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Everystros Countdown: Chapter XXVI
Today’s group includes a dozen former Astros who collectively racked up 9.5 wins below replacement. In 2,351 collective PA/BF, this group averaged negative-0.0040 bWAR per BF/PA while with the team.
624. Juan Guerrero is a five-foot-11 left-side infielder from Los Llanos, DR. Born on February 1, 1967, he got his start with the Rookie-affiliate of the San Francisco Giants in 1987. By 1991 while with their Double-A affiliate, the Shreveport Captains in the Texas League, he was racking up a .940 OPS in 128 games and leading the Texas League with 40 doubles. After the season, the Astros picked him up via rule 5 draft.
Getting selected in the rule 5 means that the player chosen needs to remain at the major league level for the entire season or be forfeit back to the originating team. Luckily for Guerrero, he spent the entire season with the Astros at the major league level.
Guerrero played in 79 games in total, starting in 22 and collecting multiple hits three times. On July 21, he pinch-hit with the score tied in the 10th and drew a leadoff walk but got stranded. As luck would have it, he got another chance in the 12th, and walked off the Pittsburgh Pirates with a solo bomb for a 4-3 victory.
Over the course of the season, Guerrero went 25-for-125 with four doubles, two triples, and that home run. He walked 10 times, scored eight times, drove 14 in, and stole the only base he attempted, striking out 32 times and slashing .200/.261/.288.
Guerrero did not appear in affiliated ball in 1993, but spent 1994 and 1995 back with the Astros with the Triple-A Tucson Toros. He did not graduate back to the majors, later popping up in the Mexican League, the Chinese League, and the Northern League East.
623. Eric Munson is a six-foot-three lefty-batting and righty-throwing corner infielder and catcher from San Diego, CA. Born on October 3, 1977, Munson was chosen in the second round of the draft in 1996 by the Atlanta Braves out of high school. Instead of signing, he joined the University of Southern California, and was taken in the first round by the Detroit Tigers three years later, with the third overall choice.
Munson reached the bigs with the Tigers in 2000, and eventually played in parts of five seasons (246 games, .215/.287/.414, 40 home runs, 111 RBI). He then played in the majors for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2005 (11 games, three-for-18, two RBI).
On December 22, 2005, Munson signed a free-agent deal to join the Houston Astros. He ended up playing a large majority of the campaign with the Astros proper. On June 11, he hit two home runs for four RBI in a 14-4 win against the Braves. On July 2, he hit a two-run single in the first to get Houston on the board, a three-run double in the fifth to make it 9-4 Houston, and threw in a leadoff single in the ninth for good measure in a 9-5 win against the Texas Rangers.
Munson played in 53 games for Houston that year, going 28-for-141 at bat, with six doubles, five homers, and 19 RBI. He scored 10 times and drew 11 walks with 32 strikeouts. Defensively he made one error in 275 1⁄3 innings for a .995 fielding percentage, and threw out eight-of-23 runners trying to steal, which was a quarter higher rate than the “average” NL pitcher (or a 125 CS+, if you will).
In 2007, Munson played 50 games each with the Round Rock Express (283/.368/.509) and with Houston. On August 6, Munson entered in the ninth inning of a 1-1 tie with the Chicago Cubs as a defensive replacement, then stuck around long enough to walk it off with an RBI-single in the 10th for a 2-1 win.
Overall, Munson was 31-for-132 with Houston in 2007, with four doubles, four homers, and 15 RBI. He drew 16 walks and scored 14 times, with 15 strikeouts. He made two errors behind the plate for a .991 fielding percentage, and threw out three-of-26 trying to steal (CS+ of 40) After the 2007 season was over, the Milwaukee Brewers claimed him off waivers from Houston. Munson only returned to the major leagues for one game with the 2009 Oakland Athletics, going 0-for-1.
622. Fernando Martínez is a six-foot-one lefty-batting and righty-throwing left fielder from Rio San Juan, PR. Born on October 10, 1988, Martínez kicked off his professional career in 2006 split between the Rookie-level GCL Mets, the Low-A Hagerstown Suns, and the High-A St. Lucie Mets, hitting .279 in 76 games combined. Later that year, he hit .253 in 25 games for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.
Martínez remained in New York’s system until 2011, making his first major league appearances in 2009 and eventually appearing in 47 games over three seasons (.183/.250/.290, two homers, 12 RBI). In the offseason preceding 2012 Spring Training, the Astros claimed Martínez off waivers from the Mets.
Martínez didn’t start the season with Houston, joining them for four games in June and going one-for-15 with a two-run double. After getting sent down for a month, he joined the team for the rest of the season on August 10, appearing in 36 of Houston’s final 49 games. He totaled multiple hits five times, including on September 30 with a single and a solo home run in a 7-0 blanking of the Milwaukee Brewers.
In 41 games in total for Houston, Martínez went 28-for-118 with seven doubles, a triple, and six home runs, with six walks, 12 runs, and 34 strikeouts. That resulted in a pretty good .237/.300/.466 line. He paired that with 275 2⁄3 errorless innings in the outfield, mostly in left.
Martínez returned to the Astros early in the 2013 campaign, appearing in 11 games between April 21 and May 5. On April 25, he hit three singles in a 7-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Overall, he was six-for-31 with a home run and three RBI. He also played another 65 errorless games in the outfield. Houston granted his free agency following the season.
621. Gregg Zaun is a five-foot-10 switch-hitting catcher from Glendale, CA. Born on April 14, 1971, he was a 17th-round choice of the Baltimore Orioles in 1989 out of St. Francis HS. He eventually reached the majors with the Birds in 1995, and eventually played parts of three seasons with them (146 games, .245/.343/.374, eight home runs, 40 RBI). He also played for the Florida Marlins (174 games, .229/.323/.374, eight home runs, 51 RBI) and the Kansas City Royals (122 games, 13 home runs, 51 RBI).
On December 11, 2001, the Astros signed Zaun through free agency to back up incumbent Brad Ausmus. In 76 games played for Houston through the season, he collected multiple hits in 10 of them. The highlight of his season, no doubt, was on June 27. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, trailing 4-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Zaun took Byung-Hyun Kim deep to right field for a walkoff grand slam.
Overall Zaun was 41-for-185 with seven doubles, a triple and three homers with 24 RBI. He drew 12 walks, scored 18 runs, and struck out 36 times, slashing a .222/.275/.319 line for Houston.
Zaun remained with the Astros in 2003, appearing in 59 games through the first 3⁄4 season. He hit .217/.299/.300, going 26-for-120 with seven doubles, a homer and 13 RBI, with nine runs, 14 walks and 14 strikeouts. Houston released Zaun on August 21, but he was only out of work for five days, signing soon afterward with the Colorado Rockies.
After Zaun’s time with the Rockies (15 games, .261/.333/.478, three homers, eight RBI), he later played with the Toronto Blue Jays (535 games. .255/.354/.399, 45 home runs, 219 RBI), the Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays (99 games, .287/.323/.489, four home runs, 14 RBI_ and the Milwaukee Brewers (117 games, .265/.350/.392, two home runs, 14 RBI).
620. Mike Felder is a five-foot-eight switch-hitting outfielder from Vallejo, CA. Born on November 18, 1961, he was a third-round selection of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1981 out of Contra Costa College.
Felder reached the majors with the Crew in 1985, and played six seasons with them (455 games, .247/.301/.323, nine home runs, 99 RBI). He also played for the San Francisco Giants (277 games, .275/.327/.354, four homers, 41 RBI) and the Seattle Mariners (109 games, .211/.262/.269, one home runs, 20 RBI). After the 1993 season came to a close, the Mariners traded Felder with Mike Hampton to the Astros for Eric Anthony.
Felder played in 58 games for Houston in 1994, collecting multiple hits five times. He hit three singles with an RBI on May 7, scoring twice in an 11-7 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. On July 18, he hit a single and a triple with three RBI in a 15-12 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Felder was 28-for-117 in 1994 for Houston, with two doubles, two triples and 13 RBI. He drew four walks, scored 10 runs, stole three bases in three attempts, and struck out 12 times, a K-rate of just 9.8 percent. In the field, he made one error in 39 chances over 184 innings, mostly in right. He also made two outfield assists. Released to free agency at the conclusion of the season, he didn’t again reach the majors.
619. Louie Meadows is a five-foot-11 left-handed leftfielder from Maysville, NC. Born on April 29, 1961, he was a second-round pick for Houston in 1982, out of North Carolina State University. By 1984, between Single-A Dayton Bech and Double-A Columbus, he had a .291/.395/.503 line with 14 homers and 80 RBI in 135 Games, along with 25 stolen bases. By 1986, he was slashing .300/.401/.507 at Triple-A with the Tucson Toros.
On July 3, 1986, Meadows got his first taste of the majors, and appeared in six games with the Astros that month, going two-for-six with one stolen base and one run. Back with the Toros in 1987, Meadows hit .258/.364/.444 with 10 jacks and 26 stolen bases in 129 games.
In 1988, Meadows again spent the bulk of the campaign back with Tucson, where you have to imagine he probably made a home for himself by this point. He joined the Astros in June, remaining through the end of July and playing in 19 games for Houston. On July 1, appearing in both halves of a doubleheader Meadows went three-for-seven with two walks, two stolen bases, a triple and a home run. The Astros split with the New York Mets, 2-3 and 6-5.
Sent back down to the Toros for August, Meadows played the entire month of September with Houston once again. Between the two trips to the parent level he was just eight-for-42 with a triple, two homers, and three RBI. He drew six walks, scored five runs, stole four bases, and struck out eight times.
Once again, Meadows spent the biggest part of 1989 playing with the Toros. From mid-May through mid-July, he played 31 games for the Astros. On June 4, he hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth, making a five-run deficit into a ballgame. He added a 10th-inning single in the eventual 7-6 13-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Overall that year, he was nine-for-51 with three jacks and 10 RBI. He drew one walk, scored five runs, and stole one base in three attempts.
Meadows appeared in 25 games for the Toros through the month of April in 1990, racking up a .925 OPS. On May 11, he rejoined the Astros. Over 15 games he was two-for-14 with two walk and three runs. On June 13 Houston granted his free agency. Three weeks later he signed a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, and played in 15 games for them later in the season (one-for-14).
618. Darin Downs is a six-foot-three left-hand pitcher from Southfield, MI. Born on December 26, 1984, he was a fifth-round choice in 2003 by the Chicago Cubs out of high school. A 10-year slog through the minors followed, with stops for the Cubs, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Florida Marlins, and the Detroit Tigers.
It was with Detroit for whom Downs finally broke through in 2012. In parts of two seasons in the bigs for them, he was 2-3 with a 4.34 ERA, a 1.321 WHIP, a 3.42 FIP, a 98 ERA+, and 9.2 K/9. After the 2013 season, the Astros claimed Downs when Detroit tried to pass him through waivers. Nice try, Tigers.
Downs joined the Astros in May, and pitched out of the bullpen for the entire season. On June 8, he got his first win of the season when he got the final eight outs over 2 2⁄3 shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out two in a 14-5 drubbing of the Minnesota Twins. On September 19, he had his most positively impactful game of the year when with a two-run lead over the Seattle Mariners he inherited a runner on first with no outs in the sixth and retired the side on five pitches. He then gave up a walk but got three outs on another 10 pitches in the seventh for a successful hold in an eventual 5-2 win. So yeah, 15 pitches for six outs.
Overall, Downs was 2-1 with a 5.45 ERA in 34 2⁄3 innings for Houston. He struck out 27 versus 20 walks, and allowed 28 runs on 54 hits.
617. Brandon Duckworth is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Salt Lake City, UT. Born on January 23, 1976, he was a 30th-round choice of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995 out of the College of Southern Idaho. He went back for another year of learning, and we again selected the following season, this time by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 61st round. Yeah, the 61st round. Better than Mike Piazza anyway.
Duckworth was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies by the time he reached the big leagues in 2001. In three seasons of major league play for the parent-club level he was 15-18 with a 4.87 ERA and 275 K’s in 325 innings. He had a 1.428 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 for Philadelphia.
After the 2003 season was in the books, the Phils traded Duckworth with Ezequiel Astacio and Taylor Buchholz to the Astros for Billy Wagner. In his first season with the ‘stros, Duckworth missed a significant portion of the season by playing for Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs.
Duckworth didn’t put up great numbers for the Astros as either a reliever or (for four turns) a starter, but he was noticeably less adept at starting, with a 1.084 opposing OPS versus a mark of .902 as a reliever. In total, however, the difference wasn’t really that much. The opposition slashed .337/.384/.614 in 180 plate appearances. On April 12 he had his best outing of the year by relieving for 3 2⁄3 innings and allowed one run on three hits and two walks in a 10-5 win against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2005, Duckworth pitched 115 innings as a starter for the Round Rock Express, going 8-6 with a 4.62 ERA. In a six-game turn with Houston early in the season, he was again passably lukewarm as a reliever and dreadful as a starter. On May 6, he struck out one and allowed one hit, facing the minimum in a two-inning outing as the Astros lost to the Atlanta Braves, 9-4.
Duckworth rejoined the Astros for one game in September, but in 16 1⁄3 innings in total he struck out 10 and gave up an 11.02 ERA with a 1.898 WHIP. After the 2005 season, the Astros parted ways with Duckworth, granting his free agency. Duckworth played another three seasons in the major leagues, with the Kansas City Royals (7-13, 5.11, 130 1⁄3 IP).
616. Ronny Cedeño is a six-foot right-handed middle-infielder from Puerto Cabello, VZ. Born on February 2, 1983, he made his first appearance in the majors with the Chicago Cubs in 2005.
Cedeño played parts of four seasons with the Cubs (329 games, .252/.289/.350, 13 homers, 88 RBI), then also made stops with the Seattle Mariners (59 games, .167/.213/.290, five homers, 17 RBI), the Pittsburgh Pirates (313 games, .254/.297/.367, 15 home runs, 91 RBI), and the New York Mets (78 games, .259/.332/.410, four home runs, 22 RBI). After the 2012 season, he was granted free agency by the Mets.
Prior to the 2013 season getting underway, Cedeño was signed then dropped by the St. Louis Cardinals before signing with the Astros on March 24. In 51 games for Houston, he put up multiple hits six times. That includes April 24, when he fell a triple short of the cycle with three RBI in a 10-3 win against the Mariners.
Cedeño bashed out a .220/.260/.298 line with the Astros, with just that one home run along with 12 RBI and 12 runs scored. Granted free agency near the end of July, Cedeño found work with the San Diego Padres (38 games, .268/.318/.366). In 2014, he latched on for seven games with the Philadelphia Phillies (0-for-9).
615. Matt Mieske is a six-foot right-handed rightfielder from Midland, MI. Born on February 13, 1968, he was a 20th-round selection of the Oakland Athletics in 1989 out of Western Michigan University, then the next year, a 17th-round choice of the San Diego Padres.
Mieske made his way to the Milwaukee Brewers system before getting to the big leagues. He eventually played in parts of five seasons with the Crew (435 games, .260/.317/.436, 44 home runs, 178 RBI). He also played for the Chicago Cubs (77 games, .299/.373/.402, one homer, 12 RBI) and the Seattle Mariners (24 games, .366/.395/.659, four jacks, seven RBI).
On June 19, 1999, the M’s traded Mieske to the Astros for Kevin Hodges. A month later, on July 26, he hit a first-inning RBI-single to stake the Astros to a 1-0 lead over the Rockies. He then singled in the third and hit a game-tying solo shot in the fifth. He topped that off with another game-tying solo home run in the ninth inning, doing pretty much everything in an 8-5 victory over Colorado. He did that in the middle of a season-best five-game hitting streak, during which he was 11-for-16 with three homers and 11 RBI.
In 54 games in total for Mieske that season he hit .284/.316/.468 with five home runs and 22 RBI. When he stuck around in 2000, the results weren’t nearly as tasty. He slashed just .173/.247/.272 in 62 games, with one home run and five RBI. Houston cut him loose on August 17.
Mieske went on to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks later in the month, but went just two-for-eight in 11 appearances, his last at the major league level.
614. Jesús Guzmán is a six-foot-one right-handed first baseman and left fielder from Cumana, VZ. Born on June 14, 1984, he reached the majors in 2009 with the San Francisco Giants (12 games, .250/.250/.250). Two years later, he resurfaced in the bigs with the San Diego Padres (322 games, .259/.326/.422, 23 home runs, 127 RBI. After the 2013 season, the Padres traded Guzmán to the Astros for Ryan Jackson.
Guzmán joined the Astros for their first not-completely-horrible season post-rebuild, appearing in 69 games for Houston spread across the entire season. He started the year as Houston’s Opening Day first baseman, hitting a home run with two RBI in a 6-2 win against the New York Yankees. On April 6, he hit a single and a solo home run in a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Then, complete power outage.
Guzman was 31-for-165 in his year with the Astros, with just those two homers and nine RBI. He hit four doubles, stole three bases, and drew 19 walks with 10 runs. It was his last major league experience.
613. Jimmy Stewart was a six-foot switch-hitting leftfielder and second baseman from Opelika, AL. Born on June 11, 1939, he reached the major leagues for the first time in 1963 with the Chicago Cubs (324 games, .236/.310/.298, three homers, 58 RBI). he also played for the Chicago White Sox (24 games, .167/.211/.167, one RBI) and the Cincinnati Reds (300 games, .252/.313/.343, five home runs, 41 RBI).
On November 29, 1971, the Reds traded Stewart with Tommy Helms and Lee May to Houston for Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, and Cesar Geronimo. For his part, Stewart played in 68 games for the 1972 Astros, with a .219/.257/.313 slashline. On May 15, he hit two singles and a double with an RBI in an 8-2 win against the Atlanta Braves.
Overall that season, Stewart was 21-for-96 with five doubles and two triples for nine RBI. He drew six walks, scored 14 runs, and struck out nine times. In 1973, he appeared in another 61 games for the Astros, slashing .191/.295/.191 with no extra base hits. He went just 13-for-68 with three RBI, six runs, nine walks, and a dozen strikeouts.
Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow as we finish out everyone below the “Top 600 Astros.”