Saturday, November 3, 2012

Revisit a Random Game From 2000? Why Not?

Going through boxes of old stuff at my parents' house, I came across a scorecard from a random game from one of the worst seasons in Astros know, until recently. It was not a particularly interesting game, and the Astros lost. There is almost no reason to revisit this game 12 years later. So, here we go.

June 6, 2000. Astros v. Twins. 7:05 at (still) Enron Field. Jose Lima v. Eric Milton.

Game started rather inauspiciously. Biggio led off with a single in the first, and was promptly bunted over to second by Julio Lugo. Really, Dierker? The first inning? He was promptly stranded. Eric Milton took an early exit and was replaced in relief in the 3rd by Johan Santana, in his rookie season. Milton was not exactly in trouble early, so I'm not sure why he left.

The Astros scored the first run of the game on a Biggio walk and Caminiti double in the 3rd inning. They would threaten again in the 6th, but stranded Bagwell on 3rd. Lima was dealing, and took a shutout into the 8th inning, where things began to unravel. After Jacque Jones and Midre Cummings reached with only one out, Lima was replaced by Yorkis Perez. After a fielder's choice by Christian Guzman allowed Jones to score, Perez gave up a double to Matt Lawton and a single to David Ortiz, allowing 2 more to come home. Everyday Eddie Guardado closed the Astros out in the 9th, and the Twins won 3-1.

Lima took the loss, falling to 1-8, with Perez earning the blown save. Santana got the win. It looks like it might have been Santana's first big league win, so that's kind of cool.  I still left unhappy. The Astros fell to 21-36, on their way to a 90 loss season. I still don't understand how this team, with Biggio, Bagwell, Alou, Hidalgo (in his 44 HR season), Berkman, Caminiti, etc. lost 90 games. Maybe Lima at 1-8 had something to do with it. There would be better times ahead.  There will now, too.

More 40 Man Roster Casualities

A new flurry of transactions brought the 40 man roster down to 31. Brian Bogusevic, J.B.Shuck, Chuckie Fick and Jorge de Leon were all outrighted. Bogie, Shuck and de Leon cleared waivers and are now free agents. Fick was sent to Triple A.

Bogusevic is by far the biggest name in that group. Drafted as a pitcher in 2005, he was converted to the outfield in 2008, and made the majors only 2 years later. He showed some power, and put up a 122 OPS+ in 2011. Ultimately, his strikeouts and low OBP did him in. He will always be a fan favorite, due to his unique story, and his memorable walk-off grand slam against the Cubs in 2011. At the end of the day, he was not going to be a part of the Astros future. Hopefully, he can catch on somewhere else.

Friday, November 2, 2012

And then there were 35

The turnover of Houston's 40-man roster continues as Milwaukee this afternoon claimed RHP Arcenio Leon off waivers from the Astros.

It should come as no surprise that Luhnow & Co. were willing to let Leon go, as he's 26 years old and has shown very little beyond a good strikeout rate since he arrived at AA Corpus Christi back in 2010. The aforementioned K/9 was 9.2 in 151.1 IP (109 games) with Corpus, but pair that with a 5.00 ERA, 6.1 BB/9, and 1.725 WHIP, and it's not hard to see why he never got more than one game above AA.

Houston now has 35 men on their 40-man roster.

Astros claim two more on waivers

Following the return of Jordan Schafer to the Barves, the Astros were far from done making moves yesterday. They claimed two players off waivers from the D-Backs - righty reliever Sam Demel and middle infielder Jake Elmore.

Demel, 27, has 72 games (63.2 IP) of big league experience spread across the last three seasons, with a cumulative 4.95 ERA, 6.8 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9. He spent most of 2012 in AAA Reno, posting a 4.07 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 in 56 games (66.1 IP) there.

Elmore, 25, is a 2B/SS who made his MLB debut in 2012, finishing the year with a .191/.247/.250 slash line, 0 HR, 7 RBI in 68 ABs with Arizona. He had a career year in AAA Reno, however, swinging to a .344/.442/.465 slash line, 1 HR, 73 RBI in 511 ABs while earning both mid-season and post-season PCL All-Star honors.

Beyond that, Houston also outrighted five pitchers to AAA Oklahoma City - Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, and Kyle Weiland. This moves Weiland from the 60-day DL to the OKC roster, while the other four become unrestricted free agents.

After all was said and done, Houston's 40-man roster now stands at 36.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Schafer back to Barves

So the Braves, who traded Jordan Schafer and Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, and...somebody else to the Astros for a season and a half of Michael Bourn (before Scott Boras goes and sells his soul), have now claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers.

This means that there are 39 players on the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft. The Astros are now in a position that other teams might make a run at the system in the December Rule 5 draft, so they'll need to protect some players to keep them from getting poached.

Oh, and, I'm pretty excited about not having the 26-year old (!) Schafer on the roster. He struck out 106 times in 360 PAs in 2012 on his way to a career-worst .591 OPS. The Astros were 27-55 when he started (they were 28-52 when he didn't. This is depressing, huh?), and in June he struck out 26 times in 23 games (80 PAs).

He just struck out too much, too often. Fare thee well, Jordan Schafer.

Cosart Tabbed to Start AFL Rising Stars game

Per Keith Law, Jarred Cosart has been tabbed to start the AFL Rising Stars Game for the East. The game will be televised at 8:00 ET this Saturday on the MLB Network. Cosart has struggled so far in the AFL, going 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA. He has struck out 7 and walked 6 in 11 ip. Take those SSS numbers with a grain of salt.


Jon Singleton and George Springer have also been added to the East squad. Springer has put up a .268/.423/.463 line with 1 HR and 7 RBI. Singleton is at .250/.370/.485 with 3 HR and 7 RBI. My understanding is that the Rising Stars Game is based more on prospect status than performance in the AFL. This game will provide a good opportunity to get an early peak at the future of the Astros. Full rosters here

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Astros won't pick up Chris Snyder's option

Continuing the trend of least-surprising news, Mark Berman talked to Chris Snyder's agent, who said that the Astros would rather pay him $500K to not play for them than to pay him $4m to wear a new Astros uniform.

Luhnow says Carlos Corporan will earn a shot at the C2 position.Which is fine. Corporan isn't yet arbitration-eligible, so he gets league-minimum, and in nine September appearances (seven starts), he hit .259/.286/.407. Is 29 PAs enough to make a judgment? Of course not, but the Astros won't be paying Chris Snyder $4m to do a worse job.

This doesn't mean that Snyder is out of the picture. Luhnow went on to say that he was interested in bringing Snyder back (or another catcher on a non-guaranteed deal) to compete for the backup job.

Whomever it is will be a short-term option. The Astros already have Chris Wallace (.724 OPS between OKC and Corpus), Jair Fernandez (.761 OPS at Corpus), and Ben Heath (.770 OPS at Lancaster) at High-A or above. Somebody has to pan out, right? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Matt Downs DFA'ed

Matt Downs, the man who played every position but catcher and center-fielder, was designated for assignment by the Astros today.

Downs was unable to build on his 2011 season, in which he hit .276/.347/.518 in 222 plate appearances (106 games), and hit .202/.253/.371 in 191 PAs (91 games) in 2012.

Brooks was quick to point out that Kyle Weiland is to be reinstated from the 60-Day DL soon - so DFA'ing Downs opens up a spot on the 40-man roster.

Strech Suba not renewed

The closest thing the Astros have to a cult hero might be Strech Suba, the Astros' bullpen assistant for 36 years. Well, that cult hero is gone. Deputy Phelps mentioned it yesterday (and we were all too busy to be able to post about it).

Now Brian McTaggart has confirmed that Suba will not have his contract renewed.

Pour one out for Stretch today.

MLB not apparently all that sorry about leaking the new logo

Something I've been kicking myself about since last weekend, when Academy was selling the new merchandise, is that I didn't put it together that they had to get that merchandise from somewhere. And that somewhere, of course, was MLB. Well, MLB apologized to the Astros for sending out their new merchandise a week before the unveiling.

"We apologize to the Houston Astros and their great fans for the premature, online availability of officially-licensed product featuring the new Astros logo. It is an error that should have been caught and an error we regret."

Well, apparently they don't regret it too much, because MLB Advanced Media has now updated player pages to feature the new cap and logo:

Personally, I like it. But for God's sake, MLB, get your crap together.

UPDATE: MLB tweeted this out from their normally-useless official account:

MLB Advanced Media, in advance of super-storm Sandy, inadvertently posted photos of players in their new uniforms on bio pages.

12:13pm Updated Update: MLBAM has changed the player pages back to the old color scheme. 

Free Agency (non) News

In the least surprising news of the off-season, the Astros won't be huge players in the free agent market, which opens Friday.

"...By and large … I feel pretty good that even if we don’t go out and sign free agents, we have a team that’s going to be better next year.”

Noted in the linked article is that the only real decision the Astros have to make (which isn't much of a decision) is whether or not to buy out Chris Snyder.

There's a mutual option for $4m for 2013, but the Astros can buy him out for $500,000. Snyder, who "hit" .176/.295/.308 in 76 games for the Astros in 2012 for an OPS+ of 65. Only the Padres' Nick Hundley had a worse batting average among catchers with at least 200 PAs. And $4m isn't a good number for a player with -0.2 WAR. Obviously.