Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter League Recaps

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Perth over Sydney 4-3 in 15 innings
Brandon Barnes went 1 for 5 with two intentional walks, a strikeout and an outfield assist for Sydney.

No other Astros players were involved in winter league play yesterday.

Happy Birthday - 1/21

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Dave Smith (died December 17, 2008 at 53)
Pitched in 563 games for Houston from 1980 to 1990
ERA of 2.53 and WHIP of 1.189 for Astros with 199 saves
All-Star in 1986 and 1990

SS Jose Uribe (died December 8, 2006 at 47)
Played in 45 games for Houston in 1993

RHP Jeff McCurry (42)
Pitched in 5 games for Houston in 1999

Tweet of the Day



Neiko Johnson
Swing felt good today in the cage using this.....thanks to my boy lol
pic.twitter.com/Q72Kx1om

Roster Moves - 1/20/12

The Astros announced the signing of C Chris Snyder, a Houston native, to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2013.  This is a terrific signing, and will give the Astros not only good catching depth, but also some breathing room as Jason Castro heals from foot surgery.  Snyder has a decent bat, which is something that the Astros have lacked in the catching position, but is also a good defensive catcher which, to me, is the more important consideration.  After struggling through a season in which Carlos Corporan threw out only 17% of base stealers, we will now have Quintero with a lifetime 32% CS and Chris Snyder with a 30% CS, as we wait for Jason Castro (37% CS in majors & 43% CS in minors) to get healthy.  Here is the full story from Campbell and Levine.

To make room for Snyder on the 40-Man Roster, a move will have to be made.  I'm not going to venture a guess as to who that will be because I've been wrong the last two times.

RHP Henry Villar, who was removed from the 40-Man Roster to make room for Fernando Martinez has apparently cleared waivers and was outrighted to OKC.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview with Jordan Comadena

MLBReports posted this interview with C Jordan Comadena.  It's definitely worth your time!

Winter League Recaps

Very little Astros action to report as the playoffs wind down ~

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Sydney over Perth 4-2
Brandon Barnes was 0 for 4 with a walk, a strikeout and scored a run for Sydney in yesterday's game.  Today's game just started and he is currently 0 for 1 with a strikeout.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Aguilas over Licey 5-4
*Robinson Cancel went 1 for 3 with two strikeouts for Licey.

Both the Gigantes team and the Licey team have now been eliminated from the playoffs.  I think that the only Astro still participating in the Dominican League playoffs is Aneury Rodriquez for Escogido.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 1/20

LF/1B Carlos Lee (36)
Originally signed as a NDFA out of Panama by the White Sox in 1994, Lee was signed by the Astros as a free agent in 2006.  In 749 games for Houston from 2007 to 2011, he has compiled a .286/.340/.488/.828 batting line with 128 home runs.  His best season was the injury-shortened 2008 season (115 games) in which he hit .314/.368/.569/.937.  2012 is the final year of his contract.

One former Astro with a birthday today

RHP Matt Albers (29)
Pitched in 35 games for Houston in 2006 and 2007
Traded to Baltimore in 2007 as a part of the Miguel Tejada trade

Tweet of the Day

Jason Chowning was diagnosed with a small labrum tear in his shoulder (not torn all the way through) after the season was over. This is what he had to say when I asked him how the shoulder was doing.



 seems to be doing alright. Threw three days in a row. An aired it out [a little*] today. Sore but that's just the cob webs.
~~~~~~~~
*I edited his tweet because he appeared to be the victim of auto-correct.  "A little" turned into "spittle."  Gotta love that technology!

No Announced Roster Moves Today

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter League Recaps

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Guasave over Culiacan 6-4
Brad Snyder went 1 for 4 and scored a run for Guasave.  Guasave won the semifinal series over Culiacan and will go on to play Obregon in the finals starting on Saturday.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

La Guaira over Magallanes 9-8
Gabriel Garcia came in to the game in a difficult situation and didn't fare very well.  In the 7th inning, he came in with the bases loaded and failed to record an out as he gave up two hits before he was pulled from the game and those runners subsequently scored.  Magallanes is now 7-7 in the round robin playoffs.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Aguilas over Gigantes 7-1
Diory Hernandez was 1 for 3 with a walk for the Gigantes.  Also for the Gigantes, Erick Abreu faced two batters without recording an out and gave up two hits; Enerio del Rosario pitched a third of an inning with a strikeout; and Rhiner Cruz pitched one inning with a solo home run and a strikeout.  UPDATED TO ADD:  With a h/t to @sciaastro, Rhiner Cruz' HR was to none other than budding Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes on a 97-mph fastball.  Here's the link  to the video.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Sydney is playing on the west coast in Perth.  The game was just starting as I posted, but Sydney had already recorded 4 runs in the top of the 1st inning, with Brandon Barnes reaching on a force attempt and scoring a run.

The Hardest Working Pitcher in Winter Ball

[NOTE:  Garcia appeared in another game last night after I had written the following and was charged with two runs.]

He may not technically be the hardest working pitcher in winter ball, but no Astros pitcher has appeared in more games this winter than LHP Gabriel Garcia.  In regular season play this winter, Garcia appeared in 28 games for the Magallanes team in his native Venezuela.  Through January 16th, he had pitched in 7 post-season games as well.  It appears that he has been used primarily, but not solely, as a situational lefty with very good results.

Regular Season for the Magallanes ~
2.63 ERA  1.463 WHIP
28 G  13.2 IP 10 SO

Post Season for the Magallanes (to date) ~
0.00 ERA  0.818 WHIP
7 G  3.2 IP 3 SO

Garcia spent 2011 with the Lexington team, pitching 69.1 innings in 31 games with a 3.76 ERA, a 1.212 WHIP and 68 strikeouts to 16 walks.  With those numbers, he was already on my radar; his success in Venezuela only reinforces that Garcia is a player to watch.

Happy Birthday - 1/19

Manager Brad Mills (55)
Managed from 2010 to current with a 132-192 record

Former Astros with birthdays today

OF Orlando Palmiero (43)
Played in 420 games for Houston from 2004 to 2007

LHP Ramon de los Santos (63)
Pitched in 12 games in 1974 for Houston with a 2.19 ERA

RHP Jeff Juden (41)
Pitched in 6 games for Houston in 1991 and 1993
Traded to the Phillies, along with Doug Jones, for Mitch Williams

3B Phil Nevin (41)
Played in 18 games for the Astros in 1995

RHP Anthony Young (46)
Pitched in 28 games for Houston in 1996

Tweet of the Day



Adrian Houser
First pitching lesson...went pretty good. Looks like I know what I'm doing haha 

Roster Moves - 1/18/12

To make room for OF Jack Cust on the 40-man roster, C Craig Tatum was designated for assignment.  Since there are currently only two catchers on the 40-man roster, and one of them is recovering from foot surgery, I think it is safe to say that additional moves will be forthcoming.  It is now 78 days until opening day.  Buckle your seatbelts; a lot can happen in 78 days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter League Recaps

Not much in the way of Astros action from last night ~

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Mayaguez over Caguas 2-0
Luis Cruz got the start for the Caguas team, but was pulled after issuing three straight walks.  The next pitcher bailed him out and he wasn't charged with any runs.  Mayaguez is leading over Caguas 2-1 in the finals.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Licey over Escogido 6-5
*Robinson Cancel was 1 for 3 for Licey.  Licey is 9-9 and Escogido is 11-7 in the round robin playoffs.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Perth over Sydney 4-3
Brandon Barnes was 1 for 4 for the Sydney Blue Sox with an RBI, a walk and a GIDP.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 1/18

LHP Wandy Rodriguez (33)
Wandy was first signed with the Astros on January 12, 1999 as a 17-year old NDFA named Eny Cabreja.  It wasn't until 2002 that he revealed to the Astros that he had really been 19 at the time and had used a friend's identity. ( Here is a great article by Jose de Jesus Ortiz from 2008 that helps explain the pressures facing young Dominican players who are considered old at 19.)  Wandy has pitched in 206 games over seven seasons, compiling a 73-75 record with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.346 WHIP.  His 11 wins in 2011 (11-11 record)  represented 19.6% of all of the Astros wins for the year.

RHP Rodney Quintero (22)
Quintero was drafted out of community college in Florida in the 25th round in 2010.  In 16 games in relief at Greeneville in 2011, Quintero compiled an unimpressive 5.97 ERA and 1.534 WHIP.  But as can happen with relief pitchers, a couple of bad outings can skew the numbers.  I would prefer to focus on his very impressive SO/9 rate of 10.05.

RHP Frangy Colon (19)
Colon was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Astros as a free agent in the middle of the 2011 season.  In five games for the DSL Astros, he pitched six innings in relief with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP.

Roster Moves - 1/17/12

The Astros signed OF Jack Cust to a one-year deal with an option for a second year.  Here is the story.

A corresponding move will have to be made on the 40-Man Roster.  Unless other moves are forthcoming, I think Arcenio Leon may be the odd man out, but that's just a guess.

UPDATED TO ADD:
Craig Bjornson has been hired by the Astros to be Bullpen Coach.  He had been a minor league pitching coach for the Rockies organization.

Tweet of the Day



Jake Buchanan
Felt good to get back on the bump today 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Interview with Jarred Cosart

I was finally able to catch up with a very busy Jarred Cosart and have him answer a few questions for us.  But first, let’s look at some of his numbers from 2011.

In 20 games (19 starts) for the A+ Clearwater team in the Phillies organization, Cosart was 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.306 WHIP over 108 innings pitched.  After the trade Cosart was promoted to AA at Corpus Christi and definitely held his own.  In seven starts, he was 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.266 WHIP.  However, going into his final start (which was a rough one), he had a 2.78 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP.

Now on to the questions ~

WTH:  You are generally ranked as either the #1 or #2 top prospect in the Astros minor league system, with the other player being Jonathan Singleton.  Does that add extra pressure as you work your way through the system?

JC:  It's honestly more of an achievement and/or and honor than any form of pressure. It shows that the Astros believe in my ability and the desire to win I bring to this ball club. That being said, it also shows that they expect me to compete and achieve at the highest level possible!

WTH:  I've read just about every scouting report out there and I think Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com sums up the general consensus in four words "electric stuff when healthy."  You pitched 144.1 innings in 2011 with no injuries.  What have you done to get past the injury concerns from earlier in your career?

JC:  Spending one and a half years in and out of the training room took a mental and physical toll on me as a professional athlete. Being injured made [me] want to do everything possible to stay on the field for an entire year and along with the help of the Phillies training staff, I was able to do that in 2011.  [It was] many small shoulder stability and strengthening exercises along with proper weight and physical conditioning.

WTH:  You have been described as having one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues, a good curveball and a change-up that is improving but still needs work.  But others have said you need to work on your command and throw more strikes.  What is your philosophy as a pitcher and what will be your focus in 2012?

JC:  Overall I want to focus on getting better at SOMETHING everyday. In my opinion a pitchers command can never be good enough. That is the number one key to being a successful pitcher, commanding all of your pitches within the strike zone. I thought my changeup improved tremendous amounts last year as well as my curveball. In 2012 I feel like I'll be in a refining stage, trying to perfect all of my pitches.

WTH:  David Coleman, writer for the Port Arthur News, SBNation and the Crawfishboxes blog described your ceiling as "Staff Ace" and your floor (if injury-free) as a closer along the lines of Brad Lidge.  Can you see yourself as a closer?  Do you prefer being a starter?

JC:  I've been a starter my entire career and would love to finish my career as a starter. There are different mindsets in every pitching role and at this early stage in my career I would take whatever role the Astros or any organization would like me to and adapt if it is a different role than a starter.

WTH:  You went from being a part of the formidable Phillies organization to being part of an Astros organization that is struggling through a re-build overnight.  Was that a disappointment for you?

JC:  I didn't view it as a disappointment at all. It was tough in the early stages of the trade to just have to pick up with a new team midseason and meet 25 new guys, all after leaving some of my closest friends that I had been with for 2 and a half years with the Phillies. But in the end it all worked very well and the Astros did nothing but good things for [me] and the other Phillies that came over in the trade. Now I get to tell everyone that I am HOME again and ready to help the Astros achieve big things in the future.  [WTH: Cosart is a native of League City.]

WTH:  You are in the unique position of coming to the Astros along with several other players from the Phillies.  You played in the Sally League in 2010 with Singleton, Zeid, Santana and Jonathan Villar (from the Oswalt trade).  Does that help with your transition?  Any insights into those players?

JC:  It was fun to come over with some guys that I knew who all happen to be great players. I think each of the three players you mentioned have a chance to play in the big leagues for a long time. Singleton has HUGE upside and power at the plate, all while hav[ing] the approach of a 24 year old at 20. Villar is defensively ready for the bigs and has shown flashes at the plate; he just needs to be a little more consistent. Zeid has the power stuff any team wants at the back end of the bullpen. The future looks bright for the Astros if you ask me.  [WTH: Cosart left out Santana in his response but he’s been so extremely busy that I didn’t want to wait for a follow-up to post.]

WTH:  I found an old interview in which you mentioned having a grandfather who had played baseball in the Astros and Cubs organizations at one point.  Can you tell me a little more about him?

JC:  My grandpa pitched for the Cubs and Astros primarily throughout his career. I wasn't able to have the pleasure of knowing him very well as he passed away when I was two years old of lung cancer.  I do believe that he along with GOD played a great influence on the athletic and baseball ability I have been blessed with today.

Thank you for your time Jarred.

Winter League Recaps

DOMINICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Escogido over Gigantes 8-2
Diory Hernandez went 1 for 3 for the Gigantes.  Enerio del Rosario pitched two-thirds of an inning with one hit and two strikeouts and Rhiner Cruz pitched a third of an inning, giving up one hit.  The Gigantes are now 7-10 in the round robin playoffs.

Aguilas over Licey 3-1
*Ryan Rowland-Smith (who came over from Puerto Rico after playing there this winter) got the start for Licey.  In 2.1 innings, he gave up three hits, one run and one walk with two strikeouts.  Also for Licey, *Robinson Cancel was 0 for 1.  Licey is 8-9 in the playoffs.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Magallanes over La Guaira 9-1
Gabriel Garcia pitched a third of an inning and gave up a walk for Magallanes.  The Magallanes team is now 6-6 in the playoffs.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Culiacan over Guasave 8-3
Brad Snyder went 1 for 4 for Guasave.  Guasaves leads Culiacan 3-2 in the series.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 1/17

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

LHP Jeff Tabaka (48)
Pitched in 42 games for the Astrso in 1995 and 1996

Manager Lum Harris (died November 11, 1996 at 81)
Lum Harris managed the Colt 45's for 13 games in 1964 after Harry Craft was fired, and then was the first manager of the Astros in 1965.  He had a 70-105 record.  For an extremely entertaining interview with Harris that will take you back to an entirely different era of baseball, click here.  You won't regret it.

Tweet of the Day


Lino DeShields
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. -

No Announced Roster Moves Today

Monday, January 16, 2012

WTH 25-Man Roster - Starting Pitcher

As posted over the weekend, the 16th player added to the WTH 25-Man Roster was C Jordan Comadena.  Also receiving votes were Ben Heath, Roberto Pena, Ernesto Genoves and Franny Polanco.  For more information on the WTH Roster, go here.

This week we're going to pick our 4th Starting Pitcher.  This list was compiled of top vote-getters from prior rounds of voting.  I love this list.  After subtracting Jake Buchanan, Dallas Keuchel and Jarred Cosart, who have already made the WTH Roster, there is still a great deal of talent remaining.  I really like Nick Tropeano (10.63 SO/9, 2.36 ERA, 1.181 WHIP) and Kyle Hallock (8.90 SO/9, 3.59 SO:BB ratio, 2.63 ERA, 1.216 WHIP).  Adrian Houser, who doesn't turn 19 until 2/2, has one of the best fastballs in the system.  Luis Ordosgoitti had 10 BB to 49 SO in 2011 (at only 19).  By all reports, Paul Clemens is ready for the bigs now, and Brett Oberholtzer isn't far behind him.  I'm eager to see what a healthy Vincent Velasquez, Tommy Shirley and Tanner Bushue can do, and I'm expecting improvement from Ross Seaton this year as well.

With all that said, here are the 2011 stats for the players.  Look them over and vote.

Winter League Recaps

DOMINICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Licey over Gigantes 3-2 in 10 innings
*Robinson Cancel was 0 for 2 for Licey (the guy gets around; he was playing in Puerto Rico a few days ago but his team was eliminated from the playoffs).  Diory Hernandez was 1 for 5 with a double, a strikeout and scored a run for the Gigantes, and Erick Abreu pitched a third of an inning with no hits.  Licey is 8-8 in the playoffs and the Gigantes are 7-9.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Guasave over Culiacan 2-1
Brad Snyder had a good night at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a double, a home run, two RBI's and a strikeout for Guasave.  Guasave leads the best of 7 series over Culiacan 2-1.

No Astros played in the Puerto Rican League playoffs or the Venezuelan League playoffs last night, and the Australian League had the night off.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 1/16

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Jim Owens (78)
Pitched in 148 games for the Colt 45's and the Astros from 1964 to 1967
ERA of 3.60 and WHIP of 1.296

LHP Ron Villone (42)
Pitched in 50 games for Houston in 2001 and 2003

Tweet of the Day



Jarred Cosart
Great season for the texans. Let's get healthy for next year. Dallas fans chirping we have more playoff wins than you in the last TEN years

No Announced Roster Moves Today

Sunday, January 15, 2012

WTH 25-Man Roster

The 16th player selected to the What the Heck 25-Man Roster was C Jordan Comadena.  Also receiving votes were Ben Heath, Roberto Pena, Ernesto Genoves, and Franny Polanco.  (For more information on the WTH 25-Man Roster, go  here.)

Coming Monday - Let's pick our 4th starting pitcher.

Happy Birthday - 1/15

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

LHP George Cappuzzello (58)
Pitched in 17 games for Houston in 1982
ERA of 2.79 and WHIP of 1.190

RHP Mike Marshall (69)
Pitched in 4 games for the Astros in 1970

And one more birthday of importance ~


 Psst....you can add me to your birthday list...40 indeed.

Winter League Recap

DOMINICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Escogido over Gigantes 10-6
Enerio del Rosario pitched a third of an inning for the Gigantes and retired the only batter faced.  The Gigantes are now 7-8 in the playoffs.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Magallanes over Zulia 11-10
Gabriel Garcia pitched two-thirds of an inning for Magallanes, with no hits or walks.  The Magallanes team is now 5-6 in the playoffs.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Culiacan over Guasave 17-5
Brad Snyder was 0 for 4 with a strikeout and scored a run for Guasave.  Guasave still leads the series 2-1.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Adelaide over Sydney 6-4
Brandon Barnes went 1 for 3 with a walk, a strikeout and scored two runs for Sydney.

Tweets of the Day



Jeff Luhnow
Heading to see two very good high school pitchers this morning... who both play for the same school. I expect 50 plus scouts there.


Jeff Luhnow
Nothing like a 97 mph fastball at 10 am.

No Announced Roster Moves Today