Saturday, May 28, 2011

And so it begins...

Some good news and some bad news for you this morning.

The bad: Wandy was placed on the DL today with fluid on the elbow.

The good: Jordan Lyles was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City and will start next Tuesday in Chicago.

And so the Jordan Lyles era in Houston begins! -StreetJL

Weekend update

Hey, so once again we find ourselves in a bind. The Constable is in Houston with his dad, I'm on Wife Alert (Bed, Bath and Beyond, Bath & Body Works, etc.), and the Juvenile Court Clerk is camping.

Updates are going to be sporadic. Sorry 'bout it.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G51: Astros v. Diamondbacks

Now that was painful - on just about every level. Astros blow a huge lead, and lose Quintero, to the Diamondbacks, 7-6.

*The Astros blew a 6-0 lead - their largest of the season.

*They had a 6-4 lead going into the 7th, meaning that, when leading after six innings, the Astros are just 13-7.

*Brett Myers threw 5.2IP, 5H/4ER, 4K:3BB, 2HR. The two homers he gave up to Juan Miranda put him at the top of the league in homers allowed, at 14. Those 14 homers are the most allowed in all of baseball, one ahead (or behind, depending on how you look at it) of Texas' Colby Lewis.

*Just for comparison, Myers has allowed 14HR in 68.2IP. In 2010 Myers gave up 20HR in 223.2IP. His 1.8 HR/9 rate is a full homer higher than 2010, but 0.5 HR/9 lower than his 2009 season, when the Phillies promptly let him go.

*Still Sergio Escalona allowed a run for the first time since May 10 - six appearances between ERs.

*But actually, the run was allowed by Wilton Lopez, who then went and got the BS/L by allowing three hits, a walk, and committing a throwing error on the play that got Quintero hurt. It was the first time Lopez allowed three hits in an outing since April 13 - after which he went on the DL.

*The offense got the job done, but again, the pitching threw it away. In 11 games where the Astros score 6+ runs, they're just 7-4.

*Michael Bourn was 3x5 with 3RBI. Since May 18, Bourn is hitting .333/.415/.472. He has 16 RBIs on the year - and six of those have come in the last four games.

*Hunter Pence was 1x3, but with 2BBs. It's the 19th time in his career (631 games) that he has drawn 2+ walks in a game. Pence has a 7.1% walk rate in 2011, up slightly from his 6.2% walk rate in 2010, and better than his career 6.8% walk rate.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tease Alert!

Maury Brown, of the Biz of Baseball, has a little bit of a bomb to drop:

Sampling on Crane: over past 15 yrs, Crane-held companies have been involved in 130 lawsuits at the Federal Court level. Most as defendant.

Of course, it's from a tweet, so call off the grammar/punctuation police. It'll be interesting to see what Brown puts on the Biz of Baseball site. Make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked position.

Pence: Good not great

Jayson Stark's new new Rumblings and Grumblings column is up, and he addresses the Hunter Pence situation:

The Astros continue to tell people that when they project which pieces they would need to build a winner down the road, they can't envision Hunter Pence not being a central part of that. But one scout who has seen Pence a lot says he's not the kind of player you construct a team around.

"He's a good player, but I see him as more of a complementary piece," the scout said. "He's the kind of guy you win with if you have two other major run-producers around him. I don't want to give the impression I don't like the guy. I like him a lot. But he's not an impact guy to the point that should prohibit them from trading him for a quality starting pitcher and another piece."

Maybe that game wasn't so lifelike, after all

In this here interview with Brian Kingrey, the guy who won the million dollars, he talks about the most tense moment:

"The biggest guy I had to worry about was in the 7th inning, Bill Hall. Getting past him was the major thing because he would always just swing away and knock one out. Other than that was the left-handers I had to worry about."

Ha! Artificial intelligence my...

OKC rotation update

In an interesting note, Darren Headrick says that OKC has shifted Gustavo Chacin from the bullpen to the rotation, and Doug Arguello will move to the bullpen.

Felipe Paulino is now a Royal

So we're behind the curve with this news, but it's still worth noting that former Astro Felipe Paulino was traded by Colorado to Kansas City.

Royals manager Ned Yost:
"Our scouts say he's really got good stuff. We'll just have to see when he gets here. Our people like him a lot and say he's got a chance to be a starter down the road. We'll use him in the 'pen long right now; it just gives us more options."

Paulino was traded back in November for Clint Barmes - and as of now, this trade has worked out well enough, I suppose. We wrote:
If Felipe Paulino turns into Ubaldo Jimenez, we can all chalk this up to kerrazy Ed Wade shenanigans, but name a player - other than 2008 Lidge - who Wade got rid of that went on to be a star.

Lancaster's GM resigns says that Larry Thornhill has resigned his position as Vice President and General Manager of the franchise for personal reasons. Assistant GM Derek Sharp will take over on an interim basis, while the JetHawks brought back 2004-2008 GM Brad Seymour as "Senior Consultant."

According to the press release:
Seymour currently also serves as Vice President and General Manager of the Lake County (Ohio) Captains, a Cleveland Indians affiliate under the direction of the Peter A. Carfagna ownership group which also controls the Lancaster franchise. Seymour, along with team President Peter E. Carfagna, will have direct oversight of the day-to-day activities of the JetHawks.

This (sniff) is the last (sniff) time Drayton will get to pay slot

Zach Levine has a story on the upcoming draft, and how Drayton will still be at the helm for it, though Jim Crane and George Postolos are very much in the loop.

Wade, (and Levine):
“Both Jim and George know the importance of this (draft),” said Wade, adding that they are committed to a strong presence in Latin America as well.

“Everyone wants to get to the point where the core of the team is coming through scouting and player development.”

Tranzactionz: Greenwalt sent down, Astros claim Blake King

A couple of tranzactionz to report for you:

Tanner Bushue

Sent Down:
Juri Perez, from Lexington to Tri-City
Kyle Greenwalt, from Corpus to Tri-City

Claimed on waivers:
Blake King (May 26), assigned to Corpus

Tough news for Greenwalt, who was dropped two levels and sent to Extended Spring Training. Greenwalt broke out in 2008 with Greeneville, throwing 77.2IP, allowing 80H/26ER, with 58K:16BB to get everyone all excited about his future, as well as teammate Jordan Lyles. He pitched reasonably well in Lexington in 2009, going 8-13, but with a 4.20 ERA/1.31 WHIP. But things started to fall apart in 2010, when he had a 1.71 WHIP in 136.2IP, with 90K:42BB in 136.2IP, and in nine starts for Corpus in 2011, he allowed 58H/40ER, with just 28K:12BB in 38.2IP for a 9.31 ERA/1.81 WHIP, and eight homers allowed.

Who is this Blake King? He's a 24 year old RHP from Tulsa (same high school as Dallas Keuchel), drafted in the 44th Round of the 2005 draft by the Cardinals. In six seasons with the Cardinals, he's 25-24 with a 4.14 ERA/1.48 WHIP, with 511K:324BB in 428.2IP, averaging 10.7 K/9.

In 2010, he lit up Double-A Springfield, throwing 68IP - all in relief - and allowing 40H/22ER, with 84K:48BB (yes, more walks than hits allowed). But things just haven't got his way in 2011, where between AA/AAA, he has allowed 16H/18ER, 19K:24BB in 14.1IP for a robust 2.79 WHIP, after which he was placed on waivers.

Eddie's Farm: May 26

Oklahoma City (21-26)

Back and forth game between OKC and Fresno as the score went: 1-0 OKC, 1-1, 2-1 OKC, 4-2 Fresno, 5-4 OKC - and that was all by the middle of the 4th. Fresno then scored the next four runs for an 8-5 win over OKC. Sergio Perez threw 5IP, 7H/6ER, 5K:1BB, allowing 3HR. Andy Van Hekken allowed 3H/0ER in 1.1IP, and Ross Wolf allowed 2H/2ER, 2K:2BB with 2HR in 1.2IP.

Brandon Barnes is killing the ball, going 3x5 with two doubles and a triple with an RBI. In his last three games, Barnes is 6x12 with two doubles, a triple, and two homers. Tommy Manzella (2RBI, SB) and Jose Vallejo (RBI) each had two hits, and Robinson Cancel extended his hitting streak to 17 games was a 1x4, BB, RBI night.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes

Corpus (17-29)

Brutal loss for Corpus at Springfield last night as Xavier Cedeno took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. The Hooks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 9th, but Springfield got two back in the bottom half for the 2-1 win. Cedeno threw 7.2IP, 1H/0ER, 8K:5BB, WP, and didn't allow a ball in the air until Alan Ahmady lined out to 2B. Danny Meszaros was on the mound when Federico Hernandez caught a runner stealing at 3rd to end the inning. Patrick Urckfitz gave up a leadoff double, then a single, a groundout RBI, an intentional walk, and a walk-off single for the loss.

The Hooks only got five hits - Jimmy Paredes (2B), Jon Gaston (2B), Jimmy Van Ostrand (2B, BB), Cedeno, and a pinch-hit RBI from Everyone's Hero J.D. Martinez. T.J. Steele was 0x4 with 4Ks in the cleanup spot.

Man of the Match: Xavier Cedeno

Lancaster (19-28)

How do you respond to a 25-9 beatdown? By putting up five in the bottom of the first. Lancaster scored in every inning except the 6th for a 13-4 win over Rancho Cucamonga. Zach Grimmett threw 4.2IP, allowing 7H/2ER, 8K:2BB while Mike Ness got the win, allowing 3H/2R (0ER), 2K:0BB in 4IP of relief. Wander Alvino was on the mound for the last out of the game.

This will take a while. Grant Hogue was 4x5 with 2RBI, while Johnathan Villar (2B, HR, RBI), Jose Altuve (now hitting .403), Jonathan Meyer (2B, HR, RBI), and Ben Heath (2B) all had three hits each. Jay Austin (BB), Kody Hinze (BB, 2RBI), and Jose Carlos Thompson (HR, RBI) had two hits each. Austin Wates was the only player with just one hit, and it was a double.

Man of the Match: Grant Hogue.

Lexington (24-23)

Lexington had a 7-0 lead going into the 6th, but watched that evaporate by the end of the 7th before getting three back in the bottom of the 8th for a 10-8 win over Rome. Tanner Bushue threw 3IP in his return from the DL, allowing 1H/0ER, 4K:2BB. Luis Cruz gave up 5H/3ER in 3IP. Garrett Bullock allowed 2H/3ER, 0K:1BB, with David Martinez letting both runners he inherited score, and Brian Streilein gave up a solo homer.

Jiovanni Mier (2B, BB, 3RBI), Adam Bailey (2B, BB, 2RBI), and Emilio King (2B) had three hits each, while Chris Wallace was 2x5 with an RBI. Delino DeShields was 1x4 with a walk, and was picked off of third base. The Legends were 8x13 w/RISP as they win their 5th straight to get over .500.

Man of the Match: Jiovanni Mier

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Virtual Ineptitude of the Astros helped a guy win $1m

Did you hear about MLB 2K11's contest where the first person to throw a perfect game won $1 million?

Yeah, it happened because Brian Kingrey - a music teacher from Hammond, Louisiana - used Roy Halladay to throw a perfect game against the Astros.

Why Houston?
"Halladay has this really mean slider that's incredible versus right-handed batters. I picked the Astros because they're really aggressive when they attack the ball, so they swing at a lot of pitches they probably shouldn't swing at, and the Astros have only two left-handed batters."

Jeebus. Artificial Intelligence is getting too scary.

According to an interview with GamePro, Kingrey's wife let him practice five hours a day for two weeks. 70 hours / $1,000,000 = $14,285/hour.

Here's a nice article on J.D. Martinez

MiLB has a nice article on (hopefully-) 2013 LF J.D. Martinez, where he addresses anyone critical of his fielding ability:

"Well when you get drafted in the later rounds like I did, it's always because the scouts see something they don't quite like. I'm not a five-tool guy, few are, but in no way am I going to drop balls out there. The Astros know I can play defense, and I've been working with Milt Thompson, our roving outfield instructor on my routes to fly balls. I'm confident that I can get to balls now, and the Astros have noticed I've improved out there."

Honestly, who wouldn't rather see J.D. Martinez than Carlos Lee in LF?

More Tranzactionz!

May 25

Sent Down:
David Berner, from Corpus to Lancaster.
Luis Cruz, from Lancaster to Lexington.
Jordan Comadena, from Lancaster to Tri-City.

Brought Up:
Bryce Lane, from Lexington to Lancaster

Chris Hicks, by Lancaster, from 7-Day DL.

Eddie's Farm: May 25

Oklahoma City (21-25)

Jordan Lyles did what he does and Brandon Barnes came up huge as OKC beat Fresno 5-1. Lyles allowed 4H/0ER, 1K:1BB in 6IP to improve to 3-3. Francis Beltran threw 1IP, 1H/1ER, 1K:1BB, 1HR in his OKC debut. Fernando Abad threw 1.1 perfect IP, and Ross Wolf got the last two outs of the night.

Brandon Barnes was 2x4 with 2HR/3RBI, Robinson Cancel was 2x4 with a solo homer to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. Drew Locke and Tommy Manzella were each 2x4 as the RedHawks beat up on former Astros minor-leaguer Shane Loux for 9H/4ER in 7IP.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes!

Corpus (17-28)

Oof. Springfield jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the 1st inning, and Corpus made a run at it, closing the lead to 6-4 before the Cardinals rattled off two straight 3-run innings for a 12-6 win over Corpus. Kyle Greenwalt allowed 7H/6ER, 1K:1BB, throwing 30 pitches and recording just one out. Shane Wolf allowed 8H/6ER, 1K:1BB, 3HR in 4IP of "relief," while Arcenio Leon, Matt Nevarez, and Sam Gervacio made scoreless outings.

Jimmy Paredes and Jimmy Van Ostrand each had two hits, with a double and an RBI, while Jake Goebbert hit his 3rd homer for Corpus. Federico Hernandez was 1x4 with a double and 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Jeez. How about splitting it between Paredes and Van Ostrand?

Lancaster (18-28)

Good Lord. Rancho Cucamonga put up 25 runs for a 25-9 win over Lancaster. Before we get into The Ugly, Rancho Cucamonga got out to a 10-0 lead before the JetHawks answered with a 5-run 7th inning. Then the Quakes got 15 more runs, including eleven runs in the top of the 9th. They "only" had 19 hits, but nine of those were for extra bases (three doubles, two triples, and five homers). Of those 25 runs, 19 were actually earned, and JetHawks pitchers walked 13 Quakes batters. Let's do this:

Jose Cisnero: 4.1IP, 5H/4R (3ER), 2K:3BB
Our Boy Andrew Robinson: 1.2IP, 1H/1R (0ER), 2K:0BB
David Berner: 0.2IP, 2H/5R (1ER), 0K:2BB, HR
Yordany Ramirez: 0.2IP, 2H/4ER, 1K:5BB, HR
Chris Hicks: 1IP, 4H/3ER, 1K:1BB, HR
Kirk Clark: 0.2IP, 5H/8ER, 1K:2BB, 2HR, WP

Jonathan Villar hit a grand slam in the 7th, and Ben Heath added another homer in the 9th. Jose Altuve was 3x5 with a triple, while Austin Wates, Kody Hinze, and Grant Hogue had two hits each.

Man of the Match: How about Jose Altuve (though Andrew Robinson gets a special mention for being the only pitcher to not give up an earned run).

Lexington (23-23)

Lexington won a slug-fest over Rome, 15-10, aided by four Rome errors. Ruben Alaniz threw 4IP, 5H/8ER, 5K:1BB, 2HR. Juri Perez allowed 2H/2ER, 0K:1BB without recording an out. Alex Sogard got the win with 3H/0ER, 2K:0BB in 3IP, and Jason Chowning struck out five of the six batters he faced.

Mike Kvasnicka was 3x4 with a 2-run homer, two walks, and 4RBI. Delino DeShields (BB, 3B, 2RBI), Jiovanni Mier (2RBI, BB), Dan Adamson (RBI, 2BB), and Jhonny Medrano (2B, 2RBI, BBB) had two hits each. Chris Wallace, amazingly, went 0x6.

Man of the Match: Mike Kvasnicka!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From the Office of the County Clerk - G50: Astros v. Dodgers

J.R. Towles gets three of the unlikeliest hits you'll see this season (unless your name is Hall, Bill) and the Astros win 2-1.

*With the win, the Astros now have a record over .500 against two teams: The Dodgers and Blue Jays.

*In ten rubber matches, the Astros are now 3-7 (two straight rubber match wins).

*When scoring 0-2 runs, the Astros are now 3-12.

*Here's an interesting one: When the game is tied at the beginning of the 9th, the Astros are now 5-0.

*Aneury Rodriguez threw another nice game - his second in a row - going 6IP, 4H/01ER, 5K:1BB, with the lone run coming on Matt Kemp's 12th homer of the season. It's the first time he's lasted 18 outs this season.

*The Aneurysm's 96 pitches (59 strikes) are both career highs. In his last 11.1IP (two starts), he's has allowed 12H/3ER, 8K:2BB. His ERA is under 5.00 - 4.98, to be exact - for the first time in his ML career.

*Wilton Lopez, Jeff Fulchino, and Mark Melancon combined for 3IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:2BB.

*With the three scoreless IPs, the bullpen has now gone 12.1IP without allowing a run.

*Mark Melancon got your win, giving him four on the year, which just so happens to be your team leader.

*The Big Bat of the Day comes courtesy of J.R. Towles (who was thrown out at the plate to end the 7th inning), who clocked three hits, including a double. His 35 PAs without a hit are well documented - with Towles getting his first hit since the first PA against Cincinnati all the way back on May 4. In those 10 games between hits, Towles' OPS dropped 449 points, from 1.076 to .627. With today's game, the OPS jumped 60 points.

*Carlos Lee had two hits on the day - giving him hits in 16 of his last 19 games.

*Hunter Pence was 1x4, extending his hitting streak to seven games, but breaking that 2-hit game streak at six.

*Michael Bourn hit a homer! It was the first leadoff homer of his career, and the first leadoff homer for Houston since Kaz Matsui's HR September 23, 2008. Not only that, but that was also the first homer Bourn has hit in his career on the first pitch of an AB. He's only 52 homers behind Craig Biggio for game-beginning HRs.

*Bill Hall K watch! Hall was 0x4 with 2Ks. Hall pulls within 3Ks of Ryan Howard for the NL lead, and is seven behind Adam Dunn for 7th in all of baseball. With those 2Ks, he has now broken the 35% barrier - striking out in 35.1% of his PAs.

*Brett Wallace got his 8th start against a lefty starter. In three PAs against Ted Lilly, Wallace grounded out to 2nd twice, and the pitcher once. He's 41x123 against righty starters, and 7x32 against lefty starters.

*Chris Johnson actually got intentionally walked for the first time this season. He had gone 27 PAs without a walk, since May 18. It was his first IBB since August 16, 2010 against the Mets.

*Not that there's going to be any comparison in this space, but it should be pointed out that Hunter Pence saw five pitches. In 4 PAs. The Dodgers had 7 ABs of 6+ pitches this game.

*Man of the Match: Come on. J.R. Towles!

*Goat of the Game: No Goats on walkoffs.

Keppinger activated, Bogusevic sent down

Everyone hoping that this would be the day Bill Hall was released can just calm down. With Keppinger's activation, Brian Bogusevic has been sent back to Oklahoma City. Minutes after scoring the game-winning run.

Pellegrini speaks!

On the heels of Brian Pellegrini's release today, he was kind enough to reply:

It's all good man I actually asked for my release, the knee isn't comin around.

Best of luck to him in the future.

Live Chat!

Astros release Pellegrini

Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted that the Astros released Brian Pellegrini.

Pellegrini was a 12th Round pick in the 07 draft - Eddy notes that he was the highest-drafted player in St. Bonaventure's history. When healthy, Pellegrini swung a big bat, breaking out for 34 homers in 2009 between Lexington and Lancaster. But that was the problem - health. He missed most of the last two seasons with various injuries, needing to have his knee cleaned out back in December.

In four seasons with the Astros' organization, Pellegrini hit .254/.358/.525 with 71 career homers.

Live Chat at 3pm!

Join us, won't you? for a live chat at 3pm Central time. Right here.

Pre-Draft workout to be held next week

The Astros are holding their pre-draft workout on June 2, though Ed Wade admits there's not a whole lot in the way of decision making to be done:

"The lion's share of the work that's done with regard to evaluating talent, that's already been handled by the tons of looks our guys get over the course of the entire year. I think at this point, we've entered well over 600 players in our system and we've got over 1,700 reports on players."

Meat Wagon Updates!

Steve Campbell says that Brandon Lyon is progressing through his injuries:

I don’t feel too bad at all. My arm, compared to two weeks ago, feels good. I feel it’s time to build up strength again. I’ll come in every day and see how it feels. I feel really good.”

There isn't a timetable for when he'll start to get ready to get back into blowing games shape.

And it looks as though Keppinger could return on Friday.

"I'm optimistic by the weekend he'll be back. We asked him to extend his stay at Oklahoma City to get back-to-back games under his belt. If everything moves in a straight line, we're looking at Friday or Saturday."

Eddie's Farm: May 24

Oklahoma City (20-25)

OKC jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the 1st inning, and bookended it with two runs in the top of the 9th for a 5-2 win at Fresno. Nelson Figueroa threw 6.2IP, 7H/2ER, 5K:3BB. Andy Van Hekken threw 1IP, 2H/0ER, and David Carpenter got his second save for OKC with 1.1IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB.

Robinson Cancel was 2x4, and Koby Clemens was 2x4 with a double and 2RBI. Brandon Barnes was 1x3 with a walk and 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens!

Corpus (17-27)


Lancaster (18-27)


Lexington (22-23)


From the Office of the County Clerk - G49: Astros v. Dodgers

Hey, Bill Hall. Way to kill some momentum. Astros lose 5-4.

*With the loss, the Astros drop to 18-31, 11.5 games back of the Cardinals, setting a season high for GBs. They were 11.5 GB after 47 games in 2010.

*Bill Hall's booted a Matt Kemp grounder, allowing the bases to get all loaded up, which accounted for four unearned runs, thanks to Jerry Sands' 3rd inning grand slam.

*Happ has now given up two grand slams in his career - the first coming on October 2, 2010, against Aramis Ramirez. Interestingly enough, the only times in which Happ has given up a homer with a runner on 3rd were the two grand slams.

*Happ's final line: 5IP, 3H/5R (1ER), 4K:2BB, 2HR. He has given up homers in his last three starts, and has given up 2HR in three starts this season. This start snaps a four start streak in which Happ had gotten at least 18 outs.

*Both of the homers Happ allowed came after Happ fell behind to a 2-0 count. After throwing a first-pitch strike to five straight batters in the 2nd/3rd inning, Happ threw a first-pitch ball to five batters, four of whom scored on Sands' grand slam.

*A bullpen of Del Rosario, Escalona, and Lopez combined for 4IP, 3H/0ER, 7K:1BB, extending the bullpen's scoreless streak to 9.1IP. In the last four games, the bullpen has thrown 10.1IP, 8H/1ER, 12K:3BB.

*The Astros did mount a comeback, getting three runs back in the bottom of the 3rd. Quintero flied out and Happ struck out to start the inning, and then the next four batters reached base: Bourn walked, Barmes singles, Pence doubled (Bourn scored), Lee singled (Barmes and Pence scored). Wallace struck out to end the inning. To focus on the most negative thing, Wallace's OPS with two outs is .622. That's 125 points lower than his OPS with one out (.747), and 489 points lower than his OPS with nobody out (1.111).

*The 6-9 hitters (including Happ and PHs Sanchez, Downs, and Bogusevic) went 0x13 with 6Ks, though Johnson got a sac fly scoring the Astros' 4th run.

*Hunter Pence extending his two-hit game streak to six games, and has raised his OPS 43 points in those six games (.778 to .821).

*In addition to Hall's critical error, he went 0x4 with 3Ks. It's his 7th 3K game of the year, giving him 52Ks in 150 PAs (34.7%) on the year. The 52Ks are exactly half of his 2010 total, which he got in 382 PAs (27.2%), and still a higher rate than his career-high 32.9% in 2009. Hall is 5K behind Ryan Howard for the NL lead in strikeouts, but is also 41ABs behind him.

*Man of the Match: Hunter Pence

*Goat of the Game: Bill Hall, of course.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jayson Stark on the Astros

Jayson Stark's new column takes on the Astros and their situation come July:

If we had to pick one club in baseball that has the look of a sure-fire seller in July, we'd pick the Astros. But there are two things to remember: 1) As GM Ed Wade pointed out, the Astros actually have a better record this year (18-30) than they had in late May last year (17-34) -- and last year's team went 59-52 the rest of the way. 2) Until the Astros' sale to Jim Crane is approved (most likely sometime in July), Wade can't even have a conversation with the new owner about his philosophy on team-building.

But at a time in which his club is obviously rebuilding, Wade says he expects to take the same approach this July that he took last July: "Anything that builds the type of depth that will get us where we need to be, it would make sense to explore."

Stark notes that Other Clubs believe Wade would "gladly listen" on Myers, Wandy, Barmes, and Hall. Only two of those guys are having seasons worth giving up more than a jock strap's worth of hamster cage shavings for, and I'll let you figure out the two.

And on Hunter Pence, noting that the Braves, Phillies, and Orioles are interested him?
An executive of a fourth club says he believes there's a "1 million percent chance" Wade would need, essentially, a job-saving haul in return to even consider trading Pence.

"If you're Jim Crane walking in the door," the exec wondered, "how can you trade the one guy on your team who represents that part of Texas -- a blue-collar, hard-nosed player?"

Stark later notes that the Phillies are telling teams they can only really afford what amounts to half of Pence's $6.9m salary.

What say you?

Good breakdown of Norris

Steve Campbell has a good breakdown of how close Bud Norris is to being something special:

FanGraphs calculates Norris’ slider to be the most effective in the NL (12.9 runs better than the league average). What has gotten Norris in trouble this season is mistakes with his fastball and changeup. FanGraphs ranks Norris dead last in the NL in changeup effectiveness (minus-5.6 runs) and in the bottom five with the fastball (minus-6.7). Cleaning up those things is easier said than done, but Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has to love his chances of that happening.

USA Today thinks that Chris Johnson would make a fine RedHawk

USA Today has a list of players they believe should join Reds' Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez in Triple-A. Chris Johnson is one of them:

His strong rookie season-aafeaturing a .308 batting average and .818 OPS-aafostered the notion he might be one of the foundations for the rebuilding of the Astros. But Johnson’s sophomore year has been a huge disappointment, as his averaged has dropped nearly 90 points to .220. He’s walking just once every 32 plate appearances, which doesn’t help his case for staying in the majors.

Here's the question: And replace him with who(m)? Matt Downs has played some 3B, and has a .320/.346/.680 line (in 26 PAs). If you're looking at Triple-A, stop doing that. Oswaldo Navarro has seen 27 games at 3B and has a .708 OPS.

Crawfish Boxes on J.A. Happ

TCB has a good look at J.A. Happ in this piece.

Dave Matranga is now an agent

Hey! Here's a Where Are They Now on former Astro Dave Matranga:

Matranga's playing days ended after a dozen years of professional baseball but he seized on an opportunity to remain involved in the game, becoming a certified agent for PSI Sports Management. The move into advising and representing players was an easy and logical career segue for Matranga. As a former client, he already had an established relationship with PSI and had in fact discussed working with the firm while he was still playing. The job demands as a sports agent were also a perfect fit for his personality.

Justice: Selig and Crane - BFFs

Richard Justice has a new post on the relationship between Jim Crane and Bud Selig:

Selig met Crane for just the second time Monday and is expected to support his $680 million purchase of the Astros. Selig already knew plenty about Crane before their meeting and never would have allowed the sale of the Astros to get this far if he weren’t comfortable with him.

I’ve known Selig for almost 30 years, and if he thought there was an ounce of racism or sexism in Crane’s bones, he never would allow him to own a major league baseball team.

Fixler says goodbye

Mike Tauser invited Jon Fixler to write a farewell piece over at the Chronicle.


May 24:
Brian McTaggart notes that Sam Gervacio has been activated and assigned to Double-A. Henry Villar has been placed on OKC's DL with shoulder fatigue.

May 23:
Lancaster placed Robby Donovan on the 7-Day DL

May 20:
Corpus activated J.D. Martinez from the DL.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G48: Astros v. Dodgers

To be honest, the Astros are 3-1 since I last did a County Clerk report. I'm tempted to not do them anymore and see what happens. Astros win on a walk-off, 4-3.

*As mentioned, the Astros are 3-1 after the L5 streak from May 15-19.

*For the four games against the Braves and Cardinals, the Astros did not score more than two runs. They've now scored 3+ runs in their last four games. Is it a lot of runs? No. But they're wins.

*The Astros have won back-to-back games for the first time since May 1/3, against the Brewers and Reds. It's only their 3rd win streak of the season.

*Bud Norris threw 7IP, 6H/3R (2ER), 5K:3BB. He now has a perfect 3.00 K:BB ratio (69K:23BB) on the year, and has gotten 18+_outs in eight of his ten starts. He's gotten 21+ outs in four of his last five starts.

*Jeff Fulchino threw 1.2IP, walking one batter. Since his Brian McMeltdown on May 17, he's thrown in two games (2.2IP), with 1H/0ER, 2K:1BB.

*So of course the Astros got three runs in the 9th inning with a Hunter Pence walk-off. Those three runs are the most the Astros have scored in the 9th inning this season, and it was the first time in 28 games this season that the Astros have won when trailing at the beginning of the 9th inning.

*Bill Hall had a big day, going 4x4 with two doubles. That's the first 4-hit game Hall has enjoyed since June 3, 2010, when he got four hits against the A's. It was also Hall's first multi-XBH game of the season. He raised his batting average 23 points, and his OPS 54 points (.611 to .665).

*Hunter Pence was 2x5 with the GWRBI, and has had five straight 2-hit games, and had two hits in six of his last seven games.

*Houston had three doubles, giving them their first 3+ XBH game since May 15.

*The Astros did strike out 10 times last night. It's their 9th 10+K game of the season. Since May 1, the Astros have struck out 171 times in 794 PAs, for a 21.5% K/PA rate. They did, however, draw four walks, for 3+ walks in four straight games.

*Big AB of the Night: Angel Sanchez' 11-pitch walk in the 9th, establishing him as the game's tying run. It was the first pinch-hit walk he had drawn of the season, in addition to the first 9th inning walk of his career

*Clayton Kershaw got a Game Score of 65. It's the 6th time in the last eight games that the opposing starter has had a game score higher than 65.

*Man of the Match: Hunter Pence!

*Goat of the Game: I'm just happy. No Goat.

Morning Update

Okay. We know it's been a few days. But an unexpected weekend getaway (set up by The Constable's wife), a dental apocalypse, and just other plans have made the AC staff largely unavailable. Should be back up and running later this morning.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Brett Wallace likes it here's Shi Davidi had a chance to catch up with Brett Wallace, who was, of course, at one time a Blue Jay.

Wallace now believes he’s with a team that both wants him, and intends to keep him.

"I think it’s just finally having some stability, actually having a chance to finish out a season with a team and then come back to spring training with the same one, and break with that team. For me, that’s let me have fun and know the guys and just be calm because I don’t have to make new friends, make new teammates. I can just go back to same situation and be relaxed about it.

Now you don't even have to wait in lines to get food at Minute Maid

The Houston Business Journal has an interesting note on a new feature at Minute Maid Park - the first in MLB - where fans with iPhones can order their food from their seat and have a text message sent to them when it's ready.

The Braves like themselves some Hunter Pence

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien says that Hunter Pence has been on the Braves' radar for a while (Though they're likely out, unless Heyward's injury gets worse).

This is in addition to Rivers McCown's note via Nick Cafardo that the Yankees are likely interested in Brett Myers.

Could be a different looking fall for the Astros...