Friday, November 16, 2012


Alex Freedman chimes in with some old OKC RedHawks news:

Mike Hessman: signed with Reds
J.B. Shuck: signed with Angels
Brad Snyder: signed with Arizona
Brian Bixler: signed with Mets

Astros Inferno: Limbo

Last Friday we embarked on a journey through Dante's Inferno and how it is actually an allegory for being an Astros fan, beginning with the Overview and the Vestibule of Hell. We continue that today with the First Circle of Hell, Limbo.

Limbo. A word with a definition most people think they know, but really do not. Limbo is the outer edge of hell, not some 50/50 land where you don't know where you are. In Dante's Limbo reside the unbaptized and those who did not accept Christ, but were not sinful. Here live the "guiltless damned" who are punished by residing in a sort of half-assed Heaven. They lacked the hope for something greater than they can conceive.

This can sum up the past six years of Astros fan-dom. We realize things will probably get better, but we can't put our collective finger on a year down the road when we think the Astros will be in the playoffs. It is greater than we can currently conceive.

Limbo is on the edge of "grief's abysmal valley," a place of sorrow without torment. Dante sees a seven-walled castle, where there are fresh meadows and plenty of shade. There is no punishment here, the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad.

Here Dante is clearly talking about September 24, 2012, when 12,584 fans paid to watch the Astros host the Cardinals - the lowest attendance mark ever at Minute Maid Park.

No punishment. Fresh meadows. Plenty of shade. Peaceful. Sad. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Might the Astros trade Bud or Harrell?

Ken Rosenthal wonders aloud this morning if the Royals are in the mood to pull a blockbuster deal, much like the Blue Jays and MarLOLins.

But many Royals fans are eager to see the team use its wealth of prospects to acquire quality veterans, just as many Jays fans wanted Anthopoulos to do the same before he made his monster deal. 

Towards the end of the piece, Rosenthal mentions that the Astros could be looking to move someone like Bud Norris or Lucas Harrell - which wouldn't exactly qualify as a "blockbuster" deal, but would certainly make some waves here in Houston.

Questioning whether Luhnow would be willing to move either of them is useless - of course he would, provided the return was right. That said, Luhnow has indicated that they would likely need eight or nine starting pitchers to get through the season. Moving either of them would cut into that total (unless, of course, a starting pitcher is brought back from the Royals).

Luhnow and Moore also have a history together - even in the last 12 months, when the Astros traded Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois to Kansas City last March.

Both would be intriguing possibilities for trades. I thought Norris had turned a corner in 2011, his third season in the Majors, with his 3.77 ERA / 1.33 WHIP, and 176Ks in 186IP. But he regressed in 2012, allowing a 4.65 ERA / 1.37 WHIP (still just a few ticks above his "breakout" 2011). Or did he? Norris significantly outperformed in 4.02 FIP in 2011, while his ERA severely underperformed in 2012, with a 4.23 FIP. He's not going to get a lot of decisions (meaning, "Wins," of course), because he doesn't pitch all that deep into games, and the Astros just aren't all that good. So what Luhnow is trading is a pitcher who has a career 3.97 xFIP and will somewhat-consistently post 1.5 and 2.0 WAR. But he strikes out a decent number of guys, too - with a career 8.83 K/9.

Norris is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2013, but won't be a free agent until 2016. You could probably pencil him in for around a $2m salary for 2013 - which, depending on Lowrie's arbitration number, could make him the highest-paid Astro next season.

Trading Lucas Harrell would be the ultimate buy-low/sell-high move for the Astros. Picked up (by Ed Wade, it should be noted) as a waiver claim in 2011, Harrell was the pitching surprise (good pitching surprise, anyway) of 2012 - a .500 pitcher on a miserable team. In his "rookie" season, Harrell threw 193.2IP, with a 3.76 ERA / 1.36 WHIP. He's a contact pitcher who performed almost exactly as his FIP indicated - a 3.75 FIP and 3.89 xFIP.

I have no idea what the Royals would be willing to give up to get Harrell or Norris - but "blockbuster" doesn't exactly come to mind.

(Please note: this was written before I saw SteveInLC's tweet on this very topic).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday (afternoon) link dump

FanGraphs' Kiley McDaniel reports in from the Astros' instructional team in Kissimmee. Lots of great info about Lance McCullers ("McCullers ultimate projection will depend on how he balances effort in his delivery and command"), Dayan Diaz, Nolan Fontana, Preston Tucker, and Domingo Santana.

The Astros have received calls about Jed Lowrie, but want to be overwhelmed by offers.

Oldstro Jason Bourgeois is a free agent.