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Astros Crawfish Boil: December 18, 2023

Welcome back to the working week. Enjoy the boil, plus the 50th installment of Everystros.

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

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What’s going in baseball today?

Usually this time of year, not so much.

Houston Astros News

MLB Trade Rumors: Astros Don’t Plan on Moving Framber Valdez But Will Listen to Calls (B/R)

Dave Clark discusses returning to Astros as first-base coach

Houston Astros Stars Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez Earn All-MLB Honors (SI)

AL West News

Athletics — Oakland Athletics Sign Right-Handed Reliever Trevor Gott to Major League Deal (BVM)

Rangers — Marcus Semien, Cody Bradford, Rangers visit childrens hospital

Mariners —Seattle Mariners Taking Complete Ownership of ROOT Sports Northwest (Barrett Sports Media)

Angels — Shohei Ohtani admits he gave The Angels a chance to match the Dodger’s offer (Marca)

MLB News

Breaking down the best free agents still available

Are Bellinger sweepstakes down to 2 teams?

Gurriel Jr. returning to NL champs on 3-yr. deal

Acuña honors Hank while accepting Aaron Award

Carroll, Gallen rep NL champs on All-MLB First Team

Houston Astros Birthdays

LHP Rudy Owens (36)

1B/LF Chris Carter (37)

RHP Willie Blair (58)

RHP Jim Clancy (68)

CF/2B/3B Mike White (85)

Everystros L

Today’s the group shrinks from 10 to nine, although we’re still on players between 101 and 500 plate transactions with the team. Today’s group is between 0.0039 and 0.0053 bWAR per PA/BF with Houston.

360. Mitch Meluskey (Bagwell score 46.29) is a six-foot catcher from Yakima, WA. Born on September 18, 1973, he was a 12th-round choice of the Cleveland Indians in 1992 out of Dwight D. Eisenhower High School. On April 26, 1995, before reaching the majors, the Indians traded Meluskey with Tony Mitchell to the Astros for Jim Lewis and Buck McNabb.

Meluskey reached the major leagues with Houston in 1998, starting zero games but appearing in eight. He was two-for-eight with a double and a run scored. He also caught eight innings without an error, but did suffer a passed ball.

In 1999, Meluskey was with Houston from Opening Day, and appeared in 10 of their first 17 games, including nine starts. On April 20, he had his first multiple-hit game with two singles and a home run with two RBI in a 10-4 win against the Chicago Cubs. He was seven-for-33 overall, with five walks and six strikeouts. In 79 behind the plate, he didn’t commit any errors and didn’t pass any balls. He also gunned down four-of-16 runners trying to advance for free, an 86 CS+.

The 2000 season would be the high-water mark for Meluskey’s major league career. As the team’s starting catcher, he hit .300/.401/.487 with 21 doubles and 14 home runs. He drew 55 walks (against 74 strikeouts), scoring 47 runs and driving in a team-fourth 69. On May 14, he hit a single and a home run with three RBI in a 10-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds. On July 25, he walked in a seventh-inning pinch opportunity, then hit a game-tying RBI-double in the eighth inning in an eventual 7-4 win against the Reds. On September 19, Meluskey singled in the sixth and hit a game-tying RBI-double in the eighth, in an eventual 8-6 10-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was also Meluskey’s most prolific season as a defender. He worked 778 innings behind the dish and fielded at .982 with only three passed balls all season. He threw out 24 percent of basestealers (75 CS+) and earned a few down-ballot votes for NL Rookie of the Year, finishing fifth behind winner Rafael Furcal, future Astro Rick Ankiel, and others.

On December 11, 2000, the Astros traded Meluskey with Roger Cedeño and Chris Holt to the Detroit Tigers for Brad Ausmus, Doug Brocail, and Nelson Cruz. In 2002, Meluskey went six-for-27 in eight appearances for the Tigers. On August 10, 2003, he signed once more with Houston, going one-for-nine with a double and a pair of RBI.

359. Sergio Escalona (Bagwell score 51.32) is a six-foot left-handed pitcher from El Tocuyo, VZ. Born on August 3, 1984, Escalona reached the big leagues for the first time in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies (1-0, 4.61, 13 23 IP, 10 K). After spending 2010 in the minors for the Phils, the Astros traded Albert Cartwright to Philadelphia for Escalona’s services.

In Escalona’s lone season at the major league level for the Astros, he appeared in 49 games and faced 115 batters, just over two batters per appearance. He struck out 25 in 27 23 innings, with a 1.265 WHIP and a 2.93 ERA. He walked 11 and allowed 24 hits.

Escalona was the very picture of a modern major league reliever, used in mid-leverage situations (aLI 0.96) and specializing against lefties. Nearly 23 of his batters faced (74-of-115) hit from the left, and managed just a .188/.278/.313 line (against .333/.415/.444 versus right-handers). On August 1, he pitched 1 13 perfect innings, striking out one batter in a 4-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

Near the end of 2012 Spring Training, Houston announced that Escalona would undergo Tommy John Surgery. During his rehab, he was suspended for 50 games due to performance-enhancing drugs. Escalona never got back to the major leagues.

358. Matt Keough (Bagwell score 53.65) was a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Pomona, CA. Born on July 3, 1955, he was a seventh-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 1973 out of Corona del Mar High School.

Keough eventually pitched seven years for the A’s (50-75, 4.13, 1060 13 IP, 510 K, 1978 AL All-Star), later playing with the New York Yankees (3-4, 5.17, 55 23 IP, 26 K), the St. Louis Cardinals (0-1, 4.50, 10 IP, 10 K) and the Chicago Cubs (2-2, 4.97, 29 IP, 19 K).

The Cubs released Keough on June 14, 1986, and Houston came to terms with him on June 30. Between August 6 and the end of the season, Keough appeared in 10 games for the Astros including five starts. Opponents slashed .180/.289/.328 off him, as he only allowed 22 hits in 35 innings. Unfortunately, nearly a quarter of those (five) were home runs.

That was kind of a touchstone for how to judge Keough’s appearances. He gave up zero runs in games in which he did not surrender a long-ball, and all 12 earned runs in games in which he did. On September 2, Keough entered the 10th inning of a 4-4 tie with the Cubs, and pitched five innings of shutout one-hit ball. The game was suspended after Keough’s final pitch of the 14th inning, and completed the following day, an 8-7, 18-inning victory over Chicago.

Keough was 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA for Houston, with 18 walks and 25 strikeouts in 35 innings. On October 24, he was released to free agency.

357. Chuck Carr (Bagwell score 54.65) was a five-foot-10 switch-hitting centerfielder from San Bernardino, CA. Born on August 10, 1967, he was a ninth-round choice of the Cincinnati Reds in 1986 out of Fontana High School.

By the time he reached the bigs, Carr was a member of the New York Mets’ organization (16 games, .154/.154/.154, one RBI, two stolen bases). He also played for the St. Louis Cardinals (22 games, .219/.315/.266, three RBI, 10 stolen bases), the Florida Marlins (353 games, .256/.320/.326, eight home runs, 91 RBI, 115 stolen bases), and the Milwaukee Brewers (53 games, .230/.272/.322, one home run, 11 RBI, “Chuckie Hacks on 2 and 0”).

The Brewers dropped Carr off their 40-man roster on May 20, 1997, releasing him to free agency. Just over a week later, the Astros signed him to a deal. Carr appeared in 63 of Houston’s last 84 games of the season, hitting .276/.333/.417 with 11 stolen bases and four home runs with 17 RBI.

Carr enjoyed 14 multiple-hit games for Houston. On June 26, he hit a single and a double with one RBI, stole a base, and also scored the walkoff game-winning run in a 7-6, 10-inning win against the Chicago Cubs. On July 24, he hit a single, a double, and a home run with two RBI, a steal, and three runs scored in a 10-5 win against the Montreal Expos. On August 16, he hit a double and a solo home run in a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Carr fielded at .966 in 434 innings in center for Houston. Advanced metrics have Carr pegged as a slightly above league-average at the position, even at this, the final stage of his MLB career. In Game three of the 1997 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves, Carr hit a solo home run to account for all of Houston’s offense in a 4-1, Astros-eliminating loss. Not only was it all of Houston’s offense for the day, it was also the final major league plate appearance of Carr’s career.

But Carr did go on to play in several professional leagues over the following seasons. He appeared in the Chinese League, he Atlantic League, the Italian League, and the Arizona-Mexico league. Carr passed away in 2022, after battling undisclosed health issues.

356. Andre Scrubb (Bagwell score 56.51) is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Fort Bragg, NC. Born on January 13, 1995, he was an eighth-round choice of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 out of High Point University. Without having reached the majors, the Dodgers traded Scrubb to the Astros on July 25, 2019 for Tyler White.

In 2020, with no minor leagues to play in, Houston had Scrubb spend the season in the majors. He made 20 trips out of the bullpen, striking out 24 in 23 23 innings. Utilized with an aLI of 1.14, Scrubb was a mid-to-high leverage reliever, and only allowed two-of-15 inherited runners to cross the plate. On August 18, he pitched the final inning of a 2-1, 11-inning win over the Colorado Rockies, striking out two and walking one to earn the victory.

Scrubb limited the opposition to a .190/.347/.241 line, walking 20 and giving up 15 hits for a 1.475 WHIP. He was 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA and one save.

In 2021, Scrubb appeared in 18 games for the Astros, used in considerably lower leveraged situations (0.70 aLI, four-of-12 inherited runners scored). In total, he was 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA. He walked 14 and struck out 21 in 19 23 innings, and held opponents to a .214/.337/.443 line and a 1.479 WHIP. On November 10, 2022 the Astros granted his free agency. Just two weeks ago, the New York Mets took him on as a free agent.

355. José Veras (Bagwell score (57.49) is a six-foot-six right-handed pitcher from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on October 20, 1980, Veras made his major league debut in 2006 with the New York Yankees (8-4, 4.43, 103 23 IP, 94 K), later playing for the Cleveland Indians (1-2, 4.38, 24 23 IP, 22 K), the Florida Marlins (3-3, 3.75, 48 IP, 54 K), the Pittsburgh Pirates (2-4, 3.80, 71 IP, 79 K), and the Milwaukee Brewers (5-4, 3.63, 67 IP, 79 K). On December 21, 2012, Veras signed with Houston.

Pitching with a 1.56 aLI, Veras was a high-leverage reliever for the Astros in 2013, and he held up his end by stranding all 12 of his inherited baserunners. On May 2, Veras struck out all four batters he faced in 1 13 perfect innings in a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers. On May 8, he struck out one batter, earning the save with a hitless ninth in a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels. In 43 innings with Houston, Veras was 0-4 with a 2.93 ERA. He walked 14 and struck out 44 in 43 innings, while hitters could only manage a cool 1.000 WHIP.

On July 29, 2013, the Astros traded Veras to the Tigers for Danry Vasquez and PTBNL David Paulino. After the Tigers (0-1, 3.20, 19 23 IP, 16 K), Veras pitched for the Chicago Cubs (0-1, 8.10, 13 13 IP, 13 K). On June 15, 2014, the Astros brought Veras back.

Veras was 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.255 WHIP in his second tour with Houston. He spent the 2015 season in Houston’s farm system, but didn’t make a return visit to the big leagues.

354. Kendall Graveman (Bagwell score 59.92) is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Alexander City, AL. Born on December 21, 1990, Graveman was a 36th-round choice for the Miami Marlins in 2012 out of MIssissippi State University, then an eighth-round pick the following season by the Toronto Blue Jays.

After his time with Toronto (0-0, 3.86, 4 23 IP, four K), Graveman joined the Oakland Athletics rotation for four seasons (23-29, 4.38, 441 13 IP, 282 K), then pitched out of the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen (5-3, 2.61, 51 23 IP, 49 K). On July 27, 2021, the Mariners traded Graveman and Rafael Montero to Houston for Joe Smith and Abraham Toro.

On July 30, in a 9-6 win over the San Francisco Giants, Graveman struck out three over 1 13 perfect innings. He was used by Houston in very-high leveraged situations (1.82 aLI). In the highest leveraged of those he struck out a batter in a perfect inning to earn the win in a 6-5, 10-inning win over the Kansas City Royals on August 25.

Overall, Graveman was 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 27 Ks in 23 innings and a 1.391 WHIP for his first tour with Houston. He opened 2022 with the Chicago White Sox (6-8, 3.30, 109 IP, 108). Two years and one day after his trade to Houston, he was again traded to Houston, this time for catcher Korey Lee.

Graveman went 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 23 games for Houston this season, with a 1.522 WHIP and 24 K’s in 22 13 frames, with 16 walks. Used at an aLI of 0.93, Graveman stranded the only four runners he inherited through the season. On August 26, he struck out a pair in a perfect sixth inning of a 9-2 win against the Detroit Tigers. Graveman remains on Houston’s 40-man roster.

353. Jose Siri (60.22) is a six-foot-two right-handed centerfielder from Sabana Grande de Boya, DR. Born on July 22, 1995, Siri reached the bigs for the first time in 2021 with the Astros, slashing .304/.347/.609 in 21 games through the end of the season.

On September 19, Siri hit an eight-inning, game-tying two-run homer in a 7-6 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the playoffs he was two-for-14 with a pair of RBI. Defensively, he was perfect in 42 innings in right (four PO), 38 23 innings in center (five PO, two assists), and 22 innings in left (three PO). Despite his showboating, Siri graded out as a well-below defensive outfielder through his first look (negative-25 ZFR/1200), albeit in a SSS.

The 2022 season would see Siri appear in 48 of Houston’s first 89 games, starting 39 times and collecting multiple hits in six. On May 14, he hit a triple and a home run with two RBI in a 13-6 loss to the Washington Nationals. He ended up slashing .178/.238/.304 for the Astros for the first 23 of the season, with three home runs and 10 RBI. Defensively, he was much better in a larger sample, with a mark of 38 DRS/1200. That’s like a four WAR just on defense, prorated over a full season.

On August 1, 2022, Siri joined the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade that netted Trey Mancini and Jayden Murray for Houston. Siri remains in Tampa Bay (157 games, .228/.275/.452, 29 home runs, 70 RBI).

352. Don Larsen (Bagwell score 62.76) was a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Michigan City, IN. Born on August 7, 1929, he reached the majors in 1953 with the St. Louis Browns, and stayed with them through their move to become the Baltimore Orioles (11-35, 4.08, 448 13 IP, 216 K). He also played for the New York Yankees (45-24, 3.50, 655 13 IP, 356 K, one perfect game in the 1956 World Series), the Kansas City Athletics (2-10, 5.20, 98 23 IP, 56 K), the Chicago White Sox (7-2, 4.12, 74 13 IP, 53 K) and the San Francisco Giants (12-12, 14 saves, 3.86, 158 23 IP, 108 K).

On May 20, 1964, the Houston Colt .45s purchased Larsen’s contract from the Giants. With Houston, Larsen made 10 starts and 20 trips out of the bullpen. striking out 58 and walking only 20 in 103 13 innings. He put up a 2.26 ERA and a 2.60 FIP, with an opposing line of .233/.270/.337 and stranded 11-of-15 inherited runners.

On July 25, Larsen pitched two nearly perfect innings of relief, striking out four and earning the win in a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. On August 23, he pitched a complete game, allowing two walks and five hits in a 7-1 win against the Milwaukee Braves. In September 3, he pitched a shutout four-hitter, striking out six and walking two in a 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Larsen’s 1.084 WHIP was second on the team, just a dash behind Claude Raymond’s 1.079.

Larsen opened 1965 with the newly rechristened Houston Astros, but only appeared in one game, starting on April 18 and giving up three runs in 5 13 innings in a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On April 24, the Astros traded him to the Orioles for Bob Saverine. Larsen lived a long life, dying of esophageal cancer at the age of 90 in 2020.

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