Results tagged ‘ Drayton McLane ’

Astros full squad hits the field

The clubhouse was buzzing and full of excitement this morning as 62 players – everyone except veteran infielder Bill Hall – dressed and took the field for the first full-squad workout of Spring Training.

The players took physicals in the morning and then heard from owner Drayton McLane, general manager Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills in a quick team meeting.

“I talked to them about the opportunity we have here,” McLane said.

Wade reminded the players they have a veteran core nucleus who know what they’re responsibilities are from the standpoint of leadership, but he also told the many young players on the roster they also carry some responsibilities.

“The young guys don’t have to act like young guys,” Wade said. “They can step up and hold themselves and their teammates accountable and hold that measure of trust between themselves and their teammates and the staff and believe in themselves.”

Hall, who signed with the Astros in December, isn’t expected to be with the club until Wednesday following the birth of his child. Among the players who arrived for the first time in camp were Carlos Lee and Michael Bourn.

“It’s time to get going,” Mills said. “It’s really kind of hard to ease into those types of things because we start playing games in a week. Most of the guys are ready to go, they’ve at least been playing catch. We’re going to introduce a lot of the things and they’ll get it done. We’ll be fine.”

Here are some early-morning pictures of the players getting ready for the first full-squad workout:
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Above: Clint Barmes, Hunter Pence and Brett Wallace emerge from the clubhouse for the first full-squad workout of Spring Training.

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Above: Jason Michaels hits the field for the first full-squad workout of Spring Training.

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Above: Carlos Lee prepares to take the field for the first workout.

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Above: Brad Mills speaks briefly to the team before beginning early-morning stretch.

Wade: Business as usual despite impending sale

Astros general manager Ed Wade said Friday the impending sale of the club won’t have any effect on what moves he plans to make this offseason. Owner Drayton McLane announced at a press conference Friday he would begin taking offers to sell the team.

The Astros made their first significant move of the winter Thursday by trading pitcher Felipe Paulino to the Rockies for infielder Clint Barmes, who appears to be penciled in as their starting shortstop. Wade said Friday the club still has some payroll flexibility, and the Astros would still like to add a starting pitcher, a left-handed hitting outfielder and perhaps another infielder.

“We’ll continue doing what we can to improve our club and take the next step of we can,” Wade said. “Every club has a budget, and we know what our budget is and we’ll work within the confines of that. I clearly understand why we have a budget. You’ve got to work within your means and it’s got to be reflective of what your revenues are. Talking to Drayton and [president of business operations] Pam Gardner and [president of baseball operations] Tal [Smith], it’s clear that what we have to spend fits the revenue we’ve got. We still have to make smart decisions.”

The Astros began last season with a $93 million payroll, but that had been cut dramatically by September following the trades of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Pedro Feliz. Next year’s payroll likely won’t be as high as last season’s Opening Day figure, but it should be higher from where it was at the end of the season despite having $43 million committed to contracts in 2011 and having 11 arbitration-eligible players, including Barmes ($3.3 million in 2010).

“It’s only November,” Wade said. “We don’t open Spring Training until the 16th of February, so we have a lot of times to do things. Before we roll back in here to play the Red Sox in those two exhibition games, I suspect we’ll do a few more things.”

McLane checks out instructional league

Astros owner Drayton McLane swooped into Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday, joining general manager Ed Wade, assistant general manager David Gottfried and manager Brad Mills to watch a workout day during the fall instructional league at Osceola County Stadium.

Wade, Gottfried and Mills had been in Florida since Tuesday, but McLane decided to pay them a visit to get an eyewitness account of some of the club’s best young Minor League talent. McLane even took time to address the 47 players following the workout.

“It was an excellent opportunity to talk with them and I wanted to get to know them and communicate with them and get a chance to talk to them,” said McLane, who landed in the morning and was gone a few hours later.

McLane was thoroughly impressed with outfielder Ariel Ovando, a 17-year-old Dominican prospect the Astros paid record signing bonus of more than $2.5 million earlier this year.

“He’s really impressive in person and his ability is going to be very good,” McLane said. “He’s barely 17. As you watch him run and field, you can just tell he’s going to be an exceptionally good player.”

Wade said overall the talent level is the highest he’s seen in three years in Houston, but he has been extremely impressed with Ovando as well.

“He’s gotten some big base hits in every one of the games,” Wade said. “He’s still just a kid and a lot of things to learn, as you would suspect with a 17-year-old. But certainly, from the standpoint of athleticism and the way he swings the bat, he has a chance to be a real good player.”

The Astros won all three games they had played during the week Wade and Mills were in Florida, including a game against a Chinese traveling team preparing for the Asian Games in Vero Beach, Fla.

“What a great group of kids we have down here,” Mills said. “They’re very athletic and they can run and steal bases. [Infielders Jonathan] Villar and [Jimmy] Paredes are good kids, Telvin Nash in left field is something special, and we got a real good look at Jordan Scott in center field. We’re awfully young and have some talent, that’s for sure.”

Free agency begins Friday. Who do you want?

Beginning Friday, the Astros and other teams can open their wallets and start signing free agents. Based on my recent conversations with owner Drayton McLane and general manager Ed Wade — particularly McLane — it doesn’t appear the Astros will be opening their wallets very far. That depends on how you look at it.

The Astros still figure to have a very competitive payroll, but they are in a tight spot. Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Kaz Matsui will make a combined $54.5 million next year, and Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn and Wandy Rodriguez are going to get large raises in arbitration. The Astros say they can’t sustain the record $107 million payroll they had last season, but bringing back all the players already under contract could bring it already into the $80 million range.

Add LaTroy Hawkins (let’s say at $5 million) and you’re sitting at about $85 million. That leaves a little wiggle room. Add Jose Valverde ($12 million?) and you’re tapped out. Neither McLane nor Wade willl say exactly what the payroll will be, but if I was forced to guess I would say in the mid-$90 million range. As you can see, that doesn’t leave much room to take any additional contracts.

So, what are the Astros’ needs? A starting pitcher. A back-of-the-bullpen reliever? A right-handed hitting third baseman? Wade seems to think a reliever is the biggest concern. There’s no doubt they need a solid starting pitcher, but this takes us back to economics. A solid starting pitcher to plug into the No. 3 spot in the rotation probably isn’t affordable.

Wade said Wednesday he and his staff have made contact with dozens of available players. He said the Astros will be aggressive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be dishing out a lot of offers.

Here’s a list of available free agents as compiled by mlbtraderumors.com (age is in parenthesis):

Catchers
Eliezer Alfonzo (31)
Brad Ausmus (41)
Paul Bako (38)
Rod Barajas (34) – Type B
Josh Bard (32)
Michael Barrett (33)
Henry Blanco (38)
Ramon Castro (34)
Chris Coste (37)
Sal Fasano (38)
Toby Hall (34)
Jason Kendall (36) – Type B
Jason LaRue (36)
Chad Moeller (35)
Bengie Molina (35) – Type A
Jose Molina (35)
Miguel Olivo (31) – Type B
Mike Redmond (39)
Ivan Rodriguez (38) – Type B
Brian Schneider (33)
Yorvit Torrealba (31) – Type B
Matt Treanor (34)
Javier Valentin (34)
Vance Wilson (37)
Gregg Zaun (39) – Type B

First basemen
Rich Aurilia (38)
Jeff Bailey (31)
Hank Blalock (29)
Russell Branyan (34)
Miguel Cairo (36)
Frank Catalanotto (36)
Tony Clark (38)
Carlos Delgado (38) – Type B
Nomar Garciaparra (36)
Ross Gload (34)
Eric Hinske (32)
Nick Johnson (31) – Type B
Adam LaRoche (30) – Type B
Doug Mientkiewicz (36)
Kevin Millar (38)
Fernando Tatis (35) – Type B
Chad Tracy (30)
Daryle Ward (35)
Dmitri Young (36)

Second basemen
Ronnie Belliard (35) – Type B
Jamey Carroll (36)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Mark DeRosa (35) – Type B
Nick Green (31)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Orlando Hudson (32) – Type A
Adam Kennedy (34)
Felipe Lopez (30) – Type B
Mark Loretta (38)
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Placido Polanco (34) – Type A
Luis Rodriguez (30)
Juan Uribe (31)

Shortstops
Eric Bruntlett (32)
Orlando Cabrera (35) – Type A, can’t be offered arbitration
Juan Castro (38)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Adam Everett (33)
Chris Gomez (39)
Alex Gonzalez (32)
Nick Green (31)
Khalil Greene (30)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
John McDonald (35)
Luis Rodriguez (30)
Marco Scutaro (34) – Type A
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A
Wilson Valdez (32)
Omar Vizquel (43)

Third basemen
Rich Aurilia (38)
Brian Barden (29)
Adrian Beltre (31) – Type B
Aaron Boone (37)
Craig Counsell (39)
Joe Crede (32)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Mark DeRosa (35) – Type B
Pedro Feliz (35)
Chone Figgins (32) – Type A
Nomar Garciaparra (36)
Troy Glaus (33) – Type B
Adam Kennedy (34)
Mike Lamb (34)
Mark Loretta (38)
Melvin Mora (38) – Type B
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Robb Quinlan (33)
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A
Juan Uribe (31)

Left fielders
Garret Anderson (38) – Type B
Marlon Anderson (36)
Jason Bay (31) – Type A
Emil Brown (35)
Marlon Byrd (32) – Type B
Johnny Damon (36) – Type A
David Dellucci (36)
Cliff Floyd (37)
Joey Gathright (28)
Matt Holliday (30) – Type A
Reed Johnson (33)
Greg Norton (37)
Wily Mo Pena (28)
Dave Roberts (38)
Gary Sheffield (41)
Fernando Tatis (35) – Type B
Marcus Thames (33)
Randy Winn (36) – Type B

Center fielders
Rick Ankiel (30)
Rocco Baldelli (28)
Marlon Byrd (32) – Type B
Mike Cameron (37) – Type B
Endy Chavez (32)
Coco Crisp (30)
Darin Erstad (36)
Jeff Fiorentino (27)
Ryan Freel (34)
Joey Gathright (28)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Reed Johnson (33)
Andruw Jones (33)
Corey Patterson (30)
Scott Podsednik (34)
DeWayne Wise (32)

Right fielders
Jermaine Dye (36) – Type A
Brian Giles (39) – Type B
Vladimir Guerrero (35) – Type B
Joey Gathright (28)
Eric Hinske (32)
Geoff Jenkins (35)
Austin Kearns (30)
Jason Michaels (34)
Xavier Nady (31) – Type B
Randy Winn (36) – Type B

Starting pitchers
Brandon Backe (32)
Cha Seung Baek (30)
Miguel Batista (39)
Erik Bedard (31) – Type B
Kris Benson (34)
Paul Byrd (39)
Daniel Cabrera (29)
Chris Capuano (31)
Aroldis Chapman (22)
Bartolo Colon (37)
Jose Contreras (38)
Doug Davis (34) – Type B
Lenny DiNardo (30)
Justin Duchscherer (32) – Type B
Adam Eaton (32)
Shawn Estes (37)
Josh Fogg (33)
Jon Garland (30) – Type B
Tom Glavine (44)
Mike Hampton (37)
Rich Harden (28) – Type B
Mark Hendrickson (36)
Livan Hernandez (35)
Rich Hill (30)
Shawn Hill (29)
Jason Jennings (31)
Jason Johnson (36)
Randy Johnson (46) – Type B
John Lackey (31) – Type A
Braden Looper (35) – Type B
Rodrigo Lopez (34)
Noah Lowry (29)
Jason Marquis (31) – Type B
Pedro Martinez (38)
Eric Milton (34)
Brett Myers (29)
Vicente Padilla (32) – Type B
Carl Pavano (34) – Type B
Brad Penny (32)
Odalis Perez (33)
Andy Pettitte (38) – Type B
Joel Pineiro (31) – Type B
Sidney Ponson (33)
Mark Prior (28)
Horacio Ramirez (30)
Jason Schmidt (37)
Ben Sheets (31)
John Smoltz (43)
Brad Thompson (28)
Brett Tomko (37)
Jarrod Washburn (35)
Todd Wellemeyer (31)
Kip Wells (33)
Randy Wolf (33) – Type A

Closers
Mike Gonzalez (32) – Type A
Kevin Gregg (32) – Type A
Fernando Rodney (33) – Type B
Rafael Soriano (30) – Type A
Jose Valverde (32) – Type A
Billy Wagner (38) – Type A

Right-handed relievers
Luis Ayala (32)
Danys Baez (32)
Joaquin Benoit (32)
Rafael Betancourt (35) – Type A
Chad Bradford (35)
Doug Brocail (43) – Type B
Kiko Calero (35) – Type B
Buddy Carlyle (32)
Chad Cordero (28)
Elmer Dessens (38)
R.A. Dickey (35)
Brendan Donnelly (38)
Octavio Dotel (36) – Type A
Kelvim Escobar (33)
Eric Gagne (34)
Geoff Geary (33)
Dan Giese (33)
Edgar Gonzalez (27)
Tom Gordon (42)
Jason Grilli (33)
LaTroy Hawkins (37) – Type A
Matt Herges (40)
Bob Howry (36) – Type B
Jason Isringhausen (37)
Jorge Julio (31)
Masahide Kobayashi (36)
Shane Loux (30)
Brandon Lyon (30) – Type B
Gary Majewski (30)
Guillermo Mota (36) – Type B
Joe Nelson (35)
Chan Ho Park (37) – Type B
Tomo Ohka (34)
Tony Pena Jr. (29)
Joel Peralta (34)
Troy Percival (40)
J.J. Putz (33)
Juan Rincon (31)
Takashi Saito (40)
Duaner Sanchez (30)
Rudy Seanez (41)
Justin Speier (36)
Russ Springer (41) – Type B
Julian Tavarez (37)
Brad Thompson (28)
Luis Vizcaino (35)
Tyler Walker (34)
David Weathers (40) – Type B
Jeff Weaver (33)
Jamey Wright (35)
Yasuhiko Yabuta (37)
Tyler Yates (32)

Left-handed relievers
Joe Beimel (32) – Type B
Bruce Chen (33)
Alan Embree (40)
Scott Eyre (38) – Type B
Casey Fossum (32)
Mike Gosling (29)
John Grabow (31) – Type A
Eddie Guardado (39)
Mark Hendrickson (36)
Ron Mahay (39)
Will Ohman (31) – Type B
Darren Oliver (39) – Type A
Horacio Ramirez (30)
Glendon Rusch (35)
Scott Schoeneweis (36)
Brian Shouse (41) – Type B
Ken Takahashi (41)
Jack Taschner (32)
Ron Villone (40)
Jamie Walker (38)

 

 

New dad Berkman out of lineup; Drayton stays optimistic

Lance Berkman, who had started 63 of the team’s first 67 games, was out of the starting lineup Tuesday against the Royals after his wife, Cara, gave birth to their couple’s fourth daugther on Monday. An off day might come to a good time for Berkman, too, considering he hit .167 (5-for-30) on the team’s nine-game road trip.

With Berkman out of the lineup, Hunter Pence was batting third with the 18th time this year.

Back to Berkman. He now has four girls, putting him on par with Geoff Blum (four girls) but one shy of Doug Brocail (five girls). Interestingly, Jeff Bagwell and Brad Ausmus had nothing but girls, too. Craig Biggio (two boys) was certainly an exception.

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Astros owner Drayton McLane (two boys, if you’re wondering) made his way around the clubhouse as he typically does before games, stopping to shake hands with the players. He also took a few moments to discuss the state of the team with reporters.

McLane is enthused the Astros have won six of seven series entering this week’s series against Kansas City.

“If you go back to 2004, we’re making the move awfully early,” McLane said. “If you remember in 2004 we were way, way down at the All-Star break and we made the playoffs and went within one game of going to the World Series, and in 2005 we were down at the break. The team is grudaally improving and has won a lot of series and wer’e going to do that against the Kansas City Royals.” 

Royals owner David Glass, who was the CEO of Wal-Mart for 27 years and is a close friend of McLane, sat with McLane in his seats behind home plate.

“We have Whataburgers bet on who wins the series,” McLane said.

McLane is optimisitc because ace Roy Oswalt (3-4) hasn’t gotten on the track, and the pitching staff has been slowed by injuries but appears to be getting healthier.

“If you asked me back in spring training, would Roy Oswalt have [three] wins at this stage and I’d say, ‘No, he’d have 8 to 10 wins at this stage,'” McLane said. “So we need Roy and his pitching and he needs run support and I think he will pitch much, much better going forward.

“Mike Hampton has had some injuries and I think he can pitch better going forward and Wandy will be more consistent. If we can get the pitching in there, the hitting will definitely be there, too. We need to get a number of the others that have been injured in there, too.

“That’s the bright light. Some of our star players haven’ t played exceptionally well and they will. It always worries you until they start clicking, but in the last two weeks you see them playing with more confidence.”

 

 

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