Jose Altuve, All-Star. The little engine that could, Pocket Jesus is off to Kansas City as the Astros representative orbiting a respectable .803 OPS as of today. His BB% has fallen considerably over the past few months since the start of the season, but for a 22-year-old in his first full season, to be even keeping up with the guys around him is an achievement.
It's frustrating meanwhile to see Carlos Lee oom and aah over the trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That is biting the hand that has fed you $100m. A half-season in Los Angeles is hardly the greatest chore, and considering the Dodgers are giving us back a bona-fied prospect in return, I'm almost giddy.
It clears some space at first base to give others playing time for the rest of 2012, like Brett Wallace. Who or what the Dodgers see in Lee is irrelevant. Jeff Luhnow is close to pulling off his latest heist. If you hadn't noticed, the Dodgers have lost seven in a row, five by shutouts. And they are still seven games over .500, one game behind the Giants. But will Lee, who has not hit a HR away from Minute Maid Park this season help? Not particularly.
If we can snag Garrett Gould, having a miserable 2012 in A+ ball then all the better (a quick glance at his 2012 numbers shows his ERA at 5.13, but his FIP at 3.51).
Meanwhile sage words from venerated sportswriter Peter Gammons:
AL Scouting Director:"Houston took its draft position and killed it like noone else. Correa, McCullers, Ruiz...they changed the franchise."
That's what we like to hear. Now this is only Gammons repeating, but these baseball writers rarely do it without the sentiment echoing their own opinions.
Nicholas Tropeano is off to Lancaster, but will Mike Foltynewciz join him? He had his first awful outing in ages yesterday, and I would venture he could be kept at Lexington before a bump to Corpus Christi, in either late August or to start off 2013. That just seems to be the route the Astros take with pitching prospects like Folty.
Vincent Velasquez's return has been welcome for the Valleycats after missing all of 2011 after Tommy John surgery. Even with limited pro playing time, I had him at number 12 in my pre-season rankings, which shows you, either how high I was on him, or how low I was on some of the other guys in the farm system. The right hander has allowed three earned runs in his first three starts for 2012. The Valleycats have won eight straight games. Madness, but basically down to some insane pitching. Brady Rodgers, Juri Perez et al. are putting on a pitching clinic.
Delino DeShields continues his siege on 100 stolen bases, reaching 57 so far.
For all this good news, the major league team is sinking from a multitude of holes in the rear, from Bud Norris' exit to the DL, to his return, to Jose Altuve's absence, Wilton Lopez won't be back till the All-Star Break, and the only bright spark is Dallas Keuchel, who has only allowed three runs in his first 20 innings of duty, despite only eight strikeouts, compared to nine walks. Rather unusal to see a K/BB under 1, but we'll just roll with it for now.
And this is July now, so perhaps we are entering the endgame of Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers' respective careers in Houston. With Jose Bautista bullish over Toronto's chances Alex Anthopoulos is the sort of GM you'd figure to snag Rodriguez.