Saturday, April 24, 2010

Buster Olney knows why Roy won

Buster Olney's blog post today has some stats on why Roy has been effective - other than, "He was pitching against the Pirates."

A) Hitters were 1-for-11 against his off-speed pitches (3-for-31 over past three starts)

B) Despite throwing only 56 percent first-pitch strikes (below MLB average of 58), only three of 27 hitters faced saw a 2-0 count and only two saw a 3-ball count.

C) He averaged 3.37 pitches per plate appearance (best in his last seven starts); threw four pitches or less to 22 of 27 hitters (81 percent; MLB avg: 65)

Corpus Christi leaders

As we did with the Round Rock leaders, which obviously by now needs to be updated, let's take a look at the statistical leaders for Corpus Christi. Again, hitters are organized by OPS, pitchers by WHIP - minimum eight games played (though it should be noted that in 20ABs, Lou Santangelo has four homers in eight hits).

Corpus - hitters







NameABsAvg/SLG/OBPK:BBXBH-RBISB/Err
Cook24.292/.370/.5834:24-70/0
Clemens49.265/.288/.61216:27-120/1
Duran40.325/.372/.4005:33-30/1
Shuck48.313/.365/.3757:45-21/0
Sutil46.304/.306/.3043:10-52/2


Corpus Christi - pitchers (minimum 5IP)







NameIPERA/WHIPK:BBHR All
Villar9.10.96/0.755:30
Burton61.50/0.832:11
Lyles162.30/0.8916:21
Arguello16.11.10/1.1014:40
Abad100.90/1.105:21

Justice: All Hail Ed Wade

Richard Justice has some words for Ed Wade that just might bring a tear to your eye:

Did you see that catch by Michael Bourn in the ninth inning? Have you checked out his batting average? He has turned out to be everything Ed Wade hoped he'd be, and a little more...Wade got it right on Jeff Keppinger, too. And Matt Lindstrom. And Brett Myers. The Brandon Lyon signing might turn out all right, too. He was right about Randy Wolf and Latroy Hawkins as well...Some of his under-the-radar moves have worked out well, too. Tim Byrdak is one, Jeff Fulchino another...

...These Astros aren't yet Wade's Astros. He acquired just 12 of the 25 players on tonight's roster and inherited the front of the rotation and Carlos Lee. Slowly, though, they're reflecting his beliefs in pitching and defense.


This is true. The huge contracts with the no-trade clauses were Tim Purpura's decisions, and the Astros continue to pay that price (and in Lee's case, will continue to do so until the end of 2012). Of the decisions that have impacted Wade's Astros, Justice points out Bobby Heck, Brad Mills, Brad Arnsberg - the new Killer B's. It's happening, we just have to wait. Maybe not that long...

Matsui not hurt too bad

Turns out that, when Kaz knocked a foul ball off his own leg in the 7th in G15, he didn't hurt himself too bad.

Mills:
“He's feeling very good. Both the doctors and trainers say he's fine. There are no limitations on him.”

Eddie's Farm: April 23

Round Rock

Josh Banks had his first bad game of the season and the Express only got four hits in a 6-3 loss to Omaha. Banks threw 5.1IP, 8H/6ER, 2K:3BB, while a bullpen of Jonah Bayliss, Sam Gervacio, and Evan Englebrook threw 3.2IP of relief, allowing 1H/0ER, 3K:1BB. Jason Bourgeois and Chris Shelton each hit solo homers.

Man of the Match: Evan Englebrook - 2IP of perfect relief.

Corpus Christi

Corpus never led in this game, losing to Frisco 5-1 despite two Frisco errors. Fernando Abad threw 6IP, 8H/4R (3ER), 7K:1BB, and Tyler Lumsden finished it out with 2IP, 3H/1ER, 2K:0BB. The Hooks were 3x20 w/RISP - and left nine in scoring position with two outs. David Cook was 2x5, while Jhon Florentino and Brian Esposito also had two-hit games. Shuck had the only RBI with a 1x3, 2BB day.

Man of the Match: Jack Shuck

Lancaster

The JetHawks scored in each of the first five innings on their way to a 7-3 win over Rancho Cucamonga, for their fourth win in their last five games. Shane Wolf threw 5.2IP, 10H/3ER, 6K:0BB; Brian Wabick went 2.1IP, 2H/0ER, and Edwin Walker threw 1IP, 1H/0ER. Every JetHawk got a hit, and Albert Cartwright, Mark Ori, David Flores, and Josh Flores had multi-hit games. Brandon Barnes hit a two-run homer.

Man of the Match: David Flores - 2x5, RBI, SB, and an outfield assist.

Lexington

Tanner Bushue gave up a first-inning run to Asheville, but the Legends then took over for a 5-1 win. Bushue threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:1BB, and Zach Grimmett threw the final 3IP, allowing 1H/0ER, 5K:1BB. Yep, that's 10K:2BB. The Legends benefited from the wildness of Jonathan Vargas, who allowed four hits, seven walks, and four wild pitches in 4.1IP. Kody Hinze was 3x3 with a walk, double, a home run, and four RBI. Andy Simunic had the other multi-hit game, while Grant Hogue and J.D. Martinez added doubles. Hinze's four RBI give him 18 on the year, tying him for the South Atlantic League lead.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze

Friday, April 23, 2010

Call up!

Pitcher Zach Grimmett was assigned from Tri-City to Lexington today, where he arrived in time to throw three innings in relief - and get the save - for the Legends.

Recap for G16: Astros v. Pirates

Hopefully you didn't take my advice and go ahead and bench Carlos Lee. Because his two-run double helped the Astros to a 4-3 win over the Pirates.

Why They Won
Roy's seven innings were key, and - hey, Roy won consecutive decisions for the first time since September 21/25, 2008 (@Pittsburgh, v. Cincinnati). That, combined with two-out RBI from Keppinger and Feliz, and 4x7 w/RISP adds up to a win. And that is six wins in their last eight games.

Astros Pitching





NameIPH/ERK:BBPit-StrCS/SS
Oswalt74/24:191-62 (68.1%)21/7
Lyon10/00:06-5 (83.3%)1/0
Lindstrom10/01:012-9 (75%)2/4


The Pirates were the victims of some seemingly bad luck, hitting into 14 flyball outs - six of them flyballs to the outfield. Since Lyon's blowup against the Cubs (where he almost blew Oswalt's April 17 win), Brandon Lyon has thrown three perfect appearances - and needed just 27 pitches to get nine outs. Lindstrom now has five saves, saving five of the six Astros' wins.

Astros hitting

Isn't this something? The Astros got seven hits - three of them for extra bases, and all of those were doubles. Feliz, Keppinger, Lee, and Berkman all had hits w/RISP. The Astros drew two walks (Bourn and Berkman, naturally), and actually saw more pitches than the opposition.

Let's talk about Hunter Pence for a second. In 60 PAs, he has worked the count to three balls five times. And struck out in two of those. He's 0x11 w/RISP, and has put 16 balls to the outfield all season.

The Astros are now 4-2 in 1-run games.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (1x3, BB) - 19 pitches in four PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence (0x3 - 7 pitches in three PAs.

Man of the Match: We'll give credit where it's due. The Astros needed a hit with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and Carlos Lee delivered a double to left.

Goat of the Game: Hunter Pence. 0x3, groundouts to first and second (twice). Took the first pitch for a strike - looking - in all three plate appearances.

Last Home Run

Richard Justice recently tweeted that Carlos Lee has not hit a home run since September 16, 2009 vs. Cincinnati. That's 126 plate appearances. Let's take a look at the other Astros, and get all depressed!

Humberto Quintero: April 21 (2 games)
J.R. Towles: April 17 (2 games)
Jason Michaels: April 20 (2 games)
Hunter Pence: April 10 (9 games)
Lance Berkman: September 29, 2009 (9 games)
Kaz Matsui: September 29, 2009 (14 games)
Pedro Feliz: September 29, 2009 (18 games)
Geoff Blum: September 16, 2009 (22 games)
Jeff Keppinger: September 16, 2009 (26 games)
Michael Bourn: July 10, 2009 (85 games)

Now this is bizarre. Carlos Lee, Geoff Blum, and Jeff Keppinger all hit their last home run on September 16, 2009. Lance Berkman, Kaz Matsui, and Pedro Feliz all hit their last homers on September 29, 2009. Lance and Kaz were against Philly, Feliz' was for Philly, against Houston.

Lineups for G16: Astros v. Pirates

Rob Biertempfel already has the lineups for tonight's game between the Astros and Pirates.

Astros:
1. Bourn - CF
2. Keppinger - 2B
3. Berkman - 1B
4. Lee - LF
5. Pence - RF
6. Feliz - 3B
7. Towles - C
8. Manzella - SS
9. Oswalt - P

Pirates:
1. Iwamura - 2B
2. Mccutchen - CF
3. Church - LF
4. Jones - RF
5. Doumit - C
6. Clement - 1B
7. Young - 3B
8. Maholm - P
9. Cedeno - C

Hey-oh! The Pirates are batting the pitcher 8th! The Pirates are batting the pitcher 8th!

Jordan Lyles highlights BA's Hot Sheet

(Captip to Zach Levine for the link)

Jordan Lyles tops Baseball America's Hot Sheet this week, with an interesting note about what he might have been doing instead:

Had Lyles taken South Carolina's offer to play wide receiver for the Gamecocks, he still wouldn't be eligible for the yesterday's NFL draft for another year. Before the 2008 draft, Lyles considered taking that scholarship to play Division I football until the Astros took him in the supplemental first round. Many in the industry wondered why the Astros took him so early. Even Lyles was surprised.

Today it's clear that Lyles and the Astros made the right choice. Still just a teenager, Lyles skipped high Class A Lancaster and hasn't had any trouble adjusting to Double-A, as his 2.30 ERA and 16-2 K-BB mark in 15 2/3 innings shows. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, Lyles' athleticism helps him repeat his fluid delivery, which bodes well for his command and his durability. That advanced command for his age of three solid pitches has helped Lyles quickly sweep through the minor leagues, and he could reach the big leagues before his 21st birthday.

The Sporting News: Worried about Lee, not so much about Pence

The Sporting News has a look at some slow starters in baseball. Of course your Astros are represented.

Carlos Lee:
Veteran slugger is striking out a little more and walking less than usual and he's been unlucky, with a .167 BABIP, but he also has no power and is missing the ball more often. The return of Lance Berkman could help provide Lee some protection in the Astros lineup, but it's fair to wonder if the 33-year-old has actually lost some of his bat speed.

Hunter Pence:
Pence has been unlucky, with a .191 BABIP, but his contact rates are also the highest of his career, while his walk rate is shockingly low. He's a relatively free swinger anyway, but Pence can probably snap out of this -- and he's showing signs already -- with his typical level of plate discipline.

Bazardo headed to Round Rock...maybe

Alyson Footer is reporting that Yorman Bazardo has been reinstated from the DL, and has been outrighted to Round Rock.

Now, since he has been outrighted to Triple-A before, he can reject the assignment and become a free agent. Since he was outrighted to Round Rock, this also tells us that he cleared waivers. So he can go to Round Rock, and play out the season, or he can go play on somebody else's Triple-A team.

Ed Wade said this:

"We'd like him to stay in the organization. We like his arm. Unfortunately, he couldn't get things going in Spring Training, and now that he's healthy again, we think he has a chance to help us at some point."

The question is this: Where would you rank Bazardo as far as pitching prospects in the organization?

'77 Astros lose in 12

Yo! Your '77 Astros played in the Game of the Day over at Play That Funky Baseball:

Astros 5
Dodgers 2

All Forsch has to do is get the bottom of the Dodger lineup.

But he hits Yeager to start the inning. Glenn Burke runs, Many Mota pinch-hits a walk, and Forsch is in wicked trouble. Lopes blows a bunt try and pops out, but Russell singles up the middle to tie it again! Garvey walks, loading the bases, and Bo McLaughlin is hailed to replace Foolish Forsch. The infield comes in, but Ron Cey raps into a 6-2-3 double play to take it to the 11th.

“I’m done,” says Sherman, “Spent. Do me a favor and cremate me now before they screw up another rally.” McLaughlin and someone named Stan Wall go another two innings, and Bo whiffs the first two guys in the last of the 12th.

Then Russell doubles, and here’s Garvey. And there goes one of the best two-out clutch hitters in the league walking to first on an intentional walk. Much better idea to pitch to the Penguin, who is more prone to walk or whiff than—

—hit the waddle-off 3-run shot into the bleachers that he now hits.


Record: 11-17
GB: 8

Pitcher Efficiency

Based on last night's recap, in which we figured out that Felipe Paulino has to throw 4.48 pitches per out, I got curious. This was wrong. I can't add past 10pm, apparently. This table is correct. This, inevitably, leads to tables. And now that we've gone through the rotation three times, let's take a gander at the efficiency of the rotation so far.

An explanation:
Pitches = Number of pitches thrown
Strikes = Seriously?
P/O = Pitches per out
P/PA = Pitches per plate appearance
PA/K = Plate appearances per strikeout

Astros Pitcher Efficiency







NamePitchesStrikesP/OP/PAPA/K
Oswalt3021965.303.974.47
Wandy2661614.593.5510.7
Myers3172125.283.737.08
Norris2741607.214.493.59
Paulino3241916.484.326.82


A couple of things here. While Bud Norris has the highest pitch/plate appearance ratio, he has the lowest plate appearance/strikeout ratio. Wandy has the lowest pitch per plate appearance ratio, but isn't striking anybody out.

Eddie's Farm: April 22

Round Rock

The Express got three in the 4th, and was able to trade runs the rest of the way for a 5-2 win over Omaha. Wesley Wright threw 6.1IP, 4H/1ER, 1K:3BB for his first win of the season, and T.J. Burton and Yorman Bazardo threw the final 2.2IP, with Bazardo allowing all of hte 3H/1ER, 2K:0BB. Edwin Maysonet was 3x4, and the Express got multi-hit games from Bourgeois (who was picked off AND caught stealing), Bogusevic, and DeLome. RBIs were courtesy of Shelton, Castro, Kata, and Locke (2). Locke is hitting .162 in his last ten games, but does have hits in five straight games (5x16).

Man of the Match: Drew Locke

Corpus Christi

Corpus and Frisco both had six hits, but Frisco had more runs for a 2-1 win. Jordan Lyles continues to impress, with 5IP, 4H/1ER, 7K:1BB - the lone run coming off a homer. Lyles' ERA is 2.30 with a WHIP of 0.89, and a 16:2 K:BB ratio. Chia-Jen Lo got the loss, allowing a run in 2IP, with 2H/1BB. Nelson Payano threw a scoreless 8th. Six hits for the Hooks, no XBH, and Wladimir Sutil was your only Hook with multiple hits, and he also had the RBI. Koby Clemens was 0x2, but with 2BB. Jon Gaston was 0x4 and is hitting .186.

Man of the Match: It has to be Jordan Lyles, no?

Lancaster

Lancaster rapped out 14 hits on their way to a 5-4 win over Rancho Cucamonga. Brad Dydalewicz threw 4IP, 4H/3ER, 4K:3BB; Ashton Mowdy got the win with 2.2IP, 5H/1ER, 2K:0BB, and David Berner recorded a save with 2.1IP, 2H/0ER, and 3K:0BB. Offensivley, Federico Hernandez and Barry Butera each had three hits, with Freddy Parejo getting two of his own. Rancho Cucamonga (I just like typing it. And saying it.) also stole six bases off Dydalewicz and catcher Hernandez, while the JetHawks were picked off/caught stealing three times.

Man of the Match: Barry Butera

Lexington

Drama! Intrigue! Rallies! The Lexington Legends, down 4-0 in the 5th, scored the next four runs to send it to extra innings. And when the Asheville Tourists scored three runs in the top of the 11th, the Legends scored three in the bottom of the 11th, on J.D. Martinez' bases-clearing double with two outs. And in the bottom of the 15th, J.D. Martinez' two-out ROE scored Andy Simunic for the 8-7 win. Brandt Walker threw 3.1IP, 5H/4ER, 1K:2BB, while Jose Trinidad, Wander Alvino, and Colton Pitkin combined for 10.2IP of relief, allowing 8H/3ER, 8K:4BB. Dan Sarisky got the win. A lot ABs to consider here. Rene Garcia was 3x7, while Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez had multi-hit games as well.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

The Pros and Cons of Benching Carlos Lee

Is the time right to bench Carlos Lee - after he looked like a nuthead last night? Zach Levine says yes, and no.

Yes:
Friday might present an opportunity to give Michaels a start as Lee has some bad numbers against Pirates scheduled starter Paul Maholm, going .200/.222/.229 against him in 36 plate appearances.

No:
If you want to ignore the small head-to-head sample, it is a chance to hit Friday against a lefty who has an enormous split. Over his career, Maholm has allowed an OPS 255 points higher to righties than he has to lefties.

Fact is, it's ridiculous that we're talking about benching a career .300 hitter who is currently hitting .136 and is still owed $55 million.

Arias has surgery, out for year

Yep, Alberto Arias had surgery to repair the rotator cuff, labrum, and to shave off a calcium buildup at the rotator cuff.

Ed Wade:
"It's tough because he's done a great job for us and we thought he was going to play a huge role for us this year in our bullpen. We'll create every opportunity for him to rehab and hopefully get back here next year."

Carlos Lee assesses his night

Carlos Lee has an explanation for what happened last night:

On the error:
“I was just charging, and I made a mistake to try to pick up the third-base coach to see what he was going to do before I got the ball. I screwed that play up, and it cost us three runs.”

On his absence of hitting:
“After the first two weeks of the season, right now, I feel like I’m in really good position to hit. The swing is not that level yet, but it’s coming around.”

You've been playing baseball for six weeks now. Get your swing level.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recap for G15: Astros v. Marlins

It might be time to go ahead and drop Carlos Lee in your fantasy league. Dude figured in - in a bad way - to a streak-ending 5-1 loss to the Marlins. But hey, that's two straight series wins...

Why They Lost
This time it was poor hitting plus bad defense that contributed to the Astros loss. Carlos Lee's bobble, and Geoff Blum's bad play (on a brutal hop, admittedly) led to three unearned runs for Felipe Paulino. In addition, Michael Bourn had the only hit w/RISP for the Astros in eight at bats (Kaz Matsui: 0x3). Matsui may have hurt himself pretty bad, fouling a ball off his right leg late in the game.

Astros Pitching





NameIPH/ERK:BBPit-StrCS/SS
Paulino5.26/24:3108-69 (63.9%)19/11
Fulchino1.10/02:017-9 (52.9%)2/3
Moehler20/02:021-13 (61.9%)4/3


Errors. It's hard to quantify the extra pitches Paulino had to throw due to Carlos Lee's error in the 1st, where a routine groundball led to two runs scoring. But Paulino needed 108 pitches to get through 5.2IP. This means that, in three starts, Paulino has thrown 224 pitches to get 50 outs - 4.48 pitches per out.

What was encouraging was the bullpen of Fulchino and Moehler, who were able to give Lyon and Lindstrom the night off - though, technically, Carlos Lee and the defense gave Lyon and Lindstrom the night off - pitching to ten batters, and getting ten outs, and needed 38 pitches to get through said ten batters.

Astros hitting

Nothin'. Nine hits, none for extra bases. Bourn and Berkman had two hits each, with Bourn getting the RBI. Matsui (.107) and Lee (.136) were both 0x4. Oh yeah, and hey, no walks, either. The Astros had first-pitch strikes thrown to them in 24 of 36 at-bats. And about being aggressive and swinging at the first pitch? The Astros did that seven times, and the Astros were 4x7.

Pitch Count Hero: Berkman (2x4) and Lee (0x4) - 16 pitches in three PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Quintero (1x4) - 8 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Michael Bourn. 2x4, RBI, SB, and the lone XBH.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. Dude. Take a day off.

On those days off...

With Keppinger and Feliz on the bench for G15, Alyson Footer has a series of tweets with Brad Mills.

Mills, On Keppinger:
"He's been out there quite a few days now. He's done a real good job. That's all it is."

On Feliz:
Mills told Feliz he wanted to give him a day off and asked him to pick the day. Pedro picked today. Hence, Blum at 3rd.

On Lee getting a day off (I hear you thinking, "You mean he hasn't been off all season?" And that's funny.):
"He wants to play every day. Even though he's struggling, he feels he's real close. I feel he's real close, too."

Lineup for G15: Astros v. Marlins

Here's your lineup for tonight's game v. Marlins:

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

Keppinger gets a seat for the first time in six consecutive games. In those six games, Keppinger was 6x22 for a .273/.333/.318 line. In the five starts prior to a pinch-hit appearance on April 14, Keppinger was 7x18 for a .389/.476/.556 line.

Tommy Manzella takes good notes, and other sundry items

In McTaggart's new blog post, he checked in with Tommy Manzella, who has been taking extra BP.

Manzella:
"The more swings I take, the closer I am to getting there. I'm not one to think you have to overwork, or even when you're going good, you have to take a million swings to keep it there. Right now, I'm trying a bunch of different things, not to change anything I'm doing, but trying things that will click to get my swing back to where it is when I am successful. I might be making a minor adjustment to where I'm doing something different, but it's exactly how I felt when I was going good."

McTaggart:
Manzella keeps detailed notes about his swing when he's in a groove so he can go over them when he's struggling. He says the swing feels the same as it does when he's going good.

-
Teams are giving Bourn the stink eye this year. Right, Bourn?
Last year they wouldn't care if I was going, but now they stay in and pick."

Mills:
"He's made a big step in understanding when to go and when not to go and when he's able to get a jump and when he's not able. That's huge when base runners can make that turn and get that realization. That's really huge."

Through 14 games in 2009, Bourn had two stolen bases. Through 14 in 2010, he has four.

The Bleacher Report asks a simple question, and gets a simple answer

Is It Too Early To Give Roy Halladay The NL Cy Young?

Yes.

Who We Got - G15: Astros v. Marlins

Who We Got

Florida: 8-7, 3rd place, 1.5GB
On the Road: 4-5
Vs. Houston: 0-1
Last ten games: 5-5
Runs scored/Against: 78/76

Houston: 5-9, 6th place, 4.5GB
At Home: 2-6
Last ten games: 5-5
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 42/69

Starting Pitchers
Anibal Sanchez: 0-1, 6.75 ERA / 1.67 WHIP
Last two games:
(@PHI- Apr 16) 6IP, 8H/5ER, 1K:4BB
(vLAD - Apr 11) 6IP, 7H/4ER, 5K:1BB

Felipe Paulino: 0-1, 7.36 ERA / 1.55 WHIP
Last two games:
(@CHC - Apr 16) 6IP, 6H/5ER, 3K:3BB
(vPHI - Apr 10) 5IP, 4H/4ER, 4K:4BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because Felipe Paulino isn't as bad as his stats would lead you to believe. Against Philadelphia, Jayson Werth sac'ed in Ryan Howard, who tripled to left. So thank Carlos Lee for watching that rattle around. He did walk in the second run, and a groundball got through to score runs 3/4. Against Chicago, the RBI double to Carlos Silva is inexcusable, and things fell apart in the 7th, where he left the bases loaded. All three runs scored. My point? It's not like Paulino is getting overmatched. Just a slip here and there, where the bullpen kind of let him down. Granted, nobody should leave the bases loaded with no outs, but still...

Because Paulino has only ever faced Jorge Cantu. He got a double in two ABs, but whatever. Nod goes to the pitcher here. Anibal Sanchez has only ever faced Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz (0x9, combined). So maybe this is "Why Neither Pitcher Will Get Out of the 3rd."

Because this season (limited sample size, I know), 3-4-5 hitters are 8x17 off Anibal Sanchez. Or because Sanchez' pitch selection favors the aggressive. And we all know the Astros like to swing that bat early and often. When swinging at the first pitch, Sanchez has given up five hits in nine instances.

Or because, away from SunLife/Margaritaville Stadium - or wherever the Marlins play - Sanchez is 8-12 with a 4.53 ERA / 1.60 WHIP (11-6, 3.40 ERA/1.31 WHIP at home).

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because Paulino, in 49 plate appearances by the opposition, has been behind of the batter in 24 PAs. In 13 of those PAs, he's run the count full. And when the batter is ahead, said batter is hitting to a tune of .294/.500/.529.

Because with the bases empty, batters are hitting .192/.250/.385 off Paulino. But when runners are on base, that goes up to .357/.500/.571.

Because against teams in which Sanchez has pitched more than once, his ERA is lowest at Minute Maid Park. In two starts against Houston, he's 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA. 12IP, 6H/1ER, 5K:7BB.

Eddie's Farm: April 21

Round Rock

The Express and Omaha Royals are apparently so similar that they can't get anything solved in nine innings. So it went last night when the Royals beat the Express 5-4 in 11 innings. Polin Trinidad threw 5.2IP, 3H/2ER, 5K:3BB and Jonah Bayliss gave up 2ER in 0.1IP. Roy Corcoran fell to 0-4, allowing the game-winning run after throwing 3IP. Sam Gervacio threw a perfect inning in his second rehab appearance. The Express were 0x10 w/RISP, and Collin DeLome was your only source of multiple hits, Jason Castro was 0x3 with 2BB and an RBI (and is now hitting .216), and Matt Kata collected an RBI double.

Man of the Match: Collin DeLome. 2x5, with a run scored and two stolen bases.

Corpus Christi

Off.

Lancaster

Game was suspended in the first inning.

Lexington

At least Lexington got a game in, though it almost didn't go the way they wanted. After opening a 9-2 lead after three, the Legends had to score three in the bottom of the 7th to provide some breathing room in a 12-8 win over Asheville. Jose Cisnero threw 5IP, 6H/4ER (5R), 3K:2BB, and Nathan Pettus gave up four hits and a walk for three earned runs in the 6th inning (and part of the 7th). Mike Schurz allowed a hit, three walks, and two wild pitches, but didn't give up any runs. Jose Altuve was 3x4 with a triple and 2RBI, while Jiovanni Mier also provided 2RBI. J.D. Martinez was 2x5, and Jonathan Meyer was 1x3 with 3RBI, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Meyer

Why the hell did Lance try to steal third base?

So Lance was caught trying to steal third in the 6th inning. As I wasn't able to see the game, I naturally assumed that Lee was supposed to be the one doing the hitting in a hit-and-run, and of course Lee missed the ball by a mile, likely by swinging at the pitch outside the zone.

But that isn't what happened at all! No, Lance was trying to steal third. Two games after coming back from a knee injury. Down a run. With the cleanup "hitter" at bat.

What happened, Lance:

"I was thinking nobody in the stadium expects me to try to steal third right here. It was the sixth inning, and I thought the worst-case scenario would be that we would end up with Carlos [Lee] on second base and two outs in the sixth against a tough pitcher where a hit still ties the game. If I made it then we had a chance to score an easy run off a guy that was giving us some fits. The thinking was sound, the mind was willing but the body was weak. If I had to do it all over again clearly I would not have attempted it. Clearly I did not notice my leg was as weak as it is. I'm glad we won the game because you guys would have made a bigger deal out of it."

It actually wasn't a terrible idea - which we can say after a W - it would be questionable if Lance would be able to score from second on that shaky knee, unless the ball was smoked.

Galveston Daily News: Trade Roy

The Galveston County Daily News' Josh Buckley has an idea: Hey, the Astros should trade Roy!

Here are his three criteria for any trade:

• A starting pitcher at the Triple-A level who could move in the starting rotation by the end of the season.

• An MLB-ready third- or second baseman with power and a solid on-base percentage.

• Another pitcher in the Class A or Double-A level who throws at least in the mid-90s.


What say you?

Yep, Arias is out for the year

Updating a report from yesterday, it looks as though Arias is done for the year.

Levine:
A calcium buildup in his shoulder is restricting the motion of his rotator cuff, and once that’s cleared out surgically, it will be seen whether there is damage to the rotation cuff or the labrum.

Wade:
"It could be as ‘simple’ as cleaning that up to create more space for his shoulder not to be impinged. It could be a longer-term issue. He did a great job for us last year, and we were counting on him to be right there literally right in the middle of things in the bullpen for us. It’s unfortunate, but I feel bad for him because he saw what the opportunity was coming in to spring training and he was never right from the very first day.”

Another cap-tip to Sean Berry

Zach Levine has some reaction from Man of the Match Geoff Blum on his two-run triple:

Blum:
"Shoot, I was just happy it was elevated in the air,” Blum said of the one-out shot off Burke Badenhop, adding that he and hitting coach Sean Berry had worked a lot on putting the ball in the air with runners on third and fewer than two outs.
“The ball gets down, and to my amazement it gets by the center fielder and I have to make it all the way to third. There was a large range of emotions on that ball.”

Recap for G14: Astros v. Marlins

So let's update: that's four in a row, and five out of six, as the Astros get all weird and defeat the Marlins 5-4.

Why They Won
Because, while Lee was 2x3, the guys on either side of him were 0x4. But Feliz-Matsui-Quintero were a combined 4x10, and Geoff Blum's two-run triple provided the game-winning runs. And while Bud Norris had four great innings and one rough one, the bullpen was able to keep the Marlins' offense quiet.

Astros Pitching






NameIPH/ERK:BBPit-StrCS/SS
Norris53/35:286-49 (57%)11/9
Lopez21/02:021-14 (66.7%)5/2
Lyon10/02:09-8 (88.9%)1/4
Lindstrom11/00:012-8 (75%)2/1


Norris was cruising along - had a no-hitter going into the 5th, holding the Marlins to just one walk. Then Dan Uggla led off the inning with an infield single on a 3-2 pitch. Then a four-pitch walk to John Baker. Then a swinging strikeout of Cody Ross. Gaby Sanchez hit a 1-0 pitch to left, scoring Uggla. Josh Johnson's sac scored Baker, and Cameron Maybin's triple scored Sanchez. It looked like the damage might be limited to three runs, when Jeff Keppinger's throwing error not only allowed Coghlan to reach first, but Maybin to score.

Congratulations to Wilton Lopez, who got his first career win. Lopez threw two innings, allowing a single, but facing the minimum after getting John Baker to GIDP.

Since the Cubs game where Lyon almost blew Roy's 4-run lead, Lyon has pitched in two games, and has had two perfect outings with 3K, and 21 total pitches.

Astros hitting

It's just weird. The Astros scored the first run of the game in the first inning without getting a hit. Bourn walked, stole second, moved to third, and scored on Berkman's RBI groundout. Quintero cut the lead to 4-2 with a 393-foot homer to left. Carlos Lee got his first RBI of the season in the 6th, and then came the 7th. Pedro Feliz and Kaz Matsui reached on an infield single, and then Blum tripled to center, and made the game 5-4. So the Astros had three extra-base hits: Bourn, Blum, and Quintero. Once again, the Astros took advantage of the bullpen after getting handled by the SP.

Progress was made on the walk front, as the Astros drew three walks for the third straight game. After nine walks in their first ten games, that's 10 in their last four.

Pitch Count Hero: Kaz Matsui (1x3) - 17 pitches in three PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Pedro Feliz (1x4) - 14 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: This is again difficult. But when the Astros needed a go-ahead hit, they got it from Geoff Blum.

Goat of the Game: Going back to Hunter Pence for this one. The presence of Lance Berkman is supposed to help, not allow you to continue hitting .173.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Arias done for the year?

Zach Levine is tweeting that Alberto Arias will have surgery on that right shoulder, and will likely be done for the year. And Jeff Fulchino can breathe a little easier...

Lineup for G14: Astros v. Marlins

Here's your lineup for G14 vs. Marlins

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

Mets interested in Roy?

Matthew Cerrone's MetsBlog is reporting, via WFAN's Mike Francesa, that the Mets are checking out Roy's license plates.

The thing is, the Astros are in play, and they’re a disaster… and so, if ever there was a time to move oswalt, this is it… he’s healthy, for now, he’s effective, for now, his team is in desperate need of prospects and there are plenty of teams around the league in need of a front-line pitcher… the problem is, who would such a deal cost in prospects…

It also links to this ESPN NY blog item:

A source familiar with the Houston Astros' thinking doesn't believe right-hander Roy Oswalt will end up with the Mets, assuming he does get traded.

"They may sniff, but have no chance," the source said regarding the Mets.

Who We Got - G14: Astros v. Marlins

Who We Got

Florida: 8-6, 3rd place, .5GB
On the Road: 4-3
Vs. Houston: 0-1
Runs scored/Against: 73/69

Houston: 4-9, 6th place, 4.5GB
At Home: 1-6
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 35/62

Starting Pitchers
Josh Johnson: 1-1, 4.50 ERA / 1.63 WHIP
Last two games:
(vCIN- Apr 15) 6IP, 5H/1ER, 10K:1BB
(vLAD - Apr 10) 5IP, 8H/3ER, 7K:3BB

Bud Norris: 1-1, 3.52 ERA / 2.22 WHIP
Last two games:
(@STL - Apr 15) 5IP, 4H/0ER, 9K:3BB
(vPHI - Apr 9) 2.2IP, 6H/3ER, 3K:4BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because this season righties are 11x33 with four XBH against Josh Johnson.

Because Johnson is 0-3 lifetime against the Astros, with a 7.36 ERA / 2.09 WHIP in two starts (one relief). At Minute Maid, Johnson is 0-2, with a 7.50 ERA / 2.17 WHIP.

Because Bud Norris just might be figuring this thing out. After a dominating 5IP performance vs St. Louis, hopefully Good Bud will show up tonight to keep this win streak alive.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because the Astros haven't seen much of Josh Johnson. Of current Astros, Pedro Feliz has the most ABs against Johnson, and is 3x14, with an OPS of .500.

Because current Marlins are 16x36 against Bud Norris, with a .444/.475/.750 line (homers by Uggla, Cantu, and Ramirez).

Because Bud Norris actually kind of struggles at Minute Maid. In seven games, he's 4-3, but has a 5.13 ERA / 1.74 WHIP.

Interview: Rafael Rojas Cremonesi

Rafael Rojas Cremonesi is a man of many talents. He's a radio sports anchor/producer, beat writer for Caribes de Anzoategui, and also for the Astros Spanish-language site. Rafael was kind enough to answer a few questions for AC, and for you:

Who was your favorite Astro growing up?

Well, I can say I grew up watching the Killer B's, Bagwell and Biggio, back when I was a teenager, and it was not only their great playing abilities, but the class and decency in which they conducted themselves on and off the field. I didn't imagine back then that in 2004 I would start writing for the same team. I had to behave professionally when I first interviewed them, but certainly I was very nervous.

Were you surprised by the Astros slow start, and how do you think it will impact the remainder of the season?

As a matter of fact, not very surprised since the team would be without Lance Berkman and many people would overlook the fact Miguel Tejada is no longer an Astro. His best days are behind, that's true, but he is still a reliable run producer. The pìtching staff has not been too shabby, and I think hitting slumps are temporary - I don't think they will stay this way throughout the whole season. It's just been two weeks so I can't really think this will have a lasting impact come September, if they manage to get their stuff together and be contenders.

As someone who writes about the Venezuelan League, what will be the lasting impact of the Astros pulling out of Venezuela?

The Astros were a trailblazer in Venezuela. Back when they founded the Academy, no MLB organization had ever done that before. So it was the one which started a big trend and a boom in signing Venezuelan players and mining the country looking for talent. Of course, I believe it's the Astros' loss more than Venezuela's because they're kind of giving away this huge territory to other organizations. However, there are Venezuelans in key positions, such as Al Pedrique being bench coach, so I don't think the team will underestimate Venezuela altogether. But if the Academy stayed it would certainly help.

You're active on Twitter, how do you perceive the media shifting in the reporting of baseball?

Twitter is the ultimate breaking news machine, in which news are traveling at the speed of light - even more than with blogs and all other Internet tools. It's ubiquitous, since you can send news to your followers at any place via your mobile phone or computer, even your iPod touch or your iPad (if you manage to get one of those); and your followers can make it become viral; since it starts to be re-sent any amount of times. It certainly helps us get information quicker - and it makes journalists to stay alert and on their toes more than ever before, for fact-checking and confirmation. And in the case of baseball, Twitter is such a perfect tool - you can send game information, tidbits, injury news, you name it...

Who gets in to the Hall of Fame first - Bagwell, or Biggio?

A very hard question. Once, when I was writing a story for the Astros Spanish language magazine Cronicas de los Astros, I fantasized about a Cooperstown ceremony in which both would be enshrined together into the Hall of Fame. However, Biggio has more than 600 doubles, 200 RBI and a total of 291 homers. Baggy has only one dinger left for 450. I tell you, in this day and age in which we tend to be so skeptical of baseball, getting these modern players which were classy, decent and honorable would be a big breath of fresh air for all of us.

Follow along with Rafael on Twitter.

'77 Astros split another doubleheader

We just can't put it together twice in a row. The '77 Astros split the doubleheader with the Dodgers:

Game 1
Astros 2
Dodgers 1

Joe Niekro, whaddya know? Cruz with a double, triple and single to beat Sutton for the first time.

Game 2
Astros 2
Dodgers 7

Dan Larson isn’t that good. Three solo Dodger taters in the first three innings do him in, and Pentz and Dixon add fuel to the L.A. brush fire.

Record: 11-15
GB: 7

It doesn't help that the freaking Pirates have now won 13 in a row...

Chris Johnson's injury was pretty convenient

In Zach Levine's Notes Column this morning, we see what happened with Chris Johnson's sudden onset muscle strain:

Wade:
"He played on Saturday and came out of that game really sore, and at that point, knowing that Lance might be coming back in short order, it became apparent at that stage that was probably the move that we were going to end up having to make."

Strange.

And, speaking of soreness, Alberto Arias' rehab isn't going so well:
"When I threw, I felt a lot of pain in the middle (of my shoulder)."

Wade:
"His delivery was restricted. His arm angle wasn't right. He just seems to hit a plateau. He gets to a certain point and then it starts to bother him again and then back him off and then it gets to that point again and then back him off."

Tranzactionz!

Remember yesterday, when we were all confused how Round Rock sent two guys to Corpus, and then put Chris Johnson on the DL? Yeah, that's because...

Corpus Christi
Placed Jeremy Johnson on the 7-day DL.

Eddie's Farm: April 20

Round Rock

Pitchers duel in Round Rock! It took a 10th inning sac fly from Matt Kata to score Drew Locke - who led off the 10th with a single - to give the Express the 1-0 win over Omaha. Andy Van Hekken was great, throwing 7IP, 3H/0ER, 8K:1BB (1.53 ERA), and the bullpen of Bazardo, Daigle, and Majewski threw 3IP, 3H/0ER, 2K:1BB relief. Chris Shelton was 3x3 with a walk, and is now hitting .364 on the year. Bogusevic and Garciaparra had the only two extra base hits - both doubles.

Man of the Match: Andy Van Hekken

Corpus Christi

Hey, Honorary Citizen and Hooks' beat writer Greg Rajan has a new blog called the "Hooks Insider." Lots of good stuff in there, and we'll hopefully be chatting with Greg throughout the season.

Corpus got a run in the sixth and held on for a 2-1 win over NW Arkansas, despite leaving ten on base. Doug Arguello ran up a pitch count of 91 in 5IP, thanks to five hits, four walks, and a balk, with one earned run. Jared Wells threw 3.1IP, 1H/0ER, 1K:2BB in relief, and Henry Villar got his first save of the season. German Duran was 2x4, David Cook was 0x2 with 2BB, Jimmy Van Ostrand was 2x3 with a BB, and Koby Clemens was 1x3 with an RBI and a BB.

Man of the Match: Jared Wells

Lancaster

Game against High Desert postponed.

Lexington

Lexington jumped on Asheville early and then rode it out for a 5-1 win. Robby Donovan threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 1K:1BB, and Arcenio Leon gave up two hits, no runs, in 3IP of relief. J.D. Martinez was 3x4 with a double, two runs, and 2RBI. Jonathan Meyer was 2x4, and Kody Hinze hit a two-run homer. Our boy Aaron Bray cleared his head after a couple of days off, and responded with a 1x2, 2BB day at the plate.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

Recap for G13: Astros v. Marlins

That's three in a row, and four of five. The Astros overcome Brett Myers' rough first inning, and score five runs in innings 6-8, to defeat the Marlins, 7-5.

Why They Won
Because it just might turn out that this team is scrappy. Down 2-0 in the first, the Astros get one back. Down 3-1 in the second, the Astros get one back. Down 4-2 in the sixth, the Astros get one back, and then go ahead by three. Jason Michaels' homer to left in the 8th iced the game at 7-4, and Berkman made an immediate impact with two RBI and some good defense.

Astros Pitching





NameIPH/ERK:BBPit-StrCS/SS
Myers78/42:0106-71 (67%)16/11
Lyon10/01:012-9 (75%)4/1
Lindstrom12/10:023-16 (69.6%)5/1


Myers started out the game by allowing four consecutive singles, leading to an immediate 2-0 Marlins lead. But this is interesting: In innings 1-3, Myers has a 7.00 ERA, and is allowing a .425/.452/.525 line. In innings 4-6, Myers has a 1.00 ERA, with a .133/.161/.267 against. The first time through the order, batters are 13x26 against Myers. 2nd and 3rd time through? 9x52.

Astros hitting

The Astros got nine hits, four of them for extra bases (doubles by Berkman, Lee, and Pence), and a homer by Jason Michaels who, with two, is the team leader in home runs. The Astros got three sac hits, including what was kind of a suicide squeeze by Kaz Matsui, pushing the ball up the first base line to score Pence, giving the Astros a 5-4 lead in the 8th. Next batter up, Michaels bombed it to the Crawford Boxes.

The Astros were 4x15 w/RISP, with Feliz and Michaels getting a hit, and J.R. Towles with two RISP hits. Since the loss at Wrigley on April 16, when Quintero got two straight starts, Towles is 5x9 with 5RBI, and has raised his average from .056 to .222, and his OPS from .167 to .592.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (0x3, 2BB) - 21 pitches in five PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Pedro Feliz (1x4) - 10 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: This is difficult. How about Lance Berkman? A double in four ABs, but did enough with the ball in two other plate appearances to get the run home from third. And he didn't get hurt during the game.

Goat of the Game: Matt Lindstrom. Came in with a 7-4 lead, and two hits and a wild pitch saw the tying run come to the plate.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lineup for G13: Astros v. Marlins

Here's your lineup for G13 (with stats vs. opposing pitcher)

1. Bourn - CF (2x5, .400/.500/.600)
2. Keppinger - 2B (N/A)
3. Berkman - 1B (N/A)
4. Lee - LF (1x3. .333/.333/.667)
5. Pence - RF (2x6, .333/.333/.333)
6. Feliz - 3B (2x8, .250/.250/.375)
7. Towles - C (N/A)
8. Manzella - SS (N/A)
9. Myers - P

-

1. Maybin - CF (4x6, .667/.667/.833)
2. Coghlan - LF (1x3, .333/.333/.667)
3. Ramirez - SS (10x28, .357/.419/.571)
4. Cantu - 1B (6x14, .429/.429/.857
5. Uggla - 2B (14x37, .378/.410/.892)
6. Baker - C (3x8, .375/.500/.375)
7. Ross - RF (4x16, .250/.294/.500)
8. Helms - 3B (1x5 .200/.286/.200)
9. Volstad - P

Bob Wechsler doesn't think much of his favorite team. Or ours. Or anything else from Texas.

In the age of the internet, this is ballsy. The Lehigh Valley Express-Times' Bob Wechsler is so fed up with his Baltimore Orioles that he has declared himself a free agent, and is trying to find a new favorite team. Hey, if you're a soon-to-be ex-Orioles fan, join the Astros bandwagon. Baltimore is where Astros go to fade to black. So what do you say, Bob? What's that? You've already ruled out the Astros and Rangers?

There's no way I can support any sports team from Texas. The only worthwhile things in Texas are Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountain national parks.

That got personal quick. I was on board with the "any sports team" from Texas, but then it just got silly. Haven't you ever been to Storm's in Hamilton or Lampasas, jerk?

Okay, that was unexpected

I spent a lot of my dog-walking time this morning trying to figure out who the Astros would send down to Round Rock to make room for Berkman coming off the DL. Jared Wells and Nelson Payano were sent from Round Rock to Corpus, so it seemed as though something was imminent.

Turns out, it's nobody. Chris Johnson has been placed on the DL with a strained intercostal muscle. This is a muscle that that runs between the ribs and helps form the chest wall.

Berkman's in the lineup!

Mark Berman is reporting that Lance Berkman will play tonight against Florida.

So has the swelling gone down?
"It's really not ever been not swollen. It's just a matter of how it feels. I don't care what it looks like. I'm not trying to win a beauty contest with my knees. It feels good enough to run and do the things I need to do to play. So if I wasn't in there I would feel guilty about it. It's time to get back in there and try to do what they pay me to do."

Who We Got - G13: Astros v. Marlins

The Astros welcome the Marlins to the lineup, likely by sending Lance Berkman out there to give Carlos Lee something to hit.

Who We Got

Florida: 8-5, 2nd place, .5GB
On the Road: 4-2
Vs. Houston: 0-0
Runs scored/Against: 68/62

Houston: 3-9, 6th place, 5.5GB
At Home: 0-6
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 28/57

Starting Pitchers
Chris Volstad: 1-1, 3.46 ERA / 1.15 WHIP
Last two games:
(vCIN- Apr 14) 6.2IP, 5H/3ER, 5K:4BB
(vLAD - Apr 9) 6.1IP, 5H/2ER, 2K:1BB

Brett Myers: 0-1, 3.46 ERA / 1.46 WHIP
Last two games:
(@STL - Apr 14) 7IP, 4H/1ER, 7K:2BB
(vSF - Apr 7) 6IP, 12H/4ER, 3K:1BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because surely the Astros can't start the season 0-7 at home. Right?

Because Volstad's last start against Houston saw him go 4.2IP, 8H/6ER, 2K:3BB. Though this was a game the Astros lost 9-8 in 11 innings (Aug 11, 09).

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because Brett Myers is 0-4 with an 8.58 ERA in his last five starts against the Marlins.

Or because Volstad has held righties to a .156/.344/.572 line (5x32) in two games this season.

Or because Volstad has only ever walked one Astro - Michael Bourn - in 37 plate appearances.

Or because the Marlins have hit Myers to a .326/.380/.583 line lifetime (47x144 - 37K:13BB). Jorge Cantu is 6x14 with three doubles and a homer. Dan Uggla is 14x37 with five homers and eight extra-base hits. Hanley Ramirez is 10x28 with four XBH.

"Looming PED suspension"

There's a report from Will Carroll that there is a PED suspension coming. No one knows when (unless you're looking for something more specific than "soon."). No one knows which player it is. There has been rampant speculation (David Wright, Mr. Met, etc...) but nothing is confirmed.

One of our esteemed, favorite, and respected Astros blogs has a post asking which player you have suspicions about.

We aren't playing that game. If it's an Astro, we'll deal with it then. If not, we'll make a noise, and move on.

Oh yeah, it's Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez.

Round Rock leaders

Let's take this opportunity, while the media discovers that maybe the Astros will be better with Berkman in the lineup, to get the Top 5 performers, both hitters/pitchers in the four levels of Eddie's Farm - starting with Round Rock. Hitters are organized by OPS, Pitchers by WHIP.

Round Rock - hitters







NameABsAvg/SLG/OBPK:BBXBH-RBISB/Err
DeLome26.269/.345/.6543:24-80/0
Ramirez32.344/.364/.4694:12-52/0
Bourgeois39.359/.432/.3855:51-310/0
Shelton41.317/.383/.3668:52-40/1
Bogusevic40.275/.370/.3758:62-50/0


Round Rock - pitchers







NameIPERA/WHIPK:BBHR All
Daigle63.00/0.677:01
Banks19.11.86/0.888:23
Trinidad92.00/0.896:40
Majewski7.23.52/1.042:10
Chacin13.12.03/1.1310:31

Tranzactionz!

A few things of note:

Round Rock
-Assigned LHP Nelson Payano to Corpus Christi
-Assigned RHP Jared Wells to Corpus Christi

Lexington
-Placed OF Brian Kemp on 7-day DL w/ankle injury

Eddie's Farm: April 19

Round Rock

Evan Englebrook gave up two doubles in the top of the 11th to take the result in a 4-3 loss to New Orleans. Gustavo Chacin threw 5.2IP, 5H/1ER, 6K:1BB while Sam Gervacio - in his rehab appearance - gave up 1H/1ER, 1K:1BB in the 7th, Majewski gave up a run in the 8th, Daigle threw two scoreless, and Englebrook did his thing. The Express' offense was 2x20 w/RISP (2x20!) and couldn't take advantage of three Zephyr errors. Matt Kata was 3x6, Yordany Ramirez was 3x4, Chris Shelton was 2x4, and Brian Bogusevic threw three walks.

Man of the Match: Gustavo Chacin

Corpus Christi

The bullpen nutted it last night, turning a 4-3 lead going into the 9th into a 6-4 loss in 10 innings to NW Arkansas. Sergio Perez gave up 7H/3ER, 4K:3BB, and Matt Nevarez and recently-signed Nelson Payano (who was sent to Corpus before the game) threw three scoreless, though Nevarez walked three batters in his 1IP. Danny Meszaros gave up the tying run in the 9th, and Erick Abreu took the loss with 1IP, 2H/2ER. Good offensive news, though, Lou Santangelo and Koby Clemens hit homers off Royals prospect Aaron Crow. Jack Shuck was 2x4, and Wladimir Sutil had two hits and an RBI.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens

Lancaster

Ross Seaton got his first win of the season with 6IP, 6H/1ER, 6K:1BB, leading a 6-1 win over High Desert. Pat Urckfitz, Edwin Walker, and Kyle Godfrey combined for 3IP, 3H/1ER, 7K:0BB. Albert Cartwright was 3x4, Jay Austin (with a triple), Brandon Wikoff, and David Flores had two hits each, and Mark Ori had a bases-clearing double.

Man of the Match: Ross Seaton

Lexington

This time it was Greenville who came out on top of the Legends in a 6-3 win. Juan Minaya threw 5.1IP, 4H/3ER, 2K:2BB for the loss, while Wander Alvino allowed a run, Colton Pitkin gave up two (one earned on Jonathan Meyer's eighth error of the season), and Dan Sarisky shut it down for 1H/0ER in 2IP. Meyer overcame the error with another 2x4 day (now hitting .396), catcher Rene Garcia was 2x4 with a 9th inning, two out, three-run homer (now hitting .387). J.D. Martinez was 0x3, but with a walk, so the on-base streak remains intact.

Man of the Match: Rene Garcia

Lance: Caged Puma

New article from Brian McTaggart sees Berkman talking a whole bunch of noise, in anticipation of his debut tonight:

"I'm going to tell you right now: If we keep getting the starting pitching we've gotten to this point in the season, we'll make the playoffs."

Carlos Lee:
"Lance is a big part of the lineup and the team, and to get him back is going to create more offense. We need it right now. We need to pick it up. Lance is a guy that is capable of getting on base a lot and doing a lot of damage. We hope he can come back quick and be ready to go."

Berkman, on his impact, and why Hunter Pence wasn't able to handle the #3-spot:
"It's hard to say what the impact will be, but let's face it, we've faced some of the game's best [pitchers] right out of the chute. I don't care who you stick up there against [Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright], you're going to struggle. They're just so good. But I do think me being there [will be beneficial] just because I think it makes guys hit where they should in the lineup.

"Whether they're comfortable or not, asking guys to hit third that haven't done it before or consistently, it's a tall task. That's a tough assignment, and it takes some getting used to. That's not a position you can roll somebody in there. If they can put me in there and I'm able to hit there, that takes pressure off of other guys, just for the fact they're back in spots in the lineup they're more comfortable."

Zach Levine's minor-league notebook

Zach Levine has some info on a few minor-leaguers, including slugger J.D. Martinez:

Levine:
An outfielder all his life, Martinez moved temporarily to first base and began to have knee problems. He was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis, and it has bothered him ever since and caused him to keep close watch on it.

Martinez:
“Some days it's better than others. This year it's a lot better because I've been monitoring it. It's not a big deal; it's just something that's going to bug me."

And we also find out that Lexington OF Brian Kemp has been put on the DL with an ankle injury.

All sorts of reasons for why attendance is down!

Bernardo Fallas notes that, through the first six games of the season, attendance at Minute Maid Park is down about 8% from last year. And here are the reasons given:

Drayton:
“The last two years, we’ve been — in my lifetime — in the worst recession any of us has ever seen. People were worried about the economy, so certainly people cut back.”

Pam Gardner:
"Our expectation entering the season was that we should be able to maintain or be very close to what we did last season. Of course, the team is a big bonus to that; if the team performs well, hopefully you can do better.”

Mo' Drayton:
“The team winning certainly adds a great deal to the attendance."

Let's see here, because weekends are where you're supposed to be able to pick up attendance numbers. Casual fans may not be willing to come out and sit through Brett Myers vs. Matt Cain on a Wednesday night. But the first weekend of the season brought the Phillies to town, where attendance was 27,288 / 35,138 / 28,619, for an average of 30,348. It should be noted that the Sunday game was the lowest Sunday attendance since a June 7, 2009 game against the Pirates (25,729). And a weekend series against the Phillies in 2009 brought an average of 32,258. It was Labor Day Weekend, but the Astros were still 14GB.

We have already discussed how the Astros are getting the screw-gee from the League Office this summer, playing on the road over Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day - so don't expect the Astros to outdraw 2009.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Token Afternoon Berkman Update

Today's TABU comes courtesy of MyFoxHouston, where Ed Wade said:

"All indications are he'll be able to go (Tuesday). Nate Lucero (Astros head trainer) talked to Lance this morning and Lance said he had some minor swelling, but didn't think it was of consequence and should be ready to go...

..."He brings a huge element as a hitter, but beyond what he brings individually, it's what Lance brings collectively to the entire lineup. He takes a lot of pressure off of the guys around him, whether he's hitting or not.

"It changes how the opponents approach the rest of the lineup."

Ohhhh....the OFFENSE.

USA Today's Chris Duncan looks into his mystical crystal ball and discovers that the reason the Astros are bad right now is because of the offense. You don't say...

Duncan:
Houston ranks last in the majors in runs (28), batting average (.215), on-base percentage (.240) and home runs (3). The Astros have been shut out three times and scored two runs or fewer in seven of their first 12 games.

From the start, the Astros knew they had unproven bats at the back of the lineup. Rookie shortstop Tommy Manzella had only five career major-league at-bats and catcher J.R. Towles was hitting .149 over the previous two seasons.

But the dependable hitters are the ones slumping the worst so far.


Pence:
"That's just the way it goes sometimes and you've just got to keep battling. Once you get hot, hitting gets contagious and it starts to feel easy, and when it's going bad it feels very difficult. You've just got to keep your mind right, keep preparing and keep believing it's going to happen."

Mills:
"There's a lot of talent there, and the talent right now isn't able to do the things they've been able to do in the past. It's only a matter of time before they do. We'll try to shorten that as much as we can. But the guys are getting their work in and doing the things they need to get done...

...We purposely didn't look back at those losses because that frustration begins to build. So that's not what we wanted. That's not an advantage to us. So we tried not to look back and kept correcting those mistakes, but looking forward at what we were trying to accomplish. So in saying that, it builds."

Matsui: Unemployed!

Well, almost. Alyson Footer's blog post finds Brad Mills non-committal on whether or not to just go ahead and sit Kaz Matsui on his formerly-cracked anus in favor of Jeff Keppinger and his .371 average:

"I don't want to label it that way yet. We're still just a dozen games into the season. Let's wait and see how everything plays out. I'm congnizant to get (Matsui) out there and get him on a roll. It's tough, but it's tough to not get the other guy (Keppinger) out there. Coming out of Spring Training, I was trying to get Keppinger at-bats in first week of the season. He did so well, the other at-bats were kind of silent. As we kept him in there, he continued to play really well."

Footer notes there's no Starting Quarterback syndrome:
It's the right thing to do for the sake of the team and when you're 3-9, it would make no sense to play the lesser player just because he was signed as a starter and the other was, upon trading for him, viewed as a bench guy. Ed Wade gave Mills complete autonomy with decisions surrounding Matsui -- meaning, Mills will do what's best for the on-field health of the team without worrying about how much one player is being paid over the other.

Craig Calcaterra says:
The more playing time Keppinger gets, the more he'll start to look like what Kaz Matsui will give the Astros with more playing time himself. Ask the Reds who, after Keppinger had a fairly spectacular 267 at bats in 2007, tried to make him into a full time player the following year. The results: .266/.310/.346. Some of that was no doubt due to a knee injury he got in May of that year, but a lot of it was simply a function of him being exposed as something less than a full time player.

Keppinger more or less kills lefties, but if you give the guy 500 plate appearances, he's not going to do much more for you than Matsui is going to do. In light of that it makes sense for Mills not to make some big announcement regarding who the starting second baseman is, play the hot hand and enjoy Keppinger's production while it lasts.

Power Rankings!

Entering Week Three, let's see how the "experts" see the Astros:

Sporting News:
Astros: 30th
The Astros have hit just three home runs as a team entering the week. Fifty players have at least three home runs this season.

FanHouse:
Astros: 29th
After their 0-8 start, the Astros are now 3-1 and are officially on a two-game winning streak after taking their weekend series in Wrigley Field. Lance Berkman is due back in the near future, as well, so it's not nearly as doom and gloom as it was for the 'Stros at this time last week. It's not all good news, either; Jeff Keppinger and Michael Bourn are the only two players hitting remotely well right now and Bud Norris' 3.52 ERA certainly won't stand if he keeps walking nearly a batter an inning.

ESPN:
Astros: 29th
Houston took two of three from the Cubs for its first series win of the season and gets Lance Berkman back from the DL on Tuesday

Hardball Talk:
Astros: 29th
The Astros have hit three home runs this year. Three. That's only three more than you've hit.

USA Today:
Astros: 29th

Lance is ready to go

In an Austin American-Statesman article on Berkman we learn the following:

-Berkman's knee is sore:
"Feels sore, but that's to be expected. It's the first time I've played in five weeks, so I wouldn't expect it to feel perfect. But I was pleased with the way everything went. I'm looking forward to getting back to Houston."

-Ricky Bennett is very happy:
"I'm hoping that his presence in our lineup in Houston will have the same effect. That's what Lance does for you. He energizes a lineup because of his presence. We want him in the lineup. I was excited about what I was seeing and I think he'll be ready to go on Tuesday."

On Hardball Talk we get a glimpse at what Berkman told Mills following Sunday's game:
"You can run me out there for about 10 or 15 games and see what happens. I wouldn't say it's completely behind me, but I would say it's good enough to get out there and play. I hadn't played a game in five weeks, so obviously not just my knee, but every part of me is kind of sore, just because I hadn't been in game action. I anticipate being in the lineup on Tuesday and not coming out of it until the end of the year."

Justice: Be patient, be vewwy vewwy patient

Richard Justice tells us to be patient with this group of Astros, and he's right. The Astros have won three of their last four games, and while that still translates into a 3-9 record, the patience could pay off.

On Mills:
...They helped Brad Mills pass his first big test as manager. Even if you didn't think this team was any good, even if you thought the Astros were cashing their own check for almost a decade of dumb decisions, you had to feel terrible for Mills. He had paid his dues and then some for this opportunity, and suddenly he was in an organization caught someplace between a depressing present and uncertain future.

Tal, on Paulino, Wandy, and by extension, pitcher development:
“Pitchers develop at different speeds. Wandy wasn't a finished product when he got to the big leagues, but look where he is now. Patience isn't easy.”

(Where, exactly, is Wandy now? Is he considered a finished project?)

On what happens next:
If you're thinking big picture, the starting pitching has been just about as good as the Astros hoped. In the first seven games, Astros starters were 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA. In the last five, they're 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA. Now Lance Berkman could be back in the lineup Tuesday when the Astros begin a new homestand. Berkman is the guy who preached both optimism and patience this spring. Few could have imagined how much both would be tested the first two weeks.

Eddie's Farm: April 18

Round Rock

The Zephyrs never stood a chance. Round Rock jumped out to a 5-0 lead after three innings, and tacked on four more on their way to a 9-1 win. Maybe they should hold on to Berkman. Josh Banks continued his impressive start to the 2010 season, throwing 6.2IP, 7H/1ER, 3K:0BB, and the lone run coming off a home run by Danny Richar. T.J. Burton finished it off with 2.1IP of 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB relief. Again, the big story was the presence of Lance Berkman in the lineup. He was 3x4 with two doubles and a homer (2RBI and three runs scored). Matt Kata was 3x4, and Edwin Maysonet, Brian Bogusevic, Collin DeLome, and Jason Castro all had two hits, as well. DeLome's two hits were both of the kind in which the ball leaves the bat, and doesn't come down until it has cleared the fence.

Man of the Match: Since I refuse to give a MotM to a major-leaguer on a rehab assignment, this goes to Collin DeLome and his 2HR/4RBI day.

Corpus Christi

Erick Abreu and C-Lo ruined a perfectly good start by Fernando Abad, and the Hooks lost 3-1. Abad threw 5IP, 6H/0ER, 2K:1BB (ERA: 0.90), and a balk. Erick Abreu and C-Lo threw the next 3IP, allowing 4H/3ER, 0K:2BB before Matt Nevarez threw a blank IP. The Hooks only got four hits - two from Marcos Cabral and one each from Jack Shuck and Brian Esposito, who also had the only XBH - a triple.

Man of the Match: Fernando Abad.

Lancaster

JetHawks pitchers Kyle Greenwalt and David Berner threw a gem yesterday, but errors made the game closer than necessary, though the JetHawks prevailed 4-2. Greenwalt threw 6IP, 4H/1R (0ER), 6K:1BB and Berner threw 3IP, 2H/1R (0ER), 5K:0BB. Jay Austin and David Flores made fielding errors for the two unearned runs. The top five spots in the order got all six hits, and Austin and Flores made up for their fielding by both hitting 2-run homers. 6-9 in the order were a combined 0x11.

Man of the Match: Kyle Greenwalt

Lexington

Tanner Bushue threw 5IP, 4H/3R (2ER), 5K:3BB, but the Legends' offense was too stout for the Greenville Drive, and the Legends were victorious, 6-3. Jose Trinidad and Kirk Clark combined for 4IP, 4H/0ER, 6K:1BB. Everyone got a hit, except for young Grant Hogue (who did reach, on a walk). Jake Goebbert and Jonathan Meyer had multi-hit games - Meyer with 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Meyer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Recap for G12: Astros @ Cubs

And that's a two-game win streak, and that's a series win. The Astros go to extra innings for the first time this season with some unlikely heroics, and defeat the Cubs 3-2.

Why They Won
The Cubs left three on base in the 9th/10th innings, and Geoff Blum, Pedro Feliz, and Jeff Keppinger got crucial hits/RBIs late to propel the Astros to their first series win of the seaon. Add to that Wandy's excellent ND, and that's why they won.

Astros Pitching






NameIPH/ERK:BBPit-StrCS/SS
Wandy76/23:1105-66 (62.9%)19/13
Moehler10/00:014-9 (64.3%)2/1
Byrdak10/01:225-12 (48%)3/4
Lindstrom11/03:020-13 (65%)4/3


Give it up to the bullpen, who allowed three baserunners - two walks by Byrdak and a hit off Lindstrom - in innings 8-10. Moehler was perfect in his IP, and that was good to see. His scoreless inning drops his ERA to 5.79, and Lindstrom struck out the side for his second save of the season. Wandy threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 27 batters, and though he didn't get the win, he was excellent in his third start of the season.

Astros hitting

Carlos Lee was 0x5. Let's start there. He's hitting .104. Let's repeat. Carlos Lee, after two weeks, is hitting .104. However, Hunter Pence was 2x4. Here a little later we'll get into how big Lance Berkman was in Round Rock, and hopefully this will keep El Caballo from getting all sweaty and nervous at the plate. Otherwise, Jeff Keppinger was 2x4 with a walk and an RBI, and is currently hitting .371. Pence and Blum had the other multi-hit games, and Jason Michaels had a crucial hit.

Against Dempster, the Astros were 5x28. After it was turned over to the Cubs' bullpen, the Astros were 4x8 with a walk and two sac flies to send the game from 2-1 Cubs to 3-2 Astros. Geoff Blum hit a one-out double, scoring Hunter Pence, who may not have scored had he not stolen second base off Marmol. When Michaels led off the 10th with a double, Bourn sac'ed him over to third, and Happy Pete's sac fly scored the winning run.

Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (0x2, 2BB) - 25 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence (2x4) - 8 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Wandy Rodriguez. Overcame his rough history at Wrigley to dominate the Cubs.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. Sir, you are a non-factor in this lineup.

Who We Got - G12: Astros @ Cubs

The Astros are shooting for their first win streak, and series win, at 1:20 Central today at Miller Park South Wrigley.

Who We Got

Chicago: 5-6, 3rd place, 2GB
At home: 3-2
Vs. Houston: 1-1
Runs scored/Against: 50/55

Houston: 2-9, 6th place, 5GB
Road: 2-3
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 25/55

Starting Pitchers

Ryan Dempster: 1-0, 4.38 ERA / 1.30 WHIP
Last two games:
(vMIL - Apr 12) 6.1IP, 7H/5ER, 5K:4BB
(@ATL - Apr 7) 6IP, 3H/1ER, 9K:2BB

Wandy Rodriguez: 0-2, 6.10 ERA / 1.74 WHIP
Last two games:
(@STL - Apr 12) 4.1IP, 7H/4ER, 0K:2BB
(vSF - Apr 6) 6IP, 7H/3ER, 4K:4BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because the Astros hit Dempster to a .297/.346/.419 line. Hunter Pence is 8x23 (.348/.348/.652), and Carlos Lee is 8x24 (.333/.333/.542). Expect Jeff Keppinger to get another start today - he's 9x18 with two doubles against Dempster lifetime.

Because Dempster in 51 plate appearances, Dempster has thrown 25 first-pitch strikes (22 FPBs, and four first-pitch swinging). When he throws an FPS, batters are 7x25 with 4XBH).

Because, while Wandy has had four straight NDs against Chicago, he has a 2.84 ERA against the Cubs in his last five starts. His last start at Wrigley was July 27, when he threw 7IP, 6H/1ER, 7K:2BB.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because Dempster has given up a slash line of .222/.327/.400 in two starts this season.

Because Wandy has had some trouble with walks, and this Cubs team knows how to walk against Wandy - drawing 17. And Derrek Lee is .483/.568/.897 lifetime against Wandy.

First-pitch balls. Wandy has thrown 19 of them, and has been tagged to a .467/.579/.667 line after doing so.

Or because of Wandy's history at Wrigley. I know it was a Why They'll Win, but Wandy is 1-3 in six starts at Wrigley, with a 6.68 ERA / 1.74 WHIP.

Berkman and Bennett on Berkman

Ricky Bennett was encouraged by Berkman's start last night in Round Rock:

Bennett:
"I was glad to see that he came out of tonight's game healthy and had a couple of good swings. It didn't seem like he was favoring (his knee) at all; we talked to the training staff (following the game) and there is no swelling and he feels fine."

Berkman, on what has transpired this season without him, and the impact he'll have:
"I don't expect to jump in there and we're going to score 10 runs a game. It doesn't work like that, but it will be good to get back my spot in the lineup and it will help some of the other guys moving to where they need to be hitting. If we get the same type of pitching that we've gotten from our starters all year we're going to be a good ball team. The record doesn't look good right now but I'm encouraged by the way the guys have thrown the ball."

It looks like OremLK will be closer than I was on the prediction of when Berkman will return. He said April 24, I said May 1. So there you go.

T.J. Burton promoted

Round Rock

T.J. Burton was brought up to Round Rock from Corpus yesterday. In three games for the Hooks, Burton has thrown 6IP, 4H/1ER, 2K:1BB with the lone run coming off a solo homer.

Eddie's Farm: April 17

Round Rock

Wesley Wright spotted the Zephyrs a 3-0 lead, and while the Express came back for a 4-3 lead, Roy Corcoran and Jonah Bayliss each gave up a run for a 5-4 loss to New Orleans. Wright threw 5IP, 5H/3ER, 5K:1BB in the no-decision. Edwin Maysonet was 2x3, and Brian Bogusevic hit his 1st homer of the year. Jason Castro was 0x3 with a walk, lowering his average to .200, but his OBP is .333 and he's been on base in each of the last six games. But the big story in the lineup was the presence of Lance Berkman in the three-spot. Let's take a gander at his ABs:

1st inning: Flyout to CF
3rd inning: Strikeout looking
5th inning: Sac fly (RBI) to RF

The best news is that there was no swelling, and Berkman will play seven innings today.

Man of the Match: Brian Bogusevic

Corpus Christi

Because of the wet conditions in Corpus, the Hooks and Drillers played a pair of 7-inning games (why haven't the Astros thought of that!).

G1: Jordan Lyles dealt it as the Hooks won 5-0. Lyles threw 6IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:0BB, throwing 56 of his 81 pitches for strikes, getting nine groundouts, four flyouts, and five strikeouts. Danny Meszaros finished it off with 2Ks in 1IP. Offensively, it was clicking. German Duran and David Cook were both 3x3, with Cook coming within a homer of the cycle, and 2RBI. Lou Santangelo hit his 3rd homer of the season, and Koby Clemens hit his 4th homer.

Man of the Match: Jordan Lyles

G2: Corpus must have used up all those runs early, as they out-hit the Drillers 5-3, but fell short in a 1-0 loss. Tyler Lumsden threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 0K:0BB, and one of Marcos Cabral's three errors led to Henry Villar giving up an unearned run for the hard luck loss. Jack Shuck was 2x4, while David Cook got another hit, and Lumsden getting a base knock of his own.

Man of the Match: Tyler Lumsden

Lancaster

The JetHawks scored five in the 2nd to get a 5-1 lead, but then gave up the next eight runs to lose 9-5 to Rancho Cucamonga. Shane Wolf threw 5.1IP, 7H/4R (3ER), 3K:1BB; Ashton Mowdy threw 2.2IP, 4H/4R (2ER), 2K:1BB, and Brian Wabick threw 1IP, 2H/1ER, 1K:1BB in a sloppy game in both pitching and defense. Three erros - by Albert Cartwright, Ebert Rosario, and Mark Ori - led to three unearned runs. Freddy Parejo was 2x4 with 2RBI (and has six hits in his last 12ABs), while Raul Contreras, Jordan Comadena, and Jay Austin contributed the other RBI. The JetHawks are now 1-8.

Man of the Match: Freddy Parejo

Lexington

Greenville jumped out to a 5-0 lead, and that's pretty much all it took in a 5-3 win over Lexington. Brandt Walker got the start, going 4IP, 3H/5ER, 4K:3BB, and 2WP. Arcenio Leon and Mike Schurz threw the next 5IP, combining for 4H/0ER, 2K:1BB. J.D. Martinez was 2x4 with an RBI, and Kody Hinze hit another homer. Jose Altuve was 1x4 with an RBI. Our boy Aaron Bray is in a little slump, and is two for his last 21.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

Notez!

Bernardo Fallas' Notes Column has a few interesting things:

Towles, with a captip to Sean Berry:
"I've been struggling here of late, and I've just been working on the cage with Sean. I think things are starting to fall into place. I'm just seeing the ball and hitting the ball, keeping it simple. I really worked on getting my hands up and have been working on my load and not loading too much."
-
Why I love Brad Mills:
“The situation with Kaz is Keppinger has been playing very well, and Kaz is going through a little streak."
-
And the Astros are cutting tickets by 40% for the homestand against the Marlins this week, and the Padres next month. Go to Astros.com and enter "travzoo" to receive the discount.

Enter "AstrosCounty" and watch your computer crash.