Saturday, August 25, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G127 - Astros @ Mets

Fernando Abad (0-0, 3.86) vs R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.82)

Fernando Abad wasn't bad at all, making his first Major League start in a faceoff with leading Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey. The Astros couldn't break through against Dickey's knuckleball, however, and they found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 score this afternoon at Citi Field. It's the first game Houston has lost to the Mets this season, dropping them to 40-87 overall.

*Abad's biggest mistake came with the glove, allowing a run as he and Jason Castro collided while attempting to field an infield squibbler by Dickey in the 4th. Fernando only went four innings, as he's still new to this starting thing, but he did okay altogether, posting this line: 4 IP / 4 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 4 BB / 2 K. Mickey Storey came in next for two innings, and allowed Justin Turner's first home run of the season. Hector Ambriz pitched a scoreless 7th, then Fernando Rodriguez allowed a single and got a strikeout before Xavier Cedeno let in the run on two more singles before getting the final two outs.


*The Astros only scratched out five singles and a walk in seven innings against Dickey, but he was aided by a pair of double-play grounders.

*Brandon Barnes was the only Astro to reach base more than once, going 1 for 2 with a walk. He also added an outfield assist in the 3rd, nailing Andres Torres at second trying to stretch a single into a double.

*Scott Moore went 0 for 3, but he scored the only Houston run after getting hit by a pitch, moving to third on a single, then coming home on a Dickey wild pitch.

*Fernando Martinez (1 for 4), Tyler Greene (1 for 4), Jason Castro (1 for 3), and Brian Bogusevic (1 for 3) had the other four Houston hits.

*Greene has hit safely now in 9 of 11 games started with the Astros.

Turning Point:

Down 2-0 in the 7th, R.A. Dickey hit Scott Moore with a knuckler, then Tyler Greene singled to move Moore around to third. Jason Castro lined to second for the first out, but then Dickey's second pitch to Brandon Barnes bounced short and got away, letting Moore in to cut the lead in half. Barnes walked to put the go-ahead run on base with only one out, but Bogusevic grounded into a double play to end the inning. The Astros never had another base runner after that.

Man of the Match:

Brandon Barnes. Reached base twice in three plate appearances, and erased a Mets base runner with his arm. In a close game like this, Barnyard did plenty to help his team win.

Goat of the Game:

Steve Pearce (whom the Giants are interested in, btw). He only got one at bat, pinch hitting for Abad with the bases loaded and one out in the 5th, but he grounded into his own double play to kill Houston's biggest scoring threat. 

What if?

I know that most of our readers are sophisticated enough to realize that a drastic rebuild was and is a necessary evil in order to get the Astros franchise as a whole back on the right track. However, browsing the comments section of the Chronicle, among other entities that, by necessity, cater to the lowest common denominator of Astros fan, reveals that a disturbingly large number of fans still lament "Should of kept (insert player traded away here)". So let's see what the team, and franchise, would like like if we "would of kept..." as we try to go back and undo every trade since the Oswalt deal. For this exercise we also need to assume that everyone whose contract has since expired decided to re-sign with Houston...because of course they would. We'll look at this scenario three way: how the major league club  would look, how the club's payroll would  look, and how the franchise's future (minor league system) would look.

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

From the Office of the County Clerk: G126 - Astros @ Mets

Jordan Lyles (2-10, 5.70) vs Jon Niese (10-6, 3.49)

"Let's start a winning streak!" Lucas Harrell said. "Oh yes, let's," said the rest of the team. Jordan Lyles was on point, the bullpen backed him up, and the offense did enough to send the Astros to a 3-1 win. They break the seven-game losing streak with their 13th road win and (finally!) their 40th overall, putting Tony DeFrancesco in the MLB winner's column for the first time.

*Only an umpire-reviewed solo home run by David Wright kept Jordan Lyles from a scoreless outing. He limited the Mets to just three hits in his six innings, ending up with a 6 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 4 K line. Wesley Wright allowed only a single in his inning of work, Fernando Rodriguez allowed only a walk in this 0.2, then Wilton Lopez sealed the deal with 1.1 perfect.


*Lyles did it on both sides of the ball tonight, helping his own cause with a RBI double, and finishing 1 for 2.

*Brandon Barnes scored on Lyles' double, which he immediately preceded with a RBI double of his own, going 1 for 3 on the night.

*Tyler Greene (1 for 4) added onto Houston's total with a solo home run off Jon Niese in the 7th. It was Greene's third home run with the Astros in 42 AB, to go with the four he had in 179 AB for St. Louis.

*Chris Snyder continued swinging the bat well, going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. His hitting streak is up to five games now, with a .438 average (7 for 16) over that span.

Turning Point:

Steve Pearce and Tyler Greene both struck out to begin the 2nd inning, but Chris Snyder worked a walk thereafter. Barnes and Lyles followed with their back-to-back RBI doubles, giving Houston a 2-0 lead that they would never relinquish.

Man of the Match:

Jordan Lyles don't need no stinkin' DH! Great job on the mound, earning him his third win this season, and he got the game-winning RBI to boot.

Goat of the Game:

Aren't we all just happy when the Astros win? No goat again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G125 - Astros @ Cardinals

Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 4.99) vs Jake Westbrook (12-9, 3.50)

It was a tale of two games for the Astros. Through the midway point, Houston was playing well, fighting back, and had never trailed, leading 5-3. Then the train jumped the tracks on the bridge over the ravine. The Astros blew a lead for the 44th time this season and never recovered, falling by a 13-5 final. St. Louis completes the sweep, the Astros lose their 7th straight, and they still can't get that 40th win - now 39-86 in 2012.

*Dallas Keuchel started out very strong, allowing only one base runner on a single through the first 3.2 innings. A walk/double/homer trifecta then got the Cardinals on the board, but Keuchel escaped the inning thereafter still holding a 4-3 lead. After that... well, he finished with this line: 4 IP / 5 H / 6 R / 5 ER / 1 BB / 2 K. Hector Ambriz came on to make his Astros debut in a bases-loaded, no-out situation, and he didn't do well, allowing all three inherited runners and two of his own to score. Mickey Storey allowed a run in two innings, Xavier Cedeno managed three runs while recording only one out, and Rhiner Cruz finished up with a run and four hits in the final 0.2.


*The offense, as noted, was admirable through the first five innings, jumping on Jake Westbrook for five runs on seven hits, two walks, and three sacrifice flies.

*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.

Turning Point:

That dagblasted bottom of the 5th. Single, single, error Wallace on a sac bunt, Keuchel out. Ambriz in, single (run), double (3 runs), strikeout, single (run), out on a rundown, walk, strikeout. A 5-3 Astros lead was flipped to an 8-5 deficit, and ultimately the 13-5 loss.

Man of the Match:

Fernando Martinez. He's struggled in Houston so far, but perhaps more regular playing time is helping him turn that around.

Goat of the Game:

Everyone in an Astros uniform that touched the pitching rubber today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G124 - Astros @ Cardinals

Bud Norris (5-10, 5.23) vs Kyle Lohse (12-2, 2.61)

BudChuck did what BudChuck does, and dominated the Cardinals. Every Astros hit was an extra-base hit, and they homered twice tonight. Unfortunately for Houston, Kyle Lohse also did what Kyle Lohse does, minimizing the damage and keeping Bud Norris winless since three months ago. Astros fall 4-2, putting the latest losing streak at six, and dropping to 39-85 on the season.

*It's an indictment of the Astros' offense that Bud Norris still hasn't won a game since May 21. He's now tossed six quality starts in his last nine games, but has been charged with a loss in four of those six. Bud's losing line tonight: 6 IP / 7 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 1 K. Wesley Wright pitched 1.1 perfect innings in relief, then Fernando Rodriguez came in and allowed St. Louis to tack on an insurance run in his 0.2.


*Lucky for the Astros that two of their three hits tonight were home runs, or the offense would have looked even worse. The three hits were Houston's fewest since Edinson Volquez one-hit them back on July 19.

*Brett Wallace got the Astros out to an early 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the first. He finished 1 for 4.

*After the Cards tied the score in the bottom of the 2nd, Chris Snyder pushed Houston out in front again with his solo shot in the 3rd. He finished 1 for 2, and also worked the Astros' only walk on the night.

*Jose Altuve doubled soon after Snyder's home run in the 3rd, for Houston's final hit. He ended up 1 for 4.

Turning Point:

Leading 2-1 midway through the 5th, Bud Norris was in the driver's seat, and it looked like Houston might just steal one against the Cardinals' ERA leader. What happened next was not a terrible inning, but it would end up costing Bud the game. Rafael Furcal led off the bottom of the 5th with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt by Lohse, then scored on a Jon Jay single. Jay moved around to third, then scored on a wild pitch two batters later, giving St. Louis the 3-2 lead. The Astros wouldn't manage another base runner until the 8th, so that was all the scoring that the Cards would need.

Man of the Match:

Chris Snyder. He's got himself a mini four-game hitting streak now, going 5 for 13 (.385) with two home runs over that stretch.

Goat of the Game:

Every Astros hitter not named Snyder, Wallace, or Altuve.

Armando Galarraga DFA'ed

Brian McTaggart is tweeting that Armando Galarraga has been designated for assignment, and the Astros have purchased the contract of OKC's Hector Ambriz. More to come...

McTaggart refutes Ausmus rumor

So you may have noticed yesterday that we quoted a source - who we feel is completely reliable - that Brad Ausmus had interviewed for the Astros managerial job (twice).

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.

PreStros Morning Report (for games of): Aug 21

Oklahoma City (68-62)

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 (73-54)

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.

Lancaster (65-62)

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.

Lexington (67-59)

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

Tri-City (44-17)

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

Greeneville (33-28)

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

From the Office of the County Clerk: G123 - Astros @ Cardinals

Lucas Harrell (10-8, 3.81) vs Adam Wainwright (11-10, 3.87)

Maybe it was Houston's continued road woes. Maybe it was the odd bad day for Lucas Harrell. Maybe it was the change in his catching partner, or maybe they just ran into a buzzsaw in Adam Wainwright tonight. Blame whatever you will, but it was another rough night for the Astros as they started the final 40-game stretch of their forgettable 2012 season. Wainwright went wire to wire for the third time this year, recording his second shutout by a 7-0 margin, and dropping Houston to 38-84 overall.

*Dave Raymond noted before the game that Chris Snyder had caught Lucas Harrell's previous 20 starts, but Jason Castro had much better career numbers against Wainwright, so Castro got the start tonight. Whether it was the disruption of Harrell's routine, or if he was just overdue for a bad start, it was apparent from the outset that tonight was not the Lucas Harrell we've all come to admire this season. Harrell's line: 5 IP / 8 H / 6 R / 6 ER / 3 BB / 3 K. Chuckie Fick gave up a run in two thirds of an inning against his old mates, then Rhiner Cruz and Xavier Cedeno combined for 2.1 scoreless.


*Three singles, two doubles, and a walk were all that the Astros would manage against Adam Wainwright tonight, contrasted against 12 strikeouts.

*Jason Castro still has Wainwright's number, I guess, as he was the only Astro to reach base more than once, going 1 for 3 with the lone walk.

*Ben Francisco (1 for 4) and Steve Pearce (1 for 2) had the two doubles.

*Jose Altuve (1 for 4) and Justin Maxwell (1 for 4) had the other two singles.

*Scott Moore, Brett Wallace, Francisco, and Tyler Greene each struck out twice apiece.

Turning Point:

Lucas Harrell's night went south quickly, as John Jay began the 1st with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, then scored on a balk. That was followed by five consecutive singles, producing three more runs, before Harrell got Rafael Furcal to ground into a double play to end the inning. As St. Louis had more hits in the 1st than Houston would have all night, this one was over early.

Man of the Match:

Jason Castro. It would be unfair to blame Harrell's rough night entirely on the Castro-for-Snyder lineup swap, and Castro did okay against Wainwright, justifying his start. I'd still bet on seeing Snyder next time Harrell pitches, though.

Goat of the Game:

Lucas William Bradley Harrell. Different catcher or not, Lucas still threw the pitches himself, and he had a rough go of it tonight.

Source: Brad Ausmus interviewing for manager

Astros County has learned through a source close to the organization that Brad Ausmus has interviewed to become the next manager of the Houston Astros.

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.

And finally, some thoughts on Brad Mills

I imagine that Brad Mills and I are starting to process his termination from last Saturday night at about the same time. 72+ hours later, I both completely understand and am completely baffled - not by his firing - but by the timing of the decision, and more importantly, the legacy of Brad Mills.

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

Clemens to pitch for Sugar Land

Word is all over Twitter that Roger Clemens has joined the Sugar Land Skeeters, and will pitch on Saturday night, with the Astros in New York to play the Mets.

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?

Monday Morning Link Dump

While You Were Drinking: here's your Monday Morning Link Dump...

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...

PreStros Morning Report: August 19

Oklahoma City (68-60)

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 (71-54)

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

Lancaster (63-62)

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.

Lexington (67-57)

Postponed due to wet grounds.

Tri-City (43-16)

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

Greeneville (32-27)

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)


National sportswriter takes a fair look at the Astros rebuild!

Paul White over at USA Today talked with Jeff Luhnow and Larry Dierker about the state of the Astros and the rebuilding process. It's a very well-composed article that accurately describes how the organization reached this point and how Luhnow is trying to dig the club out of the pit they inherited from McLane and Wade.

There's too much good stuff to break out a "money quote" so just go read it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G122 - Astros v. Diamondbacks

Ian Kennedy (10-10, 4.35) vs Armando Galarraga (0-3, 5.75)

The first game of the Tony DeFrancesco era in Houston felt a lot like the last game of the Brad Mills era. Diamondbacks complete the sweep with an 8-1 win today, dropping the Astros to 39-83 on the season.

*Armando Galarraga has started five games now for the Astros, and each start has gone progressively worse than the previous one. He was fine through the first three innings today, but he couldn't make it out of the 4th, allowing five runs in the frame before DeFrancesco lifted him with this line: 3.2 IP / 6 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 2 BB / 1 K. Mickey Storey got Houston out of the 4th with no further damage and pitched a scoreless 5th, but Wesley Wright (1.1 IP, 2 R) and Fernando Rodriguez (1.2 IP, 1 R) both dug the hole deeper. Wilton Lopez allowed only a single in a scoreless 9th thereafter.


*Houston's offense under new hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo didn't look much different than under the dismissed Mike Barnett, either. 1 for 11 with RISP and 10 men left on base today, producing only the one run on 6 hits and 6 walks.

*Jason Castro had the best day at the plate, going 2 for 4 with the only RBI.

*Tyler Greene scored that run after doubling to lead off the 6th, going 1 for 4 on the day.

*Fernando Martinez almost had a home run, but the initial call was reversed upon replay review, earning him a double instead. He'd finish 1 for 3. 

*Every Astros positional starter had either a hit or a walk, but only Brandon Barnes had both, going 1 for 3 with a walk and a single.

Turning Point:

A scoreless game going to the 4th got ugly quickly. It wasn't quite as ugly as last night's 9-run 5th, but it still wasn't pretty for Astros fans, going like this: home run, single, single, fly out, single (run), double steal, walk, walk (run), sac fly (run), ground-rule double (run), pitching change. Aaron Hill had homered to start the inning, and Mickey Storey got him to ground out to end it, but Houston's ship had already sunk.

Man of the Match:

Jason Castro. It would be great for the Astros if this is a sign that he's regaining the stroke that saw him hitting .301/.380/.494 in the 28 games before he went on the DL.

Goat of the Game:

Armando Galarraga. He added another full run to his ERA, so he's now at 6.75 on the year.

Tom Lawless named OKC manager

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).