Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why the Astros have done the things they have done

Note: This ran last night. It has been reposted in an attempt to aid you through the grieving process.

The big question everyone is asking (especially before flipping Gose for Wallace) is, "Why aren't the Astros getting more for Oswalt and Berkman?"

I've got some thoughts. And since this is our blog, you get to read them, and then pick them apart and start slinging mud.

There are three reasons why I think the Astros dealt Roy to the Phillies and Berkman to the Yankees:

Reason #1: All jokes aside, do you think it's a coincidence that the Astros traded their two franchise players to the two teams who played in last year's World Series? If the Astros are anything, they're loyal. Maybe not so much to Cecil Cooper, but they sacrificed Chris Burke's career to get Craig Biggio 3000 hits. They've been involved in bringing back Jeff Bagwell as hitting coach. Doug Brocail is a scout. Dave Borkowski is in a coaching position. When the Astros fired most of the coaching staff at the end of 2009, they brought a number of them back for minor-league positions. For God's sake, they offered Sean Berry a role within the organization.

If you look at the teams who were vying for Roy, they never were going to trade him to the Cardinals, but what contenders - outside the division - needed an ace? Not the Braves. The Mets wouldn't meet the Astros price (although they might have, for $11 million). The Phillies were ready to talk, and the Astros got a deal done that - ultimately - worked for them in the long term.

The White Sox were in on Lance, but once the Yankees came calling, it's looking like the Astros were/are willing to bend over (you could stop this sentence here) backwards to get him to New York.

For an organization that values loyalty - expect Biggio to be back in a more prominent role at some point - Drayton, and maybe Ed, valued what Roy and Lance have meant to this team, and orchestrated their exits to a destination with a realistic chance of winning a ring. It might happen for Lance this year, and it might happen for Roy this year (or next year). That's reason #1.

Reason #2: Roy's trade had to happen. But for Lance, trading him away shoved the uncomfortable event of declining his option on to somebody else. Again, the Astros take care of their own, and the decision to tell Lance that his cost far exceeded his value was going to be a PR nightmare, even if everyone knows it's the right decision. So Drayton isn't the bad guy (at the end of the season) getting rid of the hometown boy. He's the Yankees' drone now, and the decision about 2011 - while it looks like it has already been made - doesn't have anything to do with the Astros.

Reason #3: This was a public move to show the fanbase that the Astros are committed to rebuilding. Hell, it already sucked in Richard Justice. He's blowing bubbles out his butthole over the prospects the Astros are raking in and how Drayon "finally gets it." If the Astros take $5m of Lance's deal (a guess) and $11m of Roy's, that's a $16m PR move on planning for the future. Younger guys come in, and hopefully it reenergizes the Houston-area to the point that they're willing to pay $8 for a Shiner to see who they have coming down the pike.

So, these two days were for Lance and Roy, they were for the Astros, and they were for the public.

Tranzactionz

Got some minor-league transactions for you from yesterday and today:

Round Rock
*Jack Shuck promoted from Corpus
*Mark Melancon assigned to Round Rock

Corpus
Via Twitter, Albert Cartwright assigned to Corpus from Lancaster.

Lancaster
*Jose Altuve assigned to Lancaster from Lexington

Lexington
*Barry Butera assigned to Lexington from Lancaster
*Yordany Ramirez assigned to Lexington from Round Rock
*Jimmy Paredes assigned to Lexington

Tri-City
*John Frawley assigned to Tri-City from Greeneville

GCL Astros
*Ebert Rosario assigned to GCL Astros from Lancaster
*Placed RHP Dayan Diaz on 60-Day DL
*Placed C Alfredo Gonzalez on 60-Day DL

Astros, Myers working on 2011 contract

Richard Justice is tweeting that the Astros and Brett Myers are working on that 2011 deal:

Astros "working" on getting Brett Myers under contract for 2011. Making $3.1M and has $8M mutual option for 2011.

Update: Bernardo Fallas confirms the Astros are working on a multi-year deal with Myers.

Now it's all about waivers

The trading deadline has come and gone without any additional moves. So now it's "Everybody on the Waiver Wire!" and hope you strike gold. I guess Justice was right about Myers and Wandy staying put. Wasted opportunity, though I suppose it can be justified.

Melancon to Express, Shuck promoted

The Express have released that Mark Melancon has been assigned to Round Rock, while Jack Shuck has been promoted to Round Rock from Corpus.

Lee not in lineup

Carlos Lee is not in the lineup tonight. Did your blood pressure just go up? Ours did, too. Hold for details.

Justice: Astros didn't hear anything they liked on Myers, Wandy

Richard Justice is tweeting that the Astros received offers on both Myers and Wandy, but didn't get anything they liked, and they won't be traded.

Still 90 minutes before the deadline, so we'll see if this is posturing, or if it's for real.

Note: Ken Rosenthal confirms:
With 90 minutes to go, #Astros do not expect to move either Myers or Rodriguez.

Analysis of the Berkman deal

Keith Law has an Insider-Only analysis of the Berkman deal, and it's fairly complimentary:

Houston could easily have gotten nothing in this deal, but both guys coming back their way have some value.

On Melancon:
Arm action is a train wreck, but he has power stuff, including a 92 to 94 mph fastball, a power curve in the low- to mid-80s and a hard change. On the right night, he'll show three above-average pitches.

On Paredes:
Toolsy, athletic infielder without a clear position. He could end up in centerfield long term, but he is still very crude overall and his swing and body don't point to future power. He needs to learn to take a walk more than once every week and a half.

There's more, but I'm uncomfortable pulling too much stuff from a pay-article. Meanwhile, Jonathan Mayo drops some knowledge on us about the two:

On Melancon:
Melancon is a hard worker with outstanding makeup, possessing the kind of aggressive mentality teams like to see in a short reliever. The Yankees had hoped he'd be a seventh- or eighth-inning guy for them, but he has the stuff and makeup to close. The one thing he needs to do is command his fastball better. He's been elevating too many of them, making them too hittable for Major League hitters. If he can command the lower part of the zone better, Houston could have a future closer on their hands.

On Paredes:
He should hit for average in the future and many feel he'll grow into power as he matures. Plate discipline -- 18 walks in 99 games -- has been an issue, and it remains to be seen how much he can improve in that area of his game. He had arm surgery a while back, but he's 100 percent now and has a plus arm. In all likelihood, he'll have to use that arm in the outfield and could have the tools to play either center or right. His hands and feet don't work well enough to stay in the middle infield, but with a plus run tool, plus arm and plus body, there's still plenty to like about this high-ceiling prospect.

Brett Wallace in the lineup

Brett Wallace is your new starting 1B, after having his contract purchased by the Astros today, and will hit 6th tonight against the Brewers.

Paulino transferred to 60-Day DL

In what looks like a plan to help the rotation in 2011, Felipe Paulino has essentially been shut down, transferred to the 60-Day DL.

This could impact the willingness of the Astros to part with Myers and/or Wandy. With Moehler still out, who would fill their rotation spots?

Live chat!

Westbrook down, who's up?

So it would seem that Lilly is the next available top-flight pitcher, followed by Myers, with Wandy down the list somewhere, after a three-way deal between the Cardinals, Padres, and Indians has become official. Jake Westbrook is now a Cardinal, Ryan Ludwick a Padre, and some poor bastard is now an Indian.

Question is, what do the Reds do now?

Jayson Stark talks nonsense

Jayson Stark posted the last trade deadline Rumble, in which he breaks down the destinations/intentions of players and teams.

On Brett Myers:
Once Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman were gone, the Astros told teams they would listen on Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez. But the price wasn't a whole lot less than they'd asked for Oswalt, and they were firm that they weren't eating any more dollars. So it would be an upset if either pitcher gets moved before the deadline.

"Weren't eating more dollars?" Myers makes a little over $1m for the rest of the year. Wandy is owed around $2m. Eat the contracts if you have to, just get some prospects for them. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

Buster Olney on the Myers market

Buster Olney (and we know how some of you feel about Buster), says the Apparatus' philosophy on Myers is as such:

Astros' currenting marketing pitch on Brett Myers is basically this: "Overwhelm us with a huge offer and maybe we'll consider it."

Maybe if Lilly comes off the board soon (and with Westbrook looking at heading to St. Louis), it'll ramp up the market for Myers. But there's really no excuse to not get a deal done for Myers.

Joel Sherman hearts Wandy

What do the Mets need, according to Joel Sherman? Wandy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is making $5 million this season and can be a free agent after next year. He is not having a good campaign, going 8-11 with a 4.80 ERA. But over the previous two seasons he was 23-19 with a 3.23 ERA. The Mets have talked about scouring the market for pitchers they like who are underperforming this year but who their scouts like, hoping they might be able to buy low. I have no idea if their scouts like Rodriguez.

But he is still only 31 and a lefty. In his last start on Sunday, he held the Reds to one hit and no runs over seven innings. He is durable. And he is a flyball pitcher, who would probably benefit coming to big Citi Field, though he actually pitches much better at offensively friendly Minute Maid Park than on the road.

And because Joel Sherman said it, it must be true

That is said without a hint of snark, by the way.

Joel Sherman:
Astros definitely talking to teams about LHP Wandy Rodriguez.

Berkman pleased with the direction of the organization

So Lance seems to be happy that the Astros have traded him, and Roy:

"Whether it's the right direction or not, at least it's a direction. The worst thing as an organization is to get stale and sort of get caught in a washing machine of the same old things that happen year after year and you don't really make any strides."

You know...Berkman hasn't passed away...

Richard Justice's article on the impending Berkman trade reads more like a eulogy:

When the Astros were good, Berkman was a brilliant offensive player, an on-base machine who also hit with power and was at his best with the game on the line. He has a .321 batting average in 29 postseason games, including .385 in the 2005 World Series.

And yet, it would be impossible to define him by his play.

He is also smart, funny and thoroughly decent, a voracious reader and a devoted husband to his wife and a doting father to his four daughters. He is a Texan through and through, growing up in New Braunfels and attending Rice, where he joked his major was “staying eligible.”

His idea of a perfect day is a morning of chores around his Brenham ranch, a steak for lunch and four hours on the sofa watching college football.

His sense of humor got him in trouble because fans misinterpreted his devil-may-care quotes, which said he didn’t care that much. Inside the home clubhouse at Minute Maid Park, his teammates knew the opposite was true. He was obsessive about his game, and when he was going badly, he dwelled on the problem.

His legacy will be hard for anyone to match, and these last two seasons when he was no longer a great player should be weighed against the body of work.

Speculation on who the Astros are getting from the Yankees

The New York Post's Joel Sherman and George King say that the two players coming back are Triple-A reliever Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes, with the Astros paying $4m of Berkman's remaining salary.

Sherman:
The Yankees do not consider either among their top 10 prospects, and have felt Paredes' defense is weak enough that he ultimately will have to move to the outfield.

More on the players after the deal is confirmed. We're not wasting time doing research like we did with Anthony Gose, who was an Astro for about as long as it took to go to Baseball-Reference.

Saturday morning rumors!

It seems the Astros have made Brett Myers available, after all.

Jon Heyman reports that the Mets turned down the Astros request of Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell for Myers.

Heyman:
So Myers is available -- for a steep price.

That tweet came about 20 minutes after Heyman said Myers was unavailable. So we'll just have to be patient.

Smilin' Ken and Jon Paul Morosi are also reporting that the Twins are in on Brett Myers. Within those same 140 characters, we also learn that the Astros are fielding offers for Wandy, as well, but that the Astros are "not that motivated." We'll see if that changes over the next six hours.

Eddie's Farm: July 30

Round Rock

Oklahoma City scored three runs in the first, and then held the Express to three hits over the rest of the game for a 4-1 win. Polin Trinidad needed 110 pitches to get through 5IP, allowing 8H/4R (3ER), 3K:1BB, 2HBP. Chris Sampson, Jeff Fulchino, and Casey Daigle threw a scoreless inning each. As mentioned, nothing much going on with the offense - Shelton was 1x3 with a walk, and Kata and Duran had the other two hits. Edwin Maysonet provided the lone RBI.

Man of the Match: Uh. Chris Shelton?

Corpus Christi

Midland scored all their runs from the 6th inning on, but Corpus was able to withstand the charge for a 4-3 win. Jeremy Johnson threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 4K:4BB, while Jared Wells (2IP, 1H/1R (0ER), 1K:1BB) and Evan Englebrook (1IP, 3H/1ER, 1K:1BB) closed out the game. Michael Affronti (3B), Jimmy Van Ostrand, and Jon Fixler (HR, 2RBI) had your multi-hit games, while Kody Kirkland was 1x2 with 2BB. David Cook provided the other RBI on a sac fly. Brett Wallace was not in the lineup.

Man of the Match: Jon Fixler

Lancaster

Despite collecting 12 hits, the JetHawks dropped 10-5 to Bakersfield. Pat Urckfitz threw 5IP, 8H/7R (6ER), 6K:2BB, 3WP with two of those runs coing courtesy of Jose Trinidad, who threw 2IP, 3H/1ER. Kyle Godfrey was as effective, allowing 2H/2ER in 2IP. Albert Cartwright is on a tear, with a 3x4 night, and Federico Hernandez was 3x4 with a triple and an RBI. Lee Cruz hit a two-run homer and added another RBI, and Brian Pellegrini was 2x3 with a walk.

Man of the Match: Albert Cartwright

Lexington

Nope. It's not a repeat, and I'm not punch-drunk with all these trade. Same score as the Lancaster game, Lexington loses 10-5, and Delmarva was up 9-1 at the end of the 3rd. Zach Grimmett took the brunt of it, allowing 9H/8ER, 2K:1BB in 2.1IP. His line wasn't helped by Colton Pitkin, who gave up three runs charged to Grimmett, but Pitkin threw 2.2IP, 6H/2R (1ER). Brad Dydalewicz gave up 3H/0ER, 2K:0BB in 3IP, and Dan Sarisky struck out two in the 9th. Jose Altuve was 2x5 with a solo homer, and Grant Hogue and Brian Kemp added two hits each. Jiovanni Mier was 0x5 with 4Ks.

Man of the Match: Jose Altuve

Tri-City

Drama! Daniel Adamson hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 11th for a walk-off 7-6 win over Lowell. Andrew Robinson threw 3.1IP, 3H/3R (1ER), Jason Chowning allowed 5H/2ER, 5K:0BB in 2.2IP, Murillo Gouvea threw two scoreless innings with four strikeouts, Jorge De Leon allowed an unearned run in 2IP (tying up the game), and Brandt Walker got the win. The unearned runs came courtesy of errors by Andrew Robinson, Mike Kvasnicka, and Oscar Figueroa. Tyler Burnett was 3x5, while Buck Afenir and Adamson had two hits and an RBI each. Adam Bailey only got one hit - but it was a grand slam in the 7th, and he added another RBI.

Man of the Match: Adam Bailey.

Greeneville

Bristol scored four in the 7th to take a 4-2 lead over Greeneville, but the Gastros answered with three in the bottom half for a 5-4 win. Mike Foltynewicz threw 4IP, 4H/0ER, 4K:1BB, while Garrett Bullock threw 1.1IP, 3H/0ER. Brian Streilein had the rough night, giving up 3H/4R (3ER) in 1IP, with Phil Rorabaugh getting the win with 1.2IP, 2H/0ER (and scoring one of Streilein's inherited runners). Ryan Cole got his 2nd save of the year. Jonathan Merritt was 2x4 with a solo homer, and Ryan Humphrey was 2x3 with a triple and 2RBI. Telvin Nash hit a solo homer, as well.

Man of the Match: Ryan Humphrey

Friday, July 30, 2010

From the Office of the County Clerk - G102: Astros v. Brewers

Early returns: Happ > Oswalt. For tonight, anyway. Astros beat the Brewers 5-0.

*This win is the Astros fourth win in their last five games. And it's the third series (out of five) that the Astros have won the first game of the series.

*There were only ten hits between both teams, with the Astros scoring their five runs on six hits and three walks. It's the 30th game this season in which the Astros have collected six or fewer hits. In those games, the Astros are 7-23.

*The last time the Astros scored this many runs on this few hits was on June 10 at Colorado (a 5-4 win), in which the Astros got five runs on four hits and three walks.

*So this J.A. Happ fella is pretty good. He needed 98 pitches to get through 6IP, but he only allowed 2H/0ER, 6K:4BB - throwing first-pitch strikes to eleven of 25 batters. 28 of his 54 strikes were non-contact strikes (15 called, 13 swinging)

*Happ allowed Rickie Weeks to lead off the game with a double. And then it was 21 batters before Casey McGehee singled to left in the top of the 6th before the Brewers got their next hit.

*The bullpen of Lopez, Lyon, and Lindstrom combined for 3IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:0BB - throwing 23 of their 33 pitches for strikes.

*The Brewers had at least one man on in each of Happ's innings - including three lead-off batters (thanks to Carlos Lee's error in the 4th)

*Jeff Keppinger and Chris Johnson got two hits each, with Keppinger walking twice and knocking in a run, while Johnson hit a three-run homer to extend the game to 4-0.

*1-4 in the lineup (Bourn-Sanchez-Keppinger-Lee) went 2x14 with 5K:2BB (hits and walks all Keppinger). 5-8 in the lineup (Michaels-Feliz-Johnson-Quintero) went 4x12 with 1K:1BB, 4RBI.

*The Astros hit three homers in the game (Johnson, Michaels, Keppinger) for just the third time this season. Their season-high is four, set on July 7.

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

Pitch Count Punk: Humberto Quintero (0x3) - 7 pitches in three PAs.

Man of the Match: This goes to J.A. Happ. Fine debut. With honorable mention going to Chris Johnson.

Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee. Keppinger was on base in front of him four times, and Lee couldn't come up with a hit. Rather he hit into a double play and committed an error.

Details starting to emerge on the Berkman deal

Buster Olney has some info (and here) about the financial situation:

The Astros are picking up a lot of the money owed to Lance Berkman in their agreement with the Yankees, and the (Yankees) won't be giving up any major prospects.

We also learn from Mike Axisa that:
Jimmy Paredes was yanked from Charleston's lineup late, he could be on his way to Houston.

If this is true, Paredes was listed by Scout.com as the Yankees' 29th-ranked prospect, and was an international free agent signing. Paredes is a 21-year old infielder (most of his starts at 2B) hitting .280/.312/.408 for his career. We'll hold off until we find out for sure before we start the analysis.

It's done. But not officially.

Lance Berkman is a Yankee. Just sit back and think about where you were in September 1999, when he came up. And think about where you are now. That's a lot of my life tied up when Lance was an Astro.

Granted, he may be back next year, and he could feasibly change his mind in the next 20 hours, but he probably won't.

Joel Sherman explains the 24-hour window and also explains why Berkman won't be negating this deal:
A person involved in the negotiations for this trade said Berkman was elated to rejoin his pal, Andy Pettitte, with the Yankees and that “Lance was viewing this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with the Yankees.”

Do you see the difference between the organizations? Lance, a lifer with the Astros, native Texan, Rice alum (etc.) is elated to go join the Yankees. J.A. Happ, taking the field in front of a team without Berkman or Pence, and featuring Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz, wept at leaving "the only place he's ever known."

The Astros are on the right path, but honestly? It's sad how bad things had become.

Announcement to likely come tomorrow

Anyone hitting refresh waiting on official confirmation of Lance's trade (aka, "The End of Our Youth") can go ahead and go to the bathroom.

Ken Rosenthal reminds us that, as a player with 10 years of ML experience - and five years with one team - there is a 24-hour window. Since it's so close to the deadline, this could have been an issue. Rosenthal says he gave approval before the 3pm today - 24 hours before the deadline - but official announcements won't come until tomorrow.

Deal starting to take shape

According to Ken Davidoff:

Astros indeed expected to get non-prospect minor-leaguer(s) and payroll relief from Yankees in return for Berkman.

Rotoworld speculates:
In return, they won't have to give up any premium prospects in order to bring in the 34-year-old switch-hitter as their primary DH. David Adams and Ivan Nova have seen their names as come up as possibilities. Adams, a second baseman, was mentioned prominently in the Cliff Lee talks with the Mariners before that deal died.

Berkman choosing between four destinations

Bernardo Fallas is reporting that Berkman has waived his 10-and-5 rights is choosing between four possible destinations.

It's basically down to the Yankees and three other teams. He will approve a trade to the Yankees, but the other three are unlisted, but we can guess the White Sox and Rays are two of the teams.

Bernardo Fallas mentions that west coast teams are out of the running for Lance.

This moves every couple of minutes or so, so bear with us as we post at such a high rate.

Davidoff: It's a salary dump

Ken Davidoff has two sources who are confirming that the Astros and Yankees are "moving in the right direction."

Davidoff:
Given Cashman's MO, assuming it's essentially a money dump.

Let's all get comfortable with Lance wearing those other pinstripes

Just a flurry of activity in the last few minutes about the Lance-to-NYY possibility.

Alyson Footer:
Puma is here. Feels there is a decent possibility he'll be traded. But he has not been traded.

Joel Sherman:
Hearing Berkman deal from Astros to Yankees is on verge of completion.

Buster Olney:
The Steinbrenners have given pre-approval to the acquisition of a large salary such as Lance Berkman or Adam Dunn.

Alyson Footer:
Berkman said no matter what happens, he wants the opp. to come back to Astros next year. So a requirement if he was traded would be for the new team to NOT pick up his option. He's the anti-Oswalt.

Phil Rogers seems to think it's a done deal

In his blog post today, the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers indicated that the White Sox were in on Lance and Myers (as mentioned earlier), but that isn't the case anymore:

According to sources, Williams was heavily engaged in discussions with the Astros on Berkman. He also had discussed Myers. But indications are that window may have passed, with Berkman heading to the Yankees, who until Friday had been conspicuous by their quiet.

Berkman not in lineup

According to Brian McTaggart, Lance isn't in the lineup tonight.

He explains it by saying that the Astros are facing a lefty tonight, but I don't buy it. Because Pence apparently isn't playing tonight, either. And I just have a hard time believing that, for Happ's debut, they won't run Berkman and Pence in the lineup.

This is just weird.

Berkman would approve a deal

Richard Justice and Zach Levine's article on the possibility of trading Lance indicates that he would approve a deal:

The Yankees appear to be the most aggressive team in pursuing Berkman, but the Rays, White Sox, Tigers and Red Sox have had conversations with the Astros about Berkman.Berkman's close relationship with Andy Pettitte could end up being a huge factor in his decision to approve a deal. Unlike Roy Oswalt, who asked the Astros to trade him, Berkman has never publicly declared his desire to play elsewhere. However, he has said that if the Astros want to trade him to a contender he'll consider it. Friends say he's leaning toward approving a deal.

(Note: These are semantics. Back on May 6 he said:
As a player, if they came to me and said, 'Hey, we've got a deal to go to a contender,' I'd take it. Heck, it's only a three- or four-month deal. It's not like I'm signing on for 10 years with another team.

I would say yeah. I think it would benefit the organization, and in the end, it would be a benefit for whoever it is — whether it's me, or Roy (Oswalt) or Carlos. I'm not saying we're at the point where they should start pulling the plug on us, but they need to start thinking forward. If this thing keeps going like this, they've gotta do something.)


Joel Sherman has this:
Lance Berkman does not directly fit any of the Yankees' greatest needs. However, his price both in dollars and/or prospects has fallen so low that the Yankees are definitely looking hard whether to acquire the switch-hitter.

The Yankees philosophy right now is this: They have some money to spend. Almost every other team in the majors doesn't. So they are telling organizations hungry to move high-priced players to call and make their best offer. Translation: We can take some of your money headaches, but if we do we are not going to give up much in prospects...

...Berkman would essentially fill the role the Yanks had envisioned for Nick Johnson, regular DH and occasional fill-in first baseman for Mark Teixeira. He is a veteran bat with plenty of playoff experience and he is pals with Andy Pettitte. He is having his worst season at .240 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs. But in his last 18 games, Berkman has hit .274 with six homers in 64 at-bats. He also is the kind of patient hitter the Yanks always like and they would be hoping that the intensity of a championship hunt would energize him for a strong finish.

Sherman later tweets that:
Berkman has a complete no-trade clause, but hear that would not be problem if it is.

Yankees are "serious" about Lance

Joel Sherman just tweeted:

Yankees are definitely in for Lance Berkman, considering him seriously.

David O'Brien wants the Braves to get Lance

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien thinks that Lance is worth a look:

No doubt he'd fit in with this team; Braves who know him will tell you that enthusiastically. And he finished fifth in the MVP voting just two years ago...

...However, despite not playing the outfield in three years, I'm told that some scouts and team officials believe he could (I really don't know if any Braves officials are among that group).

Then there's the money. No small matter when it comes to Berkman. I really don't think the Braves would pay him more than $7 million for the rest of this season (including his buyout for 2011) unless they dumped another salary or the 'Stros picked up a good chunk of what he's owed.

What didn't get done, Part 1

With the report (which I need to go back and find) that the Astros wanted either Ike Davis or Jon Niese, in addition to prospects from the Mets, we find that the Astros talked to the Dodgers. And they wanted Chad Billingsley. The Dodgers countered with four prospects - no report as to who those prospects are - and...well, you know how that went.

ESPN on Lance

Within the Daily Trade Deadline Whatever over at ESPN, they have a little section devoted to the possibility of Lance getting moved - which has all been precipitated by his recent week-long tear:

One AL exec now says: "Berkman's going to go." The White Sox, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays have all checked out Berkman. But the same exec predicts the Yankees will swoop in and get this done if they miss out on Dunn. If not, Berkman is expected to clear waivers. So he could easily get dealt next week if nothing happens by Saturday.

That said, in Rumor Central we see that the Yankees are out on Dunn. This would lead us to believe that...

White Sox update

More from Bob Nightengale:

White Sox have Edwin Jackson included in current trade package for Dunn. If Sox get Dunn, then will try to land Astros' Brett Myers.

Harold Reynolds thinks Berkman will get traded

Bernardo Fallas just talked to Harold Reynolds, obviously, who thinks that Berkman will end up getting traded. Where? The Yankees? Anyone who was interested in Adam Dunn (who still may or may not be traded)?

Other GMs are pissed!

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News says that Mets GM Omar Minaya is mad.

Madden:
It is Minaya's belief that Wade, the former Phillies GM, was simply more comfortable dealing with his exes, particularly GM Ruben Amaro, who worked under him and considers Wade a mentor. On that, a lot of people in baseball seem to concur, so it would be both unfair and inaccurate to kill the Mets for missing out on Oswalt because of money.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman expands:
Executives from multiple teams complained they had no idea the Astros were willing to include $11 million of the $23.5 million owed Oswalt through next year and his 2012 option as they did to move him to the Phillies. The Yankees were not told at all how much the Astros would eat. The Mets were told that Houston would take "some money," but nowhere near $11 million, and were never given an exact amount. Of course, the likelihood is the Astros would never have agreed to pay one penny to the Yankees or probably the Mets either; and it is possible Oswalt might not have agreed to go to New York.

But an executive of a team interested in starting pitching said, "I don't know how we didn't know [what Houston was willing to pay]. I don't know how it is in the best interest of your organization not to explore every avenue. We knew the pitcher [Oswalt] was available, but we didn't know it was a financial giveaway."

It came up on Twitter that this is:
Joint face-saving by grumbling execs and bumbling reporters who were used by them to muddy the trade waters.

Can't help but agree.

Berkman in play with Yankees?

Having apparently lost out on Dunn (maybe to the White Sox, maybe not), the Yankees could be interested in Lance, says Smilin' Ken Rosenthal:

Berkman could be in play for #Yankees under right circumstances. Tight with Pettitte. Likely waive no-trade for NYY. Depends on price. #MLB

http://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/19926855686

Happ wasn't so happy to be traded

If you read Randy Miller's article in the Bucks County Times, you'll find that J.A. Happ had a hard time leaving yesterday:

Trying not to think about what he'd heard in the morning on television, 27-year-old left-hander threw on a pair of blue shorts with a Phillies logo, a T-shirt and headed from the clubhouse to the ballpark concourse to get in an afternoon jog.

"Rumors are rumors until you get called in," Happ said, referring to a blockbuster trade that had been widely reported as done.

Before finishing his run, Happ was summoned to the manager's office by pitching coach Rich Dubee.

Knowing what was coming, Happ wanted to cry.

"I talked to a lot of guys in there and it is very emotional to even try to look them in the eye and know that they've been my teammates, I've been blessed to be able to play with these guys. It's such a great group. I know I've fed off them. Maybe at times, they've fed off me."

And here, in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Happ and Dubee disappeared into a tunnel in the right-field corner. The pitching coach led Happ to an office where Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr. waited with the news: He had been traded to Houston for Roy Oswalt. "This is all I've ever known," Happ said later, fighting back tears during a news conference.

Meanwhile, he got it together enough to give a few words to the Chronicle:
"I was a little shocked, a little surprised today, but definitely looking on the positive, I hope to be part of their future and hope to help turn things around there. It's nice to go to a team that you know wants you."

White Sox are active!

GM Kenny Williams - who can only be described as "gutty" or "gritty" or "bold" - is active with the Astros today.

First, Ed Price said that "there is buzz" about the possibility of the White Sox acquiring Lance Berkman, while Bob Nightengale says that Williams is "quietly exploring" adding Brett Myers to the rotation (which Jon Heyman confirms as a rumor).

Clemens to DL with a hammy

The Caller-Times has a report (confirmed by Zach Levine) that Koby Clemens strained his right hamstring last Saturday, and it hasn't improved enough, so he's shelved for another week.

What are going to do with all these shortstops?

Apparently, the same thing the Astros will do with all these catchers. Let them fight it out.

Ricky Bennett:
"We're going to keep them at the position, let them go and develop all the way through the system. And then at some point, obviously, we'll have to make a decision. But you can never have too many middle infielders, too many shortstops."

Justice goes from despair to optimism in one short article

Yesterday the sky was falling. Today it's sunshine and rainbows. According to Justice:

For the first time in a long time, there's a reason to be optimistic about the Astros.Maybe the people in charge are starting to get it. Maybe they understand the need for a new blueprint, a fresh start. The Astros didn't get lousy overnight, and they're not going to be fixed overnight. But they made a significant step in the right direction on Thursday...

...Regardless, it was the right thing to do. Some will argue Wade could have scored better players from other teams, and they could be right about that. He'll eventually have to stop acquiring players he drafted when he was general manager of the Phillies. But there was something larger at work in the Oswalt deal. The Astros acknowledged they needed to take a step back before going forward. Doing so was painful, but also necessary. It seems like forever since they've been a really good team. It may be a while before they're really good again, but they inched back in that direction on Thursday.

My issue is not that Justice now is getting towards writing more glowing reports about the Astros - God knows I love it when he slams them. It was okay to be upset that the Astros didn't get much out of the deal with Philadelphia. And it was okay to be excited about flipping Gose for Wallace. But writing a blog post (as Justice did) slamming the trade before it the details emerged is irresponsible. Leave that crap to us bloggers, who are obviously in our parents' basement in our underwear, eating Cap'n Crunch all day long. Justice's blog post yesterday was bush-league, and we should expect more from our local media.

Wallace is major-league ready

That’s according to Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos:

Anthopoulos, on Wallace:

"We thought long and hard about this. We tried to find ways to make this trade without including Brett Wallace, but the Astros were pretty adamant that Brett was going to need to be part of this, and we ultimately made the decision. We felt this was the right move for us…

When we finally had the opportunity to acquire Anthony, though it did cost us a very good player in Brett Wallace, who we think is ready for the Major Leagues right now, we felt it was the right move to make." "

The article points out that this is the third time the Blue Jays tried to acquire Gose – in the Halladay talks, again during Spring Training, and finally yesterday.

Anthopoulos, on Gose:

"All of our scouts came back and raved about him. From a consensus standpoint, every one of our scouts thought this was going to be an above-average, All-Star-caliber center fielder. We don't have too many reports that are unanimous that way."

Keith Law breaks down the pieces in the Oswalt trade

Keith Law’s (Insider-only) article at ESPN breaks down the pieces:

On Happ:

A fifth-starter type with good command and deception but fringy stuff without a real knockout pitch. He's a particularly bad fit for Houston's ballpark as a left-handed fly ball pitcher who has had some trouble with right-handed hitters. He's also coming off a forearm strain that has ruined his 2010 season. Other than that, he's everything you could ask for in a pitcher.

On Villar:

A long-term project, a plus runner with a chance to be a plus defender all around at shortstop, but he is extremely raw at the plate and projects to have fringe-average power at best.

On Brett Wallace:

He's an advanced hitter who has been adequate in Triple-A this year but hasn't raked as I would have expected, given what a good hitter's park that is. However, he has an outstanding swing and controls the strike zone well, doesn't show the platoon split so common in left-handed hitting prospects and was just 23 in Triple-A. He's twice as valuable a prospect as Gose. Despite concerns over his lateral mobility, he's a capable first baseman who will hit for average, get on base and have enough power to be an above-average or better player there.

Hooray!

Lance Rumor Roundup

So now we turn our attention to the possibility that the Astros will trade Roy and Lance in the same weekend. What’s the market looking like?

Smilin’ Ken (last night):

Source: Berkman market fairly dormant. Teams on Fielder/Dunn checking in, but without much enthusiasm.

Peter Gammons:

Wallace trade may see Berkman exit. Yanks, Red Sox, Chisox? LA out

Bob Nightengale:

The Astros are very much willing to move Berkman, but there is no urgency, knowing he will clear waivers and be traded in (August).

Tranzactionz!

Muchos Tranzactionz for you today:

Round Rock

July 29: Assigned Brett Wallace to Round Rock, released Tommy Everidge

July 28: Assigned Chris Shelton to Round Rock

Corpus

July 29: Placed Koby Clemens on 7-Day DL (unspecified injury)

July 29: Assigned Jhon Florentino from Lancaster to Corpus

Lancaster

July 29: Activated David Flores from 7-Day DL

July 29: Assigned Jose Trinidad to Lancaster from Lexington

July 29: Assigned SS Jonathan Villar to Lancaster

Greeneville

July 28: Signed free agent IF Chris Lovett

Who is this Chris Lovett? Lovett is a 21-year old righty infielder – playing at SS, 2B, and 3B - and was a 12th Round draft pick by the Braves in the 2009 draft. In parts of two seasons (228 total PAs), he has hit .231/.317/.327 – including an 0x3 night last night.

Eddie's Farm: July 29

Round Rock

Oklahoma City pretty well handled Round Rock in an 8-1 win. Yorman Bazardo threw 5IP, 8H/3ER, 5K:2BB while it was Brad Thompson allowing most of the damage: 0.1IP, 6H/5ER, 1K:0BB. At least the one out he got was a punch-out. Jonah Bayliss and Danny Meszaros combined for 2.2IP, 2K:1BB. Wladimir Sutil had your lone XBH – a double, while the Express’ seven hits were sprayed over seven different players.

Man of the Match: Brian Bogusevic – 1x4, RBI

Corpus Christi

Big offensive night from Corpus, who took advantage of five San Antonio errors for a 15-7 win. Dallas Keuchel is continuing to adjust to Double-A, allowing 9H/6ER in 3IP. Edwin Walker allowed 1H/1ER, 1K:2BB in 2IP; Jailen Peguero allowed 1H in 2IP, while Matt Nevarez and Arcenio Leon threw scoreless innings. Jon Gaston (HR, 3RBI), Jhon Florentino (3RBI), and Lou Santangelo had three hits each, while Jack Shuck (2BB, RBI), Michael Affronti (2RBI), and Jimmy Van Ostrand (2RBI) had two hits each. The offense roughed up San Antonio starting pitcher – and former Hook – Tyler Lumsden for 8H/8R (4ER), 3K:3BB in 3.2IP.

Man of the Match: Jon Gaston

Lancaster

The JetHawks let Visalia tie up the game 4-4 in the top of the 9th before Albert Cartwright’s walk-off single gave Lancaster a 5-4 win. Kyle Greenwalt turned in a quality start, with 6H/3ER, 3K:4BB in 6IP. Brian Wabick threw 2IP, 1H/1ER, 2K:0BB, while David Berner got the blown save and the win, with 1H/2BB. Cartwright was 3x4 (2SB, 2RBI), Andy Simunic and David Flores had two hits. John Curtis was 1x2 with 2BB and a solo homer.

Man of the Match: Albert Carwright

Lexington

The Legends coasted to a 4-1 win over Delmarva as Luis Cruz dominated. Cruz threw 7.2IP, 6H/1ER, 10K:0BB for his fifth win, while Wander Alvino got the last out of the eighth before Kirk Clark threw a perfect 9th for his 23rd save of the year. Jose Altuve was 2x4 with a double and three runs scored, while Jake Goebbert was 2x4 with two doubles and 3RBI. Rene Garcia also had two hits.

Man of the Match: Luis Cruz

Tri-City

Lowell jumped all over Alex Sogard in a 9-2 win over Tri-City. Sogard allowed 6H/8R (5ER), 3K:2BB in 2IP, while two of his runs were allowed by Joan Belliard, who allowed 3H/1ER, 2K:0BB in 4IP of relief. Adam Champion threw 1.2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:1BB and Travis Blankenship allowed a hit and a walk in 1.1IP. Enrique Hernandez continued his fine season with a 2x4 night, with Orloff, Burnett, Heath (solo homer), and Bailey (RBI) getting the other hits.

Man of the Match: Ben Heath

Greeneville

Greeneville scored the final four runs of the game – including two in the bottom of the 9th, with the game-winner coming on Carlos Mojica’s pinch-hit single with two outs for a 4-3 win over Bristol. Vincent Velasquez allowed 5H/3R (2ER), 5K:0BB in 5IP, with John Frawley striking out five in 2IP. Travis Smink threw 1.1 scoreless IPs, and Jeiler Castillo got the win. Emilio King was 2x3 with an RBI, while Our Boy Bubby Williams, and Ricardo Heredia added RBIs to the winning effort.

Man of the Match: Vincent Velasquez

Everidge released

Sure enough, the Astros released 1B Tommy Everidge prior to last night’s game with Oklahoma City.

In 30 games with Round Rock, Everidge hit .297 with 5HR and 14RBI.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2011 Payroll

Here's who we have on the hook for money in 2011:

Carlos Lee: $19m
Roy Oswalt: $9m
Brett Myers: $8m (mutual option, or $2m buyout)
Brandon Lyon: $5.25m
Lance Berkman: $2m (we'll just go ahead and assume they're buying him out, if they don't trade him first)

1st Year of Arbitration:
Felipe Paulino

2nd Year of Arbitration:
Hunter Pence
Michael Bourn
Matt Lindstrom
Jeff Keppinger
Chris Sampson

3rd Year of Arbitration:
Wandy Rodriguez
Humberto Quintero

4th Year of Arbitration:
Tim Byrdak

So before we get into arbitration, the Astros are on the hook for $43.25m. That's assuming Myers stays next year and the Astros buy out Berkman.

Now, the arbitration eligible players are making a combined $17.255m this year. Let's say the increase is 50% across the board (which is an incredibly roundabout number), the Astros would be on the hook for a total payroll of $69.1m. That doesn't include Happ, Wright, Fulchino, Arias, Norris, Castro, Johnson, Lopez, Manzella, Sanchez, Bogusevic, Wallace, or Bourgeois - all of whom should come in under $500,000 for the year.

Berkman "in play"

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal has a source who apparently knows some things:

Berkman "in play," discussions taking place. Deal far from guaranteed. Berkman, like Oswalt, has full no-trade.

ESPN's Rumor Central lists three potential destinations for Lance:
This could mean the Astros are looking to move Lance Berkman before Saturday's deadline, with the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants as potential landing spots for the switch hitting veteran, who has a no-trade clause.

The Angels just lost out on Derrek Lee, who wouldn't waive his no-trade clause to leave Chicago, but perhaps Berkman would.

But again, maybe he wouldn't. Back on June 16, Berkman told Yahoo's Jeff Passan (regarding approving a trade):
"That wouldn’t be an automatic yes. That would be a long, hard thought. Especially because I’d rather go east than west. It would have to be a contender. There is absolutely no way I would consent to going somewhere that didn’t have a good chance not just to get to the playoffs, but to win the whole thing. That would be consideration No. 1."

Rosenthal: Gose for Wallace

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Astros are trading CF Anthony Gose to the Blue Jays for IF Brett Wallace.

Looks like the Astros got their 1B of the future. Wallace, who was the Cardinals' 1st Round pick in 2008, went to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal, and traded to the Blue Jays for Michael Taylor, who had been traded from Philadelphia as part of the Halladay deal.

Wallace is a 23-year old (24 at the end of August) 6'2" 205lb lefty hitting .304/.375/.487 over three seasons. He has been at Triple-A for parts of '09 and '10, where he has posted a .299/.357/.484 line.

He has 83K:27BB this season, with a 37.1% XBH rate (24 dobules, one triple, 18 homers) to go with a .301/.359/.509 line. He's been helped by a .347 BABIP this year, but has hit the same rate of fly balls as groundballs - 37.7% - with a 24.6% line drive rate.

The good news is that he's gotten better every year. His OPS has increased in each month from May to July (.816, .849, .881), while his BABIP has gone down (.382, .361. /326).

Ken Rosenthal says he'll head to Triple-A, where Tommy Everidge is now out of a job, and Koby Clemens is no longer the 2012 heir apparent at 1B. Once the trading deadline passes, we'll recap Eddie's Farm, including our rankings of the minor leagues. And we'll only do this after Saturday, because there could be more coming.

Berkman next?

The NY Post's Joel Sherman talked to an AL exec who said that teams are starting to warm up to Lance Berkman, because Washington is asking too much/can't decide if they want to part with (sound familiar?) Adam Dunn.

Further:
Berkman also would have to waive no-trade, but could be lower cost, probably lower production for teams that don't like Dunn's price.

Bloomberg Sports gives you reason to whimper

Here's the article from Bloomberg Sports reminding you to never feel happy as an Astros fan:

Looking at Happ's underlying statistics, there are plenty of reasons to worry about him in Houston. Just a peek at his 2010 strikeout rate (5.28 K/9) and walk rate (7.04 BB/9) alone should send the proverbial shiver down the spine. Happ has had some trouble finding the strike zone all year, as he walked 4.1 per nine on his rehab stint too. Granted, he's pitched only 15.1 innings this year.

Then again, this wildness is not typical of Happ's career to date, and we also know that walk rates take a while to stabilize (550 batters faced). Happ's career walk rate is 3.48 BB/9, which is about average (3.33 BB/9 is average this year). The problem is more his lack of a great strikeout rate (6.59 K/9 career, MLB average is 7.03 K/9 this year) or groundball rate (36.5% career, 44% is league average). This package adds up to a mediocre career xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching, a number that strips out batted ball luck, home run luck and other factors, and produces a number on the ERA scale) of 4.65. Happ did put up a 9.2 K/9 in the minor leagues, but until he shows an improved number in that category in the major leagues, we'll have to go with what we see.

Don't get used to this Anthony Gose fella

Tim Brown is saying that the Astros are in talks to flip Anthony Gose to Toronto...

Which is confirmed by Amy K. Nelson:
Sources said the Astros will receive outfielder Anthony Gose as part of the deal and then send him to the Toronto Blue Jays. Gose is currently at Class A Clearwater in the Florida State League, where he was batting .263 with a team-high 110 hits.

Welcome Wagon: Jonathan Villar

And finally, we welcome 19-year old shortstop Jonathan Villar from Lakewood. Villar (sometimes apparently spelled "Villan" - which is way cooler) has hit .270/.345/.352 in his three-season career, making the jump from the DSL in 2008 to Rookie ball in 2009 to Single-A in 2010.

The first thing that jumps out about Villar(n) is the stolen bases. He has 82 in his career, and 38 of those so far in 2010. He's also posting a .272/.332/.358 line, which means he doesn't have much power.

Like Gose, his average is propped up by a .387 BABIP, with a 60.7% groundball rate. He's able to get the ball in the air against lefties (34.9%, as opposed to 20.7% against RHP), but he has steadily declined this season in OPS:

April: .750
May: .723
June: .694
July: .670.

Again, we won't say much because he's a 19-year old prospect, but Baseball America says this:
Scouts rave about Villar's range and easy actions, saying he could play defense in the big leagues right now. "Defensively, it's all there—60 arm, very good range," one scout told us recently. Villar runs very well and is aggressive in terms of stealing and taking extra bases. Like Gose, he'll need repetitions to refine his offensive game. Villar likes to swing at fastballs early in the count and rarely walks. The switch-hitter has fared marginally better from the left side this season, batting .270/.333/.363 with both of his home runs.

Welcome Wagon: Anthony Gose

And we welcome 19-year old lefty CF Anthony Gose to the organization, a player in which the most-used adjective is "toolsy."

Gose was the Phillies' 2nd Round pick in the 2008 draft, and is currently in High-A Clearwater hitting .263/.325/.385, with 103K:32BB, and 36 stolen bases (in 63 attempts).

Let's look further at his 2010:

Unfortunately, his average is inflated by a .348 BABIP, and he's hitting groundballs 60% of the time. His OPS against RHP is .780, with a .280/.352/.428 slash line (and .248/.287/.326 against LHP). His XBH rate in 2010 is 29.0% (up from his 26.5% 2009 rate).

So. Not overly impressive, but we're put on notice by Baseball America's Ben Badler:
I don't like the deal for the Astros, but if you're just looking at stats for Villar and Gose, you're missing the boat.

Baseball America:
Gose led all minor leaguers with 76 stolen bases in 2009, when he batted .259/.323/.353 for low Class A Lakewood. While he remains an unfinished product with the bat, his speed, center-field defense and arm all draw raves from scouts—and even a few 70s on the scouting scale. His tools are apparent in his standing in the Florida State League. Gose ranks second in the circuit with 36 steals (one behind Jupiter's Kevin Mattison) and 15 outfield assists, while pacing all FSL batters with 67 runs scored and 11 triples. He employs a slashing hitting style that lends itself to below-average power, though he will occasionally sting one the other way. Gose's pitch recognition needs significant refinement if he's to profile as a true on-base-oriented leadoff batter. The Astros (and before them the Phillies) are betting that Gose's batting eye will improve, given his athleticism and baseball acumen.

Eddie may not be done yet

Yahoo's Tim Brown just tweeted that the Astros may not be done dealing:

Toronto loved Gose from dealings with Phi over Halladay. Don't be surprised if Houston flips him to Jays.

Two teams made a late push

Jerry Crasnick tweeted (and here) that the Cardinals and Padres got into the Roy discussion this morning, but it was "too late" for the Cardinals and the Padres "couldn't make it work."

Welcome Wagon: J.A. Happ

And now we can welcome LHP J.A. Happ to the Houston Astros rotation.

Your starting rotation at 2:15pm on Thursday looks as such: Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris, Wesley Wright.

Happ will be 28 on October 19, and was the Phillies' 3rd Round pick in 2004.

In his 109-game minor-league career (including three rehab starts in 2010), Happ posted a 3.52 ERA/1.26 WHIP in 565.2IP, with 579K:224BB. In 2008, he was 8-7 for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with a 3.60 ERA/1.22 WHIP, 151K:48BB in 135IP.

2009 was his breakout year for the Phillies, going 12-4 in 23 starts (35 games) with three complete games and two shutouts, posting a 2.93 ERA/1.24 WHIP in 166IP and finishing 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting, behind Chris Coghlan. Among all rookies who received votes, Happ had the highest WAR, with 3.8.

Overall, his splits are encouraging: .636 OPS Against on the road. .460 OPSa w/RISP. There are lots of things to be encouraged about (and we can manipulate statistics to fit our mood), and also plenty to be discouraged about. Chief among them are the injuries, and that Happ will be 30-31 when the Astros likely get respectable again.

Welcome!

And that wraps up the deal for the best pitcher in Astros history

It's a sad day. Turns out that after all the "Screw You, Roy" posts and the wildly popular #RoyDemands series on Twitter, I'm a little beaten up that it actually happened.

First, this was an avoidable process. But the avoidance needed to start three or four years ago. That's another post for another time.

The Astros have traded Roy Oswalt, he of the "appropriately one win short of the franchise record for wins" fame for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose, and Jonathan Villar. And $11 million.

It's hard to believe that the Astros had to get to the point of trading him. If you recall a long time ago (and it was 5+ years, so I'm not even going to start looking for a link), Drayton said he wanted Berkman, Oswalt, and Lidge to retire as Astros. It looks as though none of them will actually do so.

While it's early, we'll immediately start looking at the players the Astros received, but essentially they paid $11 million to send Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia. Just need a few minutes to collect some thoughts.

3rd Name: SS Jonathan Villar

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal has a name for us (unconfirmed) to round out the second prospect (if Happ doesn't count as a prospect anymore):

SS Jonathan Villar.

Villar is a 19-year old shortsop for Single-A Lakewood, hitting .272/.332/.358 in 100 games this season, with 103K:26BB and 38SB. He has committed 42 errors in 99 games for a .913 Fld%

In other words, he's a worse-fielding, slightly-better hitting, faster Jiovanni Mier.

Two down, one to go

So CSN Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury is tweeting that Happ and CF Anthony Gose are definites in the Roy deal.

Who's the third (or third and fourth?)

Looks like it's either Vance Worley or Jonathan Singleton. Who's it going to be?

Ed Price: Two individual sources saying Singleton is in the deal

Ed Price has two independent sources (not involved in the trade) saying that Jonathan Singleton is, in fact, part of the Roy trade.

The deal isn't finalized, and already Justice is bitching

You ever decide you're going to love a movie before you even see it? I did that with Clive Owen's "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead." Decided I would love it. For three years I believed this lie, that it was a good movie, when it's a fried turd.

Richard Justice has already decided to hate this trade:

If Ed Wade ends up trading Roy Oswalt for a bunch of older prospects, he will have made a bad deal. Plenty of names are floating around, so let's take a deep breath and see how it plays out.

And then there's the money. Wade apparently agreed to pay at least $10 million of the remaining $23 million on Oswalt's contract. I don't get it. It smells like a salary dump with the baseball team getting only slightly better.

Maybe Oswalt will save Wade from himself and veto the deal. But there's no way to know if this is a good deal. Prospects are just that. Would the Astros be better to wait for the off-season and try to market him again? They decided they were going to trade Oswalt now, and by God, they were going to trade him.

The Astros will be down to about $30 million in 2011 salary commitments once Lance Berkman is off the books. So things could work out.


I'm not sure what more Justice wants. There was one team interested, because the trade with the Cardinals was never going to work, and the Dodgers put the "funk" in dysfunction. It's hard to get leverage when teams keep dropping out. Did the Astros put themselves in that place? Maybe, probably. But did you really think that, once the Phillies put their hat in the ring, it wasn't going to work out exactly as it has so far?

Nothing that happens now will satisfy Justice, but what is he pissed about? That the Phillies traded all their good players for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and then let Cliff Lee walk? Get in line with all of Philadelphia. But it's hard to be pissed about how the negotiation is going when it comes down to "Trade this guy to me, or I walk away." So let's reserve judgment on this deal until it's finalized, yes?

Speculating on the players coming back

So it seems like it's a given that the Astros will be getting three players in return for their $11 million down payment on Roy's new condo in Philadelphia. Who are they (besides J.A. Happ, which seems like a given)?

Jerry Crasnick:
Anthony Gose's name floating around as candidate to go to Houston in Oswalt deal. Bourn (is) making $2.4M and getting more pricey.

Ed Price (FanHouse):
Hearing two names from Phillies to Astros: RHP Vance Worley (9-4, 3.20 in AA before promotion) and OF Anthony Gose (.263, 36 SB in A)

Oswalt to approve trade

Jayson Stark is reporting that Roy Oswalt will accept the trade to Philadelphia.

The deal, with the prospects unnamed beyond J.A. Happ, includes approximately $11m going to Philadelphia.

Stark:
While the Phillies prospects have not been identified, sources said the Astros have pressed hard for first baseman Jonathan Singleton, considered the team's best minor-league hitting prospect. Singleton is currently at Class A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League, where he was hitting .312 with 18 doubles and 12 home runs as of Thursday.

Also within the article, we find that the Astros may be paying Oswalt directly to drop his no-trade clause, in addition to paying the Phillies to play him.

Amy K. Nelson tweets (and here) that the Phillies will add $1 million to the 2012 buyout to compensate for waiving his no-trade clause, and to help with the added income tax. And the Phillies are also working on transferring his no-trade clause to Philly.

What does bother me, though, is the hoops the Astros are having to jump through to trade a pitcher who requested a trade two months ago to the two-time defending NL champions. That bothers me.

Three-for-one deal

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal says:

Source: Deal is 3-for-1. Happ in. #Astros would pay "very significant" part of Oswalt's remaining salary, which is over 23M.

http://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/19828125404

Potential package for Oswalt

Jon Heyman has heard:

Phils, Astros were discussing Happ, Vance Worley and 2 younger pitchers. could be package for Oswalt.

http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman/status/19822365067

Hey! That's what I said. If this happens, where the Astros have one team really in on the negotiations, and they get four young pitchers for one disgruntled one, I'll be happy.

2012 option not required

Ken Davidoff lets us in on a little family secret:

"Oswalt has been telling friends for the last few days that he would NOT require the '12 option to be exercised. Now it's go time."

http://twitter.com/KenDavidoff/status/19822572404

Report: Roy traded to Philadelphia

Big thanks to Deputy Street for giving the heads-up that the Astros have a deal in place with Philly for Roy. Here's the situation, though nothing much has changed since the Berman report broke around midnight Central.

-The players and money are agreed upon, Roy is aware of the deal, he has his 60 hours notice, and the Astros are waiting on his approval.

-We should have an answer today. He's scheduled to pitch tomorrow night in the series opener against the Brewers.

-Details are sketchy. But let's make some notes:

*We've done the match before, but let's do it again. Roy makes about $92,592 per game, so there's $5.64m (-ish) left on his contract in 2010 + the $16m he's guaranteed in 2011. And we don't know about the 2012 option.

*The Astros were asking for four prospects. We don't know what they're getting in return, but could it be possible that there are more pieces going to Philly than just Roy? Are the Phillies not comfortable with throwing Happ and Kendrick out there? Take Roy and Myers (pure speculation, and highly unlikely), or maybe Jeff Keppinger is part of the deal. Or...Or...Or... You get the idea.

*I'm going to guess that the Astros will pay the rest of Roy's salary in 2010. As far as the players go, who freaking knows? Happ, Worley, and two players from Lakewood.

Stay tuned, it's going to be an interesting morning.

Berman: Astros Await Oswalt's OK on Trade to Phillies

Mark Berman, Sports Director for KRIV Fox 26 in Houston, is reporting that the Astros have a deal in place with the Phillies to trade Oswalt, pending his approval.

Sources told FOX 26 the Astros have approached Oswalt. He is aware of the deal that is on the table and the club is waiting for his response. MLB sources told FOX 26 the Astros and Phillies have agreed on the amount of money Houston will take back in the deal and the two teams have agreed on the players Philadelphia will be sending.

Footer Tweets that she will not be able to get confirmation on the report until tomorrow, but did have this to say regarding Berman:

[F]or what it's worth Berman is never wrong when he goes that far w/ his reporting. He is 100 % or he doesn't go with it.

McTaggart is also unable to confirm the story, though he has tried

When contacted late Wednesday, Astros general manager Ed Wade declined comment on trade discussions, and Oswalt could not be reached for comment.

Stay tuned, I’m sure The Constable will be all over this one come daybreak…

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday night Roymors

Lots of speculation tonight - so much so that we won't subject you to an individual post for each one (though as we're just about 230 posts from 5000, it's not a bad idea).

Buster Olney:
The Phillies' trade for Roy Oswalt that has been discussed is likely to include three or four teams -- if it happens.

Buster, later:
A third team that was involved in the Phillies-Oswalt talks has backed out. Philly-Houston now dealing head to head.

Ken Rosenthal:
Phillies clearly exploring options besides Oswalt. In on Lilly, Cook, others; Beimel for 'pen.

Jayson Stark:
The Phillies and Astros have intensified talks in the last 24 hours about a deal that would send Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia, sources said. But major financial obstacles remain that could still stand in the way of this trade being completed before Saturday's trading deadline...

...Officials of multiple teams that have been speaking with the two clubs said Wednesday they believed the Phillies and Astros were close enough to agreeing on the players who would go to Houston that the players were no longer viewed as a major obstacle. The Astros would receive pitcher J.A. Happ, plus prospects. But the teams were said to be "not in total agreement" yet on the prospects.


The issue, of course, is the money. Stark reports that the Phillies have taken Jayson Werth off the market, so they'll be adding the rest of Roy's payroll (which, if I'm not mistaken, is around $7 million for the rest of this year).

Stark:
Despite reports to the contrary, the Phillies have gotten no indication that the 32-year-old right-hander has dropped his request that the Phillies pick up his option for 2012. The Phillies have already balked at that demand.

Yet Stark reports that Roy is still the Phillies' top priority, so maybe there's a way that the Astros haven't completely screwed this up.

Drayton: 60-40 chance that Roy will be traded

Drayton lays the odds of Roy being traded at 60-40, according to Zach Levine.

Drayton:
"I'd say it's about 60 percent that something could be done and 40 percent that Roy will be here next year."

Levine:
An exasperated Oswalt, clearly tiring of the attention that his marketability has brought, said he hasn't been approached about a deal. He reiterated that his sole focus between now and Friday's start against the Brewers would be preparing for the Milwaukee lineup.

This is unbelievable. If the Astros have three tradeable pitchers (Oswalt, Myers, and Wandy), and the ace asks for a trade in May, and they can't get any of them done, this front office would challenge the Tim Purpura years as the worst front office in Astros history. Roy hasn't made it easy - that's well-documented, and we'll save our wrath for 3:01pm Central time - but if nothing happens, this would be a complete and utter disaster.

The latest news in slapping your head

Brett Myers, who probably has more trade value than anybody on the team, won't be traded, says Richard Justice, who has apparently heard it from a good source. Not just won't be traded, but is "untouchable."

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. If Myers continues pitching the way he has, I highly doubt that he'll stick around Houston in a rebuilding year - or what should be a rebuilding year, by God - for $5.1 million. If Justice's source is right, then this is a terrible decision

Rangers make offer to Roy

Captip to Citizen Jonathan, who shared this story that the Rangers have made an offer for Roy.

Major League Baseball sources told FOX 26 Sports the Texas Rangers made an offer Wednesday to acquire pitcher Roy Oswalt in a trade with the Houston Astros.

MLB sources also told FOX 26 the St. Louis Cardinals have ended their efforts to land Oswalt.


Drayton:
"There have been lots of discussions. We've talked about a lot of proposed deals. There's nothing imminent."

I don't have any idea how they could pull off this trade - not just from a prospect standpoint, but how the Rangers can do it financially.

Keep an eye on Philly and Fausto Carmona

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly says the Phillies and Astros were still engaged in talks today, though if they can't get it worked out, there's another name to watch:

The Oswalt deal is not dead, but Carmona has emerged as someone to watch closely as Saturday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

Alright everyone just calm down for a second

It should be pointed out, as Craig Calcaterra has, that Ted Lilly has a no-trade clause that includes Philadelphia. Furthermore, as Jayson Stark reminds us, the Phillies aren't interested in pitchers who will be free agents in the off-season.

So let's all take a deep breath. And stay on the edge of our seats until Saturday at 3:01pm. By the by. Let's do a live chat, eh? Say...Saturday at 2pm Central?

From the Office of the County Clerk - G101: Astros v. Cubs

Well isn't that something? Astros win 8-1, and win the series 2-1.

*This win gives the Astros a 25-20 record against the NL Central this season. Too bad they're 17-39 against everybody else. They're 8-4 against the Cubs, 3-3 against the Brewers, 7-2 against the Pirates, 5-4 against the Cardinals, and, uh, 2-7 against the Reds.

*The Astros held the Cubs to one run in each of the last two games. The last time they allowed just one run or fewer in consecutive games? Either side of the 2009 All-Star Break: 5-0 win over Washington on July 12, and 3-0 win at LA on July 16.

*Bud Norris was The Man, throwing 6IP, 4H/1R (0ER), 7K:3BB. He only threw 86 pitches in the outing, 56 of them for strikes. It's also the fourth time in his last five starts that he has managed to get 18+ outs.

*It's the first time Norris didn't allow an earned run since July 3 @ San Diego, when he got a no decision in a 1-0 loss.

*And let's tip our caps to Fernando Abad, who made his ML debut today. He threw a scoreless 9th, but gave up a hit and a walk, with 10 of his 19 pitches coming in for strikes.

*Carlos Lee was 2x4 with 4RBI today, and both hits were home runs. The last multi-homer game he had was on August 23, 2007, and this was his 2nd 4RBI game of the year.

*We also need to give it up to Lance Berkman, who was 2x2 with three walks. So that's him getting on base five times in the same game. He is 3x5 with 1K:4BB in his last two games, and has raised his OBP 11 points (from .361 to .372).

*Chris Johnson was 2x4 with a walk - his fourth of the year. This month, he has the same amount of homers (three) as walks (also, of course, three). And he has that 12-game hitting streak rolling.

*Before Johnson's hitting streak, he was hitting a respectable (hell, downright fantastic, for the Astros) .282. He's currently hitting .328.

*Hunter Pence was 3x5 with 2RBI, his 6th 3+ hit game of the year. This means that the Astros 3-4-5 hitters were a combined 7x11, with 0K:3BB, 6RBI.

*And let's welcome Jason Castro back to the hit column. It's his 3rd multi-hit game in 21 starts, and his first since July 19...against the Cubs!

*The Astros struck out four times, and walked six. That's the 15th time this season the Astros have drawn more walks than strikeouts.

*The loss by the Cubs means that they're a combined 7-17 against the Astros and Pirates. If you want to further clap with glee, they're a combined 10-24 against the Astros, Pirates, Mariners, Nationals, and Mets.

Pitch Count Hero: Jason Castro (2x5) and Lance Berkman (2x2, 3BB) - 27 pitches in five PAs.

Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee (2x4) - six pitches in four PAs.

Well, this complicates things

Ed Price of FanHouse is tweeting:

Hearing possible Ted Lilly for JA Happ deal. NOT confirmed.

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal confirms:
Phillies have expressed interest in Cubs' Lilly. Dodgers, Twins, others in as well. Source: Mets "waiting on direction from above."

If the Mets are waiting on God, they shouldn't bother. God doesn't care about the Mets. The Phillies could be pushing the Astros around a little bit, here...

Meanwhile, Jon Heyman has further evidence the Phillies are either moving on, or pressuring the Astros:
Indians, Phillies talking trade. Westbrook, Carmona possibilities.

Phil Rogers knows some scouts

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers talked to some scouts who said that Brett Myers is more likely to be traded than Roy or Ted Lilly.

Ed Wade: We'll take all the time we need, thank you very much

Zach Levine's article gives Ed Wade's response to Roy's request to "have a little time" to think any trade over:

"We'll use all the time allotted to us. If there's the right decision to be made sooner rather than later, we'll make it, otherwise, we'll use all the time available to try to make the right decisions."

In other words, "Screw you, Roy. We'll do things our way. They may be no way at all, but we'll do them our way."

Zolecki: Roy might not make the Phillies pick up that option

MLB.com's Todd Zolecki says that the 2012 option isn't as big a deal as it's made out to be, and that Easy Eddie himself is personally acquainted with the Phillies' Single-A team:

Sources said yesterday that Oswalt would waive his no-trade clause to play in Philadelphia, which echoed what Oswalt said Monday. Sources also said his $16 million club option for 2012 is not the sticking point it has been made to be, indicating Oswalt might not make the Phillies pick up the option, if it meant being traded or remaining in Houston...

...It remains to be seen if the Phillies and Astros can agree on prospects. The Astros have scouted left-hander J.A. Happ, which indicates he could be part of the deal. Astros general manager Ed Wade personally scouted Class A Lakewood recently. (Hint, hint, they know the talent in Lakewood very well.)


Okay. Here's Lakewood's stat page. Any guesses?

Inside Pulse: Reds are interested, too

With the news that the Cardinals are out on Roy, the Astros may be able to flip that hatred of St. Louis by dealing him to the competition - division rival Cincinnati Reds.

According to Jim Hayes of Fox Sports Midwest, the Cincinnati Reds are inquiring on Astro Ace Roy Oswalt.

Hayes, calling into the radio show he co-hosts in St. Louis on 590 the Fan, reports that the Reds have called the Astros on the pitcher...


The Reds do have Yonder Alonso sitting at 1B, blocked by Joey Votto. If the conversation starts there, I'm interested.

Roy's latest demand: Some time to ponder a trade

Because it's not like he didn't ask for a trade back in May, Roy really hopes that the Astros give him more time than an hour to think about where it turns out he's been dealt:

"I'm hoping it's not going to be dropped on me an hour before the deadline. Give me a little bit of time to think about...

...You do need a little bit of time. I don't want it to be two hours before the deadline and have to make a quick decision. I would rather have a little bit of time to think about it."


So what in the Tal Smith has he been thinking about this entire f$$%^ing time?

Why hasn't Oswalt been traded? Because the front office can barely tie their shoes

Or, at least that's according to Richard Justice. In a 42,000 word (approx.) manifesto, Justice lays out myriad reasons (yes, that's the proper way to put it) on why Oswalt hasn't been traded, but spends more time talking about Brian Bogusevic, the 2000-2007 drafts, and how the Astros have handled the Roy negotiations. So why hasn't Roy been traded? I'm not sure that question is answered...

Know this: If Oswalt takes the mound as scheduled Friday night, the odds of him being traded are down to almost nothing. Wade might then look to trade Myers, which will be easy to do, but bring fewer players.

I'll disagree. I think the Astros try to set the franchise record, and then ramp things up on Friday night/Saturday morning. But what do I know?

Astros willing to send insignficant amount of cash to Philadelphia

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal checks in with some Roy rumors:

The talent exchange for the Astros’ right-hander is “pretty much agreed on” and not contingent on the Phillies making a separate trade involving right fielder Jayson Werth, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. The Phillies know what the Astros want for Oswalt. The question is whether the Phils are willing to follow through on such a deal. Phillies officials are divided on whether to part with left-hander J.A. Happ and prospects for Oswalt — and take on the approximately $5 million remaining in Oswalt’s salary this season, plus his $16 million salary for 2011 and possibly another $16 million in ’12...

...The Cardinals have informed the Astros that they are no longer pursuing Oswalt, sources say. The Dodgers remain interested in Oswalt, but the discussions have failed to progress...

...The Astros are willing to include cash in any deal, sources say, but the amount they are willing to offer is not believed to be significant.


Okay, so it seems from this report that the trade is basically on the table, and the Phillies have some in the front office who are for and others who are against. If Roy (and by "Roy" I think we can safely assume that means "Bob Sugar Garber") doesn't insist on the 2012 option, this probably gets done yesterday.

Hey, at least they're trying

Buster Olney just tweeted (and here) that:

The Astros are working very, very hard to work out something acceptable in order to move Roy Oswalt. But there are a lot of questions about how many teams would be interested, given all the dynamics -- the cost in prospects, '12 option.

So. Nothing new there, but at least we get some reassurance that they're trying hard. Nay, "Very, very" hard.

Four Quarters of 2010

Sometimes it gets a little mind-numbing, to take each game at face value, and ignore the trends that an entire season can provide. So let's look at how the season has gone so far - 25 games at a time.

Batting Stats





Time FrameW-LRuns/GmAvg/SLG/OBPK:BB rateXBH%
G1-258-172.9.235/.281/.3233.3226.0%
G26-509-163.1.226/.282/.3262.3426.9%
G51-7512-134.3.248/.306/.3752.2331.4%
G76-10012-133.9.248/.320/.3821.7330.3%


Pitching Stats





Time FrameW-LRunsAll/GmERA/WHIPK:BB rateInher. Run%
G1-258-175.04.42/1.452.0839%
G26-509-164.74.40/1.482.0933%
G51-7512-135.54.95/1.571.8540%
G76-10012-134.64.19/1.322.9127%


A couple of things we should note:

*The Astros haven't gone through a 25-game span where they've actually averaged more runs per game than their opponent.

*They were 12-13 when posting their worst numbers as a pitching staff (helped by almost half of the inherited runners scoring. Thanks, bullpen.), and they were 12-13 when posting their best numbers as a pitching staff.

*Over the last 50 games, the Astros are 24-26.

Since June 1, here are your updated NL Central standings:

Milwaukee: 27-24
Cincinnati: 26-24
St. Louis: 25-23
Houston: 24-25
Chicago: 22-27
Pittsburgh: 14-33

The problem is, from the start of the season to May 31, the standings were as such:

St. Louis: 30-22
Cincinnati: 30-22
Chicago: 24-18
Milwaukee: 21-30
Pittsburgh: 21-31
Houston: 17-34

Typically, the Astros got off to such a lousy start, and don't have much to work with in the first place, that this season is pretty much done. So Astros: Pretty please, with a cherry on top. Trade the players.

Post-Dispatch: Screw Oswalt, the Cardinals should make a run at Brett Myers

Obviously impressed by last night's performance, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wants the Cardinals to make a run at Myers, whom we Astros fans don't have a sentimental (love/hate, tiredhead) attachment to. Unlike Oswalt.

Cards manager Tony La Russa has expressed admiration for Myers, noting how he became a much better pitcher after suffering injuries. Rather than trying to overpower hitters, Myers is working them with a variety of pitches.

Myers may be more of a finesse pitcher now, but he oozes mental toughness. Pitching coach Dave Duncan would love to have another veteran like this...

...The Cards know what the Astros need from earlier trade conversations, so Mozeliak should take the plunge and get Myers in the rotation in time for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.

Trading top pitching prospect Shelby Miller for a journeyman like Myers makes no sense, but the Cards should be prepared to deal from their surplus of major-league ready players.


A journeyman who has played for two teams in nine years, that's a new one. But it's still a valid point.

People can't even be bothered to watch the Astros on tv

With a captip to the Crawfish Boxes for the link, we find out that ratings for Astros telecasts are down almost 19% on FS Houston.

The Sports Business Journal says that an average of 52,237 households watch Astros games on FSH, down 18.9%, drawing a 2.46 share - which is down 19.6% from last year (supposing that's the time frame).

Only nine teams draw fewer average viewers than the Astros' average: Brewers, Padres, Pirates, Indians, Orioles, Marlins, Royals, Nationals, and A's.

Devon Torrence may still return to the Astros

2007 16th Round pick Devon Torrence - better known to Ohio State fans as starting cornerback Devon Torrence - is apparently still involved with the Astros:

Torrence said he is still involved with the Astros, but he is focusing on enjoying his last year with the Buckeye before possibly going back to the Astros.

Last year, Torrence indicated displeasure with the Astros for making the switch-hitter actually hit left-handed. The nerve. He last played in 2008, and hit .151 for Greeneville.

Who are the Astros scouting now? and other Phillies news

The Express-Times is reporting that the Astros - and Padres - had scouts on hand to watch Phillies prospect Vance Worley throw six shutout innings for Lehigh Valley against Durham last night.

Oddly, the Philadelphia Inquirer says the Astros didn't have a scout at the Lehigh Valley game (I'll go with the guy who was at the game).

One guy who was talking was Brandon Duckworth, who challenged the rumor that Roy couldn't handle the Philly media:

"He just wants to win. The Astros came so close in 2005 and I know that drives him. The only thing he has to accomplish is a world championship."


And Charlie Manuel doesn't want Ruben Amaro to bother, unless it's a top-notch starter:
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, without mentioning Oswalt's name, said he would prefer for the front office to acquire a top-notch starter. Oswalt is the last pitcher on the trading block who fits that description. But the money is an issue because Oswalt's health has been a factor in the recent past. Manuel said he's not interested in a pitcher without top-of-the-rotation credentials.

"I don't want us to get some guy we've already got," Manuel said. "What would be the purpose of that?"

-

The Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Hagen says that the Phillies have been interested in Kansas City (either Greinke or Farnsworth). Read the article, because what follows is a speculation trip around the Majors that will get you 20,000 frequent flyer miles.