Results tagged ‘ Roy Oswalt ’

Berkman a happy man

I had a chance to catch up with former Astros slugger Lance Berkman in the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park, trying to dodge the champagne and beer as best as possible. Berkman was beaming after the Cardinals had just clinched the National League Wild Card.

“It’s just great,” he said. “It’s exciting. Any time you get a chance to play for a championship, that’s all you can ask for as a player.”

What a week it’s been for Berkman. He signed a one-year, $12-million contract extension with the Cardinals only a few days ago and then came to his hometown of Houston and helped the Cardinals take two of three games from the Astros to run down the Braves.

“This year has been pretty special in a lot of ways, and certainly this is a great way to cap it off,” he said.

Now the Cardinals and Berkman will get to face the Phillies in the National League Division Series beginning Saturday in Philadelphia. The Phillies, of course, feature three of Berkman’s former teammates – Hunter Pence, Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt.

“If you could round up all the ex-Astros you’d have a pretty good team,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge to play those guys. They have a great team, the best team in baseball this year. So we’ll see what happens.”

Oswalt, Pence return. Will you cheer or boo?

For the first time since they were traded to the Phillies, pitcher Roy Oswalt and right fielder Hunter Pence return to Minute Maid Park for tonight’s game against the Astros. Oswalt has been with the Phillies for more than a year, but this will be his first trip to Houston in those red shoes. Pence was traded just a few weeks ago and is flourishing with the best team in baseball.

Oswalt, who left in Houston one win shy of tying the franchise record for wins, asked Astros management for a trade last year when he didn’t like the direction the club was headed. Pence certainly didn’t ask for a trade, but the Astros were in payroll-trimming mode and were able to land some of the Phillies top prospects in exchange for the high-flying outfielder.

Earlier this year when Lance Berkman made his return to Minute Maid Park with the Cardinals, he received a nice ovation. Not surprising, since he’s one of the most popular players in franchise history. Pence and Oswalt are in the same category. But Astros fans haven’t always been so kind to those who have returned in different uniforms.

Carlos Beltran, who spent only four months in Houston and had a legendary performance in the 2004 playoffs, still gets booed six years after he shunned the Astros and signed a big-money deal with the Mets. Brad Lidge, the closer during the terrific playoff seasons in 2004 and 2005, still gets booed as well, which is a little strange. I’m guessing it has to do with giving up his homer to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS than it does anything else. Lidge was a model citizen and good player in Houston.

So, what will be it be, Astros fans? Boos or cheers for Oswalt and Pence?

Astros position breakdown: starting pitcher

Here is the second-to-last installment of our Astros’ position-by-position breakdown. The Astros had a decent starting rotation last year, with the ability to be pretty good next season. Here’s a look at the starting staff:

STARTING PITCHING

2010 rotation to begin season: Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino.

2010 end-of-season rotation: Brett Myers, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ, Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa.

Others who made a start: Felipe Paulino, Brian Moehler, Wesley Wright, Josh Banks.

Combined 2010 stats of Astros starting pitchers: 52-63, 3.90 ERA (seventh-best in NL), 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, 857 strikeouts (second in NL), 380 walks (most in NL).

Free agents: Brian Moehler.

Arbitration eligible: Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa, Felipe Paulino.

What happened: The Astros signed Brett Myers late last winter to help legitimize a rotation that included Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino. Oswalt got off to a strong start, but once again suffered poor run support and began grumbling about wanting to be traded, which he eventually was. Rodriguez, coming off a breakout season, stumbled badly out of the gate as the losses piled up for the Astros. Norris got better as the season progressed and finished strong, and Paulino had a brief stretch of dominance before an injury ended his season.

Oswalt made 20 starts with the Astros before being traded and was 6-12, but had a respectable 3.42 ERA. With the team slipping out of contention, he told the Astros in May he wanted to be traded. The club granted his wish in July and sent him to the Phillies in a blockbuster deal in which the team got J.A. Happ in return. Oswalt, who finished one win shy of tying Joe Niekro’s club record, was terrific in Philadelphia, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts.

Rodriguez, the team’s Pitcher of the Year in 2009, was terrible to begin the season. He went 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA in his first 14 starts (the team was 4-10 in those starts) before rallying in the second half. He went 8-2 in his final 18 starts and posted a 2.03 ERA, which was the second-best NL in the ERA in that span. He finished the season with 13 consecutive quality starts, the fourth-longest such streak in franchise history, to finish 11-13 with a 3.60 ERA.

Myers, who signed for a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $5.1 million, proved to be one of the best free-agent signings of the season. He went 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA and pitched a career-high 223 2/3 innings, leading the team in wins and ERA by a starter. Myers threw at least six innings in his first 32 starts of the season before coming up one out shy of being able to make it 33-for-33 in his final start of the year. He parlayed the strong season into a three-year contract extension.

Norris, who had only 10 starts under his belt beginning the year, stayed in the rotation all season, missing about a month in June with bursitis and biceps tendinitis. He was 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA in his first 14 starts of the year. He was 7-3 with a 3.84 ERA in his final 14 starts to finish 9-10 with a 4.92 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out a Minute Maid Park-record 14 against the Pirates on Aug. 14.

Paulino didn’t win a game until his 11th start of the season. He was 0-7 with a 4.40 ERA in his first 10 starts and was the victim of poor run support. He finally broke through June 4 against the Cubs, allowing one run in eight innings. In a five-start stretch from May 19-June 9, he was 1-1 with a 1.75 ERA. Paulino went on the DL on June 21 and missed nearly three months with right shoulder tendinitis. He made five relief appearances in September and wound up finishing 1-9 with a 5.11 ERA in 19 games (14 starts).

Happ, acquired in the Oswalt trade, made 13 starts for the Astros and was 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA. He was winless in his final five starts, going 0-2 with a 4.81 ERA.

The Astros claimed Nelson Figueroa off waivers in the middle of the season and he wound up in the rotation, going 5-3 with a 5.22 ERA in 18 games, including 4-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 10 starts. Veteran Brian Moehler made eight starts for the Astros (and 12 relief appearances) before his season ended in early July with a left groin strain that eventually required surgery. Left-hander Wesley Wright made four starts, and Josh Banks came up from the Minor Leagues to make one start.

What’s next: The Astros are content with the top of their rotation, especially if Myers pitches like he did last season and Rodriguez continues his second-half dominance. Happ is a steady left-hander who should be able to eat up innings and keep the Astros in games if he remains healthy. The Astros were pleased with the progress of Norris and are content with him opening next season as their No. 4 starter.

The biggest question is who’s going to be the fifth starter? Paulino and Figueroa will be given a look, unless the Astros are able to acquire another pitcher in the offseason. The Astros will try to sign a low-cost veteran like they did last offseason with Myers and hope they have similar results. If not, Paulino, Figueroa and prospect Jordan Lyles will battle for a spot in the rotation next spring.

Who’s on the farm: Lyles, the team’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, is only 19 and has a world of potential. He posted a 7-12 record and a 3.57 ERA in 27 games, 26 starts, between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Lyles spent the majority of his season with Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 7-9 record and a 3.12 ERA in 21 games, 20 starts. Douglas Arguello (7-5, 2.55 ERA) had a solid season at Double-A Corpus Christi. Kyle Greenwalt (8-7, 5.93 ERA), Brad Dydalewicz (1-6, 11.39 ERA), Dallas Keuchel (5-8, 3.36 ERA) and Ross Seaton (6-13, 6.64 ERA) had varying degrees of success at Double-A. Mike Foltynewicz, a first-round pick this year, and right-hander Tanner Bushue have world of potential, but aren’t quite ready yet.

 

Never-say-die Astros do it again

Say what you will about the Astros, but their play during the month of August has been quite impressive. Credit goes to manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff for getting the most out of their players. Carlos Lee has raised his game to another level since Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman got traded, and young guys are stepping up. They’re hungry for jobs and ready to prove themselves.

Tuesday night’s 16-inning win over Phillies featured so many heroes it would be difficult to single them all out. The bullpen threw seven scoreless innings, with Fernando Abad and Jeff Fulchino throwing two innings each and Mark Melancon gutting his way through three innings on a night when overworked Brandon Lyon wasn’t available.

There was the hustle of Tommy Manzella, who made two terrific plays to rob Carlos Ruiz of hits in the ninth and 11th innings and then hustled down the line in the 16th to beat the throw at first and allow the Astros to push another run across the plate.

There was Chris Johnson banging out four hits in six at-bats, including the game-winner in the 16th, to raise his batting average to .340. There was catcher Jason Castro staying in the game in 13th after he was struck by a ball and dropped to the dirt. Not that Castro had much of a choice considering the Astros used all of their players.

In the last two weeks, the Astros have shown an uncanny ability to come back late in games, which is the kind of stuff young teams normally don’t do. It’s just enough to give you hope that Mill has this team heading in the right direction.

Here are some notes from Tuesday’s marathon game:

  • Game time was 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • The teams combined to use 43 players and throw 533 pitches
  • Bud Norris allowed one run in six innings and has a 3.03 ERA in his last six starts
  • It was the longest game for the Astros since a 16-inning loss in Atlanta on July 6, 2008. That game also featured a long rain delay
  • The Astros are 7-4 in extra innings
  • The Asros are 14-7 all-time at Citizens Bank Park, the best record by an opposing team
  • Wilton Lopez’s career-best scoreless streak ended at 20 innings when he allowed a homer to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning.
  • Tim Byrdak has 10 consecutive scoreless appearances under his belt and has posted a 0.93 ERA in his last 30 games.
  • Mark Melancon (three) and Fernando Abad (two) set career highs in innings pitched
  • The only players not on the disabled list who didn’t play for the Astros were starting pitchers Nelson Figueroa, J.A. Happ and Brett Myers and reliever Brandon Lyon, who has been used a bunch lately.

Oswalt happy for Berkman

Roy Oswalt, who fell to 6-13 after losing his Phillies debut on Friday, was excited to hear long-time friend and Astros teammate Lance Berkman was being sent to the Yankees in a trade that is expected to be announced Saturday.

“I think it will be good for him,” he said. “Sometimes you get a change of scenery, it turns you all the way around. Sometimes you get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over. I think it will be great for him to get back in a pennant race and feel the excitement of it. In ’04 and ’05 when we made up all that ground and got to go to the World Series, that’s where the real baseball is.”

So what about the prospect of Oswalt’s Phillies and Berkman’s Yankees facing off in the playoffs?

“He was actually the first person I called when I got traded,” Oswalt said. “He was saying the worst part was going to be facing me. I’ve been watching him for 10 years, so I kind of know where to throw him.

 

Are the Astros done dealing?

Are the Astros done dealing? It’s likely, but you can rest assured general manager Ed Wade will be exploring many options up until Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline. Lance Berkman said Thursday night the club had not approached him about a deal, and I’d be really surprised if he gets traded at some point soon.

It’s been reported Brett Myers is untouchable, but Jeff Keppinger‘s name has been thrown around in some rumors.

“We’ll stay actively engaged in conversations right up until 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon and beyond,” Wade said. “This is is a deadline where we can trade players without securing waivers. That doesn’t mean that every player gets claimed on waivers after the fact. We’ll try to get as many players as we can through the waiver system, and if opportunities present themselves btewen now and Saturday afternoon and thereafter, we’ll continue to work that and see where it leads.”

Oswalt reacts to trade

Roy Oswalt went to an empty clubhouse at Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon and cleaned out his locker. He was scheduled to fly to Philadelphia later in the day to start a new life with a new team. Oswalt will start for the two-time defending NL championship Phillies on Friday night against the Washington Nationals.

“It’s exciting for sure,” Oswalt told MLB.com. “I think it works out for both of us. Houston’s getting good prospects and another pitcher, and I’m getting to go to a great team. I’m happy for both sides. From the very beginning, I said I wouldn’t accept it unless it worked out for both of us, and I think it worked out.”

Oswalt said leaving Houston was hard.

“I think probably the toughest part was packing up my locker, for sure, knowing I started here and have to leave now,” Oswalt said. “Just like I said, it’s going to be good for the organization, and I think it will be good for me, too. The organization has been great to me, and I hope they get back in it and get back to the playoffs real soon.”

When the deal was done, Oswalt called longtime teammate Lance Berkman, who along with Wandy Rodriguez are the only remaining players from the 2005 World Series team, and said his goodbyes. He telephoned former teammate Brad Lidge on Thursday night to gauge the atmosphere in Philadelphia.

“You’ve pretty much got an All-Star at every position,” Oswalt said. “They have a real good team as far as a union. I talked to Brad Lidge last night about the clubhouse and he likes it a lot up there with guys like Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino and some other great guys. Overall, it came down to Houston getting something for me and I was getting to go to a contender.”

Oswalt, 32, was drafted in the 23rd round by the Astros in 1996 and reached the Majors five years later, going 14-3 in his rookie season. He posted back-to-back 20-wins seasons in 2004 and 2005 to lead the Astros to the NLCS in 2004 and World Series in 2005. Oswalt held the Cardinals to one run and five hits in seven innings to win Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS en route to being named the NLCS Most Valuable Player.

He was 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA this year and had some of the worst run support in the league, which played into his decision to request a trade. He is second on the Astros’ all-time wins list with 143, just one behind Joe Niekro.

“I wish the best for the organization,” Oswalt said. “The fans have been behind me for 10 years. There are no hard feelings on my side. Houston has done everything I’ve asked, and I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me. I’m hoping to have a chance to pitch in the playoffs and the World Series. I’m hoping to get back there and experience again what we did in ’05.”

 

Oswalt approves deal, headed to Phillies

Roy Oswalt, arguably the greatest pitcher to wear an Astros uniform, is headed to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Oswalt told the Astros on Thursday afternoon he would waive his no-trade clause in order to approve a trade to the two-time defending National League champions, a person close to the negotiations told MLB.com. The two sides were working the finalize and the deal, which is expected to be announced today.

The Astros and Phillies reached a deal Wednesday night to send Oswalt to the Phillies if the pitcher agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ and Minor League outfielder Anthony Gose and Minor League shortstop Jonathan Villar are headed to the Astros, who are also expected to pay a portion of Oswalt’s contract.

When reached by MLB.com earlier Thursday afternoon, Oswalt said he hadn’t made a decision.

“No news yet,” he said.

Oswalt is owed about $5 million more this year and is due to make $16 million next season in the last year of his contract, but there’s a club option for 2012 that would pay him another $16 million. He said last week the option wouldn’t be an issue when it came to approving a trade.

Oswalt (6-12, 3.42 ERA) was scheduled to pitch Friday in an attempt to tie the club’s all-time wins record of 143. The late Joe Niekro holds the record with 144 career wins and will hold that honor for the near future.

Latest on Oswalt

The Astros have a deal in place to trade right-hander Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies if the ace pitcher agrees to waive his no-trade clause, a person close to the negotiations told MLB.com on Thursday.

The Astros are waiting a response from Oswalt after approaching him about accepting a deal to the Phillies, but the teams have agreed upon the amount of money from Oswalt’s contract the Astros will absorb, as well as the players Houston will get in return.

Oswalt is scheduled to pitch for the Astros on Friday at Minute Maid Park, and the both sides are hoping to get the deal done at some point today.

Oswalt is owed about $5 million more this year and is due to make $16 million next season in the last year of his contract, but there’s a club option for 2012 that would pay him another $16 million. He said last week the option wouldn’t be an issue when it came to approving a trade.

The Astros have scouted Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ‘s most recent starts, and he likely would be included in the deal.

Happ, 27, is a left-hander who would immediately be inserted into the Astros’ rotation. He went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 35 games last year, including 23 starts, and had three complete games and two shutouts. He was second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, but has battled through a strained left forearm for much of the year.

Happ is making $470,000 this year, is younger than Oswalt and could be part of the Astros’ rotation for years to come. And if he pitches like he did in 2009, the Astros will have a good piece in their rotation.

The Astros could also be getting Minor League first baseman Jonathan Singleton, the team’s eighth-round pick last year. He’s 18 years old and is hitting .319 with 12 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .962 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 248 at-bats at Class A Lakewood. He’s a left-handed hitter with power.

The Phillies are reluctant to give up Singleton, which may be why the Astros are willing to put up some money to absorb Oswalt’s contract. 

 

Oswalt reportedly headed to Phillies

A report late Wednesday said the Astros had agreed to send Roy Oswalt to the Phillies, pending Oswalt’s approval, of course. Details here: http://bit.ly/d8S04t

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