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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NatStros Palm Beach County Spring Training Site Negotiations

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s empty lot.

Palm Beach County voted Tuesday to continue negotiations and potentially make an unsolicited offer to the city of West Palm Beach for a land swap that could give the Nationals and Astros the needed site for a two-team spring training facility.

boteman Posted: December 16, 2014 at 04:10 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, florida, nationals, spring training

Jed Lowrie signing: Looking back at the Astros trade that sent Lowrie to Oakland

A good analysis of a “win-win” trade. Houston is going to end up with more total value from the Lowrie trade, but the A’s got value concentrated in two years when it helped them reach the playoffs.

SoCalDemon Posted: December 16, 2014 at 02:11 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, athletics, transactions

Monday, December 15, 2014

Astros and Nix, a top draftee whose deal was canceled, reach settlement

The Astros and unsigned pitching draftee Jacob Nix have quietly and confidentially come to a monetary settlement over the team’s decision not to follow through on an agreed-upon $1.5-million deal with Nix that was negotiated but never signed following last June’s first-year player draft.

Nix and the Astros by all accounts had the agreement, but in a very unusual case, the Astros decided they couldn’t sign the deal with Nix after they failed to sign No. 1 overall pick, lefthander Brady Aiken. Since the Astros failed to sign Aiken, they no longer had the slot money to sign Nix—a top righthanded high school pitcher out of the Long Beach, Calif. area. Under MLB’s rules, signing Nix after failing to sign Aiken to Aiken’s under-slot deal would have required the Astros to forfeit future top draft choices, so instead they chose simply to pass on the deal for Nix, a talented fifth-round selection accorded an unusually high bonus designed to get him to pass on a UCLA scholarship.

The financial settlement between the Astros and Nix, the amount of which isn’t known, was agreed to after the players union, on behalf of Nix and agent Casey Close, filed a grievance citing the unfairness of Nix losing his deal over something that allegedly came up in Aiken’s physical. The monetary payout helps the Astros avoid having to forfeit the picks, which was a possibility had an arbitrator ruled against them and ordered them to sogn Nix. It isn’t known whether he preferred to pitch for them, anyway, bu this point.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 15, 2014 at 05:07 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, draft, jacob nix

Jed Lowrie back with Astros on 3-year deal

Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire,
Kinfolk said “Jed move away from there”
Said “That A’s team is filled with playoff hexes”
So he loaded up his truck and moved to Texas.

Houston, that is.

Infielder Jed Lowrie is back with the Astros after agreeing on a three-year deal, the team announced.

The deal, which is worth $23 million guaranteed according to the Chronicle’s Evan Drellich, runs through 2017 and includes a club option for 2018 that could boost the total value to $28 million. To create room on the 40-man roster, the Astros will announce a corresponding move on Tuesday.

Lowrie, 30, was the Astros everyday shortstop in 2012 before spending the last two seasons in Oakland (2013-14).  He can also play third.

In the last three seasons, Lowrie has 35 home runs and 155 RBI while posting a .747 OPS, which ranks sixth among all shortstops.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 15, 2014 at 04:04 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, free agents, jed lowrie

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Astros add Gregerson, Neshek

The Houston Astros have agreed to a three-year, $18.5 million contract with Luke Gregerson and also have agreed to sign reliever Pat Neshek, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney, confirming multiple reports.

Gregerson is expected to take over as the team’s closer in 2015 with Neshek, coming off a career season, helping to fortify the back end of the bullpen.

Gregerson’s total compensation from the Astros can increase to $21 million if he is the team’s closer, a baseball source told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.

His agreement comes after the Astros reportedly made attempts to sign both David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason to take over their closer’s role. Robertson ended up agreeing to a four-year deal with the Chicago White Sox, while Miller reached a four-year contract with the New York Yankees.

Neshek is guaranteed $12.5 million over two years, a baseball source told Crasnick. He’ll make $5.5 million in 2015 and $6.5 million in 2016. The deal has a $500,000 buyout, and includes a third year club option for between $6.5 million and $9 million. The amount of the option will increase depending on the number of games Neshek finishes in his first two seasons.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 11, 2014 at 07:55 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, free agents, luke gregerson, pat neshek, relievers

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Luhnow ‘confident’ Astros will make moves to help team | astros.com

STOP SPREADING RUMORS!!

MLB.com: Castro and center fielder Dexter Fowler have been the subject of trade rumors. What’s the market like for them?
Luhnow: I think it’s primarily Internet rumors, to be honest with you. Clearly, they’re both good players that have one year [Fowler] or two years [Castro] left of control, and those players are always going to be talked about in trade rumors. I’m sure there’s a lot of teams out there that have interest in them, and some have reached out, but we’re not actively looking to deal either of those guys, because they both provide value to us in 2015, and we want to make sure any moves we make are keeping an eye on improving this team in 2015.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 06, 2014 at 07:36 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, winter meetings

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Astros’ coaching staff excited about coming season | astros.com

But can they all calculate WAR in their heads?

Jim Furtado Posted: December 04, 2014 at 02:18 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Monday, December 01, 2014

Exec says David Robertson has $39M offer; could set record for relievers - CBSSports.com

Pay a lot for a closer *and* lose your first round pick. Not an attractive prospect for teams without protected picks.

The Astros, whose interest was first reported by Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, wouldn’t lose a first-round pick by signing a top free agent since their first pick is protected. However, there are believed to believed to be a few suitors, and some surprises. The Blue Jays and White Sox are among teams seeking closers, though it isn’t known if they are involved here.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 01, 2014 at 06:17 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, david robertson, free agents, yankees

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Friday, November 14, 2014

Astros want to sign one of the top free agent closers | HardballTalk

This is a little surprising.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 14, 2014 at 06:37 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Astros’ catchers on the market, Castro included - Ultimate Astros

“I think if you look at it, the chances of us carrying all three of those guys on the 25-man roster, something else would have to give. So I think there’s at least a 50-50 chance that some way or another, we’ll have gotten that three down to two.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 13, 2014 at 09:33 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Offseason already seeing Astros talk about a win-now approach - Ultimate Astros

“Obviously, we’re going to give Jonathan every chance to make this club,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to give Matt every chance to make this club. But we’re not going to hand them those positions. They’re going to have to earn those positions. Because we’re at the point now where the development at the big leagues is behind us, and this is about producing. And if they don’t produce, still both those guys have options. Both of them could end up back in (Class AAA) Fresno.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 12, 2014 at 06:47 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Los Angeles Angels pick up Nick Tropeano, Carlos Perez for Hank Conger | MiLB.com

What does this mean for Jason Castro?

The Angels sent catcher Hank Conger to Houston for a pair of 24-year-old prospects in right-hander Nick Tropeano and catcher Carlos Perez, the teams announced Wednesday.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 05, 2014 at 07:45 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, astros

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Saturday, October 25, 2014

At the heart of A.J. Hinch, a baseball player’s drive - Houston Chronicle

Who is the Astros new manager?

Jim Furtado Posted: October 25, 2014 at 04:37 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: a.j. hinch, astros

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Friday, October 10, 2014

Evaluating the Prospects: Houston Astros | FanGraphs Baseball

Fangraphs has begun their prospect reports.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 10, 2014 at 11:16 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, prospects

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Roger Clemens: Time for Astros to start winning

harrrumpphh! (BBC, drop me a line please)

Roger Clemens said it’s time for the Astros to start winning.

“They’re not kids anymore and the learning process is over, it’s time to win,” the former Astros pitcher and current special assistant said at the team’s charity golf event on Monday. “I was in the World Series at 23, 24 years old. I had maybe a Cy Young or two under my belt. It’s time to take the kid gloves off. It’s time for these guys to win. They should beat Pittsburgh or Kansas City, we have that much talent.”

Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: October 08, 2014 at 08:11 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, in my day, roger clemens

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mets outfielder Bobby Abreu, former All-Star and Gold Glove winner, retires

I wonder what Kevin Stocker is doing now?

Bobby Abreu’s illustrious 18 year career is coming to an end. The Mets outfielder announced today that he will retire.

Over the course of his career, Abreu was one of the best hitters in baseball. He’s hit .291 in his career with a .395 on-base percentage. This season, only Victor Martinez, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Bautista have posted an OBP higher than that.

Abreu signed with the Mets in April and has had two stints with them this season—his last stop in a career that began in Houston, then seven years in Philadelphia, then the Yankees, then the Dodgers and Angels.

Abreu was an All-Star in 2004 and 2005, and won a Gold Glove in 2005 as well.

He told reporters he would eventually like to become a hitting coach.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 26, 2014 at 04:54 PM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, astros, bobby abreu, dodgers, mets, phillies, rays, yankees

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

VIDEO: Jose Altuve leaves his feet to hit a high fastball

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve came into Monday leading all of baseball with 220 hits. No one else had more than 193, so he’s way ahead of the pack.

Altuve is also 5-foot-6, so sometimes getting to a high pitch can be a challenge. On Monday night, he literally left his feet trying to reach a high fastball.

Weird.  I assume this was part of a hit and run attempt, but since this was an Astros-Rangers game surely no one was watching so I guess we’ll never know for sure.

This is also reason #365 why being a catcher sucks.

Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 23, 2014 at 05:26 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, jose altuve

Monday, September 01, 2014

Nitkowski: Wanted: Major League manager…sort of.

Right after Bo Porter was hired [as Astros manager] I was told he was the only candidate who answered “yes”€™ to the question, “€œare you OK with influence from the front office in every day decisions like setting the lineup?”€ There was a reason he was the only one who said yes, no one wants to manage a major league team where they are told what to do by someone who has never played the game or even done the job.

There is balance here. Influences from front offices are part of the new equation in baseball and the game is smarter because of it. Clint Hurdle told me the Pirates utilize a sort of hybrid theory and it is working well in Pittsburgh. He is open to advanced metrics, he listens, he gets it and he and the front office work well together to implement the new school of thought.

There is one essential caveat though, he makes the final in game decisions, including lineups and he is never second guessed on those decisions…

The Astros need two managers. One right now who is not competitive and will do whatever the front office tells him while they’€™re still losing. Then they’€™ll need one when they get good who is ultra competitive and has the track record to tell the front office to back off. Of course that guy will go through the interview process and immediately withdraw his name.

Something has to change or this will be the beginning of a cycle that never ends in Houston.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 03:10 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, clint hurdle, managers, pirates

Astros Fire Bo Porter

The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release.  Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties.  Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 12:19 PM | 62 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, dave trembley, managers, tom lawless

Extreme Moneyball: The Houston Astros Go All In on Data Analysis

“The problem we’re trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game. And now we’ve been gutted. We’re like organ donors for the rich. Boston’s taken our kidneys, Yankees have taken our heart. And you guys just sit around talking the same old “good body” nonsense like we’re selling jeans. Like we’re looking for Fabio. We’ve got to think differently. We are the last dog at the bowl. You see what happens to the runt of the litter? He dies.”

Luhnow’s appreciation of the predictive power of data grew out of his experience selling designer jeans. In the early 2000s, with a former president of Levi Strauss, he co-founded an online custom apparel company that made jeans for Lands’ End (LE) shoppers. “You’re taking self-reported inputs from a human being,” he says, “and then trying to figure out exactly what pair of pants to make them. Are they being honest with themselves? Is there vanity sizing involved? How do they perceive themselves relative to how they actually are?”

H/T to Jose Molina wants a nickname like “A-Rod”

Jim Furtado Posted: September 01, 2014 at 12:40 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, moneyball

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sullivan: Why Mike Trout—and the rest of the league—is having trouble with the high stuff

Pitchers, by and large, are working lower. The called strike zone has followed them... Hitters are… swinging at more pitches in the lower third… Contact rates on pitches up have declined. Contact rates on pitches down have very slightly improved… here’s what this has led to: in 2008, hitters slugged 30 points better against high strikes than they did against low strikes. The next season, they slugged 51 points better. Fast-forward now to 2014, and you’ll observe that now hitters are slugging 10 points worse against those same high strikes…

Yet, pitchers continue to work down. It’s how they’ve long been instructed, and it’s where offspeed pitches are usually supposed to go… From a recent Business Week Astros profile:

advanced data yielded a useful insight: Major league hitters had become so adept at hitting low pitches that they were vulnerable to high ones. [Billy] Beane had discovered a particularly clever countermove. “€œBeane stayed ahead of the curve,”€ says [Astros pitching coach Brent] Strom, “€œby finding hitters with a steep upward swing path to counter the sinking action of pitchers trying to induce ground balls.”

Billy Beane put together a baseball team constructed to fight those low pitches… The Astros had Collin McHugh start to throw more elevated four-seam fastballs… McHugh is having an outstanding season out of nowhere…

So this is how we proceed in the league’s hunt for equilibrium. For years, pitchers worked to throw down more and more often… The league has started to respond… [and] now the league will eventually respond to the response, re-establishing the upper parts of the zone. McHugh is one example… And then, in time, there [will] just be a response to the response to the response. Look closely enough and there’s no such thing as equilibrium at all.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Robothal: Tension growing between Astros’ manager, GM

A great way to clarify your organizational chain of command: Give Nolan Ryan some vague “executive” job. History proves it!

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Bo Porter are at odds, according to multiple major-league sources.

Porter expressed his frustration with Luhnow to owner Jim Crane in a conversation earlier this month, sources said…

Porter’s frustration stems from a lack of input and from his belief that Luhnow engages in excessive second-guessing of his in-game management, sources said… Those critical of Luhnow say that he keeps a small circle, communicating mostly with director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and others while rarely consulting the team’s on-field staff, executive advisor Nolan Ryan and special assistant to the GM Craig Biggio…

Crane could attempt to broker a peace between Luhnow and Porter, and Ryan’s son—Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan—also could play a role in such discussions, sources said…

An unannounced visit by [2013 #1 overall pick Mark] Appel to Houston prior to his promotion contributed to the friction between Luhnow and Porter, sources said; Luhnow initially did not make Porter aware that Appel would throw a bullpen session for pitching coach Brent Strom. Porter then had to explain the situation to his players, a number of whom were seething, believing that Appel did not warrant his promotion and was receiving special treatment… Rival executives say it is not unusual for a team to summon a prospect for a session with a major-league coach. Porter, though, grew upset because Luhnow did not inform him in advance that Appel would work with Strom.

The disagreement over Appel was just one flashpoint between Porter and Luhnow, sources said. The question now is whether their relationship can be salvaged – and whether Crane will want to replace one or both.

Crane might resist any change, not wanting to admit that he made a mistake with either hiring. But it’s difficult to imagine the Astros starting the 2015 season with the same management team.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:20 PM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, jeff luhnow, mark appel

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