Archive for January, 2012

1/29/12: OOPSIES – Roy Oswalt Has Not YET Signed With The Cardinals

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Sorry bout that – guess all the reports wuz rongggg. He’s apparently talking to the Rangers and – get this – the Astros?? He is no longer worth 15 mill a year, but he’s certainly worth more than minimum wage. It’s not that I’m exactly into Veteran Presence, but I’m going to be sicker than sick watching AA and AAA starters (besides Bud Norris) try to last 5 innings vs major league hitters.

I’m not sure that I do want him back if his back is so bad that he’s looking at minimum wage jobs.

I’ve been looking at Biggio’s records, now that he’s up for the Hall of fame next year. You know, in 1997, he created more WAR than Barry Lamar Bonds Himself?? Biggio was THAT damm good, and my last memories of him are of the 40 year old crotchety guy handing on for dear life to get to 3000 hits when he should have long since retired. I had almost forgotten how GOOD he used to be. I don’t want my last memories of Roy to be of yet another washed up starter or crappy reliever.

I want to remember the guy who stared down Uncle Albert every single PA, in spite of the fact that Uncle had a .906 OPS against. I want to remember the guy who pitched to Barry Lamar Bonds on Opening Day 2004, 8th inning, with the tying runs on base and the Astros leading 3 - 1.

That’s really the first entry I ever wrote – it’s was for David Pinto’s Baseball Musings. I remember how he talked me into blogging. I also see that very very few blogs on his sidebar are the same ones that were there in June 2004 when I finally started this here very blog.

Anyway, I doubt Roy would want to come to a 120 loss team. He wanted OUT just 2 years ago because it looked like a 100 loss team and he as tired of the attitude. It’s not like the attitude has improved, and there are fewer good players. Roy always SAID he would not want to hang on forever,long after he’d lost his stuff, but of course, it’s easy to say that when you are a 24 year old ace on a good team…

1/28/12: Cardinals Sign Roy Oswalt And Astros Sign Zach Duke

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

There’s an old country song goes something like – All Mah Exes Live In Texas. There’s a new Astros song goes something like – All The Astros Done Left Texas. Berkman and Oswalt re reunited in Saint looey, Pence is in Philly and Bourn is in Atlanta. Goodness know where Wandy, Clank and the ol WB will end up by the beginning of the season.

We’ll have a champeen rotation consisting of ace pitcher JA Happ, solid pitcher Bud Norris, um, and, I guess, Lucas Harrell and/or Aneury Rodriguez and/or Henry Sosa and/or Zach Duke.

Guaranteed 120 losses, looks like.

Zach Duke – my GAWD, seems like yesterday that he was gonna be an ace for years. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 01 draft, called up in 2005 at age 22,  started 14 games over 84 innings with a 1,81 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP and a low K rate of 6.2/9 IP.

The low ERA wasn’t sustainable because of the low strikeout rate and although he threw 34 games over 215 innings in 06, his ERA jumped to 4.47 and his WHIP to 1.50. He continued to post mid 4 range ERAs, low strikeout numbers and high WHIPS because of his high BABIP numbers. He had a somewhat better season in 09, but 2010 was dreadful – he had a career high 5.72 ERA with 29 GS over 159 IP with a 1.65 WHIP.

The Pirates finally gave up on him and traded him to the Diamondbacks for some guy. He started 9 games and relieved in 19 more, posting an ERA of 4.93 and a WHIP of 1.57. He just doesn’t strike out enough hitters – he’s draopped all the way to 3.7 K/9. His walk rate of 2.2 is great, but coupled with a hit rate of 11.9/9, that spells failure.

He’s Kirk Rueter extra Lite.

Man this year’s rotation is going to be simply awful. And you don’t even want to start to look at the dreck that composes the bullpen.

120 losses, here we come.

1/24/12: Astros Hire Ex-Hardball Times Stat Geek Mike Fast

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I know Mike Fast from our years together at The Hardball Times. Which reminds me – our Player Forecasts and comments are coming out soon – be sure to check it out. We have lots of smart people besides me helping out and stats genius Brian Cartwright’s OLIVER projections are awesome for this year’s fantasy players. And for people who want to read comments on players.

Where was I?

Oh yeah – Mike has done tons of work with pitch f/x and hit f/x – he left THT a couple of years ago, but you can check out everything he wrote for THT. I can’t link to his stuff over the past few years because they are behind the paywall at BPro.

This is the first good thing Luhnow has actually done. Mike is teh awesomeness. But he’s coming to work for a team on death row, and I guess you gotta start somewhere.

I seriously wish Mike all the best – he’s a very nice guy – and hope he isn’t disrespected.

Oh yeah, on a different topic – I see that Crane is going to let people bring in a bottle of water and food in a clear plastic bag. And lower the price of the cheap seats from $7 to $5. Along with the other sections that people really don’t want to sit in. I wonder if he’s going to have the ushers really police the sections – everyone HAS to show tickets in every section, even in that empty place.

Letting people bring in food and water isn’t gonna win over us hardcore fans, tell you that.

1/18/12: Astros Sign Jack Cust To DH One Year Too Early

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

I can’t find an article on this anywhere, but Brian McTaggart has tweeted that the Astros have signed Jack Cust, a guy who can NOT field at ALL, to a 1 year deal plus an option.

He’s one of those TTO (Three True Outcome) guys that the moneyball guys used to fall all ovah BITGOD – he walks a lot, strikes out a lot, homers a lot, can’t run a lick and has a lead glove.H e was drafted in the first round by the Dbax in ’97, got drooled all ovah by the stat geeks, but not by the Dbax Organization, who traded him to Colorado for a LOOGY. He spent the next 2 years in their monors, except for a cup of coffee, in which he stank. He was traded to the Orioles in 03 for some 4th OF – seeing as how the NL teams realized right quick that a DH is a DH.

He hit very well in his first serious ML callup – an .878 OPS over 85 PA, but then he seriously derailed his career with his infamous baserunning screwup when he was with the Orioles back in o3. This got him a 3 year stint strictly in the minors. He was signed as a minor league FA with the Athletics (his first stint) in 05, then as a minor league FA with the Padres in 06, in which he had a 1.016 OPS at Portland, but got only 3 ML ABs. He remained with the Pads, in their minor leagues to start 07, but was traded to the Athletics because they needed a DH.

You notice I keep talking about DH, right?

Anyway, he had a .912 OPS in 07, a .851 OPS in 08 (when he broke the K/season record, which would soon be shattered by Mark Reynolds) and a .773 OPS in 09.

The Athletics, who didn’t exactly have a roster full of hitters, didn’t want him back in ’10, but ended up with him as a minor leaguer – he went up and down during the year, as they didn’t have anyone else who could, you know, like HIT, and he ended up posting an .883 OPS, with a .272 BA, his highest as a major leaguer, over 426 PA.

They really REALLY wanted nothing to do with him last year – he signed with the Mariners, didn’t hit at ALL, a .,673 OPS over 240 PA, then was released. He played in 6 games as a Phillies minor leaguer, went 5 fer 20 with 2 doubles, a homer and 3 walks before getting released. Which reminds me – I want to know why suddenly guys can’t hit at Safeco. Remember it was just a few years back that they had Edgar Martinez and Griffey and ARod and Bret Boone and Johjima all killing the ball? Why can’t even a hitter as good as Adrian Beltre hit there any more?

And here, the Houston Astros, who definitely do NOT need a DH this year, have signed him to a ML contract. He hasn’t played 6 full years in the majors even at this time and is considered a 3rd year arb player, believe it or not.

You notice I keep talking about DH, right? Well, he’s played 670 ML games, 1725.1 innings and has 10.7 total WAR and a negative 2.9 defensive WAR (meaning he’s bad.) He has a negative 42 runs saved above average (per Sean Smith, bbref) and a negative 29 Total Zone total fielding runs above average. To compare, Michael Bourn, back in 2010, had 1189 innings, and his respective numbers were PLUS 25 and PLUS 16 – and you notice how many fewer innings we’re talking about. You don’t want to even hear about his fielding percentage or range factor – or the lack thereof.

To summarize, he’s worse than Clank at his worst. Remember Mike Lamb trying to play LF back in 05 (shudder) or Biggio in left in 04? That’s what I mean by DH. I’m hoping they intend to use him as this year’s lefty PH, unless he’s going in the minors. I don’t know what this means for JB Shuck or Bogusevic, but what can I say?

Oh yeah – before I forget – Cust was named in the Mitchell report. He denied it all, and was apparently believed – at least nobody called him before Congress to defend himself or accused him of perjury because he dared to disagree with George Mitchell’s report. Interesting that Roger Clemens didn’t get the same treatment, isn’t it?

1/16/12: Mets’ Trash Is Now Astros’ Trash, I Mean Treasure

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I know this news is a few days old, but it’s been beyond difficult to keep the slightest bit of interest in this team this winter. The last time I was this out of touch, it was 10 years ago and I was pregnant and sick. Now, I’m just sick n tired.

Crane and Luhnow are importing some of Luhnow’s people from the Cards’ Organization. I had heard that Luhnow was a very, uh, polarizing (ahem) person, to put it mildly, so I guess his guys are coming with him. The usual stuff. Crane invited season ticket holders to have a meeting. They called people who have NOT renewed and have told salespeople they are NOT renewing. I listened to Mama trying to be polite to a salesperson. I asked her if she was going to the meeting. She said – whatever for? Even IF I could be talked into re-upping, which I can’t, you can’t seriously think they have the slightest interest in what I or anyone else thinks. They are going to tell the same old bunch of lies they always tell. Like the old song goes, second verse, same as the first, and I won’t get fooled again.

sigh

Who is next – or maybe Who is already on first. Hard to tell these days.

Where was I? Oh yeah -

Millsie-poo got told who his bench coach was gonna be every year he’s been manager – this is his third, can you believe it? Anyway, Al Pedrique is out (not that it matters – he was an Organization guy given a plum) and a guy you never heard of from Saint Looie is in. You’d think that a manager could at LEAST have a say in who his best buddy on the coaching staff is gonna be, but nope. Not that it matters, appears like.

We picked up ex-prospect Fernando Martinez on waivers. I remember it wasn’t but a few years ago that Mets fans were all excited about this guy – the next great OF. He was an expensive 16 year old lefty bonus baby, a CF with great range and arm and supposedly power who was picked up by the Mets in 05. He was ooohed and aaaahed over, and played in the Futures Games in 07 and 08. Of course, that was 3 and 4 years ago, and since then, he had 290 PA in 09, 325 PA in ’10 and 273 last year.

He has 145 PA in the majors over the past 3 years with a .540 OPS.

He had a .791 OPS at AAA (International League, not the PCL where there are high BA and SLG) but he doesn’t walk – 46 BB, but 43 doubles and 28 homers over 646 ABs. He doesn’t steal bases, never has, not sure why. Had 158 K – not great, not terrible.

But he has spent a good deal of the past 3 years on the DL – has knee problems and can’t play CF any more. Not sure if he can play RF, but JD Martinez sure nuff can’t and I would guess he isn’t going to have much competition for his spot.

shrug

The Mets aren’t exactly overloaded with great outfielders, and/or prospects and they don’t think Fernando can hit ML pitching. We’ll have to see. And it’s not like our AAA team is overloaded with great outfielders, neither.

By the way, speaking of outfielders – lots of mainstream talk about Clank maybe getting traded. Wonder how much Crane is gonna eat of THAT deal. I guess they are waiting to trade Wandy after seeing how desperate other teams are for a good lefty pitcher, and yes, Wandy IS a good lefty pitcher with a very reasonable contract. I keep hearing that he is DEFINITELY gonna be gone before opening Day, but it might could be that they will wait until the trade deadline if they want something back and not just a straight salary dump, because they could do that without any trouble.

1/10/12: Once Again, Bagwell Can’t Get Into The HOF Without A Ticket

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I’m not surprised. I’m trying not to be disappointed. But I can’t help but be disgusted. He’s not being kept out because of his numbers, or his play. He was a genuine 5 tool player until his shoulder finally disintegrated.

No

It’s that some writers have decided that anyone who lifted weights or worked out during the steroid era could only have done so by using anabolic steroids. And we all know that males can’t put on muscle mass by lifting weights unless they also shoot steroids.

sigh

Remember a few days ago, I posted that Biz of Baseball writer Maury Brown posted on facebook that he felt sorry for Astros fans and Astros employees, and refused to elaborate?

Well, today, it was announced that Keith Law, who used to do stat work for the Blue Jays before he converted to scoutism and went to work for ESPN, turned down a job in the Astros Organization. Maury says – Keith is a smart man. And once more, he said he wasn’t gonna say any more about it.

I’ve tried to find out more about what is going on, but I can’t. Jim Crane has sealed up leaks and Luhnow’s conferences sound like Tim Purpura’s old ones. I have heard from pals who are involved with other teams that Wandy is very much for sale. I have absolutely NO idea how Crane could possibly improve this team without spending money, seeing as how it can’t be done by spending in the draft any more.

I also haven’t been able to get any info about the new Astros/Rockets RSN which is supposed to start next year, whether or not it will be carried on all cable channels, let alone DISH or Direct TV. I can’t see how on earth they are gonna make more money per year from this than they would from FOX, and Crane is so overloaded with debt, I can’t see how he’s going to spend any of that money on good players.

sigh

Trouble is that we Houstonians and Astros fans were plain unlucky. Bud is focused on getting the Dodgers sold, then, obviously, the Mets, and the fact that the Astros have been shoved to the bottom of a cesspool is no concern of his.

Oh yeah – he’s NOT retiring at the end of his term, he’s going to stay on for 2 more years, no surprise.

I know how they felt in Montreal. You know they were pulling in 3 million people a year the year of the strike and 7 years later they were dead. 6 years ago, the Astros were pulling in 3 mill fans a year, won the pennant, and are now Terry Schiavo on life support, and the plug ain’t getting pulled for at least 18 years.

It’s going to be weird going to Opening Day without Mama. Yes, I’m going – it’s my last one. She’s returned to the team of her childhood, St. Louis. She told me – child, when your face gets punched in and urinated on, it’s time to leave the abuser and get a divorce, you don’t wait around to see if he will change because he loves you, because he doesn’t.

Maybe it’s for the best that I wasn’t able to, in spite of my best efforts, to get my kids interested in baseball. They like playing it (or I should say, a baseball-like game played with ball, bat, fake bases, fake runners and fake fielders) in the yard with me and Dog Pappas, who is a good fielder, but has Mackey Sasser Syndrome in which he has a tough time returning the ball to the pitcher once he catches it.

Ah well, you always hear it is a kids’ game – maybe I should remember that…

1/7/12: Evaluating Ed Wade’s Drafts 07-11 Part 1

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Hope all yall had a Merry Holiday and a Happy New Year. Despite this being the worst virus season I can remember, we all managed to have at least a holiday.

Now, down to business:

First, to revisit The Hated Tim Purpura’s drafts of 05 and 06 and remembering that he wasn’t permitted to sign “signability” guys or to go over slot:

2005: first rounder Brian Bogusevic – whose career may have been seriously screwed because they development people insisted that he pitch. He has a GOOD college hitter, but I guess they figured they had another Tim Hudson (yes, small as he is, he was a GOOD college hitter). He SHOULD have been a very solid ML outfielder instead of a 4th OF type – youneverknow, maybe this year he’ll finally get his due.

Tommy Manzella made the majors, too, but was derailed by a wrist injury and replaced by Angel Sanchez, and he never again got a chance.

Of the remainder of the guys who signed, and they signed all but 1 of their top 10 picks, and he never went anywhere: 4 reached AAA and 2 of em, Brandon Barnes and Koby Clemens are still with the Astros, but are not major league material. They are not really even AAA material. 6 of em reached AA, and only one is still playing OB. Remember Josh Flores, who tore UP the Carolina League in 07? Gone.

Interestingly enough – the 46th round pick, who did not sign with us, Wes Musick, signed with the Rox in 09 in the 9th round, and came back to the Astros minors last year in the Matt Lindstrom trade – he’s a starter/reliever at high A, at age 24. Not that I see a major leaguer here.

2006: 4th rounder Chris Johnson and 6th rounder Bud Norris made the majors. Bud is a solid Ml pitcher and CJ – well, he had a good half year, which is more than lots of guys get.

Of the remainder of the guys who signed, only Sergio Perez made AAA – he’s spent most of his career hurt or recovering from injuries and he didn’t have a good year last year, so who knows if he’ll get another chance.

The only other player who is still with the Astros is AA player Jimmy VonOstrand, who finished his 3rd straight year at AA – killed the ball, just as he did in 2010. I’m not sure why he wasn’t promoted after 09, but he wasn’t, now he’s 26, and he may get to AAA, but he’s “old” and was an 8th rounder, which means nobody cares.

2 major leaguers from one draft isn’t terrible, but on the other hand, no one else was useful in any way, not even as a trade chip, and no draftee succeeded with any other Organization, including those who didn’t sign with the Astros.

And this was the year that Drayton wouldn’t trade any FA to be, or offer arb to any FA to be who would get a big contract from someone.

2007: this was the year that Drayton signed Clank and Woody Williams and forfeited his first 2 picks, then refused to give Derek Dietrich or Brett Eibner one penny over slot for the 3rd and 4th rounds.

The only useful player drafted whether or not he signed with the Astros or with some other team some other year, was Matt Cusick, a 10th rounder, who was traded for LaTroy Hawkins.

Collin DeLome, the 5th rounder, made it to AAA, where he plays OF and has a .750 OPS. Not ML material. The only other player still with the Astros is 20th rounder Kyle Greenwalt, now age 22, who pitched 71 lousy innings at AA in 2011. Shrug.

So

Did Fast Eddie and Bobby Heck do any better in their drafts?

2008: First rounders Jason Castro, The Golden Boy, spent last year on the DL, still has to show he can hit ML pitching and block pitches, and Jordan Lyles. Lyles was called up at age 20 and managed to survive. He would have been left to finish the year at AAA in a better Organization, and he has no bullpen to back him up and not much in the way of bats.

6th rounder, J.B. Shuck, made it to the bigs last August, surprising pretty much everyone. He’s a 4th OF with a decent glove, who makes good contact and, for an Astro, has good strike zone judgement and doesn’t flail away at crap. He’ll take a walk, too. He just may make the team as the 5th OF this year, seeing as how Fast Eddie isn’t here to re-sign his True Love, Jason useless Michaels.

2nd rounder Jay Austin, age 21, is still considered one of the Astros top 10 prospects even though he had a .683 OPS at hitters’ paradise Lancaster. UCK.

3rd rounder Chase Davidson did not sign, went to college, and was the Astros last pick of the 2011 draft (the boy lost some $$$ there) and tore Up the rookie league – not sure why he was started there.

3rd rounder Ross Seaton, age 21, heavily pimped pitcher, was thrown to the wolves at Lancaster, seriously stunk, was promoted to AA, stunk again – 5.23 ERA/1.39 WHIP – 5.63 K/9, 1.10 HR/9, 2.73 BB/9, 10 H/9.

4th and 7th rounders TJ Steele and Jonny Gaston both stunk up AA with bat, although they both are supposed to be glove men.

5th rounder is OOB

8th rounder Brad Dydalewicz, who was supposedly one of those signability guys who got paid second round $$$ is still in A ball – he posted ERAs over 10 for the past 2 years, and only threw 30.2 innings this year – either he’s hurt or OOB.

48th rounder reliever Danny Meszaros made it to AAA – strikes out a lot of guys, but unfortuantely gives up way too many homers and walks. He’s 26 already, doubtful he’d get to the majors. It’s incredible that he made it to AAA.

There are several other non-descript players who finished 2011 in A ball of AA who do not appear to have any chance of making AAA, let alone the majors.

2009: 20th rounder JD Martinez made it to the majors last summer – looks as if he has a very good chance of staying.

1st rounder Jiovanni Mier is still, for some reason, on Astros top prospect lists, even though by now it should be apparent that he can’t hit his way out of a paper bag, even at Lancaster. He’s a great glove guy (supposedly) in spite of making tons of errors. Another one of those signability guys, I suspect. I’m not sure why he was even considered a first rounder by anyone.

The next 3 guys, Tanner Bushue (RHP), Telvin Nash (he gots the powah but he strikes out like 40% of his PA) and Jonathan Meyer (3B who hits like a SS): (BJ Hyatt didn’t make it out of rookie ball) are still in A ball.

The 5th rounder, Brandon Wikoff is another Tommy Manzella – a SS who doesn’t hit for power, and hit well at AA – .308/.398/.353 – yeah, 6 doubles and 3 homers in 331 AB.

7th rounder, Dallas Keuchel, started 20 games in AA with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP – trouble is that his strikeouts are 5.6/9 IP and unfortunately, that isn’t quite high enough. He reminds me of that groundball guy who had a good year the first year we had an inkling that Bud Norris might just be good. He threw 7 lousy games at AAA – no unearned runs – too many walks and homers and not enough Ks  3.75/9 IP over 31 IP.

13th rounder, Jake Goebbert, OF made it to AAA where he posted unimpressive numbers: in 103 PA, a .760 OPS. He could use more AB, but his OPS has been in the low 800s since he started in the minors – hardly tearing it up. But we’ll see because youneverknow.

Part 2 later.

Sorry no posting for a few weeks. Been trying to find SOMEthing good to say. And I can’t.

Maury Brown posted on facebook a few days ago – “I feel sorry for those working, and rooting, for the Houston Astros. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.”. He wouldn’t tell me what he was talking about, but he’s done a LOT of looking into the Astros with the sale and coming from him, that’s NOT good. Someone commented – well, at least we’re rid of Drayton, Tal and Fast Eddie. Maury said – “.you’d be surprised how much happened the past 3 years that had nothing to do with at least two of them.”

sigh – gee I wonder who THAT was. Yes, sarchasm…

And it sure looks as if Bagwell isn’t getting anywhere near the HOF again. Too many people have decided he deserves the steroids suspect tag. Unlike the supposedly “clean” people. Check out Chris Jaffe’s take on this year’s election at The Hardball Times. Barry Larkin looks to be the only one who is gonna make it in this year. The attendance at the museum has been decreasing steadily, and refusal to induct good players because of suspiscious minds sure isn’t helping the Hall’s bottom line…