Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roy isn't making this very easy

According to the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers, the reason teams aren't shanking each other in the shower to trade for Roy is because they think Roy wants them to automatically pick up his 2012 $16 million option in order to waive his no-trade clause.

So his remaining $25 million would then be $41 million + prospects.

Wesley Wright to start on Tuesday

It's now official, Wesley Wright will get the start thanks to Felipe Paulino's shoulder flare-up on Tuesday at Wrigley against the Cubs.

Hopefully this outing goes better than his last appearance at Wrigley. The one where he had to get taken out of the clubhouse on an ambulance. Because Cooper let him throw 53 pitches.

Olney: Myers tops Mets' wish list

We learn a few things from Buster Olney's new blog post about the trade market.

On how active the next two weeks will be:
They expect that there will be a fairly robust period of trades before the July 31 deadlines. "I don't think there's going to be a lot of big names on the move," said one GM, "but I think you've got a lot of teams looking to fill specific needs, and there are a lot of conversations going on."

On the financial market:
The executives all agreed that there are almost no teams willing to take on money these days, so a lot of the forthcoming trades will include either salary relief or be built on a structure in which the payroll obligations for the involved teams will be offset.

On Myers:
The Astros have not indicated to other teams yet what they'd like in return for Brett Myers, but as of Friday morning, it appeared that Myers was ahead of Lilly or Jake Westbrook on the Mets' wish list of pitchers, given his performance this year and relatively low salary.

Who's taking Moehler's spot?

With Brian Moehler on the DL and Felipe Paulino needing more time to recover, the Astros have some decisions to make. Who comes up to replace him?

Wesley Wright could be a candidate. He's on the 40-man roster, the Astros seem to want him in the rotation at some point, and in his last three starts, he has thrown 16.1IP, 8H/3ER, 15K:7BB. But his last start came on July 15 at Albuquerque. The Astros also may want to keep him in Round Rock for the year, not wanting to burn an option for a spot start.

Josh Banks may be more likely. He hasn't pitched since the All-Star Game on Wednesday night, and his last start before that was on July 8. He's not on the 40-man roster, but hasn't given up more than three earned runs in a start since May 30. That was a rough start in Arlington, but let's take the competition into consideration.

I say Banks comes up. Agree? Disagree?

Free (Insert Name Here)!

On the heels of the Apparatus waking up and promoting J.D. Martinez, let's take a look at a few of the A/A+ players who may be candidates for a promotion, and give a verdict.

Lancaster JetHawks Pitching - 22.9 5.13 ERA/1.44 WHIP)

Albert Cartwight

Cartwright won't be 23 until the end of October, but he's hitting .304/.364/.528 for Lancaster with 43 extra-base hits (24 doubles, 9 triples, 10 homers). He's getting pretty lucky, with a .368 BABIP, and his Home/Road splits are skewed: At home, he's hitting .353/.412/.612 with a .398 BABIP. On the road, he's hitting .250/.311/.434, with an overall 49.8% groundball rate, 35.1% flyball rate, and 14.3% line drive rate.

Verdict: Play it out in California.

Dallas Keuchel

The California League is quite obviously a hitter's league, so when a pitcher dominates, it's really encouraging. For instance: LHP Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel is 22, almost a full year younger than his Cal League counterparts. Yet Keuchel is leading the rotation with a 3.30 ERA (team average is 5.28) and a 1.27 WHIP. His FIP is 4.23, and he's still been a touch unlucky with a .307 BABIP. He gets a ton of groundballs (62.2%, compared to 22.4% flyballs). Eight of the ten home runs he's allowed have come at home, and he's got a .348 home BABIP. And he's thrown eight straight quality starts, dating back to May 28.

Verdict: Bring him up!

Lexington Legends

League Average: 21.8 years old, 3.79 ERA/1.31 WHIP, 2.61 K:BB ratio

Jose Altuve

The SAL average age for batters is 21.5 years old, with a .702 OPS (.256/.323/.379). Yet Jose Altuve is 20, with a .301/.355/.439 slash line - 91 points over league average in OPS. He has only struck out in 12.2% of his plate appearances, and while his 27 walks come out to only 7.2% of his plate appearances, he's now leading the team in batting average. He's consistent, too, hitting LHP for an .816 OPS and RHP for a .789 OPS. At home his OPS is .818, compared to .775 on the road. If Altuve doesn't get called up, it won't be an egregious error, as he's younger than his competition by about a year and a half, but we should be keeping an eye on him.

Verdict: Play it out in the SAL.

Arcenio Leon

The SAL average age for a pitcher is 21.8 years old, and Leon will be 24 in September. In 55.2IP, Leon has posted a 2.33 ERA/1.17 WHIP, below the league average of 3.79 ERA/1.31 WHIP. He also is posting 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and it's not a matter of luck, either. His FIP is 2.77, and his BABIP is .284. Right-handed batters are hitting .152 against him, and he's striking them out to the tune of 45K:14BB. His groundball rate (58.8%) is well-suited to Lancaster, as well.

Verdict: Bring him up!

Heath Bell thinks San Diego would work for Berkman

Paul Sullivan's article in today's San Diego Union-Tribune talks about the Padres wanting to add an impact bat, along the lines of Corey Hart or Lance Berkman.

Closer Heath Bell, on Berkman:
“I think a change of scenery would be good for him. We’ve done worse (defensively) with the outfield position. I don’t think he could hurt us that much. He could play there four days a week and Adrian (Gonzalez) could get a day off (at first base) once a week.”

If someone else gets hurt in Boston, the Red Sox might come calling

Nick Cafardo writes on how the Red Sox are approaching the trade deadline. One way? Waiting for half the team to get healthy. But if someone else goes down in the rotation, the Red Sox might start calling Ed Wade.

Cafardo:
A Red Sox team source indicated that if a major injury occurs in the second half, the team would make a trade if it was in a position to win. For example, the team could swing a deal for Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren if a starter went down. The only way we’ll know if this is a probability is if another major Sox player was to be injured.

Mets are about to flip a coin

The New York Daily News' Andy Martino explains that, with R.A. Dickey dominating and Cliff Lee off the board, they are trying to decide how best to improve the rotation.

Two Houston Astros, Oswalt and Myers, are also possibilities for New York. The Mets still consider Houston’s asking price for Oswalt prohibitive—the Astros want significant salary relief and top prospects for their ace—but they will continue to monitor the situation in case in changes...

...In terms of dollars and talent, Myers, 29, might be the most appealing option. The righty is owed about $2.5 this season and has an $8 million mutual option for 2011. Lilly, a free agent after this season, is owed about $6 million. Oswalt has about $25 million remaining for this season and next, and a $16 million option for 2012. Westbrook has about $16 million left on a three-year contract that expires after next season.

Paulino might not be making that start, and what's up with Moehler

Felipe Paulino's shoulder tendinitis has flared up, causing some concern among the Apparatus, and it doesn't look like he'll be making that Tuesday start.

Ed Wade:
"We're going to send him back to Houston for an MRI over the weekend. We're going to need a starter for Tuesday who is yet to be determined."

Paulino, on how he felt after his rehab start in Corpus:
“It was hurting so much I could not pick up a glass of water."

This is further complicated by Brian Moehler's placement on the DL - backdated to July 8 - thanks to a groin strain. The Chronicle says this is "in anticipation of a roster move," expected by Sunday.

Stay tuned folks. With Meszaros heading up to Round Rock, someone's coming to Houston.

Josh Banks feels good about his decision, Hooton breaks him down

Banks' hometown paper, Hometown Glenburnie, has a nice little profile on Josh Banks.

Banks:
"I definitely feel comfortable with my decision to sign with Houston. They have given me the opportunity to go out and start every fifth day, which is all I can ask for. I've found it's a real fair organization. If you perform well and do things right, you will be rewarded."

On that one start in Arlington:
"It's a shame because I got a shot and just didn't have good stuff that day. I've made 18 starts on the season and all but three have been quality. I just wish I'd been able to come through for the Astros when they needed me."

Pitching Coach Burt Hooton:
"Josh has proven that he's a good, solid starter at the Triple-A level, but the real education comes in the big leagues. Josh's best shot is to find a team that will afford him a chance to settle in at the major league level and show his consistency, competitiveness and command. He doesn't have the luxury of making mistakes because he doesn't have the real electric stuff. I've tried to get Josh to cut down on how many different pitches he throws - instead of using six, why not master three. My philosophy is that you pitch with your fastball and occasionally use other stuff to work off it."

Banks:
"I really like this organization and would love to stay here, but that's up to the front office folks."

What the heck is going on with the Astros?

With their G90 win over Pittsburgh last night, the Astros improved to 20-14 in the NL Central. Why is this notable? Because no other team with a losing record has a winning record within their division. There are only five teams in the National League with an inter-divisional record of five games over .500. And they are:

St. Louis: 21-16 vs. NLC
Colorado: 21-16 vs. NLW
Houston: 20-14 vs. NLC
Cincinnati: 25-15 vs. NLC
Los Angeles: 23-6 (incredible) vs. NLW

From April 5 to May 31, the Astros were 17-34, hitting .230/.282/.325, 308K:115BB.

Depressing, right?

Well, from June 1 - July 16, the Astros are 20-19, hitting .248/.313/.377, 241K:124BB.

Tranzactionz!

Got some transactions for you on this beautiful Saturday morning:

July 16

Round Rock activated Josh Banks (All-Star Game)
Round Rock assigned Danny Meszaros to Round Rock from Corpus

In 26 appearances for the Hooks (32IP), Meszaros allowed 28H/11ER, with 42K:16BB for a 3.09 ERA/1.38 WHIP. In his last ten games, Meszaros has allowed 8H/1ER, 15K:6BB in 12.1IP.

Corpus placed Marcos Cabral on the Temporarily Inactive list, and activated Jordan Lyles (All-Star Game)

Lexington activated Dan Sarisky from the 7-Day DL.

Greeneville assigned B.J. Hagen to GCL Astros.

In seven appearances for the Gastros, Hagen (an off-season signee) allowed 19H/11ER in 10IP, with a 9.90 ERA/1.90 WHIP. He last pitched for Greeneville on July 10, when he allowed 6H/4ER in 1.1IP.

Eddie's Farm: July 16

Round Rock

Okay, so that was a wild one. Round Rock took a 3-0 lead, Albuquerque brought it back to 5-3 at the end of the 2nd. At the end of the fifth, it was 10-6 Albuquerque and Round Rock tied it up in the middle of the 7th. Then Albuquerque got a 5-run 8th inning and Round Rock could only get two back, and lose 16-13. Amazingly, the Express only used three pitchers: Sergio Perez (5IP, 11H/10R - 7ER - 1K:2BB), Yorman Bazardo (2IP, 3H/1ER, 0K:1BB) and Roy Corcoran, who crapped the bed with 1IP, 6H/5ER. Obviously, the big story was the offense. Wladimir Sutil was 3x5 with a homer and 3RBI. Edwin Maysonet was 3x5 with a double, homer, and 3RBI. Collin DeLome was 2x5 with 2HR/3RBI, and Drew Locke (2x4, 2BB, 3R), Ramon Vazquez (2x4, RBI), Brian Esposito (2x5, 2B, RBI), and German Duran (2x3) rounded out your multi-hit games.

Man of the Match: Collin DeLome

Corpus

Corpus got rocked at Frisco with a 7-0 loss. Jordan Lyles threw 7IP, 8H/4R (1ER), 3K:2BB for the loss, and Erik Stiller had a rough go of it, allowing 4H/3ER in 1IP. J.D. Martinez, making his Double-A debut, was 2x3. Shuck, Florentino, Parejo, and Santangelo added the other hits. Koby Clemens was 0x3 with 3K:1BB.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

Lancaster

The JetHawks put up a 5-spot on Modesto in the 6th on their way to a 10-6 win. Leandro Cespedes threw 4.2IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:3BB; Mike Modica got the win, throwing 1.1IP, 2H/0ER. Brian Wabick allowed a run in 1IP, and David Duncan allowed a two-run homer in 0.1IP. David Berner closed it out with five perfect outs for his 10th save. Andy Simunic was 4x5 with a triple and a homer; Brian Pellegrini was 3x5 with 4RBI, and Albert Cartwright, Lee Cruz (3RBI), Mark Ori, and Brandon Wikoff had multi-hit games. Brandon Barnes hit a two-run homer to go with a walk.

Man of the Match: Andy Simunic

Lexington

Brutal! The Legends struck out nine times in a 3-1 loss to Hickory. Luis Cruz allowed 11H/3ER, 2K:1BB in 6.2IP, and Wander Alvino threw 2.1IP, 3H/0ER. Our Boy Aaron Bray was 2x4, and Rene Garcia was 2x4 with a double and an RBI. Renzo Tello - hitting .316 since coming up from Tri-City - was 1x4 with a double. Jiovanni Mier was 0x4 with 3Ks.

Man of the Match Rene Garcia

Tri-City

Brutal night for the pitching staff as Auburn got out to a 10-0 lead before the ValleyCats got two back in the 9th. ValleyCats drop 10-2. Jake Bucnahan threw 2IP, 6H/7R (6ER), 1K:2BB, and Joan Belliard allowed 3H/2ER in 2IP. Brandt Walker allowed a run in 1.2IP. Adam Champion and Chris Blazek combined for 2.1IP, 3H/0ER. Wilton Infante was 2x4, and Ben Orloff, Enrique Hernandez, Dan Adamson, and Buck Afenir also got a hit. Ryan McCurdy and Hernandez provided the RBIs.

Man of the Match: Wilton Infante.

Greeneville

Burlington jumped on Greeneville for a 5-0 lead by the middle of the 6th, and rode it out for a 6-2 win. Angel Gonzalez threw 5.2IP, 7H/5R (4ER), 5K:2BB. Jamaine Cotton allowed 2H/1ER, 2K:2BB in 2.1IP, and John Frawley threw a perfect 9th. Pedro Feliz was 1x4 with a double and a walk, while Marcus Nidiffer and Ryan Humphrey got a hit and drew a walk each. Chris Wallace was 0x2, but drew two walks. Jhonny Medrano and Ricardo Heredia provided the RBIs.

Man of the Match: Jhonny Medrano

GCL Astros

Off.

Friday, July 16, 2010

From the Office of the County Clerk - G90: Astros @ Pirates

The Astros didn't trail the Pirates at any point during this game, and they have six wins against one team. Yes, the Pirates, after the Astros win 5-2.

*Can we just point out that when Jason Bourgeois starts for the Astros, they are 3-2, and two of those losses came against Texas with Carlos Lee also in the starting lineup? It's an extremely small sample size, but still...interesting.

*Bourgeois got on base twice, once by hit and once by walk, scoring two runs for the Astros. He also stole two bases, meaning that in his short time with the team, Bourgeois is third on the team with five stolen bases.

*Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to seven games (10x23, 4K:6BB) with a 2x3, BB night.

*Angel Sanchez got his first career RBI, on a 6th inning sac fly, scoring Pence and second Johnson to 3rd for a 4-1 win.

*Tonight, Jeff Keppinger went 2x4 with 3RBI. It's his fifth 3+ RBI night of the season, and his 4th home run of the year. He's now three home runs short of a career high, set last year, with seven.

*Chris Johnson had an all-or-nothing night, going 1x4 with 3Ks. Of the 21 games Johnson has started, he's struck out more than once in just three of them (though he has struck out at all in 16 of the 25 games in which he's appeared.

*Of the 13 pitches Johnson saw tonight, he only made contact on two - singling on one, and fouling off another.

*Brett Myers pitched well, in what may be an audition start for potential dance partners, throwing 7.2IP, 5H/2ER, 4K:1BB.

*Of the 19 starts that Myers has made to this point in the season, he has gone 7.1IP+ in just three of them. However, he has not gotten fewer than 18 outs in any start this season. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 12 of those 19 starts.

*Myers got the first nine batters he faced, allowing a leadoff double to Andrew McCutchen in the 4th inning, and got 16 of the first 17 batters he faced (and 23 of the first 26). He allowed a leadoff baserunner in two innings, and both later came around to score.

*Five of Lindstrom's last six outings have been perfect appearances. Tonight was the first night since June 25 (four outings) that he didn't strike out a batter.

*When starting the 2nd inning with the lead, as the Astros did tonight, they are now 14-13. They've been tied or behind in 63 of the 90 games they have played.

Pitch Count Hero: Jason Bourgeois (1x4, BB) - 30 pitches in five PAs.

Pitch Count Punk: Jeff Keppinger (2x4) - 8 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: This one goes to Keppinger.

Goat of the Game: We're going with Berkman. 0x4, 1K. Ended two innings.

Dodgers need a starting pitcher, and have flexibility

Jim Bowden just talked to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, and found out that the Dodgers:

a) Need a starting pitcher, a reliever, and
b) have the flexibility to make a major transaction.

Good news for the Astros, perhaps?

Mets, Twins apparently in the lead to land Ted Lilly

According to Hardball Talk, the Mets and Twins are the front-runners to land Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly:

And so he did. (Chicago Tribune's Paul) Sullivan notes that "Hendry would like to keep Lilly, but he doesn't know if the Cubs can meet his free agent demands in November so he has to consider getting something in return." He also adds that the Mets and Twins are the most likely suitors for Lilly, which matches an earlier report from Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com in Minnesota.

The good news about this? If they're willing to spend $6 million (-ish) on Lilly for half the season, one of them will lose out, and they may start to get desperate. The Roy trade will go on for another couple of weeks as he's trying to get that franchise wins record before he pisses off to a team that can actually win something.

Lee held out of G90

Thanks to his "travel issues," Carlos Lee will have some time to think about what he's done, just waiting until his father comes home. Bernardo Fallas is reporting that Lee is out of the lineup for G90 against the Pirates.

Neyer responds to Heyman's column

Rob Neyer wrote a counterpoint to Jon Heyman's column (linked earlier) regarding Roy's contract status, and the "difficulty" in trading him:

According to FanGraphs, Oswalt was worth $14 million last season, and is heading toward $18 million this season. That's $16 million per season. Granted, you might not be able to justify those salaries if you're running an American League team, and you might not be able to justify spending that money and giving up two prospects. I'm just saying that Oswalt's contract really isn't outrageous, and that exercising the 2012 option wouldn't be a terrible risk.

J.D. Martinez' new role

Nice info, and give and take, with the Crawfish Boxes and Zach Levine on the role of J.D. Martinez with Corpus:

Levine:
Astros confirm J.D. Martinez promoted to AA Corpus. OF with Shuck, Gaston while Steele is on DL.

In which TCB asked the valid question:
Does that mean Martinez may be demoted when Steele comes off the DL?

And Levine responded:
It's not viewed as temporary. There are ways to make room with rotating off-days and DH use.

Zach Levine has a blog post on the promotion, in which Ricky Bennett says out loud what we've been saying for weeks:

"He had nothing left to prove."

Martinez will play a corner outfield spot, and DH and fill scheduled days-off spots to get full-time action.

ESPN's Pick Center for G90: Astros @ Pirates

ESPN's Pick Center, Powered by AccuScore! says that:

-The Pirates will win G90 4.1 to 3.9
-The Pirates have a 52% chance of winning G90.
-Berkman has the highest chance, on both teams, of hitting a home run.

Roy wants the record at home

The post All-Star Break rotation was set up with some input from Roy, who wants to set the franchise wins record at home, so he'll pitch at Pittsburgh and, provided he wins, have two chances - against Cincinnati and Milwaukee - to break the record at home.

"I thought it'd be special to do it at home. I told Brad that if I could do it at home, it would mean a lot more. The fans have been behind me for 10 years. If I could somehow win a road game here, then I go back home and have two more chances."

Ain't nobody what wants Roy's $25 million

So it seems as though there aren't too many teams who want to pick up all of Roy's remaining $25 million, according to Jon Heyman.

It appears no team, not even the Yankees or Red Sox, wants to spend the $25 million left on Oswalt's deal through next season. Plus, some GMs say they are under the impression Oswalt wants his $16 million option for 2012 picked up, which could be a deal killer for many, if not most, teams. And while the Astros have signaled they might be willing to contribute toward that amount, they'd want big-time prospects back to do so. Then there's the matter of Oswalt's no-trade clause. "I hear he only wants to go to a couple teams," one GM said. Oswalt demanded a trade but isn't making it easy.

Heyman also notes the trade value of a couple of other Astros.

Wandy:
He had a big 2009 but has struggled so far this year for the abysmal Astros, leading the league with 11 losses and posting a 4.97 ERA. No word on his availability yet except that Houston is said to consider almost anyone. Some team probably could see a turnaround coming.

Brandon Lyon:
Solid reliever is having a decent year (5-3, 3.66 ERA) but he has a steep contract ($15 million, three years) that runs through 2011, limiting his value.

If Josh Flores comes back, he's not playing for 50 games

Former Eddie's Farmhand Josh Flores has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test result for a drug of abuse.

Flores was released back in June, and his suspension will begin if he signs with another team.

Mitch Einertson was the last Astros prospect to be suspended for a drug of abuse, which the Biz of Baseball (linked) lists as:

1. Cocaine
2. LSD
3. Marijuana
4. Opiates (e.g., Heroin, Codeine, Morphine)
5. MDMA (“Ecstasy”)
6. GHB; and
7. Phencyclidine (“PCP”)

Astros complete second workout with released Brewers pitcher

The Astros have taken two good looks at Calallen pitcher, and former 9th round Brewers draft pick, Kristian Bueno.

Bueno pitched Thursday at an Astros tryout camp at Weslaco East High School under the watchful eye of Houston scout Rusty Pendergrass, consistently throwing in the 91-93 mile per hour range.

Bueno:
"This is my second tryout with the Astros here. I did the one in the Woodlands on the 10th. It didn't go so good. It was a little rough. I worked on some pitching during the week and came out here and I think I had a pretty fair performance. I hadn't been to one of these since I was 18 and I'm 21 now. I was just trying to get back into the rhythm of how these things work, warming up quicker on the mound. You only have 15 pitches to really impress somebody."

Astros scout Rusty Pendergrass:
"He's left handed. That's all I will say. I can't give any secrets away."

Well, thank God the Astros know he's left-handed. Now I'm going to sign him to my team.

Bueno:
"It's kind of up in the air right now. We don't really know much now. I'm just hoping I get a chance to play for the Astros. They know I live in Corpus and Double-A is the Corpus Christi Hooks. I think that would be really cool. To play in Houston, that would be a dream."

Domino Effect: Roy Oswalt

So in thinking about possible scenarios should the Astros trade Roy Oswalt, it's a good time to think about the domino effect that would have on the system.

Scenario: Astros trade Roy Oswalt for two minor-leaguers.

Effect #1: The Astros are down a starting pitcher.
Effect #2: This would lead to a rotation of Wandy, Myers, Norris, Paulino, and XXX. This is assuming that the Astros don't get a starting pitcher who would immediately step into the rotation.
Effect #3: Brian Moehler would likely regain SP5.
Effect #3b: If Moehler doesn't take SP5 for some reason, the Astros could add Wesley Wright or Polin Trinidad from Round Rock, as they are the only starters on the 40-man roster already.
Effect #4: Savings in payroll. Trading Roy, even if the Astros take on half of his contract, would free up approximately $12 million. Given that the Astros will likely have a higher draft pick in 2011 than 2010, $12 million is handy.
Effect #5: It's a visible sign that anything goes on the roster. If Roy goes, Lance could follow, and Myers is more likely to head out. That would lead to a longer list of effects which will be breached later.

What are we missing in this list?

Taking advantage of the opportunities that are available

Apparently, it hasn't been decided if the Astros (36-53) are sellers yet.

Ed Wade:
"You have to be mindful of the fact that this is the time of year where there are some opportunities that present themselves to change the face of your club and hopefully, in the process, improve your club. You also travel a parallel path that we need to get some guys healthy, get them back on the mound and be prepared to go forward with the group that's here right now. There's no guarantees that the composition of the club changes in any fashion, much less dramatically."

Berkman:
"This is going to be an interesting couple of weeks if you're an Astros fan. Because this is a spot (being sellers ahead of the trading deadline) where we've really never been in before. I'll be interested just like everyone else to see just how the organization goes about it and see what happens."

Wade:
"It wouldn't be first time that this club has bounced back and played very, very well over the second half of the season. And certainly we would hope that would be the case this year as well. We need to be more consistent," Wade said. "We've got elements in play, and the middle of the lineup has a great track record individually and collectively. And I think if they establish that level of consistency that they are capable of, it makes a lot of things good.

"It provides a little bit of breathing room for the pitching staff to go out there and relax a little bit. We can also play better defense. Our defense hasn't been as good this year as it has been in the past."


Call me a fatalist, but I kind of hope the Astros don't go on one of their customary runs. It's already a (contention-wise) wasted season, because of the struggles of Berkman and Lee (and xxx and xxx and xxx - I get it). So to go 50-29 from here out, and ruin some other teams' playoff chances would be fun for a while, but would lead to a #14 draft pick, or something like that. And if there's anything you want to get from a losing season, it's tools to rebuild. If the Astros don't take this opportunity to rebuild and add to the minor-league system, then there really must not be any sort of plan in place.

Brett Myers may have a chance to stick it to the Phillies more often

Before the season started, Brett Myers explained that he couldn't wait to stick it to the Phillies. If what Buster Olney hears is true, that may be more often.

An interesting possibility among the starting pitchers that the Mets are considering: Brett Myers, who is having a good season for HOU.

Carlos Lee, get your crap together

At least he didn't say he forgot what day it was. Carlos Lee missed the voluntary workout yesterday in Pittsburgh due to "flight issues," and his absence will be considered unexcused.

Three unexcused absences and he is issued a citation. Two citations and he receives a verbal warning. Eight verbal warnings, and a note goes in his personnel file. Four notes in his personnel file and he has to run 20 extra feet.

Ed Wade ain't happy, but we all remember what happened last time Easy Eddie got all riled up in the clubhouse:

“The workout was not mandatory — clubs are not allowed to make post-All-Star break workouts mandatory, but I’m still disappointed that he wasn’t there. It would have been respectful if he would have been there.”

Michael Bourn wasn't there, either, but had an excuse from the club. Here's Carlos Lee's take-away: If you want to skip practices, get named to the All-Star team.

Has J.D. Martinez actually been freed?

There's a little rumor going around that J.D. Martinez was told after last night's game that he should pack his things to experience what the Gulf Coast has to offer.

Update: It's been confirmed. J.D. Martinez is heading to Corpus Christi. He'll be the first pick from the 2009 Draft to reach Double-A.

Bubby Williams wins 2nd Annual Astros County Adopt-a-Player poll

Edging out Travis Blankenship by one vote is Greeneville's Bubby Williams! Congratulations to Williams, who will be the recipient of adulation and a random box of randomness (of course, you will get to see what's in the box)

Eddie's Farm: July 15

Round Rock

Albuquerque scored the final four runs in the 8th and 9th innings to send it to extras tied at 6-6, but Tommy Everidge is a large man hitting large home runs. He gets one in the 10th and the Express win 7-6. Wesley Wright threw 6.2IP, 4H/2ER, 6K:1BB, and Jonah Bayliss allowed 4H/2ER in 1.1IP. Gary Majewski gets the blown save and the win with 2H/2R (0ER), 2K:1BB with both runs coming on Matt Kata's fielding error. Edwin Maysonet was 3x4 with 2RBI, Drew Locke was 2x5 with a double, 2RBI, and two outfield assists. Edwin Bellorin hit his first homer of the year, a two-run shot, and Everidge's game-winner was his 11th of the season.

Man of the Match: Drew Locke.

Corpus

Down 4-3 going into the 9th, Corpus scored two runs in the top half and held on for the 5-4 win. Jeremy Johnson threw 6IP, 4H/2ER, 4K:1BB, Evan Englebrook allowed 1H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP. Fernando Abad got the win with an unearned run-less 8th, and Danny Meszaros got his 10th save of the year. Everyone in the lineup (save for Jose Vallejo) got a hit, with David Cook (2x4, RBI), Jonathan Fixler (2x4, 3B, RBI) getting your multi-hit games. Freddy Parejo doubled in the game-winning runs in the top of the 9th.

Man of the Match: Freddy Parejo

Lancaster

Modesto got three in the top of the 1st, and that's all they needed for a 3-1 win over the JetHawks. Pat Urckfitz threw 7IP, 4H/3ER, 4K:1BB for the loss. Ashton Mowdy allowed 2H/2ER, 0K:2BB in 1IP, and Shane Wolf allowed 2H/1ER in the 9th. Barry Butera was 1x3 with a triple and an RBI, and Federico Hernandez got his own triple. Other hits came courtesy of Jay Austin (and an outfield assist), Brian Pellegrini, Brandon Barnes, and David Flores.

Man of the Match: Pat Urckfitz

Lexington

The Legends withstood a two-run 9th by Hickory to hold on for the 3-2 win. Jose Cisnero threw 6IP, 2H/0ER, 8K:3BB for the win, while Brenden Stines threw a scoreless 7th. Arcenio Leon threw 2IP, 3H/2R (0ER - on Mier's 24th error). J.D. Martinez was 2x3 with a walk, and Rene Garcia was 2x3 with a double. Jake Goebbert was 1x2 with two walks, and the RBIs came courtesy of Renzo Tello, Jonathan Meyer, and Jiovanni Mier.

Man of the Match: Jose Cisnero

Tri-City

The offense is starting to click in Tri-City as the ValleyCats scored eight runs in the final four innings for a 9-8 win over Auburn. Bobby Doran threw 3IP, 5H/5ER, 4K:1BB, and Andrew Robinson allowed 2H/1ER, 3K:0BB in 2IP. Travis Blankenship (2IP) and Chris Blazek (1IP) threw scoreless innings, while Mike Ness made things interesting, allowing two runs in the 9th, but still getting the save. Wilton Infante was 2x3 with two runs for your only multi-hit game. Ben Heath was 1x3 with 3RBI, and Enrique Hernandez and Adam Bailey had your other RBIs - taking advantage of four Auburn errors for three unearned runs.

Man of the Match: Ben Heath

Greeneville

The Gastros battled all night long, down 3-0, tied 4-4, tied 7-7, to win 13-8 over Burlington. Euris Quezada allowed 8H/7R (5ER), 0K:2BB in 4.1IP, and Garrett Bullock got the win with 1.2 scoreless IP. Ryan Cole threw a scoreless 7th of his own, and Phil Rorabaugh allowed 3H/1ER in 2IP. Big night for the offense. Chris Wallace was 3x4 (3B, HR, 5RBI), Jhonny Medrano was 3x5 (3RBI), Carlos Mojica was 3x5 (2B, RBI), Ricardo Garcia was 2x5 (2B, 2RBI), Marcus Nidiffer was 2x4 (2B, BB), and Hector Rodriguez rounded out the multi-hit games with a 2x4 game. The Gastros did commit four errors (Mojica, Garcia, Lane, Feliz) on the night.

Man of the Match: Chris Wallace

GCL Astros

And the GCL Astros round it out with a 3-0 loss, despite out-hitting the GCL Mets 10-6. Jose Perdomo threw 5IP, 2H/1R (0ER), 6K:2BB and got the loss. Jeremiah Meiners allowed 2H/2R (1ER), 2K in 1IP. Pedro Gomez and Emmanuel Cedano matched each other with 1IP, 1H/0ER outings. Jose Perdomo has allowed 1ER in 20IP, with 22K:7BB in four starts this season. Ryan Ditthardt was 3x4, Jose Vargas was 2x3, and Rafael Valenzuela was 2x4 on the night. The GCL Astros were 1x12 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: Jose Perdomo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tranzactionz

A couple of notes for you from yesterday:

Lexington placed Tanner Bushue on the Temporarily Inactive list
Lexington activated Grant Hogue from the Bereavement Leave list.

The Astros and Innings Pitched

We're big proponents of taking a gander at innings pitched from year-to-year, and I had about three hours' worth of work put into looking at Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, and Eddie's Farm for target IPs in 2010. But the Crawfish Boxes beat me to it.

Give it a click.

Adrian Gonzalez doesn't want the Padres to mess up the team

Good read from the San Diego Union-Tribune on what the Padres need to do to preserve their divisional lead. Adrian Gonzalez isn't interested in sideways moves.

Gonzalez:
“I think we’re good enough right now to win the division. But do we want to be satisfied with that? Do we want to be happy with just getting there?”

If not, Gonzalez believes the Padres need to add a player or two — another bat and a pitcher. But he also believes the Padres should cautiously advance in that direction. Not every player coming available on the market will be the right piece for the Padres.

“You can’t think you are making things better by messing them up. A sideways move is a negative move. We need to keep this group of guys together and add to it. We believe in each other. That’s why we are where we are.”


The Padres are said by Bill Center (author) to be interested in moving Berkman to left field.

Mills focusing on getting better

Brad Mills' hometown newspaper, the Visalia Times-Delta, has an article on Mills' 1st half as a manager.

Mills:
We can't sit here and wallow in self pity. We're working on getting better. That's been the goal since Day 1."

On the trade rumors:
"It's going to be tough to move those guys, but we have to continue to play hard through all the rumors. "Every day we have to move on. We want to move on. We want to get better."

47th Round pick leaning towards college

It's not a shocking, or even surprising, move. 47th Round pick Joe Carcone - out of New Hartford, NY - is leaning towards taking that scholarship to Le Moyne.

Carcone made the first team after batting .552 and earning Tri Valley League East Division Player of the Year honors. A .429career hitter, he is leaning towards accepting a Le Moyne College scholarship offer over a minor-league contract with the Astros.

Wade praises Mills. Mills ducks and covers.

When you get the vote of confidence from the GM, it's generally not a good thing, but I do believe Brad Mills has done an excellent job in his first half-season.

Wade:
"Obviously our performance has been disappointing, but I don’t think it’s any reflection on what he’s done. His level of preparation, in-game strategy and communication with the players, to me, has been absolutely admirable. I think if you had a checklist of criteria on which to gauge a successful and competent manager, every box would be checked."

Mills isn't buying it:
"The measuring stick is always wins and losses. It always is. I don’t care where you’re at. There’s different angles that you’re going to look at, and if you use that as a measuring stick, we certainly haven’t done very well."

Bourn:
"One thing about him is that he’s always encouraging, and he keeps the poker face on; he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. If you look down at him during the first inning or during the sixth inning or whether we’re winning or we’re losing, you don’t see too much of a difference."

Levine on Seaton

Good article from Zach Levine on Ross Seaton, and how he's trying to stay out of his own way at Lancaster.

Seaton:
"Just stay relaxed, let my body do everything and get out of my own way. I tend to overthink things a lot. Just get the ball, see where I want to throw it and just throw it there."

Ricky Bennett:
The mental approach isn't the only thing the Astros are trying to change. According to assistant general manager Ricky Bennett, who runs the farm system, they are working on a couple mechanical issues, trying to keep Seaton over the rubber longer and lower his arm slot.

"He's doing everything we've asked him to do, it just hasn't translated into games yet," Bennett said.


Manager Tom Lawless:
"This year he hasn't been able to find the command he had last year; he's gone through some changes. He's got plenty of velocity, it's just a matter of being able to throw it over the plate."

Levine points it out, but let's all remember that Seaton is 20, and won't be 21 until September. Yes, his ERA is up almost a run and a half from last year, and his hits are up 2.4H/9innings. His Ks are only down to 5.3 from 5.8 per nine innings, and his walks are up almost a full walk (3.4, as opposed to 2.6). But he has shown improvement this month. His groundball rate jumped to 45% from 40.5% from June to July. His WHIP is down from 1.95 to 1.36 in the same period, and he's struck out 14 batters and walked seven, as opposed to 9K:13BB in June. He's also been fairly unlucky this season, with July being the first month that his BABIP was under .300 (topping out at .387 in June).

Eddie's Farm: July 14

Round Rock

The Express were off, but it was the Triple-A All-Star Game, and Josh Banks was on the hook for the 2-1 loss. Banks allowed 3H/2ER in the 6th inning. Brian Bogusevic didn't get in the game.

Corpus

Off.

Lancaster

LAncaster blew a huge lead in their 14-11 loss to Modesto. The JetHawks took an 8-0 lead into the 5th, allowed it to get to 11-8 by the mid-7th, tied it up, and ended up allowing the final three runs in the top of the 9th. Kyle Greenwalt threw 5.2IP, 8H/5ER, 5K:2BB, while a bullpen of Godfrey, Modica (4H/4ER, 0 outs), Edwin Walker, Brian Wabick, and David Berner combining to allow 8H/9ER, 2K:5BB in 3.1IP. David Flores was 4x5 with two doubles, Jay Austin was 2x5 (SB, RBI), Albert Cartwright was 2x4 (HR, 2RBI), Brian Pellegrini was 2x5 (HR, 2RBI), and Barry Butera rounded out the two-hit games with 2x5 (3RBI). Lee Cruz added a home run, as well.

Man of the Match: Barry Butera

Lexington

The Legends withstood a late Hickory rally and took it 7-4. Juan Minaya threw 5IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:3BB for the win. Zach Grimmett allowed 4H/3ER, 3K:1BB in 3IP; Colton Pitkin allowed 2H/1ER and Kirk Clark got his 20th save with 1H/0ER in 0.2IP. Lots of two-hit games here: Jose Altuve (SB, RBI), J.D. Martinez (BB, HR, 2RBI), Jonathan Meyer (2B), Our Boy Aaron Bray (2RBI), and Jiovanni Mier (2B, BB). Can we just point out the turnaround Our Boy Aaron Bray has experienced this season? In April/May, he was 18x93 with three extra-base hits. Since June 1, he has gone 38x107 with nine extra-base hits, raising his average to .267.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

Tri-City

The ValleyCats took it to Auburn with an 11-2 win last night. Carlos Quevedo threw 6IP, 7H/2ER, 4K:1BB for the win, while Alex Sogard (1K), Jason Chowning (1H, 1K), and Jorge De Leon (1K) threw three scoreless innings in relief. Tyler Burnett was 3x3 with a three runs, a double, homer, two walks and two RBI. Ben Heath (2x4, 2B, HR, 2RBI), Ben Orloff (2x6), Mike Kvasnicka (2x5, 2B, 3RBI), and Wilton Infante (2x4, 2B, BB) recorded your multi-hit games. Jacke Healey was 1x5 with 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Tyler Burnett

Greeneville

The New Guys dominated this game, as Greeneville held Burlington to a three-hit shutout in a 6-0 win. Mike Foltynewicz threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:0BB and Vincent Velasquez earned his first professional win with 3IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:0BB. Jeiler Castillo and Brian Streilein threw perfect innings. Foltynewicz got five strikeouts, five groundball outs, and two fly outs. Velasquez got three groundball outs, and two fly outs. Emilio King was 3x4 with two doubles, and Ricardo Garcia (2x4), Jhonny Medrano (2x3, 2B, HR, 2RBI) and Marcus Nidiffer (2x4, HR, RBI) had your multi-hit games. Chris Wallace hit a 2-run homer, his sixth of the year.

Man of the Match: Foltynewicz/Velasquez.

GCL Astros

The GCL Cardinals shutout the GCL Astros 3-0. Mark Jones threw 6IP, 5H/0ER, 6K:1BB while Austin Lucas took the loss with 3H/2R (1ER) in 1.1IP. Matison Smith allowed an unearned run on a hit and a walk in 1.2IP. Jones got ten groundball outs, six strikeouts, and two flyouts on the night. Jose Fernandez had two of the Astros' five hits, with Ryan Ditthardt, Kyle Redinger, and Jordan Scott collecting the other hits.

Man of the Match: Mark Jones (Who?) Mark Jones.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ESPN wonders if Myers is on the block

ESPN's Rumor Central wonders, but doesn't speculate, on whether or not Brett Myers is available:

One would expect right-hander Brett Myers, in Houston on a one-year contract, is trade-available with the Astros sitting in last place in the National Central. The talk has been about Roy Oswalt and first baseman Lance Berkman, but without tons of guaranteed money attached to his right arm or a no-trade clause in his contract, Myers could potentially land the club a decent player or two before the deadline.

They list the Twins, Tigers, Dodgers, Cardinals, Rangers (!), and Phillies as potential destinations.

Dierker has 9000 words on trading Roy Oswalt

Larry Dierker's routine post for MLB.com discusses the ins and outs of trading Roy Oswalt, and doesn't understand what all the fuss is about:

If you trade for Oswalt, you pay the price in the player(s) you lose, and also in salary. But Roy still has another year on his contract and he is having a great year. If you really like him, are confident you will contend again next year and are willing to gamble that he will stay healthy, his salary may actually be an advantage...

...Finding a trading partner isn't easy. Most teams have good young players, but don't want to part with them for the same reason the buying team wants them -- they have great talent and don't make much money. If you are selling, you typically need help at specific positions and have to match up with a team that has the type of players you need. The Astros need help in almost every position, which should make it easier to trade Roy.


So JUST DO IT, ALREADY!

Stan McNeal: Astros keeping Roy is "likely"

It's a throw-away line, but the Sporting News' Stan McNeal says the following:

The Twins and Mets might have to settle for a back-of-the-rotation type such as Kevin Millwood or Jake Westbrook to bolster their rotations if, as is likely, the Diamondbacks keep Dan Haren and the Astros don't move Roy Oswalt.

Astros want all that New York has to offer

With a captip to Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest, we find this link about the Mets' pursuit of Roy O.

In the article there's a link to a tweet from Joe DeMayo saying the Astros want Fernando Martinez, Jenrry Mejia, and Ruben Tejada. And the Mets to pick up all of Roy's contract.

Silva:
By all accounts this is not the type of deal Omar Minaya and company would be willing to do...

...My thoughts are the Mets should at least consider the aforementioned package for Oswalt. Fernando Martinez has not proven he is anything more than a replacement fourth outfielder. I like Ruben Tejada but he appears to be a backup and I have been on record as saying I am willing to give up one, but not both, of Flores/Mejia in a deal for a top pitcher. Unlike Lee, Oswalt is actually signed to a contract next season.


If the Astros want this deal to go through, they're going to have to pick up probably half of Roy's remaining salary. And that the Astros want an outfielder is surprising. Granted, Martinez is 21, and is hitting .257/.320/.437 at Triple-A. But does insisting on Martinez being a part of the deal mean that the Astros are looking to trade Bourn or Pence (because we all know Lee isn't going anywhere)? Tejada is a 20-year old 2B hitting .294/.341/.359 in Triple-A. Is Keppinger on the way out - or is Keppinger going to play SS if the Astros cut ties with Manzella? There are so many variables here, it's barely worth speculating on (which is half the fun).

2nd Annual Astros County Adopt-a-Player poll

The 2nd Annual Astros County Adopt-A-Player poll ended in a dead heat, with Bubby Williams and Travis Blankenship finishing up last night tied. So we have ourselves a runoff. Voting ends Wednesday at midnight.


The Makeup of Evan Grills

Here's an article on the Canadian under-18 National Team. Why in the world should we care about that? Because 10th Round pick Evan Grills (who made his debut last night) is on the team.

Head coach Greg Hamilton, on Grills:
"He's a throwback. He's a kid that knows how to pitch and knows how to win and doesn't get overwhelmed by the environment, he'll handle all that. He was here as a 14-year-old pitching against pros, nothing's going to faze the kid."

"The Kid" is about to replace "Bear" as his nickname.

Twins might be out of luck

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Nick Nelson posts an update on the Twins' targets in the wake of them losing out on Cliff Lee (apparently not getting Lee really hurt the Twins' feelings), and where they go from here.

If the Twins want to make a real, significant upgrade to their rotation at the deadline this year, they're pretty much going to have to set their sights on Haren or Oswalt. But, as John Bonnes noted earlier this week on his blog and in his Twins essay for the Primer, there may not be payroll space to take on either of those hurlers...

...Simply put, with Lee gone, the Twins might be out of luck when it comes to adding a starting pitcher this month, unless they're willing to significantly lower their standards.


And on that next tier, Nelson lists one Brett Myers:
Myers' peripheral numbers, however, don't paint a pretty picture; his strikeout rate, walk rate and hit rate are all nearly identical to where they were last year in Philadelphia, when he posted a 4.84 ERA. He's been fortunate enough to see only 8.9 percent of fly balls leave the yard -- easily a career low. His luck would likely catch up with him in the less pitcher-friendly American League.

White Sox pushing for Oswalt?

The Denver Post's Troy E. Renck has an American League Preview, in which he drops this on us:

The White Sox are a scary team, despite the loss of injured pitcher Jake Peavy. General manager Kenny Williams, who isn't afraid to make a bold trade, is pushing to acquire Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt."

Last Friday, Smilin' Ken Rosenthal reported that Roy wouldn't waive his no-trade clause to the White Sox. We'll see if that remains to be true.

2nd Half Numbers

So now that the season unfortunately resumes tomorrow, let's take a look at the current Astros who, in their career, have posted better 2nd Halves than 1st Halves, and vice versa.

Late-bloomers:








NamePAsAvg/OBP/SLGK:BBOPS
Lee - 1st Half4175.284/.337/.494491:308.831
Lee - 2nd Half3049.295/.346/.503361:215.848
Bourn - 1st Half1184.254/.323/.342228:108.665
Bourn - 2nd Half512.276/.339/.352113:41.691
Pence - 1st Half1374.289/.336/.474222:92.810
Pence - 2nd Half685.276/.335/.486151:57.821


Already blew their wad:







NamePAsAvg/OBP/SLGK:BBOPS
Berkman - 1st Half3325.303/.415/.552529:519.968
Berkman - 2nd Half3335.292/.403/.550582:508.953
Keppinger - 1st Half784.284/.346/.39148:65.737
Keppinger - 2nd Half875.276/.323/.38658:52.708
Feliz - 1st Half2628.258/.294/.420380:132.714
Feliz - 2nd Half1757.242/.283/.407267:94.691


Of course there are limitations to these tables. For one, Bourn and Pence haven't played that long, so they have a much larger sample size in the 1st half than they do in the 2nd half. We'll get to the pitchers later today.

Eddie's Farm: July 13

Round Rock

Off - All-Star Break.

Corpus

Felipe Paulino got the rehab start and was able to lead the Hooks to a 5-4 win over NW Arkansas in extra innings. Paulino threw 36 of his 60 pitches for strikes, allowing 2H/0ER, 3K:1BB in 4IP. Tyler Lumsden came in and gave up 4H/4R (3ER) in 2IP, aided by Jeilen Peguero, who got the blown save with 3H/0ER, 3K:0BB in 3IP. Danny Meszaros took home the win with a scoreless 10th inning. Jack Shuck was 3x5 with three runs scored, Michael Affronti (and Spearhead) was 2x4 with two runs scored, and Jon Gaston (2x4, BB) and Koby Clemens (1x4) had 2RBI each, with Clemens getting the game-winning walk-off single. So what you had was the first four batters (Shuck, Affronti, Gaston, and Clemens) go 8x17 with 5R, 4RBI, and 5-9 go 1x19 with 6K:1BB.

Man of the Match: Jack Shuck.

Lancaster

Off.

Lexington

Off.

Tri-City

Canceled - Rain.

Greeneville

Off.

GCL Astros

The GCL Astros took a 2-0 lead over the GCL Nationals, and then the Nats scored the next nine runs for a 9-2 loss. Luis Ordosgoitti threw 3.2IP, 5H/3ER, 2K:2BB, while Pedro Gomez got out of the 4th with the final out of the inning. Evan Grills made his debut, throwing 1IP and allowing a hit. Andrea Lucati threw 1IP, 2H/3ER, 0K:2BB, and 2009 international signee Kilby Pena also made his debut and allowed 2ER on a walk, balk, two wild pitches, and an HBP. A hit, passed ball, and wild pitch by Dieudone Paul brought home the two batters Pena allowed on base. The GCL Astros had five hits, one each from Josh Magee, Rafael Valenzuela, Jose Fernandez, Jose Monzon, and Roberto Pena, with Kyle Redinger hitting a sac fly for the lone RBI.

Man of the Match: Evan Grills, I suppose.

Pankovits: The ValleyCats should be better than they are

In the wake of last night's canceled game (rain), manager Jim Pankovits thinks the day off will do some good for the struggling ValleyCats:

“I’ve got to be perfectly honest. I’m a little surprised that we’re where we’re at. I think we have a better club than we’ve shown. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put together some wins. As you said, we’ve lost a lot of winnable games and I think it’s just a matter of having a good, late-inning type win, maybe a come-from-behind win that might spur some confidence with some guys. I think we’ve got the bats going for the most part now and if we can get a little pitching to go with that and can play a little better defense, we’ll be all right.”

From the season-opener on June 18 to June 26, the ValleyCats were 4-5. From June 27-present, the ValleyCats are 5-10. So after 24 games, Tri-City is 8.5 games back of division leader Vermont, and have the second-worst Win% in the League.

Chris Burke may coach

Following up yesterday's story on Chris Burke's possible retirement, he may turn to coaching, despite getting minor-league offers from "four or five" teams.

"A lot of things have set me up for that field. No. 1, baseball is what I know best. I've always had a coaches' viewpoint on the game. I think I've been groomed to be a coach since I was a kid. I've been able to see the game from a lot of different angles."

Bourn stepping into leadership role. Maybe.

As the Astros turn from the World Series-era into Regroup Mode, Michael Bourn wants to be a leader. But, and this is pretty disconcerting, he's not sure about what will happen next with the Astros:

"I would like to be (a leader). A lot of people have been asking me that lately. I do (want to lead), but I don't want to say too early, because I don't know what the plan is. If (the Astros) are rebuilding, I'm all with it. I'm here for it. I'm not going anywhere. I'll stay here during the rebuilding stage if they let me."

Lyon:
"Michael is the future of the Houston organization. He's one guy they aren't trading. He's definitely deserving of (an All-Star appearance). He's going to be a great player for a long, long time."

Bourn, with more candor:
"The (All-Star break) isn't going to numb (the lack of success). We'll just see what happens when we get back. It is like getting away from your girl friend. Then you have to go back and say, 'Ah, this again.' But I'm just enjoying my All-Star selection and am thankful to be here."

This is very surprising, but in an odd way. Not that The Apparatus should let the players in on what the plan is to move the Astros forward, but it's time to admit that maybe the Astros are just biding their time until the 2008/09 draft classes advance through the system. That's not a terrible way to build, but it basically says to me that the Astros are rudderless until 2012.

If Roy gets traded, and Berkman is bought out (and I think both are likely, if Berkman doesn't get traded himself), the Astros will be taking approximately $40 million off the 2011 payroll. That's great, and all, but then what? Lyon's comment seems to indicate that there are some moves coming - but what does he know? It's not as though Lyon is BFFs with Ed Wade - which is possible, I suppose - and Bourn is left out of the Double Secret Meetings.

Regardless, Bourn's final pulled comment would indicate that he and the other players are growing weary of 2010, and who can blame them? I just hope that 2011 doesn't bring the same mentality.

Mier and his "growing pains"

Mark Maloney at the Lexington Herald-Leader offers up a good article about Jiovanni Mier's struggles this season.

Manager Rodney Linares, on dropping Mier from the #2 spot to #7:
"He was thinking way too much when he was hitting second. He didn't show that he was able to see a lot of pitches early, and he was getting behind in the count early. And he wasn't producing. We talked and, as a consensus, we agreed on dropping him down, and you see the results. He's driving the ball. He's getting his hits."

Since bottoming out on June 17 with a .199 average, Maloney notes, Mier is hitting .289 (22x76).

Linares:
"He's as good as advertised. I said it at the beginning of the year — he's a pretty special player. He's just going through growing pains. At 19 years old, playing 'A' ball for the first time, just finding out what his swing is. I didn't expect him to struggle as bad as he did in the beginning but, to his credit, he just works on it, and his defense hasn't slowed down."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chris Burke may retire

Sad news out of Louisville as former 1st Round pick Chris Burke is considering retirement, having lost his job in Triple-A Louisville to, yes, Gary Matthews, Jr.

Talk about a victim of circumstance, Burke lost his gig to Craig Biggio's quest for 3000 hits, and never got a significant chance to prove himself with the Astros. Sent to Arizona in the deal to get Jose Valverde, he never really got along there, either. Then it was the Padres, Mariners, and Reds. Now having been unseated by Matthews, Jr. may have been the last straw for Burke.

What does Tal Smith remember about George Steinbrenner? Being right.

Of course this is Tal Smith's tribute:

“He could be very kind and very generous in ways that were never brought to the attention of the media or the public. He would pay tuition for people he met to go to college; he paid more hospital bills, funeral bills; he carried more people on the payroll after their useful employment had ended. He was always there for anybody in need. And he did so without seeking any credit or any recognition.”

Then we get this:
“We had a number of very spirited discussions; some might even call them arguments. If you made your point, George would concede and say, “Ok, damn it to hell, you win.” We had a number of those when I was working for him and even when I went back to Houston.”

Smith recalls one particular argument that occurred when Smith was the General Manager of the Astros. Smith had traded Cliff Johnson to the Yankees and there was miscommunication about exactly what the Astros were to receive in return. The disagreement turned into a hearing at the commissioner’s office.

“I can get quite passionate about things and I was making my point. Finally, George slapped the table and said, “OK Tal, you don’t have to yell at me. You win.”


Nice.

Astros and the Leaderboards

As we limp into the All-Star Break, it's time to get a little perspective on where the Astros fall in major statistical categories.

Hits:
Astros leader: Jeff Keppinger (90)
Rank: 51st
MLB Leader: Martin Prado (121)

Runs:
Astros leader: Michael Bourn (52)
Rank: 41st
MLB Leader: Carl Crawford (70)

RBI:
Astros leader: Carlos Lee (45)
Rank: 64th
MLB Leader: Miguel Cabrera (77)

Doubles:
Astros leader: Jeff Keppinger (23)
Rank: 26th
MLB Leader: Nick Markakis (28)

Homers:
Astros leaders: Pence, Lee, Berkman (12)
Rank: 59th
MLB Leader: Jose Bautista (24)

Stolen Bases:
Astros leader: Michael Bourn (28)
Rank: 3rd
MLB Leader: Juan Pierre (32)

Walks:
Astros leader: Lance Berkman (47)
Rank: 21st
MLB Leader: Prince Fielder (61)

Strikeouts:
Astros "leader:" Michael Bourn (66)
Rank: 52nd-worst
MLB Leader: Mark Reynolds (122)

Batting Average:
Astros leader: Jeff Keppinger (.284)
Rank: 57th
MLB Leader: Miguel Cabrera (.346)

On-base percentage:
Astros leader: Lance Berkman (.369)
Rank: 44th
MLB Leader: Justin Morneau (.437)

Slugging Percentage:
Astros leader: Lance Berkman (.459)
Rank: 66th
MLB Leader: Miguel Cabrera (.651)

OPS:
Astros leader: Lance Berkman (.829)
Rank: 56th
MLB Leader: Miguel Cabrera (1.074)

Dan Adamson: Power + Speed

Nice article in the Albany Times-Union today on Wilton Infante and Dan Adamson - two bright spots in an otherwise struggling lineup to begin the NYPL season.

Manager Jim Pankovits:
"(Adamson's) got some juice in his bat and he can hit the ball a long way."

Adamson:
"I just look for a good pitch to hit. And I'm hitting the ball pretty well right now. Speed has always been a big part of my game too. I think it might surprise some people. Sometimes infielders take their time the first time around and maybe then they rush their throw the next time."

Adamson has anchored the #5 spot, hitting .583/.722/1.083 in 12ABs (limited, yes), but with 1K:4BB, and is hitting .323/.419/.484 against right-handed pitching.

2010 Houston Astros Mid-Season Report Card: Position Players

Like any other baseball site, we're sitting here dulled into ignorance by nine hours of Chris Berman's yelling (similar to being repeatedly slapped in the face by a boat oar), and wondering what the heck we do with three days of no baseball. And so, like any other baseball site, we'll kill time with a report card. Grades assigned on an A-F basis.

1B Lance Berkman: C-

I know, Berkman missed most of Spring Training and the first eight games of the season with a knee injury, and he's getting older. Since posting a four-year high for OPS in 2008 with .986, Berkman's OPS has retreated: .907 in 2009 and .829 so far this year. All of his slash line numbers are the lowest since his 34-game debut in 1999. Berkman is hitting just .229 against LHPs this season, and .216/.364/.388 on the road.

His defense has been solid, making just one error all season, but Berkman is declining, and in a big, obvious way.

2B Jeff Keppinger: A

I did not think anyone would get an A this half, but we'll grade on a curve. Keppinger is leading the team in batting average (.284), and is second in OBP (.335) and third in total bases. He also is the only Astro to have more walks (25) than strikeouts (24). He's five walks away from a career-high, and while his OBP and SLG have stayed along the lines of his career numbers, his average has taken a 28 point jump in 2010. His defense has been solid at 2B since replacing Kaz Matsui.

3B Chris Johnson: Incomplete

We just don't know enough about what Chris Johnson can do to give him a grade, although he would get a higher grade than Pedro Feliz simply by not being Pedro Feliz. His strikeouts have always been an issue (9:1 ratio - 18K:2BB in 80 PAs this season), but he has managed 22 hits. In his first 63 PAs (18 games), he was 22x61, but finished the last six games of the "first half" on an 0x17 slide, to the point of giving 3B back to Pedro Feliz in the last two games before the break.

SS Tommy Manzella: D

Before Manzella broke his finger, he was hitting .212/.259/.254 through 59 games. Granted, Manzella wasn't supposed to be a big hitter - instead, he was to provide stability with his glove on defense, but he had committed eight errors for a .970 Fld% (league average is .969 Fld%). His glove hasn't been as advertised as he tries to make the transition to the Majors from Triple-A, and his .513 OPS is simply brutal. His rookie status prevents him from getting an F.

C Jason Castro: Incomplete

Same as Chris Johnson. We're not giving a grade here due to the fact that we're talking about 15 games. However, his .170/.278/.255 slash line is fairly brutal. That said, we have to remember that two summers ago he was playing for Stanford. The best thing about Castro is his arm behind the plate, nailing six of nine would-be base stealers.

LF Carlos Lee: F

Jeebus. From 1999-2009 Lee averaged .291/.344/.503, with 31 HR/110 RBI per 162 games. Which makes his current .240/.287/.395 (yes, that's a difference of 165 points) even more shocking and FAIL-worthy. He's hitting just .230/.266/.278 against RHPs, and .223/.275/.344 on the road. He may be coming on lately, though. After an April-May in which he posted a .453 and .666 OPS, respectively, he has followed it up with an .834 and an .804 in June and July. Regardless, he hasn't played like he's worth $1.8 million, much less $18 million, with his -1.5 WAR.

CF Michael Bourn: C

Bourn is leading the NL with 28 steals, and is obviously the Astros' lone All-Star. Still, his .331 OBP is low for a lead-off hitter, and he seems to be taking a step back from his "breakout" 2009 season. His OPS is 77 points lower in 2010 than in 2009. His defense is still Gold Glove-caliber, but he is hitting .208/.300/.264 against LHP (after posting .287/.325/.399 against LHPs in 2009).

RF Hunter Pence: C-

Pence is second on the team with a .743 OPS, but is sorely lacking in the "on base" thing, drawing walks in 7.1% of his ABs. Pence is one of the very few Astros doing better against LHPs than RHPs - all slash line categories are higher against LHP, but he's hitting .278/.337/468 at home and .248/.295/.388 on the road. He gets blown away by power pitchers, posting a .385 OPS. And his six outfield assists are nice, too - 3rd in the NL. He's been alright, not good, certainly not great.

Eddie's Farm: July 12

Round Rock

Off.

Corpus

2nd verse, same as the first. Corpus loses again, 3-2 to NW Arkansas. Jared Wells threw 6IP, 7H/3ER, 3K:1BB, while Matt Nevarez (2IP) and Erick Abreu (1IP) combined to allow 3H/0ER in relief. Once again, ain't nothing going on with the offense. Koby Clemens had two of the Hooks' five hits (plus a walk), and the only extra-base hit - a double. They were 0x11 w/RISP, and Jimmy Van Ostrand/David Cook got the RBIs. Jose Vallejo was 0x4 with 3K, and is hitting .162.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens

Lancaster

Dallas Keuchel was The Man as the JetHawks beat Inland Empire 3-2. Keuchel threw a complete game 3H/2ER, 4K:4BB to improve to 5-7 with a 3.30 ERA on the season. Albert Cartwright was 2x4, while Jay Austin was 1x4 with a walk and 2RBI. Lee Cruz had a double, and Mark Ori, John Curtis, and David Flores added hits.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel

Lexington

Down 8-5 heading into the 9th, the Legends rallied for a 12-8 win, thanks to a 7-run 9th. Tanner Bushue threw 4.1IP, 6H/4ER, 6K:1BB (three homers allowed, accounting for all four runs). Mike Schurz allowed another homer in 1.2IP, Arcenio Leon was charged with an unearned run in 1IP, and Wander Alvino got the win despite allowing 3H/2ER in 2IP. The offense blew up - obviously. Jose Altuve was 4x4 with a walk and an RBI. Renzo Tello was 3x5 with a double and an RBI. Jonathan Meyer was 2x5 (2RBI) and Our Boy Aaron Bray was 2x2 with a triple and 2RBI. J.D. Martinez was 1x3 with a walk and two runs scored, and Jake Goebbert was 1x5 with a two-run homer and 3RBI on the night.

Man of the Match: Jose Altuve.

Tri-City

Incredible pitching line out of Tri-City last night as Jamestown beat the ValleyCats, 7-3. Chris Blazek got the start, allowing 3H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP. Then Murillo Gouvea struck out eight of the eleven batters he actually got out, but allowed 2H/3ER and two walks. Then Joan Belliard struck out six (with 3H/2ER) in 3.1IP. Brandt Walker threw a perfect 9th, and struck out two. All in all, ValleyCats pitchers struck out 17 batters, and allowed eight hits and three walks. Ben Orloff got three more hits (now hitting .382), and Dan Adamson was 2x4 with a walk and 2RBI. Mike Kvasnicka was 0x4, and allowed his 3rd passed ball of the season.

Man of the Match: Gouvea, I suppose.

Greeneville

Postponed.

GCL Astros

Suspended due to rain. Completion will be on July 17.

Carlos Lee has been a lesson for everyone

In his blog post today, Buster Olney talked to a number of GMs about Scott Boras telling people that Prince Fielder is a Mark Teixeira-like player, and deserves Teixeira money. But, says one AL GM:

"I think everybody learned from the Carlos Lee contract (six years, $100 million), where the body is a factor."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meyer released

Can't believe I missed this, but over at Baseball America, we see that the Astros released Drew Meyer.

Meyer had a .757 OPS in 2009 for the Hooks, and had dropped to .691 in 46 games for Round Rock this season. He's hitting .324/.359/.459 in nine games for the Angels' Triple-A Salt Lake team.

Keith Law gives us the Cliff's Notes version of Lyles' performance

Keith Law was all over last night's Futures Game, and wrote a blip about Lyles' performance:

Jordan Lyles showed four pitches, working from 89-94 with an excellent changeup, a curve and a cutter/slider. He went right after hitters and utilized the changeup against left-handed hitters, showing good arm speed.

Do the Padres want Berkman...to play outfield?

Interesting article out of the San Diego Union-Tribune, in which there's one small line discussing Lance Berkman:

Lance Berkman last played the outfield in 2007, but the Padres have been wondering if he’s worth a refresher course. Jermaine Dye hasn’t taken a competitive swing since last October, but the Padres continue to inquire about his interest in a comeback.

Padres' Director of Minor League Operations Mike Wickham:
“We owe it to ourselves and to our fans. We have to do something to give us a chance to score more runs, knowing our pitching is (probably) going to regress a little bit. And we don’t have to give away the farm to do it.”

With Will Venable on the DL, the Padres have Oscar Salazar, Tony Gwynn Jr, and Jerry Hairston JR in the outfield. Would Berkman approve a trade to the Padres? Would the Padres want Berkman - bad knee and all - in LF/RF?

Lyles just biding his time

Jordan Lyles had himself a good time last night at the Futures Game, throwing a scoreless inning.

Lyles:
“I thought there might have been a little more butterflies. I was trying to take in the experience running onto the field. The big stadium, the big fans. It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s a privilege to be here. I feel honored that the Astros selected me to represent them. It’s a great experience."

Ricky Bennett:
“His aptitude and ability to make adjustments make him special. Jordan is a big leaguer. It is just a matter of time. Who knows, we might have to challenge him before the end of the year, whether that is at the Triple-A level or major-league level because of how well he has performed. Jordan is a big leaguer. It is just a matter of time.”

Random broadcasters think the Reds should add a starting pitcher

Because, really, how scary are you with Aaron Harang as your SP1? Broadcasters think the Reds go from good to great with the addition of a starting pitcher.

Bob Brenly:
"If they would add a drop-dead, top-of-the-rotation guy to an already pretty solid rotation, I think that would really put them over the hump. Not only on the field, but that's a huge psychological lift for the guys who have been battling for the first half of the season."

Tim McCarver:
"Cincinnati, instead of being a good team they would become a very good team. Even if they don't add anybody, I think Cincinnati is a very good team."

Marty Brennaman, however contests the need:
"Would they go out and trade for a guy who could pitch at the top of the rotation? I think they would. I don't think they would if they had to overpay. ... You hear the names Lee and Lilly and Oswalt, but I don't think they feel that is an urgent priority to put this team over the hump."

The article notes the Reds' prospects most frequently listed as trade possibilities are 1B/OF Yonder Alonso, 3B/OF Juan Francisco, and 3B/OF Todd Frazier. Obviously, with the Astros likely buying out Berkman's 2011, Alonso would be a target in a trade.

Kirk Clark out to wreak some havoc

Kirk Clark ain't messing around.

Clark:
"Through high school and junior college and at Creighton, I heard every year that I was going to get drafted, and it never happened. I'm here trying to cause a little havoc and let everybody know that they made a mistake...

...For me, there are good days and bad, and I know it's consistency in everything I do that is going to lead me to the next level. I work toward that every day. Playing pro ball is what I want to do."


Clark's biggest issue at this point in the season is the walks. He's allowed 38 hits in 36.1IP, but has allowed 18 walks, as well (the 38 strikeouts are nice). In his last ten games, he's allowed 16H/6ER, with 9K:7BB, but this is inflated by a 3ER outing on July 8.

Overall, he does show promise - the 19 saves show that - but those walks are going to need to come down.

Houston Press sees the Berry dismissal as another PR move

Maybe we're all in the minority, agreeing with the Berry reassigning. Houston Press' Richard Connelly shares his thoughts on the move:

But with Bagwell having the job, Drayton gets to provide a link to the great days of the franchise, and most importantly, it makes it look as if Drayton's actually doing something to improve the club. It's a PR move that hopefully pays off if Bagwell can get Hunter Pence to start laying off of the slider, or if can find someway to return Carlos Lee to hitting relevance.

But the Bagwell hiring is only a superficial PR move, and it gets nowhere to addressing the problems with the Astros. The main problem being that the Astros are an awful team with a horribly constructed roster. And until Drayton dumps Ed Wade and brings in someone with the hint of a clue to run the club, nothing is going to change.

White Sox interested in Oswalt?

Jon Heyman is reporting that the White Sox are interested in adding Roy Oswalt to their rotation, though they are leery of the switch from the AL to the NL. Will this report ramp up the Twins' pursuit of Roy? I don't know, but whatever creates a market.

Of course, Ken Rosenthal on Friday said that Roy is ruling out the Tigers and White Sox.

The Astros are America's 3rd least-favorite team

According to some cockamamie poll, the Astros dropped nine spots, from 19 to 28, to determine America's Most Favorite Baseball Team.

The Blue Jays are America's least favorite team. Fittingly.

Cecil Cooper wants another shot

According to an Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent article, Cecil Cooper wants back in to baseball.

Former player Matt Erickson:
"I hope he gets another job and gets back in baseball because talking to him today he really wants to get back into it. Coming to the ballpark today, you could see he was fired up. I hope it works out for him."

Don't worry, the offense will screw up this PR move

No, not Jeff Bagwell's hiring, the quest to make Roy the franchise wins leader before the trade deadline. The Astros have tweaked the rotation to ensure that Roy has two starts at home - both before July 31. He's two wins away from the franchise lead.

Mills:
"We wanted to be able to split (Myers and Oswalt) up, and we decided to go ahead with Myers first and have Oswalt throw third. Because we wanted Bud to throw in between those two, anyway. And then, that would give Roy two more starts here at home."

Tranzactionz!

A couple of more transactions for you.

As Farmstros noted, Renzo Tello was called up to Lexington from Tri-City in place of Grant Hogue, who was placed on the bereavement list. Best wishes to Hogue and his family.

We also see a few shuffles from Corpus:

Jordan Lyles placed on the temporarily inactive list (Futures Game), Erik Stiller activated from the temporarily inactive list, and Jared Wells reinstated from the 7-Day DL.

To clear room, the Hooks released LHP Nelson Payano. Payano was signed back in April and posted a 1-1 record in 26 games (29.1IP), with a 5.83 ERA/1.84 WHIP, and 36K:23BB.

Eddie's Farm: July 11

Round Rock

This is getting brutal. The Express lose 15-2 after Oklahoma City puts up a 7-spot in the first. Shane Loux allowed 7H/7R (5ER), 1K:1BB in 0.2IP. T. J. Burton threw 1.1 scorless innings, and then Polin Trinidad allowed 5H/3ER in 4IP, Brad Thompson allowed 4H/4ER in 2IP, and Roy Corcoran allowed a solo homer. Wladimir Sutil was 3x5, and Brian Bogusevic was 2x5 with a double and an RBI. Drew Locke added the other RBI after a double and a walk. Collin DeLome hit a triple, and committed an error - as did Sutil and Bogusevic.

Man of the Match: Wladimir Sutil.

Corpus

And that'll do it! Hooks overcome a 5-2 deficit to snap the 16-game losing streak with a 6-5 win. Henry Villar, who is apparently now a starter, allowed 9H/5ER, 1K:0BB in 3.2IP, and Fernando Abad came in with 4.2IP of relief, allowing 3H/0ER, 6K:0BB. Danny Meszaros struck out one of the final two batters of the game. Jonathan Fixler was a double short of a cycle, with a 3x4 game. Jon Gaston and David Cook added two hits each. Clemens, Florentino, Cook, Van Ostrand, and Cabral had the five other RBI.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Fixler

Lancaster

And Lancaster blanks Inland Empire with a 4-0 win. Manny Ramirez was held to 0x3 with 2Ks. Ross Seaton threw 7.1IP, 5H/0ER, 3K:2BB, and Edwin Walker allowed two walks in the final 1.2IP. Albert Cartwright (triple, RBI) and Jay Austin (RBI, SB) were each 2x4, while Brian Pellegrini was 1x3 with a walk. David Flores hit a solo homer.

Man of the Match: Ross Seaton

Lexington

West Virginia committed five errors, but Lexington had to score in the 7th and 8th for the 3-2 win. Robby Donovan threw 5.1IP, 5H/2ER, 5K:1BB, but it was Zach Grimmett (2.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:2BB, 2HBP) who got the win. Kirk Clark recorded his 19th save with 1K:1BB in the 9th. Jose Altuve was 2x5 with an RBI, Miguel Arrendell had an RBI triple, and J.D. Martinez hit his 14th HR - the game winner - of the season. Martinez, Hinze, and Goebbert drew walks.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

Tri-City

Tri-City showed some fight, battling back from 3-0 and 6-2 deficits, but Jamestown scored the final three runs for a 9-6 win. David Martinez threw 3.1IP, 5H/5R (3ER), 2K:0BB. Adam Champion allowed 1H/1R (0ER) in 0.2IP, while Mike Ness threw the next 3IP, allowing just a walk. Jason Chowning (1ER) and Travis Blankenship (1H, 1BB) threw the 8th, and Andrew Robinson allowed 4H/2ER in the 9th. Wilton Infante was 4x5 with a three-run homer, and Enrique Hernandez, Mike Kvasnicka, and Adam Bailey had two hits each. Dan Adamson drew two walks on the night.

Man of the Match: Wilton Infante.

Greeneville

The Gastros rebounded from that 15-5 loss on Saturday with a 6-5 win over Bluefield. Ricardo Batista threw 3.1IP, 5H/3ER, 2K:3BB, while Jeiler Castillo allowed 2H/1ER and struck out five in 4.2IP. Travis Smink recorded his 5th save of the season, despite allowing 3H/1ER. Marcus Nidiffer was 3x4 with a two-run homer, Hector Rodriguez was 2x4 with 3RBI, and Ryan Humphrey, Chris Wallace, and Bubby Williams had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Hector Rodriguez

GCL Astros

Off.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jim Callis projects Lyles as SP3

Baseball America's Jim Callis answered a question about Jordan Lyles' timetable and projection, and responded:

A year away. More of a good No. 3 for me.

Boo!

But apparently Rick Sutcliffe, calling the game, said that Lyles could be used as a throw-in in a trade to improve the Astros.

I was unable to watch the game, but can someone confirm this? And would this then confirm that Rick Sutcliffe is a douche?

Jordan Lyles at the Futures Game

Jordan Lyles pitched the 6th inning at the Futures Game (which the US won 9-1, needing just fifteen pitches - ten of them strikes - to record three outs to four batters.

He did the following:

Cubs' Hak-Ju Lee to pop up on a 92mph fastball to shortstop.
Reds' Yonder Alonso (92mph fastball for a foul, 77mph curve for a ball, 82mph changeup for a ball, 87mph slider for a) groundout to first.
Dodgers' Pedro Baez hit an unnamed pitch for a single to center
Mariners' Carlos Peguero on a six-pitch strikeout (swinging at an 86mph slider).

From the Office of the County Clerk - G89: Astros v. Cardinals

That new hitting coach freaking sucks! Astros lose 4-2.

*Wandy Rodriguez lost this game on one swing of the bat, a 4th inning three-run homer by Matt Holliday. It was Holliday's second three-run jack of the series. When Holliday hits three-run homers against the Astros in July 2010, the Cardinals are 2-0.

*Holliday's homer was on an 0-1 pitch. Coming into the game, Wandy had allowed a slash line of .444/.462/.611 - with one homer allowed.

*When starting the Cardinals off with a first-pitch strike (something that didn't happen until the leadoff batter in the 3rd inning), they were 2x11, 3K. Problem was one of those was obviously a three-run homer.

*So Wandy threw a quality start, something that he has now done for four straight starts, lowering his ERA from 6.09 (following the G68 v. TEX fiasco) to 4.97.

*Brandon Lyon gave up a run, which he has done in three of his last four games.

*The offense - such as it was - got ten hits, all singles. So for the second time in three games, the Astros had no extra-base hits.

*But it wasn't as if they didn't have their chances. The Astros were 3x16 w/RISP, with two of those three hits coming courtesy of Hunter Pence. Bourn and Feliz were each 0x3 w/RISP. So let's look at the LOBs:

1st inning: Four hits, two runs, 2 LOB
2nd inning: One hit, no runs, 1 LOB
3rd inning: One hit, no runs, 1 LOB
4th inning: One walk, no runs, 1 LOB
5th inning: Two hits, no runs, 2 LOB
6th inning: One walk, no runs, 1 LOB
7th inning: Two hits, no runs, 2 LOB
8th inning: One walk, no runs, 1 LOB
9th inning: One hit, no runs, 1 LOB

*The Astros are now hitting .241 w/RISP. Which is, amazingly, ten points higher than their average with the bases empty.

*Four of the Astros hits were infield singles.

*2-5 in the lineup (Keppinger, Berkman, Lee, Pence) went a combined 9x20 - with one RBI. 6-7-8-9-1 went 1x15, though with four walks.

Pitch Count Hero: Jason Castro (0x3, BB) - 23 pitches in four PAs.

Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence (2x5) - 11 pitches in five PAs.

Man of the Match: Let's give it to Pence. Both hits w/RISP and a stolen base.

Goat of the Game: Pedro Feliz. What the hell? Why is he still in the lineup? Afraid of tiring out Chris Johnson before he gets three days off? That's the second game in a row he hasn't gotten the start.

New Poll! Berry firing


Players react to Berry's dismissal

McTaggart has an article with players' reaction to Sean Berry's dismissal:

Pence:
He's worked so hard for us. You can't help but put some of the burden on your own shoulders...He bent over backwards for us. I've been grateful for the time I had with him."

Berkman:
"When things aren't going well with the players, you have to shake something up and the most expendable pieces are the coaching staff. The team's offensive struggles in no way are a reflection of him as a hitting coach. We just didn't hit well. He just took the fall for us and it's unfortunate."

Berkman, on playing for Bagwell:
"I think that Jeff has always been one of my mentors in the game. I'm excited that he's going to be around more. I told him yesterday, he helps me more than anybody just from the things he told me when we played together."

Quick Transaction

Got a quick transaction for you before I head out for the World Cup final...

Tri-City OF Renzo Tello has been assigned to Lexington this morning.

Berry's reaction makes me feel shame for my excitement

Fox 26's Mark Berman got some reaction from the recently-relieved Sean Berry:

"This is part of what I do. I didn't get the job done. I apologize to Brad for not getting the job done. I didn't expect it. I was shocked at first, but then the reality sets in. It's unfortunate. I think I did it the right way. Every thing I did was to help the guys, help the team."

Someone put Immodium AD in Justice's coffee this morning

Of course we'll be tracking any and all reactions to the Berry Reassignment/Bagwell Hiring in the next 24 hours (much to The Wife's chagrin), and we already have one from Richard Justice, who predictably isn't overwhelmed by today's news. An excerpt, if you'll allow:

Is Sean Berry to blame for this train wreck? Absolutely not. Drayton McLane is to blame. Tal Smith is to blame. Ed Wade is to blame. But with the Astros, the people who are to blame don't lose their jobs. They roll along, and the franchise continues to slide into irrelevance...

...Here's who should go, Ed. You. And Tal. And Drayton. You're the ones who ran the franchise into the ground...

...In the end, he's the lucky one. He no longer works for Drayton and Tal and Ed. Good for him. Here's hoping Roy Oswalt gets lucky too.

But Roy shouldn't be packing his bags. To trade Roy would make sense, would give Roy a chance to win. That would require someone capable of thinking logically and smartly. The Astros have no one like that.


Is Ed Wade to blame for Carlos Lee's OPS dropping off from .845 (from 1999-2009) to .681 this season? No (and Sean Berry isn't, either - granted).

But I agree, to an extent. Pedro Feliz didn't work out. But neither did Garrett Atkins. Kaz Matsui didn't work out, but neither has Mark DeRosa. Sometimes you just miss. Where Ed Wade has made the most impact can be seen on the Futures Game tonight, in Jordan Lyles. And in Ross Seaton. And in J.D. Martinez, Jason Castro. No player development? Jordan Lyles is 19 and killing Double-A. Jason Castro is on the Major-League roster. Sure, he is talented, but when people thought his - and Lyles' - pick was reaching, the Astros are already starting to reap the benefits.

Koby Clemens was a guy who could kind of hit, but didn't have a position before 2009. He's now in Double-A and could very well factor into the 1B1 scenario in Houston in 2011.

Justice talks about the fans who don't come to games, and we always moan about the minor-league evaluators who can't see past the fact that Ramon Vazquez is actually the starting 2B at Round Rock (pause for weeping). But it's not fair to call this a figurehead move. If the Astros had not pulled this trigger, Justice would likely have had an All-Star Break column about how the Astros don't ever do anything, and that's why Drayton, Tal, and Ed suck. To say that Ed Wade is incapable of thinking logically is childish, and short-sighted reactionism. If that's a word.

2nd Annual Astros County Adopt-a-Player Contest!

Last year we held a poll in which we chose a prospect from each level (up to Double-A, if I remember correctly) and asked you, dear Citizens, to choose the player whom we would adopt. Aaron Bray was our initial winner, and it turned out that we sent him a Care Package, and he ended up writing an excellent series of off-season posts.

It's that time again. So here are your choices.




Away we go. Voting will end on July 12.

Berry reassigned, Bagwell to take over

It's not often you get an email in church that makes you go, "Whoa!" in the middle of the Lord's Supper. But that's exactly what happened this morning.

Alyson Footer first broke this morning that Sean Berry has been relieved of his duties as Astros "hitting" coach, and Jeff Bagwell is in uniform and will be in the dugout today.

First, some thoughts:

*Hopefully Bagwell will run his finger over his throat at Mark McGwire at some point during today's game.

*Sean Berry deserves a lot of the blame for how terrible the Astros have been. But not all of it. Footer and Ed Wade both said that Berry was one of the hardest-working and most-prepared coaches they had seen. We don't see how much he works with the "hitters" (and yes, I use that term loosely). He can work with the players for ten or twelve hours after the game, preventing them from sleeping or seeing their families. But when it's game time, he can't make Carlos Lee chase a ball halfway down the first base line.

*Ed Wade (it's a multi-tweet quote, so just go to Footer's feed for the whole thing):
In 34 years in baseball I think Sean was the best prepared hitting coach I've been around. But the results speak for themselves. We need to figure this out. Not just the front office level, but the players level as well. Sean has become somewhat of a victim of circumstance this year because of the fact that our offense has struggled.... We know we're not the '27 Yankees. But we're better than this. And if we're not better than this, we need to use the time remaining to assess the talent on the club and act accordingly. A lot of this falls to the players."

Let's evaluate. From 2007-last night's game, the Astros had hit:
2007: (1457x5605) .260/.330/.412 - 2311 total bases
2008: (1432x5451) .263/.323/.415 - 2261 total bases
2009: (1415x5436) .260/.319/.400 - 2175 total bases
2010: (691x2916) .237/.295/.348 - 1015 total bases

That works out to be 4995x19408, or a .257 average and a .400 SLG percentage. Maybe some time soon we'll get the OBP, but not right now, because I'm too amped up to do any more math. But what we really need to see is that, in his best year, the Astros topped out at a .330 on-base percentage. The Astros are last in walks in 2010, with 233, or 2.64 per game.

For a significant portion of the season we ran a '62 Mets watch. And when you're comparing your offense - in every way unfavorably - to one of the worst teams of all time, something had to be done. And the Astros aren't going to fire Carlos Lee.

(And for the record, through 88 games, the '62 Mets were hitting .238/.318/.361).

Wade is right, Berry is a victim of circumstance, and the Astros just got a guy fired. Berry has been given the opportunity to stay on in a development role within the organization, but hasn't decided if he'll accept.

So now we get to Jeff Bagwell as hitting coach. This is more of a functional role, as opposed to a figurehead role for Bagwell. It may sell some tickets, though I don't know who buys tickets to see the hitting coach (unless Bagwell donkey kicks Carlos Lee out of the cage and shows him how it's done). But Bagwell has been around a lot of the guys the Astros will ideally be bringing up as a special assistant to the GM for the past four years.

Yet we do know that Bagwell is a career .297/.408/.540 hitter. Shut your sloppy mouth about doing steroids or crouching in the box. Bagwell is a consummate professional, and represents a bridge from the past to the future. Footer says he'll sign on for the rest of the season, and be re-evaluated at the end of the season.

Does it guarantee success? Hell, and no, it doesn't. The Cardinals are hitting .260 as a team (7th in the NL) in McGwire's first season as hitting coach, though their .745 OPS is 5th in the National League.

But it generates some excitement, and makes things a little interesting, and certainly brings a face to the bench who has experience in dealing with Chris Johnson, Jason Castro, Hunter Pence, and those who will arrive in 2011-2012.