Saturday, July 18, 2009

Coste starting at 1B

Justice just tweeted that Chris Coste will be your starting 1B tonight. I guess Erstad's 2x5 was just too good to be true.

Berkman is available to pinch-hit.

Recap for G90 - Astros @ Dodgers

Yeah, so that vaunted pitching matchup I was so excited about kind of fizzled, no? The Astros jumped on Chad Billingsley early and often - and most often with two outs - to push their record to two games over .500 with an 8-1 win over the Dodgers.

Roy threw his 3rd complete game of the season, giving up only four hits and collecting his 6th win of the season. Let's look:

Roy: 9IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:0BB, 20/31 first-pitch strikes, 31 non-contact strikes (21 called:10 swinging).

He gave up one extra-base, a triple to Orlando Hudson, and that was pretty much it. No homers, nevermind three in an inning.He put together streaks of seven and eight batters retired in a row, and his ERA has settled down to a Roy-esque 3.65.

Offensively, it all happened in the first two innings. The Astros chased Billingsley after five outs, that took 14 batters to record. Billingsley's line was 1.2IP, 9H/6ER, 0K:0BB.

Seven of the Astros eight hits came with two outs. After Bourn and Matsui were out in the first, Tejada homered, Lee singled, Blum singled, Pence doubled, Pudge singled, Erstad singled, and Roy grounded out. Before most Dodger fans had filed in, it was 4-0.

Pudge had the big game, but only Lee and Pence were the starters without two hits. Even 1B2 Darin Erstad collected two hits, as did Bourn, Matsui, Tejada, and Blum. Pudge was 4x5 with 2RBI. In those 5ABs, Pudge only saw 12 pitches.

So seven runs, 4x9 with RISP, and they still left 9 on base...

Man of the Match: Pudge is deserving, but it goes to the guy with the complete game.

Goat of the Game: This one's hard, because everybody did well. But he who did least well has been anointed Carlos Lee. 1x4, 0x2 with men on base.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lineup for G90 - Astros @ Dodgers

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

Notice anything?

I guess Sampson will have time to change diapers now

Alyson Footer just tweeted that Chris Sampson has been placed on the DL with shoulder spasms. Chad Paronto will join the Astros on Saturday.

Ed Wade tells MLB Home Plate...

...That the Astros won't be buyers at the deadline, according to Twitter.

More on Boone's comeback

Alyson Footer posted a blog today detailing the earlier post.

The last time we spoke with Boooooone -- in mid-June, during the Astros trip to Arizona -- he said he'd love to play again this year and mentioned a September return as a very real possibility.

That would require him to spend at least a month rehabbing in the Minor Leagues, and it appears that the timetable is working in his favor. I love the idea of Booooone playing with the Astros in September, especially if they're in a playoff race. Rosters will expand to 40, so no one would have to be sent out in order to make room for Boone, and he would be a tremendous presence in the clubhouse during the stretch run.

He's been through everything -- division races, October baseball (who can forget his Game 7 homer that won the pennant for the Yankees in '03?) -- and there's no doubt the Astros could only benefit from that kind of veteran presence during such an intense time.


There's also a note that J.R. Towles broke his nose in "a tractor mishap," but is still eligible to play. You've got to be kidding me. Let's also keep in mind that Towles missed some time in Spring Training taking off his shirt and cutting his hand up on the ceiling fan.

3 Things from 2 Tweets

Alyson Footer has been all a'twitter this afternoon. What'd she say?

By the way, Puma wasn't walking well after last night's game...look for him to miss some time.


Sampson's wife close to delivering 2nd son; Chris flies home to Houston...Aaron Boone begins comeback bid Monday.


First of all, it's not a good time to miss some time. Especially when your 1B2 is Darin Erstad.

Second of all, congratulations to Chris Sampson, hope everything goes well.

Third of all, I guess I knew that at some point Aaron Boone would be coming back. I just didn't think it would be this season.

Matchup for G90 - Astros @ Dodgers

This is one of the better pitching matchups of the season, and will most likely get no mention, as Roy Oswalt faces off against Chad Billingsley for game two of this series.

Roy Oswalt
Over his last four starts, dating back to June 24, Roy has posted a 2-0 line with a 1.86 ERA, 28K:6BB, and opponents are hitting .168/.222/.287. It would be nice to keep that rolling tonight as the Dodgers' offense isn't going to stay quiet for long, and on 4/22 the Dodgers did something no other team has done to Roy before - hit three homers in one inning. But it will be interesting to see Roy respond after abruptly leaving G86 vs Washington with numbness in his hand.

Last three starts:

6/29 @SD92/18:27/13110/74
7/5 @SF83/16:115/694/69
7/10 vWAS65/36:18/886/58

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 52x229, .227/.291/.402, 44K:17BB
vs Lefties: 63x220, .286/.331/.441, 51K:15BB

When swinging at the first pitch (63): .322/.322/.576, 8XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (260): .225/.257/.340, 66K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (172): .281/.386/.493, 29K:24BB

RISP: 19x88, .216/.330/.330, 23K:14BB
Runners on: 43x172, .250/.325/.419, 37K:18BB
2OwRISP: 8x42, .190/.333/.238, 14K:7BB

Chad Billingsley

Billingsley won his last time out against the Astros, when he faced Wandy back on 4/23. Billinglsey's ERA is sitting at 3.38, and he has given up homers in each of his last four starts.

Last three starts:

6/30 vCOL7.25/311:34/12118/74
7/5 @SD84/35:08/1597/68
7/10 @MIL55/54:49/7110/67

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 37x188, .197/.305/.303, 48K:28BB
vs Lefties: 62x249, .249/.324/.365, 71K:27BB

When swinging at the first pitch (62): .351/.367/.579, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (245): .179/.235/.278, 81K:14BB
After First-Pitch Balls (207): .248/.397/.338, 38K:41BB

RISP: 20x96, .208/.336/.271, 18K:22BB
Runners on: 43x163, .264/.355/.350, 32K:27BB
2OwRISP: 9x40, .225/.436/.300, 6K:14BB

Transaction - and a link

July 16:
New signee German Duran was assigned to Corpus Christi after spending some Get To Know You starts with the GCL Astros. He had an error last night.

Also worth noting the link takes you to Zachary Levine's impressions of Corpus last night. Interesting things to point out, including a warning not to expect huge homer numbers out of Castro at Corpus...

He went from one of the best homer parks in all of affiliated ball to a yard where the wind blows out to left off the water, and you'd have to hit a third-deck-worthy shot just to reach the warning track. There were several balls that looked really well hit that settled right in the glove of a normally positioned right fielder.

Eddie's Farm: July 16

Eddie's Farm goes 3-4 last night as everyone plays...

Round Rock
The Express scored five runs in the 7th to take a 5-4 lead, but OKC got one back in the top of the 8th, and the Express ultimately fell in 14 to Oklahoma City 7-5. Lots of ABs to go around, John Gall was 3x6 and Bogusevic, Manzella, and Yordany got two hits each. Manzella was The Man though, getting a 2-out grand slam in the 8th. McLemore threw 6IP, 8H/4ER, 4K:0BB, Geary threw a scoreless 7th. Casey Daigle gave up the 8th inning run, and Jeremy Johnson got the loss in a 4IP, 3H/2ER outing on OKC's C Kevin Richardson's second homer of the game.

Corpus Christi
Corpus got two in the 8th and one in the 9th - a walk-off - to defeat Frisco 3-2. Jhon Florentino and Mitch Einertson had two hits each. Drew Locke and Jason Castro got RBI singles to tie the game with two outs in the 8th, and Einertson's second hit scored Collin DeLome for the walk-off. Wilton Lopez threw 6IP, 6H/2ER, 4K:0BB and Erick Abreu pushed his record to 3-0, giving up a hit and a walk in 3IP for the win.

Jon Gaston was a double short of the cycle in a 3x4, 2RBI game as the JetHawks whooped High Desert 9-4. Jack Shuck went 3x4, while Clemens, Cabral, Barnes, and Corrado each had two hits. Clemens had 3RBI and Brandon Barnes had a couple of RBIs himself. Leandro Cespedes threw 5IP, 3H/2ER, 5K:2BB. Also of note: Lancaster manager Wes Clements got tossed by the 1st base umpire in the 8th. Hooray!

Delmarva is a buzz-saw, and Lexington is running squarely through it, with the Delmarva Delmarvas getting four runs in the 6th for a 5-2 win over the Legends. Two hits each from Jay Austin and Michael Diaz accounted for most of the Legends' seven hits. Robert Bono got the loss with 5IP, 10H/5ER, 2K:0BB. Arcenio Leon (whoop whoop whoop) threw 2.1IP, didn't give up a hit, but walked four batters.

Erik Castro is starting to come around for the ValleyCats, hitting a 2-run shot in the 2nd inning as the ValleyCats beat State College 6-5 in 10 innings. Nick Stanley doubled in the bottom of the 10th (Ben Orloff running), Jake Goebbert was HBP, Castro sac'ed both runners over. State College reliever Marc Baca intentionally walked J.D. Martinez (a wise move) to load the bases, and with pinch-hitter Brian Kemp up, Baca threw a WP that scored Orloff. Let's hear it for walk-off WPs! Two hits from Wikoff, Dixon, Castro and Renzo Tello paced the ValleyCats. Brandt Walker got the start with 4IP, 3H/2ER, 4K:1BB, followed by 3IP of scoreless relief from Justin Fearnow and Antonio Noguera. Scott Migl and J.B. MacDonald gave up 3ER in 2IP, and Brendan Stines recorded the win with a scoreless 10th.

Greeneville took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the 9th at Johnson City, and then got the Johnson as they scored twice in the bottom of the inning for an 8-7 win. Jonathan Meyer got hisself a 2-run double - his 4th of the season - while Oscar Figueroa was 2x3 with three runs, a solo homer, and 2RBI. Jose Cisnero threw 4IP, 7H/4ER, Dan Sarisky gave up 2ER in 2IP, and Nathan Pettus gave up a 2-run walk off homer in the bottom of the 9th for the loss.

GCL Astros
Rough night for the Gastros as they lose to the GCL Marlins 15-2. Nestor Santana got two of the Gastros' five hits. Three more errors led to three unearned runs. Euris Quezada gave up 6ER in 4IP for his 4th loss, and an ERA of 9.64.

Astros not buying...or selling

In a feel-good piece about the Astros by Jerome Solomon, he tells us Easy Eddie called a team meeting prior to the All-Star Break where he said...

“If we're going to get to the finish line first, it's going to be with the guys in the room. I don't think we're short. I think the talent is here. It's the little things we have to tighten up on and we have the guys that can do it. It's not like we're asking a bunch of inexperienced guys to go out and figure it out. We have veterans who have done it before.”


“I like the guys we have here. There may be guys out there this year at the trade deadline that might make us better, and we won't pass up a bargain, but not all teams that make blockbuster deals are going to be playing in October. That's where you get back to hope. We hope we avoid the major injury to key players, and we hope we do what we're capable of, and we hope we get to the finish line. That's what I told the team in the meeting. ‘It's on this group to get it done. And this group can get it done.'”

Does this make comfortable? Or uncomfortable?

Berkman's calf is a recurring problem

So when Lance left in the 8th inning last night, even three days off weren't enough to heal what is apparently an ongoing issue.

"It's been bothering me for a while, to be honest with you. It's been manageable, but that's as hard as I've run in a while. It doesn't feel great, but hopefully in the morning it will feel better."

Notes more like a casualty list

Today's Notes column from the Chronicle details various and sundry injuries. Quick-like:

-Some sitting positions cause LaHawk to endure back spasms. He then short-sightedly demonstrated what those positions were.

-Doug Brocail will throw a simulated game today. After the simulated game, he'll most likely go on a rehab assignment to test out the hamstring:
"This is one of those things that I can get out there. You can do anything pitching, (but the test is) the simulation of breaking to first. I can't get that until I get in the game. There's no use in checking that out in the big leagues. As much as I hate rehab assignments, this one I think is going to be a necessity only because if I overstride or I move too quick I got to know what it's going to do.”

-Erstad is feeling better with his tender hamstring. This is a case of the Notes obviously being written before the game, because Erstad took over at 1st in the 8th inning after Berkman came out. Whoops.

-And one more item of note: Pence is pissed about not getting in the All-Star Game:
“Yeah, I think it is a big motivation to me to want to go out and do more. A little bit of just not getting the chance to go in there. You want to go out and just for whatever reason it fires you up and motivates you to want to play well the second half. And then also it motivates you for the next year to try to prove that you can get back again and get a chance to play. So I still got the carrot in front of the horse.”

Recap for G89 - Astros @ Dodgers

That's what I'm talking about. Wandy and four relievers combined to shutout the Dodgers in a 3-0 win.

Manny held 1x4, but it could have very easily been 2x4 if not for Hunter Pence's diving catch towards the right field line. One note of concern: Lance left the game with a mild calf strain, and we'll have more on that later.

Wandy: 6IP, 5H/0ER, 6K:2BB, 13/24 first-pitch strikes, 36/68 non-contact strikes (24 called:12 swinging)
Byrdak: 0IP, 1BB, 1/1 FPS, 2/2 NCS (1c:1s) - walked the only batter he faced.
Arias: 1IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB, 2/4 FPS, 7/13 NCS (4c:3s)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1H, 2/3 FPS, 4/10 NCS (4c:0s)
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 2/4 FPS, 3/12 NCS (3c:0s)

The Dodgers were 0x8 with RISP, and while that seems futile on the part of the Dodgers' offense, it also means the Astros pitchers were 8x8 with Dodgers in scoring position, and they left nine on base to end the inning. Valverde got his 9th save in 13 chances, and for the ERA check, Wandy is at 2.81, Arias at 1.52, LaHawk at 2.33, Valverde at 3.27. Those are good numbers.

Offensively, the Astros got all their runs off Randy Wolf - three runs on five hits. Quintero led off the scoring with his first homer of the season with two outs, and then in the 7th inning...
Lee: Singles to left
Tejada: Singles to center
Pence: Singles to center (Wolf pulled)
Matsui: Singles, scoring Lee
Quintero: GIDP, but scores Tejada

The top of the lineup didn't do...anything, really. Bourn/Keppinger/Berkman combined for 0x10, 3K:2BB. 4/5/6/7 was 6x15, 2K:1BB, 2R. Aside from Q's homer, Matsui had the only other extra-base hit, a double (putting him at 2x4 for the night, and he's now hitting .257). Since coming back from injury in June, Matsui is 24x76 (.316), and is 9x16 (.563) in his current six-game hitting streak.

Man of the Match: Tough. I want to give it to Q for his homerun and RBI GIDP, but this one's going to Wandy.

Goat of the Game: Michael Bourn. 0x4, 2K.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sean McAdam: Astros need to win now

Helpful advice. Because I thought The Plan was to lollygag it until August 26, and then win out.

ANYway, Fox Sports' Sean McAdam lists the four teams that need to win now. The Astros are one of them. The other 26 teams can win later, it doesn't matter.

Somebody else — Cubs? Brewers? — was supposed to run off ahead in the National League Central. Instead, it's the most crowded of the game's divisions, with five teams within five games of first place.

The Astros used second-half rebounds to make the playoffs in 2004 and 2005 and made late-season runs at the postseason in 2006 and 2008. Do they have the right stuff to make a fifth second-half surge in six seasons?

Houston put itself in good position by going 25-16 over the last six weeks. The trick will be keeping it going. The top half of the rotation — buoyed not by Roy Oswalt, but instead, Wandy Rodriguez — has been a positive, but the Astros could use some help from the likes of Brian Moehler and Russ Ortiz.

After a slow start, stalwart Lance Berkman has been typically immense and the Astros have gotten much more offense from Pudge Rodriguez than they could have possibly dreamed. Both Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn have also contributed significantly.

Two series with St. Louis and one each against Milwaukee and the Cubs — all before Aug. 9. — will determine whether the Astros have yet another late-season run left in them.

I would disagree a little bit with some points here. Over the last six weeks Roy has been more valuable than Wandy. It's a stretch to say that Pudge has put up dreamy numbers (I would also point out that Bourn has probably been the one to put up dream-like numbers). But it's true, we'll know about the rest of '09 before we get too far into August.

Matchup for G89 - Astros @ Dodgers

Pretty important series starts today, and you could make the case that this series holds the key to the rest of the season, as a bad four games would put the Astros below .500 and have them playing catchup with the rest of the NL Central. Milwaukee starts the second half at Cincinnati, the Cubs have the Nationals on the road, and the Cardinals have the D'a'ondbac's at home. A strong showing against a strong opponent can set the tone.

Improbably, the Astros took two of three from the Dodgers at home back in April. And expect Dodger Stadium to be alive tonight as Manny makes his triumphant return from suspension in his first game in front of his adoring, morally ambiguous soul-suckers of baseball.

Wandy Rodriguez
The Astros send Wandy to the mound to start it off, and it's a good choice. Wandy pitched against LA on 4/23 and went 6IP, 5H/1ER, 4K:2BB. 29 of his 67 strikes were of the non-contact variety. This, of course, was a game Wandy lost, because the Astros were shut-out, 2-0, at the hands of Chad Billingsley.

Last three starts:

6/26 vDET67/43:410/11106/59
7/2 @SD77/15:211/10108/70
7/8 vPIT95/011:110/9125/85

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 85x327, .260/.326/.407, 81K:31BB
vs Lefties: 19x89, .213/.286/.326, 25K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (42): .381/.381/.524, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (235): .207/.250/.281, 70K:11BB
After First-Pitch Balls (187): .274/.387/.503, 36K:29BB

RISP: 26x94, .277/.333/.394, 25K:8BB
Runners on: 47x164, .287/.353/.378, 37K:16BB
2OwRISP: 13x48, .271/.352/.396, 15K:5BB

Randy Wolf

And the Dodgers will send Randy Like the Wolf (I swear that's the last Berman-esque thing I ever do) to the hill to face his old team. Wolf is who the Dodgers thought he was: an inning-eating, durable machine. Only twice in his last 13 starts has Wolf failed to get 18 outs, and he doesn't throw a lot of pitches, either - under 100 pitches in four of his last six starts.

Last three starts:

6/29 vCOL64/24:19/996/65
7/4 @SD64/18:04/11100/62
7/9 @NYM6.17/23:210/13118/79

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 92x339, .271/.324/.472, 47K:25BB
vs Lefties: 9x87, .103/.177/.149, 38K:8BB

When swinging at the first pitch (55): .340/.352/.528, 6XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (245): .189/.236/.307, 56K:14BB
After First-Pitch Balls (168): .276/.359/.517, 29K:19BB

RISP: 19x84, .226/.302/.452, 15K:8BB
Runners on: 36x157, .229/.293/.439, 29K:13BB
2OwRISP: 6x36, .167/.250/.472, 8K:3BB

.500 at the Break = "Ice Cube's Chance In Hell"

PECOTA is not friends with the Astros. In the article "Resetting the Playoff Races" on Baseball Prospectus Daily, they take aim at the playoffs, and briefly, the Astros.

The Astros can be found under "Teams whose playoff odds are similar to what they were at the beginning of the season," subtitled with the Pirates, Padres, Orioles as "clubs who lacked more than an ice cube's chance in hell to begin with."

Currently BP gives the Astros a 4.5% chance of winning the NL Central, and a 0.7% chance of the Wild Card. That 5.2% playoff chance is 1.9% higher than what the Astros were given at the beginning of the season. Never mind the fact that PECOTA also projected the Astros to go 66-96, 29 games behind the Cubs. Look at the standings, and...yep, the Astros and Cubs are right there together. Never mind that the Astros need to go 22-52 to close the season and finish where BP projected (that's a winning percentage of .297. Even the Nationals went .299 in the first half...)

It's official: Wright called up

Wesley Wright has been called up to take Paulino's place on the Big Club.

And one other transaction to note:
July 15 - SS Ricardo Bonfante assigned to the GCL Astros

Eddie's Farm: July 15

Eddie's Farm goes 1-4 last night with Round Rock and Corpus off, but let's start with the AAA All-Star Game, and today we also debut a feature on the GCL Astros (because what else are you going to do? Work? It's never too early to start looking at the 2014 Astros...)

All-Star Game
The International League All-Stars, despite giving up two runs in the 9th, held on to beat the Pacific Coast League All-Stars 6-5 last night. Bud Norris got the start and threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB. Unfortunately, Yorman Bazardo got the loss, giving up 3ER on 3H in 0.2IP. /sad face.

The JetHawks got ripped 6-2 at High Desert last night, managing six hits and two errors (Ronald Ramirez and Marcos Cabral). Jack Shuck got two of the JetHawks' six hits with a double and a triple and is now hitting .323. Pitching duties were split between Bryan Hallberg (4IP, 8H/7R(5ER), 3K:4BB) and Jose Duran (4IP, 1H/0ER, 3K)

Delmarva beat Lexington yet again, this time in a 3-1 game. The Legends got four hits from Diaz, Pellegrini, Brown, and Simunic. David Duncan continued his resurgence with 6IP, 5H/2ER, 7K:1BB. After opening the season in Lancaster with an 0-9 record and 46ER in 48.2IP (8.51 ERA), Duncan has given up 14 ER in 31.1IP at Tri-City and Lexington.

Tri-City went off for 11 hits in a 10-4 win over State College. None of those hits were for extra-bases and the ValleyCats were just 5x18 with RISP, though it hardly matters when you score 10 runs on them. The rehabbing Eli Iorg was 3x5, Brandon Wikoff was 3x4, and Brian Kemp was 2x3 with a walk, and is now hitting .345. Wander Alvino threw 7IP, 4H/2ER, 4K:1BB while Justin Harper gave up 2ER in his 1IP. Mike Modica threw a scoreless 9th to lower his ERA to 0.93.

Despite getting eight hits, only one of those came with RISP (1x12) as Greeneville lost 9-2 to Johnson City. Jose Altuve and Jonathan Meyer both had two hits on the night. It was a rough night for the bullpen after Carlos Quevedo came out after 3.2IP, 5H/2ER, 4K:0BB (2HR). Travis Smink and Jeiler Castillo combined for 1.2IP, 7H/7ER, 3K:1BB, relying on Joan Belliard to get the last eight outs.

GCL Astros
The Fightin' Kissimmees scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th, but it wasn't enough as they fell to the GCL Nationals 10-9 yesterday. Luis Bryan was 3x5, German Duran was 2x5, C Ernesto Genoves was 2x5 with 3RBI (hitting .342), and CF Geber Suniaga was 2x5 with 2RBI of his own. Ricardo Batista went 3.1IP with 8H/4ER, but Rafael Pio was the hard-luck loser with 3.2IP, 0H/2R (0ER), 6K:1BB. Matter of fact, the GCL Astros committed five errors (Genoves, Bryan, Nash, Hinze, and Duran), meaning only four of the GCL Nats' 10 runs were earned.

Five years after he retires, Berkman will be eligible for the Hall of Fame

Three things to note about eligibility:
1. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, you have to have played ten seasons
2. You have to have been retired
3. Your name can't show up on any extra-curricular lists on Bud Selig's desk

That's it. And as of tonight, Berkman will have played ten seasons, because today is the 10th anniversary of Lance Berkman's major league debut. Is he a Hall of Famer? That's to be debated another time, but congratulations to Lance.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baseball America recaps the first round picks

Blog post by Baseball America on the first round picks who have already signed (12 of them), and who have already made their pro debut (10). Jiovanni Mier, of course, has done both of those things. What did BA say?

The top prep shortstop taken in the draft, Mier has gotten off to probably the hottest start of any of the ‘09 first rounders. The Astros dispatched him to Rookie-level Greeneville of the Appalachian League afer signing him for $1,358,000, and Mier, whose bat was his biggest question mark, has handled the transition to pro ball nicely, hitting .323/.425/.516 through 62 at-bats. His four triples are tied for the league lead, while his 13 RBIs are good for the team lead. Mier has already had seven multi-hit games in 15 starts and is currently riding a five-game hitting streak.

So what can we expect in the 2nd half from these guys?

I got to wondering, who generally does better in the second half of the season than they did in the first half? Or, who has already peaked out in a 162-game season of baseball? So let's look at the career numbers of first half vs. second half splits...

The Best is Yet to Come

Kaz Matsui
Career 1st half: .263/.319/.371, 2.26:1 K:BB
Career 2nd half: .296/.350/.424, 2.06:1 K:BB
I wasn't expecting that. Of course, Matsui has only started 155 games in the second half, compared to 323 in the 1st his career.

Geoff Blum
1st half: .246/.309/.371, 1.94:1 K:BB
2nd half: .258/.315/.403, 2.01:1 K:BB

Michael Bourn
1st half: .253/.320/.347, 2.22:1 K:BB
2nd half: .263/.328/.344, 2.81:1 K:BB
This is hardly a fair look, but he goes in the Going to Get Better file because he has improved. And we're talking about a difference in 614 PAs from the 1st half career to the 2nd half. So we'll just have to see.

Roy Oswalt
1st half: 67-48, 3.39 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 3.27:1 K:BB ratio, .262/.310/.396 against
2nd half: 67-20, 2.89 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 4.03:1 K:BB ratio, .246/.292/.374 against
This is just disgusting. A great pitcher gets even better in July/August/September. And hopefully October.

Mike Hampton
1st half: 76-65, 4.08 ERA/1.48 WHIP, 1.49:1 K:BB ratio, .277/.347/.397 against
2nd half: 70-46, 3.96 ERA/1.39 WHIP, 1.60:1 K:BB ratio, .265/.332/.399 against

Jose Valverde
1st half: 90 saves/15 losses, 4.08 ERA/1.32 WHIP, 2.80:1 K:BB ratio, .233/.313/.412 against
2nd half: 60 saves/4 losses, 2.19 ERA/0.95 WHIP, 3.78:1 K:BB ratio, .170/.249/.260 against
Probably the most pointed difference on the team, hopefully this also leads to him being traded. Preferably for nine top-flight prospects.

The Best is Behind Us

1st half: .310/.348/.498, 2.68:1 K:BB ratio
2nd half: .286/.322/.441, 2.96:1 K:BB ratio
Uh-oh. It's been a long time since Pudge even hit .286. Strikeouts up? Could be a long second half. Hurry up, Jason Castro.

Lance Berkman
1st half: .304/.418/.576, 1.02:1 K:BB ratio
2nd half: .295/.406/.536, 1.12:1 K:BB ratio
Honestly, hitting .295 would be an upgrade over 2009 Berkman. But look at this...
2008 1st half: .347/.443/.653
2008 2nd half: .259/.384/.436

Wandy Rodriguez
1st half: 31-26, 4.24 ERA/1.37 WHIP, 2.24:1 K:BB ratio, .264/.331/.434 against
2nd half: 14-20, 4.96 ERA/1.42 WHIP, 2.09:1 K:BB ratio, .266/.339/.424 against
Wandy has defied logic all season long, so there's no real obvious reason to think he can't keep it rolling over the second half.

Brian Moehler
1st half: 48-51, 4.49 ERA/1.41 WHIP, 1.97:1 K:BB ratio, .284/.333/.461 against
2nd half: 33-45, 5.06 ERA/1.49 WHIP, 1.97:1 K:BB ratio, .302/.349/.467 against

They'll Keep Doing What They Do

Miguel Tejada
1st half: .288/.338/.470, 1.82:1 K:BB
2nd half: .289/.347/.472, 1.93:1 K:BB
Pretty consistent over the course of the season, we'll see if Tejada is having one of those fabled Contract Years in the second half, as he's currently sitting about 40 points above his career average for a first half...

Carlos Lee
1st half: .288/.342/.503, 1.59:1 K:BB
2nd half: .295/.347/.504, 1.71:1 K:BB
Slight bump in the 2nd half batting average numbers, but has started 903 games in the 1st half as opposed to 641 starts in the 2nd. The season is just sooo long, and Jack in the Box is open sooo late.

Hunter Pence
1st half: .298/.343/.490, 1.69:1 K:BB
2nd half: .284/.343/.496, 2.63:1 K:BB
Same as with Bourn, we're talking about a limited sample size due to the fact that Pence is still a pretty young player. But he gets points for consistency so far.

Russ Ortiz
1st half: 61-52, 4.31 ERA/1.50 WHIP, 1.35:1 K:BB ratio, .258/.349/.395 against
2nd half: 52-34, 4.56 ERA/1.47 WHIP, 1.44:1 K:BB ratio, .255/.346/.418 against

"Hey! That Guy's an Astros fan!" Volume 1

In the first installment of "Hey! That Guy's an Astros Fan!" we speak with SportsCenter anchor Robert Flores.

Flores is a Houston native, graduating from UH, and later became the sports director for KWTX-TV in Waco KEYE-TV and in Austin at KEYE-TV. He joined ESPN in 2005.

Astros County asked questions, Robert Flores provided answers:

AC: How hard is it to be an Astros fan in Bristol?
RF: I wouldn't say it's hard but it can be lonely. There aren't alot of us up here. This is mostly Red Sox/Yankee country.
(Ed. Note: This is absolutely true. I lived in upstate New York for three years, and no one up there even realizes there is a Major League team in Houston. Yankees fans were raging angry when Chien-Ming Wang got hurt in Houston, mainly because they couldn't figure out why he was running in Houston in the first place. For them it's where Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens went to the same farm that sick pets go to, but then they came back.)

AC: What's your favorite Astro memory?
RF: My favorite Astros memory is back in 1986 a friend and I slept in the Astrodome parking lot for tickets to Game 1 of the NLCS against the Mets. Mike Scott went out and helped the Astros to a 1-nothing win. The Dome was electric that night.

AC: How long before the Astros get back to respectability?
RF: I think they're respectable now, especially in the last two weeks. Now, when will this franchise start winning divisions and going back to the playoffs and World Series? That's a tougher question. Their starting pitching isn't great and their farm system needs replenishing. Their most recent drafts can help, but it will take time.

AC: Who is your favorite Astro of all time?
RF: Cesar Cedeno. In fact that's the name of my fantasy baseball teams. I used to love to watch him leg out a double or triple and see his batting helmet fly off his mini-fro. The Astros didn't have many stars in those years, but he was definitely fun to watch.

AC: How long have you been an Astros fan?
RF: I've been an Astros fan since I was born. There wasn't even a choice. The only thing I regret about the 2005 World Series run is that I wasn't living in Houston at the time.

Drew Sutton: Big League Player, no matter what the Astros say

Profile on former PTBNL Drew Sutton, who went to the Reds in the Keppinger trade at the end of March 2009.

"The Astros didn't see me as a big league player. The Reds saw I could, and they traded for me. Playing in the Majors is more of a reality than it was a couple of years ago."


Houston Press sets its sights on John Lopez

It's a pretty good article. Apparently John Lopez on his radio show said something to the effect of it being irresponsible if the Astros don't go after Roy Halladay.

The Toronto Blue Jays aren't going to want to trade Halladay for just anybody. They're looking to stock the team with young, inexpensive talent. They don't want Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada. They're going to want the likes of Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Bud Norris, Yorman Bazardo, and Jason Castro.

Absolutely true. Then...

He then went on to say that the Astros can't bring up Bud Norris and Yorman Bazardo -- the team's best pitching prospects -- from Round Rock during the middle of the pennant chase because the pressure might prove to be too much.


Your guide to tonight's Triple-A All-Star Game

It's a quick one: Bud Norris is your starter for the PCL team.

"I'm going to go out there and give a fastball like any other start. Let 'em rip early. I'm only going one or two innings. Should be quick and good ones. Going to let it all out."

Eddie's Farm: July 14

So Eddie's Farm goes 1-2 last night as Round Rock, Lancaster, and Greeneville were all off last night. Be sure to catch the Triple-A All-Star Game tonight at 10pm ET on ESPN.

Corpus got three runs in the top of the 9th, but it wasn't enough as they fell 7-5 to NW Arkansas. Jhon Florentino was 3x4 with a HR and a 2B, while Collin DeLome and Jimmy Van Ostrand each contributed two hits (two doubles, in DeLome's case) and an RBI. Andy Van Hekken threw 5.1IP, 8H/5ER (7 total), 3K:2BB. Charlie Weatherby III and C-Lo combined for 2.2IP of 0H/0ER baseball.

Delmarva scored four runs in the bottom of the 7th to defeat Lexington 7-3. Jay Austin was 3x5 with a double and 2RBI, while Andrew Simunic got two hits and the other RBI. Brad Dydalewicz threw 4IP, 4H/3ER, 4K:2BB for the loss, while Brian Wabick gave up 3ER in 2.2IP, with 4BB.

And Tri-City recorded the only win of the minor leaguers, with a 4-0 win over State College. Despite going 2x15 with RISP, the ValleyCats banged out 12 hits - 3 from Nick Stanley (including his third HR of the season), and two each from Eli Iorg, Rene Garcia, and Barry Butera. Dallas Keuchel extended his professional scoreless IP streak to 7IP, going 4IP with 4H/0ER, 5K:0BB. Not only has Keuchel not given up a run in his two outings of the season, he also has not walked a batter.

Lincecum, Pujols, Bell combine to screw the National League

So I guess that means the Astros will open the World Series on the road. The American League extended their unbeaten streak in All-Star games to 13 years with a 4-3 win last night over the National League.

Tejada was 0x2, including making the last out of the game, and Pence...wait. Pence didn't even get in the game? Pence didn't even get in the game! 26 National League All-Stars played, and Pence didn't - joining Freddy Sanchez as the only NL position players who weren't hurt not to see any game action. Screw you, Charlie Manuel. Guy's first All-Star Game, there were 11 ABs among outfielders, and you can't find one for Pence? Just to perpetuate the last paragraph of whining, it's worth pointing out that all five Phillies got ABs in the game.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Acta to Astros?

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune speculates that recently-unemployed Nationals manager Manny Acta could become a bench coach for the Astros. This would put an even deeper frown on Coop's face as the Succession Plan would be put into effect...

Attendance, 2008 to 2009

So we briefly touched on this a while back, but I day and all, we can revisit it a little more closely. This is the issue of attendance among MLB teams, specifically the Astros, from 2008 to 2009. And this is a good time to look at it, since the Astros of 2008 have played the same number of home games as the Astros of 2009.

Let's look at some of the basic stats...
Total attendance through 47 home games in 2008: 1,710,939 (8th in MLB)
Average attendance through 47 home games in 2008: 36,403 (10th in MLB)

Total attendance through 47 home games in 2009: 1,373,284 (11th in MLB)
Average attendance through 47 home games in 2009: 29,432 (13th in MLB)

Difference from 2008 to 2009: -327,655 (3rd biggest dropoff in MLB)
Difference in per-game average: -6,971 (also 3rd biggest dropoff in MLB)

That's a -19.8% difference from 2008 to 2009, something I'm sure Run-DMc (owner Drayton McLane to you newbies) has an eye on. But while your initial thought may be for the Astros to "put a better team on the field," an idea with which we would not argue, there are some other reasons for such a dropoff. Want to hear them? I thought you might...

First let's take into account games versus the Astros' chief "rivals," which we'll call the Cubs and Cardinals. By the All-Star Break 2008, the Astros had played 9 home games against the Cubs and Cardinals, which averaged 35,581 fans per game. To this point in the 2009 season, the Astros have played 8 home games against the Cubs, but none yet against the Cardinals. Those eight Cubs games averaged just under 32,099 fans. So, yes, down, but not drastically.

We should also look at the number of weekend home series. In 2008, the Astros enjoyed being at home during seven weekends in the first half; in two of those weekends the Astros played interleague series' against the Yankees and Red Sox. This can't be overlooked. The Astros had over 40,000 fans in eight games before the All-Star Break - six of those were during the Yankees and Red Sox' visit to Minute Maid. Average crowd of the Yankees/Red Sox series? Just under 42,856 fans per game.

The 2009 Astros hosted three interleague series: Texas (over a weekend), Kansas City (mid-week), and Detroit (weekend).

So for interleague home games in 2008, average attendance was: 40,722
For interleague home games in 2009, average attendance was: 33,744
Interestingly enough, the Silver Boot portion of the schedule did see a decline from 2008 to 2009, but only by 340 fans total. So there's a 62,000+ fan difference between the Yankees/Red Sox and Royals/Tigers in six games.

The 2009 Astros have also played seven weekend series at home, but instead of playing the Marlins, Rockies, Brewers, Phillies (Lidge's first series back to Houston), Cardinals, Yankees, and Red Sox, in 2008 the Astros have played the Reds, Brewers, Padres, Rangers, Pirates, Tigers, and Nationals. Not exactly a star-studded weekend lineup, and it showed in the average attendance:

Average weekend series attendance in 2008 (Fri-Sun): 38,995
Average weekend series attendance in 2009 (Fri-Sun): 30,776

Holiday weekends are a major source of ticketing revenue, as well. And in 2008, the Astros played a four-game Thursday-Sunday Memorial Day Weekend series against the Phillies at home (and were off on Memorial Day. No team should ever be off on Memorial Day). The Thursday game was rough going, with 29,263 paying fans, but Friday-Sunday games averaged 42,297 fans.

Not so in 2009. The Astros were in Pittsburgh over Memorial Day Weekend, and San Francisco over July 4 weekend. That means the two big summer holidays (before the All-Star Break), the lights were off and the roof was closed at Minute Maid Park.
Even the 2008 mid-week series had impressive opponents, and as a result, impressive attendance. 2008's schedule featured mid-week series against the Cardinals, Cubs, Rangers, and Dodgers - meaning mid-week games were getting weekend revenues.

There is hope for the 2009 revenue, though. Coming back from the All-Star Break, the first two home series are against the Cards midweek, and the Mets over the weekend. There are home weekend series remaining against the Brewers, Diamondbacks, Labor Day Weekend with the Phillies, Pirates, and Reds. High-profile mid-week series remain against the Cardinals (twice), Giants, and Braves.

So yes, the Astros' attendance differential is down, and down a lot. While we can chalk up a recession to account for part of it, it's not the whole story. Playing the Cardinals at home before the All-Star Break sure would help.

This led to this which led to this

This blog post by JJO led to...

...this blog post by Jeff Pearlman, which led to...

...this post in the Houston Press and...

...this post on Deadspin.

So Jose has set off a fecal storm in which an intern has probably been fired, every married National is wishing he was in St. Louis, and the Chronicle has had some undue attention. None of this is necessarily a bad thing. It's also why Astros County does not employ interns.

A note on Astros' blowouts

You have probably noticed the Astros have had the piss kicked out of them on occasion this season. Such as the Astros giving up 10+ runs eight times this season (1-7 in those games), and losing by these scores...

4/11: 11-2 loss @ StL
5/12: 12-1 loss @ COL
7/3: 13-0 loss @ SF
7/4: 9-0 loss @ SF
7/11: 13-2 loss vs. WAS

That's five losses by 9+ runs. Horrible. How does that stack up against the other 29 teams (with the worst loss in parentheses)...?

Also with 5 losses by 9+ runs:
Texas (15-2 @ Detroit)

4 losses by 9+ runs:
Los Angeles Angels...of Anaheim (17-3 vs. Chicago White Sox)
Oakland (14-1, twice)
Atlanta (12-0 vs. Arizona)
Minnesota (12-2 vs. Toronto)

3 losses by 9+ runs:
Cincinnati (22-1 @ Philadelphia)
Chicago White Sox (20-1 vs. Minnesota)
Baltimore (19-6 @ Texas)
Florida (15-2 vs. Tampa Bay)
Kansas City (13-1 vs. Detroit)
St. Louis (11-0 @ New York Mets)
Cleveland (13-3 @ Boston)

2 losses by 9+ runs:
New York Yankees (22-4 vs. Cleveland)
New York Mets (15-0 @ New York Yankees)
Boston (13-0 @ Tampa Bay)
Colorado (14-2 @ Los Angeles Dodgers)
Detroit (11-0 vs. New York Yankees)
Chicago Cubs (10-0 @ Arizona)
San Diego (12-2 @ Texas)
Tampa Bay (12-2 vs. Chicago White Sox)
Pittsburgh (11-1 vs. Atlanta)
San Francisco (11-1, twice)
Arizona (12-3 vs Los Angeles Angels)

1 loss by 9+ runs:
Seattle (11-0 @ Minnesota)
Philadelphia (11-1 @ Atlanta)
Washington (11-1 @ Baltimore)
Toronto (10-0 vs. Philadelphia)

0 losses by 9+ runs:
Milwaukee (11-3 @ Minnesota)
Los Angeles Dodgers (7-0 @ Chicago Cubs)

Well, at least Astros fans can take comfort in the fact that the only other team to get beat by 9+ runs five times was the Rangers. Ha ha!

Hey. So what's happening with that Gulf Coast League team?

Glad you asked. The GCL Astros are currently 4-13, 8GB the GCL Mets. 2nd round draft pick Tanner Bushue is 0-0 in three starts. His line?
12.1IP, 10H/3ER, 9K:2BB - 2.15 ERA/0.97 WHIP

50th Round draft pick Spencer Hylander:
14.2IP, 8H/4ER, 11K:5BB, 2.45 ERA/0.89 WHIP

4th round draft pick Telvin Nash:
8x37, 3XBH-4RBI, .216/.268/.324, 11K:3BB


July 13
C Jonathan Fixler sent back to Lancaster after Towles gets back into the lineup at Round Rock.

E-mail time!

Got an e-mail in the ol'inbox this morning. Got a question? E-mail

From Tom in Shreveport, Louisiana:
Did you watch the Home Run Derby?

So I'll respond for everybody, so we all can learn:
No. I watched about five minutes of it, and then changed the channel, and allow me to tell you why. The Home Run Derby is baseball's most hypocritical event. There's about 10% of me that wants to think everybody who participated is clean, but over an All-Star Break, hitting baseballs a long way is the only "skill" being tested. This is bullcrap. There are so many ways baseball could make the All-Star Break more interesting, other than forcing us to listen to Chris Berman for four hours.

I know I'm not the first one to propose changes to the All-Star Break, but who wouldn't want to see a race between Carl Crawford and Emilio Bonifacio? Who wouldn't want to see Dustin Pedroia, David Wright, Derek Jeter, and Hanley Ramirez throw baseballs at targets from 100 feet to see who has the most accurate arm? Who wouldn't want to see Hunter Pence, Torii Hunter (hurt, I know), Carlos Beltran, and Ichiro throw a baseball from the outfield into a garbage can a la Tom Emanski's drill videos?

If MLB wants to get away from the idea that home runs are What It's All About, then they need to add some other skill than hitting home runs.

Eddie's Farm: July 13

Eddie's Farm goes 3-1 as Round Rock is off until Thursday, and Tri-City was off last night. But that one'll just have to keep reading.

A five-run 4th inning led Corpus Christi to an 8-2 win over NW Arkansas last night. Collin DeLome was 3x4 with 2R, Drew Meyer, Mark Ori, and Mitch Einertson all were 2x4 with Meyer and Ori each recording 2RBI on the night. Drew Locke was 1x5 with his 79th RBI of the season. Sergio Perez improved his record to 7-8 with 6.2IP, 7H/2ER, 3K:5BB and Danny Meszaros threw the final 2.1IP with 1H/0ER, 3K:1BB.

Whoa nelly. The JetHawks put up 3R in the 1st, 6R in the 4th, and 4R in the 8th to defeat Inland Empire 15-1 last night. Koby Clemens is your Man of the Match with 4x5, 3R, a double, a triple, and two homers for seven RBI. That's right, dude was a single short of the cycle, and got 13 total bases. Clemens is now hitting .312. Jack Shuck was also 4x5 with 2R and an RBI, and Matt Weston was 3x5 with 3RBI. Casey Hudspeth threw the complete game, 9IP, 7H/1ER, 5K:1BB.

And on the flip side of that, Delmarva threw up a 9-run 7th inning, and then held Lexington to three hits in a 19-0 tail-whoopin. The three hits belonged to Jay Austin, Albert Cartwright, and Jorge De Leon. Delmarva was 14x22 with RISP, and still managed to leave 10 on base. Kyle Greenwalt went 4.1IP, 10H/5ER, 5K:2BB; Arcenio Leon: 1.2IP, 6H/4ER; Michael Hacker: 0.1IP, 4H/2ER; Kirkland Rivers: 0.2IP, 3H/4ER; Kyle Godfrey: 1IP, 1H/0ER. The Legends made three errors (meaning there were only 15 earned runs) - 2 from Jorge De Leon and 1 from Ebert Rosario, his 25th error of the year (sheesh).

Greeneville scored a run in the bottom of the 8th to seal a 3-2 win over Pulaski last night. Jiovanni Mier was 1x2 with 2BB, Jonathan Meyer 0x2 with 2BB, while Jose Altuve, Miguel Arrendell, and Frank Almonte got the RBIs. Luis Cruz went 6IP with 4H/2ER, 8K:1BB, while Juri Perez got the win, and Nathan Pettus recorded his 5th save of the year.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tejada has a jet, sings Toby Keith

Normally information like this would put one in "douchebag" status. But not so for Miguel Tejada, about whom these things are absolutely true.

Tejada flew Pence to St. Louis on his private jet, wore a huge diamond-encrusted watch, and a vest! Then this...

But it's Tejada's lighter moments that have rubbed off on Pence. It's the side of Tejada not captured in the stat books. Be it singing the chorus of Toby Keith's "I'm Not As Good As I Once Was" after making an out or pretending to shine a spotlight on a pitcher who strikes him out, Tejada has shown his younger teammates the importance of keeping things loose, even when the going gets tough.


Vote for your LVP!

Astros County's Mid-Season Awards

Deputy Jason and I traded e-mails and came up with our Astro-centric Mid-Season Awards:

Deputy Jason: Michael Bourn
Constable: Michael Bourn

Cy Young
Deputy Jason: Magic Wandy
Constable: Wandy

Deputy Jason: LaHawk
Constable: Arias

Deputy Jason: Arias
Constable: Maysonet

Gold Glove
Deputy Jason: Bourn
Constable: Bourn

Deputy Jason's Mid-Season Grades

Winning half your games is not much of an accomplishment for most teams. The Astros, however, are not most teams. For those of you who come here to get your Astros daily fix, you are probably aware that I am an optimist when it comes to the AstBros, and even I would not have predicted that we’d be 3 ½ out at this point. So how’d we get here? Let’s take a quick look at each player individually and then we’ll give out some grades and awards.

Starting Bros

Magic Wandy
Wandy brought the funk the last time out getting 11K’s and shutting out some team from Pittsburg (Yes, they have a MLB team). Magic has been a little inconsistent but has been good enough to lead the staff in most pitching stats (8 wins, 2.98 ERA, 106 K’s) He has really turned the corner and his maturity as a dude overall has made his pitching that much better. Now, if he can just get that cold sore thing under control. Yikes!
Grade: A

Roy O
Roy started off slow (trend alert!) with only one win in his first 11 starts. He seemed to have really lost some of his command, aggressiveness and effectiveness and had people questioning his ability to be an ace-type. Whoops. Roy O then seemed to find something in July. He talked recently of finding a better release point and pushing off to the plate further. Whatever it was, he returned to his dominant self throwing two CG and winning 4 of his next 7. His quest to become more efficient made him kinda wimpy, so getting back to striking peeps out helped drop his ERA down under 3.00 for the June/July split and 3.85 for the season.
Grade: B+

Wow! Innings eater has not been used to describe Mike Hamton since ‘Nam. But, screw it! 15 starts and only 8 long balls given up.
Grade: C+

Moehler looked to be the odd man out when everyone was healthy, but has stayed the course after a horrendous April and provided the AstBros with some high quality starts. I’m predicting 2nd half success based on his last 6 starts and his mastery of the mock turtleneck (4-1, 2.78).
Grade: C-

Russ Ortiz
Durability was a concern. Dude has been rubber armed so far, taking the bump from the rotation and the pen (10 starts, 10 reliefs). He walks more oppo-Bros than anyone else but manages not to get beat up too badly in the process. Just a stop gap until someone better comes along, as he is evidently not Coop’s style. Aw, did he hurt your feelings?
Grade: C-

Felipe Paulino
He is horribly inconsistent and might be the worst reliever ever. He can throw a ball through a brick wall but not through bats evidently. Can’t wait for him to take a spot in the rotation and run with it.
Grade: D-

Relief Bros

1.17 WHIP, 1.57 ERA, 8.48 K/9, 0 Losses. This has been an amazing year for Arias. Yet, I still have no idea what his first name is, or where he came from.
Grade: A+

38 App., 10/13 saves, 2.38 ERA, 29 K. LaHawk is the man in the pen.
Grade: A-

Chris leads the squad in games (41), and IP (47.2). He has become a reliable late inning guy and shown to be pretty durable. Doesn’t miss many bats, however. (5.4 K/9)
Grade: B

Jose V
Has been good when healthy, and it’s an encouraging sign that other teams in contention want this guy on their team. 11.14 K/9 is great, 4.33 BB/9 is not. Hoser has only saved 8 of 12.
Grade: B-

You Rang. Jeff could be a Pro Wrestler if the pitching thing doesn’t work out. Fortunately for him, it will because he has been good more often than not. I’d be scared to say anything different anyways.
Grade: C

Timmy is consistent. Consistently average. Timmy always K’s one oppo-Bro and lets one get on. And every third time out, one dude scores. (Grade: C+)
WW – Double Dub has been a K machine (11.4 K/9). Unfortunately, he also gives up an OPS of .828. Not good. Wright has gotta get some ground balls to become a major leaguer permanently.
Grade: D+

Geary and Backe
It was nice to see you, so nice.
Grade: F

OldBro got hurt covering first in between episodes of Matlock and Golden Girls.
Grade: I

Lineup Bros

Mikey is quickly becoming a favorite among fans with his spectacular fielding, arm and speed on the basepaths. His hitting has improved to the point where he has solidified his spot in the lineup for the foreseeable future. Going the other way and watching more pitches has made him a dangerous man.
Grade: B+

Miggy has been better than expected as a hitter, as bad as a fielder and fantastic as a leader. He’s hitting .329, 7 HR, 49 RBI and .830 OPS. If it’s hit at him, he can still fire it over, but if its not then he has the worst chance of making the play of all NL SS’s. Miggy still made his 6th All Star team. Take that, Congress.
Grade: B

Hunter Pence
Pence made his 1st All-Star team this year, and it was well deserved. He still busts his ass running down the line, running after foul balls and throwing people out all over the place and fans love him for it. Has become a little more selective at the plate and it has paid off. Hunter batted over .300 most of the year, although he has cooled off recently.
Grade: B

Heavy Lee
Dude needs to mix in a salad. Carlos has continued to defy all logic by being durable, productive and entertaining. Hitting .308, 13 HR, 49 RBI and an .838
OPS will keep you in the lineup. He’d be a much better player in my opinion if he lost 15-20 pounds but as long as he can stave off heart disease, he’ll continue to mash.
Grade: B-

As Lance goes, so go the AstBros. He’s hitting .326 since June 1st with 8 HR and 26 RBI and the team has been 22-16 during that span. He leads the team in all the power categories and will be back around .300 by the end of August. His slow start was one of the biggest reasons for us having to get out of a big ass hole again. (Grade: B+)
Pudge – Has grounded into 11 DP, has an OBP of .278 and an OPS of .670. Somehow, these are all improvements for an AstBro catcher. Way to go! This was the best one year contract Wade made this season.
Grade: C-

The blond bomber has come on as a clutch hitter recently with three GW hits. Good thing, because he has been a freaking Judy otherwise with only two HR in 199 AB’s. Blum is keeping his spot warm for a more able player when one comes along. Still a good 3B defensively, hamstring issues have made him a step too slow. On his way back to bench duty soon, where he would be satisfactory.
Grade: D

Sneaky bastard, I had to double take when looking at his numbers. He has gotten his BA up to .252. But with OPS of .651 he is the still the worst starter we have at the plate. Should bat 7th or 8th from now on and will be replaced after the season, hopefully by Maysonet. Anal Fissures must be worse than previously reported.
Grade: D-

Bench Bros

5th on the team in OPS (.769) 1st in weird facial hair.
Grade: C+

Edwin is a single ray of sunshine from Round Rock. He would be playing 2nd everyday if not for Azzmat’s bloated paycheck, and apparent unwillingness to blow Coop.
Grade: C

BA .246, OPS .578 and 4 XBH in 79 PA. Not good enough to be a back up by himself. Now the 3rd catcher.
Grade: F+

BA .165, OPS .561 and 6 XBH in 95 PA.
Grade: F

BA .176, OPS .580 and 8 XBH in 82 PA. Gawd awful outfielder.
Grade: F

Kata and Smitty
Just painfully bad, worse than watching the WNBA.
Grade F-

Feel free to argue any of my grades, but know this, I am right and you are not. Ring it up.

-Deputy Jason

A glance at the performance bonus portion of the contract

Given the prevalence of the Astros to hand out performance bonuses, it's time to see how those are shaping up...

First, congrats to Tejada, who earned an extra $50,000 for his selection to the All-Star team. I like Breitling watches, Miggs.

Pudge: Gets $200K each for 350, 375, 400, 425, 450 plate appearances; $150,000 each for 90 games, 100 games; $200,000 for 100 games played
Pudge has played in 71 games and has 260 PAs. So he has some money coming to him in the second half.

Blum: $50,000 each for 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, 500 plate appearances
Blum currently has 226 plate appearances, so he should get an extra $100K at least.

Jason Michaels: $25,000 for 200 PAs; $50,000 for 225 PAs; $75,000 for 250 PAs; $125,000 each for 275, 300, 325, 375 PAs; $100,000 for 400 PAs
Michaels has 82 PAs, so it's looking likely that he'll stand pat with his $750K contract, unless somebody gets hurt.

A look at pre-ASG splits: 08 to 09

It's the unofficial midway point of the season, and I got a little curious about the 09 Astros Pre-ASG vs. 08 Astros Pre-ASG. Let's take a look:

First, the overall team batting statistics:
2008: 44-51 (last place, 13GB), .260/.321/.409, 96HR, 414 RS/458 RA (-44)
2009: 44-44 (3rd place, 3.5GB), .267/.330/.405, 71HR, 368 RS/398 RA (-30)

Overall team pitching statistics:
2008: 4.49 ERA, 26 saves/37 opp, 0 CGs, 611K:314BB
2009: 4.21 ERA, 21 saves/38 opp, 4 CGs, 626K:293BB

2008: .288/.330/.410, 22XBH-29RBI, 48K:16BB
2009: .245/.278/.392, 20XBH-30RBI, 54K:11BB
An already-bad K:BB ratio has deteriorated even more, and all of the offensive stats have receded, as well.

2008: .347/.443/.653, 55XBH-73RBI, 61K:56BB
2009: .271/.403/.526, 37XBH-55RBI, 59K:66BB
It's hard to compare Pre-ASG Lance to this year, as Lance absolutely tore it up in May 08 - going so far as to even get noticed by ESPN, something anyone west of Philadelphia and east of Los Angeles has a hard time doing. But it would be nice to imagine where the Astros would be today if 08 Lance had been batting in April and May instead of 09 Lance.

2008: .283/.344/.365, 18XBH-19RBI, 40K:24BB
2009: .252/.313/.338, 12XBH-21RBI, 43K:19BB
This is just brutal. A three-run homer in Sunday's game made the difference in the only positive statistical split.

2008: .275/.316/.423, 33XBH-44RBI, 45K:19BB
2009: .329/.357/.473, 37XBH-49RBI, 26K:10BB
Miggs is basically the reason that the Astros are within striking distance, however fleeting that may be. Cut his Ks by 19, and has improved offensively in just about every way.

2008: .214/.239/.350, 10XBH-20RBI, 24K:8BB
2009: .281/.350/.362, 11XBH-27RBI, 27K:19BB
Mine eyes deceive me! Walks are up, OBP is up by over 100 points.

2008: .302/.351/.547, 46XBH-76RBI, 38K:29BB
2009: .308/.353/.485, 41XBH-49RBI, 28K:24BB
RBIs are so hard to quantify, because obviously RBIs have to do with guys getting on base in front of you. And Lance wasn't really doing that much in the first couple of months of the season. The most glaring stat otherwise is the slugging percentage. So far, Lee has 13 homers, down from 21 homers at the All-Star break in 2008 (in fewer games, admittedly, but not eight homers worth of games).

2008: .218/.273/.291, 13XBH-15RBI, 76K:25BB
2009: .286/.360/.407, 26XBH-25RBI, 72K:38BB
Bourn is the Astros' MVP of 2009 so far (note: foreshadowing). His progress from 2008 to 2009 has been astounding, and while I think most of us thought he would get better - he couldn't get any worse - I doubt anyone could imagine a world in which Bourn's OBP is behind only Lance and Pence.

2008: .263/.304/.429, 33XBH-46RBI, 75K:21BB
2009: .298/.366/.473, 30XBH-37RBI, 50K:36BB
That K:BB ratio is much better this year, and as a result, he's not as free-swinging as previously feared.

2008: 7-8, 4.56 ERA/1.38 WHIP, .285/.329/.465 against, 94K:28BB, 18HR
2009: 5-4, 3.85 ERA/1.23 WHIP, .256/.310/.421 against, 95K:32BB, 14HR
Roy has settled down since April, and has reasserted himself as The Man.

2008: 4-4, 3.48 ERA/1.28 WHIP, .249/.308/.410 against, 65K:23BB, 8HR
2009: 8-6, 2.96 ERA/1.28 WHIP, .250/.317/.389 against, 106K:40BB, 12HR
While the campaign to anoint Wandy "This Year's Cliff Lee" seemed a little premature, Wandy's stuff is much better as the strikeout numbers would indicate. He has fully established himself as the #2.

2008: 5-4, 4.28 ERA/1.39 WHIP, .272/.327/.450 against, 44K:24BB, 11HR
2009: 6-5, 5.08 ERA/1.48 WHIP, .292/.348/.511 against, 51K:25BB, 14HR
Moehler might be the most frustrating pitcher on staff. He looks like he's one pitch away from imploding in every game, and he's been the only pitcher to throw a quality start and get a Goat of the Game in the same outing. Batters are teeing off on him, and his six wins are deceiving. Such is life when the key to success is command of the corners.

And the last pitcher we'll look at today...Valverde
2008: 4-2, 24 saves. 3.80 ERA/1.31 WHIP, .243/.310/.452 against, 52K:16BB, 8HR
2009: 0-2, 8 saves, 3.43 ERA/1.10 WHIP, .215/.267/.418 against, 26K:6BB, 4 HR
Hasn't pitched as much so far, obviously, because of the leg injury, but Valverde is a guy who succeeds and fails in equal spectacularity (new word). Nine of the 17 hits he's given up have been for extra-bases.

Paulino not happy

Nice little Notes column from the Chronicle this morning detailing that:

-Paulino ain't happy about being sent down.
Coop says it's all about the command:
“That's what we told him and that's what I would tell you, command and mainly using his off-speed stuff.”

Paulino ain't buying it:
“I'm going to go down and do my work, as usual. They told me I have to work more, but I don't understand. I have all my pitches right. They have their decisions, and they have their side of it. I just want to do what's best for the team. Truly, if there's an opportunity to come back, I want to come back when they want. I feel good and healthy. But they think I'm missing some pitches, so I have to go down and do my job.”

-Also, Brocail is feeling better, and threw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Sunday:
“I feel good. I can't throw a strike, but I feel good. The health is phenomenal. If (only) I could throw over the plate. I'd really need a lot of guys to swing (at everything) now to get strikes. I just need mound time, you can throw all the bullpens (sessions) you want. There's guys who look phenomenal in bullpens that can't throw strikes. I don't look like either guy.”

-Chris Sampson has clearly been spending time on WebMD:
Here's the whole quote: “It's not just one area. There's a lot of buildup. It's the whole right side of my body,” Sampson said before proceeding to name most of the muscles at or near the right shoulder.

-Banged, Nicked, Dinged. Coop is thankful the Astros don't have more All-Stars:
“A lot of guys are banged and nicked up a little bit,” Cecil Cooper said. “I got a pretty long list of nicks and nagging stuff. We might even be a little short today. We're nicked and nagged and dinged up. This time of year everybody is dinged up.”

Minor League Transactions

July 10
-OF Eli Iorg assigned to Tri-City from Round Rock (and that's one heck of a jump down...)
-P Ashton Mowdy called up to Lancaster from Lexington
-P Jeff Icenogle released by Lancaster

Icenogle was 0-4 with a 6.79 ERA and 1.87 WHIP in 19 games (8 starts) for Lancater this season.

July 11
-IF Matt Kata optioned to Round Rock from Houston, clearing room for Chris Coste

July 12
-First promotion of the 2009 draft class! J.D. Martinez called up to Tri-City from Greeneville
-Tri-City released DH Danny Meier
-Wilton Infante promoted to Greeneville from the GCL Astros

Martinez had gone 31x77 (.403/.446/.740) in 19 games for the Gastros this season.

July 13
-Felipe Paulino optioned to Round Rock

Three Astros on Heyman's "To Trade" List

Heyman's column last night breaks down the Most Likely To Get Traded section of the MLB 2009 Yearbook, and three Astros are on it. Who(m)?

19. Pudge:
Houston never likes to give up. But if they do, they'd be more apt to trade the alltime games caught leader then, say, Roy Oswalt or Lance Berkman.

28. Valverde:
Talented and expensive ($9.5 mil), he seems like a candidate for trade. Except the 'Stros don't like to sell.

30. Miggs:
As has been stated many times, Houston likes to try to hang in there. So star pitcher Roy Oswalt almost surely stays, too.


There would be a clear void in the 9th inning spot if Valverde got traded. When Sampson blows up (which is rare), he blows up spectacularly. LaHawk could step in, but would be a clear stopgap until someone was ready for a closer role down in Round Rock. Pudge...who knows? Why in the hell did the Astros claim Coste off waivers if Pudge or Quintero weren't going anywhere? Of course there is much-heralded C1 Jason Castro down in Corpus, and if he keeps raking, he could be C1 in 2010. And then there's Miggs. Unless Saccomanno or Maysonet are ready to step up (and Maysonet played most of his time at 2B in his cup of coffee), Miggs probably won't be going anywhere...until the off-season.

Underlying all of this is what Heyman decided to include three times in three players: The Astros don't sell.

Eddie's Farm: July 12

Eddie's Farm goes 1-5 yesterday in a brutal string of games. Lexington was off, Tri-City played a double header..

Round Rock
Round Rock got dropped 3-1 in a loss at Nashville - and I'm really happy (dripping sarcasm, in case any Cubs fans are reading) I missed all of these games this time around. All of the scoring took place in the 2nd inning, and the Express managed just five hits, only one for extra bases - a triple of Mark Saccomanno. Yorman Bazardo pitched 6IP, 6H/3ER, 1K:1BB.

Outhit Northwest Arkansas 11-5, but lost 5-1. Sutil, DeLome, and Einertson had multi-hit games, but again, only one extra base hit - a 9th inning RBI triple from Brian Esposito. New Hooks signee Kenny Baugh threw 6IP, 4H/4ER, 1K:1BB, and Tyler Lumsden lowered his ERA to 7.94 with 2IP, 1H/0ER, 3K.

Inland Empire jumped on the JetHawks with six runs in the first two innings, and then held on to win 8-5. Multi-hit games from Shuck (2x2 with three walks), Suarez, Gaston, Clemens, and David Flores gave the JetHawks a chance, but the pitching just wasn't there. Flores and Matt Weston connected for homers and the 1-2-3 of Shuck-Suarez-Gaston went a combined 6x11 with 1K:4BB and three extra-base hits. Chris Hicks got the loss with 2IP, 7H/4ER (6 total), 2K:2BB. Shane Wolf picked up the next five innings and held the 66ers to 5IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:0BB.
Lexington call-up Ashton Mowdy closed out the game with 2IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:0BB and 2WP.

In Game 1, the ValleyCats scraped only four hits in a 3-0 loss to Oneonta. Brian Kemp, of course, got one of those hits, and is now hitting .347 - the only starter in yesterday's game with an average over .250. Colton Pitkin threw a 7IP complete game, giving up 9H/3ER, 2K:0BB.

In Game 2, same score, but this time six hits for the ValleyCats in the 3-0 loss. Kemp got another hit, as did Wikoff, Russell Dixon (hitting .306), Erik Castro, J.D. Martinez, and Pedro Gonzalez. Robby Donovan took the loss with 3IP, 3H/1ER (3R total). J.B. MacDonald got 4Ks in 3IP.

And we finally have a winner for Eddie's Farm as Greeneville had a 12-2 lead at the end of three innings - including a 7-run 3rd inning - to win 13-7 against Pulaski. Jose Altuve was 3x5, Miguel Arrendell was 2x4 with a 3-run homer and Jiovanni Mier, Nathan Metroka, and Aaron Bray all had 2RBI for the Gastros. Mier is now hitting .317. B.J. Hyatt continues to have a rough go of it, with 6H/6ER in 3.2IP, to go along with 3BB and 2HR - his ERA is now 10.45. Angel Gonzalez got the win with 1ER in 4IP to lower his ERA to 14.73.

On 44-44

In a blog post from JJO today, he sees 44-44 as 8 oz of orange juice in a 16 oz glass...

But give credit when it's due. Considering all the madness that went on before the break, the Astros deserve kudos for being .500. Heck, many thought they weren't a .500 team even if they were all healthy.

Coop, on .500:
"We'd love to be way above, but yeah I'll take 44-44," Cecil Cooper said. "Considering all the stuff we've had to deal with and the injuries and yeah, I'm very happy. But it doesn't get any easier. The second half is going to be very, very difficult, particularly the first month.

"So we're going to have to come out with fire, come out playing consistent baseball. We talked about it a little bit earlier today about details. Taking care of details and being more focused on the little things. That's what we have to do in order to be successful."

Highlight on Jason Castro

Richard Justice writes a nice little profile on Astros future C1 Jason Castro, who killed it in the Futures Game yesterday. Some highlights:

-He's batting .293 in 22 games at Corpus Christi after hitting .309 in 56 games at Class A Lancaster.

-Castro has thrown out 49% of baserunners silly enough to try to steal on him.

-Ozzie Smith on Castro:
“Vince (Coleman) would have a hard time stealing on him.”

-He's hitting .381 with RISP in Corpus

-Bobby Heck:
“It's his makeup, preparation and intelligence. He was involved in game plans at Stanford. A lot of times amateur catchers don't call their own games. The more we looked at him, the more our guys talked, there was a common thread. He's a good teammate. He gives the same effort every game.”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Astros rep 713/281/832 at the Futures Game

Jason Castro and Chia-Jen Lo repped Houston (eat it, Baseball America!) in the Futures Game in St. Louis today.

The World got a comeback win, with C-Lo picking up the win, but it was Jason Castro who was in line to get the MVP, until The World scored a bunch of runs, with a 3-run homer.

Paulino down, Wright up?

The Astros sent Felipe Paulino to Round Rock following Sunday's game, and will likely call up Wesley Wright to replace him in the bullpen on Thursday at Los Angeles.

Recap for G88 - Nationals @ Astros

If I was a Nationals fan, I'd be pissed. And that's the best way to describe G88, and the final game before the All-Star Break, a 5-0 win to finish the "first half" of the season 44-44.

Moehler cruised along for four innings, struggled in the final two+, and then the Astros got a power explosion (similar to a Romance Explosion) from an unlikely source.

Let's start with the pitching:
Moehler: 6.1IP, 7H/0ER, 2K:2BB, 15/27 first-pitch strikes, 26/64 non-contact strikes (20 called:6 swinging)
Arias: 1.1IP, 3H/0ER, 1K:1BB, 4/8 FPS, 6/18 NCS (4c:2s)
Valverde: 1.1IP, 1H/0ER, 1K, 1/5 FPS, 6/14 NCS (5c:1s)

Moehler succeeded again, now 6-5 with a 5.08 ERA, because of the 11:6 groundball to flyball ratio. The pitch count got away from Moehler in the later innings of his outing. Let's take a look:
1st inning: 12
2nd inning: 14
3rd inning: 13
4th inning: 6
5th inning: 21
6th inning: 31
7th inning: 6

But let's face it, the Nationals lost this game more than the Astros won it. The Nationals' LOBs were unreal, leaving 13 on base, and going 1x11 with RISP, and leaving the bases loaded in the 6th and 7th innings in what was at that point a 1-0 Astros lead.

Offensively, there was nothing doing. Jordan Zimmermann had it working for a good six innings, getting outs and keeping his pitch count efficient. The Astros got the first run in the game when Bourn reached on a throwing error in the first, ultimately scoring on Tejada's single one batter later. Then that was it until the 7th inning. It was 11 batters before the Astros got another hit - in the 4th on Lee's double. And so it remained until the 7th. Zimmermann hit Blum to lead off the inning, and Pence singled to center. Pudge struck out swinging (on an odd AB where he wasn't able to pull a bunt attempt back in time to get on base...because the ball hit him.) No matter, Matsui hit a ball 360+ feet to right-center and put the game out of reach. Berkman did score on a Tyler Clippard balk in the bottom of the 8th to put the game at its final score.

Man of the Match: I want to give it to Moehler pretty bad, but this one's going to Kaz Matsui, who came up huge with the three-run jack.

Goat of the Game: Pudge. 0x4 with 3Ks, including an AB where he got hit - and didn't get on base, because he couldn't pull the bat back.