I must say, I have been uninspired by the last several games from the Astros. The pitching has been shaky, and the offense has not been much better, and in some cases this past weekend, much, much worse. Luckily for Houston, and us fans, spring training is not about the wins and losses but, individual performances . At least that is my opinion; spring is about the position battles, the young players getting a chance to showcase their talents, and aging pitchers we never thought we would hear from again – Russ Ortiz . Anyways, here is the latest spring performance chart, which I believe is an update from the past two games. Also, the list has expanded to thirty, which is where it should stay, since pretty much everyone in camp has played now, and players have left for the WBC. Enjoy, discuss.
1. Russ Ortiz RHP PR : 2 +1
Russ Ortiz retakes the top spot after a second straight superb, scintillating, sensational outing (I love alliteration). He has pitched five inning this spring to the tune of two hits allowed, a [home]run, a walk, while striking out six batters. Conclusion: Ortiz has looks downright filthy!
2. Chris Johnson 3B PR: 1 -1
Johnson only slips because of Ortiz’ performance on the mound but, he added a hit, and a couple RBIs today. For the spring Johnson is four for eight with two extra base hits (a double and a homer), a strikeout, and he leads the team with five RBIs. This blog is a place for bandwagon, and I am encouraging you all to jump onto my ‘START CHRIS JOHNSON BANDWAGON’. It is the revolution that will make Houston a legitimate contender in 2009.
3. Reggie Abercrombie OF PR: 13 +10
Abercrombie is six for eleven with three extra base hits, and ten total bases. He has scored once, and driven in another two this spring. Abercrombie has however struck out three times and committed an error. Abercrombie is easily my early favorite for the fifth outfielder position but, something tells me management is still leaning towards Jason Michaels , who has not performed this spring – thus far.
4. Jason Smith INF PR : 10 +5
Smith continues to impress me both on offense and defense. He has yet to give up an error, and has gone four for seven, with two extra base hits, two runs, and a RBI.
5. Matt Kata INF PR: NR
Kata does not have an error at shortstop, and is three for four with a triple, homerun, two RBIs, and one strikeout.
6. Brandon Backe RHP PR : 3 -3
Backe already has one good outing this spring going two innings, allowing one hit, and striking out one batter. Tomorrow he will make his first start of the spring, and is looking to keep pace with Russ Ortiz as the top starting pitcher in Astros camp (how sad was that last sentence?). I am not sure whether the fifth rotation spot is best candidate wins, or, if the job is Backe’s to lose.
7. Miguel Tejada SS PR : 5 -2
Tejada has now joined the DR’s WBC team (along with A-Rod ) but, before he did Tejada put together another strong performance. Tejada went three for seven this spring with THREE extra base hits, and THREE runs scored. He has drove in two runs. Tejada seems to have things together this season which is a big plus for the Astros going into the season.
8. Drew Sutton 2B PR: 8
I am a Sutton supporter (hmm a little alliteration), and even though he is unlikely to make the team out of camp, he should see action with the Astros sometime soon (with Kaz slated as the second basemen, that is a bit of a guarantee). Sutton is four for ten with a walk and a strikeout. He has scored two runs, and logged six total bases.
9. Wesley Wright LHP PR: 11 +2
Wesley Wright has become Houston’s go-to reliever this spring. He has now pitched three innings, in three different appearances allowing zero earned runs (but, allowing one unearned). Wright has allowed three hits.
10. Darin Erstad OF PR: NR
How is it that Erstad was previously unranked? Darin (the former Cornhusker punter and I are on a first-name basis) has gone five for ten this spring, scoring one run, while striking out twice, and walking once. His batting average is high, and he has the second most hits on the team (Abercrombie has six) but, his hits are not ‘timely’ hits.
11. Chad Paronto RHP PR: NR
Paronto has flown under my radar. He has pitched three scoreless innings, two of them today, while allowing two hits, and striking out two. It is a shame that there are not many (if any) jobs available in the ‘pen.
12. Jose Capellan RHP PR: NR
Jose is another guy who has flown under my radar (he is also another guy I am on a first name basis with). He has pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a hit, and striking out a batter.
13. Lance Berkman 1B PR: NR
Berkman is starting to come into form, batting two for five with an RBI, run, and two walks.
14. Hunter Pence OF PR: 6 -8
Pence is now two for eleven (not encouraging) with three walks (encouraging!), and four strikeouts (not so encouraging). I like Pence’s on-base improvement but, I have to see some improvement on the hitting side, and I would love to see some power, it is early though so, I am not worried yet. On a side note, I wish I was on a first name basis with Pence but, alas, I am not.
15. Jose Valverde RHP PR: NR
Jose was dominant in his inning today, pitching a scoreless inning, striking out two. For the spring he is has pitched 2 innings allowing two earned runs, a homerun but, striking out four batters.
16. Bud Norris RHP PR: 15 -1
Norris still has only pitched one inning, while striking out two batters.
17. Geoff Geary RHP PR : 17
Two innings pitched, and a hit.
18. Michael Bourn OF PR: 14 -4
Three hits in fourteen at-bats. Bourn has walked three times (like Pence, very encouraging), he has struck out twice, stolen two bases, collected two extra base hits, scored three runs, and driven in two runs. That stat line is littered and not just with adjectives… good spring thus far from Bourn.
19. LaTroy Hawkins RHP PR: NR
Hawkins has pitched one scoreless inning, striking out a batter. He was also named to the USA WBC team in place of Joe Nathan . Congratulations to Hawkins for being named in the same sentence as one of the best three closers in baseball.
20. John Gall 1B PR: NR
Were this list just about stats, Gall would be listed in the top ten but, he has zero chance of making the roster so, I feel that it would be a waste to list him earlier than this. He has however, put together a pretty impressive spring, though, hitting four for eight, and driving in three runs.
21. Samuel Gervacio PR : 18
One scoreless inning, giving up a walk but, striking out a batter.
22. Jason Castro C PR: NR
Congratulations to Jason Castro for collected his first hit with the Astros (too bad it does not really count, since it is spring training). Anyways, his hit on Sunday makes Castro the catcher with the highest batting average .
23. Brian Moehler RHP PR: NR
Two innings one earned run, two hits, and two strikeouts.
24. Tommy Manzella SS PR: NR
One for four, with a run scored, a walk, a strikeout, and unfortunately an error. Manzella is currently behind Smith and Kata as utility candidates.
25. Carlos Lee OF PR: 7 -18
Lee is only one for six but, has walked twice, with two runs. His one hit is a double, and he has struck out once.
26. J.R. Towles C PR: 12 -14
Towles is STILL the only starting catcher contender with a hit but, he is now one for five with a strikeout. I WANT TO SEE SOME OFFENSE OUT OF A STARTING CATCHER CONTENDER TODAY!
27. Felipe Paulino RHP PR: NR
I really like Paulino but, he was a little shaky in his first appearance of the spring. He pitched two innings giving up two hits, a walk, and a solo homerun – which is his only run allowed.
28. Mike Hampton RHP PR : 9 -21
I dropped Hampton last weekend, before his start, and I seem to be justified now after a bad outing on Monday. He pitched two innings allowing four earned runs . For the spring he has pitched four innings, giving up SIX hits, walking THREE batters, allowing FOUR earned runs, hitting a batter, while striking out four batters. I will say that I will not begin to get worried until the starting pitchers pitch two regular season starts worth of innings, which is someone between 10 and 15 innings, and no one is even close to that yet. However, this time next week I am going to begin to draw some real opinions from the numbers. Right now what we know is that Hampton has had one ok start, and one bad start, I am not satisfied.
29. Fernando Nieve RHP PR: NR
Nieve did hold the Mets scoreless in his two outings but, he also gave up three hits and two walks while striking out once. That is a WHIP of over 2.00. I may be looking into the five base runners.
30. Brian Bogusevic OF PR: NR
Two for seven, with a strikeout and an RBI, Bogusevic is not seriously involved in the fifth outfielder competition. All I want to see him do is play well against major league ready competition, and prepare for the AAA season. We will see Bogey later in the season but, for now, well, Abercrombie is playing too well. Keep the hitting up.
These five are in trouble :
1. Aaron Boone 3B/1B
Boone is the player on this list with the most to lose. His problem is twofold. One: Chris Johnson! Two: Boone has gone 0 for ten! Cooper here me, please, do not be afraid to start Johnson.
2. Clay Hensley RHP
Two thirds of an inning pitched, eight total runs. With Ortiz and Backe playing so well, I would think that Hensley will soon find himself on the outs of Astros camp.
3. Lou Palmisano C
Palmisano is the rule V pick, which means he has to do something to prove he deserves the catcher position over Quintero and Towles, and going 0 for five thus far does not help him. Luckily for him, neither of the other two catchers have been much better, which makes me say again, I NEED TO SEE OFFENSE FROM THE CATCHER TODAY!
4. Edwin Maysonet SS
Maysonet is 0 for four with an error, and two strikeouts.
5. Tim Byrdak LHP
His job is not guaranteed now that Wesley Wright is the top lefty in the ‘pen.
Yordanny Ramirez OF
Ramirez is 0 for 6 with two strikeouts, and is at the bottom of the fifth outfielder totem poll but, I cannot knock Ramirez after the ESPN top-ten play.