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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – September 2, 2014

Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Bo Porter was fired as manager of the Astros. Now I am not sure if it was the right move for the team, but there is no way the team’s losing ways could have been a surprise to Bo or anyone else.

It is a stuck in traffic episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

The Phillies no hit pitchers, Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon, along with Denard Span, Phil Hughes, Miguel Cabrera, Dilson Herrera and Nick Hundley all added to their totals for Who Owns Baseball?

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The Astros Are Having A Decent Winter

The Astros had a collection of players that only equaled a little over the league minimum for the entire roster.  This year, the club has filled some holes, and will spend more on 3 Free Agent acquisition's, than what the team payroll was in 2013.  The club picks #1 in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft yet again, so saving money for future years is a smart practice.

The Astros had a collection of players that only equaled a little over the league minimum for the entire roster. This year, the club has filled some holes, and will spend more on 3 Free Agent acquisition’s, than what the team payroll was in 2013. The club picks #1 in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft yet again, so saving money for future years is a smart practice.  Houston is easily the lowest payroll team in the AL West, with the Angels hovering around the Luxury Tax Threshold, the Rangers spending in the $140 MIL range, the Mariners pole vaulting up the team salaries chart – by signing Cano, while still employing “King” Felix Hernandez.  The Athletics are even nearing the $70 MIL mark, still about $25 – $30 MIL more than the Astros projected budget.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

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The Houston Astros came into the offseason with bolstering the bullpen in mind. They have done just that, but still have work to do. Early during the offseason, the Astros signed Peter Moylan to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Just before the Winter Meetings, they added Chad Qualls, who will make a nice addition to the back end of the bullpen.

During the Winter Meetings, they traded their first round pick in the Rule 5 draft for Anthony Bass from the San Diego Padres, who could pitch out of the pen or the rotation.

Monday the 16th, the Astros signed Matt Albers. If you’re keeping tabs, that’s the second reliever from the 2007 the Astros have signed this offseason.

Matt Albers Ejected

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The Winter Meetings Feel So Much Different For The Astros In 2013 Compared To 2012

Ankiel hit 5 HRs in his first 40 AB with the Astros to start last year - including a huge Opening Day long bomb, but he could not buy a hit after that.  The Astros released him soon after that.  Ankiel was one of the acquisitions from last winter, so we can at least see the club is going after more astute players.

2012 Winter signing Rick Ankiel hit 5 HRs in his first 40 AB with the Astros to start last year – including a huge Opening Day long bomb, but he could not buy a hit after that. The Astros released him soon after that. Ankiel was one of the acquisitions from last winter, so we can at least see the club is going after more astute players.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

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The Houston Astros haven’t been all that busy the past few years in the offseason. They’ve signed older veterans to get them through the year.

Last year’s offseason acquisitions included Jose Veras, Carlos Pena, and Rick Ankiel. However, this year, they’re actually spending real money.

They’ve traded for Dexter Fowler, and they’ve signed Scott Feldman to a three year, 30 million dollar contract.

They also brought in a former Astro Chad Qualls at two years 6 million dollars with an option for a third year at 3.5 million dollars.

Those acquisitions could just be the tip of the iceberg for the Astros as the head into the Winter Meetings.

Chad Qualls Fist Pump – Followed By A Tumble

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The Houston Astros Bolster The 2014 Squad With A Couple Of Moves This Week

Truth be told, when the Houston Astros first signed Scott Feldman, I was skeptical. Still am a little bit. The more I think of it, the more I like the signing. When news of it first broke on twitter, there was a bit of a mixed reaction. If fact, mine was something like “NOOOOOO!!” I wasn’t a fan of the money, nor was I too thrilled about the years on the contract. The Yankees, Orioles, Twins, and Astros were all interested in the former Oriole. However, it was the Astros who locked him up for 3 years, 30 million dollars.

Truth be told, when the Houston Astros first signed Scott Feldman, I was skeptical. Still am a little bit. The more I think of it, the more I like the signing. When news of it first broke on twitter, there was a bit of a mixed reaction. If fact, mine was something like “NOOOOOO!!” I wasn’t a fan of the money, nor was I too thrilled about the years on the contract. The Yankees, Orioles, Twins, and Astros were all interested in the former Oriole. However, it was the Astros who locked him up for 3 years, 30 million dollars.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

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Feldman isn’t a high profile signing, but he certainly makes the Astros better today than they were yesterday. He isn’t going to change this franchise, but he certainly adds some wins to the Astros this year.

Last year with the Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles, Feldman went 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA. According to Steamer, a FanGraphs projector, projects that Feldman will go 12-11 with a 3.91 ERA.

Scott Feldman Start

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Houston Astros State Of The Union Address: Fall 2013

From 1992 - 2006, Houston was one of the best franchises in the games of baseball, not having one losing season in that time span.  They won 4 Division Titles, 8 2nd place finishes, and appeared in 6 playoffs.  After being swept in the 2005 World Series, the core got old, and the team waited too long to rebuild.  Once it was time, the management actually did a smart thing in totally gutting the entire franchise, in order to restock the Minor League System.

From 1992 – 2006, Houston was one of the best franchises in the games of baseball, not having one losing season in that time span. They won 4 Division Titles, 8 – 2nd place finishes, and appeared in 6 playoffs. After being swept in the 2005 World Series, the core got old, and the team waited too long to rebuild. Once it was time, the management actually did a smart thing in totally gutting the entire franchise, in order to restock the Minor League System.  Now with 3 105+ Loss seasons, and back to back 1st overall picks, the team has begun the process.  An ownership changed mirrored the last transference of all the remaining Veterans from the previous regime.  How long will it take for the Astros to compete again?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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The Astros had one of the easiest years to peg down in the game of baseball for 2013.

They were horrible early, traded away every possible Veteran that were making any kind of cash on the Major League Level, and then proceeded to be even worse after the ALL – Star Game.

The worst part of the campaign was left for the end, where they promptly lost their last 15 games – to finish with a record of 51 – 111.

It was their 3rd straight 100+ Loss season.  But overlooking the obvious is that they actual drew a few more fans in 2013 – compared to 2012.

That was more a symptom of the club moving to the American League.  At least they were not last in the league for Attendance, like payroll.

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The Houston Astros Payroll in 2014 + Organization: Affiliates, Prospects + Depth Charts (MLB + MiLB)

The Astros have scaled their Payroll to miniscule proportions.  As of this minute, the players they have signed - that aren't on entry level deals, equals $4.37 MIL, and that is if the club picks up their Team Option on Philip Humber for 2014.  The only other player that makes more than an entry level is Jose Altuve at $1.37 MIL in 2014.  The club is paying more in dead money to Wandy Rodriguez ($5.5 MIL in 2014) as part of the 2012 Trade worked out between clubs.

The Astros have scaled their Payroll to miniscule proportions. As of this minute, the players they have signed – that aren’t on entry level deals, equals $4.37 MIL, and that is if the club picks up their Team Option on Philip Humber for 2014. The only other player that makes more than an entry level is Jose Altuve at $1.37 MIL in 2014. The club is paying more in dead money to Wandy Rodriguez ($5.5 MIL in 2014) as part of the 2012 Trade worked out between clubs.  It has been bantered about that the ownership and management are willing to spend some money in Free Agency for 2014.  MLB currently does not have a floor for Team Salary in the current CBA, so why would the club do that until they are ready to compete?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): and Jeff Kleiner (Salary, Roster and Depth Chart Expert for the MLB) – visit his website  here  

A 3rd straight season with 105+ Losses, and 15 straight losses to finish the 2013 campaign does not give the fans very much to look forward to in 2014.

I am here to tell you that the MLB should be ashamed of letting the Houston Astros field such an incompetent team.

Having said this, I don’t personally blame them for tanking it over the last 3 years.  They are the other ‘extreme’ – of what the New York Yankees and LA Dodgers have done payroll wise.

Last season at the end of the year, their highest paid player for the Active Roster was Erik Bedard, making $1.1 MIL.

If they keep picking 1st overall, it is only a matter of time before the team becomes very good, just like the Rays, Nationals, Twins and Pirates have all done in recent times.

For the Up to Date Roster for the Astros all year around, please visit Jeff’s Website right here

For the Entire Page of teams links we have dedicated to Payroll, Rosters, Depth Chart, State Of the Unions and Roster Trees, please click right here. Please bookmark this page and check back, as we are busy on the analysis at MLB Reports always.

Jose Altuve Highlights

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2 And A Hook Podcast #11: Its All About – How Many Altuves? The ALL – Star Game + Reds Chat

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Friday, July.19, 2013

A picture put up during a Houston Astros broadcast - helped the movement immensely - photo courtesy of howmanyaltuves.com

A picture put up during a Houston Astros broadcast – helped the movement immensely – photo courtesy of howmanyaltuves.com

‘2 And A Hook’ is an expression from Baseball:  ‘Throw the guy 2 Fast balls and then a Hook’ (AKA Curve Ball, Wiggly one, Chair etc..)

By James Acevedo – Host (Podcast Veteran )

Guests On The Show:

Today, my brother Daniel joined me for the show.

We talked to MLB XM Home Plate Radio Host Mike Ferrin (16 Minute Mark and a 22 Minute Segment) I asked him about the origin in which he and Morgan Ensberg started this ‘phenomenon’ – and their reaction to how it has blown into a huge fanbase for the guy – based on one night that it was all started by the former Astros player Enberg, Ferrin and CO.

Jose Altuve is the shortest man in the MLB at approximately 5 FT 5, but he does not get cheated at the plate with his heavy swings.  His big heart and hustle have inspired his own measurement.  Go and check out @howmanyaltuves or www.howmanyaltuves.com  for all of your Home Run (or any measurement for that matter) needs.

Jose Altuve is the shortest man in the MLB at approximately 5 FT 5, but he does not get cheated at the plate with his heavy swings. His big heart and hustle have inspired his own measurement. Go and check out @howmanyaltuves or http://www.howmanyaltuves.com for all of your Home Run (or any measurement for that matter) needs.

Next up was Astros County Writer and http://www.howmanyaltuves.com owner Bryan Trostel (41 Minute Mark and a 18 Minutes Segment)  or We talked about how he joined the ‘Jose Altuve’ Phenomenon, created a twitter  account and website surrounding it, and how it has thrived and blossomed over the last 14 months.  We even learned the metric conversion for an ‘ALTUVE’. Read the rest of this entry

Triple Play Podcast Ep #12 – Interview With MLB Fancave Dweller Aaron Roberts, Astros Chat + Lids

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Sunday, June.09, 2013

The Triple Play Show will have 5 shows per month.  Each show will be about 1 hour

The Triple Play Show will have 5 shows per month. Each show will be about 1 hour.

By The Big Ticket Show ( AKA Triple Play Podcast on http://www.mlbreports.com)

Guests in this Podcast – Thomas Aaron Roberts (25 Minute Mark and a 17 Min Segment) (Former MLB Reports Dodgers Correspondent and 1 of 7 MLB FanCave Dwellers left in New York)

Richard Perez (www.strosbros.mlblogs.com and 1 of our 3 Astros Correspondents from there – (4 Minutes in and a 20 Minute Segment)

Guys (Frank and Carmen) from the @mydopehatgame (44 Minutes In and a 10 Minute Segment)

To Keep Reading and Listen to this Podcast click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY or scroll past the Triple Play Logo

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The Astros 2013 Draft Day Decision

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Wednesday May 29th, 2013

Reid Ryan will be at the helm for his 1st ever draft as Team President for the Astros on June 6th.  The team is picking 1st overall - and will most likely pick 1st or 2nd in next years Amateur Draft.  This decision should be priority #1 with the management right now.

Reid Ryan will be at the helm for his 1st ever draft as Team President for the Astros on June 6th. The team is picking 1st overall – and will most likely pick 1st or 2nd in next years Amateur Draft as well in 2014. This 2013 Draft Day Decision should be priority #1 with the management right now.  Ryan was named Team President of the franchise only a few weeks ago.

By Jordan Gluck (Draft Correspondent)

The Houston Astros select first overall in the draft for the second consecutive year but have a big decision to make and that is the strategy they use. First let’s go through who the key people in the front office are.

Reid Ryan – Team President
Jeff Luhnow: GM- Upenn
David Stearns: Assistant GM- Harvard
Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens - special assistants
Sig Mejdal- director of decision sciences (best title name in baseball)
Mike Elias: director of amateur scouting
Kevin Goldstein: director of pro scouting
Paul Ricciarini: scout
David Post: national cross checker

Before I talk about the Astros potential strategies I think it is worth mentioning that Craig Biggio‘ s son Cavan Biggio is in this draft and that is something to watch for although he will not go first overall.

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Stros Bros Podcast – Talking About Postolos Out As CEO + President

This was from a few days ago before the club announced the hiring of new President Reid Ryan.  Look for a new article tomorrow.  Until then, listen it

This was from a few days ago before the club announced the hiring of new President Reid Ryan. Look for a new article tomorrow. Until then, listen to the PODCAST.

Richard and Lee are joined by Jared Webb of Farmstros, discussing prospects, the draft, and the exit of Astros CEO/President George Postolos .  click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY  for more details or scroll down. Read the rest of this entry

Is Jeff Luhnow Preparing To Make Trades?

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Tuesday April.09,  2013

General Manager Jeff Luhnow has stockpiled a lot of talent in the Minor Leagues in the last few months - and is looking to acquire a helluva lot more.  With the club having lost 6 games in a row since the opener, this couild get ugly real quick - with every meaningful player being traded away.  This is Jim Crane's mandate.  The Astros full game plan is to be as bad as they can be in the next few years - in order to Draft as high as they can

General Manager Jeff Luhnow has stockpiled a lot of talent in the Minor Leagues in the last few months – and is looking to acquire a helluva lot more. With the club having lost 6 games in a row since the opener, this could get ugly real quick – with every meaningful player being traded away. This is Jim Crane’s mandate. The Astros full game plan is to be as bad as they can be in the next few years – in order to Draft as high as possible.  We have had great chats at the strosbros.mlblogs.com Podcasts, plus Sully’s Daily Baseball Podcasts here at the Reports has also covered the topic.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent)  

Is Jeff Luhnow back at it with his magical trades? Is Paul Clemens coming up to the Major League level? No one knows anything at this point. Okay, before we at the ‘Stros Bros begin any speculation, lets give a little back story.

Other than the Opening Night victory, plus last nights 3 – 0 loss to the Mariners, in which they had 2 perfect Innings, the Houston Astros have been atrocious. Especially the bullpen.

Okay, on Sunday the bullpen was also alright, having given  up 1 run in 4.2 Innings, but even the sun shines on a dog’s hind end every now and again. But, of course the Astros bullpen is bad. That was a given headed into the season, but with this bad bullpen, it seems as if some moves are on the horizon.

WEBN Interview with Luhnow:

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The Astros Miss Out On Reid Brignac

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Saturday, February.16,  2013

Brignac is known as more of a defensive specialist than anything.  He has a Career 3 Slash Line of .227/.268/.586.  He has to be extremely elated to be heading to hitter - friendly Coors Field.  He is Arbitration Eligible in 2014.

Brignac is known as more of a defensive specialist than anything. He has a Career 3 Slash Line of .227/.268/.586. The Shortstop/Second Baseman has to be extremely elated to be heading to hitter – friendly Coors Field. He is Arbitration Eligible in 2014.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

Since the Astros traded Jed Lowrie about a week ago, the Houston Astros have been looking at acquiring another shortstop. Reid Brignac, Rays shortstop, was on the Astros radar.

The Colorado Rockies acquired Infielder Reid Brignac from the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named later and cash considerations. Brignac bounced around between Triple-A and the Rays last season. He hit .095 in 16 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. The 27-year-old Brignac was a Second-Round Pick by the Rays in the Amateur Draft of 2004.

Reid Brignac Highlights:  Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance is advised:

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Chris Carter: The Future Star That Will Make Billy Beane Regret His Trade Mistake

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Monday February 11th, 2013

Chris Carter had a 3 Slash Line of .239/.350/.864 in 218 AB during the 2012 season. He clubbed 16 HRs and 39 RBI. He hit 11 HRs in just 122 AB away from o.co Coliseum. At just Age 26 - and team controllable until 2019, it is weird that Billy Beane would trade away the slugging 1B/DH

Chris Carter: A career .283 hitter in the minors, with a .378 OBP and .535 SLG. The perfect combination of power and patience. He will prove to be the one that got away from Billy Beane.

Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

Mark down the date of February 4th, 2013. The day that Billy Beane broke my heart. In preparing for my latest A’s feature, the working title of the article was “Chris Carter: The Next Great A’s Superstar”. Then fate intervened. Or rather, Beane decided to pull off one too many trades. After a successful offseason that saw the A’s GM bolster significantly bolster his playoff squad, Beane decided that one more blockbuster move was in order. Jed Lowrie was headed to Oakland, with Chris Carter (the good one), Max Stassi and Brad Peacock going over to the Astros. For the purpose of this piece, I will be focusing on the loss of Carter. Stassi is a former 4th round pick of the A’s and a young 21 Year Old catching prospect. With Derek Norris ready to grab the A’s catching job for the next decade, I can see how he was expandable. Peacock was a 41st round pick of the Nationals. A 25 Year Old arm that may develop one day, but crashed and burned last season in AAA. With the A’s pitching depth, I can see how he could be ticketed out-of-town for a change of scenery. But Chris Carter?  Really Billy??!! You worked your magic to get him in the first place from the Diamondbacks. I certainly hope that your return pans out (Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez). Right now, I simply cannot see the logic of this move.


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Luhnow Spins His Trade Magic Again For The Astros In: Get Carter

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Wednesday Feb.6, 2013

Lowrie had a stellar 1st half, cracking 14 HRs and 36 RBI, while holding a 3 Slash Line of .253/.343/.803.  He slumped to a .200/.273/.606 in the 2nd half slump after being hurt in July.  He is 28 Years Old and under team control for the A's only through the 2014 seaseon.

Lowrie had a stellar 1st half, cracking 14 HRs and 36 RBI, while holding a 3 Slash Line of .253/.343/.803. He slumped to a .200/.273/.606 in a 2nd half slump after being hurt in July. He is 28 Years Old and under team control for the A’s only through the 2014 season.

By Richard Perez (Astros Correspondent):

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Astros have traded Shortstop Jed Lowrie and Pitcher Fernando Rodriguez to the Oakland A’s for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Minor leaguer Max Stassi. Astros mastermind General Manager Jeff Luhnow worked out another amazing trade, getting anybody to agree to take Fernando Rodriguez all on its own is a miracle, but getting more than what he’s worth is astounding.

He’s worked nothing but pure trade magic during his first full calendar year with the club, dumping off Dan Carpenter, Brandon Lyon, AND Carlos Lee over the course of last season. Not to mention plenty other players he traded as well, yielding a number a top prospects, making the Astros’ farm system go from worst to first.

Jed Lowrie Highlights – Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

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Roger Clemens: Close To Returning To Houston

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Friday, January.11,  2013

Roger Clemens won 7 Cy Young Awards with his Career Record of 354-188 (.658). A lot of MLB people thought that the Astros would bring Clemens in to spark attendance at Minute Maid Park this season.

Roger Clemens won 7 Cy Young Awards with his Career Record of 354-188 (.658). A lot of MLB people thought that the Astros would bring Clemens in to spark attendance at Minute Maid Park this season.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

The Houston Astros have made many changes this off season. From uniform changes all the way to the broadcast booth. The Astros are close to yet another change. Many thought Roger Clemens would return to Houston as a pitcher. That didn’t happen. It doesn’t look like it will happen either. However, the Houston Astros are close to a deal with Clemens to return as a Minor League Pitcher’s mentor.

Roger Clemens Pitching with the Sugar Land Skeeters Aug.25/2012

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Top-5 Worst MLB Teams of 2012 plus a Preview of the 2013 Amateur Draft

Wednesday October 3rd, 2012

Sam Evans: With the 2012 season winding down, a lot of MLB teams can’t wait for the season to end. Houston, Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, and Cleveland have been the five worst teams in baseball this season. While their seasons have all been disappointing and hard to watch, these teams will possess the most valuable picks in the 2013 Amateur draft. Here’s a look at how these teams have struggled and where they are projected to pick in the draft.

5. Cleveland Indians 68-93:

Baseball in Cleveland took a huge step back in 2012. Coming off of an 80-82 season, Cleveland was let down by an underperforming pitching staff. With Detroit and Chicago leading the AL Central, Cleveland was out of the pennant race for the better part of the year. The stretch that did them in was the month of August, in which Cleveland was 5-24.

Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball just two years ago. Now, the Indians will be lucky if they can manage to get the performances of a #4 starter out of him. There have been many areas in which he has been less dominant than before but they all trace back to that his previous velocity and nasty stuff just aren’t there anymore.  Perhaps the problems with Ubaldo have to do with his age and the toll that throwing so many innings when he was younger took. Either way, by relying on Ubaldo Jimenez and his 5.40 ERA this season, the Indians weren’t putting themselves in a better place to contend. Read the rest of this entry

Just How Bad Are The Houston Astros?

Wednesday September 12th, 2012

Sam Evans: The 2012 Houston Astros are breaking records every day. If you have followed baseball at all these last two years, you know that these aren’t records that are normally associated with winning baseball teams. At their current pace, this year’s Houston team is on pace to lose at least 111 games. What Jeff Luhnow and others are doing to turn around the losing in Houston looks great, but it doesn’t hide the fact that the product the Astros are putting out on the field is historically bad.

Since 1962, only one team (the 2003 Detroit Tigers) has lost more than 108 games in a single-season. The 2003 Detroit Tigers were pretty awful, but it’s not like they were bereft of talent. That team featured a young Jeremy Bonderman in the rotation and Fernando Rodney pitched out of the bullpen. That Tigers team also had Dmitri Young, Carlos Pena, Omar Infante, Andres Torres, and Cody Ross. Looking at the current Astros’ roster, I don’t see anywhere close to that level of talent. Read the rest of this entry

My Top Six Worst MLB Teams in 2012

Sunday January 8th, 2012

Sam Evans: It’s no fun to be a fan of a losing team. Every game seems longer and it hurts to look around and see fans of the other teams loving every moment. There’s always supposed to be next year, but that kind of talk just hurts the players and coaches as much as it does the fans. Let’s look at my bottom five teams in 2012: based on the major league roster and talent in the system that could make an impact in the upcoming season.

25. Seattle Mariners: As a Mariners fan, this one hurts. It’s been eleven years since the Mariners made the playoffs. A city blessed with a beautiful new ballpark, Seattle hasn’t had much of chance to cheer on many winners in recent times.

Since he was hired in 2008, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has transformed the Mariners farm system into one of the best in the game. The problem is that the major league club is still struggling, and fans are losing interest. The Mariners are like New Year’s resolutions. They’re so promising at first, but after two weeks, most people just give up.

So far this offseason, the Mariners have been rumored to be actively pursuing Prince Fielder. The argument for Prince Fielder is that his contract would be worth the risk for the team given all of the fans he would draw… not to mention, the M’s need for a middle of the order slugger. However, other fans feel that Fielder is overpriced and point to the fact that if the Mariners signed Prince, they would be only the fourth team with two players making over $20M in 2012.

The Mariners do have some young promising players. Justin Smoak, a former top 10 BA prospect, will finally be healthy heading into the new year. Also, the M’s have a trio of young pitchers in the minors that are all top 100 prospects. James Paxton and Danny Hultzen could possibly see time in the rotation this year. Furthermore, last time I checked Felix Hernandez was still a Mariner, and he’s signed through 2014.

26. New York Mets: The Mets have always been second to the Yankees in New York in terms of popularity, but there’s never been this much of a difference. The Mets have been silent this offseason, except for a swap of outfielders with the Giants, and bringing in some bullpen help. The Mets do have Zack Wheeler (acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade) and Matt Harvey (2010 1st rounder) on the way, but neither will make a huge impact in ’12.

Jason Bay has struggled ever since receiving his enormous contract two years ago. In 2009, Bay hit 36 homers for the Red Sox. In 2010 and 2011, Bay had only eighteen homers. Part of the decline in numbers is the park factor that Citi Field has on hitters (which is due to change with the new park dimensions in 2012). It should be noted though that Bay hasn’t hit a home run to right field since June 28, 2010.

This year, the Mets should get Johan Santana back. I wrote about Johan in November here. If he is healthy this year, hopefully the Mets can get something out of Santana, who is due $24M in 2012.

The Mets future will be based on how they spend their money and how they control their prospects. If the Mets hadn’t pushed Jenrry Mejia, chances are he wouldn’t have gotten injured. If the Mets hadn’t signed the Jason Bay and Johan Santana contracts, then they would have had the money to go after Prince Fielder this offseason (in theory). New York has a long ways to go to compete with the other N.L. East teams, and they’re going to need to make smart long-term decisions to get there.

27. San Diego Padres: The Padres acquired Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso this offseason in an attempt to boost their offense. They ended up trading away Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo, and losing Heath Bell and Aaron Harang to free agency.

Carlos Quentin is really going to struggle in Petco Park, and Alonso is going to have his share of issues developing into a power hitter with his new team. The fact is that the Padres will never have a terrible pitching staff due to the spacious Petco Park effect. But their rotation is actually as bad as it has been in some years. I also am a supporter of Will Venable, and I think the Padres would be making a mistake if they traded him.

San Diego plays in a division where it’s not impossible that they could make a nice run and make the playoffs. But I would be surprised.

28. Oakland Athletics: Led by GM Billy Beane, the Athletics have been extremely active this offseason. They’ve shipped away their best pitchers and let their best hitter leave in free agency. The A’s have had a good offseason, thanks to all the new talent that they’ve imported into their farm system.

2012 is not going to be the year of resurgence for the A’s. 2013, maybe, but right now the Angels and Rangers are just too good. The A’s strength is probably their middle infield which will feature Jemile Weeks and Cliff Pennington. If Chris Carter can show some power in the majors, then he will do just fine at DH.

With acquisitions such as Derek Norris, Jarrod Parker, and A.J. Cole, Billy Beane has shown he’s not afraid to trade his best major league players in order to obtain talent that won’t be ready for a year or two.

29. Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles were a promising team heading into 2011. The “Fighting Showalter’s” had a late run in 2010, and Buck Showalter seemed to be really getting through to the players. Unfortunately, 2011 didn’t go as expected for the Orioles. They finished 69-93 and solidified their reputation as the worst baseball team in the A.L East, if not the whole American League.

The  2011 Orioles will forever go down in baseball history not for their season, but for their last game against the Red Sox on September 28, 2011. The Orioles were down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth on the last day of the season. Going into the game,  the Red Sox were 77-0 on the season when leading after the eighth inning. The Orioles came back to win, and they will forever be remembered for their contributions to one of the best days in baseball history.

2012 can be a  successful year for the Orioles if they discover an ace… and if Adam Jones improves his game to the next level. It’s not going to be easy, but if everything falls into place, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette could lead the Orioles out of the A.L. East basement in the next coming years.

30. Houston Astros: Moving into the 2011 season, the Astros were projected by pretty much everyone in baseball to be the worst team in baseball. Well, at least they didn’t let anyone down. The Astros finished 56-106, which was the worst record in all of baseball.

I traveled to Houston this summer and I expected to find an uninterested Astros fanbase. I was surprised to see countless devoted fans who truly cared about their team. Astros fans are out there and they will start coming back to Minute Maid Park when the team starts winning.

Sorry Houston fans, but 2012 isn’t going to be much fun for you. Chances are that you will return to the basement of the N.L. Central and lose over one hundred games. Nevertheless, there is hope. Jose Altuve is turning into a nice young second basemen who can hit for average . Jordan Lyles can be a #3 starter, and Jarred Cosart could finally reach the bigs in 2012.

Another piece of the silver lining is Houston’s new General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who is involved in sabermetrics and helped build the Cardinals who won the 2011 World Series. Luhnow was in the Cardinals scouting department since 2003 and helped produce major league talent from the draft. He also has been a General Manager for Petstore.com, and has an M.B.A from Northwestern. His first move was trading for Jed Lowrie. On the surface this seems like a solid deal, whereby he attained a young talented infielder for his new organization. In my opinion, this is going to look like an amazing hire in four years time.

So even if 2012 is rough, Astros fans can start looking towards the future. It might take a couple of seasons, but it won’t be long  before the Astros are packing Minute Maid Park everyday. Ironically, the road to the respectability for the worst team in the majors won’t happen until they move to the A.L. West. With the Rangers and Angels waiting in their new division, the journey towards success for the Astros will get that much tougher in 2013.

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

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