An interesting article over at Hooks Insider. Greg Rajan, of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, is almost always informative. He’s a great resource for anyone who wants to try and follow the Houston minor leagues. This article is called “Astros’ New Farm-System Philosophy.”
Once I got over my initial, cynical, response (“The Astros have a farm system philosophy?”), I gave it a read. It’s something of a much-deserved love letter to Bobby Heck. Heck, one of the Astros’ biggest acquisitions of the last five years, is the team’s director of scouting. He used to cash paychecks written by the Milwaukee Brewers, whose system has pushed out guys like Ricky Weeks, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Yovani Gallardo – all drafted by Heck.
The new philosophy, created by Heck, is essentially two-fold. First, the scouting process itself is much more in-depth, so that on Draft Day, the Houston front office is exceptionally well-informed on the available players. Second, and this is the interesting part:
“What we’re trying to put in place is guys who determine their own pace
to the big leagues. We let the player tell us when he’s ready to move
up to the next level. The two guys who’ve embraced that are (Jason) Castro and
(Daniel) Meszaros. Those guys have seized their opportunity.”
In previous years, the Astros’ farm system was a kind of paint-by-numbers. Player A begins in Rookie Ball, moves to low A or A ball the following year. If he was particularly well-regardeed, he might play on the A-Advanced team, which experienced a lot of liquidity. The following year, it was either more of the same, or on to AA ball. After that, three things could happen: a player could move up to AAA, down to A-Advanced, or linger at AA.
The A-Advanced team (which was the Salem Avalanche from 2003-2008) generally felt like a bunch of guys who hadn’t made it in Double-A (which has been Corpus Christi since 2005. Before that, it was the Round Rock Express. The Express, of course, are now our Triple-A affiliate; but while that team was in New Orleans, Round Rock was in the Texas League.)
Bud Norris, who recently made his debut as a starter by blanking out the Cardinals, is the first – and, possibly, only – player from the 2005-2007 drafts to make the Major Leagues for the Astros.
Nice Seeing You, Send Us A Postcard
In last night’s Twitter feed, Alyson Footer made this Tweet:
Astros option gervacio to Round Rock. Call up Paulino.
Samuel Gervacio came up as part of an effort to bolster the fatigued bullpen. He didn’t throw a single inning. While Bobby Heck might think that the organization now embraces younger players, no one has mentioned it to Cecil Cooper.
Felipe Paulino will start tonight against the San Francisco Giants and Jonathan Sanchez.
Paulino has struggled at the Major League level, going 2-5 with a 7.04 ERA and a 5.54 FIP this season. Of course, a terribly-unlucky .377 BABIP doesn’t help much, but even with a .274 BABIP in Round Rock, he’s posted a FIP of 4.43. He’s an organizational player who should never really amount to much – outside of 2005, which he split between the SAL Lexington Legends and the NYPL Tri-City ValleyCats – he’s never had a WHIP lower than 1.357. That mark was set in 2007 with the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Like His Life Depended On It
Watching Mike Hampton on the mound last night made me wonder if releasing Russ Ortiz wasn’t the best decision Ed Wade has made since coming to the Astros. Ortiz had a monster June, but when things looked like business as usual in July, Wade released him – hours after a poor start against the Cubs.
Hampton hasn’t had a monster anything, and seemed equally as likely – if not more likely – to lose his job if he continued to pitch the way he had been. There’s very little doubt in my mind that last night, he was playing for his job.
Not only have the Astros already gotten 105 innings out of Hampton – the most he’s pitched in a season since 2004 – but releasing Ortiz seems as if it might have shaken the rest of the staff, particularly Hampton, into getting into line. Sometimes, you need to send a message. If last night is any indication, message received.
Still, reading Gene Duffey’s gamer, I couldn’t help but be startled by one quote from Hampton:
“So many times I’ve been one pitch away from a quality start,” said
Hampton, who returned to the Astros this season after pitching for them
from 1994-99. “I made that pitch tonight and all that emotion came out,
to see all that hard work pay off.”
Mr. Hampton, on what planet have you been one pitch away from a quality start “so many times” this season? The way I see it, you’ve often been fifteen or sixteen pitches from a quality start. More frequently, 40-55 pitches away.
I was also a little startled to read this quote from Cecil Cooper:
“You’ve got to hope he makes a mistake,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said of facing Cain.
Now, I don’t want to diminish anything about Matt Cain. He’s a terrific starter. But that isn’t Walter Johnson up there. It isn’t Pedro Martinez in his prime. There are a handful of pitchers that you have to “hope he makes a mistake,” and Matt Cain isn’t one of them.
The fact that the Astros hitters got 8 hits off of Cain, 5 of them for extra bases, and two for home runs, should speak for itself. Did Matt Cain make 8 mistakes? If so, was it a result of extra hoping by the Astros hitters?
Delusion – Not Just a River in Delusionville
Ever wonder why “baseball people” tend to ignore fans’ suggestions and questions? Wonder no more:
Catch The Fever
Here’s how the Astros’ catchers are looking this season:
So as to protect my reader
s who access the blog while at work, I’m burying today’s cheesecake behind a link.
Jennifer Love Hewitt, playing tennis in a bikini and freaking wedge sandals. Jennifer has long been crazy, but God bless her for being so completely and utterly hopeless. This is a girl who reeks of desperation to be in the press, at any cost.
What Happened Was…
Round Rock Express (AAA) – T.J. Burton has managed to make the leap to Triple-A look every bit as awkward and as painful as it could possibly be. Following a rare good outing by Jose Capellan (5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), Burton wandered out to the mound. He promptly gave up 3 runs in as many innings, on 4 hits and 3 walks, with 2 strikeouts. He threw in a balk, too, in case no one was paying attention. The Express connected for 11 hits in the 5-2 loss to the Oklahoma City Redhawks (TEX), but not one of them was for extra bases. And not one of them walked. OF Yordany Ramirez led the singles parade, gathering three of them in five tries. OKC DH/1B Justin Smoak, who should have been an Astro, homered in the game.
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) – The Hooks were tired of being smacked around by the Midland Rockhounds (OAK), and decided to do a little smacking themselves, to the tune of a 12-5 win. 17 Hooks hits, combined with 3 Midland errors, helped the runners keep moving around the basepaths. Another solid relief performance by Chia-Jen Lo, who struck out two and allowed just a hit in 1.2 innings, and another home run by OF Drew Locke, who added an outfield assist. Seven different Hooks had doubles, including two by SS Wladimir Sutil, who was 4-for-6 on the night.
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) – The entire California League had a scheduled day off yesterday. The Jethawks are home against the High Desert Mavericks tonight.
Lexington Legends (A) – Ross Seaton pitched another Sally League gem, going 6 innings, striking out 5, walking none, and giving up 5 hits but no runs. Daniel Urckfitz earned his 11th save in the Legends’ 3-1 defeat of the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). 2B Albert Cartwright had an uncharacteristically-good day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double.
Lexington Legends (A) – The Legends fought back hard in the second game of the double-header, but a five-run 4th inning proved to be too much to overcome, as they fell 6-5 to the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). Albert Cartwright continued his hot day, going 2-for-4 again, matching the numbers of OF Steve Brown.
Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) – The resumption of the previously-suspended game against the Oneonta Tigers (DET) ended with Tri-City on top, 4-1. Nathan Pettus bended – walking 3 and giving up a hit in 2.2 innings – but didn’t break, as he earned the win without letting a run score. OF J.D. Martinez stayed hot, going 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI.
Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) – The nightcap of the double-header was a different story. The Tri-City offense went home early, and the pitching wasn’t far behind, as they fell to the Oneonta Tigers (DET) 10-0. 3B Erik Castro flashed the leather on two errors, and OF Jacob Goebbert was 1-for-2 at the plate, with a double and one of Tri-City’s two walks. Oneonta’s Clemente Mendoza handled the ValleyCats in the complete-game shutout, and my least-favorite Astro, Scott Migl, even made an appearance. Whenever he’s on the mound, you know you’re in trouble, and last night was no different, as he allowed 3 hits and 2 walks in a single inning of work, leading to 4 earned runs, inflating his ERA to 14.54.
Greeneville Astros (R) – The Appalachian League had the day off. Greeneville is at home tonight against the Bluefield Orioles (BAL).
GCL Astros (R) – A scheduled day off for the Astros, who are back in action tonight against the the GCL Nationals (WSN).
DSL Astros (R) – A scheduled day off for these Astros, too. Back in action tonight against the DSL Rangers2 (TEX).
I’ve Got Some Questions To Ask Scott Migl
Namely, why is he so terrible?
Still, this article was probably a little more fair to the hometown kid out of Texas A&M drafted in the 34th round this June.
Q: How did your experience at St. Pius High School influence your career?
was a member of two state championship teams at St. Pius. Also, we made
the state semifinals my sophomore and senior years. I really began
developing as a senior. This opened the door for options in my baseball
I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say that Migl could not pitch St. Pius to a state championship anymore. Yes, folks, he’s really that bad.