Results tagged ‘ Pedro Feliz ’

Astros position breakdown: third base

We close out the infield portion of out position-by-position analysis by sinking our teeth into third base, which is pretty set at this point in time:

THIRD BASE

2010 Opening Day starter: Pedro Feliz.

2010 end-of-season starter: Chris Johnson.

Others who were in the mix: Geoff Blum, Matt Downs.

Combined 2010 stats of Astros third basemen: .265 BA/.292 OBP/.392 SLG, 31 doubles, 14 homers, 80 RBIs, 25 walks, 126 strikeouts, 616 at-bats.

Free agents: Geoff Blum (option declined).

Arbitration eligible: None.

What happened: The Astros signed Pedro Feliz to a one-year, $4.5-million contract at last year’s Winter Meetings with the hopes he could add some muscle to their offense and be a run-producer while playing a steady third base. Feliz did neither. He scuffled defensively and never got going with the bat, hitting .221 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 97 games before the Astros benched him in June and handed the starting job to rookie Chris Johnson.

Johnson, who made his Major League debut at the end of 2009 and played sparingly, had a tremendous spring and made the Opening Day roster, thanks in part to an injury Lance Berkman. That’s because Feliz saw time at first base against left-handers with Berkman out, allowing Johnson to make some starts at third. But Johnson’s season was quickly derailed when he went on the 15-day disabled list April 20 with a right intercostal strain.

When Johnson was healthy, Berkman was back in the lineup for the Astros and they had no room on the roster for him. He went to Triple-A Round Rock and hit .329/.362/.570 with eight homers and 33 RBIs before the Astros called him up.

Although he got a late start, Johnson went on to make a run at National League Rookie of the Year, hitting, .308/.337/.481 with 11 homers and 52 RBIS in 94 games. He led all Major League rookies with a .308 batting average (minimum 300 at-bats) and hit .316 after the All-Star break with 11 homers and 44 RBIs. He struggled at times defensively, committing 18 errors for a .908 fielding percentage, but the Astros are confident he will continue to improve with the glove.

What’s next: Johnson is the man of the moment. He’s penciled in as the starter next year with the expectation he’ll continue to improve as a run producer and a defensive player. The Astros will be in the market this winter for a utility player that can play third base when Johnson needs a day off, but if he’s healthy expect C.J. to make at least 150 starts for the Astros in 2011.

Who’s on the farm: The Astros’ top two third base prospects are in the lower Minor Leagues: Jonathan Meyer and Mike Kvasnicka. Meyer, a third-round pick in 2009, hit .245/.304/.317 with two homers and 49 RBIs last season in 121 games at Class A Lexington in his first full season in pro ball.  Kvasnicka was taken with the 33rd overall pick this year and hit .234/.305/.337 with five homers and 36 RBIs in 68 games at short-season Tri-City. Kvasnicka, out of the University of Minnesota, has played third, the outfield and caught, but his future is at third base.

Manzella on way to Houston as trade winds blow

Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella is on his way to Houston following a rehab stint at Triple-A Round Rock, but it remains to be seen when he will be activated and what corresponding roster move might be made by the club.

Manzella, out two months with a fractured finger, hit .366 with one homer and five RBIs in 11 games combined between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock. He’ll arrive in Houston today along with left-hander Fernando Abad, who was recalled following Wednesday’s game when Matt Lindstrom was put on the disabled list.

The Astros close out a 10-game home stand tonight against the Mets before leaving on a 10-game road trip that begins Friday night in Miami against Florida and it appears Manzella will be making the trip.

Houston has informed other clubs that veteran infielder Geoff Blum and third baseman Pedro Feliz could be had in trades, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Cardinals have had some contact with the Astros about acquiring Blum, but there is nothing serious in the works.

Feliz, who has been a bust after a signing a one-year, $4.5-million deal, could be a fit for the Braves, who have also been in touch with the Astros and are searching for help at third base in the wake of Chipper Jones’ season-ending knee injury.

Feliz is hitting .221 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 289 at-bats and lost his starting to job to rookie Chris Johnson in July.

Manzella could also be used as insurance if the Astros decide they need to put starting second baseman Jeff Keppinger on the disabled list. He’s missed the last two games with a sprained left big toe, but is listed as day-to-day.

Blum has been starting at second in place of Keppinger and hit a game-tying homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, but moving him without a healthy Keppinger would leave the Astros without a second baseman.

Day 17: Astros play best game of spring to beat Mets

The Astros played their most complete game of the spring Tuesday in beating the New York Mets 8-4 in Port St. Lucie. They had 13 hits, didn’t commit an error, turned three double plays and stole three bases. And they did it without Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence, who didn’t make the trip to Kissimmee.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Where to begin? Let’s start with the defense, which was superb. The Astros turned three double plays, including a nice 1-6-3 double play started by pitcher Brett Myers in the third. Pedro Feliz made a sparkling diving stop and threw out Jeff Francouer in the second, and Jason Michaels made a pair of terrific catches in left field in the fifth.

On the first catch, he made a run to his right and tumbled after caching Francouer’s fly ball. Two batters later, he made a long run into the Mets bullpen and made a sliding catch at the wall, all the while avoiding the extra pitchers and while garden chairs that were in his way.

“I’m going over there and out of the corner of my eye see these guys moving these chairs and I say, ‘This ought to be good.’ So I said ‘Let me just slide here,'” Michaels said. “I’m not going to go into the wall, but I slid and ended up surprisingly catching it.”

The Astros scored three in the first off Johan Santana, including a solo homer by Kaz Matsui, who went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks. First baseman Geoff Blum was 4-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, and Feliz was 2-for-3. Catcher Jason Castro came off the bench and was 2-for-2 with a well-struck double over the head of the center fielder.

Myers, making his second start in Grapefruit League play, gave up two runs and four hits in three innings, and reliever Matt Lindstrom breezed through two innings and struck out one batter. Shane Loux and Sammy Gervacio also had scoreless innings.

Myers gave up a two-run homer to David Wright in the first, but he was happy with the way he was able to keep the ball down. He gave up singles in the second and third but got inning-ending double plays both times.

“The first inning I struggled a little bit making an adjustment to the mound and things me and Arnie worked on in the bullpen,” Myers said. “You go from different mound to different mound, and it just took me a little bit longer to make an adjustment. I was able to make the adjustment and it was great. I made some good pitches. The one David Wright hit was down and he put a good swing on it.”

Michael Bourn stole second and third in the second, and Chris Shelton stole second in the third.

The bad: Not much really on the field, but there is a new injury concern. Reliever Alberto Arias was pulled after facing two batters and giving up a homer and a walk. Arias was diagnosed with a mild strain of his upper back and will be examined perhaps as early as Wednesday.

“It felt it before today, but I felt it more on my first pitch of the game,” Arias said.

Mills didn’t want to take any chances.

“He’s had it kind of bothering him,” he said. “They said it was feeling pretty well. He said he could have pitched out there, but what was coming out we didn’t think it would be safe. The doctor’s going to take a look at him and we’ll go from there.”

What they said: “It was a very well-played game. We made some pitches when we had to and the guys swing the bats, we ran the bases and we made some big plays on the double plays. It’s fun to see a game played like that and the guys are rewarded for their efforts. The hitting is going to come. We can look at that as we’ve got a good ballclub and these guys can swing the bat, but it was things like the base running that was good today, the defensive plays were outstanding, the extra effort. They did a super job.” - manager Brad Mills.

What’s next: The Astros return to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Florida Marlins on Wednesday at 12:05 p.m. Central. Wandy Rodriguez will make his second start of the spring, and will be followed by Felipe Paulino. Both are expected to pitch three innings. Henry Villar, Fernando Abad, Roy Corcoran, Gary Majewski and Casey Daigle are also scheduled to pitch.

Astro-notes: General manager Ed Wade said right-hander Brandon Lyon, who hasn’t faced a hitter this spring after getting a cyst on his shoulder drained, will throw his third bullpen session in five days on Wednesday. If all goes well, he could pitch live batting practice on Friday. … Polin Trinidad, Evan Englebrook and Jose Valdez each threw a scoreless inning in a Minor League mini camp game on Tuesday against Detroit in Kissimmee. … Minor League first baseman Koby Clemens made the trip to Port St. Lucie with the Major League club to Spring Training and went 0-for-1 as a late-inning replacement. His father, Roger Clemens, was spotted in the stands along the right-field line.

Which players are you most excited about seeing this spring?

I’m back in town, but still on vacation technically until Thursday. In the meantime, Spring Training is casting a rather large shadow over me and everyone else who’s going to be in Florida in a little more than two weeks, so it’s time to look ahead. No more mention of Miguel Tejada or Jose Valverde.

The Astros figure to have several intriguing storylines this spring, from a new manager in Brad Mills and several new members of the coaching staff, to key new faces in Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom, Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz. Then there’s younger players that are expected to make an impact, including a pair of rookies who could start: shortstop Tommy Manzella and catcher Jason Castro.

There are other interesting players who aren’t going to make headlines at camp: Chia-Jen Lo, Fernando Abad, Gary Majewski, Cory Sullivan, Jason Bourgeois, etc. I am going to be tracking the progress of all, but I am most intrigued by Manzella and Castro, and that’s simply because they could play huge roles. In fact, the club is banking on Manzella to do just that in April and Castro at some point this year to be a factor.

Which players are you, the fans, most excited about seeing?

Great day for Astros

Can you imagine how different the Astros’ winter would have been had Jose Valverde accepted arbitration and LaTroy Hawkins accepted their contract offer? The Astros would have liked to have been able to bring Hawkins back and took a huge risk by offering arbitration to Valverde, but the departure of both opened doors and wallets.

Astros general manager Ed Wade signed Brandon Lyon, Pedro Feliz and Brett Myers, traded for Matt Lindstrom and picked up two draft picks, including a first-round pick. Things couldn’t have worked out much better for the Astros, who would have been hamstrung had Valverde accepted arbitration.

Valverde winds up not making as much in 2010 as he would have with the Astros, but he got the comfort of a two-year deal with an option. The Astros got what they wanted, too, and even more. With Spring Training around the corner, the Astros are hitting the finish line of the Hot Stove season with a smile on their faces.

“I thought we entered into the Valverde situation in a win-win situation,” Wade said. “If he had accepted arbitration, we would have ended up with the best free-agent closer on the market. As it turned out, we were able to satisfy the back end of the bullpen with Lyon and Lindstrom and to score draft picks, particularly a first-round draft pick, is very satisfying.

“I like what he did for us and we would have loved to have him back, but at end of the day we have to look at end results and we felt that being able to add two additional draft picks in 2010 is a pretty favorable conclusion for us.”

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