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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gattis to miss 4-6 weeks after hernia surgery | MLB.com

I wonder whether this injury will impact the Astros plan to get him back behind the plate for some games this season.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis told MLB.com on Tuesday that he will miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia.

Gattis said via text message that he is optimistic he will be ready for the start of the regular season or shortly thereafter, and he hopes to start getting some at-bats in mid- to late March. Astros position players are scheduled to work out for the first time on Feb. 23.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 10, 2016 at 08:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, evan gattis

Friday, January 29, 2016

Fangraphs: Astros Take Fister Chance

The setting should be comfortable. Not that anyone particularly enjoys pitching in Houston, because cheap home runs are going to happen, but the Astros aren’t afraid of softer-throwing pitchers. Last year their pitching staff had the lowest average fastball velocity in the American League, and the only hard-throwing projected starter this coming year is Lance McCullers. Maybe this is part preference and part driven by budget concerns, but the Astros are willing to work with someone who throws in the 80s.

GrumpyFan Posted: January 29, 2016 at 10:50 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Monday, January 25, 2016

Deadspin: U.S. Attorney Suggests Password Cardinals Used To Access Astros Scouting Database Was “Eckstein123”

Here’s what U.S. Attorney Michael Chu said (from the transcript of Correa’s re-arraignment):

MR. CHU: It was based on the name of a player who was scrawny and who would not have been thought of to succeed in the major leagues, but through effort and determination he succeeded anyway. So this user of the password just liked that name, so he just kept on using that name over the years.

What about Chris Truby?

eddieot Posted: January 25, 2016 at 05:34 AM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cardinals, david eckstein, hacking

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yoenis Cespedes still available but Astros not likely destination - Ultimate Astros

Where will Cespedes land?

General manager Jeff Luhnow on Friday afternoon reiterated that he feels the team does not need to make further moves this offseason. Yet, it’s clear the Astros don’t consider their winter over.

“We’re still in the same spot we’ve been in,” Luhnow said. “We’re monitoring the players that are available and trying to figure out if there’s a fit, and when I say available, I don’t mean only via free agency. There’s discussions with other teams about trade possibilities as well. Chasing down a lot of avenues.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2016 at 06:44 AM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, free agents, yoenis cespedes

Monday, January 18, 2016

DeWitt gives views of hacking episode : Sports

Those concerned about the potential precedent the Cardinals’ hacking of the Houston Astros established received Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.’s answer during a wide-ranging interview at Winter Warm-Up on Sunday.

He used the phrases “outlier”, “rogue element” and “one-off situation” when referring to the federal investigation that stems from former Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to five counts of illegal entry into a protected database owned by the Astros.

“Certainly shocked us, and I think shocked everybody in the game,” DeWitt said. “Look, it’s a very competitive business, we all want to beat the other team. Everybody lives within the rules and tries to figure out what’s going to give them the advantage, but that sort of activity is just not at all in the culture of MLB.”

It remains unknown how MLB will mete out punishment for baseball’s version of corporate espionage. Some have suggested it sets a precedent with the Redbirds. Punishments could include a fine, the loss of draft picks or limits on draft spending. MLB is planning its own investigation, and has requested information from the U.S. attorney’s office. Correa’s sentencing is scheduled for April 11.

“I have confidence in the commissioner doing the right thing, whatever that right thing is,” DeWitt said. “I think it depends on the facts. Some of the facts you know because there was a confession there or a plea. What else they have and want to talk to the commissioner’s office about, I don’t know.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 18, 2016 at 06:13 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cardinals

Guilty plea just the beginning in Astros hacking case - Houston Chronicle

Federal judges have recommended - but not mandatory - sentencing guidelines to follow on a points system. The amount of loss greatly increases the number of points - and therefore, likely prison time.

To Toren, that may explain how the plea agreement came together.

“They don’t want to include the full amount of damages or loss,” he said. “Since he pleaded guilty, the only way he may have pled guilty, they don’t want to have to send him to jail for 50 years. Because that is a lot of loss.

“Based on the guidelines and the loss to the victim, I think that there is a very, very high likelihood that he’s going to serve at least two to three years in prison.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 18, 2016 at 05:39 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cardinals

Friday, January 08, 2016

Former Cardinals scouting director to be indicted for hacking the Astros today

Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports that ex-Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa will be indicted today on charges arising out of the hacking of the Houston Astros’ database in 2014. Correa is expected to plead guilty to charges related to hacking the Astros.

Costa says between 5-12 charges will be filed. While the charges are yet unknown, the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would cover such activities. The FBI has been investigating for months. There are serious potential penalties under this law.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 08, 2016 at 11:49 AM | 68 comment(s)
  Beats: analytics, astros, cardinals, criminal, hacking, proprietary

Monday, January 04, 2016

Morgan Ensberg now Astros Minors mindset coach | astros.com

Ensberg says it’s all about supporting the players and doing everything the organization can from an analytical side to figure out the best way to teach them the game. But, he warns, he’s not a psychologist.
“It’s something the players, coaches and managers can trust that will stick with them when things go bad,” he said.

And Ensberg admits he could have used a mindset coach when he played. It was sink or swim.

“I always ended up being that guy for other guys, and it’s really because I care,” he said. “I don’t like that players feel anxiety. It’s scary, and I try not to talk about it too much, but it’s a very scary deal. People don’t want to hear it. They want to say, ‘Look, you’re making billions of dollars.’ And it’s true. We’re very fortunate when it comes to money, but make no mistake about it—those guys out there are scared to death. They’re staring at the ceiling, and I want to help them at least get through parts of that.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 04, 2016 at 08:07 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

All-or-nothing approach defines draftee Bregman - Houston Chronicle

Meet Alex Bregman.

Frank Anderson, father of big league pitcher Brett Anderson and a University of Houston assistant coach, has put on clinics at the Albuquerque Baseball Academy and also has seen Bregman since he was about 10 years old. He never worked as closely with Bregman as Brewer did, but even from afar, the same qualities were apparent. The Astros have a dirty-uniform, non-stop, get-it-done player - with talent to boot.

“The motor that he has that other people don’t have, and the drive and the day-to-day things that he did, even at a young age when I was out there, I mean, it’s the same things that you see today,” Anderson said. “It’s just a motor that never stops. It’s something that not a lot of people have, and you watch it from afar and you go, it’s something special.”

Anderson recalled Bregman playing for multiple teams as a teenager. On a 110-degree day, the kid was racing around town, trying to play just the final four innings of his third game of the day.

That kind of endurance likely would lend itself to bull riding just as well as it did creating one of the best amateur shortstop’s in the nation.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 22, 2015 at 09:50 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: alex bregman, astros, prospects

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Jeff Luhnow defends drafting Mark Appel after trading him - Ultimate Astros

That has to sting.

Trading Mark Appel — the first overall draft pick in 2013 and the eighth overall draft pick in 2012 — in a package with four other pitchers for a premier young closer and a 17-year-old shortstop speaks for itself.

Appel hasn’t lived up to expectations. And everything that has transpired since the Astros drafted him indicates the organization made the wrong choice picking atop the 2013 draft.

The second pick that year, third baseman Kris Bryant of the Cubs, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 by a unanimous vote. Appel, 24, has yet to pitch in the big leagues. Bryant, 23, hit 26 home runs and had an .858 OPS last season in the bigs.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 13, 2015 at 09:05 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, kris bryant, mark appel

Former No. 1 pick Mark Appel saddened to be leaving Astros organization - Ultimate Astros

Mark Appel doesn’t pay off for the Astros.

“The only emotions and the only feelings toward the Astros is gratitude,” he said. “There’s so much thankfulness for what they’ve done for me, how they’ve supported me and how they handled everything and just supported me through my difficult season through my learning curve of acclimating to pro ball and really working through some difficulties and struggling.

“I’m not going to shy away from the difficulties that I’ve had, but the Astros have just been very gracious to me. I’m just so thankful to be part of the organization.”

Jim Furtado Posted: December 13, 2015 at 08:03 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, mark appel, phillies

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Astros acquire Ken Giles from Phillies | MLB.com

The Astros will send pitcher Vincent Velasquez, left-handed pitcher Brett Oberholtzer and one Minor Leaguer to the Phillies in exchange for Giles, who will be a key piece to the back end of their bullpen.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 09, 2015 at 08:59 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, phillies, trades, winter meetings

‘MLB Network Presents’ returns with features on Royals and the AstroDome

Forget Star Wars!

The popular series ‘MLB Network Presents’ is slated to return on Dec, 10 at 8 p.m. ET, right at the conclusion of the winter meetings coverage, and it starts with a look at the Kansas City Royals 30-year journey to their second World Series championship.

“Royal in Kansas City, 30 Years Later” is the title of the program and it will feature interviews with Royals past, including Hall of Famer George Brett and teammates Danny Jackson, Darryl Motley, Bret Saberhagen, Frank White and Willie Wilson as they reminisce about bringing Kansas City’s first World Series title home in 1985. The group will also discuss watching the 2015 team repeating their success and the joy they experienced watching another Royal celebration….

MLB Network is also advertising Lenny Randle, “The Most Interesting Man in Baseball,” which will air Friday, Dec. 11 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The one-hour documentary will look at the life and 12-year playing career of Lenny Randle, and will be narrated by comedian and Mets fan Jim Breuer.

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, a special on the Houston AstroDome will air at 9:00 p.m. ET.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 09, 2015 at 11:13 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, documentaries, film, lenny randle, mlb network, royals

Monday, December 07, 2015

Astros’ payroll doesn’t measure up to market size - Houston Chronicle

The fact MLB ranks Houston as the league’s 15th market is no small matter. That slotting has actually hurt them.

It’s not a well-publicized segment of the collective bargaining agreement, but half of the 30 major league teams will not receive revenue-sharing money in 2016.

A provision referred to as “market rank disqualification” was put in place in the most recent labor deal, which began with the 2012 season. All clubs in the top 15 markets - and only those clubs - have slowly seen their revenue-sharing intake disappear.

Twenty-five percent of the cut disappeared in 2013, then 50 percent in 2014 and 75 percent in 2015. This upcoming season, it’s all gone.

“It affects our economics,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said at the GM meetings earlier this offseason. “There’s certain teams that are getting a benefit, and there’s certain teams that don’t, and we’re not receiving a benefit.”

Revenue sharing is pooled from two primary streams, one of which is a 34 percent share of every team’s local revenue.

The logic behind market rank disqualification is twofold. First, there’s a belief transferred money should go to clubs that need it, meaning those in markets insufficiently sized to generate enough revenue otherwise. Second, it follows that clubs in larger markets should be able to stand on their own.

Still, no team is ever going to enjoy losing money - particularly not one standing at the cutoff point. Had they been No. 16 - that’s the Seattle Mariners - the Astros would have retained a full 100 percent of revenue sharing throughout this CBA.

But the Astros are No. 15. One notch on the list has ostensibly meant millions. That hurts.

“Yes it does,” Luhnow said. “Because it’s a cliff. Any time you’re at a cliff and you’re on the wrong side of the cliff - you just missed - it hurts you more than it hurts a team that’s all the way at the very bottom or all the way at the very top.”

The money forfeited by teams in the top 15 markets goes back proportionally to clubs paying into the revenue-sharing system.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 07, 2015 at 11:02 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cba, economics

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How Colby Rasmus’ big contract played a role in trading Jed Lowrie - Houston Chronicle

So, it is a salary dump.

“I don’t know because we’re not operating really towards a number,” Luhnow said. “Obviously, I know I’m not going to spend $150, $200 million. But I’m not necessarily trying to hit a number. I’m trying to put together a team. I know it’s going to be in some range, but I’m focused way more on putting together a team that works for us rather than hitting a number.”
...
“Given that we had a lot of options at third and first, we (thought we) could take those resources and apply them to an area of our club we didn’t have as much depth (or where we) don’t have anybody penciled into that spot right now,” Luhnow said. “Whether it’s lefthanded relief, righthanded relief or even a starter, those resources will be reallocated to something we believe will help.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 25, 2015 at 07:08 PM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Oakland A’s acquire Jed Lowrie from Houston Astros for RHP Brendan McCurry

Jed Lowrie? Brett Lawrie? Could Noah Lowry be next?

e Oakland Athletics have reacquired Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros for right-handed relief pitcher Brendan McCurry, the club has announced. News that the A’s would acquire Lowrie was first reported by Jane Lee of MLB.com. The A’s have 41 players counting against their 40-man roster limit and have not yet announced a corresponding move.

Lowrie, turning 32 next season, has two years and $14 million remaining on the three-year deal he signed with the Astros after going to free agency in 2014, plus a club option in 2018 for $6 million with a $1 million buyout. In 69 games and 263 plate appearances, Lorie hit .222/.312/.400 with the Astros in 2015, a wRC+ of 91.

Jed Lowrie played shortstop with the A’s, but with the Astros he moved from shortstop to third base after a right thumb injury on a slide into home caused him to tear a ligament in his right thumb, putting him on the disabled list from late April to late July. Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa was promoted in June, prompting a permanent move to third base.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 25, 2015 at 12:53 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, athletics, billy beane, brendan mccurry, jed lowrie, trade

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Colby Rasmus accepts qualifying offer | MLB.com

Somebody had to do it eventually.

Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus on Thursday became the first player to accept a qualifying offer, a baseball source told MLB.com. He’s the first Astros player to receive a qualifying offer and the first baseball player to accept one since the system came in place three years ago. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 12, 2015 at 08:17 PM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, colby rasmus

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Astros could strike a balance with offseason moves - Houston Chronicle

“Playoffs, everything is intensely scrutinized because every play matters so much more,” Luhnow said. “But if you’re good enough to get to the playoffs, you’re probably good enough to win in the playoffs. We certainly think about how our team would stack in a short series even as we’re constructing a team from right now.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 10, 2015 at 11:40 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Friday, November 06, 2015

MiLBY: Houston Astros grow into best farm system | MiLB.com News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball

The Astros are clearly doing something right.

“The most important measure of a system is, ‘How does it graduate its players?’” Luhnow said. “We were able to do that pretty well this year, especially in the case of Correa. The guys who came up were much accomplished, and we think that’s because they had the experience of winning in the Minor Leagues. We’re always walking the fine line between winning and development, though, and when we can do both, it’s a reflection on the scouts and coaches we have. We’re pretty happy with how everything’s shaken out.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 06, 2015 at 05:41 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, prospects

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Astros’ Prospect Reed Named MiLB Offensive Player of the Year

A.J. Reed, the No. 5 prospect in the Houston system and No. 91 in all of baseball, went on to win the Joe Bauman Award with 34 home runs, 113 runs scored and hit .340/.432/.612 across 135 games between Class A Advanced and Double-A ball. On top of his home run title, he led all Minor Leaguers with 127 RBIs and 320 total bases and all full-season players with the .612 slugging percentage and a 1.044 OPS. For all of these reasons, Reed was the unanimous staff choice for the Top Offensive Player MiLBY.

GrumpyFan Posted: October 29, 2015 at 07:17 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, prospects

Friday, October 16, 2015

Astros weigh options with free-agents-to-be - Ultimate Astros

Winning can be expensive.

A half hour after the Astros’ season ended Wednesday, reliever Tony Sipp, who pitched in every postseason game, said he hadn’t considered that when he walked out of the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium, he might not wear an Astros uniform again.

A 32-year-old lefty, Sipp wasn’t playing dumb. Just like outfielder Colby Rasmus and starter Scott Kazmir and veteran relievers Chad Qualls and Joe Thatcher, Sipp knew he was on his way to becoming a free agent at the end of this season.

In Sipp’s case and in almost every case, the free-market experience has been something to look forward to. He’s made seven-figure salaries the last two seasons, including $2.4 million this past season in his last year of arbitration eligibility. But with a career-best 1.99 ERA in the regular season — plus 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in the playoffs — he’s in for the first great payday of his career.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 16, 2015 at 10:49 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, free agency

Monday, October 12, 2015

Royals’ five-run inning beats Astros in Game 4 | MLB.com

One crazy inning.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 12, 2015 at 09:45 PM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, playoffs, royals

Replay Is Turning Baseball Into Football And I Hate It

To be fair, Terrance Gore never made a “football move.”

Astros manager A.J. Hinch challenged the play, sending the umpiring crew to a replay review. They determined that after sliding in safely, Gore’s foot popped off the bag for a brief moment, and that he was therefore out because the third baseman’s wrist (which I guess is part of the glove?) was still pressed against Gore’s body. If you watch the GIF above enough times, you can see why the umpires reversed the call, and you can even understand that Gore was, technically, out.

This isn’t really the kind of mistake instant replay was meant to rectify. There are certainly moments in which replay is a very good thing to have—determining if a home run really cleared the top of the fence or whether a ball is fair or foul come to mind—but the game is not served well when it’s used as a tool to reverse plays based on a base runner’s momentum popping his foot off the bag for a fraction of a second. Bases are hard, and I bet that if you looked at every slide in super slo-mo, you’d see a lot of feet popping a few millimeters off the bag for a split second. When a guy who’s functionally safe—and would be called such in most circumstances—gets called out like this, it makes the game more arbitrary, not less.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 12, 2015 at 08:58 PM | 46 comment(s)
  Beats: alds, astros, instant replay, royals, terrance gore

Longtime friends Dallas Keuchel, Jason Castro happy to see reversed fortune for this season’s Astros - Ultimate Astros

Success is a lot more sweet whenever you kind of go through hardships, like we did the first couple years that I was up here, and Castro,” Keuchel said. “A lot of (the noise Sunday) hinges on just the 10-year absence from the playoffs. You never want to lose in any season. Guys hate losing.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 12, 2015 at 07:46 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dallas keuchel, jason castro, royals

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Eric Hosmer shines as the Royals come from behind to beat Astros | The Kansas City Star

It certainly wasn’t pretty, except to Royals fans.

The pitch is a slider — another slider — and Hosmer is beat. Absolutely beat.

This pitch is way off the plate, but Hosmer is expecting a fastball, so by the time he recognizes the break it’s too late. He goes into what hitters call the emergency hack, with his rear end jutting back, shoulders lunging over the plate and those long arms throwing the head of the bat toward the ball. At the point of contact, Hosmer looks like he’s sitting on a toilet. It’s quite a scene.

“It was in our dugout,” Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas will say about Hosmer’s rear end.

Hosmer is fooled so badly on the pitch that the bat may never have even crossed the plate. But he does make contact, and the gods have kissed this baseball because it lands softly in the outfield away from any Astros fielders. A run scores. Kauffman Stadium explodes with joy.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 10, 2015 at 09:06 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, eric hosmer, royals

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