Friday, March 9, 2012

Quintero update

Steve Campbell checked in on Q, and reported this:

Humberto Quintero (bulging disk) says his injury was causing discomfort in right hip. Will catch a bullpen Sat, work on blocking balls Sun(day).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Livan Hernandez hit by line drive

Livan Hernandez left after 2.1IP today after getting hit (in the leg) by a line drive off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. Which is, apparently, nothing to worry about.

"I feel good now, but we'll see tomorrow. There's nothing to worry about. I had one more hitter, so it's better to go out there."

Idiots win, Luhnow has to send an apology to Texas

So Jeff Luhnow had to send a completely unnecessary apology to Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan for the Drunken Sailors comment.

“I reached out to Jon and to Nolan because it was taken out of context. I don’t know what they heard, but I did reach out to them and explained that it was not a dig against that organization because they’ve done a great job there.”

It seems as though Evan Grant, the Rangers beat reporter for the Dallas Morning-News, took more offense at it than anybody else, when he tweeted:
I find Luhnow's approach to scouting, player development and general respect of the game pretty insulting.

Grant didn't even like that Luhnow was at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to begin with:
Leaving first spring training to speak at conference speaks of misplaced priorities.

Or this gem, to Ted Price:
Have you figured out the WATTS (Wins Above Tea-Totaling Sailors) formula yet?

How about these?
(Part I):
Didn't see Fraley's report on Astros GM saying Rangers spending like "drunken sailors" in Latin America. Reaction: Win a game as GM first.

(Part II):
If I hadn't made this clear: It's ultimate arrogance to speak as expert at sports analytic conference before helming a single game as a GM.

(Part III):
You lose credibility to me when you take shots at others to justify your success.

(Part IV):
Guy rubs me wrong way.

(Part V):
He was part of organization in STL. Let's not give him all the credit.

So, Evan Grant wins. I guess.

MLB: Maybe the Gun is fine

Zachary Levine just tweeted:

MLB gave Astros go-ahead to put pistol on Colt .45 jersey if they want. They'll decide by tomorrow and announce.

We did it!*

(* - maybe not)

Oh yes, the Ten Best Things About Being an Astros Fan

Over at Yahoo's Big League Stew, The Constable wrote up The Ten Best Things About Being an Astros Fan.

The Jose Altuve Project

Mike Podhorzer recently gave readers over at Rotographs a behind the scenes look at how he projected Jose Altuve's performance for 2012. It's from a fantasy perspective, but the analysis is good regardless. There's not really a money quote, so I'm just going to send you over there to read it yourself. I will say, though, that I've yet to see a well-respected analyst really have anything negative to say about Altuve and his potential for this season and beyond.

Wade was just following orders

Jerome Solomon has an article up about Ed Wade:

It says something about his character that Wade still won't criticize former Astros owner Drayton McLane for basically gutting the franchise and not giving Wade a chance to put together a competitive ballclub.

Wade didn't call the plays; he just ran the offense.

"It behooves one to follow the directives of the owner," Wade said.

Nationals interested in Bourgeois

In a concerted plan by every NL East team to have a former Astro on their roster, the Nationals have checked in on Jason Bourgeois "at least three times" since the Winter Meetings.

Probably like this:
Rizzo: "What about Bourgeois?"
Luhnow: "Nah."
Rizzo: (Hangs up. Waits 15 minutes.)
Rizzo: "What about Bourgeois?"
Luhnow: "Huh-uh."
Rizzo: (Hangs up. Waits 15 minutes.)
Rizzo: "Hey Jeff, Rizz here. Say, you have a player-"
Luhnow: "Nope."
Rizzo: (Softly puts phone back in cradle*)'s Bill Ladson said the two sides aren't close on a deal.

*I don't know why I have the Nationals GM using a phone from the 1950s.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

FanGraphs' Top 15 Astros Prospects

FanGraphs' Marc Hulet posted the Astros' 15 top prospects. Click the link for the descriptions, but here's the list:

1. Jonathan Singleton
2. George Springer
3. Jarred Cosart
4. Brett Oberholtzer
5. Paul Clemens
6. Jonathan Villar
7. Domingo Santana
8. Delino DeShields, Jr.
9. Telvin Nash
10. Adrian Houser
11. Austin Wates
12. Mike Foltynewicz
13. Jack Armstrong, Jr.
14. Ariel Ovando
15. Kyle Weiland

Sleeper: Jordan Scott

Jeff Luhnow laughs at your "$11m closer!" argument

Anthony Castrovince has an article on Brett Myers, in which Jeff Luhnow addresses the concerns about paying a closer $11m for a team that lost 106 games last year.

"It's funny, because there's a very basic concept that you learn in business school, which is forget sunk costs (I think he's reading you, Trostel). From where I'm standing, it doesn't matter what we're paying Myers this year, because that contract is signed, and we owe him that. So it makes no sense to justify where that asset is based off the market value of that position externally. If he can help us more in the bullpen, then he can help us more in the bullpen. And then it opens up the opportunity to evaluate somebody else that's ready that maybe you wouldn't have a chance to.

(and as though he read this piece):
"I thought it was funny how all of a sudden people were talking about how expensive our bullpen is. It's not like we went out and signed an $11 million closer. It's just that he's here, and that's where he goes."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quintero: Yep, still hurt

Humberto Quintero's chances of remaining with the Big Club were sketchy to begin with, but with Zachary Levine's tweet, they're slowly dwindling:

Humberto Quintero going back to Houston to see doctor about inflammation in upper leg. May get anti-inflammatory shot.

Update: He also has a messed up back. Levine responded to a tweet about Q's various ailments and injuries:
They think its origin was in the back and inflammation and a nerve affecting lower down.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kyle Weiland turned to the internet to see if he should be excited about coming to Houston. And he was.

The New York Times' Tyler Kepner profiled the Astros today, and is quite complimentary of Jeff Luhnow.

On the Weiland/Lowrie trade for Melancon, Weiland saw he had a good opportunity via the internet:
“I was kind of shocked. I immediately jumped online and started researching what’s going on with the Astros, and got excited really quick. There’s a lot of opportunity, a lot of changes over here, and it seems to be all for the better.”

Your close, from Kepner:
Years of poor drafting led to last season’s fall, and the organization has a long way to go. But with Luhnow’s strong drafting record and a windfall of television money coming soon, there are reasons to believe the Astros could someday complete the makeover that started with two Boston refugees.

Notes from ST3

So it's pretty dadgum hard to wrap up a Spring Training game, but we're going to try. As a side note, you'll have yourselves a new County Clerk come the time when the games actually mean something, so we'll be introducing him soon.

Anyhow, in this 10-5 loss to Atlanta, which drops the Astros to 2-1 on the Spring...

*The Astros only led for a half inning, cutting a two-run deficit twice before taking a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 6th. The Braves got four runs in the top of the 7th, and added a run in each of the 8th/9th innings.

*The walk parade continued today, with the Astros drawing six total - two from Jonathan Villar and Scott Moore, and one by Brian Bogusevic and Jason Castro.

*The Astros did leave six runners in scoring position with two outs, going 4x16 w/RISP.

*Brian Bogusevic also stole his first two bases of the season, while J.B. Shuck was thrown out at 2B.

*Jordan Lyles threw 2IP, 4H/2ER, 1K:1BB; Xavier Cedeno faced four batters - striking out three and allowing what was apparently a monster homer to Dan Uggla.

*Zach Duke threw 3IP, 3H/1ER, 0K:2BB; Rhiner Cruz got the Ugly, allowing 2H/4R (3ER), 0K:2BB without recording an out. Henry Villar was the only pitcher to not allow a run, with Juan Abreu and Enerio Del Rosario each giving up an earned run.

Jordan Lyles:
"Today, the command wasn't there. That's what you expect the first time out facing live hitters."


Zachary Levine tweeted this picture. Big question is, who would buy an autographed misspelled uniform of a former Astro for $175?

Jim Crane isn't happy with MLB

Big League Stew has an update in which Jim Crane wrote back to a now-former Astros fan, about the removal of the gun from the Colt .45s throw-backs:

Thank you for your comments concerning the Colt .45s jersey. I would like to say up front that I agree with you. Unfortunately, MLB has made this a requirement and their decisions are out of our control.

Luhnow, on player valuations

Tim Dierkes has a post up on MLBTR about the next wave of player analysis - one that includes a response from Jeff Luhnow (hey, a smart and well-regarded GM. What are we supposed to do with this?)

"The frontier from my perspective is really turning that player evaluation into player valuation. When Scott [Boras] and I have a conversation about a player, this player may be 12 runs above average and another player might be 10 runs above average, but there's so many other factors that go into whether I'm going to be willing to pay more or less for that player."

There's more to it, so click the link.

AC around the interwebs

So we answered some questions about the 2012 Astros for a couple of places around the interwebs:

Over at Razzball.
Money quote:
And when (J.D. Martinez) is not raking, he catches drug mules and delivers snappy one-liners with his sunglasses in hand.

And C70 (with Appy Astros and A Girl in the South mixed in, as well).
Money Quote:
The thing about 2012 I'm most excited about is Carlos Lee's expiring contract, and seeing the younger guys the Astros have drafted/traded for develop for the future.

Minor League Ball's Mock June Draft

Hey, here's a Mock Draft for June 2012.

Who do they have the Astros taking with 1-1?
The Astros need talent. Their system is going the right direction and they need a top of the line pitcher. While Giolito may have a higher ceiling, history tells me that the college guy will be more of a sure thing. I have to go with more certainty and take my favorite college arm. Astros will take Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU.

FYI, Mark Appel fell "all the way" to 1-5, "taken" by the Royals.

Monday Morning Update

Some updates for you on this fine day...

Carlos Lee will return to the lineup tomorrow.

Humberto Quintero is still "a few days away."

Jimmy Paredes and Angel Sanchez will take some BP today in preparation of live BP tomorrow.

On the mound today against the Braves, who gave up nine homers yesterday (six from Julio "Tater" Teheran), will be Jordan Lyles and Zach Duke.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Prospect makeup

Sorry, this isn't a hard hitting expose on the beauty routines of our minor league players. Instead, I wanted to talk a little bit about an often overlooked aspect in the development of prospects. While pitchers' fastballs are measured to the tenth of a mile per hour and runners' times to first down to the hundredth of a second, it's hard to measure what may be the most important quick twitch reaction: the one that triggers between the ears.

Prospect lore is riddled with tales of can't miss studs who can't handle the pressure. I'm not going to call out by name the guys I'm questioning in this post, but there are a couple of our top prospects that I really wonder if they have their head on straight. I can't help but question the maturity of a kid whose public twitter posts are mostly cryptic, passive-aggressive, whining about his girlfriend.

Then we read stories like this one over at The Grand Old Game. In this short post about DDJ, we're confronted by this question: "how much heart does he have for the game?"

I know they're just kids, but they're kids the Astros have invested a lot of money in. These are the prospects we're hoping will lead the resurgence of Houston baseball. They could have enormous arm strength or bat strength, but do they have the mental strength necessary to be the player we all project them to be?