Friday, March 23, 2012

Report: Berkman apologizes to Selig

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that Lance Berkman has apparently apologized to Selig over the Extortion remarks.

"I basically apologized for using the word 'extortion.' I had a chance to tell him where I was coming from and he had a chance to explain where he was coming from."

Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt:
"I tried to explain the process and how it played out. The concept was endorsed by the (players') union to have two leagues with 15 teams in each. It was approved by a 30-0 vote of the owners. It's an unfair situation if you have a division like the National League Central, where you have to beat five teams to win it, compared to (the American League West) where you only have to beat three teams. It's more symmetrical — and much fairer — to have three five-team divisions in each league."

Berkman, on Selig - who was not happy:
"Several sources told me he was not pleased with my remarks. I didn't expect him to be. I knew he was going to be a little upset. Having read them and having some time to reflect, I realized there wasn't any need to be quite that over the top."

Now, if Berkman had said something along the lines of "No, it wasn't extortion. But coercion...?"

Everyone reacts to everything today

So what with some decent cuts being made today, Brian McTaggart has the reactions.

Mills, on Paredes not only going to OKC (where he's never played, by the by), but playing 2B:
"The staff sat down and had a long meeting about it and went through these things, and we feel it's going to be best for him, best for the organization, as we move forward."

"When Paredes was with the Yankees, he started at shortstop and he got moved to second base, and really I was trying to figure out from the time I got here why he was at third base, because he really does have all the skillset and tools to play the middle infield. It sounded to me like the decision was made to maybe accommodate other players who were moving around, like Altuve and so forth."

Johnson, on being the favorite for 3B1:
"I'm trying to not worry about it, because they haven't said, 'Yeah, you're the third baseman,' yet. When that day comes, I'll be pretty excited. That just means I have the upper hand and have to lock it in right now and just take it.

Paredes among latest round of cuts, moved to 2B

This morning Zachary Levine reported that the Astros sent six more players down to minor league camp. Jimmy Paredes may have been the most surprising, as some considered him the favorite for the starting third base position after he came into this year as the incumbent. That job will likely fall to Chris Johnson to start the season, although Brett Wallace is still in the mix. Additionally, it was announced that Paredes would move back to second base, which had been his primary position before last season.

Also sent down were outfielders Fernando Martinez and Brad Snyder and pitchers Aneury Rodriguez, Xavier Cedeno, and Jose Valdez.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A handy little note from Brian McTaggart

Brian McTaggart just tweeted out a helpful little note:

As the Astros continue to trim roster in next few days, remember Wright, Bogusevic, Schafer, Sosa and Harrell are out of options.

So, this means that they would have to pass through waivers before getting officially sent to Oklahoma City. If another team claims them, well, they'll just have to work something out.

Astros rank #18

Baseball America posted their 2012 Organizational Talent Rankings this morning, and we find the Astros at #18.

Last year, the Astros ranked #26, and were dead last in 2009.

From first glance, it looks as though that was the second-largest jump from 2011 to 2012 - with the Drunken Sailors jumping from #14 to #1 in 2012.

Grant Brisbee's Astros Preview

Grant Brisbee is easily one of the funniest baseball writers (you may even be able to drop the "baseball," but I've never read any of his fiction, so we'll leave it in) around, and he wrote his Astros preview. At least he's sweet about it.

Money Quote:
The Astros probably would have liked to acquire baseball players who were good relative to their peers. They did not.

Astros valued at $549m

The Astros' value went up 16%, increasing the dollar-figure to a roundabout $549m, according to Forbes.

Of course, Crane bought the franchise (and a stake in the RSN) for $610m last year. Among the statistics presented by Forbes, the franchise's revenue is $196m. Let's take a look:

YearValRev.OpIncGate+/i %D/V

Val = Value (obviously)
Rev = Revenue
OpInc = Operating Income
Gate = Gate Receipts
+/- % = 1-yr Value Change
D/V = Debt/Value (Includes Stadium Debt)

Do with this what you will, but from 2006-11 the value of the franchise has increased from $442m to $549m, an increase of 24.2%.

Crawfish Boxes on statistics

We've made no effort to move in on The Crawfish Boxes' corner of statistical analysis. Astros County is more like the New York Post of Astros blogs - snappy headlines, seedy content - and that's totally fine with us (Trostel is, by far, better than I at statistical analysis, as well as prospect breakdowns).

We link to this excellent piece from David Coleman about Predictive Stats vs. Illustrative Stats on WAR and BABIP - as BABIP took quite the hit yesterday in the comments section of the Chapman piece. Read at your leisure.

Brian McTaggart guesses the Opening Day roster

Over here, Brian McTaggart makes some predictions about the Opening Day roster. Click the link for full explanations, but it's as follows:

Catchers: Castro, Snyder
Infielders: Lee, Altuve, Johnson, Lowrie, Downs, Wallace
Outfielders: J.D. Martinez, Schafer, Bogusevic, Shuck, Buck
Rotation: Wandy, Norris, Happ, Livan, Weiland
Bullpen: Myers, Lopez, Carpenter, F-Rod, Lyon, Abad, Duke.

Notice a couple of things about this: Both Rule 5 picks (Marwin Gonzalez, Rhiner Cruz) are projected to go back to their respected teams. Also, Jordan Lyles and Jimmy Paredes are projected to go back to OKC for more seasoning. If true, that's a half-season of service time burned right the hell up.

Tailgating at Minute Maid to be determined soon

On the heels of the City Council's approval of outdoor drinking downtown, Jim Crane said he'd determine whether or not the Astros will approve tailgating at Minute Maid parking lots "within a week."

"We would be leaning toward a fan-friendly situation if we can accommodate it. That'll be my preference. But there's consequences with that, with cleanup and where you do it and how you contain it and make sure it's safe and all those things, so that's what we're reviewing."

Five players cut

Farmstros has a list of five minor-leaguers who were cut this week:

Wander Alvino
Jordan Comadena
Bryce Lane
Mike Ness
Jose Vargas
Bubby Williams

What the Heck, Bobby also says that former A&M catcher Kevin Gonzalez voluntarily retired.

Comadena was obviously an AC favorite, and Bubby Williams won the 2nd annual Adopt-A-Player poll.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Selig extorting Jim Crane

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of yesterday's trade (but more important on a national-interest level) was Lance Berkman eviscerating Bud Selig over realignment, and moving the Astros to the American League.

I feel basically like the commissioner extorted Jim Crane into moving the Astros.

Well, a few of our media favorites let mean old Lance have it for giving it to Mr. Selig.

Troll-in-residence Jon Heyman:
We all love berkman, but how can it be "extortion" w/ MLB reducing #astros cost $50M to get them to go? That's a deal, not extortion.

He continued to refer to the realignment as a business deal, and even provided a definition, straight outta Merriam-Webster:
extortion: "unlawful obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence or fear''

Our lovable Chicago-based writer, Phil Rogers, even came to Selig's defense:
...There would have been nothing wrong with (Berkman's) position if he had said that Selig “pressured" the Astros into moving. That’s exactly what Selig did.

He did it because he was getting pressure from the players association, of which Berkman is, of course, a member, to address the lack of fairness in having 16 teams in one league and 14 in the other. This was much more of an issue with the union than Major League Baseball.

In fact, it’s possible that the union would not have agreed to increase the number of playoff teams from eight to 10 if MLB hadn’t found a way to change the math. And Selig’s hands are largely tied on matters of realignment.

So here we have four plot lines:

1. Berkman doesn't know what "Extortion" means.
2. Realignment was a business decision.
3. Berkman hates Bud Selig, and wore him out in the media.
4. Selig couldn't really do anything and if Berkman didn't like it, he could have bucked the MLBPA and said so.

To #1: No, Jim Crane was not extorted, because his property was not taken from him unlawfully. Crane didn't have to pay Selig $50m to keep unflattering pictures off of Deadspin. There's a fine line between extortion and blackmail. Crane received a partial refund for giving in.

What Berkman probably meant to say was that Selig coerced Crane into accepting the move to the American League, as one definition of Coercion is:
The intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure, physical force, or threats.

If we're talking about a will (as in, the death kind), if someone is "forced to make provisions in his or her will that he or she otherwise would not make if permitted to act according to free choice. It is an element of both duress and Undue Influence."

Should this take place, the will can be declared nullified.Whether or not this applies in this situation, I guess, depends on whether or not you're a Letter of the Law or a Spirit of the Law type of person.

Regardless, it was pretty clear that Jim Crane had two choices:
1) Accept the move, and get approved as owner by the other owners.
2) Don't accept the move, and the sale gets rejected.

Hey, I took the LSAT. I didn't do anything with it, but I still took it. And that sounds to me more like coercion than extortion. In the original piece, Crane said:

"I think it was a good deal for baseball. I think it was a good deal for our owners. Would we have preferred to stay in the National League? Probably, yeah. But that wasn't the deal that was presented to us."

So a scenario in which the Astros stayed in the NL was never on the table, apparently. And, under Crane's own admission, he would have kept the Astros in the National League. The rules changed during the process, and Crane ultimately agreed.

To Point #2: We can argue all day about Crane's role in this. And before y'all start thinking about Heyman's definition of a business deal, let's not give him too much creative thinking credit, because Crane said as much yesterday. Crane is perfectly willing to admit that Lance's language was a bit strong, that it was the cost of doing business. If Crane doesn't want to pursue any additional action, or concessions, then that's his business. He wanted a baseball team, and he got one, albeit not the one he thought he was getting - a National League one. But why wouldn't he say it was a business deal? Owners who got on Selig's bad side (cough, Frank McCourt, cough) don't typically have things turn out all sunshine and rainbows.

To Point #3: Yeah, I don't think Berkman likes Bud Selig. During the Hurricane Ike fiasco, Berkman said:
"Major League Baseball has always valued the dollar more than they do the individual, the players and their families."

To Point #4: We just don't know enough about the process to make an evaluation of Who Screwed The Astros: Selig, or the MLBPA? What's clear is that MLB took the path of least resistance in balancing the leagues. It's mentioned that the Diamondbacks could have switched to the AL, and the Astros to the NL West, which would have resulted in west coast trips to LA, San Francisco, and Colorado. MLB chose to piss off one fan base instead of two. We just happen to be the fanbase.

So to sum up: Yes, this sucks; No, there's not a whole lot we can do about it. Would you rather have Drayton/Ed in the NL, or Crane/Luhnow in the AL?

Tailgating approved at Minute Maid Park

The Houston City Council approved a measure that would allow tailgating at downtown sports stadiums.

Quintero will catch 2-4 times/week for KC

As the Royals are attempting to sort out their catcher situation, the KC Star's Bob Dutton wrote about the trade from the Royals' perspective.

GM Dayton Moore:
“We acquired (Quintero) to be a guy to catch two-to-four days a week. Ned (Yost) is just going to have to mix and match it (with Peña)."

And on Bourgeois:
“We like his versatility a great deal. He’s somebody who has been very successful against left-handed pitching (40 for 101 in 2011).”

Felipe Paulino had nice things to say about Q:
“That’s my guy. He calls a good game, and his defense is impressive. You’ll see that. He’s like Salvador that way. He’s got good hands, and he releases the ball really quick. He’s a good catcher. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Paulino, in 86 games, has allowed a career .288/.361/.450 against. With Quintero - who has caught Paulino more than any other catcher (29 times) - his slash line against is .281/.352/.457. With Pudge, Castro, and Towles behind the plate, Paulino's OPS-against was 1.344, 1.178, and .908, respectively.

"The Astros were dial-up, now they're nearing 4G"

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold has an article on former Cardinal Jeff Luhnow, and his resurrection process of the Astros. It's a good article (because Goold is a good writer), but there are a couple of things to note:

Jim Crane:
"That's something we were told if we wanted to own a team we'd have to go to the American League, and that meant if it was us or anybody. The fans like the National League, but it was out of our control. ... I told the guys if we're going to win the World Series, we're going to have to beat everybody, so what's the difference?"

Luhnow said Houston's use of statistics in 2011 was similar to the Cardinals when he arrived in 2003. That's been brought up to speed. They were dial-up, now they're nearing 4G.

Luhnow, on the farm system:
"We're trying to take a farm system that by many third-party views is in the bottom five of baseball and turn into a top-five system. Part of doing that is acquiring prospects any way you can. We have to deal from areas where we have depth. And we're going to do it again, too."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Assessing the deal

There's not going to be a whole lot here that you haven't likely already perused, but let's give this a shot:

*This is another win for Jeff Luhnow. Quintero was clearly the C3 on the roster, and Bourgeois was rendered...not useless, but expendable, by Jordan Schafer. Thing is, the Astros have a few players on the roster who can do what Bourgeois does. Quintero, while he has the 11th-best Caught Stealing percentage among active catchers (32.2%), he also averaged a 60 OPS+ from 2008-11. Bourgeois had a career-high .680 OPS in 2011, but from August 1-end of season, he hit .225/.265/.252. The fact that the Astros flipped them for a Down The Road ML-caliber reliever and another potential prospect is a good thing.

*Like many trades we've seen in the past two years, it's just going to take a while to know for sure. Chapman, and the PTBNL (whom Jordan Sams, via TCB, speculates on here) aren't likely to be ready to see Big League action...maybe until late 2013.

*With the departure of Quintero, Wandy Rodriguez is the only remaining Astro who touched the field in the World Series season of 2005.

PTBNL will be key

Jeff Luhnow said today that the PTBNL in the Bourgeois/Quintero trade will be key:

"I can't really disclose when we're going to do it, but all I can really say on that is the player to be named later is a key component to this deal."

And on Chapman?
"He's a prospect for us and he's adding to our organizational depth at the Minor League level. I don't know if he's a Double-A or Triple-A guy this year, but he's not Major League-ready. He's a guy down the road that could be an elite left-handed pitcher, and that's a valuable commodity to have."

Doing the math on Wandy's wins

ESPN took a good hard look at the number of wins Wandy can expect in 2012.

Click the link for the hard math, but here's your money quote:
Quite frankly, a range of 14-16 wins seems quite reasonable to expect this season. When you throw in the "X-factor" of a potential trade to a contending team -- and the probable resulting increase in run support and, ultimately, victories -- as the trade deadline approaches, then the chances of Rodriguez reaching that range would seem to be even more of a legitimate likelihood.

You just might be able to tailgate at Minute Maid

Tomorrow, the Houston City Council will weigh a proposal that would allow fans to tailgate, something that only Texans fans get to do, and it all comes courtesy of the Dynamo.

A city ordinance prohibits an open container or public consumption of alcohol within the central business district, which the new Dynamo stadium is located in. Mayor Annise Parker and city council members are working to give soccer fans the same privileges as Texans fans.

A city spokesman said that the Rockets and Astros have shown no interest in letting fans tailgate - but this could change that.

Berkman Rips Selig

Busy day in Astro-land, as Lance Berkman is continuing his PR moves in blasting Bud Selig over realignment:

"I feel basically like the commissioner extorted Jim Crane into moving the Astros...If he called me, I would tell him. I think that's exactly what it was. To tell (Crane), 'We're going to hold the sale of the team up until you guys agreed to switch?' It just happened that the Astros were being sold at an optimal time for that to happen."

Crane responded:
"Lance can say what Lance wants to say. He has great ties to the Astros and was a great player there for years. We certainly understand that he's opinionated, but I wouldn't use that strong a term. I think it was just a business deal that got renegotiated."

Astros acquire Kevin Chapman

In the trade to Kansas City, the Astros received Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later (whom Jeff Luhnow noted would be the "key component" of the trade).

Kevin Chapman (24 years old, 6'4", 210lb) was the Royals' 4th Round pick in 2010, and has been a reliever his entire professional career. In 54 games he has thrown 80IP, striking out 110, and walking 36. He spent 2010 at High-A Wilmington, and 2011 between Wilmington and Double-A NW Arkansas.

While the Orlando Sentinel said his fastball hit 96 while at Florida, Chapman said this, about his pitches:
On a good day my fastball is at 92-94, slider 80-83, change-up 83-85. On an off day I really just focusing on getting ahead of the hitters and keeping the ball low in the strike zone.

He missed the entire 2008 season due to Tommy John surgery, but "is now considered one of the better relievers in his draft class."

Looking at his FanGraphs page, there are some major inconsistencies with his ERA/FIP:

2010 ERA: 5.50
2010 FIP: 3.20
2011 ERA: 4.84 (High-A)
2011 FIP: 1.14 (High-A)
2011 ERA: 4.99 (Double-A)
2011 FIP: 4.06 (Double-A)

He has posted BABIPs of .339, .451, and .337 on his pro lines, so don't freak out when you see his ERA.

Bourgeois, Quintero traded to the Royals

As this developing trade situation starts to leak out, we find...

3:03pm: Zachary Levine tweeting that Humberto Quintero is saying his goodbyes.

3:07pm: as is Jason Bourgeois

3:08pm: Both say they don't know where they've been traded.

3:09pm: Matt Thomas says the destination is Kansas City.

3:09pm: There may not be any confirmation today.

3:14pm: McTaggart confirms both have been traded. No team identified yet.

3:15pm: Receiving teams won't confirm, since deal(s) have not been finalized.

3:36pm: Jon Heyman says KC is likely destination.

3:36pm: The Royals Official Twitter Feed says that Quintero and Bourgeois have been traded for minor-league LHP Kevin Chapman, and a Player To Be Named Later.

Jason Bourgeois scratched

Jason Bourgeois was scratched unexpectedly from today's lineup, and was replaced by J.B. Shuck.

No word on why - but you better believe we'll be on top of it.

UPDATE: Zachary Levine reports:
Astros close clubhouse. Nothing confirmed but it sounds like Jason Bourgeois transaction in works. Healthy scratch. Mills wouldn't discuss.

Jed Lowrie removed from game

Jed Lowrie has been removed from today's game and is walking off the field with a trainer, reports Brian McTaggart, who also can't tell if there's anything wrong.

UPDATE: Jed Lowrie fouled a ball off his foot, and says he'll be fine. Because saying, "Oh God, it hurts so much" just won't do.

Lyles hit by comebacker

Brian McTaggart says that Jordan Lyles has been hit in the stomach by a comebacker of the bat of Daniel Descalso to lead off the game. It appears as though he's staying in the game.

UPDATE: But the rest of the inning probably felt about the same way: allowing a 2-run double by Matt "Sugar Nuts" Holliday, and a sac-fly from Berkman.

2012 Payroll: ~$60m

Jim Crane told Brian McTaggart that he expects payroll to be around $60m.

25 players, $60m. That works out to be about $2.4m per player on the Opening Day roster. But of course that's now how this team works.

Carlos Lee ($18m), Brett Myers ($11m), Wandy Rodriguez ($10m), and Brandon Lyon ($5.5m) will make up 74.1% of the payroll (if it's pegged squarely at $60,000,000). More on this later.

Everyone you like? You shouldn't like them

Keith Law, God bless him, is at it again, with an Insider-only post on general fantasy baseball questions. One asks about the "Astros," so here are Law's responses (click the link for the full piece - these are just quick pulls):

On Brett Wallace:
I was a big Wallace fan until a scout pointed out to me in 2010 that Wallace couldn't turn on the ball inside.

On J.D. Martinez:
Fans of really bad teams often overrate the least-bad performers on the roster, and Martinez looks like a classic example of that.

On Jordan Lyles:
I like Jordan Lyles as a long-term mid-rotation starter for Houston, but I don't think he's a high-strikeout guy for 2012.

Also, Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and George Springer won't be impacting the Astros this season.


It's a fight to the death for the rotation

Your starting rotation is as follows:

1. Wandy Rodriguez
2. Bud Norris
3. J.A. Happ

And two of Livan Hernandez, Zach Duke, Kyle Weiland, and Jordan Lyles. Lucas Harrell and Henry Sosa won't be in the rotation, but are competing for bullpen spots with the big club.

The tale of the tape (Spring Training 2012 edition):

Livan: 12.1IP, 16H/6ER, 5K:2BB, 2HR. 4.38 ERA/1.70 WHIP.
Duke: 11IP, 17H/8ER, 7K:4BB, 2HR. 6.55 ERA/1.91 WHIP.
Weiland: 11IP, 7H/2ER, 7K:5BB, 0HR. 1.64 ERA/1.09 WHIP.
Lyles: 6IP, 8H/4ER, 3K:2BB, 1HR. 6.00 ERA/1.67 WHIP.

We do know that Lyles threw in a minor-league game, so there are some stats that we're missing here. The clear leader - from these stats alone - is Kyle Weiland (yes, on the strength of one start). But the veteran statuses of Livan all but assures him a spot. With Myers shifting to the 9th inning, I'd be ecstatic to see Weiland and Lyles get those last two rotation spots. But I don't think that'll happen. What I could see happening is SP4 going to Livan, SP5 going to Weiland, and Lyles waits in OKC under the tutelage of Burt Hooton until something happens - be that injury or trade.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Here I was, eating lunch, minding my own business, watching everyone freak out about Peyton Manning, and Zachary Levine tweeted this:

Brett Wallace hit a no-doubt HR to right, where the Astros wanted him driving the ball more. Astros lead Marlins 7-0.

This home run was off Wade LeBlanc, who had yet to give up a homer this spring. Furthermore, Brett Wallace has had 583PAs (90PAs against LHPs) in the Majors over the course of 2010-11, and hit seven homers - all against RHPs.

Looking at ML Splits (and Minor League Central for 2011), we can find that in 1383 minor-league plate appearances, Wallace hit 47 homers. 402 of those PAs came against LHPs, and he hit a total of 9 homers in those PAs.

Going through his MLB stats page, he had not hit a homer off a lefty in any Spring Training. So, as best as we can tell, today was the first time Brett Wallace hit a homer off a left-handed Major-League pitcher.

A Match for Quintero?

Buster Olney tweeted out that the Phillies might be in need of a backup catcher, but with a caveat:

Phillies are looking for a backup catcher -- an upgrade over the other backup C candidates they have in their camp.

So the Astros have Jason Castro, Chris Snyder...and Humberto Quintero. Might there be a match? I guess first we need to look and see if Quintero is better than any of their options:

Erik Kratz#
Brian Schneider#
Tuffy Gosewisch*
Steven Lerud*

# - Active Roster
* - Non-Roster Invitees

NameAge2011 PAsAvg/OBP/SLGK:BBCS%

*Triple-A in 2011
**Double-A in 2011

There's really no way to look at Q's splits, and see anything pretty. In 2011, his OPS peaked at .919 on April 14. From May 1-end of season, Quintero hit .228/.237/.297., while the Astros went 18-44 in games where he made an appearance.

Still, Tuffy Gosewisch spent 2011 in Double-A, as did Steven Lerud (and wasn't good). Erik Kratz spent it in Triple-A. Brian Schneider was even worse than Quintero. Nobody here thinks Q is of C1 caliber, but is he a serviceable backup (for $1m?). Maybe. Is there a match? I doubt it, but if Jeff Luhnow gets Domonic Brown for Q, then it will be the GM equivalent of tarring and feathering Ed Wade.

Schafer "really sore"

Brian McTaggart talked to Jordan Schafer, who had this to say about his left hand:

“It’s really sore today. Like they told me, with a sprain the next day is probably going to be the worst. I’m just happy it’s not broken. I’m OK with missing a couple of days, but I just didn’t want the break and to miss a couple of months. I’m happy it’s only a sprain.”

Additionally, Schafer doesn't like Tal's Hill:
"I don't necessarily think that hill is the safest of things out there. I think it's more of a danger than anything else. I think it's only a matter of time before someone goes out there and gets seriously hurt. But it's a part of our field. It's something I have to get comfortable with and learn and make adjustments to."

Today's lineup is awfully young

Brian McTaggart posted today's lineup, and we (as well as Brooks) noticed that it featured a young group. How young? Well, the average age is 24.55.

J.B. Shuck - 24
Jose Altuve - 21
Brian Bogusevic - 28
J.D. Martinez - 24
Jason Castro - 24
Chris Johnson - 27
Brett Wallace - 25
Marwin Gonzalez - 23
Kyle Weiland - 25

There's absolutely no way I'm taking the time to go and see if this is the youngest lineup of the Spring, or of franchise history, or ever, but it's pretty fun.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jeff Luhnow respectfully disagrees with Phil Rogers

In response to Phil Rogers' column from yesterday where Rogers alleged the Astros weren't happy with Carlos Lee coming to camp at 274 pounds, Jeff Luhnow tweeted:

Respectfully disagree with @ChiTribRogers on @Carlos45Lee - reporting weight similar to years past and working hard. Potentially big year.

Steve Campbell responded to our tweet, asking whether Rogers' report was accurate, saying:
"I wouldn't reject out of hand. Wasn't here when he reported, so I don't know what dialogue was on the subject at the time."

So there's that.

If only Fernando Martinez could have stayed healthy...

Mets manager Terry Collins said today, about Fernando Martinez:

“Yeah, if he was here, he would’ve been a contender for the spot,” Collins said. “He’s still got a chance to hit the ball out of the ballpark and be a dangerous hitter, but we can’t get him out there and keep him out there. I hope he’s healthy and he has a long career. It was always scary when you called to find out how he was doing, that he wasn’t playing.”

Jordan Schafer sprains hand

In today's win over the Mets, Jordan Schafer left the game "holding his hand/wrist" after making a diving catch in the 3rd inning. The X-Rays were negative, despite Schafer saying he felt something pop.

The official word is that it's a sprain, and he's day-to-day. He'll probably miss a few days, but it's worth keeping an eye on going forward.

Xavier Cedeno impressing Astros

What with Sergio Escalona's elbow not cooperating, the Astros are looking at alternatives for the LH reliever role. Enter Xavier Cedeno.

"It's nice to see him come in and face some pretty good hitters. He was able to throw strikes with all his pitches from different angles. I think that was the big thing for him."

Brett Gardner flew out struck out, Curtis Granderson flew out, and Robinson Cano struck out in the 4th inning against Cedeno yesterday.

Cedeno had been a full-time starter in the minors from when his pro career started in 2005 until 2009, when he appeared in a career-high 44 games and was injured, didn't play in 2010. He started 19 of 23 games for Corpus in 2011, and three of 12 for OKC before having a miserable 1.2IP for Houston at the end of 2011.

Campfire Talk: Carlos Lee is 24 pounds overweight

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers has a quick note about Carlos Lee, saying that the Astros had hoped he would report at 250 pounds, and instead came in at 274.

He and Brett Myers aren't exactly role models for a young team.