August 2011

Astros youthful lineup vs. D-Backs

Before we get to the lineup, here is something interesting from STATS:

It’s amazing that six of the nine players who started for Houston on Sunday have fewer than 70 games of major league experience. Only three of the 25 active Astros have played as many as 500 career games.

Astros active 25-Man Roster – career Major League experience

Carlos Lee          1907 games

Jason Michaels       1008 games

Clint Barmes         746 games

Humberto Quintero    350 games

Brett Myers          299 games

All others           1475 games total

Here is Tuesday’s lineup:

CF Jason Bourgeois

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

SS Angel Sanchez

3B Jimmy Paredes

C Humberto Quintero

P Jordan Lyles

Armstrong feeling healthy, not focused on deadline

A week away from the deadline for team’s to sign players selected in June’s First-Year Player Draft, Astros third-round pick Jack Armstrong – a 6-foot-7 pitcher from Vanderbilt – isn’t concerning himself with the approaching deadline.

“I’m not too anxious,” he said. “My dad [former Major League pitcher Jack Armstrong] has done a good job making sure I’m focused on what matters, and that’s playing baseball and pitching. Whatever happens, happens. I have two good options next year, either going back to school or signing with the Astros.”

Armstrong, who has one year of eligibility remaining at Vanderbilt, has been pitching in the Cape Cod League this summer to re-establish his value. He experienced some tightness in his elbow late last month and has been moved to the bullpen, but Armstrong said Monday he’s healthy and hoping to make a start in the Cape Code playoffs.

“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “I threw an inning a couple of days ago and it felt good. [The injury] was just a little too much too soon out of my college season and being a relief guy and then jumping into 70, 80 pitches right away. It’s nothing major.”

Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck expects Armstrong to come to Houston for a physical as soon as his Yarmouth-Dennis team is eliminated, which could happen later this week. First-round pick George Springer, who’s also unsigned, passed a physical last week in Houston.

“We’ve gotten signs that [Armstrong] wants to start his professional career, and we plan to be aggressive with him,” Heck said. “Obviously, it’s a lifetime between now and Monday night. It’s something we think is going to go down to the end, not because we’re far apart in negotiations, just because we’re working with him still playing and the plan is to get him here in front of [team medical director] Dr. [David] Lintner at some point. The physical part is going to be imperative to the negotiating process.”

Astros lineup vs. D’backs

The Astros open a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Chase Field, where left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (7-8, 3.69 ERA) takes the mound against Arizona right-hander Daniel Hudson (11-7, 3.67).

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:

RF J.B. Shuck

2B Jose Altuve

CF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Matt Downs

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

C Carlos Corporan

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

Astros lineup for Sunday

The Astros will try to avoid a sweep Sunday at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park, with Bud Norris on the mound.

Here is the Astros starting lineup:

RF J.B. Shuck

2B Jose Altuve

CF Jason Bourgeois

1B Carlos Lee

LF J.D. Martinez

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Bud Norris

Astros lineup Saturday vs. Brewers

Here is the Astros lineup for Saturday’s game against the Brewers at Minute Maid Park, where Brett Myers (3-11, 4.65 ERA) faces Chris Narveson (7-6, 4.39 ERA). Myers is trying to snap a personal five-game losing streak.

ASTROS

CF Jason Bourgeois

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Jason Michaels

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

C Humberto Quintero

RHP Brett Myers

Springer enjoys Houston visit

Astros first-round pick George Springer III made his first visit to Houston on Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t to sign a contract. Springer took and passed a team physical, getting the procedure out of the way in advance of the Aug. 15 signing deadline.

Springer briefly visited Minute Maid Park before hopping a plane back to his home in Connecticut.

“It’s an incredible ballpark,” Springer told MLB.com. “The atmosphere and the whole feel of the stadium was something special to me. [Houston] is an incredible place. I didn’t know it was as big as it was.”

Springer, 21, was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut, where he hit .343 with 12 homers and 77 RBIs with 31 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage during his junior season. He briefly met Astros manager Brad Mills on Friday.

“He seemed like a great guy,” Springer said. “He’s a baseball guy and was fun to be around for a while. I was only there a short time. It was basically in and out.”

Astros general manager Ed Wade wanted to get the physical done in case Springer signs near the deadline.

“If this thing drifts to the Aug. 15 deadline, we don’t have to set our hair on fire at that point to try to get an agreement in place,” Wade said. “He passed it with flying colors. It was an in-and-out deal. [Team medical director] Dr. [David] Lintner and the people at Methodist Hospital paved the way for him. The hard part is done. Now the easy part comes, getting him signed.”

Wade said he expects negotiations to continue until the deadline. The Astros are hoping to sign Springer, third-round pick Jack Armstrong, who’s currently pitching in the Cape Cod League, and 13th-round pick Horace Stubblefield, a right-handed pitcher from Lufkin, Texas.

Which young player has you most excited?

Tag’s Lines — and Tags — is back at work today, so everyone on their toes.

With J.B. Shuck on his way to Houston following his promotion from Triple-A Oklahoma City, the Astros have another fresh face in the clubhouse. Shuck, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, will be the third player to make his Major League debut since last week’s trade of Hunter Pence, joining J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes.

That brings us to a long-awaited poll question.

Tumultuous weekend for Astros

What a weekend for the Astros.

When they get back together at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon, there should be some introductions in order. In the past 72 hours, the Astros traded away the best hitters in their lineup — outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn — and sent starting third baseman Chris Johnson and first baseman Brett Wallace to the Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Whew.

Instead of Bourn and Pence, fans will have to get to know players like Luis Durango and Jimmy Paredes. Who are they? They are the newest additions to the club and will join the team Monday. There’s a good chance when the Astros hit the field Monday against the Reds they’ll have three players in the lineup who spent most of the season at Double-A Corpus Christi. Houston Hooks, anyone?

With Johnson going to Oklahoma City, it looks as though Paredes will start at third base. He was iffy defensively during Spring Training when he was in the middle of the infield, and he strikes out three times more than he walks. But he’s as athletic as crazy and just 22 years, so I’m anxious to see what he’s got. Just like I’m anxious to see more of J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve.

I’m guessing Carlos Lee plays first base until Wallace returns. Jason Bourgeois will play center field until Schafer is healthy, with J.D. Martinez in left and perhaps Brian Bogusevic in right. Jason Michaels and Durango will be in the mix, too. When Schafer returns in about 10 days, Bourgeois could play right field. This all has to be sorted out.

The times certainly have changed for the Astros, and it’s going to require a large amount of patience from the fans. For the second year in a row, the Astros traded two key players and stocked up on prospects. If they pan out the way the Astros hope, they will be well-positioned for the future. As for now, it’s time to enjoy the kids.

The following links are a recap of the day’s coverage on MLB.com:

Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace talked to me about getting sent to the Minor Leagues

The Astros trade Michael Bourn to the Braves for Jordan Schafer and three prospects

Here’s everything you need to know about the prospects the Astros got from the Braves

Astros CF Michael Bourn talked to MLB.com following the trade and gave his thoughts

Astros general manager Ed Wade tried to trade Wandy Rodriguez, but they will try to slip him through waivers and try to deal him in August

On a final note: I’m taking the next few days off, but will be back in the saddle later this week. Thanks for turning to MLB.com for the best coverage of the Astros at the Trade Deadline.

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