Friday, April 10, 2009
Wan-Rod will pair off against Kyle Lohse, who is coming off a stellar performance against Pittsburgh.
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.
Roy Oswalt faces off against Adam Wainwright at Busch Stadium.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
CF Michael Bourn
2B Kaz Matsui
1B Lance Berkman
LF Carlos Lee
SS Miguel Tejada
RF Hunter Pence
3B Ty Wigginton
C Brad Ausmus
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
3B Jeff Keppinger
1B Lance Berkman
LF Carlos Lee
RF Hunter Pence
SS Miguel Tejada
C Ivan Rodriguez
CF Michael Bourn
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.
Here's the skinny from Yahoo:
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.
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):
Bourn .341 (in 41 AB's)
Tejada .349 (in 68 AB'S)
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!