Archive for the ‘Mark Loretta’ Category

12/9/08: Loretta Signs With Dodgers; Astros Replace Him With Kata

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

He’s going to be a backup to Dewitt, (probably) Blake and Hu knows for 1.9 mill.

The Astros have let both Loretta and Newhan go and have signed ex-Diamondback Matt Kata, the very definition of a AAAA guy. Their explanation is that they want someone who can play second AND short, to allow Tejada to have days off. You know, like Burke was there to give Biggio a day off here and there.

It is true that Kata is signed to a cheaper minor league contract, saving around a mill. Isn’t that special. But the guy played 9 games at SS on 07, 1 game in 05, 1 game in 04 and 6 games in 03. HARDLY what I’d call a guy who can “play short.”  His bat isn’t even up to Newhan’s – the guy the Astros chose to keep off the 40 man for fear they might could have to pay him an extra hundred thou.

Kata spent 08 in AAA for the Pirates, who had a lineup FULL of topnotch .300 hitting infielders. And his OPS there was .680. His last stint in the majors was in 07, in which he had 70 AB for the Rangers and 88 for the Pirates with an OPS of .602. Oh WHERE is Brad Ausmus’ mighty bat when you really NEED it?

Seriously, the guys ML line reads .242/.296/.381/.667 – and that is because 288 of his 645 ABs came in 2003, his first year, in which he had a .725 OPS. His very top OPS was .629, 4 years ago.

A SS who can back up Tejada – my butt.

Oh yeah – and forget an Adam Everett comeback – he just signed with the Tigers.

We’d better pray Maysonnet can manage to hit. Tommy Manzella hit AAA pitching worse than Adam Everett did.

Oh yeah – the only decent, cheap FA catcher signed with the Braves. Will be interesting to see who Fast Eddie manages to pick up because from all indications, Towles is finished as an Astro.

12/3/08: Astros Don’t Offer Arb To Wolf, Brocail Or Loretta

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Best I understand, the Astros don’t want Mark Loretta back, period. He was paid 3.5 mill this year, and certainly would get an arb raise and they just don’t want to pay for a utility guy, even though they are out there looking for a cheaper one.

They haven’t offered arb to Wolf, because they are afraid he will accept and then they will be stuck having to pay him around 9-10 mill for 1 year – exactly why they think he would be paid less in a multi year contract I do not get, but, they are staying cheap this year. I also guess they think he couldn’t be traded to any of the other clubs trying to sign him neither.

shrug

Doug Brocail was re-signed. He would have gotten 3.25 mill if his option had been picked up. So he was re-signed to a 2.5 mill contract and a 250K buyout for next year if they don’t pick up his option. He is also up for incentives this year, so they actually could end up paying about the same.

This means they won’t spend the couple mill to re-acquire Russ Springer, who has been a better pitcher than Brocail over the last 2 years. The Astros threw him out on his ear a couple years back because they wanted Rick White, who they thought for some strange unknown reason could pitch more than 1 inning AND pitch bettern Springer.

I’m wondering if they are gonna re-sign Backe, then try to trade him, of if they will just non-tender him. They got 10 days to decide…

2008 Astros Free Agents

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Here is the complete list courtesty of mlbtraderumors.com:

Type A

Bobby Abreu (Yankees)
Doug Brocail (Astros)
A.J. Burnett (Blue Jays)
Pat Burrell (Phillies)
Orlando Cabrera (White Sox)
Juan Cruz (Diamondbacks)
Ryan Dempster (Cubs)
Adam Dunn (Diamondbacks)
Brian Fuentes (Rockies)
Brian Giles (Padres)
Bob Howry (Cubs)
Orlando Hudson (Diamondbacks)
Raul Ibanez (Mariners)
Jason Isringhausen (Cardinals)
Derek Lowe (Dodgers)
Damaso Marte (Yankees)
Jamie Moyer (Phillies)
Mike Mussina (Yankees)
Darren Oliver (Angels)
Oliver Perez (Mets)
Andy Pettitte (Yankees)
Manny Ramirez (Dodgers)
Edgar Renteria (Tigers)
Francisco Rodriguez (Angels)
C.C. Sabathia (Brewers)
Ben Sheets (Brewers)
Russ Springer (Cardinals)
Mark Teixeira (Angels)
Jason Varitek (Red Sox)
Kerry Wood (Cubs)

That’s 30 Type As, though Giles and Marte may have their options picked up and Mussina may retire.

Type B

Jeremy Affeldt (Reds)
Moises Alou (Mets)
Garret Anderson (Angels)
Joe Beimel (Dodgers)
Casey Blake (Dodgers)
Hank Blalock (Rangers)
Milton Bradley (Rangers)
Paul Byrd (Red Sox)
Mike Cameron (Brewers)
Alan Embree (Athletics)
Eric Gagne (Brewers)
Jon Garland (Angels)
Luis Gonzalez (Marlins)
Ken Griffey Jr. (White Sox)
Mark Grudzielanek (Royals)
Trevor Hoffman (Padres)
Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks)
Jeff Kent (Dodgers)
Paul Lo Duca (Marlins)
Braden Looper (Cardinals)
Mark Loretta (Astros)
Brandon Lyon (Diamondbacks)
Greg Maddux (Dodgers)
Trever Miller (Rays)
Miguel Olivo (Royals)
Brad Penny (Dodgers)
Dennys Reyes (Twins)
Ivan Rodriguez (Yankees)
Brian Shouse (Brewers)
John Smoltz (Braves)
Frank Thomas (Athletics)
Salomon Torres (Brewers)
Juan Uribe (White Sox)
David Weathers (Reds)
Randy Wolf (Astros)
Gregg Zaun (Blue Jays)

Interesting that Brocail is  Type-A. I didn’t think he was that good. I would guess that the Astros will try to re-sign all 3 guys. At the very least, they will again offer arb to Loretta and certainly to Wolf, who they want to keep anyway. I am reasonably certain they will re-sign Brocail.

10/22/08: Evaluating Evan Brunell’s Playing Astros GM

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I know I have not yet reviewed the Astros 2008 Season or evaluated Ed Wade’s moves, or even said anything about what he might could do for next year, but other people sure have.

Evan Brunell, a Red Sox fan, has taken a crack at it.

So I’m going to take a look at Evan’s evaluation.

“The Astros were a joke for much of 2008, and Ed Wade was widely lambasted for acquiring starter Randy Wolf and reliever LaTroy Hawkins for the stretch run. The joke was on the pundits as the Astros injected themselves into the wild card chase and came within a hurricane of realistically having won it. They did all that without left-fielder Carlos Lee, who was injured shortly before the big run. The Astros will continue to make steps to contend…”

A joke?

No, it was the 2007 Astros who were a joke – making an entire year be all about a faded prima donna’s farewell tour, playing my Aunt Sally in a wheelchair in a stupid effort to avoid giving Luke Scott a regular job, Jason Jennings, kicking Pettitte’s ass on his way out the door – I could go on.

The 2008 Astros were at least respectable before Shawn Chacon, um, shall we say, uh, didn’t allow Ed Wade to diss him – and before they went on a refusal to win June. They had their first big run in May, then restarted a run in late July on the back of a suddenly ace Roy Oswalt, and surging Carlos Lee and then, after his season ending injury, Ty Wigginton’s career month.

And hurricane or no hurricane, the Astros weren’t going to win, let’s be honest here…

Houston Astros resign starting pitcher Randy Wolf, reliever Doug Brocail, reliever LaTroy Hawkins.

Wolf equipped himself very well for the Astros after spurning them in the off-season to sign with the San Diego Padres. Wolf has enjoyed his time in Houston and says that location will not dicate his next team. With Ed Wade as GM, who loves Wolf, it’s hard to see Wade letting Wolf walk.  Brocail’s option was declined by the Astros as he was due to make $3.5 million, which is understandable. Wade should be able to bring Brocail back for a lower price. Hawkins was terrible as a New York Yankee but pitched well enough in Houston that his return should be a given.”

- Well, Ed Wade thinks highly of Randy Wolf for some reason and WANTS to re-sign him, that part is correct. And yeah, I know what Wolf now sez, but I still think he’d prefer to gome home to the West Coast – that is, unless Wade gives him some stupid, overpriced contract. I would also agree here that Wade, who can NOT get enough mediocre middle relievers, will re-sign Brocail, who lives here and wants to come back, and Hawkins, who will be skewered by fans when he fails to repeat his 08 Astros performance, ESPECIALLY if Wade trades Valverde and puts Hawkins in the closer role.

Houston Astros sign starting pitcher Josh Fogg.

The Astros will likely spend much of the offseason trying to convince Andy Pettitte to rejoin the Astros, but Pettitte will steadfastly maintain its the Yankees or retirement. With much of the starting pitchers off the board by then, Wade will go after Fogg who has the nickname of the “Dragon Slayer.” They’ll also have Chris Sampson and Brian Moehler for rotation candidates. Besides, doesn’t Fogg smack of an Ed Wade signing?”

- Um, no.

The bridge with Andy Pettitte isn’t merely broken, it has been disintegrated as it was the OWNER who didn’t want him back after the 05 season. As for signing Josh Fogg – dear Jeeezus Gawd – whatever for? We ALREADY have Brandon Backe, who is better and cheaper. And Backe is NOT good. And Fogg has very few innings as a reliever and his career ERA as a reliever is 5.84.

Ed LUUUUVVVVSS middle relievers and signs too many, but Fogg is a crappy 5th starter, and Ed Wade is not infamous for signing too many crappy 5th starters. Even Shawn Chacon was a better bet last year. Fogg has never ever had even ONE season of being UP to league average – of an ERA+ of 100.

Houston Astros sign shortstop/third baseman Felipe Lopez.

Lopez, who was sent to the Washington Nationals from the Cincinnati Reds in a highly controversial trade a few years ago, never panned out in D.C. Finally freed this season, he headed to St. Louis and rebuilt enough value that he should land a starting gig somewhere. Wade will bring him aboard to start at third base with an eye towards moving him to shortstop and Miguel Tejada to third down the line. It could be as soon as 2009 if Wade can convince Tejada.”

-  Lopez never panned out in Cincy either. As a glove, he made Mark Loretta look like Adam Everett. I’m singularly unimpressed by 156 AB at the end of his EIGHTH major league season, as I am with his lifetime line of .262/.330/.395/.725 – translation of an 89 OPS+ which is not exactly worth jettisoning Wiggy for. Tejada’s only value is his glove, as we are talking about a “hitter” whose RCAA was as negative as Brad Ausmus in 07, his last full season. Any team who deliberately employs Lopez as a full time starter is asking for terrible fielding and lousy hitting.

If Ed Wade really does sign Fogg and Lopez and jettison Wigginton, Loretta and any cheap crappy 5th starter we ALREADY have, then, as the old saying goes, Houston, we have a problem…

Houston Astros trade third baseman Ty Wigginton to the Texas Rangers for catcher Gerald Laird.

The Rangers will be in the market for a third baseman and the Astros have (inexplicably) soured on Wigginton. Wigginton will give the Rangers a nice source of offense and Laird will solve the Astros’ catching conundrum. This acquisition by no means should intimate that the Astros give up on J.R. Towles, but they also can’t rely on Towles to contribute next year. Laird will allow Towles to continue his learning curve as a backup catcher.”

- I think that Evan must hate the Astros, Ed Wade or both.

Laird has a lifetime 79 OPS+ and his career high is 120 games. And he is NOT a good defensive catcher. What a terrible trade – it would make MUCH more sense, if the Astros were to trade Wiggy, to trade him for Taylor Teagarden. At least he has a future. Laird is just another backup. Wiggy hasn’t had an OPS+ under 100 for the past 4 years. And he has a league average glove at third as well.

Houston Astros sign utility player Damion Easley.

With Mark Loretta departing for the San Diego Padres, the Astros will be in the market for a backup and should find Easley an interesting choice. I remember way back when he was sucking up money as a terrible player for the Detroit Tigers. He’s gone a long way towards rebuilding his value since then.”

- Since when is Loretta leaving for the Padres? Moores is in the middle of a very expensive hostile divorce and he’s trying to cut payroll to the bone. He’s trying to trade a deluxe ace pitcher who will cost 8 mill next year and he sure as heck isn’t going to sign a utility guy for 3-4 mill a year. AND this management likes Loretta.

- As for Easley, cmon, he’s even oldern Loretta. Why would anyone assume that he is not going to deteriorate? But on the other hand, hey the Astros fans will LOVE the guy, he pretty much never walks or strikes out AND he GIDP 15 times/357 PA. He could be the new Miggy Tejada!!!!

“The Astros — especially with these moves outlined above — are very close to being a legitimate contender. There will still be several question marks for starting pitchers, but nothing that can’t be solved via the trade market later in the year. They can bank on Brandon Backe continuing his return from Tommy John surgery and Wandy Rodriguez continuing to improve.”

- I’m missing how 1- adding another crappy backup catcher, a terrible 5th starter and a dreadful SS/3B; 2- substituting one ordinary utility guy for another; 3- removing one of the 3 decent hitters on the team; would make this team into a contendah.

- If the Astros kept Wandy, Wolf, Backe, Moehler and Oswalt, what on earth use would they have for the crapulous Fogg?

sigh

Not sure that Wade could make this team a contender – he has basically no farm to work with and not much to trade. But I am indeed sure that Laird, Fogg, Lopez and Easley are not exactly the ticket.

8/2/08: Coop Plays Garner With Relievers But Loretta Bails Him Out With Grand Slam

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

It was the Return Of Home Run Field, and Brandon hit one out, his second of the year,  and didn’t give any up. He gave up 10 hits – 9 singles, including 4 infield hits that weren’t fielded and 3 walks. – 3 ER over 6 IP.

Not bad.

Pedro Martinez was certainly not the old Pedro – gave up 5 hits, 3 solo homers and 2 walks – 3 ER. He’s a whole different pitcher – not much movement in the FB and the change ain’t what it used to be. He lasted 5 innings – 87 pitches.

Every hitter in the Stros lineup got a hit, even Quintero, except for Wiggy. Loretta’s pinch hit slam into the Crawford Boxes against Heilman was the difference maker.

I do, however, think that Cooper’s strategy of having one reliever pitch to one batter in the 7th – Byrdak, then Sampson, the Wright, was absolutely wasteful, and if Loretta hadn’t hit that slam and broken the tie in the bottom of the 8th, WHO was gonna pitch? Hawkins??? Plus, getting up and down tires out relievers just as much as pitching them an entire inning. He’s gonna use WHO tonight?

And tonight, it’s a marquee aces matchup – Roy vs Johan Santana.
Roy has done pretty well against the Mets: 5-4 in 11 GS over 71.1 IP – 74 h, 7 HR, 22 BB, 59 K: 3.52 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .266 BAA.

He only managed 5 innings against Cincy last outing and hopefully, he’ll be stronger this time.
Johan is being labeled a disappointment for the Mets because his record is 9-7 0ver 22 GS and 147,1 IP – He does have 16 Qs and a 2.93 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. I guess people think that an ace should throw CG shutouts every start and the fact that ones team needs to manufacture like RUNS means nothing to too many people.

Anyway, he’s only thrown 5 innings vs the Astros (in 05) and he gave up 1 run.
Me, I’d love to se a pitchers’ duel in which the Astros win because The Jackal boots the winning run…

ADDENDUM:
For those of you just joining us (as the saying goes) I’ve talked about why I hate Carlos The Jackal every time we play the Mets. But to say it again, it’s like this: Me, I don’t begrudge the ballplayers one cent. The owners are billionaires making 30-50 mill a year from their teams and I believe that ballplayers who, after all, are the ones who do the entertaining, should get their fair share. I also think that any ballplayer who is a FA or has 10/5 rights, has the right to play anyplace he wishes for any team that wants him. Which means that if a player has a no-trade and he doesn’t WANT to be traded, that is his RIGHT – he EARNED it.

I don’t have anything against the many players who left the Astros, either through trade because they didn;t like it here (Mike Hampton) or when they were FA because they wanted to play somewhere else (Randy Johnson) and it isn’t always about being outbid or Drayton being cheap.
The reason Carlos The Jackal is the exception is because he LIED and said he wanted to stay in Houston when he really wanted to go to NY (he had signed a contract to write a book called “My First Year In Pinstripes” by the beginning of December, long before he signed with the Mets) and he dragged things out with his lies so darn long that by the time he FINALLY signed with the Mets, it was too late for the Astros to go out and get another big bat (and remember, this was right at the time that Drayton threw Gerry out and decided to be his own GM.) It screwed up the Astros not only that year, but for many years. Oh yeah – and I didn’t appreciate Carlos THEN lying after he signed his contract with the Mets about how Drayton wouldn’t give him this or than when in fact he didn’t tell Drayton anything until his Mets contract was already signed.

And no, I’m not saying Carlos is not responsible and Boras is because Carlos HIRED Boras – it’s like the old story about the frog and the scorpion – he knew who the scorpion was BEFORE he picked him up…

5/15/08: Berkman Barrys The Giants For Another Comeback Win

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Astros were down 6-0 after the third against the Giant’s ace Tim Lincecome. 4 of the 8 position players’ BA were just barely above or below the Mendoza line. Tejada sat out. And yet, the Astros had yet ANOTHER come from behind victory. The guys hit, the bullpen held and the Stros won on Lance’s shot over the wall into Barry’s own personal waterway (no kayaks out there at all in spite of the temp being over 90. Guess no one figured that the Giants pitchers would actually like, you know, throw Lance a pitch to hit.)

The great thing about an afternoon game is that you get to watch it with your kids, even though they have gotten to the point where they don’t WANT to sit and watch the whole thing unless they think it will get them out of having to go to B-E-D.

Chris Sampson not only had to pitch with less offense behind him, but he also had to pitch with MUCH worse defense. I never thought I’d actually call Miggy a good defender, but compared to Loretta, he’s Adam Everett. First inning, right off, he costs Sampson 2 runs. With 1 out, man on first and third, he can’t make the play on a ball hit right to him on a hop – it trickles into center, run scores, no outs made. Da Bull scowls, crosses his arms and says – HEY, he’s supposed to catch that ball. Um, yeah.

So Chris has to pitch to 2 more guys, using 9 more pitches and 1 more run scores. He gets 1 ER because you can’t assume the DP, no matter how easy. He gets 1,2,3 in the second, but then again in the 3rd, he doesn’t get enough†defensive help. With one on, no out, Matsui bobbles a grounder and it isn’t called an error AND both runners are safe, when it should have been 1 out, man on second. The next hitter hits a double and it should have been man on second, one run. The next hitter hits a grounder to left that neither Loreta not Blum gets near. No Adam Everett here, so it’s a run in, but it should be men on first and third. The next hitter hits a ball to deep center and Michael Bourn of ALL people, misreads the ball, doesn’t catch it – it goes off his glove and it goes for a 2 run double, when it SHOULD have gone for a sac fly.

Sampson gets stuck with 4 runs, when it should have been 2. He’s behind 6-0.
The Astros stun Lincecome by getting 3 runs in the top of the 4th in spite of Lee swinging at a pitch that bounced in front of the plate for strike 3.

Sampson gets screwed again in the bottom of the 4th – He gets 2 out, then Lance gets to a tough hit behind the bag but then drops it and can’t get the throw to first in time. Then Winn hits a ball down the line that Lance just misses and it is men on second and third, 2 out. And then Loretta makes ANOTHER error on a ball hit right to him by throwing the ball very high and outside – should have been out #3, but instead is run #7.

And there he was, behind 7-3 after 4, when he really should have been leading 3-2.

Defense matters. Of course, you COULD say that Sampson should have kept the ball down on those long fly balls, and I wouldn’t exactly disagree, but you HAVE to have good defense for a ground ball pitcher, and Sampson just didn’t get what he needed. Sampson, however managed to get sinkers to sink and cruised through the 5th and 6th inning. Actually, I thought that he’d last 7, but he had to come out for a PH.

In came Dave Borkowski – I thought that Coop had thrown in the towel, but Bork gave up a single, then a lineout that Berkman made a GREAT play on to double off the runner. I guess it turned Astros luck around, because Bochy left in Tyler Walker for the 8th, after he’d gotten Pence to ground out after a steady diet of sliders.

Lance meekly grounded out, then Carlos hit a towering homer way over the cars in left and there we were 7-4 with 1 out. Then, it got to be luck time. Blum struck out on a ball in the dirt, which got away from the catcher and Blum beat the throw to first. Loretta singles. Then Coop pinch hits Erstad for the slumping, pressing Towles, and he hits the second pitch onto the RF walkway 10′ to the left of the foul line for a 3 run homer.

Game tied.

Ausmus, sent in to pinch hit, walks. Then Bochy pulls Walker, sends in a tough young lefty to face Bourn, gets him out, gives up a single to Kaz, then gets Pence to groundout – the boy had a bad day with RISP, 2 out – left 2 MOB twice.

Next inning, first pitch, Lance sends a nice, fat juicy changeup mid plate, mid thigh over the right field wall into Barry’s Bay. Yeah, it IS Barry’s Bay – only 16 of the 46 splashdown homers have NOT been hit by Barry. Chulk gives up a few more singles, but gets pinch hitter Tejada out and Ausmus out to end the inning.

I’m not sure I understand the good sense of throwing Lance a nice fat change instead of pitching carefully and maybe walking him, but hey, what can I say?

Geary came on, got an out, gave up a single and a walk and then left with groin pain. Tim Byrdak came in and got the other 2 outs without giving up a run.

I gotta hand it to Smith-Wade for picking up both Wesley Wright and Tim Byrdak. Dirt cheap AND good.

And last but not least, I gotta give it up for Valverde. Since he adjusted his mechanics after the debacle in Philly, he’s had 14 straight appearances with no ER given up and he has lowered his ERA from 12.27 to 4.15. Over 14.1 IP, he has 10 saves, 1 BS and 2 W. He has given up 6 H, 3 BB, 16 K. And he looks totally ace in every way.

Serious props to Dewey Robinson for finding the flaw and helping Valverde correct it and serious props for Valverde understanding the problem AND for being able to correct it so quickly and completely.

5/2/08: Bring On The Brewers

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

The Astros finished the road trip 4-4, better than their overall winning percent 13-16.

The Crew ended their road trip on a positive note, defeating Kerry Wood in the 9th. The Stros ended their road trip on a negative note, being beaten by a starting pitcher hitting a PINCH HIT homer. Bet the kangaroo court got poor ol Borkie-poo for that BIG time. I would guess that would be like Uncle Albert getting struck out on 3 pitches by a GRRRRL. I guess after that homer, that the rest of the league might could take Micah Owings more seriously as a hitter, you know what I’m saying. And after he hits a homer off of Peavy or Santana or Lincecum, I would guess more than a few people will be screaming that he needs to be made into a hitter instead of letting him keep pitching – as if good starting pitchers are just as plentiful as 5th OF.

But I digress.

Tonight, Ty Wigginton rejoins the lineup, hitting in the 7th hole. He replaces the limp bats of Geoff Blum .205/.213/.370/.583 (and so many of all yall complained about Everett) and Mark Loretta .216/.306/.270/.586 – last year, Wiggy, platooning (mostly) with Lamb until September, hit .284/.342/.462/.804. Loretta has actually hit BEST with MOB – .819 OPS and even better with RISP – .929; with bases empty, he only reached 10 of 44 PA – singles plus walks. Blum, on the other hand, hit poorly regardless of situation with OPS of 500 something.

However, as I have said many times, Wiggy has a BAD glove. I am going to start keeping track of all hits/runs he allows, whether or not they are called errors. Fielders allowing the opposition to score runs contributes to team losses, whether offense only fans believe it or not. Another Astros fan told me – “well, he makes most of the plays.” Isn’t that special? What an unhelpful comment. Every single major league fielder “makes most of the plays” including Clank Lee, Pat Burrell and Jason Giambi. If they didn’t, they would be immediately made into a DH. It is that small percentage of non-routine plays that make ALL the difference. And from what I’ve seen, Wiggy often simply doesn’t make them.

And, by the way, I am hardly claiming that either Loretta or Blum is even league average at third with the glove, either.

Pitching matchup for tonight is Roy Oswalt, RHP vs Carlos Villanueve, RHP

Roy has the worst month of his career this April, going 2-3 in 6 GS: 36 IP – 46 H, 7 HR, 9 BB, 27 K – 5.75 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and a .311 BAA. Now I know he couldn’t either locate of find his curve of slider the first 3 games, but except for Philly, he hasn’t really looked like an ace, just a slightly average to above average pitcher. It seems to me that Roy’s real problem is that he can’t seem to take advantage of a 0-2 or 1-2 count on a hitter and put them away when they are at greatest disadvantage. He often needs 3 or 4 more pitches to get the job done. (Anyone wanna bet that Towles will NOT be catching Roy?)

VS the Crew: 11-8 in 23 GS: 152.1 IP – 141 H, 11 HR, 36 BB, 134 K – 3.66 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a .248 BAA

Of the Brewers hitters, Kendall uses Roy for BP – yes, the famous singles hitter hits .417 and slugs .426 for a .934 OPS against in 45 PA. Billy Hall also hits Roy well with a .924 OPS against. The remainer of the lineup has a few hits here and there, but Roy best watch that #9 hitter.

Here are the lines of the Brewers (over 40 PA) this year:
Ryan Braun: .287/.308/.478/.787
Rickie Weeks: .204/.338/.352/.690
Bill Hall: .236/.283/.481/.764
Corey Hart: .301/.360/.427/.787
Prince Fielder: .240/.361/.427/.788
J.J. Hardy: .234/.305/.298/.603
Jason Kendall: .303/.370/.393/.763
Gabe Kapler: .296/.316/.593/.908
C. Counsell: .275/.341/.350/.691

Carlos Villanueva, RHP, age 24, has appeared for the Brewers as both a starter and reliever over the past 3 years. Career, he’s 11-9 in 17 GS and 54 in relief: 197.1 IP – 176 H (28 HR) 75 BB, 154 K: 3.97 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and a .237 BAA.
This year: 1-2 in 5 GS (last 2 were QS): 29 IP – 32 H (4 HR)

4/4/08: Chris Sampson vs Rich Hill

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Well, so far, the season has gone just about the opposite way from everyone’s predictions. Welcome to baseball.

- The starting pitching has been very good – even Wandy managed 5 innings in spite of his oblique pull, but he couldn’t throw the curve for a strike (well, only 2 of 21) and he hung 4 of them. Roy the Ace only gave up 3 runs in spite of having no working breaking pitch and only an OK fastball. Oh, and yeah, you most certainly CAN win using pretty much only an incredible FB – remember game 6 of the 05 NLCS?

- The bullpen has been very good. Even Doug Brocail, who looked like Woody Williams in ST, managed to not let runs score after loading the bases. Jose Valverde only let 1 run score, and it didn’t matter.

- Wiggy, Loretta, Blum and Tejada haven’t made errors. Berkman and Tejada have turned THREE double plays. Michael Bourn looks like a Gold Glove out there. He’s the total package – instincts, arm strength AND accuracy.

- The guys have been heads up on the basepaths. No Carlos Lee sauntering down to first. Guys are taking the extra base. Heck, even LANCE, of all people, has 2 stolen bases. He DOES like stealing third, doesn’t he? Even Ty Wigginton of ALL people stole a base yesterday – yeah, he beat Josh Bard, but hey, any effort to stay out of the DP sounds good to me.

BUT

The bats have been, well, limp. Except for Lance’s 3-run homer off Trevor Hoffman to win the third game, too many stranded runners. Looks like the past few years, doesn’t it? Who would have thought run support would be a problem AGAIN?

I must say though, I was really stunned to see Michael Bourn being given the day off yesterday in favor of Jr Cruz. Yes, I know he played a lot of CF 10 years ago when he was younger and faster, but geez, the last time he played more than a few dozen inning there was in 05, and let me just say his numbers weren’t exactly stellar – RF of 1.91 and ZR of .773 over 413 innings. By comparison, The Hated Chris Burke last year had a RF of 2.28 and a ZR of .883 over 201 innings. I understand wanting to give bench guys plenty of work, but unless we’re facing a lousy pitcher and/or are ahead by quite a lot, putting Jose in center is not a good idea. In fact, it cost us the ballgame yesterday, as Cruz wasn’t able to catch Hairston’s drive that fell for a triple. Bourn would have been all OVAH that ball. Actually, if Pence was still the CF, I would bet HE would have caught it.

Sure, you could say that Oscar Villareal should have thrown a less hittable pitch, but there is not such thing as a pitcher who doesn’t get hit, unless, of course, you’re talking about Eric Gagne on steroids pitching the 9th in 2003.

Cooper says he is going to give Darin Erstad a start in place of either Hunter Pence or Lee this weekend. He’s ofer 3 against Jason Marquis and 1/3 against Carlos Zambrano. Well, if there is one thing the Gritmeister can do, it is field. The rest of the team had darn well better hit.
Anyway, the Astros start a 3 game set in Wrigley today. It’s cold, might could be a bit rainy, but the team will be in the 40s with a NE wind blowing 20-30.

Sampson better hope the sinker is working – that is, unless I can’t tell directions and the wind is blowing IN from left instead of OUT to left.
Against the Cubs, Sampson is 2-0 in 4 GS and 2 in relief with 3 BB, 7 K, 10 H, 1 HR over 15.1 IP with a 0.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and a .189 BAA. They didn’t hit him for spit in his 7.1 innings at Wrigley. Should I point out that in both of his starts, Everett was his SS? Miggy had best get ready to field.

Trouble is that he’s facing Rich Hill, a lefty who has managed very well against the Astros. Rich Hill is a guy who is a good pitcher who flies under the radar because he pitched poorly his first year (and 23 innings) in the ML. However, last year he threw very well, going 11-8 in 32 GS with 170 H, 27 HR, 63 BB and 187 K over 195 IP with a 3.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a .235 BAA. You notice that he gave up fewer hits than IP – he got hurt by the homers.
At Wrigley, he’s 10-5 in 27 GS and 3 in relief with 144 H, 20 HR, 63 BB, 149 K over 165 IP with a 4.04 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and a .235 BAA. That’s pretty darn good – again, he gets beat by homers.

He’s had 3 starts against the Astros – 1 run in 7 IP, 1 run in 7 IP and 5 runs in 5 IP, and that last game was, in fact, at Wrigley.
Carlos Lee is 2/9 with a homer, a BB and a K
Wigginton is 2/8 with a double, a walk and 4 K
Lance is 1/7 with a HR, a BB and a K
Loretta is 2/5 with a HR, a walk and a K
Pence is 2/4 with a double, 2 BB and a K
Junior Cruz is 0fer 3 with 2 BB and a K
Brad Ausmus is 2/3
GO STROS!!!!

Oh yeah – I was interviewed by Byron Clarke of Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, a Cubs blog. Check the name of that blog – and some of all yall think I’m negative??? Click here to read.

Astros Spring Training 2008 2 Week Review – Hitters

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Well, it IS just spring training and we ARE only talking small sample sizes, but let’s take a look…
It’s going to be interesting to see if Cooper is going to stick to his initial plan of batting Matsui second and Pence 6th, and it is going to be even MORE interesting to see where he ends up putting Berkman, Lee and Tejada in the lineup as Tejada isn’t hitting and Lee is saying he doesn’t want to bat 5th. Berkman and Lee are both better hitters than Tejada…

The regular lineup:
Bourn: 13/36 with 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 RS, 6 BB, 9 K, 7 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS: .361/.452/.500
Matsui: 6/18 with 2 2B, 6 RS, 1 BB, 3†K, 4 RBI,2†SB, 0 CS: .333/.350/.444
Tejada: 7/29 with 5 2B, 4 RS, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS: .241/.267/.414
Berkman: 8/24 with 2 @B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RS, 3 BB, 7 K, 4 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS: .333/.393/.750
Lee: 7/22 with 2 HR and 3 RS, 2 BB, 1 K, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS: .313/.360/.591
Pence: 14/41 with 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RS, 3 BB, 5 K, 9 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS: .341/.378/.561
Wigginton: 7/34 with 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RS, 0 BB, 3 K, 4 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS: .206/.229/.412
Towles: 7/15 with 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RS, 1 BB, 2 K, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS:

Expected bench:
Loretta: 10/29 with 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RS, 1 BB, 2 K, 9 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS: .345/.406/.448
Blum: 8/31 with 2 2B, 5 RS, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 RBI, 0 SB, o CS: .258/.343/.355
Erstad: 9/28 with 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RS, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS: .321/.345/.571
Cruz: 12/41 with 7 doubles, 6 RS, 3 BB, 9 K, 7 RBI, 1 SB,†0 CS/ .293/.341/.390
Ausmus: 6/16 with 2 2B, 3 RS, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS: .375/.375/.500
Diaz: 5/26 with 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RS, 2 BB, 10 K, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS: .192/.250/.493

The rest of the 40 man/minor leaguers/NRIs:
Newhan: 8/30 with 2 3B, 4 RS, 2 BB, 3 K, 5 RBI, 4 SB, 0 CS: .267/.303/.400
Abercrombie: 5/29 with 2 2B,†4 RS, 4 BB, 5 K, 2 RBI, 5 SB, 2 CS: .172/.273/.242
Perez: 5/29 with 2 2B, 3 RS, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS: .172/.250/.276
Quintero: 8/21 with 1 2B, 3 RS, 2 BB, 2 K, 6 RBI, 0 SB, 0†CS: .381/.435/.429
Gorneault: 7/14 with 1 2B, 6 RS, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 1 CS: .500/.563/.571

Johnson, Sutton, Castillo, Maysonnet, C. Johnson and Klassen all have a couple ABs and won’t make the ML team, but are still being used as filler. In case you are curious, Tommy Manzella, who was sent down before either Tomas Perez or Maysonnet was hitting .315 and SLG .431

Comments: Brad Ausmus is hitting .375 and I feel he should be the #3 hitter with an average like that.
hahahahahaha

No, really, the point is that 30 – 40 AB over 2 weeks against pitchers trying to find the strike zone and a bunch of minor leaguers really isn’t particularly significant unless they aren’t even making good contact. Quintero is hitting .381 and we ALL know that won’t last, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we open the season with 3 catchers because Quintero is out of options and would more likely pass through waivers in the first week of the season – we can always call up a pitcher.

By the way, not only is Tejada not hitting well or fielding well (4 errors already), he has GIDP 3 times. Peachy. And as for Matsui, well, as I’ve said before, he has never played more than 114 games in a season, so even though he doesn’t have a baseball related injury, it’s still a pain in the butt. So to speak…

At this point, I would guess that Cruz will be the last bench guy, not Diaz and that unfortunately Erstad is hitting over .300, so even though that means about the same as Ausmus hitting .375, it will convince the Organization that the Gritmeister should make it.

Next entry will focus on pitching. What there isn’t of it…

And of COURSE all yall want to know how things are going in dog land. The puppies are growing FAST and like kids, once they figure out there is a world outside of the crib, they want to explore every corner of it. They ARE going to new homes by Opening Day no matter HOW much the kids (including very large husband-type kid) complain/whine/plead. After all, isn’t it always the Big Guy telling me that three dogs are ENUF???!!!

Let’s just say that in around 3 weeks, it’s going to be niiiiiiice and quiet.
Well, OK, quietER.

Getting Defensive About The 2008 Astros

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

I keep hearing how the Astros defense is going to be SOOOOOOO much better this year. I don’t get it.

Let’s take a look at the starters:
First Base: Berkman is Berkman – way below average as a  defender. Yes, no more Mike Lamb, but it is not like one great glove at first was replaced with a lousier one. And Loretta is even worse at first.
Second Base - Biggio to Matsui (Assuming Matsui will play 2 out of every 3 games, based on his history during his 6 year ML career) definitely better; Biggio to Loretta/Blum for the other 1/3 – minimal to no improvement there.
Shortstop – Everett to Tejada – ENORMOUS downgrade; Loretta to Tejada – some improvement, but not a whole lot, unfortunately.
Third Base – Ensberg to Wigginton – significant downgrade; Lamb to Wiggy -barely an upgrade as both are terrible gloves.
Catcher – Ausmus/Munson to Towles/Ausmus – no real obvious difference at this point as Ausmus has been declining with age and Towles hasn’t caught enough to really evaluate well, except to say that he doesn’t have a reputation as a lousy defender.
Left Field – It’s still Carlos Lee and he’s just awful and there is zero reason to think that a perennial lousy defender will suddenly improve.
CF/RF – Pence/Scott to Bourn/Pence – Pence and Scott were both average to a little above average; Bourn has a good reputation, but very few innings and we’ll have to see how well Pence handles right. I would assume that Pence will not be worse in right than he was in center and he has a reasonably strong arm – we’re not talking Pierre/Damon here – and, unlike Willy Taveras, Pence knows what a cutoff man is and how to throw to him. There may be some upgrade, but it won’t be much.

Conclusion – there is NO great defensive upgrade with the exception of the 100-114 games Matsui replaces Biggio at second. Like Porky Pig says at the end of the original Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 century cartoon, Big Deal…