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Archive for June, 2008

6/30/08: Roy Oswalt Pitches An Ace Game, Beats Dodgers

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Roy had every one of his pitches working over the 6 innings he pitched. Of the 79 pitches Roy threw, 58 were strikes. Of those 58 strikes, 12 (21%) were swing and misses.

He threw 10 sliders, 7 for strikes, 3 balls. He threw 3 changeups – 2 strikes, 1 ball. He threw 13 curves – 10 strikes (8 swing and miss) and 3 balls.

He struck out 9 guys in 6 innings, walked none, gave up 6 hits and 2 HBP and 1 sac-fly. I guess Roy was following the advice of his pitching coach Lance Berkman, because he most definitely attacked the strike zone. The FB really had some awesome movement on it too.

He was standing on the mound at the beginning of the 7th, when he summoned the trainer and then he left with a “hip abductor strain.” Such a shame – I thought he’d get his first CG in 2 years.

Roy only got 4 runs of support, but that was all that he needed as Chris Sampson, Wesley Wright and Valverde finished up 3 scoreless innings.

Bourn and Pence were hitless, but fortunately, Lance, Miggy, Loretta and Ausmus got on base and drove in enough. Yes, 2 of the winning runs were driven in by The Hated Brad Ausmus. Miggy also seems to be doing a lot better in the 5-hole. He’s getting better ABs – his 8 pitch beauty against Aardsma yesterday was a classic. Today, he went 2/3 with 2 doubles and an IBB. Heres hoping he picks it back up. Lance hit one of those famous Crawford Box 335′ popups, walked twice and came around to score on one of those walks. Loretta went 1/4, drove in a run (right after Miggy IBB) and scored one. Wiggy, as usual, left all kinds of guys on base.

Wiggy hasn’t done as well as you might expect from a guy with a .823 OPS – he’s had 186 PA, has driven in ONLY 13 runs, same as Brad Ausmus, who has only 126 PA and a .541 OPS. Interesting. With runners on, he’s hitting .182, with RISP, he’s hitting .118.

Let me translate – he’s had 66 AB with runners on – he’s walked 11 times and he’s only driven in 8 – all his 5 homers were solo homers. So he has driven in 14% of baserunners – the same as Michael Bourn, who has very little power. Not good. Interesting that no one has noticed – I guess because his average is 270. And that is what fans notice.

Tomorrow, it’s the Wand-Man vs Clayton Kershaw, LHP, a 20 year old from Dallas who was the Dodgers’ 1st round pick in 06. He was called up at the end of May (to give the Dodgers control over him for 6 2/3 years, instead of 6) and is 0-2 in 7 GS over 33 IP – 33 H, 3 HR, 22 BB, 29 K – 4.36 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and a .267 BAA.
Go Wandy, GO GO GO
Wandy B Good!!!!!!!

6/29/08:Astros Win Last 2 Series To End 2008 Interleague at 7-11

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I don’t understand why it takes so much longer to play AL teams in an NL park even when the scores are low – 3 1/2 hours today for a 3-2, 8 1/2 inning game. The opposition managed 9 hits, 2 runs, both on solo homers, 6 walks; the Astros managed 10 hits, 1 walk and 3 runs. I guess they must be using those 3 minute commercials so popular during national broadcasts.

But it doesn’t matter so much because of the wonderfulness of mlb.com which allowed me to see all 3 games from this weekend over the past couple hours. Excluding all the gloating over the bandwagoners stuffing Unca Drayton’s pockets. Then again, I hear tell that a lot of Astros season ticket holders made a killing selling their tickets to the visiting AL fans…

smile

So the lowly lousy Astros took 4 of 6 from the 2 best teams in the supposed to be sooooooo superior (according to all the AL worshipping BBTN people) AL.

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Which shows that when it comes to baseball, there is one sure thing – youneverknow.

To me, the most amazing thing is watching Brian Moehler, of ALL people, turning into the #2 guy – or at least sharing #2-hood, of you can call it that, with Wandy. He didn’t keep guys off base – he gave up 7 hits and 3 walks in 5.2 IP, but he kept em from scoring and gave up only 1 run on a solo homer to Dustin Pedroia (who reminds me of Biggio – size and all, about 1994 – 2002). Brocail and Valverde held it together this weekend, too, which, considering all the innings they’ve pitched, is great.

Backe yesterday really had only 1 bad inning – he gave up 4 runs in the 4th, but no home runs for the first time in 2 months. He should have been out of the 6th too, but Pence BADLY misplayed a fly ball he should have caught easily, which tipped off his glove, and went for a “triple.” Honestly, these scorers – there is NO way that was not an error. But unfortunately, Geoff Geary, who came in to relieve was rusty from disuse and gave up 4 runs while getting outs on a sac-fly and an out on a runner trying to advance an extra base. But fortunately, their pitchers gave up runs even faster than ours, so the Astros won there too.

Runelvys Hernandez pitched better than I expected him to, given his history, giving up 5 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings – and unfortunately giving up a 3 run homer on a night when the Astros hitters couldn’t do a thing with Matsuzaka. Sampson and Wright gave up a couple of runs, too, but it didn’t matter. Props to Reggie Abercrombie for hitting a homer offn the tracks to ensure that at least the Astros didn’t get shut out.

I don’t know, of course, exactly what went down in that clubhouse after the fallout of the Shawn Chacon debacle, but I do know that Coop shook up the lineup after Friday’s game, which, in my opinion, was a good idea, given the fact that Tejada had not been hitting like a #3 guy in a month. He bumped Pence to the 2-hole, moved Lance, the team’s best hitter to the 3-hole, Carlos to cleanup, Miggy to 5th, whoever played second base to 6th, then Wiggy, Quintero, pitcher. Seems to have worked.

Looks as if he’s going to shuffle different guys at second until Matsui comes back – seems to be working just fine.

And interesting, by the way, that Derek Jeter came out and said he hoped that Chacon could get another chance, that he’s a good guy and this must have been a one time thing. Ian Snell said that he was a good clubhouse guy and mentor, last year. Whatever else you can say about Chacon, seems his teammates in other clubhouses, not just this one, seem to have liked him. If a guy really is a jerk, you don’t hear stuff like that. I never heard stuff like that about, say, Shea Hillenbrand…

Anyway, the Dodgers come in tomorrow for a 4 game series. Their reporters are all bitterly complaining that the team is filled with young guys Who Don’t Know How To Kiss Veteran Ass Especially Theirs, so I’m hoping that maybe Smith/Wade can convince Colletti to trade Proven Veteran RBI man Carlos Lee for one of their uppity young pitchers.

6/27/08: In Which Drayton McLane Makes A Lot More Money, Part 2

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Well this weekend, Drayton is charging higher ticket, parking and food prices for the bandwagon leading team. I sure wish he’d put all that extra $$$ into turning on the AC. If not that, then into improved coaches for the minor leaguers and into the Latin American scouting, academies and BONUSES!!!

And I refuse to play that – oh isn’t it WONderful that this old franchise is coming to our ballpark – doesn’t that make us Astros special – garbage perpetrated by ESPN and our own Organization. I hope that all their fans who flew in for cheap seats here (and yeah, they are cheap compared to their own park, so I hear tell) get drowned out by Astros fans.

Here is the weekend schedule:
Friday: Runelvys Hernandez, RHP vs Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP
Should be interesting. Runelvys hasn’t faced major league hitters, even crummy major league hitters in 2 years and here he is facing the best hitting team in the majors. I remember Manny Ramirez from the 04 All-Star game – he barely swung to hit a homer into the Crawford Boxes. Anyway, Runelvys had Tommy John surgery in 03 and missed the 04 season. He wasn’t exactly an ace before he got hurt, but he was not good AFTER coming back – He had a 5.52 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP over 159 innings in 05 (in the majors) and a 6.48 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP over 109.2 IP in 06. His ML career line shows 10 H/9, 1.18 HR/9, 3.66 BB/9 and 4.78 K/9 with a 5.38 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.

Matsuzaka is the guy the opposition paid 50 million smackers just to negotiate with – and it doesn’t have to be counted as money spent on the payroll – a neat trick, yes? He came off the DL last week and faced the Cards, who hit him like he was pitching batting practice – barely made it out of the first and didn’t get an out in the second before being pulled. I would guess that they have watched him in several bullpen sessions and decided that he’s good to go because unlike OUR team, they have tons and tons of good young pitchers who could take his place if he wasn’t.

This year, he’s 8-1 in 12 GS: 65 IP – 51 H, 5 HR, 41 BB, 56 K: 3.46 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a .218 BAA. He had a 2.40 ERA over 10 GS in 60 IP before the game in Seattle in which he got hurt.
Looks as if his real weakness is walking batters, and unfortunately, the Astros aren’t real too good at taking walks. He’s only faced Tejada, who is 3/5 and Wiggy who is 0/3. His lefty/righty splits aren’t particularly glaring either.

——-

Saturday: Brandon Backe, RHP vs Jon Lester, LHP
This is the second start in a row in which Brandon has had to oppose an ace de la ace and a hard hitting lineup – AND this lineup hits a LOT of homers. It would be great for Brandon to pretend this is a playoff game and the national cameras are on him.
This year, he’s 5-8 in 16 GS over 89.2 IP: 20 HR, 41 BB, 62 K: 4.82 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, .280 BAA. I hope HOPE Brandon remembers that it is better to give up a walk than a homer…
The only hitter Backe has faced in the past 4 years is Sean Casey, who is 6/14 with a double.
-
Jon Lester, LHP, age 24, selected in the second round of the 02 draft and was starting in the majors by June of 06. He was diagnosed with cancer that August, was out a year, and came back in August, just in time to lead his team to win the World Series. In case you are curious, our second round pick that year was Mitch Talbot. Unfair, you say, because he was selected before our turn? OK then, our #1 pick was Derick Grigsby. Oh.

Actually, that 02 draft (the infamous “moneyball” draft) was interesting: here are the first 10 picks:
Bryan Bullington (who?), B.J. Upton, Chris Gruler (who?), Adam Loewen, Clint Everts (who?), Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Scott Moore (who?) Jeff Francis, Drew Meyer (had a few AB in 06, sucked…) Oh yeah – Kazmir went at #15… And of the 41 guys picked in the first round, 17 have become good, productive ML players – I am not counting the ones who got a few PA or a few innings and were horrible. And of Oakland’s 6 picks – they got 3 very good major leaguers – Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton and Mark Teahen; Steve Obenchain and Ben Fritz were busts and Jeremy Brown left baseball for family reasons, although he did reach the majors… 50% of your picks working out is pretty darn good.

Back to Lester, he’s 6-3 in 17 GS†- 9 QS including a no-hitter against the Royals: 103.2 IP – 99 H, 7 HR, 39 BB, 65 K: 3.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and a .253 BAA.
Tejada is 3/6 and Reggie Abercrombie doubled in his only appearance.

——

Sunday: Brian Moehler, RHP vs Josh Beckett, RHP
Moehler this year as a starter is 4-3 in 9 GS: 50.1 IP – 8 HR, 14 BB, 32 K: 3.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and a .258 BAA. He’s thrown exactly one game in which he gavve up more than 3 ER and his last 2 games against the AL, he’s given up 1 ER in 6.1 IP each game.
Manny Ramirez: 9/18 with 4 doubles, 2 HR, 2 BB
Julio Lugo: 5/16 with a double
Sean Casey: 5/11
Varitek: 2/10
JD Drew: 1/8 with a HR
Josh Beckett is very familiar to Astros fans because he’s local (well, from Spring) and because we faced him when he was with the Marlins. He was the second overall pick in the 99 draft, right after Josh Hamilton and right before our old friend Eric Munson. He was called up for a cup of coffee in September of 01, then started 02 in the rotation. He struggled with blisters on his fingers, but put up a 4.10 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP on a lousy team. He was even better in 03, still struggling with the blister problems, and as we all know, he was the World Series MVP, shutting down the Yanks in their own stadium to win the deciding Game 6. He put up great numbers, although no great numbers of wins, due to Loria’s constant dismantling of teams to keep them as cheap as possible and was dumped, along with Mike Lowell after the 06 season in return for Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.

Beckett struggled his first year out of Florida – had a 5.01 ERA, supposedly because he refused to throw anything but FB, who knows, but he certainly turned it around the next year, throwing 200 innings over 30 games with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

Career line: 1093 IP over 178 GS (and a couple IP in relief) – 3.77 ERA, 1.22 WHIP: 8 H/9, 0.98 HR/9, 2.90 BB/9, 8.58 K/9. He’s one of the 5 best rightys in the AL.
He’s only getting paid 10 mill a year for this year and the next 2, can you believe it?

Anyway, Beckett has pitched in the Box twice – 12.1 IP – 4 ER, 12 H, 2 HR, 4 BB, 13 K
Of the Astros hitters, naturally Tejada has seen him the most and he’s 3/20 with a double. Wiggy is 7/19 with 2 doubles and 3 HR. Loretta is 2/14. Blum is 3/8. Lance is 2/14 with a double and a HR. Carlos Lee is 2/5.

6/26/08: Wandy Rodriguez Throws 8 innings Of 5 Hit 1 Run Ball To Beat Rangers

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

WAN DY
WAN DY
WAN DY
WANDY WANDY WANDY!!!!!!!
He simply ROOLZ!!!

Yes, I didn’t miss a pitch, me being the Wandy fangrrrrl I am. Man he was just outSTANDing. Ah LUUUUUUUUVVVVV that boy…

8 innings of 5 hit, 1 run 9 K, no walk 1 HBP, 1 GIDP, 105 pitches. That FB was moving, the curve was curving and the Rangers were swinging and missing left and right (hahahahaha.) And he succeeded in spite of an inconsistent strike zone, and in spite of having to throw an extra 9 pitches in the 7th because Miguel Tejada screwed up an easy 6-3 which would have been a DP ball except that it was a hit and run.

He tired in the 8th, leaving a curve up to David Murphy, who tripled into the gap, then gave up a RBI single to Kinsler. Dewey came out, Wandy told him he was fine, and sure enough, Wandy got a K and a GIDP. AND Wandy hit a single, scored a run, laid down a sac bunt, and flew into a DP because Quintero had a brain fart and didn’t bother to watch the ball to see if it fell in.

Should I mention that after the second inning, the Astros left men on base, including bases loaded every single inning except for the 7th?

And Oscar Villareal mopped up the 9th and only gave up one run and NO homers!!! Imagine that…

I guess that David Newhan, tonight’s starting second baseman, has got to be my third favorite Astro now – seeing as how he’s 5′6″ – you know how I got a thing for the little guy, and he’s hung around for 12 years now – he had a really great year with the Orioles a few years back, and he’s been up and down ever since. He’s a solid second baseman with the glove and he can play most positions, sort of like Bruntlett. Let’s hope he does a good job while he’s up here. If he does, they might could send Abercrombie down instead, seeing as how he doesn’t see to be a very good baserunner OR a very good hitter either.

By the way,
remember Jimmy Barthmaier? No? He was an Astros prospect who was waived in November and picked up by the Pirates, has pitched well in AAA and has been called up and will make his first ML start tomorrow. He was waived, in part, because the Astros Organization did not like his attitude, believed him to be “uncoachable” – hmmmmmmm, seems as if someone in the Pirates Organization managed to coach him – and that is an Organization which has been very hard on pitching prospects.

Chacon has been released, or at least, put on waivers to give him his unconditional release. I know a lot of folks think that no WAY will any team ever sign him, but hey, youneverknow. And at least he didn’t do steroids like that evil Barry Lamar. I would guess that whether or not he is picked up by some other club will not only have to do with that club’s desperation for pitching, but on how Ed Wade is perceived in the GM world, too.

Here’s an article about Ed Wade’s infamous bad temper during his Philly tenure, written by Randy Miller in phillyburbs.com (note – a direct link will not work, so when you click, go down to the last item on the page, which is the article, reprinted in its entirety.)

Wade, by the way, is denying that he either raised his voice or cursed at Chacon there in the lunchroom. I’m havin a REAL hard time believing that. Problem is that none of the players who witnessed the entire thing are talking to the media, so we can’t know for sure what really DID happen.

6/26/08: The Parts Are Falling Off The Psychobilly Cadillac

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I didn’t watch the game live last night, but instead watched Fresno State, the Underdoggest Underdog of all time win its first ever championship in any mens’ sport. This is a team who started its year 8-12 and only even entered the NCAA tournament because they had exactly 4 teams in its division, and they were, without question, the worst team.

Somehow, they won their division. Then, on May 15, they left Fresno, played ALL away games, and somehow, time after time, facing elimination against such outstanding home teams as Long Beach State and†Arizona State, they managed to pull together and defy all odds.

Unlike Georgia, there were no famous guys, no first rounders like Beckham and Davis – their best player went in the 5th round. They had a guy with dislocated fingers playing third and a guy with no thumb ligament playing the OF. They had no famous pitchers, they had some freshman playing short.

There were no el-cheapo victories, there were no games won because of bad ump calls, there was no thrill of the home town crowd. Somehow, their manager managed to not merely “pull the right strings” as in game strategies, but he managed to help, motivate and encourage his players. You don’t hear about “team leaders”, you don’t hear about the manager calling out players to the media, even when they made errors, even when their closer blew games, even when their ace pitcher gave up a homer to the worst hitter on the other team. You never heard “this is unacceptable.”

I’m talking about a bunch of young guys, age 18-21 led by a guy who had never played pro ball. And I would guess that none of those college guys were exactly mega-stars as HS players, or they would have been at Long Beach or Cal State Fullerton or Stanford or Southern Cal.

Contrast this to our Astros.

I just got around to watching last night’s game. Roy actually pitched an ace game – 4 singles, a double, a “triple” and a homer and 5 Ks. He gave up a leadoff “triple” on a ball that Clank Lee misplayed (jogged after) and a sac-fly, and a single, then a homer to a rookie on a FB he unfortunately left in the middle of the plate. He got ALL of his run support from Michael Freaking Bourn – you know, the guy that fans now want off the team in favor of Proven Veteran Darin Erstad who hasn’t played center full time in 5 years. The Astros left men on base in every single inning except one – and Tejada weakly grounded out to end the 9th with bases loaded. And I won’t even get near Reggie Abercrombie getting doubled off second in the 8th – BAD baserunning. I got ONE word – sorry.

Everyone who reads this blog knows that I wasn’t a huge Phil Garner fan. But I give him full marks for his people skills – even last year, when the Organization wouldn’t allow him to play Luke Scott full time – informing that Scott would platoon with Jason Lane, wouldn’t allow him to either bat Biggio lower in the order, ESPECIALLY after he got #3000 or to allow Burke to play second in away games, he managed to keep the team together, even though they were not exactly a good team.

Cooper seems to lack Garner’s ability as a team leader – not to speak of his actual in-game strategies. I personally think that things started going seriously downhill at the Arizona game in which he pulled Wesley Wright and sent in Borkowski to face pinch hitter Micah Owings and then, um, dissed Borkowski to the media. Borkowski is a mediocre at best reliever, but he was a very well liked guy (which matters) and it didn’t go over well.

There is obviously a lot of unhappiness with both Cooper as a manager and Dewey Robinson as a pitching coach – when Ace Roy Oswalt goes to Lance Berkman for pitching advice, there is a VERY serious problem. Lance has been doing pretty much all the talking to the media for the past few months, which is a good thing, as Lance is an EXTREMELY intelligent and thoughtful man (I never fell for that – gee, I’m just a dumb hick who majored at Rice University in sleeping) who knows how to talk without having to resort to Bull Durham cliches. Yet somehow, the Astros have been pushing the idea that Tejada is the real “leader” and that Pence is “the face of the Astros.”

I don’t know what has happened in players’ private interactions with either Cooper or Wade. And of course there is not any recording of any conversations that took place between Chacon, Cooper, Wade and Chacon’s agent. I Do have ears and eyes, and even I can tell that there was OBVIOUSLY very very hard feelings, bad blood – and this is in a clubhouse already in turmoil and disarray LONG before Chacon was relegated to the bullpen.

I want to make clear that I think it best that people, ALL people do their very best to use good manners at all times. I think that Cooper should not have sought to embarrass Chacon in front of his teammates, and Cooper most definitely did not need to come to see Chacon and request the pleasure of his private company at that particular time and in that particular place. Bad judgement. I think that Wade displayed extremely poor judgement screaming at and cursing Chacon in front of his teammates. Actually, I think Wade, as a senior executive, has no business screaming at and cursing ANY of his employees, whether in private or public. AND I think Chacon displayed extremely poor judgement responding with violence to Wade’s provocation. I do, however, understand WHY he lost his temper – but understanding is not the same as excusing.

And, to quote Derrek Jensen,
       “Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.”

HOW many people have said that when Cooper and Wade behaved as they did, that Chacon should have immediately and unquestioningly said yassuh and submitted to whatever. How many people have said that Chacon had NO right to basically anything.

There must be instant and unquestioned obedience in the military, true. However, baseball is a business, NOT the military. Therefore, the rules are different. I know that there are many people who honestly believe that baseball players should obediently and meekly tolerate any indignity perpetrated upon them by anyone in management because they play baseball, which is, they say, a “privilege.” No, it is NOT a privilege. It is NOT an honor. Major League baseball players play ML baseball because they have EARNED a position. It is a job EARNED by MERIT. It is not equivalent to the multiple numbers of talentless bimbettes who “sing” on videos who are there because they have large boobs, skinny bodies and makeup crews. Ballplayers are not paid money – ANY amount of money to be humiliated or abused, any more than any other human is.

And, need I remind you, that Chacon, unlike any of us, does not have the option of quitting and seeking employment elsewhere.

I don’t know what the fallout of this hideous episode will be, and there will be more far ranging consequences than Chacon possibly banned from baseball forever. I know that Ed Wade has been looking into trades for all players not named Hunter Pence. I wonder if – and worry that the Chacon episode will cause any decent FA to cross Houston off their lists. Anyone who thinks that other ballplayers will have no sympathy with Chacon and will not ask him what happened are sadly mistaken. I wonder if Roy and Lance have privately demanded trades.

I know that a lot of people are demanding that the Astros get rid of basically every guy on the team except for Pence and “rebuild.” I wonder how many people understand that a team full of minor leaguers and rookies is not going to perform well, especially with someone like Cecil Cooper as manager.

I would be surprised if either Cooper or Wade is fired/reprimanded over this – after all, Chacon is a convenient scapegoat. But they had better come up with some reason why there is a poisonous atmosphere in the clubhouse AFTER Chacon is long gone.

Like that old song goes, he didn’t start the fire…
By the way, click here and here to read what Philly fans are saying. I can’t get any of the old Phillyburbs.com articles to come up, sorry…
My favorite comment:
           “we need ed alive and stable, he already gave us our closer, here’s to him being convinced to give us roy oswalt too”

/25/08: Breaking News – Chacon “Asks” For Trade, Gets Suspended

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Well, I’m not even a little itsy bitsy bit surprised that Chacon, who made it MORE than clear he was NOT happy about being removed from the rotation, informed the media that he and his agent had demanded a trade, or if he couldn’t be traded, his release. Chacon is right that a whole lot of other teams need starters. Even #5 guys.

Chacon said that he specifically signed with the Astros for less money because he wanted to start. He thinks they are pulling a dirty trick (they are) by replacing him with Runelvys Hernandez, who, to put it mildly, has never been good, except for his first 74 innings which he threw as a 24 year old 6 years ago.

I would bet that Wade/Smith had planned to move him to the pen to up his trade value and he’s really handed it to them.

I bet a whole lot of fans are saying that he should just shut up and eat it and do whatever he’s told and be grateful. I don’t see it that way. Why should he “be grateful?” I actually admire the guy for sticking up for himself, I really do. He’s a FA, doesn’t need any more money, and would prefer to not be paid at all than be forced into a position he doesn’t want to be in. Actually, he’s not being paid while being suspended – will be interesting to see if the Astros insist on keeping him on the suspended list all year just to get even with him. I wonder if he could then retire and unretire. Will be interesting to see what happens…

Drayton McLane does NOT like being defied…

Stats question of the day:
1 – Name all the Astros hitters with a positive RCAA – I’ll give you one – Lance Berkman, who leads the NL with 47.

And speaking of people who Drayton McLane/Tal Smith don’t like…
2 – Which ballplayer has the highest OPS – Luke Scott, Carlos Lee or Hunter Pence? Which of those 3 has the highest pitches/PA? Who has the fewest K/PA and the greatest BB/PA? Which of the 3 has the highest RCAA? Who has the fewest GIDP?

What else???

Well, we all know that Barry Lamar Bonds is being blacklisted. His agent has said that Barry Lamar will pay for minimum salary and will, in fact, donate it all for tickets for children. His agent can’t get his phone calls returned…

And last but not least,
congrats to the Fresno State Bulldogs, the underest of underdogs of all time for winning the College World Series.

6/25/08: Lance Rediscovers His Stroke To Help Moehler Beat Rangers

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Well, I got to be the first to say that I never thought Brian Moehler would turn out to be a more reliable starting pitcher than Roy Oswalt. He had another excellent outing – giving up 5 hits, 2 BB, 1 run, and 2 GIDP. I had a bad feeling when he started out – a double off the LF bullpen, then a fly to deep center, then a single – translation – pitches in the middle of the plate, but then Josh Hamilton helpfully GIDP. After that, Moehler had a 1,2,3 2nd and 3rd, a walk and another GIDP in the 4th, a 1,2,3 5th, then he tired in the 6th, giving up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before escaping.

In the 7th, with one out and a man on second and several leftys coming up, Coop pulled Moehler, who sent in Wesley Wright, who gave up a walk, but got the outs without allowing a run. And he got Milton Bradley out, too – yes, the best hitter in the AL this year not named A-Rod.

Brocail came in to work the 8th – he got 2 outs, then gave up a walk and a single, so he pulled Byrd and sent in Valverde to face Marlon Byrd, who Kd. In the 9th, he walked Salty, then sent a FB down the middle of the plate thigh high and Vasquez hit it just over the RF fence. He then struck out the last 2 guys.

I think they both Brocail and Valverde are looking a bit tired, especially Brocail, who is, after all 41 years old. Both of them threw more pitches out of the zone than in it – and yeah, Brocail got beat the other night because a couple of guys got hits on balls.

sigh

I hope Coop isn’t gonna pull a Ned Yost with Brocail and totally wear him out until he’s useless, as Yost did to Turnbow last year. Geary needs to be used more and hopefully, Chacon won’t be, um, too sulky to use too.

And I also thought that Hurley did a good job too – 6 hits, 3 BB, one CS (even though the ump was wrong) and 2 ER/6 IP. Watch the Rangers trade him for some old guy like Brett Tomko or something…

- By the way, McTaggart reports that Cassel has missed his last 3 starts with a sore back.

6/24/2008: Time To Give The Rangers The Boot

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Yes, I know. I think I’m just sooooooo punny.

First, still no idea who is going to get cut on Thursday when Runelvys Hernandez (and yeah, we FINALLY got a REAL Fat Elvys) comes up, although I STILL suspect it is Abercrombie.
Second, Kaz Matsui, unsurprisingly, has some sort of hamstring something or other. Remember, when he was signed, I said – several times – that the most games he had ever played in a season was 114 and he had been injured and out on the DL every single year since he came to the ML? Not sure if he will be playing tonight, but Loretta is not too bad at second.

OK, here are the matchups. No, their pitchers are not aces. Unfortunately, Milton Bradley, who, by the way, has the most RCAA in the AL – 36 to Hamilton’s 24, is available to play this series. Peachy.

Here are the matchups:
Tuesday: Brian Moehler, RHP vs Eric Hurley, RHP
Moehler, this year, is 3-3 in 8 GS with a 3.89 ERA over 44 IP (5.2 IP/GS) – 45 H, 8 HR, 12 BB, 27 K: 1.30 WHIP, .262 BAA.
Brian, historically, has been a lousy pitcher at the Box – over 68.2 IP – 5.37 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and a .289 BAA. This is as reliever AND starter. This year, he’s had 4 starts at the Box: 3 ER/5 IP; 2 ER/6 IP; 0 ER/7 IP and 7 ER/4.2 IP (his ONLY bad start this year.)

Eric Hurley, age 23, was the Rangers’ first round pick in 2004 (yall notice we don’t have any first or second or third rounders WE picked in any draft except for Berkman and Pence) out of HS. He has started 100 games in the minors and is 33-30 over 573.1 IP – 8.18 H/9; 1.18 HR/9; 3.08 BB/9; 8.35 K/9: 4.02 ERA; 1.25 WHIP. These numbers are a leeeetle deceptive bcause his AAA numbers are significantly higher than his lower minors numbers. In AAA, he started 26 games over 148 IP: 96 R/84 ER, 28 HR, 57 BB, 131 K: 5.10 ERA, 1.41 WHIP; 1.70 HR/9; 7.97 K/9.
He was called up on June 12 and has pitched 2 games, has 2 ND, gave up 4 ER/6 against the Royals and 2 ER/5 IP against the Braves. Over 11 IP, he has given up 11 H, 3 HR, 2 BB, 8 K.

Wednesday: Roy Oswalt, RHP vs Scott Feldman, RHP

Roy has FINALLY gotten his ERA under 5 for the first time this YEAR. Hard to believe I’m actually writing those words with almost half the season gone. Over his last 5 starts, he’s had only 1 bad start, and that was against the Yecchs, and let us say, he was NOT helped by his defense. But anyway, he seems to be locating his FB and youneverknow whether or not the curve, slider or changeup will work. But I guess he’s been listening to his new pitching coach Lance Berkman and throwing a LOT more strikes and nibbling a LOT less.
This year, he’s 6-7 in 16 GS: over 102.1 IP (6.1 IP/GS): 119 H, 62R/55 ER, 17, 27, 80: 4.84 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .287 BAA.
Lifetime vs the Rangers: 4-4 in 10 GS over 69.2 IP – 4.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .290 BAA

Scott Feldman, age 25, RHP, was picked in the 30th round by the Rangers in 2003 out of JUCO (and, by the way, picked in the 41st round by the Astros in the 02 draft.) He spent 2 years in the Rookie league throwing a TOTAL of 13.1 innings, the next year threw 9 scoreless innings at high A, then was advanced to AA where he was a reliever and closer, thrwing 61 innings over 46 games with a 2.36 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.

I am NOT making this up. You have a 30th round draft pick who throws 13 innings over 2 YEARS in the rookie league, 9 innings in high A then goes to AA and excells. We sure as heck do NOT see this in the Astros Organization, where they seem to firmly believe at having draftees spend an entire year at LEAST at each level – with darn few exceptions.
Anyway, to continue, he†was called up for a cup of coffee as a reliever in 05, threw 9 innings over 8 games and gave up 4 hits and 1 ER.

He started 06 in AAA, relieved in 23 games, had a 1.98 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP, then was called up and threw 41.1 innings over 36 games with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP (yeah, the majors a LOT tougher than AAA, a little point which seems to escape a WHOLE lot of fans.) But it sure didn’t escape Feldman and he spent 07 bouncing back and forth between AAA and MLB, as he had trouble adjusting to ML hitters adjusting to him and he threw 39 innings over 29 games, with a career high 5.77 ERA and 1.95 WHIP.
After a minor league career as a reliever, the Rangers this year decided to convert Feldman to a starter and he spent the first couple of weeks in AA – he started 2 games, went 6.1 innings in each, giving up 6 ER. He was called up at the end of April, has started 10 games and relieved in 2 over 68.1 IP – 64 H, 8 HR, 22 BB, 34 K: a .248 BAA and a .726 OPS against: as a starter his ERA is 4.33 and he’s averaging a little over 6 IP/GS.

A 30th rounder, age 25. In case you are curious, the Rangers’ first rounder that year was lefty John Danks, now the White Sox #2 starter because he was tossed in favor of Brandon McCarthy, now on the 60 day DL, who threw 101 sub par innings for the Rangers last year. That Organization sure has a TERRIBLE track record on trading away good pitchers for bad – remember the Adrian Gonzalez + Chris Young for 2 suckage months of Adam Eaton and Okinori Otsuka. If it wasn’t the Rangers and Padres, it would have to be near the top of terrible trades over the past 25 years list…

Thursday: Wandy Rodriguez, LHP vs Kevin Millwood, RHP
Wandy this year: lead the Astros is RSAA with 11. You ever think you’d read THAT?
He’s 2-3 in 9 GS: 51.1 IP – 47 H, 5 HR, 16 BB, 42K: 2.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and a .235 BAA
lifetime vs the Rangers, he’s 2-0 in 2 GS over 11.1 IP – 6 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 10 K.
——
Kevin Millwood, hellaciously expensive RHP, age 33.
He’s supposed to be the ace, and in the 3 years he’s been pitching for the Rangers, he’s had a 109, 87 and 89 ERA+ over 215, 172 and 80 innings. Meh.
This year, he’s 5-3 in 14 GS over 80 IP (not that in May, he only appeared in 3 games – and in 2 of those, he pitched 3 and 0.1 innings, then went on the DL, coming back on May 30) He’s pitched 5 games since May 30, going 3-0 over 32 IP – 37 H, 15 ER, 4 HR, 10 BB, 25 K: 4.22 ERA, 1.47 WHIP.
He likey pitching at the Box – he’s 4-0 in 5 GS: over 34.1 IP, he has 25 H, 2 HR, 6 BB, 29K: 1.83 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a .203 BAA
Astros vs Millwood: Loretta is 12/34 with 2 doubles and a homer: Blum is 6/25 with a double and 2 HR: Berkman is 6/22 with a double and a homer: Wiggy is 7/22 with 4 doubles: Miggy is 3/19 with a double and a homer: Ausmus is 4/13: Erstad is 2/9 with 2 doubles: Kaz is 3/9 with 2 doubles.

Looks like he’s a guy who throws strikes and the ones that are hittable are HIT.
If any of all yall want to know why, besides the price tag, that Drayton didn’t sign Millwood before the 06 season to augment Pettitte and Oswalt, I give you 2 words – Scott + Boras…
And speaking of Drayton, any guesses as to whether or not he’ll have the AC on tonight?

6/24/08:Why NL Baseball ROOLZ!!!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

As all yall know, I believe the DH is to baseball as a plastic doll is to loving intimate relations.
But too many people care only for batting average, hating the sac-bunt, sneering at ballplayers who are defensive geniuses unless they hit .300. And, of course, since pitchers don’t hit all through high school, college and the low minors, it’s pretty hard for them to suddenly hit like Berkman when they hit the majors, even those pitchers who are good hitters and WANT to hit.

And I’m thinking about this, watching and re-watching the video of an AL pitcher, Felix Hernandez, hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana. Pitchers hitting homers are absolutely the best when they hit them off of Cy Young winners. But hey, pitchers hitting unexpected homers off of ANY ML pitcher is kewl. Sometimes even if the pitcher is an Astros pitcher.

Favorite pitchers hitting AB I can think of offhand:
1 – Roy Oswalt hitting his first career homer off Shawn Chacon 2 years ago
2 – Some 38 year old Korean lefty relief pitcher whose name I can never remember coming to bat against Randy Johnson (in one of those Mets vs Yankees contests that get the Bud Selig and the networks as excited as a 13 year old boy seeing his first nekkid female) and then McCarver saying contemptuously that this was the most unfair contest evah and why the DH was so WONderful and then that anonymous lefty, hitting for the first time in 15 years, hitting a triple off the Unit.
3 – Roger Clemens driving in the go ahead, winning and ONLY runs in his 4th start for the Astros
4 – Dontrelle Willis hitting a homer 440′ into the upper decks in right here at the Box
5 – Micah Owings hitting the game winning homer off Borkowski right after Coop pulled Wesley Wright AFTER Owings was announced as PH – and THEN screaming about how terrible it was that a pitcher should give up a homer to some freaking PITCHER. So either it happened to be pure coincidence that Coop happened to pull Wesley for another pitcher to pitch to a pinch hitting PITCHER, or Coop doesn’t think Wesley can get a pitcher out.
6 – ANY hit that ANY pitcher gets with 2 out and especially ANY hit that ANY pitcher gets with 2 outs and men on base.

- and by the way,
Right along with Tim McCarver for saying dumb stuff about hitting pitchers, I give equal marks to all the moron reporters who are covering AL teams who are bleating about how WONderful it is that fewer homers are now being hit (HAS to be because of the sudden absence of steroids between last year and this year) and how baseball is fortunately getting rid of home run hitters so that we are now going back to The Way The Game Is Supposed To Be Played.

Hello you brain dead morons. The DH was NOT included in “The Way The Game Is Supposed To Be Played.” Pitchers hit until 1973. And the grossly inferior AL had to do SOMEthing to come up with some stupid gimmick to bolster its sagging attendence caused by years of stubborn insistence of waaaay too many AL teams to sign players who had the misfortune to look like a Negro…

6/22/08: Man Bites Dog: Backe Beats Kazmir

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Husband and I went to an out of town wedding last night, and I come back to find that the Astros lost when they should have won and won when they should have lost…

Today, Brandon Backe decided that it is better to walk a guy than throw him something good to hit and really, his only mistake was a FB up to Evan Longoria (first rounder in the 06 draft, brought up in mid-May, has 12 homers already, is NOW age 22 – unlike anyone in the Astros system, you know what I’m sayin…) What is really amazing is that Brandon only threw 85 pitches over 6.2 innings AND this includes 4 walks. What is the absolutely most incredibly amazing is that the Astros struck out TWELVE times, had only 6 hits and 4 walks and they weren’t able, as usual to manufacture any runs except for a solo homer and a 2 run homer. And this time, the bullpen held.

It’s so funny – this team was supposed to be hitting 5-6 runs a game. Here in June, over 19 games, this team has scored 66 runs (3.47 runs/game) and given up 100. Of course, the problem is that not enough hitting has been done with men on base…

Take the Saturday untelevised game: Lance Berkman plays small ball – advances to second on a swinging K and an error, then steals third, then comes home on a grounder to give the Astros the go-ahead run in the 8th. Then, in the 9th, out comes our old friend Dan Wheeler, the guy with the 1.96 ERA in the AL – meaning facing Yankee and Red Sox lineups, and gets Ausmus and Bourn – oh, all yall wanted pinch hitters. Like WHO??? And then in comes Broakey (which is what Milo keeps calling him – one of the many reasons I hope HOPE Milo retires at the end of the year) and Cliff Floyd singles on an outside FB, Hinske singles on another FB waaay outside the strike zone (I should mention here that Brocail was all OVAH the place with his FB) and then on an 0-2 count, hits Navarro with an inside FB. Then Gabe Gross, Astros killer, doubles on a soft liner inside the LF line that Erstad can’t get to (so we can’t blame Carlos this time) and there goes the ball game. And yeah, there was some bad luck there – but Brocail was NOT locating very well.

But then again, let me run through a few points on the game – some bad luck, some bad swings:
First inning, 2 on 2 out, Carlos Lee hits a ball to deep center which Upton makes a GREAT running catch on. 4th inning, Carlos homers – wrong inning, unfortunately, then Blum singles and Pence strands him. The Rays tie it on a double, then a Carl Crawford triple – and of course there is no tape, so I have no idea whether or not Bourn mis-played that ball or not. But then in the 5th Ruggiano wins a 12 pitch at bat with Wandy and sends it to left – can’t tell if that would have been into the Crawford Boxes of just off the scoreboard at home, but hey, what can you do.  In the 6th, Wandy got 2 out while loading the bases with 2 soft singles and a walk, and Geary came in and got the third out.

Have all yall noticed I haven’t been talking about the Astros hitting? Well, it’s because they were going down 1,2,3 in every inning except for the 4th. Now here we are in the 7th – Lee singles, Blum doubles, no outs. Pence lines out, Erstad IBB, Loretta walks in the tying run. Bases loaded one out. Bourn strikes out swinging on 2 curves and Kaz flies out. And there, my friends, is the story of the problems with the 08 Astros since June 1 – when they DO get runners on, they don’t get runners IN (not to mention all the GIDPs and the CS.)

AND the bullpen has been blowing the few leads this team has had. So let’s take a look at Brocail: He’s appeared in 37 of the 75 games this year, pitched 37.2 innings. In April, he appeared 15 times, gave up 5 runs†over 2 of them – totalled 15 hits, 2 BB – 15.2 innings, 2.87 ERA. In May, he appeared 14 times over 14.1 innings – 11 H, 3 BB, 4 ER. In June, he had 4 perfect innings in 4 appearances until June 13 – He gave up the game losing homer. On June 17, he gave up the game losing 2 runs. On June 18th, he pitched a 1 single, scoreless 9th. June 20, he threw 1 pitch and got out of the inning. June 21, he gave up 3 hits, 2 ER and lost the game. Is he tired? hurt?

Maybe this is why – or, at least ONE reason why Chacon is being sent to the bullpen. He has stated in absolutely NO uncertain terms that he is, um, not happy about that. The Astros are calling up – NOT Jack Cassel and his 6-1 2.05 ERA (because Coop OBVIOUSLY hates him – maybe Dewey does too, who knows), but Runelvys Hernandez and his 3.65 ERA. Runelvys, by the way, has a career major league ERA 5.38, WHIP 1.58, 1.18 HR/9, 3.66 BB/9, 4.18 K/9. And he’s being sent in to face the Red Sox.

Peachy.

The Red Sox win by getting pitchers to not throw strikes, getting ahead in the count, then hammering strikes. You know, what the Astros never do. But hey, youneverknow – it is baseball and if the Astros can knock out Scott Kazmir in the 6th inning after 110 pitches, maybe ol Runelvys will throw low unhittable strikes.

Of course, Coop has not yet announced who will be sent down/DFA when Hernandez comes up. Here are the choices:
Backe, Brocail, Byrdak, Chacon, Geary, Moehler, Oswalt, Rodriguez, Sampson, Villareal, Valverde, Wright

Let’s eliminate the obvious (Backe, Brocail, Byrdak, Oswalt, Rodriguez, Valverde, Wright)
That leaves Chacon (who can refuse an assignment to the minors and I would be shocked beyond belief if he didn’t choose to be released instead), Moehler (I doubt it – he’s had only one BAD start and can be counted on for 5-6 IP with 3-4 ER given up), Sampson (I wouldn’t be surprised – and if he goes down, I would bet he never gets back up until Sept, unless someone is hurt) and Villareal (who is the one who SHOULD go, but he also can refuse an assignment to the minors, so we’ll see.)

They could, of course, send down Reggie Abercrombie and be short a bat. Against the Rangers – well, it ain’t their pitchers who are scary. Against the Red Sox – well, don’t guess it matters real too much because neother Reggie Abercrombie nor any other position player in the Astros sorry ass farm is going to do anything with them.

AND, last but not least, before we head off to Dallas – which team has more sac-bunts, the Rangers or Astros? (hint – one has 19, the other has 26…)