Thursday, December 16, 2010

Now this HOF graph is pretty darn cool

Here's a way to kill the next half-hour.

Gift Ideas from Astros County!

Hey, have you checked out some of Astros County's merchandise? Subsidize our student loans by purchasing shirts, bibs, aprons, thongs, and more!

How about this one?

Or this one:

Astros hire Josh Bonifay

The Altoona Mirror says that the Astros have hired former Pirates minor leaguer-turned-coach Josh Bonifay to be Greeneville's hitting coach.

"Houston called for an opportunity within their player development department as a hitting coach at a low-level rookie team. It was my first opportunity to have a full-time gig as a hitting coach and a longtime goal to continue my career in baseball.

"I am extremely fortunate for the opportunity, and I look forward to a long career as a coach."

Jerome Solomon takes our morning, and crams it down the toilet

I love Christmas. Santa Claus, sugarplum fairies, and whatnot. I love it because you're encouraged to suspend reality, even if it's for a week or two, and believe in something unbelievable (like a parking spot, or the hope that not everybody in Bed, Bath, and Beyond isn't going to be a complete douche).

However, Jerome Solomon took that suspension of reality, and beat it to death with his column on the 2011 Astros.

Wade believes Lee, Pence and Chris Johnson, who had a tremendous rookie season at third base, give the Astros three middle-of-the-lineup bats capable of delivering 25-30 home runs apiece and generating offense that could put the team in the hunt.

Brett Wallace at first base won't make us forget Lance Berkman anytime soon, but let's assume he'll graduate from Room .222 where he spent last season.

We'll also assume young catcher Jason Castro will at least hit his weight next season. Too bad he weighs only 210 pounds.

And so on...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heyman ain't voting for Bagwell

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted his HOF ballot today, and it did not include a certain 1B.

My hall of fame ballot: alomar, larkin, mattingly, morris, murphy, parker, raines.

Hey, let's at least give him credit for posting his ballot...

The Astros are selling about as well as the Furby

Dave Dalati says the market for the Astros is pretty dadgum slim as of now, and notes a surprising bit of information:

Of course no one expected the Astros to get purchased only a month after going on the market. But what is mildly surprising is that no local individual or group has even displayed serious interest yet.

No local person among those that have the wherewithal to make such a purchase has emerged as seriously interested, although it’s possible someone is considering making a pitch to buy the team. A couple of years ago, Jim Crane of Houston was involved in serious negotiations with McLane to buy the team but those talks deteriorated late in the process.

Whether Crane would make another run now is unclear.

Minor-league signings!

Brian McTaggart says that the Astros have signed IF Brian Dopirak and RHP Sammy Gervacio to minor-league contracts with invitations to Major-League Spring Training.

Dopirak will be 27 next week, and was the Cubs' 2nd Round pick in 2002. He was in Triple-A Las Vegas in part of 2009 and all of 2010, hitting .296/.331/.476 in 138 games at Triple-A.

Over the course of nine minor-league seasons, Dopirak has hit .280/.336/.484, with 770K:271BB, 371 extra-base hits, and 596 RBI.

He's a first-baseman, which is interesting, as he'll either be IF6 or in Triple-A (or cut, I suppose). And isn't Koby going to be at Triple-A? Or Brett Wallace? Still, it doesn't hurt anything to give him a shot, and see if he can replicate his 25+ HR power (as he has done in three seasons, most recently in 2009 between AA-AAA).

And you know all about Slammin' Sammy Gervacio.

Big Sale at Minute Maid Park today

So if you find yourselves downtown today, head on over to Minute Maid, where there will be a big sale, including:

*Up to 60% off selected game-used caps, game jerseys and batting practice jerseys
*40% off game jackets
*50% off 2010 game-used baseballs
*40% off 2010 game-used bases
*New and game-used bats
*Limited supply of rare, 1986 game-worn Astros jerseys, with All-Star Game patch
*Large selection of discounted specialty items and collectibles priced at 50 cents and up.

Also, 10% off the Astros' franchise!

This Lance Pendleton fella is some kind of excited

So McTaggart interviewed Lance Pendleton and found a firecracker's worth of energy.

Pendleton, who even traveled to Chicago for the World Series in 2005 (but was not slapped by a White Sox fan):
"I've been a big Houston Astros fan for as long as I can remember. I'd be lying to you, having been in the Yankees' organization, if I said I had followed them nearly as much as I used to. But I'm ready to support them now, if that's all right."

Wade apparently happy with bullpen

Brian McTaggart says Ed Wade is quite pleased with how the bullpen is shaping up.

"You can never have enough arms, but we realize as we sit here now that if we had to go to Spring Training and start it up tomorrow, we've got the components in place to be able to put a good bullpen together."

Who will close?
"That's the beauty of where we are. We had two guys last year who had 20 or more saves and we've got Wilton, who we think has closer capability. I think we go into Spring Training in the same mindset we had a year ago before Lyon fell behind because of having the cyst aspirated in his shoulder.

"If you've got more than one guy with the ability to go out there and handle the job, you can mix and match, use the hot hand or use it in a matchup situation, depending on the hitters coming up in the ninth or which pitcher had success against those hitters. Hopefully, everybody is healthy and competing and they show they have the capability and deserve to get the ball at the back end of games."

Baseball Prospectus runs down Eddie's Farm

Them There Crawfish Boxes had the link first, but Baseball Prospectus gave a little recap as to the state of Eddie's Farm. There's far too much to pull from, so just go ahead and give it a click for full info.

That said, here are the Astros' top 10 prospects, according to BP:
1. Jordan Lyles, RHP
2. Delino DeShields Jr., 2B/OF
3. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
4. Ariel Ovando, OF
5. Jonathan Villar, SS
6. Jimmy Paredes, 2B
7. Tannuer Bushue, RHP
8. J.D. Martinez, OF
9. Mike Kvasnicka, 3B/OF/C
10. Jiovanni Mier, SS

And your money quote, from author Kevin Goldstein:
A combination of bad contracts, little young talent, and a poor minor-league system leaves the Astros with a big hole to dig out of. They're getting better slowly, but a return to contention is still years away, and anything but guaranteed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Koby still = Brandon Inge

Nick Cafardo's Sunday column gives a little update on Koby Clemens:

Nobody took him in the Rule 5 draft, but that wasn’t surprising. The 24-year-old Clemens hit 26 homers and knocked in 85 runs while hitting .241 at Double A, but he struck out 143 times in 452 at-bats. Astros manager Brad Mills raved about him, though. “I saw him hit a home run through this incredibly stiff wind during an intrasquad game at spring training last year,’’ Mills said. “He’s got power.’’ Clemens played first base last season for the first time after being used as catcher/third baseman. The Astros still believe he can be a Brandon Inge type of player and he will get to play at Triple A in 2011.

And on Matt Lindstrom:
Another reliever who could be traded this winter. Lindstrom had a good first half but exploded in the second half. The Astros would love to dump his salary, which was $1.65 million last season and will rise in arbitration. Lindstrom was Houston’s closer, but another team could use him in middle relief.