Saturday, November 7, 2009

GCL Astros - John Frawley

Joining Rorabaugh as an undrafted free agent out of North Florida is that of reliever John Frawley. Frawley wraps up our look at the GCL Astros (as we'll take any players who were promoted with the higher-level team).

John Frawley
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent
Stats: 6'2", 185 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 24

Season line: 2-0, 20IP, 0.90 ERA/0.90 WHIP, 25K:0BB, .243 BAA, 0HR


vs. LHB (3.2IP): 0.00 ERA/0.27 WHIP, 7K:0BB, .077 BAA
vs. RHB (16.1IP): 1.10 ERA/1.04 WHIP, 18K:0BB, .279 BAA

Home (8IP): 1.13 ERA/0.75 WHIP, 8K:0BB, .207 BAA
Away (12IP): 0.75 ERA/1.00 WHIP, 17K:0BB, .267 BAA

Bases Empty (8IP): 1.38 WHIP, 10K:0BB, .306 BAA
Runners on (12IP): 0.58 WHIP, 15K:3BB, .184 BAA
w/RISP (9.2IP): 0.41 WHIP, 13K:0BB, .138 BAA

August (7 games, 20IP): 0.90 ERA/0.90 WHIP, 25K:0BB, .243 BAA

K/9 Rate: 11.2
BB/9 Rate: 0.00
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.58
K:BB Ratio: INF

Talk about an August. Again, I know we're only talking about 20IP, but to come in and not walk anybody, with that K rate, Frawley started his professional career quite nicely. Similar to Rorabaugh, Frawley did his best work with runners on base and in scoring position, posting .184 and .138 BAAs, respectively.

GCL Astros - Philip Rorabaugh

Continuing the review of the GCL Astros is...

Philip Rorabaugh
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent, 2009 (North Florida)
Stats: 6'0", 185 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 23

Season line: 1-1, 34.2IP, 3.89 ERA/1.62 WHIP, 26K:7BB, .318 BAA, 1HR


vs. LHB (12IP): 5.25 ERA/1.42 WHIP, 6K:0BB, .333 BAA
vs. RHB (22.2IP): 3.18 ERA/1.72 WHIP, 20K:7BB, .311 BAA

Home (23.1IP): 1.93 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 18K:2BB, .290 BAA
Away (11.1IP): 7.94 ERA/2.21 WHIP, 8K:5BB, .370 BAA

Bases Empty (12.1IP): 2.19 WHIP, 9K:5BB, .355 BAA
Runners on (22.1IP): 1.30 WHIP, 17K:2BB, .293 BAA
w/RISP (15.1IP): 0.98 WHIP, 12K:0BB, .250 BAA

July (7 games, 18.1IP): 6.38 ERA/1.91 WHIP, 13K:5BB, .345 BAA
August (8 games, 16.1IP): 1.10 ERA/1.29 WHIP, 13K:2BB, .284 BAA

K/9 Rate: 6.8
BB/9 Rate: 1.8
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.35
K:BB Ratio: 3.71

Rorabaugh came on from North Florida as an undrafted free agent in July, and it was a tale of two months for Rorabaugh. July took some settling in, posting that 6.38 ERA. He doesn't walk many batters - obviously - notably not walking any LHBs in his fifteen games. Where he gets in trouble is with hits, and not walks, so that's a pretty good sign as he'll pitch to contact, and it looks as though the balls were just finding holes. A bend-but-not-break pitcers, he had a WHIP under 1.00 with RISP, and didn't issue any walks in that situation. Once those hits come down, it looks like he has the command to advance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Astros were open to playing Miggs at 3B in 2009

Earlier this evening, we learned from Brian McTaggart that, in addition to LaHawk filing for free agency, Miguel Tejada and Aaron Boone joined him in filing those papers.

Now McTaggart tells us that Ed Wade, when asked about Tejada, said:

"At this point, we're prepared to commit to Tommy Manzella playing shortstop. Tommy is ready to play in the big leagues, and we think Miggy is capable of playing third base. That's been discussed last year, and we didn't feel it was right to make the move at that point in time. Blum was playing well at third and did a good job and Miggy was doing well at shortstop. It didn't make sense to walk down that path last year."

Now, apparently, it makes sense. The only problem I see with this is that the Astros have already resigned Blum. And where does Chris Johnson fit in this? Another season at The Rock?

Are you a betting man?

Then stay away from the Astros, who are listed at 75-1 to win the 2010 World Series, along with the Orioles and Padres.

Only the Royals, Pirates, and Nationals have worse odds at 100-1

Astros spent a lot of money, didn't win

Over at the Biz of Baseball, they break down the cost of each marginal win for every team in the League. What do we learn about the Astros? They spent a lot of money, and didn't win a lot of games.

What does this tell us? Basically, the Astros spent the most dollars/win in the NL Central. Only the Mets and Nationals spent more per marginal win in the National League.

What's a marginal win? Click the link for the hard math...

Sporting News' 2010 Power Poll

The World Series ended two days ago. So of course the Sporting News has their 2010 power rankings up already.

Where do the Astros fall? 23rd.

New manager Brad Mills inherits a pitching staff with plenty of problems. Will they add a quality starter and/or replace free-agent closer Jose Valverde?

By the by, the Astros would be 12th in the NL and 5th in the Central.

LaHawk files for free agency

Mark Berman is reporting that LaHawk has officially filed for Free Agency. Apparently, LaHawk has Berman in his cell phone, as the message came via text. Houston has already had several conversations with LaHawk's agent, Larry Reynolds.

"We have indicated to them we would like to have LaTroy back, but there is no time table."

Astros County turns one year old!

So one year ago today, Astros County was birthed. Some stats on the first year:

37,833 hits with 58,563 page views
2,485 posts (213 dealing with Miguel Tejada)

But first, a question for you (for research purposes):

I'm exercising my blogger option for 2010. Let's do it again, shall we?

Houston = Dairy Queen

So the Yankees are making all the rounds, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte appeared on Letterman last night. I didn't see it, because I'm trying to do things like reading for pleasure, and sleeping. Anyhow, the New York Times found this fit to print in a recap of the show, in which Letterman joked to Pettitte:

“Andy, I think you left for three years to go run a Dairy Queen or something."

Aha. Ha.

And New York Magazine has jokes:
So, the immediate news items in the wake of the Yankees' 27th championship on Wednesday night were that manager Joe Girardi will change his uniform number to 28, and that Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada are not the world's most compelling Letterman guests. (Though we did enjoy Dave asking Pettitte if he'd been out "managing a Dairy Queen" for a few years, which isn't that different than playing for the Astros.)

GCL Astros - Spencer Hylander

50th Round draft pick Spencer Hylander - the last player drafted by the Astros in 2009 - put up some pretty impressive numbers in the GCL this season. He's next in our look at Eddie's Farm.

Spencer Hylander
How did he get here?: Drafted, 50th round of 2009 draft
Stats: 6'1", 195 lbs, Throws: Left
Age as of April 1, 2010: 23

Season line: 4-3, 39IP, 3.23 ERA/1.15 WHIP, 26K:9BB, .237 BAA, 1HR


As Reliever (14 games, 34IP): 3.44 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 22K:8BB, .244 BAA, 1HR
As Starter (1 game, 5IP): 1.80 ERA/0.80 WHIP, 4K:1BB, .176 BAA

vs. LHB (8.1IP): 2.16 ERA/0.84 WHIP, 8K:1BB, .194 BAA
vs. RHB (30.2IP): 3.52 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 18K:8BB, .248 BAA

Home (18IP): 3.00 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 15K:5BB, .212 BAA
Away (21IP): 3.43 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 11K:4BB, .256 BAA

Bases Empty (20.1IP): 1.13 WHIP, 15K:6BB, .210 BAA
Runners on (18.2IP): 1.18 WHIP, 11K:3BB, .268 BAA
w/RISP (10IP): 1.20 WHIP, 5K:2BB, .250 BAA

June (2 games, 2.1IP): 3.86 ERA/2.14 WHIP, 1K:3BB, .300 BAA
July (8 games, 23.1IP): 2.70 ERA/0.86 WHIP, 18K:4BB, .188 BAA
August (5 games, 1 start, 13.1IP): 4.05 ERA/1.43 WHIP, 7K:2BB, .298 BAA

K/9 Rate: 6.0
BB/9 Rate: 2.1
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 0.81
K:BB Ratio: 2.89

Hylander threw the fourth-highest number of IP for the GCL Astros, and had the 4th-best ERA among pitchers appearing in 10+ games, and 3rd-best WHIP among the same group. He has the chance to join Danny Meszaros - a 49th round pick - as a rapidly-ascending late-round prospect in the organization, as he had a very strong 2009 campaign. Showing good command with a low walk rate, Hylander's numbers would have been more impressive had it not been for a three-game stretch in late July in which he gave up 7ER in 6IP. Even with those games, he finished out the season with a 3.62 ERA in his last ten games.

Gaston, Vallejo go yard

Despite getting seven RBI from Jon Gaston and Jose Vallejo, the Saguaros lost to Phoenix 12-11 in a thrilla, leaving the tying run on 3rd in the bottom of the 9th.

Vallejo: 4x5, 4 RBI (3-run HR), CS
Gaston: 1x5, 3 RBI (3-run HR), 2K

Danny Meszaros got in the game in the 7th and threw 1IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB, throwing six of his 15 pitches for strikes.

That's a good way to impress the new manager, who was in attendance.

"I would love to repeat what I did last year, but last year is in the past, you can't dwell on it. I would love to have another breakout like last year. Why not me, that's what I say."

And on Vallejo's performance:
"It was phenomenal. It was awesome for him. It's really cool to do it in front of your new manager."

Keep an eye on J.J. Putz

This is another speculative post on behalf of Astros County, but don't sleep on the fact that the Mets just declined J.J. Putz's $9.1mil option for 2010, opting instead to buy him out for $1mil.

Says's Jason Beck:
Putz experienced elbow discomfort in early May and had surgery to remove a bone spur a month later. He tried throwing late in the year, but was ultimately diagnosed with a slight tear in his medial collateral ligament in the same elbow. He's expected to fully recover and be ready to start throwing next month, but even so, the injury worries reportedly were concerning enough for the Mets, who were believed to be hesitant about the 2010 option going into this season.

Beck goes on to say that Putz could be a low-cost option for teams seeking help in the 9th inning in 2010. Hey, you know what? Putz will be 33, he's coming off surgery, and he'll be cheaper than Jose Valverde. Those are perfect conditions for a run by the Astros. Don't sleep on the possibility of Putz in an Astros uniform.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Free Agent Filings

Brian McTaggart is reporting that Darin Erstad, Mike Hampton and Jason Michaels have all officially filed for free agency today.

Free Agent Rankings

Brian McTaggart is reporting that Valverde, LaHawk and Tejada are all listed as Type A Free Agents. Remember, if the Astros offer them arbitration, and they decline, and another team signs them, the Astros would receive a draft pick from that team plus a supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd round.

If the Astros sign a Type A free agent (that has declined arbitration), they would lose a 2nd-round pick as their 1st round pick is protected, because they finished in the bottom 15 of the Major League teams.

As promised, roster tweaking

Alyson Footer tells us that the Astros have purchased the contracts of Fernando Abad and Wladimir Sutil, and have added them to the 40-man roster.

Both players are doing well in Winter Ball.

In the Dominican Winter League, Abad has started three games with a line of:
15IP, 9H/3ER, 9K:4BB, 1.80 ERA/0.87 WHIP, and 3HBPs, with a .180 BAA

And in the Venezuelan Winter League, Sutil is hitting:
16x53 (.302/.321/.358), 3XBH-4RBI, 1K:1BB. Although one walk in 53ABs is a smidge low...

The Astros are saying this rounds out the 40-man roster. And it does, kind of. On the 40-man roster page, there are 37 players (as we noted earlier today). However, this also includes Mike Hampton - whose "**" indicates at the bottom of the page, "Not on 40-man roster." So is it semantics? Sure. Is it contradictory? Sure.

The looming shadow of free agency

Ed Wade is pretty sure that everybody who can file for free agency will do just that.

"At this point, we expect all of them to file and then we'll have to continue the dialogue and see where it leads."

How about some LaHawk info, Eddie?
"We know Hawk likes our situation and we feel he did a tremendous job for us ever since he joined the club, and we'd like to be able to retain him. I wouldn't view anything as close at this point. When you get to this stage of the offseason, it behooves the players to file and see what the market presents to them. Our hope is that we're able to get a number of guys back, including Hawk."

Michaels, naturally, would like a job:
"I would definitely like to return. I really like playing there and I like the direction and what has happened this offseason. It's a great place to play and my wife felt comfortable there."

Wade, on the Big Picture:
"We're of the mind that all of the guys that are eligible are a good fit for us, and we'll sort through that at the proper pace. We're in the stage of the doing workups to determine values. The filing period starts [today] and with the General Managers' Meetings beginning next Monday night, I think it's going to be quiet until you get the full filing period complete and know exactly who's on the market. That will give every ballclub a better idea what potentially might be done from a free-agent standpoint, and once the club has a chance to wrap its arms around what the market is going to be like, then it will create a clearer picture of what you may do from a trade standpoint."

There's no way the Astros can bring everybody back AND give raises to Bourn and Pence, so expect some turmoil and turnover...

It's official: Dewey headed to Tampa Bay

Former pitching coach Dewey Robinson has joined the Rays as minor-league co-pitching coordinator (the other co- is Dick Bosman).

GCL Astros - Carlos Gil

I'm going to try to knock a bunch of these out in the next week, so stay tuned as we wrap up the GCL Astros and move on to the Greeneville Astros. Next up...

Carlos Gil
How did he get here?: Signed contract prior to 2008 season
Stats: 6'4", 175 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 20

Season line: 1-3, 30.1IP, 7.42 ERA/2.08 WHIP, 25K:20BB, .321 BAA, 1HR


vs. LHB (9.1IP): 9.64 ERA/2.25 WHIP, 7K:8BB, .317 BAA, 1HR
vs. RHB (21IP): 6.43 ERA/2.00 WHIP, 18K:12BB, .323 BAA

Home (18.1IP): 7.36 ERA/2.24 WHIP, 18K:14BB, .329 BAA
Away (12IP): 7.50 ERA/1.83 WHIP, 7K:6BB, .308 BAA

Bases Empty (11.1IP): 2.29 WHIP, 14K:13BB, .260 BAA
Runners on (19IP): 1.95 WHIP, 11K:7BB, .357 BAA
w/RISP (11.2IP): 2.31 WHIP, 9K:5BB, .386 BAA

June (2 games, 4.2IP): 0.00 ERA/1.07 WHIP, 7K:1BB, .211 BAA
July (9 games, 15.2IP): 10.34 ERA/2.36 WHIP, 11K:12BB, .355 BAA
August (6 games, 10IP): 6.30 ERA/1.90 WHIP, 7K:7BB, .308 BAA

K/9 Rate: 7.4
BB/9 Rate: 5.9
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.90
K:BB Ratio: 1.25

July was terrible for young Carlos Gil, who is in his second year in the Astros organization. And when we're looking at a sample of 30.1IP, when 15.2 of those innings get away from you, it's going to impact the big picture. There just wasn't a whole lot of improvement from 2008 in the DSL to 2009 in the GCL. Throwing 38IP in 2008, Gil posted a K/9 rate of 5.9 (there's an improvement of 1.5 K/9), but the walk rate rose slightly from 5.7 to 5.9, and Hits/9 rose slightly from 12.6 to 12.8, as well. Gil also hit six batters and threw 10 wild pitches, so combining that with the 20 walks in 30 innings, command should be the order of the off-season.

Capellan FTW

Cap tip to Dominican Baseball Guy for pointing out that Jose Capellan got the win last night for Gigantes, throwing six scoreless innings over Escogido.

Baseless speculation

Hey, remember when the Astros went hard after Jon Garland (which hurt Wittle Andy's feewings, and he pissed off back to NY. Which kind of worked out for him.), and ended up trading for Jason Jennings instead (Which didn't work out. For anyone.)?

Well, any of you Jon Garland To Houston fans who might still be around can rejoice: The Dodgers have declined Garland's 2010 option. He was due to make $10m in 2010, but is now entitled to $2.5m from the Diamondbacks, as they're the ones responsible for his 2009 salary AND the 2010 buyout in the event of a declined option.

Will this affect the Astros' off-season? Doubtful, but still interesting to note, regardless...

The 40-man Roster

As the Astros prepare for next month's Rule 5 draft (which has brought the likes of Wesley Wright and Drew Locke to the organization), the Astros will be examining the 40-man roster. Who's on it now? (Note: * - denotes impending free agency)

Pitchers (17)
Alberto Arias
Yorman Bazardo
Tim Byrdak
Jeff Fulchino
Sam Gervacio
LaTroy Hawkins*
Brad James
Wilton Lopez
Brian Moehler
Bud Norris
Roy Oswalt
Felipe Paulino
Wandy Rodriguez
Chris Sampson
Polin Trinidad
Jose Valverde*
Wesley Wright

Catchers (2)
Humberto Quintero
J.R. Towles

Infielders (10)
Lance Berkman
Geoff Blum
Aaron Boone*
Chris Johnson
Jeff Keppinger
Tommy Manzella
Kaz Matsui
Edwin Maysonet
Miguel Tejada*
Jose Vallejo

Outfielders (8)
Brian Bogusevic
Jason Bourgeois
Michael Bourn
Darin Erstad*
Carlos Lee
Jason Michaels*
Hunter Pence
Yordany Ramirez

Obviously, you add this up and see that there are currently 37 players on the 40-man roster. So there's some tweaking to be done here fairly soon. Anyone surprise you? Anyone you'd like to see added?

The Day After The World Series

I'm always depressed the day after the World Series, because it means that it's five months of hellish, unbearable winter (although this is my first winter in the South after three of them in NY - so maybe I'm overstating) until baseball begins again.

The expanded coverage on the Hot Stove makes it easier to pass the time, and of course we'll be continuing our look at every Astros' minor-leaguer over the next couple of months.

Today is a day for Yankees fans to assert their douchebaggery (seriously, last night I was drafting a congratulatory email to some Yankees fan friends of mine. And then Hal Steinbrenner said, "It's been a while." And I broke out a four-inch long middle finger, with the knuckle shining in the lamplight. And deleted that email.). Okay, there are actually quite a small number of douchebags - but more than one douchenozzle - among the Yankees faithful. Sincerely: congratulations.

Anyhow, today is an important day for free agents of all 30 teams, today marks the beginning of the 15-day free agent filing period. From now until November 20 all free agents file with MLB, and teams have exclusive negotiating rights.

What can we expect from this year's free-agent class?

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti:
"This class to me doesn't have that type of allure to it. It's a thin market in my mind."

The Astros had $31.75 million wrapped up in players who are now free agents in:

Miguel Tejada ($15m)
Jose Valverde ($8m)
LaTroy Hawkins ($3.5m)
Mike Hampton ($2m)
Darin Erstad ($1.75m)
Aaron Boone ($750K)
Jason Michaels ($750K)

Follow Astros County for all your rumors, news, and analysis this off-season

Justice is a man with a plan

Justice turns his attention away from the Texans to chime in with a plan to secure the Astros for future generations:

-Give GM Ed Wade a five-year extension and give him the freedom to reshape the roster and the organization. If there's any doubt he knows what he's doing, check out the 2008-2009 Phillies. Ed Wade acquired the core of those teams.

-Tear up Brad Mills' two-year contract and give him a five-year deal.

-Give scouting director Bobby Heck a five-year contract and make him baseball's highest-paid at his position.

-Go back to Temple and let these guys do their job. Telephone Tal Smith and Ed Wade three times a day. Show up for news conferences and speeches. But, give them some freedom to succeed and to fail.

I'm fine with, and in favor of, Ed Wade and Bobby Heck being given an extension. And while I support the Brad Mills hiring, let's hold off on his extension. Preemptively handing out extensions has been something of a problem in the recent past for the Astros. Let's give him some time to see how he does, and then we can talk about extensions.

Best. Prediction. Ever.

Maybe that's an overstatement, but it was a prediction that, at the time, seemed silly. And he even backed it up with a promise. On March 30, Brian McTaggart said the following:

If the Yankees don't win the World Series, I'll eat a bug.

Let's all take a moment, and applaud.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reflexology: Kaz Matsui

"Reflexology" is a new series we're unveiling here at Astros County in which we take a look at the immediate comments and reactions to significant moves within the Astros' organization. It actually came out of a Twitter exchange with Zach Levine in which he linked to the Chronicle's story on the December 2007 signing of Kaz Matsui. So let's look at the comments left on the Chronicle's article:

Junction Jack
So Wade coughed up an additional .5 mil a year for this guy? Amazing... An injury prone 32 y.o. who has not played more than 114 games in his 4 MLB seasons and who has a lifetime .325 OBP and a .249 BA/.304 OBP away from Coors last year. How on earth does one see this guy as a starting 2nd basemen or a fit for the #2 hole? At his age, are we to believe that this guy will suddenly stay healthy and match his glory days in Japan? Maybe somehow this will work out....but based on age and MLB performance this signing looks awful. Burke was horrid last year, but at 5 years younger and 5ml less per year, he would be a much more cost effective low risk option. But yet another shuffling of the deck that has not made the team any better- maybe even worse. With the closer hole in the pen that Wade created when he traded for an unproven CF / leadoff hitter, this team is still currently worse than before all of these moves.

3 more moves left and i think most everyone in Houston will be impressed with Wade. Find a closer, add one quality starting pitcher, and work something to get a offense bat at short or third(still hope for Tejada). I think a good job so far.

i like this move. maybe not the best move possible but def an upgrade over what we were gonna have. like the possible trade moves it opens too. i say give the closer job to sarfate and let his 100 mph dominate. this next trade move will be the biggest for mr wade. we have to get some good quality for us to be more than a contender in the wild card

The ironically named Genius
I was tired of waiting for Burke to do something. I like this new second baseman and what he does for our lineup.

BAD MOVE. Matsui's lifetime OBP is .325. Ausmus's lifetime OBP is .326.Enough said.

Maybe Wade can find a semi-washed up shortstop to overpay so we can have a complementary infield. Oops we all ready have one. And then, maybe seeing these speed guys running hard back to the dugout will motivate Lance and Carlos.

I'm very excited about Matsui. He will be a big improvement over what we've been getting the last couple years at 2nd on both sides of the ball. If we could resign Loretta we would have a solid backup at all infield positions...he could spell Matsui against tough lefties.

This guy has never played more than 114 games in a year. And the only time he did that was his rookie year 4 years ago. So if the trend stays true we will have the our second stringer playing at least half of the games. How does Ed Wade expect that to get better with age?If you don't count his rookie year (50) Biggio AVERAGED 152 games a year. Four times he played all 162 and two other years he played 160. Burke has proven he can produce in pressure situations, his work ethic and training is unquestioned and he is 6 years younger than Kaz. Typically players get better defensively (Biggio's best stats were years 8-11) with consistent playing time.Kaz= aging, known back problems, never played a full year, Burke= young, proven producer, best years yet to come..............Another Former Astro doing somebody else a whole lotta good! Ed's not off to a good start.

Okay. Now the staff has been finalized

The Astros have hired Jamie Quirk as the bullpen coach. Alyson Footer notes that he spent 2009 as a scout for the Reds, and 2003-2008 as the Rockies' bench coach.

525 of Quirk's 741 career starts in the field were at catcher as he spent parts of 18 seasons with the Royals, Cardinals, White Sox, Indians, Yankees, A's, and Orioles.

"Jamie has a wealth of experience and comes highly recommended...He had a long playing career and spent 15 seasons as a Major League coach. He’s another solid addition to our staff."

Brad Mills:
"I'm excited to add such an experienced and knowledgeable coach like Jamie. He'll bring a lot to our club. Overall, I feel we have an outstanding big league coaching staff."

Let the ropes courses begin

Brad Mills headed to Phoenix with a group of the Astros' front-office to take care of some business.

What's on deck? Who will be the bullpen coach? Wade:
"There are different schools of thought. Does it make more sense for that individual to be a former catcher, so he can give catching instruction along the way, or is having a former pitcher more effective? We have some really strong candidates. Several guys who have extensive playing experience and coaching experience are available right now. We'll get as much background information as we can to make the right decision. Ultimately, it's up to Millsie to have a comfort level with the individual."

Also, it's a chance for Brad Mills to get to know the brain trust:
Mills used the opportunity to familiarize himself with his staff, which includes bench coach Al Pedrique, hitting coach Sean Berry, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, third-base coach Dave Clark and first-base coach Bobby Meacham. General manager Ed Wade; assistant general managers Ricky Bennett, David Gottfried and Bobby Heck; special adviser Matt Galante; and national cross-checker David Post were also in Arizona.

"It was a chance for Brad [Mills], particularly, to get together those guys, and we had a chance to sit down as a group earlier today and talk about the club a little bit and some of the processes and procedures that Millsie is expected to follow when Spring Training begins," Wade said. "It was more a get-acquainted meeting more than anything."

And the Astros are preparing for the November 20 deadline to set the 40-man roster for the December Rule 5 draft.

"We're going to be out there and be aggressive as we can, and it should be a strong group of guys. Before you know it, we'll be into the Major League filing period and the General Managers' Meetings and Winter Meetings and a chance to talk about trades."

The GM Meetings will be held next week in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ricky Bennett on the AFL participants

Brian McTaggart's blog post has comments from Ricky Bennett on the Astros in the Arizona Fall League. And they are:

On Evan Englebrook:
"He continues to improve. The one thing we like about him is his ability to throw down hill. He creates a good arm angle. He's velocity has been up. He's been sitting at 92 to 97 [mph], which is good. He's a big, tall guy and his mechanics can get out of whack, but he's showing more consistency and more velocity. He's a late-bloomer."

On C-Lo:
"He did pretty well. Our reports were all good. He continues to throw the ball well and pitch well. He's really focused on using his breaking ball a lot more and has made progress with it. It's not where it needs to be, but he's starting to show more confidence and the ability to throw it for strikes. If he continues that focus, hopefully he comes into camp ready to pick up where he left off."

On Wilton Lopez:
"He's starting to become a lot more consistent with his arm slot and his breaking ball is more consistent, and that's due to a higher arm slot. That's something we've worked on since we signed him. He continues to work hard and make adjustments. It's just a matter of getting him some mound time."

On Danny Meszaros:
"We're not necessarily working on anything in particular in terms of mechanics. We just are trying to get him to have better command more than anything else. He pitches late in games and needs to get his command of his fastball down more consistently and use his breaking ball the same way."

On Jason Castro:
"He's doing fine. He's not tearing it up numbers-wise by any means, but he continues to work well with pitchers. I got a reporter from David Bell, the manager, who said he's receiving the ball well and could improve slightly on fastballs down in the zone. He has an excellent idea of calling a game and is throwing well and understands how to play the game the right way."

On Jose Vallejo:
"He's doing OK. He's staying on the ball better and his defense has been solid. He has good range, soft hands and an accurate arm. He's a second baseman, but has had to play a little third base because of the makeup of the roster. He's very athletic and plays hard. He's been pulling off the ball, but lately he's been trying to stay on the ball and use the whole field."

On Jon Gaston:
He got off to a little bit of a slow start, and a lot of it is just timing. He had timing issues during the season and would get in longer slumps. He wouldn't be aggressive and we kind of saw that when he first went out there. It took him some time to get his feet under him, but he has been swinging the bat better lately. He hit a grand slam a few games ago and that got him back on track. He's hitting for power and taking his walks, but he still strikes out a little too much for us, and that's something we have to address. He can play all three outfield position and is a gamer."

Bringing up Hunter Pence

On April 27, 2007 the Astros had just lost their seventh straight game to watch their 1/2-game lead vanish to a 5-game deficit. And on April 27, 2007 Phil Garner had Chris Burke in CF and Jason Lane in RF, and they were hitting .219 and .220, respectively. So the Astros called up a young Hunter Pence, who was raking in Round Rock. Astros County remembers this day, and Astros County rejoiced. But it wasn't an entirely popular decision.

The article from Alyson Footer said:
It took only 22 games -- and one very deflating seven-game losing streak -- for the Houston Astros to begin shaking up the team with hopes that a change of inventory may provide a boost in the win-loss column.

Following a 4-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, general manager Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner announced that they made two roster moves and one internal adjustment. They purchased the contract of outfielder Hunter Pence from Triple-A Round Rock, designated left-hander Stephen Randolph for assignment and informed Chris Burke that he was no longer the starting center fielder and instead would be used in a utility role.

Pence will not just be in uniform for Saturday's game. He's going to start in center, indefinitely.

"We've got to find a way to get the offense rolling. We're getting the hits but not driving in the runs. Hunter's a kid who we really hope can help us with that. It's certainly asking a lot. But all the returns from Round Rock have been very postitive. We feel very good about this player. We feel like he can come up here and give us some energy."

"I think Hunter Pence deserves to play in the big leagues. He's got a bright future. I think he's very talented, and I don't object to them calling him up to try to spark us. But I think it's unfair to Chris. I think it sends the wrong message to the team that there's something drastic that needs to be fixed. I don't like it. If you're going to put Chris Burke on the bench, I think it's a horrible move. You have to let a guy settle in a little bit. Look at me, I'm hitting .200. Does that mean I'm going to end up hitting .230? Absolutely not. As an organization, you have to identify your talent and say, 'We believe in this guy,' and then give him a chance to play. Seventy at-bats is not a chance. That's a very, very small sliver of the season. Nothing against Hunter. I think he deserves to be here. I think he's going to do great when he gets a chance. But then my question is, what if Hunter comes up and struggles after 60 or 70 at-bats? Then you've got two guys thinking, 'What's going on here -- do I belong in this organization?' and that sort of thing. I don't think that's the right move, putting Chris on the bench."

"The thing is we don't need a bat. We're just not hitting. But when you're not hitting, you try to find an answer. Hunter Pence is a very high-ceiling young player. He could maybe inject some energy into the lineup. We'll see."

"We're gong to put [Pence] in center field and let him play and see what happens. But we've got a bunch of guys up and down the lineup -- we've had base hits and done some nice things. We just haven't put things together. We have to find something that's going to click."

Pence and the Astros went 11-7 until the Rangers came to town, which started a 1-11 spiral that effectively ended the Astros' chances in 2007, never getting within five games of the division lead after May 19. In those games Pence hit .356/.397/.644 to firmly establish himself as an everyday outfielder.

But the long-term financial impact of this decision will be felt this off-season, because by calling Pence up on April 28, 2007 he will qualify as a Super Two player.

What the heck is a Super Two player? According to the MLBPA, a Super Two is a player with more than two years, but less than three years, of days served on an active Major League roster. What's the distinction? A player with two years + 86 days of service are eligible, and the 17% of those players with the most service time are considered Super Twos.

What's the advantage? They get to go to arbitration four times, as opposed to three times. And that means an extra year of $Big, and not signing for the league minimum, or close to it (Pence made $439,000 in 2009).

So when Hunter Pence started in center field on April 28, 2007, his service time clock started running, and to date he has accumulated 2 years and 156 days of service time.

If the Astros wanted to avoid the extra pay day, they should have waited to call him up until July 8, as it would have been 85 days until the end of the season, one day short of the requirement for Super Two status.

But they didn't.

So Pence will go to arbitration a fourth time before he's eligible for free agency, as no Super Two has accumulated less than 130 days of service in that extra year since 2007.

No doubt that Pence's time in Houston in 2007 established his career and gave him the basis for successful 2008 and 2009 seasons - but was it worth an extra $3-5 million?

Update: And the answer can be, "Yep."

Winter Ball stats

Got some more Winter Ball stats for you...

Arizona Fall League

Jason Castro: 6x38 (.158/.283/.237), 1XBH-4RBI, 10K:6BB
Jon Gaston: 12x49 (.245/.383/.490), 6XBH-10RBI, 22K:10BB
Jose Vallejo: 3x25 (.120/.233/.120), 0XBH-1RBI, 6K:4BB

Evan Englebrook: 7.2IP, 11H/5ER, 5.87 ERA/1.70 WHIP, 8K:2BB
Chia-Jen Lo: 10.1IP, 7H/4ER, 3.48 ERA/0.87 WHIP, 12K:2BB
Wilton Lopez: 10IP, 10H/2ER, 1.80 ERA/1.10 WHIP, 6K:1BB
Danny Meszaros: 5.2IP, 6H/6ER, 9.53 ERA/1.41 WHIP, 8K:2BB

Dominican Winter League

Marcos Cabral: 1x8 (.125/.125/.125), 0XBH-2RBI, 0K:0BB
Jhon Florentino: 1x4 (.250/.250/.250), 0XBH-0RBI, 1K:0BB
Yordany Ramirez: 6x33 (.182/.206/.303), 2XBH-2RBI, 6K:1BB

Fernando Abad: 3 starts, 15IP, 9H/3ER, 1.80 ERA/0.87 WHIP, 9K:4BB
Erick Abreu: 2 games, 4.1IP, 4H/1ER, 2.08 ERA/1.38 WHIP, 5K:2BB
Jose Capellan: 6 starts, 23IP, 36H/12ER, 4.70 ERA/1.96 WHIP, 16K:9BB
Sam Gervacio: 2 games, 1.2IP, 0H/0ER, 0.00 ERA/0.60 WHIP, 1K:1BB
Polin Trinidad: 2 games, 1IP, 0H/0ER, 0.00 ERA/0.00 WHIP, 2K:0BB
Wesley Wright: 2 starts, 10.2IP, 8H/2ER, 1.69 ERA/1.41 WHIP, 13K:7BB

Venezuelan Winter League

Drew Locke: 5x23 (.217/.250/.435), 3XBH-4RBI, 7K:1BB
Wladimir Sutil: 15x49 (.306/.327/.367), 3XBH-4RBI, 1K:1BB

GCL Astros - Rafael Luna

Like Pio, reliever Rafael Luna got into 17 games in 2009. But he didn't fare as well...

Rafael Luna
How did he get here?: Signed contract prior to 2007 season
Stats: 6'6", 175 lbs, Throws: Lefty
Age as of April 1, 2010: 20

Season line: 0-3, 30.2IP, 5.87 ERA/2.02 WHIP, 24K:21BB, .325 BAA, 2HR


vs. LHB (4.2IP): 3.86 ERA/1.71 WHIP, 5K:1BB, .318 BAA
vs. RHB (26IP): 6.23 ERA/2.08 WHIP, 19K:20BB, .327 BAA

Home (13.2IP): 3.29 ERA/1.61 WHIP, 8K:8BB, .264 BAA
Away (17IP): 7.94 ERA/2.35 WHIP, 16K:13BB, .370 BAA

Bases Empty (13IP): 1.69 WHIP, 12K:9BB, .232 BAA
Runners on (17.2IP): 2.26 WHIP, 12K:12BB, .400 BAA
w/RISP (12.2IP): 2.45 WHIP, 8K:10BB, .429 BAA

June (3 games, 5IP): 3.60 ERA/2.60 WHIP, 4K:5BB, .364 BAA
July (7 games, 12IP): 7.50 ERA/2.33 WHIP, 9K:9BB, .352 BAA
August (7 games, 13.2IP): 5.27 ERA/1.54 WHIP, 11K:7BB, .280 BAA

K/9 Rate: 7.0
BB/9 Rate: 6.2
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 0.88
K:BB Ratio: 1.14

Obviously the walks are a problem for Luna, as well as the hits. So that's a problem for a reliever. And it only gets worse as the situation intensifies (.232 BAA with the bases empty, .400 with runners on). However, there is room for encouragement, as in August Luna posted his first right-side-up K:BB ratio, a WHIP under 2.00, and a BAA under .300.

GCL Astros - Rafael Pio

We start in on the relievers for the GCL Astros - and first up is the reliever with the highest workload (and 2nd highest IP on the team, behind Juan Minaya) - Rafael Pio.

Rafael Pio
How did he get here?: Signed contract prior to 2006 season
Stats: 6'3", 210 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 22

Season line: 1-4, 43.1IP, 3.12 ERA/0.99 WHIP, 41K:10BB, .205 BAA, 1HR


vs. LHB (10.2IP): 2.53 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 7K:3BB, .238 BAA, 1HR
vs. RHB (32.2IP): 3.31 ERA/0.92 WHIP, 34K:7BB, .193 BAA

Home (19.2IP): 4.12 ERA/1.17 WHIP, 18K:6BB, .227 BAA
Away (23.2IP): 2.28 ERA/0.85 WHIP, 23K:4BB, .186 BAA

Bases Empty (24.2IP): 0.89 WHIP, 21K:5BB, .183 BAA
Runners on (18.2IP): 1.12 WHIP, 20K:5BB, .235 BAA
w/RISP (14.2IP): 1.09 WHIP, 16K:5BB, .212 BAA

June (2 games, 6.2IP): 2.70 ERA/0.60 WHIP, 4K:2BB
July (9 games, 20.2IP): 2.61 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 24K:7BB
August (6 games, 16IP): 3.94 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 13K:1BB

K/9 Rate: 8.5
BB/9 Rate: 2.1
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.32
K:BB Ratio: 4.10

This is also Pio's fourth season in the Astros' organization, and his first in the States, but this was a breakout year for him. Coming off a 2008 DSL season in which he threw 49 innings with a 4.96 ERA/1.39 WHIP, Pio dropped his hits/9 (7.7 to 6.9), his walks/9 (4.8 to 2.1), and increased his K/9 (6.4 to 8.5). His command was much better, throwing just two wild pitches - compared to eight in 2008. He'll be 22 on Opening Day 2010, so he'll hopefully be in Greeneville, or even Tri-City.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How much credit can Ed Wade get for the 2008/2009 Phillies?

So I got to wondering, just how much credit can be given to Ed Wade for the Phillies' recent string of success? After all, Wade was at the helm of the Phillies from March 1998 - October 2005. Can he get any love?

Let's look at the roster from the 2008 Phillies, and see how they got there...

C - Carlos Ruiz
Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent, December 1998

1B - Ryan Howard
5th round draft pick, 2001

2B - Chase Utley
1st round draft pick, 2000

3B - Pedro Feliz
Signed as free agent, 2008

SS - Jimmy Rollins
2nd round draft pick, 1996

LF - Pat Burrell
1st round draft pick, 1998

CF - Shane Victorino
Rule 5 draft pick, 2004

RF - Jayson Werth
Signed as free agent, 2006

Okay. Let's stop there for a second. Of the everyday position players, Wade was in charge of the team when six of them were brought on to the Phillies - Feliz and Werth joining after Wade had been fired.

SP - Cole Hamels
1st round draft pick, 2002

SP - Jamie Moyer
Traded by Seattle, August 2006

SP - Brett Myers
1st round draft pick, 1999

SP - Kyle Kendrick
7th round draft pick, 2003

SP - Adam Eaton
Signed as free agent, November 2006

SP - Joe Blanton
Traded by Oakland, July 2008

RP - Brad Lidge
Traded by Houston, November 2007

RP - Chad Durbin
Signed as free agent, December 2007

RP - Ryan Madson
9th round draft pick, 1998

RP - Clay Condrey
Sent to Phillies by Padres as part of a conditional deal, 2004

RP - J.C. Romero
Signed as free agent, June 2007

RP - Rudy Seanez
Signed as free agent, March 2008

RP - Tom Gordon
Signed as free agent, December 2005

Alright. So among the pitching staff, only five pitchers came to the Phillies under Wade's tenure (and you can make the hilarious argument that Wade brought Lidge to Philadelphia. So. Kind of, six.) But those five pitchers were Hamels, Myers, Kendrick, and Eaton. And they combined to go 7-1 in the 2008 postseason.

How does this make you feel?

Castro named to AFL Rising Stars roster

The Fourth Annual AFL Rising Stars game will be held on Saturday, and the rosters have been announced, and Jason Castro is your lone Astro prospect to be named.

Recapping Astros County's interviews

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Astros County, so we're doing some recapping as there's not a whole lot going on right now. Let's take a look back at the interviews Astros County has conducted over the past year (and send an email with any interviews you'd like to see...)

Nov 25, 2008: Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton (on Tyler Lumsden)

Jan 3, 2009: Alyson Footer

Feb 2, 2009: C70 at the Bat

Mar 24, 2009: Unofficial Official

Apr 7, 2009: Brian McTaggart

May 26, 2009: Lancaster's Director of Broadcasting, Jeff Lasky

June 26, 2009: Detroit's Director of International & Professional Scouting, Tom Moore

July 15, 2009: ESPN's Robert Flores

Aug 17, 2009: Corpus Christi Caller-Times' Greg Rajan

Sept 3, 2009: Baseball Hall of Fame's Senior Director of Communication and Education, Brad Horn

Bray Day - Episode 7

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.

Hello everyone,
Sitting here watching this World Series game 4. It still has potential to be a very very good series. A lot of moves have been made in the last couple of days for the organization, I can't wait to get to spring training and get to work. I hope everyone had a good Halloween, mine was a little wet but I had fun. Hope everyone has a great week. The Holidays are around the corner.

Today's question comes from Citizen Street:
Which Greeneville pitcher had the best "stuff" this season, and why?

I would have to say the guy on our team with the best stuff was Juri Perez. He had command of everything and worked at a good pace. He threw his off-speed well, not a lot of people can do that. He threw hard and painted on the corners. Along with good stuff, he used his head when he pitched, he was smart. That is the most important thing to do as a pitcher.

And a follow-up question from me, as a former History major:
Are you taking any history classes?

Yes I am. The majority of my class load are History classes. History of Rome, Caribbean History and Latin American History are the classes I am taking. They are tough classes but I need to get them done to finish the degree. I don't know if I mentioned it, but History is the only class I can pay attention to.

Thanks for taking your time out to read this fans I appreciate it.

Got a question for Aaron Bray? Send it to

GCL Astros - German Perez & Raul Rivera

Cleaning up a little bit of the part-time starters/part-time relievers from the GCL Astros before we get into the full-time relievers, we'll hit up German Perez and Raul Rivera...

German Perez
How did he get here?: Signed contract prior to 2006 season
Stats: 5'11", 147 lbs, Throws: Lefty
Age as of April 1, 2010: 20

Cumulative line: 0-3, 14.1IP, 6.91 ERA/1.88 WHIP, 9K:9BB, .333 BAA, 0HR


as Starter (12.1IP), 8.03 ERA/2.03 WHIP, 4K:9BB, .356 BAA
as Reliever (2IP), 0.00 ERA/1.00 WHIP, 5K:0BB, .222 BAA

vs. LHB (3.1IP): 5.40 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 3K:2BB, .167 BAA
vs. RHB (11IP): 7.36 ERA/2.09 WHIP, 6K:7BB, .381 BAA

Home (6.1IP): 9.95 ERA/2.05 WHIP, 2K:5BB, .348 BAA
Away (8IP): 4.50 ERA/1.75 WHIP, 7K:4BB, .323 BAA

Bases Empty (9IP): 2.22 WHIP, 7K:10BB, .256 BAA
Runners on (12.2IP): 1.58 WHIP, 6K:3BB, .362 BAA
w/RISP (6.1IP): 2.05 WHIP, 3K:2BB, .407 BAA

August (6 games, 4 starts, 14.1IP): 6.91 ERA/1.88 WHIP, 9K:9BB

K/9 Rate: 5.7
BB/9 Rate: 5.7
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.38
K:BB Ratio: 1.00

Why look at a pitcher who only threw in six games in August for the GCL team? Because 2009 was Perez' 4th season in the Astros' organization, having spent 2006-2008 in the Astros' Venezuelan Summer League. Perez signed as a 16-year old, so he's still a younger guy. But 2007 was his most promising year, going 7-1 in 13 starts with 54K in 69.2IP, 2.07 ERA/1.11 WHIP. Since then, he's pitched in 15 games (7 starts) and totalled 40IP. Walks are up, Ks are down, but this was Perez' first season in the States.

Raul Rivera
How did he get here?: Drafted 37th round, 2009 draft
Stats: 6'3", 185 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 19

Cumulative line: 0-2, 15IP, 6.60 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 9K:3BB, .298 BAA, 2HR


as Starter (10.2IP), 4.22 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 6K:2BB, .237 BAA
as Reliever (4.1IP), 12.46 ERA/2.08 WHIP, 3K:1BB, .421 BAA

vs. LHB (5.1IP): 6.75 ERA/1.50 WHIP, 3K:3BB, .263 BAA, 1HR
vs. RHB (9.2IP): 6.52 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 6K:0BB, .316 BAA, 1HR

Home (10.2IP): 8.44 ERA/1.41 WHIP, 6K:2BB, .317 BAA
Away (4.1IP): 2.08 ERA/1.15 WHIP, 3K:1BB, .250 BAA

Bases Empty (9.2IP): 1.24 WHIP, 7K:2BB, .298 BAA
Runners on (5.1IP): 1.50 WHIP, 2K:1BB, .368 BAA
w/RISP (3.1IP): 1.50 WHIP, 2K:1BB, .364 BAA

August (4 games): 6.60 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 9K:3BB

K/9 Rate: 5.4
BB/9 Rate: 1.8
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 4.83
K:BB Ratio: 3.00

Rivera signed late, and only pitched in four games in August. That he spent one game as a reliever is a little misleading, as he threw 4.1IP in that one game.

GCL Astros - Mark Jones

Mark Jones got four starts for the GCL Astros this season and appeared in nine games as a reliever - a role in which he thrived, at least this season. Let's take us a look:

Mark Jones
How did he get here?: Drafted 22nd round, 2009 draft
Stats: 6'7", 205 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 19

Cumulative line: 1-2, 21.2IP, 4.57 ERA/1.85 WHIP, 13K:13BB, .314 BAA, 0HR


as Starter (6.1IP), 11.37 ERA/2.53 WHIP, 6K:4BB, .375 BAA
as Reliever (15.1IP), 1.76 ERA/1.57 WHIP, 7K:9BB, .278 BAA

vs. LHB (6.2IP): 2.70 ERA/1.05 WHIP, 4K:4BB, .143 BAA
vs. RHB (15IP): 5.40 ERA/2.20 WHIP, 9K:9BB, .369 BAA

Home (14IP): 2.57 ERA/1.71 WHIP, 8K:7BB, .315 BAA
Away (7.2IP): 8.22 ERA/2.09 WHIP, 5K:6BB, .313 BAA

Bases Empty (9IP): 2.22 WHIP, 7K:10BB, .256 BAA
Runners on (12.2IP): 1.58 WHIP, 6K:3BB, .362 BAA
w/RISP (6.1IP): 2.05 WHIP, 3K:2BB, .407 BAA

June (1 start, 0.2IP): 0.00 ERA/1.50 WHIP, 1K:1BB
July (6 games, 3 starts, 9.2IP): 9.31 ERA/2.59 WHIP, 7K:6BB
August (6 games): 0.79 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 5K:6BB

K/9 Rate: 5.4
BB/9 Rate: 5.4
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.55
K:BB Ratio: 1.00

Jones had a rough July, so when you have one bad month and only pitch in 22+ innings, it's going to skew the numbers, and it won't be pretty. And Jones' July wasn't pretty. What is encouraging is the low ERA/WHIP once he settled into that reliever role in August. The walks will need to come down, but his groundout ratio is encouraging, and he didn't give up a homer all season long.

Levine catches up with Jiovanni Mier

Zach Levine has a new blog post up, and he chats with Baseball America's Top Defensive Player (from the '09 draft class), and the second-ranked Appalachian League prospect.

Right now, Mier is resting back in Southern California and working out with a few fellow 2009 draftees trying to get hit body in shape for the 2010 season. In the one time we met in person, he struck me as having the ability to put on some weight, so I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a little more of Mier in the years to come.

Next season, Mier's workplace isn't clear but will probably be Class A Lexington.

"It's still a little early to tell," Bennett said. "I think it's unrealistic to see him starting in Lancaster. But given his progress and his makeup, I don't think there's any reason why he wouldn't start in Lexington."

Skipping Tri-City probably isn't going to make fans in the Capital District too happy, seeing as how there have been complaints about the quality of the product on the field. But Bennett and Wade have promised to be more aggressive in the promotion of prospects, and right now are sticking to that promise.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Unrest in Toronto clubhouse brought Arnsberg to Toronto, and Jays fans ain't happy...

As was alluded to in the previous post, I'm hoping to get a personal note from the Toronto members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (of which Astros County is a part) to get some reaction on the Arnsberg move, but some early reaction indicates what's going down.

The Toronto Star:
The fact the Jays would allow Halladay's best friend in the clubhouse, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, to seek the same job with another team solidifies the belief the Jays plan to trade their ace. While Anthopoulos claimed Friday he did not tell Arnsberg to look for a job, that the Astros called him asking for permission to talk, Houston's GM Ed Wade had a different view on how the Arnsberg deal came about.

"We were really excited when we found out he was available," Wade said. "There were some unresolved issues, and they gave him a chance to go out and look around, and he very quickly moved up to the top of our list."

That sounds far different than the scenario described by the Jays. The fact is, when Gaston was asked Saturday about his personal relationship with Arnsberg, he skated around it as gracefully as Tie Domi on Battle of the Blades.

"He was always sitting talking with Halladay," Gaston said. "Arnie was a hard worker, but I didn't have as much (of a relationship) with Brad as the other (Jays) pitching coaches (I've worked with)."

The Vancouver Sun:
In a conference call Saturday, Gaston used oblique language to confirm his uneasy relationship with Arnsberg. While acknowledging that Arnsberg worked hard and “did his job,” Gaston stopped well short of a ringing endorsement.

“A lot of times I didn’t have much with him as far as I did with the other pitching coaches (on his previous staffs). . . . He probably sees that if I’m going to be here one more year, he’s looking for more than that,” Gaston said. “He’s close to home (in Texas) and I’m pretty sure he’ll do a good job down there in Houston...”

...Arnsberg had a close personal and professional relationship with his pitching staff, especially Roy (Doc) Halladay. He had also earned abiding respect from previous skipper John Gibbons.

But Arnsberg and Gaston never had the same rapport...

...Gaston and Arnsberg were rarely seen in conversation, even in the dugout during games. In an ambiguous comment Saturday, Gaston said Arnsberg “would pretty much sit down with Doc most of the time.”

Bluebird Banter:

So, basically, we have traded the best pitching coach in baseball for one year of Cito. One year. A year that should be a building year. So if Cito is leaving after this building year, wouldn't you rather build with the manager that's going to be there after the year. If say Buck Showalter (or whoever) was going to be the guy, wouldn't you want him here now so he evaluate the team?

There is one excuse that Anthopoulos could give us that I would accept. It is possible that Arnsberg decided to go to Houston first. Maybe the sequence of events wasn't Cito's staying so Arnsberg is going. Maybe it was that Arnsberg decided he wanted to work closer to home. Or he wanted a new challenge. Or Houston just made too good an offer. But man, if I'm in Anthopoulos' spot I do whatever I have to to keep Brad.

I'll admit. I was drinking the koolaid as much or more than anyone else. I was very happy when Alex got the GM job. All the stories about renewed enthusiasm with in the organization sounded great. Then the announcement that Paul Beeston was staying. And the team would have more money for players. And I liked all the moves to reorganize the front office. Yep, I was sold. Things were turning, life was good.

And then this.

And well, I'm not drinking the koolaid anymore. I was sold on Alex, he didn't quite have me at hello, but he had me soon after. Now they have to sell me all over again.
It is going to be a much harder sell this time.

Drunk Jays Fans (note, asterisk-ed up as this is a family blog):

It has just been announced, according to Sportsnet, that Cito Gaston will be back coaching this team in 2010—after which he will retire. Brad Arnsberg has moved on to the Houston Astros organization, where he will be pitching coach. Bullpen coach Bruce Walton has been promoted to pitching coach, and Gene Tenace has retired from baseball.

Seriously, f*** this team.

How can anybody have the slightest f***ing faith in Anthopolous and Beeston now? They watched Gaston’s bumbling f***ing s***show of an attempt at managing a baseball team all year, and have now f***ing endorsed it? I’m sorry, but this is flat out retarded. There is no excuse for this, and no reason to have the slightest faith in this management team to not be complete f***ing idiots.

Sorry guys, but you f***ed up. Large. I don’t care if you’re throwing away a season. Throw away a season with a manager that won’t frustrate the living f*** out of anybody watching who isn’t a nostalgia-consumed twat. I’m sure Cito is a great dude and everything, I’m sure it would have taken a lot of balls to do the right thing and ask him to quietly shuffle into some bulls*** front office position, but seriously… f*** you.

I imagine that at some point I’ll calm down and actually be able to stomach the thought of watching another season of this absolute f***ing horseshit, but good f***ing chr***… what a disaster. Just so f***ing stupid, words cannot describe.

I guess it’s good to know it’s only one more year, but for a team with a consumer confidence problem, this is a hell of a f***ing kick in the balls to anybody who actually pays attention to the team. Will it really mean anything to the casual fans they’re courting? I f***ing doubt it. But s***, I guess sometimes loyalty is more important than making decisions with a semblance of making an ounce of f***ing sense.

The Tao of Stieb:

Cito Gaston, the manager who completely lost the clubhouse at the end of last season, will be returning to fulfill the final lame duck year of his contract.

Brad Arnsberg, in the biggest non-coincidence in the history of baseball, will not be.

And to think....I was set to post about "turning the page" this weekend and embracing the new Blue Jays front office regime.

Instead - unless I can bottle my rage - I think I'm taking the rest of the weekend off. It's better for all of us this way.

F*** this.


Early returns look like this is quite an upgrade for the Astros, and Roy ought to have a new best friend by mid-February. Well done by Ed Wade.

Mills and coaches respond

Hey, so there are some responses to the new hirings made by the Astros...

I'm very happy to be able to put a staff like this together. We're getting experience, knowledge and guys that have a passion for the game. They know how to teach a team. I think it's going to be a great staff.

Wade, on Arnsberg:
Brad's got great credentials. We were really excited when we found out he was available. There were some unresolved issues, and they gave him a chance to go out and look around, and he very quickly moved up to the top of our list, and we were able to bring it to closure. He has a lot of experience with young pitchers and veterans.

Go ahead and count Cito Gaston as the unresolved issue - an issue which I'm hoping we'll hear from some of our friends in Toronto about.

I am elated and excited to join the Astros family. I want to give a special thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays for everything they have done for me over the last five years and for understanding that I am closing one chapter of my life and opening another. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the amount of confidence that [owner] Drayton McLane, Ed Wade, Brad Mills and [assistant general manager] Dave Gottfried had in me to entrust me with this group of Astros pitchers, and I promise not to let them down.

Al Pedrique:
I'm very happy and thrilled that Brad Mills has given the opportunity and the Astros have given me the chance to work with Brad Mills, and I'm sure it's going to be an exciting year. I know we have a lot of work to do, and it's an important part of the job. Mills is doing a great job putting the coaching staff together, and I'm sure there will be a good chance to hopefully turn this organization around.

Man, I hope that everyone first- and last-names him all season long. For as long as I can stand it, I will refer to our new manager as solely "Brad Mills."

Brad Mills on Bobby Meacham:
Having a guy with Bobby's knowledge and expertise working with our infielders and to have his experience as a Major League coach is extremely valuable.

Wade, on the endorsement Meacham got from Brian Cashman:
I made several phone calls because I was familiar with his career, but I didn't have any first-hand knowledge of Bobby. Brian said he's one of the classiest guys he's ever been around. I have respect for what Brian has done in New York, obviously. Knowing that Millsie felt strongly about him made it easy for us.

Yeah, because Cashman doesn't have much else going on right now...

One more note for the night

One more note from last night to go over: McTaggart is saying that LaTroy Hawkins was going to make a decision on 2010 after the Astros hired a manager.

Now that they have, what will he decide?