Results tagged ‘ Wandy Rodriguez ’

Avoiding arbitration hearing would benefit all

The last thing the Astros want to do is sit down before an arbitration panel next month and try to explain why Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez aren’t worth the money they’re asking. Pence and Rodriguez are pros, but feelings can and often do get hurt and during the process.

Astros general manager Ed Wade, like he’s done each season since he took over as GM, has set his own deadline of close of business next Tuesday to work out deals with Pence and Rodriguez.

“The spreads are fairly significant and our hope still is that we can get something done, preferably on a multi-year basis with Wandy and would to get Hunter done as well,” Wade said. “The spreads are significant and there’s a lot of ground to cover.”

Rodriguez, who went 11-12 with a 3.60 ERA last year, is asking for $10.25 million, which is substantially more than the Astros’ offer of $8 million. He lost his arbitration case last year and had to settle for $5 million after asking for $7 million.

Pence, named the team’s Most Valuable Player after hitting .282 with 25 homers and 91 RBIs last year, is asking for $6.9 million, with the Astros countering at $5.15 million. Pence made $3.5 million last year in his first year of arbitration.

You can bet Wade and arbitration expert Tal Smith will have done extensive homework to try to continue their strong success rate of winning cases. 

Pence is asking to nearly double his salary, but the Astros don’t want to go that far. The Astros were able to settle with Pence last year, but the gap was only $1 million. Rodriguez’s gap is $2 million more than his gap of last year, and the fact he’s a free agent after 2011 should compliate negotiations.

The Astros are willing to considering signing Rodriguez to a long-term deal, but you can’t help but wonder if Rodriguez’s poor start had something to do with losing his arbitration case. He was 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA in his first 14 starts before going 8-2 with a 2.03 ERA in his final 18 starts.

Had Rodriguez pitched like that all season, he would have gotten a huge raise and perhaps would have a long-term deal by now. The fact is he remains inconsistent and at 32 years old is approaching the ideal time for him to put everything together if he really wants to cash in.



Arbitration numbers filed for Rodriguez, Pence

The Astros and outfielder Hunter Pence and pitcher Wandy Rodriguez face a large gap in the arbitration numbers filed by both sides Tuesday.

Rodriguez filed at $10.25 million, and the Astros countered with $8 million. Pence filed at $6.9 million and the Astros at $5.150 million. Rodriguez made $5 million last year, and Pence made $3.5 million.

“The spreads are fairly significant and our hope still is that we can get something done, preferably on a mult-year basis with Wandy and would to get Hunter done as well,” GM Ed Wade said. “The spreads are significant and there’s a lot of ground to cover.”

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.

Astros face arbitration decisions

UPDATE: The Astros signed Humberto Quintero to a one-year, $1 million deal Tuesday, and I’ve updated this entry accordingly…

Thursday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to players who are eligible for arbitration. For the Astros, the list of players eligible for arbitration goes seven deep: pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger and outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.

With Rodriguez, Bourn and Pence leading the way – they made a combined $10.9 million in 2010 – the Astros are going to have to commit a sizable amount of their 2011 payroll to arbitration-eligible players. Of course, the club could choose to non-tender some of these players and save money, and last week they outrighted left-handers Tim Byrdak and Gustavo Chacin, who were heading for arbitration.

Last year, the Astros wound up paying out $16.84 million to eight arbitration-eligible players. Rodriguez was the only player to wind up going to an arbitration hearing. He was asking for $7 million and the club won the hearing and had to pay him $5 million.

Here’s a closer look at each of the Astros’ seven arbitration-eligible players and what the chances are of the club tendering a contract:

LHP Wandy Rodriguez
2010 stats: 11-12, 3.60 ERA, 32 starts.
2010 salary: $5 million.
Can become free agent: 2012.
Tender prediction: Likely.
Analysis: I really can’t envision a scenario in which the Astros wouldn’t tender him a contract, even though he’s due another hefty raise. He was their best pitcher in 2009 and had a terrific second half in 2010. Heading into free agency, it would behoove Rodriguez to put it all together for next season and repeat what he did in 2009. Good starting pitching isn’t cheap, and the Astros hope they get what they pay for in 2011.

RHP Nelson Figueroa 
2010 stats: 7-4, 3.29 ERA in 31 games (11 starts); 5-3, 3.22 ERA in 18 games (10 starts) for Astros.
2010 salary: $416,000.
Can become free agent: 2014.
Tender prediction: Likely.
Analysis: Figueroa is 36 and just now reaching arbitration, so he’s still not making much money in the baseball world. And he had a pretty good season for the Astros in 2010 after they picked him up off waivers, which is why it would make sense to tender him. He’s a solid clubhouse citizen and could compete for a spot in the rotation or give them a steady option in long relief.

RHP Matt Lindstrom
2010 stats
: 2-5, 4.39 ERA, 23 saves, 58 games.
2010 salary: $1.62 million.
Can become free agent: 2013.
Tender prediction: Likely.
Analysis: Lindstrom had an up-and-down first season in Houston, and he really struggled in the second half when his back issues began to mess with his delivery. When he was healthy, he was a pretty solid closer. He’s still relatively inexpensive when you consider his age (30) and his stuff, and I doubt the Astros would give up on him after one rocky half of a season.

IF Clint Barmes
2010 stats
: .235/.305/.351, 8 HRs, 50 RBIs (with Colorado).
2010 salary: $3.325 million.
Can become free agent: 2012.
Tender prediction: Definitely.
Analysis: The Astros landed Barmes in a trade with the Rockies on Nov. 18 in exchange for Felipe Paulino. He’s likely going to be their starting shortstop next season and will be playing for a contract because he’s a free agent after next year. Considering the offensive shortcomings the Astros had at shortstop last season, paying around $4 million for Barmes for one year isn’t a bad deal.

2B Jeff Keppinger
2010 stats
: .288/.351/.393, 6 HRs, 59 RBIs, 34 2Bs.
2010 salary: $1.15 million.
Can become free agent: 2013.
Tender prediction: Definitely.
Analysis: Keppinger is coming off a career season in which he was the Astros’ starting second baseman for most of the season. There’s still a chance the Astros could acquire a second baseman with more pop and better range and return Keppinger to a reserve role, but he’s too much of a steady hand not to want back on the roster. He rarely strikes out or gets into prolonged slumps and had a pretty good on-base percentage a year ago.

CF Michael Bourn
2010 stats
: .265/.341/.346, 3 HRs, 25 RBIs, 52 SBs.
2010 salary: $2.4 million.
Can become free agent: 2013.
Tender prediction: Definitely.
Analysis: Bourn didn’t quite have the breakout season on offense in 2010 that he enjoyed in 2009, but he made the All-Star team, won his second Gold Glove and led the league in stolen bases. He was up and down on offense, but finished the season with a flourish at the plate before a strained oblique injury cost him the final two weeks of the season.

RF Hunter Pence
2010 stats
: .282/.325/.461, 25 HRs, 91 RBIs, 18 SBs.
2010 salary: $3.5 million.
Can become free agent: 2014.
Tender prediction: Definitely.
Analysis: He’s coming of a career season in which he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player after tying career high with 25 homers and setting career high with 91 RBIs. This is Pence’s second year in arbitration eligibility and he’ll still have two years remaining after 2011, so he’s under the Astros’ control for three more years at least. He’s going to get a nice raise in 2011, but he’s earned it.

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:


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.


Rodriguez scratched for Sunday, lineup for Saturday

Nelson Figueroa, who threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday in Cincinnati, will start Sunday’s season finale for the Astros in place of Wandy Rodriguez, who was scratched with back spasms. Rodriguez was deemed unavailable after throwing off flat ground Saturday.

Figueroa (6-4, 3.52 ERA) is 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA this year as a starter. He’s made 10 starts, including nine for the Astros since he was picked up on waivers. Remember what he did on the final day of the 2009 season? He threw a four-hit shutout against the Astros while he was with the Mets. 

Here are the lineups for Saturday’s game against the Cubs:

2B Anderson Hernandez

SS Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

CF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

1B Brett Wallace

C Jason Castro

P J.A. Happ


Lineups for Astros-Reds on Friday

The Astros continue their quest to finish .500 with a difficult task this weekend, taking on the first-place Reds beginning Friday night at Minute Maid Park. Johnny Cueto (12-5, 3.31 ERA) starts for the Reds against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (11-2, 3.77 ERA), who’s 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in his last 10 starts.

Here are the lineups:


CF Michael Bourn

SS Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

1B Brett Wallace

2B Matt Downs

C Jason Castro

P Wandy Rodriguez


2B Brandon Phillips

SS Orlando Cabrera

1B Joey Votto

3B Scott Rolen

LF Jonny Gomes

C Ramon Hernandez

CF Drew Stubbs

RF Willie Bloomquist

RHP Johnny Cueto

Rodriguez struggles a concern

Wandy Rodriguez was the Astros’ best pitcher last year, leading the team in wins, strikeouts, games started and innings pitched while posting a career-low 3.02 ERA. Fast-forward to 2010, when Rodriguez is struggling mightily like he did prior to his breakout season of a year ago.

Roy Oswalt has pitched great to start the year, Brett Myers has been a fantastic addition and Felipe Paulino is showing signs of turning the corner, but Rodriguez has to give the Astros reason for concern. He’s 3-9 with a 5.60 ERA, so you can’t blame it on run support. He struggled with command Saturday against the Yankees, walking five batters, four of which scored.

In 72 1/3 innings this year, he’s allowed 91 hits, 30 walks and struck out 50 batters. He’s allowed nearly half the amount of hits and walks he did all of last year in 205 2/3 innings, and is well below his walk-to-innings pitched ratio.

So what do to? Nothing. Rodriguez still is able to dominate from time to time like he did last year, so the Astros will keep sending him to the mound and hoping he finds his location. Maybe the Rodriguez of 2009 will come through over his final 20 starts of the season. If not, the Astros will have to consider his future in the offseason.

Astros lineup Saturday vs. Rays

The Astros try to make it two in a row over the best team in baseball Saturday when left-hander Wandy Rodriguez takes the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeff Niemann, a 6-foot-9 right-hander who’s a Houston native and led Rice to the 2003 College World Series title, will make his first pro start in his hometown.

Here are the lineups:


CF Michael Bourn .289-0-5

2B Jeff Keppinger .281-0-17

1B Lance Berkman .220-4-13

LF Carlos Lee .199-5-16

RF Hunter Pence .250-6-17

3B Pedro Feliz .209-1-13

C Humberto Quintero .243-1-4

SS Tommy Manzella .192-1-6

P Wandy Rodriguez .333-0-1


SS Jason Bartlett .248-1-22

LF Carl Crawford .306-3-20

2B Ben Zobrist .299-1-20

3B Evan Longoria .323-9-37

1B Carlos Pena .190-5-19

CF B.J. Upton .224-5-19

RF Gabe Kapler .250-1-7

C Dioner Navarro .184-0-2

P Jeff Niemann .000-0-0


Day 40: Wandy struggles again, roster comes into focus

Say what you will about the health of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman and the concerns about young players at shortstop and catcher, but left-hander Wandy Rodriguez means as much to the Astros success in 2010 than anyone.

That’s why the club has to be concerned about Rodriguez, who had a poor spring. He was battered for nine hits and nine runs in 2 1/3 innings in his final Grapefruit League start Thursday against Atlanta, finishing with a 1-4 record and a 12.10 ERA.

“I’m worried because I don’t feel ready and the season’s here,” said Rodriguez, who flew to Houston on Wednesday night to be with his wife, who’s scheduled to give birth to the club’s second daughter on Tuesday.

Rodriguez, who led the team in innings, wins and strikeouts last year, allowed at least three earned runs in five of his six spring outings and never pitched more than four innings. Astros manager Brad Mills said Rodriguez and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg will keep working before he takes the mound Tuesday against the Giants.

“They have to keep moving and working on something,” Mills said. “That first inning seems to be a pretty good bugaboo.”


Roy Oswalt threw 81 pitches in 5 2/3 innings in a Minor League game Wednesday and said he feels ready to go for Monday’s opener. He was caught by J.R. Towles, and Carlos Lee (2-for-7) and Tommy Manzella also played in Minor League games. Manzella got tested on defense and could finally return to the lineup Thursday.



The Astros’ roster is at 25 players after Lance Berkman, Alberto Arias and Yorman Bazardo were placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and non-roster outfielder Jason Bourgeois was told he would begin the season in the Minor Leagues.

Houston has yet to officially announce its roster, so nothing is set in stone. Cory Sullivan, a non-roster outfielder, appears to have won a spot, and manager Brad Mills confirmed Sammy Gervacio has won a spot in the bullpen.

Thus, here’s the roster as it stands now with 25 men:

CATCHERS (2) — J.R. Towles, Humberto Quintero.

INFIELDERS (6) — Geoff Blum, Kaz Matsui, Tommy Manzella, Pedro Feliz, Jeff Keppinger, Chris Johnson.

OUTFIELDERS (5) — Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Jason Michaels, Cory Sullivan.

PITCHING STAFF (12) — Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon.

DISABLED LIST (3) — Lance Berkman, Alberto Arias, Yorman Bazardo.

Mills also said Bud Norris would start the fourth game of the season, which certainly comes as no surprise.

What happens to the rotation after that is a mystery. The Astros could bring Roy Oswalt back on regular rest Saturday and go with a four-man rotation, or they could give the ball to Felipe Paulino. But Paulino was having a hard time moving Wednesday after suffering from a back spasm.

Stay tuned.


Here’s the breakdown from Wednesday’s 10-5 loss to the Braves at ESPN Wild World of Sports at DisneyWorld:

The good: Michael Bourn went 2-for-3 and is ending the spring on a hot streak. He has six hits in his last eight at-bats and is hitting .302. Kat Masui went 2-for-4 and is hitting .294, and Pedro Feliz (2-for-4) and Chris Johnson (2-for-3) continued their strong springs.

Johnson, who was told Wednesday morning he had made the Opening Day roster, is hitting .302 this spring and leads the Astros in home runs (six) and RBIs (17).

Brian Moehler, who will start the season in long relief out of the bullpen, threw two scoreless innings and Chris Sampson threw another scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 2.31. Gervacio showed he was human by allowing two hits and one run in one inning.

The bad: Wandy Rodriguez allowed nine hits and nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his final spring start. Rodriguez got knocked around all spring, finishing 1-4 with a 12.10 ERA. The Astros have to hope Wandy gets things ironed out before he pitches Tuesday against the Giants.

What they said: “I feel great again, but I don’t know what happened with me. I think maybe my location, but I threw a lot of quality pitches today and some of them they swung badly and they got a base hit.” – Rodriguez.

What’s next: The Astros wrap up Grapefruit League action by playing host to the Detroit Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. Casey Daigle, a non-roster invitee who was reassigned to the Minor Leagues earlier this week, will start for the Astros. Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Tim Byrdak and Brandon Lyon are also scheduled to pitch. The game could mark the return of shortstop Tommy Manzella, who hasn’t played in nearly two weeks because of a strained quadriceps muscle.