Archive for April, 2012

4/18/12: Goodbye Collin DeLome: Checking Out Draftees from 05 – 08

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Yes, I know.

WHO??

DeLome, who was just released, was the only guy left from the infamous 2007 Astros Draft – you know, the one in which Drayton told Timmy Purp to stick strictly to Bud Selig’s slots, and therefore none of the guys they picked were signed. Oh – and there were no first or second round picks or compensation picks because Drayton and Tal Smith made it a policy to not offer arb to FA who were leaving.

Anyway, Collin was a not very good left fielder who was the 5th rounder – and the highest pick to sign – who made it all the way to AAA last year, where he posted a .737 OPS. This year, he had 17 AB with 3 hits before being released.

He’s the only guy who signed who made it to AAA and lasted there a full year. And actually, there were only 4 other guys picked and signed that year who continued playing for non-indy teams through the end of last year.

And Drayton McLane thought he was this GREAT GM who understood that minor leaguers were of no importance and that money spent on unproven players in the draft was a complete waste of money. And the best part is that he got to blame the failure on Purpura who, the year before, when he had a little leeway, managed to choose 2 solid major leaguers in Chris Johnson and Bud Norris (round 2 pick Sergio Perez and his multiple trips to the DL is still hanging in there at AAA).

From 2005, we got Bogusevic, who is already apparently finished after not hitting .300 in his first 10 games as a starter this year, Tommy Manzella, who had the bad luck to break his finger in 09 just when he was figuring out how to hit ML pitching – and that was the last trial he ever got – and OF Brandon Barnes, who is still hanging in there after being demoted from AAA last year to AA this year. But hey, at least he got some ST ABs this year and did pretty well. Which shows you that ST ABs don’t necessarily show you real too much.

No other (signed) draftees from those 3 years have done anything for any other club, neither.

Just unbelieveable, how many years in a row the Astros have had little to nothing from their drafts.

In case yall curious about the 08 draft – 3 guys have made the majors with the Astros – Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles and JB Shuck. Castro all yall know about, Lyles has a decent chance to make it back and so does Jack Shuck. Will be interesting to see how much time they give Castro to not hit and not play good defense before they do something about it – I mean, compared to, say, JR Towles…

5 other guys who were signed still remain in the minors at all, and are still in the Astros system: pitcher Ross Seaton and CF TJ Steele are at AA, pitcher Chris Hicks is at A ball/AA, pitcher Luis Cruz is at high A Lancaster and utility guy Andy Simunic is at AA.

Pimpees second rounder Jay Austin (CF) and 10th rounder Jonny Gaston(CF) appear to have crapped out at AA, pitcher Brad Dydalewicz (8th rounder) at Lancaster.

And, sorry to say, looks like 48th rounder Danny Meszaros, who actually made it all the way to AAA, albeit briefly, has crapped out at AA. Too bad – I love it when 48th rounders make it to the Bigs…

4/17/12: Wandy Loses 1-0 Because Of A Popup That Should Have Been Caught

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Wandy pitched GREAT – gave up exactly 3 well hit balls, 2 of which were caught and one that went for a double. Unfortunately, right after the double, he gave up one of those popups to lefty Adam LaRoche that goes to shallow left and both JD and Lowrie pulled up to let the other get it and neither got it and the only run of the game scored.

Wandy gave up only 3 other singles and NO walks, but he isn’t striking out a lot of guys. He threw only 87 pitches over his 7 innings, was pulled for pinch hitter Jason Castro, who ground out. Snyder isn’t hitting and Castro isn’t hitting. YET. But of course, they get a lot more rope than Bogusevic who didn’t even get 2 weeks before being replaced with Travis Buck – hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Where was I? Wandy – he looked great and if it wasn’t for Lowrie – who SHOULD have caught that ball, he could have kept on pitching. He FINALLY pitches a great game and all he has to show for it is a L because his teammates went ofer 6 with RISP – and this includes the 9th, when Brad Lidge, closing, gave up a double, then a walk, then got both Clank and CJ to flyout to deep center, and got Travis Buck to groundout. At least they weren’t swinging at balls – especially CJ, who hit a good fastball on the nose and all he got for his trouble was out.

Man it feels weird rooting against Brad Lidge, even after all these years, and he was traded after the 07 season. He wasn’t even supposed to be so much as the setup guy this year for the Nats, but their closer, Drew Storen, got hurt and I guess their setup guy ain’t closin so it’s what’s left of Lidge’s arm/elbow and shoulder.

Back to Wandy – he, in my opinion, looked a lot more comfortable pitching to Snyder, who is a lot better at blocking balls than Castro.

At this point, the only Astros who are still hitting are Altuve, who has been glued to the #8 spot, CJ and Buck. You can’t win with that. And this streak of ofer with RISP had best come to a quick end.

And tomorrow, it’s Lucas Harrell who threw 7 innings of 3 hit shutout ball vs the Rox and 4 crappy innings vs the Marlins – 7 hits, 4 walks, 4 runs. Let’s hope it’s the first Lucas who shows up – and his sinker had best be working this time.

We’re facing righty Jordan Zimmerman, who has thrown 2 games, 7 innings each, 1 ER in each vs the Cubs and Reds. We beat him up in his only start against us last year, but last year is last year and this year is this year and this year, he’s lookin good – 14 IP, 9 H, 2 walks, 7 K.

4/16/12: In Which Mills Leaves Weiland In To Sink

Monday, April 16th, 2012

I didn’t get to see this game because it wasn’t broadcast here in Houston and I simply refuse to listen to Milo or his awful sidekicks. I know that baseball teams get mucho dinero from the cable companies who have broadcast rights, but why on earth it pays more to block fans from seeing the game another way when the cable company doesn’t want to broadcast the games, I do NOT get.

Which is probably why guys like Crane are rich and people like us are poor.

Strasburg certainly looked better than he did the last time the Astros faced him in his debut year. He’d only thrown 60 pitches at the end of 5 innings, giving up 3 singles and 3 K. Weiland, meanwhile, wasn’t awful except for giving up a run because of a botched sac bunt by the utility infielder, a guy named Steve Lombardozzi – and remember that name, because he David Ecksteined this team all game. Oh yeah – and a homer to Wilson Ramos.

I would bet that the pitch was a fat one, and the days of just checking Gameday are gone forever. It’s important to MLB that people like me aren’t able to quickly check out stuff like that. It’s not that the data is gone because it is broken down thoroughly into each component on Brooks, so stat geeks who actually KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING can really use data like that and idiots like me have to stare at 10 – 15 graphs/AB trying to remember what each one showed in trying to figure out what the pitch looked like, where it went and how it was hit/not hit.

sigh

It’s got to be about the money because it always is, but I can’t understand how on earth keeping fans like me from the old Gameday screens makes money. But it must. Because I would bet that most people are like me and find it is just too much trouble and have no idea how to collate the graphs into one image. I’ve got to stop grousing about this – it’s just one more thing that is driving me away from the game.

Where was I?

Oh yeah.

So the Astros finally get to Strasburg in the 6th – Schafer, who immediately started massivedly sucking the minute I said I thought I was wrong about how he would do in the bigs (don’t ask how many times he’s struck out to end the inning with 2-3 men on base) managed to hit a single, then so did Lowrie, who has sucked since his first game, and JD Martinez, who picked up his first major league Golden Sombrero tonight, got himself a 9 pitch walk. Bases loaded, Mr. RBI up, he hits a fly to shallow center, but it’s not Mary Jane, it’s Rick Ankiel and he fires a bullet home and no score. Travis Buck, who now appears to be the starting RF, Ks – didn’t take real too long for Bogusevic to be displaced, did it?

So Chris Johnson, who has kept up his BA but not his SLG, hits an opposite field single and 2 runs score and game is tied. Jason Castro gets out and strands 2.

So far, we sure nuff haven’t seen real too much hitting from our catchers, hunh?

So Weiland is back up, and he hasn’t been what you might could call good. He gets a K, a single, a flyout. He gives up a 5 pitch walk to a guy barely hitting MY weight, then a 6 pitch walk to load the bases. And it’s The Pest, V2, Lombardozzi, who is up. And sure enough, the guy Weiland couldn’t get out all night doubles (he’s now 4 fer 4) to bring in 2 runs. Then Ryan Zimmerman, who is GOOD, is up and sure enough, he singles and drives in 2 more.

So NOW Millsie-poo yanks Weiland. Well, maybe he’s supposed to be letting the kid learn to work his way out of trouble. So far, he looks like the pitcher the Red Sox fans wanted to lynch last September, not the guy who looked sharp in Spring Training.

Wesley Wright gets the last out and Brandon Lyon pitches 2 scoreless, when it doesn’t matter. He gave up asingle to Zimmerman, then a long fly ball to deep center to Adam LaRoche, and only a good relay throw from Altuve (got a strong arm for a second baseman) nabbed Zim at the plate and prevented yet another run – it’s not like Lyon is pitching well.

7th inning, Altuve doubles, pinch hitter Maxwell singles, then Schafer, Lowrie and JD all strike out.

8th inning, Travis Buck doubles, then CJ hits a ball to center that for some reason Ankiel doesn’t catch – still not sure if it is a triple or a 3 base error on Ankiel, and Schafer, then Altuve strand him.

Astros been stranding unbelievable numbers of guys – yesterday, they were ofer with guys in RISP. Ridiculous.

9th, JD makes the last out, swinging, with Lowrie on second.

These ARE my Astros, all right.

Tomorrow, it’s Wandy vs Gio Gonzalez, another good, cheap, very young guy Billy Beane got rid of for more prospects in his never ending effort to make sure his team continues to suck so no one will watch and then, like the Marlins, the owners can move the team and get taxpayers in a bad economy to buy them a new stadium so they can get a nice TV contract and make the team worth more even though fewer fans will be able to actually, you know, SEE the games.

Gio is a lefty, has never faces the Astros, and has pitched 2 games this year – the first, he gave up 4 runs over 3.2 innings to the Cubs, and in the second, he threw 7 innings of 3 hit no run ball against the Reds, who for some reason, aren’t doing that well this year. Join the club, guys.

I wonder if Jason Maxwell, the righty, is going to get a start in center or RF, seeing as how they are facing a lefty and we know that Millsie-poo loves those platoons.

Oh yeah – seeing as how this was CJ’s day, I should mention that he has stolen 2 bases this year. Imagine THAT!

4/14/12: Logan Morrison Throws In Winning Run For Astros

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Sorry all yall about so few posts – family gettin in the way – should be back to regular posts tomorrow or Monday.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the games.

Tonight – In Which Rhiner Cruz, Rule V guy, gets his first big league W after throwing 2 scoreless – he now has 4.1 scoeless ML innings and looks significantly better than he did in ST.

First, JD Martinez is teh awesomeness. That is all.

Second, I’ll have to quit calling Carlos Lee Clank as he’s hitting like it was 2008 and actually making good plays and actually hustling – and he’s been doing it since ST started and I’m hoping he goes out with a bang – so to speak.

Third – Jordan Schafer is hitting, getting on base and scoring runs even though his fielding isn’t more than league average. Looks like Ed Wade just might could have been right.

Fourth – Jose Altuve is continuing to hit – has changed his approach, so he sats, and is no longer swinging at any pitch that is thrown (Chris Johnson needs to take a few lessons there) and he’s made up for Opening Day’s crappy fielding.

Fifth – Bogu is walking but not hitting and is fielding fine – the boy best pick up the pace or he’ll find himself replaced with Travis Buck, who is still hitting.

Sixth – Marwin Gonzalez did a better job with both bat and glove in the majors than he did in ST – I’m impressed. Looks like Mike Fast and gang in the guessing – I mean forecasting – department have been doing their stuff well. I missed last night’s game, except for the highlights, and caught some of tonight’s game – particularly Bud Norris having his Bud-type inning in the 3rd, in which he either can’t get the ball over the plate or throws it down the middle.

It was gonna be another one of those hellish losses to Big Z, but the boys came through in the 9th – first comeback win this year – starting with Altuve’s double and heads up taking 3rd when Bonifacio bobbled the ball. The Fish plumb handed out the W with errors all over the place – I mean, Heath Bell SHOULD have gotten out of hte inning twice, but hey, you don’t strike em out, stuff happens.

I like how Bogu hit the ball opposite field, 2 outs, men on first and third, score tied – and it WOULD have ben out, but Logan Morrison, normally a very good fielder, dropped the ball, then made an ofline throw that Ramirez couldn’t catch and it was 5-4. Chris Johnson then swung at 3 pitches, ALL out of the strike zone – disGUSting. And yeah, he had got hisself robbed earlier in the game, but he still left 6 guys on base.

Funny, I was worried when Millsie-poo pulled JD Martinez after he drove in run # 3 in the 9th – it’s not like he’s Brett Wallace or something and yes, Maxwell can run, but we might could have needed Maxwell to pinch hit, or JD to HIT if the score had been tied.

Rubber game is J Happ vs Anibal Sanchez, Astros Killah – he’s got a 2.37 ERA over 5 games in 30.1 IP. Time to turn the tables.

4/11/12: What Is It With Wandy And 4 Error Games?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Before I talk Astros, I want to note that on Opening Day, Justin Verlander, a DH league pitcher, was pulled from the game after pitching 8 innings because he was in line for a W and the reason God made closers was to pitch the 9th, regardless. So The Closer, Ex-Stro Jose Valverde, came in and promptly blew the save – goodbye W for Mr. Verlander. Naturally, the manager got, um, heck (ahem) for pulling Mr. Ace and depriving him of a W. So today, Mr. Ace Person pitches 8 innings of 1 hit shutout ball, goes in to pitch the 9th, gives up a single to Ex-Stro Jeff Keppinger and before you know it, has given up 2 runs and the game is tied.

Now because it is a tie game, The Rulz say that a manager is not allowed to send in his supposedly best reliever, The Closer, to shut it down and besides, what if the team was to come back and THEN what would they do if The Closer had already been used up?

So it’s send in some other guy, who can’t get an out, so THEN you send in The Closer, ex-Stro Valverde, who promptly gives up the losing hit to Ex-Stro Ben Zobrist.

So of course, it’s blame tha manager for not sending in The Closer in the first place to start the 9th, seeing as how Jose has a history of not liking to go in AFTER there are men on base…

Back to current Astros…

First, I gotta say I am surprised and pleased to be wrong about Mary Jane Schafer and his hitting. So far, he’s hitting .348 with a .402 OBP. Not real too pleased with his fielding, however – he gets bad jumps on balls and had an actual missed catch error tonight – and it is RARE that scorers ever tag fielders with errors for failling to catch the ball.

Second, I want to point out that except for the catchers – Snyder is 1 fer 10 and Castros is 0fer11 with 3 walks – the position players are hitting very well.

Marwin Gonzalez is 6 fer 21 with 2 doubles and a walk.
Chris Johnson is 8 fer 24 with 3 doubles
Clank is 8 fer 22 with 4 walks, a double and a homer
Jose Altuve is 7 fer 19 with a triple and 3 walks
JD Martinez is 6 fer 22 with a double, 2 HR and 1 walk
Bogusevic is 2 fer 17 with a homer and 2 walks

Um, yeah, Bogu is struggling again.

Bench guys: Matt Downs has continued to look like the last days of JMike. Justin Maxwell hit a homer and has 2 K and a walk. Travis Buck is doing well so far – 3 fer 10 with 2 doubles, a triple and a walk.

And as for pitchers – well, Wandy looked better tonight than he did Opening Day – had the curve working better and he struck out 4 guys plus the pitcher. Well, not as a fielder – TWO wild pitches (Castro is NOT a good pitch blocker), a throwing error, not getting the out at home on the squeeze – and Marwin Gonzalez’ error – not getting one out let alone a DP – made Wandy have to get 2 more outs, and he didn’t before 3 runs scored.

sigh

Good was JD Martinez hiting a homer to the left center wall under the Conoco Pump. Bad was Astros leaving bases loaded 2 outs in the 4th (OK, it was Marwin Gonzalez at bat) and worse, leaving bases loaded, 1 out in the 7th (JD Martinez, then Matt Downs!!!!) and Clank striking out with the men on first and third, 2 outs in the botom of the 9th. Lots of missed opportunities.

But at least they ARE hitting – it’s not like the beginning of last year where Michael Bourn was the only guy hitting – and actually, he’s not doing very well to start this year.

And as usual, Chipper Jones is killing us. It’s not a coincidence, far as I’m concerned, that we couldn’t beat the Braves as soon as he got back in the lineup.

Day off, then it’s off to Miami where Lucas Harrell will face Ricky Nolasco, who came to the Marlins in the Derrek Lee/Juan Pierre trade – remember that? Anyway, he has a 5-1 record vs the Astros in 6 games and 1 in relief over 44.1 IP – has a 4.47 ERA, but a 1.06 WHIP and a .231 BAA – his team gets more runs for him than he gives up, sort of like Jack Morris.

Hope Lucas Harrell pitches as well against the Ozzie Guillen-less Marlins. I like how he said he loves Fidel Castro back in 08 and didn’t nobody care, because he said it in Chicago, bout the time that Bud Selig and Peter Angelos had Castro as a guest of honor at a game. But hey, say it in Miami and alienate the 500 Marlins fans, get a 5 game suspension.

(By the way, this is most certainly NOT me endorsing Castro in any way. This is me being amused that it ain’t WHAT you say, it’s WHERE you say it…)

4/13/12: Justin Maxwell Beats Out Justin Ruggiano for the 5th OF Spot

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Millsie-poo wants another righty bat, seeing as how Matt Downs seems to be carrying overcooked spaghetti out there.

Maxwell was a 4th rouner for th Nationls in 05, was called up in 2007, posted decent numbers in 07 and 09, a .794 OPS over 129 PA, but fell ofn a cliff in 2010, posting a .594 OPS over 144 PA . He was traded to the Yankees for some worthless low minor leaguer at the end of the season, and never played in 1 ML game.

He had a .954 over 204 PA appearances at AAA last year and this spring, had an .832 OPS over 42 AB, but he was out of options, and he couldn’t get passed through waivers, so now he’s ours and he gets the chance all the other guys Down There who have options don’t get.

He supposedly can play all 3 OF positions, so that’s something that Ruggiano can’t do. We’ll see how long he lasts. Will be interesting to see if he’s a better fielding CF than Jordan Schafer.

4/8/12: Astros Take Opening Series From Rockies

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Be still my beating heart.

I’m trying, and failing, to remember the last time we had a series win to open the season.

Lucas Harrell pitched 7 innings of 3 hit 2 walk shutout ball. Bud Norris pitched 7 innings of 4 hit 3 walk 2 run ball. Millsie-poo figured out that you don’t let LOOGYs pitch to Tulowitzki.

Altuve got his butt benched after all his scewups Opening Day, in favor of Brian Bixles, who is doing very well and so today,Altuve was back out there and he had a stellar game. Went 2 fer 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored – Clank, Bogu each drove in a run and Altuve scored on a throwing error.

The ol WB posted save #1, after allowing a single and a walk.

I see that there were maybe 7000 fans in the stands and yes I know what the “official” number was.

Bad news is that because of family stuff, I didn’t watch the games live and completely forgot to record them. Even worse news is that Gameday no longer shows pitch fx, just an empty pic of the stadium, so I can no longer check up on stuff like pitch location. I guess that MLB didn’t want icky sorts like me to be able to see where the pitches landed in relation to the strike zone. Which really sucks, but what can we do?

Hotlanta comes in tomorrow and it’s J Happless vs Brandon Beachy, RHP, age 25. He was signed by the Braves in 08 as an undrafted FA – the boy succeeded beyond all expectations – guys like him almost never do. I’m impressed.

He has an outstanding minor league record. He had been both a reliever and spot startere all through the minors. His minor league totals show a 2.54 ERA over 213 IP with a .20 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 0.4 HR/9. 2.2 BB/9 and 10 K/9. Yes, I know that some of those gaudy numbers have come as a reliever and he has exactly 15 big league innings, but hopefully, this will be fun.

He threw 3 games over 15 IP in 2010 and last year thhrew 25 games started over 141.2 IP with  a 3.68 ERA (103 ERA+) and friends, you ever think you’d see an ERA that low being essentially league average? 7 H/9, 1 HR/9, 10 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.

He’s never faced Houston.

It took this guy 2 years to reach the Bigs and not even ONE team thought enough of him to take him in even the 40th round – makes me wonder WHY, seeing as how he’s a lot better than a whole lot of Big Name pitchers picked in the first round of that draft.

It’s baseball and most definitely, youneverknow.

4/6/12: Opening Day: 4 Errors = 4 Unearned Runs = Astros Lose To Rockies

Friday, April 6th, 2012

It’s just as well that the Astros game was unavailable to viewers in central Texas (FoxSportsSW had a basketball game on instead) and of course, MLB in its infinite wisdom blocks out games even when the station’s cable channel chooses not to show baseball. Tells you just how far the Astros have fallen since Opening Day 2004 when were were the Opening Night game on ESPN – Barry Lamar, The Rocket, Roy-O and you best believe that all of the Eyes Of Texas Were Upon Us.

I’ve looked back through my archives to make sure my aging brain cells weren’t mis-remembering, but no. My kids DID TOO used to want to watch baseball with me. Now all I get is roll eyes!!! and being told that stuff is so LAME. Husband checked to make sure he didn’t HAVE to sit here and watch it with me, but I told him, no, it’s FINE, I can watch with Dog Pappas. It’s true that DP Dpg might could fall asleep, but he’s not trying to sneak away.

I wore my Wandy shirt for good luck, but it didn’t help real too much. Ballpark looked pretty full – going to have to remember it like this because it sure isn’t going to look like this again, not even for the curious who show up tomorrow to see 49 year old Jamie Moyer throw 80 MPH pitches and get out after out, somehow. He’s lucky he got a chance Back Then because he’d get told to go play softball with the GRRRLZ these days.

But I digress. Where was I?

oh yeah

GAWD, the Keystone Kops were out there. First play of the game, Jordan Schafer brought back unpleasant memories of Willy Taveras with his – break the wrong way, then change directions, run fast and make a sliding catch while rolling over to make it look good. I’ve gotten spoilt watching Michael Bourn for so long.

Wandy certainly didn’t have ace stuff, that is fer SHER. Took him 21 pitches to get through the first, giving up a double and a walk. He settled down in the second, after being given a run by Altuve’s walk then Clank’s RBI single. Chris Johnson’s stupid error didn’t cost him but 1 extra pitch, but after the Astros were mowed down by ex-Oriole Jeremy Guthrie, It was the 3rd and it was ugly.

Single to left, then EASY bunt back to Wandy, who throws it away and there’s men on second and third. Easy groundout – shoulda been the third out – then sac-fly and the first run scores – unearned. Then Todd Helton hits a ball off the end of the bat which is a popup that falls juuuuuust inside the LF foul line and JD Martinez isn’t anywhere near it, so it’s a double. Oh yeah – I thought I was seeing Clank out there – you can’t out throw sore-legged Todd EFF Helton???

I groan, try not to swear, and DP Dog looks up and licks my chin. Michael Cuddyer, ex Twin ( yes I looked it up) singles Helton home with a soft single to right, and out trots Millsie-poo. With Ramon Hernandez, ex-Red batting, Cuddyer, age 33 with a grand total of 52 SB over an 11 year career, steals second. This is like Brett EFF Wallace stealing second. JEEZUS Wandy – seriously, what the EFF???  Ramon singles and Chris Nelson, their new 3B, finally gets out. 8 batters, 18 pitches, 3 unearned runs. Unfortunately, they all count.

Rox 3 Stros 1

Stros are mowed down bottom of the 3rd, then first thing, in the 4th, Altuve lets the PITCHER reach on error, stupid boot. But Wandy shuts it down and then Clank leads off with a homer to the Crawfords Boxes and then Bogu drills an opposite fielder through the Conoco Pump window. Astros wasted THREE years of his baseball life trying to make him into a pitcher – he shoulda been here back in 08.

Tie Game. Scoreless 5th for Wandy, then he’s up and he lines out right at Tulo. Schafer walks and Altuve GIDP.

At the start of the 6th, Wandy had thrown only 69 pitches and I was thinkin he had sharpened up so much that he might could make it through another 3 innings. Wrong. 16 pitches for a 1,2,3 out 6th. J Mart has a leadoff double, but gets stranded by Clank, Bogu and CJ.

7th inning, Wandy gives up a 7 pitch walk, then gets a 5 pitch swinging K, he’s at 97 pitches, and he’s done. That’s only his second K of the night – the other guy who struck out was the pitcher. That’s not vintage Wandy – the curve must not be curvin real too much.

Anyway, Fernando Rod comes in finally gets the other 2 outs and then the Astros lie down.

8th inning, Froddy gives up a single to Ramon Hernandez, who gets pinch run for. The pinch runner, ERic Young, Jr, whose daddy now works for the Astros minor leagues, immediately steals second – so much for Jason Castro’s arm. And then Froddy throws a pitch in the dirt and EYJ takes off halfway to third, but he’s caught way off second, almost halfway to third, so Castro, who has him dead, throws the ball into center- well actually off Marwin’s outstretched glove (no, it wasn’t Marwin’s fault) and an unearned run is in. There went the ballgame.

Tulo hit a monster homer onto the tracks off Fernando Abad with 2 out in the 9th and then in comes the Rox closer Rafael Betancourt. Clank and Bogu ground out. Pinch hitter Travis Buck doubles, Castro walks, then it’s Jason Michaels in for the last out and naturally, he strikes out.

Oh – I mean Matt Downs. Or is it Darin Erstad – some guy who isn’t that good who is getting props based on a previous fluke year. Too bad Brian Bixler had already been used. All Millsie-poo had left on the bench was Snyder, the spare catcher and you can’t use HIM.

Bixler was in the game because Crystal Lowrie’s owie is still owww so he’s on the DL until at least April 13.

I think last year’s loss was worse, though – beating Roy Halliday, then the Lyon, the closer blowing it. I’m trying to remember the last time we won on Opening Day – we lost in 04 to the Barry Lamars. We lost in 05 to the Cards – we’d win the one that counted though. We lost in 06 to DOntrelle and the Marlins. We lost in 07 to the Pirates – Lidge blew the save and Qualls lost it. We lost in 08 to the Padres – shutout. We lost in 09 to Zambrano. We lost in 2010 to Lincecum.

Wait – we DID beat the Marlins 1-0 in 06. And the Rox in 03. But lost to the Crew in 02 (Wade Miller – remember him?) but beat them in 01 (Scott Elarton – he’s trying a comeback this year.)

All in all, Opening Day has not been kind to the Astros real too much.

At least my Dog loves me and isn’t laughing at me for wasting my time watching this awful team. Milk Bones CAN buy you love….

4/5/12: Astros Minor Leaguers Who Appeared In At Least One Spring Training Game

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Every Spring Training, each club wants to throw a bone to some high draft picks, pimp some touted guys and sometimes, some minor leaguers who nobody but their parents and friends ever heard of get plucked from their minor league teams to fill out a bench for games, especially split squad games, and get to appear in a major league uni, lucky them. Many times, I’ll check the box scores, see names, and wonder – like, who is THAT?

At least, they don’t have the video showing their names as “minor league guy” like some minor league Cardinals prospect did.

First, pitchers:

of note – three pitchers from the Astros Organization who were sent to the Arizona Fall League, lefty starter Dallas Keuchel (2nd round, 09, pitched well in AA, hit a wall at AAA, starting there again), righty reliever Josh Zeid (10th round Phils, obtained in the Pence trade, stank in 16 innings at AA Corpus last year) and lefty reliever Jason Stoffel (4th round Giants 2009, obtained in the Keppinger trade, stank in 16 innings at AA Corpus last year) – NONE of them even stood on the mound at Spring Training. I WOULD tell you how they did in their AFL stints, but I can’t find statistical totals and I am too lazy to go back through all the games and add em up.

- Adalberto Flores, 25 yo RHP, 0.1 IP  (who apparently threw 0.1 inning last year too)
- Kevin Chapman, 24 YO LH RP (who we got from the Royals for Bourgeois and Quintero) ).1 IP, 1 homer
- Kirk Clark, 23 yo RH RP undrafted FA in 09 - got killt at Lancaster last year, 0.2 hitless, scoreless IP. Here and he got to wear a ML uni. Probably first and last time.
- Lance Pendleton, 1 inning scoreless hitless, already released on 3/30, not sure why he got no chance at all – threw 1 scoreless inning.
- Arcenio Leon, 25 yo Astros lifer, RH RP, 2 lousy years at AA – no control – 1 IP, 1 H, 1 W, 1 R.

Hitters with 4 or fewer AB:

Jay Austin – not at ST, but he went to the AFL, so the Astros must be lookin at something: 21 yp lefty CF with speedy feet, lousy baserunning skillz and no bat at Lancaster. When you can’t hit in hitter’s paradise, seems to me you are another Jiovanni Mier, 2nd round pick in 2008 or not. No ST AB

Austin Wates – also not at ST, but in the AFL, so the 3rd rounder in the 2010 draft gets some luuuuvv. He’s a 23 yo righty CF who also played some LF – hit for average and power at low A, hit for high average and low power at high A (Lancaster).

Jake Goebbert – 23 yo LH LF: well, he’s 3 fer 10 at ST, but he’s getting mentioned because he played in the AFL and that must mean SOMEthing. Not sure what – drafted in the 13th round of the 09 draft, hit for average and power at AA last year, hit for average and not much power in 106 AB at AAA. Not sure what’s going to happen with him seeing as how the Astros still have hopes for Fernando Martinez, who is supposedly going to play left.

Kody Hinze: played in the AFL, 23 YO undrafted FA in 08 by the Astros, righty 1B who graduated from Nimitz HS right here in Houston 5 years after our own Michael Bourn. KILLED, MOIDERED the ball at Lancaster, not so much at AA in 199 AB – decent average, not so decent power for a 1B. Guess he’s fallback in case Jonathan Singleton, pimpee deluxe, doesn’t work out. He’s starting the year at AA – will have to see what happens to whoever plays 1B at AAA. He was ofer 1 this ST. (And, by the way, I doubt Koby Clemens is going to stay in the Astros Organization – he crapped out at AAA last year…)

TJ Steele: 25 yo righty CF drafted 4th round in 08. Has a .592 OPS over 595 AB at AA. Doesn’t walk almost ever, doesn’t steele much – not sure why on earth he was sent to the AFL, not sure why he’s still on a roster. Maybe the scouts see something, youneverknow… Went ofer 2 at ST.

Jimmy Van Ostrand: righty 1B/OF drafted in the 8th round of the 06 draft. Hit well .859 OPS at AA Corpus last year, playing 1B, but he’s already been released 3/30. Went ofer 2 in ST – guess it was a goodbye gift.

Jordan Brown, age 28 – talked about him last week – can’t see him staying even at AAA

Jordan Kreke: the Braves’ 13th round of the 09 draft, age 21, righty second baseman – must have been picked up as a minor league FA because he wasn’t part of the Bourn trade. Had a .550 OPS at AA Mississippi over 350 AB. Doesn’t hit, doesn’t steal bases, doesn’t walk. OK. He’s ofer 2 at ST.

Mike Kvasnicka: one of our first rounders in 2010 – was a college catcher with a .897 OPS who was moved to third by the Astros. OK. After 2 years, he had a .676 OPS in A-ball, so he’s being moved back to catcher. OK. He came to ST to catch. Also because he was a first rounder and it’s pimp time. Went ofer 2.

Ben Orloff: 25 yo righty SS, 9th round of the 09 draft. Just finished A ball, hits for decent average .280, walks a good deal, nice .360 OBP, no power, steals bases. Not going anywhere. 1 fer 2 at ST.

Telvin Nash: 21 yo 3rd rounder in 09. The Monster Mnash. Originally a LF, been playing at 1B. He’s a high strikeout, low walk, moderate BA, moderately high power guy. had a .858 OPS at A ball over 268 AB. Ofer 2 at ST.

Mike Hessman: 34 yo AAA lifer with a few ML ABs – drafted in the 15th round of the Braves’ 96 draft – has managed to collect 250 AB over 5 years with 3 different ML teams – he’s one of those guys who is a Dave Kingman hitter – the few times he DOES connect, he hits for power. Hats off to a guy who is gonna play baseball until don’t no one want him no mo.

Jonathan Meyer, age 21, switch hitting 3B, our 3rd rounder in 09 and he had a .742 OPS at Lancaster last year. Is ofer 3 in ST.

Collin DeLome: the only guy left playing who was picked in that beyond disastrous 07 draft (5th) finished his second year at AAA – total of 605 AB – hits for low average, decent power, strikes out a lot and seldom walks. At least someone out of that draft managed to get to AAA.

Rene Garcia: age 22, 35th round in the 08 draft, brought to ST strictly to catch in the bullpen. He had a .591 OPS at Lancaster.  Unsurprisingly, went ofer.

4/4/12: Not The Real Opening Day Game: Stros 5 White Sox 5

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

OK, so I said I wasn’t going to set foot in the place. Well, at least not to give Crane ONE penny, which I didn’t. TONS of free tickets floating around and although the “official” attendence was over 10K, there weren’t even 3K people in the darn place. Dead Silent – really.  I took the mini-train downtown. I wonder, does ANYONE ever buy a ticket to ride the thing?

Hardly anyone around outside when I got there in the first inning, suppose everyone is waiting for tomorrow. I’m all by my lonesome – almost literally.

Wasn’t even a few years ago that the kids BEGGED me to take them to the stadium. I asked them if they wanted to go with me today and all I got was eye rolling. They’d do a lot less rolling if they thought I’d buy them some stuff but they know better. It was funny being able to take a bottle of water into the park, too – didn’t have to worry about the Designated Drivers Free Soda – bcause it wasn’t there.

Really, really quiet. Except for the piped in noise, this is how it’s gonna be this year, except on Fireworks Fridays. I feel as if I’m watching some indy league game in a large park with just a few friends, relatives, curious onlookers. And of course, there’s the poison of the DH making the game even worse.

Last night, I watched (on TV) Bud Norris not look great and the Astros not hit well. Tonight, I watched Bogusevic hit a homer and even better – watched JD Martinez hit a ball right on the money – HARD, to center for a homer. He must have gotten in a few dribblers here and there during ST because it sure seems as if he didn’t hit at ALL the past 2-3 weeks. Happ lasted 5 innings, gave up 4 hits 2 walks and 2 runs with 69 pitches and only three 3-2 counts, not bad, 3.5 pitches/batter.

Kyle Weiland didn’t look so good and naturally, he got beat by ex-C*b Fukudome who always kills Astros pitching, especially in the Box. Got to see Brett Oberholzer pitch for the first time – one of the pitchers we got in the Bourn trade. The lefty looked better than I had heard – gave up a walk, and a double, but the stuff looked pretty good. He only threw 1 ball to the guy he walked, Hector Giminez – yes, the Ex-Stro who was dropped by the Stros when he was in the minors after he needed surgery back in 06 and was out for the year. Anyway, Oberholtzer threw good fastballs – 91 MPH and a couple of sliders which weren’t anyhere near the strike zone and didn’t fool anyone.

Jordan Schafer is back in center, supposedly healed, We’ll see. Meanwhile, a decision has not been made on Lowrie, which means he will almost certainly start the year on the DL, so Marwin Gonzalez is going to be the Opening Day SS, the first Rule V position player to start in any Opening Day lineup since Dan Uggla (back in 06 – right here at the Box – Dontrelle Willis started that game. Yes, I remember.) No, Josh Hamilton wasn’t a starter on Opening Day.

Both Ruggiano and Shuck got sent down – I knew that Buck was going to make the roster, but I thought they’d keep Ruggiano, but no, he went down with Shuck (who Millsie-poo likes) .  The 25 man isn’t set yet because they have to make the decision about Lowrie tomorrow.

Nobody wanted Henry Sosa (no surprise) so down he went to AAA. So they’ll have Jordan Lyles, Henry Sosa, Aneury Rod and Dallas Keuchel at AAA. As well as Sergio Perez, gamely hanging on since 2005. Doug Arguello, the best pitcher at OK last year, got hurt, got released and he’s now with the Rangers Organization, so we won’t be seeing him.

Oh yeah – naturally Matt Downs made the team. He’s lookin like Jason Michaels, who coasted into a spot because he had an unexpectedly good year one year. I wonder how long Downs will last if he keeps not hitting because Brian Bixler is lookin a lot better than Downs. We’ll see…