Saturday, July 28, 2012
According to MASN's Roch Kubatko, the Astros have claimed Steve Pearce off waivers from the Orioles.
Pearce is a 29-year old OF/1B, and was the 8th Round pick by the Pirates in 2005. In parts of six seasons (career-high 60 games in 2009), Pearce is a .235/.304/.375 hitter. In 83 PAs for Baltimore in 2012, Pearce is hitting. 254/.321/.437, with 17K:8BB.
Also, the Astros optioned Enerio Del Rosario and Aneury Rodriguez to Oklahoma City, and then sent Fernando Abad with them to act as a chaperone, in order to allow Armando Galarraga to make the start tonight against Wandy's Pittsburgh Pirates. Rhiner Cruz has to stay on the roster, or get offered back to the Mets, who might actually take him back.
PreStros: July 27
The RedHawks were shutout by Iowa (CHC) 5-0.
The Hooks scored four in the bottom of the ninth to beat Midland (OAK) 6-5.
Newly acquired Blair Walters received a rude introduction to the California League as the JetHawks lost to Inland Empire (LAA) 15-1.
The ValleyCats took both games of a double header against Hudson Valley (TB), winning the first 4-2 and the second 7-0.
The G-Stros won a wild, offense driven game against Elizabethton (MIN) 12-9.
The Astros beat the Nationals 8-3
The Astros won a come from behind victory over the Royals 6-5.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Fick is 6'5", 185, and 26 years old. He's 1-1 with a 4.68 ERA and 4.3 K/9 in 42.1 innings of relief for AAA Memphis this season; he had a 5.40 ERA in 1.2 IP split between two games with the Cardinals this year. But he posted considerably better numbers a year ago - 2.30 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.152 WHIP over 70.1 relief innings for Memphis in 2011.
Over here is an interview that Chuckie did with Future Redbirds back in 2008. And here is a pre-2012 profile by The Cardinal Nation that highlights Fick's extreme GB/FB ratio (greater than 3-to-1).
As Levine notes, this claim puts Houston's 40-man roster at 40, so the Astros will have to remove someone from the roster before Saturday's game to make room for Armando Galarraga.
UPDATE: Fick has joined the Astros in Houston, so Enerio Del Rosario has been sent to OKC to make room on the 25-man roster. But someone still has to come off the 40-man before tomorrow's game if Galarraga is coming up.
*Jeff Luhnow told Brian McTaggart on Wednesday that the Astros are done "stimulating any dialogues" on further trades, but they are still listening if other teams call.
*On that point, ESPN's Jayson Stark says that he hears everyone on Houston's roster except Jose Altuve is "up for grabs."
*Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a not-entirely-flattering look at Luhnow's recent moves, though he concludes "there wasn't much more the Astros could have done."
Also in Tag's notes:
*Wilton Lopez was on call as Houston's closer last night. Whether CoCo gets another shot remains to be seen...
*Wesley Wright (2008) and Bud Norris (2009) are now your Astros' senior statesmen.
*Pittsburgh's starter on Saturday will look awfully familiar, as Magic Wandy ups his street cred with a new fight song.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Of course Houston signed MLB veteran Ryan Rowland-Smith of Sydney before last season, and Craig Shipley of Parramatta, New South Wales, played for the Astros in 1995. But this is Houston's first amateur signing out of Australia.
PreStros: July 24
OKC absorbed a six run inning by Iowa (CHC) like it was nothing as the RedHawks went on to win 15-9.
Corpus Christi (58-43)
Newly acquired Asher Wojciechowski pitched a gem in his debut as the Hooks beat San Antonio (SDP) 4-1.
In a rare, low-scoring California League game, the JetHawks lost to Lake Elsinore (SDP) 3-1.
The ValleyCats won again (yawn), this time beating Connecticut (DET) 7-3.
The G-Stros lost in to Burlington (KC) 4-3 in 10 innings.
The Astros climbed back to .500 with a double header sweep over the Cardinals, winning the first game 3-2 and the second game 5-0.
The Astros lost to the Mariners 7-5.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Here are the players the Astros have traded since Jeff Luhnow took over in December 2011:
Mark Melancon (BOS)
Jason Bourgeois (KC)
Humberto Quintero (KC)
Justin Ruggiano (MIA)
Carlos Lee (MIA)
Brandon Lyon (TOR)
J.A. Happ (TOR)
David Carpenter (TOR)
Brett Myers (CHW)
Wandy Rodriguez (PIT)
SS Jed Lowrie (BOS)
RHP Kyle Weiland (BOS)
LHP Kevin Chapman (KC)
OF D'Andre Toney (KC)
C Jobduan Morales (MIA)
3B Matt Dominguez (MIA)
LHP Rob Rasmussen (MIA)
RHP Francisco Cordero (TOR)
OF Ben Francisco (TOR)
RHP Joseph Musgrove (TOR)
RHP Asher Wojciechowski (TOR)
LHP David Rollins (TOR)
C Carlos Perez (TOR)
Player to be Named Later (TOR)
RHP Matt Heidenreich (CHW)
LHP Blair Walters (CHW)
Player to be Named Later (CHW)
LHP Rudy Owens (PIT)
LHP Colton Cain (PIT)
OF Robbie Grossman (PIT)
Keep it posted here, because reports say that the Pirates are close to trading for Wandy Rodriguez.
If the Astros don't get the Clemente Bridge in the package, I'm gonna be pissed.
8:09pm: Jon Heyman is reporting the deal is done.
8:11pm: Money is apparently changing hands. Keep checking back for the return.
In return for Wandy, the Astros receive LHPs Colton Cain, Rudy Owens, and OF Robbie Grossman.
Alright, let's do this.
Colton Cain is a 6'3" 225lb 21-year old LHP out of Waxahachie High School, and was the 8th Round pick of the 2009 draft by the Pirates. In three seasons (55 appearances, 48 starts) he has a 10-15 record, with a 4.04 ERA/1.18 WHIP. In 229.2IP, he has allowed 195H/103ER, 179K:75BB. Pirates Prospects has a run-down here.
So far in 2012 for High-A Bradenton, Cain is 3-5 in 16 starts, with a 4.20 ERA/1.24 WHIP, allowing 10HR in 75IP.
Rudy Owens is a 6'3" 230lb 24-year old LHP, and was the 28th Round pick of the Pirates in 2006. For Triple-A Indianapolis in 2012 (a repeat year from 2011), Owens is 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA/1.17 WHIP, with 85K:25BB in 117.1IP. Owens dealt with left shoulder soreness and fatigue in 2011. Here's a pre-2011 MLB.com article on Owens' plans to get to the Majors.
Robbie Grossman is a 6'0" 205lb 22-year old switch-hitting OF out of Cy-Fair High School, and was the Pirates' 6th Round pick in the 2008 draft. For Double-A Altoona in 2012, Grossman is hitting .262/.374/.403, with 77K:58BB in 413PAs. He had a breakout year in 2011 for High-A Bradenton, hitting .294/.418/.451, with 49 extra-base hits in 616 PAs, with 111K:104BB.
When Matt Cain happened back on June 13 (sorry), a lot of national media had a lot of fun at the Astros' expense - "it deserves an asterisk, it's ONLY the LASTros" kind of junk. But reality was that the Astros, while slumping, still had a middle-of-the-road offense at the time. In 61 games leading up to June 13, Houston as a team posted a .253/.318/.389 line, which would place them around 8th or 9th in the 16-team National League today. Here's the lineup that Brad Mills trotted out that night, with their 2012 stats through June 12:
CF Jordan Schafer (.246/.319/.328)
2B Jose Altuve (.325/.365/.477)
SS Jed Lowrie (.284/.358/.522)
LF J.D. Martinez (.230/.324/.362)
1B Brett Wallace (.385/.484/.731)
3B Chris Johnson (.284/.327/.433)
RF Brian Bogusevic (.228/.305/.345)
C Chris Snyder (.194/.292/.333)
P J.A. Happ (.091/.167/.091)
The Astros played 30 more games after that night before last Thursday, when Edinson Volquez came within three walks and an excuse-me infield squibbler of matching Matt Cain's feat. These Astros, however, were not the ones that Cain faced. Over the intermining 30-game stretch, Houston put up a .219/.292/.350 collective line, which would deservedly be last in the majors. By a lot. Their lineup vs. Volquez, with stats through July 18:
2B Jose Altuve (.290/.333/.419)
SS Marwin Gonzalez (.294/.326/.388)
3B Scott Moore (.235/.268/.451)
LF J.D. Martinez (.243/.316/.393)
1B Matt Downs (.191/.238/.409)
RF Justin Maxwell (.225/.312/.442)
CF Jordan Schafer (.230/.311/.312)
C Chris Snyder (.182/.300/.307)
P Lucas Harrell (.212/.212/.212)
Of the players involved in both games, only Martinez took a step forward. Maxwell exceeds Bogusevic in power, Harrell is a better hitter than Happ, but every other position featured a significant drop-off at the plate. Houston is now 15th of 16 in NL team batting average and falling fast, ahead of only the San Diego team that just outscored them 17-8 in a four-game set.
The Astros are 8-27 since June 14. Of course the pitching hasn't been great either, but in that stretch, they've lost 10 games they would have won if they had scored just a league-average 4.22 runs per game. Instead, they've scored 3.1. With those 10 games, they could be above .500 over the last month plus.
Now, we know that Jeff Luhnow is working on it. He has a plan in place, and he's executing it. In the last three weeks, he's unloaded three of Houston's Big Four Contracts (Lee/Lyon/Myers), and it seems likely that the fourth - Wandy Rodriguez - is soon to follow. But with our limited view of that plan, the work-in-progress we can see is frustrating to watch every night.
Of the 10 names we know that Houston has received this month, 7 are pitchers. One is a defense-first 3B prospect, one is a single-A catcher, and only one - Ben Francisco - could be any help to the immediate offensive woes. Where is Brett Wallace? Where is Jimmy Paredes? What about Brandon Barnes, or giving Fernando Martinez more than a 4-game concussion-addled chance? J.B. Shuck lacks power, but he's a OBP machine. Is career .259 hitter Francisco really supposed to be our offensive savior?
Mostly those are intended as rhetorical questions - Luhnow has promised us at least Wallace soon, and I'd wager there's more on the way than that. This is a team building for the long-term, to get good and stay good, and trades are a big part of that building process. Luhnow's focus this month, then, is rightly on maximizing those trade possibilities until the July 31 deadline. After that, he's hinted at a flurry of moves throughout the farm system, and it's fair to believe that those moves will also affect the big club. Why not promote some kids now? We don't know why, but kudos at least to Luhnow for sticking to his plan. It's a better plan than this Houston franchise has seen in a great many years.
Patience, patience, Astros fans. The team you see now is not the team you'll see soon, and the end of the dark days is in sight.
*From the Chronicle's Zachary Levine: Jeff Luhnow says the salary savings from this month's trades mean the Astros "will be active" in this winter's free agent market, though not "bidding on the big-name" guys.
*From MLB.com's Brian McTaggart: Jed Lowrie is still booted, but Jason Castro is feeling better and hoping to return... soonish.
*From FS Houston's MoiseKapenda Bower: "It's nice to have some sizzle, but we're looking for the steak." Great read on the philosophy going into Luhnow's recent (and possible upcoming) moves.
*Lost under the trade avalanche over the weekend, Levine reported that Luhnow said the White Sox PTBNL will be a significant part of the Myers deal.
*Not from an Astros writer, but also from the weekend, Ken Rosenthal was told that it "will be a while" before Wandy gets dealt.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
*Scott Moore also had a multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 with two doubles and a run scored.
*Justin Maxwell launched a monster shot to center in the 2nd, for his 9th HR of the year. He'd finish 1 for 3.
*Carlos Corporan went 1 for 3 and now has a four-game hitting streak (!), tying the longest of his career.
*Marwin Gonzalez (1 for 4), Chris Johnson (1 for 4, 2B, RBI), and Brian Bogusevic (1 for 4, K) had Houston's other hits.