Astros Midweek Roundup: Houston Puts Philadelphia In Its Place

HOUSTON - AUGUST 19: Houston Astros first round draft pick George Springer watches Jason Michaels #4 take batting practice at Minute Maid Park on August 19, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Springer was introduced to the media in an earlier press conference. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

We've switched from Sunday to mid-week to make space for handegg coverage.

Giving the Phillies a good shellacking 

Can we officially label the Houston Astros as the Phillies nemesis now? Even when Philadelphia is cruising the Astros seem to have their card. Yes, there is the odd series when the Astros do not do very well, but overall we have seen the Astros go 32-19 against the Phillies since 2004. Astros County has a breakdown of the whining and whingeing by the Phillies contingent as if all this was a surprise. 

Last year the Astros completed a four-game sweep of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The year before that they did the same thing at Minute Maid Park. Hopefully the Astros can polish off a sweep, just for good measure, by beating Roy Halladay this evening. Bud Norris pitches for the Astros. 

Jim Crane fights back against the man

I've made no secret over the years that I find Bud Selig to be a pretty putrid human being. Sure he has a pretty hard job, but the arrogance of the man is sometimes hard to bear. Is he being unfair to Jim Crane? Possibly. Are there serious issues hanging over the switch in ownership? Yes. Rich people are not usually saints. In fact quite a high proportion of them aren't very nice at all. You have to be a bit of a b*****d to succeed and make the amount of money he has. You also need money to buy a baseball team. Quite a bit of it. 

Dig into any rich man's closet and you find a few gremlins. That said, the switch has been handled poorly by both Drayton McLane and Selig. If a deal had been done between McLane and Crane, why didn't the commissioners office devote all its resources to approval straight away instead of twiddling its thumbs for a couple of months until the McCourt saga took center stage? Now it has turned into a mess and we could be unpicking it for some time. 

Top 10 rounds

In this week's TCB podcast, the writers were talking about the fact that our minor league affiliates had losing records and whether this was indicative of talent level. This led on to how well Bobby Heck, who as scouting director has the final say on the draft picks for the first ten rounds, is doing picking talent. 

This leads to an even more interesting question answer by Jim Callis this week, when he was asked to rank teams on how well they did in the 2006 draft. Sergio Perez has finally kicked it on down to AAA, Maxwell Sapp is long gone and the only other name I recognise is James Van Ostrand, currently at Corpus Christi. 

But the development of Bud Norris, a sixth-round pick that year, into a solid and durable mid-rotation starter has been enough to rank that draft 17th among 30 teams. That is not bad considering Tim Purpura's drafts were considered to be like the dark ages in prospect procurement. 

If we are talking about 2008-2011 we are mostly looking at the guys below Jordan Lyles and Jason Castro, whose player development has crashed and burned. I'm looking at you Jay Austin, T.J. Steele and Jonathan Gaston (maybe Ross Seaton, but maybe not). 2009 looks more of a  wash although it is too soon to tell, but if you look at the top 10s from 2009-2010 no-one on that list, apart from Austin Wates went out and put a marker down this season. 

If you had to look at the two guys who impressed most from the 2010 class this season after Wates it would probably be Jordan Scott (14th round) and Chris Wallace (16th round). That is not to say that you should expect minor leaguers to breeze through the system without any bumps in the road, but there sure have been a lot of bumps for the group I'm looking at. 

I guess we are in danger of expecting the scouting department to be omniscient, and while the Astros could have done better, it could have been far worse. Hopefully the new ownership will tell Bobby Heck and co not to worry about picking guys that want over slot, and to hell with the commissioners office. 

Introducing the Millspalm

Jason Michaels might be gone, but Brad Mills still remains. It has been a rough year, but I do not really hold the manager responsible. However, I do hold him to account for some of the drivel that escapes from his mouth

"We've always heard you can't evaluate too much in Spring Training or September, but we can get an idea and we can kind of have our wish list. We want guys to earn spots in Spring Training as we move forward."

What next?

With the season drawing to a close the next item on the agenda is the Arizona Fall League and the Instructional League. Zachary Levine has the rosters for you. 

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