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Thread: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

  1. #106
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros News/Transactions
    Game 22
    Houston Astros (10-12) vs. Florida Marlins (10-13)
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    Astros win 7-2		WP: Chris Sampson (3-2)		LP: Horacio Ramirez (0-1)
      		1 	2 	3 	4 	5 	6 	7 	8 	9 	R 	H 	E
    Marlins 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	2 	2 	8 	0
    Astros 		2 	1 	0 	2 	0 	2 	0 	0 	x 	7 	12 	0

    The traveling magic act that is Chris Sampson on the mound continues to confuse and confound National League hitters in April. Sampson spun off seven scoreless innings in his fourth straight quality start to lower his season ERA to 3.54 and improve his record to 3-2. He allowed only five hits and struck out only one batter en route to his twelfth career win. On the season he has only a 11/13 K/BB ratio so this smoke and mirrors act has to be expected to stall in the near future. For the time being, however, the Astros will take it. Lance Berkman once again powered the Astros to victory with a first inning shot into the Crawford boxes that set the tone for the rest of the game. Houston hitters battered Horacio Ramirez continuing the trend of hitting lefty pitching hard, especially at home in Minute Maid Park. Kaz Matsui finally had a good offensive game since coming off the DL with a two hit night including his first home run as an Astro. The game could have been a shutout were it not for another disappointing performance by the Houston bullpen, this time by old man Doug Brocail. He left way too many balls up in the zone, including a moonshot to right field by Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs. Closer Jose Valverde was forced into the game to finish out the game in a non save situation.

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    Astros						Marlins
    Berkman 1-4, HR(7), 2 RBI, BB, R, K		Jacobs 2-4, HR(3), 2 RBI, R
    Matsui 2-5, 2B(2), HR(1), 3 RBI, 2 R, K		Ramirez 1-4, 2B(2), R
    Sampson 7 IP, 0 R, 5 H, K, 2 BB			Ramirez 4 IP, 5 ER, K, BB

  2. #107
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    April 27
    MLB News/Transactions
    Contracts:
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    CHC	SP Ryan Dempster (87)		Signed 4 Year, $39.6M extension ($9.9M per) through 2011

    "Dumpster" Dempster has been lights out in his first couple starts since 2005 and first season as a full time starter since 2003. He's 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA and a 27/8 K/BB ratio through four starts. Many were skeptical when Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced in the offseason that they would be converting Dempster from closer to starter after a mediocre year in the bullpen in 2007. In his last two years as a closer he racked up 51 saves despite an ERA of 4.78 and numerous control issues. His new funky quirk in his delivery has helped his timing to the plate and the Cubs certainly hope that his newfound success isn't a fluke.

    Injuries:
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    FLA	SS Hanley Ramirez (88)		Strained Knee (Two weeks)

    One of the most exciting players in baseball hits the DL for the next two weeks. Hanley Ramirez is the most unknown star in baseball, thrilling crowds of hundreds in Miami. He's as valuable to the Marlins as any other star in baseball and could be the next Alex Rodriguez if some scouts are to believed. While he's down, Robert Andino will get a chance to start at shortstop after being recalled from AAA Albuquerque.

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    PIT	SP Matt Morris (70)
    Morris has been awful for the Pirates since coming over in a deadline deal last season. In 11 starts last year he went 3-4 with a 6.10 ERA in 62 innings. This year he was even worse, with a 0-1 record and a 8.64 ERA in two starts and two relief appearances. This could be the end of the road for Morris, the two time All Star for the Cardinals in the early part of the decade.

  3. #108
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros News/Transactions
    Game 23
    Houston Astros (11-12) vs. Florida Marlins (10-14)
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    Astros win 7-5		WP: Oscar Villarreal (1-0)	LP: Scott Olsen (2-1)	SV: Jose Valverde (7)
       		1 	2 	3 	4 	5 	6 	7 	8 	9 	R 	H 	E
    Marlins 	0 	2 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	3 	0 	5 	9 	1
    Astros 		0 	2 	3 	1 	0 	0 	0 	1 	x 	7 	10 	2

    Oscar Villarreal gave five gutsy innings to pick up his first victory as an Astro and first as a starter since 2006. He contributed five ugly, yet effective innings in a spot start to help the Astros secure a victory against the young Marlins. Despite a strong rally by the Marlins late in the game, the bullpen did just enough to close down any chance of coming back. Miguel Tejada led the charge Wednesday with a vintage three hit, multi-RBI game. Jose Cruz continued to fill in admirably at center field and leadoff for the injured Darin Erstad, who will return by the end of the week. The 'Stros go for the sweep tomorrow with Jack Cassel set to take the mound in the rubber match with the Marlins.

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    Astros					Marlins
    Tejada 3-4, HR(4), 2 RBI, 2 R		Hermida 1-3, 3B(1), RBI, BB, R
    Cruz 2-5, 3B(2), RBI, K			Uggla 1-4, RBI, R
    Villarreal 5 IP, 2 ER, 2 K, 4 BB	Olsen 3 IP, 5 ER, K, 0 BB

  4. #109
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    April 28
    MLB News/Transactions
    Contracts:
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    CHC	RP Hector Carrasco (75)		Minor League Contract		Assigned to AAA Iowa
    NYM	SP Eude Brito (66)		Minor League Contract		Assigned to AAA New Orleans
    OAK	LF Joe Gaetti (71)		Minor League Contract		Assigned to AAA Sacramento
    PIT	RP Juan Mateo (67)		Minor League Contract		Assigned to A Lynchburg
    PIT	RF Xavier Nady (89)		Signed 4 Year, $29.2M extension ($7.3M per) through 2011

    Nady has never had a season OPS higher than last year's .806 or been able to stay healthy for an entire year, but he is rewarded richly for his slightly above league average services with a fat extension through 2011. This year Nady has been hot, hitting .309/.340/.495 which would put him on pace to beat his career high OPS by nearly 30 points. The new Pirates administration doesn't seemed to have learned from the mistakes of the old regime of not giving big money long term contracts for career years.

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    SFG	C Eli Whiteside (66)		Minor League Contract		Assigned to AAA Fresno
    TEX	SP Mike Megrew (64)		1 Year, $390K			Assigned to AA Frisco
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    NYY	C Jorge Posada (84)		Right Elbow Tendonitis (Five weeks)

    Posada signed a big money extension with the Yankees that will expire after his age 39 season. Considering he got a late start in the Majors and has shown little signs of wear and tear behind the plate, it was seen as an acceptable risk by many. But nobody expected him to break down so suddenly with a significant injury. Although it's believed he'll be back by June, the seriousness of the injury will probably require surgery in the offseason. For now the time off is seen as the best, immediate solution to Posada's elbow woes. His hitting certainly has not suffered as he's batting .316/.362/.474 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 24 games. Jose Molina will take over starting catcher duties with recently sent down veteran Chad Moeller being called back up for backup work.

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    STL	SP Brad Thompson (75)		Right Elbow Inflammation (Seven weeks)
    Thompson made the switch to full time starting in the second half last season and has proven to be a league average starter in the back of the Cardinals rotation. He's had a bad start to 2008 with a winless record and a 9.60 ERA over three starts. The Cards will call up top pitching prospect Jaime Garcia to test his mettle against Major League pitching after dominating minor league hitters.

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    TBR	RP Scott Munter (74)		Broken Tibia (Three months)
    Milestones:
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    DET	C Ivan Rodriguez (81)		2500th Hit

    Pudge has had limited action this year due to an early DL stint, but that's just an excuse to disguise the fact that his skills have declined significantly since his heyday in the late '90s. He's batting just .185/.333/.222 albeit in just 27 at bats. But still, for him to contribute league average numbers could be a stretch at 36 years old. The future Hall of Famer is set to be a free agent after this year and it should be very interesting just what kind of interest he garners on the open market.

    Releases:
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    ARI	RP Mark Rosen (69)
    BOS	RP Dan Kolb (76)
    CHC	RP Les Walrond (68)
    CHC	RP Juan Mateo (67)
    CIN	RP Scott Sauerbeck(70)
    COL	RP Jose Capellan (67)
    LAD	RP Mike Myers (72)
    MIN	RP Zach Day (68)
    MIN	C Eli Whiteside (66)
    NYM	RF Ben Johnson (68)
    SDP	SP Mike Megrew (64)
    WSN	1B Tony Batista (71)
    Retirements:
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    BOS	RP Dan Kolb			Retired at Age 33
    Kolb had one truly outstanding year in 2004 when he picked up 39 saves for the Brewers despite a 21/15 K/BB ratio. That year he also made his lone All-Star game appearance. He retires after not being able to crack a Major League roster since the middle of 2007.

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    CHC	SP Les Walrond			Retired at Age 31
    CIN	RP Scott Sauerbeck		Retired at Age 36
    PHI	RP Vic Darensbourg		Retired at Age 37
    WSN	1B Tony Batista			Retired at Age 34

    Batista was a two time All-Star with the Blue Jays and Orioles in the early part of the decade. His unorthodox batting stance caught the eye of everyone who watched him and he was always known for his all or nothing approach. Batista somehow played in 80 games for the awful Nationals in 2007 and really his career should have ended in 2006 after his mediocre half season with the Twins.

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    ---	LF Ricky Ledee			Retired at Age 34
    Ledee will always be remembered for his 1998 debut with the Yankees and his contributions to the World Series winning teams in '98 and '99. Other than that, he was a fairly anonymous part time player for seven different Major League teams over his ten year career and he retires with a career .243/.325/.412 batting line.

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    ---	1B Olmedo Saenz			Retired at Age 37

  5. #110
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros News/Transactions
    Game 24
    Houston Astros (12-12) vs. Florida Marlins (10-15)
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    Astros win 7-2		WP: Jack Cassel (2-2)		LP: Ricky Nolasco (2-2)
      		1 	2 	3 	4 	5 	6 	7 	8 	9 	R 	H 	E
    Marlins 	1 	0 	0 	1 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	2 	2 	0
    Astros 		1 	0 	0 	0 	4 	1 	0 	1 	x 	7 	15 	1

    This was probably the most bizarre baseball game the 35,886 people who showed up at Minute Maid Park have ever seen. Three inside-the-park home runs were hit, two off Astros pitcher Jack Cassel and one off Marlins reliever Matt Lindstrom. Kenny Lofton proved that he still had the wheels with a leadoff inside-the-park home run to start the game. How many times has that ever happened? Has there ever been three hit one game? Two off the same pitcher? And for the team's only two hits? It's a mad, mad world. Kaz Matsui had the inside the parker for the Astros with Dan Uggla legging out the Marlins' other one. Other than those two fluke home runs Cassel had his second straight quality start to even his, and his teams', record at .500. The Astros are at .500 for the FIRST TIME this season after 24 games. 8-2 in their last 10 games and riding a four game winning streak, things are finally starting to look up in Houston. The Astros' run differential is in the black for the first time as well at +3. El Caballo contributed four hits in the winning effort while Miguel Tejada had two hits to raise his season average above .300. A great series sweep of the Marlins in which the Astros scored exactly seven runs in three consecutive games. With an off day tomorrow before a three game homestand against the Reds, things are definitely looking up for the Astros.

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    Astros						Marlins
    Lee 4-4, 2 RBI, BB				Lofton 1-4, HR(1), RBI, R
    Matsui 3-5, 2 2B(4), HR(2), RBI, 3 R		Uggla 1-3, HR(3), RBI, R
    Cassel 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 K, BB		Nolasco 5 IP, 5 ER, 3 K, 2 BB
    Releases:
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    HOU	1B Lance Niekro (72)
    HOU	RF Victor Diaz (68)
    Niekro was designated for assignment last week after four at bats as a pinch hitter in a week with Houston. He threw a very public hissy fit when he found out about the roster move, and was subsequently shown the door from the organization.
    Diaz, as previously mentioned in the week 4 review, was hitting about as well as any minor leaguer in any organization but was not going to receive any kind of Major League at bats barring any injuries in Houston. So he asked for his outright release and, unlike Niekro, because he was an upstanding citizen in his short time with the organization, his request was granted.

  6. #111
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    April 29
    MLB News/Transactions
    Contracts:
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    FLA	RP Olivo Astacio (73)		1 Year, $800K			Assigned to AA Carolina
    PHI	LF Pat Burrell (89)		Signed to 4 Year, $57.6M extension ($14.4M per) through 2011

    In a very surprising move, even for the Phillies' brass, Burrell decided not to test the free agent waters after this season and instead took the contract extension that was offered him during spring training. He arguably left money on the table to stay with the only organization he has ever known. Pat the Bat has received a lot of harsh criticism in the past especially after his disastrous 2003 season in which he hit .209/.309/.404 in 146 games. But he has remained a well above average player with his tremendous power and plate patience since then and is poised to have a career year, as he's batting .303/.415/.607 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs in the early going.

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    PIT	SP Byung-Hyun Kim (75)		1 Year, $1.7M			Placed on 25 Man Roster
    BK Kim resurfaces in the Majors after floating around three Major League teams in 2007 including a 19 start stint with the Marlins. He'll join the Pirates as a middle reliever after Yoel Hernandez failed to hold down a roster spot with his uninspiring performance this week.

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    SDP	RF Victor Diaz (68)		1 Year, $530K			Placed on 25 Man Roster
    It didn't take long for Diaz to catch on with another team and it's no surprise that it's the Padres, who have the worst offense and record in the Majors. They're only scoring 3.37 runs a game, which is why they sport an awful 5-22 record. It only makes sense for them to give Diaz a Major League trial. And with such a cheap price tag and their season basically done, why not? Diaz will probably be the first bat off the bench after his sizzling April in AAA Round Rock in which he hit .356/.406/.678 in 24 games.

    Injuries:
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    CLE	1B Ryan Garko (77)		Wrist Stress Fracture (Four weeks)

    Garko had a breakout year in 2007 when he batted .289/.359/.483 to help the Indians reach the ALCS. But that's really as good as it will possibly get with Garko, as he's a first baseman by name only. He offers little in power or on base ability and gap power from a first baseman isn't exactly ideal. The club will be forced to play Travis Hafner at first base with David Dellucci joining the starting lineup at DH for the time being. Brad Snyder will be recalled for bench help.

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    COL	SP Victor Zambrano (77)		Foot Stress Fracture (Two weeks)
    COL	RP Juan Morillo (79)		Wrist Stress Fracture (Five weeks)
    That the Rockies were actually using Zambrano in their bullpen is indicative of just how bad their pitching has been this season. They have a team ERA of 5.47 and their bullpen ERA is a horrendous 6 even.
    Morillo was just called up yesterday for bullpen help and will now receive a Major League check for the next five weeks while he's on the Major League DL for his one day of service. Veterans John Koronka and Chris George will round out the last two spots in the bullpen for at least the next two weeks.

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    DET	SS Edgar Renteria (76)		Pulled Groin (Two weeks)
    Renteria is off to the worst start of his career with a .244/.326/.317 batting line through the first four weeks. The Tigers have to be hoping that this isn't some kind of early career decline as Renteria's consistency will be key if Detroit wants to get back into the thick of the AL Central race. Ramon Santiago will start at shortstop for the next two weeks with Timo Perez' contract being purchased from AA Erie.

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    SEA	SP Jarrod Washburn (74)		Foot Stress Fracture (Two weeks)

    Washburn hasn't been able to live up to the expectations of the free agent deal he signed with Seattle in the winter of 2005 with two consecutive mediocre seasons. He's stooped to a new low so far this season, with a 5.46 ERA in 31+ innings including a one week demotion from the rotation. Unfortunately for Seattle, his replacement in Josh Fogg is even more gag worthy as he has a 13.50 ERA in his only two appearances for Seattle.

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    TEX	3B Hank Blalock (81)		Torn Left Hamstring (Three months)
    Blalock's horrible luck continues into 2007 as he'll miss most of the first half with a torn hamstring. Last year he missed over 100 games after being diagnosed with Thoracic outlet syndrome. He'll be out until after the All Star break and will be replaced in the lineup by Roman Vazquez, who'll play in the field for the first time this year. Frank Catalanotto will take Vazquez' spot in the lineup as the everyday DH. Ryan Roberts will be recalled from AAA Oklahoma for infield depth. On the season, Blalock was only at .250/.310/.446 with four home runs and thirteen driven in.

    Trades:
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    PHI	SS Oscar Robles (74)		Claimed off waivers from San Diego
    Robles will serve as the utility infielder, probably only for the next ten days when Jimmy Rollins is set to come off the DL. Then Robles will most likely be designated for assignment again.

    Releases:
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    PIT	RP Olivo Astacio (73)
    WSN	RP Ray King (79)
    King was designated for assignment last week but refused the assignment to AAA Columbus and is now a free agent. He had a terrible ten innings of work for the Nats in 2008, including a 7.84 ERA and a 5/10 K/BB ratio. He could still be a semi-effective situational lefty for a team lacking any semblance of a left handed reliver (i.e. the ASTROS. WAKE UP ED WADE).

    Retirements:
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    COL	RP Valerio de los Santos	Retired at Age 35
    SDP	RP Colter Bean			Retired at Age 31

  7. #112
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    April 30
    MLB News/Transactions
    Contracts:
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    TEX	SP Eric Milton (73)		1 Year, $2.1M			Placed on 60-Day DL
    I wish I was a former league average left handed starter so I could get free handouts like Eric Milton. 2+ million dollars even though he's out until August? And no guarantee he'll be ready to face Major League hitters even at that point. Man...

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    SFG	C Eliezer Alfonso (72)		Suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance
    Alfonso is the latest victim of MLB's new stringest testing policy. He's received only six at bats for the Giants so far serving as their third catcher, so this should have absolutely no bearing on the Giants' overall season results. Brian Horwitz might actually make his Major League debut this time around in his second call up already in April.

    Trades:
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    COL	Player to be named later	Traded to KCR
    KCR	SP Jorge de la Rosa (71)	Traded to COL
    KCR	$1.0M Cash			Traded to COL
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    DET	RP Jason Grilli (77)		Traded to COL
    COL	RP Zach Simons			Traded to DET
    With the all the injuries and poor performances from the Rockies pitching staff, GM Dan O'Dowd decided to implement some wholesale changes on the last day of April. He traded for a new starter in de la Rosa and the cash to cover the rest of his 2008 salary for a player to be named later, and added a new bullpen arm in Grilli from the Tigers in a separate deal. Josh Towers and his awful 18.47 ERA in two starts gets designated for assignment with youngster Franklin Morales being sent down for more minor league seasoning. The Tigers will replace Grilli with Francisco Cruceta. The Royals will call up top pitching prospect Luke Hochevar to rejoin the starting rotation.

    Injuries:
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    CHW	LF Carlos Quentin (84)		Pulled Groin (Two weeks)

    Quentin is putting up career numbers in the first month of 2008 with his new team in Chicago. He's hitting .281/.361/.448 and providing solid protection for the big hitters in the lineup. The Diamondbacks could regret giving him away in the offseason if he keeps this kind of production up throughout the season. Jerry Owens, himself on the DL until recently, will play center field everyday with Nick Swisher shifting to Quentin's left field spot. This temporary alignment should also help the pitching staff as Owens is a much superior defender in center field than Swisher. Mike Rouse will be recalled from AAA Charlotte while Quentin is out.

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    COL	SP Kip Wells (69)		Blood Clot in Right Hand (Three months)
    Wells will undergo surgery to fix a blood clot in his pitching hand and will be shelved until late April or early August. He was just one of many failures in the Rockies pitching staff this year with a 5.68 ERA in three starts. He'll be replaced in the rotation by the recently acquired Jorge de la Rosa.

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    NYY	3B Alex Rodriguez (93)		Right Quadriceps Strain (Three weeks)

    A-Rod had another huge April, hitting .376/.465/.743 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs to lead the Yankees all the way back to within one game of the division leading Orioles (how weird was it to type/read that??) after a miserable start to 2008. He'll miss significant time for the first time since 1999 when he was still with the Mariners. The Yankees will somehow try to stay afloat offensively without Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in the lineup for the next three weeks. Morgan Ensberg will play third everyday, with Shelley Duncan being recalled to handle first base.

    Releases:
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    FLA	C Paul Hoover (65)
    Retirements:
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    FLA	C Paul Hoover			Retired at Age 32
    WSN	2B Bret Boone			Retired at Age 39

    Boone's ill advised comeback comes to an end. He hasn't played in the Majors since 2005 but somehow he thought it would be a great idea to attempt to return to the Majors with the franchise that employs his father and his brother. Boone was a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner in the late '90s and early part of this decade with the Reds and then the Mariners. He achieved his greatest success as a Mariner in 2001 when he exploded for 37 home runs and 141 RBIs. Boone retires as one of the best second baseman to ever put on a Mariners uniform despite only playing there for three and a half seasons.

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    ---	SP Matt Morris			Retired at Age 33

    As expected, Morris officially retired today, three days after being bought out of his contract by the Pirates. Morris will always be remembered as a big game pitcher for the Cardinals in the early part of this decade, with big starts in the division and championship series for St. Louis. He left the Cardinals one year too early, as he missed the World Championship team in 2006 after leaving as a free agent to San Francisco.

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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros News/Transactions
    Game 25
    Houston Astros (13-12) vs. Cincinnati Reds (10-15)
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    Astros win 3-1		WP: Roy Oswalt (2-3)	LP: Aaron Harang (2-1)		SV: Jose Valverde (8)
      	1 	2 	3 	4 	5 	6 	7 	8 	9 	R 	H 	E
    Reds 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	1 	0 	0 	0 	1 	5 	0
    Astros 	1 	0 	0 	1 	1 	0 	0 	0 	x 	3 	9 	0

    This was the pitching duel that never materialized in Cincinnati when these two aces matched up last week in the 10-9 slugfest. Roy Oswalt was outstanding, limiting the Reds to three hits and one run while striking out eight batters to only one walk. Reds ace Aaron Harang also had a decent line, going seven innings giving up three runs and striking out five but it was clear he did not have his best stuff tonight in front of a sellout crowd in Minute Maid Park. In a surprise move from manager Cecil Cooper, Darin Erstad was not re-inserted into the starting lineup in center field and leadoff despite the announcement before the game that he was ready to play. With Houston's winning streak and offensive awakening almost directly corresponding with Erstad's injury last week and Jose Cruz' resurgent performance in his absence, Cooper did not want to mess with the feel of the team by putting Erstad back in the lineup.
    "We'll work Darin back into the lineup slowly. But with the way Jose is hitting these days, whew, it's going to be tough to tell him he's being benched," Cooper said after today's victory.
    Cruz contributed again in the narrow victory with two walks that resulted in one run. The Astros are now above .500 for the first time this season! WHOOOOO!

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    Astros					Reds
    Lee 2-4, HR(6), RBI, R, K		Phillips 2-4, RBI
    Berkman 2-3, 2B(5), BB, K		Dunn 1-4, 2B(3)
    Oswalt 8 IP, ER, 3 H, 8 K, BB		Harang 7 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 4 BB

  9. #114
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    May 1
    MLB News/Transactions
    Injuries:
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    TOR	RP Jason Frasor (80)		Severed Knee Ligament (Nine months)
    Frasor is the second reliever lost for the season after suffering a serious knee injury. Casey Janssen is also out for 2008 after shoulder surgery. Frasor was having a terrific April with a 2.51 ERA and a 17/3 K/BB ratio in 14 innings for the Jays. With him out for the season, Shawn Camp will get a great chance to re-establish himself in the Majors after a few bad seasons with the Rays.

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    KCR	SP Mike Maroth (73)

    Baseball's last 20 game loser, Maroth rebounded to produce two seasons of average performance after the infamous 2003 season. But in the last few years, he has completely lost his stuff and become nothing more than AAA filler.

  10. #115
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros News/Transactions
    Game 26
    Houston Astros (14-12) vs. Cincinnati Reds (10-16)
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    Astros win 3-2		WP: Geoff Geary (1-0)		LP: Francisco Cordero (0-3)
      	1 	2 	3 	4 	5 	6 	7 	8 	9 	R 	H 	E
    Reds 	1 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	1 	0 	0 	2 	5 	1
    Astros 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	1 	1 	0 	1 	3 	8 	1

    Darin Erstad let his bat do the talking after finding out he'd be benched in favor of Jose Cruz in his second game back from injury. He hit a pinch hit walk off solo home run off Reds closer Francisco Cordero to lift the Astros to their sixth straight win and within one game of first place Milwaukee in the NL Central. Erstad pinch hit for Geary with two outs left in the ninth and thrilled the sold out home audience with a shot into the Crawford boxes in left field on a 0-1 fastball from Cordero, who has now blown two saves already and has a 5.40 ERA through the first month of the season. Houston starter Chris Sampson contributed yet another quality start, his fifth in a row, as he fooled Reds hitters all night in a no decision. Reds starter Edinson Volquez pitched another stellar game against the Astros, going seven innings and allowing two runs and striking out nine batters. The Astros will now try for their second straight series sweep in the rubber match against the Reds at home tomorrow. Major League ERA leader Brandon Backe will face off against Matt Belisle in Monday's game.

    HTML Code:
    Astros						Reds
    Pence 2-3, RBI, BB				Dunn 2-3, 3B(1), RBI
    Erstad 1-1, HR(1), RBI, R			Freel 1-4, RBI, BB
    Sampson 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 5 K, 2 BB		Volquez 7 IP, 2 ER, 9 K, 5 BB

  11. #116
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Week 5 Review

    AL Standings
    AL East
    Rays 17-12
    Orioles 16-13 (1.0 GB)
    Blue Jays 13-14 (3.0 GB)
    Red Sox 13-14 (3.0 GB)
    Yankees 14-16 (3.5 GB)


    Hell hath frozen over. Look at the AL East standings. They are EXACTLY upside down as to how they have usually been for the better part of the last fifteen years. The upstart Rays are looking great and are the hottest team in the American League, winners of nine of their last ten. And that's including seven games against the Red Sox and Yankees. They're doing it with a great balance of hitting and pitching, with their young stars stepping up to lead the team to a surprising first place April finish. The perennial AL East powers in Boston and New York better shape up and get their act together. The Rays are here, and they're for real.

    AL Central
    Twins 17-11
    Indians 14-14 (3.0 GB)
    White Sox 12-16 (5.0 GB)
    Tigers 12-16 (5.0 GB)
    Royals 13-17 (5.0 GB)

    The Tigers finally climb out of the AL Central cellar after weeks spent in last place. While the Twins are surprisingly the ones on top in the division, their Pythagorean record doesn't hold up with their actual record. They have a -3 run differential and a 14-14 Pythagorean record, so their performance so far shouldn't scare the legitimate contenders. The Indians have been one of the unluckiest teams in baseball, as they are 14-14 despite a +24 run differential. They should start gaining on the Twins as long as they keep up their level of play.

    AL West
    Mariners 17-11
    Rangers 15-14 (2.5 GB)
    Angels 14-15 (3.5 GB)
    A's 12-16 (5.0 GB)

    This division is totally wide open, as all four teams have played sloppy ball in the first month. The favorites in Los Angeles have finally started to get it going after a sluggish start and have the Mariners squarely in their targets. The M's, meanwhile, are starting to show signs of cracking as their run differential has been getting smaller in recent games. The Rangers are the team in this division playing the most over their heads, with a winning record despite being outscored by more than 20 runs on the season.


    NL Standings
    NL East
    Phillies 19-10
    Braves 18-12 (1.5 GB)
    Mets 15-13 (3.5 GB)
    Marlins 10-17 (8.0 GB)
    Nationals 10-17 (8.0 GB)


    The three contenders are starting to separate themselves from the lowly Marlins and Nationals after the first month of play. The Phillies, Braves and Mets are clearly the cream of the crop in the NL East and the division race will be one of the most entertaining in all of baseball. The Phillies are coming back down to earth a bit, as they should after their ludicrous start. The Braves are charging, winning six in a row to close out April. They look like a team on a mission in the early going, as the entire team seems more determined than ever to win the division and end the teams' playoff drought.

    NL Central
    Brewers 15-11
    Cardinals 15-12 (0.5 GB)
    Pirates 15-12 (0.5 GB)
    Astros 14-12 (1.0 GB)
    Cubs 13-14 (2.5 GB)
    Reds 10-16 (5.0 GB)


    After a month of play, this seems to be the division nobody wants to win. No team has really put their mark on the Central with superb play, and the last week was really confusing to baseball experts. The Astros won six in a row and are the hottest team in baseball, climbing out of last place all the way to within a game of the Brewers. The Pirates are also playing inspired baseball,
    ending April with a winning record for the first time in years. The Cubs continue to flounder, with the Reds being the only team that most have given up on.

    NL West
    Dodgers 21-9
    Giants 15-12 (4.5 GB)
    Rockies 13-15 (7.0 GB)
    DBacks 13-17 (8.0 GB)
    Padres 6-23 (14.5 GB)


    The NL West is the most polarized division in baseball. On the one hand, you have scorching hot Dodgers who continued their sick play with another dominant week. On the other hand, you have the Padres. They are the worst team in the Majors by five games and are almost assured of finishing in last place in the division, if not all of baseball. The scrappy Giants, with their mix of old and young, continue to turn heads with their above .500 play. Last year's division champs, the DBacks, are looking like one hit wonders at this point. But it's only the first month. Play on!

    MLB Leaders
    HTML Code:
    AL						NL
    
    AVG						AVG
    1. Ichiro (SEA)		.388			1. Chipper Jones (ATL)	.411
    2. Alex Rodriguez (NYY)	.376			2. Rickie Weeks (MIL)	.408
    3. Mark Grudzielanek (KCR) .361			3. Albert Pujols (STL)	.407
    						Astro. Carlos Lee	.340
    
    HR						HR
    1. Alex Rodriguez (NYY)	12			1. Chase Utley (PHI)	10
    2. Casey Blake (CLE)	10			2. Geoff Jenkins (PHI)	9
    3. Carlos Pena (TBR)	10			3. Ryan Howard (PHI)	9
    						Astro. Lance Berkman	7
    
    RBI						RBI
    1. Alex Rodriguez (NYY)	34			1. Chase Utley (PHI)	30
    2. Raul Ibanez (SEA)	31			2. Geoff Jenkins (PHI)	28
    3. Luis Terrero (BAL)	28			3. James Loney (LAD)	27
    						Astro. Lance Berkman	25
    
    SB						SB
    1. Chone Figgins (LAA)	13			1. Jose Reyes (NYM)	17
    2. Denard Span (MIN)	12			2. Willie Harris (WSN)	12
    3. Freddy Guzman (DET)	10			3. Rafael Furcal (LAD)	10
    						Astro. Darin Erstad	6
    
    OBP						OBP
    1. Alex Rodriguez (NYY)	.465			1. Albert Pujols (STL)	.514
    2. Jack Cust (OAK)	.430			2. Chipper Jones (ATL)	.476
    3. Ichiro (SEA)		.429			3. Rickie Weeks (MIL)	.473
    						Astro. Carlos Lee	.407
    
    SLG						SLG
    1. Alex Rodriguez (NYY)	.743			1. Albert Pujols (STL)	.733
    2. Casey Blake (CLE)	.703			2. Ryan Ludwick (STL)	.706
    3. Manny Ramirez (BOS)	.644			3. Chipper Jones (ATL)	.696
    						Astro. Hunter Pence	.604
    
    OPS						OPS
    1. Alex Rodriguez (NYY)	1.208			1. Albert Pujols (STL)	1.247
    2. Casey Blake (CLE)	1.110			2. Chipper Jones (ATL)	1.172
    3. Carlos Pena (TBR)	1.057			3. Rickie Weeks (MIL)	1.146
    						Astro. Carlos Lee	.997
    
    Wins						Wins
    1. Shaun Marcum (TOR)	5			1. Derek Lowe (LAD)	5
    2. Francisco Liriano (MIN) 4			2. Brad Penny (LAD)	5
    3. Felix Hernandez (SEA)4			3. Johan Santana (NYM)	4
    						Astro. Chris Sampson	3
    
    ERA						ERA
    1. Shaun Marcum (TOR)	2.36			1. Brandon Backe (HOU)	1.38
    2. Jon Lester (BOS)	2.65			2. Derek Lowe (LAD)	1.40
    3. Carlos Silva (SEA)	2.65			3. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)2.10
    						Astro. Brandon Backe	1.38
    
    K						K
    1. Javier Vazquez (CHW)	43			1. Jake Peavy (SDP)	52
    2. Felix Hernandez (SEA)40			2. Johan Santana (NYM)	49
    3. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS)38			3. Edinson Volquez (CIN)47
    						Astro. Roy Oswalt	33
    
    SV						SV
    1. Joe Nathan (MIN)	10			1. Takashi Saito (LAD)	9
    2. C.J. Wilson (TEX)	10			2. Jose Valverde (HOU)	8
    3. George Sherrill (BAL)9			3. Will Ohman (ATL)	7
    						Astro. Jose Valverde	8

  12. #117
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros Stats
    HTML Code:
    2008 Batting             Team    G   AVG    AB    H  2B  3B  HR   BB    K   SB  CS    R  RBI   SLG   OBP
    Lee, Carlos               HOU   26  .340   100   34   7   0   6   11   16    0   0   21   18  .590  .407
    Loretta, Mark             HOU   26  .255    98   25   5   0   2    3   14    0   0    8   13  .367  .272
    Berkman, Lance            HOU   26  .268    97   26   6   1   7   15   26    0   0   17   25  .567  .366
    Pence, Hunter             HOU   26  .292    96   28   9   3   5   12   23    2   1   17   16  .604  .376
    Tejada, Miguel            HOU   21  .291    79   23   3   0   4    8    6    0   0   13   15  .481  .364
    Erstad, Darin             HOU   22  .286    63   18   0   2   1    8    8    6   2   12    3  .397  .361
    Ausmus, Brad              HOU   21  .207    58   12   1   1   0    3   12    0   0    2    3  .259  .266
    Matsui, Kazuo             HOU   12  .204    54   11   4   0   2    5   10    6   1   13    8  .389  .271
    Cruz, Jose                HOU   24  .308    52   16   2   3   1   10   15    1   1   12    4  .519  .419
    Quintero, Humberto        HOU   19  .263    38   10   4   0   0    3    6    0   0    4    2  .368  .317
    Wigginton, Ty             HOU    8  .219    32    7   1   0   2    0    3    0   0    4    7  .438  .212
    Newhan, David             HOU   23  .300    20    6   0   0   0    2    4    0   1    2    2  .300  .348
    Perez, Tomas              HOU   12  .143    14    2   1   0   0    0    6    0   0    0    1  .214  .143
    Blum, Geoff               HOU    8  .154    13    2   0   0   0    4    1    0   0    0    0  .154  .353
    Johnson, Chris            HOU    4  .231    13    3   0   0   0    1    1    0   0    0    1  .231  .286
    Sampson, Chris            HOU    6  .182    11    2   0   0   0    1    5    0   0    2    0  .182  .250
    Oswalt, Roy               HOU    6  .333     9    3   1   0   0    3    2    0   0    0    0  .444  .500
    Backe, Brandon            HOU    4  .111     9    1   0   0   0    0    3    0   0    0    1  .111  .111
    Cassel, Jack              HOU    4  .143     7    1   0   0   0    0    3    0   0    0    0  .143  .143
    Abercrombie, Reggie       HOU   12  .200     5    1   1   0   0    0    4    0   0    1    1  .400  .200
    Chacon, Shawn             HOU    6  .000     5    0   0   0   0    0    3    0   0    0    0  .000  .000
    Rodriguez, Wandy          HOU    4  .000     4    0   0   0   0    1    2    0   0    0    0  .000  .200
    Relaford, Desi            HOU    2  .000     3    0   0   0   0    1    2    0   0    0    0  .000  .250
    Byrdak, Tim               HOU   20  .000     1    0   0   0   0    0    0    0   0    0    0  .000  .000
    Villarreal, Oscar         HOU    3  .000     1    0   0   0   0    1    0    0   0    1    0  .000  .500
    HTML Code:
    2008 Pitching            Team     IP   ERA    G  GS   W   L  SV    K   BB   R/9
    Oswalt, Roy               HOU   38.1  4.23    6   6   2   3   0   33   11 12.21
    Sampson, Chris            HOU   35.0  3.34    6   6   3   2   0   16   15 13.11
    Backe, Brandon            HOU   26.0  1.38    4   4   3   1   0   22    6  6.58
    Cassel, Jack              HOU   22.2  5.16    4   4   2   2   0   13    6 10.32
    Chacon, Shawn             HOU   20.0  4.05    6   1   1   0   0   10   12 11.25
    Rodriguez, Wandy          HOU   15.0 13.20    4   4   0   2   0   10   11 21.00
    Moehler, Brian            HOU   14.1  6.28   12   0   0   0   0   15    3 12.56
    Byrdak, Tim               HOU   14.0  5.14   20   0   0   1   0   10    9 12.21
    Geary, Geoff              HOU   13.1  0.68   14   0   1   0   0   14    2  6.75
    Brocail, Doug             HOU   11.2  7.71   15   0   1   1   0    9    7 17.74
    Valverde, Jose            HOU   10.2  0.84   12   0   0   0   8   13    5 13.50
    Villarreal, Oscar         HOU    7.0  2.57    3   1   1   0   0    5    6 18.00

    Houston Astros Prospect Update
    C J.R. Towles, AA Corpus Christi Hooks


    Towles is killing AA pitching this week to the tune of .444/.512/.500 and an overall line of .417/.472/.521. While that looks just silly, the concern with him right now is that he only has 3 doubles, a triple and no home runs. Most of the damage he's doing with the bat has been singles, and that's something that doesn't carry over well into the Major Leagues. While Towles has probably earned himself a promotion to AAA with his strong play, he'll have to show a bit more juice in his bat to get to Houston in the next month.

    CF Yordany Ramirez, AA Corpus Christi Hooks
    Ramirez hit .341/.357/.415 last week to push his overall batting line up to .325/.350/.453 through 29 games. He's viewed as Major League ready right now with the glove in the outfield with his strong arm, great range and reads in center. But his bat has always been the question mark so it's good to see him produce at the plate as well. With the center field situation in Houston not secure at all, he'll battle Michael Bourn for the long term job this year and next.

    RP Samuel Gervacio, AA Corpus Christi Hooks
    Corpus Christi is loaded with talent with Towles, Ramirez and Samuel Gervacio. Since writing about him in last week's update, Gervacio went out and pitched eight innings of scoreless ball over four appearances and picked up the save in three of them. In those four games he allowed four hits while striking out five and walking only one batter. The Houston bullpen has been much better of late, so the need to rush Gervacio isn't there as much anymore. But if he keeps this up for another few weeks, some of the veterans in the big league bullpen better start packing.

  13. #118
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Week 6: May 2 - 8

    May 2
    MLB News/Transactions
    Contracts:
    HTML Code:
    FLA	RF Ben Johnson (68)		1 Year, $580K			Assigned to AAA Albuquerque
    Injuries:
    HTML Code:
    BAL	RP Randor Bierd (73)		Right Shoulder Impingement (Three months)
    CHW	RF Jermaine Dye (86)		Broken Hip (Four months)

    A huge blow to the White Sox' playoffs hopes as right fielder Jermaine Dye will be out until September with a hip injury. The Sox are off to a slow start at 13-16 but were looked at as a possible dark horse in the American League. Dye's injury should all but eliminate Chicago as a contender in the AL Central. He was hitting .212/.305/.442 at the time of his injury with seven home runs and 18 driven in. Veteran outfielder Dwayne Wise will step into the starting job in right field with Brad Eldred getting the call to replace Dye on the active roster.

    HTML Code:
    FLA	LF Josh Willingham (82)		Right Shoulder Impingement (Seven weeks)
    The last place Fish get some bad news to start the week with news that starting left fielder Josh Willingham will miss nearly two months with a shoulder injury. Willingham was leading the team in all sorts of offensive categories such as batting average, home runs, RBIs, runs, OBP, pretty much everything, so this is a huge blow. He was batting .319/.407/.582 with six home runs and 18 RBIs at the time of the injury. Old man Luis Gonzalez will get a surprise starting gig for the next two months in left field in Willingham's place. Wes Helms will be called back up for pinch hitting duties.

    HTML Code:
    NYY	1B Morgan Ensberg (82)		Stretched Ankle Ligament (Two weeks)

    Only days after A-Rod went down with an injury, his replacement Ensberg also is forced on the DL with an ankle injury. Ensberg was batting a robust .277/.388/.362 in 27 games split between first base, third base and DH. In a highly unusual move, manager Joe Girardi will shift Derek Jeter over to third base, a position he's never played before, to accommodate shortstop Alberto Gonzalez in the starting lineup. Risky business for the first year Yankee skipper.

    Retirements:
    HTML Code:
    STL	C Mark L. Johnson		Retired at Age 32

  14. #119
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    Astros News/Transactions
    Game 27
    Houston Astros (15-12) vs. Cincinnati Reds (10-17)
    HTML Code:
    Astros win 6-5		WP: Brandon Backe (4-1)		LP: Matt Belisle (1-2)		SV: Jose Valverde (9)
      	1 	2 	3 	4 	5 	6 	7 	8 	9 	R 	H 	E
    Reds 	2 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	0 	3 	5 	6 	0
    Astros 	2 	1 	0 	3 	0 	0 	0 	0 	x 	6 	8 	0

    Brandon Backe picked up his fourth consecutive win to help his team win their seventh straight in a sweep over the Reds. The Astros punished Reds starter Matt Belisle by launching four home runs off him, two each by Jose Cruz and Hunter Pence. Cruz got things started off for the Astros with a leadoff home run and kept it up three innings later with another shot. Once Belisle left, things calmed down for the Reds as they didn't allow a single run the rest of the way. The Astros nearly gave another game up when Adam Dunn went yard in the top of the ninth to close the gap to one run. Jose Valverde was immediately summoned to close out the game for his ninth save on the year. With the Brewers and Pirates idle today, the Astros climb to a three way tie for second place, a half game behind the Cardinals.

    HTML Code:
    Astros					Reds
    Cruz 2-4, 2 HR(3), 3 RBI, 2 R		Bruce 2-4, HR(5), 2 RBI, 2 R
    Pence 2-3, 2 HR(7), 2 RBI, 2 R		Dunn 1-4, HR(6), 3 RBI, R, K
    Backe 6 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 3 K, BB		Belisle 4 IP, 6 ER, 0 K, BB

  15. #120
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    Re: The Return of the Good Guys: 2008 Houston Astros

    May 3
    MLB News/Transactions
    Injuries:
    HTML Code:
    CIN	RP Jake Woods (70)		Sprained Lower Back (Two weeks)
    COL	SS Troy Tulowitzki (80)		Left Quadriceps Tendon Tear (Six weeks)

    Last year's runner up in the Rookie of the Year Award, Tulo will sit out for the next six weeks after suffering a quad tear rounding the bases after a double. The slick fielding second year man will be replaced in the lineup by Clint Barmes with top talent Ian Stewart getting recalled for additional infield depth. Tulowitzki was suffering from a sophomore slump in April batting only .267/.323/.349 after a superb .291/.359/479 rookie year.

    HTML Code:
    DET	RP Denny Bautista (76)		Shoulder Soreness (Four weeks)
    Bautista is just the latest Tigers pitcher to go down with an injury this season following after Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney, Jeremy Bonderman, Macay McBride, and Dontrelle Willis. The Tigers pitching staff is the main reason the team is performing so poorly, and the lack of depth in the minor league system is really killing them with all these injuries. Francisco Cruceta will get the first chance at replacing Bautista in the bullpen, although that shouldn't be too hard as Bautista put up a 5.71 ERA and a 16/17 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season.

    HTML Code:
    MIL	RP Salomon Torres (83)		Broken Ankle (Three months)
    Torres has been used very sparingly over the past month, making only eight appearances in eight innings for the Brewers. The longtime Pittsburgh Pirate is a decent reliever and really deserves more than eight innings in a month. He'll be out until August. Aaron Fultz will get his first chance to pitch with Milwaukee after signing a minor league contract two weeks ago.

    Milestones:
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    SDP	SP Greg Maddux (86)		350th Win

    Maddux is undeniably one of the best right handed pitchers in baseball history. He keeps climbing up the wins ladder and shows no signs of giving up at age 42. With the way he's pitching he could go on for another season or two, especially in the spacious confines of PETCO Park.

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