Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving At The Grays – Or Why Females Should Be GMs

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

I love Thanksgiving. Always have.

To me, it is the most American holiday there is – every one of us of every skin color, religion and ethnic background, the smart, the not quite as smart, the educated, the uneducated, the rich, the not as rich – ALL of us, no matter what our grumbles, can all give thanks that we live here in America and not somewhere else. That no matter how bad we think we have it, it is still better than anywhere else.

This particular holiday is unique to America, as America is unique to every other country in the world. This particular celebration has lasted almost 400 years, sandwiched between ancient (to most all peoples all over the northern hemisphere) celebrations All Hallow’s eve, the last (probable) Day of Harvest and the Winter Solstice (AKA Christmas.)

I like that we can give thanks for our own particular family and friends as well as all the others in our 300 something million strong American family, people we don’t even know. And I especially like this particular day because it is the day that Husband and Me decided We were meant to be (9 years ago today.)

Somehow, our little celebration has grown into a too large celebration with more people than the house can handle.

This year:

My Mama and Daddy
Husband’s Mama and her male companion
2 of my brothers (no females with them)
2 of my brothers with female companions (and their 4 kids)
2 of my cousins (and their 3 kids)
His brother and gf
His sister (and her 3 kids)
His other brother

Our 3 kidz, my niece
2 kids we planned on sitting and 3 more we didn’t (but that is OK because one of those kids is a 2 month old baby, which makes Husband happy. He likes babies. He’d REALLY like it if there was a baby around here for keeps, you feelin me here, but until he gets his own self pregnant, he out of luck…)

But I digress.

All yall wonder, of course, how on EARTH we fit that many people into our smallish house. We don’t. We have tables in the back yard. Men’s bathroom in the garage and women’s bathroom – they get to use the kids’.

And of course, all yall wondering about the menu. Too much food, naturally.

For the Dogsss – (cooked) turkey gizzards, heart and liver PLUS one bone each (beef)

For the kidz – turkey ala king on biscuits, roasted chicken legs, mac-n-cheese, green peas, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dressing & gravy, cranberry sauce. and NO dessert until EVERYONE’S dinner is OVAH. Yeh, I know. I’m mean. Trick is to feed the kidz about 15 minutes BEFORE the rest of the adults get started. And this way, you can make sure the 10 year old doesn’t give the 2 year old something she got no business eating. Anyway, you can TRY to make sure. And you make sure the kidz still eating when adults sit down or they over buggin you every single minute. Well, no matter HOW you do it, they over buggin you every single minute.

For the adults:

Cream of mushroom soup, potato leek soup, vegetable beef soup
Turkey, ham, meatballs (asian, swedish, italian)
dressing, shrimp grits, sweet potatoes, cheese potatoes, biscuits, cranberry sauce (homemade by me so it is GOOD) cornbread
green beans, green peas, asparagus, sweet corn
baked cinnamon sugar apples
pecan pie, pumpkin pie (made by me from actual pumpkins), peach pie

and whatever Husband’s mother’s male companion brings to make it up to me for being a **** and slinking out the door without helping with the cleanup because he just KNOW his male parts will shrivel to smallern a new born baby boy and there will be a flashing neon sign on his forehead to tell the entire world iffn he picks up a dirty dish and besides, he can’t bear to miss any of the football game, not sure which one, they all look alike to me.

Which reminds me – he once said to me – WHY you watchin all that baseball? All they do is throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball and run. So I retorted – WHY you watchin all that football? All they do is throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the other guy and run away…

But I digress.

So things went as well as could be expected – you come to our House, you understand the Family Tradition Rules:

Before eating, we say Grace (and yeah, the kidz gotta draw straws to see who gets to do it because taking turns every year does NOT work. Actually, absolutely nothing is fairrrrrrr, is it?) and then while Mama is carving the Turkey (beware of chix with knives, as my Daddy sez…) we go round the table and each person says at least one thing they are Thankful for.

After eating, females go in living room and talk, males go in kitchen and clean while I bake the pumpkin pie (and make SURE Husband doesn’t dip into the apples and peach pie whilst my back is turned. Daddy always tries to sneak the pecans off the top of the pecan pie. Brothers and BIL are equal opportunity. It is something about men, I guess – I can stuff em until food coming out their mouths, and they STILL want to sneak a bite of forbidden dessert… Besides, I figure that after I cook for 4 days, I get to have a little enjoyment watching males clean up and put stuff away. And yeh, you betcha the rest of the grrrls start watching from the doorway and, uh, cheering – yeh, that’s the word. Cheering. Family Tradition sez other females are NOT allowed in my kitchen (or my bedroom/bathroom neither – grrls bad to poke their noses where they don’t belong, you know what I’m talkin about…)

Brother the Deuce’s newest female companion (dear Lord, why can’t that man ever find someone to bring to my house who I don’t instantly HATE) had herself a little bit (ahem) of trouble following the rules – like coming into the kitchen TWICE before dinner and bothering me, which is really not the best of ideas (picture her as umpire Mike Winter, um, explaining to Milton Bradley (me) that Milton is not exactly a prince of a man – you feelin me here…) and she was more than a little miffed when she found the door to our bedroom/bathroom locked.

But besides that, things went as reasonably well as you can expect with that many human beings in 1 small area who are not completely distracted by something else. You do notice that alcohol is not allowed on the premises and this significantly helps matters.
.
And I know that now that all yall read through all that, you are asking – but WHAT does that have to do with BASEBALL??? This is a BASEBALL blog, not a chick chat blog.

Well, you see, tomorrow is Holy Friday, All Females Day. It’s OUR Day, the day when we leave males to work/lie in a blob on the couch, watching kidz and football while us grrrrls go to all the stores, see what there is, try on all kinds of shoes we can’t afford just because it is what grrrls do, check out stuff on sale, try to calculate if we should buy now or wait for a little while see if the price goes down, look at the seriously On Sale stuff and wonder what exactly is wrong with it – AND also, gossip. I mean, try to understand our males, kids, parents, coworkers, world – intaleckshul stuff, ya know.

And THIS is exactly what all the baseball GMs are doing right now. There are checking out what everyone else got, wondering how good/bad it is, looking at stuff that is overpriced, underpriced, on sale, not on sale and wondering if there is really anything they HAVE to have – like those Manolo Blahnik shoes (translation – Manny Ramirez/CC Sabathia/Mark Texiera) even if they DO cost too darn much. Wondering what will go on sale if they wait, IF they wait, will there be anything left, wondering if there will be savings at all. And of course, they all talktalktalkin bout who/what the other guy has that he might could not want as much as he wants something else.

Baseball, shopping – not so different. Which is why females should be GMs.

11/27/08: Respecting The Rickey

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Long before there was MannyBManny, there was RickeyBRickey. He was always unashamedly his own self, never afraid to explain – um, let’s say – it ain’t braggin iffn you can do it.

Rickey is one of my all time favorite players, even though he never played for the Astros, and I only saw the few games he played live when the Padres played the Astros.

And, you know, I did name one of my very first dogs Rickey Dog. He was a stray, was probably part greyhound or wolfhound – long and lean, smart, and getting caught at doing something wasn’t gonna stop him from doing exactly that when my back was turned again…

But anyhow, I happened on this blog entry by “67Marquez” – no idea if this person is a he or she, but the entry is one of my all time favorite blog posts not written by John Brattain or Joe Posnanski.

Check it out.

And Happy Thanksgiving from the Grays.

Who will be hosting too many people, as usual, with too many relatives/friends dropping by later in the afternoon. But this will be made up for with the unbelieveably beautiful sight of lots of males in my kitchen cleaning up the mess!!!!!!

And of course, Friday being the American Woman’s Highest Holy Day, I will be out all day long checking out shoes and other necessities of female life while Husband and various males do incredibly boring stuff like watch football and clean up the mess.

And yeah, in spite of all the hungry males, there will STILL be too many leftovers come Monday morning.

Anyone besides me eager for some baseball NEWS instead of rumors???!!!

Astros Prospects For 2009

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I haven’t been looking forward to this.

sigh

The Astros, as usual, have one of the 3 worst farm systems and they have had for the past 5 years. Remember that there is an age cutoff for a guy to be a “prospect” at each level – I don’t know exactly what numbers are used. However, I know that no guy over 25 can be called a prospect. Not sure why.

Kevin Goldstein of BP released his rankings of the top 10. And it ain’t pretty. 6 of them were from the 08 draft. I can’t re-print the article because of their copywrite, but I can tell you the list:

Four-Star Prospects
1. Jason Castro, C – age 22 – (1st round 2008) So far, so good – he’ll start in high A in the Spring. J.R. Towles had better come out hitting like Mike Piazza 1999 if he ever wants to sniff the bigs again is all I can say.

Three-Star Prospects
2. Brian Bogusevic, CF – age 25 - (1st round 2005) – the Astros wasted 3 years of this guy’s career trying to turn him into a pitcher and they have finally Rick Ankieled him. He hits for average, not power, but youneverknow. Not sure what they’ll do with him if Michael Bourn hits well. He can’t run/field like Bourn, although he has a better arm, as Bourn is only a little better than Juan Pierre with the arm.
3. Jordan Lyles, RHP – age 19 - (1st round 08). Me, I’d kind of like to see a pitcher pitch above rookie ball before calling him a top prospect. Not that pitchers can’t be great at age 19 – see Bob Feller and Dwight Gooden.
4. Bud Norris, RHP  – will be 24 – (6th round 06) – was hurt for half of last year with elbow problems, and also because he’s only (supposedly) 6′ they are thinking of wasting him in the bullpen. Like we got all these starters sitting around with nowheres to pitch…
5. Chris Johnson, 3B – age 24 - (4th round 06 – interestingly enough, Goldstein says that Johnson is a good fielder. We’ll see. As for me, I’d like to see him hit AAA pitching.)
6. Ross Seaton, RHP, age 19 - (3rd round 08 – one of the very few guys Drayton has coughed up $$$ to sign. Wonder how Heck talked him into it…)

Two-Star Prospects
7. Samuel Gervacio, RHP – will be age 24, drafted in 02 out of the DR. Reliever who has trouble getting leftys out. At least so far…
8. Drew Sutton, 2B – (will be 25, 15th round 2004). Wonder if he could play short…
9. Felipe Paulino, RHP – age 25, drafted from the DR in 01. I guess the reason he is highly regarded is because he throws hard. Whoopie doo. Tells you a lot about how bad this Organization is when they rank a guy who didn’t throw at all last year because of a bad arm and he wasn’t especially good even BEFORE that.
10. Chia-Jen Lo, RHP – just signed out of Taiwan – was on their Olympic team. Let me put it this way – after reading what was written, I can’t understand how this guy made ANY prospect list. That is NOT good.
11. Jay Austin, CF – age 18, 2nd round, 2008. It’s not that you can’t be great at age 18-19 (see Mickey Mantle, Griffey Jr, Babe Ruth, but Jay ain’t all that. If it wasn’t the Astros, he wouldn’t have made the list. Poor ol Kev he had to find SOMEbody to put on these lists.)

And there you have it. Kevin Goldstein used to work for Baseball America, and their list will be released on Dec 16.

In other Astros news, picked up minor league lefty pitcher Tyler Lumsden, age 25, who had been waived by the Royals. I’m not holding my breath here…

In more general news,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Things will be insane at the Gray House, as usual. Too many people and too much food, but the beautiful sight of males cleaning up the mess makes it all worth while.

Free Agents Aren’t Free Because A Well Paid Slave Is Still A Slave

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

 ”A well paid slave is STILL a slave” was Curt Flood’s response to being told he should be grateful that his employer still wanted him and was willing to pay him a great deal of money. Curt, you see, was this uppity youknowwhat who came up with the outrageous idea that a human being who is ostensible a free citizen should be free to enter into a contract with any employer of his choosing. Well, he might not have been the very first baseball player to think that particular thought, but he certainly was the first to put his career and his life on the line for his beliefs.

One of the most courageous Americans (not in military service or a firefighter or on the police) I know of. Very few people will forfeit their lives, careers and huge amounts of money to defend their principles. Curt Flood did just exactly that. And he laid the groundwork for the freedom for the rest of baseball players when an arbitrator ruled against the reserve clause in the Messersmith/McNally case 5 years later.

It is amazing to me, after 30 YEARS of free agency – well, free agency after a man has worked between 6 and 7 years – that is YEARS for any employer who chooses to employ HIM, that so many baseball writers and fans believe that BECAUSE a baseball player (above AA) earns more than average American males without a college degree, that he should be deprived of any right during his entire employment by MLB/MILB, no matter how many years that should be, to determine his place of employment. EVER. Free agency has “ruined” baseball, they cry. (Not sure how, but it still has…)

This year, free agent starting pitchers are waiting for CC Sabathia to sign so that he can “set the market.” This means that he is being pressured to sign with the highest bidder, no matter who that is, even if he does NOT want to play/live there. This is “free” like HOW?

Of course, it isn’t.

I suppose it would be one thing if CC was setting a precedent, like Curt Flood, but he’s not. He’s the best, by far, available FA pitcher available this year. The other FA can’t begin to compare in terms of either youth or ability, so, in fact, he is actually NOT setting a market, as the others wouldn’t be paid as much as he would no matter WHAT he signed for.

CC has EARNED the right to choose his employer and to state the terms under which he would sign. Which means if he wanted a 1 year contract, that would be his right, even if it was with KC for 4 mill a year. It is not incumbent on him to forfeit his right to go anywhere but the highest bidder – it is NOT an auction.  

It is insulting and offensive to the players to say that they should just be grateful they get to play ML baseball at all and they should just take the highest offer and go and play and shut up, the greedy pigs! It is demeaning to insist that because they make a lot of money, they have no right to prefer any place in which to live/work. I’ve read someone who compared it to working at Burger King – after all, making a burger is making a burger and playing baseball is just playing baseball.

wrong

A ballplayer lives closely with 24 other guys for 8 months a year – why not live/work with guys he likes if he can? Also, he has to consider the effect of the team’s media coverage – and some guys do NOT like the spotlight – as well as the owner and manager. Some guys LIKE to be able to walk down the street without reporters and fans all over him no matter where he goes, no matter what he does. Some guys are not into chasing chicks/gambling (see Lance Berkman.) They don’t WANT the attention. They don’t LIKE the attention.  

And the free agent, after a minimum of 6 years with NO freedom has finally won his freedom and STILL so many fans believe that he should continue to have no rights because, what? He makes more money than they do?

Consider how they treat a player who has a no-trade clause who refuses to be traded anywhere for any amount of money. He wants to work/live in that particular city. He prefers that to perhaps having the chance of winning a championship elsewhere. WHY shouldn’t he have that right? It was agreed to by him AND the owner. And yet fans scream that he shouldn’t be able to interfere with the best interests of the team (in the owner’s opinion) by agreeing to go somewhere he doesn’t want to be – which the owner agreed to when he signed the contract in the FIRST place.

I would point out that that every working person besides baseball players, have the right to decide to choose a job based on more than just who will pay the most. And that many MANY people choose quality of life over a larger paycheck.

It also is not true that CC’s contract will somehow determine the contracts of all the other FA pitchers as none of them can match his youth AND excellence AND lack of fragility. CC’s contract will also not affect the majority of baseball players whatsoever, as most of them are either already playing out contracts or are still under team control.

I know that the Players’ Union has previously pressured players to take whatever offered contract has the highest value, as it does push up the value of the average salary. But this not only does not affect the other players take home pay, it also goes against the very princliples that Curt Flood sacrificed for – namely, that a man should be free to seek his employer and choose where he will work, just as any other person can. It would be dreadful if the Union were to finally close the circle of freedom and demand that any FA be forced against his will to HAVE to play for the highest bidder (think Daisuke Matsuzaka).

Curt Flood would roll over in his grave.

Because a highly paid slave is STILL a slave.

11/20/08: Trade Wiggy, Valverde Or Tejada?

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

I keep hoping for SOME sort of new news, but no such luck. The only lip flapping has been some of the writers horrified that other writers do not think that Ryan Howard was MVP ONLY because he hit more RBIs than anyone else and he had an .893 OPS on the pennant winning team only in September because the rest of the season doesn’t matter – he absolutely sucked the other 5 months, but hey, like, so? Why not rename the MVP – the guy the writers think makes the best story for “player of the month in September on one of the 4 winning teams.” Good grief. And, by the way, Andre Ethier AND MannyBManny seriously outplayed Howard in September – but hey, not as many RBIs because of teammate suckage, but teammates don’t matter.

But I digress.

Looks as if we are headed down a very very slippery slope into a severe recession/depression and McLane, as usual, is not raising the payroll. Oh yeah, there is some sort of the usual bull about how the payroll is really more like 100 mill instead of 90 mill, but some of us can add. Trouble is that the Astros are already starting with Berkman at 14.5 mill + Oswalt at 14 mill + Clank at 18.5 mill + Tejada at 13 mill + Kaz Matsui at 5.3 mill + Geoff Blum at 1.3 mill + Hawkins at 3.5 mill + Erstad at 1.75 mill = 71.85 mill and that means they have to have 17 more players for 20-30 mill.

If they do not trade Wiggy and Valverde, together earming about 10 mill this year, who will certainly earn raises of a good 3-4 mill each, it will mean needing 16 players for 10-12 mill. And let’s not forget Wandy, who is arb eligible for the first time and will earn at LEAST 3 mill. So that will be 15 guys for 10 mill. Oh yeah – Geoff Geary already has a guaranteed contract for 1.125 mill. So make that 14 guys for less than 10 mill.

And unless Drayton ups the payroll (yeah, surrrrrre) then SOMEone has got to go.

Tejada is the most expensive guy here. I know he hit .283, but unlike a whole lot of other Astros fans, I think that it is important to understand that he made very little of his opportunities to drive in runners – he came to bat with (if I am counting correctly) 704 men on base and he drove in only 57 of them (not counting 9 solo homers) AND he grounded into 32 DPs and and (if I went back and counted) I would bet twice that many FC. I keep reminding everyone that in 666 PA, he got on base with 6 HBP, 20 BB, 4 IBB, 125 singles, 38 doubles, 3 triples, 13 homers and 1 ROE. I might could add that he also got caught stealing 7 times with 7 SB, and complied a magnificient (-)27 RCAA, second last only to Michael Bourn. I will finally add that batting from the 3 hole (mostly) and the 5 hole, he created only 63 runs, 1 more than Adam Everett in 06 batting from the 8 hole behind Brad Ausmus.

It would be cheaper to keep Wiggy and play Tommy Manzella (just placed on the 40 man), an Adam Everett clone in AAA who will instantly earn the enmity of Astros fans by hitting like Michael Bourn. Because BA is all that matters. I should add, by the way, that Everett’s BA with RISP was around .280 his last 2 full years with the Astros, and Tejada’s last year was .237. I can’t think of any reason to keep Tejada instead of Wiggy, who created more runs and has more power and GIDP significantly less.

You might could talk about trade value – well, let’s be real, we certainly wouldn’t get much for Tejada, but even if we got a sack of baseballs, it would still provide 13 mill worth of salary relief, 7 or 8 of which could be spent on Wiggy and another 5 toward something we NEED, like a starter.

Wiggy would be more expensive per year than FA Casey Blake, but then again, it would only be for 1 year.

The most recent “rules” according to economics seem to be that (usually) the team who takes on salary doesn’t give up real too much in the way of top prospects. The other teams are NOT gonna give up cheap young major leaguers OR cheap young top prospects. Then again, the Astros really don’t have any, so any decent prospects would be good.

As for homegrown options for third? Well, there is Mark Saccomanno, but Ricky Bennett has made it plain that they would consider him ONLY in a pinch hitting role IF they even want him on the ML team. Guess his glove is on par with Mike Lamb. Or worse.

There is Chris Johnson, age 24, picked in the 4th round of the 06 draft whose minor league numbers are not exactly Evan Longoria/Ryan Braun – 517 OPS in Rookie Ball, 712 OPS at low A in 225 AB, then a .695 OPS at high A in 224 AB. Amazingly enough, he was promoted to AA (doesn’t say much for whoever’s place he took there in Corpus, does it) where he pounded the ball – .870 OPS in 330 AB, then back down to a .539 OPS in 101 AB at AAA. He doesn’t walk much (approximately 39 BB/500 AB) and he strikes out around 90 times/500 AB. He only hit for power in AA, not in the low minors or AAA. He made 23 errors in 84 games at AA. He sure nuff doesn’t seem ready for the majors to me.

Oh yeah. And please, Blum can NOT play full time.

As for trading Valverde, well, BEFORE we do, might could I ask

- to who? And seriously, what could we get for him? Please don’t waste your time explaining how the Mariners are gonna WANT to trade Beltre (not cheap) and King Felix for him – or something equally stupid.

- and speaking of who, WHO is then gonna close? There is NOBODY on the major league club or at AAA or at AA who is closer material. NOBODY.

This means that we would have to get someone in trade for Tejada or Wiggy who would be good enough to close. Unless we got lucky, no club is going to trade a good, top notch cheap young reliever for salary dumps. So as for me, I say NO to trading an essential top player who we can’t replace.

I know lots of Astros fans want Wandy off the team – and think he wouldn’t bring much because he’s terrible and sucks and has emotion or something. You would replace him with WHO?

Remembering, of course, that Drayton is NOT gonna sign Garland, Lowe, Burnett, Sabathia, Sheets (unless he signs a very low incentive type deal) because he doesn’t want to raise payroll – except for top ace Randy Wolf. And he isn’t gonna sign any other expensive FA or any Boras client.

Oh yeah – and please, Michael Bourn has like NO trade value, so let’s not talk about trading him for anything of value, let alone playing Pence in center and Bogusevic in right. And apparently, the Organization is in love with Pence and he isn’t up for trade.

Lance Berkman Comes In 5th On The 2008 MVP Ballot

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Albert Pujols won only his second MVP. He was most positively the most deserving player by a vast margin. I was really disgusted to see that he only received 18 or 30 first place ballots – 12 voted for Ryan Howard, an absolutely absurd choice as he wasn’t even the most valuable player on his team. Ryan had one good month in the entire YEAR – September, as his team was winning the NL East ahead of the fading Mets. He struck out 199 times and made 425 outs. He was also an execrable fielder and baserunner, unlike Uncle – who, by the way, had an even better September than Howard did, especially over the last 2 weeks.

This whole insistence that an MVP must be on a playoff team is a little weak, seeing as how NO player, no matter how great can alone bring a team into the playoffs – and, I have to remind everyone, Albert Pujols was THE reason his team contended for the 5 months that it did.

I most definitely DO have to wonder who was the supposedly knowledgeable baseball writer who put Uncle 7th on his ballot. Someone who actually believed there were 6 National Leaguers more valuable than Albert Pujols really has no business voting.

I was proud of Lance for placing 5th – and even though he DID have a better overall year than Howard, he had a dead bat in September when the Astros were pushing for the WC. I must note though, that he was the most reliable in the clutch – in close and late, his OPS was 1.270 – better, even, than Uncle. And his defense was almost as good. And he stole 18 bases, getting caught only 4 times – and this was at age 32.

Lance has been a full time ML ballplayer for 8 seasons, and has placed in the top 10 in MVP voting 5 times, including two 3rd place finishes. Jeff Bagwell had 6 top 10 finishes in 15 seasons, including a win and a second place. 

Lance is really an incredibly good baseball player. At least plenty of the BBWAA know who he is, even if BBTN doesn’t. But unfortunately, he was never greater than Barry Lamar and now he is not greater than Albert Pujols, much as I hate to admit it. Perhaps Uncle will have a down year, or break some harmless bone and Lance will just get to the head of the line anyway.

11/15/08: I Want My MLB

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

I hate the winter – like another famous Texan, I stare out the window and wait for spring so I can watch baseball…

Because all we Stros fans have is the Lukewarm Stove.

It was right about 5 years ago, after the end of the 03 season, that Billy Wagner famously remarked that Drayton McLane wasn’t willing to spend the money necessary to make the club winners, instead of settling for second.

“It’s going to be a tape job,” Wagner said after the (2003) season finale. “It’s not like we’re going out there and getting any marquee pitchers.”

And within a few days after the end of the WS, McLane traded Billy to Philly – for Zeke Astacio, who was incredibly, grossly overvalued, Brandon Duckworthless and Taylor Buchholz, another guy who didn’t tell management he was injured and got shipped off for Jason Worthless Jennings. (Anyone besides me notice that players not telling the management they were hurting injured occurred with unnecessary frequency over the past 5 years?)

Anyway, seems it is deja vu all over again. Crummy manager, team finished behind the Cubs, had a couple of great players and at the end of the year, seemed management was not willing to go out an acquire the players necessary to finish first, as they did in the old Larry Dierker days.

The farm wasn’t great at the end of 03, but it certainly wasn’t as completely empty as it currently is.

Drayton lucked into Andy Pettitte with a lowball offer, after the Yankees didn’t try hard enough to keep him, and then he hit the jackpot BIG time with Roger.

That kind of deja vu ain’t happening again. This year is gonna be, at best, another tape job. Randy Wolf/Mike Hampton are not 2003 Andy Pettitte by ANY stretch of the imagination, let alone Roger.

sigh 

The Marlins naturally got rid of any player who would be earning over a mill and unfortunately, the Astros didn’t seem to even bother to try to get any of these guys – Gregg, the closer (we could have traded Valverde for prospects) or Willingham, a decent and cheap OF or Scott Olsen, a very young but erratic lefty who does not fit the goody 2 shoes image of the Astros. But thing is – even if we didn’t keep him, we could have flipped him.

Now look at them GMs, that’s the way you do it
You work the cell phones on that MLB
That’s called trading, that’s the way you do it
Prospects for players and uh, um

oh yeah – we ain’t got no prospects because Drayton wouldn’t pay to get good ones or agree to offer arb. Nevermind…

Where was I? Oh yeah. Trades.

If they have no plan to give Towles another chance (and I don’t think they do, judging from what I’m hearing – hearing between the lines, that is) they certainly need someone to augment Quintero, who is terrible. I am always surprised that the same guys who wanted to throw Brad Ausmus out on his ear don’t sem to be saying anything about Quintero. I don’t get it at ALL.

Ignoring defense, Quintero’s lifetime OPS+ is 52 and his line is .230/.271/.304/.575 – he’s 28 years old and I seriously doubt he’ll be improving. He has 391 ABs and 16 BB and 17 GIDP. Last year, his OPS+ was 51 and Brad Ausmus’ was 60. And Brad was 39 years old. Actually, In even the past 10 years – with Brad being OLDER than Quintero, Brad didn’t have an OPS that low. And he had a better OBP every year as well as a better SLG – not that Brad was exactly Mr. Slugger.

I don’t want to sign Varitek (who is just Brad Ausmus except not as hot) or Ivan Rodriguez – they are Type As and Bor-ass clients as well. I’d rather sign David Ross, who is actually decent and was let go by the Reds for reasons I don’t get.

He’s another guy with a low BA (but if the Astros fans are happy with Quintero’s suckulosity, they best not complain about Ross, whose line is .222/.309/.435, which comes out to be a 90 OPS+ which is almost twice as good as Quintero’s. Plus which, he grounds into a LOT fewer DP.

11/13/08: Astros Re-sign LaTroy Hawkins And That Is It So Far

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

I keep waiting for something interesting to write about, but no luck.

Hawkins was resigned for 3.5 mill, a perfectly reasonable sum for a setup man. Dear Lord, I hope the intention of the Organization is NOT to trade Valverde for who knows what and let Hawkins close – for the simple reason that he just can’t.

The Astros don’t have anyone the Padres particularly want, I guess, and the Braves and Cubs keep refusing to offer any decent prospects, so I’m not sure that Peavy will be traded at all.

Randy Wolf, so I hear, has a good 6 clubs trying to sign him, and the Astros exclusive deadline is up Friday. He’s NOT this great pitcher, in spite of his short success in an Astros uni.

Today, Justice was writing that the Astros should give Pettitte, who has publically said he wants to pitch in New Yankee Stadium, a call. Just because they haven’t signed him YET doesn’t mean they won’t. As for all the hoohah about his departure after the 06 season, I VERY clearly remember him doing the Roger, hemming and hawing about well, he didn’t know if he wanted to come back or retire blahblahblah and the Carlos the Jackal debacle fresh in everyone’s minds… I would also remind everyone that Pettitte had some significant problems the last 2 months of the season and had to shut it down with shoulder pain at the end of September. Yeahyeahyeah I know all about the supposedly “inferior” league but I SERIOUSLY doubt his ERA is going to drop like a rock here. Plus which, Ausmus is gone and I don’t think Pettitte is going to go for Quintero/Towles/some backup.

I know a whole lot of people are still wanting Ben Sheets, who Tim Marchman thinks is worth 15 mill a year. But ida know bout that – it assumes that he is healthy and I’m not sure that is a particularly sensible assumption to make. There is a significant shortage of starting pitching, especially GOOD starting pitching (as usual) and I seriously doubt he would agree to an incentive contract, especially with the Yankees opening the checkbooks this year – if they DON’T get Sabathia, they gonna try to do their usual and sign everyone possible.

And speaking of everyone possible, what on EARTH is with the obsession with Jon Garland???

Besides him pitching 7 years straight without getting hurt?

Over the past 5 years, he’s thrown at least 32 starts and at least 196 innings. His ERAs were 4.89, 3.50, 4.51, 4.23, 4.90: ERA+ 97, 128, 105, 112, 91. Career 104 ERA+ and a 1.38 WHIP, 6.1 IP/GS; 

last year he had a career worst .303 BAA and .815 OPSA – and, mind, that was in the incredibly weak AL West. Garland is a low K (4.5/9), ave BB (3/9), high-ish HR (1.2/9) guy.

I suppose the idea is that his pitch to contact stuff would be great with the Astros great defense (I STILL can’t believe I’m writing that sentence) but I know he will most likely fetch a 5 year 15 mill contract and I find it tough to believe he wouldn’t get hurt. Plus which, he’s a Type A and we’d lose our first round pick next year.

I also SERIOUSLY doubt Drayton is going to raise payroll – after all, he’s decreased it since 05 while raising ticket prices twice.

I have a feeling that most of the FA will be signed later, rather than sooner this year, and that there won’t be many trades involving cheap young guys.

Which makes me say how sorry I am that the Astros were never in the running to get Olsen and Willingham from the Marlins, who dumped them for a utility guy and 2 not highly ranked prospects. Olsen, you see, is a head case who has been declared hopeless at age 24 by just about everyone. On the other hand, he’s a lefty pitcher who was quite good at age 22 and is still pretty cheap, even though not cheap enough for the Marlins, who want players who cost less than a mill each.

Ah well.

Albert Pujols Gets Bagwelled Out Of The 2008 Gold Glove

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Unbelieveable.

The Gold Gloves are voted on by the coaches and managers in the NL. Seems impossible to me that they didn’t seem to notice how unbelieveably good Uncle is. Not another 1B can begin to approach his range, footwork or glovework.

It’s not just my opinion – David Pinto (PMR), Chris Dial, Mitchel Lichtman (UZR), Bill James and John Dewan all agree on Uncle’s excellence.

I figured Adam Everett didn’t get no respect because his BA was too low and he was so good he almost never made Web Gem plays.

But Uncle has one of the highest BA in the league.

What’s the excuse?

You can’t say he doesn’t LOOK smooth or fluid or graceful, because he does.

Adrian Gonzalez, the winner, is built much more like Uncle than he is like Mark Grace or J.T. Snow, so it can’t be that.

Actually, I just don’t understand why Uncle gets so little props from the baseball reporters outside of St. Louis. I continuously hear about how Alex Rodriguez is one of the 5 best RH hitters of all times.

Fascinating.

Arod played his first full season at age 20 and the average of his OPS+ over his first 8 full seasons is 147.

Manny Ramirez played his first full season at age 22 and the average of his OPS+ over his first 8 full seasons is 155

Uncle played his first full season his first year, age 21, and the average of his OPS+ over his first full 8 seasons is 170.

And before I hear any stuff about Arod playing SS, as if that hinders his ability to hit, I want to remind everyone that Uncle spent his first 4 years playing different positions and having to learn 3rd, LF and first (he was originally a SS, in case anyone has forgtten that, and he was an excellent fielding 3B who was ONLY moved because Scott Rolen was acquired.)

Of course I think that reporters forgetting about Albert Pujols’ hitting abilities is East Coast Bias, but it certainly doesn’t explain the yearly lack of respect shown his hitting by MVP voters. Or the Gold Glove voters.

I know that in many years, there are, uh, ODD (ahem) votes for the GG – say, Bobby Abreu, Derek Jeter, Rafe Palmeiro (the year he played only 28 games), Nate McLouth, Steve Finley – but how on earth Uncle can be disregarded year after year is a mystery to me.

Unless he is deliberately being ignored because he isn’t “exciting” or screwing slutty starlets or something. Or perhaps he is (unknown to the rest of us) really disliked by the media ala Ted Williams. But hey, they HATED Barry Lamar and they didn’t refuse to vote for him for either the GG or for MVP. (Well, Barry did get screwed out of 2 MVPs. But hey, he got himself plenty more…)

Albert Pujols is THE best all around player in baseball and it isn’t close (trust me on this – I see the SOB 18 times a year at least and my eyes work just fine. Like Supreme Court Justice whatshisname said – greatness: I know it when I see it.)

Oh. And why Bagwelled?

Because Bagwell didn’t never get no respect neither – only 1 GG and he should have been winning them every year in the 90s. I would think maybe it is a righty/lefty thing, but Derrek Lee won 3 GG this decade and he is a righty. And I would think maybe it is the bulky slugger thingy, but hey, Todd Helton won 3 this decade and he’s a bulky slugger – or at least he was when he was winning them.

Riding The Horses – 2008 NL Pitchers

Friday, November 7th, 2008

A whole lot of people seem to think there are an abundance of pitchers who pitch all of their starts and throw 200 innings.

So let’s check it out. Looking at the NL in 08,

let’s first see how many pitchers started 25 or more games:

34 games – 8 pitchers
33 games – 11 pitchers
32 games – 8 pitchers
31 games – 10 pitchers
30 games – 5 pitchers

Adding this up – a total of 42 pitchers in all 16 NL teams threw 30 or more games. That’s it. Which isn’t even 3 guys/team. And actually, only 19 guys didn’t miss a single start. That’s not exactly a whole lot of horses out there, is it? If you want to use 32 games as the not missing a start cutoff, you up it to 27 pitchers. Not even 2/team.

29 games – 4 pitchers
28 games – 1 pitcher
27 games – 1 pitcher
26 games – 2 pitchers
25 games – 4 pitchers

And that is only 12 pitchers. That is IT.
There just are NOT that many starters who pitch a complete season out there. The 25-29 group has not only Wandy in it, but Moehler and Peavy and Marquis.

OK. Let’s look at IP (including starting + relieving)

>200 IP – 18
190-199 IP – 8
180-189 IP – 10
170-179 IP – 3
160-169 IP – 9
150-159 IP – 5
140-149 IP – 5
130-139 IP – 6
120-129 IP – 0

Guess those self same 19 guys who didn’t miss a start are all the guys who threw 190+ innings.

Let’s go at this again – there are 16 NL teams. 18, 19 guys, a little over 1/team, starts all of his starts and manages to eat at least 190 innings.

Let’s do a little math, for all yall grousing about all the starters who think that if they finish just 6 IP in each of their starts, they have done a great job:

if you complete 34 starts x 6 IP/GS = 204 IP
if you complete 33 starts x 6 IP/GS = 198 IP
if you complete 32 starts x 6 IP/GS = 192 IP

which makes you one of the top 26 “horse” SP in the NL.

Not 1 SP, not even Santana or Lincecum, managed to average 7 IP/GS. (Roy Halliday did in the AL, and CC did between the NL and the AL.)

So how many of the “horses” managed at least 6 IP/GS?

started 34 games: 5 of 8
started 33 games: 7 of 11
started 32 games: 6 of 8  (total – 18 of 27 managed)

started 31 games: 3 of 10
started 30 games: 3 of 5   (total – 6 of 15 managed)

and the, um, almost horses?

started 29 games: 2 of 4
started 28 games: 0 of 1
started 27 games: 1 of 1
started 26 games: 0 of 2
started 25 games: 1 of 4

Total 28 of 54 guys managed to average at least 6 IP/GS.

One more time – there are only 27 guys in the entire NL who managed to start every game. Not even 2/team. Only 18 of those managed to average at least 6 IP/GS.

Conclusion:

1 – averaging 6 IP/GS these modern days is excellent.

2 – darn few guys manage to start every game.

3 – there are exactly 18 NL pitchers who completed all their starts and managed at least 6 IP/GS.

AND only 12 of 16 teams had at least 1 starter who started 32-34 games.

Therefore, guys who can start all their games and can manage to average at least 6 IP/GS are VERY valuable and are going to command a LOT of money as FA.

In case yall curious, of the Astros starters,

Randy Wolf started 33, did not average 6 IP/GS (5.2)
Roy Oswalt started 32, DID average at least 6 IP/GS, Which is why he is an ace.
Brandon Backe started 31, did not average 6 IP/GS (5.1)
Moehler started 26, did not average 6 IP/GS (5.2)
Wandy started 25, did not average 6 IP/GS (5.2)

And by the way, if Backe had forgone his last 3 starts, in which he was clearly no shape to throw a baseball, he also would have averaged 5.2 IP/GS over 28 games.

I KNOW you wanna know which teams had the 18 aces:

LAD – 2
CHC – 2
MET – 2
ARI – 2
SFO – 2
FLA – 2
STL – 2 (and another guy was 1/3 IP from making it 3)
PHI
COL
HOU
CIN

Yes, that’s right. The Marlins, Giants, Dbax and Cards all had 2 aces and didn’t even sniff the playoffs. Of course, it helps to have position players who can do stuff like hit and field…

Philly had only 1 ace, but they rode him all the way to the WS championship.