Saturday, March 20, 2010

Running down the Astros' injuries

So injuries have been a pretty major part of the Astros' off-season and Spring Training. Let's get us a timeline:

February 9:
Lyon gets cyst drained in shoulder

February 20:
Fulchino sprains ankle

February 21:
Casey Daigle sprains right ankle

February 23:
Fulchino aggravates ankle sprain

February 28:
Berkman's knee swells after running bases

March 6:
-Keppinger out with sore ankle
-Bourgeois out with sore hamstring

March 9:
Alberto Arias leaves game with trapezius strain

March 10:
Castro out with stomach flu

March 13:
Berkman has surgery on knee

March 14:
Bazardo leaves game with tightness in rotator cuff

March 19:
Bourn strains oblique in batting cage
Norris misses start with stomach flu
Bazardo "feels pinch" in throwing shoulder

March 20::
Manzella injures quadriceps

And by the time you finish reading this, Manzella will have had a leg amputation and be placed in an iron lung

Lots of info coming out of the Astros media regarding Tommy Manzella's quad injury. A timeline, if you'll allow:

Zach Levine, about 2pm:
Strained right quad for Astros SS Manzella

Alyson Footer, about 2pm:
Manzella tweaked his right quad. I just talked to him in clubhouse and he said it's nothing major. He's walking fine. Day to day.

Zach Levine, a few minutes later:
SS Tommy Manzella day-to-day with quad strain. Thinks it didn't feel too serious

Alyson Footer, about 3pm:
Mills said Manzella will be out about a week.Strained quad. "we're glad it happened when it did (meaning ST). Now we'll move on w/out him."

Alden Gonzalez, about 3pm:
SS Tommy Manzella (strained right quad) out at least a week.

Zach Levine, 3:21pm:
Brad Mills much more pessimistic about Astros' Manzella than the shortstop himself. Manager (thinks) he'll miss at least a week.

Recap for ST16: Astros v. Yankees

What Happened?
The Astros overcame a crap outing by Brett Myers, and Pence, Lee, and Sullivan provided seven RBI as the Astros beat the Yankees 8-6.

Why They Won
Touching up Aceves for five runs in the first five innings. Even though the Yankees scored the first four runs, the Astros scored six unanswered - all in the 5th and 6th innings. Houston had a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the 8th and Cory Sullivan hit a two-run homer to put the game just out of reach for the Yankees.

Astros pitching
The win came despite Brett Myers poor outing: 5IP, 8H/4ER, 6K:3BB. The strikeouts aren't a problem for Myers, but he's giving up too many hits. 11 of the 24 Yankees Myers faced reached base, including six extra-base hits (four doubles, a triple, and a homer). The Astros only used two relievers - Casey Daigle, who gave up six hits and struck out four, allowing one run in 2.1IP; and Shane Loux, who gave up an unearned run in 1.2IP. Astro pitching continues to get themselves in - and out - of jams, getting the Yankees to go 3x15 with RISP.

Astros batting
Houston managed 11 hits and one walk against Yankee pitching. Six of the 11 hits were from Pence, Lee, and Sullivan who provided most of the run-producing hits, as well. Jason Bourgeois, Drew Meyer, Chris Shelton, Mark Ori, and Jeff Keppinger enjoyed the other five hits. But the most telling stat was the 5x9 w/RISP. Unfortunately, Tommy Manzella strained his right quad running out a grounder in the 3rd inning, and will likely be out about a week.

0-fers (more than one AB): Matsui (0x3, RBI), Johnson (0x3), Quintero (0x2, BB)

Positional Battles

Quintero: 0x2, R, BB (.250) - picked off Brett Gardner at first.
Cash: 0x1 (.111)

Bourgeois: 1x3, R, SB (.286)
Sullivan: 2x4, 2RBI, SB (.250)

Maysonet: 0x1, (.400)
Shelton: 1x3 (.200)

Man of the Match
Hunter Pence. 2x3, 2R, 3RBI, and two doubles, and is hitting .467 on the Spring.

Goat of the Game
It has to be Brett Myers. In his last three starts, Myers has increased his IPs by one each outing (which is the goal - I realize that), but in those 12IP, he has allowed 18/8ER, with 14K:7BB, and his ERA sits at 6.43.

Surprise Surprise!

Roy Oswalt will get the Opening Day start - setting up an April 5 matchup with Tim Lincecum.

"I think everybody kind of understands that, and they kind of thought that anyway. All this does, if there was any type of ... haze of any question of this, we just needed to get it out. I'm not going to put any more importance on it than that. ... Just tell [Oswalt] that we appreciate everything that he's done, and he's thrown the ball extremely well, and go from there."

It's Oswalt's 8th consecutive Opening Day start, extending his lead over franchise leaders J.R. Richard, Mike Scott, and Shane Reynolds, who had five consecutive Opening Day starts each.

A lot riding on Clemens at 1B

Zach Levine - the hardest working man for the Chronicle - has a profile on Koby Clemens, who has officially moved to first base.

“It's definitely going to be a big year for me to see how I do at that level where a lot of big-time prospect players are. If I have a good year, anything can happen. But I'm not going to put any more pressure than I need to.”

Let's take a look at minor-league first basemen from 2009:

Round Rock
Mark Saccomanno (110 games): 137x493, .278/.329/.436, 87K:34BB, 43XBH-67RBI

Corpus Christi
Mark Ori (97 games): 111x423, .262/.334/.336, 88K:41BB, 29XBH-45RBI
Jimmy Van Ostrand (48 games): 104x367, .283/.364/.469, 67K:43BB, 35XBH-71RBI

Koby Clemens: 146x423, .345/.419/.636, 109K:51BB, 73XBH-121RBI

Meat Wagon update

Zach Levine has some injury updates for us this morning:

-Bourn strained his oblique in the batting cage a few minutes before yesterday's game with Toronto.

“I don't think it's that serious at all, so it will probably be two to three days where I probably won't be doing any (hitting)."

-Norris will pitch four innings on Sunday, having recovered from the flu, in which Immodium AD was the key remedy (ewww).

-Yorman Bazardo felt "another pinch" in his throwing shoulder where he had already experienced soreness.

-Oswaldo Navarro strained his quad running out a groundball

-Alberto Arias will throw live BP after two bullpen sessions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recap for ST15: Astros v. Toronto

What Happened?
The Astros scored a run in each of the first two innings, and then that was pretty much it as the pitching staff, led by Josh Banks, held the Blue Jays silent for a 2-0 win.

Why They Won
The OF5 guys broke it open. Jason Bourgeois was 2x2 with a triple, and later scored on Keppinger's sac fly in the first, and Cory Sullivan hit a solo 2-out homer in the second inning. Between those two runs, and the six hits the Astros allowed, it was a quick, clean victory.

Astros pitching
Banks got the start for the stomach bug-ridden Bud Norris, and delivered with 3IP, 2H/0ER, with 2K:1BB. And six pitchers in the pen rode it out with six scoreless innings pitched. The reliever of the day was Sam Gervacio, who probably stared at the ball for a while, before blowing away his three batters on strikeouts. All of them. Fulchino and Corcoran threw perfect outings, while Lindstrom struck out two of the four batters he faced.

Astros batting
The Astros were actually out-hit 6-5, but Bourgeois had two of the hits on the day (and a walk), while Feliz, Sullivan's homer, and a hit by Castro provided the other hits.

0-fers (more than one AB): Keppinger (0x3, sac), Towles (0x3), Blum (0x3), Michaels (0x2), Navarro (0x2)

Positional Battles

Towles: 0x3, 2K (.478)
Castro: 1x2 (.400)
Esposito: 0x1 (143)

Sullivan: 1x2, HR, BB (.222)
Bourgeois: 2x2, 3B, BB, SB (.278)

Johnson: 0x1 (.321)

Man of the Match
Jason Bourgeois. Two games ago I said he needed to start showing something, and he's responded with four hits and three stolen bases in his last five ABs. He's not a lefty, which is to his disadvantage with Sullivan, but he's coming along strong these last couple of games, and has raised his average 201 points in three games.

Goat of the Game
You know what? I'm in a good mood. It's a beautiful Friday afternoon. I'm currently 17-2 in my bracket. No Goat.

A minor note of love from Jon Heyman

In Jon Heyman's column today, he has a minor love note for Brad Mills:

New Astros manager Brad Mills is "running an excellent camp," according to one veteran baseball observer. So that's a positive development for a team in need of a turnaround.

Oswalt: With you jerks, it's never enough...

Jeff Fletcher's profile on Oswalt shows a man whose success is a curse:

"If you win 20, they want you to win 22. If you win 22, they want you to win 32. You can only do so much. If you give 100 percent on the field, that's all you can. If it works out, it works out. You can't do anything else. I don't try to live by other people's standards. I try to do my own thing. If it's not good enough, it's not good enough, but I can live with it when I go home."

While 32 wins would be pretty great, I don't think anybody is expecting 22 wins. 20 will be fine. 16 will be fine. But the fact is that Oswalt is too tough to take himself out of a game, says Hunter Pence:

"(He) was obviously battling through some health issues that he's too tough to talk about."

I like Roy Oswalt, a lot. You can make a strong argument that he has been the best pitcher for the Astros since Nolan Ryan - in fact, I'd like to see someone outline why he wouldn't be - and he takes the game very seriously. There's no lolly-gagging, or dogging it, or any other verb you want to use with a double-G. He's fun to watch, I just hope we get to watch him for a lot longer.

Rob Neyer is not a fan of how Ed Wade is handling this whole Catcher thing

Linking back to Zach Levine's piece on the Battle For C1, Rob Neyer tut-tuts it almost immediately (or as immediately as it takes to get some notice of the Astros):

Yeah, three catchers. The third is Humberto Quintero, who served as the No. 2 catcher last season -- hitting almost exactly as awfully as No. 1 Ivan Rodriguez -- and is slated for the same duties this season.

Leaving Quintero aside, is this really the best way to run a baseball team? Getting three catchers into the lineup whenever possible and hoping that the most talented of them happens to finish March with the highest batting average?

Towles has struggled in the majors. He's not been the healthiest of players. But he's hit well in Class A, he's hit well in Class AA, and he's hit well in Class AAA. If he's healthy, he'll eventually hit well in Class AAAA (a/k/a the National League). Meanwhile, Castro is a wonderful prospect but he's got only 63 games of experience above A-ball and wasn't all that impressive in those 63 games.

If Castro's playing Gold Glove-quality defense and the Astros don't have anybody else, then sure: Pudge Rodriguez skipped Triple-A when he was only 19, and that worked out well enough. But the Astros do have somebody else, in fact a pretty good somebody. There's simply no reason to rush Castro before he's done anything special in Double-A.

Look, I get it. I understand that Towles has struggled, and he broke his nose in a tractor accident, and was a crap-show of a catcher to start 2008. And I do agree that Castro shouldn't be rushed, and should start the season at Round Rock. What I don't care for is the "Is this the way to run a baseball team?" aspect. Castro will - at some point - be the C1. So why not use this opportunity to see some big-league pitching? He will eventually. And it will make the transition to Round Rock that much easier if he's been through a Spring of working with the Big Club. Consider the Towles-ing of Jason Castro, although in a much less stressful situation. It's hardly the image of team run amok.

The Meat Wagon picks up Michael Bourn

Zachary Levine tells us that Michael Bourn has been scratched from today's game with "a mild oblique strain."

Astros not interested in Joe Beimel, and why would they be?

Alden Gonzalez tweeted this morning that Ed Wade said the Astros are "more than adequately covered" in the bullpen, and don't need to bring in reliever Joe Beimel.

And good for them. With Byrdak entrenched in the bullpen, the Astros have a lefty reliever who had a much better 2009 than Beimel, anyway. And there's a possibility of Wright making the team in the bullpen (though it sounds more like he'll go to Round Rock to continue his development into a starter).

It would be nice to have another LHP in the 'pen, but not at what it might cost/force out of the team to get Beimel.

Lineup for ST15: Astros v. Toronto

Alyson Footer has your lineup card for ST15 vs. Toronto:

1. Bourn - CF
2. Keppinger - 2B
3. Towles - C
4. Blum - 1B
5. Feliz - 3B
6. Michaels - LF
7. Sullivan - RF
8. Navarro - SS
9. Bourgeois - DH

Josh Banks - SP

The '77 Dodgers are killing us

Over at Play That Funky Baseball, your Astros County-managed '77 Astros have been smoked by the Dodgers, losing again, 7-2:

Dodgers 7
Astros 2

The Pesky Domeballers leave eleven on base, while L.A. gets a two-out triple from Garvey in the 1st and a 3-run homer from Lopes in the 6th to chase Banister, seconds after he walks the pitcher to keep the inning going. A little discrepancy there.

Your '77 Astros are hitting just .270, with a team-average 5.02 ERA. Jeez.

Record: 5-6
GB: 2.5

Justice: Kaz is still 2B1

Richard Justice graces us with a blog post this morning reassuring us that Kaz is still our 2B1:

In the end, Matsui should be the best option. His problem is that he missed 66 games in 2008, and then last season when he did stay healthy, he hit just .250, and his .302 OBP was the lowest among all everyday players...

For the first time since he signed, Matsui was forced to prove himself, and at this point in spring training, he still appears to be the best option. There's no compelling reason to put anyone else in there. One of the many problems with having a weak minor league system is there's little competition for playing time. Matsui may not be setting the world on fire, but he's not being pushed, either.

I think we all should just get used to the fact that we're going to have Kaz in the lineup about 130 times in 2010. After this year, though, we're free of his contract and his injuries.

Norris scratched with stomach flu

Dudes have to start washing their hands after they pee. Bud Norris is the latest to fall victim to the stomach bug going round the camp.

"I've definitely been feeling pretty messed up the last couple of days, not feeling up to it, not able to get any energy. [Head athletic trainer Nathan Lucero] said it wouldn't be a good idea to go out there and really hurt yourself. So, we're going to wait a couple of days until I'm 100 percent."

Gervacio throws weird

Sam Gervacio's throwing motion is weird, and so is Gervacio, apparently.

The newest move in the dance craze that is sure to sweep Houston should Gervacio emerge as an Astros regular is a bizarre staredown with the baseball.

The righthander holds the ball out with his pitching hand, stares at it for a pronounced second, then translates his stare in an equally exaggerated manner toward the plate.

“That works for him, so count me in. It's the old ‘you don't fix what's not broken,' and until they show you that they're broken or they're down and out and it just isn't working anymore, I won't put a hand on him.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The Astros have released 2008 10th Round pick LHP Jarred Holloway and 2008 11th Round pick OF Jacob Priday.

Priday had just been activated from the Inactive List after missing all of 2009 (as had Holloway).

Minute Maid Park a middle-of-the-road power park

ESPN's Tristan Cockcroft gave out ballpark power rankings in an effort to see which ballparks lend themselves to more extra-base hits. Minute Maid Park was 13th...

Remember when the Astros' home ballpark once earned the nickname "Ten-Run Field"? Today it's almost entirely a neutral ballpark, with its lone advantage provided to right-handed power hitters (112 homer index from 2007-09). It makes sense, as the "Crawford Boxes" stand 315 feet down the left-field line, a perfect target for righty sluggers.

If Felipe Paulino can get lefties out, he'll be a heck of a lot better

Or so says Ron Shandler:

er Felipe Paulino had some of the worst surface stats of any starting pitcher last season, including a 3-11 record, 6.27 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. Not exactly the kind of pitcher to target, right? Not so fast. His underlying skills were quite good. He had an 8.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9, meaning he struck out batters at a high rate while keeping his walks at a reasonable level. His problem was that he struggled mightily in specific situations. Left-handed batters posted a .354 batting average (BA) and .663 slugging percentage (SLG) against him. He also allowed 1.8 HR/9 (home runs per nine innings), a mark that seems inflated, given that he is not an extreme fly-ball pitcher. Finally, hitters managed an extremely high .370 BABIP against him. As his HR/9 comes down and his BABIP normalizes, he could make significant gains if he can find an out pitch against left-handed bats.

Hooray! Get after it, Arnsberg...

Zach Levine's Deep Thoughts

So, big captip to the Chronicle for having a ton of new content this morning. Zach Levine has some observations from Spring Training:

On Wandy's two home runs yesterday:
He thought Willy Taveras would be taking on a first pitch and grooved him a fastball. It was the same kind of pitch he threw to Josh Willingham when it was a full count and the Astros had a six-run lead.

On Alberto Arias:
Alberto Arias is up to eight days on the shelf and counting. Thursday will be nine and will feature a bullpen session of roughly 25-30 pitches, and Arias hopes to pitch in a minor league game next.

On Maysonet:
I actually think he'd be a very nice fit if he can play some corner outfield. It would leave center field without much in the way of backup as Jason Michaels isn't ideal for the big center field, but Michael Bourn has shown that he doesn't have to sit against lefties anymore and doesn't seem particularly injury-prone.

I have to agree with Levine on Maysonet. Bourgeois and Sullivan aren't killing the ball, and if Maysonet can fill more than one role, he'll be a good fit.

One thing's for sure: Round Rock is going to have a pretty awesome catcher

Zach Levine calls the race for C1 "Too close to call."

“Those guys have both played real well. We're still evaluating and seeing how things are going. We still have a few weeks to go yet before we have to make those final decisions, and I expect it will come down to really almost near the end.”

Towles, on how he has prepared himself:
“I went out with Roy (Oswalt) one night, and (Brian) Moehler and I plan on going with a few other guys. It's really going and talking with them to see what I can do different, what I can do that they would like to see me do to help them out.”

Castro, same question:
“It's really just a matter of just getting in the game and getting to catch. (Tuesday) I caught Brian Moehler for the first time, and it's really not until you get in those situations where you can see how guys like to work and discuss things and really build off just experiences.”

Ed Wade:
“This is not rotisserie league baseball or anything like that. We've got to take roster status, contractual status, service time, everything into consideration to try to make the right decision both for now and the long term.”

A-ha! Now we get a nugget. You can bet that the Astros wouldn't be terribly interested in rushing Castro to the majors, with one reason being service time. If Castro makes the team or gets called up before right around the middle of June (it's a flexible date), Castro will get an extra year of arbitration, which cost the Astros approximately $3m with Hunter Pence.

I still think that Towles has shown enough that he will make the team out of Spring Training, Jason Castro will head to Round Rock to get regular time and, since he's never played in Triple-A, get a little more seasoning.

The race so far:


Maysonet working on shagging

Edwin Maysonet, in an effort to become a more attractive bench option, has begun taking fly balls in the outfield.

“All I have to do is work at it. I think my defense is pretty good, and I should be able to do a pretty good job out there, too.”

Wandy working on a change we can believe in

In reaction to yesterday's win over the Nationals, Alden Gonzalez focuses on Wandy's new weapon: the changeup.

"We didn't use it much [last year] because it wasn't sinking, so I didn't call for it as much. I asked for the curveball instead. But now that it's sinking, we're going to use it more during the season."

"He was pretty much fastball -- two-seam, four-seam -- and hook, and he featured that changeup [last year]. But he's in the process of trying to throw it again for strikes and in counts that dictate, 'I need a swing here,' and then other counts where, 'I want a swing out of the zone.'

"There were times even today where I think the hitters might have been sitting on [the changeup], and it's still ducking the zone. He's got nice life to it."


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Recap for ST13: Astros v. Nationals

What Happened?
The Astros scored seven runs in the first two innings and then rode it out for an 11-2 win over the Nationals to improve their Spring record to 7-6.

Why They Won
Spotting Wandy a 7-0 lead was enough to get Wandy back on track. Michael Bourn broke his Spring-long slump with a 3x3, three run day, and the Astros got multi-hit games from Pence (2x3, 2RBI), Johnson (2x4, 3RBI), and Quintero (2x3, 2RBI). Four of the Astros 13 hits were for extra bases (doubles by Johnson, Quintero, and Lee; and a homer by Michaels).

Astros pitching
Wandy got it back together, throwing a 4IP, 4H/2ER, 7K:0BB line. The bullpen threw another five scoreless IPs, and Gustavo Chacin threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 3K in an impressive outing. But it's obviously Wandy who was the story today. Both Nationals runs came off the long ball, allowing solo shots to Taveras and Willingham in the 3rd and 4th innings, respectively. Still, Wandy recorded 12 outs amongst 16 batters, got seven Ks, with three groundouts and two flyouts.

Astros batting
Big days by Bourn, Pence, Johnson, and Quintero paced the offense, and the Astros were 7x17 with RISP today. The Astros also drew more walks than strikeouts again today (6K:7BB), with Kaz drawing three walks in three plate appearances, and scoring two runs as a result.

0-fers (more than one AB): Shelton (0x2, 1RBI), Esposito (0x2), Manzella (0x3)

Positional Battles

Quintero: 2x3, 2RBI (.273)
Esposito: 0x2, (.167)

Sullivan: 0x1 (.143)
Bourgeois: 0x1, RBI (.077)

Maysonet: 1x2 (.421)
Shelton: 0x2, RBI, 2K (.190)
Johnson: 2x4, 3RBI, BB (.333)
Navarro: 1x2, K (.273)

Man of the Match
Chris Johnson. With 2x4, 2R, 3RBI, and a walk it's hard to ignore that he's doing more with the bat than Chris Shelton or Oswaldo Navarro. If Blum is going to be playing 1B while Lance is out, I realize Keppinger can slide over and play some 3B, but Johnson's hot bat (/snickering) is looking good (/full out laughing). He's a long shot, but credit where it's due.

Goat of the Game
Jason Bourgeois has got to start doing something. He survived the first cut, lasting longer than Alex Romero, but he's hitting .077 this year. It was brought up that Bourgeois can play some infield, which may make him more attractive, but he needs to step it up.

How far away is this magical Realm of Possibility?

Alden Gonzalez' article on Berkman's rehab explains that Berkman, while he can "barely walk", still thinks it's within the realm of possibility that he could be ready for Opening Day:

The 34-year-old first baseman believes it's "still within the realm of possibility" that he can be ready by Opening Day, which for the Astros is April 5 against the Giants. But before he can progress from simple leg raises and quad-tightening exercises, Berkman is waiting for the swelling in his knee to go down, and he estimated it's about 10 days post-surgery before that happens.

Okay. So...ten days post-surgery means that it'll be next Wednesday before he can do anything involving his lower body. Next Wednesday is -12 days to Opening Day. Can Berkman do it? I'm sure he'll try. Is it realistic? I don't know. I've never had knee surgery. But I do think it's unlikely that the Astros will push him to be ready for the Giants.

We're going to have to see. I can't sit here and say he's going to need three games, four games, a week. You can't say that, because you don't know exactly how he's going to feel, how he's going to heal and how the knee is going to be going. So we're going to just have to wait and see with how it goes and make sure he's 100 percent, both physically and baseball-wise, if he's ready to play."

The Biz of Baseball: Stop looking at service time for arbitration comparisons

The Biz of Baseball has a lesson in comparing arbitration-eligible players: Service time comparisons are useless. And writer Joe Tetreault uses Hunter Pence as a comparison:

A multi-year deal for Hunter Pence is absolutely the prudent course of action. But...Pence's starting point is significantly higher than that of either Denard Span or Arizona's Mark Reynolds who just signed a long term contract as well.

Because neither would be arbitration eligible until after the season Span and Reynolds are more comparable...

...Constructing a reasonable contract for Pence needs to be based on his service time, his performance and comparable players. Luckily, we can project Pence’s progression with a similar player who is one year ahead of Pence in the arbitration process. The Dodgers Andre Ethier provides a near ideal roadmap for what lies ahead.

(Ed. Note: Ethier-as-roadmap was something we examined on January 15)

...Using Ethier as a guide, if Pence maintains his current rate of production, he should expect no less than $6.5 million in 2011 (Ethier is getting $6 million next season and Pence has a higher starting point) and better than $10 million in 2012 (Ethier is getting $9.25 million). To buy out the balance of his arbitration eligibility will likely cost Houston close to $30 million over three seasons on top of the $3.5 Pence will earn this year.

So chalk this up to "Maybe Ed Wade Knows What He's Doing."

First round of cuts in place

The Astros cut 12 today, none of them big surprises. Let's get to the list:

Fernando Abad
Evan Englebrook
Chia-jen Lo
Matt Nevarez
Polin Trinidad
Jose Valdez
Henry Villar

Obviously all of these pitchers were minor-leaguers, so they'll head to minor-league camp to play in games where they can get more consistent playing time.

Brian Bogusevic
Yordany Ramirez
Alex Romero

Wladimir Sutil

Lou Santangelo

Romero was the only player cut who was a non-roster invitee who had a legitimate shot at making the roster, and now he needs a job. Same thing applies to these players as the pitchers. Nevertheless, it looks as though OF5 is down to Jason Bourgeois and Cory Sullivan.

“A lot of the guys need to get consistent work, so they're going to go down to the minor league level and get consistent work. With Alex, it's an opportunity for him to get on maybe with another ballclub ... It just didn't look like it was a fit here, so maybe it will be a fit somewhere else.”

Astros release Alex Romero

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Link and commentary to come...

'77 Astros destroyed by Dodgers

Over at Play That Funky Baseball, your Astros County-managed '77 Astros were destroyed by the Dodgers, thanks to four Astros errors:

Dodgers 15
Astros 5

At least old Sherman should be whistlin in the morning. Reggie Smith with a grand slam early, and Tommy John gets the first 13 ‘Stros before Cliff Johnson takes him out. Just plain skanky all around.

HRS: Smith, Johnson, Cabell

Record: 5-5
GB: 1.5

Youngstros and Energy

The Chronicle's one-man show filed another report on the youth of the Astros (funnily referring to the 2009 team as the "GeriAstros."):

“Any time that you have a young guy, you're going to get a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm because they're just now starting to go through it. Any time that you have a ballclub like this, you try to keep a good mix together.”

Manzella, who is young:
“Younger players are more eager to impress with work ethic because they are still trying to figure out what they need to get ready for the season. Usually you'll see a little bit more intensity, a little more hop in their step, especially in practices.”

As Berkman and Oswalt near the end of their contracts with their futures uncertain, the Astros are looking for a group to form a new younger core.

A weak farm system has prevented a groundswell of players from breaking in at once, but the Astros are hoping this slight movement is a start to a young homegrown base.

Lyon will pitch tomorrow, despite not being 100%

Zach Levine is telling us that Brandon Lyon will make his Spring debut tomorrow against the Tigers. But he ain't 100%.

“I still don't feel like I'm up to 100 percent strength-wise, but I'm to the point where I can start pitching, and that's just going to come with time."

I'm guessing this has as much to do with the fact that Lindstrom has looked sharp, and if Lyon doesn't get it together and start showing some things, he'll be even farther behind in the Closer race. It's going to happen at some point, where Lyon gets on the mound, and we should all keep a level head if he goes out and gets Sheets-ed.

A tale of two pitchers

You have Roy Oswalt. And you have Brian Moehler. And you have two very different results. Zach Levine has some reaction:

"I actually feel better mechanics than I did all year last year. The ball is coming out of my right...It's been great, the guys have been great, the new guys coming in with Brad (Mills) and Arnie, the pitching coach, have been great. There's a better life around the clubhouse, and it's been fun coming to the park."

"I felt much better today than I felt last time out, so I was pleased with it. A couple pitches I'd like to have back, but overall, I felt good with everything."

Mills, on Moehler's next start:
"With our other split-squad game coming up, we're going to see where we lie with our pitching. We're not going to really make comments on that right now because we're still in the early process of doing that right now."

Recap for ST12: Astros v. Yankees

What Happened?
A.J. Burnett's control was shaky through 2.1IP, but Segovia, Rivera, and Phil Hughes shut the Astros down, and Moehler had a pretty rough outing as the Yankees beat the Astros 4-1 last night.

Why They Lost
The Astros had tied the game up 1-1 in the third, but Brian Moehler gave up two runs (finishing the day with 6H/3ER in 3IP) including a homer to Mark Teixieriarasarxxaa. Combine that with the fact that the Yankees' pitching held the Astros to six hits (but hey, six walks, too). A.J. Burnett gave up 2H/1ER, but the bullpen threw 6.2IP, 4H/0ER. And the Astros were 0x11 with RISP, leaving 11 on base, and with two GIDPs.

Astros pitching
We're not going to talk about Moehler, other than that he got four groundouts to three flyouts, and Moehler's Spring ERA is now 7.20. Casey Daigle wins the Reliever of the Day award, throwing 2IP, 0H/0ER, 3K. Chris Sampson and Josh Banks also threw perfect innings, while Shane Loux got tagged for two hits and a run. The Astros held the Yankees to 2x8 with RISP.

Astros batting
This is pretty easy to take care of. Hits came from Yordany, Keppinger, Pence, Blum, Castro, and Sutil. Keppinger got on base in all three plate appearances, with a hit and two walks. Jason Michaels left seven on base by himself in an 0-fer performance. Hunter Pence was 1x2 (double) with a walk and the lone RBI

0-fers (more than one AB): Bourgeois (0x3), Navarro (0x2), Romero (0x2), Feliz (0x2), Michaels (0x3), Maysonet (0x3)

Positional Battles

Castro: 1x2, BB (.467)
Cash: 0x1 (.143)

Bourgeois: 0x3 (.083)
Yordany: 1x2 (.455)
Romero: 0x2 (.364)
Bogusevic: 0x4 (.071)

Navarro: 0x2 (.222)
Maysonet: 0x3 (.412)

Man of the Match
Casey Daigle. After Moehler got pulled having allowed six hits in 3IP, Casey Daigle comes in and strikes out three, allowing no baserunners in 2IP.

Goat of the Game
Let's give this one to Jason Bourgeois. Batting leadoff, he didn't get on base, struck out, and dropped his average to .083 (1x12, 2K:0BB).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Astros still rumored for sale

The New York Times has an article on how the economic downturn is affecting the sale of teams. But as the economy turns around, the market may be heating up again:

Now that the economy seems to be on the mend, owners who held off selling during the downturn are seeking to unload their teams. According to sports bankers, the teams thought to be for sale include the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Detroit Pistons in the N.B.A; the Stars, the Atlanta Thrashers and potentially the Columbus Blue Jackets in the N.H.L.; and baseball’s Houston Astros.

This is obviously something we knew. But as the economy makes its way back to "normal," maybe we have a clue as to why Drayton isn't interested in selling the team: He's waiting for his $600 million...

Astros sign Michael Garciaparra

Noticed earlier that there was a Garciaparra playing in the Astros/Red Sox game today, and I couldn't figure it out. NESN is reporting that the Astros have signed infielder Michael Garciaparra to a minor-league contract. Which makes more sense.

Garciaparra will be 27 on April 2, and is 6'1, 160 - approximately the weight of my left leg.

In 2056 career minor-league ABs, Garciaparra has hit .262/.352/.342 with a 425K:227BB.

Michael is an infielder and a former first-round pick, like his older brother. Michael has never appeared in a major league game, but he will provide Houston a reliable option at the minor league level.

Recap for ST11: Astros v. Red Sox

What Happened?
Astros pitching shut down the Red Sox' bats in a 3-0 win over the Fightin' Franconas.

Why They Won
Jon Lester wasn't quite as sharp as Roy Oswalt. Roy threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 1K:1BB, facing 13 batters to get 12 outs as the Astros rolled up two double plays on the day. Carlos Lee managed to avoid not keeling over as he ran the final 90 feet to score on Jon Lester's wild pitch to provide the winning run in the 4th.

Astros pitching
Oswalt enjoyed the best start of the Spring by any Astro starter, but the bullpen of Lindstrom, Fulchino, Gervacio, Majewski, and Wright held the Red Sox to two hits over the final five innings. Best news of the day: Astros pitchers struck out six and only walked two. Gervacio helped himself out by picking off Sheely at first base. If Gervacio can keep this up, he'll find himself on the Big Team while Wesley Wright goes to Round Rock to turn himself into a starter, even though that would only leave one LHP in the bullpen.

Astros batting
There wasn't a whole lot going on with the Astros' bats, but they did enough to win - which is going to have to be a theme in 2010. The Astros got hits from Matsui, Kata, two from Towles, and one from Esposito, Lee, Sullivan, and Quintero.

0-fers (more than one AB): Bourn (0x2), Johnson (0x2), Shelton (0x3), Manzella (0x3)

Positional Battles

Towles: 2x3 (.550)
Esposito: 1x1 (.250)
Quintero: 1x3 (.211)

Sullivan: 1x3 (.150)

Man of the Match
Roy Oswalt.

Goat of the Game
Hard to say, this was a good performance all around. Bourn was 0x2 to drop his Spring average to .115, but did draw a walk (as did Chris Johnson). How about we give it to Chris Shelton - 0x3 with two Ks and a GIDP.

Vallejo outrighted to Round Rock

This is hardly surprising, but Jose Vallejo was outrighted to Round Rock, where he had to clear waivers to do so. He did. Apparently 29 MLB teams aren't interested in picking up a guy who got pwned by a dead pig.

Vallejo will head off to rehab in Triple-A, so that clears up one spot on the 40-man roster, which the Astros will need as they separate the sheep from the goats this week.

Lyon being pushed up

Zach Levine tweeted that Brandon Lyon's simulated game has been pushed up to today.

Right now, mainly because of the two-week head start, Lindstrom is in line to be our CL1. Lyon could make a late push but for now Lindstrom should get the first crack at closing games. We've all heard that the closer position will be a fluid spot for a while, though Brad Mills is in favor of defining a role. Looks like that's what will happen...

And Levine is now tweeting that Lyon will make his Spring Training debut on Thursday. Hooray.

Lineup for Red Sox & Yankees

Arguably the hardest day in Astros' Spring Training history (pause for yawning) as the Astros take on the Red Sox and the Yankees today.

Lineup vs. Boston:
Bourn (CF)
Matsui (2B)
Towles (C)
Lee (LF)
Johnson (3B)
Shelton (1B)
Sullivan (RF)
Quintero (DH)
Manzella (SS)

Lineup vs. Yankees:
Bourgeois (CF)
Keppinger (2B)
Pence (RF)
Blum (1B)
Feliz (3B)
Michaels (LF)
Castro (C)
Maysonet (SS)
Bogusevic (DH)

Zach Levine's Cliff's Notes

Zach Levine has the short version of what we should be keeping our eye on this Spring.

A couple of things of note:

-Is there concern about Wandy Rodriguez?
There is none. Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros believe his struggles are not injury-related, and he's working out some kinks. But he's someone to watch closely after nine runs in five innings.

-Wesley Wright's role
Wesley Wright could be squeezed out of the bullpen mix if Sammy Gervacio or any other young pitcher emerges as a candidate.

Cuts will be made on Sunday, and there are some high-profile games with the Red Sox and Yankees to play this week, so if someone is going to distinguish themselves, it needs to happen soon.

Everybody hearts Brad Mills

Maureen Mullen of the Daily Item has a really long piece about Brad Mills and the Astros playing the Red Sox today. But long story short, everybody loves him.

"I can honestly say from the very first day of pitchers and catchers workout that [Mills has] been as advertised. His enthusiasm. His passion for the game. The way he cares about players. His attention to detail. The way he's utilized and folded in his staff, not only the big league staff but all the other guys we have in camp right now serving as instructors, they all have a role. Things have been clearly defined. They're having fun. There's a pace and a tempo to it. And it really is a result of the trend that he established from the very first day."

Mills, on his biggest challenge:
"Being the one in the seat. I could talk to Terry about all kinds of moves and things and we could discuss it. But you know what? He's the one who had to pull the trigger and make the choice. And that experience was immeasurable, but now I'm the one that has to pull the trigger and make the choice. I think getting used to that, there's no doubt."

Hey, so if Blum can keep hitting .450, we might be okay

Zach Levine's article tells us that the lineups we're seeing are starting to look more like the lineups we'll see come April 5. Of course, Berkman's readiness on Opening Day is a question, and that's forcing Geoff Blum to be more flexible.

The major question is whether first baseman Lance Berkman is healthy enough to return for opening day.

In his absence, Geoff Blum started in the No. 5 spot in the lineup Sunday, giving protection to Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee, who batted third and fourth, respectively.

Manager Brad Mills said Sunday's lineup that scored eight runs in the first four innings didn't definitely represent the one he would write in on opening day, but he said he could see it as a possibility.

“We're still playing around with that. If he continues to swing the bat well, I think everyone could see why I'd want him in that fifth spot."

I'm okay with Blum hitting fifth - if he hits like a #5 hitter. Maybe not at the first sign of struggle, but at least at the second or third sign of struggle, I would hope that Mills shakes it up.

Galveston Daily News is not happy

The Galveston Daily News wins the Eeyore Award of the Day for Evan Mohl's column about how depressed he is with the 2010 Astros:

Baseball is one of my favorite sports. I grew up playing, and it was the first sport I fell in love with, combing over box scores every morning in the paper before school.

And nothing compares to the chess quality of baseball. There are so many possibilities and combinations that go into one pitch. It’s a game of nuance and complexity that, to me, is unparalleled.

So when pitchers and catchers report, I get giddy. It means baseball season is coming, summer is near and hope for every team.

Except the Houston Astros.

I can’t get excited about the Astros. I’ve tried. I look up and down the roster, combed the minor league system and researched statistics...

...I’ll be surprised if the Astros win 75 games.

If I can’t find anything to like, with my rose-colored glasses, than it’s really bad. It’s depressing.

Bagwell impressed with Pence

But really, what else was he going to say? The Austin American-Statesman a Nocturnal Emissions-worthy piece on Hunter Pence's rising star.

"I'm very impressed with his work ethic. He goes as hard as anybody I've seen. He's in the weight room and batting cage every single day during the offseason just trying to get better. You have to appreciate that from a kid his age."

I'd like to see him become more of a run-producer. I'd like to see him hit a few more home runs and drive some more guys in. I think that's the next step in his evolution, is to move from that 70 or 80 RBI plateau up to 100 RBIs and be a consistent 30 home-run hitter. I think he's capable of doing it."

"I know what my potential is. I don't worry about pressure or expectations. I probably have higher expectations for myself than anyone else. I use it drive myself."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Greenies in the clubhouse

First of all, it should be noted that my friends over at the had the link to this first.

But over at Morgan Ensberg's (excellent) blog, a commenter asked a question:

“Did you use PED’s and did you see others using them? A simple yes or no will not do.”

Stuart I am pumped up that you asked me that! I didn’t use steroids or anything else that helped build muscle.

The only thing I saw in the clubhouse was “greenies” which I have done about 10 times. Greenies are basically “uppers” and they didn’t do anything to me. I am not sure if that is a good thing.

I drink a ton of coffee and would drink something like 2 redbulls before a game if I felt sluggish.

I always use this analogy. In Hermosa Beach, where I grew up, there were a bunch of kids who smoked weed. I was asked if I wanted to smoke, but I said no and that was the end of it.

I eventually smoked in college about 30 times and I liked it. But I noticed that it made me eat a lot and I didn’t need any help in that department.

Back to the point, I didn’t smoke so I wasn’t in “that club”. If you are not in the group then you have no idea what guys are doing it. The same thing happened in college with cocaine. I have never done cocaine, but some of my buddies did and I had no idea. I just thought that they were really hyper.

My opinion is this. I can’t fault anyone for doing steroids because they are trying to do everything they can to get to the big leagues. I played in the Dominican and Venezuela and nothing you say will change my opinion on a guy making a decision to feed his family. This isn’t apples and apples.

I don’t even think that those guys who did do steroids pushed me out of the game. I had the ability to play the game at the highest level and that is really cool to me.

Okay. So once I get the link to the post, I'll link it, and remove this sentence. But let's make note of a few things:

1. This is something that HOVG already said, but it bears repeating: this is incredibly ballsy for Ensberg to say.

2. Now that's out of the way: There were greenies apparently in the clubhouse. We don't have a year, or a team. So that's either in the five seasons he was with the Astros or the season and a half he was with the Padres and Yankees.

3. If we're all trying to move past the issue of enhancers (which will never go away), then what we can do here is shrug our shoulders and go, "Huh."

FanGraphs unsurprisingly ranks Astros #30

FanGraphs' Dave Cameron listed the Astros 30/30 in his Organizational Ranking index. Because why not - the target is a mile wide.

The Astros probably aren’t the worst team in baseball. With a couple of solid drafts of late, they may not have the worst farm system anymore. And, thanks to the guys up in KC, they aren’t the worst run organization either. But their combination of a bad roster full of old players with large contracts and a management that is either unwilling to admit that a rebuild is necessary or unwilling to commit to one makes them the franchise that needs more help than any other.

Oh, and did you know that Jason Castro, Jiovanni Mier, and Jordan Lyles aren't "franchise players?":
There is some hope on the farm, but it’s mostly a few years away, and there’s not a lot of depth there. It falls off quickly after Castro, Mier, and Lyles, none of whom are franchise players. They spent too many years ignoring both Latin America and the draft, and even with a recent reconversion back to building from within, the years of neglect have left them in bad shape going forward. The core of the next good Astros team is not yet in the Houston organization, requiring them to make a lot of savvy moves to bring in some high quality young players.

Oh, and you should read the comments. They're pure gold.

Holy Crap.

Buster Olney's Pujols-for-Howard rumor made everybody guano crazy for a few days, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss has some relevant information for us Astros fans.

First, we see that the rumor has really pissed off Tony LaRussa which, I think we can all agree, is satisfying.

Second, we see that the Astros are on his list of teams to which he would approve a trade:

Pujols said last month any talks regarding an extension will be placed on hold once the season starts. The narrow window for a deal has led to a widespread belief that the matter will push into next winter. Pujols currently enjoys partial no-trade protection that allows him to specify each November fewer than 10 teams to which he will accept a trade. Pujols cited the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels, the Houston Astros and the Florida Marlins as teams on his current list.

Good God...

But let's make a clarifying note: there is no way the Astros could pull this off. Cardinals fans would riot in the streets if they traded Pujols to Houston, and didn't get big-league talent in return. Even if the Astros traded Roy, plus the entire 2008 draft class, they would still have to sign him to that extension - around $300 million. An organization like the Astros, who are trying to contend and rebuild isn't doing both, even if they had the pieces to trade.

Bobby Valentine: Mentor

Nice article from Brian McTaggart on Tommy Manzella's Japanese lessons, to better communicate with Kaz.

"I've been picking up on it pretty good, but just the basic stuff..."[Valentine] said it goes a long way as far as your relationship if they see you, not only them trying to make an effort to learn your language, but you making an effort to learn their language. That's the kind of people they are. They show that as a sign of respect. He said take a couple of words every day and, by the time you realize it, you have a vocabulary of 50, 60 words."

Matsui's translator, Yoshitaka Ono:
"He obviously tries to communicate with Kaz. I don't know if he's going to do it with Japanese on the field, but it's good enough, and to see the effort to try to communicate makes Kaz feel more comfortable. He learned how to say little general words and count one through 50 and some baseball terms. The basic stuff."

First class.

Berkman as a fantasy stud

Tristan Cockcroft takes on Lance Berkman's fantasy value, and has some things to say:

To say that Berkman might need longer than four weeks to return to the playing field, not to mention be at high risk for another visit to the disabled list, is fair. If you're looking for a projected number of games played, his 136 from last season might actually be on the high side of his scale.

Berkman's performance when healthy last season also regressed, especially his performance versus left-handers. A switch-hitter, Berkman managed only .231/.293/.418 (AVG/OBP/SLG) numbers from the right side of the plate in 2009, resulting in his worst OPS (.711) in any full big-league season. That alone doesn't condemn him in the talent department, but it's a trend that bears watching, being that it has been a relative weakness for his entire career and seemed most noticeable last season. It might portend a downslope of his career that extends the next couple of years and deepens each passing season.

It's not all bad, but it's certainly not all good.

McTaggart's projected Opening Day roster

Brian McTaggart projects the Astros' 25-man Opening Day roster. Who are the surprises?

Catcher: J.R. Towles
Both Towles and Castro are swinging good bats this spring, but this won't be an offensive position. They want someone to catch and handle the pitchers, etc. Eventually, that guy is going to be Castro, but considering he hasn't played above Double-A I think he'll start the season in Round Rock but will be starting at some point.

IF6: Edwin Maysonet
I'm putting the versatile Maysonet in this spot over Lance Berkman, who could begin the season on the disabled list after undergoing minor knee surgery. Berkman's goal is to be back, but the Astros are not going to rush him. If he needs a few extra days at the beginning of the season, he'll get them. Thus, Maysonet makes the club out of spring.

OF5: Cory Sullivan
I see Sullivan winning this job over Jason Bourgeois, Yordany Ramirez, Brian Bogusevic and Alex Romero. Sullivan has more experience in the Majors, he can run (not as well as Bourgeois, but he's not slow) and he hits left-handed, which is desperately needed off the bench.

SP5: Felipe Paulino
I could have just as easily put Brian Moehler here, but Paulino is coming off a good outing and, man, does he have a great arm. At the end of the day, the Astros want him in the rotation, and Moehler can pitch out of the bullpen.

BP7: Alberto Arias
The final spot in the bullpen is very much wide open. Arias has shoulder inflammation, so who knows how that will unfold? Sammy Gervacio is pitching pretty well and could just as easily be in this spot as well, but remember that Arias is out of options. They like his arm when healthy.

It's hard to argue with any of these...

FanGraphs apologizes to Jason Castro, and tells us to prepare for The Bleak

FanGraphs has a new post on the Astros' future talent, and while the sun is shining, it's apparently going to be stormy until 2013.

First, an apology to Jason Castro:
we have to give Heck credit for choosing his Best Player Available without fail, never pausing to consider their ETA. This insulation mentality of drafting began immediately, when Heck took Jason Castro from Stanford ten to twenty picks before anyone thought he would go. But we were wrong, because Castro is going to be a very solid Major League catcher to guide this team into their next era. With quick feet and good contact skills, Castro has the essential foundation for Major League success.

The future:
After 2012, Carlos Lee is off the books, along with Roy Oswalt, Brandon Lyon. Berkman and Wandy Rodriguez come off after 2011. By then, the meat of Heck’s first drafts will be ready for the Major Leagues, perhaps just as Hunter Pence and Bud Norris are ready to hit their peak. Before that happens, it’s going to get worse in Houston. A lot worse.

I don't know about "A lot worse." The next two seasons are going to be rough, but I look at 2009 as The Dark Age for Astros baseball.

Bleacher Report: Astros should sign Jermaine Dye

The Bleacher Report is apparently a fan of signing as many 2005 Chicago White Sox to the 2010 Houston Astros as possible, and this article says the Astros should sign Jermaine Dye:

What is somewhat unclear is whether he still has anything in the tank. Dye, 36, suffered through a miserable second half last season that has scared off all potential suitors this winter. After leaping out to first half numbers that included 20 home runs and a .302 average, Dye fell into a slump that lasted the remainder of his season. After the All-Star break, he hit just .179, and slugged less than .300.

With such a well-established performance record, however, it would behoove several teams to at least consider giving the two-time All-Star a chance to prove himself. Dye has said this off-season that he would be open to a move to first base, so the Astros could use him as a fourth outfielder (current stop-gap Jason Michaels is an unsatisfactory choice), a top-tier pinch-hitter and a good back-up option to Berkman, allowing the switch-hitting slugger to stay fresh as the season wears on.

There are two big "Ifs" here: (1) If Dye would take a bench role, and (2) if Dye would take a LOT less money. I don't see it happening, I don't think the Astros are interested, and I would be very surprised if Dye was, too.

Fixler Files, Vol. 2

Over at Farmstros, Jonathan Fixler has been providing updates from Spring Training. Here's a pull from Fixler on Tyler Lumsden and Chris Salamida:

This afternoon, one of the pens I caught was for Tyler Lumsden. He appears to be at full strength (last years suffering from some arm soreness) and with his clean bill of health he is throwing with greater velocity, had great control over his off speed pitches, and seems to be right on track for the season. The first day of live batting practice I was extremely impressed with Chris Salamida. In the past year Sal has changed his arm slot to throw from underneath, and it is apparent he has grown more comfortable, having become more precise with the location of his fastball and increased the depth on his slider.

Good stuff - so head over to Farmstros and check out the previous post.

'77 Astros Update

Over at Play That Funky Baseball, your '77 Astros performed in the following manner:

Cubs 6
Astros 13

My dead bubbie could pitch better than Bill Bonham does here for the Cubs, and Broberg, Moore and Lamp come on to take turns taking ones for the team.

HR: Cedeno

Cubs 6
Astros 5

After Joe Niekro’s super first start he walks nine Cubbies in this one, five in the first inning. Houston ties it up off Burris eventually, but Ontiveros wins it with a solo pop in the 9th.

L-K. Forsch

Record: 5-4
GB: 1

Rotation Stats

Here's your latest pitching stats so far this Spring for the rotation candidates! These stats only take into account "A" games, and two straight rainouts affected Roy and Moehler, but here's what we've got.



Fulchino is way more comfortable this year

Jeff Fulchino is a little more comfortable this year, in that when he gives up two runs in an inning, he doesn't start looking for apartments in Round Rock.

“Instead of being like ‘hey, I have to make the team' and going with my best stuff, I think this year I have the luxury of being able to work on stuff a little bit more instead of worrying about my stat line. To make the team, it was about throwing up zeros last year.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Updated Offensive Stats

Here's your latest offensive stats, and we'll hit up the pitching stats a little later (notice we won't be including Lance in this, but he's - obviously - a lock)

Lineup Locks




IF6 Candidates


OF5 Candidates


Recap for ST?: Astros v. Braves

What Happened?
The Astros got 16 hits - four for extra-bases - in an 8-5 win over the Braves.

Why They Won
The 6-run 4th inning had a whole lot to do with it, with back-to-back homers by Pence and Carlos Lee (Lee's first of the year, and Pence's first since the two-HR-in-one-inning game to open the Spring). Errors by McCann and Linares led to three unearned runs for the Astros (all three in those homers).

Astros pitching
Myers had his longest outing of the Spring with 4IP, allowing 6H/2ER, and dialing up an impressive 6Ks to go with 3BB. Five relievers followed with one IP each, and everybody got out unscathed, except for Tim Byrdak who allowed 3H/3ER, 1K:2BB, including a homer for Brian McCann, who also hit a homer off Myers. Roy Corcoran gave up three hits, but got out of the jam, while Evan Englebrook had a perfect inning, followed by scoreless outings by Abad and Wilton Lopez.

Astros batting
We've already talked about the big days by Pence and Lee, but Tommy Manzella was 2x3 with a run scored as Mills ran out a preview of what the Opening Day lineup could look like without Berkman. And it was as follows: Bourn, Matsui, Pence, Lee, Blum (1B), Feliz, Manzella, Quintero, and the pitcher's spot. In a somewhat-troubling statistic, Astros batters struck out eight times and only drew one walk (captip, Jason Michaels).

0-fers (more than one AB): Shelton (0x2)

Positional Battles

Quintero: 1x3, run (.188)
Santangelo: 1x1 (.333)

Sullivan: 0x1 (.118)
Romero: 1x2 (.444), picked off first

Navarro: 1x2 (.286)
Shelton: 0x2 (.250)
Johnson: 1x1 (.333)
Maysonet: 1x1 (.500)

Man of the Match
Hunter Pence! 2x3 with 3RBI

Goat of the Game
Tim Byrdak: 1IP, 3H/3ER + 2BB.

Lyon getting closer, and Myers gets stretched out

In McTaggart's afternoon update, we see that Brandon Lyon is getting closer to being ready for game action.

Ed Wade:
I know both Arnsberg and Mills were really happy with what they saw. It seems like he's on schedule at this point. Brad Arnsberg was really raving about his command, not just this outing but overall. He said he could throw his curveball for strikes at will. He was really complimentary of his overall command."

And Brett Myers threw 78 pitches today - 51 for strikes - in his longest outing of the Spring today (4IP, 6H/2ER, 6K:3BB):

"There's plenty of time to get everything working. I'm happy with the way my changeup's coming around and my fastball location is pretty good. I'm pretty happy with the way it went overall because it's getting better from the first time to second time and this."

Berkman remains hopeful for Opening Day

Zach Levine has an update on Berkman's optimism for Opening Day, balanced with a healthy dose of caution.

I can't promise it, but certainly that's my goal. Opening day is great, but it is just a game, so I'm not going to jeopardize two or three weeks of the season just if I don't feel like I'm ready to go on opening day. I either will be ready on opening day, or it will be shortly thereafter...

...In two weeks, I'll be able to do pretty much everything. I'm not sure they're going to want me to play in a game at that point, but I think two weeks, and I think I should be pretty much back to normal."

Catching up

We're going to act as though you've read everything in AstroWorld since the last post, as I've now returned from another travel weekend. Let's get to it.

Yorman Bazardo left yesterday's game with tightness in his rotator cuff, and will be evaluated on Tuesday.

Bazardo is a long shot to win the SP5 job, but could be in the mix if one of the rotation goes down for an extended period of time.