Saturday, October 24, 2009

Acta and Mills?

Michael Silverman's Boston Herald column says the choice for the next manager of the Astros is down to Manny Acta and Brad Mills:

According to a baseball official, the next Astros manager is apparently down to Red Sox [team stats] bench coach Brad Mills and former Nationals manager Manny Acta. Acta may have an edge because he came up in the Houston system, but he is also a finalist for the job in Cleveland, complicating matters a bit.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Clark still considered a finalist

My friend Citizen Street is correct, Brian McTaggart is tweeting that Dave Clark is still considered a finalist and is in the mix to be wearing an Astros hat at a press conference near you.

I should have known better than to take what JJO said at face value.

Managerial decision to come soon?

By early next week, according to JJO.

“We’re just trying to think through this. This is really important. Having the right person is so important to be the leader of this team. It’s going to take time. We’ll make a decision in the first part of next week...

...I met with some candidates. Phil Garner is somebody I know intimately. I became very, very close to him. Ed and Tal and Pam (Gardner) and I, part of how we make decisions is to talk things through. Ed and Tal and I know lots and lots of people in baseball. We’re making lots of calls to find out more about these candidates.

Each of these candidates that we’re narrowing it to, we’re making calls on. The three of us are doing that since yesterday and today and tomorrow and over the weekend. We’ll get a lot more input. I have had discussions with Ed and Tal and Pam yesterday. Certainly, we’ll talk about it again today.”

So your three finalists are apparently (in alphabetical order):
Manny Acta
Phil Garner
Brad Mills

Surprising that Dave Clark wouldn't be a part of the conversation, reinforcing my opinion that whomever the players feel comfortable around isn't necessarily the right choice.

Garner still waiting for that callback

KHOU is reporting that Garner still hasn't heard back about a second interview, but that it also doesn't really bother him.

Garner went on to say that he wasn’t surprised by that, given the Astros told him during the initial interview that he wouldn’t hear back from the team for at least a week. Despite the delay in a call back, Garner says he still feel really good about his chances of getting his old job back. He added that just the thought of being back at the Astros helm has him excited about baseball again.

Dierker: Whomever the Astros hire will tell you the direction of the organization

Jerome Solomon has an article this morning harkening back to the Mesozoic Era of Astros baseball, in which Larry Dierker was named manager.

It's an interesting read on how it all went down, and he's a little upset that he wasn't one of The Ten, but there's this:

“The type of guy you need kind of depends on what phase of development you're in. It's virtually impossible to predict if you're going to have a good team or not every year, unless you're the Yankees or the Red Sox who spend so much money. Even then, you can't predict whether you're going to win.

So if you get a guy who might be good and patient working with young players, because you're not expecting to contend for a couple years, you still could end up like the Rays last year and find yourself in the hunt. It's a very sensitive, complicated subject and not anything you can break down statistically.”


Thursday, October 22, 2009

At least Randy Ready has that in his back pocket

ESPN is reporting San Diego hitting coach (and Astros' managerial candidate) will have his old job back if he doesn't become the Astros' manager.

Bill James' 2010 projections

Captip to Street for the link to Bill James 2010 projections (from JC Bradbury's unbelievable Sabernomics site, published with permission).

We'll delve into this in depth later, but let's just pull the Astros' 2010 players:


Lance Berkman
'10 Proj: 153G, 157x554 (.283/.406/.518), 31HR, 104 RBI, 96R, 118K:109BB
'09 Stat: 136G, 126x360 (.274/.399/.509), 25HR, 80 RBI, 73R, 98K:97BB

Geoff Blum
'10 Proj: 113G, 72x306 (.235/.297/.359), 7HR, 36RBI, 30R, 52K:24BB
'09 Stat: 120G, 94x381 (.247/.314/.367), 10HR, 49RBI, 34R, 61K:33BB

Michael Bourn
'10 Proj: 150G, 156x575 (.271/.341/.360), 5HR, 37RBI, 91R, 121K:60BB
'09 Stat: 157G, 173x606 (.285/.354/.384), 3HR, 35RBI, 97R, 140K:63BB

Jason Castro
'10 Proj: 97G, 95x359 (.265/.325/.343), 3HR, 36RBI, 46R, 54K:32BB

Chris Coste
'10 Proj: 74G, 48x191 (.251/.309/.366), 4HR, 23RBI, 18R, 36K:13BB
'09 Stat: 88G, 46x205 (.224/.301/.317), 2HR, 18RBI, 15R, 55K:22BB

Darin Erstad
'10 Proj: 73G, 29x119 (.244/.297/.319), 1HR, 12RBI, 15R, 24K:8BB
'09 Stat: 107G, 26x150 (.194/.268/.328), 2HR, 11RBI, 13R, 13K:14BB

Chris Johnson
'10 Proj: 116G, 92x346 (.266/.300/.425), 11HR, 39RBI, 38R, 78K:17BB

Jeff Keppinger
'10 Proj: 115G, 107x367 (.292/.348/.395), 5HR, 35RBI, 44R, 26K:30BB
'09 Stat: 107G, 78x305 (.256/.320/.387), 7HR, 29RBI, 35R, 33K:27BB

Carlos Lee
'10 Proj: 152G, 172x587 (.293/.351/.503), 29HR, 107RBI, 79R, 61K:49BB
'09 Stat: 160G, 183x610 (.300/.343/.489), 26HR, 102RBI, 65R, 51K:41BB

Kaz Matsui
'10 Proj: 125G, 117x445 (.263/.317/.380), 8HR, 40RBI, 60R, 82K:33BB
'09 Stat: 132G, 119x476 (.250/.302/.357), 9HR, 46RBI, 56R, 85K:34BB

Jason Michaels
'10 Proj: 87G, 38x155 (.245/.328/.381), 4HR, 20RBI, 21R, 37K:17BB
'09 Stat: 102G, 32x132 (.237/.322/.430), 4HR, 16RBI, 17R, 38K:16BB

Hunter Pence
'10 Proj: 155G, 175x601 (.291/.351/.509), 28HR, 89RBI, 85R, 107K:53BB
'09 Stat: 159G, 165x585 (.282/.346/.472), 25HR, 72RBI, 76R, 109K:58BB

Humberto Quintero
'10 Proj: 71G, 43x173 (.249/.286/.358), 3HR, 18RBI, 15R, 30K:7BB
'09 Stat: 60G, 37x157 (.236/.286/.376), 4HR, 14RBI, 11R, 41K:7BB

Miguel Tejada
'10 Proj: 157G, 186x622 (.299/.342/.449), 18HR, 91RBI, 84R, 62K:32BB
'09 Stat: 158G, 199x635 (.313/.340/.455), 14HR, 86RBI, 83R, 48K:19BB

Of course, it's interesting to see Tejada's projections. It's hard to imagine pretty impossible to imagine Tommy Manzella coming close to those numbers.

Some other notes from this:
-Berkman is no longer a .300 hitter.
-Hunter Pence is emerging as maybe the Astros' best #3 hitter.
-Carlos Lee will do what Carlos Lee does
-Jason Castro is projected to be a major upgrade at catcher.

What else do you take?

Pitching projections

Starting Pitching

Quick note. I did not post Russ Ortiz or Mike Hampton's 2010 projections. Why? I think that's pretty obvious.

Roy Oswalt
'10 Proj: 33 starts, 205IP, 159K:48BB, 3.60 ERA/1.28 WHIP
'09 Stat: 30 starts, 181.1IP, 138K:42BB, 4.12 ERA/1.24 WHIP

Wandy Rodriguez
'10 Proj: 33 starts, 212IP, 179K:75BB, 4.12 ERA/1.40 WHIP
'09 Stat: 33 starts, 205.2IP, 193K:63BB, 3.02 ERA/1.24 WHIP

Bud Norris
'10 Proj: 19 starts, 107IP, 104K:50BB, 5.05 ERA/1.66 WHIP
'09 Stat: 10 starts, 55.2IP, 54K:25BB, 4.53 ERA/1.51 WHIP

Brian Moehler
'10 Proj: 30 starts, 163IP, 89K:47BB, 5.08 ERA/1.52 WHIP
'09 Stat: 29 starts, 154.2IP, 91K:51BB, 5.47 ERA/1.54 WHIP

Felipe Paulino
'10 Proj: 24G (24 starts), 130IP, 118K:62BB, 5.19 ERA/1.62 WHIP
'09 Stat: 23G (17 starts), 97.2IP, 93K:37BB, 6.27 ERA/1.67 WHIP

-Wandy is due for a regression back to his pre-2009 numbers.
-After Wandy, Bill James' predictions are iffy, to be complimentary.

Relief Pitching

Alberto Arias
'10 Proj: 33G, 33IP, 24K:14BB, 4.64 ERA/1.61 WHIP (dividing baserunners/9 innings by 9)
'09 Stat: 42G, 45.2IP, 39K:19BB, 3.35 ERA/1.49 WHIP

Yorman Bazardo
'10 Proj: 19G (3 starts), 36IP, 21K:14BB, 5.75 ERA/1.72 WHIP
'09 Stat: 10G (6 starts), 32IP, 17K:22BB, 7.88 ERA/1.84 WHIP

Tim Byrdak
'10 Proj: 85G, 68IP, 67K:37BB, 4.24 ERA/1.45 WHIP
'09 Stat: 76G, 61.1IP, 58K:36BB, 3.23 ERA/1.22 WHIP

Jeff Fulchino
'10 Proj: 73G, 93IP, 71K:41BB, 4.94 ERA/1.60 WHIP
'09 Stat: 61G, 82IP, 71K:27BB, 3.40 ERA/1.18 WHIP

Sam Gervacio
'10 Proj: 56G, 42IP, 49K:18BB, 3.64 ERA/1.33 WHIP
'09 Stat: 29G, 21IP, 25K:8BB, 2.14 ERA/1.14 WHIP

LaTroy Hawkins
'10 Proj: 62G, 63IP, 45K:17BB, 3.29 ERA/1.26 WHIP (0 saves)
'09 Stat: 65G, 63.1IP, 45K:16BB, 2.13 ERA/1.20 WHIP (11 saves)

Chris Sampson
'10 Proj: 32G, 35IP, 18K:7BB, 3.86 ERA/1.31 WHIP
'09 Stat: 49G, 55.1IP, 33K:21BB, 5.04 ERA/1.57 WHIP

Jose Valverde
'10 Proj: 60G, 67IP, 78K:27BB, 3.22 ERA/1.23 WHIP (38 saves)
'09 Stat: 52G, 54IP, 56K:21BB, 2.33 ERA/1.13 WHIP (25 saves)

Wesley Wright
'10 Proj: 53G, 52IP, 56K:33BB, 4.85 ERA/1.61 WHIP
'09 Stat: 49G, 44.2IP, 47K:25BB, 5.44 ERA/1.75 WHIP

What do you take from this?

Saguaros' rally falls short

The Sagauaros scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th, but it just wasn't enough as Surprise won 10-9.

How did our young'uns do?

Jose Vallejo (playing 3B): 0x3, 1BB, RBI sac fly, 1R, 2SBs
Jason Castro: 1x4, BB, RBI
Jon Gaston: 2x4, 3B, R, K

Evan Englebrook: 1.2IP, 4H/4ER, 1K:1BB, 2HR (both 2-run shots), 25/40 pitches for strikes, 2GB:2FB

Rosenthal's assault on the front office's collective manhood continues

In a story on FoxSports by Smilin' Ken Rosenthal on Tony LaRussa's options after 2010, he turns his attention to Manny Acta.

Acta not only is a finalist for the Indians, but also a leading candidate for the Astros. The Indians are not likely to alter their process because of the Astros' interest. But Astros owner Drayton McLane might react to the Indians' pursuit.

He then makes a comparison back to 1994 of the Rangers/Orioles pursuit of Phil Regan.

McLane is the same type of owner that Angelos was then — intrusive, competitive, prone to impulse.

Make no mistake, McLane is calling the shots for the Astros, along with team president Tal Smith. Jim Fregosi, believed to be a preferred candidate of GM Ed Wade, is not even getting an interview.


Melvin likely out; AC's thoughts on managers, in general

JJO's blog post has a few clarifications on this manager search:

Drayton McLane said multiple candidates for the Astros' managerial job were brought in for a second interview on Wednesday. He admitted Manny Acta was one, but McLane said Bob Melvin wasn't brought in...

..."We brought in some others. I don't want to go into details. Some of them I had not met, and we had several discussions. They were kind of brief on me."

I'm of the opinion that unless you interview with Drayton, you're not really going through a managerial interview with the Astros. So those who have made the second round are at least in the door.

Keep in mind, however, that unlike the other candidates, Garner, Clark and Pedrique don't need an introductory second interview with McLane to enter the finals.

On this subject, we got a question in the ol' inbox (

You aren't posting any opinions about who should be the new manager. Why not?

That's one astute observation. But it's true. The reasons I'm not terribly concerned about who the new manager is are these:

-It's kind of a crapshoot. There wasn't anything to indicate that Joe Torre (whose managerial stock is falling slightly since leaving NY) or Tony LaRussa would be a great manager. There also wasn't anything to really suggest Fredi Gonzalez or Don Wakamatsu or Ron Washington would be good managers. And the thing about it is, a manager can be considered Great one year, and lousy the next (see: Garner, Phil). One year ago we all thought Cecil Cooper had done a pretty great job, and look where he was by May. So it's not like measuring a K:BB ratio, or SB%. There aren't any predictors to how well a manager may do.

-If Lance and Roy decide they're going to throw a fit (see: 2009) and pout, and wear t-shirts (which wasn't even funny. I could get on board if they made shirts that were actually funny) wondering if the manager really just did...whatever, then the manager doesn't have a chance. One advantage that the new manager will have is the backing of Ed Wade. Easy Eddie didn't hire Cecil Cooper. And that fact was made obvious. So if/when one of the Veterans decides to act like a 2nd grader at some point next season, it will be interesting to see what effect it has from a personnel standpoint.

So in conclusion, the reason I'm not so hopped up on the managerial search? It's not like a GM search, where you can evaluate trades and drafts. Once the next manager is announced, there will be plenty to go over, but it's hard to just look at some stats and make a PECOTA-style prediction.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Say what? Four finalists leaked.

Mark Berman is reporting (as well as Brian McTaggart) the four finalists for the managerial gig are as follows:

Phil Garner
Dave Clark
Brad Mills
Manny Acta

Acta and Mills were in Houston Wednesday for their second interviews with club officials and that group now includes Astros owner Drayton McLane who had been out of the country.

General Manager Ed Wade confirmed Acta's second interview. He did not confirm Mills was brought back again.

Surprised? I am. I thought Melvin would be in there for sure.

Now this is interesting. Jose de Jesus Ortiz has the following (from before the McTaggart, Berman stories):

Clark, who served as the interim manager for the final 13 games of the season, said he had not heard anything about a possible second interview as of late Wednesday afternoon. Neither had Pedrique, the club’s director of minor league operations.

As of Wednesday night, Acta, former Astros manager Phil Garner and Mills appeared like the front-runners.

Acta going through his own version of Finals Week

Following what was reported to be a 7-hour interview in Cleveland yesterday, popular candidate made the second appearance on his Whistle-Stop Campaign in Houston today.

He's the first known candidate to have a second interview.

Do you think the Astros and Indians are trying to trip him up? He loses five points if he tells Ed Wade that Travis Hafner is due for a resurgence...?

UPDATE: McTaggart has an article up about Acta and this new development.

Acta said he expects a phone call over the weekend informing him whether he's one of the three Houston finalists, but he certainly demonstrated he has a great knowledge of the Astros while meeting with the media.

One of the three finalists, you say?

Honestly. Who wouldn't want this guy to be their manager?

Astros getting some love in Afghanistan

Are you a fan of Astros County on Facebook? I'm still figuring out how best to do something with that (any ideas?). But one of the coolest things I've seen is the following picture, uploaded by Jared Graves, representing the Astros in Afghanistan.

Bray Day: Episode 5

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 week, Aaron will write a column for Astros County detailing his off-season. Check the sidebar for archives.

Astro Fans, Hope all is well. I don't know if many of you are following the playoffs, but there are some wild finishes. Playoff baseball is the best time of the year. My roommate just got done reading to me about Manny taking a shower while the game was going on last night as it looked like the Dodgers had a chance to win. If Manny is involved in the story you know you will get a good laugh out of it. School is going well, before I know it the semester will be over and I will be heading to Florida. Which I cannot wait for.

What was your experience showing up in Greeneville on your first day? What was your transition from "drafted player" to "professional baseball player" like?

I showed up to Greeneville the day before our due date. I went over to the stadium and did not see anyone. I went to our hotel that we were living in and checked in, met two players and then went to my room. I sat in the room all day, watched a storm come right through Greeneville through the window. Around 11 o'clock I turned in and 30 minutes later I was up again, and my roommate (Ryan Humphrey, 15th Round) had arrived. He moved in, then I went back to sleep. I was still excited and nervous at the same time about what the next day would bring.

Well, when I got drafted it was more of a mentality of, "Man, I just got drafted. Not many people get to experience that." The transition went from dream to reality. In the first couple of days when we were there we had meetings with front office personnel. That's when you find out how cut throat this business is. Being drafted is forever, but playing professional baseball as a career is not for everyone.

Hope you all have a great week!!!
Aaron Bray

GCL Astros - Andrea Lucati

Andrea Lucati is a product of the European Baseball Academy, and just finished up his second season in the Astros organization (getting 7IP of work in Greeneville in 2008).

Andrea Lucati
How did he get here?: Signed prior to 2008 season
Stats: 6'3", 247 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 20

On the season: 13 games (5 starts) 1-2, 4.86 ERA/1.92 WHIP, 31K:23BB, .295 against, 3HR


As reliever: 8 games, 1-1, 3.98 ERA/1.67 WHIP, 16K:11BB, .284 BAA, 2HR
As starter: 5 games, 0-1, 6.23 ERA/2.31 WHIP, 15K:12BB, .310 BAA, 1HR

vs. LHB (6IP): 6.00 ERA/3.33 WHIP, 7K:11BB, .321 BAA, 0HR
vs. RHB (27.1IP): 4.61 ERA/1.65 WHIP, 24K:12BB, .288 BAA, 3HR

Home (22.1IP): 2.42 ERA/1.61 WHIP, 23K:16BB, .233 BAA, 1HR
Away (11IP): 9.82 ERA/2.55 WHIP, 8K:7BB, .396 BAA, 2HR

Bases Empty (9.1IP): 3.11 WHIP, 8K:13BB, .348 BAA, 2HR
Runners on (24IP): 1.46 WHIP, 23K:10BB, .269 BAA, 1HR
w/RISP (17.2IP): 1.25 WHIP, 16K:7BB, .224 BAA, 1HR

June (2 games, 5.1IP): 3.38 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 3K:1BB
July (5 games, 13.1IP): 5.40 ERA/2.33 WHIP, 11K:12BB
August (6 games, 14.2IP): 4.91 ERA/1.77 WHIP, 15K:7BB

K/9 Rate: 8.4
BB/9 Rate: 6.2
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.34
K:BB Ratio: 1.35

There are some good things to take away from Lucati's 2009 season. The first thing you might notice is how terrible July was, with a WHIP over 2.00 and more walks than strikeouts. Hitters tagged him for a BAA of .339 in July. But in August, his GB:FB ratio jumped from 1.00 in July to 2.38 in August, and his BAA was .262. We can also look at how effective he was in pressure situations. He had a K:BB ratio over 2.00 with both runners on and in scoring position. He's all over the place (7 HBP, 7 WP), but showed signs of improvement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When you score eight runs in the bottom of the 7th, you expect to win

However, if that's what you expected, you'd be wrong, because the Peoria Saguaros scored six in the top of the 9th for an 11-8 win - their first of the season.

Jose Vallejo was the only position player in the lineup, but he did get his first two hits of the AFL with a 2x5 day, scoring two runs and stealing a base.

Danny Meszaros extended a...uh, rough patch this fall, giving up two earned runs on a homer by Adam Loewen in 0.1IP, and seeing his ERA jump to 20.25.

Chia-Jen Lo, however, recorded his first win of the year, throwing 2IP, 1H/0ER, and striking out two.

GCL Astros - Ricardo Batista

Lefty Ricardo Batista just finished up his second season in the Astros' organization, spending 2008 in the Dominican Summer League, and posting better numbers. Batista was the third and final GCL Astro to appear in 6+ games in which every appearance was a start.

Ricardo Batista
How did he get here?: Signed contract prior to 2008 season
Stats: 6'1", 170 lbs, Throws: Left
Age as of April 1, 2010: 18

On the season: 0-4, 5.97 ERA/1.85 WHIP, 22K:18BB, .326 against, 1HR

vs. LHB (6IP): 6.00 ERA/2.17 WHIP, 8K:6BB, .292 BAA, 0HR
vs. RHB (28.2IP): 5.97 ERA/1.78 WHIP, 14K:12BB, .333 BAA, 1HR

Home (20.2IP): 4.79 ERA/1.74 WHIP, 14K:10BB, .313 BAA, 0HR
Away (14IP): 7.71 ERA/2.00 WHIP, 8K:8BB, .345 BAA, 1HR

Bases Empty (14.1IP): 2.16 WHIP, 11K:12BB, .306 BAA
Runners on (20.1IP): 1.62 WHIP, 11K:6BB, .342 BAA, 1HR
w/RISP (14): 1.36 WHIP, 7K:6BB, .265 BAA

June (1 start, 4IP): 4.50 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 3K:1BB
July (6 starts, 24.2IP): 6.20 ERA/1.82 WHIP, 17K:12BB
August (2 starts, 6IP): 6.00 ERA/2.33 WHIP, 2K:5BB

K/9 Rate: 5.7
BB/9 Rate: 4.7
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 0.73
K:BB Ratio: 1.22

Batista actually calmed those walks down, cutting his BB/9 from 8.4 in 2008 to 4.7 in 2009. This, of course, is still too high. Batista doesn't get many groundballs, airing it out for more flyouts to groundouts, but he keeps the ball in the park - only giving up one homer all season long. This wasn't a great showing, but it's an improvement over 2008. And remember - he was only 17 this year.

Cruz to return

Brian McTaggart is reporting that details are impending, but Jose Cruz will return to the Astros organization in 2010.

UPDATE: Some details have emerged about Cruz' new role.

"I'm going to be with the Astros. I'm going to be working in community relations and public relations. Tal and I have a good relationship, and we talked for about an hour and he's going to get back to me."

Boone to decide next month if he'll retire

In a chat with Newsday's Neil Best, Aaron Boone addressed whether or not he'll retire this off-season:

I don't know. I'm only in the middle of October. I'm just kind of waiting to see. I'll probably make that decision in the next month when I start working out and see how I feel and what's potentially out there. From a heart standpoint, I'm great, all the way back, I would say, and then some. I feel really good. I plan on having a normal offseason physically."

Johjima leaves $16 million on the table, goes back to Japan

It's true. Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima walked out on $16 million to go back to Japan. I'll give any one of you $20 and a box of envelopes to make Kaz Matsui get homesick and do the same.

Lidge for Bourn: Perfect?

Justice's new blog post calls the Brad Lidge-for-Michael Bourn trade "perfect."

Ed Wade made the perfect baseball when he sent Brad Lidge to the Phillies for Michael Bourn two years ago. It's a trade that ought to teach us plenty of lessons about how we have to be careful in assessing trades and people too quickly.

At this time last year, it appeared the Phillies had fleeced Wade. Bourn was coming off a season in which he hit .229 and struck out 111 times. In his defense, he'd had just 594 career ABs and was only 25 years old, but there was nothing in his 2008 performance that indicated what he might do in 2009.

Meanwhile, Brad Lidge had a perfect season for the Phillies in converting 48 consecutive save chances and getting the final out of the 2008 World Series.

While Lidge probably needed a fresh start, Wade didn't appear to have gotten nearly enough for a guy with one of the best arms in baseball. At least that's what we thought after the 2008 season.

What we've since learned about Michael Bourn is that he has toughness and drive and self-confidence that almost all the really good ones have. He believed in himself when almost no one else did...

...Now we can look back on Lidge-for-Bourn and see it as the perfect trade because it helped both teams. Both teams got what they'd hoped to get. The Phillies got someone to take care of the ninth inning, and in the process got a championship out of it. The Astros got a dynamic presence at the top of the lineup. Trades don't turn out this way very often. Pretty cool, huh?

Agree, or disagree?

The reason Mattingly wasn't one of The Ten?

Maybe because he has a job waiting once Joe Torre retires.

Jon Heyman has this:
The Indians and Astros also have openings, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer identified Mattingly as one of at least five candidates currently being considered there. An outside opportunity could solidify his future in L.A., though it doesn't especially sound like it needs solidifying.

Mattingly said he believes Torre when he says he intends to make 2010 his last season managing the Dodgers. "He's not as leverage-the-media guy," Mattingly said. "But nobody knows the future." Mattingly understands the future isn't guaranteed to anyone. But his looks pretty secure in Dodger blue.

And the LA Times is in on it:
Mattingly, 48, is expected to draw the interest of the Indians and perhaps Astros.

Given what has been perceived as the "openness" of the Astros managerial search, saying that Don Mattingly is a candidate is akin to saying the Astros are looking for a hitting coach (they're not. Sean Berry is the hitting coach. Any Rudy J connections would be false, and Heyman's article says the Cubs are about to hire Jaramillo, anyway). Can you imagine the outrage from the Chronicle if the Astros hired someone from outside The Ten?

McTaggart's Q&A with Garner

And from a couple of days ago, McTaggart posted a Q&A with Garner. Some nuggets:

Drayton was not in this process, so I've no conversations with Drayton other than to see him here at the ballpark a few times to chat with him. First and foremost, being fired, there's nothing wrong with that. It happens in baseball a lot. I did not have any ill feelings I do know I've made changes when the club is not going right and in '07 things weren't going right. You have to do things to shake up the ballclub. I don't think Drayton had ill feelings towards me...

...I feel re-energized, I always bring an energy to a ballclub. But I think at this point after being out a little over two years, I'm re-energized and I think that's important to bring a can-do attitude to a ballclub and I can bring that. I'm always upbeat. You guys know that I can see a lot of good things even in a storm. That I can bring to the table: baseball experience and knowledge. I think there's some things that need to be done with this ballclub and for whatever reason I don't think it's where it should be. I think there's going to need to be a tough hand applied, and I think I'm very capable of doing that...

...We weren't playing well in '07 and I think any time your club is playing poorly it's hard to determine if the club's better than you're actually playing or it's about what you have. And so, I'll have to leave it up to the people that are evaluating and some p the personnel they've watched closer than I have the last couple of years. You can always use a year like the Astros have gone through as a good bounce-off point...

...I have not talked to Cecil yet. As a matter of course, I usually wait when things like this happen to good friends, but I will give him a call. I want to check with him and see how he's doing...

...Were we lacking in a team effort? It looked like that at times. I think those things need to be addressed. I don't know if that was a fault of anybody, but that's the way it appeared to me. I think those are the things that would need to be addressed. We need to get back to the team concept. Baseball is unusual from the fact of individuals play to get it done, but you need a team effort and you need to get where you're going. It appeared to me at times we weren't really sure we were playing for a team, for a single goal."

McTaggart breaks down the candidates

In this morning's blog post, Brian McTaggart breaks down the chances of each managerial candidate. Click the link for the full recap, but here are the categories he has assigned:

Bob Melvin
Manny Acta
Phil Garner
Ned Yost

Pete Mackanin
Dave Clark
Brad Mills

Tim Bogar
Randy Ready
Al Pedrique

Hey, that's Brad Horn!

The New York-Penn League held their annual brainstorming session at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where Astros fan (and AC reader) Brad Horn addressed NYPL executives about the NYPL and HOF being "bookends of a baseball career."

So...what happens now?

All ten candidates have interviewed and been bandied about in front of the press. What happens now?

According to JJO, those ten candidates will be trimmed to a list of four and then Run-DMc will be brought in for the second round of interviews.

There's no way of knowing who will be in for the second round of interviews, as Ed Wade said yesterday that basically the next statement to the media will basically be to announce who the next manager is.

If I'm taking a guess at the ten who have come in, my Fave Four would be, in no particular order:

Bob Melvin
Manny Acta
Brad Mills
Tim Bogar


GCL Astros - Euris Quezada

After a short break for the Red River Rivalry, we're back to taking a look back at the GCL Astros starting pitchers...

Euris Quezada
How did he get here?: Signed contract prior to 2009 season
Stats: 6'6", 210 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 20

On the season: 1-7, 6.91 ERA/1.51 WHIP, 27K:14BB, .231 against, 4HR

vs. LHB (14.1IP): 6.91 ERA/1.61 WHIP, 7K:7BB, .258 BAA, 1HR
vs. RHB (27.1IP): 6.91 ERA/1.46 WHIP, 20K:7BB, .280 BAA, 3HR

Home (17IP): 2.12 ERA/0.71 WHIP, 12K:5BB, .119 BAA, 0HR
Away (24.2IP): 10.22 ERA/2.07 WHIP, 15K:9BB, .347 BAA, 4HR

Bases Empty (19.1IP): 1.55 WHIP, 8K:9BB, .236 BAA, 1HR
Runners on (22.1IP): 1.48 WHIP, 19K:5BB, .308 BAA, 3HR
w/RISP (19.2IP): 1.07 WHIP, 4K:6BB, .247 BAA, 2HR

June (1 start, 4IP): 2.25 ERA/1.00 WHIP, 3K:2BB
July (5 starts, 20IP): 7.65 ERA/1.35 WHIP, 11K:6BB
August (6 starts, 17.2IP): 7.13 ERA/1.81 WHIP, 13K:6BB

K/9 Rate: 5.8
BB/9 Rate: 3.0
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 2.72
K:BB Ratio: 1.93

The Home/Away splits are off the charts - with Quezada giving up seven hits in 17IP at home, and 42 hits in 24.2IP on the road, but it's the jump in July and August that are alarming. We're looking at very small sample sizes, so if it's unfair to make any judgments after one short season for hitters, it's certainly unfair to judge a pitcher after 12 starts. However, from July to August, Quezada's BAA jumped from .256 to .306, and that WHIP jumped almost half a baserunner an inning.

Hey, got some stats for you

So we're all familiar with the prospects who are playing Winter Ball, yes? Well, I've got some early returns on stats for you:

Arizona Fall League
Jason Castro: 2x12, .167/.333/.167, 1R, 3K:2BB
Jon Gaston: 1x10, .100/.308/.100, 2R, 7K:3BB, 1SB
Jose Vallejo: 0x4, .000/.000/.000, 3K:0BB

Evan Englebrook: 3IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:0BB, 0.00 ERA/1.00 WHIP
Chia-Jen Lo: 4IP, 1H/0ER, 6K:0BB, 0.00 ERA/0.25 WHIP
Wilton Lopez: 3IP, 4H/0ER, 1K:0BB, 0.00 ERA/1.33 WHIP
Danny Meszaros: 2.1IP, 4H/4ER, 3K:0BB, 15.43 ERA/1.71 WHIP

Dominican Winter League
Yordany Ramirez: 2x7, .286/.286/.429, 1R

Fernando Abad: 4IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:1BB, 0.00 ERA/0.25 WHIP
Erick Abreu: 3IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB, 0.00 ERA/0.67 WHIP
Jose Duran: 1.2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB, 0.00 ERA/0.00 WHIP

Venezuelan Winter League
Wladimir Sutil: 11x29, .379/.406/.483, 0K:1BB, 1SB

Monday, October 19, 2009

New manager search now "private"

Brian McTaggart is reporting that the manager search is now a private matter in an effort to appease the wounded feelings of our targets friends at the Houston Chronicle.

Ed Wade:
"We’ve been open on this thing, but I don’t want it to get to the point of Dancing With the Stars”

Boston interested in signing Tejada?

NESN's John Beattie has some speculation on the future of Miguel Tejada, and he's making a case for Fenway Park:

Based on the depleted inventory of available shortstops, Tejada is the best answer at shortstop for the local nine in 2010. However, at age 35, he's clearly not the long-term solution at a position that has seen a variety of cast members since 2004...

...If this year proved one thing, it's that offense ruled in the American League (see: NYY, LAA) and sticking Tejada's stick into the eighth or ninth slot in an already stout lineup will make hurlers cringe with fear. While the next Johnny, Rico or Nomar isn't walking through that Yawkey Way clubhouse door anytime soon, Tejada may be a reliable option for the time being with a big bat.

Say what you want about the Astros' farm teams, they keep their fields nice.

Back on September 9 it was the Hooks' (and now Express') field manager Garrett Reddehase who won the Texas League's Turf Manager of the Year award.

Today, it's Greeneville's Israel Hinojosa who wins the Appalachian League's Turf Manager of the Year for the second straight year.

Slight problem...

So Manny Acta is one of five finalists for the open Cleveland Indians gig. He'll come back for a second interview with Indians owner Paul Dolan, general manager Mark Shapiro, assistant GM Chris Antonetti and other front-office personnel on Tuesday at Progressive Field on Tuesday.

Says Canadian Press writer
Acta has experience dealing with young players and has been through a rebuilding project before, two attributes that could make him appealing to the Indians. Cleveland is considered to have more talent than Washington and could bounce back next season because it plays in one of baseball's weaker divisions.

So that's it. First round, done.

The Astros have completed the 9th and 10th interviews for the open managerial position, with Tim Bogar and Brad Mills. What did the candidates have to say?

“The big thing was that it wasn’t about me. It’s about this organization and making this organization be the best organization it can be. They want a manager that can kind of fit in with this organization to help it get where it wants to be, and be successful not for one or two years but be a continuation of success down the road. And the one thing that I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in was in Boston where we’ve been in the playoffs for five out of the last six years with two World Series championships and losing the last game of the ALCS one year. That type of experience of being able to work with an organization, being able to work with a community, being able to work with departments in the organization, the minor league department, the scouting, whatever we can to help this organization get where it needs to be.”

“You may say I haven’t been a major league manager, but I managed for 11 years in the minor leagues. Six times going to the playoffs with one championship. I’ve coached now for 11 years at the major league level. And I just ran through the last six years in Boston and (worked) with two separate managers when I was a bench coach in Montreal in 2003. There’s things that I was able to learn from everybody that I’ve been with. I think it’s the next step with the experience that I have.”

"I might be a little prejudice, but I think Terry’s one of the best managers in the game today. He’s one of the best managers. One of the reasons he is, is because his work ethic is second to none. He plans and prepares each day with the players. That’s one of the things I’m going to take with him. His knowledge of the game, the way he manages a game, the way he runs a game, the way he works with the press, the way he works in the community and the way he works with the organizations. Those types of things really make him stand out from other guys that I know or I have seen. Those are all traits that I’ve taken from him and learned from him."

Based on what I've read, here would be my top five to bring back for a second round:
1. Bob Melvin
2. Manny Acta
3. Brad Mills
4. Tim Bogar
5. Phil Garner


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lopez goes for the Saguaros

No position players got in the Saguaros' lineup Wilton Lopez started last night's game against Mesa, a game which saw Mesa score five runs in the 7th inning to win 6-4.

But Lopez - ha!
3IP, 4H/0ER, 1K, 32 of his 46 pitches for strikes, five groundouts to three fly outs.

Justice pimps Garner

In Richard Justice's blog post this morning, he pimps Phil Garner pretty hard:

Now it's Garner's time again. He's the right man for the job. He's not the only right man for the job. Bob Melvin and Manny Acta would be terrific hires. Yet none of them brings the experience and the credibility Garner brings to the job.

He knows the organization, knows the players, knows the owner. He has great, great people skills.

The Astros need someone to straighten out the clubhouse culture. To get Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman to hustle more. To get Berkman to accept a mantle of leadership. To get Roy Oswalt happier. The Astros have lost the concept of team in the post-Bagwell and Biggio era, and Garner would be perfect to help bring it back.

I like how we've all started talking about Berkman and Lee like they aren't here to answer questions like, "Why didn't you hustle more?" "What about accepting leadership scares you?" "Bagwell and Biggio set a great aura around this team. How in the world did you let that completely fade in two years?"

It's not like Berkman and Lee are hibernating, and Justice can't go wake them up or they'll be angry.

Mackanin, Garner interview

Sam Khan's summation of Pete Mackanin and Phil Garner's interviews had some nuggets for us.

Mackanin, who flew in to Houston from LA following the Phillies' 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on Friday:
“I’ve done an awful lot of different things. I’ve been a major league player, a minor league player, I’ve been a minor league manager at every level. I’ve managed in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. I think I have a wealth of experience to bring to the table. With over 40 years in baseball, that’s a lot to draw on. I think the Houston Astros have a pretty darn good team right now. I think with a few ingredients, this team will become very competitive. When (the Phillies) played (the Astros) at the end of this year, I liked what I saw. I liked the energy that the guys played with. Like every team, you just need one or two ingredients that can put you over the top.”

And Garner:
“It was a good start to the process. This is energizing and I’m happy and grateful to be one of these 10 candidates. There are nine other people that are very well-qualified and I think (the Astros) will make some good choices. Getting fired — there’s nothing wrong with that. It happens all the time in baseball. I did not have any ill feelings. You have to change things up when things aren’t going right and in 2007, things weren’t going right. You have to take your individual feelings out of this and get over those things and look at what’s right for the ballclub. If you go back and look at that time, it was probably the right thing to do. I don’t see any problems with that.

“There’s a different scenario now. Maybe it’s a good fit. That’s why I decided to put my name in the hat and see if there’s a fit here. I don’t think what happened in 2007 is going to have anything to do with it. I’m re-energized. That’s important — to bring a can-do attitude to the ballclub. I can see a lot of good things in a storm. I can bring in a lot of baseball experience and knowledge.

"I think there are a lot of things that need to be done with this ballclub and for whatever reason, I don’t think it’s where it should be. I think there’s going to need to be a tough hand applied and I think I’m very capable of doing it — I know I can. I think the players respect that and will appreciate that we need to get on a different path to get back to where we need to be.”

Tim Bogar and Brad Mills will be the last two candidates to interview for the first round.