Yes, I know this is not exactly a staff to boast about, but at least there are plenty of middle relievers. Ed Wade is GOOD at picking up middle relievers offn the trash heap, waiver wire. He’s not so good at signing them as FA or trading for them, however. Interesting that this Organization, like the Giants, in spite of monstrous effups in the draft, has managed to develop some pitchers. And NRI does NOT mean no chance to make the team – remember Moehler and Rick White… Let’s take a look:
Fernando Abad, age 24 RH RP: signed as an undrafted FA out of the D.R. in 021 by the Astros. Started and relieved in Rookie League Greenville (a hitters’ paradise) in 07, did OK with a 4.14 ERA. Threw 76 innings in relief of 3.30 ERA ball at Lexington in 08. Last year, threw 82 innings in relief at A+ with a 4.14 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, low BB and HR and 8.4 K/9. Promoted to AA, started 3 games over 14 IP with a 3.21 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, increased to 1.9 BB/9, but 0.6 HR/9 and 8.6 K/9. Not sure if the change to starter is going to stick, but at least he seems to have some control. Of course he needs more time in the minors.
Alberto Arias, age 26, Rh RP: one of Ed Wade’s GOOD scrap heap pickups – this time from the Rox at the trade deadline in 08. He uck-sayed as a starter, but this year excelled as a 1 inning reliever until Cooper overused him and he broke in August. He spent the rest of the year on the DL, but should be ready for ST. He threw 45.2 innings over 42 games, ended with a 3.35 ERA/1.49 WHIP, 0.2 HR/9, 3.7 BB/9, 7.7 K/9. He should make the ML team – he’s out of options and would have to pass through waivers before going to AAA…
Yorman Bazardo, age 25, RH SP/RP: signed as a FA in 09 after he was released by the (surprise, surprise) Phillies, who let him go after ST. He had a great year at AAA, was the second best pitcher in the PCL behind Bud Norris (would have been nice if someone at RR besides JR Towles and Tommy Manzella had been able to hit the ball, but I digress…) but he had a very low H/9 AND, unfortunately, a very low K/9. It didn’t translate into major league success, as he exhibited poor control and mediocre stuff and he managed only 1 decent game – threw 5.2 innings against Cole Hamels and NL Champion Phillies, giving up only 2 runs. Yes, I know that every now and then, pitchers with low K rates manage to have ML success, but not combined with high H/9 and high BB/9. I seriously doubt he makes the ML team out of ST, but yeah, youneverknow.
NRI – Josh Banks, age 27, RH SP/RP: second round pick of Toronto on 02. He’s one of those guys with a high ERA and low WHIP who doesn’t walk many, but gives up too many hits. He was called up in 07, pitched 7 lousy innings. He started 08 in AAA, his 3rd year in AAA, and when he had 3 bad starts, he was released and picked up by the Padres. He had 14 starts and 3 relief appearances in 08 with a 4.75 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 9.9 H/9 IP, 1.3 HR/9. 3.4 BB/9, 4.5 K/9 over 85.1 IP (around 5.2 IP/GS). He started off 2009 badly, 3 GS, 3 in relief over 22.1 IP with a 7 something ERA – reduced walks AND Ks and increased HR. He spent the remainder of the year at AAA – did fairly well with a 3.46 ERA, 1.25 WHIP over 125 IP – lowered homers and walks, and increased K/9 to 6.8. He’s one of those guys who has minor league success but has a tough time translating it to ML success. I would guess that he’d be stashed in AAA along with Bazardo.
Tim Byrdak, age 36, LH RP: one of Ed Wade’s scrap heap pick up middle reliever success stories (see, I DO give Fast Eddie credit when credit is due) in ST 2008. He posted a 108 ERA+ over 55 innings in 08 and a 130 ERA+ over 61 IP in 09. (By the way, he is supposed to be the exact same size as Wandy – 5’11” and 195 lb – all yall look at them next time you can, see who is larger – hint, it ain’t the Wand Man…) Last year, he had 2 BS (both L) and 9 holds. He was used quite a bit as a LOOGY, although leftys hit a little bit better against him: – .700 OPSA vs .640. But that is just year to year variation as in 08, leftys hit .469 OPS against and rightys hit 1.005 OPSA. He is certainly capable of pitching 1 full inning, even 2, and it will be interesting to see how Brad Mills uses relievers.
NRI – Gustavo Chacin, age 29, LH SP: now this one really IS 5’11” but last I saw him, he was a HECK of a lot more than 205 lb. Anyway, he was signed out of Venezuela by the Blue Jays in 98, had a cup of coffee in 04, then pitched 205 VERY good innings in 05 with a 119 ERA+ but, um, let’s say he sure nuff didn’t repeat his excellence in 06 at the ML level. Don’t know why – maybe he was hurt, maybe he was eating too many donuts, but he spent the next couple of years bouncing between the ML club and AAA, doing lousy. After 45 execrable innings in 08 at AAA, he was either released or went on the DL. You’ll never guess which Organization he was with last year. Yeah – but at least he had a decent year at AAA – pitched well for the first time since 05 at ANY level with a 3.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5 K/9. Like some of the other guys, I would guess that he has little to no chance of making the ML team but would be AAA filler.
NRI – Roy Corcoran, age 30 RH RP: Signed as an undrafted FA by the Expos in 01. Pitched a couple of good innings in 03 and 04, but spent all of 05 and virtually all of 06 at AAA because he has a leeeeeeetle problem with control and giving up almost 5 BB/9 IP at AAA is not good. He was picked up by the Marlins as 6 year minor league FA for the 07 season, kept his ERA down, but couldn’t lower all those walks. He was signed by Seattle in 08 and, surprisingly, pitched 72 decent innings over 50 games with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP (his old walks problem) but only gave up 1 homer – actually, not givein up homers is definitely his strong point – his lifetime HR numbers are 0.4/9 IP. Anyway, in 09, he pitched 19 horrible innings for Seattle (walks out of control at 8.1/9 IP and Ks decreased to 2.8/9 IP, and he was released and picked up by Ed Wade. He only threw 22 innings at Round Rock and he actually DID decrease walks, but unfortunately, at the expense of increased hits. He CERTAINLY isn’t a better reliever than either Arias or Gervacio, so I would guess he gets to go back to AAA.
NRI – Casey Daigle, age 29, RH RP: AKA Jennie Finch’s husband. First round pick of the DBax in 99 – has had limited ML action because, well, let’s just say they should have picked his wife instead. He had a low ERA last year, 2.91, but a 1.54 WHIP because of a high hit and walk rate, even though he had 8.3 K/9. He appears to me to be another AAA lifer.
Evan Englebrook, age 28, RH RP: picked by the Astros in the 8th round of the 04 draft. Has moved up a level every year, having trouble with adjustint when he first moves up. He started the year at AA, taking some of the closing duties, threw 26 innings in 21 games with a 3.16 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5.6 K/9. He was promoted to AAA, threw just 10 innings with a 6.97 ERA, 1.69 WHIP (too many hits.) He uck-sayed in the AFL this year, so I would gues he’s AAA bound. He doesn’t appear to be remarkable in any way.
Jeff Fulchino, age 29, RH RP: One of Ed Wade’s GOOD waiver wire pickups – this time from the Royals. He threw 82 innings of 123 ERA+ ball over 61 games: 3.40 ERA, 1.18 WHIP. Walks were a little high at 3.4/9, but he kept the hits low, 7.7/9, the HR low at 0.8/9 and the Ks reasonable at 7.5/9. Hope he repeats his numbers this year – he had a .707 OPSA leftys and a .649 OPS vs rightys.
Samuel Gervacio, age 25, RH RP: signed by the Astros as an undrafted FA out of the DR in 02, called up in August and was a VERY pleasant surprise – he was great. In fact, he almost duplicated his minor league numbers which are 3.11 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.1 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 3 BB/9, 11.2 K/9. In the majors, over 22 IP, Sammy had a 2.14 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 6.9 H/9. I hoped he would move into the setup position, but not until the more expensive Lindstrom fails, I guess. He SHOULD make the ML team, but youneverknow…
Matt Lindstrom, age RH RP – either set up or closer: click here to read my evaluation.
NRI – Chia-Jen Lo, age 24, RH RP: signed out of Taiwan 2 years ago. This year, threw 39 innings over 30 games with a 2.31 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.9 H/9, 0.2 HR/9, 4.6 BB/9 (uh-oh), 9 K/9. In the AzFL, he threw 10 innings over 6 games with a 3.60 ERA and a 0.9 WHIP – 7 H, 1 HR, 4 ER, 12 K, 1 BB. I expect him to be promoted to AAA.
Wilton Lopez, age 26, RH SP: picked up on waivers from the Padres by Ed Wade (and at this point, he don’t look so good, but at least he’s not someone who is expensive.) He threw 110 mediocre innings at AA – 3.90 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 10.9 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.1 BB/9 (GOOD) and 5.6 K/9. Got called up to pitch a couple of starts because darn near everyone was already on the DL and SOMEbody had to do it. Let’s just call it batting practice and let it go. Not sure if he’s even going to make the AAA team. He’d BETTER NOT make the ML team.
NRI – Shane Loux, age 30, RH SP/RP: picked by the Tigers in the 2nd round of the 97 draft out of HS. Saw ML service for the horrible 02, 03 and 04 Tigers and trust me on this, he was DEFINITELY part of the problem. After another lousy year at AAA in 05 (5 something ERA, 1.49 WHIP) he was let go and the Royals signed him as a 6 year minor league FA. He was slightly worse, believe it or not. Anyway, for some reason, the Angels picked him up for the 08 season and he lowered ERA, H/9 and WHIP at AAA and also pitched 16 good relief innings in the ML. He wasn’t able to duplicate his success in 09 and his contract wasn’t renewed. Minor league totals: over 1291 innings, 4.43 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 10 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3 BB/9, 5.4 K/9. Not even AAA material. Meh.
Brandon Lyon, age 30, RH RP: will setup or close. Picked by the Blue Jays in the 14th round of the 99 draft. Originally a starter, he threw 63 innings of 108 ERA+ ball in 01, then threw 62 lousy innings in relief in 02 and was sent down to AAA, started and continued to suck. Placed on waivers at the end of the year, he was picked up by the BoSox and threw 59 innings of 113 ERA+ ball in relief in 03. Which was an, um, INteresting year for him – he was part of the infamous Mike Gonzalez trade with the Pirates (he was traded back a week later) and then, after the Pirates found out he was hurt, demanded Gonzalez back PLUS Freddy Sanchez.
At the end of the year, Lyon, Casey Fossum and Jorge De La Rosa were traded to the DBax for Curt Schilling. Lyon missed the vast majority of 04 and 05 due to injury, came back in 06 and threw 69 innings of middle relief with a 3.89 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. As a 7th inning guy and setup man, he did very well in 06, throwing 74 innings with a 2.67 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
The DBax were confident that he could replace Valverde as closer, so they traded him to the Astros for Qualls. Lyons didn’t do particularly well as closer – his ERA increased to 4.79 and his WHIP to 1.49 – he significantly increased both hits and HR/9 and by mid August, lost his closing job to Qualls. He signed a 1 year deal with the Tigers in 09 to be a setup guy and pitched well again: 78.2 innings with a 2.86 ERA, 1.11 WHIP – had a career low 6.5 H/9 and a career high 3.5 BB/9, and had his usual low K rate of 6.5/9 and his usual HR/9 of 0.8. He was signed by Ed Wade, supposedly bidding against some other team, to a 3 year 15 mill deal – imagine – a setup guy is getting the same $$$ as the #1 starter. I have a feeling this is gonna be a Kaz Matsui type deal…
NRI – Gary Majewski, age 30, RH RP: Native Houstonian drafted by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 98 draft out of HS. While still in the minors, he was traded to the Dodgers for Antonio Osuna and a bunch of minor leaguers, and was again traded that July back to the White Sox for James Baldwin. He was in AAA, picthing very well and closing when he was traded in July to the Expos/Nats for Carl Everett (yes, I’m serious.) He was called up and threw 21 innings over 16 games with a 3.86 ERA, marred by a hit rate of 12/9 IP. He had a career year in 05, throwing 96 innings with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. In 06, he had thrown 55 innings of 3.58 ERA, 1.34 WHIP relief innings when he was traded to the Reds for Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez. I guess he was already hurt or immediately hurt and let me say that in the m,ajors, he has uck-sayed and in the minors, has been barely mediocre – he has a low K rate for a reliever – 5.3/9 IP in his good seasons and he tends to give up too many hits – at least 10-11/9 IP, although he is not homeriffic. He spent last year at AAA, you NEVAH guess which Organization, and threw 65 innings of 4.02 ERA/1.55 WHIP ball. He never recovered from injury, looks like.
Brian Moehler, age 38, RH SP/RP: AKA El Cucaracho. Started 29 games and threw 154 innings of 77 ERA+ ball: 5.47 ERA, 1.78 WHIP. The ERA is a little better – 4.91, if you omit his 2 April starts when he was OBVIOUSLY hurt. He also had 2 bad starts at the end of the year – he was obviuosly tired, but the Astros had no one else to take the ball, so he did – increased his ERA from 4.80 to 5.47. He’s not a terrible 5th guy and he can relieve (as long as he doesn’t go more than 3 days without work and he isn’t over worked, and he can pitch long relief. He’s getting paid 3 mill – just 2 more than Wandy, our best pitcher.
Brett Myers, age RH SP/RP: I’ve already talked about the Wifebeater enough – click here to review what I wrote (stat stuff starts about halfway down)
Matt Nevarez, age 23, RH RP. Drafted by the Rangers in the 10th round of the 05 draft and traded to the Astros last August for Pudge Rodriguez. Just finished A ball – for his minor league career, he has a 2.94 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 5.2!!! BB/9 and 11.3 K/9; I should not that his walk rate decreased significantly last year to 3.5/9. Hope it continues its downward trend.
Bud Norris, age 25, RH SP: picked by the Astros in the 6th round of the 06 draft out of Cal Poly: Expected to be our #3 or 4 starter this year. Was the top pitcher in the PCL before his promotion. After callup, he had 3 good starts, 1 bad start, 1 relief appearance from heck, another bad start, then 4 straight good starts to end the year. Historically, he has kept the H/9 below 9 and the K/9 around 9.4 with noce low HR rates of 0.5/9 – but he sometimes has a bit of trouble with control – his walk rate is 3.7 in the minors and was 4.0 in the majors. I hope he sticks. He looks like a tough guy out there.
Roy Oswalt, age 32, RH SP: Roy struggled with injuries, his manager and his pitching coach last year – and oh yeah, his catcher – between Pudge and Coste, that is. He threw fewer than 200 innings for the first time since 03 when he hurt his groin, but managed 29 starts and 6 IP/GS. He had his worst ERA in the majors – 4.12, but the rest of his numbers really reflected his career norms: 1.24 WHIP, 9.1 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9. 6.8 K/9. I have NO idea how he’ll do this year – guess it depends on his back, how bad it really is, and whether or not THIS year, he has better communication with his manager and pitching coach.
Felipe Paulino, age 26, RH SP: well, last year, he was shuffled between AAA, starting and relieving until he hardly knew which way was up. I will say that once Coper was fired and he was put in the rotation and kept there, he did better – 3 starts lasting 6 innings and 3 lasting 5 and only one bad one, really. He had 3 hard luck losses – 2-0, 2-1 and 2-1. He just might could be a decent 5th guy. In the minors, he has a 4.07 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 8.1 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 4.3 BB.9 and 8.3 K/9. I’ve seen him throw exactly ONE excellent game, but if he has a better pitching coach and knows he has a spot in the rotation, he just might could surprise me. I sure hope so.
Wandy Rodriguez, age 31, LH SP: (see the last entry) just lost his arb. Must be, um, interesting to hear the Organization brass tell exactly why you suck and aren’t worth much…
Chris Sampson, age 32, RH RP: did fantastic until the ASB when he got hurt – had 40 games, had a 2.68 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He got hurt, they let him spend a week on the DL after the ASB, he came back, or at least tried to, and he just gave up hit after hit and run after run until they FINALLY, um, sent him down and THEN he went on the DL, where he should have been. He had surgery, he’s ready for ST and he should be back in great form. Too bad the Organization was so determined that he not start…
Polin Trinidad, age 25 LH SP: split last year between AA (did awesome) and AAA: 87 IP with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Career minor league stats: 3.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP: 8.7 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 1.9 BB/9 (HEY, control!!! What a concept!!!) and 6.9 K/9. Will be interesting to see how he does in AAA this year. His minor league numbers look incredibly better than Paulino’s – except for the Ks, that is.
Jose G. Valdez, age 27, RH RP: picked up on waivers from the Yankees – he repeated AA last year, had 38 IP with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP and was even worse in his 19 innings at AAA. Minor league filler – not sure why on earth he’s an NRI.
Henry Villar, age 23, RH SP/RP: undrafted FA from the DR, joined the Astros in 08. Threw 90 innings at A ball with a 2.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 1.7 BB/9, 10.1 K/9. Looks good all right, but surely not ready for prime time…
Wesley Wright, age 25, LH RP: maybe I should put down LH SP, seeing as how the Organization has in mind to train him to start. He went to winter ball to learn to pitch more than 1 inning at a time and did pretty well for his first 5 starts, then he pulled something and it went kinda downhill. Wesley struggled, uh, a bit last year, got sent down to work some stuff out, ended up with a 77 ERA+ which is a 5.44 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP (ugh) due to a huge spike in hits/9 IP from 6.5 to 10.5 – and he kept his horrid walk rate or 5/9 IP. Dude gots to learn some control. Coop liked to use him as a LOOGY – trouble was that leftys hit him better than rightys – .924 OPSA vs .853. But it just might be year to year variation, as leftys hit .621 OPSA last year. Youneverknow. IF they want him to start, they’ll probably start him in AAA so he can be sure to go every 5 days. Between him and Polin Trinidad, we might could have a lefty factory underway.
Sure wish we could do as well with position players as we do with pitchers – I mean, actually having guys who seem to possibly have SOME promise…
And, by the way, I will be happy to post any of your own pics from ST and any of your own observations, if you like.