Monday, June 27, 2011

Texans Players Organize Minicamp

The Houston Texans players held the first day of a three-day minicamp today at Rice Stadium. This was the second three-day minicamp organized by the players in the last three weeks.

Matt Schaub was leading the offense and DeMeco Ryans was in charge of the defense with 34 players participating. Ryans is still recovering from an Achilles injury but did do some running and covering.

Ryans is the Texans team player representative and was part of a conference call last week with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith after the latest round of negotiations.

Cornerback Kareem Jackson was in attendance for the first time and Glover Quin was playing free safety, as it has been speculation that he would move from corner to safety.

Tight end James Casey could see some time at fullback if the Texans lose free agent FB Vonta Leach. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Bad Are The Astros?

The Houston Astros are not only the worse team in baseball but they will most likely be the worst Astros team of all-time. The man to blame for this is Drayton McLane.

The Astros have had some of their best success under Drayton McLane but this season will be his biggest failure as owner though he will not end the season as owner, pending MLB approval of the purchase of the team by Jim Crane.

The Astros have had their share of bad seasons but they have never lost more than 97 games in a season and it appears they could lose 100 or more this season.

The last couple years McLane hasn't put any effort or money into the team to keep them competitive. Instead signing over paid burn outs such as Bill Hall, Clint Barmes, Brandon Lyon and trying to pass them off to the fans as solid acquisitions.

Ed Wade is the GM that signed these players but he has had limited resources from an owner who stop caring and may lose his job as a result.

The Astros have hit just 42 home runs this season and Carlos Lee may not hit more than 10 at his current pace. They have hit just 19 home runs at home while giving up 53. The Astros bullpen is second in blown saves.

 Bringing Lyon into the game was just like pouring gasoline on a fire and it took them two months to shut him down. It begs the question "Why" when he has never been known as a reliable closing option when healthy. The Rays have blown the least amount of saves while their bullpen is paid less combine than the Astros are paying Lyon.

The farm system is not doing much better as the top three teams are all in last place. It appears as though they have drafted better the last three years but it will be another year or two before we begin to find out if that's the case.

Jim Crane has said he will not go on any spending spree when he takes over so it appears they will  have to continue to build from within. If this is the case they should look to move a few players at the trade deadline that could bring them younger talent in return.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 NBA Draft

The NBA Draft  first round has been completed and here is the latest. Cleveland had two of the first four picks. Two brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris go back-to-back at picks 13 and 14.

1ClevelandKyrie IrvingPG
2MinnesotaDerrick WilliamsPF
3UtahEnes KanterPF
4ClevelandTristan ThompsonSF
5TorontoJonas ValanciunasPF
6WashingtonJan VeselyPF
7CharlotteBismack BiyomboPF
8DetroitBrandon KnightPG
9CharlotteKemba WalkerPG
10SacramentoJimmer FredetteSG
11Golden StateKlay ThompsonSG
12UtahAlec BurksSG
13PhoenixMarkieff MorrisPF
14HoustonMarcus MorrisPF
15IndianaKawhi LeonardSF
16PhiladelphiaNikola VucevicPF
17New YorkIman ShumpertPG
18WashingtonChris SingletonSF
19MilwaukeeTobias HarrisSF
20HoustonDonatas MotiejunasC
21PortlandNolan SmithPG
22DenverKenneth FariedPF
23ChicagoNikola MiroticPF
24Oklahoma CityReggie JacksonPG
25New JerseyMarshon BrooksSG
26DallasJordan HamiltonSF
27BostonJaJuan JohnsonPF
28MinnesotaNorris ColePG
29San AntonioCory JosephPG
30ChicagoJimmy ButlerSF

The Houston Rockets had the 14th and 23rd picks in the first round and they moved up from 23rd to 20 to get center Donatas Motiejunas after taking forward Marcus Morris with the 14th pick. Cleveland and Charlotte both had two picks in the top ten.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Myers Could Raise Value With Continued Success

The Houston Astros will give the ball to Brett Myers Wednesday night in an effort to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

The Rangers have won the first two games in the Lone Star Series thanks to a walk-off eleventh inning home run last night by Mitch Moreland. The Rangers are sending Colby Lewis to the mound to try and complete the sweep. Lewis is 6-7 with a 4.80 ERA this season including 6-2 win over Atlanta on Friday.

Brett Myers is coming off a complete game on Friday against the Dodgers in which he allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out six batters on just 98 pitches. It is the only complete game thrown by an Astros starter this season.

Brett Myers has a 4.08 ERA on the road this season in eight starts. His only other start in Texas was in 2008 with the Phillies allowing five runs in two innings.

The Astros are the worse team in baseball and their record  proves it and with the trade deadline about a month away they should be able to trade Myers to a contender for some younger talent. If Myers can continue to pitch the way he did On Friday over the next month then his trade value could rise.

Last 10 starts for Myers


Other Notes:
Hunter Pence will be out of the lineup again tonight because of discomfort in the elbow. Hunter could be back in the lineup on Friday's series opener against the Rays at Minute Maid Park.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Astros Look To Sweep Dodgers

The Houston Astros will send Bud Norris (4-5, 3.48 ERA) to the mound today against Hiroki Kuroda (5-8, 3.31 ERA) of the Dodgers to try and complete the sweep. Norris has allowed a total of only two runs on seven hits in his last two starts including a one run, six hits, seven inning performance in a losing effort against the Pirates on Tuesday.

Hiroki Kuroda hasn't given up more than two earned runs in any of his three starts in June for the Dodgers.

Saturday night the Astros got a solid performance from Wandy Rodriguez in a 7-0 win in which he pitched six scoreless innings. Wandy Rodriguez ( 5-3) had six strike outs and gave up seven hits in six innings while lowering his ERA to 2.88.

Wandy hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings since coming off the disabled list and now has seven consecutive quality starts. This coming one night after Brett Myers pitched the first complete game of the season by an Astros starter.

The Astros have played well against the Dodgers this season having won four out of five games they have played.

Other Notes: Hunter Pence will not play again in Sunday's finale as he had to fly back to Houston to have an MRI on his elbow. Pence has been the lone bright spot in the Astros batting order this season hitting .321, 9 HRs, 51 RBIs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bud Norris - ACE?

Bud NorrisThe Astros fired pitching coach Brad Arnsberg before the game Tuesday with the Pirates though he didn't have much to work with through no fault of his own. The one bright spot in the starting rotation and most consistent starter this season has been Bud Norris.

Norris turned in another solid performance in a 1-0 loss Tuesday night at the hands of the Pirates. Norris pitched seven innings giving up six hits, two walks, one run while striking out nine. The Astros just couldn't get anything going on offense as Hunter Pence's 23-game hitting streak came to an end. The hitting streak was the fourth longest streak in Astros history.

This coming after taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Cardinals before Berkman homered to break it up. Norris went eight innings giving up just one hit against the Cardinals.

Brett Myers hasn't pitched the way he did last season and Wandy just came off the DL with a good start but needs to show more consistency. J.A. Happ falls into the same category as Wandy Rodriguez in needing to find more consistency. With 3-8 record most of his undoing always seems to come down to one inning.

Norris is just 26-years old and should still be getting better and with Jordan Lyles, 20-years old, now in the rotation the Astros may have a good 1-2 punch in the near future. Here is a look at the last ten starts for Bud Norris.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lyles First Home Start, Adrian Houser Signs

The Astros top prospect Jordan Lyles will be making his first start at Minute Maid Park in front of the home crowd at 20 years old he is currently the youngest player in the Majors. Houston Astros will get a look at the Atlanta Braves top pitching prospect lefty Mike Minor. 

Jordan Lyles brings an 0-1 record into this start with a 4.91 ERA, 7 K's in 11 IP. Lyles made his first two starts on the road against Chicago and San Diego. In his Chicago debut he pitched like a ten year veteran going seven strong innings before leaving in the eighth after he made an error getting a no decision. His last start in San Diego resulted in a loss going just four innings.
Adrian Houser
The Braves send Mike Minor to the mound for his fourth start of the season. Minor is 0 -2 with a 5.06 ERA in 16 IP. His last start was at Triple-A Gwinnett before being recalled. Minor was the seventh player drafted two years ago.

Houser signs
The Houston Astros signed second round pick Adrian Houser on Friday. Houser will begin his career in the Gulf Coast League. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Adrian Houser is just 18-years-old and was 10-1 with an 0.92 ERA while striking out 125 batters in 62 innings. Houser led Locust Grove High School to the Oklahoma 4A state championship this year. Houser also had a scholarship offer from the University of Oklahoma.

On Friday they announced ten additional signings. The Astros have signed 18 of their 50 Draft picks and 8 of their top 13.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Astros Select George Springer

The Houston Astros selected University of Connecticut outfielder George Springer with the eleventh pick in the first round of the MLB Draft. Springer, the UConn center fielder is a rare five-tool college player that can do just about everything on the baseball field.

Springer has a very quick bat and can hit the ball hard to all fields with unbelievable power but lacks consistent contact. He is a good base runner with above average speed that could make him a base-stealing threat. Defensively he has enough instinct and speed to play anywhere in the outfield with an above average arm.

Springer was considered by most scouts to be the best position player in the draft. At twenty-one years old with college experience and the talent he has it may not take him long to make it to the big leagues. This is a very good pick by the Astros as they try to improve the farm system.

Astros load up on pitching in rounds 2-10
This draft was the deepest at pitching and on day two the Astros begin to add pitching prospects with power arms that they hope would progress through the system. The Astros pick seven pitchers out of nine picks including four straight from round two through round five.

Rd 2. Adrian Houser, RHP - Locust Grove HS (OK)
The Sizz: Houser is 6' 3" 190 pound right-hander with a power fastball that clocks in at 94 mph. Houser is a very good athlete who has already committed to OU. Drafted in rd. 2 No. 69 overall he is said to be interested in signing with Houston. Could progress through the system in a similar fashion to Jordan Lyles.

Rd 3. Jack Armstrong, RHP - Vanderbilt
The Sizz: Armstrong is the son of a former MLB pitcher and at 6' 7" 200 pounds he is also very athletic. Has a fastball with good velocity, life and sink down in the zone . Armstrong has an decent changeup and curveball. His has average control and if he doesn't progress as a starter he could be a very good reliever.

Rd 4. Christopher Lee, LHP - Santa Fe CC
Rd 5. Nick Tropeano, RHP - Suny Stony Brook
Rd 6. Brandon Meredith, LF - San Diego State
Rd 7. Jarvais Reynolds, CF - King HS (FL)
Rd 8. Brandon Culbreth, RHP - Forsyth Country Day School (NC) HS
Rd 9. Jonas Dufek, RHP - Creighton
Rd 10. Kyle Hallock, LHP - Kent State

The Astros look to have had another strong draft in an effort to rebuild the farm system. The next step would be getting all the picks signed, even the later picks that are not listed here. There is no way to know how these picks will turn out but very good Major Leaguers can come from much later rounds.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 MLB Mock Draft

The MLB Draft begins on Monday June 6th and it appears that it could be a pitchers draft at least in the first round.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have the third and seventh pick in the first round and that is the first time that a team has ever had two of the top ten picks.

UCLA could have two pitchers taken in the top ten and both could be on a fast track to the big leagues as they are considered legit No. 1 starters.

Anthony Rendon a 3B from Rice should come off the board in the first few picks despite being slowed by shoulder and ankle injuries that shouldn't be long-term issues.

Here is a look at the fansizzle mock draft :

1. Pittsburgh Pirates - Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
2. Seattle Mariners - Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
3. Arizona Diamondbacks - Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
The Sizz: Hultzen and Cole could flip-flop draft spots.
4. Baltimore Orioles - Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) High
5. Kansas City Royals - Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner (Kan.) Gardner-Edgerton
6. Washington Nationals - Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Montverde Academy
7. Arizona Diamondbacks - Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) High
The Sizz: The best highschool pitcher on the board. If they get Cole at three though it would be hard for them to pass on Bauer.
8. Cleveland Indians - Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
The Sizz: No.1 starter and could be picked as high as the top five along with teammate Gerrit Cole.
9. Chicago Cubs - George Springer, OF, Connecticut
10. San Diego Padres - Matt Purke, LHP, TCU
11. Houston Astros - Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
12. Miwaukee Brewers - Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
13. New York Mets - Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
14. Florida Marlins - Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut
15. Milwaukee Brewers - Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
16. Los Angeles Dodgers - CJ Cron, 1B, Utah
17. LA Angels of Anaheim - Josh Bell, OF, Irving (Texas) Jersuit College Prep
18. Oakland Athletics - Henry Owens, LHP, Huntington Beach (Cal.) Edison
19. Boston Red Sox - Blake Swihart, C, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland
20. Colorado Rockies - Daniel Norris, LHP, Johnson City (Tenn.) Science Hill
21. Toronto Blue Jays - Jackie Bradley, OF, South Carolina
22. St. Louis Cardinals - Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy (Ark.) High
23. Washington Nationals - Levi Michael, 2B/SS, North Carolina
24. Tampa Bay Rays - Jose Fernandez, RHP, Tampa (Fla.) Alonso
25. San Diego Padres - Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
26. Boston Red Sox - Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami Dade Junior College
27. Cincinnati Reds - Cory Spadenberg, 2B/SS, Indian River Junior College
28. Atlanta Braves - Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
29. San Francisco Giants - Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
30. Minnesota Twins - John Stinson, RHP, Texas A&M
31. Tampa Bay Rays - Nick Delmonico, C, Knoxville (Tenn.) Farragut
32. Tampa Bay Rays - Javier Baez, 3B/SS, Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day
33. Texas Rangers - Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, North Augusta (S.C.) Spring Valley

Friday, June 3, 2011

Astros Streaking, Rockets New Coach and Shaq Retires

Astros Streaking
The Houston Astros won their fourth straight game Thursday night in San Diego 7-4 over the Padres. This current four game streak is the longest win streak for the Astros since they won five in a row, including a four game sweep in Philadelphia, Aug. 22-26 last season.

Bud Norris (3-4) pitched six innings to earn his first victory since May 1 by holding the Padres to four runs on six hits while striking out six.

Chris Johnson went 2-4 at the plate with his sixth home run of the season and two RBIs. Brett Wallace and Carlos Lee also had a 2-4 night at the plate.

The Astros bullpen pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Norris in which they allowed just one walk. Jeff Fulchino pitched the seventh, Wilton Lopez worked the eighth and Mark Melancon came in the ninth for his fifth save. Melancon was pitching for the fourth straight game and had 2 K's to lower his ERA to 1.91.

The Astros go for their fifth straight win tonight and will send J.A. Happ (3-6) to the mound against Dustin Moseley (1-6). The Astros are now playing the kind of baseball they thought they would play when the season started. The first two months may have put them in a deep hole but if they can continue to play this way from here on out they climb out of the NL Central cellar and back toward respectability.

Rockets Introduce McHale
The Houston Rockets made it official today and introduced Kevin McHale as their new coach. McHale will take over as Rockets coach after spending time in Minnesota as the GM of the Timberwolves and parts of two seasons as their coach where he had a 39-55 coaching record.

Shaq Retires
On Friday Shaquille O'Neal officially retired from the NBA at the age of 39 in a suburb of Orlando, the city where he was originally drafted No.1 overall by the Magic in 1992. He made the announcement from the house he bought in 1993 and it remained his home even after he left Orlando throughout the remainder of his career.

Two days ago O'Neal posted on Twitter that his playing days were over after 19 years. O'Neal will go down as one of the best big men in NBA history and a no doubt Hall of Famer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NFL Goodell, NFLPA Smith Meet

The NFL and its players have been meeting in a secret Illinois location in an effort to end the lockout prior to heading to the appeals court in St. Louis on Friday.

nfl logo jpgCommissioner Roger Goodell and several owners met again on Thursday with NFLPA DeMaurice Smith and a group of players before a U.S. magistrate judge. This was the third consecutive day of "secret confidential settlement discussions" in front of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan who ordered both sides to maintain confidentiality.

The 8th U.S. District Court then canceled mediation sessions scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Minneapolis. Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft and John Mara were among the owners on hand.

The hearing in St. Louis on the NFL's appeal of a ruling blocking its lockout begins on Friday. Though the 8th District's Court of Appeals ruling on the lockout is not expected for weeks so the cancellation of the mediation sessions next week could be an indication that more meetings like those the last three days could be scheduled.

It seems that both sides maybe serious about ending the lockout without the courts doing it for them. Most owners believe that if a deal isn't in place by July 4th that they may have to start canceling training camps that open late July and possibly the preseason. So as far as I am concerned this is a good sign that it could be settled in the next couple weeks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Astros Sweep A Series For The First Time This Season

The Astros finally have swept a series this season and it comes at the hands of the Cubs in Chicago. Brett Myers allowed one run over six innings and Michael Bourn had a two run single in the seventh to put the Astros on top. The bullpen would make it hold up for a 3-1 win to complete the three game sweep.

Mark Melancon pitched for the third straight day and earned his fourth save in six chances. Melancon lowered his team best ERA to 1.98 in relief.

Myers (2-4) pitched one of his best games of the season allowing three hits and one run over six innings improving to 12-3 with 2.12 ERA in his career against the Astros' NL Central rivals. Myers has now won six straight decisions over the Cubs. Myers gave up a lead off home run in the first inning to K. Fukudome but would only give up a couple singles after that.

Michael Bourn gave the Astros the lead in the seventh with a two-run single to shallow right that scored J. Keppinger and C. Johnson. Bourn also stoled two bases to raise his NL leading total to 22.

Last night the Astros scored six runs in the 9th inning off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol for a come from behind victory 7-3.

Jordan Lyles was brillant in his Major League debut but earned a no decision. The 20 year old right-hander looked like a 10 year veteran going seven innings giving up five hits, two runs, one earned while striking out four and walking none.

Lyles made a throwing error in the eighth inning that cost him a run and with it a chance for his first big league win. Lyles was throwing all his pitches for strikes keeping the Cubs off balance at the plate.

Hunter Pence had the big three-run homer in the 9th inning off Marmol that put the Astros up 7-3. Brett Wallace had a homer in the fourth inning his fourth of the season.

The Astros have found ways to lose games this season but this series against the Cubs they pick up their first three game sweep and debut their top pitching prospect who didn't disappoint. If Lyles continues to pitch this way in his next few starts he may give the Astros fans a reason to go to the ballpark.