Archive for October, 2009

10/30/09: Brad Arnsberg Is The Astros New Pitching Coach

Friday, October 30th, 2009

With Brad Mills as the new manager and now Brad Arnsberg as the new pitching coach, it’s too bad we couldn’t have completed the Trio Of Brads with Ausmus as the new hitting coach – I mean getting hit on coach…

but I digress…

Anyway, Arnsberg was the pitching coach for the Marlins 02-03, then the Blue Jays from 05-09. He wasn’t officially fired, but he left when Cito Gaston was NOT fired at the end of the year. Arnsberg is well respected, best I can tell, and worked well with both aces like Halliday and Burnett and with the many young pitchers who came up with Toronto and Florida. In fact, going through some of the Jays blogs, I was surprised to see how well respected he is among the non-mainstreamers.

He certainly appears to be an enormous step up from Dewey Robinson and hopefully, he can be a great help with Mills in working the bullpen properly (unlike Cooper and Dewey who ruined both Geary and Sampson, to name a few.)

Roy-O has been talking about his retirement and hopefully, Arnsberg will re-kindle his enthusiasm.

I will also mention that Al Pedrique, one of the candidates for manager, has been named bench coach. From the little I can find, this appears to be a Drayton selection as I can’t find any evidence that Mills and Pedrique even know each other, and I hope this works out. I would think that a manager who can’t even pick his own bench coach must be at a disadvantage – he has GOT to have someone who he can talk to, bouce idea off, NOT a competitor.

Ex-Yankee coach Bobby Meacham has been named as first base coach – at least he and Mills know each other – they worked together in the Rockies minor league system.

I must say that I do think that these coaches appear to be a whole lot better than the ones that were forced upon Cooper the past 2 years. And yeah, Clark is indeed remaining at 3B where he can hold runners who should go and wave runners who shouldn’t.

10/27/09: Brad Mills Is The New Astros Manager

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I had heard from several sources that Bob Melvin was the favorite, and heard from another that Phil was gonna get another go-round, but I figured I’d wait to hear the announcement, which we all knew was gonna come before the WS starts tomorrow.

Brad Mills is not going to make the Astros into a contending team, I don’t expect that. I am hoping that he doesn’t have Cooper’s dislike of playing rookies and that he doesn’t have the same poor communication skills. I am also hoping that he will at least try to emphasize the importance of not making 2 outs/AB – I mean, one is bad enough. I hope he has the sense to put players in the best position to succeed and that he isn’t in love with trying to make every single player into a utility guy, as Phil was.

It will be interesting to see if Mills implements any of those new-fangled statsy ideers that the Red Sox have been using.

I also hope that he will have some input into the roster and will not just insist on Old Guys oozing that Veteran Goodness when their actual baseball skills are not good any more. I said, for a long time, that the Astros won in spite of Cooper, not because of him. Managers can’t really make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (which is why we all LUUUVVV the movie “Major League”) but they certainly CAN try to get the best out of what they DO have.

And speaking of get the best out of, yeah, you best believe I’m rooting for Brad Lidge and the Phils to bust the Evil Empire.

The 2010 Hardball Times Annual Is Ready!!!

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I know all yall eager baseball fans can’t WAIT to pre-order your very own copy of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual, in spite of the fact that I am not among its many meritorious authors (that will come with the 2010 Season Preview – you will NEVAH guess which team I am going to discuss…)

I also will tell you that I am not getting paid for promoting this book. It’s just chock full of baseball goodness, however, and I’m sure it’s JUST the thing for all the long boring baseball-less nights which will stretch on for months…

10/25/09: Manny Acta Goes To Cleveland

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

It’s not that I was particularly enamoured of this here guy, mind. It is that the Astros KNEW that Cleveland was bidding too, and apparently wouldn’t up the ante. OR, it is that after Manny had a few Little Talks with Fast Eddie, Pam and Tal – and oh yeah, Drayton, he decided that he wasn’t really as much of an Astro as he thought.

Skimming through a couple of non-Astro sites, the fact that a whole lot of other baseball writers see Drayton as, uh, problematic, tells me plenty. Either he really is difficult or he has certainly earned that reputation.

Dear GOD, I hope and pray this doesn’t mean we are in for Phil Garner Round 2. I am tired of hearing how he “took us to the WS” because it is a steaming load – Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, Mo Ensberg, Adam Everett and Lance Berkman did that IN SPITE OF PHIL’S MULTIPLE MISMANAGEMENTS!!!!

At this particular point, it looks as if it is Phil or Brad Mills. I don’t know anything about Mills except that he is an old, uh, friend (ahem) of Fast Eddie – that figures – and that he is currently with the BoSox, who don’t seem to have a problem integrating YOUNG players into their team, as Drayton does lately.

If Drayton picks Phil again, I swear I am not going to one more game until he gets rid of Tal and Phil and Fast Eddie once and for all and hires a GOOD front office and management team.  And I am not kidding. I honestly don’t know how the Pirates/Royals/Orioles fans have put up with this sort of idiocy for so many decades.

And also, sorry about the formatting – it is one of the bugs that hasn’t been stamped out yet.

10/21/09; Here I Go Again On My Own

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

OK all yall, i think we’ve FINALLY gotten all the bugs stamped out, but I’m still holding the Raid just to be surrre…

For the Astros, no news is bad news. In other words, the Brewers have grabbed Rudy Jaramillo for their hitting coach and Peterson for their pitching coach and yes, I know that Peterson didn’t exactly have the same success with the Mets that he had with Oakland.

The Astros are starting their second round of interviews with the 10 candidates (NOW what??? I mean, what could they possibly not have asked them the first time? Will you agree to “work with” Tal Smith?) Can someone help me understand why ANY fan would want Phil Garner back except that 1 – he’s bettern Cooper and, 2 – “he took us to the WS” not that he exactly did a good job with that…

Still no idea on who they are interviewing for pitching coach.

And still no idea on how they plan to do something about the complete wasteland of sukc that is the minor leagues. As I’ve said, they’ve either picked crappy players in the first place or they are not teaching them worth spit (and they sure as heck are not teaching them to not swing at everything in sight.)

10/18/09: The New Improved Astros Dugout

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Trying out the new software.

Please post a comment to let me know if you can read this.

Thanks

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/the_bonus/10/16/brad.ausmus/index.html

There are still a few bugs in the system, and I am patiently awaiting the exterminator and appreciate everyone’s understanding.

At this time, I can’t change the font or anything much. After a few more bugs get squished, I’ll try to return to something resembling the original appearance.

I appreciate everyone’s patience and am trying several times a day to see if enough bugs are stamped out to post. With any luck, I’ll be back on by Tuesday.

Lisa

Brad Lidge Saves Consecutive 1 Run Games To Help Phils Win NLDS

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Yeah, I know it is not Astros news, but I like Brad.

It has been a postseason of Closers Who Fail – and interestingly enough, Brad, who has had, uh, his share of struggles this year, has come through, unlike Papelbon, Huston Street and Ryan Franklin.

What’s that old Stones song – When The Whip Comes Down…

Got an, um, interesting comment purporting to be from “Jack Zduriencik” informing me that I should not quit my day job as a cosmetologist (at least he didn’t say stripper or Hooter’s, uh, serve-person) because, in fact, Bobby Heck was NEVER a scouting director, just an underling in the scouting dept and that he, Jack, was, in fact, the scouting director.

That’ll teach me not to assume any info I hear is correct, and from now on, when I hear someone referred to with some title, I will check and make sure that that title is, in fact, correct.

Good news: Mike Hargrove, Grady Little and Jim Fregosi are not being interviewed for manager.

BAD news: Ned Yost is (sorry – he’s very good with an all-rookie team, getting them to have confidence in the majors, but any more than that is a big NO, especially the problem with pitchers) and Phil Garner is. He’s not Billy Martin – his time came and went. He’s good with players, terrible with on field strategy.

I’d like to see them give Pete Mackanin, the Phillies bench coach, a chance. He has been an interim ML manager twice and has done tolerably well both times AND he’s been working with a winning team. No Bob Melvin, no Manny Acta.

I see there is no Bobby Valentine on the list of interviewees. Wonder if it is because hell will freeze before Drayton would EVER have any manager who had a rep like Bobby or because they asked Bobby and he said – um, no…

 

 

Astros Top Prospects For 2010 And A Few Words About Jim Fregosi

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Top Prospect Alert has beaten Baseball America to the punch and named the top 10 Astros Prospects and yes, I KNOW they really REALLY had to look long and hard to think of 10 of em. Just because you sign all the guys you draft doesn’t mean that the guys you drafted were all that. This year, especially, pretty much all guys signed almost immediately (and there were no guys who had to be paid more because of signability and no Boras prospects, like duh.) And, by the way, the Astros haven’t signed any more guys/year than in the previous 10 drafts…

#1 Jason Castro : We all know about The Next Big Thang, our 1st rounder in 08 - age 22, has now caught 158 games in the minors, finished the season at AA hitting .293/.362/.387/.747. He has shown doubles but not homer power and is not a particularly fast runner – the Biggios and even Towles are unusual for catchers. Pretty much everyone really thinks that Castro will be the starting catcher in 2010, and who knows, he may very well be, but I just hope the fans don’t turn on him when he doesn’t come up and immediately hit like Mike Piazza.

It is actually much more likely that he will start the year at AAA and if he does well, will probably not be called up before the Super 2 limit has passed so that the team can get an extra cheap year out of him before FA.

#2 Jordan Lyles  : The Astros supplemental 1st round pick in 08, will be 19 at the start of the 2010 season. He spent 2009 at A ball, started 26 games over 144.1 IP with a 3.25 ERA, 5 HR, 34 BB, 167 K. Not bad for A ball, but the guy is at LEAST 2 years away from the majors – he is NOT Rick Porcello, and the fact that he’s #2 on this list tells you what kind of shape this farm system is in. 

#3 Jiovanni Mier    : First Rounder in 09, now age 19. Just finished rookie ball (and yes, he’s the #3 guy on the list. Yeah, I know. Over 192 AB, he hit .276/.380/.484/.824, stole 10 bases and was caught 5 times. No reports about his glove, but his numbers aren’t particularly impressive and if he was the 30th round pick, he wouldn’t be 3rd on this list, would he?

#4 Jon Gaston: picked in the 7th round of the 08 draft, 23 yo RF, just finished the year at high A, where he was the league home run champion. in 518 PA over 139 games, he hit .278/.367/.598/.965 with 31 doubles, 15 triples, 35 HR, 71 BB, 164 K, 14 SB, 4 CS, 10 sac-fly and only 3 GIDP. (The boy best work on cutting down those Ks and upping those GIDPs.)


#5 Chris Johnson   4th round pick in the 06 draft, now age 25. Kind of young for an Astros prospect, but hey, they had to find SOMEbody. He repeated AAA this year after playing 30 lousy games there last year and did tolerably well over 104 games/384 PA, posting a .281/.323/.461/.784 line. He walked 21 times and struck out 90 AND he GIDP 16 times, too!!! No walks, plenty of DPs???!! The boy is a born Astro!!! All he has to do is jump around like Miggy with all that enthusiasm out there and the fans won’t even notice the difference, except for the 13.5 mill savings in salary.

Granted, the fans didn’t get to see real too much of the boy the month he was up here in the bigs because Drayton didn’t want the manager to play the youngsters because he thought, for some reason that escapes me, that we would prefer to watch Blum and Keppinger suck. He got 13 whole ABs over 4 games in 4 weeks and he learned some valuable things, watching the Old Guys “go about their business” and I’m sure he’s determined to do his best to help the Astros reach that goal of setting the NL GIDP record next year….

If Miggy agrees to re-sign for real cheap this year to play 3rd, Johnson had best do his darndest to be traded because the fans think that absolutely NOTHING matters except for BA and low strikeouts and “enthusiasm” out there on the field. Especially when they are screwing up fielding…

#6 Brian Bogusevic   : the Astros 1st rounder in the 05 draft who will be 26 (the guy who was a GOOD college hitter who the Organization decided to make into a pitcher and stuck to it for 3 hideous years before letting the poor guy do something he actually could DO.) After tearing the cover offn the ball in AA in 08, he produced more pedestrian numbers at AAA this year, and, unfortunately, not much power, which is not good for a corner OF. He has played some CF, but lacks the speed and glove to displace Bourn, to put it mildly.

Over 520 PA in 138 G, he hit .287/.342/.365/.707 with 53 BB and 118 K, 22 SB and 3 CS. I know he’s old for a prospect, but it is really only his second year as a position player. I doubt he’d start the year as the 4th OF/DR, which means either trade/release or another year at AAA to try to learn to hit for power. I’d actually prefer him to Michaels/Erstad, but then again, I’d rather watch eager young guys than crappy old “clubhouse guys.” And I sure as heck didn’t see those supposed “clubhouse guys” doing much of anything last year. But then again, maybe I’m wrong and without The Gritmeister doing his Thang, maybe things would have been worse. But then again, if things had been much worse, maybe Drayton would have gotten rid of Cooper a LOT sooner…

#7 Ross Seaton : 3rd round pick in the 08 draft, 20 year old RHP. 2009 was really his first year, as he only threw 4 innings in 08. He spent the year in A ball, started 24 games over 136.2 IP with a 3.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP: 137 H, 50 ER/69 R (whoaaaaa, tells you a LOT about the crappy fielding) 11 HR, 39 BB, 88 K (which is 5.8K/9 IP, pretty low for A ball.)

He most definitely does not look like a guy who will even sniff the majors for a minimum of 3 years and I’m not real too particularly impressed with those numbers. As I’ve said before, only on the Astros where the guys have to pick SOMEbody…

#8 Tanner Bushue : 2nd round pick of 09 draft, 18 year old RHP who threw 22 innings at Rookie ball. And they were not hitless, walkless innings or all strikeouts or something which would make an 18 year old kid stand out in any way. 22 innings pitched in freaking ROOKIE ball – not AAA or something, and this kid is #8 on the Astros prospect list. I’m not making this stuff up. Maybe the guy will amount to something, who could POSSIBLY have any idea? After 22 innings????!!!!  I have NO idea and I don’t know how these prospect hounds made a decision like that after 22 freaking innings. Why do I think that he wouldn’t have made this list if he was the 40th round pick?

#9 Jay Austin : You’re not gonna believe this one neither. 2nd rounder in the 08 draft, age 19, CF. Just finished A ball, 397 AB over 101 games, hit .267/.320/.360/.680; 31 BB, 78 K, 23 SB, 13 CS; 1 HR, 22 doubles, 6 triples.

This guy is on the list WHY??? What the ****???? He beats out Koby Clemens, like WHY???? Not that Koby Clemens is exactly Teh Good, but still, Jay Austin???

#10 Jose Altuve : (will be) 22 yo Venezuelan second baseman who split the year between the rookie league and low A. He had a .916 OPS over 179 AB at the rookie level, but hit .250/.337/.316/.635 over 79 AB at low A.

sigh

I have NO idea why this prospect site picked the guys they did, unless they just decided to pick the #1 and 2 rounders for the past few years. However, I would like to know why Chia-Jen Lo, Koby Clemens and TJ Steele didn’t make this list. Just to name a few guys who were no question better than Tanner Bushue and Jay Austin.

I suppose I should say a lil something about the picking of a new manager.

I read that Ed Wade is pushing for 67 year old Jim Fregosi, who hasn’t managed in 9 YEARS and was a complete and total failure in has last 2 years (last job) as Blue Jays manager. He got less than zero from a decent pitching staff and basically nothing from his hitters either. He also refused to play young guys. Yes, I know that Fregosi led the 93 Phils to the WS and lost because he foolishly insisted in sticking with his shaky closer.

I’m sorry, but Fregosi is just TOO freaking old to be a ML manager, ESPECIALLY when you haven’t managed in 9 YEARS.

Remember the last 3 years of Felipe Alou managing the Giants? He was just too old, even for a 100% veteran team.

As for Manny Acta, yeah, I know he was in the Astros Organization for a long time and would be JUST the kind of yes-man Drayton likes, but Manny couldn’t manage to get anything from ANY of the Nats players and he sure as heck couldn’t stand up to ANYONE. He would have been the perfect guy to hire in the Baggy/Biggio years because he would have just left everything to those 2, who thought they should be running everything anyway and disrespected and undermined every manager the Astros had – maybe even Art Howe, who knows.

I simply don’t see ANYTHING to recommend Acta as a ML manager and this is NOT because he was given a terrible team to manage. It is because he clearly didn’t motivate his players at ALL and he was not any sort of leader.

I hear tell that the players want to keep Dave Clark – and if those players include Lee, Berkman and Oswalt, well, that is 90% of the battle right THERE because it is more important for a manager to get players to play hard and do their best than anything else. And after Cooper, a guy who the players CLEARLY didn’t respect of play for, it would be a most welcome change.

Brian Moehler Picks Up His Option For the 2010 Season

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

(to any of all yall who read the previous entry posted here, sorry – not sure how on earth that happened, except that maybe I am still not quite myself after being sick for almost a week…)

Anyway, the Astros and Moehler had a mutual option for 2010, meaning that either party could pick up the option, and Moehler wanted to come back. (I’ll be reviewing Moehler’s year in a later entry – the Astros Starters Review.) Moehler should be in better shape after having his knee scoped and fixed up.

I don’t really have a problem with this – he is satisfactory as a #5 guy/long reliever/spot starter and that is a VERY useful person to have on a pitching staff, especially IF the astros are serious about giving the young pitchers any sort of chance. Young guys are gonna have BAD days. Unless they are Roy Oswalt, and not everyone is Roy Oswalt.

3 mill is really not an excessive payment for a reasonably reliable swingman. Unfortunately.

I know I’m gonna hear about how I could fer SHER find some minor leaguer who could do the exact same job, but I’m gonna remind you about Bazardo/Wilton Lopez and ask if you REALLY think those guys are really reliable 5th guys/swingmen.

I will remind you that these days, fans are extremely demanding and don’t think that young players actually NEED development time, that they should all be Ryan Braun/Evan Longorias. Well, they aren’t – see, for example, Michael Bourn. Cooper didn’t want him last year (remember all the fuss about wanting him platooned with Reggie Abercrombie, replacing him with Darin Erstad) and the ONLY reason he didn’t get JR Towlesed is because he had Ed Wade in his corner. And Bourn most definitely improved this year. Not that he doesn’t have some holes, mind, never said he didn’t, but he surely did a LOT better than he would have if he had been sent back to AAA to rot in favor of The Gritmeister.

And, by the way, I SERIOUSLY doubt that Drayton is gonna fork out for some FA pitcher’s multi-year contract. He might could go after Ben Sheets, if he’s cheap enough, or try out Wesley Wright as a starter instead. Forget Lackey.

I get amused by all the people who INSIST that Drayton sell the team to some rich guy who has no interest in the team as a business – doesn’t care if he loses money – his OWN money every year, just so long as the team wins. Oh – and he will stay completely in the background and let baseball guys run everything.

Like, who IS this masked man? What billionaire really REALLY has no problem losing HIS OWN MONEY every year on a sports team?

After all yall find thismysterious guy, you mind giving Grady Sizemore my phone number? For once, I’d like to be shivering from some other cause besides this stupid virus…

 

10/7/09: Brian Moehler Picks Up His Option For the 2010 Season

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

(to any of all yall who read the previous entry posted here, sorry – not sure how on earth that happened, except that maybe I am still not quite myself after being sick for almost a week…)

Anyway, the Astros and Moehler had a mutual option for 2010, meaning that either party could pick up the option, and Moehler wanted to come back. He should be in better shape after having his knee scoped and fixed up.

I don’t really have a problem with this – he is satisfactory as a #5 guy/long reliever/spot starter and that is a VERY useful person to have on a pitching staff, especially IF the astros are serious about giving the young pitchers any sort of chance. Young guys are gonna have BAD days. Unless they are Roy Oswalt, and not everyone is Roy Oswalt.

3 mill is really not an excessive payment for a reasonably reliable swingman. Unfortunately.

I know I’m gonna hear about how I could fer SHER find some minor leaguer who could do the exact same job, but I’m gonna remind you about Bazardo/Wilton Lopez and ask if you REALLY think those guys are really reliable 5th guys/swingmen.

I will remind you that these days, fans are extremely demanding and don’t think that young players actually NEED development time, that they should all be Ryan Braun/Evan Longorias. Well, they aren’t – see, for example, Michael Bourn. Cooper didn’t want him last year (remember all the fuss about wanting him platooned with Reggie Abercrombie, replacing him with Darin Erstad) and the ONLY reason he didn’t get JR Towlesed is because he had Ed Wade in his corner. And Bourn most definitely improved this year. Not that he doesn’t have some holes, mind, never said he didn’t, but he surely did a LOT better than he would have if he had been sent back to AAA to rot in favor of The Gritmeister.

And, by the way, I SERIOUSLY doubt that Drayton is gonna fork out for some FA pitcher’s multi-year contract. He might could go after Ben Sheets, if he’s cheap enough, or try out Wesley Wright as a starter instead. Forget Lackey.

I get amused by all the people who INSIST that Drayton sell the team to some rich guy who has no interest in the team as a business – doesn’t care if he loses money – his OWN money every year, just so long as the team wins. Oh – and he will stay completely in the background and let baseball guys run everything.

Like, who IS this masked man? What billionaire really REALLY has no problem losing HIS OWN MONEY every year on a sports team?

After all yall find thismysterious guy, you mind giving Grady Sizemore my phone number? For once, I’d like to be shivering from some other cause besides this stupid virus…