Jose Altuve swing
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It’s always fun to generate and debate lists. We’ll continue with the All-2000 to Present Astros Lineup.
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C – Brad Ausmus
1B – Lance Berkman
2B – Jose Altuve
3B – Morgan Ensberg
SS – Miguel Tejada
RF – Hunter Pence
LF – Richard Hidalgo
CF – Michael Bourn
DH – Carlos Lee
SP – Roy Oswalt
SP – Roger Clemens
SP – Dallas Keuchel
SP – Andy Pettitte
SP – Colin McHugh
Closer – Billy Wagner
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Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays

This season has seen the Houston Astros fairing on well by dominating almost every game in the MLB. Based on such observations, internal issues could be the only threat to Astros hope of qualifying for the playoffs. It will be a 10-day recovery period for Lance McCullers after being sidelined with lower back discomfort. Such unforeseen circumstances could affect their mode of play because in a two-week period, the Astros has had the fourth member of their rotation hitting the DL. Other players include Charlie Morton with a back injury, Joe Musgrove with a shoulder injury and Dallas Keuchel with a neck injury. You should not forget Collin McHugh’s elbow injuries, which have prevented him from playing this year so far, but sportsbook odds could change upon his return.

 

On Thursday, McCullers played superbly when they visited the Royals. He made eight great hits and only gave up one run on two hits. The back issues seemed to have started affecting the 23-year-old pitcher as soon as he incorporated a bullpen session prior to their game against he Rangers on Tuesday in which he is supposed to start. Therefore, the Houston Astros have elevated their concerns with the right-hander since then. As said by Kaplan, it seems the team is not yet ready to lose both players with a long absence; however, it is eminent that they wll miss several games. In a deeper perspective, the Astros are now cracking their brains to figure out how four of their starters already hit the DL this season.

 

Houston Astros have a game against the Rangers on Tuesday, and even though the team confirmed that Musgrove would start, we are yet to know about the player who will replace McCullers’ rotation spot. We can only have a wild guess that Mike Fiers would be the best option for the Astros because clearly, the team has very few options in their favor.

 

McCullers and Keuchel are big names with unsurpassed capabilities for the team, which makes it difficult to find a suitable substitute unless it is well thought out. Even though the Houston have won 11 games in a row, they have dropped points in the last six games by losing four. While focusing on the four loses only, its pitchers gave up a whooping and disappointing 37 runs, which led to the Angels beating them on Sunday. David Paulino and Michael Feliz combined gave up six runs.

 

So far this season, in all his 13 starts, McCullers has managed to record a 2.58 ERA, which include eighty-nine strikeouts in seventy-six 2/3 innings. Last season, the pitcher started playing late and due to injuries to his elbow and shoulder, he retired his season earlier than the rest. With such circumstances affecting his playing time, the Astros have resorted to giving the picher ample time to recover.

 

Fantasy Impact

When it comes to Fantasy matters, the Astros made the move after McCullers started complaining about some uneasiness in his lower back in the middle of starts and in the course of bullpen sessions. The decision must have been nerve-wracking because, after all, the Astros were not ready to sideline McCullers in the long term. Although he will not play against the Rangers in their next scheduled match, McCullers has been a strong pillar for both the Astros and fantasy owners in equal measure this season.

 

David Strauss, line director at MyBookie.ag

“It was been quite the season for the Astros. They currently are 44-22, with a run score difference of +91. Plus, they are the top team in the American League. Also, they’re the top team with the best winning percentage at .667. Those numbers are extremely good compared to last year’s performance. And last but not least, they stand as the favorite in the online betting odds to win the World Series this year at +425. I don’t see this team losing momentum anytime soon and the midseason will give us a better perspective on where the team will be after the All Star Break.” said David Strauss, line director at MyBookie.ag.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB | Tagged: Houston Astros, Lance McCullers, MLB |

We have teamed up with DraftStreet.com to offer an exclusive free contest to LestersLegends.com readers. The freeroll will have $100 in cash prizes, the top 5 get paid, and it is totally free to sign up. Click here to get in on the action.
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Brett Wallace was hitting .143 before taking the field on April 8th. He collected three hits that day, the first of ten multiple-hit games that he would have over his next 21 games. Wallace has hit .456 over that span.
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The power numbers haven’t followed. Though he hit a home run that day, he hasn’t hit one since. Oddly he had three RBI in his first six games and only six since despite hitting 313 points higher.
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The alarms are ringing for a big-time drop if you look at his BABIP, which at .471 is second only to Matt Holliday’s .492.
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Side note: If you’re interested in checking out BABIP and other interesting statistics, go to www.fangraphs.com.
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While that .471 BABIP is unrealistic, which in turn makes his .382 batting average unrealistic, Wallace has had high BABIP at every level.
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Single-A 2008:  .388
Double-A 2008:  .385
Double-A 2009:  .348
Triple-A 2009 (A’s):  .341
Triple-A 2009 (Cardinals):  .335
Triple-A 2010:  .343

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Even last year when he hit .222 with the Astros his BABIP was .326.
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What makes Wallace’s BABIP this year more impressive is the reduction of his strikeout rate from 34.7 percent to 20.2 percent. He’s putting the ball in play more frequently and he’s still finding the right places to hit the ball.
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I believe his will continue to be an asset in the batting average category. No, he’s not going to hit .380+ all year, but he has the tools to hit north of .300.
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Unfortunately he’s not going to help in the power department. He combined to hit 20 HRs in his three minor league stops in 2009 and 18 in 2010 at the Triple-A level, but he has just three home runs in 233 major league at bats. He may eventually develop into a 15-20 per year home run hitter, but that will take some time to grow into it.
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Brett Wallace won’t be your prototypical fantasy first baseman, but he does have value.
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Also check out Will Jason Kubel Cool Off?


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Carlos Lee’s days of 30+ home run seem like a distant memory. In fact, his HR totals have been in the decline since 2006.
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2006:  37
2007:  32
2008:  28
2009:  26
2010:  24
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While two dozen home runs are nothing to sneeze at, they are not the mark of an elite power hitter anymore. Lee will turn 35 in June so a return to 30 HR territory seems unlikely.
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His power wasn’t the only thing to go in 2010 for Carlos Lee. His streak of four consecutive .300+ seasons came to a crashing end. He didn’t just dip below the mark though, he plummeted by hitting .246. He struggled both at home (.258) and away (.234), in day games (.237) and at night (.251), against righties (.238), and even his .277 average against lefties was well below his .292 career mark.
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He failed to score even 70 runs for the third straight year. He’s averaging 64.3 runs per season over that stretch. Once a quiet double-digit base stealer, Lee has totaled just 12 during that same three-year stretch.
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So we have an outfielder with fleeting power that doesn’t score many runs or pick up steals. Are his days of fantasy relevance over?
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Not so fast. As a career .287 hitter I expect Lee to rebound in that department. He got off to such a slow start hitting .206 in April and May that it’s no wonder he hit just .246.
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There were bright spots though in June and August when Carlos Lee looked like his old self. In June he hit .283 with 13 runs, five HRs, and 20 RBI. In August he hit .288 with 15 runs, five HRs, and 25 RBI.
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His overall RBI total of 89 wasn’t quite up to snuff, as he’s had at least 99 for seven straight years. Considering his batting average, that’s a pretty good number though.
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Another positive is his first base eligibility. Being able to plug him in at 1B or OF is an advantage. Perhaps that, and name recognition, has him a little bloated in fantasy drafts given the age, lack or runs and stolen bases, and diminishing HR and RBI totals. Mock Draft Central has him at 133, which puts him in the 12th round.
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That’s a little early for my tastes, especially considering he could be traded to a contender as a salary dump, where he could be a part-time player, much like Lance Berkman was last year.
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While I don’t think Carlos Lee’s fantasy days are over, I don’t think he’s a good enough value. If he slips in your draft, he’s worth a shot, but don’t pay face value on his past production. Look for someone with a little more upside.
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What’s your take on Carlos Lee?
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Also check out:


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Maybe has-been is too strong of a word for Berkman, but his HR total has dipped three straight years, and his numbers took a pretty sharp decline last year thanks to injuries. He’s no longer considered a second round pick. Even the third round seems premature for my 11th ranked first basemen (click to see rankings).

His 2009 dip is actually not that uncommon for Berkman. His even year/odd year splits since 2002 are staggering.

Even year averages:  .309, 104.8 runs, 36.5 HRs, 119 RBIs, 9.5 SBs
Odd year aveages:  ..283, 88.5 runs, 27 HRs, 89.3 RBIs, 5.8 SBs

If his eight-year trend were to continue, his fantasy owners would be in store for a big payday. For a guy that turns 34 tomorrow (happy early birthday Lance), I don’t quite see that happening. At his age, injuries are more likely to pop up, and you’re more likely to take longer to recover from them, especially as the season wears on. 

The good news if you’re trying to draft him, he’s historically does the bulk of his damage in the first half of the season. His  OPS (.994 compared to .937) is significantly better before the All-Star game. His AB/HR ratio is 15.3 before the break and 18.9 after it. He also has 0.76 RBIs per game before the break and 0.63 after it.  The past two years, in particular, he had 40 HRs before the break and 14 after it.

My suggestion if you take Berkman in your draft is to try to move him in July or early August. Get good value as you head down the home stretch.

Prediction:  .300, 90 runs, 30 HRs, 90 RBIs, 4 SBs

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Brandon Webb
Atlanta Braves: Yunel Escobar
Baltimore Orioles:  Adam Jones
Boston Red Sox:  Clay Buchholz
Chicago Cubs:  Geovany Soto
Chicago White Sox:  Jake Peavy
Cincinnati Reds:  Joey Votto
Cleveland Indians:  Grady Sizemore
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
Florida Marlins: Cameron Maybin

Now an early look at the NL Central.

1. Can the Cubs’ offense bounce back?
Geovany Soto had a miserable season hitting .218. He was brilliant in Triple-A Iowa in 2007 and had an amazing Rookie season. I fully expect him to bounce back in 2010. Even if he is an average of his past two years, he’d have a decent season. Just don’t reach for him. Assuming Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano can stay healthy, they should have better seasons as well. Marlon Byrd hit 70 percent of his HRs at Rangers Ballpark so I expect him to take a step back in Chicago. At his age (34), I don’t expect Derrek Lee to match the 35 HRs and 111 RBIs. As a whole, though, I do think the Cubs will be much-improved on offense next year thanks to the addition by subtraction of Milton Bradley.

2.  Can Carlos Marmol get it done at Closer?
His BAA was equally nasty as a closer and a setup man, though his ERA and WHIP both improved when he took over at closer. He has both the stuff and demeanor to get the job done. I think he can be a high-end closer next year despite entering the season with just23 career Saves.

3.  Is Joey Votto set to bust out big time?
Joey’s average and OPS  soared dramatically in his second full season. Despite playing in 20 fewer games he had 13 more runs, six more doubles, one more HR, the same amount of RBIs, and 11 more walks. As long as he stays healthy, Votto should emerge as one of the games best hitters.

4. How about Jay Bruce?
I’m not sure he’ll light the world on fire, but he should be improved. Hard not to when you hit .223. I’m encouraged by the way he played in September when he hit .353 with 4 HRs and 16 RBIs in 34 ABs.

5. Is Lance Berkman’s dip a sign of things to come?
I don’t think so. He’s about as steady as they come. Gone are the days of 40 HRs and 120 RBIs, but he should still be good for 30 & 110.

6. Is Tommy Manzelli going to be a viable fantasy option?
I don’t think so. He didn’t exactly put up monster numbers for Triple-A Round Rock last year, hitting .289 with 68 runs, 9 HRs, 56 RBIs, and 12 SBs in 530 ABs.

7.  Is Casey McGehee for real?
He had an impressive Rookie season hitting .301 with 58 runs, 16 HRs, and 66 RBIs in 355 ABs. I like the way he responded in September hitting .337 with 5 HRs and 26 RBIs after struggling in August hitting .241. I wouldn’t want him as a starter, but his 2B/3B eligibility make him a decent bench option.

8.  Can Garrett Jones continue to be a power threat?
He certainly hit his share with 21 in 314 ABs for a 14.9 AB/HR ratio. It is highly unlikely that he can maintain that ratio. His OPS of .939 was also significanly higher than the majority of his minor league stints.

9.  Will Mark McGwire be a distraction?
I don’t think so. He came clean early enough where is shouldn’t be much of an issue for the Cards.

10.  Will Ryan Franklin continue to be an elite closer?
Franklin was one of the surprise closers last year when he recorded 38 saves with a 1.92 ERA. His numbers were significantly worse after the All-Star break.

0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .165 BAA
3.33 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, .284 BAA

While he was a pleasant surprise last year, I see no reason to believe he can match his 2009 production.

 



Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

If you simply looked at his record, you may be a little bit deceived at the prospects of Bud Norris making an impact at the major league level this season. How could a pitcher sporting a 3-7 record at Triple-A be of any potential value? Once you look at the rest of the numbers, you get a better idea of the entire story:

99.0 Innings
2.45 ERA
1.31 WHIP
99 Strikeouts (9.00 K/9)
47 Walks (4.27 BB/9)
.299 BABIP

The ERA is the first number to jump out at you, especially when you take into account that he pitches in the hitter-friendly (understatement) Pacific Coast League. Given his career minor league ERA of 3.69, so you can’t say that this number was something that was expected of him.

Last season at Double-A he posted a 4.05 ERA over 80.0 innings after being limited by an elbow strain. The team had him on a limited pitch count upon his return, before sending him to the Arizona Fall League to increase his innings count.
He made 12 appearances (0 starts), posting a 1.89 ERA over 19.0 innings, second only to the dazzling performance by Tommy Hanson (0.63). That gave a hint of what he could be, but his peripherals there mirror what he’s done this season, with 20 Ks vs. 13 BBs.

The strikeouts are extremely realistic. Over his minor league career he’s posted a K/9 of 9.8. Baseball America, who ranked him as the team’s #2 prospect prior to the season, described his arsenal by saying:

“Thanks to a stocky build and strong legs, he pounds the zone with his fastball and shows a hard, short slider. The fastball was clocked at 98 mph in the AFL, but he works better when it’s 93-95 and he spots it. Thanks to an adjustment in his delivery, he created better angles to attack hitters. The slider benefited the most, breaking down and away from righthanders.”

That certainly seems like a mix of pitches that will generate strikeouts, but his control is a major issue that will prevent him from being successful at the next level.

He has a career BB/9 of 3.8, which is marginally better then his mark this season (though, over his last ten starts he’s posted a 3.7 mark). In the AFL, it equated to a BB/9 of 6.16, albeit in an abbreviated sample size. Unless he can consistently throw strikes, there is little chance of him being successful in the major leagues.

There had been talk of him needing to develop a quality third pitch in order to success as a starting pitcher. According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman (click here to view), he has done just that, now using his change-up to go along with his fastball and slider. That certainly is a good sign, and could help to explain his improvement in the ERA department.

Considering that the bottom of the Astros rotation is filled by Brian Moehler, Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz (with Felipe Paulino from time-to-time), there certainly is the chance of him making his major league debut before the end of 2009. Of course, a potential innings limit could influence that as well.

If he does get the opportunity, he’s going to be worth monitoring. There is no doubting that he has the stuff to succeed against major league hitters, the only concern is if he can control his pitches. If he can get the walks down into the low 3’s, he has the potential to be a usable in all formats in the not too distant future (and potentially present for keeper league and NL-only owners).

In 2009, he won’t be worth more than a spot start depending on the match-up, however, thanks to his strikeout potential. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times. Rookie pitchers are inconsistenct.

What do you think of Norris? Is he a pitcher that you think could develop into a usable fantasy option by 2010?

Two NL Central foes sent players to the Disabled List today. 

The Houston Astros sent Closer Jose Valverde to the 15-day DL because of a strained calf.  The NL Saves leader the past two years has been slow out of the gate with just two Saves and a 5.63 ERA.  He already has two blown Saves.  LaTroy Hawkins will man the post until Valverde can return.  Hawk also has two Saves and 3.60 ERA.  He blew one Save so far.  He has served as Closer in past years, and can be counted on as a short-term fix in the Saves category. 

The Cincinnati Reds placed Edwin Encarnacion on the 15-day DL as well because of a fracture in his wrist.  Edwin is hitting just .127 for the season with one HR and six RBI.  Jerry Hairston, Jr. will likely man the hot corner until Edwin returns.  Jerry isn’t hitting much better at .182 with a HR and 2 RBI.  He is not worth picking up.

All-time Houston Astros

24 April 2009

Face of the Franchise:
craig-biggio
Photo courtesy of Gary Rothstein/Icon SMI
Craig Biggio

Manager: Larry Dierker

C – Craig Biggio
1B – Jeff Bagwell
2B – Bill Doran
3B – Doug Rader
SS – Craig Reynolds
OF – Jose Cruz
OF – Cesar Cedeno
OF – Lance Berkman
DH – Bob Watson
Bench:  1B Glenn Davis, 3B Ken Caminiti, OF Terry Puhl, OF Jimmy Wynn

SP – Roy Oswalt
SP – Nolan Ryan
SP – Mike Scott
SP – Joe Niekro
SP – Larry Dierker
P – J.R. Richard
P – Don Wilson
P – Shane Reynolds
P – Roger Clemens
P – Ken Forsch
RP – Dave Smith
RP – Billy Wagner

That’s the team I came up with. Do you have any changes you’d like to suggest? I’m always open to them.

Past Teams
Yankees
Red Sox
Rays
Orioles
Blue Jays
Twins
White Sox
Indians
Tigers
Royals
Angels
Rangers
Mariners
A’s
Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Nationals
Mets
Cubs
Pirates
Cardinals

 | Posted by | Categories: All-time Teams, MLB | Tagged: All-time Team, Houston Astros, MLB |


Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

mroctobr44, a friend of mine from the SportingNews Community, asked me to profile Mel Stottlemyre.  Here are my findings.


Photo courtesy of Icon SMI 

The Numbers
Played 1964-1974 (11 Seasons)
356 Starts
2661-1/3 Innings
164 Wins – 139 Losses
.541 Winning Percentage
2.97 ERA (3.31 League Average)
1.219 WHIP
1257 Strikeouts
152 Complete Games
40 Shutouts (44th All-time)
1 Save

Three 20+ Win Seasons
Five Sub 3.00 ERA Seasons

World Series:  3 Starts, 20 Innigns, 1-1, 3.15 ERA, 12 Ks, 1 Complete Game

Awards
5 All-Star Appearances
MVP Votes in 5 Seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Wins – 4 Times
Winning % – Twice
ERA – 5 Times
WHIP – Once
Starts – 5 Times
Innings – 6 Times (Led league in 1965)
Complete Games – 6 Times (Led league in 1965 & 1969)
Shutouts – 8 Times

Hall of Fame Yardsticks:
Black Ink: Pitching – 7 (323) (Average HOFer ≈ 40)
Gray Ink: Pitching – 87 (261) (Average HOFer ≈ 185)
HOF Standards: Pitching – 27.0 (171) (Average HOFer ≈ 50)
HOF Monitor: Pitching – 71.0 (158) (Likely HOFer > 100)

As a player Mel was good, not great.  He had three 20 Win seasons, but he didn’t pitch long enough to get into the class where he could even be considered.  His HOF yardsticks are well under the necessary scores.  He tore his rotator cuff in 1974 and didn’t look back.  He has been a coach for the Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Houston Astros, and the New York Yankees.  He was the Pitching Coach for the Mets’ 1986 World Series title and five Yankee titles.  So the question is whether or not his career as a Pitching Coach is enough to get him in the Hall of Fame.  I’m afraid not.  Considering that Johnny Sain, who had sixteen pitchers win 20+ games under his watch, is not in the Hall of Fame, I would say Mel has little to no shot.  Before he’s even considered, Sain and his disciple Leo Mazzone would have to be enshrined.

References
Baseball-reference.com
ESPN


Past Chronicles
Roberto Alomar
Richie Ashburn*

Albert Belle
Jim Bottomley*
Pete Browning

Jim Bunning *
Bert Byleven
Joe Carter
Orlando Cepeda*
Rocky Colavito
Dave Concepcion
David Cone
Roger Connor*
Larry Corcoran

Mike Cuellar
George Davis*
Andre Dawson
Larry Doby*
Bobby Doerr*
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Dwight Evans
Rick Ferrell*
Chuck Finley
Steve Finley
Nellie Fox*
John Franco

Gary Gaetti
Steve Garvey
Luis Gonzalez
Dwight Gooden
Mark Grace
Bobby Grich
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Ron Guidry
Billy Herman*
Keith Hernandez
Orel Hershiser
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Gil Hodges
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Travis Jackson*
Tommy John
Addie Joss*
Jim Kaat
George Kell*
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Chuck Klein*
Jerry KoosmanEarl Averill*
Harold Baines

Bill James & Pete Palmer
Barry Larkin
Tony Lazzeri*
Freddie Lindstrom*
Mickey Lolich
Ernie Lombardi*
Fred Lynn
Sherry Magee

Roger Maris
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Dennis Martinez
Edgar Martinez
Bobby Matthews
Don Mattingly
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Bill Mazeroski*
Fred McGriff

Mark McGwire
Bid McPhee
Johnny Mize*
Paul Molitor*
Jack Morris
Tony Mullane
Dale Murphy
Graig Nettles
Hal Newhouser*
Lefty O’Doul
Tony Oliva
Al Oliver

Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Dave Parker
Wes Parker
Lance Parrish
Boog Powell
Tim Raines
Willie Randolph
Pee Wee Reese*
Jim Rice
Phil Rizzuto*
Brooks Robinson*
Pete Ro$e
Amos Rusie*
Jimmy Ryan
Ron Santo
Curt Schilling
Red Schoendienst* (Player/Manager)
Ted Simmons
Enos Slaughter*
Lee Smith
Rusty Staub
Dave Stieb
Harry Stovey
Sam Thompson
Alan Trammell
George Van Haltren
Arky Vaughan*
Mo Vaughn
Bobby Veach
Frank Viola
Lou Whitaker
Bernie Williams
Vic Willis*
Maury Wills 
Hack Wilson*

 
* Signifies actual Hall of Famer


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