Saturday, July 23, 2011

At least Wandy's contract is favorable to someone

Here's a report on the Yankees going after a pitcher, apparently trying - unsuccessfully - to get James Shields and Ubaldo Jimenez.

If that doesn't go well, the Astros - according to Jerry Crasnick - could target Wandy:

As far as Rodriguez is concerned, Crasnick noted that he has a favorable contract -- he's signed through 2013. At the same time, there is some concern that his stuff might not translate as well in the AL.

Hopefully the Mets are dumb enough to make Wade look awesome

Jon Heyman says the Mets are trying to go Ed Wade on teams inquiring about Carlos Beltran:

#mets still shooting for HR w/ beltran: dom brown, wheeler or m. minor. w/ expiring deal/no draft pick, might have to drop price.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G100 - Astros @ Cubs

Sorry, folks. I just don't have it in me.

Michael Bourn is also available

Zach Levine's Notebook says that:

Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Hunter Pence are the names coming up most frequently in trade rumors, and a competing front-office official with knowledge of the market said teams also are treating Michael Bourn as available.

Eddie's Farm: July 22

Oklahoma City (43-57)

Lucas Harrell gets his first win for OKC with a 5-2 win over Memphis. Harrell threw 7IP, 4H/2ER, 3K:4BB; Jeff Fulchino struck out two in 1IP, and Wesley Wright got his first save with a perfect 9th.

Anderson Hernandez (2B, 3RBI), J.R. Towles, Koby Clemens (2B, RBI), and Drew Locke (2B, RBI, BB) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Lucas Harrell

Corpus (38-59)

Holy Jeebus. Frisco flat-out destroyed Corpus, hitting eight homers - five from the 6-9 spots in the lineup in a 19-4 win. Jonnathan Aristil gave up 8H/7ER, 2HR in 1.1IP; Kyle Greenwalt gave up 7H/5ER, 3HR in 3IP; Chris Hicks and Henry Villar pitched without incident; Danny Meszaros gave up 6H/6ER, 2HR without recording an out; Arcenio Leon allowed 2H/1ER, 1HR, and catcher Emerson Frostad gave up a hit and a walk - but no homers - in 1IP.

Kody Hinze and Chris Wallace were each 2x4 with a solo homer, and Johnathan Villar and Jimmy Paredes added solo homers, as well.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze - now has a 1.019 OPS since coming up to Corpus.

Lancaster (38-60)

Lancaster actually had a 3-0 lead. Then High Desert scored the next 11 runs in a 15-10 win over Lancaster. Zach Grimmett threw 4.2IP, 7H/7ER, 2K:2BB, three of those earned runs were given up by Colton Pitkin, who allowed 4H/4ER of his own in 0.1IP. David Berner allowed 3H/2ER, Shane Wolf gave up 1H/0ER, 3K:1BB, and Kirk Clark allowed 3H/2ER.

Miguel Arrendell was 3x3 with three walks and a solo homer; Jose Carlos Thompson was 3x4 with a walk; Jonathan Meyer was 3x5 with a double and 2RBI; Adam Bailey (RBI) and Erik Castro (HR, 2RBI) had two hits each. Andy Simunic was 1x4 with 2BB, and David Flores was 1x4 with 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Miguel Arrendell - nice when your leadoff guy gets on base six times.

Lexington (46-52)

Lexington had a two-run lead, gave it up, and got it back for a 5-4 win over Charleston. Luis Cruz allowed 7H/3ER, 2K:0BB in 5IP; Jason Chowning faced four batters and got five outs without giving up a hit, and Jorge De Leon got his 12th save with a perfect 9th.

Everyone got a hit in the lineup - Bryce Lane was 2x3 with an RBI; Delino DeShields, Enrique Hernandez, and Ben Orloff (2B) had your other RBIs.

Man of the Match: Bryce Lane

Tri-City (14-20)

Tri-City came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Connecticut 3-2 and avoid the sweep. Euris Quezada threw 4.2IP, 3H/2R (1ER), 2K:5BB; Dayan Diaz got the win with 3.1IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:2BB, and Ryan Cole threw a perfect 9th inning.

The ValleyCats only got four hits - two from Matt Duffy, a triple from Drew Muren, and a hit from Jacke Healey. All of the ValleyCats' runs were unearned, and they were also 0x8 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: Dayan Diaz

Greeneville (12-19)

Greeneville got a six-run 7th, and then turned around and gave up three in the top of the 8th to let Bristol tie it up, but got a run in the bottom of the 8th for a 7-6 win. Tyson Perez allowed 8H/3R (2ER), 3K:0BB; Scott Zuloaga got the final two outs of the 6th; Danilo Del Rio allowed three unearned runs in 1.1IP; Steve Martin got the BS/W, allowing a hit that scored one of Del Rio's unearned runs.

Garen Wright was 3x4 with two doubles, Jordan Scott was 2x4 with a triple, walk, and 3RBI; Chan-Jong Moon was 1x2 with 2BB, and Jesse Wierzbicki hit a two-out, two-run homer.

Man of the Match: Garen Wright

GCL Astros (7-21)

The GCL Astros took an early 1-0 lead, and the Mets got two in the bottom of the 3rd, going on to a 2-1 win. Frederick Tiburcio allowed 2H/2ER, 3K:5BB in 5IP; Steve Dennison gave up 3H/0ER, 4K:0BB in 2IP, and Juan Mojica threw a perfect 9th.

Jose Fernandez had a triple, and Kelvin Vizcaino had a hit and a walk. That's it. Two hits.

Man of the Match: Steve Dennison.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pence the Phillies top target

CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury says that Hunter Pence is the Phillies' "top target."

A Baseball Official Familiar With The Trade Landscape:
“He’s the guy they want. But the price is very high.”

What do the Astros want?
...A package that begins with Domonic Brown. The Phils might also have to include another top talent such as Jonathan Singleton, a first baseman and outstanding hitting prospect, or a pitching prospect.

Your move, Ed Wade.

Reds interested in Pence?

With a captip to MLBTR, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer says the Reds have had discussions about Hunter Pence.

The Reds have a ton of prospects - literally, probably ten prospects who are two hundred pounds. Surely there are 3-4 who would come to Houston. But would the Astros want to play a team with Votto, Bruce, Phillips, and Pence 18 times a year?

The $60 million question

So Jim Crane wants to get payroll to $60 million for 2012. How in the world is that going to happen? Let's take a look, because you could get an indication as to who might get moved in the next eight days...

Player2011 salary2012 Salary
C. Lee$18.5m$18.5m
W. Rodriguez$7m$10m
B. Myers$7m$11m
B. Lyon$5.25m$5.5m

Okay, those are your guaranteed contracts, totaling $45m. Now how about the arbitration-eligible players, with 2012 numbers coming from an educated guess?

Player2011 salary2012 Salary
H. Pence$6.9m$12m
M. Bourn$4.4m$8m
H. Quintero$1m$1.3m
J. Happ$474K$2m
A. Sanchez$433K$800K

Jeff Fulchino is arbitration-eligible, but I can see the Astros non-tendering him, so in the interest of keeping this list to 25 players, he's not on here. Estimated arbitration-eligible players: $24.1m

Players who will be free agents in 2012:
Clint Barmes ($3.93m in 2011)
Jason Michaels ($900K in 2011)

Players not yet arbitration-eligible, and therefore will be signing for around $450K each:
Fernando Abad, Alberto Arias, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, Jason Castro, Enerio Del Rosario, Matt Downs, Chris Johnson, Wilton Lopez, Jordan Lyles, Mark Melancon, Bud Norris, Aneury Rodriguez, Brett Wallace

14 players x ~$450K = $6.3m

Now, I listed 25 players here. It's entirely possible that the Astros will let Michaels walk, and offer arbitration to Fulchino, etc. But our total at this point is $75.4m, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars here and there - not factoring in a deal for Barmes or Michaels. We've also not factored in the possibility of locking Pence or Bourn up to a long-term deal. In fact, this list is so fluid that it's hardly a worthwhile exercise.

Point being, the Astros - in order to meet Crane's dream payroll of $60m - are going to need to cut about $15m from the 2011 payroll. The question is, from where? Because let's say the Astros trade Wandy - to get a decent haul of prospects, they're probably going to have to pick up $5m in his salary, so rather than cutting $10m that he's due, that's only going to be $5m (and that's only his 2012 numbers - not 2013, or the option that takes effect once he gets traded). Trading Wandy by himself is only going to take payroll from $75.4m to $70.4m, and is off-set by whatever scale the Astros have to pick up. And Barmes isn't even factored into the 2012 payroll.

Multiple moves are going to have to be made in order to make this $15m goal. Where do you see it happening?

It's pretty clear to see that what is now very obviously the Right Move is to go back in time and force Ed Wade to trade Myers and Wandy when they had team-friendly contracts and, in Myers' case, a brilliant year. They are our Astros, a year late and $15m short.

Do you agree with this?

Get past the talk about MacBook Pros and Volvos/Jettas you'll read this:

This is not Boston or New York. Houstonians will not come to games for the sheer joy of watching baseball. Houston came close to becoming a baseball town in 2004 and the second half of 2005 when the Astros gave people something to watch. These days, people come to games for two reasons: Either the team is doing well, or people just want to see Pence and Bourn.

We have some thoughts, but would like to see what you think, first.

Random exec thinks Pence will stay in Houston until the off-season

Jayson Stark's new Rumblings & Grumblings column spends a good amount of time talking about Hunter Pence.

One Official said Pence was a "right-handed Johnny Damon," and also compared his swing to Charles Barkley, which makes not one damn bit of sense to me (feel free to comment and clear this up).

Another Exec:
"I'd be surprised if he gets traded now. I think doing it in the offseason is much more sensible."

"Sensible" is a stupid word. He's got two arbitration years left regardless of what happens, and he's probably got $3 million left on his deal this season. So if $3 million keeps a GM away from making this happen, someone is acting a fool.

Also, the "job-saving deal" that Ed Wade is looking for, according to Stark, is unlikely. But a lot can change in the next ten days.

More from Jon Heyman on Pence

The full piece from Heyman on Pence can be found here, where we learn that the Phillies aren't shying away from the Astros' asking price for Pence, though:

Current Astros management views him as the "favorite of the franchise," however, and just the right type of player to set an example for a young team.

The Astros are apparently shopping Wandy and Myers harder, though one "competing executive" says that the Astros might end up having to pay half his salary to get a deal done. Makes you feel good that they didn't pull the trigger on him, or Myers, this time last year, right?

Beltran narrowing down his choices

Buster Olney just tweeted that the Race For Carlos Beltran is down to the following teams:

Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Texas, and Cleveland.

Jon Heyman says that the Giants, Phillies, and Braves are the leaders for Beltran.

Now, the good thing - if you think trading Pence is a good and necessary move - is obviously that there is more demand for elite Right Fielders than there are elite Right Fielders, and yeah, I consider Pence an elite Right Fielder. If Philly or Atlanta end up with Beltran, you can reasonably expect that the other is going to try to counter with Pence. The AL Central is a crap-shoot, as is the AL West, so a player like Pence can change the outcome of those races. Boston's going to make the playoffs regardless (likely, anyway).

But aside from the Giants (whom I know very little about, except that they have Jack Keplinger), the other teams have prospects that could impact the Astros for years to come.

Bourgeois activated, Bogusevic sent down

Jason Bourgeois has been activated from the DL this morning, and Brian Bogusevic gets sent to OKC.

I see Bourgeois as a temporary (or longer) fill-in for Michael Bourn if/when Bourn finds himself in another team's jersey before August 1.

And at least Bogusevic gets to play in OKC. He got one start for the Astros, and ten plate appearances total in July. Ridiculous.

The Constable goes all George Will on us

The Constable outs himself as a former employee of a prominent organization, and gets a little dewey-eyed with a tear running down his leg about the Magic of Cooperstown for the Chronicle.

Ricky Bennett got to see a great game

And it wasn't in the Astros organization. Nope, Ricky Bennett was at the Lakewood BlueClaws - Single-A affiliate of the Phillies - game last night (along with scouts from the White Sox and Rangers), as pitcher Jesse Biddle threw 6IP, 3H/2ER, 8K:3BB and Lakewood got a walk-off win over Greenville.

Biddle, on the trade rumors, in what sounds like a prayer to God:
The truth is I want to play for the Phillies, everybody knows that. If the Phillies want to trade me at some point than they can do that but the fact is I want to play for the Phillies. That's the team I've always wanted to play for.”

(We ran this through the Baseball Translator, which turned up: "Please God, don't let them trade me to the Astros.". Interesting.)

Eddie's Farm: July 21

Oklahoma City (42-57)

Game 1: Albuquerque jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd, OKC tied it up with a 4-run 4th, and Albuquerque scored the next four runs for an 8-4 win. Brad Hennessey threw 2.1IP, 7H/4ER, 0K:1BB; Sergio Perez allowed 2H/2ER, 0K:2BB in 1IP; Casey Fien had the only scoreless outing, with 1H/0ER in 1.2IP; and Fernando Abad allowed 3H/2ER in 1IP. Oswaldo Navarro (BB) and Tommy Manzella (RBI) had two hits each; Robinson Cancel got a hit and drew a walk, and Anderson Hernandez was 1x3 with 2RBI and a triple.

Man of the Match: Tommy Manzella

Game 2: And Albuquerque never trailed in this one, eventually getting a 6-1 win. Xavier Cedeno made his first start at Triple-A and went 4IP, 6H/2ER, 4K:0BB; Ross Wolf allowed 5H/4ER, 2K:1BB in 1.2IP, and Sam Gervacio got the final out of the game, allowing a hit (and one of Wolf's runs). Anderson Hernandez got two of OKC's five hits, with a walk and an RBI. Koby Clemens was 1x3 with a triple (and two errors); J.B. Shuck and Collin DeLome had your other two hits.

Man of the Match: Anderson Hernandez

Corpus (38-58)

Corpus was all over Midland behind Henry Sosa's first start in the Astros' organization, with a 6-0 win. Sosa threw 7IP (95 pitches, 64 for strikes), 4H/0ER, 5K:1BB; Blake King allowed 2H/0ER, 2K:1BB, and Arcenio Leon struck out the side.

Jon Gaston was 2x3 with a walk, 2HR, and 5RBI; J.D. Martinez, Kody Hinze, and Jake Goebbert had two hits each; Jonathan Villar and Brandon Wikoff had a hit and a walk.

Man of the Match: Jon Gaston

Lancaster (38-59)

Lancaster was all over High Desert, scoring four, six, and four runs for a 14-2 win. Jose Cisnero threw 6IP, 2H/2ER, 11K:1BB, and Wander Alvino got his first save with 3IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:1BB.

Jose Carlos Thompson was 4x5 with a double and 4RBI, Andy Simunic was 3x4 with a walk and an RBI. Miguel Arrendell (2B), David Flores (HR, 3RBI), Jonathan Meyer (2RBI), and Erik Castro (BB, HR, 2RBI) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Jose Cisnero

Lexington (45-52)

Charleston was down 1-0, and then scored five unanswered runs, going on for an 8-3 win. Ruben Alaniz went 6IP, 7H/5ER, 6K:1BB; Juan Minaya allowed 3H/3ER, 1K:3BB, and Jorge De Leon allowed a hit - scoring two of Minaya's runners - in 0.2IP.

Delino DeShields was 3x4 with a walk and an RBI, Ben Heath was 2x4 with a double and a solo homer, Ben Orloff had two hits and a walk. Mike Kvasnicka was 1x3 with a walk, and his 23rd error of the season.

Man of the Match: Delinio DeShields

Tri-City (13-20)

Game 1: Tri-City took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, but Connecticut got three in the bottom half, winning 4-2. Jonas Dufek threw the 6IP CG, allowing 9H/4ER, 4K:0BB. John Hinson went 2x3, Matt Duffy and Bubby Williams had a hit.

Man of the Match: John Hinson

Game 2: And Connecticut took Game 2 with a 3-2 win. Kyle Hallock allowed 6H/3R (2ER), 5K:1BB; Mitchell Lambson threw a perfect 7th. Neiko Johnson was 2x3 with 2SB, Ryan McCurdy was 2x3, as well. John Hinson and Matt Duffy had your RBIs.

Man of the Match: Neiko Johnson

Greeneville (11-19)

Greeneville scored the first eight runs of the game, and by the time Bristol got around to scoring their couple of runs, it was already the 9th inning. Greeneville wins 8-2. Ricardo Batista allowed 3H/0ER, 6K:2BB in 5IP; Zach Dando threw two perfect innings, striking out three; Paris Shewey and Matison Smith (two unearned runs) closed it out.

Jesse Wierzbicki (HR, 3RBI, BB), Garen Wright, and Luis Alvarez (RBI) had two hits each, while Jordan Scott (RBI), and Jose Monzon (3B) had a hit and a walk each.

Man of the Match: Jesse Wierzbicki

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This seems shady, but okay...

The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman tweets (with a captip to AstroBrit):

A baseball source who is an admirer of #Astros Hunter Pence said that the Houston right fielder "won't be moved."

The Source makes so very little sense...

Heyman: Astros being "absurd"

If the reports that the Astros want a Ubaldo Jimenez-type deal are true, Jon Heyman thinks they're crazy:

if #astros seek as much for wandy as #rockies do for ubaldo, thats absurd. wandy contract $40M thru '14, ubaldo 1/2 that.

FanGraphs takes on Altuve's size

Eno Sarris has an article looking at the history of short players in MLB, and how they fared.

Phillies would be happy to give you Vance Worley

Buster Olney says the Phillies would prefer to build a package for Pence around pitcher Vance Worley.

Worley is the young (apparent-)phenom, 23 years old, 2008 3rd-round draft pick who is currently lighting up the National League.

So far in 2011, Worley is 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA/1.19 WHIP, with 48H/14ER, 48K:26BB in 62.1IP, and has posted a WAR of 2.0. This includes last night's ridiculous start against the Cubs, where he threw 4H/1ER, 7K:2BB in 8IP.

Perhaps you're worried that he's J.A. Happ, all over again. Happ enjoyed a favorable BABIP in the three years before joining the Astros (.266, .266, .262 in 2010 prior to joining the Astros). Worley's BABIP in 2011 is .254, but his FIP is 3.19 so far, so it's not terribly far off the mark. Worley is also getting batters to chase 29.4% of his pitches outside the zone, compared to 23.8% of Happ's pitches.

Crashburn Alley has a great post on Worley vs. Happ (captip to AstroBrit) where Bill says:
Everything about Worley and Happ, besides their handedness, is nearly identical, including their luck. Worley is due for the same regression that Happ went through, and it will not be pretty.

Pence vs. Swisher

Joel Sherman asked this morning (perhaps rhetorically):

When execs tell me #Astros want killer package for Pence, I wonder this: How much better is he than Swisher. Aren't both 6th-place hitters on good team. And would you give up killer package for Swisher?

Let's answer Sherman's question!

Pence: 28 years old, 672 games, lifetime .291/.339/.481, 515K:192BB, 118 OPS+
Swisher: 30 years old, 1000 games, lifetime .253/.359/.464, 875K:554BB, 116 OPS+

So Pence is younger, OPS is about the same, Pence has better AVG. Swisher has a higher OBP, less SLG.

In 2010-11:
Pence: .297/.339/.471, 123 OPS+, 185K:65BB
Swisher: .277/.362/.478, 125 OPS+, 208K:112BB

The question is: Who would you build a team around? A 28-year old hitter with a high AVG and SLG, who has been doing so with virtually no protection in the lineup, or a 30-year old hitter who plays marginal defense with a ton of protection.

I'll be honest, I thought this was a ridiculous question. But they're fairly similar players. Pence is from Texas, though, so he can automatically be trusted.

Peter Gammons' Astros update

Peter Gammons tweeted the following:

Astros cannot find requisite 3-4 player offer for Pence.. Likely staying. Wandy market hurt by AL teams wary of NL pitchers, Suppan Effect.

Take this for what it's worth

I'm not familiar with Section 247, but there's a source that says the Astros and Phillies have exchanged names for Hunter Pence:

The Astros would be willing to make a trade but the Phillies would have to part ways with Jonathan Singleton (Single-A Clearwater), John Mayberry (MLB), Jarred Cosart (Single-A Clearwater), and/or Justin De Fratus (Triple-A Lehigh Valley). The Astros have also asked for Michael Stutes but it is highly unlikely that the Phillies would part ways with the right hander. The Phillies would like to make the deal but they are leaning towards not trading away Jonathan Singleton.

Again, this is the only place we've heard talks getting this far, but it's certainly worth noting.

UPDATE: Crashburn Alley calls this report "Clearly Fake."

Rosenthal: Slow up on the "Pence-to-Braves" talk

What is Smilin' Ken doing, trying to take one team out of the Race for Hunter Pence?

The Astros’ Hunter Pence, a corner outfielder, would be less of a fit for the Braves, assuming third baseman Martin Prado moves back to left after Chipper Jones returns and Jason Heyward stays in right...

...The Braves are deep enough in minor-league talent — and especially pitching talent — to land almost any hitter they want. But they’re also protective of that talent, reluctant to overpay for a rental such as Beltran and resistant to the price that the Astros will demand for Pence. Four years ago, the Braves parted with a monster package for first baseman Mark Teixeira. They would keep Pence for two-plus seasons, while they had Teixeria under control for only one-plus. But the Braves view Pence as a lesser player than Teixeira — good, but not great. And the Astros only will trade him if they get a killer offer.

Update: Rosenthal says the Braves are out on Pence, as of right now.

We told you Keppinger would be happy

In our reaction piece to the Keppinger trade, we gave you permission to be happy for Jeff Keppinger. Jeff Keppinger took our advice.

"I'm in first place. That's nice, definitely nice...It's tough to get hits off (the Giants). That was definitely a plus, too. I'd rather face the other team I came from than face this team."


Pence could be "the best position player traded"

Sporting News' Anthony Witrado has nice things to say about Hunter Pence, while explaining that many people don't know who he is, because of the Astros:

If Hunter Pence is made available, look out. There will be a whirlwind of scouts racing to Houston Astros games and phone calls to Houston GM Ed Wade. Pence would immediately become the most sought-after bat on the trading block and could be the impact bat that could change a division race. Not many people get a chance to see Pence because he’s played for an awful team most of his career, but this guy is legit and he showed why during the All-Star Game.

Larry Dierker outlines what the Astros need

And it's not pretty. It's a big ol' piece, so we won't take too much from it, but it does address the need to trade Pence:

But if the Astros don't improve quickly, Pence and Bourn won't be prime-time players when the team comes together. And in the meantime, the team will have to face the prospect of re-signing them when they become eligible for free agency.

The biggest problem the Astros will face in rebuilding the team is the paucity of Major League-ready prospects. In the Astros' organization, if you are young and ready for the show, you are already in Houston.

The most misleading Trade Deadline headline so far...

Jon Paul Morosi has a piece up for Fox Sports in which he asks, "Would new Astros owner veto Pence deal?" - referring to Jim Crane.

The answer, given four paragraphs later, is, "No."

While Wade is technically reporting to McLane, he has kept Crane informed of his trade conversations – including the talks that led to Jeff Keppinger being dealt to San Francisco earlier this week. And if Wade reaches agreement on a deal involving Pence that makes good baseball sense, the source said that Crane would likely permit it.

Come on, man.


Wesley Wright was sent back to OKC, presumably because Matt Downs' wife has had a baby, and he's ready to get some sleep.

We noted that Bobby Doran pitched last night for Lancaster, and indeed he was activated off the Disabled List - and was replaced by Jio Mier.

Eddie's Farm: July 20

Oklahoma City (42-55)

Rained out

Corpus (37-58)

Corpus never trailed against Midland, winning 5-2. Dallas Keuchel had a typical performance, going 7IP, 5H/2R (1ER), 7K:0BB; Chris Hicks gave up a hit and a walk, but no runs in his Corpus debut, and Jason Stoffel hammered down his first save for the Hooks, throwing a perfect 9th.

Brandon Wikoff was 3x4, Kody Hinze (RBI, BB) and Jake Goebbert had two hits each. J.D. Martinez waas 1x4 with 2RBI, and Jimmy Paredes had an RBI and a double. Jonathan Villar was 1x2 with 2BB.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel

Lancaster (37-59)

Lancaster never led in this one, getting doubled up by High Desert 10-5. Our Boy Andrew Robinson had a rough one, allowing 11H/7ER, 2K:1BB in 4IP; Mike Ness (H, BB) and Bobby Doran (2ER) threw an IP in his first appearance since June 2, David Berner threw two scoreless IPs, Wes Musick gave up an ER.

Jonathan Meyer (2B, RBI), and Rene Garcia had two hits each; Adam Bailey and Erik Castro had a hit and 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Meyer

Lexington (45-51)

Charleston got a 4-run 4th to pace their way to a 6-5 win over Lexington. Mike Foltynewicz allowed 7H/4R (3ER), 3K:2BB in 4IP; Gabe Garcia gave up 3H/2ER, striking out six in 3IP, and Brian Streilein threw a perfect 8th.

Delino DeShields (BB, 2RBI, SB), Telvin Nash, Ben Heath (2B, RBI), Tyler Burnett (2 2B), and Ben Orloff (2B) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Delino DeShields

Tri-City (13-18)

The ValleyCats played the longest game in team history (4:40), and ended up losing to Connecticut 15-9 in 13 innings. Lots of pitchers used, as you can imagine. Juri Perez gave up 7H/4ER, 2K:3BB in 4IP; Garrett Bullock threw 2IP, 1ER; Travis Blankenship threw 1IP, 2H/1ER; Joan Belliard and Ryan Cole threw scoreless outings, Travis Smink gave up 2ER, and Kristian Bueno got tagged up for 6ER (3H/4BB) in 1IP, taking the loss.

Drew Muren and Bubby Williams each went 4x7 with 3RBI; Brandon Meredith was 3x5, and Neiko Johnson (3BB), Matt Duffy (RBI, BB), and Jacke Healey (HR, 2RBI) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Drew Muren AND Bubby Williams.

Greeneville (10-19)

The Gastros had twice as many errors (4) as they had hits (2) in a 5-0 loss at Kingsport. Luis Ordosgoitti threw 4IP, 6H/4ER, 3K:0BB; Scott Zuloaga gave up a hit in 0.2IP; Mark Jones allowed 2H/1ER, 2K:1BB in 0.2IP, and Jeremiah Meiners allowed 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB in 2.2IP.

Chase Davidson (2B) and Chan-Jong Moon had your only hits of the game, while Jorge Sosa and Jesse Wierzbicki drew a walk. Errors were from Ordosgoitti, Darwin Rivera, Ernesto Genoves, and Moon.

Man of the Match: Jeremiah Meiners

GCL Astros (7-19)

And the GCL Astros got shutout 5-0 at the hands of the Marlins. Tanner Bushue made a rehab start, allowing 2H/1ER, 2K:0BB in 3IP; Michael Feliz allowed 5H/4R (2ER), 5K:2BB in 4IP, and Zach Hardoin threw a scoreless IP.

Yonathan Mejia (2B) and Jean Carlos Batista (SB) had two hits each, Javaris Reynolds and Joe Witkowski (BB) had the other hits. Kyle Redinger got tossed in the 7th after going 0x3 with 3K.

Man of the Match: Yonathan Mejia

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Count the Red Sox in on Pence

The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham says you can chalk Boston's name up as those who would be interested in Pence.

Start with Ryan Lavarnway, Will Middlebrooks or Ryan Kalish. Toss in any pitcher not named Anthony Ranaudo (meaning Kyle Weiland, Felix Doubront, Alex Wilson or Stephen Fife) and then whatever else it takes. Josh Reddick, Che-Hsuan Lin, Bryce Brentz, etc.

No Ranaudo, no Jose Iglesias. Other than that, it's a good move.

Phillies checked on Pence

The Phillies - predictably - have checked in on Hunter Pence, but according to Danny Knobler, there "probably" (or, more accurately, "prob") is not a deal.

Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but the Phillies are open to dealing Jonathan Singleton - Philly's 19-year old outfielder, currently hitting .278/.382/.394 for High-A Clearwater.

Astros open to trading Pence?

Buster Olney tweeted the following:

Sources: HOU shows willingness to trade Pence; rival executives expect he will move. Braves have prospects to make deal happen; we'll see.

Oh, Buster, we WILL see.

Olney's tweet comes about an hour and a half after David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted that that the Braves were nearing a deal for a RH hitter.

Brewers talking 'bout Barmes

Jerry Crasnick says that the Brewers have had some internal discussions about acquiring Clint Barmes.

I'm not sure exactly what Milwaukee has to offer, basically having cleaned out the prospect closet to get Zack Greinke. But whatever.

Xavier Cedeno sent to Oklahoma City

Not quite sure what Dallas Keuchel has to do to get some love, but our buddy Greg Rajan let everyone know that, to make room for Jason Stoffel, the Astros have sent Xavier Cedeno up to Oklahoma City.

Henry Sosa is currently injured, but when he gets back, another move will have to be made, and Sosa will work out of the rotation.

Xavier Cedeno: 108.2IP, 98H/46ER, 109K:42BB, 3.82 ERA/1.29 WHIP
Dallas Keuchel: 108.1IP, 100H/38ER, 63K:25BB, 3.16 ERA/1.15 WHIP

The only thing I can see is the strikeout rates, but at least someone is moving up...

From the Office of the County Clerk - G98: Astros v. Nationals

Altuve Day turns into a win as the Astros defeat Washington 3-2 in 11 innings.

*This is the first home series win since May 23-25, when the Astros took two of three against the Dodgers.

*It's the first two-game win streak since the Astros won at Dodger Stadium on June 17-18. It's the first time the Astros have won back-to-back games at home since April 30/May 1.

*Brett Myers threw well enough to deserve the win (though he didn't get it), going 7IP, 8H/2ER, 4K:2BB. It's his second quality start in a row, and the first time he has allowed two earned runs in a start since June 22. This game snaps a four-game losing streak for Myers, as he gets his first win since June 17.

*Enerio Del Rosario threw a perfect 8th inning to extend his scoreless streak to eight games. Mark Melancon also threw a perfect 9th. In July, Melancon has thrown 8.1IP, allowing 3H/4R (2ER), 5K:4BB.

*The Astros again got a double-digit hit game, with 12, giving them five 10+ hit-games in their last seven. They also drew five walks, most since June 16 (at home vs. Pittsburgh).

*Hunter Pence managed three walks and a hit today - his first three walk game of the season, and first since July 31, 2009.

*Michael Bourn was 2x6, and Clint Barmes and Humberto Quintero (RBI) also had two hits. It's Bourn's third multi-hit game in the last five days, and he's hitting .323 in July. Barmes was 2x5, and is 15x50 with 5XBH in July, as well.

*But the Happy Story of the Day is Jose Altuve. He flied out to right on the first pitch in the 1st, flied out to center on a 2-2 pitch in the 3rd, flied out to center on a 2-1 pitch in the 5th, struck out swinging to end the 7th, and singled to right on a 1-2 pitch in the 9th for his first Major League hit.

*Jason Michaels got his first go-ahead hit of the season with the game-winner in the 11th.

*Man of the Match: I'm tempted to go with Altuve, just on general principle, but this goes to Brett Myers.

*Goat of the Game: Yeah, he got two hits, but it's going to Clint Barmes. With one out in the bottom of the 8th, with the bases loaded, against Tyler Clippard, Barmes fouled out first, when a flyball to the outfield would have scored a run. Then, in the 10th, Barmes GIDPd to end the inning.

Jim Bowden, on the Keppinger trade

Interesting (Insider-only) take from Jim Bowden, on the Keppinger trade:

"Keppinger is nothing more than a utility player and not a difference-maker. He was never going to be part of a contending team in Houston, so any return for him is a bonus. If Stoffel's command of the fastball arrives, he'll be a decent bullpen piece."

Sabean, on the Keppinger trade

Andrew Baggarly talked to Giants GM Brian Sabean to find out how the Keppinger trade went down:

Giants G.M. Brian Sabean said he talked with the Astros about Keppinger a week ago but switched gears and engaged another club on "something we thought was much bigger." Sabean might have been referring to Minnesota Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer; sources confirmed that Giants officials had expressed interest in Cuddyer with an eye toward playing him at second base.

But after Tejada strained a lower abdominal muscle Monday night, Sabean went for the quickest play. He agreed to part with Stoffel, a hard-throwing former closer at the University of Arizona.

Astros shopping Wandy/Myers

Jon Heyman heard that the Astros are shopping Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez:

keep hearing #astros execs asked by new owner to pare payroll to $60M. unloading keppinger a start. shopping wandy/myers

Wandy and Myers will combine to make $21m next season. The big piece of the payroll pie is obviously Carlos Lee ($18.5m), and Brandon Lyon will make $5.5m. Pence and Bourn are arbitration eligible again, and could feasibly command upwards of $20m in arbitration raises. So Keppinger was a start, but if the goal is to get payroll to $60m, it's by no means the end.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G97: Astros v. Nationals

Chalk it up! Happ get his 4th win of the season with a 7-6 Astros win over Washington.

*Happ threw 5.2IP, 7H/5ER, 3K:4BB, 2HR, yet still recorded the win. It's the fourth straight game in which Happ has allowed 5ER with 3+ walks and at least one homer allowed.

*It's the first win for Happ since May 14, and also the first game Happ has pitched in since May 14 that the Astros have won, bringing their record to 4-15 in his starts, and 5-20 since the beginning of September 2010.

*David Carpenter finally allowed an earned run, bringing his scoreless streak to an end at 4.1IP and five appearances.

*The Astros walked five batters in the win - the most walks the Astros have issued in a win since June 22 (5BB vs. Tex, 5-3 win).

*With 11 hits, it's the third time in the last four games the Astros have had double-digit hits (2-2). All of those hits came courtesy of five players.

*Michael Bourn was 3x5 with 3RBI, giving him a five-game hit streak, and the same number of RBIs as he had from June 22 through July 18.

*Carlos Lee, Chris Johnson, Clint Barmes, and Humberto Quintero had two hits each on the night. Your top four in the lineup (Bourn, Sanchez, Wallace, Pence) were 3x18 (all hits from Bourn), while your 5-8 went 8x15.

*Five of the Astros runs came with two outs (two from Barmes and three from Bourn), as the Astros went 4x8 w/RISP.

*Man of the Match: Michael Bourn

*Goat of the Game: Going with Mark Melancon who, even though he hit Mike Morse and walked Jayson Werth, got Wilson Ramos to strike out to end the game and preserve a win.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The First Domino Falls: Keppinger traded

Let's get 2012 underway, shall we? The Astros have traded Jeff Keppinger to the Giants for RHPs Jason Stoffel and Henry Sosa. Jose Altuve's contract has been purchased, and he is on his way to Houston, where Mills promises:

I can tell you he's playing second base tomorrow. He's my second baseman. We didn't bring him here to sit him."

Let's come back to that, because I want to end this on a high note.

The two pitchers the Astros got in return for Keppinger are Jason Stoffel and Henry Sosa.

About Jason Stoffel. He'll be 23 in September, a 6'2" 225lb RHP drafted by the Giants in the 4th Round of the 2009 draft. He's a reliever - in 32 games for Double-A Richmond, Stoffel has thrown 31.2IP, 34H/14ER, 31K:16BB for a 3.98 ERA/1.58 WHIP. FanGraphs lists his FIP at a more friendly 3.36, and is also suffering from a .347 BABIP.

Not eight hours ago Stoffel was profiled by MiLB, where we find he was a history major at Arizona, and enjoys military history.

Richmond pitching coach Ross Grimsley on Stoffel:
"He has an overpowering fastball at times. Sometimes he can be erratic. He will fall behind and throw a fastball down the middle, but everyone does that at times. He gets too quick in his delivery at times."

Henry Sosa is a 6'1" 205lb 25-year old RHP from the Dominican Republic. He's been in the Giants system since 2006, and spent his time in Triple-A Fresno, also as a reliever, but has been in Double-A Richmond as a starter for the last six games.

As a starter for Richmond, Sosa has thrown 34.2IP, allowing 38H/12ER, 29K:8BB for a 3.12 ERA/1.33 WHIP. His FIP for Richmond is 2.33 (for those of you concerned about that 10.41 ERA for Triple-A Fresno, his FIP is "just" 5.90). Opponents are hitting .258 off of Sosa at Richmond, and that's with a .328 BABIP.

Sosa had been DFA'd back on May 26. And no one claimed him off of waivers. For what it's worth.

A couple of things about this trade:

1. We can be happiest for Jose Altuve.

One year ago, Altuve was in Lexington. He was coming off a 2009 where, between Lexington and Greeneville, he had an .838 OPS. People (you know who they are) had only really heard of him after he hit .408 for Lancaster, and showed that it wasn't exactly a fluke in 35 games at Corpus. If anyone knew of him, it was because he's 5'7" (and by "5'7"" we of course mean, "5'5""). And then he got to the Futures Game, and The Baseball Conglomerate acted like Pavement fans who say, "Oh yeah, I saw them play Neumo's. Whatever."

By all accounts, Altuve is a great person, and a great ball player. And at least he made it before Jean Segura.

Now we know the Astros are willing to promote from Double-A. I've seen your tweets. You're upset that J.D. Martinez is still in Corpus. But if you call him up, where are you going to put him? On the bench? I'd rather he play every day in Corpus than get Bogusevic'ed in Houston. But, if the Astros deal Bourn or Pence (or both), there is now the precedent that a J.D. Martinez sighting could come to pass now that the Astros pulled the first block out of the Jenga cube.

2. We can also be happy for Jeff Keppinger.

Keppinger said he wanted to stay in Houston, but come on. What else is he going to say? So feel free to just ignore that. But Keppinger didn't publicly complain when Ed Wade romanced the pooch and signed Bill Hall. Despite having a career year in 2010, Wade apparently never felt comfortable with Keppinger in the lineup. So good for him for upgrading his station (although Anywhere would be an upgrade over the Astros).

3. We can be disappointed with Ed Wade.

Seriously, with the relievers? (I know, Sosa is back to being a starter). The Tigers and Indians were thought to be interested in Keppinger, and possibly the Brewers, as well. This was the best deal available? It's the type of deal where we won't know the outcome for a few years, but neither Sosa nor Stoffel were in Sickels' Top 20, Baseball America's Top 10, Baseball Prospectus' Top 20, or FanGraphs' Top 10 prospects list.

To be fair, when Wade traded Pedro Feliz for David Carpenter, we thought, "Okay, whatever." And that has turned out pretty well.

4. This was not a salary dump.

But to call this deal a "salary dump" is ridiculous. The Astros are saving about $900,000 and an arbitration year. Or what Carlos Lee makes in about nine games. The real salary savings are going to come with Lee (don't hold your breath), Myers, Wandy, Bourn, or Pence. Keppinger's trade is hopefully the first of many.

But let's watch the little guy do his thing.

Boston Globe: Don't do it!

The Boston Globe's Chad Finn has an interesting take on the Trade Hunter hype:

He's 28, makes $6.9 million, has two more years of arbitration eligibility ahead, and is their only appealing asset, other than arguably Bud Norris and Wandy Rodriguez. If the Astros can make a deal that instantly revives their barren farm system, only then does trading him make sense. But that offer won't come from the Red Sox.

Interview with Jio Mier

So we got a chance to ask Jio Mier some questions and were able to get an update on his knee injury last night. Let's go...

AC: So what happened last night with your knee, and how are you feeling?

JM: I was covering second base on a stolen base and the throw was a little behind me, so I reached back to get it and my left leg was planted in the ground. I went to go tag him, and he (Lake Elsinore's Wande Olabisi) slid in over-aggressively with both cleats up right into my leg, and it collapsed on me. It's feeling better today just a little sore. I'll be ok though.

AC: You're in your second full season with the Astros, can you reflect on your time with the organization? What's been easier/harder than you expected coming out of high school?

JM: Well, coming into pro ball I knew the daily grind was going to be tough playing every day. So the hardest thing has been getting my body prepared, but after last year I used it as a learning experience on how to prepare this year, how to maintain weight, and being mentally focused day in and day out.

AC: For Greeneville in 2009 you hit .276/.380/.484, and then saw a little bit of a drop-off for Lexington in 2010. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make last year, and what were you working on this past off-season to prepare for 2011?

JM: This off-season I really focused on getting rid of the bad habits I had formed in 2010. Hitting is a lot of muscle memory, so everyday I tried to build good muscle memory and tried to simplify my swing as much as I can to get back to trusting myself and my hands.

AC: What are some of the differences in the skill level between Greeneville and Lexington, and Lexington and Lancaster? Does your day-to-day preparation change?

JM: To be honest, I really don't see a big difference between the levels. Here in Lancaster there are some pitchers that do throw all their pitches for strikes, but other than that it's still the same game.

AC: Overall, your OBP and SLG are up about 20 points in 2011 over your 2010 levels - what are you working on during the season to improve?

JM: I'm seeing the ball a lot better. Last year for most of the first half I wasn't seeing the ball as well as I am now, and that is making me recognize pitches better and balls and strikes. With that, I'm more aggressive with the strikes I get.

AC: You signed relatively early for a 1st Round draft pick, forgoing a scholarship to USC. The Astros haven't - as of right this minute - signed their 2011 draft pick, George Springer. What are the negotiations like for a 1st Round pick, and what's going through Springer's mind as the signing deadline nears?

JM: Well, it's a lot of back and forth communicating between agent and front office, and agent and player. I know George is with my agency, actually, but when I was drafted I went about it a little differently; I told them that I would like to sign quicker than later and that I wanted to get my career started, so my agent went about it in a much different way than Springer. It's definitely a fun experience, but at the same time it is also hectic seeing how you want a deal to happen.

AC: Have you been given any indication from the Astros on your next steps?

JM: I haven't been told anything. They don't really say anything throughout the season, but as of right now I'm just here in Cali and whatever they decide next I'll be up for it.

Big thanks (and best wishes) to Jio Mier for the injury update and the insights.

Updates on Mier, Wates

Zach Levine has your Lancaster Meat Wagon updates:

On Jiovanni Mier:
Diagnosed with a sprained knee, and will be examined today in Lancaster.

On Austin Wates:
Placed on DL with a strained hamstring.

Sizemore's injury may turn the Tribe's interest to Bourn

With Grady Sizemore ending up on the DL - yet again - thanks to a right knee injury, Jon Paul Morosi says that the Indians could turn their attention to Melky Cabrera, Coco Crisp, or (gasp!) Michael Bourn. They may also look at Wandy to bolster their rotation.

Ubaldo a "longshot" for Yankees

Jon Heyman tweeted that the Yankees aren't willing to trade a big prospect for a reliever, but are still looking for starting pitching. He called a Yankees/Rockies deal for Ubaldo Jimenez a "longshot."

Would they turn to Wandy? Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Wandy has made 82 starts, posting a 3.38 ERA/1.29 WHIP, and a 2.78 K:BB ratio, with a 117 OPS+. Ubaldo Jimenez, in the same timeframe, has made 84 starts, with a 3.35 ERA/1.22 WHIP, a 2.32 K:BB ratio, and a 139 OPS+.

Jimenez' contract is much friendlier ($20.75m through 2014, with buyouts in 2013/14) than Wandy's contract ($7m in 2011, $10m in 2012, $13m in 2013, and his $13m option for 2014 becomes a player option if he's traded), but what's $43m to the Yankees?

Justice: Crane's approval doesn't hinge on AL move

Richard Justice's blog post this morning takes on The Assumption:

Despite reports elsewhere, Jim Crane’s approval as the new owner of the Astros does not hinge on his agreeing to move to the American League. He’s going to be approved as owner because he’s willing to pay $680 million for the club, thereby raising every other franchise’s value.

Yankees had scouts watching Wandy

WFAN is reporting that the Yankees had scouts on hand in Houston to watch Wandy pitch against Pittsburgh.

If you click the link, you'll find the story is mainly about the Yankees' interest in Ubaldo Jimenez. But if the Rockies screw up the process, the Yankees may turn to Wandy.

They like top Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero, but also want young pitchers Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Ivan Nova in the package. Heyman said New York is willing to ship pitching prospects — but not any of those three.

Of course the Astros wouldn't be interested in Montero, with Jason Castro coming back in 2012, but I would imagine the Astros would ask for one or two of Banuelos, Betances, and/or Nova.

UPDATE: Treating Montero as a catcher - as you'll note in the comments - is not necessarily a given, and he could be shifted to 1B. Depending on how the Astros feel about Brett Wallace, this could complicate things.

Jonathan Meyer has probably already worked out more than you have today

Here's an article from Jonathan Meyer's hometown paper on what a workhorse he is.

Lancaster manager Tom Spencer:
"He leads by example. He plays so hard. He doesn't cut corners. I would like to tell him, 'Hey, no groundballs tomorrow.' He would say, 'Why?' and I'll say 'Because I need a day off. You're wearing me out.' That's the kind of kid he is."

Meyer's high school coach:
"You watch him in the offseason and you know it's going to happen. When the organization decides to move him, he'll be ready to play. He'll keep working hard. He's never going to rest on his laurels."

Castro takes BP!

Jason Castro is optimistic he could return to the Astros by the end of the season.

"I definitely still have a little bit to go. Hitting, I feel pretty good right now. I'm still working on easing into squatting a little bit, and my running's coming along pretty good. I've got some time still to go, but I can tell I'm getting closer with stuff like this today."

Mier takes one to the knee

Jordan Comadena tweeted late last night about Jiovanni Mier:

Really hoping that (Mier) is going to be ok. Took a tough shot to his knee at second base tonight. Thoughts and prayers go to him tonight.


Lancaster's Austin Wates was placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to July 17, and the JetHawks activated Erik Castro from the self-same DL.

*Adam Champion was also assigned to Tri-City from Lexington (July 16)

Eddie's Farm: July 18

Oklahoma City (41-55)

That's a wild one right there in Albuquerque: with the Isotopes taking a 6-2 lead into the 7th, OKC were the anti-Astros, and scored six of the final seven runs for an 8-7 OKC win. Nelson Figueroa allowed 9H/6ER, 3K:3BB, 2HR, WP in 6IP (5.91 ERA at OKC); Sam Gervacio picked up the win, with 1H/0ER in 1.1IP; Doug Arguello got the two batters he faced, and Mickey Storey got his 2nd save of the season with 2H/1ER, 1K:0BB.

Drew Locke was 3x4 with a triple, walk, and an RBI and Tommy Manzella was 2x4 with a double and a two-run homer (3RBI total). J.R. Towles was 1x3 with a solo homer and a stolen base; and Luis Durango (2B), J.B. Shuck (2RBI), and Koby Clemens had a hit and a walk.

Man of the Match: Tommy Manzella

Corpus (35-58)

Corpus hit four homers, but still managed to lose to Midland 15-8, thanks to an 8-run 5th by the Rockhounds. Ross Seaton allowed 10H/7R (6ER), 3K:1BB, with two of those runs allowed by Pat Urckfitz, who gave up three of his own and failed to record an out. Blake King allowed 1H/1ER, 5K:2BB in 2IP; Arcenio Leon got tagged for 5H/4ER, 1K:1BB in 1.1IP, and Danny Meszaros walked one in 1.1IP.

Jimmy Van Ostrand went 3x5 with a solo homer for your only three-hit game; Jonathan Villar (HR, 2RBI, BB), Jose Altuve (HR, 3RBI), Kodu Hinze (HR, RBI, BB), and Chris Wallace (2 2B, RBI) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Jose Altuve

Lancaster (37-58)

Lake Elsinore scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th for a 4-2 win over Lancaster. Jake Buchanan threw 6IP, giving up 6H/1ER, 4K:2BB, Shane Wolf allowed 1H in 1IP, and Mike Ness gets the Ugly with 4H/3ER (BS/L) in 1IP.

Jose Carlos Thompson (2B) and Adam Bailey (HR, RBI) had two hits each; Andy Simunic drew a walk and hit a double.

Man of the Match: Jake Buchanan

Lexington (45-50)

Lexington blew a 5-1 lead, turning it into a 6-5 deficit after five innings, but scored three runs in the bottom of the 7th for an 8-6 win over Hagerstown. Alex Sogard allowed 6H/5ER, 8K:3BB in 4.1IP; Jason Chowning got the win with 2H/1ER in 2.2IP; Brian Streilein (3K, 2WP) and David Martinez each threw an IP allowing a hit but no ER.

Delino DeShields (RBI, 2SB), Mike Kvasnicka (RBI), Emilio King (HR, 3RBI), and Ben Orloff (HR, RBI, BB) had two hits each; Jay Austin (RBI), Telvin Nash (HR, RBI), and Bryce Lane had a hit and a walk.

Man of the Match: Emilio King

Tri-City (12-17)

Staten Island never trailed in this game, though Tri-City came back from a 4-0 deficit to tie it up in the 5th. Ultimately, SI's final eight runs were too much in a 12-4 win over the ValleyCats. Adam Champion - just sent to Tri-City from Lexington - allowed 5H/4ER, 2K:2BB in 3IP; Dayan Diaz took the loss, giving up 2H/5ER, 5K:3BB in 2.2IP; Travis Blankenship allowed 1H/2ER, 3K:1BB in 2IP and Joan Belliard gave up a three-run homer in 1.1IP (allowing both of Blankenship's ERs).

John Hinson had your only multi-hit game of the night, while Zach Johnson and Brandon Meredith had a hit and a walk. Miles Hamblin, Ryan McCurdy, Bubby Williams, and Kellen Kiilsgaard had RBIs.

Man of the Match: John Hinson

Greeneville (9-18)

Greeneville scored four runs in the top of the 7th to take a 5-4 lead, which Kingsport tied up in the bottom of the 9th to send it to extras. But Chan-Jong Moon picked a fine time to hit his first HR of the season - in the 11th - for a 6-5 win over Kingsport. Jose Perdomo threw 4IP, giving up 6H/3ER, 5K:1BB; Danilo Del Rio allowed 4H/1ER in 1.1IP; Rodney Quintero threw 1.2 hitless IP; Scott Zuloaga allowed a hit in 0.1IP; Steve Martin got the Brandon Lyon (BS/W) with 1H/1ER in 2.2IP, and Brad Propst got his first professional save.

Jordan Scott, Jesse Wierzbicki, and the aforementioned Chan-Jong Moon got two hits and a walk. Chase Davidson was 1x4 with a three-run homer and a walk, and Darwin Rivera added another homer. Garen Wright (SB) had a hit, walk, and an RBI.

Man of the Match: Chase Davidson

GCL Astros (7-17)


Monday, July 18, 2011

From the Office of the County Clerk - G96: Astros v. Nationals

Jordan Lyles may never get a win, and the Astros are playing like they're perfectly fine with that. Nationals win 5-2, scoring the final four runs of the game.

*Number of games, out of 96, where the Astros have scored 0-2 runs: 31. Number of games, out of 96, where the Astros have allowed 5+ runs: 53

*Number of runs scored by the Astros in the 7th inning or later: 136. Number of runs allowed by the Astros in the 7th inning or later: 167

*The Astros had a 2-1 lead going into the 7th inning, and then lost it. Record when leading at the beginning of the inning? 22-11.

*Jordan Lyles pitched the best game of his young career, throwing 8.1IP, 5H/4ER, 6K:1BB, and he threw a first-pitch strike to 25 of the 30 batters he faced. Lyles' line was skewed by the complete ineffectiveness of Wilton Lopez, who allowed 2H/1ER, 0K:1BB - and one of Lyles' runs.

*Lopez had made seven appearances without allowing a run, but in his last four appearances (including tonight), he faced 18 batters and seven reached base. That said, he walked his first batter since June 9 - a span of 16 appearances. Still, screw that guy.

*So, the Astros offense did what they do best: Don't get hits with runners in scoring position, and strikeout. They made Jason Marquis look like Don Freaking Drysdale. Marquis' 8IP, 6H/2ER, 9K:1BB marked his 3rd-best Game Score (70) of the season, and his highest in a road start in 2011. His 9K tie a season high.

*Marquis is the 17th pitcher to have a Game Score of 70+ (19 games, Karstens and Hanson have done it twice). It's the 32nd game in which the opposing starter has had a Game Score of 60+ (the Astros have 22 games where the starter has had a Game Score of 60+).

*About that RISP thing, the Astros were 1x12 - with Carlos Corporan getting the lone "clutch" hit of the night. Jason Michaels, who got the start in Brett Wallace's place, was 0x2 (1x4, 3K on the night), as were Michael Bourn and Chris Johnson.

*So with RISP, the Astros are hitting .261. In 967 PAs w/RISP in 2011, the Astros have 25 GIDPs, and 10 homers.

*So far in July, the Astros have a K:BB ratio of 91K:17BB, and are 2-12.

*Carlos Lee was 2x3 with a walk and an RBI - his first such game since July 6.

*In the four games since the All-Star Break, Hunter Pence is 3x15 with no extra-base hits.

*Jeff Keppinger was 0x4 with a strikeout, his first K since June 24 (64 PAs). It's been 79 PAs since he last drew a walk (June 19).

*Man of the Match: Jordan Lyles

*Goat of the Game: Jason Michaels, and consequently, Brad Mills.

Astros sign 29th Round pick

According to Stephen Goff, the Astros have signed 29th Round pick Wallace Gonzalez.

Castro to take BP

A rehabbing Jason Castro will apparently take BP with the team tonight before the game. Thought you should know.

Here's why, for God's sake, Wallace isn't playing tonight

You may have seen the lineup for the Astros against Washington tonight. If you have, and your blood pressure didn't immediately spike, you have moved past Apathy, because the Astros are facing Jason Marquis - a right-handed pitcher - and Mills is still sitting Brett Wallace.

Why? Alyson Footer has the details (combined for your viewing pleasure):
Mills said he called Wallace to his office after game yesterday. Told him he doesn't have him in lineup today. Said "you had two hits last night, your approach at the plate for 3 or 4 days is much better. Stay with that. This is nothing against you." Noted Carlos and JMike's numbers against Marquis are good. Wants to play them.

This makes me want to break my Mickey Mouse Astros bobblehead (yeah, I have one of those), because it's so very obviously not a long-term decision. It's about winning one game, and this season isn't about winning one game anymore. 2011 has evolved into winning games in 2012, 2013, and beyond. Sitting Brett Wallace against a lefty is stupid, if only because it prevents him from learning to hit against lefties. Sitting him against a right-handed pitcher because Jason Michaels is 7x10 against Marquis is downright criminal for the future of the franchise.

Using Mark Melancon

Here's a good piece shared with us by Citizen Andrew on the usage of Mark Melancon in Sunday's loss to the Pirates.

We admittedly missed the game for various reasons and, personally, I'm a happier man for it.

What A Team Wants; What A Team Needs

So this will be an ongoing post, updated and reposted as necessary, in which we try to figure out potential matches for the Astros as July turns into 2012 and beyond. And yes, that's a Christina Aguilera reference. There will be no speculation in this post by us, all "Wants/Needs" are sourced.

Update: MLBTR has a list of contender needs.

7/18: Lead-off hitting CF

7/18: SP, OF.

7/18: SP

7/18: OF

7/17: RP

7/16: SP, 3B

Yankees "suitably appalled" at the Astros

Jon Heyman says that Wandy's contract is going to make it tough to trade him, even for the Yankees - who are very obviously God's gift to baseball:

The other starters on the market are mostly No. 3 or even No. 4 or No. 5 starters, and many of them are on bad contracts (even the Yankees are suitably appalled by the Astros' three-year deal with Wandy Rodriguez where the fourth-year club option turns into a player option if he is traded).

And on Crane and his expectations:
Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is said to be asking their baseball people to get their payroll down to $60 million, which has them shopping both Rodriguez and Brett Myers. Both pitchers have undesirable contracts, complicating things. Myers' deal calls for an $11 million salary next year. Rivals believe Houston will keep Hunter Pence, one of the few attractive pieces it has.

So, just to recap: Last year the Astros had two incredibly attractive pitchers in Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez. Both were not traded, and then signed contracts worth a combined $53m+. Wandy's stock remains solid on a statistical basis, less so with his contract, but Myers' stock was never higher than it was in July 2010. That stock has obviously dropped precipitously.

In a year where the Astros pulled the trigger on getting rid of Berkman and Oswalt, they decided to hang on to Myers and Wandy, and that may come back to bite them in the rear end. Add to that, the player with the most potential for a greater return - Pence - may not be shopped at all. And add to that, Pence will likely make $12m+ in arbitration next season; if Crane wants to keep payroll around $60m, and Carlos Lee is making $18.5m, Pence and Lee will make up half of the total payroll for the Astros in 2012.

Good times are coming up!

Gammons has some rumors

Peter Gammons has some Astros rumors for you.

Wandy is "definitely on the market."

What could the Astros want for Wandy? A comparable trade might be the Rockies floating Ubaldo Jimenez, and Gammons apparently knows what Colorado wants for him:

What would it take, with a club-friendly contract? One or two Major League level players, one of who would move into the Colorado rotation, and at least two prime prospects. In other words, if the Yankees want Jimenez, the Rockies would need a Major League starter, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and a bat.

If the Astros are willing take one ML-ready player and one prime prospect, they could move to the top of the list.

Washington is apparently interested in Michael Bourn:
Washington isn't selling, except for Tyler Clippard; instead, they keep asking for Michael Bourn -- thus far without success -- and had been one of several teams interested in Julio Borbon until his recent injury.

On trading Hunter Pence

The Pirates are scouting Hunter Pence.

"I've been an Astro my whole career. They're all I know. It's completely out of my hands, so I embrace the challenge of doing what I've got to do each day. In this business, you never know, but it's not something you should focus on."

Anthony Castrovince says that trading Pence is the right thing to do:
The right move now is to explore offers for Pence, because he's going to be both costly and on the wrong side of 30 by the time the Astros are ready to contend again. Furthermore, he could be an attractive piece in this seller's market, which is loaded with clubs (the Phillies spring to mind) looking for offensive assistance, particularly in the outfield. The right-handed power Pence provides is at such a premium that the offers might be overwhelming enough to get a deal done. If not, well, so be it.