Archive for March, 2007

3/31/07: Pre-Opening Day

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

It was a perfect day for 3 Mamis to take 7 kids to a ballgame. I didn’t think that the ballpark would exactly be real too crowded on a Saturday afternoon for a ST game with the Royals, seeing as how Wandy and Brandon Duckworthless were to be the starting pitchers, and it was a rainy day.

And I was right.

Now for all yall gonna be taking lots of small kids to a ballgame, especially if they think it’s Opening Day, best to feed them a LOT of food before you leave for the ballpark and to dress them in their Astros shirts and caps. This way, you won’t hear – Mamiiiiiiii, I’m hungryyyyyyyyy – Mamiiiiiiiiiiiii, I wanna shirtttttttttttt – Mamiiiiiiii, cn I get sumpin else???? – Mamiiiiiiiii how come SHEEEEEEE gets a new Astros cap and I don’tttttttttttt?????

Much.

So as all yall know, Tim and Phil had their minds made up that Wandy was gonna be the fourth starter weeks ago, but he just might could have been sent down at the last minute if he had a BAD game, so he had to look good out there today. And damm if the lil guy didn’t go out and throw a great game. He really did – ZERO walks and only one hard hit ball – a double by Reggie Sanders to deep left center. There were a whole lot of elcheapo broken bat singles, 2 singles that Adam Everett didn’t get (that he usually does – he looked like an ordinary SS instead of Ozzie Smith) and the 2 runs that Reggie Sanders drove in were guys who both should have been out. DeJesus hit a ball to Burke’s (at second) right that he stopped and dropped – a clear error that was ruled a hit, then a ball that Lamb (at third) charged and booted because he was looking at second instead of at the ball, that was also ruled a hit instead of an error. Mark Sweeney then promptly hit a clean single up the middle. Wandy was pretty upset after the 2 runs scored and Brad Ausmus went out, settled him down and Wandy went and got the 3 outs without letting any more runs score. He didn’t walk anyone and he only went to a 3-2 count ONCE in the entire 6 innings. He threw strikes, too – 85 pitches, 69 strikes – yeah, I counted twice, I can hardly believe it my own self.

Other things
- Burke looked VERY good at the plate.
- Jason Lane looks like a different guy – he’s lost a GOOD 20 pounds, his legs and butt look lean instead of bulky and he has completely changed his stance. I mean completely. He isn’t crouching, he’s holding his hands higher and further back, and he isn’t swinging and missing. He hit a slider that didn’t hang 400′ into the second opening over the visitors’ bullpen.
-Bruntlett hit the game-winning 3 run HR into the CB – yeah, only 345′, but it did the trick, as, I guess a final finger to the Astros management for sending him down.
- Quintero is barely fastern Chavez, but he hit OK. He blocked the only ball that was in the dirt, and he didn’t need to try to throw anyone out. So I can’t really comment on his catching abilities. Rumor has it he’s gonna be Woody’s personal catcher.
- Sampson looked awesome. No other word.
- And Brad Lidge got 3 outs on 5 fastballs. Whew. I couldn’t care less if he never gets another strikeout EVAH if he just gets the 3 outs without giving up runs.

Because it was a ST game, they didn’t run the PA constantly and it was really great – I talked to the kids, explaining what was going on, talked to my gf about the pitches and players, talked to the other fans… There were maybe 12,000 (if that) people at the game and except for one girl in a Royals T-shirt, almost everyone was wearing Astros stuff. Talked to a whole lot of people and here’s what I heard:
- Hunter Pence should be playing in the ML (14 of 20 agree)
- Sampson is simply awesome and should be the 5th starter (20 of 20 agree) – and for ONCE, Phil agrees with us!!!
- I’m REALLY worried about Lidge (20 of 20)
- I wish we had kept Willy T (5 of 20) – the others said – dude can’t hit unless bases are empty and all he hits are singles/IF hits and he can’t steal off rightys.
- Lance ROOLZ (20 of 20) and this year he beats out Uncle for the MVP (8 of 20)
- Biggio is gonna sit on away games BEFORE he gets 70 hits (12 of 20) and AFTER he gets 70 hits (20 of 20)
- Roger will come back to the Astros (10 of 20) or will go to the Yankees/Red Sox (4 of 20) or will retire (6 of 20)
- Good riddance Andy Pettitte him and his horsestuff with the player option he gonna be on the DL and he sucked most of last year anyhow (19 of 20)
- I ain’t missing Opening Day (20 of 20) or Jeff Bagwell Night (20 of 20)

Stros Fans. I LUVVV em.

Kids were pretty good too. Of course they had questions -
- how come they keep changing the players? (because today is special – it’s like Little League – everybody gets to play)
- how come Roy is batting with 1 out and a guy on second? (cuz he wanted to and it’s fun to see if a pitcher can hit some young kid)
- cn we get some cotton candy? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
- cn we get some ice cream? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
- cn we get some Nachos? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
- how come they got brothas on their team and we don’t got none on the Astros? (sigh. just when you think you got easy answers to all the kidz questions, they getcha. And saying – Ida know – is the truth, but it is not a very good answer. If they want local guys, they could have gotten Michael Bourn – I know all yall thinkin bout Crawford, but the D-Rays had the higher pick. And unfortunately, Jimerson wasn’t major league quality and I agree with their decision to let him go.)

So it was a pretty good day. We end ST 18-11-1 on a winning note.

Monday is the REAL Opening Day, which my kidz don’t know because they would be whining non-stop bout how they wanna gooooooooooooooo. My niece was told that if she managed to keep her mouth SHUT, she could come hang with the Big Grrrls to see Roy. So far, so shut. She’s got almost 36 hours more of mouth shut and not telling 3 boys – I’m gonna go and you’reeeeeeee not – HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAA – man that’s tough. But I give the child at least even odds…

Hardball Times Asks 5 Questions About The 2007 Houston Astros

Friday, March 30th, 2007

I wrote an article for The Hardball Times (YES!!!!!!! Shameless self-promotion!!!!!!!)http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/five-questions-houston-astros2/

Community Forecasts For A Statistician

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I hope that most of all yall have heard of Tom Tango (AKA Tangotiger), the famous baseball statistician who collects fan scouting reports on ballplayers’ defensive abilities every year. He, along with Mitchel Lichtman and Andy Dolphin wrote The Book which I have written about before.

Anyway, Tom has a new fan scouting survey, this time on the performance of hitters and pitchers, in which he’s comparing the forecasts of us just plain fans who have exactly ZERO idea what to regress in any analysis, let alone who Marcel is or why he got projected, to the projections of 6 experts’ systems for projecting player performance (such as PECOTA, ZIPS, CHONE…)

As Tom says: “I’ve seen the results of six forecasting systems this year. (I’m sure some of you have seen more than that.) And all were based on some algorithm with little leeway for human interaction. Why is that? Because we can’t trust any single person’s opinion. But, what if we can get a consensus, a Wisdom of Crowds? Who knows more about whether Papelbon Sampson will be a starter or reliever this year: an algorithm or an Redsox Astros fan? Who knows more about the number of games a 2006-injured Hideki Matsui Morgan Ensberg will play in 2007: an algorithm or an Yankees Astros fan? There are certain human observation elements that are critical for forecasting. That’s where you can come in, and why you are here.”

Please click here to help Tom with the forecasts. Also, please forgive him for just mentioning just RedSox and Yankees. The poor boy can’t help it – he’s from Up There. And please forgive me for editing. The grrrl cain’t help it, the grrrrl cain’t help it…

3/28/07: Chris Sampson Pitches Great

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I guess Phil Garner relented and let Chris Sampson have another start – Chris said that he felt fine, just had a bad day after a great warmup. And he kept feeling great today – all his pitches worked. He gave up 3 hits, 1 walk and 1 ER over 5 IP – just 74 pitches. Far as I’m concerned, he should have just pitched himself onto the rotation. A starter is much more valuable than a long man.

I also think that Quintero just secured his spot with the game winning 3 run double in the 9th. It’s just as well – he has no options and Munson has a minor league contract anyway.

Am I the only one noticing that Biggio hasn’t had a hit since the Sunshine Kids business? You know, the day some MLB person complained that the lil yellow pin that Biggio has worn on his ST hat for like 20 years is an affront to MLB and The Way It Should Be Played?
- here’s an ESPN writer’s take: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn…..ortCat=mlb
And in case any of all yall want to support BGO and the kidz dying of cancer that MLB does not seem to care about, here’s the website: http://www.sunshinekids.org.
(Thanks Steve Schramm.)

And I been listening and listening and I have not heard one breath about any trade involving Jason Lane or Eric Bruntlett. It is just too hard for me to believe that the Astros are just gonna let Bruntlett walk – or I should say, be grabbed by some other team for absolutely nothing. I’m STILL remembering Scott Linebrink – grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

And for all yall who think ST stats really tell ALL about how good the player is doing-
guess who has better stats – David Ortiz or Joe McEwing? Manny Ramirez or Joe McEwing? (David Ortiz is batting .196 with a .304 SLG, Manny is batting .250 with a .306 SLG and Stupor Joe is batting .293 with a .341 SLG. Yall think the BoSox should release Ortiz and replace him with McEwing?)

And did you know that Uncle Albert is batting .262 and SLG .416? Looks like Brad Lidge ruined him. And Scott Rolen is batting .232 and SLG .375 – looks like he’s still having a psychological problem from his little fight with his manager last October. They need to go and they should be replaced with Skip Shumaker, batting .400 and SLG .578.

Yep, looks like Manny Ortez and Albert Rolen all washed up.

Good think we got all them good ol reliable ST stats so we can be sure.

3/27/07: Goodbye To Zeke Astacio

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

From the way that you pitched
The way that I saw it,
You weren’t worth a spot
And bout the trade we messed
It wasnt that good to begin with,
And now they’ve sent you packing
Saying things that you knew they would,
You isnt worth our time.
Goodbye to you

(slightly altered -The Used “Goodbye to You”)

The last of the three guys we got from Philly in the Billy Wagner trade (the others were Brandon Duckworth and Taylor Buchholz) is gone – he was put on waivers prior to being sent down and the Rangers claimed him. I know he had a decent ST (7 games, 8 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, no homers) but as all yall know, I was never really impressed with his stuff. He always gave up waaay too many homers and it is gonna be interesting to see what happens to him in Arlington Stadium. His last game there, he gave up 8 runs in 2 innings – three homers.

And I am just feeling sick writing this, but Roy is the only starting pitcher/candidate who is not simply sucking. Wandy gave up 3 ER in 3 IP – after 2 outs in the third, strike 3 got called ball 4 and he threw 30 more pitches to get out of the inning. Sigh. And today, Woody gave up 5 hits (3 doubles) and 2 walks – 5 ER in 5.1 IP. Yeah, I know our offense is better than last year, but I mean it’s not like we have the Yankees lineup and we can’t win with pitching like that. And speaking of hitting, both Jason Lane and Luke Scott have cooled off and both are hitting around .250.

I have no idea what on earth they are gonna do with Eric Bruntlett. They have to put him on waivers to send him to AAA and I can’t believed he won’t be claimed. Purpura must be working overtime on trades. The starting pitching looks like, um, horsestuff.

I hardly wanna even think about the bullpen, neither. The guy who writes scoutingbook.com thinks that Brad Lidge will rebound and be our closer again. He runs a fantasy baseball site and Brad is his pick for Astros closer. Now I will confess that for all I know, he’s a closet Cubs/Cards/Brewers fan…

Also, there’s a new Astros blog www.jastroworld.com. Check it out.

3/25/07: TLR (Tony LaRussa) And DUI

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

First, Astros business:

Richard Hidalgo was released today after refusing a minor league assignment. This is the guy we chose when we had to choose between him and Bobby Abreu – guess that was the wrong choice, hunh? Bobby is going strong with the Yankees and Richard was washed up at age 30 – really, age 29.

Richard had a cup of coffee in 1997, age 22, did well going 19 fer 62 with 5 doubles and 2 homers. He was called up midseason in 98, playing in 74 games with a 303 BA and a .474 SLG and showed a great glove and strong accurate arm. As a backup OF in 99, he played in 108 games, but didn’t hit as well, going .228 with a .420 BA. He was one of the few bright spots in the dim year 2000, luuuvvvving the Box, going .314 with a .636 SLG – 42 doubles, 3 triples, 44 HRs, and he was rewarded with a 4 year 32 mill contract, buying out his arb years and the first year of FA. Bad gamble. He was merely mediocre the first year – a 104 OPS+, was lousy the second year with a 93 OPS+ and managed a last hurrah in 2003 – hitting .302 with a .572 SLG – although he only hit 22 homers. In 2004, he sank out of sight with a .239 BA and a .412 SLG. He didn’t walk very much and struck out a lot – not quite Preston Wilson a lot, but almost as much. This ST he batted .136 with 1 HR and too many Ks. What little I saw of his arm was NOT impressive. He looked 40, not 30.

Sigh.

And talking of bad, Jason Jennings stunk it up today – limp FB = 8 hits (including a leadoff homer and 3 doubles) 1 BB, 4 ER in 5 IP.

And talking more about bad, I wanna talk about driving after drinking, which is bad. Let me say, first of all, that I know that when it comes to celebrities it’s just Animal Farm – all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

Next, I am not talking about this just because TLR is the Cards manager – I would be talking about this if the offender was the, say, Mariners manager or the Marlins manager or the ASTROS manager. Fact is that TLR was out late at night, he was drinking, and instead of calling a cab, he decided to drive after he had been drinking. And lets not forget to include – if he was with friends, they didn’t see anything wrong with him doing just that. Fortunately for other people who happened to be out driving, TLR didn’t fall asleep drunk with his foot on the gas instead of the brake.

I’ve read all sorts of columns and comments about this and I sure do read a lot of “well, he just made a mistake and he needs support” and a whole lot of “well, how many of you criticizing TLR for doing this haven’t done the same thing your own self or made mistakes your own self” or “well, it’s his first DUI” – not, well, it’s the first time he ever drove drunk/impaired. Every single state in this country has a limit of 0.08 – it’s what they have to have to get federal funds for roads.

OK – one at a time.

First, I have never EVER, not even once in my life, ever driven after drinking one drop of alcohol, so don’t start there, please.

Second, there’s many kinds of “mistakes” – would we be hearing that if TLR’s “mistake” had been to rape and murder someone? I don’t THINK so. TLR is a mature, intelligent, very educated 62 year old man, not some teenager who thinks he’s above God and the law and immortal and immune to consequences. He KNOWS there is a connection between drinking alcohol and impairment of driving abilities. He KNOWS drunk/impaired driving is against the law. He KNOWS that most people cannot accurately predict their blood alcohol level when they are drunk. He CERTAINLY has the money to call a cab. The kind of mistake TLR made was to gamble with someone else’s life. Now me, sure I’ve sinned plenty, we all sinners, but I have NEVER gambled with someone else’s life, and CERTAINLY not intentionally. Big difference between sinnin against your own self and sinnin against someone else.

Third, I think that most people really DO think it is perfectly all right to drive after they’ve been drinking, and that most people who drink feel justified in driving after drinking. Getting caught is the only mistake. Now, nobody forced alcohol down someone against his will. If a person KNEW he was going to go out and drink, that person COULD have made arrangements for either someone to drive him home or to get a cab. But a whole lot of people WON’T. They just don’t give a damm that they are risking someone else’s life. And a whole lot of “friends” most definitely DO let people drive drunk.
Now, mind you, I am not “against drinking.” Someone wants to drink/get drunk, that’s their right, and far as I’m concerned, it’s none of my business.

BUT

It’s when people feel they have a right to threaten lots of OTHER peoples lives by driving after they’ve been drinking, well, then†that it is my business. And it bothers me that people don’t take it serious that these people are playing russian roulette with other peoples lives. Look – If I got a gun and shot a dozen rounds into the air in downtown Houston, well, the bullets might could just fall and not hurt anyone, or they could fall and kill someone. Just because I wasn’t TRYING to kill someone does not make it any less murder. And killing someone with a car when they’re drunk isn’t even considered murder – it’s vehicular manslaughter.

Yes, I know there are a lot of lucky people down in Florida who weren’t killed by TLR. Yes, I know he admitted guilt. Yes, I know that because he’s famous he won’t suffer one bit, or he’ll get some fine that’s pocket change and have to do “community service.” But I have a lot of problems with the people who feel he needs “support.” Because, best I can tell, it’s because either he’s on their team and you gotta support everyone on your team, no matter what crime he’s committed, or, more seriously, because they feel free to commit the same crime and risk everyone elses’ lives too.

I sure wish Congress felt as strongly about driving after drinking as they did about steroids. If there was a law that gave people a mandatory felony jail sentence of 1 year for their FIRST DUI and vehicular manslaughter was called first degree murder, I would bet that there would be a lot less people killed by people who feel that they have a right to hurt/kill other people because they want to drink and pretend they are not responsible for the consequences.

3/24/07: Roy Oswalt Pitched Great

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Three hits (a double), 2 walks and 5 Ks in 6 IP – and he looked like he could finish the game too.

I am gonna hafta think up some titles for all the entries I’m gonna be writing this year cuz I can’t just keep saying Roy ROOLZ!!!!!

And speaking of ROOLZ, yall see Luke Scott throw out Jason Michaels at the plate?

OK, now to sucks – Brad Lidge had another lousy night. And no, it does not make me feel better to say the Indians’ closer had an even worse night. I just don’t know what we gonna do with that boy. And for all yall tellin me we should ship him off to Boston, they gonna use Papelbon again, so forget that…

3/23/07: Chris Sampson Pitches Three Bag Ugly

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Yall know what a “3 bagger” is, right? Hint – I do NOT mean a triple. I mean you put a bag over his head cuz he so ugly. Then you put a second one on in case the first one falls off. Then you put one on you juuuuust in case he loses his.

Well, last night’s game was a 4 bagger and I can’t tell you where the last bag needed to go.
I was hopehopehoping that Sampson would look like Maddux 1995 but instead he looked like Woody Williams yesterday. When Christian Guzman goes 3 fer 4 off you and the freaking pitcher goes 2 fer 3, well, my friends, you, um, stink.

And Jerome Williams, who couldn’t even make the Cubs el-suck deluxe rotation last year holding the Stros hitters to 2 hits and 1 walk?

I feel sick.

And don’t get me started on all the unearned runs.

Well, I know that there’s just a little over a week left until Opening Day (of COURSE I’m going) and I wouldn’t be real too surprised of there actually IS a trade of some sort and I’m thinking it will be Bruntlett and/or Lane for some starting pitcher – I just hope it ain’t Lieber. But hey, 2 bad games is just 2 bad games and they don’t even count. But it is closin in and the guys they better get their *(%! together right quick is all I can say….

3/22/07: Hunter Pence Gets Sent Down

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Well, we KNEW it was gonna happen. Astros fans are Up Set. You see, ST stats count with guys they like – like Pence, and they don’t count with guys they don’t like – say, Ausmus, Lane. And the same people who think that Willy T is Willie Mays all over again and are bitterly complaining that we traded away our great player for beans are also the ones complaining that we sent Pence down. If we hadn’t traded Willy, where would Pence go? RF, I guess. But what about Luke Scott? Uh, trade him too, I guess. From listening to KTRH, sounds to me like people want Lidge, Lane and Burke traded NOW for, um, something – mostly either Carl Crawford (yeah, like he’s available), Dontrelle Willis (yeah, like he’s available) or – believe it or not, Jason Varitek. Yeah, I don’t get that one neither.

Anyhow, I really have this feeling that Lane IS on the trading block – he’s been playing all over the OF and at first. Even if he’s not, you KNOW he gonna be on a VERY short leash this year. And to all the complaining fans, I remind yall that last August, when they wanted to send him down and he was doing TERRIBLE, please remember SOMEbody claimed him offn waivers, so not all teams share yalls opinion that he is worthless or a loser.

But back to Hitter Pence – he NEEDS to get PA every single day and he’s just not gonna get them up here at this point. AND he needs to prove to me, at least, that he actually can hit AAA pitching. Now that is something I KNOW that Scott, Lane and Burke can do very well. It would be different if we didn’t have anyone to play CF or RF, but we do – and Burke is a good hitter and a decent CF – his ML stats from last year back me up. It seems crazy to me to bench Burke all year except for a few PH, as Loretta is gonna play the majority of second when Biggio is off. It seems even crazier to release him or even to try to trade him – there isn’t any market for second basemen this year. Loretta’s bat might could be bettern Biggio’s this year, but his glove was worse last year, and Loretta ain’t no spring chicken and we HAVE to have a second baseman after Biggio retires (hopefully) at the end of the year. We already traded away Benny Zobrist and we don’t have another guy who is ML ready.

But back to Hitter Pence – IF he can hit AAA pitching and IF Burke, Lane and Scott fail, Pence is ready and waiting (and remember bout the arbitration clock – I ASSURE you that the Organization is thinking bout it too.)

Gotta say I was impressed with how well he got the Bull Durham speech down.

3/22/07: Woody Williams Pitches Batting Practice

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

And that’s putting it nicely. It’s not like he had been exactly sharp – actually, I thought he looked flat from his first pitch, but he just flat out fell apart in the 5th – 7 guys up, 4 RS. Matt Albers came in with bases loaded and let 2 of them score. It’s starting to feel a lot like last year…
Brad Lidge came in and pitched an inning, and for ONCE, looked decent – 1 hit and 1 K.

I don’t suppose I should bring this up, but Benny Zobrist, the switch hitting IF we gave up for Aubrey freaking Huff, looked VERY good – and he’s hitting .361 in ST and is gonna be the Ray’s starting SS. That was a BADBADBAD trade – Gerry Hunsicker is no dummy.

Anyhow, guess tonight in doom and gloom night – Joe Posnanski interviewed some scout in his blog to discuss the NL Central – he thinks the Astros will be third. Check it out. But that scout does NOT sound like a NL guy – to me he sounds like an AL guy talkin bout the NL…

And in case any of all yall are into projection systems, check out these. Let me put it like this – natcherilly, they luvvv the Yankees (yeah, I know it’s a Yankees blog, but the projections systems are not from Yankee fans) and 3 of 4 have the Stros finishing 3rd with a 82-80 record. But then again, 2 of 4 have the Cubs finishing first and I’ll believe it on October 2, 2007…

Hopefully, tonight, Chris will be nails and I’ll be back in a better mood again.