I had meant to take off a week or 2, but it turned into more as the stomach flu came and, I think FINALLY, went. I’m not sure it was ALL stomach flu – it started with Maury Brown’s radio (Bizofbaseball.com) interview on Feb 11 in which he discussed, well, sort of, what he had said in his Baseball Prospectus article on the Astros’ finances. Unfortunately, the meat of that story is unavailable except by subscription, but basically, it says that Crane is NOT losing money.
Nobody cares. Except Maury, and he isn’t exactly a passionate Astros fan.
The mainstream media didn’t want to have to talk about us even when we had Roger Clemens, except to continuously ask when Roger was gonna ditch the 2 bit village and come back to where he really belonged. The MLBPA doesn’t care (yet) because FA don’t want to come here anyhow. The non mainstream media is actually PRO Crane because the Astros have a Billy Beane-like FO filled with stat geeks and prospect mavens who are busily building up the minor league, thus making it a matter of complete indifference what is put on the major league field because of All Those Exciting Youngsters Who Might Could Turn Out To Be The Next Albert Pujols!!!!!!!
I get having a good minor league system. Really. Check the archives – I’ve been screaming about the paucity of young players and the refusal to play them when they are ready since like 2004, remember? It’s the pocketing 30 mill profit instead of using any of it to put actual major leaguers on the major league field that infuriates me. To me, this is kind of like being all enthused because the Houston School district has the best elementary schools grades K-5 in the state, but the high schools are full of gangs, drugs, murders, massive dropouts and the educators point to the little kids and get EXCITED!!!!! about that but like so what anout the higher grades. THE FUTURE, THE FUTURE!!! they scream. Why doesn’t it matter what is happening NOW?
The stat geek media (yes, times have cahnged and there is a LOT of it) support of The Prospect Game like politics. They believe in getting lots of prospects and lots of churning because they are infatuated the MOST by “potential” because it is EXCITING!!!!! I guess. Like in politics. If you belong to party X and the other party’s candidate is in power and he/she supports policy A, you scream, riot and protest, but when your party X candidate is elected and he/she continues policy A, well then, there is no scream, riot, protest because you don’t do that if the policy is done by YOUR candidate.
I can’t believe I’m even saying stuff like “stat geek media” seeing as how I think I was once a part of The Revolution. Even if my math skillz are weak, to be nice about it. But just like with pretty much every other issue, can’t nobody compromise because Their Side has to be right.
The fact that the Astros Organization doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the major league team really makes it damm hard to care. That plus the stupid DH.
After 8 games, the team is now 4-2 with 2 ties. At this point, only Nate Freiman (1B/DH), Brandon Laird (utility) and Jimmy Paredes have played in all 7 games.
My spies – and I don’t have real too many sources left – tell me that the team is busily shopping Bud Norris, and that only Jose Altuve, Carlos Pena and Jason Castro are guaranteed to be on the ML roster. And in reality, Marwin Gonzalez because there isn’t really anyone else.
At catcher – the candidates besides Golden Boy are
Carlos Corporan, (best chance) 5 fer 8
Jason Jaramillo (ex-Pirate, career AAA OPS .681) now 3 fer 8 – destined for AAA as Designated Veteran
Rene Garcia (roster filler – can’t hit at AA)
Carlos Perez (.788 OPS at Lancaster – he ain’t leapin in)
Chris Wallace (homie from U of H – hopefully AAA this year, had only 78 AB there last year, but if he doesn’t hit, he’s back at AA and I would bet that is the end of any hope he has of sniffing the majors seeing as how he’s almost 25 and you know those prospect guys like em young) and he’s already 0fer 2
1B – well you KNOW that Carlos Pena (one of those low BA, homer or K guys with at least moderate walks who got signed to shut up the MLBPA to show we DO sign FA) has already been slotted for DH, although some righty is gonna take his place vs lefty pitchers because he can’t hit ML lefty pitching any more than I can.
So there is
- Brett Wallace (6 fer 14 with 2 walks) and him we know. He’s hanging on by his fingernails and at the first sign he’s not killin the ball, he’s history.
- Nate Freiman (RuleV righty from Padres – had .872 OPS at San Antonio AA) 5 fer 17 2 doubles 4K and because he hits for power, I would bet he has a VERY good chance to make the team as the swing 1B/DH unless the FO can swing a trade with the Pads and put him at 1B at AAA seeing as how there ain’t nobody in the pipeline there.
- Chris Carter, 26 YO righty – one of those – hey haven’t I heard his name from Prospect Guys from some of those trades – and yeah, he was a Billy Beane grab n dump – we got him for Jed Lowrie, one of those Adam Dunn guys. 83 K over 240 PA last year – had 52 hits, 16 homers, 12 doubles, 39 BB. Lead glove, “plays” LF too. Right now, he’s 2 fer 13 with 2 walks.
2B – well, we all know it’s Altuve, now 2 fer 10 with a walk. His back up is
- Jose Martinez (age 27, came up with Cardinals, minor league FA last year, killed ball at AA, killed by ball at AAA) 3 fer 8
- Delino DeShields, who ain’t makin the jump from A ball seein as how he is not no Albert Pujols
3B – Matt Dominguez, who we saw last year when he out hit the most optimistic of minor league predictors in a small sample size) has the best chance, seeing as how there are no other real third basemen there. Now 4 fer 8 with 2 doubles and 2 walks. Fabulous glove, by the way
- Brandon Laird (age 25 picked up last year of waivers from the Yankees) now 5 fer 10 with 3 walks and has a mediocre glove. None of the utility guys or first base guys can play third, by the way, although they just might could get put there anyhow, younever know, like Marwin Gonzalez was last year. You would miss the Gold Glove fielding of Chris Johnson, now with the Braves, by the way.
SS – Marwin, natcherilly, now 6 fer 13. Decent glove. Runs slow for a SS, surprisingly. Plays 2B too, but not as well as short, for whatever reason.
- Tyler Greene, age 29 – 79 OPS+ over 689 ML PA, but has a good chance because he’s an ex-Cardinal and he hits a lot of homers for a modern SS – think Adam Everett without the speed or glove. And a lower BA, too, come to think of it.
- Jonathan Villar. Uck. Only reason he keeps showing up is because he was on prospect lists, don’t ask me why because I don’t get it. He’s 1 fer 11. Also, he can’t field. To be nice about it. No idea if they are gonna even put him at AAA this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised because there are just certain guys that for reasons stats I can’t see, they pimp.
- Jake Elmore, age 26, picked up on the waiver wire from the Dbax. 13 fer 68 in 73 PA last year. Hit .908 at Reno AAA last year (think non-humidor Coors/Lancaster) but his AA OPS is .715. No idea how the glove looks.
- Nolan Fontana, and actual prospect. This is just one of those, oooooooh, he gets to wear a Major League Uniform and see how crappy Major Leaguers “go about their business.” With any luck, he won’t pay them no nevermind and he might could grow up to be good.
no Jio Mier, which is a good sign. Seeing as how he was a bad sign in the first place.
CF: I’m going to limit this to guys who can actually physically PLAY center field seeing as how the other OF are limited to LF, even if they are put in right.
- Jason Maxwell, who is another Adam Dunn with a very good glove and arm. He ain’t Brandon Barnes, but that is a pretty tough standard when it comes to glovin. Hasn’t hit well this spring, 2 fer 11 with a K, but I will be pretty surprised if he doesn’t make the team, seeing as how he has no options left.
- Brandon Barnes, Original Astro. Who I am rooting for and who is 5 fer 16 with a double and 2 SB so far. Has a Michael Bourn quality glove with a slightly better arm and he hits the cutoff guy. I really REALLY want this guy to make it. The Organization actually likes him, so I hear, but he’s gotta hit for average and have a leadoff quality OBP seeing as how he ain’t gonna hit for power and his competition is
- Rick Ankiel, age 33, lefty. My GAWD, he’s 33. We’re all gettin old, seems it was yesterday he was gonna be the Cardinals ace for a decade. Hasn’t hit for spit since the first half of 2010 and got released from the Nats last year. Nats are supposed to win the pennant and the WS this year. Of course, they went and BOUGHT grade A+ prospect talent back when you could still do that and they also have several very high paid FREE AGENTS. Which Crane ain’t gonna do because the Lerners are very very very rich and Crane, for a ML owner, is living in the 5th ward. He can still field well, but he certainly can’t hit any lefty. Over the past 2 years, has a .690 OPS against rightys. Which is not really any reason to have him on the team. I strongly suspect this is a gimme from Luhnow, and old times sake thingy because of the ex-Cardinal factor.
- Robbie Grossman (got him for Wandy) age 23, switch hitter, posted a .786 OPS at AA last year, and isn’t a strict CF – and in fact, the Astros moved him to left – of course, Springer being at CF might could have had something to do with that. So far, he’s 5 fer 11 with 3 doubles and 2 BB. He does steal bases, but he gets caught as much as he gets on. Not sure whether or not he’s lousy or he’s been part of too many hit n runs or what. He’s going back to the minors this year, no question.
- George Springer, who I doubt is making the majors because the FO ain’t gonna start his service clock for no reason at all. So far, he’s 4 fer 8 with 2 homers.
LF + RF:
- Julio Daniel (JD) Martinez- righty, who had a serious sophomore slump last year – and was supposedly hurt, too. He better seriously tear it up in ST and he’s 3 fer 12 with a double and no walks. Below average runner and fielder – arm is good, wheels are squeaky. Really has no business in RF, but youneverknow where this team is gonna put players.
- Fernando (EFF) Martinez, age 24. Another Adam Dunn, only this time without the walks. With the same dis-quality glove. No baserunning judgment neither. The FO is in luvvvv with this guy, one of those Former OHHHHHHHHH Prospects 3-4 years ago, so unless he really flops, expect him on the ML roster because he’s out of options. He’s 2fer 9, a double, a homer, no walks. ABSOLUTELY no business in RF, but if the team decides they want his bat, he’s going there.
- Trevor Crowe age 29, Cleveland’s first rounder in 05 (the year of Bogusevic) and has had 724 PA over 3 years in the majors including pretty much an almost full time gig in 2010 and has a cumulative 73 OPS+ without an outstanding glove or feet, although he does steal some bases. Almost certainly ticketed for AAA if he even gets that. So far, he’s 2 fer 8 with a double and a triple. Not much “potential”, that’s fer sher.
- Marc Krauss – age 25, who we got from the Dbax for Chris Johnson – has only a few PA at AAA, but hit .860 OPS at AA over 972 PA. Yet another low average, decent walk, decent power guy with mediocre glove skills. Been used mostly as a PH and is 3 fer 5 so far. Doubt he’s gonna make the 25 man.
- Jimmy Paredes, age 24, who we got in the Lance Berkman trade a couple years back. Started out as a SS, moved to third, then second, then left. Tells you what you need to know about his ability to catch and throw baseballs. He runs fast but has no sense a TALL, like a toddler who is always speeding after something and bumping his head on the table cuz he forgets to watch out for that tree!!!! Had his first good year EVER in the minors last year – good average, good power, but he’s an Old Style Astro – few walks. He’s 1 fer 12 so far this year, but if he heats up, he just might could make it onto the ML team – his service clock has already started and they might put him at DH to cover the absence of working leather.
- Jake Goebbert, age 25, lefty, another Original Astro – ain’t many. Picked in the 13th round of the 09 draft. Thought he was gonna actually have a real chance last year because he was picked for the AFL, but even though he had hit well at AAA in 2011, he was demoted to AA, no idea why, but he posted an .872 OPS and only had a few ABs at AAA at the end of the season. PLays both right and left, very few errors, but don’t know how he is with the glove – I would guess pretty good, because he doesn’t hit with lots of power for a corner OF and the Organization sent him to the AFL. He’s not a base stealer like Branes, neither. So far, he’s 1fer 2.
and last but not least, Michael Burgess, age 24. Yeah, I know. WHO??? Believe it or not, the Nat’s first rounder in 07. Really. Not sure why he was with the C*bs last year, but he got picked in the Rule V draft this year (after Nate Freiman). Has an .821 over 2 seasons at AA, but .722 in the Southern League last year over 381 PA. Nate Freiman, I get. This guy??? So far, he’s ofer 2.
Really, I think that except for maybe 2 guys, we can guess who is going to be on the ML roster Opening Day.
By the way, Astros Radio isn’t KTRH any more – guess it interfered with the Rush Limbaugh Show too much. I saw that coming, seeing as how the amount of time spent on pre and post game shows had dwindled over the past 2 years. Astros are now on AM 790 (in case you were looking – in Houston, that is, for anyone who doesn’t have Comcast, which is a lot of people, and who wants to listen, which isn’t a lot of people…) I don’t have words to express how great it will be NOT to have to hear Milo and the Clounzzz. Robert Ford, who was picked up from the Royals, where he did the pre and post game shows, is now the play by play guy and Sparks is his sidekick. I’ll have to check it out to see some time if I have time.
I know that Sparks was fine when he was talking a little on TV, but no idea how he is full time on the radio. As for Robert Ford, well, I WOULD say that couldn’t no living person be worse than Milo, but then I remember when all the (now ex) Astros fans were clamoring to get rid of Drayton and get a new owner, and you see how THAT turned out.
Kind of reminds me of that old Aesop’s fable where there were a bunch of frogs in a pond who had it good, but wanted it better, so they prayed to God to send them a King to rule them, don’t ask me why, except that folks don’t know when they got it good. So God threw a log into the pond, but the Frogs were all kinds of UpSet that the Log didn’t do no “ruling” so they complained to God, who this time, sent down a stork, who ate the Frogs up. The few remaining Frogs complained again and God said – well, you asked for a King and that’s what Kings do.