Saturday, April 3, 2010

Minor-League Assignments!

Captip to Zach Levine for the post.

Let's do this by team...

Round Rock Express

NamePosition2009 team
J. BanksPitcherTriple-A Portland/San Diego
G. ChacinPitcherAA Reading/AAA Lehigh Valley
R. CorcoranPitcherAAA Tacoma/AAA Round Rock
C. DaiglePitcherAAA Round Rock
E. EnglebrookPitcherAA Corpus/AAA Round Rock
W. LopezPitcherCorpus/Houston
S. LouxPitcherAAA Salt Lake/Angels
G. MajewskiPitcherAAA Lehigh Valley
P. TrinidadPitcherCorpus/Round Rock
J. ValdezPitcherAA Trenton/AAA Scranton-WB
A. Van HekkenPitcherCorpus Christi/Round Rock
W. WrightPitcherRound Rock/Houston
K. CashCatcherAAA Scranton-WB
J. CastroCatcherLancaster/Corpus
M. KataInfielderRound Rock/Houston
E. MaysonetInfielderRound Rock/Houston
D. MeyerInfielderCorpus
O. NavarroInfielderAA West Tenn/AAA Tacoma
C. SheltonInfielderAAA Tacoma
B. BogusevicOutfielderRound Rock
C. DeLomeOutfielderCorpus
D. LockeOutfielderCorpus
Y. RamirezOutfielderRound Rock

Corpus Christi

NamePosition2009 team
F. AbadPitcherLancaster/Corpus
E. AbreuPitcherLancaster/Corpus/Round Rock
D. ArguelloPitcherCorpus
T. BurtonPitcherCorpus/Round Rock
J. JohnsonPitcherRound Rock
C. LoPitcherLancaster/Corpus
T. LumsdenPitcherCorpus/Round Rock
J. LylesPitcherLexington
D. MeszarosPitcherLexington/Corpus
M. NevarezPitcherA Hickory/Lexington
S. PerezPitcherCorpus
J. WellsPitcherAA West Tenn/AAA Tacoma
B. EspositoCatcherCorpus/Round Rock
L. SantangeloCatcherRound Rock
M. CabralInfielderLancaster
K. ClemensInfielderLancaster
G. DuranInfielderAAA OK City/Corpus
J. FlorentinoInfielderCorpus
M. GarciaparraInfielderAA Huntsville/AAA Nashville
W. SutilInfielderCorpus
J. Van OstrandInfielderCorpus
D. CookOutfielderAA Birmingham/AAA Charlotte
J. GastonOutfielderLancaster
J. ShuckOutfielderLancaster
T. SteeleOutfielderLancaster

Lancaster JetHawks

NamePosition2009 team
D. BernerPitcherTri-City
L. CespedesPitcherLancaster
B. DydalewiczPitcherLexington
K. GodfreyPitcherLexington
K. GreenwaltPitcherLexington
D. KeuchelPitcherTri-City
A. MowdyPitcherLexington/Lancaster
R. SeatonPitcherLexington
P. UrckfitzPitcherLancaster
B. WabickPitcherLexington
E. WalkerPitcherA Charleston/Indep. Gary
S. WolfPitcherLancaster
J. ComadenaCatcherLexington/Lancaster
F. HernandezCatcherLexington
J. LopezCatcherGCL/Corpus
B. ButeraInfielderTri-City
A. CartwrightInfielderLexington
R. ContrerasInfielderVSL San Diego
D. FloresInfielderLancaster
M. OriInfielderCorpus
E. RosarioInfielderLexington
B. WikoffInfielderTri-City/Lexington
J. AustinOutfielderLexington
B. BarnesOutfielderLancaster
J. FloresOutfielderCorpus
F. ParejoOutfielderAA Huntsville/AAA Nashville

Lexington Legends

NamePosition2009 team
T. BushuePitcherGCL Astros
J. CisneroPitcherGreeneville
K. ClarkPitcherTri-City
R. DonovanPitcherTri-City
D. DuncanPitcherTri-City/Lexington
J. MacDonaldPitcherTri-City
J. MinayaPitcherGreeneville
C. PitkinPitcherTri-City
D. SariskyPitcherTri-City
M. SchurzPitcherTri-City
J. TrinidadPitcherGreeneville
B. WalkerPitcherTri-City
J. FixlerCatcherLexington
R. GarciaCatcherLexington
J. LopezCatcherGCL/Corpus
J. AltuveInfielderGreeneville
M. ArrendellInfielderGreeneville
A. BrayInfielderGreeneville
K. HinzeInfielderLexington
J. MeyerInfielderGreeneville
J. MierInfielderGreeneville
A. SimunicInfielderLexington
J. GoebbertOutfielderTri-City
G. HogueOutfielderGreeneville
B. KempOutfielderTri-City
J. MartinezOutfielderGreeneville/Tri-City

Recap for X2: Astros v. Blue Jays

Jeebus. Bud Norris and the Astros got the crap kicked out of them, 13-6 in the final exhibition game of the Spring.

How They Lost
Aaron Hill hit a first-inning homer for the second straight game, and the Blue Jays raced out to an 11-0 lead after four innings. But after that, the Astros won 6-2. Lemons = Lemonade.

Astros Pitching

Norris2.17/73:256-32 (57.1%)2/2
Moehler1.13/1 (4R)0:027-17 (63%)1/3
Byrdak0.10/01:07-4 (57.1%)0/0
Chacin21/02:021-15 (71.4%)0/4
Fulchino0.21/11:231-17 (54.8%)1/0
Sampson1.10/01:013-11 (84.6%)2/1
Lindstrom12/12:125-13 (52%)0/1

Son of a gun. The story of the pitching staff was Norris, who gave up seven hits - five of which were for extra-bases (three doubles, a triple, and a homer). He also only threw seven first-pitch strikes to 16 Blue Jays. Impressive was the performance of Chris Sampson, the only reliever who faced more than one batter to throw a perfect outing (11 of 13 pitches for strikes, first-pitch strikes to all four batters). The killer was Norris' "3rd inning," if you want to call it that: Lind doubled, Wells reached on an infield single, Overbay doubled, Encarnacion had a sac fly, and Snider doubled - turning a 4-0 deficit into a 7-0 deficit. With Moehler in for the 4th, he got two outs, when an error by Blum allowed the inning to continue and allow Encarnacion to hit a three-run homer.

Astros hitting

Hmmm. The Astros did get 13 hits, but were 3x14 w/RISP (hits by Pence, Johnson, and Matsui). How did they get their six runs? Tommy Manzella drew a four-pitch walk, and Pence knocked him in (1). Manzella doubled in Quintero (2), Matsui doubled in Manzella (3), and Chris Johnson hit a three-run homer, scoring Bourgeois and Drew Locke (4,5,6).

The Astros did get multi-hit games from Kaz Matsui and Hunter Pence, but the 4-8 spots in the lineup went a combined 3x17 before the subs came in. Manzella did rebound with a 1x2, BB day, scoring two runs.

The Astros also were kind of patient, allowing the Blue Jays' pitchers to throw 98 strikes in 155 pitches, but taking 28 first-pitch strikes in 43 plate appearances. When they saw a first-pitch ball? 5x13, 2BB. After a first-pitch strike? 7x22, 6K, BB

Pitch Count Hero: Cory Sullivan - 22 pitches in five PAs (1x4, BB)
Pitch Count Punk: Geoff Blum - 8 pitches in three PAs (0x3, K)

Carlos Lee's ABs:
1) Bot 1: 1 out, 2 on, Tor 1-0. Ball, Foul out to first
2) Bot 3: 2 out, 1 on, Tor 7-0. Looking, Fly out to center
3) Bot 5: 2 out, 2 on, Tor 11-1. Swinging, Foul, Swinging, Swinging

Hm. Only eight pitches, made contact on three, ball, looking, and three swinging strikes.

Man of the Match: Chris Johnson, hit a meaningless (but it still counts) 3-run homer in the 9th to raise his average to .323, with a .382 OBP. Please don't let Blum play first base. It's just ridiculous (now hitting .217 with a .230 OBP for the Spring).

Goat of the Game: Bud Norris. Hope you fine-tuned the crap out of yourself, because the Phillies are coming next weekend.

Recap for X1: Astros v. Blue Jays

I've tweaked the game recaps a little bit as we get closer to the season. Tell me what you think...

How They...uh, Tied
Brett Myers allowed three earned runs in a first inning in which four of the first five Blue Jays reached base before the Astros got two of the three runs back after starter Ricky Romero exited the game.

Astros Pitching

Myers66/32:182-58 (70.7%)10/6
Majewski11/00:011-8 (72.7%)2/1
Lyon10/00:012-8 (66.7%)2/1
Gervacio10/01:119-10 (52.6%)0/2
Banks11/00:015-8 (53.3%)2/1

Once the Blue Jays had done their scoring, after Lyle Overbay knocked in Vernon Wells to make it 3-0 Blue Jays, Myers proceeded to get nine of the next ten batters before hitting Encarnacion and walking Gonzalez, and then getting out of the inning, keeping the Blue Jays to 2x20 with an HBP and BB. The Astros threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of 42 Blue Jays, with Myers throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 26 batters he faced. The Blue Jays were 0x12 w/RISP.

"I was a little pumped up leaving the ball up in the first inning a little bit, but I made the adjustment," said Myers, who went intentionally fastball heavy early in the game. "I think my competitiveness took over and I just started pitching."

Astros hitting

The Astros got some production from all over the lineup. Bourn got on base three times (with a stolen base that produced the Astros' first run of the game). Keppinger had three hits. And they were patient, taking first-pitch strikes in 22 of 45 plate appearances. Meanwhile, they were 2x13 with RISP - Shelton and Keppinger getting the two big hits.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn - 20 pitches in four plate appearances (1x2, 2BB)
Pitch Count Punk: Tommy Manzella - 15 pitches in five plate appearances (0x5, 2K)

Manzella's ABs:
1) Bottom 3rd, leading off, Tor 3-0. First-pitch ball, second-pitch flyout to center
2) Bottom 5th, leading off, Tor 3-0. 1st-pitch ball, 2nd-pitch lineout to second
3) Bottom 6th, 0 out, 2 on, Tor 3-1. Ball, Foul, Looking, Foul, Swinging, Swinging
4) Bottom 8th, 1 out, 1 on, Tor 3-2. Foul, Swinging, Swinging, Swinging
5) Bottom 10th, 2 out, 0 on, Tied 3-3. Looking, Foul, Fly out to center.

So looking at the ABs, Manzella saw 17 pitches (I know. It says 15 up there.) Three of them he took for balls, three he made contact (all to the middle of the field), four he fouled off, two he took for strikes, five he swung and missed.

Man of the Match: This goes to Michael Bourn. A hit, two walks, a stolen base, and a run.

Goat of the Game: Manzella. Sorry.

Berkman's knee, and Pence's spot in the lineup

Berkman isn't so confident of being ready to go April 10. But he's holding out hope:

“I do remember with my other knee injuries, you kind of get to a stage where you say ‘my goodness, this thing isn't making any improvement at all,' and then all of a sudden it does.”

I wonder which side we're on - the "this thing isn't making any improvement at all?" Or is he getting close to the "all of a sudden?"

Either way, there is a need for a #3 hitter, and while Mills says the entire lineup isn't yet decided, Pence's spot is:
“I haven't decided on the whole lineup yet, but he will hit third."

My projected lineup:
1. Bourn
2. Matsui
3. Pence
4. Lee
5. Feliz
6. Johnson
7. Towles
8. Manzella

Wade: Don't worry about Myers' IPs

198 to 68.2 to 190 to 70.2. Those are the innings that Myers has pitched over the course of the last four seasons. In his career, he's gone on the DL three times - once for hip surgery, once for a shoulder strain (2007), and in September of last year for a right shoulder strain that Myers says was aggravated by trying to come back from the hip surgery too fast.

But Ed Wade isn't worried about asking a guy who pitched 70.2IP last season to try to hit 200+ this season:
“I think it's less of an issue with someone who's done it before than taking a guy who's coming off an injury and hasn't been there for a while or taking some guy and transitioning him from a relief role to a starting role."

That may very well be the case. Myers started out shaky in last night's game against the Blue Jays, allowing three earned runs - including a two-run homer to Aaron Hill - in the first inning, and then cruising to logging a quality start, giving up nada the rest of the way out, and throwing 58 of his 82 pitches for strikes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Wait, yes it is.

And then Keith Law goes and sends us from midnight to six with his Insider-only predictions. The Astros?

5th. 73-89.

It's not all rage and anger!

Baseball Prospectus' TMI posted their NL predictions for ESPN Insiders. Where are the Astros?

3rd place! Well, tied for 3rd with the Brewers, projecting a 78-84 record.

All that I said about not needing Paulino until 4/18? I was wrong

Mills says he plans on using a five-man rotation opening week, which means Paulino will start April 10. Here's your opening assignments:

G1 v. Giants: Oswalt vs. Lincecum
G2 v. Giants: Wandy vs. Zito
G3 v. Giants: Myers vs. Cain
G4 v. Phillies: Norris vs. Happ
G5 v. Phillies: Paulino vs. Moyer


San Diego News Network: Ed Wade's extension is "inexplicable"

Jeff Creps posted his predictions today, with some reasoning, and the Astros were picked to finish dead last:

Since losing to the White Sox in the 2005 World Series, it has been a downward spiral for the once proud franchise. They inexplicably gave GM Ed Wade a two-year extension and continue to have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. With most of their star players in the twilight of their career, expect a complete rebuild of the organization sooner rather than later.

And building on the Stark article...

ESPN's "Experts" picked their division winners. Let's keep this to the NL Central (with World Series picks in parentheses), and reference it at the end of the year:

Jorge Arangure, Jr: Cardinals (Phillies)
Matthew Berry: Cardinals (Phillies)
Steve Berthiaume: Brewers (Phillies)
Aaron Boone: Reds (Phillies)
Jim Caple: Cardinals (Giants)
Tristan Cockcroft: Cardinals (Yankees)
Jerry Crasnick: Cardinals (Rockies)
Richard Durrett: Cardinals (Yankees)
Gordon Edes: Cardinals (Cardinals)
Pedro Gomez: Reds (Yankees)
Christopher Harris: Cardinals (Red Sox)
Orel Hershiser: Cardinals (Yankees)
Tony Jackson: Cardinals (Phillies)
Eric Karabell: Cardinals (Phillies)
Tim Kurkjian: Cardinals (Phillies)
A.J. Mass: Cardinals (Cardinals)
Joe McDonald: Cardinals (Red Sox)
Joe Morgan: Cardinals (Phillies)
Amy K. Nelson: Cardinals (Cardinals)
Rob Neyer: Cardinals (Red Sox)
Buster Olney: Cardinals (Rockies)
Peter Pascarelli: Cubs (Braves)
James Quintong: Cardinals (Yankees)
Karl Ravech: Cardinals (Red Sox)
J.P. Ricciardi: Brewers (Phillies)
Brendan Roberts: Cardinals (Yankees)
Mark Saxon: Brewers (Yankees)
Jon Sciambi: Cardinals (Red Sox)
Dan Shulman: Cardinals (Red Sox)
Mark Simon: Cardinals (Yankees)
Chris Singleton: Cardinals (Phillies)
Jayson Stark: Cardinals (Phillies)
Rick Sutcliffe: Cardinals (Rockies)
Jon Weisman: Reds (Red Sox) - though the Cardinals made it to the World Series
Gene Wojciechowski: Cardinals (Rays)

Of ESPN's 35 experts, 28 of them picked the Cardinals to win the NL Central. In no one's predictions did the Astros make an appearance as a Wild Card team.

Jayson Stark: See you in 2011, Houston

Jayson Stark made his predictions of the 2010 season, and broke the teams into groups. You can find the Astros in the "Thanks for Playing" group with the Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Padres, Orioles, A's, and Indians:

Hey, I know this isn't fair. I know you all deserve a longer look and a better chance. There's talent here all over the stage. I'm even betting at least half of you will finish ahead of some of these teams I've allowed to move on to Hollywood. But it's a harsh world and a cruel game. So thanks for bearing with us. Please come back again next spring.

Oh yeah, the Mets are in the "If" section.

Jim Bowden's predictions

Jim Bowden posted his predictions for the NL Central:


Lineup for ST??: Astros v. Blue Jays

Lineup for the penultimate Spring Training game vs Blue Jays, before crap starts going down for reelz:

1. Bourn - CF
2. Keppinger - 2B
3. Pence - RF
4. Lee - LF
5. Feliz - 1B
6. Michaels - DH
7. Johnson - 3B
8. Towles - C
9. Manzella - SS

Minus the DH spot, in which the 7-8-9 spot would probably just shift up a spot, like you're deleting Michaels from a spreadsheet, this is probably a close resemblance to an everyday lineup until Berkman comes back (Matsui would replace Keppinger more often.)

Baseball America's check-in on the Astros' prospects in ST

Baseball America posted a Prospects of the NL Central article. Now, about those Astros:

Prospect Star of Camp: Sam Gervacio
In a relatively unsettled Astros' bullpen there is room for Gervacio to move into a more prominent role if he keeps pitching like he's been pitching.

Keep an Eye on: Chris Johnson
He'll have to keep hitting as the Astros will be looking for a roster spot for Lance Berkman when he returns from the disabled list in the not-too-distant future.

Rough Spring: Brian Bogusevic
Bogusevic will have to hit for more power to be a big leaguer, but a .071/.071/.143 line in 14 at-bats didn't give him a chance to make much of an impression this spring.

Ohh. This is creative

CBS Sports' Scott Miller has his predictions:

Astros: 5th
Prospects so dim Astros announced this spring they are throwing in the (J.R.) Towles this season.

And just for good measure...
Pirates: 6th
Team motto: "At least maybe we can plunder the Astros! Aaaargghh!"

Berkman: The NL Central is closer than you think.

McTaggart posted an interview with Berkman as part of the Opening Day coverage, and we see some interesting things:

On the competition in the NL Central:
I think obviously based on our performance last year and we return a lot of the same personnel -- we didn't make a huge splash in the offseason adding any huge names -- but I do think that first of all, we're a better team than we played last year. I think part of the perception of our team is based on a faulty representation of the season last year, and if we can just play up to our capabilities and if guys perform like they've performed in the past and we're able to avoid significant injury, I think we'll be competitive. Really in our division, there's no reason we can't win the division...

...I really think there's five of the six teams in the division that could win the division. I really think that St. Louis and Chicago and Milwaukee, us or the Reds could win the thing. It's a tough division. It's a much tougher division than people give it credit for.

I only focused on this part, and it's a good long interview, so read the whole thing. I don't know if it's the Opening Day itch, or what, but this could be a year that the Astros surprise a lot of people. And by "a lot of people," I, of course, mean "everybody."

Oswalt notes how he's feeling, and examines the Giants

McTaggart has some notes from Roy:

On how he's feeling, emotionally:
We have new personnel that are more easy to work for, and Arnie is easy to talk to in the bullpen. With the skipper, he's checked on me more the last two or three weeks than I got checked on the last two or three years, so it means a lot to you when you know what you've done for the organization for eight or nine years that guys care what you do. It helps a lot."

On his G1 opponent:
"Going up against the Giants, they've got a few new guys in the lineup that are going to help them. They added a few more bats to the lineup, and they've got a good pitching staff, so you know you have to go out there and throw up some zeroes."

Get ready for a weekend full of predictions

In an effort to keep people accountable, any predictions I come across, I'll post under the tag Predictions, and then we'll look back in awe, or we'll laugh. has a rundown by "Ted Williams' Frozen Head" of final order of finish for the 30 teams, and puts the Astros in the DOA category (and the explanation, which prompted the previous post):

23. Houston Astros — The good news for Houston is they no longer have Albers, Sarfate, Patton or Costanzo in their system and won’t have the aged Tejada grounding into double plays this season. The bad news is everything else.

Catching up with the five guys we gave to Baltimore for two seasons of Tejada

You remember it well. I was driving across Arkansas, going home for an extended Christmas break, listening to ESPN Radio when it came out that the Astros had traded five players to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada. Of course, the next day the Mitchell Report came out, which implicated Tejada's use of PEDs. What happened to those five other guys?

Dennis Sarfate: Cut from Major-League camp and will likely open 2010 in Triple-A
Mike Costanzo: Released today
Troy Patton: Assigned to Triple-A after having shoulder surgery in 2008.
Matt Albers: May make the Opening Day roster out of the bullpen
Luke Scott: The most successful of the group so far, he has hit .258/.338/.479 with 48 homers and 142 RBI in 276 games for the Orioles.

Did it work out? Well, kind of. The Astros got an All-Star shortstop for two seasons, while the Orioles just got him back. The off-season that MacPhail had in 2007 - trading Tejada for five players, and Bedard to Seattle for six players (including George Sherill and Adam Jones) - should rank as one of the all-time fleecings in recent GM history. Losing Luke Scott paved the way for Hunter Pence to make the team, but so far, it hasn't been as lopsided as it may seem.

Houston Press' predictions

You know how much we love the Houston Press. Well John "Eeyore" Royal chimes in with his predictions:

1. St. Louis Cardinals -- Easily the class of the division. They've got the best two starters in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Then there's Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. And Tony LaRussa's the best manager in the division.
2. Milwaukee Brewers -- Just because someone has to finish in second.
3. Chicago Cubs -- They were the trendy team last year. But I think that everyone is awaiting the inevitable Lou Piniella explosion.
4. Cincinnati Reds -- I've seen some predictions that the Reds will finish as high as second. I thought this about the Reds last year. They've got lots of young talent, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto. There's a good nucleus here. But I'm not falling for them again.
5. Houston Astros -- Hey, the last time I checked, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence were healthy. Then again, the last time I checked, Geoff Blum was the starting first baseman. Thank God the Pirates are in this division.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates -- Yes, the Pirates still supposedly play baseball. Only nobody has seen this happen since 1992.

It's a live blog!

Hey, so G1: Astros v. Giants is on ESPN2. You know what that means? It's a live blog. Tune in at 6:30pm Central Time for a live blog. We'll talk about the game, Rick Sutcliffe, make fun of the Cardinals, make pot jokes about Tim Lincecum, and much more. Who's in?

Pence poised for breakout season?

I'm not sure how much more All-Star Hunter Pence could breakout but John Dewan's Stat of the Week shows that he could do exactly that.

This is our sixth annual list of possible breakout players based on Spring Training statistics. We researched the value of Spring Training stats a few years back and it was quite revealing. For the most part, we agree with the common perception that they don't have value. A bad spring training means nothing. An average spring training tells us nothing. Nevertheless, we did find that when a player has an exceptional spring, it does suggest a better than 60% chance they will take their game up a notch. It applies to teams as well.

We define "exceptional spring" as a positive difference between a hitter's spring training slugging percentage and their lifetime slugging percentage of 200 points or more.

And Hunter Pence is on that list.

Tim McCarver: Move the Astros to the AL

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob Wolfley has an interview with Tim McCarver, in which he takes a break from scratching Joe Buck's tummy to address the issue of realignment. And I think you know where this is going:

"Perhaps realignment should be considered. If the Houston Astros agreed to it, they should be taken out of the National League and put in the American League, in the American League West. You delete one team from the National League Central, add one to the American League West and make things a lot more balanced...

"It's like the Houston Astros are isolated in the southwest. They really have no natural rivalry. The Texas Rangers are a rivalry and that gets a lot of attention during interleague play, but not otherwise. I think that is one thing Commissioner Selig should be considering right now."

Is this an argument for realignment? Or secession?

Paulino improving, not enough to throw

Within Bernardo Fallas' Notes column we see that Felipe Paulino's lower back spasms are improving:

Paulino, who won the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation, suffered lower back spasms Wednesday.

His condition had improved by Thursday. He said he could walk without problem but not enough to convince the Astros to proceed as planned.

This isn't good, obviously, but the Astros won't need him for the first couple of weeks, thanks to the ridiculousness that is the April schedule.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Minor-league cuts

It was rumored that there were some major minor-league cuts (see what I did there? Bam!) on Monday night, and Baseball America confirmed it. Players no longer with the Astros are:

Casey Hudspeth
Ben Paxton
Jordan Powell
Spencer Hylander
Antonio Noguera
Kirkland Rivers
Craig Corrado
Mike Diaz
Gabe Suarez
Sean Barksdale

This makes me sad. Spencer Hylander had a good year. The Astros signed Paxton at the end of November - what the heck could have happened? And Gabe Suarez signed in May via the Long Island Ducks.

The question of Johnson and Blum

In Bernardo Fallas' recap of today's loss to the Tigers, he has an interesting note about how Mills plans to fill the defensive void of Lance Berkman's absence:

Mills said Geoff Blum will be the starter at first base come opening day Monday, but he is contemplating having Johnson at third base and Feliz at first for subsequent games, particularly when facing lefthanded pitchers.

Now this is interesting. Because there have been questions about Chris Johnson's glove, especially as he committed four errors in 40 chances this Spring. I understand keeping Feliz in the lineup, but wouldn't it make more sense to put Johnson at first, where that .900 Fld% would be minimized?

Hardball Talk's Springtime Storylines: Houston Astros

Hardball Talk posted their Springtime Storylines on the Astros today, under the title, "Will They Ever Rebuild?"

Because they still have Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman the team will still portray itself as trying to win now -- thus the pickups of Pedro Feliz and Brandon Lyon, each of whom could be spare parts on a contender but do not themselves a winner make -- but with their current talent (more below) they're not going to come close to winning anything. They should have torn this thing down two years ago and started again, but that's just something the Astros never, ever seem to want to do...

...It's going to be an ugly season. If Berkman manages to get healthy there will come the time when it dawns on him that the team isn't picking up his big option for 2011. If Oswalt bounces back he will be pestered to drop his no-trade clause. They won't score, there aren't many young players to get anyone excited and the only thing keeping them out of last place will be a terrible Pirates team which, perversely, will likely post a winning season before the Astros do.

Prediction: 5th.

Roy has made it very clear that he would approve a trade, just probably not to a team that the Astros would approve (Braves, Cubs, Cardinals). No one would take Berkman, especially with the $15m option, and if the Astros would have to pay the majority of Lee's salary, why not just keep him and ride his bat? Michael Bourn is a good enough CF to overshadow Lee's defensive shortcomings.

What do you think? Will the Pirates win 81 games before the Astros?

The Houston Press unveils your starting lineup

Richard Connelly has a different breakdown of your lineup, doing justice to their status as Resident Contrarians:

1B -- 37-year-old guy playing out of position
2B -- About-to-be-injured guy
SS -- Unproven rookie with seven big-league games under his belt
3B -- Journeyman
C -- Unproven rookie equivalent
LF -- Guy who doesn't like to exert himself
CF -- Nice player
RF -- Nice player

Sporting News' predictions

Hey, so the Sporting News has some predictions about the 2010 NL Central:

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs (Wild Card)
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

And Stan McNeal adds three predictions about the Astros:
1. Lance Berkman, recovering from knee surgery, will hobble through another season and the Astros will bid him farewell.
2. Tommy Manzella will play strong defense but won't hit enough to be rookie of the year.
3. Jason Castro will emerge as the regular catcher because of J.R. Towles' continued hitting struggles.

Feliz to platoon 1B

So word is coming out that Pedro Feliz will face left-handers from 1B while Berkman is on the DL. But hey, baseball is baseball - even if it's in reverse:

"For me, it's all the same between the lines. It's all about the fundamental stuff. I'm going to get ground balls, and I'm going to be ready."

"He's played there quite a few times, of course, with San Francisco over the past few years. He was very receptive to going over there and worked out at first base for a few days last week when we were on the road. He worked out over there, did some drills with us two days ago at first base. We'll play him a few innings there today and go from there."


And Manzella's back!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Is this on the approved list of Spring Training quotes? McTaggart's blog has some reaction from a worried Wandy:

"I'm worried because I don't feel ready and the season's here."

Wait. Honesty? That can't be right. Wandy sucked it up, and we'll cut him some slack because he left the game to go hang out with his very pregnant wife, who will give birth tonight. But still, Wandy has struggled, and if he's not tinkering with hitting spots, or a new grip, this is - obviously - not a good thing.

Berkman to "never look back"

It's very dramatic. McTaggart has an article on Berkman's DL stint, in which he vows to never fear, never turn away, never look back:

"Obviously it stinks to have to start the year on the DL, but I'll get off quick and never look back. I hate missing any games at all, but as long as it doesn't turn into an ordeal. Really just being eligible to come off [April 10] is good news."


Thank God we don't have to play all these games. Cardinals already won the division

SI's Baseball Preview came out today, and the Cardinals have apparently wrapped up the 2010 NL Central by six games over the Cubs, 18 ahead of the Astros, who are picked to go 69-93.

Here's your run-on sentence on the Astros, courtesy of writer Albert Chen:
The Astros, one of baseball's oldest teams in 2009 (six of eight regulars were at least 33), are making a desperate run at the division title; rather than replenish a depleted farm system, Houston added expensive, nonimpact veterans, among them starter Brett Myers, third baseman Pedro Feliz and reliever Brandon Lyon.

Now it's Paulino who's hurt

At what point can we call out Dr. Gene Coleman for his "strength and conditioning?" Because McTaggart is reporting that Felipe Paulino has back spasms and is having trouble moving around.

The only good thing about this is that the Astros won't actually need an SP5 until April 18.

Opening Day payroll

So the 25-man roster is set, now is a good time to talk about the Opening Day payroll, and compare it to 2009.

J.R. Towles - $406,500
Humberto Quintero - $750,000

2010 total: $1.1565m
2009 total: $2.11m
Difference: -$953,500

Lance Berkman - $14.5m
Geoff Blum - $1.5m
Kaz Matsui - $5.5m
Tommy Manzella - $400,000
Pedro Feliz - $4.5m
Jeff Keppinger - $1.15m
Chris Johnson - $400,000

2010 Total: $27.95m
2009 Total: $34.4275m
Difference: -$6.4775m

Carlos Lee - $18.5m
Michael Bourn - $2.4m
Hunter Pence - $3.5m
Jason Michaels - $800,000
Cory Sullivan - $400,000

2010 Total: $25.6m
2009 Total: $21.8735m
Difference: +$3.7265m

Roy Oswalt - $15m
Wandy Rodriguez - $5m
Brett Myers - $3.1m
Bud Norris - $401,000
Felipe Paulino - $415,000

2010 Total: $23.916m
2009 Total: $21.65m
Difference: +$2.266m

Brian Moehler - $3m
Jeff Fulchino - $425,000
Sammy Gervacio - $402,500
Chris Sampson - $815,000
Tim Byrdak - $1.6m
Matt Lindstrom - $1.625m
Brandon Lyon - $4.25m

2010 Total: $12.1175m
2009 Total: $17.824m
Difference: -$5.7065m

Alberto Arias - %415,000
Yorman Bazardo - $400,000

2010 Total Payroll (minus the DL pay): $90.74m
2009 Total Payroll: $97.3054m
Difference: -$6.5654m

Now, I put Lance in with the Infielders, because as soon as he's ready, he'll be back in the lineup. Notice that the only increases among positions are in the outfield and the rotation - due to arbitration increases. The Astros shed payroll by over $6.5m, and may have gotten better. Of course, ridding themselves of Valverde and Tejada accounted for quite a bit of the drop in payroll, but the Astros will still spend almost $91m on their 25-man roster in 2010.


Johnson on the team

Bernardo Fallas is telling us that the Astros' Opening Day roster is set at 25, with Chris Johnson and Slammin' Sammy Gervacio making the team, and Jason Bourgeois getting - unsurprisingly - reassigned.

Here's your 25-man Opening Day roster (courtesy Brian McTaggart):

CATCHERS (2) -- J.R. Towles, Humberto Quintero.

INFIELDERS (6) -- Geoff Blum, Kaz Matsui, Tommy Manzella, Pedro Feliz, Jeff Keppinger, Chris Johnson.

OUTFIELDERS (5) -- Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Jason Michaels, Cory Sullivan.

PITCHING STAFF (12) -- Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon.

And now it's Carlos Lee

Dr. Gene Coleman is the Strength & Conditioning Coach, by the way. Because Carlos Lee now has a tight quad. Just in case it had been too long since you heard about an injury.

DL Notes

Alyson Footer is saying that the following players will be placed on the Disabled Liz-nist:

Alberto Arias
Yorman Bazardo
Lance Berkman

I'm guessing Bazardo is being placed on the DL for two reasons: (1) He's hurt. (2) It'll make that transition through waivers a whole lot easier.

I really need one of these "sources"

Farmstros has a few things of note from a source in Florida. First, a report from yesterday that RHPs Scott Migl and Jack Tilghman have been cut. There were also apparently numerous cuts taking place on Monday night, but the only one confirmed by Farmstros was LHP Michael Hacker.

This is in addition to a report that Casey Hudspeth and Jordan Powell were cut.

Which is building on this report that seven younguns were cut: Sean Barksdale, OF; Craig Corrado, IF; Michael Diaz, IF; Spencer Hylander, LHP; Antonio Noguera, LHP; Ben Paxton, P; Kirkland Rivers, LHP

We'll keep an eye out for who these cuts might be...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Astros: Not brutal, just bad

Jeff Passan has a preview, kind of, of the 2010 Houston Astros:

Years of skinflint draft-day bonuses – thanks, Drayton McLane, for being the only owner in all of baseball to adhere to Bud Selig’s non-mandated slotting rules – have led to this. It’s not a brutal team; just a bad one. And no matter what sort of attitude new manager Brad Mills brings from the Red Sox, he can’t make chicken salad here. The Astros come with no demonstrable strength and a bevy of weaknesses, chief among them a bullpen that brought in failed Florida closer Matt Lindstrom to upgrade the corps. Even if Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman are healthy – and right now, neither is a lock for opening day – Houston is a leaning tower of bad contracts and grim prospects. And timber it shall go.

I suppose that, by "timber," that means it's falling over...? And what if I don't like chicken salad? So if Brad Mills can't make it, isn't that good? For me, it is.

How about some updated lineup stats?

Alright, so let's take us a gander at how the projected lineup is hitting this Spring (and no Lance):

Lineup Locks


Couple of things here. Look at Matsui's walks. That's nice.
Look at how Chris Johnson is raking with the extra-base hits. Also look at how he has struck out in 28% of his ABs. Also note 61K:29BB. Take Johnson out of the equation and you have 47K:23BB. There are five Astros in the lineup whose OBPs are over .370. That's nice, too.

Yep, just like a weatherman

Earlier today we had a post entitled Berkman's Chance of Being Ready Equal to that of a Chance of Rain. And just like a weatherman, he's right.

In that it's not likely. After trying to run at practice today, the knee swelled. Berkman:

"When I tried to run, I just couldn't do it. They're going to back me down for a few days and see what happens."

It's now a "good possibility" Berkman begins the year on the DL. What does this mean? McTaggart says this:

If Berkman is disabled, that leaves Geoff Blum, Kaz Matsui, Tommy Manzella, Pedro Feliz, Chris Johnson and Jeff Keppinger as the six infielders.

I'm going to agree with how McTaggart wraps this part up. If The Apparatus wants Johnson to play every day, they should have held off on sending Edwin Maysonet to Round Rock, as he makes more sense playing around the infield than Johnson. Johnson, because of his bat, could see time at 1B, and the whole "Defense" thing wouldn't be as big of a deal.

Here's my main problem with this decision. If Wade knew that Berkman would be ramping up his rehab today, just over two weeks after surgery on that knee, then why wouldn't he wait to send out Shelton or Maysonet to see how the knee would respond? Don't get me wrong, I love seeing Chris Johnson in the lineup, but Maysonet makes more sense for Johnson's development.

How Cut Day happens

Interesting read from Alyson Footer on how the Cuts actually get made.

Recap for ST26: Astros v. Phillies

What Happened?
Bud Norris and the bullpen dealt with a Phillies' mostly-everyday lineup, and let them taste defeat in a 5-2 win.

Why They Won
Bud Norris and the bullpen held the Phillies' lineup mostly in check - only Chase Utley and catcher Brian Schneider had multi-hit games - allowing just nine hits on the day. Carlos Lee had four RBI in a 2x3 day, and Michael Bourn was 4x5 with two doubles, a triple, and a stolen base.

Astros pitching
Norris, despite getting hit on the hand by a line-drive, went 5IP, 6H/2ER, 7K:0BB. Over the next four innings, Lindstrom, Fulchino, Byrdak, and Sampson allowed three hits, no runs, and struck out eight, walking just two (both Lindstrom's). Chris Sampson struck out all three Phillies in the 9th inning. So the out breakdown was like this: 15 strikeouts, four groundouts, and eight flyouts.

Astros batting
Former Phillies were 6x9 as Feliz added his own 2x4 day to the tally. Despite the 11 hits, only three of those came with RISP, and just one of the five runs came with two outs, and they left ten on base. Unbelievably, the Astros only made three outs via the flyball, grounding out eleven times.

0-fers (more than one AB): Pence (0x3, BB), Blum (0x2, BB), Towles (0x3, RBI), Keppinger (0x4), Shelton (0x2)

Man of the Match
Michael Bourn. Got on base four times in five plate appearances, but only scored one run.

Goat of the Game
Jeff Keppinger. 0x4. Now hitting .172 (5x29) in his last ten games.

In other non-surprising news

Matt Lindstrom has been named the Opening Day closer. Mills:

"We told Brandon Lyon he was going to be extremely valuable for us and going to be extremely valuable getting to us getting to that point as we go forward. Nothing against Brandon at all, but when Matt did throw the ball as well as he did and Brandon was getting slow in getting going, that was probably it."

Lyon's cyst put him in this position - nothing surprising here...

An NL Central preview - or, a Cardinals/Cubs preview, at least

Over at the Big League Stew they have a Cards/Cubs preview, with some minor chatter about some other teams who are also apparently in the NL Central. Such as the Astros:

I don't care for the monstrosity that Ed Wade put together in Houston, either. Lance Berkman's(notes) already hurt. That's all I need to know about the Astros. Oh, and Roy Oswalt(notes) is already talking about retiring. You tell me who the shortstop is without looking. You can't! So don't bother. Can we wrap this division up?

Oh, and the Astros are picked to finish 5th and 6th...

Norris hit by line drive

You would think that with the rash of injuries, the Astros are trying to get struck by lightning - to the point of attaching a metal hook to a cable leading directly to the Clock Tower and driving under it at precisely 88 miles per hour.

That's the only way this makes sense, because Bud Norris, pitching against the Phillies' Opening Day lineup (or most of it, anyway), was hit in the hand by a line drive, but stayed in the game after being visited by the trainer and throwing a couple of warm-up pitches.

Pushing Myers back on purpose?

We all know that Brett Myers is kind of an emotional guy. And I imagine that pitching against Philadelphia would bring out some sort of extra effort in Myers - maybe to the point of his groin detaching from the bone to get in the first jab at his former team.

So, even though Myers felt okay after a slight injury last week, he was pushed back to Friday, though he was supposed to start today. And his opponent today? The Phillies. And who would that put him in line to face next weekend (it feels good to say, "Next weekend" and be talking about meaningful baseball)? The Phillies.

Mills' handling of Myers this Spring has been good, and keeping him away from the Phillies - at least until he gets going this season - is a great idea.

Another 5th place prediction

Come on, somebody grow some and pick the Astros to finish 2nd. The Sport Review has the Astros finishing ahead of the Pirates, at least:

Aside from a couple of notable exceptions, like 2004 second round pick Hunter Pence, Houston’s acquisition and development of young talent has been pretty abysmal. They will be relying once again on the offense of Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman – a situation not helped by the fact that Berkman will not be for Opening Day.

With the ball, Roy Oswalt was far from his best last year, but the Astros would rather have him on the roster than not. Unfortunately for them, there could be some delay in that, after the right-hander suffered a hamstring strain a few days ago and may not be ready for Opening Day...

...Regardless, 2010 is likely to be a long year for the ‘Stros

Yeah, that's true. I'd rather have Roy on the roster than not.

Berkman's chance of being ready equal to that of a chance of rain

Brian McTaggart is tweeting that Berkman says there's a 70% chance of him being ready for Opening Day. Berkman, not McTaggart.

Manzella update

Courtesy of Alyson Footer, Tommy Manzella will DH for five innings in a minor-league game today. If he gets through that without his quad ending up around his shoulder blades, he could get into the Major-League game tomorrow, and he's still optimistic about being ready for Opening Day.

Wade and Mills impressed with Towles' improvement, not looking for catching

McTaggart has some reaction to the cuts made today, and Mills/Wade address the catching situation.

Mills, on Towles:
"What I've seen on film and from talking to people, he seemed to improve. The way he's gone about his business has been successful. He's got experience at the Major League level, and I think the way he's handled himself this spring has been very good. We're looking forward to the things he has to offer and bring to the ballclub."

Mills, on Castro:
"He did everything we asked. He showed why he is the prospect he is. There's no reason to think [with] his performance this spring he's not going to be a solid Major League catcher for a long time."

Wade, on more catching:
"We're not out looking for catching. Before that becomes misinterpreted as maybe we're not satisfied with what we have in camp, we're more than satisfied in the context to have to send Jason Castro out. Millsie wants to wait to set his lineup, and I don't want anybody to misunderstand or [think] there's a hidden meaning or that we're trolling for a catcher. That's not the case."

More predictions's John Schlegel posted his NL Central preview. What does he say about the Astros?

About doing damage:
The same could be said for the Astros, but that likely would depend on bounceback seasons from first baseman Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. With a renewed energy sparked by the arrival of former Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills as manager and driven by young up-and-comers Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, the Astros could surprise some folks.

Best Defense: Houston Astros
Astros center fielder Bourn turned his speed into a Gold Glove a year ago, right fielder Pence led the league in assists and rookie shortstop Tommy Manzella comes in with a sparkling defensive reputation, and he'll share the left side of the infield with Pedro Feliz, also solid. The Reds have more Gold Glove winners, but Rolen and Cabrera won't be favored to win again this year -- although second baseman Phillips might. Pujols and his Gold Glove lead a solid group in St. Louis as well. Our selection: Astros

Finish: 5th

Fox Sports' Power Rankings

In an effort to do a better job at keeping up with the Power Rankings, I'm tinkering with the idea of posting a Power Ranking of my own each Sunday night. Thoughts?

For now, go ahead and get pissed at the Astros' first appearance of the season:

Astros #28:
Roy Oswalt needed an injection in his lower back to make the start on Opening Day. How will he feel in August?

And FYI:
St. Louis: #6
Milwaukee: #13
Chicago: #15
Cincinnati: #17
Pittsburgh: #27

That's right. Last in the NL Central.

Mayo's 10 Prospects to Watch

Apparently it's Astros Day for Jonathan Mayo, who posted his 10 Astros Prospects to watch. They are:

Jay Austin
Jason Castro
Collin DeLome
Jon Gaston
Chris Johnson
Chia-Jen Lo
Jordan Lyles
Tommy Manzella
Jiovanni Mier
Ross Seaton

There were some subtractions from last year's list:
Felipe Paulino
Bud Norris
Brian Bogusevic:
As a guy who has the skills to play an outfield corner well (that pitching arm works from the outfield too), he will need to show he can hit for more power than he did last year.

Mayo's 2010 Organizational Preview

Jonathan Mayo posted an organizational preview of Eddie's Farm this morning. What does he say?

Don't look now, but the Astros farm system is starting to pay some dividends, too. It's still not where it needs to be, especially in terms of depth, but there are some homegrown players just about ready to contribute, with some more intriguing ones down the pike...

...Much of the talk surrounding the improvement of the previously barren Astros farm system has centered around the work of scouting director Bobby Heck, who's overseen the past two Drafts. He's shown a willingness to go a little off the board, and it's already playing dividends at the highest level in the form of 2008 first-round pick Jason Castro.

The other benefits may take a bit longer to be felt in Houston and, truth be told, there's still not a ton of talent in the organization. But it is encouraging that there are some legitimate prospects at various rungs on the ladder.

And some predictions:

Hitter of the Year: Jiovanni Mier
Unsure of how California League standouts like Clemens and Jonathan Gaston will fare up a level, we like how Mier, last year's first-rounder, kicked things off. He'll handle the jump to full-season ball just fine and compete for the South Atlantic League MVP.

Pitcher of the Year: Jordan Lyles
It's hard not to go with last year's winner since he's only going to get better. The only thing that could hold him back statistically would be extended time in Class A Lancaster, but even that might not keep him from being the organization's best in ERA and strikeouts.

The Screw-gee

So the dreaded cuts came today for nine, and I'll agree with The Crawfish Boxes, some of them don't make sense.

Here are your nine:
RHP Wilton Lopez
RHP Casey Daigle
RHP Gary Majewski
RHP Gustavo Chacin

IF Drew Meyer
1B Chris Shelton
IF/OF Edwin Maysonet

C Jason Castro
C Kevin Cash

McTaggart notes that Majewski, Chacin, Meyer, Shelton, and Cash were reassigned to minor-league camp, but will stay with the Big Club through the end of Spring Training.

Lopez, Maysonet, Castro, and Daigle are reassigned to Minor League camp immediately.

So this likely means the following:
Towles will be your Opening Day catcher (though Footer notes that the Astros are saying it's between Towles and Quintero.)
Gervacio has his spot in the bullpen.
Cory Sullivan is your OF5.

I'm most surprised by Lopez, Maysonet, and Daigle's reassignment. Lopez didn't allow an earned run all Spring. Maysonet got playing time in LF yesterday, and was given a nice review by Mills, so I'm not sure what that guy has to do to stick with the Big League team. Daigle has been lights out this Spring, while Moehler and Byrdak have taken their sweet time to get ready for the season to start (though I understand Byrdak's predisposition to throwing with his left arm is a reason why he's a roster lock). Hopefully with the performances shown this spring by these three, that means there's a short leash on the big league guys.

Joel Roza: What you saw last year, you'll see this year

The Caller-Times' Joel Roza posted his NL Central predictions, and has the Astros 5th:

St. Louis: 91-71
Chicago: 83-78
Milwaukee: 80-82
Cincinnati: 78-84
Houston: 74-88
Pittsburgh: 62-99

As for contention in the NL Central, the Astros are too involved in quasi-rebuilding and quasi-playing to win to be able to do hold up for 162 games. Myers, Norris, Lindstrom, Lyon, Castro, Manzella and Feliz are wild cards in the Astros’ overall success, but if things with Oswalt and Berkman don’t improve and those wild cards fail for the most part – it’s not going to be much of a season to remember. The Astros will look more alive under new manager Brad Mills and I’m pumped to see where they go with him, but this team needs time to develop if they’re going to succeed at some point down the road.

Chacin resigned to his fate

In Fallas' Notes Column, we see that Chacin is a man who knows what's coming:

think I made good pitches, but they made good swings, and that wind blew the balls out. I battled and tried to mix things up. I'm here to pitch. If they send me down, I'll go down or see if somebody else offers me something.”

If the Astros option him to Triple-A, I imagine he heads to the Hill Country. It's not as though Chacin has dazzled this Spring, and could be an option if injuries mount later in the season.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Here's another Bleacher Report prediction

Just because I want to, here's a link to another Bleacher Report prediction post, in which the Astros are predicted to finish 5th. But not for the reason you might expect:

I like this team for giving ex-Met Jeff Keppinger a legitimate role on the team. He's one of my favorite players. But aside from Wandy Rodriguez, this whole team doesn't impress me. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see it.

Interesting. So "thumbs up" to Jeff Keppinger, but Hunter Pence? Eh.

That injection? Don't worry about that little injection

Fallas has some quotes regarding the injection Roy got in his back to start the Opener.

"We see this as a good news report. It is a maintenance issue. Dr. McCann said Roy is in a much better spot now than he was a year ago, or even last September, when he was working with him from the standpoint of his symmetry of his back and the structure. We take this as good news; he got the injection in his back and he is on point to pitch on Wednesday and on point to pitch on Opening Day.”

Let's hope Wade's right.

And McTaggart has an update on Berkman, saying it's a possibility he'll be put on the DL.

"If he's not at the point of getting into games in the next couple of days, then I think the prudent thing would be to go ahead and disable him and give him time to get ready. We're not there yet. He could come in tomorrow and say, 'I'm good to go on Wednesday.' We could leave him back here and he could play in [Minor League] games all the way through Sunday if it looked as if he were moving in a straight line and would be ready for Opening Day."

Recap for Astros v. Pirates

What Happened?
Hard to imagine that non-roster invitee Gustavo Chacin will keep his roster invitation much longer, after the Pirates blistered him in a 13-1 win over the Astros.

Why They Lost
Hitting four homers in a game, and taking a 10-0 lead at the end of the third pretty much ended it. The Pirates got 15 hits on the day, and eight of them were for extra-bases (three doubles, one triple, and FOUR home runs). Andrew McCutchen was 2x4 with a triple and a homer, and Akinori Iwamura AND Jeff Clement went 3x5.

Astros pitching
Chacin...Chacin. Chacin's line was as follows: 2IP, 9H/8R (6ER), 1K:2BB. He faced 17 Pirates, got six outs, and all five of his in-play outs were flyballs. So the Pirates were popping the ball off him. Once he left, it wasn't so bad. Runs were allowed by Andy Van Hekken, Brandon Lyon, and Wilton Lopez - though of the Pirates 13 runs, "only" eight of them were earned, thanks to four errors by the Astros. Sam Gervacio is still The Man, striking out three in two perfect innings, dropping his ERA to 0.82 (though Wilton Lopez' ERA for the Spring is 0.00). It's worth noting that Brandon Lyon gave up five hits in 2IP today, as well.

Astros batting
Not much going on here, either. The Astros were 6x32, with no extra-base hits, and were 2x11 with RISP. And Gustavo Chacin got one of those hits. Geoff Blum is coming back to earth, going 0x4 with 2Ks, and a .245 batting average. J.R. Towles - bad hamstring and all - was 0x4 with 2Ks and a GIDP. The lone RBI was from Matt Kata in the 4th.

0-fers (more than one AB): Towles (0x4), Blum (0x4), Johnson (0x3, BB, 3K), Shelton (0x2),

Positional Battles

Towles: 0x4, 2K (.333)

Johnson: 0x3, 3K, BB, E (.286)
Maysonet: 1x4 (.295)
Shelton: 0x2, BB, E (.326)

Man of the Match
Sam Gervacio. With today's performance, may have put a stranglehold on Arias' bullpen spot.

Goat of the Game
Chacin, man. Chacin.

Jon Paul Morosi is kerrazy!

Jon Paul Morosi's NL Central Preview is out of control. Not only do the Cardinals not win the Division, they don't even win the Wild Card! But what's even more crazy is the Astros finishing behind the Pirates!

Quick, name an Astro other than Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence.
Fantasy Baseball 2010

No, Biggio retired.

Bagwell, too.

Stumped? I understand. And here's the kicker: Oswalt (hamstring) and Berkman (knee) have both battled injuries this spring.

This season wasn't going to be easy for Oswalt and Berkman, anyway: They have seen the glory years. This isn't going to be one of them.

Brad Mills has the chance to be a very good manager in the major leagues. But that won't be evident by his record in Year One.

Biting. Cutting. Silly?

Oswalt to be ready for Opening Day

Courtesy of Alyson Footer, tells us that Roy will be ready for Opening Day:

Oswalt received an injection in his back by Dr. McCann in Houston. He'll make his scheduled start Wednesday and he WILL start opening day.

That's good news. Except for needing an injection in his back before the season starts. That's not so good...

"One Scout" deserves to have his license taken away

In Jon Heyman's column today, he goes around the camps, giving Brad Mills the Tough Luck award, thanks to all the injuries:

"Everyone has injuries. You might have three hamstrings, two quads ... but you can't pick from a list."

We see that the Astros expect to have Roy back in time to start Opening Day.

But then we see ridiculousness. If this is what "one scout" gets paid to do, it's easy money:

The Cardinals "can really hit,'' according to one scout. They have the best hitter in the game (Albert Pujols), signed the best hitting free agent (Matt Holliday) and perhaps the best hitter among bench players (Felipe Lopez)."

Oh yeah? The Cardinals can hit? That's newsworthy...

McTaggart's Monday Morning Update

Good news, Astros fans, as Astros County returns from a weekend sabbatical (just needed a little break) - McTaggart has a new post up with Monday Morning Updates!

We can expect to see a more consistent lineup, now that we're a week away from Opening Day, says Mills:

"They're going to be playing quite a bit now coming down the last couple of days. Hunter [Pence] has had two nine-inning stints back to back, and Carlos [Lee] had his four at-bat stint a couple of days ago. We're getting there. Kaz [Matsui] has played an awful lot, and that's why he's taking the last two days [Sunday and Monday off]."

Manzella and Bourgeois were scheduled to get some ABs in a minor league game, but it was rained out, so they hit in the cage instead - showing Mills' hurry-back philosophy:

"Before we throw them into something like that, we have to get them in a game atmosphere. If anybody, [the rainout] probably pushes Bourgeois back a little bit. We'd like to at least see him get some more at-bats and see him a little bit more."

J.R. Towles and his hamstring are playing the Big League game today, which is acknowleged as probably not being too smart:

"(The hamstring is) probably not where we need to be... but at the same time we need to get him behind the plate and seeing pitches and swinging the bat."

And Lance Berkman has encouraging news as he's taken BP for the second day in a row.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Glasgow Daily Times doesn't think too much of the Astros

The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times has a prediction about the NL Central for you:

This is essentially a two-team race between the St. Louis Cardinals and anybody but the Pirates and Astros.

But hey, at least Jon Webb is objective about it:
As with the last 23 years, my gut instinct is to pick the Cincinnati Reds. They are my favorite team and, because of this, I loathe their divisional competition.

Nick Cafardo's Annual Manager Rankings the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo published his annual manager rankings. Where is Brad Mills?

We always put the guys who haven’t managed last. We suspect he’ll move up, based on early returns for organization, evaluation, and player relationships.

Manzella continues to feel tightness

Brad Mills is backing off projections that Manzella could be back as early as tomorrow, as he's having trouble with lateral movement.

“We're concerned about Tommy's lateral movement. He still feels it a little bit when going side to side.”

And within that section we also see that, unbelievably (or completely believably), J.R. Towles has experienced tightness in his hamstring, as well.


Fallas tells us that Wandy will pitch on short rest on Wednesday to go be with his wife as she is expected to give birth. Fallas notes that, with Oswalt nursing his sore hamstring, it will set Wandy up to pitch Opening Day on normal rest.