Welcome to the Tuesday Boil
Houston Astros News
The manager move is made (Chipalatta)
AL West News
Who Should the Mariners Want More: SHOHEI OHTANI or JUAN SOTO?! (WKYC) — um, they should want Ohtani more. duh
Houston Astros Birthdays
1B J.J. Matijevic (28)
RHP Kent Bottenfield (55)
RHP Curt Schilling (57)
Everystros Countdown: Chapter XXI
689. Kirt Manwaring is a five-foot-11 right-handed catcher from Elmira, NY. Born on July 15, 1965, he was a 12th-round choice of the Boston Red Sox in 1983 out of Horseheads HS. Three years later, he was the second-round selection of the San Francisco Giants out of Coastal Carolina University.
Manwaring spent 10 seasons at San Francisco’s major league level (709 games, .246/.308/.319, 16 home runs, 207 RBI). On July 27, 1996, the Giants traded Manwaring to the Astros for Rick Wilkins and cash.
After joining the Astros Manwaring had two multiple-hit games, both in September. On the 6th of September, he hit two singles and a double, also scoring a run on an error in a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rockies. In the final game of the season, he went three-for-four in a 5-4 victory over the Florida Marlins.
Manwaring played in 37 games for Houston, hitting .220/.264/.256 with three doubles and four RBI. He drew three walks and struck out 16 times. A lot of Manwaring’s value was tied into his defensive acumen. In 224 2⁄3 innings behind the plate for the Astros, he made one error and threw out 15-of-32 baserunners trying to advance, a 47 percent CS-rate. Advanced defensive metrics suggest that Manwaring was worth about a half-win in his short time with the team, just going by range factor.
The Astros didn’t resign Manwaring, but they could have done worse, to be honest. Manwaring signed with the Rockies for the next two seasons (262 games, .247/.325/.320, five home runs, 67 RBI).
688. Ashur Tolliver is a six-foot left-handed pitcher from Little Rock, AR. Born on January 24, 1988, he was a fifth-round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, out of Oklahoma City University. Tolliver did reach the majors with the Orioles, although it took him awhile to get there. In 2016, he pitched 4 2⁄3 innings over five games, with a 5.79 ERA, a 1.714 WHIP, and five K’s.
Late in the 2016 season, Tolliver was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Angels. After the season was complete, Houston had the same opportunity when the Halos waived him. On May 21, he pitched four innings of one-run ball, striking out five in an 8-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians. On July 4, he pitched a scoreless seventh in a 16-4 win against the Atlanta Braves. Tolliver only played in three games for Houston in total, striking out five in five innings, with a 4.16 FIP and a 1.600 WHIP.
Tolliver also spent a good chunk of the 2017 season at Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies. In 35 1⁄3 innings he walked 33 and struck out 28, along with a 7.13 ERA. Released on August 13, the Seattle Mariners signed him five days later. He later pitched in independent ball for two seasons.
687. Billy Smith is a six-foot-seven right-handed pitcher from La Marque, TX. Born on September 13, 1954, Smith was a 14th-round choice for Houston in 1977, out of Sam Houston State University.
In 1981, Smith was 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA for the Triple-A Tucson Toros, with a 1.145 WHIP in 76 innings of work. Also in 1981, Smith appeared in 10 games at the major league level with Houston. On August 11, he pitched 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing a walk in a 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. On August 29, Smith earned his first major league win, going seven shutout innings and scattering up five singles and a walk. Smith only struck out one in that game, but strikeouts weren’t really Smith’s style.
In 20 2⁄3 innings in total for Smith in 1981, he allowed seven runs on 20 hits and three walks, striking out three batters and finishing with a 1.113 WHIP along with a 3.05 ERA. Smith actually faced one batter in Houston’s postseason that year, inducing a groundout from....Dusty Baker. Yup.
Cappuzzello did reach the bigs with the Big Cats, pitching 33 2⁄3 innings at baseball’s showcase level in 1981. He struck out 19 and was 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA. Near the end of Spring Training in 1982, the Tigers released Cappuzzello. The Astros signed him a week later.
Cappuzzello pitched 33 1⁄3 innings for the Tucson Toros in 1982, posting a 5-0 record with a 2.16 ERA. He also pitched a nice portion of the campaign with the Astros. On May 31, he pitched two scoreless innings in a 10-0 loss to the Montreal Expos. On June 26, he pitched two hitless innings, striking out three in a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. On July 31, he pitched three scoreless innings in a 5-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Finding Cappuzzello’s most impactful appearances was slightly difficult, as Houston was 1-16 in his appearances through the season. In 19 1⁄3 innings he allowed six runs on 16 hits and seven walks, striking out 13 for a 1.190 WHIP and a 2.79 ERA.
685. Tom Gordon, who is more famously known as “Flash Gordon,” (by both baseball fans and Stephen King fans), is a five-foot-nine right-handed pitcher from Sebring, FL. Born on November 18, 1967, he was a sixth-round choice in 1986 by the Kansas City Royals out of Avon Park HS. He eventually played 21 major league seasons between eight teams.
After his time with Kansas City (79-71, three saves, 4.02, 1149 2⁄3 IP), Gordon also played for the Boston Red Sox (25-25, 68 saves, 4.45, 495 1⁄3 IP) and the Chicago Cubs (2-3, 27 saves, 3.39, 69 IP).
Through Tom Gordon’s career, he was only traded once, changing teams via free agency much more frequently. On August 22, 2002, the Cubs sent Gordon to Houston for minor leaguers Russ Rohlicek, Travis Anderson, and Mike Nannini. Despite Gordon’s short time with Houston, this trade must be considered a win due to the three players traded for never playing in the majors.
Gordon was not utilized as a closer with the Astros (zero saves), nor was he used as a fireman (two inherited runners). What he was used as was a pretty good late-inning leverage guy. (aLI 1.15) On September 9, with the score tied at five, Gordon came in to pitch the seventh inning against the Rockies, holding Colorado scoreless with four strikeouts in two frames in an eventual 6-5, 10-inning win.
In 15 games in total for Houston, Gordon was 0-2 with a 3.32 ERA, 17 strikeouts in 19 innings, and a 1.105 WHIP. The Astros granted his free agency following the season.
Gordon went on to play for the Chicago White Sox (7-6, 12 saves, 3.16, 74 IP), the New York Yankees (14-8, six saves, 2.38, 170 1⁄3 IP, one All-Star appearance), the Philadelphia Phillies (11-10, 42 saves, 4.19, 129 IP, one All-Star appearance), and the Arizona Diamondbacks (0-1, zero saves, 21.60, 1 2⁄3 IP).
684. T.J. Mathews is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Belleville, IL, and the son of major league CF Nelson Mathews. Born on January 9, 1970, he was drafted three times, most recently in 1992 by the St. Louis Cardinals, in the 36th round out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He reached the majors with the Cards in 1995, and eventually played in parts of four seasons with them (1995-1997, 2001, 8-11, eight saves, 2.53, 174 IP). He also played parts of five seasons with the Oakland Athletics (24-15, eight saves, 4.78, 243 IP).
On January 7, 2002, Mathews signed with the Astros through free agency. On April 23, he pitched two hitless innings, allowing only a walk and striking out three batters in a 4-3 loss to the Florida Marlins. On May 2, he struck out three and held the lead for 2 2⁄3 innings in an 8-2 victory over the Montreal Expos.
Mathews appeared in 12 games for Houston that season, putting up a 3.44 ERA and striking out 13 in 18 1⁄3 innings. He allowed seven runs on 19 hits and five walks, finishing with a 1.309 WHIP.
683. Lee Bales is a five-foot-10 second baseman from Los Angeles, CA. Born on December 4, 1944, Bales started his pro baseball career with the Boise Braves, Milwaukee’s Single-A club in the Pioneer League in 1963. He reached the majors with the Braves after they moved to Atlanta, making his debut with them in 1966, going one-for-16 with four runs scored and five strikeouts.
After the season, the Braves traded Bales with Tom Dukes and Dan Schneider to the Astros for minor leaguer Ed Pacheco, John Hoffman, and Gene Ratliff. For his part, Bales was three-for-27 with two RBI, four runs scored, eight walks and seven strikeouts. That resulted in a weird-looking .111/.306/.111 slashline. Defensively, he made one error in 45 2⁄3 innings at second base and took five chances without an error in six innings at shortstop.
Bales remained in Houston’s system for another year, hitting .200 between their top two minor league levels in 1968, but did not advance back to the majors. Bales still lives in Houston. I wonder if he reads this blog....SABR Bio
682. Sid Bream is a six-foot-four lefty first baseman from Carlisle, PA. Born on August 3, 1960, Bream was a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981 out of Liberty University. He made it to the majors for the first time with the Dodgers in 1983, eventually playing in parts of three seasons with the club (66 games, .159/.252/.265, three homers, 14 RBI). He later also played with the Pittsburgh Pirates (643 games, .269/.341/.429, 57 home runs, 293 RBI) and the Atlanta Braves (333 games, .259/.330/.417, 30 home runs, 141 RBI).
Bream signed with the Astros for the 1994 campaign, and played in 70 games for the team. On June 27, he led off the top of the ninth in a 6-6 tie with the Cincinnati Reds with a pinch-double, but was stranded. Houston did win in 11, on a Craig Biggio walk-off double. The next day, Bream closed a 4-2 deficit by one run with another pinch-double, driving in Andujar Cedeno. The Astros lost that one, 5-3.
Bream went 21-for-61 with five doubles and seven RBI, scoring seven runs, He matched his strikeouts to his walks, with nine each, posting a career-high .855 OPS in his final major league season. Granted free agency after the season, Bream retired to A Pittsburgh suburb.
681. Mike Henneman is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from St. Charles, MO. Born on December 11, 1961, he was drafted three times in total, the final time in the fourth round in 1984 by the Detroit Tigers out of Oklahoma State University.
Henneman eventually reached the majors in 1987 with the Tigers, and came out of their bullpen for the better part of nine seasons (57-34, 154 saves, 3.05, 669 2⁄3 IP, 1989 All-Star appearance). On August 10, 1995, the Tigers traded Henneman to the Astros for PTBNL Phil Nevin.
On August 12, in his first appearance with the Astros, Henneman nailed down the final three outs in a scoreless ninth for his 19th save of the season in a 3-1 win against the New York Mets. The next day, he earned another save, striking out the side in a 5-3 win over the Mets.
Henneman appeared in 21 games for the Astros through the end of the campaign, finishing all but three of them and winding up with eight saves. He struck out 19 in 21 innings, giving up seven runs on 21 hits and four walks. He had a 3.00 ERA, a 2.77 FIP, and a 1.190 WHIP.
Henneman was granted free agency following the season, and signed on with the Texas Rangers (0-7, 31 saves, 5.79, 42 IP).
680. Kent Emanuel is a six-foot-four left-handed pitcher from Woodstock, GA. Born on June 4, 1992, he was originally drafted in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 19th round out of high school. Instead of signing, he got himself a college edumacation, and the Astros, no doubt appreciative, spent a third-round pick on him three years later out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Emanuel had a long hard slog through Houston’s minors before making his way to the bigs. It would be eight years before he got to the Astros in 2021, joining the club early in the season. On April 24, in his debut, he pitched the final 8 2⁄3 innings after Jake Odorizzi was lifted after five pitches with “forearm tightness.” Emanuel had a debut to remember, limiting the Los Angeles Angels to two runs (both solo homers) on five hits and no walks, striking out five while getting 65-of-90 over the plate in a 16-2 win.
Emanuel settled into Houston’s bullpen after his heroic relief effort, appearing in another nine games in relief over the next month of baseball. He pitched 17 2⁄3 innings in total, striking out 13 and allowing five earned runs on 12 hits and four walks. He had a 2.55 ERA and a 0.906 WHIP, holding his opponents to a .191/.250/.381 slashline.
Emanuel had to receive season-ending surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow in early June, and has not returned to the majors yet. He’s spent the last two seasons in the minor league systems of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.
679. Scott Loucks is a six-foot right-handed centerfielder from Anchorage, AK. Born on November 11, 1956, he was Houston’s fifth-round selection in the 1977 draft out of Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He reached the majors with Houston in 1980.
Loucks’ first look at the majors was mostly as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, although he did go one-for-three in eight games in September, with four runs scored and two strikeouts. He also handled 6 1⁄3 innings in the outfield without incident.
In 1981, Loucks again reached the majors for Houston in September, four times as a pinch-runner before getting a plate appearance. I’m sure he made them think again when he went three-for-four on October 4, drawing a walk and scoring a run in a 5-3 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went four-for-seven with a walk and three strikeouts, and spent another 19 innings on the outfield grass without an error.
In 1982, Loucks’ patience paid off with an April invitation to join the big boys. Unfortunately, he went 0-for-13 in his first 14 plate appearances as his career 1.046 OPS regressed hard to the mean. On September 26, he hit a single and a double with two RBI in a 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Overall, he was 11-for-49 with six runs, two doubles, three RBI, three walks, and 17 strikeouts. He handled 41-of-42 outfield chances cleanly, adding three assists to his rap sheet.
The 1983 campaign resumed the pattern of joining the team in September. He was three-for-14 with a walk and two runs in seven games. He handled another 32 innings in the outfield without adding to his one career error.
Four seasons, and 78 plate appearances for Loucks for a .260/.308/.288 slashline in 69 games. On July 4, 1984, the Astros traded him to the Montreal Expos for Brad Mills. Loucks appeared in four games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1985, going two-for-seven with a pair of doubles. That was his last time in the majors, but a .263 career batting average is still pretty cool.
678. Reggie Abercrombie is a six-foot-three right-handed CF from Columbus, GA. Born on July 15, 1980, he was a 23rd-round choice of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1999 out of Columbus HS.
By the time he got to the majors, it was 2006 and he was with the Florida Marlins. He appeared in 146 games for the Fish over parts of two seasons, slashing .208/.263/.329 with seven home runs and 29 RBI.
After the 2007 season was in the books, the Astros chose Abercrombie off the waivers from Florida. He would appear in 60 games for the Astros in 2008, starting in early June. On June 11, he went two-for-four with a double and a run in a 10-6 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. On September 6, he hit a single and a pair of doubles in a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Abercrombie went 17-for-55 with five doubles and two home runs for the Astros, with five RBI, 10 runs scored, one walk, and 23 strikeouts. His one-season slashline with Houston was 309/.339/.509, but who’s counting.
After his affiliated baseball career ended, Abercrombie continued to play professionally, first with the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants, then with a host of other teams, including the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who eventually retired his number after he led them to two league championships.
677. Peter Solomon is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Washington, D.C. Born on August 16, 1996, he was a 21st-round choice of the San Diego Padres in 2014 out of high school. Three years later, he was a fourth-round pick of the Houston Astros out of Notre Dame.
Solomon reached the majors with the Astros in 2021. pitching a pair of games in April. On April 21, he struck out two over one shutout inning in a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies. He also appeared in one game in July, then rejoined the team again for three more games in late-September. On September 24, he pitched three shutout innings, striking out four and holding the A’s to two hits and zero walks in a 14-2 drubbing of Oakland.
Solomon pitched in a total of six games for Houston, amounting to 14 innings. He limited opponents to 10 hits and eight walks while striking out 10, finishing with a 1.29 ERA and a 1.286 WHIP.
Solomon did not return to the majors in 2022, but in 2023, reached the top again with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up 18 runs in 13 1⁄3 innings in April, and was granted free agency after the season.