Friday, September 18, 2009

Lance ain't happy

Nor should he be. Lance:

"Generally when we've gotten good pitching this year, we've won. This is the first time that I can remember, and I could be wrong, that we've had and extended streak of good starting pitching and really have nothing to show for it because we haven't been able to get anything done offensively. It's a bad streak; there's no doubt about it."

Recap for G147 - Astros @ Brewers

So that's 0-fer on this four-game road trip, and five straight losses overall. Since sweeping Philly, the Astros are 3-7, with this latest bullpen loss - a 3-2 loss at Milwaukee tonight.

Bud Norris pitched five effective innings (though throwing 96 pitches), and the bullpen pitched three fairly ineffective ones for the loss. Let's do the thing:

Norris: 5IP, 3H/1ER, 8K:3BB, 15/21 first-pitch strikes, 27/61 non-contact strikes (21 called:6 swinging)
Byrdak: 0.1IP, 0/1 FPS, 0/1 NCS
Gervacio: 0.2IP, 2K, 1/2 FPS, 5/6 NCS (5s)
Fulchino: 1.1IP, 2H/1ER, 5/6 FPS, 5/15 NCS (4c:1s)
Wright: 0IP, 1H/1ER, 0/1 FPS, 2/3 NCS (2c)
LaHawk: 0.2IP, 1H, 1BB, 3/4 FPS, 1/7 NCS (1c)

Fulchino gave up his own run, but LaHawk gave up the run charged to Wright. The Astros had a 2-1 lead going into the 7th. Fulchino then came in, and promptly gave up a single to J.J. Hardy, who was sac'ed over to second by Jason Kendall. Hardy then made it to third on a passed ball by Towles, and when Felipe Lopez singled to center, Hardy scored. I've been wondering whether or not Hardy would have scored from second if Michael Bourn came up throwing, but regardless, that's a 2-2 game.

So in the 8th, Wesley Wright comes in to face Prince Fielder, who takes him for a double. LaHawk is brought in, and Casey McGehee singles to deep right to score Fielder. That's 3-2, and that's your final score.

The Astros, offensively, outhit the Brewers 8-7. Bourn and Pence had two hits each, with Matsui, Lee, Berkman (who homered), and Tejada getting the other four hits. Bourn stole his 58th base of the season - tying him for fourth all-time in Astros history with Cesar Cedeno, seven behind Gerald Young's francise record, set in 1988.

The Younguns are having a rough time of it. Chris Johnson was 0x2 with a walk and is now hitting .067 (1x15), and is hitless in his last 9ABs. J.R. Towles was 0x3, and is hitting .130.

Pitch Count Hero: J.R. Towles - 16 pitches in 3 PAs (0x3); Michael Bourn - 20 pitches in 4 PAs (2x4)

Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee - 10 pitches in 4 PAs (1x4)

Man of the Match: Michael Bourn. 2x4 with the SB (and a CS, but whatever...)

Goat of the Game: LaHawk. A hit and a walk in 0.2IP. Even though he didn't get charged with the loss, he sure did get Wright charged with it, and nothing slips by Astros County.

Bagwell receives Little League award

I'm one of those baseball fans who absolutely refuses to watch Little League baseball when it's the championships on ESPN/ABC. The championships of Little League baseball are approximately four years longer than the NBA and NHL playoffs. And there are eight kids on the field who are 5'1" and 95 pounds. Except for one kid, who has an Adam Morrison mustache, is 6'3" and 245. It reminds me too much of middle school gym class.

That said, this is pretty cool, in which I just found out (and if I'm behind, I apologize), that Jeff Bagwell was given the 2009 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award last month in Williamsport.

The award was established in 1987 to serve a two-fold purpose. First, and most importantly, the award is presented to a former Little Leaguer in Major League Baseball who best exemplifies the spirit of Little League. Consideration for selection includes both the individual’s ability and accomplishments and that person’s status as a positive role model.

Why Bagwell? Let's ask Stephen D. Keener, President and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball:

“Jeff Bagwell played the game for its enjoyment and he had the talent to make baseball his career. Now as a member of the Astros’ front office, he is engaged in player development and serves as a talent evaluator, while continuing he charitable endeavors...

...“For Mr. Bagwell, baseball has been a life-long ambition, and his drive to play the game at the highest level required personal commitment and fortitude that was learned while playing Little League. His transition from playing to teaching skills and mentoring young players has brought him full circle with the experiences and enthusiasm enjoyed during his Little League days. Jeff’s athletic prowess coupled with his desire to assist in the lives of children makes us are proud to honor him with this award.”

“I loved putting on my Little League uniform and going to play. As I got older, every time I put on my uniform it was exciting. When I talk to young players, I tell them, ‘If baseball is what you want to do, go practice, play hard, keep plugging away and don’t give up.’”

Valverde ready to go

Word from JJO that Valverde is in Milwaukee, and is ready to go.

"I'm here now. I feel a lot better, a lot better. Now I'll be able to pitch starting Friday. They didn't tell me what I had. They did a lot of analysis. They said I was fine. I feel a lot better. From Friday on I'll start playing and helping my teammates."

I checked the symptoms on WebMD, but no matter what your symptoms are, WebMD will tell you that you have Hepatitis Q, AIDS, or SARS. So no help there.

Elimination game tonight?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Cardinals are 14.5 up on the Astros, with 15 to play. So if the Cardinals win tonight against the Cubs, the Astros are done. Yes? No?

JJO drops Ponce de Leon on us

Jose de Jesus Ortiz drops some Spanish explorer knowledge on us, with Ed Wade the captain of the ship, heading to Florida, looking for youth.

And Wandy is the wizened veteran, talking to JJO, but apparently yelling loud enough for the young guys to hear:
"They just need to learn to locate and have patience and to study the hitters well. Remember, in 2007 and 2006 I'd lose games in one inning? I'd throw five good innings and lose it in one. But I learned to concentrate. You just have to learn it. People can tell you how to do it, but ultimately you have to learn it. These guys have great arms, and they'll learn.”

Let's stop here. With Roy popping off every so often, and becoming...shall we say, grizzled, is Wandy stepping up and assuming a leadership role in the clubhouse?

Ed Wade:
“We want to win as many games as we can. We want to finish on a high note, but at the same time try to take advantage of the opportunity to see Bud Norris and Paulino, Bazardo and some of the young position players, not to make definitive judgments on them but give them opportunities to get their feet wet and sort of experience what being in the big leagues is all about...

...“We're going to be younger. It's going to be necessitated by the economics. We're going to have to give every opportunity to the young players in our system to compete for jobs at the big league level, to win jobs out of spring training and begin to transition into a younger club.”

So, Eddie, is the left side set?

"Yeah, but that said we still have interest in exploring the possibility of bringing the veterans as well. You start talking about what Miguel and (Geoff) Blum have done for us, I don't think we can overstate the importance of their roles. We can't overstate what they've brought to our ballclub both off and on the field from the standpoint of talent, attitude, makeup, leadership, but again we're going to have to sit down when the season is over and continue to put pen to paper and see what's realistic and what isn't.”

What about Coop?

"I think we're always evaluated. As I've told you before, I don't get into those types of daily discourses on staff, whether it's front office or field staff. But we're always, all of us, are always in a position of having our successes and failures evaluated every day, both internally and externally.”

The starting pitching is pretty much set, but JJO drops a big If:
"If Oswalt can bounce back from the degenerative disk, he, Rodriguez, Norris and Brian Moehler could be the starters."

That's four. So unless they're winding back the clock to 1947, they'll need another one. What say you, Lance?

“It's hard to prognosticate for next year when you don't know what your personnel situation is going to be like. You don't know who's coming back or who's not. I think until you know from a personnel standpoint it's hard to say this is what's going to happen. The one thing I do like about our team next year is the fact that I think we're going to have Roy and Wandy and Bud and then Moehler. So I think we have four pretty solid starters that give you a chance to win, and that's where you have to start. That's the whole foundation of the team.”

So there's your "There's two weeks left, but we've checked out" story, and it's overdue. But who will be the captain? Ponce de Leon was killed by a poisoned arrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Seeing the 2010 Astros will cost not a penny more, not a penny less

The Astros announced that they are freezing season ticket prices for 2010. So I guess we know that payroll isn't going up.

Sadler shelved

In the Notes section, we read a number of things. Among those things:

Billy Sadler, whose call-up was dependent on him being healthy in September, has ironically been placed on the DL. Chad Paronto will make his way from the golf course to Milwaukee to replace him.

Sadler has right shoulder scapular dyskinesis, the same issue he had last month when the Astros signed him to a minor league contract and sent him to rehab with their Gulf Coast League team.
Alberto Arias' simulated inning didn't go so well. Said the "dejected Arias:"
“I didn't feel very good. The doctor will check me out again soon, and we'll see what happens.”
Hey, awkward moment with Tejada and Manzella tonight, as it's announced that Manzella will get at least one - maybe two - starts each series at shortstop. What do you think, Miggs?
“When I got to the big leagues, people helped me. That taught me that when a kid like Manzella came up I should help him and give him advice. He's a young player with talent to be in the big leagues and be the future shortstop of this team. My job is to help him if he's going to be my substitute for the future.”

Roy's back sucks

Latest word on Roy's back ain't good, and he's been shut down for the year.

"It just ain’t going away. I’ve pitched with it for (four) starts, and it’s just not getting any better. It’s just kind of lingering more and more. If we were in contention fighting for the playoffs, I would probably get up and just try to block it and ride it as long as I could. But I don’t want it to linger on for next year."

Easy Eddie and Roy got together. Ed told him what's what, and Roy agreed. Roy:
“We both decided it’d probably be best. If I skipped a start, you’re looking at two starts, just to make two starts. And right now I’m not able to throw between starts, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to just to try to come back and throw two starts. Especially with young guys down here, you’ll be able to see young guys go in my spot.”

“We can’t have Roy going and not really being himself and maybe causing the issues with his arm at some point. We can’t take a chance on that.”

Apparently, Coop has some knowledge - because that's exactly what happened. Roy has been feeling soreness in his shoulder and numbness in his leg.

“I could tell I was getting sore in different areas than I normally do. I’m scared that trying to protect my back I’m going to start throwing a little bit more (with pressure on the) arm. I don’t want it to go to my shoulder.”

What about surgery, there, Roy?
“One surgery they can do is something about a laser and something about heating the nerve and killing it. It’s 50-50. I really don’t want to lose feeling in my leg.”

Can't say I blame him.

Wade, on Roy's treatment:
“Talking to the back specialist over the week, it didn’t sound as if … it’s not a surgical back. There have been changes in his back that are creating this nerve issue that he’s going through now. And I guess the hope is that by doing the trunk-strengthening exercises he’ll be able to build that core strength up.”

See you in February, Roy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recap for G146 - Astros @ Reds

This couldn't have gone more poorly, no? The Astros were swept by the Reds, in what once was a home away from home, 5-4

Let's do the thing:

Bazardo: 5IP, 7H/4ER, 2K:2BB, 14/24 first-pitch strikes, 18/58 non-contact strikes (13 called:5 swinging)
Lopez: 1IP, 2H/1ER, 1K, 3/5 FPS, 6/16 NCS (3c:3s)
Wright: 0IP, 2H/1ER, 1/2 FPS, 1/4 NCS (1c), 1L
Fulchino: 2IP, 6K:1BB, 6/7 FPS, 17/20 NCS (8c:9s)

Dude. Fulchino? Lights out. 20 of his 31 pitches were for strikes, and 17 of those were non-contact strikes. He struck out all six batters he faced.

Once again, the Astros had the lead twice, and squandered it, twice. 1-6 in the lineup went 10x25, and hit five home runs in a game for the first time since Game 2 - and they lost both games. J.R. Towles got the start behind the plate, presumably to keep the Express connection alive. Keppinger was the champ, going 3x4 with two runs and two RBI. Pence rebounded with a 2x5 night, and the Rough Game award goes to Tommy Manzella, who in his first career start, went 0x3 with 3Ks. Kaz Matsui had another homer, his second in two games (the first time he's had homers in consecutive games since Aug 1-2, 2008 vs NY Mets, and the third time in his career).

Pitch Count Hero: Kaz and Pence - 23 pitches in 5 PAs

Pitch Count Punk: Tommy Manzella - 10 pitches in 3 PAs (0x3, 3Ks)

Man of the Match: Jeff Keppinger. Gets back at his old team with 2 HRs/RBIs and a 3x4 night.

Goat of the Game: I just can't bring myself to give it to Manzella, in his first start. So it goes to Wesley Wright - who retired nobody and took the loss.

Ed Wade anoints Bourn with oil

Jerry Crasnick's Starting 9 on the outfielders who have emerged in 2009. And with a great sigh of relief, Ed Wade says the following about Michael Bourn:

"He's been our most valuable player...Last year Michael put himself in a lot of tough situations. Word got around that he was trying to take pitches and be patient, and all of a sudden he was hitting in a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts. Now if somebody throws a fastball, he'll square it up and hit it somewhere -- preferably to the left side...He makes center field look awfully small. Sometimes it seems like he's covering it corner to corner, foul line to foul line."

Roy to get shut down?

McTaggart is tweeting that Roy could get shut down for the season, thanks to the complications with his back.

Coop (via Alyson Footer):
"We need to sit down with Roy and talk about it...we can't keep sending someone out there who's not 100 percent."

Coste "hopefully" will stay in Houston

Interesting article in the Grand Forks Herald about the only two players from North Dakota to get back-to-back hits in a Major League game: Darin Erstad and Chris Coste.

It's a good long article, but worth noting is Coste's reaction to 2009, and its effect on 2010:

"I know I still have it, but whether another team next year believes that, we’ll see. I’ll squeeze out a few more years, hopefully, but having said that, if I don’t pick it up a little this month, it could easily be my last year and not by my choice. But as long as the phone rings and somebody wants me and hopefully it’s Houston, I’ll always give it a try until my body says it’s time to go."

Manzella in the lineup for G146 - Astros @ Reds

Lineup, courtesy of Brian McTaggart:

Bourn CF
Matsui 2B
Pence RF
Lee LF
Blum 1B
Keppinger 3B
Towles C
Manzella SS
Bazardo P

Heyman/Agent/GM predictions on Valverde, Tejada

Jon Heyman got together with an unnamed agent, and an unnamed GM to put together some figures regarding the more prominent free agents and the price tag they'll command. Jose Valverde and Miguel Tejada qualify for this list. Here are the results:

-Jose Valverde
Heyman: 2 years/$16 million
GM: 3 years/$27 million
Agent: 3 years/$36 million

-Miguel Tejada
Heyman: 1 year/$10 million
GM: 2 years/$18 million
Agent: 2 years/$20 million (or 3/$30)

What say you?

Gaston falls three RBI short of $7,000

Albuquerque's Mitch Jones won the Joe Bauman Home Run Award, despite hitting the same number of home runs as our boy Jon Gaston.

How did that happen? Because, in the event of a tie, the nod goes to the player with the most RBI - and Mitch Jones finished with 103; Gaston, 100.

And it came down to the last at-bat, with Jones hitting his Gaston-tying homer in his last at-bat of the season.

The Astros are winning the games they should lose, and losing the games they should win

Not much to report in Astroland today, so I got curious, how are they performing against other teams? And what's the problem?

Alright, so here's what I found as far as winning percentage against teams above .500:

Los Angeles Dodgers: .571 (44-33)
Philadelphia: .537 (36-31)
Atlanta: .521 (38-35)
San Francisco: .521 (37-34)
Houston: .474 (37-41)
St. Louis: .472 (25-28)
Colorado: .459 (34-40)
Florida: .457 (32-38)
San Diego: .409 (38-55)
NY Mets: .394 (37-57)
Milwaukee: .386 (27-43)
Arizona: .369 (31-53)
Cincinnati: .369 (24-41)
Pittsburgh: .368 (25-43)
Chicago Cubs: .352 (19-35)
Washington: .268 (22-60)

Notice a few things here:
1. It's easy to see how the Dodgers are almost 30 games over .500 - they've won 44 out of 77 games against teams better than .500.
2. The Cardinals are so far ahead of anyone else in the NL Central because they're 60-33 against teams with records below .500. That's a pounding.
3. The Cardinals (53) and the Cubs (54) have played the fewest games against teams over .500. And the Cardinals are 6.5 games better against those teams than the Cubs. Even that up and the Cubs are only 2 games behind St. Louis.

The injuries, oh Lord, the injuries

The Chronicle's Notes column today is more like the church's sick list.

"It's just the middle of my back. It's either a spasm of some kind or a tweaked muscle. After (Monday's) game, I went to lift weights. Then I got the dumbbells, and I sat down on the bench to do dumbbell benches, and I had to have Doc (Gene) Coleman come get the weights from me. I couldn't move. It kind of just locked up on me."

Lance isn't expected back (ha) until Friday at the earliest.
Out until Friday, again, at the earliest, because of right shoulder problems. Erstad had a cortisone shot on his left shoulder a few days ago.
"I still don't feel good, but they haven't told me exactly what I have. I still have a fever, but it's not as bad as it was. I'll see if I can join the team in Cincinnati (today). If not, I'll go to Milwaukee (on Friday)."

He ran a fever as high as 101 on Monday.
"It's boring, very boring to be on the disabled list. Seeing situations in the game when you know you could help is tough. Now if I'm activated, the pitchers can get some rest."

He'll throw a simulated inning today in a test before becoming eligible to be activated on Friday.
Sadler, whose contract was dependent on him getting a September Call-Up if he was healthy, is now not healthy. He has shoulder capsulitis, and hasn't pitched since last Thursday.

Paul Janish's big night

Cy-Creek native/Rice grad Paul Janish had himself a big night last night, going 3x4 with three doubles.

In his short career (111 games, 318 plate appearances), Janish had only enjoyed a three-hit game once before, May 18, 2008 vs. Cleveland. He had only had multiple extra-base hits twice in his career - both this season - before last night, and he sure hasn't had three doubles before. In fact, before last night, he only had 14 doubles on the year.

So...thanks to the Astros' pitching staff, Janish has raised his batting average 12 points in these last two games, and 11 points last night alone. Glad we could help.

Recap for G145 - Astros @ Reds

This is getting pretty old. Roy gave up 6H/4ER - and gave up a leadoff homer to former unsigned pick Drew Stubbs - in a 5-4 loss to the Reds. He didn't take the loss, and got his 16th No Decision. Roy would need to win his final two starts to reach 10 wins on the season which, if he doesn't, would be the first time in his career he didn't get to double-digits. Let's do the thing:

Roy: 5IP, 6H/4ER, 3K:0BB, 13/21 First-pitch strikes, 21/53 non-contact strikes (15 called:6 swinging)
Brocail: 1IP, 2H, 4/4 FPS, 5/9 NCS (3c:2s)
Gervacio: 1IP, 1H/1ER, 2K:1BB, 1L, 2/6 FPS, 6/9 NCS (3c:3s)
LaHawk: 1IP, 1K, 2/3 FPS, 3/6 NCS (3c)

Gervacio took the loss, giving up his first run since August 18, and seeing his ERA bump from 0.68 to 1.26. His 18 pitches were the most he has needed to get through an inning since that 8/18 game, as well.

What's most irritating is how the Astros actually had a 3-0 lead before the Reds came to bat. Then they got two in the bottom of the first. Matsui hit a leadoff homer in the 3rd to make it 4-2, and though the runs were charged to Roy, Brocail gave up the hits for the final two runs in the bottom of the 6th. Paul Janish had an RBI double scoring the leadoff man Gervacio HBPed for the go-ahead run.

Hunter Pence had a rough night - (hint: foreshadowing) in the #3 spot, hitting in Berkman's place, who was out with a bad back. But he was the only position player who did not reach base.

Pitch Count Hero: Hunter Pence - 19 pitches in 4 PAs (0x4)

Pitch Count Punk: Geoff Blum - 9 pitches in 4 PAs (1x4)

Man of the Match: Kaz Matsui. 2x4 with 2RBI and his 6th homer of the year.

Goat of the Game: Hunter Pence. 0x4 with a strikeout and three groundouts. Didn't get the ball out of the infield.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How did Berkman hurt himself?

According to McTaggart, lifting weights after the game Monday.

Might I suggest the Wii Fit...?

Lineup for G145

So why would you make lemonade out of lemons, if you can bring forth goat piss?

Bourn CF
Matsui 2B
Pence RF
Lee LF
Tejada SS
Blum 1B
Keppinger 3B
Coste C
Roy P

The lineup will look a lot different tonight

Alyson Footer and Brian McTaggart are both tweeting that Berkman (back, hip) and Erstad (shoulder) are out for tonight's game.

Coop, on Berkman:
"He said he couldn't go."

2010 master schedule released

The Astros will open 2010 at home against the Giants, Richard Justice notes. What's on tap? 45 home games before the All-Star Break, 15 home games within the division. What else?

Home series:
Apr 5-7: San Francisco
Apr 9-11: Philadelphia
Apr 20-22: Florida
Apr 23-25: Pittsburgh
Apr 27-29: Cincinnati
May 3-6: Arizona
May 7-9: San Diego
May 19-20: Colorado
May 21-23: Tampa Bay
May 31-June 3: Washington (Memorial Day home game)
June 4-6: Chicago
June 18-20: Texas
June 22-24: San Francisco
July 6-8: Pittsburgh
July 9-11: St. Louis
Jul 23-25: Cincinnati
July 26-28: Chicago
July 30-Aug 1: Milwaukee
Aug 9-11: Atlanta
Aug 13-15: Pittsburgh
Aug 16-19: NY Mets
Aug 30-Sep 1: St. Louis
Sept 9-12: Los Angeles Dodgers
Sept 13-15: Milwaukee
Sept 17-19: Cincinnati
Oct 1-3: Chicago

Apr 12, 14-15: @St. Louis
Apr 16-18: @Chicago
May 12-14: @St. Louis
June 4-6: Chicago
July 9-11: St. Louis
July 19-21: @Chicago
July 26-28: Chicago
Aug 2-4: @St. Louis
Aug 30-Sep 1: St. Louis
Sep 6-8: @Chicago (Labor Day game)
Oct 1-3: Chicago

May 21-23: Tampa Bay
June 11-13: @NY Yankees
June 15-17: @Kansas City
June 18-20: Texas
June 25-27: @Texas

Homestretch (Sept games):
Aug 30-Sept 1: St. Louis
Sept 3-5: @Arizona
Sept 6-8: @Chicago
Sept 9-12: Los Angeles Dodgers
Sept 13-15: Milwaukee
Sept 17-19: Cincinnati
Sept 20-23: @Washington
Sept 24-26: @Pittsburgh
Sept 28-30: @Cincinnati
Oct 1-3: Chicago

Pretty favorable homestretch (if we're daydreaming about playing on October 5, 2010), in which 10 of the Astros' final 13 games are against the Nationals, Pirates, and Reds. What say you?

Tejada has "peaked"

And probably did so some time ago:

Christina Kahrl notes:

Tejada's days of MVP yore of well behind him, and at 35-years-old he isn't going to sneak up on anyone with another fantastic season. However, his .301/.331/.433 has been a surprise given a minuscule 3.1% walk rate; while Miggy has never walked, his frequency of free passes these past two years has been but a half of his career mark. Calling him a shell of his former self would be much too harsh as he is still proving to be productive, but do not expect anything more. A modest projection for 2010 would see Tejada hit .290/.325/.420 with 15 HR and below average defense, numbers solid enough to earn a paycheck but not nearly of enough quality to carry a team for stretches at a time or be relied upon as a real offensive threat."

How about some '09 splits?
April: .315/.351/.382, 0HR, 6K:4BB
May: .380/.400/.648, 5HR, 6K:2BB
June: .298/.330/.385, 1HR, 10K:3BB
July: .307/.336/.447, 3HR, 9K:4BB
August: .212/.239/.279, 1HR, 13K:2BB
Sept: .286/.327/.449, 1HR, 1K:3BB

Pre-ASG: .329/.357/.473, 7HR, 26K:10BB
Post-ASG: .256/.288/.367, 4HR, 19K:8BB

On the hook for 2010...

Just an idea of what the Astros are committed to in 2010, financially:

1B: Lance Berkman - $14.5 million
2B: Kaz Matsui - $5.5 million
LF: Carlos Lee - $19 million
SP: Roy Oswalt - $15 million
RP: Doug Brocail - $250,000 buyout
Total: $54.5 million

1st Year of Arbitration Eligibility
CF: Michael Bourn - $434,500 in 09
RF: Hunter Pence - $439,000 in 09
Bench: Jeff Keppinger - $427,500 in 09
RP: Chris Sampson - $449,000 in 09
Total: $1.75 million

2nd Year of Arbitration Eligibility
C: Humberto Quintero - $610,000 in 09
SP: Wandy Rodriguez - $2.65m in 09 ($50,000 bonus if he threw 180IP)
Total: $3.26 million

3rd Year of Arbitration Eligibility
RP: Geoff Geary - $1.7m in 09
RP: Tim Byrdak - $1m in 09
Total: $2.7 million

Cutting Tejada "tough, necessary"

So says Richard Justice:

Tejada is going to be the toughest decision the Astros make this off-season. I really, really wanted to dislike the guy because of his connection to performance-enhancing drugs and his lying to Congress and all the rest.

I just can't do it. He has been an absolute perfect teammate and leader. Any club that has Miguel Tejada is a lucky club...

... Numbers say allowing Tejada to leave isn't a tough call. He's 35 years old and declining both offensively and defensively.

His home run Saturday night was his first in 121 at-bats and just his 11th of the season. The Astros are a power-starved team. Only three NL teams have hit fewer. They're in the top five in home runs at only two positions — left field and right field. They're fourth at both spots.

Tejada is hitting .208 since August 12. Yet in terms of leadership and enthusiasm, in ways teammates are measured apart from their own production, the Astros don't have a better player.

Tejada might be the most popular man in their clubhouse and maybe the most respected. But the Astros are going to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year, and they're determined to begin the transition to a younger team.

A couple of things about this. If you don't have power, you need to have speed and defense to make up for it. Tejada doesn't have any of the three, so unless he's willing to play for $2-4 million, that's a different story. Chemistry may be overrated, but speed and defense is not.

Hampton out until 2011

Not that this has anything to do with Houston, because there was likely no scenario in which Hampton would be brought back, but Hampton underwent surgery to fix a partially torn rotator cuff and damage to his labrum. The surgery was successful, and Astros County wishes him luck in returning from this in 2011.

Who knows what we'll get from Roy?

Notes about a couple of injured players:

Roy: I said that there was no structural damage in an MRI on Roy's back on Friday. That's not totally accurate. He has disc degeneration and a slight bulge on his L5 vertebrae, but will still try to pitch.

“I'm (going to) pitch. I'm either going to go or not go. I've been pitching with this the last three starts. The last start I lasted two innings and I got shelled. I didn't feel any different.”
Valverde was sequestered from his teammates after contracting a virus that gave him a sore throat and a fever.

“I feel a little bit better. The medicine is working a bit. We'll wait to see how I feel (today). If I feel better, I'll go to Cincinnati (for the second game). If not we'll see what happens."

Ed Wade:
“He reported to the clubhouse feeling poorly (Sunday), was running a fever over 100 (degrees). (Trainer) Nate (Lucero) sequestered him and kept him away from the other players.”

Recap for G144 - Astros @ Reds

Terrible. Just awful. I watched the whole thing, and I never thought the Astros were going to win this game. As usual, I was right, and the Reds won 3-1. That pushes the Reds to 8-3 over the Astros so far this season. Wandy has now thrown three straight games in which he has given up two runs or less, and it's also the sixth straight start in which Wandy has struck out 6+ batters.

Let's just do the thing:
Wandy: 6IP, 5H/2ER, 8K:2BB, 12/24 first-pitch strikes, 35/68 non-contact strikes (20 called:15 swinging)
Gervacio: 0.1IP, 1K:1BB, 1/2 FPS, 3/4 NCS (1c:2s)
Wright: 0IP, 1H, 0/1 FPS, 0/1 NCS
Fulchino: 1.2IP, 1H/1ER, 2K:0BB, 7/17 NCS (2c:5s)

It's pretty disgusting that the pitching staff has to throw something better than a quality start to get a chance to win. But Jay Bruce came off the DL and hit a go-ahead two-run single for the winning margin. Brandon Phillips became the first Red ever to get 20 homers, 20 doubles, and 20 steals in three consecutive seasons.

The Astros had their chances, and were 1x7 with runners in scoring position (Tejada getting the lone RISP hit, but the Astros' one run came on a double from Carlos Lee in which Berkman hustled from first to give the Astros a fleeting lead. That, however, was the best I've seen Berkman run since his calf injury in July. But they did have a runner in scoring position in each of the first two innings, but predictably, did nothing. And that doesn't even count when Carlos Lee got picked off second base for no good reason.

Michael Bourn stole second in the first inning for his 55th stolen base, which is tops in the National League, and puts him two behind Carl Crawford and six behind Jacoby Ellsbury. The next closest to Bourn is Nyjer Morgan, with 42.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn - 20 pitches in 4 PAs (2x4); Wandy Rodriguez - 15 pitches in 3 PAs (0x3)

Pitch Count Punk: Humberto Quintero - 7 pitches in 3 PAs (0x3)

Man of the Match: I simply cannot give it to anyone on the offense, though Michael Bourn is certainly deserving. This one goes to Wandy, who is now 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA.

Goat of the Game: Kaz Matsui. Why is he still in the lineup? 0x3 with a sacrifice, but his OBP is now .297.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You don't follow on Twitter?

In the last hour, I've tweeted that:

-Carlos Lee has made his 14th WTF of the year
-Jim Cantore (yes, of the Weather Channel) should be the next Astros manager
-Five favorite bands of all-time (Pernice Brothers, U2, The Broken West, Spoon, Queens of the Stone Age - with Wilco and Jay-Z vying for spots)
-Kathy's catheters (FS Ohio commercial)

And more!

AC has 102 followers. I want more. Follow me at @astroscounty.

Update on Valverde

Well, it ain't strep throat, that's fo sho.

Instead, it's a viral issue.

Ed Wade:
"They're treating him, and he has some type of virus. Hopefully it will run its course and he will be able to get here [Tuesday]."

I don't know of many viruses (virii?) that run its course in 36 hours.

Lots to report on the Twitter front

As the Astros beat writers generally don't start tweeting until mid-afternoon, there's plenty to catch up on. Such as:

Yorman Bazardo will get the start on Wednesday.

Jose Valverde is not with the team, as he has strep throat. He could rejoin the Astros in Cincinnati tomorrow.

Roy Oswalt has Veteran Pitcher's Back (VPB), and an MRI didn't reveal any structural damage. He'll pitch to tolerance, whatever that means, and will start swimming to build up said tolerance. You ever seen country dudes swim? Hilarious.

Lineup for G144 - Astros @ Reds

And Manzella won't get a start today, either:

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

Matchup for G144 - Astros @ Reds

After going 8-19 in July, the Reds have gone 19-22 since, but come into this series having one just one of their last seven games (this is after winning 12 of the previous 14 games). Of course, the Reds are 7-3 against Houston this season.

Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy gets the ball tonight, and will set a career-high for IP tonight when he records his first out of the game, at 183IP. Since the fateful Milwaukee game (4IP, 10ER), Wandy is 2-2 with a 1.54 ERA, giving up six earned runs in 35IP. Only an Astros pitcher could lose two games with a 1.54 ERA.

Last three appearances:

8/30 @ARI67/47:38/9109/65
9/4 vPHI77/07:09/12111/82
9/9 vATL73/16:29/985/59

The question is how Wandy will respond after declining to come out for the 8th inning vs. Atlanta with shoulder fatigue. It's something to keep an eye on.

2009 road: 5-7 (15 starts), 85.2IP, 89H/39BB, 4.10 ERA/1.46 WHIP, 83K:36BB
2009 vs. Cincinnati: 2-1 (3 starts), 18IP, 17H/1ER, 0.50 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 18K:6BB

Important to note that Wandy had the outing with six unearned runs against Cincinnati, but didn't pitch all that well. Still, they're impressive stats.

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .253/.321/.405, 130K:50BB
vs Lefties: .182/.230/.259, 38K:9BB

When swinging at the first pitch (70): .314/.314/.500, 7XBH (3HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (397): .191/.227/.261, 122K:15BB
After First-Pitch Balls (282): .291/.406/.517, 46K:44BB

RISP: 33x138, .239/.321/.355, 31K:15BB
Runners on: 63x259, .243/.321/.344, 54K:26BB
2OwRISP: 16x69, .232/.346/.377, 17K:10BB

Bronson Arroyo

Arroyo has been absolutely dominating since the All-Star Break, throwing nine straight quality starts. Let's look at his Pre-ASG/Post-ASG splits:

Pre-ASG: 18 starts, 112IP, 125H/67ER, 59K:41BB, 5.38 ERA/1.48 WHIP, .287/.352/.484 against
Post-ASG: 11 starts, 78IP, 68H/21ER, 46K:21BB, 2.42 ERA/1.14 WHIP, .232/.289/.355 against

Last three appearances:

8/30 vLA7.16/23:212/12103/69
9/4 @ATL76/14:39/1399/64
9/9 @COL75/24:211/11100/65

2009 home: 6-6 (15 starts), 4.30 ERA/1.37 WHIP, 98.1IP, 51K:34BB
2009 vs. Houston: 2-0 (2 starts), 2.25 ERA/0.94 WHIP, 16IP, 5K:1BB

Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: .244/.311/.397, 67K:30BB
vs Lefties: .287/.344/.469, 38K:32BB

When swinging at the first pitch (96): .326/.333/.587, 10XBH (7HR)
After First-Pitch Strikes (388): .267/.298/.417, 75K:14BB
After First-Pitch Balls (328): .241/.360/.400, 30K:48BB

RISP: 39x162, .241/.323/.389, 24K:22BB
Runners on: 79x305, .259/.330/.413, 47K:32BB
2OwRISP: 23x81, .284/.396/.444, 13K:15BB

Levine on Paulino

Continuing a discussion we've been having this morning, Zach Levine chimed in with a quote from Paulino:

"I just need one role. Just give me the role, and I'll go pitch. It's really hard when you go to the games and you don't know what your role is. For me, it's more easy when you go to the games and they tell you 'hey Paulino, you're going to start the next six games, so just be ready.' It's going to be easy. Baseball now, you don't pitch with your body; you pitch with your mind. Now it's easier when you go pitch and you know you pitch every five days."

This kind of confirms the conversation between myself, Kevin, and Kelsey. Once Paulino knows he has a role, he can get the job done. Playing with his timing is like playing with his emotions.

Olney: Valverde an "overlooked star"

Buster Olney's Insider-Only blog runs down the overlooked stars this season. Only one of the 11 he listed is in the AL East. And Jose Valverde makes an appearance:

There are going to be a lot of relievers available this winter through free agency and through trade, but Valverde still has set himself up for a pretty good deal, given his level of dominance (when he's been healthy). The Houston closer has struck out 53 and walked 17 in 48 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .582 OPS. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 15 outings.

A Tale of Three Paulinos

In Felipe Paulino's last three starts, he is 0-3. However, his ERA is 2.65. In 17IP, he has a line of 14H/5ER, 20K:6BB, throwing 61% of his pitches for strikes, and an opposing batter line of .230/.299/.410. How is he 0-3? Because the Astros have scored a total of two runs in games he has started. In 14 starts this season, the Astros have scored zero/one runs in eight of those starts.

Let's take us a gander at what has changed in his three starting stints.

Paulino 1.0 (Apr 19-29): 0-2 (3 starts), 17.2IP, 19H/5ER, 13K:4BB, 2.55 ERA/1.30 WHIP, opp line of .288/.347/.348, 65% of pitches for strikes

Paulino 2.0 (May 12-Jul 3): 1-3 (7 starts), 32IP, 41H/27ER, 31K:8BB, 7.59 ERA/1.53 WHIP, opp line: .306/.345/.575, 64% strikes

Paulino 3.0 (Sep 2-13): 0-3 (3 starts), 17IP, 14H/5ER, 20K:6BB, 2.65 ERA/1.18 WHIP, opp line: .230/.299/.410, 61% strikes

Paulino has gotten 99 of his 282 pitches in round three for non-contact strikes (35%), getting 17 swinging strikes in two of his last three starts. So this is encouraging for Paulino as we head into 2010, but it's important to remember that he didn't throw in 2008, so precaution should be taken.


News for this week, as there are some questions about the rotation:

On Roy making his next start tomorrow, Coop:
“He's going to go on Tuesday. We'll have a backup plan, but that's the day he's going to go.

"I'll see if I can start Tuesday. I'll try."
And now the plan is to hold the starters back a little bit down the stretch, to protect them for 2010. Coop:
"It's the first time (Brian) Moehler's gone this far in a long, long time. He might hit the wall a little sooner. Roy is a little on the injured side, so you've got to watch him. You've got to watch Bud. And (Felipe) Paulino didn't pitch last year. So everybody gets monitored a little bit. I doubt anybody goes deep in the game unless they're at 70 pitches in the ninth inning or eighth inning."

Hang on, so the plan the whole year wasn't to let starters only pitch five innings?
And we may actually get to see Manzella start at short this week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fulchino to start Wednesday?

Lots of questions surrounding the Astros in 2010. I just didn't know they would start popping up so soon.

Alyson Footer is tweeting that Bud Norris's scheduled start is getting pushed to Friday, and she's hearing that Jeff Fulchino's name is in the mix for the Wednesday start.

I'm all for saving Norris' arm, and I've liked Fulchino's ability to throw 3+ innings throughout the year. Is he auditioning, too?

Tejada accused of stealing signs

After Miggs popped out in the 9th, he and Occasional Closer Matt Capps got into a shouting match, after which it was revealed that Capps thought/thinks he and Jose Cruz were stealing signs. Capps:

"Just compete," Capps told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the game. "You don't need to do any of that stuff. Those two have a thing going out there. I'm set, and he's not even looking at me. That tells me all I need to know."

When reached later by phone, Tejada denied any wrongdoing.

"I've never gotten signs," he told the Chronicle. "If he wants to disrespect me, that's fine. He shouldn't disrespect any coach."
Maybe it's organizational penance for being accused of tipping pitches in 2001. Equal and opposite reaction, and all...

Valverde out the door?

According to John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus, yep. He'll be looking for more than what the Astros will offer.

Wright willing to move to the rotation

So it appears that Wesley Wright is willing to give this rotation thing a shot, and will spend the off-season preparing for it:

“I definitely think I have the stuff to do it. It's just a matter of getting the experience. I need to show I can go five innings and face a lineup three times. I think it'll be good for me.”

He'll go to winter ball to work on a changeup to go with the fastball-slider-curve combination he already throws. He has a 5.20 ERA in 108 major league relief appearances the last two seasons.

“I think the main thing is I have to be patient with myself. I don't want to put crazy expectations on myself.”

I don't want to put crazy expectations on him, either. But he had better go more than five innings if he's facing a lineup 3+ times.

Baseball World Cup update

Round one of the IBAF World Cup has come to a close today. How are your Astros' representatives doing?

Jason Castro: 0x7, 2K
Jimmy Van Ostrand: 2x3, 1HR-2RBI, 1K

Want to buy Mike Hampton's house in Phoenix?

That depends on whether or not you have $6.2 million.

The 9,297-square-foot house in the Paradise Valley North neighborhood was built in 2006. Cathy Fassero of Choice Real Estate Group is the listing agent for the home.

And speaking of Tejada...

He may be mentally preparing to exit Houston.

"I love it here. The fans have been great. One thing I appreciate about this city is that with everything I’ve been through this season, they’ve been supportive. Even if I don’t come back next year, I’ll have this city in my mind...

..."I’m not really worried about it. That’s the business part of it. I would love to stay here. It’s a place I feel really comfortable, and I think I could win here. I think with the guys we have here and the young guys, we’re going to be OK. It doesn’t matter to me (where I play). I’ve played third in winter ball. If I’ve got to move to third, I’ll move to third. I just want to win."

I bet Chris Johnson gives the old White Boy Mad Laugh (the high, unintelligible, raving angry burst of chuckles) whenever Miggs talks about moving to his spot. I'll say this, I think we'll be seeing the last of Geoff Blum.

And about that Chris Johnson, he probably won't be getting any starts, because Coop is trying to keep his job. And finishing at or near .500 (the Astros need to go 11-9 to finish .500) will make it a lot tougher for Run-DMc to fire him. But Coop is shoving this on the fans:

"Home fans come to see their guys."

True, or false?