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Sunday Morning Astros, etc Round Up

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Congratulations go out to Kazuo Matsui for collecting his 2,000th career hit. The Astros may not be all that good, but damn it, we have guys that break records. Puma, Pudge and El Caballo hit their 300th home run in the same season, and now Kaz joins Miggy as members of the 2000th hit club. Only 567 of Kaz' have been in the big leagues...but still! Let's take a bright spot whenever we can get them.

RJ did a run-down on his blog of Ed Wade's history as GM of the 'Stros. The bottom line, according to him:

Wade took over an organization that was in shambles. He appears to have done the right things to rebuild the farm system while keeping the big league team competitive.

He'll face a long list of tough decisions in the off-season ahead. Are the Astros going to stay the course and patch here and there and try to remain competitive? Or are they finally going to tear it down and start over?

Drayton McLane has been against a full-blown reconstruction, but he ought to at least take a look. The problem is that his three highest-paid players (Berkman, Oswalt and Lee) all have no-trade clauses, so while Wade maybe didn't make all great deals, he inherited a mess.

Sounds like Mr. Justice has been reading TCB....Anyways, Drayton should consider all options this offseason, and should a situation present itself where the Astros can improve themselves for the future Ed Wade should be given the green light to make a move. If McLane wants to cut the payroll to the mid $90s (milllion), then Roy Oswalt will most likely have to be traded, because Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence will be due raises this offseason. Miguel Tejada may well be back as a third baseman, but at a reduced ($5-6 million, perhaps?) price. It should be interesting, regardless.

Chris Sampson is going to do everything he can to make it back to the majors. He plans on working with Doug Brocail and RR pitching coach, Burt Hooten to do so. He has given up runs in six of his past nine appearances after giving up runs in only seven appearances before this recent bad stretch. Rule of thumb: if a reliever has 47.2 innings of work at the All Star Break, he's been overused. This can be a result of bad starting pitching and/or a manager failing to utilize his bullpen correctly. While the Astros haven't been the 1990s Braves in terms of their rotation, they pitched acceptably in the first half. Coop, I think this one is on you.

Stat-Heads of the world unite, tRA is on FanGraphs. It's a nice stat to use in order to supplement FIP, as the article indicates. Just another tool at your disposal to evaluate pitchers. Here is an ERA, FIP, tRA comparison for Bud Norris:

ERA FIP tRA
3.00 3.81 4.23

His sample size is small (21 IP) but he is above average in all the categories. In the case of tRA, league average is in the high 4s, so Bud is off to a nice start. Essentially, tRA shows us how hard a pitcher is being hit, in terms of line drives/hard hit balls. He hasn't made it that difficult for his defense to help him out, which is nice to see.

Before anyone gets crazy with FIP, tRA, and the like, read this primer on what fluctuations within and difference between ERA estimators and ERA itself actually mean from The Hardball Times.

On the farm, Jordan Lyles continues to draw rave reviews, and Chris Johnson gets an honorable mention from the Baseball America staff:

The transition to Triple-A hasn't gone too smoothy for Astros 3B Chris Johnson, but you wouldn't notice that based on his numbers this week. Johnson hit .409 this past week and slugged 1.091 with four homers. On the year, he's batting .264/.304/.438 for Round Rock.

Taking a walk now and again would help his cause dramatically, but as it stands now, he shouldn't be on the Astros' radar as a solution at 3B in 2010.

However, if the Johnson is unable to develop the eye for a walk, Miguel Tejada revealed to Brian McTaggart that he would gladly slot over to the 3B if it allowed him to stay with the Astros.  There is no word on whether he'd settle for a lot less money.

Finally, BtB has great piece on the fallacy of making year-to-year comparisons with several defensive metrics—UZR being the headliner.