Saturday, August 1, 2009

Got to be kidding me

So I'm a little busy right now, so the recap is forthcoming. But it should be known that Wandy went down with a hamstring injury, the Astros lost again, and Michael Bourn was ejected.

Wade explains why Paulino and not Bazardo

http://brianmctaggart.mlblogs.com/

McTaggart talked to Ed Wade about why they're bringing up Paulino and not Bazardo for the Tuesday spot start.

And it's because Bazardo is out of options. In order for Bazardo to go back to Round Rock, he would have to clear waivers - which ain't happening. That also means he has to make the team out of Spring Training in 2010, or risk Pulling A Nieve and getting claimed by the Mets.

Don't expect Bazardo this week

And Brian McTaggart is tweeting a quote from Ed Wade that Paulino will start Tuesday if Oswalt is unavailable.

Roy throws 50 pitches

Alyson Footer is tweeting that Roy Oswalt threw 50 pitches off flat ground and "feels a little better." But the Astros are holding off on a decision for the time being.

Matchup for G104 - Astros @ Cardinals

Wandy Rodriguez
So far this July, Wandy Rodriguez is chilling with a 4-0 record, 0.75 ERA / 0.94 WHIP, 34K:7BB. He has given up more than one earned run in only one of his last seven starts.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/16 @LAD65/06:27/9108/68
7/21 vStL74/15:06/14104/71
7/27 @CHC76/17:211/7101/67


vs. StL (2009): 1-1, 2.77 ERA/0.92 ERA, 13IP, 9H/4ER, 9K:3BB
vs. StL (career): 3-7, 3.82 ERA/1.15 WHIP, 66IP, 60H/28ER, 44K:16BB
Road (2009): 5-4, 3.20 ERA/1.44 WHIP, 64.2IP, 66H/23ER, 62K:27BB
Road (career): 20-26, 5.14 ERA/1.50 WHIP, 327.2IP, 212H/187ER, 274K:129BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 97x386, .251/.317/.404, 97K:35BB
vs Lefties: 22x102, .216/.279/.314, 27K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (48): .354/.354/.479, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (281): .198/.234/.278, 86K:11BB
After First-Pitch Balls (212): .282/.398/.520, 38K:33BB

RISP: 26x107, .243/.314/.346, 28K:10BB
Runners on: 48x188, .255/.330/.340, 41K:19BB
2OwRISP: 13x53, .245/.344/.358, 15K:6BB

Chris Carpenter

Great. Freaking Chris Carpenter, who's been pitching like 2005-2006 Carpenter (because he was a hurt 2007-2008 Carpenter before).

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/17 vARI87/07:112/9103/66
7/22 @HOU88/25:215/11114/71
7/27 vLAD79/12:115/999/61


vs. HOU (career): 5-3, 2.87 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 91IP, 76H/29ER, 65K:20BB
@ Beck's Stadium II: 13-6, 1.94 ERA/0.99 WHIP, 176IP, 143H/38ER, 124K:31BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 44x197, .223/.260/.335, 41K:8BB
vs Lefties: 40x185, .216/.266/.292, 37K:10BB

When swinging at the first pitch (60): .246/.246/.281, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (195): .162/.205/.227, 61K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (156): .286/.342/.443, 17K:12BB

RISP: 18x73, .247/.260/.384, 17K:1BB
Runners on: 38x146, .260/.272/.384, 28K:2BB
2OwRISP: 8x37, .216/.256/.351, 9K:1BB

Lima Time comes to Edmonton

The Long Beach Armada is reporting Jose Lima has been traded to the Edmonton Capitals. Hm.

Fare Thee Well: July

Astros go 15-12, start July with a 4.5 game deficit, shave it to 1GB, and then slip back to 4.5GB.

July 1
Astros def San Diego 4-1, 4.5GB
Claim German Duran from Texas
Brendan Donnelly files for free agency

July 2
Def San Diego 7-2, 3.5GB
Sign international player Jonathan Mejia
Polin Trinidad promoted to Corpus
Sign pitcher Charlie Weatherby III

July 3
Lose to San Fran 13-0, 4.5GB
Sign international player Kilby Pena
Sign pitcher Kenny Baugh

July 4
Lose to San Fran 9-0, 4.5GB

July 5
Def San Fran 7-1, 4.5GB
Miguel Tejada and Hunter Pence selected to NL All-Star Team

July 6
Def Pittsburgh 4-1, 4GB

July 7
Lose to Pittsburgh 6-3, 5GB
Sign pitcher Garrett Bullock
Felipe Paulino demoted to bullpen, six-man rotation experiment ends

July 8
Def Pittsburgh 5-0, 4GB
Ronald Ramirez promoted to Lancaster

July 9
Def Washington 9-4, 4GB
Astros in 4th place for first time since April 8
Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles named to Baseball Prospectus' Top 25 midseason prospects
Alyson Footer wins Astros County's "Best Mainstream Astro Journalist" poll
David Duncan called up to Lexington from Tri-City

July 10
Lose completion of suspended game w Washington 11-10
Def Washington 6-5, 4GB
Russ Ortiz blasts Cecil Cooper
Scott Migl called up to Lexington from Tri-City
Eli Iorg sent to Tri-City for rehab assignment
Astros claim Chris Coste off waivers from Philadelphia

July 11
Lose to Washington 13-2, 4GB
Matt Kata assigned to Round Rock, clearing room for Coste

July 12
Def Washington 5-0, 3.5GB
Paulino sent down to Round Rock, Wright called up
J.D. Martinez called up to Tri-City
Jason Castro hits 3-run homer in Futures Game, C-Lo gets the win

July 13
Michael Bourn named Astros County's Unanimous Mid-Season MVP

July 14
AL wins All-Star Game, Pence doesn't get an AB
Phil Rogers of Chicago Tribune speculates Manny Acta could join Astros as bench coach

July 15
Astros County interviews SportsCenter anchor/Astros fan Robert Flores

July 16
Def Dodgers 3-0, 3GB
Berkman celebrates 10th anniversary of MLB debut, leaves in 8th inning with jacked up calf

July 17
Def Dodgers 8-1, 3GB
Comes to light that Towles broke his nose in a "tractor mishap"
Aaron Boone announces comeback bid

July 18
Lose to Dodgers 5-2, 3GB
Coste starts at 1B for Berkman

July 19
Lose to Dodgers 4-3, 4GB
Former 1st round pick Eli Iorg cut

July 20
Def St Louis 3-2, 3GB
Erstad to DL

July 21
Def St Louis 11-6, 2GB
Pudge changes number to 77
Jeremy Johnson released by Round Rock

July 22
Def St Louis 4-3, 1GB
Chris Carpenter and Roy Oswalt face each other. ESPN shows Texas-Boston.

July 23
Cardinals trade for Julio Lugo
Lance placed on DL

July 24
Def Mets 5-4, 1.5GB
Cardinals trade for Matt Holliday
Minor-leaguer Felix Ramirez tests positive for PEDs, suspended 50 games

July 25
Lose to Mets 10-3, 1.5GB
Sign pitcher Tom Fairchild

July 26
Lose to Mets 8-3, 2GB
Sampson comes off DL, Paronto sent down
LaHawk gets MRI on back

July 27
Lose to Cubs 5-1, 3GB
Adopt-a-Player poll announced
LaHawk tossed
LaHawk's MRI negative
LaHawk questions umpire Mark Everitt's integrity

July 28
Def Cubs 11-6, 2.5GB
Roy leaves in 2nd with back injury
Wesley Wright throws 53 pitches, sent to hospital
Bud Norris rumored to be promoted

July 29
Lose to Cubs 12-0, 3.5GB
Norris makes MLB debut

July 30
Lose to Cubs 12-3, 4GB
Russ Ortiz released

July 31
Lose to St Louis 4-3, 4.5GB
Aaron Bray wins 1st Annual Adopt-a-Player election
Oswalt rumored to DL, Norris gets Sunday start

July Employees of the Month

Employees of the Month for July. They'll get to park up front and 10% off in the store. And, should they come out to Tennessee, fajitas for two at Palmas Verdes.

Position player:
Carlos Lee: 34x104, 6 doubles, 5 homers, 18 RBI, .327/.366/.529

Pitcher:
Wandy Rodriguez: 5GS, 4-0, 0.75 ERA/0.94 WHIP, 34K:7BB, 36IP, 27H/3ER.

Riddle me this

If Norris starts in Oswalt's place to give Roy a couple of days to heal and take Ortiz' spot, but Roy goes on the DL, does that mean we see Bazardo and Norris in the rotation in the same week?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Poll. Over.

It was the most-visited poll in Astros County history. Drew Locke made a valiant late push, but ultimately, Aaron Bray and North Carolina made a late push of their own. I'm calling this one for Aaron Bray. 1st Annual Recipient of the Adopt-a-Player Poll.

Oswalt sure knows how to turn your stomach

Jose de Jesus Ortiz, whose knowledge surpasses all of ours combined, sez:
I will be shocked if Roy Oswalt doesn't land on the 15-day disabled list. He'll have to make some dramatic progress between now and Monday. Oswalt looked in tremendous pain when he walked. Even as he tried to rest his back by lying down, his facial expression made it clear he was in pain...

...And as I told him Friday, I've never seen you appear in so much pain. He laughed and then told me that former Astros shortstop Julio Lugo, a member of the Cardinals, had just seen him in the team hotel and told him they are both starting to get old.

In discomfort, Oswalt lied awkwardly on his back on the floor while bracing himself against his locker stall at Busch Stadium. For now, the Astros' ace righthander has been skipped from his scheduled start on Sunday, and the club will wait until Monday to decide if he must go on the disabled list or be penciled to start Tuesday.


Oswalt:
"It feels better than when it happened. If I had to pitch today I couldn't pitch today. ... I got a bad disk. It's herniated. It's sticking out and it's pressing on a nerve going around to my side. And my hip and leg tends to go to sleep some time."

That's freaking gross.

Coop:
"We're going to wait and see until about Monday and then make a decision. Right now it's not feeling that great, but we'll wait to see on Monday to see how he feels. If he feels OK he'll make it on Tuesday. And if not, then we got to make some decision after that."

-

And in the same massive blog post, Ed Wade on the quiet trade deadline:
"We had some conversation throughout the day with a couple of clubs, but I don't think we ever got close to anything. We probably talked to about a half a dozen clubs with various scenarios. And nothing seemed to fit for us, as I anticipated. I'm not surprised...

..."I'm not surprised or disappointed that we didn't get anything done. With the payroll where it is and our desire to protect our prospects in our system, I'm not surprised. I didn't make it not impossible, but probably improbable to get anything done of consequence. Having a chance to get Norris in the rotation gives us a different look than we had during the season. Our expectations with him are guardedly high. I view that as a step in the right direction. We got to get Lance back healthy and Hawk back healthy and continue to do the things that we were doing before we got to Chicago."

-
Berkman also hopes to start running on Monday:
"You know I think when I first went on the DL I wasn't sure that I needed to go on it, but now I'm glad I did because it's really something that has lingered even though I haven't been playing. I am anxious to get back out there, but only when I feel like I'm 100 percent or at least good enough to where I'm not going to have any setbacks. It's never really bothered me to hit. It's the running that's going to be the main hurdle, and I have not attempted it yet so I have nothing to report on that front."
-

Recap for G103 - Astros @ Cardinals

And that's how you let the other team steal a win. And how you blow four games over .500, to fall one under. The Astros had the lead three times, and then let it get away with two runs in the bottom of the 8th. Matt Holliday was 4x4 and is now hitting .586 since coming over from Oakland, and Alberto Arias gets the loss. Wanna know who got the win in a 4-3 loss? You won't like it. Trever Miller. Uh-huh.

Let's do the thing:
Moehler: 6.2IP, 7H/2ER, 5K:1BB, 17/27 first-pitch strikes, 23/66 non-contact strikes (13 called:10 swinging). And welcome to the sub-5.00 ERA, Brian Moehler.
Wright: 0.1IP, 1H, 1/1 FPS, 0 NCS (1 pitch, 1 hit)
Arias: 1IP, 2H/2ER, 1K:1BB, 3/6 FPS, 3/10 NCS (1c:2s)

That blows. Moehler went toe-to-toe with Mitchell Boggs (did I really just write that?), and was not rewarded.

Offensively - jeez. 1-4 (Bourn, Matsui, Tejada, Lee) were a combined 7x18 with a walk, but the Astros didn't get anything after that, except a pinch-hit RBI from Matt Kata. 5-8 were 2x12 with four walks - three of them coming from Hunter Pence in a rare display of untapped patience. They were 2x9 with RISP, with a hits from Tejada and Kata. Boggs struggled with the pitch count, throwing 99 pitches to get 15 outs, walking five and giving up six hits. But could the Astros do anything with it? Nooooo...

Wife-slamming Julio Lugo scored the first run for the Cards, and didn't score another one until DeRosa hit another home run in the bottom of the 7th. Poor, dehydrated Wesley Wright gave up a first-pitch hit to Skip Schumaker, but Jason LaRue was thrown out at home for an inning-ending outfield assist. And the Astros took the lead on Kata's run-scoring single, scoring Pudge. Arias came in and hit Pujols, gave up a double to Holliday - who advanced to third on a wild pitch. He intentionally walked Ludwick, and then Ankiel scored Holliday for the final score of 4-3.

The Astros had a chance in the top of the 9th with Matsui singling to right. Then Tejada popped out to third and Lee grounded into an FC, getting Matsui at second. Blum grounded out to end the game. Pence was on base three times, and couldn't get home as the Astros left 11 on base to end innings.

Man of the Match: Should be Moehler, but I'm giving it to Matt Kata. 1st pitch, being aggressive, got an RBI single for a go-ahead run.

Goat of the Game: Alberto Arias. Bad time to have a bad game.

Oswalt throws for 10 minutes

Brian McTaggart tweeting that Oswalt threw for about 10 minutes in front of Coop and the trainers. More as it comes in.

Oh, and nobody got traded. Next Stop, Arbitration Station.

Update at 4:30pm: Oswalt is hoping to be ready to take Ortiz' spot on Tuesday.

Update at 3:53pm: Bud Norris is telling Brian McTaggart that he will start on Sunday.

Look for Oswalt to possibly start in Ortiz' spot next Tuesday vs. San Francisco.

Locke, as promised, makes late run

Boston Paul told us to watch out for a late run by Drew Locke in the Adopt-a-Player poll. And he must be taken at his word. But Locke still sits 26 votes behind Aaron Bray with just over eight hours left until deadline.

Matchup for G103 - Astros @ Cardinals

Okay, I'm not putting the season squarely on the shoulders of the next three games, but let's be frank: this is a big one. You can bet the Cardinals remember that little sweep last week (even if the Astros can't.) The Astros sit 3.5 back of the Cardinals, and 4GB of Chicago (thanks be to you, Rotation) - it kind of hurts knowing that if one of Hampton and Ortiz could have put together a good start, the Astros would be sitting 2GB instead of 4GB. If the Cardinals take this series, they'll be at least 5.5GB of the Cards, and Chicago is at Florida this weekend.

The Astros/Cardinals have played to a 3-3 split this season, with both sweeps at the home park. Since getting swept by the Astros, the Cards are 5-3, having just taken 2 of 3 from the Dodgers. They're 7-7 since returning from the Break.

Brian Moehler
The Astros are 10-7 in Moehler's starts this season, and he had his first real bad game since June 9 his last time out against the Mets, so here's hoping he keeps it rolling. And I bet it's a little easier to stay focused, what with the last rough outing resulting in that guy getting fired.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/12 vWAS6.17/02:213/10103/64
7/20 vStL6.16/25:210/10100/64
7/26 vNYM4.28/52:211/1089/57


vs. StL (career): 5-0, 3.98 ERA/1.42 WHIP, 54.1IP, 61H/24ER, 33K:16BB
Road (career): 37-50, 5.02 ERA/1.52 WHIP, 646IP, 788H/360ER, 361K:193BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 61x169, .361/.400/.615, 24K:9BB
vs Lefties: 46x198, .232/.305/.399, 34K:20BB

When swinging at the first pitch (45): .442/.455/.767, 8XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (200): .283/.323/.497, 39K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (159): .255/.348/.416, 19K:19BB

RISP: 27x93, .290/.374/.462, 13K:13BB
Runners on: 47x165, .285/.353/.473, 25K:17BB
2OwRISP: 8x41, .195/.283/.317, 8K:5BB

Mitchell Boggs

And the Astros will face Mitchell Boggs, making his first start for the Big Club since May 14.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
4/30 @WAS66/49:27/7100/60
5/6 vPIT4.15/24:57/585/42
5/14 @PIT4.19/11:28/1083/49


2009 @StL: 1-0, 1.80 ERA/1.70WHIP, 10IP, 3H/2ER, 7K:6BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 12x42, .286/.375/.429, 8K:4BB
vs Lefties: 16x48, .333/.418/.438, 12K:7BB

When swinging at the first pitch (8): .375/.375/.375, 0XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (42): .243/.333/.405, 13K:3BB
After First-Pitch Balls (53): .356/.453/.467, 7K:8BB

RISP: 6x24, .250/.357/.333, 6K:4BB
Runners on: 17x45, .378/.451/.533, 9K:6BB
2OwRISP: 4x12, .333/.467/.417, 4K:3BB

One more transaction of note...

So we're all up to speed on Russ Ortiz' departure, yes? And Sammy Gervacio's calling up to fill that spot, yes?

Okay.

July 29
Erick Abreu called up to Round Rock from Corpus Christi

Abreu was 3-0 in 39 innings (23 games) with a 2.54 ERA / 1.13 WHIP for Corpus this season.

Astros possibility of trading pieces based on Free Agent status rankings

Focusing a little on the off-season in light of the Trade Deadline's...deadline this afternoon. Elias Sports Bureau ranks every player over a 2-year period and assigns a status based on their stats.

If a team offers free agent Player X arbitration, and he declines and signs with another team, then the team who signed him owes some draft picks. If Player X is a Type A player, the team who lost him gets that team's first-round draft pick from the team who signed him. It's one sandwich pick between the 1st/2nd round of the draft for a Type B free agent. This is an over-simplified version, because there are also considerations whether or not the team who signs the free agent falls in the 1st-15th picks of the draft, but that's basically it.

All this is to say that, for the Astros to trade an impending Type A free agent, they're going to want more than the equivalent to two of the Top 100 amateurs in the country. Then you get into the problem of offering arbitration, and the possibility of Player X accepting it (cough, Miguel Tejada, cough).

Where do the Astros' impending free agents fall (as of July 30)?

Type A
LaTroy Hawkins
Miguel Tejada
Jose Valverde

Type B
Doug Brocail
Pudge Rodriguez

None
Geoff Blum
Darin Erstad
Mike Hampton
Jason Michaels
Brian Moehler

Remembering Russ Ortiz

Things we said about Russ Ortiz:

January 13
-(On Ortiz' signing) You know who's crapping their pants right now? Brandon Backe.

March 3
-Obviously there's a lot of spring baseball to be played, but right now Ortiz has to have the edge. Backe sees the pooch, and is starting to think that the pooch looks attractive.

March 25
-It wasn't Jordan's Flu Game, but it may have been enough to seal Ortiz as SP5

April 8
-Probably not the regular-season debut we were expecting from SP5, but the Cubs were swinging at anything and everything, and connecting on most of that.
(Ken Rosenthal): The same executive says he was "totally shocked" by the improvement in right-hander Russ Ortiz, who looked the way he did in his best years with the Giants and Braves, giving every indication that he could be a quality No. 4 starter...

April 16
-Russ Ortiz had an effective, if inefficient, start to his season.

May 8
-You just get the feeling Ortiz is skating on thin ice... Right now, starting doesn't suit Ortiz. And relieving ain't so hot, either. If the Astros want to start the rebuilding project this season, that's fine with me.

June 28
-Russ Ortiz deserved better from his bullpen after throwing what is, for the 4th straight game, his best game of the season.

July 1
-June Employee of the Month

July 5
-This pass through a six-man rotation may only last a week, and only because it's turning into a contest of Who Sucks Worse?

July 10
-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.

July 30
-Something's gotta give, and I'm betting it's sooner than later. If Roy can make his next start at St. Louis, maybe we'll see Bud Norris pitching in the rotation, and one of Hampton/Ortiz out.

July 30
-Let's be clear, I feel bad about this. I wish it could have worked out for Ortiz.

Last Day to Vote for Adopt-a-Player

Don't forget, today is the last day to vote for the 1st Annual Astros County Adopt-a-Player. This is all but wrapped up, as Greeneville's Aaron Bray has 72% of the vote (in a five player race. You know how hard it is to get a clear majority out of five?). Official tally comes tomorrow morning...

Wright didn't want the gurney

Wesley Wright described the process of him being rolled out of the clubhouse on a gurney, loaded up in an ambulance with sirens wailing, and being taken to the hospital:

“That ambulance was a scary part for me, hearing the sirens and being taken out on the gurney. I didn't really want to get on the gurney, but I didn't have a choice. That kind of I think amplified the situation with them having to rush me out on the gurney, having everybody move and having it at the end of the game. That kind of put me in a little bit of a shock. I had been kind of nauseous the whole day. After I came out of the game, it really all kind of hit me. I was having trouble breathing and I came inside and started getting chills and a little bit of body cramps. I had never really had any dehydration problems like that before in my life. So all the symptoms were really new for me.”

LaHawk traveled in the ambulance with Wright, too. Because he was, you know, going that way.
-
Erstad isn't in a hurry to recover from his hammy injury.

Coop:
“He hasn't done a whole lot yet. It's tough to do a lot of extra stuff here other than go out and run and throw and stuff like that.”

Erstad, who has doing some slow jogging:
"It's a progression you have to make until the strength gets back. Just follow the program.”
-
And we also see that Norris will start for Oswalt on Sunday if Roy can't go.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Both SPs from G102 will find themselves in different surroundings tomorrow

Not only did losing pitcher Russ Ortiz get released, but winning pitcher Kevin Hart got himself traded to the Pirates for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

Weird, huh? How about being left in the clubhouse after the Cubs had run off to the airport?

Ortiz responds

Brian McTaggart checks in with some words from Ortiz:

"At this point of the year, playing teams like this, they don't need to send anybody out there they feel like is not going to get the job done. I told them I understand. This is an important time of the year, and they have a couple of young guys that can throw the ball well. I don't know what they're going to do, but they didn't obviously feel like they can keep sending me out. I don't want to pitch like this and not have them confident in me. Even though I never wanted this to happen, it's part of the game."

Let's be clear, I feel bad about this. I wish it could have worked out for Ortiz.

Justice: One down, one to go

Justice:

(Ortiz) didn't make it, and the Astros released him Thursday afternoon after the Cubs lit him up for 9 runs in 2.1 innings. He didn't win a start after April 26 and was 0-3 with a 12.23 ERA in five July starts. Reliever Sammy Gervacio was summoned from Round Rock to help an exhausted bullpen, but there are larger questions.

For instance, what about Mike Hampton? Hampton and Ortiz have both been lousy this month, going 2-6 with a 9.89 ERA. With the Astros desperate for a quality start, both were lit up by the Cubs this week...

...They were nice gambles for an off-season when Ed Wade had very little money to spend, but it's tough to argue for the Astros to keep giving them the ball.

Neither Ortiz nor Hampton has killer stuff anymore, but killer stuff is overrated. If both can get better command of the strike zone, their stuff will become plenty good enough.

As for options, Bud Norris is an easy one. His time has arrived. Yorman Bazardo deserves an opportunity as well. He's 9-4 with a 2.76 ERA and has allowed two earned runs in 15 innings in his last two starts.

He's only 25 years old, but has been with the Marlins, Mariners and Tigers, having made just two major league starts. The Astros have been impressed by what he has done at Round Rock, and are curious to find out how he performs at the big league level.

JJO slams his fist on the table and makes his demands

Blog post by JJO, who knows more than we do advises Ed Wade to trade for an SP2 or SP3, or blow it all up and start over:

But, with that said, I wouldn't be surprised if the Astros landed somebody. Drayton McLane has a history of opening up the checkbook when he thinks the club can contend. I think by 2011, Wade will have the Astros' farm system fixed and perhaps be a serious contender. I wouldn't bet against the 2009 Astros, but if I were GM and I couldn't land a No. 3 or top of the rotation starter by the non-waiver trading deadline, I would trade Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde and Ivan Rodriguez and start to rebuild. And if I didn't trade those three, I would re-sign Tejada to play third base and re-sign Valverde for three years at $33 million.

Of course, JJO has some first-hand knowledge to share:

I've spoken with Tejada and Valverde about this issue. They both would like to stay in Houston, and I'm sure Tejada would move to third base to do it. Valverde isn't going to be cheap, though. He's going to command anywhere from $10 million up per year. Numerous scouts have told me the Astros could have a field day fielding offers at the deadline for their relievers, starting with Valverde, of course.

But the Astros cannot continue to kill their bullpen like they have in the last seven games.


I'll agree with JJO on the last sentence, but I also think that if the Astros can get something for Valverde and Pudge, they should go ahead and do it.

That said, by the time Tejada's contract is up they can resign him at a significantly lower price, and probably get Valverde for the same price as Tejada alone. But I don't have firsthand knowledge of this, and we all know who does.

And just like that (blowing in hand) he's gone

That didn't take long. Brian McTaggart reporting that Russ Ortiz has been released.

Coop (via Alyson Footer):
"It's unfortunate it didn't work out with Russ. He had a few games that were good, not enough consistency."

More later.

Update: Sam Gervacio has been called up. So I guess that means Norris is in the rotation, Gervacio is in the bullpen. Or at least that better be what it means.

Recap for G102 - Astros @ Cubs

You look at this team over the last two days, and it's easy to see how Baseball Prospectus predicted a 66-96 team. Hampton and Ortiz are apparently in a race to see who can get an outright release first. With the exception of Wandy's start, the last three days have seen starting pitchers post the following line:

8IP, 18H/18ER, 6K:7BB. And that's with Roy's injury-shortened start.

Oh yeah, Cubs win 12-3. Astros have given up 10+ER in consecutive games for the second time this season (at least they won one of those against Colorado back in May). Here's the thing:

Ortiz: 2.1IP, 9H/9ER, 3K:3BB, 10/19 first-pitch strikes, 20/36 non-contact strikes (15 called:5 swinging)
Byrdak: 2.2IP, 2H/1ER, 3K:1BB, 8/11 FPS, 11/26 NCS (6c:5s)
Sampson: 2IP, 2H/2ER, 2K:1BB, 5/10 FPS, 9/24 NCS (6c:3s)
Brocail: 1IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:1BB, 3/4 FPS, 4/11 NC (4c)

What the heck can you do? Unlike yesterday, the Astros were actually in it until the bottom of the 3rd. They took a 1-0 lead on Carlos Lee's homer, and then Ortiz gave up four runs on two consecutive 2-run hits. Matsui brought it to 4-3 with a home run, and then Ortiz ran back out and gave up four consecutive hits, including two homers and a single. In the three innings he actually started, he walked the first two batters, and gave up the homer to Fox. Something's gotta give, and I'm betting it's sooner than later. If Roy can make his next start at St. Louis, maybe we'll see Bud Norris pitching in the rotation, and one of Hampton/Ortiz out.

Offensively, there wasn't much to write home about, but at least there were some runs. Blum had the only 2-hit game. Bourn got a hit, but was 1x5 and only saw 17 pitches. Carlos Lee was 1x3 and only saw six pitches. That's a lot of quick ABs, and credit Quintero for racking up 22 pitches on three plate appareances. The Astros have only had 5ABs with RISP in the last two days, after going 1x3 today.

Man of the Match: Jeez. I don't know. Matsui hit a 2-run shot - his 4th - but also committed two errors. Hell, how about Blum?

Goat of the Game: Russ Ortiz. No further explanation needed.

Hampton-Ortiz-Moehler,

With Bud Norris' call-up, someone on the back end of the rotation needs to step up and show they belong. Now that Ortiz is done for the day, he and Hampton are working on making this a tough decision on Who Sucks Worse. Let's take a look at their stats since June.

Mike Hampton
3-4, 44IP, 52H/28ER, 29K:20BB, 5.73 ERA/1.64 WHIP, .308/.377/.462 against

Russ Ortiz (with his line today, and since he joined the rotation in the first week of June)
0-3, 47IP, 55H/36ER, 37K:22BB, 6.89 ERA/1.64 WHIP, (don't have the updated off. line against)

Brian Moehler
5-3, 55.2IP, 58H/27ER, 34K:20BB, 4.37 ERA/1.41 WHIP, .265/.328/.479 against

Surprised? I'm not. So what do you think? Should it be blown up? Get rid of Hampton and Ortiz and replace them with Norris and Bazardo? Or just let it play out? One thing is for sure: In a crucial away series, Berkman wasn't even missed over the last two games because he can't hit 8-run homers. One of Ortiz and Hampton has hopefully pitched their way out of the rotation...

Eddie's Farm: July 29

Don't forget to vote for Astros County's 1st Annual Adopt-a-Player. Greeneville's Aaron Bray has a 42-vote lead over Corpus' Drew Locke. So we're pretty close to projecting a winner here in this one. Aaron Bray, expect a box o'goodies in the mail next week. I'll just send it to the team, care of you. Okay?

Eddie's Farm goes 3-2 last night, (Greeneville's game was postponed, and the GCL Astros were off). Probably in anticipation of the results of the vote.

Round Rock
Out of nowhere, Jose Capellan (remember when he was a serious candidate for SP5?) was El Hombre in a 3-1 win over Memphis. Saccomanno kept up his torrid pace with a 3x4 night, including a 2-run shot in the 1st. Brian Bogusevic was 2x4, and is now hitting .280. Capellan got two hits, and threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:1BB. Geary, Gervacio, and Daigle threw 3IP of 0H relief. Khalil Greene was 0x3 in another rehab start.

Corpus
Drew Locke had five RBI with a 2x4, 2HR night, raising his RBI total to 92 (!), while Jason Castro and Mark Ori were both 3x4 on the night in an 8-1 win over San Antonio. All five of Locke's RBI came with 2 outs. Kenny Baugh got his 2nd win of the season with 6IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:1BB (note: that's exactly the same line as Capellan. It's not a typo.), and Danny Meszaros got his first save of the season with 3IP, 0H relief.

Lancaster
Despite allowing five runs in the 8th, the JetHawks emerged victorious with a 10-7 win over High Desert. Koby Clemens was 4x5 with a homer, and Jon Gaston hit a two-run shot (his 29th of the season). Jack Shuck was 3x5. Casey Hudspeth threw 7IP, 6H/2ER, 5K:4BB, while all five runs were racked off of Ashton Mowdy, who didn't record an out. Jordan Powell and Francisco Abad mopped it up with 2IP of hitless relief.

Lexington
Lexington had a 3-1 lead, but it kind of fell apart as Hagerstown won again 5-3. Brandon Wikoff was 2x3, and is hitting .455 since being called up from Tri-City, while Brian Pellegrini was 3x4 with a three-run homer in the 5th. Robert Bono pitched 5.2IP, 7H/2ER, 1K:2BB, and Brian Wabick threw 2.1IP, 3H/1ER (though 3 total) for the loss.

Tri-City
Lowell only needed runs in the 5th and 6th - though there were eight of them, to defeat Tri-City 8-1. J.D. Martinez and Jake Goebbert were both 2x4, with Martinez providing the lone RBI. Brandt Walker threw 4.1IP, 2H/2ER, 4K:6BB for the loss, but errors led to five unearned runs, with Mike Modica getting an unearned run, and Nathan Pettus getting four of 'em. Max Fearnow and Scott Migl threw 2.1IP of scoreless relief to close the game.

Man, you lose 12-0 and people just start getting mean

From recaps of yesterday's games at The Hardball Times:

Cubs 12, Astros 0: Evidence that time travel is impossible: if it existed, some Astros fan from the future would have zapped into Wrigley Field and told the team just to forfeit the game after Derek Lee's sac fly in the first, so as to save everyone a lot of hassle on a miserable afternoon. Wait, that's not right; if Astros fans could travel in time there's way better things they could do, such as sterilize Ed Wade's parents and such.

Brutal memo to Mike Hampton

The Study of Sports blog has a brutal little letter to Mike Hampton.

An excerpt:
Sorry Mike, but you need to go now. Well, maybe you can stick around as a pinch hitter, because Houston needs any help they can get at the plate. But as a pitcher, you’re just not good anymore. And to be fair, you haven’t been very good since you took all that money to go to Colorado eight years ago. But this is just getting embarrassing now, isn’t it?

The start you just made on Wednesday in Chicago should be your last, at least for this club. Because if the Astros have any fantasies of making the playoffs this season, they can’t keep running you out to the mound every fifth day. The Astros can’t keep throwing away starts on you when they sit on the fringe of contention in the NL Central. Cecil Cooper did it last season with Brandon Backe when he was clearly in over his head, so hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself and you’ll find yourself out of the Astro rotation...

...And yes, anyone can see that Brian Moehler and Russ Ortiz aren’t exactly throwing lights-out baseball for the Astros either. They’re terrible too. But Mike, you’re clearly the guy now. There’s no getting around the fact that you’re the worst starting pitcher for the Astros right now. So if they insist on playing for this season and making a run at the playoffs, they’re going to have to remove the weakest link from that rotation, especially now that they have a viable alternative. Bud Norris made his major league debut today, coming in to relieve you, and he was quite impressive. He’s your replacement in the rotation. And if it turns out that Roy Oswalt has to miss two or three starts, well then the Astros need to bring up Yorman Bazardo from AAA Round Rock. He can’t be any worse than you.


Whew. Unfortunately, it's debatable on just whom fills the role of The Worst Starting Pitcher For The Astros Right Now. But this seems a little over-the-top.

More notes on our sick and afflicted

A note on Roy:
Depending on Roy's reaction to an injection he received for an irritated disk in his back, Roy could start on Sunday. Or he could not.

Coop:
“Yeah, we won't know it until really probMaysonteably about Friday or so. I would think after that let kind of the soreness subside a little bit . ... And we can even wait as long as probably Saturday before we make a decision.”
-
On Wright:
No appendicitis, but instead dehydration.

Coop:
“It's big for us. It means that he probably won't be laid up but probably a day or two. If it was the (appendicitis), we're talking about a long period of time. Wesley's got a great arm and he's pitched really good for us. We need him, so I thank God that he's going to be OK.”

I think a more appropriate quote would have been: "Wesley had a great arm, and pitched really good for us. We'll see if I completely ruined that by making him throw 50+ pitches."
-
And on Brocail nutting his first outing back in 10 weeks:
“I felt good. My leg is fine. It's nice, absolutely. I just want to be able when I come back help the team and not hurt us. No excuses. I didn't pitch good. Anytime you give up five rocket line drives, there's no excuse.”

I was really hoping for a "hump up" dropped in there.
-
With LaHawk out for a while, the bullpen is getting reshuffled. You'll see Sampson in long-relief roles (of which there have been plenty of opportunities. I'm looking at you, Starting Rotation), with Arias and Brocail (funny story: I was listening to the game yesterday and Brett Dolan said, "It's nice to have Broc back." Say that aloud, and if you don't laugh, there's something wrong with you.) mixing in for 7th and 8th inning roles, depending on matchups.
-
Chad Paronto cleared waivers and has accepted his assignment to Round Rock
-
And finally you won't be seeing Reed Johnson in the Cubs lineup anytime soon, as he fouled a pitch off his foot in yesterday's game. It was reportedly the only ball that wasn't smoked to the wall in the 1st inning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recap for G101 - Astros @ Cubs

Like I said, all that about needing Hampton to go deep? Well, it was the Cubs who went deep on the Astros, and Hampton was in the showers early. But all that was overshadowed for us as the ball was handed off, literally and perhaps figuratively, to Bud Norris, making his major league debut. But first let's look at Hampton's piss-poor outing that led to the Cubs' 12-0 victory.

Hampton: 4IP, 8H/9ER, 1K:4BB, 2HR, 15/24 first-pitch strikes, 12/46 non-contact strikes (8 called:4 swinging).

Hampton last gave up 9ER on July 1, 2003 - also on 4IP - in a 20-1 loss to the Marlins. The first inning was brutal. Here's how it went:
Reed Johnson: single to right
Ryan Theriot: double to left
Derrek Lee: sac fly to right (1-0)
Aramis Ramirez: single to left (2-0)
Milton Bradley: walk
Alfonso Soriano: homer to left (5-0)
Jeff Baker: walk, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch
Koyie Hill: single to center (6-0)
Randy Wells: sac bunt to pitcher
Johnson: flyout to center

Recap: 1IP, 10 batters faced, 6H/6ER, 0K:2BB, 1HR, 1WP

Here's the thing for the other pitchers, oh yes, Bud Norris.

Norris: 3IP, 3H/1ER, 4K:1BB, 8/13 FPS, 14/33 NCS (8c:6s)
Norris threw 13 straight fastballs to open the game. McTaggart said his fastball touched 96, but stayed in the 94-95 range with a slider moving from 84-86mph.

Brocail, making his first appearance since ripping his hamstring from the bone in Atlanta back on May 4: 1IP, 3H/2ER, 0K:1BB.
Brocail gave up Andres Blanco's first career home run, and followed that up by allowing Micah Hoffpauir's first career triple. So we were in a giving mood.

The offense wasn't as bad as the pitching, but it wasn't much better. Randy Wells dominated the Astros, throwing 68 of his 110 pitches for strikes, and getting 25 non-contact strikes. Cubs' pitchers induced four Astros GIDPs. Kaz Matsui logged three of the Astros' six hits, and the Astros only had 2ABs with RISP. Clearly nothing happened with either at-bat.

Man of the Match: Bud Norris! Here's to a long career in the rotation...

Goat of the Game: Really? Mike Hampton and his game score of seven. Depressingly, that's not even the worst of the season - Felipe Paulino had a game score of five on July 3 against the Giants.

In-game update: G101 - Astros @ Cubs

All of those encouraging day game/@ Wrigley stats? Go ahead and crumple those up.

New-ish lineup for G101

1. Bourn CF
2. Keppinger 3B
3. Tejada SS
4. Lee LF
5. Blum 1B
6. Pence RF
7. Rodriguez C
8. Matsui 2B
9. Hampton P

Coste has a seat as the infield is shuffled around to keep Kep's bat in the lineup.

LaHawk might ought to go ahead and get his wallet out

MLB VP of Onfield Operations Bob Watson had this to say:

"It's not good when a player questions the integrity of an umpire. He can do it in private, but not in public."

He is investigating LaHawk and will make a decision soon. I'm guessing it will be a fine as LaTroy is on the DL, and some extra rest might actually be a blessing.

Cards' writers: still not afraid of the Astros

In the morning writer roundup at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the question is "Which team is the Cardinals' biggest threat?" I found this an interesting way to phrase it, as the standings would indicate that the Cards are the Cubs biggest threat. Anyway. The Cubs were the consensus pick, but Jeff Gordon (kind of) picked the Astros:

Until Roy Oswalt went down, I liked the Astros. That team has been on a prolonged upturn. The ’Stros can really beat up opponents in its bandbox stadium. But they have to have their ace. If Oswalt misses significant time with his back strain, that makes the Cubs the biggest threat — even without Ted Lilly. Neither team seems likely to make a major move at the trade deadline, though, so both teams could lose some steam.

There it is, the Astros as a product of Minute Maid Park.

Update on Wesley Wright

Here's an update on poor, misused Wesley Wright, from McTaggart:

Astros relief pitcher Wesley Wright was to spend Wednesday resting in his hotel room after being diagnosed with dehydration following his appearance in Tuesday's 11-6 win over the Cubs, general manager Ed Wade said.

He was so badly dehydrated that Astros officials were afraid his appendix had ruptured. Do you know how badly you have to be dehydrated to show signs of appendicitis? Ridiculous...

Matchup for G101 - Astros @ Cubs

Third game of the four-game set at Wrigley, and the depleted bullpen will need a rest today, and here's hoping Mike Hampton can spell the pen for a while.

Mike Hampton
It's been three starts since Hampton has thrown more than 5.2IP, so he'll need to recapture that magic today against the Cubs.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/11 vWAS3.29/51:112/670/44
7/18 @LA5.25/44:29/992/56
7/24 vNYM5.28/47:48/8101/64


Vs Chicago - 2009:




Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
5/6 vCHC5.17/3 (5 total)3:28/11107/66


vs. CHC (career): 9-5, 3.07 ERA/1.41 WHIP, 132IP, 125H/45ER, 83K:61BB
@ Wrigley: 5-1, 3.19 ERA/1.52 WHIP, 62IP, 64H/22ER, 37K:30BB
In Day Games: 49-34, 3.85 ERA/1.40 WHIP, 755.1IP, 772H/323ER, 465K:286BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 77x263, .293/.372/.437, 36K:33BB
vs Lefties: 24x95, .253/.284/.442, 28K:5BB

When swinging at the first pitch (50): .341/.333/.659, 8XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (191): .261/.291/.406, 43K:7BB
After First-Pitch Balls (167): .291/.422/.410, 21K:31BB

RISP: 27x89, .303/.387/.494, 17K:14BB
Runners on: 43x149, .289/.377/.477, 30K:23BB
2OwRISP: 17x43, .395/.480/.698, 6K:7BB

Randy Wells

Righty Randy Wells gets the start for the Cubs today.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/12 vSTL77/44:310/11100/59
7/18 @WAS57/41:16/1485/53
7/24 vCIN67/35:18/1288/54


Vs Houston - 2009:




Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
5/16 @HOU64/04:311/597/64


Day Games: 3-1, 2.90 ERA/1.19 WHIP, 40.1IP, 35H/13ER, 23K:13BB
Career @ Wrigley: 3-3, 3.28 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 46.2IP, 45H/17ER, 29K:13BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 44x182, .242/.288/.341, 33K:9BB
vs Lefties: 38x141, .270/.318/.397, 26K:10BB

When swinging at the first pitch (43): .325/.333/.525, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (187): .253/.283/.354, 42K:5BB
After First-Pitch Balls (121): .229/.317/.324, 17K:14BB

RISP: 17x63, .270/.300/.444, 8K:3BB
Runners on: 32x127, .252/.290/.386, 21K:6BB
2OwRISP: 10x34, .294/.368/.500, 5K:3BB

Maysonet out, Norris in

Alyson Footer tweeting that Edwin Maysonet has been optioned to Round Rock to clear room for Bud Norris.

Norris to start on Sunday?

Brian McTaggart is tweeting that Bud Norris could start Sunday in place of Roy Oswalt. Will he pitch out of the bullpen if needed until then? The Astros sure could use some help...

BP's 120 is the new 100

Baseball Prospectus has a new article up on ESPN Insider. Allow me to bring you the point:

Yhe obsession with the nice round number of 100 has become less a line of death as much as a suggestion. As Rany Jazayerli noted in 2004, it's better to think of 120 pitches as the count at which people really should be concerned.

How much have matters changed? In 1999, the pitcher who averaged the highest pitch count per start on the season was Randy Johnson, with 120 pitches per game; he topped 130 pitches in a game eight times. Today, the per-game leader is Justin Verlander, with 109, which would have ranked 14th in 2000; he has thrown more than 120 pitches all of four times this season.


So I was curious, because Wandy has thrown 100+ pitches in 15 of his 21 starts (71.4%) this season, with six of those starts coming in at 110+ pitches (28.6%), and a season-high of 125 pitches in his complete game shutout of the Pirates on July 8.

In his previous four seasons, Wandy made 111 starts. He threw 100+ pitches in 35 of those starts (31.5%), and 110+ pitches in nine starts (8.1%).

What are his stats in 100+ pitch games? Wandy is 27-10 (13 ND), with a 3.30 ERA

Eddie's Farm - July 28

Eddie's Farm goes 1-5 last night in minor-league action. Greeneville was off. Don't forget to for Astros County's Adopt-a-Player poll. Voting now ends Friday. I'm getting impatient.

Round Rock
Perhaps distracted by Bud Norris' call-up, Memphis proceeded to kick the piss out of Round Rock, 14-5. Mark Saccomanno was 2x4 with a solo homer. But the story was the Express pitching. Or the Memphis hitting. Take your pick. Polin Trinidad gave up six (six!) homers and 9ER on 10H in 5IP. T.J. Burton had a tough time of it, as well, giving up 5ER on 8H/3BB in 1.2IP.

Corpus
Drew Meyer and Nick Moresi were 2x4 and Collin DeLome hit a 2-run homer, but it wasn't enough as San Antonio beat Corpus 5-4. Brad James dropped his record to 2-8 with 7IP, 8H/5ER, 3K:3BB. C-Lo pitched a scoreless 8th, and Charlie Weatherby III threw a scoreless 9th.

Lancaster
Lancaster scored three runs in the 4th and four runs in the 6th, but fell just short with an 8-7 loss to High Desert. TJ Steele was 3x4 with a double and a triple, and Brandon Barnes went 2x4 with 3RBI. Chris Hicks went 6IP, 10H/7ER (8 total), 5K:1BB.

Lexington
Lexington held a 2-1 lead for most of the game, but Hagerstown rallied for a 6-2 win. Brandon Wikoff and Steve Brown were both 2x4 and RBIs came from Hulett and Pestana. David Duncan threw a strong start: 7IP, 5H/2ER (3 total), 6K:1BB and Arcenio Leon gave up 3ER in 2IP. Five of Hagerstown's runs came on the long ball.

Tri-City
The ValleyCats have won three straight games with a 9-3 win over Kason Gabbard and the Lowell Spinners. J.D. Martinez was 5x5 with 2RBI and Barry Butera got himself two hits on the win. Wander Alvino threw 6IP, 6H/1ER, 3K:2BB, while Antonio Noguera gave up 2ER in 0.2IP. Robby Donovan struck out four batters in 2.1 scoreless innings for his third save of the season.

GCL Astros
The GCL Astros lost to the GCL Mets 10-4. Emilio King was 3x3 with a double and a triple. Mark Jones gave up 2ER (though 5 total) in 1.2IP. 19-year old Italian pitcher Andrea Lucati (with whom I'm hoping we can speak) gave up 4H/2ER in 3.1IP of relief.

And to the big story of the day...

Our buddy Bud Norris is heading to Chicago.

JJO, who knows more than we do, explains how Norris found out:
Top pitching prospect Bud Norris was charting pitches for Class AAA Round Rock on Tuesday night in Memphis when a clubhouse attendant called him out of the stands and summoned him to visit with a trainer. That's how he learned Tuesday night that he was headed to the big leagues.

No word on who picked up charting duties in the meantime.

Norris, who will be at Wrigley in time for the Wednesday day game:
"I'm pretty excited. I can't wait for the opportunity. Anything I can do to help, I will. I'm just real excited that I'll be helping the team and I'll do anything I can do to help."

That's three "helps" in three sentences. Quality.

And that means someone's going down, as soon as it's annonced, you'll hear it here.

Hawkins out, Brocail in

LaHawk is on the DL with back pain associated with shingles, and admits it could be more that 15 days before he's back (pun intended):

“People with back pain, I have a new profound respect. My wife has a bad back and I see her back locked up and if you don't have that problem you don't know if it's that bad. And I have a high tolerance for pain, a very high tolerance, and this is testing my tolerance.

On when he might return:
"I don't know. It could be two or three weeks. It can be six months. It could be a year. You just don't know because you can't.”

To compensate, the Astros cut short Brocail's rehab assignment, who was scheduled to throw 2IP in Corpus last night, and will bring him to Chicago where he'll be available as a fresh arm out of the over-taxed bullpen.

-

But his back didn't hurt enough to shut up about getting tossed two days ago. When asked if he could go back in the WayBack Machine and do it over, he said:
Why would I?" And will fight any fine or suspension, “Well, if I do, I'm fighting it."

Oswalt's back strain

Tejada:
“Having Roy hurt is something that nobody would like to hear or see. We hope it’s something minor and it’s a case of something that will take just a few days. This is a difficult part of the game, but we have to keep marching forward.”

Roy, who will likely miss a start:
“I’m not going to do anything strenuous, but moving around, it’s not too bad. I knew I shouldn’t stay out there and blow it all the way out.”

Recap for G100 - Astros @ Cubs

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't good news, but it was a win that saw the Astros battle all night long for 11-6 win. The Astros never trailed in this game, but it sure didn't feel like it, especially after Coop left Wesley Wright out to dry - and was lucky to limit the damage - after he replaced Roy, who left the game in the 2nd with a lower back strain.

But I want to focus on Wesley Wright for a second, who threw 51 pitches. On June 18, he threw 41 pitches at Texas. And that was the most pitches he had thrown in a game since May 16, 2008 (also at Texas), when he threw 39 pitches. It was irresponsible on Coop's part. McTaggart pointed out that at one point Wright threw 11 straight balls. Wright had nothing left, and to his credit, he battled through it, but that was completely reckless. I also understand that you're relying on your bullpen for 7.1 innings the day after needing the bullpen for six innings, but Wright clearly was out of gas. Which is amplified in light of this ESPN report that Wright was taken to the hospital after the game with dehydration.

Let's just do the thing:

Oswalt: 1.2IP, 1H, 2K, 3/5 first-pitch strikes, 8/15 non-contact strikes (5 called:3 swinging)
Wright: 2.1IP, 1H/3ER, 2K:5BB, 5/13 FPS, 9/23 NCS (7c:2s)
Fulchino: 3IP, 3H/3ER, 3K:2BB, 4/14 FPS, 16/35 NCS (8c:8s)
Byrdak: 1IP, 1K:1BB, 3/4 FPS, 5/8 NCS (3c:2s)
Valverde: 1IP, 1K:2BB, 4/5 FPS, 8/12 NCS (6c:2s)

Oswalt had it going, and while it was hard to see from the previous pitches exactly where it happened. But Bob Brenly noted on WGN - in between singing arias regaling Cubs fans with brave tales of Fukudome - that Oswalt, when he walked, looked like a jacknifed truck. But let's point out that the bullpen threw 145 pitches, 67 of them for balls - with 10 walks.

Offensively, the top half of the order provided some serious firepower, rapping out 17 hits, nine of them coming from Bourn (3x5), Keppinger (4x5), and Tejada (2x4). The only Astros without a hit was Pudge, who was 0x5 and only saw 11 pitches, and that includes one AB with a strikeout - now hitting .254 with an OBP of .285. And of MLB catchers with 250+ plate appearances, Pudge has the 4th-worst OBP, and 2nd-worst in the NL. Tejada provided 5RBI, Keppinger 3RBI, and Blum's solo homer in the 7th gave the Astros the margin to win tha game.

Man of the Match: Could be either Keppinger or Tejada, but I'm going to give it to Keppinger. 4 hits, 3RBI, and 3 runs scored.

Goat of the Game: I've made a concerted effort to keep Coop out of this column, since the players have to perform on the field. So he's exempt from this exercise, but it should be pointed out that he completely nutted the Wright outing. That said, Pudge gets the Goat after his performance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Word around the campfire

From Justice, McTaggart and Footer: Bud Norris will be joining the Astros. More to come...

Dempster to take it nice and easy tonight

Lou Piniella will treat Ryan Dempster as a delicate flower this evening against the Astros, keeping him to 80-85 pitches.

Dempster:
"I'm sure they'll probably not want to run me up too high, but hopefully I can be economical and not waste a bunch of pitches early on."

SportsNation ain't so high on Easy Eddie

In ESPN SportsNation's current poll ranking the MLB GMs, Ed Wade wasn't in the top half. He wasn't in the top three-quarters. Where did he land?

Squarely at 26. Behind Omar Minaya, but ahead of San Diego's Kevin Towers, Kansas City's Dayton Moore, Pittsburgh's Neal Huntington, and Washington's Acting GM Mike Rizzo.

Fair, or unfair?

Matchup for G100 - Astros @ Cubs

So we'll see if there is any residual hatred from the umpiring crew for LaHawk calling them out on wanting the Cubs to win tonight, in the 2nd of a 4-game series with the Cubs at Miller Park South.

Roy Oswalt
Roy will be shooting for his 4th win in a row, with his last loss coming on June 19 @ Minnesota.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/10 vWAS65/36:18/886/58
7/17 @LA94/15:017/8105/73
7/22 vStL77/34:113/979/56


Vs Chicago - 2009:





Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
4/6 vCHC77/32:113/1293/64
5/16 @CHC66/37:06/12108/72


vs. CHC (career): 12-12, 3.90 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 173IP, 191H/75ER, 133K:30BB
@ Wrigley: 6-5, 4.81 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 82.1IP, 94H/44ER, 61K:11BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 59x258, .229/.290/.395, 49K:18BB
vs Lefties: 67x246, .272/.313/.423, 55K:15BB

When swinging at the first pitch (71): .313/.313/.582, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (290): .212/.244/.319, 75K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (192): .287/.382/.488, 29K:25BB

RISP: 20x93, .215/.321/.323, 24K:14BB
Runners on: 44x188, .234/.307/.388, 39K:19BB
2OwRISP: 8x44, .182/.321/.227, 15K:7BB

Ryan Dempster

Coming off the celebratory broken toe is Ryan Dempster...

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
6/22 @ATL6.28/26:49/11118/74
6/27 @CHW58/52:36/13104/5
7/2 vMIL6.28/49:211/8109/68


Vs Houston - 2009:





Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
4/7 @HOU66/25:37/1195/61
6/11 @HOU77/14:08/15102/66


vs. HOU (career): 4-10, 4.27 ERA/1.43 WHIP, 135IP, 130H/65ER, 110K:63BB
Career @ Wrigley: 25-16, 3.53 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 321IP, 276H/126ER, 283K:136BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 55x215, .256/.318/.405, 42K:18BB
vs Lefties: 46x176, .261/.354/.460, 47K:26BB

When swinging at the first pitch (50): .318/.326/.636, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (215): .239/.274/.353, 66K:7BB
After First-Pitch Balls (187): .267/.406/.473, 23K:37BB

RISP: 21x88, .239/.336/.375, 18K:13BB
Runners on: 36x153, .235/.320/.353, 33K:19BB
2OwRISP: 8x39, .205/.311/.359, 7K:5BB

A European scout's take on Martone

Italian infielder Luca Martone, signed by the Astros in the international signing period, was broken down like this:

He is still 16 and a slick infielder that can match the Latin guys. Body wise he is still undeveloped, so he has a lot of work in front of him.

You surely didn't think LaHawk would get away with saying what he said, did you?

Because he won't. Not from Cubs fans.

Yes, we all know the umpires are in the tank for the Cubs – that’s why they win the World Series every single year. That’s why LaTroy got nothing but strike calls back when he pitched for the Cubs (strange that he still managed to melt down in almost every pressure situation he faced).

Clearly, Hawkins is still bitter about the fans basically running him out of Chicago in 2005. LaTroy wanted Cubdom to have more patience with him while he worked out his issues. LaTroy didn’t deserve all that booing and jeering even though you could literally see him melting like an ice cream cone left on a hot dashboard, creating a sticky mess all over the mound.

You would think four years would be enough for LaTroy to finally get over all that. But I guess not.


And of course the Chicago Tribune ran it. What did the comments section have to say?

-No matter how well LaTroy Hawkins does, whenever he plays the Cubs he always reverts to the way he was while he pitched for the Cubs: A classless idiot who cannot get anyone out.

-If the ump truly wanted the Cubs to win, he would not have ejected Hawkins; he would have made him pitch to Aramis...

-This is coming from the same guy who told the Chicago media that he could do their job but they couldn't do his (2004). He has always complained about everything, no matter what team he is on. He has never been welcome in a clubhouse. He hasn't lasted more than two years on one team since leaving Minnesota. I hope he's fined. Pompous athletes like him deserve it.


Oh, and it's not solely focused on LaHawk. We Astros fans get a shot, too:
Check out the Houston Chronicle their stupid fans think Soriano was pointing at the Houstondugout after his walk-0ff GS. They're advocating drilling him in the ribs! Pretty funny stuff, what a bunch of LOSERS!!

Minor League Ball's profile on Bud Norris

Nice little paragraph on your friend and mine, Bud Norris:

**Bud Norris posted a 4.05 ERA with an 84/31 K/BB in 80 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi last year, with 89 hits allowed, his innings limited by a sore elbow. He converted to relief in the Arizona Fall League and was terrific, giving rise to the thought that he would be a full-time reliever. He's always had two good pitches (90-95 MPH fastball, good hard breaking ball), but his command was sometimes wobbly and his changeup was below average. The Astros went against winter rumors, however, leaving Norris in the starting rotation for Triple-A Round Rock this year, with excellent results: 2.63 ERA, 112/53 K/BB in 120 innings over 19 starts, 104 hits allowed. The walk rate is still higher than ideal, but his K/IP and H/IP are strong for context, and keeping your ERA below 4.00 in the PCL ain't easy. Scouting reports indicate he's made some progress with the changeup, while continuing to impress with the fastball and breaking ball. He deserves a lot more attention than he's received thus far.

Minor League Transactions!

Something I'll continue to update through the day, but we have our 2nd promotion of the 2009 draft class!

Yesterday Lexington called up Brandon Wikoff from Tri-City, sending down Jorge de Leon in his place. A CapTip is appropriate...now.

And Brian Esposito was brought up to Round Rock, and Jon Fixler to Corpus, in the shuffle of putting Towles on the 7-Day DL.

Don't forget to vote

Astros County's Adopt-A-Player voting is still ongoing. Currently Drew Locke holds a one-vote lead. Voting ends Saturday, so check in and vote.

A note on the sick and afflicted

Astros Notes today, typically, dealing with the injured Astros.

Erstad:
“I'm just progressing. I just follow the program. It takes time. ... I'm not putting a date on it. I just take it day by day. In the last three days I've made good progress, but I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself. I can hit without any problem. Running is not happening right now. I try to stay in as good a shape as I can.”

Maysonet is expected to rejoin the club today after spending time with his pregnant wife since Saturday.

Erstad and Boone took BP in Chicago before last night's game

Berkman is not in Chicago, as he is attending his grandfather's funeral, and will rejoin the team in St. Louis.

Coop:
“Everybody's doing fine, coming along fine. Erstad hit today. Booney hit today. They're all progressing just fine. We should have some of those guys back here pretty soon. Lance will be in St. Louis and he'll get a chance to hit some early. Hopefully he'll continue to progress.”

Levine's Q&A with Tal Smith

While talking at Zachary Levine's Excellent Adventure to Corpus.

On Bud Norris' workload:
He's more seasoned, he's more mature, and I don't think it's a consideration there like it would be if he were in Lexington in his first year. We are trying to monitor the work load there, because it's such a transition for players in their first and second years of full years of service.

On the importance of pitch counts:
Today, of course, we're monitoring pitch counts and after five or six innings, you're out of there. I think to some degree you have to guard against that so that when pitchers get to the big leagues, they don't automatically start to look toward the bench whenever they run into trouble or whenever they think maybe "I've done my job; time to turn it over to somebody else."

I think that whole thing needs to be re-examined and continually examined, and we're doing that. We aren't as quick to just have an automatic pitch count. It depends on the pitcher and whether he's laboring or not. You've got to trust your judgment. Obviously you don't want to put anybody at risk, and I don't think we do. But sometimes I think we're overly cautious.

Oh snap. LaHawk just went there

On getting tossed last night.

Allow JJO, who knows more than us, to set the scene:
What had been a splendid evening of baseball soured a bit in the bottom of the eighth. Shortly after Hawkins issued a two-out walk to Lee, home plate umpire Mike Everitt and Hawkins began exchanging words after Ramirez took a ball to put the count at 1-1.

Everitt yelled at Hawkins, who countered with a response that prompted Everitt to eject him.


LaHawk:
“I thought it was a strike. And I told (Everitt), ‘Come on, I need that pitch.’ He don’t need any help.’ He said, ‘Knock it off.’ I waved him off, and he threw me out of the game. Maybe he was having a bad day. I thought he had determined who he wanted to win the game anyway.”

So just in case you're not following, LaHawk said he thought Everitt had already decided who he wanted to win the game. And it wasn't the away team.

Recap for G99 - Astros @ Cubs

Are. You. Kidding. Me. At the time, both the Astros and the Cubs were 8x41 on the night. But when Alfonso Soriano got done trotting around the bases in the bottom of the 13th with three Cubs ahead of him to seal a 5-1 win, the Cubs were 9x42.

All of the Astros' runs came on one swing of Carlos Lee's bat, who's been doing that a lot lately, and he and Tejada were the only ones with more than one hit. Wandy pitched well, and so did Zambrano. Let's just do the thing:

Wandy: 7IP, 6H/1ER, 7K:2BB, 19/27 first-pitch strikes, 30/67 non-contact strikes (18 called:12 swinging)
LaHawk: 0.2IP, 1BB, 1/3 FPS, 4/10 NCS (3c:1s)
Valverde: 1.1IP, 1K:3BB, 2/6 FPS, 5/11 NCS (2c:3s)
Arias: 1IP, 1H, 1K:1BB, 3/8 FPS, 6/17 NCS (5c:1s)
Sampson: 1IP, 2H/4ER, 0K:2BB, 2/7 FPS, 4/11 NCS (4c)

Maybe if LaHawk hadn't argued balls/strikes, he could have stuck around a little bit and spelled out the relief a little bit. But he didn't, and while the impact is hypothetical, it did mean a 4-out outing for Valverde. Then Arias, then Sampson completely nutted the 13th inning, walking the leadoff batter, giving up a single, an intentional walk, and then Soriano's long fly ball that made Santo absolutely explode. Yep, 4 batters faced in the 13th, 0 outs.

Not that the Astros didn't have a chance. If Carlos Lee could have gotten his third hit in the 9th OR the 12th, we might not be having this conversation. With Tejada on 2nd with 1 out in the 9th, Lee grounded out to third (and Blum struck out looking). With Bourn on 2nd and Tejada on 1st with one out in the 12th, Lee GIDPed to short, ending the inning. But that wasn't the only chance. The Astros were 0x7 with RISP, leaving nine on base. Coste, Matsui, and the aforementioned Lee GIDPed on the night.
Oh, and Bourn got thrown out at 2nd for another basepath out.

Man of the Match: Wandy. Gave the Astros a chance to win, and it didn't happen.

Goat of the Game: The 0x7 with RISP gets spread around a little bit, but this one goes to Sampson, even though I feel bad about giving it to him a day after he comes off the DL. So much for putting him in those "low-pressure situations." Still...

Monday, July 27, 2009

LaHawk's MRI negative

The MRI on LaHawk's back came back negative, and he is expected to be in Chicago in time for tonight's game.

Astros County's 1st Annual Mid-Season Adopt-a-Player

So, not kidding here, we're going to adopt an Astros minor-leaguer. That means sending him boxes of macaroni & cheese, books, cds, magazines, etc. Because I just read Matt McCarthy's Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit (highly recommended, by the by), and it sounds like minor-leaguers need all the help they can get - except Jiovanni Mier. He has $1.3 mil in the bank.

So I'm picking a player from each level, from the GCL Astros to Corpus. Now we need to vote on who is going to be the Astros County's Adopted Astro... We'll do this again next year, except we'll do it earlier in the season. Inspiration doesn't have a schedule, it's just the price of trying to be the best Astros blog out there. Voting is open until the end of the week.

Astros record for starting pitchers

So the Astros' SPs have had a lot of no decisions - 31, to be exact. Where are the wins - and losses - coming from, and how does the team fare per starter? Let's take us a gander:









HOU SP#StartsRecord#NDsTeam Rec in GSRun Supp
Roy216-41111-104.75
Wandy2010-6414-64.56
Hampton176-746-114.03
Moehler177-6410-74.68
Ortiz123-545-73.86


You may notice that the current SPs' NDs don't add up to 31, but keep in mind Backe (1 ND) and Paulino (3 NDs) have also started games this season. But Roy's 11 no decisions are brutal. So that got me wondering about other team's aces getting NDs. Let's look:









Team/SP#StartsRecord#NDsTeam Rec in GSRun Support
CHC/Zambrano187-4412-64.38
StL/Wainwright2111-7314-75.79
MIL/Gallardo209-7411-94.00
CIN/Cueto208-7511-93.84
PIT/Duke209-929-114.75


A couple of things stand out about this. I was surprised to see Roy get that kind of run support and still have 11 no decisions. I also found it surprising that Duke and Wainwright had the same or more run support per start. What do you take from this, class?

Huge profile on Bagwell's HOF candidacy

There's just no way to condense this article into a skimmer-friendly post. It revolves around Bagwell's Hall of Fame candidacy. It's a question for our next Off-Day Argument, so be thinking about it, but should Bagwell be elected to the Hall of Fame? There are a lot of opinions here...

And as a follow-up, 78% of you answered that Lance is not yet a Hall of Famer, but will be if he keeps the pace up. 17% of you said he is a Hall of Famer, with just 4% saying no.

Matchup for G99 - Astros @ Cubs

The Astros head to Miller Park South for an important three-game set with the Cubs, who are 6-4 against the Astros this season - though 2-3 in their last five against Houston. And thanks to the Phillies' domination of the Cardinals over the weekend, the Cubs are a half-game up on St. Louis for first place in the NL Central, two games ahead of Houston. The Cubs qualify as "streaking" right now, sweeping the Nationals and Cincinnati (8-2) since the All-Star Break, and have won four straight, outscoring opponents in those eight wins 54-26.

Wandy Rodriguez
In order to gain any ground on the Cubs, the Astros are going to have to (obviously) take two of the three games, and the rotation is set up to do just that (read: no Moehler/Ortiz). A win tonight out of Wandy and he will have achieved a career-high for wins, with 11.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/8 vPIT95/011:110/9125/85
7/16 @LA65/06:27/9108/68
7/21 vStL74/15:06/14104/71


Vs Chicago - 2009:





Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
4/7 vCHC64/14:38/789/52
6/10 vCHC75/16:28/11116/70


Of course both of those games were no decisions, but the Astros went on to win both games. So...
vs. CHC (career): 4-4, 4.09 ERA/1.38 WHIP, 72.2IP, 75H/33ER, 50K:25BB
@ Wrigley: 1-3, 8.25 ERA/1.92 WHIP, 24IP, 26H/22ER, 18K:10BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 91x361, .252/.318/.399, 90K:33BB
vs Lefties: 22x102, .216/.279/.314, 27K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (45): .378/.378/.511, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (265): .194/.233/.263, 80K:11BB
After First-Pitch Balls (204): .281/.394/.515, 37K:31BB

RISP: 26x101, .257/.325/.366, 26K:9BB
Runners on: 48x179, .268/.342/.358, 39K:18BB
2OwRISP: 13x50, .260/.351/.380, 15K:5BB

Carlos Zambrano

And the Astros face the guy they love to hate, Carlos Zambrano - aka Big Angry Z

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
7/12 vStL65/37:24/1294/56
7/17 @WAS54/06:48/5113/64
7/22 @PHI6.210/47:38/14115/73


Vs Houston - 2009:





Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
4/6 @HOU65/16:36/997/59
6/10 @HOU83/13:213/10104/64


vs. HOU (career): 13-7, 2.59 ERA/1.10 WHIP, 180.2IP, 121H/52ER, 160K:78BB
Career @ Wrigley: 46-36, 3.61 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 765.2IP, 652H/307ER, 642K:325BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 52x230, .226/.294/.348, 54K:21BB
vs Lefties: 52x192, .271/.374/.354, 41K:29BB

When swinging at the first pitch (63): .254/.267/.373, 3XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (228): .222/.276/.290, 64K:14BB
After First-Pitch Balls (198): .276/.416/.423, 31K:26BB

RISP: 23x118, .195/.288/.288, 24K:14BB
Runners on: 51x200, .255/.323/.380, 40K:19BB
2OwRISP: 8x48, .167/.298/.292, 12K:8BB

Chicago Now is funny

They have this thing where you respond with a hashtag on Twitter to a series of questions.

One of those questions is: The Astros are in town. How can you spot their fans?

Some of the responses so far?

-One word: Asstros
-Looking around saying, "wow, so this is what a REAL big city is like"
-astros fans ride the horse instead of sitting in the carriage around mag(nificent) mile.
-their obsessive consumption of nachos!
-The ever present look of 4th place!


More as they come in. But (/furious shaking)

Transaction time!

Some transactions over the weekend:

July 24
Lancaster released pitcher Reid Kelly

July 25
Lancaster placed 3B David Flores on 7-Day DL, retroactive to July 23
Lancaster signed free agent RHP Thomas Fairchild

July 26
Pitcher Douglas Arguello assigned to Tri-City

July 27
J.R. Towles placed on 7-Day DL, retroactive to July 26
Brian Esposito recalled to Round Rock

Reid Kelly was 2-1 with two saves for Lancaster this season. Final line:
43IP, 50H/25ER, 43K:13BB, 5.23 ERA/1.47 WHIP

Tom Fairchild spent 2005-2008 in the Astros organization, compiling a 19-22 record in 73 games and was a 2006 South Atlantic League All-Star.

If you like Miguel Tejada as a person, then you have no love or respect in your heart

So saith the Houston Press.

I'm sure that Tejada was born into, and escaped from, some pretty miserable circumstances. And I'm sure he's done a lot for the people from the Dominican Republic, but then again, lots of major leaguers from the Dominican Republic have done lots of good for the island. So that doesn't really make Tejada more exceptional than anybody else.


But what bugged me most about this deification is the simple fact that Tejada's a convicted liar. Which is also one thing I can't understand about his popularity here in Houston. The guy's been found to have lied about his age, and he lied on government documents when it came to that age. And he lied about his age for a large number of years until he was finally outed by ESPN -- I also still can't quite understand why ESPN was the bad guy for discovering the truth.


Let's not forget that Tejada was convicted earlier this year for lying to Congress as part of the Congressional investigation into steroids and HGH. Tejada wasn't convicted for lying about his usage of HGH, but was convicted for lying about what he knew about its use in baseball. And Tejada admitted to having purchased $6,000 in HGH, but in a lie that would make Bill Clinton's "smoked but didn't inhale" and George W. Bush's "WMD in Iraq" lies look well-thought out, Tejada claimed that he didn't actually use the HGH, though he did pay for it, and he did receive the HGH.


Despite this, Tejada is seen as a pillar of the Astros, and the community.

How do you beat the Astros? One (compound) word: call-ups

Notes from Zachary Levine this morning detailing the gentlemanly way of the Astros' offense boosting the confidence of young pitchers (i.e., Ryan Sadowski, Jon Niese).

Coop:
“With a new guy, sometimes looking at the video doesn't help. Sometimes, even facing him once or twice doesn't help. You just need to see him for a while.”

Levine notes that the Astros are 4-5 against pitchers who have made 10 or fewer career appearances (but the Astros have gone off on a couple of other pitchers who fall in that category).

-

Expect to see Chris Sampson in a limited role until he becomes readjusted to Major League life...

Coop:
“Any time you bring a guy off the table, you don't want to stick him back in those high-pressure situations. He'll be a one-, maybe two-inning guy, but certainly not in the seventh or eighth inning at crunch time.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Cubs have a big night coming on Tuesday

And it's not just the game against the Astros. They're making themselves pretty.

The Wall Street Journal:
While the Astros and the Cubs are neck-and-neck in the National League Central, there will be a lot more on the line at their game Tuesday than the race for a division championship. Bankers from J.P. Morgan Chase are hosting representatives of leading financial institutions at the game in an effort to syndicate about $450 million in loans that JPM, Citigroup and Bank of America are underwriting as part of financier Tom Ricketts' efforts to buy the Cubs for nearly $900 million. Once the financing is complete, the Tribune Co., which has filed for bankruptcy and owns the Cubs, can submit the deal to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval.

So what would be the funniest way to mess it up. Your comments are now solicited...

LaHawk to get MRI

From Brian McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins did not join the Astros on the trip to Chicago on Sunday, and will have an MRI on his back.

Wade:
"He's been pitching with an upper back strain and shingles. We just want to see if the discomfort is a strain or a side effect of the shingles. He has been pitching with this for awhile."

LaHawk is expected to join the team in time for Monday night's game.

Recap for G98 - Mets @ Astros

The back end of the rotation is going to have to do more than that. The Astros blew an early 3-run lead and a good little streak of wins (6 of 8) before running into the Buzzsaw formerly known as the New York Mets, losing - once again - 8-3 today at Minute Maid Park. The only good news of today is that the Cardinals got the piss kicked out of them again against the Phillies. Still, the Astros should be winning these types of games, against - I'm sorry, but it's true - a mediocre Mets team with ten players on the DL.

Despite the early lead, Moehler didn't make it out of the 5th, and then Arias came crashing back to earth. Here's the thing:

Moehler: 4.2IP, 8H/5ER, 2K:2BB, 15/25 first-pitch strikes, 20/57 non-contact strikes (17 called:3 swinging)
Wright: 0.1IP, 1K, 0/1 FPS, 3/3 NCS (2c:1s)
Fulchino: 2IP, 1K, 3/6 FPS, 5/14 NCS (3c:2s)
Arias: 2IP, 5H/3ER, 2K, 7/10 FPS, 8/22 NCS (7c:1s)

So yeah, not a good outing, and the Astros will need more out of Ortiz and Moehler to keep this interesting for much longer. This week is a brand-new week, however, with games against the Cubs and Cardinals. Still, the last two games were pretty bad.

The only offense came from 3-4-5 of Lee, Blum, and Pence, who combined for a 7x12 night - Lee getting three hits. Coste pitched in with a single, as did Tejada and a pinch-hit from Matt Kata (his second in two games). But add two baserunning outs - Blum thrown out at home, Pence thrown out at second, both in the first inning - and that's How to Kill a Rally 101.

Man of the Match: Carlos Lee, I guess. 3x4 with an RBI.

Goat of the Game: This one's going not to Brian Moehler, but to Pudge. 0x1 with RISP, 0x4 with 3Ks and an error.

Eddie's Farm: July 25

Round Rock
Reggie Abercrombie accounted for three of the Express' seven hits, and Yorman Bazardo went off in a 4-2 win over Omaha. Lou Santangelo got a 2-run double as a replacement for J.R. Towles, but the story was Bazardo. 8IP, 5H/1ER, 3K:1BB, and his 9th win of the season, lowering his ERA to 2.76. Casey Daigle walked two, and allowed a run, but got his 3rd save of the season.

Corpus
The Hooks scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th, providing the difference in a 5-3 win over Frisco. Collin DeLome was 3x4 with an RBI, and Mark Ori was 2x4 with 2RBI in the win. Sergio Perez threw 7IP, 4H/2ER, 3K:2BB, and Doug Brocail got his first win with 1IP, 2H/0ER in the rehab appearance.

Lancaster
Koby Clemens was 4x4 with two doubles and two RBI, while Brandon Barnes was 3x4. However, Marcos Cabral accounted for the only two other hits by JetHawk hitters in an 8-4 loss to High Desert. Bryan Hallberg went 2IP, 4H/3ER while Shane Wolf got the loss with 4IP, 7H/5ER, 1K:3BB. Chris Salamida threw 2IP of scoreless relief, striking out three.

Lexington
Mmm. A 7-2 loss to Lake County. Andrew Simunic was 3x4, Jeff Hulett was 2x4, and Chris Jackson was 1x5 for all the hits. Jordan Lyles had a rough day with 5IP, 8H/6ER, 4K:3BB, and dropped his record to 5-9 despite a 3.61 ERA. Kyle Godfrey, Henry Villar, and Pat Urckfitz threw 4IP of earned-runless baseball. Godfrey's ERA is now 1.54.

Tri-City
At the annual New York-Penn League game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend, the ValleyCats dropped the game to Oneonta 7-4. Despite 11 hits, none were for extra bases, though Brian Kemp, Erik Castro, J.D. Martinez, and Russell Dixon had two hits each. Jake Goebbert got a 2-run single with Castro and Martinez getting the two other RBI. Colton Pitkin got the loss with 5IP, 5H/4ER (5 total), 1K:3BB. He's now 2-5 with a 2.75 ERA.

Greeneville
Doubleheader with Burlington, and it wasn't pretty.
Game 1: A 9-1 loss, where Burlington scored seven runs in the 7th and 8th innings. Kyle Miller and Nathan Metroka had two hits each, but Kyle Miller's run was unearned.

Game 2: An 11-6 loss, where Greeneville only had four hits (but

From JetHawk to RedHawk

After being released by the Astros, Lancaster pitcher Jeff Icenogle has signed a contract with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. But that's not the most interesting part of the article. Regard:

The Houston Astros thought different and signed him as a 22-year-old in 2007. It was too good of a story to be true; the great-grandson of Academy Award-winning actor Ed Begley Sr. who thought his career was done because of arm troubles.

Hang on. He's Ed Begley Jr's grandson?

“That’s all true,” he said.

Good luck to him.

The Astros are in the importing/exporting business. But mostly importing.

New article from MLB.com detailing home-grown talent on Major League rosters. Where do the Astros rank? Oh, I think you know. Not only dead last in the National League with 16%, but dead last in all of baseball. And not by a little, either. Next closest are the Royals and Nationals, with 20% of their roster coming up from the minors.

Einertson: Baseball is hard

Nice little profile on the Hooks' Mitch Einertson from his hometown paper.

“I've never felt like it was easy. You hit .400 in high school, but you come out here and everyone who was good around the world is who you're facing.”

But Ricky Bennett says this:
“He's still a young, developing player. He's continuing to make progress offensively and defensively. This is a really big year for Mitch in his second year at Corpus Christi. We're looking for him maybe to advance to Triple-A next year with the outfield talent we've got coming up behind him.”

Pointing out that Einertson is not only blocked by Lee, Bourn, and Pence, but also by Yordany and Bogusevic, it's not going to be an easy climb. That said, Einertson:
"I still feel like I'm in a good spot at my age. I still feel like (the Astros) like me, and they're giving me the opportunity to play."

Notes: Paronto out

As expected, Chad Paronto was optioned back to Round Rock to clear room for Chris Sampson who is now back from the DL.

So Sampson, how do you feel?
“I feel all right. It's a little sore, but I haven't really been on the mound facing hitters for a couple weeks, so that's to be expected."

And we also see that Jason Castro has been named on the Team USA roster of the 2009 IBAF World Cup.

Ortiz' walks in G97

Ortiz:
“I actually felt great. The thing I’m most frustrated about is that there were a couple guys I walked where I was ahead in the count or in good counts. Sometimes I don’t mind walks, but that’s just frustrating. That can’t happen.”

The link above takes you to a quick look at how Ortiz' walks impacted his outing, but let's look again...

Walk #1, to Luis Castillo: T1st, 0 out, Angel Pagan on first. Five pitches. Later scored on Jeff Francoeur's sac fly. Two runs score with 2 outs.

Walk #2, to David Wright: T3rd, 1 out, Six pitches. No runs scored.

Walk #3, to Cory Sullivan: T4th, 0 out, leadoff batter. Down 0-2, four foul-offs, walked on 10 pitches. Later scored on Alex Cora's GIDP.

Walk #4, to David Wright: T5th, 1 out, Castillo on 1st. 2-2 count, five foul-offs, Wright and Castillo later scored on Francoeur's three-run homerun. Three runs scored with 2 outs.

So four walks led to five Mets runs being scored with 2 outs, three of the four walked batters came around to score.