Friday, 30 July 2010
Reports are announcing that Yankees have acquired Lance Berkman in a trade, but it probably won't be announced until tomorrow as they have to wait 24 hours because, although Lance has waived his no-trade clause he still has 10-5 rights.
The Biggio-Bagwell era's swansong is over. Berkman and Oswalt, the last surviving vestiges of that past, are gone.
Firstly, there has been a lot of shouting going on and I'm going to try and cut through it and give you my measured reaction to yesterday's events. These are my opinions, and I am not preaching from the gospel. Everyone is allowed to make up their own minds in the 21st century.
Ok, lets look at the first deal with Philadelphia. There was a lot of disappointment after the trade was made, as many had felt the Astros were hosed in the deal. Despite what David Cameron and others say at FanGraphs, Roy Oswalt is a #1 starter, not a #2. He had a blip last year, but anyone watching him on a day-to-day basis would understand that. He is not tailspinning off into a terminal decline.
Philadelphia have therefore acquired another ace for a year and a half and have to pay him roughly $9m odd for his services (the Astros kicked in $10/11/12m, I'm not sure the exact figure but it is around that). My first reaction was disappointment as a lot of people wanted Jonathan Singleton in any trade. I don't buy that we needed major league ready pitching and would happily have forgone Happ to get Singleton. It sure helps to fit Happ into our rotation now, so we don't get totally wiped out for the last two months.
Villar is a good piece, and he adds organisational depth at shortstop, but he is far away from the majors, which is both a plus and a minus. He will have the time to develop some pop in his bat, and learn some better plate discipline, and he has bags of speed at 19. Strikeout rate is a bit of a worry, and he was rated as the organisations 22nd prospect. Leave Villar aside for a few years, and we'll revisit him another time.
As for Gose, we flipped him for Brett Wallace, so we have to evaluate the Toronto Blue Jays prospect. People mentioned Cooper, Drabek and Wallace before the deal, and many people got much happier once we had announced the second trade. There is upside to Wallace, but you have to be a little unsure after a lot of baseball people came out and said Wallace has huge issues.
So did the Astros not get enough for Oswalt, and should we be blaming Ed Wade once again? I think Patrick Sullivan of Baseball Analysts sums it up best when he says: Q"At some point if enough sellers 'get fleeced', it's just the market." Wade had to sell and he had to get something back from it. Philadelphia had no obligation to buy, so if Wade bluffed for too much, he might have seen a deal collapse.
Rather than getting Singleton, who may be a superstar in 3/4 years time, we get Wallace who will probably be an above average first baseman in a year's time. There is no guarantee Singleton will make it to the majors and be a star. He has amazing upside, but he is just an 18-y-o prospect for now.
I think Berkman will stay put in Houston, even though he's likely to be gone at the end of the season. Lance really has little value as a 2 month rental, although a few teams are sniffing. What are we going to get for him, a C-type prospect? At best?
The last point I will make is a criticism levelled at Wade and Bobby Heck during their three-something years in charge? Have they acquired/drafted an potential impact bat in their time here? And if not, why not? Toolsy outfielders are great, but we need something like the Yankees Montero for the future. Unless you believe Koby Clemens or someone like that can be an impact bat in the future, which I am sceptical of.
Happ pitches tonight for the Astros, will Oswalt does the same for the (choke) Phillies. I wish him well, but not too well, i.e. throws a no-hitter or something stupid. So lets keep an open mind on the trade for a few weeks/months/years eh?
Thursday, 29 July 2010
And here's how quickly the cards start to fall.
Wallace is a 23 y-o first baseman drafted in 1st round of 08 by Cardinals. AAA numbers this year .301/.359/.509 18 HR in 96 games, so he is close to the majors.
He may have stirred the ire of most fans with some silly demands over the last month, but the plucky young Mississippi ace has probably defined the Astros' decade. I'm not bitter that Oswalt manoeuvred himself out of Houston, because as a team we're number two (I wanted to say one) in the division for dysfunctionality.
Now he's gone, sent to Philadelphia for Happ, Jonathan Villar (shortstop) and Anthony Gose. Villar has a long way to go at A ball, he's only 19. There are some rumours flying around that the Astros are going to flip Gose to the Blue Jays for a young pitcher, so we'll keep you updated on that.
It is not Singleton, and many will feel that Ed Wade didn't get what he wanted in the deal, or what was expected of him.
Someone joked on TCB that Heck and Wade would go out of their way to stock up on toolsy guys, and they have done just that. If we get a good return for Gose (and the Astros might flip anyone they need off their roster if they want more from the Blue Jays). Pitching would make a lot of sense from Toronto. Depends what they are willing to give up. Not the best, as we're all thrilled this deal is finally over so we can relax, and now we have to wait another 48 hours until its all over.
I just hope these guys are thinking long-term and that Drayton hasn't got it into his crazy old head that the Astros can compete in 2011.
Happ should fit nicely into the rotation behind Rodriguez and Myers. Looking at his peripheries rather than his ERA in 2009 he probably profiles as a no.3 starter (remember he is already 28). Orem mentioned he was more impressed with Happ having seen the amount of strikeouts he racked up in the minors, but we should bear in mind he has been injured this season (limiting his starts with the Phills in 2010).
Villar still has a long way to go, but is a plus defender at shortstop and profiles to stick to the position. He has speed, and perhaps he will fill out and add some pop to his game. Does not speak much for Astros' confidence in Mier though.
A last thing to note: Ed Wade was not dealing from a loaded deck. The Dodgers and Cardinals had long pulled out, while the Yankees and Twins were only mildly interested observers in the entire saga. He had to move Roy, and his only possibility was the Phillies. He will be disappointed that a blue-chipper like Singleton wasn't acquired, but he may never have been on the table.
Eight runs from the Astros these days is a rare treat, we've only scored that many runs just once before in July. Awful. Anyway yesterday was like watching our own version of the Bronx Bombers (an exaggeration I know).
And if you had forgotten, yesterday was Wins-day, a day which the Astros are 13-3 over the season, compared to a dismal 29-56 the rest of the week.
Carlos Lee said his season had been like a rollercoaster, but not a good one to Brian McTaggert before the game, but he hit 2, two-run home runs on two straight pitches, so I felt slightly bad for spending the first few innings bashing him. Pence went 3-5, but the real star was Lance Berkman who reached base all five times, knocking a single a double, and picking up three walks and three runs.
Bud Norris struggled with his command in the first, but got out of the inning having only allowed a sac-fly. Then encountering problems in the second and fifth innings, he steered around them admirably. There is no doubting Norris' potential, and if he could steer past his injuries, and get his head screwed on, he could be an excellent mid-rotation starter. His breaking ball, working as it was last night put the hitters on edge.
All signs point to J.A. Happ being part of the Oswalt trade, and you look at a possible rotation of Myers, Rodriguez, Happ, Paulino and Norris and there is a lot of potential for improvement there. Paulino was fantastic before getting injured.
Wandy is looking more like the pitcher who posted a 139 ERA+ last year.
You wonder about Justice's report that Myers was untouchable, and whether this really does mean that Myers has agreed to pick up his part of the 2011 option. Personally I do not see it, as a guy like Brett at 29, after having a career year would want to test the free agent waters. Ted Lilly is apparently expecting a bundle when he hits the FA market in the winter, so why shouldn't Myers? If we could sign him to 3 years $30m, then great. If not, we'll have that compensation pick please (Myers should be a type B FA by the end of the season).
We're waiting to see the names included in the Roy Oswalt trade, and the names floating around are guys like Vance Worley. It seems there is no way we'll get Cosart, but I would be disappointed if we don't snag Singleton as well.
For those who think we shouldn't be kicking any money into Philly with Oswalt, what are we going to spend any cash on next year? Does this list really wow you? Wade might want to pick up some bullpen guys and a bench player or two, but forget any big splash. Pence, Bourn and Rodriguez's salaries will take a bump next season, and the Astros will likely take the $2m buyout on Berkman's clause.
I'll put a post on when further developments come up on the Oswalt trade, and on twitter.
Two quick updates from Astros County: Oswalt has told friends he would not expect that pesky 2012 option to be picked up 2. Package could be Happ, Worley and 2 young pitchers.
It seems that Oswalt could be just one step away from Philadelphia, as Mark Berman is reporting that the Astros have come to an agreement with the Phillies and are merely waiting for Oswalt to waive his no-trade clause thus approving the deal.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Brett Myers pitched an absolute dandy, and Lance Berkman smacked a grand slam into the bullpen, capping a great day at the ballpark for all who went. The swing was vintage Berkman, fastball inside corner (this was with him hitting from the left side), and the ball disappeared into the first row of the seats behind the right centre bullpen.
I remember when it used to be the book on Lance that he would gobble anything on the inside portion of the plate. You had to fool him there or get a fastball in on the hands to beat him. Anything else he would kill to right field. Not anymore. Maybe his bat speed really has declined, or maybe he's either not seeing the ball well, or not centering the ball anymore. All those home runs at Great American Ball Park seemed to fly high into those right field seats.
Most of the pre-game talk was of Berkman's demotion to number six in the order, behind Keppinger and in front of Chris Johnson. In Berkman's previous 12 games, he had seven singles and 12 walks, with just two RBI. No extra-base hits. And this game started with left-hander Ted Lilly pitching for the Cubs, so you can sort of see Brad Mills messed up logic, even if TCB's Stephen Higdon correctly pointed out that you have to maximise and not minimise Berkman's plate appearances. It worked, but it is definitely not a long-term solution to our hitting problems.
The game was scoreless going into the seventh, till the following happened:
1. Quintero HBP (Bourgeois pinch-ran, and steals second) 2. Myers then moved Bourgeois to third on a sac bunt. 3. Cashner then intentionally walked Bourn, 4. Sanchez then bunted, which scored Bourgeois, and he himself reached, 5. Pence singled, scoring Bourn from second, Sanchez thrown out at third, but Pence then reached second on the throw. 6. Lee then walked 7. Keppinger HBP 8. Berkman grand slam.
I only put this all up to highlight how few times we put up crooked numbers on the board, and enjoyed revelling in our lineup actually sending all nine hitters to the plate. Bourn scoring easily on the Pence single was great to watch as he flew home. Wonder why anyone would put Bourn on base with his speed. I guess Andrew Cashner (pitching at the time) thought he could get Angel Sanchez out on a DP, but again this does not make much sense with the speedy Bourn on first.
Myers complete game was vintage stuff from the rightie, and he really had perfect command of all his pitches. 31 batters faced and he had just 30 walks all day. Fanning 12 he might have had a shutout if not for a Tyler Colvin solo-shot leading off the ninth.
What else did I want to mention? There was something. Ah, forget it. Anyway, a good rebound from a pretty average 5-2 loss the other night. Randy Wells-Bud Norris 1.05 CT today (Wednesday!?!?!)
No Roy Oswalt updates yet, but I reckon the issue between the Phillies and Astros is money. I'm willing for Wade to kick in as much money as he needs to get the sort of prospects we need, and to hell with it, because what else are we going to spend our money on in 2011. I do not expect us to make any real splashes on the FA market, other than adding a few spare parts, and maybe taking a run at bargain-basement veterans (in true Wade fashion). SIN-GLE-TON, SIN-GLE-TON!
Did anyone else see that steely look Berkman wore on his face as he rounded the bases. Sort of said, I needed that badly, but feel rather ashamed of my previous performance. Myers certainly appreciated the home run, leaping off the bench to pound his fist a bit. Personally I would like to see more emotion from the guys, because I do not know whether they care how badly they have stunk this season. Especially Carlos Lee. I want to see him slam his bat if he punches out, or do a Milton Bradley, just a bit of emotion, so I can see he hates losing as much as the Astros fans do. I can see many fans getting angry at El Caballo's lackadaisical attitude.
Hunter Pence's twitter feed is worth a quick look. He is certainly an enthusiastic one.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Well, while it was not a dreadful performance, you have to wonder if he has any future as a major league starter. If you probe deep into yesterday's start I think you come away with a negative answer. Simply peppering the outside corner with 90 mph fastballs and throwing the odd curve in for variety scores a zero on the pitch-craft scale.
Was it Castro or Wright responsible for such lazy pitch calling? Who knows. Brian Moehler presumably is not ready to go again, while Felipe Paulino is miles away from recovering from a shoulder injury. Josh Banks looked pretty ordinary in his start a few weeks ago. Who gets the next turn, and don't say Jordan Lyles, unless you want a beating. Doug Arguello would probably be the next port of call, and this really shows the dearth of pitching talent anywhere near the majors in the Astros' farm system. After Lyles in the system you wonder if we'll have to wait until Folty and Velasquez for pitching help.
Last night's 5-2 loss showed up the Astros deficiencies for all to show again. Poor hitting once again, and I can perfectly understand those who get frustrated by Lee, Berkman, and heck even Pence. Plenty of baserunners, but no-one to drive them in.
According to Jayson Stark meanwhile, things aren't going too well for an Oswalt trade. There is the suspicion that multiple parties are complicating the process by putting their foot in it, namely good ol' Drayton, and Bob Garber, Oswalt's agent. So. Ed Wade's asking price is apparently a major league ready pitcher, two elite prospects and a second-tier prospect. I'd be happy without the first part, but I think Drayton is pushing for some major league ready talent, because he doesn't want to see a crowd wipeout every fifth day because Banks is pitching.
Brett Myers-Ted Lilly tonight 7.05 CT.
Monday, 26 July 2010
He knows nooothing!
Remember Rosenthal posted this earlier today: Oswalt does not want to go to Philly in a trade, a source with direct knowledge of his thinking said Monday.
So apparently Roy Oswalt isn't getting traded. According to Kenny R's sources, which sound like total rubbish to me. His source is an AL executive. Rosenthal seems to be coming out with total bunkum. Didn't Tal Smith tell the Boston Globe yesterday that he fully expects Oswalt to move. Who do you believe more, the PRESIDENT of baseball operations for the Astros, or Rosenthal's un-named AL source. Pipe down and stick to your own crummy league.
If Oswalt is really blocking a move to Philly because he wants to go to St. Louis then he really will earn my emnity.
If he were to accept a deal, which I think he ultimately would, then it looks increasingly like the Astros would have to settle for Cosart, Singleton and J.A. Happ.
Meanwhile baseball america discusses the package the Angels sent to Arizona for Dan Haren. The PLTNL Tyler Skaggs, which makes the trade a lot more acceptable to D-backs fans. I think it sets a pretty nice benchmark for what the Astros can expect back, if they eat a significant portion of Roy's salary.
A lot of other people have been questioning why Wade has not been pushing other players. Heck lets have a firesale and kick these bunch of wasters out on their backsides! Well, there really is no point in dealing away players if their value is not high. If the price was right for Myers, then I would be happy for Ed Wade to move him. I'm guessing it is not at the moment. With Haren gone, I expect Ted Lilly to be the next to fall. If a team feels like it has to make a deal for a pitcher in the next week, say the Mets, then Wade might get a better return.
If Wade holds on to Myers, he can either hope that he accepts his end of the option for $8m next year, or if Myers' declines his end, then they offer arbitration and take the pick for Myers being a type B free agent. I think Myers wants to test the free agency market, but it seems he likes pitching in Houston. If he will accept a 3 year $30m extension, then give it to him. If not, then he's gone. It won't contribute loads to the Astros being a contender, but it would lock down a rotation spot.
As for guys like Keppinger, Berkman, Lee and even....Pence, I do not see them happening. Lance might be a good rental guy for someone, considering he'll probably be leaving the Astros at the end of the year, but Lee has too much on his contract for any team to even countenance a deal. You see, if the Astros decline Lance's 2011 option then they can't offer him arbitration. Hence no picks.
And so we come at last to yesterday's game. And what a game it was too. A win in fact. Wandy Rodriguez pitched what was probably his best game. After getting shelled by the Rangers, Rodriguez has a 2.31 ERA in his past six starts. Wandy's command faltered on the odd pitch, and that resulted in a 109 pitch count after seven, but he allowed just one hit, a Joey Votto single. And let us not forget this shutout was against the mighty Reds, first in runs scored, and hits; second in home runs and OPS.
Michaels pinch-hit for the pitcher and came up with the goods again, doubling to set up the Bourn basehit. In fact the Bourn flick was so impressive because it happened against Rhodes, a leftie, and Michael has struggled mightily in situations with RISP against lefties. Kudos. Hunter Pence and Chris Johnson hit home runs, both solo flys, and Michael Bourn's 2 run double, a lovely flick to left field plated two.
The loss, combined with Felipe Lopez's 13th inning home run saw the Reds and Cardinals flip flop at the top of the NL Central. The Phillies swept the Rockies so you wonder whether this will motivate them more or less to trade for Oswalt. Now that they're within touching distance of the Braves, probably more.
As for the trade market in general, it can't be possibly true, but some rumours have been floating around that the Yankees offered Montero to the Royals for Soira, and they turned Cashman down. It really can't be true, because this would be dumb, even by KC's standards. The value of a closer is over-rated, and Jesus Montero might be a true 40-100 impact bat in the future.
Your most obedient twittering servant, AstroBrit.
Sunday, 25 July 2010
So the media circus that is Roy Oswalt's transfer status rumbles on, and on. But wait, it seems as if we could be nearing the end of the journey. This piece from the Boston Globe is worth a read.
"If it [the deal] does not work for us, if we can't get the talent we need in return for such a great pitcher, we won't do it," says Tal Smith, Astros' President.
So we keep the bar high, and hope someone croaks. Meanwhile the D-backs have been in discussion with Detroit over Dan Haren, and neither seemed to budge over Arizona's demands, namely Haren is not worth a blue-chip prospect.
I'm not sure if I really want Joba Chamberlain in any deal, but I would be for Montero, who could be an impact bat in the majors. Even though he's a catcher, he could replace Berkman at first base.
As for the assertion that somehow Oswalt's trade value went down due to his poor start last night is Bunkum. He missed with a few pitches and he got punished. Next question.
The rest of the national sites are just recycling old stuff. We just need to wait and see which offer piques Ed Wade's interest the most, and then see if he can pull the trigger on a deal. Watch this space, and of course, keep up to date on twitter.
Saturday, 24 July 2010
First, it seems as if the Dodgers are back on the radar, but be warned, Drayton would have to eat a huge portion of Roy's salary to get what Ed Wade wants back for the right-hander. Here's Kenny R's piece on Dodgers' needs.
OremLK on TCB provides a helpful rundown in the prospects available in the Dodgers system, but the names to look out for, if you are too lazy to read the link are Dee Gordon (their best prospect), Chris Withrow, Aaron Miller and Allen Webster (those last three are pitchers). Gordon is a shortstop with great speed, good contact skills and gap-to-gap power.
Meanwhile a deal with the Phillies is not dead, still sleeping according to Stark of ESPN. They have still got scouts at MMP and Round Rock. Roy Oswalt, the man who this saga is all about is pitching tonight against...the Reds. Hooray! For those who have been living on the moon the last decade his career record against the Reds reads: 23-2 2.62 ERA in 31 starts.
On the Astros' demands, they are asking for a major leaguer, two high end prospects and a second tier prospect.
We all talked about the prospect of a three way deal between the Astros, Phillies and Rays, so why can't we have a three-way deal with another team for Oswalt. Here is a most-intriguing deal, not that I'd ever think it would happen, but it is a sighter from True Blue LA:
TB gets: Berkman, James McDonald, Aaron Miller, Carl Webster
LAD gets: Oswalt, BJ Upton
Astros get: Wade Davis, Tim Beckham, Matt Moore, Dee Gordon, John Ely, Rubby De La Rosa,Chris Withrow
LAD gets: Oswalt, BJ Upton
Astros get: Wade Davis, Tim Beckham, Matt Moore, Dee Gordon, John Ely, Rubby De La Rosa,Chris Withrow
Of course it would not make sense to trade for two shortstop prospects, but it is just to demonstrate the shape of a deal. Also intriguing the notion that Berkman could be dealt, although I doubt we would be shifting much of his money.
Disappointing game last night but the Reds are a good team, and Bud Norris has not delivered so far this season. Post to follow.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
This is crowd-sourcing at its best. This is a nugget from Kenny R.
The Astros could be active before the July 31 non-waiver deadline even without trading Oswalt. Right-handed starter Brett Myers is having a very good season and has attracted interest from multiple clubs. But two sources said the Astros will need to be overwhelmed in order to move him, citing the team’s hope that he could be a foundation for future rotations.
Now it seems the Astros are keen on keeping Myers around for a few (if not more) years.
Perhaps the Astros have been in contact with teams about Myers, and they feel like they can't get a good enough return to bother trading him. If this were the case, I would have no problem if Myers could be signed to something like a 3 year $21m contract (put forward by OremLK).
This link is via-AC, as Bernie Miklasz weighs up the pros and cons of a deal bringing Oswalt to St. Louis. Basically he says the Cardinals won't give up anything stupid, and will basically see if Roy can leverage his way to being traded to St. Louis for a cut price. You want Oswalt you have to pay for it. We're not just giving away Oswalt for free. While it will be nice to get his contract off the payroll we will miss him, and will not just give him away.
But at least it seems a cert Oswalt will be moved at the deadline, at least according to 'sources.' GMs what do they know?
You know, during most of the game, I knew it was a Wednesday, but I didn't feel like sharing the fact out loud until the extra-innings, as if me mentioning it would jinx the game. Irrational I know, but true in this instance.
The Astros won for the 11th straight Wednesday, and Brett Myers pitched another gem, but was not rewarded for it. Then the Cubs did some very silly things, and should have put the game away but did not do so. Jason Michaels came up with the key hit, but it was Angel Sanchez's RBI single to drive him in after his double that eventually proved the margin between the two teams. Chacin bumbled through the 12th eventually retiring Tyler Colvin on a liner to Pence, as the Astros took the series.
But at times it felt like more people were paying attention to what was happening off the field than on it. With the trade rumours swirling faster than the Chicago winds, everyone was looking to see if news of an Oswalt deal would break last night. It did not. But we got a lot of conflicting reports.
The Astros looked to be heading for a 1-0 loss until unlikely hero Pedro Feliz hit a solo shot (pinch hitting for Myers, a gutsy call for Brad Mills which paid off). Then the Cubs really choked.
Ninth inning: Lindstrom on the mound and Fukudome doubles, and all Koyie Hill had to do was bunt him over to third, and Theriot would have a chance to win the game with a sac fly. Hill failed, but Theriot singled to get Fukudome to third with one out. The Soriano's fly ball was not deep enough, and Byrdak strikes Colvin to end the threat.
Tenth innning: Same situation Brandon Lyon pitching, leadoff double, this time from Starlin Castro. Trouble is Derrek Lee is up, he ain't bunting. He flies out, but Brandon Lyon intentionally walks Ramirez, then unintentionally walks Byrd. With Castro now on third and one out Fukudome strikes out. Soto then flies out to end the inning.
Twelth inning: 4-1 down now, Fukudome walks then scores on Soto's home run 4-3 Cubs. Theriot singles, then Jeff Baker walks before Gustavo Chacin gets Colvin to end the game.
Now that is a catalogue of incompetence, which may sound rich coming from the Astros, considering the only run Myers allowed was scored by Ted Lilly, whose single snapped an 0-27 season. Way to go joe.
The main praise though has to go to Jason Michaels whose 2 run double swung the game in our favour. Never doubt the Astros on a Wednesday again. Even sweeter because it was against dem Cubbies.
There seems to be a growing feeling among Astros fans that we should now be asking for the moon before we ship off Oswalt anywhere. After all the need is pretty great for some teams. And we are not talking about some bloke off the street, this is Roy Oswalt, one of the most consistent pitchers in the past decade. He's compiled a 42.8 WAR (2001-2010). He is money down the stretch, with just 16 times in August-September-October in 91 starts in those months.
This is not an exhaustive list, I'm guessing there are a couple of clangers I have missed off their. It is still pretty indicative, even though a few of those names have retired/ burnt themselves out.
The Cardinals might be thinking that they can fob the Astros off with spare parts, but Ed Wade will be looking to decimate the Redbirds system if he trades Oswalt there. Shelby Miller is a must, and he'll probably ask for Jaime Garcia as well, even though dealing both makes zero sense to the Cardinals.
Eduardo Craig, a potential closer, Allen Craig, and Jon Jay are names bandied around. If the Cardinals offered Miller and Jay I would ask for more. After seeing the tasty morsels in the Phillies and Rays systems, these seem like poor fare.
Cosart and Singleton from the Phillies system might not be in the same league as Dom Brown, but they seem like worthy prospects, as do Wade Davies Reid Brignac and Matt Moore. Two or three of those guys would be a HAUL. I still think the basis of this deal is totally whacked and nothing like this will happen, but if it did........
Report on Cubs game last night to follow. Follow me on twitter.
Its news nobody wants to hear, but apparently the Cardinals, and not the Phillies are now front runners to land Oswalt. I am not sure how accurate the report is, and David Coleman has pointed out that the prospects within the Redbirds system are not as tasty as those in Philadelphia, or via them Tampa Bay. We will see.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
So the Cubs-Astros game is still continuing into the 11th but the real saga is developing off the field, where everyone is second guessing a possible deal between the Astros and Phillies for Roy Oswalt.
Talks were thought to be close, before Phillies radio station said that talks were near dead because Ed Wade was demanding Dom Brown, who is thought to be untouchable, since he is tabled as Jayson Werth's replacement in the outfield. Jon Heyman then tweeted this, about talks going on between Rays and Phillies over some prospects for the Phillies to then ship over to the Astros for Oswalt. Is he 10 hours behind or is this new information?
If the Phillies were keen to get Oswalt, but balked at Wade's demands, it makes sense they would turn to the Rays and try and get some more prospects.
Initially when the news broke yesterday it wasn't that of a three-way trade, rather the Phillies would use the Werth deal to replenish the prospects they lost to the Astros if they traded for Oswalt, much like the Roy Halladay, then Cliff Lee deals.
I will post on the game last night, but only after my rage subsists, which might be a while. In the meantime, it seems everyone wants an Astro pitcher nowadays.
The Dodgers are interested in Wandy Rodriguez, as a cheaper alternative to Roy Oswalt. Rodriguez is getting paid $5m this year (£3.29m). Yes the right year to trade Wandy would have been in the offseason, while his stock was high. Now, less so. If the Dodgers offer the right package, then Wade might be interested. If not, keep him and see how high his stock is in the offseason.
The Phillies to Oswalt deal might be a heartbeat away, you never know. It could be done by Saturday with their need to fill Kyle Kendrick's spot in the rotation. Or maybe they'll go for Dan Haren, or someone like that.
The Phillies need a pitcher to replace Kyle Kendrick, who they sent to the minors last week. If you are going for a pitcher, why not go big? Discussions are 'heavy' between the two clubs, while ESPN broke the story to ESPN,
J.A. Happ has been discussed in conjecture, while Jayson Werth might be shopped to the Rays in a three way deal. Happ however is no longer a prospect, and as good as he was last year, he is injured, and Wade may be looking for a blue-chipper instead.
I'm pretty sure Oswalt would waive his no-trade clause to the Phillies, but I wonder how he would suit that ballpark. There have been indications that Roy wants his 2012 option picked up by the team that trades for him as a price for him waiving his no-trade clause.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Bleed Cubbies Bleed (The Cubs on their knees, just where they belong)This was a sweet win and not just because it came against the Cubbies, although it was great to see Lou Pinella's putrid face wondering what had gone wrong. With the third highest payroll in the majors $146,859,000 (£94,877,519.35), only 3.5 games ahead of the Astros.
Geovany Soto seems to have recovered from last year's poor offensive performance, and Soriano's numbers are OK, but Ramirez and Lee's mega-contracts are killing the team. There a lot of silly mega-contracts on that team ($50m, to three players for us might handicap us seriously), but the Cubs have really taken it one step further. No wonder Jim Hendry is in the hotseat.
Just look at how much some of the players are getting paid, Soriano $19m, Zambrano $18.8m, Ramirez $16.75m, Fukudome $14m, Dempster $13.5m, Lee $13.25m, Ted Lilly $13m, Carlos Silva $12.75m. It all adds up to a sorry $121.05m (£79.26m) spent on eight players. Way to go. Dempster, Silva and Lilly have good to OK WARs, but it is Marlon Byrd the 3 million dollar man who leads the club with a WAR of 2.7.
Our losers might be worse, but at least they are worse paid losers.
I Present the Offensive Juggernaut: The Houston Astros
As to last night's game, it was satisying and frustrating in equal measures. On one hand it was great to see such an offensive explosion from the players, but also annoying that the same team had been shutout the night before by the Pirates, stumbling over Paul Maholm once again.
In the 9-0 defeat Oswalt got touched up before leaving with a contusion (a bruise) on his right ankle. No equalling Joe Niekro Sunday night then. Then they beat the Cubs 11-5 and scored 10 runs or more for just the second time this season (?!). The last time was April 25th when they beat the Pirates 10-3. Extraordinary.
Wandy Rodriguez meanwhile keeps his decision streak going, improving his record to 7-11, giving up five runs, but three of them on two swings of the bat (two home runs). The Astros meanwhile clambered all over Carlos Silva in the first inning which went a little like this:
1. Bourn single 2. Sanchez single, Bourn to second 3. Berkman walk, bases loaded 4. Pence single, Bourn and Sanchez score 5. Lee doubles, Pence and Berkman score. 6. Keppinger infield single, Lee to third. 7. Johnson GIDP, Lee scores.
Keppinger really should have been out at first, but Starlin Castro dawdled on the play. Meanwhile our Castro, Jason, hit a 3-run shot, and for the first time he and Johnson hit a home run in the same game. Johnson was in fact a double shy of the cycle last night.
The standouts included Sanchez, who went 3-6 behind Bourn, and Jeff Keppinger, who looked nifty in front of Johnson and Castro, reaching base 4 times out of 5. In fact, Mills struck the balance perfectly in last night's lineup, or maybe I am just using hindsight because we won the game. Pence in front of Lee, Keppinger acting like a second leadoff man, trying to get on for Johnson and Castro. Having an extra hitter in the mould of Keppinger to slot into the 2 spot always helps (Sanchez is 6/13 in his last three games), while Bourn might have bounced out of a protracted slump, having reached base three times last night, picking up a 2 run single against the Pirates.
It always helps when you get on base a lot and hit home runs. Shame the Astros do not do either very well. Long live Bagwell! At least for today. Lets see how we handle Ryan Dempster tomorrow, and how Wesley Wright fares in
Majewski pitched a scoreless ninth having been called up to replace Casey Daigle, and all those Jenny Finch fans are in mourning.
Tom Verducci of SI writes about the Reds pitching 'conundrums.' Everyone has talked about how the Reds (half a game back) have overachieved, while the Cardinals (leading the NL Central) have overachieved, and yet the Reds are actually one game worse off than their Pythagorean W-L calculation, while the Cardinals are three games worse off (as if that really means that much). What it does mean is that the Reds have scored more runs(455-398: a difference of 57) than the Cardinals (421-345; a difference of 76), but the Redbirds are more miserly with their pitching. Still there is only a 19 run swing in it the entire season.
Now I cannot take the mickey out of the Reds too much, but Edison Volquez's breakdown could have been predicted, and many (even Verducci in fact!) pointed to the fact that Dusty Baker + good young arms was not a good combination. Hey presto, Volquez pitches 196 innings in his first season with the Reds in 2008 and he needs Tommy John Surgery.
Haven't I seen this movie before? It stars Mark Prior and Kerry Wood? Or something.
It might have been a career death sentence for Brandon Backe, but Fransisco Liriano and Chris Carpenter have mounted comebacks then maybe Volquez can bring his circle change and get back to 100%. Getting back to the Verducci article, apparently the Reds have a pitcher, Aroldis Chapman by name, who can throw 102 mph. That would be something. Don't count on contract extensions then Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo?
Perhaps the Reds would be interested in Pedro Feliz as a replacement for Scott Rolen (evil cackle).
ROY OSWALT DEVELOPMENTS
The Dodgers were mentioned all along, but we discounted them because of Frank McCourt's (ahem) 'problems.' Here is a gobbet from Yahoo on the fact that the Dodgers continue to call about Oswalt, and here is a breakdown and discussion on what could be on offer prospect-wise from L.A. And if the Yankees wanted Cliff Lee, perhaps they would also like Oswalt, and Pettitte has just hit the DL with a groin strain.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
The Astros 2010 record would look a lot more ugly, if not for the fact that they have yet to lose to the Pirates all season. They have outscored Pittsburgh by 38 runs to 23 in 7 games this season, and continued that trend with a 5-2 win last night.
The Astros have not actually done too badly against NL Central foes this season, they are 7-0 against the Pirates, 4-2 against the Cubs, 3-3 against the Brewers and 5-4 vs the Cardinals. The only losing record is their 1-5 against the Reds. Still, that equates to 20-14 record within their division.
Seventeen wins against other foes is pretty brutal, 17-33 against non-NL Central opponents.
37-53 overall record
20-14 against the NL Central
3-12 against Interleague opponents
5-8 against NL East
9-19 against NL West
It tells me we have failed to adapt against non-familiar pitching. In 34 games against the NL Central we have scored at a rate of 4.06 runs a game, while against non NL Central opponents, the run rate is closer to 3.48. That could be accounted for the fact that the standard in the NL Central is pretty bad apart from the Reds and Cardinals, but maybe not be half a run a game.
Good news for the Astros who are in a stretch where they play 27 straight in our own division, and 30 of 33.
We play the Pirates again today, and it is Ross Ohlendorf, the Astros' punching bag who takes the mound for Pittsburgh.
In trade news, both the Twins and the Mets are taking a look at the Cubs Ted Lilly, who may be moved by GM Jim Hendry, but like the Astros, he'll only move him on if he gets a good price. This might affect a trade for Myers or Oswalt, or it might mean that whichever team that loses out might turn to the Astros.
Myers certainly did not hurt the case for a trade again last night, and although it was against the Pirates, so take it with a little grain of salt. They may be a bad team, but we still have to beat them, and we did, courtesy of 3 RBIs from Keppinger, who bashed another home run, batting in a peculiar no.3 spot, with Carlos Lee not available, due to travel irregularities.
Ino ther news, it seems as if Paulino's rehabilitian is not going to plan, while there it seems that Brian Moehler will be going on the DL, so you can expect to see either a return for Josh Banks, or a start for Polin Trinidad, or someone like that.
Friday, 16 July 2010
The Mets have an interest in Brett Myers, or so spake Buster Olney. Ed Wade has probably enjoyed the performance of Myers this season, and I think any team would have to prise him from the Astros' grasp. I am not saying we should keep him, rather we should drive a hard bargain for him. In terms of performance, he is probably one of the best second-tier pitchers on the market. In the Mets ballpark, not conducive to home runs Myers might do very well.
Whether Wade can get what he wants off the Mets is another story. Unlike Oswalt, Myers is not burdened with a massive contract. He has an option that has to be picked up by both sides to be activated, at $8m (£5.21m), with a $2m (£1.3m) buy-out clause.
Myers would be a better rental than Joe Blanton was to the Phillies in 2008, although the Mets would possibly not be happy in trading one of their top 10 prospects for a three month rental package. As much as the Astros' front office might like to get a Wilmer Flores, Reese Havens, or Fernando Martinez in return.
The Twins may be another bet, although I think they might be looking at Dan Haren instead of Myers or Oswalt. The Twins may feel a settled team, but since the White Sox have won 9 straight, they might suddenly start to panic.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
The Farm System- Moving on UpWandering over to TCB and checking out Subber10's minor league recaps is always worth it, here is Wednesdays. The talk of the town is J.D. Martinez, who despite some defensive bumbling is killing SAL pitching. Martinez has a 1.026 OPS in 87 games, hitting 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 64 RBI at Lexington. His split line is .359/.429/.597.
Meanwhile Folty and Velasquez combined for seven scoreless innings in Greenville, which is very encouraging. Also makes me wonder how long those two, and others in the system are far away from the majors.
The last thing you want to do is rush them, which is why people who are calling for Jordan Lyles this year should keep on the hush, for now at least. He's currently at the AA outfit (Corpus Christi Hooks). Yes Oswalt made the step up skipping triple-A in 2001, but we were in contention back then. Lyles is still only 19, and we need to get a group to arrive in the majors together if we want to go forward as a franchise.
Who will buy, who will buy our veterans?
The Twins and the Mets might be interested in Roy, but not his asking price. Indeed a tweet from John DeMeyo says that the Astros want Fernando Martinez, Ruben Tejada and Jenrry Mejia from the Mets, and for them to eat all of Roy's salary. You wonder if these three are the right fit even if a deal were to be struck. The obstacle would be whether the Mets would want to part with Mejia, and all the money they would have to part with. That said, Tejada is a second baseman, so perhaps Keppinger might be moved to someone in need of a utility player, and Martinez would be blocked in the outfield by Lee, Bourn and Pence.
Dan Haren, Kevin Milwood or Jake Westbrook might be cheaper options for anyone looking to bolster their rotations.
The Astros start their second half by facing the good old Pirates. Hopefully the Astros can put together a record that is closer to .500, but if a lot of veterans are shipped out there could be some real holes having to be filled by Rookies. It is not certain any of them will be moved, but there is a possibility that Oswalt and Myers could be moved.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Well that series wraps up the first half of the season for the Astros. If not for a Matt Holliday 3-run shot off Wandy Rodriguez, they might have sown up the series, after a decent 5-1 win with Myers on the mound the previous night.
It was a bit of a tough loss considering Rodriguez was perfect through his first three innings, and allowed all his runs on one hit. The middle of the order got plenty of hits for the Astros, but an extra base hit did not materialise. Jason Castro 0-3 with a walk. How many times have we seen that over the past month (give the guy time, I'm sure he'll acclimatise soon), and at least he's giving us more offensive production than the Towles-line.
Rough that Rodriguez takes his 11th loss of the season, and continues his run of having one no-decision all season.
Game one saw the Cardinals finally solve Bud Norris, winning for the first time against the rightie, having lost all four previous games in which Norris started (he was 4-0 against the Redbirds, and he only has 8 major league wins, bizarre).
We all know how good Roy Oswalt is, but Brett Myers has been a revelation behind him. His peripherals still look very average (1.310 WHIP [Walks+Hits/IP]), and his ERA is good, but not lights-out, but it seems that he gives the Astros a chance every time he pitches. You look down at his 18 starts, and he's had 1 poor start, and the rest have been either ok, solid, or very good. His 2.5 WAR at $3.1m has been an absolute steal. He's made it to 6 innings in every start this season, and he's made it to 7 innings in 10 of his 18 starts.
You wonder if some team will make a play for him considering he is a very cheap alternative, although there would be questions about the pressure if he were tossed into a pennant race now. If Wade likes what he is getting off him, then pull the trigger on a deal. If not, keep hold of him, and let him pitch the rest of the season. We'll need him to pull off at least respectability the rest of the season if we lose Oswalt (and even Berkman). Myers has an option for 2011, but it needs both him and the team to pick it up to activate it. Obviously the Astros would be keen to have another year of Myers at that price, but Brett might want to test the free agency waters. If he declines his option we could still offer him arbitration, and take the compensatory pick (I believe Myers will be a Type B free agent, but I'm not 100% on that one).
Pedro Feliz came up with a key hit in the second game of the series, and you just wonder if the rigours of being an everyday player have finally gotten to the 35 year old. He would not be the first. Now that he has some time off between starts, it might be that he feels fresher, hence the better (slightly better) performance. He has come up with some key hits, even with the disappointment of his semi-demotion, so hats off to him.
Meanwhile Richard Justice is raising a stink about the Sean Berry dismissal, and one of his latest posts hails the fact that the 'Astros prove again they're a joke of a franchise.' Dem pretty strong words. Where's Tim Purpura when you need him. He could storm into McLane's office and wave today's sports section of the Houston Chronicle and tell him to prove Justice wrong and be a model owner from now on. I'm not sure what Justice is trying to accomplish by these megalomaniacal rants, perhaps he wants the Astros' owner to change his tune, or maybe he thinks a change of ownership is in the works, and he could gain credit by slamming Drayton into the wall a couple of times. I don't like a lot of the things Drayton has done, and I would prefer it if he sold the team to someone with foresight, but I'm not going to hound him to death.
Here are some excerpts for general delectation: So every bargain doesn't turn out to be Pedro Feliz or Mike Hampton or Russ Ortiz. Some teams occasionally get it right.
Admittedly not Wade's best moves, but better than the free agency signing of Preston Wilson, or even sign Jason Jennings. There were some bargains on the free agency market, Jon Garland for example. Vlad Guerrero has been a great pickup by the Rangers.
If your local owner-I'm not naming names, but Drayton knows who he is-whines about needing more revenue sharing, someone should tell him, "Why? You'd just throw it at a bunch of old guys and refuse to sign your draft picks. Why should anyone reward you?"
Now this is harsh, and sort of true, and as much as that farce in 2007 angered me, everyone knows ol' Drayton was squeezed by the commissioners office into denying the 3rd an 4th round picks 1st and 2nd round slot money. The same with the Drew Stubbs thing. I'm not saying it is right, I'm just explaining McLane's reasons behind the decisions. He's made a lot of wrong choices, but Justice seems to be suggesting that our owner is some pervy old man, who is still stuck in the baseball dark ages.
Considering the mess he inherited, Ed Wade has done an ok job. Bobby Heck will be judged in 4/5 years, and it seems in Wade Drayton has someone who can speak bluntly about baseball matters.
Now lets move onto the Sean Berry thing.
When all else fails, fire a coach. Or a manager. Or come up with a new marketing slogan. That is how the Astros operate. Is Sean Berry to blame for this train wreck. Absolutely not.
Now Sean Berry is a nice guy, and he had a nice career with the Astros.
Drayton McLane is to blame. Tal Smith is to blame. Ed Wade is to blame. But with the Astros, the people who are to blame don't lose their jobs. They roll along, and the franchise continues to slide into irrelevance.
'Dem even stronger words. Is Sean Berry a good batting coach? Now I do not know the inner workings of the clubhouse, but my instinctive answer would be no. The Berry free swinging, aggressive approach can be deemed an absolute failure, with most of the team sporting horrendous averages, on base percentages, slugging percentages, and just about everything else. Elite hitters do not have four month long slumps.
I love this blame-mongering. I know a lot of people who talk about the blame-society we live in. If something goes wrong, immediately we have to establish whose fault it was. Never mind fixing the problem. Our bat boys, they are to blame. Craig Biggio is to blame for getting old and retiring. The Cincinnati Reds are to blame, for finally being good. The Cardinals are to blame for always being good. The weather is to blame. The circumstances are to blame. Bud Selig is to blame for acting too fast/slow in the steroids' scandal. The Chronicle is to blame for not publishing enough tombstones.
Of course Berry is not to blame for the fact that we're either bottom or second bottom in all offensive categories. He did not do this. He's not part of the problem, but neither is he the solution to the problem. At least Bagwell might be able to dig some of these guys out of the holes they have dug for themselves.
To repeat: Drayton doesn't get it (sic). He doesn't get it today. He won't get it tomorrow.
Justice is so mad, he has even forgotten basic rules of grammar. Here is where it starts to get sycophantic.
One of Berry's tactics I loved was watching him simply go stand near a slumping player. He didn't force himself. He didn't come up and start making suggestions. He just made himself available, and when a player began to speak, he was there to listen and to make suggestions and steer the guy a certain way.
One of the Berry tactics I loved is when he called a home run, Babe Ruth-style. Give me a break. Basically he is praising him for doing nothing. Hands off approach, that is fine, but you need to get stuck in sometimes, and give a guy a slap in the face to get him out of a rut. You do not just sit there, like batting practice is a wonderful jolly.
I loved when Sean was recovering from cancer surgery last year, he watched every at-bat as if he was in the dugout. I loved how he couldn't wait to get back to his guys.
Firstly that sentence sounds faintly homo-erotic, so I will steer past that one. Secondly, this sentence says to me, you can't fire the guy, he is a cancer survivor. They have not fired him, just re-designated him within the organisation.
But Roy shouldn't be packing his bags. To trade Roy would make sense, would give Roy a chance to win. That would require someone capable of thinking logically and smartly. The Astros have no one like that.
'Dem STRONG words! In the end RJ comes off more like a scorned lover than a professional sports writer. Here's hoping he regains his composure after the all-star break. Or perhaps his editor will have a quiet word (sigh).
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
It tells us that the Pirates are on course for around about 100 losses, and it has shown us that we're a very underachieving outfit this season. For those who secretly hope we tank this season and finish with the worst record in the majors, take the top draft pick next year (Anthony Rendon anyone?), will probably be disappointed going on the evidence of this series.
We have played some very bad baseball, but at times, a glimmer has flashed through. Unfortunately, most of those glimmers are going to be traded away by the end of the month.
Last night Oswalt proved why he's considered by many in the know as one of the top 10 pitchers in the majors, we all know that but those who follow the big market teams don't. Only Johan Santana has really topped his consistency over the past ten years. Last night's one-hit complete game shutout was a thing of beauty, and Roy only got better as the night went on. He now sits one behind Joe Niekro on the all-time wins list for the franchise.
After getting shelled by the Rangers Roy has pitched two near-perfect starts, shutting down the Padres, but not getting the win, and last night he was untouchable against the Pirates. Win number 143 of his career.
This could be Oswalt's last start for the Astros, but he may get a few more, since Ed Wade likely will not pull the trigger on a deal until the benchmark has been set by Cliff Lee, who could go anywhere. Will he be the only one to go (if he indeed is traded). Has Berkman's value gone up enough to increase his stock where it is worth trading him? Is anyone desperate for some help at first base?
Odd to think that Wandy Rodriguez and Oswalt lead the lead with ten losses each, but Wandy has responded over the past few starts, showing us the kind of form he displayed in the past few years. He has won his last three starts and has a 0.90 ERA over those 20 IP, having allowed only 2 runs. Insane as it is, Rodriguez has only picked up one no decision all season (17 starts). Interesting to know if that's the lowest in the majors, as I know Ubaldo Jimenez has two, to go with his 15-1 record.
Speaking of the Colorado whizz-kid, he handed the Cardinals another loss (the Redbirds roll into town to play the Astros). The series was a nightmare-ish one for Tony LaRussa's team, who blew a 9-run lead in the opener, then a 5-run lead in the next game, before getting their backsides handed to them by Jimenez.
And we have Bud Norris to kick the series off, the Bud Norris who is 4-0 against St. Louis with a 0.35 ERA in four starts against them. 1 ER in 26 IP is just freaky (Norris has 8 career victories).
After giving up four home runs in the 5-7 loss to the Brewers last week, the Astros' pitching staff has not allowed a long-ball since. The staff has a 1.92 ERA over those past eight games, and if not for the awesome Padres pitching, we might have won more than five of those games.
Meanwhile, the Astros won the game last night thanks to two Berkman solo home runs, both cheapies into the Crawford Boxes, so lets not read too much into the fact that the first-baseman has five home runs in his last four games. Still, he's ramped his SLG% up from a dismal .390 to .466 in five games, and there is no question he is swinging the bat better (his career SLG% is .551). His BABIP (BA on Balls in Play) is down to .283 this season, so many have wondered whether he's getting unlucky on some balls that might have been hits).
Carlos Lee looked to be turning things around, only to have a pretty average series against the Padres, contributing nothing but a pair of singles in three games.
Ross Ohlendorf now moves to 0-6 against the Astros in his Pirates' career, proud owner of a 6.65 ERA against Houston in 6 starts and 8 games.
Monday, 5 July 2010
After winning the opener of the series with the Padres, we then lost the next three 3-0, 1-0 and 3-2.
Yesterday's three home runs from Drew Stubbs gave Richard Justice another chance to moan at Drayton, since it was a guy we picked in the 2003 draft but failed to sign, because the commissioners office were not happy about us paying over-slot to a guy, or something like that. It was seven years ago, I'm over it. Although apparently Justice isn't, and as someone on TCB pointed out, it is not like another Bobby Abreu, at least not yet. I present to you, Richard Justice, the man who typifies the term volte-face.
I'll deal with our first two losses of the series in a moment, but I want to talk about the travesty that was yesterday's ballgame. We went into the bottom of the ninth with the game at 2-2, and Brandon Lyon gave up the game winner. But frankly, it should have been 4-0 by that point. The Astros had two chances to get a run in with a sac fly (after Berkman's triple, we had two chances, but both Pence and Lee failed to get him home with no outs in the inning). The two runs Myers conceded in the fourth inning were silly as well.
With men on first and second, Torrealba grounded to Navarro, who took his time tossing to Keppinger who also took his time getting to the bag. The runner at second was called safe, and the next batter hit a 2 run single which a left fielder with more defensive ability might have caught. 2-1 Padres. Mills said after the game that Navarro should have thrown to first, since Headley wasn't being kept on first by Berkman (with two outs). As for the Cunningham 2 run single, any decent left fielder would have at least tried to make a play on it, but Lee just trundled in and let it drop in front of him.
Apart from that Myers coasted through the game, and had just 71 pitches after six innings, but top of the seventh, the Astros had a man on third, and Mills pinch hit for Myers, and Johnson didn't get the run home. Enter bullpen.....or as I like to refer to this point in the game SEND IN THE CLOWNS.
Lance Berkman had a good game, and he has been slumping lately, 2-3 with a triple, a home run and a walk. As for the rest of the offense, it was business as usual, considering they had been shutout in their previous two games. In fact if you take the series as a whole, Berkman was the only player to pick up an RBI in the last 27 innings of the series.
Berkman's solo shot in the first, was the Astros 48th of the year, and also 31st solo shot of the season. We really do not do a very good job of hitting home runs with men on base.
At least our pitching has been good. As I said, Myers should have had a shutout going last night, Norris went scoreless for seven innings (outduelled by Kevin Correia), and Roy Oswalt also went seven scoreless the night before (outlasted by Mat Latos).
Blum is on the DL, Michael Bourn was selected by Charlie Manuel as the Astros' representative at the all-star game, and that is about all I can think of.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Two litte pointers before I begin, both courtesy of AC, a piece on the Angels website about their possible interest in Berkman, and the possibility that the White Sox might be interested too. Brian McTaggert talks trade philosophy with Ed Wade. I don't see a whole lot behind the Berkman trade talk. His value is pretty low at the moment, and I'm not sure where he would want to go.
Meanwhile, on the baseball field it was a good series win for the Astros, who scored quite a few runs against the Brewers, considering they usually don't get too many. In fact, they scored at least five runs in each of the three games, and have only scored that many runs in three straight games only three times this season (all in June). Also this has been the only series so far to date that the Astros have scored at least five runs in every game.
Meanwhile our frenzy of walks continues a pace, as we drew six walks, taking the tally on the series to 23. It took us till April 25th to earn that many walks starting the season.
The series win also means that the team is now 5-4 since callups, and our new guys did plenty right last night. Chris Johnson might have gotten lucky with a few of the outs on the basepaths last night, and had a 4-4 night, driving in a pair late in the game. Castro also nailed Lucroy in the seventh.
The offensive output was pretty awful until the seventh, when the Astros put up three doubles, as up until then we led 2-1 on a wild pitch and a suicide squeeze (perfectly executed by Wandy I might add).
The leftie looked much more like his old self, getting real snap on his curveball, and working off his fastball much better, which is something we have not seem much of this season. He also battled through some tough spots, and some very sketchy plays made by the middle infield consisting of Blum and Keppinger.