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Archive for the ‘Josh Anderson’ 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.

9/27/08: Josh Anderson Hits 2 Homers Off Backe To Beat Astros

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Brandon was just awful – hung sliders, threw FB in the middle of the plate -sure didn’t look like a guy determined to pitch for his job next year. And yeah, the ump DID have a constantly changing strike zone, but the middle of the plate IS the middle of the plate.

He started the game off in BAD style, giving up a leadoff homer to power hitter Josh Anderson, who sure does like hitting here at the Box. Then a single, then 2 outs, then a double to Jeff Freaking Francoer, who has been one of the 10 worst offensive hitters in the majors this year, then a 2 run double, then the 3rd out.

Down 3-0.

Second inning, a FO, a single, then NL leading home run hitter Josh Anderson hit ANOTHER homer – and that, folks, is

Brandon’s ML leading 36th.
Great. Tejada continues to pad his GIDP lead to 32 (but he won’t be able to break Jim Rice’s record of 37) and Brandon leads the NL in homers allowed.

Where was I? Oh yeah. One out in the second, Astros already down 5-0. Next batter singles on an 0-2, then a WP, then a single, then a walk to load the bases.

Coop has seen enough, brings in Jack Cassel.
Who promptly gives up a 3 run double, Francoering poor Backe. He gives up another run scoring single, then holds the Braves scoreless for another 2 innings.

But by then, it’s Braves 8 – Astros zip.

The Astros chip away, but leave men on base in every inning but the 5th and the 9th.
Borkowski managed to pitch 2 scoreless, Nieve pitched 1 inning, striking out all 3 batters and Wesley pitched a 1,2,3 inning, striking out 2. It was Geary, of all people, who gave up 2 more runs.

Pence hit a homer, but it was Berkman who reached on a swinging strikeout on a ball in the dirt!!! and promptly stole second for his 18th SB of the year who had the play of the game. Lance is REALLY swinging at a LOT of pitches not in the strike zone – something he didn’t used to do.

sigh

And tomorrow is Brad Ausmus Day. Of  course I am joining the Million Woman March to the Box to tell Bradley that he is The Hottest EVAH!!!

Brad gets a lot of, uh, disrespect from a lot of Astros fans who really don’t think that a catcher does much of anything besides produce (or not produce) the 5 stats for a fantasy team. He does a LOT more for a reality team – ask Roy or Roger or Andy. I’m going to write up a Brad career retrospective either during the playoffs or after the season. And for all the people who have been wanting Brad gone and saying how they’ll take Quintero, might could I suggest you compare stats: Q has even worse stats this year than Brad did over the last 4 years when so many were complaining so bitterly about his BA.

And it’s Wandy’s last start of the year vs ex-Astro Mike Hampton, who has spent most of the last 4 years injured. I remember Mike Hampton VERY well. He was good. And he was traded because he didn’t like Houston and had informed the Organization that he was going to be a FA and Houston was not on his list of NL teams he would agree to sign with.

He was a great success in Colorado all right – remember the GREAT public skoolz his kids were gonna go to?

Root Root Root for the Wand mannnnnn.

9/26/08: Michael Bourn Scores From Second On Berkman’s Sac Fly

Friday, September 26th, 2008

If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it. Lance hit a fly ball to the base of Tal’s Hill straightaway center. Josh Anderson (yes, the ex-Astro who was traded straight up for Villareal) caught it with his back to home, turned, threw it to the cutoff man, who wasn’t nearly in time to tag Michael. Awesome. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a man score from second on a sac-fly. Too kewl.

The Astros Organization never thought real too much of Josh, who isn’t really different from Michael Bourn – good fielder, singles hitter, good baserunner. Josh has done fine in his appearances with the Braves this year – 36/127 with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, with 10 SB and 1 CS – actually, looks a lot like Bourn’s numbers last year.

We’ll have to see how next year plays out for Bourn and Anderson to see if the Astros were right to prefer Bourn to Anderson. Josh has a .678 OPS this year, Bourn a .585 OPS over 585 PA.

Michael made 2 really really outstanding catches out there and so did Pence. Wiggy, on the other hand, messed up a fly ball and 2 runs scored (yes, he did drive himself in with a ball juuuuuust over the RF wall – hit a high outside FB.) And Valverde made a heads up tag of Brandon Jones in the 9th after he had rounded first after he (Valverde) had thrown the ball away to get a DP.

LaTroy Hawkins gave up his first ER as an Astro. It was bound to happen. He’s not Gagne 2003.

Valverde blew his first save since July 21. Location was REALLY bad. He ended up with the W, thank you Darin Erstad.
so
Philly wins.
Mets lose.
but

Brewers win. (Suppan and McClung beat Ryan Dempster. hehhehheh. Wasn’t it WONDERFUL seeing all those Brewers fans SERIOUSLY outnumbering the &*$&^@! Cubs fans???!!! hehhehheh)

And the Astros are out of the WC race now. I never thought this team would even sniff it, let alone stay in until almost the last day like 06.

Should I congratulate Miggy Tejada on his sole ownership of the NL GIDP record with 31?

Checking Up On The 2007 Astros Most Fans Wanted Off The Team

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

So, in 2007, who were The Most Hated Astros? Or perhaps I should say, who did the fans want off the team?

Brad Lidge, Chad Qualls (you can’t have a reliever who ever gives up homers), Chris Burke, Mo Ensberg, Jason Lane,  Adam Everett, Jason Jennings and Woody Williams. The fans, unlike the management, for the most part, wanted Luke Scott to be the regular RF. The fans WANTED to keep Mike Lamb, but the Organization didn’t let the door hit his ass on his way out. And of course, Drayton was most certainly NOT willing to eat Woody’s 6 mill and no other team would even consider it.

We all know that Lidge hurt his knee, needed some surgery and hasn’t pitched, but let’s see how those guys are doing with their new teams – just curious, you know.
- Chad Qualls (D-bax) – 5 IP, no homers, 3 hits, no walks, 5 K in 5 games. Good thing we got rid of THAT good for nothing. Our NEW bullpen guys are SOOOOOOO much better.
- Chris Burke (D-bax) – 15/38 in 14 G – 11 RS, 15 H, 5 doubles, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, 2 SB, no CS: .395/.489/.763/1.252 – yeah, GOOD thing we got rid of that worthless good for nothing in favor of Kaz Matsui. Oh yeah, of COURSE these numbers are perfectly valid – didn’t we all decide by 20 ABs last year that Burkie-poo was washed up, useless, worthless? That he should be DFAd and Pence installed in center? Oh yes, you did.
- Luke Scott (Orioles) – 7/24 in 8 G – 4 RS, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K, no GIDP: .292/.346/.667/1.013 – yeah, the Organization was right, he can’t hit/is always hurt (he DID have the flu – what a bad person to catch the flu)/is
- Adam Everett (Twins) – 7/29 – 3 RS, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, no GIDP, no SB/CS: .241/.267/.345/.612 – yep, he’s hitting like Adam Everett AND fielding like Adam Everett. (Tejada is hitting like Adam Everett and fielding like Mark Loretta. NOT much improvement, I’d say…)
- Mike Lamb (Twins) – 8/21 with 4 RS and 3 doubles – 2 BB, 2 K: .381/.435/.524/.959 – he always was a better hitter than Ty Wigginton and his glove isn’t THAT much worse…
- Morgan Ensberg (Yankees) – 10/30 in 14 G – 7 RS, 5 2B, 2 BB, 9 K, 6 RBI: .300/.394/.500/.894. Well, seems he sure has cut down on all those walks that Astros fans so hated.
- Jason Lane (Yankees) – 9/35 in 14 G – 7 RS, 9 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K: .257/.297/.543/.840. Not bad, doesn’t hit for a high average, but he hits for power. How many Astros fans prefer a Mark Loretta hitter who hits for average but no power? Answer – most of em.
- Jason Jennings (Rangers) – 2 ER(3 R)/11.2 IP in 4 GS – 6 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 7 K – 1.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .239 OBA. Too bad he couldn’t have fixed his owie BEFORE the season last year. He won’t stay THIS good pitching at The Ballpark, but I bet he looks a LOT better than he did LAST year. And I bet he outpitches the carcass of Woody Williams, too.
- Juan Gutierrez (D-bax) – 4G/1GS – 6 ER/8 IP – 7 H, no HR, 3 BB, 4 K – that’s OK, he looks like the AAA pitcher he should be this year no matter whose club he was sith
- Dennis Sarfate (Orioles) – 3 ER/6.2 IP 0ver 7 games: 5 H, no HR, 7 BB, 8 K: 2.70 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, .353 OBA – doesn’t look NEAR as good as he did in Sept, hunh? He’s walkin guys like he was still in the Astros bullpen…
- Mike Costanzo (Orioles) 11/35 in 17 games: 3 doubles, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 CS: .314/.333/.571/.904 – don’t know how he fields, but he sure looks better than Ty Wigginton
- Matt Albers (Orioles) – 5 ER/8.1 IP in 4 G/1 GS – 9 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 9 K – 5.40 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .333 OBA. Well, every now and then, he actually did pitch well for the Astros. Guy was good n lousy – usually more lousy than good. Some things never change.
- Troy Patton (Orioles) – shredded shoulder – out for the year.

OK
Conclusions?

So far, Burke and Qualls are paying off BIG time for the Dbax who didn’t need Valverde. I agree that Lidge NEEDED a change of scenery and I would still feel that way if he had pitched 10 innings with 30 K, no BB, no H and had 10 saves. I know we had to find a closer SOMEwhere, but a guy who has one year’s success as a closer is not exactly a guarantee to do it the next year – remember what happened with Danny Kolb when he went from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

Tejada is not hitting worth spit and his fielding (according to people I know who have been watching the games in Fla) is worse than Loretta’s. Luke Scott and Costanzo are hitting great, Albers is his usual meh self, Sarfate seems to have regressed to his Brewers days and Patton has a torn shoulder – something from which a lot of pitchers don’t recover (think Carlos Hernandez – sob sob…) Tejada ALSO costs 13 mill a year for 2 years.

Lane and Ensberg are hitting just fine (of course, they hit just fine last year in ST too, and even then, a WHOLE lot of Astros fans weren’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt – remember?)

Lamb is tearing the cover off the ball, Wiggy is not.
Even Dan Wheeler (3.40 ERA) and Trever Miller (1.93 ERA) are pitching well for the Rays (and our old friend Gerry Hunsicker.)

Yes, yes, I know ALL about small sample size. Yes, yes, I know that ST stats are irrelevant starting March 31, but so far, the guys we threw away are in general looking a WHOLE lot better than the ones we got, with the exception of Michael Bourn.

I think I’ll do a check on these self same guys at the ASB and compare them to the guys who replaced them – see how things worked out…

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…

Astros In The Outfield For 2008, Part 2: Right Fielders

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

No Astros news this past week. The Yanks hogged the team-out-of-the-playoffs-spotlight with the Joe Torre drama. So back to checking on the free agents.

Part 1 looked at free agent CF.

Now, let’s take a look at free agent RF and at out own OF on our 40 man:

Right fielders (and 2 guys who could play right)

Bobby Abreu, age 34 -Yanks have a 16 mill club option. As for fielding, well, he has a very bad rep, which he doesn’t totally deserve with a RF of 2.15 (high is 2.68) and a ZR of .858, which, I admit is not quite as good – high is .971 (among guys who played at least 400 innings in right – 11th of 16, and, in fact, Jack Cust had a better rating – yikes!!!) Offensively, he’s definitely on the downslide of his career. He steals between 22-35 bases a year and usually hits 20 homers, but his walk rate and slugging rate dropped considerably this year. He has a career OPS of .908 and he slid to .814 this year. Of course he won’t get any 16 mill on the open market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if SOMEone will give him a multi year deal, which I sure wouldn’t.

Shawn Green, age 35 – Mets have a 10 mill club option. Dude can NOT field and he can’t hit lefties at all and barely hits rightys. Ummmm, no.

Jose Guillen, age 32 – Mariners have 9 mill club option. Good hitter, and I will be absolutely stunned if the Mariners don’t keep him. He has the reputation of, uh, whatever the Latin is for uppity, so much so that his team, the Angels, chose to bench him at the cost of losing the playoffs. As for fielding, he has the reputation of being good, but I was surprised to see that his numbers are below those of Bobby Abreu with a RF of 1.96 and a ZR of .796 – interesting that Bobby has the rep of being a totally lead glove and Guillen of being a totally golden one. Neither one deserves it.

Geoff Jenkins, age 33, who really can’t hit lefties very well any more. Had a VERY good glove most of his career, but had fallen the past few years. He’s still got a good RF – 2.30 (5th of 15†NL fielders with over 500 innings. You DID guess correctly that Carlos Lard was dead last with 1.77) and a decent ZR of .889 (again, 5th of 15 and guess who is last)†

Luis Gonzalez, age 41 should consider himself lucky that he got a contract THIS year. He’s been cooked for several years. He is only a part-timer at best and these days, he can’t even hold a candle to Luke Scott with either bat or glove.

Reggie Sanders, age 40. Has been hurt for almost 2 years straight and it is most DEFINITELY time to retire. I always liked Reggie and he had a very nice career and it’s a shame he never played for us – he hit like Barry Lamar 2001 in the Box.

Shannon Stewart, age 34. Has that nice high average low power sort of stats that Stros fans clamor for. Bats around .295 with a .390 SLG. Few Ks, few BB, 13-15 GIDP a year. Thing is, he’s been playing left for the past 6 years and at his age, I doubt he could move to center and do well – he’s about a league average fielder in left. Needless to say, with an 88, 88 and 96 OPS+ over the past 3 years, yes I know, in the AL, he certainly isn’t better than Luke Scott, who hits for power.

Brad Wilkerson, age 31 – only had 320 AB this year and 358 last because of injuries. He’s lifetime .250/354/451/804, but since the Expos left Montreal, he’s declined. This year, he’s walked 43 times and K’d 107. That, my friends, is a higher rate than the King of K Preston Wilson. He only played 275 innings in left, which is really not the best sample size, but he had a ZR of .880. However, last year, he played 664 innings in left and had a ZR of .814, which is seeping dangerously down to Carlos territory. He has spent very little of his career playing right, and the sample size over the past 6 years is only 356 innings.

Our OF (not including Carlos Lee, who is cemented – hahahaha – in left)

Luke Scott, age 29 – not sure exactly what he did to earn the enmity of the Organization, but here is a guy who hits a homer every 20 AB. His seasonal average in the ML is 36 doubles, 9 triples, 20 homers, 65 BB, 112 K and 74 RBIs. And as I’ve said before, Luke’s glove in right is excellent – 4th best among regular RF in the NL. AND he’ll earn a salary barely above league minimum.

Hunter Pence, age 25. Will of course be paid barely above minimum. In 484 PA, he hit 30 doubles, 9 triples, 17 HR, 26 BB (kept em low, didn’t he) 95 K, 10 GIDP, 11 SB, 5 CS. Hit hitting line .322/.360/.539/.899. VERY good for a CF, in fact, first among CF with at least 400 AB. His glove wasn’t bad either – RF of 2.83 (believe it or not, Jason Lane was better at 2.85, but Ryan Church was best among fielders with >300 innings at 3.02) and a ZR of .866 (and again, Jason Lane was better with .876 and Hunter was 15th among CF with >300 innings.) And Willy Taveras, so terribly missed by so many Stros fans, had a RF of 2.76 and a ZR of .823 – so much for Willy’s “incredible” defense.

Reggie Abercrombie, age 27. Claimed off waivers from the Marlins in spite of the fact that he, uh, well, um, got some, uh, flava to him and he hits worse than Jason Lane. In 2006 in 225 AB, he hit .211/.271/.333/.604. He was even worse this year – in 76 AB, he hit .197/.238/.316/.554. His minor league numbers aren’t exactly outstanding – in almost 3000 AB, he hit .266/.310/.438/.748. I don’t have minor league fielding stats such as zone rating and range factor, but in 716 innings in the majors (104 games) he has a 2.90 RF and a .909 ZR, both good, but VERY small sample size. Of course, he’d get the ML minimum, but unlike Josh Anderson, he’s a righty. Not sure exactly why we bothered to get him except to show that the Astros aren’t opposed to having brothas on the team.

Josh Anderson, age 25. Would earn ML minimum, of course. Had only 67 AB in the majors – 21 singles, 3 doubles, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 6 K, no GIDP – hit .358/.413/.403/.816. He’s essentially a singles hitter who doesn’t walk much, just like Willy T. His line is .290/.342/.373/.715 over his minor league career.

And there you have it.
Unless we TRADE for someone, and let’s be honest here, we really have almost nobody to trade, best to stick with who we have.

9/21/07: Backe, Towles, Anderson And Berkman Beat The Cards

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Brandon Backe had a bit of trouble finding the strike zone in the first – as usual, he was a bit too pumped up to start out and over threw – maybe the excitement of starting off with a 3 run lead, who knows.. The Pest singles (I hate that guy), then a FC, then another single, then an RBI sac fly, another single, then a groundout. He settled down, had a nice 1,2,3 second and third, but had a leadoff double in the 4th. Then Molina hit a pitch back up the middle, which Backe grabbed, fired to Ransom, who tagged the runner off second, then fired a ball offline to Berkman, who made an incredible grab to make the DP on Molina, who was all Carlos Lee dogging it down the line.

In the 5th, Aaron Miles bunted a ball between 3rd and the mound and Wiggy rushed in, trying to field it, blocking Backe, who actually was in a better position to field it, and then bobbled the ball. Then with 1 out, That Dratted Pest singled Miles to third. Then Ankiel grounds into what should have been a perfect 1-6-3, but Ransom threw the ball in the dirt in front of Lance and the run scored. In the 6th, Brandon gave up a leadoff walk, but then got the next 3 guys. He did look pretty tired, agree with Coop that he needed to come out.

Decent outing – 6 IP, 87 pitches, 52 strikes, 6H, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 ER (should have been 1)

Sarfate came in for the 7th. He walked the first hitter, got a GO, then That Dratted Pest singled, so with men on first and third, Sarfate struck out the next 2 batters. It wasn’t the 1,2,3 mowem down innings he had had before, but I like how he stuck in there and didn’t let a run score – and this was with a 1 run lead.

Qualls came in to pitch the 8th and got 2 quick groundouts and then should have had an easy FO to right, but Bruntlett dropped the ball. Yeah, Brunt was playing right, what can I say. So poor Qualls had to keep going – gave up a single before getting the remnants of Jim Edmonds to groundout.

After Towles drove in 2 (yeah, him again) and Anderson drove in another to make the score 6-4, Steve Randolph came in. He was lousy, as usual. He could barely find the strike zone. First hitter, 3 straight balls, 2 strikes then a popout on ball 4. Second hitter, strike, foul, ball and a popup. Then, facing a lefty, 3 balls, a gift called strike, a foul on ball 4, then ball 4. Then, facing a righty, ball, hey a strike at LAST, 3 more balls. Coop leaves him in. Another righty – 2 balls, then a pitch down the middle, a gift strike, a foul, 2 balls. Bases loaded.

We are talking 28 pitches, 16 balls, 12 “strikes” and I am sorry, but for whatever reason, Randolph can’t seem to throw strikes very well in the bigs.

So in comes Brad Lidge and up comes Albert Pujols, bad legs and all. And to my surprise, Towles stays in. Let’s see if he can catch that nasty stuff. He pitches VERY carefully to Pujols and 4 straight balls and in comes one of Randolph’s runs. Very smart. And Towles does a great job blocking 2 balls in the dirt. I am not sure why the Organization was badmouthing this guy’s ability behind the plate (throwing, yes…) And, by the way, in spite of all the Press about Brad vs Albert, Brad like OWNS Albert, who is 3 fer 14 (2 singles, 1 double) in the regular season and 1 fer the postseason with 5 Ks in 11 AB. Anyway, Brad gets Molina to GO to save the game and get Randolph off the hook.

As for hitting, again, every single batter got a hit. Towles hit a double with men on second and third. Burke hit a double, then Lance drove him in with a homer to dead center, which would have just been a long out onto that stupid hill in the Box. Lucky 7 indeed. Carlos doubled, then Wiggy drove him in and yes, Carlos WAS safe – TLR went out and protested, but he was in LONG before the tag.

Oh yeah – and Rick Ankiel did NOT steal a base on Towles – it was most definitely defensive indifference – they didn’t even LOOK at him for goodness sakes.

Tomorrow, it’s Matt Albers vs Brad Thompson.
Guess it will be Q catching. Because you KNOW he’s not gonna be catching Roy on Sunday.

9/17/07: Gallardo Shuts Out Astros Again

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Except for Josh Anderson, Coop decided to play all the vets who have stunk it up all year with MOB. Naturally, Luke Scott sat. I am seriously tired of Biggio. I am seriously tired of watching Loretta at short. I noticed that the stands weren’t even half full. Coop, the crowd wants to see the winning team you sent out there last night.

Matt Albers was a little shaky when he started, walking Rickie Weeks, who has been walking more than Barry Lamar since he came back up from the minors. Weeks promptly took off for second and supposedly great defensive catcher Quintero throws the ball into center and Weeks goes to third. Dillon chops a ball to short and Loretta nabs Weeks at home. With a man on and only 1 out, Albers hits Braun on purpose (remember him playing Barry Lamar after hitting a homer offn Matt last times) – this is one of those men/honor thingys that supercedes actually WINNING the effing ballgame. Anyway, Prince Ks and then Corey Hart hits a high FB to the LF bullpen scoring both runners. Bad news when you start off behind 2 runs in the first inning.

Matt gets 1,2,3 innings in the second and third, but then…

In the 4th, Matt runs into bad luck. Corey Hart hits a ball to left that Carlos almost gets (hey, he’s trying, FINALLY) and then Gross hits one of those slow rollers to right. Pence sees Hart making for third and airmails a throw to the bullpen fence that allows Hart to score and Gross to go to second – if Pence had thrown to second, there would have been men on first and third, no outs. But a run scores. Then with Estrada batting, Matt throws a slider that Q doesn’t block – wrongly called a WP, reallyeally a PB, in my opinion, and Gross goes to third. Estrada FO to Pence and Gross scores. Hardy then hits one of those balls up the middle that neither Loretta nor Biggio can get to (why bother) and that is all she wrote for Matt. Borkowski came in and got the next 5 outs.

When he saw Steve Randolph coming in to start the 6th, Husband said – well, I see that Cooper’s thrown in the towel already. But Randolph throws 2 scoreless innings and got hitters to swing at more than a few pitches out of the strike zone – STILL has trouble locating that FB.

Then McLemore came in and threw 2 innings, giving up only 1 solo homer.

Matt Albers has good stuff but he has GOT to keep that baseball down because no matter the pitch, he gets hammered when it gets up there. He doesn’t have enough velocity to throw high cheese.

As for hitting, well, same old story about leaving guys on base.
First inning, Josh Anderson kept his hit streak going with an opposite field single. Then Biggio GO – should have been an easy 3-6-1, but Fielder, no Bagwell with the glove, screwed it up. Then Lance GO. Anderson on third – sure enough, no getting the runner home. Second inning – Albers on first one out, Anderson walks – this means he reaches base in 8 straight PA. And naturally, neither Biggio nor Berkman can score the runners. Same old veteran stuff.

5th inning, Anderson gets an infield single. 9 straight times on base. Awesome!!! And naturally, 2 on 2 out, Biggio just grounds out. And he actually thinks he could play a few more years (according to his interview on mlb.com) – and he has the most negative RCAA on the team – yeah, beating out Brad Ausmus.

6th inning, 2 on 2 out,Wigginton pops out. (Which reminds me, before I forget, Wiggy has been looking a LOT better with the glove than his stats showed, Pirates fans or D-Rays fans thought)
8th inning, Berkman walks, Lee hits a ball off the LF wall, but had stood to admire it for a second, suddenly realized it wasn’t going to go out, and didn’t even make it into second – and he would have been picked off first if the relay had been accurate. 2 on, 1 out, Pence Ks and Loretta GO.

And Coop, Luke Scott is NOT a pinch hitter. He’s like 3 fer 25.

And before I forget, Drayton says he expects to have a GM by the end of the week. You think he had someone ALREADY picked out? I think he had someone picked out BEFORE he wasted everyone else’s time with those interviews. And I have a bad BAD feeling it will be either Ed Wade, Ruben Amaro or Bob Watson. Bad BAD feeling…

9/16/07: Josh Anderson Gets 5 Hits In 5 Consecutive At Bats

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Josh Josh Anderson had himself an almost club record day, reaching on 6 consecutive PA, 5 hits then a HBP, driving in 3 and scoring 2. Interesting that he’s so good at going the other way.

And Chris Burke had himself an incredible day hitting leadoff (where he belongs!!!) and playing short – he reached base in 5 of 5 PA, 3 hits, 1 walk, a ROE and a perfect sac bunt that he almost beat out. He also hit a homer a GOOD 450′ to left center, way up on the wall, almost to Los Caballitos’ window. He’s hit 2 tape measure shots this year – earlier he hit a ball onto the tracks. I guess I am one of the few fans who haven’t given up on Burke.
In fact, the Astros had a club record (for this year) 22 hits. NOW they decide to turn it on???!!!

Back to the beginning, JD and Brownie said that Cooper stated that Munson, Bruntlett and Lamb would not see very much playing time from now to the end of the year. Cooper has already said that Quintero will be catching the next 2 games (and this means Woody Williams on Wednesday – bet he is NOT any happier about that than Wandy was.) I guess that this means they have already made up their minds about Munson – whether or good or bad I don’t know – and we’ve all seen the giant bootprint on Lamb’s butt accompanying the spit on his face.

Strange to see Burke at short and Ransom at second – I’d think they’d play it the other way. I was hoping Coop would sit Carlos again and play Luke in left, but no such luck. I think I’m seeing the writing on the wall for Luke, too, and it is ugly ugly writing, unless he gets lucky and gets traded. As for Quintero, well, I’ve seen enough to not think very much of him catching OR hitting. He only had one AB and as usual, hit into another GIDP – well, it would have been except for an error.

Burke came out fighting – beat out an infield single, then hustled to third on an Anderson bunt, which unfortunately rolled foul at the last second, then stole second on the very next pitch. I liked seeing Coop put Anderson up there against a tough lefty – no Phil platoon **** with him. And that boy can RUN. The callups/fringe guys are playing desperate and are fighting like heck to show what they’ve got, and maybe I’m crazy, but seems to me they have injected a little life into this Carlos Lee type complacent team. I swear that even Wiggy has picked it up with the glove, showing a bit more range. How about Cody Ransom hitting a 3-2 FB up and in into the Crawford Boxes for a 3 run homer, his first in 4 years?

And in the second, how about Brandon Backe hitting a leadoff opposite field double (dude can RUN), Chris Burke laying down a great sac bunt and Josh Anderson doing what all the veterans can’t seem to do and driving in Backe from third with one out!!! Of course, neither Pence nor Lee did anything with Anderson. (And Pence had an all around bad night with the bat, with a single and walk, leaving 6 guys on base.)

In the third, it is yet ANOTHER young guy, Towles, with men on first and second and one out driving in a run instead of doing the usual Astros thing. YES!!! How about Burke blooping a high inside FB into center for a 2 run 2 out single!!! You’d never know Towles is a catcher from the way he runs. New pitcher? Anderson doesn’t care, hits an outside slider up the middle. New pitcher is having some bad luck – Pence manages to beat out an infield high chop. Bases loaded, 2 out and Carlos wants some RBIs this time and hits a nice FB up the middle to get himself 2 ribbies. Loretta finally makes the last out.

After 3 innings, it is 11-1. Every single guy in the lineup has at least 1 hit and everyone but Pence and Lee has scored at least 1 run.

Ty Wigginton earns the fans a free chicken sandwich in the 4th with a shot off the LF foul pole and Josh Anderson drives in Backe from second, 2 out, with his 4th hit in 4 straight AB. You GO boy!!! You notice I keep talking about all the guys driving men in with RISP even with 2 out???!!!

As for pitching, Brandon threw the FB around 90, hardly any curves or sliders, and like the last game, he had a hard time getting much of any movement on the FB in the first 2 innings. Jose Bautista fouled off waaaayyy too many in the first becfore getting himself out on an outside slider. In the second inning, Jack Wilson hit a good pitch out – an inside FB at the knees. They showed a shot of him in the dugout, possibly saying he knew what was coming from the movement of Brandon’s glove. Then again, Brandon was probably throwing waaaayyy too many FB in the first few innings.

He seemed to settle down, be less tentative in the third – he FINALLY started throwing a few more sliders, getting them over for strikes. He hung a 3-2 slider to Jason Boy in the 4th, who drove it into the RF bullpen. Then Wilson drove a low inside FB to the RF bullpen wall – I guess he IS seeing the ball off Backe pretty well. Brandon needed only 6 pitches to get out of the 5th – all fly balls.

I might could be feeling too happy, but I SWEAR that even Carlos Lee is showing a bit of uncharacteristic hustle out there in left. Brandon had it goin ON in the 6th, getting 3 outs on 8 pitches. FB was moving and the slider was sliding. Coop pulled him after 6 – he threw 91 pitches, 60 strikes, 2 BB, 2 HR, 2 K, 3 H and 2 ER. Actually, the 3 hits were the only ones well hit.

McLemore came in to pitch the 7th – did fine except for a solo homer to the CB by Maldonado, the catcher. And that pitch was an inside FB at the knees, too, so sometimes you gotta tip your hat to the other guy. But the FB had some decent movement on it. All in all, McLemore hasn’t been too bad, adjusting to pitching in relief, instead of starting. He really seems to be more suited to starting, best I can tell, but at least he isn’t hopeless in relief, as Wandy was last year. Of course, Wandy is DEFINITELY not a LOOGY, which is how Phil tried to use him.

Cooper pulled a Phil, though, sending Brad Ausmus to play third with Trever Miller pitching. Fortunately, no one bunted to third, not sure why on earth not, but Burke made a great play at short. Trever pitched a 1,2,3 and then Moehler pitched a 1,2,3 9th.

Cooper has said he is going to throw his A (ahem) team against any contending clubs, and the young guys sure have played that way. And, by the way, Quintero does NOT qualify for being called one of the A team. Tomorrow, it’s Matt Albers vs Yovani Gallardo, who shut this team DOWN just a few weeks back. Carlos Lee was ofer Milwaukee so maybe he can sit and we’ll see Luke Scott in left. And Biggio will be back at second, naturally. Blech..

Ah well, we can still win the cellar, we surely can…

9/15/07: Young Astros Beat The Pirates

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

You know it was Carlos Lee on a horse bobblehead night and kids feel a bit different about seeing an Astro onon a horse than I do. I asked my Mama if I could take her ticket to the Box when it opened to grab one of those, uh, action figures for my boys. But she told me that she had already bought a ticket for me, so off I went to get my Official Action Figure. I was surprised to see all the fans already gathering as the attendence had been so low for the Cubs series.

Guess they want to see all the young guys as much as I do and in fact, I saw a LOT of people carrying signs for J.R. Towles. I was really pleased with Towles. He had one passed ball, but he seemed to receive the ball very well and I sure didn’t see any evidence that he had any trouble calling pitches or dealing with umpires. In fact, he caught 7 different pitchers, including Qualls and Brad Lidge. I was surprised that he wasn’t pulled for Brad Ausmus, but nope, and he did a great job, and if it was Towles who called the pitches for Lidge, gotta say he had every hitter fooled on every pitch. He looks like a young Biggio – he sure doesn’t LOOK any 6′2″ and he is slim and he runs VERY well. Hard to believe he was in A-ball to start this year. Dude owes Lou Santangelo BIG time.

Wandy Rodriguez needed 23 pitches just to get through the first inning. He sure had velocity on the FB, mostly 91-92, and I am beginning to think he has himself a reputation with umpires because, as usual, he didn’t get a single borderline call. He also only threw one change and the curve twice, so I starated wondering if his thumb was still hurting. I had a bad BAD feeling. In the second inning, he threw all but one FB and had some trouble locating (Ball 4 to Nyjer Morgan was a strike) but got himself out of trouble giving up only 1 run.

In the third, Freddy Sanchez led off with a single on a high FB that was only 87 (hmm, losing velocity??) then on an 0-2, looks like a FB might could have clipped his jersey and he was on. Then he struck out Nady on 3 curves and walked around the mound a bit afterward. I started wondering if his thumb was hurting. He then threw 3 of 7 curve balls to Pearce, and none of them came near the strike zone – and neither, in fact, did 3 of the fastballs that were fouled off and hit.

He then threw a 90 MPH FB down the middle to Ronny Paulino – guess he figured out that the curve wan’t working and Wandy wasn’t throwing his changeup and he sat dead red – and Paulino lined it into the Crawford Boxes. So he tried a changeup to Jack Wilson – low and outside. So he came back with an 87 MPH FB which he lined 350′ into the CB. Wandy’s first multi homer game since the debacle at Wrigley right after the ASG. He then struck out Matt Morris on 2 FB down the middle and a curve – nowhere near the strike zone.

If guys are hurt and can’t pitch well, they should freaking TELL someone because they just go out there and do lousy and then everyone just thinks they suck. It’s the end of the season, we have a zillion guys and we’re not exactly hurting for starters. Shut the guy down. Let him heal up. What’s the big deal?

I guess Coop must have decided that Wandy was in pain and ineffective, so he decided that with the pitchers’ spot coming up in the bottom of the third, just send in a pinch hitter and start checking out all the young guys. After all, how often do the Astros come back from a 5 run deficit? Or ANY run deficit, for that matter? I thought it was clearly the right decision.

Juan Gutierrez came in and pitched 2 excellent innings, giving up only 1 walk and getting 6 outs on 25 pitches, 16 strikes. FB was running 92-93 and he was throwing the curve for strikes. He also threw a couple of sliders, not Lidge/Qualls quality ones, lets put it like that… He looked incredibly better than he did in his last start, when he couldn’t get the curve over and threw FB down the middle.

Felipe Paulino pitched the 6th, giving up a hit and getting 2 Ks on 16 pitches. He threw 96 MPH heat and located sliders both sides of the plate.

Dennis Sarfate pitched the 7th. The crowd was all drooling over the radar – he was throwing 95-97. And he was locating the fastball, which was the only pitch he threw.

At what point can we finally conclude that Steve Randolph is not, um, major league material? He’s pitched in 10 games, 9.1 innings, and not given up any runs in 2 of those games. He has 11 walks, 15 K and 4 homers… He came in to start the 8th, got Kata swinging, then walked Ronny Paulino on 5 pitches – not even close. He sure walks a lot of guys. He then gave up a homer to Jack F. Wilson, for goodness sakes. The Jack Wilsons of the world should not be having 2 homer games. He got Phelps to popup – a tricky play, and then Nyjer Morgan hit a ball to the LF bullpen, almost out of the park, beating the throw into third. Anderson has a good, strong, accurate arm. I LIKEY this guy.

Man on third, Jose Bautista up and Coop sends in the pitcher who got beat last night. But not tonight – Qualls throws 3 sliders and Bautista grounds out weakly. Baseball is one of those games where sometimes the hitters make the pitcher look bad and sometimes the pitcher makes the hitter look bad. Youneverknow.

And Brad Lidge was his old lights out self. 13 pitches, 10 strikes, 2 Ks, 3 outs.

And the hitters tonight FINALLY decided to hit with men on base!!! Yes, there were 2 solo homers, but we scored 9 runs and only left 6 on. Sometimes, things go your way. Matt Morris, who had shut the Stros down the first 3 innings, gave up a lead off homer in the 4th to Carlos (who had left 2 guys on base in the first.) He then gave up an infield single to Pence, got Loretta to GO, then Wiggy homered. Hey!!!

Pirates 5 Astros 3

Towles then hit his first major league hit to RF, and then the good luck fairy showed up – this time for the Astros. Gutierrez laid down a sac bunt. It was a crappy bunt, back to the mound, but Morris rushed his throw, and instead of getting a nice 1-6-3, he over threw and Towles beat the throw into second. Gutierrez, who has the speed of Raul Chavez, made it into first. Men on first and second, 1 out instead of inning over. Josh Anderson then singled up the middle and Towles beat the throw home. Towles can RUN.

Pirates 5 Astros 4

Biggio singled through the 5.5 hole and bases loaded. You know what usually happens when the Astros load the bases, 1 out. GIDP, usually. I figured that Tracy would pull Morris with Berkman up, but nope. And Morris hits Lance with the first pitch.

Pirates 5 Astros 5

Unfreakingbelieveable. Tie game. This is what usually happens to US. The Box goes absolutely CRAZY. It’s good to have THAT kind of noise, even in the desperate fight for the NL cellar.
Anyhow, Jim Tracy FINALLY pulls Morris and sends in Salomon Torres to put out the fire. Darn if Carlos didn’t single up the middle, scoring Anderson and Biggio. But then Pence does the GIDP and it’s ovah.

Astros 7 Pirates 5

The Astros loaded the bases in the 5th when Towles laid down a perfect bunt single. The Hated Jason Lane came in to PH and he hit a ball to the right side of the pitchers’ mound, but the first baseman who fielded it for some reason didn’t throw home for the force but elected to tag Lane at first, so Lane got himself a GO RBI. And then Anderson and Biggio stranded men on second and third.

Astros 8 Pirates 5.

Wiggy hit a solo homer in the 7th, and the Pirates scored 2 runs against the Worthless Steve Randolph, but we won.

No bad fielding!!!!!!!!!

And so far, Towles and Anderson are looking pretty darn good.
Root, root root for the young sters, if they don’t play it’s a shame…..