Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winter League Recaps - 11/23

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Margarita over Aragua 2-1 in 12 innings
2B Jose Martinez was 0-for-1 with a strikeout for Aragua.

Caribes over Caracas 8-2
Marwin Gonzalez got a start at third base and went 0-for-2 with a stolen base and a sac fly RBI.

Rafael Rojas tweeted yesterday that Jose Altuve was having X-Rays to determine the cause of pain in his left hand and would not be playing for Magallanes last night. (h/t to Astros County)

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Gigantes over Aguilas 1-0 in 10 innings
Jimmy Paredes was the DH for the Gigantes team and went 3-for-4 with a stolen base. *RHP Enerio del Rosario pitched a perfect inning in relief (he hasn't allowed a run in six appearances) and RHP Rhiner Cruz (W, 1-0) pitched the 10th inninng for the Gigantes and allowed no runs on one hit and two walks (one intentional) with a strikeout.

Escogido over Licey 3-1
LF Fernando Martinez went 0-for-2 for Escogido before being taken out of the game for a pinch hitter.

Toros over Estrellas 7-3
*RHP Aneury Rodriguez got the start for the Toros and allowed two runs on five hits and no walks with five strikeouts in four innings.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/24

1B Jesse Wierzbicki (24)
Originally from Georgia, Wierzbicki was drafted in the 24th round in 2011 out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After a very respectable freshman season at Greeneville in 2011, Wierzbicki spent the majority of his 2012 season with Tri-City hitting .297/.376/.422 in 70 games. For the season, he had 12 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 45 RBI, 31 walks and 20 stolen bases in 78 total games. On August 23rd, he hit a two-run game winning home run for Tri-City in extra innings to hit for the cycle.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP George Throop (62)
A 16th round pick by the Royals in 1972, Throop came to Houston in an April 1979 trade. In 14 games for the Astros that season, he had a 3.22 ERA and a 1.559 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Rio Ruiz

Everything honestly would be so much easier if we had the ability to use magic :/

Friday, November 23, 2012

Winter League Recaps - 11/22

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Caribes over Caracas 8-1
Marwin Gonzalez got a start at third base for Caracas and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

I didn't see any other Astros players in the boxscores from last night's games. Apparently, they gave me a day off for Thanksgiving!

Happy Birthday - 11/23

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP John Anderson (died December 20, 1998 at age 69)
Obtained from the Cardinals in a May 1962 trade with St. Louis, Anderson pitched in 10 games for the Colt .45's in 1962 with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.642 WHIP.

OF Colin Porter (37)
A 17th round draft pick by the Astros in 1998, Porter played in 24 games for Houston in 2003, hitting .188/.212/.188. He was claimed off waivers by St. Louis in January 2004 and hit .314/.314/.429 in 23 games for the Cardinals that year. He went on to play in the Yankees and Diamondbacks organizations in 2005, but never made it back to the bigs.

Tweet of the Day

kenny long

I will be out shopping tonight. I have a plan I'm on a mission if anybody gets in my way I will be throwing ebows

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from WTHB

A few baseball things for which I am thankful ~

I am thankful to know that the Astros farm system is getting stronger and stronger, and is chock full of really good, talented, funny, intelligent and decent people who will be easy to root for (and I am thankful that no one will give me grief for ending that sentence with a preposition).

I am thankful that Jim Crane did not change the Astros name.

I am thankful that Jim Crane hired Jeff Luhnow, gave us back the orange and blue and made it possible for people to bring in food and water without having to smuggle it like common criminals.

I am thankful for a robust Astros blogging community with passion, good humor and a variety of viewpoints.

I am thankful for twitter for introducing me to so many wonderful people over the last season.

I am thankful to Buca Morris for helping me retain a sliver of sanity when he started helping out with the blog last season.

I am thankful for the vision that Jeff Luhnow has as GM of the Astros and his desire to build the Astros system back up the right way - no shortcuts!

I am thankful for Baseball-Reference for providing me with valuable information day in and day out.

I am thankful for Baseball America's Draft Database, Minor League Free Agent Tracker and weekly transaction reports.

I am thankful that Baseball Prospectus had the good sense to hire Zachary Levine so that he will continue to have a regular outlet for his awesomeness.

I am thankful for my readers who have accompanied me on my journey thus far.

I am thankful for all of the fantastic (and helpful) people I met on my trips to the various minor league ballparks (yes, Jason Schwartz, I'm talking about you!).

I am thankful to Bobby Heck, Jeff Luhnow, Allen Rowin and Mike Fast for patiently explaining various minor league processes and mechanisms to me.

I am thankful for the players who were willing to share just a little of their stories with me.

But most of all, I'm thankful that, no matter what, baseball is still the same basic game it has always been, that it brings us together as family, friends and fans and helps create a lifetime of memories.

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Roster Moves

In addition to the news yesterday that Brian Bogusevic signed with the Cubs, Baseball America also shows that Fernando Abad signed with the Nationals. My comprehensive off-season transaction list has been updated for any other of the off-season moves that you may have missed.

Winter League Recaps - 11/21

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Zulia over Aragua 4-2
2B Jose Martinez was 0-for-3 with a strikeout for Aragua.

Magallanes over Margarita 6-3
2B Jose Altuve went 2-for-3 with a two RBI single for Magallanes. *RHP Sergio Perez (W, 6-2) got the start for Magallanes and pitched five and a third innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Caracas over Caribes 3-2
RF Jake Goebbert went 0-for-3 with a walk, three strikeouts and scored a run for the Caribes team.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Gigantes over Licey 4-3
Jimmy Paredes got the start at DH for the Gigantes and went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored a run. *RHP Enerio del Rosario pitched two-thirds of an inning and allowed no hits, no runs and one walk.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

Culiacan over Hermosillo 6-5 in 14 innings
*RHP Edgar Gonzalez got the start for Hermosillo, allowing one run on one hit (a solo home run) with no walks and four strikeouts in three innings.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE - All games postponed.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/22

CF Drew Muren (24)
Drafted in the 22nd round in 2011 out of Cal State Northridge, Muren started his second season in the organization with Lexington where he hit well in 48 games (.279/.325/.404) and got the call to AA Corpus Christi when an injury to Austin Wates left them short-handed. Muren hit so well at Corpus (.291/.342/.409 in 33 games) that he stuck with the roster even after Austin Wates came back from the DL. Finally, when several rosters were full to bursting with trade acquisitions, Muren was sent to Lancaster where he hit .321/.378/.420 in 21 games.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

OF Joe Gaines (76)
Obtained in a June 1964 trade with the Orioles, Gaines Played for the Colt .45's in 1964 and the Astros in 1965 and 1966. In 200 games, he hit .239/.304/.372.

LHP Wade Blasingame (69)
Blasingame came to Houston in a June 1967 trade with Atlanta and pitched for Houston from 1967 to 1972. In 116 games (62 starts), he was 17-28 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.478 WHIP.

RHP Oscar Villarreal (31)
Villarreal was traded to Houston from Atlanta in November 2007. In 35 games for the Astros in 2008, he had a 5.08 ERA and a 1.566 WHIP. Since playing for Houston, he has played in the Seattle, Colorado, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and, most recently, Baltimore organizations (with a side trip to the Mexican League), but has yet to make it back to the major leagues.

Tweet of the Day

Travis Ballew

Too bad there is no baseball on Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some Analysis on the Astros 40-Man Roster Changes

Let's look at the players who were protected yesterday in advance of the Rule 5 Draft and those who weren't and try to figure out some of the thought processes that went into the decisions.

First of all, the Astros were able to protect more of the young players than I had anticipated with the removal of Mickey Storey (more about this later) and Scott Moore from the 40-man roster. The 40-man had stood at 31 players going in to yesterday, but those two moves reduced the starting number to 29 giving the Astros much more room to maneuver. I also anticipated that they would want to keep 3 to 4 spots open for the Rule 5 draft, waiver claims and free agent signings. The magic number for the Astros turned out to be 4 openings. Long story long, I thought they would be protecting about 5 players, but they were able to protect 7 instead.

Of the players protected, here's how they break down:

No-Brainers - RHP Jarred Cosart and LHP Brett Oberholtzer
To not protect Cosart and Oberholtzer would have constituted GM malpractice. Both of these pitchers are virtually ready to start at the major league level and would have been picked up in a nanosecond.

No-Brainers (if room was available) - RHP Jose Cisnero and RHP Ross Seaton
Although I personally don't think that Cisnero and Seaton are quite ready for prime-time, they are very close.  I personally thought that Cisnero would be in greater danger of being taken in the Rule 5 simply because he would be more apt to stick on a 25-man roster for a full year in that I can see him working out of the bullpen if necessary. I cannot see Seaton as a bullpen pitcher and a drafting team having that luxury with him if he struggled in the starting rotation.

Position Players - OF Robbie Grossman and SS Jonathan Villar
Here's where things get interesting. It is much more common for teams to draft pitchers than position players in the Rule 5 draft. Why? As I alluded to before, it's a little easier to "hide" a pitcher in the bullpen, using them sparingly if they struggle. With a position player, a team really needs that player to contribute on a fairly regular basis. Otherwise, it not only hurts the team, it can hurt that player's development. So what this tells us is that the Astros are pretty high on Grossman and Villar because, as unlikely as it is for them to be taken in the Rule 5, they were willing to use roster spots to protect them. I understand Grossman more than Villar. Grossman had a pretty successful season at AA and could conceivably make the leap to a major league roster. Villar? Frankly I cannot see him sticking on a 25-man roster for an entire season. He is still very raw and personally, I think he would struggle mightily, but the Astros apparently aren't willing to take the chance.

A Special Case - RHP Chia-Jen Lo
I thought that there was a possibility that Lo would be protected if room allowed. He did not pitch above Advanced A in 2012 after coming off surgery, but he showed enough in the Arizona Fall League that he could draw interest from other teams. As a bullpen pitcher, it would be relatively easy to keep him on a 25-man roster for a full season.

Of the players that weren't protected:

Relievers
Looking at relievers in conjunction with the Rule 5 draft is a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, they are easier for a drafting team to keep on a 25-man roster for a full season, but they are also ultimately the most replaceable components on a team. That is a harsh reality, but other than the closer and possibly the set-up man, most teams do not keep a stable bullpen rotation for any appreciable length of time. So it is understandable that the Astros were willing to gamble (and lose) with Mickey Storey rather than risk losing a potential closer in Chia-Jen Lo. All one can really take away from the choices made is that the Astros value Fernando Rodriguez and Chia-Jen Lo more highly in their long-term plans than they do Storey and Jason Stoffel.

Position Players
Judging from the comments on twitter yesterday, more people are alarmed by the choice not to protect Marc Krauss than any other position player. Frankly, I'm not that surprised by this. The Astros could only protect so many players. Krauss struggled a great deal in his first taste of AAA. I don't think it's likely that another team would take a chance that he's ready for the major leagues when he hasn't even adjusted to AAA yet. If I only had room to protect Grossman or Krauss, I would have made the same decision.

What would I have done differently? Given the same number of openings, I probably would have made the same choices except that I would have been sorely tempted to protect Carlos Perez instead of Jonathan Villar. I realize that he hasn't played above Advanced A, but Perez is one of the best catching prospects out there while I find it highly unlikely the still very raw Villar will be able to stick with a team. This one makes me nervous. The other possible change would be Jason Stoffel over Chia-Jen Lo. I'll admit, though, that if Lo has regained his pre-surgery form (and velocity), he would probably be the most likely player to be taken.

Some final thoughts ~

There are really two things at play in how we look at these moves. First of all, it really is incredibly difficult to keep a marginal player on a 25-man roster for a full season. The player has to be able to contribute unless the team is in a serious re-building mode such as the Astros have been. Otherwise, it's difficult to justify keeping a player who may struggle greatly at times on a roster without negatively impacting a team. Secondly, we, as fans, often value the talent in our minor league system more highly than front office personnel from other teams do. For example, is Marc Krauss a better player than someone they already have in their system? Are they willing to take a chance on that and use a roster spot that they could otherwise use to pick up a free agent?

The fact is that in 2011, 12 players were drafted in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft and 2 were returned. In 2010, 19 players were drafted in the Rule 5 draft and 11 were returned. And for every Johan Santana, there are a dozen Lance Pendletons. We're not talking about a lot of players who are being drafted year in and year out.

The strategy involved in finalizing the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft is all about determining calculated risks. It tells us more about who the Astros value highly than anything else. And if a player or two are drafted from the Astros, it also tells us that the Astros have more depth of talent than they have had in a while. And that is not necessarily a bad problem to have.


Winter League Recaps - 11/20

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Zulia over Aragua 13-6
DH Jose Martinez was 0-for-2 with three walks and scored a run for Aragua.

Margarita over Magallanes 12-2
2B Jose Altuve was 1-3 with a walk and an RBI for Magallanes.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Estrellas over Gigantes 4-3 in 16 innings
LF Jimmy Paredes was 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI for Gigantes. The Gigantes also used 13 pitchers (to 11 for Estrellas) in this 16-inning marathon, including three pitchers with Astros ties. *RHP Enerio del Rosario pitched two-thirds of an inning with no hits, a walk and a strikeout; *RHP Erick Abreu pitched an inning with no hits, one walk and three strikeouts; and RHP Rhiner Cruz pitched one and two-thirds innings with no hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

Escogido over Toros 7-5
And we finally have a Fernando Martinez sighting. Martinez appeared in his first game of the winter as DH for Escogido and went 1-for-4 with a walk and struck out three times.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/21

LHP Erick Hurtado (18)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Hurtado spent his first professional season with the DSL Astros. In six appearances (11 innings), he was 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA and a 1.727 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Gary Wilson (58)
A first round pick for the Astros in 1976, Wilson's entire major league career consisted of seven and a third innings pitched in 6 games for Houston in 1979 with a 12.27 ERA and a 2.864 WHIP.

SS/2B Tripp Cromer (45)
Originally drafted by the Cardinals in the third round in 1989, Cromer first signed with Houston as a free agent in December 1999. In 12 games for the Astros in 2000 and 2003, he hit .167/.231/.333.

Tweet of the Day

Wesley Wright

Can't believe Thanksgiving is already upon us, this offseason is flying by. Baseball will be back before you know it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roster Moves in Advance of the Rule 5 Draft

The Astros protected the following players in advance of the Rule 5 draft. The 40-man roster now stands at 36.

RHP Jose Cisnero
RHP Jarred Cosart
OF Robbie Grossman
RHP Chia-Jen Lo
LHP Brett Oberholtzer
RHP Ross Seaton
SS Jonathan Villar

In conjunction with these moves, RHP Mickey Storey was claimed off waivers by the Yankees and IF Scott Moore was outrighted to Oklahoma City.

A few of the players who were not protected (from the full list published by Brian McTaggart this morning):

IF Erik Castro
RHP Chuckie Fick
OF Jake Goebbert
LF Marc Krauss
2B Jose Martinez
LHP Wes Musick
RHP David Martinez
SS Ben Orloff
RHP Carlos Quevedo
RHP Jason Stoffel
RHP Kyle Weiland
RHP Josh Zeid

I also thought that C Carlos Perez was subject to the Rule 5 draft, but he wasn't McTaggart's list. I will try to confirm. The only real surprise for me is that Jason Stoffel was not protected.

An Interview with Greg Rajan

Greg Rajan covers baseball and hockey for the Corpus Christi Caller Times, and he does so with humor, intelligence and candor. Rajan rapidly became one of my favorite follows when I first got on twitter as his Corpus Christi Hooks game tweets are generously suffused with his quick wit, biting sarcasm and frequent 80's pop culture references. I contacted Greg via email last week and here is what he had to say ~

WTH: First things first. I know that "Rajan" gets butchered routinely (and I've been guilty of it myself). What is the correct pronunciation?

GR: The proper pronunciation is Rah-jin. I won't bore you with the ways my name has been mispronounced over the years, but if I had a dime for each time it happened, let's just say I'd have a nice little nest egg.

WTH: Which came first for you ... Ice hockey or baseball? Which do you prefer to cover? How did you get in to sports reporting?

GR: I covered minor-league hockey for a few years before baseball. I like covering each sport, for different reasons. Each sport has its pluses and minuses (don't get me started on the shootout in hockey). I'd say the one thing about hockey is you know the game likely will be over in about two and a half hours (playoff overtime games are another story, but that's OK). But for as much as we tend to gripe about an interminable baseball game, a cool thing about the sport is the game can last two hours or six hours. With hockey, there's little time to sit there and chat like you can do during a baseball game because it's non-stop action on the ice and you don't want to miss anything.

Here's the Cliffs Notes version about how I got into sports reporting. I was in grad school (I have bachelor's degrees in political science and history) but always had an interest in journalism, so I helped out taking box scores over the phone at the Austin American-Statesman. That led to a part-time job on the sports desk, which in turn led to a reporting job at a small paper in Temple (Drayton McLane's hometown). I've been doing this ever since.

WTH: After the Hooks hit bottom in 2011, losing 90 games for a .357 win percentage, you were a bit skeptical about their chances coming in to the 2012 season. After a nine-game losing streak ending May 7th, they were 12-20 for the season. Were you thinking, "Here we go again?" When did you realize that the team was going to be good, after all?

GR: I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't thinking "Here they go again." The previous four seasons had given me no reason to think things were changing with the Astros' system and seeing the likes of T.J. Steele and J.C. Thompson - who'd proved time and again that they couldn't hit Double-A pitching - get trotted out there had me shaking my head.

If I had to pick a game where the Hooks showed me they were for real, it would be July 12 against Frisco. They were down 4-0 and down to their last strike before Jay Fernandez (aka The People's Champion) brought in a run with an infield single and head-first slide into first. Austin Wates then hit a three-run double to tie the score. Corpus then fell behind in the 10th and tied it again. Frisco then scored twice in the 11th, but Wates hit a three-run, walk-off homer with two outs to win it. That was definitely the "By George, they've got it moment," at least as far as I'm concerned.

WTH: Can you tell me one or two players that you've seen come through Corpus Christi who really stood out to you as being something special?

GR: For me, there are two guys, and they were both here in 2006: Hunter Pence and Ben Zobrist. Pence was a fun guy to watch, even in batting practice, which is usually pretty boring. The guy just swung with a purpose and he even knocked out a window in the left-field cotton press at Whataburger Field with one BP blast. Plus, he played with such an intensity. He could be overaggressive at times, but he never cheated you with his effort. Keep in mind, this was way before he became the Ray Lewis-like orator he was in this year's playoffs with the Giants. But you knew from watching him early on here that he'd be in the majors for a long time.

As for Zobrist, you really had to watch him to appreciate him. That 2006 Hooks lineup was pretty stout, but manager Dave Clark was quick to call Zobrist his best hitter. The guy did so many things well, from hitting for average to moving guys over to driving them in, that he kind of went unappreciated around these parts, especially since he was traded in early July and missed the championship run. Plus, Zobrist and his family are some of the nicest people you'd ever meet. A couple years ago, I did a story on the five-year anniversary of his trade to Tampa and he called me back while on the bus back to the hotel from Yankee Stadium following a rainout. There aren't too many guys in the majors who'll do that for the beat writer who covered him years ago in Double-A.

WTH: You really seem to appreciate a good walk-up song, citing "Cult of Personality" as one of your favorites. Can you tell me a couple of the best and a couple of the worst walk-up songs you've heard (and whose they were if you can remember)?

GR: I'm glad someone noticed my tweets about walk-up songs! When someone attends so many baseball games as I do, some of the peripheral details stick out. The "Cult of Personality" thing is funny. It's been one of my favorite songs for years (where else is a history major going to find a tune that references Mussolini, JFK, Stalin and Gandhi while using snippets of speeches from Malcom X and FDR?) but it's never been selected as a walk-up song here. Steve Richards, the former Hooks director of ballpark entertainment, would just assign it to new guys who hadn't picked something. Of course, those guys always seemed to hit well walking up to "Cult of Personality" before switching to something far less interesting.

Here are some of my favorite walk-up songs: Waylon Jennings' "Dukes of Hazzard" theme that Josh Anderson used during the Hooks' first two seasons. It's not that I like the song that much, but it summed up Josh so well. He was a country boy from Eastern Kentucky and one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys I've met covering baseball. Plus, he was a huge "Dukes of Hazzard" fan. Another favorite was David Cook's in 2010: "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. It has a catchy opening and it's also from one of my favorite movies, "Slumdog Millionaire." Once in San Antonio, the Missions' Seth Johnston used Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" from the "Young Guns II" soundtrack and that was pretty cool.

Least favorite walk-up songs? Alabama's "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)" was what J.R. Towles used in 2007 and it drove some of the press box regulars nuts, especially during a doubleheader when we had to hear it like 12 times and Towles took forever to step into the batter's box. And while Andy Simunic was one of my favorite Hooks to talk to in 2012, his walk-up choice of "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" by Kip Moore gets two thumbs down.

WTH: My writing partner-in-crime (Buca Morris) has a couple of questions for you as well. Favorite players growing up? What do you like to read? Who is your favorite twitter follow?

GR: When I was a kid, I'd say my favorite players were Paul Molitor and Robin Yount. My family lived in the Midwest for most of the 1980's and my first real experience following baseball was the 1982 Brewers team that lost the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games. As I grew older, I became more partial to pitchers, particularly closers because their job is intriguing to me given there's really no margin for error. I'd say my favorite was Robb Nen. The guy was intriguing, particularly that strange toe-tap he did on the mound. Plus, he's a palindrome!

What do I like to read? Really all kinds of stuff. I read a lot of sports books, but also devour a lot about history and politics. And I like to read about stuff that has nothing to do with my work, like "Cruising Attitude," which is a memoir by veteran flight attendant Heather Poole and something I found very interesting because their jobs aren't as glamorous as people think.

On Twitter, I like to follow a cross-section of people from the worlds of sports, journalism, entertainment, etc., so my timeline has some variety. My must-follow for Astros news is my old friend Brian McTaggart from MLB.com, who owns the beat. But my favorite Twitter feed is NotBillWalton, which is a parody account that always makes me laugh, whether the topic is sports, politics or whatever. I recommend that feed to anyone with a Twitter account.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for your time, Greg. I look forward to following your always entertaining take on the 2013 Hooks.

If you aren't already, you really should be following @GregRajan on twitter. You won't be sorry.

Winter League and WBC Recaps - 11/19

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC QUALIFIERS

Brazil over Panama 1-0
In a stunner, Brazil beat Panama on home territory to advance to the World Baseball Classic in March. RHP Murilo Gouvea who spent the 2012 season pitching for the Astros Lexington Legends affiliate threw two and a third hitless innings for the Panamanian team, walking one and striking out two. Gouvea played a key role in the tournament as he provided a total of six and two-thirds scoreless innings of relief for Panama.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Caracas over Magallanes 7-5
2B Jose Altuve was 1-for-4 with an RBI single and a bases loaded walk for Magallanes. He struck out once and stole a bag as well.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Gigantes over Estrellas 6-1
LF Jimmy Paredes went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts for the Gigantes while a trio of Astros-related pitchers provided scoreless relief. *RHP Enerio del Rosario retired his one batter faced with a ground out as he came in with bases loaded. RHP Rhiner Cruz pitched two-thirds of an inning and allowed two hits, but no runs. *RHP Erick Abreu pitched one inning with no hits and a strikeout and was rewarded with the win.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/20

RHP Chuckie Fick (27)
A 15th round pick by the Cardinals in 2007, Fick was selected off waivers from St. Louis in July 2012. In 18 appearances, he had a 4.30 ERA and a 1.783 WHIP. Chuckie Fick should go down in history as the name most likely to get a tongue-tied broadcaster in a lot of trouble.

Tweet of the Day

Rafael Valenzuela

Brazil to the world baseball classic.. that's just awesome!!! That's why baseball is the best sport ever!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

FanGraphs Top 15 Astros Prospect List

FanGraphs came out with their Top 15 prospect list for the Astros system today. The only real surprise for me on the list is Adrian Houser, not because I don't think he's worthy, but because he hasn't gotten much attention from the national writers lately. The best part about the list is that is it a SOLID list of SOLID prospects that could easily vie for a spot on any team's top prospect list. That is a refreshing change from the last few seasons.

Winter League Recaps and Stats


VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Magallanes over Margarita 5-1
2B Jose Altuve went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI in Magallanes' win.

Caracas over Caribes 6-5
RF Jake Goebbert was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI for Caribes.

Aragua over Lara 5-0
Jose Martinez was the DH for Aragua and went hitless in four at-bats with a strikeout.

LVBP Player Stats to Date:

Jose Altuve - .326/.420/.442 3-2B 3B 5RBI 2SB in 10 games
Brandon Barnes - .292/.353/.491 3-2B 3-3B 4HR 20RBI 2SB in 28 games
Jake Goebbert - .228/.267/.316 5-2B 6RBI 1SB in 16 games
Marwin Gonzalez - .294/.478/.471 3-2B 1RBI 2SB in 6 games
Jose Martinez - .321/.373/.464 4-2B 4HR 21RBI in 29 games

*Sergio Perez - 5-2 4.19 ERA 1.17 WHIP 10BB/23SO in 7 starts

Liga Paralela Player Stats to Date:

Luis Alvarez - .259/.328/.293 2-2B 9RBI in 16 games
Ernesto Genoves - .262/.392/.459 3-2B 3HR 9RBI in 18 games
Jose Monzon - .227/.333/.364 2B 3B HR 4RBI in 15 games
Carlos Perez - .339/.394/.525 8-2B HR 11RBI in 18 games
Alfredo Gonzalez - .297/.350/.459 3-2B HR 6RBI in 13 games

Carlos Quevedo - 2-1 1.25 ERA 0.89 WHIP 4BB/20SO in 5 games (2 starts)
Enderson Franco - 0-2 3.91 ERA 1.50 WHIP 9BB/22SO in 7 games (5 starts)

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

No Games

LIDOM Player Stats to Date:

Jimmy Paredes - .267/.286/.440 4-2B 3HR 15RBI 1SB in 18 games
Domingo Santana - .100/.400/.100 1RBI in 6 games
Jonathan Villar - .200/.250/.200 2SB in 13 games

*Erick Abreu - 1-0 3.94 ERA 0.63 WHIP 1BB/19SO in 10 appearances
Rhiner Cruz - 0-0 4.91 ERA 1.64 WHIP 1BB/6SO in 4 appearances
*Jorge de Leon - 0-1 9.00 ERA 3.00 WHIP 3BB/0SO in 2 appearances
*Enerio del Rosario - 0-0 0.00 ERA 2.25 WHIP in 2 appearances
*Aneury Rodriguez - 3-1 2.88 ERA 1.20 WHIP 8BB/21SO in 6 starts

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Carolina over Ponce 3-1
SS Carlos Correa was 2-for-4 with a double and a strikeout for Carolina while 2B Kiké Hernandez was 0-for-5 with a strikeout and an error, and C Rene Garcia was 0-for-4.

LBPRC Player Stats to Date:

Carlos Corporan - .250/.222/.250 1RBI in 4 games
Carlos Correa - .200/.200/.267 2B in 5 games
Rene Garcia - .316/.350/.368 2B 3RBI in 5 games
Kiké Hernandez - .233/.324/.333 2B 3B 3RBI in 8 games
Jobduan Morales - .286/.286/.286 2RBI in 2 games
Roberto Pena - .143/.333/.571 HR 2RBI in 4 games

*Adalberto Flores - 1-0 1.50 ERA 0.67 WHIP 1BB/4SO in 4 games
Raul Rivera - 1-0 5.79 ERA 1.71 WHIP 0BB/2SO in 3 games

LMP (Mexico) Player Stats to Date:

*Edgar Gonzalez - 0-1 6.52 ERA 1.66 WHIP 4BB/2SO in 2 starts

LBPN (Nicaragua) Player Stats to Date:

Marlon Avea - .200 AVG/.200 SLG in 4 games (no extra base hits)
Mesac Laguna - .231 AVG/.538 SLG 2-2B 2HR in 10 games

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/19

No future Astros and only one former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Aurelio Monteagudo (died November 10, 1990 at age 46)
Monteagudo was purchased by Houston from the Kansas City Athletics in May 1966 and pitched in 10 games for Houston that season with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.630 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Brady Rodgers

Man I think I had atleast 5 heart attacks at this texans game but I couldn't have scripted it any better!!  you're a beast!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The More Things Change...


            Baseball is a game of change. That's one of the reasons I like the game so much.  Players move up and down the stats pages methodically with their change.  Guys like R.A. Dickey have careers and seasons that are beautiful examples of change personified.  Teams like the Astros unveil new uniforms, color schemes and mascots.  But not all change is enjoyable.
            I am speaking, of course, about the news that Jim Deshaies might not be returning next season to call the Astros telecasts. 
            I know announcers, broadcasters, radio personalities and even social media directors come and go in sports (the Astros have lost just about one of each this year alone), but in this particular case, it's different.  Deshaies has been the color guy in Houston for 15 years and more importantly he's been here while things have been hard, making the game enjoyable and at times he was the only reason games were bearable.
            In a season that has seen so much change for one team (ownership, countless staff changes, the home run sculpture... err, I mean the Community Partners board, uniforms, mascot, the American League), it seems almost unbearable to imagine that one of the personalities that carried fans through all of the trials of the last few seasons might not be around to help us settle into the American League.
                  Change can be a good thing and it is a necessity in baseball and life, but too much change at once is a recipe for disaster—especially when it involves a team coming off back-to-back 100 loss seasons and that is already suffering the effects of a waning fan base.  If the Astros have any concern for their fans and their city they'll bring J.D. back and leave at least a little continuity in this crazy game of change. 

Winter League and WBC Recaps

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC QUALIFIERS

Brazil over Colombia 7-1
RHP Dayan Diaz had a tough go of it for Colombia as he pitched one and a third innings and was charged with three runs on one hit and two walks. He struck out one and also hit a batter.

Colombia plays an elimination game today against Panama. The winner will take on the Brazilian team on Monday.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Caribes over Caracas 3-2
DH Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-3 with a walk and scored a run for Caracas.

Lara over Aragua 9-5
DH Jose Martinez went 2-for-5 with a two-run home run and an RBI single for Aragua.

Magallanes over Margarita 3-1
2B Jose Altuve went hitless for Magallanes with a walk, a strikeout and a run scored.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Escogido over Gigantes 4-3
LF Jimmy Paredes was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and scored a run for the Gigantes, while *RHP Erick Abreu pitched two innings and allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk with one strikeout.

Estrellas over Aguilas 4-3
Jonathan Villar came in as a pinch runner for Aguilas and stayed in to DH. He went 0-for-1 with a strikeout.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Caguas over Carolina 6-1
C Roberto Pena went 0-for-3 for Caguas with a walk and a strikeout. 2B Kiké Hernandez was 1-for-2 with two walks and a caught stealing, and C Rene Garcia was 1-for-3 for Carolina. Also for Carolina, *RHP Adalberto Flores pitched three innings and gave up one run on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts, and RHP Raul Rivera pitched one inning and allowed two hits.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/18

OF Travis Buck (29)
Originally drafted by Oakland in the first round in 2005, Buck signed with Houston as a free agent in November 2011. Buck spent 33 games with the Astros in 2012, hitting .216/.284/.311, and 29 games in the minors (including a rehab stint), hitting .306/.379/.412. Since Buck elected free agency in October, we may very well have seen the last of him as an Astro.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Gil Rondon (59)
Originally drafted by the Orioles in the third round in 1973, Rondo was drafted by Houston from the Angels in the Rule 5 draft in 1975. In 19 games (seven starts) for the Astros in 1976, he was 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA and a 2.031 WHIP.

C Luis Pujols (57)
Signed by Houston as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1973, Pujols played in 311 games for the Astros from 1977 to 1983, hitting .192/.239/.259.

RHP Jeff Heathcock (53)
A first round pick by the Astros in 1980, Heathcock pitched in 56 games (13 starts) for Houston in 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1988 with a 9-9 record, a 3.76 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP.

LF Steve Henderson (60)
Originally drafted by the Reds in the fifth round inn 1974, Henderson came to Houston as a free agent in March 1988. In 42 games for the Astros that season, he hit .217/.321/.261. In his debut year of 1977 with the Mets, Henderson came in second to Andre Dawson in Rookie of the Year voting. His career batting line over 12 seasons was .280/.352/.413.

C Eddie Tucker (46)
A fifth round pick by the Giants in 1988, the Astros claimed Tucker off waivers from San Francisco in September 1991. In 34 games played for Houston in 1992, 1993 and 1995, he hit .157/.222/.217.

RHP Tom "Flash" Gordon (45)
Originally drafted by the Royals in the sixth round in 1986, Gordon came to Houston in an August 2002 trade with the Cubs. In 15 appearances for the Astros in 2002, he had a 3.32 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP. Gordon pitched in 21 major league seasons for eight different teams. In 1989 while pitching for the Royals, he came in second to Baltimore's Gregg Olson in Rookie of the Year Voting. He was a three-time All-Star for the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Phillies.

Tweets of the Day

Jiovanni Mier

There any place better than Cali? All day everyday


Bobby Doran



Austin Wates



Adam scott bailey