Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lyles is Keith Law's 13th-ranked Futures Game prospect

It's an Insider-only column, but Keith Law breaks down the Futures Game rosters by rank. Jordan Lyles is 13th:

The Astros were mocked by a few teams when they took Lyles in the sandwich round in 2008, but he was a late bloomer whose velocity kept increasing his senior year of high school. He's dominating Class A despite being nine days younger than phenom Shelby Miller. He's got a good changeup and will show a cutter, curve, and fastball up to 94.

Rosenthal: Doubtful Roy will get traded

In Smilin' Ken Rosenthal's Full Count video, the Yankees apparently won't be in on Roy, and furthermore, he doesn't think Roy will get dealt because the Astros aren't willing to take on enough of his contract.

This, to me, sounds like Early July Talk.


July 9

Lexington placed Jose Trinidad placed on 7-Day DL
Brenden Stines assigned to Lexington from Tri-City
P Ryan McCurdy assigned to Tri-City from Greeneville

Maybe the Dodgers made this harder for themselves

According to, the Dodgers wouldn't send Double-A SS Dee Gordon to the Mariners. Or James Loney. Or Chad Billingsley. It didn't make any sense for them to offer those players, anyway, but still. It obviously wasn't that serious of a deal. You can't offer ten nickels for a dollar.

So who's interested in Roy?

With Cliff Lee being dealt, our prediction of the Rangers as Roy's destination has now fallen by the wayside (though with the ownership in question, it looked less and less likely as the days went on). So who's interested?

Here's who we know are looking for pitching, or at least are giving that indication by going hard after Lee:

New York Yankees
New York Mets
Minnesota Twins
Los Angeles Dodgers

The Reds would need the Astros to pick up a major chunk of Roy's contract, but have the prospects. They're obviously also within the division.

The Yankees were all over Lee, but with Jesus Montero as the chief trading chip. Montero is a catcher, but there are questions about his ability to actually catch. If the Astros wanted Montero, they would shift his position - what with Jason Castro entrenched behind the plate.

The Mets are balking at what the Astros want - though this can change as we get closer to the deadline.

The Twins look like they really want pitching to bolster their rotation, having lost 11 of their last 16 games. Denard Span:
"I don't think anybody would get offended, or if anybody is naïve enough to think that if the organization goes out and brings in some help that they're saying we can't do it on our own. I don't think anybody would take it that way. We want to do whatever it takes to win a championship. That's how this game is. If we can get better, I don't think anything's wrong with that. Even in this room, when we got the guys we got last year, I think everybody, if anything, was happy because the organization gave us some help to get over the hump, and it worked."

The Dodgers were in on Lee, but there are questions about the level of prospects they could offer, and whether they would be suitable for Houston.

So were the Reds

And the Reds were in on Cliff Lee, as well, with Walt Jocketty saying that they were right there with the Yankees and Rangers:

“We made a pretty substantial offer. They liked Texas’ offer better. It was a deal we wanted to get done. We wanted to show the club we’re doing what we can to get better. They’re doing their job on the field; we’re trying to do our job in the front office to keep us where we’re at.”

According to Jocketty, there's no one else out there like Lee:
“As I said the other day, we were looking for significant upgrade. This guy was significant upgrade. I’m not sure there’s another one like him out there."

Would the Reds trade for Oswalt? He's owed a lot of money, and it's the same question about whether the Astros would trade within the division. If the Astros are going to deal Roy in the NLC, I (personally) would rather Roy go to the Reds than the Cardinals, but it's doubtful The Apparatus would see it that way.

Dodgers were in on Lee, needs haven't changed

So the Dodgers were very much in on Cliff Lee before the Mariners traded him to the Rangers.

According to A Source:
The Dodgers counter-proposed several scenarios, one or the other of which included every valued prospect in the Dodgers' minor league system save one, which the source declined to identify. Common sense suggests that lone untouchable prospect probably was Double-A Chattanooga shortstop Dee Gordon, widely considered to be the Dodgers' top prospect.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti:
"We're still looking to add pitching, either (a starter or reliever). We're getting to a point in the season where if there is an opportunity to improve our club in any way, shape or form, even if it's in a small way, we have to take a look at it. And pitching is always the area in which you're most vulnerable."

Colletti later went on to note that this is the first stretch of the season that all five Dodger starting pitchers have been anything close to consistent.

If the Dodgers wouldn't give up Dee Gordon for Cliff Lee, it's doubtful he'd be part of a package for Oswalt.

Roy, Lance address trade questions. But more Lance than Roy.

Now that Cliff Lee has gone to the Rangers (sigh), teams will start to turn their attention elsewhere - more on that in posts to come (you should see the sheer number of tabs that are open in this browser). So Bernardo Fallas talked to Roy and Lance.

"It's going to have to work out for both of us (he and the Astros) before anybody does it. We will wait and see what comes up."

“We haven’t been in a spot where we were sellers of anybody going into the trading deadline. This year’s going to be a lot different; I think everybody in the league expects us to trade everyone that we can trade. Consequently, I’m sure my name will come up and Roy's name has already come up, and I’m sure you’ll hear other rumors.”

Let's interrupt really quickly here. This is the first time the Astros have decided they were sellers at the deadline. It's not the first time they should have been sellers. Big difference.

Continue, Lance:
“It’s going to be tough to get a deal done. Because there’s big contracts involved, injury concerns – I’m 34 and Oswalt is 32 — so you’re getting into that range where teams are looking a little more closely. And you have to look at it through the Astros’ standpoint; they have to get value in return.”

So where would you go, Lance?
“Having the opportunity to go to a first-place team or something like that, you have to listen. I’m not saying that I would go anywhere, but I would certainly listen to anything that any organization has to say.”

From the Office of the County Clerk - G87: Astros v. Cardinals

So Bud Norris is fallible against the Cardinals, as they finally solve him in an 8-0 win.

*Norris enjoyed 26 great innings, and even got in 33 good innings, against the Cardinals before Matt Holliday tagged him for a three-run homer in the 8th to turn a 2-0 game into a 5-0 game.

*Norris has given up 15ER in the 1st-2nd innings (24IP), with 31K:12BB. The inning he gets touched up the most in is the 5th - 11ER in nine different 5th innings, and a 1.076 OPS-against.

*Norris also only threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 31 batters he faced. For the season, he has thrown 130 first-pitch strikes and 128 first-pitch balls. Strangely enough, the Cardinals were patient against Norris, only going after the first-pitch twice (1x2, a Rasmus double to right). That's odd, because when opposing batters swing at Norris' first pitch, they were previously 16x22.

*Byrdak had his first out-less outing of the season, brought in to face John Jay, who doubles, and Tyler Greene, who walked.

*Gustavo Chacin came in to pitch the 9th, and didn't fare so well. Skip Schumaker reached on an infield single, Felipe Lopez doubled to score him, and Brendan Ryan flied out. So naturally in comes Casey Daigle, who promptly gave up a 415-foot homer to Pujols.

*And it turns out the offense doesn't do as well when not facing the Pirates. The Astros were shutout for the 9th time this season, and now have a .642 OPS. All six hits they recorded were singles, and that's the 12th game the Astros haven't had an extra-base hit.

*It's the 17th game that the opposing pitcher has enjoyed a Game Score of 70+ (Wainwright last night: 71)

*The Astros were 0x3 against Wainwright when reaching a three-ball count, and 1x8 when ahead in the count.

*Only Berkman was able to get on base more than once, with a 1x2, 2BB night. Berkman's OPS has risen from .770 to .836 in these past four games. From June 9-July 9, Berkman has hit .258/.394/.551, with 13 of his 23 hits coming for extra-bases, 24K:20BB.

*In that same span, Carlos Lee (0x3 last night) has gone .260/.330/.420, with eight extra-base hits, 7K:11BB.

*Jason Castro was 1x4 last night, getting his second hit since June 29 (2x21).

Pitch Count Hero: Lance Berkman (1x2, 2BB) - 19 pitches in four PAs.

Pitch Count Punk: Angel Sanchez (1x3) - 10 pitches in three PAs.

Man of the Match: Lance Berkman, I suppose.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. 0x3, GIDP and ended two of the first six innings (when the game was manageable).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mets can't afford Roy, not interested in Brett

The New York Daily News' Andy Martino helps console Mets fans, who had warmed up to the idea of watching Cliff Lee pitch - just not on YES.

Club officials believe that Houston ace Roy Oswalt is imminently available, but the Houston righty remains a longshot to join the Mets. Astros owner Drayton McLane still wants top prospects and significant salary relief, and the Mets will not consent to those terms. Unless the terms change, Oswalt will not pitch for the home team in Queens.

The team is also down on the idea of adding mid-rotation help like Cleveland's Jake Westbrook, Houston's Brett Myers or other back-end starters. They might revise this outlook if the market demands they do, but the Mets would prefer right now to focus on the front of the rotation.

"Good chance" the Twins will focus on Roy

If the Twins have, in fact, lost out to the Yankees on Cliff Lee, they'll likely focus on Roy, says the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

This development could stir other interested teams into action. Would the Twins be willing to offer another top prospect in addition to Lee? History says no. If this goes down, there's a good chance the Twins would focus on Houston righthander Roy Oswalt, who would like to pitch for a contender.

Things Is Starting To Heat Up!

It's about to become a lot more interesting to be an Astros fan as the rumors are starting to fly about where Roy is going. Smilin' Ken Rosenthal says (and here) that:

Source: Market for Oswalt "slow," could heat up post-Lee. Couple of teams in. Roy O has no-trade. #Astros reluctant to pick up big $$$...

...Oswalt ruling out #Tigers, #WhiteSox, others.

So Roy is starting with 30 teams and eliminating them as he goes, eh?

But Smilin' Ken's teammate, Jon Paul Morosi says Rick Porcello's start in Toledo has been pushed back. Is it related?

The Tigers are reluctant to part with Porcello for a two- or three-month rental. It’s more plausible that they would move him for a pitcher who would be under control for multiple seasons beyond 2010.

The current trade market includes two pitchers who match that description: Houston’s Roy Oswalt and Arizona’s Dan Haren. However, one source told senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal that Oswalt would not waive his no-trade clause to come to Detroit.

Two of Eddie's Farm on the Not-So-Hot Sheet

Baseball America released their Prospect Hot Sheet, and there are a couple of Astros prospects who are on the wrong side of it:

Jordan Lyles:
We don't want to be too hard on Lyles. After all, the 19-year-old's had a tremendous season as the youngest pitcher in the Double-A Texas League. But the fact remains that Lyles has been fairly hittable lately. He surrendered 10 hits in six innings on June 25, his last start before the TL's all-star break, then had his shortest outing of the season Tuesday at Northwest Arkansas. Lyles failed to make it out of the fourth inning against the Naturals, allowing six runs (all earned) on eight hits and six walks he hadn't walked more than four in any previous start over 3 1/3 innings.

Jay Austin:
Early in the year, Austin looked like a breakout prospect just waiting to happen. A month into the season, Austin, 19, was hitting .322/.388/.539, drawing nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Now? Austin's season has taken a tumble, as he's down to .257/.305/.401 with 22 walks and 72 strikeouts in 351 plate appearances, numbers that are even worse when you consider he gets to play half his games in high Class A Lancaster.

Joel Sherman turns his attention to the Mets

After breaking the news that the Yankees and Mariners were close on Cliff Lee, Joel Sherman has set his sights on breaking news about the Mets.

Word is the Yankees getting Lee is devastating to the Mets, so they'll need to counter. So, Joel, what about Roy?

Mets now turn strongly to Lilly because Astros still want too much and will pay too little of Oswalt's contract.

Further reading from Sherman:
If the Lee trade gets completed, the Mets will be fully focused on a starter elsewhere. Yes, they like Roy Oswalt. But Mets officials continue to say that Houston is unwilling to pay anything but a small amount of the $15 million Oswalt is due this year, the $16 million next or the $2 million buyout on a $16 million option for 2012, but are still insisting on major prospects.

That is why the Mets remained focus on Ted Lilly of the Cubs. They see him as the best fallback position after an obvious ace such as Lee or Oswalt.

And now Heyman weighs in:
Mets scouted Oswalt, Haren, Lilly. (Though) Lilly is most likely, 1) hes not quite available yet, 2) his velocity is down.

Lyles in the "26-50" prospect category

Baseball America released their Top 25 Midseason Prospect list today.

Where might you find Jordan Lyles? Scroll down, because he's in alphabetical order in the 26-50 range.

Javier Vazquez prettier than Roy

Buster Olney challenges (and here) our notion that Roy is behind Door #2 as the most attractive free agent after Cliff Lee:

The Yankees will not have a hard time moving Javier Vazquez if they get Cliff Lee; he moves ahead of Roy Oswalt as the most attractive pitcher on the market, because he is pitching well, he is apparently healthy, and he is cheaper than Oswalt.

Yes, but I doubt the Yankees trade Vazquez to Tampa Bay.

Why the Rays make the most sense for Roy

Late last night, the New York Post's Joel Sherman broke that the Yankees were hot and heavy in talks with Seattle over Cliff Lee.

We know, thanks to McTaggart, that the Rays (among others) had scouts at the game yesterday looking at Roy - which leads to a larger point: What do major-league teams need to see from Roy that they don't already know? - presumably to scout him for a trade.

After Sherman's report, and the rumors discussing things like "finalized today," it seems as though the Yankees have just about locked it up. Which means there's a problem in the AL East, because the Yankees will have four All-Stars in the rotation (I guess they weren't content to let the Heat become the most-hated team in sports), and the Rays and Red Sox getting left behind.

At the close of play yesterday, the Yankees have a two-game lead on Tampa Bay, and a five-game lead on Boston. Boston has endured a staggering number of injuries, and - barring some Willis Reed s**t - I can't imagine them being able to hang with both TB and NYY. So let's just stop talking about the Red Sox right now.

The Rays have three games remaining with Cleveland before the All-Star Break, after which they meet, yes, the Yankees. Since Roy pitched yesterday, if this trade went down immediately, he could feasibly face the Yankees on the Saturday or Sunday game. And wouldn't the Rays love that?

The Rays' post-ASG is fairly brutal once you get past the first two series, until the second week of August: @BAL, @CLE, vDET, vNYY (again), vMIN. More importantly for the Rays, they still have 12 games against the Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Yankees post-ASG schedule is as follows: vTB, vLAA, vKC, @CLE, @TB.

On to Tampa Bay's case for Roy: (1) Gerry Hunsicker. (2) Jim Hickey.

Hunsicker was The Man when Oswalt was drafted. And while Jim Hickey was Roy's pitching coach (mid-04 to end of 2006) Roy posted a 55-30 record, with a 3.14 ERA/1.21 WHIP. His ERA+ declined in each year from 2007-09.

So what would Tampa Bay give up? If the Astros pay a decent chunk of his salary, I'm guessing two good prospects. The Rays have four of Keith Law's Top 100 prospects. Since the Astros are pretty much set at outfield for the next few years, I can't imagine them asking for OF Desmond Jennings, which may suit the Rays as they plan for life without Carl Crawford.

Six of Keith Law's Top 10 Rays prospects are pitchers, and I could see the Astros wanting Jeremy Hellickson, who is 11-2 with a 3.18 ERA/1.14 WHIP (and 104K:26BB) at Triple-A Durham, and is just 23.

And probably Alex Torres, a 22-year old LHP with a 2.91 ERA/1.38 WHIP in Double-A and 91K in 83.2IP. Or Jake McGee, about to be 24-year old LHP with 79K in 67IP. Or LHP Matt Moore, who is just now 21, and has posted 398K:153BB in 283.2IP in 3+ seasons and is currently in High-A ball with 116Ks in 86IP.

It's incredibly doubtful that the Rangers will be able to add Roy before the deadline. The Mets don't like his price tag. The Twins could be players if the Yankees land Lee. But the fact is, the Rays have pitching to spare, and with Oswalt gone, and likely Myers, and maybe Wandy, the Astros will need to load up on pitching. The Rays would be motivated to stay in at least the Wild Card race (currently three games up on Boston) if the Yankees land Cliff Lee, and Prize B is Roy.

The sale of the Rangers will impact whether the Astros stay in Round Rock

Good article in The Oklahoman this morning on the fates of the RedHawks/Express franchises being tied to the sale of the Rangers:

If the Ryan-Greenberg group buys the Rangers, there has been speculation that Texas could shift its Triple-A affiliate to Round Rock. That would leave Oklahoma City looking for a new Major League affiliate — and the Astros searching for a new Triple-A site.

Oklahoma City was the top farm team for the Astros over the 1962-72 seasons.

Round Rock is slightly closer to Arlington than Oklahoma City, but it would allow Ryan to have his interests closer together. But if another group buys the Rangers, or the sale remains in the air for much longer, it becomes more likely the Rangers continue their Triple-A partnership with Oklahoma City.

Jeez, Berkman, just shut up!

Bernardo Fallas writes the impending eulogy for Roy's career in Houston, canonizing Oswalt's potential last start against the Pirates yesterday afternoon.

Was Roy thinking about getting traded?
"That's the business part of it. The best part about it is when you step across the white lines you don't have to worry about it; you just go out there and play the game."

And then Berkman comes along and pisses in everyone's purple drank:
"Nothing's happened yet, and it may not happen. I don't know that we need to start singing his swan song just yet with the Astros."

Wah wah waaah.

We do see an interesting quote in USA Today:
"They pay you to pitch and that's what I'm going to do until it's time to go somewhere else."

Wade doesn't hear "impact" thrown around too often

But that word, as well as "upside" is exactly what's being said about new international signee Ariel Ovando:

"I talk to our guys about a lot of players, and I don't hear 'impact' and this type of upside being thrown around very often. It was a case worth making, and Drayton McLane and Tal were very receptive to us pursuing it."

Ovando will report to the new Dominican facility for the rest of the year, and will begin his pro career in 2011.


July 8

-Yordany Ramirez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Round Rock.
-Corpus placed T.J. Steele on the 7-day Dal.
-Assigned Brian Pellegrini to Lancaster from GCL Astros
-Assigned Freddy Parejo to Corpus from Lancaster

Eddie's Farm: July 8

Round Rock

The Express had a 6-3 lead heading into the eighth, and that didn't last as Oklahoma City got two in the 8th and one in the 9th to tie it before Jonah Bayliss allowed a single, walk, single in the 12th. Oklhaoma City wins 7-6. Josh Banks allowed 9H/3ER, 3K:0BB in 6.2IP. Polin Trinidad struck out both batters he faced. Roy Corcoran gave up 3H/2ER in 0.2IP, and Gary Majewski allowed 3H/1ER in 2IP. Jonah Bayliss took the loss with 3H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 2IP. Matt Kata was 3x6 with two doubles and two RBIs. Drew Locke (3B, RBI) and Wladimir Sutil had two hits each. Brian Bogusevic hit his 10th homer of the year, also drawing a walk.

Man of the Match: Matt Kata.


Those Hooks can't catch a break, losing 2-1 to Tulsa, running the losing streak to 13 games. Five of those 13 games have been one-run losses. Tyler Lumsden threw 6.2IP, 6H/2ER, 3K:1BB in the loss, while Evan Englebrook threw 2.1 perfect innings. Jon Gaston and Marcos Cabral had two hits each, while Jack Shuck was 1x4 for the other hit. Koby Clemens was 0x3 with 3K:1BB.

Man of the Match: Tyler Lumsden


And the JetHawks get blanked by Rancho Cucamonga 7-0. Pat Urckfitz threw 6IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:2BB, but it was Edwin Walker who allowed 4H/4ER, and Kyle Godfrey threw two perfect innings. It was all singles for the JetHawks: Austin, Cruz, Flores, and Simunic.

Man of the Match: Pat Urckfitz


Bad loss for the Legends, who were leading 8-1 in the 6th inning, and ended up losing 10-9 in 10 innings. Jose Cisnero allowed 4H/3ER, 5K:6BB in 5IP. Arcenio Leon gave up 3H/2R (1ER) without recording an out, Wander Alvino walked two in 2IP. Kirk Clark allowed 3H/3ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP and Mike Schurz took the blown save and loss with 2H/2R (1ER), 2K:2BB in 1.1IP. Overshadowed by the loss was the fact that the offense blew up. J.D. Martinez was 5x5 with a double and two homers for six RBI. Rene Garcia (2B, BB) was 3x4, and Goebbert, Bray, Mier, and Garcia added doubles.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez


Big win for the ValleyCats last night as they dominated Staten Island 9-2. Jake Buchanan threw 5IP, 4H/2R (1ER), 3K:0BB, while Alex Sogard (1.2IP, 4K), Jason Chowning (1.1IP, 2K:1BB), and Chris Blazek (1IP, 1K) held it down for the win. Ben Orloff, Ben Heath, and Tyler Burnett had two hits each, Enrique Hernandez was 1x4 with 3RBI, and Adam Bailey was 1x5 with 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Ben Heath (2x5, 2B, 3R)


If you were not at the Greeneville/Pulaski game last night, you not only missed 28 runs, 36 hits, and five errors, but also Martial Arts Night. Still, Greeneville was up 14-4 after four innings, and then had to withstand a Pulaski rally to hold on for a 16-12 win. Euris Quezada threw 5IP, 9H/5ER, 5K:2BB. B.J. Hagen followed it up with 2IP, 1H/1ER. Jamaine Cotton had the roughest night, allowing 5H/5ER in 0.1IP, while Ryan Cole himself allowed 3H/1ER in 0.1IP. Brian Streilein threw the only scoreless outing, with 1H/0ER in 1.1IP. Jhonny Medrano, Telvin Nash, and Chris Wallace all hit homers as Wallace went 4x5 with 3RBI, Medrano was 3x6 with 4RBI, Ricardo Garcia was 3x5 with 2RBI, and Nash was 1x3 with 2BB. Jonathan Merritt also drew two walks.

Man of the Match: Chris Wallace.

GCL Astros

And the GCL Astros beat the GCL Nationals 8-5. Luis Ordosgoitti allowed 8H/3ER in 4IP, and Mark Jones recorded the win with 2H/1ER, 2K:2BB in 3IP. Dieudone Paul allowed his first earned run of the season, with 3H/1ER, 0K:3BB in 2IP. Jose Monzon was 3x4 with a homer and two RBI, Ryan Ditthardt was 2x3 with two doubles and 3RBI, and Rafael Valenzuela was 2x4 with a two-run homer.

Man of the Match: Jose Monzon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From the Office of the County Clerk - G86: Astros v. Pirates

Roy dominates and the Astros sweep the Pirates, 2-0.

*Roy threw a one-hit, complete-game shutout. It's the first time he's thrown a complete game shutout since September 11, 2008 against...yes, the Pirates. It's the first time he's thrown a complete game shutout, with only one hit against the start before that one, on September 6, 2008 at Colorado.

*Roy's gem today was the second complete game for the Astros this season (Brett Myers - @ San Francisco on May 16).

*Oswalt faced 31 batters, tying for the lowest number of batters faced in a game by an Astros pitcher this season.

*Roy's 37 non-contact strikes (28 called/9 swinging) are the highest since May 26, at Milwaukee.

*Roy's 91 Game Score ties his career high from April 16, 2004 - a three-hit, 10K CG shutout of the Brewers.

*The Astros have won three straight games for the sixth time this season. Season-high is four games, which they've done twice.

*Berkman had the 25th multi-homer game of his career, providing both runs for the Astros. 180 of his 325 home runs have been solo homers. The second homer today was on the first pitch, the 64th such homer of his career. He's now only 124 homers short of Jeff Bagwell for the franchise lead.

*With his first homer of the day, Berkman did score his 1000th run, becoming the third Astro to achieve that feat. I think you know the first two.

*Berkman has now hit five homers in four games for the first time since August 29-September 1, 2004.

*Angel Sanchez collected the first triple of his career.

*Jason Castro, after an 0x4 day, is 1x14 for July.

*And after getting 14 hits against the Rangers, Brewers, and Padres, Chris Johnson finished the Pittsburgh series 0x11.

Pitch Count Hero: Keppinger (0x4) and Castro (0x4) - 21 pitches in four PAs.

Pitch Count Punk: Sanchez (1x3) - eight pitches in three PAs. (Roy matched this, but pitchers are exempt from Pitch Count Hero/Punk)

Man of the Match: It's hard to choose between Berkman and Oswalt, so we'll give it to both.

Goat of the Game: Jason Castro. Called a great game, but went 0x4, and 0x3 w/RISP.

Bunch of teams in Houston watch Oswalt

Brian McTaggart tweets that the Dodgers, Phillies, Rays, and Mets are in town to watch Roy today.

The Mets and Phillies have series against the Astros in mid-August. The Dodgers next face the Astros in mid-September. I doubt they're all here for game-planning.

McTaggart has a bucketful of notes

In McTaggart's notebook today we see a few things:

Moehler isn't worried about his groin:
"It's nothing that I'm overly concerned about. As far as the timing, it couldn't have come at a better time. I'll have four days off and four days after that [for the All-Star break], and if I do start again, it's going to be on the back end of the rotation, so that's another four days."

Everyone's really excited about Ariel Ovando. Right, Wade?
"Four different scouting reports say this kid is a middle-of-the-order power bat with fast hands, a 30-homer, 100-RBI potential kind of guy with good defensive skills and a strong arm. We'll see. A lot can happen."

Brad Mills likes the lefty Castro in the 6-spot, because Johnson is comfortable at #7:
"It seems like Johnson seems to be a little bit more comfortable in the seven spot. I like to have a left-handed hitter hitting in the sixth spot. It's a combination of things, like when Johnson is swinging the bat better and putting him up there at sixth, but I prefer to have a left-handed hitter like Castro hit sixth. If Johnson continues to swing the bat better at the seventh spot and that fits in with him, that's what we'd like to have happen."

John Royal: Forget Purpura, this is Wade's team

John Royal has a new column up over at Houston Press, and it challenges the notion that this isn't Ed Wade's team:

At the conclusion of Sunday's game with the Padres, 16 of the 25 players on the Astros major league roster were players brought on board by Ed Wade. This includes Michael Bourn, Pedro Feliz, Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon, and Brett Myers. It also includes Casey Daigle, Jeff Keppinger, Jason Michaels, Humberto Quintero, Angel Sanchez, Oswaldo Navarro, Jason Castro, Gustavo Chacin, Wilton Lopez, and Tim Byrdak. So for some guy who hasn't had much time to shape the roster, it sure looks like he's been doing some shaping.

It's a good point. But what about all those contracts?

Sure Wade has to deal with the stupid contract that McLane handed out to Carlos Lee, and the Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman contracts were handed out before he took the GM job. But anybody who has followed Wade's career, or knows how to Google, knows that Wade gave out stupid and unexplainable contracts to the likes of Jim Thome, Pat Burrell, and David Bell.So while he might not have been the one who signed Lee as a free agent, there is precedent to show that Wade would likely have been on board with that deal were he able to do it himself.

It's depressing in nature, and well worth a read. I've thought that Ed Wade had a perfect job, mainly because he can deflect poor decisions on to Tim Purpura and Drayton. I think most of us can agree that whatever happens with Roy will be Ed Wade's defining moment. What if he does nothing?

Hark! You can hear the approach of 2004 on your doorstep

The Astros are apparently giving Russ Springer a tryout.

I guess 29-year old Jonah Bayliss (2.84 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 4.00 K:BB ratio) isn't good enough to take a bullpen spot from the possibility of reviving the days of yore.

Let's just hope this is all going through some process.

Why does Hunter Pence get caught stealing so much?

Hunter Pence has stolen nine bases this season. And has been caught stealing five times. How is this possible, especially for a guy who is as fast as Pence? Let's take a look first at his stolen bases:

April 18 @ Chicago, vs RHP Carlos Marmol/righty Koyie Hill. 9th inning, 1 out.
Hill had been in the game only since the top of the inning. After Lee flied out, Pence singled on the first pitch. With Blum up, Pence took off on a 1-1 count, and later scored on Blum's double.

April 25 v. Pittsburgh, vs. RHP Charlie Morton/righty Ryan Doumit. 3rd inning, 2 out.
The Astros jumped on the Pirates in the third inning, helped by Pence's stolen base. Carlos Lee had stolen second (!) two batters before Pence had come up, and Berkman had walked immediately before Pence's AB. So when Pence reached on a fielder's choice, it scored Bourn to give the Astros a 3-1 lead. With Pedro Feliz up, Pence took off on a 1-0 pitch and stole second. He and Lee both scored on Pedro Feliz' single.

May 26 @ Milwaukee, vs. RHP Claudio Vargas/righty George Kottaras. 5th inning, 0 out.
Vargas had just entered the game with the Astros up 4-0. Pence drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk, and took off with Carlos Lee at bat on an 0-1 pitch. Lee later struck out swinging, but Pence scored on Berkman's single.

May 27 @ Milwaukee, vs. LHP Zach Braddock/righty George Kottaras. 7th inning, 0 out/1 out.
This was Pence's only multi-SB game of the season (so far). Braddock had just come in with a 3-2 lead, and Pence hit a leadoff single. With Berkman up, he stole second on a 1-2 pitch to Berkman, and stole third on the first pitch to Blum.

June 6 v. Chicago, vs. RHP Bob Howry/righty Koyie Hill. 8th inning, 2 out.
The Astros were ahead 6-3 when Pence drew an eight-pitch walk. With Feliz up two batters later, Pence took off on a 2-1 pitch and stole second.

June 13 @ New York Yankees, vs. RHP Phil Hughes/righty Jorge Posada. 1st inning, 1 out.
The Astros were up for their first turn against Hughes, and Bourn had gotten on first with a single. Keppinger had lined out, and Pence drew a six-pitch walk. With Carlos Lee up, both Bourn and Pence took off on a 1-1 count. Bourn scored on Lee's sac fly, and Cory Sullivan ended the inning.

June 22 v. San Francisco, vs. RHP Tim Lincecum/righty Bengie Molina. 4th inning, 1 out.
What looked like a hit-and-run with Pence on 1st with one out, and Chris Johnson at the plate, Johnson struck out swinging on a nine-pitch full count, and Pence was on the move, stealing second off Molina.

June 23 v. San Francisco, vs. RHP Guillermo Mota/righty Bengie Molina. 6th inning, 0 out.
Pence led off the inning with a single, and on a 1-0 count with Chris Johnson up, Pence stole second, later scoring on Johnson's double.

Okay, so here's what we have. Nine stolen bases against four teams (Brewers 3, Cubs 2, Giants 2, Yankees, and Pirates). Three stolen bases with no outs, four with one out, and two with two outs. Only three stolen bases against a starter, while six stolen bases came with the pitcher having just entered the game in that same inning. Eight of the nine stolen bases were off of RHPs.

Now, on to the Caught Stealings:

April 15 @ St. Louis, vs. RHP Kyle Lohse. 2nd inning, 1 out.
Lohse picks Pence off first with one out and the count at 1-1.

May 4 v. Arizona, vs. RHP Ian Kennedy/righty Chris Snyder. 6th inning, 1 out.
With the Astros down 1-0, Pence hit a first-pitch leadoff single. With a 2-1 count to Manzella, Pence was caught in a rundown (2-4-3-6) for the second out of the inning.

May 8 v. San Fiego, vs. RHP Jon Garland/righty Yorvit Torrealba. 5th inning, 1 out.
With the Astros down 1-0, Pence hit a first-pitch leadoff single. Pence took off on a 1-1 pitch to Matsui, and was thrown out for the second out of the game.

May 23 vs. Tampa Bay, vs. RHP Dan Wheeler/righty John Jaso. 7th inning, 1 out.
After Pence knocked in Keppinger to close the Rays' lead to 7-5, Pence was caught stealing one batter later on a 1-1 pitch to Carlos Lee.

July 3 @ San Diego, vs. RHP Kevin Correia/righty Nick Hundley. 2nd inning, 1 out.
Pence got a one-out single in the 2nd (game tied at 0-0), and with Jason Castro up, Pence took off on the seventh pitch of a 2-2 AB. Castro was called out on strikes, and Pence was thrown out to end the inning.

So what do we see here? Two of his five CSs were legit throw-outs by the catcher. One was a pickoff, one was a rundown, and one was a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. Of the 14 "attempts," eight were taken with a one-ball count. Only once did he run on the first pitch. In two instances was the hit-and-run on, and Pence was successful once. In four of the five CSs, Pence tried to run on the starting pitcher. One was Lohse's pickoff, but the other three were gun-downs.

So why can't Pence steal more bases? I don't know how often he has the green light, but he's been caught three times on a 1-1 count. All five of the times he's been caught have been when the Astros are tied or behind. Maybe he's just predictable.

Drayton vs. Nolan?

Interesting article regarding the sale of the Rangers in today's Dallas Morning-News.

Remember Jim Crane? He had apparently submitted an offer worth more than the Ryan-Greenberg group, but it was rejected on the part of the owners because they thought he was a douche for backing out of a handshake agreement to buy the Astros. So the Ryan-Greenberg bid was approved.

Except it's obviously not going so well. Now the Texas Attorney General is involved, and Jim Crane can't be counted out as the potential new owner of the Texas Rangers.

Sports Consultant Marc Ganis:
"What I am picking up in the industry is that Crane is now seen as an acceptable owner. There isn't this virulent opposition to him, in contrast to a number of weeks ago when the word was that Major League Baseball was for Nolan Ryan and Greenberg and no one else."

If Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane had been upset about Crane backing out of a 2008 deal to buy the Houston team, he apparently made clear he now holds no ill feeling, Ganis said.

Why would Drayton go out of his way to make clear that he had no problem with Jim Crane? Because he's a sweetheart, or because he's not real interested in seeing Nolan Ryan as a colleague?

Paulino to return July 20

Alright, we have a date for Paulino's return, and that date is July 20 in Chicago, barring any setbacks.

For his (short) career, Paulino is 0-2 at Wrigley, with 10H/7ER, 10K:5BB in 12IP, a 5.25 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He's pitched against the Cubs twice this season, going 1-1. On April 16, he allowed 6H/5ER, 3K:3BB in 6IP in a 7-2 loss, and threw 8IP, 5H/1ER, 7K:2BB on June 4 for his first win of the season.

If that's what the Mets need, then that's fine with us

Ken Davidoff's column today on Newsday describes the Mets' potential acquisition of a top-line pitcher (Lee, Oswalt, etc.) as a necessary step in separating themselves from Bernie Madoff. But trading for Roy wouldn't make "baseball sense," says Davidoff:

If the Mets don't make a trade this month because they can't afford to do so? Then Omar Minaya is wasting not only his own time right now, but also that of many opposing teams' officials.

Minaya and his staff are operating under the belief that they can add payroll. That doesn't mean that Oswalt, owed some $25 million, is coming in return for the top prospects the Astros want. We'd rip such a trade, as it wouldn't make baseball sense.

Can anyone else figure out how it wouldn't make baseball sense to trade for Roy?

Eddie's Farm: July 7

Round Rock

The Express finally got a win against Memphis, 7-2. Wesley Wright threw 6IP, 4H/1ER, 4K:2BB, Jonah Bayliss allowed one walk (4Ks) in 2IP, and Brad Thompson allowed 3H/1ER in the 9th. Collin DeLome (2x5, RBI), Tommy Everidge (2x4), Ramon Vazquez (2x3, BB), and Drew Locke (2x3, RBI, sac) had your multi-hit games, while Brian Bogusevic and Wladimir Sutil each drew a walk, hit, and RBI. Collin DeLome has six hits in his last 13 ABs.

Man of the Match: Wesley Wright




The JetHawks got blanked by Rancho Cucamonga in a 5-0 loss. So Keuchel gets the loss, despite throwing 6IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:0BB. David Duncan threw out of the bullpen for the first time this season, and my vote is for ending this experiment, as he allowed 4H/3ER in 1IP. Shane Wolf threw a perfect 8th, and David Berner gave up 2H/1ER in the 9th. Barry Butera was 2x3, and Lee Cruz, John Curtis, and Brandon Wikoff got your other three hits.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel


Despite matching the Legends in hits with seven, Augusta fell to Lexington 4-1. Juan Minaya threw 5IP, 6H/1ER, 6K:1BB and Zach Grimmett threw 4IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB in relief. Grant Hogue was 2x3 and has six hits in his last ten ABs. Miguel Arrendell, Jake Goebbert (2RBI), Our Boy Aaron Bray, and Jonathan Meyer added the other five hits. J.D. Martinez was 0x1 but drew two walks, and Jiovanni Mier was 0x2, 2BB.

Man of the Match: Zach Grimmett.




Ramon Morla hit a 10th inning homer off Phil Rorabaugh, and the Gastros lost 5-4, extending their losing streak to 0-for-July (seven games). Mike Foltynewicz made his third start of his pro career, and it didn't go so well. 1.2IP, 3H/4ER, 1K:4BB, 1HR. Jeiler Castillo threw 4.1IP, 2H/0ER in relief, and Vincent Velasquez made his debut with 1K:2BB in 1IP. Paul Gerrish also made his debut and threw 1.2IP, 1K, and Phil Rorabaugh took the loss. Pedro Feliz was 2x4 with a double and a walk, and Chris Wallace was 2x5 with 2RBI. Telvin Nash provided the other RBI. Jhonny Medrano and Marcus Nidiffer hit doubles.

Man of the Match: Jeiler Castillo.

GCL Astros

Postponed - rain.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G85: Astros v. Pirates

The Astros actually used the long-ball to win a game in a 6-3 win over the Pirates.

*The Astros hit four homers (Berkman, Lee, Keppinger, Pence) for the first time this season. They hit five against the Reds in a 6-5 loss on September 16, 2009. Three of the four homers came on a pitch immediately following a ball.

*It's the first time since May 5 that the Astros didn't get a multi-hit game from the offense, but still won. (vs. Padres: 4-2 win).

*The Astros drew seven walks on the night for this sixth time this season. They're 5-1 in games where they draw 7+ walks. In five July games, they have drawn 23 walks. Since June 19 (16 games), the Astros have actually drawn 63 walks (4.2/game) and are 8-8.

*Berkman has hit back-to-back homers for the first time since May 11-12 (@ St. Louis). Carlos Lee hit back-to-back homers for the third time this season (June 2-3; May 18-19).

*The offense took a first-pitch ball in 20 of their 38 plate appearances.

*Brian Moehler got the start, but left with an apparent groin injury, leaving it up to the bullpen. Gustavo Chacin have up all three of the Pirates' runs. Chacin had made four straight appearances without allowing a run (10 outs), tying a season-long. Chacin walked a batter for the first time since June 18 (nine appearances).

*Casey Daigle earned his first win since May 10, 2004. But it wasn't without some drama. Jose Tabata reached on a leadoff single, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Doumit walked (because, you know, Daigle throws strikes) to load the bases. With Ryan Church up, Daigle got him swinging to end the inning and keep the game 3-3. Coming into that AB, Daigle had the bases loaded three times this season, and allowed one hit - a grand slam.

Pitch Count Hero: Lance Berkman (1x2, 2BB) - 19 pitches in four PAs

Pitch Count Punk: Chris Johnson (0x4) and Angel Sanchez (1x3, BB) - 10 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Gotta go with Berkman here. He hit the go-ahead homer, and was able to draw two walks - one of which preceded a 2-run shot by Lee.

Goat of the Game: Gustavo Chacin. Immediately turned a 3-0 lead into a tie game with two doubles, a single, and a walk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Plutko still committed to UCLA

Not sure if this qualifies as an update or a statement of fact, but MaxPreps named 6th Round pick Adam Plutko to their California All-State team:

The Southern Section Division II Player of the Year, Plutko was drafted in the sixth round by the Houston Astros. He was the San Gabriel Valley Tribune's Player of the Year after going 10-1 with a 1.36 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched. Led Glendora to the Southern Section Division II championship. He has committed to play at UCLA.

Gammons on the Astros

Peter Gammons runs down the what to watch for, and devotes a line (that's it) to the Astros, but something clearly has to give:

The Astros are clearly sellers, although getting three prospects for Roy Oswalt without having to pay off most of his contract may be impossible.

International Signing Time!

Baseball America's Ben Badler is reporting that the Astros have signed 16-year old Dominican outfielder Ariel Ovando for reportedly between $2.6 and $2.8 million.

Bobby Heck:
"This is a high-caliber talent who we think has a chance to be an impact bat and would be a definite first-rounder in any draft...We think there's hit skill here more than just raw bat speed and a high ceiling for power, too. We think he has damage to do both as a hitter and with power."

Ovando will begin his career in right field, but the biggest draw for most scouts is his outstanding physical frame at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, and lefthanded power.

Click the link for video from Baseball America.

Ovando, who will be 17 on September 15, has signed a minor league contract for 2011. This season, he is expected to first report to the Astros Latin American complex in Boca Chica, DR, in the upcoming days and then is scheduled to participate in the Florida Instructional League in Kissimmee, FL in September.

"We're extremely excited to get Ariel into the Astros organization. (Special Assistant to the GM) Felix (Francisco) did a lot of work on this kid and we also were able to have some of our other evaluators scout him over the past several months. Ariel profiles as a middle of the order power hitter with excellent defensive skills. He profiles as a front line major league right fielder and should move quickly through the minor league system."

Darryl Strawberry type body. Large frame. Long arms and legs with a lot of room to fill out. Everyday right fielder with the ability to hit for average and power. Ball carries off bat. Will be an above average right fielder with an average to above-average arm. Smart kid who has a clear goal in life and is dedicated.

Read the article for scouting reports, but all indications are that this is an excellent signing.

Geoff Blum has a shiny new, shirt-proof elbow

Bernardo Fallas tells us that Geoff Blum has undergone successful elbow surgery. An Astros press release gets more detailed and says that "three loose bodies" were removed. Hopefully one of those bodies was Carlos Lee's bat. He'll be out around a month.

David Berner likes closing

In this week's California League Notebook we read about Lancaster closer David Berner, and how the Astros took care of him in 2009 after a long college season for San Jose State:

"My arm was pretty dead. The Astros were really good getting me back into shape so nothing bad would happen to my arm. I just went out there for the experience more than anything..."

...Berner worked with a fastball, changeup and slider as a starter but has pared that repertoire down to the fastball and slider as a closer. He uses those two pitches to reinforce his strong ground-ball tendencies.

"I pitch to contact. I'm not looking for strikeouts," he said. "I'm looking to get the guy out early in the count."

Chris Wallace didn't think he'd get taken so early

Former UH catcher Chris Wallace was taken in the 16th Round in last month's draft. The surprising part? He didn't think he'd go that early:

“I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. I thought I was going to be drafted in the later rounds, so when I was taken in the 16th round, it was really a surprise because I didn’t think I would be taken that early. I grew up watching the Astros and I have always wanted to play for them. Now I have that opportunity, and it’s a dream come true.”

A Canadian comes to Minute Maid

Here's a funny story about a Canadian who came to Minute Maid Park for last night's Astros/Pirates game (hopefully this was just a coincidence, and not a planned game). It's very long, and very entertaining.

Ned Colletti has been making some calls's Evan Drellich says Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has been making some calls regarding the availability of some pitching:

The Dodgers have had conversations with expected teams as the Trade Deadline approaches, including the Mariners, Astros, Blue Jays, Indians and D-backs, a baseball source said.

Joe Torre:
"Unless something knocks your socks off or something makes sense, I think pitching is the area probably -- starting and relieving. Whatever will tighten up what we have now. I know [general manager Ned Colletti] has been exploring, and we've done it the last couple years, and my guess is we'll get some help."

The Dodgers are currently 10th in the NL in ERA, with 4.10, and they are one of two NL teams to not throw a complete game. However, they do have the 6th-best OPS-against, with the staff posting a .712 OPSA. And, of course, they're three games behind the Padres for the NL West lead and are a half-game behind the Mets for the Wild Card, if the Wild Card mattered right now.

Bill Plaschke doesn't like this whole "Bourn is an All-Star" idea

There are a lot of things I don't like about the All-Star Game. Namely, the voters (and that includes fans. And managers.) don't seem to have any idea what they're doing. It's also preposterous that an exhibition game counts for something like home field advantage in the World Series. We can say that, because we know for a fact that the Astros will have very little to do with the World Series. Why you wouldn't go with the better record in Interleague play is totally beyond me. I'd also like to see a skills competition. But that's not a new idea, nor is it likely to happen - because why would Bud Selig throw anybody a bone?

But Bill Plaschke...he's pissed:

Two years ago, on a May day so full of promise, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig reverently announced that the 2010 All-Star game would be played at Angel Stadium. He fibbed. I'll be a rally monkey's uncle before I'll believe that disparate group of 68 players coming to town next week is completely worthy of an All-Star game...

...Two years ago, Selig gave us the image of Reggie Jackson going off the light tower, Ichiro going inside the park, and Cal Ripken Jr. going deep into history. Instead, we're getting Michael Bourn going for . . . what exactly?...

...Bourn of the Houston Astros is an All-Star who doesn't hit for average (.260) or power (one homer) or run production (20 RBIs)."

While I'm (fairly) sure he doesn't have it out for Bourn, lumping Bourn with Omar Infante, John Buck, Evan Meek and Matt Thornton isn't fair.

Eddie's Farm: July 6

Round Rock

The Express scored the last three runs of the game, but it just wasn't enough in a 5-4 loss to Memphis. Shane Loux threw 6.1IP, 10H/5ER, 4K:1BB to drop to 2-6 on the year. Roy Corcoran allowed a hit in 1.2IP, and Gary Majewski threw a scoreless inning. Collin DeLome and German Duran had two hits each (with DeLome also getting an RBI and stolen base. And was also caught stealing.) Freshly-activated Edwin Maysonet and Brian Bogusevic provided your only two extra-base hits.

Man of the Match: Collin DeLome.


Let's get some Big Picture here. The last time the Hooks won was June 21. That's a 12-game losing streak, after Jordan Lyles got rocked in a 7-1 loss to NW Arkansas. Lyles lasted 3.1IP, 8H/6ER, 1K:6BB, throwing 43 of his 82 pitches for strikes. Fernando Abad allowed 5H/1ER, 2K:0BB, and Danny Meszaros struck out four of the six batters he faced in two perfect IPs. Jack Shuck and Jhon Florentino both had two hits, Koby Clemens was 1x2 with a double and two walks, and Marcos Cabral provided the only RBI. Jimmy Van Ostrand and David Cook provided outfield assists.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens


Despite a 5-4 lead going into the 8th, the JetHawks couldn't close, and ended up 8-6 to Inland Empire. (Note: You can read Zach Levine's notes on Lancaster here). Ross Seaton threw 5.1IP, 7H/4R (3ER), 8K:1BB. Mike Modica and Kyle Godfrey each allowed an earned run, and Brian Wabick gave up two runs for the loss. Lee Cruz was 3x4 with 2HR and 5RBI, while Freddy Parejo was 2x4. Andy Simunic drew three walks.

Man of the Match: Lee Cruz


The Legends got four runs in the 7th, but being down 7-1 at that point isn't very helpful, and the Legends lose 9-5 to Augusta. Tanner Bushue allowed 5H/6ER, 3K:3BB in 4.1IP. Wander Alvino, Colton Pitkin, and Kirk Clark allowed 9H/3R (2ER), 4K:2BB in 4.2IP. Bushue and Alvino also threw wild pitches. Grant Hogue was 3x4 with a walk, Jose Altuve, Jonathan Meyer, and Brian Kemp each got two hits, Jordan Comadena hit a solo homer, and Jake Goebbert was 1x4 with a sac fly and 4RBI.

Man of the Match: Grant Hogue


Leadoff walks will kill you. Two consecutive walks to start the 11th inning will end the game, and the ValleyCats lose 5-4 to Batavia. Joan Belliard walked those batters, and Jorge De Leon gave up the hit leading to the game-winning run. Tom Shirley threw 4IP, 2H/1R (0ER), 6K:1BB - and has yet to allow an earned run. Adam Champion allowed 2ER in 1.1IP, Mike Ness allowed an unearned run, Brandt Walker walked two of the four batters he faced, and then Belliard and De Leon came in to "close it out." Tri-City also committed four errors: two from Oscar Figueroa, one each from Buck Afenir and Jorge De Leon. Ben Orloff, Enrique Hernandez, and Daniel Adamson had two hits each in the top three spots in the lineup, with Hernandez, Adamson, Tyler Burnett, and Figueroa providing RBIs.

Man of the Match: Daniel Adamson - 2x5, RBI, SB


And Greeneville has their own six-game losing streak going, after a 6-2 loss to Kingsport. Ricardo Batista allowed 5H/2R (1ER), 3K:0BB in 5IP. Brian Streilein had a rough 6th inning, allowing four hits and a walk for four earned runs. Travis Smink threw two scoreless innings, while Jamaine Cotton threw a perfect 9th. Chris Wallace was 2x4 with a double and an RBI, with Jonathan Merritt, Ricardo Garcia, and Jhonny Medrano providing the other three hits. 6-9 in the lineup (Nash, Nidiffer, Williams, and Lane) were a combined 0x14, 5K:1BB.

Man of the Match: Ricardo Batista.

Blum out for a month

Looks like Geoff Blum will be out for a month after he has surgery on that elbow today.

"I think (surgery) is the best option right now. I’d hate to be putting (manager Brad Mills) in a bad spot, getting hurt every couple of weeks or whatnot. So let’s just clean it up, get it over with and finish up the rest of the season. I’ll be back hopefully in four weeks.”
In other injury news, Tommy Manzella's finger is healing properly.

"Everything turned out pretty good. We were able to bend it at least a decent amount — from (the finger) being straight so long you can only do so much - so the goal the next two weeks is to get complete range of motion back."
And Jeff Fulchino isn't doing so hot, and his right elbow will be re-evaluated as he continues to experience soreness.

I know everyone's going to scream about his abuse by throwing him out there for 82IP in 2009. When you take his minor-league stats, Fulchino was only used in eight more innings than in 2008.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From the Office of the County Clerk - G84: Astros v. Pirates

And the Astros defeat the Pirates 6-2.

*The Astros are 4-0 against the Pirates this season. They have four wins against just four teams this season, and three of them are NL Central teams (Chicago, Colorado, St. Louis, Pittsburgh)

*The Astros are 16-12 against the NL Central with the win. And 5-8 against the NL East, and 9-19 against the NL West.

*Jeff Keppinger was 3x4 on the night - the fourth time he's had a three-hit game this season. He's rolled up an eight-game hit streak, since game one of the Milwaukee series, and is 12x34 with 4K:3BB, and 4RBI.

*Berkman had three RBI on the night, just the second time he's had 3+ RBI this season. His homer was his third since June 3.

*Angel Sanchez was 0x4, and is hitting .071 through five games (meaning that he's perfect for an Astro!). Out of the shortstop position, the Astros have posted a .225/.289/.270 line.

*Wandy threw 7IP, 4H/1ER, 10K:2BB for the win. It's the first time he recorded double-digit strikeouts, and his 37 non-contact strikes (22 looking, 15 swinging) are a season-high.

*Since coming off the DL, Chris Sampson hasn't given up an earned run in five of six appearances, or in three straight. In the three games prior to going on the DL, he gave up 12H/11ER in 2IP.

Pitch Count Hero: Berkman (1x4) - 25 pitches in four PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Pence (2x4) - 8 pitches in four PAs

Man of the Match: Going with Berkman here - the three-RBI game for him is too rare to not tip the cap to.

Goat of the Game: Angel Sanchez. 0x4 with an error.

Add this to the Convoluted Demands of the Astros

FanHouse's Ed Price says this about what he hears the Astros are wanting for Roy Oswalt:

Word is that the Astros would not only make the acquiring team pay all of Oswalt's salary -- the rest of his $15 million this year, $16 million next year and a $2 million buyout on the 2012 team option -- but also wants three major-league-ready young players in return.

It's possible that demand comes from owner Drayton McLane and not GM Ed Wade. Pretty steep price, and that doesn't even factor in Oswalt's full no-trade clause.

I don't know how much of this I believe. Jon Heyman said on July 2 that the Astros would be willing to eat some of Roy's contract. On July 1 the NY Daily News said the Astros wouldn't. On June 22 Drayton said he'd entertain it.

So. Who freaking knows?

Tri-City statistical leaders!

Leaders for your New York-Penn League Tri-City ValleyCats! Hitters are organized by OPS (min 40ABs), Pitchers by WHIP (min 10IP).

Tri-City - hitters

B. Heath45.267/.424/.55613:105-111/0
D. Adamson50.320/.435/.54013:97-73/2
T. Burnett55.218/.358/.30912:125-40/3
A. Bailey48.209/.250/.37510:34-50/0
E. Hernandez55.236/.311/.3097:64-51/4

Tri-City - pitchers

C. Quevedo22.12.01/0.8122:12
D. Martinez141.93/0.9313:30
T. Shirley100.00/1.4018:70
J. Buchanan105.40/1.409:41
B. Doran15.25.17/1.5310:40

Greeneville leaders

Leaders for your Appalachian League Greeneville! Hitters are organized by OPS (min 40ABs), Pitchers by WHIP (min 9IP).

Greeneville - hitters

M. Nidiffer40.325/.370/.62512:18-60/2
C. Wallace45.267/.313/.53314:35-70/2
J. Medrano53.302/.327/.47217:25-55/2
J. Merritt44.227/.358/.43217:86-22/3
T. Nash44.182/.250/.34113:45-20/3

Greeneville - pitchers

A. Gonzalez145.79/0.9310:62
R. Alaniz161.13/1.008:21
G. Bullock10.12.61/1.168:30
R. Cole9.13.86/1.187:11
E. Quezada165.06/1.386:11

GCL Astros leaders

Well, it's time we revived this section, now that it's been a couple of weeks since the season started. Leaders for your GCL Astros! Hitters are organized by OPS (min 20ABs), Pitchers by WHIP (min 9IP).

GCL Astros - hitters

R. Pena25.440/.429/.6402:14-80/1
R. Ditthardt28.357/.438/.5005:02-20/2
J. Fernandez33.333/.343/.5768:16-72/4
K. Redinger35.314/.457/.45711:94-61/2
G. Suniaga28.286/.300/.3574:01-22/0

GCL Astros - pitchers

L. Perdomo91.00/0.789:30
F. Ramirez152.40/0.8714:60
D. Paul9.20.00/1.249:40
M. Jones93.00/1.447:60
L. Ordosgoitti9.20.93/1.458:20

Anyone of you, at any moment, could have your elbow implode. Simply by doing nothing.

Or so Geoff Blum would like to remind you:

Sporting News:
Aware of the tittering that greeted the news, Blum cautioned outsiders from thinking it was a freak incident, noting that it's something that could happen to just about any player in the league. The elbow seized up when he was getting dressed. An unfortunate coincidence is all it is.

"There are probably 90 percent of us in the big leagues that have loose bodies floating around. It just so happens that after the game, it tightened up on me. The shirt had nothing to do with the [darn] injury."

Meanwhile, the Examiner wants you to leave Blummey alone:
Blum's elbow was already messed up from his play on the field and it just happened that the range of motion he used while getting dressed caused a "pop." This isn't an embarrassing injury, nor should it be perceived as one. Ultimately, I feel bad for Blum.

The Astros and the lack of homers

As you know, the Astros are terrible. Joe Sheehan said the 2010 Astros had the "worst offense of my lifetime."

The Astros have hit 48 homers in 83 games. Let's look at just how bad this is:

*The National League average is 75 home runs.
*The Toronto Blue Jays have three players (Bautista, Wells, Gonzalez) who have hit 55 combined.
*This is obviously the lowest total in the Minute Maid Park era.
*The last time the Astros hit this few homers in 83 games was in 1992, when they had hit 46. Still, somehow, those Astros went 81-81. If the Astros were to finish at .500, they would have to finish the season 49-30, or a .671 Win%.

Jerome Solomon: What's taking so long?

And within Solomon's piece on why it's taking so damn long to trade Roy, Ed Wade drops some math on us:

Not trading occurs more often than trading.

This is not earth-shattering news.

"Everyone wants to set their hair on fire when they hear a player wants to be moved or a club wants to move a player. It's not that easy. And more trades are NOT made than are made...

...If you've got a player with a no-trade clause in his contract, you got to find a club that has a need for that player. Then the club has to have an interest in your player and the wherewithal to pay your player. Then the player has to be interested in that club, and it has to be a club you even want to trade with in the first place. And finally, can or will the club satisfy your need in a fair deal? After all that, you can get near the finish line and change your mind thinking: 'Do you really want to trade this player?' We run fire drills all the time. There are so many factors involved in making a trade happen. These things just don't come together overnight."

I get it. It's tough to trade a player, and it's not Ed Wade's fault that Roy's contract is what it is (which seems fair, in the alternate financial universe that is Major League Baseball). There is just a confluence of big contracts handed out in the mid-2000s that are just now looking unmanageable. If Carlos Lee was hitting .300 with 20 HRs, we wouldn't be punching ourselves in the genitals. As much.

Still, though, Cliff Lee has been rumored on the block for about the same amount of time, and while his salary is much lower, he's still wearing a Mariners jersey. Every day that goes by before the trade deadline is a day that the player's current team pays their salary. I do think Roy will get traded within a few days of the July 31 deadline, but if he doesn't, the Astros still have the off-season to deal him and the recipient club will get a full year of Roy O.

Keuchel credits the SEC with Lancaster success

In Zach Levine's Minor League Notebook, he catches up with 2009 7th-Round pick Dallas Keuchel.

“In the SEC, you’re facing lineups that have three, four, five guys that could potentially go in the top five in each draft. Facing those guys in freshman all the way through junior year, you’ve got to make some great pitches with the aluminum bats.”

Manager Tom Lawless:
“To be pitching at this level and make the jump that he’s made and be able to hold his own and doing very well the last month, he’s more confident in his ability to throw his pitches over the plate."

Ricky Bennett:
“We talked about Dallas quite a bit in spring training, and we all felt he was a guy who could move through the system rather quickly."

Keuchel's 3.52 ERA is almost two runs better than the next pitcher with 15+ starts, and only David Burner and Pat Urckfitz have better ERAs than Keuchel. At home, Keuchel is 3-2 with a 4.86 ERA and a 2.84 GB/FB ratio. On the road, he's 1-4 with a 2.36 ERA and a 2.86 GB/FB ratio. After posting a 6.39 ERA/1.78 WHIP in April, he has since lowered those totals to 2.54 ERA/0.99 WHIP.

Here's hoping he's in Corpus by the end of the season.

Eddie's Farm: July 5

Round Rock

With a 7-0 lead over Memphis, Round Rock allowed a 6-run 7th inning, but followed it up with a 4-run bottom half and an 11-6 win. Andy Van Hekken threw 6.2IP, 6H/5ER, 3K:4BB. Three of those earned runs came when Yorman Bazardo allowed a grand slam to Allen Craig. T.J. Burton threw a scoreless 9th. Brian Bogusevic was 3x4 with a walk. Tommy Everidge (HR, 2RBI) and Collin DeLome (double, 4RBI) had two hits each, while Ramon Vazquez added two more RBI to the total. Newly-acquired Edwin Bellorin got the start, and went 0x4 with a passed ball. Atta boy.

Man of the Match: Collin DeLome.


Corpus scored the final four runs of the game, but it wasn't enough as NW Arkansas defeats the Hooks 10-9. Henry Villar threw 1IP, 7H/7ER, and it took Nelson Payano (2.1IP, 6H/2ER, 3K:0BB), Jailen Peguero (2.2IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:1BB), and Erick Abreu (2IP, 2H/1ER, 4K:1BB) to finish it off. Why Villar was starting, after spending the first 65 of his previous 68 games (09-10) in the bullpen would be an excellent question. Jhon Florentoni, Koby Clemens (2HR/4RBI), Jon Gaston (2B, RBI), David Cook (2B, BB), and Michael Affronti (HR/2RBI) had two hits each. Meaning that 3-7 in the lineup went a combined 10x21, 3 doubles, 3 homers, 7RBI.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens


Rough night for the JetHawks as they are on the business end of a three-hit shutout and lose to Inland Empire 5-0. Leandro Cespedes allowed 7H/3R (2ER), 6K:1BB in 5.1IP, while Edwin Walker (3H, 1.2IP), and Ashton Mowdy (2IP) allowed a run each. Still, they could have allowed just one run total, and still lost. The JetHawks didn't get a hit until Brandon Wikoff's single in the 6th, and John Curtis and Andy Simunic provided the other two hits.

Man of the Match: Leandro Cespedes


Oof. 10-2 loss at the hands of Augusta. Robby Donovan allowed 11H/6ER, 2K:1BB, 2HR in 3IP. Jose Trinidad threw 4IP of 1H/0ER (3K) relief, and Mike Schurz gave up 5H/4ER, 3K:1BB, 2HR in 2IP. The offense got seven hits on the night - two each from Jose Altuve and Our Boy Aaron Bray. Kody Hinze, Jiovanni Mier, and Grant Hogue provided the other hits, while Goebbert and Hinze collected the RBIs.

Man of the Match: Jose Trinidad.


A four-run first inning is tough to bounce back from, and Tri-City ends up losing to Batavia, 9-6. Murillo Gouvea lasted 0.2IP, giving up 3H/4ER, 1K:2BB. Brendan Stines threw 2.1IP, 2H/1ER, 2K:2BB, and David Martinez was in long relief, throwing 4IP, allowing 3H/2R (0ER), 4K:1BB. Jason Chowning, Travis Blankenship (1H/1BB, 2R (1ER)), and Andrew Robinson (1K) each got two outs. Ben Heath was 1x3 with a homer, walk, and 4RBI, and Daniel Adamson was 1x4 with a triple and 2RBI. Still four errors were committed for three unearned runs, in a three-run loss: Burnett, two from Adamson, and Enrique Hernandez.

Man of the Match: Ben Heath.


The good news: Kingsport's lineup spots 6-9 went 0x14 against Greeneville. The bad news: 1-5 went a combined 12x21 in a 7-2 win over Greeneville. Ruben Alaniz threw 6IP, 7H/2ER, 1K:1BB. Ryan Cole took the loss with 1ER in 1IP, while Garrett Bullock and B.J. Hagen each gave up 2H/2R (1ER). Errors by Ricardo Garcia and Telvin Nash led to the two unearned runs. Marcus Nidiffer was 2x4, while Nash hit a solo homer and Garcia got an RBI. Ryan Humphrey was 0x3 with 3Ks.

Man of the Match: Ruben Alaniz.

GCL Astros


Monday, July 5, 2010

Darin Erstad got a job!

Recently-retired former Astro Darin Erstad got himself a job as a Voluntary Assistant Coach (and Hitting Coach).

Erstad was an All-American for Nebraska, as well as being the football team's punter.

Blum to DL

Right up there with J.R. Towles cutting his hand on the ceiling fan, or Mike Hampton losing a fight with the soap dispenser at Wrigley Field, Geoff Blum can join the ranks of odd injuries, after heading to the DL because his shirt got up and bit him.

Blum has a bone chip in his elbow, and surgery will be determined following an exam performed in Houston tomorrow, though Wade thinks surgery is likely.

"With the bone chip being in the joint, it's going to be extremely tough not to go in and take them out. Having been through this before, I was kind of ready for it, but it just kind of sucks that it has to happen."

Bourgeois, as promised, has rejoined the team.

Astros get...yes...another minor-league catcher

So the Astros went and bought themselves another minor-league catcher, acquiring Edwin Bellorin from the Royals for cash considerations.

Bellorin is a 5'9" 225lb, 28-year old from Venezuela who has had a rough go of it since coming over to Kansas City from Colorado.

In ten minor-league seasons (in which he has never played more than 96 games), Bellorin has hit .264/.308/.359. In three seasons with Triple-A Colorado Springs from 2007-09, Bellorin posted OPS' of .898, .764, .660, respectively; In 38 games with Omaha, he has hit .162/.231/.185.

So obviously the Astros went and got him.

The Chronicle notes that he was acquired to fill Kevin Cash's spot. So was Lou Santangelo just not good enough as a back-up catcher on the Triple-A team that the Astros just had to spend money in this way?

Reactions to the Bourn Selection

So since the County Clerk was at a surprise barbeque (and then got called in by his employer - an elected representative - to fold flags) and I was out far longer during the day than I expected, we're doing some mop-up work this morning.

First, we should congratulate Michael Bourn for his 1st selection to the All-Star Game.

Ed Wade:
“He’s been a catalyst on our ballclub on both sides of the ball, and this is a kid that works hard and really cares, and it’s great to see him get the center-stage recognition that he deserves.”

“I’m happy to be a part of it, even though we’re not having the season we could be having or should be having. The last month hasn’t gone great for me, but I’ve been able to scrap and stay above water.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nice profile on Brian Esposito

Here's a nice little profile on Brian Esposito from Staten Island.

"I’m a realist. At some point, I know age will catch up with me. But my goal is to get to the big leagues, and to stay. That’s what it’s been since I was 9 years old...A lot of life is about attitude and perseverance. You never know what’s going to happen in this game. These days I feel like it’s important that I be true to myself and not cut myself short...

I’m in for the long haul. And I’m not done yet."

Twins front-runners to land Cliff Lee?

One "high-ranking major league official" says that the Twins are the favorites to land Cliff Lee. Of course, the Twins have been linked to Oswalt.

Manzella to find out his fate on Tuesday

Zach Levine's Notes Column tells us that Tommy Manzella still hasn't had an X-Ray since hurting his finger on June 24, and that will come on Tuesday.

His left index finger has been restricted in a splint, and he hasn’t attempted to bend it. So far there have been no changes to his initial prognosis of missing at least six weeks, but it won’t be known for sure until Tuesday’s X-ray.

“I can’t do too much as far as moving around. I’ve been trying to work out and keep my body in shape."
We also find out that 6th Round pick Adam Plutko was at G82 in San Diego, and of course, still hasn't signed.

Paulino's simulated games going well

Felipe Paulino is still on track to return after the All-Star Break.

We've looked at the calendar set up for after the All-Star break, but we don't have that rotation set yet, and we probably won't until we get home [Tuesday]. He's definitely going to factor into it...I think we're thinking about a simulated game on Wednesday, and then another simulated game on Sunday before we leave for the [All-Star] break. Those questions we'll be able to answer when we get home."

Blum can't even brush his teeth

Looks as though Bourgeois will be back soon after all. Geoff Blum's jacked up elbow hasn't gotten any better over the last 36 hours.

"Even brushing my teeth hurts right now. It hasn't gotten any better at all."

"As of right now, we're waiting for the doctor to bring the MRI in, and he hasn't shown up yet. [Blum] showed up this afternoon to get treatment, and it was still swollen, and he still can't straighten it out. So we're kind of in a state of flux here a little bit, to see what the MRI has to say and go from there."

Later on in the article we do find out that Bourgeois did fly back to Round Rock to join the team, but I'm guessing he'll be coming right back.

Chowning, Gerrish assigned

Coming off the signings of OU's Jason Chowning and TCU's Paul Gerrish, they got their assignments yesterday, with Chowning heading to Tri-City and Gerrish going to Greeneville.

Eddie's Farm: July 3

Round Rock

Just a brutal, brutal loss for the Express at the hands of Memphis. Leading Memphis 6-3, Roy Corcoran got the loss in a 4-run inning, and Memphis wins 7-6. Polin Trinidad threw 5IP, 6H/1ER, 1K:2BB, while Jonah Bayliss allowed 3H/2ER in 1IP. Gary Majewski preserved the lead for 2IP, before turning it over to Corcoran, who promptly gave up 3H/4ER, 1K:1BB in 0.2IP. Matt Kata was 3x4 with 2HR, Brian Bogusevic was 2x4 with a stolen base and a walk, and Tommy Everidge and Drew Locke each added solo homers.

Man of the Match: Matt Kata


Mercifully postponed against Frisco.


The JetHawks - despite being outhit 8-5 - earned their first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over San Jose. Pat Urckfitz threw 5.1IP, 3H/0ER, 7K:2BB, Brian Wabick added 2.2IP of 3H/0ER relief, and David Berner allowed three baserunners (2H/1BB), but didn't allow a run. Big play of the game came in the bottom of the 9th. With the bases loaded and nobody out, the JetHawks turned a game-ending triple play to preserve the win. Mark Ori was 2x4, with Cartwright, Parejo, and Federico Hernandez adding the other two hits (RBIs from Parejo, Hernandez, and Ori). Brandon Barnes was 0x2, but drew 2BB and stole a base. Lee Cruz stole two bases.

Man of the Match: Mark Ori


Lexington scored four runs in the first three innings, and then rode it out for a 4-1 win over Hickory. Luis Cruz threw 6IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:1BB for the win, and Wander Alvino allowed two hits and a solo homer in 2IP. Kirk Clark recorded his 16th save (allowing three baserunners) and struck out the side. Kody Hinze was 3x5 (RBI) and Brian Kemp was 3x4. Jake Goebbert was 1x3 with 2BB. Your RBIs came from Hinze, Our Boy Aaron Bray, and two from Jiovanni Mier.

Man of the Match: Jiovanni Mier.


The ValleyCats took their first series of the season after busting out for a 10-2 win over Connecticut. Carlos Quevedo threw 6IP, 5H/2R (1ER), 6K:1BB. Chris Blazek allowed a hit and walk - striking out three - in 2IP, and Mike Ness gave up a hit in 1IP. Enrique Hernandez, Tyler Burnett, and Daniel Adamson had two hits each, while Ben Heath, Burnett, Adamson, and Adam Bailey each knocked in two runs. Mike Kvasnicka - in the DH position - was pinch-hit for in the 6th. Anyone know why?

Man of the Match: Carlos Quevedo


Rough series for the Gastros as they get beat by Bristol again, 6-2. The Gastros were outscored 32-3 in the three-game series. Euris Quezada allowed 8H/3ER in 6IP, with 3K:1BB (2WPs) and Brian Streilein threw the final 2IP, giving up 2H/3R (1ER), 1K:1BB. Pedro Feliz (regrettably, not that one) and Bubby Williams were both 2x4 with Feliz and Jhonny Medrano getting the RBIs.

Man of the Match: Pedro Feliz

GCL Astros

Pitchers duel in the GCL, and the GCL Astros come out on top of the GCL Nationals 2-1. Jose Perdomo allowed just 2H/0ER, 3K:1BB in 5IP, while Andrea Lucati got the win with a scoreless 6th inning. Austin Lucas struck out three in 2IP, Dieudone Paul allowed an unearned run (so his ERA is still 0.00) in 0.2IP and Pedro Gomez got the final out for his first save. Ryan Ditthardt was 2x4 with a game-winning solo homer in the top of the 9th, and Luca Martone got his first RBI of the season. Brian Pellegrini was 1x4.

Man of the Match: Ryan Ditthardt.

Gervacio isn't really doing any better

Bernardo Fallas ran into Sammy Gervacio Friday, who was in town for a check-up:

His shoulder, which first landed him on the DL in April and subsequently contributed to his demotion in early May (when the Astros thought it was a matter of him not pitching up to his potential), is still bothering him, and the cortisone shots have only helped so much. He's resting the shoulder over the weekend and will test it out Tuesday.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G82: Astros @ Padres

Brutal. Astros get shutout again, 1-0.

*The Astros were shutout for the second time in a row. It's the second 1-0 game the Astros have lost this season, and the eighth time they've been shutout this season.

*The last time they were shutout in back-to-back games by the same opponent was - crazily enough - July 3-4, 2009 at San Francisco.

*Incredibly, the Astros have scored two runs or less in 34 of their 82 games, and are 2-32. They've allowed two runs or less in 19 games, and are 13-6.

*It's a shame for Bud Norris, who truly deserved better. In his second start after coming off the DL, Norris threw 7IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:3BB. It's just the second time he's allowed 0ER in an outing in 2010, and the first time he's allowed fewer than 2ER against an opponent not based in St. Louis.

*G82 was ties the longest outing of Norris' young career that he has thrown a shutout (the first - August 2, 2009...against St. Louis).

*Norris' 113 pitches are the second highest of the season, while his 69 strikes are a season-high.

*Norris did walk three batters. He has walked 3+ batters in eight of his eleven starts.

*Hunter Pence was ejected in the 7th inning for the first time in his career, and the 3-4-5 of Berkman-Lee-Pence went a combined 1x10, 4K:1BB. Jason Michaels came in to replace Pence, and was 1x1.

*Chris Johnson was 3x3 with two doubles. On this road trip, Johnson has made eight starts and posted a .452/.485/.613 line (14x31) with 3K:2BB. In 15 starts, Johnson has hits in eleven games, and six multi-hit games.

*The Astros were 0x6 w/RISP, and only got nine balls out of the infield all night.

Pitch Count Hero: Lance Berkman (0x3, 1BB) - 23 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Michael Bourn (0x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Toss-up between Bud Norris and Chris Johnson. Let's go with Norris.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. 0x4, K, GIDP.