First, transaction news -
Hector Giminez is no longer an Astro – he signed a minor league contract with the Orioles.
Also, the Astros have officially given up on Jimmy Barthmaier, one of the top 10 prospects from last year. He was put on waivers after sucking at both AA (ERA of 6.20 and WHIP of 1.78) and in the AFL this fall, and taken by the Pirates, who don’t have a great record with young pitchers who seem to be resistant to coaching…
Ed Wade has signed yet another middle reliever, 40 year old (41 in May) righty Doug Brocail. Good grief. I guess this is trying to rectify one of Purpura’s biggest mistakes – letting Russ Springer go. Need the Veteran Presence, 2.5 mill worth. He missed all of 01, 02 and 03. And here are his numbers for 04 (Rangers) 52 IP, 4.13 ERA, 122 ERA+, 1.41 WHIP; 05 (Rangers) 73.1 IP, 5.51 ERA, 84 ERA+, 1.69 WHIP; 06 (Padres) and he was out most of the year because of needing coronary angioplasty – 28.3 IP, 4.76 ERA, 85 ERA+, 1.24 WHIP; 07 (Padres) 76.2 IP, 3.05 ERA, 132 ERA+, 1.17 WHIP. He’s only pitched 6 innings at the Box in his career, so THAT wasn’t a factor. At least it is only a 1 year contract.
But I guess I’d better get down to the heart of the matter – the Astros have almost no one worth as much as a bucket of warm spit in the farm. We’re ranked dead last of all the ML teams, especially after last year’s debacle. But let’s be real here – as I’ve pointed out for the last 3 years, the Astros haven’t had much of a farm and have only produced 4 position players since the 2001 draft. This is not good.
Click here to read Jim Callis’ entire article from Baseball America.
“…Houston has had to invest heavily on free agents to keep winning. That approach has proved costly, not only in terms of big league salaries but also in its affect on the club’s drafts.
In three of the last five drafts, the Astros have forfeited their first-round pick as free-agent compensation. McLane has become more reluctant to offer arbitration to his own free agents, so only once during that period has Houston received bonus choices of its own. He also has been increasing unwilling to buck MLB’s slot recommendations. All three of these factors resulted in a disastrous draft in 2007.
By signing Carlos Lee and Woody Williams as Type A free agents, the Astros surrendered their first two draft choices. Offering arbitration to three of their own Type A free agents Aubrey Huff, Andy Pettitte and Russ Springer was a low-risk proposition that could have yielded three first-round picks and three supplemental first-rounders, but Houston declined to do so. The Astros couldn’t try to compensate by drafting players with high price tags because McLane refused to exceed MLB’s guidelines.
…Wade’s new scouting director is Bobby Heck, formerly the Eastern crosschecker for the Brewers. Heck contributed to a run of productive drafts in Milwaukee, but it’s doubtful the Astros farm system or major league club will rebound without a shift in philosophy.”
Well, yall been hearing this from me for over a year, and here is a well known expert in minor league baseball saying bout the same thing. Or you could say – you get what you pay for, and when you want Walmart prices, you get Walmart quality, and that ain’t winnin you no championship, Drayton!!!
Let’s take a look at the Top 10 prospects list:
The first 5 guys will start the year on the ML club, far as I can tell.
And as Troy Patton was called up last year to start in the rotation back in early August, I would say that putting him on this list as a “prospect” is really stretching it.
Costanzo, I’ve already talked about a few entries ago.
Bud Norris, will be 23 to start the year, was a 6th round pick in 06, just finished the year at A-ball with a 4.75 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.
Brad James, age 23, a 29th rounder in 04, RHP, split the year between A and AA – threw 49 innings at AA, ended up with a 5.17 ERA, a 1.46 WHIP and a 4.21 K/9 IP.
Chad Reinicke, RHP, will be 26 at the start of the year, threw 100 innings at AAA, with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP – 4.68 BB/9 and 8.55 K/9.
Eli Iorg, age 25, was our first rounder in 05, is an OF who had 162 AB at high A last year – he hit fine, had an .862 OPS before he was injured.
All yall notice that Sergio Perez, Brian Bogusevic and Max Sapp didn’t crack this list (our top 3 guys from the last 3 years.)
And here is the list of BA’s top Tools:
Some of the guys, like Jonny Ash and Tommy Manzella and Jordan Parraz aren’t even in the list of top 10 prospects.
Jonny Ash is a 26 year old second baseman who just finished repeating AA – his numbers were pretty much the same – an OPS of 778.
Tommy Manzella is a 25 year old SS who just finished AA with the line .289/.343/.372/.725 (sounds better than Iorg.)
Jordan Parraz, age 22, was a 3rd round pick in 04. His line at A-ball was .281/.364/..446/.810. Also sounds better than any of the pitchers as well as Iorg.
It’s pretty sad that there are exactly zero prospects at AAA. Of course, last year, there weren’t really any prospects at AAA either, except for Hunter Pence, the first month.
As for the MLE (major league equivalent) projections of both the major leaguers as well as minor league prospects, click here to read Dan Szymborski’s ZIPS projections. An remember he is always, um, a bit pessimistic when it comes to the Astros.