Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Birthday - 2/23

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Edgar Gonzalez (30)
Gonzalez signed with Houston as a free agent in August 2012 and had two very good starts for Oklahoma City before being called up to the Astros. In six starts in Houston, he was 3-1 with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.240 WHIP. He played in the Arizona, Oakland, LA Dodgers, Tampa Bay and Colorado organizations prior to coming to Houston and played winter ball this season in the Mexican Pacific League.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

LHP Juan Agosto (55)
Agosto signed with Houston as a free agent in May 1993 and pitched in 261 games for the Astros from 1987 to 1990 and in 1993. His best season was in 1988 when he appeared in 75 games and went 10-2 with a 2.26 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP. In 1990, he led the National League in appearances with 82.

RHP Scott Elarton (37)
A first round pick by the Astros in 1994, Elarton pitched for Houston from 1998 to 2001, going 32-21 in 120 appearances (67 starts) with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.388 WHIP before being traded to the Rockies at the trade deadline in 2001 for Pedro Astacio. In 2000, he was 17-7 in 30 starts for Houston.

2B/3B Ken Boswell (67)
A native of Austin, Boswell came to Houston in an October 1974 trade with the Mets and played in 275 games for the Astros from 1975 to 1977 after spending eight seasons with New York. His best season offensively was with the Mets in 1969 when he hit .279/.347/.381 and got his World Series ring. In 1970, he led the National League in fielding percentage as a second baseman with a .996 percentage.

C Frank Charles ( 44)
I love this story.  Charles toiled in the minor leagues and independent ball for 10 years. At the end of the 10th year, after having been picked up by Houston in the off-season, he got a September call-up, a rookie at 31.  In seven plate appearances over four games, Charles got three hits with a double and two RBI. His cup of coffee netted him a .429/.429/.571 career batting line. He spent four more seasons in the minors and independent league ball before hanging up his cleats at the end of the 2004 season when he was 35 years old.

Tweet of the Day

Carol Wojo
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday - 2/22

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Tom Griffin (65)
A first round pick by Houston in 1966, Griffin pitched for Houston from 1970 to 1976, going 45-60 in 199 appearances (123 starts) with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.470 WHIP. In his rookie season in 1969, he led the National League in SO/9 at 9.6 in 31 starts. Griffin's best season for Houston (arguably) was in 1974 when he was 14-10 in 34 starts. Ironically, he was also fifth in the National League in wild pitches that year. In 1980 and again in 1981, he led the National League in hit batters while pitching for the Giants.

SS/CF Eric "Cool Breeze" Yelding (48)
Yelding played for Houston from 1989 to 1992, batting .249 over that stretch. In 1990, he stole 64 bases (behind only Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson), but also led the MLB in caught stealing. In 1992, he was sent to the White Sox for LHP Rich Scheid. Yelding was a first round draft pick for the Blue Jays in 1984.

3B/2B Russ Johnson (40)
Yet another first round draft pick with a birthday today, Johnson was drafted by Houston in 1994 and played for the Astros from 1997 to 2000 before being traded to Tampa Bay for RHP Marc Valdes. His best season for Houston was 1999 when he hit .282/.358/.442 and was 1-for-1 with a walk and a double in the NLDS.

LHP John Halama (41)
Halama wasn't a first round pick like all the other birthday boys, but rather was drafted in the 23rd round by Houston in 1994.  He started 6 games  for the Astros in 1998 and went to Seattle at the end of the 1998 season as the player to be named in the Randy Johnson trade. According to Baseball-Reference, on July 7, 2001, Halama pitched the first nine-inning perfect game in Pacific Coast League history for the Tacoma Rainiers, a performance which led to his being recalled to the majors.

Tweet of the Day

Brian Holmes
Starting my trip down to Kissimmee. Thankful that the  gave me the opportunity to participate in the mini-camp

According to Brian McTaggart, the following players were officially invited to mini-camp in advance of the full squad minor league reporting date:

RHP Ruben (R.J.) Alaniz
RHP Mike Foltynewicz
RHP David Martinez
RHP Lance McCullers
RHP Brady Rodgers
RHP Nick Tropeano
RHP Vincent Velasquez
RHP Aaron West
RHP Asher Wojciechowski
LHP Brian Holmes
C Tyler Heineman
C Jobduan Morales
C Roberto Pena
SS Carlos Corea
1B Chase Davidson
SS Nolan Fontana
3B Jonathan Meyer
SS Jio Mier
3B Rio Ruiz
1B Jonathan Singleton

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Review of Ed Wade's Delayed Honor

Thanks to this post from Astros County, I first became aware that Ed Wade, former GM of the Astros, wrote and self-published a novel via Amazon that is available for Kindle. It is entitled Delayed Honor. I had no intention of paying the $9.99 purchase price for Wade's first effort, a work of fiction pitting a former Navy Seal against local baddies as he returns home to bury his father. But when I found out it was available on the Kindle lending library at no cost, I thought, "why not?"

Why not indeed. Where do I even start? The characters are caricatures for the most part, but that's not unusual for this type of thriller. But even when Wade tried to interject a little back story on the main character, former Navy Seal Steve Laun, and his father through a flashback sequence, it had unintended consequences for me. As an argument between them degenerates into a physical altercation, Steve's father yells, "Get off me, you little bastard! I'll kick your ass up the block, you inconsiderate little jerk." And later, "Get out. Pack your stuff and get out. Get off me and start packing. I never want to see you again." Unfortunately, all I could think of was whether or not those were the same words Wade used when he was thrown to the ground and attacked by Shawn Chacon. I'm not proud of myself but I did giggle a little at the thought.

I didn't actually laugh out loud, though, until the moment in which Laun describes Valerie, the lovely neighbor of his late father, as being attired in "fashionable surgical scrubs." Mmmm ... Okay.

Most of the dialogue sounded as though it came from a bad 1970's cop or detective show ala Mannix or the like. Valerie's brother Chris, who was also former military, at one point declares, "I hear what you're saying Sis. But my whole life has been driven by a sense of duty. And the man in that house next door is a brother-in-arms. I need to help him for a lot of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with him, and some of which have a lot to do with us." And later on, as Laun interrogates one of the bad guys, "Let's try this again, Rusty. Easy or hard. I don't mind hard because I really do want to hurt someone, but I also have things to do and it's getting late, so let's try easy one more time."

The plot is a bit of a mess as well. Laun comes to find that Victor Haaf, the local bad guy, was responsible for his father's death, making it look like an accident because the father knew too much about Haaf's misdeeds. Haaf turns out to be a big-time arms dealer with a huge cache of weapons living in rural Pennsylvania (because presumably it's so easy to deal arms to the Middle East from rural Pennsylvania). When it becomes apparent that the local authorities are in cahoots with Haaf, Laun decides that he can't trust anyone, anywhere, supposedly in the entire world, including his former military contacts with the situation and decides he must exact revenge/justice all by himself. Yet for some reason he implicitly trusts the neighbors that he met about 10 nanoseconds earlier.

I was hanging in there until this point, but as Laun puts his plan in motion, the dialogue, descriptive sequences and the plot became more and more ridiculous. After interrogating/terrorizing City Manager Russell Jerud regarding Haaf's plans, Laun finally gets what he needs. "Jerud again nodded rapidly and as Laun left the room, he thought he smelled urine." Upon invading Haaf's well protected home, "[Laun] softly padded up the steps, not bothering to check for vital signs on the two guards. He knew that all six shots that he fired were lethal. Those guys were triple dead."

And in the climatic scene, Haaf (who was actually trussed like a Christmas turkey at the time and didn't constitute much of a threat) says, "And now you'll pay because if anyone gets in the way of me getting mine, they get theirs. That's the way life works. I paid my dues and I'm not about to let a bunch of small town coal crackers get in the way."

I won't divulge how the climactic scene evolves just in case someone actually wants to read the book, but suffice it to say that the over-the-top violence was evocative of Quentin Tarantino, but without the irony. It made me wonder if Ed Wade doesn't have a few unresolved issues and was maybe imagining Jim Crane in the role of Victor Haaf.

There you have it. Three hours of my life that I'll never get back, thanks to Astros County. I'll give Ed Wade his due, though. I don't think I would have the nerve to put myself out there that way to be mocked by people like me, at least not in novel form. But, all in all, I think it's safe to say that Wade is far better at waiver claims than fiction.

Delayed Honor - Currently 619,673rd place on the Kindle Best Seller's list

Happy Birthday - 2/21

No future Astros, and only one former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Jack Billingham (70)
Billingham came to Houston in a trade with the Expos prior to the 1969 season and pitched for the Astros from 1969 to 1971. In 131 appearances (61 starts), he was 29-32 with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.297 WHIP.  According to Baseball-Reference, he was a part of this trade to the Reds in 1971 ~
November 29, 1971: Traded by the Houston Astros with Ed Armbrister, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke and Joe Morgan to the Cincinnati Reds for Tommy Helms, Lee May and Jimmy Stewart.
He had his best season for the Reds in his 1973 All-Star season. That year he was 19-10 in 40 starts, pitching 293.1 innings with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP. Apparently, his arm didn't fall off after that workload since he went on to pitch another seven seasons in the majors.

UPDATED: With a h/t to Appy Astros, we now know that Billingham went on to coach in the minor leagues for several years ending in 2004 as the Pitching Coach of the League Champion Greeneville Astros.

Tweet of the Day

Mike Foltynewicz
It's been fun minooka. Thanks to my friends and family for an awesome off season!  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bonus Tweet of the Day

Courtesy of Jake Elmore's girlfriend, Kristen Keogh, we get to see some of Elmore's dance moves (about 30 seconds in).

Kristen Keogh

Before the Harlem Shake was a thing  did this dance....

Happy Birthday - 2/20

Happy Birthday to ~

LF/DH Telvin Nash (22)
Drafted in the third round in 2009 out of high school in his native Georgia, Nash spent the 2012 season at Lancaster where he hit 19 doubles, 29 home runs and drove in 75 in 106 games. He finished the season with a .224/.316/.494 batting line and struck out 198 times to 47 walks. He hit two home runs and had five RBI in the post-season.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Bill Gullickson (54)
A first round pick by Montreal in 1977, Gullickson came to Houston as a free agent in December 1989. In one season for the Astros in 1990, he was 10-14 with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.459 WHIP in 32 starts. In 1991, after being released by Houston, he went 20-9 for Detroit. Gullickson came in second to Steve Howe in Rookie of the Year voting in 1979.

RHP Jason Hirsh (31)
A second round pick by Houston in 2003, Hirsh started nine games for the Astros in 2006, going 3-4 with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.567 WHIP.  He was traded, along with Taylor Buchholz and Willy Taveras, to the Rockies for Miguel Asencio and he-who-must-not-be-named in December of 2006.

We also have a birthday in the Astros blogging community ~

Deputy Jason (33)
Jason Phelps, writer for Astros County, celebrates his birthday today as well!

Tweet of the Day

Christian García
It's funny how the people who thought I was bad in high school react when they hear I play baseball now... Why am i here? 1 word: heart

Roster Moves

The Astros have re-signed free agent RHP Jorge de Leon. De Leon was a shortstop in the Astros system out of the Dominican Republic for the first few years of his career until he converted to pitcher in 2010 and was eventually placed on the 40-man roster.

In 2012, the Astros used de Leon as a starter for a portion of the season, a proposition that did not go well and was eventually scrapped. De Leon was starting to regain his effectiveness late in the season after being moved back to the bullpen. He was removed from the 40-man roster after the season and became a free agent, but recently re-signed with the team he's played for since 2006.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baseball America Top 100 Prospects - Astros Trivia

As you probably already know by this point, Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospect list this morning. The Astros had five players on the list:

SS Carlos Correa - #13
1B Jonathan Singleton - #27
OF George Springer - #37
RHP Lance McCullers - #50
2B Delino DeShields - #99

Curiously, Mike Foltynewicz wasn't placed on the list despite being ranked above Delino DeShields in the team rankings.

How long has it been since the Astros have had at least five players on Baseball America's Top 100 list? 1998 was the last time and the players were:

OF Richard Hidalgo - #19
RHP Scott Elarton - #28
OF Lance Berkman - #64
RHP Wade Miller - #76
1B Daryle Ward - #97

The Astros also had five on the list in 1990 (the first year of the BA Top 100 list), six in 1991, five in 1994 and five in 1996. The most ever on the list were seven in 1995:

OF Brian Hunter - #5
LHP Billy Wagner - #17
OF Richard Hidalgo - #34
SS Orlando Miller - #51
OF Bobby Abreu - #52
3B Phil Nevin - #59
RHP Scott Elarton - #63

Only once before, in 1991, did the Astros have four players in the Top 50:

SS Andujar Cedeno - #2
3B Jeff Bagwell - #32
RHP Darryl Kile - #34
RHP Jeff Juden - #48

Who has ranked as high or higher than Carlos Correa who is ranked at #13 this year?

SS Andujar Cedeno - #2 (1991)
OF Brian Hunter - #5 (1995)
OF Eric Anthony - #8 (1990)
RHP Darryl Kile - #11 (1990)
OF Lance Berkman - #13 (1999)
RHP Roy Oswalt - #13 (2001)

Correa seems to be in pretty good company sitting at Lucky 13 in 2013.

Talking Astros Prospects with John Manuel of Baseball America

Last week I caught up with John Manuel of Baseball America by phone to talk about the recently released Baseball America 2013 Prospect Handbook. Our conversation was wide-ranging as he helped me fill in the holes in my knowledge of several players, prospects and non-prospects alike. But there were four players who were the focus of much of our conversation.

Earlier this month, I posted a consensus Astros top prospect list which averaged rankings from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, Jonathan Mayo of and John Sickels of Minor League Ball (SBNation). One thing that stood out from that list was the complete agreement on eight of the top ten prospects:

SS Carlos Correa
1B Jonathan Singleton
OF George Springer
RHP Lance McCullers
RHP Mike Foltynewicz
2B Delino DeShields
RHP Jarred Cosart
3B Rio Ruiz

All five sources ranked these eight individuals in their Top 10 list without exception. After that the lists started to diverge. And not surprisingly, that divergence proved to be the focus of my discussion with Manuel. The next four prospects as ranked by Baseball America were:

RHP Nick Tropeano
SS Nolan Fontana
OF Domingo Santana
SS Jonathan Villar

We embarked on our discussion of these four players when I commented on his projected 2016 line-up. He showed Tropeano as the fifth starter and I remarked that a rotation with Tropeano as the fifth starter would be a very strong rotation in my opinion. Manuel isn't sold on Tropeano's breaking ball, but admits that he's a sucker for Trope, "I probably shouldn't be as high on him as I am, but the change-up, the body, the increased velocity ... he's got a little moxie. Tropeano has a starter's mentality, a starter's makeup."

Nick Tropeano - Lancaster August 2012
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Manuel admitted that one could have ranked Tropeano, Fontana, Santana and Villar in any order, but ultimately it came down to ranking the lower risk players (Tropeano and Fontana) over the higher ceiling players (Santana and Villar), "That Top 12 is a very stout Top 12, but the guys at nine and ten - Tropeano and Fontana - are much safer bets than the guys at 11 and 12 so that's why they made the Top 10."

Fontana was the hardest of the four for Manuel to grade and slot into the rankings, but ultimately Manuel noted, "I happen to think that Nolan Fontana will be the safest college player in the draft. I have zero doubt that he'll be a big league player. I should probably have some doubt because he only hit .225 but the .464 on-base mattered a lot more. Sure hands, all those kind of things."

Of Santana, Manuel says, "My biggest question is his feel for hitting and his athleticism." He is somewhat concerned about Santana's strikeout rate and wonders if playing in hitter-friendly Lancaster has skewed his numbers, but admits that Santana's ceiling is high. "He looks the way you want a right-fielder to look. If he had grown up in the U.S., he'd probably be an outside linebacker or a defensive lineman or maybe an offensive lineman because he's mammoth." But what it may very well come down to, according to Manuel, is whether or not Santana proves to have the athleticism as a right-handed hitter "to see right-handed breaking balls and respond to them and lay off of them or hit them."

We also discussed Jonathan Villar at length, mainly because of my personal concerns about Villar based on his level of development thus far. Manuel certainly understood my skepticism, "You'd like to see him be adding a little more polish considering his experience level now. I think the reason we're skeptical is there's a lot of swing and miss there. He hasn't really toned that down too much. His strikeout rate was a little bit better last year in terms of Double A than it was the first year."

But Manuel also knows that it depends greatly to whom you talk about Villar, "Some of the guys who saw him right before he got hurt thought he was turning the corner, thought he was making more consistent contact and [were] liking his swing better. The reason I dropped him from four [in 2012] to 12 [this year] was my increased skepticism in the bat." Manuel knows that the Astros front office would disagree. There is "no question" that the Astros consider Villar a Top 10 prospect.

Manuel went on to say, "The tools are pretty outstanding in every other way. He can help a team without being even an average offensive player. He has better defensive tools than anyone else on the 40-man roster who's an infielder. Better quickness, quick feet, arm strength, range to both sides." His defense can be erratic due to his tendency to speed up the game too much, but Manuel doesn't seem too concerned with that aspect of Villar's game.

When all is said and done, it is encouraging that the Astros system depth has grown to the point that experts are having trouble squeezing all of the talented lower risk and higher ceiling prospects into the Top 10. That is a problem that I can live with. I would encourage anyone interested in minor league prospects to buy a copy of the Baseball America 2013 Prospect Handbook which includes organization overviews and rankings, as well as the Top 30 prospects for each organization, complete with scouting reports.

Happy Birthday - 2/19

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Kevin Chapman (25)
Originally drafted by the Royals in the fourth round in 2010, Chapman came to the Houston organization in a March 2012 trade with Kansas City. Chapman spent the season with Corpus Christi where he and RHP Jason Stoffel quickly became a terrific 1-2 punch to close out games. In 49 games, he was 6-3 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.397 WHIP and was a Texas League mid-season All-Star.

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Chris Zachary (died April 19, 2003 at 59)
Signed by Houston as an amateur free agent prior to the 1962 season, Zachary had a less than awe-inspiring career with Houston as he compiled a 6-16 record with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.466 WHIP in 46 appearances over 5 seasons (1963-1967), but he was only 19 when he made his major league debut.  His best season was with Detroit in 1972; in 25 appearances, he was 1-1 with a 1.41 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP.

OF Don Taussig (81)
Drafted by Houston from the Cardinals in the 1961 expansion draft, Taussig only played in 16 games for the Colt 45's in 1962 (.200 BA) after putting up a very respectable .287/.338/.447 batting line for the Cardinals the prior year.  He never got back to the majors after 1962.

Tweet of the Day

Travis Ballew

I'm kind of a genius.. 
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Monday, February 18, 2013

An Interview with Astros OF Dan Gulbransen

I've been interested in catching up with Tri-City ValleyCats OF and Astros 2012 16th round draft pick Dan Gulbransen ever since I saw this tweet from Austin Elkins last August.

Austin  Elkins
Embedded image permalink

You don't often hear about baseball players doing yoga, but when I heard that some of the 2012 ValleyCats team were participating in classes led by Gulbransen, it was one of those "aha" moments for me. Core strength and flexibility should only help performance on the field and assist in keeping injuries at bay.

In addition to hearing about the yoga, I wanted to find out more about Gulbransen. When I was reading about him prior to sending him the interview questions, I was struck by the sincere praise of Gulbransen's work ethic and mental preparation, his pride in his defensive capabilities and his academic excellence.

His answers to my questions convey that intelligence, coupled with thoughtfulness and self-awareness.

WTH: When the new draft class comes in, it generally takes me a while to get everyone straight, but you quickly emerged as "the yoga guy" in my mind. How long have you been doing yoga? In what ways is yoga helpful for baseball players? I know that you recruited several of your fellow ValleyCats into participating in yoga sessions. Did you win over any skeptics? Any holdouts?

DG: I started doing yoga by following instructional DVDs while I was in high school mainly as a way to recover from football games. Throughout high school, I was a big weightlifter and started developing some lower back tightness and it was suggested that I do yoga as a part of my training. As I got into college, I had to take a yoga class as part of my activities courses at Jacksonville University and the instructor was awesome. Looking back, that was probably a main influencing factor in where my practice has taken me so far. It soon became apparent to my teammates that I was the yoga guy and then an assistant coach asked me to lead a Saturday morning class for the team after seeing what I was doing on my own. That was an adventure. All those events together have contributed to where I am now.

Yoga deals with the practitioner as a whole. Every person is unique and the practice of yoga molds itself to fit every individual’s needs. Everyone who practices yoga can benefit from the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components that it has to offer. More specifically applied to baseball, movements are very repetitive in nature, so it’s incredibly beneficial for baseball players to engage in a yoga practice to work on bringing muscular balance into the body. I also think that yoga helps to bring space into the body so that movement becomes more efficient in nature. With the relaxing effects yoga has on the nervous system through its focus on the breath, it’s helpful in bringing attention into the present so that the game can be played one pitch at a time which is incredibly difficult to do.

Just as in college, some of the guys on the ValleyCats saw what I was able to do with my body and it generated some curiosity. There were a few instances throughout the year that some of the guys wanted to give it a try, and I tried to use those opportunities to share the benefits that I have come to appreciate through my practice.

I think that yoga has begun to be so mainstream that many people have tried it once or twice and those who haven’t tried it before are curious. At the same time, yoga is as unique as the individual – everyone is unique on and off the mat – so I would recommend that new yogis just keep an open mind and practice what they find helpful and let go of the things that don’t interest them.

WTH: The offensive results from your first professional season with Tri-City were a little mixed, but you definitely showed some good pop in your bat and also put up some good post-season numbers. What went wrong? What went right? What did you take away from the experience?

DG: There’s definitely an adjustment from the college to professional game. It was up and down for me personally, but it was a great help to be around teammates like I had in Tri-City. Looking back, I was trying to do too much. I was making mechanical adjustments and changes in my approach that kept me from just going out and competing in the batter’s box. That’s not to say that baseball isn’t a game of adjustments because it certainly is, but at some point it just comes down to getting a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard and I was more inconsistent than I would like in doing so. I’m excited about the progress I’m continuing to make this off-season and look forward to getting into spring training and seeing where it goes from there.

It’s hard to put a finger on what I exactly took away from the experience of my first half-season because there’s just so much. I guess what stands out most in my mind is just what it means to have a professional approach to the game from a day-in day-out perspective.

WTH: Years from now, what will you remember most vividly about Tri-City's run to the finals?

DG: It was an amazing group of guys to play with. We had great camaraderie. We were friends on and off the field and it definitely translated into the way we played together.

WTH: What have you been doing in the off-season to prepare for the coming year?

DG: I’ve been doing everything that I think would help me get to where I want to be. I’ve been working out at Jacksonville University with some very knowledgeable guys to help me with baseball activities on top of all the physical training that’s getting my body into the best shape possible.

WTH: What are your goals for Spring Training?

DG: I’m taking care of my preparation on a day-to-day basis, so as Spring Training approaches, I’m just going to get myself physically and mentally prepared for whatever may happen. With this being my first Spring Training, I’m just ready to put in whatever work is asked of me and then go above and beyond what’s expected.

WTH: Which pitcher from that stacked Tri-City team would you least like to face in the batter's box?

DG: With how good all the guys were in our staff, it could change on a day-to-day basis. I know watching from the outfield that I was happy not to be in the box many times, but without a doubt Kenny Long would be the pitcher I’d least like to face.

WTH: Was there one pitcher/player that you particularly enjoyed just sitting back and watching play/pitch?

DG: We had so many guys contribute throughout the year that it was really a collective effort. In the beginning of the year, it was really special being able to see what Andrew Aplin was able to do and then as we progressed later into the year Preston Tucker was a workhorse for us.

WTH: Who on the Tri-City team made you laugh?

DG: There were a lot of characters on the team but Austin Elkins could get me laughing pretty easily.

WTH: If you couldn't play baseball, what would you do?

DG: If I couldn’t play baseball, I would stay involved in athletics by becoming an athletic trainer or physical therapist.

WTH: Can you tell me one thing about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

DG: I’m a ninja at heart.


To see Dan in action, check out this video starting at about 45 seconds. Thank you for your time, Dan. Good luck in the new season. Namaste.

Happy Birthday - 2/18

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

OF Brian Bogusevic (29)
Drafted in the first round out of Tulane in 2008 as a LHP, Bogusevic converted to the outfield in mid-2008. In 252 games played for the Astros from 2010 to 2012, he hit .227/.310/.346. On August 16, 2011, Bogusevic became the 26th player in MLB history to hit an Ultimate Grand Slam with a pinch-hit walk-off home run, winning the game by one run. Bogusevic signed with the Cubs as a free agent back in November.

SS Rafael Ramirez (55)
Ramirez came to Houston as a free agent in January 1992 and played in 612 games for Houston from 1988 to 1992, hitting .257/.290/.335. He was an All-Star in 1984 for Atlanta.

1B John Mayberry (64)
A first round pick by the Astros in 1967, Mayberry played in 105 games for Houston from 1968 to 1971, hitting .191/.284/.342. Mayberry went on to have a 15-year major league career in which he was an All-Star for Kansas City in 1973 and 1974.

RHP Rocky Childress (51)
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the 21st round in 1980, Childress was purchased by Houston from Philadelphia in November 1986. In 43 appearances for the Astros in 1987 and 1988, he had a 4.02 ERA and a 1.381 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

David Rollins
Sunday fun day Dosent exist.   

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Astros 2013 Top Prospect T-Shirts

Just for grins, I decided to design a T-Shirt for myself through Cafe Press. It is a Word Cloud design featuring the future of the Astros organization. Here is the graphic:

In case anyone is interested, the T-Shirts are available in my Cafe Press store. Don't worry, I won't be hawking T-Shirts endlessly, but just wanted to let people know in case anyone is interested.

Happy Birthday - 2/17

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

LHP Mike Cosgrove (62)
A second round pick by the Astros in 1970, Cosgrove pitched in 119 games (20 starts) from 1972 to 1976  with a 12-11 record, a 4.03 ERA and a 1.515 WHIP.

IF Cody Ransom (37)
Originally drafted by the Giants in the ninth round in 1998, Ransom came to Houston in March 2006 from the Mariners. In 19 games for the Astros in 2007, he hit .229/.413/.371 before leaving via free agency that winter. On September 21, 2008, he recorded the final putout at the old Yankee Stadium. He most recently signed with the Padres as a free agent back in December.

Tweet of the Day

Jake Elmore
You know Spring has started when 8 o'clock rolls around and you are brushing your teeth getting ready for bed.