Saturday, June 23, 2012

Updated June 2012 Draft Math

So the Draft page has been updated, and here's what we find...

The total bonus pool for the first eleven picks is $11,177,700. With the Rio Ruiz signing - if Keith Law's $1.85m report is correct - brings the total bonuses to $10,235,200.

Aha! But don't forget the three College World Series players who have yet to sign:
2-61 Nolan Fontana
7-219 Preston Tucker
8-249 Tyler Heineman

The amount of bonuses remaining comes to $1,135,900. But, if you add up the "confirmed" bonuses already handed out to the recommended outstanding bonuses, the Astros have overshot their budget by $193,400. A couple of things, though:

1. Preston Tucker ($151,400) is a senior, and could follow Joe Bircher's lead and sign for far under slot.
2. Remember, the Astros can go over their bonus pool by 5% ($558,885), and while they'd have to pay a tax, they would not forfeit any future draft picks.
3. Seeing as how 26th Round pick C.J. Hinojosa is tweeting a photo countdown of how many days before he shows up in Austin to enroll at Texas, you can probably go ahead and write him off.
4. We're going to have to see what tricky math Jeff Luhnow can run to have enough to make a run at Hunter Virant.

Rio Ruiz to sign

MLB Trade Rumors and Keith Law are reporting that 3B Rio Ruiz will sign with Houston for an expected signing bonus of 1.85M. The bonus comes in at approximately 1.49M over slot value, and is the equivalent bonus of the 20th overall pick.

The Astros went approximately 2.7M over slot to sign supplemental 1st round choice Lance McCullers and Ruiz.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G70 - Astros v. Indians

Yes, and, well, the Astros lost 2-0 to the Indians in the first game of this inter-league series.

*After starting the season 18-14 at home, they've lost three of their last four games at home.

*In their last three games, the Astros have scored three runs. Even "better," they've allowed six runs in their last three games - and are 0-3.

*The last time they had scored one run in three games was August 12-14, 2011 - when the Astros scored one run in between two shutouts against the Dodgers.

*In their last 25 games, the Astros are 6-19.

*Ubaldo Jimenez became the 13th starting pitcher to post a Game Score of 70+. And hey, what do you know, the Astros struck out 12 times! That's 14 times in 19 June games that the Astros have struck out 10+ times.

*Lucas Harrell threw 7IP, 2H/1ER, 9K:3BB, for a 75 Game Score - 2nd-highest by the Astros this season. Harrell has the 2nd and 3rd-highest Game Scores of the year by the team.

*The two hits Harrell allowed are a career-best, as are the 9Ks.

*Altuve hit in the lead-off position for the 21st time this season, and though he went 0x4, his OPS in lead-off is still .847 (it's .757 in the #2-hole). That said, Altuve has one hit in his last 13 ABs.

*Altuve has gone hit-less in just 19 of his starts this season. When he doesn't get a hit, the Astros are 6-13.

*The top five in the lineup (Altuve, Schafer, Lowrie, Lee, Martinez) went for a combined 0x17 with 10K:3BB.

*Chris Johnson was 2x4 - both of them singles. It's been since June 7 - 46PAs - since Johnson got an extra-base hit. It's been 140PAs since he hit a homer.

*I've had about enough of this, so...

*Man of the Match: Lucas Harrell

*Goat of the Game: Everybody else.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Are the Astros really screwed?

24-51. That's the Astros' record in Interleague Play since the beginning of the 2008 season, heading into this weekend's series with the Indians. It's not good - of course it's not. It's a .320 Win%, which would be the approximate equivalent of a 52-110 season (only four games worse than the 2011 Astros). So can we guess that the Astros will be about that bad, beginning next season when they play in an inferior, abandoned, God-forsaken league?

One of the things I was curious about was the unfamiliarity factor. Are the Astros just unfamiliar with AL pitchers, and that's why they can't hit? (The unspoken side of this is all the American League teams who are 51-24 against the Astros since the beginning of 2008).

In 2012, the Astros have faced SPs 2+ times on thirteen occasions. Let's take a look, shall we?

Let's look at Average Game Score by all opposing pitchers first, eh? 53.6. Let's just slide right by the fact that opposing pitchers are averaging a smidge better than a quality start every outing against the Astros this season. In 44 out of 69 games this season, the opposing SP has posted a 50+ Game Score.

Average Game Score, the first time the Astros faced them in 2012: 52

And the second time they faced that Starting Pitcher: 49.7

Mike Leake had the biggest swing in Game Score differential with a +39 in the 2nd start (69) to the 1st start (30). Chad Billingsley had a +32, and Carlos Zambrano had a +31. In all, of the 13 pitchers, eight of them - for whatever reason - posted a lower Game Score in their 2nd time facing the Astros than they did the first time. The leaders in minus territory? Randy Wolf (-36), Juan Nicasio (-30), Jeremy Guthrie (-21).

American League SPs have an average Game Score of 60.25, by the way. And Colby Lewis is the only AL pitcher the Astros have seen more than once this year, and he posted a 75 and 76, respectively.

This is not a very in-depth look at whether the Astros will post a record similar to the .320 Win% they have over the past five seasons, but - for one thing - it's hard to lose 110 games - and this 2012 team (whom, it seems, will look familiar in 2013) has fared better the 2nd time around.

Now, feel free to pick this apart.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oberholtzer to OKC

Corpus Christi pitcher Brett Oberholtzer has been promoted to Oklahoma City, according to Brian McTaggart.

In his last four starts, the LHP has thrown 25.2IP (with a six start streak of 6+ IP), with 21H/4ER, 25K:7BB.

Greg Rajan says that Bobby Doran will be coming up from Lancaster to fill Oberholtzer's rotation spot.

Jeff Pearlman: Luhnow has "no remote clue"

Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman has a post up on SI regarding Roger Clemens and the Astros honoring the 10-year Personal Services contract they both signed.

We should take a moment to note that Luhnow has a duel degree in business and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Northwestern. He is an intelligent person with, no doubt, good intentions and a big heart and...

No remote clue.


Read the whole thing for yourself, and then remember that Pearlman wrote a book about Roger Clemens where the description of the book is as follows:
In The Rocket That Fell to Earth, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Pearlman reconstructs the pitcher's life—from his Ohio childhood to the mounds of Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium—to reveal a flawed and troubled man whose rage for baseball immortality took him to superhuman heights before he crashed down to earth.

So we can guess that Pearlman isn't going to agree with any thoughts regarding the Astros - or anybody else - employing Clemens further.

Of course, Pearlman claimed that no team had a wider connection to PEDs than the Rangers and Astros. And also said that "if Bagwell didn't use (steroids), then the world is flat."

So there you have it.

Blue Jays don't want to take on any salary

Danny Knobler just tweeted:

While Blue Jays have been out looking for pitching, they've been telling teams they can't take on any money. Hard to find it that way.

We're linking to this because the Blue Jays have been rumored to be interested in Wandy for about a year now. And if they don't want to take on any salary, that means a whole hell of a lot of players would be on the table. But yeah, it would be hard to find decent pitching for no coin.

Jon Singleton named to Futures Squad

Corpus Christi's Jon Singleton has been named to the US squad for the Futures Game during this year's All-Star Break.

If he's anything like the last Astro to be named to a Futures team - Jose Altuve - he'll be in Houston by September.

Hurricane Ike or Hurricane Bud?

It's our first long-read of the season. It's such a long-read, we dedicated a whole page to it. Check it out: Hurricane Ike, or Hurricane Bud?

You can also check out this one, from January, on the events surrounding Carlos Lee's $100m contract.

PreStros Farm Report: June 20


PreStros: June 20


Oklahoma City (42-30) 

OKC lost a tough one to Nashville (MIL) 3-2 on a walk-off home run.

Brian Bass threw 5 innings, allowing 2 R on 3 H and 2 BB with 2 K. Hector Ambriz pitched 1.1 innings and allowed 3 H with 2 K. Juan Abreu went .2 innings with 1 BB. Adalberto Flores took the loss with 1 inning pitched and 1 R on 2 H, including the winning HR.

RF-JB Shuck was 1x4 with 1 3B and 2 RBI. CF-Brad Snyder went 1x3 with 1 2B.

Man of the Match: JB Shuck

*Notes: Wes Musick has been placed on the disabled list. Hector Ambriz was signed and added to the OKC roster by Houston. He began the season with in the Indians organization. Brad Snyder has a 17 game hit streak.

Corpus Christi (38-33) 

The Hooks used 12 innings to beat San Antonio (SD) 2-1.

Ross Seaton threw 8 strong innings, allowing 1 R on 4 H with 3 K. Kevin Chapman pitched the next 2 innings and gave up 2 H with 3 K. Erick Abreu went 1 inning with 1 H, 1 BB, and 2 K. Jason Stoffel took the final inning with 1 H and 1 K.

CF-Drew Muren was 2x4 with 1 R. P-Ross Seaton went 1x3 with 1 2B and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match:  Ross Seaton

*Notes: Ross Seaton was named as a replacement for the Texas League All-Star team. The Hooks are 4-1 in extra inning games and have outscored their opponents in extra innings 21-2.

Lancaster (37-33) 

OFF – All-Star break

*Notes: George Springer went 0x3 with one walk, one stolen base, and one RBI in the California League vs Carolina League All-Star Game. Bobby Doran took the loss after pitching one inning and giving up three runs on three hits and one walk with one strikeout.

Lexington (39-30) 

OFF – All-Star break

*Notes: Matt Duffy finished second in the Sally League Home Run Derby, then went 2x2 in the All-Star Game. Mike Foltynewicz started for the South Division All-Stars and went two scoreless innings with no hits and four strikeouts.

Tri-City (1-2) 

The ValleyCats lost their home opener to Vermont (OAK) 7-4.

Juri Perez threw 4 innings and gave up 2 unearned runs on 2 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Travis Ballew threw 2 scoreless innings with 1 H, 1 BB, and 2 K. Jeremiah Meiners couldn’t get an out and was charged with 3 R (1 earned) on 2 H and 2 BB. Jamaine Cotton went 2 innings with 1 H and 1 K. Brad Propst took the ninth and gave up 2 R on 3 H.

CF-Andrew Aplin was 2x4 with 1 BB and 2 RBI. 2B-Austin Elkins was 2x4 with 1 RBI and 1 SB. C-Jobduan Morales was 3x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, and 3 R.

Man of the Match: Jobduan Morales

*Notes: Justin Gominsky has been sent to Tri-City from Lexington.


Greeneville (1-1) 

The Astros used a five run eighth inning to beat Johnson City (STL) 9-4.

Richard Rodriguez lasted 5 innings and gave up 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H with 8 K. Zach Dando threw .2 innings and gave up 2 unearned runs with 1 H, 1 BB, and 1 K. Scott Zuloaga couldn’t get an out and had 1 BB. Jordan Jankowski threw 1.1 innings with 2 H and 2 K. Mitchell Lambson went the final 2 innings with 1 H and 5 K.

CF-D’Andre Toney was 1x5 with 2 R and 1 RBI. 2B-Jean Batista was 2x5 with 1 HR and 2 RBI. DH-Marc Wik went 2x4 with 1 BB, 2 R, and 1 RBI. RF-Ariel Ovando was 2x5 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 2 RBI. SS-James Howick was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Richard Rodriguez

*Notes: Players of note on the Greeneville opening day roster include: Tanner Bushue, Adrian Houser, Ariel Ovando, and D’Andre Toney. Also, ten players selected in the 2012 draft are slated to begin their careers with the G-Stros.


GCL Astros (2-1) 

The Astros used five pitchers to shutout the Marlins 4-0.

Chia-Jen Lo, making his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, pitched the first inning uneventfully. Edison Frias went the next 4.1 innings, allowing 6 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Ricardo Batista went 1 inning with 2 BB. Erick Gonzalez threw 1.2 innings. Ambiorix De Leon pitched the final inning with 1 K.

CF-Brett Phillips was 0x2 with 2 BB, 2 SB, and 1 R. DH-Teoscar Hernandez was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. 2B-Juan Santana was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: All five pitchers.

*Notes: 2012 1st round pick Carlos Correa is hitting just .167 and is obviously overmatched; time to cut him and move on. (Just seeing if anybody actually reads these)


DSL Astros (6-10) 

Despite seven errors by the opposition leading to eight unearned runs, the Astros lost 10-9 in 12 innings to the Mariners.

Edwin Villarroel threw 4.1 innings and gave up 4 R on 3 H and 5 BB. Javier Saucedo went the next 3.2 innings and gave up 5 R on 5 H and 3 BB with 1 K. Yonquelys Martinez finished out the last 3.2 innings and allowed 1 R on 3 H and 3 BB with 4 K.

1B/LF-Mesac Laguna was 3x5 with 3 R and 1 SB. LF-Frederick Serrano was 2x5 with 1 2B and 1 RBI. 2B-Yoel Silfa was 2x5 with 1 R and 2 RBI. C-Marlon Avea went 2x3 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. SS-Arturo Michelena was 2x6 with 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Mesac Laguna

Teams starting to sniff on Wandy

FoxSports says that at least five teams are in on Wandy Rodriguez: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Giants, and Dodgers.

All the aforementioned AL East teams have shown interest in Wandy in the past year:
Boston seemed to be interested last December. The Yankees were interested last August. And the Blue Jays were among the more heavily-rumored teams in on Wandy at the 2011 trade deadline.

Take it for what you will, but Houston 5A Baseball has a source who says:
#Astros in serious negotiation for W. Rodriguez. Could be dealt by end of weekend

Maxwell out with sprained ankle

Justin Maxwell will have an MRI today on his left ankle, which apparently has been bothering him for some time:

"Every time I hit, I kind of roll my ankle. I've done every avenue of treatment that I could so I could play. When it was bothering me [Wednesday] on defense, I knew something was wrong. That's why I said something to Millsie."

Arbitrary endpoints and all, but from June 1 through the first game of the Royals series, Maxwell hit .267/.353/.644, with 5HR - but also 20K in 51PAs. In the last two games of the Royals series, Maxwell was 0x6 with 4Ks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20th Draft Update

Hey, here's a couple of interesting links for you:

4-129 Rio Ruiz is still negotiating with the Astros, and the LA Times says it "could go either way." Rudy (Rio's father) Ruiz:
We're trying to make it work."

The Astros and NC State got into a sort of bidding war over 6th Rounder Brett Phillips. After the Astros selected Phillips, NC State came back to him with a new scholarship plan. Ultimately, the Astros offered Phillips what NC State couldn't: Straight cash, homey.
"From the people that I know who went to that college, one of their sells to me was the college experience. And when I think of that I think of partying and drinking and that’s not me. I’m going to play baseball full time, no distractions. Plus, I am getting paid, I can’t beat that.”

Crane/Clemens

Perhaps there will be a marriage announcement in the New York Times, when (and it certainly sounds like When and not If) Clemens rejoins the Astros organization in some capacity.

Crane:
"We'll see what he wants to do. It's really up to Roger. Once he gets rested and gets this behind him, we'll sit down and talk to him and we'll see how he sees himself fitting in with the organization moving forward."

Rusty Hardin:
"Roger has an incredible passion for baseball. For 4 1/2 years, baseball treated Roger like a pariah. Jim Crane joins the Boston Red Sox as the only people that haven't kept their distance from him."

Clemens:
"I'm under contract with the Astros and I love coming home. I can do whatever that man asks me to do. I can approach that with no reservations and help the guys that need help, give them encouragement and speak to their ability and their mind to go out and be a Major League player and that's what I do best."

(Read the Clemens link for more on the Hall of Fame, Clemens' view of the government, etc.)

Here's hoping that the Astros make adjustments quicker in 2013

Moisekapenda Bower's piece on last night's "performance" against Luke Hochevar highlighted the largely inexperienced Astros' lineup, and how they weren't really able to make the adjustments needed to put together some offense.

Carlos Lee:
"It's tough. Because even when you've got the scouting report, you haven't faced a guy. You don't know what kind of movement he's got, how hard he throws. It's a lot of things that come into play when you haven't faced a guy."

Let's all hope that the Astros don't run into this in 2013, when they will not have faced the majority of the pitchers who will be taking the inferior American League mound...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G68: Royals @ Astros


Luke Hochevar (3-7, 6.27) vs Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 3.35)

Luke Hochevar pitched like the 1-1 draft pick Kansas City hoped they were getting six years ago, and a first inning solo shot by Billy Butler off Wandy turned out to be all that the Royals would need. Astros are blanked, 2-0, and fall to 28-40 on the year.

*Aside from that first inning homer, Wandy scattered five singles and two walks over seven innings, only allowing one additional run on a 2-out RBI single to Alcides Escobar in the third. The offense never put anything together to support him, however, so Wandy ends up the tough-luck loser tonight. His line: 7.0 IP / 6 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 2 BB / 3 K. He drops to 6-5, while lowering his ERA to 3.29. Lyon and Abad combined for a 2.0 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K line in relief.

Observations:

*Chris Johnson had his first multi-hit game since June 2, going 2 for 4 with a pair of singles, the first of which broke up Hochevar's no-hit bid with one out in the fifth. CJ has been hitting a meager .156 since that June 2 game, so it would be nice if this was the game that gets him going again.

*Carlos Lee was Houston's other offensive star (if you can call it that), going 2 for 3 with a single, a double, and a walk.

*Jason Castro was the only other Astro with a hit, adding a fifth inning single to go 1 for 4.

*Altogether, Houston hitters combined for 5 H / 5 BB / 8 K and no runs scored.

*Jed Lowrie walked twice and got to third base each time, but no one could get him home.

Turning Point:

The Astros had runners on second and third with only one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Hochevar got both Maxwell and Bogusevic to strike out swinging. That ended Houston's biggest scoring threat.

Man of the Match:

Wandy Rodriguez. After throwing too many pitches early on, he turned up the efficiency late and went deep to give the bullpen some much-needed rest. He deserved a better fate tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Justin Maxwell. 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and five men left on base. The offense as a whole was weak tonight, but Maxwell had the most missed opportunities at the plate.

What happened to the Regulators?

On May 23, the Astros' bullpen, a.k.a. "The Regulators," stepped into the studio for this video shootThat night, the 'pen threw two shutout innings as Houston completed a sweep of the Cubs; two nights later, they delivered 1.2 shutout innings to lock down a win for Lucas Harrell over Clayton Kershaw in L.A. Since then, however, things have gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Last night's 9th-inning near-disaster is just the latest in a series of cardiac attacks inflicted on Astros fans by the irregular Regulators since May 25. Houston has had seven relievers appear in at least 20 games so far; for those seven, let's look at the before & after shots:

THROUGH MAY 25GIPERABAABABIPK/9
Wilton Lopez2525.21.75.213.2657.36
David Carpenter1415.24.02.313.3738.04
Brandon Lyon1716.11.65.246.3188.82
Fernando Rodriguez1816.23.78.219.2448.64
Brett Myers1817.01.59.183.2007.41
Rhiner Cruz1214.02.57.213.2707.71
Wesley Wright2312.12.19.234.3249.49

SINCE MAY 25GIPERABAABABIPK/9
Wilton Lopez76.25.40.320.3166.75
David Carpenter1011.06.55.356.4389.0
Brandon Lyon1110.04.50.268.35710.8
Fernando Rodriguez119.110.61.278.3217.71
Brett Myers86.19.95.414.4072.84
Rhiner Cruz99.114.46.417.4176.75
Wesley Wright127.17.36.313.3188.59

Ouch. Obviously Rodriguez and Cruz are the worst offenders, but Carpenter's 4.02-to-6.55 ERA jump is the smallest drop-off of the bunch. What's going on here?

For comparison, the average NL reliever line in 2012 looks like this:

3.88 ERA, .245 BAA, .300 BABIP, 8.40 K/9

From that, we can see that most of Houston's relievers were getting lucky through the first 45 games - Wright and Lyon were closest to normal, and only Carpenter had a BABIP significantly above average. Since then, only Wright's BABIP has stayed about the same, but his actual BAA has jumped almost 80 points. Everyone else has seen their BABIP jump anywhere from 40 to 200 points, with consequently expected jumps in BAA. Strikeout rates aren't wildly different either direction, except for Myers, whose drop-off is potentially alarming. Brandon Lyon (believe it or not) is probably the least bad of the bunch, but no one out there - except perhaps new arrival Xavier Cedeno - is smelling like roses lately.

Even so, the Regulators can hardly be blamed entirely for Houston's slump the last 3+ weeks. The starters' collective ERA this month is 6.28, versus 4.43 in April and 4.05 in May. Starters also averaged almost 6.0 IP in April & May, versus 5.1 this month, so much of this "bad luck" could also be contributed to tired arms as Brad Mills has been leaning harder on the bullpen lately.

More - much more - could be said about all of this, but the bottom line is that Houston's relievers were, indeed, pitching out of their league for most of the first two months this season. As good as they were then, however, they're also likely not as bad as they've been since Memorial Day.

PreStros Farm Report: June 18


PreStros: June 18


Oklahoma City (41-29) 

OFF

*Notes: Dallas Keuchel was called up to Houston to start Sunday. Brett Wallace was optioned back to OKC. Brad Snyder has a current hitting streak of 15 games. He is the only player in the PCL to have at least 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases right now. Mike Hessman has hit 14 home runs since May 15th.

Corpus Christi (36-33) 

Sunday’s 11 inning game took its toll on the Hooks as they slept their way through a 10-1 loss to San Antonio (SD).

Jake Buchanan got tagged for 10 R on 8 H and 3 BB with 3 K in 2.2 innings. Alex Sogard threw the next 3.1 innings with 5 H, 1 BB, and 4 K. Josh Zeid finished out the final 2 innings with 1 H and 4 K.

SS-Jonathan Villar was 1x4 with 1 SB and 1 R. 3B-Andy Simunic was 3x4 with 1 SB.

Man of the Match:  Josh Zeid

*Notes: The Hooks are averaging a league best 5.22 runs per game. They also lead the Texas League in doubles (124) and steals (84). Jon Singleton is tied for the league lead in runs (48). Despite being promoted to AAA almost a month ago, Brandon Barnes is still tied for the league lead in doubles (20). Jonathan Villar is leading the league in steals (31).

Lancaster (37-33) 

OFF – All-Star break

*Notes: George Springer and Bobby Doran will be representing the JetHawks at the California League All-Star game Tuesday night. Springer will also participate in the Home Run Derby.

Lexington (39-30) 

OFF – All-Star break

*Notes: Jason Chowning, Delino DeShields, Matt Duffy, Mike Foltynewicz, Zach Johnson, Carlos Quevedo, and Nick Tropeano were all named to the South Atlantic League All-Star game, to be played Tuesday afternoon. Matt Duffy advanced to the championship round of the Home Run Derby, to be finished prior to tonight’s All-Star Game. Zach Johnson also participated, but was eliminated.


Tri-City (1-0) 

The ValleyCats won their season opener in decisive fashion, beating Vermont (OAK) 10-2.

Vincent Velasquez, making his first start since missing all of last year after Tommy John surgery, went 5 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 H with 6 K. John Neely threw 1 inning and gave up 2 R (1 earned) on 1 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Jamaine Cotton pitched two scoreless innings, allowing 3 H with 2 K. Blake Ford finished out the game with 1 scoreless inning with 1 H and 1 BB.

CF-Andrew Aplin was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 2 R. 2B-Austin Elkins went 2x5 with 1 HR, 1 SB, 2 R, 3 RBI, and 1 error. RF-Emilio King was 2x5 with 1 2B, 2 R, and 3 K. 3B-Ryan Dineen was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 error. C-Jobduan Morales was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Vincent Velasquez

*Notes: 2010 2nd round pick Vincent Velasquez will be starting Monday in his first appearance since 2010. 13 members of the 2012 draft class will begin their careers in Tri-City, including 3rd round pick Brady Rodgers and 5th round pick Andrew Aplin.


Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

*Notes: Players of note on the Greeneville opening day roster include: Tanner Bushue, Adrian Houser, Ariel Ovando, and D’Andre Toney. Also, ten players selected in the 2012 draft are slated to begin their careers with the G-Stros.


GCL Astros (1-0) 

The Astros also won their season opener, taking 13 innings to beat the Cardinals 1-0 on a walk-off pop up to the catcher.

Michael Feliz went 5 scoreless innings with 2 H, 1 BB, and 2 K. Ambiorix De Leon gave 1.2 innings with 1 H and 1 K. Alan Abreu threw 2.2 innings with 3 H and 2 BB. Juan Mojica pitched 2.2 innings with 2 K. Jose Montero pitched the final inning.

SS-Carlos Correa was 1x5 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 1 error. RF-Teoscar Hernandez was 2x6 with 1 2B and 1 outfield assist at third. LF-Kelvin Vizcaino was 0x4 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Michael Feliz

*Notes: This will be the first season stateside for many former DSL Astros. 2012 1st round pick Carlos Correa will also be starting his Astros career in the Gulf Coast League.


DSL Astros (6-8) 

The Astros missed a chance to get back to .500 by losing 7-4 to the Athletics.

Samil De Los Santos threw 4 innings and gave up 2 R on 3 H and 2 BB with 4 K. Elieser Hernandez got just one out while giving up 4 R on 5 H and 1 BB. Geronimo Franzua turned in 1 inning, allowing 1 R on 5 BB. Frangy Colon took the final 3.2 innings, giving up just 2 H with 5 K.

CF-Jarico Reynoso was 0x4 with 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. LF-Frederick Serrano was 2x5.

Man of the Match: Frangy Colon

Hartford Courant piece on George Springer

A year ago, George Springer was a Husky before signing his deal with the Astros, where he is now an All-Star at High-A Lancaster. The Hartford Courant talked to him about it.

Astros Director of Player Development Fred Nelson:
"We want to get him to be more selective, swing at more strikes. Early in the year, Lancaster played a lot of games in its division, so they saw a lot of teams seven and eight games. Pitchers got a chance to see what George does and how to pitch him, and then he made adjustments."

Crane would welcome back Clemens

Roger Clemens has a 10-year personal services contract with the Astros, and Jim Crane would welcome Clemens to start that contract whenever he's ready.

First: Before you get outraged about this possibility, would you really deny someone the right to honor a contract that the Astros offered?

Second: What if it pissed Bud Selig right off? Then how would you feel?

I don't have a single solitary problem with Roger Clemens coming back for the personal services contract with the Astros - sure, he has plenty of money (presuming Rusty Hardin didn't siphon off 75% of Clemens' wealth for Bangs Maintenance) - but the guy has a right to work.

And if it makes Selig upset, I'm even more in favor.

Fernando Martinez to undergo further tests

Remember when - and I can't remember it specifically - Fernando Martinez Willie Mays-Haysed a flyball to right field, and ended up about four feet short of the ball? That apparently aggravated a concussion from when he got hit in the coconut while at OKC.

Also within McTaggart's notebook: Bud Norris is nearing a rehab stint, and Jordan Schafer sat last night because of the lefty on the mound. Schafer has 17 strikeouts in 38 plate appearances vs. lefties. Justin Maxwell took his place in CF, but Mills talked Schafer down and got him to stop sniffling.

Scott Boras likes Jeff Luhnow

The most interesting note (to me, anyway) coming out of the McCullers press conference was the info on the relationship between Luhnow and Scott Boras.

Luhnow's history with Borashelped make the signing happen:
"The great thing is that we had a history with Jeff when he worked for the Cardinals and the development of players. There was a real understanding of metrics and the coaching staff and the personnel needed to do that...we were very comfortable with the design and the plans that Jeff and the Astros staff have put in place for Lance."

While I think most of us would be happier to scrape Boras off our shoe than to shake his hand, it's a smart approach from Luhnow. Boras routinely represents the best players in baseball, so treating him like he has been cast out of the village and must weep outside the Dung-Gate, is in essence philosophizing your way out of negotiations with those players. By embracing Boras, it opened the door to signing not only McCullers, but it opens the door to future negotiations and drafts.

McCullers will report to Kissimmee on Wednesday, and could end 2012 with Greeneville.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Some Thoughts On The Rocket, PEDs, and Baseball

Hey folks, excuse my hijacking of the blog, but the good folks running Astros County dropped me a note and asked if I would be willing to share a few thoughts on the supposed meaning of the Clemens verdict. So...

So the Roger Clemens case is finally over. The jury's reached it's verdict, and it found him non-guilty of all charges. None of the charges dealt with whether he actually used steroids, HGH, or any other PED, so ignore any Rusty Hardin comments saying that Clemens' name has been cleared. All that has actually been decided is that Clemens was not actually guilty of obstructing a constructional investigation into his use of steroids, HGH, or any other PEDs.

In the coming days there'll be a lot of sports folks writing high-minded pieces about what this all means. There'll be outrage expressed to the costs of the trial. I'm sure Rusty Hardin will be praised to the high heavens by some -- remember though, it was primarily Hardin's actions before Congress that got Clemens in this mess in the first place, so go easy on the praise. And for the most part, the writers/bloggers/reporters/columnists, etc. will get it all wrong.

They'll get it all wrong because there's no way of knowing what it means at right this very moment. The verdict's not going to make things any easier on Roger Clemens -- really, is there any sane person out there who thinks he didn't use PEDs?  Just as things haven't eased up for Barry Bonds. Rafael Palmeiro's never been charged with anything, and he still denies using PEDs, and he's still mentioned mainly as a punchline. And look at what Ryan Braun's dealing with this season.

It would be interesting to start discussing some other things. Why is Andy Pettitte still considered to be such a great guy? An honest guy who wouldn't lie? Clemens didn't call him a liar, he just said that Pettitte misremembered. Yet Pettitte admitted to using HGH. On multiple occasions. After telling reporters for years that he did not take HGH. And not only is he considered a hero and an outstanding role model, he's been readily re-accepted back in baseball. Alex Rodriguez admitted to PED use, and he's a pariah. What's the difference?

Jeff Bagwell was not named in the Mitchell Report, and he never failed a PED test. Yet he's supposedly a PED abuser who should not be allowed anywhere near the Baseball Hall of Fame. And look what is happening with Ryan Braun? Why is he not accepted like Andy Pettitte? What makes Pettitte so much more special than all of the others? Brian Roberts of the Orioles admitted to using steroids after he was named in the Mitchell Report, and his reputation has suffered no harm. But no team would attempt to get near Clemens or Bonds were they to attempt comebacks. But Pettitte's one of the supposed feel-good stories of this season.

I always thought the outrage about PED use was manufactured outrage. For over 50 years MLB players used PEDs without baseball giving it a second thought -- just look at the use of greenies in baseball, and look at the names of some of the players who have admitted to using greenies. They used greenies for the same reason players used steroids and HGH. They thought the greenies improved their game.

Will this stop the show trials of athletes? Who knows. But the problem with the Clemens trial as it was with the Bonds trial was that there was no real tangible evidence. At some point, if you're a prosecutor going after a high-profile person with money, you actually have to have tangible evidence.

And those are my rambling thoughts on what the Clemens verdict means to baseball. Except for this last, final thought: why is the outrage always about baseball and PED usage? How come the same outrage is never expressed over football players?

Conclusion of the Clemens circus

And since we made mention of the beginning of the Roger Clemens trial (over two months ago...), we should likewise note the end: not guilty on all counts.

That's all I have to say about that.

Notes from Lance McCullers presser

Without regurgitating everything that all of the Houston reporters have already said or will soon, here are a few notes from this afternoon's press conference officially announcing the Mickey Dolenz Lance McCullers signing:
  • McCullers will start the season with the GCL Astros, then move up to Greeneville if all goes well there.
  • He was wearing #41 - the overall pick used to draft both himself and his dad ('82).
  • Scott Boras said that history with Jeff Luhnow from his Cardinals days helped in negotiations, and they spent more time talking player development than dollars.
  • Boras compared McCullers' high school domination to Jered Weaver's in college.
  • Luhnow also mentioned the wave of guys that Houston now has coming through the minors from the last two drafts, hoping that many of them will reach the majors simultaneously, at which point he expects to have the resources to sign & keep guys here long term (referencing Houston's history with Bagwell & Biggio).

PreStros Farm Report: June 17


PreStros: June 17


Oklahoma City (41-29) 

The RedHawks couldn’t match up against former Astro Roy Oswalt as OKC lost 4-2 to Round Rock (TEX).

Paul Clemens threw 6 innings and gave up 4 R on 13 H with 4 K. Enerio Del Rosario finished out the last 2 innings with 1 H and 1 K.

2B-Jimmy Paredes was 1x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 R, and 1 2B. SS-Angel Sanchez was 3x4 with 1 SB and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Angel Sanchez

*Notes: Dallas Keuchel was called up to Houston to start Sunday. Brett Wallace was optioned back to OKC. Brad Snyder has a current hitting streak of 15 games. He is the only player in the PCL to have at least 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases right now. Mike Hessman has hit 14 home runs since May 15th.

Corpus Christi (36-32) 

The Hooks won a rare 11 inning blowout by scoring nine runs in the final inning to beat Frisco (TEX) 14-5.

Brett Oberholtzer threw 6 innings and gave up 3 R (1 earned) on 2 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Henry Villar threw 1.2 innings with 2 H, 1 BB, and 2 K. Josh Zeid had 1 BB in .1 innings. Jason Stoffel pitched 1 inning and allowed 2 R on 2 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Erick Abreu went the final 2 innings with 1 H and 2 BB.

SS-Jonathan Villar was 2x6 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, and 3 RBI. 3B-Andy Simunic was 2x5 with 1 BB, 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. 2B-Jose Martinez was 3x7 with 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 R, and 3 RBI. DH-Kody Hinze went 1x4 with 2 BB, 1 HR, 2 R, and 3 RBI. LF-Adam Bailey was 3x5 with 1 BB, 1 2B, and 1 R. C-Jair Fernandez went 3x6 with 1 HR, 2 R, and 3 RBI. CF-Drew Muren was 3x6 with 2 SB, 2 2B, and 3 R.

Man of the Match:  Jose Martinez

*Notes: Kody Hinze has homered in three straight games.

Lancaster (37-33) 

OFF – All-Star break

*Notes: George Springer and Bobby Doran will be representing the JetHawks at the California League All-Star game Tuesday night. Springer will also participate in the Home Run Derby.

Lexington (39-30) 

The Legends finished the first half with a 2-0 win over Asheville (COL).

Nick Tropeano threw 7 scoreless innings, allowing 3 H and 5 BB with 7 K. Murilo Gouvea pitched 1 inning with 1 H and 2 K. Dayan Diaz earned his 8th save with a perfect inning.

DH-Brandon Meredith was 2x3 with 1 3B and 1 R. CF-Justin Gominsky was 1x3 with 1 R, 1 RBI, and 1 outfield assist on a play at the plate.

Man of the Match: Nick Tropeano

*Notes: Jason Chowning, Delino DeShields, Matt Duffy, Mike Foltynewicz, Zach Johnson, Carlos Quevedo, and Nick Tropeano were all named to the South Atlantic League All-Star game, to be played Tuesday afternoon. Zach Johnson will also be participating in the Home Run Derby to be held on the deck of the USS Yorktown Monday.


Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

*Notes: 2010 2nd round pick Vincent Velasquez will be starting Monday in his first appearance since 2010. 13 members of the 2012 draft class will begin their careers in Tri-City, including 3rd round pick Brady Rodgers and 5th round pick Andrew Aplin.


Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

*Notes: Players of note on the Greeneville opening day roster include: Tanner Bushue, Adrian Houser, Ariel Ovando, and D’Andre Toney. Also, ten players selected in the 2012 draft are slated to begin their careers with the G-Stros.


GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

*Notes: This will be the first season stateside for many former DSL Astros. 2012 1st round pick Carlos Correa will also be starting his Astros career in the Gulf Coast League.


DSL Astros (6-7) 

OFF

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Astros sign Lance McCullers

In light of the fairly disastrous road trip the Astros are in the process of completing, there is some good news: Luhnow signed 1-41 Lance McCullers.

Baseball America's Jim Callis put the signing bonus at $2.5m, almost double the slot for the 41st overall pick of $1.2587m, and just under the recommended bonus for the 12th overall pick.

Via Street we get some numbers from Baseball America that show that 3-96 Brady Rodgers signed for $495,200 (slot), 5-159 Andrew Aplin signed for $220,000 ($49,700 under slot), and 10-309 Joe Bircher signed for $20,000 ($105,000 under slot).

So with all this new information, if my math is correct, the Astros have committed $8,385,200 to the draft, with $1,496,100 remaining in recommended slot bonuses. Combine those two figures and you get $9,881,300 - or $1,296,400 remaining to go over slot on 4-129 Rio Ruiz or 11-339 Hunter Virant.

It's possible that Florida senior Preston Tucker will sign for well under slot (as Joe Bircher did), so we'll see how much wiggle room the Astros have after the College World Series.

See the full draft list here.

Quick something to note. The Astros wouldn't necessarily be able to just offer the rest to Hunter Virant. If they do not sign Rio Ruiz, the $360,200 assigned to the 129th overall pick is removed from their bonus pool.