Saturday, August 8, 2009

Biz of Baseball on Einertson

A piece from the Biz of Baseball as they spell out what, exactly, MLB considers a "drug of abuse":

Drugs of abuse are classified as:

1. Cocaine
2. LSD
3. Marijuana
4. Opiates (e.g., Heroin, Codeine, Morphine)
5. MDMA (“Ecstasy”)
6. GHB; and
7. Phencyclidine (“PCP”)

Matchup for G110 - Brewers @ Astros

Mike Hampton
Hampton pitched his best game since July 6 his last time out in the lone win against the Giants that series. What will he do? So far in 2009, he has followed up a quality start with another quality start three out of the six times.

Last three starts:

7/24 vNYM5.28/47:48/8101/64
7/29 @CHI48/91:46/1379/46
8/3 vSF68/1 (2 tot)6:214/5103/65

There's some hope here in that last start. His 12 swinging strikes were the highest since his second start of the season at Pittsburgh. His 29 non-contact strikes were the highest since June 30 at San Diego. He won both of those games.

2009 vs Milwaukee: 0-0 (2 starts), 5.40 ERA/1.70 WHIP, 10IP, 8K:6BB
Career vs Milwaukee: 4-2, 3.16 ERA/1.38 WHIP, 85.1IP, 87K:62BB
2009 @ Minute Maid: 4-3 (10 starts), 4.66 ERA/1.59 WHIP, 56IP, 39K:22BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .307/.386/.462, 43K:39BB
vs Lefties: .250/.282/.438, 28K:5BB

When swinging at the first pitch (56): .362/.347/.723, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (217): .286/.316/.438, 47K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (187): .282/.419/.396, 24K:36BB

RISP: 33x102, .324/.398/.520, 21K:16BB
Runners on: 54x169, .320/.403/.521, 35K:27BB
2OwRISP: 20x51, .392/.475/.647, 8K:8BB

Manny Parra

Manny Parra will be taking the mount, and he hasn't taken a loss since coming back from a short spell in Nashville on July 9, a streak of three wins and two no decisions.

Last three appearances:

7/24 vATL510/43:39/12106/63
7/29 vWAS69/57:59/11113/73
8/3 @LA88/44:116/11102/65

vs. HOU (2009): 0-1, 1.80 ERA/1.60 WHIP, 5IP, 5H/1ER, 4K:3BB
vs. HOU (career): 3-3, 4.88 ERA/1.88 WHIP, 31.1IP, 42H/17ER, 23K:17BB
@ Minute Maid (car): 1-2, 6.91 ERA/2.16 WHIP, 24H/11ER, 10K:7BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .301/.378/.479, 62K:38BB
vs Lefties: .287/.394/.379, 20K:16BB

When swinging at the first pitch (48): .370/.362/.413, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (209): .318/.349/.490, 57K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (199): .250/.421/.428, 25K:44BB

RISP: 28x105, .267/.378/.438, 22K:19BB
Runners on: 55x189, .291/.379/.455, 40K:27BB
2OwRISP: 11x50, .220/.361/.340, 12K:11BB

My Night at the MMPark

Last night, I had the oppurtunity to go watch the Bud Norris face off with the Brewers in real life. My impressions of our cocky young fireballer went as such:
1. Holy smoke, he throws hard. He has a short, compact delivery making his release point pretty far back compared to the taller pitchers. That being said, the ball gets to the plate deceptively quick and gives the pitches longer breaks. Hence, a great riding fastball.
2. The Brews were struggling to make adjustments and looked slow to react on the slider. Braun locked in on his in the first, and smashed it. Besides that, there were no good hacks on his #2 pitch.
3. He is effectively wild. Yes, he walked a few guys (Counsell twice? Unacceptable) right in front of the big hitters, but luckily went unharmed. He throws enough balls, that batters are not being aggressive.
4. He is basically a 2 pitch guy at this point. I only remember one good change all night.
5. INSIDE DIRT: During Spring Training, the vets wanted to strangle him for acting like a real life Ebby Calvin Nuke LaLoosh. Its funny to hear a guy got sent out because he was being a conceited d!ck. He's been better since being called up evidently.

So for his early sucess to continue, he needs (IMO) to keep working on his change, keep working quick, and listen to and copy every freaking thing RoyO says and does. He has the goods to be a #1 or #2 guy for a long time. I hope he doesn't take sucess for granted, because his book is being put together every time he takes the hill. He'd better understand Prince Fielder will have a better idea next time he sees him.


Corpus reaction to Einertson

Good article in the Corpus paper today on Mitch Einertson's suspension.

Ricky Bennett wouldn't specify exactly what the "drug of abuse" was, citing confidentiality agreements.

Bennett said Einertson was notified of the suspension during the Hooks’ recent series in San Antonio. Einertson’s Whataburger Field locker was cleared out Friday and he was not at the ballpark.

“He didn’t say a lot,” Bennett said of Einertson’s reaction to the news. “He was pretty quiet. He didn’t have a much of a reaction one way or the other.”

“When I heard the news, I was obviously disappointed, not only for Mitch but for what he’s going through. He was making a lot of progress and to lose 50 games is disappointing to hear. He clearly understands that Major League Baseball has a program that’s in place and we have to support that program.”
“At some point next season, when he’s closer to being reinstated, we’ll sit down, evaluate the situation and make decision on what we’re going to do at that point,” Bennett said.

In 2005, Einertson missed part of the season due to "personal issues."

Einertson was replaced by 2007 team MVP Ray Sadler, who was released by the Rays on August 1.


This is an unfortunate situation, and this link takes you back to a July 26 article in which Ricky Bennett explained Eintertson's future:
"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.”

Man, the Express are going to suck

Shortly after calling up Bud Norris, the Astros have summoned Yorman Bazardo to the big league club in an effort to stick it to Nolan Ryan and Round Rock, presumably for Ryan's involvement with the Rangers. (I made that up).

Now Ed Wade on August 1 said Bazardo wouldn't be coming up, because he's out of options, meaning he has to clear waivers to go back to Round Rock. And the Mets are always looking for minor league pitching.

But now that's out the window, meaning that Bazardo is here to stay. Felipe Paulino was sent down to clear room for Bazardo:

Ed Wade:
We were trying to find an opportunity that made sense so that we weren’t making a short-term move that could cost us in the long run by virtue of the fact of us having to ask waivers to outright him to get him back to Triple-A to make room for somebody else. And unfortunately with Brocail’s arm issue at this point in time we don’t foresee Doug back before September. So the long-term slot has opened. And that being the case we’ll get this kid out here and see how he performs with the upper deck in the ballpark and the big league environment. Hopefully we’ll see the same thing we saw over the course of the season in Round Rock.”

So Bazardo is likely here to stay and will even likelier compete for a rotation slot next Spring. In 135 innings at Round Rock, Bazardo was 9-6 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He did relieve in three games, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He should fare well for Houston, getting groundballs at a 1.75:1 ratio.

Oh, and Paulino wasn't happy:
“It was expected. I was up because Oswalt was hurt. Now I have to wait to get a real chance again.”

News and Notes

News and notes this morning, quicklike:

-Berkman was eligible to come off the DL yesterday, but wasn't cleared to even run, and won't be activated until at least early next week.
“I thought I was going to (run), but they told me they didn't want me to run for a couple of days or at least another day. I think they want me to do some lighter stuff and see how it responds. I think I could definitely play right now.

-Brocail back on the DL with an iffy shoulder.
“It should have been built up by now because as soon as I could start throwing I started throwing and played long toss.”

-Wandy is ready for Sunday, and provided one of the most unintentionally amusing quotes since Doug Brocail's "hump up" drop:
“I'm ready for Sunday, brothers. Today I threw about 40 or 45 pitches, and I feel great.”

-Oswalt should be ready for Tuesday. He threw a bullpen yesterday, will throw a more intense bullpen session on Sunday, and see if he's ready to go against the Marlins.

Recap for G109 - Brewers at Astros

The Troof has set us free. Bud Norris threw six strong innings and the Astros got some clutch hits from Jason, The Line Drive of Love, Michaels in a 6-3 win over the Brewers. Bud threw strikes three times to seven Brewers in the lineup, at least one every inning.

Norris: 6IP, 3H/2ER, 7K:5BB, 15/25 first-pitch strikes, 36 non-contact strikes (22 called:14 swinging)
Sampson: 0.2IP, 3H/1ER, 2K, 3/5 FPS, 5/12 NCS (3c:2s)
Byrdak: 0IP, 1BB, 1/1 FPS, 0 NCS
Fulchino: 1.1IP, 1H, 2K, 4/5 FPS, 8/13 NCS (5c:3s)
Valverde: 1IP, 1H, 1K, 1/3 FPS, 6/8 NCS (5c:1s)

It could have been ugly in the first. Norris walked Craig Counsell and gave up a Ryan Braun double to left. Counsell ended the play by foolishly running on Carlos Lee and getting nailed at home. Norris then settled in and got the next seven batters in a row. Things got a little hairy in the 4th/5th, when Counsell and Cameron walked, but got Frank Catalanotto to end the 4th. And then in the 5th when J.J. Hardy walked to leadoff the inning and then Jason Kendall gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead wih a homer to left. Anyhow, three of Norris' strikeouts ended the inning.

Reliever of the night is Jeff Fulchino, who came in and got four outs, and had to pick up Byrdak's walked batter.

Offensively, the Astros were aggressive, didn't take many pitches - 104 pitches in 33 plate appearances - but had it going on. Nine hits, two hits from four players - Tejada, Lee, Blum, and Michaels. Five of the Astros' six runs came on homers: Four RBI on two homers from Michaels (who raised his season RBI total from 9 to 13) and a Tejada solo shot, and a slightly different set of five runs came with two outs. Even Erstad came through with an RBI single after being activated from the DL.

But it wouldn't be a game without an Astros baserunning mistake. Carlos Lee was thrown out stretching a single into a double.

Pitch Count Hero: Erstad - 14 pitches in 3 PAs. Although, to be fair, Bud Norris can get a nod as he took 11 pitches in 2 PAs.

Pitch Count Punk: Matsui and Blum - 10 pitches in 4 PAs.

Man of the Match: Jason Michaels. Playing in place of Michael Bourn, comes up with 4RBIs.

Goat of the Game: Kaz Matsui. Leadoff man goes 0x4 and only sees 10 pitches.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wade, on Einertson

"I don't know what more we can do to make sure these kids are aware that they have to be clean and stay clean and that the testing program is here for a purpose," Wade said. "There's a punitive mechanism in place here, and for him to fail a couple of tests to get to the point of being suspended for 50 games is disappointing.

"I'm hoping not only he learns the lesson, but any other kids learn the lesson that if you're not going to follow the rules, you're going to get suspended."

Brocail back on DL

Brocail to DL with shoulder strain, Astros activate Erstad.

Einertson link

Mitch Einertson suspended

Corpus' Mitch Einertson has been suspended 50 games for a second violation of a drug of abuse. I'm working on a link, but I got it from an MLB press release. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it happily.

I was wondering the exact same thing

Remember back a few years ago - I want to say it was 2004 - when the Astros were lollygagging around, and then in a game against the Expos, they got into a fight, and it sparked something and the Astros won 35 of their last 45 games?

I think Jon Gadbois might be on to something, with the exact same thing for the Brewers. Prince Fielder wants to kill somebody, and if he wasn't a vegetarian, he would eat their throat. Will Prince's maniacal outburst provide that spark?

Tanner Bushue update

Yesterday, Astros County linked to a WJBD report that Astros 2nd Round pick Tanner Bushue was shut down because of "a couple" of stress fractures in his back.

Today, Zachary Levine is tweeting:
Astros 2nd-rounder Tanner Bushue will see a back specialist next week. Astros don't know much but he's been shut down.

More as this develops. And that's how you give some credit where credit is due.

Matchup for G109 - Brewers @ Astros

The Brewers come into this weekend series 54-54, four games back of the Cubs and one game up on the Astros. They're coming off a series in Los Angeles in which they took two of three from the Dodgers, yet were outscored 23-14 (a 17-4 loss will do that, though). The Brewers are 9-11 since the All-Star Break.

The Astros are 53-55, and have lost 9 of 12 since getting our hopes up by sweeping the Cardinals. In those 12 games, the Astros have been outscored 43-85.

The Brewers and Astros have met up six times already this season, with a 4-2 advantage going to the visiting team as all six of those games were in Houston. Three of them were one-run affairs (Astros going 1-2), and five of the six have been decided by two runs or fewer (Astros 2-3).

Bud Norris
The Troof! Bud Norris makes his home debut this evening (Deputy Jason will be in attendance, and will provide some commentary this weekend) as Astros fans grasp at anything tangible to get excited about. It'll be interesting to see the attendance for tonight.

Last two appearances:

7/29 @CHI33/14:11/752/33
8/2 @StL72/05:49/991/55

Second career start for the Troof, so we have a very limited sample to deal with. Nevertheless, let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .143/.240/.190, 4K:3BB
vs Lefties: .154/.267/.154, 5K:2BB

When swinging at the first pitch (5): .000/.000/.000, 0XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (20): .111/.150/.111, 7K:1BB
After First-Pitch Balls (15): .273/.467/.364, 2K:4BB

RISP: 1x7, .143/.125/.143, 4K:0BB
Runners on: 2x14, .143/.188/.143, 5K:1BB
2OwRISP: 0x3, .000/.000/.000, 3K:0BB

Carlos Villanueva

Villanueva will be making his third start, and 46th appearance, for the Brewers tonight. He's 2-8 with a 5.98 ERA coming in.

Last three appearances:

7/24 vATL11/10:025/152/2
7/28 vWAS48/52:110/767/47
8/2 @SD52/03:45/779/47

Villanueva, as you can see from his aforementioned stats, has had a little bit of a rough go of it. He's had five blown saves, and hasn't factored on the pleasant end of a decision since May 25. But bless those Brewers' hearts, they keep running him out there. And last game it paid off, though he didn't get the win. That was the first game Villanueva has pitched in that the Brewers have won since July 4 (seven games)

vs. HOU (2009): 1-1, 3.00 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 15IP, 12H/5ER, 14K:6BB
vs. HOU (career): 1-2 (14 games), 3.56 ERA/1.12 WHIP, 30.1IP, 26H/12ER, 32K:8BB
@ Minute Maid (car): 0-2 (7 games), 6.91 ERA/1.61 WHIP, 17H/11ER, 15K:6BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .286/.369/.462, 16K:12BB
vs Lefties: .263/.320/.458, 28K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (23): .368/.368/.579, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (110): .240/.282/.346, 29K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (102): .291/.402/.570, 15K:15BB

RISP: 15x50, .300/.435/.560, 7K:12BB
Runners on: 28x83, .337/.427/.590, 14K:13BB
2OwRISP: 6x23, .261/.452/.348, 3K:8BB

Wherefore Art Thou: Carlos Hernandez

Former Astros flamethrower Carlos Hernandez, who looked like he would be a rotation staple with Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller. Wherefore art thou?

Hernandez is in Triple-A Durham. After multiple shoulder injuries for the Astros, and rehabbing with the Zephyrs, Hernandez was out of baseball in 2007. But then the keen eye of Gerry Hunsicker's Tampa Bay Rays signed him in 2008. He played for Single-A Vero Beach last season, and came up to Durham this season.

This season he is 7-6 in 21 starts for Durham with a 3.29 ERA/0.86 WHIP in 112 innings.

Transaction Time

August 5
Tio McLean assigned to GCL Astros from Greeneville
P Scott Migl assigned to Greeneville from Tri-City
3B David Flores activated by Lancaster from 7-Day DL

August 6
P Mike Schurz assigned to Tri-City from GCL Astros

Eddie's Farm: August 6

Round Rock
Tacoma pieced together four one-run innings, and that was enough to beat the Express 4-1. Round Rock collected seven hits, two by Saccomanno and Esposito, with Saccomanno's double as the only XBH. McLemore got the loss, throwing 5IP, 10H/4R (3ER), 1K:4BB, but T.J. Burton, Roy Corcoran, and Chad Paronto threw 4IP of hitless relief (Corcoran did give up a walk as the only blemish in relief).

The Hooks were held to one run on five hits in a 3-1 loss to San Antonio. Drew Locke did what Drew Locke does, and that's get hits - 2x4 with his 26th homer and 101st RBI of the season. Sutil, Van Ostrand, and DeLome got the other hits. Wilton Lopez threw 7IP, 2H/2ER, 4K:1BB.

A day after scoring 431 runs on High Desert, the JetHawks were held to two runs on seven hits in a 4-2 11-inning loss. Shuck and Corrado collected two hits, Marcos Cabral hit a homer, and Koby Clemens was 1x3 with two walks, though Lancaster was 0x10 with RISP. Leandro Cespedes threw 9IP, 5H/0ER (2R), 7K:1BB. The unearned runs came on a Cespedes pickoff error.

Only win for Eddie's Farm last night was from Lexington, with a 10-5 win over Greenville. Steve Brown was 2x5 with a homer and 4 RBI. Pellegrini and Michael Diaz each had two hits, with Pellegrini providing a two-run homer in the 4th. Brad Dydalewicz got his 7th win of the season with 5IP, 5H/4ER, 5K:2BB.

Dallas Keuchel gave up 6H/2ER with 6K:1BB in 6IP, but still got the loss (dropping his record to 0-2 with a 2.12 ERA) in a 2-1 loss to Mahoning Valley. He also picked a Mahoning Valley-er off first. The ValleyCats only got six hits, three from Barry Butera and two from Brian Kemp - who had the lone RBI, scoring Butera. Jorge De Leon had the other hit.

Five Bluefield players had multi-hit games as the Gastros went down 7-4. Catcher Carlos Mojica was 4x4 (seven hits in his last 14 ABs, dating back to July 23), and Ryan Humphrey was 2x4. Our boy Aaron Bray was 0x4 with 1K. Angel Gonzalez gave up 8H/4R (3ER) in 4IP.

Russ Ortiz throws six scoreless in debut

In his minor-league debut with Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Ortiz threw 6IP, 5H/0ER.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m hoping to pitch well and get the opportunity where I can help out the big club in some way. That was my goal coming here. The first three innings, I was trying to find the right groove. After the third inning, I found the groove. The last three innings went a lot smoother. In the end, it’s all about making pitches.”

Maybe the Brewers have the right mindset for the final third of the season.

Interesting set of quotes from McTaggart in a preview of this weekend's series with the Brewers. And I'm beginning to think that complacency is setting in for the Astros.

Let's first examine some nuggets from Milwaukee:
Ryan Braun:
"We're getting to a position where we need to win as many games, as many series, as possible. We can't fall too many more games back with [two] teams ahead of us. Every series from here out is kind of a must-win for us."

Owner Mark Attanasio:
"We're still trying to get a pitcher or two. We still think we're in it. We just have to get on a winning streak. It's possible. Look at the way the Rockies came on [in 2007, when they won 21 of their final 22 regular-season games]. The Astros have done it a couple times this decade. If you can be in position in September, then you see who gets hot. We're still in position right now. We have had plenty of hitting. We just have to get commercially acceptable pitching, and we're going to be hard to beat."

Craig Counsell:
"These wins are huge for us. This is a really big time for us, and I thought we played with some good energy. We beat the best team in the National League in two out of three at their own place. That's big. It's something to get us going."

Now for the Astros.

"I don't think any of us are panicking or freaking out at all."

"It's just not happening for us. We're a little bit short-handed, but we can't use that as an excuse. We have to suck it up and make pitches and get it done. Not a whole lot you can do [as a manager]. Keep encouraging is what you can do. We certainly will do that. We are fighting to stay in it, and we need to have a good streak, that's for sure. I think we've got one in us. I know we do. We have to get people healthy and have consistent starting pitching. They're the ones that carried us to this point anyway, and we need more of that. But good health will be the key."

So who has the appropriate sense of urgency?

Fielder goes guano crazy, doesn't get suspended

Seems like with LaHawk basically saying umpire Mark Everitt wanted the Cubs to win and Prince Fielder going guano crazy and trying to get into the Dodgers clubhouse for getting - ridiculously - plunked in a 17-4 loss, it's getting harder and harder to get yourself suspended.

Fielder was just fined for berserking, and will play this weekend against the Astros.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Get hit in the head = win a $Pile!

For a little while, the Houston Astros were defendants in a lawsuit involving the Albuquerque Isotopes, Dave Matranga, a BP home run, and a fractured skull. Allow SI to set the scene:

Four-year-old Emilio Crespin was with his family at a picnic table in the left field stands (Note: this was in Albuquerque) on July 21, 2003, when Dave Matranga of the New Orleans Zephyrs hit a batting practice home run that fractured the boy's skull.

According to the family's lawyer, Crespin suffered permanent brain damage.

The stadium is owned by the city and operated by the Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

So the family sued the Isotopes for not providing a safe experience. And the City of Albuquerque for not making the Isotopes provide a safe experience. The family also sued Dave Matranga, for hitting a home run. And the Houston Astros, for owning the team that allowed, nay, encouraged Dave Matranga to hit that home run. Anyhow, the Astros were dismissed as defendants. But Albuquerque is still on the hook.

The Crespins say the ballclub was negligent in having people sit in an unprotected area where the placement of tables turns picnickers' attention away from the field and where there are no warning signs or announcements when batting practice begins.

"We send thousands of fans into that picnic area every year,'' Traub said. Church groups, businesses and neighborhood organizations hold picnics before and during games "and it's been tremendously popular with the community.''

"We do our best to run a very safe, family-oriented facility,'' Traub added.

The team's lawyers also argued in court filings that baseball is "a very unique spectator sport.''

"Patrons invite the risk of being hit with a baseball in exchange for an intimate view of the game and the chance to take home a souvenir,'' the lawyers wrote.

Court of Appeals Judge Roderick Kennedy said in his dissent that failure to adopt the "baseball rule'' was a rejection of "nearly one hundred years of American jurisprudence'' and isolates New Mexico from other states.

"While tragic in the extreme, the injuries suffered in this case did not result from any negligence in the conduct of the game or design of the stadium,'' Kennedy wrote.

Depending on where these picnic tables were, a quick ruler measurement on Google Earth puts that homer at 375-415 feet. But I don't know if I've ever thought about going to a game and "inviting the risk" of being hit with a baseball. But I did have a Berkman foul ball hit me in the palm and land in the kid's lap behind me. Of course this was about a week after that guy in Arlington gullet-punched a toddler to get a baseball. So what am I going to do?

Astros sign Creighton pitcher Kirk Clark

Captip to Lee Street for pointing this out:

The Astros have signed Creighton pitcher Kirk Clark, and have assigned him to Tri-City.

He had been pitching this summer for the Glacier Pilots in the Alaska Baseball League, where he was 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA and two saves in 27.2 innings of work, before impressing scouts with his low-90s fastball.

Disaster starts

New stat from Baseball Prospectus: Disaster Starts, quantified by more runs than innings pitched. How do the Astros do in Disaster Starts?

Moehler: Six
Ortiz: Five
Hampton: Four
Wandy: Three
Paulino: Three
Roy: Two

Yep, so that's 23 Disaster Starts in 108 total starts for a Disaster Rate of 21.3%. I'm too depressed to see how this compares to other teams. Anyone else want to do the leg work?

Where do we rank by position vs the NL?

So it's lunch-time, and that means I get curious about the Astros. Today I was wondering where the Astros ranked in OPS by position vs the League. Let's get to it (must qualify at the position):

1B: Lance Berkman, .932, 3rd out of 13 eligible first basemen
Average is down (.273), but his walk rate is pretty incredible. Even with the fewest plate appearances among eligible first basemen, Lance has drawn 69 walks - good enough for 4th most for 1Bs. Only Pujols and Fielder's OPS' are higher.

2B: Kaz Matsui, .651, 11th out of 11 2B with a minimum of 300 plate appearances
Just for comparison's sake, Craig Counsell's OPS is .790.

3B: Geoff Blum, .715, 10th/16 3B with a min of 275PAs
Only Jerry Hairston, Jr and Kevin Kouzmanoff have walked fewer times than Blum in this group.

SS: Miguel Tejada, .811, 4/13
Tejada doesn't walk a whole heck of a lot. In fact, the 29-point difference between his AVG (.322) and OBP (.351) is the second smallest of this lot (Cristian Guzman has a 17-point difference - .314/.331.

LF: Carlos Lee, .869, 5/14
It was surprising for me to see that Lee has only struck out 33 times this season, compared to 31 walks. Only Juan Pierre has struck out fewer times (22), but Pierre's 287 ABs are 116 fewer than Lee's 403.

CF: Michael Bourn, .765, 9/14
Slugging is hardly a fair category for Bourn, but it is what it is. It's worth noting that Bourn's 39 SBs lead all CF by 15, and he has the 4th-most walks in this group.

RF: Hunter Pence, .825, 5/14
Pence trails only Justin Upton for the RF lead in hits (118 to 116). His 41 walks put him squarely in the middle of the pack.

C: Pudge, .667, 8/9
I knew you were waiting for this, but did you expect Jason Kendall to be at the bottom of this list? Kendall is hitting .229 compared to Pudge's .248. But Pudge isn't quite at the bottom of the OBP pile with his .278. That honor goes to Bengie Molina, whose OBP is .272 (and his AVG is .263! Molina has walked exactly six times in 358 ABs.

What do you think?

Tanner Bushue shut down

WJBD Radio is reporting that 2009 2nd Round pick, pitcher Tanner Bushue, has been shut down for the season.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander has been shut down by the Houston Astros organization after being diagnosed with a couple of stress fractures in his spine.

According to Bushue, it was something that just happened. He says the team decided, after discussing with doctors, shutting him down so he wouldn’t more seriously injure himself. Bushue was throwing well for the Gulf Coast League Astros, going 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA. Bushue has struck out more than hits allowed in 22.1 innings pitched the right-hander struck out 19, walked 5 and allowed 18 hits. Bushue is expected to make a full recovery.

2009 Draft Class pitching stats

Building on something Zachary Levine did a while back, I thought we could take this off-day and take us a gander at how the pitchers of the 2009 draft class are faring in their first year of professional ball. Stats are listed for highest classification (for instance, if a pitcher was promoted from GCL to Greeneville, only the Greeneville stats are listed, etc.)


Player (Round) TeamIPERA/WHIPK:BB
Bushue (2)GCL22.12.42/1.0319:5
Hyatt (4)GRN1410.93/2.2911:11
Keuchel (7)TC23.21.90/0.8916:1
Walker (8)TC337.09/1.6725:25
Berner (14)TC510.80/2.403:5
Harper (17)TC69.00/2.173:8
MacDonald (18)TC20.23.05/1.4020:6
Jones (22)GCL11.17.94/2.299:7
Donovan (23)TC156.60/1.8712:13
Modica (24)TC19.10.93/1.1911:6
Smink (30)GRN16.26.48/1.5610:5
Stines (33)TC253.96/1.6012:7
Migl (34)TC8.214.54/3.357:13
Sarisky (40)GRN13.14.73/1.3517:4
Schurz (44)GCL162.25/1.0022:6
Hylander (50)GCL27.13.62/1.0620:7

24th Round pick Mike Modica has the 09 pitching draft class' best ERA with 0.93
7th Round pick Dallas Keuchel has the best WHIP at 0.89
8th Round pick Brandt Walker is your K leader with 25

Eddie's Farm: August 5

Round Rock
Got the piss kicked out of them 8-0 at the hands of the Tacoma Rainiers. Like the Astros, the Express drew no walks, and do much in the way of hitting, either. Abercrombie and Bogusevic each had two hits with Chris Johnson and Yordany providing the other two. Yorman Bazardo threw 5IP, 5H/5ER, 4K:3BB. Josh Muecke gave up 2ER in 2IP.

Andy Van Hekken got his sixth win for the Hooks with a 5-2win. Drew Locke was 4x5 and got his 100th RBI of the season; Nick Moresi (who is human and he wants to be loved...just like everybody else) was 3x4 with an RBI, while Jhon Florentino provided a two-run triple. Wladimir Sutil and a rehabbing Darin Erstad were both 2x5. AVH threw 7IP, 5H/1ER, 2K:3BB, while C-Lo threw 1IP, 1H/1ER and Evan Englebrook closed it out with a scoreless 9th.

By the end of the 2nd, Lancaster had a 13-4 lead, and closed it out with an 18-5 win. Obviously, that means a lot of hits. Jack Shuck was 5x6 with 2RBI, Brandon Barnes was 4x4 with 3RBI. Ebert Rosario hit his 1st homer for Lancaster with a 3x5, 3RBI day. Clemens and Weston were both 3x6 and Cabral and Corrado had two hits each. The JetHawks were 12x23 with RISP in a good old-fashioned nut-thumping. Shane Wolf threw 7IP, 9H/5ER, 8K:3BB.

Brian Pellegrini provided the only RBI as the Legends were shut down by Greenville 3-1. Shortstop Brandon Wikoff got on base more than anybody else with two walks, and he was the only Legend in the lineup with a batting average higher than .295 (now hitting .412). Jordan Lyles' record dropped to 6-10 (with a 3.44 ERA) with 7IP, 7H/3ER, 6K:0BB.

Tri-City dropped another one to Mahoning Valley 5-3. Renzo Tello was 3x4, Erik Castro was 2x4 with an RBI, and Jhonny Medrano hit a two-run homer. Colton Pitkin threw 4IP, 6H/5ER, 3K:3BB. Clark, Schurz, and Modica stopped the bleeding with five scoreless innings in relief.

Greeneville actually had a 7-5 lead going into the 7th. But unfortunately, the game is nine innings long, and Bluefield won 10-7. Our boy Aaron Bray was 2x4 with a double, walk, and an RBI. Kyle Miller posted the same line, and Wilton Infante was 2x5 with a triple. Brutal, though: the Gastros committed four errors leading to five unearned runs. Gabe Garcia threw 3.2IP, 7H/5R (1ER), 4K:0BB, and Jeiler Castillo was charged with the loss with 2IP, 5H/3ER.

GCL Astros
The GCL Marlins threw a 2-hitter and that's a recipe for a 5-0 win. Suniaga and Pedro Feliz got the hits. Ricardo Batista was tagged with the loss after giving up 7H/4ER in 2IP. Garrett Bullock picked up 3IP, 3H/1R (0ER) in relief.

LaHawk can tie his shoes

Word on the progress of LaHawk's case of the shingles:

“It feels good, real good. I can tie my shoes without doubling over in pain or having to bring my shoe to me.”

He played catch yesterday for the third consecutive day, and will throw a bullpen on Friday.
The rotation is set through Monday if need be. With Roy out until Tuesday, this will be your likely rotation:
Friday - Norris
Saturday - Hampton
Sunday - Wandy
Monday - Moehler

This is contingent on Wandy's bullpen session Friday:
“I didn't throw 100 percent, but I feel great. I got another bullpen Friday. On Friday, I'm going to throw 100 percent to see how I feel it. If I feel great, I'll throw Sunday.

Depending on how Roy's bullpen feels after tomorrow, Moehler could be pushed to Tuesday with Roy getting the start on Monday:
“Compared to two days ago, I feel a lot better. I'm more (encouraged) than I was two days ago, big improvement. Maybe I can go Monday or Tuesday, depending on Wandy. So I'll just wait to see how the bullpen goes Friday. I want to throw 100 percent to see where I'm at.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And in the AYFKM category...

Hint: the acronym ends with "Kidding Me?"

The Yankees have signed Russ Ortiz to a minor-league deal. According to Tyler Kepner (link below). So my image of Ortiz staying in the locker room at Wrigley for hours, because when he took off that uniform it would be the last time, wasn't entirely accurate.

Buy your Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Ortiz jerseys now!

Recap for G108 - Giants at Astros

Coming into today's game, the Giants had won three of five against the Astros. And in all three of those wins, they scored 8+ runs. Today was no different, as Brian Moehler and the Astros went down 10-6. Despite jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, Moehler couldn't hold it together, threw some bad pitches, threw one really bad pitch - a meatball for Eli Whiteside who hit his first home run (a grand slam, by the by) to put the Giants up 7-3.

Let's just do the thing:
Moehler: 6IP, 9H/6ER (7 total), 5K:1BB, 18/28 first-pitch strikes, 28/59 non-contact strikes (21 called:7 swinging)
Byrdak: 0.2IP, 1H/1ER, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 5/7 NCS (2c:3s)
Sampson: 0.1IP, 1H, 1K, 2/2 FPS, 5/6 NCS (2c:3s)
Fulchino: 1IP, 1K, 3/3 FPS, 4/9 NCS (2c:2s)
Arias: 1IP, 2H/2ER, 1K, 3/6 FPS, 1/8 NCS (1s)

The Giants were 5x10 with RISP, a fairly remarkable number, and Pablo Sandoval continued to take advantage of Astros pitching with a 3x4 day. After going 22 straight appearances without giving up an earned run, Alberto Arias has now given up 7ER in his last 7IP. On the one hand, though, Moehler was more efficient (at giving up runs), throwing only 89 pitches in six innings. Let's leave it at that, because that looks prettier. Alright, I'll say it. Since throwing 6.1IP scoreless against Washington on July 12, Moehler has given up 9ER in 17.2IP since the All-Star Break (1-1, 1ND).

The Astros did get some hits, a two-run double by Michaels (raising his batting average to .196), and a late two-run homer by Hunter Pence in the 9th. Pence and Lee had two-hit games, and everyone else - including Moehler and pinch-hitter Matt Kata - got a hit. The Astros just couldn't overcome the leaking pitching staff.

Pitch Count Hero: Jeff Keppinger - 26 pitches in 4AB
Pitch Count Punk: Pudge and Michaels - 13 pitches in 4AB.

And hey, the Astros drew a walk! Geoff Blum in the 8th.

Man of the Match: Jeez. I don't even know. Michaels had a pretty piss-poor defensive game, despite a two-run double. Hunter Pence's homer was too little, too late. Just because we don't get the opportunity often, how about Jason Michaels, the Line Drive of Love.

Goat of the Game: Brian Moehler. You have a chance to step up and be a hero in an injury-depleted rotation. And, uh, didn't.

LaHawk fined an undisclosed amount

But his anger is well-disclosed. I wonder if someone can be fined for reacting to a fine.

"I don't think the fine is appropriate. I won't tell you how much I was fined, but it wasn't appropriate. The punishment doesn't fit the crime."

A host of tweets culminates in...

Roy won't be ready until at least Tuesday. He'll throw a bullpen session on Friday and see how it goes.

AC just may have been correct

Wandy is likely to pitch on Sunday. Meaning the series against the Brewers will probably be Norris (ding ding ding!), Hampton, Wandy.


Add Michael Bourn to the list of players out. He came out of the lineup last night because of a sore groin (via Alyson Footer), and now Berkman officially won't be playing this weekend, either.

(cue sound of bathtub draining)

No matchup today

For the second day in a row, there will be no matchup. I've got a busier-than-expected late morning/afternoon, and won't get around to it before G108 starts.

Astros sign Roy Corcoran

On July 25 the Mariners designated 29-year old pitcher Roy Corcoran for assignment. He cleared waivers, and was sent to Triple-A Tacoma. Except he refused his assignment (think Jason Smith). Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times is tweeting that the Astros have signed him.

Corcoran in 16 games for the Mariners this year, posted a 6.16 ERA and a 2.21 WHIP, mainly thanks to a 6K:17BB ratio. He did save three games for the Mariners last year, but walks have been a problem throughout his career. Coming into this season, he had posted 51K:48BB in 66 career appearances.

FanGraphs says that Corcoran has a 92-ish mph fastball with an 82-ish mph curve, and mixes in a 90 mph two-seamer in there occasionally.

Astros: Good; Royals: Better

So saith former Astro minor-leaguer Jordan Parraz, who was traded to Kansas City for Tyler Lumsden in the off-season...

And it looks like the Kansas City Royals made a good decision to trade for him last winter. They dealt pitcher Tyler Lumsden, who struggled for two years with Class AAA Omaha, to Houston for Parraz, who had never played above Class A.

Lumsden since has been demoted to Class AA, where he has a 7.11 ERA. Parraz, meanwhile, rolled through the Class AA Texas League and was promoted to Omaha last week, and will be the Royals' regular right fielder. His overall average of .352 is third best among all minor leaguers, as is his overall on-base percentage of .444.

The trade, he says, was welcome news.

“I didn't think Houston ever really gave me the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “I played every day, but I never got a chance to really move up or get a confidence boost. It's a good organization, but I think this one is a little better — especially for me fitting in.”


Astros name minor league players of the month

And the full report is here:

Round Rock:
Casey Daigle, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Smith (Defensive POM)

Andy Van Hekken, Drew Locke (his third POM of 2009), Jhon Florentino (DPOM)

Leandro Cespedes, Jon Gaston (his third consecutive honor), Marcos Cabral (DPOM)

Pat Urckfitz, Jay Austin, Andy Simunic (DPOM)

J.B. MacDonald, Brian Kemp, Barry Butera (DPOM)

Jose Cisnero, Jose Altuve, Grant Hogue (DPOM)

GCL Astros:
Juan Minaya/Mike Schurz (co-honorees), Enrique Hernandez, Luis Bryan (DPOM)

DSL Astros:
A team that we don't cover much (or at all), but still...
Francisco Baso, Hector Martinez, Mario Gonzalez (DPOM)

Who will take that ball on Friday?

Citizen German posted a comment wondering who would start on Friday against the Brewers. That is a question that has no answer.

ESPN's schedule says Wandy is the guy. So does That probably won't happen, as the Chronicle is saying he's optimistic about Saturday.

So who's it going to be? It surely won't be Roy. Paulino pitched (kind of) last night, so he's unavailable for Friday. I doubt the Astros will reverse course on bringing up Yorman Bazardo for a spot start, as Wade explained he would have to clear waivers to go back to Round Rock. Bud Norris pitched on Sunday, which would give him another start on the fifth day after his last start. I would be surprised if he wasn't given the start at home on Friday.

However, would there be a spot start available from someone else at The Rock? (I don't know the options remaining on these starters, so keep that in mind.)

-Mark McLemore. 3-7 with a 4.24 ERA in 12 starts with a 1.24 WHIP, 42K:22BB. Last pitched on July 31.
-Jose Capellan. 2-9 with a 7.67 ERA in 11 starts. Brutal numbers, but he struggled early in the season, inflating his numbers. He has given up 3ER in his last two starts (11IP), but pitched Monday night.
-Josh Muecke. 5-8 with a 5.04 ERA in 16 starts. 2.66 ERA in his last ten games, and he last pitched on August 1.

This is all completely unfounded speculation, so keep that in mind. I'm going with Norris for Friday, and will scream and cry if The Troof doesn't get the start.

More notes on the sick and afflicted

Some info on our beat-up players.

Optimistic about starting on Saturday, not Friday. He'll throw a bullpen today and know more after that, but his strained right hammy is improving,
I was getting treatment and exercises, and it feels a lot better. The key will be the bullpen because that's when I feel in during my follow-through.”
Probably won't come be ready when he's eligible to come off the DL on Friday.
“I know (having him back) by Friday I'm not too optimistic."
Ed Wade:
"He was sore today after running in the outfield (Monday). We want to make sure it's resolved before he runs back out there and runs the risk of doing something that makes it even longer.”
Feels better than he did on Monday, after throwing off flat ground and being examined by the doctor.
Aaron Boone:
Will play Monday, and Monday only, in a rehab start.
“In a couple of days we'll map out a play (time) schedule. As of right now, just one game on Monday (is set).”
“The plan is to run it out for the full 20 days."
Played five innings for Corpus last night in his first rehab start.

Wandy: NL Pitcher of the Month

Not only did Wandy win Astros County's Employee of the Month for July, but he also won another, less prestigious award, as he was named by Major League Baseball as the National League Pitcher of the Month for July.

Recap for G107 - Giants at Astros

There you go, Felipe. Just confirming everyone's previous hunch about 2009 for you there, buddy. Paulino could have made a strong case for staying in the rotation for a little while. But, uh, he didn't, and the Astros lost 8-1. And then the Astros offense gets four singles off a guy who hasn't won on the road since September 2008 and had a 6.33 road ERA.

Paulino: 4.1IP, 9H/5ER, 2K:2BB, 17/24 First-Pitch Strikes, 18/53 non-contact strikes (12 called:6 swinging)
Brocail: 0.2IP, 2H, 1K, 1/4 FPS, 3/7 NCS (1c:2s)
Wright: 3IP, 5H/3ER, 1K:1BB, 12/14 FPS, 10/32 NCS (6c:4s)
Byrdak: 1IP, 2K:1BB, 3/4 FPS, 6/9 NCS (2c:4s)

It's going to take the rest of this post for me to figure out who gets the Goat. Paulino was pretty bad, but Wesley Wright was just brutal, giving up two homers in the 6th to Freddy Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval. Wright's ERA is now 6.11. He has given up 7 homers this season, all to righties, and that's four homers in his last seven appearances.

The Astros only took 129 pitches in 34 plate appearances. That's bad, too. Pitch Count Hero was Jeff Keppinger, who saw 24 of those pitches in his 4 PAs (and struck out for just the 21st time this season). Pitch Count Punk was Hunter Pence, who took 7 pitches in his 4 PAs. The Astros were 1x8 with RISP and grounded into two double plays.

Man of the Match: Jeff Keppinger. 2x4 means Keppinger got a third of the Astros hits, and he saw the most pitches.

Goat of the Game: Wright is certainly deserving, as is the entire Astro offense. However, Wright didn't lose the game, and Paulino didn't make it out of the 5th.

Eddie's Farm: August 4

Round Rock
Nice shutout for the Express in a 4-0 win over Oklahoma City last night. Manzella, Yordany, and Maysonet had two hits each, with Brian Esposito providing two RBI. Erick Abreu threw 5.2IP, 7H/0ER, 5K:2BB while Gervacio and Paronto threw the last 3.1IP, and didn't give up a hit.

Corpus enjoyed a 4-run first inning, and while San Antonio got two back in the bottom of the first, Corpus cruised to an 8-3 win. Patience was the virtue as all eight runs scored on only eight hits, but the Hooks drew ten walks. Or, a month's worth for the Astros. Drew Meyer had five RBI on a two-run single and a three-run homer. Sergio Perez threw 5IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:2BB; Danny Meszaros and Charlie Weatherby III thre the final 4IP.

The JetHawks jumped all over High Desert, and won 10-1. Every JetHawk had a hit. Clemens got a two-run single, while Matt Weston, Brandon Barnes (3RBI), and Ronald Ramirez had two hits each. Chris Salamida ran his record to 3-0 with 6IP, 7H/1ER, 5K:0BB.

Exciting game in Lexington last night. Greenville took a 1-0 lead in the first, Lexington got it back in the 4th. Greenville took a 2-1 lead in the 6th, Lexington got it back in the 8th. Then went up 3-2 in the 9th, and gave it up in the bottom of the 9th and then lost in the bottom of the 10th 4-3. Albert Cartwright was 3x5, Brandon Wikoff was 2x5 (and is hitting .438 since coming up from Tri-City). Kyle Greenwalt threw 7IP, 6H/2ER, 5K:1BB. Godfrey and Villar threw 2.1, giving up 3H/2ER, with Villar getting the loss.

Mahoning Valley scored six of their seven runs after the 5th inning, defeating Tri-City 7-4. Nick Stanley was 4x4, Russell Dixon 3x5, and Jake Goebbert had two doubles on the night. Brandt Walker threw 5.2IP, 5H/3ER, 5K:3BB. Max Fearnow threw 0.2IP, 3H/3ER, 0K:1BB and Brendan Stines threw 2.2IP, 2H/1ER, 3K:1BB.

Greeneville pitcher Murillo Gouvea gave up a run in the 9th, and Bluefield defeated the Gastros 3-2. Frank Almonte was 2x4 with an RBI, and Bubby Williams had an RBI, as well. Juri Perez threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 7K:0BB. B.J. Hyatt made a scoreless appearance in relief, and the aforementioned Gouvea gave up the 1ER in 3IP. Our boy Aaron Bray was 0x3 with a strikeout.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Roger Clemens!

Today Roger Clemens turns 47! Be sure to tap a syringe, and throw your wife under the bus, and call your best friend a liar in honor.

Promotions few, far between, unless someone gets hurt. And this is the Astros we're talking about, know...

Ricky Bennett says the players on the minor league rosters are pretty much staying put this season.
“We've made most of our moves. There may be one or two more moves toward the end of the season from a promotion standpoint that we may look to do. But generally speaking, our players are where they need to be, and I want them to settle in and finish on a good note and look toward next year.”

On Koby Clemens, on playing just about everywhere except Hot Dog Vendor:
“I think it will increase his value. He's a baseball player, and that's what we like about Koby. It doesn't matter where he plays; he just wants to be in the lineup every day. This year being his second year in High A ball, he's really putting it together. I think he's really understanding how to use his hands, and he has a much better approach using the whole field that's really helping him.”
We also find out 1st round pick Jiovanni Mier got drilled on the hand for Greeneville. X-rays were negative, and he'll be back in the lineup mid-week.

Meat Wagon posts its schedule

The Meat Wagon, aka: The Long List of Injuries, has posted a new schedule.

Roy, who will not pitch tonight:
“I thought I'd feel a little bit better. I felt pretty decent (Sunday) through (a) flat-ground (session). We'll have to see what happens Wednesday. I'm not 100 percent. It just doesn't feel good. It feels like if I let it go, (the back) is not going to hold.”

When asked to put a percentage on himself:
“Not good.” I guess the "%" is implied.
Berkman is optimistic about coming off the DL on Friday:
“I feel pretty good. I definitely still feel the injury, but it's not as sharp as it was. I think it's making some progress.”
Erstad will be a Hook today for a quick rehab assignment
Sammy Gervacio had a quick cup of coffee and has been optioned back to Round Rock to clear room for Felipe Paulino.
And Wandy now "isn't sure" he'll start on Friday, as expected.

Baseball is a simple game of mathematics, except for the Astros

The Unofficial Scorer posted a blog on how, for the Astros, the sum > parts:

The fact that they've been outscored by 48 runs, which, using the standard "Pythagorean" estimation, should put them at 48-58 through 106 games... The fact that they came into Monday 14th in the league in OPS at catcher and 12th at second base and third base... The fact that they came in 13th in runs per game and tied for 10th in ERA... The fact that three of the six primary starters they used pitched below replacement level... The fact that they're the oldest team in baseball and lost their closer for 41 games and now their best hitter for a couple weeks.

All this on a team whose preseason statistical projection (PECOTA) was a win total in the mid-60s.

So something must have gone right. Michael Bourn and Wandy Rodriguez have been pleasant surprises, as has, to a lesser extent, Miguel Tejada.

But for the second straight year, the numbers don't quite add up, and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

This will drive Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law kerrrazzzzy!

Justice, who is also dumbstruck by Pudge's lack of productivity, lobbies for Towles

Richard Justice is also wearied by Pudge.

The Astros are getting almost nothing from their catchers. They're 10th in the National League in batting average, 15th in OBP, 14th in OPS, ninth in doubles and eighth in home runs.

Pudge Rodriguez, bless his heart, appears to be about out of gas. He has caught 2,254 games, more than any man in history. He's also 37 years old and looks like a guy that could use a lot more days off than he's now getting.

He's entering this homestand in a 3 for 26 slump with no extra base hits or walks in this stretch. He's certainly not the only thing wrong with the Astros, but he's not part of the solution either.

So why not give J.R. Towles another shot when he's back from the disabled list? What would it hurt? Would the offense get worse? Is Pudge's throwing arm so valuable that the Astros don't need production from their catchers?

What say you? Towles is hitting .287 with a .400 OBP at Round Rock. Has a 25-year old catcher ever been so lowly regarded by an organization and its fan base?

Recap for G106 - Giants at Astros

No way. Mike Hampton got the win, and Matt Cain suffered his third loss in a 4-3 win over the Giants. Pitching into trouble isn't news for Hampton, but last night he actually pitched his way out of it, including a bases-loaded jam in the 6th. The Astros got some big time hits from some unlikely sources and the bullpen was fairly solid (Valverde just can't help but make people nervous) in preserving the win. Good team effort, and these are the games the Astros are going to need in order to keep this season interesting, October-wise.

Let's do the thing:
Hampton: 6IP, 8H/1ER (2R), 6K:2BB, 17/28 first-pitch strikes, 30 non-contact strikes (17 called:13 swinging)
Sampson: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 3/5 NCS (1c:2s)
Arias: 1IP, 1H, 2/4 FPS, 3/11 NCS (2c:1s)
Valverde: 1IP, 2H/1ER, 1K, 4/5 FPS, 5/11 NCS (2c:3s)

Hampton made one of his Not Top Ten plays when he took a shoulder dive trying to scoop the ball to first baseman Geoff Blum, but whatever. His first-inning woes continued with three straight hits, one of them for an RBI by Garko. Valverde relieved Arias for the 9th inning, and got Ishikawa to strike out swinging, allowed a single to left by Eugenio Velez - who later scored on a Pablo Sandoval double. With the tying run in scoring position, Bengie Molina grounded out to third to end the game.

Astros hitters didn't put a run up until the 5th, when Blum tagged an 0-2 pitch over the fence for a solo homer, and then got two in the 6th with Matsui's 5th homer of the year. Carlos Lee knocked in Pence for what proved to be the winning run. It's also worth noting that Pence got himself another outfield assist when he threw out Edgar Renteria at home in the 2nd inning. The top four of the lineup were a combined 6x16 with three runs and three RBI. Rest of the lineup? 1x16.

Man of the Match: Mike Hampton. I'll admit I was terrified of this matchup, because it looked so uneven. The Astros got some lucky knocks off a solid Matt Cain, and Hampton shut the Giants' offense down.

Goat of the Game: I think this one's going to Pudge. He was 0x3 with another K. He's now hitting .248/.278/.391, and has only four walks since July 1 (155 plate appearances), and is .232/.252/.338 since then...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Let's bring Jon Gaston to Corpus and settle this once and for all

Nice little write-up on Lancaster's Jon Gaston, whose 29 homers (and 120 strikeouts) lead the California League.

Astros prospect Jon Gaston is putting up some gaudy numbers in the California League: .294/.386/.646, 24 doubles, 14 triples, 29 homers, 12/15 in stolen base attempts, 58 walks vs. 395 at-bats. On the negative side, he's fanned 120 times, and benefits from his friendly home park at Lancaster where he has a robust 1.159 OPS. His OPS on the road is still strong at .900, but we need to see what he can do against better pitching. Gaston was drafted in the seventh round in 2008 out of the University of Arizona. He has above average power, but his other tools are considered mediocre. The strikeouts worry me, but his balance of skills looks intriguing.

Now taking suggestions for Care Package #1

In light of Aaron Bray's victory in the 1st Annual Adopt-a-Player poll, Astros County is now taking recommendations for what to send in Care Package #1 - to be sent on Wednesday morning.

So what do you think?

Matchup for G106 - Giants @ Astros

The Giants come into this series at 58-47, seven games behind the Mannies for first in the NL West, but with a record good enough to put them in first place in the Central. They're coming off a seven-game homestand in which they swept the Pirates and took three of four from the Phillies (holding them to 10 runs in four games). They were 3-7 on a 10-game roadtrip before that Pirates series for a 9-8 record since the ASB.

Since sweeping the Cardinals, the Astros have lost three straight series (vs Mets, @ Cubs, @ Cardinals) and are 3-7 in that span, losing 3.5 games on the division leaders.

Mike Hampton
Ah jeez. It's been since July 6 - four starts - that Hampton has thrown a quality start. That's a 1-3 record, with a 10.42 ERA, and batters hitting .405/.467/.620 against him.

Last three starts:

7/18 @LAD5.27/44:29/992/56
7/24 vNYM5.28/47:48/8101/64
7/29 @CHC48/91:46/1379/46

Let's see what happens if Hampton can't get out of the 3rd, or gives up another nine runs. But check out his numbers vs San Francisco. Of course, this is tilted heavily from his time in Colorado and his Astrodome days in the 1990s:

vs. SF (career): 15-4, 3.59 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 158IP, 143H/63ER, 86K:62BB
Home (2009): 3-3, 5.04 ERA/1.58 WHIP, 50IP, 59H/28ER, 33K:20BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .304/.384/.468, 37K:37BB
vs Lefties: .250/.282/.438, 28K:5BB

When swinging at the first pitch (54): .348/.333/.717, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (202): .279/.310/.437, 44K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (176): .286/.423/.407, 21K:34BB

RISP: 31x95, .326/.404/.537, 17K:15BB
Runners on: 49x157, .312/.398/.522, 30K:25BB
2OwRISP: 18x46, .391/.481/.674, 6K:8BB

So we see the key for Hampton here is to not throw balls. Ever.

Matt Cain

Did you know that Matt Cain in 2007/2008 put together ERAs of 3.64 and 3.76 and only had a 15-30 record? Well all that is being turned around this season. Cain (who might be the most underrated pitcher in the National League) and his 12-2 record (league-leading .857 winning percentage) and 2.12 ERA, gets the ball for the Giants.

Last three starts:

7/19 @PIT75/18:210/7107/72
7/24 @COL73/15:46/11117/67
7/29 vPIT93/04:210/15111/75

It's been since June 26 that Cain last lost (and May 26 before that), and that was also the last time Cain allowed more than one earned run. Uh-oh.

vs. HOU (career): 1-1, 3.00 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 15IP, 12H/5ER, 14K:6BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .239/.331/.380, 55K:32BB
vs Lefties: .207/.267/.310, 57K:22BB

When swinging at the first pitch (56): .346/.340/.519, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (287): .193/.232/.283, 83K:13BB
After First-Pitch Balls (219): .230/.375/.385, 29K:41BB

RISP: 14x97, .144/.256/.216, 29K:16BB
Runners on: 30x194, .155/.247/.232, 48K:25BB
2OwRISP: 4x48, .083/.267/.125, 17K:12BB

The Cardinals were just tired, it had nothing to do with Bud Norris

So says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon. An excerpt:

If ever a baseball team needed a few days off in the same week, it’s the Cardinals.

They looked whipped Sunday. They offered starting pitcher Adam Wainwright zero support.

On an otherwise beautiful day at the ballpark, they slogged through an ugly offensive performance in their 2-0 loss to the Astros. They blew their chance to sweep the Astros and add to their National League Central lead.

They missed a chance to build serious momentum in the pennant race.

“We just came off a tough road trip,” outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. “To win three of four against LA, the team with the best record in the National League, and two of three from Houston, which is battling in our division, that is pretty good.”

“We played 5-2 ball against the Dodgers and Astros,” Wainwright added. “If you told us we would do that beforehand, we probably would have taken that and not played the games.”

True, but that 5-2 home stand could have been a 7-0 home stand. Imagine what a sweep could have done to their playoff quest.

This team had the opportunity to ride its (Matt) Holliday excitement and make a big move.

By Sunday, though, the group appeared spent. Albert Pujols (hitting .185 during this homestand) looked weary at the plate and the reconfigured Cards lineup had no life.

Colby Rasmus drew a couple of walks in the No. 2 slot, giving Albert an opportunity to not knock him in.

Ludwick came off the bench and hit a single. (Twice in the last four games he was out of the starting lineup, despite hitting .340 with 28 RBIs in July. That bears watching.)

Wainwright broke up the no-hit bid by Astros pitcher Bud Norris (!) with a single up the middle. Alas, that leadoff single in the sixth inning (followed by a Rasmus walk one out later) did not start a rally...

...Overall, the Cards offered little resistance as the immortal Norris mowed them down. The offensive machine ran out of steam.

I don't appreciate your sarcasm, Mr. Gordon. Norris is immortal, he shall never die. Nor lose. Nor give up a run. Ever.

The Astros are old and fragile, finally

Just as we were getting excited about a playoff push, a number of injuries started to screw everything up.

"We're going to have that because we have an old team. Whether it's this year or next, we're going to have to have some new faces in here. It's inevitable, but in a way it's nice to see guys that the organization thinks highly enough of to come up and try to help us. The older you get, the tougher it is to make it through 162 games in one piece. Really and truly, for the average age we have, we've done a fairly decent job of keeping everybody healthy. We haven't had a whole lot of guys out at the same time. It seems like we've had a guy go out when somebody else is getting healthy. We're still right there, and if we can get everybody fully healthy, there's still a chance to make a run here in the second half."

Ed Wade:
"We've had a significant amount of health issues to work around and navigate through, and we're still in the thick of things. We need to get healthy and stay healthy, and that's usually the case with any team that has a chance to win. We need some guys to step up. Norris is our version of a Trading Deadline move at this stage. We need him to pitch at the level we think he's capable of pitching. We've had our share of odd injuries along the way and some of them you could anticipate with age, but it's just been one thing after the other. But I can't use that as an excuse because I think we've done a really good job of having players step up and pick up the slack for us."

The Astros play teams over .500 in 30 of their last 57 games, and have nine games remanining with the Cubs and Cardinals.


Some transactions of note over the last couple of days:

August 1
Lexington places LHP Michael Hacker on 7-Day DL
Pitcher Antonio Noguera assigned to Lexington from Tri-City
Pitcher Dan Sarisky assigned to Tri-City from Greeneville
Greeneville signs free agent pitcher Abraham Gonzalez

Minor League leaders

So instead of recaps of the games down on Eddie's Farm (which will be coming back tomorrow), I thought we'd spend a little time looking at the team leaders at each level (minimums at 200 ABs, unless nobody has 200 ABs; and in bold means they're the league leader):

Round Rock
Hits: Manzella - 117
Runs: Saccomanno - 53
Avg: Manzella - .280
OBP: Bogusevic - .345
SLG: Saccomanno - .424
HR: Saccomanno - 12
RBI: Saccomanno - 51
Ks: Abercrombie - 121
BBs: Bogusevic - 43
SBs: Abercrombie - 17

IP: Bazardo: 130
Wins: Bazardo - 9
Losses: Norris/Capellan - 9
ERA: Paronto - 1.57 (though Norris and Bazardo share the official league lead)
WHIP: Paronto - 0.93 (again, Paronto doesn't qualify, Bazardo is your LL)
Ks: Norris - 112
BBs: Muecke - 57

Hits: Locke - 131
Runs: DeLome - 66
Avg: Locke - .324
OBP: Locke - .373
SLG: Locke - .512
HR: DeLome - 17
RBI: Locke - 95
Ks: DeLome - 103
BBs: Meyer - 46
SBs: Sutil - 15

IP: Perez - 102
Wins: Perez/Trinidad - 7
Losses: Perez/James - 9
ERA: Abreu - 2.53
WHIP: Baugh - 1.09 (*Not yet qualified)
Ks: Trinidad - 53
BBs: James - 59

Hits: Shuck - 139
Runs: Gaston - 95
Avg: Clemens - .340
OBP: Clemens - .415
SLG: Gaston - .646
HR: Gaston - 29
RBI: Clemens - 88
Ks: Gaston - 120
BBs: Gaston - 58
SBs: Shuck - 17

IP: Hicks - 109
Wins: Hicks - 9
Losses: Hicks/Cespedes - 7
ERA: Powell - 3.48
WHIP: Abad - 1.03
Ks: Hicks - 84
BBs: Cespedes - 37

Hits: Austin - 89
Runs: Austin - 45
Avg: Pellegrini - .301
OBP: Pellegrini - .401
SLG: Pellegrini - .597
HR: Pellegrini - 18
RBI: Pellegrini - 49
Ks: Austin - 67
BBs: Pellegrini - 37
SBs: Austin - 22

IP: Lyles - 110.2
Wins: Bono - 8
Losses: Greenwalt - 10
ERA: Mowdy - 1.72
WHIP: Mowdy - 0.79
Ks: Lyles - 133
BBs: Dydalewicz/Leon - 34

Tri-City (here, and after, min. 70 ABs)
Hits: Kemp - 37
Runs: Kemp - 21
Avg: Martinez - .370 (Martinez not yet qualified for league leaders)
OBP: Kemp - .411
SLG: Martinez - .589
HR: Castro - 4
RBI: Castro/Martinez - 17
Ks: Butera - 32
BBs: Kemp - 17
SBs: Kemp - 6

IP: Alvino - 41.1
Wins: Alvino - 3
Losses: Pitkin - 6
ERA: Modica - 0.98
WHIP: Keuchel - 0.89
Ks: Alvino - 24
BBs: Walker - 22

Hits: Altuve - 50
Runs: Altuve - 39
Avg: Altuve - .345
OBP: Altuve - .432
SLG: Altuve - .524
HR: Almonte - 5
RBI: Almonte - 20
Ks: Almonte - 36
BBs: Altuve - 23
SBs: Altuve - 19

IP: Cruz - 34
Wins: Cisnero - 3
Losses: Quevedo - 5
ERA: Pettus - 2.60
WHIP: Pettus - 1.10
Ks: Cisnero - 33
BBs: Gouvea - 18

Tejada questions Coop's strategy

I missed this over the weekend, but it seems that some players weren't so happy with Coop for walking what - for a time - was a .250-hitting Albert Pujols to face a .586-hitting Matt Holliday on Friday night.

"I think that now is not the time to walk anybody to pitch to (Holliday). I think Holliday is very hot. I think now the last thing you want to do when you're going against somebody who's hot is for you to walk somebody to pitch to that person. By being hot, his self esteem is higher than what he normally has. Why? Because you're going to walk somebody to face him. Since he's hot everything is going to go well, like (Friday) night. Did you see how he did (Friday) night? What we need to try to do is try to walk Holliday. I think in this game it doesn't matter how good you are, if they throw a pitch well I don't think you're going to hit a home run. Just because you're a strong hitter doesn't mean you're going to be in front of anybody. In this game the important thing is to try to throw the ball where it should be pitched and let fate do what it's going to do. If you have to walk Pujols, walk him. But I think right now we have to not just think of Pujols. We have to think of Holliday, too. I think we have to think that if we have to walk Pujols, we have to walk Holliday too."

"Pujols is such a dangerous hitter that you're always cautious of what he can do to you. There's certain situations that I think I would pitch to him because even as good as he is he's still making an out over half the time he's going out there. You never want to mess with him when he can really hurt you, but I think there are situations in the game where you take your chances. It's one thing if they didn't have anybody that was behind him that really scared you, but they have Holliday and they got Ludwick and DeRosa. They got guys back there that can really swing the bat well. Depending on the situation in the game you don't necessarily want to give (Holliday) any extra baserunners."

I see this going either way. Albert Pujols is the type of guy who ends a "slump" with one swing of the bat, and has routinely done exactly that against the Astros. If Pujols gets a big hit in an important spot against the Astros, we all lament, weep, and gnash our teeth. So I'm okay with walking Pujols at every opportunity, but it's hard to justify throwing anything worthwhile at a guy hitting .586 for the week.

Updates on Roy/Wandy, and LaHawk is getting his swagger back

On the heels of Bud Norris' superb start, we get some info on Roy and Wandy:

"I know I won't make (Tuesday) start, but the next start (Saturday) I may."

On throwing on flat ground for the third time on Sunday:
"I wasn't exactly dancing between raindrops, but I felt OK. I'm at least 75 percent right now. It will all tell when I get off the mound."

Roy will throw a light bullpen session today and may be available in relief on Wednesday.

(Today) will be a good test. And Wednesday I'll throw a pretty good one, and if I feel great I may try to throw an inning out of the pen and make sure I'm ready for game action on Saturday."
And Wandy is still optimistic about making his next scheduled start vs Milwaukee on Friday after getting an extra day of rest due to the scheduled off-day on Thursday:
“It's the same. It doesn't feel better, but it's not worse. They put me on some treatment, and I'm just going to test it a little with some light walking on the treadmill. The day off may help me. I'll keep getting treatment. I'll just see daily how it's improving.”
“I'm feeling better. I'm walking better, feeling better. Yeah, I got my swagger back.”
Aaron Boone will be sitting down with Ed Wade to map out a rehab assignment for the coming weeks.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

An addendum to the previous post

Technically, Norris also threw 6IP, 0H/0ER. And Darryl Kile wasn't facing Pujols, Holliday, and DeRosa. I take that back. Norris gets the nod.

Astros starting pitcher debuts

Bud Norris took a no-hitter into the 6th and threw 7IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:4BB in his rotation debut. How does that compare to some other notable debuts in the last 20 years (we're talking about first career starts, not first starts for the Astros after being traded or signed as a free agent):

Darryl Kile: April 24, 1991 vs Cincinnati: 6IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:2BB in a 1-0, 13-inning win

Butch Henry: April 9, 1992 vs Cincinnati: 4.1IP, 8H/4ER, 2K:2BB in a 6-5 win

Shane Reynolds: July 20, 1992 vs Pittsburgh: 3.2IP, 8H/6ER, 2K:2BB in an 11-8 win

Chris Holt: April 4, 1997 vs St. Louis: 6.1IP, 6H/2ER, 4K:2BB in a 3-2 win

Scott Elarton: June 20, 1998 vs Cincinnati: 6.1IP, 5H/4ER, 9K:1BB in a 9-8 win

Wade Miller: July 7, 1999 at Arizona: 3IP, 8H/7ER, 3K:1BB in a 13-7 loss

Roy Oswalt: June 2, 2001 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: 6IP, 2H/1ER, 4K:0BB in a 2-1 win

Carlos Hernandez: August 18, 2001 vs Pittsburgh: 7IP, 2H/0ER, 7K:1BB in a 3-2 win

Jeriome Robertson: September 2, 2002 at Texas: 2.2IP, 6H/2ER, 1K:1BB in a 7-2 loss

Ezequiel Astacio: May 3, 2005 vs Pittsburgh: 6IP, 7H/4ER, 6K:1BB in a 7-4 loss

Wandy Rodriguez: May 23, 2005 @ Chicago Cubs: 5.2IP, 6H/4ER, 6K:1BB in a 4-1 loss

So Bud's start ranks up there with the best, but the #1 spot has to go to Darryl Kile who threw 6 no-hit innings in his first career start. Agree, or disagree?

David Norris got his name from a beer

That's not even a joke. Allow JJO, who holds a black belt in information, to expound:

At three years old, little David Norris listened attentively as his father Dave, grandfather Ken and uncle Mike ordered beers during dinner at El Chorro restaurant in California. So, he ordered a Bud, too, thus picking up the nickname he has carried ever since.

Tejada, on Norris:
“That’s what we needed here. We need a young guy who can throw hard. He looks like he knows how to pitch and I think we’re going to be a better team. To see that kid pitching, now we have more power in the starting pitching. Every team has a power arm in their starting pitching, and I think now we have him, we have Roy and we have Wandy. I think we can battle with these three guys. If (Mike) Hampton pitches a good game and Moehler pitches a good game I think we’re going to be OK.”

Valverde, on Norris:
“What that kid (Norris) did today was special. You have to talk about how he took care of (Albert) Pujols and Holliday. I thought he might be tight, but he was real confident.”

Pudge, on Norris:
“He pitched very well. I could see he was relaxed all day. He didn’t try to do too much. He threw strikes and had a great fastball.”

Recap for G105 - Astros @ Cardinals

Okay, I think we all know who the Man of the Match is going to be. 2010 came early this week, and it looks like Bud "The Troof" Norris. Baseball history has been littered with great first games of careers that flamed out (I'm looking at you, David Clyde), but this just might be different. Bud Norris absolutely dominated a Cardinals team that pretty much dominated the Astros all weekend long, and got one back with a 2-0 win.

Matt Holliday came into this game hitting .606 and left hitting .375 as he was held hitless for the first time since coming to St. Louis ten days ago. I believe, and I also believe that you believe, I can handle losing this season if it means getting better in 2010+.

I'm excited, let's do the thing:
Norris: 7IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:4BB, 17/27 first-pitch strikes, 25/55 non contact strikes (16 called:9 swinging)
Wright: 0.1IP, 0H/0ER, 0/1 FPS, 1/2 NCS (1 called)
Sampson: 0IP, 1H/0ER, 1/1 FPS, 1/5 NCS (1 called)
Valverde: 1.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB, 1/5 FPS, 6/16 NCS (2c:4s)

All four of Norris' Ks were swinging strikeouts, and Astros pitchers only allowed 4ABs with RISP, and didn't give up a hit, including 2 hitless ABs with RISP for Holliday and Pujols. The crucial inning was the bottom of the 6th. With Houston enjoying a 1-0 lead, Norris allowed a leadoff single - the first Cardinals hit of the game - to pitcher Adam Wainwright, and walked Colby Rasmus two batters later. With Rasmus on 1st, Wainwright on 2nd, 1 out and Pujols/Holliday up, Norris needed six pitches to get Pujols to pop up to third, and Holliday to strike out (looking, foul, swinging) to end the inning.

Offensively, we saw a different lineup, with Tejada being dropped to 5th in the lineup (2x3, 1RBI), and Pence moving up to 3rd (2x4). Blum was pushed to 6th and Pudge to 7th. Bourn's RBI double provided the two-run margin.

Man of the Match: Come on. Bud "The Troof" Norris. Here's to a long, healthy career.

Goat of the Game: Geoff Blum had the most opportunity to break the game open for the offense with 2ABs with RISP. He ended three innings, left five men on base including Pence on third twice.

Recap for G104 - Astros @ Cardinals

Bad news. And it isn't totally related to the Astros 3-1 loss to the Cardinals at Beck's Stadium last night. Wandy left the game in the 5th inning with a strained right hamstring, meaning that through the last time in the rotation, Brian Moehler was the only one who could make it beyond the fifth innings. Bet you didn't have him in your pool. We'll have more on this later, but after the game Wandy said he didn't think he'd miss a start.

Still, the Astros were yet again dominated by the Cardinals pitching, and while the Astros held the Cardinals to three runs, Matt Holliday again went off, providing two homers in the game. Let's do the thing:

Wandy: 4IP, 3H/1ER, 4K:1BB, 9/16 first-pitch strikes, 18/36 non-contact strikes (14 called:4 swinging)
Fulchino: 3IP, 4H/0ER (1 run), 3K:0BB, 8/13 FPS, 19/34 NCS (8c:11s)
Valverde: 1IP, 2H/1ER, 1K, 1/5 FPS, 6/12 NCS (3c:3s)

Fulchino pitched very well in long relief, not allowing any earned runs, which brings us to the defense. Tejada made an error in the bottom of the 4th that led to the Cardinals having runners on 2nd/3rd with one out. Luckily there was no further damage as Wandy got out of the inning. In the 7th, Fulchino got Rasmus to groundout, allowed a double to Carpenter, and then Q was charged with a PB sending Carpenter to 3rd, and allowing Lugo (/chewing hair) to hit a sac fly with the go-ahead run. Lugo also was able to advance to third on DeRosa's single in the 5th on Hunter Pence's bobble. That put runners on the corners with two out and Pujols up. Nothing further came of it, and that was the inning. But the Astros are killing themselves with mental errors and mistakes. Oh, and Michael Bourn was caught stealing again, and then was ejected; Quintero was thrown out at home. So you know.

Offensively, this was all about Chris Carpenter. He held the Astros to eight hits in a 110-pitch complete game. There were only five at-bats all night long in which the Astros had RISP, and Wandy was the only one to come through with a hit - and that didn't even score a run. Carlos Lee's solo homer in the 4th was all there was going on. Quintero got three hits, then add a Tejada, Blum, and Wandy hit, and you've got yourself a game.

Man of the Match: Jeff Fulchino. 3IP of strong earned-runless relief and 4Ks, including one to Holliday - the only time Holliday didn't reach base all night.

Goat of the Game: Hunter Pence. An error led to a precarious situation, and he was 0x4 with 2Ks, one with Carlos Lee on third base, and ended the inning twice.