Results tagged ‘ Ed Wade ’

Astros Winter Meetings notes

One thing the Astros aren’t going to be willing to do is trade away any of their top prospects. That’s not surprising considering how much of a commitment the club has made in the last three years to try to replenish its farm system through the draft and player development.

“Generally speaking, we’re going to be very, very reluctant to talk about the young players in our system,” general manager Ed Wade said. “We’ve spent a lot of years now waiting for a group of some substance to show up, and they just don’t show up. It’s a lot of hard work on the part of the scouts and the development guys, and we’re beginning to get there at this point.

“You can’t shortcut the process. We need to be patient with those guys, and being patient with them we have to be reluctant to move them because it doesn’t take a lot of moves to have it turn our poorly.”

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The longer the Winter Meetings drag on, the less convinced I am the Astros will make any deals. Sure, that’s an easy assessment to make, but based on conversations with some in the organization, I feel there’s a decent chance Brian Bogusevic will be the club’s left fielder in a platoon situation with Jason Michaels in the event Carlos Lee is at first base.

“I think we could go to war with the players we have right now and not have to make any adjustments on our payroll, but at the same time it makes sense for us to be open-minded with regard to the structure of our club now because we may be able to free up additional payroll to do something that makes us better,” Wade said.

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Pat Gillick, the former general manager of the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, gave some credit to Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith upon learning Monday he was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“He was the biggest influence on me,” Gillick said.

Smith and Gillick go back to their days with the Colt .45’s, when Paul Richards and Eddie Robinson brought Gillick to Houston. Smith was in charge of scouting and player development, and Gillick worked for him as a regional scouting director. Gillick followed Smith to he Yankees and two years later joined the Blue Jays.

The two men are so close they’ve often vacationed together in locations as such Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

“He’s a very dear friend and we’ve stayed in touch in all his career moves,” Smith said. “He’s a superb guy. It’s a great honor and very deserving. Pat has done a lot of things. He’s been successful with the club he’s put together and had a great reliance on scouting, probably more so than anybody else in the game.

“The thing that separates him is the way he treats and deals with people. He makes everybody feel pretty good and that really inspires them. He works very hard himself and he expects other people to do so. He treats them well and creates a so-called baseball family. I think the results speak for themselves.”

Smith plans to be in Cooperstown, N.Y., when Gillick is inducted next year. That will mark only the third Hall of Fame induction ceremony Smith has attended. The others are Nolan Ryan and former Astros broadcaster Gene Elston.

If you remember, when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Gillick immediately credited Wade for helping put that club together.

 

Astros make tender decisions

Right-hander Sammy Gervacio, who missed most of last season with right rotator cuff inflammation, was the only unsigned player on the 40-man roster the Astros chose not to tender a contract to prior to Thursday’s deadline to do so.

The move reduces Houston’s 40-man roster to 36 and makes Gervacio a free agent and able to sign with any team, but general manager Ed Wade said the club will attempt to re-sign him at some point. The shoulder ailments limited the side-armed Gervacio to just 13 combined relief appearances last season between Triple-A Round Rock and the Astros.

“It’s really a move of economics more than anything because of the uncertainty of his status going into Spring Training,” Wade said. “Had he been injured coming into Spring Training and unable to perform, we would have had to carry him on the Major League disabled list.

“While we’re protecting ourselves with respect to the tender, we still want Sammy to be part of our picture going forward.”

Gervacio, who went 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 29 games in his Major League debut in 2009, is still dealing with shoulder discomfort despite not pitching in a game since May 3. He made $403,000 last season, which is slightly above the league minimum.

“We’re going to have to be cautious how we bring him along,” Wade said.

Wade said the club never entertained the possibility of non-tendering pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger and outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, all of whom are arbitration eligible and figure to play a key role in 2011.

“All of those players have value and will be counted on in some fashion going forward,” Wade said.

Keppinger ($1.15 million salary in 2010), Bourn ($2.4 million), Pence ($3.5 million) and Lindstrom ($1.625 million) are in their second year of arbitration eligibility and Rodriguez ($5 million) and Barmes ($3.25 million) are in their third and final year.

Earlier this week, the Astros agreed to terms on one-year contracts with right-handed pitcher Nelson Figueroa ($900,000) and catcher Humberto Quintero ($1 million), thus avoiding arbitration with both players. Right-handed pitchers Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers and outfielders Carlos Lee and Jason Michaels are also all signed through 2011 or beyond.

Wade explains Astros roster moves

With the deadline to tender contracts to players eligible for salary approaching quickly approaching, the Astros on Wednesday outrighted left-handers Tim Byrdak and Gustavo Chacin, removing them from the 40-man roster.

The Astros also outrighted right-handed Minor League pitcher Matt Nevarez, who will be placed on the roster at Triple-A Oklahoma City, and signed catcher Carlos Corporan to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Byrdak and Chacin can elect to become free agents. The moves leaves the Astros’ 40-man roster at 37.

“Basically, these moves were economically driven,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We’re trying to get our payroll numbers where they need to be, and with 10 arbitration-eligible players we had to pick and choose amongst those guys.

“In the case of Byrdak and Chacin, they weren’t easy decisions to make, but we felt with the arbitration status that it was a direction we had to go in. I spoke to Tim [on Wednesday] and indicated to him that he should go ahead and see what might be available, but we can continue to have dialogue.”

Byrdak made $1.6 million last season and would have seen his salary rise to around $2 million in arbitration, which is a hefty price for a left-handed specialist. Byrdak, 37, went 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 64 games for the Astros last season, holding lefties to a .213 batting average.

Left-hander Fernando Abad, who had a 2.84 ERA in 22 appearances in his rookie season in 2010, is in the mix to assume the role of lefty specialist, though there are some in the organization that envision him as a possible starter. Wade will continue to explore other options via free agency or trade as well.

“Fernando’s role and where he ends up will be determined when we go to Spring Training,” Wade said. “We have a lot of time between now and then to try to figure out what we want to do from the left side. We still have Wesley Wright, and we’ve expressed interest in other left-handers that might be out there and fit what we’re trying to do.”

Chacin, 30, went 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA in 44 appearances with the Astros last season after signing as a Minor League free agent. Nevarez, 23, spent last season at Double-A Corpus Christ, where he was 2-1 with one save and a 3.76 ERA in 36 games. He’s now eligible to be taken in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

The moves leave the Astros with eight remaining arbitration-eligible players ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline to tender contracts to those players: pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger, catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.

“The time and circumstances made sense for us to go ahead and create roster space prior to the tender deadline,” Wade said.

Corporan, 26, played for Triple-A Reno in the Arizona organization last season and hit .290 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. The switch-hitting catcher hit .342 against lefties, while appearing in 87 games in 2010, including 78 behind the plate.

A native of Puerto Rico, Corporan is currently playing for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he is hitting .279 with 10 RBIs in 17 games. Corporan becomes the club’s ninth non-roster invitee.

“Our scouts had good reports on him,” Wade said. “He has pretty good numbers, and he gives us that protection at Triple-A if something were to occur at the big-league level.”

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.”

Astros will explore Loux

The Astros will explore the possibility of signing Barret Loux, who was declared a free agent today by Commissioner Bud Selig. Loux was taken No. 6 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in this June’s First-Year Player Draft, but failed a failed a physical.

“We got notification from the Commissioner’s Office that the contract was voided and he’s a free agent, and we’ll do our due diligence and look into what was involved and the circumstances to led to free agency and go from there,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We just now go the information and we’re trying to sort through the next step.”

Loux will be free to sign with any team on Sept. 1, and Arizona will receive a supplemental pick in the 2011 Draft. According to reports, the Diamondbacks backed out of a multi-million dollar agreement with Loux when a physical revealed are problems.

Loux was 11-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 17 games this year with the Aggies.

Free agency could be reality for Berkman

Considering the struggles he’s had at the plate this season, Astros slugger Lance Berkman said Tuesday it wouldn’t surprise him if the club decided not to pick up his option for 2011 and allowed him to become a free agent.

Berkman, who entered Tuesday hitting .250 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs, stands to make $15 million next season if the Astros pick up the option. If they decide to not pick it up, they’ll pay him a $2 million buyout.

“I don’t get any indication they are going to pick it up,” Berkman said. “I think the chances are that I probably will be a free agent at the end of the year. It’s not concerning, but it’s certainly a position I’ve never been in before in my career.”

Astros general manager Ed Wade said he has informed Berkman’s agent, Mike Moye, no decision on Berkman’s option would be made until the off-season. Berkman would like to remain in Houston and hopes the club will chalk up his struggles to missing most of Spring Training and the first two weeks of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery.

“There were some extenuating circumstances where they may feel like I’m not a declining player, but just some circumstances that have kept me from performing the way I’m used to performing,” Berkman said. “It’s all in their court. That’s the power of a team option.

“They can make that determination. They haven’t given me any indication one way or another what they were thinking as far picking it up or not picking it up, but if I’m just sitting here looking at what I’m seeing and knowing the kind of year I’ve had, I would say they probably won’t pick it up, but I don’t know that for sure.”

Can one win mark a turnaround?

Maybe Sunday’s come-from-behind walk-off win over the Padres is the one that will get the Astros going. At 10-21, they need something, anything to help them get on track. Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman – who were a combined .199 for the season prior to Sunday – came alive and went a combined 7-for-14 with two homers. It was like the old days, when opposing pitchers had trouble getting through the heart of the Astros’ order.

The task gets tougher for the Astros, though. They open an eight-game road trip Tuesday night in St. Louis, a place where they just haven’t played well since winning the NLCS in 2005. From there, they go to San Francisco – which has already swept the Astros – and close out with two games in Los Angeles, which is another place they don’t play well.

Astros general manager Ed Wade admitted before Sunday’s game his team’s offensive struggles were baffling.

“Is there some avenue, some solution, we haven’t tried yet short of something drastic, which you don’t try to do at this point in the season? No,” Wade said. “There’s no one ready down in Triple-A to come up and be a three-, four-, five-hole hitter, and not a lot is available on the market, and the ones that are available right now you can line up your five or six top prospects and take a run at them. We’ve got to live through this.”

Meanwhile, Astros manager Brad Mills admitted he’s had trouble sleeping the last few weeks because of the team’s troubles. What’s the solution? “I’ve tried Excedrin PM, Tylenol PM, NyQuil and now Sleepytime Tea.”

Mills may have trouble sleeping, but he’s certainly not giving up on his players. He had a team meeting near the start of the season to tell the guys he wasn’t going to give up on them and not to quit working hard.
 
“That’s what I want these guys to understand,” he said. “We just have to keep working and never give up. They’ve been working and doing things. Are they working too hard at times? That’s in the process, where you struggle, you work to get out of it at the end.”

Bagwell fond of Bud Norris

Astros icon Jeff Bagwell, who is a special assistant to the general manager as well as a television analyst for Saturday home games, has had a chance to see several of the up-and-coming players in the Minor Leagues the last few years. And Bagwell likes what he has seen from Bud Norris, who won a spot in the Astros’ rotation this year but was roughed up in his debut Friday.

“I expect a lot from Bud Norris,” Bagwell said. “Bud has great stuff, he’s got a personality that maybe even his teammates don’t like. But I love him. Anybody that really loves baseball would love it. Bud is off the wall. He’s not arrogant, but he believes in his ability and he’s got tons of ability.

“He’s got a chance to be in our organization pitching first or second in the rotation for years to come, and so I’m excited about that. I truly love him, and I think he’s going to do great. I really do. That’s a nice thing for us for the future.”

Bagwell said developing pitching is crucial these days considering how expensive pitchers are on the open market.

“I remember back in 2001 our young kids coming up, we had Roy [Oswalt], Wade [Miller], Carlos [Hernandez] and Tim [Redding], and I remember sitting here talking to [Craig Biggio] and saying we have a chance to be good for while,” Bagwell said. “In today’s game it’s very hard to go out and pay for pitching because pitching costs so much money. You can get a 10-10 guy and you have to pay him $11 million and he has an ERA of 4.50. If we develop our own guys, we have time to keep them in our own nest.”

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Here’s what Astros general manager Ed Wade had to say Saturday afternoon about the club’s 0-4 start:

“You’ve got to come out and play,” Wade said. “We’ve got a good ballclub and I know the guys that are struggling right now are going to hit. It’s not seven rookies we’re counting on to come through. There are guys with some pretty good track records who are struggling right now, so it’s an adjustment they’re able to make on their own, but part of it is breathing through your eyes and relaxing and let it flow.

“As opportunities present themselves and guys are struggling, as is usually the case people begin to press a little bit and it becomes, ‘Are we going to win a game before we leave town? Are we going to win tonight?’ They’re hearing it at the grocery story and every place else they go, and it’s human nature to press a little bit.

“They just have to prepare and play, and that’s normally what they’ve done every game I’ve been around these guys. They prepare well and put their best foot forward.”

 

Sunday morning Astros update

I’m back from a respite in Houston and am in Kissimmee for the rest of the spring, so expect frequent updates. Anyway, I’ll have a story later today on the rash of injuries that’s taken over the club the last few days, but here’s a quick rundown:

  • 1B Lance Berkman had fluid drained from his knee Saturday, one week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean out some loose cartilage. Berkman is walking with a limp and is still sore, but he’s not ruling out returning by Opening Day.
  • RHP Alberto Arias will undergo a precautionary MRI on Monday. Arias has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain and has lost some velocity on his fastball. The Astros want to get a better look at the shoulder to find out what’s going on.
  • SS Tommy Manzella, who was diagnosed with a strained quad, is out of baseball drills again today. Manzella said he’s going to take it slow and will be out a few days. General manager Ed Wade told him Sunday morning he didn’t want him to be “Braveheart.”
  • CF Michael Bourn was held out of Sunday’s game because of a strained oblique. Bourn said he was sore, and he did do some bunting in the batting cage. He’s listed as day-to-day, but Wade said he won’t play until he’s 100 percent.
  • RF Yorman Bazardo, who strained his shoulder a week ago, has been throwing on the side while the training staff works to improve his range of motion.

 

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