Nevarez Pitches

It was only a third of an inning, but 6’5″ 220 lb. reliever Matthew Nevarez threw in his first game within the Astros organization yesterday, allowing a hit and recording a strikeout – the last out the Lexington Legends would record in their 7-5 loss to the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS).

Along with Round Rock second baseman Jose Vallejo, Nevarez was a part of the trade that sent Ivan Rodriguez to Texas.

The most puzzling part of this trade to me, quite honestly, is watching the reactions of Houston fans.  I really and truly don’t understand how anyone can think that this trade was a bad move.  Pudge had a .280 on-base percentage.  That means that when he went to the plate, there was a 28% chance that he’d get on base via either a hit, a walk, or by getting hit by a pitch.

That’s not bad; that’s terrible.  Last season, Michael Bourn was heavily maligned for his failures at the plate.  He had a .288 on-base percentage.  Jose Cruz, Jr. was ridden out of town on a rail after posting a .283.  The Pirates’ Jason Jaramillo had the next-lowest OBP for a starting NL Central catcher this season, and that was 37 points higher – .317.

The fact that we were able to get anything for Rodriguez is a testament to our front office.  We got two young players, at least one of whom has some upside; and potentially a third.

That, dear friends, is a win.

Houston’s Dallas

“There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours
sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a
city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on
her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.”

–Coach Bobby Finstock, Teen Wolf

It might not be wise to play cards with Dallas Keuchel, the Astros’ 7th-round pick in this year’s draft, but it’s not a bad idea to play baseball with him.  Keuchel is a 6’3″ left-hander out of the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, and so far he’s been a very pleasant surprise in his tenure for the Tri-City ValleyCats.


1-2 in his first 8 games (all but one of them starts), he boasts a 1.94 ERA and a striking 0.935 WHIP.  He ‘s allowed just 3 walks and struck out 30 batters in 41.2 innings, and opposing hitters are .228 against him.  If he can keep this up, he’s going to be very exciting to watch.

Back in the Sadler Again

On August 18, the Astros signed Billy Sadler, a free agent pitcher released by the San Francisco Giants on August 10.  Sadler has been with Triple-A Fresno for all of 2009, but has spent parts of two seasons in the big leagues.  In 2007, he broke camp with the Giants, but struggled with his control and earned a demotion.  In 2008, he was called up late to replace Brad Hennessey. 

BillySadler.jpgWith a fastball in the low nineties and a curveball he throws to keep hitters off-balance, Sadler has looked very good at times.  He seems to have added a slider and a split-finger, and still throws his changeup for strikes.

He’ll be 28 soon, so don’t expect him to get heaps better, but this is a very nice low-risk signing by the Astros, and he could provide depth late into the season.  See below for details of his first start for the GCL Astros.

What Happened Was…

Round Rock Express (AAA) – An 8-2 loss to the Las Vegas 51s (TOR) was the 4th loss by the Express in their last 5 games.  It stands to reason that their season made a downturn when pitchers Bud Norris and Yorman Bazardo were called up, but this team has gone from bad to worse.  Their Elimination # now stands at 3, and the only way that can feel good is if they win tonight, effectively knocking the 51s out of the playoffs first.  1B Mark Saccomanno continued his hot second half with a home run, but also showed himself to be the butcher in the field he’s always been with an error.  SS Tommy Manzella was 1-for-2 with 2 walks and 2 stolen bases.  Josh Muecke earned a hard-luck loss, giving up 5 runs in 5.2 innings – none of them earned.  Chris Sampson gave up three runs of his own in an inning of work.  His ERA since being demoted to Round Rock now stands at 22.50.

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) – It took 12 innings for the Arkansas Travelers (LAA) to score their second run of the night to beat the Corpus Christi Hooks 2-1.  Kenny Baugh pitched well, though not dominantly, earning no strikeouts in 6 innings of work, allowing a single run on 3 hits.  Daniel Meszaros was brilliant, allowing no runs and two hits in three innings of work, with 6 strikeouts.  3B Aaron Boone was 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.  Several Hooks had decent nights at the plate, despite the lack of runs.  SS Wladimir Sutil was 2-for-4; DH/OF Andrew Locke and C Jason Castro were 2-for-5.

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) – The Jethawks put together 4 runs in the top of the second, cruising to a 5-2 victory over the Lake Elsinore Storm (SDP).  The win keeps them three games behind the High Desert Mavericks (SEA) for the California League South Division.  The victory came in complete-game fashion for Christopher Salamida, who struck out 5 and allowed 4 hits.  Both runs came on a James Darnell home run in the first inning.  C Koby Clemens was 3-for-4, a home run away from a cycle; OF T.J. Steele was 2-for-3 to bring his season line up to .353/.393/.578.

Lexington Legends (A) – Despite stellar pitching from Ross Seaton, Jordan Lyles, and Brad Dydalewicz this season, the Legends’ offense simply hasn’t been able to make anything happen.  A 7-5 loss to the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS) yesterday keeps them squarely in the basement of the Sally North Division.  Kyle Godfrey, who’s been fairly outstanding since being promoted from Tri-City, earned the loss with a rare bad outing, striking out 2 and giving up 2 runs on 2 hits in 1.2 innings.  His ERA for the season “balloons” to 2.02.  8 of Lexington’s 9 starters combined for 10 hits, with only OF Steve Brown going hitless.

Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) – Dallas Keuchel earned his first win yesterday, giving up 2 runs in 5 innings against the Staten Island Yankees (NYY).  He picked up a little help from his friends, including 2B Jose Altuve, who was 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk, three stolen bases, and three runs scored.  The ValleyCats eked out 7 runs on 8 hits, only two of them for extra bases: Doubles by 3B Erik Castro and DH/3B Jhonny Medrano.  At 20-37, the ValleyCats are dead last not just in the Stedler Division, but in the entire New York-Penn League.  But they’re getting a couple of nice individual performances that are certainly encouraging.

Greeneville Astros (R) – There’s very little in baseball more exciting than the “Battle of the ‘villes.”  I just made that up, but Greeneville and the Danville Braves (ATL) do seem to have their share of very good games against one another, and yesterday’s 3-2 Danville win was no exception.  The Astros’ hitters were absolutely shut down by the Braves’ staff (when have I heard that before?), scoring two unearned runs on just two hits.  Murillo Gouvea earned the loss, striking out 4 in 3 relief innings, giving up just one hit and one unearned loss.  First-round pick Jiovanni Mier was 0-for-2 with 2 walks earned.

GCL Astros (R) – While the Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez was helping the big leaguers over the Marlins for a big series win, the teams’ Gulf Coast League affiliates battled it out in decidedly-different fashion, as the Marlins downed the Astros, 8-1.   The Astros, already eliminated from the postseason, had as many errors as hits (2).  Only DH/C Jose Lopez managed to get on base more than once, going 1-for-2 with a walk, as a quartet of Marlins farmhands combined for the two-hit victory.  Astros starter Billy Sadler, who the Astros signed as a free agent two days ago, struck out the side in the first inning and left the game.

DSL Astros (R) – The DSL playoff picture is very nearly set, with the DSL Yankees2 and Twins vying for one remaining spot; the Mariners and Cardinals for the other.  The Giants and Rangers2 have already locked up their spots; so no one really cared all that much when the Astros and Rangers1 were rained out and didn’t play.


  1. renaudtn

    I’m pretty surprised myself about these fans’ reaction… I wonder sometime if I watch the same ball games as them. This was the best trade Houston has made this year. Now I see myself rooting for the Rangers…it feels awkward.

  2. Cockroach

    Y’know, as much as I was a “sign Pudge!” supporter back in Spring Training – and I’d likely make the same deal under the same circumstances again – I honestly thought the trade was a very smart move, too. Two (or three) young prospects, at least one of whom looks very intriguing, in exchange for a non-producing veteran free-agent-to-be with ready replacements (Towles & Coste) already on hand? I still think Pudge was worth the risk back in the spring, but the trade gives more return on investment than merely making him another “well, that didn’t work out” write-off, a la Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton.

    Despite living in Hog-obsessed Arkansas, I hate the Razorbacks, so I never knew anything about Dallas Keuchel before the Astros drafted him. I’ve been in the state long enough to claim it as a second home, though, so I’m rooting for the kid from my new home to make good with my native hometown team.

    Also going to the Arkansas Travelers game tonight vs. the Hooks. Very much looking forward to my first glimpse of Jason Castro, and hoping that Aaron Boone is still around, despite Alyson Footer’s comment last night that he’s ready to move up to Round Rock.

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