Friday, March 26, 2010

Jason Grey: continually impressed with Paulino

Previously, ESPN's Jason Grey was high on Felipe Paulino's sleeper status for fantasy baseball. Now he has an update:

Earlier this week, I came away impressed after watching Paulino give up seven hits and one run while walking one and striking out six in five innings of work. While he's not quite there yet, his command has definitely improved from the last time I saw him, and he still topped out at 97 mph on my gun, usually sitting between 93 and 96. His slider also was on in this outing. It was a nasty pitch that was between 84-87 mph with late tilt, though it still got a little slurvy at times, and he threw a couple of decent mid-80s changeups with some sink, too.

While finding consistent location is still a work in progress for him, Paulino at least showed some semblance of being able to work both sides of the plate, which I hadn't seen before. He's going to have to make sure his front side doesn't open a bit too early, which leaves the ball up in the zone, but that happened less frequently this week than starts I've seen from him in the past. Consider him squarely on my sleeper list, as I saw a lot of things I was hoping to see.


Footer's Twitter Updates

A couple of updates on the HurtStros:

-Bourn took four ABs in a minor league game today, and will likely be with the Big Club for tomorrow's game

-Berkman took batting practice today off hitting coach Sean Berry and "felt good."

More on Roy's butt

McTaggart has a longer article on Roy's injury, complete with quotes.

Ed Wade:
"On Sunday, he started the game and the rain came, and he went into the cage to finish off his throwing. And a couple of pitches into it, he felt a pinch of some kind in his glute muscle, his rear end. So they've been treating that and he was cleared to go today. At some point today, he felt something on the same side with this hamstring. With the back history and so on and so forth, it makes sense to pop him in there and get him looked at."

"I felt a little tight in the cage, but nothing major. Today, I didn't feel anything. My hammy got tight toward the end. I told them I could go a couple of more innings, but it's Spring Training. It's nothing major. If I need to pitch seven [innings] today, I could have gotten through it."

Not sure if Roy's reference to "the cage" was where he throws on the side, or if that's what he calls his rear end. More later.

Recap for ST22: Astros v. Pirates

What Happened?
Chris Johnson hit a walk-off homer to defeat the Pirates, 6-4. And Roy got hurt. But it might not be serious.

Why They Won
Well, you see, when you get an at-bat in the bottom of the 9th that ultimately gives your team a lead over the other team, you win. Aside from Johnson's homer, the Astros took advantage of the Pirates' bullpen, scoring four runs in the 8th and the two in the 9th.

Astros pitching
Oswalt gave up his first earned run of the Spring, but struck out six Pirates before exiting after the 4th with a tight hamstring. Brandon Lyon came on for 1IP, allowing just a hit. Bud Norris threw the final four innings, giving up 4H/3ER, 3K:1BB

Astros batting
Zach Duke dominated the Astros. In his 6.2IP, Duke only gave up two hits and a walk. But once the Astros got a hold of the bullpen, they went off. Duke faced 23 Astros, and three got on base. The bullpen as a group faced 13 Astros, and seven got on base. Aside from Chris Johnson's walk-off, his 5th homer of the Spring, only one Astro had a multi-hit game: T.J. Steele, who was 2x4 with an RBI and a stolen base. Drew Locke came in for one AB for Jason Michaels, and got himself a 3-run triple.

0-fers (more than one AB): Keppinger (0x3), Michaels (0x2), Lee (0x4), Feliz (0x2), Castro (0x2)

Positional Battles

Castro: 0x2 (.310)
Quintero: 0x2 (.250)

Johnson: 1x2, 2RBI, K, BB, 2R (.326)
Maysonet: 1x4, (.333)

Man of the Match
Chris Johnson. For obvious reasons.

Goat of the Game
How about Bud Norris. In his second appearance since the stomach bug came and bit him, his ERA is now a nice little 9.28.

Levine: Sending Wright down was the right move

And I agree with him:

This is not a situation, though, where the Astros are likely to be ruining his career by stretching him out. He was at times very capable, but definitely on the fringes of holding down a big league job as a reliever.

He'll now head down to Class AAA Round Rock and build up his stamina. He'll also continue develop a changeup, which the Astros want him to use against righties and lefties, in hopes of completing an arsenal suited to making a few trips through a lineup.

It will leave Tim Byrdak (who has had tremendous BABIP luck in the last couple years) as the only lefthander in the Astros' bullpen, but a team without a true lefty specialist probably would have been without one even if Wright had made the bullpen.

So the main concern is this: what will happen if Byrdak's BABIP regresses to the mean, and he's not as effective as he has been? Of course the better infield defense will keep that BABIP lower than it would have been had the Astros kept Blum/Tejada on the left side of the infield. And as Byrdak is a lefty, hitters will be pulling the ball between Matsui and Berkman/Whoever Is At 1B (which, oh yeah, might be Blum). There wouldn't be another lefty in the bullpen...can the Astros handle that?

Now this is just getting ridiculous

Bernardo Fallas is tweeting that Roy Oswalt left today's Spring Training game with a mild hamstring strain. McTaggart follows that up with a report that Roy will be checked out by team physician Dr. David Lintner in Houston.

Back in 2007, the Yankees experienced a rash of injuries that lead to the firing of the team's conditioning coach after Phil Hughes, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, and Hideki Matsui went down with various muscle pulls and strains. I'm not saying that anybody should be fired, but the game-related injuries on this team are getting ridiculous.

Wrote Jon Heyman:
Though the rash of similar injuries possibly could be explained by bad luck, Cashman determined that cause and effect could not be ruled out. Sources say Miller's methods were not popular with the Yankees, and the players were in near-revolt over the situation. Miller's approach included a de-emphasis of running as a way to build leg strength.

Alyson Footer has a quote from Roy:
"It's nothing. I could have kept pitching. But I'm not going to fight them over another spring training inning."

'77 Astros lose again

Your 1977 Astros dropped another one, this time at Montreal:

Montreal finally wins another one after their mini-slump with a well-pitched game by both sides. Big Perez single drives in winners in the 7th.

Record: 7-9
GB: 2

We may be seeing the last of Yorman Bazardo

Within Brian McTaggart's separate blog post with updates on injuries, we are reminded that Yorman Bazardo is out of options.

So if he gets sent to Round Rock, he'll have to clear waivers first. It could happen, especially with his shoulder strain, but to avoid that he would have to make the Major League club, and that ain't happening.

We also see that Manzella ran at 60% yesterday with no problems, Bourn could get into the Major-League lineup tomorrow, and Berkman is still hopeful for Opening Day (despite not running, or hitting. Or fielding.)

On Wesley Wright's to-do list

In Brian McTaggart's piece on the roster cuts today (with 13 more still to come), Wesley Wright got himself a to-do list:

"Basically, they want me to command the fastball better and keep the ball down and work ahead of guys. I'm eager to see how it plays out. I'm eager to see what the next month is going to hold, and hopefully it all plays out like we think. My thing was to come in and show the new staff what I had in whatever capacity they wanted to see me in. I really didn't think I was guaranteed anything as a starter. I came in and wanted to open some eyes."

Minor-League assignments

Okay, quick update, and then more later:

Wesley Wright, Shane Loux, and Oswaldo Navarro have been sent to minor-league camp.

Alberto Arias will start the season on the DL, but his shoulder is feeling better.

Bourn will play in a Minor-League game today.

Heck ranked 15th

(Captip to the Crawfish Boxes for the link):

A couple of weeks ago at MLB Bonus Baby, they took a stab at ranking the 30 Scouting Directors. Because you can only obsess over Spring Training games for so long...

So Bobby Heck ranked 15th (low, methinks):

Heck has spearheaded a new way of drafting with the Astros, a team that would have been dead last in my rankings two years ago. He’s moving up this list quickly, and I like his unique system of finding live arms through private workouts. He needs to work on finding solid hitters, but with a couple more successful drafts, he could be the best drafter for arms beyond the first round.

Heck will be a GM one day, I just hope it's about five years from now.

Gervacio and Lopez: Front-runners?

Bernardo Fallas thinks so. And there's even a quote from Brad Mills:

“The thing about Wilton and Sammy, the way they approach each hitter, each pitch and each at-bat, how great is it to have guys like that and have them have the success they are having. It's really nice to see the demeanor and mound presence that they have out there."

Thursday, March 25, 2010


And so we learn where some minor-leagers are heading:

To Triple-A:
RHP Evan Englebrook
RHP Jose Valdez
LHP Polin Trinidad
SS Wladimir Sutil
OF Brian Bogusevic
OF Yordany Ramirez

To Double-A:
RHP Matt Nevarez
RHP Henry Villar
LHP Fernando Abad

None of these are terribly surprising. Although if Villar is at Double-A, skipping High-A, it's a good clue for Lyles, Seaton, Dydalewicz, etc...

Myers doesn't think he'll miss next start

Brett Myers is planning on making his next start, bad groin be damned.

"I felt something, and I learned from previous muscle stuff to not push it again. I gave it one throw and felt it a little bit and thought, 'It's not worth it.' If I did keep going, I could have [been out] a month instead of like three days."

If anyone knows what previous muscle stuff feels like, it's that guy.

Ahhh hell

Brian McTaggart is reporting that trainers have gone to the mound to visit Brett Myers. He threw one warm-up pitch and left the mound.

Okay, update, from Alyson Footer: Mild groin strain. Myers:

"I felt it when I ran over to first. I felt a pinch in there. I gave it one (warmup) throw. It wasn't worth it (to keep pitching.) We'll just see how it is tomorrow. It wasn't painful enough to where I said "oh crap, this is serious."

DL Notes

Brian McTaggart explains how the DL works in Spring Training in his new article.

Essentially, the earliest a player can be put on the DL is Friday. If a player appears in a game in which admission is charged after he is put on the DL, it affects that player's eligibility. So it's not like the Astros could put him on the DL on Saturday, have him play the exhibition games at Minute Maid against the Blue Jays, and then go back on the DL. That's why this weekend is so big for Lance: if he responds well to his rehab, he may not have to go on the DL. If it doesn't, and he goes on the DL, he'll miss the first four games of the season for sure.

Alberto Arias is also likely headed to the DL, but those two are the biggest DL risks as of now.

One guy who looks like he's pitching with a noodle arm is Tim Byrdak, but Brad Mills ain't scurred:
"No. 1, you're always kind of wondering, but at the same time he's really shown flashes of how he throws during the season. Looking back at his spring history, he hasn't had the best Spring Trainings in the past but really throws the ball well during the season. You don't want to overlook what's happening this spring, but if there's some adjustment that can be made, [pitching coach Brad Arnsberg] is making those adjustments the best he can. At the same time, you can't put all the stock in what' happening this spring."

Brad Mills drops knowledge on us

In a series of tweets from Alyson Footer, Brad Mills dropped a whole bunch of stuff. Here it is, as though it was one tweet:

Mills, addressing media, said Bourn will likely be the first of the injured players to return to action. Also said this weekend will be big for Puma, "to see if the knee keeps not swelling as much. This weekend is going to tell us a lot." Bourn could be ready to play this weekend. Norris will make his next start in a minor league game & Moehler will continue to get stretched out as a starter, but likely will piggyback w/another starter. In other words he'll be pitching out of 'pen."

So Bourn will be back soon, Berkman's big weekend starts tomorrow, and Moehler is likely headed to the bullpen. Good news all around!

Dave Raymond has some observations

Dave Raymond notices a few things about these Astros.


As a team, the Astros have a .305 batting average and a .501 slugging percentage. Both of those are the best in the Grapefruit League.

I've talked to several coaches from other clubs who have told me that they voted for Feliz to win the Gold Glove last year at third base. He's that good. Meanwhile, Manzella has shown quite a bit more range than Miguel Tejada did the past two seasons.

Felipe Paulino
New pitching coach, Brad Arnsberg, has worked diligently with the enigmatic right-hander to "clean up" his delivery. Keep in mind that Arnsberg has worked with guys like Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett and says Paulino has "as good an arm as I've been around in a long time."



Oswalt hasn't pitched much
This is only a very small concern. Oswalt has felt great and is throwing even better.

Numbers for relievers can be deceiving -- especially given the scarcity of innings in the cases of Byrdak and Wright. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is a veteran of this process and seems confident that all will be fine by April 6th.

I think the less Oswalt throws in the Spring (aside from what he needs to get ready, of course), the better.

Astros rank 9th on optimism index

You say you need a reason for optimism? CBS Sports' Larry Dobrow came up with an Optimism Index for all 30 MLB teams. And if you're good at context clues, you already know the Astros are 9th:

See, this is what happens when you hire a manager who can fill out a lineup card without incident and communicate intelligibly with his charges. The team still sucks, sure, but the vibe is righteous. ... The catcher candidates have impressed. ... For all his sneaky-good baserunning, it's not like speed is a big part of Lance Berkman's game. He'll be as sluggy and giggly as ever when he returns from the minor knee surgery.

Oh. Well...that's not very nice.

Bourn could return this week

Within Fallas' Notes Column, we read that Michael Bourn could return to the lineup as early as Friday.

In his absence, it looks like Cory Sullivan has wrapped up the OF5 spot, mainly because of Bourgeois' injuries to both of his hamstrings.

Astros Global Enterprises

Richard Justice checks in with a column on the globalization of the Houston Astros:

Last summer, the franchise spent $3 million to sign 16 foreign-born players. Ten of the 16 are Dominicans, but there was at least one signing from South Korea, Italy, Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua.

By comparison, the club spent $5.5 million to sign 36 American-born draft picks, with the top three getting 40 percent of that ($2.2 million).

That's 52 new players in the organization in a year. Somewhere amid the 52, the Astros hope there's another Lance Berkman, another Roy Oswalt and, in the greater numbers, a nudge back in the direction of winning the right way — that is, without being dependent on free agency.

We've spent a lot of time defending Ed Wade and justifying the job he's done to the likes of Ken Rosenthal, but this is just great. The effort that has been taken with Glen Barker on the Pacific Rim is already starting to pay dividends, and the Astros are becoming more of a global presence. When the new facility opens in the Dominican, it will provide a more attractive option for Dominican players and will be a better bargaining chip on behalf of the Astros.

Rosenthal and Neyer might not be able to see it, but Ed Wade is laying the foundation for the Astros for years to come.

Bray Day! Episode 19

Aaron Bray's postings have been a touch more rare lately as he's busy, you know, playing for the Astros. But he did have a minute to check in and fill us in on what's happening in minor-league Astros camp:

Things are going well down here in Florida. The weather is nice down here, and we go hard everyday from early a.m. to mid afternoon. We started playing games - playing three, one against each of the nearby teams: Detroit, Atlanta and Washington. Things are going to start getting a little heated as people will be cut and are battling for spots on rosters. Today we had an off-day so I was able to go out and play some golf, it was nice to have a day away from the field. Tomorrow it is back to work and finish hard since we have only about a week left. We have one camp day left and the rest of the days we play games.

J.B. MacDonald checks in from Spring Training

J.B. MacDonald has a guest post for the Danvers Herald on what Spring Training has been like, and it sounds uncertain:

I am still not sure where I will be playing this season or whether or not I will be a starter or reliever, but for now I am just focused on getting my arm in shape and ready for a long season.

The days have been flying by, and seem to be blending together since my routine has been basically the same since I’ve been down here.

The hardest thing for me has been to stay focused, when there are about 80 other pitchers down here all fighting for a spot on a team just like I am.

Things are becoming clearer

Bernardo Fallas notes that things are starting to make a little more sense for Brad Mills regarding the catcher spot:

On Towles:
“He's done a real good job. He's hustling, working with pitchers, calling games, receiving, throwing and also swinging the bat.”

“I think things are going real well. I think my relationship with the pitchers is getting a lot better, and I feel I'm getting to know the guys a little better and getting more comfortable with them. And I'm swinging the bat pretty well right now.”

I still think that, because of Towles' crimes against humanity with the bat (in a good way), he'll start the season in Houston, and Jason Castro will head to Round Rock for some more seasoning. But if not being comfortable is what it takes for Towles to succeed, then he should be the next Joe Mauer, because as soon as Castro looks like he's ready he'll be up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Charlie Manuel misses Brett Myers

As the Astros prepare to play the Phillies tomorrow, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel misses opponent Brett Myers:

“I miss Myers. I miss getting on him. I miss his mouth. It’s been a lot quieter without him...I’ll be getting on him...I’m sure he’ll be making gestures. I wish him all the luck in the world – as long as the Phillies whip him,”

Yay! Drama!

Arnsberg shows Lindstrom new grip and poof - slider slides more

After Lindstrom struggled through his first outing, Brad Arnsberg pulled Matt Lindstrom aside and showed him a new grip. And it has worked.

I'm getting guys check-swinging on the slider, and I feel like I can throw it for strikes more. That's the key, for sure. Obviously everything comes off the fastball and locating it, but I think my secondary pitches are still coming. I've seen some pretty good results so far this spring, being able to throw them for a strike and also throwing them down and in to lefties. It's still coming along, and I'm glad we have another week and a half to work on it."

And this year, Arnsberg (and not being hurt. And not being in the World Baseball Classic) has helped:
"This year, I actually got a chance to work on things, get my feet wet and get some appearances and prepare myself to go out there and do the same thing during the course of a Major League season. That's going to pay big dividends, especially having a pitching coach that has shown me a few things and helped me get my secondary stuff over."

McTaggart makes his pitch for Daigle

In McTaggart's new article, he makes a case for Daigle getting Arias' bullpen spot.

"I feel like I've thrown the ball well. I've done what they've asked me to do and tried to do the best I could. I feel great, the arm feels great and my pitches feel good. My sinker feels good, my split feels great and my slider I'm able to throw behind or ahead in the count. I feel good where I'm at."

"When you throw the ball like that, you've got to be in the mix,"

Three Astros pitchers who are locks, or at least contenders, for the Opening Day staff have yet to allow a run: Roy, Lindstrom, and a dark-horse in Wilton Lopez. Next on the list is Casey Daigle. Roy and Lindstrom have each pitched six innings, but of ten pitchers who have thrown at least seven innings, Daigle and Gervacio have allowed the fewest earned runs. One. Gervacio has 11K:2BB, Daigle has 13K:1BB.

If you want both Daigle and Gervacio, think about this, keeping in mind that Lyon is a lock:


So there will be seven spots in the bullpen. Lyon and Lindstrom are locks. As is Moehler, because he'll make $3m in one of the more short-sighted moves of the off-season. Byrdak is in, too, because with Wright presumably going to Round Rock to start, he'll be the only lefty. So that's three spots for four pitchers (given that Arias is out). Sampson, Fulchino, Gervacio, and Daigle. You have to think that Sampson and Fulchino will be given preference due to previous success. What do you do?

Daigle makes a case for a bullpen spot

After Casey Daigle's performance today, Brad Mills is throwing Daigle's name in the ring for a bullpen spot.

Recap for ST20: Astros v. Mets

What Happened?
The Astros made another pitcher look like he's in mid-season form as Johan Santana and the Mets defeated the Astros 5-2 today.

Why They Lost
The pitching was okay, this time it was the defense that did in the Astros. Chris Johnson (fielding), Matt Kata (throwing), and Mark Ori (fielding) all made errors leading to three unearned runs which, obviously, provided the difference in today's game. Of course, Johan Santana helped, too - throwing 5.2IP, 8H/2ER, 2K:1BB, and then the Astros getting two hits and striking out five times over the next 3.1IP.

Astros pitching
Casey Daigle did a pretty great job in his spot start today, throwing 4IP, 3H/1R (0ER), 4K:0BB, and throwing 36 of his 55 pitches for strikes. The only earned runs came off the left hand of Tim Byrdak, who gave up a 2-out, 2-run homer to Daniel Murphy in the 6th that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead. Lindstrom and Wright had perfect outings, while Fulchino gave up 2H/2R (0ER) and an HBP in his IP.

Astros batting
The Astros actually managed ten hits, two each from Keppinger, Lee, and Johnson (who hit a homer off of Santana, his 4th of the Spring), and hits from Ori, Garciaparra, Maysonet, and Daigle rounded out the day. The Astros were 2x7 with RISP, Geoff Blum got himself two GIDPs, and Garciaparra was caught stealing second.

0-fers (more than one AB): Sullivan (0x2), Pence (0x4), Blum (0x3), Castro (0x2), Barnes (0x2), Towles (0x3)

Positional Battles

Castro: 0x2, K, two SBs allowed (.360)
Towles: 0x3, K (.400)

Johnson: 2x4, RBI, K (.325)
Maysonet: 1x4, R, K (.345)

Sullivan: 0x2, K, BB (.231)

Man of the Match
Casey Daigle. I don't think there's room for him on the roster, but he's getting himself in line for a call-up if there's an injury.

Goat of the Game
This could go to a few people. Blum, 0x3 with 2GIDPs. Or Pence: 0x4 with 5LOB. Both of 'em get a Goat.

Heyman: The Astros were smart not to fall for Berkman's wily schemes

In Jon Heyman's feel-good article on Dontrelle Willis, he mentions the decision to (not) pick up Berkman's option:

Lance Berkman's knee surgery is Exhibit A why teams should not pick up options ahead of time. Berkman tried to put public pressure on the Astros to pick his up. They made the right call to wait.

I never interpreted Berkman's discussion about his option as a way of pressuring the Astros to pick it up. But after the Astros got burned by picking up Coop's option last April, there's no way they'll make that mistake again. Because, don't forget, Coop will get paid $850,000 this year to not manage the Astros.

Boston Globe: Astros 4th-worst team

Tony Massarotti has ranked all teams by League. Our Astros clocked in at #13 in the NL:

Some of us have come to the conclusion that Houston is among the most anonymous teams in the major leagues. The older guys are getting old and the younger guys aren’t getting a lot better. Not a good mix.

And just so we're clear, the NL is referred to as "Quadruple-A" and the Red Sox and/or Yankees are referred to in no fewer than four of the team descriptions.

Freaking Ken Forsch...

Over at Play That Funky Baseball, your '77 Astros keep trading games with the Cardinals, like yesterday's doubleheader:

Astros 12
Cardinals 1

Eric I mean Harry I mean Eric Rasmussen bends over for the fearsome Astros, as Joe Niekro throws a game as great as his first one, before he threw the barfy one.

Astros 2
Cardinals 3

Weird, but these teams are 4-4 against each other now, after Ken Forsch comes in with a 2-1 lead in the 8th and Templeton hits his fifth triple of the year to knock in the winners.

Record: 7-8
GB: 2

Lineup for Astros v. Mets

Here's your lineup for today's game against the Mets:

1. Sullivan - CF
2. Keppinger - SS
3. Pence - RF
4. Lee - LF
5. Blum - 1B
6. Johnson - 3B
7. Castro - C
8. Maysonet - 2B
9. Daigle - P

Note that, because of rainouts and stomach bugs, Casey Daigle will get the start for the Astros today.

Tal Smith the reason Nolan left?

FoxSports has a near-nocturnal emissions-worthy profile on Rangers president and owner-to-be Nolan Ryan. But we see some background on why Nolan left the Astros. Twice.

He already had that kind of role with the Astros, where owner Drayton McLane enjoyed having the Texas icon hanging around, but the feeling within the organization was president Tal Smith did not welcome Ryan's presence. Smith had been the general manager when Ryan, after the 1979 season, signed with Houston as a free agent. Then-Astros owner John McMullen not only overruled Smith, who opposed the signing, but replaced Smith as the general manager a year later.

There's no indication as to why Tal wouldn't welcome Ryan's presence. Fame, demeanor, smell, whatever. Still, this is pretty interesting.

Big Bag of Bummer

The Perpetual Post has an NL Central preview for us this morning, in the form of a roundtable with Howard Megdal, Jason Clinkscales, and Chris Pummer:

HOWARD MEGDAL: Ugh. I love Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn sure is fast! Maybe Roy Oswalt isn’t as much in the decline phase as people think? Carlos Lee spends much of the time hitting, rather than fielding?

This looks like the worst team in baseball in 2010 to me.

JASON CLINKSCALES: Remember when the baseball world pointed and laughed at the New York Yankees for depleting their farm system to bring in aging veterans rendered ineffective in the insanity of The Boroughs? Yeah, I did that, too, but at least we knew that they had a core group of proven players to work with. The Astros thought they could replicate the model, but met drastic results.

A while back, Dan Szymborski, Chris Needham and Chris Pummer spoke on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Ed Wade’s tenure as general manager, but the decisions do come from the top. If owner Drayton McLane has learned the error of his ways in chasing the shiny new toy on the floor, the Astros can dig themselves out of their hole without too much impediments. Maybe this team will overachieve with the a refreshed air from new skipper Brad Mills over the canned Cecil Cooper, but not enough for those now-classic late season runs under former manager Phil Garner.

CHRIS PUMMER: I don’t know that there’s anything else to say. I hope they don’t rush Jason Castro and end up ruining the young catcher. Who is their shortstop?

There’s enough talent here to win more games than the Pirates, or maybe anyone else in the division who might have every possible thing go wrong for them. But the Astros will somehow find a way to be less interesting than any such team.

Not much to say after that.

"Play well right away"

Nice article by Bernardo Fallas on the emphasis being placed on starting the season maybe better than 3-7.

Kaz Matsui drops profundity on us:
“We all want to have a good start. A good start means the team is going to win.”

But injuries have complicated the promise of a fast start, says Mills:
“We have to take care of who we have. Our desire is to play well right away. We hope we are able to do that with whomever we put on the field, but we are not going to let that ambition hinder anything that we want to do with these players or take the chance of hurting one even more.”

"I am completely satisfied with the way we have prepared. We can talk about the tone and the atmosphere that Millsie and the coaches have created, but I think more importantly, the work itself, to me, has been exemplary. Obviously health always plays a part, and there is no guarantee that we get off to a fast start. … But from the standpoint of doing our best to prepare to be our best, I don't think we could have done anything else."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sullivan in line for OF5

Cory Sullivan is in line for the OF5 spot, so it would suggest from his team-high in ABs. Oh, and the love being showered upon him by Ed Wade, who stopped short of calling out his jock size:

Cory's done a nice job.He's done exactly what we thought he was capable of doing when we signed him. He's a multiple-position, left-handed-hitting outfielder, and that profiles very well for us. We're not at the point of anointing anybody right now, but Cory's put his best foot forward and that's exactly what we knew he was capable of doing."

"There's always competition, but I try and use [the] spring to get ready for April 5," he said. "I know my skill set and they know my skill set. They've seen me do it before, but the idea is not to peak in April. You want to build through Spring Training and be ready April 5, and that's kind of how I approach it."

And he's had plenty of Kool-Aid:
"There's always competition, but I try and use [the] spring to get ready for April 5. I know my skill set and they know my skill set. They've seen me do it before, but the idea is not to peak in April. You want to build through Spring Training and be ready April 5, and that's kind of how I approach it."

Footer's money is on Towles

Alyson Footer likes J.R. Towles for C1 to open the season. Why?

When Spring Training opened, the Astros were hopeful that he'd give them every reason to give him another chance to prove he can be an effective Major League catcher. They always liked his work behind the plate; all he had to do was hit well. He has.

Castro is the catcher of the future and his time is coming. But the only reason the Astros had to rush him to the big leagues was if no one else stepped up to show they could handle the starting job. Towles might struggle at some point which could clear a path for Castro, but right now, having Castro open the season at Triple-A, where he's never played, isn't a bad idea.

Also, another excellent reason:

Another issue is roster space. Should he make the team, Castro would first have to be added to the 40-man, which currently stands at 39. That could be problematic, considering the front-runner to win the fifth outfielder position is Cory Sullivan, who would also need to be added to the 40-man. The addition of both Castro and Sullivan would necessitate taking someone off the roster, but if it's not a dire situation, why do it?

+1 to Footer. Excellent points.

Recap for Astros v. Pirates

What Happened?
The Pirates took the field. That pretty much signified the end of the game. Houston got into Mid-1 with a 2-0 lead, and then piled on for an 11-1 win.

Why They Won
Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf was bad, as was the Pirates defense. Ohlendorf allowed seven runs (four earned) on nine hits and three walks in 3.2IP. And the Astros had six extra-base hits and ten singles, leaving only seven on base for the game.

Astros pitching
Felipe Paulino dominated in what could have been an SP5-clinching performance, throwing 5IP, 7H/1ER, 6K:1BB, and his fastball was apparently electric. He even picked Andrew McCutchen off first. The bullpen did another admirable job, allowing 1H/0ER in 4IP. Your reliever of the day was Brandon Lyon who threw a perfect sixth inning with a groundout, strikeout, and a lineout. Gary Majewski did allow two walks, while Danny Meszaros came on and allowed a hit and a walk. Out breakdown for the day: nine groundouts, nine strikeouts, six flyouts, and three liners.

Astros batting
The Astros brought a bunch of YoungStros with them due to the amount of upcoming road trips, and they responded. Count multi-hit games for T.J. Steele (2x5, 2R, 1RBI, SB), Drew Locke (2x5, triple, 1R, 1RBI), and the Astros were 8x16 with RISP. Kaz Matsui had a nice day, going 3x3 with 2R, an SB, and an RBI, but was picked off first (as was DeLome). Jason Michaels was 2x3 with a run and an RBI, and Chris Shelton continues his hot streak with a 3x3, 2R, 4RBI performance. We would also be remiss to forget that Matt Kata hit his first homer of the Spring.

0-fers (more than one AB): Feliz (0x2, though with 2BB), Cash (0x2), Meyer (0x2)

Positional Battles

Quintero: 2x3, RBI (.267)
Cash: 0x2, 2K

Shelton: 3x3, 2R, 4RBI, 1BB (.323)

Man of the Match
Felipe Paulino. That's the way to step up.

Goat of the Game
I'm still in a good mood. No Goat today.

Arias "likely" to DL

McTaggart has a quote from Ed Wade regarding Arias and his rotator cuff:

"He'll spend some time in the trainer's room trying to get the rotator cuff strengthened, but at this point, we're probably looking at a DL. I don't think it's going to be something that's going [to be] resolved in the short term. ... We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but it's probably where we're headed at this point....

...We're going to take it day-to-day, but I wouldn't be sticking my neck out even to the probably point of view if I thought it was something that was going to resolve quickly. I think we're headed in that direction, but we'll remain hopeful that I'll be pleasantly surprised otherwise."

McTaggart notes that if Arias is placed on the latest date for the DL, he would be eligible to return on April 10. No way he's back on April 10.

Coop's legacy lives in the form of Alberto Arias' jacked-up rotator cuff

Alberto Arias was signed as a 17-year old undrafted free agent by the Colorado Rockies in 2000, and made his debut for Colorado on May 1, 2007. His total IP by year:

2003 (Rookie ball): 73
2004 (Single-A): 135
2005 (High-A): 90 - converted to a reliever
2006 (Double-A): 111.2
2007 (Triple-A): 34 - missed significant time with shoulder inflammation
2008 (Triple-A): 91
2009 (Triple-A/MLB): 62

So from that little exercise, Arias wasn't "overworked" in the traditional sense of IP in 2009 - pitching 29 fewer IP in 2009 from 2008.

But if we look at how Coop used Arias in 2009, we can see a few things:

-Arias threw 30+ pitches in a given outing seven times in 2009. All between June 9 and July 27.

-From May 6 to the All-Star Break, Arias threw in 25 of the Astros' 60 games, average 18.56 pitches per outing and averaging 1.8 days of rest between appearances.

-After the All-Star Break, Arias only appeared in 17 games, due to going on the DL on August 24 and having knee surgery on September 23.

Did Coop screw him up? I don't know about that. Maybe. Probably. But it's hard to fault Coop for continuing to run him out there. Pre-ASG, Arias was throwing 60% of his pitches for strikes and allowing a slash line of .184/.298/.243.

Fact is that Arias is hurt, and it's not looking good. Responding to David Coleman of TCB, Will Carroll basically confirmed AC's quick research that his injury is a precursor to a full-on rotator cuff tear, but that scenario is preventable. Whether it was preventable in 2009 is a larger, harder-to-define question.

Arias update

Alyson Footer has an update from Alberto Arias' MRI results:

Posterior cuff impingement and rotator cuff weakness. Will continue treatment.

WTF is that?

An abstract from the American Journal of Orthopedics in 2004 said:

A positive posterior impingement sign correlated highly with undersurface tearing of the rotator cuff and/or tearing of the posterior labrum in athletes with gradual onset of posterior shoulder pain during overhand athletics.

Or if you want to read a 16-page article in the Journal of Athletic Training on rotator cuff impingement, you can do so. But I'll save you some time:

It's not looking good for Arias. He may not need surgery (says Williams), but it will be a fairly lengthy recovery. From my non-surgical training, it looks as though rotator cuff impingement precedes the tearing of the rotator cuff. Arias' rotator cuff may not be torn, but it was on its way. Please also keep in mind that I was a history major, and it's extremely likely that I'm full of crap.

Update: Will Carroll, who is not full of crap, said of Arias:
That's bad. Returnable. Have to get the inflammation out. "Impingement syndrome."

Let me take a stab at the Opening Day roster

There are 41 players still in Major League Camp, which means sixteen more have to go. Let's give this a shot (and we're counting players who could begin the season on the DL):

Infielder Locks:
Lance Berkman
Kaz Matsui
Tommy Manzella
Pedro Feliz
Jeff Keppinger
Geoff Blum

Outfielder Locks:
Carlos Lee
Michael Bourn
Hunter Pence
Jason Michaels

Catcher Locks:
Humberto Quintero

Rotation Locks:
Roy Oswalt
Wandy Rodriguez
Brett Myers
Bud Norris

Bullpen Locks:
Brandon Lyon
Matt Lindstrom
Jeff Fulchino
Chris Sampson
Tim Byrdak
Brian Moehler
Felipe Paulino

So that right there is 22, meaning there are three spots still open.

Quintero isn't going to be the C1, so right now I'm giving the C1 edge to J.R. Towles (23). He has shown enough this Spring to give the Astros some breathing room in how quickly they promote Jason Castro. Castro goes to Round Rock, Towles begins the year at Houston, and Quintero is officially in the sweat box.

With the 5th Outfielder position, Jason Bourgeois and Cory Sullivan are locked in a death struggle, but Sullivan (24) gets the late nod for a couple of reasons: Bourgeois has been slowed by injuries to both hamstrings. That's troubling, but it also sat him down when he needed opportunities to show what he's go. Also there's the natural selection of Sullivan being left-handed, which adds to his favor.

This leaves one spot. Notice I put both Paulino and Moehler in the bullpen, and this could change. If Paulino doesn't win a spot out of Spring Training, I think he goes to Round Rock, and Moehler goes in as SP5. If they both stay, I could see Gervacio (25) getting the final bullpen spot. Wesley Wright is also in the mix, but I could see the Astros sending him to Round Rock to continue his progression into a starter.

Injury updates

Alyson Footer has an update (here, and here) on the HurtStros:

-Arias is still waiting on MRI results

-Manzella is doing better

-Bourn is bunting in the cage, but not swinging

-Berkman's swelling is down in his knee and he has better range of motion.

Koby can't wait to get to Corpus

KRIS-TV has an interview with Koby Clemens, who apparently can't wait to get to Corpus (where he'll likely start 2010):

Once you get a taste of a higher level, you definitely want to get back there as fast as you can and appreciate the time you had there. It just makes you more eager and ready to go. I'm definitely chomping at the bit to get there. I'm looking forward to it and I think we're going to have a good ballclub there."

Ricky Bennett, tentatively confirming Koby's move to 1B:

Based on what we've seen so far during spring training, I think this might be the spot for him. He seems to be comfortable there at first base. He has plenty of range and he has a good enough arm. If you look at his offensive potential, I think first base might be a good fit for him."

Prediction Alert!

BetFirms' Jack Jones has some thoughts on where the Astros will end up following the 2010 season:

5th in the NL Central and UNDER 74.5 Wins – Houston managed to win just 74 games last season despite a fast start. The Astros didn’t do enough in the offseason to improve their roster, as Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz are merely fill-ins. Lindstrom won’t be the best answer at closer as he’s too erratic, so expect more blown saves this season. I really like this outfield consisting of Lee, Bourn and Pence, but the rest just doesn’t stack up against the top-tier teams in this division. Oswalt is another year older, and other than Rodriquez, the rest of the starters are too unproven. Houston will be battling it out with Pittsburgh in the cellar of the NL Central once again.

How about that? A prediction and paragraph about the Astros that doesn't include Lance Berkman's name...

Update on C1

USA Today has been spending quite a lot of time with the Astros lately, and today Seth Livingstone turns his attention to the Battle for C1, or as I like to call it, "The Race for Round Rock."

Ed Wade:
"J.R. and Jason are both showing that they're capable of being our opening day guy. J.R. is obviously more experienced at this point. Jason has only a year-and-a-half of professional experience but we think he's a guy who can eventually hit .280-.285 in the big leagues with 20 homers."

Towles, while sharpening his knife:
"He's their No. 1 prospect. Obviously they think a lot of him. I think it's one of those things were I'm going to push him and he's going to push me."

Not our #1 prospect. Their #1 prospect. Anyway. You know who won't make the decision? Roy Oswalt, with an...interesting close:
"I don't know what their plans are right now. I have no say in it. They don't ask me nothing. They put a guy back there and say, 'throw to him.' But it's good to have a relationship with your catcher. A lot of guys think you can just throw to anybody back there and they're going to do a good job. I try to explain it like this: a guy likes one model bat. If he likes a K100 and you give him a J143, he might not like it as much. So you have to try to work together. All the guys are trying to learn. The favorite one I had is in LA right now. But you work with what you've got and hope it comes around."

That's, uh...brutal?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bobby Heck's Draft History

So Bobby Heck has the Astros back on the right path to player development and building through strong drafts. What trends can we see through his two drafts with the Astros? (Keep in mind, this is not based on who signed, these are draftees only)


PositionTotal #HSColl


PositionTotal #HSColl


PositionTotal #HSColl

50 of Bobby Heck's first 103 choices were pitchers, and we see that 34 of those 50 were college pitchers. Anyone else want to draw some more blood out of this turnip?

Recap for Astros v. Cardinals

What Happened?
Wandy allowed ten baserunners (five earned runs) in 4IP - all five runs came in the first inning - and the Astros just couldn't claw back as the Cardinals held on for a 6-4 win, despite three hits from Carlos Lee and six extra-base hits total.

Why They Lost
Well, spotting a team five runs before you see your first pitch at the plate is a pretty handy recipe for getting an L. Wandy dropped to 1-3 on the Spring, with a 9.69 ERA. The next three innings went pretty smoothly for Wandy the rest of the way, allowing three hits and no earned runs in the 3IP that followed.

Astros pitching
We already talked about Wandy (who added a WP and an HBP to his line), but how about Sam Gervacio (2IP, 1H/0ER, 3K) and Wilton Lopez (2IP, 0H/0ER, 3K)! In addition to the six Ks between the two, they added six groundball outs to the line, as well. Shane Loux closed the game out with 1IP, 1H/1ER - on a solo shot by Mather.

Astros batting
Not a terrible day at the plate for the Astros, once you get past the 2x12 w/RISP. Carlos Lee had three hits, including a double, and Chris Shelton added two doubles to his day. The Astros also got doubles from Sullivan and Towles, a homer from Feliz, and a hit from Keppinger.

Aside from Towles' double, he had a rough one behind the plate - two SB allowed and a throwing error.

0-fers (more than one AB): Van Ostrand (0x2), Pence (0x3), Blum (0x3), Cook (0x2, RBI, BB)

Positional Battles

Towles: 1x4, R (.444)
Castro: 0x1 (.391)

Sullivan: 1x3, RBI (.243)

Johnson: 0x1 (.306)
Maysonet: 0x1, K (.381)

Man of the Match
Carlos Lee. Or Gervacio/Lopez.

Goat of the Game
And this one goes to Wandy. He still has a couple of starts left (maybe three), but it's time to start working through these kinks. game is missing barrels, too!

Excellent article from McTaggart on Chris Sampson, and how if Cooper had never made him throw 900IP before the All-Star Break, he never would have perfected his changeup - and that, my friends, is what Chris Sampson has done:

"Had I not gotten sent down, I might not have gotten an opportunity to talk to Roy about his changeup and not learn the changeup. I have a new pitch for this year, and good Lord willing, I'll make this team and do my part in contributing again out of the bullpen in Houston. I'm doing what I can and forgetting about last year and keep looking forward...

..."My game is just missing barrels. I'm not a strikeout pitcher, I'm not a power pitcher. I just go and throw strikes and try to miss barrels and get a lot of ground balls. I've been in the league for three years and hitters know me and know what I have, and if I could add another pitch and set them back and make them think about another pitch, that's to my advantage."


"He's got that sinker and breaking ball that allows him to keep the ball on the ground, and if he's able to do that, we've got guys that can catch it and throw it. That's going to make him better and us better."

Sampson is going to be a major part of the bullpen this year, and the Astros' success is going to have to rely on the bullpen in 2010.

Update on Injured Astros

Quick version: Everyone is doing better.

Long version:

Brad Mills:
"Lance came into the office and said he felt better today and that's always good to hear from him. We're trying to keep his range of motion where it needs to be and keep the swelling down. Bourgeois felt better when he came in today, and Manzella is feeling and looking better. Those things are good. Arias is getting an MRI this morning and we'll looking forward to hearing back from him. Bazardo is getting stronger every day and playing catch and doing all his things."

Manzella is apparently at least a week from returning.

Mills, on what Manzella's injury means for SS:
"We have to look at all of our options. With Tommy being down for a few days we want to make sure we see Maysonet over there and Keppinger and Blummer. We'll keep all options open. This is the first time we put him out there this year. I've got to see him play out there. I do know he's got good hands, a good arm and his experience and being able to position himself where he needs to be should help his range."

Interesting note on Lindstrom, and pitchers in general

In Zach Levine's article on Lindstrom, there's a focus on how Lindstrom can throw 100mph+.

“I think it's just a talent. You have to be strong and kind of be flexible. You see a lot of guys with flexible bodies who can really whip the ball.”

Levine, and Bobby Heck:

As Heck scouted amateur prospects, he noticed that the biggest jump in velocity comes between their junior and senior years of high school. At that age, the elite pitchers start to take bigger roles on school teams and other traveling teams and build up their strength.

To Heck, velocity isn't the end of a conversation about a pitching prospect, but it is the beginning.

In considering righthanders, who have a harder time getting by on craftiness alone at the big-league level than lefties do, Heck is hesitant to draft or sign a pitcher who doesn't throw at least 90.

“We pay for velocity,” Heck said. “And then we try to teach them how to pitch.”

The latter includes developing secondary and, with rare exceptions, tertiary pitches around the fastball and getting movement and deception to go with the velocity. Lindstrom knows that better than anyone.

There's a little clue on why the Astros tend to take high school pitchers, and college hitters...

Lineup for Astros v. Cardinals

Here's the lineup for your '10 Astros v. '10 Cardinals:

1. Sullivan CF
2. Towles C
3. Pence RF
4. Lee LF
5. Blum SS
6. Feliz 3B
7. Shelton 1B
8. Keppinger 2B
9. Rodriguez P

With Bourn and Bourgeois shelved, Sullivan gets the start in CF. Notice, too, how Blum is getting a start at shortstop. Blum has 190 career starts at SS, but just 17 since 2006.

Your '77 Astros keep trading games with the '77 Cards

Over at Play That Funky Baseball, we split a double-header with the Cardinals, losing Game 2 on a three-run walkoff homer.

Game 1
Houston 6
St. Louis 4

ST. LOUIS—I’m no fan of phony grass as you know, but the fans are blazin here and nothing’s been sweeter so far than these Astro-Card battles. You got two speedy outfits with major gap power and shaky pitching and it’s been nip and tuck and nip again from the get-go. Here it’s J.R. Richard’s third try for his first win, and he’s got a 4-0 lead and a two-hit shutout after five. Tom Underwood’s been a Houston punching bag and a Howe triple and Ed Herrmann sac fly knock him out in the 6th down 6-0.

Then the 7th rolls around and J.R. gets tired for no special reason. A Hernandez walk, Simmons single, Scott double and single by Tyson fill-in Mike Phillips gets two runs back. Richard bears down, has an easy 8th, but loses it again in the 9th. McBride leads with a single and Reitz whiffs, but Scott walks and Phiilips gets hit. In comes Joe Sambito, and up walks dangerous ringer Roger Freed to pinch hit with the bases juiced.

Freed lofts one out to Cruz in right. Cruz drops the ball, two runs race in, it’s 6-4 and the ‘Stros are seeing red. Then Brock walks to reload the bases. Templeton rips one back to the mound, which Sambito nabs and fires home to get the sliding Phillips. Two outs. Keith Hernandez now, sporting a card with a mine field of clutch. Keith skies out to right and J.R. finally wins one.

Game 2

Houston 1
St. Louis 4

I stick around for yet another beauty on Saturday. Mark Lemongello starts for Houston and gets out of a crapload of jams. but Phillips knocks one in with a 4th inning single. Bob Forsch, brother of Ken in the opposing bullpen, has his light saber out this time, and has given up just three singles through five. Problem is that the fourth one is by Cedeno leading off the 6th, who rips off second right away and scores on a two-out single by Puhl to tie the game.

Now it’s the Jelloman’s turn. Mark gives up a Simmons single, then gets the next eleven Cards in a row to bring up Scott with two outs in the 9th. Seems like we’re going extras. But Scott pings a single. Phillips does too. And here’s that many Freed again. Sambito’s available but Lemongello is tough on righties and Rogers bashes both kinds of arms. So here’s Jello’s windup, here’s the pitch…

…and it’s high and deep and into the upper deck for a 3-run Clydesdale trot-off! Oddly enough, the season series is now tied 3-3.

Record: 6-7
GB: 1.5

Johnson looking to Feliz for mentoring

Chris Johnson knew what the Feliz signing meant for him, and he's saying the right things for The Apparatus:

"I'm not dumb. They got Pedro Feliz. I think it's almost kind of a good thing for me. It kind of gives me some to time to get going and also learn some things from what he does."

"There's no doubt. He's got everything it takes to be a very good third baseman at the major league level."

Remember, Feliz was only brought on for a one-year deal. Johnson almost made the team out of Spring Training in 2009, but in the first week of the season at Round Rock, he was hit in the hand by a pitch, which shelved him and delayed his progress. If Johnson can put together a good, full season in 2010, he should be able to make that transition in 2010.

Oswalt won't be padding numbers

We already know about Roy's early-retirement plans, but USA Today's Seth Willingstone did a little Q&A with Roy. One item of note:

You're only 32. Are you talking about calling it a career and passing the torch so soon?

"I've got one more year on this contract then, I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see. This could possibly be it. I'm not going to say it's definitely going to be it. Next year -- I'll try to play that year out. Of course, the first thing is to get through this year. But my thing is if you're not going to play at the level that you come in at, there's no sense in going out there and just trying to add up numbers. Now, if I'm producing and a team wants me, I may play (beyond this contract), But if I'm not, I won't. I don't think it's fair to a club to sit around and just try to pad your numbers."

Three more head to Minor League camp

The Astros have reassigned three to Minor League Camp:

Pitchers Josh Banks, Roy Corcoran and catcher Brian Esposito

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Don't get too excited about beating up Papelbon, says WEEI felt it necessary to let everyone know that Papelbon was "lackadaisical" because of anti-migraine medication he had taken about an hour before the game:

“You could tell the whole inning, he wasn’t himself. He got his work in. The flip side of that is he didn’t fare very well.”

“It’s just one of those days. I tried to get my work in, but it’s one of those lull days of spring training. It’s not like I felt like I had a migraine going into my outing or anything. It’s just that I was real lackadaisical, not much energy in me. … I’m really just trying to throw the ball in the zone and let players get themselves out. Unfortunately, they were hitting it hard around the whole ballpark.”

Recap for ST17: Astros v. Red Sox

What Happened?
The Astros and Red Sox got in seven and a half innings before rain called the game, but two crooked numbers - five runs for the Red Sox in the 2nd, and six runs for the Astros in the 7th - left the Astros on top 10-7.

Why They Won
Despite Bud Norris giving up five hits and two walks (5ER) in 1.2IP, the Astros touched up Jonathan Papelbon for six runs (five earned) in 0.1IP in the 7th. The Astros were, 5x10 with RISP, with seven of their eleven hits going for extra bases (five doubles, two homers).

Astros pitching
Bud Norris probably wished he was crapping on the toilet, instead of crapping on the mound. Norris allowed seven baserunners - five hits (doubles to Youkilis and Pedroia, and homers to Cameron and Pedroia) - and two walks. Pat Urckfitz came on and got the final out of the 2nd inning because Norris' pitch count was too high for a 3rd innings, and Moehler threw 4IP, 7H/2ER, 1K:2BB. Chris Sampson came on for the save, throwing a perfect 7th inning.

Astros batting
We've mentioned the Astros' prowess with RISP and extra-base hits, mostly coming at the expense of Papelbon, who gave up doubles to Kevin Cash, Brandon Barnes, and Chris Johnson. Johnson also got himself a homer off of Hideki Okajima and Kaz Matsui hit a 2-run shot off of Jon Lester. Continuing the Astros' generally horrid K:BB ratio, the Astros struck out eight times compared to one Drew Meyer walk.

0-fers (more than one AB): Michaels (0x3), Sullivan (0x3), Duran (0x2), Garciaparra (0x2), Quintero (0x2)

Positional Battles

Quintero: 0x3, K (.222)
Castro: 1x2, K, Error (.409)
Cash: 1x2, 2B, R (.182)

Bourgeois: 1x2, K, left game with injured hamstring (.304)
Sullivan: 0x3, K (.235)

Johnson: 2x4, R, 3RBI (.314)

Man of the Match
Goes to two players: Chris Johnson and Kaz Matsui - both had a double and a homer and accounted for five of the Astros' 10 runs.

Goat of the Game
Bud Norris. For obvious reasons. Let's chalk it up to coming back after a stomach bug.

Wade, on the wave of injuries

McTaggart has a new article up getting some reaction about the recent spate of injuries to hit the Astros:

"You go through these types of things...These are resolvable issues. They're not ACLs or a torn quad or a torn oblique. They're strains and sprains and upper-respiratory infections and those types of things. From that standpoint, these are short-term deals one would expect to have happen at different points in Spring Training. We just happened to have a couple of them back-to-back. With two weeks left to go -- at this stage we're optimistic they'll all resolve themselves and they'll be ready to go."

Boston Herald: Lowell could be an Astro

The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman says there are four possible destinations for third baseman Mike Lowell:

There are four teams to keep an eye on as possible landing spots for Lowell: the Astros, Rangers, Marlins and Twins.

Why in the world would the Astros need Mike Lowell? Well, for one: he's old. And two: he's been injured. So naturally that would make him a perfect fit in Houston. But that's not why Silverman thinks he'd fit in Houston:

The knee surgery on Houston first baseman Lance Berkman went well, but he remains iffy for Opening Day. If he progresses as expected, the Astros may feel fine having 36-year-old Geoff Blum as a temporary first baseman. But if a hitch develops in Berkman’s recovery or the team’s confidence in Blum falters, expect Lowell’s name to command more attention.

A couple of things here: When the Rangers and Red Sox had a tentative deal in place, the Red Sox were going to pay $9m of Lowell's $12m salary, and the Rangers were going to send catcher Max Ramirez, the Rangers' 2nd-ranked prospect (according to Baseball Time in Arlington).

So if that were to hold true, if the Astros have to pay $3m AND give up a high-ceiling prospect, I can't see it happening. Even if Blum "falters," the Astros aren't expecting Berkman to be out long enough to warrant needing such a high-priced back-up plan.

Strained quad - a primer

Referring to Vince Young, The Disabled List has an explanation of what goes into a strained quad(s):

The quadriceps isn't a muscle, but a collection of muscles. These muscle run through your thigh and play a pivotal role in everything from walking to running to squatting. The muscles that are referred to as quads are as follows:

Vastus medialis is off to the side of your thigh.
Vastus lateralis is off the other side, opposite of the medialis.
Vastus intermedius runs right through the middle of the two other vastus.
Rectus femoris is the big dog of the quads. He runs through the thigh to the patella.

What are strained quads? It's a strain of any of the above muscles. A strain occurs when the muscle tears. It is usually smaller tears that occur.

The good news is, and this is something that should be fairly obvious, the treatment is the standard RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elephants.

Jorge Jimenez returned to Red Sox

Hey, remember Jorge Jimenez? He was the Astros' selection in December's Rule 5 draft from the Red Sox, who was immediately shipped to Florida to complete the Matt Lindstrom trade.

Yeah...Jimenez was sent back to Boston.

Updated Meat Wagon schedule

Let's check in our HurtStros for this morning:

Alyson Footer tells us that:

-Alberto Arias will have a precautionary MRI on his shoulder.

-Berkman had 60ccs of fluid drained from his knee.

-And Bourn will rest until his oblique muscle heals.

Manzella has the usual day-after soreness, and Zach Levine says he'll resume baseball activity in a few days, but it could be longer. In his article for the Chronicle, Levine quotes Ed Wade:

"We're probably looking at a week to 10 days."