Saturday, May 12, 2012

J.A. Happ: What the hell?

(Note: The following stats have been updated to include last night's games)

So J.A. Happ looked more tonight like the J.A. Happ with whom we are more familiar. In 5IP, Happ allowed 6H/5ER, 4K:1BB, needing 95 pitches to get through 22 batters, ballooning his ERA to 5.72 with a 1.55 WHIP. It's the 3rd time in his last four starts he hasn't made it out of the 6th inning, and the third time in his last four outings that he hasn't made it over the 25 Batters Faced mark. What's going on with Happ?

He's throwing 63.8% of his pitches for strikes. By comparison, Wandy leads the way among the rotation, with 65.1%, followed by Norris (64.6%), then Happ, then Harrell (62.8%). So at least we know the rotation is throwing strikes. The NL average for starters (coming into tonight's slate of games) was 63.0% of pitches going for strikes.

Is Happ just not missing bats? After tonight's game, he's generating swinging strikes in 9.7% of his pitches. Sounds low, right? It's second among the four main starters on the Astros staff, behind Bud Norris (12%), ahead of Wandy (8.5%), way ahead of Lucas Harrell (4.5%), and even ahead of the NL starter average (8.6%).

What about BABIP (batting average on balls in play)? The season average on BABIP for NL starters is .286. After tonight's game, opponents had a .324 BABIP against Happ. Given that Happ is walking 9.7% of the batters he has faced in 2012, that "bad luck" is going to catch up with him.

A couple of things stand out:

RHBs vs. Happ: .299/.378/.577 - .956 OPS, .315 BABIP, 11.7% walk rate
RHBs vs. NL LHPs: .255/.320/.405 - .725 OPS, .291 BABIP, 8.4% walk rate

Happ, after a first-pitch ball (45.6% of PAs): .288/.403/.593 - .996 OPS, .279 BABIP, 16.4% walk rate
NL LHPs, after a first-pitch ball (45.6% of PAs): .265/.375/.424 - .799 OPS, .300 BABIP, 14.6% walk rate

Happ, after a first-pitch strike (54.4%): .280/.322/.512 - .834 OPS, .377 BABIP, 5.7% walk rate
NL LHPs, after a first-pitch strike (54.4%): .219/.263/.332 - .595 OPS, .290 BABIP, 5.1% walk rate

We could go around and around on Happ's stats, and it seems to me that, while he's generating swinging strikes, hitters are just tagging him up, particularly on his fastball. Both homers hit off Happ tonight came on his fastball (according to MLB Gameday), and prior to that FanGraphs had him at a -6.9 wFB (a positive number is the amount of runs the pitcher saved with their fastball over the course of 100 fastballs thrown. In this case, Happ's fastball has cost him seven runs - and that's before the two homers tonight). -6.9 wFB is the 6th-worst among pitchers in both leagues.

It seems simplistic to say, but too many hitters are getting on base, in part because his fastball isn't very effective. At all. When Happ broke out in 2009 and finished 2nd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, a couple of notes stand out: a +10.2 wFB, 3.0 BB/9, 2.13 K:BB, and a .266 BABIP. While strikeouts are up, so are walks, the BABIP is waaaay up, and he was much more effective with his fastball (which averaged 89.7mph, whereas it's now about 90.5mph).

Where do the Astros go from here? His FIP and xFIP show that he should have a better ERA than is indicated - his 5.72 ERA comes with a 4.96 FIP, and a 3.98 xFIP. But that's a complete reversal from Happ at his most effective, in 2009-10. Happ's FIP out-performed his ERA by 0.66 in 2011, and by 0.60 coming into tonight (which is sure to increase). Happ theoretically is better than he's been pitching, but that has been the case for 35 starts now. At what point does one say he's just not the pitcher he was thought to be?

Back in July 2010 - before he was traded to the Astros - our old friends Crashburn Alley had this to say about the then-Philly pitcher:
He will never be the same pitcher he was (in 2009). He is not a maven of control, he is not able to miss bats on a frequent basis, and he has no special batted ball abilities. He is simply mundane. Happ pitches like a 4.50 ERA pitcher and that is what should be expected. His 2009 was a complete and utter fluke.

Anyone waiting on Happ to repeat his 2009 season - 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA/1.23 WHIP - can probably go ahead and stop holding their breath.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G33: Astros (15-17) @ Pirates (14-18)

JA Happ (2-2, 5.24) vs Charlie Morton (1-3, 4.61)

The Astros offense continued to struggle and wasted chance after chance, and the Pirates seemed to capitalize on every opportunity as they beat the Astros 5-2 tonight. The division rivals now have identical 15-18 records.

*JA Happ was not sharp against a weak offensive team. His line: 5.0 IP / 6 H / 5 ER / 1 BB / 4 K. Cruz, Abad, Carpenter and Lyon each saw work as well, and threw a combined 4.0 scoreless innings. The "Regulators" (the name the Astros pen has been labelled with lately on Twitter and by Bill Brown & JD tonight) continue to be a very pleasant surprise. Cruz did struggle, but the runs he gave up were tacked on to Happ's line.


*JD Martinez and Chris Johnson both got the night off, with Justin Maxwell & Matt Downs starting in their spots respectively. JD has been getting a ton of time off during his slump lately and one has to wonder if a trip to the minors won't be in his future at some point to work things out.

*Maxwell did drive in one of the Astros two runs tonight on a Fielders Choice groundout. It was part of a disappointing 6th inning where the Astros loaded the bases with none out and only came away with one run.

*These are the types of opportunities the Astros were capitalizing on when they were scoring a lot of runs a couple of weeks ago.

*A bit of bad luck with the umpires again tonight. On a 2-2 pitch to Tabata in the 5th, FSN clearly showed on pitch track that Happ had thrown strike 3 to retire him - but Joyce ruled it a ball. Tabata would homer to shallow right on an afterthought of a swing on his very next pitch.
*The Astros still aren't walking as much as they used to, but they did draw 4 BB to 5 K tonight - a very respectable result. They did not steal a base again however, and have been fairly conservative on the basepaths lately.

*With that said, Jordan Schafer did make a very nice aggressive decision to stretch a single into a close double on his hit that drove in Snyder for the Astros first run. Schafer also made a spectacular grab on a high extension in center field tonight.

Turning Point:

The bottom of the 6th. The Astros had just narrowed the deficit to 3-2 in the top half and had some momentum....and it all went out the window when the Pirates scored twice more to extend their lead to 5-2.

Man of the Match:

Going with Jordan Schafer. 2 for 4 with an RBI, a fantastic catch and great heads up baserunning to put himself in position to be driven in (although Lowrie couldn't cash him in).

Goat of the Game:

JA Happ was very hittable again, and gave up a pair of long balls. Each time the Astros scored to make a game of it, Happ let the Pirates extend their lead the next inning.

Know Your Enemy: May 12

The Astros, coming off the 1-0 win last night, will face...

*28-year old, 6'5" 230lb, RHP Charlie Morton, who is coming in with a 1-3 record, 4.61 ERA/1.46 WHIP, 4.49 FIP, 3.54 xFIP.
*Morton was the 3rd Round pick by the Atlanta Braves in the 2002 MLB Draft, the same round as the Astros picked Rory Shortell, who never made it above High-A Salem, and was out of the Astros system before the 2008 season.
*Morton's career -2.9 WAR is the worst mark of any 2002 3rd Rounder (who made it to the majors, which means he's better than the 22 guys who didn't make it). Curtis Granderson (Rd3 Pk8) has a 29.9 career WAR.
*Morton was traded with Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke to the Pirates for Nate McLouth on June 3, 2009.
*He's been more homer happy in 2012 than he was in 2011. Last season, Morton surrendered just six homers in 171.2IP for a 0.3 HR/9 rate (lowest in the NL). So far in 27.1IP in 2012, Morton has given up four jacks. 21.1% of the flyballs he has given up have left the yard. Three of those four homers have come on the first pitch of the AB.
*After a strong three starts to the season (2.65 ERA/1.24 WHIP), Morton has allowed 15H/9ER, 10K:4BB, 3HR in his last 10.1IP.
*Righties are hitting .340/.379/.623 against Morton this season, for a 1.002 OPS; while lefties have compiled a .657 OPS.
*When the batter gets ahead on Morton, they have a .286/.447/.500 line.
*Morton is 2-5 for his career against the Astros in eight starts, with a 6.59 ERA/1.74 WHIP. The Astros' career .858 OPS against him is the 2nd-highest in the NL. It's been three starts since he's made it out of the 6th against Houston.
*That said, current Astros have a .593 OPS against Morton. Jose Altuve is 1x3 with a homer, Carlos Lee is 8x23.

*The Astros will trot out J.A. Happ tonight for his seventh start of the season.
*Happ currently has a 5.24 ERA, but a 4.64 FIP, and a 3.97 xFIP - largely a result of a .330 BABIP.
*He has 34 strikeouts in 34.1IP this season, his 8.91 K/9 would be the highest of his career.
*In his last three starts, Happ has allowed 19H/12ER, 18K:9BB in 16.1IP.
*#3 hitters are 7x13 with 5BB against Happ, for a .538/.677/1.077 line; and 3-6 hitters are hitting .344/.444/.623 with 9K:11BB.
*Current Pirates have a combined .720 OPS against Happ; with Andrew McCutchen leading the way with 8x22, 3HR, 4K:2BB, and a 1.258 OPS. Jose Tabata is 1x13, and Garrett Jones is 1x15.

PreStros Farm Report: May 11

PreStros: May 11

Oklahoma City (18-17) 


*Notes: Henry Sosa was placed on the temporary inactive list, retroactive to May 9. Landon Powell is leading the PCL in catcher caught stealing percentage at 57.1% (8 of 14).

Corpus Christi (14-20) 

The Hooks showed a little fight for the first time in a while, scoring twice in the eighth to pull out a 4-2 victory over Frisco (TEX).

Brett Oberholtzer went 7 innings, allowing just 1 R on 5 H and 2 BB with 5 K. Kevin Chapman threw 1 inning and gave up 1 R on 1 H. Jason Stoffel closed out the game with 1 scoreless inning with 1 BB and 2 K.

2B-Jose Martinez was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 2B, and 1 R. C-Jair Fernandez went 1x2 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Brett Oberholtzer

Lancaster (17-19) 

The JetHawks had a good day, winning both ends of their double header against Lake Elsinore (SD). George Springer hit one home run in the first game, leading Lancaster to a 7-2 win, and three in the second game to help get the 5-3 victory.

Game 1
Tyson Perez threw 5 innings, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Pat Urckfitz went the final 2 innings, giving up 2 H and 1 BB with 2 K.

George Springer was 2x4 with 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, and 1 SB. RF-Domingo Santana went 1x2 with 1 BB, 1 3B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. 1B-Erik Castro was 2x2 with 1 BB and 1 RBI. 3B-Jonathan Meyer went 2x3 with 2 2B and 1 R. C-Ben Heath went 2x3 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: George Springer

Game 2
Jose Trinidad went 5 innings, allowing 1 unearned run on 5 H and 2 BB with 3 K. Brad Dydalewicz threw .2 innings and gave up 2 R (1 earned) on 2 H. Brian Streilein went the final 1.1 innings, allowing 1 H with 2 K.

CF-George Springer went 3x3 with 3 HR and 4 RBI. DH-Ben Heath was 2x3. 1B-Telvin Nash was 2x2 with 1 2B and 1 HR.

Man of the Match: George Springer

Lexington (17-17) 

A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth gave Lexington the win against Hagerstown (WSH) 4-3.

Nick Tropeano went 6.2 innings and gave up 3 R on 4 H, 1 BB, and 1 HBP with 6 K. Carlos Quevedo threw the final 2.1 innings, allowing 1 H with 1 K.

2B-Delino DeShields was 1x3 with 2 BB, 2 SB, and 1 R. RF-Drew Muren was 2x4 with 1 R. LF-Brandon Meredith went 2x4 with 1 RBI and 1 SB. C-Roberto Pena was 2x4 with 1 2B and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Roberto Pena

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. Opening Day June 2nd.

George Springer hit four homers last night

Anyone who says "He pulled a Hamilton!" gets immediately evicted from Astros County, and their citizenship revoked.

But still, and Trostel will get into the bigger picture on this later on, George Springer hit four homers last night - one in his final AB of the 1st game of a double-header, and then in his first three ABs of the second game.

"To be completely honest, I was trying to hit the ball hard and get on base for the 3-4-5 guys. I just ended up hitting home runs."

Keith Bodie got his 1000th win, and Jonathan Villar hurt his hamstring

Congratulations to Hooks manager Keith Bodie who, with a win last night over Frisco, got his 1000th career managerial victory.

Within the linked piece, we find that SS Jonathan Villar left last night's game in the 4th inning with a hamstring injury, but his removal from the game was precautionary.

Schafer: We believe

Featured in this article is not only quite possibly the worst picture of Brad Mills, ever:

But also a quote from Jordan Schafer, on the difference between the 2nd half of 2011 and the first 20% of 2012:
"When I came here last year we were in a downward spiral, a little bit. Going into spring training and playing good baseball and then starting the season and competing and being in every game just kind of proved not only to everybody else, but to ourselves, that we belong and we can play with anybody. It's been fun to play so far."

Friday, May 11, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G32: Astros (14-17) @ Pirates (14-17)

Bud Norris (2-1, 4.58) vs James McDonald (2-1, 2.70)

Bud Norris was terrific and the Astros scored the only run of the game on a double play, allowing the 'Stros to sneak away from game one of their weekend series with the Pirates with a 1-0 win. The Astros improve to 15-17 while the Pirates fall to 14-18.

*Bud Norris had a fantastic game. It was against a weaker offense, but he still showed great control and command in picking up his third win of the year tonight. His line: 6.0 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 8 K. Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez each pitched a scoreless inning and picked up a hold, and Brett Myers locked down the 9th for his 9th save in 9 chances. He has a 0.77 ERA this year.


*Jose Altuve was finally rewarded for his early season success at the plate with a game batting from the 3 hole tonight. Unfortunately he went 0 for 3, but did draw a walk and still has a very good .373 OBP on the year.

*The Astros struck out 8 times tonight (Schafer x 3, Lowrie, Lee, Maxwell, Norris) and walked only twice (Altuve and Castro).

*The Astros now have only two batters hitting over .300 on the season - and one is a surprise. Altuve at .325 and Chris Johnson at .304. Jed Lowrie dipped just below .300 with his 1 for 4 night tonight and sits at .299.

*The individual OBP, however, are still very good. Of the 8 starters tonight (not going to include Norris), 7 have OBP over .300. The lowest (after tonights game) are Jason Castro at .284, followed by Justin Maxwell at .325. The highest is Jed Lowrie at .382 followed closely by Altuve at .373.

*Lowrie had a double tonight, the only extra base hit of the Astros 4 hits on the night. They have been hitting a lot of singles lately and are going to need to rack up more extra bases again to keep the offense rolling.

*Brad Mills had his first ejection of the year in the 8th inning. He was tossed by none other than the infamous Jim Joyce of blown perfect game fame.

Turning Point:

Justin Maxwell grounded into a double play in the top of the 2nd. Brian Bogusevic scored on the play, the only run that would be scored in the entire game.

Man of the Match:

Bud Norris was terrific and was easily the Man of the Match tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Jordan Schafer went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts at the top of the order. The leadoff man has to do a better job of putting the ball in play at least.

Know Your Enemy: May 11

The Astros begin a three-game set against the Pirates in Pittsburgh tonight! In 2011, the Astros were 7-11 against the Pirates - the first time since 2007 they've had a losing record against the Pirates - and were 3-6 at PNC Park. Since 2009 the Astros are 28-20 against Pittsburgh, but 9-12 at PNC Park.

The Pirates will send 6'4" 205lb 27-year old RHP James McDonald to the mound.

*McDonald was drafted in the 11th Round of the 2002 draft by the Dodgers, the same round the Astros selected Jason Reuss, an outfielder out of the University of Nevada-Reno.
*He missed all of the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to injury, and was called up for his major-league debut on September 17, 2008 against the Pirates, throwing a scoreless inning in relief.
*At the 2010 trade deadline, McDonald was traded with Andrew Lambo from the Dodgers to the Pirates for Octavio Dotel. In his debut for the Pirates, he set a then-career-high with 8Ks against the Rockies, and threw two consecutive shutouts on September 17 and 13, 2010 - his 20 straight scoreless innings were the longest by a Pirates pitcher since Zach Duke threw 22 straight scoreless innings in 2005.
*McDonald's cousins are Red Sox OF Darnell McDonald and Kansas City OF Donzell McDonald.
*In six starts in 2012, McDonald is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA/1.09 WHIP.
*After starting the season with 6K:6BB through his first three starts, he has 25K:7BB in his last three starts, generating 40 swinging strikes.
*In three home starts, he's allowing a 1.86 ERA/.093 WHIP, with 18K:7BB, and one homer.
*In 17 instances of hitters going after his first pitch, they only have one hit - a homer. When McDonald gets ahead in the count, he's holding opponents to an .057/.057/.057 line (2x35, 0XBH).
*The Astros are going to need to jump on McDonald early. In the first inning, he's allowing a 1.102 OPS, followed by .411, .195, .656, .188 OPS in the following four innings, respectively.
*McDonald is 2-1 in six appearances (5 starts) against the Astros, with a 3.10 ERA/1.38 WHIP. He has never given up a homer to anyone on the Astros.
*In 58 PAs against the Astros, opponents (pitchers included) are hitting .269/.321/.385, with Carlos Lee and Jordan Schafer each getting three hits. Schafer leads the way with an .844 OPS among players with more than 5PAs against McDonald.

*The Astros are 5-1 in games Bud Norris starts in 2012.
*Norris is 2-1 on the season, with a 4.58 ERA/1.39 WHIP. In his last two starts, however, Norris has a 2.13 ERA/1.18 ERA.
*Since giving up four extra-base hits on April 24 at Milwaukee, Norris has given up one - a homer - in those two starts.
*Bud Norris' OPS-against on the road, 2012: .900. (.536 at home).
*The 1st time through the order, Norris has allowed a .419 OPS. The 2nd time through, though, is .903.
*Norris is 3-4 lifetime in eight starts against the Pirates, with a 4.04 ERA/1.45 WHIP, allowing 7HR, but his 3.80 K:BB ratio v. Pittsburgh is the highest among any team he's faced 2+ times.
*Current Pirates have a .731 OPS against Norris. Michael McKenry has a 1.222 OPS, and Neil Walker has a 1.135 OPS.

PreStros Farm Report: May 10

PreStros: May 10

Oklahoma City (18-17) 

The RedHawks came away with a rare one run victory against Las Vegas (TOR), beating them 1-0. Former Astro Tim Redding was the starting pitcher for the 51s.

Jordan Lyles went the first 6.2 innings of the shutout, allowing 8 H and 1 BB with 6 K. Xavier Cedeno continued the shutout with 1.2 innings, giving up 1 BB with 1 K. Jose Valdez finished out the game with .2 innings with 1 BB and 1 K.

2B-Brian Bixler went 2x4. 3B-Brett Wallace was 1x3 with 1 HR. OKC didn’t have a hit after the third inning.

Man of the Match: Jordan Lyles

*Notes: The RedHawks are second in the PCL with eight one-run losses this season.

Corpus Christi (13-20) 

Corpus continues to struggle, dropping last night’s game against Frisco (TEX) 10-2. They’ve now lost 10 of their last 11 games.

Jose Cisnero threw 79 pitches in just 3.1 innings and gave up 3 R on 6 H and 2 BB with 2 K. Arcenio Leon went 1.2 innings, giving up 2 R on 4 H with 1 K. Alex Sogard was charged with 3 R in 1 inning with 3 H and 3 BB. Erick Abreu went the final 3 innings and gave up 2 R on 4 H with 3 K.

DH-Austin Wates was 2x4. 2B-Jose Martinez went 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 HR.

Man of the Match: Jose Martinez

Lancaster (15-19) 

After keeping the game close most of the way, a three run ninth by Lake Elsinore (SD) put the game out of reach as the JetHawks lost 5-1.

Bobby Doran threw 5 innings and gave up 2 R on 7H and 1 BB with 5 K. Andrew Robinson went 3 scoreless innings, allowing 1 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Kirk Clark pitched the final inning and gave up 3 R (2 earned) on 2 H and 1 BB with 2 K.

3B-Ben Orloff was 2x3. CF-George Springer went 1x3 with 1 BB and 1 3B. 2B-Kike Hernandez was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Enrique Hernandez

Lexington (16-17) 

The Legends used a four run outburst in the seventh inning to beat Hagerstown (WSH) 6-3.

Jonas Dufek went 5.2 innings, allowing 3 R on 7 H, 3 BB, and 1 HBP with 3 K. Murilo Gouvea gave 2.1 scoreless innings with 5 K. Dayan Diaz earned his 4th save with a scoreless 9th, giving up 1 BB with 2 K. Diaz has an outstanding 0.81 ERA and 0.90 WHIP through 22.1 innings this season with 25 strikeouts.

1B-Zach Johnson was 2x3 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. RF-Drew Muren was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 R. DH-John Hinson went 2x4 with 1 R and 1 RBI.

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. Opening Day June 2nd.

Just in case you were wondering, Rob Dibble is full of crap

So Hardball Talk linked to a little thing about Rob Dibble saying he sort of liked Cole Hamels hitting Bryce Harper. And then Dibble said he did the same thing to Jeff Bagwell back in the day.

Well, The Common Man beat us to the punch, and found that, no, Dibble never hit Jeff Bagwell. Instead, Bagwell went 3x8 in his career against Rob Dibble with three strikeouts and a walk. Via TCM (and Baseball-Ref), Jose Rijo was the only Red to hit Jeff Bagwell in 1991, and that was on September 20 when Bagwell led off the 4th inning. Rijo also did it on the first pitch of the AB. Was that intentional? I don't know, but let's ask Jose Rijo instead of Rob Dibble.

Craig Biggio, on the Hall of Fame

Craig Biggio talked to KHOU's Butch Alsandor about the possibility of going into the Hall of Fame next season, and going in with Bagwell:

San Francisco Chronicle, on Mark Appel

The San Francisco Chronicle has a profile on Mark Appel, including how he went from SP3 in high school to the potential 1-1 next month.

And, if you're feeling froggy, you can read AC's interview with Mark Appel here.

Today in lazy journalism

Fox Sports does a game preview, presumably of every game. In the preview for tonight's G32 against the Pirates, we read the following:

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't given James McDonald much help this season. He may not need a whole lot as the Pirates open this three-game series with the slumping Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

Yes, the Astros have lost three of their last four games, but are 8-5 in their last 13 games.

Also, the game is at PNC Park.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Baseball America projects Mark Appel as 1-1

Baseball America's Jim Callis posted his mock draft today, and had this to say about where the Astros may be leaning, one month out from the June draft:

Houston is focusing on Buxton, Zunino and the three best college pitchers (Stanford's Mark Appel, Louisiana State's Kevin Gausman and San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer). Scouting director Bobby Heck has taken an up-the-middle position player with his top pick in each of his four drafts, and he and his staff are believed to favor Buxton, a five-tool center fielder. Rumors persist that the Astros' higher-ups—new owner Jim Crane and new general manager Jeff Luhnow—prefer an arm who could help soon and fit at the front of their rotation.

Still, they project Appel as the 1-1 pick.

Nice feature on Nick Tropeano

Hey, here's a nice little piece on Legends' pitcher Nick Tropeano, the 2011 5th Round pick who has been named the South Atlantic League's Pitcher of the Week twice in four weeks.

"Everything is really working, and I'm throwing all of my pitches for strikes. This past offseason I got into a good workout regimen, which has increased my velocity a little bit. Last year I was 89-91 [mph] with my fastball, and this year I'm 92-94. My fastball command has been good, and all of my other pitches have been effective, even in the later innings."

Livan came to Houston thinking he'd be SP4

Fox Sports South has an article up about Livan Hernandez, and his time with the Astros...

Hernandez said he had signed with the Astros in the offseason with the understanding that he would be their No. 4 starter. He struggled in two of his five spring training starts for the Astros, who released him with a 1-2 record and 5.63 ERA. Instead of waiting around for a team to give him another starting shot, Hernandez took the Braves’ offer.

Yes, he struggled in 40% of his starts. But perhaps this has something to do with it.

Astros fans dress like Fidel Castro, get kicked out, Miami as a city applauds

There are a few "Vias" here, but the Ft. Lauderdale-based Sun-Sentinel has a story referring to a Yardbarker post where some fans were shown on television in Fidel Castro garb (click either of the links for an image). Then the Astros kicked them out of Minute Maid Park.

It was only a matter of time before some imbeciles decided it was appropriate to wear a costume of this dictator to a baseball game. Glad to know the Astros handled this with class.

UPDATE: The Fidelians apparently were not kicked out of MMP, just their seats. Waiting on video.

PreStros Farm Report: May 9

PreStros: May 9

Oklahoma City (17-17) 

The RedHawks went into the ninth inning with a one run lead, but gave up a run in the ninth and a run in the tenth to lose 2-1 to Las Vegas (TOR).

Dallas Keuchel continued his season-long performance as an out machine as he threw 7.1 shutout innings, allowing just 4 H with 5 K and 10 groundouts. Xavier Cedeno gave up the tying run (unearned) in 1.1 innings with 1 H and 2 K. Jose Valdez got the loss with 1 R on 1 H and 1 BB in 1 IP.

RF-Fernando Martinez went 1x3 with 1 BB and 1 HR.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel

*Notes: Yesterday’s loss was the seventh straight for OKC. Dallas Keuchel has thrown at least six innings in every start this season. Keuchel was the Astros AAA Pitcher of the Month for April.

Corpus Christi (13-19) 


Lancaster (15-18) 

A four run seventh inning by Bakersfield (CIN) led to last night’s Lancaster loss 7-4.

David Martinez went 6.2 innings and was tagged with 6 R on 8 H and 1 HBP with 6 K. Jose Trinidad gave up 1 BB to the only batter he faced and was charged with 1 unearned run. Jorge De Leon threw 2.1 innings, giving up 1 H and 1 BB with 1 K.

SS-Ben Orloff went 2x4 with 1 BB and 1 R. 1B-Rafy Valenzuela was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 R. CF-George Springer was 3x4 with 1 BB, 1 HR, and 2 RBI. LF-Telvin Nash went 2x5 with 1 2B and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: George Springer

Lexington (15-17) 


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. Opening Day June 2nd.

Thursday morning miscellany

In Brian McTaggart's notebook, we find that:

*J.D. Martinez is going to sit for a few days.
*Jordan Lyles may be making another spot start in next Tuesday's game in Philadelphia.
*Kyle Weiland likely won't be back until the end of July.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch caught up with Austin Wates

Austin Wates' sort-of-hometown newspaper has a nice profile, checking in after his ridiculous tag-team catch with Brandon Barnes.

"I knew it was a nice catch. I didn't know it was going to get national attention."

In the piece he talks about the brutal bus trips, and how he reads Paolo Coelho. Consider the Man Crush complete.

Ozzie would have chased Wilton Lopez's ass all the way to Puerto Rico

So when Wilton Lopez made the Lo Viste sign at the Marlins dugout after hitting Hanley Ramirez, Ozzie Guillen - of course - had some things to say.

"Very mature. He's lucky I wasn't Hanley. I would have chased his [rear] all the way to Puerto Rico."

Which is interesting, because Wilton Lopez is from Leon, Nicaragua.

UPDATE: Zachary Levine beat me to the joke.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G31: Astros v. Marlins

I don't know about y'all, but I'm getting pretty sick and freaking tired of losing extra-inning games to the Marlins.

*Since the beginning of the 2011 season, the Astros are 5-16 in extra-inning games. And the last time the Astros lost three extra-inning games in a season to one opponent, was 2007, when they went 0-3 in extras against Pittsburgh.

*The Marlins scored in the top of the 1st when a leadoff walk came back to bite Lucas Harrell on a Jed Lowrie error that scored Jose Reyes. Harrell would go on to walk three batters in the inning - the first time that had happened since Lucas Harrell's major-league debut, on July 30, 2010, when Harrell walked three A's in the 2nd inning.

*The Astros tied it up in the bottom half of the inning, with Jordan Schafer doubling to lead off the inning, then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a throwing error by catcher John Buck. Schafer was 4x5 with two doubles, accounting for half of the Astros' hits, and raising his OPS by 61 points in one night. Prior to his two doubles, Schafer only had three extra-base hits on the season. But the four hits were not a career high. On June 16, 2011, Schafer went 5x6 in a 10-inning game for the Braves against the Mets. It's his 3rd 4+ hit game of his career.

*The Astros took the lead in the bottom of the 2nd on a Chris Johnson homer to the Crawford Boxes. Okay, in 22 April games, Chris Johnson was hitting .279/.311/.372. In seven May games, Johnson is hitting .346/.393/.808, with four homers. Johnson also walked twice in the game, the first time in his career that's ever happened.

*In the top of the 4th, Giancarlo Stanton led off the inning with a single, Emilio Bonifacio singled to put him on 2nd, John Buck singled to score Stanton, and Reyes scored Bonifacio for the 3-2 Marlins lead. In six innings against Harrell, the lead-off hitter got on base twice, and scored runs in both of those instances.

*From the 5th-9th innings, Josh Johnson and Edward Mujica mowed down eleven straight batters before Carlos Lee - out of nowhere - tripled on a soft hit to right field with one out in the 9th inning. He needed six breathing treatments* when he returned to the dugout, the most breathing treatments since he last tripled on July 6, 2011**.

*Travis Buck struck out swinging as the next batter up, and Chris Johnson drew a walk. Johnson has drawn five walks now this season, and two of them have been with two outs in the 9th inning (last: April 28 at Cincinnati, walked by Aroldis Chapman). 18 of Johnson's 36 career walks (not a typo) have come in the 7th inning or later.

*And then Brian Bogusevic came up and did what he does, providing the game-tying hit with a 1-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. It was just his 2nd hit this season (19 PAs) with a 1-2 count.

*The two teams traded chances in the 10th, with the Marlins putting Hanley Ramirez on 2nd with no outs (thanks to another Jed Lowrie error), but Myers got the next three batters to end the threat. And Jordan Schafer was caught stealing for the fourth time this season, tying a career high, 29 games into the season.

*Both teams also got the leadoff runner on base in the 11th, and did nothing with it. So it went to the 12th, where the Marlins struck. With David Carpenter pitching, Logan Morrison singled to leadoff the inning, Giancarlo Stanton walked. Greg Dobbs grounded into a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners, and Emilio Bonifacio struck out swinging on four pitches. With two outs, Carpenter walked John Buck to load the bases, and Omar F. Infante singled in Morrison and Dobbs to make it 5-3. Carpenter has walked seven batters in 7.1IP at Minute Maid Park. He also has pitched in two extra-inning games (2.2IP), and has allowed 6H/3ER, 3K:6BB.

*And the Astros went quietly into the night, going 3-up, 3-down with J.A. Happ striking out looking to end the game. Wait, what? Yes. J.A. Happ struck out looking to make the final out of the game. What the hell? Oh yeah, Carlos Lee was so winded after running his 270 feet in the 9th that Marwin Gonzalez came in to pinch-run for him, because they weren't sure if Lee would be able to make it that final 90 feet. Gonzalez did, and he was out of the game. Mills had to use Matt Downs, Justin Maxwell, and J.D. Martinez off the bench, so the only person available was J.A. Happ. We won't pick nits about which pitcher would have been a better choice in that spot, but it sucks that they had to burn Gonzalez.

*Man of the Match: Jordan Schafer. Huge, much needed night. Thought about going with Wilton Lopez, who made the Lo Viste sign towards the Marlins dugout, and really pissed everybody off. And anytime the Marlins are pissed off, that's fine with me.

*Goat of the Game: David Carpenter.

*Turning Point: Obviously the top of the 12th, when the Marlins got two runs, but when Carpenter walked John Buck with two outs to prolong the inning, it allowed Omar Infante to get his two-run single.

* = Unverified/False
** = Also unverified and/or false

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Know Your Enemy: May 9

The Astros wrap up their nine-game homestand tonight against...

*28-year old, 6'7" 250lb RHP Josh Johnson.
*As a high-schooler in Oklahoma, he helped Jenks HS win two state championships.
*He was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2002 draft by the Marlins, 18 picks ahead of the Astros, who took Mark McLemore.
*Johnson broke out in 2006, joining the rotation in May and posting an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA - falling five innings short of qualifying for the NL ERA title, where he would have finished behind Roy Oswalt's 2.98 ERA.
*Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, and returned eleven months later.
*On May 29, 2010, Johnson held the Phillies to 7H/1R (0ER), 6K:1BB in 7IP. This is notable, as the Phillies' Roy Halladay made the start, and posted a line of 9IP, 0H/0ER, 11K:0BB for the perfect game.
*This will be Johnson's 7th start of the season. And in 31.1IP, he has allowed 47H/23ER, 26K:12BB for a 6.61 ERA/1.88 WHIP.
*2012 is the second time in his career - and the first since the 2007 TJ season - that Johnson has been 0-3 to start the year.
*In his last two starts (vs. Arizona, @ San Diego), he has combined for 8IP, 16H/11ER, 9K:5BB.
*Johnson has allowed eight extra-base hits (7 doubles, 1 triple), but no homers this year.
*Marlins catcher John Buck blames Johnson's struggles in 2012 on the "sharpness of his pitches."
*Johnson is 0-3 in his career (4 appearances, 3 starts) against the Astros. In 17IP, he's allowed 20H/11ER, 13K:10BB. The Astros, Giants, and Cubs are the only NL teams Johnson has never defeated. The three homers he has allowed at Minute Maid tie him with Wrigley for the away stadiums in which he has given up the most jacks.
*Current Astros have only faced Johnson a total of 18 times (15 if you don't take pitcher PAs into it). carlos Lee is the only current Astro to have hit a homer off Johnson. Chris Snyder, who will be catching Lucas Harrell tonight, is 1x5 against Johnson.

*The Astros send Lucas Harrell to the mound tonight, who is coming off a Win against St. Louis on Friday night, when he allowed 7H/3ER, 3K:2BB in 5.1IP - needing 105 pitches to get it.
*This will be Harrell's third start at Minute Maid Park this season. In two starts in Houston this season, he has allowed a .583 OPS, whereas he has allowed an .873 OPS in four away starts.
*In his last two starts against the Reds and Cardinals, Harrell has walked a total of three batters, equal to or less than the walks allowed in each of three successive starts from April 13-23.
*The Astros are 2-4 in Harrell's starts this season.
*On April 13 at Miami, Harrell allowed 7H/4ER, 2K:4BB in 4IP, needing 85 pitches (51 strikes) to get through 12 outs.
*Current Marlins have a .438/.550/.500 line against Harrell from 2010-12.
*When the batter gets ahead of Harrell, they have a .368/.529/.684 line. When he's ahead, or the count is even, it's .578 and .563, respectively.

PreStros Farm Report: May 8

PreStros: May 8

Oklahoma City (17-16) 

After a shaky first two innings, Jarred Cosart was able to get things under control and didn’t allow a run in his final four innings. The damage was done, though, and the RedHawks lost 4-1 to Las Vegas (TOR).

Cosart went 6 innings and gave up 4 R on 10 H and 2 BB with 5 K. Seven of Cosart’s ten hits allowed, and all four runs, were in the first two innings. Adalberto Flores went 2 scoreless innings with 1 H and 1 K. Juan Abreu wrapped up the final inning with 1 K.

CF-Justin Ruggiano was 1x4 with 1 2B, 1 SB, and 1 RBI. DH-Mike Hessman was 2x3 with 1 BB.

Man of the Match: Justin Ruggiano

*Notes: Aneury Rodriguez was called up to Houston for Tuesday night’s start and sent back down immediately following the game. Rhiner Cruz has completed his rehab assignment and took Rodriguez’ spot on the roster in Houston. Jonnathan Aristil and Jarred Cosart were promoted from Corpus. Justin Ruggiano’s hit ran his hit streak to 11 games, which is the longest streak for OKC this season. OKC catchers have caught 48.6% of attempted base stealers this season. The RedHawks have lost seven one run games this season.

Corpus Christi (13-19) 

The Hooks unleashed all the runs they had been saving up over the prior three games to whoop San Antonio (SD) 17-3. Every starter had at least one hit and either scored or knocked somebody in, including the pitcher.

Ross Seaton went 7 innings, allowing just 1 R on 4 H and 2 HBP with 2 K. He also went 1x4 at the plate with 1 R and 2 RBI. Alex Sogard pitched 1 inning and gave up 2 unearned runs on 3 H and 1 BB. Josh Zeid threw a perfect 9th with 1 K.

LF-Austin Wates was 3x5 with 1 BB, 1 3B, and 3 R. RF-Jake Goebbert was 3x5 with 1 BB, 1 2B, 3 R, and 2 RBI. 2B-Jose Martinez went 2x6 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 3 RBI. 1B-Jon Singleton was 1x3 with 3 BB, 1 HR, and 4 R. CF-Brandon Barnes was 2x2 with 4 BB, 3 R, and 1 RBI. C-Ryan McCurdy went 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Ross Seaton/Everybody

Lancaster (15-17) 

After matching goose eggs for the first six innings, Lancaster lost a heartbreaker in the ninth inning to Bakersfield (CIN) 3-2.

Ruben Alaniz went a strong 8 innings, allowing 2 R on 7 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Pat Urckfitz took the loss with 1 inning, giving up the game winning run on 1 H, a solo HR, with 2 K.

2B-Enrique Hernandez went 1x4 with 1 2B and 2 RBI. LF-Adam Bailey was 0x1 with 2 BB and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Ruben Alaniz

Lexington (15-17) 

Lexington won a tough pitcher’s duel 2-1 against Asheville .

Luis Cruz had his 3rd straight good start, this time going this time throwing 6 innings and allowing 1 unearned run on 4 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Carlos Quevedo went 2 scoreless innings, giving up 1 H and 2 BB with 1 K. Jason Chowning closed out the game with 1 inning, allowing 1 H with 1 K for his 5th save.

3B-John Hinson was 2x4 with 1 R. C-Roberto Pena went 2x4.

Man of the Match: Luis Cruz

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. Opening Day June 2nd.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G30: Astros v. Marlins

Things were not looking good, no they weren't. Anibal Sanchez was doing what Anibal Sanchez does, apparently. The first time through the order, Sanchez held the Astros to 0H/0BB, 4K, two groundouts, two flyouts, and a bloop single to right courtesy of Aneury Rodriguez. The second time through the order, allowed two singles - one of them a pinch-hit single to Marwin Gonzalez.

It was that pinch-hit single to open the 6th that started the turn-around of this game. With Gonzalez on first, Altuve reached on an infield single, Carlos Lee walked, and with two outs, Gonzalez and Altuve scored on Omar Infante's throwing error, tying the game at 2-2.

Justin Maxwell singled and Jordan Schafer walked in the 7th, but Altuve lined out to end the threat. Randy Choate came in to effectively face Jed Lowrie in the 8th, and Ryan Webb got Carlos Lee to ground out to 3rd for the 2nd out. Travis Buck singled to right, and Brad Mills called upon Brian Bogusevic to pinch-hit for Wilton Lopez, who doubled to left, scoring Buck for the go-ahead run.

Aneury Rodriguez was quite impressive - only needing 78 pitches to get through six innings, and throwing first-pitch strikes to 14 of 22 batters faced. He allowed two earned runs, both on solo shots by Omar Infante and John Buck.

*In his last four appearances (3.1IP), Brandon Lyon has allowed 1H/0ER, 8K:0BB. Yeah, he's struck out eight of the last 11 batters he's faced.

*Jordan Schafer was 0x3 with a walk, and after an eight-game hit streak from April 22-30, Schafer is hitless in five May games, going 0x15 with 4BB.

*J.D. Martinez is having one hell of a time. From April 28 through last night's game, Martinez is 1x28, with 5K:4BB, and a J.R. Towlesian .043 BABIP.

*Heading into the final game of the nine-game homestand, the Astros have a chance to go 7-2. Even at 6-3, it would be the most successful 9+ game homestand since going 6-4 from Sept 9-19, 2010.

*Man of the Match: Brian Bogusevic, for providing the two-out, go-ahead RBI double; though Aneury Rodriguez deserves a tip of the cap.

*Goat of the Game: J.D. Martinez and Jordan Schafer combined for an 0x6, 5K:1BB night.

*Point At Which The Game Turned Favorable: Bogusevic's RBI double in the 8th.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Paul Gallant got cussed out

So in yesterday's press conference, Ozzie Guillen said some Adult Words to SportsRadio 610's Paul Gallant, who was asking him about Fidel Castro.


Know Your Enemy: May 8

So the Astros try to prevent a three-game skid tonight when they take on Anibal Sanchez and the Miami Marlins. After having scored 31 runs in their five-game win streak, the Astros have managed one run and eleven hits in their last two games. The Marlins are 7-1 in their last eight games against the Astros.

*In his last start against the Astros, on April 15, Anibal Sanchez threw 6IP, 5H/3R (2ER), 7K:3BB, getting a no-decision in the 2nd 11-inning win over Houston that series.
*This will be Sanchez' fourth start since that game against the Astros. In his last three starts, Sanchez has thrown 21IP, 15H/5ER, 27K:5BB.
*Sanchez is getting a career-high 48.1% groundball rate, with 38.3% flyballs, and a career-low 13.6% line-drive rate.
*65.2% of his pitches (489) have been strikes (319), and he's throwing a first-pitch strike 63% of the time.
*His fastball has lost a little bit in 2012. Where it was 91.7mph in 2011, it has since dropped to 90.4mph in 2012.
*Sanchez has only given up seven extra-base hits in 2012, but five of them came with the batter ahead in the count. And two of them were doubles by Jason Castro and J.D. Martinez

*The Astros will send out Aneury Rodriguez for his first appearance of the season, and his first start since allowing 6H/6ER, 4K:1BB, 2HR in 4IP against the Braves on June 10.
*This is an extremely limited sample size, but current Marlins are 0x5 against The Aneury-sm, in seven plate appearances. Jose Reyes is 0x3 with a walk. And he hit Gaby Sanchez in his only plate appearance.

Lunchtime Link-Dump

A couple of things for you to check out while you're eating lunch:

Dave Cameron compares Jose Altuve to Starlin Castro.

Baseball America takes a quick look at Telvin Nash.

PreStros Farm Report: May 7

PreStros: May 7

Oklahoma City (17-15) 

The good news is that OKC didn’t suffer another walk-off loss. The bad news is they still lost, dropping the final game of the series 8-4, completing the sweep by Omaha (KC).

Paul Clemens threw batting practice for 3.1 innings, allowing 8 R on 10 H and 2 BB with 1 K. Sergio Perez went 2.2 scoreless innings and gave up just 1 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Xavier Cedeno had a scoreless inning with 2 BB. Rhiner Cruz continued his rehab assignment with a scoreless inning with 1 H and 1 K. We’re now a month and a half into the season and Xavier Cedeno is still sporting a 0.00 ERA through 9.2 innings.

CF-Justin Ruggiano was 3x4 with 1 BB, 2 2B, 1 R, and 2 RBI. DH-Mike Hessman went 1x3 with 1 BB and 1 HR.

Man of the Match: Justin Ruggiano

Corpus Christi (12-19) 

The Hooks dropped their ninth straight, including three straight shutouts, as the fell 1-0 to San Antonio (SD).

Wes Musick turned in a strong performance in his Corpus debut, throwing 7 innings and giving up just 1 R on 6 H, 2 BB, and 1 HBP with 7 K. Jason Stoffel finished up with 2 scoreless innings with 2 H and 3 K.

2B-Jose Martinez was 3x4. CF-Brandon Barnes went 1x3 with 1 BB and 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Wes Musick

Lancaster (15-16) 

The JetHawks battled back from a nine run deficit in the fourth inning but fell short as they lost 9-6 to Bakersfield (CIN).

Zach Grimmett was hit hard in his 3 innings, giving up 7 R on 7 H and 1 HBP with 2 K. Andrew Robinson went 4 innings and allowed 2 R on 4 H with 3 K. Brian Steilein threw the final 2 innings, allowing 1 H with 1 K.

1B-Rafy Valenzuela went 1x3 with 2 BB, 1 3B, and 3 R. LF-Telvin Nash was 3x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, and 2 RBI. C-Rene Garcia was 3x4.

Man of the Match: Rafael Valenzuela

Lexington (14-17) 

Both teams were fighting to scratch across runs, but the Legends just fell short against Asheville (COL) 4-3.

Mike Foltynewicz continues to dominate the Sally League, this time throwing 6 innings and allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 4 BB with 4 K. Dayan Diaz went the final 2 innings, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 2 H and 1 BB with 4 K.

2B-Delino DeShields went 2x4 with 2 RBI. CF-Jordan Scott was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 2B, and 1 RBI. DH-John Hinson went 2x3 with 1 2B, 2 SB, and 3 R.

Man of the Match: John Hinson

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. Opening Day June 2nd.

Biggio does a solid

Listen, I'll be honest with you. If you're feeling emotional, do not read this story.

Chris Snyder is Lucas Harrell's catcher

So it doesn't look as though Lucas Harrell's job is in jeopardy, as Brad Mills named Chris Snyder as his personal catcher.

"We have two very good catchers, and people have to understand that. Our pitching staff understands that. They are two guys that work really hard and look at video and scouting reports and match things up real well. It's not an instance where one guy is way over another guy."

With Snyder, Harrell has allowed a .264/.289/.431 line, with 8K:3BB. With Castro, that's a .276/.371/.466 line, with 7K:10BB.

Snyder is having a brutal year offensively, though. After 13 games (48PAs), Snyder is hitting .143/.250/.214, and has one extra-base hit. Castro is hitting .242/.299/.306 with two extra-base hits. But the crazy thing is Castro's .605 OPS would be the best OPS by an Astros catcher since Pudge had a .662 OPS in 93 games in 2009.

Corpus seemingly can't go a season without a ridiculous losing streak

Trostel will get into this later on, I'm sure, but it's apparently written into Corpus' contract with the Texas League that they'll endure a ridiculous losing streak at some point during the season.

Last night, the Hooks lost 1-0 for their third straight shutout, and it's now 28 innings since the Hooks last scored a run.

In 2011, the Hooks went from May 5-14 (9 games) without a win, and then had a 12-game losing streak in August. And of course, Corpus had a 16-game losing streak in June-July 2010.

Hooks manager Keith Bodie:
"We've just managed to have everybody going in the same direction at the same time. Nobody's stepping up to the situation. We just need that one big hit that can get us over the hump. We just have not been able to get that."

Monday, May 7, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G29: Marlins (14-14) @ Astros (13-15)

Carlos Zambrano (0-2, 2.53) v.s. Wandy Rodriguez (3-2, 1.64)

Wandy Rodriguez hadn't given up a single homerun in his first 6 starts of the year, but he gave up 3 tonight in a 4-0 loss to the Marlins. The Astros offense remained stagnant and the Astros dropped their second straight after their 5 game winning streak came to an end. The Astros fall back to 13-16 while the Marlins improve to 15-14.

*Wandy Rodriguez wasn't at his best tonight, giving up his first 3 homeruns of the season and taking the Loss to fall to 3-3 on the year. Brad Mills gave him a chance to finish the game, but he surrendered a homerun and a double in the 9th without recording an out. His line: 8.0 IP / 6 H / 4 ER / 2 BB / 2 K. Brandon Lyon relieved Wandy in the 9th and struck out the side in a scoreless effort.


*The Astros only collected 3 hits tonight - all singles, and only 2 by starters (Altuve and Buck). The third was by Brian Bogusevic in a pinch hitting role in the 9th.

*The Astros struck out 9 times tonight and only drew one walk (and the 3 hits). Hard to score when you don't get on base.

*JD Martinez returned to the lineup and batted third....and went 0 for 3 with a strikeout to continue his awful slump. His last hit came on May 1 against the Mets. He is 1 for 18 in May.

*Jordan Schafer went 0 for 3 tonight as well, and was hit in the knee by Zambrano. One thing that did concern me was that Schafer completely let up on a groundball out early in the game. I get that it was routine, but lets see some hustle out there. The entire team really looked like they didn't care tonight, and yesterdays effort was the same thing.

*Perhaps I put too much pressure on Schafer and the Astros. I asked him for a homerun and an Astros win on Twitter today for my birthday. I'm sure the pressure to not let me down was a contributing factor in the loss today.

*A bit of a weird night tonight with some odd plays. There was a strikeout/catcher interference double play called on the Astros (when Altuve stole second but Marlins catcher John Buck hit JD Martinez with his arm, so Altuve was called out anyway)....there was a Carlos Lee at bat where he fouled one ball into the Astros radio booth and broke an Astros logo light, and very nearly took out Jed Lowrie in the on deck circle.....and there was even a bunt attempt by the Marlins Emilio Bonifacio which he laid down but then ran into, causing him to be called out for interference. Very interesting night. 

Turning Point:

Giancarlo Stanton came up to the plate with a runner on in a scoreless game in the top of the 4th and made it 2-0 with one swing of the bat. It was the only runs the Marlins would need.

Man of the Match:

Yuck. The Astros only recorded 3 hits tonight, all singles. Brandon Lyon threw an excellent inning of relief, but i'm going with Travis Buck here. He's earning more playing time the way he has been playing. He finished 1 for 2 with a walk, and very easily could have been 2 for 2 if not for a great diving grab by Gaby Sanchez in the 8th.

Goat of the Game:

The Astros offense. Wandy had held the Marlins to 3 runs through the first 8 innings, which should realistically give them a fighting chance. But Zambrano was just too much for them tonight. Chris Johnson was probably the worst with his 0 for 3 night and 2 K's, but really nobody was very good tonight at the plate (other than Buck).

The stuff of Legends

The Lexington Legends recently passed through my area to play a three game series against the Greenville Drive, where they won two of three to take the series. During their stay in Greenville I was able to learn a bit more about several members of the team.

After hitting just .207/.294/.287 in 49 games last year, 2011 27th round pick Alex Todd has turned things around so far this season. The Lexington shortstop is hitting .321/.404/.432 and has drastically improved his strikeout and walk rates while also improving his defense. He was nice enough to answer a quick question prior to Friday's game.

I was also able to get several minutes with Lexington hitting coach Josh Bonifay and we talked about a handful of interesting players.

Mike Kvasnicka was a first round pick in 2010 as a third baseman, despite being generally regarded as a better catching prospect. After hitting .260/.328/.368 last season while playing a terrible third base, Astros new management decided to move Kvasnicka back behind the plate. So far he's made the transition defensively, but his offense is a different story. His line so far is .143/.200/.274.

Matt Duffy was a 20th round pick in 2011 and, due to the perceived lack of third base prospects in the Astros system, a lot of people were looking for him to breakout this year. After a promising .298/.370/.417 last year, he's working to fulfill those wishes as he's hitting .328/.378/.509 this year for Lexington. He's also doubled his home runs in half the at bats.

Delino DeShields Jr. is in a similar situation as Kvasnicka. As a first round pick in 2010, DeShields has been tasked with a position change as he transitions from center field to second base. Last season was his first at the new position and he struggled to a line of .220/.305/.322. This season he's looked like a different player, especially on defense, as his offense has improved more than his .255/.362/.355 line would indicate. His walk and strikeout rates have both improved and he's a perfect 18 for 18 in stolen base attempts so far.

Zach Johnson exploded onto the scene early this year, but has cooled off as late. The 2011 15th round pick hit .262/.339/.369 last season, showing little power for a first baseman. This season we've seen a dramatic increase in extra base hits as well as a much improved walk rate, leading to a line of .268/.364/.491 with as many extra base hits in just 112 at bats as he had last season in 271 at bats.

Drew Muren is an interesting player. The 2011 20th round pick is a lanky 6'6" 195 pound center fielder with a cannon for an arm. While his .270/.327/.393 line may not look that intriguing his size alone makes him stand out.

The last player we talked about was 2010 14th round pick Jordan Scott. The left fielder was named the Greeneville Astros MVP last year and hit .301/.372/.370 across three levels last season. He started hot this season, but has cooled considerably to a line of .253/.374/.273. He's obviously still getting on base, but needs to get back to making better contact and could stand to hit for a little more power, as well.

McTaggart's minor league updates

Brian McTaggart of just posted his Minor League Notebook, and most of it consists of a decent update on Mike Foltynewicz.

What jumped out at me, though, was the news that Jack Armstrong underwent Tommy John surgery two weeks ago. I'm not sure how I missed news that big, but apparently Armstrong will miss the entire 2012 season.

Luhnow talks trades

Ken Rosenthal talked to Jeff Luhnow about whether the 13-15 Astros are going to be selling, and when...

“I think late this summer there will be demand for some of our players. We’ll have those conversations. But right now, we’re not actively pushing anything."

Of course there are other quotes you can read for yourself over at Rosenthal's piece. But we talked about this on Houston Gameday yesterday - at what point should the Astros look at selling? What if they're five games back in mid-July? What if they're ten games back? Do you trade Wandy - the clear SP1 of the staff - if the Astros are within striking distance? Or do you listen to all offers, and see what comes up? How close is too close?

PreStros Farm Report: May 6

PreStros: May 6

Oklahoma City (17-14) 

The RedHawks lost their second straight game on a walk-off, losing 10-7 to Omaha (KC).

Henry Sosa went 5 innings and gave up 7 runs (5 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB with 1 K. Adalberto Flores threw two scoreless innings with 1 BB and 2 K to allow OKC to get back into the game. Juan Abreu gave up the walk-off HR after going 1.2 innings. He allowed 3 R on 2 H and 1 BB with 2 K.

2B-Brian Bixler was 0x2 with 3 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. DH-Scott Moore went 1x4 with 1 BB and 1 HR. CF-Justin Ruggiano was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 HR and 2 RBI. RF-Fernando Martinez was 2x5 with 1 R. 1B-Mike Hessman was 2x4 with 1 R. 3B-Brett Wallace went 3x5 with 1 2B, 2 R, and 2 RBI with 1 error, just his 2nd of the season.

Man of the Match: Brett Wallace

Corpus Christi (12-18) 

The Hooks losing skid reached eight games after getting shutout by San Antonio (SD) 10-0. This Corpus team is shaping up to be very streaky; they’ve also had a losing streak of five games and a winning streak of five games this season.

Jake Buchanan had a rough day, lasting just 4 innings, plus four batters in the fifth, and allowing 7 R on 9 H, including 3 HR, 1 HBP, and 1 BB with 3 K. Jonnathan Aristil pitched 1 inning without getting charged with a run, with 1 K. Josh Zeid allowed 2 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 1 K in 1 IP. Arcenio Leon went 2 innings and gave up 1 R on 2 H and 2 BB with 4 K. Kevin Chapman pitched the final inning, allowing 2 BB with 1 K

2B-Jose Martinez was 2x4. SS-Jonathan Villar went 2x4.

Man of the Match: Jose Martinez

Lancaster (15-15) 

Lancaster finished the sweep of Stockton (OAK) by winning 6-2 Sunday.

Newly promoted Tyson Perez shut down the Ports with 6 innings of 1 R ball, allowing just 2 H, including a solo HR, with 4 K. Gabriel Garcia went .2 innings and allowed 1 R on 3 H. Jose Trinidad went 1.1 scoreless innings with 1 K. Kirk Clark finished out the game with 1 scoreless inning with 1 K.

SS-Ben Orloff went 3x5 with 3 RBI and 1 SB. CF-George Springer was 2x5. RF-Domingo Santana was 2x5 with 1 HR. LF-Adam Bailey went 2x5 with  1 2B, 2 R, and 1 SB. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with 2 R, 1 SB, and 1 error.

Man of the Match: Tyson Perez

Lexington (14-16) 

Luis Ordosgiotti’s Lexington debut was a rough one as the Legends fell to Asheville (COL) 8-5.

Ordosgiotti went just 3.2 innings and got tagged for 7 runs (6 earned) on 11 H with 5 K. Nathan Pettus threw 3.1 innings allowing just 1 solo HR and 1 BB with 3 K. Euris Quezada pitched a scoreless inning to finish up.

2B-John Hinson was 2x5 with 1 HR and 1 error. 3B-Matt Duffy was 3x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. SS-Alex Todd was 2x4 with 1 BB. DH-Mike Kvasnicka went 2x5 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Mike Kvasnicka

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. Opening Day June 2nd.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G28: Cardinals (16-10) @ Astros (13-14)

Adam Wainwright (1-3, 6.75) v.s. JA Happ (2-1, 4.60)

The Astros winning streak came crashing to an end with an 8-1 loss to the Cardinals today. The Cardinals jumped on Astros starter JA Happ early and often, scoring off of him in each of the first 4 innings, and the offense couldn't get anything going all day. The Astros did however take 2 of 3 from the Cardinals to win the series, which we will certainly take. The 'Stros now sit at 13-15 before hosting the Marlins tomorrow, while the Cardinals improve to 17-10.

*JA Happ was far too hittable and far too wild right from the words "Play Ball" today and took the loss. His line was an unimpressive 5.0 IP / 6 H / 6 R / 5 ER / 4 BB / 3 K. He gave up 2 homeruns on the day as well. The Astros bullpen came into the game ranked 3rd in the NL with a 2.85 ERA, but Del Rosario and Abad each gave up a run in an inning of work today. Brandon Lyon threw a scoreless inning to wrap up the day.


*Jordan Schafer was back in the lineup leading off today, but he went 0 for 4 with a strikeout to end his consecutive games reaching base mark at 25. He will end up tied for the franchise record.

*Jose Altuve got back on track with a 2 for 4 day from the #2 spot.

*JD Martinez got his second day off in the past 7 days during his slump. Travis Buck started for him in left field, and Mills (oddly) put Bogusevic batting 3rd. Bogusevic went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. I would love to hear why Mills thought Bogusevic should be batting in the 3 hole today, when he has done nothing all season to warrant it. Bogey is now hitting .212/.330/.329 on the year. Buck was hitting out of the 6 spot and went 1 for 3 with a walk. His line in limited work this year is a pretty solid .297/.366/.459.

*While i'm second guessing Mills, the past few days he has been juggling the lineup and batting order non-stop. Aren't these the kind of changes you are going to want to make when you are slumping and trying to shake things up? Not when you are in the middle of a 5 game winning streak. When things are going good....leave them alone!

*Lowrie, Castro and CJ each picked up a single on the day. Carlos Lee went 2 for 4 and scored the Astros only run of the day on a Wild Pitch. Lowrie now has a 9 game hitting streak.

Turning Point:

The Allen Craig first inning homerun put the Cardinals ahead right off the bat, and the Astros could never recover.

Man of the Match:

Yuck. Hard to pick one out of today's all around stinker. I'll give it to Carlos Lee for his 2 for 4 day at the plate and scoring the Astros only run all day.

Goat of the Game:

JA Happ was not at all sharp today, struggling with his command and digging his offense a huge hole that they would never climb out of.