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Archive for May, 2011

5/31/11: Jordan Lyles Pitches Well In His First ML Game And Astros FINALLY Beat Carlos Marmol

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I was gonna say something about the Astros beating Carlos Marmol for the first time since he’d been a starter like 7 years ago, but I checked the game log and we actually beat him April 2010. But not by no SIX runs, that was UNbelieveable. Especially after Big Z did his usual beatdown of the Stros.

But I have to take my hat off to Jordan Lyles, who pitched incredibly well, clinging to a 1 run (Brett Wallace homer in the 4th – Brett was allowed to play seeing as how we were facing a righty) lead for 7 innings. He faced 27 batters and went to 3 ball counts only 5 times – and he didn’t walk anyone and averaged 3.4 pitches/batter. Awesome. He gave up a triple (Pence didn’t field a ball real too good) 2 doubles and 2 singles. Did I say NO walks?

He gave up a double to Geovany Soto to lead off the 8th, then screwed up a sac bunt by Tyler Colvin, throwing it way past third, allowing the run to score and Colvin to go to second. Although he was at 92 pitches, Mills yanked him immediately (remembering leaving Aneury Rodriguez in to get the holy youknowwhat kicked out of him after a fielding error on an easy out?) In came the lefty to get Fukudome out, then, naturally, in came Wilton Lopez, who promptly gave up a double to Darwin Barney, allowing the run to score. Blown save, no chance for a comeback W for Jordan.

Lopez Ks Starlin Castro (good, no running stuff) but then Millsie-poo has him IBB Carlos Pena and his .383 SLG. Seriously, what the HECK? Why face Aramis Ramirez? It’s not that his SLG is any better than Pena’s but he IS actually putting the ball in play for hits more – he has a .279 BA as opposed to Pena’s .217. If the setup guy can’t get out a crappy lefty, something wrong here.

So naturally Wilton throws a ball right down the middle to Aramis, who swats it into left and Barney scores easily.

sigh – Another crappy outing for Wilton, just when I thought he was going fine.

In comes Fernando Rodriguez, gets the last out and the Stros are losing 3-1.

Then, 2 miracles occur. The Cubs manager, Quade, pulls Zambrano, who is at 110 pitches – and Z could have EASILY gone another 20. You see, the Current Cookbook Of Managing, which relieves managers of blame, should anything go wrong, says you have to pull your starter for the closer unless he has a nono. Because that is what you pay closers for.

So out goes Big Z, win in hand.

In comes Marmol, who has a 1.10 ERA over 49 IP/37 games vs the Astros, and has a 1.17 ERA over 23 IP this year.

And Wallace singles. CJ doubles. Matt Downs, PH for catcher Robinson Cancel (toldja he was gonna catch Lyles) doubles in Wallace and CJ. TIE GAME!!!

Millsie-poo then has Angel Sanchez sac-bunt (man I hate giving up an out when it is someone like Marmol and the hitter is good. You notice he didn’t put Bill Hall in (I have a feeling that it is gonna be Hall, not Downs who gets moved when Bourgeois is ready to come back, unless for some stupid reason Fast Eddie won’t let him back. And I wouldn’t put it past Fast Eddie neither)…

Then Bourn gets his first hit of the night, driving in the go-ahead run. Then he steals second, naturally. Barmes walks (gotta admit he is good at that – can’t hit but he sure can walk) then Hunter Pence hits a 3 run homer on a high inside FB. Like Kit Keller, he likes em high. And inside.

Quade pulls Marmol, sends in Marshall, the setup man. Who gets Jason Michaels out. Michaels is teh SUKC this year, but I seriously doubt he’s be DFAd for Bourgeois, or for any other reason. Ex-Phillie and Veteran Presence, you know.

Keppinger singles. You notice that Keppinger is hitting fine. And fielding fine. And hitting with RISP.

Brett Wallace GO for the final out and Melancon gets 1,2,3 out and Astros have their 9th comeback win of the year.

Kewl.

Tomorrow, it’s our old friend lefty Doug Davis and his 6.75 ERA.

5/30/11: Astros Finally Face A Team Whose Bullpen Is Lousier Than Theirs And Break Losing Streak

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Hope all yall had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Sorry that posts have been so sporadic, but we’ve been having cable problems and that means no TV/internet because getting someone to fix the cable on a holiday weekend is like not possible (yes I AM writing from my Mama’s – how did you EVAH guess) . And I absolutely REFUSE to listen to Milo, who I swear is getting worse and worse every time I am stupid enough to turn on the radio broadcast. I never can figure out what inning it is, what the score is, who is at bat, the count, or any other such insignificant details – although the Clounzz are always happy to talk ALL about their golf game and the out of town scoreboard or some commercial or the new scoreboard.

I don’t have any reliable new news about the sale of the Astros, but I DO know that a supposedly very intelligent and VERY rich man has bought 49% of the Mets for 200 mill CASH. And that Frank McCourt has scrounged $$$ from SOMEwhere to make the Dodgers payroll as his ex-wife is demanding that the team be sold and the proceeds divided. And Bud is even CONSIDERING letting someone who had only 75 mill to buy the Astros franchise go ahead?

sigh

Back to games – Wandy went on the DL with some sort of elbow problem – I know teams always lie about this stuff – I didn’t notice anything wrong with his last start, but then again, teams always lie about this stuff. It’s possible something happened during his bullpen session. Fast Eddie must be cussin, as there goes one of his best trade chips – the ol WB has resumed his career pattern of uck-age, and really has no appeal to other teams, especially at his 10 mill a year salary.

And speaking of bullpen, ours again resumed its path of suckage during the Dbax series. After Wilton Lopez forgot how to throw home, Fulchino forgot how to not throw strikes over the middle of the plate, as J Happ finally pitched a very good game and came away with nothing to show for it.

Today, Aneury Rodriguez faced the Cubs, managed to go 4 innings, giving up 6 R/4 ER on 3 singles, 2 triples, a 2 run homer, 2 BB, 4 SB and 2 errors.  He got lucky because the Cubs pitchers/fielders were even worse – Rodrigo Lopez, who killed us last year when he was with the Diamondbacks (that team always kills us, I SWEAR, no matter who is playing/pitching) gave up 6 runs before he hit the end of the 5th, and the rest of the Cubs pitchers donated another 6 runs. OUR bullpen guys, Escalona, Del Rosario and Lopez threw scoreless innings and Melancon gave up only 1 meaningless run.

I would like to point out – smirking – that Jeff Keppinger, who Fast Eddie did his absolute darndest to get rid of last winter, who thought that Bill Hall/Clint Barmes would be SOOOOOO much better – has kicked some SERIOUS Fast Eddie butt. Since returning, he’s played 3 games and has gone

2 fer 5 with a 2 out RBI and none left in scoring position
1 fer 3 with a double, a walk and a run scored
3 fer 5 with a double, a 3 run homer, 4 RBI and a run scored

In 7 PA, he ALREADY has more RBI than Clint Barmes does in 105 PA.

Angel Sanchez (.643 OPS) has 18 RBI in 143 PA. Bill Hall (.616 OPS) has 13 RBI over 154 PA. Hall has been catching a lot of heck for his suckage – but Barmes should be catching just as much – he’s costing about as much as Hall and not providing any more value.

Will be interesting to see what happens when Bourgeois is ready to come back – I am eagerly anticipating Fast Eddie having to, uh, ahem – make, um, adjustments in the roster. For some reason, I bet he is having some trouble finding any trade partners for either Hall or Barmes.

Tomorrow marks the major league debut of The Much Hyped Jordan Lyles. He gets the fun of facing Carlos Zambrano, who beat the Astros earlier this year in spite of giving up 5 runs/5 innings because Nelson Figueroa/bullpen was worse. Jordan better not throw him no pitches down the middle…

The Cubs have a LOT of guys on the DL – Marlos Byrd, Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson, plus Sori hurt his leg and will be out. They still have Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, who ran circles around pitchers/catchers last series, and a new OF, Tony Campana, a Wesley Wright/Jason Bourgeois sized guy, who stole FOUR bases today. I don’t have any idea how good Jordan Lyles is at dealing with base stealers, but if he can’t hold guys, we’re in trouble if he lets those 3 guys get on base.

I wonder if Robinson Cancel (called up when Q got hurt) is gonna catch him – he’d know him from AAA. Cancel is a 35 year old AAA lifer with 43 major league games played over his 15 year career – last played for the Mets 2 years ago – in 29 games/44 AB, he hit .245/.288/.347/.635.

His lifetime minor league OPS over 3167 AB is .691. This year at AAA, he had an .815 OPS over 102 AB. I’m not holding my breath – he had a .916 OPS the year he had those few games at backup for the Mets. I would be extremely happy, however, if he is great at throwing out basestealers, because unless Jordan keeps em off base, they’re gonna be small ballin us to death…

5/28/11: Quintero Hurt In Home Plate Collision as Astros Lose To Dbax

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Just the other day, a Young Handsome Star Catcher was badly injured in a collision at home plate. Buster Posey was blocking the plate, waiting to receive a throw and the runner coming home barreled into him to push him off the plate. Unfortunately, Posey was balanced in such a way that he couldn’t move nimbly enough and he landed awkwardly on his ankle and it broke. It wasn’t in any way a dirty play or a bush move. Home plate collisions happen ALL the time, in spite of the fact that the rule book is quite clear about fielders not being allowed to block any base.

I want to point out, right now, that Brad Ausmus, no fire plug, was VERY good at tagging out runners without putting his body in the runner’s way such that a runner had to act like a football tackle.

I also want to point out that players AND fans, for the most part, have NO problem with the violation of the Rule Book which explicitly states that fielders may NOT block the base. You never see first basemen standing in front ot the bag – and imagine trying to push Prince Fielder out of the way to reach the base. Anyway, even GRRRRRLS playing baseball were into the dramatic home plate collision stuff – remember Kit and Dottie in the movie (guess it wasn’t exciting enough watching females have to slide with bruised bare legs)…

Anyway, the Astros were leading 6-0 in the 5th when “Astros Ace” walked a man, then threw a high outside FB to some AAA guy, who promptly deposited it in the RF bleachers. And 6-2 in the 6th when aforementioned ace walked a guy then threw a high outside FB TO THE SAME GUY WHO HIT IT OUT THE INNING BEFORE. And then it was 6-4.

And in the 7th, Wilton Lopez, made a crappy throw home and the runner from 3rd hit Q, who was blocking the plate – runners scored, Q on DL, Robinson Cancel called up from AAA.

ADDENDUM:

I thought this post posted fine until I noticed it didn’t and that most fo the post was missing – sorry. computer is having trouble – just like Bud Norris tonight – balking home a run – grooving a FB to the pitcher for a 3 run homer. Just like Bill Hall make another error (bobbbled the throw from Towles which would have caught Stephen Drew stealing – and maybe all those other runs wouldn’t have scored and youneverknow…

But that was the absolute best I have seen Zach Duke pitch in like 3 years – I thought he was gonna throw a nono.

Wandy got put on the DL with elbow problems (ohmi GAWD) and so phenom Jordan Lyles was called up ahead of the Super 2 deadline. Over the last 7 games, he thrown at least 6 innings and has had only 1 bad game in which he gave up 5 runs. In 3 of those starts, he gave up no runs, in 1 he gave up 1 run and in the other 2 he gave up 2 runs. In any case, he’s sure to get us SOME media – maybe an extra 5 seconds on BBTN, youneverknow.

It’s J Happ tomorrow, and I’m not holding my breath…

By the way – posts will be sporadic for a few days – comp[uter trouble

5/25/11: JR Towles Breaks Slump, Drives In Winning Run And Astros Take Series From Dodgers

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

OK friends and neighbors and fellow Astros fans (yeah, I know who you are and all 15 of yall can take that paper bag off your heads) the home boys have now won 2 of our last 3 games in the LAST at bat.

AND

no, I can’t believe that I am saying this, but the bullpen has pitched NINE scoreless innings over 3 games. Yes, you read that right. No, I can’t hardly believe it neither. In fact, the bullpen hasn’t blown a save/lead since May 17 when Fulchino grooved a FB to Brian McCann. Sergio Escalona is so far doing great as the LOOGY, Del Rosario has stopped throwing pitches down the middle/unmoving pitches, Valdez has hung in there, Fulchino has pretty much done well, Lopez has been solid since returning from the DL, Melancon has managed to get the outs even with putting MOB. I guess Jose Valdez will get the ax when Lyon comes back from the DL. You know that Lyon has a partially torn rotator cuff – not sure exactly how/why he would be so much better after 2 weeks when nothing is done to deal with the injury, but he’s making 5 mill a year, so he’s coming back.

No, I am NOT cynical – teams make a WHOLE lot of decisions based on who is earning how much, not merit (see Bogusevic vs Michaels).

Which reminds me – I’m glad that pinch runner Bogusevic (Brett Wallace had doubled on a drive to the Hill – woulda been a triple for anyone who could run, but hey, it turned out to be good enough) scored the winning run tonight – good memory before he was sent down for Jeff Keppinger because you can’t send down Veteran Presence Michaels. This is going to be, um, INteresting.

Check this conversation that Millsie-poo had with Brian McTaggart (of mlb.com) about the ritual benching of Brett Wallace:

“Houston manager Brad Mills said his decision to play the left-handed-hitting Wallace against southpaws is weighted against several factors, including how well he’s swung the bat against a particular pitcher” (like he’s had all these ABs against ANY ML pitcher – enough to have even a teensy bit of statistical significance ) “and if other players need some at-bats. Mills has put Carlos Lee at first base and started Jason Michaels in left field on occasion this year.

‘His whole career, coming up in the Minor Leagues, he’s hit left-handers extremely well with no problems at all, and he’s still having good at-bats up there against lefties,‘ Mills said. ‘As he progresses and gains more experience and continues to get batter, that’s not going to be an issue at all. If it is now, it’s trying to get other guys at-bats.’ “

I understand needing to play bench guys in left every now and then, but there is no excuse except for $$$ for playing Carlos Lee instead of Wallace at first.

Anyway, we’re gonna have 3 OF who are NOT gonna be benched – Clank, Bourn and Pence. We’re gonna have ALL these IF – Wallace, CJ, Sanchez, Downs, Kepp, Hill, Barmes – and of all of em, let’s be real here, only Barmes has a shortstop’s glove, even though everyone except for Wallace and CJ ”can” play there. Kepp can play 3B and he’s like Brooks Robinson there compared to how he is at short – AND he hasn’t taken balls/played short since starting his minor league rehab; he’s ONLY played second base – interesting, yes? He’s getting paid about the same as Hall and Barmes, so this time, it won’t be a money question – and we all know that Fast Eddie tried his darndest to get rid of, I mean, trade Keppinger before the season – until the foot surgery (couldn’t DFA him) – so we KNOW that he’s gonna want to trade/send down/DFA someone because Bourgeois, who can play second and OF QUITE well, is gonna be ready to come off the DL pretty soon. Sanchez has no options and Downs is hitting and hitting for power (you know, what Hall and Barmes were supposed to do but aren’t) and the only thing that Barmes does better than Manzella is walk. And waste 3 mill more in salary.

Where was I?

Oh yeah – funfunfun to see what is gonna happen.

Anyway, to talk about this series: yesterday, Bill Hall made an error to load the bases and J Happ promptly threw a fastball RIGHT down the middle for a grand slam. All the runs were unearned, but he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings on 3 hits and 2 walks and a ROE. For a guy who gives up so few hits, he sure gives up a LOT of runs. The guys didn’t manage to do real too much against Billingsley, and CJ and Bill Hall went ofer, although CJ did drive in a run with a sac-fly. I’m not blaming Hall for the slam, neither – Happ threw an unmoving FB down the exact middle of the plate. Not that I’m saying that Hall made up for it in any way with the bat…

Today, Aneury threw 6 excellent innings, giving up 3 singles, 1 walk and a solo homer to Matt Kemp on a hanging slider. Aneury is turning out to be a much better starter than reliever – fine with me!!!! He had the one terrible game where he freaked out after the errors and with the HP ump refusing to call a strike a strike, but he’s come back strong these past 3 games and youneverknow, he just might could do fine the rest of the year – he WAS a starter in the minors.

I was really REALLY surprised to see Millsie-poo let Brett Wallace face lefty Ted Lilly – I was expecting to see Sanchez or Matt Downs or Bill Hall at first, in left, who knows. But lefty Bourn led off with a homer – his first of the year – juuuust inside the fence just to the right of the RF bullpen (how kewl is that!!!!). He’s started 46 of the Astros 50 games so far and only failed to reach base in 4 of them. Hard to believe that his OBP is only .344.

Where was I? Oh yeah – Brett Wallace. Anyway, in the 6th, with Clank on second, CJ was IBB so that Lilly could face Wallace and he got him out. Guess this means that Millsie-poo benching him against leftys is a sound idea. Except that I’ve seen him K or GO or FO vs rightys with 2 out MOB. I’m so confused. Just like Millsie-poo.

The 7th was exciting – Towles was on 3rd with 2 out and tried to score (game tied 1-1) on a WP – and after watching the replay umpty times, I’m still not sure he was actually out. But he made up for it by hitting the walkoff single in the 9th.  Yeah, I know I’m rooting for the guy, just as I’m rooting for CJ, who went ofer 3 with a IBB. But they’re young guys and learning to deal with ML pitching and there’s hope – unlike the Old Guys.

Pence went 1 fer 4 – singled with Sanchez on first (Sanchez was playing SS today and didn’t mess up with the glove) but Clank LODP to 3rd to end the inning. Sanchez wasn’t THAT far off second, but he’s slow as molasses and couldn’t get back. It wasn’t really a messup – the ball easily looked as if it could have been a single to left.

Brownie and Deshaeis said that this is the Astros 8th walk-off win this year. Amazing – this team is so BAD and yet they’ve rallied in the 9th EIGHT times of the 19 victories we have. And yes, I AM thinking about where this team would be if the bullpen hadn’t blown 12 of 18 saves. We’ve only been shut out once this year.

And if I hear one more time how some baseball “analyst” writer/BBTN guy says how the Astros “have” to trade Hitter Pence, I’m gonna SCREAM. Seeing as how the big media teams already have all the best players, I’d think we should be allowed to keep ours.

Day off tomorrow, then the DBax for the weekend. Last time they were here, I actually saw a couple of people in DBbax tshirts/caps/jerseys. They aren’t worried about getting beat up, like Brian Stow – Stros fans aren’t like that. That is one thing I have to say about the Box – you don’t get that Dodger “fans” crap here – no one is threatening opposing fans (even C*bs/Yecchs/RedSux), no drunk, obnoxious, obscenity screaming people allowed. Actually, I’ve never even heard Astros fans “taunting” opposition players with endless screams of “you suck” let alone inappropriate comments about family members. Which is, far as I’m concerned, great. Even if there are now only around 10K fans, MAYBE, in the actual stands.

And speaking of Brian Stow – last month, That Evulllll Barry Lamar made a PRIVATE visit to Brian Stow and pledged to pay all college bills for his 2 children. Not do a fund raiser and get some OTHER people to pay. Not play golf/give a dinner party/sign memorabilia to be sold. nope. He’s paying out of HIS OWN MONEY. Himself. And we are not talking about a small amount of money here. Barry Lamar didn’t put any limit on where the kids could go to college – which means that if they get into Stanford or Harvard (not cheap) Barry Lamar is paying. Barry Lamar’s people didn’t tell the media – Brian Stow’s attorney did, don’t ask me why, seeing as how Baarry Lamar wasn’t seeking any publicity from this.

He’s paid for more than a few things out of HIS OWN POCKET (especially with the Childrens’ Hospital) which is a HECK of a lot more than the supposedly Better People Who Are Not Uppity Youknowwhats Do. (What Those Other People did is to make media people happy by not telling them in no uncertain terms that they are insulting them by asking moronic questions, demonstrating their massive ignorance of the sport they are covering…)

I know he’s supposed to be The Villain, but you know, people are complicated….

5/24/11: Bill Hall Hits His Way Back Into The Lineup

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Bud Norris threw 7 good innings. He had 2 outs in the 7th with 2 terrible hitters coming up. First, Dioner Navarro – ex Ray, who was gotten rid of when he wasn’t any good any more (Gerry H, you know) who hit an inside FB for a GR double. Then, for reasons completely unclear to me, Mills orders Bud to walk Russell Mitchell, a AAA guy playing 3rd because Casey Blake is on the DL – and Russell is hitting under MY weight, had looked BAD facing Bud in his 2 previous ABs – to face Clayton Kershaw.

Don Mattingly may not be the world’s best manager, but even HE has the sense to bring in a pinch hitter for the pitcher in the 7th with 2 on 2 out, score tied at 1.

So WHY, WHY, WHY put a guy who is an easy out on base in the first place?

I hate these POINTLESS intentional walks. Especially when Kershaw (yeah I know he’s the pitcher and yeah, he’s batting lefty vs a righty) is hitting better than the guy who was intentionally walked. It’s one thing to walk Jose Bautista to get to the next guy with 2 outs, 1B open. But a guy who can’t hit? It’s not like someone is setting up the DP – and even THEN, how many times have we seen that backfire?

IF I had any ability to use all this data, I would check and see how many times IBB a hitter who is NOT Pujols actually works. Interesting that Joe Girardi, who is taking some serious heat this year for having a roster full of Old Guys who aren’t playing like the 09 Yankees, had his pitcher issue 2 IBB in the same inning and lost the game. And he’s taking MAJOR stuff for that, too.

Anyway, Bill Hall went 4 fer 4 with 2 runs scored – Quintero drove him in once and Bourn drove him in in the 9th (atoning for a rare error) – he must have read my – who will be gone when Keppinger/Bourgeois are ready – paragraph, hunh?

The media is full of articles talking about how McCourt and his lack of $$$ is ruining the Dodgers and how Wilpon and his involvement, legal or not, with Bernie Madoff and gang, is causing the Mets to slash payroll as Wilpon disses his few good players, Wright, Reyes and Beltran. Guess he’s picked up some hints on how to spit on guys he wants gone, who are good but expensive, so that fans won’t notice that he’s gotten rid of anyone who is any good. And he and fans get to blame everything on Those Greedy Players and their HUGE salaries.

Interesting that Bud Selig and gang, who thoroughly disapproved of Jim Crane for 3 years, suddenly don’t seem to have a problem with him and his massive debt load. I can’t understand why on earth he would want an ownership group with massive debt and no money, unless the real purpose is to try to get evey team except for the Red Sox and Yankees to drastically slash payroll and force baseball players to take less money while the owners hide profit in the RSNs they are all forming, as well as their private ticket resale comapnies (see the C*bs). Which would make sense to me. Bud is one of the old cabal who participated in Collusion with the purpose of paying ballplayers the least amount possible and he’s the guy who mismanaged negotiations, which caused the 94 strike.

I know I’ve said this before, and I sound like an Old Person who wants dam kidz offn her lawn, but more and more it seems to me that MLB has been, for about 10 years, re-organized such that pretty much ALL media attention is focused on Yankees/Red Sox. Bud now wants to re-invent the playoffs with yet some additional game whose sole purpose is to ensure that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox ever again miss at least the first round. As well as the Interleague “rivalry” series, which are all cleverly scheduled to take place on weekends in late May and mid-June, so as to attract the biggest crowds – so that he can trumpet the Great Success of interleague.

sigh

This is why there is no balance in the schedules, why some teams have a significantly more difficult schedule than others, which is, to put it mildly, hardly a fair contest. Not that Bud and owners and Fox/ESPN care real too particular much.

sigh

It’s getting harder and harder to maintain enthusiasm for MLB, let alone the Astros. And this isn’t even discussing the HP umpires and their inconstant zones.

Today, J Happ faces Chad Billingsley, RHP – so at least tonight, we can be sure that Brett Wallace, our best hitter, isn’t benched in favor of the player who is vastly inferior but makes 40 times as much money. Kershaw pitched a magnificent 7 innings last night, only to get screwed by his lousy bullpen – hmmmmm, sounds like the Astros.

Billingsley has pitched well this year – 10 games over 62.1 IP: 51 H, 25 BB, 3 HR, 54 K, 24 ER: 3.47 ERA/1.22 WHIP and a .223 BAA.

The guy has gotten seriously Clemensed by his team – last 3 games he has gotten a L: 3 ER/6 IP; 1 ER/8 IP; 3 ER/7 IP. And the 2 games before that he had 2 ND: 1 ER/7 IP and 4 ER/6 IP. And the game before that he had a ND for 0 ER/8 IP. Wandy feels his pain.

Isn’t the game exciting now that MLB has deadened the ball to prove that Those Evulll Steroids are finally gone?

Anyway, we didn’t face Billingsley at all last year, so I hate to give previous stats when he face a completely different team. Hard to believe this guy has been in the majors since 06 – I remember when he came up – he was a first rounder and fans/media expected him to come up and be Roy Oswalt and never struggle. His early veteran-heavy teams led by Good Guy Jeff Kent didn’t want young players on the team – they wanted them to be either benched or traded for more Proven Veterans, but Bilingsley has hung in there and pitched very well every year except for 09. He’s posted more Ben Sheets numbers, in terms of Wins, than Roy Oswalt ever did, but too many people think that if some athlete doesn’t measure up to their fantasy/projection, he is a failure, even if he does WELL instead of Great.

Oh, and before I forget – kudos to Hitter Pence for driving in the winning run last night. I like how he’s been making a habit of this. I wouldn’t be real too particular surprised if Fast Eddie, under the edict to slash payroll for our new broke-ass owners, trades Pence and Wandy for a fistful of nothing (Phils ain’t got nothin good in their farm left to trade) as well as anyone else besides Clank who earns over the minimum. Then Crane can endear himself to fans by informing them that he’s not gonna spend any money until they all go out to the ballpark and waste time on money on Pirates V2.

5/22/11: This Time, Interleague Play Is NOT For The Birds

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

I’ve been so, well, Up Set about the thought of Jim Crane and his debt ridden buddies decimating my baseball team – yeah, I knw it’s hard to think of this Organization getting worse – that I have hardly wanted to think about it and just needed to chill a bit, seeing how my life would be with no baseball – well, that is, no MLB in it (because me n the kidz and Dogss DID go out and play Gray-style baseball a bit). Didn’t work real too good – in spite of hating interleague, I did check the scores a couple of times Fri and Sat and NO, I didn’t listen to Senile Hamilton, now tied with Hawk Harrelson and the Marlins guys for worst announcers in MLB. Does it matter if the announcers suck if the team does too?

Anyway, I STILL luuuuvvv me some Wandy and I checked during the 6th inning just in time to see him give up his second solo homer – man, those Grackles sure hit a lot of homers, don’t they – and finish the inning, leading 3-2. Last couple of times he’s left with a lead, he’s had nothing to show for it, but even though he was only at 90 pitches, he wasn’t sent out to start the 7th – Wilton Lopez pitched 1.1 innings and Melancon had a 1.2 inning save – left with bases loaded. Wandy must have had himself some SERIOUS blood pressure fer SHER there. I know I sure nuff did.

Of  note – are you ready for this? The bullpen did NOT suck for ONCE, well, actually, for THRICE – pitched 7 scoreless innings over 3 games, plus an inning in which Jose Valdez gave up a homer with the Astros already losing (the ol WB reverting to his normal lifelong suckage performance).

Anery Rodriguez managed to give up only 2 ER over 5 IP – he didn’t get freaked or flustered by umps/opposing players/his own team flubbing easy outs/his manager leaving him in to get stomped.

Wandy threw 6 innings, giving up 3 walks, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 2 singles and 6 K. Not his best performance, but still excellent.

Mills is continuing to bench Brett Wallace against leftys. Clank flashed great leather as the DH. Bill Hall was benched for 2 games in favor of Angel Sanchez, who went 3 fer 8 with an RBI, a walk and a run scored. He fielded just fine.

Barmes continues to uck-say with the bat as badly as Hall does, but he doesn’t have another ML SS waiting as Hall does with Sanchez. And NO, Keppinger is absolutely positively NOT a SS – and yes, he’s hitting fine at AAA. Gonna be VERY interesting to see what happens when Kepp (and Bourgeois) ready to come offn the DL. Now we KNOW that Bogusevic will have to go down to keep Jason Michaels – after all, look who is earning more money. Infielders are Barmes, Sanchez, Hall, Downs, Wallace and CJ. Downs is hitting. Sanchez is hitting (and has no options) and CJ has started hitting again and is fielding VERY well. Barmes + Hall = 9 mill. Barmes line is .211/.325/.324/.649 over 71 AB with 1 HR and 4 RBI (so much for the Tulowitski-like production) and Hall’s line is .221/.275/.336/.611 over 131 AB with 2 triples, 2 HR and 13 RBIs (so much for Jeff Kent-like production). Downs, in case all yall curious, is hitting .269/.339/.538/.877 over 52 AB with 11 RBI.

Chris Johnson had himself a great weekend, going 5 fer 10 with 5 RBIs and 1 run – including the game winning homer Friday night. Did great with the glove, too. Hopefully, now that his BA is back up to his weight, he’ll start gaining – although he still doesn’t walk near as much as he should – swings at too much stuff out of the zone.

JR Towles is in a terrible hitless streak – now at ofer 32 (last 7 games) which started when they put him in the 2-hole. Funny that the exact same thing happened with Brad Ausmus back in 05 – he was hitting over 300 with a bunch of walks and the rest of the team was, uh, not hitting and Phil Garner put him in the 2-hole and he went ofer 40. Weird. Fortunately for JR, Wandy likes him and there is no one killing the ball at AAA.

Michael Bourn went 5 fer 12 with 3 walks with an RBI and 3 runs. He’s been on base in every game he’s played except for 4. Pretty darn good for a leadoff hitter.

Hitter Pence had a great series, going 6 fer 14 with the game winning homer tonight (Wandy owes him a cold beveraege of choice)  with 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored.

Clank went 3 fer 13 with 2 runs. And a stolen base (the usual Clank kind where they don’t notice him because he’s so fat…)

Yall notice that there was a whole lotta hittin goin on. There was also a whole lotta leavin RISP goin on, too (Towles, I’m lookin at YEW): tonight, it was 1/12; Sat it was 4/11;  Fri, it was 2 fer 9.

Brett Wallace went 4 fer 5 with 2 RBIs. And he’s getting benched all the time with lefties because – WHY?

Bogusevic went 1 fer 9 and didn’t make what turned out to be a crucial catch on Sat – not that the game wasn’t already lost, but it just might could stick in the minds of certain GMs.

And it’s the Dodgers in town – tomorrow, it’s Bud Norris vs Clayton Kershaw.

Bud has faced LA twice – 2 GS over 10 IP: 10 H, 8R/7 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 10 K: 6.10 ERA/1.65 WHIP. Bud has been great at home this year – 5 GS over 33 IP with a 2.18 ERA/1.05 WHIP – so be it and shall it remain.

Kershaw is a lefty, so expect poor ol Brett to be benched. Anyway, he’s thrown 3 games over 17 IP vs Houston; 16 H, 9 ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 12 K; 4.76 ERA/ 1.24 WHIP/.258 BAA.

Matt Kemp is still killing the ball, so Bud had best not “challenge” him….

5/19/11: Astros Are The Worst Team In The Major Leagues

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

And tomorrow, when we go to play our great interleague rivals the Toronto Grackles (or whatevs) we will be at that magical mark of 15-30. Unlike 2005, we hardly need a tombstone because this team was dead and buried before the year began. It’s not like we have Berkman coming back, 3 ace pitchers, an ace closer and GOOD bullpen.

Really, what can I say?

Happ was OK – 3 runs on a solo homer, 2 runs on a single, walk and a double. 4 total hits, 3 BB, 8 K, 3 ER/6 IP. The Cards scored an extra run on an unearned run because of a Bil Hall error, but really, they didn’t need it. The Stros got 2 runs on small ball: one run on a Quintero single, WP, groundout, another WP (those are kewl – rare, but kewl and hardly examples of hitting prowess); another on a double, single and sac-fly.

Bourn, Wallace and CJ all went ofer – all that benching Wallace isn’t smart – but of course, this team is not exactly run by smart people.

Speaking of which Maury Brown, who writes the well known bizofbaseball.com, had this to say about Crane and the debt load.

But even though the onerous debt load would severely drop payroll and the amount of money would could be spent on the Organization – it just might could be Crane’s bad history with the EEOC and his discrimination against those ICKY wimmen, darkies and sech, as well as his destroying countless files to prevent further investigation. The New York Times, in fact, is running with the story. Bud might could be more sensitive to that kind of bad PR than he is to having yet ANOTHER franchise with severe money problems. Of course, a team with minimal money can’t pay ballplayers real too much, can they – and THAT is what is important.

Am not sure why the fans are so eager to see this guy owning the Astros. Drayton isn’t exactly perfect, but at least he HAS money and he DID spend lots of it on the ML team, if not the farm.

Anyway, back to games: I hate interleague ball – an idea whose time has gone. And Bud Selig wonders why there is so much less interest in the ASG and the WS.

Tomorrow, Aneury Rodriguez (who is reminding me of Pete Munro, circa 2004 and his inability to make it more than twice through the order) faces ex-Braves pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes. How many homers will Jose Bautista hit? Wonder how long it’s gonna be before people start accusing him of using designer steroids – hope the guy is insisting on a LOT of testing if he is clean. Anyway, Reyes was drafted in the 2nd round of the 03 draft – had a career high 116 IP in 08 before needing the usual TJ surgery. Was traded last year as part of the Ynuel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez trade. This year, he’s thrown 8 games ove 41 IP: 55 H, 3 HR, 12 BB, 25 K: 4.85 ERA, 1.61 WHIP.

Sat, we face Brandon Morrow, ex-first round pick of the Mariners in 06; they wanted him to be a closer. He wasn’t real too good, got traded to Toronto 2 years ago for reliever Brandon League and some monir leaguer, and has done decently as a starter when not on the DL. This year, he’s started 5 games over 26 IP: 22 H, 12 BB, 37 K: 4.85 ERA, (81 ERA+) 1.31 WHIP.

Sunday, Wandy faces Houstonian Kyle Drabek, son of ex-Stro Doug Drabek – the first “STAH” Fa that Drayton signed after he bough the Astros back in 94, remember? Anyway, Kyle was the Phil’s 1st round pick in 06 and he was traded to Toronto for Roy Halliday. Came up last year for a cup of coffee and has made the rotation this year at age 23 – he’s started 9 games over 50 IP: 48H, 5 HR, 34 BB, 35 K: 4.36 ERA (90 ERA+) and 1.64 WHIP.

Crane, Astros And Debt Load

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

From baseballthinkfactory.org -

I’m bad at explaining financial/money type stuff, so I have taken this question and answer from a poster who is a finance person who calls himself “Value Arbitrageur”

Question: It’s unclear if the $300 million in debt applies only to the team sale ($680 million) or to the payment for both the team and buying out McLane’s interest in the Astros’ regional broadcast network ($770 million). If it is the latter, than the debt percentage is around 38%, which might seem more reasonable.

Answer: Again, the percentage doesn’t matter, cash flow matters.

Imagine you are a bank officer, and in walks a construction worker making $50k per year who wants to buy a new ferrari that retails for $250k. He’s actually saved $100k for the downpayment, and just wants you to okay a $150k car loan with $3,500 monthly payments higher than his after tax income. You gently decline, and while doing so happen to point out that he’s putting in his life savings and still only has 40% “equity”. The next day he returns all excited, the Ferrari dealer has agreed to raise the price of the Ferrari to $350k, but credit him a “rebate” of $100k (shades of Frank McCourt’s purchase of the Dodgers). Now he triumphantly tells you, between his $100k downpayment and the “rebate” he’ll have $200k in “equity”, over 60%!

The debt percentage simply doesn’t matter in either case, ability to repay does and that’s driven by cash flow (and the repo man for the Ferrari). So if the Astro’s regional network kicks in a substantial amount of additional cash flow it can make a difference. But if McLane’s selling it for about 14% of the price of the team, it doesn’t seem likely to add much more than 14% more in cash flow.

It’s possible the lenders will take a risk here because they think it will be easy to sell the team for $300M + whatever interest they are owed if Crane defaults on the loan, but I find it unlikely they’d be going into a large loan like this with that the most likely outcome. Somehow the cash flow forecast has to reasonably support the debt so that getting repaid directly is much more likely than having to become a Repo Man.

5/17/11: Wandy Throws 8 Shutout Innings But Bullpen Blows Save

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Wandy was nails. No other word for it. NAILS. He gave up 5 singles, got 2 GIDP, gave up 1 SB and 2 walks and struckout 6 (seemed like more) – had all 3 pitches working great.

He left after 113 pitches with exactly 1 run of support, a Brett Wallace home run.

and Mark Melancon immediately coughed up the lead.

This is the second game in which Wandy has given up 0 ER over 8 IP and had nothing to show for it, poor guy. And this isn’t like 04/05 with Roger Clemens when I felt SURE than any day the hitters would come through – and unlike those years, for some odd reason, we aren’t getting shut out in spite of the fact that this team is incredibly worse.

I just don’t know what to talk about, I really don’t. Nothing good to say about this game. I certainly can’t blame Millsie-poo for not pulling his closer to put in Sergio Escalona (the requisite lefty now that Abad has been sent down) and nobody hit with anyone on base. Towles is ofer his last 5 games ofer 22 with 2 walks.

Fernando Rodriguez, RHP, has been called up – he was picked in the 18th round of the 03 draft by the Angels, 2011 is the first time in his minor league career that he has had an ERA under 4: he’s pitched 21.1 innings over 13 games with 11 H, 11 BB, 29 K, 3 R/2 ER: 1.29 ERA/1.05 WHIP.

Career AA (3 seasons) 305 IP (starting and relief) with a 4.52 ERA/1.45 WHIP

Career AAA (3 seasons) 155 IP – 17 GS, 50 in relief: 5.68 ERA/1.71 WHIP – 8 K/9; 4.4 BB/9; 1 HR/9

I’m not holding my breath, but hey, youneverknow, maybe they’ve finally taught him how to pitch at age 27. I’m all for older guys finally getting a chance. I was kind of surprised they didn’t call up Wesley Wright – hey you can’t nevah have too many leftys and he’s only given up 1 homer and 6 BB over 13 IP.

Tomorrow night’s game should be interesting – Busch Stadium – Bud Norris, Cards killah vs Kyle Lohse, Astros killah. Lance Berkman, in case you are interested, had a 6 game ofer streak which decreased his OPS to 1.313 – tsktsk

Except for his first start, Bud has gone at least 6 innings every start – last start vs St. Louis, he went 7 innings, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 3 R, no ER and a ND.

I don’t have any more news about the disaster that is Jim Crane. I’ve discussed it with several people and they’ve said stuff like – well, the MLBAM/RSN money will pay for the minimum payroll and the minimum farm and the rest will be for the debt payments. They’ve also suggested that Bud WANTS broke/bad owners as his true interest with what is left of his life is to FINALLY break player salaries. Well, he’s sure nuff getting that with Crane and gang, which I think just might could be the explanation of why Bud did NOT want Crane as an owner the last 2 times he tried and he’s suddenly had some sort of reversal.

I’m hoping that the NAACP makes a LOT more fuss – and also I wonder why his lawyer wife was suspended by the State Bar of Texas and is ineligible to practice law… I wish the Houston media wasn’t so limp about this whole debacle.

5/16/11: Abad Is Just Bad And Blows Another Game

Monday, May 16th, 2011

What is amazing is that the Astros managed to get 2 runs off Tommy Hanson from 4 hits, a walk and a ROE. Bourn, Barmes, Pence, Wallace, Hall and Quintero all went ofer. Matt Downs – of all people – provided all the offense tonight with a solo homer and a double, which drove in Clank who ROE.

The Braves weren’t exactly hitting like the 01 Mariners, but it was tough with the HP ump’s, uh, not real too consistant strike zone. He called a WHOLE lot of pitches on the outside black as balls and every now and then, to confise the pitcher, would call a strike on the exact same pitch he just called a ball – and he usually wouldn’t call pitches at the knees as strikes – although he called a pitch at Tommy Hansen’s ankle Strike 1 instead of Ball4. And we won’t count the number of inches off the plate – well, maybe 3 – that was Brian Bogusevic’s “strike 3″ – and all I can say is that I am getting tired of this crap.

I really don’t know whether the ball strike calls were always this bad or if it is just a LOT more obvious bcause of pitch Fx. Whatever, it is something that needs fixing a LOT more than we need instant replay.

sigh

I need someone to explain to me why Fernando Abad, who can barely get out leftys, was left in in the 7th to face 2 rightys. Why not send in Wilton Lopez BEFORE the go ahead run scores? I don’t get this. It’s not like Abad is this great lefty pitcher who kills rightys. How many games does the poor (swear word) have to lose? What IS it with Mills? He benches Wallace, who hits leftys better than rightys, against leftys. He keeps Abad in to face rightys when he can hardly get them out.

sigh

How many times can I type – well, at least we didn’t get shut out?

Tomorrow is Wandy vs Derek Lowe.

We all know that Wandy pitches better at home – but he’s had an absolutely TERRIBLE time at the Ted – 4 GS, 1 in relief, 20 IP with a 7.20 ERA. Checked the games in 2010 and 08: 5R/2 ER in 5 IP and 2 ER/5.1 IP. Which means I don’t wanna look up the carnage of his 2 previous starts. Let’s hope that curve curves. And that the HP umps don’t uck-say. And that the bullpen doesn’t blow it, as usual.

Derek Lowe, RHP has thrown 10 games 0ver 63 IP vs the Astros lifetime with a 3.43 ERA. Of course, that is over many years. Beat the Astros last year – 6 H, 1 BB, 1 ER/6 IP. He’s a groundball guy and we all know how much the Astros swing away. Actually, he’s pitching better this year than he has for the past few years in Atlanta – he’s lowered his H/9 and raised his K/9. Of course, it’s supposedly The Years Of The Pitchers – meaning that the steroids have all finally worn off after 6 years. Worn off the hitters I mean – not that the strike zone is weird or that the ball is deader.

And bad news, my friends – got told by people who know people that the banks have approved 300 mill in loans to Jim Crane to buy the team (Drayton is kicking in enough to get by the MLB debt load rule) which is seriously terrible news. All we can do is hope that Bud will turn this down or that someone will kick up fuss about all the leveraging. But probably not because it isn’t one of the glamour franchises and Bud doesn’t give a damm about that and neither do the networks and MLBAM won;t either as long as Crane manages to keep payroll above the unofficial minimum.

And don’t give me stuff about the farm/young players. Take a look at AAA – you see anyone on the roster who looks like ML material? Besides gonna be promoted no matter what Jordan Lyles? And Doug Arguello, who gets no props, don’t ask me why?

Now AA has 3 position players who look as if they have some possibility of getting somewheres – Wladimir Sutil, Brandon Wikoff (and I’m not holding my breath because he had a .580 OPS at Lancaster last year – THE best hitting park in high A) and JD Martinez (Jimmy Paredes is supposed to be a prospect, not sure why – doesn’t do much of anything very well, according to his stats, but you know how prospect people are) but the pitchers look like icky stuff – don’t get fooled by Urckfitz – he has a low ERA but has given up 13 RUNS and has a high WHIP.

A-ball Lexington has a few good hitters – and Jio Mier/De Shields are not among them – one OK starter, Tanner Bushue and one good reliever, righty Jason Chowning (28th round last year). But this is A ball and we’ve seen ALL kinds of guys kill A ball and then not be able to do well in AA.

Lancaster - high A – well, I can’t believe hitters’ numbers because the park grossly exaggerates offense, but there si one good pitcher so far – Jake Buchanan – 8th round last year – 7 GS, 49 IP, 0.93 WHIP.

We have no well thought of prospects in the farm. We really don’t, unfortunately. Crane isn’t gonna spend money he doesn’t have, neither.