Archive for February, 2006

2/26/06: Hellooooo, Roger Clemens

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

“Hello Roger!
Well, Helloooooooooo Roger!
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong
You’re looking swell, Roger,
We can tell, Roger,
You’re still glowin’, you’re still goin’
You’re still throwin’ strong.
So here’s your cap, Roger
You stayin’ where you’re at, Roger…”

(apologies to Jerry Herman)

So the Rocket got permission from MLB to come to ST to pitch to the Astros minor leaguers.

You know, he just warming up for the Bud Selig Tournament – you know, the one that guys are dropping out of at record rates with, uh, pulled something or, um, uh, strained whatevers. But after that, Roger can just decide if he wants to give it another go.

Smile

I don’t see him working out at the Yanks/Red Sox/ Rangers complexes, do yall?????
And I’m pretty darn sure we ain’t gonna see him at their ML parks, neither.

No news on the Baggy front. Just the usual – waaaal, we’ll see how things go ay-yup. Yes Drayton and Jeff just wanna see how things go and they shook hands yesterday like gemmuns do and things be hunkydory yessiree. Drayton is keeping mouth SHUT bout the insurance… IF Baggy can hit with power and throw well this spring, AND he convinces the insurance company that he’s not disabled so he does make the team, who knows if he’ll hold up through the entire season playing every day? He might could split playing time with Lance and Lamb anyhow…

One thing I thought of – yall know that this year, baseball is supposed to be drug-free (cough, cough) and that means not just illegal steroids, but illegal amphetamines, too. Now, of course, I don’t know IF any guys on the Astros have done “greenies” to, um, help them play (I guess I’m not supposed to say enhance performance, because that’s only roids, used by bad guys like Barry, Sammy, Raffy and McGwire to desecrate the Sacred Home Run Records. Oh yeah, and used by el-sucko players like Alex Sanchez and Manny Alexander for comic relief…)

Anyhow, it seems to me that there’s gonna need to be a lot more platooning if guys aren’t allowed to use because they gonna be more tired than usual. (Note, I am NOT accusing anyone in particular of doing drugs – although I find it hard to believe that IF greenie use is as widespread as some players have said, that the entire Astros team is squeaky clean…)

Using bench guys more often would most DEFINITELY fit with Phil Garner’s style, fer SHER…

Astros News, Notes and Comments 2/23/06

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Pitchers are pitching, catchers are catching, and some position players – Eric Bruntlett, Jason Lane, Luke Scott, Willy Taveras and Chris Burke – have arrived to start working out in the batting cages and stretching. Luke Scott hit like Barry Bonds last spring and made the team. Unfortunately, after the season started, he hit like Manny Alexander and got sent back down. He isn’t expected to make the team this year, either, naturally, since Preston Wilson is supposed to play left. But he is a very good fielder and has a strong and accurate arm and we only have 2 lefties in Mike Lamb and Orlando Palmeiro.

Update in the Baggy Saga – they said on KTRH that he is supposed to show up on Friday with the rest of the position players and actually hit and field and throw with the rest of the guys. Hmmmmmmmmmm – I guess the team worked out some kind of deal with the insurance company and Baggy with a cut off date at the end of Spring Training instead of January 31. IF Baggy looks like my granma in a wheelchair out there, I hope he is a man about going on the DL and doesn’t whine and pout and cry like my kids do when they hungry and need a nap… I really feel for Baggy – it must be really hell to have all the desire and energy to play, have the strike zone judgement, but your body just won’t cooperate.

It’s gonna be a real mess defensively in that OF (Preston Wilson really isn’t able to play a good CF any more since his knee problems) if Lance is in left. Gonna have to be a LOT of late inning DR…

Lessee, what else – Ken Rosenthal says in his column on foxsports.com that the Astros are looking for a veteran starter – say, 36 year old Pedro Astacio. They gotta be kidding. Last year, Pedro Astacio was released from the freaking RANGERS, who need pitching like a desert needs rain. Look at his stats over the past few years, and also note that his ERA+ have been 83, 57, 47 and 91. Uck.

Like HOW is this guy so much better than 27 year old Wandy? (well, maybe bettern Zeke Astacio…) But I would rather take a chance on Jason Hirsh or Taylor Buchholz (who had an ERA of 1.36 in 23.2 IP in the AFL, which is like pitching in Coors) or even Carlos Hernandez, who is supposed to have finally figured out how to pitch without his old velocity 3 years after shoulder surgery.

Besides, I really do believe that Roger is gonna come back May 1 (or pretty close to it) and we would need a #5 guy 3 or 4 times in April and, well, even Zeke is bettern Brandon Duckworthless, who was the #5 guy last year. I don’t see any reason to pay more than ML minimum to a washed up vet. We got Russ Springer, anyhow, to provide all the “veteran leadership” we need…

Astros Pitchers and Catchers Report ST 2006

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Sorry I haven’t been writing much lately – between my being sick and this **** computer, it’s been tough. Fortunately, not much of anything has been happening.

Catchers:
Brad Ausmus
Raul Chavez (can you believe this guy was drafted as a shortstop????!!!!)
Humberto Quintero (is on the list to play for Venezuela in the Bud Selig Exhibition)
JR House

Well, you KNOW that Brad will catch around 3 of 4 games. You KNOW that Chavez can’t hit or run. Who knows what Quintero can do and House has been out of baseball for over a year. Well, plenty of guys will be throwing, so at least there will be 4 guys catching.

Pitchers:
- first, the GOOD news – Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettite will NOT be in Bud Selig’s idiotic exhibition thingy.
- but the bad news is that Dan Wheeler, Brad Lidge and Mike Gallo (he’s playing for Italy) will.

Anyhow, here are the pitchers who reported:
- from the 40 man roster:
Roy Oswalt
Andy Pettitte
Brandon Backe
Wandy Rodriguez (is on the list to play for the DR, but as far as I know, hasn’t been picked)
Ezequiel Astacio
Jason Hirsh RHP
Taylor Buchholz RHP
Matt Albers RHP
James Barthmaier RHP
Juan Gutierrez RHP
Mark McLemore LHP
Trever Miller LHP
Fernando Nieve RHP (is on the list to play for Venezuela, but as far as I know, hasn’t been picked)
Felipe Paulino RHP
Chad Qualls RHP
Russ Springer RHP

- and NRI
Dave Borkowski RHP
Jared Gothreaux RHP
Steve Sparks RHP
Joe Valentine RHP
Carlos Hernandez LHP is playing for Venezuela in the WB waste of time. (He supposedly has gotten back some of the velocity he lost after his shoulder surgery 3 years ago – we’ll see…)

And I suppose I gotta say something about the Roger dance. As yall know. Roger IS pitching for the US team. And after that? Well, he just hasn’t made up his mind about what SHOULD he do, he just can NOT make up his mind just yet – he’s thinking, he’s thinking. It’s either return home to Fenway as the Prodigal Saviour (until the first time he gives up a run to the MFY) or back to the Almighty Yankees or maybe to Coors AL (AKA the Ballpark in Arlington) or back here where he belongs after resting up for a few months so he’ll still have enough gas to WIN the WS this time.

I still don’t believe he gonna go back Up There, even though I guess a LOT of people thinkin he wants a bidding war more than anything and I don’t think he wants to pitch in the heat of Arlington Stadium and see his ERA go over 4. AND he still hasn’t taken the stuff out of his locker here at the Box – and he DID say he wants to actively participate as soon as his personal services contract starts. I think he really DOES like working with the young guys, and you know there’s gonna be at least one new one on the team, as well as Wandy and Zeke…

Go By “The Book”

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

Yall have heard of “the Book” – the unwritten rules ballplayers and managers and coaches know ALL about. You know, Rules like – don’t steal bases if your team is ahead by 8 or more runs. Or – bat Adam Everett second so he can bunt Biggio over. Or – you ain’t allowed to break up a no hitter after the 5th inning with a bunt hit, even if the score is 1-0.

Time for The Book.

And this one IS written – written by three famous sabermatricians; Tom Tango (aka Tangotiger), Mitchel Lichtman (official stat geek for the Cardinals) and Andy Dolphin.

Tango has PROMISED me that even a non math person like myself (who in serious deep doodoo without a calculator) can understand it and that they put the math and formulas into the appendix (for folks who don’t actually think a spreadsheet is something that goes on a mattress…)

Anyhow, they look at long held baseball “wisdom” and strategies with sabermatricians eyes. You KNOW the old school guys of the baseball world gonna have a FIT.

Take the sacrifice bunt, PLEASE. Now we ALL know that if the pitcher is up, and he can’t hit MY weight and there’s less than 2 outs, it’s GOOD for him to bunt. Even stats folks agree with THAT one.

Here’s where they are going with this:
“Such rhetoric as, It is a good strategy to put a run on the board as quickly as possible, or, Late in a close game, getting a single run can be critical, or, in the opposite vain, Outs are too precious to waste, or, A sac bunt is a rally killer, period, are just that – rhetoric. They don’t enable us to answer the following pertinent questions:- Is it ever correct to sac bunt? In other words, does a sac bunt ever increase a team’s chances of winning the game, as opposed to swinging away?
- If yes (it is sometimes correct), when?
- From what positions in the lineup, by what kinds of batters, with what kinds of hitters following the batter, versus what kind of pitcher, in what park, at what score, and in what inning?
If we can answer all, or even some, of these questions, then perhaps we can put the controversy and the arguments to rest. Maybe….”

Smile-
Judging from the ENORMOUS amount of hostility from the Old Baseball Guys to “Moneyball” and to baseball people in the front office who do Really Bad Things like go to college, especially Bad Places like Harvard or Yale where they get taught to spread sheets on computers, I would guess that Christopher Columbus would have had an easier time convincing folks that the earth was round back in 1492.

(I know some of yall gonna be askin me why is Harvard such a Bad Place besides the fact that it is Up There and has a lousy football team, but I guess the answer is that they let in guys like Paul DePodesta who has zits and trades away ballplayers that Bill Plaschke personally likes for guys who can hit…)

So anyhow, me having an Inquiring Mind, I would like to see if, in the modern game as it has been played since, at least, the Strike, if Old Baseball Wisdom really DOES work in the long run. And if not, what would be a better way and why.

So, here I am, plugging this Book (I am NOT getting paid for it, by the way) even though I haven’t gotten my copy yet, just read the excerpts at www.insidethebook.com. But I have read a lot that has been written by Mitchel Lichtman (he’s the guy who invented the UZR system of rating defense, by the way) as well as Tangotiger and if this book is half as good as their blogs/casual writing, it’s gonna be good – and a LOT less, um, dramatic than Billy Beane’s “autobiography.”

So click here to go BUY The Book…

Superbowl Sunday – What a GREAT Day

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

Yes, I see the shock on the faces of yall who know I am, um, not exactly a pro football fan.

And I am barely following the Great Fight between the Aggies and the Seattle Somebodies bout who stole the 12th man from who. You know, when I first heard about stealing the 12th man, I immediately thought of one of my girlfriends, but I digress.

You see, what is so great about this particular day is that
#3 son looks at the players and sez – where Roger at? (Clemens, duh)

So Husband’s friends, relatives and co-workers all figgered they’d, um, drop by for a Super Celebration catered by Yours Truly.
BUT

Husband sez
1 – no alcohol allowed in the house or yard
2 – House Rules (written by not so dumb wife) sez men clean up all man made messes.

Therefore,
Husband, Friends, Relatives and Co-workers all decide to have Super Celebration somewhere else.

Which means when all the tough got going, the grrrrls went shopping!!!!!

- Baseball to follow (PACR in 18 days!!!!!)

Ensberg Signs; 2006 Payroll Update

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Morgan Ensberg and the Astros avoided arbitration by compromising midway on their demands: Morgan had wanted 4.2 mill and the Astros had wanted to pay 3.4 mill so they settled on 3.8 mill.

I had tried to estimate the true Astros payroll a few weeks ago (click here to read)

At that time, Ensberg, Everett, Lidge and Wheeler hadn’t signed contracts, so I didn’t include their contracts in the known payroll, which was $73,994,500. Adding in the total of 10,605,000 for the 4 of them, (note that my guess for their total was 10,750,000 – pretty darn close, hunh – although

I am surprised that Lidge got a bigger paycheck than Ensberg) and $52,600 for JR House, the guaranteed payroll is now $84,652,100.

Adding in the remaining estimated total of what I think all the guys who aren’t arb eligible might could get, $3,700,000 plus dugoutdollars.com’s 7.5 mill in “benefits”, I get a total estimated payroll of $95,852,100. The Astros have “released” a figure of around $105 mill, but I just can NOT find the other 10 mill no matter how hard I look. (Anyone else got any ideas?)

Last year’s payroll was just under 85 mill, as I add it up, and IF Drayton can force Baggy on the bench and get the insurance company to fork over, well, he can get payroll down to around 80 mill.

With all the extra simoleons from the playoffs and WS and the increased ticket prices this year, you bet I believe that that 15.6 mill going straight into Unca Drayton’s pocket. That aw shuks, ahm jess a po hick country good ol boy – it don’t cut no ice with me. Don’t guess it cuts no ice with Baggy no more, neither.

20 more days until PACR!!!!!