Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pence out with hyperextended elbow

Hunter Pence is not in the lineup tonight thanks to a hyperextended elbow, suffered in last night's win.

Update: Pence is flying back to Houston to have an MRI on said elbow.

If Jim Crane doesn't get approved, he has Forbes to thank

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers has a note on Jim Crane's prospective purchase of the Astros:

Crane still appears on track to be approved as the Astros' new owner. However, one source said Major League Baseball staffers are investigating one allegation raised in the story, with an outside chance it could complicate the transfer.

MLB long ago vetted Crane, who was involved in attempts to purchase the Cubs and Rangers, and excused him in almost all of the cases Forbes raises. But at least one element of the story surprised Selig's staff, requiring additional legwork.

The source denied Crane is under additional scrutiny because of the troubles of the Dodgers' Frank McCourt and Chuck Greenberg, whom Nolan Ryan and their other partners bought out within his first year of owning the Rangers.

Astros sign Lambson

According to Stephen Goff, the Astros signed 19th Round pick Mitchell Lambson out of Arizona State.

Jean Segura vs. Jose Altuve

Baseball America's Jim Callis responded to someone else's tweet, asking, who's better: the Angels' Jean Segura, or the Astros' Jose Altuve.

His response:
Segura. Not close, despite the little guy's numbers.

Of course, we disagree. But let's take us a gander, eh?

Jean Segura is 21 years old, BA's #57-ranked prospect, pre-2011, and a SS/2B playing in the Angels' Cal League team in Inland Empire.

So far, in 37 games for Inland Empire, he's hitting .276/.343/.428. In his five-season career, he's hitting .315/.372/.446, with 143K:99BB (1.44 K:BB ratio), with 47 doubles, 22 triples, 18 homers.


Jose Altuve (also 21 years old), in 52 games at Lancaster, hit .408/.451/.606. Combine that, with his 16 games at Double-A Corpus (where he's hitting .394/.420/.712), and he's hitting .405/.444/.631 in 2011. So maybe you're still unimpressed. In the same five-season span as Segura, Altuve is hitting .326/.387/.483, also with 166K:133BB (1.25 K:BB ratio), with 85 doubles, 24 triples, and 28 homers.

So it's safe to say that we will disagree with Callis. If we take defense into account, Altuve has a lifetime .969 Fld% at 2B, committing 49 errors in 1597 chances. Segura has a lifetime .971 Fld% at 2B, with 32 errors in 1094 chances.

Not sure what criteria there is that would make this "not even close," but we call bullcrap.

And we welcome the return of 'Cats Corner

Good to see Kevin Whitaker back with the ValleyCats for 2011. His Cats Corner blog is the best in minor-league baseball, and he has first impressions of the 1st game of the season:

One game is certainly not indicative of anything, but I do think the outfield defense has a chance to be very good this year. Meredith is not the fleetest of foot in left, though he wasn’t tested today, but Muren and Gominsky looked like good defenders, and Kellen Kiilsgaard and Muren both have great arms.

Click the link for other observations.

Steve Greenberg dismisses Crane allegations

Steve Greenberg, the guy who arranged the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane, is dismissive of the allegations against Eagle, and by extension, Jim Crane.

Steve Greenberg, McLane’s adviser on the sale, said he was not aware of anything that “would in any way be a concern to us with respect to approval, but we’ll leave Major League Baseball to do their work.” He added, “The last thing I need is to bring a guy to baseball who will be rejected or have serious problems.”

Eddie's Farm: June 17

Oklahoma City (29-40)

Good God. New Orleans got a 7-run 2nd and a 6-run 6th on their way to an 18-5 win over OKC. This might have spelled the end of Ryan Rowland-Smith's Astros spell, allowing 5.1IP, 13H/14R (9ER), 2K:4BB, HBP - getting 16 outs against 35 batters faced. Danny Meszaros allowed 5H/3ER, 0K:1BB in 1IP, while Pat Urckfitz gave up 2H/1ER in 1.2IP (16.88 ERA). Brian Esposito made his 2nd pitching appearance, again allowing no hits in 1IP.

Robinson Cancel (2B, SB, RBI), Tommy Manzella (3-run HR), and Collin DeLome (2B) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Tommy Manzella

Corpus (24-42)

Corpus got out to a 4-1 lead after five innings, but gave it right back for a 5-4 loss to Frisco. Three errors didn't help as Xavier Cedeno threw 6IP, 5H/4R (0ER), 7K:1BB. Arcenio Leon struck out two in one perfect IP. New Hook Brad Hennessey took the loss, giving up the game-winning solo homer, and Henry Villar threw a perfect IP.

Jimmy Van Ostrand was 3x4 hit a double and a two-run homer, while Jose Altuve hit his 3rd homer with another single, and J.D. Martinez was 2x4. Jonathan Villar committed two errors and struck out three times.

Man of the Match: Jimmy Van Ostrand

Lancaster (27-40)

Early runs are nice, and Lancaster used five of them to go on to a 7-3 win over Inland Empire. Zach Grimmett got the win, allowing 10H/3R (2ER), 1K:0BB. Chris Hicks gave up a hit, and Kirk Clark allowed 0H/0ER.

Kody Hinze was 2x4 with two homers and 3RBI (18th and 19th homers), with a walk. Austin Wates was 2x5, and David Flores hit his first homer of the year.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze

Lexington (33-35)

Lexington never trailed in a 4-2 win over Rome. Carlos Quevedo allowed 7H/1ER, 3K:0BB in 7IP; Jason Chowning gave up 3H/1ER, 0K:1BB in 1IP, and Gabe Garcia allowed 2H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 1IP. (Rome starter Caleb Brewer threw four wild pitches).

Jordan Scott was 2x4, Adam Bailey was 1x4 with 2RBI, while Mike Kvasnicka and Enrique Hernandez had a hit and a walk each.

Man of the Match: Carlos Quevedo

Tri-City (0-1)

Tri-City opened 2011 with a 9-3 loss at home to Vermont. Juri Perez got the start, and gave up 3H/5R (4ER), 4K:4BB in 4IP. Brad James made a rare appearance, giving up a hit in 1IP. Kristian Bueno gave up 1H/1R (0ER), 1K:2BB in 1.2IP; Joan Belliard gave up 2H/3R (0ER) in 1.1IP, and Garrett Bullock threw 1IP, with 0H/0ER, 1K:0BB. Perhaps you noticed the unearned runs. The ValleyCats committed five errors (three by pitchers), leading to five unearned runs.

Drew Muren (2B, RBI) and Matt Duffy had two hits each. John Hinson got a triple and a walk, and Bubby Williams had your other extra-base hit with a double (and three strikeouts).

Man of the Match: Drew Muren

From the Office of the County Clerk - G71: Astros @ Dodgers

A five-run 6th would certainly put most normal fans at ease, but we are not normal fans, so the Dodgers' mini-rally in the 9th made us vomit. Still, Astros win 7-3.

*Brett Myers threw 9IP, 4H/3R (2ER), 6K:1BB - giving up two runs on an Andre Ethier 9th inning homer. It's Myers' 3rd CG as an Astro, and his first since July 27, 2010 against the Cubs. It's also the Astros' 1st CG of the year, leaving the Cubs and the Padres as the only NL teams without a complete game.

*In four June starts (28IP), Myers has allowed 18H/12ER, 19K:5BB, 5HR, and opponents are hitting .180/.217/.340. This is much better than his May, where in 30IP, he allowed 40H/23ER, 24K:13BB, and 6HR.

*The offense went off for 11 hits, and the five runs in the 6th inning mark a tie for the 2nd-most runs in an inning by the Astros this season. In the last three games (1-2), though, they have 15K:12BB.

*Don't look now, but Carlos Lee is climbing back towards some semblance of respectability. After a 3x5 night, he's hitting .273/.322/.409.

*Clint Barmes went 2x4 with two doubles and 2RBI. His last three hits have been doubles, and he has three RBIs. The interesting thing about Barmes is that he has drawn two walks this month - 63 PAs. He still has 32K:16BB, but hasn't drawn a walk in 45 PAs.

*Jason Bourgeois was 2x5 with a stolen base (his 17th), and - in a limited sample size - is looking like a suitable replacement for Michael Bourn, should he do what we all expect and let Scott Boras ship him off to the East Coast. Bourgeois is hitting .378/.403/.459, with 17SBs in 19 attempts.

*Congrats to Brett Wallace, who got his 10th hit off of a left-handed starter, and drew two walks. He leads the team with a .407 OBP - his 32 walks leading the team, four more than Michael Bourn, but in 55 fewer PAs.

*Man of the Match: Lots of nominees, but let's go with Brett Myers, who overcame the heartache of losing Arnsberg to throw the CG.

*Goat of the Game: Let's go with Jeff Keppinger, who - despite getting a hit - was 0x3 w/RISP.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lyon apparently did not know that he started to become a lefty

In an updated Chronicle story on Brandon Lyon, we see just how extensive his biceps injury is:

The problems, Lyon said, have persisted for about a year and a half. He said he has reached the point where he subconsciously does things left-handed that he normally would have done right-handed to avoid pain.

I can relate. The problems with my English have become so dire that I subconsciously began speaking in French. C'est la vie.

Astros looking to trade Keppinger, Myers

With a captip to MLBTR,'s Bill Ladson heard in Washington that the Astros are looking to trade Keppinger and Myers (though the Nationals aren't likely interested). More on this later.

Lyon "likely" needs surgery

Brandon Lyon looks like he's headed for season-ending surgery for his biceps tendon.

Alyson Footer says that:
Brandon Lyon was examined by Dr. Yocum today and he agreed with Dr. Lintner's earlier diagnosis. Surgery likely. Not scheduled yet.

I feel bad for Lyon. I really do. It's been obvious for some time that Lyon hasn't been right, basically since Opening Day. But it's worth it to try to salvage his contract for next year, both in terms of how much he'll get paid next year, and how much he should get paid not to pitch this year.

Jayson Stark: Screw you, Jim Crane, and your $680 million

Jayson Stark's new Rumblings & Grumblings engages in a conversation with Buster Olney about realignment:

I think there's only one candidate to switch -- the Astros. Three reasons: 1) It's those mandatory interleague-rivalry games between the Astros and Rangers that guarantee the interleague schedules are all out of whack. 2) If you move a team from any other NL division to the AL, it means you have to start shifting around clubs in other divisions, too, to balance it out. And 3) every existing owner has the right to veto a move, and almost certainly would block it. So the only place baseball has leverage is in Houston, where they can make moving a condition of the purchase. That isn't too fair to Jim Crane, but that's the deal.

So who's grumbling in Houston?

In Tom Verducci's new column on realignment, we see that some NL Central owners have been a little fussy about playing in a six-team division:

NL Central owners privately have been complaining for years about the inequity of playing in a six-team division (as opposed to only four teams in the AL West), and that grumbling has increased with the ownership change in Houston. The Astros have no natural or regional rival within their division -- just as the Rangers have no such rival in the AL West. Pairing them in a division makes sense.

What's unclear is just whom is doing the grumbling? The other five owners, or the Whooping Cranes?

Help us identify this horrible woman

Courtesy of CBS Houston and 610 Sports Radio we get this video:

If you know her, let us know, so that we can start her extradition to Arlington. And if you know the sad sack of dog crap who high-fived her, you'll get bonus points, and a villa in the Hamptons with a chance to eat a pretentious lunch with Ina Garten.

Worth pointing out, the little girl was delivered a baseball.

Not being drafted can have an impact on your psyche

The Albany Times-Union has an article on Tri-City's undrafted players, such as Neiko Johnson, Garrett Bullock, and Ryan McCurdy.

"That kind of makes you want to work harder just to show you're really good. You could have been drafted, but it didn't happen. You still have the opportunity."

"They (the teams) don't have nearly as much invested in you, so in the game and off-the-field stuff, you definitely have to be beyond and above everybody else to move up,"

It won't be a problem, says manager Stubby Clapp:
"Everybody's going to get an opportunity here. When his number is called, I hope he performs."

4th Round pick Chris Lee has a compelling story

...And you can read it here.

Eddie's Farm: June 16

Oklahoma City (29-39)

Despite only getting out-hit 15-11, OKC dropped last night's game to Albuquerque 8-2, with the Isotopes getting five runs in the final two innings. Sergio Perez threw 5.2IP, 8H/3ER, 4K:3BB to get the loss, while Ross Wolf only allowed a hit in 1.1IP. Patrick Urckfitz got the Welcome to Triple-A, allowing 4H/4ER, 0K:2BB in his OKC debut, while Danny Meszaros allowed 2H/1ER, 2K:1BB in 1IP.

Anderson Hernandez (RBI) and Robinson Cancel had two hits each. Koby Clemens was 0x2, but with 2BB, and pitcher Sergio Perez got himself a triple. Tommy Manzella was 1x4 with a walk.

Man of the Match: Sergio Perez

Corpus (24-41)

Corpus got three runs in the 7th to top Frisco 5-2. Erick Abreu threw 7IP, 3H/1ER, 7K:1BB with the lone ER coming on a solo homer. Bryce King allowed 1H/1ER, 0K:1BB in 1IP, and Kyle Greenwalt got the save, striking out two of the final three batters.

Jimmy Paredes (2B, 2RBI), Jose Altuve (2B, RBI), J.D. Martinez (RBI), and Jimmy Van Ostrand (RBI) had two hits each, as the Hooks were 6x9 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: Erick Abreu

Lancaster (26-40)

Inland Empire was up 13-0 by the middle of the 5th on their way to a 13-7 win over Lancaster. Jose Cisnero allowed 3H/6ER, 0K:3BB in 1.2IP; Wander Alvino allowed 2H/3R (1ER), 2K:1BB. Yordany Ramirez allowed 3H/4ER, 0K:3BB. Colton Pitkin allowed 2H/0ER, 3K:0BB in 2.2IP while David Berner got the last six outs, allowing one hit and one walk.

David Flores (BB) and Andy Simunic (2B, BB, 2RBI) had three hits each while Austin Wates (2RBI) and Grant Hogue (RBI) added two knocks each.

Man of the Match: Andy Simunic

Lexington (32-35)

Lexington only scored in one inning, but it was enough for a 2-0 win at Rome. Luis Cruz threw 5.1IP, 4H/0ER, 3K:1BB; Brian Streilein allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:1BB in 2.2IP, and Jorge De Leon walked one in the 9th, but got his 9th save of the year.

Mike Kvasnicka and Roberto Pena had two hits each, while Chris Wallace and Enrique Hernandez had your RBIs.

Man of the Match: Enrique Hernandez.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Courtesy of Zach Levine, the Astros have...

Released catcher Max Ramirez and infielder Brian Dopirak from OKC, and have promoted reliever Patrick Urckfitz from Corpus to OKC.

Wade wants Brocail all season long

Mark Berman says that the Astros want Doug Brocail to be pitching coach for the rest of the season, and then to re-evaluate.

"We told Doug we would like him to be the pitching coach for the remainder of the season and then we would reassess the situation at that point. This is not a two-week deal. I'm not out there looking for any one."

Probably because it's hard enough dealing with one owner, nevermind two.

Lyon to DL, Abad back up

Brandon Lyon was put back on the DL yesterday, and Fernando Abad was called up.

"There's definitely some issues in my shoulder right now, and [surgery] is definitely an option. I want to get a grasp on it, and talk to other people and get their opinions on it, and just move forward after I hear what they have to say."

Ed Wade:
"I talked to [manager] Brad Mills and [head athletic trainer] Nate Lucero last night after the game about whether we thought he was [OK] physically, and we had a chance to sit down with Brandon this afternoon and he admitted he still has discomfort in the biceps tendon. It doesn't make any sense for him to go out and try to be a hero. And with the way he's feeling right now, we're going to put him on the disabled list."

No, it doesn't make any sense to try to go out and be a hero, because he's not being a hero. He's being a Goat, and it's killing what little chance this team has of competing. The word that you might be thinking of is, "Gamer." We love it when a player plays hurt, and plays well. It's just that Lyon has been doing more of the former, and not the latter.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G69: Astros v. Pirates

Wow! I feel like I'm on an episode of Boiling Points, and MTV is watching me throughout the season, just waiting for me to explode. Astros blow it against the Pirates, 7-3.

*Houston had a 3-2 lead going into the 6th inning, marking the 19th blown lead of the season. When starting the 6th with a lead, the Astros are 17-11.

*J.A. Happ pitched decently enough - 5IP, 6H/2ER, 7K:4BB - with a fairly inefficient 108 pitches to get 15 outs.

*Here's an interesting stat. Last night, Happ struck out a batter to end the inning in all five innings. In 99PAs with 2 outs, Happ only had 17Ks all year.

*Happ has walked 4+ batters in five of 14 outings this season.

*Then the bullpen happened. Enerio Del Rosario allowed 3H/3R (2ER), 1K:0BB, allowing a double, single, single, fielder's choice (error), sac fly. Del Rosario has allowed earned runs in four of his last five games, and 2+ ER in three of those games.

*Fernando Rodriguez gave up a 2-run homer to Xavier Paul. It was his first homer of the year, and actually his first homer since May 15, 2009, when he hit a solo shot off of Chris Volstad - his first homer of his career.

*Aneury Rodriguez made his re-emergence from the bullpen, striking out two in 1.1IP. Those two strikeouts equaled his total in two of his eight starts.

*Mark Melancon allowed two hits, but no earned runs, giving him an eight-appearance ER-less streak. In his last ten games (10IP), he has allowed 8H/1ER, 11K:2BB.

*The offense just couldn't come up with a big hit, going 2x14 w/RISP (Pence was 0x3; Barmes, Towles, Lee, and Johnson were each 0x2). Bourn and Wallace were the only Astros with a hit w/RISP.

*Michael Bourn was 3x4 on the night. From the May 30 G54 @ Chicago, Bourn is hitting .343/.388/.492.

*Bourn also had two stolen bases, to give him 29 on the season. He didn't get his 29th stolen base in 2010 until his 89th game (July 20).

*Brett Wallace was 2x4 with another 2BB game. In his last three games, Wallace has five hits and four walks, with one strikeout. And Wallace's single to right in the 5th off Charlie Morton was the 100th hit of his major-league career.

*Hunter Pence also had two hits, going 2x5 with 2Ks. In his last seven games - while hitting .417 - has 6K:1BB.

*On this 2-7 homestand, the Astros are 13x89 (.146) with runners in scoring position.

*Man of the Match: Michael Bourn

*Goat of the Game: The Bullpen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ABC covers Lamothe

Here's some national coverage by ABC of the Astros drafting Buddy Lamothe, and the visit by area scout Rusty Pendergrass. Good stuff.

Anyone know if the Astros drafting Lamothe means they're covering his medical expenses?

An idea on how Astros fans can copy the Rangers

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that the Rangers will attempt to break a Guinness World Record for Most People Wearing Sunglasses at Night, against the Astros on Tuesday.

I hereby lobby Astros fans to try to break the record of Most Fans of Home Team Wearing Paper Bags Over Their Heads.

Telvin Nash to return in a week?

The Astros are tentatively targeting a June 22 return for Lexington slugger Telvin Nash, after having his hamate bone removed at the end of April/beginning of May.

ValleyCats announce roster

Here's your 2011 ValleyCats roster, courtesy of the ValleyCats themselves:


Joan Belliard
Travis Blankenship
Kristian Bueno
Garrett Bullock
Adam Champion
Ryan Cole
Dayan Diaz
Jonas Dufek
Kyle Hallock
Juri Perez
Euris Quezada
Ebert Rosario
Travis Smink
Nick Tropeano


Miles Hamblin
Ryan McCurdy
Bubby Williams


Matt Duffy
Jacke Healey
John Hinson
Nieko Johnson
Zach Johnson
Hector Rodriguez


Justin Gominsky
Kellen Kiilsgaard
Brandon Meredith
Drew Muren

Of these 28 players:

*10 were acquired via free agency
*11 were drafted in 2011
*5 were drafted in 2010
*2 were drafted in 2009


Sean Pendergast had Richard Justice on 1560 yesterday, and found this out:

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle, just after talking on the phone to Astros' employees involved in the decision, said on my radio show that Arnsberg's behavior and attitude over the last few weeks had become increasingly difficult for the club to deal with.

And it all came to a head in the dugout on Monday night when Arnsberg openly argued with Mills in front of the players. Behind closed doors, we might call that constructive conflict. In front of other employees, we call it insubordination.

Yeah. You can't do that.

Eddie's Farm: June 14

Oklahoma City (28-38)

Game 1: OKC gets a 4-hit shutout over Albuquerque to take Game 1. Wesley Wright got the start, giving up 1H/0ER, 3K:2BB in 4IP, while Danny Meszaros gave up 2H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 1.2IP for the win. Jose Valdez got his 4th save with 1H/0ER in 1.1IP.

The RedHawks gave former Astro Tim Redding his 7th loss of the season with seven hits from seven different players. Drew Locke had your only XBH - a double, and Oswaldo Navarro and Robinson Cancel both drew a walk in addition to a hit.

Man of the Match: Wesley Wright

Game 2: OKC never trailed, earning the sweep with a 5-3 win. Nelson Figueroa improved to 4-2 with 7H/3R (2ER), 7K:3BB in 5.1IP. Jeff Fulchino got hit in the hand on a comebacker after two pitches, and David Carpenter walked two in 1.1IP to close out the game and extend his scoreless streak to 14IP.

Brian Bogusevic was 2x4 with 2RBI, while Tommy Manzella was 1x2 with a walk and 2RBI. Brian Dopirak hit his 6th homer of the season. Wladimir Sutil was 1x2 with a walk, and is hitting .364/.417/.364 in six games since joining OKC.

Man of the Match: Brian Bogusevic

Corpus (23-40)

San Antonio got out to an early 5-0 lead, and just held on for a 7-3 win as Corpus loses its 40th game of the season. Ross Seaton allowed 8H/5ER, 1K:2BB, 2HR in 5IP; Arcenio Leon allowed 3H/2ER, 2K:3BB in 1.2IP. Sam Gervacio struck out two of the four batters he saw in a perfect outing.

Brandon Wikoff (RBI) and Jake Goebbert (2B, BB) had two hits each. T.J. Steele and Emerson Frostad added RBIs.

Man of the Match: Sam Gervacio

Lancaster (26-38)

Lake Elsinore answered a Lancaster three-run 3rd with four of their own, and won 6-4. Robby Donovan allowed 9H/6ER, 6K:2BB, 2HR in 5.1IP, while Mike Ness closed out the final eight outs with 2H/0ER, 0K:1BB.

Five JetHawks were responsible for five hits, with Jay Austin getting the lone XBH - a double. Jose Carlos Thompson's hit was worth 2RBI, while Austin Wates and Jonathan Meyer added a walk to their one hit. Kody Hinze was 0x3 with a walk and 3K.

Man of the Match: Uh. How about Erik Castro? 1x4 with an RBI, and the only JetHawk to not strikeout (15K for the JetHawks on the night).

Lexington (30-35)

Lexington jumped out to a 3-0 lead after four innings, and Mike Foltynewicz and the Legends beat Augusta for a 5-2 win, and Foltynewicz's 3rd win of the season. Foltynewicz allowed 8H/1ER, 0K:2BB in 6IP. David Martinez allowed 1H/1ER, 1K:0BB in 1.1IP, and Jason Chowning threw a perfect five-out outing.

Enrique Hernandez was 3x4 with a double, walk, and RBI; Mike Kvasnicka was 2x5 with two doubles, while Chris Wallace had an RBI triple. Other Legends getting on base twice: DeShields and Jordan Scott.

Man of the Match: Enrique Hernandez.

Maybe having Figueroa in OKC isn't such a bad thing

Ryan Aber has a nice piece on David Carpenter, and how he's become OKC's best reliever.

“Just being able to talk to those guys and ask them on a daily basis how to go about your business, what's the best way to attack this guy and just certain things in the clubhouse like etiquette and stuff like that and being able to pick their brains is very important. They've been doing this for awhile and having the opportunity to do that is only going to give me a chance to get better.”

Maury Brown lights up Houston media, says other MLB owners weren't aware of war profiteering

The Biz of Baseball's Maury Brown just took a flamethrower to the Houston media. (And it was pretty awesome).

With an expanded article on yesterday's Forbes piece, Maury Brown has some bones to pick:

The story on Forbes is mostly interesting for one thing: it’s amazing that myself, and Richard Sandomir of The New York Times are really the only two that have reported on past dealings with Crane’s global-supply chain company and their discrimination and war-profiteering pasts.

Sports sections in the Houston market have been devoid of the report. Whether it’s a matter of just feeling it was not newsworthy or not, it should be noted that Champion Energy, a Crane Capital company, and the Astros are very large Houston Chronicle advertisers.

Also, it's not necessarily the case that, because Crane was in advanced negotiations to buy the Astros, Cubs, and Rangers, MLB knows about these (pretty serious) charges:
I conducted several interviews with executives within Major League Baseball for the Forbes article. The issue of discrimination was known, but aspects such as the war profiteering, were not. That was concerning given Crane’s multiple attempts at ownership prior. The explanation was that deep due-diligence work does not begin until an exclusive arrangement is reached between owner and potential buyer. Part of the reasoning boiled down to clubs having control of vetting potential owners that could reach double-digits, beforehand. The league is really there to only make sure that the deal does not somehow place the club under extended debt duress, or that there is something so incredibly egregious that it would throw red flags with Commissioner Selig and the owners.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G68: Astros v. Pirates

They are Our Astros. And These Astros get blanked by the Pirates, 1-0.

*It's the 2nd time this season the Astros have been shutout. You have to go all the way back to July 18, 2010 to find the last time the Astros were shutout by the Pirates, when Paul Maholm beat Roy Oswalt in a 9-0 win.

*After going 11-4 against Pittsburgh in 2010, the Astros drop to 1-3 against the Pirates in 2011, losing their last three, and getting outscored 12-5.

*On this (now) eight-game homestand, the Astros are 2-6.

*Bud Norris threw a gem, allowing 6H/1ER, 9K:2BB in 7IP, and getting the loss. Since May 19, Norris has thrown 43IP, 26H/10ER, 26K:14BB.

*Norris had a Game Score of 68, and lost. It's the fourth time this season that an Astros starter has had a Game Score of 65 or higher and taken the loss (Wandy, Happ, Aneury, and now Norris).

*The bullpen of Del Rosario (0.1IP), Escalona (0.2IP), and Rodriguez (1IP) combined to allow 0H/0ER, 2K:3BB.

*The pitching staff, as a whole, held the Pirates to 1x11 w/RISP.

*The Astros "offense" got four hits on the night - all singles. It's the first time they've been held to four hits since Tommy Hanson's first lights-out game against the Astros, on May 16.

*Hunter Pence's 23-game hit streak came to an end, going 0x4 on the night, after flying out to right, flying out to center, flying out to center, and grounding out to 2nd in the bottom of the 9th.

*Your four hits came from the 4-7 spots (Lee, Keppinger, Wallace, and Johnson). Matt Downs drew the only walk of the night.

*It's hardly worth mentioning, but Jason Michael's 0x1 pinch-hit appearance drops him to 1x21 as a pinch-hitter (.048/.167/.048).

*That's about all I can muster.

*Man of the Match: Bud Norris

*Goat of the Game: Ed Wade

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Arguello placed on DL

That said, old buddy Brian McTaggart tweeted before the game that OKC pitcher Doug Arguello has been placed on the DL, right before he was scheduled to pitch.

All you sonsabitches are uneducated

If you thought that the philosophical difference had to do with Arnsberg developing pitchers, that would be uneducated.

Brad Arnsberg's dismissal had nothing to do with development of young pitchers. That's an uneducated guess for those thinking that.

I understand. I really do. And it is a private matter, but for a very public organization. So it's going to bring speculation, and not offering up an explanation - any explanation - it's only going to cause more speculation.

I once worked for an organization where an employee was dismissed, completely out of the blue, and leadership offered up nary an explanation. And by lunchtime, you would have thought that said employee had traded high-level government secrets for bags of brown skag. And then had sex in the library. With Vladimir Putin.

To say that anyone who speculates inaccurately on Arnsberg's dismissal, without providing anything other than vagaries, is missing the point. We all care about the Astros, and are trying to wrap our collective minds around why Arnsberg got dismissed. Call us uneducated? Then educate us.

/Steps off soapbox.

Sometimes, two people love each other, but they don't like each other, and they sometimes have to split up

Or so it seems for Brad Mills and Brad Arnsberg.

Ed Wade:
"It was not a case of a lack of competency or a lack of passion for what he does. It was a case of philosophical differences...This is not rattle the cage, jump start things, hope that this does whatever. It's a difference of opinion. There were philosophical differences that I didn't think were manageable at this point."

Keith Calkins says that Arnsberg could resurface with the Rangers

Fox26's Keith Calkins says that Brad Arnsberg could possibly come back up with the Rangers:

The two are believed to have a solid relationship and mutual respect. Arnsberg still lives in Arlington. And besides, once upon a time he saved Ryan’s 300th win.

Scioscia has heard nothing about eliminating divisions

While it may be inevitable that Somebody is moving to the American League, Mike Scioscia (who is on baseball's Special Committee for On-Field Matters) hasn't heard anything about the whole No Division thing:

"I haven't heard anything about eliminating divisions -- I don't think that works. I think divisional play and the geographical rivalries that come with it are important. More teams have opportunities to get to the playoffs in five-team divisions."

Press conference on Arnsberg

Alyson Footer is live-tweeting from the Arnsberg press conference, and has some quotes (joined together for your reading enjoyment).

"He developed a great rapport with each and every one of his pitchers. This is not about his ability to coach or communicate with his players. He got very high grades on both." Wade cites philosophical differences, declines to elaborate on specifics.

"Arnie has brought an awful lot to this ballclub. He's done a good job. To have to do something like this is kind of tough but at the same time, we're trying to create an atmosphere to accomplish things and make these guys successful." Mills also declined to get into specifics. "He's done a great job working with the pitchers and that's where it needs to stay."

So there was a whole lot of press conference where absolutely nothing was said. Not that you would expect such a key part of the coaching staff to get lambasted within six hours of being let go. This could go one of two ways:

(1) Potential hire-ees could appreciate not airing dirty laundry. Or
(2) Higher-profile replacements could be wary of taking a job where you can get canned for bad pitchers playing poorly.

Arnsberg and young arms

Stephen Goff's article on Arnsberg brings up some clues from his past as to why he was relieved.

Although Arnsberg was a vital part of the 2003 World Series championship team in Florida, learned that he got relieved of his duties following the team's successful year due to the organization not agreeing with the way he was developing the young arms.

This agrees with an interview Astros County conducted with Joanna from Hum and Chuck, a Blue Jays blog, in November 2009 - after Arnsberg had been hired by the Astros:

I probably don't pay enough attention to other teams, but there seemed to be an excessive amount of guys going under the knife and being generally injured. And not old, broken down guys. But I'm talking about kids. Off the top of my head, Shawn Marcum, BJ Ryan and Jesse Litsch had TJ under Arnsberg's watch. Dustin McGowan, who is insanely talented, has been injury plagued. He is diabetic, which contributes to his frailty. Ryan was released from the Jays after coming back from TJ as a shadow of his former self.

All of this might just be coincidence or just the guys, but it might also be conditioning. I can't find the data to back it up, but it seems a lot of guys were injured under his watch on the Marlins. I know for sure AJ had his Tommy John surgery in that time. So again, young guy breaking down.

Clues? We'll find out.

Keppinger sounds like a guy who's about to get traded

David Dalati's article on Jeff Keppinger shows us the Eeyore.

"I've been doing this with every team, battling my way in there to get an everyday job. I think that's what everybody in the big leagues wants to do, they want to play every day. Hopefully I can go out and have another solid year, do what I did last year, and maybe somebody will start to believe."

Jeez. That's bleak.

The surprising news about Arnsberg came as no surprise to Arnsberg

So now we know that the Astros can suck the life out of management, as well as their fans. Brian McTaggart got some reaction from Arnsberg about the Whole Deal:

“It was philosophical differences between a manager and a general manager and a pitching coach. I don’t want to get into the details. It’s just been kind of rearing its ugly head the last 2-3 weeks, and I guess they felt like they had to make a move for the betterment of the club and the staff. I take it like a man...

...The last couple of weeks have really been a bear for me going to the ballpark. I’m always a fun-loving, free-spirited guy and get along with pretty much everybody, and it just hasn’t been a whole lot of fun over the last two, three or four weeks. That’s not why I intended on staying in this game, and so as far as it being a surprise? I’d have to weigh on the side of no, not really.”

It'll be interesting to see what Wade has to say in less than three hours.

Key quotes about Arnsberg

How quickly things change, eh? Zach Levine put it best:

...Crazy turnaround after he was seen with reverence at end of last year.

Ed Wade, on November 1, 2009:
Brad's got great credentials. We were really excited when we found out he was available. There were some unresolved issues, and they gave him a chance to go out and look around, and he very quickly moved up to the top of our list, and we were able to bring it to closure. He has a lot of experience with young pitchers and veterans.

Chris Sampson, in April 2010:
With Arnsberg and Mills this year, they understand you can't run guys out there every single day and for multiple innings every single day and they're a lot easier to talk to. They want you to be completely honest with them and let them know how you feel because they don't want to run you out there if you're not feeling right. It's not going to help players, not going to help the team if you're not 100 percent. They do a great job with all of us, using everybody in the bullpen and getting everybody in games and getting them innings and do a great job of mixing it up. It's just a heck of a lot better atmosphere, and it's a lot of fun to play for them."

Wandy Rodriguez, May 2010:
I felt comfortable thanks to the early runs, and I say thank you to my teammates and to my pitching coach (Brad Arnsberg), too, because he helped me a lot with my mechanics. I used (his suggestions) today and I felt comfortable.”

Bud Norris, the next day:
...My arm slot has been really low. I've been letting the ball ride and getting a lot of movement on my fastball and not being able to control it. I've been staying back on my back leg and getting my arm up, and it's made a difference.”

Brett Myers, last September, crediting Arnsberg for his extension:
I didn't want to leave Arnie as much as he has done for me. He has had my back, let me be who I am and teach me stuff at the same time. It would be tough to leave him. I don't ever think I'd have the success I'm having now without him."

Bud Norris, last September:
The guy's here every day 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning doing scouting reports on every team, and we have such an in-depth scouting report before the game."

Ed Wade, on September 25, 2010:
"We are extremely pleased with the jobs that all of our coaches have done this year. Brad Mills has set a great tone and the coaches have worked hand-in-hand with Millsie to make sure that the structure works, that the players are well-prepared and that we are taking advantage of every opportunity to get better. They all are true professionals."

Doug Brocail, on March 17, 2011:
"I was listening to Arny and Burt Hooton the other day and I swear to God I left there going, 'Am I stupid?' I left there feeling like an idiot. When those two guys talk pitching, it's like sitting down and listening to Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn talk hitting."

Today, in WTF

Alyson Footer just casually dropped a bomb (right after tweeting about the next Social Media night):

The Astros have relieved pitching coach Brad Arnsberg of his duties. The reason for the decision is cited as "philosophical differences."

Trust me, there will be more. But for now we can just stand back, in shock.

Immediate update: Doug Brocail is interim-ly Arnsberg's replacement.

Ed Wade will address the media at 4:10pm (Central). Meanwhile Robert Flores has the best immediate response:
On bright side it appears #Astros at least HAVE a philosophy.

Skeletons in Crane's closet starting to fall out

Maury Brown, typically of the Biz of Baseball, has somewhat of an exposé on Jim Crane - baseball's most controversial (potential) owner.

The most troubling allegation is that of the war profiteering charges against Eagle Global Logistics. Brown:

In August 2006, Eagle paid $4 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice alleging that the company had inflated the costs of military shipments to Iraq. The company had allegedly added $0.50 for each kilogram of freight transported to Baghdad, war risk surcharges, on shipments from Dubai to Iraq from November 2003 to July 2004.

In June 2007, Eagle paid $300,000 to settle allegations of overcharging the government. Many details of the allegations are not available as civil records for the case prior to 2010 are sealed.

In November 2008, Eagle paid $750,000 to settle allegations of providing kickbacks in order to procure contracts. Many details of the allegations are not available as civil records for the case prior to 2010 are sealed.

The company was accused of conspiring with other shipping companies to price fix and overcharge the U.S. and British governments in the war effort. The Department of Justice ultimately agreed to stop pursuing the criminal charges against Eagle when Eagle fired its employees involved in the scheme, paid a $4,486,120.00 fine and agreed to cooperate in the government’s investigation. However, Chris Cahill, Eagle’s former regional VP in the Middle East and India, was jailed for 30 months beginning in August 2006, issued 2 years supervised release and a $10,000 fine (read the conviction).

Click the link for the full story, it's well worth it.

...But the Diamondbacks don't necessarily want to move

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic points out that, while President/CEO Derrick Hall said the Di'mondba''s would explore it, if asked, he doesn't necessarily want to go:

"For me, personally, I'm a National League guy. I like the pace of the game, the strategy of the game. That's what I prefer. I would want to hear what our fans prefer, but I'm not sure we would ever get to that point."

Rafael Valenzuela out with hamate bone

Eddie's Farmhand Rafael Valenzuela is on his way to Charlotte to have his hamate bone removed.

In 50 games in 2010, Valenzuela hit .287/.333/.489 between the GCL and Greeneville.

Heck isn't hurrying to sign George Springer

Now that UConn's season is over, Bobby Heck isn't waiting in New England to get George Springer's signature.

“I’m not expecting this to be an expedited signing. He just played (66) games. We’ll give him a little time to relax and heal up a little bit. He’s had a long year, and they’ve been on the road for the last few weeks with regionals, super regionals, Big East tournament. He tweaked his hamstring, and he ran into a wall. So I’d be inclined to give him a little bit of heal time even if I thought it would be extremely fast (signing him).”

Your Morning Realignment Roundup

Rather than have six separate posts talking about the same thing, here is your roundup of morning realignment links:

Diamondbacks Team President and CEO Derrick Hall plays suck-up to Bud Selig, saying his team could be interested in moving to the AL:

"If asked, we will look into it if it's in the best interests of baseball. However, we have to balance it against what is in the best interest of our fans."

Curtis Granderson is in favor of teams playing every other team in baseball - regardless of league.

Hunter Pence doesn't give two craps about realignment:
"I like the National League. I like where we're at. I don't focus on those things at all and I really don't want to."

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo offers AL alternatives, but says the Astros may be the most logical move. Why?

This is a franchise in transition anyway, with new ownership, and the team is having a bad season.

Yeah, since the Astros are down, they're that much closer to your foot.

Eddie's Farm: June 13

Oklahoma City (26-38)

Back-and-forth game at OKC, but ultimately Albuquerque took it, 4-3. Gustavo Chacin threw 5.1IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:2BB (2HR, HBP) in the loss. Danny Meszaros threw 0.2IP (0H/0ER), while Ross Wolf allowed 4H/1ER, 3K:1BB in 2IP; and David Carpenter threw 1IP, 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB, extending his Triple-A scoreless streak to 12.2IP.

Tommy Manzella was 3x4 with a triple; Brian Bogusevic was 2x5 (SB, outfield assist), Brandon Barnes was 2x3 with 2RBI, and Oswaldo Navarro also had two hits on the day.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes

Corpus (23-39)

Corpus and San Antonio matched each other with six hits, but San Antonio got four runs on their hits, winning 4-0. Jonnathan Aristil allowed 3H/1ER, 2K:6BB in 4IP. Matt Nevarez allowed 1H/3ER, 1K:4BB in 1IP. So, in the first 5+ innings, Aristil and Nevarez combined for 10BB. Pat Urckfitz (2H), Henry Villar and Kyle Greenwalt combined for 3IP, 2H/0ER, 4K:0BB in relief.

Emerson Frostad was 2x4, while Johnathan Villar (BB), Jose Altuve (BB), J.D. Martinez and Aristil provided your other hits; Jon Gaston drew two walks, as the Hooks go 1x12 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: Emerson Frostad

Lancaster (26-37)

Kerrrraaazzzy game at Lake Elsinore! Lake Elsinore was up 2-0, down 4-2, tied 4-4, down 5-4, tied 5-5 (getting the tying run in the bottom of the 9th), then down 6-5 in the 10th, tying it up in the bottom half, then Lancaster got five runs in the top of the 14th, and Lake Elsinore could only get two back. Lancaster wins 11-8 in 14. Jake Buchanan allowed 6H/4R (3ER), 6K:3BB; Wander Alvino walked one in 1IP; Kirk Clark allowed 3H/1ER, 2K:1BB in 2IP; Mike Ness gave up a hit and a walk in 0.1IP; Colton Pitkin gave up a hit and a walk in 2IP; Yordany Ramirez went all Brandon Lyon, allowing 4H/2ER, 2K:1BB in 1.2IP, and David Berner got his first save of the season for Lancaster with a perfect 14th inning.

Kody Hinze was 4x7 with 7RBI, including a 3-run homer in the 14th. Jose Carlos Thompson was 3x7 with an RBI, while Jonathan Meyer (HR, BB) and Grant Hogue (SB) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze

Lexington (29-35)

Rough one for the Legends as they fall behind 6-0, with Augusta cruising to an 8-3 win. Alex Sogard got the start, throwing 4.1IP, allowing 8H/5R (3ER), 3K:3BB. Murillo Gouvea allowed 1H/1ER, 2K:1BB in 1.2IP, and Juan Minaya gave up 2H/2ER, 0K:2BB in 2IP.

Chris Wallace was 2x3 with a double and a solo homer (and a passed ball). Mike Kvasnicka had an RBI triple, while Jhonny Medrano was 1x4 with a double.

Man of the Match: Chris Wallace

DSL Astros (5-6)

The Astros got a first-inning run, but the Royals scored five runs in a 7-inning game for the 5-1 win. Edgar Ferreira gave up 2H/3ER, 2K:2BB in 1.2IP. Andres Feliz allowed 4H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 3.1IP, and Johan Arias threw a perfect 7th.

Jose Solano was 3x3 with the RBI, with Yoel Silfa, Juan Santana, and Mario Gonzalez getting your other hits.

Man of the Match: Jose Solano

From the Office of the County Clerk - G67: Astros v. Braves

The Astros came a Brandon Lyon away from their third shutout of the year, but the Astros win 8-3.

*That stops a four-game losing streak, and the Astros are now a stout 2-8 in their last ten games. Since May 13, the Astros are 11-19.

*It also gives the Astros their first win against the Braves. At 1-5, the Astros match their record against the Braves from 2010, meaning the Astros are 2-10 against the Braves in the last two seasons.

*Wandy Rodriguez had a triumphant return from the DL - throwing 6IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:4BB - and earning his 4th win of the season. One more win will bring Wandy's career record to 67-67 (so...he's now 66-67 on his career).

*Even more impressive is that, while the Braves were kicking the piss out of the Astros this season, Wandy's 2011 against Atlanta is as such: 14IP, 7H/0ER, 11K:6BB.

*Wandy hasn't allowed more than 2ER in an outing since April 24. In starts 6-11 of the year, Wandy has thrown 42IP, 35H/7ER, 31K:11BB.

*Wilton Lopez and Sergio Escalona each threw a scoreless outing. Escalona's ERA is now 1.74, and the hit he allowed is the first since May 30. He has allowed five baserunners in his last ten games (6.1IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:2BB). Since Escalona allowed a run in his very first outing on May 10 - he has thrown 10.1IP, 6H/1ER, 9K:3BB.

*Brandon F. Lyon. To be fair, it didn't have an outcome on the game. But what it did, for me, was prove that Lyon - as of right now - cannot be trusted in any situation of a game. Lyon walked one, allowed two hits - one of them a three-run homer from Jordan Schafer. Schafer did not have a homer coming into his 9th inning at-bat, and only had one RBI. He was hitting .224/.316/.324 before tagging Lyon.

*In the three appearances since coming off the DL, Lyon has thrown 2IP (14 batters faced), 6H/8ER, 1K:2BB. He has allowed earned runs in five straight games, and seven of his last eight. The five straight games are a career high (as a reliever), breaking a streak of four straight games with >1 ER from Aug 24-Sep 3, 2005.

*The eight runs the Astros scored are the fifth-most of the season, and the 14 hits tied the 2nd-highest hit total of the season.

*Hunter Pence got the Astros on SportsCenter before the Top 10 plays - which is nice - extending his hit streak to 23 games with a 3x4 (4RBI) that included his 9th homer of the year. All four of his RBI came with two outs.

*Brett Wallace was 2x2 with two doubles and two walks. It's the first time this season he has been on base four times in a game, and snapped a 2x16, 8K:1BB streak over the last five games.

*Jeff Keppinger was 2x5, and he has five hits in his last 14ABs.

*Carlos Lee was 0x4, but drew a walk, extending his on-base streak to 13 games.

*Man of the Match: Hunter Pence

*Goat of the Game: Carlos Lee! Was the only position player to not get a hit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Astros sign Zach Johnson

The Astros have signed 15th Round pick Zach Johnson, out of Oklahoma State, according to Zach Levine.

Hold on, so...what?

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal carries on with realignment, again pointing out that it makes sense for the Astros to switch to the AL (every writer/blogger from the other 29 teams agree that it makes sense. Because it's not their team who is affected.)

But listen to the close:
Commissioner Bud Selig remains a strong proponent of the unbalanced schedule, a concept steeped in the tradition of division rivalries, another source says.

The timing might be right, however, for baseball finally to adopt two 15-team leagues.

The Astros currently are in an ownership transition, increasing baseball’s leverage if the franchise is resistant to a move, sources say.

Jim Crain*, the Astros’ proposed new owner, needs to gain approval from baseball to secure the franchise.

Under the major-league agreement, an owner can reject not only a move from one league to another, but also one between divisions.

Crain*, though, is not the Astros’ owner yet.

(* = Crane.)

I guess I don't understand. MLB can't just make the decision in between owners. Either McLane owns the Astros, and he has veto-power, or Crane owns the team, and he has veto power. It's not like the Astros can go 20 minutes without an owner, and in the meantime the other 29 owners get together and force the Astros into the AL. Right? RIGHT!?

Who is better than average?

Let's take a look at the players in the system doing better than League Average. Maybe it will help clear some guys out, no?

Pacific Coast League - Hitters (Organized by OPS, 150 PA min.)

PCL AVGxxx.284/.359/.4461.83xxx

PCL - Pitchers (To qualify, must have lower ERA/WHIP, 30IP min.)

PCL AVGxxx5.16/1.551.83

Texas League - Hitters (Organized by OPS, 100PA min.)

TX AVGxxx.267/.340/.4182.11xxx
Van Ostrand246.282/.358/.4441.2723-24

* - Doesn't officially qualify, but worth noting.

Texas League - Pitchers (To qualify, must have lower ERA/WHIP, 30IP min.)

TEX AVGxxx4.54/1.412.11

California League - Hitters (Organized by OPS, 100PA min.)

CAL AVGxxx.278/.353/.4272.15xxx

California League - Pitchers (To qualify, must have lower ERA/WHIP, 30IP min.)

CAL AVGxxx4.96/1.512.15

South Atlantic League - Hitters (Organized by OPS, 150PA min.)

SAL AVGxxx.261/.335/.3982.36xxx

South Atlantic League - Pitchers (To qualify, must have lower ERA/WHIP, 30IP min.)

SAL AVGxxx4.24/1.382.36

Corpus sends many plethoras of All-Stars to Texas League

The Texas League has announced their All-Star team. Your Hooks All-Stars:

J.D. Martinez
Wladimir Sutil
Dallas Keuchel
Xavier Cedeno

FanGraphs does a better job at The Math

Here's an interesting piece from FanGraphs, where they did a better job than we did on the math of the possible new realignment.

Your money quote:
Over the past 15 years this new system would have made the AL almost twice as competitive and the NL about a third less competitive. Overall an extra 0.3 teams would be in a competitive race per year. So the realignment would have slightly, but not drastically, increased number of teams in playoff hunt. Although it would change which teams were in the hunt; the new system would make it easier for teams from good division, e.g. the AL East, to make the playoffs.

Bushue injured

Tanner Bushue was placed on the 7-Day DL yesterday, and Bryce Lane was called up from Tri-City to take his roster spot.

Bushue allowed 5H/3ER, 1K:2BB in 4IP on June 11.

Greg Lucas brings up a good point

Well I'll be damned. Greg Lucas adds some more rationale to the "LEAVE HOUSTON ALONE!" debate.

*You don't see both Chicago/New York teams in the same league:

*Why not move one of the teams living off the Luxury Tax, and penalize them by making them switch leagues:
If ANYONE has to move to the AL West or AL in general it rightly should be a more geographical match like Arizona or Colorado or a franchise who has been living off the dole of luxury tax money—like the Florida Marlins. How about the Milwaukee Brewers who jumped to the NL from the AL…or the team in Washington which was an American League city for decades?

More Lucas:
The Astros shouldn’t even be a consideration. Not only do they have a 50 year history In the NL and despite their current state on the field are not in an financial peril at all. They are heading toward two million in ticket sales this year even with the poor results on the field. This is no Tampa Bay here. This is a well developed baseball city that will be back cracking 3-million a year once the team deserves that support.


John Sickels on the Astros 2011 draft

We don't feel qualified to pass grades/judgment on the Astros 2011 draft. But you know who is? John Sickels, of Minor League Ball.

Click the link for a full review, but here's your close:
A solid draft. Springer is an excellent choice, and the three subsequent pitchers have high upside arm strength. The rest of the draft balances upside with polish. Refined pitchers Trofeano, Dufek and Hallock provide some farm system depth and leaven the raw upside choices. Overall I like this, especially if they can sign Strubbefield or Flamion to overslot deals.

Is George Springer hurt?

There are some rumblings that Astros 1st Round pick George Springer re-injured (or further injured) his hamstring Sunday against South Carolina...

On this Astros/Rangers rivalry

Baseball Time in Arlington has a poll up asking readers to weigh in on whether or not the Astros/Rangers have a "real" rivalry. So we'll ask you the same question, and compare notes.

At last look at BBTIA, it's 63-37 No.

Nice gesture by the Astros

40th Round pick Buddy Lamothe was honored over the weekend, according to Zach Levine:

Buddy Lamothe, the paralyzed San Jacinto College player whom the Astros drafted in the 40th round, was presented with an Astros jersey, hats and baseballs signed by Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.

Astros area scout Rusty Pendergrass and the San Jacinto coaches made the trip to Austin, where Lamothe, a Vermont native, is hospitalized after being severely injured in a swimming accident in May.

Pendergrass had been scouting Lamothe before the injury and had him at 94 miles per hour on the radar gun in Lamothe’s last outing before he was injured."

Everyone thinks the Astros should move to the AL

Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi has a big ol' article on why the Astros should move to the American League.

However, Morosi says, the Astros should join the AL West, not some commie division-less league.

Also, according to Morosi, there aren't any good rivalries with the Astros and...anyone else, in the NL Central.

If you're concerned about the late start times, playing teams like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Oakland, fear not:
Under my proposed schedule, the AL Astros would play no more than 17 games on the West Coast against the Angels, Athletics and Mariners. This season they are scheduled to play 21 games at NL West opponents. So, the move could be a wash for the Astros and their broadcast partners, who generally prefer games in the local time zone (or close to it).

Yes, because only the Astros are unreasonable enough to want a start time close to their home time zone.

He even talked to Scrap Iron, who had this to say:
“As far as switching leagues, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s tougher going to the NL. I don’t think it’s all that tough to make an NL club into an AL club: You get an old guy who’s the DH.”

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of tired hearing about the "natural rivalry" between the Rangers and Astros. I think it's overplayed. Ask the Marlins and Rays if they hate each other. There are plenty of regional rivalries, and maybe the Rangers and Astros could develop a hatred equal to that of the Yankees and Red Sox (just don't expect ESPN to cover it), but playing the Rangers doesn't quite turn my crank enough to want the Astros to play in the AL.

Astros sign undrafted free agent Neiko Johnson

Steve Campbell says that the Astros have signed undrafted IF/OF Neiko Johnson, out of the University of Kentucky.

The Wildcats had this to say about Johnson, before the season:
Extremely athletic and versatile talent, will have the ability to have a breakout season as a fifth-year senior ... Regarded by UK's coaches as the best base runner in the SEC, stole 24-of-25 bases in just 21 starts as a junior ... Has excellent base running instincts ... Can play nearly any position on the field, seeing time at second, third and shortstop in the infield and also logging time in the outfield ... Will compete for starting positions at second base and rightfield ... In addition to above-average base running skills, has excellent plate discipline and pitch recognition, translating to a high on-base percentage ... Could be a prototypical top of the order hitter in UK's speed-based offensive attack.

In 18 games, Johnson hit .333/.444/.550, with 7K:10BB. He injured his finger sliding into second base, and missed 34 games.

He'll head to Tri-City.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why We Hate The Idea Of Realignment

So we all got together and tried to make a stand regarding this latest idea of realignment, in which there are two 15-team Leagues, with the Astros as the favorites for moving to the American League, no divisions, and the top five teams making the playoffs. Here's why we don't like it:

1. Even if this happens, and the Astros stay in the NL, it will be much harder for the Astros to make the playoffs (which is, admittedly, the idea). Over the last five years, the top five NL teams have averaged 90.4 wins. Under this system, the 2008 Astros, at 86-75 would have made the playoffs, or at least would have had to play that 162nd game to see if they finished ahead of the 86-76 Cardinals for third place in the NL Central, but 5th overall in the NL. The NL Central winner has averaged 89.4 wins over the past five years, one fewer than the top five teams in the League.

2. If this happens, and the Astros move to the American League, it gets harder. The top five AL teams have averaged 93.5 wins - 3.1 wins more than the top five NL teams. And if inter-league play is any indication, where the Astros have been 32-52 (.381 Win%), it's not going to get any easier.

3. To say it's not fair to Jim Crane is a little much - he did, after all, offer to pay more for the Rangers than Nolan Ryan did. He could have purchased an AL team. But he bought the Astros, decidedly an NL team. I'm okay with The Jim Crane Conglomerate getting upset about the news that their approval could be tied to whether or not they'll accept the move. That's an extenuating circumstance, one that The Apparatus has no control over.

It's similar to purchasing a company that makes potato chips. You have an agreement, you've had a press conference, and you're waiting on approval. Then the FDA comes in and says, "We'll approve you, but you have to make your chips out of whole grains." Okay, it's not a great analogy, and you would likely agree to it, but it still pretty much freaking sucks.

4. Have you enjoyed the rivalry between the Rangers and Astros? Good, because it's going to be crammed down your throat 18 times a year! Do you hate the Cardinals, the Cubs, and the Reds? Good, because you'll never really have to see them again! (Though, to be fair, the attendance bump that comes with the Yankees and Red Sox coming to town will be nice for Crane - but don't think you'll be in the majority, Astros fan, for the three-game set at Minute Maid against the Red Sox.) Much has been made about the Houston/Dallas rivalry possibilities, but what about the established rivalries with St. Louis and Chicago?

Consider this a running list, but we're curious about your thoughts...

Lyles to stay, Fulchino down

I'll be honest, I don't think the County Clerk has it in him for today. Maybe tomorrow he can examine today's debacle, but not this afternoon or evening.

That said, the Astros did make a move, and boy, is it loaded. Jordan Lyles stays in the rotation. How do the dominoes fall?

1. Wandy returns from the DL tomorrow.
2. Aneury Rodriguez goes to the bullpen.
3. Jeff Fulchino goes to Oklahoma City.

So how is it loaded? First of all, it's good news for those of us who feel like Lyles will get more from working with Brad Arnsberg than sticking in Triple-A. His service time clock has started, so why not let him continue to throw? He's been better than Aneury and Happ. Seriously!

Look at Lyles' last three starts: 17.1IP, 18H/8ER, 12K:3BB, 1.21 WHIP.

Compare that to Aneury: 14IP, 18H/13ER, 10K:6BB, 1.71 WHIP.
How about Happ: 17.1IP, 14H/10ER, 15K:8BB, 1.27 WHIP.

He even compares, a little, to Myers, including today: 19IP, 14H/10ER, 13K:4BB, 1.06 WHIP.

So what does it tell us? The Astros don't want to give up Aneury Rodriguez. He stays on the 25-Man roster so that he doesn't go back to the Rays.

But, boy, did they miss a golden opportunity. Because with Fulchino going to OKC, it means that Brandon Lyon stays on the 25-Man roster. They could have put him back on the DL. I'm not sure, off-hand, whether or not he could be optioned to Triple-A, but that could have been the corresponding roster move, be it through a release or another DL stint - it wouldn't have taken much convincing.

No, Fulchino hasn't been good lately. Since May 13, he has thrown 11.2IP, 13H/10ER, 11K:10BB, with a 1.002 OPS-against. Problem is, his BABIP is just .313 - not terribly far off the norm. So I understand that Fulchino has struggled. Just not as high-profile as Lyon. After all, Fulchino is - by definition - a replacement-level player (0.0 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference). It's just that Lyon stays, and Fulchino has been worth 1.2 more WAR than Lyon.

Jim Crane flexes!

We'll have some delayed reaction to the news that the Astros would be slated for the American League should a wild realignment (less "realignment" and more "blowing up") happen.

Regardless (with a captip to Street and SnS), Jim Crane isn't having it, according to an ownership group source:

"You don't spend $680 million on something and have a third-party come in an dictate new terms after the agreement's been ironed out. Even Major League Baseball. These are extremely complicated deals. A lot of work goes into them. They are not something you can just go in and change in that significant of a manner."

Hell, and yes.

Buchanan, Hinze named to CAL League All-Star Team

Congratulations are in order to Jake Buchanan and Kody Hinze, Lancaster's representatives in the California League All-Star Game.

Brandon Lyon's last 18 batters faced

So with Brandon Lyon consistently nutting games since the end of April, it's worth taking a look at his last 18 batters faced. What the hell is happening? Let's try to find out. Remember, we're going from most-recent on back...

June 11 vs. Atlanta:
vs. Chipper Jones: 0 out, bases empty. 3-2 double up the middle
vs. Brian McCann: 0 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, 2-1 homer to deep right
vs. Dan Uggla: 0 out, runner on 2nd, six-pitch walk
vs. Jordan Schafer, 0 out, bases empty, 3-1 line drive to right.

June 10 vs. Atlanta:
vs. Alex Gonzalez: 2 out, bases empty, first-pitch groundout to short
vs. Freddy Freeman: 1 out, bases empty, five-pitch strikeout
vs. Chipper Jones: 1 out, bases empty, 1-0 homer to deep left
vs. Dan Uggla, 0 out, bases empty, 2-2 groundout to short

May 4 at Cincinnati:
vs. Jay Bruce, 0 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, first-pitch walk-off double to right
vs. Brandon Phillips, 0 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, 2-1 RBI single to right
vs. Joey Votto, 0 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, 1-1 RBI single to right
vs. Chris Heisey, 0 out, runner on 2nd, 2-2 single to right
vs. Drew Stubbs, 0 out, bases empty, four-pitch walk

April 30 vs. Milwaukee:
vs. Yuniesky Betancourt, 2 out, runner on 1st, 0-1 lineout to 3B
vs. Corey Hart, 1 out, runner on 1st, first-pitch groundout to 3B
vs. Casey McGehee, 1 out, bases empty, single to left
vs. Prince Fielder, 1 out, bases empty, 3-1 homer to deep right
vs. Ryan Braun, 0 out, bases empty, 1-1 flyball to right

So. What do we see?

*First of all, with a DL stint in between, Lyon has allowed 12 of the last 18 batters he has faced to reach base.
*He has one strikeout, in 18 batters.
*Eight batters have taken him to the right side of the field, four have gone to the left side, three have gone up the middle. (Two walks, one strikeout).
*Lyon is just getting rocked. He's not making anybody miss. According to Baseball-Reference, in his last 65 pitches, he has seven swings-and-misses, with six strikes looking. That's only 20% of his pitches that are non-contact strikes.
*Five of the ten hits he's allowed have been for extra-bases, with two doubles and three homers.
*Baseball-Reference also gives him a -1.2 WAR, or a 1.2 Wins Below Replacement, depending on how you want to look at it. There's no way that he should be pitching.

This is more than just a rough patch. Either he's completely ineffective, or that partial tear is completely wrecking his year. Either way, it's time to put him on the 60-Day DL, or give him the Bill Hall treatment.

Eddie's Fam: June 11

Oklahoma City (26-36)

OKC scored the final five runs of the game, including two in the 11th, for a 6-4 win over Omaha. Sergio Perez threw 6IP, 3H/4R (3ER), 2K:2BB, WP, 2HBP; Danny Meszaros gave up a hit and two walks and Wesley Wright gave up a hit, each in 0.2IP. Ross Wolf threw 2.1 perfect IP, and Fernando Abad got his first win at OKC of the season, with 3K in 1.1IP.

Anderson Hernandez was 4x6 with an RBI; Robinson Cancel was 3x6 with 2RBI, Oswaldo Navarro was 3x4 with a double, homer, and 2RBI. J.B. Shuck was 2x4 with two walks and an RBI, and Brian Dopirak was 2x5 with a double. Koby Clemens was 0x6, and is hitting .200 (7x35) in his last ten games.

Man of the Match: Oswaldo Navarro.

Corpus (23-37)

Corpus took advantage of four Midland errors for a 9-4 win. Erick Abreu went 5IP, allowing 6H/3ER, 7K:1BB. Shane Wolf allowed 2H/1ER in 0.1IP; Matt Nevarez (1.2IP, 3BB), Arcenio Leon, and Patrick Urckfitz combined for 3.2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:3BB.

Jimmy Paredes (3B), Jon Gaston (2BB, 2RBI), and Jake Goebbert (2B, BB) had two hits each; while Jose Altuve was 1x5 with a triple and 2RBI. J.D. Martinez added a double, while the Hooks were 2x14 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: Jon Gaston

Lancaster (24-37)

Inland Empire had three multi-run innings in a 10-6 win over Lancaster, despite the JetHawks out-hitting the 66ers, 12-10. Jose Cisnero allowed 3H/5ER, 5K:5BB in 4IP; Mike Ness gave up 2H/3ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP, and David Berner allowed 4H/2ER in 2IP. Yordany Ramirez was the only pitcher to not allow a run, with 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 1IP.

Austin Wates (RBI), Andy Simunic (2B), Jose Carlos Thompson (HR, 3RBI), and Grant Hogue (BB) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Jose Carlos Thompson

Lexington (29-33)

Hickory jumped all over Lexington in an 8-1 win over the Legends. Tanner Bushue allowed 4IP, 5H/3ER, 1K:2BB while Juan Minaya walked all three batters he faced (with a Lyon-esque 0IP, 0H/3ER, 0K:3BB). Gabe Garcia gave up 1H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP, and Luis Cruz allowed 2H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 4IP of relief.

After Delino DeShields hit a lead-off homer, the Legends only had one other hit - by Emilio King. Jiovanni Mier, Tyler Burnett, and Enrique Hernandez drew walks.

Man of the Match: Uhhh, Luis Cruz?

DSL Astros (5-3)

The DSL Astros got out to a 4-0 lead, and then had to hold on for a 6-5 win, scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th. Luis Abad allowed just 2H/0ER, 3K:2BB in 6IP, while Johan Arias gave up 4H/4ER in 1IP, with Manuel Sanchez allowing 3H/1ER, 0K:1BB in 2IP, getting the BS/W.

Mesac Laguna was 3x4 with a double and 2RBI, and Franny Polanco was 3x4, as well. Darwin Rivera was 2x4 with two doubles.

Man of the Match: Mesac Laguna.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G65: Astros v. Braves

Two guesses as to the Goat of the Game, and the second one doesn't count. Brandon Lyon gives up four runs in the 10th, and the Astros lose 6-3 to the Brian McCanns.

*Brian McCann hit a three-run 10th inning homer to give the Braves a 5-2 lead. Of the eight homers that McCann has hit in 2011, three have come against the Astros. Both extra-inning homers he has hit have been against the Astros.

*The loss gives the Astros their 7th three-game losing streak of the season, and since the four-game win streak, the Astros have lost seven of eight.

*In that stretch, the Astros have been outscored 50-23.

*Lyon managed to screw up Jordan Lyles' 1st home start, where he threw 6.1IP, 8H/2ER, 5K:2BB, and allowed a homer to Eric Hinske. He threw 22 first-pitch strikes out of 29 batters, and got 28 non-contact strikes (15 called; 13 swinging).

*The next eight outs went swimmingly, with Escalona, Lopez, and Melancon combining to allow 1H/0ER, 3K:0BB.

*Then Brandon Lyon happened - again. Facing four batters, he got none of them out, allowing 3H/4ER, 0K:1BB. He has allowed an earned run in each of his last four appearances, dating back to April 30, seeing his ERA balloon - no, spiral out of control like a drop-kicked astronaut - from 4.76 to 10.22.

*The Astros exited five of Lyon's last six appearances in a worse position than when he entered.

*The Astros' offense got double-digit hits for the fourth time in five games, and their five extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple) are the most since May 31, at Chicago.

*The big story on offense is Hunter Pence, whose two doubles extended his hitting streak to 22 games. Eleven of his 36 hits in those 22 games have been for extra-bases (11 2B; 1 3B; 3 HR).

*Carlos Lee was 3x5 with two doubles and 2RBI, giving him a 12-game on-base streak, with 6K:9BB. It was his first three-hit game since G2 against the Phillies.

*Michael Bourn got his 5th triple of the season, in 64 games. In 141 games in 2010, Bourn had six triples.

*Man of the Match: Carlos Lee

*Goat of the Game: Brandon Lyon