Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bourn wins Gold Glove

Michael Bourn will get a nice little bump in salary again, thanks to his second straight Gold Glove award.

We've tried for about ten minutes now, but can't put it much more succinctly than Crawfish Boxes writer David Coleman put it:
It's great that Bourn won the GG, but that should just validate his defensive prowess, not tell us that he's good.

Hardball Talk's Best and Worst Astros uniform

Here's an entertaining read, as Craig Calcaterra continues his Best And Worst Uniforms series with our Astros.

Read it.

(Pause)

Agree, or disagree?

Cliff Lee's price tag

Jon Heyman is standing by yesterday's tweet that the Astros could make a run at Cliff Lee.

How about that price tag?
Lee is said by sources to be looking to repeat his good friend CC Sabathia's $161-million, seven-year deal with the Yankees, numbers that could all but eliminate every team but the Yankees, who imported Sabathia at that price and are very happy to have done so.

And then he lists the Yankees as prohibitive favorites to land him. Don't do it, Cliff!

The $100m question

Yesterday, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Astros may make a run at Cliff Lee, who we're all pretty sure that only about three or four teams can afford - and nary a one is in Houston. Some people are clamoring to spend $Insane on Carl Crawford, and move Carlos Lee to 1B for 2011-12. So that brings us to an interesting question for you, dear readers:


Astros Minor-League Free Agents

Baseball America has a list of all the Astros' minor-league free agents for our perusal.

Here are the 20 from Eddie's Farm:

Triple-A

RHP Roy Corcoran, RHP Shane Loux, RHP Jonah Bayliss, LHP Andy Van Hekken, C Edwin Bellorin, 1B Chris Shelton, 2B Matt Kata, SS Edwin Maysonet

Double-A

RHP Erick Abreu, RHP Evan Englebrook, RHP Jeremy Johnson, RHP Jailen Peguero, LHP Polin Trinidad, C Lou Santangelo, 3B Jhon Florentino, SS Marcos Cabral, OF David Cook

High-A

LHP Edwin Walker

Short-Season A

C Buck Afenir

Rookie

LHP Dieudone Paul

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Today in WTF...

SI's Jon Heyman just tweeted:

Astros may make a run at cliff lee. Yankees remain obvious favorite. other suitors include cubs, bosox, angels, dodgers, phils.

Good gravy. With a projected pricetag of $160 million, how in the world will this happen?

More FanGraphs, on Jordan Lyles

FanGraphs' Bryan Smith has a post up today on the Astros "Must-Follow Prospect," Jordan Lyles. First, though, your obligatory "Houston's farm system sucks" qualification:

Cynically, it’s hard for me to see more than one must-follow prospect in the Astros farm system. This is an organization that didn’t value the draft prior to 2010, failing to sign numerous players that went on to be drafted highly elsewhere, and then put together a 2010 draft that I don’t think valued upside properly. The team is starting to build a nice bit of pitching depth, and should one day be able to field an above-average rotation. But for spots on a down-the-line depth chart to be depended on acquired talent from outside the organization is damning.

On Lyles and that rumored September Call-Up:
It was a benefit to the fan base that Lyles struggled by traditional numbers in a six-start trial at Triple-A, because before then, his manager was talking about a potential September call-up. The team correctly resisted that urge, and they must do the same out of Spring Training to ensure the pitcher is around in 2017. It might only be until then, said without snark, that the team is contending again.

The conclusion:
I believe in Jordan Lyles, because I believe a change-up might be the best second option a prospect can have, and Lyles has one of the best. He’s also a potential innings eater and a guy with fastball command. Give me those three things, and it’s really easy to plot a path toward 3 WAR, and not impossible to project a season or two around 6 WAR. His upside is limited because he’ll never threaten to strike out a batter per inning or post a groundball rate of 50%, but he’ll reach the Major Leagues at 20 with command-in-tow, and that makes him a special prospect.

Oh, there's a whole bunch in between, which is very much worth your time.

FanGraphs' Top 10 Astros Prospects

And FanGraphs throws us a bone by listing the Astros' Top 10 prospects. We'll provide the list, and an excerpt from the explanation. You click the link for the full version.

1. Jordan Lyles
Lyles doesn’t have a huge ceiling but he profiles as a durable No. 3 starter.

2. Delino DeShields, Jr.
He should open 2011 in low-A ball and could move relatively quickly if his defense catches up to his bat.

3. Tanner Bushue
Bushue has a four-pitch repertoire and projects to be a solid No. 3 starter. He displays good control for his age...

4. Jiovanni Mier
Mier’s power took a significant dip last year and needs to look to drive the ball more consistently to the gaps.

5. Mike Kvasnicka
He has a chance to be a solid regular but he’s not likely to be a star player.

6. Mike Foltynewicz
Foltynewicz has a higher ceiling than (Bushue) because he projects to throw in the mid-90s with a plus changeup.

7. Jay Austin
After posting a .326 wOBA in the (Cal) league in 2010 as a teenager, Austin could return in 2011 – at least for the first two or three months. Keep tabs on this prospect as a 2011 breakout candidate.

8. J.D. Martinez
Martinez isn’t a true slugger but he projects to hit 20 homers in a full MLB season. Defensively, he’s not a great fielder and is still learning to read the ball. He also has chronic arthritis in his knees, which could limit his range over time.

9. Vincent Velasquez
His delivery appeared to put a lot of stress on his pitching elbow, so the organization may have to re-work his throwing motion upon his return.

10. Jonathan Villar
His lack of consistent contact is the largest weakness in his offensive game right now, as he posted a strikeout rate of 27.8% in low-A and 38.9% in high-A.

I find it interesting that, with the exception of Jay Austin, all of these players were drafted - or acquired, in Lyles' and Villar's case - in 2009 and 2010. What say you?

Winter Ball Stats

Given that it's been a while since there have been any posts with numbers whatsoever, here's a little rundown on your Astros prospects still playing baseball, (30AB/8IP minimum)

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

Hitters









NameLeagueABsAvg/OBP/SLGK:BBXBH-RBI
ClemensAFL59.322/.355/.49216:36-12
BarnesAFL58.293/.328/.53416:26-13
LockeVWL57.246/.306/.3689:54-9
AustinAFL45.156/.269/.1569:70-7
BellorinVWL43.256/.298/.3498:32-4
MaysonetPWL37.243/.300/.2706:21-1
F. HernandezVWL35.171/.275/.2296:52-5


Pitchers







NameLeagueIPERA/WHIPK:BB
L, CruzPWL153.00/1.678:6
K. GreenwaltAFL13.12.70/1.289:3
A. Van HekkenDWL10.13.48/1.456:3
G. GarciaVWL93.00/1.116:2
P. UrckfitzAFL82.25/0.755:2


Click Here for a full list of players/stats.

Brandon Barnes hit a big fly last night

Congrats to Brandon Barnes, who hit a 3-run bomb in yesterday's AFL game against Phoenix.

So far this fall, Barnes is hitting .293/.328/.534, with 16K:2BB in 14 games for the Javelinas. Barnes has an extra-base hit in five of his last eight games.

Run-DMc once gave the government a $1.5m refund

Here's a heart-warming article in the Montgomery Advertiser, in which one "Drayton McClane" refunded the government $1.5m.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Manzella got sick, cut

Zach Levine's blog post tells everyone who will listen that Tommy Manzella contracted an illness while playing in the Dominican. And if that wasn't bad enough, he then got released.

Also, with a captip to Levine, you can read this fine interview with Tri-City manager Jim Pankovits.

Greg Lucas isn't exactly brimming with excitement over Mike Barnett

Greg Lucas has a new post over at FSH on Mike Barnett:

Let us start off by saying that he has a one thing in common with most of us. He never played major league baseball. In fact he never even played professional baseball at all. An injury during his collegiate days at Ohio University to a shoulder ending his playing hopes. Instead he turned to becoming a real student of the game. When I say that I mean a student of everything about the game...

...Mike Barnett will be no Jeff Bagwell. He won't even be a Sean Berry since he has no personal experiences to relay to his hitters. But he has a keen eye according to all reports and --as they say with players--is fundamentally sound.

The Astros hiring of Mike did nothing for season ticket sales. But if he can help make the club a better offensive team that is what will sell tickets.

Don't ever confuse big names with big results as coaches. Some work out fine. But many of the very best pitching coaches, hitting coaches and managers have come from the ranks of the "who's he's" when they were players.

Tim Purpura got himself an award!

Baseball America says that Tim Purpura was given the Arizona Fall League's 2010 Roland Hemond award prior to the Rising Stars game at Surprise Stadium on Saturday.

No confirmation yet on Purpura's signing Hemond to a 6-year deal...

Details starting to emerge on the new Astros RSN

David Barron is getting some details regarding the Astros/Rockets RSN, scheduled to begin in 2012. Some notes:

-Astros games begin broadcasting in 2012.
-The Astros and Rockets will own 77.5% of the deal, worth over $1 billion.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations notes (via Barron) that Fox offered a similar deal - $1b + $200m signing bonus - but left out what Comcast was willing to provide:
"The only thing that wasn't offered was ownership (in the network)."

For those of you wondering how this affects your ability to throw inanimate objects at the television 162 times a year:
Comcast and the teams will have to negotiate carriage agreements with satellite and fiber providers and with other cable systems, which have about 120,000 customers in the Houston DMA. They also will have to negotiate with Time Warner Cable in major markets such as San Antonio and Austin.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Astros re-sign Vallejo

With a captip to Baseball America, the Astros have re-signed 2B Jose Vallejo, who had about as bad a season as one can have. Of course, he wasn't supposed to play until next year, anyway, but there you go.

Enjoy those five C-Notes, Pat

By virtue of winning the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game, Pat Urckfitz - and the rest of the team - got a $500 bonus.

Urckfitz (posting the whole paragraph):
"It definitely was different from other games out here, more fans, different atmosphere," said lefthander Patrick Urckfitz (Astros), who as a non-drafted free agent was one of the more unlikely Rising Stars roster members. "I signed for $15,000, so for me the extra $500 definitely helps."

Nick Cafardo's Free Agent Destinations

Nick Cafardo's Sunday column ranks the top free agents and projects a possible destination. We already know that the Astros won't be major players in the free agent market, but Cafardo does see the Astros as a possible destination for:

SP Jon Garland:
He did a terrific job for the Padres eating up innings and lending stability. He could do the same for a number of teams, such as the Nationals, Brewers, Mets, Astros, or Rockies. A return to San Diego also is possible.

We typically discount any rumor that links the Astros to a pitcher, as they're pretty much set there for 2011. Middle infielder? Different story. And Cafardo puts the price tag on Carl Crawford at 6 years/$120m. So don't even look at Carl Crawford. He's the cheerleader you're not allowed to even dream about dating.