Results tagged ‘ 2013 ’

Astros invite 18 non-roster players to camp

Here are the Astros’ 18 non-roster invitees to spring camp:

LHP Kevin Chapman…24..southpaw reliever was 6-3 in 49 appearances at Double A Corpus Christi with a 2.64 ERA (17ER/58IP) and two saves while tallying 59 strikeouts in 58.0 innings pitched…held opponents to a .226 average…in three career minor league seasons, has totaled 169 K’s in just 138.0 innings with 13 saves…was a 2012 Mid-Season Texas League All-Star…acquired by Houston from KC during Spring Training in 2012 as part of a trade.

OF Trevor Crowe…29…signed by Houston as a minor league free agent on Nov. 26, 2012…has appeared in 245 ML games over parts of three seasons (2009-11), all with Cleveland…stole 20 bases in a career-high 122 games for the Indians in 2010…in 2012, hit .281 in a combined 84 games for three different minor league clubs in the Indians and Angels organizations…selected by the Indians in the first round (14th overall) of the 2005 June Draft.

LHP Sergio Escalona…28…missed the 2012 season due to elbow surgery…in 2011, was 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA for the Astros in 49 relief appearances with 25 strikeouts in 27.2 innings…in his ML career, is 3-1 in 63 relief appearances with a 3.48 ERA…in 195 minor league appearances, has posted a 3.45 ERA with 380 K’s in 378 innings.

RHP Chuckie “C.J.” Fick…27…was 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the Astros in 2012…was claimed off waivers by Houston from St. Louis…also made two relief appearances for the Cardinals in 2012…is 24-18 in six minor league seasons with a 3.41 ERA with seven saves.

C Rene Garcia…22…hit .285 in 69 combined games at Class A Lancaster (60g) and Double A Corpus Christi (9g) in 2012…in his five minor league seasons, has thrown out 35% of baserunners attempting to steal.

OF Jake Goebbert…25…spent most of the 2012 season at Double A Corpus Christi, where he hit .304 in 114 games with 23 doubles, six triples, nine home runs and 53 RBI with a .399 on-base percentage…also appeared in 16 games at Triple A Oklahoma City…tallied a career-high 98 RBI at Class A Lexington in 2010…has posted a .285 career average in 456 minor league games.

RHP Edgar Gonzalez…29…was 3-1 in six starts for the Astros in 2012 with a 5.04 ERA (14ER/25IP) with eight walks and 18 strikeouts…was signed by Houston as a minor league free agent during the summer and assigned to Triple A Oklahoma City where he was 1-0 with an 0.69 ERA in two starts before having his contract purchased…has pitched in 113 Major League games in his career (47 starts).

C Jason Jaramillo…30…signed by the Astros to a minor league deal in the offseason…spent parts of three seasons (2009-11) in the Major Leagues with the Pirates, appearing in 119 games (90 starts)…spent the 2012 season in Triple A with the Brewers and A’s organizations…was a second-round selection of the Phillies in the 2004 June Draft.

OF Marc Krauss…25…acquired from Arizona on July 29, 2012 as part of the trade involving 3B Chris Johnson…after the trade, was assigned to Double A Corpus Christi, where he hit .414 (12×29) with five HR and 16 RBI in just seven games…promoted to Triple A Oklahoma City, where he appeared in 22 games…his combined stats for 2012 (includes 104 games at Double A Mobile): .271, 31 doubles, 20 HR, 79 RBI…has averaged 20 HR and 77 RBI of his last three minor league seasons (2010-12)…originally selected by Arizona in the second round of the 2009 June Draft.

3B Brandon Laird…25…in 2012, hit .257 in 17 games for the Astros in Sept-Oct. after being claimed off waivers from the Yankees on Sept. 1…hit first ML HR on Sept. 12 at Pittsburgh…prior to joining the Astros, hit .257 in 130 games at Triple A Scranton Wilkes-Barre with 31 doubles, 15 HR and 77 RBI…in 2010, hit 25 HR with 102 RBI in 138 combined games at Double A Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

OF Che-Hsuan Lin…24…claimed  off waivers by Houston from Boston on Oct. 26, 2012…made ML debut with

the Red Sox on April 14, 2012…appeared in nine games overall for the Sox…tallied nine OF assists in 113 games at Triple A Pawtucket while hitting .247 with 15 stolen bases…has 67 OF assists in six minor league seasons, including a career-high 18 in 2009 while with Class A Salem…born in Hwa Lian, Taiwan.

C Carlos Perez…22…hit .318 in 26 games at Class A Lancaster after being acquired from TOR as part of a 10-player trade on July 20, 2012…including his 71 games at Single A Lansing, hit .285 in 97 games overall for the season with 28 doubles, six triples, five home runs and 50 RBI…threw out 14 of 30 attempted basestealers at Lancaster and has thrown out 34% of attempted basestealers in his five minor league seasons.

2B Jose Martinez…27…spent the majority of the 2012 season at Double A Corpus Christi, where he hit .304 in 107 games with 13 HR and 75 RBI…also appeared in 23 games for Triple A Oklahoma City…has played both second base and shortstop throughout his six minor league seasons…had been in the Cardinals system prior to being signed by Houston as a minor league free agent on Feb. 16, 2012.

C Chris Wallace…24…spent most of the 2012 season at Double A Corpus Christi, hitting .251 in 63 games with five HR and 29 RBI…also hit .270 (10×37) in 15 games at Triple A Oklahoma City…had fine 2011 season, with 20 HR and 78 RBI with a .507 slugging pct. in 102 combined games at Single A Lexington (66g) and Corpus Christi (36g)…selected by Houston in the 16th round of the 2010 Draft out of the University of Houston.

RHP Josh Zeid…25…spent the 2012 season at Double A Corpus Christi, where he was 2-0 in 47 relief appearances with a 5.59 ERA…had one of the top strikeouts-per-innings pitched ratios in the Texas League with 66 K’s in 56.1 innings of work…finished the season strong, posting a 1.10 ERA (1ER/8.2IP) in his final seven appearances…is 20-13 in 140 career minor league appearances (39 starts) with 11 saves and 320 strikeouts in 323.0 innings of work…pitched for Team Isreal in the World Baseball Classic qualifying round.

Astros to reach out to Berkman

Lance Berkman, one of the most accomplished and most popular players in team history, could be returning to the Astros next year in free agency. Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said Friday he plans to reach out to the Big Puma to gauge his interest in returning.

“Lance can still produce at the Major League level,” said Luhnow, who was with St. Louis when Berkman played a huge role in the Cardinals’ run to the 2011 World Series. “He’s a guy a lot of clubs are going to be interested in. We’ll have a conversation with him and see where it goes.”

Berkman, who’s been hobbled by bad knees the past few years, could get extended time at designated hitter for the Astros, who are moving to the American League next year. He lives in Houston year round and could opt to finish his career in his hometown.

“He is an offensive weapon and has been his entire career,” Luhnow said. “No matter how you get that bat in the lineup – and obviously in the AL you have an opportunity to use him as a DH – he’s an offensive force, no question about it.”

Berkman, 36, played the first 12 years of his career with the Astros, hitting 360 home runs with 1,200 RBIs. He was traded to the Yankees midway through the 2010 season before signing a pair of one-year deals with the Cardinals.

He hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs in 2011, but was limited to 81 at-bats last season because of knee injuries. The Cardinals have said they’re not interest in bringing him back, and Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week he’ll wait until December to decide if he wants to keep playing.

“Clearly, Lance has a great history here and was a key part of a great franchise at a great time,” Luhnow said. “If we feel there’s a fit in terms of what we need and what he can provide, we won’t hesitate to pursue it. We have a lot of different options out there and we’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”

Astros have plenty of free agent options

With the World Series suddenly over in four quick games, the hot stove season is underway. Teams can begin signing other club’s free agents on Friday night, and the Astros will be involved. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow will have the flexibility to add some free agents this winter, but the Astros aren’t going to be bidding for any of the big names on the market at this stage of their rebuilding process.

So what kind of players will the Astros be targeting? Luhnow would like to add a starting pitcher, some bullpen help and a bat or two to increase run production, which is vital when you consider Houston is now an American League club (get that in your head, folks). With that in mind, here’s a list of some players the Astros could target in free agency (please note some of these players have options for 2013):


Octavio Dotel

2012 club:  Detroit.

Salary: $3 million.

Analysis: The former Astros has 13 Major League stops under his belt, but he keeps going strong. He’s a hard-thrower with plenty of closing experience.

Kyle Farnsworth

2012 club:  Tampa Bay.

Salary: $3.3 million.

Analysis: He wasn’t quite able to duplicate his stellar 2011 season, but that could drive down the price enough for the Astros to land an experienced arm.

Jon Rauch

2012 club:  New York Mets

Salary:  $3.5 million.

Analysis: Workhorse reliever appeared in 73 games last season and has handled a heavy load the last few years. Perhaps he could be a fit in the late innings for the Astros?

Jason Grilli

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $1.1 million.

Analysis: His best days may be behind him, but he took the ball 64 times for the Pirates last season and posted a 2.91 ERA, saving a pair of games.


Joe Blanton

2012 club:  Philadelphia and Los Angeles Dodgers

Salary: $8.5 million

Analysis: If he’s willing to take a big pay cut at this point of his career, Blanton could be plugged into the rotation and guaranteed 30-plus starts if he’s healthy.

Kevin Correia

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $3 million.

Analysis: He’s won 12 games three times in the past 10 years on sub-par teams and could be a solid option to eat some innings in the middle of the rotation. He hasn’t pitched in the AL in his 10 years.

Ryan Demptser

2012 club:  Chicago Cubs and Texas.

Salary: $14 million.

Analysis: Probably way too rich for the Astros’ blood, but he would certainly solidify the top of the rotation alongside Bud Norris, Jordan Lyles and Lucas Harrell.

Anibal Sanchez

2012 club:  Miami and Detroit.

Salary: $8 million.

Analysis: Sanchez would have to take a pay cut to come to Houston, but he would be a good fit. He’s pitched at least 195 innings in each of the last three years.

Edwin Jackson

2012 club:  Washington.

Salary:  $11 million.

Analysis: Another veteran arm who would have to take a pay cut to Houston, but some of his best days came while he was pitching in the American League for Tampa and Detroit.

Shawn Marcum

2012 club:  Milwaukee

Salary: $7.725 million

Analysis: He topped 200 innings in his first year in Milwaukee in 2011, but was limited to 21 starts last year. Perhaps a move back to the American League would be welcomed.

Kyle Lohse

2012 club:  St. Louis.

Salary:  $11.875 million.

Analysis: Considering he’s won 30 games the past two years for the Cardinals, he’s probably going to be priced out of Astros range. But don’t underestimate Luhnow’s Cardinals ties.


Erik Bedard

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $4.5 million.

Analysis: This could be the type of player that will attract the Astros – a veteran coming off a sub-par season and looking for rejuvenation. Hasn’t lived up to hype since winning 15 games for Baltimore in 2006.

Dana Eveland

2012 club:  Baltimore

Salary: $750,000.

Analysis: Could be had on the cheap if the Astros are looking for a left-handed arm to plug into the rotation, but it’s been five years since he started more than 13 games.


Xavier Nady

2012 club:  Washington and San Francisco

Salary: $700,000.

Analysis: He’s been reduced to a part-time role at age 33, but he’s versatile in that he could play first base, outfield and handle designated hitter duties.

Angel Pagan

2012 club:  San Francisco.

Salary: $4.85 million.

Analysis: Coming off one of the best years of his career and a World Series championship with the Giants, Pagan would fit nicely into the Astros’ outfield if he’s not too pricey.

Raul Ibanez

2012 club:  New York Yankees.

Salary: $1.1 million.

Analysis: He’s 40 years old, but he proved in the playoffs he’s got plenty remaining in the tank. He would be ideal to be a designated hitter at this point in his career.

Scott Hairston

2012 club:  New York Mets

Salary: $1.1 million.

Analysis: He had his best power season of his career in 2012 when he slugged 20 homers for the Mets. He’s never appeared in the playoffs in nine years in the league, which could be a priority at this point in his career.


Rod Barajas

2012 club:  Pittsburgh.

Salary: $4 million.

Analysis: Barajas would be an ideal backup for Jason Castro and provide the Astros some much-needed power at the position.

Henry Blanco

2012 club:  Arizona.

Salary: $1.2 million.

Analysis: He hasn’t played much the last two years and might not bring enough offense to the table. If the Astros are looking for a cheap back up, he could be an option.

Ronny Paulino

2012 club:  Baltimore

Salary: $1 million.

Analysis: He hasn’t been a bad offensive player throughout his career, but doesn’t have much power anymore. Another cheap option as a back up.

David Ross

2012 club:  Atlanta

Salary: $1.625 million.

Analysis: He’s done a nice job backing up Brian McCann the past four years and last season hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBIs. He could get more playing time in Houston in ’13 considering DH options.

Kelly Shoppach

2012 club:  New York Mets.

Salary: $1.35 million.

Analysis:  His production and playing time have slipped the last few years, but maybe a move back to his native Texas and a return to the American League could provide a career boost.


Lance Berkman

2012 club:  St. Louis.

Salary: $12 million.

Analysis: Yes, it would be a great feel-good story if Berkman returned to his hometown Astros, where he could DH and save his knees. He’ll have to decide if he wants to keep playing.

Carlos Pena

2012 club:  Tampa Bay.

Salary: $7.25 million.

Analysis: He doesn’t hit for a very high average anymore, but he could be plugged into the DH role and be good for 25-30 homers.

Jonny Gomes

2012 club:  Oakland.

Salary: $1 million.

Analysis: If you’re looking for an ideal designated hitter candidate, Gomes is your guy. He hit 18 homers in only 279 at-bats for the A’s last season and comes on the cheap.

James Loney

2012 club:  Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston.

Salary: $6.375 million.

Analysis: Houston native’s game has slipped the last few years, but his hometown could be attractive to give him a season to get his left-handed swing back together.

Eric Chavez

2012 club:  New York Yankees.

Salary: $900,000.

Analysis: Chavez stayed healthy and had a nice bounce-back season for the Yankees last season, which could mean he’ll be looking for a bigger payday than the Astros are willing to offer.

Mark DeRosa

2012 club:  Washington.

Salary: $800,000.

Analysis: His game has really slipped offensive the past few years, but the Astros could be willing to take a flier on him at 37 years old.

Scott Rolen

2012 club:  Cincinnati.

Salary: $6.5 million.

Analysis: Rolen’s power numbers have dropped dramatically since his heyday with the Phillies and Cardinals. Could be undergo an offensive surge if he doesn’t have to play defense.

Crane tours Mets spring facility

Astros owner Jim Crane made another pass through Florida on Saturday, arriving at Osceola County Stadium and taking in batting practice with some of his partners.

Earlier in the day, Crane toured the Mets’ Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, which is down the road from his Floridian Golf Club. Crane has previously visited the Spring Training sites of the Yankees in Tampa and the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.

The Astros are under contract with Osceola County Stadium through 2015.

“As we said last time, we’re kind of looking at all the different spots and we had time to go there this morning and take a tour of the field and look at their facilities,” he said. “Certainly, they’re interested in another team there, but we’ve still got a deal here for quite some time so we’re just kind of learning. We’ll probably go out to Phoenix this week and check out a couple of spots and look at a few more spots in Florida.”

Crane hasn’t said the Astros will move their Spring Training facility when their lease in Kissimmee expires, but the state of Florida is actively trying to keep its 15 teams in the Grapefruit League and prevent any further defections to the Cactus League in Arizona.

“The state of Florida wants to keep everybody here,” he said. “We’ve got to do what’s best for us, and certainly this is a nice facility.”

As far as the upcoming season goes, Crane said Friday’s Opening Day game against the Rockies is approaching a sellout.

“We’re trying to sell out the opening game,” he said. “We’re getting close. We might make it. We’re working hard at it.”

Meanwhile, Crane and the Astros have about a month to submit new uniform designs to Major League Baseball. The Astros have had focus groups with fans to gauge new uniform designs, and it certainly appears the club will have a new look when it begins play in the American League in 2013.

“We’ve got another pass next week and we’ll be making some decisions pretty quick,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good input from the fans in the focus group, but also including some of the players and the guy that washes the uniforms. That’s very important. You’ve got to make sure the uniforms won’t break down on you.

“We’re leaning very heavily towards it and I’d be surprised if we didn’t [change].”

Lee reports as full squad hits the field

After listening to speeches from owner Jim Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Brad Mills, 63 Astros players hit the field for the first full-squad workout of the spring. The Astros have a week to get up to speed before opening Grapefruit League play Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

Among those on the field for the first time Sunday was Carlos Lee, who’s in the final year of his six-year, $100-million contract and likely his final season in Houston

Lee, 35, batted .275 with 18 homers and 94 RBIs in 155 games last year, and he hasn’t put up the same kind of numbers the last two seasons as did during his first three years in Houston when he hit .306 and averaged 29 homers and 107 RBIs.

“Last year, I started really slow, but I kind of figured it out and worked hard on my hitting and had a great second half,” he said. “I did what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully we take off in the same condition I was last year hitting the ball like I normally do.”

Crane made news when he told reporters the Astros would likely change uniforms next year.

Here is the day in photos, with an emphasis in smiles and autographs:

Astros owner Jim Crane and principal owner Bill Morgan stroll the back fields.

Jim Crane addresses reporters, saying team will likely change uniforms.

Juan Abreu rocks and fires in the bullpen.

Fernando Rodriguez signs autographs, chats with fans.

Jose Altuve, Travis Buck and Humberto Quintero await facing live pitching.

Travis Buck and Minor League baserunning coordinator Milt Thompson share a laugh.

J.D. Martinez laughs at the batting cage.

Kyle Weiland throws a round of living batting practice.

Aneury Rodriguez signs autographs.

A line of fans await Zach Duke's signature.

Sergio Escalona throws in the bullpen with Doug Brocail watching.

Should the Astros change their name?

Astros owner Jim Crane created some news Monday when he told reporters the team is considering changing its name upon moving to the American League in 2013. The Houston franchise began as the Colt .45’s in 1962 and changed its name to Astros when it moved into the Astrodome three years later.

The Astros are changing leagues and likely will have new uniforms in 2013, and now perhaps even a new name. Let us know what you think about the Astros possibly changing names by taking our poll: