coop front, the end of the NL Central hasn't happened yet, but is pretty much inevitable:
I am surprised that no one has pulled away from the pack, but that’s good for us,” he said. “I don’t think we have played our best baseball. I say that almost every day. We win three, lose two, win two, lose one. We’re kind of up and down. We haven’t had a streak. We’ve only won five, I think, one time. We’re due to have a (streak of) seven or eight like most of the other clubs. If we do, we could be in great shape. I am a little surprised at some of the clubs predicted to win the division haven’t run away from us, yet.”

We also find out that Kaz is working on his swing, which for a .230 hitter is probably a good idea:
“Sometimes my body goes forward and my hands go up too early. I’m trying to avoid that. I’m just going through that. Maybe I open up too quickly.”

Lee, Bourn, and Michaels joined him for early batting practice. Says Coop:
“Just getting some extra swings in. Kaz has been struggling a little bit. Michael’s been struggling a little bit. Carlos has had some struggles here of late. He’s hit some balls good but hasn’t been able to get anything. They’re guys that want to work on stuff, so I think that’s good.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recap for G82 - Pirates @ Astros

Gotta be kidding me. Moehler trucked along, and then it all blew up in the 7th for Moehler, for Byrdak, and for Sampson. Errors didn't help, but this falls squarely on the shoulders of the pitching staff, as the Astros lose 6-3, missing out on yet another opportunity to get to .500 in a winnable game.

Tejada gave the Pirates a chance with an error in the 1st, but Moehler wiggled out of it, and got the next seven he faced, before McCutchen doubled in the top of the 3rd, and Wilson brought him home with a two-run shot. Then Moehler got the next 11 batters before walking Jones and LaRoche back to back in the 7th. So Byrdak comes in with one out and walks Vazquez on four pitches. So Sampson comes in and gets a ground ball, that Berkman throws away, scoring Jones. So then Young, McCutchen, and Wilson all single in succession to score three runs (Jaramillo thrown out at home on McCutchen's single), and it's 6-2 at the end of seven.

The Astros get one back in the bottom of the 7th, but it's just not enough. Moehler gets the quality start, due to one of his four runs being unearned, making Moehler's outing...

Moehler: 6.1IP, 3H/3ER, 4K:2BB, 14/24 first-pitch strikes, 24/55 non-contact strikes (only 2 swinging strikes all night long)
Byrdak: 0IP, 1ER, 1BB, 0/1 FPS, 0/0 NCS
Sampson: .2IP, 2H/0ER (1ER), 5/5 FPS, 0/5 NCS - that's right, the Pirates were swinging on every first pitch Sampson threw.
Arias: 2IP, 1H, 1K, 3/7 FPS, 6/14 NCS

Offensively, only one out of the Astros 10 hits was for extra-bases. Clutch hitting wasn't exactly on tap, either - two of the three runs came on RBI groundouts, and they were 1x8 total with RISP (Pence's RBI single). Pudge was 3x4, Tejada 2x5, and Lee 2x4 to account for the multi-hit games. Matsui was 1x2 with 2BBs, while Bourn and Keppinger were the only position players to go 0-fer (Bourn did have an RBI, though).

Pitch count alert: Pence, 1x4, only saw 8 pitches. Bourn, 0x4 with a BB, saw 21.

Man of the Match: Jeez, I don't know. Pudge? Three hits, two of them with less than two outs and, had somebody actually got a clutch hit, could have had some runs.

Goat of the Game: This is tough, too. Everyone played a pretty forgettable game. Sampson really earned Moehler's loss for him with three hits on three straight pitches. But I think this goes to Jeff Keppinger. He left four men on base, including an AB in the bottom of the 8th when, down 6-3 and the bases loaded with one out, Keppinger grounded an 0-1 pitch to the shortstop for an inning-ending double play.

Hampton = Steve McNair

Never let an obvious column/post/article pass you by. Or how about flat-out reaching for one?

The Examiner today compares Mike Hampton to Steve McNair:

Hampton may not be the best pitcher, but he's definitely the toughest. In a way, he is the Steve McNair of Major League Baseball...

...Both Hampton and McNair share a common bond of having to overcome injuries just to play their respective sport. They refused to let it get the better of them. Their overall toughness on the field provides inspiration to all professional athletes, coaches and fans.

Whether it's professional, college or high school sports, every team needs a player similar to Hampton or McNair. Courage, passion and the refusal to give up in times of struggle exemplifies an extraordinary athlete. Sports extends deeper than simply generating exceptional stats. It's about whether or not a player can have a positive impact on their team.

The Astros are a better team because of Hampton being on the roster, just as the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens were great with Air McNair playing quarterback.


Agree, or disagree?

Eddie's Farm, by position

We're not going to look at pitchers to this point in the season, so let's take a look at who the organization values by comparing ABs among position players in the Round Rock-Lexington (or, Long Season) system to this point in the season. A small disclaimer - I'm going by the position listed on the official roster, and taking the ABs from the stats pages. There could be DH ABs in here, but they're not broken down like that. It's not the most scientific, but here it is...

1st Basemen
Round Rock
Mark Saccomanno - 302 ABs (53.3%)
John Gall - 265 ABs (46.7%)

Corpus Christi
Mark Ori - 265 ABs (100%)

Marcos Cabral - 278 ABs (72%)
Matt Weston - 108 ABs (28%)

Brian Pellegrini - 156 ABs (54.9%)
Phil Disher - 128 ABs (45.1%)

2nd Basemen
Round Rock
Jason Smith - 116 ABs (53.5%)
Edwin Maysonet - 101 ABs (46.5% - of course this diminishes the fact that both Maysonet and Smith spent some time in Houston this season)

Corpus Christi
Drew Meyer - 296 ABs (100%)

Craig Corrado - 255 ABs (73.1%)
Gabe Suarez - 94 ABs (26.9%)

Michael Diaz - 140 ABs (37.3%)
Albert Cartwright - 136 ABs (36.2%)
Andrew Simunic - 99 ABs (26.4%)

3rd Basemen
Round Rock
Chris Johnson - 180 ABs (65.9%)
Chad Spann - 93 ABs (34.1%)

Corpus Christi
Jhon Florentino - 211 ABs (61.5%)
Felix Molina - 132 ABs (38.5%)

David Flores - 237 ABs

Ebert Rosario - 272 ABs

Round Rock
Tommy Manzella - 327 ABs (100%)

Corpus Christi
Wladimir Sutil - 244 ABs

Chris Jackson - 197 ABs

Ronald Ramirez - 153 ABs (47.2%)
Jorge De Leon - 102 ABs (31.5%)
Ricardo Bonfante - 69 ABs (18.4%)

Round Rock
Reggie Abercrombie - 291 ABs
Brian Bogusevic - 299 ABs
Yordany Ramirez - 269 ABs
Eli Iorg - 43 ABs

Corpus Christi
Drew Locke - 306 ABs
Collin DeLome - 280 ABs
Mitch Einertson - 220 ABs
Josh Flores - 163 ABs
Nick Moresi - 39 ABs

Jon Gaston - 301 ABs
Jack Shuck - 318 ABs
T.J. Steele - 151 ABs
Brandon Barnes - 69 ABs

Jay Austin - 252 ABs
Steve Brown - 131 ABs
Eric Suttle - 109 ABs
Marques Williams - 41 ABs

Round Rock
Lou Santangelo - 167 ABs (60.7%)
J.R Towles - 108 ABs (39.3%)

Corpus Christi
Brian Esposito - 151 ABs (53.7%)
Jason Castro - 70 ABs (24.9%)
Jonathan Fixler - 60 ABs (21.4%)

Jordan Comadena - 21 ABs
Jason Castro - 207 ABs

Federico Hernandez - 222 ABs
Reinaldo Pestana - 17 ABs

Designated Hitters
Corpus Christi
Jimmy Van Ostrand - 216 ABs

Koby Clemens - 201 ABs

Kyle Miller - 94 ABs (54%)
Kody Hinze - 80 ABs (46%)


Hey, we have some transactions to report over the last couple of days...

Round Rock
July 4: Placed J.R. Towles on the 7-day DL
July 4: As a result, Jonathan Fixler was called up to replace Towles

Corpus Christi
July 2: Tyler Lumsden sent down from Round Rock
July 2: Signed free agent RHP Charlie Weatherby III

Matchup for G82 - Pirates @ Astros

so the Astros enter the second half of the season 40-41, tied with the Reds, and 3.5 back of the division-leading Cardinals. One good thing is that the Brewers are a game back of the Cardinals, and they're playing each other - so someone has to lose. There is ground to be made up this week...

Brian Moehler

Moehler has faced the Pirates twice already this season - once on April 13, when he got hurt enough for the Astros to pull the plug on him for three weeks, and on May 29, when he threw his complete game.

Last three starts:

6/20 @MIN64/33:111/897/66
6/25 vKC55/13:210/892/56
7/1 @SD64/18:45/9115/74

I mentioned before Moehler's last start that, since that CG vs the Pirates, Moehler hadn't thrown more than 100 pitches in a start. And then he went out and threw 115 pitches - only six innings worth, but still. And also of note, in starts following games that Moehler throws 100+ pitches, he has allowed at least 4ER.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 47x120, .392/.430/.708, 17K:6BB
vs Lefties: 36x153, .235/.306/.405, 28K:15BB

When swinging at the first pitch (41): .462/.475/.821, 8XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (145): .287/.326/.529, 30K:7BB
After First-Pitch Balls (115): .265/.426/.500, 15K:14BB

RISP: 23x76, .303/.365/.447, 11K:8BB
Runners on: 39x128, .305/.362/.484, 19K:11BB
2OwRISP: 6x32, .188/.257/.188, 7K:3BB

Paul Maholm

Maholm made two consecutive starts against the Astros on May 31/June 6...
5/31 vHOU: 7IP, 8H/1ER, 4K:2BB
6/6 @HOU: 7IP, 8H/4ER, 8K:3BB

Last three starts:

6/21 @COL58/57:47/783/52
6/27 vKC75/22:111/1185/55
7/2 vNYM4.111/61:111/1181/53

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 100x321, .312/.367/.442, 43K:27BB
vs Lefties: 19x90, .211/.290/.244, 21K:7BB

When swinging at the first pitch (65): .383/.393/.583, 6XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (203): .280/.315/.347, 43K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (187): .266/.373/.392, 21K:26BB

RISP: 843x126, .341/.394/.413, 15K:10BB
Runners on: 63x194, .325/.376/.412, 25K:15BB
2OwRISP: 16x55, .291/.400/.436, 6K:9BB

Astros giving away a lot of outs

It's been regularly mentioned that the 2009 Houston Astros have given away a ton of outs this season on the basepaths. There's no way I'm going back game-by-game through the other 29 teams, but let's just take a look at the baserunning errors this season...

Caught Stealing: 29
Doubled off 1st: 3
Out stretching for an extra base: 12

See that? That's 44 baserunning outs. Or the equivalent of almost 15 innings worth of outs on baserunning errors. Obviously a team that steals - or tries to steal - as much as the Astros is going to get thrown out a lot, but the 29 CSs are tied for most in the Majors, and the closest NL Central team - the Reds - only have had 20 runners thrown out trying to steal.

Astros Notes

Notes column from the Chronicle this morning:

Doug Brocail is getting back to bullpen sessions. Dewey Robinson:
“This is just the first time we’ve seen him off the mound. Just from my end of it he looked good. He only threw about 25 fastballs, but the ball’s coming out of his hand good.”

"I’m pain-free.”

It will be interesting to see what the Astros do with Brocail once he's ready to go. I bet he's thinking pretty hard about Geoff Geary and Brandon Backe...

Remember the mention of LaHawk waving the trainer back in the dugout in last night's game? It's apparently a stiff neck.

“Quintero just saw him, and he thought he kind of winced when he threw a pitch. That’s why he called us out. Hawk said he was OK. I think Hawk’s battling a stiff neck. He kind of winced when he threw a pitch. Q thought it was something serious.”

“It doesn’t affect the pitching at all. Quintero thought I winced, but it was because the pitch I was trying to throw sunk, and I was trying to make it cut.”

Now Felipe, about that Giants game...

So the six-man rotation experiment has come to an end.

Paulino was available out of the bullpen for last night's game, and may be in the mix to resume the suspended Thursday game against Washington.

"We're going to go with just our regular five guys for these next five games. Roy is scheduled for Friday and Ortiz on Thursday. We don't know about the suspended game."

Astros sign another pitcher

Word from the American Chronicle that the Astros have signed former Wake Forest pitcher Garrett Bullock as a free agent, and will report to Greeneville.

At Wake Forest, Bullock was 9-13 with a save, and a 6.17 ERA.

In this 2006 profile, Bullock mentioned the Astros as his favorite team, and MMP as his favorite park, with the LHP Bullock comparing himself to Andy Pettitte. Hooray!

Recap for G81 - Pirates @ Astros

So the 14-hour drive was pretty brutal, but the worst part of it - the last three hours - were taken care of by being able to listen to the Pirates/Astros game in its entirety. Highlight of the night: When Milo used the word "shillelagh" as a verb. No, I did not need to check the spelling.

The season is officially halfway over, and my preseason prediction of 81-81 looks solid as of now. Of course the Astros can put a huge dent in the NL Central by winning a bunch of games this week, with the Pirates and Nationals in town.

And it got started off with Mike Hampton's gem last night, a 4-1 win over the Pirates. It took two swings of the bat for the Astros to score all four runs, and Mike Hampton did what Mike Hampton does against the Pirates, and that's shut them down. Since 1995, Hampton is 14-3 against Pittsburgh, and has won his last ten starts.

Hampton: 7IP, 3H/1ER, 3K:3BB, 12/25 first-pitch strikes, 24/57 non-contact strikes
LaHawk: 1IP, 1/3 FPS, 2/6 NCS
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 3K, 3/4 FPS, 7/14 NCS

Hampton got in and out of trouble in the first, walking the first two batters he faced, and then getting Young to line one at his head and doubling Jack Wilson off first for the DP. The three hits? An infield single in the 2nd, and a double and single in the 7th. LaHawk came in for a perfect 8th, and in what sounded like a bizarre move, looked like he was hurt, and waved the trainer back into the dugout. Valverde struck out the side to preserve the save and the win. Nice play from Hunter Pence to end the 7th by nailing Diaz trying to turn an RBI single into an RBI double.

Offensively, it only took two swings of the bat to get all four runs. A two-run triple by Geoff Blum in the first, and a two-run double by Miggs in the fifth were all Hampton needed to get the win. Matsui and Quintero were your only starters to go 0-fer, and even Erstad got things rocking with a leadoff triple in the 7th (that the Astros completely wasted). Four of the Astros eight hits were for extra bases, and they managed to draw five walks - two of them by Berkman.

Man of the Match: Mike Hampton. 5-5 on the year, and now has a 4.16 ERA.

Goat of the Game: It's hard to say, Matsui made a couple of good plays at second, despite again not getting a hit (now batting .228). How about Quintero? 0x4, and only saw 12 pitches at the plate, and had a passed ball in the game, as well.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Driving for 14 hours. Be back soon!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recap for G80 - Astros @ Giants

Big story of today's game was not just the Astros' 7-1 win, but also Randy Johnson's exit with a shoulder injury after committing a throwing error, and then taking a more awkward than normal swing against Roy.

ANY-way, the Astros prevented a sweep, and managed to come away from a seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record. The Astros scored their seven runs over three innings, two of them 3-run innings. The Astros drew two walks (none by Berkman) on the day, but it was all about Roy.

Here's the thing:
Roy: 8IP, 3H/1ER, 6K:1BB - the one ER a homer by Rich Aurilia in the 8th - 19/28 first-pitch strikes, 29/69 non-contact strikes (22 looking)
LaHawk: 1IP

Most of all, Roy was efficient. Here's the pitch count by inning:
1st: 10
2nd: 7
3rd: 10
4th: 13
5th: 9
6th: 12
7th: 11
8th: 22

So the only inning Roy had where he threw 15+ pitches was in the 8th, and the last two batters Roy faced (Lewis and Torres) took 11 of those, and had eight ABs in which Roy didn't throw a ball.

Offensively, a good performance. 10 hits, 7 runs; including two hits from All-Star Miguel Tejada and three hits from Jeff Keppinger, who raised his average to .268. The Astros also got it done with the long ball: homers from Tejada (1st inning), Pence and Michaels (both in the 4th). They showed more plate discipline - though the walks didn't show it - only making three first-pitch outs.

Man of the Match: It has to go to Roy, doesn't it? Paulino and Ortiz couldn't stop the Giants' offense, and Roy most certainly did that, holding the Giants to 3x26.

Goat of the Game: Hard to say. Pudge helped call a great game, so he's off the hook - despite his 0x4 with only 11 pitches. How about Matsui? The other 0-fer guy, and now hitting .232 with a .284 OBP.

Matchup for G80 - Astros @ Giants

The Astros will attempt to recover a little dignity today as they face another former Cy Young winner in the Big Unit, sending Roy Oswalt to the mound.

Roy Oswalt
Roy is coming off his second complete game in his last three starts.

Last three starts:

6/19 @MIN810/54:417/10126/81
6/24 vKC67/18:27/10106/71
6/29 vSD92/18:27/13110/74

That's a 16:4 K:BB ratio and 15IP/2ER in his last two starts.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 49x209, .234/.303/.407, 41K:17BB
vs Lefties: 58x192, .302/.345/.469, 42K:13BB

When swinging at the first pitch (55): .346/.346/.635, 8XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (233): .240/.274/.359, 56K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (156): .280/.387/.485, 27K:22BB

RISP: 16x81, .198/.323/.296, 22K:14BB
Runners on: 40x160, .250/.330/.419, 33K:18BB
2OwRISP: 8x40, .200/.347/.250, 14K:7BB

Randy Johnson

The Big Unit will be facing the Astros this afternoon looking for his 304th career win.

Last three starts:

6/19 vTEX5.26/45:16/1290/60
6/24 @OAK76/16:110/10102/65
6/30 @StL5.14/33:45/1177/45

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 65x260, .250/.317/.485, 59K:26BB
vs Lefties: 20x74, .270/.325/.432, 19K:5BB

When swinging at the first pitch (45): .244/.262/.415, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (169): .265/.290/.457, 46K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (159): .244/.365/.511, 32K:25BB

RISP: 18x75, .240/.333/.387, 19K:10BB
Runners on: 31x131, .237/.318/.397, 32K:15BB
2OwRISP: 10x31, .194/.342/.323, 12K:6BB

Yep. One All-Star - Make That Two

Miguel Tejada is your lone Astro representative for the National League All-Star Game, elected by the players as the reserve to Hanley Ramirez at short.

UPDATE: I was in such a hurry to do this post that my friend Anonymous is correct. Hunter Pence was also selected as a reserve outfielder. Congrats to both, and a Cap Tip to Anonymous for pointing it out.

Well that didn't take long

Former Express reliever Brendan Donnelly has signed with the Florida Marlins.

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