Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday - 9/30

Happy Birthday to ~

IF Jack Mayfield (24)
A product of the University of Oklahoma program, Mayfield signed with Houston as a non-drafted free agent in 2013. He split his 2104 season with the Astros between Quad Cities (39 games) and Lancaster (66 games). Between the two venues, he hit .282/.341/.440 with 31 doubles. two triples, nine home runs and 55 RBI.

A few former Astros mark the day as well ~

RHP Robin Roberts (died May 6, 2010 at age 83)
Roberts came to Houston as a free agent in August 1965 and pitched in 23 games (22 starts) for the Astros in 1965 and 1966. Roberts compiled an 8-7 record with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.146 WHIP. His best years were those spent with the Phillies for whom he was an All-Star in seven straight seasons. An astounding statistic in this day and age is that of Roberts' 609 career starts, 305 of them were complete games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

3B/1B Dave Magadan (52)
Originally drafted by the Mets in the second round in 1983, Magadan signed with Houston as a free agent in April 1995. In 127 games for the Astros that season, Magadan hit a rather healthy .313/.428/.399 with 24 doubles and 71 walks. He is currently the hitting coach for the Rangers.

RHP Jose "Lima Time" Lima (died May 23, 2010 at age 37)
Lima came to the Houston organization in a December 1996 trade with Detroit and pitched for the Astros from 1997 until he was traded back to Detroit in a June 2001 trade. In 167 games (111 starts) for Houston, he was 46-42 with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.328 WHIP. He had his greatest success for Houston in 1998 and his All-Star season of 1999 when he went 21-10 in his 35 starts.

LHP Yorkis Perez (47)
Perez came to Houston in a March 2000 trade with the Phillies for LHP Trever Miller and pitched in 33 games for the Astros with a 2-1 record, a 5.16 ERA and a 1.721 WHIP.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Astros 2014 Season: I Told You So ...

Back on April 25th, the Astros were 7-17 and the Astros fan base was in collective freakout mode. There was much wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. The loss that night was a particularly ugly one with three Astros errors and a bullpen implosion of epic proportions in which a 5-5 tie going into the ninth inning became a 12-5 loss when the ninth inning was, at last, mercifully complete.

The next day I posted one of my "soapboxes" in which I posited the following:
No matter how good a team is, and the Astros certainly cannot be categorized as a good team of late, they are going to have almost shockingly bad games from time to time. But as Astros fans, we have been conditioned over the last three seasons to expect those shockingly bad games. And we have been conditioned to respond, "Here we go again," when they happen. No longer do we think, "Oh, that's just a blip on the radar screen." We think that a flaming Hindenburg is going to crash onto the deck of a sinking Titanic and the whole fiery mess is going to be swept up by a Category 5 hurricane and deposited at the corner of Crawford and Texas. Even when the Astros do start playing well, every stunningly bad game that they have will provoke this response in Astros fans as surely as Pavlov's dogs looking for dinner. 
I went on to say that I felt confident that the Astros would play better than their rough start indicated, and that we, the fans, would start seeing incremental improvements in the team's play.

One commenter had this to say to me, "Feeling pretty silly about your 71 win prediction, aren't ya? Another 100 losses is in the cards."

After scraping myself off the ceiling for basically being referred to as a "silly" girl, I engaged in a little back and forth with Mr. Commenter. After saying that I stood by my prediction and that 24 or 25 games was too early to make any sweeping generalizations about the season, Mr. Commenter game back with this, "Going 71-91 translates to .432. We are currently a .280 team [the Astros were actually .292 after 24 games]. Getting to 71 wins from our current record would require a .468 clip the rest of the way [actually .464, but why pick nits?]. Going .468 is generally not much to ask. This very poor start make [sic] even that look like a bridge too far."

Well, he was right. The Astros only went .457 the rest of the way and my prediction of 71-91 fell far short of the actual final record of 70-92. Silly me.

In any event, Astros fans did finally climb down from the ledge and start to enjoy the season. There were still some rocky stretches from time to time, but overall, it was a fun season to watch as eight more players made their major league debuts and more established players such as Dallas Keuchel and Jose Altuve soared to new heights. Collin McHugh and George Springer showed us the promise of things to come and Chris Carter came into his own. There were a lot of positives to take away from the season.

Even without knowing who will manage the team in 2015, how the roster will be constructed, who will come and who will go, I can already tell you a few things. There will continue to be growing pains at times. The team will occasionally have a monumentally bad game. There will be bullpen implosions from time to time. At least one rookie will have a bad start that will have "fans" calling for his head in April. And the Astros will get that much closer to contending, and contending for a long time to come. At some point, it won't be baby steps any longer; it will be a giant leap to viability. And, hopefully, at some point, Astros fans will be conditioned to expect the best and not the worst.

Oh, and I do have one last thing to say to Mr. Commenter. Nanny Nanny Boo Boo. (I never said that I was mature.)

Happy Birthday - 9/29

No future Astros with birthdays today, but one former Astro celebrates the day ~

LHP Jim Crawford (64)
A 14th round draft pick by Houston in 1972, Crawford pitched in 92 games for the Astros in 1973 and 1975. In those games, he was 5-9 with 10 saves, a 4.02 ERA and a 1.474 WHIP. Crawford was traded to the Tigers in December 1975. According to Baseball-Reference, his first plate appearance came four days after his pitching debut in 1973 and resulted in a walk-off double in extra innings against the Dodgers.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy Birthday - 9/28

No future Astros with birthdays today, but five former Astros celebrate the day ~

1B Dick Gernert (86)
Drafted from the Reds in the 1961 expansion draft, Gernert played for the Colt 45's in 1962 at the end of his major league career. In 10 games for Houston, he hit .208/.345/.208.

PH Gene Ratliff (69)
Ratliff had our at-bats in four games for the Colt 45's in 1965 and that one hit in the majors eluded him.

RHP Charlie Kerfeld (51)
A first round pick by Houston in 1982, Kerfeld pitched for Houston from 1985 to 1987 and again in 1990. In 98 appearances (six starts), he was 15-8 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.474 WHIP. His best season was by far the 1986 season when he was 11-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.206 WHIP in 61 appearances out of the bullpen. Kerfeld, along with Larry Andersen and Dave Smith, was one of the Astros coneheads back in the day.

C Ronn Reynolds (56)
A fifth round pick by the Mets in 1980, Reynolds came to Houston in an April 1987 trade with the Phillies. In 38 games, he hit .167/.189/.235. Reynolds was also a catcher for the fictional Sidd Finch.

C/PH Hector Gimenez (32)
Gimenez played in two games for Houston in 2006 and didn't get a hit in his two at-bats. Five years later, he would get his first major league hit for the Dodgers. He last played in the minors for the Brewers in 2014.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy Birthday - 9/27

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Jamaine Cotton (24)
Originally from the Virgin Islands, Cotton was drafted in the 15th round in 2010 out of Western Oklahoma State University. In 37 regular season appearances for Lancaster this season, Cotton was 2-4 with 12 saves, a 4.61 ERA and a 1.511 WHIP.

Two former Astros celebrate the day as well ~

2B Gary Sutherland (70)
Sutherland spent time with the Philadelphia and Montreal organizations before coming to Houston in 1972. He only played in 21 games for the Astros in 1972 and 1973, hitting .242/.277/.323, before moving on to have his most productive years with Detroit in the mid 70's.

RHP Doug Konieczny (63)
A first round pick by Houston in 1971, Konieczny played for the Astros in 1973 to 1975 and in 1977. In 44 games (38 starts), he was 7-18 with a 4.93 ERA and a 1.588 WHIP. Methinks he would have been right at home pitching alongside Asher Wojciechowski and Mike Foltynewicz.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Birthday - 9/26

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Albert Abreu (19)
Signed by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic, Abreu played in his first professional season in 2014 for the Dominican Summer League Astros. In 14 starts, he was 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP. He walked 29 and struck out 54 in 68 innings.

Two former Astros celebrate the day as well ~

LHP Bobby Shantz (89)
In 16 seasons pitched between 1949 and 1964, Shantz went full circle, starting his career with the Philadelphia Athletics and ending it with the Philadelphia Phillies.  In between, he pitched for the Kansas City Athletics, the Yankees, the Pirates, the Colt 45's, the Cardinals and the Cubs.  In 1935 and two-thirds innings pitched, he was 119-99 over 171 starts with a lifetime ERA of 3.38 and WHIP of 1.260.  He had 78 complete games, 15 shut-outs and 48 saves.  Obtained from the Pirates as the 21st pick in the 1961 expansion draft, Shantz was only with the Colt 45's for 3 starts in 1962, in which he went 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP, before being traded to the Cardinals.  In addition to appearing in three All-Star games, he also won eight Gold Gloves and the 1952 AL MVP.

C Rich Gedman (55)
After spending the majority of his career with Boston, Gedman only played one season with the Astros (1990) and was used primarily as a back-up catcher to Craig Biggio.  He had a lifetime .252 batting average, .202 with the Astros.

More on Gedman from Wikipedia:

"1986 saw three of the highlights of Gedman's career. On April 29, he set the American League record for putouts by a catcher with 20, as Roger Clemens set the major league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game against the Seattle Mariners. On April 30, he had 16 putouts for a total of 36 in two days, which is the most for a catcher in two consecutive games. Gedman was also selected to the All-Star Game that year, to go with his appearance in the 1985 game. But the peak of his career coincided with one of its lows in the 1986 World Series. In the bottom of the tenth inning of Game 6, with the Sox leading by one run with two outs, Kevin Mitchell on third and Mookie Wilson at bat, reliever Bob Stanley threw a pitch that Gedman failed to handle. It was scored as a wild pitch, but many considered it a Gedman passed ball. Mitchell came in to score, tying the game. Then, Wilson hit a ball that went through first baseman Bill Buckner's legs to win the game for the Mets. The Sox went on to lose the deciding game, and the series."