Thursday, December 22, 2011

The middle infielder situation gets a little less cloudy

So Anderson Hernandez has signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates.

Who does this affect? Not Jed Lowrie or Jose Altuve, your presumed 2012 middle infielders, but it creates a free spot at 2B at OKC. This could be a place for Brian Bixler, but it also could be a place for Brandon Wikoff, or Jose Carlos Thompson - both of whom spent time at Corpus in 2011.

The Astros might cut Quintero to sign Pudge

Oh Jon Heyman, how you titillate us. Heyman tweeted:

Heard houston might not keep quintero. #pudge a possibility.

Well, wouldn't that be interesting, and I have no idea what to make of this. We're talking about backup catchers here, right? Because at some point Castro will be healthy (ideally). But Quintero and the Astros avoided arbitration with a $1m+ deal, which isn't necessarily guaranteed. Will Pudge sign for that amount? Will he be better at nurturing young Jason Castro? Does it even matter, at all?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Would you re-sign Roy?

So apparently Roy Oswalt has been convinced that a multi-year deal isn't a great idea right now, and he would be open to a one-year deal. The question is: Would he make sense for the Astros?

Answer (for me, anyway): Yes. But only if it's on the condition that Wandy or Myers is traded. Why? Let's examine, shall we?

Yeah. Oswalt gets hurt. He has a back like my grandmother, and he'll be 34 in 2012. On the surface, he doesn't exactly fit what the Astros are trying to do. But if his goal is to re-establish value, then he really only needs to put together a solid half-season in Houston.

Let's say - as a pre-condition - that the Astros trade Wandy and/or Myers. Trading one would net $6-7 million in 2012 (because the recipient certainly won't be paying for the whole player) and prospects, depending on the one who is traded. If the Astros offer $10 million to Roy on a one-year contract (even with pitching only 139IP in 2011, FanGraphs listed his value at $11m), he can set himself up for a longer deal in 2012 and beyond if he pitches well enough to get traded at the deadline, ideally bringing back more prospects (or one good one).

By doing so, the Astros would be on the hook for about $6m of that $10m, which trading Wandy/Myers would off-set.

And if Roy is looking for the next contract, it makes sense to return to the scene where he enjoyed quite a lot of success. At Minute Maid Park, Roy has a career 2.92 ERA/1.12 WHIP. His 4.05 K:BB ratio is the second-highest rate among stadiums where he has made more than ten starts.

Maybe Roy isn't interested in coming back to Houston. Maybe Houston burned its bridge in 2010. But maybe the Astros could use the oft-whispered Veteran Presence on the rotation should a trade happen to allow it. There is likely nothing to it. But it is December 20. And we can't keep writing about how much we love Jeff Luhnow, or Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame chances, forever. We need that space in January.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The most unbelievable believable thing you'll read all night

Richard Justice a hot little rumor:

Hearing former Astros GM Ed Wade will end up back with Phillies as a scout

There are simply too many jokes that I can't pick just one.

Update: You know, the joke actually makes itself. No need for another one.

Looking back at the 2011 ZIPS projections

So earlier today, Dan Szymborski posted the 2012 Astros ZIPS projections which, as clack says at TCB:

ZIPS is one of the more respected systems for projecting player performance. I won't say it's the best system, because that is hard to determine. But the godawful Astros' projections of the last couple of years have identified some problem areas for the roster that would materialize during the year.

Let's see what ZIPS projected for 2011 vs. what really happened (selected players):


I'm not committed enough to look at the pitchers, but we can break this down: ZIPS-projected ERA+ and actual ERA+:

Wandy: (ZIPS) 109, (Actual) 109
Myers: 101, 85
Happ: 94, 71
Norris: 91, 100
Lyles: 84, 71

So take from this what you will. No projection system is perfect, as it can't figure in playing time. But ZIPS is historically pretty good.

These ZIPS projections are rated NC-17

Dan Szymborski has your ZIPS projections for the Astros. And hey, Jim Crane, I hope you got a prenup with Luhnow.

The long reckoning expected by observers for an organization that had a GM in Ed Wade that simultaneously ignored the major leagues, the minors leagues, and any kind of thrift, finally came to pass, with no late season mirage of adequacy to convinced the team to double-down on failure.

Browse for yourself, but here are some highlights:

Some interesting projections:
Carlos Lee: .273/.323/.441
J.D. Martinez: .281/.335/.414
Jed Lowrie: .249/.316/.414
Jordan Schafer: .224/.291/.320

Oh, it's not pretty

Brian Bixler clears waivers

In order to make room for the incoming Lowrie/Weiland, Brian Bixler was designated for assignment. He cleared waivers, and has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A OKC, and will be at Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

The Astros need a Double-A manager

The Astros will be looking for a new manager at Corpus after moving previous manager Tom Lawless (who had previously been at Lancaster) to Roving Instructor.

This may be the first of what could be a number of changes related to player development.

New ownership creates challenge for minor-league affiliates

With a captip to Citizen Andrew, we find this article, from the Troy (NY) Record, in which the ValleyCats are just waiting and seeing what will happen under the Crane/Postolos/Luhnow regime...

ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy:
“I just can’t imagine a guy spending $615 million on a business, especially a (ball)club that had the worst record in both leagues and not want to turn that around or make changes...I would think that the performance on the field is going warrant a close examination of what’s going on (with) baseball (player) development. So, from there, I would anticipate, that from the scouting, player personnel, right on through, will be scrutinized."

It's noted within the article that the Astros have PDC (Professional Development Contracts) with the ValleyCats through the 2012 season, and could be making a change in 2013. This makes no sense, unless the ValleyCats want out. But I can't imagine that the Astros want to part ways with Tri-City, since attendance is solid; and I can't imagine that the ValleyCats wouldn't want to see what the Luhnow regime has in store for them - it has to be better than what they've put up with over the past few years.

Also up for negotation at the end of the 2012 season are the PDCs for Oklahoma City, Lancaster, and Lexington.

Hardball Times makes the case for Bagwell

The Hardball Times' Chris Jaffe makes the HOF case for our very own Jeff Bagwell, who really doesn't need a case made for his HOF credentials, would it not be for the asinine, irresponsible "journalists" who are out hunting for witches with rubber ducks and fudge rounds.

Money quote:
The 19th-century guys played too far back in a much weaker overall league. Mize was a lot like Bagwell—power, average, walks—but had an even shorter career. Bagwell had fewer homers than McCovey, but more extra-base hits, more times on base and fewer outs. In his New Historical Abstract, Bill James ranks Bagwell the third-best first baseman ever, first among all NL ones.

Personally, I might take McCovey over him due to the difference in eras (McCovey played in the pitcher-happy 1960s), but if there’s a credible case that Bagwell is the best at his position in the history of his league, that’s an argument for induction. His best challenge to the title is the guy who emerged later on, Albert Pujols.

Chat at with Jeff Luhnow

This is so incomprehensible from a historic standpoint (at least as far as the Astros are concerned). At 6pm (Central) tonight (Monday), there will be a live chat with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow.

Log on and chat live with Luhnow about his strategy to rebuild the team and his immediate goals for the 2012 season.

And speaking of Jeff Luhnow, here's a great article from the New York Times' Tyler Kepner on Luhnow.