Saturday, December 26, 2009

Biz of Baseball's End of Year Salary Totals

An excellent article by the Biz of Baseball breaks down the End of Year salary totals from 1999-2009. What do we learn about our Houston Astros?

-The Astros' ranking in payroll in 2008: #12
-Payroll ranking in 2009: #11

Total salary paid, 1999-2009: $889,549,247
NL Ranking: #7 (behind the Mets, Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tri-City ValleyCats: J.B. MacDonald

J.B. MacDonald
How did he get here?: Drafted, 18th Round (2009)
Stats: 6'2", 190 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2010: 22


vs LHB13.12.03/0.9812:5.170
vs RHB18.22.89/1.6117:5.321
Bases Empty12x/1.7512:5.296
Runners On20x/1.1017:5.239

Season Total
K/9 Rate: 8.2
BB/9 Rate: 2.8
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.86
K:BB Ratio: 2.90

MacDonald served as the ValleyCats closer, recording eight saves, and only giving up 9ER in 32IP. MacDonald kept the ball on the ground, almost a 2:1 groundout/flyout ratio, and gave up two homers - one solo shot, and one two-run shot. MacDonald also finished strong, posting a 1.59 ERA in his last ten games of the season, giving up runs in just two outings. The only concern would be the splits against righties, who hit .321 against him (25 hits in 18.2IP). The strikeouts are nice, as are the low-ish walks.

Draft Pick Compensation notes

We all know about the Astros' former penchant for signing free agents as opposed to focusing on the draft, but I got to wondering: what did the teams do with the picks the Astros gave up for signing their Type A Free Agents?

Astros sign Jeff Kent, Giants draft David Aardsma

Astros sign Andy Pettitte, Yankees draft Phil Hughes

Carlos Beltran signs with New York, Astros draft Eli Iorg (released, 2009)

Astros sign Carlos Lee, Rangers draft Blake Beavan (still in minors)

Cardinals sign Trever Miller, Astros draft Jordan Lyles (supplemental pick)

The draft is a total crapshoot, but it's still fun to look at. Especially while you wait for someone to bring you food on Christmas Day.

What did Ed Wade give us for Christmas this year?

It's time for a little optimism. What did Easy Eddie give us for Christmas this year?

-Michael Bourn

Let's give it to Eddie. Maybe Cecil Cooper, too. God bless him/them, they stuck with Bourn in CF, and he responded with a +.150 in OPS from 2008 to 2009. Add 61 stolen bases and his first Gold Glove award, and there is reason for optimism. At least with 2/3 of the outfield.

-Bud Norris

So this whole "drafting" thing does work! The 24-year old Norris was 12-25 in his minor-league career, with a 3.67 ERA/1.32 WHIP. So to come out and go 6-3, including his debut (to which I listened) that made a 12-0 loss to the Cubs (thank you, Mike Hampton, for being so awful at Wrigley that it brought in The Troof, memorable. With Norris' spot in the rotation slotted at #3 at best, and #5 at worst, I'm actually going to keep this blog alive.

-Trading Pudge

It was a gamble. A big gamble. And yet, when Pudge hit .251 over 93 games (and it never seemed like his BA was that high), a full-fledged releasing was in order. But to turn around and spin Rodriguez for not one, but two prospects, in Matt Nevarez and Jose Vallejo was like alchemy.

-Sam Gervacio

He only pitched in 29 games in 2009, and 21IP. But 25K:8BB just warms my heart. And in those 29 games, he only allowed a run in four of those games. Drafting him as a 17-year old in 2002 is now paying off. Let's just be thankful that he wasn't traded for Tejada.

-Drew Locke

The Dodgers left him unprotected, where in two seasons with High-A Inland Empire, he had posted OPS's of .737 and .841, respectively. So the Astros selected him in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft, and Locke dominated Double-A, hitting .338/.389/.581, with 84 strikeouts in 558 PAs. He'll be in Round Rock in 2010, looking at a September Call-up (that is, if Eddie believes in them).

-Bobby Heck

Heck has had two drafts with which to work, and has seemingly turned around a farm system which Tim Purpura laid as bare as a centerfold. 2010 will bring us a top-10 pick and, if/when Valverde signs somewhere else, a sandwich pick. This will boost a team that should financially be able to compete in 2013/2014. And hope, however fleeting, is the best Christmas gift of all...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

McTaggart's Inbox

McTaggart posted his newest inbox yesterday. Of course this was the day I was 80 miles north of Houston with no internet access. What can we learn?

-I do think the Astros are one good starting pitcher away from contending for the playoffs, but it doesn't appear as if it will happen.

-Let's see how these guys respond to new leadership in Brad Mills, and don't rule out the possibility that Ed Wade really is applying a thoughtful blueprint like the Phillies followed to become what they are.

How might the Opening Day roster shake out?
-At this point it appears Johnson will likely begin the season at Round Rock and start at third base. You'll probably see Drew Locke, Brian Bogusevic and Yordany Ramirez in the outfield and Jason Castro at catcher if he doesn't make the big club. Also keep an eye on outfielder Collin DeLome and infielder Drew Meyer. Among the pitchers who could be in Round Rock: Fernando Abad, Chia-Jen Lo and Polin Trinidad.

I think there are plenty of other things to wish for

The Sporting News' Stan McNeal lists the Christmas wishes of all 30 MLB teams. And it's reeeeeaaaalllll funny.

An outfield wall without that ridiculous yellow line. And if you don't believe it's ridiculous, read the ground rules. Whatever happened to hit the ball over the wall and it's a homer?

RIP: Stan Benjamin

Stan Benjamin, Astros scout for almost 40 years, has passed away.

Tal Smith:
“Stan was a vital cog in the Astros organization. He was a keen judge of talent and had great personal associations throughout the game as a result of his long career as a player, high school coach, college basketball official and scout. All of us who knew Stan will have great memories of him.”

Benjamin played in parts of five seasons in the Majors, with the Phillies and Indians. His only "full" season of work came in 1941 with Philadelphia, hitting .235 with 3HR, 27RBI, and 17SB (2nd in the NL).

He joined the Astros in 1965.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tri-City ValleyCats: Dallas Keuchel

Dallas Keuchel
How did he get here?: Drafted, 7th Round (2009)
Stats: 6'3", 200 lbs, Throws: Left
Age as of April 1, 2010: 22


as Reliever4.27.71/2.141:1.409
as Starter522.25/0.9843:8.221
vs LHB16.22.70/0.8419:3.183
vs RHB402.70/1.1825:6.261
Bases Empty32x/0.9728:2.221
Runners On24.2x/1.2216:7.267

Season Total
K/9 Rate: 7.0
BB/9 Rate: 1.4
Groundout/Flyout Rate: 1.60
K:BB Ratio: 4.89

Keuchel is probably the pitcher from this year's draft class I'm most excited about. If you take out his appearance in relief on July 26 at Oneonta, he wouldn't have allowed more than 3ER in an outing all season (and we're only talking about 10 starts, but still...). He made NYPL hitters look silly pretty much all year long, and threw scoreless outings in four of his ten starts.

Paulino works hard, was fat

A new profile on Felipe Paulino by McTaggart has some encouraging news regarding off-season workouts.

Beginning last season under an ultimatum by Wade and Cooper (along with Nieve, who was dropped like 3rd period French), Paulino took his job seriously - which I find ridiculous that he might not have taken it seriously before. Now he's vowing to work harder.

"I told Felipe that I couldn't ask for anything more, and this was an opportunity he shouldn't pass up. I told him he has a chance to take the ball every fifth day and be a dominant big league pitcher. I commend him for seeking me out and wanting to talk to me."

On those workouts:
From the beginning of November to the middle of December, he arrived to Minute Maid Park at dawn four days a week for two-hour workouts with some teammates under the direction of Astros strength and conditioning coach Gene Coleman.

Paulino teamed with catcher Humberto Quintero and was one of about 10 players who participated in the conditioning workouts, including Hunter Pence, J.R. Towles, Michael Bourn, Wandy Rodriguez and Jason Bourgeois and Minor Leaguers Koby Clemens and Ross Seaton.

What do they entail?
The workouts began with solo movement to get the players ready for three circuits of weight training with seven minutes of metabolic conditioning and 150 core-type movements in between each one. The players then have finisher exercises they have to do before they can leave. The players burned muscle mass, increased flexibility and work capacity and modified their diets to end up with a negative caloric balance. The goal was to lose 1 to 1 1/2 pounds a week. Coleman gave each player a target weight to reach by Dec. 17, and most had reached it by the first week of December.

"It's a good group with good camaraderie, and they have pushed each other. He changed his diet and his habits, and it worked. Typically we don't have many guys that need to lose weight, but Paulino's had weight issues ever since we signed him. Everybody's goal is to break even [on weight] between now and Jan. 4. We know that they're going to do stuff, but as long as they do it in moderation."

Wade on Paulino:
"So far he's followed through on what he said he was going to do. Humberto's wife has worked with Felipe's wife to improve his diet. They go shopping together to try to make sure he's eating the right foods. All the feedback I've gotten has been very positive."

Justice sees just where the grass is greener

Richard Justice's new blog post takes the opposite track of a previous entry regarding the ownership of Drayton McLane.

Sure it's easy to say the next owner of the Astros will be better than the current owner, but the bottom line is we don't know. There are many owners worse than Drayton McLane.

If we take a deep breath and look at the whole picture, the Astros have had a pretty good run under this guy...

...We just don't know what the next guy will be like. We know the Astros can win with Drayton in charge. What if the next guy is like Daniel Snyder, who has been an absolute nightmare as owner of the Washington Redskins? What if the next guy is like Peter Angelos, who took over one of baseball's crown jewel franchises and ran the Orioles right into the ground?

I'd rather have Drayton over either one of those guys, and over quite a few owners, too. I believe the Astros will get a new owner within the next year, and hopefully it'll be a guy who gets it.

It's funny, because Drayton has been compared to Peter Angelos on a number of occasions.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A note on this week's posts

This week's posts are going to be a little lighter, given the holidays, and the interaction with family. So posts are mainly going to be limited to what I can get done before everybody else wakes up, and after everybody else goes to bed. Or when I am in the bathroom.

Please don't forsake Astros County.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Okay. This is odd.

The Port Arthur News' Bob West has this in his column:

Word out of the winter baseball meetings was that a handful of teams, including the Boston Red Sox, were asking about Astros first baseman Lance Berkman. Word out of Houston, however, is that hell will freeze over before Astros owner Drayton McLane agrees to deal his overweight fan favorite, despite the fact Berkman's coming off a subpar season that suggests he might be on the downside of his career.

If you followed the Winter Meetings fairly closely, you know the Red Sox are hot for Adrian Gonzalez, which isn't going so well. If you had the opportunity to trade Berkman to the Red Sox, would you do it, and who would you want in return?

Playing catch-up

After 15 hours in a car with two dogs yesterday, the time has come to play a little catch up.

Run-DMc and Jim Crane have made up, but that doesn't mean a deal is back on.

One note. I'll be 30 on my next birthday, and I'm starting to accrue wisdom, knowledge and the divine light stuff. If you've ever said, "I don't hold grudges," you're telling your grudge, and not anybody else.

Former ESPN analyst Eric Young has joined the Astros as a roving instructor, with the goal of eventually becoming a Major-League manager.

At some point soon "Baseball Tonight" is going to consist of John Kruk and the Kielbasa from Milwaukee staring at each other.