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Astros Crawfish Boil: December 7, 2023

It’s your Thursday Boil, plus Everystros XLI.

Seth Martinez
| Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

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Welcome to the Thirsty Thursday Boil.

Your Thursday Boil comes with news, birthdays, and the 41st part of our Everystros.

Houston Astros News

New skipper Espada looks ahead to 2024

With moves on the periphery, Astros roster taking shape after Winter Meetings (The Athletics)

Astros reach 2-year deal with C Victor Caratini (WKZO)

Era of excellence: The pinnacle of Houston sports history unveiled (SportsMap)

Houston Astros: Two added, three lost in minor-league Rule 5 draft (Houston Chronicle)

‘Leader’: Astros players post emotional farewell messages for Martín Maldonado (Houston Chronicle)

AL West News

Oakland AthleticsBoras criticizes Fisher, MLB owners on A’s relocation effort (Yahoo)

Los Angeles Angels — Angels, Adam Cimber agree to $1.65 million contract in free agency (ClutchPoints)

Texas RangersRangers add reliever Kirby Yates on 1-year deal

Seattle MarinersAnalysis: Why the Mariners might need to wait to make more moves (The Seattle Times)

MLB News

Yanks acquire Soto, bringing superstar bat to Bronx

With Ohtani ‘days away’ from decision, which teams are still in?

Kimbrel signed to fill O’s void at closer

2023 Rule 5 Draft: Complete results, analysis

Houston Astros Birthdays

LHP Bo Belinsky (1936-2001)

C Hal Smith (1930-2020)

RHP Jorge Geraldo (22)

RHP Pedro Marquez (22)

Everystros XLI

The 41st installment of Everystros features another 11 players from the fourth bracket, those with between 101 and 500 plate transactions. Each player in today’s group put up between 0.0008 and 0.0011 bWAR per PA/BF.

451. Dave Eilers is a five-foot-11 right-handed pitcher from Oldenburg, TX. Born on December 3, 1936, he made his major league debut in 1964 with the Milwaukee Braves (0-0, 7.15, 11 13 IP, two K), later playing for the New York Mets (2-2, 4.44, 52 23 IP, 23 K). On November 29, 1966, Houston drafted Eilers away from the Mets in the minor league draft.

Eilers worked nearly exclusively as a relief pitcher for the 1967 Astros, pitching 59 13 innings in 35 appearances (including a single start). On June 19, he struck out the side in a perfect ninth in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On July 23, in an absolutely no-leverage outing, he came in with two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the fifth with the Astros trailing, 15-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He gave up two singles and struck out five over 3 13 innings, playing his best with nothing on the line.

Eilers’ only start was his worst outing. On September 3, he lasted 3 23 innings and allowed eight runs on nine hits and a walk, for a GameScore of 10. Taking his start out of his years’ output, he was an excellent pitcher. He was 6-3 with a 2.91 ERA, with 27 strikeouts in 55 23 innings. He had a 1.347 WHIP and an opposing slashline of .280/.336/.379. He went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts as a hitter, with two sacrifice hits. He also fielded at 1.000, making 10 assists and three putouts.

After his season in the majors for Houston, Eilers played two minor league seasons with the Oklahoma City 89ers, but did not get back to the majors.

450. Aubrey Huff is a six-foot-four left-handed batting and right-handed throwing corner infielder and right fielder from Marion, OH. Born on December 20, 1976, he was drafted in the fifth round of the 1998 draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, out of the University of Miami.

Huff reached the majors with the Rays in 2000, and played in parts of seven seasons with Tampa Bay (799 games, .287/.343/.477 with 128 home runs and 449 RBI. On July 12, 2006, the Rays sent Huff with cash to Houston for Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist.

Huff appeared in 68 of Houston’s final 73 games of the 2006 season. He collected multiple hits on 17 occasions. On August 9, he hit a double and two home runs with six RBI in a 14-1 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 4, Huff hit a double and a solo home run in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Huff hit .250/.341/.478 with 10 doubles, one triple and 13 home runs. He drew 26 walks versus 39 strikeouts, scoring 31 runs and driving in 38. As a defender, Huff played 270 23 inning in right field, making 40 putouts and one assist with two errors for a .953 fielding percentage. He also played 220 innings a third base, with 23 putouts and 47 assists with two errors for a .972. He also played eight perfect innings at first base, making six putouts and three assists. Houston granted Huff free agency following the 2006 season.

Huff went on to play for the Baltimore Orioles (415 games, .282/.341/.473, 60 home runs, 252 RBI, 2008 Silver Slugger), the Detroit Tigers (40 games, .189/.265/.302, two homers, 13 RBI), and the San Francisco Giants (359 games, .264/.346/.431, 39 home runs, 152 RBI). He announced his retirement on January 1, 2014.

449. Alberto Árias is a five-foot-11 right-handed pitcher from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on October 14, 1983, he got to the majors for the first time with the 2007 Colorado Rockies, eventually pitching in 18 games over parts of two seasons with the team (1-0, 3.43, 21 IP, eight K). On June 31, the Astros claimed Árias off waivers from the Rockies.

After his acquisition, Árias spent most of the rest of the 2008 campaign with Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express. In his first game at the parent-club level, he struck out six over five shutout, two-hit innings, earning a victory in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played in two more games, but gave up nine hits in five innings to finish the season with a 6.75 ERA in a small sample.

In 2009, Árias joined Houston on May 6, and appeared in 42-of-97 games while with the team, all in relief. He allowed only two-of-19 inherited runners to eventually cross the plate, and Houston deployed him in any situation, (aLI 0.97). On June 16, he struck out three over three perfect innings in a 6-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. On July 9, he earned a win in relief by pitching two scoreless innings and striking out two in a 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Overall, Árias was 2-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 45 23 innings. He gave up 21 runs (17 earned) on 49 hits and 19 walks, with 39 strikeouts. He posted a 3.32 FIP and a 1.489 WHIP. Defensively, he made four errors in 19 chances for an 1870s-like .789 fielding percentage. After his final appearance in late-August, Árias was put on the DL with a strained right hamstring, followed by an impingement in his rotator cuff and later, right-shoulder surgery. He did appear with the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League, and pitched 13 of an inning during the 2012-13 season, but that was his final appearance at any level of professional baseball.

448. Pidge Browne is a six-foot-one left-handed first baseman from Peekskill, NY. Born on March 21, 1929, he started his minor league career in the system of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1950, later appearing in the systems of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs, and (after signing a minor league deal) in 1962, the Houston Colt .45s.

Browne only had two multi-hit games through his lone season with the Colts. On May 1, he hit a single and a double with two RBI in a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals. On May 6, he hit a single, a double, and a solo home run, scoring three runs in a 9-1 win against the Milwaukee Braves. On June 12, Browne hit a one-out game-tying RBI-triple in the bottom of the ninth against the New York Mets, and scored the winning run a bit later on a Joey Amalfitano RBI-single.

In 65 appearances, Browne went 21-for-100 with four doubles, two triples, and a home run. He drew 13 walks (striking out only nine times), scored eight times, and drove in 10, slashing .210/.298/.320. He only appeared as a defender in 40 percent of his games, starting 17 times and appearing nine more times as a late-inning replacement. In 155 13 innings, he made 155 putouts and 15 assists, with three errors for a .983 fielding percentage. Despite his relative success, Browne didn’t appear in organized baseball past his first major league season.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Browne went into the freight business after his time in baseball, and remained in Houston for the rest of his life, passing away in 1997 at the age of 68.

447. Howie Goss was a six-foot-four right-handed outfielder from Wewoka, OK. Born on November 1, 1934, he made his major league debut in 1962 with the Pittsburgh Pirates (89 games, .243/.306/.351, two home runs, 10 RBI. On April 4, 1963, the Bucs sent Goss to Houston for Manny Mota.

Goss played in a team-fifth 133 games with the Colt .45s in 1963, collecting multiple hits in 21 of them. On April 10, he hit four singles with an RBI, scoring twice in an 8-7 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Two days later, he hit another four singles, with a run and an RBI in a 2-1, 12-inning win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. On May 28, he hit a triple and two home runs for six RBI in an 8-7, 10-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Goss hit 86-for-411 for Houston, with 18 doubles, two triples, and a team-second nine home runs. He drew 31 walks, scored 37 runs, and drove in 44. He also stole four bases in 10 attempts, and struck out 128 times, slashing .209/.264/.328. As a defender, he started 107 games in center field, appearing another 16 times as a defensive replacement. In 985 innings, he made 274 putouts with seven assists, making two errors for a .993 fielding percentage.

Goss played in the minors in 1964, between Houston’s Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A club, the Arkansas Travelers. He lived until 1996, when he passed away at age 61 in Reno, NV.

446. Chris Donnels is a six-foot corner infielder from Los Angeles, CA. Born on April 21, 1966, he was a first-round choice of the New York Mets out of Loyola Marymount University in 1987, with the 24th selection off the board. He reached the bigs with the Mets in 1991, and played in parts of three seasons for them (82 games, .195/.299/.224, 11 RBI). Donnels was chosen by the Florida Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft. Waived a month later, the Astros claimed him.

Donnels played in a career-high 88 games for Houston in 1993, hitting .257/.327/.391 with two home runs and 24 RBI. He had 10 multiple-hit games, including three singles, two runs, and one RBI on September 25 in a 12-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the defensive side of the ledger, he played 187 23 innings at the hot corner (.898), 166 23 innings at the “not hot” corner (.988) and seven innings at second base (1.000).

In 1995, Donnels appeared in 19 games for Houston, going nine-for-30 with a pair of RBI. On June 10, Donnels was sent to the Boston Red Sox as part of a conditional deal. After his time with Boston (40 games, .253/.317/.385, two homers, 11 RBI), he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (93 games, .205/.310/.418, seven home runs, 17 RBI) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (74 games, .238/.312/.425, three home runs, 16 RBI).

445. Chris Gardner is a six-foot right-handed pitcher from Long Beach, CA. Born on March 30, 1969, he was a sixth-round choice in 1988 by Houston out of Cuesta College. He eventually spent eight years in Houston’s system, going 38-45 with a 3.98 ERA in 658 13 minor league innings. He made it to the major leagues in 1991, appearing in five games, starting four times.

Gardner pitched better in each of his five appearances than in the appearance before, with GameScores of 33, 40, 53, and 68. In that last one, on September 30, he earned his only major league victory after pitching seven shutout innings, striking out six and scattering five singles, a double, and three walks. In his final appearance, on October 5, he allowed only one baserunner in three innings of relief, a solo home run in an eventual 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He went 0-for-5 with one walk as a hitter, and made one error in 10 chances in the field for a .900 fielding percentage.

444. Corey Julks is a six-foot-one right-handed left fielder from Friendswood, TX. Born on February 27, 1996, he was Houston’s eighth-round pick in 2017 out of the University of Houston.

Julks made his first major league appearance in Houston’s second game of the 2023 season, going one-for-four on March 31 in a 6-3 win against the Chicago White Sox. In 93 appearances, he had 20 multiple game hits, including four times when he got three or more. On April 23, he hit a tiebreaking ninth-inning two-out RBI-single to make it 3-2 in an eventual 5-2 win against the Atlanta Braves. On May 22, he fell a triple short of the cycle with three RBI in a 12-2 win against the Milwaukee Brewers. On June 5, he hit a grand slam in an 11-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. On July 4, he had a season-high four hits, including a double and one RBI in a 4-1 triumph against the Colorado Rockies.

So yeah, Julks had a lot of good moments through the first half of the season. Between June 24 and July 6, he was 18-for-38, moving the needle on his batting average from .253 up to .289. Then the wheels came off. Between July 16 and August 26, he was just two-for-50, dropping from .280 back down to .240. He also played 545 innings in the field, all but nine in left field. He made one error and four assists for a .989 fielding percentage. Julks remains on Houston’s 40-man roster.

443. Jimmy Sexton is a five-foot-10 right-handed left-side infielder from Mobile, AL. Born on December 15, 1951, he first reached the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners in 1977, hitting .216 in 14 games. After the season, they traded him to Houston for Leon Roberts (402).

Sexton spent the entire season with the Astros in 1978, and got into 88 games, with seven instances of more than one hit. On April 16, Sexton entered a 3-3 tie with the Cincinnati Reds in the top of the 12th as a defensive replacement. With the score still tied in the bottom of the 13th, he drew a leadoff walk, stole second, then came around to score on an Enos Cabell walkoff RBI-single. On August 5, he hit a triple and a home run with two RBI in a 7-0 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Sexton went 29-for-141 with three doubles, two triples and two home runs. He drew 13 walks (versus 28 strikeouts) and scored 17 times, with six RBI. He stole 16 bases in 18 attempts. On defense, he played 339 13 innings at shortstop (.981), 23 13 innings at third base (.750), and 16 innings at second (.900).

In 1979, Sexton hit .209/.320/.209 in 52 games, going nine-for-43 with zero extra-base hits and one RBI. On February 10, 1981, Houston traded him to the Oakland Athletics for PTBNL Rick Lysander. Sexton went on to play parts of two seasons with the A’s (76 games, .239/.284/.310, two home runs, 14 RBI) and finished up in 1983 with the Atlanta Braves (six games, one-for-nine).

442. Mike Simms is a six-foot-four right-handed rightfielder and first baseman from Orange, CA. Born on January 12, 1967, he was a sixth-round choice of the Astros in 1985 out of Esperanza HS in Anaheim, CA. In 1990, he made it to the bigs with Houston and went four-for-13 with a double and a home run. Most of that was on September 21, when he went three-for-five with all of his extra base hits in a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Atlanta Braves. He played 21 innings at first base on the defensive side of things, with a perfect fielding percentage in 21 chances.

In 1991, Simms played 268 23 innings in the outfield, all but one of them in right. He had four assists, but he also made six errors for a .889 fielding percentage — not elite. He was 25-for-123 with five doubles and three homers. He drew 18 walks with 38 strikeouts, scoring 18 runs and driving in 16. He also stole one base in his only attempt. That was on July 28, when he earned a season-best .261 WPA, with a two-run double and two runs scored in a 9-7 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 1992, Simms was limited to 15 major league games with the Astros. He went six-for-24 overall, hitting a home run in his first appearance of the season, a solo shot in a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants. He was perfect in 46 innings in right field and three innings at first base.

In 1993, Simms joined the San Diego Padres system, but spent the entire season with the Las Vegas Stars at the Triple-A level. Back with the Astros in 1994 after a bit of time with the Buffalo Bisons (for the Pittsburgh Pirates), he went one-for-12, hitting a double for his only hit of the season.

For the 1995 campaign, Simms appeared in 50 games for the Astros, hitting .256/.341/.512 — a 130 OPS+ and an .853 raw OPS. He was 31-for-131 with four doubles and nine home runs. He drew 13 walks against 28 strikeouts, scoring 14 runs and driving in 24. He spent most of his defensive time at first base, fielding at .995 in 198 13 innings. He also fielded 88 perfect innings in right field. On August 2, he hit a double and a home run with two RBI in a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

On September 25, 1996, Simms hit a pinch-single walk-off RBI in the 10th inning of a 5-4 win against the New York Mets. In 49 games in total that year, he hit .176/.233/.279 with one home run and eight RBI. After the 1996 season, Simms was granted his free agency from Houston. He didn’t leave the state, signing on with the Texas Rangers and playing parts of three seasons (149 games, .281/.352/.555, 21 homers, 68 RBI).

441. Seth Martinez is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Peoria, AZ. Born on August 29, 1994, he was a 17th-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2016 out of Arizona State University. Before getting to the majors, the Astros drafted him via rule 5 after the 2020 season.

The 2021 season would see Martinez spend most of the year with the Sugar Land Skeeters, going 5-3 in 36 relief appearances, with 78 strikeouts in 57 23 innings. Near the end of the season, he made his major league debut in three games for the Astros. In his first appearance, he walked one batter in an otherwise perfect ninth, facing the minimum in a 10-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels.

Although Martinez wasn’t exactly a mainstay for the eventual 2022 World Champions, he did rank tied for ninth on the team with 29 pitching appearances. He was one of the 17 pitchers who threw over 16 innings for the team, all 17 of whom had a WHIP that was lower than the American League average (an elite 1.034 for Seth). I don’t know if any other team ever accomplished something like that before. I swear, the things we take for granted as Astros fans.

Aaaaanyway, Martinez threw 38 23 innings for Houston with a 2.09 ERA, and allowed only one of his 15 inherited runners to cross the plate. He struck out 38 and walked only 14, going 1-1 with a 3.32 FIP and a 184 ERA+. On June 6, he struck out three over 1 13 perfect innings in a 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners. On July 4, in a 7-6 win against the Kansas City Royals, he pitched three shutout innings, striking out three and giving up a meaningless single and a walk.

In 2023, Martinez ranked seventh on the team with 35 appearances, all in relief. Maybe we don’t appreciate this guy enough, as he stranded 17 of his inherited baserunners....of 17 inherited baserunners. On June 25, Martinez nailed down his first save of the season by pitching a perfect 11th in a 6-5 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Although we could count on Martinez to strand every baserunner, he still didn’t come close to matching his 2022 performance. He was 2-3 with a 5.23 ERA, with 45 strikeouts in 43 innings. He walked 14 and finished with a 1.488 WHIP. Since getting to the majors, he’s perfect with two putouts and nine assists as a fielder.

Tomorrow, I’ll be cutting back to 10 Astros per article, for the next eight articles. Again exploring the positive side of the fourth bracket, each player in the group will have between 0.0011 and 0.0014 bWAR per BF/PA.

Spring Training Game 5 Thread. February 27, 2024, 12:05 CT. Nats @ Astros

Optimizing the Astros’ Batting Order

Houston Astros History

Everystros CXIV: Jim Wynn