Saturday, August 22, 2009

Astros sign Armando Benitez...?

Couldn't let this one go by. The Astros have signed "36"-year old pitcher Armando Benitez to a minor-league deal and will send him to Round Rock, on the suggestion of Enos Cabell. Benitez has been pitching for the Newark Bears.

"Enos reported that Armando was in very good shape and was throwing well," Wade said. "Tim Raines, who is managing the Newark club, believes that Benitez is highly motivated to get back to the big leagues.

"We'll give Armando a chance to finish the season at Round Rock and then determine where we go from there."

Weekend note

Got some buddies in town I haven't seen in a while, so posts are going to be sparse. Which leads to a bigger question. Anyone interested in picking up the weekends on Astros County can email and let me know.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Some nuggets

A few things I missed over the last couple of days that were picked up over at Misplaced Astros Fan's blog:

-Matt Nevarez pitched last 0.1IP last night, giving up a hit but recording a strikeout, for the Legends.
-The Astros signed 28-year old pitcher Billy Sadler, released on 8/10 by the Giants.

With a fastball in the low nineties and a curveball he throws to keep hitters off-balance, Sadler has looked very good at times. He seems to have added a slider and a split-finger, and still throws his changeup for strikes.

He'll be 28 soon, so don't expect him to get heaps better, but this is a very nice low-risk signing by the Astros, and he could provide depth late into the season.

Sadler pitched with the GCL Astros yesterday.

Lineup for G122 - D''''''d''''s @ Astros

Lineup for tonight:


Note a couple of things: Quintero and his two XBH in two games since Pudge left takes a seat. So does Matsui, as Keppinger gets the start at 2B. Not Maysonet.

Matchup for G122 - Diam'nd'ac's @ Astros

40 games left this season, and the Diamondbacks are reeling. The Di'mon''ack' are 54-68, 42-51 since A.J. Hinch took the team over, and are 18 GB of Los Angeles. Since the All-Star Break, Arizona is 16-17, they're 4-6 in their last 10, and have lost five straight games - their longest since June 28.

Roy Oswalt

Since leaving with an injury against the Cubs on July 28, Roy has given up 11ER in 11IP and has walked multiple batters in consecutive games for the first time since June 24/29.

Last three starts:

7/28 @StL1.21/02:01/220/14
8/11 @FLA59/63:28/1192/57
8/16 @MIL68/55:28/1294/65

Yep. Thanks to his last two starts, Roy's season ERA is back over 4.00 (4.01) for the first time since June 29. In his last two starts, batters are hitting .386/.449/.614.

2009 home record: 2-2 (10 starts), 3.98 ERA/1.34 WHIP, 63.1IP, 52K:15BB
Career vs. Florida: 5-4 (12 games), 3.72 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 77.1IP, 69K:24BB
Career @ Minute Maid: 74-24 (136 starts), 2.77 ERA/1.11 WHIP, 905.2IP, 782K:185BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .239/.299/.407, 54K:20BB
vs Lefties: .283/.326/.439, 60K:17BB

When swinging at the first pitch (79): .356/.356/.630, 11XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (317): .213/.249/.314, 82K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (214): .297/.390/.514, 32K:27BB

RISP: 24x105, .229/.346/.362, 27K:17BB
Runners on: 50x208, .240/.322/.413, 43K:23BB
2OwRISP: 9x49, .184/.333/.245, 17K:8BB

Yusmeiro Petit

But at least it's a favorable match-up. Petit's ERA, WHIP, H/9, BB/9, and HR are as high as they have ever been. Petit comes in with a 6.47 ERA in 65.1IP, and 16HR allowed - just north of two per nine innings.

Last three appearances:

8/4 @PIT81/04:36/16108/74
8/9 @WAS49/33:16/1183/58
8/16 vLA49/73:43/1479/53

In two starts since throwing 8IP, 1H/0ER at Pittsburgh on August 4, Petit has thrown 8IP, 18H/10ER.

vs. Houston career: 1-0 (2 games), 6.23 ERA/1.39 WHIP, 6K:3BB
2009 Road: 1-2, (5 starts), 4.15 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 19K:11BB
@MMP career: 1-0 (1 start), 2.57 ERA/0.71 WHIP, 5K:1BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .254/.309/.449, 40K:20BB
vs Lefties: .307/.369/.553, 37K:27BB

When swinging at the first pitch (35): .364/.364/.727, 6XBH (3HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (160): .272/.313/.517, 43K:9BB
After First-Pitch Balls (105): .289/.390/.511, 12K:15BB

RISP: 21x70, .300/.355/.543, 11K:6BB
Runners on: 39x112, .348/.402/.679, 18K:10BB
2OwRISP: 12x39, .308/.372/.487, 6K:4BB

Urckfitz sent to Lancaster

August 20
Pitcher Patrick Urckfitz was called up to Lancaster from Lexington yesterday.
Lancaster placed righty Casey Hudspeth on the DL yesterday, necessitating the move.
Corpus activated 3B Felix Molina from the Temporarily Inactive list

August 19
LHP Andy Van Hekken was assigned to Round Rock from Corpus Christi

August 15
Just a side note, 2009 Astro Rule V pick Gil de la Vara was placed on the 7-Day DL by NW Arkansas with a thigh contusion.

Eddie's Farm: August 20

Everybody played last night - and went 2-4.

Round Rock
A 5-run 4th inning from Las Vegas pretty much did it in a 8-2 loss for the Express. Reggie Abercrombie and Lou Santangelo had two hits, and Mark Saccomanno hit his 13th homer of the year. The Express left nine on base and were 1x9 with RISP. Josh Muecke gave up 6H/5R (though 0 earned) in 5.2IP. Geary threw 1.1IP, 2H/0ER, and Chris Sampson - why is he still pitching! - gave up 3H/3ER in 1IP. This drives me crazy. Someone should do an intervention and shut him down for the year before his career blows up at the hands of Cecil Cooper and Ed Wade.

Heartbreaker last night as the Hooks fell in 12 innings, 2-1 to Arkansas. Well, not so much of a heartbreaker. The Hooks left 17 men on base and were 1x12 with RISP. Sutil, Locke, Castro, and DeLome had two hits each, with DeLome had the only XBH with a double. Kenny Baugh threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, Danny Meszaros threw 3IP, 2H, with 6K:0BB. Charlie Weatherby III took the loss with 2IP, 4H/1ER, allowing a ground rule double and a single for the walk-off.

First win for the young'uns as Lancaster beat Lake Elsinore 5-2. Koby Clemens was 3x4 (homer shy of the cycle), while T.J. Steele had two hits. Brandon Barnes had a 2-run homer of his own. Chris Salamida went the distance: 9IP, 4H/2ER, 1K:2BB for his 4th win of the season (4-1).

Kannapolis scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th, giving them the final margin in a 7-5 win over Lexington. Suttle, Wikoff, and Williams had two hits each. Jeff Hulett had a 2-run single. The limp RISP average continues, as the Legends were 2x14 with RISP. Robert Bono threw 5IP, 6H/2ER, 4K:0BB. Antonio Noguera and Kyle Godfrey combined for 2.2IP, 4H/5ER, 3K:3BB in relief.

The ValleyCats put the whoomp on Staten Island 7-2 last night, despite going 3x17 with RISP. What the heck is it with these teams? Erik Castro was 2x5, while Goebbert (2), Martinez, Castro, and Medrano all had RBIs. Dallas Keuchel got his first win of the season with 5IP, 5H/2ER, 3K:1BB, and his ERA is now 1.94. Sarisky and MacDonald threw 4IP, 4H/0ER in relief.

The Gastros and Danville were locked in a 2-2 tie for seven innings until Danville scored one in the bottom of the 8th to win 3-2. Greeneville scored two runs despite only getting two hits - from Oscar Figueroa and Ben Orloff. Our boy Aaron Bray was 0x2 with 2BB and a run scored. Luis Cruz threw 5IP, 5H/2ER, 3K:1BB, and Murillo Gouvea got his 3rd loss of the season with 3IP, 1H/1R (unearned), 4K:0BB.

This time last year the Astros were a little concerned about Bourn


"Michael has shown really good strides this year. Last year, we had some concerns, but he's been very good this year. We've asked him to be the guy to set the tone. In the first few weeks of the season, we hit him second or down at the bottom, but there came a time when we had to move him. It came more out of necessity, because Kaz [Matsui] got a little beat up and we had to move him up, but since that time [Bourn's] taken off...

...The big key for Michael is when he gets on base he creates havoc and difficulties for the opposition. When he's on base we're a much better team. Let's face it, we are. He creates those situations where he steals a base or puts pressure on the defense and the pitcher. That makes them deal with the guys coming up behind him...

...His defense continues to shine, and he just keeps getting better. He's getting great jumps and breaks, and he's just a phenomenal defensive player."

Vallejo added, Hampton "bleak," call-ups

The Astros officially added infielder Jose Vallejo to the organization yesterday, in the Pudge trade. He's expected to join Round Rock tomorrow.

“He's a 22-year-old infielder, primarily a second baseman. Guys on our grading system defensively and from a speed standpoint, they give him 60 grades, and 50 is average major leagues. He's got excellent range, an excellent throwing arm, a very good runner. He stole 40-plus bases in both '07 and '08. He hasn't been running as much this year. He has 10 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A. We think he profiles as an everyday second-base prospect or possibly a utility guy because we think he has a versatility to go play other positions.”
Have we seen the last of Mike Hampton? It certainly looks that way, as he will attempt to rehab his jacked-up shoulder to try and pitch again this season, though surgery is inevitable, given his partial-tear in the rotator cuff.

“My first question was, ‘Can I not have anything done and still be able to throw my kids (batting practice) and still play catch with my kids?' That's my first concern, really. You throw baseball out of the window and see about quality of life. I talked to Dr. (David) Lintner, and he said, ‘Eventually you're going to have to get some kind of surgery.' Being 37 I'm always very active. Eventually I'm going to have to have something done. When that time period is? Who knows. That's why I keep saying day-to-day....

...I'm going to approach it like I'm going to go out and pitch again. Hopefully I can go. I could have said (all the rehabs are too much) three years ago. It's obviously a question that I ask myself all the time. When is it time? Or do I have the surgery and continue to pitch? John Smoltz had pretty major surgery last year and he got back and he's pitching.”

Brocail will begin a rehab assignment in Round Rock on Saturday, pitching one inning on Saturday and Monday, and two innings on Wednesday and Friday. If his arm doesn't detach from his body, he should be ready to go on August 31 against the Cubs.
Don't expect to see players having good seasons down on Eddie's Farm in an Astros jersey come September 1, just because.

“September recalls, I'm a believer that if we're going to bring guys up, they have to have a role here. It's not a reward or a showcase, so I would doubt it. We'll continue to evaluate. I don't expect us to bring a whole lot of guys up. We have a few people coming off the disabled list that will be here. Our numbers probably won't be significant.”

Yeah. Why would you reward someone who has had a good season with someone else carrying bags, and getting a seat on a charter jet. There's no incentive in it. Whatever, any thoughts as to whom those players may be? I'm guessing Boone and Towles for now.

Recap for G121 - Marlins at Astros

Hey. Wait a minute. Did the Astros just win a series? I think they did. Wandy was July Wandy, and the Astros cruised to a 4-1 win, outdueling Josh Johnson.

Wandy was dominant, breaking Florida's 10-hit/game streak, and throwing 70 of his 103 pitches for strikes in eight innings of work. Interestingly enough (as McTaggart pointed out during the game), 29 of those pitches came in the first inning. And because Astros County brings you the math for free, that means he threw 74 pitches in the remaining seven innings of his outing.

Wandy: 8IP, 4H/1R (0ER), 7K:2BB, 23/29 first-pitch strikes, 39/70 non-contact strikes (30 called:9 swinging)
Valverde: 1IP, 2K, 2/3 FPS, 6/10 NCS (2c:4s)

Wandy's 39 non-contact strikes tied a season-high, and his 30 called strikes in a single outing is a career-high. And Valverde's perfect outing was his first since July 24.

The Law Offices of Tejada, Berkman, and Lee, were 4x12 with 2RBI and 2 runs scored. Lee and Pence both hit big ol' bombs. My dad was at the game last night and called me after Lee's homer and said "That was the 3rd longest homer I've ever seen." I didn't ask who hit the two longest, but I'm pretty sure that it's Dale Murphy and Albert F. Pujols.

Hey, but Quintero was 1x3 with a run scored, and also threw out Hanley Ramirez at second base.

In sad news, Matsui was 0x3, and now has one hit in his last 26 PAs. He also has one walk in that span. So his line since August 12 is .040/.076/.040. Real happy that Maysonet is on the bench. If Tejada and Valverde were placed on waivers, and someone claimed them, and the Astros pulled them back (meaning they can't be traded), did another team really claim Matsui? Can he not just be released? Because this is ridiculous.

Pitch Count Hero: Miguel Tejada - 22 pitches in 4 PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Kaz Matsui - 8 pitches in 3 PAs

Man of the Match: Wandy Rodriguez. Shut down the Marlins offense, which hasn't happened much in the last two weeks.

Goat of the Game: Kaz Matsui. His .288 OBP for the year is embarrassing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ed Wade on Mike Hampton

After receiving a pain-numbing injection (Kilmer?) today, Mike Hampton is trying to rehab his shoulder instead of surgerying it. Will he pitch again this season? Let's ask Ed Wade:

"Not confident. Hopeful, for his sake."

Astros lineup for G121 - Marlins @ Astros

Lineup for Tonight's Game:

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

Astros close to another signing

This time, reportedly, it's infielder Chan-Jong Moon out of Korea, for $350,000.

From Zachary Levine:
The Astros would not confirm this, but a person with knowledge of the situation told me that the process of making him an Astro should continue when he is brought to the U.S. in September.

If you read Korean, read it, and let us know what it says.

It's actually amazing how little Google comes up with when you search for Chan-Jong Moon.

Matchup for G121 - Marlins @ Astros

G121 - meaning the Astros have 41 games to put something together. But only need to go 11-31 to beat Baseball Prospectus' pre-season prediction.

Wandy Rodriguez
Magic Wandy gets the start tonight for the 25th time this season.

Last three starts:

8/1 @StL43/14:07/553/36
8/9 vMIL75/03:210/13116/72
8/14 @MIL410/104:59/9105/64

Wandy's worst start of the season was easily his last time out, even taking into account his pitch-tipping days with ol' Pudge. Wandy has endured three disaster starts this season (not counting the 6R/0ER performance of May 25). His DS on 5/30 @ Pittsburgh was followed up with another DS vs Colorado on 6/4. Following that DS, he threw 7IP, 5H/1ER vs the Cubs. So all that is to say, "Who knows what we'll get tonight."

2009 home record: 6-2 (11 starts), 1.92 ERA/1.03 WHIP, 75IP, 65K:19BB
Career vs. Florida: 2-1 (6 games), 3.65 ERA/1.46 WHIP, 24.2IP, 16K:13BB
Career @ Minute Maid: 28-20 (68 games), 3.70 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 396.1IP, 320K:139BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .261/.329/.432, 107K:42BB
vs Lefties: .198/.258/.288, 28K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (55): .364/.364/.600, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (319): .207/.241/.290, 94K:12BB
After First-Pitch Balls (239): .281/.403/.520, 41K:39BB

RISP: 29x125, .232/.308/.352, 29K:13BB
Runners on: 55x215, .256/.337/.363, 43K:24BB
2OwRISP: 16x64, .250/.360/.406, 15K:9BB

Josh Johnson

Johnson comes into tonight 12-2 with a League-leading .857 winning percentage and career-bests (already) in games started, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. Six of his last seven, and 18 of his last 21, starts have been of the quality variety.

Last three appearances:

8/4 @WAS76/49:06/1295/67
8/9 @PHI64/16:17/785/55
8/14 vCOL7.11/111:34/8114/69

Since July 7, Johnson is 5-1 with a 3.06 ERA, with 43K:8BB.

vs. Houston career: 0-2 (2 games, 1 start), 6.75 ERA/2.25 WHIP, 9K:6BB
2009 Road: 6-1, (12 starts), 3.62 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 65K:20BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .254/.309/.449, 40K:20BB
vs Lefties: .307/.369/.553, 37K:27BB

When swinging at the first pitch (68): .258/.250/.323, 4XBH (0HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (338): .209/.230/.276, 101K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (244): .238/.351/.369, 39K:34BB

RISP: 22x119, .185/.256/.286, 34K:12BB
Runners on: 49x233, .210/.273/.305, 56K:21BB
2OwRISP: 8x50, .160/.288/.200, 18K:9BB

Valverde ain't going nowhere...yet

Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports is reporting that Valverde was placed on waivers, someone claimed him, and he was pulled back.

Astros closer Jose Valverde won't be traded this season because he was claimed on waivers and pulled back earlier this month, one major league source told

Valverde's status became the subject of some intrigue earlier this week, after Houston traded catcher Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers. It seemed possible that Valverde, a free agent after this season, could be dealt, too. But the fact that he was blocked on trade waivers eliminates that possibility.

Technically, it's possible that Valverde could switch teams before the regular season is over, if the team were to place him on irrevocable waivers next month. But that is highly unlikely. The only benefit to Houston in doing so would be if the team wanted to free itself from the remaining financ ial obligations on Valverde's contract. And doing so would prevent the Astros from receiving draft-pick compensation if Valverde departs as a free agent this winter.

Profile on Kyle Greenwalt

Nice profile on Lexington pitcher Kyle Greenwalt, from his hometown paper this morning. And basically, he affirms the ancient maxim championed by Puff and B.I.G: Mo' Money Mo' Problems. Some nuggets:

“You’re pretty much on your own. Here’s the cash, if you want to spend it in one place, go for it. If not, it will last you the whole trip if you’re smart with it. Usually on the road trip we’ll get our cash rate the day we leave, some guys just squander it and some guys use it wisely. I’m using every penny out of it...

...Some guys are a bunch of idiots. Some guys are smarter about it. Some of the high school guys I’ve come across, as soon as they get their meal money, and we’re going on a road trip to a nice area, they’ll go to the mall and stuff and squander all their meal money and they’re paying for their food out of their pocket for the rest of the trip. Some are more mature than others, I guess you could say.”

You won't see him getting any suspensions, either. But maybe PEDs are easier to come by (and JJO is on to something):
I’m going do it the hard way. I’m going to work my [butt] off. That’s what it means to me. It’s in front of your face. But then there are other guys that don’t like to work hard, don’t like to go out and lift weights, do their running. They want to take the easy route. It’s a pretty good temptation. For myself, truthfully speaking, I’m just going to work my [butt] off. Those guys are guys you don’t want to associate yourself with anyway. In the long haul, they're not out to help you anyway.”

And then, the kicker, the annual Throwing of the Offense Under the Bus:
“I’m having a great season. Our bats here, we can’t string anything together to be honest. It’s been a rough season in that point. I’m doing what our pitching coordinator wants us to be doing. Our whole pitching staff here has been doing great. Just pounding strikes and letting them hit the ball. It’s working out well. The wins and losses, they don’t look at that. And to be honest, they don’t really look at any of the stats. It’s the improving of the pitcher. Minor leagues is not all about winning and losing and all that, it’s about building confidence in all your pitches.”

Apparently, Lancaster is not an option in 2010:
“Once spring training comes around, from what our pitching coordinator had said, he wants our starting rotation from here to be in double-A next year in Corpus Christi. I just got to get ready for that.

What is it about Lancaster?
“It’s just the wind. The air is real light, it flies out there. The wind blows 20 plus miles an hour every night to right-center field. It’s just blowing out constantly. That’s not a place to develop pitchers from what they said.”

JJO wonders if the Astros have a drug problem

JJO asks if the Astros' organization has a drug problem, in the wake of Gabe Garcia's 50-game suspension yesterday.

What constitutes a drug problem in the farm system? Is it one guy being caught or two or a dozen? How about one a month? Or two a month?

How about if it's two in one month being suspended for 50 games.

Well, the Astros this month have been so lousy that their number of series victories in the majors (one) is half the number of minor-league players suspended (two) for violating baseball's minor-league drug prevention and treatment.

Any way you cut that, you must say there is a problem considering Houston is the city that produced admitted performance-enhancement drug user Andy Pettitte.

Let's stop there for a second, because this is a little absurd. Lumping Andy Pettitte in with this season's Astros' minor-league suspensions is a stretch. JJO is basically saying Houston, the city, has a drug problem, not just the Astros. Which, as a member of the graduating class of Sam Rayburn High School (class of '98), I could agree with. But if we're basing drugs in baseball on drugs in metropolitan areas, everybody has a drug problem.

Let's pick it back up:
Asked how many of his minor-leaguers have tested positive this year, Astros assistant general manager Ricky Bennett, the farm director, said he couldn't give out that information. So it's unclear how rampant drug use is in the Astros' farm system, if at all.

Lumping Einertson in with Garcia isn't fair, either, because they were two totally different types of drugs. Garcia used performance-enhancing drugs. Einertson used performance-debilitating drugs.

Anyhow, Wade, on his concern:
"That said, I think our numbers, I know they're below the average for the 30 clubs. But again, what we as an industry have to get to the point of zero players testing positive of any type of substances. And basically having zero tolerance for it. That's what the drug program has accomplished. If you see enough of your teammates missing 50 games, I think the message — unless you're a little dense — the message should be getting through. Some of these kids who have tested, I think they were somewhat victimized by ignorance of what they're ingesting, where they got things. Other guys that where recreational drug usage or things like that that are occurring in our game then player have to look at their own lifestyles and figure out that's not going to work. The kid that just got suspended off the Greeneville club, I saw him pitch the other night. He walked off the mound in the fifth or sixth inning, and he's not going to see the mound for another 50 games. He's going to be pretty deep into next season before he's able to compete again...

...No matter what the circumstances are it's a shame that something like that would occur. That's why we have to continue to educate the kids and make sure that they know that they can't walk to the corner store or go into some health food outfit and think that they're getting something that isn't going to get them in trouble."

Do the Astros have a drug problem? If one person is on drugs, it's a problem, but it's a little premature to say it's a rampant, organization-wide issue.

Wade throws down the gauntlet

Felipe Paulino is back with the Big Club, this time in a relief role, and Ed Wade is getting tired of his pussy-footing:

“I think Felipe needs to take advantage of every opportunity he gets to stand 60 feet, six inches away from major league hitters. He's got to show that he's prepared to take advantage of these opportunities. He needs to give us a clear signal going into spring training next year that he's prepared to win a job for spring training and hold it for the entire season and help us win. He's got the stuff to do it. It's not too late, but he's got to step up and take advantage of this. We see the stuff. It's got to come out in whatever role that he's given for the reminder of the season. Right now it's a bullpen role....

...I think he is out of options. Aside from the options, when you see a guy who's big and physical with the tools that Felipe's got, you want to see it begin to manifest itself from a more regular basis from the standpoint of success. He clearly needs to understand this is the best opportunity that he's going to get for a while. He's got to make the most of it.”

“I have the opportunity to demonstrate that I can get outs here,” he said. “What has happened has been part of baseball. I have to work on the mental part. I need to work on my concentration. That's what I need to work on the side. I need to focus more on each pitch to make each itch.”

I'm going to give the Chronicle the benefit of the doubt and go with the assumption that the last word in Paulino's quote was "pitch," but it's too funny to fix for them.

Cooper, on Paulino's role:
“I think from the organization's standpoint I think that everybody thinks (Paulino) can be a front-line starter because of his stuff. We have to let that thing play itself out. I don't think it's good for him to go back and forth, back and forth. At some point we have to settle in someplace...

...I think even the fastball command is a work in progress. It's not just the breaking ball. I think the fastball, you can't just throw 97 miles per hour just in the middle. You have to move it to the corners and you're going to have to have the fastball move a little. That's what we told him to work on.”

Brocail will throw a simulated inning today. How does he feel?
“It feels 10 times better. We'll see. When you get done with the bullpen and you say, ‘How did it look? And your pitching coach says, ‘Like the old Brocail.' It's kind of nice to know that I at least have my stuff.”

Unofficial Scorer weighs in on the Astros '10 infield

I've found myself in the habit of referring to 2010 as "010" (oh-ten). And I feel stupid. Anyhow, The Unofficial Scorer looks at the options for the Astros infield in 2010. It's too lengthy to post in its entirety, so read it, and I'll give you the gist:

I would find it highly unlikely to see Tejada, Blum and Boone all again, so there should be at least one new arrival.

ValleyCats rock balls in NYPL All-Star Game

The NYPL All-Star Game was last night, and the Tri-City ValleyCats were well represented.

-Brian Kemp was 1x1 with a BB.
-J.D. Martinez was 1x2 with a solo homer in the 5th.
-Russell Dixon was 0x2
-J.B. MacDonald threw 0.2IP, 0H/0ER, needing three pitches to get two outs.

Recap for G120 - Marlins at Astros

Michael Bourn dominated this game from start to finish, as the Astros got one back,
winning 6-3 over the Marlins, and overcoming a 2-run deficit in the first inning.

Bourn was 3x4 with 2SBs, and 2 runs scored. But the other big story of the game was that this was Yorman Bazardo's rotation debut, and while he didn't qualify for the win, he pitched decently enough.

Bazardo: 4.2IP, 6H/2ER, 1K:4BB, 16/25 first-pitch strikes, 24/55 non-contact strikes (16 called:8 swinging)
Byrdak: 0IP, 1BB, 0/1 FPS, 0/0 NCS
Gervacio: 0.1IP, 1K, 0/1 FPS, 2/3 NCS (2c)
Fulchino: 2IP, 4H/1ER, 1K:1BB, 4/9 FPS, 8/16 NCS (6c:2s)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1H, 1/4 FPS, 2/8 NCS (2c)
Valverde: 1IP, 2K:2BB, 4/6 FPS, 11/24 NCS (7c:4s)

Bazardo was pretty inefficient: 95 pitches to 25 batters faced, recording 14 outs. Then Byrdak came in to close the 5th, and issued a four-pitch walk, and Gervacio was needed to get the strikeout to end the inning. Valverde had another eventful outing - loading up the bases in the 9th, and needing 38 pitches to get out of the 9th for his 17th "save." The Marlins had 10+ hits for the 15th straight game, which is the highest total for a team since 1937 (St. Louis Browns, if I remember SportsCenter correctly)

Bazardo's pitches by inning:
1st: 32
2nd: 20
3rd: 15
4th: 10
5th: 18

Did anyone who saw the game see why Bazardo was pulled - or was it a pitch count issue?

Let's take a look at Valverde's 9th inning:
Baker: 5-pitch fly-out to left
Uggla: 5-pitch strikeout (swinging)
Ross: 7-pitch walk
Hermida: 6-pitch walk
Helms: 5-pitch HBP
Coghlan: 10-pitch strikeout (swinging), seven consecutive foul balls.

Offensively, it was all happening because of Michael Bourn. Bourn reached on a bunt single to lead off the game, then stole second, then was safe at third on a throwing error on John Baker. He scored one batter later, on an error by Cantu that sent Keppinger to second. Doubles by Berkman and Tejada erased a 2-0 deficit and put the Astros up 3-2, and they wouldn't trail again. Humberto Quintero hit a solo homer in the 4th and Bourn's triple/Keppinger's single scored another two runs for the Astros with the final 6-3 margin.

Pitch Count Hero: Miguel Tejada - 22 pitches in 4 PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Berkman - 9 pitches in 4 PAs (2 hits and a walk)

Man of the Match: Micheal Bourn. The offensive catalyst. Seven total bases (if you count the two SBs).

Goat of the Game: I'm giving this to Jose Valverde. Took a three-run lead and made it to where one swing of the bat could have lost the game. It's been since July 24, 10 appearances, that Valverde didn't allow a baserunner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hampton has tear in rotator cuff

Well, that pretty much says it. Hampton has opted for rehab instead of surgery.

Well that's not very sporting

Greenville pitcher Gabriel Garcia has been suspended 50 games for violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. Garcia is 0-4 with a 7.91 ERA / 1.92 WHIP in 38.2IP this season.

Eddie's Farm: August 18

Round Rock
The Express lost a lead twice, but still held on for a 5-4 win, despite going 2x13 with RISP. Abercrombie and Johnson had two hits and an RBI each, while John Gall checked in with an RBI double. Four of the Express' eight hits were for extra bases (double from Gall, triples from Abercrombie and Saccomanno, and a homer from Johnson). Polin Trinidad bumped his record to 5-3 with 7IP, 7H/3ER, 4K:1BB. Jason Lane was 0x2 with 1BB for the 51s.

Four Lake Elsinore pitchers held the JetHawks scoreless, and with three hits, in a 3-0 win over Lancaster. Those three hits - all singles - belonged to Weston, Rosario, and Cabral. Leandro Cespedes threw 7IP, 9H/3ER, 5K:1BB while Tilghman closed it out with 1IP, 1H/0ER.

Three straight singles allowed by Pat Urckfitz gave Kannapolis a 3-2 win over Lexington in 11 innings. Jeff Hulett had two hits, but the Big Swing came from Eric Suttle, whose 2nd inning 2-run double scored all of Lexington's runs. Jordan Lyles threw 5IP, 5H/0ER, 5K:1BB, Henry Villar threw 2IP, 3H/1ER (though 2 total), Godfrey had his own 2.2IP, 3H/0ER, 0K:1BB, but Urckfitz just couldn't put Kannapolis away.

The Big Bat belongs to our boy Aaron Bray! 3x4 with an RBI hitting in the DH/#3 spot, as Greeneville romped to an 8-3 win over Johnson City. Miguel Arrendell had two doubles, Grant Hogue had two hits, Jonathan Meyer crack-a-lacked a triple, and Jiovanni Mier had himself a two-run homer. Jose Cisnero threw 3.2IP, 3H/3ER, 5K:3BB, while Joan Belliard and Scott Migl provided 5.1IP of relief, allowing 3H/0ER, 4K:1BB. Migl's ERA at Greeneville is 0.61.

Richard Justice has thought about this, and decided to bring the pain

This is a new level we've reached here.

Drayton McLane said something last night that came off about as insincere as anything he has ever said. He was either insincere or clueless. Either way, it's not good for the Astros. He went on and on about how the Astros didn't want to trade Pudge Rodriguez and how they made the Rangers come back to them and overwhelm them with talent.

The Astros did not get overwhelmed with talent. Second baseman Jose Vallejo hasn't hit at Triple-A, but scouts do like him. The Astros got a couple of interesting prospects, nothing more. Considering the quality of their farm system, they made out OK.

Drayton's comments made it seem like he thinks the Astros are still a contender and that Pudge can still play. Who is he kidding?

Some other notes:
1. Pudge wasn't good.
2. The Astros aren't good.
3. And probably won't be good next year.
4. Carlos Lee signed a terrible contract.
5. Miguel Tejada was a terrible trade.

And then your close:
There's an open insurrection between the players and manager. There's not enough talent to contend and not enough major league-ready kids in the system to contend anytime soon.

The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging a problem, but only Drayton can do that.

The Aaron Bray Care Project

Box gets sent at lunch today. Here are the contents:

McTaggart: Deal makes sense

McTaggart weighs in:

You can call the Astros' trading of Pudge Rodriguez to the Rangers a case of throwing in the towel for 2009 or the start of a rebuilding effort, but I don't believe either is the case. Are the Astros out of it for this? Almost certainly, but they aren't going to concede anything until they are mathematically eliminated.

And I wouldn't call trading away a 35-year-old catcher who has very little left in the tank the start of a rebuilding effort. Pudge was brought here to serve in a pinch anyway, to play one season at catcher while the Astros wait on Jason Castro to get ready. Pudge gave the Astros more offense at catcher than they've had in years and was a great influence on the pitching staff, but basically they go three players from the Rangers for very little. It's a good move, and the kind they should have made.

Now, if the Astros start getting rid of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, then you have rebuilding on your hands. Getting rid of Pudge? Not so much...

...The bottom line is the Astros still have some nice pieces and moves like sending off Pudge could only have a positive effect on their future.

He also advocates giving Manzella a shot at SS1, and resigning Tejada and moving him to 3B1 (for $5-7 mil).

Remembering Pudge

What did Astros County have to say about Pudge's brief time with the Astros?

February 13:
I would still be very surprised if this happens...

February 23:
Unless Pudge comes down to League Minimum, it ain't happening and the Astros will gamble on Quintero and Palmisano paying off.

March 14:
I still have a hard time figuring out how the Astros sign Pudge. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I don't see it. Would I be excited? Eh. Would he be a nice holdover until Castro is ready? Maybe.

March 16:
The fact that the Astros drafted Castro last June shows that they were probably hedging their bets on Towles. At the very least, they've given both Quintero and Castro another year to develop and learn. And honestly, if the difference between a .220-hitting catcher and a .280 hitting catcher is $1.5 million, why the heck not? It's not our money.

March 17:
So is Pudge a Band-Aid for a team with a broke neck? Here's the thing - we don't know how this is going to shake out for a few months. Is it interesting? Sure, because it's better than talking about how the Astros haven't won a Spring Training game since February 25. Is it risky? Of course. There may be a very good reason a Boras client wasn't signed until March 16.

Stone cold locks don't go unsigned until March 16. But we just don't know. If maybe we all take a step back and look at this objectively, who would you rather have behind the plate in 2009: Quintero, Towles or Palmisano? Or Pudge? Castro is clearly the catcher of the future (unless he shows up and goes 1x17 in 2010), so this is obviously just a stop-gap, $1.5 million signing until Bobby Heck's farm system kicks in.

April 16:
(via Buster Olney) "(The Astros) might be looking for a catcher before the year's over."

July 13:
Why in the hell did the Astros claim Coste off waivers if Pudge or Quintero weren't going anywhere?

July 30:
If the Astros can get something for Valverde and Pudge, they should go ahead and do it.

August 4:
(via Justice) 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?

August 18:
Essentially, the Astros gave up a catcher who was not producing offensively and got some help in the minors. This is the first move I can think of in years where the Astros traded in a possibility of winning now for future wins. And I'm totally in favor of it.

Would Roy approve a trade?

He'd certainly think about it:

Oswalt hasn't ruled out waving his no-trade clause if owner Drayton McLane wants to get rid of him. Multiple baseball sources told the Chronicle earlier this month that the Astros had tried to put Oswalt through waivers to trade him.

With that said, it's doubtful the Astros would send him to the Braves, Cardinals or Cubs, three teams people close to him say he'd be willing to join.

“They ain't approached me yet on anything,” he said. “Would I consider going to somewhere else? I'd have to wait and see what they're proposing. I'll tell you that I wouldn't go to very many different places if I considered doing it. And the places I would go to they probably wouldn't want to send me anyway.”

Brocail threw a bullpen session yesterday, and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session during the current homestand in his attempt to rehab his 23rd injury this season.

Roy calls for more heads to roll

Jerome Solomon weighs in with Roy's newest opinion:

Prior to a 6-2 loss to the Marlins, some players seemed to be fretting in the clubhouse that the Rodriguez trade is a sign that Astros management is giving up on the 2009 season.

One player wasn't fretting at all. Roy Oswalt was all but celebrating.

He pretty much told Chronicle baseball writer Jesus Ortiz that he would help the team load up the truck and work the counter at the flea market if it wanted to do some astute bartering.

In what might one day be remembered as a foreshadowing moment, Oswalt stated clearly that the Astros need to start acquiring players who could help the team next season.

“I'm not looking for two years down the road,” he said. “I'm looking for next year.”

Oswalt wasn't calling for an all-out fire sale. But to get the players he wants to play with next season, he says the Astros should be open to trading some of his current teammates. The righthander didn't name any names, but he said the time is now to make moves that many throw-in-the-towel fans were calling for before the trade deadline.

But Easy Eddie doesn't buy it:
“This is absolutely a stand-alone, isolated move."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some fishy things with the economics in this trade

Now, this is interesting. I'm not one to say that this was the driving force in making this trade immediately, but the Rangers are about to get stuck with a pro-rated pain in the wallet.

But take a look at Pudge's performance bonuses, and this is what you'll see:

$200K each for 350, 375, 400, 425, 450 plate appearances; $150,000 each for 90 games, 100 games; $200,000 for 100 games played.

Where is Pudge in this? As of this morning, 344 plate appearances and 93 games played. The Astros have already paid Pudge $150,000 for the 90 games, but six more plate appearances and that's another $200K. I'm not sure how they'll break up the pro-rated amount, but that's...interesting.

Pudge says the right things to the DFW media

Dallas Morning-News, official record-keeper for the welcome back group hug in Arlington, had some quotes from Pudge, namely, on being a C2 (a role in which I could have sworn he didn't want to fill in the off-season):

“I understand the way the team is playing, and we don’t want to break that,” said Rodriguez, who made his major-league debut with the Rangers on June 20, 1991, and stayed with the club through the 2002 season. [Manager] Ron [Washington] and I, we talked about that, and he’s going to play me two or three days a week, which is OK. I’m a winner, and whatever it takes to win, I’ll be here.”

Also an interesting note on the potential third player: that only kicks in if the Rangers make the post-season.

Recap for G119 - Marlins @ Astros

So the Astros are 0-1 post-Pudge, but the story was Ricky Nolasco's utter domination of the Astros in a 6-2 win for Florida.

After giving up Carlos Lee's 2-run homer in the first inning, Nolasco retired the next 23 batters (!) in a complete game three-hitter. And it didn't make much difference what Bud Norris did, after that. Let's get on to the thing:

Norris: 5.2IP, 9H/5ER, 4K:1BB, 16/28 first-pitch strikes, 29/61 non-contact strikes (18 called:11 swinging), 2HR
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1/1 FPS, 2/3 NCS (2s)
Gervacio: 2IP, 1H/1ER, 2K:1BB, 4/7 FPS, 12/19 NCS (7c:5s), 1HR
Arias: 1IP, 1H, 3/4 FPS, 2/6 NCS (2c)

Nice outing from Gervacio, who threw one bad pitch to Jeremy Hermida, but got out in from of guys, and missed a lot of bats. Norris' Ks were down tonight, and as you can see above, he only threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of 28 batters. First loss of his major-league career, though, so...carry on.

Offensively, there's even less to talk about. All the Astros offense got was one swing of the bat from Carlos Lee. 10 Astros struck out: Blum twice and everybody else - save Carlos Lee - once. Nolasco only needed 115 pitches to get through the 27 outs. The Astros got to a 3-ball count four times, and didn't walk once. Even further, of those 4ABs with three balls, the Astros were 0x4 with 2Ks (yep, Coste and Blum).

Pitch Count Hero: Tejada - 23 pitches in 4 PAs (0x4, 1K)
Pitch Count Punk: Berkman - 9 pitches in 4 PAs (1x4, 1K)

Goat of the Game: Sorry, Bud Norris. First loss, first Goat.

Man of the Match: Carlos Lee. All the Astros' offense, and no Ks on top of it.

Pudge trade "not a white flag"

Here we find out that the Astros, in addition to Nevarez and Vallejo, will receive yet another player. Meanwhile, though, we hear from Roy in the clubhouse:

"I got to the clubhouse and they told me they traded Pudge, and I guess that's the process of trying to build the club for next year. That's what I'm hoping they are doing now. There is a time where you have to start rebuilding, and if you wait until the end of the season, you may not get the pieces you need for the next year. I think we still have some dates here where we can get guys that can help us next year, and why not do it now rather than wait and have to go up and bid against somebody in the offseason in a bidding war."

Nay nay, sez Drayton:
""This was an unusual deal. If we were interested in changing the total texture of the team, we would have done it before the Trade Deadline ended in July. I think [the players] will understand that if we were trying to change this team, we would have done that back in July."

Blum, who sounds like he's pretty much getting tee times set in October:
"We started sliding a little bit, and we couldn't stop it at all. It's frustrating, but in the same sense I don't think many people expected us to even be that close to begin with."

"We're going to miss Pudge, but we've got to keep going. I'm not giving up. Crazy things can happen. You never know. Maybe some of the other teams can go into a funk, and we can get hot. Crazier things have happened and we have the talent to do it."

Wade agrees:
"I think we can climb back into things. We made a trade for a veteran catcher on our club that we felt could provide us with some prospects coming back and at the same point felt we had the coverage from the standpoint of Quintero and Coste and some of the guys down in the Minor League system to cover us."

Easy Eddie speaks!

Article from Jason Grodsky with commentary from Ed Wade on the Pudge trade:

"It was a pleasure to be a part of Pudge's Hall of Fame career. He did an outstanding job for us, and we certainly appreciate what he did for us. But at the same time, the fact that we were able to get some pretty good young players in this deal was significant enough for us to move forward."

On Nevarez:
"We like Nevarez a lot. He's a 22-year-old kid with a really good arm that has a chance to pitch in the back of the bullpen in a couple of years. The total return on this deal we believe will make a lot of sense once we are able to bring it to closure."

Coop, on C1 and C2:
"I think we have two very capable catchers, maybe not of [Ivan Rodriguez's] caliber, but still very capable, and they will get a chance to play. They can handle the job defensively, and Coste has been a very good offensive player since he's been here. I think Quintero will be able to add something to our offense too, he's done a pretty good job to this day."

Wherefore art thou, Towles? Still in Round Rock, and the Astros will continue to look at him, where he could be called up on September 1.

Pudge to return in 2010?

The boys from KTRH just said that, after being notified of his impending trade, Pudge inquired about returning to the Astros in 2010.

The Aaron Bray Care Package #1

Has been bought. Check back tomorrow for a picture of the prizes.

JJO weighs in, then I do.

Blog post from JJO with the word from the Man in the Uniform:

It was clear to several Astros players that trading Rodriguez meant the Astros had given up on the 2009 season...

...I will say that Humberto Quintero can give you what Pudge Rodriguez gave the Astros. If anything, the Astros should have spent the $1.5 million they spent on Rodriguez on a reliever this winter and let Quintero settle in while J.R. Towles or Lou Santangelo proved if they were ready before Jason Castro comes up next year.

At the risk of sounding like a cynical reporter, I agree with the players that the Astros have waved the white flag and begun to look toward 2010. That is not a bad thing, in my opinion. Heck, unless Drayton McLane plans to extend Jose Valverde and Miguel Tejada, he should trade those guys and get some more quality prospects. Those are the jewels, not Pudge Rodriguez. I would re-sign Valverde and Tejada, who I would move to third. If McLane doesn't want to do that, ship them off to a contender and get some real quality prospects instead of the package they got for Rodriguez.

There's nothing wrong with trading Ivan Rodriguez, Valverde or Tejada, but be honest to the fans.

If the players don't believe, fans won't either.

I tend to think that MGMT has realized (and whether or not you think that Drayton is pulling the strings, it's still the case) that there's no way it's going to work out this year. Did I just say that I would be okay with Pudge coming back in 2010, but in a mentoring role? Yes, I did. I also briefly dropped Justice saying that Drayton was interested in bringing Pudge back (here) in 2010 - that was on August 12. What happened in the six days since that blog was posted? Well, Alyson Footer says it started when Saltalamacchia (try that, spell check) went down on Saturday.

Presumably, when Jon Daniels started dangling prospects, even prospects that wouldn't have a shot to impact the Big Club until 2013, the Astros couldn't refuse, and who can blame them? Pudge 2009 isn't Pudge 1996. It's a low-risk, unknowable reward, but it had to happen. If the rest of the Astros are pissed, so what? I cannot believe that Berkman lays awake at night thinking, "If only Ed Wade would believe in me and my team..."

I'm sorry Berkman got hurt when he did, because that's when the season started to slip away. I'm sorry that Oswalt got hurt when Berkman did, because that pretty much did it. Trading pieces off had to happen sooner or later, but if the pouting Astros in the clubhouse think that Pudge getting hot was keeping them from making a run, then I need to seriously reevaluate the level of intelligence of my chosen team.

I don't sit in the clubhouse, I don't get to talk to the players, and I'm sure Pudge is a great guy: funny, buys dinner, tells bawdy stories about Juan Gonzalez and all. That's right, I just used "bawdy." I don't know about team chemistry, but this club hasn't exactly jelled at any point this season. I doubt that Pudge was the guy keeping Berkman from shanking Cooper after a game. There doesn't look to be any chemistry on this team. Losing Pudge doesn't change that.

Rangers in Go For It mode

T.R. Sullivan, who has been all over this like a fratboy on Jaeger, attributes the Rangers' trade for Pudge to needing a playoff veteran on the roster.

Nolan Ryan:
"We're excited to have Pudge. We're looking forward to having him, and he's excited about coming back. He brings experience, he's a veteran player and he's been in the postseason. He brings a lot."

Texas is 4.5GB of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the AL West lead, and one game up on the Boston Red Sox of Boston for the Wild Card lead. Amazingly, Pudge is an upgrade offensively over Rangers C1 Taylor Teagarden, who comes into tonight's game hitting .198/.264/.373 in 126 ABs. Seeing as how the Rangers have 24 guys who aren't of legal drinking age yet, it makes sense to have Playoff Story Time with Uncle Pudge in the clubhouse everyday at 3pm, when Pudge has his tea.

Hampton to DL

Hopefully this won't turn into more Smoltz chatter, but the Astros have placed Mike Hampton on the DL with a left shoulder strain, and have called up Felipe Paulino in his stead

Quintero to be C1

Jason Grodsky is reporting that Quintero is your new C1, Coste is your C2, and Towles is likely to be called up in the next few weeks.

Richard Justice makes his feelings known

And nobody is left standing:

Pudge Rodriguez is the first to go, but he shouldn't be the last. The Astros ought to make Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, LaTroy Hawkins, etc., available. If they get one one really good prospect for all of them, theyll be in better shape than they are now.

Pudge was Drayton McLane's idea. He wanted him because the Astros didn't have a major league catcher and also because he was trying to plug holes to keep the Astros in contention another year. He was forced to do this because his minor league system is in bad shape and because he was unwilling to raise the payroll into the $120-million range.

As he surveys all those empty seats, I'm guessing he's second guessing that decision...

...Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman probably aren't going to be in the prime of their careers when the Astros get really good again. This statement shouldn't be etched in stone because there are too many variables.

The Astros need so many things, and they don't appear to have them in their minor league system.

If Drayton has another off-season of patching together an old, bad boring team, he'll be making a huge mistake....

...My guess is that Drayton will fire Cecil Cooper and most of the coaching staff. This is a smart move only if he hires first-rate people to replace them, and his recent history indicates he may not do this.

But that's only part of the problem. The Astros have missed badly on evaluating their big league team. This off-season will provide another opportunity to get it right.

Ed Wade's fundamental mistake has been spending way too much money on hitting and not enough on pitching. He didn't make the offense any better, and the lack of pitching will mean the Astros will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year. Change is needed, but that change can only begin with Drayton.

Roy no happy

JJO decides to go ahead and get some reaction:

Ed Wade, in a text to the Chronicle:
"We are not in a position of making any comments about Pudge Rodriguez at this time."

"I think they're starting to look toward next year," said ace Roy Oswalt, who echoed the mood in the Astros' clubhouse.

Is that disappointment?

Who does this trade affect the most?

Obviously having the C1 position open, the speculation among Astros fans is: Who the heck starts now? You can bet that Quintero will see more time behind the plate, but who is C2? Does Towles get called up? Does Coste move behind the plate to be C2?

J.R. Towles was placed on the DL on July 26, and I don't see any mention of him having been activated from the DL, so he's out for getting called up. Brian Esposito and Lou Santangelo are both on the active roster in Round Rock. Will they get called up?

Coste started 29 games behind the plate for the Phillies before getting coming to Houston. Will he take C2?

As for the minor leaguers, the 2B/SS on Corpus' roster are:
2B - Drew Meyer. In 114 games (437 ABs), Meyer has posted a .295/.367/.400 line this season, with 70K:50BB
SS - Wladimir Sutil. Another speedy, defensive SS. In 105 games (394 ABs), Sutil is hitting .289/.368/.343, with 35K:38BB.

Here is the Lexington, the League in which Navarez spent this season, bullpen (minimum 30 appearances):

Villar: 73.2IP, 63H/21ER, 2.57 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 90K:15BB
Urckfitz: 48.1IP, 41H/14ER, 2.61 ERA/1.12 WHIP, 40K:13BB
Wabick: 69.1IP, 69H/31ER, 4.02 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 52K:19BB
Leon: 61.1IP, 77H/43ER, 6.31 ERA/1.91 WHIP, 44K:40BB

But essentially, the Astros gave up a catcher who was not producing offensively and got some help in the minors. This is the first move I can think of in years where the Astros traded in a possibility of winning now for future wins. And I'm totally in favor of it. I'm not sure what happens to your brain when you get north of Huntsville, but I love the fact - if for this reason only - that the Rangers are still in the Wild Card hunt. They actually traded two prospects for an old catcher.

And McTaggart has the other name

McTaggart reporting the player to be named now is:

IF Jose Vallejo, 22 year-old 2B/SS from the Dominican Republic (actually, he was born in the same city as Tejada - Bani).

He has speed, Baseball Cube grades Vallejo's speed at a 95.

In 84 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City (304 ABs), Vallejo was batting .233/.282/.307 with 73K:22BB. 14 of his 72 hits in Oklahoma City were for extra bases. So in 20 games (83 ABs) at Double-A Frisco, Vallejo put up .289/.318/.349 with 14K:4BB, and four of his 24 hits in Frisco were for extra bases.

Jason Parks at Baseball Time in Arlington had this to say in his Scouting Series (which is incredible):

Vallejo is a very exciting player to watch in person, as his skill set is very visually impressive. He is effortlessly athletic with pure speed that makes him an absolute nightmare on the base paths. He also has lightning-quick reflexes, a smooth glove-to-hand transfer, a strong, accurate arm, and a quiet intensity on the field that exudes leadership without the necessity of words. Unfortunately, Vallejo's grace on the field can't hide some of the holes in his offensive skill set.

Vallejo's offensive ceiling is rather pedestrian. I think he projects to hit in the .250-.269 range at the major league level with max power potential in the 15-19 home run range, although 10-15 seems more likely. Assuming Vallejo even reaches the ceiling of his offensive potential, is that enough to be a major league regular? Is a plus defender at second base (and quite possibly an above-average defensive shortstop) that hits .265/.315/.400 a player you want to see penciled into a line-up card for 162 games? Depends.

His hitting mechanics are relatively sound and his bat control improved during the '08 season, but he struggles to consistently drive the ball. He doesn't have the best approach at the plate and his pitch recognition skills often encourage him to lunge at the ball, causing a breakdown in his hitting mechanics. His ability to get out of the box and down the line in 4.0 seconds will certainly enhance his offensive opportunities, but without an above-average approach and without the ability to make consistent hard contact, Vallejo looks to be more of a slasher that will be forced to rely on his speed over his natural power.

If you value defense at a premium defensive position (as mentioned above, Vallejo will be seeing some action at shortstop during the '09 season; based on his defensive resume at second base, and his natural defensive tools, I think Vallejo would make an above-average shortstop; if Vallejo’s defensive skill can indeed translate across the bag, his overall projection becomes a bit more complicated), Vallejo might just be a player to get really excited about. If you think that defensive value isn't enough to justify a limited offensive projection, Vallejo might just be a player that you find doesn't live up to his OFP grade. Either way, or perhaps somewhere in between, Vallejo has the tools to play a role at the major league level. Whether that makes him a super sub or the next starting shortstop for the Texas Rangers will depend on his ability to develop as a hitter.

Some quotes from Pudge

Courtesy McTaggart:

"They’re one game back in the Wild Card with a chance to make the playoffs. I’m looking forward to going there."

"It’s also sad. I think Houston is a great team and a good group of guys. The fans are great, but business is business."

Prospects AND Money!

An updated blog from the Dallas Morning-News is saying:

The Rangers are responsible for a prorated portion of the contract, which includes $1.5 million in incentives.

MLBFanHouse has a name for us

They're saying it's Matt Nevarez and a PTBNL.

Nevarez is a 22-year old 6'5", 220lb RHP. With Hickory in the South Atlantic League (same league as Lexington), Nevarez is 1-4 (9 saves) with a 2.83 ERA/1.06 WHIP in 34 games, all in relief, with 50K:15BB, and 1 homer allowed this season.

In four seasons in the Rangers organization, Nevarez is 7-7 with a 3.19 ERA/1.42 WHIP, 126K:71BB. 2009 has very clearly been his best season as a professional, mainly because he's healthy for the first time, after Tommy John surgery in '07.

Captip to JLStreet for this profile piece on Nevarez. A nugget, if you'll allow:

Known as a power arm out of high school, Nevarez is definitely putting up the numbers of a power reliever. But he feels like a much different pitcher than he was prior to the Tommy John surgery.

“I feel like I’m way different,” Nevarez explained. “My mechanics are way better. I feel like I have better command with my fastball and pitches. I’m staying behind—less arm problems. I feel like everything is getting better. I’m more mature with reading hitters and stuff.”

His fastball can hit 96, but he's working on a slider, too.

Of course, if this is all simply speculation, I'm going to feel pretty stupid. But if anything, we've all learned a little more about Matt Nevarez. And who would complain about that?

Two players? Or one?

Because Noah Coslov says the Astros traded Pudge for a player to be named later.

Comments on the Pudge trade

One of my favorite pastimes is to read the comments section of newspapers. Specifically, comments on stories regarding guns, drinking, education, and politics. Occasionally I'll read the comments on sports stories, but this is less common. Except today. I find amusement with Rangers fans and their thoughts on getting their old catcher back.

Dominic in Alpine:
HELL YES! DAMN! Pudge is returning. The best news I have heard this week

This is a good day for all Americans.

This is great as long as Pudge realizes this isn't the same Rangers team he was on years ago. There's new leadership, both in the front office and more specifically, on the field. Just hop on board and enjoy the ride.

That is awesome! The all time Ranger fan favorite. This guy will pump a team up! He has incredible enthusiasm for the game and still has the tools.


These dang Rangers never cease to amaze me this year!!! GOOD JOB FRONT OFFICE!!!!!

And my personal favorite, from ToddO:
In other news, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben, and Juan come out of retirement

Rangers to trade for Pudge?

T.R. Sullivan is reporting the Astros are close to sending Pudge back to the Rangers. Pudge would be the backup to Taylor Teagarden, no word on who the Astros will receive in return.

Update: The Dallas Morning-News is saying the deal is for two mid-tier prospects.

Is this the big towel-throwing move for the Astros? And just who will be C1? Is Castro on his way up? Towles? Quintero? Pretty wild day - and we're just getting warmed up.

Eddie's Farm: August 17

Round Rock
Rough night for the Express' offense, as they collected four hits in an 8-0 loss to Reno, who posted four separate two-run innings. Edwin Maysonet was 2x3, with Manzella and Yordany getting the other two hits on the night. The Express only had 2ABs with RISP. Mark McLemore took the loss, with 5IP, 10H/6ER, 1K:3BB, and Chris Sampson continued to prove the point that he just doesn't need to be throwing. At all. 1IP, 2H/2ER. Get that guy on the DL, and off the mound. Corcoran and Paronto threw 2IP with 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB.

Corpus Christi
Corpus got a couple of clutch extra-base hits in the 7th to provide the winning margin in a 2-1 win over Springfield. Aaron Boone, in his final rehab start at Corpus, was 1x1 with a double, Drew Meyer was 1x3, Collin DeLome hit an RBI triple, and Jose Duran had an RBI double. Wilton Lopez threw 7.2IP, 5H/0ER, 6K:1BB, and C-Lo threw 1.1IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB for his first save of the year for Corpus.

The Legends only managed three hits on the night - two from Albert Cartwright and one from Steve Brown - in a 6-0 loss to Kannapolis. Three Legends errors led to three unearned runs, and Kyle Greenwalt got the loss - his 12th - despite throwing 5IP, 4H/2ER (3 total), with 9K:0BB.

Johnson City scored three runs in the top of the 9th for a 6-5 win over Greeneville, despite the Gastros leading
3-0 and 4-3. Miguel Arrendell had the only multi-hit game, one of the two hits a solo homer, with Grant Hogue and Wilton Infante getting triples. Carlos Quevedo threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 6K:0BB, while a bullpen of Smink, Castillo, and Martinez threw 4IP, 9H/5ER, 4K:0BB, 4HR. Ouch.

The Astros ruined Devon Torrence's shot at baseball

Little profile on former Astros minor-leaguer Devon Torrence in the Canton Register today.

Torrence was a 2007 16th Round draft pick who played for the Astros for a couple of months out of the season, and with Ohio State's football team the remainder of the year. In 2008, Torrence hit .151, but it wasn't his fault:

“In high school, I mainly hit right-handed, but whenever I’d go to showcases, I’d hit left-handed. What happened was, the Astros found out I could switch hit and made me hit from the left side. It’s a lot harder to hit 93, 94 miles per hour pitches from the left side when you’ve never done that. I was only there for six weeks, so the last two years I played 12 weeks of baseball and most of the guys have played two full seasons. It was a big jump, and it was difficult.”

But he's not giving up on playing with the Astros:
“I talked to my hitting coach D.J. Boston and the Astros as well as Coach Tressel. They’re very encouraging with the situation. Hopefully I can lock down a (starting) spot this year (at Ohio State) and next summer I can find a way to work out while I’m playing baseball. I really do love baseball. That was a big decision for me to stay here this summer. I’m glad I made the decision I did. I think it’s going to pay off.

“As far as being a two-sport athlete, I figured that out a long time ago that was something that was intriguing. Baseball is something that will be a part of my life as long as I’m on this earth. I’m not done professionally. I’m just enjoying the journey.”

Silly Astros. Making a guy who switch-hits, actually hit from the left side!

It's just...too good to be true

The Galveston County Daily News says that soon you'll have a drink with Backe.

County officials confirm site work has begun on a venture near Dickinson backed by former Houston Astros starting pitcher Brandon Backe, his relatives or both. Earlier this year, this column reported an establishment by the name of Backe’s Bullpen, 2709 Dickinson Ave., was seeking the proper paperwork from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

I wonder how many cops will be there. Because they love Backe.

Hatred of Carlos Zambrano spreads to Chicago

The Chicago Sun-Times' Carol Slezak is sick of Big Angry Z's antics. A nugget:

When Zambrano's head is into a game, he can be dominant. The good has outweighed the bad.

As if to underscore that fact, Zambrano threw a no-hitter upon returning from an 11-day layoff caused by a mysterious shoulder problem last September. Never mind that he shut down an exhausted Houston Astros team that was escaping Hurricane Ike and playing a supposed home game in Cubs-friendly Miller Park. The message, repeated time and again: Zambrano is worth the trouble.

Not anymore.

Mindy McCready ready to make things more uncomfortable

KHOU is reporting that Mindy McCready is ready to talk about her relationship with Roger Clemens. On VH1.

Referencing the New York Daily News:
McCready will detail how her long-term affair with Clemens kick-started a downward spiral that caused trouble in her future relationships with men.

McCready has said she started an on-again, off-again relationship with Clemens when she was 15. She reportedly met him at a Florida karaoke bar.

The interview will be a part of VH1's "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," and will air next year. Hopefully it'll be in January, when there isn't much to talk about. That'll make ol' Roger happy. Let's see how much she misremembers.

Wade, on his 2009 draft class

JJO, whose knowledge knows no bounds:
It will take several years before the Astros can judge this year's draft, but the Astros were one of the most efficient teams in terms of signing and getting their picks on the field for the second year in a row.

In the past week, general manager Ed Wade has watched several of the club's top picks in this year's draft, including Mier and third-round compensation pick Jonathan Meyer, a third baseman, at Greeneville, and seventh-rounder Dallas Keuchel, a lefthander, at Tri-City.

Wade, on Mier:
“Very athletic, very instinctive. I only saw two games, certainly a short look, but everything I saw in two days confirmed everything on all the info and feedback I've gotten. He exhibits leadership, has fun and he also takes it seriously. There's no question he was a solid first-round pick.

Wade, on Keuchel, and Jonathan Meyer (thought I'd help him out with his name):
“I've liked what I've seen. I saw Dallas Keuchel pitch the other night at Tri-City, and he threw the ball pretty well. The other Meyer kid, the third baseman at Greeneville, he's certainly very aggressive.”

On the signing process:
“It's just not about avoiding the worry (of Monday's deadline). It's the fact that Bobby has made sure the scouts got out there quickly to the players' homes after the draft and gotten them signed. It's given the players a months', plural, head start with pro ball.”

And Wade isn't exaggerating about the quality of guys from the 08 class:
“The consensus of our opinion is we're not overstating the upside of the pitching at Lexington. And we're not overstating the upside of the kids in Lancaster — Gaston, Shuck and Steele. We've got a good feeling about those guys. Certainly Castro at this point is the most visible guy out of the '08 draft. We couldn't be more pleased. But we have other kids in line that given the time they will be what our scouting people thought they would be when they were picked in the draft.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

Southern Miss: More appealing than Kissimmee

Hmmm. And I've been to Hattiesburg. Maybe 12th Round pick Geoffrey Thomas thinks Brett Favre will drop by to throw baseballs into his breadbasket. The Astros were making a run at Thomas, but it seems as though he'll honor his commitment to Southern Miss: beat writer Jason Grodsky:
Among the players the Astros were trying to strike a deal with was 12th-round pick Geoffrey Thomas, a right-handed high school pitcher from Georgia. Thomas was Houston's lone pick from its first 26 selections in this year's First-Year Player Draft that hadn't signed with the club. Thomas is committed to play at Southern Mississippi next year.

Bobby Heck:
"We're less optimistic of any late additions. We've had second and third type money out there on three players. It's more of them wanting school at this time. We're very pleased with having gotten that many players and that many guys that high up who now have a summer under their belt. That's a testament to the work our scouts have done and hopefully it says something about the players as well. The first and foremost thing was to get them out on the field."

Within this report we do read that the Astros signed 6'4" pitcher Ruben Alaniz:
Alaniz, a product of Juarez-Lincoln High School in La Joya, Texas, who slipped under the radar before the June Draft, has a mid-90's fastball and a plus curveball according to Astros scout Rusty Pendergrass and East Coast scouting supervisor Clarence Johns, who believe the 18-year-old has the ability to develop into a Major League starter. Alaniz reported to the Gulf Coast League Astros in Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday.

"It puts them in a position, especially the younger players, to get some time and experience heading into a long season next year. It was part of the education process and showed the importance of them being able to go out and start in June."

John Smoltz just keeps popping up

USA Today won't let the "John Smoltz to Houston" thing die.

With Mike Hampton missing his next start because of a shoulder strain, there's a ready-made spot in the rotation waiting to be filled. Once Hampton is able to return, rookie Bud Norris is already 61 innings over the number he threw last season. Houston could certainly use the pitching depth, but would Smoltz be effective in a hitter's park like Minute Maid?

What say you?

Astros June Draft picks yet to sign

Deadline is at midnight, and earlier today Bobby Heck mentioned that he was less optimistic about signing any more of the 36 picks the Astros have already signed to contracts. Who has not yet signed (as of 3:17pm Central)?

12th Round: RHP Geoffrey Thomas
26th Round: 1B Matthew Watson
28th Round: RHP Eric Anderson
30th Round: RHP Brandon Petite
32nd Round: RHP Greg Peavey
36th Round: SS Tyler Saladino
39th Round: RHP Rory Young
41st Round: C Carlos Escobar
42nd Round: CF Ivory Thomas
43rd Round: RHP Anthony Tzamtzis
45th Round: 2B Adian Morales
46th Round: SS Justin Gonzalez
47th Round: RHP Matt Branham
48th Round: LHP Steven Rodriguez
49th Round: 1B Matt Smith

God bless you, Bobby Heck

There are a lot of reasons that we can be thankful we did not choose the Nationals as our favorite team (or that the Nationals didn't choose us, if that's how your fandom works). But the ongoing nut-squeezing by the dry, calloused, perfect-for-nut-squeezing hands of Scott Boras with Stephen Strasburg is just another one. Let's take a look at each team's first-round draft picks, and when they signed:

1. Washington, Stephen Strasburg -
2. Seattle, Dustin Ackley -
3. San Diego, Donavan Tate -
4. Pittsburgh, Tony Sanchez - signed June 12
5. Baltimore, Matt Hobgood - signed June 30
6. San Francisco, Zack Wheeler -
7. Atlanta, Mike Minor - signed August 6
8. Cincinnati, Mike Leake - signed August 15
9. Detroit, Jacob Turner -
10. Washington, Drew Storen - signed June 10
11. Colorado, Tyler Matzek -
12. Kansas City, Aaron Crow -
13. Oakland, Grant Green -
14. Texas, Matt Purke -
15. Cleveland, Alex White -
16. Arizona, Bobby Borchering - signed August 14
17. Arizona, A.J. Pollock - signed June 20
18. Florida, Chad James - signed August 15
19. St. Louis, Shelby Miller - signed August 17
20. Toronto, Chad Jenkins - signed August 12
21. Houston, Jiovanni Mier - signed June 25
22. Minnesota, Kyle Gibson -
23. Chicago White Sox, Jared Mitchell - signed July 8
24. Los Angeles Angels, Randal Grichuk - signed June 20
25. Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout - signed July 2
26. Milwaukee, Eric Arnett - signed June 14
27. Seattle, Nick Franklin - signed August 15
28. Boston, Reymond Fuentes - signed July 1
29. New York Yankees, Slade Heathcott - signed August 17
30. Tampa Bay, Levon Washington -
31. Chicago Cubs, Brett Jackson - signed June 23
32. Colorado, Tim Wheeler - signed June 16

Of the 32 first-rounders, 19 have signed (as of 3:08pm Central), and Bobby Heck wrapped up Jiovanni Mier's contract on June 25. Only seven teams signed their first-rounders before Houston did.

Oh, how the Astros have fallen

On July 24 the Astros were 50-46, tied with the Cubs, and 1.5GB of the Cardinals for first place. Let's look at the standings, as of July 24:


On this day, CoolStandings gave the Astros' their best odds of making the postseason at 20.4%. What do the standings look like, from July 25-today?



Russ opts out

Russ Ortiz has opted out of his minor-league deal with the New York Yankees, sez Smiley Rosenthal:

Ortiz was 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA for SWB after going 3-6 with a 5.57 ERA for the Astros, who released him on July 30.

The Yankees, unable to currently offer Ortiz a spot on their major-league roster, asked him to remain in their organization. But Ortiz wants to be part of a contender and return to the postseason, Boggs said.

The Dodgers are among the contenders in need of a starter; they had a "bullpen day" last Wednesday in the final game of their series against the Giants, and right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is unlikely to make his next start after getting struck in the head by a line drive Saturday.

Roy's 2009 (so far) based on standings

So I got to wondering after yesterday's game, we all know that Roy's a gamer. Comes up big in big spots. I was curious about his stats in 2009 based on where the Astros were in the standings.

So what we have here is a look at Roy's game log from 2009 through yesterday. How does Roy fare when the Astros are within 5.5 games of 1st place, compared to how he does when the Astros are more than 5.5 games out of 1st at the close of play.

Roy has pitched in 11 games, or 72.2IP, when the Astros are within 5.5 games of 1st: Roy is 4-2 with a 2.85 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP.

Roy has also pitched in 13 games, or 75.1IP, when the Astros are outside of 5.5 games of 1st: He's 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.

Do what you want with these. I'm certainly not implying that Roy lacks focus when the Astros aren't within 5.5 games of first place. It's just interesting to note.

If time allows I'll go back and check this against the last five years and see what we see (unless someone else calls doing the legwork first)

Oh heck, and yes

Sweet picture in the Astros County inbox last night:
Here we have, from left to right, Grant Hogue, Aaron Bray, and B.J. Hyatt. And that's a Proof of Citizenship. Thanks to our boy, the adopted Aaron Bray. This is the first documented case of someone receiving an Astros' paycheck with a Proof of Citizenship. Download your own on the right and send it to

Updates from the Unofficial Scorer

Got a nice shout-out for the Rajan interview from The Unofficial Scorer today, so thanks very much for that. What else is there to report?

Bobby Heck isn't so optimistic about signing one or two more players, on top of the 36 the Astros have already signed:
"I'm less optimistic today that we'll be adding somebody. We've had continued pursuit of three players with bonuses that would be categorized as second- or third-round bonuses. It's not a failure of us putting up money, it's more of a desire of these kids wanting to go to school and bypass starting their professional careers."
Nice note from Heck on new free-agent signee Kirk Clark, now at Tri-City:
"He's a guy that we saw up to 94 with a solid changeup. Breaking ball needs to be tinkered with. We saw the guy as a prospect and having good value."
Brad James has been shifted to the bullpen.

Interview with Greg Rajan

Today we're featuring an incredible interview with Greg Rajan, sports writer for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He has covered the team since its inception, and we've done these e-mail interviews with a number of people - this is, by far, the most extensive. Captip to Greg for taking the time to answer these questions thoroughly. Let's get to it:

AC: Who are the players that stand out for the Hooks that we can expect to see in an Astros uniform in 2010/2011?

GR: I would say the two players on the current Hooks roster who have a shot to make it to Houston next year are Jason Castro and Chia-Jen Lo. Both are guys on the fast track, as you can see by how little time they spent in the A-ball ranks before coming to Corpus Christi. I would be surprised if Castro isn't given every opportunity to be the starting catcher in 2010. As for Lo, he has a nice arm and certainly given the Astros' bullpen woes of recent years, would be a welcome addition if he can continue to improve. Drew Locke is an intriguing guy, but it's hard to gauge his standing in the organization right now. You usually don't see many guys with 100-plus RBI still in the Texas League in mid-August. Other than those three guys, the prospect pool is rather thin at Double-A right now.

AC: How does Jason Castro look - his stats certainly indicate that Double-A hasn't been much of a problem for him.

GR: Castro has made pretty much a seamless transition to Double-A. Given the demands of the catcher position and having to learn a new staff at near the midpoint of the season, he's done remarkably well. I've covered the team since its inception and it's safe to say Castro is among only a handful of guy where you know that it's not a matter of if they make it to the majors, but when. A couple of other guys who had that trait were Hunter Pence and Ben Zobrist. When J.R. Towles was here two years ago as part of his rocket-like ascent through the system, I don't think anybody thought "catcher of the future" when they watched him. You immediately think that with Castro. While he hasn't put up the power numbers yet in Double-A, that should come. His defense is pretty impressive.

AC: Has Drew Locke's season been as unbelievable as it looks? What is his approach to the game?

GR: Locke's season really has been remarkable. When the year started, he was the fourth outfielder behind Collin DeLome, Josh Flores and Mitch Einertson. In hindsight, that seems almost ridiculous. Locke has been pretty consistent, but to me the most impressive part of his season was how he rebounded from hitting .238 in June. A lot of guys during their second turn through the Texas League will be exposed. Locke, however, made the necessary adjustments and regained his early season form. I'm not sure if there's anything all that unique about his approach to the game. He's a pretty patient hitter who will look for his pitch and hit it. He has a plan and he sticks to it. It'll be interesting to see what happens with Locke after this season. The Astros will have to protect him because he surely would get taken in the Rule V draft this winter. But where do they play him with an entrenched Lee-Bourn-Pence outfield? I wondered if they might try Locke out at second or third in the instructional league this fall, but I'm not sure how well he'd take to those positions. If he keeps hitting like he has this year, they will find a place to play him.

AC: What effect has Mitch Einertson's suspension had on the team?

GR: Honestly, I'm not sure if it's had any effect. From talking to people when the suspension went down, they were sad for Einertson, but nobody seemed to dwell on his absence. The thing a lot of people don't realize about minor league baseball is that it's essentially an individual sport within a team framework. Everybody in the minors is there to move up, from the players to the trainers. So in that respect, there's a degree of selfishness involved. So while Einertson will be missed because he's a genuinely nice guy who everyone liked, his absence creates an opportunity for somebody else.

AC: What has been the reaction - team and fan - to Aaron Boone's rehab return?

GR: I think it's a great story that he's returned so soon after open heart surgery, but it's not quite like Jeff Bagwell being here in 2005 or Roger Clemens' tuneup start in 2006. Had Boone hit his memorable ALCS homer last fall instead of six years ago, maybe there's more of a buzz about his presence here. But other than polite applause every time he comes to bat, I can't say the fans have been particularly captivated by Boone's presence. As far as the team, I'm sure they like having a big leaguer around because those guys usually spring for the postgame spread during rehab assignments. Boone has been a professional and I think any leadership he provides while he's here is by example more than words.

Unreal insight from Greg.

Tejada willing to move to stay in brick red

Missed this on my internet struggles over the weekend, but Miguel Tejada is willing to move in order to stay in Houston beyond 2009.

Tejada said, even though he hasn't been asked, that he would be willing to move to third base (which I'm sure makes Blum/Keppinger/Chris Johnson real happy).

"They've never asked me. One thing that I always say is that I want to stay on this team. I don't want to go anywhere else. If the Astros let me [go], I definitely have to go. There's nothing I can do. For me, the change of position is not that big of a deal. I've been playing for a long, long time at shortstop, and if the Astros decide to move me [to third base] I'll be honored to do it. I know there's going to be somebody that's a younger shortstop, and probably the team can be better if I move to third base. I always say, the door is open for anything. I'm a free agent this year, and I can play third base and I can play short. I just want to win, and if somebody thinks they can win with me at third base, I'm very honored to move to third and work hard.

If they want me to stay here, I'll definitely stay here. We have to work out something. Like I've always said, I think all the support the team has given to me in the offseason and all the response I got from the fans and the players and the organization means a lot to me. And I want to give a championship to the Astros. That's why I want to stay here and win here. When I see the team win the trophy, I want to be part of it."

McTaggart is quick to point out the Astros already have third-basemen in Blum, Keppinger, and the impending return of Aaron Boone at the Major-League level, and Chris Johnson at Triple-A.

Houston will be looking to upgrade at third base in the offseason, and re-signing Tejada as a third baseman could open the door for defensive wizard Tommy Manzella, currently at Triple-A Round Rock, to get his turn at shortstop.

Third base is one of the positions Wade will be evaluating in the off-season, and I have absolutely no idea what will happen.

2010 Comes Early!

Thanks to Mike Hampton's leaving his last start after five innings with a sore shoulder, Yorman Bazardo will be taking his place in the rotation for at least one start - on Wednesday vs. Florida.

Coop, on whether or not Hampton will be able to go Saturday:
“He's hopefully going to throw an aggressive-type pen, and we'll make a determination. If he's OK, we'll slide him in. He'd have to go probably Saturday if he's OK.”
And Tejada was forced to take a day off yesterday, though he came in for the 9th as a defensive replacement. Coop is taking a hard line on giving older, fatter (ha!) guys days off. Like Carlos Lee:
“(Tejada) needs a little bit of time. He's definitely in a little bit of a funk, and he hadn't had a break. We need him to be fresh, because we feed off what he does.
It's understandable he's struggling a little bit. It's been a long year. He has played almost every inning of every game. He's had one heck of a year. He's getting a little older. When you get a little older, you need breaks. That's just the way it is. I'm probably going to have to end up doing this for Carlos (Lee), too. I'm not going to ask. I'm just going to do it.“

Brocail will apparently be ready to go once he's eligible to come off the DL. And Brocail's shoulder has recovered more quickly since Roy found a flaw in his mechanics:
“I'm not anticipating any problems. Once Roy got me back up on top, everything's been fine. I think it's because I've pitched around pain so much. I've had all the arm surgeries. I was searching, searching. Roy comes over, and I think he was tired of hearing me complain about it. He told me what he'd noticed. Two days later, I was back out there throwing 180 feet again.”

Not so fast, says Coop:
“He's got to throw a few (bullpen sessions). He might even have to throw a simulated (game). We've got to build him back up. It's already the 15th, and if you throw in maybe two more pens and a couple of simulated games, you're almost talking close to September. It might be worth giving him a chance to really recover. We'll have to revisit that.”

Recap for G118 - Astros @ Brewers

So it was am 8-5 win, and the Astros got some good hits. They actually came from behind to do it, which I was under the impression the Astros weren't built to perform such a task. Oswalt was shaky again, and Fulchino got his 5th win of the season.

Oswalt: 6IP, 8H/5ER, 5K:2BB, 19/28 first-pitch strikes, 26/65 non-contact strikes (15 called:11 swinging)
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1K, 1/1 FPS, 2/3 NCS (2s)
Fulchino: 0.2IP, 1K, 1/3 FPS, 5/7 NCS (2c:3s)
LaHawk: 1IP, 3/3 FPS, 4/7 NCS (3c:1s)
Valverde: 1IP, 2H, 4/5 FPS, 5/14 NCS (4c:1s)

Oswalt either hasn't recovered totally from the back, or he has checked out of this season. Don't take this the wrong way, I still think Oswalt is a great competitor, but let's be honest here, for a pitcher who performs his best under pressure, Astros games are becoming less and less crucial with each 2-5 road trip. Credit though, to the pitching staff, the Brewers were 2x11 with RISP, and didn't score any runs with two outs. However, Roy had this to say:

Two pitches cost me four runs. Other than that, I felt pretty good. This is the first time since coming off the back injury I actually felt pretty decent. In Florida, I was hesitant about throwing too hard.”

But you still have to get your stats, and that's what the offense did. Tejada got the day off, with Keppinger getting the start at short in his place. Blum came up with a 3-run homer for a 4-RBI day, and Pence provided 2RBIs himself (Bourn and Michaels had the other two) to account for the eight Astros' runs. Four of the Astros runs came with 2 outs - including Pence's 2-run homer in the 8th that put the Astros up for good.

In the last week, Geoff Blum has been about the only one hitting. He has four hits in his last nine at-bats, and has hits in nine of his last 14 games.

Pitch Count Hero: Pudge and Berkman - 26 pitches in 5 PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee - 9 pitches in 4 PAs.

Man of the Match: Geoff Blum.
Goat of the Game: Jose Valverde. Didn't officially give up any runs, but again made a game interesting, almost blowing a win. With one out, Felipe Lopez hit a ground-rule double, then after another out, Ryan Braun reached on an infield single (not totally Valverde's fault, admittedly), but then gave up a loooooong flyball to Prince Fielder that was about a short/curly from a game-tying homer.