Geoff Geary and the Florida sun allowed the Cardinals to tie today’s Grapefruit League game at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Wesley Wright and Jeff Fulchino shut them down in the final two innings, and Michael Bourn‘s single up the middle in the ninth gave the Astros their sixth win in a row.
Right now, we’re winning games in the same fashion we were losing them just a week ago. Back then, Jason Michaels losing the ball in the sun or Jason Smith sprinting across the diamond to drop a pop-up while trying to backhand it just feet from Chris Johnson, whose ball it clearly was, would have spelled disaster.
Today, they were mere bumps in the road.
Of particular note during this streak is Bourn, who went 1-for-3 today with two walks. Bourn’s numbers during this stretch are perhaps the single-most encouraging part of the Astros’ Spring Training: .333/.389/.400 with 2 SB in 4 attempts, 2 BB, 2 K, 5 RBI, and 4 R over six games. It’s a small sample size, to be sure, but holds a lot of promise. If he can continue to get on base at anything near a .350 clip or above, the Astros’ offense will succeed.
For the first time in 2009, I’m disappointed to have a day off.
That day off will be spent by at least one person in Astros camp, Danny Graves, to look for a new job. Graves was assigned to minor league camp, and had until Tuesday to decide whether to accept the assignment or to ask for his release. He asked for, and was granted, his release.
Though his spring wasn’t great, neither was it as terrible as the 6.43 ERA suggests. First of all, he was only given seven innings to show his wares, and though he gave up five earned runs in those seven innings, none were from home runs. He also only issued one walk, didn’t hit any batsmen, and struck out three for a DICE of 2.57 despite a WHIP of 1.71.
Unfortunately, given human nature, most people will see the high WHIP and ERA and fail to give him a chance to show his wares. But based on his ability to keep his walks, HBP, and HR to an absolute minimum – even over such a short amount of time – should at least warrant him the ability to go out and show someone what he can do.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the last we heard from Graves.
This morning, the Astros signed left-handed pitcher Neal Musser, formerly of the Kansas City Royals, to a minor league contract. It begs the question: Are we trying to sign every left-hander that spent time in Kansas City’s system in 2008?
Between Tyler Lumsden, Rule 5 draftee Gilbert De La Vara, and now Musser, it certainly does seem like it.
I didn’t know much about Musser, so I headed over to BaseRef to check him out. He’s only thrown 25.2 innings in the big leagues, and has gone 0-1 with a 4.21 ERA, 111 ERA+, and a 1.831 WHIP with 19 strikeouts and 15 walks. Not electric, it would seem, but in such a small sample size, it’s tough to determine.
His AAA numbers are a little better. Beginning in 2004, he has thrown 317 AAA innings in the Mets, Royals, and Diamondbacks systems. Though not all statistics, such as wins, are available for these years, the rough breakdown is this:
15-21 (.417), 14 saves, 4.20 ERA, 1.429 WHIP, 248 K, 144 BB, 28 HR
Again, not exactly a world-beater. And at 28 years old, we pretty much know what we’re getting. I’m not one to discount the value of left-handed pitching, but Musser seems a bit of an odd pick-up at this point in his career. Certainly, he lacks the upside of young lefties like Lumsden, De La Vara, and Wesley Wright.
But that’s the beauty of minor league pitching, especially in a weak farm system: You have to throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and hope some of it sticks.