Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Note on Today

Look, the County Clerk is at a cabin with his girlfriend and her parents. The Juvenile Court Clerk is at the Texas/OU game. And I'm a little burned out right now. There may be some updates later, but some time will be taken.

Rodriguez likely out for Sunday

Looks like Wandy won't be starting tomorrow, due to soreness in his back.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eddie's Farm MVPs

The Astros have named the following players as Minor League MVPs:

Round Rock: Drew Locke
Corpus: Koby Clemens (both were repeats from 2009)
Lancaster: Brandon Barnes
Lexington: Jake Goebbert
Tri-City: Ben Orloff
Greeneville: Telvin Nash
GCL Astros: Jose Perdomo
DSL Astros: Francisco Baso

Barret Loux is open for business

According to Yahoo's Kendall Rogers, Barret Loux will begin taking offers for his services today.

Five Tri-State Residents are douchebags

There is an incredible article in the Kentucky Post today over complains about how the Reds celebrated their first division championship since 1995:

Even though the majority of the Tri-State is still riding high after the Cincinnati Reds won the National League Central Division championship, a group of people are upset after some players were seen smoking cigars in the team's clubhouse.

The Cincinnati Health Department confirmed Thursday that five people called the statewide smoking ban complaint hotline and that the team will be investigated for violations of the state smoking ban.

So you know:
Justifiable homicide is the killing of one person by another that is committed without malice or criminal intent. When a person commits a justifiable homicide they are not guilty of a criminal offense. Homicide can be considered justifiable homicide if it is committed in self defense, the defense of others, while trying to prevent of serious crime, and in the line of duty.

Michaels needs three plate appearances to make $100,000

The Astros have an option with Jason Michaels for 2011: Exercise it, and pay him $900,000; or don't.

However, if Michaels gets three more plate appearances, there will be an automatic $100,000 buyout in place. Let's keep an eye on this weekend to see if Mills gets him in the game. The Astros will face three righties this weekend against the Cubs (Coleman/Zambrano/Dempster), dampening his chance of getting a start in LF when Carlos Lee plays 1B against lefties.

Post-season rules changes

There's a new timetable in place for free agency following the World Series.

1) Players will not have to file for free agency - they'll automatically be free agents.

2) Free agents can negotiate with teams five days after the end of the World Series - not 15 days, as was the case before.

3) Teams have until November 23 to offer arbitration to eligible players, and the players have until November 30 to accept or decline.

4) Teams have until December 2 to tender contracts to players - the previous deadline was December 11.

Beating the rest of the Reds' 40-man roster may have earned Figueroa a spot on the 2011 team

Felipe Paulino and Wesley Wright, you're on notice. Ed Wade says there's a decent chance Nelson Figueroa will be SP5 in 2011.

"I don't see any reason why we would walk past a guy like that. If at the end of the day he's our fifth starter, I don't have any problem with that being the case...

..."It's been a very pleasant surprise that he's been as consistent as he has been. There have been a couple of starts when he's given up a few runs, but by and large, he's kept us in every game he's pitched in."

Is that true? In his nine starts, Figueroa has left the game with the lead, or the game tied in five of those starts. When he has left the game with the opponent ahead, it's been a two-run deficit twice. So in only two of his nine starts, the Astros have been behind by 3+ runs. His opponents have been the Mets (twice), Reds (twice), Cardinals, Cubs, Nationals, Marlins, and Dodgers.

Mills and Myers react to G159

We get some reaction by the major players in the Myers Streak drama, courtesy of Brian McTaggart.

"When a guy is struggling with command like he is, there becomes a time. Had the time gone too far at that point? Maybe so, but he's our No. 1 pitcher, too. I think he deserves a chance to get out of some of those innings as well...

...It seemed like he was trying and battling through his command and working and he just couldn't get the command of the pitches. He was trying to get through as he went on. There have been games like that where he's struggled at the first part, but he's been able to lock it in and pick it back up for the rest of the game. It just didn't happen."

"The whole coaching staff has given me a chance to succeed and given me a chance to win ballgames and obviously the streak or whatever was all on them. They let me go out there and accomplish what I needed to accomplish and help the team win. Overall I felt like it was a pretty good year. It probably caught up with me towards the end."

Going into last night's start, Myers' OPS-against breakdown was as such:

1st inning: .725
2nd inning: .530
3rd inning: .706
4th inning: .725
5th inning: .634
6th inning: .640
7th inning: .694

1st time through the lineup: .639
2nd time through the lineup: .696
3rd time through the lineup: .656

Myers pulled, and the streak is over

So last night, in G159, Myers' remarkable streak of 32 starts of 6IP+ came to an end. The County Clerk is out for the recap, partially because he's a douche. Let's discuss Myers 33rd start of the year.

First of all, he got rocked, yes - but mainly in just two innings, the 5th/6th. From the 1st-4th innings, the Reds were 4x16, 4K:2BB, 2ER. And then the 5th came along. Brandon Phillips grounded out, Miguel Cairo and Joey Votto walked. Jonny Gomes singled, and Jay Bruce fouled out. At this point the bases are loaded, but with two outs. Drew Stubbs hit a two-run single, and Ryan Hanigan got an RBI single to make it a 5-1 game before Paul Janish flied out to left.

In the 6th, Bronson Arroyo led off the inning with a single and Brandon Phillips took him real deap. Three batters later, Jonny Gomes hit a homer to make it 8-1. And Myers' night was done, one out short of his 33rd consecutive start of 18+ outs.

So help me work through something, because I'm torn right down the middle about this:

Side A: Why would Mills pull Myers when he just needed one more out to keep the streak alive? Jay Bruce was coming up to bat, and he was 2x3 with two singles, sure, but the Astros were out of it. 8-1? Leave him in, and let him keep his streak. This season, I'd take a gassed Brett Myers over Gustavo Chacin.

Side B: Myers didn't pitch well, allowing three homers to the Reds (he allowed four homers against the Brewers on June 29, and this was his 4th multi-HR game of the season - all came on the road.). The 8ER are a season high, and the most he's allowed since September 19, 2008. He was also at 114 pitches, needing 50 pitches to get through the 5th and 6th innings. Pitching that poorly, he didn't exactly earn his 18 outs, and it's not a streak that is reminiscent of, say, Cal Ripken, Jr. So, streak's over, and rightly so.

What do you think? Should Mills have let him get that last out, or was he right to pull him?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ranking the Astros' first-year managers

So Brad Mills has done pretty well with the Astros this season, posting a 75-83 record with - obviously - four games left to play. How does this stack up against the Astros' other first (full) year managers?

Hal Lanier - 1986: 96-66, .593 Win%
Terry Collins - 1994: 66-49, .574
Phil Garner - 2005: 89-73, .549
Cecil Cooper - 2008: 86-75, .534
Art Howe - 1989: 86-76, .531
Bob Lillis - 1983: 85-77, .525
Larry Dierker - 1997: 84-78, .519
Jimy Williams - 2002: 84-78, .519
Leo Durocher - 1973: 82-80, .506
Preston Gomez - 1974: 81-81, .500
Harry Walker - 1969: 81-81, .500
Bill Virdon - 1976: 80-82, .494
Brad Mills - 2010: 75-83, .475
Grady Hatton - 1966: 72-90, .444
Lum Harris - 1965: 65-97, .401
Harry Craft - 1962: 64-96, .400

What exactly did we find out about Nelson Figueroa?

There's a glowing report from Brad Mills about Nelson Figueroa's short career in Houston:

“That veteran ability to know how to pitch was big, and that was probably the determining factor of putting him in the rotation. He’s done absolutely outstanding.”

Now, let's be clear here - no one is doubting that Figueroa has had a pretty good run in Houston in his 17 appearances (nine starts). He has thrown more IPs this season than in any other season since 2002. His 1.26 (cumulative) 2010 WHIP is lower than his 1.42 career WHIP. His K:BB ratio (2.17) is the second-best of his career (2.46 in 2009). Yep, it's all sunshine and rainbows.

But last night was hardly a statement game. The lineup the Reds sent out there wasn't exactly strong (and that's no knock on them - they won the division, they should be resting their starters). How strong? Willie Bloomquist was the Red with the most career ABs with 1871. The Reds sent out three players with fewer than 100 career ABs (Valaika - 34; Alonso - 23; Francisco - 68), and three more players with fewer than 600 ABs (Heisey - 195; Janish - 525; Miller - 498).

So when the most experienced guys in the lineup are Willie Bloomquist and Laynce Nix, let's take it for what it's worth. The take-away from last night is that we know Figueroa can beat a lineup with 2300 fewer career ABs - total - than Carlos Lee. He damn well better have held that lineup scoreless.

This season, Figueroa has a 2.43 ERA/1.23 WHIP against teams with a record of .500 or better, but 4.19 ERA/1.29 WHIP against teams with a losing record. Nope, let's not read too much into last night's start.

Manzella to explore the Caribbean this off-season

Brian McTaggart kindly tells us that Tommy Manzella will be playing in the Dominican this winter for Aguilas Cibaenas, beginning October 22.

"My main thing is that I missed some at-bats during the injury, and I'm looking forward to getting those 150 at-bats back and giving myself enough time to rest up and get stronger for next season."

And it wasn't exactly his idea:
"As a player, you like your offseason, because the whole season is a mental and physical grind. That's important to me, but I wasn't able to get as many at-bats as I would have liked, so it was the kind of thing the Astros brought up and asked me if I would be interested."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

From the Office of the County Clerk - G158: Astros @ Reds

You're damn right the Astros beat the Louisville Bats. Astros win 2-0.

*Only Johnny Cueto was a regular starter in the Reds' lineup tonight. Just so you know. So the rest of this point comes with an *.

*Nelson Figueroa threw a pretty decent line: 6.2IP, 6H/0ER, 5K:3BB.

*You have to keep in mind. Out of 158 games, the Astros had only lead going into the top of the 2nd 47 times.

*Figueroa allowed no earned runs in an outing for the first time as a starter for the Astros, and no earned runs since August 4, when he threw three scoreless IPs in an 8-4 loss to the Cardinals, in innings 2-4.

*Figueroa's Game Score tonight was 62. This is the highest Game Score for Figueroa since his 3rd start for the Astros - August 27.

*The bullpen only allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 2.1IP.

*Brandon Lyon got his 20th save of the season. Even as recently as 2007, the Astros didn't have one player with 20 saves, nevermind two players with 20 saves. The last time the Astros had two players with 20+ saves was - correct me if I'm wrong - never. The Astros never have had two players with 20+ saves.

*Out of the 140 pitches the Reds saw tonight - they only swung and missed eight times.

*Carlos Lee busted out with a 3x4 night, with a run scored and an RBI. The Astros only got two extra-base hits on the night - doubles from Lee and Keppinger.

*Hey, who was the only player in the lineup hitting over .300? Chris Johnson, of course, who went 1x4 to lower his average to .315.

*Pitch Count Hero: Hunter Pence (0x4) - 22 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee (3x4) - eight pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Carlos Lee.

*Goat of the Game: Hunter Pence - 0x4 and two inning-ending ABs.

Great article on Chris Johnson

Boom. Here's a great article on Chris Johnson at

Greeneville Astros: Ruben Alaniz

Ruben Alaniz
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent, signed August 2009
Stats: 6'4", 175 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 19
Birthplace/Hometown: La Joya, TX
Men of the Match: 5

2010 Overview


What happened?

Alaniz signed with the Astros in August 2009 after graduating from Juarez-Lincoln High School in La Joya, Texas. Scout Rusty Pendergrass thinks Alaniz can develop into a Major-League starter, and reported to the GCL Astros in August, but did not pitch in 2009.

He led the Gastros in wins (6), strikeouts (42), and fewest walks by a starter (10). His four losses came in successive starts (July 17/22 and Aug 1/8), but he only allowed 2ER in his last 17.2IP.

What went right?

Throwing at lefties. Even though LHBs hit him for a higher average (.303), Alaniz held LHBs to 7ER, for a 2.66 ERA, as opposed to 5.29 against RHBs. He also allowed five homers in 2010 - all to RHBs.

Road games. Alaniz' ERA was over half a run lower on the road than at home (3.94, as opposed to 4.50), and he got a right-side-up GB/FB ratio of 1.31, against 0.72 at home.

August. In five August starts, Alaniz allowed 9ER - 4ER in one start against Johnson City - and posted a 1.09 WHIP. He also only walked three batters in 28.1 August IP.

What went wrong?

July. Alaniz lost his way a little bit in his 3rd-7th starts, allowing 18ER in 19.1IP with 30H/6BB. This was affected by a 2.2IP, 12H/10ER start at Bluefield. So let's take it for what it is.

Runners on. With the bases empty, Alaniz allowed a .252 BAA, and a 1.23 WHIP. With runners on, that jumped to a .323 BAA, four of the five homers, and a 1.40 WHIP.

Appy Astros says:
Alaniz's adjusted ERA being over one point lower than his actual tells me he was also a victim of a bad outing. Alaniz should and could make the jump to Lexington but I suspect he might wind up in Tri Cities due to lack of spots.

Can't argue with that. As long as he keeps that walk rate low, and the ball on the ground, he should be able to go pretty far.

Congratulations to Vic Christopher

Congratulations are due to Vic Christopher, former ValleyCats Assistant GM who was recently let go under BS circumstances. Vic has a new job as Economic Development Director for the city of Troy, NY.

He will retain his Honorary Citizenship in Astros County.

Astros sign international LHP

Ben Badler of Baseball America is reporting the Astros have signed 6'1" 170 lb 16-year old LHP Geronimo Franzua for $250,000.

DPL Baseball says of Franzua:
He comes from a 3/4 arm angle, clean arm swing and does it easy. He hides the ball well in his delivery making his 88-90 mph FB jump on hitters. On ocassion he has touched 92 mph as well as showing a feel for CB and CH. Franzua was considered one of the top available LH pitchers in the D.P.L.

Franzua is the 4th Dominican Prospect League player the Astros have signed in the last six months, joining Kelvin Vizcaino, Michael Feliz, and Ariel Ovando.

Minor League Awards

It wasn't exactly tough to identify, but the Astros have named their top players in Eddie's Farm: Jordan Lyles, and J.D. Martinez.

"Jordan and J.D. have both moved through the system at a rapid pace and seem destined to reach the big leagues in the not-too-distant future. Not only are they talented players, but they're solid-makeup, exceptionally-dedicated kids."

GCL Astros manager Omar Lopez was named Player Development Man of the Year.

Velasquez: No Worries, No Cry

Vincent Velasquez is looking forward to getting this Tommy John surgery behind him, because that means, from this point forward, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Apparently.

"Every pitcher has a setback, every player has a setback at some point in their lives. Everybody goes through it. I'm not worried because I still have a lot of years of development. I'm sure when I come back after the Tommy John surgery I'll be stronger than my ability, and I won't be worried because I know that since I've been through Tommy John, I've got nothing else to worry about."

Update on Bourn's condition

In Zach Levine's Notes column we read that Michel Bourn probably won't bat again in the final five games, but he could come back to pinch-run.

"I might be able to get back in the game to run. I don't think I'm going to swing the bat because I haven't swung one. If I swing it four times a game it might irritate (the injury). And I've got to take (batting practice) and do all that first."

Our question: Why in the world would the Astros even let him try to get garbage time at the end of the season coming off a moderately-serious injury? Ridiculous.

John Heffer: Honorary Citizen

Good for you, John Heffer.

From Cincinnati's Fountain Square:
And what was this we spied? We found a lone Astros fan, John Heffer, in-town for an elevator convention with his buddy, Gregg Hughes, who was wearing his Pittsburgh Pirates shirt.

Let's all find a wellspring of joy in the midst of the Cardinals' misery

B.J. Rains has your "WTF Went Wrong" article for Fox Sports Midwest, as the Cardinals suddenly realize that ESPN wasn't just going to hand them the NL Central. Let's get some reaction:

Brendan Ryan:
“It’s like a rainy day. I feel like a failure because I got a taste of the playoffs and I feel like we should have done better than that, bringing back pretty much the same core and it just didn’t happen. It’s sad. It’s depressing. It’s frustrating – probably more frustrating than anything. Hopefully we can rebuild and hopefully I’ll be back here next year.”

Former Astro Trever Miller:
“We’re all grotesquely disappointed. I know I am in the season I had. I was very mediocre this year and that’s my contribution to where we’re at. Everybody has to look at their season individually and understand that each element went into that. It wasn’t awful but obviously when you’re a team that’s supposed to go to the playoffs and possibly win a world series, it’s very disappointing.

“We’re going to have the entire offseason to go over everything and wonder what went wrong and what went right. Last year we were sitting around wondering what happened in the playoffs, so there’s no formula to figure this out. It’s baseball. We didn’t play well enough against teams we should have beaten. That’s pretty much it.”

There's no word on Brendan Ryan's condition after Chris Carpenter raged in the Cardinals' clubhouse and, together with LaRussa and McGwire, slowly circled Brendan Ryan, meleed him, and began to eat his heart shortly before media was hurriedly escorted from the clubhouse.

Brad Mills sees the silver lining

Brad Mills has some encouraging words for his young team regarding the pleasure of watching the Reds dance around like it's Lord of the Flies in front of them:

"There's no doubt. Any time you experience something like this and go through it, you become better off for it. You'd like to be on the other side of it, but at the same time it's good for these guys to go through it and learn to go through it like they did."

"You never want to see that. We wanted to come in here and win all three of these games and force them to win a game against somebody else. You never want to see that. You want to be in the playoff race. That's why you play this game, to go out there and win. It does [stink] today."

"It was a great atmosphere and the fans were loud. The biggest thing for us is it can serve as motivation. We want to play in games like that when we're at home with an opportunity to clinch. It's one of those things -- we'll keep our heads down and keep playing hard. We played well the whole time and they got a big hit at the end. It just shows us what we're capable of and what we can play for."

I envision the Astros' rookies working out in a dank weight room, wearing a German swimsuit, crying while lifting weights, and looking at the Cincinnati Enquirer's front page taped to the ceiling. Trust me, I don't want to envision it. But I do.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G157: Astros @ Reds

Tim Byrdak was given the keys to the City of Cincinnati after serving up his NL Central-clinching pancake/beachball to Jay Bruce. Astros lose 3-2 on a walkoff homer by Jay Bruce.

*The loss is the Astros' 6th in their last seven games. Before this road trip, the Astros had lost seven games from August 29 to September 18.

*That drops the Astros to 4-9 against the Reds, and 1-3 at Great American this season.

*And once again, the Astros had the lead in this game, racking up their 42nd blown lead, and their fourth walk-off loss, of the season.

*Wandy threw a good game yet again, with the bullpen blowing his chance to push his record to 12-12. Final line: 6IP, 4H/2ER, 8K:4BB.

*In his final two starts against the Reds, Wandy allowed 7H/5ER, 18K:10BB - all in 12IP. But the big problem for Wandy - and what prevented him from running deeper in the game - was that 6th inning. Let's look at the pitch count, by inning:

1st: 21 (H, 2BB)
2nd: 9 (2K, HBP)
3rd: 18 (3K)
4th: 18 (2K, BB)
5th: 8 (K)
6th: 34

*The Reds got the bases loaded with 0 outs thanks to two singles and a Scott Rolen walk. A ten-pitch AB went Wandy's way when Jonny Go-Hawk fouled out. Brandon Phillips reached on an infield chopper, scoring Orlando Cabrera for the tying run. Jay Bruce ended the inning on a GIDP.

*Over the 2nd/3rd innings, Wandy struck out four batters in a row (Bruce, Hernandez, Volquez, and Stubbs). He got Bruce on four pitches, Hernandez on three, and Volquez on three - 3Ks, 10 pitches.

*In September, 40 of Wandy's 97 outs have come via strikeout.

*So Wilton Lopez (1IP), Fernando Abad (0.1IP), and Matt Lindstrom (0.2IP) allow two hits and we head to the bottom of the 9th tied at 2-2. Tim Byrdak comes in simply to face Jay Bruce. Bruce had been hitting .260/.337/.487 against lefties, but Byrdak had only allowed lefties to hit .203/.262/.324 with 1HR against him coming into that AB. So of course Jay Bruce took him to the deepest part of the ballpark. On the first pitch.

*Jay Bruce joins Ryan Doumit and Jason Giambi as the only players to hit two homers off Byrdak. Three of the four homers Byrdak allowed this season have come against Cincinnati - Jay Bruce took him deep on April 29. He had never allowed a walk-off homer in 342 games.

*Jason Bourgeois got his 8th straight start, and was 0x4 with a strikeout. He's hitting .200 (7x35) in those starts from the leadoff spot, with three walks.

*It was Brett Wallace who had your lone multi-hit game of the night, going 2x3 with a run scored. It's his second straight two-hit game, and he's 13x52 (.250) in September.

*Both your Astros' RBIs came at the bottom of the order - with Castro knocking in Wallace, and Wandy's sac to 3rd, scoring Angel Sanchez. Both runs came in the top of the 2nd inning.

*From the 3rd to the 9th innings, the Astros were 4x23, 8K:1BB, and the Reds got the final 10 Astros in order to end the game.

*Carlos Lee gave us his fourth 0-fer in his last five games. Since his eight-game hitting streak from Sept 12-20, Lee has three hits in his last 29 plate appearances.

*Chris Johnson committed two more errors, for his team-leading 17th error of the season. Manzella and Sanchez have 14 errors between them.

*Pitch Count Hero: Jeff Keppinger (1x3, BB) and Carlos Lee (0x4) - 21 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Jason Bourgeois (0x4) - 12 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Wandy.

*Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Astros 2011 Bandwagon is getting a little more crowded

For instance, Paul White's article in USA Today, which manages to make it through an entire article without giving us a round-headed kid looking at a graph.

Hunter Pence:
"It's the culmination of a lot of things. They changed our defensive setups. We became more of a pitching and defense team. Chris Johnson's come up and played real well. Young and energetic baseball...

..."We have our core and foundation. We've been drawing comparisons to the (San Diego) Padres last year. But we aren't anybody but us. It is what it is. You can't be looking very far forward or into the past."

Backe sues over Galveston wedding

The Houston Press is reporting that Brandon Backe, and 11 other members of the wedding party, have filed suit against 20 members of the Galveston Police Department and the City of Galveston.

Read the story - there's all sorts of sordid behavior alleged by the victims, tasering, kicking, punching, shoving pregnant women.

Many people were hurt during the incident. One member of the wedding party was taken by helicopter to the hospital with skull, face and torso injuries.

More than five months after the fight, the Galveston PD disciplined 13 officers, nine of which were suspended without pay for several days. The other four officers received a written reprimand.

Astros get $45 million a year from FSH

Yesterday the big news was that the Rangers and Fox Sports Southwest had agreed to a 20-year deal worth an estimated $1.6 billion, beginning in 2015. That's around $80 million a year.

For comparison, the Astros receive about $45 million/year. But David Barron tells us what it means for Houston:

Fox’s willingness to commit to a new deal with the Rangers was interpreted Monday as an indication that it is moving on from what appears to be a futile attempt to keep the Rockets and Astros past 2012. Major League Baseball’s rules governing broadcasting territories will allow FS Southwest to continue airing Rangers games in Houston, even if the Astros and Rockets go elsewhere.

"Elsewhere" meaning "Comcast."

“Hopefully in a week or so we will have it to a conclusion. Some things remain to be done. It’s a long, complex deal that we’re working on in conjunction with the Rockets. When you put two organizations together and work with a network, it takes time.”

McLane wouldn't comment on any sort of details. But stay tuned! Nothing makes the off-season fly by like media news!

Wade, on the purpose of meaningless September games

Zach Levine says that maybe these games aren't so meaningless.

"The fact that we've seen a lot of the younger players perform at center stage in July and August and September, it gives us a better read on things. All that helps us formulate more definitive opinions on players, and I think it gives us a clearer idea or focus going into the offseason barring anything unforeseen happening."

Unlike last year, when the Astros kept playing Miguel Tejada at SS and Geoff Blum at 3B. What about free agency?
"As far as definitively formulating a plan, there's too much uncertainty out there with regard to what the market is going to be about. You look at a prospective free-agent list today, and it's markedly different than what actually exists once the filing period begins."

Levine really pisses me off here, because he basically beat us to a post we had been working on for later today, which now may or may not see the light of day. The point being: remember the raises due to Wandy, Pence, Bourn, and Keppinger come arbitration day.

What are the question marks? Zach Levine:
Decisions could be looming at shortstop and catcher if there is more offense available on the market from the two premium defensive positions. And by using the second half of the season to give Carlos Lee time at first base, the Astros could look at left-field options as well.

That SS question may have been answered by Angel Sanchez, with whom the Astros have been well pleased. Brad Mills:
"Very pleasantly surprised, and the only reason the surprise is here is that nobody knew that he was on our radar. To be able to hit close to .280 and be able to do the things he has, that's pretty solid."

Sanchez will head to Puerto Rico to play Winter Ball for Mayaguez.

Chris Johnson makes Yahoo's All-Rookie Team

Yahoo's Steve Henson is far kinder to Chris Johnson than anyone in any sort of -stream media has been, making him 3B1 on Yahoo's All-Rookie Team:

A former college player who took parts of five seasons to reach the big leagues, Johnson at 26 has shown he can hit for average and power, solving a problem position for the Astros for years to come.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Velasquez had Tommy John surgery

Well, that's not good news. Baseball America is reporting that Astros 2010 2nd Round pick Vincent Velasquez had Tommy John surgery last week and is expected to miss "most or all" of 2011.

Velasquez left his last start early after scar tissue in his elbow broke loose, causing the discomfort which the above surgery was to fix.

Greeneville Astros: Hector Rodriguez

Hector Rodriguez
How did he get here?: Signed as free agent (2008)
Stats: 5'11" 150 lbs, Bats: Right Throws: Right
Hometown/Birthplace: Dominican Republic
Age as of April 1, 2011: 21
Position: IF
2010 Men of the Match: 1

2010 Overview




What happened?

Rodriguez, as you can see, spent two seasons in the DSL and made the jump over the GCL, coming straight to Greeneville, where he hit for a good average - mostly singles. His average has risen steadily since his first season in the DSL - from .214 to .269 to .303 in the last three seasons, respectively. Of all the Gastros playing in 40+ games, Rodriguez had the 3rd-highest AVG.

In the field, Rodriguez played 29 of his 43 games at 3B, making five errors for a .923 Fld%, and 13 games at SS, posting an impressive .983 Fld%.

What went right?

Hitting lefties. In 47 ABs, Rodriguez hit .362/.375/.447, compared to .264/.274/.319 against RHP.

Away games. In 65 ABs away from Greeneville, Rodriguez posted a .369/.388/.477 line - 402 points higher than his home game OPS.

What went wrong?

Walks. Rodriguez can strike out, but it's not an overwhelming percentage. And he didn't historically walk a whole lot, either. But to draw one walk in 123 plate appearances is brutal, particularly when he spent most of his time in the #9 spot.

Hitting w/RISP. It didn't happen often, but in 27 ABs, Rodriguez hit .222/.222/.296 with runners in scoring position.

Appy Astros says:
He was one of my favorite kids on the team this year. Not because of his play necessarily but because of his attitude. He was the first guy out of the dug out to welcome players off the field when an inning ended. He had a unique whistle noise he would make in the field or in the dugout when some one made a good play or when a pitcher made a good pitch. Occasionally, you would hear other players echo the whistle back to him. It was clear, he was having fun at the ball park.

I could see Rodriguez repeating at Greeneville, working on that pitch selection, before getting sent up a level. He'll be 22 next August, so time is on his side, and he did well in his first season in the States - particularly with his glove.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bourn: Started running

Hey, so Michael Bourn has started running again, but is not close to baseball activity.

Within McTaggart's notebook, we also read that Castro is going back to Stanford, and Dave Clark is looking forward to managing Licey in the Dominican Winter League, which will feature Josh Banks, Henry Villar, Anderson Hernandez, Alberto Arias, and Sammy Gervacio.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G156: Astros @ Pirates

The Astros are Exhibit A in The People vs. A Second Half of Goodwill. Astros lose 9-3 at Pittsburgh.

*Once again, the Astros held the lead, and lost (obviously). That's the fifth time on this road trip that the Astros have blown a lead.

*Happ pitched a good game, going 6IP, 4H/2R (0ER), 4K:2BB, and managed to get the loss, thanks to Castro's catching error.

*Happ has now thrown 12IP consecutive IP without allowing an earned run. It's his third start of throwing an ER-less outing since coming over from Philadelphia.

*But the screw-gee came at the hands of the bullpen. Of the five relievers used by the Astros, only Wilton Lopez (one batter) and Tim Byrdak (three batters) didn't allow a run.

*Mark Melancon came in for the 7th inning, walked Delmon Young to lead off the inning, gave up a single to Andrew McCutchen, and struck out Jose Tabata. Fernando Abad relieved him and gave up a single and a double - with a flyout in between - to allow two runs charged to Melancon, and one of his own on Pedro Alvarez' double.

*Then, for whatever reason, Felipe Paulino came in for the 8th inning. He allowed a leadoff single to left, threw a wild pitch, got a fielder's choice, allowed a single, another fielder's choice, and an infield single. So it's 6-3 at this point. and Tim Byrdak comes in, gives up a double and a sac fly, with three runs charged to Paulino.

*By the time Houston came up to bat again, the bullpen had turned a 5-3 deficit into a 9-3 loss.

*In this series, the bullpen allowed 12H/9ER, 6K:1BB in 8.1IP.

*Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee, and Jason Michaels had your multi-hit games of the day. Pence provided his 25th homer of the season, Lee and Michaels had a double.

*That's Hunter Pence's 75th homer in the last three seasons, and yes, that's 25 HR in each of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 seasons. With his five total bases today, that puts him at 279 total bases on the year - surpassing his previous career high of 277, set in 2008.

*Jason Castro hit a 9th inning double, breaking an 18PA hitless streak, going back to September 12 against the Dodgers. He struck out in his other three plate appearances. It's the first time he has had multiple Ks in a game since August 21 @ Florida.

*Chris Johnson was 0x4 with a strikeout, and grounded out in his other 3PAs.
. Despite drawing a walk yesterday, he has walked twice in his last 63PAs (23K).

*Pitch Count Hero: Jason Bourgois (1x5) - 21 pitches in five PAs.

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

*Man of the Match: Hunter Pence. Got on base three times, brought the game to within two runs.

*Goat of the Game: Jason Castro. 3Ks, crucial error.

Carlos Lee and aLI

So Baseball Reference has this thing that they call aLI - or the Average Leverage Index. It's a measurement of pressure situations batters find themselves in. Above 1.00 is a high-pressure situation, and below is (quite obviously) a low-pressure situation. I got to wondering about this Carlos Lee fella based on these situations.

Lee has played in 66 games with an aLI over 1.00, and he has played in 84 games with an aLI below 1.00. These games of which we speak are games that he has made an appearance, pinch-hit appearances included. How did he fare?

In games in which the aLI was at 1.00 or above, he was 60x256 (.234), 20K:14BB.

So by the wonder of mathematics, we can figure out (and not have to keep a running count in our heads) that, in those low-pressure situations/games, he is 82x325 (.252), 37K:21BB.

A couple of qualifications here. The Astros haven't played in many high-pressure games. And of course, the cleanup hitter is going to have more high-pressure situations than say, Tommy Manzella. So take it for what it's worth: we just spent a decent amount of time to tell you that Carlos Lee hasn't been very "clutch." Whatever that means.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G155: Astros @ Pirates

Seven games remain, and the Astros will have to win all of them to finish .500. Pirates win 6-4.

*When the Astros left on their ten-game road trip with a 72-77 record and had six coming up against the Nationals and Pirates, you were probably like me, and felt pretty good about their chances to finish .500. And you are probably like me, and have a hard time believing that the Astros are currently 2-4 against the Nationals and Pirates.

*The Astros are now 11-3 against the Pirates. But at PNC Park, they're only 2-3.

*Bud Norris' line: 4.2IP, 7H/5ER, 6K:3BB. His ERA is currently right at 5.00. His ERA was below 5.00 for four starts this season, and went up from 4.85. He has allowed 5ER in three of his last six starts.

*Norris OPS-against in nine starts at home: .718. On the road: .803. He has allowed 61 hits in 75.1IP at home, and 87 hits in 72.1IP on the road.

*It went south when Norris allowed a three-run homer to Pedro Alvarez with two outs in the 3rd inning. It's the 18th homer Norris has allowed this year, and three of them have been three-run shots. Eight of them have come with runners on.

*This was the second loss the Astros have put up in a Bud Norris start since July 23 (10-2).

*The top of the lineup for the Astros (Bourgeois-Keppinger-Pence-Lee): 1x15, 2K:1BB. Michaels-Johnson-Manzella-Quintero: 6x15, 4K:1BB, 3RBI.

*The offensive stars of the game were Humberto Quintero - who was 2x4 with a two-run double - and Chris Johnson - who was 2x4 with an RBI. In the last five games he's started, Quintero is 7x19 with 7RBI.

*Carlos Lee was 0x3 with a walk. He's now gone 16 PAs without a hit, and has one hit in his last 22 PAs.

*The Astros also had four pinch-hitters: Blum, Anderson Hernandez, Matt Downs, and Bogusevic. Hernandez drew a walk and Bogusevic got himself an RBI double. Three of Bogusevic's five hits this season have been doubles, and he has 3RBI.

*The Astros got the leadoff man on base three times. Only Jason Michaels (who led off the 2nd with a ground-rule double) scored. The Pirates, however, got the leadoff man on four times, and he later scored in three of those innings.

*In each of the four losses on this road trip, the Astros have - for however fleeting a time - held the lead at one point in the game. And last night was the 40th game the Astros have lost when they led the game at any point.

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

*Pitch Count Punk: Bourgeois (0x4), Johnson (2x4), and Quintero (2x4) - 11 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Jeez, I don't know. Quintero?

*Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee