November 2011

Continuance in Schafer case

A continuance has been granted in the case of Astros outfielder Jordan Schafer, who appeared in a Florida court Monday morning to face charges of possession of marijuana, a third-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Schafer, who arrested in October following a traffic stop in Tampa, is scheduled back in a Hillsborough County court on Nov. 28 after the court asked for a continuance in the case. Schafer’s attorney declined comment.

Schafer, acquired by the Astros from the Braves in the Michael Bourn trade earlier this year, was arrested early on Oct. 4 when undercover police officers spotted him smoking marijuana while driving his black Land Rover and initiated a traffic stop. Police found more marijuana in the vehicle.

The Astros have maintained their stance of not commenting on police matters.

According to a Tampa police report, Schafer was driving a 2008 Land Rover with the windows down when he pulled up next to police officers inside an unmarked car. Both vehicles were stopped at a red light when the officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and saw the driver smoking marijuana.

The officers pulled over the Land Rover, and Schafer admitted to smoking marijuana and having more in the center console. After he was read his rights, he admitted the marijuana was his and his alone. There were two passengers in the vehicle.

The officers searched his vehicle and located a plastic container with 25.9 grams of marijuana, along with three small marijuana peanut butter cups which contained 247.8 milligrams of marijuana, according to its packaging.

Schafer, 25, hit .245 and stole seven bases in 30 games in a part-time role with the Astros. He was on the disabled list with a hand injury when the Astros acquired him, and wound up starting 25 games after coming off the disabled list on Aug. 22.

The former top prospect in the Braves’ Minor League system, Schafer was suspended 50 games in the Minor Leagues in 2008 for use of human growth hormone in violation of the Minor League drug prevention and treatment program.


Melancon sees action in Taiwan

Astros closer Mark Melancon made his first appearance for the Major League All-Stars in their tour of Taiwan by pitching a scoreless ninth inning Friday night in a 6-2 win over the the Chinese Taipei national team in Taichung.

The MLB All-Stars won, 3-2, on Saturday to take a 4-0 lead in the five-game set heading into Sunday’s finale, which will air on MLB.TV and MLB Network at 8 p.m. CT.

Click here to see Melancon get the final out.

Towles, Clemens file for free agency

First baseman Koby Clemens and catcher J.R. Towles were among the Astros Minor League players to file for free agency, according to a list in Baseball America. The majority of the players are the list are six-year free agents, which means the Astros have used all six of his contract renewals.

“The list, in total, is very interesting to us,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We’ve spent a lot of time – Ricky Bennett, Charlie Norton and Pete Putila here in our office – going through the reports, ranking the six-year free agents and talking to our player development staff and scouting personnel and being aggressive in getting out there and trying to make contact and offers to see if we can do some things to help the club.

“We were very successful in that respect last year when you look at people like Fernando Rodriguez and Carlos Corporan and others. We view it as a vehicle to be able to strengthen the depth at not only the Minor League level, but also help the big-league club as well.”

Wade wasn’t prepared to close the door on bringing back any of the team’s own players who have filed for free agency.

“At the end of the day, if it works out that we feel they’re the right players, we’ll go ahead and pursue them,” he said.

Here is the Astros’ list:

Astros (16)
Erick Abreu (AA), Sammy Gervacio (AAA), Brad James (AA), Ross Wolf (AAA)
LHP: Kristian Bueno (SS), Ryan Rowland-Smith (AAA), Andy Van Hekken (AAA)
C: J.R. Towles (AAA)
1B: Koby Clemens (AAA)
2B: Jose Vallejo (AAA)
3B: Jhonny Medrano (Lo A), Oswaldo Navarro (AAA)
SS: Anderson Hernandez (AAA), Wladimir Sutil (AA)
OF: Luis Durango (AAA), Drew Locke (AAA)

Mills getting long in tooth among NL Central managers

Brad Mills and Terry Francona, former college roommates who worked together for years with the Phillies and the Red Sox, could soon be battling each other 18 times a season in the National League Central.

News reports say Francona is set to interview for the Cardinals’ vacant managerial position after he was let go by the Red Sox earlier this year. This comes after Ryne Sandberg was given permission to interview in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have fired Mike Quade and are going to interview Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who interviewed in Houston before Mills go the job two years ago.

Believe it or not, Mills is now the second-longest current tenured manager in the NL Central behind Dusty Baker. Here’s a breakdown of the managerial status of the teams in the Central:

St. Louis Cardinals — Vacant following the retirement of Tony La Russa.

Chicago Cubs — Vacant following the dismissal of Mike Quade.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Clint Hurdle just completed his first season in Pittsburgh.

Milwaukee Brewers — Ron Roenicke led the Brewers to the division title in his first season in 2011.

Houston Astros — Brad Mills has completed two seasons on the job.

Cincinnati Reds — Dusty Baker took over following the 2007 season and replaced Pete Mackanin, who was hired on an interim basis.