Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recap for G128 - Astros at Diamondb-cks

Quick version tonight.

Man of the Match: Jeff Fulchino - only one to throw a perfect inning.

Goat of the Game: Bud Norris. Quickly erased that 3-0 start and is now 3-3 after 5IP/6ER.

Hampton done for the year

Mike Hampton is done for the year and will undergo three surgeries: on his jacked up shoulder and both knees.

http://wap.mlb.com/hou/news/article/200908296683534/

Uh. What?

Cecil Cooper, on motivation this season:

"I'm not sure there's much I can do," manager Cecil Cooper said when asked if there was any way to light a fire under the team. "They're professionals."

Some managers, like the Dodgers' Joe Torre, have meetings to remind players of their responsibilities. Others choose to meet with players on a one-on-one basis. Every manager has their own technique.

"I'm not sure that works with a veteran team," Cooper said.
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Huh? That's a quote from someone who has given up. Get him out, and the sooner the better. If you can call somebody up on September 1 to see what they have, let's try it out with the managerial spot.

http://wap.mlb.com/hou/news/article/200908296677074/

Youngest Citizen of Astros County

Citizen Spruce and new Citizen Lynlee, at whatever where the Rangers play is called. Keep sending those photos in!

Justice's 12-step program

Latest plan to fix the Astros.

1. Fire Coop
2. Hire Bagwell
3. Make Manny Acta bench coach, and make room for Biggio
4. Bench Matsui
5. Make Maysonet starting 2B
6. Bench Blum and Keppinger
7. Move Tejada to 3B
8. Make Manzella starting SS
9. Give Towles one last chance
10. Bench Moehler
11. Put Paulino as SP5
12. Give Bogusevic a roving spot in the outfield

Suddenly, we'd look at 2010 completely differently. There'd suddenly be some hope. Even if they were terrible in 2010, there's the possibility that they're learning on the job and that they'll get better.

Do you like my plan? Sure you do. What do we have to lose except a few more games? If we're going down, let's go down with a manager that loves the Astros with all his heart and soul and cares more about them than any 10 fans. Let's go down with kids that are going fast and playing their hearts out. Let's make this September one to remember instead of one to forget.

If my great experiment doesn't work, so what. At least we tried. At least we didn't sit on our hands, ignore the problems and pretend it would all be OK.

Drayton issues no votes of confidence

Seems that Roy caught Drayton's attention after all.

There's plenty of time when the season is over to address how we finished up. Let's see what the real potential of this team is. We had much greater expectations, so you have to adjust. Part of it you have to look at it. You ever see a team that had as many injuries to key players?”

I think we've already seen it. And injuries to key players? Valverde missed some time. Berkman missed some time. Roy was on the DL once. As far as your key players? That's a stretch.

Is Drayton happy with Coop?
"I don't know that I can have evaluated or considered that. We're going to review every part — from the players to the manager, to the farm system. We haven't picked out any one part of it.

Is Drayton happy with Roy?
"Roy had great frustration, and that's part of a champion. He wants to win as much as anybody else. These are problems you need to solve internally rather than through the media...

...“He didn't name any names. I'm kind of struggling to know who he was referring to. We got some great players. When we put this team together in December and January, we certainly had thought we were going to have better results than we had this year. I think the team has given great effort. Particularly when you get to the big leagues, you play 162 games and you need to play hard, aggressively for the 162 games; No. 1, for the fans. They support you. And for the team, that's how you build your fan base and the fan base for the season. And for the players themselves, they take lots of pride in their careers.”


Is Drayton concerned?
"You're always concerned. I think there is concern because we had great expectations.”

Seriously, who spilled water in the bullpen?

That may not be how it went down, but Arias says he strained his hamstring slipping in the bullpen while warming up. He won't be throwing for two to three days.

With Arias on the DL with a hamstring strain, becoming the fifth Astro to hit the DL with a bad hamstring, Run-DMc (Drayton, for those of you new to Astros County) is going to order a full investigation into why it's happening:
“Look at how many hamstring strains, calf strains and other injuries we've had. Do we need to change our training routine? Do we need to see the energy drinks they take? We need to see what has caused all these injuries. Have you ever seen so many calf injuries? Look how many calf injuries.”

I'll go out on a limb and say that the energy drinks are safe. But the training routine...he may be on to something.

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Looks like Paulino will get the start on Sunday, and not Wandy:
“Well, we've kind of decided, but we still don't want to put it in stone just yet because you know how these things are. When you make plans, then all of a sudden there's a long day or a long ballgame and you have to use everybody you got.”

So they're leaning towards it, but fully realize that Saturday's game could be a complete disaster.
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Boone will rejoin the team on Tuesday, after rosters expand to 40 players:
You know when you go to spring training you start to get ready for the grind of the season. And not being able to go through it with the guys — a lot of these guys I knew coming in and a lot of these guys that I didn't know as well — I was really looking forward to playing with. That at least it's going to become a reality for a month is nice.”
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And Blum will rejoin the team today after a negative MRI showed that he was just being a wuss.

Recap for G128 - Astros at Diamondbacks

Some Astros fans are going to be upset about this latest turn of events, in which our two newest pitchers allowed 14 runs in a 14-7 loss at Arizona. I'm not. Not even close, because this is on the job training for 2010. So why should I care what happens in 2009 if we're already thinking about 2010? It was one game, and a lot of lessons can be learned from it. Let's do the thing:

Bazardo: 2IP, 8H/8ER, 0K:3BB, 10/15 first-pitch strikes, 8/24 non-contact strikes (7c:1s)
Lopez: 4IP, 8H/6ER, 3K:2BB, 13/22 FPS, 21/60 NCS (11c:10s) - 92 pitches, 3 homers
Gervacio: 1IP, 2K, 1/3 FPS, 7/9 NCS (3c:4s)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 4/9 NCS (3c:1s)

Pretty tough major-league debut for Lopez. I'm still impressed by Sam Gervacio and the job he's doing. Another inning of scoreles relief, and his ERA is now 1.08.

Offensively, it was the fourth time this season the Astros have scored seven runs and lost. Pence and Matsui were both 2x4 - Pence had two RBI, Matsui, just one - and Berkman and Keppinger were both 1x4 with 2 RBI each. Tejada was lifted after two ABs, and Maysonet installed at SS.

Not that it mattered, but the Astros actually led this game 2-0 in the first. Berkman made another baserunning mistake trying to advance to third after hitting a 2-run double...with nobody out. And then they led again, 4-3, on Keppinger's two-run homer in the 3rd. That's when the wheels fell off, for the first time, in the bottom half of the inning. Seven straight Diamondba'ks reached base, three of them on extra-base hits

Regardless, the only way to look at this and to not want to cry is that this was a learning experience game.

Pitch Count Hero: Jeff Keppinger - 23 pitches in 5 PAs (1x4, 2RBI)
Pitch Count Punk: Lance Berkman - 12 pitches in 4 PAs (1x4, 2RBI)

Man of the Match: Uhhh. How about Hunter Pence? Rebounded from being benched for most of the St. Louis series with 2x4, 2RBI.

Goat of the Game: Just because it's a learning experience doesn't mean that Bazardo gets off the hook. Got one swinging strike in 44 pitches.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Luis Gonzalez Appreciation Night

Here's betting no one makes too big a deal about Luis Gonzalez, all 6'2" 210lb of him, hitting 57 homers (he hit 31 HRs in 2000, and 28 in 2002) in 2001. However, he can still be appreciated in Arizona tonight before G128 with the Astros.

It was also announced that Gonzalez will be joining the Diamondbacks as a Special Assistant to Arizona President/CEO Derrick Hall.

He is one of only 17 players in Major League history to collect at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 350 home runs and 1,000 RBIs. Thirteen of those players are in the Hall of Fame, and only one of the 17 - Andre Dawson - is eligible for the Hall of Fame, but has not yet been elected.

Migraine Alert

A migraine is quickly derailing Astros County this afternoon. So service will resume when available.

Pence: Punching the wall doesn't do anything

Julian Tavarez would disagree, but whatever.

In a story on his latest stint as benchwarmer, Hunter Pence has learned a few lessons:

"I'm going to continue to work and continue to learn. When you fail in this game, you learn from it. I wouldn't say that I've been a complete failure. You go through ups and downs, but you've got to learn and figure out a way to turn it around. I'm going to continue to work until we get back to the postseason...

...I get angry from time to time. When I was a kid, I learned that doesn't get you anywhere. Punching the wall doesn't do anything. You learn that at a young age, to keep that in and old your head high and continue to learn on those things. After a little bit of time, it goes away. You're going to be hot for a little bit, and then it goes away."


Pence has hardly been a complete failure. His 57 RBI rank him 13th among NL outfielders, 19 HRs are tied for 6th among NL outfielders, and his 213 total bases are 12th among that group, as well. It's also important to remember that this is really his second full season, third overall, as a Major Leaguer.

Jerome Solomon on Roy's tirade

It must have taken a while to form an opinion. But what we do read is an interesting quote from Ed Wade about it:

"If he feels that way, he should name names, either that or address the players privately," Wade told Jesus Ortiz. "I just think that it's something that if he feels strongly about that, so strongly that he feels compelled to make public, I think he specifically should point out players who he feels aren't giving 100 percent. Because otherwise it's an indictment of the other 24 players on the club. I prefer for those things to be dealt with in private."

This response cracked me up. Basically, Wade said there is a right way and a wrong way, and though he would prefer you do things the right way, if you're going to do them the wrong way, do it big. Go big or go home.

Now read this. And then you'll need this:

You don't have to name names for the names you didn't name to know it is their names you would have named if you were naming names.

Once you diagram it, it makes more sense. But all this is to lead to the point that maybe Roy is talking himself into forcing a trade.

First September Call-Up announced

And it's Jamey Snodgrass, athletic trainer for the Corpus Christi Hooks.

I am very excited about going to Houston. It is every Minor Leaguer's dream to make it to the big leagues. I have been fortunate to work some Major League Spring Training games, but I am sure those cannot compare to being in the dugout for a regular-season game. I am extremely grateful to the Astros for inviting me and look forward to helping out in any way possible.

Eddie's Farm: August 27

Eddie's Farm was back at it last night as we wind down the minor-league seasons across the organization: 3-4 last night.

Round Rock
Completion of Wednesday's suspended game finishes with a 6-4 win, as Nashville scores three in the top of the 9th (with Corey Patterson's three-run jack). Tommy Manzella had the multi-hit game with a 2x5 night, Chris Johnson and Matt Kata had 2RBI each. Wesley Wright got the win, because Andy Van Hekken (AVH) had to be pulled for the completion of the game. Armando Benitez followed up his 3HR performance with a scoreless inning.

Game 2: And Round Rock won the shortened second game 2-1 on Chad Spann's 2-run homer. Mark McLemore threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 1K:1BB and Chad Paronto got his second save of the day.

Corpus
Rough night for the Corpuses, as Midland dominated 10-0. The Hooks had four hits (Castro, Van Ostrand, Molina, and Moresi). Unbelievably, the Hooks' pitching staff only had three earned runs after errors from Ori, Weatherby, and Locke led to seven unearned runs. Lumsden got the loss, throwing 6IP, 5H/6R (1ER), 2K:4BB, Weatherby threw 3IP, 3H/4R (2ER), 1K:0BB.

Lancaster
The JetHawks only got three hits in a 4-0 loss to San Jose. Shuck, Rosario, and Barnes provided hits, and no JetHawk made it to scoring position. Chris Hicks threw 5IP, 7H/4ER, 5K:2BB, and San Jose pitcher Paul Oseguera threw a complete-game, 9IP, 3H/0ER, 15K:0BB.

Lexington
The Legends actually had a 4-0 lead in this game, and then Hickory scored eight unanswered runs for an 8-4 win over Lexington. Brandon Wikoff was 2x4 with an RBI, Federico Hernandez was 1x4 with a 2-run double. Ross Seaton threw 6IP, 5H/1ER (2 total), 5K:0BB, while Kyle Godfrey had his 2nd blown save and third loss of the season with 2IP, 5H/5R (1ER), 1K:0BB.

Tri-City
Despite out-hitting Staten Island 14-9, Tri-City found a way to lose 10-6. Brian Kemp was back in the leadoff spot, going 1x3 with a walk. The ValleyCats got multi-hit games from Barry Butera, J.D. Martinez, Jhonny Medrano (2 RBI), Rene Garcia, and Jorge De Leon. But going 3x13 with RISP doesn't help much. Brandt Walker threw 2IP, 6H/6ER, 1K:3BB, following by 2ER outings from Brendan Stines and Dan Sarisky. Mike Modica and Max Fearnow threw hitless IPs each.

Greeneville
Greeneville was on the right end of a 4-1 game against Burlington. Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with a solo homer, and Grant Hogue, Our Boy Aaron Bray, Jiovanni Mier, Kyle Miller, Oscar Figueroa, and Ryan Humphrey all had hits, as well. Angel Gonzalez threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:1BB and Joan Belliard threw three perfect innings in relief for his first save.

Centerfielder, Justin Timberlake

Bizarreness out of Hollywood: A movie is opening in Corpus today in which Justin Timberlake plays Corpus Christi Hook Carlton Garrett. Jeff Bridges is his father, a retired Astro. Here's the plot:

Movie centers on the adult son of a baseball legend who, together with his girlfriend, embarks on a road trip with his estranged father.

Please. Someone in Corpus, near Corpus, around Corpus: go see The Open Road and get us a review.
IMDB is giving it 4.6 out of 10. Apparently Lyle Lovett is in it. Which bumped it up the 0.6 in my book.

Do the Astros owe it to Roy to trade him?

I say no. John Royal says yes.

I'm a big Roy Oswalt fan. I've been a big fan since he came up in 2001. I like that Oswalt actually seems to care about what happens in a game. I really like this in that it generally appears that guys like Tejada, Lee, and Lance Berkman rarely give a damn about what actually happens during the game. And the fact that Tejada has emerged as the clubhouse leader instead of a guy like Oswalt has always been a sign that most of the team just doesn't really care.

It's pretty obvious that there are going to be changes in this club come the off-season. Cooper will probably be fired. Tejada and Jose Valverde are free agents. And I'm sure the club will start listening to trade offers for just about everybody else on the team. Including Roy Oswalt.

For the sake of Oswalt, to preserve his sanity, and because he deserves it, the team really should make sure that he's one of those that get traded. I could never understand why Oswalt signed that big extension on his contract a couple of years ago. It was obvious then the team was headed in the wrong direction, and as a free agent, he would have been able to command big dollars from clubs like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers -- teams that have shown a willingness to pay for pitching as well as teams that are using in contention for the playoffs.

Of all of the players on the Astros, Oswalt, to me, is the one who most deserves to be playing baseball when it really matters, and that's not something the Astros are going to be doing for a long, long time. So as soon as this season's over, the Astros should be on the phone to all of the other clubs telling them that it's open season and Oswalt can be theirs if the deal is just right...

...Sure. The Astros pitching will suck without Oswalt. But the pitching sucks with him here, as does the rest of the team, and there's no legit reason why he should continued to be punished. Send him to a team that cares, and that can win. And if the Astros can do this right, they'll get a lot of grade A talent for restocking the farm system so that, in about three more years, there will be somebody available to play with Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Plus, by then, the team will be free of Lee, Matsui, and the rest of the slackers who just show up to collect pay checks.

Blum Shoulder, or is it Blum Neck?

Geoff Blum flew back to Houston yesterday to have his shoulder spasms checked out.

Coop thinks the problem in his shoulder, nay, even his knee lies in his neck:
“I think it's a nerve in his neck that's causing the problem. He's been battling a sore left knee and everything. He's got to get checked out.”
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Hunter Pence feels personally responsible for his performance in August, a month in which he's hitting .214.

“Where we're at right now, I feel like I'm letting the fans down in Houston. We got to figure out a way to turn it around. That's what I'm working to do.”

Well, the fans in St. Louis love it.
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And an update on Hampton's PRP:
“I hadn't thrown in two weeks. I didn't expect to feel great. I'll probably try it again in Arizona and see how I feel then. I threw probably about 50 throws. I'm trying to get it going. Some felt good, some didn't. ... I don't care who you are, if you haven't thrown in two weeks you're not going to feel great. We'll see. We'll give a couple more days and see how it feels.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I bet the boys in Round Rock aren't real happy about this

So Alberto Arias is headed to the DL with a sore knee. Who comes up to replace him? No one from Round Rock, I'll tell you that much.

Our friend Greg Rajan, of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, tells us that Hooks pitcher Wilton Lopez will take his place on the big club, and will join the Astros in Arizona for the series against the ''''''''''''.

Apparently Doug Arguello is Lopez' interpreter, and said this, on behalf of Lopez:
“I was surprised when they called me (to Hooks manager Luis Pujols’ office). I was thinking different things, like going to Triple-A or something. Now, it’s the major leagues and I’m real excited. That (opportunity) is what you’re waiting for whenever you’re doing your job well.”

Pujols:
“Sometimes it’s not just the ERA – it’s what you see out there. I believe he can do it. He’s throwing the ball well. I believe he can do it (in the majors).”

I'll be honest. If I was Casey Daigle, or Josh Muecke, I'd be pretty pissed off. But I'm happy for Wilton Lopez.

Recap for G127 - Astros @ Cardinals

Well, it avoided a sweep, and the Astros are 1-0 following team meetings in August. Jeff Keppinger broke a 3-3 tie with a solo homer with two outs in the top of the 9th, and Valverde recorded six outs to preserve a 4-3 win over St. Louis.

Moehler: 6IP, 6H/3ER, 1K:1BB, 17/24 first-pitch strikes, 20/50 non-contact strikes (17 called:3 swinging)
Gervacio: 0.1IP, 1H, 2/3 FPS, 3/11 NCS (3c)
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1/1 FPS, 1/2 NCS (1c)
Fulchino: 0.1IP, 1K, 0/1 FPS, 3/3 NCS (1c:2s)
Valverde: 2IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:1BB, 5/8 FPS, 7/13 NCS (4c:3s)

Moehler threw a quality start, and departed somewhat early, having thrown just 76 pitches through six innings. Coop used three relievers to get through the seventh inning, and Valverde allowed two baserunners in a six-out save - his first six-out save of the year.

Offensively, Matsui and Coste had the only two two-hit games, both going 2x3 with a walk. It looked like the Astros had wasted a pretty good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning, sending eight men to the plate but only scoring two runs. Keppinger flied out to right with the bases loaded to end the inning, and it looked like his Goat streak would run to two games. With the Cardinals leading 3-2 in the 8th, Tejada scored from first on Erstad's double to tie it up, and then Keppinger hit a squeaker over Matt Holliday's head for the game-winning home run with two outs in the 9th.

Pitch Count Hero: Chris Coste - 18 pitches in 4 PAs (2x3)
Pitch Count Punk: Lance Berkman - 12 pitches in 5 PAs (0x5)

Man of the Match: It has to go to Keppinger. The Astros haven't got the Big Hit lately, and Keppinger provided that hit with the game-winning knock.

Goat of the Game: Lance Berkman: Even with his 2x4 day yesterday, Berkman was 2x12 against the Cardinals in this three-game set. Add the quick ABs, and that's a Goat.

About that players-only meeting

McTaggart addresses Berkman's players-only team meeting:

Oswalt, with the comments that started it all:
"The team atmosphere is dead. There's no fire. When you get on a streak, you come to the field expecting to win. When you're dead, you come to the field just hoping to get by. That's what it feels like around the clubhouse -- just a dead feeling. We've got so far behind it seems like we're going through the motions as a team. You've got to play it out. You've got to play all the games."

Cooper:
"I don't think that's the case. I totally disagree with that. I think this has been two of our better ballgames right here. We just haven't hit. One hit to the left or to the right and it's different ballgames. We win them."

Berkman:
"I don't like to talk about players-only meetings in the media, but it was good. You never like to have too many of those kinds of things. I just think that communication is really important, especially when you're dealing with 25 individuals and you're trying to come together as a team. Communication is essential...

...I think he's just concerned about making sure that guys keep playing hard, that we still have a month and a week left. It's just a situation where it looks pretty bleak in terms of our playoff chances, and in order to guard against complacency, sometimes you have to check yourself and say, 'All right, so what? Let's just keep playing hard and get after it.'

"This has been a tough season for us in a lot of ways. Since we were one game out a month ago, things have gone south in a hurry. We just haven't played as well as we would have liked, and I think there's a lot of disappointment and frustration, and you just want to make sure things are as they should be as we head into the final month of the season."

"When you're winning and you're in contention, you talk to any player in the history of the game and they always say, 'This year went by quick because we were in contention,' or if you're out of contention, 'Man, it drags by.' I think where you're at in the standings and how you're playing has a lot to do with the atmosphere of the club."


Thing is, from what I can tell by reading the Chronicle and Astros.com, the atmosphere of the club has never been good this season. They might tell fans it was a joke, but remember when Carlos Lee showed up two days late to Spring Training? Berkman sniped at him - I know, they're really friends and all - but from the moment this team got to Kissimmee, it's been one thing after another.

Scary note on T.J. Burton

From McTaggart's new blog:

T.J. Burton, right-handed pitcher at Double A Corpus Christi, collapsed Wednesday in the clubhouse in Corpus Christi. He was taken to the hospital and admitted into the ICU with a possible viral infection. He is still undergoing tests and remains in the ICU.

Justice gives the Astros the $.44 for postage

(Because they're mailing it in).

Here's a list of the quitters
1. The team on Cooper
2. The team on each other

It's not just that the Astros are playing out the string when there's still so much string left. It's not just that they're near the bottom of the National League in pitching, hitting, baserunning, etc. It's not just that they're buried in the standings despite one of baseball's highest payrolls.

All those things tell you that the people in charge have screwed up the franchise. Some of the problems developed over a long period of time. Some of them were bad decisions last off-season. Regardless, the Astros are a mess, and until the people in charge admit there's a mess, they're unlikely to get better...

... The Astros were 1.5 games out of first place on July 24. They'd won 31 of 48, and some of us believed they might just be good enough to win a mediocre division. Their starting pitching had been terrific and they'd developed a knack for getting a key hit at the right time. In ways large and small, they appeared to be a good team.

Two things have happened since then. One is that the St. Louis Cardinals were transformed by the acquisition of three-time All-Star Matt Holliday. They're 22-8 since, and with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter at the front of the rotation, the Cardinals have emerged as the National League's best team. They've blown away the competition in the NL Central, opening up the largest division lead in baseball.

The other is that the Astros have gone in the tank. They've gone 11-19 and fallen to 12 games out of first. They're scoring just 3.9 runs per game in this stretch, and their ERA is 5.61. Miguel Tejada is hitting .227 since then, Hunter Pence .231, Kaz Matsui .206. Pudge Rodriguez had stopped hitting when he was shown the door. Brian Moehler (1-4, 6.00), Mike Hampton (1-3, 8.47) and Oswalt himself (1-1, 4.91) haven't pitched well...

...Now it's too late. Now we're playing out the string and all the professionalism that carried them through the bad managing and bad management is being tested.

Coop fights a lack of fire with fire

Coop apparently disagrees with Roy's conclusion that the Astros have no fire.

Let the pissing match commence. I think the only fire we'll see for the rest of the season is Coop going down in flames. How silly does it look to argue with a team leader about how much intensity there is on the team?

Lineup for G127 - Astros @ Cardinals

Captip, Alyson Footer:

Bourn CF
Keppinger 3B
Berkman 1B
Lee LF
Tejada SS
Erstad RF
Matsui 2B
Coste C
Moehler P

Team Meeting alert

According to McTaggart, Berkman called a team meeting this morning to remind them that they are still getting paid to play baseball, even if the baseball they're playing sucks (okay, I made up that last part). McTaggart also said Berkman understands where Roy is coming from (on the "no fire" part).

I imagine the team meeting being similar to the halftime speech by Jon Moxon against Gilroy:

"Let's go out there and play the next 36 games for the next 36 games. And we'll leave all out on the field. We have the rest of our lives to be mediocre, but we have the chance to play like gods for the last 36 games of this season. But we can't be afraid to lose. There's no room for fear in this game. And if we go out there and half-ass it because we're scared, then we're left with nothing but an excuse. We'll always wonder. But if we go out there and give it all we got, that's heroic. Let's be heroes."

And of course there would be no coaches in this meeting, either

Sweet Lord...no.

Matt Holliday on 1380 Radio in St. Louis:

"Hopefully this will be a long term relationship. I love it here [in STL]."

Blum on his way back to Houston

McTaggart is reporting that Geoff Blum, scratched from last night's start with shoulder spasms, is headed back to Houston to be examined by team physician David Lintner.

Does this open up room for a September call-up for Chris Johnson?

A note on the guys Ed Wade let walk

Last December, the Astros declined arbitration offers to Ty Wigginton, Randy Wolf, and Mark Loretta. How have they done this season?

Wigginton: 91GP, 305 ABs, .259/.306/.387, 8HR/33RBI, 40K:19BB
Keppinger: 82GP, 235 ABs, .264/.337/.383, 3HR/21RBI, 25K:24BB

Loretta: 89GP, 153 ABs, .222/.306/.261, 0HR/22RBI, 18K:18BB
Michaels: 81GP, 114 ABs, .228/.285/.447, 4HR/15RBI, 32K:8BB

Wolf: 28GS, 9-6, 177IP, 3.25 ERA/1.11 WHIP, 133K:47BB
Hampton: 21GS, 7-10, 112IP, 5.30 ERA/1.55 WHIP, 74K:46BB

Could Brad Penny help the Astros

Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny - pardon me, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny has been released.

"I had some bad breaks and made some bad pitches. But I'm healthy, and that's what I'm happy about. This isn't last year, when I was hurt. If that had been the case, I'd be upset. All in all I had a great time here. My shoulder is healthy and I'm glad I came here. It was a blessing."

Could the Astros use him? Well, maybe. I would imagine there are three spots locked up in the rotation next year: Roy, Wandy, and The Troof (Bud Norris, for you newbies). There's a mutual option for Brian Moehler in 2010, and Yorman Bazardo figures to be in the mix, but if the Astros can sign Brad Penny (who signed a one-year $5 million deal). That leaves at least one spot available.

Penny, though, doesn't come without baggage. After leaving LA, Larry Bowa said:
"You mean the same guy who was never on time, out of shape and has one complete game? He has more stuff to worry about in the A.L. East than me. He has to worry about getting people out. He was never on time, was out of shape and never helped the kids out. Put that on the (expletive) dot-com. Put it in the headline. He never watched the game (when he was on the DL). Jason Schmidt watched the games. Nomar Garciaparra watched the games. Mark Sweeney watched the games. You go right down the line, everybody who was on the DL watched the games. But not him. He was out of there."

It's been since 2007 that the 31-year old Penny's ERA was under 5.50, and Houston isn't exactly known as a place for pitchers to reclaim their career, but if Easy Eddie is in the habit of taking fliers on veteran injured pitchers, Penny might work out. He's only pitched 226.1IP since 2007, and he says his shoulder feels fine. Buster Olney says the best place for him is Colorado, where he could take advantage of a chance to screw the Dodgers. What say you?

Eddie's Farm: August 26

Round Rock
Game suspended because of rain in the 4th, and will be resumed with a 5-1 Round Rock lead this evening.

Corpus Christi
Corpus had a 5-4 lead going into the 9th, Midland tied it up, and Corpus got it back in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off by Collin DeLome for a 6-5 win. Sutil, DeLome, and Locke had two hits each, and Jimmy Van Ostrand contributed a two-run bomb, while Jonathan Fixler hit a solo shot in the 3rd. Sergio Perpez threw 6.2IP, 6H/1ER (4 total). Evan Englebrook blew the save with the run in the top of the 9th, but got the win.

Lancaster
High Desert got two runs in the third, and that's all they needed in a 2-1 win over Lancaster. Koby Clemens had a double and a homer for two of the JetHawks' four hits. Shane Wolf threw a complete game, 8IP, 9H/2ER, 6K:0BB.

Lexington
With the game tied 3-3 in the seventh, Lexington broke it open with six runs, and then held on for a 9-7 win over Hickory. Eric Suttle and Russell Dixon were both 3x4 (Dixon: 3 doubles, 3RBI). Robert Bono threw 5IP, 4H/2ER (3 total), 0K:3BB. Brian Wabick got the win despite allowing 4H/3ER in 2.2IP, and Kyle Godfrey got his second save for the Legends.

Tri-City
The ValleyCats rode a 4-run 4th inning to a 6-3 win over Hudson Valley. Jake Goebbert and Sean Barksdale were both 2x3, Goebbert scoring two runs. Dallas Keuchel threw 5IP, 7H/2ER (3 total), 3K:2BB while the bullpen of Kirk Clark, Mike Modica, and Nathan Pettus threw 4IP, 4H/0ER, 3K:1BB.

Greeneville
Jiovanni Mier hit a 2-run walkoff in the 10th to give Greeneville a 5-3 win over Kingsport. Greeneville had leads of 1-0 and 3-1, but Kingsport tied it at 3-3 with two runs in the top of the 9th, allowing Mier to do his 1st Round thing. Nathan Metroka was 3x4 with two hits. Oscar Figueroa scored three runs, and Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x4 with an RBI. Juri Perez threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 6K:0BB. Travis Smink had the blown save with 1IP, 4H/2ER, and Abraham Gonzalez picked up the win - his first with the Gastros, and his ERA is currently 0.71.

JJO needs you to remember his loyalty

Carrying on the metaphor of death and destruction around the 2009 Astros, JJO wants you to remember something - just in case you ever question him:

In 2005, history will show that I refused to declare the Astros dead in the story that ran alongside the infamous tombstone. In 2009, however, I'm going to call it. I wish I could say you heard it here first, but you've heard it all over the place for a while...

...Bring out the peanut butter and jelly for the Astros, 'cause these boys are toast.

They aren't just dead. They're road kill.

I looked for a pulse in the Astros' clubhouse Wednesday night, and I didn't find one.

What many of you have seen for a while became quite clear: the 2009 season is over for your Houston Astros. Cheering for the Astros now is like continuing to hope the girlfriend who just dumped you and treated you like manure is suddenly going to think you're Brad Pitt. It isn't going to happen.


Metaphor Call-off:
1. Death (check)
2. Breakfast (check)
3. Relationships (check).

Brian Bogusevic: Not Roy Hobbs, Not Rick Ankiel

Zachary Levine is spending some time in Round Rock, and he gets his mini-recorder out after Brian Bogusevic, former pitcher turned outfielder, now leading the Express in OBP.

Express manager Marc Bombard:
"I saw him in spring training for the first time. And it's kind of hard to believe that he converted to an outfielder halfway through (last season).”

Bogusevic, in one of the best quotes you'll read all year:
All of us are in (Triple-A) for a reason; there's stuff that everybody needs to work on. For me, it's everything.”

Ricky Bennett:
We put him right in the fire when we sent him to AAA this year. At times, he's streaky, but I think that's normal for a young hitter in terms of experience. It's a lot different than when you're hitting in college and you face guys once a year. You make an adjustment to them; they make an adjustment to you, and it's a little bit of a game back-and-forth.”

And on a call-up next week?
“Quite frankly, I don't think any of our young outfielders are ready to be challenged. Our outfield is pretty set. There's not really a need.”

There are good pitches, and there are bad pitches

And Bud Norris knows the difference. On his last outing:

"Everything's normal, same stuff. Obviously I made some good pitches, I made some bad pitches. You got to keep on making good pitches and give yourself an opportunity. Obviously I want to pitch better. I have a lot of starts this year, but I feel good. That's all that matters — to get back there. I'm anxious for the task. My arm feels great."

Coop:
I think he's a young guy getting his feet wet really. He's been thrown to the wolves kind of. There's some things that he got away with in the minors he can't really get away with here. He just needs to fine tune his game, his breaking balls, get in the zone a little bit better and those kinds of things. This is all a growing process. And I think he got spoiled. I think we got a little spoiled.”
-
Pence isn't worried about hitting .215 this month:
I'm fine. Sometimes you get out a few days in a row. It's not going to stay. I don't go through long periods of that. It's unusual. I know I'll get my hits and be fine. Tell me a player that hasn't had a rough streak or a rough week. There's no panic at all.”

Coop:
"Ups and downs of the game, a long season. A younger player is going to have probably a bigger period where they scuffle and things. Some of the stuff that he's going through he's got to experience it."
-
Quintero: Better than Pudge? Wandy says it:
Pudge and Quintero are both good catchers. I'm not afraid to throw any pitch to either or a pitch in the dirt at any time because I know I have a good defensive catcher. Quintero has helped me a lot. He knows how to call a game. I don't check him off much anymore. At first I'd check him off often, but now he knows how I like to pitch a game. Pudge has more time in the majors and has known the hitters longer, but that's the only difference. Quintero is good on defense, has a good arm and is quicker. He has a good chance to be a good catcher for a long time.”
-
And speaking of Wandy, he doesn't know when he's going to pitch next. He may start Sunday (a game Paulino is in the mix to start), depending on how ineffective the upcoming starters are:
They said I'm possibly going to pitch Sunday or possibly pitch on Monday. They say if they have to use a lot of guys in the bullpen a lot then I'll pitch on Sunday against Arizona. If not, then I'll go against the Cubs on Monday.”

Coop:
It could be Wandy. I don't know. It just depends on what happens the next couple of days. It could be Paulino unless we use him in these next few days here, next two games. It could be Wandy because we don't know. It depends on how many guys we use the next couple of days.”

JJO gets macabre

I'm all for metaphors - obviously - but JJO took it to a new level:

For most of August, the stench of decay has been obvious to anybody around the Astros, and on Wednesday the St. Louis Cardinals’ Joel PiƱeiro was the latest pitcher to dance on their grave.

Recognizing what many fans and baseball folks have seen of late, Roy Oswalt finally identified the body at Busch Stadium.


Roy does exactly that:
“The team atmosphere is dead. There’s no fire. When you get on a streak, you come to the field expecting to win. When you’re dead, you come to the field just hoping to get by. That’s what it feels like around the clubhouse. It’s just a dead feeling. We got so far behind, it seems like we’re just kind of going through the motions as a team. We’ve got to play it out. We’ve got to play all the games...

...We have an owner that pays us money to come play. We’ve got to play. If you don’t give 100 percent, you’re cheating him and you’re cheating the fans of Houston. You’ve got to come out here and give everything you’ve got.”


JJO asked Roy if he means some guys are mailing it in:

"I’m just saying we’ve got to play. We’ve got to keep playing. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. Nobody else feels sorry for us. We’ve got to come in here and play and liven it up a little bit and play hard.”

Initially I thought, "who are these guys? I had more respect for them than this." And then I thought, "who can blame them?"

Coop was quick to put it on Roy:
"He wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. He had to battle. He really had to make pitches to get out of that first (inning). Heck, he had to do that in the fourth, the fifth and the sixth. He got the pitch count up, but he kept us in the game.”

No way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recap for G126 - Astros @ Cardinals

Okay, so the Astros have held the Cardinals scoreless for 14 of 16 innings (they haven't had to bat in the bottom of the 9th this series). Problem is, the innings where they do score is enough to win the game. Once again, all the runs scored by the Cardinals were in the 1st inning, and while the Astros got two back, it just wasn't enough (theme for this season?). Cardinals win, 3-2.

Let's do the thing:
Oswalt: 6IP, 10H/3ER, 3K:1BB, 23/30 first-pitch strikes, 27/70 non-contact strikes (20 called:7 swinging), 2HBP
Fulchino: 1IP, 1K:1BB, 0/4 FPS, 6/9 NCS (3c:3s)
Gervacio: 0.2IP, 2/2 FPS, 0/2 NCS
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 1K:1BB, 1/2 FPS, 4/5 NCS (2c:2s)

Oswalt's first inning:
Schumaker: Single to RF
Rasmus: Single to RF
Pujols: K looking
Holliday: RBI single to CF
DeRosa: 2-run double to left
Ankiel: Groundout to second
Molina: Groundout to second

And that was all the scoring. Roy gave up 10 hits over six innings - but obviously only six hits over the remaining five innings.

The Astros scored two runs in the 4th on four consecutive singles by Bourn, Pence, Berkman, and Lee. Tejada GIDPed for the first two outs of the season, and with Berkman on third, Keppinger grounded out to the pitcher. The Astros threatened again in the 9th. With one out, Ryan Franklin - who needed nine pitches last night - allowed a double to Lee. Tejada grounded out to third, and with Maysonet (running for Lee) on third, Keppinger grounded out to end the game. Six pitches. That's 15 pitches for five outs over two games.

Pitch Count Hero: The Astros weren't a very patient bunch tonight, Cardinals pitchers needed only 96 pitches to get through 33 Astros ABs. But Chris Coste gets the PCH - 17 pitches for 3 PAs (0x3)

Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee - 7 pitches in 4 PAs (3x4, 1RBI)

Man of the Match: Carlos Lee. Had three of the Astros' eight hits, and an RBI.

Goat of the Game: Jeff Keppinger. 0x4 on the night, and left the tying run on third base twice.

Brad James shut down

McTaggart is reporting via Twitter that pitcher Brad James has been shut down (after not having pitched since August 16) for the season with a jacked up shoulder.

Crasnick: Coop's negatives outweigh his positives

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick addresses Coop's job security, noting that Ed Wade wouldn't evaluate Coop, saying there's no value to it right now. Crasnick goes on:

A National League scout who's spent a lot of time watching the Astros thinks Cooper's strategic missteps have outweighed his positives. It's tough to live down intentionally walking Nick Johnson to face Hanley Ramirez.

"It's like he manages inning to inning rather than three innings down the road," the scout said. "I think he'd be better off as a first-base coach and working with hitters. He's had some good moments, but a lot of questionable moments as far as how he addresses and reacts to situations."

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&page=starting9/090826&campaign=rss&source=MLBHeadlines

Matchup for G126 - Astros @ Cardinals

It wouldn't be out of line to say that the hopes of the Astros season somewhat rest on tonight's game. If the Astros win tonight and tomorrow night, they'll pull within ten games of the Cardinals, and then there's a series with the Cubs next week....I know. Mathematically it's possible, but if the Astros don't fare well tonight and tomorrow, that's it. Tell Justice to get the tombstone ready again.

Roy Oswalt

At least we'll send Roy to the mound again, but if the Astros get blanked, what's the point? Nobody in the National League has more No Decisions than Roy, with 14. He's 7-4, but the Astros are 14-11 when he pitches, and the bullpen has blown five wins for him.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
8/11 @FLA59/63:28/1192/57
8/16 @MIL68/55:28/1294/65
8/21 vA'I73/02:015/9100/71


2009 road record: 4-2 (14 starts), 4.04 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 84.2IP, 62K:22BB
Career road record: 61-44 (143 games), 3.65 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 864.1IP, 6672K:222BB
Career vs. St. Louis: 9-7 (26 starts), 3.14 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 177.2IP, 132K:36BB
2009 vs. St. Louis: 0-1 (2 starts), 6.23 ERA/1.46 WHIP, 13IP, 8K:3BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .235/.295/.403, 54K:20BB
vs Lefties: .272/.314/.418, 62K:17BB

When swinging at the first pitch (80): .365/.365/.649, 12XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (332): .209/.244/.305, 83K:10BB
After First-Pitch Balls (224): .282/.372/.487, 33K:27BB

RISP: 24x112, .214/.328/.339, 28K:17BB
Runners on: 51x219, .233/.312/.397, 44K:23BB
2OwRISP: 9x52, .173/.317/.231, 18K:8BB

Joel Pineiro

Last three appearances:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
8/9 @PIT79/36:016/699/71
8/15 vSD6.27/35:115/7106/70
8/20 @SD7.24/17:211/8109/68


13 of Pineiro's last 14 starts have been considered Quality.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .268/.294/.373, 44K:6BB
vs Lefties: .261/.287/.365, 35K:12BB

When swinging at the first pitch (86): .342/.341/.506, 10XBH (1HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (339): .255/.278/.350, 60K:8BB
After First-Pitch Balls (225): .250/.290/.346, 19K:10BB

RISP: 43x130, .331/.350/.508, 16K:3BB
Runners on: 71x236, .301/.321/.436, 28K:6BB
2OwRISP: 16x56, .286/.322/.464, 6K:2BB

Jose Altuve is the lone NYPL player to be named to App League All-Star

Appalachian League All-Star Team was named, and 2B Jose Altuve is the lone Gastro representative on the team, despite the fact that he now plays in Tri-City.

LaHawk to be pulled back?

Well, the waiver claims expired 18 minutes ago, and what will happen with LaHawk? Smiley Rosenthal weighs in:

The Astros, however, will be inclined to pull him back, sources say.

Hawkins, 36, has a 2.03 ERA in 48 2/3 innings and a .645 opponents' OPS. The Astros want to re-sign him, knowing they could lose closer Jose Valverde as a free agent, weakening their bullpen.

Hawkins, too, is a potential free agent. He has enjoyed his time in Houston and is open to returning, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking.

New poll!

Eddie's Farm: August 25

Eddie's Farm followed up an 0-6 day with a 2-4 one. Baby steps...

Round Rock
At least we know one team in this organization can win a 1-0 game, as Round Rock did against Memphis last night. J.R. Towles hit a sac fly in the third, scoring Jose Vallejo (who was 2x3, and is 5x15 with 3 doubles since the Pudge trade) for the lone run. Bogusevic had two more hits, and Brian Esposito provided the 5th and final hit of the contest. Josh Muecke threw 7IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB while Casey Daigle struck out the side and Chad Paronto got his 22nd save of the year.

Corpus
The Hooks were taken down by Midland 11-6 last night. Drew Locke was 3x4, Jason Castro was 2x4 with 2RBI, and Jhon Florentino had the other multi-hit game. Felix Molina hit a 2-run shot in the 7th. Four Hooks errors led to five unearned runs, Kenny Baugh threw 5IP, 6H/4ER (6 total), 4K:6BB; T.J. Burton threw 2IP, 5H/2ER (5 total), 1K:3BB; Charlie Weatherby III (screw it, I'm never putting the "III" again) and Evan Englebrook threw 2IP, 1H/0ER in relief.

Lancaster
Wild one in High Desert last night, Lancaster took leads of 1-0 and 6-5, only to see it vanish time and again. The JetHawks tied the game at 11-11 with 2 runs in the top of the 9th before High Desert got it back in the bottom of the 9th with Jose Duran on the mound. High Desert's Joseph Dunigan got on with a 1-out double, and then advanced to third on a balk, who then scored on a sac fly. Ouch. It's the California League, so there's bound to be hitting. Ebert Rosario was 4x6, Jon Gaston was 3x6 with 3RBI, Koby Clemens was 2x5 with 4RBI (3-run jack), Ronald Ramirez was 2x5 with 2RBI, and Craig Corrado was 2x5. Chris Salamida went 4.2IP, 9H/10ER, 5K:1BB.

Lexington
The Legends got two runs in the bottom of the 8th for a 3-2 win over Hickory - no word if Gene Hackman was managing. Federico Hernandez and Michael Diaz were 2x4 with an RBI each. Brad Dydalewicz threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 6K:3BB, but it was Henry Villar who got the win with 2IP, 1H/1ER. Matt Nevarez got his first save with Eddie's Farm after a scoreless ninth.

Tri-City
Tri-City managed just three hits in a 2-1 loss to Hudson Valley. Brian Kemp, who has been hitting all over the lineup was 2x4 in the 2-spot. The ValleyCats only had three starters last night hitting over .235 (Martinez - .303; Altuve - .289; Kemp - .278). Colton Pitkin took a hard-luck loss, going 5IP, 4H/1ER, 7K:2BB, lowering his ERA to 3.98 and his record to 3-8.

Greeneville
Elizabethton was all over Greeneville in a 10-4 win. Carlos Mojica was 3x3, Grant Hogue was 2x4, as were Nathan Metroka and Kyle Miller. Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x4 for a five-game hitting streak. Luis Cruz threw 4.1IP, 8H/5ER, 3K:5BB, while Jeiler Castillo and Scott Migl threw 4.2IP, 10H/3ER, 5K:3BB.

Minor League IPs

The Orioles are limiting the number of innings pitched for their young'uns. Should the Astros do the same with pitchers under 25 years of age?

(Note: The Crawfish Boxes posted a similar story regarding Bud Norris)

Within that CB link, Tom Verducci explains:
The unofficial industry standard is that no young pitcher should throw more than 30 more innings than he did the previous season. It's a general rule of thumb, and one I've been tracking for about a decade. When teams violate the incremental safeguard, it's amazing how often they pay for it.

Alright, so let's take us a gander at this: Which pitchers age 25 and younger have already exceeded 30IP over 2008 totals?

Bud Norris
2007: 102.2 IP
2008: 80 IP
2009: 147.2 IP

Felipe Paulino
2007: 131 IP
2008: 0.2 IP
2009: 98 IP
It's worth noting that Paulino's IP jumped from 55 in 2005 to 126.1 in 2006. He threw 131 in 2007, and missed just about all of 2008. That's why he's listed - as a precautionary tale.

Danny Meszaros
2008: 26.1 IP
2009: 65.1 IP

David Duncan
2008: 55.1 IP
2009: 115 IP

Shane Wolf
2008: 58 IP
2009: 100.1 IP

As we get into Lexington, it's a little tricky, as many of the players were in short-season ball in 2008. Nevertheless:

Robert Bono
2007: 34.1 IP
2008: 75 IP
2009: 124.1 IP

Kyle Godfrey
2008: 30 IP
2009: 72.2 IP

Jordan Lyles
2008: 55.1 IP
2009: 133.2 IP

Again, this should be taken for what it's worth - pitchers advancing their careers (and some making an adjustment from short-season to a moderately full-out season). But it's still interesting.

Astros 2010 Club Options

Taking a quick look at the players who signed a contract with a 2010 club option:

Doug Brocail:
2010 salary - $2.85 million
OR
$250,000 buyout.
Verdict: Bye, Doug.

Brian Moehler:
2010 salary - undetermined, but makes $2.3 million in 2009
Mutual option
Verdict: Hard to say, but I'm guessing he's back next year.

Hampton to begin PRP

As in "plasma replacement therapy." For an explanation of PRP, click here.

Apparently, if he doesn't feel marked improvement by the end of this road trip, he'll go with surgery.

Hampton:
"I'm doing everything I can to get back. Any option that I have, any therapy, treatment or anything I have I'm trying. I'll probably know here before the road trip is over I think I'll probably have a good indication if I'm going to pitch this year or not...

..."(Astros team physician Dr. David Linter) said some of the Texans players have been doing it with ankle sprains and hamstring pulls and stuff like that. Brocail's tried it. I talked to Erstad. He had done it. He had tried it in the past. The big thing is it's not going to hurt. If it has a chance to speed up the recovery process, why not do it? I've been stuck so many times it kind of becomes second nature. It's just a little pain for now. Hopefully it pays off in the end...

..."Nothing is going to help by putting (surgery) off a month or two. I think the sooner I have it the sooner I have a chance to pick up a ball and see if I can do this."


So perhaps we've seen the last of Mike Hampton in an Astros uniform.
-
Paulino, on being named a reliever:
"I'm healthy. The opportunities that they give me I need to take advantage. I just want to have a genuine opportunity and I want to focus on any job that they give me and take advantage of it. You know how good it feels when they say you're going to relieve, because I feel more comfortable when I know what fixed role I have. Sometimes my mind wanders when I don't know what my role is. It's hard to say it, but it's true sometimes it's harder to focus when I don't have a set role."

So just to keep him off balance, because of the way the rotation lines up, with Wandy and Roy pitching against the Cardinals this week, and Coop giving Wandy/Roy extra-rest to pitch against the Cubs next week in a last-gasp effort to save this season (which at this point, if the Astros finish above the Cubs I'll be mildly satisfied), Felipe Paulino may get a start on Sunday. Because we don't want him to be focused, or feel comfortable.
-
And finally, Coop has no idea how Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan does it:
"They brought guys in that they saw some potential in. The guy (Duncan) over there seems to get them fixed. A new guy comes here, and he seems to fix them. They had (Todd) Wellemeyer last year pitch good for them. (Kyle) Lohse has had a couple good years after really bouncing around for a little. I have to say that the guy who's working with them or fixing them is a pretty good mechanic. I haven't the faintest idea (what Duncan does), but whatever it is, it seems to be working. They keep getting guys, reclamation projects and making it work. There's been some guys that it's worked pretty consistently. He's gotten (Chris) Carpenter squared away. He's gotten (current Brewer Braden) Looper to be a stinking starting pitcher and the guy's a bullpen guy. There's something to that. There's something to it. You got to give the guy some credit. I don't know what the philosophy is, but whatever it is it's working."

Good to know.

Wandy would rather give up 10ER than 1ER

Wandy ain't happy. Nor should he be:

“This one hurt worse than when they pounded me with some wood in Milwaukee. Remember when the Brewers scored 10 runs off me? Well, this one felt worse than that. To lose games like this hurts. You try to do your job well, but the other pitcher was excellent. He’s had a great year.”

Carlos Lee:
“Wandy pitched a great game. You can’t even say they hit the ball hard. The only hard ball hit was Ryan, and Pujols hit the ball right down the line, a two-hopper. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m happy to see Wandy keep pitching good. And if he keeps going, he’s going to keep us in the game and be a great pitcher...

...Sometimes you’re going to be dominated, and we got dominated today.”


Except the Astros have been dominated more than sometimes this season.

Recap for G125 - Astros at Cardinals

11 games back. Thanks to a pathetic offense and an effective Adam Wainwright, Magic Wandy took the loss despite allowing just three hits in a 1-0 loss at St. Louis. So that's 11 back with 37 to play. Anyone want to call this season?

Last night's game was the first time since August 16, 2006 the Astros have lost a 1-0 game. It is, however, the 9th time the Astros have been shutout this season. Let's just do the thing:

Wandy: 7IP, 3H/1ER, 6K:1BB, 15/25 first-pitch strikes, 30/64 non-contact strikes (24 called:6 swinging)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 4/11 NCS (1c:3s)

The pitching wasn't the problem. Wandy gave up an RBI double to Pujols in the first, and that was pretty much it. No other offense to speak of. After Pujols' double, Wandy retired 20 of the next 22 batters. Problem was, after a Michael Bourn leadoff double in the 1st, Adam Wainwright got the next 17 batters, which Bourn broke up with another single. This was just a miserable performance by the Astros' batters, going 0x5 with RISP (0x3 in the first inning alone).

Pitch Count Hero: Blum - 20 pitches in 3 PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Pence - 12 pitches in 4 PAs

Man of the Match: It could go to Bourn for providing two-thirds of the offense, but this one is going to Wandy. Remember Road Wandy last year? 4-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP (1.35 and 0.25 higher than his road stats, respectively). Road Wandy this year? 5-6 record - thanks, offense - but a 3.95 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, lower in both.

Goat of the Game: Hunter Pence. 0x4 - 1K and three groundouts, and 0x2 with Michael Bourn on base.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seven minor leaguers to play in Arizona Fall League

Captip to Crawfish Boxes, the seven new members of the Peoria Saguaros:

Evan Englebrook
C-Lo
Wilton Lopez
Danny Meszaros
Jason Castro
German Duran
Jon Gaston

http://www.crawfishboxes.com/2009/8/25/1001998/seven-astro-minor-leaguers

Matchup for G125 - Astros @ Cardinals

Three-game set at Beck's Stadium as the season is starting to wind down, with 38 games left to play. The Astros are an oft-mentioned 10 games back of the Cardinals. St. Louis is eight games up on the Cubs for first place.

The Cards are 23-12 since the All-Star Break, and since getting swept by a team that we used to recognize as the Astros are 21-8, and haven't been more than one game back of the NL Central lead since June 30.

Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy followed up the disastrous Milwaukee start with an excellent outing against Florida. We'll see what we get tonight.

Last three starts:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
8/9 vMIL75/03:210/13116/72
8/14 @MIL410/104:59/9105/64
8/20 vFLA84/07:210/10103/70


His last time out was just the third time this season that Wandy hasn't allowed an extra-base hit. In those games, he's predictably 3-0.

2009 road record: 5-5 (13 starts), 4.21 ERA/1.53 WHIP, 72.2IP, 70K:32BB
Career road record: 20-27 (67 games, 60 starts), 5.31 ERA/1.52 WHIP, 335.2IP, 282K:134BB
Career vs. St. Louis: 3-7 (13 games), 3.73 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 70IP, 48K:16BB
Career @ Beck's: 1-2 (4 starts), 3.18 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 22.2IP, 11K:7BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .257/.325/.420, 111K:44BB
vs Lefties: .195/.252/.280, 31K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (60): .3333/.3333/.550, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (336): .199/.234/.278, 101K:13BB
After First-Pitch Balls (246): .287/.408/.520, 41K:40BB

RISP: 29x127, .228/.308/.346, 30K:14BB
Runners on: 56x220, .255/.337/.359, 44K:25BB
2OwRISP: 16x65, .246/.355/.400, 16K:9BB

Adam Wainwright

Ahhh hell.

Last three appearances:






Date-OppIPH/ERK:BBGB/FBPit/Str
8/8 @PIT6.27/16:012/9112/83
8/14 vSD78/03:014/10103/68
8/19 @LA74/23:112/999/60


Wainwright has pitched against Houston twice this season:
Apr 6 v HOU: 5IP, 4H/0ER, 4K:3BB, 1W (11-2 StL win)
Aug 2 v HOU: 7IP, 8H/2ER, 5K:0BB, 1L (2-0 HOU win)

Nevertheless, it's been since June 21 (11 starts) that Wainwright hasn't thrown a quality start.

2009 home record: 5-6 (14 starts), 2.02 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 98IP, 87K:30BB
Career home record: 20-16 (74 games, 42 starts), 2.81 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 323IP, 246K:89BB
Career vs. Houston: 6-1 (14 games), 2.17 ERA/1.08 WHIP, 62.1IP, 49K:17BB

Against teams he faced 10+ times, Wainwright's lowest ERA is, of course, against Houston.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .226/.268/.300, 81K:22BB
vs Lefties: .276/.346/.429, 71K:32BB

When swinging at the first pitch (83): .397/.392/.564, 9XBH (2HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (387): .182/.215/.241, 114K:15BB
After First-Pitch Balls (278): .303/.402/.470, 38K:39BB

RISP: 34x153, .222/.305/.288, 45K:19BB
Runners on: 65x290, .224/.293/.293, 74K:29BB
2OwRISP: 16x79, .203/.284/.266, 23K:9BB

Kent played in Houston without passion, heart

That's an incendiary, out-of-context take on Jeff Kent's comments as he gets elected to the Giants' Hall of Fame. But still...

Should he be elected to the Hall of Fame, Kent would want to go in as a Giant:
"All my accomplishments, my passion and my heart were left in San Francisco."

Plate appearances by prospect

There comes a time when a player either has it, or he doesn't. Sometimes it looks like a player doesn't have it, and they ultimately do. Sometimes a player has it, and then loses it. Obviously there is a lot of leeway in organizational need, quality of instruction at lower levels, etc. Let's just take a gander at some prominent MLB youngsters, and their minor-league plate appearances ("A" accomodates short-season, low-A, and high-A)

Evan Longoria, TB: 881 mL (minor league) PAs
A: 167
AA: 556
AAA: 158

Prince Fielder, MIL: 1929 mL PAs
Rook: 192
A: 719
AA: 577
AAA: 441

Ryan Howard, PHI: 2151 ml PAs
A: 1004
AA: 433
AAA: 384

Just for comparison's sake, Lance Berkman, HOU: 1241 mL PAs
A: 223
AA: 517
AAA: 501

Alright. With that small look at the way teams have recently handled the young'uns, let's peek at some guys in the Astros' system.

Drew Locke: 2086 mL PAs
Rook: 192
A: 1360
AA: 534

Koby Clemens: 1920 mL PAs
Rook: 133
A: 1766
AA: 21

Collin DeLome: 1253 mL PAs
A: 792
AA: 461

Jason Castro: 644 mL PAs
A: 345
AA: 239

Houston Press: Tear It All Down

The Houston Press is back with some advice for Drayton McLane:

I wouldn't waste any money on Oakland pitcher Justin Duchscherer. He hasn't pitched this season because of injuries. He missed most of last season because of an injuries. He's currently undergoing treatment for depression. He's over 30. If you think about it, this guy could be just like Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz, but he would get more money. And the key to the Astros getting better for next season is not wasting more money on aging, injury-prone veterans.

But there's something else I would do differently than Justice, and from what my friend wants. And it's this: I wouldn't spend much money on signing free agents. That's because signing expensive free agents is the opposite of the approach I would make with the team. This team needs to get younger. It needs to get more talent. It needs to position itself to be able to make a run for the title for years, not for a season. In short, I'm revisiting the Astros of 1990.


So turning back the clock to 1989 means:
1. Trade Berkman, Matsui, and Oswalt
2. Let Tejada and Valverde walk
3. Get rid of Ed Wade, hire Gerry Hunsicker back from Tampa Bay
4. Get rid of Cecil Cooper, hire Buck Showalter from ESPN

The hardest part will be dealing with Drayton and the fans. Because this team will be bad for several years. But if the money is invested in the farm system and the front office, and if youngsters like Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn are signed to long-term contracts that buy out their arbitration years, then a team following this blueprint can become a contender in a matter of years.

If smart people are in charge, this is a winning formula for the future.


What do you think?

The Cardinals are bored with us

So St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Gordon says:

There is not much intrigue surrounding the Cardinals these days. They are racing back to postseason play.

They know it and their National League rivals know it. They are destined to win the Central Division with this reloaded roster...

...From here to October, the Cards just have to go about their business and grind out some victories.


/quiet sobbing.

Cabell to direct "Koby: Doin' Work"

Enos Cabell apparently couldn't shut up about Koby Clemens over the weekend.

Let's turn to JJO, who has breakfast with Enos Cabell, apparently, enhancing the quality of his Manifest Destiny of knowledge:
Over breakfast Sunday morning, Enos Cabell was gushing about Clemens, saying the young catcher might be the most clutch run producer in the whole organization.

I looked to see if Cabell was joking, but he wasn't. He is seriously impressed with Clemens.

"You need to pay attention to this kid," Cabell said. "He's had a great year and he's not getting enough recognition about it."


Ricky Bennett, what say you?
"He's right," said Astros assistant general manager Ricky Bennett, who also thinks Clemens has made dramatic strides this season behind the plate.

And JJO's after-school special portion:
Clemens has been a respectful young man, remaining classy during difficult times. More importantly, he's shown that he has a genuine fighting spirit and desire to be a major leaguer some day.

At Lancaster this season, Koby is hitting .346/.420/.622 with 62 of his 130 hits coming for extra-bases, and a league-leading 110 RBI.

Eddie's Farm: August 24

This is a first - at least in a very long time - but Eddie's Farm was 0-6 last night. /sadness.

Round Rock
Memphis took it to Round Rock with a 12-7 win, and what sunk the Express was the four consecutive homers given up by new Round Rocker Armando Benitez in the 8th inning, all with two outs, to Glaus, Craig, Hamilton, and Descalso. Reggie Abercrombie hit a grand slam in the 4th for a 3x5, 4RBI day. Chris Johnson was 2x5 with three runs scored. Aside from Benitez, Erick Abreu threw 5IP, 7H/4ER, 3K:4BB; Brocail took the loss with 1IP, 3H/3ER (4 total), 0K:2BB. Roy Corcoran threw a scoreless inning between Brocail and Benitez (the Filler Bs), and Geary closed it out in the 9th with 1IP, 2H/0ER.

Corpus
Springfield scored two runs in the bottom of the 11th on a two-run walkoff homer off Charlie Weatherby III - look, are his dad/grandpa still playing? Can we drop the "III?" - for a 5-3 win over Corpus. Drew Locke accounted for all the runs with a three-run homer - his 20th - and Jason Castro was also 2x5, and is now hitting .301 for the Hooks. Hooks pitchers allowed nine hits and ten walks. Doug Arguello threw 3IP, 2H/2ER, 1K:5BB in the start, C-Lo threw 2IP, 1H/0ER, Ryan McKeller threw 3IP, 2H/1ER 4K:0BB, Danny Meszaros threw 2IP, 2H/0ER, and then Weatherby gave up two quick hits for the loss.

Lancaster
High Desert scored five runs in the bottom of the 8th for a 10-6 win over Lancater. Jack Shuck was 3x5, Koby Clemens was 2x4, and Marcos Cabral was 2x3. Cabral and Rosario contributed homers to the cause. Jon Gaston has cooled off considerably - after hitting .365 in May, and 11 homers in July, Gaston has one homer in August to go with a .187 average. His OPS, which this season has never been below .886, is .604 in August. Tom Fairchild allowed 10H/5ER (7K:1BB) in 6.1IP, Urckfitz took the loss with 1.1IP, 1H/2ER, and Jack Tilghman gave up 3H/1ER (3 total) in 0.1IP.

Lexington
The Legends were shutout again, this time 5-0 to Greensboro. Albert Cartwright was 2x4, with Wikoff, Diaz, Hulett, and Dixon contributing the other four hits. The Legends left 13 on base and were 0x8 with RISP. Jordan Lyles threw 5IP, 7H/4R (2ER).

Tri-City
You're not going to win many games giving up seven runs in an inning. That's an old baseball adage. And it rang true in a 12-6 Hudson Valley win over the ValleyCats. Sean Barksdale hit a 2-run pinch-hit jack, Erik Castro was 2x5, and Butera, De Leon and J.D. Martinez each contributed extra-base hits, but Tri-City was 3x15 with RISP. Zach Grimmett threw 3.1IP, 3H/2ER. Dan Sarisky, Max Fearnow, and Brenden Stines combined for 4.2IP of relief, allowing 11H/9ER, 5K:2BB, and 3WP.

Greeneville
Hold a lead one time. The Gastros were up 5-0 going into the 7th, and 5-3 going into the 9th. Elizabethton scored two in the top of the 9th, and seven in the top of the 15th for a 12-5 extra-innings win. Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x3 with 2RBI and 2BB. Wilton Infante was 2x7 with 4K. Jonathan Meyer was 1x4 with 4 walks. Jose Cisnero got it right in his start, throwing 6IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:0BB. Murillo Gouvea gave up 4H/5ER in 2IP for the blown save, and Joan Belliard gave up 6H/6ER (7 total) in 0.1IP in the 15th, with 0K:2BB.

Damn those Rockies!

They're taking the Astros' rightful place as MLB's preeminent second-half team!

After last night's walk-off grand slam against the Giants, the Rockies are 24-13 since the All-Star Break. They were 35-31 in 2008, and of course their September run in 2007 propelled them into the playoffs and, ultimately, a World Series tail-whoopin', with a 46-29 record (20-8 in September).

Add that up, and the Rockies have a 105-73 record in the second half over the last three seasons.

The Astros in the second half during that span? 93-82.

Rosenthal earlier this morning reported that the Astros placed LaHawk on trade waivers, and mentioned Colorado as a possibility. With a 4-game lead in the Wild Card, and just three behind LA, I'm not sure they'd need LaHawk, but it's an intriguing option.

Unofficial Scorer reports from Round Rock

Zachary Levine, reporting from The Rock:

Express pitching coach Burt Hooton, on Polin Trinidad:
“He doesn't have overpowering stuff, so whenever he makes a mistake up in the strike zone, that's what gets hit. To me, that's the biggest reason he's given up so many home runs.”

Trinidad, on Trinidad:
“The hitters here make more adjustments. And sometimes when you make mistakes they do a better job with them.”

Levine, on Trinidad:
His fastball isn't all that fast (88 mph or so on the gun), his changeup not all that slow, and his breaking ball and slider are in need of sharpening. At the upper level of the minors, that will be exposed.
-
Towles is back! After spending nearly a month on the DL with a hamstring strain, it's going to take a couple of weeks to get back to game action. Problem is, season's over 7 Sept. So he's hoping for a call-up:

“That's where everybody wants to play is up there in the big leagues. Hopefully I get there and start up there next year and not be back in the minors any more.”

Bullpen: Once awesome. Now kind of sucks.

At the beginning of the year I, and everybody else, thought the bullpen was the #1 strength of the Astros' team. Not so much, it turns out.

Sampson gave up five runs in two innings over his first two outings in Round Rock this month, giving the Astros reason to wonder if they will call him back when rosters expand Sept 1. Righthander Geoff Geary, another top bullpen arm last season, struggled early and landed in Round Rock, where he held a 1-3 record and 5.06 ERA heading into Monday night.

“Those two scenarios are probably a little bit different,” Cecil Cooper said of Sampson and Geary. “We need Chris to be pitching really good. He's struggled, I think, the two outings he's had (at Round Rock). He's gone one inning the first time and gave up a couple runs. Didn't throw very well, and the last time he didn't throw very well. From listening to the reports, it doesn't sound like the ball is coming out better than when he was here. Geary is throwing better, but not as good as we've seen.”


Sampson's ERA by month:
April: 1.32
May: 2.76
June: 3.86
July: 10.80

Dewey:
“I think it's just a case of getting the sinker working again and pitching at the knees like he did the first half here. He was a very valuable member of our bullpen the first half of the season...

...Chris has been a guy that's always battled injuries coming off, you know, his whole history being an infielder and sitting out for four years and coming back as a pitcher, and each year he's had his ups and downs physically. And last year was the same thing. As a starter he battled injuries and things like that, so it's kind of expected again this year.

Being here now the two years, the workload on a reliever is just incredible, just a 162-game season and these guys are available probably two-thirds of the time. Whether they get in the game or not or get up, it takes its toll. I think if you look at careers of these guys, the guys that have been around for a long time, you see a lot of peaks and valleys over year to year. I think a lot of it can be based on health and the workload they get."


I'll say this again, but there is absolutely no reason for Sampson to be pitching right now. Shut him down, and let him come back in 2010. It's not like the Express are fighting for a playoff spot, so let him rest and see what he has in 2010. If he comes back in 2010 and is leaking runs like a sieve, then that's that. If he comes back and is early 2009 Chris Sampson, then this is on Cecil Cooper for continuing to run him out there. Sampson is still third on the team in appearances, with 49. That's absurd. Only Byrdak (55), and LaHawk (50) have more appearances, and only Fulchino has more IPs for a full-time reliever than Sampson. Still.

LaHawk placed on waivers?

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Astros have placed LaHawk on waivers:

The Astros placed right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins on trade waivers Monday, a development that should snap the Rockies, Cardinals and Dodgers to attention.

The Rockies, who have the worst record of the three, would get the first crack at Hawkins in the waiver process. Hawkins, owed less than $900,000 for the rest of the season, has held opponents to a .645 OPS in 48 2/3 innings.


If LaHawk goes, that muddies the 2010 closer picture a little bit...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Heart? Check. Hustle? Check. Pence? Check.

Hunter Pence has been named the Astros' winner of the 2009 Heart and Hustle Award.

The Heart and Hustle Award is voted on by Major League alumni and presented annually to an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game.

The award will be given out November 6. Grady Sizemore won the award last season, and Craig Biggio won it the two seasons before that.

Roy doesn't give two craps about Lexington

So he explains in a McTaggart article on the aging stars of the Houston Astros. Time is running out on them and their creaky, osteoporitic bones.

Berkman, who is a little more gracious:
"All of the individual stuff is already taken care of. You're an established Major League veteran. When you get to 10-plus years in the big leagues, you've made your money and been on All-Star teams. Really, the only thing that's left is the World Series and winning a ring. That's the goal. We'd all love to do that, and that's why we play. But if it doesn't happen, I'm not going to feel like my career is a bust. If my career wound end today, I'd be perfectly happy with everything that's happened. I'd love to win a World Series, but it's not like I spend a whole lot of time saying, 'It doesn't look like we're going to get it done.' You just go out there and play the games. I would like to get back to the playoffs and give ourselves another chance to make a run at it...

...Nobody owes us anything. I know Drayton is loath to rebuild or even have the word mentioned, but the reality is at some point, there's going to be a transition and they've got to look at the next 10 years in the organization. I won't be around then. They've got to do what's best for the health of the organization."


Roy cares not for the overall health of the organization:
"I think about it all the time, especially if I'm going to stay on my game plan. I have two more years. Time is running out. That's why I'm trying to push them not to look two years down the road. I'm looking at next year, and the better we can get now, the better we can be next year...

...Everyone says we have great prospects in A ball. That's great for the organization, but I'm looking at now. I tell Drayton all the time, 'The reason I signed here is I want to win, and let's do what we can do to win in the next two years.' Time is running out on me...

...I played 10 years and got close, but if you don't win the whole thing, it doesn't mean a whole lot. I've got a ring at every level I have played so far, and I need one more to complete the set.

Friend and Foe

Constable's Note: In advance of the Astros @ Cardinals series, Daniel from C70 at the Bat and I are taking a post on each other's blogs previewing the series from the opposing viewpoint. You can read my thoughts here. Now, Daniel, take it away.

My thanks to James for letting me take a little time over here at Astros County. As most of you know from reading his blog this year, we've tried to do something to mark the times when the Cards and Astros get together, reminisce about old times, and throw the ball around this season. I also want to thank James for being one of the first blogs to commit to our new Baseball Bloggers Alliance, a group that numbers close to 40 now. Be watching for more from that group after the season.

So as the Astros and Cardinals get together for late-season baseball, what do we have? This series is lacking some of the drama and high stakes that has marked their relationship in the past. I think I speak for most of Cardinal Nation when I say that we've always had a lot of respect and admiration for the Astros organization and their players. The rivalry has been intense in the past, but it's always been professional. So while the pennant race isn't over and a sweep by the Astros might change some minds about the season, the gap between the two teams does lessen the drama somewhat.

When last we saw each other, the Cardinals had just lost a shutout to Bud Norris but had won the series anyway. They stood a half-game ahead of the Cubs while the Astros were in third, just 4 1/2 back. It looked like a great pennant race was shaping up.

Being that my focus is fairly myopic on the team in red, I'm not sure exactly what happened to the Astros, but the Cardinals kicked it into another gear. They are 14-4 since that shutout back on August 2. The offense has kicked into gear as they've assimilated Matt Holliday and figured out the best ways to use Julio Lugo. The pitching staff, which had been strong all year, continued to go well and with a number of off days, the Cardinals were able to skip the #5 starter a couple of times. Not having Todd Wellemeyer especially on the bump increased the Cardinals chances five-fold.

Right now, there just aren't a lot of weak spots in the lineup. Tony LaRussa continues to mix and match somewhat, but the lineups have been much more stable after the Holliday trade, with a regular grouping of Albert Pujols, Holliday, Ryan Ludwick, and Mark DeRosa. Usually Yadier Molina, whose bat sometimes gets overlooked due to his defensive prowness, is right after that group. The middle infield of Skip Schumaker, Brendan Ryan and Lugo on occasion have the ability to get on base for the big guys as well as deliver a key hit when necessary.

The schedule doesn't favor the Astros either, as you will see all of the top Cardinal pitchers in this series. Adam Wainwright will go in the opener. Waino has been just spectacular, right at the top of the league in wins and a nice 2.61 ERA. His curveball has been an amazing weapon for him this year, freezing hitters on a regular basis. He currently has a streak of 24 games where he's gone at least six innings, so he's been able to stay in ball games.

The middle game will feature Joel Pineiro, who has taken this whole "keep the ball on the ground" to new heights while fashioning an ERA just a little above 3. The ERA would look even better if you factor out the 7 runs in 5 innings that he allowed to the Mets at the beginning of the month. That kind of hiccup, which was a regular occurrence last year, hasn't happened much at all this year, though the potential always lurks for it. However, he's only allowed over three runs in a game five times this year, and three of those were in May. He won't strike out many, but he won't walk anyone either, which can make for a quick game.

Finally, on Thursday Chris Carpenter takes the hill. You know Carpenter. Take everything I said about Wainwright and add about 10%. If it wasn't for his three weeks on the DL in the early part of the season, he might have overtaken Tim Lincecum in the Cy Young talks. He's 13-3 with a 2.27 ERA and has been, at least to Cardinal fans, a joy to watch on the mound this season. It's made the agony and the waiting for the last two years worthwhile.

I know I'm a hopeless homer, but the rotation shakes out to make it very favorable for the Cards to win the series. However, Houston always plays St. Louis tough, so the predictions and projections are worth about the paper they are printed on. (And since we aren't using paper....) Wandy Rodriguez has been a terror for Cardinal hitters this year, and you never count out Houston in a game Roy Oswalt starts. I know it's going to be a fun series to watch.

Projecting the NL Central

It's an over-simplified way of doing it, but the Astros are 10 games back with 38 to play, including three coming up with St. Louis. St. Louis is 72-54, Chicago is 62-60, the Astros are 61-63, and Milwaukee is 61-64. Let's pretend that every other team stays within their exact winning percentage for the rest of the season. That means...

St. Louis: 93-69
Chicago: 83-81
Milwaukee: 79-83

To catch the Cardinals, who would theoretically go 21-15, the Astros would need to go 32-6. Did I get that math right? Do I really care?

Minor League Standings Check

Let's look in to see where Eddie's Farm stands:

PCL American, South







TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
Albuquerque7257-7-3L1
Okla. City64647.54-6W1
New Orleans5671156-4L1
Round Rock5574172-8L5


Texas League, South (2nd half)







TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
Midland3322-7-3W1
Frisco292646-4W2
Corpus253086-4L2
San Antonio243194-6W1


Calfornia League, South (2nd half)








TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
High Desert3125-7-3W4
Lancaster272946-4W1
Lake Elsinore263055-5W3
Rancho Cuca.263053-7L4
Inland Empire2135102-8L7


SAL, South (2nd half)











TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
Asheville3519-6-4W5
Augusta33222.56-4L1
Bowling Green272782-8L6
Greenville27288.57-3L1
Savannah252795-5W3
Rome25289.55-5L2
Charleston233011.56-4W1
Lexington223313.52-8W2


NYPL Stedler







TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
Lowell3526-7-3W4
Oneonta322725-5L2
Vermont283374-6W1
Tri-City2138136-4L1


Appalachian League, West








TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
Elizabethton4019-7-3W4
Johnson City312684-6L2
Kingsport263012.58-2W3
Bristol223617.54-6L2
Greeneville223617.53-7L4


GCL East








TeamWLGBLast 10Streak
Marlins3416-7-3W2
Nationals3117210-0W11
Cardinals222711.54-6L1
Mets2030142-8L1
Astros163317.53-7L4

Eddie's Farm: August 23

Round Rock
Memphis was all over the Express in a 6-1 win yesterday, as seven of the Redbirds' 13 hits were for extra-bases. The Express had seven hits, four coming from Brian Esposito (2x3) and Pudge-returnee Jose Vallejo (2x4 - two doubles), who got the start at 2B. Polin Trinidad's record dropped to 5-4, with 6.1IP, 7H/4ER, 3K:3BB. Daigle threw 1.2IP scoreless, and Chad Paronto gave up 2ER in 1IP on 4H and 1BB to raise his ERA to 1.66. And the Express are eliminated from the playoffs.

Corpus
Hopefully this trend of Astros players getting beat by Cardinals players ends here, as Springfield beat Corpus 3-1. Drwe Locke was 2x4, and Felix Molina had the only other Hooks hit - a solo homer. Wilton Lopez threw 7IP, 5H/3ER, 4K:0BB, and Danny Meszaros closed it out with 1IP, 1H, 1K.

Lancaster
The JetHawks scored five runs in the first and tacked an insurance run on in the 7th, beating Visalia 7-5. Lancaster got multi-hit games from Rosario (2x4, 1 RBI), Clemens (2x4, now hitting .344), and Cabral (2x3, 1HR, 3RBI). Jon Gaston also provided a 2-run double. One thing's for sure, park-aided or not (this game was at home), five JetHawks' starters from Sunday were hitting .290+ at game's end. Leandro Cespedes threw 5.2IP, 8H/4ER, 6K:4BB. Francisco Abad threw 3.1IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:1BB in relief.

Lexington
The Legends got off to a 5-0 lead, and cruised to defeat Greensboro 5-2. Brandon Wikoff and Brian Pellegrini had two hits and an RBI each. Kyle Greenwalt threw 6IP, 5H/2ER, 1K:0BB, while Kirkland Rivers and Kyle Godfrey combined for 3IP, 0H, 1K:1BB in relief.

Tri-City
Shortened game in anticipation of a double-header (Game 2 was suspended), Vermont took Game 1 3-0. The only three hits for the ValleyCats came from Barry Butera, Erik Castro, and Rene Garcia. Nick Stanley was the only ValleyCat to get on base twice, with two walks. Wander Alvino threw 5IP, 1H/1ER, 5K:3BB, while Mike Modica threw 0.2IP, 0H/1ER, 1K:1BB, and Kirk Clark gave up 3H/1ER in 1.1IP.

Greeneville
It all kind of fell apart in the 6th, as Elizabethton, with a 1-0 lead, then proceeded to score five runs in the 6th and three in the 7th, on their way to a 9-1 win. Every Elizabethton...Elizabeth had one hit. The Gastros only collected four hits - but three of 'em came courtesy of Our Boy Aaron Bray who had two doubles and a single. Bray now had four multi-hit games in his last five outings, with an average of .526 and an OBP of .632 since August 18. He's hitting .364 in his last ten games. Carlos Quevedo went 5IP, 4H/2ER (5R total), 5K:2BB, Scott Migl threw 1.2IP, 2H/3ER, 1K:4BB, and Jeiler Castillo went 2.1IP, 3H/1ER, 0K:1BB in relief.