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Nevada’s gamble on the A’s: A billionaire’s quest for greener pastures in a desert (The Nevada Independent)
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Houston Astros Birthdays
RHP Anthony Bass (36) made 21 relief appearances with the 2014 Astros, with a 6.33 ERA and a 1.444 WHIP in 27 innings.
RHP Rhiner Cruz (37) appeared in 72 games for Houston between 2012 and 2013, pitching 76 1⁄3 innings with a 5.05 FIP and a 1.703 WHIP.
OF Howie Goss (1934-1996) was Houston’s regular centerfielderin 1963 . In 133 games he slashed .209/.264/328)
RHP Russ Kemmerer (1930-2014) appeared 53 times for the 1962 and 1963 Houton Colt .45s. He was 5-3 with a 4.01 FIP and a 1.366 WHIP.
Everystros Countdown Chapter VIII
We’re still near the start of the third bracket of the countdown, that of players with between 21 and 100 PA/BF while with the Houston franchise. Today’s group of 15 features players somewhat below replacement level, between negative-.0130 and negative-.0106 bWAR per PA/BF.
870. Danny Walton came up as a left fielder, although he also played third base, right field, first base, and even catcher for a bit. In 1965, the Houston Astros took him in round 10 out of Bishop Amat Memorial HS. A native of Morgan, UT, Walton made his first MLB appearance in 1968. On April 20, he grounded into a double play in his first plate appearance, in a 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The next day he struck out in his second pinch hit attempt. That was it for Walton’s (first) time in Houston.
While in the minors, Walton was traded with Sandy Valdespino to the Seattle Pilots for Tommy Davis at the 1969 trade deadline. He hit .217 in 23 games for the Pilots, then .257 in his most prolific season, with a 117 game sample with the relocated and renamed Milwaukee Brewers. He also played for the New York Yankees, the Minnesota Twins, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
LA traded Walton back to the Astros for Alex Taveras and Bob Detherage on September 5, 1977. Walton then appeared in 13 of Houston’s final 25 games. He hit four singles in 21 plate appearances, with zero walks and five strikeouts. He did collect an RBI for Houston on September 9, in a 6-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. Houston released Walton near the end of 1979 Spring Training. Walton made it back for 10 games in 1980 with the Texas Rangers, but that was his last time in the majors.
869. Oliver Pérez is a left-handed pitcher from Culiacan, MX. He was a starting pitcher for the first half of his 20-season MLB career, before making a permanent home in the bullpen. It really was a one-way permanent move. Pérez started in 195 of his first 196 appearances, then relieved in his final 507 appearances.
Pérez started his major league career in 2002 with the San Diego Padres (8-12, 4.51), and also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates (21-28, 4.59), the New York Mets (29-29, 4.71), the Seattle Mariners (4-6, 3.16), and the Arizona Diamondbacks (6-6, 3.53).
On August 8, 2015, the Diamondbacks traded Pérez to the Astros for Junior Garcia, and Pérez remained with Houston through the rest of the season. In 22 appearances, he went 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. He faced 55 batters over 12 innings, striking out 14, walking four, and allowing 12 runs (nine earned) on 14 hits. He posted a 3.97 FIP and a 1.500 WHIP. Houston granted his free agency following the season.
Pérez followed his time with Houston playing with the Washington Nationals (2-3, 4.81), the Cleveland Indians (4-7, 2.57) and the Diamondbacks. He retired following the 2022 season.
868. RHP Casey Daigle is a six-foot-six right handed pitcher from Lake Charles, LA. In 1999, the Arizona Diamondbacks spent their first-round pick on him, with the 31st choice overall. He got to the majors for the first time in 2004, and ended up with 10 starts that year, going 2-3 with a 7.16 ERA. After retooling as a reliever in the minors in 2005, he came out of the bullpen 10 times for the Diamondbacks in 2006. He struck out seven in 12 1⁄3 innings, with a 1.622 WHIP and a 4.53 FIP.
Daigle spent 2007 back in Arizona’s minors, then spent 2008 in the minors for the Minnesota Twins. Early in the 2009 season, the Astros signed him through free agency. After a year in Houston’s minors, he joined Houston in the majors for 13 games in 2010. He was 1-1 with an 11.32 ERA and six K’s in 10 1⁄3 innings. He allowed 25 hits and six walks for a 3.000 WHIP and a 7.43 FIP. Houston dropped him after the season, and after spending 2011 in San Francisco’s system, Daigle retired from baseball.
867. RHP Brady Rodgers was the 39th-round choice of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009 out of Lamar Consolidated HS, but instead went to Arizona State University. Houston chose him in the third round in 2012.
Rodgers worked his way up through Houston’s system, earning honors in 2016 as the PCL and the Triple-A Pitcher of the Year. For this honor, he went 12-4 in 22 starts, pitching 132 innings and striking out 116. He posted a 2.86 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. After the season, Rodgers joined the Astros at their parent club level and pitched in five games. He was solid on September 11 in a 9-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs, when he pitched two hitless innings and struck out two, but the bottom line wasn’t so rosy. He pitched 8 1⁄3 innings and struck out three, walking seven and allowing 14 runs on 15 hits.
It took Rodgers another three years to get back to the majors with the Astros. Again, his performance wasn’t as good as his minor-league pedigree would have you expecting. In five innings over three relief appearances, he allowed nine runs on seven hits (including four home runs) and three walks. He struck out four, but it was his last look at baseball’s top level.
866. LF Bob Cerv, from Weston, NE, started his major league career with the New York Yankees in 1951. He also spent time with the Kansas City Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels. Back with the Yankees in 1962, the Houston Colt .45s purchased his contract on June 26.
On July 8, Cerv hit two home runs in an eventual 12-11 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. In total, he hit .226/.273/.419 in 19 games, comprising 33 plate appearances. He struck out 10 times, and made one error in eight chances in 44 innings of left field.
865. Another victim of high expectations, RHP Gary Wilson was Houston’s first-round pick in 1976, with the second overall choice out of Southern Arkansas University. He pitched 639 innings between Houston’s top three farm teams between 1976 and 1979, starting 97 times and relieving four other times, going 41-37 in a time where a win-loss record was actually somewhat indicative of a pitcher’s prowess. Things have changed on that front (but that’s another article, look out for it on Friday).
Wilson made his major league debut in 1979 with the Astros. In six appearances, he only finished with a positive WPA once, on May 5. In that game, he tossed two scoreless one-hit innings, striking out two and walking two in a 6-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Overall, Wilson allowed 11 runs (10 earned) on 15 hits and six walks in 7 1⁄3 innings. He struck out six but posted a 12.27 ERA and a 2.864 WHIP.
Wilson went 12-9 the following season back at Triple-A, with a 3.47 ERA, but he wouldn’t get back to the majors again. He played 1981 in the Texas Rangers system and 1982 with the Toronto Blue Jays farm system.
864. Righty hitting and throwing outfielder Al Javier started his professional career in 1971 at the age of 17, in Houston’s rookie level with the Sumter Astros and the Covington Astros. He also played with the Cocoa Astros, the Cedar Rapids Astros, the Columbus Astros, the Iowa Oaks and the Memphis Blues. He joined Houston in September, 1976.
On September 19, in a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres, Javier drew a walk in the second, singled and scored a go-ahead run in the seventh, then singled to open the ninth. Pulled for a pinch-runner who scored the game winning walk-off, it still represented Javier’s best day in the majors.
In eight games for Houston to close out the 1976 season, Javier went five-for-24 with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. His run against the Padres was the only one he scored. After spending 1977 back in Houston’s minors, he later played in the Chicago Cubs system before joining the Plataneros de Tabasco in 1981.
863. Alan Zinter from El Paso, TX, took the long way around to the majors. A switch-hitting first baseman, the San Diego Padres drafted him in round 23 of the 1986 draft out of J.M Hanks HS. The New York Mets later took him in the first round in 1989, picked 24th overall.
Between 1989 and 2002, Zinter played with the St. Lucie Mets, the Pittsfield Mets, the Jackson Mets, the Williamsport Bills, the Binghampton Mets, the Toledo Mud Hens, the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Tacoma Rainers, the Iowa Cubs, the Seibu Lions, the Tucson Sidewinders, and the New Orleans Zephyrs.
In 2002, at the age of 34, Zinter joined the Astros at the major league level in mid-June, then appeared in 39 of Houston’s final 99 games. A large majority of the time, Zinter was called on to pinch-hit, but he did start twice at first base, fielding 27 error-less innings, and even caught an inning without a problem. At the dish, he collected six hits in 44 plate appearances, failing to draw a walk. He scored five runs and hit two doubles and two home runs with three RBI.
Zinter spent the 2003 season back in the minors for the Astros, then split 2004 between the Arizona Diamondbacks parent club and Triple-A farm club. In his second trip through the majors, he hit .206/.300/.353 with one home run and six RBI. In 2005 and 2006, he played in Arizona’s and Houston’s minor league Triple-A affiliates, respectively. Zinter’s baseball legacy shouldn’t be limited to his 67 games in the majors. He also hit 250 minor league home runs in 1728 career games, hitting .258/.355/.461.
862. RHP Lance Pendleton was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 13th round in 2002, then again in the fourth round by the New York Yankees in 2005. In 2009, Pendleton was honored with a selection to the Florida State League All-Star Team. He was 11-5 with a 2.58 ERA that season, starting 18 games and striking out 87 in 104 2⁄3 innings.
In 2011, Pendleton appeared in 11 games out of the Yankees bullpen, striking out eight in 14 innings of work. On September 9, the Astros selected him off waivers. Between the 11th and 28th of the month, Pendleton pitched 4 2⁄3 innings in four appearances. He allowed opposing hitters to slash .435/.482/1.044 and put up a 17.36 ERA.
Pendleton played another season in the minors with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2012, pitching 129 innings and going 8-7.
861. LHP Don Arlich, a product of Wayne, MI, began his professional career in 1961 with the Jacksonville Jets. In 1962 and 1963 he played with the Durham Bulls (3-3, 4.09 and 10-7, 4.05). He played 1964 with the San Antonio Bullets (7-3, 3.00) and 1965 with the Amarillo Sonics (8-8, 3.45). Also in 1965, he joined the Astros in the majors for the first time.
Arlich started Houston’s penultimate game of the 1965 season, lasting until the sixth inning. He earned no decision and registered a Quality Start, allowing two earned runs on five hits and a walk.
In 1966, with the Oklahoma City 89ers, Arlich was 6-10 with a 4.41 ERA. In July, he joined the Astros bullpen. Between July 9 and August 4, he made seven appearances, all Houston losses, but only one charged to Arlich. In four innings, he gave up 11 hits and four walks for nine runs (seven earned). That’s a 3.750 WHIP and a 15.75 ERA. In Arlich’s total of 10 major league innings, he struck out one batter.
860. J.R. Phlllips was drafted by the California Angels in the fourth round in 1988 out of Bishop Amat Memorial HS. A West Covina, CA native, Phillips was a lefty-batting and throwing first baseman. traded to the San Francisco Giants before making the majors, he made his debut with them in 1993, playing 133 games with them through 1996 and joining the Philadelphia Phillies for 35 games at the tail end of 1996.
Midway through 1997 Spring Training, Phillies signed a free agent contract with Houston. On July 26, with one out in the bottom of the ninth and two runners on, trailing the Montreal Expos by an 8-5 score, Phillips collected his first major league hit by driving it over the right field fence to tie the score at eight. Houston won, 9-8 in the 10th on Sean Berry’s solo shot.
But that home run was about all Phillips had to write home about through that year. He was two-for-15 overall, with one additional run and one additional RBI and seven strikeouts. In 1998, he played in 36 games for Houston. On July 12, he had another day to remember with a single in the second, an RBI-single in the fourth, and a solo home run in the seventh. It wasn’t enough, however, to top the Mark McGuire-led St. Louis Cardinals as Houston lost, 6-4.
Overall, Phillips was 11-for-58 with four runs, two homers, and nine RBI. He drew seven walks and struck out 22 times. In 1999, he hit .231 in 25 games for the Colorado Rockies.
859. Pat House is a left-handed pitcher from Boise, ID. He started his pro career in the Pioneer League with the Boise Braves, a C-level club in the Milwaukee Braves organization where he was 4-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Over the next few seasons, he rattled around in the minors for the Braves and the Chicago White Sox. After the 1966 season, the Astros selected House from the Braves in the minor league draft.
House got into six games with the Astros in 1967, all in relief. He was 1-0 with a save, and pitched well in a small sample, with two strikeouts and two runs given up in four innings.
A larger sample size didn’t do House many favors in 1968. In 16 1⁄3 innings, he had a 7.71 ERA. He gave up 15 runs (14 earned) on 21 hits and six walks, striking out six and hitting two batters. House spent another year in Houston’s system in 1969, and he was 9-9 with a 2.57 ERA. He spent two more seasons in the minors after that, but didn’t get back to the majors.
858. Don Bryant is a catcher from Jacksonville, FL. He started his pro career with the Detroit Tigers D-level team in 1960, the Montgomery Rebels. He eventually wound up in the Chicago Cubs’ system, and reached the majors for them in 1966, but followed with two seasons in the minors for the San Francisco Giants.
In the season-following 1968 rule 5 draft, the Astros chose Bryant. He played in 31 games for Houston in 1969, hitting .186 with a double, a homer, and six RBI. He drew four walks and struck out 13 times. The Milwaukee Brewers chose him from Houston’s roster in the 1969 minor league draft after that season, but had to return him due to receiving an earlier draft pick. In another 15 games for Houston in 1970, he went five-for-24 with three RBI, one walk, and eight strikeouts.
857. Wade LeBlanc is a left-handed pitcher from Lake Charles, LA. He was initially drafted in the 36th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003 out of high school, but went to the University of Alabama instead. In 2006, the San Diego Padres spent their second-round choice on him. Two years later, he reached the majors for them.
LeBlanc was 17-22 with a 4.54 ERA as a starter in San Diego’s rotation, then joined the Miami Marlins and posted a 3-10 record with a 4.30 ERA. The Marlins had seen enough of LeBlanc, apparently, and lost him to the Astros via waivers on June 8, 2013.
LeBlanc only played in four games for Houston, all in relief. In 6 1⁄3 innings, he allowed 10 runs (nine earned) and struck out two. He gave up nine hits and five walks over that time, with a 7.11 ERA. At this point, I guess Houston had seen enough of him as well, and granted his release.
But cry not for LeBlanc. He subsequently enjoyed a long and productive MLB career, making stops for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (talk about buttering your bread on both sides), the New York Yankees, the Seattle Mariners, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Baltimore Orioles, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
856. OF Eric Bullock was an 18th-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978, a first-round pick of the San Diego Padres in the 1981 January draft, and a first-round pick of Houston, 20th overall in June, 1981. He actually signed with the Astros, and got to the majors with them four years later.
In 1985, Bullock went seven-for-25 in 18 games for Houston, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He hit two doubles and collected a pair of RBI. On September 30 and October 1, he had two hits in each game, including a double in the latter, a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves. In a return engagement in 1986, he didn’t fare as well, going one-for-21 with an RBI and two stolen bases.
On June 2, 1987, the Astros traded Bullock to the Minnesota Twins for Clay Christiansen. Bullock went on to play for the Twins, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Montreal Expos.
And that is 120 players down and 855 to go for those of you counting. Join us tomorrow for Phil Nevin, Captain Bligh, and 13 others you may or may not remember.