Friday, March 20, 2009
at Kissimmee, Fla.
Friday, March 21
Reds at the plate: Laynce Nix logged two of the Reds' hits, singling in the fourth and again in the seventh. Wilkin Castillo doubled in the eighth, and Darnell McDonald doubled to lead off the ninth, when Jonny Gomes drove in two with a double off Bud Norris.
Astros at the plate: Humberto Quintero drove in the first run with a two-out base hit in the second, driving in Geoff Blum. Russ Ortiz followed with an RBI single, scoring Reggie Abercrombie. Darin Erstad led off the sixth with a double and scored on Lance Berkman's first homer this spring.
Reds on the mound: Johnny Cueto allowed two runs on six hits over five innings. Nick Masset threw three innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and one strikeout.
Astros on the mound: Ortiz, the leading candidate to win one of the final spots in the rotation, turned in his strongest outing of the spring, allowing one hit over six innings with two strikeouts. Chris Sampson followed with two scoreless innings.
Grapefruit League records: Astros 2-16-3; Reds 9-12
Up next: The Astros head back out on the road Saturday to play the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Jose Capellan, who is currently competing with Ortiz for the final spot in the rotation, will take the hill for Houston. Capellan threw five shutout innings in his last outing and has not yielded a run all spring.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Who or what is your favorite source for Astros info? (Besides you)
I like MLB a lot, and is a pretty good way to stay ahead of what's happening.
I Googled this. A Pudge is a sandwich. Or it's a rip in a fat girl's jeans.
It's too early to tell. I think the best move he made was putting Bobby Heck in charge of the farm system and scouting, but we don't know enough about yet to make an accurate judgment call. Thing is, aside from Lidge, no one Wade traded has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
I don't think it's a matter of not liking Backe. I just don't get him. I think he was rushed back from TJ surgery too soon, and since he's a hometown guy, he wants to prove himself over and over again. The Astros paid him a good chunk of money the season he lost, and I think he has held that over himself to go out and throw no-hitters - except he loses something when he does that. I like Backe, and I hope he succeeds.
Seeing at the Dot's Coffee Shop on 610 and 45 clear four plates of food when I was a kid. Not kidding.
I think he'll do better than a lot of people think. He is in good shape, and while he isn't Popeye anymore, he was an asset until he went to New York mid-season last year. Plenty of great players have done well outside of New York. So I think he'll hit in the .280 range with 10 homers.
Thankfully it's not too hard to stay connected to the Astros. MLB has their pretty incredible GameDay feature with locations of pitches, just in case I decide not to get the Extra Innings package (wife's call). It's more difficult in that we don't get Fox Sports Houston in Nashville, but not unmanageable.
I am. I'm in two leagues - one with some guys from school, and a dynasty keeper league (every roster spot is a keeper) with buddies from my last job.
Towles was traded to Iran, with the Astros getting eight political prisoners in return. Ha! Seriously, though, J.R. Towes was traded to the Giants, getting a mid-range Double-A prospect in return.
If anyone on this team is going to win the award, it's Hampton.
I would be neutral to it. Dierker inherited a great team. Cooper? Not so much. Cooper inherited a team with two or three great players on it. I'd like to give Coop a fair shot.
“I’m seeing a lot of the same types of at-bats we’re having,” he said. “When you have at-bats and maybe you’re not getting hits, you have to kind of fight a little bit in the at-bats. I don’t see that level of intensity when you’re in there and you’re battling.
“Maybe people feel like they are, but from my point of view, it doesn’t look that way. So it gets a little frustrating. It’s got to be equally frustrating because I have to admit I didn’t have too much frustration as a hitter, so it’s equally frustrating for me to see it and watch it.”
It’s not as though a manager has enough time to focus on hitting in spring training. Among other things, Cooper is supervising coaches, monitoring the race for the fifth spot in the rotation, trying to see which young players will be ready to help this season and monitoring the fight for a utility infield role.
“I’m not the batting coach,” Cooper said. “There’s nothing I can do. It’s not like they’re not getting enough swings. It’s not like they’re not working at it. It’s just awful, and it ain’t just one guy. It’s widespread.”
also on Chron, it provides a record of the worst ST records in the previous 25 years. Worth a read.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
We all know what happens to The Coop when he gets angry!!!!!!!
Spring training records mean nothing. So why do I care that the Astros are now 1-16-3?
Well, I don't. Not that much, anyway.
But the Astros sure aren't making it easy to defend them. They looked every bit of 1-16-3 in today's 12-1 loss to the Mets. You can't even blame this one on minor leaguers, because the Astros brought a representative lineup to Port St. Lucie for the game (Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, among others), and they still looked absolutely awful.
"The fans, I'm sure they're in full panic mode," Berkman said.
What about Berkman? He's an outstanding player, and from the looks of things he's stuck with one terrible team.
Except he insists that's not the way he looks at it.
"I think this [record] is an anomaly," Berkman said. "I'm not the least bit concerned. As long as we stay healthy, our front-line guys are as good as anyone in the league. So I think we're going to be fine.
"I put zero stock in it. If we were 15-1, does that make us World Series favorites? These games are meaningless."
I agree with that. I've always believed that. I know that the White Sox had the American League's worst spring record last year, and they won the American League Central. I know the Mets had the National League's worst spring record in 2007, and while they didn't win the division, they should have (and they did win 88 games).
I know spring training records mean absolutely nothing. I also know that 1-16-3 looks ridiculously bad, and right now, so do the Astros.
"We can't have a good spring now, so we might as well lose the rest of them, too," Berkman joked. "Then when we get to the regular season, we'll be owed a lot of wins."
By the way, if you're wondering who the Astros beat, it was the Nationals, in the very first game of the spring.
at Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Thursday, March 19
Astros at the plate: Lou Santangelo drove in the first run with an infield out in the fifth inning, but the Astros didn't do much else against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, compiling just three hits in his six frames.
Mets at the plate: Jose Reyes, batting leadoff again, contributed a two-run double to a five-run rally in the second inning, and hit another in the fourth, when the Mets scored three times. The Astros contributed two errors and a wild pitch to the five-run second. Nick Evans led off the second with a sharp double and hit his third home run of the spring in the third. Seven of the Mets' runs were unearned. They increased the number of unearned runs against the Astros to 31 in 20 games. The 1999 Mets allowed 20 unearned runs in the entire regular season.
Astros on the mound: In two innings, starter Wandy Rodriguez, who is recovering from a strained muscle in his left side, allowed three hits, two walks and five runs, all but one unearned.
Mets on the mound: Pelfrey, making his third exhibition game start, retired the first 13 batters he faced. He allowed a single, a double and a walk to his subsequent three hitters, but finished allowing just one run on three hits in six innings, lowering his spring ERA to 2.77.
Grapefruit League records: Mets 8-10-1, Astros 1-16-3.
Up next: The Astros will play the Reds in Kissimmee, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday, with Russ Ortiz starting opposite Johnny Cueto.
The Mets travel to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday to play the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. Oliver Perez is to make his first exhibition start since Feb 26, and his first since he was battered -- five home runs in 6 2/3 innings -- in the World Baseball Classic. Bobby Parnell, Darren O'Day and Brian Stokes, all with chances to make the 25-man Opening Day roster, are scheduled to follow Perez. Danys Baez is to start for the Orioles.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez showed up at Osceola County Stadium late Thursday morning before heading to an Orlando area hospital to begin the physical he must pass before his one-year, $1.5 million contract is official with the Astros.
“I'm here to try to finish a physical and then be cleared to play,” he said.
Rodriguez took the first part of his physical before returning to Osceola County Stadium on Thursday afternoon. He'll take the second part of the physical Friday with Astros physician Dr. Tom Mehlhoff, who was already scheduled to be in town Friday.
Depending on when the results of Rodriguez’s blood work are back, the Astros probably won’t announce the signing until late Friday night or Saturday. Even then, Rodriguez might not join the club to play until Sunday because of a previous commitment.
“I'm very excited,” he said. “It's nice. I think it's a good team and I think probably what I got to do is just meet the players and spend time with them for the next two weeks and be ready for opening day.”
Rodriguez, who predicts his first day with the club will be Sunday, visited with Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Brian Moehler at the clubhouse Thursday.
“I just look forward to meeting everybody on Sunday,” he said. “I think when all the physical is done and I'm cleared to play, I'll be ready in the field on Sunday.”
All of that should be accredited to a "Pudge"Well, on paper he brings a replacement value (VORP) of about 1.3 games, which means that he will win the Astros 1.3 more games than the average catcher in the major leagues, however, off paper, Pudge probably brings a little more than a 1.3 VORP seeing as he is a 13 time gold glover (NO not like Danny), 14 time all-star, etc, etc. He knows how to handle a pitching staff, He will be above average defensively with the exception of throwing out runners. Obviously I wouldn't expect anything higher than a .270/310 OBP/10-15 HR/100 K/10 BB line for him in the juice box (HR's may be a little higher). His biggest impact will be developing Wan-Rod, Moehler and company into decent pitchers and helping them win games. That's were a pudge will make an impact. We won't ever be able to tell what Pudge's true VORP is, however, you should be able to see it in Wan-Rod's record for sure this year. I think Wandy goes 10-8 with a 3.65 ERA this year., "P-Rod", "P-Roddy" type player.
Is JR Towles time in Houston almost done?
The rumor mill has been buzzing lately. The catching market is severely thin and Towles is still touted as a great prospect. I wouldn't be surprised if Wade is dodging calls left and right about the catcher since the signing of P Roddy. Obviously, right now the Astros concern is adding depth the the hot corner. Johnson will more than likely make the team out of ST unless a Mark Teahan, Hank Blalock type player is made available at a signficantly low price. All in all, Towles career in Houston hinges off of Chris Johnson being the third baseman or not. If he isn't expect Towles to go packing for someone that can handle the corner. On a side note: The Giants are interested in obtaining a back up catcher. Any thoughts?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Up next: (From "Da footer")
The Astros will travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday to play the Mets at 12:10 p.m. Wandy Rodriguez will make his second appearance since returning from a strained left side muscle. Hunter Pence is not expected to make the trip, as he is still recovering from a mild strain of his left calf after making an "awkward" slide into home plate on Tuesday in Lakeland, Fla.
"If we think there's a need at the end (of camp), there's going to be guys available," Wade said Wednesday. "I got a call today from a club that's got a guy that they want to make available so if we have the need. We know what Blum's capable of doing and we like what CJ's shown so far. We'll let them play and see what happens."
No mention of who "the guy" or which club it was. We all know Wade's policy on trades, free agent signings, etc. So the questions arise in my mind.....
Who fills the vacancy?
Does Chris Johnson get the opportunity to get the nod at the hot corner? Does Blum, who turns 36 in a month, show that he is not a .250 lifetime hitter this year? Does Tejada REALLY make the move to 3rd? Can his arm handle it 5 days a week? (another question arises that I will cover in the post). Can Maysonett or Manzella make a transition to 3rd? With a depleted farm system and NO cash to spend (Supposedly) it is obvious that the Astros can only obtain someone without a high price tag. My thoughts are a Mark Teahan type. He is almost certain to be the 10th man with KC. Actually, that is what the Stros are probably looking for. Someone on a team where there are toooooo many players and not enough roster spots. With that being said, look out for the end of ST when the Stros pick up a average 3rd baseman to supplement Blum until CJ is ready.
Speculation on what team Wade is referring to:
Orioles - Melvin Mora, Cesar Itzuris OR COULD IT BE WIGGY???
Philly - Pedro Feliz
Angels - Chone Figgins, Brandon Wood
Royals - Mark Teahan
Blue Jays - Scott Rolen
any other team that has a 3rd baseman over 40 also fits the bill.
Did Boone tip off Tejada about him leaving so Tejada could make his little PR story about playing 3rd "If need be"? (rant from above made me think of this)
Yes, yes he did. I would bet that Tejada got word or was told directly about something along the lines of Boone possibly being out. He then wondered, should I say I can play 3rd? It would help me if I don't sign with the Stros next year and allow me to move to a less running filled environment over at the hot corner....hmmm..... makes you think huh?
Order an appraisal today in the Houston area.
The open heart surgery hasn’t been set, but it will likely be set shortly to replace his heart's aortic valve.
“We’ll probably schedule it this week,” he said. “It’s not an emergency situation. I don’t have to rush to the table. It is something I have to schedule this week but hopefully we’ll get done in the near future.”
It’s unclear when or if Boone will ever play baseball again.
“Will I play baseball again? I don’t know at this time,” he said. “We’ll cross that bridge as we get here.”
Most of Boone's Astros teammates attended his announcement at Osceola County Stadium.
Here is an idea though, BP should retract their statement and also never ever report on the Astros ever again.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
- Biggio is unannouncing his retirement to play 2nd.
- Ausmus got cut from The Dodgers
- Astros signed Pedro Martinez?????
- Mo Vaughn will now play first (thanks Astros County)
- The Rangers are lending the Astros their farm hands
The impressive side today was Brian Moehler who threw 5 scoreless innings, 4 hits, a walk and three K's. Chris Sampson pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the second time in four days.
Coming up: Mike Hampton will try to build on his four scoreless innings from last outing when he takes the mound against the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. Chien-Ming Wang will start for the Bombers.
Having Pudge in Houston will be a treat for Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who as a child watched Rodriguez play for the Rangers.
"He was one of my favorites growing up in Arlington," he said. "So I'm very excited about it. I watched a lot of Rangers games and I loved Pudge. He was an incredible catcher."
Anyone notice the bold words are past tense? hmm. OUCH!!!
Richard Justice is an idiot. This is about a day or so old but c'mon, the guy doesn't deserve his credentials.
Article on Pudge from Scott over at Astrosdaily.com. Very GOOD read. I thoroughly enjoy his stuff.
Bleacher Report chimes in on Pudge. Although I don't agree with the post at all, it is half way interesting. Basically goes onto to say Pudge can't help because Astros pitching stinks. So how would a veteran, hall of famer, all star catcher help a pitching staff again? HMMMM...
Blogger Richard Zowie has an interesting idea for new Astros logo's.
Once again Hunter Pence's Girlfriend.
At first I thought it was dumb. Not only are The Astros the oldest team in baseball, well, never mind that was the only thought at first. Then I thought how can they add another Miguel Tejada behind the plate? (used to be a really great player who now is on the downside of his career, used steroids and will never put up the numbers he once did).
I then thought, well, I really like Q as a player. I know he isn't the best alternative to a Brad Ausmus type but hell, he will get the job done. What if Q can't hack it? well, Towles surely could be proficient this year, right? Most "fantasy experts" were making Towles their sleeper pick at the backstop this year, maybe it was his year, now we will never know. What happened to Palmisano and Castro? I know these guys are young and all but that is the key word, YOUNG. To me I think my initial reaction of bitterness about the Pudge signing was due to the fact that we have a plethora of catchers as it is and not one of em' is a damn clear choice for C1. That's what led me to this:
Pudge is the "splash" that the Astros were going to make in the free agent pool this year. Drayton finally decided he had to produce something, put some asses in the seats, sell some damn beer. Although this won't truly be able to be analyzed for several months, I ultimately feel (keyword) that Pudge will have a fresh attitude and Towles, Castro and company will learn from the 14 time all-star.
The only resilience I still have is that the Astros are hinging their season off so many "if's". If Hampton throws 20 games...... If Bourn bats well............If Matsui is healthy......If wan-Rod doesn't blow it....If Backe ever gets Backe from his injury...........you see my point.
Most can argue Pudge is old. Pudge couldn't throw out a runner if he had a 60 ft. lasso. Pudge has a bad attitude. I mostly agree based on the previous two years (post steroid). Let's dive into some numbers for all the geeks like myself out there.....
Since 2003 P-Rod has consistently played in fewer games each season (mostly 10 games less a year with the exception of 2006). He hit .276 last year and 2005, his lowest since his rookie season. Not to exclude the good seasons, he hit .297, .300 and .284 in the other seasons since 2003. P-Rod's slugging % has gone down each year since 2003.
The 68 attempts to run against him last year tied his high since 1999, the 47 steals he allowed were his most since 1993, and his 31 percent throwout rate, though still above average, was the lowest of his career. Given where his offense has gone-39 unintentional walks since 2004 and sub-.300 OBPs twice in three years-he's now an average player at best.
I know this post is rather long, however, this is the only time I am going to "rag" on P-Rod. From here I will see how it goes. I like to be positive with baseball, even if right now, The Astros aren't the most positive thing I could write about. On a positive note, check out P-Rod's foundation.
Is P-Rod still better than Q, YES. Am I happy about this singing? Don't know yet. Still some unanswered questions. Where will he hit in the line-up? I think he should hit 7Th or 8Th. Will he catch for Roy O? Ask Roy Oswalt. From what I can tell Roy seems very happy he is here. That is the surface, media coverage angle though. What are my projections for Pudge this year? something like this .283/.320/.745, 11 HR/52 RBI/53 R in 445 AB. Nothing amazing.
Now onto salary. Don't know what the 1.5 mill in incentives is at this point but I would guess it has to do with games played and AB's. Let's say for example that he makes his full contract. That is 3 million for an aging catcher. Let's also say that Backe gets released and we don't owe him anything. that's roughly another million. If we didn't spend money on Boone that would be another 2 mill (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not going to look that up as I'm in the middle of my rant). Also, I think some of the rule 5 guys might go back to their original teams which MAY free up a smidgen of money. For this example let's say the Stros' have roughly 6 mill including what they used on Pudge. 6 mill, hmm, didn't Wiggy want to stay for around that price? Doesn't Pedro (albeit he wants to play for a contender) want about that much for a one year deal? I know the Astros have to do something (it's kind of like the economy and Obama. He has to do something, yet everyone criticises him for acting on it, while others just stand pat) but I'm still curious if The Astros money management has been handled well. With the Plethora of catchers and the lack of SP or a 3rd baseman, I feel that the money would have been better suited at 3rd or for a true 4 or 5 spot pitcher with the ability to not hurt his core because of his mechanics or one that doesn't trip on the rubber and hurt his rib cage.
I sure hope that P-Rod (yes, I call him P-Rod, while others call him I-Rod) proves me wrong and the money was spent appropriately, for now, I'm being a pessimist but I am optimistic on the outlook of the 2009 Astros. Please Pudge, play over your potential.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Rodriguez can make an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses.
At the World Baseball Classic, Rodriguez, a 14-time major league All-Star, is hitting .600 (9-for-15) in four games for Puerto Rico.
Rodriguez hit .276 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 115 games with the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees last year. He is the only player in baseball history with at least 13 Gold Gloves and a career .300 average or better.
He has three more Gold Gloves, earning one as recently as 2007, than Hall of Famer Johnny Bench and almost double the total of Bob Boone, who is third on the list. Among position players, only Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson has more Gold Glove awards.
Rodriguez has caught 2,173 games, trailing only Carlton Fisk (2,226) and Boone (2,225) in terms of longevity behind the plate.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
1994 - A poll conducted for the city of Houston at the request of Astros owner Drayton McLane shows 56 percent disapprove of building a downtown domed stadium primarily for the NFL Oilers and the NBA Rockets. Only 24% approve. Among those who disapprove, 49% say a new park is simply "not needed". Mayor Bob Lanier backs away from supporting the proposed stadium, which sets the scene for the Oilers' later move to Nashville, TN and the creation of a baseball-only downtown facility for the Astros.
When preparing for this year’s fantasy baseball draft, one thing you should notice is the shallowness of second base. For visual proof of this point take a look at its tier rankings. Get my drift? If you aren’t lucky enough to grab top-tier quality, one name to keep in mind when scrambling for your second baseman is Kazuo Matsui.
In 2008, his first year with the Houston Astros, Matsui dealt with another injury-riddled season as he made three trips to the disabled list. Anal fissures, a strained hamstring, and a sore back limited him to just 96 games. When he did play, he was able to provide some value as he chipped in for 58 runs, 20 stolen bases, and a .293 batting average in 375 at-bats. The majority of those at-bats came from atop the lineup, either batting second or leading off.
This spring, manager Cecil Cooper has named Matsui his leadoff man, saying he needs him to set the tone and jump start the team. Providing a spark on the bases has never been a problem for Matsui, as he’s swiped 52 bags over the last two seasons (a 200-game span). Not only does he have the speed but he’s smart in using it, evidenced by his career 85.4% success rate (82 SBs in 96 attempts). While Matsui’s career .331 OBP is sub-par for a leadoff man, it is much better than the woeful .288 posted last year by Michael Bourn, who is clearly not ready to hit atop the order. At the top of the order, Matsui’s run totals are sure to benefit from hitting in front of a power-packed group that has a core of Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Hunter Pence.
Like most sleepers, Matsui does come with his concerns, and the main concern with him is his health. Over his five-year MLB career, Matsui’s affinity for injury has resulted in seven trips to the disabled list and an average of 94 games played per season. He has been hampered by back, knee, and hamstring issues, all which do not bode well for speedsters. Without his speed, Matsui is not worth a roster spot, as he does not come with much power.
The latest MDP report has Matsui as the 235th player taken overall and the 16th player taken eligible at second base. In a standard 12-team draft, this corresponds with a late-19th round selection. Matsui definitely has the skills to outproduce where he is being drafted. With his speed and smarts on the bases, he can steal 25+ bags, atop a solid lineup he can score 80+ runs, and with his solid approach at the plate he can bat .290. If power is what you need though, it is recommended to look elsewhere. At a thin position, I would not mind drafting Matsui as my starting second baseman, and in a deeper league he’d be a great fit at an IF or MI slot.
Sean Acey is an avid Phillies fan who is still basking in the glory of the 2008 World Champions. You can catch up with Sean in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of smoovethug.
The Mets claimed Fernando Nieve off waivers from the Astros. Link
Scott Lauber of the Wilmington News Journal has excerpts from a press conference with Astros GM Ed Wade. Wade, the former Phillies GM, talks about last year's World Series and discusses the Brad Lidge trade.
There seems to still be some buzz on Pudge and The Astros. MLBTR . CBS
Five were optioned to Triple-A Round Rock: infielder Drew Sutton, outfielder Yordany Ramirez, right-hander Sammy Gervacio and lefties Tyler Lumsden and Polin Trinidad.
The Astros also reassigned infielder Mark Saccomanno to Minor League camp. MLB.com
Braves 3 Astros 2. Capellan shows signs of brilliance.
Clay Hensley is out of the mix for a job in the Astros' rotation, manager Cecil Cooper revealed Sunday morning.
The race for the fifth-starter job appears to be down to three, although realistically, Felipe Paulino and his 12.60 spring ERA is, for all intents and purposes, barely a realistic candidate. That leaves Jose Capellan and Russ Ortiz, with the edge probably going to Ortiz only because of the tremendous success he's had as a starter through his career before injuries set in.
Roy Oswalt was a work horse for the USA team.
Sorry for the absence over the weekend. Over the weekend you should check out fellow Astros Blogger, Astros County.