Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy Birthday - 9/17

Three former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Jim Umbricht - Died April 4, 1964 at age 33
Umbricht was drafted from the Pirates as the 35th pick in the 1961 expansion draft and played for the Colt 45's for 2 seasons, in 1962 and 1963. In 69 appearances for the Colt 45's, he was 8-3 with a 2.33 ERA and a 0.986 WHIP. From Wikipedia:

"Umbricht underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his leg in March 1963 but was able to return to the Colt .45s to post a 4-3 won/loss record and a solid 2.61 earned run average in 35 games that season."

He played his final game on September 26, 1993 and died less than seven months later. His uniform number - 32 - was retired immediately.

Pinch Runner Alonzo "Candy" Harris (64)
Harris didn't get much of a chance. Used primarily as a pinch runner for the Astros in 1967, he only got one AB in 6 games and he struck out. And that, at the ripe old age of 19, was the extent of his major league career.

LHP John Franco (51)
Franco spent his final season (out of 21 total) pitching for the Astros out of the bullpen in 2005, compiling a 7.20 ERA and a 2.133 WHIP before being released on July 2, 2005. His career as a whole makes a much better story though. Franco was 90-87 with 424 saves, a career ERA of 2.89 and a career WHIP of 1.333 (1.88 ERA and 0.977 WHIP in 15 post-season games). He spent 6 seasons with the Reds and 14 seasons with the Mets, leading the league in saves for three seasons and getting an All-Star nod four times. Currently, at 1119 appearances, he trails only two pitchers in games played.

Tweet of the Day

J.P. Shadrick
I think I saw him wear that in Des Moines RT “: Seargent Lucas Harrell reporting for duty

For the full story and more photos, check out Alyson Footer's blog.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Introducing the Wild Thing Ratio

Just for a few Friday grins, I'm introducing the Wild Thing Ratio. This is calculated by adding Wild Pitches and Hit Batters and dividing by Innings Pitched (WP+HB/IP) to give us wildness per innings pitched or the Wild Thing Ratio.

What's Our Magic Number?

The Astros have eliminated all but five four teams in clinching the #1 overall draft pick in 2012.  Here are the magic numbers* for each remaining team.

Kansas City - 1
San Diego - 2
Seattle - 3
Baltimore - 5
Minnesota - 6

Naturally, I hope that the Astros go 13-0 and the other teams cooperate by winning the requisite number of games, but that's probably not going to happen.

I'll update daily until we're assured of the prize!

*Any combination of wins by the noted teams and losses by the Astros

Happy Birthday - 9/16

Two former Astros with birthdays today

SS Hector Torres (66)
The native of Mexico played for Houston from 1968 to 1970 and again in 1973. He was a starter in 1968, but then was relegated to bench duties in his latter three seasons with the Astros. He had a .206 BA and a .244 OBP in 666 AB's. In October of 1970, he was traded to the Cubs for Roger Metzger.

RHP Chad Harville (35)
Originally obtained in a trade with Oakland in 2004 (for Kirk Saarloos), Harville spent parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons with Houston. In 93 regular season appearances, he was 3-4 with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.533 WHIP. In 4 post-season appearances (in the NLDS and NLCS in 2004), he had an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.000. He played his final game with Tampa Bay August 12, 2006.

Tweet of the Day

Zachary Levine
Astros picks for minor league player & pitcher of the year Jose Altuve and Jake Buchanan. Same as Baseball America picks.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Birthday - 9/15

RHP Murilo Gouvea (23)
Obtained in a 2009 trade with the White Sox for future considerations, the Brazilian-born Gouvea spent the majority of the season at Lexington. His 4.19 ERA and 1.512 WHIP at Lexington showed improvement over his 6.30 ERA and 1.575 WHIP at Tri-City last season.

OF Ariel Ovando (18)
Signed by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA in 2010 (for a ginormous $2.6 million dollar signing bonus), Ovando spent his first season with the Greeneville Astros in the Appy League. As a very raw lefty OF, he has a long way to go, but having just turned 18, there will be plenty of time for him to develop. His .235 BA increased to .280 with runners on and .259 with runners in scoring position.

CF Daniel Adamson (24)
Drafted in the 20th Round in 2010 out of Jacksonville State University in Alabama, Adamson split his time this season between the GCL Astros, Lexington and Lancaster. His success at Lexington (.295 BA & .365 OBP in 53 games) was not duplicated in limited time with Lancaster (.155 BA & .206 OBP in 18 games).

RHP Jason Stoffel (23)
Originally drafted by the Giants in the 4th Round in 2009, Stoffel was obtained (along with Henry Sosa) in the Jeff Keppinger trade in July. In 18 games for the Hooks he was 1-3 with a 5.63 ERA and a 1.688 WHIP. Prior to the trade, he was 1-2 with a 3.98 ERA and a 1.596 WHIP over 32 appearances.

Tweet of the Day

Jiovanni Mier
Downside of playing baseball: You think you can win every "throw a ball and win....." game at the fair. And you end up losing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Players Drafted by Other Teams

How many players in the Astros system were originally drafted by other teams? Who drafted them? What year? What round? You probably weren't thinking about it at all, but those are the kind of totally useless facts that I find endlessly fascinating, or at least mildly interesting.

Happy Birthday - 9/14

One former Astro with a birthday today:

LHP Frank Carpin (73)
After pitching for Pittsburgh in 1965 (3-1, 4 saves and a 3.18 ERA), Carpin was picked up by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. He only appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 1966, compiling a 7.50 ERA and a 2.500 WHIP, and he played his last major league game on September 3, 1966.

Tweet of the Day

Bryce Lane
Can't wait to be out there with them
Bryce is having surgery in Houston on some bone spurs in his elbow today so he was at the game last night.  My seats weren't as good as his.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Case You Missed It ...

Please vote for the first player to join the What the Heck 25-Man Roster.  For more on the concept, look here.  For more on the first players considered, look here.  And then please vote in the poll over there. --------------------------------------------------->

Happy Birthday - 9/13

IF John Hinson (23)
Born in North Carolina and drafted out of Clemson in the 13th round in 2011, Hinson quickly made his mark in his first season at Tri-City. The lefty hit .284 with a .348 OBP and a .389 SLG in 48 games for the Valley Cats before being sidelined by an injury in early August that put him on the DL for the rest of the season.

Several former Astros with birthdays today:

RHP Wade Miller (35)
Drafted by Houston in the 20th round in 1996
Played for Houston from 1999 to 2004
Record of 58-39 with a 3.87 ERA 1.309 WHIP
2.57 ERA and 1.000 WHIP in one NLDS game in 2001 earning a no decision

SS Mike Fischlin (56)
Played for Houston in 1977, 1978 and 1980

1B Jim Obradovich (62)
Played for Houston in 1978

RHP Billy Smith (57)
Played for Houston in 1981

RHP Nelson Cruz (39) - (No, not THAT Nelson Cruz)
Played for Houston in 2001 and 2002

Tweet of the Day

@brianmctaggart Brian McTaggart
This is the most runs the Astros have scored in a start with Oswalt on the mound probably since 2006.

No Announced Roster Moves Today But ...

Zachary Levine tells us who is going to the fall instructional league

Monday, September 12, 2011

Introducing the WTH 25-Man Roster

With the regular minor league season over and the major league season rapidly winding to its end, there simply won't be as much to report on the Astros minor league front over the next few months.

So, in trying to keep things interesting, I decided to establish the "What the Heck 25-Man Roster," made up of 25 minor-league players that we can follow as a group next season. The roster will roughly match the Astros MLB roster (before September 1st) with 12 pitchers, 2 catchers, 6 infielders and 5 outfielders.

Each Monday for the next 25 weeks (except maybe time off for the holidays), I will post information on a group of players, and we will pick one of those players for the roster. This will take us right into spring training. Then we can make any adjustments during the last couple of weeks before the season opens (accounting for any injuries, promotions to the major-league club directly from spring training, trades, etc.).

It's more for fun than anything, but let's see how well we do at picking out the Astros' stars of the future.

WTH 25-Man Roster - RHP Starter #1

First up, let's pick a RHP to start for us. Selecting one of these pitchers does not mean that we can't pick another pitcher from the same group later, nor does it necessarily mean that we consider that player to be WTH's ace of the staff. It's just a place to start.

I picked only right-handers used primarily as starting pitchers who had a minimum of 120 IP for full-season teams and a minimum of 50 IP for short-season teams. Andrew Robinson and Erick Abreu were included as they were used solely to start in the latter part of the season, but Jonnathan Aristil was not included because he was moved to the bullpen in the latter part of the season.

My personal favorite of the more established players is Jake Buchanan. Out of the rookie class, Nick Tropeano is my guy. Folty has a ways to go but he won't even be 20 until October and he has a great deal of upside. And I am also extremely intrigued by Jamaine Cotton and look forward to seeing what he will do next season. With that said, look over the numbers, pick your favorite and vote in the poll to help determine the first pitcher on the WTH 25-Man Roster.

Happy Birthday - 9/12

1B Jhonny Medrano (24)
First signed by the Astros as an NDFA out of Venezuela in 2005, he started his career in the VSL that year. Jhonny was unable to duplicate his 2010 success at Greeneville (.295/.342/.514/.857) in his 2011 season at Lexington (.203/.255/.335/.590). He was showing improvement, though, with a red-hot start at the plate in August before going on the DL August 11th where he remained for the rest of the season.

One former Astro with a birthday today:

UT Pat Listach (44)
Pat spent 5 seasons with Milwaukee, where he won Rookie of the Year in 1992, before signing with the Astros as a free agent in 1997. He played 52 games with the Astros that season, putting up a .182 BA and .247 OBP, before being released July 1, 1997. He did not play another major league game.

Tweets of the Day

@JZiggidyZeid Josh Zeid
God bless the best country in the world. Praying for ones who lost their lives on 9/11 and the ones who fought for ours. #proud2banamerican

@ASoggyBottom Alex Sogard
Proud to be an American! #thankful

@T_Burnett12 Tyler W. Burnett
It's hard to believe it's been ten years! Proud to be an American

@K_Green29 Kyle Greenwalt
It's days like this that bring us closer as a nation, and help us to remember that freedom is not free. God Bless America

@ThisIsNJJ Neiko Johnson
10 years ago the world was changed forever. Keeping the people who lost their lives and their families in my prayers.

@Funky2414 Jordan Comadena
9-11-01 God bless all the families who lost loved ones that day. America will never forget. #NYFD #NYPD #TwinTowers

@JioMier Jiovanni Mier
My thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and continuous prayers to our men and women serving our country today.

Roster Moves - 9/11

RHP Lance Pendleton activated

In addition, the previously reported moves on Sergio Escalona and Xavier Cedeno were made official.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

Brian McTaggart has this story about a 9/11 first responder who is now a scout for the Astros.

Happy Birthday - 9/11

2B Jose Vallejo (25)
First signed by the Rangers as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, Vallejo came to the Astros in the Pudge Rodriguez trade in 2009 as the player to be named later (along with Matt Nevarez). A switch-hitting second baseman, he has shown mixed results this season as he played for Lancaster, Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City. Although his overall line for the season at .215/.284/.262/.546 is less than impressive, he showed great improvement in the latter part of the season, compiling a .273/.344/.309/.653 line after the All-Star game. He also provided solid defense at second base, putting up a .987 fielding percentage at that position.

One former Astro with a birthday today:

LHP Dave Roberts - died January 9, 2009 at age 64
An absolute workhorse in the 4 seasons that he pitched for Houston (1972 to 1975), Roberts pitched 843.2 innings for the Astros. He was 47-44 with 34 complete games, 11 shutouts, 4 saves, a 3.69 ERA and a 1.358 WHIP. In 13 seasons in the majors (from 1969 to 1981), he also played for San Diego, Detroit, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Seattle and the New York Mets.

Tweet of the Day

This exchange was actually from a couple of days ago, but worth sharing in case you missed it.

Jordan Lyles
Off day in D.C. At the Smithsonian museum.
Ryan Rowland-Smith
you at a field trip with your high school?
Jordan Lyles
shouldn't you be out of the country by now?
Ryan Rowland-Smith
Save it junior RT : shouldn't you be out of the country by now?
Jordan Lyles
Your not on a surf board or reading over scripts right now??
Ryan Rowland-Smith
isn't it past your bed time youngster!

Roster Moves - 9/10

LHP Sergio Escalona placed on the 60-day DL (effectively taking him off the 40-man roster)

LHP Xavier Cedeno called up from OKC to HOU and added to the 40-man roster