Friday, April 17, 2009

Drew Sutton

Apparently the Reds website said it is Sutton. No time to confirm gotta get the kidd-o's! have a great weekend and sorry for my absence. I'm trying to get a new laptop soon.

Reds will announce PTBNL


4:19pm: The Enquirer's Nick Hurm has the name. The Reds will recieve infielder Drew Sutton, who will head straight to Triple-A Louisville. Sutton, 25, hit .317 with 20 home runs and 69 RBI last season at Double-A Corpus Christi.

He was named the Astros' eighth best prospect by Baseball America prior to this season.

1:28pm: According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds found out Thursday who they'll be getting for Jeff Keppinger.

Keppinger was dealt to the Astros on March 31 for a player to be named later. That mystery man will be revealed shortly. "We'll probably announce it this week," said Reds GM Walt Jocketty. Fay also adds this:

When the deal was made, Jocketty said the player-to-be-named was a minor leaguer. He wouldn't say that Wednesday. So I guess there's a chance it's a big league player. I believe the Reds need to clear a spot on the 40-man, if that's the case.

Some new stuff

So I think what I will be doin' in order to keep up with work, kids, court and no lap top is to post at the end of a series and give you a recap of what took place.

Also, If someone would like to write for The Unofficial Official, it would be greatly appreciated. I refuse to delete this blog regardless of the lack of time I have in front of me. I will have some stuff put together about the Pitt series later this afternoon. To all those who have "checked in" on me, thank you and yes, we will move forward as we can and go from there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Copper first manager on the Block? NAH

So this article form Ken Rosenthal is pretty, well, stupid.

and I quote:

Cooper is a ready scapegoat; McLane allowed him to enter the final year of his contract without offering him an extension. The Astros' veterans do not care for Cooper, and the team's 1-6 start — following its 1-16-3 start in spring training — points to a lack of preparation.

First, What's wrong with evaluating a manager in a full year as opposed to a half season-like last year. I think I would want to see what I'm paying for on an entire evaluation, not a snippet. Second, Who is his source of veterans that don't like Coop? I honestly don't think that Berkman and Roy Oswalt, being the veteran leaders they are, would come out and say that to someone. I may be mistaken and missed this but honestly, it's my blog! Thirdly, the 1-16-3 start is attributed to letting the AA, AA and invites play. We already know that the big 3 and a handful of other guys are going to make the team.

So he fired me up today. He goes on to say that Buck Showalter should be manager and that Drayton is blind if he thinks the 'Stros are going to contend. Ever wonder if Drayton ever really thought that?

Pedro Martinez should be an Astro

Honestly, nobody else in baseball will accept his terroristic like 5 million dollar a year demand. I could see Drayton forking it over, I mean it's in his blood to overpay for over pitchers over the age of 35. I'm not in any way saying this will happen, just a thought.

Pedro is turning into The Manny Saga part deux. He wants too much money, but SOMEONE will pay it eventually. The Angels' balked at his demands the other day as it appears Pedro's agent reached out to them. They are waiting on Lackey and Santana to recover. The Met's pretty much said see ya'. I could really see someone like the A's paying just a tad too much for him or the O's who missed out on Teixera & Burnett.

What do you think? Will Pedro pull a Roger and pitch a half season in Houston for too much money?

Off day links and news

Kinda bored so thought I would throw some stuff out there.

  • Harry Kalas, famed Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster, and voice of NFL Films died yesterday at the age of 73. A member of the original Houston Astros radio crew along with Gene Elston, Kalas worked in Houston from 1965 to 1970. A true legend, indeed. He passed away while at the ballpark. I suppose that's fitting for a man such as Mr. Kalas
  • Just hours after Harry Kalas' death, the sadness around MLB was exacerbated as former pitcher Mark Fidrych was found dead at his Massachusetts home. He was 54. "The Bird" was the 1976 AL Rookie of the Year. A character on and off the field, baseball has lost one of it's genuinely good people
  • Fangraphs lists the top ten prospects of the NL Central clubs. Our top guy is Jason Castro, followed by Drew Sutton and Brian Bogusevic. I like that Sutton is getting some dap nationally
  • Richard Justice has a suggestion for Drayton McLane: Cut out the middle men, and manage the Astros yourself. He seems to be on point for the most part in his takes...I fear the apocolypse as a result
  • Bud Norris' PCL debut was yesterday: 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 4 H. I think we're all waiting for him to step up and pitch the way he's capable of. Offensively, JR Towles hit a double in three plate appearances in a 8-4 loss to Omaha
  • On Sunday, Jason Castro and Koby Clemens continued slugging en route to a 7-4 victory for Lancaster
  • Burger King is under fire from multiple fronts. First, Mexicans are upset at the fast food chain for their recent ads for the "Texican" burger. Second, feminists are up in arms over a commercial advertising their Kid's Meal...The day it's inappropriate to air sexually suggestive material aimed at children will be a sad day indeed
  • Unfortunately, I can see Astros fans being sent this card in July.
  • The Nationals have the right idea- let fans bring their own food into the game. With the economy as poor as it is, any inducement to come out to the park is well worth the effort
  • We're not the only team struggling with a veteran starting pitcher. Jeff Suppan isn't exactly thrilling the folks up in Milwaukee
  • A scoreless bottom of the eighth inning of a blowout 15-5 victory for the Tampa Bay Rays was a bit more interesting than one would have thought. New York Yankees first baseman Nick Swisher came in to pitch, and didn't allow a run. He even struck out Gabe "The Babe" Kapler. That's for having a first name that easily lends itself to having the nickname, "The Babe." Here's what his pitches looked like.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

thank god it's an off day.

Busier than a hooker in a Korean brothel on "sailor day". Will have some stuff up later tonight.

Rant of the week. AND I'M OUT

What an awful 2 days.

First, Kyle Freaking Lohse throws a 3 hit shutout. The next day, Zach Freaking Duke throws a four hit 2 walk shutout. We're not talking aces here.

When Michael Bourn is leading your team in RBIs, you KNOW you are in trouble. The guys look absolutely lifeless up there, to put it mildly VERY mildly.

In Lohse's game, Wandy walked 3, trying not to give up any runs, and his defense sure 'nuff didn't do him any favors. Moehler was simply awful from the get-go. His ERA went DOWN from 38 to 27 - turns out he is having knee pain (what a surprise) and is going for an MRI - wonder what they are going to do if he goes on the DL - Capellan, probably, as I doubt Backe will be ready.

I have no idea what to do or say about Berkman and Lee not hitting. If they don't hit, we're not gonna win too much, and they picked a bad time to slump together. I also don't like Pence in the 2-hole because he's gotten overly aggressive and is swinging at pitches low and away again. Might could be time to get another hitting coach.

Yes, I know that the pitching has been rotten, too, except for Sampson and Wandy. Then again, I've never been a fan of Dewey Robinson.

I remember that in 05, we lost something like 20 of our first 21 away games. It wasn't quite as demoralizing because we won at least half of our home games, and so far this year, we've only had 3 home games. The only way that a long long losing streak would be good is if it somehow shakes Drayton out of his complacency, not that I'm holding my breath.

So overall, I hereby think it is time to quote that great baseball mind, George Scott (ex Brewer):

"If we're gonna win, the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager gotta manage better and the owners gotta own better."

Couldn't of said it better my own self.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Game delayed but underway..

So far, Matsui grounded out to second and Tejada doubled to center. Berkman is up with 2 balls no strikes. Not sure why the game was delayed.

Pirates kick off home opener with a noon'er against the 'Stros

Brian Moehler will try to recover from a bomb of a game last week. Zach Duke will try to keep control of the big 3. Zach Duke is so a fantasy sleeper. Nobody in Pitt gets credit except for Nate McClouth, who couldn't hit Tina Turner if he tried. OUCH, I'm going to hold my tongue on the what do you think Moehler is going to do today, etc. Let's just see what happens since it's still early. Literally, it's early for me.

Today is a noon'er game. I will try to post an update around 1-2.

Oh, hope everyone had a great Easter, here is a pic of the kids getting some egg huntin' on

Baby momma left, me top, Peyton left, Malorie bottom, Kylie right.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Unofficial has switched to a new template.

Thought it looked a little neater and less confusing....or something like that. Let me know what you think

Brocail hits the DL...Fulchino called up

Doug Brocail never lies. At least about his injuries. the 13 time DL'er told Ed Wade and Cecil "The Incredible Hulk II" he was having trouble with his arm, and as a result, the veteran right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list with the rotator cuff strain he was diagnosed with on Saturday. Sorry, I know this was on Saturday, but i'm playing "ketchup" at the office and tomorrow is hot dog Monday.

Jeff Fulchino got the call to join the big league club. Fulchino started for the Express on Saturday, but anticipating they may need him, the Astros put him on a strict pitch limit. Fulchino threw approximately 35 pitches over two innings, while Alberto Arias pitched the next 2 1/3 innings.

Lohse throw a 3 hitter. Astros Lose 3-0

So on one hand i'm happy. I got Lohse off waivers yesterday in my Roto keeper league. On the other hand, it was a depressing series against the Redbird's. Is that one word or two? Anyhow, let's not beat around "the Busch" ha, ZINNNGG. I was kind of scared when the Astros lost to the Cubs but had all those homeruns. Guess I wasn't overly worried bacause it looked like the bats were connecting, mostly. Well have you noticed something? How about the RISP and left on base stats. It's still pretty early in the season to get all puffed up over a minimal amount of stats, but hell i'm already delving deep into em' in all my fantasy leagues, so, why not? Obviously we already know that the 'Stros lost 3-0, let's not talk about that much.

The Astros are dead last in the NL in runs. 15th in the NL (out of 16 teams) in XBH's, and have left an ungodly amount of runners on base. At first, the Cub's game didn't scare me too much because, like I said, the 'Stros covered it with the schlama ding-dongs. There seems to be a trend happening thus far this season, the Astros aren't getting key hits, which means they aren't producing runs. Someone needs to step up, I know Berkman is hitting, he just isn't hitting a godly like .375 like he needs to be for the season. In time the luck will correct itself and the Astros should fly a little straighter, but for now, this is sickening. If this happens much longer, someone is going to have to get some fire lit under these guys. Wonder if Coop will turn into the Hulk again.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunday Match-up. Wan-Rod against Kyle Lohse

Saturday April 12th

will pair off against Kyle Lohse, who is coming off a stellar performance against Pittsburgh.

Scouting Report:
Astros: Rodriguez will stay on his regular schedule despite Thursday's off day. The lefty was 1-2 with a 1.11 ERA over four starts against the Cardinals in 2008, allowing three runs over 24 1/3 innings. In his career, Rodriguez is 2-6 with a 4.08 ERA against St. Louis. He's allowed 24 earned runs over 53 innings.

Cardinals: It will be interesting to see how Lohse responds after a pretty tough assignment in his first start. He grinded out seven innings, with the last two being fairly eventful, and needed 108 pitches to do so. Those certainly aren't red-flag numbers, but Lohse did work hard on a chilly night early in the season. It's reasonable to expect him to show no ill effects, but if he does look a bit winded against Houston, his battle against the Pirates may partly explain it.

Saturday Match-up

Saturday April 11th

Roy Oswalt faces off against Adam Wainwright at Busch Stadium.

Scouting Report:

Astros: Oswalt will stay on schedule to pitch every fifth day, which pushes the fifth starter, Russ Ortiz, out of the rotation the first time through. Oswalt was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA over two starts vs. the Cardinals last year. He is 9-6 with a 2.90 ERA in his career against St. Louis.Cardinals: Wainwright's first regular season start looked a lot like most of his games in the spring. There was plenty to like, starting with seven strikeouts. But there was also plenty to give pause, most notably five walks, tying a career high. Wainwright needed 94 pitches to get 16 outs, and that's not going to be good enough. He must be more efficient and get deeper into games.

Cardinals: Wainwright's first regular season start looked a lot like most of his games in the spring. There was plenty to like, starting with seven strikeouts. But there was also plenty to give pause, most notably five walks, tying a career high. Wainwright needed 94 pitches to get 16 outs, and that's not going to be good enough. He must be more efficient and get deeper into games.

Astros claim Wilton Lopez from the Padres

The Astros added a right-handed pitcher to their organization on Friday, claiming Wilton Lopez off waivers from the Padres. They optioned him to Double-A Corpus Christi, and, to make room for him on the club's 40-man roster, transferred infielder Aaron Boone to the 60-day disabled list.

The 25-year-old Lopez has a 6-5 record and a 4.13 ERA and 16 saves over 111 relief appearances during three Minor League seasons with the Padres and Yankees organizations. In 2008, he pitched at three levels within the Padres farm system: Class A Lake Elsinore, Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Portland, making a combined 58 relief outings.

Lopez was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 2002.

Anyone think this could be the PTBNL in the Keppinger deal?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lap top wanted

So, as stated the other day, I am going through some legal stuff for my kids, work is crazy and NOW all of a sudden my laptop screwed up. i know the problem and just need to get a new one. No sense in resurecting the dead. If anyone knows someone who wants to sell, trade or GIVE a lap top, let me know. I'm not looking for a hand out by any means, just something affordable in these weird times. If anyone points me in the right direction, I will make them an Unofficial Official, or something really cool!

Brandon Backe throws like a girl...still

So Backe may not be Backe for a while...or something like that. interpret it how you would like. Let's skip the part where I show you the article and give you my now for my thoughts......See ya Backe....that's pretty much it in a nutshell. So he threw like 40 pitches and gave the cliche statement any pitcher gives when trying to re-bound from an injury....something to the effect of: I was just trying to get used to the mound and re-acquaint myself with the rubber. bla, bla, bla.

Honestly, I don't think we need him with the exception of when/if Hampton or Ortiz or Moehler or Wan-Rod or Oswalt gets hurt. OK, so we need him...damn it.

Next Up: Friday @ St Louis

Mike Hampton will make his first start of the year against Albert Pujols and company on Friday. Hampy is attempting to throw a complete season for the first time since 2004. After ending a strong 08' with the Braves and a decent spring training with the spacemen, Hampton has more confidence than ever, plus he uses Head & Shoulders, which helps. During ST Hampy Hamperton threw 30 innings with 22 K's and 7 free rides to candyland. More impressive was his 4.80 ERA. OK, it wasn't that impressive, but still, for a number 5 starter who is like 68 years old, pretty impressive.

Let's look at some lifetime stats against the Red Birds.

Hampy has logged 150.1 IP's, 144 hits, 95 K's and a 3.71 ERA.
This is nothing spectacular by any means, but it is somewhat impressive given his career averages being a little bit higher against other teams. Don't look for Hampy to overwhelm anyone in the game, but he will provide enough support for the Astros to get something going offensively.

The tale of the tape: Joel Pineiro:

Astros hitters have only logged 27 Ab's lifetime against Pineiro. The big 3 of Berkman, Lee and Tejada have pretty much owned Pineiro in the small snippet of AB's. Berk and Tejada are sluggin like 2.100000 against him. Hell, even Brandon Backe has a .333 avg against the guy. All of that really may not matter as Pineiro threw six scoreless innings on Monday to close out spring training. He was a former potential closer for Boston before Papelbon was well, before Papelbon was Papelbon. Pineiro was converted to a back end starter for the 2009 campaign. Pineiro's 6-2 record, 3.94 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 14 career games (13 starts) at Busch Stadium paints the picture of a match ups pitcher with minimal appeal.

Swami says:

Look for the big 3 to mash against the Puerto Rican on Friday. Astros 6 Card's 4

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

May Fortune Favor the Foolish.

Another installment from Scott Barzilla, very good read. Any Bill James fan is a friend of mine! once again, thanks Scott.

May Fortune Favor the Foolish

By Scott Barzilla

It’s hard to call Ed Wade foolish considering that the club nearly pulled off a miracle in 2008 and had a better draft than the club had had in years. However, a series of winter moves seem to be either head scratchers and/or duds. Toby Hall was brought in to solidify the catching situation. Oops. The club let Ty Wigginton go because he was too expensive only to see him sign for three million a season. Then, they quickly scooped up washed up third baseman Aaron Boone only to lose him to open heart surgery this spring. Despite all of these events, everything seems to be working out. The club has a significant upgrade at catcher with Ivan Rodriguez and presumably a defensive upgrade at third base with Jeff Keppinger and Geoff Blum.

Fielding is kind of a new wave in statistical analysis. Bill James and his ilk have pretty much pegged offense at this point in time, but we have a number of different approaches to fielding analysis. Part of that is dependent on how you approach fielding. Some look at pure volume of plays made while others look at percentage of plays made. My personal favorite is the Fielding Bible approach. John Dewan takes plays that other players at the position routinely make, sometimes make, and rarely make and then creates a +/- approach to the analysis. However, this isn’t to say that this is necessarily the best approach.

One of the things we have learned across the board in fielding analysis is that players can have career seasons and slumps just like they can with the bat. Anyone that bases any analysis based on only one season deserves what they get with the glove or the bat. The Yankees seem to use this approach and they’ve been burned more than occasionally. You don’t have to be a seamhead to know that you better steer pretty clear of A.J. Burnett. Of course, the Yankees and Braves didn’t know that. Most reasonable people could see Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright’s meltdown coming a mile away. The same is true with hitters and fielders. The Cubs are buying big into Milton Bradley after one great season in Texas. If you drafted Josh Hamilton in your fantasy draft then I wish you the best of luck.

When we move back to fielding we look at one of the facets of baseball people rarely focus on. Who could blame them? A scant ten years ago you had about as good a chance of picking out a truly good fielder as winning at the roulette wheel. Sure, everyone can pick out the butchers and the best, but the in between is harder to peg. Now, those odds are a little better. Still, very few teams make moves based on the sabermetric fielding numbers I described above. The Astros may have lucked out based on everything that has happened. Since Morgan Ensberg melted down, the Astros have seen a collection of butchers man the position regularly. Mike Lamb and Ty Wigginton aren’t going to win any gold gloves. Before we look at 2009, we should look at how the old Astros did the last three seasons at the position.

INN +/-

Ty Wigginton

1573.2 -26

Geoff Blum

854.1 +12

Aaron Boone

1024.0 -20

Which of these don’t belong? Well, it would be the guy who is staying. Through their bumbling, the Astros managed to shed themselves of the two worst defensive options they had at third base. They replace them with Blum and Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger has a zero (average) rating at the position in over 250 innings over the last three seasons. So, a weakness has become a strength. Kaz Matsui has a good defensive pedigree even if he didn’t perform well last season and Miguel Tejada played inspired (for him) defense last season. Combine that with Lance Berkman (who is second to only Albert Pujols in defensive prowess) and you have one of the better defensive infields in baseball. Imagine what would have been if the Astros had any luck.

On the other hand, the Astros probably considered the offensive numbers and they are beginning to change the high strikeout tendencies of their offense. Below we will look at last season’s lineup with their walks per 100 PA and strikeouts per 100 PA. Then, we will look at the current lineup assuming that Keppinger gets the majority the plate appearances at third base. Hopefully, this projects to the Astros having fewer slumps than they have had in the past.


SO/100 BB/100

CF Michael Bourn

21.60 7.20

2B Kaz Matsui

12.56 8.77

1B Lance Berkman

16.24 14.89

LF Carlos Lee

10.19 7.69

SS Miguel Tejada

10.81 3.60

RF Hunter Pence

19.31 6.23

3B Ty Wigginton

16.08 7.46

C Brad Ausmus

16.40 10.00

When you only have two guys in the regular lineup that even draw ten walks in 100 plate appearances then things are bad. If you have three regulars that have three times as many strikeouts as walks it’s really bad. No wonder this team scores runs in bunches. We can only hope that things will be better with a little more contact in 2009.


2B Kaz Matsui

12.56 8.77

3B Jeff Keppinger

5.06 6.71

1B Lance Berkman

16.24 14.89

LF Carlos Lee

10.19 7.69

RF Hunter Pence

19.31 6.23

SS Miguel Tejada

10.81 3.60

C Ivan Rodriguez

16.34 3.81

CF Michael Bourn

21.60 7.20

Pudge isn’t exactly an efficient hitter, so the talk of having him hit in the two hole is downright scary. Having Keppinger in the second spot is actually an appetizing thought. He isn’t a traditionally high OBP guy, but he will make contact. He is a great guy to do hit and runs with because he will put the ball in play. The key for this season is for Hunter Pence to continue improving as he did at the end of last season. Keppinger and Rodriguez are mixed blessings, but overall the lineup is better since Rodriguez and Bourn are able to hit near the bottom.

Astros top Cubs 3-2

So, it's 11 at night. I found some time to get on here. Yay me! (unenthusiastic)

Here's the skinny from Yahoo:

Jeff Keppinger’s broken-bat single in the 10th inning off closer Kevin Gregg gave the Houston Astros a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

Hunter Pence homered and Michael Bourn had an RBI single for the Astros, who carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth before Alfonso Soriano hit a long home run off LaTroy Hawkins.

Ivan Rodriguez opened the bottom of the 10th with an infield single down the third-base line, his first hit with Houston after starting the season 0-for-7. Lance Berkman followed with another single off Neal Cotts (0-1) before Cubs manager Lou Piniella brought in Gregg.

First off, Hunter Pence, I screwed myself by not starting you tonight in my fantasy leagues (got him in 2 out of 4). I thought you were going to start off slow this year after your performance last night. I no longer have a man crush on you.

The Astros piled 10 hits through 10 innings. Pretty impressive considering. Hitting .277 (.278 if you're a rounder) as a team is pretty impressive as well, considering.

Ah, do you smell it? No, it's not what the Rock is cookin, ya Jabroni. It's the smell of seeing the ball, making contact and things happening. Wait, does that really have a smell?

So my prediction of Lee being the game breaker wasn't true, so what? he went 0-4. Gulp, pride swallowed.

Offensive player of the game: Hunter Pence

Offensive suck of the game: P-Rod"less" (went 1-4 with 3 K's and left 2 guys on base)

Pitcher of the game: Wan-Rod and Valverde. Wandy had 4 K's and 3 free rides to Candyland in 6 IP. Valverde was Valverde K'ing two in the ninth.

Next up: Wednesay VS Chicago Cubs - Moehler will take the mound against Ted Lilly.

I got some time!!! Next Game Tonight

Wan-Rod is on the mound against Ryan Dempster. The tale of the tape:


Dempster proved last season that you can go home again. He successfully made the transition back to starting and won a career-high 17 games. Named to the All-Star team, the right-hander became just the second pitcher since 1969 to record 25 or more saves in a season, then win at least 17 games the next year (baseballstats). John Hiller was the last to do so in 1973-74. There's no place like Wrigley Field for Dempster, who was 14-3 at home. It's the most wins in Chicago since Fergie Jenkins won a franchise-record 15 in 1967.

Dempster is 4-10 lifetime against the spacemen with a 4.50 ERA over the course of 122 IP's. Look for him to have a mediocre game against the 'Stros tonight.


Rodriguez has won nine games in each of his four Major League seasons and ranks in the top 10 among all NL left-handers in wins (sixth), innings pitched (ninth) and opponents batting average (seventh) during that span. Rodriguez was 5-5 with a 2.99 ERA over 14 home starts in 2008, and he posted three months with a sub-3.00 ERA: April (2.31), June (2.30) and September (1.38).

Wan-Rod really needs a good start to the year. If he can get the confidence wheels rolling, I see him winning 13 games +/- this year. Wandy is 4-4 with a 4.68 ERA lifetime against the Cubbies. With that being said about Wandy and Dempster, look for this game to be won in the batters box.

Astros Lineup against the Cubs (in no particular order):

Berkman .240
Bourn .341 (in 41 AB's)
Blum .225
Keppinger .343
Matsui .275
Tejada .349 (in 68 AB'S)
Pence .283
Lee .310

That's all I have time for, but you get the point. Look for Lee to be the deciding factor in the game tonight for the 'Stros. Wow, I did this in 5 minutes. Like I said earlier, sorry for the hiatus I HAVE to take. I will be posting but it won't be the in depth, good stuff. Good luck and thanks to the guys that sent me some emails. I am looking at adding one-two bloggers to keep this thing going! Email me if you want to help!

Astros Lose....and i'm on hiatus

So, I vowed to never do this, but I must take a break. I just started a custody case for my kids and on top of that everyone and their mom are ordering appraisals. I have absolutely no time. Stay up to date with Astros County until further notice. Oh and the Astros lost 4-2 to the Cubs.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gone fishin'

be back tomorrow. Today is toooooo pretty to worry about Astros stuff. Will upload a pic of whatever I catch. I hear Lake Houston has some nice white Bass.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thanks for the success.

The Unofficial Astros Blog has reached 13,120 visitors as of now since early March of this year. Thanks to all the readers.

To Twitter or not to Twitter, that is the question.

I have been trying out Twitter for about a month and have gained a cute little following. Join me on Twitter.

Next Game: At Corpus Christi Hooks 04/02 6:05 PM

Click to enlarge.

Astros 7 Reds 2. Kepp on former team, Johnson rises like a star and falls to RR

Michael Bourn led off the third with a double, stole third and scored on a base hit by Kazuo Matsui. Darin Erstad knocked a solo homer in the sixth. Chris Johnson drove in a run with a triple in the seventh and scored on a Reggie Abercrombie sacrifice fly.

Roy Oswalt made his last start before the regular season, and threw only four innings cause he didn't eat his Wheaties.

Michael Bourn was an unusual suspect in yesterday's game. Bourn went 3-for-3 including a two-bagger in the third, and swiped two bases to push his Grapefruit League-leading total to 11. As I noted in a post not too long ago, Bourn would get the average up and only patience would bring it. He has hit .247 in ST, however, he has raised that average from a dismal .167 since late march to the current .247. Look for him to continue to grow as a player with the boost of confidence he is getting.

Keppinger on former team:

“It’s been exciting, actually,” Keppinger said. “It’s a better opportunity for me over here, and I like this ballclub. This ballclub looks good.”

Keppinger, 28, will platoon at third base with Geoff Blum, taking a position originally held by Aaron Boone, who is out for the year after undergoing open-heart surgery. Keppinger hit .360 last year against lefthanders and is a career .287 hitter overall.

“They’ll be on a left-right kind of (platoon),” manager Cecil Cooper said. “(Keppinger) is a guy who can also play short or second. There are more options there.”

When talking about his new team, Keppinger smiled as he looked around the clubhouse at the lockers or Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Ivan Rodriguez.

“You look at the Reds, and that’s pretty much the kind of guys they don’t have over there,” he said. “They don’t have a big three-hole guy who can knock it out of the park in any direction and hit .300 every year.”

Chris Johnson shines before being sent down:

Third baseman Chris Johnson was reassigned to Class AAA Round Rock but will travel with the Astros to Corpus Christi for today’s exhibition and this weekend’s games against Cleveland in Houston.

The Astros’ top position-player prospect, Johnson hit .245 with one homer and seven RBIs in 53 at-bats in his first major league camp.

The move leaves the Astros with 28 healthy players and all but guarantees Jason Smith has made the club as a backup infielder. The other three players likely to get cut before Monday are outfielder Reggie Abercrombie, catcher Lou Santangelo and pitcher Jose Capellan.

Astros receive NL Murcer Award

First off, let's figure out what the award is.

The Murcer Award is given to the team in both the American League and NL whose players contribute the most amount of money to B.A.T. through the Major League Baseball (MLB) Payroll Deduction Program. The award will be presented by Bobby's widow Kay during the 2010 Annual B.A.T. Dinner. The Astros contributed the most money of any NL team, and the Yankees were tops in the AL.

Organizers of B.A.T. revealed that they have collected nearly $1.5 million during their seventh annual Spring Training tour to raise funds for members of the baseball family in need.

Not sure how much the 'Stros or Yank-me's raised. This just goes to show that no matter the make up of a major league club, everyone still gives a litle, Even Drayton. Here is what he had to say about the fundraiser:

"We are extremely proud of all the MLB players and their generous dedication to helping those in need within the baseball family. These funds are especially critical during these difficult economic times. It really lifts my spirits to know that the Houston Astros players have made such a sizeable commitment and are being awarded the Bobby Murcer Award for contributing the most in the National League. We are very honored."

In the Astros Blogosphere: Thoughts on Jeff Keppinger

Tim Dierkes, with MLBTR, chimes in with his thoughts on Keppinger:

"I don't mind adding Keppinger in a utility role, it seems like the price won't end up being anything significant. But a Keppinger/Blum platoon...unless these guys are amazing defensively, that is going to hurt the team. The Astros' offense seems neither great nor terrible, and finding a league average hitter for the hot corner would add a few wins."

Scott Barzilla over at

"It’s funny how perception works. The Astros sign Ivan Rodriguez and it’s a stroke of genius. The Astros trade a player to be named later for Jeff Keppinger and people don’t blink an eye. Keppinger has been playing off and on since 2004. He has amassed 968 plate appearances in that time as a utility infielder. He became the regular shortstop last year in Alex Gonzalez’s absence. Funny, when you compare the two in basic terms it’s hard to tell the difference.


Keppinger .287 .338 .390 .728

Rodriguez .295 .325 .444 .769

The difference between the two is primarily in slugging, but the differences have been diminishing as Rodriguez’s power numbers are going. Irod slugged .394 last season. So again, how much are they different? This isn’t to say that this is a bad deal. In fact, there are rumors that Brandon Backe is the player to be named later. Ridding themselves of Backe is enough to make this a good deal. However, what this deal is really about is plugging a gaping hole with someone that won’t kill you. Keppinger isn’t the missing piece, but he does make third base a little more palatable."

Astros County has his take:

"I like the Keppinger trade. He's young-ish, cheap ($475,000, or thereabouts), can play a lot of different positions, and can drill lefties. Providing he's over the kneecap injury, I think he'll be a good addition if/when Chris Johnson is ready to take over full-time in 2010. I'm going to withhold complete judgment until I see who the PTBNL is..."

County and I talked VIA email over this PTBNL (player to be named later). Dusty Baker seems to think that the player is Drew Sutton. Not Cool. On one hand, Baker also thinks signing Gary Sheffield is a great idea. We all know Dusty is a little crazy, but he has been saying he wants to get younger and faster. This would be one of those opportunities. More on this later.

I would say the overall consensus here is that "The Kepp" isn't going to kill the Astros. I do agree with Tim about the platoon role, and that the move will bring in minimal wins. I definitely like the analysis from Scott. I was hoping that Backe would be the PTBNL. I really don't think it will be, but then again, I think Backe is done in Houston one way or another this season, just depends on when the Astros decide to get rid of him. Astros County is right, Kepp is relatively cheap (minus Drew Sutton) and can fill in as necessary. This Drew Sutton thing getting thrown out there really makes this move a little more to the negative to me. Drew Sutton shouldn't be given up for Kepp. Straight up. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Astros optioned pitchers Alberto Arias and Jeff Fulchino to the minors

Announcement came after the win over the Braves yesterday. Not much to report there.

Arias threw 10 innings with 8 hits, 9 K's and 2 BB over the course of ST.

Fulchino's line looks somewhat similar, 14 innings with 11 hits, 5 K's and 2 BB.

Astros beat the Braves. NICE

With Russ Ortiz leading the charge against the Braves, the 'Stros easily walked away with a win on Tuesday night. Astros player of the game had to be Carlos Lee, who was hitting .178 heading into the game. Lee went 2-for-3 with a double, home run and four RBIs. This win was pretty impressive seeing as the Braves have been pretty decent through spring training, Derek Lowe was on the mound for the Braves and the Astros were still missing Berkman, who has sat out the last four games with biceps tendinitis in his left shoulder.

Berkman said Monday that he planned to DH on Tuesday, but Houston manager elected not to use a DH against the Braves in order to give Berkman another day of rest. Berkman is expected to play Wednesday against Cincinnati.

Ortiz will get the nod at SP5, Unofficially. Maysonet sent to RR

Alyson Footer thinks so anyhow. Ortiz threw amazing last night against the Braves, with the exception of the 3 run shlamma-ding-dong he gave up to Chipper Jones. Although it hasn't been made official, and nobody in the Astros organization has mentioned anything, Ortiz has to have the SP5 spot on lock-down like a prison guard. Capellan was/is his only competition thus far, and although Capellan has thrown great, Ortiz has to either make the team or be released. Capellan can be sent to the minors, so, the choice is obvious. Here is what Ortiz had to say about IF and WHEN he gets the official notice.

"The biggest thing is, I try not to get caught up in that and it's hard," Ortiz said. "I want to make the team and be in Houston. I just always go back to, I can't control any decisions, I can't worry about tomorrow. Just work on what I need to work on that day, and that's how I've done it all spring. I'm not going to change until I hear one way or another."

In other Astros news, Edwin Maysonet was sent to RR. Maysonet played decent this spring and although he is heading to RR, look for him to get some time with the big league club this year.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MLBTR says the Astros got Keppinger.

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Astros acquired out of options infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Reds for a player to be named later. Looks like Keppinger will be Houston's third base addition.

Keppinger, 29 in April, hit .266/.310/.346 in 502 plate appearances last year while playing all around the infield (mostly shortstop).

This isn't a bad signing at all, considering. He will throw a decent glove at the hot corner and can also fill in for Miggy and Kaz assuming Tejada can't hack it full time and Matsui has another round of anal fissures. Didn't really need to add the last part about Kaz, but it's fun making fun of someone with anal problems..

De La Vara sent back to Royals.

De La Vara cleared waivers and was then shipped back to the Royals for half ($25K) of what the Astros paid. Over a span of eight games, he allowed nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings, for an 8.38 ERA.

Take a look at the MLB site, which has the info. Read the first comment, this guy is an ignoramus.

What have I missed?

Well, Berkman appears to be getting strength in his shoulder again. Let's move on. He basically said in an interview that he wants to play and it's getting better daily. Whether or not he misses a game or two, let's not panic.

Hampton had a bad outing against the Phil's. We can't expect him to play like Hampton, class of 99' everyday, but we can expect him to do this on occasion.

The front office still has some decisions to make for the roster. LINK.

MLBTR has a rather bleak outlook for the 2009 Astros.

Covered some fantasy stuff of

Not really Astros stuff here, but Gary Sheffield was released today and the Tigers will eat 14 Million of his salary. Wow, tough economic times, huh?

Monday, March 30, 2009

busy day

Will be back tomorrow. Check Astros County for anything you might need to read about today. Refi's are a plenty!!! Everyone know what tomorrow is?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tejada doesn't need the juice anymore

After standing up to his unimaginable crime of injecting his ass with syringes full of HGH, Tejada wanted to show everyone he doesn't need the juice anymore than Pete Rose didn't need to gamble on baseball. What? Anyhow, Tejada homered for the first time since hearing his sentence for possibly taking steroids (which was way too harsh, I think) (Sarcasm anyone?). Who needs the juice if you can jack dingers all day? Among his schlama damma ding dong was two hits and driving in two runs to lead the Houston Astros to a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tejada went 3-for-3 with an RBI double and a single to back Roy Oswalt, who was making his first start since returning from the World Baseball Classic.

Roy Oswalt allowed 10 hits and three runs in six innings. OUCH, guess not being on the world platform doesn't give you that adrenaline sometimes. Bring it back next time Roy.

Norris, Towles cut

The Astros made two roster moves Friday morning, sending right-hander Bud Norris and catcher J.R. Towles to Minor League camp.

Norris will join the Round Rock rotation, but he will be the first pitcher considered if a need arises in either the rotation or the bullpen in Houston.

Towles was edged out when the club signed Pudge Rodriguez, which moved Humberto Quintero to a backup role.

More in this later.

Astros catcher Castro only top 100 prospect

Not like this is news or anything. We all know the Astros farm system stinks worse than that ugly girl you took to prom. I forgot to post this when it first came out. Not only that but I had two Monster Energy Drinks this morning on the way to work, so, i'm kinda ready to GGGGITTTY UP!. Have a look at the prospects.

Bits & Pieces

Bits and Pieces from around the Internet:

"Lance Berkman's improvement as a baserunner last year extended beyond his surprising 18-for-22 performance as a basestealer. "He also scored from second 16 times, after having done it only six times the year before, and was thrown out on the bases five fewer times."

"The third base platoon position is still not settled and neither is the backup infield slot. Otherwise, in spite of the fact that final moves have not been made, Lance is starting to hit like his usual self, Clank and Bourn are also picking it up and now that Miggy Te-roider has gotten his wrist slapped, maybe he will settle down and at least hit for average, if not power. Pudge Rodriguez appears to have hit it off with Wandy (thank God) as well as the rest of the staff, who, by the way, are still pitching decently."

Who is the NL Central sleeper team:
This division belongs to the Cubs, and Milwaukee finished with 90 wins. They're expected to regress, but even if they don't, it's not a Cinderella team. Houston finished 86-76, which shocked a lot of pundits and they're expected to finish in the basement. Okay, they could be a Cinderella team. St. Louis also went 86-76 but strangely seems to be completely off the map. There's another option. Cincinnati, like Florida, is trendy. Pittsburgh... next!

Rockies infielder Jeff Baker, unaffected by the trade rumors, homered twice yesterday.

Brian McTaggart of the Houston Chronicle talked to Astros GM Ed Wade about the difference between guaranteed and non-guaranteed contracts.

Boone's surgery a success

Aaron Boone underwent open heart surgery Thursday at the Stanford University Medical Center, and early indications are that the procedure was successful.

"I spoke to Aaron's father Bob and he indicated that things went well," Astros General Manager Ed Wade said in a statement released by the Astros. "Certainly our prayers are with Aaron and the entire Boone family in hopes of a full recovery."

Dr. D. Craig Miller was scheduled to perform the surgery, which was to include the replacement of an aortic valve. In medical terms, the procedure that Boone was scheduled to undergo is called bicuspid aortic valve aneurysm surgery, which included an aortic valve replacement.

The 36-year-old Boone revealed last week that he has had the heart condition since he was in college and categorized the surgery as "not an emergency situation."

Boone said he would like to play baseball again but was not sure he would. It is highly unlikely he will play again this year. Boone described the recovery time for the surgery to be "several months."

Courtesy of Alyson Footer.

Richard Justice wears flip flops year round

So when the Astros got Tejada Justice was beside himself. When Tejada hit well the first couple months he was in Houston, Justice said, "I told you so". When Tejada slumped the last few weeks, Justice, of course, barked up Wade's horrible trade history, wondered how anyone could trade for Tejada and criticized everything possible involved with Tejada. Well, Justice is now on the path of flip flopping like a crappie on the dock once again. I think last week Justice praised McLane for signing Pudge (steroid user), however, Tejada gets a thumbs down because he used steroids and got a slap on the wrist? Honestly, how does Justice get to write for the Chron? He should pick a position and stick with it. I understand Justice includes a lot of sarcasm, I can pick up on that, but writing something for the sake of writing it isn't a great way to work. Guess I just don't know enough, seeing as he writes for Chron and i'm stuck to my small piece of the pie.

Appearence on

Here is a link to an article on of some Astros fantasy baseball breakdown stuff I did for Kyle C. Have a look.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tejada Sentenced

"Miguel Tejada was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service, in addition to a $5,000 fine, for lying to Congress about performancing-enhancing drugs."

Shame on you Tejada, and that gigantic fine should serve you right, all 5K of it.

So who is REALLY playing 3rd..UPDATE

Scouring the depths of the web for something to post today, I keep seeing possible players being named that the Astros may acquire. Let's take a look at who they are and the odds on getting picked up.

Jeff Baker - Uber utility man for the Rockies, who has spent a portion of ST dealing with an inflamed right elbow, is out of options. He specialized in second base but has played pretty much everywhere. He hit .309 in his first two major league seasons (07' & 08'). He is making roughly 400K, which is within the Astros payroll. He would be a clear upgrade over Blum/Insert name here. Baker is my first choice.

Mark Teahan - Another utility man, kinda. Teahan is just above league average in HR's, Avg, and RBI. He is currently 3B2, LF2 and has been playing 2nd in ST this year. Still unclear if he will remain with the Royals or not. Another good pick if the Astros can make something work, although, he is making 2 million and change. Baker still gets the edge as he costs significantly less and projects about the same as Teahan.

Melvin Mora - Originally signed as an amatuer free agent in 1991 by the Astros, Mora will not be with the Astros come opening day. Although his age (37) fits the Astros quite well, his price tag is around 7 Million. Nobody was really interested in Mora during the offseason and I highly doubt that even though the Astros need for a 3rd baseman are that bad. Compare Mora to Johnson and I think the Astros would rather just let the newbie work it out at the hot corner.

That is really about all I have heard in the rumor mill. I keep racking my brain to wonder who the Astros would possibly trade for and it just isn't working. I know the only real trade bait right now is JR Towles, but he had a lackluster spring and probably won't get many GM's peeing their pants to get him. In addition, the Astros would only get prospect(s) for Towles and they severely need a major league ready guy.

Unless Wade pulls a couple million out of his ass, don't expect much at the hot corner.

Another win.

So as you may have noticed, I haven't really been reporting on the Astros wins thus far. I didn't want to sound to pessimistic in their lose every day campaign. Looks like I won't have to worry about that anymore.

The Astros rallied in the ninth to win against the redbird's 4-3 in last nights game. P-Rod cranked dat like Soulja Boy in the 3rd last night for a solo HR. Jason Smith and Hunter Pence had 3 hits a piece. The biggest hit of the night came from Michael Bourn who hit, what Snoop would call a drizzler, up the middle to bring in the go ahead run.

Gret performances from the mound as well. Russ Ortiz threw 5 great innings. After breezing through his first inning, Geoff Geary was touched for two runs in his second. Wesley Wright picked up the win in relief with a scoreless eighth.

Next Up: Houston is off on Thursday, then returns to action with an appealing pitching matchup at home on Friday. Roy Oswalt will make his first start since returning from the World Baseball Classic when he pitches at home against Brett Myers and the Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ryan Gaydos with Bleacher Report thinks Astros finish 5th

I honestly think they finish better than that. Pittsburgh can't possibly be better than the Spacemen. Cincinnati does have some good arms, young speedy guys, however, they lost several key players including Jeremy Affeldt, Josh Fogg, Matt Belisle, Ryan Freel, Corey Patterson, Paul Bako, David Ross, Javier Valentin, and of course, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., and Todd Coffey were lost mid-season.

Still feel we finish a hair higher than the red birds and just below the Bre Crew, for 3rd in the Central.

Oh yeah, article here.

Paronto's injury better than thought

Paronto left Monday's game with what was originally diagnosed as a right shoulder muscle strain, but after undergoing a series of strength tests the next morning, the right-hander was told he should be OK after a few days of rest. The source of the pain, according to Paronto, is isolated to where the back and shoulder meet.

"I've been playing for 13 years, and this is the first thing that's ever happened to me," Paronto said. "I don't know how to go about it."

Paronto became visibly agitated when the injury first happened, acting more out of frustration than pain.

"I was panicked," he said.

Understandably so. Paronto has had one of the better springs of all Astros relievers, and while he isn't expected to make the club out of Spring Training, he's hoping to finish the month strong. In seven appearances, Paronto has earned three earned runs over 10 innings for a 2.70 ERA.

"I've never had anything like this happen," he said. "I've never been hurt. I've been very lucky with that. Things have been going so well this spring that this isn't a good time for this to happen. You want to have a good showing, even if it's an outside shot."

Courtesy of Alyson Footer

Wan-Rod doesn't need a manicure anymore

Apparently Wandy Rodriguez has no more pain in his fingernail. Whew, I was pretty scared for a second that his broken finger nail may hurt his mechanics and somehow injure his rib. OK, that was sarcasm, but it should be noted that this really could hurt him further. i don't know, guess I just don't like hearing that a professional athlete is pondering taking some time off because their fingernail is broken. Honestly, try using that as an excuse at your job.

Anyhow, Wan-Rod did appear stellar against the Mets. He allowed two hits and walked two, but did not allow a run in his longest outing of the spring. The true test arrived when he threw his curveball, a pitch that wasn't working for him last time out because he was unable to dig his fingernail into the ball as he normally would do.

This time, Rodriguez threw the curveball, and all of his other pitches, without any pain.

"I felt it a little, but I could control my curveball," Rodriguez said. "I felt it, but it wasn't bad. I need to work more because today, I missed my location a little bit. I'm going to be OK, I didn't feel any soreness."

Rodriguez is projected to fall somewhere in the middle of the Astros' rotation this year, although manager Cecil Cooper hasn't yet revealed how the remaining four will line up after Roy Oswalt. Cooper did reveal he's considering moving Rodriguez's next start up one day, to Saturday, "to line him up" for opening week.

Face it, Wan-Rod is our number 2 guy this year unless Ben Sheets, Andy Pettitte, Jake Peavy or Roger Clemens want to come this way.

"Da Foot" reports on the youngins' in camp

Good read, Cooper gives some decent insight into his mindset with the rookies. HERE.

Brian Moehler dodges bullets, Bogusevic's fate sealed

Brian Moehler is apparently dodging bullets these days. After taking a hit off his shoulder the other day, Moehler reports no lingering issues. he will throw a side on Friday and pitch on Sunday.

Copper sealed Bogusevic's fate in an interview when asked if he could be a backup option if Michael Bourn struggles, Cooper offered up two other options instead.

"We have two guys who we're counting on to play the corners and some center field and come off the bench -- [Darin] Erstad and [Jason] Michaels. And we'll have to look there before we go in another direction."

See ya at RR, buddy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who, REALLY, is going to play 3rd base?

Scouring the depths of the web for something to post today, I keep seeing possible players being named that the Astros may acquire. Let's take a look at who they are and the odds on getting picked up.

Jeff Baker - Uber utility man for the Rockies, who has spent a portion of ST dealing with an inflamed right elbow, is out of options. He specialized in second base but has played pretty much everywhere. He hit .309 in his first two major league seasons (07' & 08'). He is making roughly 400K, which is within the Astros payroll. He would be a clear upgrade over Blum/Insert name here. Baker is my first choice.

Mark Teahan - Another utility man, kinda. Teahan is just above league average in HR's, Avg, and RBI. He is currently 3B2, LF2 and has been playing 2nd in ST this year. Still unclear if he will remain with the Royals or not. Another good pick if the Astros can make something work, although, he is making 2 million and change. Baker still gets the edge as he costs significantly less and projects about the same as Teahan.

Will have more later today or tomorrow.

Catch me on Astros County

Recently did an interview with Astros County. Very good guy, until we are both at the top and fighting for position. Muhahaha, yes, everything is going according to plan. Not only a great individual, but a good blogger who has very good stuff on the Astros. Go check it out! If you missed the Q & A I did with Astros County, check it out here.

In the Astros Blogosphere with Scott Barzilla

I have been following fellow blogger, Scott Barzilla with, for quite some time now. I recently asked him to be the first guest blogger on “In the Astros Blogosphere” feature that I will be entertaining weekly. Scott is an amazingly bright individual who spends his free time with his two year old daughter, playing golf and baseball. He probably has a better collection of Max Bishop memorabilia than you in his closet. Scott has a book coming out in the spring covering his first ten years as a teacher, which is entitled; Combating Ignorance: Inside and Outside the classroom.

Gambling vs. Investing

By Scott Barzilla

I’m sure you think you are getting stuck in a financial seminar, but really I am talking about two ways to build a bullpen. You can either gamble or you can invest. There are general managers out there that are good at both. Believe it or not, it is one of Ed Wade’s strengths. The concept is pretty simple. I’m sure most of you have noticed that bullpen performance tends to fluctuate from season to season. In many respects, bullpen performance is one of the categories that makes predicting the final standings difficult. The reason is that most prognosticators go by what happened last year instead of looking at what might happen.

When you look at the Astros for instance, you will see a very good bullpen. In particular, after Latroy Hawkins was picked up, the Astros bullpen was nearly spotless. Overall, it was easily one of the top five bullpens in the National League. Surprisingly, the Astros were one of the top five or six teams in the National League despite having a roster that looked mediocre or worse. This is one of the many reasons why some optimistic fans have picked them to win while most casual observers see the same mediocre roster. Before we go too far, we need to have a primer course in why relief pitching is so unpredictable.

You can split fans and analysts into three categories. First, you have your simpletons like Joe Morgan. They look at wins and losses. Most fans and analysts don’t fall into that category. They recognize that winning and losing is predicated mostly on luck. The second category looks at statistics like ERA and WHIP. However, much of that is also predicated on luck. The sabermetricians are the third category. We look at statistics called DIPS (defense independent pitching statistics). In other words, you can learn a whole lot more by looking at strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed than you can at ERA. In particular, another statistic (BABIP) really opens eyes.

Relief pitchers’ relative performance changes more from season to season than starting pitchers because of the sample size involved. In 200 innings, a pitcher’s luck will typically even out which makes using ERA a little more reliable. In 50 innings, a pitcher’s ERA is very dependent on luck. BABIP (or batting average on balls in play) fluctuates wildly from season to season and as BABIP goes so goes ERA. So, a pitcher with a 3.00 ERA might easily have a 5.00 ERA the next season without changing all that much. A good gambling general manager can take advantage of that.

In short, a gambler will sign guys who had down seasons expecting them to bounce back. If you look at BABIP for instance, you will notice that the league average BABIP usually comes in around .300. After you remove walks, strikeouts, and home runs, that is usually where most hitters and pitchers will wind up. If you find a pitcher that came in well above that then you can expect him to improve with even average luck. Some teams (like the Astros last season) came in below that overall. With a good defense, you can expect quite a boost in performance. Naturally, the reverse is true for pitchers with a very low BABIP. The temptation of the gambling GM is the same as the conventional gambler. It is easy to see success and expect that success to continue. Thus, the Astros have the same bullpen coming back. Here is a quick look at their collective efforts.


Jose Valverde

72.0 10.37 2.87 1.25 .281

Latroy Hawkins

62.0 6.98 3.19 0.44 .279

Doug Broacail
68.7 8.38 2.75 1.05 .289

Geoff Geary

64.0 6.33 3.94 0.42 .228

Chris Sampson

117.3 4.68 1.76 0.61 .287

Wesley Wright

55.2 9.22 5.50 1.29 .252

Tim Byrdak

55.1 7.64 4.75 1.63 .235

You might be thinking that ERAs and won-loss records are missing, but you really don’t need them. You know that Jose Valverde is the best pitcher based on his strikeout rate. You know that the two lefties are shaky based on their high walk and home run rates. This of course brings us to the whole art of gambling. The Astros gambled and gambled big on Geoff Geary and Tim Byrdak. Byrdak was an outrageously lucky bargain. The reason the house always wins is because the house knows you are stupid enough to keep playing long odds if your first play is a win. A smart gambler knows when he was lucky and walks away. The rest of spring will tell us if the Astros are smart enough to walk away from Tim Byrdak.

Geary was a gamble, but a calculated one given that he at least keeps the ball in the park. However, there are rumblings that he is on the trading block. If that is the case then the Astros could dodge two bullets and end up with another solid pen. If they keep Byrdak and Geary in place of someone else they could end up being a bad pen.

Investing always sounds better than gambling, but really they are not that much different. The only difference is that investing usually pays off over the long haul. In the short term, they are one in the game. If Ed Wade seems more the gambling sort we can’t blame him too much. Investing in the bullpen involves having live young arms that will tend to put up the kind of numbers that Valverde, Brocial, and Wright are putting up in the strikeout department. Once you get that, you simply bank on improvement as we hope to get from Wright this year. Since Wright is the only pitcher that can be called a prospect, Wade can’t do a whole lot of investing.

The trouble with investing is that those pitchers eventually become arbitration eligible or free agent eligible. So, the hope is that they get it before they become expensive. Wade would like to get to that point, but right now he has to keep looking for bargain players in the hopes they will strike it lucky with their BABIPs. The problem is that Wade has never mentioned BABIP before, so we don’t know if he agrees with the principles I’ve outlined. If he does, you can easily find a dozen or so guys that were bitten by the hit bug last year. Good luck and bad luck rarely repeat themselves two years in a row. Of course, it looks like Astros fans will have to hope that happens in 2009.

Once again, Scott, thanks for the insight and see you in the blogosphere!

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is a test for a feature I am working on.

Alyson Footer's blog. Info for Pudge and Wandy.
clipped from
Wandy Rodriguez's next start was pushed back a day, and now the left-hander is tentatively expected to throw on Tuesday.
Rodriguez hurt the tip of the index finger on his left hand after being hit with a comebacker during his start against the Mets last Thursday.
"I was able to keep pitching in the game after it hit me," said Rodriguez, who gave up five runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks over two innings Thursday. "It just hurts a lot and feels like it's going to bleed when I throw my curveball. I even tried to [poke] it with a needle (Saturday night) to get the blood out of there, but the blood is still on the tip."
Because he digs that index finger into the ball when he he throws his curveball, he cannot pitch through this injury, as he discovered during a recent bullpen session.
 blog it