Saturday, September 18, 2010

Toronto to reveal its Triple-A plans in the next "day or so"

After moving their high-Rookie team to Vancouver today, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said he would reveal their Triple-A plans in the "next day or so."

Why do we give a ruby red rat leg? Because there are two teams without a Triple-A affiliate: Toronto and Houston. And there are two Triple-A franchises without a Major-League parent: Las Vegas and Oklahoma City. And Toronto ended their affiliation with Las Vegas at the close of the 2010 PCL season.

From the Office of the County Clerk - Recap for G148: Astros v. Reds

Wow. Ugly. Reds win 11-1.

*The loss is the third 10+ run loss for the Astros of the season. They lost 14-4 on May 31 to the Nationals, and 12-2 at, yes, Cincinnati on May 29.

*This loss drops the Astros to 3-8 against the Reds in 2010. They're 7-20 against Cincinnati in 2009-2010.

*The Astros have lost two of three for just the second time since August 27-29, against the Mets.

*Nelson Figueroa may have pitched himself out of the rotation for what's left of the season with his 4.1IP, 7H/5R (3ER), 5K:2BB, 2HR performance tonight.

*In 13 games with the Phillies, Figueroa had only allowed one homer. Since coming to the Astros, he has allowed seven homers - five in his stint as a starter.

*This is Figueroa's fourth straight start that he hasn't gotten more than 15 outs, and his second consecutive start with less than 15 outs. The difference is that, in his last start, he only threw 4.2IP, but in 68 pitches. He needed 104 pitches to get his 13 outs tonight.

*The rookie pitchers had a rough night tonight, with Henry Villar allowing 1H/2BB, 2ER in 0.1IP, and newStro Enerio Del Rosario allowing 4H/3ER in 1IP.

*Big props go to Wesley Wright, who struck out three of the four batters he faced, in his first Major-League action since the fateful August 8 start, where he allowed 7ER in 2.1IP.

*Lots of pitching mistakes tonight. Thirteen hits against, four walks, two HBPs, a wild pitch, and a balk. Astros pitchers threw first-pitch strikes to 27 of 46 Reds batters.

*The Reds swung and missed on 20 of 190 pitches tonight.

*The three homers the Astros allowed tonight were the most since July 24 - against the Reds. At home. The Astros have now allowed homers in nine consecutive games.

*Jim Edmonds hit his first homer since August 18, and his second while with the Reds. It's his 31st homer against the Astros in his career.

*On offense, Carlos Lee hit his 23rd homer of the year. While that puts him one behind Hunter Pence for the team lead, he takes over the RBI lead at 86.

*If Lee or Pence don't reach 100 RBI, it'll be the first time since 1995 that the Astros don't have a player with triple-digit RBIs.

*Lee had his first three-hit game since August 3, the 18-4 win against St. Louis, aka, One of the Best Days Ever.

*This is the 38th game of the year that the Astros have been held to six hits or less.

*In 12.2IP, Bronson Arroyo has held the Astros to 10H/3ER, 12K:4BB in 2010. In his career, Arroyo only has 10+ wins against one team: the Astros.

*Chris Johnson had two hits tonight, and is now hitting .318 - easily the team leader in batting average. He's eight points behind Keppinger for the lead in OBP, and is leading the team in SLG by 20 points over Pence.

*Michael Bourn had your other hit, meaning, he has a 25-game on-base streak.

*Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (1x4) - 18 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence (0x3, BB) - 12 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Carlos Lee.

*Goat of the Game: Nelson Figueroa.

In Review: Greeneville Astros

Let's have a look at the Greeneville Astros!

The Greeneville Astros finished the season 31-35, tied for third in the Appalachian League West, 11GB of Johnson City.

Home: 17-18
Away: 14-17

The average age of the Gastros' batters was 20.8, right at the App League average. The pitching staff's average age was a tick lower at 20.6, while the App League pitchers' average is 20.9.

Runs: 297 (7th out of 10), 4.50 per game
Doubles: 111 (8th)
Triples: 23 (4th)
Homers: 53 (3rd)
Stolen Bases: 62 (4th) - 26 caught stealing - 70.5% SB rate
Strikeouts: 589 (2nd-most)
Walks: 171 (7th)

Batting Average: .251 (6th)
OBP: .316 (7th)
SLG: .394 (5th)
OPS: .710 (6th)

Runs allowed/game: 5.50 (8th)
ERA: 4.56 (10th)
WHIP: 1.44 (10th)
Strikeouts: 459 (10th)
Walks: 162 (4th) - 2.83 K:BB ratio
Wild Pitches: 65 (8th)

Fielding Errors: 97 (5th)
Fielding Percentage: .962 (5th)
Passed Balls: 11 (2nd)
Bases Stolen Against: 52
Caught Stealing: 32 (6th)
Caught Stealing %: 38% (8th)

Team Leaders:
Runs: Jonathan Merritt (34)
Hits: Telvin Nash and Chris Wallace (53)
Doubles: Jhonny Medrano and Emilio King (13)
Triples: Jonathan Merritt (7)
Homers: Telvin Nash (12)
RBI: Telvin Nash (39)
Total Bases: Telvin Nash (103)
Strikeouts (most): Emilio King (65)
Walks: Jonathan Merritt (31)
Stolen Bases: Jonathan Merritt (12)

Avg (100 AB minimum): Chris Wallace (.313)
OBP: Marcus Nidiffer (.393)
SLG: Marcus Nidiffer (.588)

IP: Euris Quezada (63.1)
Wins: Ruben Alaniz (6)
Losses: Ricardo Batista (5)
ERA (10IP min.): Garrett Bullock (1.26)
WHIP (10IP min.): Vincent Velasquez (0.99)
Strikeouts: Ruben Alaniz (42)
Walks (by starter): Ruben Alaniz (10 walks, 57.2IP)

Offensive Employee of the Year: We know that Telvin Nash was the Team MVP, and even though he played in nine fewer games, I think we need to give it to Marcus Nidiffer. The undrafted free agent put up a higher Avg/OBP/SLG than Nash, with one fewer homer, and 15 fewer RBI, striking out fewer times.

Pitcher of the Year: Garrett Bullock. He threw the most IPs of pitchers who didn't start a game, and his ERA was the lowest by over 2.5 runs/9 than a starter.

Triple-A manager an extension of Mills

McTaggart has a good pre-game Notes column today (as always), and we get a glimpse of what the Astros are looking for in their new Triple-A manager.

"I was in very close contact with the manager and tried to do everything he did, and that's one of the reasons the Triple-A manager and the coaching staff stays at the Major League level in Spring Training with the Major League staff for so long, so they can take a look and see how they're teaching."

Mills said it's important for the Triple-A players to instill tactics, such as running routes or throwing to the cutoff man, like the players would be prepared to do at the Major League level, regardless of the dimensions of the Minor League park.

Also, players who are hitting in the thick of the order in Triple-A might have a future in the Major Leagues hitting lower in the order, making it important that they learn how to hit behind runners, be adept at hit-and-runs and be able to bunt.

Lineup for G148: Astros v. Reds

McTaggart has your lineup for G148: Astros v. Reds.

1. Bourn - CF
2. Sanchez - SS
3. Pence - RF
4. Lee - LF
5. Keppinger - 2B
6. Wallace - 1B
7. Johnson - 3B
8. Castro - C
9. Figueroa - P

Note Keppinger's appearance back in the #5 spot, as well as Johnson getting slid slided slidden slode flipped with Wallace.

This concludes the GCL Astros portion of "In Review"

We have now concluded the In Review portion for the GCL Astros, approximately 10 weeks earlier than in 2009. It was important to us to finish this before the 2:30 football games started. Depending on the quality of this afternoon's/evening's games, we may get started on the Greeneville Astros. Or we could wait until tomorrow.

This would be a good time for you, dear reader, to tell us what you liked/didn't like about the In Review series to this point.

GCL Astros: Matison Smith

Matison Smith
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agnet, signed June 2010
Stats: 6'0", 185 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 22

2010 Overview


What happened?

Smith was a workhorse for Lamar University - where his 117.1IP ranks third on Lamar's single-season leaderboard.

He led the team in ERA with 1.59, which ranked 4th in the GCL among pitchers throwing in 15+ games. Smith was just an all-around effective reliever for the GCL, allowing earned runs in just two of his last ten appearances.

What went right?

Limiting runs. Smith gave up just six earned runs in 34IP, with a low number of walks, and BAA.

Runners on. The more clutch the situation, the better Smith responded. He allowed a .317 BAA with the bases empty, but just .183 w/runners on, and .180 w/RISP. This also includes a 0.86 WHIP w/runners on, and 0.93 WHIP r/RISP.

What went wrong?

Five of his six walks did come with runners on, and four were with runners in scoring position.

Not much else to complain about with Smith's 2010 season. Given his age (as with Paul's), I'd like to see him in Lexington to face older competition and see what he's made of.

GCL Astros: Francis Ramirez

Francis Ramirez
How did he get here?: Signed as free agent, November 2008
Stats: 6'5", 205 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 19

2010 Overview


Career (2009)


What happened?

Ramirez started ten games for the GCL Astros in 2010, and had the 2nd-lowest WHIP of GCL Astros starters with 10+ starts. He improved his strikeout rate, while reducing - slightly - his walk rate in his first domestic season. He also threw the lowest number of innings among starters with 10+ starts, averaging just under 4IP per start.

What went right?

Pitching against righties. Though 15 of his 18 walks came against RHBs, he held them to a .254 average, with 31H/13ER in 30IP, striking out 32 righties. His ERA against lefties? 6.52.

June and July. He posted a 2.74 ERA/0.96 WHIP in his first five starts of the season - 23IP.

What went wrong?

August. In his final five starts of the season, Ramirez posted a 7.02 ERA/1.98 WHIP. This is interesting, because he fared fairly poorly once he surpassed his 2009 IPs of 29.2.

Eleven of Ramirez' walks came with the bases empty, but batters only hit .203 against him (.312 w/runners on; .333 w/RISP).

Flyballs. Ramirez had a 0.84 GB/FB ratio in his ten starts - and only had a right-side-up ratio in July, when it was 1.55.

Ramirez is a big guy, so I'm guessing he goes to Greeneville next year, in his 19-year old season.

GCL Astros: Jose Perdomo

Jose Perdomo
How did he get here?: Signed prior to 2009 season
Stats: 6'0", 180 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 19

2010 Overview


Career (2009)


What happened?

This was something of a breakout performance for Perdomo, who responded with a brilliant 2010. He led the team in IP, Wins, WHIP, and Strikeouts, culminating in the highest of honors: Astros County's GCL Pitcher of the Year. (Also, he was a GCL Postseason All-Star.)

His 69 strikeouts were the second-highest in the entire GCL (a 4.0 K/9 increase over 2009), and the 5th-lowest WHIP of any pitcher throwing more than 40IP.

What went right?

Obviously the strikeouts went right. He struck out 1.19 righty batters/inning and 1.07 lefty batters/inning this season. Perdomo also posted a 1.19 ERA/0.95 WHIP against RHB.

Limiting hits. Perdomo only allowed batters to hit .172 all season long, and was consistent throughout the season (.125 in one June game, .173 in July, and .178 in August).

Pitching on the road. Perdomo did well in five home starts, but blew it up in six road starts, posting a 0.55 ERA/0.82 WHIP on the road.

What went wrong?

Uh. Nothing really went wrong, I guess. Eleven of his 20 walks came with runners on base. That's all I can really find.

Perdomo will probably head to Greeneville, given how young he is, but he is a front-runner for Astros County's Eddie's Farm Pitcher of the Year, as unwieldy as the title of that award may be.

GCL Astros: Dieudone Paul

Dieudone Paul
How did he get here?: Signed prior to 2009 season
Stats: 6'2", 187 lbs, Throws: Left
Age as of April 1, 2011: 23

2010 Overview


Career (2007-09)


What happened?

The Astros are Paul's third team in four seasons, having come to the Astros' DSL team from the Yankees in 2007 and the Blue Jays in 2008. You can see that his 2010 was exceptional, as his two seasons with Houston have been much better than his years in the DSL.

In 2010, Paul appeared strictly as a reliever, throwing the fewest number of innings since his rookie year in 2007. His WHIP increased from 1.12 in 2009 to 1.31 in 2010, but we can cut him some slack seeing as how this is his first season in a domestic league.

He appeared in some extra-long relief throughout 2010. Seven of his last ten appearances were 6+ out appearances, and three of his last five were of 4IP or more.

Paul is the lone Haitian-born prospect in the Astros organization and, thankfully, both Paul and his family were unharmed in January's massive earthquake.

What went right?

Innings. Paul was an innings-eater, one out behind Matison Smith for the most innings pitched by a (primary) reliever, and the most innings of any pitcher who didn't start a game, despite only throwing in 13 games.

Strikeouts. Paul was one of two pitchers who threw 20+ innings with more strikeouts than IP. He has been a 10+K/9 pitcher for most of his career - or at least close to it - and he struck out 34 righties (in 31IP) and five lefties (in 2.2IP).

August. In four August games (13IP), Paul allowed 8H/2ER, with 18K:1BB.

What went wrong?

Not a whole lot. If we're picking anything, it'll be that eight of his 15 walks on the season came with runners in scoring position.

July. In seven July appearances, Paul allowed 15H/4ER, with 12K:11BB, but had a GB/FB ratio under 1.00 for the only month of the season (0.56).

Paul is fairly old for the team - a year and a half older than the league average for pitchers, two and a half years older than the GCL Astros' average. I would like to see him head to Lexington, seeing as how he's spent three years in pro ball, and would be a little more age-appropriate.

GCL Astros: Luis Ordosgoitti

Luis Ordosgoitti
How did he get here?: Signed prior to 2010 season
Stats: 6'4", 180 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 18

2010 Overview


What happened?

Ordosgoitti is one to keep an eye on, even after only five starts in the GCL. Signed as an international free agent back in 2009, Ordosgoitti went straight to the GCL, skipping the DSL (probably because he's from Venezeula, anyway). Ordosgoitti was 0-1 on the year.

What went right?

We kind of hate doing these due to the sample size, but it at least puts him in the archive. However, home games were a major positive, and it's where he made four of his five starts, compiling a 2.29 ERA on 27H/7ER, 15K:4BB.

His first two starts. In 9.2IP to begin his pro career, Ordosgoitti allowed 12H/1ER, with 8K:2BB.

What went wrong?

Bases empty. Ordosgoitti's WHIP with runners on: 1.38. WHIP with the bases empty: 1.64. Four of his five walks and his one homer came with the bases empty. Obviously, it's much more preferable to do this with the bases empty than with runners on.

He didn't pitch after July 18 - and we can't find why. If it was on purpose, and they're easing him in, that's fine. It doesn't look like he was injured.

Ordosgoitti will be 18 when the season ends next year (Late September birthday), so Greeneville is a likely destination for him in 2011.

And now your obligatory Roy Oswalt quote

After every Oswalt start, he gets a chance to tell the Philly media how much fun it is to play for the Phillies. This morning is no different.

"I almost feel like a rookie again. This is my 10th year. Sometimes you get in a rut with a team. We weren't winning in Houston since the Series. Coming here makes you feel like it puts you right back into your rookie season."

Mills is good at communicating

Which, as we all know, is something of a departure from the Coop years. But Richard Justice pours it on thick for Mills.

"I want them to know they're in my thoughts. It's not easy sometimes. There are some guys it's hard to approach because they haven't played in three or four days. Yesterday, I had to talk to Wesley Wright. I like Wesley an awful lot and think he has a chance to have a real good major league career. But I haven't gotten him in a game for two weeks. I'm very cognizant of that fact, and it wears on me.

I said, 'Wesley, I want to let you know I haven't forgotten about you. I'm concerned about the fact you haven't thrown. And I'm asking you to make sure you're getting in your throwing in the bullpen. That's important. Don't think I've forgotten about you or don't care about you or that you're not in our plans either now or in years to come. You are in our plans. I'm trying to show you how much of a concern it is because I'm talking to you about it.' If I ignored that situation, it wouldn't be fair to him."

This is an incredible story.

Even in the worst of times this season he never lost confidence the Astros were doing the right thing and that by doing the right thing there would be a reward. Now they're finishing fast and optimistic about the future, and in the clubhouse their manager has passed every test.

Marlins reliever has a funny way of complimenting us

Marlins reliever Brian Sanches thinks that finishing with a winning record is a good thing:

"The Astros are doing it now. They were terrible to start with. They made some moves and are going with their young players. Now they have one of the best records in the second half."

Half of Major League Baseball went to watch Barret Loux.

And the Astros were one of them.

According to Mark Berman, the other teams in attendance in College Station were the Dodgers, Twins, Marlins, Reds, Yankees, Pirates, A's, Brewers, Mets, Angels, Blue Jays, Royals, and Cardinals.

The Diamondbacks weren't.

Bobby Heck:
"We were there because our interest is genuine. We had Rusty Pendergrass, our South Texas area scout up at Texas A&M (Friday) to watch Barret Loux throw an extended bullpen. He showed all four pitches, very consistent with what we saw this past spring in the multiple outings...

..."We will continue to do our due diligence and compile our reports. Obviously we are going to have to weigh the physical work against some of the medical stuff, but at the end of the day if you have a chance to add that type of talent, I think we need to play it out to the end. "

What's the timeline for Loux?
"They would like to have something in place by the end of the semester so he knows his landing spot for spring training."

From the Office of the County Clerk - G147: Astros v. Reds

If you had Angel Sanchez in your "Who's Going to Get the First Earned Runs off Aroldis Chapman" pool, you're a winner! So are the Astros 5-3.

*We get started with Wandy Rodriguez, who pitched moderately well, and threw one no good, terrible, horrible pitch to Jonny Gomes. Wandy's final line: 6IP, 3H/3ER, 10K:6BB.

*The start runs Wandy's own streak of 18+ outs to 16 games.

*It's Wandy's second straight double-digit K day, and his third in his last six starts. From his July 6 start against Pittsburgh through last night, Wandy's K:BB ratio is 103:26, and he has a 2.10 ERA in those 14 starts.

*But the six walks are the most Wandy has allowed since August 15, 2008 against Arizona - and he managed to achieve that in 2.1IP.

*Of the 108 homers Wandy has allowed, Jonny Gomes' 6th-inning homer was only the 9th three-run shot he has allowed.

*Of the six walks that Wandy allowed, only one ended up scoring. But four of them included four straight balls, one of them after Wandy was up 0-2, and three walked when Wandy was ahead.

*Matt Lindstrom struck again - needing 20 pitches to get three outs, walking one and allowing a hit, after getting two outs. Since his return from the DL, Lindstrom has needed 112 pitches to get 21 outs.

*Here's a wild stat for you: The Astros got nine hits last night. Three of them came courtesy of Michael Bourn, and three came from a pinch-hitter (Keppinger), a pinch-runner/defensive replacement (Bourgeois), and the pitcher (Wandy). Johnson-Wallace-Downs-Castro (5-8 in the lineup) went 0x12, 4K:1BB.

*It was the 7th inning where the Astros broke it open against Aroldis Chapman, whose each and every pitch is highlighted by ESPN. In his first eight appearances (7.2IP), Chapman had allowed 4H/1R (0ER), 11K:2BB, and a .160/.222/.160 slash line against. Yeah, no extra-base hits. So it makes it all the more unlikely that Keppinger would open with a single, Anderson Hernandez would walk, Bourn reached on a bunt single, and Angel Sanchez singled to bring the game-winning runs.

*Of the Astros' nine hits, six were singles, and three were infield singles. The Astros did get doubles out of Wandy and Bourgeois, and Carlos Lee hit his 22nd homer of the season. It's his third homer in September, and Lee has seven hits in his last five games.

*The win gives the Astros their fourth straight month with double-digit wins (10-5 in September). Their 10th win in September so far matches the total number of wins in the entire month of September 2009 (10-17).

*Pitch Count Hero: Brett Wallace (0x3, BB) - 20 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Michael Bourn (3x4) - 12 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Going with Bourn here, who got on base three times, and was 2x2 w/RISP. From August 1 through today, Bourn has a .378 OBP, and a .438 OBP in September.

*Goat of the Game: Can't decide. Despite the quality start, does it go to Wandy, who walked six batters? You make the call.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marcus Nidiffer: Bluegrassbaseball's Rookie of the Year

Here's an award for Marcus Nidiffer, from his home state.

Jumbotron brings together a lady and a Vietnam Vet

Cool story in the Katy Times about the Jumbotron, a lady, and a Vietnam Vet at Minute Maid Park.

Live Chat!

Oh you like winning do you? Don't get used to it.

So says Baseball Prospectus (Insider Only):

Assuming that Ed Wade cannot make a huge splash in what will be a fairly thin free-agent market, further rebuilding efforts will have to come from within, and there's just not enough talent on hand to make it work. If its good luck fades, Houston's 2011 will more closely resemble the first two months of 2010 than the last four.

Live Chat!

Join Astros County right here at 3:00pm Central for a Live Chat. We will talk about anything and everything for exactly one hour - it doesn't even have to be about the Astros. Maybe 75 minutes.

Approximately 5% of Hill Country baseball fans are upset about this Round Rock situation

Other than not seeing the pitcher hit, anyway. The Austin American-Statesman has the story.

Reid Ryan:
Two things you will see are starting pitchers going longer in games and young players moving through the system quickly...Fans around here have a relationship with Nolan. A lot of people want to be part of what Nolan is doing. You forget that he is the most famous Texas baseball player, probably him and Roger (Clemens)...

...I have received maybe five e-mails from people who are upset about the change. I've probably received 100 from people who are fired up."

First of all, yeah, the Astros don't move guys through the system quickly. That's why Jason Castro is still in the GCL, six years after being drafted. That's why Jordan Lyles is actually selling hotdogs at Pioneer Park.

Second of all, no, I don't think anybody forgets that Nolan Ryan is Texas' most famous baseball player. I love Nolan Ryan. Why Drayton doesn't is beyond me.

Third of all, it's totally understandable that general baseball fans in the Round Rock area would be excited about the Rangers coming to town. It makes perfect sense for the Rangers to take over the Express. There's no problem there. We all know the Astros' farm system was terrible, but it's getting better. The very nature of baseball is a competition, and the Rangers and Astros are the only Major League action for about 800 miles, so I get it. But for the Ryans to come in acting like they're liberating central Texas from the hands of the Axis of Baseball Evil is a touch insulting.

Chris Johnson: More to come

Brad Mills had some praise for Chris Johnson, whom Levine notes would be on pace for about 20HR over the course of a full season:

"Because he is so young and his major league career is young, I definitely think there's more in there. In saying that, I'm not trying to put more pressure on the guy that all he has to do is hit home runs. Just continue to grow and get better.

Interestingly enough, by moving into the 5th spot in the lineup, that lineup spot has become the position with the 2nd-highest OPS. #5 hitters (mainly Chris Johnson, though there have been others, obviously) are hitting .260/.313/.417, second only to the #3-hole (.279/.351/.475).

Our lovely #4 spot - you know of whom I speak - is providing a .230/.282/.388 line, worst in the NL Central.

More love for Arnsberg

Brad Arnsberg has been getting a lot of love latelyThis time, it's from Zach Levine.

As the offense remains in the league's bottom half in most offensive categories since the All-Star break, this one starts with pitching. And pitching starts with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg. And Brad Arnsberg starts, well, early in the morning.

Bud Norris:
"The guy's here every day 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning doing scouting reports on every team, and we have such an in-depth scouting report before the game."

"I know that they know how much time I've put into my scouting and all the reports are out in the bullpen, and more of them are kind of checking, so that would be a small entity to why this group has caught on fire."

He prepares scouting reports for hitters coming from lefties and righties and is a little bit more liberal with the use of the change-up than most by-the-book pitching coaches, wanting it thrown as a weapon against some same-handed hitters.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wherefore art Thou (Next Year), Puma?

Jayson Stark's new Rumblings and Grumblings column addresses where Lance might play next year:

One Old Friend:
"What he wanted to have happen was to go have a two- or three-month intermission in New York and then go back to Houston. But I don't see that happening. So I don't even know if he'll be playing next year, unless Nolan [Ryan] thinks he's a fit in Texas. I don't think he wants to venture too far from Texas, to be honest. So I don't know. I don't think money will be a major issue. It would have to be the right fit. So he may just pull the plug."

We know the three teams he told the Astros he'd go to before the trading deadline were the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Ed Wade is buttering up Oklahoma City

Zach Levine has some reaction from Ed Wade regarding the Triple-A sized hole he needs to fill in the minors.

Our desire is to be in Oklahoma City. We've had some conversations with them and we'll have to see where it goes."

Of course it is. No way Pawtucket and Boston end their relationship, and I can't imagine that Las Vegas is a more attractive option than Oklahoma City. No one wants to see on the transactions list: "Matt Kata placed on 7-Day Disabled List (Chlamydia)." There's hookers everywhere. Nope, no thanks, Las Vegas.

In other good news, Levine says the ValleyCats are expected to remain the Astros' NYPL affiliate.

Joe Torre is impressed with the Astros

There's an AP article today about the Astros' 2nd-half, and how they've impressed LA Manager Joe Torre:

"It's a lot tougher to do nowadays because with the icons or favorite players, you know there's going to be criticism when those guys leave. So it's not an easy decision to make to cut the ties. You still love them and all that stuff, but with them you haven't gotten better. So you have to see how you can get better. I think it's taken a lot of courage for them to do this. I admire what they're doing. It's something that I think has to be done."

Profile on Brian Bogusevic

Brian Bogusevic's hometown paper has a nice little profile on Bogusevic.

Bogusevic's mom:
“We’re obviously very excited that Brian is where he’s at, but we try to keep it in perspective. It’s a job for him; a very hard job. We’re very proud — he’s worked very hard to achieve this dream of his.”

Bogusevic, on choosing between pitching and playing outfield (even before he was drafted):
“Going into the draft, I was kind of 50-50 on which way I wanted to go and which way teams saw me going. When the organization came to me and said that they were thinking about [changing positions] also, I was all about it.”

Nolan is excited about having two teams to play with

So it's official. The Round Rock Express are the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, rendering 89 posts (make that 90, after this one) obsolete and useless.

Nolan Ryan:
"We're happy to bring the Express and the Round Rock community into the Rangers family. Things are headed in the right direction in Arlington, and the relationship with our minor league affiliates is a big part of that. Having our two highest affiliates in Texas is a positive."

Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine:
"The Rangers are excited about the new relationship with Round Rock, the Ryan family, and all the great people with the Express. Our scouting and player development staffs have done an outstanding job at providing young talent to the Rangers organization. We look forward to having those players continue their journey to the big leagues at The Dell Diamond."

Astros acquire Enerio Del Rosario

In a certainly unexpected move, the Astros have acquired Cincinnati reliever Enerio Del Rosario for cash considerations. Oswaldo Navarro has been removed from the 40-Man roster to make room for Del Rosario, who will be with the team for tomorrow's game.

Del Rosario will be 25 in October, and pitched in nine games for the Reds this season, for a 2.08 ERA/1.96 WHIP, logging 8.2IP, 13H/2ER, 3K:4BB.

He has spent most of 2010 with the Reds' Triple-A team in Louisville, posting a 3.09 ERA/1.22 WHIP, with 34K:17BB in 64IP - also allowing seven homers.

Del Rosario, a side-arm pitcher with a "nasty sinker," was DFA'ed by the Reds earlier this week to make room for Willie Bloomquist.

Dusty Baker, on Del Rosario, in Spring Training 2010:
"He's impressed me. You wouldn't know it's his first time in big league camp. He fields his position well. I talked to some guys about him and they said he calls infielders off. He's such a great fielder. He keeps the ball down, runs it in on them. There's always a place on a team, sooner or later, for a guy with a good natural sinker."

Del Rosario:
"I threw much better and I feel much better from the side than overhand. I was throwing too straight and the hitters got me pretty good. From the side, I got more sink and more movement."

Double-A Pitching Coach Tom Brown:
"There is not a finer person anywhere than Ernie. He's one of the nicest, hardest-working, best people you'll ever have. As a coach, it's a pleasure to be around guys like that."

GCL Astros: Jeremiah Meiners

Jeremiah Meiners
How did he get here?: Drafted, 2010 (40th Round)
Stats: 6'0", 200 lbs, Throws: Left
Age as of April 1, 2011: 22

2010 Overview


What happened?

Meiners was drafted out of Francis Marion University with their 40th Round pick and assigned the lefty to the GCL, where he just got hit hard. His FIP - according to was 3.38 (before his last 2IP) - and he suffered from a .412 BABIP.

This mainly comes from a terrible first three games. More on that below.

What went right?

His last 13 appearances. We'll get to the first three, but in July and August, he compiled a 3.04 ERA/1.11 WHIP with 17K:6BB.

Home games. In seven games at home (11IP), Meiners allowed just two earned runs, with 10K:2BB, and a .175 BAA.

What went wrong?

The first three games. In three June games, Meiners allowed ten earned runs in 1.1IP for a robust 67.50 ERA. In his debut on June 23, he allowed six earned without recording an out. Then he allowed 1ER in 1IP on June 25, and finished up June with 3ER in 0.1IP. When you're dealing with 22IP, a terrible 1.1IP will skew the numbers in a bad way.

Away games. Despite his good home splits, Meiners went 11IP, 21H/15ER, 9K:6BB on the road, for a 12.27 ERA/2.45 WHIP.

Given how strong he finished up the season, I would give Meiners another shot in Greeneville in 2011. He's a lefty reliever, but he'll be 23 next season, so it may be his last chance.

Moehler wants to pitch for a playoff team

The possibility of playing on a team going to the post-season is what's driving Brian Moehler.

"The only thing that drives me is making the playoffs," he said. "If I had a ring on my finger, I don't know if I'd play next year, but I've never been to the playoffs. I'd be open to coming back here, because I don't think this team is all that far away at all.

"A lot of the main pieces are in place for this team to be very successful next year. That's something I would be open to. I want to go to the playoffs."


Norris only misses when he wants to miss

In Zach Levine's Notes Column we find that Bud Norris only misses on his pitches when he wants to miss, whereas previously, he missed because he had no idea where the ball was going.

"Bud's getting it figured out. The first half of the season, 70 percent of his misses were from the thigh level on up, and (Tuesday) you saw him spike 3-4 fastballs in front of the plate. He's not missing up unless he wants to miss up. He's pelting down, down, down...

...His stuff dictates that he has a chance if he really truly puts the whole package, he could absolutely be a three, two or one hole starter on a first division club."

Milwaukee renews PDC with Nashville

So bad news for The Constable, as Milwaukee and Nashville extended their PDC through 2012 yesterday.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin:
“Frank Ward and his ownership group have provided our Nashville club with a number of our baseball-needed requests and the Brewers hope a new stadium is in the future plans. We appreciate the fans who have supported both the Sounds and the Brewers players who have earned their way to Milwaukee.”

This leaves Las Vegas and Oklahoma City as the only two Triple-A franchises without a daddy, and the Blue Jays and Astros with the empty nest.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G146: Astros v. Brewers

It's hard to know what to think of this game, what to take personally, and what to just chalk up to the ebb and flow of baseball. Astros lose 8-6 in ten innings.

*The Astros are now 7-6 in extra-inning games. But they're 2-4 in extra-inning games since August.

*Things got rough right from the top of the 1st for J.A. Happ. Happ went 4.1IP, 7H/5ER, 5K:2BB, 2HR. In addition to the 2HR he allowed, he also gave up three doubles - two to Corey Haim Hart and one to Rickie Weeks.

*That's Happ's worst start since the August 4 game against the Cardinals, where he allowed seven runs to 12 batters, getting three outs.

*Happ had given up five homers in 12 starts coming into G146. That's now seven homers, and four of those have come in his last three starts. Three of those four homers have been to center (or left-center), and the other one has gone to left. All of those four have been over 400-foot homers.

*Happ's first four batters were as such: Homer, Ground-rule double, Homer, Walk.

*So with the off-day on Thursday, the bullpen got opened up. Brad Mills used eight relievers for the second time in five games (also eight relievers on Sept 11, the 11-inning loss to the Dodgers).

*Notable among these were Henry Villar's 2H/0ER outing to clean up Happ's 5th inning, Felipe Paulino's return (15 pitches, three outs, 1K:1BB, no runs). And then we get to Lyon and Lindstrom.

*Brandon Lyon came in for the top of the 9th with the Astros up 6-5. Rickie Weeks struck out swinging, Corey Hart hit yet another ground-rule double, Ryan Braun doubled him in, tying the game. Fielder and McGehee got out to send the game to the bottom of the 9th.

*In his last four games, Lyon has thown 3IP, allowing 4H/4ER, 2K:1BB. Coming into last night, his OPS-against was .958. So yeah, that's going to go up.

*And then Matt Lindstrom came in for the 10th. Carlos Gomez reached on a bunt single, then stole second, and got to third thanks to Castro's throwing error. Mat Gamel continued the Ground-Rule Double party, and then got to third on Lindstrom's wild pitch. He came in on Jonathan Lucroy's single. And that was Lindstrom's day: 3H/2ER, no outs. To be fair, two of the hits were singles - one a bunt single.

*Anyhow, the manner in which the Astros sent it to extra-innings was pretty incredible, as well. The Astros had only scored six runs in an inning once this season, and that's exactly what they did in the 5th inning. Dave Bush had been rolling - he was perfect through four innings. Carlos Lee led off with a single, Chris Johnson singled, Brett Wallace was safe on an error, and Angel Sanchez reached on an infield single. Four batters, four baserunners. Jason Castro walked to load the bases (now 5-2 MIL). Brian Bogusevic singled to center to get his first two Major League RBIs (5-4 MIL), and Bourn grounded into a fielder's choice, stealing second one batter later. Keppinger singled to left to score Castro as the tying run, and that was Bush's day.

*Let's recap: Astros against Bush through four innings: 0x12. Astros in the 5th against Bush: 5x6, BB, ROE.

*Pence singled to center to score Bourn, and Lee - in his second AB of the inning - GIDPd to end the inning. That held up until Lyon and Lindstrom came in to dry-hump it to the loss.

*Amazingly, the Astros scored six runs on six hits - all singles. It's the 35th time the Astros have scored 6+ runs in a game (as opposed to "in a week," like in April), they're now 27-8. However, it's the first time they've scored 6+ runs without any extra-base hits.

*Hunter Pence's RBI was his 85th, extending his career-high, previously 83 (2008). His 93Ks put him on pace to have his lowest K/game rate of his career (0.66, as opposed to 0.68 in 2009, and 0.79 in 2008).

*Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (0x4, BB) - 27 pitches in five PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Brett Wallace (0x4) - 11 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Seeing as how this was a team effort, the offense gets the Man of the Match, collectively.

*Goat of the Game: And continuing this hokey theme, the pitching staff gets the goat. Except Felipe Paulino - good to have you back.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lineup for G146: Astros v. Brewers

The Astros try to climb within four games of .500 this afternoon against the Brewers, giving them yet another sweep over an NL Central team. McTaggart has your lineup:

1. Bourn - CF
2. Keppinger - 2B
3. Pence - RF
4. Lee - LF
5. Johnson - 3B
6. Wallace - 1B
7. Sanchez - SS
8. Castro - C
9. Happ - P

Arguello named Pitcher of the Year

And while we're dishing out congratulatory remarks, we owe a big one to Corpus' Douglas Arguello, who was named the team Pitcher of the Year yesterday.

Arguello, 25, tied Astros top prospect Jordan Lyles for the team lead in victories with seven. His 2.55 ERA led the Texas League. Arguello's two complete games topped the Hooks staff. He struck out 100 over 127 innings (22 starts) and issued 47 walks. Only four hitters popped home runs with Arguello on the mound, an average of one round-tripper every 32 innings.

Also receiving awards were Corpus' Omni Marina Hotel for Best Visiting Team Hotel, and clubhouse manager Brad Starr, voted by umpires as the Best Officials' Dressing Room.

Greeneville Astros lead Appalachian League in attendance. Again.

Congratulations go to the Greeneville Astros, who led the Appalachian League in attendance for the seventh straight year.

47,321 fans came to Pioneer Park, for an average of 1,392 fans per game.

Pankovits finally finishes first

Here's an interesting article from the Albany Times-Union's Mark McGuire, on the silver-medalled manager, Jim Pankovits:

“I was on the Little League World Series team that in 1968 finished second to Japan.

“I played on a senior league for 13- and 14-year-olds, (a) team that finished second in the World Series. It was (to) a team from California.

“In the American Legion, we went to the World Series. We didn’t finish second. We lost two games out there.

“And College World Series. Second place. Texas beat us when I was at South Carolina.”

He was also on the 1986 Houston Astros that lost to the New York Mets in 16 innings in Game 6 of the NLCS, with the unbeatable Mike Scott slated to go Game 7. He’s always been close, won his share of division titles as a manager, but this is the first time he’s been with a ballclub that closed the deal.

And now for some reaction to the ValleyCats' championship

Manager Jim Pankovits:
“I’m speechless right now. I can’t say enough about this pitching staff. They all rose to the occasion. It’s just a phenomenal feeling right now. This is what it’s all about...

...“I was sweating. No doubt about it. That’s an unbelievable ballclub over there. We earned it.”

Carlos Quevedo:
“I never gave up. This is the best game of my life and my career.”

Enrique Hernandez:
"This is the greatest; awesome."

Ben Orloff:
"This is awesome. Can't ask for better. Any individual award you may win doesn't compare with a championship...I don't think we were picturing this right here. Amazing!"

Brooklyn manager Wally Backman:
“My guys were overwhelmed — and we didn’t look prepared. Like we were improvising out there. So, yeah, I’m pissed. But they’ve got to learn this [losing] feeling themselves...

...“I would have liked to see more ‘rah-rah-rah’ out the guys, more standing on the top step than sitting on the bench. The bottom line is that we were outpitched.”

Arnsberg a major reason why Myers signed that extension

I'm sure the $20m+ didn't hurt, but in Richard Justice's heart-warming tale of Brett Myers - who gets called a "bulldog," "throwback," and "old school" - Myers credits the presence of Brad Arnsberg as a major reason why Myers signed the multi-year deal in July.

"I didn't want to leave Arnie as much as he has done for me. He has had my back, let me be who I am and teach me stuff at the same time. It would be tough to leave him. I don't ever think I'd have the success I'm having now without him.“

We bet Norris doesn't feel too good this morning

Bud Norris took a liner off the shin on the first pitch of the game.

“Going from where our hearts started pumping when he took that ball off the shin and thinking that we were going to really have to piece this one together, to come back and give us those innings that he did, that was pretty special."

Norris, who can now be described as a "gamer:"
“At first I thought it was pretty bad. I really needed to walk around on it and make it feel a little bit better. The adrenaline definitely helped out.”

Bogusevic needs to shave his foot

Brian Bogusevic will need off-season surgery to shave down a bone spur in his right foot.

"From what I know, it's not supposed to be that big of a deal. There's a little thing on the outside [of the foot] that sticks out and hurts sometimes, but it's not that big of a deal."

Tri-City wins NYPL Championship

For the first time in franchise history, the Tri-City ValleyCats are New York-Penn League champions, after a 5-1 win over Brooklyn in Game Two of the best-of-three series.

Carlos Quevedo was the hero, throwing 7IP, 3H/1ER, 7K:1BB for the win.

The scoring got started in the 3rd inning. Mike Kvasnicka singled to leadoff the inning, Nidiffer sac bunted him over to second, and Enrique Hernandez singled to right to bring in Kvasnicka.

But two straight Brooklyn doubles in the bottom half of the inning tied it up at 1-1, and it was almost more, but Brooklyn's J.B. Brown was thrown out at home trying to score on Ben Orloff's throwing error by Marcus Nidiffer.

Tri-City added two in the 5th when Kvasnicka doubled and scored on Orloff's single, who later scored on Hernandez' single. The ValleyCats put it away in the 7th when Adam Bailey hit a two-run, two-out double, scoring Hernandez and Austin Wates.

So, on the night, Enrique Hernandez was 3x4 (BB, 2RBI), and Mike Kvasnicka was 3x4 (2B). Ben Orloff was 2x5 with an RBI and two errors. Quevedo finished the season with eight walks in 85.1IP. Jorge De Leon threw a perfect 8th, and Mike Ness closed it out with 2H/0ER in 1IP.

Congratulations to the ValleyCats.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G145 - Astros v. Brewers

Chris Johnson does it again, and the Astros win 3-2.

*The Brewers took an early 1-0 lead, thanks to Ryan Braun's homer to the Crawford Boxes. It was the 17th homer Norris has allowed - a team high - and was the 4th 1st inning homer off Norris.

*But after that, he was cruising. Norris only gave up three hits in his 7.1IP, but walked five batters. It's a season-high in walks, and he has walked 3+ batters in five straight starts.

*In his last two starts, Norris has thrown 13.1IP, 6H/2ER, 14K:9BB.

*Of Norris' five walks, four of them were leadoff walks. Norris had only walked 10 leadoff batters all season long. None of those four leadoff walks came around to score.

*So, on to the 9th, where the Astros have a 3-1 lead (we'll get to those three in a minute). Brandon Lyon comes in for the save, and promptly gives up a leadoff homer to Casey McGehee on a 2-1 pitch. It was the 2nd homer that Lyon has given up all season, and his first since April 10 - a span of 294 batters.

*And now we get to the offense. It won't take long, really. In the first inning, with Michael Bourn on second and Keppinger on first, Chris Johnson came up with two outs. And deposited Chris Capuano's 2-1 pitch 415 away for his 9th homer of the year.

*It's Johnson's third homer in seven games, and his second 3-run homer in a week. Like his last three-run homer on September 9th, he provided all the runs in a 3-2 win over their opponent.

*Johnson also added a double for his third multi-XBH hit game of the year. He also had a 2B/HR game against Milwaukee back on July 30. And in 38ABs against the Brewers, Johnson is hitting .447 with five doubles and two homers for a .737 SLG.

*Jeff Keppinger was also 2x4, meaning that, in nine PAs against the Brewers in these two games, Keppinger has been on base seven times.

*Still, despite the win, the Astros were 2x13 w/RISP. Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee were a combined 0x5. Only Angel Sanchez and the aforementioned Chris Johnson got hits w/RISP. The Astros are hitting .251 w/RISP.

*Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (0x3, BB) - 20 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee (1x4) - eight pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Gotta give it to Chris Johnson!

*Goat of the Game: Lee. 0x3 w/RISP and left five men on base.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jason Grey, on Brett Wallace

ESPN's Jason Grey has been the Astros' Man at the WWL lately, and he chimes in on Brett Wallace. (Once again, it's an Insider-only, so we'll be really selective in what we pull).

It's kind of off and on. Some days, I go up there super-aggressive and I want to hit the first pitch if it's in the strike zone, and some days I want to see pitches," said Wallace. "I think the biggest thing is you have to understand you can't be one way or the other. You put yourself in holes that way. In the same sense, you have to be able to hit that first pitch, but you also have to be disciplined too, and say to yourself, 'I'm looking for this pitch early or this location early,' and if it's there, you need to hit it hard. If not, you work the count deeper. If the pitcher flips the 'get-me-over curveball' early in the count, you have to take advantage of it. You can't say 'Oh, I was going to work deeper in the count.'

"For me, that's been the adjustment: Learning when the good situations to attack and when the situations are you need to see more pitches and give your team a quality at-bat by working deeper."

I'm still pretty high on Wallace over the long haul, and still see him as a guy who can hit .300 with 20 homers.

Lineup for G145: Astros v. Brewers

Brian McTaggart has your lineup for tonight's game against Milwaukee:

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

McTaggart has an interesting note on the Astros:
(They are) 25-14 in 39 games in which they've started against a left-handed pitcher.

So it makes total sense not to put Bogusevic in LF, seeing as how he had a .319/.392/.459 line in 135 ABs against LHPs in Round Rock.

Hooray for days off!

Earlier today we shared a story with you that some players might not be able to go home and have their mom do their laundry, thanks to the generally crap weather in Brooklyn to play out Games Two and Three (if necessary) of the NYPL Championship.

That has since been fixed, as any ValleyCat attending the Instructional League will get an extra four days off. Cheering ensued.

And in other news you already knew...

Round Rock will be the Rangers' new Triple-A affiliate.

The move will leave the Astros searching for a Triple-A affiliate, and it appears the Astros may be headed to Nashville.

The group that owns Frisco now owns Oklahoma City

This is interesting. Baseball America is tweeting that the Oklahoma City Redhawks (or is it RedHawks?) have a press conference for tomorrow to announce that the team has been sold to Mandalay Baseball - who also owns the Texas League Frisco Roughriders.

Mandalay Baseball, with its partner (maybe you've heard of them), the New York Yankees are interested in purchasing the Scranton-Wilkes Barre franchise (also Triple-A), from Lackawanna County. But the Lackawanna County Commissioner wouldn't sell, unless there was an assurance that Triple-A baseball would remain in the area. (It's complicated.) This transpired on Sunday. Yankees president Randy Levine committed the Yankees to SWB last Saturday, so it's not like Oklahoma City will be the new Yankees franchise.

Mandalay also owns the Dayton Dragons (Reds Single-A), the Erie Seawolves (Detroit Double-A), the Hagerstown Suns (Nationals Single-A), and the Staten Island Yankees (NYY Single-A).

However, a week earlier, SWB officials expressed friction with how Mandalay did things:
"We've been tracking the attendance numbers and we're not happy," majority county Commissioner Corey O'Brien said. "It's a concern we have and we've shared that concern with Mandalay."

"I don't think any of the commissioners are happy with how Mandalay is running the operations," added minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak.

Majority Commissioner Mike Washo said the commissioners don't think it's all Mandalay's fault, "but the problem is pretty vexing."

The strategy works elsewhere, said Barry Gibson, executive vice president of ticketing for Mandalay.

"In any market, when we have issues or things aren't working, we don't sit idly by, we are very proactive," Mr. Gibson said.

Mandalay has thrived in other markets. The Dayton Dragons, an Ohio Class-A team - lower than Triple-A - owned by Mandalay, has sold out its stadium for 774 consecutive games with an average attendance of 8,539, an 11-year stint that will break a Minor League Baseball record in 2011 with its 815th game. The Frisco Roughriders, a Texas Double-A team the company owns, has had the highest attendance of any double-A franchise for seven consecutive seasons and had a average attendance of 7,886 this year.

So...lots to look forward to, Oklahoma City!

GCL Astros: Mark Jones

Mark Jones
How did he get here?: Drafted, 2009 (22nd Round)
Stats: 6'7", 205 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 20

2010 Overview




What happened?

Jones had a rough 2009, getting converted from a starter to a reliever midway through the season (11.37 ERA as a starter; 1.76 ERA as a reliever). 2010 saw him improve on quite a few of his statistics in a full season back as a starter.

Jones made ten starts for the GCL Astros, and in typical GCL fashion, didn't last long enough to get much in the way of decisions. Still, he finished with a 2-2 record - with one win coming in a 3IP relief appearance.

What went right?

Home Games. In four appearances at home, he posted 2.81 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. Still, his away splits weren't terrible either. In seven road starts, he posted a 4.45 ERA/1.76 WHIP. While you may not be impressed, keep in mind that in 2009, his away line (in 7.2IP) was 8.22 ERA/2.09 WHIP.

The first two-thirds of his season. In seven appearances in June and July, Jones allowed just nine earned runs in 32.2IP.

Facing lefties. Lefties hit just .186 against Jones in 2010.

What went wrong?

Walks. After his first start, where he struck out six and walked two in 5IP, he went the rest of the way with 25K:27BB. And he walked 12 batters with runners in scoring position, so that's obviously going to need to stop.

Keeping the bases empty. When the bases were empty, he didn't allow any runs, but they didn't stay empty long - 23 reached by hit, 13 by walk.

While Jones' walk rate is remarkably consistent (5.4 BB/9 in both seasons), he did show improvement, getting more groundballs (1.62 in 2010, as opposed to 1.55 in 2009) and lowering his BAA (.314 to .290).

He's a big guy, and just turned 20 at the end of August, so given his relative youth, I'm thinking Greeneville is a likely destination for him to see what he can do against a little bit older competition.

GCL Astros: Evan Grills

Evan Grills
How did he get here?: Drafted, 2010 (10th Round)
Stats: 6'4", 205 lbs, Throws: Left
Age as of April 1, 2011: 18

2010 Overview


What happened?

This is a fairly pointless exercise, what with having four starts to discuss, but there are a few notes to bring up. First of all, Grills didn't pitch that much mainly because he was with Team Canada for their Under-18 National Team. Grills does have a little bit of an injury history, with biceps tendinitis in 2009, and then he ended up not pitching for Team Canada for an unspecified injury. Regardless, those factors probably contributed to Grills' limited use in 2010.

What went right?

The fact that he signed in the first place. Andy Seiler had him going in the 4th-7th round range, and the Astros got him with a $150,000 signing bonus.

Under Armour said about Grills:
Grills, a tall, thin LHP with great upside, is the top Canadian prospect in the 2010 class. His delivery is low effort and his arm action is clean resulting in a high 80s fastball, plus curveball and deceptive change. He is a poised and mature young pitcher who has future front of the rotation ability.

That repertoire contributed to his 15K in 12.1IP.

What went wrong?

Again, it's pointless. But he allowed ten of his 12 earned runs over two starts (Aug 17 and Aug 29).

He's a big, young lefty. So there's not much to complain about here. Keep an eye on that injury, and we'll see what happens in 2010.

Just a reminder: Oswalt and Berkman are going to the playoffs's Bryan Hoch has an article today talking about veterans who are in the playoff hunt for the first time, or at least the first time in a long time.

"I feel like I've got a new life...I've been out of playoff contention for about five years. Now, I'm on the verge of trying to get back in. These guys [the Phillies] have been there two years [in a row] and they've got a ring; I don't. Hopefully I can push them to get another one."

"I'm 34 and not necessarily ancient, but definitely getting on toward more yesterdays than tomorrows in the game. You start to see your window of opportunity to win and feel the rush of the playoffs close. Where we were with Houston, it seemed like we were at least two or three years away from getting back to that level. There's a definite difference."

Myers is saving everybody's job!

We've already talked about how effective Myers is with Quintero behind the plate. Now, Myers is all about Arnsberg:

"I had heard good things about Arnie. We have a mutual friend that made it a lot easier for me to come over. He said, 'Listen to this guy and I've trusted in this guy for my whole career basically,' and I came in with an open mind. I was ready for whatever he had to tell me and it just kind of went from there...

...It hasn't really been any mechanical issues. More than anything, it's been executing pitches and giving me a good plan to go out there and execute and know what I can and can't do. It's been easier because he works harder than any pitching coach I've been around my entire career. I know when he does the work that he does, it's pretty much the gospel. Just go do it, go execute it."


McTaggart also has a further note on Bourn's steals, and where that puts him in relation to the Astros' top franchise base-stealers:

Bourn stole his 50th base of the season in the first inning of Monday's series opener against the Brewers, making him just the second Astros player to steal at least 50 bases in consecutive seasons. Bourn, who stole 61 bases in 2009, joins Cesar Cedeno, who swiped at least 50 in six consecutive seasons (1972-77).

If Kyle Drabek turns into a Big Deal, he has Biggio and Bagwell to thank

Nice profile on Blue Jays call-up Kyle Drabek in the Toronto Star this morning, who discusses growing up in a baseball family.

“Being out there with all those guys, it was a lot of fun just seeing what they do. Not so much inside the clubhouse, but having the opportunity to talk to other players other than my dad. . . . Like, with the Astros, guys like Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, talking to them helped so much as I grew up and got drafted.”

Weather preventing the ValleyCats from seeing their families

An interesting note was brought up by Albany Times-Union reporter Bryan Fitzgerald on the schedule for some Astros prospects after two straight postponements in the NYPL Championship:

Most of the players, many of whom are away from home for an extended period of time for the first time, figured they'd be home with their family and friends by now.

Instead, 10 of the ValleyCats may have to report directly to the Florida instructional league once the season ends.

Chris Wallace:
"It's frustrating, but there's nothing we can do about it."

Telvin Nash:
"We're all kind of upset. But Mother Nature, she has another thing for us though. I always grew up in a big family. When you play baseball, you have to miss out on all the dinners and events and stuff. If you want to make it to the big leagues, that's what you gotta go through."

Chris Wallace is tougher than I am.

Zach Levine has an excellent article on Tri-City catcher (and Houston native) Chris Wallace.

Tri-City manager Jim Pankovits:
"He's been a huge addition helping our pitchers down the stretch, which is the single most important reason why we're where we're at. He's way ahead of the curve as far as his game-calling and his rapport with the pitching staff."

Recounting his incident with Barret Loux, in which Loux broke Wallace's sinus cavity, cheekbone, and eye socket, Wallace missed a month. One month.
"For the four weeks I had to sit at home doing nothing, I was sitting there wondering if I was going to play again. But in the back of my mind, I just knew I had to stay mentally tough about it and not let it get to me and affect me. ...Some days it was really tough to be positive, but I just tried to be really positive about it."

To put this in perspective. I broke my big toe kicking a chair in glee after the United States beat Algeria in June, and haven't got on the treadmill since. Chris Wallace is tougher than I am.

K-State fan is outraged at you, Astros Fan

How dare you!

This summer I had the chance to visit three different ballparks. Each time I went to an MLB game, I saw fan fouls. I had to sit through nine innings of watching the drunk guy in front of me at the Mets-Astros game make out with his girlfriend. To make it worse, it was a home game for the Astros and this guy was wearing an Eli Manning jersey. Nice try, but wrong sport. I get it if you love New York, but at least drop $20 at Wal-Mart and pick up a Mets jersey.

God help you, drunk, horny Astros fan! We have Kansas State fans to impress. Apparently.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G144: Astros v. Brewers

There are certain things we can count on: (1) Brett Myers will get 18 outs. (2) The Astros will do everything they can to get the bullpen a win. Luckily, Myers stayed in just long enough to get the decision. Astros win 4-2.

*The Brewers are now 0-4 at Minute Maid Park this season. And the Astros are 17-9 at home (and 33-22 overall) since the All-Star Break.

*Using the magic of Pythagoras, we see that the Astros have the largest positive margin of actual W-L and expected W-L. Logic, and Keith Law, will tell you that, given the runs scored/runs allowed, the Astros should be 61-83. Yet they're 69-75. The Pirates have a +6, the Royals have a +5. The Cardinals have a -6 margin.

*Brett Myers threw another 18+ outs, extending his streak to 30 starts. He won't reach Curt Schilling's 2002 streak of 18+ out games to 35 this season, but we'll pick it up next season, yes?

*Myers threw 7IP, 6H/1ER, 10K:1BB. Since the beginning of July, Myers has thrown 97.2IP, 78H/22ER, 85K:20BB, 2.03 ERA/1.00 WHIP.

*The Astros are 18-12 in Myers' 30 starts.

*Mark Melancon's hitless streak ended at 21 batters, and his scoreless streak ran to eight games before giving up an earned run in the 8th - though Henry Villar actually gave up the hit that scored Ryan Braun, whom Melancon walked to leadoff the 8th.

*Fernando Abad came in for the 9th to face Lorenzo Cain, who doubled, and Matt Lindstrom got all three outs in the 9th for his 23rd save. It's Lindstrom's first save since July 16 and his first 9th inning work since going on the DL on August 16.

*This game was tied going into the 7th for just the 18th time this season, (they've had the lead going into the 7th 53 times, and been behind 73 times). After their three-run 7th, the Astros are now 9-9 when beginning the 7th inning tied.

*Michael Bourn continued his tear with a 2x4 night, and also stole his 50th base of the year. Bourn has stolen 40+ bases in three straight seasons. His 111 stolen bases in a two-year span are the most since Biggio stole 97 bases in 1997-98.

*Jeff Keppinger was 2x2 with three walks, his second 3BB game of the year, but it's the first time this season he's been on base five times in a game, and his OPS rose 12 points (.740 to .752).

*Brett Wallace, with his 1x3, BB night, has seen his slash line rise from .207/.309/.244 to .227/.315/.327 in September alone. His walk was intentional - in the 7th (we'll get to that). But Brett Wallace has walked seven times in his young career. Three of those have been intentional.

*Carlos Lee was 2x4, for his second multi-hit game in a row, and his third of the month.

*The Astros broke the game open in the 7th (as previously mentioned) after Geoff Blum's pinch-hit lead-off single to right. Bourgeois ran for him, and Bourn's sac bunt got him to 2nd. Jeff Keppinger walked, and Carlos Lee brought Bourgeois home with a single. Chris Johnson followed that up with an RBI single, and Brandon Kintzler intentionally walked Brett Wallace to get to Tommy Manzella. Starting with an 0-1 count, Kintzler then walked Manzella - scoring Carlos Lee - for the 4th run of the game.

*How you walk a batter with a .523 OPS with the bases loaded, especially with Quintero on deck - who himself has a .572 OPS - is beyond me.

*Pitch Count Hero: Hunter Pence (0x4) - 20 pitches in five PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Humberto Quintero (0x4) - 11 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Going with Brett Myers here.

*Goat of the Game: How about Hunter Pence? 0x4 on the night, 0x3 w/RISP, and ended two innings - one by GIDP.

Monday, September 13, 2010

ValleyCats game postponed (again)

The Tri-City ValleyCats game was postponed for the second straight evening, this time due to field conditions following significant rain. With luck, the ValleyCats will resume their New York-Penn League Championship series with the Brooklyn Cycles on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Game 3 will be played on Thursday if necessary.

Lineup: Astros v. Brewers

Zach Levine has your lineup for tonight's game against the Brewers:

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

Good to see Johnson back (ha ha) in the lineup after missing two games with soreness, and we also see Quintero taking his place as Myers' personal catcher.

Hardball Talk's Power Rankings

For a long time, I totally ignored the Power Rankings. They didn't mean anything. I didn't care if the Astros were ranked in relation to the Orioles. Today I got curious. So when I checked out Hardball Talk's weekly Power Rankings, I was taken aback:

Dodgers (17)/Astros (19):
The mood among Dodgers fans is impossibly grim right now. The mood among Astros fans is pretty damn good. Easy to forget, then, that the Dodgers are almost certain to play much better than they are right now next year and the Astros to play much worse.

Now I'm just going to set back and let you go.

Astros' organizational philosophy

Interesting note in Levine's blog today regarding the Astros' approach towards Eddie's Farm (referencing the ValleyCats' playoff run):

Despite the team accomplishment, the Astros' philosophy is still looking at the minors as primarily an individual enterprise. Develop a few players a year to be big league-ready, which has been accomplished with widely varying degrees of success lately, and the player development system has for the most part done its job, wins and losses aside.

What say you?

GCL Astros: Pedro Gomez

Pedro Gomez
How did he get here?: Signed as undrafted free agent prior to 2008 season
Stats: 6'3", 204 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 19

2010 Overview


Previous Years (2008)


What happened?

Pedro Gomez - who is virtually unsearchable, thanks to the Barry Bonds Enthusiast from ESPN - came back after missing 2009, presumably with an injury. He showed promise in his first professional season in the VSL in 2008, and bounced back to pitch in 2010.

I know what you're thinking, looking at his numbers and thinking, "Great. Another pitcher with a WHIP almost over 2.00." But hold on, friends. It's not as bad as it looks, because he was pretty damn unlucky.

First of all, he posted an FIP of 3.08, largely due to a .433 BABIP. Over 30+ innings, that's pretty unlucky. He also got 46.2% of his in-plays by groundball, 10% by line drive, and 39.2% by flyball. The low-ish line drive rate means that a lot of his in-play balls found a hole.

What went right?

Improvement over 2008. Gomez actually largely kept the ball in the park, giving up one homer in 2010. That's down from six homers allowed in 2008, before the injury.

Walks. While his BB/9 rate did increase in 2010 (from 1.5 in '08 to 2.3 in '10), they're still pretty good - with Gomez walking eight batters in 169 batters faced.

What went wrong?

July. Gomez allowed 25H/14ER in 10.2IP in July, but batters were hitting .446 off of him.

RISP. In 12.1IP, Gomez allowed 20 hits. That, and the six walks, combined to score 35 unearned runs, and 22 earned runs.

FIP. We've already talked about how unlucky Gomez was. So given the fact that he is coming off an injury (we suppose) and will still be 19 in April 2011, he still has a chance in the organization - particularly given his size.

GCL Astros: Rafael Feliz

Rafael Feliz
How did he get here?: Signed as undrafted free agent prior to 2008 season
Stats: 6'0", 180 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 21

2010 Overview


Previous Years (2008-09)


What happened?

Well, if a train is heading east at 60mph, and Rafael Feliz is pitching, how long before they crash? 2010 was just a train wreck of a season for Feliz. Not only did he give up over an earned run per inning, but it's not like he was particularly unlucky - with an FIP of 7.72 to go along with it.

What went right?

Well, if we're going to pick something, it's going to be away games. He pitched in seven games on the road, for 11IP, and posted a 5.73 ERA/1.55 WHIP - walking eight.

What went wrong?

Just about everything else, but when he wasn't walking batters (an average of 1.36 per inning pitched) he was giving up fly balls and line drives. He only got 38.2% of his in-play balls on the ground, with 14.5% line drives, and 36.4% fly balls. So he didn't hit the strike zone often, but when he did, the ball was crushed.

Feliz may be the first pitcher I've seen with a BB/9 and Hits/9 ratio over 10.0.

Berkman would return to Houston

In Kirk Bohls' column yesterday, he has a little note on Lance Berkman:

Lance Berkman told me Sunday he'd be open to returning to the Astros if they were so inclined, even though they have their first baseman of the future in Brett Wallace. "Sure, I would. No question," said the Texan, who has been reduced to a part-timer with the Yankees and plays only against right-handers.

I wouldn't bet on it happening.

He prefers the National League to the bombs-away American League. "To me, baseball is designed to be played the way it is in the National League," he said. "The AL is more offense, more RBI chances, more baserunners."

Agree, or disagree?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

ValleyCats rained out

Game 2 of the ValleyCats championship series with the Brooklyn Cyclones has been postponed due to rain. Game 2 has been rescheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. (Eastern). The ValleyCats lead the best of 3 game series 1-0. Game 3 will be held on Tuesday night if necessary.

Paulino to be activated - Johnson held out

Hey! Felipe Paulino will be activated from the 60-Day DL.

Though Paulino was exclusively a starter before the injury, his return will be as a reliever. It also will be unusual in the sense that he cannot be called on with short notice. Rather, the appearances will be scheduled before the games like in spring training, and if the situation dictates that he cannot be used, he'll throw his daily work in the bullpen.


You may have noticed that Chris Johnson wasn't in the lineup last night, as he is dealing with some back soreness. How bad is it, Mills?
"It doesn't seem to be too bad. It sounded like he probably could have gone, but after talking to him and the trainers, we thought it would be best not to."

Theriot and Carroll are boosting the Houston economy

Nice little story on about the Dodgers' Ryan Theriot and Jamey Carroll's gift to call-ups John Lindsey and Russell Mitchell:

On Friday morning, veterans Ryan Theriot and Jamey Carroll took the team's two first-time September call-ups, John Lindsey and Russell Mitchell, to the mall's Nieman Marcus store and bought them each a suit.

"They told us when we got to Houston, they were going to wake us up one morning and take us to get a big league suit," said Lindsey, adding that he wasn't sure what differentiated a big league suit from a minor league one. "It was unbelievable, just such a nice thing for them to do."

John Sickels' Favorite HS pitchers

John Sickels has a good post recapping his favorite high school pitchers of 2010, and two in Eddie's Farm are on the list:

Mike Foltynewicz:
I usually root for the cold-weather high school guys, especially if they are from the Midwest, and Folty is no exception. For some reason I tend to like high school pitchers from Illinois, first Michael Bowden, then Jake Odorizzi, than Tanner Bushue, and now Folty.

Vincent Velasquez:
Did well in his pro debut, 3.07 ERA with 25/5 K/BB in 29 innings in the Appy League. Another good athlete with projectability, has some health problems in his past with a stress fracture in the elbow, but I do find him intriguing.

Recap: NYPL Championship - G1

Tri-City is one win away from the NYPL Championship after their 5-2 win over Brooklyn at The Joe last night.

David Martinez got the start for the ValleyCats, throwing 5IP, 3H/2ER, 3K:3BB. He allowed both runs in the top of the first, after Cory Vaughn homered to right-center, scoring J.B. Brown. And then he calmed down, getting the next six batter before walking Brown and Vaughn in the third. But it was the top of the 4th before he allowed another hit.

In the bottom of the 3rd, Ben Orloff drew a leadoff walk, Austin Wates doubled him in, Adam Bailey singled to right, scoring Wates. Chris Wallace drew a walk, and scored on Brown's error. Dan Adamson got an RBI groundout to finish off the four-run 3rd inning that essentially ended the game.

Brooklyn threatened in the 4th: William Cherry got a leadoff single, and Juan Centeno walked. With one out, Cherry was caught stealing third base, and James Schroeder struck out to end the inning.

Marcus Nidiffer hit a two-out solo homer in the 6th to put the game away, 5-2.

Jason Chowning struck out three in 2IP of work, and Jorge DeLeon was perfect in the final 2IP.

Game Two is tonight at 5pm Eastern in Brooklyn's (beautiful) KeySpan Park.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G142: Astros v. Dodgers

There just may be a County Clerk Jinx, after what happened to Brandon Lyon. Dodgers win 6-3.

*The loss gives the Astros a two-game losing streak for the first time since August 20-21, when they dropped two at Florida.

*It's the first two-game losing streak at home since August 10-11 against Atlanta, when the bullpen blew two late games, and Brandon Lyon took his last loss.

*Lyon failed to record an out in an outing for the first time this season, and the first time since April 2, 2008, when he allowed 3H/3ER at Cincinnati.

*Lyon walked Trent Oeltjen, and Reed Johnson reached via bunt single. A.J Ellis sac'ed to third, but threw the ball away, scoring Oeltjen and Johnson and letting Ellis get all the way to 3rd. Tim Byrdak gave up Lyon's third run with a double to Loney that scored Ellis.

*In the last two games, Happ and Wandy have combined for 12IP, 12H/4ER, 14K:4BB. The bullpen has combined for 6IP, 7H/6R (5ER), 10K:3BB.

*The good news in the pitching staff is with Wandy Rodriguez. It's been a tale of two seasons with Wandy. In his first 14 starts of 2010: 75.1IP, 95H/51ER, 52K:34BB, .317/.389/.460 against, 6.09 ERA. In his last 15 starts: 101.1IP, 77H/23ER, 102K:22BB, .208/.258/.324 against, 2.04 ERA.

*Last night's game was Wandy's tenth straight quality start.

*Since the All-Star Break, Wandy has posted 77K:16BB.

*Since returning from the DL on September 1, Jeff Keppinger has gone 12x39, with a .308/.372/.333 line, with 1K:4BB in 44 PAs. His 2x4 night last night was his fourth multi-hit game in his last eight.

*Michael Bourn was 1x3 with a triple and a walk. That's a 21-game on-base streak, and in those 21 games, Bourn is hitting .359/.435/.500 (28x78).

*After hitting .400/.447/.771 in nine games from August 30 coming into this series with the Dodgers, Hunter Pence is 1x12 in these three games.

*This is hardly a surprise. Pence's .628 OPS against LAD is his lowest against an NL opponent (.614 in six games against the Yankees).

*Angel Sanchez isn't getting much playing time, but when he does, he's producing. Sanchez has started four games in September, has gone 6x18, including last night's 2x4 performance.

*Pitch Count Hero: Geoff Blum (0x3, BB) - 21 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Keppinger (2x4) - 13 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Wandy Rodriguez!

*Goat of the Game: Brandon Lyon. One error blew this game wide open.