Welcome to the Halloween Boil, make sure you check your crawfish for razor blades....
Here’s some spooky Astros links.
Houston Astros News
Ex-Rangers manager wants the Astros job (Larry Brown Sports)
4 Astros prospects that could absolutely impact their offseason plans (Climbing Tal’s Hill)
Astros’ elimination was still somehow bittersweet for Yankees fans (Yanks Go Yard) It’s all they have.
Hector Herrera gives Yordan Alvarez Dynamo jersey after playoff win (Houston Chronicle)
AL West News
Angels eyeing another one of their former star players for manager job? (Larry Brown Sports)
A’s Relocation Vote Still On Track, But Las Vegas Concerns Linger (Front Office Sports)
Arizona Diamondbacks claim P Chris Rodriguez off waivers (Arizona Sports)
Houston Astros BIrthdays
LF/2B Tony Kemp (32) played in 239 games for the Astros between 2016 and 2019. He hit .240/.322/.376 with 14 dingers and 58 RBI.
LHP Tim Byrdak (50) spent the 2008 through 2010 seasons with the Astros. In 199 trips out of the pen he was 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA and 134 K’s in 155 1⁄3 innings.
C Ed Taubensee (55) played in 203 games for the Astros between 1992 through 1994. Fourteen homers and 70 RBI along with a .234/.296/.351 slashline, Taubensee threw out baserunners at slightly above the league average during his tenure in Houston.
You can read more about C John Hoffman (1943-2001) below at number 882.
Infielder Darwin De Leon (20) just completed his second season in the Dominican Summer League, and put up a very nice .317/.470/.490 slashline in 35 games. Look for him to make the move to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers for the 2024 campaign.
The Everystros Countdown Chapter VII
885. Middle infielder Buddy Biancalana was a first-round choice of the Kansas City Royals in 1978, with the 25th overall pick. Four years later, he made his first impression in the majors, hitting a triple for his first base hit in 1982. He eventually appeared in 293 games over six seasons with the Royals. On July 30, 1987, Kansas City traded Biancalana to the Astros for Mel Stottlemyre.
Biancalana appeared in 17 of Houston’s final 60 games down the stretch. He made six starts at shortstop and the other 11 as either a pinch runner or as a defensive replacement. On August 7, he hit a seventh-inning single off Mark Davis in an eventual 7-1 loss to the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately, that was Biancalana’s only safe base hit with the team. He went one-for-24 with a walk, a run, and 12 strikeouts. As a defender, he made three errors in 16 chances at shortstop and handled five innings at second without a hitch. Houston released him after the end of the campaign.
884. First baseman Craig Cacek was a ninth-round pick in 1972 by the New York Mets out of James Monroe HS, in North Hills CA. After four minor league seasons, the Mets traded Cacek to the Astros for Manny Lantigua.
Although Cacek enjoyed an 11-season professional career, his time in the majors was very short. In mid-June 1977 he was called up to fill a spot with the Astros. In Cacek’s second appearance, he drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning for his first and only major league RBI in a 6-3 win against the Montreal Expos on June 20. The next day, Cacek collected a single, only one of four hits for the Astros in a 6-0 loss to the Expos.
Cacek spent two weeks with Houston, but I’ve already outlined the limit of his success. He ended his cup of coffee one-for-20 with a walk and an RBI. Defensively, he took 44 1⁄3 innings at first base, making one error in 54 chances. Sent back to the minors, Cacek was eventually purchased from Houston by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
883. Catcher Korey Lee was Houston’s first-round pick in 2019, out of UC-Berkley with the 32nd overall selection. In 2021, between Houston’s top three affiliates, Lee slashed .277/.340/.438 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI. In 2022 at Sugar Land, Lee cracked 25 home runs in 104 games, leading to a .790 OPS despite a .238 average. He was called up to the Astros in July, and spent the entire month with the eventual World Champs.
Lee didn’t get a home run at the major league level, going four-for-25 with two doubles and four RBI. Most of his offensive success came in a 6-1 Houston win on July 10 over the Oakland Athletics. Lee was three-for-four in that contest with one of his doubles and three RBI. After spending a literal calendar year back with Sugar Land following his look, Houston traded Lee to the Chicago White Sox for Kendall Graveman.
882. Catcher John Hoffman, also known as “Pork Chop,” was a lefty-batting native of Aberdeen, SD. Prior to the 1963 season, he signed with the Houston Colt .45s through free agency. At the single-A level that year with the Modesto Colts, Hoffman hit .251 with nine home runs, but also struck out 115 times, about a 35 percent K-rate. After splitting most of the 1964 season between the Oklahoma City 89ers and the Durham Bulls, he joined Houston for one game on July 30, striking out in his only plate appearance in an 8-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hoffman got back to the team at the end of August, and ended up going one-for-15 with a walk, a run, and seven strikeouts. After hitting .175 in a full season for Durham in 1965, he rejoined Houston, now the Astros, for two games at the end of the major league season. He fared better in that short look, going two-for-six with a run and an RBI. After spending 1966 back in the minors all season, Houston traded Hoffman to the Atlanta Braves.
881. Mike Brumley is an infielder from Oklahoma City, OK. In 1980, the Philadelphia Phillies took him out of Tulsa Union HS in the 16th round, but failed to convince him to sign. Three years later, the Boston Red Sox chose him in the second round out of the University of Texas at Austin. Before making it to the majors, he was traded with Dennis Eckersley to the Chicago Cubs for Bill Buckner.
Brumley made a habit switching locales. After making his major league debut in 1987 with the Chicago Cubs, he later appeared at baseball’s top level with the Detroit Tigers and again with Boston. Before the 1993 season, Brumley signed on with Houston. He was three-for-10 with a run and two RBI, along with a walk and three strikeouts. After spending 1994 in the Oakland Athletics system, including 11 games in the bigs, Brumley again signed with the Astros. Brumley’s hitting line didn’t look quite as nice his second go-round with the Astros, going one-for-18 with a solo home run and six strikeouts.
880. RHP Kip Gross was a third-round pick in 1985 by the St. Louis Cardinals, then a fourth-round choice of the New York Mets the following year. A trade landed Gross in Cincinnati’s system, and he made his first appearance in the majors with the Reds in 1990.
Gross spent 34 games over two seasons with the Reds (6-4, 3.52) and 26 games over the next two years with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-1, 2.79). After 10 games in the Dodgers minors in 1994, Gross was out of North American professional baseball for five years before signing a free-agent deal with the Boston Red Sox in 1999. During that five-year span, Gross was enjoying a great deal of success with the Nippon Ham Fighters in the JPPL, where he was 55-49 with a 3.60 ERA.
For the 2000 campaign, Gross signed on with the Houston Astros and made his first appearance for them on May 22, but he took the 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers after allowing all six runs in four innings, on eight hits and two walks. In his second and final appearance with the team, he allowed two runs in 1⁄3 of an inning, but was still credited with a successful hold although Houston eventually lost, 8-7 to the Colorado Rockies.
879. Catcher Erik Kratz didn’t make his first major league appearance until he was 30-years-old, but it didn’t stop him from spending parts of 11 seasons in the majors. Along with time spent with nine major league teams, he also donned uniforms of at least 18 minor league teams. Just before the start of the 2016 season, the San Diego Padres traded Kratz to the Astros for Dan Straily.
Kratz appeared in 14 of Houston’s first 36 games that season, but only collected two hits in 30 plate appearances. He was two-for-29 with a double, a walk, and 14 strikeouts. In 83 innings at the backstop, Kratz provided solid defense with only one error in 72 chances and a four-for-eight success rate in nabbing runners trying to steal. Then there was this:
Even so, the Astros released him on May 22.
878. Born in Tokyo, Japan, RHP Jeff McCurry was eventually chosen in the 1989 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates in round number 20, then again the following year in the 14th. He signed with them the second time, making his debut in the majors five years later. He also made big-league stops with the Detroit Tigers and the Colorado Rockies before rejoining the Bucs in 1998.
In January 1999, McCurry signed with the Astros through free agency. A good time was not had by either party. In five appearances, he allowed 11 hits and a pair of walks, striking out three and allowing eight runs (seven earned) in four innings.
877. 1B Nate Colbert joined the Astros organization via the rule 5 draft, from the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965. He made his first impression on the majors in 1966, when he went 0-for-7 as a pinch hitter, striking out four times. He also entered 12 other games as a pinch-runner, scoring three runs.
In 1967, Colbert racked up a .907 OPS with 28 home runs and 26 stolen bases between Hosuton’s Double- and Triple-A affiliates. This led to a return engagement on the Astros, in July of the following year. In his second look, he went three-for-22 with two RBI and a walk, along with another 11 strikeouts. After following with a minors-bound August, Colbert went five-for-31 with a double, two runs and two RBI for Houston in September.
It wasn’t a very noteworthy time in Colbert’s career, not for a guy who eventually racked up 14.4 bWAR, but everyone starts somewhere. Colbert went on to appear in a total of 1,004 major league games, between Houston, the San Diego Padres, the Detroit Tigers, the Montreal Expos and the Oakland Athletics.
876. Chase De Jong is a right-handed pitcher from Long Beach, CA. in 2012, the Toronto Blue Jays took him in the second round out of Woodrow Wilson HS. He eventually broke ground in the majors in 2017 with the Seattle Mariners, and later pitched with the Minnesota Twins. On August 6, 2020, there was apparently a run on serviceable arms as the season got to a condensed and very late start, and the Astros signed De Jong to a deal.
In De Jong’s first Astros appearance, on August 25, he allowed two runs on a walk and a hit in only 2⁄3 innings of relief work in a 12-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Two weeks later, the Astros used him as a starter against the Oakland Athletics, and he allowed another four earned runs in only three innings, on five hits and a walk. Houston did eventually win that one by a 5-4 final score (and let’s face it, they didn’t have many wins to spare in 2020). On September 27, De Jong started against the Texas Rangers, and gave up another six earned runs in only 3 2⁄3 innings.
Houston had seen enough, and De Jong was not a part of their postseason roster. He has spent the past three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
875. LHP Frank Carpin got his professional start in 1959 with the New York Yankees “B” club, the Greensboro Yankees (how inventive). To their credit, Carpin also appeared with Bomber affiliates the Binghamton Triplets, the Richmond Virginians, and the Amarillo Gold Sox. After the 1964 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Carpin from the Yankees in the minor league draft. He debuted that year with the Bucs, going 3-1 with a 3.18 in 39 relief appearances.
In a bit of turnabout is fair play, the Pirates lost Carpin after the 1965 season to the Astros via rule 5 draft. On May 5, he had a pretty good moment with the team. Tied 3-3 in the top of the 13th, Carpin relieved Don Lee with two out and two on. Carpin allowed a double steal, then caught Phillips stealing home. When Jim Wynn knocked home Joe Morgan off Ted Abernathy in the bottom of the frame, Carpin earned the win.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and puppies for Carpin. In 10 appearances he allowed seven runs in six frames, five earned on nine hits and six walks for a 2.5 WHIP.
874. Terry Clark is a right-handed pitcher from Los Angeles. In 1979, the St. Louis Cardinals spent their 23rd round choice on him, out of Mount San Antonio College (in Walnut, CA, go figure). Through six years in their minors he didn’t get anywhere. In 1986, he signed on with the California Angels, and broke into the majors in 1988. In 19 games, including 17 starts, he was 6-8 with a 5.06 ERA. Released after 1989, the Astros signed him through free agency.
Most of the 1990 season would see Clark playing for Houston in their high-A level with the Tucson Toros, going 11-4 with a 3.54 ERA. On July 24, in game two of a doubleheader, Clark got his first start with Hosuton. He lasted four innings against the Atlanta Braves, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and three walks. He struck out two and earned no decision, although Houston eventually lost, 9-8.
From 1991 through 1994, Clark battled through a wasteland of minor league clubs, in the systems for the Cleveland Indians, the San Diego Padres, the Braves, and the Baltimore Orioles. In 1995 he got back to the majors with both the Braves and the Orioles, then signed with the Kansas City Royals to start the 1996 season. Released on July 23, the Astros figured they’d give him a second look.
Well, Clark’s second time through wasn’t worse than his first, but it wasn’t really better either. In five games, he allowed 16 hits in 6 1⁄3 innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. He gave up 10 runs (eight earned) and posted an 0-2 record with an 11.37 ERA. Granted free agency following the season, Clark split the 1997 season between the Indians and the Texas Rangers. In 10 1⁄3 innings for the Astros, he had a -1.0 bWAR. in 221 innings everywhere else, he finished 0.5 bWAR.
873. C Robbie Wine is a right-handed native of Norristown, PA. Houston chose him in the first round back in 1983, out of Oklahoma State University with the eighth selection off the board. Afterward, he was assigned to Houston’s Low-A level, with the Auburn Astros, where he played 53 games and hit .242/.345/.424 with five jacks and 22 RBI. He also stole six bases in seven attempts.
At any rate, it was enough for Wine to earn a promotion to the Single-A level Daytona Beach Astros in 1984. In 124 contests, he hit .244/.329/.428 with 13 homers and 79 RBI. Another year, another level, Wine played with the Columbus Astros at Double-A in 1985, and hit .190/.245/.398 with 21 home runs and 55 RBI in 109 games. Although that was less than stellar, Wine joined the Triple-A Tucson Toros in 1986, and rebounded to a slash of .228/.317/.395 with 10 jacks and 44 RBI.
Also of particular note in 1986 was Wine’s initial ascension to the majors. He joined the Astros in September, and appeared in nine of Houston’s final 31 games. On September 27, he went two-for-four and scored twice in a 4-0 win against the Atlanta Braves. Overall, he hit three-for-12 with a double and a walk.
Wine’s numbers looked a lot better at Triple-A in 1987 with the Toros, a .241/.323/.477 line with nine home runs and 62 RBI. I have to feel the FO was encouraged by this enough to give Wine another look-see. He joined the Astros from July through the end of the year, and played in 14 games. He managed three hits in 31 plate appearances, with one walk, 10 strikeouts, one double and one run scored. After 1988 Spring Training, the Astros traded Wine to the Texas Rangers for Mike Loynd.
Wine appeared in the minors with the Rangers, the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, the Montreal Expos and the Cleveland Indians over the next three years, but never got back to the big leagues. He never got a single RBI.
872. Righty catcher Pat Borders was Toronto’s sixth-round pick in 1982, and in my head-canon is always a Blue Jay. Never mind that he played for eight other teams, he played 747 games in Toronto and 352 games between the other eight.
One of those teams just happened to be our favorite. Part of the Kansas City Royals in 1995, they sent him to Houston on August 11 for Rick Huisman. Borders played a grand total of 11 games with the Astros, going four-for-35 with a run scored and two walks. Defensively, Borders represented himself quite nicely, taking out six-of-12 basestealers and making just one error in 83 1⁄3 innings behind the plate. After the season, the Astros granted Borders his free agency.
871. Another catcher, switch-hitter Bob Stinson was drafted three times, twice in the first round. the final time was by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 15th overall selection in the 1966 draft. By 1969 he had made his way up to the bigs, and went three-for-11 in eight games over his first two seasons. After appearing in 17 contests for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971, a year he went four-for-19, they sent him to the Astros for Marty Martinez.
Stinson, also known as “Scrap Iron,” remained on Houston’s parent club roster all season, although he only appeared in 27 games. Just six-for-35 from the plate, with one walk and two RBI, Stinson’s lone extra-base hit was a double. Near the end of 1973 Spring Training, the Astros sold Stinson’s contract to the Montreal Expos.
That’s 105 down and 870 to go. Tune in to tomorrow’s Boil for Chapter 8.