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Thursday, January 07, 2021

Astros, pitcher Ryne Stanek agree to one-year deal

The Astros are in agreement with free agent righthander Ryne Stanek on a one-year deal for $1.1 million, a person with knowledge of the deal said on Wednesday, reuniting the former Rays reliever with general manager James Click.

Stanek spent parts of three seasons in Tampa Bay after the team selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft. He was traded to the Miami Marlins in July 2019, beginning a precipitous decline. Stanek had a 6.03 ERA and allowed seven home runs in 31 ⅓ innings with the Marlins.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 07, 2021 at 06:24 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, ryne stanek

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Astros to make Sugar Land Skeeters their Class AAA affiliate

The Astros and Sugar Land Skeeters reached an agreement for the Skeeters to become the Astros’ Class AAA affiliate, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome. The Astros also will have an ownership stake in the Skeeters, according to KRIV-TV.

The Skeeters play at the 7,500 seat Constellation Field, located about 20 miles southwest of Minute Maid Park off Highway 6. The team had been playing in the independent Atlantic League since its inception in 2012.

The move means the Astros’ top two affiliates are both in the state with the Corpus Christi Hooks serving as the organization’s Class AA affiliate. The Astros also own the Hooks and the Class A Advanced team in Fayetteville, N.C.

The Round Rock Express now will need to find a new affiliation, which the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant speculates could be the Texas Rangers.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 17, 2020 at 08:47 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Monday, November 09, 2020

Ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, fired after sign-stealing scandal, sues team

Jeff Luhnow sued the Houston Astros for breach of contract on Sunday, alleging that Astros owner Jim Crane and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred negotiated penalties for the sign-stealing scandal that enabled the team to paint Luhnow as “the scapegoat for the organization” and fire its general manager “in order to save more than $22 million in guaranteed salary.”

In January, after a two-month investigation into how the Astros violated baseball rules by improperly deploying technology to decode signs in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Manfred suspended Luhnow and Astros manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season. Crane then fired Luhnow and Hinch.

Luhnow’s lawsuit uses quotation marks around the word “investigation” and calls it “a negotiated resolution” between Crane and Manfred “that enabled the team to keep its World Series championship, went to great lengths to publicly exonerate Crane, and scapegoated Luhnow for a sign-stealing scandal that he had no knowledge of and played no part in.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 12:05 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, jeff luhnow, sign-stealing

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Astros place closer Roberto Osuna on outright waivers

The Astros placed Roberto Osuna on outright waivers Thursday, providing an end to his controversial tenure as the team’s closer.

Osuna appeared in only four games this season before suffering an elbow injury. KRIV-TV reported that an initial diagnosis called for Tommy John surgery, but general manager James Click said in September that the 25-year-old closer had resumed playing catch. Osuna already underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013.

Osuna was eligible for arbitration a fourth time this winter and was an obvious candidate to be non-tendered. He was scheduled to make $10 million last season prior to the proration for a 60-game year. Osuna’s 2021 salary in the arbitration process would have also been around $10 million.

If Osuna clears waivers, he can elect free agency. He finished his Astros career with 51 saves and a 2.45 ERA in 93 appearances.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 29, 2020 at 12:47 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, roberto osuna

Friday, October 23, 2020

Ben Reiter called the Astros’ title, but says he couldn’t have seen the signs of cheating in advance

DN: In your second episode of “The Edge,” you spoke to one of those fired baseball lifers, Dave Trembley, who shared that he was frustrated that you never reached out to him because he could have offered a more grounded perspective on the Astros culture. Why didn’t you?

BR: By my count, I spoke to 46 members of the organization, past and present. Trembley was just not on my list. I couldn’t talk to everybody. Baseball’s an insular world and it’s extremely hard to get people speaking critically about their opponents on the record. There weren’t many people at the time, pre, sign-stealing scandal, willing to say anything specific about a rival. In retrospect, I wish I had spoken with Tremblay, which is why I included him in the podcast….

DN: As a journalist, what have you learned about being presented opportunities with access and how to avoid missing the story?

BR: I don’t feel that I missed the sign-stealing scandal. Despite the level of access I had, I don’t think I was ever in any position to have seen it or to have been told about it. What I think I might have interrogated more a certain side of their culture and operations that I didn’t see. That’s what I’m interrogating through this podcast.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2020 at 12:10 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Monday, October 19, 2020

Q&A: Full, 37-minute interview with former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow

“Some people will say there is no way you couldn’t have known. Do you have any evidence of that?”

“So, I understand that if I were a fan and I heard about this scandal, I would assume that the GM might have known, so I get that. And let’s start by me saying I wish I knew. Because, if I knew, this never would have gotten to where it got to.

“I do have a lot of evidence. It’s hard to prove that you didn’t know something, it’s proving a negative. But the investigation interviewed dozens and dozens of people; players, video staff members, coaches, etc. None of them said that I knew. The investigation looked at emails, text messages, slack messages, tens of thousands of messages from different people. I handed over my phone to the MLB investigators. They went through all of my messages, and everything on my phone. I provided to the investigators several pieces of evidence that they used in the investigation. Unfortunately, they turned some of those back around and tried to implicate me and say that I might have known. But I was proactive in assisting them in the investigation.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2020 at 09:58 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, jeff luhnow

Friday, October 09, 2020

So the Houston Astros are headed to another ALCS. How angry should you be?

Three reasons to root against the Astros in the ALCS:

1. They were cheaters.

“I know a lot of people are mad,” Carlos Correa said after the Astros swept the Twins in the first round. “I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here. But what are they gonna say now? We’re a solid team. We played great baseball. We won a series, on the road, in Minnesota. So what are you gonna say now?”

Correa was a little more diplomatic after Thursday’s 11-6 win over the A’s, saying the Astros did not use the idea of fans not wanting them here as motivation. “Absolutely not,” he said. “We’re motivated because we want to win. We want to be able to bring another championship to the city of Houston. We know what it feels like so we want to be able to have that feeling once again. 2017 was such a special year celebrating with the fans in Houston so the thing that motivates us is to get to feel that again.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 09, 2020 at 09:06 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Carlos Correa addresses Astros haters after sweeping Twins: ‘What are they going to say now?’

“I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here,” said shortstop Carlos Correa, who homered as part of a two-knock game, “but what are they going to say now?”

Correa’s frustration is understandable. It can’t be fun to have critics question the legitimacy of one’s accomplishments at every turn. The obvious retort, though, is that Correa and the Astros did it to themselves. Remember, this all stems from Houston’s sign-stealing scheme that led Major League Baseball to suspend both the club’s former manager and general manager, and to fine and strip the organization of draft picks. Yes, other teams were probably doing similar things, but the Astros got caught; that means suffering the consequences, such as public criticism.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 30, 2020 at 10:38 PM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, carlos correa

Minnesota Twins eliminated by Houston Astros as postseason losing streak hits 18 games

The Minnesota Twins’ postseason losing streak has reached a stunning 18 games—and now their 2020 season is over. The Houston Astros eliminated the Twins with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday at Target Field in Minneapolis, a disappointing finish for a team that had rallied to win its second consecutive American League Central title and finished with the best home record in the majors during the 60-game regular season.

The Twins’ playoff streak is not only a major league record, but is the longest in U.S. sports history. The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks lost 16 straight playoff games from 1975 to 1979. Before the Twins, the previous MLB record belonged to the Boston Red Sox, who lost 13 playoff games in a row starting with the infamous Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

“We haven’t been successful in the playoffs lately, at all. That’s a reality for all the fans and for everyone who follows the organization and cares about the Twins,” second-year manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I’m aware of it now. The day I showed up here ... I had no idea that was even a thing. I didn’t know it existed. I hear about it from people who care about this team. And you know what? We want to do better. We want to do better for ourselves, we want to do better for the organization and we want to do better for the fans, too.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 30, 2020 at 10:29 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, twins

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Yuli Gurriel takes pay cut to $7M to stay with Astros

First baseman Yuli Gurriel and the Houston Astros have agreed to a one-year contract with an option for 2022 that guarantees $7 million, a cut of nearly 20% from his 2020 deal.

The agreement was announced hours before the defending AL champions started their first-round playoff matchup against at Minnesota on Tuesday, an odd time to reach a contract for a future season.

Gurriel’s 2020 contract called for an $8.3 million salary and wound up being worth $3,074,074 prorated.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 29, 2020 at 01:04 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, yuli gurriel

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Why losing Justin Verlander marks beginning of the end of Astros’ sad legacy

In the big picture, I do wonder whether this is the end of the era, this run that started in 2015 and included the now-controversial 2017 World Series title and three straight 100-win seasons from 2017 to 2019. They will now be without Verlander for 2021, and George Springer, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick are all free agents. Given the current stink hovering over the entire organization, what are the odds any of those players are wearing an Astros uniform in 2021? These guys are all 30-something, so the Astros would possibly go in another direction anyway.

Springer would be the one guy you would most want to bring back, but there’s a longstanding grudge between him and the organization after it tried to sign him to a long-term deal when he was still a minor leaguer and delayed his promotion to the majors. In a thin free-agent market, he’ll also be one of the most sought-after players available.

Then Greinke, McCullers and Carlos Correa are all free agents after 2021. Depending on which direction the Astros go, those three could all be trade bait this offseason. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are signed long term and Yordan Alvarez will be a monster after missing all but one game in 2020, but Altuve in particular has been terrible and will turn 31 next season. He’s signed through 2024, but it’s fair to ask what kind of player he’ll be the next four seasons.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 04:09 PM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Verlander to undergo Tommy John surgery

Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, announced via his Instagram account on Saturday that he has decided to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery—the first time in his long and accomplished career that he has needed the procedure. Verlander, who has not pitched since Opening Day in July, said he consulted with several doctors before reaching his decision.

“I was hopeful that I would be able to return to competition in 2020,” wrote Verlander, “however, during my simulated game, unfortunately the injury worsened. Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed, but I will not let this slow down my aspirations for my career. I will approach this rehab the only way I know, attack and don’t look back.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 04:07 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, justin verlander, tommy john surgery

Friday, January 20, 2012

WSJ: Houston Astros Owner Mucked Up in JeffCo Bankruptcy

We release things drip by drip…and when I have my sewer bonds settlement statements ready for this year, I’ll release them!

Stuck at the unfortunate end of the debt-clogged sewer system of Jefferson County, Ala., you’ll find Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Fresh into his takeover of the Texas baseball team, Crane has been ordered by a bankruptcy judge to reveal details of his settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. over $35 million worth of sewer bonds that he bought from the investment bank four years ago—a personal investment that quickly turned to, er, garbage.

Those dirty details, which are not public, are what Jefferson County attorney are seeking amid their own fight with the bank over the complicated series of dealings that, with a little help from a corruption scheme that ensnared the county’s top elected leaders, left the county swimming in a pool of toxic debt.

Ultimately, the county—Alabama’s most populous with roughly 658,000 residents—filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, marking the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Crane said he got stuck with a bum deal, too, according to court documents filed in Texas state court.

Repoz Posted: January 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, business, media

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MLB: Astros reach one-year deal with Cust

CustomInk: Compare prices!

Jack Cust, who has hit 105 home runs in a 10-year Major League career that has spanned six teams, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Astros that includes an option for 2013, according to a baseball source.

The deal is pending a physical and could be announced as soon as Wednesday. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow declined to comment.

Cust, 33, appeared in 67 games before being cut loose last July by the Mariners, for whom he batted .213 with three homers and 23 RBIs. He spent the previous four seasons with the Oakland A’s, hitting 97 homers and driving in 281 runs in that span. He’s played primarily left field, right field and designated hitter in his career.

The addition of Cust likely puts him in the mix to start in right field in an increasingly crowded group that includes Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, J.B. Shuck and Fernando Martinez, the former top prospect of the Mets who was claimed off waivers last week.

Repoz Posted: January 18, 2012 at 05:57 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, business

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

RLYW: Salvaging a Sunken cost

Burnett projects to have an RA of 5.03 in CAIRO.  The following possible starting pitchers project better than that.

CC Sabathia (3.57)
Michael Pineda (4.37)
Freddy Garcia (4.55)
Brad Meyers (4.56)
Hiroki Kuroda (4.57)
Phil Hughes (4.63)
Ivan Nova (4.93)
...

If that’s true, then every start that goes to Burnett is a start that should be going to one of the above.

...

Unfortunately, since Burnett is owed $33 million over the next two years, the Yankees probably feel obligated to try and get some value out of him.

I don’t think they can do that by pitching him…. trading Burnett’s bad contract to another team for their bad contract might be a way to recoup some of that value.

Mr Dashwood Posted: January 17, 2012 at 12:21 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, cubs, mets, projections, white sox, yankees

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Bartolo Colon Agrees to Sign With Unknown Team

Bartolo Colon has agreed to a deal with an unknown club reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). The right-hander wouldn’t divulge the team because he has not yet passed his physical.

Pretty sure it’s either the All-Stars or the Champs.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Adam Everett retires, joins Indians as special assistant

I forget if Roger Clemens said it or if someone said it to him when he went to the Astros…but the “Now I’ll/you’ll finally have a Major League shortstop behind me/you.” was pure Jeterkill.

I guess this means Adam Everett is officially retired.

Everett was released by Cleveland in the middle of his 11th big-league season last June, and the light-hitting, Gold Glove-caliber shortstop has decided to end his playing career and join the Indians’ front office as a “special assistant to baseball operations.”

Everett hit just .242 with a .294 on-base percentage and .346 slugging percentage in 880 games and never won a Gold Glove, but consistently rated among the elite shortstops in baseball according to various defensive metrics. He also earned about $12 million in addition to the signing bonus he received as the Red Sox’s first-round pick in 1998, so all in all that’s a pretty solid career.

Repoz Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:01 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, indians

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

F-Mart to the Houston Astros

Shop smart…

One-time top Mets prospect Fernando Martinez is now a Houston Astro.

Houston, which has first dibs in waiver claims by virtue of its MLB-worst record in 2011, selected the 23-year-old outfielder…

Because Martinez has an option remaining, he needs to remain on Houston’s 40-man roster, but can be optioned to Triple-A in spring training if he does not make the major league club.

Martinez is a lifetime .183 hitter with two homers and 12 RBIs in 131 at-bats spanning the past three seasons. His biggest obstacle has been injuries, including an arthritic knee that severely limits his mobility, even when technically healthy. Including his major league activity, Martinez has averaged only 77 games a regular season since 2006.

The District Attorney Posted: January 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, mets

Monday, January 09, 2012

Blasts from the Past

With the Hall of Fame results being announced today, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and dig up some old scouting reports from the Baseball America archives on some of the ballot’s notable candidates. . .

8. Barry Larkin, ss, 21, 5-11, 175, R-R
Larkin looked right at home in AA, hitting .267 for Vermont. He didn’t show power (one home run in 255 at-bats), but that will come. The key for him was just getting his feet on the ground, and he was not overpowered by the high level of competition (21 strikeouts in 255 at-bats). He will have good power for a shortstop.

6. Edgar Martinez, 3b, 25, 5-11, 175, R-R
Martinez’s discipline will produce runs. He’s averaged 70 RBIs the last four years. In the field, he’s solid, with good reactions and the soft hands of a middle infielder.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Neyer: Elect Jeff Bagwell To The Hall, And Cooperstown Will Bloom Again

Apparently “Craig” only needs a first name, like Cher, Madonna or Snooki.

This morning, Craig [Calcaterra] wrote a couple of compelling Hall of Fame-related posts.

In the first, he noted that attendance at the Museum is way, way down: more than 20 percent just from 2007 through 2011… In the second, Craig gave some Calcaterrian whatfor and whatnot to three Chicagoland Hall of Fame voters who have (again) not voted for Jeff Bagwell because of suspicions that he used performance-enhancing drugs (not including amphetamines, because hey if Willie Mays used greenies it’s cool)...

While I believe Bagwell should be in the Hall of Fame, I’ve never quite understood the argument that a Hall of Fame voter—if he thinks steroid use is germane—should ignore every scrap of evidence that doesn’t appear in the Mitchell Report or wherever… I believe that it’s intellectually indefensible to disqualify a player solely because you think he used steroids ... but I also believe it’s perfectly defensible to decide for yourself, based on everything you’ve seen and heard, if a player did use steroids.

Some of that makes sense, I hope. And I really didn’t intend to get into this whole thing. Really, I just wanted to express my mild surprise that Craig didn’t make any connection between Hall of Fame voting and Hall of Fame visitors. The Hall of Fame derives 98 percent of it publicity from one thing: new Hall of Famers. But lately—and for some years into the future, I’m afraid—a great deal of that 98 percent is going to be negative. It will be about Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield and Mike Piazza and all the terrible things they did, and there might well be years when literally nobody is elected to the Hall of Fame. You think attendance has been down? You ain’t seen nothing.

The District Attorney Posted: January 03, 2012 at 10:50 PM | 240 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, awards, baseball geeks, hall of fame, history

MLB: Astros add two to baseball operations staff

Astroland: A Team’s Obsessive Bid to Win the World’s Most Ruthless Baseball League!

The Astros have hired Sig Mejdal as Director of Decision Sciences and Stephanie Wilka as Coordinator of Amateur Scouting, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today.

Mejdal, 46, had worked with the St. Louis Cardinals since 2005, most recently as Director, Amateur Draft Analytics. While with the Cardinals, he was involved with modeling, analysis and data-driven decision making throughout all levels of the organization and was a key contributor in the draft decision processes that led to more Major League players than any other organization during that time frame.

Mejdal earned two engineering degrees at the University of California at Davis and later completed advanced degrees in Operations Research and Cognitive Psychology/Human Factors. He has also worked at Lockheed Martin in California and for NASA. Mejdal has been active in baseball statistics and analytics since earning his membership in The Society for Baseball Research (SABR) while in grade school.

Repoz Posted: January 03, 2012 at 07:20 PM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, business, media, projections, sabermetrics

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rosenthal: ESPN’s Keith Law: On the move again?

Oh, Lisa…

Keith Law, a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com, interviewed last week for a number of front-office roles with the Houston Astros, including the job of scouting director, according to major-league sources.

Law met with both new club president George Postolos and general manager Jeff Luhnow, but the team has yet to offer him a position, sources say.

In his current job, Law oversees ESPN’s scouting-related content. Prior to joining ESPN in 2006, he spent 4½ years as a special assistant with the Toronto Blue Jays. Prior to that, he was a free-lance writer for Baseball Prospectus and ESPN.

Repoz Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:25 PM | 88 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Justice: Baseball lucky to have had McLane around

Richie and Drayton sittin’ in Wade’s tree…

Drayton McLane slipped out the backdoor that final day in Milwaukee last month, off to a life out of the spotlight after 17 years as the owner of the Houston Astros.

I’m taking this opportunity to say now what I didn’t have the chance to say then. Thank you, Drayton.

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for never having had a bad day, at least not that I could tell.

Thank you for all the times you took my calls when I was a columnist for the Houston Chronicle and working on something that now seems insignificant.

...Through it all, McLane never once failed to return a phone call. He believed that part of his responsibility as the owner of the local baseball team was dealing with reporters, even the annoying ones.

Baseball was lucky to have him for as long as it did. His legacy in baseball will be that he led the Astros at a time of their greatest success on the field, including six playoff appearances during one nine-year stretch.

Repoz Posted: December 25, 2011 at 12:50 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, business, media

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ed Wade Returns, Hopefully to Claim His Ring

The Phillies will be living trophies in his diabolical collection!

image

Wade’s tenure as Phillies GM wasn’t considered to be a particularly good one at the time, but he returns to a team that still fields a talented group of players drafted during his time here, including Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, and even Vance Worley. (Worley opted to go to college, but was again drafted in 2008, this time by Pat Gillick’s regime.) Charlie Manuel was also his guy, and he selected Shane Victorino in the Rule 5 draft (but almost returned him). Wade and his scouts drafted the recently departed Ryan Madson, as well as Pat Burrell.

That’s not to say he didn’t also make some critical missteps. It’s hard to think of anyone who was less popular during a Philly tenure than Wade. But, in its own cruel way, history has been increasingly kind to his legacy. The guys listed above finally did win us a World Series. While Wade couldn’t himself put it all together, he drew the prototype on the cocktail napkin and saw through it the startup phase. I certainly didn’t appreciate what he had put in place at the time, how close he was.

The Gillick Era will be seen by many, particularly as years pass, as the phase in which the Phillies went from being the bums who were a constant letdown to the heroes who have owned the city’s sporting hearts from 2008 ‘til question marks. But Gillick would be the first to credit Wade for the work he did leading up to that.

Repoz Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:22 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, phillies

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Cooperstown case for Jeff Bagwell

Here’s the dilemma facing the BBWAA: Due to the imperfect knowledge we have of who did or didn’t do steroids, the voters will have to end up doing one of two things —either elect a guy who did steroids or keep out someone who never did them. Given our lack of concrete evidence, it’s hard to avoid one of those two options.

Bagwell is an interesting test case for the BBWAA. To date, the only other steroid candidates on the ballot are pretty open-shut cases. Mark McGwire’s congressional testimony created a widespread belief he was took them, and he’s since admitted it, and Rafael Palmeiro famously flunked a drug test.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 19, 2011 at 04:12 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, hall of fame

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