Saturday, August 25, 2012
Major league club
SP1 Roy Oswalt
SP2 Wandy Rodriguez
SP3 Brett Myers
SP4 Bud Norris
SP5 Felipe Paulino
CL Matt Lindstrom
SU Brandon Lyon
MR Fernando Rodriguez
MR Wilton Lopez
MR Rhiner Cruz
MR Wesley Wright
MR Fernando Abad
1B Lance Berkman
2B Jeff Keppinger
SS Angel Sanchez
3B Chris Johnson
LF Carlos Lee
CF Michael Bourn
RF Hunter Pence
C Jason Castro
BE Jason Bourgeois
BE Brian Bogusevic
BE Marwin Gonzalez
BE Matt Downs
BE Humberto Quintero
WOW!! Now that's a major league team, right? Ok, but how would that change the Astros' win-loss record? For simplicity's sake, we'll assume that everyone performs the same in Houston as they have away from Houston, and we'll use differences in WAR to add (or subtract) wins. Fair enough? Let's begin.
Pitching: Currently, Astros pitchers have accumulated exactly 0.0 WAR according to Baseball-Reference. The group listed about would be an improvement of about 6.3 WAR, with a good bit of that improvement coming from Paulino and Lindstrom, of all people. Oswalt has been worth -0.4 WAR for Texas this year.
Hitting: Surprisingly, the 2012 Astros batters have totaled 3.0 WAR. The Team of Awesomeness (patent pending) has put together 8.6 WAR, with 5.4 coming from Bourn, for an improvement of 5.6 WAR.
That's a total improvement of 11.9 WAR! Compared to our current record of 40-87, the Team of Awesomeness would be 52-75!!! Now that's a team that would command the respect of the rest of the league.
So, how much would the Astros be paying for this Team of Awesomeness? Just $93.7 Million! I don't need to expound on that, do I?
State of the Farm
The Astros current top 20 prospects, according to Jonathan Mayo, are:
1. Jon Singleton
2. Jarred Cosart
3. George Springer
4. Matt Dominguez
5. Jonathan Villar
6. Mike Foltynewicz
7. Kevin Comer
8. Joe Musgrove
9. Paul Clemens
10. Brett Oberholtzer
11. Delino DeShields
12. Asher Wojciechowski
13. Domingo Santana
14. Rob Rasmussen
15. Telvin Nash
16. Carlos Perez
17. Austin Wates
18. Robbie Grossman
19. Kevin Chapman
20. Rudy Owens
That impressive list of prospects has some experts saying that Houston could have a top 10 farm system next season, after ranking in the bottom 5 or so for the past five seasons. Without the trades of the past few seasons, only Springer, Folty, DeShields, Nash, and Wates would remain.
So to sum up, if the Astros "would have kept..." they'd have a 5th place team getting paid over $90 million while missing out on 15 of their top 20 prospects for the future.
Now, I know that rebuilding is a painful process. Nobody likes being a fan of the worst team in the major leagues, but don't take out that frustration on the current leadership of the franchise. The truth is that had the club not chosen to embark upon this painful journey this season would likely be almost as embarrassing, but with a much scarier outlook for the future.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
*After losing the lead, they scratched out a walk and four singles (no runs) over the final four frames.
*Five Astros had multi-hit games, accounting for all of Houston's 11 hits.
*Ben Francisco went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored.
*Fernando Martinez was 2 for 4 with two doubles, a walk, and two runs scored.
*Brett Wallace went 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored.
*Jose Altuve went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
*Altuve, Keuchel, and Scott Moore had the sacrifice flies.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Today Brian McTaggart said that's not true.
We'll see how it plays out. Obviously, we're not happy with McTaggart's status, as it makes us look like schmoes, but we'll see. And you likely won't believe us the next time we do something like this.
Update: There's no way I'm telling you who the source is, but we're sticking by the rumor. If you knew who the source was, you'd believe it, too. Ausmus may not get hired, but I whole-heartedly believe he has interviewed.
Round Rock scored the final three runs of the game to take a 4-1 win over OKC. Rudy Owens threw 6IP, allowing 4H/2ER, with 4K:3BB and an HBP. Enerio Del Rosario gave up 2H/2ER in 1IP, and Garrett Mock allowed a hit in the scoreless 8th.
Matt Dominguez was 3x4 with the lone run scored; Brad Snyder was 2x4 with two doubles, and Angel Sanchez was 1x3 with an RBI. The JetHawks struck out 11 times, with Matt Downs leading the way with 3Ks.
Man of the Match: Matt Dominguez.
Corpus was up 1-0 heading into the bottom of the 6th, and then got six runs over the 6th and 7th innings for a 7-1 win over Midland. Bobby Doran had a great outing, allowing 4H/0ER, 10K:2BB in 5.1IP; Alex Sogard threw 2.2IP in relief, allowing 1H/0ER, 3K:1BB, and Arcenio Leon gave up 3H/1ER in 1IP.
Robbie Grossman was 2x4 with a double, a homer, and a walk; Austin Wates was 2x4 with an RBI triple. Jon Singleton was 0x2, but drew three walks and scored two runs. George Springer was 1x4 with his first stolen base for Corpus.
Man of the Match: Bobby Doran.
Nuts game in Lancaster, as the JetHawks and Rancho Cucamonga combined for 19 runs and 23 hits, resulting in a 13-6 JetHawks win. Nick Tropeano threw 7IP, 5H/4R (0ER), with 7K:1BB; Kenny Long was charged with a run that Jorge De Leon gave up in his 3H/1ER in 1.2IP of work.
Erik Castro was 3x5 with a double, a solo homer, and a grand slam, getting 6RBI on the night. Domingo Santana went 3x4, with a double and a walk. Delino DeShields was 2x4 with a triple, walk, stolen base, and 2RBI; Jio Mier had another 2-hit game.
Man of the Match: Erik Castro.
Greensboro scored two runs in the top of the 11th inning for a 3-1 win at Lexington last night. Mike Foltynewicz threw 6IP, 4H/1R (0ER), 10K:2BB in a strong start. Murilo Gouvea and Dayan Diaz each threw two scoreless innings, combining for seven strikeouts, and Tommy Shirley took the loss, giving up 3H/2ER in the 11th.
Jordan Kreke and Zach Johnson (2B, RBI) had four of the Legends' five hits, with Jobduan Morales getting the other knock.
Man of the Match: Mike Foltynewicz
Break up the ValleyCats! They win again, 5-2 at Brooklyn. Juri Perez went 6IP, 7H/2ER, 5K:1BB, and Jeremiah Meiners recorded his 2nd save with 3IP, 1H/0ER, 3K:0BB.
Jesse Wierzbicki was 3x5 with an RBI; Preston Tucker was 1x3 with two walks, 2RBI, and an outfield assist; Dan Gulbransen was 1x2 and was HBPed twice.
Man of the Match: Preston Tucker
Elizabethton scored four runs in the final three innings to take a 7-5 win over Greeneville. Francis Ramirez threw 3IP, 3H/3ER, 4K:2BB; Andrew Walter allowed a hit and two walks, recording three Ks while throwing 1IP; Joe Musgrove took the loss, allowing 4H/3ER, 3K:2BB in 2.2IP; and Zach Dando allowed 2H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 1.1IP.
The Gastros, who were 1x10 w/RISP and left 9 LOBsters, got two hits - one of them a homer - and two walks from Terrell Joyce, who now has five straight 2-hit games. Rio Ruiz hit his 1st professional homer in the first inning, as did Marc Wik. Jose Fernandez drew three walks.
Man of the Match: Terrell Joyce.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
As you know, we take these "Breaking News" and "Sources" things seriously. The situation is obviously fluid, and we'll have more as it develops.
Let's take the timing into account. If you read the comments made by Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow about Mills, they really didn't have much negative to say. "The Chemistry Wasn't Right" sounded to me like it was the, "It's not you, it's me" excuse that I heard all too often in high school and college. How heartfelt those words are, only Crane and Luhnow know.
Buster Olney ripped the Astros in his Insider-Only blog post from yesterday (you can find it on your own, if you so choose) for the timing of the Mills firing, coming on the heels of Arizona's bi-annual nut-punching of the Astros, so that it looked as though Mills was being fired for losing a 12-4 game at home, and it was DISRESPECTFUL, and HOWDARETHEY....
I honestly do not believe that was the Astros' objective. Keep in mind that the new Apparatus has a fairly keen sense of timing. Jim Crane set Houston abuzz by floating the possibility of a name change in the middle of January. In retrospect, it was genius (even if it took me a few days to see it as such). The Texans were done. There was nothing on the horizon in the Houston sports landscape when Crane had his press conference. All of a sudden, everyone was talking about the Astros in January. Most likely, more people were talking about the Astros in January than they are now.
So I don't believe Olney's critique, for no other reason than it seems like he only pays attention to the Astros in terms of "THE ASTROS HAVE LOST ELEVENTY-NIX GAMES IN A ROW." If you take Crane and Luhnow's statements at face value, the Astros had been pondering a move for about a week. Yet they fired Mills and two coaches on Saturday night, after the loss.
If they wanted to make a spectacle of the whole situation, they would have done it when it made the most sense - yesterday, during an off-day. Yet they did it on Saturday night, about 11pm. What had just finished? The Texans' 2nd preseason game. And what do the overwhelming majority of Houston sports fans care about now? The Texans. My own father, who loves the Astros (and Mariners - he's going to have a hard time next year), called me yesterday and said, "When did the Astros fire Mills?" He totally missed it, because he was watching the Texans game, and the post-game reaction. How the Astros treated Mills felt - to me, and you're welcome to disagree - like a mercy killing. It was a back-door out of the Astros in a way that would bring as little publicity as possible.
Still, it's Mills' legacy that is the most troubling. Brad Mills' .383 win% is the worst winning percentage in team history among managers who were at the helm for more than 13 games (Dave Clark has the record at .308, going 4-9 filling in for Cecil Cooper at the end of 2009). That's worse than 1962-1964 inaugural manager Harry Craft, who won 20 more games (in 27 more games managed) than Mills. Was Mills a bad manager?
Who knows? Mills signed up to manage Bourn, Berkman, Pence, and Oswalt. After leading the Astros to a 76-86 record in his first full season, he actually finished 6th in the NL Manager of the Year voting - the only manager with a losing record to receive a vote that year. And that was after dealing with the loss of Berkman and Oswalt. Then came the loss of Bourn and Pence mid-season 2011. All that was left was a replacement-level Carlos Lee, and then Lowrie got hurt. Also remember that, though Jed Lowrie hasn't played since July 14, he's still leading the team in homers. What manager could have done more with what he was given? He didn't sign up to be the manager of a complete rebuild. But herein lies Mills' legacy:
He could have been The Hero. By the time he was fired, Mills had been around longer than anyone else in the organization, except for Wesley Wright. Mills could have been the rock. He could have embraced his role as the caretaker of a decrepit mansion - and likely been embraced by the fans. We love a good steam-rolling story. A guy comes in, does his job, gets flat-out rolled by circumstances, yet keeps his head up, he earns the respect of his fans.
No fan spent any amount of time looking at the Astros' Pythagorean Record and thought, "By God, if we had a halfway decent manager, we'd be 44-78!" Mills had been given every opportunity to take a pass, and ultimately - years down the road - be the hero for sticking it out through the lean years.
Every GM has the right to hire their own guy - they'd be silly not to. But Mills had been given an extra year to make his case to be The Guy and, somehow, nutted it. We have no idea how much of Mills' strategy, movement, lineups were in response to what he was being told by the Organization. A well-placed interview (call us, Brad Mills) would clear an awful lot of that up. He won't, because he seems like a class guy. For God's sake, he went to Panama to tuck Carlos Lee in at night, and make sure he knew when his plane left for Kissimmee. Yet the bunting, defensive positioning, and lineup creation enraged fans - fans who honestly weren't expecting the Astros to win.
I ultimately think that what happened to Mills was a result of a host of numerous external factors, and like a young hitter, could not adjust to the adjustments.
Monday, August 20, 2012
So the question is: Will Sugar Land outdraw an Astros game? Keep in mind, the Astros have only enjoyed eight games with over 30,000 in attendance: Opening Day, all three Rangers games, inter-league games against the Royals (?) (!) and Indians, and games against the Pirates and Dodgers. They've had seven games with attendance under 15,000.
So what do you say? How many 2012 Astros home games will the Skeeters game outdraw?
The Astros are beginning the managerial search immediately. Meanwhile, minor league hitting instructor Ty Van Burkleo is the interim hitting coach, and special assistant to the GM Dan Radison (formerly in the Cardinals' organization) is the interim first-base coach.
The hope is to have a manager in place by November, and a short list of names has already been compiled.
Luhnow, on the timing:
"It was about a week ago that we made a decision that we weren't going to renew Brad for next year," Luhnow said. "Once that decision was made, in thinking through the logic, it made sense to make these changes sooner rather than later, not have a lame-duck administration really."
Brad Mills seemed to be relieved by his firing.
But there's something to be said for sticking to a plan. And sometimes sticking to it can be harder than figuring out what the right plan is."
"I like the philosophy. I wholeheartedly endorse the process. I don't know if it will work. (Luhnow) doesn't know if it will work. It all depends on if these guys get better. If they already were better, you couldn't get three of them for one major league player."
Jeff Gordon, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, of course, had some things to say. When he quoted DeFrancesco's desire to help move the Astros in the right direction:
Yeah, well, good luck with that. Real progress is at least a few years away.
Maury Brown has a post in Baseball Prospectus about Jim Crane, the Astros, and payroll:
What the Astros really are is three seasons into a five-year rebuilding plan that’s certainly going to need more than five years to come to fruition...
OKC scored the last five runs of the game, erasing a 2-0 deficit for a 5-2 win over Round Rock. Fernando Abad pitched well in his third start of the season, allowing 6H/2ER, 3K:1BB in 5.1IP. Mark Hamburger got the win - his first of the season - allowing 1H/0ER, 1K:1BB in 1.2IP. Hector Ambriz allowed four baserunners in 1.2IP, but didn't allow a run, and Jose Valdez struck out the last batter of the game for his 16th save.
Carlos Corporan led the way with a 3x4, 3RBI game; while Brad Snyder added the other RBI. Matt Downs and J.B. Shuck had a hit and a walk. Jimmy Paredes was 0x5 with 2GIDPs.
Man of the Match: Carlos Corporan
Corpus took a 3-0 lead in the 4th and never gave it up, winning 7-1 at Springfield. Paul Clemens improved to 2-2 at Corpus with 7IP, 6H/1R (0ER, 3K:1BB, WP, and an HBP. Alex Sogard have up two hits and no runs in 0.2IP, and Jason Stoffel got a 4-out save, his 23rd of the year.
The top four in the lineup - Austin Wates (BB, 2RBI), Andy Simunic (RBI), Jon Singleton (2B, BB), and Jake Goebbert (BB, HR, 3RBI) - had two hits each. Kike Hernandez also had two hits. George Springer managed a hit, but also three walks.
Man of the Match: Jake Goebbert
The JetHawks held Inland Empire to three hits in the series finale and improved to one game over .500 with a 6-0 road win. The fifth start was the lucky one for Blair Walters, who had allowed 9ER, 5ER, 4ER, and 2ER in his first four starts, respectively. Walters threw 6IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:3BB for his first win since coming over from the White Sox in the Myers trade. Chia-Jen Lo threw 2IP, 1H/0ER, lowering his ERA to 1.26. Kenny Long walked one in 0.2IP and Andrew Robinson got the final out of the game.
Jio Mier was 2x4 with 3RBI, and Domingo Santana was 2x4 with an RBI. Grant Hogue was 1x3 with 2RBI. Delino DeShields was 1x4 with his 4th stolen base. As WTHB noted yesterday, he is now tied for the Astros' minor-league stolen base record, with 87 on the season.
Man of the Match: Blair Walters.
Postponed due to wet grounds.
Tri-City was all over Staten Island with an 11-0 win that saw ValleyCats pitchers holding the Yankees to three hits. Joe Bircher allowed just 2H/0ER, 6K:2BB in 6IP; Euris Quezada, Scott Zuloaga, and Blake Ford threw a combined 3IP, allowing 1H/0ER, 3K:0BB.
Preston Tucker hit a 3-run homer and added another RBI while Joe Sclafani (3B, BB, RBI), Jesse Wierzbicki (RBI), Austin Elkins (2B, RBI), and Emilio King (RBI) had two hits each. Neiko Johnson drew two walks, and M.P. Cokinos and Jarrod McKinney had a hit and a walk each.
Man of the Match: Joe Bircher
Burlington jumped out to a 5-0 lead and didn't look back on their way to an 8-4 win over Greeneville. Lance McCullers threw 3IP, 5H/3ER, 6K:2BB; Brad Propst threw a scoreless inning; Kevin Comer made his organizational debut, throwing 3IP, giving up 4H/1ER, 2K:1BB; Richard Rodriguez (Rich-Rod, anyone? Anyone?) allowed 4H/2ER in 1.2IP, and Michael Dimock got the last out of the game.
Terrell Joyce hit his 6th homer of the year, and Ernesto Genoves hit a 3-run shot, his 5th of the year.
Man of the Match: Kevin Comer.
GCL Astros (25-27)
There's too much good stuff to break out a "money quote" so just go read it.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
First, look tomorrow morning for the Mills reaction piece. After 2,800 words, it was time to start over.
To replace Tony DeFrancesco, roving instructor Tom Lawless has been named as OKC's manager and will join the team tomorrow. (Captip to AZ Freeman).