Hours after yesterday’s 12-3 debacle of a loss to the Cubs – when veteran starter Russ Ortiz couldn’t pitch adequately enough to give the bullpen any much-needed rest – both starting pitchers were no longer with their respective teams.
The Astros had released Russ Ortiz, and the Cubs had traded Kevin Hart, along with RHP Jose Ascaino and IF Josh Harrison, to the Pirates for Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow. Grabow is an immediate improvement to the Cubs’ bullpen, and Gorzelanny provides a very interesting starting option for the Cubs, who seem laced with very interesting starting options.
It has to be the fastest turnaround for two starting pitchers from the same game to get removed from their teams. But for Ortiz, it was time. It was beyond time.
It had reached a point where, when he or Mike Hampton was on the mound, I expected the Astros to lose. Both were nice, cheap pickups in the offseason for a team with limited cash. Both had the potential to be very good starters for the Astros. Neither panned out. I’m guessing Hampton is on a short leash – if he is ineffective in his next start, it will become Yorman Bazardo time. The Astros are eager to see Bazardo pitch at the major league level (which he has done before, but not terribly effectively.)
Bazardo is 9-4 in Round Rock, with a 2.76 ERA, and has only allowed two earned runs over 15 innings in his last two starts. He’s not a strikeout pitcher like Bud Norris, and might be a nice change-of-pace in the rotation behind his former Round Rock rotation-mate.
Replacing Ortiz on the big league roster is Samuel Gervacio, who hasn’t been particularly effective of late. In July, he had an ERA of 6.21 and a WHIP of 1.494.
Then again, Ortiz and Hampton have combined to go 2-6 in July, with a 9.89 ERA and a WHIP of 2.093.
If anything, I’m surprised to see Ortiz go sooner than Hampton. Because, though he’s struggled in July, Russ Ortiz looked awfully good as recently as June, a month during which he pitched 33 innings, struck out 24, walked 7, and went 1-1 with an ERA of 1.91 and a WHIP of 1.030. It was the pleasant surprise of Russ Ortiz’s June that made one of the biggest differences in ending at .500 at the All-Star break.
But I’m not sad to see him go. No sir. Not even a little bit.
Speaking of Ortiz
You’ve no doubt heard by now that David “Big Papi” Ortiz tested positived for PEDs in 2003. At this point, the only reason I even care is to see how Red Sox fans will react toward this news the way they reacted to Alex Rodriguez’s and Manny Ramirez’s suspensions. My favorite Red Sox fan doesn’t disappoint – sparing no sympathy for Ortiz.
To say I don’t care about PEDs would be taking it too far; but I realize that the game was tainted, and was being played on a level playing field. No one gets the benefit of the doubt. The Astros clubhouse has been riddled with steroid users, both confirmed – Ken Caminiti – mostly confirmed – Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada – and suspected – Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez.
If not every star player took steroids over the past twenty-five years, then I’m convinced that every star player from the Dominican Republic did. Excuse me for that, but it’s just gotten ridiculous. I know no one reads my “What Happened Was…” down to the bottom, but my disdain for the players from that particular island should surprise no one who ever has.
The only thing I hate seeing is a double standard. Homerism. And Julie is speaking well for Red Sox Nation, who have a tendency to be awfully forgiving of their own players’ transgressions.
Of course, if you’re a Minnesota Twins fan, no doubt your reaction to the Ortiz news is: “Yeah, no s**t, eh?”
Cecil Cooper is Amazing
It was easy to miss, but in the top of the second inning in yesterday’s game, with the game still scoreless and Russ Ortiz having just recorded three straight strikeouts, Cecil Cooper flexed his awesome managerial might.
ever know. Unfortunately, he’s forgotten more about
baseball than he ever knew, also.
With no outs, Hunter Pence on first, and Geoff Blum on second, Cooper asked Jeff Keppinger to lay down a sacrifice bunt to get runners into scoring position. Cooper is bizarrely in love with the sacrifice bunt, and uses it in virtually any situation, but this one in particular was a thing of beauty, because it would give the Astros two runners in scoring position, one out, and Humberto Quintero and Russ Ortiz up to bat.
Yes, that’s correct. Cooper was willing to sacrifice Keppinger’s bat for the awe-inducing power and performance of Humberto Quintero and Russ Ortiz. Quintero was hit by a pitch during his at-bat, loading the bases for Cooper’s favorite power hitter, Ortiz, who shockingly – I mean shockingly – grounded into a double play to end the inning. When you can’t sacrifice a guy to get ducks on the pond for your backup catcher and pitcher, what kind of real team are you?
In the following inning, Michael Bourn laced a leadoff double, and I’m pretty sure Jose Cruz had to forcibly restrain Cooper to prevent him from calling for Kazuo Matsui to sacrifice him to third. Instead, Matsui hit a two-run home run.
Warm Body Needed in Corpus Christi
Since Erick Abreu was promoted to Round Rock, the Hooks have just 23 players on their roster. In other words, they’re short a pitcher. With an over-extended staff, it’s vital that they get someone soon – particularly with a doubleheader scheduled in Midland tomorrow. An unnamed reliever is expected to get the start in the nightcap, but they need to get someone soon. The most likely candidate, from my point of view, is Chia-Jen Lo.
Lo isn’t starter material (the Jethawks are dangerously low on those), but he’s been dominant as a reliever. The potential closer-in-waiting and offseason signee from Taiwan holds a 0.91 WHIP, a 1.78 ERA, and 36 K over just 25.1 innings at Lancaster. He has thrown 18 times in Corpus Christi already, so he knows the league.
I Guess I Missed It
So apparently, I missed it, but Thomas “Tip” Fairchild was re-signed by the Astros. He’s cooling his heels in Lancaster these days. He pitched 6.1 innings on July 27, striking out 5 and allowing 5 earned runs on 9 hits. Fairchild had Tommy John surgery a few years
ago, and if he can show he’s recovered, I think he’s still got tremendous upside.
What Happened Was…
Round Rock Express (AAA) – The Round Rock Express were set to take on the Memphis Redbirds (STL), but Mother Nature had other plans. Postponed due to rain.
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) – No one is running away with the Texas League South in the second half of the season, and the Hooks seem determined to stay in the picture, defeating the San Antonio Missions (SDP), 5-3. Once again, it was OF Drew Locke going yard and collecting 2 RBI to put him just one shy of Hunter Pence‘s record pace; it was 2B Drew Meyer hitting in his thirteenth straight game, the longest streak by any Hook this season; it was C Jason Castro going 3-for-5 with two doubles to improve his line to .309/.358/.417; and it was Tyler Lumsden earning the win, allowing just one hit in 1.2 innings of work. Lumsden has started to look really good at times, and might just be turning into a nice pickup by Wade.
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) – It was all Lancaster, all the time, en route to a 9-0 rout of the High Desert Mavericks (SEA). OF Jonathan Gaston went without a home run (or a hit, for that matter), but Koby Clemens was back in left field, and hit his 11th home run of the season. For good measure, he added a triple. But it was starter Shane Wolf who drew the headlines on this one, striking out 9 Mavericks in 6 innings of work, walking just one and scattering 4 hits, just one of them for extra-bases. High Desert’s power hitter, Joe Dunigan, was 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts.
Lexington Legends (A) – The Legends had a scheduled day off before beginning an eight-game road trip at the Charleston RiverDogs (with red-hot Corban Joseph) and the Greenville Drive.
Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) – I guess I’ll have to settle for a split against the Lowell Spinners (BOS), who won 8-4 against some woeful pitching. I’m unclear on what exactly happened to knock Spinners starter Alex Wilson out of the game. He cruised through three innings, facing the minimum nine hitters, allowing no hits,walks, or runs; and striking out one, lowering his ERA to 0.50. But then, in the fourth inning, he was gone. OF Russell Dixon provided the only real fireworks for Tri-City, going 2-for-4 with a home run and 3 RBI.
Greeneville Astros (R) – The Greeneville Astros’ game against the Bristol Sox (CWS) was postponed due to rain.
DSL Astros (R) – The DSL Astros’ game against the DSL Braves (ATL) was postponed due to rain.
GCL Astros (R) – Despite giving up 5 runs in the final 2 innings, the GCL Astros defeated the GCL Nationals (WSN) 8-5. 18 hits for the Astros, so plenty of offensive production, but the nod goes to SS Luis Bryan, who was 3-for-5 with a home run.