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Archive for the ‘Oscar Villarreal’ Category

Trick Or Treat – Reviewing Ed Wade’s 07/08 Trades

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Well, there are Effing A trades, Effing F trades and everything in between.

There are trades done for short term gain, for long term gain and because your owner told you to trade some guy. Given the fact that it is extremely difficult to ascertain just how much input Drayton had on each trade, given that Drayton’s middle name is – I’m a better GM than You Are, I am not going to call Eddie Wade either a genius or a nincompoop. Well, not a total nincom POOP (dang I LUUUUVVV that word. I watch too much Daffy Duck…)

Remember that Ed was not responsible for the trades of Ensberg, who fetched a couple pieces of chewed gum or something, which is what he was worth by then (let this be a lesson to stupid macho types who think that playing hurt is a wonderful terrific selfless thing to do for the team. The “macho” refers to stupid players, their stupid teammates, stupid fans and stupid sportswriters, both amateur and professional.)

The Dan Wheeler for Ty Wigginton trade was also Purpura’s. Poor ol Pur-puppet is pretty much remembered for trading future Hall of Famer Willy Taveras for Jason Jennings and (supposedly) running off Pettitte. Ahem.  

Also, from the 2007 team, Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, Eric Munson and Jason Jennings were not tendered a contract and Biggio and Orlando Palmeiro retired.

And I strongly suspect that Ed Wade was ordered to get rid of Lidge, Burke, Albers and Scott (of those traded, not non-tendered) and ordered to acquire Tejada (who Drayton has wanted since the HR Derby in 04 – or so I hear tell.)

OK. Trade time.

1 – Jason Lane to the Padres for 10 bucks and a dollar dog.

sigh. Unfortunately, this is one of those trades in which both sides came out even. Poor Jason Lane. Damm I wish I knew what on earth happened to that poor boy. The Astros wasted away at least 2 years of his youth keeping him in AAA, then keeping him on the bench. Sigh. But let’s remember he was instrumental to the 2005 pennant, just as Mo Ensberg was.

2 – Chris Burke, Chad Qualls and Juan Gutierrez to the Diamondbacks for Jose Valverde.

Money -  955K + 1.3125 mill + 390K (2.66 mill) : 4.7 mill 

Performance:- Juan Gutierrez: AAA – 116.2 IP over 22 GS, 3 relief – 6.09 ERA, 1.68 WHIP – 44BB, 87 K 11 HR, 11.73 hits/9 IP. His worst performance of his career.
- Chris Burke: he never recovered from his shoulder injury. 199 PA over 86 games: 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 22 BB, 33 K, 2 GIDP, 3 sac fly, 12 RBI. .194/.310/.273/.583 and (-) 12 RCAA
- Chad Qualls: Good – 73.2 IP/77 G with a career low ERA of 2.81 and a 1.05 WHIP, 18 BB, 77 K, 4 HR and .597 OPS against. Bad was him blowing 8 saves (and they lost every one of those games) as a set up man and 2 more losses. Oh yeah – and he Francoed 4 more games, blowing the lead and getting inherited ruinners assigned to the other guy so that THEY were tagged for the L. Total – he lost his team 14 games. However, with the collapse of Brandon Lyon in September, he was made the closer and saved 7 of the last 8 games, giving up only 2 hits and a BB. + 15 RSAA. Interesting that RSAA does not reflect games lost/blown.
- Jose Valverde – After a VERY rough beginning over the first 3 weeks, he only blew 4 more saves and lost 1 more over the remainder of the year while saving 44. Not Lidge, but darn good. 72 IP over 74 games – 10 HR, 23 BB, 83 K and a .686 OPS against. Total – he lost his team 5 games, but unlike Arizona, the Astros came back to win 4 games. 8 RSAA

Conclusion: I would have to say that the Astros ended up on the winning side of this trade in spite of paying 2 mill for just 1 player – at least so far. Since they got rid of Lidge, they simply HAD to have someone who could close, and there was absolutely no one on the 40 man who could take Lidge’s place and they obviously either wanted Qualls gone or didn’t think he had what it takes to close. Valverde saved 44 games and won 2 more while losing the team only 5 games (although it could have been 9) and Qualls, although he had better numbers, lost his team 14 games. Burke provided next to nothing as a utility guy. The Astros have control of Valverde for 09 and the Diamondbacks have 2 more years of Qualls and I would guess that Burke is finished and Gutierrez looks as if he won’t make the majors. (Interesting that Qualls has 15 RSAA and Valverde 8 – and Brad Lidge only 19??!!!?)

I should mention that one of the reasons (besides $$$) that the Dbax were comfortable trading Valverde away was that they thought Brandon Lyon could step and be an A-list closer and they could get 2 prospects at the end of the year when they let him walk. They sure were wrong on that score.

3 – Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Troy Patton and AAA player Mike Constanzo to the Orioles for All-Star Miguel Tejada.

Money - 430K + 395K + 390K + 390K (1.61 mill) : 13 mill (and 13 mill next year)

Performance:- Luke Scott: 536 PA over 148 G: 29 double, 2 triple, 23 HR, 53 BB, 102 K, 7 GIDP, 3 SF, 65 RBI from the 6-hole (mostly) 7 RCAA
- Matt Albers: as a reliever, 37.2 IP over 23 G: 31 H, 19 BB, 3 HR, 22 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .230 BAA; as a starter, terrible – 3 games, 11.1 IP, 8 ER and he still ended up with 5 RSAA
- Dennis Sarfate: as a reliever, 64 IP over 53 G: 43H, 48 BB, 3 HR, 71 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .195 BAA; terrible as a starter – 10.38 ERA over 14 IP and 4 GS – lowered his RSAA from 5 to (-3)
- Mike Constanzo: AAA (his first year) .261/.333/.395/728 – 52 BB, 159 K over 483 AB. Not great for a 3B – and I also remember he made 30 something errors, too – can’t find the stat page, unfortunately,
- Miguel Tejada: 666 PA over 158 G: .283/.314/.415/.729: 38 double, 3 triple, 13 HR, 24 BB, 77 K, 32 GIDP (a new NL record) 7 SB, 7 CS, (-)26 RCAA.

Conclusion: Definitely an Orioles win, both in terms of players and money. Sure I know that All-Star Tejada (reminds me of All-Star Lance Carter with the 6 something ERA a few years back) is popular in Houston because he is “energetic” and hits for average and seldom (shudder) walks. His glove was better than I dared hope, but I am not sure that at age 36, his agility will allow the same performance. His glove most certainly is not worth 13 million and his bat most definitely is not. He is essentially untradable because of his enormous salary and his rapidly declining power. I am still amused by all the people who were sooooo sure that Miggy would hit 50 homers fer SHER this year. And saddened by the number of people who think Barry Bonds is evil personified for (supposedly) using steroids but don’t mind one bit that Tejada did.

Oh, and by the way that (-)26 RCAA is exactly the same as Adam Everett’s 2006, his last full year. Tejada had 66 RBI batting 2nd, 3rd or 5th. Everett had 55 RBI batting 8th, behind Brad Ausmus. Yet, Everett’s bat was vilified and Tejada’s praised. It’s all in the BA.

Meanwhile, Luke Scott outplayed Hunter Pence (who had -7 RCAA), Albers was a nails reliever until he got hurt, Sarfate was good as a reliever, terrible as a starter and Troy Patton spent the year on the DL with a torn labrum – who knows if he will ever be able to pitch.

4 – Josh Anderson to the Braves for Oscar Villareal.

Money -  380 K : 2.6 mill

Performance:- Oscar Villareal: 37.2 execrable IP over 35 G – 5.05 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 12 HR, 17 BB, 21 K. He got tagged with 3 L and he blew 3 more that the Astros lost. (-) 3 RSAA
- Josh Anderson: in AAA, he hit .314/.358/.405/.763 over 453 AB with 23 double, 4 triples, 4 homers, 30 BB, 57 K, 42 SB, 7 CS; He had almost the same line over 142 AB in the majors once the Braves traded Kotsay and he had 2 RCAA. Did I mention that the guy is a great CF?

Conclusion: This is most DEFINITELY an effing F trade. Ed Wade needs to learn an important lesson here: John Schuerholz has been GM of the Braves since 1991. I can think of exactly two good pitchers he has traded since then – Jason Schmidt and Adam Wainwright (I would call Odalis Perez and Jason Marquis – OK major leaguers, some good years some bad. And they were both traded because they did not get along with Bobby and/or Leo.) That is it. He was wrong about exactly TWO guys. Two guys in 17 years should make you think a bazillion times before trading for a Braves pitcher, let alone signing him to a 2 year deal BEFORE you see how well he pitches. The Astros never thought much of Josh Anderson, who, like Bourn, is a lefty – and he was essentially a AAA lifer as far as the Astros were concerned. Ed’s high opinion of Michael has not been Bourn out by his performance, at least so far, and if Michael does not improve this year, it will essentially be a flushing of 2.6 mill down the toilet. Plus the loss of a Michael Bourn clone, only better, that we already had.

5 – Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to the Phillies for Michael Bourn, Geoff Geary and AAA player Mike Costanzo.

Money – 6.35 mill + 600K  : 396 K + 1.125 mill (Philly got incredibly more value for their 7 mill than the Astros did for their 1.5 mill)

Performance:- Brad Lidge: 69.1 IP/72 G: 2 HR, 35 BB, 92 K: 41 saves, ZERO BS, but he did cause the team to lose 1 by letting inherited runners score. 19 RSAA. An Effing A year, that is fer SHER. He only gave up runs when his team was already losing.
- Eric Bruntlett: .217/.297/.297/.584 over 238 PA with 15 RBI – used mostly as a DR after the 7th inning when the Phils were ahead (-) 16 RCAA
- Michael Bourn: 514 PA over 138 G: .229/.288/.300/.588: 10 doubles, 4 triples, 5 HR, 37 BB, 111 K, 41 SB, 10 CS, (-)29 RCAA. He did have a .603 OPS from the 7-hole instead of the leadoff spot, but it wasn’t particularly noticeable – well, his BA was .260 which is almost high enough to make the fans happy.
- Geoff Geary: 64 IP/55 G: 2.53 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12 hold, 2 BS,13 RSAA
- Mike Costanzo (see the Orioles trade)

Conclusion: So far, this looks like an effing F trade. Or at least a D- as Geary was a good middle relief guy when he wasn’t hurt. Bourn certainly has a better glove and is a much better baserunner than Pence, but as a leadoff guy, Bourn flunked. People LUUUVVVV to insist that Lidge had a mental problem, but it sure looks to me as if Lidge had an injured KNEE problem. But nonetheless, the fans and probably the owner wanted him gone and all I can say is that Bourn had better turn into Kenny Lofton for this trade to not be an unmitigated disaster. Oh yeah – and Eric Bruntlett was nails in the World Series – hit a homer and scored the winning run in 2 games.

As for Bourn, the team would have been a lot better off keeping Anderson and getting a starter for Lidge instead of yet another middle reliever and a guy who looks as if Gillick was right in assessing him as a DR.  

6 – AAA pitcher Chad Reinecke to the Padres for Randy Wolf

Money - around 80K : 3.7 mill

Performance:- Chad Reinecke 18 IP over 3 games and 1 in relief – 5.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (-) 2 RSAA: in AAA, 129 IP over 22 GS – 1.32 WHIP, 4.35 ERA, 20 HR, 41 BB, 113 K
- Randy Wolf: as an Astro - 70.1 IP over 12 GS (5 2/3 IP/GS) 3.57 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7 RSAA; As a Padre:  119.2 IP over 21 GS (5 2/3 IP/GS)  4.74 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, (-)11 RSAA

Conclusion: Well, the Astros had no use for Reinecke except as a AAA lifer and Wolf was most certainly better than Runelvys Hernandez and all the others who were run out there as #5 guys. Ed Wade wanted to sign Wolf before the season, still wants him to sign this year and he provided decent pitching. However, he is not the “horse” too many people think he is and he is definitely not a better pitcher than Wandy. I seriously doubt that Reinecke will suddenly turn into a good, let alone serviceable ML starter or ace reliever, but youneverknow. So unless Reinecke does the almost impossible in the future, this trade is a win for the Astros even if Wolf never plays another game in an Astros uni.

7 – A-ball infielder Matt Cusick to the Yankees for LaTroy Hawkins

Money – piddling minor league salary: an insignificant portion of 1.375 mill = wash

Performance:- Matt Cusick – in A ball before trade: .285/.356/.462/.818 – had 23 lousy AB after trade.
- LaTroy Hawkins: as an Astro, 21.1 IP/24 - 11H, 5 BB, 23 K, 1 ER - 9 RSAA; as a Yankee – 41 IP over 33 G – 42H, 17 BB, 23 K (-) 6 RSAA

Conclusion: In 08, certainly a win for the Astros, with LaTroy being almost perfect and Cusick being just some guy in the low minors. Some day, who knows, it may turn into a Jeff Bagwell trade, who knows. Hopefully, Hawkins can be re-signed as the setup guy (please, oh Lord, don’t let Ed Wade figure Hawkins can close because he can’t.) Even if Cusick turns into Albert Pujols, I would still consider the trade a win, as the Astros desperately needed an 8th inning guy for cheap, and Hawkins was just that.

7/2/08: Breaking News: Villareal DFA And Borkowski Called Up

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

I actually didn’t think that the Astros were ever going to admit that Villareal was having significant pitching problems, as they had signed him to a 2 year contract for 2.85 mill.

Ed Wade worked for the Phillies for years and he should have known all about John Schuerholz’ outstanding judgement about pitchers – if he lets one go, the probability is that the pitcher is not good. Notable exceptions being Adam Wainwright and Jason Schmidt and perhaps Jason Marquis.
Anyway, I’m sure the Organization wants him to try to work out his troubles in the minors – perhaps Burt Hooten is a better pitching coach than Dewey Robinson.

This year, Villarreal has pitched in 35 games over 37.2 IP – 42 H, 25R/21 ER, 12 HR, 17 BB, 21 K: 1.57 WHIP, 5.04 ERA, .286 BAA, .365 OBAA, .585 SLGA, .948 OPSA.
He only had 8 appearances in which he didn’t give up a hit or walk and didn’t give up any runs, whether his own or inherited runners. Not great. The guy is only 26 and I hope Hooten is able to straighten him out.

In Round Rock, Borkowski has appeared in 12 games, 19.1 innings – 16 H, no HR, 5 BB, 16 K – 1.07 WHIP, 2.29 ERA.

By the way, Chad Paronto, another option, has appeared in 28 games, 40.1 IP – 46 H, 2 HR, 9 BB, 44 K – 1.35 WHIP, 3.15 ERA. Kyle Middleton – 9 games, 24.1 IP – 17 H, 2 HR, 6 BB, 17 K – 0.95 WHIP, 2.59 ERA.

5/25/08: Astros Bullpen Gives Up ELEVEN Runs in 2 Innings And Astros Lose

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

I had hoped to talk about Carlos’ 3 run homer. Or the double steal pulled off by Lance/Miggy (this is the 4th Astros double steal of the year) and Michael Bourn’s 23rd league leading steal. And the Astros scoring SIX runs off ace lefty Cole Hamels – a game that Chris Sampson deserved to win.

Or even grouse a little about how the HP ump screwed up the call on what should have been a 1-2 run scoring double for Wiggy down the LF line that was wrongly called foul.

I was actually a bit surprised that Sampson was pulled after 5 innings. Why? Well, because SOMEone had to pitch and the bullpen guys who were available were Nieve, Borkowski and Villareal – both Byrdak and Brocail were essentially unavailable after all their work for the past few games and it was more likely that Wesley Wright, if used at all, would be used as a LOOGY for maybe 1 or 2 batters.
Which, by the way, is why, in retrospect, I am VERY surprised that Coop decided not to pinch hit for Towles with 2 outs, bases loaded with the Astros only leading by 2 runs and the Astros needing to put a LOT of runs on the board seeing as how Nieve, Borkowski and Villareal are NOT ideal bullpen guys when the Astros are ahead, you know what I’m sayin…

Which reminds me,
I was wondering yesterday who should be the pitcher who is sent down when Wandy re-joins the club in time for his Wednesday start. The choices are, of course, Nieve, Villareal and Borkowski. Let’s take a look at their most recent performances, including today’s:

Nieve: (called up 5/16)
TODAY – With the Astros leading 6-4, to start the 6th, he gave up a homer, a single, a double and another single and 2 runs and left with 2 on. His relief let that run score, so that is 4 runs given up without getting a single out.
5/22 – came in in the 8th with the Astros losing 6-5, none on, none out. He gave up a walk, a FC and a single, and he left with 2 on, 1 out. His relief allowed one of his runs to score.
5/19 – came in the 6th inning with the Astros losing 3-2, gave up 2 singles, a double and a run.
5/17 – came in with Astros losing 5-2, 7th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third. He gave up a hit that let one runner score, then got a GIDP and another scoreless inning.

Borkowski: has had 9 appearances over the past month: (ERA went from 3.38 to 6.86 – was 4.50 before today’s debacle)
TODAY: came in to start the 7th with the Astros losing 9-6, gave up 6 ER – 2 doubles, 3 singles and a homer. He did have some bad luck with 2 hits down the line and a certain infielder not bothering to throw the ball home to get a runner…
5/19 – came in with Astros down 4-2, 2 on 1 out, let an inherited runner score then got the 2 . Next inning, gave up a 2 run homer.
5/16 – came in with one on, 1 out, Astros losing 8-2. Gave up a single, no runs. Pitched another inning, 1 single, no runs. Got the first out of the next inning, and was pulled for a leftylefty matchup thingy with the score tied.
5/15 – came in with Astros losing 7-3, pitched a scoreless inning (single, DP, GO)
5/9 – came in for the 9th inning, Astros leading 7-1, gave up a run on a double and 2 groundouts
5/4 – came in in the 4th with Astros losing 3-2, 2 on 1 out and immediately gave up a homer, letting both runs score. He got the other 2 outs and pitched another scoreless inning.
4/30 – the infamous – “home run to the pitcher” game – came in with the Astros leading 7-5, 2 out, man on, and promptly gave up the game tying homer to Micah Owings “the pitcher” – then a double and an RBI single to lose the game
4/28 – came in with the Astros losing 5-2, 1 out, 2 on, stranded BOTH runners, pitched another scoreless inning
4/27 – came in with Astros losing 5-1 to start the 8th, gave up a single and no runs.

Villareal: has had 9 appearances in May (ERA has gone from 4.82 to 5.33 – was 5.79 before today’s game) He had 13 appearances in April, a 5.19 ERA in 17.1 IP with 6 HR, 12 R/10 ER, 3 losses and 4 of 6 inherited runners scoring.
TODAY: came in to start the 8th, Astros losing 15-6, pitched two 1,2,3 innings, needing only 18 pitches. Best outing he’s had with the Astros. Ever. By FAR.
5/24 – came in with Astros leading 4-3 in the 8th, 2 out, none on, walked his only batter, who didn’t score.
5/22 – came in with Astros losing 7-5 to start the 9th, gave up a walk, a single, no runs
5/16 – the Texas Massacre – came in to start the 8th with Astros losing 10-8, gave up (are you ready for this) 2 singles, a walk, a triple and 3 homers – 6 runs, 2 earned. (Kind of like Bork today)
5/14 – came in with the score tied, 2 out, man on third, and got the 3rd out and the W.
5/13 – came in with the Astros with the Astros losing 4-2, 1 out none on in the 8th, got one out, gave up a single then was pulled and the runner stranded.
5/10 – came in with the Astros leading 5-0 in the 9th, 1 on, no out, got the 3 outs without letting the runner score.
5/8 – came in to start the 8th with the Astros losing 4-1, gave up a WP, 2 walks, 2 singles, 1 HR and 3 runs.
5/3 – came in with Astros winning 6-2, bases loaded 2 outs in the 6th, got the 3rd out stranding the runners, then pitched a 1,2,3 7th.

So what would I personally do?
Answer – send Nieve AND Villareal down right now and bring up Jack Cassel – and yes, I know he’s a starter, but he’s pitching lights out down there and seeing as how he is not going to start up here unless more than one guy gets hurt, why waste him? Put him in the pen, let him pitch one or 2 innings as there don’t seem to be real too many guys who can do that. When Geary is ready to come back up, I’d send Bork down unless he suddenly has gotten himself straightened up.

Oh yeah – all yall know how, um, disGUSted I am with all the people who blamed Adam Everett’s lousy bat for the Astros’ losing the past few years? Like the #8 guy is there for his bat? Well, we’re seeing the same sort of crap THIS year with JR Towles. I can’t believe how MANY people are screaming that he needs to be replaced by, of ALL people, Quintero. Yeah, the guy whose lifetime ML line reads .238/.275/.317/.592 and who is hitting .200/.231/320/.551 in AAA right now – with SIX errors. Yeah, in TRIPLE A – and even if he DID hit .238, that would mean approximately 1 more hit every 30 AB. Like that matters. When you decide to blame your #8 guy, who is the CATCHER, who is not there for his bat, for team losses and completely ignore your #2 guy, who went 1 fer Philly (and screwed up a critical DP with bases loaded) you got yourself a problem with priorities.

And what would I have done if I was the manager and I was planning to not send my pitcher back out no matter what, bases loaded, 2 out, ahead by 2? I would have sent Loretta up to pinch hit. Not Erstad, because then Manuel would have pulled Seanez and sent up Romero and Erstad can’t hit leftys. I suppose I could have sent Cruz up, hoping to get him to walk in a run, but I trust Loretta to get a hit more than I trust Cruz to draw a walk, and anyway, I would have had to send Loretta up for Sampson anyway.

UPDATE 9 PM:
Nieve has just been sent down and Cassel called up. Not surprised about either move. But the question still is – who will be sent down when Wandy returns? I hope it is NOT Cassel. Just out of curiousity, I checked with Cot’s on both Villareal and Borkowski:

Villareal has had 5 full years of service in the majors, so can’t be sent down without his permission. The Astros are on the hook for 2.85 mill, covering this year and next, so I think we gonna be stuck with him as I seriously doubt Drayton will agree to eat ANOTHER contract.
Bork has 3.1 years of ML service and is being paid 800K, so he COULD be sent down without having to clear waivers.

I haven’t made up my mind on which I thought should go down, but I got this feeling it ain’t gonna be the guy with the bigger contract.
Oh yeah – they CAN’T send Wesley Wright down, remember? They can either keep him on the ML roster or return him to LA.

5/16/08: Shawn Chacon Sets ML Record With His 9th Straight ND

Friday, May 16th, 2008

It had to happen.

You see, Roy Oswalt could pitch a nono and ESPN wouldn’t mention it until the end of the show and then it would be a – oh, by the way this guy pitches OK – and back to Joba’s latest hairstyle. Lance Berkman could hit 4 grannies and we’d all be hearing about Jayson Werth and his 8 ribs and we’d get a – oh yeah, and Berkman hit 4 homers – more on Manny’s cute Mannyness after the break…

What a badly played baseball game – execrable pitching and fielding, 2 baserunning blunders and ELEVEN unearned runs between both teams due to 5 errors. YECCCCH!!!

What is so amazing is that Chacon gave up EIGHT runs in 3.1 IP. EIGHT runs and he STILL gets a ND. Now it IS true that he was tagged with 3 UER, but after Matsui bobbled a ball, allowing Young to reach, Chacon had a lot of trouble finding the plate unless he threw the ball down the middle, and he was actually pretty lucky to escape with just 2 singles and a double. Second inning, he got 3 GB outs and a walk, but again, he had a LOT of trouble finding the plate. Third inning, Josh Hamilton sends a meatball 420′ – which means it was a serious meatball. Then he had a couple groundouts, a walk and a flyout to deep center that Bourn made a great catch on. And at the end of the inning, he’d thrown 51 pitches, 27 balls. Which is scary.

And sure enough, 4th inning was B A D.

Saltalamacchia, hitting below the Mendoza line, hits a hanging midplate breaker 440′ into the upper deck. Vasquez walks on 5 pitches, and the strike was an act of kindness by the HP ump. Kinsler walks on 5 pitches – and again, the strike was a gift. Young flies out to the warning track in deep right.

Cooper then – foolishly, leaves Chacon in to face the AL (current) MVP Josh Hamilton, who he should know only too well from last year with the Reds and sure enough, he hits THAT ball 461′ into the upper deck in right center – the 3rd longest ball ever hit there.

NOW Cooper decides he has to pull Chacon. Like that old country song goes – waaaaaaaaal, it’s a little too late to do the right thing now…..

This was the Chacon I remembered from August 2006 when he gave up 7 ER in 1.2 IP – AND a homer to Roy Oswalt, a homer to Aubrey Huff and Biggio, 2 walks and a couple of doubles and a single…

Fielding matters. It does. Matsui has now made 8 errors, and at least another 8 plays that were not called errors which allowed a runner to reach base on what SHOULD have been an out.†I haven’t been impressed with him and I think that he just is getting so much praise because he’s incredibly better than a doddering Biggio was last year. Of course, Loretta was/is better than Biggio was last year.

Miggy made an error on what should have been an easy GIDP, getting none out (but hey, no one scored) and he allowed an infield single to short because he made a bad throw to Erstad. True, none of those runs scored, but it mattered because he made the pitchers work harder and throw to more batters.

Wiggy made an error – Hamilton was given an IF single by the overly generous home scorer, but it should have been a very easy 5-3, but Wiggy threw it into the bullpen. He played a grounder poorly, allowing Bradley to reach. He bobbled ANOTHER ball, but got lucky because the runner wasn’t running hard, assuming an out.

Towles missed a popup he should have caught, and that failed out led to 3 more runs.

Even Michael Bourn got into the act, bobbling a ball, allowing runners to advance, although they didn’t end up scoring.

But I do have to give props to Hunter Pence for making an absolutely AMAZING catch against the RF wall to end the 6th with bases loaded.

Wesley Wright took the loss – he came in in the 6th with 1 out, no on after Borkowski had pitched 2 scoreless innings, to face Hamilton. And the bases were promptly loaded on an E5, an IBB and an E6, just like that. He then had to pitch to 2 more guys, because Towles couldn’t get to a grounder right in front of the plate in time to make a 2-3 DP. And Pence saved him from 3 runs, yeah, all unearned, but runs just the same, by that Web Gem catch. In the 7th, he got the first 2 guys out, but then got tired, walked the next guy, then gave up the game losing hit. And Kinsler was DEFINITELY out – and that should have ended the inning with NO runs scored. Period.

And it got worse. Yeah. Worse.

Oscar Villareal had the night from he!! – 3 homers, a triple, 2 singles and a ROE – 6 runs, although only 2 were earned. Dewey came out after the third homer, with the score 15-8, and I guess he told him – it’s your inning, dude. I ain’t pulling you until you hit a hundred pitches, so you’d best get your own self out of this one. Here and I thought that maybe Dewey had straightened him out – guess not.

Lance went 2/4 somehow, with an IF single and a piddly bloop single to right and 2 FB outs to the wall. And those were the only well hit balls by Astros all night long – they basically singled and ROE and FC’d and doubled down the lines their way to 8 runs. The Rangers hit 6 homers – 3 off Chacon and 3 off Villareal.

uck – reminds me of the Ezequiel Astacio start there back in 05. YECCCCCCH.

Without QUESTION this was the worst played game I have seen the Astros play this year – well, except for the game yesterday with Loretta at short (shudder). I hate this lineup. Pence is not a leadoff guy, he’s a hacker. And you concentrate 3 bad hitters in the 7,8,9 hole. And I hate Lance as DH – Carlos Lee should ALWAYS be the DH, with Lance at first where he belongs and Erstad in left. Like I said before, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and messing with the lineup, in my opinion, was not smart.

Tomorrow night is Roy Oswalt vs Vicente Padilla
Roy this year is 4-3 in 9 GS: 57 IP – 63 H, 12 HR, 15 BB, 48 K: 5.05 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and a .284 BAA
At Arlington: 2-3 in 6 GS – 42 IP – 43 H, 5 HR, 10 BB, 35 K: 3.21 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and a .270 BAA

Vicente Padilla, age 30, RHP, who we have faced when he was with the Phils and the Rangers, is doing unusually well this year. He’s 5-2 in 9 GS – 55.2 IP – 60H, 7 HR, 19 BB, 35 K: 3.23 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .283 BAA. Actually, this tells me he’s stranding a lot of baserunners…
In Arlington, he’s 13-9 in 30 GS with 1 CG SO: 177 IP – 186 H, 12 HR, 64 BB, 135K: 4.12 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and a .267 BAA
—-
Couple more items:
1 – Geary had to go on the DL (pulled groin muscle – let’s hope it diesn’t take him as long as Wandy to come back. Fernando Nieve has been called up to take his spot in the bullpen. Nieve, by the way, is definitely going to be a bullpen guy for the rest of the year – he just doesn’t have the stamina to go more than a couple innings, at least at this point.

2 – Wandy should be making a rehab start this weekend.

3 – For those of all yall yearning for Quintero to replace Towles, we’re talking about a guy hitting .197/.225/.295/.517 at TRIPLE A!!!! And he has FIVE errors. AND the pitchers don’t want to throw to him. So let’s let Towles work it out for a while, OK???????

5/3/08: Backe Homers To Drive In The Game Winning Run

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

OK, it isn’t quiiiite like that, but hey, a pitcher hitting a home run, especially the one that started a 5 run inning, is just awesome.

Brandon Backe gave up a leadoff homer to Rickie Weeks, who went all Pujols on a hanging curve – well, the ball woulda left the park if it hadn’t hit the train on the tracks above the Crawford Boxes – hey, I’m just glad it didn’t hit the guy on the train. The home plate ump had a strike zone the size of a postage stamp – even called a few absolutely no argument about it middle of the plate mid thigh pitches balls. But Brandon managed to work around it and at the end of his 5th inning, had given up 4 hits, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 GIDP and 1 ER on 63 pitches.

Then came the bottom of the 5th when Brandon led off with a homer. He grounded out to end the inning like an hour (or it seemed like it) later and the Astros led 6-1.

When Brandon went back to the mound, he simply couldn’t find the strike zone – and as I said, the ump squeezed both pitchers severely. He walked the first 2 hitters on 8 pitches. Dewey, QUITE alarmed, trotted to the mound and Oscar Villareal got up in the pen. Brandon managed to get 2 of the next 4 pitches over for a strike and Prince Fielder popped out on an inside FB. Corey Hart (someone needs to explain to me why the Brewers Organization wouldn’t give this guy a full time job until this year) singled to shallow center. Bases loaded, one out. Brandon then struggled through a 9 pitch AB with Bill Hall before he FINALLY Kd. He managed to get a slider over for a strike against Hardy, but then couldn’t get the next 4 pitches anywhere near the plate and walked in a run.

In came Villareal and got the bases loaded out on 1 pitch.

Brandon just sat out too long between innings, I think. Sort of like a rain delay. 30 pitches for 2 outs and he was done for.

Villareal pitched the 1,2,3 7th and walked Braun to start off the 8th, so Cooper pulled him and sent Wesley Mighty Mite in to face Prince, got him to fly out, then he also got Hart and Hall to FO to right. Thank you Dodgers. Wesley Wright is now my second favorite Astro, right behind Wandy.
Valverde came in and pitched a 1,2,3 9th. He has now pitched six 1,2,3 innings in a row. So be it and shall it remain.

Just want to give props to Hunter Pence for hitting a slider off a righty – it wasn’t low and outside, but hey, progress. And Michael Bourn managed to lay down his first successful bunt for a hit. AND hit a homer off a lefty. They’re getting there. And Towles will pick it up too.

Oh yeah – and Hunter made up for his 2 missed fly balls in the OF that led to runs by making an outstanding diving catch of a sinking liner in shallow right center in the 3rd.

And Wiggy has made every play so far and has turned every ball that could have been made into a DP. Miggy and Kaz have both missed a few.

Tomorrow afternoon is Chris Sampson vs Ben Sheets
Poor Chris – hard to be the #5 guy and beat the other team’s ace.

When Sheets is good, he’s very very good, but he sure is hurt a lot. This year, he’s had 4 starts, 3 QS – 1 5 hit CG, but his last 2 starts, he’s only gone 5 innings. He missed a start with a sore arm, and who knows how well he’s really doing.

VS Houston, he’s 10-8 in 24 GS with 3 CG: 150 IP – 148 H (19 HR) 36 BB, 135K; 3.78 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and a 257 BAA. He’s 3-3 at the Box and his home and away numbers are about the same.

Take a guess which Astro killz Sheets the most ? Lance? Nope – OPS is .945. Carlos with his 1.280 OPS in 11 AB? Nope. It’s Wiggy with his 1.292 OPS in 19 AB.
Yeah, I know. Small sample size. But, what can I say, it LOOKS good.

Chris Sampson has 5 starts this year, 2 QS, 1 vile start and 2 not good starts. I know the boy is better than this. He had the bad luck to face Haren and Arizona last time, and this time he’s facing another good team and its ace. AGAIN. He’s only started one game against Milwaukee, and relieved in 2 others for a total of 9 IP, which really isn’t significant. He gave up 9 H – 1 HR, 5 BB and 8 K.

I sure hope that sinker sinks.

Miguel Tejada Leads The Hit Parade And Roy Oswalt Wins

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Well, the guys certainly got on base tonight. AND they scored, too – none of this leaving 2 or 3 guys on for 3 or 4 innings stuff. AND Carlos Lee FINALLY broke the 0 fer 11 skid of Astros not being able to hit with bases loaded.

Michael Bourn: 1/3 with a walk, 2 RS and 2 SB
Kaz Matsui: 2/5 with 2 RS
Miguel Tejada: 4/5 with 3 RS, 3 RBI and a SB
Lance Berkman: 1/3 with a walk, 2 RS and 3 RBI
Carlos Lee: 1/3 with a walk, 1 RS, 1 RBI
Geoff Blum: 1/3 with a sac-fly RBI
Hunter Pence 2/4 with 1 RBI
Brad Ausmus: 0fer 4
Roy Oswalt – 1/2
pinch hitters, as usual, were ofer.

Poor ol Justin Germano is a sinkerball pitcher, and like Chris Sampson the other night, you see what happens to sinkerball pitchers when sinkers don’t sink. He started out with a problem – threw 4 straight balls outside to Bourn. And you know what happens when Bourn gets to first, and so do all the opposing pitchers and catchers.

Matsui comes up, Germano tries a pickoff. Bourn looks at him – like dude, please. So with the very next pitch, a slow curve, Bourn takes off and the throw isn’t even close – as usual. Then Coop, naturally (sarcasm here yall) has Matsui bunt because it is what #2 hitters are for (more sarcasm, OK?!) But Germano can’t get to it in time and Matsui is safe at first while Bourn is at third before Germano even picks up the ball. Germano throws a sinker that doesn’t and  Miguel Tejada lines a single to center while Bourn scores. Of course, the Astros have scored in an awful lot of first innings and lost, so I’m patient here.

Then Germano throws a fat 83 MPH meatball down the middle of the plate to Lance Berkman, which is generally something a pitcher really does NOT want to do because Lance does mean and cruel things to that there baseball, such as sending it 400 something feet OVER the bullpen wall into the center field restaurant for a 3 run homer.

Four batters, 4 runs, no outs. Dammmmm. And you know, pretty much you hand Roy a 4 run lead, that is all she wrote. Carlos Lee up next, and althougj the HP ump gives the pitcher a strike he doesn’t deserve and Carlos fouls off 2 pitches way outside the strike zone, he still somehow manages to walk. Poor dude – couldn’t get the sinker to sink, couldn’t get the changeup over, and any pitch that got over the plate got hit. Blum singled, Pence doubled on a fat fastball (Germano can’t throw sliders) and there are the Astros 5-0, no outs. But then Ausmus hits a ball to third and Blum inexplicably runs home instead of staying put, where he’s out by 20′ then Roy sac-bunts, then Bourn flies out.

Second inning – somehow, both Roy and Brad forget that Edmonds is a superb curveball hitter – he is old and slow and can’t really catch up to the fastball the way he used to, so he sits on that curve and waits and sure enough, he hits it into the Crawford Boxes. 3-4 years ago, that ball would have been sent into the restaurant just like Lance’s.

So the Pads won’t get shutout.

Meanwhile, Germano shows up to battle bravely and he still doesn’t have a decent pitch working for him. Matsui singles, then Miggy takes a couple balls, fouls off a couple, then sends a mid plate hanging curve high up on the LF wall over the bullpen for a 2 run homer. Astros 7, Padres 1. But Germano somehow manages to get himself together, keeps the ball off the middle of the plate and gets 2 groundouts and a popup.

Third inning, the Pads get another run when Brian Giles doubles, McAnulty grounds out and then Gonzalez hits a sac fly.

Germano trudges bravely back out there – he’s gotta take the hit you know, because the Padres were the other team in that 22 inning game and the pitchers still pretty worn. Pence singles to right on one of those low, outside pitches he can’t lay off – but this was a changeup and not a slider – big difference. Then Cooper shows that he hasn’t really got a clue on when to bunt or not bunt. Ausmus is up. Pence, a fast runner, is on first. Ausmus is a great bunter and a terrible hitter, so what should you do? How about a hit and run? No, seriously. Pence is almost to second on both of the first 2 pitches, but Ausmus has to take protective swings at balls he can’t hit and is quickly in the hole. He takes a ball, but it isn’t really a stealer’s count, so Pence stays put and then Ausmus flies out. And that, my friends, is a STUPID waste of an out. Roy can’t get the bunt down. Bourn is up and after a pickoff, Pence takes off and is CS.

It’s not that Bourn is so much faster than Pence – he is a little faster, but his jumps are unbelieveable and so are his slides. Wouldn’t it be just awesome if Carl Crawford was an Astro instead of Clank??? Ever wonder why the Astros had zero interest in him? (Scott Boras might could be a reason…)

Roy gets a quick 1,2,3 – THIS time he and Brad remember to just throw fast fastballs to Edmonds, who Ks. Then Germano heads back out. He had gotten out the 2 weak hitters and got lucky with a CS the previous inning. Now, he takes a deep breath for his battle with Bourn. He throws all 7 pitches off the plate and Bourn, taking some and fouling some off, finally hits an infield single. Matsui flies out, and then Tejada singles through the 5.5 hole. He then goes to 3-1 on Lance, then Bud Black signals for an IBB. THEN he sends in Wilfredo Ledezma, a lefty.

Interesting. You know Bud Black was a pitcher, a former pitching coach, and he sends in a lefty reliever to face a bunch of rightys. Phil Garner never EVER would have done something like that. Anyway, Ledesma is shaky at first, and he allows all 3 of poor Germano’s runs to score with a single, a WP and a sac fly. And Lance’s slide to avoid the tag on the throw from Giles was awesome. Sometimes Lance has brain farts and gets picked off second, but sometimes his baserunning is absolutely heads up.

Ledezma is finally grooving and he shuts down the Astros for the next 3 innings.

Roy pitches 7 innings, gives up 3 ER, 6 H, 2 HR, 2 BB, 6 K and gets his ERA down to 6. Yeah, a QS, but certainly not an ace one.

New lefty Tim Byrdak comes in and makes it interesting. He gets the righty PH out without any trouble. He then walks lefty Gonzalez, gives up a single to righty Kouzmanoff, strikes out lefty Edmonds on FB and sliders and gets Khalil Greene to flyout.

Oscar Villareal comes in to mopup in the 9th. He CAN hold a 7 run lead, you think??? Well, he’s still giving up some LONNNNNGGGGG fly balls. He throws a FB down and in to lefty Josh Bard, who hits it to the LF corner of the visitor’s bullpen, but Jose Cruz, who has come in as a DR, gets to it easily. Clank would still be lumbering over. Iguchi flies out to the CF warning track, where Erstad hauls it in. But pinch hitter Justin Huber hits a belt high mid plate FB to the Reliant Energy sign just next to the hill and Erstad, unlike Bourn, can’t get to it in time. Seriously, this would be 2 homers and a double in any other ballpark. He manages to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate to Giles, who grounds out.

I have a feeling I understand why Atlanta, desperate for pitchers, had no trouble swapping him for a AAA 4th OF.

I’m gonna enjoy this win, all the hits, walks, runs.

Because today it is Brandon Backe vs Jake Peavy. Bad luck us having to face him twice in one year.
And here is how Peavy has done so far:

3 H, 3 BB, 0 R over 7 IP; 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R over 9 IP; 9 H, 2 BB, 3 ER over 6 IP – he won all those. Then his last game, 4H, 3 BB, 0 R over 8 IP – and that was a ND (the 22 inning game, remember?)

Brandon hasn’t been going deep into starts, taking way too many pitches/inning. I hope he’s sharpened up since last week (the 5 ER/3 IP disaster) because he’s going to have to win with very few runs and I just hope WS quality Brandon shows up.

4/17/08: Geoff Geary Pitches A 1,2,3 Inning And Gives Up NO Runs

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Dude deserves his own title today seeing as how he was the ONLY pitcher to accomplish that magnificent feat.

I just didn’t feel like writing – The Other Geoff Brings His Iron Mitt And Makes Mike Lamb/Ty Wigginton Look Like Brooks Robinson – You Know, The Player Back In The Good Old Days Who Vacuumed Every Ball Hit To The Left Of The SS And Never Made A Mistake.

But I COULD have written – Props To Borkowski Who Came In With Only About 5 Warm-up Pitches, Threw 8 Straight Pitches Outside The Strike Zone, Didn’t Strangle Blum When He Screwed Up A Dead Easy 5-4-3 (AGAIN!!!!!!) Getting Only 1 Out Then Having To IBB Jenkins Then Giving Up A Piddly Single To Load The Bases Then Pitching Out Of The Jam.

Or I could have written – Backe Pitches Batting Practice In Like What Has Gotta Be His Worst EVAH Start (ida wanna hafta look it up – this one was waaaaaayyyy too depressing…) But we knew he was having problems with location because of all the walks in his last start.

He started off in trouble – Taguchi singles the 4th FB to left. Then Dobbs takes the 1-2, which is chest high and outside to right. He gets Utley to K on a curve.But then he hangs a slider to Howard, who singles Taguchi home. Then Tejada can’t handle a ball from Burrell and Howard is safe at second and Burrell is safe at first -this is a “single” and Dobbs scores.  Then Jenkins doubles off the CF wall on a mid thigh mid plate meatball, Howard scores and Burrell is out at the plate because Bourn can hit the cutoff man. Coste reaches because Blum makes his first error of the day dropping an easy ball. Fortunately Bruntlett lines out. Bad pitching, bad fielding.

Then Houston hitters can’t manage to score with 2 on and no out. Bad hitting.

Bottom of the second – Backe walks the effing PITCHER on 4 straight balls. Then Taguchi singles on a perfectly acceptable curve. Dobbs FO to Clank Lee. Then Utley hits a mid plate outer half meatball off the RF wall, which should have been an easy RBI double, except that the pitcher doesn’t know how to run the bases and he goes back to tag before advancing and Utley, almost to second, manages to make it back to first – he SHOULD have drawn a throw at least from a fielder of Erstad’s quality. Bases loaded one out. But then Howard does Backe a favor and hits a FB that actually had some movement on it (for a change) into a 4-6-3. Narrow escape.

Bourn walks, but no one gets him home – and yes, he does steal his 9th base in a row.
Bottom of the 3rd, Backe still has pretty much nothing except bad pitches and bad luck. Walks Burrell on 4 straight balls. Then Blum makes error #2, booting a simple 5-4-3 tailor made GIDP and Jenkins is safe at first and Burrell is safe on third. Then Coste hits a ball to left center which Clank, naturally, doesn’t get near, and Burrell scores. Then Backe gets the next 3 outs – and he was darn grateful that Berkman managed to fish out a terrible throw from Blum on out #3.

Top of the 4th, Tejada hits Wifebeater’s only mistake over the RF wall. Thank you for making sure at least we didn’t get shutout.

Bottom of the 4th, Dobbs takes an inside knee high FB to right for a single. Then Backe serves up a nice tasty unsliding slider which Utley hits over the R centerfield wall. FINALLY Coop gets the bullpen going.

Everyone trots to the mound. The ump knows wassup, and finally he trots out there – break it up, break it up. They all trudge slooooooowwwwwwwwwllllllllyyyyyyy back. Then Backe holds the ball, Tejada calls time and trots out. The ump sighs, starts to wander back out there, then FINALLY he gets the notice that Borkowski is ready.

Dude has had like maybe 2 minutes max to get ready. And darn if he doesn’t manage to get through the entire inning without letting any runs score.

MAH HEEEEEEERO

And Blum had best throw the glove he was using today in an incinerator. I don’t guess HE ever wants it near him again neither….

Villareal is given a chance to try to remember how to pitch to guys you DON’T want to hit the darn baseball.

5th inning, he mows down Taguchi and Dobbs and then Ks Utley. DAMMMM!!! But in the 6th, well, the usual Villareal shows. Howard, who has been slumping, sends a changeup into the right centerfield stands. Here we go again. Then Pat Burrell gets a cheapie 331′ just an inch to the right of the LF foul pole – woulda been off the scoreboard at The Box. He then settles down, gets Jenkins to K, gives up a single to Coste (Blum doesn’t get) and then gets Bruntlett to pop out and Myers to FO.
hmmmmmmmm

Might could there be a reason that Atlanta didn’t mind trading a much needed bullpen arm for a minor league OF who will be, at best, a 4th/5th OF defensive replacement?

7th, Geary gets 1,2,3.

8th – Valverde is given a no-pressure outing. He’s been working with Dewey Robinson, the pitching coach. So let’s see how he does. He gets Ryan Howard to swing at ball 2 – mid chest. His splitter still has very little movement. Burrell then pops up the second pitch – looks like a slider??? OK – so far so good. But then it’s the Lidge’s curse – one more batter to go and sure enough, a splitter doesn’t split and Jenkins sends it into the LF corner. Then Coste, the backup catcher is up, and Valverde, I guess giving up on the breaking stuff, feeds Coste a steady diet of fastballs until he finally leaves one in the middle of the plate and Coste sends it over the CF wall.

He STILL can’t get any of his breaking stuff to break and even backup catchers are gonna hit 90 something FB down the middle.

Great.

As for our hitters, they didn’t do spit the few times we had MOB. Loretta is looking tired. He is NOT an everyday player anymore. Maybe it is a good thing that Matsui is supposed to be coming back soon.

We SHOULD have won game 1, but today was a disaster.

Got no idea what they are doing with Hunter Pence, who sat out today. He’s in some sort of mental funk, swinging at anything low and outside. Maybe he needs a hypnotist. Maybe the day off will help somehow. Because when Erstad is a better hitting option, Houston, we most DEFINITELY have a problem…

The Rox are coming into town for the weekend and Chris Sampson gets the start tomorrow. Hope he isn’t rusty, it will be 9 days…

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Rox played 22 innings in San Diego last night and hopefully, they will be too tired to do much of anything at the plate, in the field…

4/11/08: Roy Oswalt Channels 2007 Jennings/Woody

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Well, I thought it was gonna be a BEAUTIFUL night for a ballgame. Not too hot, not too cold, roof open with a mild breeze, Roy Oswalt pitching, Husband not grumbling…

Yes, it’s fireworks night and seeing as how it was supposed to be reasonably cold out (let’s see YOU try dragging him out if it’s hot and the roof is open it’s hard enough dragging him out when the roof is SHUT and it’s hot out. But I digress…) so that Husband got us all tickets. The good thing about having a bad and losing team is that you can get tickets for cheap. So off we went. Husband was especially pleased to find out about the designated driver promotion where you stand in line and sign up, get a wristband and they give you a coupon good for a free soda. I’ll drink to that.

But anyway, kids were enthusiastic, and of course, they’ve grown up being Roy fans. Me, I was a bit apprehensive, hoping that today I could know whether or not Roy is healthy or not. And for 2 innings, I was absolutely delighted to see the old Roy back. Fastball was hopping at 93-95, the slider was sliding, the curve was curving. First inning he got Hanley Ramirez to GO to SS, gave up a hard hit groundball that went all the way to the bullpen for a triple – should have been a single, but Pence misjudged its speed and it went on by him. Roy then struck out Hermida and Jacobs swinging. The Boy Is Back In Town!!!!!

And then in the bottom half of the first, we scored 3 runs off Ricky Nolasco. I heard, by the way, that the Astros hitters were saying that there wasn’t any available video on him – what, the vaults don’t go back to 2006? For goodness sake, the guy pitched 140 ML innings…
Anyway, in the second, Roy rolled through Jorge Cantu, Luis Gonzalez and Mike Rabelo like a hot knife through butter. I feel relieved. Guess I was wrong about him being hurt.

In the bottom of the second, Roy reaches on error – I mean, infield single (hometown scorer) and then Bourn hits the ball to the second baseman and Roy is out – it looked kind of awkward, not sure if Roy hit the bag at an odd angle – but no one was going to get Michael Bourn, not with his speed. Loretta flied out. During Lance’s AB, Bourn takes off for second, but Nolasco doesn’t step off the rubber before throwing to first then running over to try to get Bourn in a rundown – and Bourn correctly points out to the ump that Nolasco balked, and is awarded second. I was delighted – had to explain that one to Husband and kids – thought it might could be good luck because Bourn looked like a dead duck. It would be nice if the jumbotron operator would put “balk” on the scoreboard so that most of the fans who have no idea why Bourn was awarded second could know – but forget that.

But then the third inning happened. I would like to say – for the lack of a double play not turned, the battle was lost, but I can’t ENTIRELY blame Loretta. Anyhow, Robert Andino singled to right, Nolasco Ks. Then it happened. Hanley Ramirez hit a grounder to Loretta who fumbled it, missed out on getting Andino at second and just gets Ramirez at first. Seeing as how you can’t presume a DP, this can’t be called an error, although it surely is a mis-play.

And then stuff happened.
I don’t know what was going on with Roy – I do know that he kept having meetings with Towles, who did an AMAZING job catching errant pitches. But Amezega singled to center, driving home Andino. Why was he thrown 5 straight FB? Then Jeremy Hermida hits the 3-2 pitch like 380′ to left. Like, why was he thrown 6 straight FB? And, by the way, that pitch was low and inside and was surely ball 4.

Game tied.

Roy calls his own game, you know, can’t blame this on Towles. (And the HP ump was equally erratic with the other relievers as well as the Marlins pitchers. Don’t tell me that an ace like Roy can’t deal with umps and their strike zones…) So I guess Roy decides to mix it up to Mike Jacobs, the next hitter, throws 2 FB, then a slider, then a curve, which he hits into right for a single. This is reminding me of Game 3 WS. Which is not a good thing to be reminded of.
So then Dewey Robinson decides he’d best joining the conference with Roy and Towles. No one warming up in the pen, in case yall curious.

So Jorge Cantu (WHO???) is up and he hammers pitch 2, a hanging slider to bout the same spot that Uncle took poor ol Brad Lidge. Yep, over the RR tracks onto Texas Avenue. Now, I would like to point out that Jorge Cantu (WHO????) hit a hanging slider thrown by an ace pitcher over the railroad tracks. Hitting hanging sliders over the railroad tracks is what major leaguers do. Heck, Adam Everett woulda hit that pitch over the tracks. So – time to stop acting like Brad Lidge did something not done by good ML pitchers or that Uncle performed an incredible feat not approachable by any other major league hitter except maybe Barry Lamar.

Anyway, not sure what the conference was about, but it sure didn’t do nuffin. Bad Little Boy looks at me and demands to know why Roy lets the other guys hit his pitches this inning. Well, that sure is a good question, isn’t it?

Roy FINALLY gets out of the inning by striking out Luis Gonzalez. It’s 5-3. Roy Freaking Oswalt has given up 5 runs and TWO homers in ONE inning.

Well, this is supposed to be The Year The Astros Have All This Offense, right?

Nolasco can’t hardly believe his good luck, relaxes, settles down and gets Lee and Tejada to flyout then gets Geoff Blum out on a ball that rattles around the infield – and I have a real hard time believing that Blum ran as fast as he could to try to beat out that ball. Well, maybe he IS that darn slow…

But Roy is no better in the 4th. Rabelo, leading off, hits pitch #3 over the RF bullpen. THREE &(%^&#@! home runs in one game. I’d think I’m watching Woody Williams wearing Roy’s uni. Roy looks really mad. But HE’S the one who threw it down the middle. He Ks Andino, then gives up a single to the pitcher that Lance just misses. Then Roy throws a mid thigh mid plate FB to Hanley Ramirez, who hits it 384′ into the RF bleachers. FOUR effing home runs in ONE game. He’s completed 3.1 innings and given up EIGHT effing runs. I effing don’t believe this.

Neither do the kids. Lil Miss (my niece) looks at me and demands to know what is wrong with Roy. I tell her that I don’t know, I think he’s hurt and pretending he’s not, like Billy Wagner did back in 2000. She demands to know why he would lie about it. I told her that until the pain is so bad they can’t move their arm, they usually lie about it. She demands to know why. Because the media make fun of them if they say that they are hurt and can’t throw. She says, well, don’t the media make fun of them when they suck?

Well, yeah, they do. And then they make even more fun of them when they finally admit they have been hurt and pitching hurt has hurt the team. Well, demands Lil Miss, then what are they supposed to do? Well, I tell her, they are supposed to play anyway and even if they can’t throw, they are supposed to not suck. Remember Curt Schilling and The Bloody Sock!!!

WHO????? she says.

I love kids, I really do. If he’s not an Astro, he doesn’t count.
Anyway, the guys try to come back in the 5th, as Nolasco is tiring. Lance hits one of his opposite field popup el-cheapos 320′ into the Crawford Boxes, Miguel Tejada singles and Geoff Blum hits a fastball 350′ over the RF fence. Now 8-6 and maybe we might could get a lil something going.

Brian Moehler pitches 2 very good innings of relief. (Who wouldda thunk it – that Moehler and Dave Borkowski would be the stoppers on this team, hunh???) Wesley Wright comes in to face all the leftys and is a bit wild – gets 2 outs while loading the bases – 2 walks and 1 intentional walk after a WP. One of the outs, Amezega bunts for a hit, but is called out before he barely gets out of the batters’ box. It is hard to tell why, and the Marlins’ manager is FURIOUS and runs over to scream at the HP ump. It would be nice if they would put the correct scoring on the play on the jumbotron, but they never do, so we all have to wonder if the ball hit the batter or it was batters’ interference, or if the catcher tagged the batter out.

Anyway, after the manager had gone back to the dugout, he must have said words that weren’t very nice about the ump’s personal habits or relatives because the ump got angry and tossed him. Then some other guy came running out to scream at the ump – got boooed by the crowd, and I think he got tossed too.

Borkowski was then called in with bases loaded and 2 outs to get Rabelo out and he did. Wesley owes him a steak dinner fer SHER.

Not sure why he wasn’t allowed to pitch the next inning, but hey, what can I say. Doug Brocail came in and got 2 outs, then a single juuuuust past a diving Tejada, then the next out.

I thought that Jose Valverde would be coming in, just to get some work in, but no, it was Oscar Villareal. He pitches to Jeremy Hermida, who hit the 4th in a row 90 MPH FB to almost dead center – the official tape said it was 408′ – sorry, but it was a GOOD 30′ to the right of the 404 sign and about 40′ higher. In fact, it is one of the longest homers I have seen hit in this park – it hit the second green empty window to the right of the Conoco sign. Bad manners to put up the wrong distance. That baseball went 440′ if it went an inch. Mike Jacobs, the very next batter, hit the 3-2 pitch to the NYMEX sign in the upper deck in right. BOTH those homers were hit on mid plate, mid thigh 90 MPH fastballs. NOT good.

No, it wasn’t.

And Hunter Pence is STILL slumping – behind on the FB, he’s just not seeing pitches or taking good swings. I really didn’t expect him to have problems like this. He should be darn glad his name isn’t Chris Burke (07) or Luke Scott or fans/management would be screaming for his head. Bourn is having trouble with hitting. Not with strike zone judgement – he’s not afraid to take a walk, but he needs to stop hitting the ball in the air and start hitting it on the ground. He’s not going to be a homer hitter, at least not at this point. He also better learn how to bunt…

It’s also not the smartest plan to have a contact hitter who doesn’t strike out much, who hits a lot of ground balls and is slow as the #2 hitter. Yeah, I AM looking at Loretta.

Well, I really didn’t expect either Bourn or Towles to hit near their optimistic projections. I just really hope, since this is not going to be a winning season, that the Organization has the sense to let them play out the year and learn to play in the majors instead of sending them down and calling up crappy AAAA guys.

Well, the fireworks were great and the two morons playing air guitar in between the end of the game and the beginning of the fireworks were awful. But after that game, we all needed something to oooooooh and aaaaaaaah about. The fireworks, not the morons.

By the time we got back to the car, the post game show was over and so I’ll have to wait to hear what Roy had to say and what Cecil has to say about this game…

Let’s hope Brandon Backe is on tomorrow is all I can say. And that Cooper doesn’t pull him in the 8th if he’s pitching a 3 hit shutout. But, Coop says Valverde is gonna pitch the 9th no matter what if it is a save situation.

Astros Spring Training 2008 2 Week Review – Pitching

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I’ve kept putting off writing this entry, hoping that maybe if I didn’t look at ALL, let alone closely, I would be able to fool myself into believing that things aren’t as bad as they really are.
Good news: Roy is pitching great and just threw 6 innings, 57 pitches, of no-hit, no walk ball.
Well, I WAS gonna say that Wandy was pitching great, too, but then he pulled a muscle in his side – and I remember how long it took Roy to get back when he did the same thing. They are currently saying that Wandy should be back within a week, but youneverknow…

Things are SOOOO bad that apparently they are considering – and no, I am NOT making this up – Brian Moehler for the rotation. But fortunately, Cooper has realized that Runelvys Hernandez is lousy and is now being considered for the bullpen. Uh-hunh, like they are gonna release Brocail, Geary or Paronto.

Anyway, let’s take a look:
Guaranteed starters:
- Roy Oswalt – 4 starts, 2 good, 1 mediocre, 1 ace: 4 ER/15.1 IP; 1 HR, 1 BB, 13 K: 2.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .207 OBA
- Brandon Backe – 3G/2 GS, 1 good, 2 mediocre: 4 ER/9 IP; 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 K: 4.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .278 OBA
- Wandy Rodriguez – 3 GS, 1 good, 2 mediocre: 5 ER/8.1 IP: no HR, 3 BB, 8 K: 5.40 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, .354 OBA
note: Backe said he did poorly in his last start against a AAA team because the mound was terrible. Well, OK, but he’d better have better showings in his next few starts against ML teams.

Candidates for starter:
- Woody Williams – 4 GS – 18 ER over 11.2 IP – 26 H, 5 HR, 4 BB, 7 K – 13.89 ERA, 2.57 WHIP, .487 OBA
- Shawn Chacon – 3 GS -†9 ER over 8 IP – 11 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K – 10.31 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, .400 OBA
- Chris Sampson – 3 G, 1 GS – 11 ER/9.1 IP – 16 H, 1 HR, 1 BB, 6 K – 10.61 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, .378 OBA
- Jack Cassel – 4 G, 2 GS – 7 ER (10R) over 11 IP – 16 H, 2 HR, 2 BB, 8 K – 5.73 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .346 OBA

note: For reasons I do NOT understand, the Organization is hoping against hope that Chacon manages to win a spot as a starter, even though he has done MUCH better as a reliever. Chris Sampson, on the other hand, does MUCH better as a starter than reliever. He did well in his last outing in which he started the game, but tired and got the ball up in the 5th – he hadn’t pitched at all in 9 days before starting that game. Woody appears to be, uh, limp – his pitches are lifeless and are getting hit HARD, no matter what excuses he makes. Chacon had one bad luck start in which he had to pitch with a 40 something MPH wind blowing out, but he has had lousy outings in the rest of his starts. Cassel – hard to believe he has better numbers than Sampson – he wouldn’t have if Cooper hadn’t sent Sampson back for a 5 run inning in his last outing after he was cooked.

Candidates for LOOGY:
- Wesley Wright – 6 G: 1 ER/6.2 IP – 3 H, no HR, 6 BB, 3 K: 1.35 ERA,
- Mark McLemore – 5 G: 11 ER/7.2 IP – 14 H, 1 HR, 13 BB, 1 K: 12.91 ERA,
- Stephen Randolph – 6 G – 4 ER(6 R)/5 IP – 5 H, no HR, NINE BB, 3 K
note: McLemore is having an absolutely TERRIBLE spring – he’s walking everyone and having serious trouble finding the plate. He’s out of options, so if they have to send him down, he may get grabbed by some other club. Wesley Wright, the Wandy sized lefty reliever who is our Rule V pick, is sailing along, managing to avoid giving up runs even though he has been giving up walks – but, if he gives up a walk an inning without ALSO giving up hits, he’ll get the job done. Randolph, as usual, is sucking, no surprise there; he walks guys with any sort of plate discipline and gets minor leaguers to chase balls – same ol, same ol.

Bullpen:
- Jose Valverde – 5 G no Sv – 3 ER/5 IP – 4 H, 4 BB, 5 K – 5.40 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, .364 OBA
- Oscar Villareal – 5 G – no ER/6 IP – 7 H, no HR, no BB, 5 K – ZERO ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .304 OBA
- Geoff Geary – 7 G, 2 Sv – 5 ER/10.1 IP – 17 H, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K – 4.35 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, .404 OBA
- Chad Paronto – 6 G – 10 ER/6.1 IP – 10 H, 3 HR, 3 BB, 3 K – 13.50 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, .412 OBA
- Doug Brocail – 6 G – 13 ER/6 IP – 20 H, 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 K – 19.5 ERA, 3.50 WHIP, .438 OBA (and so many Astros fans were delirious with joy at this guy replacing Qualls???!!!)
- Dave Borkowski – 5 G – 2 ER/7 IP – 7 H, no HR, 1 BB, 5 K – 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .286 OBA
- Ryan Houston – 5 G – 1 ER/4 IP – 9 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K – 2.25 ERA, 3.0 WHIP, .545 OBA
- Mike DeJean – 6 G – 6 ER/5 IP – 7 H, no HR, 3 BB, 4 K – 10.8 ERA, 2.0 WHIP, .417 OBA
- Runelvys Hernandez – 4 G, 1 GS – 11 ER/10 IP – 16 H, 3 HR, 7 BB, 5 K – 9.58 ERA, 2.23 WHIP, .438 OBA
- Brian Moehler – 6 G, 1 Sv – 5 ER/10.2 IP – 14 H, 1 HR, ZERO BB, 10 K – 4.22 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .319 OBA
- Aaron Rakers – faced one batter and got him out. Not sure why he’s even being kept around if they aren’t going to ever give him the baseball…
- Carlos Hines – 6 G. 2 Sv – no ER (1R) over 6.1 IP – 4 H, no HR, 3 BB, 2 K – 0.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .308 OBA

note: Villareal looks sharp – I would think he’s managed to win the set-up job over Brocail, but in this business, hey, youneverknow. Brocail looks every one of his 41 years – he says he always does terrible in ST, but the past 3 years, his ST ERA has been around 4.5 NOT 19. Valverde looks more wild than Lidge (yes, I mean that). Geary looks mediocre, Paronto looks worse than the minor league guys, but Borkowski looks better than he did all last year – not that I am expecting miracles, mind. Ryan Houston has a sky high WHIP in spite of that low ERA, so I’m not exactly encouraged – it’s just 4 IP and he might not be so lucky with the next 4 IP with that hit/walk rate. Runelvys Hernandez is just flat out lousy – yes I know he was the Royals Opening Day starter a few years back, but that tells you how lousy the Royals were. Moehler has pitched decently – I sure do remember saying a bunch of times last year that he needed to be released; however, he was REALLY good after the ASB – 7 ER over 27.1 IP and he gave up runs in only 4 of 22 appearances – not bad at ALL. Hinies, the 6 year minor league FA, looks a heck of a lot better than some of those “veteran” guys.

Problem is, of course, were are looking at 5 or 6 appearances, 5 or 6 innings and it is tough to tell from just numbers here as some guys need more than a few appearances to get all their pitches working. But it SURE looks to me as if Woody Williams and Doug Brocail have exactly nothing. I’d rather keep Hines and Moehler than Brocail and Paronto…

DL – Paulino and Nieve, both of whom NEED to start the year in AAA; Nieve because he hasn’t pitched hardly at all since getting TJ surgery and Paulino because he needs to log innings as a starter instead of pitching an inning here and there in relief AND because he hasn’t yet pitched in AAA and he’s no Mark Prior.

Minors: Sammy Gervacio and Brad James both pitched a couple of innings before being sent down. They CERTAINLY aren’t ML ready and they need the year in AAA – unless, of course, they simply blow the competition out of the water. And it IS baseball and youneverknow…

11/18/07: Josh Anderson Traded For Righty Reliever Oscar Villarreal

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

I would guess that Josh Anderson is delirious with joy. Instead of being stuck in AAA for the rest of his life, he will (most likely) be the starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves. He is most definitely no Andruw Jones with the bat – more like Otis Nixon, but he will be approximately 10-15 mill a year cheaper and that suits the Braves just fine.

Now they can spend that money to re-sign Texiera. That is, if they can. Boras has gotten a few hard knocks this year, first with the VERY badly timed announcement of A-rod opting out of his contract before the last game of the WS had even finished. Then Kenny Rogers fired him yesterday for trying to get him the best contract by shoppoing him to other suitors besides the Tigers.

But I digress….

Let’s take a look at Oscar Villareal, our new middle reliever. He just finished his 4th year, made 925K, so will most certainly get a raise. Ed Wade sure does like those expensive middle relievers, doesn’t he?
Anyway, Oscar Villarreal, age 26, RHP, was an undrafted FA from Mexico, signed by the Dbax in 1998. He first came up in 03, pitched 98 innings in relief with a 2.57 ERA, then 18 innings in 04, then 13.2 innings in 05. He must have been hurt, because he only threw an extra 10 innings in the minors each of those years.

At the end of the 05 season, he was traded with Lance Cormier to the Braves for Johnny Estrada. In 06, he threw 92 innings of 3.61 ERA ball over 58 games for a 123 ERA+ and he even started 4 games as an emergency starter (that was the year when the Braves had every starter except for Smoltz on the DL and any guy who could throw a ball was given at least one start. And they did as well as they did? Bobby Cox is freaking amazing. But I digress…) Anyway, last year, he was strictly a reliever, throwing 76.1 innings over 75 games with a 4.27 ERA or an ERA+ of 100.

It looks as if he’s going to be strictly a middle reliever, a 1 inning guy. Career, he has a 3.71 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP and a .252 BAA. Naturally, he’s more effective against rightys than leftys, but it’s not that extreme a split – 1.48 WHIP and a .269 BAA against leftys and a 1.25 WHIP and a .240 BAA vs rightys. He’s only thrown 8 innings in the Box, but he gave up 2 homers. That’s worse than Brad Lidge. hahahaha…

Let’s see, what else? Well, his ML average shows that he has a 6.49K/9IP, a 3.46 BB/9 IP and 0.91 HR/9 IP. He looks pretty average to me, and I’m guessing they are going to try to slot him in for the 7th inning or something. We’ll have to see. I suppose he could throw more than 1 inning, he IS pretty young and it was just in 06 that he did that. We’ll have to see.

In the meantime it is now necessary for me to pimp myself and tell all yall that I was interviewed by Devin Clancy for this week’s sports weekly’s series on baseball bloggers. I’m on page 39. Check it out.

And hope all yall will forgive me this next week if I am a little long in responding to comments or even in posting – got Thanksgiving coming up and I’m getting ready with a LOT of cooking and then right after that is the High Holy Day of American Females and I hope HOPE there won’t be a repeat of last year when I came home dragging my dead tired broke ass and had to write about the folly of signing Carlos Lee to a 6 year deal…