Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recap for G117 - Astros @ Brewers

Wow, so it's been pretty bad. The Astros are playing a lot like they were "supposed to" all season long. Piss-poor pitching. No-account hitting. It's all coming together exactly like Baseball Prospectus wanted it to. For a while it felt like this team was at least a little special. But now, it's becoming clear that the 2009 Astros just aren't. Especially after giving up 10+ hits for the 10th time in the last 12 games in a 6-2 loss to the Brewers.

Let's do the thing:
Moehler: 5IP, 10H/3ER, 2K:2BB, 17/26 first-pitch strikes, 26/62 non-contact strikes (19 called:7 swinging)
Arias: 0IP, 3H/3ER, 0K:1BB, 2/4 FPS, 5/10 NCS (3c:2s)
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1/1 FPS, 1/2 NCS (1s)
Gervacio: 0.2IP, 1BB, 2/3 FPS, 0/2 NCS
Bazardo: 2IP, 1K:1BB, 6/7 FPS, 10/17 NCS (8c:2s)

While Moehler should be shaved bald for letting Craig Counsell get a 2-run triple off him, Arias is on the hook for this one. Down 3-0, Arias faced four batters after Moehler had run up 104 pitches to get 15 outs (12 baserunners). Three of Arias' BFs got hits and one walked. Three runs came in, and Arias didn't record an out. You can be sure that tomorrow we'll take a look at how the bullpen has been affected over the last two weeks, but Arias' ERA has gone from 1.34 to its current 3.50 in his last ten appearances (12ER in 10IP). That said, he was hit for three singles, and Byrdak gave up the sac fly, while Gervacio gave up the FC scoring Counsell.

The Astros' offense came up with only 5 hits, seeing 108 pitches in 33 PAs (compared to 159 pitches in 39 PAs). Two of those hits were courtesy Geoff Blum, with the other three from Pence (2-run homer), Matsui (congratulations on your 2000th professional hit), and Darin Erstad's pinch-hit double. The Astros got two GIDPs, one on an inning-ending GIDP from Pence in the 2nd, and one from Tejada, who managed to kill a nice little rally with Erstad's leadoff pinch-hit double, and a Michael Bourn walk erased. Berkman struck out swinging to finish it off with Erstad on third.

Pitch Count Hero: Bourn - 19 pitches in 4 PAs (two walks)
Pitch Count Punk: Kaz Matsui - 7 pitches in 3 PAs

Goat of the Game: I know I made a case for Byrdak and Gervacio sharing some responsibility for Arias' 3ER, but it's going to Arias. Whether he's also suffering from overuse or is flat-out hurt, I don't know.

Man of the Match: I don't know. How about Yorman Bazardo? Moehler, Arias, Byrdak, and Gervacio were at least minorly responsible for Brewers' runs being scored. Bazardo? Huh-uh. Seven batters faced, six outs, one walk, no hits.
Back in business - recap coming soon.

A note for this weekend

I'm on a business trip where there is inexplicably no internet. So I'm trying to do this by phone. Which isn't going so well, either. Reports will be sparse until Sunday night.

In the meantime, check out this quote by Sampson:

"Whether it's dead arm or tired, I don't think there's anything structurally wrong with my arm," he said. "I think everything I did in the first half might be catching up with me. There's probably a lot of business side of baseball that might be going on. I try not to worry about that. I'm just trying to focus on what I need to focus on."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lineup for G115 - Astros @ Marlins

Thank you, Brian McTaggart:

Bourn CF
Tejada SS
Berkman 1B
Lee LF
Pence RF
Keppinger 3B
Matsui 2B
Quintero C
Hampton P

Hang on. Keppinger's at third. Not Blum. Sean West is a lefty. As we saw in the matchup, lefties hit .347/.400/.592 against him.

Blum is a switch-hitter. Who hits lefties to the tune of .364/.462/.545. I know Keppinger was brought in to face LHPs, but he's a righty, a group that hits West at a .236/.333/.385 clip. Keppinger does hit lefties well, this season he's hitting .338/.398/.514, but come on...

Matchup for G115 - Astros @ Marlins

The Astros can pull back a split with a win tonight, and honestly, this could have been a series sweep. It's too depressing of a topic to go back and look to see how many winnable games the Astros could have pulled off - but didn't. So we'll just move on.

Mike Hampton
Is this the game where Hampton is pitching for his job? Yorman Bazardo hasn't pitched since August 8, so maybe he's the designated reliever for tonight. We'll see how Mike Hampton's Lance Harbor knees hold up...

Last three starts:

7/29 @CHC48/91:46/1379/46
8/3 vSF68/26:214/5103/65
8/8 vMIL25/30:26/548/26

2009 road record: 3-5 (9 starts), 5.69 ERA/1.47 WHIP, 49IP, 32K:22BB
Career vs. Florida: 10-7 (24 starts), 4.48 ERA/1.47 WHIP, 154.2IP, 87K:62BB
Career @ Land Shark Stadium: 4-3 (10 starts), 5.19 ERA/1.63 WHIP, 60.2IP, 28K:23BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .315/.395/.466, 43K:41BB
vs Lefties: .245/.276/.429, 28K:5BB

When swinging at the first pitch (57): .354/.340/.708, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (222): .295/.324/.444, 47K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (194): .286/.425/.396, 24K:38BB

RISP: 35x109, .321/.397/.505, 21K:17BB
Runners on: 58x178, .326/.408/.517, 35K:28BB
2OwRISP: 22x55, .400/.484/.636, 8K:9BB

Sean West

Rookie Sean West takes the mound for the Marlins tonight. This will be his 12th career start, and he's coming in 3-4, with a 4.88 ERA/1.53 WHIP, 33K:30BB.

Last three appearances:

7/6 @SF64/52:36/1472/41
7/11 @A'I4.29/51:412/889/55
8/8 @PHI47/2 (3 tot)4:29/793/57

2009 home: 2-2, 4.26 ERA/1.52 WHIP, 31.2IP, 32H/15ER, 24K:16BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .236/.333/.385, 26K:25BB
vs Lefties: .347/.400/.592, 7K:5BB

When swinging at the first pitch (34): .250/.294/.469, 5XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (109): .196/.262/.340, 19K:9BB
After First-Pitch Balls (125): .324/.435/.500, 14K:21BB

RISP: 14x60, .233/.342/.383, 10K:10BB
Runners on: 31x112, .277/.346/.473, 16K:11BB
2OwRISP: 4x27, .148/.303/.296, 8K:5BB

E-mail Exchange, part one

So Deputy Jason and I (your loyal, God-fearing Constable) traded some e-mails over the last couple of days about our chosen team. Right now it stands at three parts. Here's part one.

TC: We came into the season worried about the Astros' starting rotation and feeling solid about the bullpen, which I once described as being "among the best in baseball." Is the problem the rotation, or what?

DJ: Have you ever used the term "You get what you pay for?" There has never been a more truthful statement made about our staff going into the season. We had an Ace, a solid #2, a solid #4 and two has-beens. With a rotation of Roy, Magic Wandy, Bud Norris, BMo and Hampy we now have two Aces, a solid #3 and #4 and only one has-been at this point in the season. After Hampy's next outing, we may be having open auditions for the 5th spot, so things are better now than when we started the season. So no, I don't see our rotation as being the biggest question mark any longer.

Watching this team nightly, there are consistently three things we do not do well. One is catch the ball when at the limits of our range. Miggy simply does not cover enough ground, nor does Carlos. While both men, deserve a spot in the lineup for their bat skills, neither does much to help our pitchers get extra outs by making a spectacular play here and there.

Second, our handling of the bullpen has been horrific. Wesley Wright, Doug Brocail, Latroy Hawkins, Jose Valverde and Chris Sampson have all had run-ins with Cooper this season about their workload. Specifically, letting guys with injuries take the mound is just unacceptable and borderline retarded. (And we're about to do it again! Hampy will be his next sacrificial lamb)

The third thing we do not do well is baserunnning. Speed can make up for mistakes, but there are only 3 guys on this club who can outrun bad judgement. Couple a low OB% and a knack for getting thrown out when they do get there, and we are the opposite of Moneyball.

Two of the three can be attributed to coaching, so I see this being the AstBros biggest question mark for the remaining year.

So, I pose the question to you, "Do you make a coaching change now, or finish out the season?"

TC: Could the "Opposite of Moneyball" officially be coined "Dummyball?"

Totally agree on the Three-fold Sucking. When one player complains about the lack of communication with Cooper, you take it for what it's worth. When five or six guys have run-ins with the Manager, you look for the common denominator. Off the top of my head, I can think of six different instances in which a player publicly questioned Cooper. You can look at the overworking of the bullpen as an extension of the problems with the rotation - either injuries or not going deep enough in a game to spell them - but there comes a point where it's a managerial problem. Which leads me to your question on making a coaching change now or later? And I like the fact that your question implies that it's going to happen at some point.

It's a decision I go back-and-forth on. This has been a strange season, and not always in a good way. The handling of the bullpen has been atrocious, but it hasn't been helped by the likes of Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton. That said, when you let Wesley Wright throw so much that he has to be rushed to the hospital with dehydration (and with him currently on the DL with arm fatigue), you have to look at the manager. Before Cooper got his extension in April, my feelings were that he should have a chance to do something with this team. I can't think of any games this season that a brilliant managerial decision won a game, I can certainly think of a few where a managerial decision lost the game, and more than a few where a managerial decision landed someone on the DL. You can't fire the players, but you can fire the manager.

On the other hand, he was put in a situation where he wasn't working with a whole lot on the pitching side of the roster, but I don't think anyone thought that the Astros would be only two games under .500 on August 12. The Astros have won about 49% of their games, and it's important to remember that Baseball Prospectus pegged the Astros at winning just north of 40%. However, Colorado is an example of how a coaching change can ignite a team, and there's every indication that the catalyst in 2004 was the firing of Jimy Williams. Coop keeps saying the team is a win streak away from being back in it, but maybe he's the one holding that win streak up. One of my arguments against firing Cooper earlier this season was, "Who in the hell would replace him?" Well, there are some more options now. Every day that passes is a day that Manny Acta is inexplicably unemployed.

Billy Wagner makes triumphant return against GCL Astros

And strikes out two in one inning of work.


August 11
Lexington activates Marques Williams from the 7-Day DL

August 12
Douglas Arguello assigned to Corpus from Tri-City
Lexington places Jay Austin on the 7-Day DL
Russell Dixon assigned to Lexington from Tri-City

Bud Norris joins elite company

A little nugget from ESPN Research:

Bud Norris is the fifth Astro pitcher to win his first three starts. The other four?

Roger Clemens, 2004
Randy Johnson, 1998
Robin Roberts, 1965
Don Nottebart, 1963

Newz and Notez

Thanks to Deputy Jason last night for the Live Blog until the storm knocked him out. Literally. Unconscious on the floor. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Check the LBeezy for the commentary.

In the meantime, today's notes column recounts a few things:

On Wesley Wright:
“I threw a slider to Nick Johnson and felt it grab a little bit. I tried to gut it out, but I couldn't make pitches when I needed to and ended up costing us the game. Hopefully I can get it rested up and be back ready to go. They could see me wincing. I told them I was going to try and go. We didn't have many guys anyway. I've thrown a lot the last week, week and a half. I think it caught up to me. I think fatigue caught up with me. It's not the year I expected to have. It seems like once I get in a groove something's always coming up.”

Now if only he had intentionally walked Nick Johnson...

And we also see that Coop wants to give Tejada a day off, but he's making it hard with all the base hits.

“I don't know,” Cooper said. “We're going to try and give him one. It's hard to do when a guy is getting hits the way he is. He's getting big hit after big hit.”

“I don't want a day off. Right now, we're in the position we've got to win now. I don't help the team when I'm sitting on the bench.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday Night Live AstBros v Marlins

Roster Movement

McTaggart is reporting that Berkman and LaHawk have been activated from the DL, Matt Kata has been optioned to Round Rock, and Wesley Wright has been placed on the DL with a shoulder strain. That's a full afternoon.

Tejada placed on waivers, then pulled back?

Jon Heyman is reporting that Miguel Tejada was placed on the waiver wire, claimed by a team, and then pulled back by the Astros. Heyman closes this nugget with an audible eye-rolling which is hoping for its usual late-year rally.

Should the Astros pull a Milwaukee?

So the Brewers have made some big-time moves today. Among them:

-Pitching Coach Bill Castro fired
-SS J.J. Hardy sent to Triple-A Nashville (you can bet Astros County will see him)
-High-priced Bill Hall designated for assignment

And this is from a team in front of the Astros, who Coop says just needs one good 5-6-7 game win streak to be back in it. It's going to take an 11-12-13 game win streak to do some damage, because a 7 game win streak might bring the Astros three games closer to the Cardinals.

So, if the Astros were to pull a Milwaukee, who should get sent out?

Sampson and Coop "clear the air"

Another day, another closed door meeting with a pitcher, McTaggart explains:

Sampson wouldn't get into specifics of what the two talked about, but Cooper said following Monday's game, in which Sampson gave up three runs in two innings, that he was concerned about the right-hander.

"I'm not going to get into what we walked about," Sampson said. "It's between he and I, but I made sure we were on the same page and we cleared the air and moved on. Everything's cool."

"I think Chris understands that in certain situations, he's forced to go two innings. I'd like him to go in the fifth, in the sixth, and one inning, if possible. When he's in that scenario, he's usually pretty effective. Sometimes we've had to push him to two innings and things happened. Chris has been up in the zone. I haven't lost confidence in Chris. He's not getting it done like he was getting it done. It's not a case of me not having confidence in Chris."
Also read that Berkman won't be in until Thursday at the earliest. Coop:
"We can't afford to put him in a game and him really exert himself and maybe if he has to do it in a game and gets hurt, because then we're realy behind the eight ball. We need to get him out pre-game and see if he can really push it. If he's OK, then there's a possibility it could happen as early as Thursday."
And Yorman Bazardo won't be your SP tomorrow night. Hampton is wearing Gumpian braces on both knees, and it doesn't bother him when he goes through his delivery. Apparently.

Eddie's Farm: August 11

Round Rock
Mark McLemore got hisself a win as Round Rock defeated Portland 2-1. Chris Johnson and Brian Bogusevic had two hits each (Johnson's hits were a double and a homer), with Johnson and Yordany providing RBIs. Four of the Express' seven hits were for extra-bases. McLemore threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 2K:3BB and Gervacio, Daigle, and Paronto threw 3IP, 1H/0ER, 3K:1BB in relief.

The JetHawks scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th for a 6-5 come-from-behind win. Koby was doin' work, with 2x5 and 3RBI, including a two-run homer. Barnes, Weston, and Cabral also had two hits each. Shane Wolf threw 6.1IP, 7H/4ER, 6K:2BB and Francisco Abad got the win with 2.2IP, 2H/0ER, 4K:0BB.

Rough day at the plate for the Legends, as they were shutout in both games of a double-header against Asheville.
Game 1: Only two hits for the Legends - one from Wikoff and one from Pellegrini - in a 5-0 loss. Kyle Greenwalt threw 4.1IP, 5H/3ER, 3K:3BB.
Game 2: And only three hits in the second game in a 1-0 loss, this time from Pellegrini, Suttle, and Hulett. Jordan Lyles threw 6IP, 1H/0ER, 7K:2BB and Henry Villar threw 2IP, 3H/1R - unfortunately unearned, for a hard-luck loss.

Tri-City broke out the big bats for 11 runs on 16 hits - including a 4-run tie-breaking 8th inning for an 11-7 win over Hudson Valley. J.D. Martinez, Erik Castro, and Renzo Tello had three hits each, while Jose Altuve and Nick Stanley had two hits each. Big RBI day from Castro (3), Stanley (3 - on a 3-run jack), and Martinez (2). Brandt Walker threw 3.2IP, 8H/3ER, 2K:0BB. Brendan Stines had a rough one, going 1.1IP, 4H/3ER, 2K:0BB, but Sarisky and Schurz got seven strikeouts in the final four innings to shut Hudson Valley Down.

And Greeneville got hit pretty hard, losing 12-3 to Elizabethton. Jiovanni Mier was 0x5 with 4Ks, but our boy Aaron Bray was 1x3 with 2BBs. RBIs came from Jonathan Meyer and Grant Hogue. Angel Gonzalez threw 4.1IP, 7H/9R (5ER); B.J. Hyatt went 2.1IP, 4H/2ER, 3K:1BB.

That Michael Bourn trade is looking a lot better, huh?

You can't put a price on a World Series ring, which Brad Lidge owns. However, with Michael Bourn becoming the player Easy Eddie hoped he would, and with seeing this story, it makes it a little easier, right?

This season, Lidge has looked more like the pitcher who couldn't find the strike zone to save his life in 2006 and 2007, the two seasons that followed a 2005 National League Championship with the Houston Astros.

He's simply looked lost out there on the mound. Maybe it's the dreaded "World Series Hangover." Whatever it is, it's got to be taken care of if the Phillies want any chance at a repeat.

JJO again getting snippy

JJO, who has the peace that passes understanding, takes aim at Cooper's use of the bullpen. But this time, I'm with him.

Here's the blog post, in its entirety:

Reading through the comments Chris Sampson made to Richard Justice Tuesday in Florida, it's pretty clear that the righthander has not survived the abuse Cecil Cooper put him through before the All-Star break. It's pretty amazing when a guy who was on the disabled list and has asked for an extra day off here or there since the break still leads the relievers in innings or games.

Poor Doug Brocail's right shoulder never recovered from the abuse Cecil Cooper put him through before the 2008 All-Star break.

Now, Alberto Arias is showing signs of wearing down after Cooper rode him into the ground.

Guys like Sampson and Arias must be honest with Cooper and tell him there are days they cannot take the ball. Cooper had his career and made his money as a player, and now he's likely to try to sacrifice all the arms to avoid being fired after the season. Sampson and Arias are still trying to establish themselves in the majors.

Yorman Bazardo on Saturday was a perfect case of Cooper's selfish use of arms. He told the kid he likely wouldn't use him. Bazardo had just started on the previous Wednesday at Round Rock, yet Cooper ran him out there and the kid gamely labored through an inning while getting rocked.

In late July, Wesley Wright looked done as he labored through three innings. Everybody could see it as Wright was being knocked around by the Cubs. Well, everybody could see it but Cooper, who later that evening had to see Wright rushed out of Wrigley Field in a gurney for an ambulance ride to be treated for dehydration.

Oh, and we don't want to bring up what Cooper did to Troy Patton before that once top prospect was traded to Baltimore.

Jose Valverde ultimately was lost for over a month with a strained calf after trying to pitch hurt for Cooper.

Maybe it's time for the front office to start telling Cooper which relievers he should use. Either that, or the next manager will get a bunch of damaged goods next season in the bullpen.

AC was right!

So yesterday we speculated on why in the world Coop walked Nick Johnson, and the best guess was the righty/lefty splits from Chris Sampson.

Sho nuff:

Cooper said he preferred having Sampson face a righthanded hitter (Ramirez) rather than a lefty (Johnson). In a bizarre twist, he said he wouldn't have done the same thing if the game had been closer.

“Simply, Chris is a guy that keeps the ball down,” Cooper said. “When he's on, his slider's good. His sinker is good. If he stays down, he's good on righthanded hitters.”

Except Sampson hasn't been on, and hasn't fully recovered from his DL stint.

“Am I 100 percent? No. He knows that, and he knew that when I came off the DL. I wanted to be here for the team and do the best possible job I can. I hate asking for a day off, but sometimes I don't have a choice. ... (Cooper) said he's definitely giving me (Tuesday) off and probably (today) and try to let me catch back up.”

Recap for G113 - Astros @ Marlins

So after G112, Coop said the Astros weren't built to come back (which I'm sure made Ed Wade real happy) from a 5-run deficit. I guess, after G113, the Astros also aren't built to hold a 5-run lead, as the Astros completely nutted it, losing 9-8 in 11 innings.

Roy looked exactly like someone who hadn't pitched in two weeks. Let's do the thing:

Oswalt: 5IP, 9H/6ER, 3K:2BB, 14/24 First-pitch strikes, 29/57 non-contact strikes (20 called:9 swinging)
Fulchino: 2IP, 2H/2ER, 2K:2BB, 3/10 FPS, 11/25 NCS (7c:4s)
Byrdak: 1.1IP, 2/4 FPS, 3/8 NCS (3c)
Valverde: 1.2IP, 2H/0ER, 1K:1BB, 2/7 FPS, 8/18 NCS (5c:3s)
Wright: 0.2IP, 0H/1ER, 2K:3BB, 2/5 FPS, 8/10 NCS (4c:4s)
Arias: 0.0IP, 1H, 0/1 FPS, 0/2 NCS

Bourn drove in Erstad, who had a leadoff walk and a Roy sac that pushed him to second base. Nick Johnson walked in the bottom of the 3rd - though not intentionally - and Hanley Ramirez' double scored he and Coghlan.

The 5th was the big inning for the Astros, where the Astros should have taken this game over. Five runs scored on one HBP, two walks, four singles, and one double. Roy struck out with two on to end the inning, but that was a 6-2 lead. Tejada's sac fly scored Bourn (who reached on a bunt single, stole second, and advanced to third on Matsui's grounder) made it 7-2.

Roy allowed a Marlins baserunner in every inning until the 5th, but he was crusing along. Then the 6th came, and the cruising stopped. Roy faced five batters, who all reached base. Four singles, one walk that scored Hanley Ramirez, and that was it for Roy, except he left the bases loaded for Fulchino to walk in Jorge Cantu, and Baker scored on a fielder's choice. Fulchino then gave up a 2-run double in the 7th of his own. So it was 8-7 Marlins going into the 8th.

With Tejada on 2nd and Lee on first, Blum singled to score Tejada, tying the game. With Lee on second, Pence GIDPed to end the inning. Wright came in for the 11th from Valverde, and gave up three walks to load the bases, but struck out two in the process. Arias was brought in to finish the inning, but Dan Uggla singled to left, and that's your ball game. When ESPN talks about the playoffs regarding this game, they ain't talking about the Astros.

Good news: Lee and Keppinger (!) had outfield assists. Bourn's 42nd stolen base is a career high. The Astros were 7x13 with RISP (if only Pence's RISP line was "1x1" instead of "0x1"...)

Pitch Count Hero: Pudge - 20 pitches in 5 PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence - 10 pitches in 5 PAs.

Man of the Match: Miguel Tejada. Second straight 3-hit game, and had three RBI, as well.

Goat of the Game: It's hard to give it to Roy, who is making his first start from injury. This one is going to Fulchino. His line reads 2H/2ER, but two runners he inherited from Roy also scored.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lineup for G113 - Astros @ Marlins

Courtesy of Brian McTaggart:

Bourn CF
Matsui 2B
Tejada SS
Lee LF
Blum 3B
Pence RF
Pudge C
Erstad 1B
Oswalt P

Exact same as the lineup that scored six runs last night.

Matchup for G113 - Astros @ Marlins

Okay, let's see if Coop will walk the pitcher to get to the leadoff batter tonight. Game 2 of a 4-game set with the Marlins, and games and opportunities are slip slip slipping away.

Roy Oswalt
Sir Roy takes the mound tonight for the first time since leaving G100 at Wrigley with back problems. But man, was he dealing. Since June 1, Roy is 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA, and batters hitting .219/.270/.346 against him. He had one disaster start, compared to eight quality starts, and had a string up six straight quality starts before those silly Cubs messed it up. (Note to Cubs fans: that was a joke.)

Last three starts:

7/17 @LA94/15:017/8105/73
7/22 vStL77/34:113/913/9
7/28 @CHC1.21/02:01/220/14

2009 road record: 4-2 (12 starts), 3.30 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 73.2IP, 54K:18BB
Career vs. Florida: 5-4 (11 starts), 3.24 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 72.1IP, 66K:22BB
Career @ Dolphin Staduim: 2-3 (6 starts), 3.46 ERA/1.31 WHIP, 39IP, 36K:13BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .225/.287/.389, 50K:18BB
vs Lefties: .274/.314/.423, 56K:15BB

When swinging at the first pitch (72): .324/.324/.588, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (291): .212/.243/.318, 75K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (195): .280/.376/.476, 31K:25BB

RISP: 20x94, .213/.321/.319, 24K:14BB
Runners on: 44x189, .233/.307/.386, 39K:19BB
2OwRISP: 8x44, .182/.321/.227, 15K:7BB

Chris Volstad

Chris Volstad has had a case of the Mondays lately. In April and May Volstad was 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA and batters hitting .226/.289/.423 against him. June and July (and one start in August)? 4-5, 5.24 ERA, .296/.345/.487.

Last three appearances:

7/26 @LA5.18/42:411/788/45
7/31 vCHC6.26/25:011/1099/73
8/6 @WAS4.19/4 (7 tot)3:28/1087/52

Volstad started against Houston last year, and threw 8IP, 4H/1ER, 4K:1BB
@ Dolphin Stadium (car): 5-9, 4.39 ERA/1.32 WHIP, 110.2IP, 110H/54ER, 78K:36BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .269/.324/.409, 52K:20BB
vs Lefties: .256/.312/.498, 42K:21BB

When swinging at the first pitch (76): .362/.371/.710, 10XBH (7HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (247): .209/.228/.347, 65K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (244): .290/.393/.498, 29K:35BB

So the key is to get the first-pitch ball. Which is good, because that happens almost half the time.

RISP: 34x107, .318/.390/.486, 12K:13BB
Runners on: 53x178, .298/.359/.506, 24K:17BB
2OwRISP: 30x148, .203/.293/.331, 25K:19BB

Walking Nick Johnson, a research update

It apparently stunned the Marlins' stats department, because the Marlins are just now saying that Cecil Cooper is the only manager to ever walk somebody to get to Hanley Ramirez.

For a lame attempt to justify what in the world Coop could have been thinking, click here.

First-pitch strikes - who throws 'em?

Remember Russ Ortiz? He wasn't Coop's kind of pitcher. Always getting behind hitters, walking guys, you know the drill. So who on the pitching staff has the best percentage of first-pitch strikes? Note, FPS = first-pitch strikes; FPB = first-pitch balls; FPS% = percentage of first-pitch strikes (which is how this table is organized). First-pitch outs are not taken into consideration.


Eddie's Farm: August 10

Only three games from App League through PCL play last night...

Round Rock
The Big Bats came out last night as the Express got 15 runs on 17 hits in a 15-3 win over Portland. Saccomanno and Manzella were each 3x5, Saccomanno getting 4RBI, with Manzella throwing in 2RBI. Chris Johnson was 2x5 with a 2-run homer and 3RBI total. Abercrombie, Smith, and Bogusevic all had two hits each (Abercrombie throwing in another homer). The Express were 8x13 with RISP, and only left three runners on base all night. Felipe Paulino got back on track with 5IP, 4H/1ER, 4K:3BB, and Josh Muecke threw 2IP, 3H/2ER, 2K:1BB. Geary threw two perfect innings to close it out.

The Hooks lost their fifth straight game after a 4-3 loss to Midland. Jimmy Van Ostrand and Nick Moresi had two hits each, with Sutil, Locke, Castro, and Molina providing the other hits. Andy Van Hekken threw 7IP, 5H/3ER, 7K:0BB and gave up 2HR for a hard-luck loss. But this story is more about Aaron Boone than about Corpus' loss to Midland. Boone was 0x2 in right field last night, five months after undergoing open heart surgery.

"For the first day, it went pretty well. I wasn't overly emotional. The crowd gave me a nice hand. It was part of the process, part of the journey I'm on to hopefully making it back in a few weeks. I think if I were to play in the Majors, it would be more emotional for me. It felt like a [Spring] Training game. I had some nerves and excitement. It felt OK, though it was a little overwhelming facing a real pitcher. I'm in shape and ready to do this, and it was very rewarding to be back out there."

The Gastros tied it up with Elizabethton in the 9th, but the Elizabethtons got it back in the bottom of the 9th, winning 3-2. Greeneville managed just five hits - two from Jiovanni Mier - and Wilton Infante hit a homer, but the Gastros committed three errors (none to come back and bite them with unearned runs). Gabe Garcia threw 6IP, 4H/2ER, 5K:1BB. Abraham Gonzalez threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 3K:1BB relief, but David Martinez gave up 1H/1ER, 0K:2BB, getting just one out in the 9th, and the loss.

Hang on, Coop intentionally walked Nick Johnson to get to Hanley Ramirez?

Richard Justice:
Challenging Hanley Ramirez is an unusual way to try to win a baseball game, but maybe Cooper figured that because the logical ways weren’t working, he’d try something completely different.

Coop, on walking Johnson to get to Hanley Ramirez:
“I don’t have a problem with that."

“That’s the first time I’ve seen it."

Yep. Nick Johnson has been intentionally walked four times this season. But never was he walked to get to the National League leader in batting average. Before last night.

Coop had Sampson intentionally walk Nick Johnson to get to Hanley Ramirez, who leads the NL with a .348 average, 7th in OBP (.412), 9th in SLG (.554), 7th in OPS (.966), 2nd in hits (139), 7th in total bases (221), 3rd in doubles (32), 7th in RBI (75), 5th in OPS+ (154).

This doesn't even take into account the fact that Ramirez is now hitting .421 with RISP (45x107), .406 with runners on 1st and 2nd, and .452 with 2 outs and RISP.

Now Johnson ain't no slouch, either. He's hitting .313 with runners on base, and .329 with runners specifically on 1st, but he's also "only" hitting .286 with 2 outs and RISP.

One other clue might be Sampson's splits among lefties and righties. Against LHBs (a group to which Nick Johnson belongs), Sampson this season is allowing a line of .306/.348/.407. Against RHBs (Hanley Ramirez), Sampson's line is .255/.325/.418. Sampson is a good pitcher, but Ramirez is tagging RHPs to the tune of .363/.429/.613, Johnson? .280/.402/.373.

Johnson is a good hitter, but I just can't figure out why Coop would try to get to Hanley Ramirez, and I think Coop overplayed his hand.

Chris Sampson and his torn hip

Cecil Cooper expressed some concern about the increasingly ineffective Chris Sampson:

“I am a little concerned. Chris is usually pretty effective. He’s been missing his spots with his sinker. It’s been up, and he can’t afford to have his sinker up in the zone.”

Since returning from the DL on July 27 (and immediately getting sent in for the 12th/13th innings against the Cubs - the exact opposite of a low-pressure situation Coop promised to keep him out of for a while), here's Sampson's line:

7IP, 13H/10ER (12.86 ERA/2.71 WHIP), 6K:6BB, .394/.487/.606 against.

Justice is putting this lapse on the torn hip labrum that Sampson has tried to pitch through (which he was doing effectively...for a while), and keep in mind it's a torn hip labrum that sidelined Alex Rodriguez for six weeks - or something close to it.

News. Notes. Michaels is in a non-rewarding job

With Roy back on the mound for the first time in two weeks, the Astros are close to being at full strength, but injuries to Roy, Berkman, LaHawk couldn't have come at a worse time, as we're winding up the three weeks that we all looked at as being among the most important of the season, and the Astros were 5-11 in their last 16 games.

Since Berkman left the lineup on July 24, the Astros saw their CoolStandings playoff chances drop from a season high 20.4% to what is currently a 1.4% chance, lowest since the Astros were 19-28 on May 30.

“All you can do is try to stay close and have one of those streaks like we really need. We need to win five, six, seven in a row. We haven't had one of those all year.“

That's true. The Astros have put together two separate 4-game winning streaks, but that's been it.

Despite acting as an injury replacement for Michael Bourn, and going 6x13 with four extra-base hits and six RBI, Michaels is back on the bench:

“We've got our guys back in there. and our outfield has been a big part of our success this year. Those guys are playing great, which means limited time for us. It's a non-rewarding job. The numbers are not going to be there. You can have a good at-bat and maybe ground out. On paper, it's 0-for-1, but maybe you had the guy throw seven, eight, nine pitches. Maybe the guy after you saw something and ends up getting a base hit.”

Update on Disaster Starts

Last Thursday we had a post on Disaster Starts, in which the starting pitcher allows as many runs as innings pitched. I was too lazy to do the leg work on how the Astros compared to the rest of the NL Central, but Citizen Jeff was not. He posted this in the comments section, but it's worth a re-post, with stats current though 10 August. Captip to Citizen Jeff:

Brewers: 27 disaster starts in 111 games = 24.3%
Reds: 26/111 games = 23.4%
Astros: 25/112 games = 22.3%
Pirates: 23/111 = 20.7%
Cardinals: 20/114 = 17.5%
Cubs: 17/110 = 15.5.%

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recap for G112 - Astros @ Marlins

Not going to go to the playoffs like that. But hang on, listen to what Coop said, in ESPN's game recap, after the Marlins had taken a 7-2 lead, on their way to an 8-6 win:

"We're not built to fight back like that. We did give it a pretty good go. We got to two runs down, but we've got to shut it down once we do get back in the game there. We got back in the game 4-2, but we just couldn't close the door and shut them off."

Just let that soak in. For a moment. I'll put it in again, just because it needs to be fully comprehended:

"We're not built to fight back like that."

Moehler let the Marlins get out to a 4-0 lead in the first, and the Astros fought back, and then gave it right back. Let's just do the thing:

Moehler: 5IP, 5H/4ER, 3K:3BB, 15/23 first-pitch strikes, 20/49 non-contact strikes (15 called:5 swinging)
Sampson: 2IP, 4H/3ER, 0K:3BB, 7/11 FPS, 7/18 NCS (6c:1s)
Arias: 1IP, 1H/1ER, 1K:1BB, 3/5 FPS, 5/9 NCS (5c)

Alright, I'm not done with Moehler's first inning, and then I'm coming after you, Chris Sampson. Moehler walked the first batter he faced, and then gave up a single. Hanley Ramirez flied out to center, but then there were three hits in a row, and a sac fly. There's your four runs, and ol' Henricus struck out with the bases loaded - so it could have been a lot worse coming out of the first.

A 2-run Erstad homer cut that in half, and then everything stayed pretty much together after that, except for the Astros offense. In the five remaining innings in which Moehler pitched, the Astros stranded five runners, including 0x5 with RISP. And that's just in innings 2-6. Ahh, the 6th.

Chris Sampson came in, gave up a single, a walk, a move-da-runners ovah groundout. Ross Gload was intentionally walked to load the bases, and then in comes Baker on a balk by Sampson. Coghlan singled in Cody Ross - Gload was thrown at home, and then Nick Johnson was intentionally reach NL batting leader Hanley Ramirez (hmmm...), who prompty singled in Coghlan, and just like that, it's 7-2, and God forbid you ask the Astros to come back from a 5-run deficit with nine outs remaining. You can only ask the Astros to lead a game wire-to-wire. That's how the Astros were built.

Erstad came through with an RBI double in the 8th, and Arias gave it back on a wild pitch. It got a little interesting in the 9th. Carlos Lee doubled in Matsui and Tejada, Lee later scored on a balk of Florida's own, and Pence struck out to end the game. Tejada, Lee, Pence, Pudge, and Erstad had all the Astros' hits.

Pitch Count Hero: Hunter Pence, 25 pitches in 5 PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Miguel Tejada, 13 pitches in 5 PAs (though it's hard to question him, he got three hits)

Man of the Match: Darin Erstad. Three RBIs including a monster two-run shot.

Goat of the Game: It's not going to Moehler. This Goat's for you, Chris Sampson. Seven baserunners (two of the intentional variety) in 2IP and a balk. 37 pitches, and the Marlins swung and missed at one. On July 9, Sampson's ERA was 2.68. Eight appearances, 7.2IP and 12 earned runs later, and it's sitting at 4.36.

Berkman's imminent return?

Brian McTaggart is quoting Lance Berkman on his return:

Berkman on returning to lineup: "I would be surprised if it wasn't tomorrow or Wednesday."

Examiner says Astros signing Smoltz a "strong possibility"

Which is also like saying it's an option. However, the Examiner chimes in:

With reliever Doug Brocail landing on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder and left-handed starter Mike Hampton battling a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, Astros general manager Ed Wade could be in the market for a veteran arm to provide stability to both the rotation and bullpen.

History proves that owner Drayton McLane jumps at the opportunity to sign aging veterans to cost-effective, low-risk, potential high reward contracts. Like Hampton in the offseason, Smoltz fits the profile for McLane.

After taking the weekend series at Minute Maid Park against the Brewers, Houston remains tied for third and six games out of first in the NL Central. It may appear to be a lost cause, but McLane typically refuses to throw in the towel

In 2006, the no-hope Astros were eight games behind the divisional-leading St. Louis Cardinals before going on a 10-2 tear to close out the season. Had they not dropped the final game of the season in Atlanta, Houston would have forced a playoff.

Ironically, it was Smoltz's six scoreless innings which officially concluded the Astros' season.

With the door closing on Smoltz in Boston, another might open in Houston. Ultimately, the decision to continue playing comes down to Smoltz, but he should have plenty of options.

I hope Smoltz does pitch, and pitch well, again. I just hope it isn't here.

Lineup for G112 - Astros @ Marlins

Courtesy McTaggart:

Bourn CF
Matsui 2B
Tejada SS
Lee LF
Blum 3B
Pence RF
Pudge C
Erstad 1B
Moehler P

Matchup here.

Astros attendance projected to decline for a third straight year

Richard Justice projects attendance at Minute Maid Park to hit 2.478 million this season, down for the third straight year.

Let's look:
2003: 2,454,241 (30,299 per game)
2004: 3,087,872 (38,121/gm)
2005: 2,804,760 (34,626/gm)
2006: 3,022,763 (37,318/gm)
2007: 3,020,405 (37,288/gm)
2008: 2,779,287 (34,741/gm)
Per game in 2009: (30,590/gm)

The per-game attendance is at its lowest since 2003, and Justice's projected total attendance would also be its lowest since 2003.

For a mid-season explanation of a decline in 2009 attendance, click here.

Thank you, New Orleans!

Thanks to someone in New Orleans, who clicked a link to Astros County where I posted a comment in The Unofficial Scorer's blog post. Why should I thank them? That person was visitor #25,000 to Astros County.

Astros County was birthed on November 6, 2008, and have no plans to stop (though The Wife may make me take a break sooner or later).

To read the Astros County Manifesto, click here.

Thanks for your support.

Interview with Wayne Phillips

Wayne Phillips covers the Greeneville Astros for the Greeneville Sun. Astros County asked him some questions, he answered those very same questions...

AC: What type of ballpark is Pioneer Park?
WP: Pioneer Park, located on the campus of Tusculum College, is widely regarded by many scouts, including Astros front office people, as one of the best minor league parks anywhere. It could handle a Class A team quite comfortably. I'm not sure if it can be classified as a hitters' park, but there are plenty of homers hit out. It's 330 down the lines and 400 to straight center, and it takes quite a poke to hit one out to dead center.

AC: Can you tell us more about 1st Round pick Jiovanni Mier? What is his approach to the game (when he plays, we've heard about the bone bruise - and how serious is it?)
WP: Jiovanni Mier is the real deal. He's the best pure shortstop I've seen come through here on any team. I'm sure his bat has not been what Houston would like at this point, but he's truly a pleasure to watch play his position. He's made some plays to his right and comes up leaping with arm good enough to get an out at first base. Playing defense is just effortless for him.

He missed over a week with the bone bruise, but he was back in the lineup Sunday for a doubleheader with Bristol. The team is just much better with him in the lineup, and I'm sure (Astros manager) Linares would tell you the same thing. Mier is a real fan favorite and has been very approachable, both by the media and the fans. He signs autographs daily and seems to enjoy it.

AC: Who do you look forward to seeing play on a daily basis?
WP: Mier. I love to watch him play defense and see him cover all the ground.

AC: Who has surprised you this season?
WP: The biggest surprise by far has been Jose Altuve, the second baseman who has become a crowd favorite with his hustle. He's batted lead-off most of the year and gets on base regularly. He leads the team in hitting, and is among the league leaders in stolen bases, runs scored and triples. He was here last year and we never figured he would make it. I think they list him 5'8" on the roster, but he seems smaller than that. He has some pop in his bat for a little guy, and he's a solid defensive second baseman.

AC: We held a poll where we adopted a minor-league player. Aaron Bray won convincingly, so what can you tell us about Bray? Good choice?
WP: Linares has used several players at first base this year. Aaron Bray may be the best there. He's played in 30 of 46 games thus far and inconsistency with the bat probably keeps him from being the regular there. He's batting .219 and has no homers and only 11 RBIs. Kyle Miller, a second year guy, has been used a lot at first base lately but he's batting only .172.

Thanks to Wayne for answering those questions, and czech out the Greeneville Sun for game recaps of Gastros games.

Matchup for G112 - Astros @ Marlins

The Astros make their first trip to south Florida this week to face the hot/cold Florida Marlins. Who knows what to expect out of the Marlins in this game. Since the All-Star Break, they got swept at home by the Phillies, then swept the Padres. They won series against the Dodgers, Braves, and Cubs, and then got swept by the Nationals. And then they just finished a sweep of the Phillies. Whatever, they're 12-9 since the All-Star break, and are playing at home for the first time since August 2.

The Astros are 24-28 on the road, while the Marlins are 29-26 at home.

Brian Moehler
I just don't even pretend to know what to expect from Moehler. He's 7-7 with a 5.23 ERA, and has not won a game this season in which he has given up more than 3ER. Only once has he thrown a quality start and lost. But he does have six Disaster Starts, including two of his last three starts (though, to be fair, two of those Disaster Starts were pre-known injury Brian Moehler).

Last three starts:

7/26 vNYM4.28/52:211/1089/57
7/31 @StL6.27/25:111/1098/66
8/5 vSF69/6 (7 tot)5:17/1589/59

2009 road record: 5-1 (8 starts), 3.91 ERA/1.37 WHIP, 46IP, 31K:15BB
Career @ Whatever that Stadium is called: 5-11 (35 games/25 starts), 4.91 ERA/1.47 WHIP, 152IP, 91K:45BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .361/.400/.619, 37K:16BB
vs Lefties: .230/.297/.387, 40K:20BB

When swinging at the first pitch (52): .429/.440/.776, 9XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (228): .279/.314/.465, 45K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (179): .271/.360/.458, 23K:21BB

RISP: 32x102, .314/.398/.500, 13K:15BB
Runners on: 55x183, .301/.368/.497, 28K:19BB
2OwRISP: 8x44, .182/.265/.295, 8K:5BB

Henricus VandenHurk

Rick - as he is known to teammates - VandenHurk, who, with LaTroy Hawkins, leads the league in random capitalizations (I know, he's Dutch. That's their national pastime). He'll take the hill for his 5th start of the season, and just his second at home. He's 1-1 with a 4.29 ERA, only joining the Marlins this season on July 20.

Last three appearances:

7/25 @LA55/13:37/892/55
7/30 vATL64/29:17/695/69
8/5 @WAS47/54:17/877/47

He has never faced Houston before.
@ Dolphin Stadium (car): 2-4, 6.00 ERA/1.75 WHIP, 66H/38ER, 69K:34BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .219/.265/.500, 7K:1BB
vs Lefties: .286/.375/.633, 13K:6BB

When swinging at the first pitch (9): .667/.667/1.333, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (39): .171/.256/.371, 12K:2BB
After First-Pitch Balls (42): .243/.333/.595, 8K:5BB

RISP: 5x21, .238/.333/.333, 3K:2BB
Runners on: 6x28, .214/.313/.357, 4K:3BB
2OwRISP: 1x10, .100/.250/.100, 1K:2BB


August 7
Wilder Parra was assigned to Lexington from the GCL Astros

August 9
Lancaster placed 3B David Flores on the 7-day DL
Andy Simunic was assigned to Lancaster from Lexington

August 10
Switcheroo as red-hot Jose Altuve was called up to Tri-City, and Ben Orloff was sent to Greeneville.

Eddie's Farm: August 9

I'm trying to remember a day in which the minor-leaguers had a winning record for the day. That day was yesterday, as teams from Greeneville to Round Rock went 4-3.

Round Rock
Erick Abreu improved his age to 26, and his record to 2-0, as the Express beat Portland 6-4. Lou Santangelo was 2x4, and the other seven hits were scattered among seven other Expressists. Mark Saccomanno was 1x4 with 2RBI, Chris Johnson had a sac fly, and Tommy Manzella walked three times. Abrew threw 6IP, 5H/4ER, 4K:1BB while Gervacio, Daigle, and Paronto threw 3IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:1BB in relief.

Corpus Christi
Corpus scored two runs in the bottom of the 7th, but it wasn't enough as Midland won 3-2. Sutil and Florentino had two-hit games, with Sutil and Felix Molina getting the RBIs. Sergio Perez took the loss, throwing 6IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:0BB, mainly because all three Midland runs came on homers. C-Lo threw 2IP, 0H/0ER to lower his Double-A ERA to 3.00.

The JetHawks took a 4-3 lead into the 7th, but a run in the bottom of the 7th and five in the 8th gave Bakersfield a 9-6 win. The only JetHawk without a hit was Jon Gaston, who was 0x5 with 4Ks (ouch). Rosario, Weston, and Corrado had two hits each. Chris Salamida threw 6.1IP, 6H/4ER, 4K:2BB, while Francisco Abad took the loss with a 3ER, three-out performance. Jordan Powell also gave up 2ER in 0.2IP.

But it's good news from here on out!

The Legends held off a late Asheville charge and won 7-6. Michael Diaz was 3x4 with a double and a triple, Brian Pellegrini and Steve Brown had two hits each - Brown had three RBI on a 2-run single and a solo homer. David Duncan threw 6IP, 8H/4ER, 5K:1BB.

Well, almost. Tri-City had a 2-0 lead in the sixth, but a 4-run inning will end that pretty quickly, and Williamsport emerged victorious 6-2. Barry Butera had two hits, Sean Barksdale hit a double, and J.D. Martinez hit his 4th homer of the season. Wander Alvino threw 6IP, 7H/4ER, and gave up 2HR in the loss.

Double-header for the Gastros...
Game 1: Jose Altuve was 3x4 with two doubles, Jiovanni Mier was 2x4, and Jonathan Meyer was 2x2 (each had an RBI). Juri Perez threw 5.2IP, 4H/1ER, 6K:3BB to improve to 3-0 and Travis Smink got his 5th save of the year in a 6-2 win.
Game 2: The Gastros took both games, this one with a 5-3 win, thanks mostly to Jonathan Meyer's first two professional homers, accounting for three of the Gastros' runs. Grant Hogue was 2x3 with a triple. Luis Cruz threw 4IP, 3H/2ER, 3K:2BB and Joan Belliard got the win with 3IP, 2H/0ER. The pitching staff induced four GIDPs, and got 13 groundball outs, compared to two flyball outs. Our boy Aaron Bray was not in the lineup in either game.

Would the Astros take a flier on Smoltz?

I hope not, but there's some baseless speculation in this MLB article.

The Red Sox would like Smoltz to restructure a clause in his contract that allows him to make $35,000 for each day he is on the Major League roster.

The report also states it is unlikely that any NL team would be willing to take Smoltz in a trade without the Red Sox agreeing to some form of financial adjustment. The Dodgers, Cubs, Brewers and Astros are seeking pitching.

Are the Astros really seeking pitching (beyond the given that every team is always looking for pitching)? With a rotation - in effect later this week - of Oswalt, Wandy, Moehler, Hampton, Norris (and Bazardo, should Hampton not be able to go), would you want Easy Eddie to take a chance on Smoltz?

Astros coming back from injury, but is it too late?

Notes in the Chronicle this morning detailing various recovering injuries on the team:

“They want me to run. I haven't run at full speed. Then we'll see Tuesday or Wednesday.”

He has run in the pool and done calf exercises in the weight room. He'll be on the field today or tomorrow and hopes to come off the DL during this series against Florida.
Threw a 40-pitch bullpen Sunday and is ready to take the mound tomorrow in Florida.
“The biggest thing is just command right now. In the bullpen, it's OK, but you can tell when you get in the game if your command is going to be there. I don't have any pain.”
“It's a little bit sore. I guess I kind of expected to find something going on in there. I'll go out there and throw a bullpen on Tuesday and see how it goes. Hopefully, it goes well and I can pitch. It's just something I'm going to have to deal with the rest of the year. I don't think surgery is an option right now because it would pretty much end my season, and I don't want to do that. I've had two meniscus tears in my left knee in prior seasons, and it's just something I've dealt with. I talked with the doc, and he said as long as I can handle the pain I'll be all right to get out there and pitch, and it's something we can take care of in the offseason.”

This will probably be a topic of discussion later today, but it's mentioned that if Hampton can't go on his next scheduled start (series finale @ Florida), Bazardo would take his place in the rotation. Which I would be in favor of, anyway...
Spring Training begins today. Boone will begin a lengthy rehab at Corpus today, and will be eased in "as if he were beginning the start of the Grapefruit League schedule."
“I'm ready to do this. I'm playing five innings at third base (tonight), and then I think I'm five at first the next night after that, then another five at third or DH. I'm excited. I'll be in Corpus, I think, 10 or 12 days. Then assuming things are going well, I'll go to Round Rock for a week or so and then join the team in Arizona and hopefully be activated on the first (of September), I guess I felt like (playing again) was possible. It was just pretty low on the list at the time. I knew probably in the back of my mind if things went well and I progressed well that I would try. That's been kind of my approach to it the whole time. If I'm feeling up to it, I want to try, and I am.”

If Boone is activated on 1 Sept, wouldn't that mean he would technically be a September call-up?
Will throw a simulated game today in anticipation of his activation date on Wednesday.
“I'm facing hitters, and we'll see how it goes. I still have an aftershock every now and then, but it's part of the whole shingles thing.”

So the Astros sit four games behind the Cubs, six games behind the Cardinals, and six games behind the Rockies and Giants (with six teams between them) for the Wild Card lead. It will be easier to win the division than the Wild Card. However, one of those six teams is the Marlins, against whom the Astros have a chance to put a dent in that space.

The Astros only have 22 home games left, compared to 28 away games. The teams between the Astros and the Wild Card lead are, in order: Rockies/Giants, Cubs, Marlins, Braves, and Brewers.

How many games remain against each team?
Rockies/Giants: In both cases, zero
Cubs: Three, all away
Marlins: Six, 3h/3a
Braves: Three, all home
Brewers: Six, all away

And then there are three games with the Cardinals, at Beck's Stadium, remaining.

So it's a possibility. A long-shot, but a possibility. According to Buster Olney, there is "a lot more waiver-claiming going on than expected." He also notes that, with the Brewers six games back, they could be waving the white flag. Know who else is six games back? Yep. Will the Astros wave the white flag? Probably not.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Who's running this team? Cecil Cooper or Bud Kilmer?

McTaggart is tweeting that Mike Hampton has taken cortisone shots in both knees and will pitch through the pain. Look for Lance Harbor to take over and call for a division-clinching suicide squeeze in G162.

Recap for G111 - Brewers @ Astros

Two people were responsible for the Astros 2-0 win over the Brewers today: Wandy, and Geoff Blum. Wandy threw seven shutout innings, though the Brewers certainly helped him out, and Blum had two hits - one of them a two-run homer.

Here's the thing:
Wandy: 7IP, 5H/0ER, 3K:2BB, 19/29 first-pitch strikes, 37/72 non-contact strikes (28 called:9 swinging)
Fulchino: 0.2IP, 1H/0ER, 1BB, 1/4 FPS, 0/8 NCS
Valverde: 1.1IP, 1H/0ER, 2K, 4/6 FPS, 10/22 NCS (6c:4s)

The Brewers left 12 men on base (7 hits, 3 walks, and Jason Kendall was plunked twice), going 0x10 with RISP. They had two on in the first before Braun GIDPed; bases loaded in the 2nd before Lopez grounded out to third, and had a baserunner in every inning. Fulchino was brought in for Wandy in the 8th after Wandy allowed a single to Fielder and walked Frank Catalanotto. With Craig Counsell hitting for J.J. Hardy, Coop brought in Valverde, who got Counsell to pop up to second. With two on and nobody out in the 9th, Valverde got Lopez to fly out and Cameron and Braun to strike out looking to end the game.

Blum hit his homer off Gallardo in the 4th, after Lee had walked. The 4th could have been a much bigger inning as Michaels walked after Blum's homer (who then advanced to 2nd on a WP). Erstad struck out, and Quintero was intentionally walked to get to Wandy, on whose infield single Michaels decided to go for it from third, and was promptly tagged out, ending the inning.

Erstad was tagged out at third on Quintero's fielder's choice, which was a questionable baserunning decision (but that's Astros Baseball. Catch the malaise!).
Once again, the Astros were aggressive at the plate, seeing only 119 pitches - compared to the 165 pitches Milwaukee saw.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn - 21 pitches on four plate appearances
Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee - 10 pitches on 4 PAs (and one of those was a walk!)

Man of the Match: I'm going with Blum. Wandy is the easy decision, but it was Blum who provided the big hit.

Goat of the Game: Darin Erstad? Tagged out at third after hitting a leadoff double, and struck out twice.

Internet down

Admin problems this morning, so the question is: Did Coop act carelessly having Bazardo make his ML debut on two days rest?