Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bobby Heck not renewed; Mike Elias promoted

In a surprising news story that came to light during tonight's game, the Astros have elected to not renew the contract of Scouting Director/Assistant GM Bobby Heck. In his place, 29-year-old Yale grad Mike Elias has been promoted.

Elias followed in Jeff Luhnow's tracks from the Cardinals to the Astros, being hired back in January as special assistant to the scouting department. Luhnow on Elias:
"Mike has a keen eye for talent and a unique ability to blend scouting opinions with other valuable information like the players' makeup, performance history or medical risk. I've worked with Mike for many years now and believe his leadership and evaluation skills will help us maximize the output of our drafts for years to come."
Heck, of course, had come to Houston under Ed Wade's watch in 2007, after rebuilding Milwaukee's farm system from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best. Certainly one could (and should) argue that he had much to do with doing the same here, so I hope he'll land on his feet.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G115 - Astros v. Brewers

Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13) vs Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 5.60)

Winning streak! And the Astros may never wear pinstripes again. A night after recording their first walk-off win of the 2012 season, Houston took to the field again in their '90s blue & gold, and won on a walk-off once more - this time in extra innings. After starting the season 0-11 in extras - never even scoring a run after the 9th this year - they win 6-5 in 10, and log consecutive wins for the first time since June 26-27. The Astros are now 38-77 on the season.

*Dallas Keuchel was on his game tonight, holding Milwaukee to only one single through the first 4.1 innings. He did allow two unearned runs on a Brett Wallace throwing error in the 2nd, then two earned runs on on three hits in the 5th, but this was the first big league start for Kid Keuchy in which he did not walk a batter. His final line: 6 IP / 5 H / 4 R / 2 ER / 0 BB / 6 K. The 7th inning was an adventure, as Houston used three pitchers to strike out the side, but allowed three singles to load the bases in between the second and third outs. Still, Chuckie Fick, Wesley Wright, and Mickey Storey combined for two scoreless innings to get the Astros to the 9th with a 5-4 lead. Wilton Lopez came on and blew the save, but he limited the damage to one run, then allowed only a single in the 10th before Houston made him a winner in the bottom of the frame.


*The Astros' offense actually looked pretty solid tonight, led by multi-hit efforts from Tyler Greene, Jose Altuve, and Steve Pearce. The team went 12 for 38 (.316) collectively, including 4 for 10 with RISP.

*Tyler Greene got his first start as an Astro, leading off and playing short, and he made the most of it, going 2 for 5 with a double, a solo home run, and two runs scored.

*Jose Altuve went 3 for 5 with a stolen base, and he scored all three times he reached, including the winning run.

*Steve Pearce stayed hot, going 3 for 4 with a triple, a walk, and three RBI.

*Scott Moore was 0 for 4 through the first 9 innings, but he came up big in the 10th, singling home Altuve for the Astros' second straight walk-off win.

*Brett Wallace got the start at third tonight, and his throw about 6 feet over Scott Moore's head in the 2nd gave away two runs, but he did also go 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored before coming out for pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez in the 7th.

Turning Point:

Lopie's blown save was a big letdown in the 9th, but he kept Milwaukee at bay in the 10th to give his team a chance against the Brewers' beleaguered bullpen. Jim Henderson struck out the side in 1-2-3 fashion in the bottom of the 9th, but Jose Altuve singled against him to lead off Houston's half of the 10th. Marwin Gonzalez and Steve Pearce then patiently worked walks to load the bases with no outs for Scott Moore. Moore capitalized quickly, lining Henderson's 0-1 pitch into a wide open left field, scoring a grinning Altuve and launching the Astros into their second consecutive happy mob celebration on the field.

Man of the Match:

Moore, Pearce, and Greene all deserve mad props for great games, but I'm going with Jose Altuve. Three times he got himself on base to help his team, resulting in half of Houston's runs, including the game winner.

Goat of the Game:

No goat tonight either. Astros win! Astros win again!

From the Office of the County Clerk: G114 - Astros v. Brewers

Mark Rogers (0-1, 5.91) vs Bud Norris (5-9, 5.07)

Walk-off! It's a walk-off! Coming into tonight, no team in 96 years had ever lost 35 times in 39 games. Thanks to an improbable late rally, neither did the 2012 Astros. Wearing '90s throwback uniforms that never saw a losing season, Houston wins 4-3 on their first walk-off of the year. They're now 37-77 overall.

*Bud Norris started out shaky, but he finished strong and turned in a solid outing, posting a 7 IP / 8 H / 3 R / 2 ER / 0 BB / 7 K line. He left with Houston down 3-1, so he still hasn't won a game since May 21, but this was his fifth quality start in his last seven turns. Fernando Rodriguez and Wilton Lopez each pitched a perfect inning in relief, striking out two apiece.


*You worried where this game was going after Milwaukee jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, and the Astros were held hitless through the first 4.1 innings, but then three of Houston's next four batters singled to generate their first run.

*A Carlos Corporan error led to the Brewers first run, but he redeemed himself quite well later in the game. Corporan drove in the Astros' first run in the 5th, then hit a solo homer to right in the 8th, finishing 2 for 3.

*Brian Bogusevic is your other big hero tonight, going 2 for 4 including the single that drove in the winning run.

*Steve Pearce singled in the 9th to drive in Tyler Greene (making his Astros debut as a pinch runner), then Pearce came around to score the winning run. He went 1 for 4.

*Scott Moore went 1 for 4 with a bunt single that broke up the no-hitter, then scored on Corporan's single later in the inning.

Turning Point:

Down 3-2 going to the bottom of the 9th, John Axford came on for the save. Brett Wallace led off with his second of two walks on the night, then Tyler Greene came in to run for him. Greene stole second, then went to third on a wild pitch; Steve Pearce singled to drive him in, then made it to second himself on an error by Brewers CF Carlos Gomez. Scott Moore flew out to Gomez, allowing Pearce to tag and advance to third. That brought up Bogusevic, who stroked a 3-1 pitch up the middle under two Brewers gloves for the blessed, glorious walk-off hit.

Man of the Match:

Bogey! With a most honorable honorable mention to Carlos Corporan.

Goat of the Game:

No goat tonight. Astros win!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fernando Martinez called up

So Fernando Martinez is on his way to Houston, and will be in uniform tonight.

Seconds after this tweet, the Astros official Twitter account tweeted that Juan Abreu (acquired in the Bourn trade), who was DFA'ed, has been claimed by the Blue Jays.

Davey Johnson says Astros are a "good little team"

Want someone to say something nice about the Astros? Turn to Nationals manager Davey Johnson:

(But the Astros) are a good little team. I mean, their record is horrendous, I understand that, but they've got some good little players and they've got some pitchers. They battle you and they don't make a lot of mistakes out there. People can say we were flat coming in here. No. We weren't flat. Those guys got some talent over there too, they battled us every at-bat and this is a ballpark anything can happen in. I was proud of our guys this series. It wasn't flat to me. We battled from the get-go."

There you have it. i guess.

Jim Crane likes this about as much as you do

Good interview with Jim Crane at the Chronicle this morning, who said pretty much everything but, "This F***ing Sucks."

There is quite an interesting note about the plan the Astros are taking through this rebuild slash-and-burn-and-replant job they have before them:

“When you look at Oakland, they weren’t supposed to be able to compete for a few years and they’re running after the wild card. The good thing about our situation: We’ll have a lot more money than they will at the end of the day and we should be able to build.”

Yes! Money Shots at a future division rival!

Catching you up on the Tranzactionz

Here's a recap of the Tranzactionz that have gone down in the last 15 hours:

George Springer from Lancaster to Corpus.
Delino DeShields from Lexington to Corpus (Wait. It's Lancaster.).
J.D. Martinez from Houston to Oklahoma City.
Matt Downs to Oklahoma City.

Via What the Heck, Bobby:
2B Jose Fernandez from Corpus to OKC
2B Kike Hernandez from Lancaster to Corpus
RP Kenny Long from Tri-City to Lancaster
OF Andrew Aplin from Tri-City to Lancaster

Obviously this is a much-needed shuffle at the major-league level. During this epic time of losing (June 28-present), Martinez hit .231/.277/.314 with 25K:8BB and seven extra-base hits in 130 plate appearances. Downs has hit .259/.306/.379 in the same span, with three extra-base hits and two walks in 63 plate appearances.

Moves have to be made, and it's not like the Astros are trying to find out any more about 2012.

Meanwhile, the prospects move up. DeShields, in a repeat year at Lexington (where he'll be just 20 years old next week), was hitting .298/.401/.439 with 83 steals. George Springer, who reaches Double-A in 533 career plate appearances, was hitting .316/.398/.557 for Lancaster - with 131 strikeouts in 500 plate appearances, in addition to 28 stolen bases.

Get used to it, Astros fans. There's a lot of losing left this season - though with an eye toward winning on the horizon.

StL Post-Dispatch on Tyler Greene

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon had a couple thoughts on Tyler Greene:

He heard boos during his last game in St. Louis, a 15-0 loss. He had a bad game, sure, but who didn't? Some seven- and eight-digit salary guys were more glaring no-shows......When Greene looks bad, he really, really looks bad. And as a jumpy guy, he lets the mishaps multiply on him. Clearly this was not a guy capable of playing well in a limited role, as Matt Carpenter has so far this season. But now Greene gets a fresh start.

Motte and Molina tweet the exact same thing

Matt Sebek, of JoeSportsFan, had an interesting Twitpic last night, with the exact same tweets from Jason Motte and Yadier Molina about the newest Astro, Tyler Greene:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G113 - Astros v. Nationals

Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 2.45) vs Lucas Harrell (9-7, 3.98)

Coming into tonight, the Astros had lost 33 of their last 37 games. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports noted earlier today that no team had lost 34 of 38 since the 1949 Washington Senators. In their final National League game against the current Washington team, Houston seized upon the opportunity to equal that mark. Nationals complete the sweep, Astros lose 5-0, and they now sit at 36-77 overall.

*Lucas Harrell pitched well once again, but he ran up his pitch count such that he left the game at 100 pitches after only five innings. Lucas' line: 5 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 2 BB / 5 K. Mickey Storey had trouble with Michael Morse again, giving up a solo HR to Morse in his one inning. Xavier Cedeno pitched 0.2 scoreless, then Fernando Rodriguez gave up another solo HR to Morse in 1.1 IP. Wesley Wright surrendered singles to all three batters he faced in the 9th before being lifted, then Chuckie Fick allowed one to score on a sacrifice fly before recording the final three outs.


*Very little on offense for the Astros tonight - 5 hits and 1 BB against 14 K.

*Brett Wallace was the only man seemingly unfazed by Nationals pitching tonight, going 3 for 4 with a double and a strikeout.

*Steve Pearce also had a double, going 1 for 4 with 2 K.

*Marwin Gonzalez (1 for 4, 2 K) had the other Houston hit, and Justin Maxwell (0 for 3, 2 K) had the only walk. 

*Maxwell did also have a nice running/diving catch on Tal's Hill to rob Jayson Werth in the 4th.

Turning Point:

Harrell had allowed only a single while striking out five through the first three innings, but then he allowed the first three Nationals to reach in the 4th on two singles and a walk, resulting in their first run. Morse then hit a sac fly to right to drive in their second run. Another single and another walk followed, not resulting in any further scoring, but the game was already lost.

Man of the Match:

Brett Wallace. Responding to being benched against last night's lefty with three hits - including one in his only at bat against a lefty tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Wesley Wright, though it hardly mattered with the lack of offense.

Springer promoted to Double-A

George Springer, 2011 first round pick, has been promoted from Lancaster to Corpus.

More later.

More on Tyler Greene

Look at Tyler Greene's Baseball-Reference page, and you are likely unimpressed. The next walk he draws (his 14th) will be a career-high in the majors. The 70 OPS+.

Then you go over to his minor-league stats, and you're likely more impressed. Particularly with his 66-game stint with Triple-A Memphis, where in 303 plate appearances, he posted an OPS of 1.001, hitting .323/.422/.579 - all of which are easily career highs. Greene had posted one season with an OPS over .850 - and that was in 2009, again with Memphis, hitting .291/.369/.482.

So what was so different about 2011? Other than that he was 27, and this was his fourth go-round at Triple-A?

Well, for one, for a guy with a career .286 BABIP, posting a .407 BABIP in those 66 games sure didn't hurt. But wait. He's routinely enjoyed a high BABIP - particularly in Triple-A, where from 2008-10 he had BABIPs of .342, .349, and .361, respectively.

In 49 games for St. Louis from April 2-June 17, 2011, Greene hit .198/.308/.267, good enough for 31 OPSPBJS (OPS Points Below Jordan Schafer), and he had five extra-base hits, and 31K in 117 plate appearances - all of which is sure to end up in a demotion for anybody.

In his first three series back at Memphis, he went 12x42 with two doubles and ten strikeouts. But then something clicked, I guess. Because for the rest of his 2011 Triple-A Memphis stint, starting on July 4, he went 72x212 (.340) with 33 XBH, and hitting seven homers in a two-week span in August.

What does it mean? Greene went on a tear, and couldn't replicate it in St. Louis. So with a 71 OPS+ for the Cardinals in 2012, he finds himself with a "Change of Scenery" trade.

As Derrick Goold quotes manager Mike Matheny in his piece on the trade for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"I think we’ve seen it at times. It’s just the (lack of) consistency. There have been flashes of brilliance. Defensively, we’ve seen some plays to his glove side that not too many people would ever get to. We’ve seen power. We’ve seen speed. We’ve seen it all there...It’s the consistency. It’s not normally the talent."

A Cardinals fan tweeted at AC today (he's presumably a Cardinals fan - lots of shouting, and all. Clearly one of the best fans in America): chronic underachiever. raw talent, 10-cent head

We'll see. He'll get his fresh start, and with Jed Lowrie's seemingly unhealable injuries, he'll get pressure-free playing time. Maybe it'll turn into the consistency that has been expected of him, and maybe Jeff Luhnow will end up getting the most out of one of the first players he ever drafted.

Astros acquire Tyler Greene from Cardinals

The Astros acquired Tyler Greene from the Cardinals this morning for a PTBNL and/or cash. In response, the Astros DFA'ed Brian Bixler off of the 40-man roster, and there has not been a corresponding 25-man roster move as of yet.

The 28-year old - he'll be 29 next week - Greene is a utility man, primarily playing 2B, SS, and 3B, and was the Cardinals' 1st Round pick (30th overall) in the 2005 draft.

In 227 major-league games, Greene has hit .218/.295/.329, with 25 steals (and two caught stealin's). In 77 games (197 PAs), Greene has hit .218/.272/.358 with 56K:13BB.

He won't be arbitration-eligible until 2014, and won't be a free-agent (represented by Scott Boras) until 2017.

In four seasons at Triple-A (1204 PAs), Greene has hit .291/.373/.477, with 38 homers and 68 steals. Last season for Triple-A Memphis, Greene hit .323/.422/.579 with 14 homers, 75K:37BB.

PreStros Farm Report: August 8

PreStros: August 8

Oklahoma City (63-55) 

The RedHawks continued their slump and have now lost 10 of their last 11 games after losing to Sacramento (LAA) 8-7 in 10 innings.

Fernando Abad threw 3.2 innings and gave up 3 R on 5 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Brian Sanches pitched .1 innings and allowed 2 R on 3 H. Mark Hamburger went .2 innings, allowing 2 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Garrett Mock threw 1.1 innings, giving up 2 R on 3 H with 2 K. Hector Ambriz threw 2 innings and allowed 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Jose Valdez pitched 1.1 innings, allowing 1 unearned R on 2 H and 1 BB with 1 K.

C-Jason Castro was 1x3 with 1 BB and 1 HR. 3B-Matt Dominguez was 4x4 with 1 2B, 3 R, and 1 RBI. 2B-Angel Sanchez was 2x4 with 1 BB and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Matt Dominguez

*Notes: Angel Sanchez is hitting .452 over his last eight games. Brian Bixler is hitting just .091 since returning to OKC. The RedHawks have given up at least five runs in 20 of the last 25 games and their team ERA of 5.35 is the worst in the minors.

Corpus Christi (66-49) 

The Hooks were shutout by Arkansas (LAA) 4-0.

Paul Clemens threw 6 innings and gave up 1 R on 3 H and 3 BB with 5 K. Arcenio Leon went 1 inning, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Alex Sogard pitched 2 scoreless innings with 2 K.

SS-Andrew Simunic was 2x4.

Man of the Match: Paul Clemens

*Notes: The Hooks had the league’s best record in June (18-8) and July (20-10).

Lancaster (59-56) 

The JetHawks gave up four runs in the eighth to lose to High Desert (SEA) 8-6.

Blair Walters threw 5 innings and gave up 4 R on 6 H with 6 K. Jorge De Leon pitched 1.1 scoreless innings with 2 H and 1 K. Pat Urckfitz went .2 innings, allowing 3 R on 3 H with 1 K. Andrew Robinson took the final inning and gave up 1 R on 1 H.

SS-Alex Todd was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 2B, 1 HR, and 2 RBI. 1B-Erik Castro was 1x5 with 1 HR and 4 K. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 3x4 with 1 HR and 2 R. C-Carlos Perez went 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Alex Todd

*Notes: The JetHawks batters take up three of the top five spots on the leaderboard for most strikeouts. Telvin Nash leads the league with 151, George Springer is tied for third with 131, and Erik Castro is fifth with 127.

Lexington (65-50) 

Lexington continued their assault on the Sally League as they beat West Virginia (PIT) 6-3, their seventh win in eight games.

Luis Cruz went 6 innings, giving up 3 R on 7 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Evan Grills threw 2 scoreless innings with 1 BB. Dayan Diaz pitched 1 scoreless inning for this 18th save.

2B-Delino DeShields was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 2 R. DH-Brandon Meredith was 2x4 with 1 2B and 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Brandon Meredith

*Notes: Brandon Meredith has quietly moved up to 12th in the South Atlantic League in OPS (.906).

Tri-City (36-14) 

The ValleyCats lost a heartbreaker after going into the bottom of the ninth with a 2-0 lead before falling 3-2 to Aberdeen (BAL).

Aaron West threw 7 scoreless innings with 6 H and 8 K. Juan Minaya threw .1 innings with 2 BB. Jamaine Cotton pitched .2 innings with 1 H. Blake Ford took the loss in .1 innings, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 2 H and 1 BB.

1B-Jesse Wierzbicki was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 R. DH-Jobduan Morales was 2x3.

Man of the Match: Aaron West

*Notes: The ValleyCats have seven players named to the NYPL All-Star team. Andrew Aplin and Tyler Heineman were named as starters. Austin Elkins, Jobduan Morales, Aaron West, Brian Holmes, and Blake Ford also made the team. Morales will be competing in the Home Run Derby with Aplin as an alternate.

Greeneville (26-23) 

The Astros brought out the whoopin’ sticks to beat Pulaski (SEA) 9-4.

Francis Ramirez threw 5 innings and gave up 2 R on 5 H and 2 BB with 4 K. Brad Propst pitched 1 inning, allowing 1 R on 1 H and 1 BB. Jordan Jankowski threw 1 scoreless inning with 1 K. Andrew Walter pitched 2 innings and gave up 1 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 3 K.

3B-Angel Ibanez was 2x5 with 1 2B, 2 R and 1 RBI. 2B-Brian Blasik was 4x4 with 1 BB and 3 R. SS-Jean Batista went 2x4 with 1 2B, 2 R, and 4 RBI. RF-Ariel Ovando was 2x5 with 2 RBI. DH-Terrell Joyce was 2x5 with 1 2B and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Jean Batista


GCL Astros (21-23) 

The Astros held off a late charge by the Cardinals to win 6-5.

Raul Rivera went 5 innings, allowing 1 R on 5 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Ricardo Batista threw 1 scoreless inning. Gera Sanchez pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 R on 5 H. Erick Gonzalez pitched 2 innings and gave up 2 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 3 K.

SS-Carlos Correa was 3x5 with 1 3B, 2 R, and 2 RBI. DH-Rio Ruiz was 3x5 with 1 SB (of home!), 1 R, and 2 RBI. 3B-Darwin Rivera was 2x5. C-Alfredo Gonzalez was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Carlos Correa


DSL Astros (17-39) 



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G112 - Astros v. Nationals

Gio Gonzalez (13-6, 3.34) vs Armando Galarraga (0-1, 5.23)

If it's any consolation to Astros fans this series, they've lost three games to the winningest team in the majors, but at least they've lost all three games with the tying and/or winning runs on base. So they've been really close to winning three games against the winningest team in the majors. The other side of that coin, however, is that it's a crushing way to keep losing. Tonight's final: 4-3 Washington, and the 2012 Astros remain a game back of the 2011 Astros, at 36-76.

*New and exciting ways to lose! Tonight, Armando Galarraga allowed three runs on a balk, a hit batter, and a home run to the opposing pitcher. But his line was great if you like palindromes: 5 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 6 BB / 5 K. That was it for earned runs, as Xavier Cedeno and Rhiner Cruz each worked a scoreless inning on either side of Chuckie Fick's two innings of work. Fick allowed an unearned run on a Matt Downs throwing error, however, which ended up the difference in the game.


*Justin Maxwell remained hot and drove in Houston's first run, going 2 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout.

*Jose Altuve scored that first run, finishing 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, a steal, and a strikeout.

*J.D. Martinez went 1 for 3 with a run scored.

*Carlos Corporan went 0 for 3, but drove in Martinez on a sac fly.

*Brandon Barnes got his first big league hit on a single in the 9th, going 1 for 4 with a strikeout and a run scored, after Ben Francisco singled to drive him in.

*Steve Pearce (1 for 3) and Matt Downs (1 for 5, K) also had hits for Houston.

Turning Point:

Gio Gonzalez deserves credit for pitching a great game, but it looked like the Astros might finally get the better of him in the 9th. After a lead-off ground out by Corporan, Brandon Barnes singled, then advanced to second on a ground out by Marwin Gonzalez. Ben Francisco drove in Barnes on a single to make it 4-3, then Jose Altuve singled and advanced to second on the throw, putting the tying and winning runs in scoring position. Matt Downs struck out swinging to end the game.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. He only scored once, but he got on base and got himself into scoring position three times in five plate appearances.

Goat of the Game:

Matt Downs. His error in the 7th cost the Astros a run, then he struck out with the chance to be a hero in the 9th.

Would You Rather?

Let's take a look at seven pitchers early work, and you tell me which one you would bet to have the best major league future. If you figure out who any of these players are (at least one should be easy) before I reveal the answers tomorrow, please don't give away the answer. Just refer to them by letter in the comments. If you're dying to know, DM me on twitter and I'll tell you if you're right.

Age Innings ERA WHIP K/BB HR/9 Average Game Score
Pitcher A 24 187 5.43 1.55 1.8 1.2 50
Pitcher B 21 186 5.53 1.45 2.4 1.6 45
Pitcher C 26 180 6.76 1.87 1.2 1.5 39
Pitcher D 22 202 5.36 1.73 1.2 1.2 46
Pitcher E 25 152 5.73 1.5 2.3 1.7 47
Pitcher F 21 172 6.06 1.53 2.0 1.6 44
Pitcher G 21 187 5.59 1.66 1.4 1 43

Pitcher A is Gio Gonzalez
Pitcher B is Jordan Lyles
Pitcher C is Colby Lewis
Pitcher D is Ryan Dempster
Pitcher E is Ted Lilly
Pitcher F is Javier Vazquez
Pitcher G is Greg Maddux

Between the comments and twitter replies, five people voted for Jordan Lyles and one person voted for Ted Lilly.

This was not to say that Lyles will be better than any of them, just to provide a little perspective to those questioning his development based on his results to this point.

Seven ValleyCats named to NYPL All-Star Team

Seven members of the Tri-City ValleyCats have been named to the New York-Penn League All-Star Team. This makes sense, as the ValleyCats currently are three games up on Hudson Valley for the best record in the NYPL, and 12 games up on Vermont for the Stedler Division title. The All-Stars are...

OF Andrew Aplin: .356/.450/.550
C Tyler Heineman: .382/.465/.473
IF Austin "Catfish" Elkins: .318/.386/.465
C/1B Jobduan Morales: .285/.360/.480
SP Aaron West: 6-0, 1.05 ERA/0.74 WHIP
SP Brian Holmes: 5-1, 2.40 ERA/0.90 WHIP
RP Blake Ford: 2.14 ERA/1.10 WHIP, 12 saves

Morales will also participate in the Home Run Derby.

Jio Mier done with rehab

2009 1st Round pick Jio Mier, who has been out for three months with a hamstring injury, is done with his rehab, and presumably heading back to Lancaster, according to none other than Jio Mier.

Mier on track for his best season in full-season baseball, hitting .309/.414/.447 in 26 games for Lancaster before the injury. In five rehab games for the GCL Astros, he hit .214/.250/.286.

Jonathan Mayo praises Houston's future

Jonathan Mayo, MLB Draft & MiLB expert extraordinaire, has some very good things to say about the new state of the Astros' farm system and their business approach under new leadership.

From Bobby Heck:
"It was no secret that we were No. 30 in terms of our farm system," Heck said. "Now I think we've built it into a top-10 system."
If you need some happy after the last two games (and don't we all?), go read the whole thing and get excited.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G111 - Astros v. Nationals

Ross Detwiler (6-4, 3.02) vs Jordan Lyles (2-8, 5.95)

As the latest of their fan-friendly initiatives in 2012, the Astros have begun extending the end time of their remaining home games to going on midnight CDT. This will help fans adjust to the increased slate of Pacific Time Zone games when Houston moves to the AL West next season. As an added bonus, fans get more than 9 innings of baseball with each ticket purchase! Unfortunately for the 2012 Astros, extra innings mean more losses. At least they didn't make themselves an Internet laughingstock again, but still Houston loses 3-2 in 12, falling to 0-11 in extras and 36-75 overall.

*Jordan Lyles was rock solid last night, limiting the Nationals offense to two runs and three hits over seven innings complete. Both runs scored in the 2nd on a Danny Espinosa home run, but Lyles held Washington well in check after that, finishing with a 7 IP / 3 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 3 BB / 6 K line. The Houston bullpen was good again, with Wesley Wright, Fernando Rodriguez, Wilton Lopez, and Mickey Storey combining for four scoreless innings before Storey finally allowed the winning run to cross in the 12th.


*Houston's only two runs likewise came on an early 2-run homer, theirs by Ben Francisco in the 1st. Francisco went 1 for 4 with a walk.

*Jose Altuve walked ahead of Francisco's homer to account for the other run, adding a single later on to go 1 for 4 with a steal.

*Steve Pearce singled twice to go 2 for 4 with a walk.

*Matt Downs (1 for 3) was the only other Astro with a hit, but Scott Moore, Chris Snyder, and Carlos Corporan each added a walk.

*Brandon Barnes started in center field and made his MLB debut, going 0 for 3.

Turning Point:

After Washington scored in the top of the 12th to take the 3-2 lead, Pearce led off the bottom of the inning with a single off Nationals closer Tyler Clippard to give Houston hope. Moore popped up and J.D. Martinez struck out to make it one on with two away, but then Corporan worked a full-count walk to put the tying run in scoring position, and the winning run on base. That brought up Brett Wallace, who drove a 2-2 pitch deep to the wall in left center, but Roger Bernadina made a running, leaping, heartbreaking catch to end the game.

Man of the Match:

Jordan Lyles. This may have been his best game of the year, but as so often has been the story for Houston starters this season, the bats couldn't do enough in support to earn him a much-deserved win.

Goat of the Game:

I don't want to give it to Mickey Storey, who only made one bad pitch - a lead-off double to Michael Morse that turned into the winning run. Storey has pitched well in his brief stint in the big leagues so far, but his one mistake last night cost Houston the game.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Schafer to DL, Juan Abreu DFA'd

It's a bad day for Ed Wade's Michael Bourn trade. To make room on the active roster for Brandon Barnes, Jordan Schafer has been put on the 15-day DL with shoulder separation, and to make room on the 40-man roster, Juan Abreu has been designated for assignment.

Abreu, of course, came to the Astros along with Schafer, Paul Clemens, and Brett Oberholtzer in exchange for Bourn last season. He pitched in 7 games for Houston last season, posting a 2.70 ERA over 6.2 IP. But he never made it back to the bigs this season, putting up an ugly 7.09 ERA in 45.2 IP (38 games) with Oklahoma City.

Barnes, meanwhile, is in Houston and will make his ML debut tonight.

PreStros Farm Report: August 6

PreStros: August 6

Oklahoma City (63-53) 

The RedHawks lost for the eighth time in nine games, getting beat 4-3 by Salt Lake (LAA) in 10 innings.

Ross Seaton threw 5.1 innings, allowing 1 R on 3 H and 2 BB with 5 K. Mark Hamburger pitched 1.1 innings and gave up 2 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Jose Valdez threw 1.1 scoreless innings with 2 K. Hector Ambriz went 1.2 innings, allowing 1 R on 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K.

CF/2B-Jimmy Paredes was 2x5 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. 3B-Matt Dominguez was 2x4.

Man of the Match: Ross Seaton

*Notes: The team’s recent slump has put them 2.5 games behind Albuquerque for the division lead. On July 19 they had a two game lead.

Corpus Christi (66-48) 

Corpus couldn’t get out of the hole they dug by allowing a five run 1st inning as the Hooks lost to Midland (OAK) 8-4.

Matt Heidenreich couldn’t get an out as he gave up 5 R on 6 H. Jake Buchanan threw 4 innings, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 2 BB with 1 K. Adalberto Flores pitched 2.2 innings, giving up 1 R on 2 H with 6 K. Alex Sogard threw 1.1 innings with 1 H and 1 K.

RF-Drew Locke was 3x5 with 1 2B and 1 RBI. LF-Marc Krauss was 1x3 with 2 BB, 1 SB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. 3B-Bobby Borchering was 1x3 with 2 BB.

Man of the Match: Marc Krauss

*Notes: Marc Krauss was named Texas League player of the week after hitting .423 with 10 runs, five home runs, and 15 RBI.

Lancaster (58-55) 


*Notes: The JetHawks have the fewest errors in the California League.

Lexington (64-50) 

Lexington pitchers were able to work around giving up seven walks to lead the Legends to a 3-1 victory over Hagerstown (WAS).

Mike Foltynewicz threw 6 scoreless innings, allowing 2 H and 4 BB with 7 K. Murilo Gouvea pitched 2 scoreless innings and gave up 1 H and 2 BB with 2 K. Dayan Diaz took the final inning, giving up 1 R on 2 H and 1 BB with 2 K.

2B-Delino DeShields was 1x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. DH-Brandon Meredith was 1x3 with 1 BB and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Mike Foltynewicz

*Notes: Matt Duffy set two records for being hit by pitches. His three times getting hit Sunday were a Sally League record for most in one game, and his season total of 33 is a Sally League record for most in a season.

Tri-City (35-13) 

Tri-City won their fifth in a row, beating Mahoning Valley (CLE) 5-1.

Brady Rodgers went 6 innings, allowing 1 R on 5 H with 8 K. Jeremiah Meiners threw 3 scoreless innings with 1 H and 4 K.

SS-Joe Sclafani was 2x3 with 1 BB, 2 SB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. RF-Preson Tucker was 1x3 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Brady Rodgers

*Notes: The ValleyCats are first in the New York-Penn League in runs scored, home runs, steals, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Greeneville (25-21) 

The Astros dropped both ends of the doubleheader against Johnson City (STL), losing the first 8-2 and the second 5-1.

Game 1
Adrian Houser threw 4.1 innings, giving up 8 R on 8 H and 2 BB with 3 K. Mike Hauschild pitched 1.2 scoreless innings with 2 H, 1 BB, and 1 K. Andrew Walter went 1 scoreless inning with 3 H. CF-D’Andre Toney was 1x3 with 1 2B and 1 R. 3B-Angel Ibanez was 1x3 with 1 2B and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Angel Ibanez

Game 2
Lance McCullers threw 4 scoreless innings with 1 H, 4 BB, and 4 K. Joe Musgrove pitched 1.2 innings, giving up 1 R on 4 H and 1 BB. 3B-Angel Ibanez was 1x2 with 1 BB, 1 2B, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Lance McCullers


GCL Astros (20-21) 



DSL Astros (17-37) 

The Astros won for the first time since July 27 as they one-hit the Athletics, beating them 4-0.

Samil De Los Santos threw 5 shutout innings, allowing just 1 H and 2 BB with 8 K. Geronimo Franzua went .1 innings with 3 BB. Jesus Castillo pitched 2.2 innings with 1 BB and 1 K. Angel Heredia pitched 2 innings with 1 BB and 2 K.

CF-Jarico Reynoso was 3x5. SS-Luis Reynoso was 2x4. 2B-Jean Carlos Cortorreal was 1x4 with 1 3B, 1 R, and 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Samil De Los Santos


The case for moving Jordan Schafer

With Brandon Barnes' "Yes. No. Oh, yes." callup today, a corresponding move will have to be made. What will it be?

A lot of guys probably deserve to not have a major-league job, I'm of the opinion that Jordan Schafer should move on to a farm in Connecticut.

I don't have to tell you that Jordan Schafer hasn't played well this season. His .606 OPS is worst among all MLB outfielders - and that's with a .308 BABIP. His .302 SLG is 25 points worse than next-worst, Cameron Maybin. Also, keep in mind that the Astros currently officially have six outfielders on the roster (even though Matt Downs has been playing mostly infield). Adding Barnes, yet another outfielder, would leave at least six, potentially seven, outfielders on the active roster. Why bring the guy up if you're just going to sit him?

At this point, Schafer has 885 career MLB plate appearances, with a .224/.308/.304 line in those plate appearances. So his dismal season - worst among MLB outfielders - is only six points lower than his career line.

A similar case can be made for J.D. Martinez, Brian Bogusevic, and Ben Francisco. Maybe they'll be the ones on the move. But after 885 plate appearances, you should start to know what you have on your hands. Schafer has - by all accounts - been healthy for the first time this year. And, as the centerpiece in the Bourn deal, he may stick around to see if he can turn it around and act as the actual face of the franchise. Not the best face, but the most representative face, of the franchise.

Brandon Barnes called up

The Hooks, oddly enough, have tweeted that Brandon Barnes has been called up from Oklahoma City.

Barnes has hit .323/.383/.477 for Oklahoma City in 263 plate appearances (62 games) in 2012. He was the 6th Round pick by the Astros in 2005, and will join Brian Bogusevic and Tommy Manzella as the only 2005 picks to make it to Houston.

What does this mean for the 25-Man roster? Hard to say, but it will likely spark a domino effect of moves up and down the system.

Update: OR HAS HE! Zachary Levine just tweeted:
A guess, just a guess: Barnes told of callup. Astros were going to send a guy out when they arrived at MMP. Premature tweet, since deleted...

...Astros have not verified the Barnes callup. Don't have info on any corresponding move, whether DL, DFA, trade or option. Should know today.

Updated Update: Oh yes, Barnes is coming up. Corresponding move to come later today.

One frame, one season

Tell me this doesn't just sum everything up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

PreStros Farm Report: August 5

PreStros: August 5

Oklahoma City (63-52) 

The RedHawks lost for the seventh time in eight games, getting beat 6-4 by Salt Lake (LAA).

Rudy Owens went 5.2 innings and gave up 4 R on 6 H and 2 BB with 1 K. Brian Sanches threw 1.1 innings, allowing 2 R on 3 H with 2 K. Garrett Mock pitched 1 inning with 1 K.

DH-Fernando Martinez was 2x4 with 2 2B, 1 R, and 2 RBI. RF-Brad Snyder was 2x4 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Brad Snyder

*Notes: Despite a team ERA in July of 6.45, the RedHawks finished the month 16-12.

Corpus Christi (66-47) 

Corpus held off a late rally to beat Midland (OAK) 6-4.

Rob Rasmussen threw 6 innings, giving up 2 R on 7 H and 3 BB with 8 K. Josh Zeid pitched 1 scoreles inning with 1 BB and 2 K. Kevin Chapman went 1 inning, allowing 2 R on 1 H and 2 BB with 2 K. Jason Stoffel pitched 1 inning with 1 BB and 1 K, but allowed the two runners he inherited from Chapman to score.

CF-Robbie Grossman was 2x3 with 1 R. 2B-Jose Martinez was 2x5 with 1 2B, 2 R, and 1 RBI. LF-Marc Krauss was 2x4 with 1 BB and 1 R. 1B-Jonathan Singleton was 2x4 with 2 RBI. SS/3B-Andy Simunic went 2x4 with 1 R.

Man of the Match: Jose Martinez

*Notes: Jason Castro, who has been rehabbing in Corpus, is expected to join OKC to continue his rehab.

Lancaster (58-55) 

The JetHawks held a two run lead heading into the seventh, but ultimately lost 4-2 to High Desert (SEA).

Colton Cain pitched 6 innings, giving up 2 R on 6 H and 2 BB with 6 K. Jorge De Leon pitched 1 scoreless inning with 2 H. Pat Urckfitz threw .1 innings with 1 H. Carlos Quevedo pitched 1.2 innings and gave up 2 R on 2 H with 1 K.

DH-Chris Epps was 2x3 with 1 2B and 1 RBI. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Colton Cain

*Notes: The JetHawks have the fewest errors in the California League.

Lexington (63-50) 

The Legends offense unloaded on Hagerstown (WAS), beating them 16-6.

Chris Devenski threw 5 innings, giving up 4 R (3 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB with 5 K. Nathan Pettus pitched 3 innings and allowed 2 R on 5 H and 2 BB with 3 K. Mitchell Lambson took the final inning with 1 K.

2B-Delino DeShields was 2x4 with 3 SB, 1 R, and 2 RBI. LF-Brandon Meredith was 4x6 with 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, and 3 RBI. RF-Emilio King was 2x6 with 1 2B and 2 R. CF-Jordan Scott went 2x5 with 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 2B, and 2 R. DH/3B-Jose Fernandez was 2x6 with 2 R. C-Cristian Moronta was 3x5 with 1 BB, 2 2B, 3 R, and 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Cristian Moronta

*Notes: Matt Duffy set two records for being hit by pitches. His three times getting hit yesterday were a Sally League record for most in one game, and his season total of 33 is a Sally League record for most in a season.

Tri-City (34-13) 

Tri-City won their fourth in a row, beating Mahoning Valley (CLE) 5-4.

Joe Bircher threw 6.2 innings and gave up 4 R on 10 H and 2 BB with 2 K. Travis Ballew pitched 1.1 innings with 1 H and 3 K. Blake Ford pitched 1 inning with 1 BB.

SS-Joe Sclafani was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. DH-Tyler Heineman was 2x2 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. RF-Preson Tucker was 2x4 with 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Joe Sclafani

*Notes: The ValleyCats are first in the New York-Penn League in runs scored, home runs, steals, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Greeneville (25-19) 


*Notes: The G-Stros have a 2 game lead for the second playoff spot in the West Division.

GCL Astros (20-21) 


*Notes: Lance McCullers has been promoted to Greeneville.

DSL Astros (16-37) 


*Notes: Writing recaps for a team that loses this much isn’t fun. I guess this is how the County Clerk must feel. (Hiyo!)

Jim Callis on Ariel Ovando

I've seen and answered several questions about Ovando's performance so far this year at Greeneville, but I'm always eager to see what those with much more experience judging prospects have to say about our PreStros. Over at Baseball America, Jim Callis answers one reader's questions about Ovando.

While Ovando has made some encouraging progress in 2012, he's still far from a finished product.

I agree with Callis' view here. While Ovando's batting average may look a bit shinier, his walk and strikeout rates are essentially the same they were last year, and his power numbers haven't increased by any statistically meaningful amount, either. I have heard that his defense looks much better this season, and the numbers prove that out so far. In all, Ovando is still very raw.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G109 - Astros @ Braves

Bud Norris (5-8, 5.02) vs Kris Medlen (2-1, 2.43)

For 5 1/2 innings, the Astros were looking good. The score was tied at 1, but Houston had outhit Atlanta 6-3, and Bud Norris looked sharper than converted reliever Kris Medlen. But in an all-too-familiar story, the wheels came off for the Astros late, and the Braves came away with a 6-1 win. The Astros bid farewell to Chipper Jones and long-time NL rival Atlanta by losing the season series, 4 games to 2, and dropping to 36-73 overall.

*Bud had been sharp in his last two starts, and he looked just as sharp today until the 6th. Unfortunately then he ran into big trouble, so his final 6 IP / 7 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 3 BB / 7 K line was uglier than it looked through the first five. The bullpen also had trouble limiting the damage, as Xavier Cedeno and Rhiner Cruz each gave up a run in their respective innings.


*Justin Maxwell's big game yesterday earned him another start today, and he capitalized again, going 2 for 4 with a double that drove in what was the tying run at the time in the 6th.

*Brett Wallace also had a pair of hits, singling twice to finish 2 for 4.

*Marwin Gonzalez singled ahead of Maxwell's double in the 6th, scoring the Astros' only run. Marwin would end up 1 for 3 with a walk.

*Jose Altuve started a new hitting streak, going 1 for 5 with a single and a steal in the 7th.

Turning Point:

With the score tied 1-1 going to the bottom of the 6th, Bud gave up three singles scattered around two outs to load the bases, but no runs had yet crossed the plate. Weak-hitting shortstop Paul Janish came to bat next (.197 coming into today), so you liked Bud's chances of escaping with the score still tied, but his second pitch was way high and wild, allowing Chipper to score from third with the go-ahead run. Adding insult to insult, Janish then singled up the middle on a 2-2 pitch to drive in two more.

Man of the Match:

Justin Maxwell, again. Two straight strong showings from J-Max starting in center.

Goat of the Game:

Bud Norris. Tough to give it to him after five great innings, but the Janish at bat should have been an out, and it resulted in a three-run deficit instead.