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Archive for the ‘Bud Norris’ Category

3/31/13: Astros Opening Day Right Fielder Is Brandon Barnes

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

OH YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

No Fernando Martinez (on the DL) and no Rick Ankiel, who, last I heard, was supposed to start (and can’t hit leftys any better than Carlos Pena) because they have decided that he and Brandon are going to platoon in right. Good idea.

Starting lineup

2B Jose Altuve
1B Brett Wallace
LF Chris Carter
DH Carlos Pena
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
3B Matt Dominguez
RF Brandon Barnes
SS Ronny Cedeno

SP: Bud Norris

Rest of Opening Day 25 man (I’m writing this down right now because I want to be able to look back and see. If there is ever a reason I want to, don’t ask me why…) Opening Day still gives me chills like nothing else. No matter WHAT evil Bud Selig has done…

Carlos Corporan, C; Marwin Gonzalez, IF; Rick Ankiel, RF, JD Martinez, OF.
RH SP: Lucas Harrell, Phil Humber, Brad Peacock
LH SP: Erik Bedard
RH RP: Hector Ambriz, Rhiner Cruz, Edgar Gonzalez,
LH RP: Wesley Wright, Xavier Cedeno
Closer: Jose Veras

Lyle Lovett sings the anthem. Thank God. Correct tempo, nice baritone. He’s done the anthem here before and he was great.  

Last time we’ll see the Box full for a long LONG time. They SAY it’s a sellout, but it’s not – I see more than a few empty seats, especially behind home plate. Berkman got a big hand, but I hear a lot of boos, too. Everyone wants to know why Berkman gets booed when he was a loyal soldier. Well, you see, he wasn’t one of those grim Biggio type guys, and he didn’t hit as well as Barry Lamar every day and every week and every month. He’s intelligent and jokes a lot, and this irritated fans who insist that every guy be just like Biggio and Bagwell. Whatever. Looks as if most of the fans are wearing Rangers gear. Not surprised.

Some football player throws out the first pitch – looks just like Jonathan Broxton, but can’t throw a strike. Come to think of it, neither can Jonathan Broxton.

where was I?

I remember the last Opening Day we were on ESPN – Roy Oswalt vs Kirk Reuter and the Giants and Barry Lamar beat us in the 8th. Jimy wanted to pull Roy, but Roy looked at him and said, I don’t  care who is up there. And the 3rd pitch went over the RF fence. Barely, but over is over.

1st inning: Bud throws a first pitch strike to Kinsler – good sign, who then flies out to STARTING RF BRANDON BARNES!!! Andrus strikes out swinging. Lance Berkman strides to the plate – he gest a lot of boooos. sigh. Lance grounds out to short. Bud has the FB and slider under control.

Matt Harrison, LHP: Altuve hits the first pitch to left for a single. No nono today. Brett wallace goes to 1-2, then it’s a ball in the dirt which gets slightly away from the catcher. Altuve breaks for second, slides in under the tag (on the replay), but is called out. Wallace Ks swinging. Chris Carter takes a strike looking, a strike swinging and a strike looking. Looks as if Harrison, so far, is only throwing the 2 seamer as all the pitches were 91 MPH.

2nd inning: Beltre takes a strike, swings at a slider, lines a FB to 3rd; David Murphy goes to 3-2 then walks on a checked swing. The announcers keep talking about the loss of Michael Young being more significant than the loss of Josh Hamilton. How silly. Nelson Cruz up: Dominguez waaaay off the plate in the 5.5 hole ??? and Murphy tries to steal on a 2-1 and, shock de la shock, Jason Castro throws him out. Bud goes to another 3-2 count, gives up another walk. AJ Pierzinsky: fouls off 2 then he bloops a single over the head of Cedeno at short (Orel Hershiser sez that Bud/Castro shoulda thrown him another slider). Mitch Moreland up – Orel Hershiser notes that Cedeno is standing behind the runner at second, leaving an enormous hole up the middle – he’s doing a great job as a color man. Dan Schulman is also doing a good job as play by play. Not much stupid gossip.) And Bud gets a blessed swinging K on another slider. He’s up to 39 pitches already.
-  Pena, no surprise, strikes out swinging on a changeup. He woulda struck out swinging on bout anything from a lefty, but I digress. Justin maxwell lines out to third. Castro Ks swinging.

So far, we haven’t seen Nolan Ryan’s sour puss. Or Selig, neither. ESPN is broadcasting this like an actual baseball game. Will wonders never cease.

3rd inning: Bud gets 1,2,3 out – and the last one, Andrus fly to left center is trapped by Maxwell (GREAT catch) but it was really trapped.
- Harrison breezes – Dominguez grounds out, Barnes Ks swinging and Cedeno lines out to third. I’m glad Altuve led off with a hit.

4th inning: Lance singles – the ESPN commentators are praising him – actually say right out that he don’t get no respeck – he has a higher lifetime SLG than Chipper Jones, is a grossly underrated hitter, Beltre has high fly near the CBoxes; Murphy goes to 3-2, Bud suddenly starts throwing over to first, but Murphy flies out to left – nice easy fly that Carter doesn’t have to chase. Nelson Cruz swings and misses 2 sliders, then flies out to left center – Maxwell barely moves.
- Harrison is at only 38 pitches. Altuve flies out, Brett Wallace goes to 0-2, then singles up the middle. Carter Ks looking again – he’s a guy who strikes out at least 1 of 3 ABs but the Organization doesn’t care because he hits home runs. Pena hits a pitch thru the 5.5 hole – shock deluxe. Got men on first and second, 2 out. Maxwell takes a ball, then hits a hanger high off the scoreboard which takes weird bounces – it’s a standup triple, 2 runs in.

Porter out, wants the umps to find out if it was over the line, but it hit under the blue banner under the yellow line, and it’s not out. Orel shows how Maxwell jogged to first, then turned on the jets. Castro grounds out

Astros 2 Rangers 0

Where is Nolie Poo’s stick up butt look when you want to see it?

5th inning –  Bud has a lead and he’s cruising. AJ Ks on a high FB, Moreland lofts an easy FB to left and Leonys Martin (their new CF now that Hamilton is gone) grounds out to third – it was a lousy throw, too – and Dominguez is supposed to be this great fielder. Brandon Laird looks better, to me. Bud is at 78 pitches.
-  Dominguez Ks, then Brandon Barnes takes a 4 pitch walk!!!!! Cedeno up swings at a neck high FB, hits it to right, where Cruz boots it, throws in to the cutoff man, who also boots the throw, Barnes trots in and Cedeno goes to third on the 2 base error. Altuve up. And DAMMED if he doesn’t do the exact same thing – hits a neck high FB into right for an RBI single.

Harrison can’t believe this. Here he is losing to this crappy AAA team. Reliever already up and throwing. Can you believe this? Wallace up, goes to 2-0, but swings 3 straight times. Carter actually manages to make contact!!! popping out to second. He sure reminds me of Preston Wilson. That’s not good, by the way.

Astros 4 Rangers 0

6th inning: John Kruk has joined Hershiser and Schulman. I like the Krukker – so sue me. Kinsler up for the third time and he walks on 3-1. Bud has given up more walks than hits tonight. So far. Andrus Ks on a vicious slider. Orel mentions that the Astros are keeping close tabs on a starter the third time thru the lineup. Well goodness gracious. Lance back up. And he singles to right as Kinsler goes to third. Erik Bedard is up and throwing – they’re using him as a long reliever while he’s the 5th starter because he won’t start for like 2 weeks.

Beltre lines the first pitch right back at Bud. Kewl.  Murphy back up – and Murphy looked to me like he was seeing the ball pretty well the last time. Yep. Murphy takes a couple balls, then lines a single to right and Kinsler trots home. Orel says that they got Rhiner Cruz up a little too late. Bud had better get Cruz out. Cruz swings at a slider, stares at a slider, then hits the next slider to left and Berkman scores. Men on second and third.

Bud lasts 5.2 innings, 2 runs in on 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K. Only 1 hard hit ball, though, which is good. No extra base hits, no homers.

Erik Bedard coming in to get AJ out. And he does – flies out to center.

Astros 4 Rangers 2

bottom of the 6th: Pena fouls off a bunch, then Ks on a check swing. Maxwell walks on 4 straight. Meetup on the mound. Castro up – doubt Maxwell will be trying to steal because Harrison was the best in the majors last year at preventing steals – only one all year, says Orel. Castro flies out. Dominguez goes to 3-1, then walks.

Harrison only lasts 5.2 also. In comes Derek Lowe, back to relieving. Are you kidding me? How the heck did he make a ML roster? And they are bringing him in in a high leverage situation??? Ankiel comes in to PH for Brandon Barnes. And Ankiel blasts the 3-1 pitch upper deck RF for a 3 run homer. Whoa. Cedeno Ks on 3 straight.

Astros 7 Rangers 2

- guess they’re really missing Michael Young and all his veterany goodness leadershipness. Orel and Kruk are really into leadership. Luhnow says he signed Carlos pena and Erik Bedard and Rick Ankiel with the understanding (ahem) that their role was to teach young players for the low low salary…

7th inning – Bedard back out. Moreland grounds out, Leonys Martin Ks swinging. Kinsler grounds out to short. Wonder if they’ll let him finish up. youneverknow. The stars at night are big n bright – wonder if they’ll keep playing that. Sundays, you have to get in GBA (I really REALLY wish they’d get rid of that) as well as gettin took out to the ballpark. Makes me sad to think I’ll never get to go to a major league baseball game again.
- New pitcher, Jason Frasor, RHP. Altuve grounds out first pitch, Wallace Ks staring, Chris Carter again manages to make contact, grounding out.

8th inning:  Erik Bedard still in. Andrus hits a hard grounder to third and Dominguez goes to his right and makes a great throw. Lance Ks on a 3-2 curve and Beltre pops out to short. Bedard is looking really sharp – wonder what on earth went wrong last year. He was the Opening Day starter for the Pirates, remember?

AHA – news about Nolan Ryan – Buster Olney says that Nolan Ryan “Sulking about his underlings getting better titles or something. Guess that’s why we haven’t seen him skulking about.

- new pitcher LHP Joe Ortiz: Carlos Pena Ks staring. Maxwell hits a bullet into the RF corner and cruises into third, standing. Awesome. Jason Castro grounds weakly to short and maxwell can’t score. Dominguez hits an infield single – pitcher can’t catch it and Kinsler can’t get it fast enough. Ankiel Ks on 3 pitches. Looks like this Ortiz guy is bound for LOOGYhood.

Astros 8 Rangers 2

9th inning – Bedard gonna finish out. Kewl. Murphy goes to 3-2, then hits a ball all the way to the LF bullpen and Maxwell makes a fabulous catch. Cruz singles to right. AJ flies out to left. Looks as if they’ve decided that Carter won’t move from in front of the scoreboard, and Maxwell is going to get everything else. Splitting most of the OF between Maxwell and Barnes/Ankiel is smart. Moreland grounds out and Altuve makes a nice play.

Bedard gets a 3.1 inning save. That’s something you almost never see these days.

Luhnow has announced that for the first few months, starting pitchers in the minors are gonna be pitching in tandems – there will be 4 pairs. One guy will start and go 75 pitches and his tandem partner will pitch the next 75, assuming that both pitch well. Next start his partner will begin the game. Why on earth they are gonna do this with Mike Foltynewicz I don’t get.

sigh

Why is it that they couldn’t win on Opening Day back when I actually cared?

 

3/21/12: Astros Aren’t Trading Norris Or Harrell. Yet.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Luhnow and Porter have now publically said on the record that Bud Norris IS going to throw the Opening Day start. And that Lucas Harrell will follow. And then Phil Humber, although they didn’t say that as a guaranteed positive.

Now I most certainly HAVE heard from a few People Who Know that Bud and Lucas are most definitely on the trading block – I get Bud, he costs a whopping 2 million dollars. But Harrell? It’s not as if we have anyone as good in the minors, let’s be real. But hey, money is money, and if Harrell repeats his performance from last year, he will be a very valuable (low cost) trade chip, especially at the deadline, indeed.

Anyway, the Opening Day game is on ESPN, the only time the Astros will be seen or noticed by anyone having the slightest interest in MLB. A bone thrown to Nolan Ryan (still working on Part 2, trying to figure out what exactly he has done as this supposed irreplaceable executive) to please him for destroying the Astros’ fans and history. Bud has never faced the Rangers in his 4 years in the majors, the Rangers have beat the Astros consistently at the Box over the past 4 years and having a 1 year low home ERA (1.71 with an Away ERA over 5) is not really repeatable (see Wandy Rodriguez 07/08).

This is also a sop to Crane, who, unlike the Marlins, will get a sellout Opening Day, maybe even the series. The fact that the park will be full of Rangers, not Astros, fans is not big deal, seeing as how they are allowed to sell ANY gear that is MLB authorized (as I found out to my shock when they hawked Yankees/Red Sox gear during the first series with them) and hey, money is money, right? Not that you need actual people IN the ballpark to make zillions, right Jeffrey Loria? This will show the world how popular the decision was to move the Astros into the DH league, right? More Rangers fans, Yankees fans, Red Sox fans than Cards or Cubs fans, right?

I’ll bet the game won’t be broadcast in the Astros TV “zone” so seeing as how I am one of the 60% of people in the Astros “home” zone, I don’t guess I’ll be watching from TV either. How many of the non-Comcast “home” zone do you think will be buying mlb.tv so they can watch the replay on the internet 2 hours after games end?

Zackly.

Where was I?

Since Jordan Lyles (WHIP around 2) and John Ely, who we got from the Dodgers last December for lefty Robert Rasmussen, who we got from the Marlins in the Carlos Lee trade. Yeah, tough to keep up, I know, got sent down, we now have Erik Bedard, who, although hurt, has pitched well and is dirt cheap and great trade bait, Alex White (who we got from the Rox for Wilton Lopez), Jeff Peacock (who we got from the A’s for Crystal Lowrie, now a utility guy at best) and Edgar Gonzalez, who has pitched well in ST.

I wouldn’t be surprised if all of them stay on the 25 man, because the Organization wants 1 or 2 guys who can easily pitch multiple innings, and any starter can certainly do that. It will remain to be seen how well they can actually DO it if they get used more often than once every 3 days (including days they would have been throwing in between starts).

For whatever reason, the Organization is high on Peacock, think he’s gonna be an ace. They have to be the only Organization that thought so because all Billy Beane could get for him PLUS supposed Cralos Lee clone Chris Carter, was a lousy middle reliever and an often injured, not cheap, utility guy. Whatever. He IS gonna make the 25 man, along with Chris Carter.

There really never was much of any “battle” whatsoever for almost any position. There almost never is, no matter WHAT the Organization sez to the media. See Chris Johnson 2009. See Luke Scoot 2006. Among others.

Bad news is that Jose Altuve has been tabbed as the leadoff man. It’s not that he’s bad. It means that Brandon Barnes is most likely not going to make the 25 man, seeing as how he is more suited to leadoff than Altuve, who should be batting second. Ankiel is gonna provide juicy Veteran Goodness (as an ex-Cardinal), Carter and Fernando Martinez are gonna provide entertainment in the form of massive numbers of strikeouts and ineptness with the glove and on the bases peppered with a homer run 20 – 30 times a year. Maxwell will start in center, seeing as how the aforementioned can’t barely play the corners. Will be interesting to see how long Maxwell does as an everyday player…

10/2/12: Bud Norris Throws 6 Shutout Innings To Beat Cubs

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Like, what is going ON with this here team??? Don’t they want to set a Nice New Record? I mean, the All Time Astros Season Loss Number? They’re sticking at 106 and have had – get this – THREE shutout games in a row and I mean shutting the OTHER guys out.

Bud threw a decent game – 4 hits, 2 walks and 4 Ks and one of those hits shoulda been an out. It was one of those bloopers to shallow right and Scott Moore, playing RF (and he is NOT NOT NOT a right fielder) called off Altuve, who was getting ready to catch the ball, and he missed it, did a face plant and left with an owie in his shoulder.

Bud got pulled after 6 innings, 80 pitches – guess his hip or his blisters were acting up, because he was pitching absolutely fine. Xavier Cedeno pitched a 1,2,3 7th, Fick and Wesley Wright pitched a 1,2,3 8th – well, not completely, because Wesley’s first hitter hit a comebacker to the mound and Wesley made a bad throw, so he had to strike out an additional hitter. And Wilton-ie Lopez closed it out. I guess it has been decided that Wilton will be the closer next year.

It’s not like the Astros were hitting worth a darn. We got 3 runs on 2 walks, 5 hits (3 singles, an IF single and a solo homer) and 1 ROE. Castro hit a solo homer. REALLY. It’s his 4th homer in the past 7 games. Jason Maxwell reached when his easy grounder to Starlin Castro got thrown badly and he ended up on second, then came home when Tyler Greene singled. Good thing too, because Jason has been slumping badly for the past few weeks.

Third run was small ball city. Bogu walked, went to second when the pitcher tried to pick him off and made a bad throw. Then he went to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.

Bizarre that at the end of the year, the breaks are going the Astros way – unlike pretty much all of June, July and August. You figure.

Tomorrow, Edgar Gonzalez will throw the Houston Astros BASEball club’s very last game ever. To commemorate this sad sad day, check out Chris Jaffe’s greatest hits of the 50 year history of the Astros at THT. Click here to check it out.

9/27/12: Bud Norris Pitches An Ace Game And Jose Altuve Ends The Astros Tenure In Minute Maid With A Bang

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

This post is hard to write.  I’m not crying now – that will come later, I know, after the WS is over, the first time I drive past what used to be a baseball stadium and I have to face that baseball in Houston is gone forever and has been replaced with a sham called DH ball.

Sometimes, it is hard to face the cold, hard, painful truth of reality, but sooner or later you have to.

In the meantime, I have to thank Bud Norris for that absolutely awesome pitching performance. He looked like the Bud Norris was was absolutely ACE until his hip problem thingy in May. Tonight, he had the awful Angel Hernandez for a HP ump, but gave up only a double, a single and a HBP and no walks. NO runs, 7.1 IP, ERA FINALLY below 5. And this was with Scott Moore in right field and he is NOT an outfielder. I held my breath more than once, but he managed to make all the plays. For once. Fortunately, no balls were hit to left, where Fernando Martinez was ready to stink it up.

First W since May 21, believe it or not. (It was MORE than obvious that he was hurt his next start, and he didn’t get sent to the DL for several more weeks. This pitching through injury stuff is stupid. Period)

Although he did have some REALLY good pitching performances in which he either got a L or a ND – like Lucas Harrell. You get no run support/bullpen, it don’t matter whether or not You Know How To Win.

2 meh (4 R/6 IP) and 1 pulled because of injury (3 R/3.1 IP) starts in June = 3 L

4 VERY good QS, 1 absolutely HORRIBLE start (9 runs/4.1 IP) in July = 3 L, 2 ND

3 QS, 1 meh 4 R/6 IP and 1 horrible (6 R/3.1 IP) starts in August = 3 L, 2 ND

2 QS with NO runs given up (1 W, 1 ND) and 2 yeccch starts with 5 runs/start = 2 L

He’s got one more scheduled start next week – let’s hope he gets a shutout. He didn’t deserve this many losses. Then again, neither did his fellow pitchers, for the most part.

Best part of today’s W was that it was against Chris Carpenter, who has KILLED the Astros for years and years. I’m impressed that he was actually able to come back this year – but that guy is a real fighter, he surely is.

Jose Altuve hit his homer over the 3rd window of the CBoxes. VERY kewl.

Scott Moore then doubled, went to third on a groundout, then foolishly tried to score on a GB to short by Maxwell, and was dead meat at home. Justin stole second and trotted home on a single to right (for once) by Brett Wallace. Let me be kind and say that Brett has, um, struggled a bit (ahem) this month. He’s really increased his strikeout percentage this year – if he played a full season he’d be having a 180 (approx) strikeout year. Which is nothing like Jason Maxwell’s, true.

It was only 2 runs, and the Stros left men on first and 3rd in the 5th, but fortunately Bud was nails and after he gave up a HBP (which is OK – it would have been a walk anyway) and a ROE then a K in the 8th, Wilton Lopez came in for a 5 out save.

Can’t believe Francie-poo is doing something so Old Skool. But hey, it’s working and there is no reason not to, seeing as how we’re not saving Wilton-ie for the postseason.

Oh yeah – and best news – no more Milo. So hopefully, it will be the end of calling every player a cutesy-poo name with an “ie” at the end of his name as if he were a small child. Unless the new manager continues this, I’ll quit calling all the players like that, seeing as how I don’t need to mock either Millsie-poo or Milo-ie no mo. If Crane has any sense, he’ll get rid of the 2 clowns who try to interject football and golf into every sentence and hire some guys who know and like baseball. And don’t have a northeast/midwest/whatever it is, it’s awful – non-Texan accent. But I doubt it – it might could cost money. And as Maury Brown reports, Crane will be spending most of the new money coming in from MLBAM, the new RSN and the net network deals on the debt.

Remember that preposterous 650 mill price tag that Bud Selig liked because it jacked up values of other franchises, that price tag consisting of money Crane ain’t got, that rpice tag that ensured that Crane would allow the Astros to be dragged into the sewer that is the DH league?

Yeah

Will be interesting to see how low he is gonna take the payroll next year. Bet it doesn’t exceed 30 mill, if that and yes, he DOES have to sign SOME free agents or the Players Union will complain. Not that it matters, seeing as how they have lost pretty much every single battle to the Owners over the past 10 years and have become a limp, toothless version of its former self, catering only to the very few high priced free agents who comprise less than 5% of major leaguers.

Stupid and short sighted.

But hey, instead of the old shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generatioons, it’s in 3 decades. Not even that. More like half a generation.

It’s an interesting thing. Pretty much nobody is left from the last strike of 94/95, and remembers what it means to stand up to the owners. You forget how to fight, you don’t bother to remember how to negotiate, next thing you know, all you do is lose more and more until you don’t even have guaranteed contracts.

You need guys with memories. It’s kind of like how my Dogs teach each new Dog in my pack what the Rules are and how to behave. Really.

sigh – back to my team, the Final Days. Day off, then off to Milwaukee, still fighting for that last WC spot, then to Wrigley to end the year. Fitting that we should end up at the field of perpetual losers to end the 50 year existence of the Houston Astros Baseball Club.

Astros don’t even have probable pitchers posted, no surprise, seeing as how everyone is beat up. Edgar Gonzalez and Fernando Abad are apparently too hurt to start and we know that Fernando Rodriguez is most likely going to get a start and I have absolutely NO idea who on earth is going to be able to start. I don’t think they do either.

We’ll face Yo Gallardo (might as well throw someone to the wolves as Yo turns the stros into Little Leaguers anyway) then Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers.

9/20/12: Bud Norris Loses Again

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Cards sweep, Carlos the Jackal remembers how to hit and Astros get closer and closer to that Sacred All Time Road Loss Record.

Watched Bud pitch. His motion has really changed since the beginning of the year. I don’t know how to do GIFs, but his motion used to be short, compact, with him bringing his hands up to his face, almost. He has a much longer stride, and he seems to, how to put it, have a longer throw. He gave up 6 hits, FIVE walks (and the ump was dead right every single call) and a homer on a hanging slider. He threw 111 pitches, 60 strikes, 51 balls.

Of his strikes:

called strike – 17
swinging strike – 9
foul – 18
hit – 6
groundout 1
flyout – 7

called K – 2
swinging K – 5

swinging strikes on

FB – 2 1 1
slider – 2 1 1

3 ball counts that did not end in a walk: 4 (plus 5 walks, 3 on 4 straight balls)

He threw (that I count) 5 changeups, all of which were balls.

He used to look determined, the bulldog look. Now he looks grim, almost a I’m Gonna Get Through This Somehow – kind of look. It’s not that he “expects” to lose or has no confidence, but sort of a, I Can Get Through This – kind of look, not expectant, not quite resigned, but definitely NOT the old Bud. He’s jinxed – no matter what he does out there, he just CAN’T win. And I’m sure he didn’t appreciate Wesley Wright letting his 2 stranded runners score after he left in the 6th.

He’s throwing too many pitches – too many balls, and I mean WAAAY out of the strike zone and not one of those Chase Me pitches on a 0-2. He’s having too many pitches fouled off – not enough movement. He also got lucky because both Brandon Barnes, who I’m liking more and more, made a fabulous diving catch as did Jason Maxwell.

I don’t know what to do with the poor boy. He’s not having more success with this delivery than he did with his delivery at the beginning of the year when he was winning. I’m not sure why it has been changed like this, or if it has been done deliberately or accidentally. But I’m sure he’ll be relieved when this year is just OVER. Not sure what they’re gonna do with him. It’s not like they have all these young starters ready to come up. There has been talk for years about turning him into a closer, but really, at least with THIS team, he’s more valuable as a starter for the simple reason that we are using Fernando Abad, Armando Galarraga, Edgar Gonzalez, etc, as starters, and Bud is still better than they are.

sigh

I don’t guess I have to talk about the Astros doing their usual suckage with bases loaded/RISP/MOB, do I?  Because there really isn’t anything new to say. Unfortunately.

And Wandy had a lousy game today to put the Pirates below .500 – so we aren’t gonna see him in the upcoming series.  Pirates have removed James McDonald, who turned into a pumpkin, from the starting rotation (and Erik Bedard is gone), so we’ll be facing rookie John Locke, who wasn’t real too especially good last time we faced him.

We’re home again, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see if we can’t improve upon that road loss record

9/9/12: Astros Win Road Series Against Second Best Team In The Majors

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Funny that this team has won exactly 2 road series all year long and both of them have been with a division leading team – the White Sox in June and the Reds now. And what IS it with all this winning stuff? Edgar Gonzalez beats Johnny Cueto??? Weird stuff happens is all I can say.

Missed most of Bud Norris’ start Saturday, and he wasn’t Good Bud, gave up 2 solo homers, then managed to get into the 6th – Bruce hit a double, then Votto was IBB. I get IBBing Votto to face Todd Frazier, who likes to GIDP. But when Bud walked Todd Frazier, all I could think was – it is now time for Bud to go, seeing as how this is always when he loses it – sure enough, he gives up a single to Hanigan.

Bases still loaded, 1 out, and in comes Froddy, who actually IS good at stranding inherited runners. So Valdez hits into what SHOULD be a nice 1-2-3 DP, at LEAST a forceout at home. but Froddy makes a bad throw and the ball gets by Castro (ahem) and 2 runs score.

Not that it mattered because, as usual, the Astros didn’t give Bud any run support. And once Bud gave up the second homer, there went the ball game. Bud’s bad luck is starting to remind me of Felipe Paulino a couple years back. The guy just COULDN’T catch a break.

And today, Edgar Gonzalez pitches 5 innings of 2 hit, 1 walk, 1 run ball – the run is on a triple to center that Jordan Schafer (yes, he’s out there again, don’t ask me why) gets a late break on, dives to catch, and misses. Then Edgar had to come out of the game after 5 because he got a blister on his toe. And Mickey Storey pitched 2 scoreless, Wesley Wright pitched 1 inning (and got left in to face rightys!!!) giving up a single, and Wilton-ie finished up, giving up 2 singles, but stranding both runners. Gave me heart failure, just about.

Matt Dominguez has now hit game winning homers offn Aroldis Chapman and johnny Cueto, both big time Cy Young candidates. He’s having himself a great September – reminds me of Luke Scott in 06, JR Towles in 07, CJ in 09. Domie-poo doesn’t have great minor league numbers, but, like, who cares. Youneverknow, maybe he’ll improve in the majors. It DOES happen, you know.

Remember back when we used to have a good baseball team, and it would be toward the end of the year, and we’d HAVE to win most every game and we’d somehow manage to lose to some nobody AAA guy, or the Pirates, or whoever else was in last place? Reds are getting that now. They’d better watch out because Saint Looey ain’t lyin down and they are only 2 games behind the controversy enmeshed Nats for the lead in the NL.

Of course all yall know about all the screaming/yelling going on about Stephen Strasburg, the Not A Real Man pitcher who was shut down for the year. Lots of former players are screaming about how kidz need to get offn they lawns why way Back In The Good Old Days, pitchers went in the the manager’s office and threw temper tantrums DEMANDING to pitch and we all know that those managers back then just caved in.

We ALL knew, BEFORE THE YEAR STARTED, that the Nats had talked with all these stat sorts and doctors about 23 year olds coming back from TJ surgery and had decided that they were gonna shut Strasburg down when he reached around 160 innings, as they did with Jordan Zimmerman last year. Strasburg knew it, I knew it, every media person on the planet knew it. It’s not like it was htis huge secret.

But, you see, didn’t nobody care because nobody thought that the Nats were gonna be real too particular good. The media in DC cares only about what some football player ate for breakfast, so there really wasn’t any media attention there, and seeing as how the Nats aren’t the Yankees or Red Sox or Cubs, the ESPN media didn’t care real too particular much neither. Morse was out, Espinoza was out, Drew Storen, the closer was out, and the Nats got dismissed.

Then, something happened: the Nats not only weren’t losers, they won and won and won and actually have had the best record in baseball for about a month, now. So naturally, there has been endless talktalktalk about How Terrible It Is That The Sissie-poos At The Nats Aren’t Letting Strasburg Be A Man And Pitch, Injuries Be Damned (because who knows who will get injured when.) Right?

The media is screaming at Mike Rizzo, the GM. They’re hounding Strasburg, who has exactly ZERO to say about getting shut down, they’re hounding and hassling every other guy on the team. (Now they know how Barry Lamar felt when the media was smothering him when he was going for the season home run record, number 600, number 700, the all-time record…) It’s a wonder that the guys can even concentrate on the games when every question is being hurled at them – do you think you can win without Strasburg – over and over and over and over and over and over.

What do I think?

Well, Mike Rizzo thinks that what is best for the team/fans is to have a team that competes eery year (sound familiar) and they want a healthy Strasburg every year, as long as they can keep him away from the Yankees/Red Sox/Dodgers/Angels. Getting in the playoffs helps increase fan interest and ticket sales. Winning the pennant doesn’t really increase it much over that, but winning the World Series sure does, unless you’re the Marlins.

It is in Strasburg’s best interest (da money) to be healthy as long as possible to get the best contracts possible. It’s in the team’s best interest to sell the most tickets possible. It’s in the team’s best interest to portray themselves as being interested in the player’s health and well being more than anything else.

As for the players themselves? Well, I sure have heard a whole lot of players talk as if what really matters to them more than anything is that Ring. Barry Lamar said many times that he’d trade in all his trophies for just one Ring. How many times have you heard a player say something like – it’s my last chance at a Ring, I have to go for it.

These days, with all the teams in the playoffs, it’s really REALLY tough to win the pennant, even if you are the best team (remember the 116 win Mariners who got eliminated 1st round?) Sometimes, even the best team has a bad 3 games. Look at the Reds getting beat twice this weekend by the worst team in baseball – by at LEAST 10 games. The winningest team in the League doesn’t win the pennant, they win Home Field Advantage – big deal.

And sometimes, just sometimes, everything falls into place – no one is hurt, everyone is playing great and things just click. Remember the 05 Astros? The 07 Rockies in September?

You just can’t assume that everything will all be the same next year, that players will live up to their projections, assumed stars won’t suck, that no one will get hurt, that Bad Luck won’t happen.

Unless he’s hurting or the team is positive that his mechanics really ARE wrong and it’s a red warning light, I wouldn’t have shut down Strasburg. Yes, I know that keeping him is no more guarantee of winning than benching him is of losing. Yes, I know that it is always safer to shut down a pitcher than to not, for the simple reason is that a guy can get hurt at any time. Yes I know that stats say this and that. But winning the WS, especially when no one expected you to get to the playoffs and everything is clicking NOW?

Unless the Nats win the WS, they are certainly gonna be a target of endless media/ex-player scorn for a long LONG time. Unless, of course, they win the WS next year, and the next year, and the next year – as long as they have Strasburg.

Life is full of “if onlys” and I’m remembering that all those great Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine Braves teams won exactly one WS. And that all those excellent Phils teams won ONE WS. and that all those powerhouse As teams of the late 90s/early 200s didn’t even win ONE pennant. And even the Yankees have only won one WS in the past 10 years.

Look at this poem that David Groveman of mets360.com posted (without attributing it to its real author, Robert Frost) about deciding which path to take at the fork of a road (check it out, it’s GOOD).

He stood there lookin
Couldn’t decide which to take
Seeing as how he couldn’t see where either was ending up
And knowing that once he started down one path
He would have set in motion a course that wouldn’t be reversed,

He SAYS he took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

Then he stops right there. What KIND of difference? Good, bad, just the freedom of not doing what most everyone else had done, regardless of what happened at the end of the path? Because Rizzo is sure nuff taking that path less traveled by and it sure WILL make all the difference. He best hope for his sake, more importantly for Strasburg’s that the difference it makes won’t deprive the 2012 Nats teammates of a WS Ring that they would otherwise have won.

 

9/2/12: Bud Norris Pitches 6 Scoreless Innings Of 3 Hit Ball And Naturally The Bullpen Blows His Win

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Astros resume their losing ways, seeing as how Wilson Valdez wasn’t around to help em out. Bud pitched great, left leading 1-0 (on a Bogu RBI groundout that should have been a GIDP 4-6-3. What on earth happened to his beautiful swing? He’s been hitting everything, and I mean EVERYTHING on the ground for 2 months now. He’s been messed up BIG time.) New guy Jose Valdez gave up a single, but got the next 3 outs.

Ambriz came in for the 8th, got an out, gave up a walk, then a single. Then naturally you pull him for lefty Xavier Cedeno, who came in and hung a curve to lefty Jay Bruce and it was POW gone and a tie game. So sorry Bud. Then he gives up a single and gets yanked.

In comes Wilton-ie, the Closie-poo, and he immediately gives up the game losing double, than an insurance RBI double.

Game ovah, the Astros are finished and they know it. They do nada against Jonathan Broxton (the ex-Dodgers closer who just lost it last year, started the year with the Royals, then got traded to the Reds at the deadline) and naturally did absolutely nothing against Aroldis Chapman, naturally. I feel sorry for the guy – if there wasn’t any really outstanding NL starter, he’d sure nuff be in line for the Cy Young, like Gagne was, 10 years back. Also, I have this feeling that if he ever wanted to be a starter, he’s out of luck.

Where was I?

Oh yeah – too many outs at third. Crappy baserunning by Jason Castro on a grounder to the pitcher. Caught stealing by Bogu. And Fernando Martinez got picked off third – not entirely his fault because it was supposed to be a squeeze, but Dusty was a step ahead and ordered a pitchout and Fernando was halfway to home and his only chance was to run like heck for home and home he made it ahead of the relay. Anyway, it was too bad because had he stayed put, he would have scored on the homer.

Not much good to say about pretty much anything, unfortunately.

And we’re off to face the Pirates and we’re sending Edgar Gonzalez, fresh out of the Mexican League, after being a terrible ML/minor league starter. The Pirates are starting one of their AAA pitchers, seeing as how there really isn’t any reason to start an actual major leaguer against the Astros.

Tuesday, it’s Jordan Lyles vs Wandy and yes I WILL be wearing my Wandy shirt. Yes, I’ve kept it. Yes, I’m keeping it. I know all yall want to know if I kept all my Astros shirts/memorabilia when we moved. Yes, I did. It was my team since I can remember. Just because they’ll be gone in a few weeks doesn’t mean I don’t love what they were and don’t want to remember the good times we had along with the bad. I pulled out my t-shirt with the World Series roster on it, just to remember, and had a good cry, then packed it along with all the other stuff in the family time capsule. I kept the Astros onsies the twins wore as newborns, too. Along with the Astros shirts we dresssed them in the year we had season tickets – 04, when we (and they) seldom missed a game.

They really WERE the Good Old Days. I know they’re gone forever, but I still don’t want to forget.

That’s the thing about The Good Old Days. When they are happening, you don’t take it seriously enough, you don’t seriously think it won’t or can’t last forever and after you’ve finally accepted that it’s ovah, you regret not treasuring what you had when you had it.

8/28/12: What If They Had A Baseball Game And Nobody Went?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The announced attendance was 13, 600. There couldn’t have been more than a few thousand people scattered throughout the stands. No wonder Crane wants 50 year old Roger Clemens. There were more Giants fans in the stands than Astros fans, and there were more than a few people welcoming Hunter Pence back home.

Bud Norris pitched great – he now has a 2.10 ERA at home this year and basically nothing to show for it – 3 wins in 9 games. Actually, he has only 4 really bad games all year, but it’s been enough to play heck with his ERA, and he’s had lousy run support when he has pitched well. Tonight, he gave up only a solo homer to Angel Pagan (remember when he was gonna be the next great Cub? Or was that Felix Pie? I get so confused…) Where was I? Oh yeah. He left in the 7th, was facing Angel Pagan again – threw a nice FB, a strike at the knees called Ball 1 (the ump had a zone the size of a stamp), then looked as if he lost the ball out of his hand, then he left with a blister on his finger.

Ball 2, Froddy comes in, gives up a walk, then gets the last out. Francie-poo leaves him in  in the 8th to face the meat of the Giants’ lineup and he gets em out 1,2,3. That was impressive.

Meanwhile, Matt Cain, who didn’t give up a hit until Brett Wallace’s double to the LF wall in the 4th, was left in to pitch the 8th after he was clearly tired out. That’s funny – the Astros tiring out Matt Cain. Jimmy Paredes, our new RF, who, by the way, looks to be having a little trouble getting jumps and reading balls off the bat (although he did make one nice running grab on Posey’s liner in the 8th), drew a 9 pitch walk – Paredes hardly ever walks, which should tell you that Cain wasn’t making pitches, then Brett Wallace hit a pitch a foot outside opposite field for a single.  Then Jason Castro, hitting cleanup, sac-bunts.

Really.

When’s the last time you saw a cleanup hitter putting down a sac-bunt? Mickey Mantle back in the 50s?

Then Tyler Greene is up, swings wildly at 2 curves out of the zone, and Matt Cain’t finish him off – and in fact, the Ball 4 is a WP and Paredes comes in to score the go ahead run. Froddy has the foolish idea that the guys are actually gonna give him a W for once. Cain is yanked, Santaigo Casilla, RHP is in to relieve, and it’s Greene on first, Wallace at third, Scott Moore PH, and Greene gets caught stealing – it isn’t a missed hit n run, neither. He’s thrown out by the PITCHER.  Roll eyes. Moore walks, Marwin grounds out to second – and if Greene had stayed put, it would have been another run on the groundout.

sigh

So it’s The Closer time, and to my shock, Wesley Wright is going out to get Belt, the lefty. Is it a case of the Loogy or is Wesley gonna close out the inning? It’s LOOGY-itis, but Belt singles, and Wesley is out and Wilton-ie is in. He can’t be trusted to get leftys out, I guess. And Wilton-ie immediately gives up a double down the LF line which rolls into the corner and bounces around. Bogusevic, replacing Fernando Martinez in left (when Bud had to come out) hits Greene, the cutoff man, who sends a weak-ass throw to the plate and Belt scores the tying run.

Same old, same old.

Crawford Ks, then PH Hector Sanchez hits a single to shallow center, but Barnes has to come in to get it and the go ahead run scores.

My oh my, this is like the third game in a row that Wiltie=poo has come through with a blown save/loss. Who does he think he is, Coco Cordero? Astros always find a way to lose, don’t they?

Giants’ closer Sergio Romo (they haven’t missed Brian Wilson at ALL) gets 3 outs on 6 pitches.

Should I talk about all the Astros missed scoring opportunities, I mean, besides Greene’s stupid out in the 8th? Nah, why bother, it’s the same old story.

The Organization says they plan to move Jimmy Paredes to play center field. I say, are you KIDDING??? But the good news is that this means no more Jordan Schafer. They expect Jimmy to hit for average and power in the majors because he had a .823 OPS at AAA. Well, Moore hit better, as did Fernando Martinez, Brian Bixler and Brandon Barnes. We’ll just have to see. I’m sorry Barnes isn’t doing better – he’s an Original Astro and I was hoping he’d do well. But he’s comfortably fit into the morass of suckage, so he’ll be gone or back in AAA next year. At least he’ll have lifetime health insurance now.

Tomorrow, it’s lefty Barry Zito vs Dallas Keuchel. Will be interesting to see if Brett Wallace is gonna be playing.

8/23/12: Astros Hold An 11 Game Lead As Cards Sweep And Rockies Can’t Stop Winning

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Yes friends and neighbors and 2 dozen remaining Astros fans, it’s true. The Rockies have slipped away and have accumulated 5 straight wins, to raise their win total to 50, while the Twins, the next in line competitor, has 51.

HAH

They’ll never catch us now!!! The magic number still stands at 2, which will give us 41 wins on the year and earn us the title of Worst Team Evah In A 162 Game Season. Yessah, all we need to do is continue to suck just as much. Hey, EVER Body contributed this series. Bud Norris gave up the game loser with a wild pitch yesterday, while guys flailed away at Lohse, who gifted us with 2 solo homers. Bud gave up a lot of long fly balls and only struck out 1. Yeah, Bud, Mr. Strikeout guy, or at least he used to be. Wonder what Broakie is doing with him – fewer Ks, higher ERA and more homers.

Today, Dallas Keuchel was gifted with an appearance vs Jake Westbrook, the Cards’ worst pitcher. Even Fernando Martinez managed to hit the ball!!! When Keuchel came to the mound in the 4th, the Astros led 4-0 and the record was in danger. Keuchel came through, giving up a nice 3 run homer to make it close, and although the guys added another run, Keuchel went to the mound in the 5th, gave up 2 straight singles, then Brett Wallace couldn’t manage to throw the ball to Altuve and so Jon Jay reached on a sac bunt/E 1. Bases loaded.

Manager Tony De Francesco-ie doesn’t leave Dallas in to get slammed. Oh no. He pulls the boy (59 pitches) and sends in Hector Ambriz, newly called up from AAA, the only reliever left who had an ERA under 4.80. Armando Galarraga has been released and they’ll call up someone who sucks just as bad, but probably has a future of some sort, to take his place for an ass-kicking. Only this time, he won’t be surrounded by a high powered offense, poor guy.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. So Ambriz comes through to continue the fine tradition of suck and gives up an infield single, then a bases clearing double, to let all of poor Keuchel’s runs score. By the end of the inning, the Cards are up 8-5 and we all know the game is ovah, the question is only how many more runs the bullpen will allow.

Mickey Storey gives up 1, Xavier Cedeno gives up 1, then is pulled with 2 on, for Rhiner Cruz.

You see, my friends, the leftylefty rightyrighty stuff is continuing, business as usual, so it wasn’t Millsie-poo. Naturally, Cruz gives up Cedeno’s 2 runners.

Jose Altuve had his 45th multi-hit game. Fernando Martinez hit 2 doubles, which might unfortunately fool the FO into thinking he might could be a major leaguer. Steven Pearce has an arm like a noodle and he doesn’t know which base to throw to or what a cutoff man is for.

Day off tomorrow, then it’s off to meet the Mets, greet the Mets.  Who are eagerly looking forward to a sweep. I mean of the Astros, not getting swept their own selves. The Mets have problems of their own, namely a lousy team and a penniless ownership and an 18 mill sunken cost useless OF in Jason Bay (watch him get a hit every AB vs the Astros) and a 15 mill star face of the franchise third baseman who is a Good Guy and who they can’t figure out how to get rid of or bad mouth so that he sounds bad and they sound good (they should go take lessons from Boston.)

We won’t be facing Johan, who was flogged like a dying horse after his no hitter until his back gave out and he was finally put on the DL – like they couldn’t tell that a 5+ ERA over his subsequent starts might could mean something was wrong. I guess they figure that if they gonna pay the sumbidge 18 mill a year, if he can breathe, he gonna pitch, seein as how they don’t care about his future and they ain’t goin nowheres anyhow.

So, the only question is – can the Astros manage to keep the death grip on last place to get Stephen Strasburg out of the spotlight for even a minute? You know how his GM (and agent) have INSISTED that they are shutting him down, pennant or no pennant, WS or no WS, after 180 innings or so, and the sportswriters are saying stuff like if Strasburg were any sort of man, he would be throwing a temper tantrum so they could have something more funner to write about.

 

8/10/12: Bogusevic Hits The Astros First Walkoff Hit This YEAR To Beat Brewers

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Yes, you read that right!! Bogu is the HE ro!!!!!

Sorry, I have an irrational like of this guy who should have been a regular major league center fielder  - he made a GREAT catch at the base of the Hill to rob Aramis Ramirez. Bogu has had a terrible August, just like everyone else, made 2 stupid errors, failed to come through in the clutch. Until tonight. This is almost as good as the granny he hit offn Carlos Marmol last year.

Bud Norris was pretty darn good tonight – gave up 3 doubles down the LF line to Rickie Weeks. Fernando Martinez moves like glue. Yes, Fernando. Julio Daniel got sent down, remember? Anyway, one run scored on a ROE, then a double. Second on a double, single, then a WP – What IS it with Astros catchers not being able to block pitches???!!! Third run on another single, then RBI double in the LF corner. 8 hits, no walks, 7 K.

It’s just too bad that Bud didn’t get a W on a night he pitched well. Of course, that happens to Astros starters a LOT. No run support, no bullpen. You know the story.

What on earth happened to Jon Axford? Did he lose his stuff or did the league just catch up with him?

Tomorrow is the rematch of Dallas Keuchel and Marco Estrada. Dallas better hope he gets good infield defense THIS time, seeing as how he is an inferior version of Chris Sampson.