Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wondering where Bourn was?

You probably already noticed, but I was out this afternoon - hitting refresh on my phone, which is way worse than actually watching or listening - and didn't see. Bourn was not in the lineup, and it's because his groin hurts. But whose doesn't, really, after a 2-9 start to the season?

Recap for G11: Astros @ Cubs

Well well. Brandon Lyon, eyes on you. You almost blew it, but Roy got his first win since August 31, 2009 - coincidentally, at Wrigley - and took over sole possession of second place on the Astros' all-time win list. The Astros "improve" to 2-9 with a 4-3 win.

Why They Won
Well, they almost didn't. If Chris Sampson hadn't come in to clean up Brandon Lyon's mess, that might have been it. But Roy threw a gem, and the Astros got some clutch hits - including a homer from J.R. Towles in the midst of a 3x4 day.

Astros Pitching

Oswalt75/06:0101-67 (66.3%)19/10
Lyon0.24/31:020-14 (70%)2/2
Sampson0.10/00:09-6 (66.7%)0/2
Lindstrom10/02:016-10 (62.5%)3/2

What the heck, Lyon? Roy left with a 4-0 lead and in comes the $15 Million Man:
Theriot: 2-2 ground out to first
Fukudome: 1st-pitch single to center
Lee: 1-2 double to left center
Ramirez: 1st-pitch double to left, Lee and Fukudome score (4-2)
Byrd: 6-pitch swinging strikeout
Soriano: 1-1 double to left (4-3)

And Sampson came in and got Fontenot to ground out to second, with the tying run in scoring position. All the hits that Lyon gave up were pulled to left, except for Fukudome's single up the middle.

The Cubs got an extra out when Tommy Manzella made an error that allowed Theriot to get on base, and then Lindstrom's wild pitch sent him to second. Thank God Fukudome struke out swinging to end the game with, again, the tying run in scoring position. And the Cubs were 2x9 w/RISP.

Astros hitting

Pence and Lee had back-to-back hits for the first time this season, so that was nice, but 3-4-5- were a combined 2x12. Amazingly, that's an improvement.

The Astros again saw fewer pitches than the Cubs, but hey, Roy drew a walk. So that walkless streak ended at 81 plate appearances, but that was the only walk. If we're going by position players without a walk we're sitting at 108 plate appearances, and counting...

Let's hear it for J.R. Towles, though, huh? Credit where it's due. That dude was 3x4 with 2 RBI and two runs scored. He raised his batting average from .056 to .182 (that's 126 points if you're lazy), and his 3RBI in 2010 match his 2009 total.

Keppinger continued his hot streak with a 1x4 day, extending his hit streak to three games, and his on-base streak to nine games. Keppinger was 0x1 in the season opener, and has been on base in every game since (didn't play on April 12). Towles and Keppinger also had 2-out RBI.

Pitch Count Hero: J.R. Towles (3x4) - 21 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence (1x4) and Pedro Feliz (0x4) - 10 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Roy should get this, but it's going to J.R. Towles, because the blond fella deserves it.

Goat of the Game: Brandon Lyon. You're already up against a wall, you have to take it upon yourself to make the decision to sign you at least look like a wash.

Who we got - G11: Astros @ Cubs

The Astros are trying to avoid this whole, "Lose-Eight-Win-One" thing with an early start at Wrigley today, sending Roy to the mound.

Who We Got

Chicago: 5-5, 2nd place, 2GB
At home: 3-1
Vs. Houston: 1-0
Runs scored/Against: 47/51

Houston: 1-9, 6th place, 6GB
Road: 1-3
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 21/52

Starting Pitchers

Tom Gorzelanny: 0-0, 0.00 ERA / 0.95 WHIP
Last game: @CIN. 6.1IP, 4H/0ER (1R), 7K:2BB

Roy Oswalt: 0-2, 3.75 ERA / 1.33 WHIP
Last game: vPHI.: 6IP, 5H/2ER, 8K:2BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because in 2009, Roy made four starts against the Cubs (one was his injury-shortened start in July) and threw 20IP, 19H/8ER, 14K:2BB. And he hasn't lost at Wrigley since September 2008.

Because in 317 plate appearances, crurrent Cubs are hitting .241/.263/.408 against Roy. Aramis Ramirez has a .695 OPS, Soriano - .692.

Because Tom Gorzelanny needs a lot of pitches to get through innings. His last outing was a 98-pitch, 6.1IP outing, his longest since August 4. So the quicker the Astros can get to the Cubs' bullpen, the better.

Because the Astros hit Gorzelanny to a .289/.364/.553 line. Carlos Lee is 3x7 with a home run.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because they still can't hit. I don't know that I've ever seen an offense this futile.

Because Gorzelanny dominated against the Reds on April 11. He threw 62 of his 98 pitches for strikes, and 26 of them were non-contact strikes.

Because Gorzelanny gets groundballs, and the Astros like to hit groundballs. He got the Reds to hit ten groundballs, compared to six flyballs - and seven strikeouts.


A couple of things to note this morning:

Round Rock

The Astros have signed LHP Nelson Payano, and assigned him to Round Rock. Payano, 27, is 15-14 in 135 games, having spent 2003-2008 in the Atlanta organization before going to the Mariners where he reached Double-A. In 2008, Payano was 4-3 with a 4.16 ERA/1.66 WHIP, 65K:42BB. He spent 2009 in Japan, and was a non-roster invitee to the Royals' major-league camp this spring, where he was released on March 31.


Assigned Nathan Pettus to Lexington from Tri-City.

Eddie's Farm: April 16

Round Rock

The Express gave up five in the top of the 7th to provide the margin in a 7-3 loss to New Orleans in the home opener. Polin Trinidad threw 5IP, 2H/2R (1ER), 4K:2BB, and the Express had a 3-2 lead in the 7th when Jared Wells came in and gave up 5ER on 5H/1BB in 0.2IP. Round Rock only got five hits on the night, including a double by Shelton and a triple by Maysonet. Bourgeois had a hit and his 10th stolen base on the season.

Man of the Match: Polin Trinidad

Corpus Christi

Postponed, due to wet field, and will be played as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.


Rancho Cucamonga was all over Lancaster early and often in a 9-1 win over the JetHawks. Brad Dydalewicz gave up 4H/5ER, 3K:2BB in 4IP, while Edwin Walker and Kyle Godfrey each gave up two earned runs. Pat Urckfitz was the only JetHawk pitcher to not allow a run. And there wasn't much going on offensively. Freddy Parejo was 2x4 for the only multi-hit game, while Jay Austin scored the lone run after a double, and Mark Ori had the lone RBI. Barry Butera got on base twice, once via the hit, and once via the lone walk.

Man of the Match: Barry Butera


Rain shortened the Legends game against the Greenville Drive, and if they had played the full nine, they might have scored 100 runs combined. Lexington wins 12-8. Lexington jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, Greenville answered with five in the 2nd and two in the 3rd before the Legends came back with five in the bottom of the 3rd. Jose Cisnero gave up 4H/7R (5ER), 3K:2BB in 3IP, and Nathan Pettus cleaned it up - and got the win - with 3IP of perfect relief, striking out five. Kirk Clark gave up an earned run in the 7th. And it was a big day for Kody Hinze, who was 3x4 with 2HR, including a 1st-inning grand slam, finishing with 6RBI. Jonathan Meyer was also 3x4, Jake Goebbert was 2x3 (2RBI), Jiovanni Mier was 2x3, and Grant Hogue was 2x4 with his 4th stolen base of the season. Good thing Jonathan Meyer is hitting .389, because he committed his 7th error of the season, leading to two unearned runs.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze

BBTIA has an inside look into The Apparatus

This link will take you to a post from Baseball Time In Arlington, which links to a different post in which a former Astros intern dishes on The Apparatus, circa 2007. It's alarming, and horrifying, and should be qualified as hearsay. But still. I'm not going to pull the whole thing, but here's the gist:

-The scouts hate Moneyball, but haven't read it.

-A local first round pick had "make-up" concerns, which means they pretty much all knew he was on PEDs, and later did test positive.

-The Apparatus has nothing in the way of sabermetric analysis. This intern taught them how to use Excel. The Assistant GM was only interested in a certain catcher's batting average, and was in the Majors quickly, where "he has been a huge disappointment for the club."


Friday, April 16, 2010

So let's put the spotlight on Sean Berry

Hitting coach Sean Berry has been in his current position since July 12, 2006, taking over on a full-time basis beginning with the 2007 season. Let's see how these last three years have gone. Below is a table with the three slash lines, and following each stat is the team's rank, out of 16 NL teams.

2007.260 (12th).330 (10th).412 (10th).742 (10th)91
2008.263 (6th).323 (11th).415 (7th).738 (10th)94
2009.260 (8th).319 (13th).400 (11th).719 (12th)90

Okay, so a few things here. Since Berry took over full-time, the Astros have not been in the Top 5 in a single slash line category. Now, to be fair, it's not like the Astros were the '27 Yankees in the years preceding his arrival (except for 2004, when the Astros were 7th/6th/6th/6th - but that has a lot to do with Kent, Beltran, Bagwell, and Berkman in his 28-year old season).

That said, this is pretty bad. And while the Astros will not likely be making any personnel moves anytime soon, We cannot lose sight of the fact that the Astros have been 10th, 11th, and 13th in the National League in on-base percentage, and their OPS+ has been on the wrong side of 100 in each of these years. With THAT said, it's debatable how much impact a hitting coach actually has. He can break down film and pitchers with the hitters all day, and when it comes gametime, Hunter Pence can forget all of it and chase breaking balls down and out of the zone. But still...

Recap for G10: Astros @ Cubs

Well, that optimism faded fast. The Astros dropped their fourth straight series opener to the Cubs, and dropped to 1-9 with a 7-2 loss in Chicago.

Why They Lost
Yes, Paulino struggled to begin the 7th inning, pitching to four batters and recording no outs, but this is pinned on the bullpen, because Paulino left with the bases loaded and the game tied 2-2. Byrdak and Fulchino combined to actually allow five of the six runs scored in the crucial 7th inning, in which the Astros entered the bottom half with a 2-1 lead, and came out of down 7-2.

Astros Pitching

Paulino66/53:3106-61 (57.5%)20/7
Byrdak0.21/10:04-4 (100%)0/1
Fulchino0.12/10:016-12 (75%)4/1
Lopez12/01:016-10 (62.5%)2/3

Yeah, so let's revisit that 7th inning. We'll begin at the beginning of the bottom of the 7th, with Paulino pitching:
Marlon Byrd: 2-2 double to center
Soriano: 2-1 double to deep left (2-2 game)
Fontenot: 4-pitch walk
Hill: 6-pitch walk

Now Byrdak comes in:
Nady: 1st-pitch flyout (Soriano somehow holds at 3rd)
Theriot: Reaches on bunt single that Feliz completely nutted (Soriano scores, 3-2 CHC)
Fukudome: 0-1 sac fly to center, scores Fontenot (4-2)

Now it's Fulchino's turn:
Derrek Lee: 2-2 (7 pitches) three-run homer to center (7-2)
Ramirez: Doubles to left
Byrd: Grounds out to second

So all of the runners that Paulino left on base later scored, and Feliz screwing up the bunt single for two reasons: (1) He didn't make the tag on Theriot, or (2) throw the ball to home for the force, really hurt Paulino's line.

Fulchino has appeared in five games (and this was his first appearance since April 11). He gave up 4H/4ER, 0K:1BB, HR in 0.1IP against the Giants in G3, and a three-run homer today, which he was only charged for one earned run. Even with the one earned run, Fulchino's ERA is 12.27, and he's allowed 7H/1BB in 3.1IP.

Astros hitting

Jeebus. Six hits. No walks. Again. The six hits were spread evenly over six batters. And hey, Carlos Lee got a hit, so that bumps his OPS all the way up to .228! Chris Johnson had an RBI triple and 3Ks, and Tommy Manzella was 1x4 with an RBI. Otherwise, your 0-fers were Bourn (0x4), Feliz (0x3), and Pence (0x4).

The impatience at the plate is killing me. The Astros only saw 113 pitches (compared to the Cubs' 142 - of course the Cubs batted a lot more in the 7th inning). Today was the 8th straight game that the Astros have seen fewer pitches than their opponent (somehow in Gs1&2, the Giants threw more pitches than the Astros). This is also the fifth game, and the second straight, this season that the Astros have not leisurely strolled to first base. Michael Bourn walked (right after Jeff Keppinger walked) in the 8th inning of G7. And it's now 73 plate appearances, and counting, since that walk. And the Astros only saw a three-ball count three times (Keppinger, Bourn, and Pence).

Pitch Count Hero: Jeff Keppinger (1x4) & Hunter Pence (0x4) - 17 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Pedro Feliz (0x3) - 10 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Chris Johnson. Because the more he can make an impact at the plate, the harder it will be to play Geoff Blum anywhere. And his triple, thanks to some Helen Keller-esque fielding, tied the game at 1-1.

Goat of the Game: Jeff Fulchino. Knock those homers off.

Brenden Stines is still in Extended Spring Training

The Ball State Daily News is saying that Brenden Stines is currently in Extended Spring Training, and will report soon to Lancaster or Lexington.

Carlos Lee takes the blame, and that's fine

Carlos Lee feels personally responsible for the Astros' slow start - and that's fine by me.

"We're struggling right now trying to score runs, and I take full blame, because I've been in big spots in a lot of games and I haven't been able to come up with the big hit...My swing is feeling a lot better and I'm hitting the ball hard and putting good swings on the ball. I'm not doing anything differently or changing my swing. I'm trying to find rhythm. That's the problem right now. I don't know how you lose it like that. It's funny. I came out of Spring Training swinging the bat real well and all of a sudden somebody turned the lights on and turned mine off. I guess it's a matter of finding the spot and not being too far out front or too far back. I need to find the middle spot and get there to help the team."

That's correct, Carlos Lee. Not counting today's game vs Chicago, Lee has had 36 plate appearances. In only five plate appearances has he even seen a three-ball count. He's 0x10 with RISP. In innings 4-9, he's 2x25. I'm okay with him claiming some responsibility.

And there's the backhanded slam of Cecil Cooper and Dewey Robinson, courtesy of Chris Sampson:

"I feel even better than I did the first half of last season. With Arnsberg and Mills this year, they understand you can't run guys out there every single day and for multiple innings every single day and they're a lot easier to talk to. They want you to be completely honest with them and let them know how you feel because they don't want to run you out there if you're not feeling right. It's not going to help players, not going to help the team if you're not 100 percent. They do a great job with all of us, using everybody in the bullpen and getting everybody in games and getting them innings and do a great job of mixing it up. It's just a heck of a lot better atmosphere, and it's a lot of fun to play for them."


Token afternoon Berkman update

Brian McTaggart has our TABU today:

Berkman worked out today, went well, cleared to play in Round Rock on Saturday and Sunday.

FanGraphs asks: Are the Astros really this bad?

Fangraphs' Matt Klaassen asks if the Astros are really as bad as they've played over the last nine games, and then answers his own question:

Despite the fact that it is only the second week of the season, it is no longer early in Houston. With a 1-8 start to the season, the Astros would have to win 59 percent of their games the rest of the way to end up with 90 wins on the season. This team simply isn’t good enough to play at that level for five and a half months. It’s too early to say that they’re definitely the worst team in baseball, but it's not too early to write off their playoff chances.

Sam Gervacio has some rehab to get done

Alyson Footer tells us that Sam Gervacio will head out on rehab assignments to Round Rock next Monday and Wednesday.

The question is this: who will get sent down once Gervacio is activated? Because right now, we're dealing with a bullpen of Lindstrom, Lyon, Byrdak, Fulchino, Moehler, Lopez, and Sampson. Of those, Fulchino and Lopez are the two that have struggled the most, but I'm guessing it's Lopez who gets sent down...

Houston Press: Yep, bench Matsui. But what to do with Lee?

John Royal agrees that Matsui should be benched, but what about Carlos Lee?

It should be an easy decision that Matsui should be benched, and that he should stay there. Keppinger has shown that, so far, he's able to get on base in a consistent fashion this year, and the Astros need another bat to go along with Bourn's. The defense won't suffer, and there really should be more than one batter in the Astros lineup for opposing pitchers to fear.

However, the Astros are spending a lot of money on Matsui, so the probability is that he'll keep trotting out to second base for most games. Pence actually got a hit yesterday, and over his career, he's shown an ability to play the outfield. Lee, however, is doing nothing that should allow him to be playing left field everyday. Nothing, that is, except sign a huge contract that has made him the ultimate of all albatrosses, the left fielder who should actually be a designated hitter but who is now hitting even worse than Adam Everett at Everett's worse.

Lee has so looked bad at the plate that he's been swinging at pitches that not even Enos Cabell would have swung at, and anyone who remembers Cabell knows that Cabell would swing at anything.

But let's face it. Even if Mills thought he could get away with benching Lee, the basic truth is there's just nobody to play in his place. Jason Michaels is the Geoff Blum of backup outfielders, which means that if he's starting everyday then your team really, really sucks.

Keith Law: Nah, Roy won't bring much

Keith Law counters Jayson Stark's report that the Astros could be shopping Roy:

What's the market for Roy-O?
"Not much -- he's already showing signs of decline and his contract is enormous. The Astros refusal to rebuild sooner is going to catch up with them in a huge way this year."

The '77 Astros are getting punked

Your Astros County-managed '77 Astros are having a rough time of it. And the Pirates are killing it right now, which is unfortunate as they're leading the division.

Astros 2
Pirates 7

The beatings go on for Buc opponents. Clouts off J.R. Richard no less by Pops and Cobra propel Pittsburgh to their TENTH win in a row, and the Candy Man cruises.

Record: 10-14
GB: 5.5

Eddie's Farm: April 15

Round Rock

Each time the Express scored, the Redhawks had an answer in a 3-2 loss at Oklahoma City. Andy Van Hekken threw 5.2IP, 7H/3ER, 6K:1BB in the loss. Jason Bourgeois had two of the Express' five hits, and stole four bases. Edwin Maysonet was 0x5 with 3Ks, and the Express were 1x13 w/RISP. And Chris Shelton is hitting .333, just so you know.

Man of the Match: Jason Bourgeois

Corpus Christi

Douglas Arguello notched his second win of the season, and lowered his ERA to 0.79 in a 4-0 win over Tulsa. Arguello threw 6IP, 4H/0ER, 4K:0BB, while Chia-Jen Lo walked four and gave up a hit in 2.2 scoreless IP. Meszaros came in to get the last out for his first save of the season. Marcos Cabral hit his first homer - a 2-run shot - of the season, Wladimir Sutil was 3x3, and every position player save for Koby Clemens got a hit.

Man of the Match: Douglas Arguello


In 2009, Dallas Keuchel posted a 2.70 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP for Tri-City. Things aren't going so well in the California League as the JetHawks dropped to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 7-3. Keuchel threw 4.2IP, 8H/4ER, 5K:0BB (three runs coming off two homers), and Leandro Cespedes gave up 3ER in 1.1IP. David Berner threw three scoreless IP, allowing 2H and getting 3Ks. Offensively, Freddy Parejo had two of the JetHawks' six hits, while David Flores, Brandon Barnes, and Federico Hernandez provided the RBI.

Man of the Match: David Berner


Rough day for the offense in Kannapolis as the Legends managed six hits in a 5-1 loss. Robby Donovan gave up 4H/2R (0ER), 1K:2BB, and Mike Schurz gave up 3H/3ER, 0K:1BB in the seventh to let the game slip away. But the bullpen overall (Trinidad, Schurz, Sarisky) gave up 9H/3ER, 4K:1BB in three innings in relief. Jiovanni Mier had the lone extra-base hit, and Jonathan Meyer was 2x4. Our boy Aaron Bray was 0x4, and committed the error leading to Donovan's two unearned runs.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Meyer.

McTaggart: Keep Keppinger at 2B

Brian McTaggart's new blog post says that Jeff Keppinger should be starting at 2B. Not Kaz Matsui.

Jeff Keppinger isn't going to hit .391 for the season, and he's probably not going to hit .291 when all is said and done, either. He's a career .279 hitter entering this year, but is off to a terrific start at the plate in 2010 after going 2-for-4 with three RBIs as the starting shortstop in Thursday's win -- yes, win -- over the St. Louis Cardinals. Kaz Matsui, on the other hand, is hitting .095.

At this point, I'm all for Keppinger getting the bulk of the playing time at second base. He's proven to be a better hitter in his career than Matsui, who's a career .271 hitter entering this year. Neither one provides much power, though Matsui did hit nine homers in a career-high 132 games last year. Matsui had a stellar year on defense last year, but Keppinger is no slouch and will make most of the plays Matsui will make...

...But Keppinger should continue to be in the lineup every day, and he should be starting at second base as long as Matsui has trouble getting on base.

There is no statistical or anecdotal evidence available that could discount this argument.

Mills might still be awake

Bernardo Fallas talked to Mills after the game to get his thoughts on his first managerial win. Mills:

"It was kind of funny; after it went to three there was a lot of people calling. It went to five and there was a lot of people calling. By the time it went to eight there weren't too many people calling. I think they decided not to say anything. But it's blown up now (the skid). People are good; they've been great.”

And we also see that Hunter Pence does know how to hit:

Astros outfielder Hunter Pence knocked out the “M” in the fluorescent-lit Big Mac Land sign in the left field mezzanine during batting practice.

The Oklahoman would like to continually remind you that the farm system isn't as good as the Rangers'

In an article for The Oklahoman, Matt Peterson kicks the dead horse:

The Houston Astros might have a star in their logo, but the organization is virtually bereft of any in its farm system. That showed in Oklahoma City’s series win over Round Rock this week. The RedHawks closed out their first series with the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate with a 3-2 win Thursday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark.

Oklahoma City won three of the four games in the series.

But just hold on, says Jason Castro:

"I think we have a lot of good guys coming up. I think, obviously, it was down for a few years, but the class I have come up with is a strong group. There’s a lot of outfield talent in Double-A. We have a couple of promising pitchers in Jordan Lyles and Ross Seaton that are going to be really good. We’ll see it in the next couple of years. It’s just a matter of time before we start pulling it together.”

J.R. Towles' struggles won't impact Castro's promotion

In the Austin American-Statesman, Ricky Bennett explains the situation, what with Towles hitting .056:

"Each player is different. Obviously, a couple of years ago when we sent J.R. through the system, we did it rather quickly, and he didn't face a lot of adversity. That's not too much of a factor in how we move Jason."

Ricky Bennett, on Castro:

"Sometimes it gets lost that he's only had one full season of minor league baseball. A lot of transitioning was going on in his first year, and he just needs to continue getting the experience."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recap for G9: Astros @ Cardinals

Holy crap. Have you ever felt so good about scoring five runs? Have you ever felt so good after starting 1-8? I actually sent trash talk emails this afternoon, after the Astros defeated the Cardinals, 5-1.

Why They Won
Some actual hitting with runners on base and Bud Norris' career day. It was only two hits, but Bud Norris got himself an RBI single (and yes, he now has more RBI than Carlos Lee, and has played in seven fewer games) and Keppinger had three RBI (hits that made the game 2-1, and 4-1). Bud Norris got a career-high nine strikeouts in the winning effort.

Astros Pitching

Norris54/0 (1R)9:3106-67 (63.2%)15/18
Sampson20/01:016-14 (87.5%)3/2
Lyon11/01:010-7 (70%)1/1
Lindstrom11/01:012-8 (66.7%)1/2

Do you know how close Norris was to this game getting away from him? Carlos Lee does, because he's the guy who dropped a fly ball to left with two outs. After Norris struck out Holliday and Rasmus, Felipe Lopez hit a fly ball to Lee, who dropped it. It would have been the third out. Instead, Yadier Molina walked and David Freese singled, scoring Lopez. Luckily Lohse struck out swinging to end the inning, but jeebus. If you're going to go all Holliday on us, you better be hitting .300, Lee.

Seven of Norris' strikeouts were swinging, and you could see from his 33 non-contact strikes that he was dealing today.

Astros hitting

Decent job with the bat today by the Astros, but they were still 9x34. Bourn, Keppinger, and Feliz combined for a 5x12, 4RBI day. Everyone else was 5x22, including yet another 0-fer from Carlos Lee. Pence is on the plus side of .100 (.121) with a single, but with Matsui's 0x4 day, the Astros' 4-5-6 hitters' OPS are: .187 (Lee), .333 (Pence), .190 (Matsui). And Pence was also picked off. Chris Johnson also got a hit, lowering his average to .286.

The Astros swung and missed at just six of the Cardinals' 130 pitches today. So...yay.

Pitch Count Hero: Chris Johnson (1x4) - 23 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee (0x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs. What's sad about this, is that I just copied and pasted the preceding line from yesterday's recap.

Man of the Match: Hard to choose this one, but it's going to Bud Norris. For seven innings this was a 2-1 game, and Norris battled.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. Can't do anything at the plate, and almost cost the Astros the game with the E7 in the 4th.

Token afternoon Berkman update

Alyson Footer has our afternoon Berkman update:

In his workout at MMP today, Berkman hit off a tee and ran without any problems. There was no swelling reported and if all goes well, Berkman is slated to travel to Round Rock for a rehab assignment on Saturday and Sunday.

Stark on buzzards circling Minute Maid

In Jayson Stark's Rumblings and Grumblings column today, he takes on the Astros and possible trades.

Hey, what about trading Lance or Carlos?
Well, you can just about forget Lee and Berkman, who have full no-trades they've never shown any interest in waiving.

But Roy?
The ace also has a total no-trade clause, but he has told the Astros in the past he would at least think about dropping it if it meant moving to the right team in the right circumstances. So what's the right team?

One old friend of Oswalt believes his three preferred destinations would be Atlanta, St. Louis or Texas. ("Those are the three teams he's talked about if it ever gets to that point," the friend said.)

But despite his preference to stay in the National League and pitch in the South or Midwest, the friend said he could also see Oswalt agreeing to go someplace where he could slot into a deep rotation, as opposed to a team where he'd be viewed as The Savior. Could that bring clubs like the Dodgers or Angels into the mix? Possibly. But it's way too early to play that game.

What would you think about Roy going to Texas, Atlanta, or St. Louis?

Francona keeping tabs on Mills

Nick Cafardo says that Terry Francona has been keeping up with Mills. His word of advice? Put down the gun:

Francona has been keeping in constant contact with old friend Brad Mills, whose Astros have struggled mightily since the start of the season. Francona said he was in contact with Mills up to a half-hour before the Astros' game last night.

"Feels like we're playing double-headers," said Francona, referring to the fact he feels for Mills. Otherwise he said he thinks Mills is "doing OK."

Who We Got - G9: Astros @ Cardinals

This is why I think the Astros will win today: Because the franchise record is 0-9. And the Astros are not good enough to tie, or set, any kind of record.

Who We Got

St. Louis: 6-2, 1st place, 1.5 games up
At home: 2-0
Vs. Houston: 2-0
Runs scored/Against: 44/25

Houston: 0-8, 6th place, 6GB
Road: 0-2
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 14/44

Starting Pitchers

Kyle Lohse: 0-0, 6.00 ERA / 1.50 WHIP
Last game: @MIL. 6IP, 6H/4ER, 3K:3BB

Bud Norris: 0-1, 10.12 ERA / 3.75 WHIP
Last game: vPHI.: 2.2IP, 6H/3ER, 3K:4BB

Why the Astros Will Win

See above.

Because, as we discussed yesterday regarding Brett Myers, Bud Norris has something to prove. Namely, that he shouldn't be shipped down to Round Rock in favor of Josh Banks.

Because Norris has pitched against the Cardinals twice in 2009, and is 2-0 in 13IP with 8H/0ER, 8K:6BB against St. Louis.

Because Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence own Kyle Lohse. Pence is 9x25 (.360/.407/.520) and Lee is 20x59 with five HRs (.339/.400/.695). This could be the day both get their seasons on track.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because Kyle Lohse is 3-1 in his last five games (including three starts in '09) against Houston. All were quality starts, and the one in St. Louis was a complete game shutout.

Because, against the Brewers, Lohse held the 3-4-5 hitters to a 2x8 day. And the Brewers' 3-4-5 hitters are, currently, way better than the Astros' 3-4-5 hitters.

Because Pujols is kind of on a roll. He has an RBI in his last four - and six of eight - games this season. Myers kept Pujols "quiet" last night, but with Albert 1x4 is a bad night.

What was Penny yapping about?

Because all the scoreless innings run together, I can't remember what inning it was last night, but Brad Penny and Michael Bourn started yapping at each other, and it looked like it was all Penny's fault. What was his problem? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has your answer.

“I’m a competitor, and when you’ve got guys fouling the ball off and acting like they should have hit it out of the park, I was just, ‘Be respectful. Take your at-bat. You shouldn’t hit everything out of the park. You don’t hit many home runs.’”

Oooh, snap. Hope you feel good about yourself, Penny.

Lineup for G9: Astros @ Cardinals

Holy Hannah, it's happened. Here's your lineup for G9: Astros @ Cardinals:

1. Bourn - CF
2. Keppinger - SS
3. Feliz - 1B
4. Lee - LF
5. Pence - RF
6. Matsui - 2B
7. Johnson - 3B
8. Quintero - C
9. Norris - P

Day game after a night game, so Manzella, Blum, and Towles sit down.

Manzella pretty much sums up the season so far

Tommy Manzella's quote pretty much sums it up:

"We're paid to go out there and hit and catch the ball. If I just catch the ball, we might still be playing."

This is classic. Not, "If I just catch the ball, we win that game." It's "We might still be playing." Indicating that, twelve hours after the game has ended, the Astros and Cardinals would still be tied, 1-1.

Garner to Baltimore makes perfect sense

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal has a new article up promoting Phil Garner to be the next manager of the Baltimore Orioles, because the Orioles are trying to complete the set:

The Orioles, however, are off to a 1-8 start. They drew a total of 33,108 fans to Camden Yards for their three-game series against the Rays -- and their crowd of 9,129 for the series opener was the smallest in the ballpark’s 19-year history.

The way the team is losing -- and drawing -- the decision on Trembley’s future might not be MacPhail’s alone. Garner, nicknamed “Scrap Iron,” is the kind of feisty leader that owner Peter Angelos might desire -- and MacPhail is familiar with him, too.

MacPhail, as president of the Cubs, interviewed Garner for a managerial opening in October 1999. Garner, though, went to the Tigers, and the Cubs hired Don Baylor. Neither proved successful; Garner later landed with the Astros, leading them to the 2005 World Series before getting fired in August 2007.

On Brendan Ryan's 8th inning play

Last night the turning point of G8: Astros @ Cardinals was when Brendan Ryan managed to field a grounder with Jeff Keppinger running right in front of him with the bases loaded, up by one with two outs, and Matsui "hustling" down the line. How did that play out?

Brendan Ryan:

"I lost sight of it ... but, unless I'm losing it, I swear that ball bounced left. My line to the ball, I hope, is not going to be that bad. Then, with the runner going in front, that blocked me for a split second and that didn't help, even with (Keppinger) moving a little bit. I kind of caught that ball behind me and I wanted to make sure I stuck it. But with Matsui running, I wanted to make sure I got it out of the glove. Thank God. That could have been a nightmare."

Whose fault is this?

So we all know the agony and despair. And it's now officially time to start pointing fingers. So let's break down whose fault this is:

Not at fault

-Brad Mills
These are the same players who hit well, and won almost half their Spring Training games. Mills has to keep running Lee and Pence out there, because they're .280-.300 hitters who will eventually hit. This is in no way his fault (except for maybe continuing to play Blum at 1B). I will ask this, though (and it's building on a comment from yesterday): Why the hell isn't Chris Johnson playing more? Feliz can handle 1B, and if Johnson isn't getting any ABs in Houston, why isn't he down at Round Rock, learning some plate discipline and seeing game action?

-Brad Arnsberg
The pitching has been solid. The Astros have had four quality starts, and nothing to show for it. Myers threw his best game since 2008 last night, and got a loss. Oswalt is 0-2 with two quality starts. The pitching isn't the problem.

-Michael Bourn
Yes, Bourn has only drawn one walk, but he's hitting .379 (OBP = .400). Bourn has been on base 12 times this season, and has crossed home twice.

We're Looking At You

It is inexcusable for three players to be at, or under, the .100 mark. It's almost harder to hit .100 than it is to hit .230.

-Sean Berry
I haven't seen a single quote or article about Sean Berry. Yes, I'm glad he's back. Yes, I'm glad he's doing well. I don't know how much impact a hitting coach can have, but it's obviously a team-wide issue. It's not as though everyone's hitting .300, and Pence just can't figure it out.

-Ed Wade
If Johnson isn't going to get any playing time, how's about bringing up Shelton to play 1B while Blum does what he was supposed to do, and plays every now and then for Pedro Feliz. Shelton is hitting .346/.419/.346 at Round Rock.

"Will the Astros ever win a game?" Your rhetorical question of the day

Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk asks if the Astros will (a) win, (b) when they will win, and (c) will they win before the '88 Orioles won a game in G22.

I think the answer is no, they will not go 0-21. The reason for it, besides sheer statistical improbability, is that they have a series against the Pirates kicking off a week from tomorrow. Even if they somehow drop today's game against the Cards and get swept by Chicago and Florida after that, there's no way the Pirates sweep them at home, right?

Just a quick glance, for our records.

Astros' record: 0-8.

Winning percentage needed to tie the 2003 Tigers (43-119): .279
Winning percentage needed to tie the 1988 Orioles (54-107): .353

Eddie's Farm: April 14

Round Rock

Oklahoma City got five runs in innings 6-8, and Roy Corcoran was charged with his 3rd loss of the season in a 6-3 loss to OKC. Gustavo Chacin threw 4.2IP, 4H/1ER, 4K:1BB, Corcoran gave up the winning runs, and Jared Wells added 4H/3ER of his own in 1IP. Collin DeLome was 1x3 with a homer in the 8th and 2RBI, and Jason Castro had an RBI single (now hitting .263 in Triple-A).

Man of the Match: Jason Castro

Corpus Christi



Hey! Lancaster got their first win of the season after scoring five runs in the second, and then holding on for a 7-6 win over Lake Elsinore on Brandon Barnes' walk-off homer. Ross Seaton threw 5IP, 3H/5R (3ER), 1K:3BB - errors by Albert Cartwright and Barnes led to two unearned runs. Ashton Mowdy threw two perfect innings, Brandt Walker gave up a run on a hit and two walks in 0.1IP, and Brian Wabick got the win with 1.2IP of perfect closing...ness. Barnes, though, was 3x5 with a double and the aforementioned homer. Jordan Comadena was 2x4 with 2RBI, and Brandon Wikoff was 2x3 with 3RBI.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes


Kannapolis needed about 25 minutes to win this game, jumping out to a 6-1 lead at the end of the 3rd, which was how it ended. Juan Minaya really...uh, well. 2.2IP, 4H/6R (4ER), 3K:1BB, and FOUR wild pitches. Colton Pitkin and Wander Alvino threw 5.1IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:1BB in relief. Jonathan Meyer committed yet another throwing error - his 6th of the season - and Miguel Arrendell made his second to lead to two unearned runs. The Legends got on base via the walk (five times) as much as they did with hits (also, five). Jake Goebbert was 2x4 with an RBI, Jiovanni Mier walked twice and scored on Goebbert's hit. J.D. Martinez got a hit, meaning he has hit safely in six of the Legends' seven games.

Man of the Match: Jake Goebbert.

Recap for G8: Astros @ Cardinals

The good news is that the longer we stay with this team, the more ESPN Cred we get. Still, there comes a time when you have to tell your slutty sister that she's an embarrassment to you, the family, and God. And this is that time. Except with the Astros. Not your sister. Not my sister. The Astros drop to 0-8, losing 2-1.

Why They Lost
The Astros were supposed to win games based on pitching and defense. They got one of those last night in a gem from Brett Myers, and then Tommy Manzella nearly single-handedly cost the Astros a win with two ridiculous errors.

Astros Pitching

Myers74/1 (2R)7:2111-68 (61.3%)19/10
Lyon0.21/00:018-11 (61.1%)2/0
Byrdak0.10/00:03-2 (66.7%)1/0

Can't underestimate how dominant Myers was. He threw 7+IP and allowed 1ER for the first time since September 14, 2008, when he threw a complete game against the Brewers. After the Astros gave him the briefest of leads, Myers walked Schumaker, gave up singles to Ludwick and Pujols, got Holliday to ground into a double play. 1-1, 2 outs. Rasmus hits a grounder right at Manzella, who Buckners it and Ludwick scores to give the Cardinals their lead, which would last all night. So, 1st inning: Cardinals were 3x5, w/a BB and an ROE. The next five innings: 0x15, 5K:1BB. In the 7th, Myers gave up a leadoff single to right, Molina grounded into what should have been a double play, if Manzella hadn't thrown the ball to St. Charles. After both runners are moved over, Myers struck out Stavinoha and Schumaker. Yet he still gets the loss, because the offense is awful.

I think what irritates me the most about this game is that Myers/Lyon kept Pujols-Holliday-Rasmus to a 1x12 night.

Astros hitting

Screw this. The Astros got four hits, and Michael Bourn got two of them (and a walk - oh yeah, the Astros drew two walks!). They held a lead for approximately six minutes. They were 0x4 with RISP, and Kaz Matsui was personally 0x3 w/RISP, including an 8th inning AB, where the bases were actually loaded, and Matsui grounded right out to Brendan Ryan (who, in fairness, played very well.'s Matthew H. Leach said: "Against a lot of shortstops, Matsui would have two hits tonight.")

But instead, Matsui was 0x4, and his average is .118. Lee was 0x4 (.097), Pence was 0x4 (.103), and J.R. Towles was 0x2 (.056). Amazing. The Astros have two guys in the starting lineup who are hitting under .100.

Brad Penny got 12 groundball outs (5 flyball). In the Astros' 27 uneventful outs, 15 were by groundball, eight by flyball, and four were by strikeout.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (2x3) - 19 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee (0x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Brett Myers. Did everything he had to do to win this game, and got the loss instead.

Goat of the Game: Tommy Manzella. 0-fer, and two errors that led to the winning run crossing the plate.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wagner, still reppin' 713

The Cuz sent me this quote, from an article on Billy Wagner, on the Atlanta clubhouse after giving up a game-tying homer to Edgar Renteria:

"After those games, I don't really like to show my face. I feel horrible. But these guys in here were like, 'You're OK. No big deal.' I've been on teams where you have a tough game like I did the other day and it's like, 'What's up with this guy?' Here, you have guys coming up and saying, 'Hey, we win as a team and lose as a team.' That's something I haven't heard since I played in Houston."


Lineup: G8 - Astros @ Cardinals

Alyson Footer has your lineup for G8:

1. Bourn - CF
2. Matsui - 2B
3. Feliz - 3B
4. Lee - LF
5. Pence - RF
6. Blum - 1B
7. Manzella - SS
8. Towles - C
9. Myers - P

So Feliz gets bumped up, Pence gets dropped down, and Chris Johnson sits on the bench.

Astros-hater tells you to watch Tommy Manzella

Over at Around the Majors the player to watch tonight is Tommy Manzella. Here's why:

Manzella has always been able to acquit himself well with the glove, having been noted during his prospect years as one of the best defensive infielders in the system (hat tip to R.J. Anderson for helping me avoid that legwork). Unfortunately...he cannot hit. He's basically in the model of Rey Ordonez and shortstops of that ilk - viz all glove, no stick guys. Ordinarily, that would make him something of a persona non grata nowadays; with the advent of hitting stats that do a better job of quantifying hitting performance, a shortstop who fields well and hits an empty .300 is not appreciated as much as he once was. But because the Astros are terrible to the tune of (pending the return of borderline-HoF candidate Lance Berkman, whom I'll address later) a historically impotent offense, Manzella gets the chance to flash the leather and not worry about the fact that he's likely an empty .250 hitter. But more importantly, Manzella is something of the heir to the Astro legacy.

Oh, and here's why that opinion matters:

Now, I don't like anything about the Astros, from their uniforms to the way the front office runs things, so I have zero interest in seeing them do well. In fact, I'd be pleased to see them lose 100 games. But, well, I'm kind of rooting for him to succeed in his own way - and I don't mean that in the condescending, 'oh, look at the widdle guy trying so hard out there; he just wishes he could play well, yes he does' way. But for some reason that I just can't seem to put my finger on, I want Manzella to do well. Maybe it's because it's nice to see a throwback kind of player who reminds us of the days of our youthful fandom when a shortstop may not have been good, but, well, he's the shortstop and he makes nice plays and even if he can't hit a lick he's still a baseball player.

Who We Got - G8: Astros @ Cardinals

What would you be willing to give up for a week in order for the Astros to win this game?

Who We Got

St. Louis: 5-2, 1st place, 0.5 games up
At home: 1-0
Vs. Houston (2009): 9-6
Runs scored/Against: 42/24

Houston: 0-7, 6th place, 4.5GB
Road: 0-1
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 13/42

Starting Pitchers

Brad Penny: 0-0, 1.29 ERA
Last game: @CIN. 7IP, 6H/1ER, 4K:2BB

Brett Myers: 0-0, 6.00 ERA
Last game: vSF.: 6IP, 12H/4ER, 3K:1BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Jeez. Because one of these games, we'll have to win.

Because, hopefully, Brett Myers has something to prove. His last start against the Giants, he allowed 13 baserunners in six innings. As an emotional pitcher, he'll want to get one of these.

Because Brad Penny has a 1-2 record with a 5.58 ERA in his last five games against the Astros. Of course, his last game was in August 2007, but whatever. Or because in two starts at Beck's Stadium, Penny is 0-1 in two starts with a 4.50 ERA/1.58 WHIP.

Because Carlos Lee is 4x8 with a walk against Brad Penny, and Geoff Blum has hit Penny to a .435/.440/.522 line.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because the Cardinals have four batters hitting over .280, including Pujols (.407/.484/.963) and Matt Holliday (.379/.419/.759).

Because the Cardinals hit Myers to a tune of .326/.360/.636 - and that's including the pitchers. Skip Schumaker is 6x13 (4 XBH), Holliday is 6x10 (4 XBH), and Pujols is 9x29 (3 XBH) off Myers, lifetime.

Because, dating back to last year, the Astros have won two of their last ten games at Beck's.

Big Laffz from the Big Lead

The Big Lead asks if the Astros could be worse than the 1988 Orioles, who started the season 0-21:

Short answer: no. It’s conceivable to think of Houston losing the next two in St. Louis and getting swept at Wrigley – Cubs’ offense has been putrid, but still, it’s Wrigley and spring is in air for the Bums – but dropping nine at home, including six to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, would almost be too much to bear for an organization that was in the World Series a half-decade ago.

So that's a relief. But then there are three "issues" for the Astros (and take this for what it is - it's in the same article as saying that Bud Norris, whom TBL identifies as SP3, "Has no business being in a rotation right now."):

1. Brad Mills
2. Payroll: This could get worse before it gets better. They got way too much money tied up in certain dudes.
3. And Houston, as a city. In general: Throwing this one out there, but a couple of years ago, Houston was crushing it sports-wise; they hosted all manner of specialty events (Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, etc.), the Rockets seemed legit, the Astros made back-to-back NLCS appearances, and the Texans were “on the brink.” Jump forward a couple of years: Rockets missed the playoffs, Yao Ming is a complete disaster, Texans have been “on the brink” so long that Kubiak is firmly on a hot seat, and now this.

The good part of any blog is the comments, because that's where the intelligence is revealed. Some choice excerpts:

-Plus, our best minor league prospect shares a name with an American Idol reject. The Astros are in bad bad shape.

-So is there going to be a NHL Playoff’s post?

Where in the world is Brian Pellegrini?

Anyone have any idea where Brian Pellegrini is? After a breakout season in 2009, it's hard to imagine he would be sent to Extended Spring Training, but he is not listed on any rosters. Anybody got any ideas?

Turns out Will knows. He's down in Florida rehabbing a groin injury, and living Da Life. You can follow him on Twitter.

Eddie's Farm: April 13

Round Rock

The Express were shutout for the second time this season last night, losing 6-0 to Oklahoma City, who scored all their runs in the 7th/8th innings. Josh Banks pitched a gem, throwing 6.2IP, 5H/2ER, 2K:2BBB, and Evan Englebrook gave up 1.1IP, 3H/4R (1ER), 2K:1BB. Kevin Cash was charged with an error - his second catcher interference of the year, leading to three unearned runs for Englebrook. The Express only got four hits: two by Bourgeois, one each by Maysonet and Shelton as Rangers' prospect Derek Holland dominated.

Man of the Match: Josh Banks

Corpus Christi

Koby Clemens is fast putting aside doubts about not being able to hit outside of Zero-Gravity Park. With two homers, including the game-winner in the top of the 13th, the Hooks defeated NW Arkansas 4-3 last night. Sergio Perez threw 5.1IP, 8H/3ER, 2K:1BB, and a bullpen of Villar, Meszaros, Burton, and Nevarez pieced together 7.2IP of 2H/0ER, 7K:3BB relief. The Hooks went into the top of the 9th down 3-2, when David Cook tied it up with a two-out solo homer. Clemens' 13th-inning homer - his second of the game (first one in the fourth a two-run shot off Royals' top prospect Aaron Crow). T.J. Steele, German Duran, and Marcos Cabral were all 2x5.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens


The JetHawks were in line to get their first win of the season, leading 5-4 going into the 9th inning, and then Pat Urckfitz gave up two, and the JetHawks left the tying run on 2nd to end the game with a 6-5 loss. Kyle Greenwalt threw 5IP, 7H/3ER, 5K:0BB. Leandro Cespedes, pitching in relief, gave up 2H/1ER in 1.1 (3K:1BB), and Urckfitz gave up 3H/2ER, 0K:1BB and an HR in 1IP. Brandon Wikoff, Mark Ori, and Albert Cartwright had two hits each, with Wikoff getting 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Brandon Wikoff


Lexington only scored in one inning. But it was all they needed for an 8-5 win over Kannapolis. Tanner Bushue had a rougher second start of the season, throwing 4.1IP, 6H/5R (4ER), 5K:4BB, 1WP - that's ten baserunners in 4.1IP. Kirk Clark got the win as he and Arcenio Leon combined for 4.2IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB. Everyone got a hit for the Legends' offense: Rene Garcia led with a 3x4, 1 RBI day, and Kody Hinze had a two-run single. Grant Hogue was 2x5 with a double, his third stolen base of the season, and an outfield assist, and Jonathan Meyer's defensive struggles continued as a throwing error marked his fifth error of the season. Our boy Aaron Bray was 1x5, with 2Ks.

Man of the Match: Grant Hogue

Levine: Yes, Carlos Lee, you are pressing

Zach Levine's new blog post takes on how atrocious the Astros' plate discipline has been, and finds that, yeah, either they're pressing or they have forgotten what a strike zone looks like.

The Diamondbacks are the most disciplined at 20.6 percent, according to the data at The Rangers are 28th at 30.5 percent, the Cubs 29th at 30.8 percent and the Astros will pick first in Double Jeopardy by hacking at 33.4 percent of the balls out of the strike zone.

The buzzword around the Astros on their homestand was pressing. Is the team pressing, and especially is the core of the lineup pressing without Lance Berkman in there. I don't know the technical definition of pressing, but it would appear from how much they're swinging outside the zone that they are pressing, especially in the middle of the order.

Carlos Lee is considerably above average at 39.6 percent, while Hunter Pence swings at a whopping 46 percent of the balls out of the zone. The key for Pence last year was bringing his out-of-zone swing percentage down from 31 in 2008 to 26 last year, which did wonders for his walk:strikeout ratio.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Contract Year Performance? Not so, says Forbes (and Bloomberg)

Hey. Is there such a thing as a contract year? Not really, says Bloomberg:

When a player on the cusp of free agency puts up a big year, everyone seems to notice. So much so that that it's become common wisdom to assume outsized production from a player entering his walk year. If the player slumped the year before, the refrain is, "He'll probably bounce back, he's playing for a contract."

But it's pretty much a myth, no more likely to happen than not. Data from Bloomberg's new MLB analytical tool, which is being used by 28 of 30 clubs this year on a free trial basis, shows that on balance, players' production in the walk years of their contracts vary little from the few years that preceded it...

...Over the past nine years, 177 players performing in the last year of a contract hit for a collective .282 batting average, with an .824 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, an increasingly used measurement of the moneyball era). They also averaged 19 home runs, 51 extra base hits and 73 runs batted in per 500 at-bats.

That's not much different from their collective numbers from the previous year: .283 batting average, .821 OPS, 19 homers, 51 extra base hits and 74 RBI. Two years before? A .279 batting average and .809 OPS, with 18 home runs, 50 extra base hits and 73 RBI per 500 at-bats.

Berkman is used as an example:
Astros slugger Lance Berkman, playing for what would become a six-year, $85 million deal in 2004, put up a 30 home run, 106 RBI, .316 season, complete with a monster 1.016 OPS. That was a bump from his 2003 season but not much different from his norms over the previous three years.

What were those numbers? Well, actually...they're right. From 2001-2003 Berkman put up an average of .304/.416/.572 (.988 OPS), 34 HR-116 RBI. Hm.

Berkman is up for a new contract again this year, along with other notables like the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez and the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth. Don't expect any of them to necessarily turn into Superman in 2010.

Dudes, Forbes is totally right. Berkman isn't hitting for crap this year.

Token Berkman update

Alyson Footer has your daily Berkman update:

Had a good day at rehab Tues. Was able to do 50-yard sprint work at about 75%.

Ed Wade still ain't scurred

Sports Illustrated has taken notice of the Astros' slow start, eliminating valuable AL-East space to check in with Ed Wade.

"I wouldn't call [our start] a concern, but the fact is we just haven't swung the bats well. But our feeling is that the guys who are struggling have pretty good track records, and this is a slump that teams normally hit at some point in the season. It's always magnified at the beginning of the season, and it's magnified even more because this is becoming thematic with the franchise -- 'The Astros always get off to slow starts.'"

Barry Larkin, whose Reds started 0-6 and still made the playoffs in 1995:
"I remember we had a 'Let's not panic, we're not where we need to be yet' attitude. Without Berkman on that team for the Astros, that's going to be a tough hole. On our team in '95 we had some really good players. We didn't have a lot of new, non-established guys."

And about the leadership in the clubhouse (as opposed to his '95 Reds or the Astros of the early 2000s):
"I don't know if there is an identifiable leader of that team."

Now this is a troubling aspect, and it's one we've brought up before. As much as Berkman says he wants to be a leader, and has been around as long as anyone else, "baseball people" can't look at the Astros and see any definable leadership. Now they (or I) are in the clubhouse seeing the players interact, and that is worth noting, but there was no doubt who was in charge when Bagwell and Biggio were here, and while we're not exactly asking for Lance to fill their shoes, Miguel Tejada shouldn't have been The Leader in the clubhouse last year.

More Power Ranking

A significant Power Rankings was released today. Let's examine, and feel shame.

CBS Sports:

Ranking: 30th:
Some would say eight days into the season is too early to draw conclusions. They would point to the inevitable early jitters, note how minor blemishes tend to be magnified under the first-week microscope. They would encourage us to wait until we have a larger body of data upon which to base our overarching assumptions.

To them I would respond: My God, have you seen the Astros play this season?

Yes, they were without Lance Berkman and yes, the competition was rather manly (Phillies/Giants). That said, the 'Stros don't hit or, on days when Roy Oswalt or Wandy Rodriguez are consigned to the bench, pitch. With the exception of Michael Bourn, they can't move; with the exception of Pedro Feliz, they can't field.

There's no help on the way in Triple-A and there are no trades to be made unless they put Oswalt or Berkman on the block. The only way out of this is for the bad players to start playing like good players. This would be an improbable turn of events.

While the Astros can't be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for another few months, I'm time-stamping the team's death certificate today. The real question is whether games against the Astros should count in the standings, but I'll leave that up to the rules committee (motto: "Gingerly dodging the Players Association since 1968").

I'm not the slightest bit worried that I'll be proven wrong on this prediction (as opposed to my "Jason Heyward won't reinvent baseball" one). I only hope somebody will apologize to the good people of Houston for what they'll be forced to endure in the months ahead. Godspeed, sweet Texans.

Setting the record on the earliest reported death of a season (previously held by the Houston Chronicle - May 15, 2005) is CBS Sports.

Rhetorical Question of the Day

The Sporting News' blog has a new post rhetorically titled "How Bad Can The Astros Be?" More than answering that question - which focuses on how the Astros aren't scoring any runs - they take the fans to task:

The headline should have one of those cartoonish question marks followed by an exclamation point then another question mark and maybe a few other characters in there just to reinforce how terrible it must be to root for the Astros right now.

Watching their game on Sunday – just their sixth of the year, all at home – I was amazed that the stadium was 2/3 empty. This is Houston. They've been to a World Series in the last five years, so surely things couldn't be this bad where they're having "bring your dog to the game" promotions in the first week of the season and the empty seats still, on TV, look to outnumber the filled? It's baseball season, Houston…get out there and support your team, no matter how bad they seem after one week.

Drayton was too rich, therefore, the Astros suck

Richard Justice's new blog post has an interesting theory on why the Astros are 0-7, and have struggled over the last five years:

it might have been too late because the Astros were already boxed in by no-trade clauses and emotions. For one thing, McLane had this dream of Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt playing their entire careers with the Astros and going into the Hall of Fame as Astros.

McLane also wanted the Astros to be competitive every single season. He believed in adding pieces instead of subtracting them because he never wanted to stand before the microphones and cameras and say, ''We're rebuilding.''

If you're irritated by this attitude, think how you would have felt if he'd announced he was stripping the club down and starting over. You would have accused him of not wanting to win and other high crimes.

So Drayton did what you wanted him to do. He kept spending, kept pushing forward, kept hoping for a magic formula.

Miguel Tejada. Pudge Rodriguez. Mike Hampton. Russ Ortiz. The Astros ran old guy after old guy through their clubhouse...

... If Drayton had less money to spend, he surely would have made better decisions if you define better as tougher. The Twins, Rays and Rockies focus their resources on the farm system because they understand they can't afford to play the free-agent game.

If Drayton had less money, he might not have given so many no-trade clauses, might not have hung onto his guys so long, might have been more cold-blooded.

There's more. It's one of the longest Justice columns, and it's a good point. Instead of blowing it up, he tried to patch, and the team has suffered ever since. Bad drafts and bad free agent decisions over the past three years have hamstrung the team today. Everyone is to blame (except Bobby Heck) for what is happening to the Astros, and they're just going to have to suck it up and let it play out.

Crime Scene: Houston Astros

Let's take a look at the murder of the first week of the 2010 season:

Runs: 13 (16th in the NL. That's last, just in case you forgot)
Hits: 53 (13th)
Homers: 2 (16th)
Stolen Bases: 1 (16th)
Walks: 6 (16th)
Strikouts: 50 (7th)
Average: .223 (14th)
OBP: .245 (16th)
SLG: .294 (16th)
OPS+: 41

The following Astros have negative OPS+:

J.R. Towles (.188): -52
Kaz Matsui (.308): -18
Carlos Lee (.254): -32
Hunter Pence (.360): -8
Humberto Quintero (.311): -15

The seven starting pitchers the Astros have faced, since 2008, posted the following statistics in 2008-2009:

183-117, 3.79 ERA.

Eddie's Farm: April 12

Round Rock

Wild one in Oklahoma City last night as the Express ultimately won in 10 innings, 6-5. Wesley Wright started the game with 4IP, 6H/1ER (2R), 2K:2BB, and the Express took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th, when lefty Mitch Moreland hit a 2-run homer off Casey Daigle to tie it up at five. In the 10th, Jason Castro drew a two-out walk and was singled in by Yordany Ramirez for the winning run - and giving Daigle the blown save and the win. Yordany was 3x5 with a SB, homer, and 4RBI, and Bourgeois was 2x5 with two SBs, while Bogusevic, Castro, and Kata had two hits each, as well. Oklahoma City was 5x19 w/RISP, and Castro and Wright each committed errors.

Man of the Match: Yordany Ramirez

Corpus Christi

Errors by Wladimir Sutil and German Duran led to four unearned runs off Jeremy Johnson, which provided the losing margin in an 8-5 loss to NW Arkansas. Johnson threw 2.2IP, 7H/7R (3ER), 1K:1BB, while Erick Abreu (2.1IP) and C-Lo (2IP) both gave up 2ER in their respective outings. Jack Shuck was 3x5, and Steele, Duran, and Sutil had two hits each. Koby Clemens and Jhon Florentino added two RBI each, while Jon Gaston was 0x4 w/3Ks.

Man of the Match: Jack Shuck


The JetHawks were 0x8 w/RISP (call 'em up!) in a 4-2 loss to Lake Elsinore. Shane Wolf threw 5IP, 4H/2ER, and David Berner allowed 4H/2ER in 1.2IP in relief. Brian Wabick had a perfect 1.1IP, and Pat Urckfitz made things interesting by allowing three baserunners in 1IP. Baserunning mistakes contributed to the "Not Enough Runs After Nine Innings" thing: Mark Ori was caught stealing third, and was picked off second, while Jay Austin was picked off first. Albert Cartwright was 3x3 with a walk, and Jay Austin and David Flores had two hits each. Brandon Wikoff remains hitless on the season, but drew a walk and got an RBI.

Man of the Match: Albert Cartwright


Dadgum. Lexington was all over Kannapolis (who Intimidated nobody) in a 12-1 win. Brandt Walker threw 5IP, 3H/1ER, 4K:2BB for the win, and Jose Trinidad (3IP, 1H/0ER, 3K) and Dan Sarisky (1IP, 2H/0ER) held it down in relief. The Legends knocked out 15 hits: three from J.D. Martinez (now hitting .476), and Kody Hinze, two from Jiovanni Mier, Jake Goebbert (4RBI), and Rene Garcia as the Legends were 10x17 w/RISP. It didn't make an impact on the runs allowed, but there were two throwing errors, courtesy of Jonathan Meyer and Miguel Arrendell. It was Meyer's fourth error of the season.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

Levine's 10 Minor League storylines

Good article from Levine today regarding the minor-league storylines in 2010. I'll list the 10 lines, you click the link and read the descriptions:

10. The sophomores (2009 draft class)
9. The fate of Round Rock
8. Chia-Jen Lo
7. Getting out of Lancaster with an ERA under 5.00
6. Who's the next 1B?
5. Dominican Academy
4. Gaston/Steele/Shuck
3. How will Jordan Lyles fare at Corpus?
2. Jason Castro
1. June draft

Bourn forgot there was a day game

Michael Bourn apparently thought yesterday's game was actually at night. Bernardo Fallas:

He had been rushing earlier in the day, too, after it temporarily escaped him that the Astros were playing a day game.

After getting a call, he made it to the clubhouse 10 minutes before the team was to stretch, with plenty of time to suit up.

"But I wasn't late."

Anything can be used to sum up this season.

Why was Wandy pulled?

In Alyson Footer's blog post yesterday, Brad Mills said the reason for pulling Wandy after 65 pitches was because the game didn't need to get more out of hand.

"He's fine. At that point, being down like we were, we had to go with matchups."

Side note: Wandy said he felt a little shoulder soreness during this game but does not feel it will affect him moving forward.

Bagwell, on Norris

Jeff Bagwell was asked what he thought about Bud Norris, and he said...

"Bud has great stuff. He's got a personality that maybe his teammates don't like (laughs), but I love. Bud is off the wall, and he's not arrogant, but he believes in his ability. And he has tons of ability. He has a chance to be in our organization and pitch and be upward of one-two in our rotation for years to come. I'm excited about Bud. I truly love him. I think he's going to do great, I really do. I remember back in 2001, we had Roy (Oswalt), Wade (Miller), Carlos Hernandez and (Tim) Redding. I remember sitting there talking to Bidge and saying, 'We have a chance to be good for a while.' These are the young kids that have to come up. In today's game, it's very hard to go out and pay for pitching, because pitching costs so much money. If we develop our own guys, we'll have time to keep them in our own nest."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Recap for G7: Astros v. Cardinals

Yesterday I posted a question on Twitter, asking to complete the sentence, "The Astros couldn't __________." My favorites, aside from my own, "The Astros couldn't slug their way out of an opium den" are as follows:

Via PergnutliOliver: "The Astros couldn't generate numbers with a bucketful of dice.
Via Deputy Jason: "The Astros couldn't be less interesting if they tried."
Via Crashburn Alley: "The Astros couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat."

Yes. The Astros failed to score a run again, and lost to the Cardinals, 5-0.

Why They Lost
Yesterday we said the Astros lost because couldn't get the big hit. Maybe it's because they can't hit. The Astros were 7x31 today, and even got a walk from Humberto Quintero! This includes an 0x4 w/RISP (Pence, Lee, Manzella, and Wandy). Meanwhile, Wandy didn't record a strikeout, and missed what's considered a Disaster Start (Same or more ER as IPs) by an out - 4.1IP, 7H/4ER, 0K:2BB. It was the first time since October 1, 2006 (90 starts) that Wandy didn't record at least one punchout. Or it's because Wandy served up a fat one to Pujols, who cranked it for a three-run homer. Pujols now has 14 RBI, and the Astros have 13 runs.

Astros Pitching

Wandy4.17/40:265-40 (61.5%)8/0
Lopez1.22/11:127-15 (55.6%)3/2
Byrdak0.10/00:01-1 (100%)0/0
Sampson1.22/01:126-15 (57.7%)3/2

So...yeah. The Cardinals swung and missed at four pitches all day. None by Wandy, and walked more Cardinals than strikeouts.

Astros hitting

Hunter Pence got himself a hit. So that's nice. He and Carlos Lee are now a combined 6x52 with two extra-base hits, and one walk. Bourn led off with an infield single, stole second, and got over to third when Manzella grounded out. So what happens? Pence and Lee leave him right there! They had runners on in five of the first six innings, and got nothing. Then, 11 of the next 12 ABs were outs to conclude the game.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (2x4) and Hunter Pence (1x4) - 18 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Pedro Feliz (1x3) - 7 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Michael Bourn. 2x4 and a stolen base (and a blown call that got him picked off first). Dude's hitting .346 on the season. He still can't draw a walk to save his life, but he's doing more than anyone else.

Goat of the Game: I'm not giving it to Wandy, even though he would deserve it. Nope, this one's going to Carlos Lee. You have to start hitting like a cleanup hitter. But right now, I would settle for him hitting like a #8 hitter.

Thank God tomorrow is an off-day.

Power Ranking Update

Surprise, surprise! The Astros are ranked last in the following Power Rankings:

Hardball Talk:
It's going to take a few games to figure out if the Astros are this bad or if Philly and the Giants are that good. Oh, and they start three against the Cardinals today, so this season could get out of hand in a hurry.

Only the Lance Berkman-less Astros have managed to finish up the first week of the season without a win, and it's been an ugly week in Houston. They've been outscored 37-16 so far by the Phillies and Giants, and their schedule doesn't let up. Their next nine games are against the Cardinals, Cubs, and Marlins before they get a bit of a reprieve by hosting the Pirates.

The Astros are the majors' lone winless team and also have the worst run differential (minus-24).

Some days Berkman's fine. Some days he's not...'s Nate Lansch checks in with an update on Lance Berkman:

"There is no timetable set forth at all. When he does finally come back, we want him to be 100 percent to where he's able to play and he's ready to play every day -- instead of maybe play for a week and then he's so sore he's got to sit out four or five days or another week, or go on the DL another 15. We don't want that to happen. When he comes back, we want him to be ready. The thing is, some days he comes in and he feels real good, and then they try to increase the activity -- and all of a sudden, it's not there. So I think what we're looking for is maybe to get a little stability in that process and in his program to where he feels a little bit more comfortable to get through it."


You also may notice a different lineup for today's game with the Cardinals, in which Manzella is batting 2nd and Matsui is batting 7th. Mills also originally had Feliz hitting 3rd, and dropped Pence to sixth. But he then, uh, switched them back.

"At this point, it's so early in the season and it's my first year -- I'm just doing whatever they tell me to do and try to execute it as best as I can. The two-hole is a very comfortable position for me. That's pretty much the spot I've hit for the last seven years. It's not an unfamiliar spot for me. It's probably my most comfortable -- no, it's definitely my most comfortable spot in the lineup. When you get to this level, there are so many good levels that you have to adjust to whatever spot you're going to be in every day."

"We're gonna bat Tommy second and move Kaz down, just to see if we can get some things moving and take advantage of having Kaz, a left-handed hitter, down lower in the order."

Justice still optimistic...for 2011

Richard Justice is still optimistic about the Astros. Just that it's the 2012 Astros he's optimistic about:

And there's your optimism, or at least some of it. In Norris, Paulino, Manzella and Johnson — and in Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles, etc., in the minors — the Astros have kids who have a chance to get better. That's the difference between this team and the over-the-hill gang they've thrown onto the diamond the last few years.

Mainly, though, my optimism is based on the fact the Astros appear to be doing a lot of things right as an organization and appear to have the right people in place. That hasn't been the case since Gerry Hunsicker walked out the door and Phil Garner was canned.

They've force-fed the 2008 draft class through the minor leagues and could have a half-dozen of those players, especially outfielder T.J. Steele and righthander Lyles, on the threshold of the major leagues this time next year.

In an odd way, the nation's economic problems have forced Drayton McLane to do the right thing. With revenues in free fall, he hasn't had the stomach to write another big check.

Minor-league transactions

A couple of things to note for this morning:

April 8
Lancaster placed catcher Jose Lopez on 7-Day DL

April 11
Lexington placed pitcher David Duncan on 7-Day DL
Called up Wander Alvino from Tri-City ValleyCats

Eddie's Farm: April 11

Round Rock

Good Lord. Five errors - Loux, Kata, Locke, Meyer all had throwing errors; Kevin Cash was charged with catcher interference - led to three unearned runs in a 10-5 loss to New Orleans. Shane Loux gave up 11H/4ER, 2K:1BB in 5IP, but Roy Corcoran was charged with the loss, as he gave up the go-ahead run. Gary Majewski also allowed 2ER (3R) in 1IP. Amazingly, of New Orleans' 16 hits, only one was an extra-base hit - a double by Jason Lane (3x5, 2RBI). Edwin Maysonet was 2x4, while Bourgeois and Shelton drew two walks.

Corpus Christi

Jordan Lyles was charged with a loss after throwing 4.2IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:1BB, and 59 of his 81 pitches for strikes in a 7-4 loss to NW Arkansas. Tyler Lumsden helped the game get out of reach with 4H/4ER in 1IP, and Matt Nevarez walked three and gave up a hit in 0.1IP. Erick Abreu was effective, allowing just one hit in 2IP. Jack Shuck was 2x4 on the day - raising his avg to .313 on the season. Lou Santangelo hit a solo homer, and Kopy had the other extra-base hit, a double.


Game was suspended after one inning.


Brutal game in Charleston for the bullpen. The Legends had a 6-1 lead going into the 8th, and ended up losing 7-6 in 12 innings. Jose Cisnero started it off with 4.2IP, 2H/1ER, 7K:2BB. Wander Alvino gave up 3ER in 3IP. Mike Schurz gave up 2ER in 0.2IP (with help from Arcenio Leon), and Colton Pitkin got the loss, with 3H/1BB in 1.1IP. Grant Hogue and Jake Goebbert had the only two-hit games and combined for 3RBI, with Kemp and Meyer accounting for the other RBI. Our boy Aaron Bray was 1x5. The Legends' offense didn't draw a walk in 12 innings, and were held hitless over the final five innings.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oho! Take that, Chicago!

So Lance Berkman is now targeting an April 20 return date, and will stay in Houston to continue his rehab. Why? Because Chicago sucks. Hey, I didn't say it:

"The workout facilities, particularly in Chicago, are atrocious, so you can't get much done there in terms of rehab or strengthening or anything like that, so I think that played as big a factor as anything."


In other news, the Astros don't feel too bad about the start that has us all dying a slow death inside.

"As a whole, their attitude and the way they've been going about everything is very good, both in the clubhouse and the field and the dugout. Frustration is going to be there for quite a few guys, but the way they're handling that is pretty good."

"I'm not pressing at all. I'm seeing the ball good. I think that something's going on mechanically. You've got to keep going. We still have 156 more games and 580 more at-bats, so there's a lot of games left to play and a lot of at-bats to take."

"I'm putting up good swings. I'm fouling pitches off and taking aggressive hacks. My hitting is going to come... They're robbing me when I do hit it hard, and I've just got to continue to stick with my approach and keep working. We're going to turn this around."


Hey, so Keppinger's start at SS today wasn't just about keeping his bat in the lineup. Right, Mills?
"Manzella's quad was cramping [Saturday] night, and with a day game after a night game, we just kind of felt this would be a good day more than anything else."

Recap for G6: Astros v. Phillies

Ugh. Roy shut the Phillies' potent offense down, and still gets the loss. Mainly because the offense can't remember how to do anything. Astros drop their sixth in a row, 2-1.

Why They Lost
Because they can't get the big hit. You could say that the Astros have only had one big hit - the Cory Sullivan flyball to center that Aaron Rowand dropped. Big Hit Tracker stands at one, after the Astros have the bases loaded with nobody out in the 6th, and only push one across. Or when they had runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out in the 7th, and couldn't score.

Astros Pitching

Oswalt65/28:2114-75 (65.8%)28/9
Fulchino11/01:014-10 (71.4%)2/4
Byrdak10/01:012-8 (75%)3/2
Lyon10/00:08-5 (62.5%)2/0

You couldn't have asked for anything else from the pitching staff. Holding the Phillies to six hits (three for extra-bases), and aside from Roy giving up a 2nd-pitch homer to Jimmy Rollins to lead off the game, nothing was really hit hard. Lyon followed up his diastrous outing last night with a quality inning this time around.

Astros pitchers got ten Ks, three from Ryan Howard (who was 0x4), and 66.2% of the total pitches were for strikes.

Astros hitting

We could leave this blank, and it would still be accurate. Instead, let's get all pissed off. Carlos Lee was 0x4 with two strikeouts (that made him look baaad). Bourn (2x4), Keppinger (1x4), and Feliz (2x4) accounted for five of the Astros' seven hits. And once again, there were no extra-base hits.

Let's take a look at the missed opportunities, because there are plenty beyond the 0x5 w/RISP:

2nd inning:
Pedro Feliz singles with one out. Matsui comes up, and when Feliz takes off, Matsui - on a 3-2 count - watches strike three go by, allowing Carlos Ruiz to nail Feliz at second base. Double play, inning over.

6th inning:
Johnson, Bourn, and Keppinger are all on base, down 2-0. #3 hitter (?) Cory Sullivan comes up and GIDPs. Johnson scores, and Bourn goes to 3rd. Carlos Lee takes a 2-2 pitch really high to shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Three on base. Three outs. One run.

7th inning:
Blum and Feliz are on 1st and 2nd, and Kaz Matsui bunts them over. One out. Towles takes a first-pitch grounder right back to Halladay, and Michaels strikes out on three pitches. Inning over.

One opportunity that won't make it into the box score was in the bottom of the 9th. Down 2-1, Carlos Lee hooked the first-pitch just foul down the left field line. He flied out to center on the next pitch. A fraction of a second later, and we might have had the opportunity to see the Astros lose in extra innings.

Look, you can only say, "You have to tip your cap to the other pitcher" so many times before you have to kick yourself in the cramhole and start hitting the ball. The Astros head to St. Louis today for an afternoon game tomorrow, facing Adam Wainwright. At some point someone is going to have to own up to the fact that, right now, this team is the worst in baseball. And it all rests on the shoulders of the completely inept offense.

Some sobering stats after the first homestand of the season:
-Five Astros in the starting lineup are hitting .200 or worse: (Sullivan - .111; Lee - .130; Blum - .176; Matsui - .200; Towles - .067). I know Sullivan is a bench player, and with Pence struggling, the last thing Mills needed was for him to screw himself in the ground swinging at Halladay's offerings. Lee will might come around at any point. But leaving Blum in the lineup is just reckless. Even with his one hit today, he's hitting under .200.

-The Astros have had a lead in three innings this season. To do some reverse engineering, that means the Astros have been tied, or behind in 51 of 54 possible innings.

-The Astros have scored in six out of 54 innings

-The Astros have had eleven extra-base hits this season. Keppinger has had three of them.

-The Astros have drawn five walks in six games. Five.

Pitch Count Hero: Keppinger (1x4) and Lee (0x4) - 17 pitches in four PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Cory Sullivan (0x4) - 11 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Roy Oswalt. Two quality starts, including one against the reigning NL champions, and he's 0-2. We may need to start commemorating Roy's starts, because he may be asking for that trade any day now.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. Thanks for carrying this team in Berkman's absence. After another 0-fer today, he's hitting .130/.167/.130 with 7Ks in 24 PAs.

Nick Cafardo, on Oswalt

Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has a new column up, and on his list is Roy Oswalt and the Astros:

It hasn’t been a pretty start for Brad Mills’s Astros, and it likely won’t be a great year. But that will be no reflection on Mills, because they seem to be heading toward better days. Sometimes it’s the old “got to take a step back to move forward’’ theory that applies, and in this case, the Astros may be on that path...

...If they have to — and it looks like they may have to — they will deal Roy Oswalt to a contender at the trading deadline. Though Oswalt has a no-trade clause, he wants to get to a contender.

With a lack of top-echelon starting pitching available — other than Cliff Lee and maybe Brandon Webb if he recovers from shoulder surgery — Oswalt could bring a number of top young players in return.

Can we just point out why Cafardo is one of the best in baseball - this is a prime example. He's seeing the bigger picture in Houston, from Boston, something a lot of journalists can't seem to do.

Lyles: Movin' on up

SC Now has a nice little profile on Jordan Lyles, and there is no timetable for his rapid advancement through the minors (thankfully):

Ricky Bennett:
“We knew when we drafted him that he has a chance to be special and Jordan has done an outstanding job since we drafted him in 2008. In terms of expectations, there is no timetable as to when he will be ready. His performance will tell us when he’s ready. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and he has put himself in a position to be successful coming into 2010. Jordan is a very good athlete and we are excited about where he is in his development.”

“Last year was a pretty big step for me. I worked hard on working on my curve ball, and I felt I accomplished that. My record wasn’t all that great, but I felt like I had a good year.”

Wade: Just look at the bubblegum cards

Kirk Bohls' is leaning towards getting more excited about Koby Clemens and Jordan Lyles than he is about the 2010 Astros. Are they just bad, asks Bohls?

"I don't subscribe to that theory at all. Look at the back of bubblegum cards. Carlos Lee has substantial stats, Hunter Pence looked good last year. ..."

The ellipses are included. Which isn't a good sign.

The Astros' best player so far, second baseman Jeff Keppinger, is a lifelong utility infielder, having played for five organizations and been traded four times. The team's ace, Oswalt, is at best probably more like a No. 2 or 3 pitcher in a good rotation, at worst a once-great pitcher in the twilight of his career, with durability issues. Without the injured Berkman the team had been completely impotent, with zero home runs and only eight extra-base hits in 137 at-bats, although Houston hit two homers Saturday off Moyer.


Eddie's Farm: April 10

Round Rock

Andy Van Hekken threw 5IP, 5H/0ER, 3K:2BB, and the bullpen held it down for a 6-0 win over New Orleans, Round Rock's first of the season. Englebrook, Wells, and Bayliss threw 4IP of 0H/1BB ball in relief. Bourgeois and Bogusevic had three hits each (and two SBs for Bourgeois), and Shelton and Meyer had two hits each, as the Express were 5x11 w/RISP.

Corpus Christi

See-saw game in Tulsa last night, as the Hooks got two runs in the top of the 8th for a 3-1 lead, then gave back a run in each of the 8th and 9th. In the top of the 10th, German Duran doubled and was moved over to 3rd, scoring on Al Albuquerque's (actual name) wild pitch for a 4-3 win. Fernando Abad threw 5IP, 3H/1ER, 3K:1BB, Henry Villar threw 3IP allowing 1ER, and T.J. Burton got both the blown save and the win in 2IP of 1ER relief. Lou Santangelo was 2x4, including an 8th inning homer, and Jack Shuck provided the other RBI, hitting one of the Hooks' five doubles.


Rough 4th inning for Dallas Keuchel, as Bakersfield scored five on their way to a 8-5 win over the JetHawks. Keuchel left the 4th with three in and two on, and Ashton Mowdy gave up a double to score the inherited runners (charged to Keuchel). Keuchel's line: 3.2IP, 8H/6ER, 3K:2BB, four hits for extra-bases, all for doubles. Edwin Walker closed out the game with 1H/2R (1ER), and 3Ks in 2.1IP. Freddy Parejo was 3x5 with a double, and Federico Hernandez had the other multi-hit game. Jay Austin also had a 2-run double.


Lexington scored four runs in the final two innings to provide the final margin in an 8-4 win over Charleston. Robby Donovan threw 5IP, 6H/2R (0ER), 3K:3BB. Jose Trinidad gave up 2ER in his 1IP, Kirk Clark got the win with 2IP of 1H/0ER, 4K:2BB relief, and Colton Pitkin nailed it down with 2K in the 9th inning. Jose Altuve was 3x5 with 3RBI, and Brian Kemp (3x5), Jonathan Meyer (2x4), and Grant Hogue (2x5) had multi-hit games. Jake Goebbert hit a 2-run homer in the 9th, and our boy Aaron Bray was 1x3 with 2BB - part of a larger trend in which the Legends drew six walks (compared to five Ks). Kemp and Hogue stole their first bases of the season.

Surprise! Berkman won't play this week

Lance Berkman won't be accompanying the Astros on their two road trips this week to St. Louis and Chicago.

This means the earliest he'll return to the lineup is April 20.

Reaction to G5: Astros v. Phillies

Brandon Lyon:

“It’s frustrating, obviously, the way things went. We got the lead. You want to give it to the bullpen with the confidence we’re going to do the job, but it just didn’t happen.”


“It was a tough day for me; I threw too many pitches in the game. You have to remember these are good hitters out there. The thing for me is I put the guys behind the count all the time, but my problem was with finishing off the hitter. My command was OK. These guys out there are good hitters, so you have to hit the spots really well. I made good pitches, but they weren’t chasing, and I respect that.”


“It was a big step forward (the third inning). You saw how they battled and came back and tied the game. That was huge. I think we’re pretty close, especially today the way they battled and came back. We’re stringing some things together, and that’s what you want to do and continue to do.”