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4/21/13: Astros Starters Not Making It Through The First Inning Is Becoming A Habit

I can’t remember anything like this before: tonight, Phil Humber got an out, then gave up 8 runs before being pulled. Ol Portie-poo must have gotten that ol deja vu creepies – one nice fly out, then single, single, double to shallow center, then massive double to right bullpen wall after 3 pitches way off the plate – all on balls up and over the plate. Time out. But Humber is all shook up. another 5 pitch walk. And then a hanging slider and POW 3 run homer into the RF bullpen by Mark Reynolds (who holds The Sacred All Time Got Struckt Out Record, who I thought was out of baseball) and it’s 5-0. Lil time out at the mound, Keuchel up and throwing, sumpin gotta be done. More hanging sliders and 3 more batters, still only 1 out and it’s 8-0.

It’s 6:17 and the ballgame is ovah already.

Incredible. But true. And jeezus, this is the third time in a WEEK the starter couldn’t finish the first inning. I am positive this has NEVER happened before in Astros’ history.

I could mention that Dallas Keuchel, who is getting a LOT more work than I would bet he thought he was gonna get, got the next 2 outs right quick, but gave up SIX runs in the second because Matt Dominguez completely botched a 5-4-3 to load the bases, then Ronny Cedeno couldn’t play a grounder and a run scores, a K, a real single, then a walk, then another fielding screwup as Corporan can’t throw the ball to first on what should have been a 1-2-3, then another single, and a double down the LF line (for once, not Carter’s fault) and 6 runs are in, 2 earned, but hey, runs are runs.

It’s not that Kazmir was any good, as he gave up 3 runs in the second (Brandon Laird homer!!!) 2 walks and a singe, and 3 in the third (Brandon Barnes homer!!!!) and got pulled with men on second and third in the 4th, don’t ask me why, because Cleveland was leading 18-6 at the time, seeing as how – I forgot – Travis Blackley, the new lefty (remember Xavier Cedeno got the heave ho) freshly offfn the DL, gave up a walk, a double, then a 3 run homer to Jason Giambi. Remember him? He’s one of the guys who used steroids but nobody cares because he ain’t goin near the Hall – tried to get the job as manager of the Rockies after having played there the past few years, but they didn’t want him, so he kept on playing as just a player and not a player manager.

Which we haven’t see in baseball since the last days of Pete Rose, which I really don’t remember.  But anyway, Rhiner Cruz managed to give up only 1 run in 1 inning and Paul Clemens pitched 3.1 scoreless. Good thing the Astros have 2 long men because looks like they gonna need them.

Sunday afternoon, it’s Erik Bedard, who, last start, couldn’t finish the first inning vs Ubaldo Jiminez, who used to be an ace de la ace for the Rox and suddenly just started being a less than average pitcher, and then Cleveland traded for him, thinking they could fix him, but they didn’t.

There weren’t even 10K people in the stands for Fireworks Friday (I don’t care what fake numbers get posted as official) and there appeared to be fewer tonight. Wonder if there will even be 5K – doubt it, not that they mind. I’m sure that the stands will be packed with Yankee/RedSox fans next week and they’ll be busy selling Yankee/RedSox stuff in The Shed instead of Astros gear, as they did last time those teams were in town.

Stros better step down their game though – they are winning the AL loss record, but unfortunately, the corpse of the Jeff Lorias have the major league lead…

Should I mention that Wandy threw 7 innings of 2 hit no walk ball against the Braves and got pulled after 82 pitches. Or that Mark Melancon seems to be cured of whatever ailed him last year? Or that Chris Johnson got 2 of the Braves 4 hits vs the Pirates today? Yeh, CJ is on FAHR, has kept the BA over .400 – not that I expect him to keep THAT up, but just the same, he’s outhitting and out fielding Matt Dominguez.

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4/18/13: Laird Up Brett Wallace Down, Michael Bourn Ain’t Comin Home

Well, Brett basically didn’t make contact with the ball and swung at everything and missed – I mean, seriously, I think your average football player woulda had better luck. and he was on the tightest leash like evah, so he gone. I’m actually surprised he wasn’t released, but youneverknow. It’s the usual – he needs steady ABs – stuff and fact is that Chris Carter is a born DH and Carlos Pena is a decent first baseman, so once AGAIN, Brett couldn’t hit ML pitching.

Yes, I know that 26 AB is small sample size, but it’s not like he hit frozen ropes all ovah the place that Gold Glove catches got made on.

Brandon Laird is a FINE 3rd base glove and Matt Dominguez is hitting like he did in the minors, which is to say, not a lot. Yes, I know, small sample size.

Should I mention that Chris Johnson is hitting .435, has 7 multi hit games, and playing a great 3rd/1st base? For the Braves, that is? Yes, I know, small sample size.

I was SO lookin forward to seeing Michael Bourn again, but he got his finger sliced up yesterday when it got spiked, and he’s on the DL. Rats.

I liked the newsfeed on MLB – the first headline says – Peacock learns from number 1 starter Bud Norris. The next headline – Bud Norris Gets Knocked Out In The First Inning.

It is to laugh.

The team is 4-11, on a nice 5 game losing steak, and is headed toward the top of the suckage heap. They dumped Xavier Cedeno, who, unike Edgar Gonzalez, is almost certainly going to pass throu waivers, and now they are down to one lefty, Wesley Wright. I had praised Bedard’s awesomeness in long relief, so I won’t jinx the 2 guys who are now long relievers.

Lucas Harrell has had 2 very good starts, but no W to show for it, and 1 really bad 8 runs given up start. He faces ex-stro, the Ol WB. Not that there’s gonna be a crowd, even for fireworks night.

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4/15/13: The Astros Traded The Wrong Wallace

I guess I’ve given up on Brett. Not sure if the Organization has, but they can’t get anything for him. He hasn’t put good wood on the ball yet. He didn’t strikeout yesterday against a ground ball pitcher – like, you know, whoaaaaa, but I’m not impressed. Of course, he might could click and go on a tear, but I doubt it.

It’s Chris Wallace, Houston homeboy from U of H, who got dumped for some crappy reliever. He was picked in the 16th round of the 2010 draft – he’ll turn 25 in a few weeks. He spent most of last year at AA, posted a .727 OPS, and ended up at AAA at the end of the year, and had a .708 OPS over 46 AB.

He started this year at AAA, only had 3 AB – maybe he was hurt? They played their latest ML flunkout, Jason Jaramillo (last year was Landon Powell, remember? You don’t? Oh well…) and Cody Clark, who is a 32 year old AAA lifer in the KC system with a .554 OPS over 7 years, signed as a minor league FA – don’t ask me why him and not Wallace, but I guess the Organization had washed their hands of him after Spring Training.

sigh

Here and I thought the Astros were complaining about their lack of minor league catchers. Chris has at least a chance to reach the majors with Cleveland, and with the Astros’ Jason Castro worship, he didn’t have a chance here. Castro, from the little I’ve seen, hasn’t improved his ability to block balls at all.

Anyway, Chris got traded for a 27 year old lefty, picked in the 9th round of the 07 draft – he’s a swingman. Over 127 IP at AAA, he has a 6.08 ERA/1.40 WHIP. That is over 3 years, up and down. Big difference from his AA numbers, where he had high K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and less than 1 HR/9.

I don’t get this at all. It’s not like the guy hasn’t had much time at AAA – he has. And he had a 5.50 ERA there last year over 88 IP.

Why so eager to get rid of someone who COULD be someone for a crappy AA/AAA guy?

whatever

I do want to throw in my 2 cents on Jackie Robinson Day about Bud Selig’s concern about how few American born Black men are playing baseball these days. Ida wanna hear all that stuff about “pace of the game” because football is slowern molasses on a cold day and don’t nobody care. It’s all about the benjamins, Buddy Boy. There are zillions of college full rides for football and basketball. Zero for baseball. There aren’t batting cages, pitching instruction in poor areas, no place for a bunch of kids to play pickup baseball. Nowhere to play, nowhere to practice, no one to teach, no money for all those expensive travel teams, which are so much more important than Little League or High School.

So if Bud is so dammed bothered, he could take all that massive slush fund and his 22 mill salary and put it toward batting cages, teachers, sponsoring kids to travel teams, providing FULL scholarships to college.

nah

Much better to keep it to use to help owners browbeat poor taxpayers into giving billionaire owners more money, right?

And prayers for the wounded and friends and family of those killed. Too awful.

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4/14/13: You Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone

It is beyond weird not watching the Astros. I’m getting used to it I guess, like living in the house where you lived with someone you loved who has died. You turn around, think they’re there and they aren’t. Have to be satisfied with mlb.tv’s free game of the day (unless I just happen to be at my Mama’s and we’re watching the Cards, whose bullpen looks like the Astros…)

But I was checking on the Braves/Nats game today – you know that the Nats were the heavy favorite to win the Pennant this year, and they got their asses handed to them on a platter. They were talkin last year as if missing the playoffs – resting Strasburg – was no biggie because, of course, they’d be in it every year for years. Youneverknow, you know, youneverknow. The Braves were big winners, had great teams from 91 – 2005 and they won exactly one WS and 4 pennants and that was all. Stuff happens – guys get hurt, guys suddenly struggle for no apparent reason, and as Miss Joplin once sang, you gotta get it while you can.

Remember 04? Pettitte went down and McLane wouldn’t spring for
1 – another starter
2 – a GOOD reliever (well, they signed a whole lot of guys who turned out to be good, and tossed em out)
and we thought it would be OK because we’d still have Oswalt, Clemens, Pettitte  - and we had the Unhittable Brad Lidge, Qualls, Springer and
an
well, then Albert Pujols happened and it was wait until 06 when Clemens gets around to coming back and
and then it was The Year Of Nothing Matters But Biggio’s farewell tour, especially not bothering to like, draft any decent players because what are they good for,
and then it was Fast Eddie and that idiot Cecil Cooper and the Psychobilly Cadillac that got junked by Hurricane Ike
and then McLane decided to throw in the towel – riches to rags in 3 short years with him as the defacto GM
and next thing you know, goodbye baseball team.

They’ve been out on the West coast, with those late games, can’t check the scores until the next day. Got shutout 3 of the first 6 games, then inexplicable, bats exploded, they won 3 straight games, and then Albert Pujols happened. And the Stros jumpstarted the slow year of Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout and back to the losing.

Bud Norris, still on the trading block, in spite of the Astros just losing Alex White and John Ely to elbow surgery and Edgar Gonzalez to the waiver wire when they traded for Travis Blackley, brought up Dallas Keuchel and Paul Clemens, set the Astros starting pitching record of the year by throwing 7 innings. Yes, finally a starter managed to go even SIX innings, miracles oh miracles. This afternoon, Lucas Harrell managed to go 7 innings – pretty good performance, too – 2 runs/7 IP and took a tough L.

Jose Veras, not to my surprise at all, blew his first save opportunity. Have yet to see why on earth the Stat Geek Parade ever thought he was closer material. I mean, I saw him when he was with the Pirates, and I wasn’t impressed. The only reliever who has been impressive so far is Erik Bedard – oh
nevermind.

At this point, the Astros finally figured out that Chris Carter has a great glove at DH and as soon as they got him out of the field, he started hitting. It’s not that Julio Daniel is exactly Mr. Gold Glove, but he is compared to Carter. Altuve, Maxwell, Barnes and Marwin Gonzalez are still hitting well, and Dominguez and Castro are keepin it real at about .240 and Ronny Cedeno seems to have been suddenly switched to the backup guy, which is sensible.

And now – what’s their record?
Larry?
4 and 7.
Yes, it’s 4 and 7
It’s a miracle.
It’s a miracle.

Tomorrow night, they’re back in Oakland, where they just got swept. I hate all those west coast games.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll check up on all the ex-stros around the majors. You know that Chris Johnson is hitting over .400? Guess who has more fielding errors, CJ or Gold Glover Ryan Zimmerman?  CJ has made some awesome plays both at third and first. The boy seems to have found a good home.

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4/3/13: Astros Set Struckout Record, Get Shut Out Second Straight Day

43 strikeouts in 27 innings. At least 1 guy with a sombrero every day. Yeah, I can hear the FO stat geeks – well would you rather have GIDPs? No dudes, I would rather see actual MAJOR LEAGUERS!!! But that doesn’t go with Crane pocketing 30+ mill this year, does it?

The Astros have drawn FOUR walks in 3 games. The only Astro who hasn’t struck out is Carlos Corporan.

Today, Phil Humber continued the fine Astros tradition of giving up 1 run and losing anyway. He went  5.2, left with 2 on, 2 out, and lil Wesley Wright came in and got the out. FINALLY.

The only hitter who looked really good was Berkman, who drove in 3 runs with a single and a double and scored 2 and

oops

wrong team.

So Friday, after ANOTHER off day – why on earth so freaking many off days in the beginning of the year when they guys aren’t tired, Brad Peacock will face his former team, the Athletics, who gave him, supposedly their top prospect, and Chris K Carter, up for Crystal Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez, now on the DL because of TJ surgery. I still don’t get this trade. Oh well. Stros are facing some young, cheap guy just up from the minors. Interesting that Billy Stat Beane preferred RHP Dan Straily to Peacock – maybe tomorrow, we’ll see whose stattists are better, Billy’s or Astros’.

Oh yeah – toldja that “elbow strain” = Tommy John surgery. Which is where Alex White is headed. Am still hearing about how the Astros are still looking to trade away Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell. If the hitters can’t hit, what difference does it make if the pitchers can’t pitch?

Last but not least, the DH sucks. Clayton Kershaw, PITCHER, won his shutout and hit a homer. Today, Gio Gonzalez, the PITCHER, won his game AND drove in the go ahead run with a HOMER. Pitchers hitting ROOLZ!!!!

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4/2/13: Lance Berkman Beats Astros And Marwin Singles 2 Outs Bottom Of The 9th To Save Them From Yu Know Who

Well, the 2013 Astros ARE a really lousy team. Yu Darvish carved em up through 8.2 – 14 K and no walks, and then Marwin Gonzalez sent a single through Yu’s legs to break it up and there it was.

Whenever there is a no hitter, MLB.com gives a free live broadcast so the whole world can watch the end of a nono. Well, except for Houston, that is – stupid blackout.

Lucas Harrell pitched great – 6 innings, 6 hits, 1 walk 1 run, and got a loss for his trouble. He’s used to that. The 1 run was courtesy of Berkman, naturally, who hit an outside FB through the 5.5 hole with bases loaded to drive in the winning run. Berkman is hitting like crazy. Hasn’t driven a ball into the RF bullpen or restaurant, but it’s coming, you’ll see. The rest of the runs were gravy because Darvish was unhittable. At least for our AAAA guys.

All yall need to go to the mlb.com and look at their videos – watch Carter try to think of getting Nelson Cruz’ ball hit near the LF bullpen and you’ll understand what I mean when I say that he makes Clank Lee look like a Gold Glover. And when Wesley Wright gave up an easy FB to Carter with a man on third, Carter couldn’t field it for spit – took a wrong angle, couldn’t catch it so that he would be coming in for it, positioned to throw home, because the runner should NOT have scored, and wouldn’t have had the fielder had a league average glove or arm. Sorry.

Xavier Cedeno can’t get rightys out and needs to be a LOOGY only.

I guess this year’s Stros gonna have the reliever blues again – can’t nobody besides Erik Bedard relieve without letting runs score.

The good part is that both Altuve and Marwin made some really awesome plays. Still don’t understand why Marwin was not the starting SS. It’s not that Cedeno is any better. Carlos Pena is a better glove at first than Brett Wallace, who was at third tonight. Shudder. Fortunately, he didn’t have to field at all. I guess they’ve decided to platoon almost everyone except Carter and Maxwell. Don’t ask me to explain Carter, because I can’t.

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3/31/13: Astros Opening Day Right Fielder Is Brandon Barnes

OH YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

No Fernando Martinez (on the DL) and no Rick Ankiel, who, last I heard, was supposed to start (and can’t hit leftys any better than Carlos Pena) because they have decided that he and Brandon are going to platoon in right. Good idea.

Starting lineup

2B Jose Altuve
1B Brett Wallace
LF Chris Carter
DH Carlos Pena
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
3B Matt Dominguez
RF Brandon Barnes
SS Ronny Cedeno

SP: Bud Norris

Rest of Opening Day 25 man (I’m writing this down right now because I want to be able to look back and see. If there is ever a reason I want to, don’t ask me why…) Opening Day still gives me chills like nothing else. No matter WHAT evil Bud Selig has done…

Carlos Corporan, C; Marwin Gonzalez, IF; Rick Ankiel, RF, JD Martinez, OF.
RH SP: Lucas Harrell, Phil Humber, Brad Peacock
LH SP: Erik Bedard
RH RP: Hector Ambriz, Rhiner Cruz, Edgar Gonzalez,
LH RP: Wesley Wright, Xavier Cedeno
Closer: Jose Veras

Lyle Lovett sings the anthem. Thank God. Correct tempo, nice baritone. He’s done the anthem here before and he was great.  

Last time we’ll see the Box full for a long LONG time. They SAY it’s a sellout, but it’s not – I see more than a few empty seats, especially behind home plate. Berkman got a big hand, but I hear a lot of boos, too. Everyone wants to know why Berkman gets booed when he was a loyal soldier. Well, you see, he wasn’t one of those grim Biggio type guys, and he didn’t hit as well as Barry Lamar every day and every week and every month. He’s intelligent and jokes a lot, and this irritated fans who insist that every guy be just like Biggio and Bagwell. Whatever. Looks as if most of the fans are wearing Rangers gear. Not surprised.

Some football player throws out the first pitch – looks just like Jonathan Broxton, but can’t throw a strike. Come to think of it, neither can Jonathan Broxton.

where was I?

I remember the last Opening Day we were on ESPN – Roy Oswalt vs Kirk Reuter and the Giants and Barry Lamar beat us in the 8th. Jimy wanted to pull Roy, but Roy looked at him and said, I don’t  care who is up there. And the 3rd pitch went over the RF fence. Barely, but over is over.

1st inning: Bud throws a first pitch strike to Kinsler – good sign, who then flies out to STARTING RF BRANDON BARNES!!! Andrus strikes out swinging. Lance Berkman strides to the plate – he gest a lot of boooos. sigh. Lance grounds out to short. Bud has the FB and slider under control.

Matt Harrison, LHP: Altuve hits the first pitch to left for a single. No nono today. Brett wallace goes to 1-2, then it’s a ball in the dirt which gets slightly away from the catcher. Altuve breaks for second, slides in under the tag (on the replay), but is called out. Wallace Ks swinging. Chris Carter takes a strike looking, a strike swinging and a strike looking. Looks as if Harrison, so far, is only throwing the 2 seamer as all the pitches were 91 MPH.

2nd inning: Beltre takes a strike, swings at a slider, lines a FB to 3rd; David Murphy goes to 3-2 then walks on a checked swing. The announcers keep talking about the loss of Michael Young being more significant than the loss of Josh Hamilton. How silly. Nelson Cruz up: Dominguez waaaay off the plate in the 5.5 hole ??? and Murphy tries to steal on a 2-1 and, shock de la shock, Jason Castro throws him out. Bud goes to another 3-2 count, gives up another walk. AJ Pierzinsky: fouls off 2 then he bloops a single over the head of Cedeno at short (Orel Hershiser sez that Bud/Castro shoulda thrown him another slider). Mitch Moreland up – Orel Hershiser notes that Cedeno is standing behind the runner at second, leaving an enormous hole up the middle – he’s doing a great job as a color man. Dan Schulman is also doing a good job as play by play. Not much stupid gossip.) And Bud gets a blessed swinging K on another slider. He’s up to 39 pitches already.
-  Pena, no surprise, strikes out swinging on a changeup. He woulda struck out swinging on bout anything from a lefty, but I digress. Justin maxwell lines out to third. Castro Ks swinging.

So far, we haven’t seen Nolan Ryan’s sour puss. Or Selig, neither. ESPN is broadcasting this like an actual baseball game. Will wonders never cease.

3rd inning: Bud gets 1,2,3 out – and the last one, Andrus fly to left center is trapped by Maxwell (GREAT catch) but it was really trapped.
- Harrison breezes – Dominguez grounds out, Barnes Ks swinging and Cedeno lines out to third. I’m glad Altuve led off with a hit.

4th inning: Lance singles – the ESPN commentators are praising him – actually say right out that he don’t get no respeck – he has a higher lifetime SLG than Chipper Jones, is a grossly underrated hitter, Beltre has high fly near the CBoxes; Murphy goes to 3-2, Bud suddenly starts throwing over to first, but Murphy flies out to left – nice easy fly that Carter doesn’t have to chase. Nelson Cruz swings and misses 2 sliders, then flies out to left center – Maxwell barely moves.
- Harrison is at only 38 pitches. Altuve flies out, Brett Wallace goes to 0-2, then singles up the middle. Carter Ks looking again – he’s a guy who strikes out at least 1 of 3 ABs but the Organization doesn’t care because he hits home runs. Pena hits a pitch thru the 5.5 hole – shock deluxe. Got men on first and second, 2 out. Maxwell takes a ball, then hits a hanger high off the scoreboard which takes weird bounces – it’s a standup triple, 2 runs in.

Porter out, wants the umps to find out if it was over the line, but it hit under the blue banner under the yellow line, and it’s not out. Orel shows how Maxwell jogged to first, then turned on the jets. Castro grounds out

Astros 2 Rangers 0

Where is Nolie Poo’s stick up butt look when you want to see it?

5th inning –  Bud has a lead and he’s cruising. AJ Ks on a high FB, Moreland lofts an easy FB to left and Leonys Martin (their new CF now that Hamilton is gone) grounds out to third – it was a lousy throw, too – and Dominguez is supposed to be this great fielder. Brandon Laird looks better, to me. Bud is at 78 pitches.
-  Dominguez Ks, then Brandon Barnes takes a 4 pitch walk!!!!! Cedeno up swings at a neck high FB, hits it to right, where Cruz boots it, throws in to the cutoff man, who also boots the throw, Barnes trots in and Cedeno goes to third on the 2 base error. Altuve up. And DAMMED if he doesn’t do the exact same thing – hits a neck high FB into right for an RBI single.

Harrison can’t believe this. Here he is losing to this crappy AAA team. Reliever already up and throwing. Can you believe this? Wallace up, goes to 2-0, but swings 3 straight times. Carter actually manages to make contact!!! popping out to second. He sure reminds me of Preston Wilson. That’s not good, by the way.

Astros 4 Rangers 0

6th inning: John Kruk has joined Hershiser and Schulman. I like the Krukker – so sue me. Kinsler up for the third time and he walks on 3-1. Bud has given up more walks than hits tonight. So far. Andrus Ks on a vicious slider. Orel mentions that the Astros are keeping close tabs on a starter the third time thru the lineup. Well goodness gracious. Lance back up. And he singles to right as Kinsler goes to third. Erik Bedard is up and throwing – they’re using him as a long reliever while he’s the 5th starter because he won’t start for like 2 weeks.

Beltre lines the first pitch right back at Bud. Kewl.  Murphy back up – and Murphy looked to me like he was seeing the ball pretty well the last time. Yep. Murphy takes a couple balls, then lines a single to right and Kinsler trots home. Orel says that they got Rhiner Cruz up a little too late. Bud had better get Cruz out. Cruz swings at a slider, stares at a slider, then hits the next slider to left and Berkman scores. Men on second and third.

Bud lasts 5.2 innings, 2 runs in on 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K. Only 1 hard hit ball, though, which is good. No extra base hits, no homers.

Erik Bedard coming in to get AJ out. And he does – flies out to center.

Astros 4 Rangers 2

bottom of the 6th: Pena fouls off a bunch, then Ks on a check swing. Maxwell walks on 4 straight. Meetup on the mound. Castro up – doubt Maxwell will be trying to steal because Harrison was the best in the majors last year at preventing steals – only one all year, says Orel. Castro flies out. Dominguez goes to 3-1, then walks.

Harrison only lasts 5.2 also. In comes Derek Lowe, back to relieving. Are you kidding me? How the heck did he make a ML roster? And they are bringing him in in a high leverage situation??? Ankiel comes in to PH for Brandon Barnes. And Ankiel blasts the 3-1 pitch upper deck RF for a 3 run homer. Whoa. Cedeno Ks on 3 straight.

Astros 7 Rangers 2

- guess they’re really missing Michael Young and all his veterany goodness leadershipness. Orel and Kruk are really into leadership. Luhnow says he signed Carlos pena and Erik Bedard and Rick Ankiel with the understanding (ahem) that their role was to teach young players for the low low salary…

7th inning – Bedard back out. Moreland grounds out, Leonys Martin Ks swinging. Kinsler grounds out to short. Wonder if they’ll let him finish up. youneverknow. The stars at night are big n bright – wonder if they’ll keep playing that. Sundays, you have to get in GBA (I really REALLY wish they’d get rid of that) as well as gettin took out to the ballpark. Makes me sad to think I’ll never get to go to a major league baseball game again.
- New pitcher, Jason Frasor, RHP. Altuve grounds out first pitch, Wallace Ks staring, Chris Carter again manages to make contact, grounding out.

8th inning:  Erik Bedard still in. Andrus hits a hard grounder to third and Dominguez goes to his right and makes a great throw. Lance Ks on a 3-2 curve and Beltre pops out to short. Bedard is looking really sharp – wonder what on earth went wrong last year. He was the Opening Day starter for the Pirates, remember?

AHA – news about Nolan Ryan – Buster Olney says that Nolan Ryan “Sulking about his underlings getting better titles or something. Guess that’s why we haven’t seen him skulking about.

- new pitcher LHP Joe Ortiz: Carlos Pena Ks staring. Maxwell hits a bullet into the RF corner and cruises into third, standing. Awesome. Jason Castro grounds weakly to short and maxwell can’t score. Dominguez hits an infield single – pitcher can’t catch it and Kinsler can’t get it fast enough. Ankiel Ks on 3 pitches. Looks like this Ortiz guy is bound for LOOGYhood.

Astros 8 Rangers 2

9th inning – Bedard gonna finish out. Kewl. Murphy goes to 3-2, then hits a ball all the way to the LF bullpen and Maxwell makes a fabulous catch. Cruz singles to right. AJ flies out to left. Looks as if they’ve decided that Carter won’t move from in front of the scoreboard, and Maxwell is going to get everything else. Splitting most of the OF between Maxwell and Barnes/Ankiel is smart. Moreland grounds out and Altuve makes a nice play.

Bedard gets a 3.1 inning save. That’s something you almost never see these days.

Luhnow has announced that for the first few months, starting pitchers in the minors are gonna be pitching in tandems – there will be 4 pairs. One guy will start and go 75 pitches and his tandem partner will pitch the next 75, assuming that both pitch well. Next start his partner will begin the game. Why on earth they are gonna do this with Mike Foltynewicz I don’t get.

sigh

Why is it that they couldn’t win on Opening Day back when I actually cared?

 

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3/31/13: In Which I Refuse Free Tickets For Opening Day

Baseball Is Back, Not Gonna Save Its Reputation
Nah naaah, na naaaaaaaaa, my baseball’s back.
Most of Astros fans have took a permanent vacationnn
Cuz they can’t SEE the Astros games…..

Well, sort of baseball – it’s DH ball. Blech. On ESPN, so that everyone can see Nolan Ryan gloating and Bud Selig smirking about how they pulled off their stupid scheme.

I don’t guess I’ll complain about the fact that it is not starting on the first Tuesday in Cincy, seeing as how Buddy Boy has had Opening Day everywhere except Europe, broadcast at a time that I (and pretty much anyone in America) can’t watch it. Tradition menas zero to Bud Selig and the money people and he’s shoving it in our faces by having the Astros, the new AL West whipping boy, getting thrown out as first bait.

Watched the Friday game against the Cubs, which was actually available on mlb.tv – twas a tie game, the Astros end Spring Training at 14-16-4. Things I noticed:

1 – Alex White looked absolutely awful and couldn’t locate anything. Turns out he has a sprained elbow and got put on the 60 day DL. Cmon, just do the ****ing surgery already, hunh?

THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T TRADE BUD NORRIS BECAUSE YOU CAN’T NEVAH HAVE ENOUGH PITCHING!!!!

2 – Jose Veras, the new closer, is the kind of Human Rain Delay that makes the speed of Steve Trachsel pitching look like Mark Buehrle. He’s another example of the stat geek insistence that Any Reliever Can Pitch The 9th.

3 – Kevin Chapman has reasonable, not great stuff, and could use another year in the minors

4 – Wesley Wright is having trouble getting his fastball to find the strike zone, more so than he did last year, and he’s not getting leftys out as he should. We won’t go near rightys.

5 – Rhiner Cruz looked like a genuine major leaguer, threw major league quality fastball and breaker. He looks like a totally different guy from last year.

6 – Josh Fields, again, had great stuff. That curveball is just great. Fastball topped at 91, but its delivery must be deceptive because no one really saw it.

By the 5th inning, everyone who is a major leaguer had left the field and it was like a little league game – not that it wasn’t with all the place switching goin on.

As for hitters:

I hope they are not seriously going to send Carlos Pena up there against leftys routinely because he just can’t see the ball out of their hand or something – you talk about a guy needing to be platooned.

Jason Castro’s hitting has obviously improved from last year, but not his throwing or ability to catch any pitch not thrown exactly to his glove. I’ll reserve judgement on pitch framing until he has major league umpires behind the plate.

And speaking of behind the plate, the ump was calling a lot of pitches off the plate as strikes – the minor leaguers who were waiting for a pitch in the strike zone got called out on strikes too many times and I don’t blame em for not swinging and I hope the FO doesn’t neither.

Don’t know if yesterday’s game was on Comcast, but mlb.tv didn’t have it. Not sure if it was even worth watching, seeing as how the entire starting lineup was comprised of minor leaguers plus Trevor Crowe and Brandon Laird, who must be not understanding why Ronny Cedeno and not him. He’s really an excellent fielding 3rd baseman – bet the Yankees wish they had him back.

Trevor Crowe looks like Travis Buck did last year – will have to see if he keeps it up or sinks as Buck did.

Will post the actual starting lineup and Opening Day 25 man roster later. I always forget to do this, and finding out exactly what it was later on is close to impossible.

In case you’re wondering if I am going, in spite of being offered FREE tickets, the answer is not a chance. I’m not setting foot in the place until Crane is gone AND we’re back to playing real baseball, not that cheating DH stuff – it’s like watching college ball of Little League.

Yes, I’m not kidding.

Husband can’t understand why I refuse to support Jim Crane in any way, yet will watch the Opening Day broadcast on ESPN with the sound off – don’t know who will be broadcasting, but I can tell you that whoever it is is terrible, because they absolutely refuse to have anyone who actually KNOWS baseball announce the game. And of course, we will be forced to suffer some screeching female screech the National Anthem at 1/3 the correct pace. And of course, we will be forced to watch endless shots of Nolan Ryan’s smirking puss and show some blonde interviewer with huge boobs interviewing someone at the same time there is action on the field.

And people wonder why the viewing audience is decreasing…

 

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3/27/13: Springtime For Astros: The Last Days

Brandon Barnes hit another homer and made a great catch and gunned out a fast runner at home. Ah luuuvvv Brandon Barnes. Drafted in the 6th round of the 05 draft – guess Purpura got a few of em right – not once on any sort of prospect list, top 10 list, all star list. And here he is. And if things go well, pretty soon he’ll be the starting CF instead of the PH/DR.

Watched the replay of yesterday’s tie game (mlbtv – YES network). Hadn’t really carefully watched CC since he threw for the Brewers those glorious days back in 08 – things just might have gone a lot better for them instead of being reduced to having re-signing Yuni Betancourt (can’t hit, can’t run, can’t field and is, by all accounts, NOT a good clubhouse guy).

CC didn’t have his no-hit on, that’s fer sher. Walked Altuve, caught him stealing. Their catcher, Chris Stewart, is the first guy I’ve seen behind their plate in years who didn’t have spaghetti for an arm. Then he gave up 3 straight doubles, all on breakers that didn’t, and an RBI single. They’ve got Texan Vernon Wells in left – the Angels were grinning ear to ear and so were the Yankees because apparently, because of how accounting works, them paying him 8 mill a year is counted AGAINST their salary cap. Don’t ask me to explain THAT one. They’ve got ICHIRO!! in right and his legs and arm look every bit of their 39 years. Brett Gardner, in center is a Brandon Barnes clone (hehhehheh).

So the Stros were up 3-0 after the top of the first. Carlos Pena, by the way, was in the lineup. I can’t believe that Bo Don’t Knoe that Carlos Pena hasn’t been able to hit leftys in 3 years. But whatever.

Watched Jeff Ace Peacock closely. For 4 innings, except for a hit by pitch, he got 1,2,3 out. Then, with the last out of the 4th, he had a dead easy groundball hit right to Ronny Cedeno, who bobbled it. Might as well have been Tyler Greene. He then gave up a single to lefty Travis Hafner (Cleveland’s former DH who has spent the last 3 or something years on the DL) right through the shift, which WAS extreme, but Wells popped out to shallow center. He was throwing a 91 MPH FB, which he spotted pretty well, a low 80s breaker, which was working, and a very nice curve, which worked sporadically.

Brandon hit a homer over the LF fence in the 4th.

Astros 4 Yanks 0

By the way, have I mentioned yet that the DH sucks? I really miss seeing what they are gonna do when it’s time for the pitcher to hit. Yes, I like watching pitchers hit because it is one of the biggest youneverknows in baseball.

5th inning – Pena draws a walk – one of the 2 things he can do against leftys, besides swing wildly. With Jason Maxwell up, Carlos Pena gets caught stealing and no I am not kidding – seriously WFT is Carlos Pena doing stealing? He’s a guy having trouble going from first to third on a single to right. We have 4 leadfoots on this team – him, Carter, Fernando Martinez and Brett Wallace. They should NOT be stealing bases.

Peacock has thrown 51 pitches by the end of the 4th. He had a 9:4 first pitch strike to ball ratio (until the E6) and he’s having a bit more trouble locating (from what I could see with the crappy camera angle, the ump was very fair, and the YES guys thought so too). Peacock got most of his outs with flyouts – Maxwell did some running as did Barnes in right (he’s in right because Maxwell is the Designated Center Fielder in spite of the fact that Barnes is far better). Carter, fortunately, did not have to move much and there was no opportunity to check out his arm.

Anyway, Peacock gave up a walk to Eduardo Nunez (substituting for His Jeteriness), who promptly stole second when Cedeno dropped the ball on the swipe tag. Roll eyes.

6th – got to watch Mo Rivera, the greatest Yankee who ever played. Or is that His Jeteriness? I forget. Where was I? Oh yeah – looked great – the usual shattered bats, weakass grounders and a Barnes easy floyout.

Now Wesley Wright – that’s another story – he continued his really lousy spring. In the 6th, everyone except Barnes and Corporan were pulled and in went Singleton at first, Crowe in left (already assigned to the minors), Michael Burgess (minors) in right with Brandon moving to CF, Marwin st short and Brandon Laird at 3rd.

Started of bad because Singleton is a born DH – neither he nor Wesley handled the first dead easy groundout and there was an E1 to start. Followed by a double to Youkilis off the LF wall, then another single by Hafner right through the shoft again, and a terrible overthrow error by Burgess allowing him to go to second – 1 runs already in. No outs, men on second and third. In comes Chuckie Fick, already assigned to AAA, to pour gas on the fire. Gets a K, walk, groundout, single to left, but Trevor Crowe guns down Juan Rivera trying to score. Tie game, 4 all.

Astros didn’t manage to score against David Robertson, RHP, their 8th inning guy (I think) or Joba and his moustache (here and I thought the Yankee players weren’t allowed to have any face hair) or leftys Boone Logan and Valdo Nuno.

Josh Fields looked very good – he doesn’t throw hard, must have a VERY deceptive delivery, although it’s hard for me to see why. single, groundout to third – on which Brandon Laird makes a FANTASTIC play, Cano out on a wicked curve, Youk swings at something.

Rhiner Cruz, who I think has made the team, pitches – double to Hafner, then a failed bunt to Ben Francisco (yeh, the name IS familiar – one of the dungheap pickups last year who got 90 PA before being released), then a WP advancing Hafner to third, then a flyout to center and Brandon Barnes and his arm gun down Hafner at the plate with an absolutely PERFECT throw.

Jose Valdez, pitching the 9th, gets a HBP, swinging K to some minor leaguer, then a 6-4-3 to some minor leaguer.

10th inning – Fernando Martinez, DH in place of Pena, reaches on a dead easy E4. Nolan Fontana, one of The Pimped Ones at A ball, pinch runs and goes to second on a balk. Burgess singles, Fontana, who is very fast, goes to third, Burgess ALERTLY to second on the throw. Burgess is fast, too (is reminding me of Jason Bourgeois). OK, men on second and third, no outs.

Then, we have big time rookie effup. Corporan hits an infield grounder right to the SS and Fontana, running on contact with NO outs, not making sure the ball gets through, breaks for hom and is a dead easy out at home. VERY bad, unless he was specifically instructed to break for home on contact, which is a stupid instruction. Especially bad because Laird flew out to center, and it woulda been a sac-fly and the game winner. And if THAT hadn’t done it, Brandon Barnes flyout to the Wall in right shre woulda have. Instead, it’s still tied.

Andrew Robinson (WHO??) RHP, who is actually our 12th round pick in the 2010 draft, pitches the last inning, getting 1,2,3 out with a single. The batters were all minor leaguers, like him, but still, very good.

Will be VERY interesting to see what becomes of the infield situation, especially with Brandon Laird, who, because of options, is starting the year at AAA. Trouble is that only Marwin and Cedeno can actually PLAY short. But Astros should count their blessings – they snapped up Cedeno before the Brewers, who re-signed Yuni Betancourt. Wonder if Luhnow would have even considered him.

Youneverknow…

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3/4/13: Whatever Happened To The 2007 Ex-Stros? Part 1 – Infielders

Now that it is easy to find the names of every player who has been ever invited to Spring Training, as well as who played during the year – at least since MLB started publishing them on the site, I thought it would be kewl to go back to a time fans still cared about the team.

2006 was the year that the Organization just didn’t want Luke Scott to be on the team and didn’t want to trade him for anything good, neither, so signed a very washed up Preston Wilson, and the team didn’t take off until someone in the FO persuaded everyone else to call up Luke Scott, but by then, in spite of all the excitement at the end of the year, it was just too late. We ended up 82-80, losing out to the playoffs because of John EFF Smoltz beating us in the last game of the year while the Cardinals won their last Had To Win game, and went on to win the Series, seriously pissing off every betting service and Old Time fan who thought that only the 2 best teams should play, AND the stat geeks, who didn’t think that Saint Looey had what it took to Go All The Way stat-wise and David (5-6) “The Pest” Eckstein took home the WS MVP trophy seeing as how it sure wasn’t Uncle Albert’s prize. So there is one MVP guaranteed Steroid-Free…

anyway

2007 was The Year Of The Biggio. Biggio by the end of 2006 was a shadow of the really great second baseman he used to be, and really, no longer had any business on any major league team, let alone as a starteer on a major league team actually expected to Compete. But Drayton McLane decided, for the first time I can think of, that winning was not the most important thing with the team, marketing Biggio, getting him the extra 57 hits he needed to reach 3000 and thus secure him a Hall of Fame spot, was what mattered. No idea what Tal Smith, let alone Tim Purpura thought about it, but Pam Gardner, head of business, must have been delighted, because the fans poured in to see the Biggio, not a winning team.

Astros posted a losing record for the first time since 2000, but unlike then, the Astros no longer had either a great young core or any minor leaguers who would be good solid players, let alone STARS!!!!! as Drayton had insisted on not paying prospects (after paying Derik Grigsby 1 mill in 2000 – and he then had mental illness and left baseball, and Chris Burke 2 mill in 01 – and he screamed about paying any young unproven player more than chump change. The Astros minor leagues slid even more quickly into the garbage heap.

Oh yes, and let us not forget – 2007 was the year Drayton forfeited the first and second round picks to sign both Carlos Lee and Woody Williams, this after not offering arb to any departing players who would obviously sign multi-year contracts elsewhere, a policy that was and would continue to prove disastrous for years.

By the way, please note that of all these IF, including those invited to ST, NONE of them were prospects, by any definition of the word. The decay of the farm by this time was advanced.

Catchers:
- Eric Munson – ex Tiger, brought over by Phil Garner, ex-Tiger, the last manager to have any sort of power whatsoever. Had his ups and downs, played 50 games at AAA, 50 games in the majors, was usually used as a lefty PH, which really didn’t suit him, and in 150 PA, managed a .669 OPS. Wasn’t resigned at the end of the year, spent the next year mostly hurt, had a good year at AAA in 09, was called up for one PA, spent the next 2 years in the indy leagues or at AAA, then was OOB. He had been yanked around by his original team after being drafted, because he could hit for power, so he was put at third, at first, before spending 2 years at catcher with the Astros, by which time he was already old. Never got a big ML payday, but that’s OK because he got a 7 mill signing bonus. Those were the days…
- Brad Ausmus – sigh. You talk about a tough guy. Played in at least 100 games/year from 94 – 07. Spent one more year with the Astros, then left to go west, young man, spent 2 years as a backup with the Dodgers, and had to have back surgery his very last year. He’s now in the Padres’ Front Office, when he’s not involved with Israeli baseball. Fun fact about Brad – he killed the ball in Spring Training, hit over .300 every year. Now you’d wonder if he’s one of those guys who would have had a really great career as a second baseman, as he was agile, a very good and smart baserunner, and he wore down behind the plate.
J.R. Towles – he wasn’t at Spring Training.  He was a 20th round pick, expected to be minor league filler, got called up to AA only because someone else got hurt. And he absolutely moided that baseball, earned a Sept callup long after the season had been punted, and he and other young players got a chance, and he not only set the all time Astros record for RBIs in 1 game with 8, but went 15 fer 40 with 5 doubles and a homer and the FO thought they had their Catcher Of The Future.
Humberto Quintero – who had been obtained from the Padres after the 05 season for Tim Redding, one of the guys who, along with Roy Oswalt, Carlos Hernandez and Wade Miller, were supposed to be The 4 Aces for the Astros for a decade.  Didn’t work out that was, did it? Q spent most of the year in the minors, in spite of hitting .283 in ST – he posted a ML line which was essentially his career line: .226/.281/.244/.545. He wasn’t the devensive catcher that Ausmus was, couldn’t run like him, couldn’t even hit as well, but yet the fans never screamed about how his bat was killing the team, as they did with Ausmus. Of course, he wasn’t outrageously handsome and you didn’t see tons of females wearing his jersey, neither.

Just appeared for ST props:

Lou Santangelo – Went 1 fer 10. My GAWD he’s youngern me. Picked in the 4th round of the 04 draft, couldn’t hit for spit at any level. Busted for roids, which obviously did zero for his production (you notice that all the folks who insist that roids turn guys into great hitters never mention guys like Lou). Made it as high as AAA in 09 (man I don’t remember that – tells you what you need to know about the Astros minor leagues over the past 7-8 years) then was demoted to AA, then has been in the indy leagues for the past 2 years. There really are guys who love playing baseball they actually DO play basically for free.
Kevin Davidson – picked in the 27th round of the 02 draft.  No sort of speeper or prospect by anyone’s standards, not even sure why he was at ST, except that they need SOME body to catch all those pitchers. He’d posted a .602 OPS at AA in 06. He was OOB after the year, so I guess he’s always have that ML ST uni to treasure.
Jeffrey Mackor –  who??? Picked in the 15th round of the 02 draft, had posted a .711 OPS at high A in 06, and got exactly one ST AB. Like with Kevin Davidson, he’ll always have that ST uni to treasure. He posted a .640 OPS at AA in 07, then was OOB.

First Base:
Lance Berkman – anyone remember that he came in 6th in the 2000 ROY voting behind Mitch Melusky? Hardly anyone ever heard of the guy because he played in a small market like Houston that The Media didn’t and doesn’t bother to mention, but he’s one of the best switch hitters of all time. 2007 was a very down year for him, as he only posted a 130 OPS+ and most important to Astro fans, hit only .286 – Astros fans weren’t into saber anything, they wanted to see high batting averages and really didn’t respect much of anything else. He now has a lifetime OPS+ of 146, really has a HOF quality career. He FINALLY got that Ring after signing with Saint Looey in 2011, after finding out that, to his surprise, the Astros didn’t want him back after he generously agreed to be traded to the Yankees For The Good Of The Ballclub in 2010 (the Mark Melancon/Jimmy Paredes trade). After all his anti-DH talk, he signed with the Rangers to be their – wait for it – DH.

Mike Lamb – his last good year. Had the lead-est of gloves at third, was acceptable at first. But was also a lefty like Lance, so he didn’t get that much time at first, except when Phil put Lance in the OF. He posted his usual good .820 OPS, but by September, it was obvious that the team was going to get rid of him – they didn’t TRADE him, oh no, they might could have gotten something in return. Instead, they let him walk at the end of the year. And although he had more ML ABs from 08 – 2010, he never hit. Not sure what the FO saw, but for once, they were right.
And just in ST:

Neil Sellers – yeah, I know, who??? Got 2 PA, didn’t hit. Drafted in the 32nd round of the 04 draft. He wasn’t exactly a prospect, had posted a .732 OPS at high A Salem, no idea why he got a ST invite. He posted a .738 OPS at AA in 07, ended up in the Phils Organization in 08, so just might could have been a throw in in one of Fast Eddie’s many giveaways to the Phils. Played in the minors until last year.

Second Base -
Biggio – who could only hit at all vs leftys and at home, and had nothing left resembling legs or gloves, only Da Grit. But played full time even after getting That Magic 3000 because he was the Boss and what he wanted, he got. Like Lola. Team player my ass. He should be in the Hall of Fame, but for reasons I do not get, except maybe because he was friends with Ken Caminiti before he left for San Diego in 03, he has gotten hit with steroids!!!!! accusations (how else could he hit 20 el-cheapo homers into the Crawford Boxes in 04 after changing his stance and pulling every single ball?) and has so far been kept out of the Hall, which he won’t sniff with all The Designated Clean!!! guys coming up.

Just curious – why is Biggio being blasted with steroids accusations because he knew Caminiti and lasted forever without injuries except in 2000, but Brad Ausmus, who lasted forever as a catcher without injuries until he was like 41, is not? Neither has big muscles or changed size, so why is one a dirty guy and the other isn’t?

I guess that The Media has decided they have the Devine Right to accuse without proof, seeing as how it isn’t court, after all, and who needs proof when you got a right to suspect and publish it without the slightest fear of reprisal? I don’t know why I bother to even think about it, it’s not like it’s worth worrying about as The Media has all the powah and I have none.

Other players will all be listed under Utility. Because they were.

Third Base
- Mo Ensberg. Kept in the minors way too long. Was a guy the Organization didn’t like, never knew why, was always looking for an excuse to bench or platoon him, but wouldn’t trade him even when he was valuable and get something for a guy they didn’t want or like. This was a policy that the post Hunsicker Astros stuck to like a drowning person to a life raft, and I still do not get. Anyway, he had hurt his shoulder in May of 06, came back way too soon, and never ever found his swing again. Had a lot of value anyway because he got on base a lot, and when he did hit, he hit for power, good enough for a 120 OPS+ but in 07, he was simply lost. He hit decently in ST, went 16 fer 57 with 2 doubles, 4 homers and 6 walks, but he wasn’t right. He got traded for nothing at the deadline, and basically was OOB within a short time. At least he got paid.
- Ty Wigginton – at age 29, was a much traded guy who had been signed by the Mets in the 17th round of the 98 draft and had already been with the Mets, Pirates and Devil Rays. He was obtained for Dan Wheeler, mired in a lousy season after the firing of Jim Hickey (what a STUPID decision on Drayton’s part). Ensberg was benched and Wiggy posted a 106 OPS+ over 50 games. He didn’t have a very good glove, but the Astros fans already hated Mo, so because Wiggy hit over .280, the fans didn’t have any problem with the glove.
And just for a ST tip of the hat:

- Danny Klassen – second rounder in the Brewers’ 93 draft, had come to the Astros in 04 after being in the Tigers’ minors. I would guess that he was one of Phil Garner’s Tiger Boyz, but Phil didn’t start until July, so I think he must have been a minor league FA. He was already 31 at ST, hadn’t sniffed the majors in a few years, not that he was any good, so it must have been a bone to a minor league soldier. He ended up spending a total of 10 years at AAA, with 2 more at Round Rock, mostly as a SS, to my surprise, I always thought of him as a first/3rd baseman, had a .752 career AAA OPS over 10 years. Another guy who was gonna play until either he broke down or couldn’t get a job. Six year AAA vets are well paid, compared to the rest of minor leaguers, and unless a guy had some kind of degree/skills that would land him a good job, he wouldn’t be much better paid In The Real World.

Shortstop
- Adam Everett - the best glove, next to Ozzie, that I have EVER seen. Brendan Ryan coming in second. Didn’t nevah get no respect from Houston fans because they didn’t give a damm about glove and wanted him to hit like A-roid and Miggy Te-roider. We had lost the 04 playoffs because Adam had a broken arm, and we had Jose Vizcaino “playing” short and he couldn’t hit OR field. His hitting had suffered because of injuries in 04 and 06, but his career really ended for reals when he had a horrific collision in short left with Carlos Lee, who was lumbering in to catch a popup – really, REALLY stupid seeing as how Adam was 10 times the runner and fielder. He was out the rest of the year and we suffered with Mark Loretta’s terrible glove, but fans didn’t care because Mark could REALLY hit. Anyway, in case you’re curious, Adam didn’t hit in ST, was 7 fer 49.
 - Mark Loretta – by FAR the best of the utility guys. Was actually a second baseman, although he ended up playing mostly at SS, where he didn’t belong. Really lousy glove, but no fans cared because he hit better than Adam Everett. His hitting had suffered because of injuries in 04 and 06, but his career really ended for reals when he had a horrific collision in short left with Carlos Lee, who was lumbering in to catch a popup – really, REALLY stupid seeing as how Adam was 10 times the runner and fielder. He was out the rest of the year and we suffered with Mark Loretta’s terrible glove, but fans didn’t care because Mark could REALLY hit. He hit .321 in ST and  .287 with a .724 OPS the rest of the year.

UTILITY INFIELDERS: (you will note that there wasn’t a single prospect in the bunch)

- Cody Ransom: just looking at this name makes me mad. Picked in the 9th round of the 98 draft by the Giants, had a .660 OPS over 4 years, 117 PA with them, disappeared into the minors. Signed by the Astros in 06 as a minor league FA, he was second on the AAA team to SupahStah Supah Joe McEwing, who won team MVP honors with a .7 something OPS. Really. Cody hit .247/.349/.479/.824 at age 30, was kept instead of promoting anyone from AA like, say, jonny Ash, who  might could have had a future. He hit .300 with a .817 OPS in ST, but never had any chance of making the ML team even if he had gone 30 fer 30. Got called up for a couple of ABs mid year, went 8 fer 35 with 2 doubles, a homer and 9 walks. Released at the end of the year, he went to the Yankees, where he filled in for ARod in 08, posting Arod like numbers over 51 glorious PA. Got a Ring with them in 09. Has appeared with SOME ML team every year since and had a career high 168 PA last year with the Crew. You talk about veterans blocking promising youngsters in the majors – well, Ransom did that in our minors for 2 years.
- Eric Bruntlett – drafted by the Astros in the 9th round of the 09 draft. A  true utility guy who had a really good glove everywhere, including center field. Hit .250 in ST with 2 doubles and 2 homers, but started on the AAA team after a good year in 06. I was surprised and I’ll bet he was even more surprised. But he ended up playing 80 ML games with a .629 OPS over 15 PA. Got traded to the Phils after the season in the Brad Lidge/Michael Bourn trade and won a Ring – had a really important hit, or was it play, in the deciding game – reminded me of that fabulous DP to win the Astros 04, or was it 05 NLDS. This stuff fades over time and I’m too damn lazy to search my archives. He did the bounce between majors and minrs thing in 09, played strictly in the minors in 2010, then retired.

And just a ST invite:
First, guys who eventually made it to the majors, just not with the 07 Astros:

- Brooks Conrad: picked in the 8th round of the 01 draft, a switch hitting second baseman. Astros never had any interest in the guy, don’t know why. They exposed him to RuleV after he had a .840 OPS at AA and no one else was interested neither. He continued to post high .800 OPS at AAA for 3 years, yet the Astros wouldn’t promote him and they wouldn’t trade him. Yeah, another one of those guys. You sign Mark Loretta, you KNOW you aren’t gonna use Conrad, but make zero effort to get anything for him. Same old Astros. Oakland picked him up as a 6 year minor league FA at the end of the season and he got a couple of ML Abs at age 28. He went to Atlanta in 09, spent 2 full years in the majors as a utility player, got famous for hitting a bunch of homers at the end of the 2010 Braves season, as well as making unbelieveably TERRIBLE plays – like 4 of em, in 1 game that cost the Braves the game. And really, the playoffs. Got 106 PA last year between Tampa and Milwaukee and I think he’s finally done at age 33. 481 major league PA over 5 years with an 82 OPS+ starting at age 28. And just think, the Astros didn’t think he was worth anything.
- Edwin Maysonet: yet ANOTHER wasted minor leaguer. I hear tell he was – well, whatever the Latin word for “uppity” is. Picked in the 19th round of the 03 draft as filler. Was a excellent glove second baseman,he didn’t stand the ghost of  a chance, seeing as how Chris Burke was in front of him and a 10 foot thick steel wall with endless rows of barb wire named Biggio was in front of him. Edwin wasn’t a prospect or shooting star, and in 06, had repeated high A, and posted a .254 BA/.705 OPS, which earned him a promotion to AA, where he posted a .271 BA/.675 OPS. He got for 7 AB in 08. He had been promoted to AAA, was hitting  .273 BA/.721 OPS and he got called up in 09 when Glass Matsui had one of his predictable injuries. He hit .291, over 79 PA, played flawless second base, but Cecil Cooper didn’t like him and didn’t want to play him and benched him for 0fer 32 Jason Smith and Matt Suckage Kata, while Maysonet sat on his butt. Ridiculous. Of course, Fast Idiot Eddie had given Kaz a stupid stupid 3 year contract and they weren’t gonna trade him because no one else was that stupid. But they didn’t even TRY to trade Maysonet, get something, just sent him back down and let him rot. He got hurt in 2010, didn’t play much even at AAA, and was released at the end of the year. He was signed by the Brewers as a minor league FA and FINALLY got back to the majors last year for 66 PA – hit .250 with a .643 OPS (did better than Brooks Conrad) and this year, signed as a minor league FA with the C*bs. They have Darwin Barney at second, but you alwys need utility guys. Hope he makes it big at age 31. youneverknow.
- Drew Sutton: drafted in the 15th round of the 04 draft. At the end of 06, he has posted a .789 OPS at high A Salem, and the Astros farm was so terrible, that I had actually heard his name. He spent 07 at AA, repeated in 08 and tore it UP with a .908 OPS. That’s incredible for a second baseman – and they didn’t promote him to AAA during the year because that’s the Astros for you. He was traded at the beginning of the 09 season to the Reds for Jeff Keppinger, and yes, this was one of Fast Eddie’s few GOOD moves not involving a reliever. He’s had plate appearances with at least one major league team every year since 09 and has a total of 308 PA and a .708 OPs (93 OPS+) which ain’t bad. Interestingly enough, his best season was the infamous Beer And Chicken season with the 2011 Red Sox and had a .807 OPS over 60 PA. He didn’t play with them after July and I’ll bet it’s why the team collapsed. Spent last year with the Pirates (beat us with a walk off homer, I remember THAT – of course, beating the Astros happened a lot, but hey, a walk off is a walk off) and Rays and is now back with the Bosox.

And guys who just got a uni and 1-2 ABs:

- Jonny Ash – signed 11th round of the 04 draft from the CWS winning team. Was a “character guy” who fielded well, hit for high average and no power. He hit .314 with a .778 OPS at Corpus in 06, but for some reason, was not promoted. Well, the reason was that the Astros chose to play Cody Ransom, one of those AAA monster hitters instead, to enhance the chances of the team winning. So there went any chance for Jonny. When that happens to you and the Organization won’t trade you, that’s the end. And Jonny played a few more yers at AA, then hung em up.
- Wade Robinson: 13th round of the 03 Astros draft. Had a cumulative .561 OPS at AA, although he had killed the ball at AAA in 87 PA at the end of the season. Was released from the Astros at the end of ST (they really gave him a chance with his one AB), caught on briefly with the Nats for a few months, played in the indys for a few years
- Osvaldo Fernando – signed out of the DR in 02. Hadn’t hit at any level, and been promoted to AA at the end of 06 for some reason. Split the season between high A and AA, hit .250 in both with no power, was promoted to AAA for a few games, then was OOB.

- Edwin D Maldonado – I left him for last because he’s really the epitome of the emptiness of the Astros Organization by 07. He was drafted in the 9th round by the Giants in 2000, crapped out at A ball 2 years later, had played in the indys for FOUR years, had a .911 OPS for Laredo in 06, and they gave him exactly 1 AB to see what he could do vs ML pitching. Yeah, that really told em plenty. Opportunity my ass.

Which is basically true all the time. The Organizations might could say something about no posotions guaranteed/the job is open for anyone to win, blahblahblah, but it’s all a pack of lies. With very few exceptions, they have their minds long since made up by the time that players report to ST.

You notice there is no Chris Burke. Because he’s getting his own entire blog post, that’s why.