Friday, September 16, 2011
“It's exciting,” acknowledged Pence, who'd joined the Phillies at the trade deadline after an early career with the ever-struggling Astros. “It would be my first opportunity to do that in the big leagues. It's something I am not ever going to take for granted because I realize how difficult it is and how fortunate we all are to be a part of this.”
First of all: "Ever-struggling Astros" ? I know in baseball years, the Astros struggles date back to when Moses descended from Mt. Sinai with two tablets (with six commandments on one tablet, and four on the other, causing great consternation among the Car Salesmen in the crowd). But come on. We're talking about three years of "struggling."
Also, yes, Hunter Pence, it is difficult to get to the postseason. Get traded to the best team in baseball midway through the season, from the worst team in baseball to the best, and then do what you've been doing, but for a team with seven other guys just like you. And maybe the best rotation in baseball history.
Nit-picky? Yes. But that's the level of frustration I have right now.
They also named Charley Taylor (GCL pitching coach) the Player Development Man of the Year, and Luis Martinez (DSL manager/coordinator) the International Man of the Year. The latter is a title I would get put on a business card. IMMEDIATELY.
"This was a very difficult decision for me...At this point in time, I'm unable to commit to a full season of putting in the time that is necessary to be effective in that role. But, I do look forward to continuing to work with the Astros."
But in September - around the time Ericka Bagwell filed for divorce - the Astros extended Mills, Arnsberg, Meacham, Pedrique, and Quirk. But not Bagwell. Ed Wade said:
When Jeff accepted the hitting coach's job during the season, he did so with an understanding that we would both have a chance to reassess the situation at season's end. We have clearly stated to Baggy that we want him to continue in the job and he wants to make sure that his family is on board before committing."
So why are we talking about this? For the life of me, I don't know. But we've apparently been sucking it up lately. So here's to you, anonymous.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Bagwell announced in October 2010 that he would not return as hitting coach for the 2011 season.
First of all, Barmes - so far - has hit .249/.323/.395, with a .285 BABIP and a 99 OPS+. He has a .975 Fld%, with the average NL shortstop posting a .971 Fld%. FanGraphs has given him a 3.3 WAR, while Baseball-Reference comes in at 3.2 WAR. His current defensive WAR - at 1.6 - is 4th in the National League. How much would you pay for a shortstop with a solid glove that can do some league-average hitting?
Because FanGraphs puts his value at $14m. He's making just under $4m in 2011, but has his first shot at free agency coming his way in 2012.
Let's keep in mind that Barmes will be 33 on Opening Day 2012 - I wouldn't be interested in giving him more than a two-year deal, especially with Jonathan Villar primed to start 2012 at Corpus. Allowing for a logical progression (which isn't exactly how the Astros operate), a two-year deal for Barmes would expire about the time Villar would be "ready" for the Majors - if it happens.
So. Would a two-year, $10m deal suit Barmes? Based on our $60m Question post from July, the Astros are looking at about $50m in 2012 with guaranteed contracts, and educated guesses for arbitration-eligible players. But that's only six players' worth of contracts. There are 19 other spots to fill (for around League Minimum), so let's give it a $450K average, and we total about $8.5m. That's a payroll of $58.5m, without Barmes.
Of course, the $60 million is allegedly a Crane-mandated figure, which won't mean Jack Crap if he's not the owner, but I'm guessing that if Drayton is running the team, he won't be real interested in overpaying for a team he wasn't planning on keeping. Still, if you look at the free agent shortstop list for this off-season, there are only two players under 30 years old hitting the market: Jose Reyes and Ronny Cedeno. There are only four other impending free agents younger than Barmes who will be free agents: Yuniesky Betancourt, Omar Infante, Cesar Izturis, and Ramon Santiago. And pardon, but they're not exactly worth reaching for.
I bet he'd prefer a three- or four-year deal in the neighborhood of $20-25m, but if that's what he's looking for, he needs to find a different franchise, because it makes no sense for this team. Jose Reyes is going to be the prized shortstop on the market this off-season, with Jimmy Rollins coming in second. Barmes could find himself a pretty attractive - and affordable - target if a team needing a shortstop comes up short (see what I did there?) on Reyes and Rollins.
But if the Astros gave Barmes two years and $10-12m, I wouldn't be too terribly upset. Would you?
Just like last year, Greeneville Astros MVP Jordan Scott made himself available to us for a few questions. Jordan was very receptive to our request for an interview and easy to interact with. Give him a follow on Twitter @jtscott1
You've put together a couple good seasons since being drafted, including being named the MVP for Greeneville this year. What areas of your game do you see as opportunities to improve? There’s room for improvement in every aspect of my game, but my outfield work is what I’d like to focus on the most. It’s been an adjustment to see the ball coming from left field instead of center field like I was used to growing up, so I need to improve on reading the angle of the ball and taking more efficient routes to it.
Do the players pay any attention to what guys like me are saying about them? Obviously any player would be curious about how an outsider perceives them on and off the field, but as players, we tend to focus on the feedback coming from inside the organization rather than the outside.
What do you have going on this offseason? Have the Astros given you any indication of its plans for you next year and going forward? I think offseason is really important to prepare myself for another season, so once instructional league is over I’ll take a few weeks off and start working out at Acceleration Sports Institute with trainers and a few other minor league players. As far as plans for next season, I can never be one hundred percent sure of where I’ll end up, I’m just preparing myself for wherever I do go.
What was your favorite moment this year, both on field and off? On the field: Playing with the
Early in the season you had a chance to play in
It seems like the younger players, such as yourself, are more in tune with social media outlets like twitter. What do you, as a ball player, feel are the benefits and drawbacks of having that level of fan interaction? Has the Astros organization given players any guidance concerning the use of social media? I think having social media helps fans to connect with me on a more personal level which is cool. But sometimes I feel bad for high profile players because it seems the more popular you become, the harder it is to keep professional life separate from personal life. The Astros tell us to be careful of what we post on social media because once you post something, it’s there forever.
What made you want to play baseball? Growing up, I played a lot of sports, but I excelled in baseball and felt most comfortable with it. That’s why I chose to pursue baseball.
What was your favorite team growing up? Favorite player?
At what point did you start to realize you were going to be drafted? I started to realize I was going to get drafted probably the summer after my junior year. I was playing with a pretty good ball team that summer called the Carolina Cyclones and played in a lot of showcase tournaments around the country. A lot of scouts came to the games and watched me throughout the summer and towards the end they started talking to me after the games and a few actually came to my house. So by the end of that summer I realized it was a possibility I was going to get drafted.
What did you do to celebrate? I was on a senior trip in the
What’s the best part of minor league life? The worst? The best part would have to be getting to visit all the cool stadiums the minor league has to offer. Worst would have to be definitely the bus rides and the not so nice hotels you stay at.
What major league player do you compare yourself to? Jacoby Ellsbury. He is a 5 tool player that can do everything well. He has worked real hard to be where he is today and I’m pushing myself to become as good as he is.
I’ve been lamenting the lack of good baseball nicknames the last several years. Do you have a nickname? Most everyone on the team calls me Skinny.
What teammate do you think will be getting people’s attention in the next few years? I played with 3 teams this year and there were a lot of really good ball players I played with. Some guys that I think will be getting a lot of attention in the next few years would be Chase Davidson, Ariel Ovando, Jean Batista, George Springer, Delino Deshields, Mike Kvasnicka.
Brett Myers, J.A. Happ and Bud Norris made the Phillies line-up look like, well, the Phillies current rotation. Four runs on 15 hits in three games against the league’s worst team playing out the string is worse than pitiful. This isn’t how you want the Phillies closing out the season.
it is hard to find too much surprise in the Phillies failing to put forth their absolute best effort in Houston. The Milwaukee series was against a team they might see again come October, but the Astros are dead enders at the end of a road trip. There's not going to be the same urgency. That's understandable, if not desirable. If things don't change once the team is back in Philly, then there's something to worry about. For now, just consider it the revenge of the ex-Phillies and hope that Pat Burrell isn't on a flight to Houston.
The Good Phight:
Folks, these are the glory days of this franchise. It's impossible to understate that. Tell anyone who tries to downplay that fact that they are misanthropes who are better suited for rooting for the late-80s or late-90s version of this franchise. They don't deserve this team.
“J-Mike, he’s still a good guy on a ballclub. He’s going to give you the best at-bat he possibly can each time out. As a veteran guy on a club, you can’t underscore the significant influence that he has.”
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
(* Most plate appearances in a season since 1961 by a player with an OPS+ of 60 or worse, provided that they didn't play at least half their games at 2B, SS, or C)
Michael Bourn's 2008 season - where he hit .229/.288/.300 in 514 PAs - made the Top 20. Glad we could work out those kinks for you, Atlanta.
The story of the decline of the Astros, much like the story of their success, can't be told without a discussion of their owner. Drayton McLane bought the Astros in the summer of 1992, and on balance was an asset to the organization for his first 15 years. Like many owners getting to play with a shiny new toy for the first time, he was impatient. Wanting to make a big splash in his first offseason, he signed star hurlers Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell to four-year contracts. After both were disappointments in Year 1, he tried to release them — until it was explained to McLane that their contracts were, you know, guaranteed.
No one comes out alive. Not Jose Altuve ("your basic David Eckstein starter kit"), or Jordan Lyles ("a precocious high school pitcher who reaches the majors at a young age, but whose mediocre stuff will keep him from being much more than a no. 3 starter") is spared.
Maybe take a nap before you read it, because you're gonna get cranky.
So this will mark the first time since 2008 that the Astros haven't tried to screw with a lefty specialist - Wright in 2009, Abad in 2010 - in the off-season.
Interleague series will come against the Rangers (derp), White Sox, Royals, and Indians.
The Phillies come get swept in Houston from September 13-16, and MLB has given the Astros the screw-gee by scheduling road series on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Thanks, Bud.
Mills, on whether that will mean the Astros need to add another outfielder for the express purpose of keeping Shuck/Bogusevic on the bench:
“I think we can make do. We’ll mix them around or whatever, but I think we’ll be OK.”
He allegedly mumbled, "Or we'll play without a right fielder against left-handed pitching." Working to confirm.
For the second straight night, the Astros, owners of the worst record in baseball, beat up the uncharacteristically sloppy Phillies. Cole Hamels allowed a season-high nine hits and the Phillies, who have the fewest errors in baseball this season, made two errors in a game for the first time in two months.
Delaware County Times:
The Phillies have not clinched a playoff spot. Yet. They will, they just haven’t managed to pop the cork on the champagne, despite needing only one win – or one loss against by the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s because the Phils have gone into lowly Houston and fallen on their face two straight nights. Last night it was Cole Hamels falling to the Astros. The Phils have now lost three straight.
The Phillies just pounded the Braves and Brewers, now they’re forced to fly to Houston and play baseball's rejects? Dangerous circumstances made worse by the fact that former teammates Brett Myers and J.A. Happ were pitching. I’d imagine Myers and Happ spent the better part of Sunday slipping out of SUVs and moping, all while thinking about sticking it to their former team. You can guess who did what.
They managed just five hits on the night, marking the first time in 32 games that the club hasn’t tallied at least six knocks. The fact that the Phils looked so inept against J.A. Happ, of all people, was salt in the wound.
The Houston Astros, post all-star break, are quickly ascending to “hobgoblin” status, as the Phillies dropped their second consecutive game to a fetid assortment of castoffs, has-beens, and fringy prospects that seems to turn into the 1927 Yankees at the mention of the word “Philadelphia.”
The Good Phight:
Maybe we should appreciate this. The almost universal excellence of the 2011 Phillies has meant precious few opportunities for a fan base long steeped in self-pity and paranoia to vent its fear and loathing... but this week in Houston, where the best team in baseball has dropped two straight not particularly close contests to the worst team in the game, fits the bill.
There's been whispers of 1964 already, and we'll have more talk on that year later in the month on this blog, but for now it's Houston and a slight signal that there may be a problem. We'll see what happens this afternoon when the Phils and the Astros wrap this series up.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Crane and his sources could say that it’s the unwillingness to jump to the American League that ultimately doomed the sale. The league will say it’s a number of issues, but not say one way or the other on the jump from the NL. Hypothetically, Crane could have an out. His character ultimately wouldn’t be the reason for the deal not going through. In other words, Crane would save face.
With no one being able to come to a solid conclusion on just what is holding up the sale, it's certainly possible that it's all a way for Crane to back out, save his (and his investors', and Bank of America's) $680 million and go home. And we're back to Drayton.
"We've always heard you can't evaluate too much in Spring Training or September, but we can get an idea and we can kind of have our wish list. We want guys to earn spots in Spring Training as we move forward."
"Andrew is a partner here, he's a partner of mine. And he treats this organization even better than I possibly can. There's nothing to report on that. We've been at it now, it'll be six years, and it doesn't feel like six years, and I would think we would keep the band together another six years."
Before Vance Worley, there was J.A. Happ.
He was a rookie in 2009, the unexpected jolt to a Phillies rotation that needed one. Happ won 12 games, posted a 2.93 ERA, and tossed two shutouts. Two years later, he is one of the worst pitchers in baseball, toiling in the obscurity that is life as a Houston Astro.
Gelb goes on to ask Happ why he sucks, and then shows that 2011 Worley is a lot like 2009 Happ. Anyone else feel like throwing batteries at Happ?
Monday, September 12, 2011
Let's look back at what happened since that time:
Since acquiring Oswalt, the Phillies are 135-67 in regular season games (and 5-4 in playoff games). And for the Astros, since trading Oswalt away, they have been 82-114.
Roy Oswalt has dealt with injuries in 2011, but in 31 starts for the Phillies, Oswalt has posted a 14-9 record, with a 2.88 ERA / 1.18 WHIP - both of those numbers better than his 10-year numbers in Houston. In Oswalt's starts, the Phillies are 19-13, with a 9-10 record in 2011. According to FanGraphs, in 2010/11, Oswalt was worth 6.7 WAR, making $31m in 2010/11 (with the Astros covering $11m).
J.A. Happ, the ML-ready pitcher acquired as part of the Phillies' package, is 10-19 with Houston (38 starts), with a 5.07 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP (oh, for the Phillies, that was a 3.11 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 47 appearances). The Astros are 10-28 when Happ pitches. Happ has been worth 1.0 WAR, making about $944,000 over the two seasons.
Was the deal worth it? Like the Pence trade, it's too soon to tell. But if Happ continues to put up an ERA on the wrong side of 5.00 (or an xFIP of 4.63, as he has in 2011), and Brett Wallace doesn't contribute, then the Astros are putting all of their Roy-O eggs in Jonathan Villar's basket. And he's at least two years away from knowing for sure.
“The good thing is I think there will probably be just as many Phillies fans there in Houston. So hopefully I won't get booed too much.”
Seriously, Roy. Try to give it a shot.