It must be Michael Bourn month over at Fangraphs, because the site has a feature story about Bourn for the second time in just over a week. The article isn't much different than the analysis that was done concerning the Bourn/Lidge trade of 2007, and again the Ichiro related BABIP comparison. One point is unavoidably true though: he is our best, most cost effective offensive player (including Hunter Pence, IMHO).
Zach Levine states the obvious, but is as usual on point when he posits that neither the Astros offense nor pitching fared particularly well while he was in Austin following the Express. A .555 OPS over the course of a week is definitely lousy, small sample size or not. Hot starts by Miguel Tejada and Hunter Pence have subsided, and both are on pace to finish right around where they did in 2008. Especially alarming is the slide of Pence, who looked to be much improved in 2009 but has succumbed to many of his erratic, over swinging, topping the ball all too much ways of 2008.
Lance Berkman didn't hit a homerun in the month of August, and ESPN's Jason Grey speculates that it has something to do with his calf...
David Coleman, over at his blog Minor Musings, profiles Astro farmhand Ross Seaton. While Seaton's below league average strikeout totals worries David a bit, he is generally optimistic about the young righthander:
I think the evidence is that he's getting better, though. His G/F ratio is climbing closer to 1.00 each month and he has thrown better since Lexington started using six starters with the addition of David Duncan to the rotation.
Overall a nice analysis by Mr. Coleman. We Astros fans are lucky to have Farm Stros and Coleman on board to dig through the numbers and provide a more than competent take on our minor league clubs.
Speaking of the minors, CC Hooks outfielder Drew Locke, and SS Wladimir Sutil have been named to the 2009 Texas League Post Season All Star Team. Whew. Based on how long the honor is, I'm sure it's quite a feather to put in one's cap. Locke for one has been on fire all season, hitting .446 with runners in scoring position and two outs since the All Star Break. Congrats to both players.
Unfortunately for Drew, his season has been cut short prematurely, due to a HBP which broke his left hand. Obviously a very disappointing way to finish a stellar summer for Locke. He'll be in a cast for 6-8 weeks. No winter ball most likely for the 26 year old outfielder.
Completing the minor league tour, John Sickles of MinorLeagueBall, reviews his Top 20 Astros Prospects list that he posted before the season began. In general:
-Jordan Lyles after reading as much as I have about prospects is seen as an up and comer for sure. He has all the tools and composure a young pitcher could have in his first year of pro ball.
-Jason Castro has leveled off as a CC Hook, but his defense, game calling and plate discipline should play well in the bigs even if he never develops the sort of power he would need to be an elite offensive catcher.
-Felipe Paulino and Bud Norris have flashed their potential at various times this season, and will have more chances to do so. Like clack has noted since Day 1, Norris' innings have piled up this season, and the team may be better off easing off the gas for the last thirty games or so of the season. Paulino has the kind of solid peripheral stats that cause me to be much more optimistic than pessimistic towards his development. Note the high BABIP, high HR/FB, etc. He hasn't gotten many breaks, and has shown that he still needs time to develop. He has a really good slider, and if he refines that fastball, look out.
-Sammy Gervacio has done well as a major leaguer, while Chia Jen Lo has progressed nicely as a CC Hook.
Towards the bottom end of the system, there are a lot of raw, athlete types, and the 2009 draft class gets the early seal of approval from Sickles and the commenters on his article. It will be fun to watch some of these guys in the AFL, that's for sure.
Speculation doesn't become us, I hope, but here is Deadspin's take on the Pitchtipgate. The phrase "clubhouse McCarthyism" is a keeper for sure.