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Archive for July, 2009

At The July 31, 2009 Trade Deadline, The Rich Get Richer And The Astros Do Nothing

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Let’s recap, shall we?

White Sox get the rehabbing Jake Peavy for Clayton Richard and some minor leaguers

Yankees get Jerry Hairston for some crappy A ball guy.

Red Sox get Victor Martinez for crappy reliever Justin Masterson and some crappy minor leaguers – no Clay Buchholz, no Daniel Bard, no nobody worth having. Just cheap. Oh yeah – and they immediately dumped Adam LaRoche on the Braves so they could get gloveman Casey Kotchman.

Tigers get Jarrod Washburn for minor league lefty pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

Reds trade Edwin Encarnacion, who is cheap and sucks, for Scott Rolen, who is expensive and sulks.

Even the Twins got in on the action, getting Orlando Cabrera from the Kansas City A’s – I mean Oakland A’s for some low A ball infielder.

Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t advocating trading away the couple of GOOD minor leagueres we actually have. I WAS advocating trading away guys who are gonna be FA, who aren’t going to be with the team and bringing up the young guys. We COULD have gotten something valuable for both Tejada and Valverde, and now we will get nothing, as neither one will be getting big bucks multi year contracts and their agents would have the sense to grab arbitration if offered.

I understand that Drayton wanted to gamble with guys on the scrap heap. OK, fine, but we just are NOT gonna compete with Philly and the rest.

I honestly just do NOT want to watch Cecil Freaking Cooper treat more rooks like dog poo and I am NOT looking forward to the return of Aaron Boone, who isn’t even UP to Keppinger, as What We Need Around Here and we sure as heck do NOT need no mo “Veteran Presence.”

This half-assed stuff is for the birds. We aren’t gonna win NOTHIN with this team – not this year, not next. NO, I do not want to turn into the Pirates, who are apparently going to sell off any player who makes more than minimum, just as Billy Beane has been doing for 3 years now (and sorry, but he hasn’t made a GOOD trade in years, and the Haren trade was flat out inexcuseable – to name just one.)

Oh yeah. And I am shocked SHOCKED that some lawyer saw fit to commit a crime and release 2 names of players on the 103 list to the media. I am shocked, SHOCKED that no one is trying to find out who did this and get the scumbag jailed and disbarred. I am shocked, SHOCKED that so many think it is a wonderful thing to start a precedent of violating peoples’ privacy in the interest of curiousity.

And I am the absolute MOST shocked that some of the media are actually trying to get people to believe that once they satisfy their killing lust on the 103, that they will be happy to pretend that no other baseball player evah used any chemical now listed on the banned list.

Yeah. Surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre…

7/31/09: Russ Ortiz Gives Up 9 Runs In 2 Innings And Gets Released

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Yes, you read that right. They actually released a Veteran Presence. Never thought I’d see it. (And yes, I’d sure nuff like to see them wave byby to Hampton, another absolutely suckulous, worthless VP) Actually, I thought they’d put Ortiz back in the bullpen, but, noooooooo, they brought up Sammy Gervacio.

I’m actually VERY surprised by that – he has a 5.40 WHIP/1.35 ERA in 35 games over 46.2 IP – 43 H, 20 BB, 48 K, 5 HR: 8.3 H/9; 3.9 BB/9; 9.3 K/9

But unless they want to go with Casey Daigle (they released Brendan Donnelly last month and he’s in the bigs with another club) or one of their AA guys, they have no choice. They already gave Chad Paronto a chance and he flunked.

Since they didn’t either trade for a reliever or keep Russ Ortiz in the pen, I am assuming that they are expecting Norris to take Ortiz’ place in the rotation and that Roy Oswalt will make his scheduled start. I CERTAINLY hope they aren’t thinking of recallilng Felipe Paulino – he only lasted 3 innings in his last start and gave up 5 walks. His mind been messed UP ever since he was tossed between the bullpen and the rotation.

sigh

Cubs just traded Kevin Hart to the Pirates for Gorzellanny and Grabow (who is an Astros killah.) The Pirates aren’t gonna have even one guy on that team earning more than ML minimum by the time this year is over – wouldn’t be surprised if they dump Ryan Doumit, too – and if they want him gone, we should go and get him, seeing as how Coop won’t play Towles anyway.

Tomorrow, it’s Mitchell Boggs, RHP, 5th rounder 2005, vs Moehler

Boggs has started 4 games, beat the Cubs in 5.2 innings, giving up 1 run, pitched 6 vs the Nats, giving up 4 runs, and 2 games vs the Pirates, going 4.1 innings each time and giving up 1 run in each start.

Moehler beat St Louis a couple weeks ago at home, giving up 2 ER/6 IP. He’s only pitched a couple of innings in relief at New Busch, so let’s hope he does fine.

You notice I haven’t talked about the Cubs game today. No need, really. Cuz when you say SUKC, you’ve said it all.

Mike Hampton And Doug Brocail Pitch Batting Practice To The Cubs

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Well, I turned on the game just in time to catch the Hampton starting to pitch the bottom of the first.

Here’s how it went:

- Reed Johnson singles on the 6th pitch, a FB below the knees on the outside corner.
- Riot takes a pitch CLEARLY on the plate, called a ball, then hits a cutter that didn’t into left for a double.
- DLee hits an inside FB just above the knees to Pence for a sac-fly. Pence throws home, doesn’t get the runner and Riot goes to third.

Cubs 1, Stros 0: One out

- Ramirez fouls off Ball 1, then hits a mid thigh, mid plate straight pitch to left and Riot trots home.

Cubs 2, Stros 0: one out

- Bradley takes Strike 1, ball 1, Ball 2 (which SHOULD have been Strike 2 because it CLEARLY got the upper outside corner), Ball 3 and Ball 4. Men on first and second.
- Sori hits the first pitch, a crotch high inside changeup over the fence.

Cubs 5, Stros 0: one out.
17 pitches and NOW what? No mopup man, bullpen beat to shreds, goodbye ballgame. I decide to watch just to see if Coop is gonna leave him into give up 11 runs, just as he did with Backe last year when it was obvious that Backe had zip.

- Jeff Baker walks on 4 straight pitches. And the 4th is indeed borderline, but just like yesterday, the HP umps are NOT gonna give the corners to the Astros pitchers.

Dewey trots out to the mound, tells Hampton – you are gonna Dew oe die out here and you wanna give up 30 runs, that’s yer thing. We got no pen. The ump ain’t gonna give you NUTTHIN so you best find some movement on those pitches or die trying.

- Koyie Hill comes up and Hampton gets Strike 1, then a swinging strike (yes, the FIRST one of the game), then Hampton throws a curve in the dirt which Pudge, as usual, can’t handle (he is seriously bad at getting pitches in the dirt. I miss Towles and Ausmus fer SHER) and Baker trots to second on a WP/PB. Personally, I think this should be a passed ball because I think that any ML catcher should be able to corral any pitch in the dirt. Then he hits a high FB to center for a RBI single.

Cubs 6, Stros 0: one out

Then the pitcher sac bunts (guess it is OK to have him work on his bunting, what the heck) and Johnson flies out to mercifully end this massacre.

Just a few Hampton starts ago, I listed his stats from non-Pirates games and trust me, they are unbelieveably worse after today, as he gave up a solo homer in the second and 2 more runs in the 4th - 9 ER/4 IP. And I sure remember all these people who INSISTED when we signed Hampton that we were getting this great pitcher, just look at his stats from 97-2003.

Brocail, rusty after 3 months of DL and almost no rehab, gave up Andres Blanco’s first ML home run on his very first pitch. Blanco is a guy whose SLUGGING percentage is .273. Even without the ump’s squeezing, Brocail did NOT look real too good (to be nice about it.)

Meanwhile, Randy Wells was making like Pedro 2000 and not one single Astro was even so much as trying to work counts. This team prides itself on not walking or striking out much. So I am not sure why Coop bothered to pull Hampton after the 4th with only 80 pitches thrown, but maybe Hampton begged to be pulled, youneverknow.

But don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Hampton to be DFAd. I want them to DFA MICHAELS and make Hampton the pinch hitter seing as how he can, you know, like, HIT. And I bet he can field just about any position, too.

sigh

And really, it is just the bench guys/PH who aren’t hitting for spit because the Astros are second in the NL in hits (behind LA), but are 11th in doubles and tied for 12th in homers (with LA, believe it or not) – they sure nuff ARE a low K team – 15th in Ks, and also 14th in walks(!!!!) but we lead the league in GIDPs with 99!!!!! And it WOULD have been 100 if the Cubs fielders hadn’t screwed up 2 easy DP opportunities today.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

But what makes the the absolute angriest about today’s, uh, showing is that with Oswalt out, Hawkins out, Berkman out, Pence slumping almost beyond recognition, Mike Hampton as your “#3″ and Russ Ortiz as your “#4″ and Moehler as your, uh, other pitcher, that this Organization will NOT cut its losses and re-organize. With rookie-hating Cooper as manager, no point in bringing up young players just to fail, be put in positions to fail, rot on the bench in favor of the Katas of the baseball world.

And all of this, of course, overshadowed Bud Norris’ debut – and I am glad it was with the team hopelessly lost after giving up 9 runs. Norris did reasonably well, even coped well with the ump squeezing the heck out of him (guess he’d seen what happened with Hampton and wasn’t expecting any sort of honesty in the calls) and he gave up 3 hits, a walk, a “WP” and a run on a rare Michael Bourn error (he slipped and fell going after a single to center and couldn’t get the ball to second in time.)

Randy Wells has now pitched 14 scoreless innings against the Stros. He was, by the way, a 38th round pick for the Cubs in 02. Which goes to show that youneverknow and maybe the Astros shouldn’t just treat all their minor leaguers who aren’t The Pre-Ordained Ones, like so much trash. Sometimes, it makes sense to you know, like DEVELOP players.

So tomorrow, it’s fun and games seeing how much damage the Cubs can do to Russ Ortiz. We face Kevin Hart, a lefty reliever turned starter (with Ted Lilly on the DL) who, in his 3 games started, has given up 1 ER/5 IP, 2 ER/5 IP and 1 ER/5 IP. Of course, that was vs the Braves, the Nats and Cincy, but hey, we’d best not be throwin no stones.

And Hart himself was a nobody A ball guy who the Cubs got from the Orioles back in 06 for a rather crappy player named Freddy Bynum. He had been a starter in the low minors, but the Cubs decided to make a LOOGY out of him, and although he had a crappy year in the majors last year, they decided to stick him into the rotation and so far, he’s done wayyy better than expected. He may crash and burn, but sometimes, you gotta give a guy a chance. And Lou Pinella, unlike our manager, doesn’t have a problem working with young players and actually putting them in position to SUCCEED.

YOU HEAR THAT ASTROS????!!!!

7/29/09: All Wright Now – Wesley (And Fulchino) Get First ML Hits On First ML AB

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Well, I thought it would sound good to have a nice sounding title, seing as how I’d rather talk about something nice than start off with the bad news.

Roy hurt his lower back somehow on his 23rd pitch with 2 out in the second. And Wesley came in and did fine for 1.1 innings. Then he lost command. Or something. He struck out Fukudome, walked the next 3 guys on 13 pitches (and yes, the HP ump WAS squeezing him a LOT, according to gameday, and he didn’t get one single pitch on the corners, or one pitch at the knees.) Coop didn’t so much as blink, and it was obvious that he was gonna leave Wesley in to give up ? runs. So then it’s a sac-fly. Then Wes/Pudge forget to check the runners, and it’s a double steal. Then a single to left, which Carlos trots gingerly over to get, allowing the runner on second to score, too. He then walks Hill and Ks Dempster, to end a BAD inning.

40 pitches. In ONE inning. Was Coop gonna leave him in there to throw 80? He didn’t bother to get Fulchino, who actually IS a long man, up, until Wesley’s 36th pitch.

Not that Fulchino did better – he gave up a very weird “single” to Fukudome by getting his comebacker caught inside his jersey. He walked DLee and then gave up a 3 run homer to Aramis Ramirez – not the worst pitch, actually inside the zone and mid thigh.

Bourn and Keppinger, batting second, had a good night, and Miggy Tejada had a VERY good night, too.

Bourn went 3fer 5 with a walk and scored 3 runs (and made a tremendous catch, too.) Keppinger went 4fer 5 with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Miggy went 2fer 5 with a 2 run homer and also a sac-fly. Carlos went 1fer 4 with a sac-fly. Pence and Pudge had BAD PA – Pudge got himself out on the first pitch twice and Hunter hit only one ball well for a double to right, and he GIDP again. I have no idea why Pence has reverted to his terrible habits from the first half of last year, but he’s only really hitting high FB well.

sigh.

The bullpen is pretty whipped after these past few days, and Hawk had to go on the DL with the shingles, and Brocail hasn’t really had much of any rehab starts. Not sure if Roy is going on the DL, but JD said that Bud Norris is getting called up. I hope HOPE HOPE that the Astros Organization doesn’t let Cooper treat Norris like garbage, as he has done to every single other young player (Towles, Maysonet, Paulino…)

Oh yeah -

Astros win this absolutely BIZARRO baseball game. I particularly enjoyed seeing Carlos Zambrano strike out swinging to end it.

7/28/09: Wandy Pitches Great, Hitters Don’t Hit, Cooper Mismanages And Astros Lose To Cubs

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Wandy threw 7 great innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 solo homer, 1 walk, 1 IBB and 7 K. He wasn’t tired, but was removed for a pinch hitter.

The batters combined for a nice, solid Golden Sombrero – and the guys have scored exactly one run in the last 23 innings. Every time an Astro got on base, fer SHER the next batter(s) would either strike out swinging at some pitch in the dirt or GIDP.

And yeah, Coop mismanaged. More than once.

He sends Kata to pinch hit for Quintero, then Pudge to pinch hit for Wandy. What the heck. Why pinch hit for Wandy at all with the game tied and him having only thrown 100 pitches? And why not pinch hit Pudge for Quintero so that you don’t burn up two PH?

And I LUUUVVED how Pudge couldn’t manage to make an easy double play on Fontenot’s botched squeeze – he should have EASILY had Hoffpaiur at third.

I also just LUUUVVV the way he tells Bourn, the top base stealer in the NL, not to steal against the Cubs’ emergency backup catcher who has caught exactly 2 major league innings, and instead wasting an out with a sac-bunt. Or did he just figure that Kaz was SURE to hit into ANOTHER double play? Or did he just want to leave that little task up to Carlos Lee?

BAH!

And I LUUUVVV how he left Sampson, just barely back off the DL, in there to throw a second inning, especially after seeing, with the rest of us, how he could barely get pitches over.

Good grief.

Tonight, Roy will face Ryan Dempster, fresh off the DL. If the batters uck-say as much tonight, hopefully Roy will kick some overly complacent ass, is all I can say.

7/27/09: Astros Play Badly, Pitch Badly And Lose Series To The Mets’ Bench Players

Monday, July 27th, 2009

There is this fantasy that baseball fans cling to, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts because humbleness beats greatness (“Bad News Bears” and all kabillion of the remakes of this theme using other teams, other sports, etc). Yes, lightning strikes happen, teams get hot and go on a run (us in 04, Rox in 07) but teams with better players and adept managers win more than teams with mediocre players and lousy managers.

I think that this obsession with fantasy is why so many people hate (mostly) guys with spreadsheets, who try to examine the FACTS without prejudice.

I also think it is why we hear stuff (and nonsense) about “The Golden Age Of Baseball” which supposedly occurred back in the 50s. Here’s what I see – there were 8 teams/league and in the AL, the Yankees won the pennant every single year from 1947 to 1964 except for 54 (Indians) and 59 (White Sox); in the NL, over those same years, the Giants/Dodgers won 12 of the pennants – you see a few outliers such as the Phils in 1950 and the Pirates in 1960 and the Reds in 61, but HOW is it “Golden” to have the best teams constantly in NY? Unless, of course, you happen to live there? If, by the way, you look at the top 10 position players and the top 10 pitchers from those years, you will find that almost all of them came from NY teams.

It’s just imagination – Golden, my left – um, ear???

Or the insistance that baseball players didn’t care about the money (which is why Drysdale and Koufax held out in 64) or that they were “humble.”

There must be around a zillion columns today written by paid baseball columnists proclaiming that Rickey Is FINALLY “Humble.”

HUMBLE???

Do those writers, who spit on us umble bloggers, because unlike them, we don’t have that all important degree in journalism, even bother to look up the meaning of words?

Here, according to dictionary.com, is the meaning of “humble” – not proud or arrogant; modest; have a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience; low in rank, importance, status, quiality…

What top notch athlete is “humble?” No professional athlete would graduate from Little League if he was, in fact, “humble.” How many of those self same guys in the HOF pimped themselves to reporters, insisting they were great (say, Jim Ed Rice, Ryan Sandberg, Goose Gossage.) But it is just a fantasy on the part of fans and reporters.

I get so tired of all the Back In The Good Old Days how Things Were The Way They Were Supposed To Be. There never was any such time. And the fact is that no matter when the time is, you gotta take the good with the bad, as my Mama always says. And sorry, I’m not going to join in the silly fantasy that Back Then, all the baseball players had no ego, thought only of The Team and The Game, had no interest in money, committed no sins, never would EVAH have tried something like (shudder) steroids to make themselves better, or play better and just felt lucky that they were able to effortlessly lucky to continue to play their little boy’s game when they were adults and were all surprised and dumbfounded and grateful to have a museum bestow an unwarranted “honor” upon them, much as some long ago king would have walked up to some nameless, hardworking penniless peasant and made him a lord.

And so what does all of this have to do with the modern day reality of the Houston Astros Baseball Club?

Namely this: fact is that in spite of luck etc, the Astros are simply not good enough to win the pennant, barring fortunate circimstances such as season ending injuries to most of the other teams’ good players, and even that won’t be enough, seeing as how we have a catcher who calls for fastballs to be thrown to one of the worst regular position players in baseball who bout every fan knows can NOT hit any other sort of pitch, seeing as how we have some of the worst baserunners in the NL (just watch the replay of Pence getting CS in the first) and seeing as how we just lost 2 games to a team which has one good pitcher and one good regular position player.

Am I just being negative again, after watching the putrid pitching of Hampton, Moehler and Ortiz?

Well, let’s put it THIS way – who out there actually thinks that this team can win the pennant, beating Philly/Atlanta/Dodgers/Rox with Roy, Wandy and pray for 3 days of some reason that games can’t be played? Hampton, Ortiz and Moehler are the 2009 version of Pete Munro, and we all know how well THAT worked out. This team isn’t hitting for spit with runners on, this team hits into WAYYYY too many DPs and runs into WAYYYYY too many outs on the basepaths (we are the second worst in baserunning in the NL, next to the Nats.)

Also, you’ll notice that unlike the Cards and some AL teams, we have NO good young virtually ML-ready players or prospects (besides Jason Castro The Untouchable One) to trade for someone GOOD (translation – expensive) such as Halliday or Cliff Lee or a Holliday-like hitter. Yes we DO have Bud Norris and Yorman Bazardo at AAA, and yes they are the top 2 pitchers in the PCL, but we have a manager who hates young players and doesn’t exactly put them in a position to succeed, to put it mildly. We have no good hitters who could replace Jason Worthless Michaels and The Gritmeister – that is, if Fast Eddie/Cooper even wanted to replace them, which they don’t seem to want to.

sigh

And we’re off to Wrigley, where the Cubs have been on a hot streak lately. Tonight, it’s Wandy vs Zambrano. Wandy hasn’t had a good time at Wrigley, let’s put it that way – he’s started 5 games over 24 IP and has a 8.25 ERA there and yes, I know all about his inability to pitch away in 06 and 07. THis year, he beat the Cubs (at home) giving up 5 hits and 1 solo homer for 1 ER/7 IP. Last year, he pitched 1 game at Wrigley, and it was UGLY, gave up 6 ER/5 IP. In 07, he had one horrific game – 7 ER/3.1 IP and one excellent game, 0 ER/6 IP. DLee and Riot have hit him well and hit him hard, so he best pitch carefully to them.

We know only too well that Zambrano usually pitches well against us – he has a lifetime 2.86 ERA over 180.2 IP, and he’s also pitching well at home this year – 3.86 ERA over 51.1 IP.

And I don’t mind missing Lance Berkman at Wrigley, because for some reason, he doesn’t hit worth a darn there – he says he doesn’t se the ball well there, for some reason, and he doesn’t: .231/.360/.409/.761 over 247 PA, his worst BA/OPS by 80 points over any other stadium in which he has had at least 80 AB.

Yes, this has indeed been a gloom & doom entry.

Anyone out there to cheer me up, show how I’m wrong?

7/26/09: Russ Ortiz Pitches Lousy, Jon Niese Pitches Great And Mets Win

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Russ started off lousy, gave up 3 runs in the first because he couldn’t locate much of anything or keep the ball down. He had a good 2nd, a passable 3rd, a barely tolerable 4th in which he gave up a walk, a single, a GIDP run and then Kd the pitcher.

Fulchino had been warming up and at that time, the Astros were only losing 4-1, and in spite of Niese pitching the way I had expected Santana to, it was still a winnable game.

But Coop sent Ortiz back out there and he got an out, gave up an IF single to 3rd, then a 10 pitch walk to Wright. Goodbye Russ.

Byrdak went in to get the next 2 outs, which he did except for one itsy bitsy snag - which consisted of him going to 3-1 to Francoeur with 2 on and 2 out and THEN, Pudge called for a FB.

Now, just before Byrdak threw the pitch, I said DON’T THROW A FB!!! and J.D. said – he’s sitting dead red. So, how is it that Pudge has NOOOOOOO idea that Francoeur won’t walk and sits dead red????? And why even bother to call for anything in the strike zone at all? He’s supposed to be a veteran and better than that.

And yes, it IS Byrdak’s fault for 1 – not shaking that off, and 2 – throwing it straight down the middle.

But what happened next was unbelieveable – right after the homer, JD said – the one thing that Roger Clemens said was that it was always better to walk a batter, even if he gave up a run, than it was to give into a hitter. Jeez – that is what I always quote Roger as saying. Might could it be that great minds think alike?

I know that a lot of fans are madly in LUUUUVVVV with Pudge because he has a strong arm, but I am not real too in LUUUUVVVV with his inability to block balls well, the fact that he already has FIVE passed balls and his doing really stupid stuff like calling a FB for a hitter who even my kids know sits dead red and can’t hit breaking pitches for spit and won’t walk.

Anyway, there we are, down 7-1, game over. So if you are going to bring in Chad Paronto, why on earth not bring out all the bench guys to mop up?

sigh

Paronto actually DID pitch 1 inning without giving up any runs, believe it or not. And it looks seriously strange to see him wearing Lidge’s number – really, just as strange as it looks to see Coste wearing Backe’s number.

Speaking of pitchers, it looks as if Sampson is gonna be returning tomorrow, and Paronto will be headed on down. Good thing too, because Arias and Hawkins are lookin mighty tired these days. Wonder when Brocail is coming back – and I guess Wesley will be going back when he is ready.

And Pence is still not hitting well, although he most definitely had much better ABs today – no swinging at sliders outside, more fighting off bad pitches, taking more balls. He hit a high FB off Frankie Rodriguez into the Crawford Boxes. He likes em high, just like Kit Keller.

This afternoon, it’s Moehler vs Livan Hernandez in the rubber game. I think the Mets have gotten more hits here in the past few days than they have in the past few months and yeh, I know that Citi Field seriously depresses homers, but their hitters haven’t been making up for it at other stadiums neither – well, except for ours. I notice them all trying their best to hit balls into the Crawford Boxes. Even their leftys.

Wonder how many people will be watching the games today instead of listening to Jim Ed Rice’s and Rickey’s HOF induction speeches.

Oh yeah -

with Hampton and Ortiz BOTH pitching lousy, does anyone think that any minor league pitcher of ours has even a ghost of a chance to replace them? I mean before September? Felipe Paulino, in case you are curious, has pitched in 2 games since returning to AAA – gave up 3 hits, 4 BB, 1 K and 1 run over 4 IP; gave up 4 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 R over 4.2 IP. You notice that this is AAA, he’s not pitching deep and he’s giving up a lot of walks and not getting many Ks…

7/25/09: Mike Hampton Hits Opposite Field Home Run Off Johan Santana To Secure Astros Win

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

It wasn’t Johan’s day. He got all KINDS of hits from his batters, but he lost anyway, giving up 12 hits, the most he has given up in one game this year. He could have given up a LOT more runs, but the Astros left men on in every inning except the second and 6th.

I was surprised that he didn’t throw very many changeups and perhaps that is why he struck out only 3 batters, 2 leftys and Pudge.

OK

Now, all yall know that I have complained very frequently about Coop’s stupid moves (and there are many) so today, I would like to compliment him on two – not substituting Jason Worthless Michaels in center (because Michael made 2 difficult plays that Michaels wouldn’t have touched) and pulling Hampton with 2 out in the 6th after he walked the pitcher. And another – he didn’t insist on the leftyrighty nonsense and pull Keppinger with a righty reliever up and insert Matt Worthless Kata.

Hampton wasn’t exactly GOOD – gave up 8 hits, 1 solo homer to the Crawford Boxes, 4 walks, 7 Ks, 2 GIDP and 4 ER. He got lucky and caught Johan on one of his bad days, really.

Gotta give props to Pence, who is still in a terrible hitting funk – the boy NEEDS to watch video of his ABs in April and May – for fielding a single to right, then firing home to nail Frenchy by 10′ and end the inning and preserve the 1 run lead.

Arias was shaky – most likely unnerved by the HP ump’s erratic strike zone, but he certainly owes Pence a steak dinner.

Hawkins was shaky, too, although a couple of plays weren’t his fault. Santos hit a grounder to Keppinger, who bobbled it, causing him to have a late throw (should have been an error) and yet another infield “single” to second because Matsui couldn’t get the ball out of his glove. But he got Pagan to FO to center – and that was a GREAT running catch by Bourn that no freaking way Michaels makes, and a FO to left, and it was great to see Carlos hustling over to catch that.

The sellout crowd appreciated that, too.

Yeah, sellout crowd, and I don’t think it is just because of Mets fans – there certainly weren’t more Mets fans today than Cards fans earlier this week, which means that the Astros fans are indeed starting to come out and watch this crazy team.

And tonight, it’s Jonathan Niese, 23 year old lefty drafted by the Mets in the 7th round of 05. He started 3 games last year – had a 7 something ERA over 14 IP, and started 2 games earlier in May – gave up 2 ER/6 IP vs the Pirates and 5 ER/4.2 IP vs the Braves.

This year at AAA, he has thrown 16 games over 94 IP – 3.84 ERA/1.28 WHIP; 2.5 BB/9; 7.5 K/9; 0.7 HR/9.

Russ Ortiz will be pitching for us. He gave up only 2 runs vs the Dodgers last outing, but gave up 8 vs the Giants just the week before, so we’ll have to see.

Finally, I must say, I’m glad that Erstad is on the DL, or we wouldn’t have benefitted from Chris Coste as we have – he drove in the winning runs tonight.

smile

You didn’t think I was gonna forget THAT, did you? I just saved the best for last.

7/24/09: Johan Santana Coulda Been An Astro

Friday, July 24th, 2009

It’s something you keep hearing, over and over – the Astros Organization made a terrible mistake letting Santana get away.

You know the story – he was signed by a Venezuelan scout in ’95, stayed in the Astros Organization for 3 years, then was, for some mysterious reason, left unprotected in the Rule V draft, was immediately snapped up by the Twins and became a sensation.

Well, sort of but not quite.

You want to know why on EARTH the Astros left such an outstanding prospect unprotected, and for, like WHO???

OK, here’s the timeline: He spent age 15-18 in the Venezuelan Academy and then entered the Rookie League at age 18, threw 36.1 innings over 4 games started and 5 in relief, with a 7.93 ERA/1.84 WHIP: 4.5 BB/9; 5.2 K/9.

Those aren’t exactly good numbers, but for some reason, he was promoted to low A at age 19 (in ’98) and he started 15 games over 46.2 IP: 4.36 ERA/1.18 WHIP: 2.2 BB/9; 8.1 K/9

Now THOSE were good numbers, and he earned a promotion to A ball for his age 20 season, in which he started 26 games over 160 IP: 4.66 ERA/1.35 WHIP: 3.1 BB/9; 8.1 K/9

Those are reasonable numbers for a 20 year old A ball pitcher. Not exactly eye-popping, though, to say the least. So the Astros decided not to add him to the 40 man roster. Now he was the FIRST guy picked in the Rule V draft, so obviously, there must have been SOMEthing about the guy that was obvious to other scouts.

Let’s check (or TRY to check) the Astros 40 man from 2000 (and this is tougher than you think because the 2000 Astros media guide isn’t available on line and I can’t find any other listing. I am serious. The Astros official site doesn’t list 40 man rosters from the past and neither does Baseball Cube or BBref. Interesting…)

This list, incomplete, is the best I can do:

Pitchers: Jose Cabrera, Octavio Dotel, Scott Elarton, Wayne Franklin, Jason Green, Chris Holt, Jose Lima, Scott Linebrink, Rusty Meacham, Tony McKnight, Wade Miller, Brian Powell, Jay Powell, Wade Miller, Shane Reynolds, Joe Slusarski, Billy Wagner, Marc Valdes (and WHERE is Roy Oswalt???)

Catchers: Frank Charles, Tony Eusebio, Raul Chavez, Mitch Melusky

Position Players: Bagwell, Biggio, Bogar, Caminiti (round 2), Tripp Cromer (Ido NOT remember this guy), Julio Lugo, Bill Speiers, Chris Truby, Eddie Zosky, Moises Alou, Glen Barker, Lance Berkman, Roger Cedeno, Richard Hidalgo, Daryle Ward

And yes, I know it doesn’t add up to 40, and I don’t know which minor leaguers are missing.

Anyway, back to Johan,

because he was a Rule V, he had to be kept in the majors all year, and he started 5 games and relieved in 25 others over 86 IP with a 6.49 ERA/1.81 WHIP; 5.7 BB/9; 6.7 K/9; 1.2 HR/9

Amazing that a 21 year old guy who had only been through A ball could do even THAT well, hunh.

In 01, he started 4 games and relieved in 11 over 43 IP: 4.74 ERA/1.51 WHIP: 3.3 BB/9; 5.8 K/9

Nothing exactly real too particularly good, right? But THEN he was sent to AAA to start 02 and they taught him how to throw an effective changeup and THEN it was curtains for hitters.

Perhaps someone in the Astros Organization might could have taught him to throw that self same change, or some other effective pitch, but fact is that is was someone in ANOTHER Organization who did so, after Johan had pitched 2 barely passable years in the majors.

And yes, I know that he didn’t look like anyone special, based on his numbers, but still, I wonder why he WAS grabbed, and grabbed first in that Rule V…

I have said before that perhaps it would be better to have differing views/scouting reports/pitching coaches/hitting coaches. Perhaps someone has an idea that someone else doesn’t, perhaps the exact same methods don’t work effectively with all people, perhaps it is wasteful to insist that you want only one kind of player who can be approached one way and all others who fall by the wayside are those who wouldn’t “fit” in the Organization.

I guess it is the, I don’t know what to call it, ?militaristic? thinking coming through. Like the Army has to function as a cohesive unit and there is no room whatsoever for variation or personality. Which is true, but when you have any, say commando unit, you don’t tell the explosives guy that he has to be the communications guy too.

Ah well.

There are incredible numbers of “can’t miss” prospects who missed and incredible numbers of “he’s nothing much” minor leaguers who excelled when they just almost accidentally were given a chance. You can project all you want to, but in the end, youneverknow…

And speaking of projecting the future, hows about that Carlos The Jackal? The guy WANTED to play in New York City, let’s be real here. He would have stayed in Houston if he couldn’t get a good contract anywhere else, but he didn’t want to (and yes, I know that Drayton made a serious mistake in his negotiation tactics with Carlos and Boras. And I mean Drayton, not poor ol Timmy Purpuppet neither.)

I hear tell that Carlos didn’t want to be The STAR!!! and he certainly wouldn’t have been here in Houston, not with Baggy and Biggio and Berkman. But The Mets fans expected him to be more than he was and they really seriously had a problem with his batting average and the fact that he wasn’t, I guess you’d call it “gritty” ala Edmonds/Rowand. They complain that he’s always HURT, doesn’t hustle (??????) doesn’t hit like Pujols, doesn’t have a personality like Jeter, whatever. He started off slowly his first year, eventually hitting .266/.330/.414 and heard PLENTY of boos from his own “fans” and his failure against Wainwright in the 06 playoffs just cemented his status as “choker.”

That and the fact that his batting average has never been over .300 until this year. Because it is natural and reasonable to ignore a ballplayer’s OTHER accomplishments if his BA is not even .300, don’tchu know.

He’s on the DL now, and the guy has played hurt for most of his 5 years there, but of course, the kicker to being a team guy and playing hurt is that playing hurt has no effect on your own play, let alone the team’s. I’ve mentioned for years that I go out just to booooooo that Jackal, but you know, I’ve got to where I almost feel sorry for the fool. You GOT to be careful what you wish for because you gotta take the good with the bad.

I don’t know what it is that Carlos wanted from playing in NY, but it would be interesting to know if whatever he got was worth it, seeing as how the payment has been discontented (isn’t that a nice, polite word???) fans and contemptuous media.

Mike Hampton is going to try to win against a non-Pirates team. The Mets haven’t been playing well, to say the least, but Johan has had a very good year, so I’m not holding my breath.

7/23/09: We’ll Miss Lance A Lot

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I guess that a grade 2 sprain (whatever that means) really is bad. We all know Lance could barely hobble down to first last night, and I guess everyone figured it was about time to put him on the DL and let the leg heal. I am guessing they are making it retroactive to the 16th, when he actually hurt it, so that he could come off at the end of the month, but so far they haven’t said.

Something about men – they have this mind set about how if you just don’t pay something no nevermind, it won’t be a problem. Like how a ballplayer should just rub dirt on it or something. Like they did Back In The Good Old Days when Men Were Men, not lil pansies and played with broke bones. Of course, no one wants to remember how all those guys playing hurt ruined their careers…

Anyway, the good news is that Maysonet was called back up. The bad news is that he will most likely sit on the bench because the FAR superior Matt Kata and Jason Michaels will eat up all the pinch hit ABs.

grrrrrrrrrrrrr

Yes, I know that the Astros won without Lance these past few days, and we probably won’t need him to beat the Mets. But after that…