Welcome to the Monday Crawfish Boil!
Yeah, we kinda cling to that “seven straight ALCS’s” as a sort of copium to deal with an Astros-less World Series, but can you fathom how pampered we are at this point? Reaching the final four is a letdown for this group of overachievers, and as a fanbase, we could be in danger of turning spoiled-rotten, like Yankees fans. That team was so good for so long that now every season is a disappointment. That should serve as a reminder that we should never take this unparalleled run of success for granted. We don’t know how long this run is going to be, so let's continue to enjoy these good days.
Houston Astros News
An Astros fan’s anguish (San Antonio Express-News) note: this is behind a paywall, and it may be political, but I can’t tell and I’m not paying to find out. If you’ve paid to get behind it, then let me (and everyone) know what “anguish” they’re talking about.
Dusty Baker eats at Trill Burgers: What retired Astros manager ordered (Houston Chronicle)
Houston Astros continue the Everystros countdown with players ranked 915-901 (BVM Sports) I had to include this special case of Astros-ception. I’ve never been part of a meta-referential loop before.
AL West News
Our slow-motion stadium nightmare has just begun (The Nevada Independent)
Houston Astros Birthdays
IF Anderson Hernández (41) hit .188 in 32 games for the 2010 Astros.
Going by bWAR, RHP Mark Portugal (61) had four of his best five seasons as a member of the Astros. In five years, he was 52-30 with a 3.34 ERA in 123 starts and 12 relief appearances. Portugal racked up 535 strikeouts to go along with a 108 ERA+ and a 1.268 WHIP.
Corner Outfielder Marco Marcelino (19) has now played two years at Houston’s rookie level in the Dominican Summer League. Although the kid is only 19 and hasn’t shown much power yet, he did show a remarkably patient eye, with a .203/.422/.305 slashline in 24 games.
Everystros Countdown Chapter 6
We’ve been in the part of the countdown with players who accumulated between six and 20 BA/PF while with the franchise, and today we’ll close that out with the best of those players, along with three at the lowest end of the next bracket, from 21 through 100 BF/PA.
900. Infielder Mendy López, from Pimentel, DR, initially joined the Kansas City Royals organization in 1994, and got all the way up to the majors with them in 1998. He appeared in 81 games over two seasons with them, then four games at the major league level with the Florida Marlins in 2000. The Astros acquired López through free agency just after the start of 2001.
López joined the Astros proper at the end of June, getting a hit in his first plate appearance, a leadoff single against Will Cunnane and the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh inning of a 7-4 Astros win. His legend only grew with his next appearance, on July 8. López got the start at second base, then hit a single and scored in the fourth. He drew a walk and scored in the sixth, then added a three-run homer in the eighth inning of a game Houston won by a 14-5 final over Kansas City.
All told, López went four-for-15 in 10 games with the Astros, then cleared waivers and was snapped up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played 25 games in the majors over the next two seasons with the Bucs, followed by another 70 games with the Royals in 2003 and 2004.
899. Dave Hajek was a middle infielder from Roseville, CA. He joined the Astros at their A-level in 1990, and rose gradually through the system until getting the Houston in 1995. After posting an .814 OPS at the Triple-A with the Tucson Toros, he got called up after roster expansion.
Hajek was called on to pinch-hit in five games near the end of the season, going 0-for-2 with two sacrifice hits and a walk. The following season, he continued to put up solid numbers at Triple-A, hitting .317 with a .769 OPS. In July, he joined the Astros proper and went one-for-three with a walk and a double in four pinch-hit appearances. Called up again in September, he went two-for-seven with another walk, and started his first major league game at third base on September 26, a 6-2 win over the New York Mets.
Hajek didn’t return to the majors again, spending the next three seasons in the minors for the Detroit Tigers, the San Diego Padres, and the Colorado Rockies.
898. St. Joseph, MO native Byron Browne started his professional career with the 1963 Pittsburgh Pirates at their A-level, putting up a .551 SLG and a .922 OPS in 128 games. Over the next two seasons, he played in 358 minor league games and kept his OPS around .860 in the minors for the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. He also played in 134 games at the major league level with the Cubs between 1965 and 1967.
The 1968 season would see Browne begin with Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Cubs. On May 4, the Cubs traded him with the Astros for Aaron Pointer (number 393 on our list, but we’ll get to him on December 8). Browne joined the Astros after about two weeks, and entrenched with the parent club through the middle of June. He was a pinch hitter in eight of his 10 appearances with the Astros, starting twice in right field.
In 17 plate appearances, Browne went three-for-13 with four walks and one RBI for an unwieldy .231/.412/.231 slashline. That was the depth of Browne’s exposure with the Astros, and he spent the rest of the season with the Oklahoma City 89ers. On February 12, Houston sold Browne’s rights to the St. Louis Cardinals. He played in another 205 major league games for the Cards and later the Philadelphia Phillies.
897. Ron Willis, from the appropriately named Willisville, TN, spent four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals to start his MLB career. He was 9-10 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.356 WHIP, along with 15 saves. On August 8, 1969, St. Louis sold his contract to the Astros.
A week after joining the team, Willis ate the final inning of a 7-0 loss to the Phillies, pitching a scoreless frame despite surrendering a pair of hits. In early September he was twice more called on in the late innings for some literal relief, and totaled 11 batters faced in his entire Astros career. Willis struck out two and gave up three hits in 2 1⁄3 innings, walking zero batters. Houston returned WIllis’ contract to the Cardinals after the season.
896. First baseman Mark Saccomanno was a 23rd-round choice of the Astros in the 2003 draft out of Baylor University. A six-foot-three right-handed hitter and thrower, Saccomanno had previously attended Klein Forest HS in Houston.
Over the next four seasons, Saccomanno played with the Martinsville Astros, the Salem Avalanche, the Corpus Christi Hooks, Caneros de Los Mochis in the Mexican/Pacific League, Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League and the Round Rock Express on his way to the major leagues. At the end of the 2008 season, he got his chance.
Saccomanno appeared in 10 of Houston’s final 19 contests for the season, making pinch-hit appearances in nine of them (and as a defensive replacement in the final one). In his very first plate appearance in the major leagues, he hit a home run off Ian Snell to give Houston a 1-0 fifth-inning lead against the Pirates, a game Houston eventually won, 3-2. Saccomanno eventually went two-for-10 with a double, that home run, and two RBI.
Saccomanno continued on at the Triple-A level for Houston in 2009, putting up a .765 OPS, then joined the Florida Marlins system for 126 games in their high minors in 2010. He didn’t get back to the major leagues.
895. Before joining the Astros in 1969, LHP Bill Henry had already enjoyed a 15-season MLB career. In 524 appearances for the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the San Francisco Giants, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beginning in 1952, Henry was 46-50 with 90 saves, a 3.28 ERA, and a 1.249 WHIP.
At the age of 41, Henry signed on with the Astros in May, 1969. He pitched five innings over three relief appearances, striking out two, walking two, and allowing two hits for no earned runs. Despite his relative success, Houston released Henry a month after signing him.
894. LHP Bennett Sousa was a 10th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2018 out of the University of Virginia. It was also for whom Sousa made his first major league appearance, pitching in 25 games for the 2022 squad. He had a 1.721 WHIP and a 5.47 FIP, which was not elite.
Sousa was then waived and subsequently selected by the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Detroit Tigers, all during the 2023 season. During all that time, Sousa made two appearances in the majors, with the Brewers. Houston took Sousa off waivers as well, from Detroit.
Sousa only made five appearances for the Astros, but they may have found a bit of a diamond in the rough. Sousa allowed one hit and struck out eight while walking zero over 6 1⁄3 innings. Sure, it’s a small sample size, but that’s a 0.158 WHIP and 11.4 K/9. Sousa remains on Houston’s 40-man roster.
893. Second baseman George Williams, from Detroit, MI, started his major league career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1961, going nine-for-36 at the plate with four walks and four strikeouts. After the season, Philadelphia failed to protect Williams in the expansion draft, where the Houston Colt .45s chose him with the 13th choice.
Williams hit .298 in an injury-shortened 1962 for the Oklahoma City 89ers, and joined the Astros in September. He appeared in five games, but none of them were starts. He appeared twice as a defensive replacement, once as a pinch-runner, and twice as a pinch-hitter. Williams went three-for-eight with a double, two RBI, and a run scored for the fledgling franchise. After the 1963 season in the minors, the Colts sent Williams to the St. Louis Cardinals for Jacke Davis and Jack Kubiszyn.
892. 2B Alex De Goti, out of Miami, FL, was Houston’s 15th-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Barry University.
He made his major league debut five years later on April 16, 2021. His first career hit was a two-run fifth-inning single to give Houston a 2-0 lead over the Seattle Mariners, a game Seattle eventually won, 6-5. De Goti also played against the Mariners two days later, and totaled two hits in seven plate appearances, along with a walk and two strikeouts. Despite that promising start, De Goti spent the rest of the season back with the Sugar Land Skeeters, where he hit .232 in 105 games. He then repeated at Triple-A in 2022, hitting .253/.352/.377 for the renamed Sugar Land Space Cowboys. De Goti split last season between the Miami Marlins and the Minnesota Twins, in their high-minors.
891. Corner infielder and Boston native Matt Duffy is a six-foot-three right-handed hitter out of the University of Tennessee, where Houston grabbed him in the 20th round back in 2011.
Over the next five years, Duffy played at five different levels for the Astros, making stops with the Tri-City ValleyCats, the Lexington Legends, the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Lancaster JetHawks, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, and the Fresno Grizzlies. In 584 minor league games to that point, Duffy had collected 80 home runs and 389 RBI, hitting in the neighborhood of .290.
Called up to join the Astros at the tail end of the 2015 season, Duffy appeared in eight games, but none of them were starts. At the plate, he was three-for-eight with a walk, a double and three RBI. On September 19, in a sixth-inning pinch hit opportunity and trailing the Oakland A’s, 6-4, Duffy hit an RBI double. The Astros eventually won, 10-6.
890. Right-handed batting and throwing right fielder Charlton Jimerson was Houston’s 25th-round pick in 1997 out of Mount Eden HS in Hayward, CA, but instead of joining the Astros, he matriculated to the University of Miami. Unfazed, the Astros drafted him in the fifth round four years later. Now that’s dedication.
RIght away the Astros put Jimerson to work at the Short-Season-A level with the Pittsfield Astros, where he slashed .234/.304/.442 in 51 games, with nine home runs, 31 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 19 attempts. He then proceeded up the minor league ladder more-or-less normally, playing for the Lexington Legends, the Salem Avalanche, the Round Rock Express, the Corpus Christi Hooks, and the Scottsdale Scorpions. On September 14, 2005, Jimerson got into his first game, as a defensive centerfield replacement in a 10-2 win over the Florida Marlins.
In 2006, Jimerson spent the lion’s share of the season back at the Triple-A level, but also made 17 appearances with the Astros. Although he was a defensive replacement most of the time, he also collected two hits in six plate appearances, including a solo home run in his first ever plate appearance on September 4 in a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
After all that, the Astros released Jimerson just after the completion of 2007 Spring Training. He signed on with the Seattle Mariners and appeared in 13 games for them over the following two seasons. At the plate, he was two-for-three with another home run. That was it for Jimerson’s major league career, with a total of nine plate appearances, he had a .444/.444/1.111
889. Right-handed outfielder Tom Wiedenbauer was a native of Menomonee, WI and Houston’s seventh-round choice in 1976. He’s the final member of the bracket between six and 20 PA/BF, and as such, the best producer in that bracket.
After the draft Wiedenbauer spent eight seasons at some level of Houston’s organization, making his debut with the parent club in 1979 prior to having been exposed to Triple-A pitching. The move paid off, and Wiedenbauer hit a two-run double in his first plate appearance, in a 7-0 win over the San Francisco Giants on September 14. After not making a plate appearance in either of his next two games, he started in right field on September 29, and went three-for-five. That is the entirety of his major league career, although like I said, he stayed in Houston’s system through the 1983 season.
888. Dean Wilkins, from Blue Island, IL, begins our third bracket of players, those who totaled between 21 and 100 PA/BF. As the first in that list, Wilkins had the most negative impact (via bWAR per plate appearance) of the group.
A right-handed pitcher, WIlkins was a second-round pick of the New York Yankees back in 1986 out of San Diego Mesa College. After appearing in two seasons at the major league level with the Chicago Cubs, the Astros picked Wilkins in the 1990 rule 5 draft. To retain his rights, the Astros had to send Jeff Baldwin to Chicago on April 24.
Wilkins made seven relief appearances with the Astros in 1991, giving up 16 hits and 10 walks in only eight innings for an 11.25 ERA. He struck out four, and somehow, completed his tenure with Houston with a 2-1 record.
887. RHP Francisco Cordero, from Santo Domingo, DR, appeared in 753 games between 1999 and 2011, between the Detroit Tigers, the Texas Rangers, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds. He posted a 44-45 record with a 3.17 ERA and 765 strikeouts in 785 1⁄3 innings.
Cordero signed with the Toronto Blue Jays through free agency to start the 2012 season. Prior to joining the Astros, he pitched 41 times in relief, with a 5.54 FIP, a 74 ERA+ and a 1.806 WHIP. You know, in hindsight, you would have thought the FO could read the tea leaves just a little bit and leave Cordero alone, but we know from history that didn’t happen.
On July 20, Houston entered an agreement with Toronto in a 10-player deal. Houston lost David Carpenter, J.J. Happ and Brandon Lyon, and gained Ben Francisco, Joe Musgrove, Carlos Pérez, David Rollins, Asher Wojciechowski, Kevin Comer and Cordero.
Diving into the numbers just a little, I can see that Cordero had a historically bad time with Houston. In a six-game span, Cordero somehow accumulated almost two losses, just in wins expectancy (-1.838 to be precise). It was bad. In only five innings, Cordero went 0-3 with a 19.80 ERA. He allowed 11 runs on 13 hits and four walks, hitting a batter and surrendering two home runs in, let me repeat myself, only five innings. Opponents slashed .482/.563/.852 for a 1.414 OPS, It was the last time Cordero appeared in a major league game. He attempted a comeback with the Boston Red Sox in 2014, but was released near the end of Spring Training.
886. Jason Smith played second, third and shortstop for Houston a little in 2009. A six-three lefty-batting right-handed throwing Mississippi native, Smith was drafted twice, in the 42nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and in the 23rd round by the Chicago Cubs the next year.
Smith initially got to the majors with the Cubs in 2001, and also played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Detroit Tigers, the Colorado Rockies, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Kansas City Royals over the that season and the following seven. In 257 games between those teams, he slashed .221/.259/.378 with 17 homers and 59 RBI.
On January 5, 2009, Smith signed on with the Astros and got through spring training. He then appeared in 21 of Houston’s first 40 games of the season, starting three times at second base. During all of that time, Smith did not record a single base hit, going 0-for-25 with nine strikeouts. He didn’t draw a walk either, but did earn one RBI on a sacrifice fly and scored a run once as a pinch runner. So yeah. Nine zeroes in the slashline (sad trombone sound).
I hope you’re picking up what I’m setting down here. If you like what’s happening in these Boils, let me know. If you don’t like it, you can also let me know. Anyway, thanks for reading.