Archive for December, 2011

12/21/11: Ed Wade OFFICIALLY Goes Back To Work For The Phils

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

No, that’s not sarcastic.

The only player we got in his trades to the Phils who is/was any good is Michael Bourn – and Geoff Geary, who was good for a year before he got hurt. Roy-O got us J Happ (who is crappy) and Brett Wallace (who doesn’t look as if his swing is gonna hit ML pitching) and Jonathan Vilar, who can’t hit minor league pitching – don’t ask me why he’s “the second baseman/SS of the future. Pence PLUS money went for Jarred Cosart (age 21 – lowish hits, low K, middling walks for a starter), Jonathan Singleton (a 20 yo 1B in A ball with an .850 OPS – higher at Lancaster, but everyone but Jiovanni Mier hits there) and Josh Zeid (crappy 24 year old reliever at AA).

I’ve been looking at Dan Szymborski’s 2012 ZIPS projections for the Astros and it is beyond bad. The only 2 players he predicts to have an OPS+ over 100 are Clank and JD Martinez. The only 2 starts he predicts to be over league average are Wandy and Bud Norris and Wandy is gonna be gone – the line of teams who want him include everyone except the Rays and Braves, who are pitching heavy, and the cheapos – I mean, “rebuilders.”

We know that to start the year, we’ll have Mary Jane Schafer in CF, JD Martinez in left, Jed Lowrie at SS, Clank at 1B (unless Luhnow can dump him), Jose Altuve at 2B and Jimmy Paredes at 3B – unless he gets hurt – CJ is toast, unless he kills the ball in ST and Paredes doesn’t hit at all.

We’ll have some sort of platoon in right and center with Jack Shuck, Brian Bogusevic and Jason Bourgeois.

Jason Castro is hurt again – he’s having a bone taken out of his foot – his right foot – the same leg which has the bad knee. It’s the same operation Jeff Keppinger had last year. So we have Quintero – who, with his 1 mill/year salary, is the 6th highest paid person on the team. And then Craig Tatum and Robinson Cancel, who are so bad that they make poor ol Towlsie-poo look like Piazza. Chris Wallace is having trouble hitting AA pitching. Of course, the fact that he outhit Castro at that level doesn’t mean a thing because Castro is still, far as I can tell, Mr. Golden Boy.

Only 3 good things I can think of are

1 – John Sickels, who is a tough guy to impress, thinks that Altuve is GOOD, and that he’s the real deal. 2 of my internet pals, who are very knowledgeable about the minors, agree.

2 – several of my internet pals, who have seen a lot of ballplayers come and go, all think that JD Martinez looks good.

3 – Bogu just may get a good opportunity to start and yeah, it IS a late start, but I sure would like to see SOMEone who was an Original Astros pick succeed besides Bud Norris.

I wonder if this year’s team is even gonna get 40 wins. I said that last year, but this year, I have a feeling it is gonna be close.

12/14/11: Melancon Traded For Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

There goes our closer – I mean, if they really CAN get rid of Brandon Lyon and his 5 mill salary. I hope Luhnow and gang can pick up some relievers on the trash heap – we didn’t even have a decent 8th inning guy last year. And I say trash heap because you KNOW they ain’t gonna pay for anyone good.

If not Lyon, I can’t figure out who among the pile of suck is going to close – and I have conveniently blocked from my memory (and don’t want to look it up) how many saves were blown last year. I looked at the 40 man and I sure don’t see anyone who I would want to give the ball to if I were the starter, let alone the manager.

Ah well…

Boston traded Lowrie (and Kyle Weiland – more on him later) and immediately replaced him with 35 year old Nick Punto for 2 years at 1.75 mill/year. They must not think real too much of Lowrie, replacing him with an older, more expensive version. And of course, they get a dirt cheap closer – that is, if he is going to be a closer.

Jed Lowrie is yet another utility infielder – hardly seems like Ed Wade is gone. I’m guessing that he’s going to be the 2012 SS, seeing as how Angel Sanchez is, uh, better suited for second. A few years ago, I thought that Boston was going to install Lowrie as their shortstop, to stop the revolving door of suckage that has been their SS position since the day they threw Nomah out on his ear. Nope.

Lowrie, age 27 (28 this spring) was Boston’s first rounder in the 05 draft, is arb eligible, earned minimum wage last year, and had an 89 OPS+ in 341 PA. He was called up in 08, was hurt a great deal of that year and the next 3 years as well. In the ML, had 306 PA in 08, 76 PA in 09 and 197 PA in 2010, posting ERA+ of 90, 20, 139.

He’s been a good hitter at AAA for an IF: over .530 PA, he has hit .273/.355/.465/.820. He played mostly SS at AAA, and he has played at second and third in the majors as well. He doesn’t steal bases and he didn’t in the minors, neither. He looks to have an average to below average glove at short and an average glove at second.

shrug

Well, if he gets hurt, as usual, we can put Angel Sanchez or Jimmy Paredes there. I guess.

Weiland is a 25 year old RHP starter, drafted in the 3rd round of the 08 draft. He split last year between AAA and the majors, called up for a couple of emergency starts in July, and then again during the September crash. He pitched 5 starts, going 4, 6, 4, 3 and 4.2 innings in those starts.

In AAA, he started 24 games over 126 IP: 108 H, 10 HR, 55 BB, 128 K: 3.58 ERA/1.27 WHIP. That’s almost 4 walks/9, 7.6 hits/9, less than 1 HR/9 and almost a K/IP. These are fairly close to his overall minor league numbers over 449 IP.

Don’t know whether or not he’s going to start or relieve – heaven knows we need starters, especially if Luhnow doesn’t manage to get any starters back for Wandy. But Boston, who was so desperate for starters at the end of the year, deem him expendable. Don’t guess they think he’s ML quality. But of course, neither is most of the rest of the Astros.

Oh, by the way, I see Richard Justice has left the Chron for mlb.com, where he’s wanted to go for so long. He actually IS a good baseball man, even if he does have this bizarre mancrush on Bud EFF Selig. Best of luck to the boy.

12/10/11: Ex-Stro Jason Lane Returns To The Bigs As A LOOGY/PH

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Seems like yesterday that Jason Lane was a great AAA hitter at age 23 who was more than ready for the majors, but spent most of his time benched in favor of some veteran. He crashed and burned after the 05 season, was traded offf the team in 07 and spend the next 4 years in the minors.

But he was a lefty pitcher in college – like The Rickey, he bats righty and throws lefty – and has pitched a few innings over the past few year – 20 IP over 12 games with a 4.12 ERA – 7 H, 7 R, 12 K, 2 BB.

The Dbax have signed him to be the lefty version of Brooks Kieschnick and Micah Owings. The boy will be 35 at the start of ST. Man I can’t believe he’s that old. Time flies. Good luck to him – it is not real too often a guy can come back after 4 years in the minors and succeed.

But it is baseball, and youneverknow…

12/8/11: In Which Albert Pujols Makes Sure He Gets To Keep Hitting At Astros Field

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

No more Cardinals for Uncle, no sirree. He’s just signed up to play in the AL West with the Angels for the next 10 years at 25 mill a year (and Lance Berkman gets to go back to first base) and he gets to learn how to hit at Safeco and the Coliseum, the only 2 places he hasn’t hit well (yeah, small sample size, I know…) He’s only hit .311/.387/.569/.956 here. I went looking for places where he didn’t hit well and I couldn’t find any.

Not surprisingly..

It’s going to be strange to not see him wending his menacing way to the plate any more.

No question, the best ballplayer next to Barry Lamar Bonds I have seen play – The Rickey comes in 3rd. I’m really glad I got to watch Uncle, in spite of his killing my ballclub, up close for 10 years.

I guess clubs had to give him 10 years, in spite of the fact that he’ll be 42 at the end of the contract and he’s not going to hit like Uncle for 10 years. I guess he’ll be a HR draw, or something. I’m not surprised he left Saint Looey if they were offering him 50 mill less. I wonder if they really wanted him to stay at all because they could and should have been working on an extension several years ago. I have this feeling that once Jocketty left, that Mozeliak had no intention of making Uncle a lifetime Cardinal.

And speaking of Saint Looey, Jeff Luhnow is our new GM – he worked with the Cards for 7 years.

He’s supposed to be a guy who can help build up the farm (here and I thought Ed Wade was the guy who was supposed to do that) and extend the Astros presence in Latin America (here and I thought that is what Ed Wade had already done).

He joined the Cards as a business buddy of the owner, a guy who knew nothing whatsoever about baseball (another Postolos?)- I heard that it was he who forced the exit of Walt Jocketty – heard it from a number of sources. I also heard that Luhnow was on the way out, anyway, as he was no longer farm director or even in charge of the draft. He was in charge from 05 to 09 – and let’s see who he managed to draft that was any good for the Cards, either playing FOR them, or used as trade bait for something good.

2005: a good year: Colby Rasmus 1st round, Tyler Greene (SS who makes Adam Everett look like Pujols) 2nd round, Mitchell Boggs 5th round and Jaime Garcia, 22nd round. I haven’t forgotten Nick Stravinoha, but he was awful.

2006:  1st pick a bust. Chris Perez, also 1st round – pitched decently for 1 1/2 years, had a hard time closing, disliked by TLR, traded for Mark DeRosa, who was gone at the end of the year and didn’t help them win. 2nd rounder Jon Jay, who replaced Colby Rasmus and his daddy. 8th round – Allen Craig, who made the team this year at age 26 and hit in the playoffs when he needed to. 12th rounder David Carpenter, traded to the Stros for the corpse of Pedro Feliz, who did nothing for his new team neither. 28th rounder Luke Gregerson, a good reliever traded to the Pads in 08 for the corpse of Khalil Greene (remember when he was good, cuz I sure do…)

total of 2 draftees who help/helped the club – CF Jay and utility guy Craig. A couple of other guys had cups of coffee, but didn’t succeed.

2007: 1st pick bust – a HS SS with a minor league .653 OPS; 2nd pick Clayton Mortenson, traded with Brett Wallace for Matt Holliday – DEFINITELY a win there. When is the last time Billy Beane made a GOOD trade, let alone a effing A trade? 3rd rounder Daniel Descalso – a good infielder. A couple of other guys with cups of coffee and no obvious future in MLB.

So we have a good utility guy who can play a solid 3rd base and a crappy pitcher traded for a GOOD outfielder who re-signed as an expensive FA, but helped them get a WS victory.

2008: first rounders Brett Wallace (well, he hit like a machine until he started facing ML pitchers) and Lance Lynn, a decent enough middle reliever. That is IT and no one else looks as if he’s going anywhere near the majors.

lousy – I’m seeing a downward trend.

2009: 1st rounder Shelby Miller, who has been a decent to good SP through AA, and is 20 years old. No one else looks like awesomeness. Of course I know that some guys take more than 2 years to develop and some guys, like Allen Craig, get a late start in the majors.

Fernando Salas was also signed out of the mexican league in 07 – if Luhnow was responsible for that, that’s a plum, but that is all on the ML roster for all the supposed Latin talent he is supposed to have captured.

I got an email from a reader with this link from Beyond The Boxscore, an interview with Luhnow a couple of years ago – click HERE to read.

12/6/11: No Friedman Now, No Wandy Soon

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Not exactly any surprise. The Rays released the following official statement: “Andrew chose not to be a part of the Astros’ process. It is in no way a reflection on the Houston organization.”

Right.

It’s like when you break up and you tell the hapless partner – it’s not you, it’s meeeeee. Really. But we can still be friends. Oh, the phone block – that’s just an accident. And that hot person you’ve been seeing me with is, uh, just a friend. Yeah, just a friend.

Anyone with any good Organization and any sense has turned down the Astros. Even Kim Ng has turned em down. It is true that Jeff Luhnow of the Cards is interviewing, but this is not surprising to me as I have heard for a few years that he and Mozeliak are, uh, different.

Fact is that unless you have unbelieveable luck (see the Rangers with the Teixiera trade), that a team with no solid major leaguers and no good minor leaguers and an owner who wants a MLB low payroll is going nowheres.

And speaking of solid major leaguers, Wandy has seen his last day in an Astros uni. Crane wants him gone (even the syncophants in the media are now chanting the mantra) and I would guess he’ll be traded as soon as Wilson and Buerhle are signed, unless, for some reason, Crane decides he’d just rather have the salary relief as Wandy is, believe it or not, cheap at the price he will be paid.

He also wants Lyon, Myers and Clank gone, and is willing to eat a good chunk of dough to get rid of them. I’ve suspected this for a LONG time, and I have received confirmation from some people at the Dallas meeting. We’ll see what the Stros manage to grab from the Rule V. The Josh Hamiltons are the exception, not the Rule.

sigh

This is really really depressing. I had to drive past the silent Minute Maid park yesterday – started crying, had to pull off at Tuam – couldn’t concentrate.

It’s just as well that despite my best efforts, my kids have no interest in baseball.