Sunday, July 31, 2011

Astros Get 10 Prospects for 3 Players

The Houston Astros are in full rebuild mode after three trades in the last twelve days that resulted in them getting ten prospects. Michael Bourn was the latest player traded early this morning to the Braves in exchange for four prospects after Pence was traded Friday to the Phillies for four prospects. On July 19, Jeff Keppinger was traded to the Giants for two pitching prospects.

The Trades:
Jeff Keppinger - Traded to the Giants for right-handed pitcher Henry Sosa and right-handed reliever Jason Stoffel. Sosa was 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA and Stoffel was 1-2 with a 3.98 ERA at the time of trade at Double-A Richmond.

Hunter Pence - Traded to the Phillies for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later. Cosart and Singleton was Philadelphia's top two prospects. ranks Cosart and Singleton the 37th and 38th best prospects in baseball.

Michael Bourn - Traded to the Braves for Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu. Clemens and Oberholtzer were drafted in 2008. Clemens was ranked No. 8 on the Braves top ten at the time of trade. Clemens has a mid-90s fastball. Oberholtzer is perhaps the best player in this deal. A left-handed pitcher with a fastball between 87-92 and a solid cutter. Abreu is a power reliever with a fastball in the upper 90s but has control issues that has kept him in the minors.

Wandy Rodriguez was close to being traded at the deadline and could still end up being dealt in August but would have to clear waivers first. Yankees, Red Sox, Indians and Blue Jays were all reported in talks with the Astros at the 3 p.m. CT deadline along with a few NL clubs.

Texans Turn Attention to Draft Picks

The Texans have turned their attention to signing the draft picks before the team reports today. The Texans signed Shiloh Keo, Derek Newton, Cheta Ozougwu and Roc Carmichael on Saturday and followed that up with three more signings this morning in Brooks Reed, Brandon Harris and T.J. Yates.

The Texans are expected to sign J.J. Watt before the team reports to Reliant Stadium. Watt was the eleventh pick in the draft and is expected to be a starter at defensive end .

The Texans released David Anderson and Amobi Okoye on Saturday to make cap space after signing Joseph and Manning on Friday. David Anderson was signed by the Denver Broncos late Saturday while Amobi Okoye signed with the Chicago Bears. The Bears play a 4-3 defense that Okoye is more suited for than the Texans 3-4.

The Texans released back-up QB Dan Orlovsky who will sign with the Colts to back-up Peyton Manning. Orlovsky was expendable because the Texans re-signed Matt Leinart and drafted T.J. Yates. Leinart will be the Texans No.2 quarterback behind Schaub and Yates will be the No. 3. Yates was drafted in the fifth-round from North Carolina and played in a similar system to that of the Texans. He also led the Tar Heels to a bowl game despite all the suspensions.

The Texans lost fullback Vonta Leach to free-agency as he signed Sunday with the Baltimore Ravens, three-years $11 million dollar deal. James Casey will get an opportunity at fullback for the Texans but they will look to sign a veteran free agent.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Astros Not Done Dealing After Trading Pence

The Houston Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies last night in exchange for four Minor League prospects. The Astros get Philadelphia's top two prospects in pitcher Jarred Cosart and outfielder Jonathan Singleton. The Astros also acquired relief pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be named later.

Pence was taken out of the game in the middle of the fifth inning after the trade was agreed upon. Hunter is the Astros best and most popular player but this is a good trade as the Astros try to rebuild the farm system. The Astros system is considered one of the worst in baseball.

The Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. CT on Sunday and the Astros may not be done dealing. Michael Bourn and Wandy Rodriguez continue to draw interest from other clubs. Rodriguez would be a nice addition to the middle of the rotation on a contending club and had several scouts watching his last start. The Reds could have some interest in both Rodriguez and Bourn. The Yankees are another team that has shown some interest acquiring a pitcher and his contract wouldn't scare them.

Brett Myers has also been drawing some interest from other clubs looking for a starting pitcher. Myers recently signed a contract extension after his best season of his career last year. Brett struggled some in the first couple of months but has pitched much better lately.

The Astros are in full rebuild mode and it would make no sense to keep Wandy, Brett or Bourn when you can get some top talent for them. I would definitely expect at least two of the three if not all three will be gone by the end of the weekend. Ed Wade is doing the right thing for the future of the Astros by trading these guys.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Texans Agree to Long-Term Deal With Johnathan Joseph

The Houston Texans have reached an agreement on a long-term deal with free agent  cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Joseph was the 24th overall pick in the 2006 draft out of South Carolina by the Bengals. Joseph was the No. 2 ranked corner on the market and considered one of the top five free agents available.

The Texans will have to restructure a number of contracts because of this signing but it fills the Texans biggest need. This signing should greatly improve a pass defense that was ranked 32nd in the league last season.

Johnathan Joseph is just 27 years old and in five seasons with the Bengals he had 14 INTs and 3 TDs. In 2009 Joseph had his best season with six interceptions, one touchdown and a forced fumble.

Texans' In Hot Pursuit of a Cornerback

The Houston Texans began the free agent period by reaching agreements with Jacoby Jones, Rashad Butler and Matt Leinart. Leinart agreed to a two-year contract worth about $5.5 million dollars. This means the Texans expect him to be the back-up to Schaub and after drafting T.J. Yates could mean Dan Orlovsky days as a Texans QB are all but over.

The Texans would also like to have Vonte Leach back but he is looking to be the highest paid FB in the NFL and they could be willing to lose him.

The Texans are currently in hot pursuit of one of the top two corners on the free agent market in Nnamdi Asomugha and Johnathan Joseph. The Texans will have to release some players or re-work some contracts or both to get either one. Today Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post said that the Texans are now in the lead to get Asomugha which I assume means they've made the biggest offer so far. It has also been reported that Asomugha has a desire to play for the Jets and would take less to play in New York. If the Texans are able to offer him the most but he goes to the Jets just because that's where he wants to be then the other corners would fall in line behind Nnamdi.

The Texans back-up plan appears to be Johnathan Joseph who is considered the No.2 corner on the market. Joseph is a 27 year-old corner drafted 24th overall in the 2006 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals from South Carolina. Joseph has 14 career interceptions and three TDs. His best season was 2009 as he intercepted six passes with one touchdown and one forced fumble.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 NFL Free Agent Defensive Backs the Texans may pursue

The NFL lockout could end on Monday as players are expected to sign the new CBA that the owners signed off on last week. If this happens then the following days could be chaotic for GMs as they begin to sign draft picks and free agents.

The Texans will try to resign Vonta Leach and Jacoby Jones before they pursue any outside help for the secondary and with the new salary cap it appears they will not be able to afford Nnamdi Asomugha.

Free Agent Cornerbacks:

Nnamdi Asomugha ( OAK ) - The biggest free agent corner on the market and the Texans may give him a call but don't expect the Texans to be able sign him. There will be other teams that have more room under the cap that could make more since. Washington, N.Y. Jets could be possible and maybe Tampa Bay.

Johnathan Joseph ( CIN ) - Joseph could be the next best thing to Nnamdi. Joseph is an emerging star corner but has been stuck on a bad franchise. Would be a great sign if they could make some room under the cap.

Antonio Cromartie ( NYJ ) - The Jets will try to resign him unless they make a run at Nnamdi Asomugha.

Richard Marshall ( CAR ) - Can cover and plays the run really well. If Carolina offers him a long term deal he will sign it immediately.

Carlos Rodgers ( WASH ) - Good cover guy with average hands but could resign with Washington.

Ike Taylor ( PIT ) - If the Steelers don't resign him I don't see the Texans even having interest in him.

Josh Wilson ( BAL ) - If Baltimore doesn't resign him he could be a nice fit in the Texans secondary. Has plenty of speed and coverage ability.

Free Agent Safeties:

Eric Weddle ( SD ) - Young emerging safety who can play the run and pass effectively and would be a great addition at SS to replace Bernard Pollard. Weddle is very physical and on a local Houston radio station last week he said he has some interest in the Texans.

Gerald Sensabaugh ( DAL ) - Wade Phillips had him in Dallas and with the rush of free-agency this year this might make since.

Quintin Mikell ( PHI ) - A heavy hitter who can cover and play the run and the Eagles would be crazy to let him get away.

There will be plenty of free agent DBs on the market when it all begins and it will not be the end of the world if the Texans are unable to get Asomugha. In fact it might be possible to pick up a safety and a corner if they don't get him. Wade Phillips may add players he is familiar with meaning he could target a few players from Dallas. Dallas had a few issues in the secondary last season so this may not be the best thing to do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NFL Lockout Nears an End

The NFL lockout appears to be close to an end as each of the player representatives of the 32 teams were scheduled to meet on Wednesday and could vote on a new contract once it is ready.

The NFL owners and team officials are scheduled to meet in Atlanta on Thursday. The owners would vote on a new CBA if finished and then go over the new guidelines with team officials.

The issues that remain is the TV network case and trying to get the 10 plaintiffs to settle their antitrust lawsuit against the NFL that is still pending. The plaintiffs include Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees.

The first pre-season game is scheduled for Aug. 7 between the Bears and the Rams in the Hall of Fame game with the regular-season opener scheduled for Sept. 8 when the Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Astros Trade Jeff Keppinger to the Giants

The Houston Astros have traded 2B Jeff Keppinger to the San Francisco Giants for two Double-A pitchers. Keppinger was hitting .307 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 43 games after off-season surgery on his foot.

The Astros get right-handed pitcher Henry Sosa and right-handed reliever Jason Stoffel. Henry Sosa was 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA and Stoffel was 1-2 with 3.98 ERA in 32 games with Double-A Richmond.

The Astros have purchased the contract of Jose Altuve from Double-A Corpus Christi. Altuve was htting .361 in 35 games after hitting .408 in 52 games at Class A. Jose Altuve represented the Astros in the 2011 Futures Game.

This maybe the first of several trades the Astros make between now and the July 31st deadline. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence get moved for the right price.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Astros With the Most Trade Value

The MLB Trade Deadline is July 31st and the Houston Astros are currently the owners of the worst record in Major League Baseball and have informed other teams that they are open to offers at the Trade Deadline. The Astros have some players that might draw interest from other teams despite the awful record.

Hunter Pence - The Astros only All-Star this season with a .320 average, 11 HRs and 60 RBIs and could get the best package of young talent in a trade. Pence is arbitration-eligible with a salary of 6.9 million and rising.

Michael Bourn -  Bourn is having one of his best seasons and a former team MVP and All-Star. Bourn is making about 4.4 million and is also arbitration-eligible. He recently hired Scott Boras as his agent.

Wandy Rodriguez - A southpaw with a reasonable contract through 2014 with a club option that increases to 13 million in 2013 with 2014 13 million club option.

Brett Myers - Myers was the teams best pitcher last year but has struggled some this season but has a relatively good contract, 7 million this year, 11 million next year, 10 million option for 2013.

Myers has a 3-10 record with a 4.86 ERA in 20 games this season and his value may not be as high as the end of last season but could be a solid No. 3 or 4 starter on a contending team.

Jeff Keppinger - Hitting .305 with 3 HRs and can play multiple positions with a contending team. He puts the ball in play and would be a valuable pinch-hitter. He has just 6 stikeouts in 154 at bats.

The only players who could be untouchable are Bud Norris, Jordan Lyles and Mark Melancon because they are young and inexpensive pitchers. The Astros do need to explore all trade options presented even if it means trading fan favorite Hunter Pence in return for a package of young talented prospects.

NFL Lockout Close to an End

The NFL's first work stoppage since 1987 began in March, when the owners locked out players after the old collective bargaining agreement expired. The NFLPA then announced it was dissolving itself into a trade association so they could take the owners to federal court citing antitrust laws. Quarterbacks Tom Brady , Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were among the players who did just that.

The main sticking points through out the negotiations have been how to divide up the nine billion dollars in revenue, a rookie wage scale and free agency rules. This past week most of these issues were resolved. The issues that remain are the TV  networks case, re-establishing the union and figuring out how to settle the antitrust lawsuit by the nine NFL players including Brady, Manning and Brees.

The exhibition opener is scheduled to be the Hall of Fame game between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears on Aug. 7th.

The leagues owners have a meeting set for Thursday in Atlanta where they could ratify a new deal if one is reached by then. The players would also have to vote on any deal including the NFLPA's 32 team representatives and the plaintiffs in the antitrust suit.

The court-appointed mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan has ordered both sides to meet with him on Tuesday when a framework for a deal could be concluded.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Former Houston Astros Who Had Big Success After Leaving

The Houston Astros are having a rough season and with the trade deadline rapidly approaching they could be looking to unload some assets for future prospects. It was last year that they unloaded Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman as they began trying to replenish the farm system.

Lance Berkman who was injured and ineffective his last couple of seasons with Houston has found new life in St. Louis as he leads the National League with 24 HRs. Berkmans first half performance got me to thinking about players that were once Astros and had success with other teams after leaving Houston.

Nolan Ryan - Signed with the Astros after the 1979 season and pitched with Houston from 1980-1988. Nolan Ryan left Houston after a contract dispute following the 1988 season and signed with the Texas Rangers ( 1989-1993 ). On June 11, 1990 Ryan threw his sixth no-hitter against  Oakland and earned his 300th win on July 31st against the Brewers. On May 1, 1991 Nolan threw his seventh no-hitter against the Blue Jays.  324-292 with 5,714 career strikeouts and seven no-hitters.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
What could have been had he stayed in Houston and retired with the Astros maybe he would be part of the ownership in Houston.

Joe Morgan - Signed by the Houston Colt 45's as an amateur free agent in 1962. Had trouble getting along with manager Harry Walker who considered Joe a troublemaker.

Traded to the Reds on November 29, 1971 at baseball's winter meetings. The Astros got power hitting Lee May in a deal that is now considered one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history and one of the worst trades in Astros history.

After joining the Reds Morgan's career really took off and he began a string of eight consecutive All-Star Game appearances ( 1972-1979 ) after making it twice with Houston in 1966 and 1970.

Morgan helped lead the Reds to consecutive World Series Championships and National League MVP in 1975 and 1976. Joe Morgan was a Gold Glove Award winner from 1972-1976. 2,517 career hits, 268 HRs, 689 stolen bases.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Mike Cuellar - Houston Astros from 1965-1968. Trdaed to Baltimore in December of 1968, Cuellar would win the AL Cy Young with a 23-11 record, 182 strikeouts and a 2.38 ERA in 1969. This would earn him a tie for the Award with Denny Mclain and hasn't been a tie since then. Cuellar would follow that up with a 24-8 record in 1970 as Baltimore won the World Series. In 1971 Cuellar would go 20-9 as Baltimore won the AL East but lost the World Series in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baltimore had four twenty game winners in 1971. In 1974 he would win twenty plus games, 22-10 and 20 complete games.

Kenny Lofton - Drafted by the Astros and made his MLB debut September 14, 1991 for the Houston Astros. Traded to Cleveland following the 1991 season for Eddie Taubensee and right-handed pitcher Willie Blair. Lofton would win four Gold Glove Awards and make six All-Star Games. Lofton had a career .299 average, 2,428 hits, 130 home runs and 622 stolen bases.

The Astros did have Steve Finley at the time but would trade him as well a few years later. Finley would go on to put up similar numbers to Lofton and helped Arizona win a World Series. Finley had 2,548 career hits and 304 home runs.

Curt Schilling - Spent 1991 with the Houston Astros as a reliever and traded to Philadelphia after the season. Selected to six All-Star Games, three time World Series Champion. 216-146 career record, 3.46 ERA and 3,116 career strikeouts. Schilling had a postseason record of 11-2.

These are the five players that I believe the Astros let get away. Just think if Nolan Ryan would have remained with Houston up until he retired. What if the Astros kept Schilling and Lofton in the early nineties to go with Biggio and Bagwell.

Lance Berkman is having one of his best years in a while though I believe the Astros made the right decision last season by trading him. Berkman wasn't producing in Houston the last 2-3 years the way he used to and injuries were a factor but I don't believe it was the only reason for his lack of performance.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rockets' Yao Ming retires

Yahoo Sports was one of the first to report that Houston Rockets center Yao Ming informed the Rockets and the NBA that he is retiring after nine seasons.

Yao Ming was the first pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and averaged 19.0 points a game for his career that was injury filled to say the least. Yao was an eight time All-Star but has missed significant playing time in five of his last seasons.

Yao Ming has played a total of five games over the last two seasons after a couple of serious foot injuries that has influenced his decision to retire. Yao Ming no longer feels that he can play without having any further injuries though both injuries have healed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Astros First Half To Forget

The Astros open a four-game series with the Marlins tonight before the All-Star break in what has been a first half of the season to forget. The Astros enter the series with 30 wins and 58 losses by far the worst team in baseball. 

 J.A. Happ will get the start to open the series with his league leading ten losses and 5.63 ERA. Happ has allowed five earned runs in each of his last three starts and 23 earned runs in his last five starts covering 24 2/3 innings.

Carlos Lee  comes into the series with just 7 home runs and has got to be the biggest waste of money in baseball. Lee is making around 19 million this season and at his current pace he will hit less than 19 home runs. Carlos Lee's numbers have been in a decline the last two years and still has one more year on his contract and it is a mystery why they keep putting him in the lineup (maybe the money) instead of giving a younger player a look. Lets hope they can find a way to unload him even it means eating the contract so fans don't have to suffer through another year of him in the lineup.

Brett Myers had a career year for him last year but this year he has been very inconsistent and so has the entire rotation.

The Astros bullpen has been a disaster saving just ten games in 28 save opportunities while using 12 different relievers to this point in the season.

Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence have been the only bright spots in the lineup as Pence is the lone Astros representative in next weeks All-Star Game. Bourn is hitting .291, 59 runs scored and 35 stolen bases while Pence has a .331 avg, 10 HRs and 59 RBIs.

Brett Wallace had a good start to the season but has tailed off the last two months and doesn't get many chances against left-handed pitching. This is the type of year when you put young guys like Wallace in the lineup everyday to find out if he can play everyday and hit left-handed pitching.

The first half has been awful and with the trade deadline at the end of July the Astros will most likely have a different look when August roles around.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Red Sox Visit H-Town

The Boston Red Sox visit Minute Maid Park to take on the Houston Astros for a three-game series beginning tonight. This is the Red Sox first trip to Houston since 2008 when the Astros took two out of three games.

The Astros will send Bud Norris (4-6 3.36 ERA) to the mound against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (4-3 4.54 ERA) to begin the series. Bud Norris has just two wins in his last ten starts and is making his first appearance against the Red Sox. Norris is 0-2 with a 2.00 ERA in his last three starts and is coming off a 7-2 loss to the Rays.

The Astros are coming off a 7-0 win over the Rangers on Thursday night to end a five game losing streak and also snapping their eight game losing streak at home. While the Red Sox come into Houston having lost six of their last eight games and looking to get it turned around against the team with the worst record in baseball.

Tim Wakefield enters tonights game with 197 career wins and he will be making his first appearance in Houston since 1993 when the now 44-year old right-hander was with the Pirates.