Saturday, December 4, 2010

Berkman breaks our hearts

Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi is tweeting that Lance has signed with the Cardinals. Waiting on details while we pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts.

Heyman says (forgive the lack of links, doing this from the phone) the deal is 1yr/$8m, and Berkman will move to left field, with Holliday going to right.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Richard Griffin doesn't even consider Bagwell for the HOF

I'm sure we're going to see this more often as writers come clean about whom they are considering for the Hall of Fame. And we will be equally as outraged as we are now - when Jeff Bagwell doesn't even get a mention:

FIRST BASE (7): Jeff Bagwell, Tino Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro. It’s a strong list, but the Steroid Era has surely had an effect on the psyche of voters. McGwire has come clean about his steroid use and has re-entered the mainstream as Cardinals hitting coach, but it will take more than that to get him to 70 per cent. Palmeiro is on for the first time and it will be interesting to see the reaction of voters.

I am considering McGriff. The pinstripes are what Tino and Mattingly have on their side, but it’s not enough. Olerud broke in with a bang with the Jays, but falls short of Hall greatness.

Non-Tender Deadline recap

So here's the awesome part about being sick. I was asleep at 6:45 last night. So we totally missed the news about whom the Astros offered contracts, and whom they did not.

The Astros tendered offers to Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Lindstrom, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Clint Barmes, and Jeff Keppinger.

Who does that leave out? Sammy Gervacio, whom the Astros would still like to bring back. Wade:

“We want Sammy to be part of our club, but we wanted the protection from having to keep him on our major league DL. We were prepared to tender everyone else on the roster.”

More Wade:
"It's really a move of economics more than anything because of the uncertainty of his status going into Spring Training. Had he been injured coming into Spring Training and unable to perform, we would have had to carry him on the Major League disabled list. While we're protecting ourselves with respect to the tender, we still want Sammy to be part of our picture going forward."

Levine says the Astros plan to offer Gervacio a deal later in the off-season, but given Gervacio's injury history - which basically started about 15 minutes after the season began - might be trying to fill his spot externally before deciding on bringing him back.

We also learn what most of you probably heard last week - but Astros County was on radio silence - Tim Byrdak and Gustavo Chacin have both opted for free agency, instead of taking the assignment back to Oklahoma City.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

LaRussa is trying to recruit Berkman to come to STL

KMOV's Doug Vaughn says the Cardinals should sign Lance as a possible LF and backup plan for if Pujols decides he wants enough money to start his own baseball league.

Berkman says he wants to play for a team that has a chance to win. Tony La Russa said on KFNS radio that he's trying to recruit Berkman to St. Louis.

Sugar Land adopts the worst possible name for their Independent team

You've got to be kidding me. SB Houston got the link first, and the Sugar Land team is called...The Skeeters. Not kidding.

My interest in this team just fell by 400%. Read SBN's post for some sexual hilarity.

Berkman to Colorado gaining some traction

Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post says that Berkman is "strongly considering" going to Colorado, with the Rockies hoping that Berkman's desire to stay in the NL will seal the deal.

Berkman and Todd Helton share the same agent, and Helton is reported (by Renck) to be open to the idea of Berkman joining the team.

Renck lists some other teams interested in Berkman:
He also has interest from the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Athletics, among others.

Would Berkman go to St. Louis? I guess Ed Wade may be trying to recount that short conversation he had telling Berkman the Astros weren't interested. Just to remember if he swore at him...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Berkman about to be a Rockie?

There's a Denver Post article in which the Rockies are reportedly getting close to signing Berkman.

It would be a good move for him, especially over Oakland, where he could stay in the NL and launch the ball like it was 2004.

Hey, Fernando Nieve got a job!

Fernando Nieve was signed by the Pirates today! Good for him, we think.

Figueroa signs, avoids arbitration

The Astros have signed Nelson Figueroa to a one-year, $900K deal, sez Zach Levine.

This is a low-risk move by the Astros. They have their long-relief/spot starter for a low price, and meet their quota of having someone old enough to have played for Leo Durocher on the roster.

Rumble! Grumble!

Jayson Stark's new Rumblings & Grumblings column addresses the short-term future of young Brett Wallace:

The Houston Astros have been quietly poking around for a low-budget left-handed-hitting outfielder. And that's an indication they're leaning toward moving Carlos Lee to first base to give Brett Wallace a chance to go back to Triple-A and get more big-league-ready. But here's the question people are asking about that scenario: Are they prepared to move Lee back to left field when Wallace gets it all together? They'd better be because Lee has $18.5 million coming in 2011 and 2012, so he isn't particularly tradable.

So. This little nugget affects not only Wallace and Lee, but also Koby Clemens (presumably OKC's 1B1 in 2011), Brian Bogusevic, and Jack Shuck. I also like how Stark is envisioning Wallace "getting it together" sometime this season. We'll know by the Winter Meetings what LFs are out there, so the speculation can begin Friday, after the non-tender deadline.

Ed Wade to take his time, thank you very much

Just because the Astros need just about every player still eligible for arbitration, it doesn't mean Wade won't take his time to decide for sure.

"We think all the arbitration-eligible players we have on the roster have a chance to help us next year. How that's affected by the tender deadline remains to be seen. We think the profile of the players who are still arbitration-eligible and still unsigned is significant enough that we think they all factor for us next year. That said, we have to use all of the remaining time to try to make the right decisions."

DeFrancesco introduced in OKC

The Astros introduced new OKC manager Tony DeFrancesco yesterday at a press conference.

On why he left the A's organization after so long:
“In baseball, you can move in a lot of directions. I had spent so many years with the A’s and managing in Sacramento, I thought it was time to go out there and see what else was available. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be the manager of this team.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hal Bodley speaks on Bagwell's HOF chances

Click here to watch a video of's Hal Bodley breaking down Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame chances.

The money quote, transcribed:
I suspect, ultimately, he'll be in the Hall of Fame...Is he a first-ballot electee? I don't think so, and I suspect that's the way the voters are going to respond.

Maybe that Wandy long-term deal isn't true, after all

This is what you get for churning out posts without regard to feelings or intentions. Brian McTaggart, in his Quintero reaction piece throws a little sand, or gasoline (who knows), on the Wandy negotiations:

Contrary to a published report, the Astros aren't in conversations with Rodriguez about a multiyear contract. Wade said the club kicked around the idea with Rodriguez's representatives earlier in the year, but they are not involved in active multiyear negotiations at this time. He will be a free agent after the 2011 season.


Chris Wallace gets a nice little honor

2010 16th Round draft pick/UH alum Chris Wallace made the ultra-slashed2010 Topps/Minor League Baseball Short Season/Rookie All-Star Team as a Designated Hitter.

UPDATE: And Jose Perdomo got some love, as the All-Star Team pitcher.

Astros avoid arbitration with Quintero

According to a team press release, linked to by MLBTR, and tweeted by the Crawfish Boxes (the things that happen while you step away to use the restroom and play Angry Birds), the Astros have avoided arbitration with Humberto Quintero.

Brett Myers' Personal Catcher (waiting on confirmation from the Astros that will be on Q's jersey) will receive $1m plus incentive bonuses. That's about a quarter of a million dollars more than he made last year. And if he gets Myers another 30 straight quality starts, I'll take it.

McTaggart: Everybody gets a contract!

Short version: All eight Astros are likely to get tendered a contract by Thursday's deadline.

Long version.

De La Rosa deal likely to affect negotiations with Wandy

So Colorado pitcher Jorge De La Rosa's new deal, worth 3 years/$32 million, is probably going to impact Wandy's negotiations for his own long-term deal.

Some statistics, if you don't mind:

Jorge De La Rosa - 29 years old (will be 30 on April 5).
2010: 8-7 in 20 starts, with 4.22 ERA / 1.32 WHIP. 2.05 K:BB ratio, 110 ERA+, with 7.8 hits/9 innings.

Career (2004-10): 49-47. 5.02 ERA / 1.52 WHIP. 1.75 K:BB ratio, 92 ERA+, with 9.2 hits/9 innings.

Wandy Rodriguez - 31 years old (will be 32 on January 18).
2010: 11-12 in 32 starts, with 3.60 ERA / 1.29 WHIP. 2.62 K:BB ratio, 108 ERA+, with 8.4 hits/9 innings.

Career (2005-10): 62-64. 4.18 ERA / 1.35 WHIP. 2.37 K:BB ratio, 101 ERA+, with 8.9 hits/9 innings.

They're similar pitchers, with similar numbers, and a slight edge going to Wandy. That said, when we said we'd be comfortable with Wandy getting 3yrs/$20m yesterday, there's no way that happens now - unless Wandy's agent is a complete bubbleguts. We'll go ahead and adjust Wandy's projection to 3yrs/$33m-36m.


Winter Meetings likely to be boring as hell

Brian McTaggart talked to Ed Wade about the Winter Meetings, which begin next Monday.

Ed Wade:
I don't see us being really active at the Winter Meetings unless we're engaged in specific trade discussions at that point, but I envision it being quiet for us. As we've indicated, we've got some payroll limitations that we're working through, and that being the case, it will be a challenge being out there and be overly aggressive in the free-agent market. That doesn't mean we're not going to work to get things done, but I look at it in a realistic context. I don't envision us being as active as we were last year."

But here's an interesting note from McTaggart:
As is the case with the outfield spot, Houston may choose to find a starting pitcher internally. Wade said top prospect Jordan Lyles will likely be invited to spring camp to compete for a spot, and the team has kicked around the idea of putting young relievers Fernando Abad or Henry Villar in the rotation.

As of now, your rotation is: Myers, Happ, Wandy, Norris, and...someone else. Lyles just turned 20 in October. The last time the Astros had a 20-year old appear in more than a handful of games in September was in 1977, when Terry Puhl got in 60 games (and had a .786 OPS, by the by).

Villar started making that transition in Corpus earlier this season. What do you think about transitioning either him or Abad to the rotation?

Berkman to meet with Oakland

I don't even know why this should even be mentioned, seeing as how Berkman is not - and likely won't be - with the Astros anymore (except perhaps in a Special Assistant to the GM role, and probably not Specially Assisting Ed Wade) - but Lance is meeting with the Oakland A's.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Does Bagwell belong in the Hall of Fame?

Brian McTaggart has an article today on Bagwell's candidacy for the Hall of Fame - as this is his first time on the ballot. If you ask any Astros fan whether or not Bagwell should be enshrined in Cooperstown, we can guarantee you that he would meet the required 75% to get in. But Base Ball (yes, two words) Writers aren't typically Astros fans. So we must think about this objectively.

First, some stats. Bagwell basically played from 1991-2004. He played in 39 games in 2005, but that doesn't really count (too much, anyway). So here's what you get in those 13 full seasons - counting 1994 as a full season.

2111 games, 7697 ABs, .297/.408/.542, 446 homers, 1510 RBI, .948 OPS, 149 OPS+.

Rookie of the Year in 1991, MVP in 1994. Four-time All-Star. Top 10 in MVP voting six times. Top 5 in MVP voting three times.

Baseball-Reference's Gray Ink test gives Bagwell 157 points. The average Hall of Famer has a Gray Ink score of 144. B-R's Hall of Fame Monitor gives him 150 points, where a "Likely Hall of Famer" comes in at 100. And B-R's Hall of Fame Standards scores him a 59 (36th-highest of all time), where an Average HOFer is set at 50.

So by those standards, sure. How about Similarity Scores? The players Bagwell scores most similarly to is, in order, Chipper Jones, Carlos Delgado, Frank Thomas, Fred McGriff, Andres Galarraga, Willie Stargell, Vladimir Guerrero, Orlando Cepeda, Jason Giambi, and Jim Thome. Of those ten, Stargell and Cepeda are already Hall of Famers.

But the problem is the era in which he played, and it's an era that is basically denoted with an implied asterisk. Anyone who put up big numbers from 1991-2004 (and whose body subsequently broke down fairly rapidly) is looked at with one eyebrow at half staff.

Still, if you're of the opinion that he should be considered innocent until proven guilty (which would be mighty American of you. Well, 1791 American. Not necessarily 2010 American), then he needs to be considered against other 1Bs of his time. So let's look at that:

Scratch that. I had a table all put together comparing Bagwell's Avg/OPS/SLG and OPS+ to all MLB 1Bs but it was such a large set of numbers that it was actually much more difficult to read. The important thing to note is that Bagwell's OPS+ was higher than the average for MLB 1Bs from 1991-2003, and his 115 OPS+ in 2004 was just a tick lower than the average tOPS+ for MLB 1B of 116.

Career WAR of 79.9 is 57th of all-time.
Career OBP of .408 is 40th of all-time.
Career SLG of .540 is 35th of all-time.
Career OPS of .948 is 21st of all-time.
Career OPS+ of 149 is 37th of all-time.
Finished in the Top 10 in OPS+ nine times (including eight in a row from 1993-2000)
Career 1788 Runs Created is 37th of all-time.
Career 619 Adjusted Batting Runs is 21st of all-time.

Now, you can make statistics say whatever you want them to say, but in just about every offensive facet of the game - even when taking the era into account - he was among the best first basemen in the game for 13 years.

Honestly, did you really think you would read an Astros blog that said Bagwell didn't belong in the Hall of Fame? Of course, "Does he belong?" and "Will he belong?" are two totally separate questions.

Astros talking long-term with Wandy, tell Bourn and Pence to piss off

Maybe not in those terms. But still, the Astros have discussed a long-term deal with Wandy Rodriguez, but as Zach Levine reports, "are unlikely" to do the same with Bourn and Pence.

Of course the reasoning is that this is Wandy's final year of arbitration eligibility, while Bourn won't become a free agent until 2013, and Pence until 2014.

How long-term? If I were Ed Wade - which, of course, I'm not - I would be hesitant to offer any more than three years for Wandy. He lost his arbitration case last year, being forced to subsist on $5 million for 2010. What terms would you offer for Wandy? I'd be comfortable with 3 years/$20 million, especially with Arnsberg on staff.

Just how close the Astros were to drafting Jeter

Baseball America has a good read today, giving a little insight into why the Astros didn't draft Jeter with the #1 overall pick in 1992 - going instead with Phil Nevin:

In his book "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," Buster Olney details how Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser, the Astros' area scout responsible for covering Jeter as Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central High, told Houston brass that Jeter was a special player and person. There were rumors Jeter wanted a seven-figure bonus to pass up a Michigan scholarship, however, and Houston was worried about signability as much as ability.

The Astros were in the process of being sold, and they had declined to sign No. 6 overall choice John Burke when he held out for $500,000 the year before. Houston was determined to work out bonus parameters with 1992's top pick before the draft, and did exactly that, negotiating a $700,000 deal with Nevin...

...As for Jeter, he signed for the same $700,000 that the Astros gave Nevin. Disgusted that his team disregarded his judgment, Newhouser quit his job with Houston.

Anyone else see the irony in previous ownership not wanting to spend money on the draft?

Berkman is so over Houston

Richard Justice is here to talk about the past, and Lance Berkman's future. Presumably because those are two different things.

Berkman, on being turned down by Ed Wade for a year-long prom date:
"After initially being pretty disappointed, I've gotten over it. Now my focus is on who is going to contend that wants me to play for them. There's been a lot of interest — Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, A's, Pirates, Blue Jays, a bunch of teams. I haven't had a single offer in terms of X amount of dollars, but I think this is the time of the year when there's a lot of tire-kicking."

Note: three of the teams that Berkman mentioned are NL Central teams. He has already said he wants to play for a contender, so presumably the Pirates are out, but we'll see what happens if it's February, and Berkman is still looking for a job.