Archive for December, 2012

12/28/12: Astros Escape Jose Lopez And AL West Teams Must Figure Out How To Deal With Astros

Friday, December 28th, 2012

HAD to link this goodie from TR Sullivan of mlb: AL West Teams must adjust as Astros Enter Fold. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Really? Adjust to what? Adding 12 – 15 more wins a year to their win total? Mariners selling tickets by telling fans – hey, no need to worry about us being in last place again? (Wonder how season ticket sales are going here – I would guess, not real too good, wouldn’t all yall?)

please

Half of that article is Mike Scoscia taling about how the DH is great for hitting strategy, how wonderful it is that he can play hitnrun with the crappy hitting #9 hitter instead of having the pitcher bunt.

The rest is explaining how the Astros now have a DH (isn’t that WONderful???) in Carlos Pena, 9whose death struggle with the Mendoza line the past few years is well documented) who gets to be a full time DH just like David Ortiz (yeah, both male, both Latin, both over 35, but I think comparisons end there.) And how the Astros get to do a lot more flying out west 2 time zones away. Tsk tsk.

As for Jose Lopez, in case you want to know anything about him, just type in “Matt Kata” and there you go. Fortunately, he’s gone to Japan or Korea to stink their league up.

Otherwise, no news. I keep hearing about Bud Norris getting traded for something cheaper/younger, but haven’t seen anything yet. Any bets on how many games Jose Veras (Stros new closer – no I am not kidding) blows before he gets replaced? Or how long he lasts?

Hope all yall had a great holiday and have a safe New Year’s Eve.

12/25/12: Rest Ye Merry Astros Fans May Nothing Ye Dismay

Monday, December 24th, 2012

For all yall who are Christian: Merry Christmas and may God bless you and your loved ones and may you have a happy and healthy new year.

For all yall who are not Christian: Merry Day Off and may you and your loved ones have a happy and healthy new year.

For us few remaining baseball fans who keep track of the Astros: may a new owner who doesn’t just want a supercheap payroll, a bad team, and a 50 mill/year profit – just magically appear and lead us back to the Promised Real Baseball league.

12/19/12: Astros Sign Free Agent Jose Veras And Payroll Explodes To 22 Million

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Of course, they dumped Mickey Storey again and this time, the Blue Jays snapped him right up.

So they are spending 1.85 mill on a middle reliever, a righty, Jose Veras, who we know from the Pirates and Braves. They are talking about him being in the mix for the closer. Like, you know, wow.

He was signed as a kid out of the Dominican by Tampa, and after 6 years, they let him go. He played a year in the Rangers minor leagues. Then, he signed a minor league FA contract in 2006 with the Yankees, and reached the majors in 06, throwing 11 innings in relief, and 7 innings in 07. He spent most of both years at AAA, closing, mostly.

He spent most of 08 with the ML club, not closing, of course, and posted a 3.59 ERA/1.41 WHIP over 59 IP – the WHIP was high because of 4.5 BB/9. In 09, he again started the year with the ML club, but his walk rate rose to almost 5, his K rate dropped from 9.7 to 5.6 and his ERA rose to 5.69. He was purchased by Cleveland at the end of June, don’t ask me why. He threw 24 innings over 22 games, not closing, and his walk rate remained high, although he had a few more Ks, and his hits/9 dropped from 9 to 6.

Nevertheless, Cleveland didn’t resign him at the end of the year and he was signed by the Marlins. He threw 48 innings over 48 games, keeping the same low 6 Hits/9 and high (5) BB/9 and 10 K/9. He posted a 3.75 ERA/1.29 WHIP.

In 2011, he signed with the Pirates, posting virtually the same numbers over 71 innings.

Last year, he signed with the Brewers, throwing 67 innings/72 games. Same 5.4 BB/9 (and you thought Wesley Wright lacked control), 10.6 J/9, and hits rose to 8.5/9, so his WHIP rose to 1.51.

He just turned 32, is walkeriffic, not homeriffic and has a good K rate. Maybe he can close, although he hasn’t done it since 2007. Youneverknow.

I’m sure the Players’ Union is ecstatic at the heavy spending.

Oh yeah – and Rob Rassmussen, one of the minor leaguers we got in the Carlos Lee trade (he’s a skinny little lefty – think Chad Harville, only skinny) just finished AA as a starter, with decent numbers, reasonable H/9, K/9 and low walks – was traded to the Dodgers for one of their failed starters, John Ely.

He’s a 26, gonna be 27 in May year old righty, drafted in the 3rd round of the 07 draft by the White Sox and traded to the Dodgers for Juan Pierre. He was called up in 2010 – someone must have been hurt – he threw 100 innings over 18 games with a 5.69 ERA (71 ERA+) and a 1.45 WHIP. 9.5 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 6.7 K/9 IP.

He spent almost all of the next 2 years at AAA, throwing only 14 innings combined in the ML. He was lousy in 2011 – 5.99 ERA/1.58 WHIP, but they kept him anyway (it’s the high draft pick thing, betcha) and whaddaya know, he improved. He cut the ERA to 3.20, WHIP to 1.10 – and this was at Albuquerque. 18 HR, 36 BB, 165 K/ 168 IP over 27 games.

His AAA numbers look better than Alex White’s, tell you that. Anyway, he’s gonna be minimum wage for the next 2 years, so he fits right into the Astros plans.

Am still wondering how long it is going to take the mainstream media to point out that Crane is not spending even half of what he is taking in on the majors + draft + minors. Probably never. And the Royals think THEY are irrelevant…

12/17/12: Astros Bust Out Checkbook, Sign Carlos Pena To Huge Contract

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Ay-yup, you heard that right. Carlos Pena. He’s getting an enormous salary of 2.9 mill to be 1B/DH. My God, Crane is going all out, breaking the bank!! Look out Dodgers!!!!! And, according to the Chron, they are still “pursuing” Lance Berkman, who is not signing for peanuts. Carlos is a decent glove, actually and is lefty, like Brett Wallace, the difference being that Carlos is significantly HOTTTTTer and can and will take a walk in between all the strikeouts.

Should the team sign Berkman, too – who is, by now, basically a lefty, there is no righty first base backup. Not sure what this would mean for Brett besides goo-bah major league career.

What this REALLY means is that Singleton is most certainly not starting the year with the ML club, and if Berkman signs, too, will not be playing with the ML club.

A little on Carlos Pena and yes, you DO remember his handsome face from his year with the C*bs. He was a first rounder with Texas in 98, was traded from the Rangers to the Athletics for Ryan Ludwick, Gerald Laird and a couple of minor leaguers) and he is the guy who Art Howe insisted on playing instead of Billy Beane’s pet Scott Hatteberg. It’s not like Carlos didn’t get OBP neither, most likely that Billy already had his petsy-poo picked out. You know how THAT is.

So Billy dumped him later in the year, going to the Tigers (the trade that sent Ted Lilly to the As and Jeremy Bonderman – the infamous draftee that caused Billy Beane to throw a chair in anger when his maroons drafted a high schooler), was part of all those suckage Tiger teams – but was hardly a good teammate – refusing to suck, by posting OPS+ of 113, 108, 114 and 113.

In 06, he was released by the Tigers, picked up by the Yanks (played in the minors), released by the Yanks, picked up by the BoSox and non-tendered at the end of the year.

He then signed a cheapo contract with the Rays in 07, finally “Fulfilling His Potential” with a 1.037 OPS (172 OPS+) with 29 doubles, 46 homers, 103 BB and excellent glove. He then fulfilled his wallet with a fat 3 year contract for 30 mill, posting a 129 OPS+ (and a Gold Glove), 133 OPS+ and 103 OPS+ while allowing his batting average to sink from .288 to .247 to .227 to .196 while keeping strikeouts nice and steady at approximately 162/season and his walks at 87-96/ season.

He signed a 1 year 10 mill deal with the C*bs in 2010 – guess the Rays had someone cheaper in mind. He did fine with Chi, posting a 123 OPS+ with 27 doubles, 28 homers, 100 walks, 162 K. The C*bs, in full Save Money For The Owners mode, didn’t resign him, so he went back to the Rays for 7.2 mill.

He had a very down year last year with a 94 OPS+ which was his first sub 100 OPS year since 02. Over 600 PA, he had 17 doubles and 19 homers with 182 K and 87 walks. In other words, we’re looking at Mo Ensberg 2007.

Check his WAR since 2007:
6.8, 4.8, 2.8, 1.7, 2.3 (C*bs), 0.4 – not that most of these values are from offense.

I also want to point out that last year, he was a full time first baseman, with only 10 PH and 3 DH plate appearances. In fact, over the past 3 years, he has rarely pinch hit (or DH) with 1149 AB as a first baseman and 11 DH and 14 PH ABs. Who knows how he’s going to adjust to not playing in the field. Some do better, lots do worse.

Good news is that he doesn’t GIDP very often – he walks or Ks.  He’ll be 35 in May, has missed the Mendoza line 2 out of the last 3 years, has decreasing power and RBI numbers with increasing K numbers – in other words, he’s getting old. He talks about needing a new start, an incentive – blahblahblah. On the other hand, he does provide the Astros with the eye-candy they’ve been missing since Bradley Awesomeness left after the 08 season.

He is supposed to be providing that Luscious Veterany Goodness, as well. If Lance comes back, he can provide everyone with the Really?? t-shirts again.

12/8/12: Astros Pick Josh Fields, RHP In Rule V And Keep Payroll Nice And Low

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

When I first read that the Astros had claimed Josh Fields, I thought for an awful moment that they had claimed Josh Fields, the former first rounder (White Sox, 2004) who was supposed to be a Mike Schmidt/Scott Rolen Future Star!!! who got called up because he had been a first rounder and proceeded to not hit or hit for power for parts of 5 years before finally disappearing into the minors.

You see, being at the top of the prospect list does not necessarily mean that the aforementioned prospect is going to be a good major leaguer, although he will probably BE a major leaguer at some time, just because he was picked in the first round.

Our Josh Fields, who will be 28 in July (yes, he IS old beyond belief) was ALSO a first rounder – picked by the Mariners in the 08 draft after he refused to sign with the Braves after being picked the previous year in the second round. He started at AA, as a reliever – yes,a first rounder starting at reliever (see Chad Cordero, Huston Street) threw 33 innings in 09 – had a leeeeetle trouble with control, 6 walks/9 and also 9 K/9 with a low home run rate. ERA 6.38/1.65 WHIP.

Repeated AA in 2010, threw 28.1 innings, had essentially the same walks/K numbers, but had a low 6 H/9 and gave up no homers, so he lowered his ERA to 3.24 and WHIP to 1.29.

in 2011, he again started at AA, threw 26 innings, posting essentially the same numbers as the previous year only with a slightly lower ERA of 2.77 and was promoted to AAA where he threw 13 innings and gave up – are you ready for this – NINE walks/9 IP. For the first time in 2 years, he allowed homers, so both his ERA and WHIP skyrocketed.

Neveretheless, he was traded to Boston as part of the Erik Bedard trade (he hasn’t worked out real too good for anyone he’s been traded to, has he – yet ANOTHER guy who keeps getting work because, I guess, he used to be good…) He threw 17 innings for Boston’s AA club, 5.2 H/9, 1 HR/9, 5.5 BB/9 and 13 K/9.

So he split last year between AA and AAA: 44 innings at AA, in which he posted his same low hits, homers and high K numbers, but managed, for the FIRST time in his career, to lower his obscene walk rate to 3.2 K/9. At AAA, he threw 13 innings over 10 games, 8 H, no HR, TWO walks, 19 K.

Now, I DO know this is small sample size, but it looks as if he has managed to conquer his wildness without sacrificing his low hit, high K numbers. Actually, he looks better than Rhiner Cruz did last year. So we just might could, youneverknow, have found a good bullpen guy, not that we have many of them – or, I should say, ANY of them besides Wesley Wright and Mickey Storey, who is back after the Yankees decided they didn’t want him after all.

The good news/bad news, is that no team picked up Jason Stoffel, our AA closer (who we got for Jeff Keppinger, way back when) which means that either we got lucky or no other team thought he was worth picking up.

We also acquired a would-be DH, Nate Freiman, a huge righty (think Richie Sexson, not a fatso like Ken Harvey) picked in the 8th round of the 09 draft by the Padres. I know he played 1B, but you know and I know that with Jonathan Singleton and Brett Wallace, he’s not gonna be no first baseman unless Singleton can’t hit ML pitching even as well as Brett Wallace, youneverknow. He just finished AA San Antonio, which means our guiys have seen him a great deal. What is good is that he maintained his power numbers moving from the Cali league to the Texas League – he’s pretty much averaged approximately .847 OPS at each level, meaning 35 doubles/22 homers per 135 game seasons. It’s nice, but making the jump to ML pitchers from AA just ain’t easy, is it Julio Daniel Martinez?

About our 20 mill payroll team: I’ve been having these discussions with a few guys I’ve known for years, who just LUUUVVVVV prospects/young players and like rebuilding. They are always thinking about/dreaming about selling high on pretty much ANY player and getting more prospects. for a minor league that is just bursting with prospects. Well, I like the – minor league bursting with prospects – part. What I do NOT like is the other part in which your major league team has essentially only cheap players (AAAA guys, anyone decent in ears 1-3, sometimes 1-2 IF you had got him already signed to a longer term cheap contract) while you are waiting for that year when you have an el-cheapo team and somehow, everything magically Comes Together and you WIN and you have Your Core. You dream that anyone good signed an Evan Longoria contract (the one he signed right after he came up, not the last one in which they actually have to PAY him) without a no-trade, so you can play churn the players. Like Billy Beane.

Well, almost like Billy Beane who has liked to sign some known slugger, albeit for more than minimum wage, supposedly on his last legs. Sometimes it works – Frank Thomas. Other times, the slugger really IS finished – Mike Piazza. Billy didn’t start really churning his rosters until after the 4th straight time they lost the ALDS in 2003. But the Athletics haven’t really done the – everybody on minimum wage thingy, unlike Tampa and Miami and San Diego. Here are their (approximate) Opening Day payrolls in millions, as well as if they win a playoff spot: * indicates a winning record

………..Athletics …….. Marlins ……….. San Diego ……… Tampa
2012: 55 (win) ……… 118 ………………   55  ………………… 64*
2011: 66 ………………… 57 ……………….   45 …………………. 41 (win)
2010:  51 ……………….. 55 ………………..  38* ……………….. 71 (win)
2009:  62 ……………….. 36* ………………. 42 ………………… 63*
2008:  50 ……………….. 21* ………………. 73 ………………… 43 (win)
2007:  79  ……………….. 30 ……………….  58* ………………. 24
2006:  62 (win) ………. 14 ………………… 70 (win) ……….. 35
2005:  56* ………………. 60*………………. 62 (win) ……….. 30
2004:  59* ………………. 42 ……………….. 55* …………………30

Payroll doesn’t seem to be correllated with winning. Marlins haven’t reached higher than 3rd place no matter how much/little they spent – no wonder Loria doesn’t think they should spend anything.

Tampa started winning once Gerry Hunsicker came over and remade the team, partly with Astros’ castoffs, including pitching coach Jim Hickey. Yeah, I know – all those number 1 draft picks who were so great, like Tim Beckham and DeWon Brazelton. More like smart trades (especially with dumb Astros) and a few smart FA signings.

But basically, you don’t win consistently churning rosters or keeping payroll at rock bottom. Or, as Loria was finally forced to do in 2010 – sign ONE player to an expensive contract to up your payroll and look as if you are Serious About Winning.

Low payroll + tons of high draft picks does NOT = winning. Winning increases attendence (except in Florida). Churning the players decreases attendance (see Miami and Oakland). And people are simply not interested in going to games in which most of the players are AAAA/minor leaguers and the payroll is low, and the GM announces that FA will not be signed.

I have no reason to believe that the Astros are ever going to substantially increase the payroll for the simple reason that THEY DON’T HAVE TO. There aren’t fans who care and the owner knows that Loria has gotten away with it for over 10 years. They are now talking about a 3-4 year re-building project, meaning that all the future good players are at A ball, so I expect that Jonathan Singleton will be called up and turned into more prospects after a year or 2, if he succeeds, seeing as how he will get expensive and as how the rest of the players will be 3 years “from the next good team” or something like that. I know the system by now.

12/5/12: Astros FINALLY Manage To Dump Wilton Lopez

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Good thing they got rid of that onerous 2 million dollar contract!!!

Wilton is off to the Rockies with a PTBNL!!! and we’re getting really lousy starter Alex White and some A ball guy who isn’t on any of the top prospect lists I can find. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

Alex White, age 24, was the Indians first rounder in 09 and he was traded to the Rox as part of the Ubaldo Jiminez trade. You talk about an ace who just fell offn a cliff along with Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hansen. In 2011, he had a nice 7.01 ERA between Cleveland and Colorado over 38 innings and he had a vast improvement last year. Started 20 games and 3 in relief over 98 IP with a sparkling 5.51 ERA. He boasts a 10.5 hits/9, 1.2 HR/9, 4.7 BB/9 and 5.9 K/9.

He’s thrown a grand total of  84.1 innings at AAA with a 3.20 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 6.7 K/9.

Looks like The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle to me, hows about all yall? Especially as  I hear tell that Luhnow is trying to dump Bud Norris (arb eligible, what a shock. He’ll make more than 500K.)

I guess Kevin Goldstein must know something that isn’t in the stats.

12/4/12: The End Of The End Of The Astros – Goodbye Jim Deshaeis

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Brownie had already been fired and JD is now gone to the C*bs.

I don’t know whether or not JD left because he didn’t want anything to do with Crane/Luhnow/the DH league, or whether he was lowballed. I have no idea who is going to replace them, and I think, that like most Astros fans, I really don’t care. Husband is hoping it is Alyson Footer, but I told him that she’d cost too much.

All yall DO know that they are shopping Bud Norris, right? After all, he’s going to make more than 500K.

Luhnow has come out and said, very plainly, that the team will NOT be spending money on free agents (unless they are Phil Humber “quality.”) The team will take in an absolute minimum of 80 mill from TV money, more from MLBAM and they are going to have a 20 million dollar payroll. The excuse is that they are “rebuilding.” Which they will be doing for the next 3 years.

Where is the rest of the money going? They have an el-cheapo manager, el-cheapo coaches, el-cheapo broadcasters both radio and TV (you wait n see) and they can’t spend more than 10 mill on the draft. They certainly aren’t spending more than 10 million in the Dominican and they can’t sign expensive foreign youngster free agents any more.

So if the rest of that money is NOT going into Crane’s personal checking account, where IS it going? It sure as heck isn’t on the team. The Players’ Union will look into the refusal to spend revenue sharing money (which the Astros will now be receiving) on players. They forced Loria to spend on a couple of players, but then he went back to his old tricks and he’s doing business as usual. He won’t be forced out, he CERTAINLY isn’t gonna give the money back to the taxpayers and the local citizens are going to watch a bunch of AAAA guys plus Giancarlo Stanton. I mean, the few local citizens who, for some bizarre reason, still care.

Same thing here. Crane knows very well he can make zillions if the stadium is empty – see Loria. The other owners don’t care because Selig has long since convinced them that they ALL make more money this way. I suppose they think that if the team somehow manages to have a roster of players who are actual major leaguers (and cheap, naturally) in 4-5 years and they manage to get over .500, that the Astros fans will bandwagon on in.

shrug

It doesn’t matter whether or not they do. He’ll be plenty rich from losing.

And speaking of losing – too many BBWAA are losing it this year. We now have guys accusing Craig Biggio of doing drugs. I’m not real too clear if

1- he did them because he was friendly with Ken Caminiti in the early 90s – long BEFORE he was traded to San Diego and started shooting up (at which time, Biggio and Cammy weren’t real too particular close friends)
2 – he did them because he and Bagwell were giving each other butt injections in bathroom stalls ala Canseco and McGwire supposedly were
3 – when Roger Clemens came to the Astros in Jan 03, he called up Biggio and suggested that Biggio join him in shooting up and so that is why Biggio managed to hit 26 homers at age 38. Had nothing to do with pulling every single pitch into left.

So I guess the only player on that stacked ballot with 2 of the best players to ever play, who is going to be elected is Jack Morris and his 3.90 ERA/105 ERA+ who has been declared “clean” even though he sure as heck was pitching long after Canseco was shooting up (steroids were certainly around even in the late 80s) and had one famous WS game at age 37 in which he pitched 10 shutout innings.

Fred McGriff, declared CLEAN (don’t ask me why) isn’t gonna sniff the Hall because he doesn’t stand up to his contemporaries, all of whom are accused of shooting drugs.

And other guys who deserve to be in, like Trammell and Raines (how the HECK is he ignored? must be that performance enhancing cocaine he used, like Paul Molitor) , Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker (no it was NOT Coors Field), Palmeiro, Piazza, Sosa – let alone Bonds and Clemens – all no go. It’s really beyond stupid.

And there are a lot of guys for the Hall Of Very Good – Reggie Sanders, Steve Finley (both of whom have 300 homers/300 steals) Bernie Williams, Curt Schilling (you talk about failing the character clause – but the ONLY one the writers care about is steroids), David Wells, Shawn Green – even ex-Stro Woody Williams.

The last really excellent player who was elected was The Rickey and we’re touting Andre Dawson and Jim Ed Rice and Jack Morris as great.

I have ZERO sympathy for all those screeching – ohhhhhh steroids users were these terrible cheaters – ooooh the records!!! writers. If they thought steroids were soooooo terrible, were the heck were they back in the 80s – I didn’t see anyone writing any sort of exposes – and use was rampant. They can go stuff it up their sanctimonious butts.