Category Archives: Houston Astros

2014 Houston Astros Team Preview

The future of the Astros, Carlos Correa.

The future of the Astros, Carlos Correa.

Giving us a helping hand with the 2014 Astros Team Preview is Mike Hllywa. You might recognize Mike’s name from his work at Gammons Daily, Halo Hangout, or Off Base Percentage. He’s also been a guest host on The Baseball Show Podcast. You can follow him on twitter here.

I know what you are thinking, this post is about the Astros, so let’s get to the jokes already, right? Sadly, there will not be that many jokes at the expense of the Astros here thanks to a contract that my buddy MJ made me sign this past winter. Yes, the contract was written out on a cocktail napkin. Yes, I did sign said contract in mustard. No, I will not tell you how much alcohol was consumed. Yes, I should have a lawyer on standby so I stop doing stupid stuff like that. Don’t worry, MJ, if your buddy, Kevin Goldstein, gets upset, it won’t be because of this article.

Interestingly enough, however, the joke may be on all of us in a couple of years. Why is that, you say? That is because the future is bright in south-eastern Texas. Now, pipe down, no questions until the very end.

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Jay Bruce clinches 100 RBI’s in his hometown with a Grand Slam

Jay+Bruce+grandslam

Pretty special moment tonight in a guy’s career we’ve followed since day one.

Jay Bruce reached the 100 RBI plateau in Houston (which is not far from his hometown Beaumount, Texas) for the first time in his career. He did it with a grand slam – the second of his career and first since his rookie season in 2008. It was his 30th home run of 2013.

It’s a nice milestone, and you can tell from Bruce’s reaction in the video highlight along with the interaction with his teammates it has been something that has eluded him for too long of a time. He’s finally done it, and it confirms what has been the feeling all along; that this is the most complete season of Jay Bruce’s big league career; advanced metrics be damned.

The Reds won the game 10-0 over the Astros, who lost their 100th game of the season. This was the third season in a row that this has happened.

Rank Relief: Our newly minted segment on the continued collapse of at least one reliver each night of the season.

Rank Relief 4.5.13

Tonight’s guest:  Xavier Cedeno of the Houston Astros.  Everyone knows the Astros are not really trying to win this year so I try to cut them some slack, but this made Carlos Marmol look like Nolan Ryan.  At least Marmol got some people out.  Cedeno has only pitched 30 some innings in the majors and he’s going to wish he could start over after tonight.  Cedeno allowed 6 runs and did not get a batter out.  Most of the harm came from walking 3 batters.  The bright side is that he did only give up 1 hit.  Silver lining kids!

Rank Relief 2 4.5.13

Cedeno left the game tonight with a hardy 108.00 ERA for the season.  Cedeno is a young kid so he won’t get quite the shit that Heath Bell and Marmol got.  He’ll shake it off and be out there another day.  I think it will be a while before we see another 6 run, 0 out performance so we’ll have to wait for another blown save by some tossed around closer.

The Watch List: Yu’s Perfection Yu’s Almost Perfect Game

Yu2

I started writing this post after Darvish set down the first two hitters on two pitches in the 9th inning. I jinxed the man.

[Box Score]

Marwin Gonzalez kept everyone from seeing history tonight. His single in the bottom of the 9th inning was only the second ball that left the infield off Yu Darvish all night long.

The guy was so dominant; I don’t know where to begin. Yes, it was against the Houston Astros lineup which didn’t have many hits in it to begin with after blowing their load on Opening Night, but it was still impressive. This was the first Darvish start that I’ve watched from start to finish. He struck out 14 Astros on the night and featured a fastball that crept up to 97 miles per hour at one point.

The guy has pretty much announced to the world that he’s elite with this start if he hadn’t already prior. My fantasy team thanks Yu (pun).

Now for the stats rundown.

Home Runs: 1 (Ian Kinsler 1)
Strikeouts: 24
Runs: 7
Hits: 14
Errors: 0
Stolen bases: none (still haven’t seen a stolen base live yet, lost art)
Official time watching baseball: 2 hours, 54 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 1
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): two
Household chores completed that I’ve been asked to do: zero

STATS during the 2000-Inning Quest:

Home Runs: 5
Bryce Harper home runs: 2
Strikeouts: 73
Runs: 23
Hits: 45
Errors: 5
Stolen bases: NONE
Official time watching baseball: 12 hours, 49 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 7
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): two
Innings left to go: 1,953 (I’m giving myself 7 more innings b/c I watched the Giants/Dodgers game on MLB Network too before finding something else to do)

Opening Night Watch Report

MaxwellOpeningNight

[Box Score]

I feel like I was more excited for this season to start than I’ve been for any other previous in my lifetime. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but with the completion of tonight’s Opening Night game, I’m now just 1,991 innings away from completing my goal.

Opening Night 2013 was the Justin Maxwell show. He made a base-hit robbing catch of an Elvis Andrus liner early in the game–it was a trap, mind you–and added a pair of triples including one that drove in the first two runs of the 2013 season. He was named the Chevrolet Player of the Game.

The first home run of the 2000 inning quest and of the season went to an unlikely source: Rick Ankiel. Matt Harrison started off pitching well and struck out nine Astros, but Houston quickly settled in and made their return to the American League a triumphant one. Little Jose Altuve added a couple of knocks. Nelson Cruz as well.

There have certainly been more entertaining Opening Night match-ups. But let’s face it, no one is watching these guys tomorrow. This could very well be the only time during the season that the Astros are on my ‘Watch List’. Now for the meat and potatoes of what this post will include.

STATS during the 2000-Inning Quest:

Home Runs: 1 (Rick Ankiel, 1)
Strikeouts: 20
Runs: 10
Hits: 15
Errors: 1
Stolen bases: zero
Official time watching baseball: 3:00
Times taking the dog out to pee: 2
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): Zero
Innings left to go: 1,991

2013 Houston Astros Team Preview

The Houston Astro embark on a new journey in the AL.  Many years ago (not that many, but more than some) the Milwaukee Brewers left the AL Central and ventured into the NL Central giving the NL 16 teams to the AL’s 14.  In order to rectify this great inequity, the Astros are being moved to the AL.  It’s not too tragic.  They were an expansion team, have never won the World Series for the NL, and will get a great regional rival with Texas.  Unfortunately, the rivalry won’t be much to speak of for the next few season.  While the Rangers have plenty of talent, the Astros are trying desperately to acquire it.  They have a minuscule payroll and their highest paid player makes $3M.  Felix Hernandez now makes $25M.

Let’s take a closer look at the Astros.

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Cut salary.
  • Cut salary.
  • Cut salary.
  • Signed SP Erik Bedard.
  • Signed 1B Carlos Pena.
  • Acquired OF/DH Chris Carter from Oakland.

The Astros traded away what they could to acquire prospects.  It’s tough to evaluate an off season like this except that it was necessary.  The Astros have been going down hill for several years and it’s time to flip the switch.  They had nothing at the major league level that they could build around.  Carter is a good pickup but Pena and Bedard are stopgaps until they can get some newer players there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now on to who is going to take the field this year.

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New Astros Uniforms are Hideous; Will be Showcased on Opening Night 2013

Forgive me for having better things to do (not really), but this is the first look I’ve had at the new Houston Astros uniforms.

This comes with the news that the ‘Stros will be opening up their AL West ‘rivalry’ with the Texas Rangers on baseball’s Opening Night of 2013, coming on March 31st.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Jose Altuve. We’ll be forever indebted to the little guy (and the other 11 owners who didn’t pick him up when we had to drop him due to roster constraints before again adding him for a stretch run) for helping deliver yet another fantasy baseball championship with his average, steals, and runs on a bad team.

But shouldn’t Opening Night belong to a couple of teams that have a bit more pizazz? A little more sparkle? Those new threads are not sparkle. They’re a cross between the Detroit Tigers and a well-sponsored Pony League team. Not a fan.

Welcome to the year 2013. A year in which the Astros will donate some 90-something wins to teams of the American League, beginning with Opening Night.

Game 135, 2012: Curtain Drops on Summer as Bruce’s Monster Bomb Finishes Houston

[Box Score]

[Houston Chronicle] [Cincinnati.com]

Good teams steal wins. Bad teams seem to gift them.

On Sunday, when I was celebrating my one year marriage anniversary with my wife; Jay Bruce provided Reds fans with a gift and helped Cincinnati steal another win in Houston yesterday afternoon. This was one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen Jay Bruce hit.

The three run shot was Bruce’s 31st home run off a lefty pitcher in the past three seasons. That’s tops in the big leagues by a lefthanded stick.

With the Cardinals dropping their third game in four contests in Washington 4-3, the Reds sat comfortably at 9 and 1/2 games in first place. I thought the 2012 Reds would win the division by double digits games; that it wouldn’t even be a race when things settled. We’re about to see if I was right.

Matt Cain fires a perfect game

Not to be outdone by a knuckle baller or a rookie (Lance Lynn), Matt Cain cemented himself forever amongst the game’s giants.

Cain fired baseball’s 22nd perfect game in history last night in a 10-0 Giants victory against the Houston Astros. You had to figure coming into the year that if anyone was going to get perfect game’d, the Astros were as prime of a candidate as anyone.

Cain is right about where we thought he would be. He’s always had dominant, heavy stuff. He’s San Francisco’s best pitcher this season and there isn’t really a close second.

It was the second perfect-game this season, and since I’ve had this blog in operation there’s actually now been five.

“I’ve been workin’ all night, man What’s a young kid gotta do to blow up

Jay Bruce hit his 7th home run of the season yesterday, a game-winning drive to the seats in right center. The home run was his fourth in four games. He’s the first Red to do that since Adam Dunn in 2008. The Reds come from behind to beat Houston 6-5, winning the must-have series and heading into a Monday day-off.

I found a great read after the game yesterday while listening to the postgame. It’s good to hear Bruce acknowledge that we’ve been here before with one of Bruce’s “rare-air moments” as Paul Daughterty refers to Bruce’s unbelievable hot streak.

“I’m feeling now like I’m ready to make the right move on the right pitch,’’ Bruce said Sunday. “In years past, if I hit home runs, I did. If I didn’t, I didn’t. I didn’t know why.’’

“Earlier in my career, I never really knew anything but that I was good at baseball,’’ he said. “Up here. everyone’s good at baseball. Still, no matter what I did, I expected more.’’ Problem was, Bruce said Sunday, he didn’t do the work needed to satisfy his expectations. He’d been good his whole life without it.

Bruce goes on to talk about a refined approach and some of the other ideologies that have made him successful thus far this year. In fact, he speaks like a ten-year veteran with one quote in the story.

“Always remember,’’ he said, “that the game doesn’t owe you anything.’’

If Bruce can keep up anything close to this production, he’ll be mentioned in conversations with the game’s elite. That’s been the hope and expectation for him all along.

It’s funny to hear Joey Votto in the post-game show talking about how he hopes that Jay Bruce has figured it out. To be honest, if he truly has his ceiling is higher than that of Votto. And it won’t even be close. And the Reds will go running away with the NL Central.

Game 21, 2012: Reds make it a Perfect Saturday at the Ball Park

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Better Off Red] [Mark Sheldon]

Couple of random take home points about yesterday’s game, which was one of my favorite Reds games I’ve been to:

  1. It was the best game that Jay Bruce has had that I’ve been to, if you’re not counting his MLB debut. The home run was a bomb. The defensive double-play assist. The double down the line. Four RBI’s. Huge day for Bruce.
  2. Johnny Cueto was dominant, and working quickly. The game was just 2 hours, 23 minutes. He went seven shutout innings and after the first he never really was under any type of duress.
  3. Zach Cozart made the play of the year–probably the finest play I’ve seen made live at a game. From the seat of his pants. Check out that play HERE.
  4. We got to see Aroldis Chapman pitch. He struck out Chris Snyder with a 99 MPH fastball to end the game.
  5. The Reds wore the red jerseys for the rare Saturday, 4:00 PM start home game. I like the 4:00 PM start quite a bit I think. I like 1:00 PM Saturday home games more, but the Reds seem to do it once a year, tops.
  6. We saw the same guy in the crowd catch two consecutive foul balls in this one. Never seen that before.
  7. This game came during Mike Trout’s return to the big leagues and prior to watching Bryce Harper’s MLB debut later on in the night.
  8. The drive to Cincinnati seems a lot shorter after driving to Wrigleyville last weekend.
  9. I appreciate Logan Ondrusek almost beyond words. It’s great having a guy with that kind of stuff in our bullpen.
  10. [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DiamondHoggers/status/196269480123441153"]
  11. This was one of the best Saturday’s I’ve ever spent at the park. It reminded me so much of this April 27, 2002 game I was on hand for. It’s funny because I didn’t realize it was about 10 years to the day.
  12. I got to the ballpark and somehow the batteries in my camera died. All the pictures below are off my iPhone.

Game 20, 2012: Reds Spirited comeback Falls Short

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Redleg Nation] [Better Off Red] [Crawfish Boxes] [Houston Chronicle] [Hal McCoy]

This was one of those rare games of which I did not see a single pitch. We had an NFL Draft party at our house, and when I got the alert on my iPhone that the Reds were down 6-0, I didn’t even bother flipping the game over to check the score.

This team is just flat-out not getting it done right now. There’s no mixing words and no other way to describe it. Mike Leake came out and got hammered around the yard again.

The Reds fought back with a spirited abandon. And I got several text messages about Scott Rolen hitting four balls directly on the screws and going 0 for 4. The comeback died in the 9th, but I think the four unanswered (along with what sounds like it could have been a lot more) bode well for us heading into the weekend.

Wandy Rodriguez continued what has been a career of success against the Reds. Six innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts. He’s got two wins and a 1.72 ERA now. And the Reds are just a game ahead of the putrid Astros.

I’m not fully blaming Dusty Baker–even though he says and does stupid things–but the Reds have got to show some response here soon and play hard for the guy. This is more of what we saw last year. And what is Baker doing hitting Jay Bruce 7th in this lineup? I don’t care if it’s a left-handed pitcher. It’s stupidity. Bruce has OPS’d almost at as high of a clip against southpaws. This is a manager not reviewing his data closely enough.

We’re headed to the ballpark today, and I am very confident we’ll see a win and the Reds will close out this series with two in a row over Houston. I’ve never been more sure in fact. Johnny Cueto is on the bump, and the Astros oppose with a guy I think the Reds will absolutely eat alive.

Highlights:

Wandy Rodriguez continues his mastery of the Reds

Todd Frazier RBI triple

Jay Bruce homers (5) to center field in the 9th inning

Devin Mesoraco goes back-to-back

There’s no longer a reason to hate the Houston Astros

Yesterday around the time you were walking to unlock your car in your work parking lot, the Houston Astros traded Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero to the Kansas City Royals for the one thing slightly above the dreaded “future considerations”. They got a minor leaguer you’ve never heard of to go with more minor league caliber guys you’ve never heard of and a player to be named later who will end up being another minor leaguer you’ve never heard of.

And suddenly I realized something: there’s no longer any reason for me to hate the Houston Astros.

This deep rooted angst started sometime ago in my childhood when they played at the old Astrodome on that dreadful carpet with those dreadful uniforms. It endured through Eric Yelding and Darryl Kile, peaked through the Killer B’s (Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Derek Bell) and later on Lance Berkman. With Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Billy Wagner and Andy Pettite randomly sprinkled in there; I absolutely hated this team and seeing them come to town to ruin everything my Reds had at whatever point in the season we were at.

These Astros are a laughingstock, and it’s kind of sad. I will be officially retiring my ‘F–k the Astros’ tag on this blog, and we will be holding a memorial service that is long overdue for this once proud franchise. Food and refreshments will be served at the home of former Houston Chronicle writer Richard Justice’s home afterwards for friends of the dearly departed.

Next year they’re moving over to the American League where they can even become less relevant to us all–and they’re going to go with new uniforms. They’ve still got Wandy Rodriguez who was probably the last of the Mohicans in the sense of the Houston crew I enjoyed hating so much over the years. And I’m fairly certain before he’s shipped out of town for a couple of AA players he’ll shut the Reds out in Cincinnati one last time to serve as one final parting gift in this hateful relationship that they allowed me to have for so long. Largely, the Astros 2012 season will be comprised of donating wins to the more fortunate around baseball and they’ll be extremely lucky not to drop 100 games in the upcoming campaign.

The Houston Astros are the one-legged man entered in an ass kicking contest now. They’re the girl in the wrestling match. They’re going to market to you José Altuve and Jimmy Paredes. And they’re going to fail miserably at being compelling. The Houston Astros have become a factory of sadness that shames the proud era that the Brad Ausmus’s, the Mike Hampton’s, and the Richard Hidalgo’s once ushered. Speaking of, please try and tell me that Hidalgo wasn’t a PED user. Has a more ordinary man ever hit 44 HR and driven in 122? Wade Miller, Scott Elarton, and Octavio Dotel can all join the kiss my ass club as well. I hated Lima time in 1999.

The hate is gone, and a season long celebration of a life that has now ended will commence. The Reds get the Astros 15 times in 2012. Just a few more looks at that short poke porch in left field with that stupid wall and that ridiculous hill in center field named after the front office executive who was the architect of all those teams who tortured me through my childhood and into my adult life.

The revenge will be rich I figure, and the suffering for those in that hot armpit of a city will be long. It’s nice to finally be on the other side and it’s amazing how simple perspective can change hate.