Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mills might send a reliever down come Friday

In Zachary Levine's post on tonight's game, Mills gave a clue as to who might get sent down when Jed Lowrie is activated on Friday (presumably):

“I like having an eight-man bullpen, but I don’t like the strappings it puts on the ballclub in other areas. What we have now is probably an eight-man bullpen for the first six games and then we’ll see how we go from there.”

It's far too early to speculate on who it might be (hint: it won't be Rhiner Cruz), but the bullpen is going to be competing for a job over the next five days.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G2 - Astros v. Rockies

Hey! The Astros beat the Rockies 7-3 tonight!

*They got their first win of the season in G2 (obviously). But in 2011, it took until G6 to get that first win. And until G9 in 2010.

*The Astros got 10 hits off the Rockies tonight, meaning that eight of their last thirteen games (dating back to 2010) against the Rockies have been games in which the Astros got double-digit hits.

*Tonight Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez went yard against Colorado, marking the first time the Astros have had back-to-back multi-HR games since August 22-23, 2011 - against Colorado.

*Jordan Schafer's HR came as the lead-off batter for the Astros. Houston had two lead-off homers in all of 2011. It was the first lead-off homer of Schafer's career, and his 5th career HR. Jamie Moyer became just the 2nd non-Astros pitcher to give up a homer to Schafer, joining San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong, with Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, and Brandon Lyon as the trio of Astros pitchers to allow a Schafer homer.

*Travis Buck got himself a pinch-hit triple - the first pinch-hit triple since, yes, April 7, 2010 when Cory Sullivan got one against Matt Cain and the Giants.

*J.D. Martinez had a big game - going 2x4 with 3RBI (the 6th 3+ RBI game of his career). But he also had a career-high 2 GIDPs, after having four in his time with the Astros, and the third multi-GIDP game of his professional career (both with the Hooks).

*Chris Johnson got two doubles on the night, his 3rd career 2-2B game.

*Congrats to Marwin Gonzalez and Lucas Harrell on their first career MLB hit.

*But perhaps the most impressive piece of the game was Lucas Harrell, who went 7IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:0BB for his 2nd career MLB win. It wasn't hard to achieve, but Harrell set a career-high in IP, and got his 2nd quality start of his career. 31 of his 93 pitches were non-contact strikes (26 called, 5 swinging).

*Harrell got out to a 2-0 count four times, and held the Rockies to 1x4 - with Michael Cuddyer's 2nd inning double as the only hit following the 2-0.

*Things sort of fell apart for the bullpen, allowing 3ER in the last six outs - including Brandon Lyon's outing. Lyon allowed a homer to Michael Cuddyer - the first batter he faced. Dating back to April 30, 2011, Lyon has allowed homers in five of his last six outings (30 batters faced).

*Wesley Wright allowed 2ER in 0.2IP, after allowing 2ER in 21 appearances (12IP) total in 2011. I know he's had limited playing time, but it's the first time he's allowed multiple ER in relief since June 18, 2010 (vs. Texas).

*Still, the Astros' pitching staff emerged from G2 having allowed no walks, something they accomplished just nine times in 2011, and twelve times since the beginning of the 2010 season.

Man of the Match: Going with Lucas Harrell here.

Goat of the Game: First win of the season? No Goat.

Lineup for G2 vs. Rockies

Some changes for tonight's lineup against the Rockies:

1. Jordan Schafer - CF
2. Brian Bixler - 2B
3. J.D. Martinez - LF
4. Carlos Lee - 1B
5. Chris Johnson - 3B
6. Brian Bogusevic - RF
7. Chris Snyder - C
8. Marwin Gonzalez - SS
9. Lucas Harrell - P

Brian Bixler's career slash line as a starter? .178/.238/.220

Know Your Enemy: April 7

So the Astros will be facing the Ancient Mariner himself, Jamie Moyer.

*LHP Jamie Moyer
*49 years old, 6'0", 185lb
*Drafted by the Cubs, 6th Round, 1984
*Made his MLB debut before Rhiner Cruz, Kyle Weiland, Jason Castro, Marwin Gonzalez, J.D. Martinez, and Jordan Schafer were born.
*Jamie Moyer's wife is the daughter of Digger Phelps.
*Active career leader in wins (267), and a win against the Astros today would make him the oldest pitcher to record a win. Also, active leader in losses (204)
*Career leader in homers allowed (511).
*Allowed 10+ ER on August 9 and 14, 2000, joining Jose Lima as the only two pitchers since 1950 to allow 10+ ER in consecutive starts.
*Did not pitch in 2010.
*15 appearances against Houston, allowing a .261/.323/.381, 54K:27BB line. 5-4 against Houston, with 3.97 ERA/1.32 WHIP. 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA/1.28 WHIP at Minute Maid Park
*Carlos Lee has faced Moyer more than any other Astro. In 35 PAs, Lee is hitting .212/.257/.424 with 2HR, 4K:2BB.
*Chris Snyder is 1x10 with a homer off Moyer.

*Astros starter Lucas Harrell has only faced three current Rockies, for a total of 6 PAs. Erick Young is 0x2 with an HBP. Jordan Pacheco is 2x2, and Marco Scutaro is 0x1.

What The Mills?

So whenever it's called for, we'll run a little feature called "What The Mills?" where we examine a particular scenario from the previous game and try to figure out just what Mills was thinking.

For Game 1 (and the County Clerk alluded to this in his recap): Letting Fernando Abad throw to Troy Tulowitzki.

The Situation: Top of the 9th, two outs, Rockies lead 4-3. Tulowitzki up.

The Outcome: Tulowitzki hit a monster home run to put the game just out of reach.

What The Mills: For his career, Tulowitzki has hit .319/.399/.555 against LHPs, hitting a homer in 4.5% of his PAs against LHPs (compared to a .283/.351/.489 line, and 4.0% homer rate against RHPs). In 2011, Tulowitzki's line against LHPs was .349/.418/.631 - the 1.049 OPS tying him for 4th-highest against lefties in all of baseball (behind Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, and Matt Wieters).

Furthermore, Abad isn't so good at getting RHBs out. In 54 PAs against RHBs in 2011, Abad only got 28 of them out, allowing a .381/.472/.786 line. Lefties don't fare nearly as well, with a .630 OPS against Abad. But those righties...

Rationale #1: Why you gotta bring up old crap? All that was 2011. Don't know if you noticed, but it's 2012.

Rationale #2: Tulowitzki faced Wandy (also a LHP, naturally) four times, and walked, hit a sac fly, flied out to left, and popped up to 2nd. So leaving Abad out there wasn't much of a risk, since Tulowitzki hadn't really done much in the way of major damage to that point in the game.

Rationale #3: Abad was looking pretty good, and just needed one more out to send it to the 9th. Abad needed five pitches to get Dexter Fowler to ground out back to the pitcher. Carlos Gonzalez popped up to short on the 2nd pitch of the AB. So Abad had only thrown seven pitches when Tulowitzki came up with two outs. Maybe he'll get lucky.

Of course it didn't work out, Tulowitzki hit a 400' homer, and MLB's Twitter account decided it would be appropriate to compare it to the Pujols homer off of Brad Lidge. And, as McQuid mentioned in the recap, a 4-3 game in the bottom of the 9th is quite different than a 5-3 game in the bottom of the 9th.

Verdict: Silly risk that bit Mills squarely on his beanbag.

PreStros Farm Report: April 6

Oklahoma City (1-1)

OKC took a 5-0 lead after two innings, and then added a 6-run 7th for a 12-3 win over Memphis. Aneury Rodriguez threw 5IP, 7H/3ER, 9K:1BB, with a WP, HBP, and HR. Adalberto Flores allowed three hits, but no runs, in 1.2IP; Jose Valdez inherited two of Flores' runners, but got the final out of the 7th with a K, and Sergio Perez allowed a hit and two walks, but no runs in the final 2IP as Memphis was 0x10 with RISP and left 13 LOBsters (captip to Street for the name).

Justin Ruggiano was 3x4 with a double, walk, and 2RBI. Fernando Martinez hit his first homer in the organization with a three-run shot in the first. Brett Wallace and Angel Sanchez were both 2x4 with a walk. Collin DeLome got the RF start over J.B. Shuck, who was 0x1 with a walk and an RBI.

Man of the Match: Justin Ruggiano.

Corpus Christi (1-1)

NW Arkansas had a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 8th, and the Hooks managed to make things marginally interesting, but dropped it, 5-3. Ross Seaton gave up 7H/4R (2ER), with 1K:0BB in 5IP, allowing three runs via the longball. Arcenio Leon added a 2H/1ER, 1K:1BB line in 2IP, and Jason Stoffel struck out one and allowed no baserunners in 2IP.

Kody Hinze hit his first homer - a 2-run shot - in the 8th to finish 2x4 with 2RBI; Brandon Barnes was 2x4 with a double and a stolen base; and Jordan Kreke got two hits while committing two errors at 3B. Jose Carlos Thompson went to the plate three times, and walked back to the dugout three times, feeling shame after striking out.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze.

Lancaster (0-2)

The JetHawks took a 5-4 lead with two runs in the top of the 8th, but turned around and gave up five in the bottom half of the inning, for a 9-5 loss at High Desert. Ruben Alaniz allowed 5H/2R (1ER), 4K:3BB in 4.2IP; Pat Urckfitz gave up 4H/2ER in 1.1IP; Jorge De Leon took the loss and the Ugly, with 3H/5ER, 3K:1BB in 1.2IP; Kirk Clark finished off the last batter.

Ben Heath was 3x4 with a double and 3RBI; George Springer was 2x4 with a run; Rafael Valenzuela and Telvin Nash drew two walks; Jio Mier was 1x4 with a walk and a caught stealing; Dan Adamson got the Golden Sombrero, striking out four times in four ABs.

Man of the Match: Ben Heath.

Lexington (0-1)

Greensboro wore Lexington out, scoring five runs in the 3rd for an easy 7-0 win over the Legends in the season opener (Thursday's game was rained out). Mike Foltynewicz allowed 8H/6R (2ER), 4K:1BB in 2.2IP (but threw 25 of his 30 pitches for strikes); Evan Grills threw 3.1IP in relief, and allowed 3H/0ER, 2K:2BB, HBP, WP; Murilo Gouvea gave up 3H/1ER, 3K:0BB, HR (all of his 16 pitches were strikes).

Jordan Scott, Zach Johnson, Matt Duffy, and Roberto Pena provided all your hits; Delino DeShields and Mike Kvasnicka drew walks. Jimmy Howick was 0x3 and committed the error that led to four unearned runs.

Man of the Match: Evan Grills

Friday, April 6, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G1: Rockies @ Astros

The Houston Astros got back to back homeruns from Carlos Lee and Brian Bogusevic in the bottom of the 4th, but it wasn't enough to overcome 4 errors and the Astros dropped their Season and Home Opener to Jeremy Guthrie and the Colorado Rockies 5-3.

*Wandy Rodriguez had a rough start to his night, leaving pitches up in the zone and struggling with his control, but he really settled in after the first couple of innings and turned in a nice outing. His line:

6.1 IP -- 6 H -- 3 R (0 ER) -- 2 BB -- 2 K

Wandy was the first southpaw to get the Opening Day nod for the Astros since Dave Roberts back in 1974.

*Jed Lowrie was placed on the DL prior to the game. Marwin Gonzalez got his first major league start in his place at shortstop.

*I love to hate umpires, but the base umpires made some great calls tonight. There were a couple of bang-bang plays at first tonight and a throw by Castro that looked to have got pinch runner Eric Young at 2nd, but the umpire got it right when it was shown that the tag was missed. In a game that seemed full of close plays, the only full out miss was when Jordan Schafer was clearly picked off at first, but was called safe. At least we got the break!

*I can't be nearly as kind to home plate umpire Gary Cedarstrom, whose strikezone changed about 4 times during the game.

*Chris Johnson had another error on a fairly routine play tonight, and both he and JD Martinez still look lost with the bats. Both are lacking patience and are free swinging up there. JD did get a double tonight but was quiet otherwise.

*Jason Castro had by far the worst play of the game in the top of the 8th. He caught Eric Young stuck between second and third. He only took one step forward and then quickly fired it to second, where it flew into the outfield and allowed Young to score. The bad throw was one thing, but it should be second nature for a catcher at this level to move towards the runner and force his hand - and in the worst case, fire the ball to third so he can't advance a base. This was the worst case scenario x 100.

*I'm not sure why Eric Young found it necessary to taunt Jason Castro and the Astros very deliberately after scoring that run. His baserunning error could have/should have resulted in an out - he just got lucky. Perhaps he will get a pinch hit at bat yet this series and he can take a good old fashioned plunking.

*A very questionable move by Brad Mills in the top of the 9th tonight - with Troy Tulowitzki up to bat, Mills allowed left hander Fernando Abad to stay in the game and face him. Tulowitzki quickly turned on a ball and deposited it over the train tracks in left. A quick look at Tulowitzki's stats versus left handed pitchers last season shows why this was perhaps a bad idea:

.349/.418/.631 -- 1.049 OPS

This compared to a still very good but much more reasonable line of .284/.354/.510 with a .864 OPS versus righties. The difference between a 1 run game and a 2 run game in the bottom of the 9th inning is huge. 

*Fernando Rodriguez took the tough luck loss tonight, pitching pretty effectively, but being the victim of Jason Castro's absent minded play which resulted in the winning run.

Man of the Match
Carlos Lee had an RBI single in the first inning, cashing in Altuve, and added on a monster homerun over the Crawford boxes in the fourth. He finished 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, and did a solid job at first base with a couple of nice picks on low thrown balls.

Goat of the Game
While this could go to the entire defense (errors by Altuve, Johnson, Wandy and Castro), it was ultimately Castro's play which broke the tie and allowed the Rockies to take a late lead that they would never relinquish. 

Lowrie to DL

So I guess that thumb isn't ready to hold a bat, as the Astros placed him on the DL retroactive to March 29. This means he'll be eligible to come off the DL on April 13. Brian Bixler has been recalled to take his place.

Ultimately, it's the right call. As much as you'd like to see Lowrie out there, it's better to let him rest it for another week than run the risk of further injury. Obviously.

Xavier Cedeno to the DL

Via MiLB's transaction feed, Oklahoma City has placed Xavier Cedeno on the 7-Day DL. Jonnathan Aristil has been brought up from Corpus to take his roster spot.

Know Your Enemy: April 6

*The last time the Rockies opened the season in Houston (2003), they lost 10-4.
*The Rockies were 73-89 in 2011, going 17-8 in April, and 56-81 from May-end of the season.
*They were 35-46 on the road in 2011.
*5-2 against Houston in 2011 (2-2 at Minute Maid)
*The Rockies claimed Wandy off waivers last August, but (of course), a deal didn't get done. If you recall, had the deal been completed, Wandy would have pitched against the Rockies on Wednesday, and joined the team on Thursday.

*RHP: Jeremy Guthrie
*32 years old, 6'2", 205lb
*Traded on February 6, 2012 by Baltimore to Colorado for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom
*Has only faced the Astros once (June 18, 2008), but threw 8IP, 3H/1ER, 8K:1BB.
*Led the AL in losses in 2011, with 17
*Has allowed 86 homers from 2009-11
*Career 47-65 record, with 4.19 ERA/1.29 WHIP, 4.68 FIP, 4.61 xFIP
*In 2011, had a 39.6% ground-ball rate, and a 39.5% fly-ball rate.
*According to FanGraphs, threw his fastball 62.6% of the time at 92.3mph average in 2011
*Threw a slider 17.7% at 83.1mph; changeup 10.5% at 83.5mph; curveball 9.6% at 73.4mph
*With the batter ahead in the count, opponents hit .287/.437/.447
*With Guthrie ahead, opponents hit .270/.279/.476
*Travis Buck has the most success against Guthrie: In 8PAs, he has 4H, 2B, RBI, .500/.500/.625.
*Guthrie's last three season openers: 20.1IP, 18H/6ER, 15K:6BB
*Guthrie's career April splits: 4-11, 4.43 ERA/1.36 WHIP. .277/.325/.455.

*Vs. Wandy, current Rockies have a career .344/.410/.589 line. Todd Helton, in 28PAs, has a .440/.500/.600 line.
*Troy Tulowitzki runs a .300/.462/.600 line against Wandy.

Minor League Capsules

No, not the little pill shaped sponges you put in water and watch grow. If only it was that easy to grow a major league team.

Baseball America has a quick run-down on the Astros minor league system. It's a good, information packed little piece.

Why are you still reading this? Go check it out!

PreStros Farm Report: April 5th

Farm Report: April 5

Oklahoma City (0-1) 

The RedHawks lost their season opener against the Memphis Redbirds in dramatic fashion 4-3. Heading into the bottom of the ninth OKC was down 4-1 but rallied back to trail 4-3 with the bases loaded and no outs. After 1B-Mike Hessman struck out swinging 3B-Brett Wallace grounded into a game ending double play.

Starter Paul Clemens pitched well in the loss, going 6 IP allowing 6H/2ER with 4K:2BB. Mickey Storey went 2 IP in relief giving up 2H/0R with 2K.

LF-Fernando Martinez was 3x4 with 1 2B and 1 BB. 1B-Mike Hessman went 2x4 with 1R/1RBI on a solo HR with 1BB/2K. SS-Angel Sanchez was 1x4 with 1BB and 2RBI on 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Paul Clemens

Corpus Christi (1-0) 

The Hooks beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 9-0 to open the season in impressive fashion on the strength of a seven run sixth inning.

Jared Cosart threw 4.1 IP giving up 4H/0R with 5K:3BB. Erick Abreu looked strong in 2.2 IP in relief allowing just 1H with 5K:1BB. Chris Hicks finished things up with 2 scoreless innings with 1K and 1 HBP

SS-Jonathan Villar was 2x5 with 1 2B, 1RBI, and 2 SB. LF-Austin Wates was 3x5 with 1 2B, 1 3B, 1R/3RBI. All three of Wates’ RBI came on a bases loaded triple in the Hooks big inning. CF-Brandon Barnes was 2x4 with 1R/2RBI. RF-T.J. Steele went 2x4 with 1 3B and 2R/1RBI. 2B-Jose Martinez went 0x2 with 2BB and 2R and had an outstanding diving defensive play to save a run early in the game.

Man of the Match: Austin Wates

Lancaster (0-1) 

The JetHawks lost to the High Desert Mavericks 9-7 in their season opener.

David Martinez had a rough opening start, going 4 IP allowing 8H/6ER including 2 HR with 1K:1BB. Brian Streilein was the only Lancaster pitcher to escape the night unscathed as he turned in 2 IP giving up 1H with 2K/1BB.

LF-Telvin Nash was 2x4 with 1BB and a solo HR. 3B-Jonathan Meyer went 2x4 with 1 2B and 2R. CF-George Springer went 2x4 with 1R/5RBI and his first professional HR, a Grand Slam to tie the game at 7-7 in the sixth inning.

Man of the Match: George Springer

Lexington (0-0) 

Postponed due to rain

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted.

I like this Ron Thibodeaux fella

The New Orleans Times-Picayune's Ron Thibodeaux has a great column up about the Astros and their history in New Orleans.

I’m as conflicted about all this as any of them. I’ve been an Astros fan just about all my life — specifically, since July 25, 1965, when, at age 7, I traveled with my dad, grandpa and uncle from down the bayou to Houston to get a look at that newfangled domed stadium, widely hailed as the “eighth wonder of the world.” The game featured three future Hall of Famers — Joe Morgan, Frank Robinson and Tony Perez — as well as Pete Rose, whose Hall-worthy career was ultimately eclipsed by off-the-field misdeeds. Cincinnati beat Houston 3-1 that day, but it hardly mattered. We were captivated by the Astrodome, the million-dollar scoreboard, the field crew that dragged the infield dressed like astronauts and, oh yes, the baseball team. I was hooked...

...Meanwhile, once Houston moved its AAA affiliate from New Orleans to Texas and then to Oklahoma years ago, it stopped marketing itself in this part of Louisiana. I couldn’t tell how many years it’s been since the Astros’ preseason “caravan” of players and coaches stopped in New Orleans.
The reality is, the Astros moved on from here a long time ago. The switch to the American League next year will only distance them even farther. Call me a fanasaurus, but I’m inclined to stick with the “real baseball” of the National League and all those other teams I’ve been watching for the past 47 years.

It's Friday morning, do you know where Lowrie's thumb is?

Still no word about Jed Lowrie's thumb, and his availability for tonight's opener against the Rockies. But at least he's happy:

“Considering I could barely pick up a bat four days ago, I’m really happy with the progression.”
Levine also gives us some insight into how Abad and Wright will be used - mainly Abad as the LOOGY, and Wright coming in for full innings.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Someone get me a drink!

Baseball America has named the Corpus Christi Hooks as the 8th-most talented team in the minors.

It has been a long time since the Astros could assemble enough talent to fill a roster like this, but last year's trades have helped make up for the organization's minor league talent deficiency. 1B Jonathan Singleton (No. 34) and RHP Jarred Cosart (No. 50) both came over in last summer's Hunter Pence trade. Fellow Phillies' pickups SS Jonathan Villar ahd RHP Josh Zeid are joined by ex-Brave LHP Brett Oberholtzer on what may be the Astros' most talented minor league club in a decade.

Five Highest winning percentages by an Astros affiliate (stateside only), 2002-11:
2004 Tri-City Valley Cats: .667 (50-25). Hunter Pence, Drew Sutton, Ben Zobrist
2003 Martinsville Astros .646 (42-23). Felipe Paulino, Juan Gutierrez, Mitch Talbot
2004 Round Rock Express: .614 (86-54). Ezequiel Astacio, Wandy Rodriguez, Luke Scott, Willy Taveras, Fernando Nieve, Chris Sampson.
2002 Martinsville Astros: .612 (41-26). Matt Albers, Mark McLemore, Fernando Nieve
2004 Greeneville Astros: .612 (41-26). J.R. Towles, Troy Patton, Felipe Paulino.

Still nobody knows what to do about Lowrie

The Astros still don't know what to do about Jed Lowrie's thumb. So he's taking BP in the tunnel (not with his mates, so they don't make fun of him if he screams like a banshee, presumably) today.

Mills, who has already made out the lineup card, and has Lowrie on it:
“I don’t know exactly how good it is until after we talk to him after taking some swings and after taking ground balls and doing his work today. With as much as it has improved these last couple of days, there’s definitely a real good chance.”

Wandy won't necessarily go out of his way to help you

There's a funny little quote from J.D. Martinez on Wandy Rodriguez, the longest-tenured Astro.

"He's not afraid to help you. Not so much that he'll go out of his way, but if he sees something, he'll talk to you if he sees you down and he'll tell you something. It's always nice to have guys like that. If he sees something, he'll let you know, but he's not an all-over-the-top-of-you type of guy, which is cool."

Here are your longest-tenured Astros:
1. Wandy - 2005
2. Carlos Lee - 2007
3. Wesley Wright - 2008
4. Bud Norris - July 29, 2009
5. Chris Johnson - Sept 9, 2009

They're the only players on the Opening Day roster to make their team debut prior to 2010.

Nice little profile on Keith Bodie

Hooks manager Keith Bodie has been dealt a nice little hand, what with Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Jake Buchanan, and company, and he knows it.

"The challenge is taking all of these pieces and meshing them together and making a cohesive unit that live and work and compete and thrive together. I like the pieces, I love the pieces and I'm excited about the pieces. I know when they step on a baseball field each and every night I'm going to be proud to be standing in that box watching the way they treat the game of baseball. And if that relates in more wins, that's fantastic. I can't tell you how many games we're going to win. But I can tell you every time we go on that field we're going to expect to win."

2012 Astros Projections

Before I reveal the numbers, I want to explain how I came up with them. I'll keep it brief.

First, I needed to determine everyone's playing time. For this, I used the depth charts (may be behind a premium content firewall) over at Baseball Prospectus as a guide and adjusted where I felt necessary. Using those percentages and the average number of plate appearances per team last season I arrived at everyone's projected plate appearances. I used a similar idea for the pitchers' innings, again tweaking where I felt best.

Once I had everyone's playing time set, I turned my attention to the rate stats. For the hitters that meant walk rates, strikeout rates, rates of extra base hits, etc. Again, the process was very similar for the pitchers. These rates were derived from a loose averaging of the projections available at Fangraphs and the players career averages. Minor adjustments were made for those with very small major league sample sizes. From there, simple multiplication spit out their projections.

For the W-L record, I simply plugged the projected runs scored and runs against into the Pythagorean win theorem formula and out popped  the projected record. Last year our Pythagorean record was 62-100, meaning in theory we under achieved by six wins.

Obviously any major changes in roster make up (trades, injuries, etc) could change things dramatically. 

I feel like it's a little optimistic, but I can't find any major errors in the formulas or calculations.

Screw it, I'm running with it!

Lee 600 556  70 151 31 1 23 94    2  44    59 0.272 0.326 0.455 0.781
Altuve 578 556  66 160 32 3 5 58  19  22    72 0.287 0.314 0.382 0.696
Martinez 555 517  68 146 33 0 15 86    0  38  109 0.282 0.332 0.435 0.767
Schafer 489 445  60 109 18 3 4 24  23  44  107 0.244 0.312 0.326 0.638
Lowrie 478 434  59 112 30 4 10 61    2  44    82 0.258 0.326 0.417 0.744
Castro 455 410  53 97 19 2 5 46    0  45    81 0.237 0.312 0.332 0.644
Johnson 421 402  39 107 23 3 11 51    3  19    99 0.266 0.299 0.416 0.715
Bogusevic 414 378  51 97 19 2 7 35  10  36    91 0.257 0.322 0.378 0.700
Downs 404 373  46 94 30 0 13 52    1  31    77 0.251 0.308 0.438 0.746
Shuck 298 268  37 72 9 3 1 10    8  30    33 0.268 0.343 0.332 0.675
Ruggiano 297 278  35 70 13 0 9 33    5  19    75 0.250 0.297 0.398 0.695
Snyder 270 235  26 54 11 0 9 34    0  35    62 0.228 0.328 0.390 0.718
Gonzalez 270 256  29 68 13 2 2 23    4  14    35 0.265 0.303 0.357 0.661
Buck 231 213  25 51 13 2 6 25    2  18    46 0.241 0.300 0.399 0.700
Wallace 165 152  16 39 9 0 3 13    0  13    39 0.257 0.317 0.389 0.706
F. Martinez 164 154  17 36 8 0 3 14    3  10    34 0.231 0.278 0.339 0.617
Sanchez 61 57    7 15 2 0 0 5    0    4      9 0.256 0.307 0.309 0.616
Team Totals 6150 5683 706 1475 315 26 127 662 82 467 1110 0.260 0.316 0.391 0.707

So, how does the offense compare to last season? Well, that would give us 91 more runs scored, 32 more home runs, 66 more walks, 54 fewer strikeouts, and an OPS .023 higher than last year. To put it another way, these projections would give us an essentially league average offense. At first glance only Carlos Lee's numbers look especially optimistic to me.

How about the pitchers?

    IP  G  W   L  SV      H  HR   BB    SO    R   ER  ERA WHIP
W. Rodriguez 180 32 12 10 0 178 20 62 156 85 76 3.80 1.33
Norris 170 30 10 9 0 166 20 69 164 87 77 4.07 1.38
Happ 140 28 8 7 0 130 17 66 113 73 68 4.39 1.40
Weiland 120 34 6 9 0 127 18 54 79 67 64 4.81 1.51
Lyles 120 26 5 7 0 137 16 34 86 67 62 4.62 1.42
Harrell 120 49 5 5 0 163 8 64 83 78 63 4.70 1.89
Myers 70 52 4 3 23 70 9 22 56 34 32 4.06 1.31
Lopez 70 66 3 4 0 76 6 16 52 32 28 3.64 1.30
Sosa 70 13 4 6 0 71 9 30 51 37 37 4.75 1.44
Carpenter 60 50 2 6 7 61 7 27 57 28 28 4.23 1.46
F. Rodriguez 60 54 2 3 0 59 7 32 60 31 29 4.31 1.51
Lyon 50 40 3 3 7 53 5 19 34 25 23 4.20 1.43
A. Rodriguez 45 23 1 3 0 44 6 18 35 27 23 4.65 1.38
Wright 40 43 2 2 0 39 5 18 37 20 18 4.15 1.41
Abreu 40 42 2 2 12 36 5 19 51 16 16 3.68 1.37
Abad 40 53 1 5 0 43 7 13 30 23 21 4.75 1.41
Cruz 35 27 1 2 0 36 5 33 27 26 24 6.18 1.98
Del Rosario 20 21 0 1 0 24 1 7 10 12 10 4.53 1.58
Team Totals 1450

49 1513 171 601 1179 770 700 4.34 1.46

Nothing here really stands out as unlikely to me. Maybe Happ's numbers are too good, but that's actually very close to his career averages. It's very possible one or more relievers is particularly ineffective this year, but who? And if so, they wouldn't get many innings anyway. So again, how does that stack up to last year's squad?  We're looking at a team ERA just 0.17 better as they only give up 26 fewer runs that last year. Walks are up by 41 and strikeouts are down by 12. This squad does allow 17 fewer homers, according to my projections. To again frame these projections against last year's competition a 4.34 ERA would have only put us ahead of one other team.

So, assuming my math is correct, 706 runs scored and 770 runs against would give us a projected team record of..............


Yes, I question my own sanity for actually publishing that, but there it is. Led by a potentially much improved offense it is entirely possible that the Astros will finish not last in 2012.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Roster finalized

So Alyson Footer tweeted that:

*Henry Sosa has been outrighted to OKC, where he'll join the rotation.
*Travis Buck's contract has been purchased.

So here is your 2012 Opening Day roster:

J.A. Happ
Lucas Harrell
Bud Norris
Wandy Rodriguez
Kyle Weiland

Fernando Abad
David Carpenter
Rhiner Cruz
Wilton Lopez
Brandon Lyon
Brett Myers
Fernando Rodriguez
Wesley Wright

Jason Castro
Chris Snyder

Jose Altuve
Matt Downs
Marwin Gonzalez
Chris Johnson
Carlos Lee
Jed Lowrie*

Brian Bogusevic
Travis Buck
J.D. Martinez
Jordan Schafer

*Should Jed Lowrie hit the DL with that jacked-up thumb, Brian Bixler will take his place.

Carlos Lee is the poster-boy for "bad baseball"

Buzzfeed has a post up entitled "In Defense of Bad Baseball" where, predictably, the Astros feature prominently (and Carlos Lee is the poster-boy)...

There's a limit to this, of course — if good-bad baseball feels languid and pleasantly buzzy, bad-bad baseball feels more like a sinus infection, with everything happening entirely too slowly and painfully, and with the existential suck-factor dialed all the way up. For instance, the Houston Astros — a team that has made maybe two good baseball decisions since Barack Obama was elected President — are a bummer. They don't put out a competitive product, but they charge fans competitive prices for the right to consume it; their domed stadium features so much fake old-timey gimmickry and inauthentic quirk that it might as well be a gated community called Olde Baseballe Acres; much of Houston's Major League roster appears to have been spit out of a Random Athlete Name Generator, and the organization's player development strategy in recent years has been 1) short guys, 2) players who are related to former Major Leaguers, and 3) short guys who are related to former Major Leaguers. This is unfair to their fans for a bunch of reasons. It's unfair, too, to people like Chris Johnson and J.D. Martinez — real baseball players on the Astros, promise — who are good enough at a very difficult sport to make it to the Major Leagues, but still get goofed on at BuzzFeed for their implausibly generic names. Broadly speaking, this is not good. It's bad.

Prediction: Media will drive us to insanity long before the Astros do...

Demand for Opening Day tickets down

Via the Chronicle (via SeatGeek), demand for Friday's opener against the Rockies is 28th out of 30 teams (I'm assuming this means "Home Openers").

Astros won't know for sure about Lowrie until Friday

The 25-Man roster has to be set by 4pm today, but silly rules like that don't apply to Jed Lowrie. The Astros can either leave him active, or DL him at any point. But that might not happen until Friday.

We’ll take all the time he can. If we thought it was just going to be Friday-Saturday and he’d be back Sunday, we’d probably keep him active. But we probably won’t know all that information until Friday.”

Lowrie told McTaggart:
“You know what, it feels a lot better than I thought it was going to at this point. It’s only a week out and it feels like it’s been about two months. I’m very happy with the progress it’s made, and I think it’s just because it’s a muscle strain it’s about getting soreness and stiffness out.”

Who wants to break it to the Gaston Gazette?

Poor Gaston Gazette. I don't want to do it. I really don't. They seem so happy. So proud. But someone should probably tell them that Jake Buchanan didn't make the 25-man roster.

A former two-time Gazette player of the year, Buchanan has been promoted to the Houston Astros opening day roster and could soon be North Gaston’s first major-leaguer. Buchanan, a 2007 North Gaston High graduate, got the call late Tuesday night and will be with the Astros as they open their 2012 season with a three-game home series against Colorado that begins Friday night.

I've scoured Twitter. Searched the Tranzactionz feed at Asked around. The best I can come up with was confirmed by Farmstros, that Buchanan is at Minute Maid for the exhibition game tonight against the White Sox, but that's it.

Has Bud Norris added a new pitch?

Carson Cistulli over at FanGraphs has a short little piece on Bud Norris' second pitch of last night's game against the White Sox. As the .gif shows, it's a fastball that tails away from a left handed batter which is indicative of a two-seam fastball. This is noteworthy because Bud's never really shown a two-seamer in the past. It will be interesting to see what impact this new pitch will have this season and beyond for Bud.

Johnson, Weiland are full of confidence

Over here, we see that Chris Johnson and Kyle Weiland both dealt with over- and under-confidence in 2011.

Johnson, on 2011:
"A lot of things happened last year. I didn't quite make the adjustments as early as I should have. I may have gotten a little cocky, and thought I was just going to come in last year and do it again. That's one thing I learned. You never want to get comfortable here. You have to keep working every single day."

And for Weiland? He called his wife and parents first, before dishing out the wisdom:
"You have to have confidence in this game no matter what your situation is. I knew there was a chance I could break [camp] with the team. I knew there was good talent I was going against to win a spot. The biggest thing for me was not to try to do too much."

Roster Notes

Steve Campbell has your morning update on the roster:

*Bud Norris is ready to go:
“I felt good and ready to get into this, knowing I’m healthy and 100 percent and don’t have that in the back of my head. The No. 1 priority out of spring training is to feel good, and I’m ready to go.”

*Schafer feels good after his first game in two weeks.
(But in this piece, says he's not close to 100%:
"I'm not close to 100 percent. Am I good enough to go out there and play? I think so. That's what today's all about. Hopefully, it will be good enough that I can play and be productive. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, it will get back to 100 percent again.")

*Lowrie has been upgraded to "possible"

*Shuck was optioned to OKC following last night's game. Mills:
“The one think that Shuckie does is give us good quality at-bats every time out, and that’s huge. We’re going to see him probably fairly quickly. We hope he goes down there in the right frame of mind — and there’s no reason to think he won’t — and gets back here in a hurry.”

Ways you know Jamie Moyer is old

Lucas Harrell, who will pitch in G2 on Saturday, will face Jamie Moyer, the Satchel Paige of our generation. Just in case you were wondering about the generational gap between Harrell and Moyer, Harrell had this to say:

“I used to play with Jamie Moyer when he was with the Mariners on Super Nintendo. He was one of my favorite pitchers to use. He had the super change pitch. It’s definitely an honor. It’s a very big step in my career.”

Moyer reportedly responded by saying, "I understand. I used to use Lefty Grove in my pinball baseball game."

Astros not interested in Dodgertown

TCPalm says that Jim Crane and the Astros haven't shown any interest in taking over Dodgertown, now run by Minor League Baseball, for their Spring Training facility.

MiLB president Pat O'Conner:
"I used to work for the Astros, and they are a great organization, so we'd be interested in letting them take a look, but to my knowledge we haven't heard anything from them. I didn't know they were looking around. At this point, it's kind of if anyone calls us, we'll talk to anyone and everyone interested, and then if I hear of something I'll follow up and make a call, but the dye is probably cast in Vero Beach."

Meanwhile, WPTV says that Crane liked Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, which they would split with the Mets. DDP's Paul Taglieri:
"I mean he liked what he saw and again it's just a general tour of the facility. He's keeping his options open."

Taglieri said the stadium is open to the concept of having a second team join the Mets. He said the Astros would provide a huge boost to the local economy and baseball on the east coast of Florida, which has slowly moved out over the last few years...Taglieri said the stadium is open to the concept of having a second team join the Mets. He said the Astros would provide a huge boost to the local economy and baseball on the east coast of Florida, which has slowly moved out over the last few years.

Corpus Manager Keith Bodie is pumped

Corpus Christi Manager Keith Bodie is predictably excited about the 2012 Hooks:

"I've managed in Double-A. I've managed in this league four years in Wichita. I haven't had a team with the talent like this team's got. And if you look at our record in Wichita, we won every season. We finished first every second half. We were in the playoffs every year and this team is better than any team I ever had with the Royals."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - Spring Training G31: White Sox @ Astros

The Astros fell to the Chicago White Sox 5-1 at Minute Maid Park tonight. It was the first of two exhibition games the Astros will play at MMP against the White Sox, with the other being tomorrow afternoon. The Astros then get a day off on Thursday before Opening Day on Friday evening.

*The Astros Spring Training record dropped to 14-17.

*Jordan Schafer made his return to the lineup and looked pretty solid from the leadoff spot. He had an infield hit in the 1st inning and had tough-luck out in his next at-bat when he absolutely hammered one - but right at the second baseman.

*Astros batters struck out a total of 10 times tonight. They are going to have to make better contact during the regular season to give themselves a chance of putting guys on base.

*Carpenter gave up back to back homeruns to Dunn and Konerko in the 5th inning. He also gave up a walk. It was by all accounts a very ugly outing.

*Brett Wallace looked very comfortable at 3rd base on a couple of hot shots his way in the top of the 9th. Chris Johnson on the other hand looked lost at the plate and bobbled a ball in the infield that resulted in an infield hit. Although it wasn't a 'gimme' by any means, Johnson is going to have to play better defensively and have his bat heat up to hold off Wallace from coming back up to the big league club and stealing his spot.

*Altuve had a couple of great at bats where he really worked the count. It finally paid off on his last at bat when he got lucky on a bloop single. With such a small strike zone it would be nice to see him walk more this year.

*The bullpen had its ups and downs but really didn't look that effective. The White Sox had 14 hits to our 7 tonight. 

*The Astros were very agressive on the basepaths tonight. A lot of it likely has to do with AJ Pierzynski only throwing out 20% of attempted base stealers in his career...but I hope they keep it up in the regular season and put some pressure on the other teams.

*Even Carlos Lee attempted a stolen base - and although there wasn't  a great slow motion reply provided, he looked safe to me. He sure thought he was.

*I know it is only one game and it was against some good major league pitching...but JD Martinez and Chris Snyder stood out as two guys to me who I thought would make some solid contact tonight, but really didn't look good at all swinging the bat.

Man of the Match
Tough choice on a bad night for the offense and not a great night all around, but going with Jose Altuve here. Went 1 for 2 and drew a walk - worked the count deep on both of his first trips up. Also made a couple of nice knockdowns in the game. Perhaps they could have been done better and converted to outs, but they likely saved runs regardless.

Goat of the Game
Split decision:
1. Chris Johnson - 0 for 3 at the plate with 2 strikeouts and a bobbled ball in the infield that resulted in an infield single. 
2. David Carpenter - came into a close 2-1 game, promptly gave up back to back homeruns and put the Astros in a 4-1 hole.