Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marlins coaching changes

Why does two Marlins' coaches declining to return have anything to do with the Astros?

Because, back on Sept 3 AC mentioned Bo Porter as a possibility for the next Astros' manager.

Strasburg vs. Astros

Washington's much-hyped 2010 SP3 Stephen Strasburg made his second career professional start today in the Florida Instructional League against Houston. I'm working on getting more info, but how did he do?

3IP, 2H/1ER, 6K:0BB

GCL Astros - Shortstops

Luis Bryan held down the fort at shortstop for the GCL Astros for 30 games, but we're also going to take a brief glance at Jan Baldee, who might just have had the most unfortunate minor-league season. Ever.

Luis Bryan
How did he get here?: Signed to a minor league contract prior to 2008 season
Stats: 6'2", 165 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 20

Season line: 31 games, 111 PAs. 36x106 - .340/.345/.491 - 10XBH-19RBI. 20K:0BB

vs. LHP (38ABs): .289/.325/.474, 6K:0BB, 3XBH-7RBI
vs. RHP (68ABs): .368/.357/.500, 14K:0BB, 7XBH-12RBI

Home (46ABs): .326/.333/.391, 10K:0BB, 3XBH-9RBI
Away (60ABs): .350/.355/.567, 10K:0BB, 7XBH-10RBI

Runners on (60ABs): .400/.397/.483, 9K:0BB, 4XBH-17RBI
w/RISP (41ABs): .366/.349/.463, 8K:0BB, 3XBH-17RBI

June (12ABs): .333/.385/.500, 2K:0BB, 2XBH-1RBI
July (82ABs): .329/.329/.488, 16K:0BB, 7XBH-17RBI
August (12ABs): .417/.417/.500, 2K:0BB, 1XBH-1RBI

K/PA rate: 18%
XBH/H rate: 27.7%
K:BB ratio: INF

All of Bryan's 30 games this season were at short, where he made 13 errors in 122 chances, for an .893 fielding percentage. This is, remarkably, an improvement over his 2007 season in the DSL, when he made 32 errors in 227 chances for an .859 fielding percentage.

Bryan was, by far, the GCL Astros' best hitter this season. But one thing that you probably noticed was that he went 111 ABs without a walk. That's tough to do, and he's going to need to be more patient in order to advance through the system. I would have a hard time believing that he wouldn't open 2010 in Greeneville, or Tri-City, given that he'll be 20 on April 1, 2010.

Jan Baldee
How did he get here?: Signed to a minor league contract (October 2007)
Stats: 6'2", 170 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 19

Season line: 18 games, 43PAs. 1x41 - .024/.070/.024 - 0XBH-0RBI. 24K:2BB

vs. LHP (10ABs): .000/.091/.000, 5K:1BB, 0XBH-0RBI
vs. RHP (31ABs): .032/.063/.032, 19K:0BB, 0XBH-0RBI

Home (21ABs): .048/.091/.048, 9K:1BB, 0XBH-0RBI
Away (20ABs): .000/.048/.000, 15K:1BB, 0XBH-0RBI

Runners on (19ABs): .000/.050/.000, 12K:1BB, 0XBH-0RBI
w/RISP (11ABs): .000/.000/.000, 8K:0BB, 0XBH-0RBI

July (9ABs): .000/.100/.000, 6K:0BB, 0XBH-0RBI
August (32ABs): .031/.061/.031, 18K:0BB, 0XBH-0RBI

K/PA rate: 55.8%
XBH/H rate: 0%
K:BB ratio: 12.0

Baldee was considered one of the top middle infield prospects in all of Europe, and is the second European prospect signed by the Astros. To be fair, this is his first season in the U.S., and it's going to take him some time to get adjusted. But this season was a train wreck. If the average BABIP is .300, keep in mind that Baldee's BABIP was .052. He struck out in over half of his plate appearances, and obviously had one single all season long.

The word on Baldee is he is a smooth defensive player. How true is that? In eight game at short, Baldee committed seven errors in 29 chances, for a .759 fielding percentage. In six games at second, he didn't commit an error in 21 chances. So let's call him a 2B. The conversion from short to 2B might prove to be a good one, as his "career" (it's hard to call 31 total games a "career") fielding percentage at short sits at .799.

Personally, it's easy to rail on a guy with an .024 average, but I wanted to cry doing this post. I really do hope he's back next year.

Houston cares not for your MLB playoffs

This is surprising to me. In a Dallas Morning News column this morning, Barry Horn reports that the DFW market ranked 54th out of 56 major markets for Thursday night's Division Series ratings.

Which major markets had fewer viewers? Tulsa, and Houston.

Justice: Manny Acta? Jim FreGOsi

About 12 hours after Manny Acta confirmed that he is one of the managerial candidates coming to interview, Richard Justice says Jim Fregosi is the man.

He's not the only competent person the Astros are going to interview. He has a longer résumé and probably is held in higher regard inside the game, but a case could be made for Manny Acta, Don Baylor, Bob Melvin, Ned Yost and others.

It's just that Fregosi brings so many things this franchise badly needs. First, there's his mere a presence, a calming presence, a confident presence. His oversized personality fills up a room and has the power to sweep others up and to make them believe good things are possible.

He brings something else the Astros desperately need. That's his professionalism, and more importantly, his intolerance of those who do not care as much as he does. If Lance Berkman doesn't run hard to first base or if Carlos Lee gets himself stupidly thrown out on the bases, they will hear about it.

“We need a guy that will get the best from our veteran players,” Drayton McLane said Friday. “We haven't been getting that.”

This is absolutely true. And while I think it's important to hire a manager who knows how to deal with veterans, I would also like to know that the veterans know how to be adults. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't, but if you watch Game 2 of the Cards/Dodgers series, James Loney ended up on second base on the Holliday error. Would Berkman or Lee have been in the same position?

The close:
My guess is Acta will be the next manager of the Astros, and he'll probably do a tremendous job. He has spent most of his professional career with the Astros and has a passion for the franchise that rivals anyone in the clubhouse or management.

But Jim Fregosi is worth a long look. He's what the Astros need in terms of credibility, confidence and leadership. Players need a guy who believes in them, and they need someone with the guts to hold them accountable. Fregosi isn't the only candidate capable of doing this, but none of the others would do it better.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Manny Acta's phone has been ringing...

McTaggart is tweeting that Manny Acta has been contacted by the Astros.

UPDATE: Richard Justice confirms:

Manny Acta tells Mark Berman he has been contacted by the Astros and is excited to be interviewing for the team's managerial opening.

"It is a very special organization to me. I spent 16 years of my baseball career over there. I owe them for shaping me into the baseball man that I'm today."

I guess those phone calls went well for somebody

McTaggart (the hardest working man in Astros baseball) is tweeting that the first managerial candidate will come in for an interview next Wednesday.

It's not me. Mine's Thursday.

And, courtesy McTaggart's blog, we see this:

After the candidate goes through the interview, he will sit down and meet with the media.

Wade got a positive response when he contact several candidates Friday.

"We made contact with quite a few of the prospective candidates and set interview times up for them," he said. "This is a very attractive opportunity, and everyone I talked to today was very excited and pleased."

Roster Cleaning

In order to prepare for the winter, the Astros have made some roster moves:

Astros remove Chad Paronto, Billy Sadler and German Duran from the 40-man roster in general roster housekeeping.

UPDATE: Billy Sadler and Chad Paronto are now free agents, and Duran has been reassigned to Round Rock.

Whatchu talkin' bout, Justice?

Richard Justice's blog post this morning:

Drayton McLane has said the Astros won't trade Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman unless they ask to be traded. His thinking is to reshape the club and to hope for improvement and maybe even respectability in 2010...

...Defensively, the Astros could be dramatically better in 2010. Tommy Manzella will make plays Miguel Tejada can't even think of making. He's not going to provide the same offense, but the Astros need to take a deep breath and focus on doing one part of the game really well...

...The Astros must improve the starting rotation. That's where Miguel Tejada's money ought to be going, and if push comes to shove, that's where bullpen money ought to go too. I just have a feeling Drayton is going to be feeling very charitable this winter and reward us with both a starting pitcher and a good bullpen...

... There's also another option. Why not trade Hunter Pence? I'm just not sure his value is very high, but it seems like an option worth exploing. Likewise, why not trade Wandy Rodriguez?

Wandy probably is the only guy on the roster outside of Lance Berkman that would bring a couple of premier prospects, possibly even a young starting pitcher. To replace Wandy with a young starter would free up money to spend on a pitcher, and that buys the club a year or two as the 2008 draft class moves toward the big leagues.

I just hope the Astros are discussing all possibilities. This club didn't become terrible overnight, and it's not going to be fixed overnight. Some of us would be happy about this off-season if the people in charge simply were honest with fans about the work that needs to be done.

Justice is right in that Carlos Lee might as well have a no-trade clause, and with the huge contracts given out to Roy and Lance, the team can't afford to be blown up and rebuilt. The Astros are already spending too much money. Rebuilding teams need a payroll around $60 million (or lower), and that's close to the money going to five players next year. They're in too deep to try to rebuild now.

That said, the $3 million given to Brian Moehler is a well-documented (in my opinion) short-sighted move. Ed's just trying to buy time and field a halfway competitive team until his guys make their way up the ladder. I just hope that, unlike in Philadelphia, he's around to see it happen.

Detective Mark Miller, on the case

Yahoo's Mark Miller has some deductive reasoning to drop on us.

Bob Brenly, whom you may have seen in the TBS broadcast booth over the last few days (Personally, I have the game on the tv on mute, and have ESPN radio doing the audio), is reported to have talked to Team X about their managerial position.

Is it Houston? Probably not, because Easy Eddie told us he wouldn't start contacting people until today.

Miller says Team X is most likely Washington. And the story in which he cites backs that up.

"I did have a conversation with (GM Mike Rizzo) when the Nationals were in Wrigley Field this year, and at that point it was way too premature. At that point he couldn't say exactly what they were going to do. I always enjoy talking to baseball people, and if I get an opportunity to go for interviews, sure (I will)."

In this post, Miller thrashes us:
Who wouldn't want to take over a team that ended up 17 games out of first and was only saved from being a last-place team by the existence of the Pittsburgh Pirates in its division?


GCL Astros - The Catchers

Three catchers got more than 50 ABs for the GCL Astros in 2009. Let's take a gander at them, shall we?

Ernesto Genoves
How did he get here?: Signed to a minor league contract, December 2007
Stats: 5'11", 203 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 19

Season line: 31 games, 117 PAs. 25x107 - .234/.291/.355 - 9XBH-13RBI. 23K:5BB

vs. LHP (38ABs): .263/.300/.368, 8K:2BB, 4XBH-6RBI
vs. RHP (69ABs): .217/.286/.348, 15K:3BB, 5XBH-7RBI

Home (45ABs): .200/.245/.333, 9K:2BB, 4XBH-8RBI
Away (62ABs): .258/.324/.371, 14K:3BB, 5XBH-5RBI

Runners on (49ABs): .306/.352/.510, 11K:2BB, 6XBH-13RBI
w/RISP (28ABs): .357/.387/.536, 7K:1BB, 3XBH-10RBI

June (12ABs): .250/.250/.250, 3K:0BB, 0XBH-2RBI
July (54ABs): .296/.371/.463, 6K:4BB, 6XBH-8RBI
August (41ABs): .146/.186/.244, 14K:1BB, 3XBH-3RBI

K/PA rate: 21%
XBH/H rate: 42.1%
K:BB ratio: 2.45

Genoves had a 24% throw-out rate this season, and allowed 16 passed balls in 31 games, and he had six errors for a .973 fielding percentage in 2009, converting to catcher from first base midway through 2008 in the Venezuelan Summer League.

Genoves was lights out in July, but must have used up his mojo, because he tanked it in August. It's important to keep in mind with all players at this level that we're dealing with small sample sizes and young players. So take it for what it's worth.

Jose Vargas
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent, April 2008
Stats: 6'1", 200 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 18

Season line: 25 games, 80 PAs. 16x69 - .232/.325/.362 - 5XBH-14RBI. 22K:7BB

vs. LHP (17ABs): .176/.286/.235, 6K:3BB, 1XBH-5RBI
vs. RHP (52ABs): .250/.339/.404, 16K:4BB, 4XBH-9RBI

Home (35ABs): .229/.333/.371, 11K:5BB, 3XBH-8RBI
Away (34ABs): .235/.316/.353, 11K:2BB, 2XBH-6RBI

Runners on (35ABs): .229/.333/.400, 7K:4BB, 2XBH-14RBI
w/RISP (24ABs): .208/.310/.458, 6K:3BB, 2XBH-14RBI

June (6ABs): .333/.500/.500, 1K:2BB, 1XBH-1RBI
July (27ABs): .185/.233/.222, 9K:1BB, 1XBH-2RBI
August (36ABs): .250/.357/.444, 12K:4BB, 3XBH-11RBI

K/PA rate: 27.5%
XBH/H rate: 31.3%
K:BB ratio: 3.14

Vargas caught 5 of 24 baserunners stealing (26%), but had three errors and allowed seven passed balls in 77 chances behind the plate.

He saw a steady improvement from July to August, and his K:BB ratio was better in August, as well. Vargas spent 2008 in the Dominican Summer League, posting similar numbers to 2009, though his slugging went up slightly (.278 to .362). And his OPS improved from .615 to .687 from 08 to 09.

Wilder Parra
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent (January 2008)
Stats: 6'0", 175 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 19

Season line: 21 games, 58 PAs. 10x55 - .182/.224/.255 - 4XBH-7RBI. 15K:2BB

vs. LHP (16ABs): .125/.176/.188, 5K:0BB, 1XBH-1RBI
vs. RHP (39ABs): .244/.244/.282, 10K:2BB, 3XBH-6RBI

Home (24ABs): .250/.250/.375, 8K:0BB, 3XBH-5RBI
Away (31ABs): .129/.206/.161, 7K:2BB, 1XBH-2RBI

Runners on (28ABs): .250/.250/.321, 6K:0BB, 2XBH-7RBI
w/RISP (20ABs): .250/.250/.350, 4K:0BB, 2XBH-7RBI

June (4ABs): .250/.250/.250, 3K:0BB, 0XBH-0RBI
July (33ABs): .242/.286/.333, 9K:2BB, 3XBH-6RBI
August (18ABs): .056/.105/.111, 3K:0BB, 1XBH-1RBI

K/PA rate: 25.8%
XBH/H rate: 40%
K:BB ratio: 7.50

Parra made five errors in 132 chances, with eight passed balls in 21 games for the GCL Astros. He caught four games in Lexington for a week in Lexington in August.

This is Parra's second year in the organization, having spent 2008 in the Venezuelan Summer League and posting a line of .234/.267/.306 with 27K:4BB. So he still hasn't learned to be selective at the plate, but this year was his first year in the States, so we'll cut him some slack. Add to that, you can't really tell too much about a player in 21 games in the Gulf Coast League. He did throw out 10 of 32 baserunners in 2008, but that dropped to 5 of 26 in 2009.

GCL Astros - Brandon Wilkerson

Next up is Arlington, Texas' own Brandon Wilkerson, who spent the majority of his time at third base for the GCL Astros...

Brandon Wilkerson
How did he get here?: Signed to a minor league contract, May 2009
Stats: 6'2", 170 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 21

Season line: 41 games, 128 PAs. 19x111 - .171/.268/.243 - 8XBH-6RBI. 27K:11BB

vs. LHP (36ABs): .194/.237/.306, 5K:2BB, 4XBH-3RBI
vs. RHP (75ABs): .160/.281/.213, 22K:9BB, 4XBH-3RBI

Home (56ABs): .161/.213/.196, 14K:3BB, 2XBH-6RBI
Away (55ABs): .182/.318/.291, 13K:8BB, 6XBH-0RBI

Runners on (44ABs): .114/.167/.136, 13K:3BB, 1XBH-6RBI
w/RISP (25ABs): .120/.207/.160, 7K:3BB, 1XBH-6RBI

June (9ABs): .000/.000/.000, 5K:0BB, 0XBH-0RBI
July (37ABs): .162/.279/.216, 8K:5BB, 2XBH-2RBI
August (65ABs): .200/.293/.292, 14K:6BB, 6XBH-4RBI

K/PA rate: 21%
XBH/H rate: 42.1%
K:BB ratio: 2.45

Wilkerson played 37 games at third and just three at shortstop. Regardless, in 124 total chances, he made 15 errors for a total FP of .879. Third base was a little more kind to him, as he made 13 errors in 113 chances for an .885 fielding percentage.

Wilkerson played independent ball, so this was his first season in an affiliated minor league. While his numbers weren't staggering, he did improve from July to August, but his defense...needs a little work.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I, for one, will be waiting by the phone

Contact with managerial candidates will begin tomorrow, with interviews to commence towards the middle of next week. (I guess that means Terry Francona won't be brought in until after...)

"We're going to start making contact shortly with potential candidates, either directly or go through the permission process. Hopefully, we'll get to the point to schedule interviews in the middle of next week. We'll try to do as many as we can here in Houston, and there may be some situations we have to travel, particularly if a guy is involved in postseason play."

Ten candidates, then?
"I would doubt in the first go-round [of interviews] there would be any more than that. If by some strange occurrence we don't hit our mark on that group, we can always expand it if a name pops up we hadn't anticipated. We can always move in a different direction. Realistically, we may contact some candidates and they'll not have an interest in the job. Right now, the plan is to contact around 10 and try to set schedules."

“I’ve been in Washington at a military conference, but we’ve talked about this on the phone a lot. Ed’s set the parameters, set a process and that's what we’ll do. I am really excited about this process. Several times I’ve been part of this, and this is by and large the most professional, organized and thought-through process that I’ve been a part of.”

I’m going to make contact to people on the list. As guys come in, a day in advance everybody is going to know who’s the candidate coming in. … I think it’s a very solid group. I think there’s a good experience in it. There’s a mix of what you would refer to as veterans along with young managerial candidates. I would be surprised if our selection is not somebody on our initial list. I think we’ve done a thorough investigation on our end and have come up with the right group of guys. My expectation is we’ll end up hiring somebody from this initial list...

...“In the initial round of interviews, the group will meet the baseball ops people. And the hope is to go to the first round with a group of about 10 and whittle that list down to a handful and then put Drayton into that group (of people sitting in on the interview). After we go through that second round, hopefully we’ll be at that point to make the right decision. We’ll try to lay it out in a thoughtful manner.”

And why wouldn't he, really?

Brian Moehler, perhaps realizing that the Astros were offering approximately $2.5 million more than 29 other teams, went ahead and exercised his half of the option for 2010.

Major Awards

As the lone Houston Astros representative of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and as bloggers don’t have a voice in voting on the major end-of-season awards, the BBA is holding their own voting. Below is my ballot for the major awards. Complain if you like.

National League Rookie of the Year
Chris Coghlan, Florida
Batting in the leadoff spot in 446 of his 504 ABs, Coghlan posted a line of .336/.397/.473 and a season total of .321/.390/.460 with 46 total extra-base hits. His .850 OPS was 22nd in the National League.

2. J.A. Happ, Philadelphia
3. Tommy Hanson, Atlanta

American League Rookie of the Year
Andrew Bailey, Oakland
The 25-year old Bailey was thrust into the closer role following the Huston Street/Matt Holliday trade, and he proceeded to put up 26 saves with a 1.84 ERA/0.88 WHIP. Striking out 91 batters in 83.1IP, Bailey only blew four saves all year, and allowed 2+ER in a game only three times, and only gave up two earned runs from July 31 until the end of the season (both earned coming in the same game, on September 5).

2. Rick Porcello, Detroit
3. Elvis Andrus, Texas

National League Manager of the Year
Jim Tracy, Colorado
It’s a song we’ve all heard before, and TBS won’t let us forget. How Tracy took a team that was 18-28 end up 92-70, win the Wild Card, and make a serious run at the Dodgers for the NL West title.

2. Fredi Gonzalez, Florida
3. Tony LaRussa, St. Louis

American League Manager of the Year
Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota
Yes, Mike Scioscia’s Angels had to overcome a whole lot of adversity at the beginning of the year, and I’m happy they’re in the playoffs. Yes, Joe Girardi won 103 games. But with a payroll of $8.4 billion (approximately), they should have done that well. Ron Gardenhire took a team that was without Justin Morneau for the final few weeks of the season, made up seven games from September 6 to take the AL Central from the Tigers, which looked to be a vastly superior team. The Twins might get it handed to them by the Yankees, but Gardenhire deserves this award.

2. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3. Ron Washington, Texas Rangers of Texas

National League Cy Young Award
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
No, it’s not because I’m an Astros fan and won’t give it to a Cardinal. Tim Lincecum finished in the Top Five in Wins (4th), Strikeouts (1st), WHIP (4th), Complete Games (1st), Innings Pitched (3rd), ERA (2nd), and Win% (5th). Three of his losses came in quality starts, and in seven of his quality starts he received a No Decision.

2. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
3. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis

American League Cy Young Award
Zack Greinke, Kansas City
Child, please. Greinke had the best ERA and WHIP in the American League, and won 16 of his team’s 65 games. Righties only hit .211 off of him. He got a no decision in eight quality starts, and in four of those starts he allowed 0 or 1 run. If the Royals can score two runs for him in those games, he finishes 20-8.

2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle
3. C.C. Sabathia, New York

National League MVP
Albert Pujols, St. Louis
This is a no-brainer. Prince Albert had the NL-Best in homers, SLG (exactly 50% of his 186 hits were for extra-bases), OBP, OPS, and runs. His Triple Crown run came up short, but he did finish in the Top 3 in BA and RBI, as well. Pujols also only struck out 64 times all season. He’ll be the 2nd $300 million man, but will actually be the first to deserve it.

2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida
3. Chase Utley, Philadelphia
4. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego
5. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
6. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
7. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
8. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia
9. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
10. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles

American League MVP
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
I wanted to go against everyone else and give it to Jeter, but I just couldn’t ignore that Mauer hit .365 over 138 games and had the top BA, OBP, SLG (and, obviously, OPS) in the American League. Like Pujols, Mauer had an upside-down K:BB ratio (63K:76BB), and hit .376 in August and September.

2. Derek Jeter, New York
3. Kendry Morales, Los Angeles
4. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
5. Mark Teixeira, New York
6. Kevin Youkilis, Boston
7. Adam Lind, Toronto
8. Chone Figgins, Los Angeles
9. Jason Bay, Boston
10. Zack Greinke, Kansas City

Visit Astros County and follow us on Twitter

GCL Astros - Enrique Hernandez

With 225 plate appearances, Enrique Hernandez is the most seasoned veteran of all the GCL Astros.

Enrique Hernandez
How did he get here?: Drafted, 6th round (2009)
Stats: 5'11", 170 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 18

Season line: 53 games, 225 PAs. 61x207 - .295/.336/.396 - 16XBH-27RBI. 28K:10BB

vs. LHP (62ABs): .290/.338/.306, 8K:3BB, 1XBH-8RBI
vs. RHP (145ABs): .297/.335/.434, 20K:7BB, 15XBH-19RBI

Home (104ABs): .288/.336/.385, 16K:5BB, 6XBH-11RBI
Away (103Bs): .301/.336/.408, 12K:5BB, 10XBH-16RBI

Runners on (96ABs): .302/.343/.385, 13K:5BB, 6XBH-26RBI
w/RISP (55ABs): .327/.361/.436, 6K:3BB, 4XBH-25RBI

June (18ABs): .333/.429/.333, 4K:2BB, 0XBH-1RBI
July (99ABs): .313/.337/.434, 11K:3BB, 9XBH-19RBI
August (90ABs): .267/.316/.367, 13K:5BB, 7XBH-7RBI

K/PA rate: 12.4%
XBH/H rate: 26.2%
K:BB ratio: 2.8

Hernandez started 25 games at short, but 31 games at second base. Shortstop proved to be a smidge difficult, as he made nine errors in 84 chances for an .893 fielding percentage, while at second, he made seven errors in 144 chances for a much higher .951 FP.

Hernandez led the team in PAs, Runs, Hits, Doubles, and RBI, and was pretty easily the team MVP this season. His lefty/righty splits are encouraging, as are his numbers with runners on base. Hernandez really only saw an offensive dropoff in the month of August, towards the end of his first professional season.

Astros interest in Rudy Jaramillo?

Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan drops a little line in his mailbag on the future of Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo:

The Rangers have asked Jaramillo to return as hitting coach. He is unsigned for next year, though, and a contract still has to be worked out. If a new contract hasn't been finished by Oct. 31, Jaramillo is free to speak with other clubs. The Chicago Cubs have fired hitting coach Von Joshua and Jaramillo would be high on their list. The Rays have also dismissed their hitting coach. The Astros are another team that could have interest in Jaramillo.

This is pure speculation on his part (or he would have cited it. He's no Ringolsby.), but if the Astros are interested in a hitting coach with a big-time track record, Jaramillo would be the guy.

McIlvoy's interview with Wade

Captip to Street for the link to an interview with Ed Wade from Tuesday. Some nuggets (and this is all "sic"'ed:

On Dave Clark:
Dave did a fine job. I thought from standpoint of communication and fitting in with group, he did very good work for us. He's a solid candidate going forward.

How many candidates are there?:
I have 3 pages of names, we'll whittle it down to under 10. Guys don't eliminate themselves. Case of us doing our homework and looking at a body of work and to see if he fits the profile of our personalities here.

On Jason Castro:
Castro- would be great if he's ready for opening day we'll probably plan that he's not and be surprised if he is. There are guys knocking on the door that will get opportunities when they get to spring training to show they are ready to perform at this level right away.

On why Manzella/Johnson didn't get an extra-inning game's worth of ABs:
We have interest in Blum and Miggy about coming back, if we shoved them off to get kids a few at bats it sends the wrong message and doesn't pay proper respect. We're not going to make decisions on young guys based on Sept. It was good for them to soak in atmosphere and understanding what environment is all about.

What happens now?:
Get good and stay good. Scouting development has to prevail in process. Will there be rough spots? sure there will be. As we get away from '09 and focus on 2010, we'll work like crazy to get this club straightened out to get off to better start early in season and put pressure on . If we can get on to a good start, the momentum will build, put the pedal to metal and see what happens.

I don't know if Ed was texting his answers, or was all Cabrera-ed, but these were some good answers.

Bourn's OPS increase 8th best

Zach Levine has an interesting blog post on Michael Bourn's improvement from 2008 to 2009:

From the standpoint of sheer increase in OPS, he was one of the best. There were 199 players in baseball who had at least 324 plate appearances (two per game) in both 2008 and 2009, and of those, Bourn had the eighth highest increase in OPS.

In raising his OPS from .588 to .738, that's an increase in .150 points. Not just is that 8th best in the Majors, it's 3rd-highest in the NL, behind Troy Tulowitzki (who led the Majors with a +196, and Carlos Ruiz with a +160.)

Garner: No matter how long the contract you sign, it's a three-year deal

Having been through this before, Phil Garner offers some nuggets for anyone even thinking of wanting to manage a team under Drayton.

“Find out what the owner's and general manager's expectations are. And then look at the team and see if you can meet the expectations...

...“It's a great organization. It has a great name. (Managerial candidates) might overlook some things because it's a great organization. It's hard (to) because you have to make an honest assessment. You want to be upbeat about the team. You want to believe and you want a GM on a team to know you're upbeat.

And managers basically have three years to impress Drayton:
...“In this town, a new manager gets a first-year honeymoon period. The second year is a bit harder. Then the third is make-or-break, but that's been Drayton's modus operandi. Everybody knows that.”

So what was wrong with the 09 Astros?
“I don't know this team. I saw several games, but I don't really know this team. Strictly speaking as a fan, I felt the weakness was the pitching.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

GCL Astros - First Basemen

This is the first of what will be many posts breaking down Eddie's Farm, player by player (a couple a day, I suppose), in 2009. First up, the first basemen of the Gulf Coast League Astros. Note, at this level we'll consider players with 75 plate appearances.

Ronald Sanchez
How did he get here?: Drafted, 16th round (2009)
Stats: 5'10", 180 lbs, Bats: Left; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 18

Season line: 43 games, 164 PAs. 29x138 - .210/.327/.246 - 5XBH-16RBI. 33K:18BB

vs. LHP (45ABs): .111/.231/.111, 11K:5BB, 0XBH-5RBI
vs. RHP (93ABs): .258/.373/.312, 22K:13BB, 5XBH-11RBI

Home (50ABs): .160/.288/.180, 14K:7BB, 1XBH-7RBI
Away (88ABs): .239/.350/.284, 19K:11BB, 4XBH-9RBI

Day (127ABs): .220/.327/.263, 30K:14BB, 5XBH-14RBI
Night (11ABs): .091/.333/.091, 3K:4BB, 0XBH-2RBI

Runners on (72ABs): .222/.317/.236, 12K:6BB, 1XBH-16RBI
w/RISP (49ABs): .265/.390/.286, 7K:6BB, 1XBH-16RBI

June (20ABs): .250/.318/.350, 8K:2BB, 2XBH-3RBI
July (66ABs): .242/.398/.258, 11K:4BB, 1XBH-10RBI
August (52ABs): .154/.228/.192, 21K:12BB, 2XBH-3RBI

K/PA rate: 20.1%
XBH/H rate: 17.2%
K:BB ratio: 1.83

Lefties obviously gave Sanchez fits, but July was obviously the high-water mark of Sanchez' short season, hitting .242/.398/.258 before a significant drop off in all offensive lines, and an increase in strikeouts. His K/AB rate jumped from 16.7% in July to 40.4% in August (again, numbers are skewed with such a limited sample size.

Defensively, Sanchez ended 2009 with a .982 fielding percentage, committing six errors in 323 chances.

Kody Hinze
How did he get here?: Undrafted Free Agent
Stats: 6'0", 225 lbs, Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 22

Season line: 32 games, 128 PAs. 21x103 - .262/.391/.398 - 10XBH-14RBI. 26K:19BB

vs. LHP (31ABs): .258/.395/.387, 10K:5BB, 3XBH-2RBI
vs. RHP (72ABs): .264/.389/.403, 16K:14BB, 7XBH-12RBI

Home (49ABs): .224/.400/.306, 13K:12BB, 3XBH-4RBI
Away (54ABs): .296/.381/.481, 13K:7BB, 7XBH-12RBI

Day (101ABs): .257/.379/.376, 25K:17BB, 9XBH-12RBI
Night (2ABs): .500/.750/1.500, 1K:2BB, 1XBH-2RBI

Runners on (48ABs): .208/.322/.375, 13K:7BB, 5XBH-14RBI
w/RISP (40ABs): .175/.286/.300, 11K:6BB, 4XBH-12RBI

July (54ABs): .241/.295/.426, 13K:5BB, 7XBH-9RBI
August (49ABs): .286/.478/.367, 13K:14BB, 3XBH-5RBI

K/PA rate: 20.3%
XBH/H rate: 47.6%
K:BB ratio: 1.37

Hinze had a rough go of it in the early season, regressing a bit and getting sent down from Lexington after hitting .175/.267/.363 in 90 plate appearances. He was much better on the road in 09, and had noticeably better stats in August than in July.

11 of his 31 starts came as a DH, but in his 20 starts at first base, Hinze made two errors in 79 chances for a .990 fielding percentage.

This is the second year in the Astros' organization, spending 55 games in Greeneville in 2008 and hitting .269/.374/.457. The 22-year old should find himself back up in the higher levels of A-ball come 2010.

Scratch Hal Lanier off your managerial short list

Former Houston manager and 1986 NL Manager of the Year Hal Lanier has been named the manager of the Normal (IL) CornBelters of the independent Frontier League.

McTaggart's managerial short list

McTaggart's new new blog post has his short list of eight managerial candidates.

Here they are, with a blurb.

Dave Clark:
Clark could be a terrific manager, but he may not get the opportunity here. Or he might. But I still envision him as a long shot to get the job on a full-time basis.

Ned Yost:
Helped the Brewers return to contender during his a managerial stint in Milwaukee that began in 2003 and ended in the final days of the 2008 season.

Willie Randolph:
Has gone on record and expressed an interest in the job. He was Yankees base and bench coach for 11 years and took over as manager of the Mets in 2005 in his first-ever managerial job.

Jim Fregosi:
He interviewed in 2001 before the Astros hired Jimy Williams and he has deep ties to Ed Wade.

Lloyd McClendon:
The hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers is now available after his team was bounced by Minnesota in a one-game playoff Tuesday.

Manny Acta:
A popular figure in the Astros organizations from his years as a player and a coach in the system, he managed the Washington Nationals for 2 1/2 years.

Eric Wedge:
The 2007 American League Manager of the Year, Wedge is close friends with Jeff Bagwell.


FanGraphs, on Felipe Paulino

And he should be SP5 next year.

He doesn’t always have full command over his pitches and he’s yet to develop a worthwhile third pitch, but the guy has the raw talent. In a little under 100 innings Paulino is walking 6% of the batters he faces while striking out nearly 21%...

...Grumbling about whether Paulino is a future reliever will likely magnify with his large ERA, but I’m unconvinced that a transition should be made prior to next season. Allow Paulino a full season of pitching before writing him off as extremely hittable and incapable of starting in the majors. I mean heck, this same organization gave Brandon Backe 70 starts over the last four years to prove he didn’t belong in the league, and he didn’t have the upside of Paulino.

Trade Rumors' Astros off-season outlook

A run down of financial obligations, with arbitration raises, Tim Dierkes puts the final payroll around $80 million, leaving $10 million-ish to play with.

If contending in 2010 is the plan, the Astros need to upgrade the left side of their infield. Tejada could return and play third base, but he'd presumably want at least $7-8MM a year. The third base market has other interesting names such as Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Chone Figgins, Troy Glaus, and Juan Uribe...

...This is an unfortunate time for the Astros to be cutting payroll, because they could contend with the right free agent additions.

The Astros and "wasted outs"

Insider-only article on ESPN today discusses "Wasted Outs," in which a team does something stupid like, (a) Sac bunts, (b) GIDPs, (c) Caught Stealing, and (d) making errors.

The article discusses which of the playoff teams waste the most outs in a reaction to Theo Epstein's charge that J.D. Drew's offensive stats don't matter so much, because he doesn't make any outs.

Let's run the numbers the way the article does, and then compare the Astros to the rest of the National League.

GIDP: 153 (Tejada led the team with 29, Pence had 25, and Lee had 21)
Sac Bunts: 66 (Matsui led the team with 16)
Caught Stealing: 44 (Bourn and Pence combined for 23)
Errors: 78

So that's a total of 341 wasted outs by the Astros in 2009.

Let's get a look at the National League in Wasted Outs (playoff teams in bold, worst offenders in italics)

TeamGIDPsSac BuntsCSErrorsTotal

The article is quick to point out that "saving outs" doesn't translate into winning. There are two division cellar-dwellers in the top four among Wasted Outs. But it is worth noting that the more "disappointing" teams are at the top of the list, and of course, the Astros had the League-worst in GIDP.

Justice: Bring back Blum and Erstad, too

I can't handle it. This is too much. First, championing Moehler's return, and then being in favor of bringing back Blum and Erstad, because they're good at chemistry. (I guess the unspoken implication is that Roy and Lance aren't so good at clubhouse chemistry).

The Astros picked up his $3-million option for 2010 on Tuesday, and it's the right thing to do. In 2007-2008, he was healthy and a very decent back-of-the-rotation starter, going 12-12 with a 4.42 ERA in 26 starts. He didn't get deep enough into games in 2007, but turned in nine quality starts and a 4.56 ERA in 2008...

...Part of what the Astros hope to build for 2010 is a club constructed around pitching, defense and the right clubhouse chemistry. Hiring the right manager is huge beyond words...

...But it's also important to have the right mix of veterans. That means Geoff Blum, Brian Moehler and maybe even Darin Erstad. I'm not sure how much Erstad has in the tank, but if the people in charge think he can produce, he certainly adds something in the clubhouse...

... Now about that rotation. Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and Brian Moehler appear to have four of the five sports locked up. In a perfect world, the Astros would be able to count on one more young guy coming through. At the moment, though, there's not a guy you could point to and feel good about his production. The Astros seem likely to attempt to re-sign Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins, but let's hope Drayton McLane is feeling real generous this off-season and will give Ed and Tal enough sawbucks for one starting pitcher...

...One pitcher would dramatically change the shape of the club.

If the Astros don't trust the development of their pitchers, then it's time to make some coaching/instructional changes. They're asking Wesley Wright to become a starter. For Bazardo and Lopez, this was their first taste of Major League action. They didn't come out and go all Porcello on the league, but who's expecting them to? Paulino is still figuring his stuff out, and with an off-season to recap and prepare, two of them ought to be able to replace a Brian Moehler and a Mike Hampton. And if Ed signs Carl Pavano or Brett Myers, I seriously might commit a crime.

New Poll

Wade and Moehler comment

So we get some feedback as, once again, outdoes the Chronicle.

Moehler, on his signing:
"I like it here, obviously. I like the direction it's going. Obviously, we didn't finish as strong as we would have liked, but the pieces are in place for us to have a good year, and I'd like to be part of it."

Wade, on Moehler:
"He's given us a solid, workmanlike effort both seasons I've been here. If you take away the bullpen appearances he had last year, his ERA was in the low fours. This year, take away the two starts before he went on the DL with a knee, everything since then -- although it might have gone up at the end -- was in the low four[s] as well. He goes out there and keeps you in games. He's one of those guys you have to see every five days and see what he does for the club. He has a tremendous work ethic and attitude, and that work ethic rubs off on other guys. It was a fairly apparent decision to make, and we wanted to wait until after he had the knee cleaned up to make sure everything went all right with that."

Is that true?

Subtracting Moehler's first two starts of the year, he was 8-10 with a 4.90 ERA/1.47 WHIP. Batters hit .285/.341/.474.

Let's take his last two starts of the year out, as well (and this is a pretty generous statistical evaluation, akin to saying, "Let's discount how he started and finished."):
8-8, 4.25 ERA/1.555 WHIP, and batters hit .277/.332/.458.

There's not a way really to spin this that makes the numbers come up with $3 million (as opposed to a $250,000 buyout) look like a good decision.

Everything's up for grabs. Except the outfield.

JJO's article this morning deals with some of the positional question marks the Astros are facing as they head into the off-season. But there aren't any question marks in the outfield, due to youth and talent, and a bloated contract.

The contact process will likely begin this weekend for the manager search, and what remains of the infield is...bad. We do get an interesting quote from "One Club Official" on Berkman and his level of play since the 2008 All-Star Break. The quote, with a lead-in from JJO:
Moreover, some in the Astros' front office have privately complained that Berkman has received a free pass for his play on offense and defense.

“If he had been playing in any other city, you guys would have ripped his (behind),”

Behind the plate, Wade says:
“With Towles and Quintero, I think we have two guys that can go back there and buy us some time until Castro is ready. We'll look at the catching market to see what is there.”
And the rotation? Roy is the key:
“I think we're a better rotation than people give us credit for. But a lot of it is going to depend on where Roy is health-wise. We got to hope that he stays dedicated to the exercise program that's been prescribed and he does everything he can to make sure that his back isn't an issue.”

Has the depression subsided? No.

I thought maybe some sleep would help. I thought that a little bit of rest would change the fact that the Astros Offseason of Change and Hope lasted about 56 hours. But it didn't. The Astros have indeed picked up Moehler's option.

“We informed Moehler today that we want to pick up his option,” Ed Wade said. “He has the right to decline. We’re optimistic that Brian is going to be back with us next year.”

Here were Wade's options:
1) Pay Moehler $250,000 to find another job next season and open up the rotation to younger, cheaper pitchers
2) Pick up his option, pay him the $3 million, and go into the offseason with a rotation of Roy, Wandy, Norris, and Moehler.

Oh yes (/drippingsarcasm), this was the best decision.

In 2009, Moehler posted an 8-12 record with a 5.47 ERA. In 154.2IP, Moehler gave up 21 home runs, struck out just 91 batters, and walked 51. Batters hit .300 against Moehler in 2009, when the league average was .263. His 1.54 was higher than the 1.39 league average, though he was unluckier than most as the BABIP for the league was .303, and Moehler's was a stacked .325.

Still, FanGraphs put Moehler's value at $4.1 million this year, approximately $1.6 million higher than his salary.

Yet I remain ridiculously angry about this. Was Moehler dealing with a knee injury all year long? Probably. Was he doing the Astros any favors by continuing to pitch? Not really. He put together the most underwhelming series of quality starts that I can remember, rarely made it out of the 6th (He was pulled before the end of the 6th in 15 of 29 starts). He also had eight Disaster Starts, compared to 11 Quality Starts, and his line in September? 6GS, 0-3, 6.37 ERA/1.65 WHIP, 14K:12BB, .303/.366/.508 against.

Where could that $3 million have gone? Anywhere else. LaHawk. Arbitration raises for Bourn or Pence. Can all this be attributed to a bum knee that was fixed yesterday? Maybe. But in an off-season where Ed and Drayton promised to get younger and cheaper, the first chance they had to hold up their end just went right out the window, and on a team where payroll is expected to be "slashed," giving $3 million to Brian Moehler looks like a poor decision.

The mutual option says that Moehler can decline the option and become a free agent, but why would he?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

So I guess there is just one SP spot now

All that talk about getting younger and cheaper just got chucked out the window as the Astros exercised Brian Moehler's $3mil option for 2010 (tweets Brian McTaggart).

What will $3mil get you? Seven young, league-minimum pitchers. Or a 38-year old pitcher with bad knees and a fat ERA.

I need to sleep this off. More in the morning.

Chacon released from jail. Take Ed to the Secure Bunker.

Shawn Chacon has been released and will not be extradited to Las Vegas. This would have been one of the first instances in which someone was extradited to Las Vegas, and not extradited from Las Vegas.

Justice: Easy Eddie has a good track record with this manager thing

Justice's blog post this morning has some thoughts about the manager search:

If I had a guess, I'd guess that Dave Clark isn't going to be the manager when the Astros go to Kissimmee in February. Nor will Tim Bogar be the man. Or Ted Simmons or Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio.

I'm guessing the Astros are going to hire someone with big league managerial experience. Had the Marlins fired Fredi Gonzalez, he almost certainly would have been interviewed. Bob Melvin and Manny Acta would be excellent choices. Ned Yost and Eric Wedge are out there as well.

GM Ed Wade has a great record at hiring managers. His first hire for the Phillies was Terry Francona, his second Charlie Manuel. Not too many general managers have hired two managers that went on to win the World Series.

Bud was robbed!

Casey McGehee was named the NL Rookie of the Month in September.

Not Chris Coghlan (.382, 6 RBI, 47 H, 10 2B/2 3B)
Not Bud Norris (3-0, 1.57 ERA, 23.0IP, 24K:6BB)

Casey McGehee. Who hit .331 with five homers and 26 RBI.

Okay, the 26 RBI is impressive...

Full Accountability

Back on April 5 I listed my own predictions for how the season would turn out. How did I do?

Well, here's what I predicted:
Cubs: 92-70
Reds: 87-75
Cardinals: 84-78
Astros: 81-81
Brewers: 79-83
Pirates: 60-102

NL East: Mets
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Giants

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Angels
AL Wild Card: Rays

WS: Red Sox def Cubs in seven games - the best WS since 2001, and Astros County rejoices.

Obviously, this didn't go so well. I was correct about the Dodgers, and the Wild Card coming from the NL West. I was also correct about the Angels. I was woefully wrong about the Indians, and I didn't even have the 103-win Yankees in the playoffs. I also picked the Cubs to make it to the World Series. That one I'm not so broken up about.

Final Stats - 2009 June Draft

So let's do a recap of the 2009 draft class with the final stats (this is a lead-in to a series on the Minor Leaguers). In bold are the draft class leaders at each statistical category.

We'll start with the pitchers, organized by round (the record isn't very important, but I still threw it in there):

T. Bushue (2)GCL1-022.12.42/1.0319:5
BJ Hyatt (4)GRV1-219.18.84/2.1715:12
D. Keuchel (7)TRI2-356.22.70/1.0844:9
B. Walker (8)TRI1-7507.92/1.9039:36
D. Berner (14)TRI0-1610.50/2.674:5
J. Harper (17)TRI0-169.00/2.173:8
JB MacDonald (18)TRI8sv322.53/1.3429:10
M. Jones (22)GCL1-221.24.57/1.8513:13
R. Donovan (23)TRI2-533.23.74/1.5228:21
M. Modica (24)TRI0-3312.61/1.4219:13
T. Smink (31)GRV1-129.16.14/1.6414:7
B. Stines (33)TRI3-038.14.93/1.5923:17
S. Migl (34)GRV/TRI0-028.16.35/1.8024:21
R. Rivera (37)GCL0-2156.60/1.339:3
D. Sarisky (40)GRV/TRI2-135.13.82/1.4441:13
M. Schurz (44)GCL/TRI3-029.21.52/1.0837:13
S. Hylander (50)GCL4-3393.23/1.1526:9

Now for the position players:

J. Mier (1)SSGRV.276/.380/.48420-3245:3010/5
T. Nash (3)OFGCL.218/.280/.32412-2045:121/2
J. Meyer (3c)3BGRV.190/.301/.29915-2769:361/0
B. Wikoff (5)SSTRI/LEX.280/.327/.3339-1930:205/7
E. Hernandez (6)2B/SSGCL.295/.336/.39616-2728:108/2
B. Orloff (19)2BGRV/TRI.165/.250/.1963-1311:86/0
E. Castro (10)3B/1BTRI.266/.351/.45321-3638:260/1
D. Williams (11)CGRV.202/.239/.3419-1642:40/0
J. Goebbert (13)LFTRI.238/.332/.33315-1839:222/3
R. Humphrey (15)OFGRV.219/.301/.2817-648:144/2
R. Sanchez (16)1BGCL.210/.327/.2465-1633:183/1
B. Kemp (19)CFTRI.259/.367/.3007-1131:2516/3
JD Martinez (20)OF/DHGRV/TRI.348/.399/.59839-5644:201/0
B. Butera (21)2B/SSTRI.267/.351/.32211-1152:2316/3
N. Stanley (25)1BTRI.230/.308/.35414-2145:232/2
A. Bray (27)1BGRV.278/.388/.3236-2035:282/3
G. Wright (29)OFGCL.185/.290/.2223-735:154/1
G. Hogue (35)CFGRV.284/.365/.39213-1432:1617/5
S. Barksdale (38)OFTRI.175/.234/.3018-834:816/3

This leads us to the Astros County Draftees of the Year. Based on the above, we can say that - for this season only...

Offensive Draftee of the Year: J.D. Martinez
Draftee Pitcher of the Year: Dallas Keuchel


Ausmus blames 1998 on the schedule

In a Wall Street Journal article on how stupid a five-game opening series is, they have the following statistics:

-The team with the better record wins only 48% of the time.
-100-win teams have won 10 of 19 Division Series

Then this:
Brad Ausmus, a former Houston Astros catcher, said his team's 1998 loss to the San Diego Padres was partly driven by the schedule. The first three games of the series were played over five days, which enabled San Diego to use its ace pitcher, Kevin Brown, twice. San Diego won both games and took the series. "When the schedule allows you to pitch the best pitcher in the league twice in the first three games, I wouldn't say that's the best system for judging who the better team is," says Mr. Ausmus, now with the Dodgers.

"I couldn't be happier. When I instituted the wild card, it was controversial. Some were saying, 'He's going to ruin baseball.' But what a great history."

That's, uh, not exactly answering the question. We're not talking about the Wild Card, but making the playoffs more fair.

Any changes in the works?
All the criticism aside, Mr. Selig says no changes are planned to the format. He disagrees with the idea that teams with the best records aren't properly rewarded. He points out that the division winner with the better record during the season gets to play the first two games at home, plus the potential fifth and deciding game. "That's a pretty good advantage," he says.

Everyone can breathe a little easier now...

Go ahead and bring your poker chips out again, it's all clear. Shawn Chacon was arrested at a Colorado bowling alley.

Let me repeat.

Shawn Chacon was arrested at a Colorado bowling alley.

Police received an anonymous tip that Chacon was at the Highland Park Lanes (add that site to your Baseball Vacation plans). Maybe he was hustling to pay back the $150,000 to Caesar's.

It's never as important to the employer as it is to the prospectively employed

This is a fact. So with Dave Clark in Memphis, hanging out and waiting for a call, it's going to be a couple of days before the process gets started.

Easy Eddie says he is going to start making contact with potential candidates by the end of the week. Drayton, Tal, and Ed "may meet" on Thursday to put together a preliminary list, this is less preliminarier than the preliminary list they've been working up for a couple of weeks now.

"We're going to meet internally late in the week, probably Thursday and Friday, and review the list of candidates and begin the process of making contact. At this point in time, we've barely scratched the surface. Everybody needs to be in the same room at the same time to talk about who will be involved in the actual interview process from our end."

"Instead of picking a manager out of the air, we're going to see what the Houston Astros need."

Is that how it went with Coop? Personally, I think Superman would be a fine manager. When Matsui grounds into a double play, he can fly around the world backwards and turn back time.

Continue, Drayton:
"It could be probably six weeks or more. You've got a lot of people tied up in the postseason. If one of the candidates involved is with the team in the postseason, you really can't approach them at this time. So you have to be careful with the process. There's no rush. We want to find the best possible manger...

...I think there will be a lot of good candidates. Houston is one of the best five or six teams in baseball, the fourth-biggest city in baseball and has some of the best attendance in baseball. I feel there will be strong candidates because we're a major city and have one of the best baseball fields. Our organization, in the 17 years I've owned the team, has the fifth-best record in all of baseball."

Always be selling.

And the coaching staff, Wade? He apparently spoke to them in New York to let them know where they stand.
"I hope to bring some clarity to that picture sooner rather than later, this week or next week. In some cases, we're going to have to wait to fill some spots until after the manager is in place. In fairness to the guys that have been here, we felt it appropriate to have some type of conversation with them."

Go ahead and add Mike Hargrove to the list

JJO's blog post this morning has breaking news that someone who once managed is interested in managing again.

And Wade told JJO Sunday that Dave Clark remains a serious candidate. Given that Berkman, Oswalt, Bourn, and Pence publicly supported Clark For Manager the day after the letter arrived with the season in it (with delivery confirmation), I would say that Easy Eddie is being very diplomatic...

Moehler undergoes surgery on knee

Brian Moehler underwent successful surgery on his right knee. What was the surgery? McTaggart says it was to repair a torn tendon. JJO says it was to clean up loose particles. Maybe it's the same. I have a degree in history, so what do I know?

Regardless, trainer Nate Lucero says Moehler should be ready for the start of Spring Training. But what does this do to the 37-year old's value? JJO's story says that the Astros can exercise his option (and Moehler can decline), or they can pay the $250,000 buyout.

“We're very pleased with what Brian's done for us. But I want to talk to our guys internally before we make any decisions.”


Monday, October 5, 2009

Astros will pick 8th next June

Keith Law has confirmed the Astros will pick 8th in next year's June Draft.

This will be the first time the Astros have picked higher than 10th since 1992, when they had the first overall pick, and nutted that Phil Nevin pick.

"Many other special moments?"

If you get the Astros Blast emails, you got an email thanking you for 2009. With the following line:

The 10th season celebration gave us a great opportunity to take a look back at the most exciting decade in club history while the 2009 team made memories of their own. This includes Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Pudge Rodriguez making MLB history becoming the first set of three teammates to hit their 300th career home runs in the same season along with many other special moments and milestones.

Many other special moments and milestones? Like what?

-Carlos Lee's drive to break Milton Bradley's 140 Lollygags to first base?
-Tejada's push to break Greg Gagne's 842 GIDPs in one season?
-Mike Hampton's attempt to break Dave Dravecky's Most Godawful Arm Injuries Ever?
-Lance Berkman's fight to break Reggie Jackson's Throwing of Managers Under the Bus?

(come on, I know you've got more. Leave a comment.)

McLane vows to get to work

McTaggart's blog post today has some words from Run-DMc:

"It's very disappointing. In December, when [general manager] Ed [Wade] and [director of baseball operations] Tal [Smith] and them were putting things together, we were very positive about the season and thought they would really play well together, and there were some good points. Remember about 60 percent of the way through the season, we were one game from first place and quit playing well. It was a disappointing season. Obviously, the goal is to be playing in the post-season and we're going to immediately go to work."

Prediction Rundown

It's time to provide some online accountability (which is lacking nowadays) and think back to all the predictions that were made about this Astros team.

September 3: Rosenthal predicts Cooper gets fired.
June 9: Keith Law says the Astros will take Jiovanni Mier in the 1st round
April 5: Bruce Jenkins, Ken Rosenthal, Will Leitch, Ken Davidoff, Scott Miller, Danny Knobler, Eric Mack, Adriane Rosen, Baseball Prospectus, Hilton SportsBook, Sporting News, Bucs Dugout, and Blast Magazine all pick the Astros to finish 5th.
April 5: Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, Peter Pascarelli, Chris Singleton all pick the Cardinals to win the NL Central
April 3: Baseball Prospectus says the Astros will post an offensive line of .261/.321/.403 (actual: .260/.319/.400 - holy crap)
March 19: Baseball Daily Digest names Wandy as the Astros breakthrough performer
March 12: Bookmakers at the Hilton put O/U on Astros wins at 74

Close, so here's a cigar
April 6: John Royal, aka "Eeyore," says the Astros finish in 5th place, with a 72-90 record.
April 5: Astros County, Bruce Bukiet, TSN Canada, and The Leadoff Man pick the Astros to finish 4th; Nick DeWitt picks the Astros to finish 6th
January 26: I put the O/U on starting pitchers at 11.5 (actual: 10)
March 12: Coop says he'll need 20 pitchers to get through the season (actual: 22)

Nice pickin', Stevie Wonder
April 27: Baseball Prospectus says the Astros will go 66-96, five games behind the Pirates, 29 games behind the Cubs.
April 6: As does Keith Law
April 5: Jose de Jesus Ortiz and Dan Plesac pick the Astros to finish 2nd; Brian McTaggart picks the Astros to finish 3rd
April 3: San Francisco Chronicle's Bruce Jenkins says, "One of the classiest ballplayers in the business, Darin Erstad, will be invaluable off the bench."
March 26: Coop says the Astros will win 90 games
March 10: Bleacher Report says, "If Houston avoids a 100 loss season, it will be a shock.">

And Richard Justice's February 25 prediction post gets its own look:
-"Eight games under .500 on June 1"
Holy crap, they were 21-29.

-"Cecil Cooper will do a terrific job. By the end of this season, he'll have the support of fans, reporters, players and his front office. He'll get an extension for 2010 and a nice fat raise"
Well, he did get that extension

-"Russ Ortiz will be the No. 2 starter by mid-season. He's healthy for the first time in years and throwing the ball free and easy. He's a proven winner. His signing is going to be one of the smarter ones Ed Wade has made."

-"Mike Hampton will win more games than Randy Wolf"
Hampton: 7; Wolf: 11

-"Felipe Paulino will throw a 100-mph pitch this season. In the major leagues."
This may have happened

-"J.R. Towles is going to be entrenched as the starting catcher by Sept. 1. He may have to start the season in the minor leagues. That's not important. There's no reason he can't succeed. He's a first-rate catcher and on his way to getting his offensive issues figured out."

-"The Astros will have one of the National League's three best bullpens."
The Astros led the NL with 27 blown saves

-"Bud Norris, Brad James, Chris Johnson, Tommy Manzella and Brian Bogusevic will be pushing for spots on the big-league team by the second half of the season."
Norris did, and Johnson and Manzella at least got to fly on planes for a month.

-"Kaz Matsui will spend time on the disabled list, but it won't matter. Drew Sutton will fill in nicely."

-"Roy Oswalt will win his first Cy Young Award. Lance Berkman will be the National League MVP."

-"Darin Erstad, David Newhan and Jason Michael will again be invaluable off the bench."

-"Lou Palmisano will be Ed Wade's latest shrewd move from the Rule V draft, joining Wesley Wright and Shane Victorino on an impressive list."
Palmisano never made the Big Club

What does Hoffman's deal do to Valverde?

Trevor Hoffman signed a 1-year $8 million deal, with a mutual option for 2011.

As we all know, each free agent signing helps to define the market for the remaining free agents. In ESPN's Rumor Central section, we see this:

For one thing, the $8 million that Hoffman received has to make guys like Valverde and Rodney smile.

Even though Hoffman had a better year than Valverde (Hoffman: 37 saves, 1.55 ERA; Valverde: 25 saves, 2.33 ERA), Valverde is 10-ish years younger than Hoffman. Valverde made $8 million with Houston this year, will Hoffman's deal push him over the $10 million mark?

Has Drayton called Bagwell and Biggio?

Jon Heyman heard that he did.

Astros owner Drayton McLane called to gauge interest on the part of Astros icons Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio in Houston's managerial job. But for now...they remain just two names on a very long list of possibilities. A person familiar with their thinking said to add Don Baylor and Scott Servais to a managerial list that's reported to include interim Dave Clark plus Al Pedrique, Tim Bogar, Brad Ausmus, Manny Acta and Jim Fregosi.

I hadn't heard Baylor and Servais' names before. But further on we see that Barry Axelrod, agent for both Bagwell & Biggio, "could have interest" in the job, but both are considering the timing of the opportunity.

Later we see this, about Bobby Valentine:
He is leaving his $4 million-a-year job managing the Chiba Lotte Marines for an analyst position at ESPN but would expect to earn a lot closer to the $4 million mark to manage. And the Marlins paid only two of their players -- Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla -- as much as $4 million last year.

With the Astros already paying Cooper around $800K to not manage the team next year, and with a payroll that will be considerably lower than 2009's $107 million, I bet Valentine is out of the Astros' pay scale.

Castro #3 on Cal League prospect list

Baseball America posted their Top 20 California League prospects list today.

Representing Lancaster were Jason Castro (#3). Koby Clemens and Jon Gaston got The Snub.

Moves that worked, moves that didn't

Note: This is a retrospective of moves made in the 08-09 offseason, and during the 2009 season. So you won't find "Signing Kaz Matsui" in the list of Moves That Worked, Moves That Didn't.

Moves That Worked

Trading Pudge for two prospects
Pudge was supposed to be the stop-gap at catcher for two reasons: (1) To allow time until Jason Castro was major-league ready, and (2) to keep Quintero from becoming the full-time starter. It worked alright, but it was clear that Pudge was old, and his effect on the pitching staff was negligible (Wandy originally attributed 09 success to working with Pudge, and then imploded in May/June, and then righted the ship - even after he was gone). So to trade Pudge to the Rangers for anything more than a copy of The Sandlot 3 and some Icy Hot was impressive. To get two prospects out of it is nothing short of amazing. The Rangers acquired him to help with their push for the post-season, but were 14-14 in games Pudge started down the stretch.

The two players the Astros received have done well. Matt Nevarez, a 22-year old RH reliever, only played in 8 games (8.1IP), but had a 0.00 ERA / 0.36 WHIP, four saves, and 13K:0BB. 22-year old infielder Jose Vallejo had limited time with the Astros, but put together a .289/.318/.349 line at Double-A Frisco, and was 7x20 (.350/.350/.500) in seven games at Round Rock.

Signing Chia-Jen Lo
The Astros' first foray into Pacific Rim scouting culminated in the November signing of RHP Chia-Jen Lo. The 23-year old split time between Lancaster and Corpus, where at Lancaster, C-Lo had a 1.78 ERA / 0.91 WHIP in 25.1IP, with a 36:13 K:BB ratio. At Corpus, despite battling injury, C-Lo had a 2.31 ERA / 1.28 WHIP, allowing just one homer in 39IP at Corpus. He'll compete for a bullpen spot in 2010, and will start at Round Rock if he doesn't get the spot out of Spring Training.

Claiming Chris Coste
It may not look like it, but the Coste experiment wasn't such a bad one. Despite posting a .204/.259/.252 line with the Astros, with five extra-base hits in 103 plate appearances, having Coste on the roster allowed Ed Wade the ability to trade Pudge. Making 14 starts behind the plate, and 13 starts at 1B to spell Erstad when Berkman went down, Coste didn't make a single error behind the plate, and only one at first.

Claiming Jeff Fulchino off waivers from the Royals
When the Astros claimed the huge righty off waivers from the Royals last December, he was coming off a season in which he allowed 14 ER in 14IP for Kansas City and a combined 4.87 ERA for Double-A NW Arkansas, and Triple-A Omaha. So I don't know that anyone was expecting Fulchino to throw up a 3.40 ERA / 1.18 WHIP over 82IP for the Astros this year, earning Rookie of the Year honors from the Houston BBWAA. He struck out 71 batters in 82 innings, and has put himself in a position to emerge as an 8th inning option in 2010.

Letting Ty Wigginton walk
The Astros were looking at a hefty little bump from Wigginton's $4.35 million salary in 2008. Instead, Easy Eddie declined to offer him arbitration, and he signed with the Orioles, where he signed a two-year $6 million deal. Wigginton hit .273/.314/.400 with 11HR and 41RBI, but also played below-average defense at 1st and 3rd. The offense was okay, but certainly not worth the $6 million he probably would have received.

Moves That Didn't

Picking up Cooper's option
Obviously, this was a pretty short-sighted move on Drayton/Ed's part. Perhaps this precipitated Cooper losing the clubhouse as the players realized they would likely be dealing with a lack of communication and questionable tactics for two more seasons. And while the Astros were never considered contenders, except for a two-week span in July, Astros players looked like they would rather be anywhere else except on the field in the second half.

Signing Mike Hampton
In 21 starts for the Astros in 2009 in which the Astros were 7-14, Hampton put up a 5.30 ERA / 1.55 WHIP in 112 IP. He allowed 13 homers, and had seven quality starts, compared to five disaster starts, and five starts in which he didn't make it out of the 5th inning. It was a low-risk, high-reward signing, but the Astros paid almost $300K per win.

Trading Jordan Parraz for Tyler Lumsden
The Astros sent Jordan Parraz to the Royals for Tyler Lumsden, a minor-league pitcher who was initially assigned to Round Rock. Except it didn't last. And Lumsden was sent down to Corpus on July 2. Lumsden was another "project pitcher" (see: Fulchino, Jeff) coming off Triple-A seasons in Omaha with ERAs of 5.88 and 7.21, respectively. He came to Round Rock, and put up a 4.42 ERA / 1.91 WHIP in 18.1IP, and 5.15 / 1.72 in 43.2IP in Corpus. And he's 26. Meanwhile, 24-year old RF Parraz ( 2004 3rd round pick) hit .358/.451/.553 for Double-A NW Arkansas, and .298/.358/.426 in Omaha.

Not re-signing Randy Wolf
By all accounts, Randy Wolf was open to coming back to Houston in 2009. The Astros allegedly had a 3-year $29.5 million offer on the table, then the economy tanked, and that offer was pulled. Wolf re-signed with the Dodgers for $5 million, and went 11-7 in 214.1 IP, with a 3.23 ERA / 1.10 WHIP. His 2.76 K:BB ratio was his highest since 2001, and his 2.4 walks/9 were his lowest since 2004. It's doubtful that Wolf would have taken a $24 million pay cut to come back, but it is what it is.

Anything I missed?

So...what happens now?

What the heck will you still read Astros County for everyday? Well, I'll tell you.

-News and rumors (all cited, speculation will be noted when necessary) of the Managerial Search, personnel moves, etc...
-Major League recap with statistical evaluation, comparisons, and projections
-Minor League review, top to bottom, with splits and commentary
-Bray Day, weekly updates from Astros prospect Aaron Bray (each Monday)
-Other miscellaneous shenanigans and ballyhoo.

So check back often. Because at Astros County, there is no off-season.

Bray Day, Volume 3

Aaron Bray was the 27th round draft pick for the Astros in last June's amateur draft. He was also the winner of the Astros County Adopt-a-Player contest. Each Monday, Aaron will write a column for Astros County detailing his off-season. Check the sidebar for archives.

Hello Astros Fans,

Hope everyone had a great week. I know I did, except for Saturday when my Georgia Bulldogs had a chance to take down #4 LSU, but could not capitalize. I know today was the last day of the major league regular season so I can't wait to start watching some playoff baseball. As I mention in every blog I am still in school and behind, but this week I finally caught up and I am looking forward to relaxing. In my four years as an athlete, I think I went to the Library four times, I have a feeling in the next month I will double my trips to the Library. I am looking forward to getting my degree, though. Now for the question of the week.

What was the last day of the season like? Were there any team meetings, did
the manager talk to y'all? Were there hugs? Was there crying? Signing of

The last day of the season in Greeneville was different from any other last day of the season. I hate to sound negative, but after my first year in the minors I wondered who of the guys I was teammates with would be in Spring Training and who would not be? Would I be going to spring training? Would I play with most of these guys next year? It was different because before it was fun and although it is still fun, it is a job and a business and you never know what could happen.

As for our last day, we had a team cookout that the coaches did for us. They used the money we had to pay our fines with, so paying a fine works out well for us. We did have a couple of meetings to go over certain off-season events, such as workouts and what needs to be gone while were away. As for hugging I think there were a few, but for the most part it was handshakes and goodbyes. Instead of signing yearbooks we signed our cards for each other as a keepsake. But I did enjoy my first season in Minor League Baseball.

Got a question for Aaron Bray? Send an e-mail!

Recap - Men Among Goats

Something Astros County tried with regularity was a Man of the Match and a Goat of the Game feature at the end of each recap (and there were probably ten games all season that didn't receive this).

Today I'll be deleting the full list, but it's worth noting that...

-Lance Berkman led the team with 15 MatchMan awards (Wandy and Tejada had 14 each, Carlos Lee had 10)
-Berkman tied with Tejada for 9 Goats - tops on the team.

That pretty much sums up the season, don't you think? The two players who were supposed to lead this team offensively also led the team in Goats. Just shows how schizophrenic this team was in 2009.

There's a full season recap coming in the next few days.

Astros hand out team hardware

The Houston Chapter of the BBWAA made the following selections for the Astros 2009 awards:

Team MVP: Michael Bourn

Pitcher of the Year: Wandy Rodriguez

Rookie of the Year: Jeff Fulchino

Darryl Kile Good Guy Award: Brian Moehler

Hard to argue with those selections...

McTaggart's glance at the off-season decisions to be made

McTaggart sure has been more prolific than the Chronicle's staff, who - aside from Levine - haven't filed a blog post or a story other than a recap for about four days. In this piece, there's a positional breakdown.

First, Wade on the payroll/free agent issues:
"Our payroll is in all likelihood going to be lower than it was this year. It could be appreciably lower, but we don't know until we sit down and get the actual numbers. Pitching is something we have to pay a lot of attention to. All of us at different points of time have looked at the potential free-agent pitching lists and know that a lot of names that are on that list right now are potentials, in that they won't become real free agents because they'll be retained by their former clubs. We have to be cautious as to how strongly we portray our potential of being out there in the open market. The level of quality is going to be pretty small, which means the values placed on those guys is going to be pretty high."

So that basically means, "Don't go expecting John Lackey in an Astros uniform."

The Astros signed Pudge Rodriguez prior to the start of the 2009 season because of a lack of catching depth and later traded him to the Rangers. They could be facing a similar scenario in 2010 as they await the arrival of first-round Draft pick Castro, who's expected to help at some point next year. Quintero and Towles haven't proven to be worthy of being a starter.

Manzella made his Major League debut in September, but he didn't get much playing time behind Tejada, who is a free agent in 2010 and unlikely to return to Houston. Manzella is a Major League-ready defensive player, but his offense remains a work in progress.

Third base:
Blum is a free agent and would like to return in 2010, but the Astros have other options. The versatile Keppinger isn't a full-time starter, so prospect Johnson could finally get his chance to prove if he's ready to play in the Majors after a solid 2009 season at Triple-A Round Rock.

There's no doubt the Astros are desperate need for another solid starting pitcher, but the 1-2-3 punch of Oswalt, Rodriguez and Norris isn't a bad place to start. Oswalt only won eight games before his season was cut short with a back injury, but Rodriguez blossomed into a No. 2 starter and Norris was terrific in his debut. Moehler could return via free agency, but youngsters like Paulino and Bazardo will be given chances to win a spot.

Injuries ravaged the bullpen in 2009, but that allowed the Astros to unearth solid arms in Arias and Fulchino. The back end of the bullpen remains a concern, with '09 setup man Hawkins and closer Valverde free agents and questionable to return. Needless to say, the Astros will be in the market for bullpen help.

Astros players support Clark For Manager

If it's up to Lance and Roy, Dave Clark will be Manager 16.

"I think Dave would do a good job. He knows the game well. I think the biggest attribute is he demands a lot from the players. He sticks with what he does best, and I think he would be great for this team."

"I think he's got the right type of demeanor and presence. I like him. I think he would make a great choice. We'll see. I don't know who the other candidates are, but if they ask me my opinion, I would say that Dave would be a great candidate. Nobody in here would have the least bit of problem with him being the next manager. There's an overall demeanor and overall atmosphere a manager helps create, and I don't know that you'll get a real, real accurate read on that until you get a guy in there for a full season, but certainly for the small window of opportunity he's had, he's created a good, positive attitude around here, and guys are responding well to. Even though our record is not great, guys are playing hard. I don't want to say you dread coming to the ballpark, but he definitely has a lively presence about him. That's something as a player you appreciate."

I'm rooting for him. He's a great guy. I've played for him before [at Double-A Corpus Christi] and just really like the way he handles everyone, the way he communicates and the way he leads. He's a leader. I'm hoping he gets the job."

"Whether we're up or down, he stays the same and keeps us intense throughout the game. He hasn't forgotten how the game goes. He knows how hard the game is at times. He knows when to do little stuff and he has experience at doing it. He's a good man for the job. I'm not the man to make the call, but I'm pretty sure a lot of the players feel the same way. They like him and respect him and want to play for him, and that's what you want. You want somebody you want to play for. I would want to play for him any day of the week, Sunday through Sunday. Hopefully he'll be back, and we'll look forward to it if he is."

"I'm not trying to knock anything that happened before, but I did see more energy and better effort and guys running out ground balls and trying to make every play close -- really just coming out there and having fun. There's just a right way to play the game, that's all. It makes you look good and the organization look good. People pay money to come out and see you play, so give them what they're playing for."

We'll know more about this in the coming days, but I bet the search is going to be ramped up. I imagine Easy Eddie will become a little looser-lipped now that the season's over, but with the Indians - and possibly the Nationals and Marlins - looking for a manager, the Astros are going to be competing for managerial candidates.

Ed Wade knew this wasn't exactly the best team

Telling quotes from Ed Wade in McTaggart's season-closing story on how maybe they had an idea that 1,194 things would have to go exactly right - consecutively - for this team to be competitive:

"We knew a lot of things would have to go right, including Roy winning his normal 15, 17, 20 games and Lance having a big year and Carlos [Lee] having a big year. Those types of things didn't happen for us. It was a combination of a lot of different factors."

It's funny, because even though Roy had a down year, he still had 15 no-decisions, meaning he just might have won 15, 17, 20 games. But the offense was so terrible, namely because Lance was hitting well under .200 for the first two months of the season, that Carlos Lee - despite hitting .300 with 26 HRs (two fewer than his mark at G115 in 2008 when he went down with the pinky injury) - couldn't make up the productivity.

Anyhow, Wade, on the pitching:
"Our pitching was a strong as we could make it, probably not strong enough to stand the test of time, so to speak."

Ed Wade knew that this team wouldn't contend, and it's not his fault.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Recap for G162 - Astros @ Mets

Swiftly and mercifully the Astros' season ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, getting swept by the Brooklyn Cyclones New York Mets with a 4-0 loss. It was the Mets' first sweep since May 25-27 against Washington. That's Astros baseball.

Wilton Lopez threw 77 pitches in 5IP, allowing six earned runs to lower his ERA to 8.38 on the year. The Mets' Nelson Figueroa took his 2-8 record, and shut the Astros down with a 4-hit complete game shutout. Let's do the thing, thankfully for the last time until next April.

Lopez: 5IP, 6H/3ER (4 total), 11/22 first-pitch strikes, 7/51 non-contact strikes (5called:2 swinging)
Wright: 2IP, 2H, 2K:2BB, 7/10 FPS, 13/32 NCS (9c:4s)
Gervacio: 1IP, 1H, 3/4 FPS, 3/12 NCS (3c)

Of Lopez' 77 pitches, the Mets only swung and missed two of them, and Wesley Wright threw 50 pitches in an outing for the first time since getting carted out of Wrigley in an ambulance.

The Astros were terrible, again, facing a young pitcher. Bourn, Tejada, Berkman, and Quintero accounted for the only hits, with Tejada flying out to right field in the 9th to leave his hit total at 199 for the season and sole possession of 2nd place in Astros franchise history. Somehow the Astros had five ABs with RISP, and predictably, got nothing out of it. An 0x4 day leaves Carlos Lee's batting average right at .300, making 2009 the fifth straight season in which he has reached the .300 mark.

Geoff Blum ran out to third base after the game ended to give it to Aaron Boone, who made his second start of the season today, a nice gesture. Chris Johnson then proceeded to piss in the third-base hole, while shaking his fists at Dave Clark and the rest of the Astros' awestruck bench (okay, maybe that's not exactly what happened, but the first part is true.)

Man of the Match: Who knows? Let's give it to Aaron Boone.

Goat of the Game: In honor of Carlos Lee's 0-fer (including two hitless ABs with RISP), he gets the final Goat of the season.

Olney doesn't list Astros as a fit for Valentine

Buster Olney's blog post this morning lists some possible destinations for Bobby Valentine. Houston isn't one of them.

The possibilities?
Cleveland (who want to have their manager hired by the end of the World Series): The hiring of Valentine would be something very different, given his history of success and his personality and energy level, and in many respects, he and general manager Mark Shapiro would be a perfect fit: They are both problem-solvers at heart, which is what you need to be to engender success in a small market.

Washington: Valentine would be a suitable caretaker for a team that is easily the worst in the major leagues, at the ground floor of general manager Mike Rizzo's reconstruction -- and Rizzo is building a foundation that must, out of necessity, be built on pitching.

Florida: And if you just assume Loria is a status-quo type of guy, don't forget he fired Joe Girardi after one season in which Girardi was named manager of the year.

Toronto: If, in fact, Beeston agrees with the players that Gaston has become an untenable managerial option for the Jays, Valentine might emerge as a candidate for a franchise that will be seeking ways to reinvent itself and sell itself, while sharing a division with two big-money monsters, the Yankees and Red Sox.

Live in Baytown? Want to learn from Chris Johnson?

Courtesy Brian McTaggart, Chris Sampson is opening the Lone Start Baseball Academy in Baytown.

1-hour private lesson: $80
1/2-hour private lesson: $40 (I guess the math is free)

Larry Wade has some hope

The Shreveport Times' Larry Wade has five reasons not so say, "Screw it. Now I'm a Marlins fan."

And those reasons are:

-Tim Bogar. Boston's first base coach will be the Astros' next manager. He will energize the clubhouse and have instant credibility with his players. Bogar has learned from Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, the guy Astros general manager Ed Wade regrets firing when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies.

-Michael Bourn. In a season of disappointment, Bourn has given the Astros reason to look confidently ahead. He has been the team's most valuable player this season, and he will be an All-Star in 2010.

-Wandy Rodriguez. He's replaced Roy Oswalt as the team's ace. Rodriguez will be a strong Cy Young contender next season because he has finally learned how to pitch. And few pitchers are tougher at home than Rodriguez, who will give the team an advantage each time he takes the mound in Minute Maid Park. He's almost an automatic quality-start.

-Bud Norris. As a rookie this season, Norris had several impressive outings. Remember his two-hit, seven inning shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals in his debut as a starter? Norris is the real deal.

-Jason Castro. The Astros first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft will be the team's starting catcher when the 2010 season begins. He's excelled at every level in the minors, hitting an impressive .293 for Double-A Corpus Christi this season. Castro will give the Astros an additional bat and solid presence behind the plate next season. And he will only get better.

Lineup for G162 - Astros @ Mets

Captip, Brian McTaggart:

Your final lineup of 2009:

Bourn CF
Tejada SS
Berkman 1B
Lee LF
Pence RF
Boone 3B
Matsui 2B
Lopez P

Congratulations to Aaron Boone, who gets the start at 3B. Want more Boone? Listen to ESPN Radio in the Division Series for color commentary.

Bourn's CSs

So the wife is sick, which means she's still asleep, which means I have plenty of opportunities to think of all sorts of randomness. And this morning, I turn my attention to the 12 times this season Michael Bourn has been caught stealing.

April 17, Reds @ Astros
Bottom 7th, 2 outs, Astros ahead 1-0
Caught stealing 2nd by RHP reliever Nick Masset/Ramon Hernandez

May 3, Astros @ Braves
Top 9th, 0 out, Astros ahead 7-5
Picked off 1st by RHP reliever Mike Gonzalez/Brian McCann

May 9, Padres @ Astros
Bottom 4th, 1 out, tied 0-0
Caught stealing 2nd by RHP starter Kevin Correia/Nick Hundley

June 1, Rockies @ Astros
Bottom 1st, 0 out, tied 0-0
Caught stealing 2nd by RHP starter Aaron Cook/Yorvit Torrealba

June 16, Astros @ Rangers
Top 1st, 1 out, tied 0-0
Caught stealing 3rd by RHP starter Kevin Millwood/Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Double play, with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out with Carlos Lee

June 17, Astros @ Rangers
Top 9th, 1 out, tied 4-4
Caught stealing 2nd by LHP reliever C.J. Wilson/Jarrod Saltalamacchia

June 19, Astros @ Twins
Top 1st, 1 out, tied 0-0
Caught stealing 2nd by RHP Kevin Slowey/Joe Mauer

July 10, Nationals @ Astros
Bottom 4th, 1 out, Astros ahead 2-1
Picked off 2nd by LHP Scott Olsen

July 27, Astros @ Cubs
Top 3rd, 2 outs, Astros ahead 1-0
Caught stealing 2nd by RHP starter Carlos Zambrano/Koyie Hill

August 1, Astros @ Cardinals
Top 5th, 2 outs, tied 1-1
Caught stealing 2nd by RHP starter Chris Carpenter/Yadier Molina

September 18, Astros @ Brewers
Top 3rd, 1 out, Astros ahead 1-0
Caught stealing 2nd by LHP starer Chris Narveson/Jason Kendall

October 2, Astros @ Mets
Top 1st, 0 out, tied 0-0
Caught stealing 3rd by RHP starter John Maine/Omar Santos

Some trends, if you'll allow:
CS with 0 out: 3
CS with 1 out: 6
CS with 2 out: 3

CS with game tied: 7
CS with 2+ run margin: 1

CS by RHPs: 9
CS by LHPs: 3

CS at home: 4
CS on road: 8

CS in Inn 1-3: 6
CS in Inn 4-6: 3
CS in Inn 7+: 3