Posts Tagged ‘hou’

11/07: The 2008 Astros’ So-Called Farm

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

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.
Check this:
                  “…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.

Astros In The Infield For 2008 – Part 3 – Adam Everett And The Rest

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Adam Everett, the quintessential great glove no bat shortstop. He’s going to be entering his second arb year and earned 2.8 mill last year. He’ll get some sort of raise, but it won’t be much because he’s not exactly Mr. Hit Person and because he missed half of the season thanks to Carlos Lee.

It is simply not true that in MLB, it doesn’t matter at all if fielders can catch balls, that only hitting matters. That is true only with fantasy baseball, and that is why it is called “fantasy.”

I know very well that a lot of Astros fans really do believe that Adam couldn’t get another job with any other ML team and that he couldn’t even get a job with an AAA team. I can’t help what you want to believe. But the fact is that he is now with the Houston Astros, so if you want to DFA him and replace him with someone else, let’s hear it. The Astros need SOME guy to play short and it had better not be Loretta again.

So, if all yall don’t want Adam back, then who DO you want and how do you plan to get him?
A few ground rules – IF you want to trade for some other club’s SS or even AAA SS, well then, you have to say not just who we are going to trade for BUT who we would trade to the other club AND make it work in terms of who that club wants/needs and also have it make sense in terms of contracts and money. For example, on a certain message board, a fanatical Red Sox fan (is there any other kind) was explaining how the Devil Rays should happily trade Scott Kazmir to them for Coco Crisp (the D-Rays need another OF, even a mediocre one like Crispy, like a grrrl needs a second husband) plus Jon Lester plus some AA pitcher who only threw 40 innings this year. So let’s not go suggesting Really Dumb Trades like that. Also, please remember that Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt have FULL no-trade clauses and that Lance has made it MORE than clear that he refuses to be traded and that Drayton luuuuvvvvvvs Carlos and he is NOT going anywhere.

First, let’s ask who might could have any real value in a trade besides Lee, Oswalt and Berkman – and let’s be serious, OK? GMs are NOT calling about Dave Borkowski.) There aren’t many, are there? Hunter Pence (league minimum year 2) of course, Luke Scott (league minimum year 2, and lefty OF with a good glove and a .855 OPS even though the Astros don’t think he’s valuable), Chad Qualls (3rd year, will get a raise from his 441K salary this year), Brad Lidge (3rd arb year, received 5.35 mill), Wandy Rodriguez (YES, he IS valuable – he’s 3rd year, a lefty who will get a raise from his 401K salary) and there would be some degree of interest in pitchers Matt Albers, Brandon Backe and Troy Patton. Maybe Chris Burke. We have NO top minor league prospects to trade.

Second, IF we trade away a player, you have to either replace him in the trade, or name his replacement from either the 40 man or the minor league system. And no playing Phil Garner position switches, neither. Lance Berkman can’t play center, I don’t CARE if he did back in the day.

Only 3 FA shortstops:

David Eckstein, age 33. He just finished a 3 year contract, and earned 4.58 mill this past year. The Pest, the 2006 WS MVP. I luuuuvvvv the little guy, but fact is that he’s been on the DL quite a bit the past 2 years and has played hurt quite a bit. Actually, the only years that he spent no time at all on the DL were 2002 and 2005. He’s the Astros fans’ kind of player – very few walks – 47/average year – and very few K – 51/yr. He also averages around 10-11 GIDP/year. He isn’t a slugger, as yall might could guess, but he hits 20-25 doubles a year and gets on base at around a .350 clip. And as we know very well, he almost always takes the first pitch and he’s undaunted by 2 strikes.

Funny, I thought he hit like .400 at the Box, but I guess he only hits like that when I want him to get himself out. Actually, he’s .267/.307/.361/.668 – which isn’t exactly this great improvement over Adam Everett. Worst of all, his fielding skills seriously declined last year, perhaps because of his injuries. However, he committed 20 errors, turned approximately 15% fewer DP, saw his ZR drop from .857 to .812 and his RF drop to 4.52 from 4.73. He started his baseball career as a second baseman, then was moved to short by the Angels because their second base position was occupied. Perhaps he needs to move back to second…

Cesar Izturis, age 28. Amazing, I remember when he was supposed to be The Next Big Thing. At least according to Dusty Baker. Anyway, he spent 4 years with the Dodgers until he was traded to the Cubs at the deadline in 06 for Greg Maddux – Dusty was ecstatic. However, Lou Pinella didn’t share his ecstasy (must have been the lousy hitting and suckulous glove) and Cesar + cash was traded to the Pirates for some PTBNL. His career high OPS is .711 and his lifetime average stats – .259/.295/.334/.629. We aren’t talking a Hanley Ramirez bat here. In 2007, he had a ZR of .817 and a RF of 4.01 – worse than Eckstein. Actually, he’s always had a pretty low RF – 4.53 average. Not in ANY way better than Adam, who, in case yall curious, has a RF of 4.93 and a ZR of .880.

Omar Vizquel, age 41. Who stole 2 Gold Gloves from Adam. He just finished a 3 year contract with the Giants and was paid 5.14 mill last year. Yes, he HAS had some great years, no question. But he isn’t exactly Mr. Bat – lifetime OPS of .697 and last year, he had a line of .246/.305/.361/.621. His glove didn’t deteriorate at all – RF of 4.65 and ZR of .862. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s that he’s 10 years older than Adam and honestly, I don’t see the point of the swap.
- Let me remind all yall at this point that most shortstops are not Troy Tulowitsky, they are glove men who have an OPS in the 600s and bat 8th.

And just for fun, here are Miguel Tejada’s stats: .287/.344/.477/.821 lifetime. His BA was fine last year, .297, but his SLG was way down – he usually averages around 35 doubles and 27 homers, but last year, he only hit 19 doubles and 18 homers. He’s actually been declining since signing his 6 year contract 4 years ago. As for his glove? Well, he’s always made a LOT of errors – averaging 20-24 errors/162 games -†ZR was .824 with a RF of 4.27.  Yes, he’d be changing leagues, so he might hit better (or he might hit worse) but he is most definitely on the downside of his career and you are talking 13-14 million a year for 2 years. Oh yeah, you don’t think Baltimore would pick up part of THAT contract considering that we don’t really have any valuable trading chips, now do you?

And that is that for major leaguers.

Minor leaguers?
Well, we have Tommy Manzella, age 25, who was selected in the 3rd round in 05. He split the season between A and AA. He did better in AA, a better hitting league – .289/.343/.382/.724. BA rated him as the Astros best defensive infielder in 2006 – not that this is exactly great compliment, seeing the other minor leaguers we have in the system.

We have Cody Ransom, age 32, who I discussed a few days ago in reference to second basemen. I was informed by a reader that I didn’t see him play and I am this moron who has no idea what an incredible ballplayer he is who is highly regarded by all these baseball people who Know What They Are Talking About. Unlike me.

I see.

It does seem to explain why all these teams have been desperately trying to trade for him, why he has received all these Spring Training invitations over the past 2 years. So anyway, if anyone has any actual INFORMATION about Ransom’s incredible incredibleness and how he has made this incredible transformation over the past 2 years from the mediocre AAAA player that he was the previous 6 years that will most certainly translate to major league excellence – by all means, let’s hear it.

In the meantime, I certainly don’t see any available shortstop who would be an improvement over Adam Everett. But, of course, I AM open to suggestions…

Astros In The Outfield For 2008, Part 2: Right Fielders

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

No Astros news this past week. The Yanks hogged the team-out-of-the-playoffs-spotlight with the Joe Torre drama. So back to checking on the free agents.

Part 1 looked at free agent CF.

Now, let’s take a look at free agent RF and at out own OF on our 40 man:

Right fielders (and 2 guys who could play right)

Bobby Abreu, age 34 -Yanks have a 16 mill club option. As for fielding, well, he has a very bad rep, which he doesn’t totally deserve with a RF of 2.15 (high is 2.68) and a ZR of .858, which, I admit is not quite as good – high is .971 (among guys who played at least 400 innings in right – 11th of 16, and, in fact, Jack Cust had a better rating – yikes!!!) Offensively, he’s definitely on the downslide of his career. He steals between 22-35 bases a year and usually hits 20 homers, but his walk rate and slugging rate dropped considerably this year. He has a career OPS of .908 and he slid to .814 this year. Of course he won’t get any 16 mill on the open market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if SOMEone will give him a multi year deal, which I sure wouldn’t.

Shawn Green, age 35 – Mets have a 10 mill club option. Dude can NOT field and he can’t hit lefties at all and barely hits rightys. Ummmm, no.

Jose Guillen, age 32 – Mariners have 9 mill club option. Good hitter, and I will be absolutely stunned if the Mariners don’t keep him. He has the reputation of, uh, whatever the Latin is for uppity, so much so that his team, the Angels, chose to bench him at the cost of losing the playoffs. As for fielding, he has the reputation of being good, but I was surprised to see that his numbers are below those of Bobby Abreu with a RF of 1.96 and a ZR of .796 – interesting that Bobby has the rep of being a totally lead glove and Guillen of being a totally golden one. Neither one deserves it.

Geoff Jenkins, age 33, who really can’t hit lefties very well any more. Had a VERY good glove most of his career, but had fallen the past few years. He’s still got a good RF – 2.30 (5th of 15†NL fielders with over 500 innings. You DID guess correctly that Carlos Lard was dead last with 1.77) and a decent ZR of .889 (again, 5th of 15 and guess who is last)†

Luis Gonzalez, age 41 should consider himself lucky that he got a contract THIS year. He’s been cooked for several years. He is only a part-timer at best and these days, he can’t even hold a candle to Luke Scott with either bat or glove.

Reggie Sanders, age 40. Has been hurt for almost 2 years straight and it is most DEFINITELY time to retire. I always liked Reggie and he had a very nice career and it’s a shame he never played for us – he hit like Barry Lamar 2001 in the Box.

Shannon Stewart, age 34. Has that nice high average low power sort of stats that Stros fans clamor for. Bats around .295 with a .390 SLG. Few Ks, few BB, 13-15 GIDP a year. Thing is, he’s been playing left for the past 6 years and at his age, I doubt he could move to center and do well – he’s about a league average fielder in left. Needless to say, with an 88, 88 and 96 OPS+ over the past 3 years, yes I know, in the AL, he certainly isn’t better than Luke Scott, who hits for power.

Brad Wilkerson, age 31 – only had 320 AB this year and 358 last because of injuries. He’s lifetime .250/354/451/804, but since the Expos left Montreal, he’s declined. This year, he’s walked 43 times and K’d 107. That, my friends, is a higher rate than the King of K Preston Wilson. He only played 275 innings in left, which is really not the best sample size, but he had a ZR of .880. However, last year, he played 664 innings in left and had a ZR of .814, which is seeping dangerously down to Carlos territory. He has spent very little of his career playing right, and the sample size over the past 6 years is only 356 innings.

Our OF (not including Carlos Lee, who is cemented – hahahaha – in left)

Luke Scott, age 29 – not sure exactly what he did to earn the enmity of the Organization, but here is a guy who hits a homer every 20 AB. His seasonal average in the ML is 36 doubles, 9 triples, 20 homers, 65 BB, 112 K and 74 RBIs. And as I’ve said before, Luke’s glove in right is excellent – 4th best among regular RF in the NL. AND he’ll earn a salary barely above league minimum.

Hunter Pence, age 25. Will of course be paid barely above minimum. In 484 PA, he hit 30 doubles, 9 triples, 17 HR, 26 BB (kept em low, didn’t he) 95 K, 10 GIDP, 11 SB, 5 CS. Hit hitting line .322/.360/.539/.899. VERY good for a CF, in fact, first among CF with at least 400 AB. His glove wasn’t bad either – RF of 2.83 (believe it or not, Jason Lane was better at 2.85, but Ryan Church was best among fielders with >300 innings at 3.02) and a ZR of .866 (and again, Jason Lane was better with .876 and Hunter was 15th among CF with >300 innings.) And Willy Taveras, so terribly missed by so many Stros fans, had a RF of 2.76 and a ZR of .823 – so much for Willy’s “incredible” defense.

Reggie Abercrombie, age 27. Claimed off waivers from the Marlins in spite of the fact that he, uh, well, um, got some, uh, flava to him and he hits worse than Jason Lane. In 2006 in 225 AB, he hit .211/.271/.333/.604. He was even worse this year – in 76 AB, he hit .197/.238/.316/.554. His minor league numbers aren’t exactly outstanding – in almost 3000 AB, he hit .266/.310/.438/.748. I don’t have minor league fielding stats such as zone rating and range factor, but in 716 innings in the majors (104 games) he has a 2.90 RF and a .909 ZR, both good, but VERY small sample size. Of course, he’d get the ML minimum, but unlike Josh Anderson, he’s a righty. Not sure exactly why we bothered to get him except to show that the Astros aren’t opposed to having brothas on the team.

Josh Anderson, age 25. Would earn ML minimum, of course. Had only 67 AB in the majors – 21 singles, 3 doubles, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 6 K, no GIDP – hit .358/.413/.403/.816. He’s essentially a singles hitter who doesn’t walk much, just like Willy T. His line is .290/.342/.373/.715 over his minor league career.

And there you have it.
Unless we TRADE for someone, and let’s be honest here, we really have almost nobody to trade, best to stick with who we have.