Saturday, April 14, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G8: Astros (3-4) @ Marlins (3-5)

Bud Norris (0-0, 2.57) v.s. Carlos Zambrano (0-0, 6.00)

What a comeback! The Astros fell behind early yet again, but this time rallied with 4 runs in the top of the 9th to erase the 4-1 deficit and beat the Marlins 5-4. The Astros move back to .500 at 4-4 while the Marlins fall to 3-6 despite outplaying the Astros for most of the game.

*Bud Norris continued our streak of having starters struggle at the start of the game, giving up 4 runs in his first 3 innings of work. After that he was able to buckle down however and put in a solid, if not spectacular, outing. His line: 6.0 IP / 6 H / 4 ER / 1 BB / 2 K. Rhiner Cruz picked up the Win with 2 innings of solid relief, and Brett Myers breezed through the bottom of the 9th for his second save of the season.

*Going to start from the end this time around...what a wild top of the 9th. The Astros hadn't even collected a hit since Altuve's infield single in the top of the 4th. Marlins closer Heath Bell came in to nail down the save and got a fly out to left for the first out. Then things unravelled for the fish. Altuve doubled off the wall in center and advanced to third on an error. Travis Buck came in as a pinch hitter and singled to left to drive in Altuve and narrow the deficit to 4-2. Jordan Schafer then reached on catchers interference, when his bat hit the glove of Brett Hayes during his swing. He was awarded first base. Lowrie flied out, to bring JD Martinez up with runners on 1st and 2nd and 2 out. With many of his friends and family in attendance, JD signled up the middle to make it a 4-3 game. Carlos Lee then took the first pitch he saw and drove it into right field to make it a tie game. The Marlins should have gotten out of the inning after that with a 4-4 tie....but Bogey came up and hit a fly ball to left field. Logan Morrison had trouble with it and got turned around, and dropped the ball - giving the Astros the 5-4 lead. The Astros sent 9 men to the plate in the 9th and scored 4 runs. Great resiliency from this young team.

*JD Martinez has now hit safely in all 8 games to start the season. He has been absolutely clutch this series. He went 1 for 3 tonight with 2 walks and the big RBI in the 9th.

*The Astros scored a run in the 1st inning for the 3rd straight game. Jordan Schafer did a great job of getting on base again, as he went 0 for 1 tonight but walked 3 times. His OBP is now .444 for the year. It makes a huge difference having a patient hitter at the top of the order that sets the table for us, and can still steal a bag (although he didn't attempt any steals tonight).

*The Astros are now 0 for 8 on the year with the bases loaded (0 for 2 tonight, both in the first inning). They have to do a better job of capitalizing on their chances. Carlos Zambrano was wild tonight, walking 6 in his 6 innings of work. The Astros had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the 3rd, but again didn't score a run. Bogey tapped one back to the pitcher which resulted in JD getting thrown out returning to 3rd, and Chris Johnson hit a single to left which Carlos Lee tried to come home on from second, but was thrown out by a mile.

*The Astros left 10 on base tonight, including 7 through the first 4 innings.

*I've been arguing this for awhile now, but I still can't see how we can continue to bat Bogusevic in the 5 spot. He went 0 for 3 again tonight and is now batting .083 on the year. He keeps coming up with RBI chances and keeps blowing said chances. Either give Buck more regular playing time, as he is taking advantage of it - or move Bogey down in the order and give him a chance to work things out with less pressure in each at bat.

*Jed Lowrie went 0 for 5 tonight, but he had a couple of hard hit balls - including a flyout to the warning track in the 3rd that the FS Houston crew estimated at around 390 feet.

Turning Point:
Altuve's double in the 9th. Heath Bell had already collected one out and the Astros hadn't even had a hit since Altuve's infield single in the 4th inning. The Astros were down 4-1 and all hope appeared to be lost. But Altuve's double and subsequent advance to third on the error by Bonifacio in center picking up the ball sparked the Astros rally and allowed them to come back and eventually take the lead.

Man of the Match:
Some argument here for Altuve and JD for sure, but going with Carlos Lee. I can't stress how impressed i've been with him this year. He's been an RBI machine with 9 already on the season and seems to be making great contact every at bat. Tonight he went 3 for 5 at the plate with 2 RBI, including driving in the game tying run in the top of the 9th. He also made an outstanding diving grab on a line drive at 1st.

Goat of the Game:
Brian Bogusevic. How he can still be batting 5th in our lineup is beyond me. He isn't even having good at bats - he swung at several bad pitches tonight and is not helping himself at all. I do have faith in Bogey....but just not in that 5 spot. Move him down in the order and let him work out his struggles, or give Buck more playing time.

Know Your Enemy: April 14

And the Astros tangle with old foe Carlos Zambrano.

*30-year old RHP Carlos Zambrano - 6'4" 275lb
*First Venezuelan pitcher to lead the NL in wins (2006)
*Got his first career win against the Astros on September 20, 2001, coming out of the bullpen
*On June 5, 2006 Zambrano took a no-hitter into the 8th against Houston when Preston Wilson broke it up with a single. He also hit a 3-run homer that game.
*Of course, Zambrano threw baseball's only neutral-site no-hitter on September 14, 2008, in an "away game" in Milwaukee due to Hurricane Ike. He walked Michael Bourn in the 4th and hit Hunter Pence in the 5th for the only two baserunners allowed.
*Zambrano is making his second start since August 12, 2011, when he gave up five homers to Atlanta, got ejected, cleaned out his locker, and told the team he was retiring.
*He was traded for Chris Volstad in January.

*In 34 games against the Astros, Houston has collectively hit .203/.294/.305 for a .598 OPS (3rd-lowest in MLB vs. Zambrano).
*Zambrano is 16-8 with a 2.72 ERA/1.14 WHIP against Houston for his career.
*He was 2-0 in three games against the Astros in 2011, with a 3.66 ERA/1.37 WHIP.
*In his first start of the 2012 season, against Cincinnati, Z threw 6IP, 4H/4ER, 6K;2BB; he threw 60 of his 95 pitches for strikes (18 looking, 15 swinging).
*Carlos Lee has a career .358/.427/.672 line against Big Z, as the only current Astro to face him 10+ times.

*Bud Norris was 1-1 against Miami in 2011, with a 6.65 ERA/1.52 WHIP, 21K:6BB.
*Current Marlins are hitting .290/.343/.435 against Norris.
*Jose Reyes is 4x10, BB; Hanley Ramirez is 4x9 with a homer (and a 1.333 OPS)
*Chris Coghlan is 0x11, with 6K:2BB.

Crane tours Marlins Park, will submit a new uniform soon has an article up on Jim Crane, whose Floridian Golf Club is in Palm City.

Jason Castro is quite excited to have Crane as the owner:
"We've had a little bit of interaction with him and I'm really impressed with everything I've seen. He definitely knows the direction he wants to go with the club and it's exciting to be a part of this right now."

Crane, on any imminent changes:
"I can continue (to say) we haven't made the decision yet, but we're going to submit something to see if we can get it approved. Yes, we're still working on it."

And, in a breath of fresh air, Crane had this to say on what to expect from his touring:
" year with all the information we'll get from the ballparks, continue to work on improving our staff and improve things at our place. Of course (Luhnow) will constantly be working with his staff. We'll run the business side and let him run the baseball side and hopefully we can win some more ball games.

J.D. Martinez hit his homer to the four people in the stands

I know it's not exactly fair to jump on the Marlins for their attendance problems, but J.D. Martinez wasn't able to get his homer, the first regular season home run hit at the new Marlins Park, from the stands. (Also, there were over 30,000 people in the seats - so that was a cheap-shot).

Martinez, on his homer:
"It's definitely awesome," Martinez said. "It was pretty cool. We talked about it and words can't describe it. I felt like it was my first home run when I hit it. That's because I got to do it in front of my family and friends and everybody."

PreStros Farm Report: April 13

Oklahoma City (7-2)

So how great is it to beat any level of a Cardinals team? Memphis took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st off Jordan Lyles, but the RedHawks scored 11 of the next 12 runs for an 11-3 win. Lyles gave up 3H/2ER, with 7K:0BB, in 7IP. The first three Memphis batters got on base (HBP, HR, Single), and then faced 21 batters from that point forward. Adalberto Flores gave up 3H/1ER in 1IP, and Enerio Del Rosario threw a perfect 9th inning to close out the game.

The Astros tagged up Shelby Miller for 6H/4ER, 2HR in 5IP as Brian Bixler showed how unhappy he was with getting send down by going 4x5 with an RBI and 2SBs; Fernando Martinez hit two homers for 6RBI, Angel Sanchez went 3x5 with a HR, 2RBI, and Brett Wallace was 3x5. Jordan Lyles added a two-run double. The RedHawks were 6x13 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: How about Fernando Martinez?

Corpus (5-3)

Corpus got 12 runs for the 2nd consecutive game with seven 9th inning runs at NW Arkansas for a 12-2 win. Jose Cisnero threw 6IP, 3H/0ER, 7K:2BB; Henry Villar threw 2IP, 1H/0ER; and Josh Zeid gave up the two Naturals runs with 3H/2ER in 1IP.

The Hooks knocked around Royals prospect with 5H/5ER, 5K:4BB in 4.1IP, and drew 12 walks as a team. Brandon Barnes was 3x5 with 2RBI; Jake Goebbert was 2x4 with two doubles, a walk, and 3RBI. Chris Wallace was 1x4 with a walk and 3RBI; Austin Wates was 1x5 with a walk and 2RBI. Kody Hinze was 1x2 with 3BB, and T.J. Steele was 0x2 with an RBI and 2BBB.

Man of the Match: Jake Goebbert

Lancaster (2-6)

Game vs. Lake Elsinore postponed due to rain.

Lexington (3-6)

Lexington was down 3-0 going in to the 5th, scored five runs, gave up the tying runs in the 8th, and got a two-out walk-off homer courtesy of Alex Todd in the bottom of the 11th for a 6-5 win. Jonas Dufek threw 5IP, 6H/2ER, 6K:0BB; Evan Grills gave up 3H/1ER in 2IP; Murilo Gouvea gave up 3H/2ER, 1K:1BB, HR in 1IP, and Dayan Diaz got the win with 1H/0ER, 5K:1BB in 3IP of relief.

Alex Todd, in addition to the walk-off, was 3x6; Matt Duffy was 3x5 with 2RBI, and Justin Gominsky was 2x5 with an RBI; Delino DeShields was 1x5 with a double, walk, and 2Ks.

Man of the Match: Dayan Diaz.

Friday, April 13, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G7: Astros (3-3) @ Marlins (2-5)

Lucas Harrell (1-0, 0.00) v.s. Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.38)

It took 11 innings, but the Astros dropped a 5-4 decision to the Marlins tonight to lose their 3rd in a row and drop to 3-4 on the season. This was a tough loss as the Astros fought back from a 4-2 deficit with a 2 run JD Martinez homerun in the 8th to tie the game up, and they had a great chance to take the lead in the top of the 9th. But it wasn't to be as Gaby Sanchez drove in Chris Coghlan with a walk-off double off the left field wall in the bottom of the 11th.

*After a great first outing, Harrell had a very rough go tonight. His line: 4.0 IP / 7 H / 4 ER / 4 BB / 2 K. Of course this is the danger with a pitcher who relies on pitching to contact and forcing groundballs. Some nights these balls are going to find the holes and get by for hits, and that's what happened tonight. Brandon Lyon took the loss and is 0-1 on the year.


*The new Marlins Park is huge. I mean you can read the dimensions and see that it is 344 feet down the left field line or 388 in the left-center power alley....which are big numbers....but until you actually SEE a game played there and see some absolute bombs to left field that would leave many/most MLB ballparks - then you really get a sense of how huge this park is.

*Have you ever seen a smaller strike zone than that of tonight's home plate umpire Paul Nauert? At least he was fair - pitchers on both teams got absolutely jobbed on the strike zone. Many great pitchers at the knees and on the corners were called balls, even when Fox Track clearly showed that they were strikes. That is tough on pitchers and a good reason why both starters threw 85/90 pitches in 4.0/5.0 innings tonight (Harrell/Nolasco respectively).

*Chris Johnson has really picked up his defense. Some GREAT plays tonight on some very tough chances, including a ridiculous catch in the bottom of the 9th where he fell over the railing into the crowd and still somehow managed to catch and hang on to the ball. A huge improvement over his defensive performances in the first few games this season.

*Jason Castro finally broke his early season slump with his first hit and first RBI of the season. He ended up 2 for 5 on the night.

*Jordan Schafer stole 2 more bases and now has 5 on the season. He is now tied for the major league lead. He had 22 steals last year and is on pace to surpass that by far if he keeps up his agressive baserunning.

*Jed Lowrie also stole a base tonight as part of a double steal with Schafer. The Astros are being very agressive on the basepaths this year and it is great to see. When you are a team that doesn't rely on the longball or proven RBI guys, getting on base and moving into scoring position is huge.

*Jed Lowrie had a great first game as an Astro with a 2 for 3 night, scoring 1 run, walking twice, driving in a run and stealing a base. He also made a very nice defensive play and generally looked right at home at shortstop.

*Marlins closer Heath Bell got 2 quick outs in the top of the 9th before rattling off 13 straight balls! He walked the bases loaded and  delivered ball 1 to Carlos Lee before finally settling down and getting Carlos Lee to groundout on a checkswing. I can't recall ever seeing that many balls in a row. What looked like a quick inning turned into a real chance to take the lead and possibly sneak out a win.

*With Jed Lowrie's return, Jose Altuve was moved down to 8th in the order and went 0-5. I like Altuve at the top of the order, especially with his patience, but if he can continue getting on base as well as he has, he could be potent at the bottom of the order. 

*Bogey went 0 for 4 tonight and is now batting .095 on the year, all from the #5 spot. Travis Buck had a pinch at bat tongiht, and while he grounded out I absolutely love his hustle. Right now if I was Mills i'd be looking to shake things up a bit and at least flip CJ and Bogey around in the order. CJ is still mashing the ball right now and we need him up there with those RBI chances.

*How good is JD Martinez so far. His line on the year is .385/.429/.769. I know it's only been 7 games, but this guy can HIT.

Turning Point:

Putting Brandon Lyon in the game. In all seriousness, it's been a rollercoaster ride with him this year. He had a stinker in his first outing of the year, two good outings in between against Atlanta (although in one he only faced one batter) and then his short outing tonight. JD Martinez's homerun in the 8th was also a turning point in that it tied the game and sent it to extras, and it would have been the biggest play of the game had the Astros managed to scrape together the win tonight.

Man of the Match:

I was very impressed with Jed Lowrie's play in his first regular season game as an Astro, but tonight the Man of the Match goes to JD Martinez. He went 2 for 4 at the plate with 2 runs and and 2 RBI's and drew a walk. He also had the big homerun to left field in the 8th which brought in Jed Lowrie and tied up the game. The homerun was the first in Marlins Park history (regular season).

Goat of the Game:

A toss up between Lucas Harrell and Brandon Lyon. Harrell didn't even give us a chance by digging a huge hole in his short 4 innings of work tonight, and Lyon spoiled what was otherwise a great (and long) performance by the entire bullpen tonight.

Lowrie hitting 2nd tonight

So the lineup for G7 is up, and Jed Lowrie is hitting 2nd (ending that debate), with Altuve dropping all the way down to 8th.

1. Schafer
2. Lowrie
3. Martinez
4. Lee
5. Bogusevic
6. Johnson
7. Castro
8. Altuve
9. Harrell

Anyone have a problem with the way the lineup is constructed?

PreStros Farm Report: April 12

PreStros: April 12

Oklahoma City (6-2) 

Dallas Keuchel was in complete control as the RedHawks beat the Sounds (MIL) 2-0.

Keuchel pitched 7 innings and allowed just 4 H. He induced an excellent 12 ground outs to go with 5 K. Mickey Storey and Jose Valdez each pitched a scoreless inning in relief. None of the three pitchers OKC used Thursday has allowed an earned run this season.

Thankfully, OKC didn’t need much offense, because they didn’t have much offense in this game. PH-Justin Ruggiano had the big hit, a 2 RBI single in his lone plate appearance. LF-Fernando Martinez was 1x3 with 1 R and 1 OF assist.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel

Corpus Christi (4-3) 

The Corpus offense continues to hit on all cylinders as they knocked out a combined 6 2B and 4 3B to beat NW Arkansas (KC) 12-5.

Ross Seaton went 3 innings and gave up 3 R on 5 H with 2 BB and 4 K. Erick Abreu threw the next 3 innings and allowed 2 H and 1 R with 1 BB and 1 K. Kevin Chapman threw 2 innings and gave up 1 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Jason Stoffel finished it up with a scoreless 9th allowing just 1 BB with 2 K.

LF-Jake Goebbert was 3x5 with 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 2 R and 2 RBI. 1B-Jonathan Singleton was 3x5 with 1 BB, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 R and 1 RBI. CF-Brandon Barnes went 2x4 with 2 2B, 1 BB, 2 R and 1 RBI. 2B-Jose Martinez was 3x5 with 1 3B, 1 R, and 5 RBI.

Man of the Match: Jose Martinez

I was curious about Martinez, so I dug a little into his history last night.

Lancaster (2-6) 

Lancaster controlled this game wire to wire to beat Lake Elsinore (SD) 6-2.

Zach Grimmet went 5 innings and allowed 2 R on 4 H and 2 BB with 6 K. Gabriel Garcia and Pat Urckfitz didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way to close out the victory.

SS-Jio Mier is heating up at the plate and went 2x3 with 2 BB and 1 R. DH-Erik Castro was 3x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R and 3 RBI. PH/3B-Ben Orloff was 0x0 with 2 BB and 2 R.

Man of the Match: Erik Castro

Lexington (2-6) 

The Legends home opener was spoiled by Kannapolis (CHW) as Lexington fell behind after a 5 run 3rd inning and couldn’t mount a comeback, ultimately losing 9-4.

Tanner Bushue was roughed up again. He allowed 6 R on 8 H and 1 BB in 3 innings with 3 K. Luis Cruz pitched well in relief, going 4 innings and allowing just 1 H with 5 K. Jason Chowning added 2 IP and gave up 3 unearned runs on 4 H and 1 BB with 4 K.

2B-Delino DeShields was 2x5 with 1 2B, 1 SB, and 2 R with 1 error. LF-Jordan Scott continues his assault on the Sally League as he went 3x4 with 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI, and 1 SB.

Man of the Match: Jordan Scott

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.

MLB Insider has Astros taking Buxton

MLB Draft Insider has a new Mock Draft up, in which the Astros take Georgia HS OF Byron Buxton with the #1 overall pick.

They also project the 1-41 pick to be Oklahoma HS RHP Ty Hensley.

Know Your Enemy: April 13

Oh noes! Friday the 13th!

The Marlins were 6-1 against Houston in 2011 (4-0 at home), and are 13-7 against Houston since 2009.

The Astros get a chance to break in the homerunstrosity in Miami, against 29-year old 6'0" 225lb RHP Ricky Nolasco, from Corona, California.

*Nolasco was traded to the Marlins in December 2005, with Sergio Mitre and Renyel Pinto, to the Cubs for Juan Pierre. Silly Cubs.
*Nolasco gave up an NL-leading 244 hits in 2011, posting a career-high 1.40 WHIP (in seasons where he pitched more than 25IP).
*After posting 9.5 and 8.4 K/9 innings in 2009-10, respectively, Nolasco's K/9 dropped to 6.5 in 2011.
*Nolasco is the Marlins' franchise leader in strikeouts.
*He was 2-0 against Houston in 2011, throwing 17IP, allowing 15H/3ER, 10K:1BB. His 0.94 WHIP against Houston was the best against an NL team in 2011.
*Nolasco has six career complete games; two of them are against Houston.
*He got a career-high 45.1% ground-ball rate in 2011, with a corresponding career-low 31.1% fly-ball rate.
*His velocity was consistent with 2011 in his first start, last Saturday, with his fastball sitting at 89.5mph - a tick lower than his 90.5mph in 2011.
*Nolasco got the win on Saturday, throwing 8IP, 6H/3ER, 5K:0BB, but allowing 2HR in an 8-3 win at Cincinnati.
*It's not pretty when you look at Nolasco's history vs. Houston hitters. Among players with 5+ PAs, Chris Johnson has done the best, with an .857 OPS. Carlos Lee is 3x16 with a homer and a .625 OPS, and Chris Snyder is 3x16 with 5K:1BB for a .548 OPS.

*Lucas Harrell has not faced any current Marlins batter.

Brett Wallace talks to The Oklahoman

Brett Wallace did an interview with The Oklahoman yesterday and, among other things, talked about his approach at the plate:

“I just try to stay through baseballs and if they pitch them middle, middle away, you have to try to stay through them so I try to stay the other way. I've worked really hard on being able to hit a few balls on the pull side now, too. You just got to go with the pitch wherever it is.”

On what he wants to show the Astros during this stretch in OKC:
“I think just to keep working hard and show them some consistency. I think that's the biggest thing they want to see, consistent run production. I think if I do that I will have another shot.”

In seven games with OKC this season, he's hitting .241/.290/.448 with 6RBI on seven hits. Four of those seven hits have been for extra-bases (3 doubles, 1 homer).

Whoa, J.D. Martinez's parents did something that was not cool

In an interview with Brian McTaggart, J.D. Martinez talks about growing up a huge Marlins fan in Miami. So much so that he went to the World Series in 1997, and got all excited when the Marlins went again in 2003. Except he had a school project.

"They said, 'You've got to finish your project. It's worth 50 percent of the grade.' I had to stay home and watch it, and they went and left me. I would sit there in front of the TV and yell and go crazy and do my project at the same time."

I take back every bad thing I said about Carlos Corporan last year

Okay, so while Carlos Corporan limped along to a .188 batting average last season getting sporadic playing time behind Humberto Quintero, his newborn son's heart wasn't developing properly, needing open-heart surgery as a premature baby.

When he got another chance in September, things got worse, with Carlos Jr. needing another open-heart surgery:
"I was in the big leagues, you know. You are thinking about your baby in the hospital and possibly dying you have to go to the field to perform, it's hard. I did the best I could."

There's a happy ending, though, so, yay.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jose Martinez didn't take the easy road to Corpus

Jose Martinez has been very impressive so far this season for Corpus. Through the first 5 games this season, he's hitting .316/.381/.632 with 1 HR, 6 runs, and 5 RBI. He's also made a handful of outstanding plays on defense. So far, he's looking like a steal for Jeff Luhnow. Except he's already 26 and hasn't really played since 2008. So where did he go and how did he end up here?

Jose began his career as an international signing for the Cardinals and debuted at age 19 in the Appalachian League where he posted an .887 OPS. He reached AA Springfield when he was 21 in 2007 and posted an .811 OPS. This kid was going places. He tried to play through a stress fracture in 2008 and his production suffered. Despite the setback, there was an outside shot Jose would have a chance at replacing Adam Kennedy on the St. Louis roster.

And then tragedy struck. On Valentine's Day 2009 his family in Venezuela was the victim of a brutal home invasion that led to the deaths of his grandmother, father, and two uncles. Needless to say baseball took a back seat for Jose at that point and he missed most of spring training dealing with the tragedy.

When he returned, shoulder tendinitis kept him from fully resuming his career, eventually leading to surgery.

Now that he's healthy, the man who helped develop him in the Cardinals organization is helping give Jose Martinez an opportunity to get his career back on track. Hopefully Martinez can realize the potential that Jeff Luhnow saw in him before Jose had to deal with the unimaginable.

Sources: The Cardinal Nation and CardinalsNet

Austin Wates is not in the lineup for Corpus tonight.

Our buddy Greg Rajan is tweeting an interesting little note:

Hmmm, Austin Wates not in the @cchooks lineup tonight at NWA. Wonder what's up with that.

Not sure why you'd sit a guy who is hitting .500/.552/.731, so that leads to...


Intrigue Update: Greg Rajan responded to our tweet:
The @cchooks manager says there are no everyday OFs on the team, that all of them will play. Don't agree with that approach.

Yeah. That's a bad idea.

Lowrie activated, Bixler sent down

Jed Lowrie has been activated from the DL, and Brian Bixler has been sent to OKC.

We didn't get to see much of Brian Bixler - just 7PAs - but he got a hit, walked, and struck out three times.

What I'm most interested in seeing is where Mills will put Lowrie in the lineup. Originally it was thought that Lowrie would be the #2 hitter but Jose Altuve, in six short games, has been solid at the #2-hole - getting on base 10 times in 23 PAs. Lowrie has spent most of his time at #6 or #7, so we could see the following:

1. Schafer
2. Altuve
3. Martinez
4. Lee
5. Johnson
6. Bogusevic
7. Lowrie
8. Castro / Snyder
9. Pitcher


TCB interviews Mike Fast

The Crawfish Boxes interviewed baseball analyst/sabermagician/Astros employee Mike Fast today. There's a lot of good stuff, and while we're exceptionally jealous, we're not going to pull from any of it, so you have to go over there and read the whole thing for yourselves.

Wade Miller has a new job

Former Astros ace Wade Miller, who pitched for Houston from 1999-2004 and was the Opening Day starter in 2002, got himself a job as an assistant coach at Division III Alvernia University in Reading, PA. Miller pitched for Alvernia in 1995 (still holding the single-game strikeout record, with 16) before getting drafted in the 20th Round by the Astros in 1996.

Miller threw 768IP, allowing 699H/330ER for a 3.87 ERA/1.31 WHIP, for the Astros. He finished his MLB career in Boston in 2005, and Chicago in 2006-07. He joined the Blue Jays' organization in 2009, pitching six games for Triple-A Las Vegas.

PreStros Farm Report: April 11

PreStros: April 11

Oklahoma City (5-2) 

After heading into the ninth inning leading 6-5, OKC lost a back and forth game 7-6 on a 10th inning walkoff HR from Nashville (MIL) Wednesday night.

Aneury Rodriguez was cruising with a shutout until he had two outs in the fourth inning. 4.2 innings was all he would last, giving up 3 R (2 earned) on 8 H and 3 BB with 7 K. Enerio Del Rosario gave up 2 R on 2 H in just .1 IP. Juan Abreu blew the save in the 9th and took the loss in the 10th as he gave up 4 H and 2 R, including the walkoff HR.

CF-JB Shuck was 2x5 with 1 3B and 1 R. SS-Jed Lowrie went 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. LF-Fernando Martinez was 2x5 with 2 R. 3B-Scott Moore was 4x5 with 2 2B, 1 R, and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Scott Moore

Corpus Christi (3-3) 


Off Day Spotlight:

Jose Cisnero
Born:               April 11, 1989
Bats/Throws:   R/R
Height/Weight: 6’3”/185lbs
Acquired:        Signed by Houston Astros as non-drafted free agent, 2007
Position:          SP

Cisnero had been nothing short of impressive before last season. In each of his first three seasons as a professioinal, he had posted ERAs under 4.00 and was mowing down opposing batters. Jose seemed well positioned to survive a stint in the thin air at Lancaster, as he historically has shown a high strikeout and groundball rate. While the strikeouts were still there, his groundball rate took a turn for the worst and his already borderline control deteriorated as well. If he’s able to get his walks back under control then 2011 will simply be a speed bump on his way up the chain.

Lancaster (1-6) 

Losing close games late has been an unfortunate theme for all of Houston’s minor league teams so far this season, and last night’s JetHawks game was no exception as they lost 6-5 on a bases-loaded walkoff walk.

Ruben Alaniz pitched okay, going 6 innings while allowing 4 R (3 earned) on 5 H with 1 BB, 1 HBP, and 5 K. Jorge De Leon gave up the “shrimp” as he got just 1 out in the 9th while giving up 1 H and 3 BB.

1B-Telvin Nash was 1x4 with 2 RBI and 3 K. LF-Dan Adamson was 1x4 with a solo HR and 3 K.

Man of the Match: Telvin Nash

Lexington (2-5) 

Mike Foltynewicz decided to end Lexington’s three game losing streak almost single handedly as he led the way to the Legends 3-0 victory.

Folty threw 6 dominating shutout innings, giving up just 3 H and 2 BB with 8 K. Murilo Gouvea threw 2 scoreless innings and Dayan Diaz allowed just a walk for his 1 inning save.

LF-Jordan Scott was 1x3 with 2 R, 1 SB, and 1 BB. DH-Zach Johnson was 2x4 with 1 2B and 2 RBI. CF-Drew Muren was 0x2 with 2 BB and 1 SB.

Man of the Match: Mike Foltynewicz

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.

Wandy got all frustrated in the 4th inning

So of course the Braves scored four runs in the 4th inning last night, but the Braves batted around thanks to some sketchy pitches and sketchier defense (two errors). Watching the game, Wandy looked like he was pretty ticked off, and Mills confirmed it:

“That fourth inning, (Rodriguez) really got frustrated with himself. We had a good talk after he came out of the game.”

1st thing: Perhaps the time to have that good talk and settle him down is, I don't know, when you see him getting frustrated with himself in the middle of the inning. Brocail, Mills, Castro, Stretch Suba, Junction Jack, Dick Cheney, or the ghost of Millard Fillmore should have been out there calming Wandy down and trying to get his head back in the game.

2nd thing: Wandy is 33 years old. He's the oldest pitcher on the roster, and the #1 starter. It's one thing to get emotional, it's another to get mentally derailed as the de facto leader of the rotation.

Schafer can run whenever he wants

Jordan Schafer has the green light to run pretty much whenever he wants:

"I pretty much have the green light the entire time. Obviously, the situation in the game determines if I'm going to go. Medlin is 1.1 [seconds], 1.15 to the plate. We're down three runs there and I'm not going to take the chance with a guy that's 1.1. That's just running into an out.

"It's just kind of being smart and picking your times to go. Obviously, Tommy takes his time a little bit and he's a guy you can run on."

Fredi Gonzalez has some nice things to say about the Astros

Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez had some awfully nice things to say about the Astros (and the danger of Carlos Lee being the tying run in the bottom of the 9th):

These guys [Astros] — I know it’s a young season but you look up at the scoreboard and everybody’s hitting .360. Everybody has a a terrific approach at the plate, those young kids over there. And the last thing you want to see in the game is Carlos Lee at the plate with him being the tying run and some pretty decent numbers against Kimbrel. So I’m glad we got out of there without anything getting too crazy in the ninth.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G6 - Astros v. Braves

Well, now. 3-1 turned into 3-3, with last night's 6-3 loss to the Braves.

*Of course, the Astros are 1-1 in rubber match games in 2012.

*The Astros have 10+ hits in four of their six games, including their last three. They had streaks of 3+ games with 10+ hits eight times in 2011.

*Wandy was all over the place last night. Two wild pitches (he had five in all of 2011), first-pitch strikes to just 13 of 24 batters faced. He has faced 54 batters this season, and thrown first-pitch strikes to 31 of them (57.4%).

*It all sort of fell apart in the 4th inning. Chipper Jones singled, Dan Uggla (whom we dubbed "Snuggla" due to his skinny clothes), grounded to shortstop - whereupon Marwin Gonzalez couldn't pick the ball. Jason Heyward singled to right. David Ross doubled over Schafer's head, scoring Jones and Snuggla. Jack Wilson bunted to Wandy, scoring Hheyward. Randall Delgado bunted to Wandy, but Wandy couldn't pick up the ball. Bourn lined out, Wandy walked Prado on four pitches, and Freddy Freeman finally struck out swinging to end the inning with the bases loaded.

*This was the 2nd time this season the Astros have allowed three runs in one inning. And hey, what do you know, even though they were unearned runs, the first time came on Opening Day against Colorado with Wandy pitching.

*Rhiner Cruz had a strong appearance, throwing 2IP, and allowing 2H/0ER, 2K:0BB; Fernando Rodriguez gave up an earned run; Wesley Wright allowed two baserunners and an unearned run. So that's two unearned runs, thanks to four errors by the Astros (Marwin, Wandy, Buck, Maxwell). Yeah, that's two outfield errors.

*Starters have allowed 16 runs (12 earned) in 36.1IP (2.97 ERA) this season. The bullpen has allowed 9 runs (7 earned) in 17.2IP (3.57 ERA). Collectively, 20 of the 73 batters the bullpen has faced have reached base.

*The Astros had the bases loaded for four PAs last night and went 0x3 with a walk. Marwin Gonzalez had the bases loaded in the 4th, and grounded out to end the inning. In the 7th, the Astros - down 4-2 - had the bases loaded with one out. J.D. Martinez hit the ball to shallow right, Carlos Lee walked to score a run, and Matt Downs went after the first-pitch and promptly grounded out to end the inning.

*In 7PAs with the bases loaded this season, the Astros are 0x5 with a sac fly and a walk.

*Jordan Schafer was 2x4 with a walk, Jose Altuve was 2x4, J.D. Martinez was 2x4 with his 2nd homer and a walk. So you're top three in the lineup got on base eight times in 15 plate appearances, and scored two runs.

*Chris Johnson has a five-game hit streak, going 8x21 with 4Ks, after a 2x4 night last night.

*Jason Castro was 0x2 with a walk, extending his season-opening hit-less streak to 14 PAs - giong 0x11 with 3BBs. He has only hit one ball to the outfield so far.

*Man of the Match: This could be debated, but I'm going with J.D. Martinez. 2x4, walk, homer.

*Goat of the Game: Wandy Rodriguez. That 4th inning just got away from him - like so many big innings. Of the seven runs for which Wandy has been on the mound, six of them have come in one inning.

*Turning Point: You could make a strong case that it was Altuve getting "picked off" 2nd to end the inning. The replays I saw looked like Jack Wilson tagged his own foot, and not Altuve. But that wasn't the last chance the Astros had - so it has to be the bottom of the 7th. The Astros had three chances with the bases loaded to break this game open, and scored one run. Matt Downs...take a pitch one time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ivan DeJesus talks about managing the Legends

The Lexington Herald-Leader's Mark Maloney interviewed Legends' manager Ivan DeJesus today, just before the Legends enjoyed a 3-0 win over Hagerstown.

Money quote, on the Legends' trademark this season:
Every game, we're right in the game. One play here, one play there. I think it's the consistency. Play the game the right way. Consistent play. ... We need to play hard all the time, no matter what. Again, one inning is the one that is killing us, so we need to stop the bleeding right away and make (a way) to correct that.


Over at Baseball America, they have a list of the ten youngest players in each full-season league. Where do we find the Astros?

Jose Altuve is the youngest player in Major League Baseball (and only four days younger than Seattle's Erasmo Ramirez).
Jordan Lyles is the 3rd-youngest player in the Pacific Coast League.
Jonathan Singleton & Jonathan Villar are the 3rd and 4th youngest players in the Texas League.
Enrique Hernandez is the 8th-youngest player in the California League.

Jon Gaston is quite excited about the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks are an independent baseball team. They play in the American Association of Independent Baseball Teams whose season starts on May 17 at El Paso. They're also former Astro prospect Jon Gaston's new favorite team, having apparently signed with them today.

Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks here I come! First time i've been really excited to start playing baseball in a few years. #newbeginnings

Fargo-Moorhead is managed by Doug Simunic, who is not the father of Andy Simunic, who plays for Corpus Christi. No, Doug Simunic got into an on-field fight with the opposing team's manager in 2009.

I guess Corpus Christi and the Astros organization can't hold a candle to Fargo-Moorhead. :-(

Know Your Enemy: April 11

6'3" 200lb RHP Randall Delgado

*Delgado was Atlanta's 3rd-best prospect, according to Baseball America, in 2011.
*This will be Delgado's 8th career start in the majors, having gone 1-1 in 2011, with 35IP, 29H/11ER, 18K:14BB, 5HR.
*His ERA was 2.83 in 2011, but his FIP was 5.14 and xFIP was 4.97, benefiting from a .220 BABIP.
*Delgado throws a fastball 66.3% of the time, averaging 92.4mph, with a changeup (22.3% - 82.8mph) and curve (11.3% - 79.2mph) mixed in.
*He gets more fly balls (42%) than grounders (38.4%).
*Like many an Astro, Delgado skipped Triple-A. He was twice promoted from Double-A to spot start for Tommy Hanson.
*Delgado hasn't faced anybody on the Astros.
*From John Sickels (August 2011):
If I were the Braves, I'd try to get him 20 starts in Triple-A next year before pushing him into extensive major league action. Although he needs more polish right now, Delgado's stuff is good enough for him to be a number two or strong number three starter in the medium and long runs, provided he stays healthy and makes further progress with his command.

*For his career, Wandy is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA/1.28 WHIP against Atlanta, allowing 55H/24ER, 36K:20BB in 61IP. The Braves, collectively, have hit .241/.318/.373 off Wandy - the 3rd lowest OPS-against for a team to play 10+ games (Cardinals, and Dodgers are next).
*Among Braves with 10+ PAs against Wandy, Jack Wilson has been the most successful, hitting .308/.357/.500 with a homer. Brian McCann and pitcher Livan Hernandez are the only other Braves to take Wandy deep.

PreStros Farm Report: April 10

PreStros: April 10

Oklahoma City (5-1) 

The RedHawks combined good pitching with timely hitting to beat Nashville (MIL) 5-1.

Paul Clemens earned the win with 5 strong innings scattering 5 hits and 1 walk to allow 1 unearned run with 4 K. Mickey Storey struck out 3 in two perfect innings. Fernando Abad and Jose Valdez each struck out 1 in their 1 perfect inning each.

SS-Jed Lowrie was 1x3 with 2 RBI in his first rehab game as he works back from the DL. PH-Justin Ruggiano had a 2 RBI double and scored 1 R. C-Landon Powell was 1x1 with 2 BB and 2 R. CF-JB Shuck went 1x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 2 R.

Man of the Match: Paul Clemens

Corpus Christi (3-3) 

The Hooks tried to rally but couldn’t overcome an early outburst by Tulsa (COL) as they lost 6-3.

Henry Villar was responsible for all the runs allowed as he lasted just 3 innings giving up 9 H, including 2 HR, and 1 WP with 3 K. Arcenio Leon pitched 3 scoreless innings with 2 H, 2 BB, 1 WP, and 2 K. Jonnathan Aristil had 4 K in 2 IP with 2 H.

SS-Jonathan Villar was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 CS, and 1 error. LF-John Singleton went 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. CF-Brandon Barnes was 4x5 with a 2 run HR.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes

Lancaster (1-5) 

Lancaster took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning, but ultimately lost 7-5 to Rancho Cucamonga (LAD).

David Martinez pitched well in 6 innings, allowing 2 BB and 4 H, including a 2 run HR, with 5 K. Andrew Robinson and Brian Streilein combined to allow the 5 runs in the 8th inning.

SS-Jio Mier was 3x5 with 1 R. CF-George Springer was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI along with an OF assist. LF-Telvin Nash continued his destruction at the plate as he went 2x4 with 2 HR, 2 R, and 3 RBI. Nash has 5 HR through the JetHawks first 6 games.

Man of the Match: Telvin Nash

Lexington (1-5) 

Lexington got blown up by Hagerstown (WSH) 16-8, and the game didn’t even seem as close as the score.

Carlos Quevedo went 3 innings and gave up 8 H, 2 HR (including a grand slam), and 7 R with 6 K and 1 BB. Nathan Pettus had 4 IP and allowed 6 H, 1 HR, and 4 R with 3 K, 1 BB, and 4 WP. Scott Zuloaga pitched the final inning and gave up 5 R on 4 H, including another grand slam, while allowing 1 BB and 1 HBP.

DH-Zach Johnson was 2x5 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, and 3 RBI. 1B-Tyler Burnett went 2x5 with 1 HR, 2 R, and 2 RBI. C-Mike Kvasnicka was 2x5 with 1 R and 1 RBI but allowed 2 SB. LF-Jordan Scott was 1x2 with 3 BB, 3 R, and 1 SB.

Man of the Match: Zach Johnson

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.

Here's a ridiculously detailed scouting report of Mark Appel

The Hardball Times have an insane scouting report on potential June 1-1 Mark Appel.

Whether or not I'd pick Appel with the first choice in the 2012 MLB draft isn't an opinion I'm willing (or qualified) to form, but there are a lot of issues surrounding him that need to be examined before announcing his name. The teams picking at the top of the draft have their homework cut out for them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G5: Braves (0-4) @ Colt .45s (3-1)

Tommy Hanson (0-1, 1.80) v.s. Kyle Weiland (0-0, 0.00)

The Houston Colt 45s first took the field 50 years ago today, on April 10, 1962. The Astros paid tribute to their history by hitting the field as the Colt 45s tonight against the Braves - original hats & jerseys included. The 1962 45s beat the Cubs 11-2 behind Bobby Shantz in the first ever Major League Baseball game in Houston.

The 45s didn't have that same magic tonight however as they fell behind the Braves early and never recovered, dropping a 6-4 decision. The Braves improve to 1-4 while the Astros fall to 3-2.

*Kyle Weiland got the start for the .45s tonight and took the loss in a tough outing. His line: 5.0 IP / 8 H / 4 ER / 2 BB / 5 K. He gave up 2 homeruns in the loss.

*The bullpen was ok but not great tonight. Carpenter and Lopez each gave up a run to keep the game just out of reach at all times.

*Weiland did have some bad luck in the top of the 3rd. He got a quick 2 outs and seemed to be on cruise control before he gave up a single to Brian McCann. Dan Uggla then came up and doubled off the wall in left-center, setting up a very close play at the plate which McCann was safe on. Schafer had a bit of trouble with the bounce off the wall - had he fielded it cleanly he might have got McCann and got out of the inning with no damage done. To make things worse, Chipper Jones - back in the lineup for the first time this season - came up next and delivered a 2 run homer to right. In an inning that could have ended with the Astros still protecting a 1-0 lead, the Braves instead took a 3-1 lead, and they led for the rest of the game.

*I have been impressed with the Astros agressive baserunning so far this season, but tonight was a bit of a mixed bag. Chris Johnson did have a nice agressive run in the 2nd when he stretched a single into a double (barely). But in the bottom of the 3rd with runners on corners and none out, JD Martinez hit a bit of a screwball to 1st - Schafer was on third and should have broke for the plate on contact, but instead held up. Freeman had a bit of trouble with the ball at 1st and Schafer would have scored easily. The Astros ended up loading the bases that inning with 1 out and yet didn't push one single run across. A huge blown opportunity.

*In that same inning, Bogey had the bases loaded with 1 out and 2-1 count - where he should reasonably be expecting a fastball. He can even sell out to it and still be in good shape if he gets caught on a breaking pitch. He did get a fastball and was very late on it and fouled it off, before striking out on a terrible ball in the dirt on the next pitch. I've noticed a few times this season in obvious fastball counts where we are way behind on the pitch. In certain situations it doesn't hurt to sell out a bit and get agressive, especially if you are struggling like Bogey has been.

*How good did that Mac N' Cheese Burger on that they showed on FSN Houston look? Those of you who get to attend live games are spoiled, the food at Minute Maid Park looks awesome. On the subject of things looking good, I absolutely loved the Colt 45s jerseys tonight. Very sharp.

*Am I the only one who notices that Michael Bourn has a lot more hustle and heart while playing for the Braves? I remember him pretty much walking to 1st on groundouts, and taking some pretty careless swings. But in this series he has looked absolutely intense. A guy like that forces a lot of errors with his speed. He did try stealing twice tonight - Chris Snyder threw him out once, but he did get one SB in.

*I've noticed a lot of groundballs barely squeaking between 1st and 2nd already this year, and there was another tonight in the bottom of the 8th. Lee laid out but couldn't make contact with the ball (has he knocked one down yet on a diving attempt?) and Altuve didn't even both to try diving although it looked like he would have had a good shot at it if he had. I know it is a small sample size, but Altuve seems almost afraid to dive or jump for any balls that are just out of his reach.

*Despite his one bad play on Uggla's bounce off the wall in the 3rd, Schafer looked great tonight. He made a couple of great running grabs out near Tal's Hill, he went 3 for 5 at the plate, scored 2 runs and even stole 3 bases. You have to love his passion as well. The other night he threw his helmet on the ground after a tough strikeout, and tonight he was absolutely fired up after stealing 2nd for the first time in the bottom of the 3rd. Not to say that throwing your equipment is a good thing, but as a manger you have to love to see your players fired up and wanting to do good for the team. I felt Schafer lacked emotion last year but he has been great to watch so far this year.

*Carlos Lee has also looked great at the plate so far this year, going 3 for 3 tonight with 2 walks and driving in another couple of runs. He is hitting .389 on the young season so far. When he comes up to the plate this year, you know he is going to have a good at bat.

Turning Point:
This is a new feature that I plan to use every night now. It is basically the one play or group of plays that I feel was the biggest factor in the end result of the game. Tonight's Turning Point was Uggla's double off the wall with 2 out in the bottom of the 3rd to score McCann. Had Schafer fielded it a bit cleaner, he may have had a shot at McCann and got Weiland out of the inning with a 1-0 lead. Instead the inning continued and the Braves ended up taking a 3-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

Man of the Match:
Part of me wants to go with Schafer here on a pretty solid performance, but he did have that bobble in left and a costly baserunning error. Ultimately i'm going to stick with Carlos Lee. 3 for 3, 2 walks, 2 RBI, raising his average on the year to .389. Lee looks dangerous at the plate this year, which is very nice to see.

Goat of the Game:
Tough to have to pick a Goat tonight - it was a hard fought game by the Astros and a pretty fun one to watch. But I have to go with Kyle Weiland. He's our #5 starter and he basically pitched like a #5 starter tonight. Anytime your starter gives up 4 runs you know your offense is going to have to have a pretty solid night to pick up a W. Weiland left too many balls up in the zone, and he was too erratic. Of his 99 pitches, only 58 were strikes. He had a tough task tonight, being a #5 pitcher facing the Braves ace, but he could have been sharper.

Astros hit with a lawsuit

Dewey Powell, of Spring, was enjoying himself at a day game at Minute Maid Park on April 7, 2010 (10-4 loss to the Giants), when he slipped down a ramp. He's now suing the Astros for damages and court costs for failure to provide fans with a safe stadium environment.

Powell says on April 7, 2010, he sustained injuries when he slipped and fell down a wet ramp while walking to his seat during a Houston Astros game. According to the brief, a security guard came to his aid and apologized for staff who failed to put up a sign warning of the dangerous condition of the ramp.

A kid asked Glenn Davis for an autograph, and got From Hell to Houston

Josh Pahigian, who wrote The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip 2 sent AC a tweet last week. When he was a kid, he sent an autograph request to Glenn Davis. This is what he received:

Jed Lowrie in OKC's lineup tonight

Jed Lowrie will be making his 1st rehab start tonight against Nashville in Oklahoma City. Paul Clemens gets the start for the RedHawks.

We didn't come out here to play tiddlywinks, son

This was said by Colt .45s catcher Hal Smith after the inaugural game - an 11-2 win over the Cubs - 50 years ago today. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why "We didn't come out here to play tiddlywinks, son" isn't the 2012 slogan.

Now go out and get your appropriate hot weather juice and enjoy the game tonight.

When 'With all due respect' is fairly disrespectful

Perhaps I'm being over-sensitive. I mean, I certainly didn't expect the Astros to be 3-1. They didn't win their 3rd game until Game 11 in 2011, or Game 12 in 2010. And the Astros have a longer recent history of being flat-out ignorant than they do of being a "Good Franchise."

Public perception is what it is, and the Astros earned the joke status they have carried over into 2012, largely because of their actions from 2007-11. The Astros have become the team you measure yourself against, but not in a good way. They're the, "If we don't beat the Astros, we've got some real problems" franchise - Everybody's homecoming.

Still, Rockies and Braves fans are collectively tearing their hair out because the Astros' record is at their expense.

Mile High Sports:
Sure, the Rockies are a disappointing 1-2, having dropped their last two games to the lowly Houston Astros, but they aren’t alone when it comes to getting the season off to a slow start...

Tomahawk Take:
With all due respect to an Astros franchise devoid of talent because of bad management and horrible contracts over the past seven years, they are essentially a AAAA team in mass rebuilding mode. The only recognizable major league talent in their lineup last night were the aging, lumbering Carlos Lee, Atlanta reject Jordan Schafer and pitcher J. A. Happ. If they win more than 75 games this year they will consider it a success. Contending teams should take every series against them yet, they were the team that played competent, solid, fundamental baseball while the Braves looked like a trailer for the new Three Stooges movie.

Well, that's not very respectful, at all.

I get it, I really do. But I wonder how many wins it's going to take - if any - for the Astros to make it back in everyone else's eyes. Or if that even matters to anyone, at all.

Know Your Enemy: April 10

*6'6" 220lb RHP Tommy Hanson
*Was baseball's #1 prospect heading into the 2009 season.
*After throwing 202.2IP in 2010, only threw 130IP in 2011.
*12.5% of his fly balls went for homers.
*Had a career-high 9.83 K/9 in 2011, striking out 142 in 130IP.
*Hanson was 2-0 in 2011 against Houston, striking out 24 batters in 14IP, with a 1.29 ERA/0.64 WHIP.
*He struck out double-digit batters three times in 2011, and two of them came against the Astros: 10 on May 16 and a career-high 14 on June 12.
*In his first start of 2012, he took the hard-luck loss, going 5IP, 4H/1ER, 4K:3BB in a 1-0 defeat at New York on Opening Day. 50 of his 83 pitches went for strikes, and he got five swinging strikes.
*His velocity for his fastball was way off last week, with his fastball averaging 88.7mph, down 2.5mph off his 2011 fastball.
*Only Carlos Lee has 10+ PAs against Hanson, but has a .928 OPS in 15 PAs. Matt Downs is 2x5 with a double, homer, walk, and 2RBI (.400/.500/1.200) off Hanson in 6PAs.

*Nobody on Atlanta's roster has faced Kyle Weiland!

Stadium Journey reviews Kissimmee

Hey, over at Stadium Journey, they've added Osceola County Stadium to their list of reviews - and it got a 4.0.

PreStros Farm Report: April 9

PreStros: April 9

Oklahoma City (4-1) 

The RedHawks used just one inning to beat the Sounds 4-2 Monday night. After being no-hit through four innings, OKC scored all four runs in the 5th as they batted around in the inning.

Henry Sosa pitched well through 4 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks with 4 strikeouts and picking a runner off 1st before giving way to a quartet of OKC relievers. Not all at once, of course; that would be against the rules.

The RedHawk batters managed just 5 singles all game, but thankfully they were all bunched together. LF-Fernando Martinez was 1x3 with 2 RBI and 1 BB. C-Landon Powell was 1x2 with 1 R and 1 BB. 2B-Jimmy Paredes went 1x3 with 1R/1RBI.

Man of the Match: Henry Sosa

Corpus Christi (3-2) 

After being down 4-1 in the 6th inning, Corpus stormed back to win 7-4 on a walkoff 3R HR by Jacob Goebbert

Starter Jake Buchanan battled through 5.1 innings, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits and 1 BB with 6 K. Kevin Chapman threw 1.2 scoreless innings allowing 1 hit with 3K/1BB and went 1x1 at the plate with a single. Josh Zeid finished the game for the win with 2 no-hit innings with 3K/1BB.

LF-Austin Wates continued his assault on AA pitching as he went 3x5 with 1 R. CF-TJ Steele was 1x4 with a 2R HR and 3K. RF-Jake Goebbert went 2x5 with 2R/3RBI and 1 HR.

Man of the Match: Jake Goebbert

Lancaster (1-4) 

Lancaster got their first win of the season at Rancho Cucamonga as the shutout the Quakes 6-0.

Wes Musick pitched well through 5 scoreless innings as he gave up 4 hits and 1 BB with 6K. Pat Urckfitz, Kirk Clark, and Jorge De Leon finished out the shutout.

1B-Rafy Valenzuela was 2x5 with 1R. DH-Telvin Nash went 3x5 with 1 2B and 1R/1RBI. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 3x5 with 2R/3RBI, 1 HR, 1 SB, and 1 error.

Man of the Match: Wes Musick

Lexington (1-4) 

After battling back from an early 6-1 deficit, Lexington lost another heart-breaker 8-7 in 11 innings.

Starter Kyle Hallock lasted just .2 innings giving up 2 hits, including a Grand Slam, with 4 BB. Nicholas Tropeano came on in the 4th inning and turned in 5 strong innings as he gave up 1 run on 4 hits with 1 BB and an outstanding 10 K. Dayan Diaz struck out the side with 1 BB in his 1 IP. Luis Cruz took the loss after pitching 1.2 innings with 2 K, 3 hits, and the fateful final run.

2B-Delino DeShields went 2x5 with 2 R, 1 BB, 1 2B, and 1. SS-Alex Todd went 3x6 with 2 2B and 2R/2RBI. 1B-Zachary Johnson was 3x5 with 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Nick Tropeano

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.

What They're Saying: Game 4 vs. Braves

Here's what they're saying in Atlanta following last night's loss to Houston:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien:
It had been nearly a quarter of a century since the Braves started a season with four consecutive losses, and Monday night it was newest Braves who were largely responsible for getting them back to that place they did not want to be.

Fredi Gonzalez:
“We’re not real pretty to watch right now as a team, but we’ll get it going."

Brian McCann:
“That was a game we kind of gave away. We’ve just got to bounce back tomorrow and be ready to play…. They found the holes when they needed to. It stinks. Tomorrow’s a new day. We’ve got to get a win.”

Michael Bourn:
“They played pretty good tonight once they found that opening. They pitched OK. We didn’t take advantage of everything. But we’ll be back tomorrow, you better believe that.”

Capitol Avenue Club:
If you’re panicking now, you should have been panicking before the season started. If you thought the team was fine before the season started, you should think they’ll be fine now. If you’re legitimately angry and your life is worse because some dudes you don’t know scored fewer runs than some other dudes you don’t know, well, reevaluate some things in your life. That’s not being a sports fan, that’s being bad at life.

How Justin Maxwell scouted the Astros

Zachary Levine writes that Justin Maxwell learned about the Astros in a unique way:

Newest Astro Justin Maxwell said he learned about his team through the wonder of “MLB Extra Innings,” which happened to be having a free preview weekend. That’s the life on the waiver wire, going from New York to home and bored to Houston in less than a week and reporting for duty Monday after his quick study.

Monday, April 9, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G4: Braves (0-3) @ Astros (2-1)

Brandon Beachy (0-0, 0.00) v.s. J.A. Happ (0-0, 0.00)

Don't look now, but the Astros are 3-1! Houston beat Atlanta tonight by an 8-3 score, moving the Braves to 0-4 to start the season. While the game looked bad at the start, as Atlanta was knocking J.A. Happ around and took an early 3-0 lead, the Astros fought back and took the lead - and never looked back.

*J.A. Happ got the Win tonight with his line of 6.0 IP / 6 H / 3 ER / 1 BB / 5 K. Happ struggled for the first 3 innings and got hit around pretty good, but really turned it around after that and put in a pretty nice performance.

*Justin Maxwell made his Astros debut in a pinch hitting role in the bottom of the 8th. He was behind in the count at 1-2 when he reached out and knocked one out of the park in left for a 2 run homer.

*Jeff Luhnow looks like an absolute genius tonight. His waiver claim (Maxwell) hits a 2 run bomb in his first at bat with the Astros, and the pitcher that he cut at the end of Spring Training - Livan Hernandez - came in for the Braves and got knocked around. Hernandez gave up 4 hits and 2 earned runs in 2 innings of work.

*JD Martinez got the night off and Travis Buck took his place in left. I was slightly surprised to see Buck take Martinez' #3 spot in the batting order as well, but it's not a bad choice by any means - everyone gets to keep their spot in the lineup and Buck gets a chance to drive in some runs.

*Which is just what he did with a 2 run double in the 3rd.

*JD did come into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 6th and promptly delivered an RBI single.

*Marwin Gonzalez had his best offensive performance as an Astro. He just missed a homerun when he hit the base of the wall in right in the 4th inning. It did turn into a double and he scored right away on an RBI single by J.A. Happ - out there helping out his own cause. Gonzalez ended up 3 for 4 with 3 runs on the night.

*The Astros ended up with a total of 11 hits from 9 different batters tonight. Castro and Bogusevic were the only Astros who didn't get a basehit.

*Speaking of Castro, FSN dubbed him 'Castro the Astro' tonight - which is surprisingly simple, and I wish I had thought of it. Because I love it.

Man of the Match:
Marwin Gonzalez has been great with the glove so far, but he finally got his bat going tonight with an impressive 3 for 4 night, including scoring 3 runs. He almost had his first homerun in the 4th as well.

Goat of the Game: 
Castro the Astro is a candidate here, as he still doesn't have a hit on the season, but he did end up scoring a run tonight after he reached on a fielders choice. So i'll go with Bogusevic. For as good as the Astros have been offensively so far this year, I'm not sure how much longer we can roll with Bogey in the #5 spot. He went 0-4 tonight and is now batting only .133 for the season.

Lowrie to OKC

And so Jed Lowrie is on his way to OKC, but only for some rehab starts in advance of his projected activation from the DL on Friday.

Abad optioned to OKC

So the Astros have optioned Fernando Abad to Triple-A Oklahoma City. It's not a surprise - the Astros had too many relievers, and Abad had a bad (heh) Friday night.

As was mentioned by Subber and AstroBrit, this leaves Wesley Wright as the only lefty in the bullpen.

Crawfish Boxes, on the Brothers/Bogusevic AB

Here's some great work by the Crawfish Boxes on the crucial Brian Bogusevic vs. Rex Brothers AB from yesterday.

Fragile things are not safe in our presence

You won't believe this, but Travis Buck is taking J.D. Martinez's place in the lineup tonight against Brandon Beachy.

Alyson Footer:
Mills has stated that he wants to work in the bench guys early for a start. That is likely why Buck is playing in addition to being LH.

So it's:
1. Schafer - CF
2. Altuve - 2B
3. Buck - LF
4. Lee - 1B
5. Bogusevic - RF
6. Johnson - 3B
7. Castro - C
8. Gonzalez - SS
9. Happ - P

Righties have hit Beachy for a .238/.300/.363 line, while lefties hit him for a .241/.313/.388, an OPS difference of 37 points favoring LHBs.

Seton Hall retires Craig Biggio's number

Must be a slow news day, because here is a video of Seton Hall retiring Craig Biggio's number on Saturday.

ESPN, on #1 pick

Jason Churchill has an (Insider-Only) post up on ESPN about the 1-1 pick in the June Draft.

Money quote:
(Mark Appel) struck out just three batters in this start, and despite a fast start in this department, has fanned less than a batter per inning this season. Has Appel's lack of answers to those questions opened the door for (Byron) Buxton with the Astros? It's still too early to tell, but one has to believe the new front office in Houston is considering multiple players, and will for the coming weeks.

Know Your Enemy: April 9

RHP: Brandon Beachy
6'3" 215lbs

*Beachy was undrafted, and signed as a free agent with the Braves in 2008.
*Beachy just barely won the last spot in the rotation in Spring Training.
*In six career April games, Beachy has thrown 36.1IP, 26H/14ER, 36K:10BB.
*He has never faced the Astros, or anyone currently on the team.
*With RISP, Beachy has allowed a .215/.315/.393 line.
*In 658 plate appearances, Beachy has only allowed two homers when he's been ahead in the count.

*J.A. Happ is quite familiar with the Braves - having pitched against them seven times. In those seven games (six starts), he's 2-0 with a 2.09 ERA/1.09 WHIP. But he didn't face Atlanta in 2011.
*That said, Matt Diaz and Martin Prado own him. Diaz has a 1.455 OPS against Happ in 17 PAs; Prado a .985 OPS in 13 PAs.
*Brian McCann is 2x14, 3K:2BB against Happ.

More on this attendance thing, or lack thereof

Look, I know it was nice outside yesterday in Houston. And I also know it was Easter. But I'm still baffled by how only 14,195+ people show up for a Sunday game - the third game of the season. So let's see some things about attendance.

*Amazingly, yesterday's Astros/Rockies game was not the worst-attended game of the day in the Majors - 10,518 showed up for the Toronto @ Cleveland game (but it was 51 and windy at Whatever The Stadium Is Called). 14,738 were at the Minnesota @ Baltimore game.

*Average attendance among 14 games yesterday was 25,706.

*Average attendance in April 2011 was 25,257. Factor out Opening Day, and average April attendance in 2011 was 24,205. The 2nd/3rd games of this Rockies series averaged 19,075.

*Average Sunday attendance in 13 Sunday home games at Minute Maid Park in 2011 was 24,773 - 10,195 higher than yesterday's paid attendance.

So the Astros have a real problem. I thought attendance would be down, but not like what we saw yesterday. That said, if the Astros can continue playing hard, win more than they did last year, and run enough promotions, then things can bounce back - but the early returns do not look good.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

PreStros Farm Report: April 8

PreStros: April 8

Oklahoma City (3-1) 

Jordan Lyles outdueled top Cardinals pitching prospect Shelby Miller and Brett Wallace took out some of his frustrations against his former organization as the RedHawks beat Memphis 8-1 Sunday.

Lyles threw six strong innings scattering 7 hits and 1 walk to allow just 1 run with 5 K. He also went 1x2 at the plate with 1 RBI. Mickey Storey, Enerio Del Rosario, and Jose Valdez each pitched a scoreless inning in relief to seal the victory.

3B-Scott Moore was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R and 2 RBI. 1B-Brett Wallace was 3x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, and 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Jordan Lyles

Corpus Christi (2-2) 

The Hooks lost a back and forth game against Tulsa 9-7 to fall back to .500 on the season.

Starter Brett Oberholtzer had a rough outing as he lasted 4.1 innings giving up 8 hits and 4 walks leading to 4 runs (3 earned) with 2 K. Chris Hicks was roughed up in his 1.2 innings giving up a Grand Slam following 3 hits and 1 HBP. Erick Abreu finished up the final 3 innings giving up just a solo HR with 1 K.

LF-Austin Wates is playing out of his mind to start the season. He went 2x3 with 2 doubles, 1R/1RBI, and 2 BB. 2B-Jose Martinez went 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R and 3 RBI. CF-Brandon Barnes was 0x3 with 1 BB, 1 R, 1 SB, and 2 OF assists.

Man of the Match: Jose Martinez

Lancaster (0-4) 

Lancaster leaves High Desert still searching for their first victory after dropping the series finale 8-6.

Starter Bobby Doran threw 4 innings giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits, including 2 HR, with 3K/4BB. Alex Sogard pitched 2.2 innings and allowed 3 runs on 3 hits with 2K/1BB. Brian Steilein finished up with 1.1 IP allowing 1 hit with 2 K, though he did let one inherited runner (from Sogard) score.

The offense did their best to keep up but it ultimately wasn’t enough. CF-George Springer was 3x5 with 1 SB and 1R/1RBI. 1B-Rafy Valenzuela was 2x5 with 1 2B and 1 R. LF-Telvin Nash went 2x5 with 2 HR and 2R/3RBI. 3B-Jonathan Meyer went 1x3 with a two run HR.

Man of the Match: Telvin Nash

Lexington (1-3) 

Lexington’s defense was decidedly un-legendary as the team committed 6 errors en route to a rough walk-off 9-8 loss.

Starter Jonas Dufek lasted 4 innings giving up 6 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits with 4 BB with 2 K.

2B-Delino DeShields went 3x4 with 2R/1RBI, 1 BB, and 1 SB but had 2 errors. LF-Jordan Scott was 3x4 with 2R/1RBI, 1BB, and 3 SB. 1B-Zachary Johnson was 2x5 with 1 HR. 3B-Matt Duffy was 2x5 with 2 RBI, 1 SB, and 1 error. C-Miles Hamblin was 1x3 with 1 HR, 1 BB, and 2 R.

Man of the Match: Jordan Scott

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.