Archive for March, 2012

3/31/12: In Which Jordan Lyles Lost It

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The boy had to pitch his way onto the starting rotation today and, to put it mildly, he didn’t. He hasn’t shown much of anything this spring, period.

He faced the Yankees, who put 4 legit big time hitters on the field – Granderson, Cano, Teixiera and Ibanez – all leftys, you notice (yes I know Teix is a switch hitter) and by the end of the first inning, they led 2-0 on 3 singles and an RBI groundout. He held on through the minor leaguers in the second, as the Astros managed 4 runs against the Adam Warren, the minor league pitcher the Yanks threw out there.

Lyles coughed it back up in the 3rd – nothing terrible – 2 singles, a walk, a passed ball and a sac-fly, but there went another 2 runs. Stros game him back the lead with 3 singles and a run. He made it through the 4th facing the minor leaguers.

Then, bad stuff happened. The leftys were facing him the 3rd time, and he had nothing left and I guess they read the ball just fine because he gave up a double, a homer another double and another homer. Then  HBP, 2 flyouts, and I guess he had reached his pitch limit because Carpenter came in and got the final out.

Did I tell you Bill Hall was playing with the Yankees Organization? He struck out – no surprise.

Anyway, we got 2 innings from a minor leaguer named Ruben Alaniz, who gave up 1 run over 2 IP, Brandon Lyon gave up his first run(s) in, I think, 10 games, on consecutive solo homers. Fernando Rodriguez pitched 2/3 of the 9th before the game was called because of rain – the Astros didn’t care. Which is the nice thing about Spring Training – when it rains and you’ve seen what you want to see, it’s OK to go home, even if you’re losing.

No official notice that Lyles is starting the yeat at AAA just yet, but Luhnow is known to be looking frantically for a starting pitcher, not sure what exactly he’s going to offer.

Bogusevic is starting to hit and hit well. Shuck and JD Martinez are still slumping badly. Travis Buck is still hitting (he always does in ST, by the way.) Luhnow/Mills actually said something about worrying that Lowrie won’t be ready for Opening Day (what a surprise) so I am even more sure that that they are going to hold onto Marwin – they are calling a guy hitting .184 “intruiging” – okayyyyyyyy.

Clank and CJ hit solo homers and Justin Ruggiano had his first good game, hitting a 3 run homer and an RBI double. And Mary Jane’s nerve is still bothering him enough that Luhnow is looking for another outfielder. Guess the Organization is NOT real too impressed with Collin DeLome, Brandon Barnes or Jake Goebbert, neither.

3/30/12: Astros Release Old And Lousy Hernandez, Keep Young and Lousy Happ

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Today was fish or cut bait day for Livan Hernandez, meaning that the Astros would have to either cut him or fork over 100 Large.

He had started 5 games over 16 IP, 23 H, 3 HR, 6 BB, 7 K, 10 R/ 14 ER – 5.63 ERA and 1.81 WHIP.

And they weren’t about to fork over 100 large to give him just one more start, so he got tossed out the Astros door and went straight onto the Braves roster. So mucxh for the Braves have all this excess of starting pitching. Funny, I thought they weren’t signing Roy Oswalt, who would LIKE to sign with them, because the one thing they DIDN’T need was starting pitching. Guess Roy ain’t signing for no 750K.

Anyway, this means that Lucas Harrell actually has a chance to pitch himself into the starting lineup. He’s pitched 16.2 innings: 13 H, no HR, 4 BB, 6 K, 5 R/4 ER: 2.16 ERA, 1.02 WHIP.

Yes, 1 year of Lucas Harrell will be cheaper than 1 year of Livan would have been, how did you guess? Who, me? cynical?

I must say that this is really unusual, that the Astros would pick a young AAA lifer over a about to be washed up old major league vet. Youneverknow…

Weiland pitched very well today: 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K. So far this year, he’s thrown 22 IP, 18 H, NO homers, 8 BB, 13 K, 7 R/ER: 2.86 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

Jordan Lyles, hanging on by his fingertips this spring, pitches at noon for his last attempt to avoid AAA - so far, he’s thrown 15.2 innings: 23 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 9 K, 13 R/11 ER: 6.32 ERA. 1.66 WHIP.

Relievers? Well, no real change from last week – Rhiner Cruz, the Rule V guy, threw 2 scoreless 1 hit innings today, so is hanging on. Lyon and Myers are looking better and better the more innings they throw, and still no idea who will be the last cut. Remember back in 08 when they got rid of Russ Springer, who could “only” throw 1 inning, in favor of Rick White, who was supposed to be able to last longer? Well, Livan/Duke were supposed to be options for long men, even though, for some reason I don’t get, these days managers prefer not to use relievers for more than 1 inning at a time. I never understood why managers pull someone who throws only a couple of pitches in 1 inning and doesn’t let him throw another inning even if he isn’t pulled for a PH. I get not letting him go through the order more than once, but why not more than 1 inning?

I don’t know why not, but these days, it’s how things are done. Seems to me that the more pitchers a manager puts out there in a game, the greater chance that one of em has a BAD night and blows the game and it sure nuff seems to me that’s what happened a LOT last year. Yeah it’s so great to have a nails 7th, 8th, 9th inning guy when you are winning after the 6th. But when you’re behind or tied, well, that’s 3 good relievers you don’t got and what you DO got isn’t near as good, including LOOGYs.

shrug

Anyway, to the hitters:

Chris Johnson is still killing the ball: 1.032 OPS over 51 AB. Brett Wallace is hitting .277, but not much power, .426 SLG, in 47 AB. Lowrie is still out with his owie – thumb sprain and the MRI is supposedly OK which means that he’s gonna be fine for Opening Day. Mary Jane Schafer is still dancing around with the hand surgeon.

They’re still clutching Marwin Gonzalez, who singles + walks to a .304 OBP over 38 AB. Matt Downs is really awful this spring – 7 fer 42 with 2 doubles, a triple, 2 BB, 9 K over 42 AB and you do NOT want to know how awful he is with the glove. He makes Angel Sanchez look like a Gold Glover – and Angel played in Bud Norris’ game today and went ofer with an RBI, a walk and a run scored. Jose Altuve isn’t hitting that well – 12 fer 46, but he also has 8 BB and 11 (!!!) K – and here I didn’t think he struck out much. Clank is raking: 13 fer 41 with 6 doubles, a homer, 5 BB (really!!) 6 K and 2 GIDP.

Jason Castro is hitting for average (.333) but not power (.385 SLG). Chris Snyder just hit his 4th homer in 37 AB and has a .270 BA.

In the OF, Bogu is starting to heat up – 10 fer 45 with 2 doubles, a homer, 9 BB, 9 K, 5 SB, no CS. Travis Buck is still hitting – he has a .916 OPS over 37 AB. JB Shuck had a cold week and saw his average drop to .240, and he isn’t walking much either. Fortunately for him, Ruggiano isn’t doing much better, and can’t play CF.  JD Martinez had a lousy week, had only 2 hits and saw his OPS plummet to .697 over 47 AB. I still think that he’ll be the starting LF (thank GAWD that Cust is gone) and if Schafer is still nursing his owie, that Bogu will start in center and Buck in right with Shuck as backup.

Minor leaguers, naturally, are still showing up in the ST games, and Brandon Barnes and Jake Goebbert and George Springer are still getting some PA and doing just fine – but they won’t be on the roster, so it doesn’t matter.

Just a week left until Opening Day.

Which reminds me – I did NOT like having the major league Opening Day official game start at 5 AM and, AND broadcast on a non-standard cable channel. For goodness sakes, everyone should be able to see the Opening Day game. And it should not be held half way across the world. It should be in Cincy, during the day, so we can all call in sick to watch, just like Back In The Good Old Days.

3/28/12: Bixler Goes And Brett Wallace Stays

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Well, I was wrong about Bixler being the one to stay.  All said, he went 6 fer 25 with a triple, 4 homers, 4 walks, 2 SB and 1 CS. He’s not a SS, however, which is why I would bet Luhnow kept Rule V SS Marwin Gonzalez, 6 fer 32 with a double and 6 walks. ESPECIALLY now that Lowrie, unsurprisingly, has sustained another owie, this time a sprained thumb trying to dive back into second to avoid Big Z picking him off.

Of course, Luhnow has kept Brett Wallace, hoping against hope that CJ will stop hitting and Wallace will start hitting for some power, because it sure looks as if Wallace is going to be the odd man out among Downs, CJ and himself. Angel Sanchez, still hitting well 7 fer 17 with 4 walks, got sent down – but of course, he can always re recalled if Marwyn fails and Lowrie stays on the DL too long. Joe Thurston, 6 fer 24 with no walks, got released and Scott Moore and his .660 OPS got sent down, unsurprisingly. Neither one can play short.

note – amusing part of today’s game is Ozzie Guillen pinch hitting Aaron Rowand for him – in case you disremember, Rowand hasn’t hit in years.

Big Z sure wasn’t as dominating as he has been for years, that’s fer sher.

Pitcherly-wise: Lucas Harrell pitched great today – gave up 1 UER over 5 IP with a single, WP, GO and an error by Bogu, playing CF. This one was an error, but, his misplay the other day when he was in right cost the Stros 2 runs. Maybe I had better shut up about his fielding. Harrell and Weiland have been outpitching every other starter on the team, including Wandy, who is now OFFICIALLY the Opening Day starter.

Imagine that.

Anyway, I’m not sure why, except for the fact that he was traded for Roy Oswalt (who is still unsigned at this minute) J Happ has earned a starting spot over either one. So far, he’s thrown 13.2 innings over 4 GS – TWENTY FOUR hits, 7 BB, 5 K. I hate it when stuff like trade status gets in the way of honest evaluation.

Yes, I know. Small sample size. Lucas Harrell and Kyle have both failed at the major league level before and we have to look at Happ’s record before last year before the hitters caught onto him. I mean at his success, yeah, his success,  that’s right.

Enerio Del Rosario – remember that he was the guy who, at the end of Spring Training last year, had a zero ERA – got sent down.

We know that Mills wants to keep both Abad and Wesley Wright in the bullpen. They are handing on to Rhiner Cruz, the Rule V guy, to the very end, even though he’s pitching lousy – 7 runs over 6.1 IP over 8 games with 8 walks and 8 K. Both Lyon and the ol WB are finally settling down after a lousy beginning. David Carpenter is still struggling – 12 hits 2 homers, 5 runs im 8 IP over 8 games. Not sure who, except Fernando Rodriguez, who is still pitching well, is going to emerge from the chaos.

Just 8 days left until Opening Day.

No, I don’t have the faintest how many games we’re going to lose this year. It is just me, or does it seem that there aren’t any really good teams this year and that so many guys are hurt. No one has an ace staff or more than 3 really good hitters – at least not in the NL. Well, at least the Cubs are going to be as bad as we are…

3/27/12: Wave Buh-bye to Zach Duke And Jack Cust

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

FINALLY released.

I never really understood why they were signed in the first place. I can understand signing rehab guys and hoping, but neither one qualified for that.

Duke is/was a pitcher who was never able to throw unhittable strikes and he never had the skill of the Kirk Rueter-type pitcher who somehow got hitters to swing at slop and groundout, saving him for the need to even the NL average K/9 IP.

Cust is just long since over the hill, can’t run, can’t field, and now can’t hit at ALL. even in the supposed “inferior” league.

I was hoping, noting the decreasing number of PA for Cust over the past 10 days, that he was on his way out, but didn’t expect this.

And Duke? Well, if you are a one trick pony whose trick is not major league quality – say Mo Rivera and HIS one pitch – then you aren’t long for the majors, even if you ARE a lefty.

It looks as if this leaves Wesley Wright and Fernando Abad as our leftys. Which, at this point, is acceptable. It also leaves Weiland, Lyles and Harrell fighting it out for the 5th spot/long reliever spot – as if anyone uses long relievers any more. Lyles looks as if he needs him some more AAA, while Weiland and Harrell have already proved they can hit AAA hitters and at least, they are pitching well in this spring tryout. Yes, I know, small sample size.

Even though the Astros are giving a few guys from the minor league camps a few innings or ABs here and there, the 25 man is getting closer to being set and really, the only question left is – will Luhnow win out over Mills and have Wallace at 3rd and Buck in right – or will it be Bogu in right with CJ at third? Well, also – is it settled that Bixler will be the second utility IF? It certainly looks as if Corporan is going to settle as the 3rd backup catcher at AAA as he still has options left.

I am guessing that the SS replacement if Lowrie goes down is Angel Sanchez at AAA and the CF replacement for Mary Jane if he fails, is Jack Shuck or Bugusevic and I really DO wonder how long it will be before they regret throwing Bourgeois away.

3/26/12: ST Week 3: Chris Johnson Stays and Jimmy Paredes Goes

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Sorry, somehow I didn’t post this right, so this is a do-ovah.

I was going to post about how incredible it is that the Astros had a .500 record after 22 games, but then they had to go and sukc.

Fernando Martinez, not hitting his weight AND striking out in almost half of his PA(4 fer 23 with 2 walks and 10 K) got sent down, um, I mean, reassigned. Same with ex-Indians first rounder Brad Snyder, 4 fer 23 with 1 walk and 6 K. I wonder what is going to shake out with the OF at AAA – they have Astros farmers Collin DeLome, Brandon Barnes and Jake Goebbert, and then there’s Fernando, Justin Ruggiano and Brad Snyder. The 3 Astros guys are still getting ST ABs here and there and Barnes hit a homer today. None of those 6 guys are center fielders, by the way, and TJ Steele can’t hit pitching at Lancaster, which makes me wonder what they are planning to do.

Minor league pitchers Xavier Cedeno (3.1 IP over 4 games, 2 ER) and Jose Valdez ( 3 IP over 3 games, 1 run), um, needed more innings – yeah, that’s the ticket.

Sergio Escalone, the one lefty last year who did not suck, tore his elbow and is having the usual TJ surgery.

Which reminds me. You know how all the medias and fans and congressmorons got their little selfs all Up Set over steroid users for supposedly ruining The Sacred Numbers. Well, why is it that they don’t want to admit that The Sacred Numbers are all screwed up because of modern surgery? Guys like Escalone would have been a smear in the old record books and guys like Smoltz and Schilling would have been one of those – he coulda beena contendah if he hadn’t got hurt – kind of guy. Seems to me that the numbers people, at least, should make adjustments of their evah so important Lists or Who Is Better Than Who.

Where was I?

Biggest surprise – Jimmy Paredes got sent down. Not only did he get sent down, he’s being shifted to second base, which surprises me because pimpees Jonathan Villar and Junior DeShields are also playing second. One of these days, I am going to figure out why certain guys, who appear to not be able to hit or field, are pimped. So far, I do NOT get the Jonathan Villar luuuuvvvv. Well, we’ll see. Sometimes I’m right (Jo Mier) and sometimes I’m wrong (Felipe Paulino) so it is true that youneverknow.

 I’m a Chris Johnson fan. Just because he is one of the guys who the Organization didn’t want/expect to succeed in the first place and he kept on fighting. He’s supposedly fighting for the 3B job with Brett Wallace, but Brett could barely handle first base. Luhnow is supposedly the Wallace pimper – probably because he selected Wallace as the first rounder in the first place. You know how THAT goes. At this time, CJ is leading – 14 fer 40 with 5 doubles, 4 homers and no walks – 1.075 OPS. Brett is 11 fer 39 with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 3 walks – 0.761 OPS. Kind of a big difference.

Jose Altuve isn’t hitting particularly well – 9 fer 35 with a double and 4 walks and 1 SB. But he’s on those ROOTROOTROOT posters, so I’m quite sure he’ll be the Opening Day second baseman, unless he’s hurt.

Jed Lowrie is still killing the ball – 10 fer 30 with 2 doubles, a triple, 2 homers. He’s missed a few games because of owies – no surprise, given his history.

I keep reading that Bogusevic IS going to be the starting RF, in spite of his poor hitting spring, 6 fer 35 with a double, 6 walks and 5 SB. He’s leading the team in SB, and probably will for the rest of the year since we threw Bourgeois in the garbage can.

He’s got serious competition from Travis Buck, Luhnow’s choice, 10 fer 29 with 5 doubles and a homer, 1 walk and 2 SB. Of course, he’s no prize with glove or feet, but it would sure be nice to have a 4th OF who can hit. Jack Shuck, who CAN run and CAN play center, when Mary Jane is sitting down with his owies, is still holding on, going 11 fer 39 with 2 triples, 2 walks, 1 SB and 1 CS.

I have a feeling that Marwin Gonzalez is not gonna make it – 4 fer 29 with 6 walks and no stolen bases – he’s just nothing special. Trouble is that Brian Bixler, who seems to have the edge on the last IF spot can’t play short and I really REALLY have no idea what on earth they are going to do when Jed Lowrie goes down with one of his usual injuries. They could keep Angel Sanchez at AAA, but we all know how awful he is at short and he’s Ozzie Smith compared to Matt Downs.

sigh

As for pitchers – oh my GAWD, where do I start?

Luhnow is clinging to Zach Duke like a falling man to a clifftop. I do NOT get it, unless he can’t bear to be wrong. 4 games, 14.1 IP, TWENTY FIVE hits, 5 homers, 6 walks, 8 K. uck. Happless looks equally bad. So does Lyles. These guys aren’t Roger Clemens in 05 fooling around – these are guys who have had bad years and are trying to make the team.

sigh

I should be over the moon that Wandy is gonna be the Opening Day starter, but he’s pitching as if his back is hurting – at least these past 2 starts – and I’m more than a little bit worried.

Weiland is pitching well, Livan Hernandez is pitching like a 5th guy at best, and Lucas Harrell has looked pretty good in 6 relief appearances. Bud Norris pitched one good game, 1 terrible game, and one acceptable game, and still has thrown only 9 innings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they regret putting Brett Myers in the closer’s spot in hopes of saving 5 mill. He’s finally managing to throw a few innings without giving up hits or runs. Brandon Lyon, after a shaky start, is looking better and better.

Wesley Wright isn’t giving up homers or walks, Fernando Abad has given up only 2 solo homers, Fernando Rodriguez (we sure have a lot of Fernandos around here – can you hear the cheeers Fernando???????) is throwing well and Wilton Lopez hasn’t been pitching.

sigh

I don’t guess I should mention that a lot of hits have been coming from minor leaguers who will certianly not be contributing anything after another week or so.

3/20/12: Astros Dump Bourgeois’ And Quintero’s Salaries For What?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

This trade makes Ed Wade look good. The Astros traded away 2 solid major league baseball players, neither receiving much of any money, to the Royals for a really bad AA lefty reliever.

Seriously.

Quintero has a minor league contract. Bourgesoi has a 900 K contract. What in the name of God is the point of this execrable trade? It sure isn’t much of a salary dump.

The Royals are sending Kevin Chapman, their 2010 4th rounder, who has 40 innings at A+ with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP at high A and 40 innings at AA over 25 games with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. In that 40 innings, he gave up 37 hits, 5 homers 21 walks, 50 K, 25 runs, 22 ER. I suppose I am supposed to be impressed by that K rate.

The only good thing I can think is that I hope this means they are going to keep Bogusevic because he and Shuck are the only guys besides Mary Jane who can play center field.

This time, Dayton Moore certainly got an effing A trade – getting 2 minor leaguers for a pice of chewed gum – a total of a little over a mill in salary – that is an OUTSTANDING trade.

sigh

3/19/12: Jordan Brown Gets To Play

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Stros beat the Marlins today – Brett Wallace, of all people, hit a 3 run homer. JD Martinez is still killing the ball, , CJ, JB Shuck and Altuve are hitting. Bogusevic is not, unfortunately.

But you know, what’s fun is that a guy who isn’t even on the NRI roster got 2 innings as a DR in the 8th and 9th.   I saw his name on the box score – I knew I’d checked out everyone with an invite and Jordan Brown’s name wasn’t there.

He’s a guy who is a AAA lifer- drafted by Cleveland in 05 and started at AAA in 08 – trouble was that he didn’t hit for power that year for the first time, so he didn’t get a chance with the ML club in 09 – but he killed the ball with a .913 OPS. In 2010, he got called up at the trade deadline, but only got 87 AB and didn’t hit for average or power, which is not OK for a RF. By then he was 26, so he didn’t get another chance.

You know how that is – you aren’t one of The Pimped Ones, you’re gettin kind of old, you fail in 87 AB, and that is it. Pretty much always. So he spent 2011 at AAA with the Indians and the Brewers.

Brown had signed a minor league FA contract with the Astros back in January but hadn’t gotten an NRI invite to ST. So maybe they called him over from minor league camp because Jordan Schafer gots an owie on his hand and is out for a week and he gets to come in off the bench every now and then.

An unexpected treat, you might could say. I’m glad the boy got something special and unexpected at this point in his life.

It’s baseball.

Youneverknow….

3/18/12: It’s Not “Sent Down,” It’s “Reassigned”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Recapping Week 2 Spring Training

We all knew that George Springer, Delino DeShields, Jonathan Villar and Jonathan Singleton (The Pimpees) weren’t gonna make the team. Springer played in 8 games, went 3 fer 8 with 2 singles, a double, 2 RS, 1 walk and 1 SB. DeShields played in 3 games and went ofer 2 with no walks – he’s getting plenty of pimping – an entire article on how Biggio is encouraging him. OK. Villar, the supposed SS of the future – or is it second baseman – I get so confused – went ofer 2 in 4 games with 2 walks. Dude better learn to hit and field at A ball first. Singleton went 4 fer 10 with a double and 3 runs scored in 9 games.

Non-pimpees Jake Goebbert, Chris Wallace, Brandon Barnes, Diorys Hernandez and Rene Garcia slid back down – not surprisingly. They weren’t making the team no matter WHAT they did, and none of em did much.

And pitchers Arcenio Leon (1 walk, 1 hit, 1 run over 1 IP), Henry Villar (two 1-hit scoreless IP) and Jorge DeLeon (2 H, 1 ER over 2 IP) weren’t getting out of the minors neither.

I was a bit surprised they sent Juan Abreu down so early – he’s the guy who throws hi 90s but walks a ton. I am guessing they are figurin to try to turn him into a closer as the Stros will be shut of Lyon and Myers by the end of the season. I was also a bit surprised they sent Lance Pendleton down so fast – of course, they didn’t give him much opportunity to make the team – 1 no hit no walk inning.

Paul Clemens got sent down after 5 innings of 2 hit no walk no run ball – and a 4 inning save. So much for everyone getting a chance. Of course I know that ST numbers “mean nothing” but it’s certainly never true, no matter WHAT they say, that everyone has a chance to make the roster if they do well in ST. And the ones they are forced to keep that they didn’t WANT, they do their dammdest to get rid of as soon as they possibly can (see Luke Scott ’05.)

They picked up Landon Powell, once a St Looie first rounder and then an Oakland crapout like Travis Buck and Jack Cust. Powell, a 29 year old switch “hitting” catcher, has a lifetime .612 OPS – and his failure to “hit” had nothing to do with “cavernous” Athletics Stadium neither, even though he hit a few more homers and took a few more walks at home. He makes Quintero look like Piazza. I mean, Piazza before he went to Oakland. I guess they need AAA filler, but he should NOT take ABs from Chris Wallace.

Speaking of Wallace, they’re really giving Brett a chance – he has the most ABs of anyone on the team. 8 fer 25 with 2 doubles and 2 walks over 12 games – 4 K, 3 RBI and lots LOB. CJ is getting plenty of PT too – he’s 8 fer 23 with 4 doubles, 1 homer and no walks and 3 RBI. Gonna be interesting to see what happens to him/Brett. Jimmy Paredes is 3 fer 17 with a double, no walks and 1 SB – of course, we have a couple of weeks to go. CJ is still tradeable and Brett is not.

Jed Lowrie is still hitting great – 8 fer 22 with a double a triple, a homer, 4 walks, 6 RS – and so is Clank (unlike last year). Altuve is 6 fer 21 with a double and a walk and a SB over 8 games.

So – hows bout the other guys who are fighting over the remaining middle infielder position? We all know Matt Downs is a sure thing, even though his glove is lousy. Marwyn Gonzalez is 2 fer 19 with 2 BB and 3 runs scored over 9 games (1 inning at 2B, 42 innings at SS – 1 error) ; Joey Thurston is 3 fer 14 with 2 doubles – no walks, no SB over 13 games (15 innings at 2B, 13 innings at 3B ); Scott Moore is 2 fer 13 with a double and 3 BB over 9 games (22 innings at 1B with an error, 8 innings at 2B, 8 innings at 3B); Brian Bixler is (24 innings at 2B, 16 innings at SS, 2 innings at 3B and some in the OF); Angel Sanchez, finally off the “DL” is hitting 5 fer 9 with 2 BB in 6 games (7 innings at 2B, 15 innings at SS – 1 error).

Well, yeah, I know, small sample size. Thurston, Bixler and Sanchez are really second basemen, Marwyn is a SS and Moore is really a 3B and none of them are really good utility guys. But really, only Marwyn or Sanchez can play short when – I mean if – Jed Lowrie gets hurt. Marwyn is a rule V, so at this point, he’s my bet. But if he continues to not hit, then I would guess it would be between Bixler, who can also play some OF, and Sanchez.

As for catcher – well, Quintero finally caught a game, as his back has been bothering him and he wasn’t able to do much. He went 1 fer 3: he doesn’t have options, so he is auditioning for a trade – wonder what they’ll be able to get. Quintero has been with the Astros since 05, believe it or not. Corporan has gone 1 fer 8 over 8 games. The 2 catchers, Castro and Chris Snyder are hitting. Castro is 7 fer 18 with a double and 2 walks. Snyder is 6 fer 17 with 1 double, 2 homers and a walk.

Outfielders?

Well, I read one article about how Mills is impressed with Bogusevic, and another which stated that Bogusevic is expected to BE the Astros right fielder. Either this is to pimp him before a trade, or he really DOES have a chance. I keep hearing that plenty of baseball people (the professional kind) think tha Bogu is really gonna be good, in spite of his late start. Took him a few games to snap his ofer. He’s now 3 fer 21 with 2 walks, 4 RS, 3 SB with no CS. He is a GOOD base stealer and baserunner. And of course, he has a great arm – has thrown out a couple of guys already.

Unless he’s caught with a live boy or dead girl, or is injured, Mary Jane Schafer is going to start in CF – so far, he’s 9 fer 23 with 4 walks, 10 runs, 2 SB over 9 games.

JD Martinez is going to start in LF and he’s killing the ball: 9 fer 24 with 4 doubles and a homer and a walk – 9 RBI over 8 games.

Backups? Well, Ruggiano is 0fer 12 with a walk over 8 games; Brad Snyder is 3 fer 19 with a homer and a walk over 10 games; Fernando Martinez is 4 fer 21 with a homer, 2 walks and 9 K (leading the team) over 10 games; Bourgeois is 5 fer 24 with a double, no walks, 1 run, 1 SB and 1 CS over 9 games; JB Shuck is 7 fer 20 with a triple, 1 SB/ 1 CS; Travis Buck is surprisioingly killing the ball – 7 fer 16 with 3 doubles, a homer and a SB. Cust is ofer 20 with 4 walks and only 6 K.

So far, only Bourgeois and Shuck have played in CF, although we all know that Bogusevic certainly could if he needed to.  Besides the three of them, Buck (15 innings), Ruggiano (22), Snyder (36) and Fernando Martinez (2 innings) have played in right and those 4 have also played LF: Buck 13 innings, Ruggiano 12 innings, Fernando 26 innings and Snyder 4 innings. You notice that Cust hasn’t played even a fraction of an inning in the field.

Of the 4 guys who can’t play CF, only Buck appears to be able to play both right and left.

Now I know that Shuck is not going to hit for power, but he CAN play the OF very well and is a very good contact hitter who will take a walk, and he is a pretty good baserunner, too. I guess this is going to be one of those down to the wire things because Bourgeois and Buck can’t be sent down. I mean, reassigned, so I would guess that unless Buck stops hitting, Shuck is going to get the short end of the stick because you simply have to have a backup in center.

Pitchers?

Well, Zach Duke sucks, plain and simple. Bud Norris should not “challenge” Robbie Cano, one of the 3 best hitters in the AL. Livan Hernandez is apparently GOING to be the 4th man on this “young” staff in spite of the fact that he looks like Woody Williams 2007 or was it 2008, and Kyle Weiland looks a HECK of a lot better than Happ-less.

Lyon and Myers are finally throwing a few innings here and there without giving up runs. Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez look unhittable. I’m not going to make bullpen predictions just yet…

3/10/12: The Smoking Gun- 30 Days Until Opening Day

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Bud Selig apparently has decided that if a team is gonna wear a retro uni, the uni should be the uni that was, you know, like actually worn. I guess that showing a smoking Colt 45 would be bad because it could give The Children the idea that guns shoot, something their innocent little minds wouldn’t nevah have guessed, seeing as how all the cop/CSI shows are all about cops shooting Bad Guys and Victims showing up all bloody and dead.

When the only talk about the team is Buddy Boy’s horror over showing the gun on the uni, you know there ain’t real too much to talk about.

After 7 games now, the Astros are 4-3, a better record that you might imagine, given the team.

As usual, you can’t assume real too much about how players are doing after only 1 week of ST, when lots of PA are against second and third rate relievers, but so far Joe Thurston, 32 year old minor league lifer, has appeared in the most games (is 1 fer 8 with no walks and no errors), which tells me that the Organization is concerned about who will be the backup middle infielder besides Matt Downs, who, I’m guessing, will be used primarily as a pinch hitter – so far, he’s 4 fer 9 with a double and a triple. Marwin Gonzalez, the 6 year minor league FA, is 1 fer 9 with a walk, 2 runs and no errors. Diorys Hernandez, one of the Rule V guys, is 1 fer 7 with no walks, 1 run and no errors. Delino Deshields has a couple ABs, but we all know he barely made it through A ball last year, had lots of errors, and is certainly going back to the minors. Angel Sanchez has been injured and hasn’t played yet.

Of course yall surprised that Chris Johnson has had so many ABs already when we all know that the Organization wants Jimmy Paredes – seeing as how all the team writeups by the media talk about Paredes and none of include CJ. So far, he’s 3 fer 11 with a double and a homer. Paredes also started the year with some sort of strain/sprain, so has only appeared in 2 games. A minor league FA guy named Scott Moore, the Tiger’s first rounder in 02, is also trying out for the 3B spot. He’s yet another one of those really good AAA hitters – a .819 OPS over 1323 AB. He hasn’t done well in the minors – then again, he couldn’t compete against Aramis Ramirez on the Cubs, and after he was traed to Baltimore in 07, was up against Melvin Mora, then Miggy Tejada. He’s had a total of 184 AB with a .640 OPS over the past 4 years, no PA in the majors last year. He’s had some ABs while playing first, not many. Of course, the Organization is having CJ play first and Brett Wallace, who is not hitting, playing 3rd. Brett wasn’t exactly nimble at first and I can’t imagine how bad he’d look at 3rd.

So far, Jed Lowrie, who (barring injuries) is going to be the SS, is 3 fer 10 with THREE walks – no errors. Jonathan Villar, who can’t hit minor league pitching and makes 30+ errors/year and is being touted as the SS of the future (because he was part of the Roy-o trade and the Organization needs those trades to look good) is ofer 2. The players available for backup middle infielder don’t look real too good, do they? they don’t have a Blum type of guy who can play all 4 positions, and yes I know that Blum at SS was horrid.

As for the OF, Bourgeois, who, last I heard, they were trying to trade, is 3 fer 12 with a stolen base. Bogusevic who, last I heard, the Organization was trying to trade, is 1 fer 9 with 2 walks and 3 SB – he’s a REALLY good baserunner. Mary Jane Schafer is 5 fer 12 with 2 doubles, no walks and no SB. Jack Cust is 0fer 7 with 2 walks. Fernando Martinez (the guy from the Mets waiver wire) is 3 fer 11 with a double and a homer, 1 walk and no SB – he’s not gonna be stealing bases because of all the trouble he’s had with his knees. JB Shuck, who, for some reason I really like, is 4 fer 9 with 2 walks. He can’t hit for power, but he CAN hit and he can play all 3 OF positions well. Bra Snyder, the 30 year old minor league FA, ex-Cub, is 2 fer 9 with a homer and a walk. Brad is yet another guy who slams AAA pitching to a .836 OPS ofer 600+ games and only a couple of ML ABs the past few years – he’s one of those guys who had the bad luck to get hurt at age 24, have a bad year that year and never really get a chance although he’s creamed the ball at AAA for 3 years and now he’s 30. How many times have we seen THAT?

I’m reasonably sure that the Organization wants JD in left. I have, by the way, heard from a couple of people this year that JD looks like the Real Thing, so maybe we’ll have an Original Astro on this team after all. I am also pretty sure they want Mary Jane Schafer to start at CF and their pickup Fernando Martinez in right. If they insist on Jack Cust (PLEEEEEZE NOOOOOOO) as OF #4, then the only question is who, of Bourgoies, Bogu, Shuck or Snyder is going to get the last spot. Now you know why they’re trying to trade Bogu and Bourgeois, neither of whom belong in the minors. Jake Goebbert, who the Organization likes and was an actual Astros draft pick, is gonna go back to AAA no matter HOW he does.

Catchers? Well, Jason Castro is 4 fer 10 with a double and a walk. Chris Snyder is 4 fer 7 with 2 homers and a walk. Quintero has been hurt and hasn’t played. I have a feeling he isn’t in the Astros plans for this year, seeing as how Brett Myers is gonna be closing and can’t demand his personal catcher. Corporan, who is probably gonna be the AAA guy, is 1 fer 6. Chris Wallace, Rene Garcia and Mike Kvasnicka are here to catch bullpens, really.

Pitching, you ask?

So far, they seem to have a starting rotation of Happ, Livan, Wandy, Bud and Lyles. So much for putting Myers in the bullpen for the Young Guys. Livan ain’t my definition of young. Anyway, they are limited to a maximum of 3 innings/60 pitches right now. Livan and Happ have started 2 games – Livan looked good in one, bad in the other. Happ looked like May Happ in one and September Happ in the other – 4 walks in 4.2 IP, which is him. Lyles gave up 4 hits, 1 walk and 2 runs over his 2 innings. Wandy threw 3 scoreless with 1 single. Bud threw 3 scoreless with 1 walk.

Kyle Weiland, the AAA picher from the Melancon trade, has thrown 4 scoreless over 2 games – 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 K. He hasn’t actually started any games, but if neither Lyles nor Happ can manage to pitch decently, he has a chance to start.

Zach Duke, another long shot to start, pitched 3 innings in one game, giving up 3 hits, a walk, no K and 1 run. Henry Sosa, the other long shot to start, has looked terrible – 4 innings over 2 games: 11 hits, 1 walk, 5 ER.

Guys who have pitched 1 or fewer innings: Clemens, DeLeon, Pendleton and Lyon have a zero ERA; Abreu (one homer) and Valdez have given up 1 run (1 hit, no walks, no homer); Leon pitched to 1 batter, gave up a homer and was pulled; Rhiner Cruz, our Rule V pick this year, gave up 2 walks, 2 hits, 4 runs without getting an out (there WAS an error, too).

Xavier Cedeno and Del Rosario have pitched 1.1 innings over 2 games eachj and given up 1 run each.

Henry Villar (1 hit) and Fernando Abad have pitched 2 innings over 2 games, no hits or runs.

Fernando Rodriguez has pitched 2 innings over 2 games, given up 2 hits, 1 walk and 2 runs.

Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez have each pitched 3 scoreless innings over 3 games, 1 hit each, no walks.

Brett Myers has thrown 3 innings over 3 games – 7 hits, 2 walks, 2 K 5 ER.

Aneury Rodriguez is the other pitcher with bad numbers: 3.2 innings over 2 games – one scoreless inning plus yesterday’s debacle of 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 homers, 5 ER.

But it’s early and youneverknow.

Game vs the Blue Jays today – they smushed us yesterday 11-2 with JB Shuck and Jose Altuve driving in the only runs.