Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter League Update

DOMINICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Aguilas over Escogido 2-1
Since Aguilas won, the 9-game series is now tied 3-3 so there will be at least 2 more games in the offing.  Unless Aneury Rodriguez has decided to come home early, it is a given that he will pitch in one of the next two games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Happy Birthday - 1/28

LHP Wesley Wright (27)
Dequam LaWesley Wright was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 7th round in 2003 and came to Houston as a Rule 5 pick in 2007.  After abandoning a side arm delivery experiment in 2011, Wright got back to basics and the results were terrific.  In 39 games with AAA OKC in 2011, he had a 2.07 ERA and a 1.102 WHIP which led to a call-up.  With the Astros, he fared even better.  In 21 games, he had a 1.50 ERA and a 0.917 WHIP.

Two former Astros with birthdays today

IF Pete Runnels (died May 20, 1991 at 63)
3-time All-Star for Boston with a .291 career BA
Played in 146 games for the Colt 45's in 1963 & 1964

RHP Oscar Henriquez (38)
Pitched in 4 games for Houston in 1997
Traded to the Marlins in a package for Moises Alou

Tweets of the Day



Neiko Johnson
Places I plan to visit that I've never been before: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, & Miami




Jonas Dufek
 Just got to make it to the show and all those places have teams but Vegas.

Bummer Tweet of the Day



Kellen Kiilsgaard
Twitfam, im no longer playing for the Astros... as for what's next in my life, we will see. God has his ways. Thx for all the support!!

Roster Moves - 1/27/12

The Astros signed LHP Zach Duke to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  Here is the story from Steve Campbell.  It is a low risk signing much like the Ryan Rowland-Smith signing last season.  We can only hope that this one proves to be more successful.  It also could signal that the Astros are looking for a lefty with major league experience in the event that Wandy Rodriguez is traded.  If Duke works out, this would give lefties Dallas Keuchel and Brett Oberholtzer more time in the minors without rushing them to the majors before they are ready.

OF Kellen Kiilsgaard announced via twitter that he is no longer with the Astros.  (The move still has not been posted on MiLB.com or on Baseball America.)  Kellen was a 30th round draft pick in 2010.  He has been going to school over the winter as he works on his degree from Stanford.  Something tells me that he will do just fine with a Stanford education and the terrific sense of humor he has shown on twitter.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter League Finals

We're at the point where I think the only Astros player who may still be playing in the winter league finals is Aneury Rodriguez.  He pitched 4 innings on Saturday and 4 innings on Tuesday so as long as he didn't wrap things up early to come home, he'll probably be pitching again this weekend for Escogido.  (Escogido leads the best of 9 finals 3-2 over Aguilas after losing to Aguilas last night.)

Aneury Rodriguez has had a very strong winter.  During the regular season for Escogido, he had a 2.48 ERA, 0.857 WHIP and 5BB:32SO over 8 appearances (32.2 IP).  During the finals, he has a 1.56 ERA, 1.269 WHIP and 3BB:13SO over 17.1 IP so far.

Happy Birthday - 1/27

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

LF Phil Plantier (43)
Played in 22 games for Houston in 1995
According to Baseball-Reference, this is how he got to Houston ~

"December 28, 1994: Traded by the San Diego Padres with Derek BellDoug BrocailRicky GutierrezPedro Martinez and Craig Shipley to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later, Ken CaminitiAndujar CedenoSteve FinleyRoberto Petagine andBrian Williams. The Houston Astros sent Sean Fesh (minors) (May 1, 1995) to the San Diego Padres to complete the trade."

RHP Rusty Meacham (44)
Pitched in 5 games for Houston in 2000

Tweet of the Day



Zach Johnson
pic.twitter.com/4vEcFvgG

No Announced Roster Moves Today

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winter League Recaps

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE FINALS

Obregon over Guasave 19-0
Brad Snyder went 0 for 2 for Guasave as Obregon swept the finals series 4-0 to win the championship.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Mayaguez won the best of 9 series over Caguas 5-3.

Happy Birthday - 1/26

LHP Ryan-Rowland Smith (29)
Though technically not an Astro at this time, we'll give Free Agent Rowland-Smith a little birthday love today.  Rowland-Smith was originally signed as a NDFA out of Australia by the Mariners in 2000.  He was able to put up decent numbers for the Mariners in 2007 to 2009, but after a disastrous 2010, he was granted free agency and signed with the Astros in hopes that he could find his earlier success.  For the OKC team in 2011, he was 2-11 with a 5.90 ERA and a 1.653 WHIP.  However, he fared much better in the Puerto Rican Winter League.  Despite an 0-3 record, he had a respectable 3.63 ERA and a 1.432 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day



Jason Castro
 the knee is feeling great and the foot Is coming along ahead of schedule just getting ready to get back to it

No Announced Roster Moves Today

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Final Winter League Regular Season Cumulative Stats

Now that Brandon Barnes has finished his season with the Sydney Blue Sox down under in the Australian League, I can update the "Almost Final" winter league regular season stats to "Final."  Without further ado ...






The only changes from the "Almost Final" to "Final" are updating Brandon Barnes numbers and adding Brad Snyder's numbers into the spreadsheet.

*Free Agent

Winter League Recaps

DOMINICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Aguilas over Escogido 1-0
Aneury Rodriquez pitched a very strong four innings in relief with no hits, no runs and one walk for Escogido, but  Aguilas got the win.  Escogido leads the best of 9 series 3-1 over Aguilas.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE FINALS

Obregon over Guasave 6-4
Brad Snyder was 1 for 4 with two strikeouts in Guasave's loss.  Obregon is one win away from sweeping the best of 7 finals.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

I've been in touch with Brandon Barnes and he just got back from Australia to get ready for Spring Training, and to spend some quality time with his wife and baby daughter, so he won't be participating in the Australian League playoffs.  Look for my interview with Brandon next week.

No Astros played in the Puerto Rican or Venezuelan finals games last night.

Happy Birthday - 1/25

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Vern Ruhle (died January 20, 2007 at 55)
Pitched in 186 games for Houston from 1978 to 1984
Record of 39-46 with a 3.35 ERA & 1.227 WHIP
Best Year - 12-4 with a 2.37 ERA and 1.111 WHIP in 1980

IF Ernie Fazio (70)
Played in 114 games for the Colt 45's in 1962 and 1963

LHP Phillip Barzilla (33)
Faced two batters in 0.1 IP and gave up a hit

Tweet of the Day


Joe Witkowski
Wicked nice out today

Bonus Tweet of the Day



Jarred Cosart
Congrats to  on the deal... Well deserved. Look forward to facing you down the road.......... Not really

Roster Moves - 1/24/12

At long last, the corresponding 40-Man roster move from the Brad Snyder pick up was announced as SS Angel Sanchez was DFA'd.  If Angel clears waivers, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the Astros offer to re-sign him to a minor league deal as there is little depth at short in the higher levels of the system.  Here is the story from Zachary Levine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Not That We Don't Trust You ...

Dear Mr. Crane ~

Here's the deal.  During the lead up to your purchase of the Astros, your name was dragged through the mud.  Fairly or unfairly, many Astros fans really didn't trust you from the start because of this.  I have tried to keep an open mind because, having been in the business world for many years now, I know that things are rarely black and white.

Then came the whole American League thing.  Personally, I believe that you had no choice in the matter.  I firmly believe that whether you bought the Astros, another entity bought the Astros or McLane retained ownership of the Astros, the Astros were going to the American League.  Bud Selig decided it and it was so.  But there are a lot of fans who don't believe that was the case.  They think you sold them out.

Now, after long-time fans have had to swallow the AL move and have just started coming to terms with that, you throw out as kind of an after-thought that you're looking at possibly changing the Astros name.  I have no defense for you on this one.  The whole idea is simply indefensible.  We have had our 50+ year National League history ripped from us and now you're thinking of voluntarily changing the name?  The only possible reason to change the name is for money, pure and simple.  Merchandising revenues are down so why not stir things up a little?  Really bad idea.

Let me give you a little free advice.  John McMullen is still universally detested for asking Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan to take a pay cut and chasing him out of town.  Bud Adams is still hated for, among other things, demanding that the Astrodome scoreboard be removed to make room for more seats.  If you push through a name change, Houstonians will never forgive you.

If, as has been suggested, the idea of a name change was simply a trial balloon and a way of getting a free focus group, shame on you.  You have not earned our trust yet.   If you continue to do things like this, you never will.

An Interview with Adrian Houser

At a time when most 18-year olds are starting college or looking for entry level jobs, Adrian Houser was embarking on a professional baseball career.  He will be turning 19 on February 2nd, shortly before he heads to his first Spring Training.  Since we know very little about Adrian, I reached out to ask him a few questions.

But first a little stats background …

RHP Adrian Houser was the Astros 2nd Round draft pick in 2011.  As a senior at Locust Grove HS in Oklahoma, he was 10-1 with an 0.62 ERA, 125SO:28BB in 62 innings pitched.  In 6 games with the GCL Astros, he had a 4.03 ERA, a 1.522 WHIP and 10.1 SO/9.  In 6 games with the Greeneville Astros, he had a 4.56 ERA, a 1.558 WHIP and a 6.7 SO/9.

WTH:  Let's get right to the meat of it.  You're said to have one of the best fastballs in the organization and, according to Baseball America, "a hard curveball with plus potential."  I also read that you would need to be working on your change-up as you didn't use it very often in high school.  Can you tell me a little about where you were with your pitches when you first started with the GCL Astros and what you worked on and were able to accomplish by the time you finished up the season at Greeneville?

AH:  When I first started with the GCL Astros my pitches were all about like they were in high school.  They were all good, besides my change-up which I hardly threw in a high school game, but all of my pitches still needed a lot of work.  Once I started throwing in the GCL I was able to work more with my change-up and get it developed more to go along better with my other pitches.  I also worked on lengthening my stride and keeping all my pitches in the bottom part of the zone.  I worked on those two things the whole summer.  By the end of the season in Greeneville all my pitches were looking pretty good.  I was hitting spots well with my fastballs, and keeping my curveball and change-up down in the zone.  My change-up was my best improved pitch over the summer.

WTH:  What other sports did you play in high school?  Was baseball always your first love?  I understand you also played centerfield in high school.  Do you miss playing a position and getting to hit?

AH:  In high school I played baseball, basketball, and football.  I played all three sports until my senior year. I decided not to play football after my commitment to the University of Oklahoma for baseball.  Baseball was definitely my first love! I've played it the longest and love to play it the most. I always have and always will.  It was the first sport I ever learned to play.  I do miss playing a position and hitting.  I loved to play centerfield during high school. It was a blast and I also loved to hit and still do.  I love pitching the most though; its what I'm best at.  It would be awesome though if I could do all three.

WTH:  You won't turn 19 until February 2nd.  How much of an adjustment was it going to Kissimmee straight out of high school?  What was the most difficult part of the adjustment?

AH:  It was a pretty big adjustment going to Kissimmee by myself, but I was somewhat used to being on my own because I played travel ball the summer before and I would be away from home for weeks at a time.  It didn't take me long to adjust after I got there and got settled in.  The hardest part was being away from all of my friends for the whole summer.  I missed hanging out with them the most, and being so far away from home it wasn't an easy trip for them to come see me.

WTH:  You were drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft and signed very quickly. Was there ever any doubt either before or after you signed that you made the right move?  Did it help to have your friends Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley being drafted as well?  Do you still keep in touch with them?

AH:  I knew from the start that I wanted to play professional baseball and being drafted so high made it a pretty easy decision that I wasn't going to go to school. I was going to sign a professional baseball contract.  Having my friends Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley drafted as well made the decision even easier.  It was pretty cool that we played baseball together since we were 8 or 9 and we all signed a professional contract in the same year.  I do keep in touch with them.  I actually workout every morning with Dylan and some other baseball guys and I talk to Archie every now and then.

WTH:  Your 2011 season was evenly split with you pitching in 6 games for the GCL team and 6 games for the Greeneville team.  How did the experiences compare? (h/t to Steve of Appy Astros for this question)

AH:  In the GCL it was very hot, we played in the middle of the day, and we had little to no fans at the games so when we played.  It was pretty much just the teams there to watch and play the games.  It wasn't quite as fun as playing in Greeneville, but it was still fun because I got to play the game that I love.  In Greeneville it was still pretty hot, but not as bad as it was in the GCL.  We also didn't play in the middle of the day and we had quite a few fans coming to our games - a whole lot more than in the GCL.

WTH:  Were there any pitchers growing up that you particularly admired or wanted to emulate?  Any role models?

AH:  As a kid I had always liked Randy Johnson.  He played on my favorite team at the time with A-Rod and Ken Griffey Jr.  I also liked Nolan Ryan and that's probably because he is my dad's favorite pitcher.  Now that I am older he has become my favorite pitcher.

WTH:  What will be your biggest focus in the upcoming season?  What will you be trying to accomplish?

AH:  My biggest focus this upcoming season is to pitch the best I can in every game and to help my team win as much as I can.  I'll also be focusing on pushing myself and making myself better throughout the whole season.  I will be trying to and will accomplish being a better overall pitcher at the end of the season than I am at the beginning of the season.

WTH:  Finally, can you tell us something about yourself that most people don't know that might surprise them?

AH:  There isn't much about myself that would surprise somebody.  I'm just an average guy fulfilling a dream and goal that I had when I was five years old.

Many thanks to Adrian for letting us get to know him a little better.  If you aren’t already, give him a follow on twitter ~ @AdrianHouser12 

Winter Leagues

No Astros played in any of the Winter League playoff games last night.  Since they took the night off, so did I!

Happy Birthday - 1/24

CF Javaris Reynolds (19)
Drafted by the Astros out of a Florida high school in 2011 in the 7th round, the lefty-hitting Reynolds is young and raw, but shows promise.  In 2011 for the GCL Astros, he hit .228/.354/.247/.601 but managed a .333 batting average vs. lefties and hit .277 in July.

Former Astros with birthdays today

LF Sandy Valdespino (73)
Played in 41 games for Houston in 1969

LHP Ross Powell (44)
Pitched in 27 games for Houston in 1994 and 1995

Tweet of the Day



Rafael Valenzuela
After a good baseball and workout day getting greeted by my dog when I walk in the door is priceless

No Announced Roster Moves Today

OK, I am officially annoyed that the Astros 40-Man Roster shows 41 players.  We still do not know who the odd man out will be as Chris Snyder is added to the roster.

UPDATED TO ADD:  I totally forgot about the fact that C Craig Tatum was claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

WTH 25-Man Roster - Utility Infielder

As posted over the weekend, the 17th player added to the WTH 25-Man Roster was RHP Paul Clemens.  Also receiving votes were Luis Ordosgoitti, Nick Tropeano, Vincent Velasquez, Tommy Shirley, Kyle Hallock, Adrian Houser, Tanner Bushue, Ross Seaton and Brandt Walker.  For more information on the WTH Roster, go here.

This week we're going to pick our 5th infielder.  This list is compiled of true utility players plus middle infielders who received votes in prior rounds of voting.  (Corner infielders and utility players used extensively as DH's will be considered in the DH category, plus top vote-getters from that category will be considered for the 6th and final infield position, along with the top vote-getters in this category.)  One name stands out for me.  Brandon Wikoff was used as a true utility infielder in 2011 with time divided among 2B, 3B and SS, and he had very good numbers, with a .302 BA, a .391 OBP and only 7 errors over 107 games.  Another interesting player is Neiko Johnson with a .397 OBP and the ability to play both infield and outfield positions.  Neiko, along with Enrique Hernandez, Ruben Sosa and Andru Sierra will also be included in the outfield utility position as they played all over the field in 2011.  Yonathan Mejia and Luca Martone lead the way in BA, but over a limited number of games.  Finally, there is Jose Thompson who leads this group in SLG%.

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

Winter League Recaps

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE FINALS

Obregon over Guasave 6-5
Brad Snyder went 0 for 4 with a strikeout for Guasave.  Obregon leads the best of 7 series 2-0.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE FINALS

La Guaira (Sergio Escalona's team) and Aragua (Sergio Perez' team) will be facing off in the best of 7 finals.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Escogido over Aguilas 4-1
Escogido (Aneury Rodriguez' team) is now leading the best of 9 series 2-0.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Mayaguez over Caguas 8-5
This was the final on the suspended game from Saturday.  Mayaguez leads Caguas (Luis Cruz' team) 4-2 in the best of 9 series.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

The Sydney Blue Sox, Brandon Barnes' team, barely squeaked into the playoffs.  Sydney, the #4 seed, will play Adelaide, the #3 seed starting Thursday the 26th.  Here is the playoff bracket, and here is the story of how Sydney made it into the playoffs.

Happy Birthday - 1/23

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Don Nottebart (died October 4, 2007 at 71)
Pitched in 88 games for the Colt 45's and Astros from 1963 to 1965
ERA of 3.86 and WHIP of 1.244
Pitched Houston's first no-hitter in 1963

2B Joey Amalfitano (78)
Played in 117 games for the Colt 45's in 1962

UT Benny Distefano (50)
Played in 52 games for Houston in 1992

RHP Brandon Duckworth (36)
Pitched in 26 games for Houston in 2004 and 2005

Tweet of the Day



Mitchell Lambson
beisbol es bueno

No Announced Roster Moves Today

There is still no word as to who will be removed from the 40-Man Roster in order to make room for Chris Snyder.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

WTH 25-Man Roster

The 17th player selected to the What the Heck 25-Man Roster was RHP Paul Clemens.  Also receiving votes were Luis Ordosgoitti, Nick Tropeano, Vincent Velasquez, Tommy Shirley, Kyle Hallock, Adrian Houser, Tanner Bushue, Ross Seaton and Brandt Walker.  (For more information on the WTH 25-Man Roster, go  here.)

Coming Monday - Let's pick our 5th infielder.

Winter League Recaps

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Mayaguez over Caguas 8-4 (suspended)
Luis Cruz pitched one inning with a solo home run and a strikeout for Caguas.  Mayaguez leads the best of nine series 3-2.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE FINALS

Escogido over Aguilas 5-2
Aneury Rodriguez pitched four innings for Escogido, giving up four hits, a solo home run and two walks with three strikeouts, and earned the win.  Escogido leads in the best of seven series 1-0.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE FINALS

Obregon over Guasave 3-2
Brad Snyder went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts for Guasave.  Obregon leads the best of seven series 1-0.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

1/21 - Perth over Sydney 3-0
Brandon Barnes was 1 for 4 with a strikeout and a caught stealing for Sydney.

1/22 - Perth over Sydney 7-2
Brandon Barnes was 2 for 4  with a stolen base for Sydney.

Happy Birthday - 1/22

RHP Jose Valdez (29)
Originally signed as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic by the Yankees in 2000, Valdez came to Houston via free agency in 2009.  In the minor leagues in 2011, he had a 5.47 ERA and a 1.459 WHIP.  With Houston, he had a 9.00 ERA and a 1.571 WHIP.

RHP Jose Montero (19)
Signed by the Astros as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Montero did not pitch in 2011 but he is still shown as being in the Astros organization.  In 2010 for the DSL Astros, he was 1-3 in 13 starts (55.2 innings pitched) with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.275 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today

OF Leon Roberts (61)
Played in 106 games in Houston in 1976 and 1977
New hitting coach for Oklahoma City

OF Javier Ortiz (49)
Played in 77 games for Houston in 1990 and 1991

Tweet of the Day



Garen L. Wright
Baseball season is around the corner..! 

No Announced Roster Moves Today

The Astros have still not announced who will be dropped from the 40-Man Roster to make room for Chris Snyder.  At the time of posting, there are currently 41 players listed on the roster.