Saturday, October 12, 2013

Astros Fall and Winter League Results

Friday's Games

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Peoria over Salt River 5-3

Peoria Javelinas
DH Jonathan Meyer - 1x3 HR 2RBI BB SO R
CF Delino DeShields - 2x4 RBI SB(2)
PR-DH Nolan Fontana - Pinch runner for Jonathan Meyer in the 9th; scored a run

RHP Jonas Dufek - 1IP 1H 0BB 3SO

Today - Off Day

WINTER LEAGUES

No other Astros minor leaguers played in yesterday's games except for the Liga Paralela. Unfortunately, the site I used last year for results for the Liga Paralela has not been updated since last year. I will try to track down those results at some point.

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Happy Birthday - 10/12

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Jandel Gustave (21)
A non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Gustave spent his 2013 season with the Greeneville Astros. In 10 starts, he was 2-3 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.397 WHIP. I have long been intrigued by Gustave since his 2011 season resulted in a 12.10 ERA, a 3.000 WHIP, 21 wild pitches and five hit batters in only 19+ innings. This year he had four hit batters and only two wild pitches in 43+ innings.

C Brett Booth (23)
Drafted in the 34th round in 2013 out of the University of Alabama, Booth split his first professional season between the Gulf Coast League and Tri-City. In 42 games, he hit .269/.379/.351 and had a caught stealing percentage of 44%.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

LHP Sid "El Sid" Fernandez (51)
The Hawaiian-born pitcher was the third round pick of the Dodgers in 1981. He was best known, however, for the ten years he spent pitching for the Mets from 1984 to 1993. He was an All-Star for New York in 1986 and 1987. He went on to play for Baltimore and Philadelphia, before pitching in one game for the Astros in 1997. His one start for Houston, a win, proved to be his last major league appearance.

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Interview with Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Spadavecchia

I interviewed Lancaster JetHawks Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Spadavecchia earlier in the season on one of my trips out West. I wanted to know what exactly a S&C Coach does. Everyone has seen the coach carefully watching pre-game stretches and warm-ups, but there is a whole lot more to the job that the casual fan doesn't see.

2013 was Spadavecchia's first season with the JetHawks. He has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Sciences from Marquette and, after interning with the Milwaukee Brewers major league organization, he went to Florida State where he earned his Masters in Sports Science.

When I asked Mark about his role on the team, he enumerated some of his duties, "My job basically is to work them [the players] out in the weight room with sports specific exercises to maximize their on-field performance and to prevent injury, keep them muscularly balanced and [help them to] play at the highest level that they can, and keep them fresh for the entire season so when it comes to the late months, they're still feeling strong. I back off a little bit at the end.

"We hit the major list. The legs ... we do a lot of exercises, squats and lunges, exercises like that. Then we try to do two back exercises to every one chest exercise to keep them loose in the upper body, keep their back strong for throwing the ball so they don't pull anything. Also help out with the different exercises they do before they throw to keep those small muscles in the shoulder healthy, especially for the pitchers."

I had seen Spadavecchia working in the weight room with Brandon Meredith on a very specific protocol in response to a minor injury that Meredith had suffered so I asked Spadavecchia about his responsibilities in dealing with injuries. He told me, "I'll work with the Athletic Trainer, Grant [Hufford], and we'll work together to see what they injured and then progress them slowly to get them back to playing. We'll look at what caused the injury and what muscles we can strengthen and progressively involve so that it doesn't happen again."

Spadavecchia spoke of his other duties, "I lead the stretches. I take times to first during the game and take a record of those. [I] try to keep track of their nutrition habits and give them guidance." I asked him how difficult it is for the players to eat properly with the crazy day-to-day schedule, "It's tough, especially on the road, because a lot of times you've just got to roll with it. You can't always get the best food that you want, but [I try to help them] make the best decisions possible."

>>>>><<<<<

Thank you for your time, Mark. It's always fun to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes!

Astros Fall and Winter League Results

Thursday's Games

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Peoria over Scottsdale 6-3

Peoria Javelinas
CF Delino DeShields - 2x3 RBI BB 2R SB(2)
SS Nolan Fontana - 2x3 2-2B RBI BB SO R
1B Japhet Amador - 0x4 SO E

The game story focuses on DeShields and Fontana and is worth a read.

Today's Game - Peoria at Salt River at 2:35 CST

LIGA VENEZUELA BEISBOL PROFESIONAL

Caracas over Margarita 8-1

Leones del Caracas
C Carlos Perez - 2x4 RBI (Caught two base runners stealing)

Caribes over La Guaira 12-11

Tiburones de La Guaira
LHP Sergio Escalona (BS,1) (L, 0-1) - 0.0IP 1H 1R 0BB 0SO HR

Aragua over Magallanes 6-5

Tigres de Aragua
2B Jose Martinez - 0x4 E

Navagantes del Magallanes
RHP Carlos Quevedo - 0.1IP 3H 2R 0BB 0SO

I was not able to find results from the Liga Paralela posted yet.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACIFICO - STARTS TODAY

Happy Birthday - 10/11

Happy Birthday to ~

SS Wander Franco (17)
Franco was signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic this past July.

Former Astros celebrating birthdays today ~

C Bob "Scrap Iron" Stinson (68)
A first round pick by the Dodgers in 1966, Stinson came to Houston in a trade with the Cardinals in November 1971. In 27 games during the 1972 season, he hit .171/.211/.200.

RHP Gregg Olson (47)
Originally drafted by Baltimore in the first round in 1988, Olson was Rookie of the Year for Baltimore in 1989 and an All-Star in 1990 before coming to Houston in an August 1996 trade with Detroit. Olson pitched in only nine games for the Astros in 1996 with a 4.82 ERA and a 2.036 WHIP.

IF Ty Wigginton (36)
A 17th round pick by the Mets in 1998, Wigginton came to Houston from Tampa Bay in a trade for Dan Wheeler and played primarily at third base. His lifetime line over 12 seasons is .261/.323/.435.  In Houston, he hit .285/.347/.506.  In addition to Houston and Tampa Bay, he has also played for the Mets, Pirates, Orioles (2010 All-Star), Rockies, Phillies and most recently the Cardinals. He was released by the Cardinals in July.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Astros on Fall and Winter League Rosters

Rosters for the Caribbean Winter Leagues are slow to come out, but I will keep this list updated and link it on the front page as I learn more. This is what I know as of right now. Please note that occasionally a player's name will appear on a roster, but he will end up either not playing or only playing later in the season.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE - PLAY STARTED 10/8

Peoria Javelinas
RHP Jonas Dufek
RHP Matt Heidenreich
RHP Andrew Robinson
LHP Alex Sogard
1B Japhet Amador  - Currently playing in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico
SS Nolan Fontana
3B Jonathan Meyer
*OF Delino DeShields

*DeShields is being converted from 2B to OF.

CARIBBEAN AND AUSTRALIAN WINTER LEAGUES

LIGA VENEZUELA BEISBOL PROFESIONAL - PLAY STARTED 10/10

Aguilas de Zulia
SS Marwin Gonzalez

Leones del Caracas
C Carlos Perez
LF J.D. Martinez
RF Eric Thames

Navagantes del Magallanes
RHP David Martinez - Not on official opening day roster released 10/10
RHP Carlos Quevedo - Currently playing in the Liga Paralela
2B Jose Altuve - Not on official opening day roster released 10/10

Bravos de Margarita
LHP Eric Berger

Tigres de Aragua
2B Jose Martinez - Signed with the A's as a free agent

Tiburones de La Guaira
LHP Sergio Escalona

LIGA PARALELA (VENEZUELAN MINOR LEAGUE) - PLAY STARTED 10/10

Tiburones
*RHP Joe Musgrove
RHP Jamaine Cotton
*OF Marc Wik
*RHP Michael Dimock
*LHP Blair Walters
*3B Ryan Dineen
C Marlon Avea
*C Ricky Gingras
1B Pedro Coa
SS Alex Gonzalez
*OF Brett Phillips
LHP Junior Garcia
RHP Gerardo Juarez
RHP Joselo Pinales

*No longer in Venezuela

Zulia
IF Arturo Michelena

Bravos
IF Carlos Perdomo

Caracas
RHP Luis Ordosgoitti

Navagantes
RHP Enderson Franco

Caribes
LHP Edwin Villarroel

Magallanes
C/1B Luis Alvarez
C Ernesto Genoves

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACIFICO - PLAY STARTED 10/11

Tomateros del Culiacan
RHP Gonzalo Sanudo

Algodoneros de Guasave
OF Leo Heras
1B Japhet Amador

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
RHP Edgar Gonzalez

LIGA DE BEISBOL DOMINICANO - PLAY STARTED 10/18

Toros del Este
C Cristian Moronta - Released by the Astros
SS Jose Fernandez
LHP Raul Valdes
OF Teoscar Hernandez

Tigres del Licey
OF Domingo Santana
OF Ruben Sosa

Aguilas Cibaenas
SS Jonathan Villar

Gigantes del Cibao
OF Jimmy Paredes - Claimed off waivers by the Marlins
LHP Rudy Owens
RHP Jose Cisnero
RHP Rhiner Cruz

Leones del Escogido
RHP Jorge de Leon

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE - PLAY STARTED 10/31

Adelaide Bite
IF Joe Sclafani

Perth Heat
RHP Cameron Lamb - listed as a reserve
C Jake Bowey

Brisbane Bandits
IF/OF Connor MacDonald
C Hayden Timberlake - listed as a reserve

(h/t to Dustin for pointing out Bowey and Timberlake)

LIGA DE BEISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE (PUERTO RICO) - PLAY STARTED 11/1

Criollos de Caguas
LHP Luis Cruz
C Roberto Pena

Indios de Mayaguez
OF George Springer is listed as a reserve

Cangrejeros de Santurce
RHP Juan Santos
1B Jon Singleton
OF Austin Wates
OF Adron Chambers

Gigantes de Carolina
RHP Raul Rivera
C Rene Garcia
C Jobduan Morales
2B Kike Hernandez
C Carlos Corporan

Astros Fall and Winter League Results

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Wednesday's Game

Surprise over Peoria 9-5

CF Delino DeShields - 1x4 2B RBI 2SO CS
3B Jonathan Meyer - 1x3 2B RBI BB SO 2R E

RHP Matt Heidenreich - 3IP 0H 0R 2BB 2SO
LHP Alex Sogard (BS, 1) - 1.2IP 4H 3R/1ER 1BB 0SO
RHP Andrew Robinson - 1.2IP 2H 1R 0BB 1SO HR

Thursday's Game

Scottsdale at Peoria - 2:35 CST

LIGA VENEZUELA BEISBOL PROFESIONAL

Games start today. Rosters are still coming out.

Happy Birthday 10/10

Happy Birthday to ~

OF Ydarqui Marte (21)
A non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Marte first played for the DSL Astros in 2010. He has spent the three seasons with the GCL Astros, this year hitting .247/.317/.349 in 49 games. He also played in four games at Tri-City this season.

Former Astros with birthdays today:

RHP Brian Powell (died 10/5/09 at age 35)
A second round pick by Detroit in 1995, Powell came to Houston in a December 1999 trade. In ten games (six starts) for the Astros in 2000 and 2001, he was 2-2 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.602 WHIP.

SS Roger Metzger (66)
A first round pick by the Cubs in 1969, Metzger came to Houston in an October 1970 trade. In eight seasons for the Astros (from 1971 to 1978) he hit .229/.291/.293 and led the league in triples in 1971 and 1973. He also led the league in fielding percentage for a shortstop in 1973 and 1976 and won a Gold Glove in the first of those two years.

IF Rob Sperring (64)
Originally drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round in 1971, Sperring came to Houston in a March 1977 trade with the Giants. In 58 games played with the Astros that season, he hit .186/.254/.233.

OF Fernando Martinez (25)
Signed by the Mets out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, Houston obtained Martinez off waivers from New York in January 2012. He played in 52 games for Houston over two seasons, hitting .225/.285/.424 with seven doubles, one triple and seven home runs. He was traded to the Yankees in June for RHP Charles Basford.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall and Winter League Updates

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Tuesday's Game

Surprise over Peoria 7-6

SS Nolan Fontana - 0x4 BB R SO
1B Japhet Amador - 1x4 RBI SO R
PR Delino DeShields - SB

RHP Jonas Dufek - 1IP 0H 0R 0BB 1SO

Wednesday's Game

Surprise at Peoria - 2:35 CST

LIGA VENEZUELA BEISBOL PROFESIONAL

There are still no rosters posted for the league with games starting on Thursday.

Happy Birthday - 10/9

No future Astros, but a few former Astros celebrate birthdays today ~

1B/OF Joe Pepitone (73)
After eight seasons with the Yankees in which Pepitone was a three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner, he came to Houston in a December 1969 trade. He only played in 75 games for Houston in 1970 before being picked up by the Cubs. During his time in Houston, he hit .252/.298/.470 with nine doubles, five triples and 14 home runs.

2B/SS Alex Taveras (58)
Originally signed by Houston in 1974 out of the Dominican Republic, Taveras played in only 14 games at the major league level for the Astros in 1977, hitting .217/.250/.217.

LHP Mark McLemore (33)
A fourth round pick by Houston in 2002, McLemore pitched in 29 games for the Astros in 2007 with a 3-0 record, a 3.86 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. He last pitched in the Marlins organization in 2011 at the minor league level.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Play Ball!

You only thought the minor league baseball season was over! The Arizona Fall League and the Caribbean Winter Leagues are ramping up for action with the AFL set to begin play today.

As a reminder, eight Astros minor leaguers will be participating in the AFL on the Peoria Javelinas team:

RHP Jonas Dufek
RHP Matt Heidenreich
RHP Andrew Robinson
LHP Alex Sogard
1B Japhet Amador
SS Nolan Fontana
3B Jonathan Meyer
OF Delino DeShields (converting from 2B)

The first game will be this afternoon with Peoria taking on Surprise at 2:35 CST. Updates on the game should be available here.

The Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional will start play on Thursday and the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico starts play on Friday. There are no rosters posted yet for Venezuela. When there are, I will update my ongoing fall/winter roster list and post a permanent link on the front page of the blog. The only Astros player that I've seen on a roster from Mexico at this point is RHP Gonzalo Sanudo who will be playing for the Tomateros de Culiacan.

Check back daily for results and stats from Astros players participating in the fall or winter leagues.

Happy Birthday - 10/8

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

3B/1B Enos Cabell (64)
Originally signed by Baltimore in 1968, Cabell came to Houston in a December 1974 trade with the Orioles and played for the Astros from 1975 through 1980 and again in 1984 and 1985. In eight seasons for the Astros, he hit .281/.313/.381. In 1978, he played in all 162 games, hitting .295 for the season. He is currently a Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Astros.

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The adventure of playing winter ball in Venezuela continues ...


Monday, October 7, 2013

Astros Season Predictions - A Few Hits and and Few Misses

Prior to the season, I went out on a limb and made a lot of predictions. Some were hit out of the ballpark and some were as bad as Chris Carter's 212th strikeout of the season. But at least I had the guts (or the stupidity) to put my name on them. Here's how I did.

OKLAHOMA CITY

Prediction: "Last season, the RedHawks ended the year with a 78-65 record in 143 games or a .545 win percentage. I think that the 2013 team will win fewer games with their bats, but the pitching depth will more than make up for that so I predict the team will improve on that record. Let's say somewhere between 82-62 and 85-59 and playoff bound."

Actual: On the money! The RedHawks ended their season with an 82-62 record and made it to the playoffs. The pitching staff did step it up, improving their team ERA from 4.89 to 4.48 and the team WHIP from 1.508 to 1.395. And the hitters did regress somewhat from the prior year, hitting .271/.347/.403 as opposed to their 2012 counterparts who hit .282/.349/.434.

What went wrong? Pitching-wise, let's just say that the names RHP John Ely, LHP Rudy Owens, LHP Wes Musick, RHP C.J. Fick and RHP Jose Valdez all received mentions and were mostly non-factors, as was RHP Jose Cisnero who spent the better part of the season in Houston. Ditto for OF Jake Goebbert from the offensive side. Goebbert was traded to the A's two days after I wrote my season preview.

What went right? RHP Jarred Cosart and LHP Brett Oberholtzer, in particular, did what I thought they would, as did RHP Josh Zeid and LHP Kevin Chapman out of the 'pen. (Coincidentally, I was unsure what would become of RHP Paul Clemens, whether he would be better suited to be a starter or a reliever. That is something about which I am still unclear.) OF Marc Krauss and IF Jose Martinez made the necessary adjustments to the AAA level and OF Robbie Grossman and SS Jonathan Villar did very well in their first season at the level.

Other Factors: Because of the pitching injuries, many additional pitchers who were not on the opening day roster stepped up and contributed, including RHP Asher Wojciechowski, RHP Jake Buchanan and RHP David Martinez among others.

Go here to see my full preview of the RedHawks season.

CORPUS CHRISTI

Prediction: "This one is really, really difficult for me to predict. There are so many variables, but here goes nothing. I think this team will struggle in the first half, similar to last season, but catch on fire in the second half, also similar to last season. I think they will make it to the playoffs, but with fewer wins than last season. In 2012, they were 81-59. In 2013, I predict 78-62."

Actual: Boy, was I ever wrong on this one! The Hooks ended up 83-57 with the best record in the Astros system. They did make it to the playoffs, but fell short in the first round. I thought that the pitching staff would perform worse than the 2012 team who had a 4.06 ERA and a 1.332 WHIP. In reality, the 2013 Hooks had a collective 3.84 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP. I thought the team batting average would be better, but they actually fell from .268 to .255.

What went wrong? RHP Nick Tropeano had modest success for the season, but did not perform as I had anticipated and RHP Matt Heidenreich struggled through injuries and ineffectivness (he will try to re-group in the Arizona Fall League). Offensively, SS Jio Mier had a larger regression from High A Lancaster than I anticipated; IF Kike Hernandez didn't master the AA level; and OF Michael Burgess didn't live up to billing.

What went right? Pitching, pitching, pitching. RHP Asher Wojciechowski, RHP David Martinez and RHP Jake Buchanan simply dominated at the level. C Rene Garcia was one of the best hitters on the team, leading to his promotion to AAA after 73 games. 3B Jonathan Meyer surprised me somewhat with his solid hitting. And OF George Springer was Superman.

Other Factors: C Max Stassi was a huge catalyst on the offensive side once he came off the DL and joined the team. RHP Mike Foltynewicz was a steady contributor after his promotion from Lancaster in May.

Go here to see my full preview of the Hooks season.

LANCASTER

Prediction: "Now for prediction time! Last season's team ERA was 5.00 and the WHIP was 1.458. The 2013 team will beat both of those numbers easily. Last season's team batting line was .283/.353/.448. The 2013 team will have a slightly higher batting average, a modestly higher on-base percentage and a significantly higher slugging percentage. Last year's record was 74-66. This year, I'm calling for a somewhat slow April before things start to take off culminating in a final record of 85-55 and a second California League Championship. I'm not going to be timid in this prediction because even if key players are promoted during the season, there are a ton more talented players waiting in the wings. This is the first time in a very long time that one can say that about the Astros farm system."

Actual: The JetHawks ended up with an 82-58 record and fell in the first round of the playoffs so my hyperbole fell a bit short. The team ERA (5.09) was higher than predicted, but the WHIP (1.447) was slightly lower than last season. I underestimated how The Hangar can hurt more than just a pitcher's feelings with its rather rude tendencies. The team batting line of .289/.384/.469 showed modest gains in all areas.

What went wrong? For one thing, I really expected RHP Alex Gillingham to flourish on this pitching staff as an extreme groundball pitcher in a flyball-friendly park. Instead, he ended up on the DL (Weiland Island?) after pitching only eight innings. I was also concerned about how RHP Chris Devenski's flyball tendencies would translate at The Hangar. They didn't translate well and Devenski ended up back at Quad Cities to end the season. Offensively, not much went wrong other than losing the bats of OF Preston Tucker and 3B Matt Duffy to promotion.

What went right? Several pitchers put up very good seasons. RHP Mike Foltynewicz and RHP Carlos Quevedo didn't last long at The Caster before their promotion to Corpus Christi. LHP Luis Cruz, LHP David Rollins and RHP Jonas Dufek all had very good seasons with the RedHawks before their promotions. As closer, RHP Travis Ballew was dominant for much of the season. RHP Brady Rodgers and RHP Aaron West had solid albeit unspectacular seasons and LHP Tommy Shirley emerged as a promising arm to watch. The offense (and defense) was excellent from the top of the order to the bottom. I had called for 2B Delino DeShields and OF Andrew Aplin to end their seasons in Corpus, but it was Duffy and Tucker instead. Any number of offensive players, including Aplin, DeShields, OF Brandon Meredith, C Tyler Heineman, C/DH/1B M.P. Cokinos, IF Joe Sclafani, OF Chris Epps and SS Nolan Fontana could easily have been promoted.

Other Factors: Commuters. The long, hot, frequent commutes late in the season seemed to take their toll on the team later in the season resulting in streaky play at times.

Go here to see my full preview of the JetHawks season.

QUAD CITIES

Prediction: "Ah, the prediction. So much depends upon how hardy the pitching staff proves to be over the long run. At the risk of sounding like a Debbie Downer, I'm going to predict that this team will go 72-68 and will fall just shy of getting to the playoffs. If, however, everything goes right, no one gets injured, no one gets overly fatigued, I'll predict 78-62, playoff bound as a wild card and winning the whole dang thing." 

Actual: I wasn't too far off on this one at all. When you look at my best case scenario, I was only off by three wins and was dead on in my prediction that they would win the championship as a wild card. Yay me! My biggest concern coming in to the season was the lack of experience in playing a full season's worth of games. The tandem rotation really helped with that aspect in Quad Cities, keeping the pitchers from fatiguing too badly at the end of the season. 

What went wrong? The offense was a bit lackluster at times as several players struggled to adapt to the league. Injuries to LHP Joe Bircher and LHP Brian Holmes kept them out of the rotation for a large chunk of the season.

What went right? SS Carlos Correa showed why he was a number one overall draft pick with a stellar season both offensively and defensively. 3B Rio Ruiz started slowly, but became a true impact player by the end of the season and into the playoffs. Despite striking out too much, OF Teoscar Hernandez showed that he really has the potential of being a 5-tool player. The pitching overall was tremendous with RHP Lance McCullers and RHP Vincent Velasquez anchoring the rotation. RHP Mike Hauschild made a successful transition to starter while RHP Jordan Jankowski seemed to fare better back in the 'pen and both earned late season promotions to Lancaster, along with Velasquez.

Other Factors: The addition of LHP Josh Hader and OF Danry Vasquez, acquired via trade in late July, provided a late season spark that helped shore up the team leading in to the playoffs.

Go here to see my full preview of the River Bandits season.

OTHER PREDICTIONS

I made a number of other predictions along the way (some were extremely tongue in cheek, but some were serious) and I was all over the map on them. Here are some of the best guesses, some of the worst and some in-between ones as well.

Correct Predictions
  • I predict that I will spend the entire season trying to remember the name of any members of the A's roster other than Nate Freiman and Erik Sogard (our Alex's brother). Check
  • I predict that I will at some point during the season have to be restrained by friends from getting into a physical altercation with another team's fans, in order of likelihood Red Sox, Rangers and Yankees (just kidding, kind of). Check
  • I predict that the CSN Houston deal will not get done this season, resulting in an explosion of subscriptions to MLB.tv and proxy server services. Check
  • I predict that both @AstrosCounty and @HouCounterplot will be heavily medicated or institutionalized by the end of the season in response to the stupid things that national sports writers have to say about the Astros. Check
  • I predict that a minimum of four minor league teams will make the play-offs and that a minimum of two will bring home championships. On the money
  • I predict that the fans who are loyal to the Astros will be rewarded, much as we were rewarded in yesterday's exhibition game, by more and more glimpses of the future. Seeing Mike Foltynewicz absolutely dealing, Domingo Santana crushing the ball, Delino DeShields motoring around the bases, George Springer making dazzling plays in the outfield, Jon Singleton showing great plate discipline and drawing walks, and Carlos Correa scalding line drives through the holes -- seeing more and more of all that as this year progresses and into next year will certainly be my reward. Check - See Cosart, Oberholtzer, Matt Dominguez, etc.
  • And, finally, I predict that, after the season is said and done, The Integrity of the Game™ will not have been damaged by anything that the Astros have done or not done, and Houston will be one year closer to being a perennial winner. Check
Note that I also predicted in an interview with another blog that Matt Dominguez would be a breakout impact player for the team this year. You can agree or disagree with that, but I think I was correct.

Partially Correct Predictions
  • I predict that Bud (don't call me Chuck) Norris will not be traded this season and that he will transfer his Cardinal killer ways to the Angels. A trade in the off-season? That's another thing. Wrong about the trade, but very right about the Angels. 3-0 with an 0.32 ERA and a 0.964 WHIP in four starts.
  • I predict that Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, George Springer, Domingo Santana and Jose Martinez will all make their major league debuts, most as September call-ups. I predict that Jonathan Villar will not make the cut until next year. Two right, four wrong ... yikes!
  • I predict that Nick Tropeano will be in Oklahoma City before the end of the year and Mike Foltynewicz will be in Corpus by June. One right, one wrong.
Totally Wrong Predictions
  • I predict that Jimmy Paredes will be traded. Nope
  • I predict that attendance will continue to plummet, culminating in the Twins game on Tuesday, September 3rd, on which date the players, staff and vendors will outnumber the paying customers. Not quite. This was the 10th lowest attendance at 13,500. The lowest? April 24th against Seattle was only 11,686.
  • I predict that we will see Jonathan Singleton in Houston permanently by the trade deadline as Carlos Pena exits stage left. Yeah, that didn't happen.
  • I predict that Jordan Lyles will be back when Phil Humber is either traded or released. I predict the same for Dallas Keuchel as it pertains to Erik Bedard. Nope and nope.
  • I predict that the Astros will surprise a lot of people, including Astros fans with their aggressiveness and hard-nosed style of play. I don't believe that they will lose 100 again this year or be in last place in the standings, but that's as far as I'm willing to go. Sigh ... not even close.
Not Correct ... Yet
  • I predict that Nolan Ryan will be forced out of the Rangers organization as anything but a figurehead and his response will be to throw out the first pitch to Jon Daniels and then get him in a headlock.
  • I predict that Bo Porter will stare down Peter Gammons, causing Gammons to spontaneously combust.
And now I will make a final prediction. Next season, I won't make as many predictions.

Happy Birthday - 10/7

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Mike Foltynewicz (22)
Drafted in the first round in 2010 out of high school in Illinois, Foltynewicz started his season at Lancaster where he was 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.731 WHIP in seven games (five starts) before his promotion to Corpus Christi. Folty was 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.229 WHIP in 23 games (16 starts) for the Hooks.

Happy Birthday wishes also go to Jason Schwartz, Lancaster JetHawks broadcaster and friend of WTHB.

Former Astros with birthdays today:

LHP Floyd Bluford "Butch" Henry (45)
If my name was Floyd Bluford, I'd go by Butch too! Originally drafted by the Reds in the 15th round in 1987, Henry came to Houston in September 1990 as a part of the Bill Doran trade with the Reds. Two years later, he was drafted from Houston by the Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft. In 28 starts in 1992, he went 6-9 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP.

Manager Grady Hatton (died April 11, 2013 at age 90)
Hatton managed the Astros in 1966, 1967 and part of 1968, with a record of 164-221.


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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy Birthday - 10/6

Former Astros with birthdays today:

C Jerry Grote (71)
Grote played for the Colt 45's in 1963 and 1964, hitting .182/.241/.261 in 103 games, before going on to have a long career with the Mets, Dodgers and Royals.  In 1421 games over 16 seasons, Grote had a .252 lifetime batting average and a career .991 fielding percentage and was a two-time All-Star for the Mets.

LHP Darren Oliver (43)
Oliver pitched in 9 games for Houston in 2004, going 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.143 WHIP.  The well-traveled Oliver has played for Texas, St. Louis, Boston, Colorado, Florida, the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Angels and now Toronto. He has pitched in 13 post-season series over seven different seasons, but has yet to earn a World Series ring.

Tweet of the Day

A new twitter account following the adventures of some of our Astros minor leaguers as they experience life in the Liga Paralela in Venezuela.