Saturday, September 24, 2011

Last Day to Vote for WTH First Baseman

In case you missed it, here are the details.

Happy Birthday - 9/24

RHP Jake Buchanan (22)
Recently named Astros MiLB Pitcher of the Year, Buchanan is only in his second season in the Astros organization, having been drafted in the 8th round in 2010 out of North Carolina State. The majority of his season was spent at Lancaster with a late call-up to Corpus Christi. Buchanan was a workhorse, leading all Astros minor-leaguers in innings pitched in 2011 at 226.2. In 40 starts, he had a 3.80 ERA and a 1.201 WHIP.

OF Jacob Goebbert (24)
Drafted in the 13th round out of Northwestern in 2009, Goebbert built on a very successful sophomore year at Lexington in 2010 by putting up good numbers again in 2011, and was rewarded with rapid promotions up the ranks. From Lancaster up through Corpus Christi and on to Oklahoma City, the lefty excelled with an overall line of .290/.352/.438/.790. Although he didn't quite match his eye-popping 48 doubles from 2010, he did have 27 doubles, 4 triples and 12 homeruns.

Alyson Footer (?)
Social Media Director and Twitter Queen for the Houston Astros

Tweet of the Day - Bonus Edition

Jake Buchanan
Not a bad place to play baseball

Tweet of the Day


Jiovanni Mier
First game in over a year. Like a kid on the first day of school.


Brandt Walker
Future Astros 3 Future Tigers 1. Time to hop in the cold tub since I now have the knees of an 84 year old.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Frivolity

With all the brouhaha that Altuve's diminutive frame has caused, I thought I'd look and see the extremes of height and weight on the current Astros minor league rosters.  This is what I found.  (Remember these are listed weights and heights so take them with a grain of salt.)


LHP David Duncan - 6'9" (230 lbs.) - Technically David is the tallest but since he's been languishing on the DL for some time, let me give you the next tallest as well.

LHP Adam Champion (TCV) - 6'7" (230 lbs.)
RHP Steven Dennison (GCL) - 6'7" (225 lbs.)
RHP Mark Jones (GRN) - 6'7" (205 lbs.)


2B Ruben Sosa (LEX) - 5'7" (170 lbs.)


C Robinson Cancel (OKC) - 240 lbs. (6'0")
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (OKC) - 240 lbs. (6'3")
OF Wallace Gonzalez (GCL) - 240 lbs. (6'5")


LHP Gabriel Garcia (LEX) - 140 lbs. (5'11")

Happy Birthday - 9/23

2B Ruben Sosa (21)
This switch-hitting second baseman from the Dominican Republic was drafted in the 23rd round in 2011 out of Oklahoma City University.  Sosa split his time between Greeneville and Lexington and, over 50 games, he had a line of .239/.349/.307/.656 with 9 doubles, 1 triple and 14 stolen bases.

Three former Astros with birthdays today:

RHP Oscar Zamora (67)
Played 10 games for Houston in 1978 at the end of his career

C Terry McGriff (48)
Played 4 games for Houston in 1990 (was one of the PTBNL in the Billy Doran trade with the Reds)

RHP Pete Harnisch (45)
Played for Houston from 1991 to 1994
Came to Houston as part of the Glenn Davis trade with the Orioles (along with Steve Finley & Curt Schilling)
Named to the All-Star team in first season with the Astros
Was 45-33 in 117 starts for the Astros, with 10 complete games, 6 shut-outs, a 3.41 ERA & a 1.205 WHIP

Tweet of the Day

Baseball Swag
Wearing your shades upside down on the brim of your fitted cap is a on and off the field

Astros County
Putting on jorts to walk up from the basement to check to see if your Baseball Prospectus came in the mail

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Now that the Astros have Clinched the #1 Draft Pick ...

Zachary Levine makes it official.

In case you missed it, a great article from Stephen Goff at the Examiner on how Bobby Heck approaches the draft.  The money quote:

"Within two weeks after the [2011] Draft, our scouts had to turn in their first list for 2012," Heck said.

UPDATED TO ADD Brian McTaggart's article regarding his talk with Heck on what prospects he's currently looking at.

Let the speculation begin!!!!!

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

I'm sure you've seen a variation of a quote often attributed to Mark Twain, but which actually came from Benjamin Disraeli, that notes that there are three kinds of falsehoods - "lies, damned lies and statistics."  For example, you may see a poll that says only 20% approve of a proposed law that punishes anyone who makes coats out of dalmations, only to find out that out of ten people polled, eight thought that the law didn't go far enough because the law only proposed a fine and not jail time, one didn't understand the question and one was named C. Deville.  Technically, only 20% approve, but it was all in how the question was asked and who was being asked.  That is an example of statistics being used to deceive.

When I posted my 100 & 100 article a couple of days ago, I had no intent to deceive the reader.  I personally thought that 100 line-ups used over 153 games was a bit much, but I specifically declined to editorialize.  Well, I got called out.  I was basically told that the information was meaningless, that all clubs use this many line-ups routinely, etc.  Once I established that my line-up analysis was only for the 1 through 7 positions and that no line-up had been used more than eight times, I was told that the 2011 Phillies had used a comparable number of line-ups.  Well, in all fairness, I decided to dig down and see whether or not the two teams were comparable as it pertains to line-up changes.  My findings are that not all line-up changes are created equal, in my opinion.

First of all, you can't compare the line-ups directly because Charlie Manuel often used his catcher Ruiz in the #7 spot to start the season (#6 later in the season), but used his other catchers in the #8 spot.  So let's look at the #1 through #6 spots during a relatively stable period for both clubs (beginning of the season through 4/28).  During this period, the Phillies used 6 line-ups in the #1 through #6 spots, the most popular being used 15 times.  During the same period, the Astros used 10 line-ups for those positions, the most popular being used 6 times.

The second difference is injuries.  The Phillies started the season with Utley on the DL and the Astros started the season with Barmes and Keppinger on the DL.  During the season, the Astros had two back-up position players and a catcher go on the DL while the Phillies had their starting shortstop, starting third baseman, starting center fielder and two catchers all go on the DL.  In the cases of Polanco and Victorino, they were each on the DL twice during the season.  As you go through the boxscores, you can see how Charlie Manuel is trying to plug holes for injured starters.  Yet, you can still see consistency, in my opinion.  For example, during one of Polanco's stints on the DL, Martinez is plugged in at that spot for 18 straight games, and Ibanez starts 9 of 10 in place of the injured Victorino at the same spot.

In the meantime, during one ten-day period I looked at, Mills used 9 different line-ups with the following players used in the following spots in the batting order:

Bourn - 1, 1, x, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1
Bourgeois - x, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, x, x
Pence - 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
Lee - 4, 5, 4, x, x, x, 4, 4, 4, 4
Wallace - 5, x, 5, 4, 4, 4, x, 5, 5, 6
Hall - 6, x, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, x, 7, 5
Johnson - 7, 6, x, 5, 5, 5, x, x, 6, 7
Barmes - 2, 8, x, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 2, 8
Sanchez - x, 3, 2, x, x, x, 7, 7, x, x
Downs - x, x, 7, x, x, x, x, x, x, x
Towles - x, 7, x, x, 8, x, 8, x, x, 2
Quintero - 8, x, 8, 8, x 8, x, 8, 8, x

How many had forgotten about the whole Towles in the #2 spot experiment?  I had.

To be perfectly fair, let's look at the same 10-day period for Charlie Manuel's club since they were in a transition at that point from a starting 4 of Victorino, Polanco, Rollins, Howard to Rollins, Victorino, Polanco, Howard:

Victorino - 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
Polanco - 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
Rollins - 3, 3, 3, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
Howard - 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4
Francisco - 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, x, 5, 5, 5, x
Ibanez - 6, x, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5
Orr - 7, x, 7, 7, x, x, 7, 8, x, 7
Valdez - x, 7, x, x, 8, 7, x, x, 7, x
Mayberry - x, 6, x, x, x, 5, x, x, x, x
Gload - x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, 6
Schneider - 8, x, 8, 8, 7, x, 8, 7, x, 8
Sardinha - x, 8, x, x, x, 8, x, x, 8, x

As you can see, Charlie uses his starters in the same general positions for days on end and he only sits them occasionally.   In a platoon situation, he keeps that position in the same part of the order as he is doing with Orr/Valdez.  Could I have picked a 10-day period that was more volatile?  Probably, but the above is very representative of how Manuel handled his club this season between injuries.  In my opinion.

The final difference?  The Phillies are an established team.  Within reason, you should be able to move an established player into a different position.  The Astros are in a re-building youth mode.  In my opinion, players such as Altuve, Martinez and Paredes need to get consistent playing time in a consistent position in the order so that they can develop.  Yet Altuve has been used in the 1, 2, 6 and 7 spots; Martinez in the 3, 4 and 5 spots; and Paredes in the 2, 5, 6 and 7 spots.  We will never see what these players can really do unless we give them a legitimate chance.  And how will you know if Wallace and Bogusevic will ever hit left-handed pitching if you never give them that chance?  Again, this is my opinion only.

I don't have access to Elias Sports Bureau to regurgitate stats for me.  So I had to go into over 300 boxscores to glean the information and the trends that I saw.  Even with all the differences noted above, it still appears that the Astros used about a dozen more line-ups than the Phillies.  If Charlie Manuel used Ruiz and his other catchers consistently in the #8 spot in the order and had healthy starters for most of the season as the Astros did, he probably would have used half as many line-ups as the Astros.  Again, this is my opinion based on my findings and the trends I saw.  In any event, comparing Charlie Manuel's use of his roster with Brad Mill's use of his roster is like comparing apples and kumquats.  In my opinion.

I truly do believe that the instability of the day-to-day line-ups is a detriment to the Astros growth and development.  I also do not believe that I have attempted to deceive anyone by using lies, damned lies and statistics.  If anyone believes that I did, I apologize.  And that is not an opinion.  It is a fact.

Magic Number Watch

With the Astros loss yesterday, and the Twins not cooperating again (they've lost 11 in a row now), our magic number to clinch the #1 draft pick is 2. Kind of.  Actually, only one more loss by the Astros or one more win by the Twins will do the trick because that will assure at least a tie.  In the event of a tied record this year, it is my understanding that they will look at last year's record to determine who will get the pick, and since we had a worse record last year, that will be that.

Happy Birthday - 9/22

OF Jordan Scott (20)
Drafted in the 14th round in 2010 out of Riverside HS in South Carolina, the lefty continued to show his prowess at the plate in his second season with the organization. In 79 games between Lexington, Greeneville and Tri-City, Jordan compiled a .323/.380/.406/.787 line.

LHP Adam Champion (24)
This big lefty from Indiana was drafted by Houston in the 24th round in 2010 out of the University of Arkansas Little Rock. In 15 games split between starting and relief pitching (mostly for Tri-City), he was 4-1 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.352 WHIP.

RHP Luis Ordosgoitti (19)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2009, Luis is in his second season with the Astros organization. In 12 games (10 starts) for the GCL Astros, Greeneville and Tri-City, he was 2-5 with a 4.58 ERA and a 1.358 WHIP.

RHP Arcenio Leon (25)
Arcenio signed with the Astros as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 and started playing in the Venezuelan Summer League that year. Now in his seventh season with the Astros organization, he spent his season at Corpus Christi, with a late move to Oklahoma City for one game. Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, he was 3-4 in 48 appearances with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP.

Three former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Larry Dierker (65)
Played for the Colt 45's and Houston Astros from 1964 to 1976
Managed the Astros from 1997 to 2001

LF Jeffrey Leonard (56)
Played for Houston from 1978 to 1981

RF Charleton Jimerson (32)
Played 18 games for Houston in 2005 and 2006

Tweet of the Day

Zachary Levine
Astros minor league team MVPs: Anderson Hernandez (AAA), Jimmy Paredes (AA), Austin Wates (A+), Emilio King (A)...
More Astros minor league team MVPs: Matt Duffy (short-season A), Jordan Scott (rookie), Yonathan Mejia (GCL), Teoscar Hernandez (DSL)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Magic Number Watch

With the Astros loss last night and absolutely NO help from Minnesota, our magic number for the #1 draft pick is now at 3.  The Astros have 8 games remaining and Minnesota, now on a 10-game losing streak, has 9 games remaining.

Brad Mills Line-Up Watch

Last night's line-up for the Astros had been used once previously so we're still at 100 on the season.

Happy Birthday - 9/21

CF T.J. Steele (25)
Drafted by Houston in the 4th round in 2008, this lefty from California has been unable to replicate his excellent 2009 season in Lancaster at the plate. Now in his second season at Corpus Christi, his .212 BA and .249 OBP were actually a regression from the prior year; however, his .354 SLG is an improvement over his 2010 .315 SLG.

Several former Astros with birthdays today

OF Art Gardner (59)
Played for Houston in 1975 and in 1977

RHP Aurelio "Senor Smoke" Lopez - died September 22, 1992 at age 44 (auto accident)
Played for Houston in 1986 and 1987

C Troy Afenir (48)
Played for Houston in 1987

RHP Manuel Barrios (37)
Played in 2 games for Houston in 1997

RHP Billy Sadler (30)
Pitched 1.1 innings in 1 game for Houston in 2009

Tweet of the Day

Zachary Levine
I want to be friends with the fan who yelled "200, we want it" right before Drew Stubbs' 200th strikeout.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

100 & 100

I try to keep my focus on the Astros minor league system, but with regular seasons over and fall leagues still a couple of weeks away, my mind has a tendency to wander.  I was looking into something totally different and got off on a major tangent only to find this.

Not only do the Astros have 100 losses on the season, but as of last night's game, Brad Mills has now used 100 different line-ups in the 1 to 7 positions*.  That's ONE ZERO ZERO.  Sure, there have been numerous changes in personnel, injuries, trades, promotions, etc. but let's break it down a little further.

The one line-up that has been used most was used a whopping 8 whole times:


Two other line-ups were used 7 times each:



Then it drops off to one used 5 times, three used 4 times, six used 3 times and ten used 2 times.  And then, get this, there have been 76 line-ups that have been used one time only.

Mills has used the following number of players in each batting position:

1 - 6
2 - 10
3 - 8
4 - 6
5 - 10
6 - 12
7 - 12

I'm not going to editorialize.  I'll leave it to the reader to decide what they think of this.

*Please note that I double-checked my work, but if I am off at all, the error will be negligible.

What's Our Magic Number?

OK, Minnesota is REALLY starting to tick me off.  Win already, will ya?!

The Astros now only have one team competing for the #1 draft pick and the magic number remains unchanged from yesterday.  Any combination of Minnesota wins and Astros losses equalling four will do the job.  But Minnesota keeps losing.  Not only do they have a 9-game losing streak going, but they are 9-34 in August and September.  The Astros are 17-27 during the same period.  I refuse to root against the Astros, even for the #1 draft pick, so Minnesota needs to step it up.  Astros have 9 games remaining on their schedule; Minnesota has 10.

Happy Birthday - 9/20

IF Angel Sanchez (28)
Angel was originally drafted by the Royals in the 11th round in 2001 out of Puerto Rico and came to Houston in a trade with the Red Sox in July 2010. Due to injuries during his two seasons with the Astros, he has been used much more than his intended utility role would dictate. In 169 games with the Astros playing primarily at short, he has a line of .259/.307/.314/.621 with 12 errors.

LHP Scott Zuloaga (22)
Drafted by Houston in the 16th round in 2011 out of Scottsdale Community College, Scott had a very decent first season with Greeneville despite an overall ERA of 6.14 (which was skewed by a few bad outings in June). 12 of his 24 appearances occurred in August, a month in which he put up a 2.45 ERA and a 1.268 WHIP. He dominated against lefties and may have a LOOGY designation in his future.

Tweet of the Day

Steve Campbell
The only sacrifice I want to see in the first inning is a human sacrifice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

WTH 25-Man Roster - First Baseman

As posted over the weekend, RHP Jake Buchanan won the first spot on the WTH roster by a wide margin.  Go here for more info on the What the Heck 25-Man Roster.

Next up, let's find a first baseman.  I went through the rosters and determined all the players who played primarily at first base or who split their time between first base and designated hitter.  There were a couple of players listed as first basemen who were used more as utility players so I didn't include them this time, but all players will get a shot at the WTH roster at some point.

This one is a little more difficult.  Kody Hinze has simply mashed the ball, but Jonathan Singleton is considered a top prospect and did very well at Lancaster after the Pence trade.  And what about Chase Davidson with a monster OPS before hitting the DL?  Please look over the numbers and vote in the poll for who you want at first base.

What's Our Magic Number?

The magic number* for the Astros to clinch the #1 draft pick remains unchanged from yesterday.

Baltimore - 1
Minnesota - 4

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

Happy Birthday - 9/19

2B Yonathan Mejia (19)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, the switch-hitting second baseman is in his second year with the Astros. In his first year with the GCL Astros in 2011, he put up some very good numbers with a line of .329/.357/.384/.781. and only three errors over 40 games.

OF George Springer (22)
A late signing, this 1st round 2011 draft pick out of the University of Connecticut barely had time to get his feet wet at Tri-City. He hit .179 with a .303 OBP and .393 SLG in 8 games with the Valley Cats. He will be participating in the fall instructional league at Kissimmee which starts this week.

Two former Astros with birthdays today

2B Joe Morgan (68)
Played for the Colt 45's and Houston Astros from 1963 to 1971 & again in 1980

C Joe Ferguson (65)
Played for the Astros in 1977 and 1978

Tweet of the Day

brandon meredith
Just touched down in Florida... Now for this next month it's alot of baseball and kickin it....

brandon meredith
Every pond or body of water I see out here all I'm going to think is that gators are in there...
I think an off-day trip to Gatorland may not be a good idea.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

WTH 25-Man Roster

The first player selected to the What the Heck 25-Man Roster was RHP Jake Buchanan by a wide margin.  (For more information on the WTH 25-Man Roster, go here.)  Also receiving votes were Ross Seaton, Nick Tropeano and Luis Ordosgoitti.  I've added a roster list to the blog so we can see who's been picked thus far.

Coming Monday - Let's pick a first baseman.

What's Our Magic Number?

(Through all 9/17 games)

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

Baltimore - 1
Minnesota - 4

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

Happy Birthday - 9/18

RHP Ross Seaton (22)
I forget that he's still this young since 2011 was his fourth season in the Astros minor league system. Drafted in the 3rd round as a compensation pick in 2008 out of Second Baptist High School in Houston, Seaton spent the season in Corpus Christi where he improved on his 2010 numbers from Lancaster, finishing the season 4-9 with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.387 WHIP. He received Texas League pitcher of the week honors twice in 2011.

1B Jonathan Singleton (20)
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the 8th round in 2009, Singleton came to the Astros in the Hunter Pence trade in July. In 35 games at Lancaster, he hit .333 with a .393 OBP and a .456 SLG.

RHP Juan Minaya (21)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, this is Minaya's third season in the Astros organization. Used primarily as a starter at Lexington last season, he was moved to the Legend's bullpen this season where he has struggled, posting a 6.90 ERA and a 1.896 WHIP.

Four former Astros with birthdays today

CF Tony Scott (60)
Played for the Astros from 1981 to 1984

RHP Roger Mason (54)
Played for the Astros in 1989 (very briefly)

RHP Chris Holt (40)
Played for the Astros from 1996 to 2000

C Mitch Meluskey (38)
Played for the Astros from 1998 to 2000 and again in 2003

Tweet of the Day

Zachary Levine
I want to name my kid Starlin.
Good luck convincing a sane woman on that one.

Greg Lucas FSH
That may be a strike against finding a wife soon.