We made it through sixty percent of the draft and TCB has been host to a great amount of discussion and thought on who the Astros chose, what they did right and what they may have done wrong. I want to thank everyone for swinging by and giving your two cents. Ideally, that's what a good blog is- a forum for intelligent reparte, analysis, and thought. This week at TCB has been a perfect example of blogdom utopia- well done, folks!
These last twenty rounds can be interesting, in that, successful organizations never just draft players to draft them, and they find a way to put competitive people into an environment where their chances of succeeding are enhanced. Perhaps none of the players the Astros draft today will ever grace the diamond at Minute Maid Park, but they will play with those that will, so drafting quality performers in these later rounds is extremely important. Building on strengths is important. Our farm system is far from strong, but completing the job today will go a long way to furthering that goal.
Depending on when the draft finishes, I'll do my absolute best to post a chart detailing our selections, along with any links I can find to their college/high school profiles. Now then, on to some "grown-up" Astros news:
What do y'all think of this story about first round pick Jiovanni Mier disclosing that an Astros scout reportedly told him that the team was interested in getting "rid" of Miguel Tejada? It was definitely dumb for a scout to have told a 17, 18 year old something like that, if in fact a scout did say something along those lines. More than anything, it should be a light turns on moment for the young Mier, who in a days time went from high schooler to a rich professional baseball player with a city's worth of expectations riding on his performance. That transition is surely a tough one, and learning discresion in the face of a reporter's question is a lesson that Mier was going to have to learn eventually. Unfortunately for him it came the day after he was selected, and in the midst of a tough early season for the Astros.
Going back to the JJO article, Geoff Geary was sent down to Round Rock and will be forced to either accept that demotion or seek other shores on which to play baseball. Considering how he is ready to return from the DL, this had to have come out of nowhere if you're Geary. Heading into this season, I was of the opinion that Geary was due for a pretty decent regression from his performance last season, and that has proven to be the case. As for Ed Wade's point that Jeff Fulchino and Alberto Arias have performed well, he is right on both accounts. Neither has given up an exorbitant amount of baserunners, and both have limited the long ball. Arias is more of a strikeout pitcher than Fulchino, while the limiting walks is more Fulchino's forte. Each has done exceedingly well in limited action, and when a team is struggling just to tread water, you have to plug holes in the dam however you can. Geary was one such hole, and his plugs have fit in quite well.
It's already the middle of June. One third of the season is complete, and trade chatter is beginning to fill the air. While before the season Geoff Geary was potential trade bait, he has now been relagated to a persona non value-a. However, the Astros roster still has potential chips. LaTroy Hawkins is someone who has shown that he can fill in as a closer if need be, and can certainly be a bridge to the closer on a contending club.
An even bigger fish in the sea that is our bullpen is Jose Valverde. Proven closers have shown to be able to land a hefty return in the trade market. Regardless of whether the Astros are five games under .500 or five games over .500, Valverde should be made available. The Astros have spent too many deadlines waiting for their patented run, and while it has come more times than not, it's a risk that this organization cannot responsibly make. Given our farm system's lack of talent, a player like Valverde could yield a bounty of young players. Remember, the Texas Rangers turned Eric Gagne into three minor leaguers two seasons back. One of which (David Murphy) has turned out to be an almost every day player. Imagine what the back to back NL saves leader could get the Astros in a swap?
In an interview with a local radio show host, Cecil Cooper hinted that the Astros may be ready in the near future to call up Bud Norris and/or Yorman Bazardo. With the struggles of Brian Moehler and the questionable recent success of Mike Hampton (against the Pirates, who doesn't perform well against those guys?), it probably couldn't hurt to at least introduce them to the major leagues. Neither may be a future starting pitcher for the Astros, but both will be a part of team at some point. Anything to keep Brandon Backe at bay...While we're at it, I realize that the odds of Jason Castro playing in AAA this season aren't great, so I know this next statement has a snowball's chance in hell of happening- but if the Astros are out of it in September, I will be irked if Jason Castro isn't brought up to play out the string of meaningless games. The job will be his within a year's time, and the opportunity will be there to give him a crash course in playing on this level. At the beginning of 2010 let him begin the season in Round Rock, and once he finds his rythym in AAA, call him up to The Show.
The Astros drafting two thirdbasemen in the first ten rounds of the draft tells me that Bobby Heck and Ed Wade are not sold on Chris Johnson being our everyday third baseman. I don't blame them. Johnson has three walks in ninety-five ABs in AAA this season, compared to twenty-two strike outs. He can get away with that against AAA pitchers, but he may end up being another Jeff Francouer once he faces major league pitching.