I got word out of Round Rock this morning that Chris Johnson was moved to the Disabled List retroactive to April 14, but is “doing fine.”
J.R. Towles left last night’s game with a “very minor head injury” and shouldn’t miss any more time.
In other news, the Phillies organization hired David Newhan as a player-coach at the Triple-A level. You don’t see a lot of player-coaches these days, so that’s kind of neat. Good for him; it’s too bad Cecil Cooper is crazy and wouldn’t give him a chance. Best of luck, David!
Thomas “Tip” Fairchild signed on with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League. They play some high-quality ball there, and are always being scouted, so if he does well there’s a chance he may end up back in the majors.
That’s it for now, except to say that Mark Mulder’s agent, Gregg Clifton, said this morning that “six, seven, or eight teams” are looking at the free agent pitcher. That’s agent-speak, of course, for “The Dodgers are going to sign him.”
Slam of the Night
At around the seventh inning last night, I Tweeted: “You know what’s sad is that, if we win this, I don’t even know what to blog about. Complete lack of snarkiness right now.”
Our good friend Susan, over at Astros Fan in Exile, snapped back: “it is hard to fathom that you might not have anything to blog about!”
Ouch (but true.)
The big winners in WPA (Win Probability Added) last night are:
- Miguel Tejada – .214; You know, if he keeps this up and proves me wrong, I’ll be so ridiculously happy. His current pace is unsustainable, but if he’s learned how to be a contact hitter, I will be thrilled.
- Carlos Lee – .207; 2-for-4 with a 2-run home run, with absolutely no defensive opportunities. That is a perfect scenario for Lee.
- LaTroy Hawkins – .077; I wish he could have done this in the Cubs series, rather than proving all of the
LovableLosers right, but I’ll take it now.
I want one of those green Astros Earth Day hats. I really do. I have no idea why, but I think they’re super sharp.
On February 26th, I profiled Astros pitching prospect Thomas “Tip” Fairchild, who was entering 2009 trying to bounce back from Tommy John surgery he’d undergone in 2007. Unfortunately, his hometown newspaper reported that the Astros released Fairchild.
Oddly, this comes on the heels of what is reportedly one of Fairchild’s best springs. He turned 25 in December, and has fallen to at least fifth, if not lower, among right-handed pitching prospects in the Houston organization. But, to be fair, he had Tommy John surgery.
I’m not very fond of this move, which should come as no surprise to anyone. I think this is the season when the Astros would have been well-served to at least have him begin the season in the Corpus Christi rotation, with a possible promotion to Round Rock’s bullpen if he looked healthy.
He’s staying in Florida to try and audition for another team, but everyone is breaking camp now, which makes it a very tough time for him to catch on with someone. I don’t know if Tip will ever pitch professionally again, but I really hope someone gives him a shot. In the 2006 season, before his surgery, he led all Astros minor leaguers in wins (14), strikeouts (142), and
innings (173), all while carrying the fifth-best ERA, with a 2.45.
If he’s anywhere near his old form, he can still be very productive.
Thomas “Tip” Fairchild isn’t going to top anyone’s list of Prospects to watch in the Astros organization, but there was a time when he was one of the more promising players in the system.
The Astros’ 12th-Round selection in the 2005 Rule 4 Draft – the same class that gave us OF (then-LHP) Brian Bogusevic, SS Tommy Manzella, RHP Chris Blazek, OF Eli Iorg, and C (then-3B) Koby Clemens – out of the University of Southern Maine, Fairchild is an unimpressive 6’2″, 200-pound right-hander.
In that 2005 year, he landed first in Tri-City, where he threw 58.2 mediocre innings, going 3-6 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. But his 63 strikeouts and just 14 walks (though he did plunk six batters) raised a few eyebrows, and he was advanced to Lexington to start the 2006 campaign. There, he was used more-or-less full-time as a starter, and responded with a 1.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 98 strikeouts to just 19 walks in 109 innings.
That prompted his mid-season promotion to Salem, where he continued to throw well. In fact, at the end of the 2006 season, he led all Astros minor leaguers in wins (14), strikeouts (142), and innings (173), all while carrying the fifth-best ERA, with a 2.45.
2007 saw a promotion to Corpus Christi, and the understanding that Round Rock was within reach for him. Then he felt something in his throwing elbow during his first start with the Hooks.
One more tortuous start later, he was done for the season. That “something” that he’d felt had been a torn ligament, and Tip underwent Tommy John surgery that very year.
He spent 2008 back in Corpus Christi, getting shelled as he recovered from the surgery. He threw sixty-one and a third innings, mostly bad ones. But he seemed to be regaining his control and confidence as the year went on.
He was re-learning how to pitch.
2009 will be a watershed year for Fairchild. A player’s second year back from Tommy John surgery is generally regarded as the one during which they’re finally healthy enough to really be evaluated, at least physically.
So, though he’s fallen off of the organizational depth charts, keep an eye on Fairchild. He might turn back into being one to watch.