Results tagged ‘ Wesley Wright ’
The Astros reached agreements Friday with all three of their arbitration-eligible players, signing shortstop Jed Lowrie to a one-year, $2.4 million deal, right-hander Bud Norris to a one-year, $3 million deal and left-hander Wesley Wright to a one-year deal.
Terms of the Wright deal weren’t disclosed.
Friday marked the deadline for the teams and players to exchange salary numbers in advance of next month’s scheduled hearings, but the Astros were able to avoid going to an arbitration panel.
The 28-year-old Lowrie, who made $1.15 million last year, set career highs in games (97), at-bats (340), runs (43), hits (83), home runs (16) and walks (43) despite missing 52 games with a sprained right ankle and leg injury. He wound up hitting .244 with 42 RBIs.
Norris, 27, was 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts last year, allowing 165 hits and striking out 165 in 168 1/3 innings. He went 0-12 with a 6.34 ERA during a streak of 18 starts in the middle of the season while he battled injuries and inconsistencies. Norris had a 1.71 ERA at home and a 6.94 mark on the road.
Wright, 27, was 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA in a career-high 77 games last year, which led the Astros and ranked tied for sixth in the National League. His .226 batting average allowed ranked fifth in the NL among left-handed relievers.
“I’m happy to have it behind me and can focus on the upcoming season and going out and doing my best to help us win some ballgames,” Wright said. “It’s good to know that part of the situation is taken care of and we can focus on baseball activities.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the club plans to tender contracts to their four remaining arbitration-eligible players – pitchers Bud Norris, Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright and shortstop Jed Lowrie. Lopez, of course, has been subject of trade speculation, but for now he remains with Houston.
The deadline to tender a contract is 10:59 p.m. CT Friday.
Norris, Lopez and Wright are all eligible for arbitration for the first time, and Lowrie is going through the process a second time. Each player will submit a desired salary for 2013, and the Astros will also submit their offer. That serves as the starting point for the negotiations, and both sides typically meet in the middle
If the sides can’t find common ground, they will take their case before an arbitration panel in February that will determine the players’ salary. In this scenario, this is no middle ground. The panel will side with either the player or the team, but negotiations can continue right up to the hearing.
Astros assistant general manager David Stearns is going to be spearheading the team’s arbitration process.
“He has some experience in that area, both from the labor relations side of Major League baseball, as well as the team side,” Luhnow said. “Our cases are nothing too complex at this point. They’re all first-year guys, with the exception of Jed, who’s a second-year guy. We went through preparing for a cast last year. We’re in pretty good shape, and I feel good about we’re going to get all our guys done.”
Here’s a closer look at each player:
– Jed Lowrie made $1.15 million in his first season in Houston in 2012 and was putting up All-Star numbers before a sprained right ankle suffered in mid July put him on the shelf for 52 games. He wound up hitting .244 with a career-high 16 homers and 42 RBIs. Lowrie could as much as double his salary from a year ago.
– Bud Norris had a strange year statistically, going 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts. He had 165 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings, but went nearly three months without a win while battling various injuries and some inconsistencies. He was 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA at home and 3-12 with a 6.94 ERA on the road. He started strong, but was 0-12 with a 6.17 ERA in 18 starts from May 26-Sept. 20. He finished the season having not allowed a run in his final two starts, 13 1/3 innings.
Norris made $511,000 last season and should see a substantial bump based on his body of work, perhaps in the $2 million range
– Wesley Wright, who made $512,000 last season, is one of the longest-tenured Astros, having pitched parts of five seasons with the club from 2008-12. He made a career-high 77 appearances as lefty specialist last year and went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA, including a 19-game scoreless streak. Lefties have hit just .170 off of him the last two years combined and he’ll remain a key cog in the bullpen.
The Astros got Wright in the Rule 5 Draft in 2007, and he’s had an unusual tenure in Houston. He’s been tried as a starter, had his arm slot temporarily changed and bounced between Triple-A and Houston so many times he could start his own shuttle service. But he appears to have entrenched himself in the bullpen and will be paid accordingly.
– Wilton Lopez, claimed off waivers in 2009 by Ed Wade, has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last year in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero. He posted the lowest walks-per-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.
Lopez made $515,500 last season and could wind up around $1 million next season based on his workload and track record. That’s if the Astros don’t trade him.
Here it is: the eighth and final installment of the Astros’ position-by-position breakdown. Today we’ll take a look at relief pitching, which general manager Ed Wade says is one of the strengths of the team. Before we get to the bullpen, here are the links to the previous seven entries in the series (click on the desired position to view the entry): catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, starting pitcher.
2010 bullpen to begin season: Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon.
2010 end-of-season bullpen: Fernando Abad, Tim Byrdak, Gustavo Chacin, Enerio Del Rosario, Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Wilton Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Felipe Paulino, Henry Villar and Wesley Wright.
Others who made an appearance: Nelson Figueroa, Brian Moehler, Casey Daigle, Gary Majewski, Kevin Cash.
Combined 2010 stats of Astros relief pitchers: 24-23 record, 45 saves in 60 opportunities, 4.49 ERA (ranked 13th in the NL).
Free agents: None.
Arbitration eligible: LHP Tim Byrdak, LHP Gustavo Chacin, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Felipe Paulino.
What happened: The Astros traded for hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom last December and plunked down $15 million on a three-year contract for Brandon Lyon to bolster the back end of the bullpen after losing both Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins to free agency. Lyon developed a cyst in his shoulder and was behind all spring, opening the door for Lindstrom to win the closer’s job.
Lindstrom got off to a terrific start, posting a 1.40 ERA in his first 19 appearances and going 10-for-10 in save opportunities. He blew three saves and posted a 5.23 ERA in June and began battling back spasms that eventually cost him the closer’s job and forced him to the disabled list in August. Lyon took over as closer in early August and finished with 20 saves in 22 chances and a 3.12 ERA.
Lindstrom, who led the team with 23 saves, and Lyon became the first set of teammates to save at least 20 games in the same season since the 1992 Cincinnati Reds.
Wilton Lopez, who the Astros acquired on a waiver claim in 2009, took on an important role in the back of the bullpen and wound up pitching in 68 games and posted a 2.96 ERA. The Astros also got good mileage out of lefty Tim Byrdak and right-hander Jeff Fulchino, who battled injuries and wasn’t as sharp as he was in 2009. Fan favorite Chris Sampson had a good first half and was eventually sent to the Minors after some struggles and designated for assignment. Alberto Arias, who was injured in Spring Training, and Sammy Gervacio were quickly shut down because of shoulder troubles.
As the year progressed, the Astros got a good look at right-handers Henry Villar and Mark Melancon, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade.
What’s next: Astros general manager Ed Wade doesn’t plan to do much to the bullpen in the offseason and sees it as one of the strengths of the club. Lyon and Lindstrom will once again compete for the closer’s job in the spring, though both could again wind up finishing off games at some point. The Astros like what Lopez brings to the back end of the bullpen and envision Melancon as a future late-game reliever.
Arias, who had surgery for rotator cuff impingement, could be in the picture next year along with Gervacio, who missed most of the year with rotator cuff inflammation. Gervacio had mixed results in the Minors but showed some good flashes with the Minor Leagues. Fernando Abad had a good Major League debut in his 22 appearances and will be a left-handed option, along with Wesley Wright.
Who’s on the farm: Left-hander Douglas Arguello, the pitcher of the year at Double-A Corpus Christi, will be in spring camp next year competing for a job. Abad and Villar, both of whom came up late in the season, could lead the next wave of youngsters in the pen. Don’t forget Chia-Jen Lo, who missed much of last year with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.
Former first-round draft pick Brian Bogusevic, who was drafted by the Astros in 2005 as a pitcher before transitioning to the outfield in 2008, is among five Minor League players who will join the team Wednesday, the first day rosters can be expanded beyond 25 players.
The Astros announced Tuesday that Bogusevic, infielder Matt Downs, right-handed pitcher Henry Villar and left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright would be recalled. The club will also purchase the contract of catcher Brian Esposito. Bogusevic and Villar will be making their Major League debuts.
Bogusevic, 26, hit .278 with 13 home runs, 26 doubles, 57 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 130 games for Triple-A Round Rock. This is his second full season as a position player after being drafted as a left-handed pitcher out of Tulane University.
Downs, who was recently claimed off waivers by the Astros, appeared in 29 games for the San Francisco Giants this year, primarily as a second baseman, and hit .244. In three Minor League stops this season with Round Rock, Triple-A Fresno and the Rookie Arizona League Giants, Downs has combined to hit .244 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.
Villar, 23, is 4-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 36 games, including 11 starts, at Double-A Corpus Christi, and Wright will be making his third appearance on the Astros’ roster. He has made 10 appearances, including four starts, overall for the Astros in 2010, posting a 1-2 record and a 6.28 ERA in 15 games, including 14 starts.
Esposito will be the third catcher on the roster after hitting .205 with two homers and 18 RBIs in 58 games with Round Rock and Corpus Christi this season. He is a veteran of 11 professional seasons, but has played in only one inning of a Major League game and has not had an at-bat.
To make room for Esposito on the 40-man roster, the club will transfer right-handed pitcher Brian Moehler from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Moehler is scheduled to go undergo season-ending surgery his lower abdomen Wednesday in Philadelphia.
The Astros made a pair of roster moves following Monday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, placing left-hander Tim Byrdak on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and optioning right-hander Sammy Gervacio to Triple-A Round Rock.
The club recalled right-hander Wilton Lopez from Round Rock and purchased the contract of left-hander Gustavo Chacin, putting the 40-man roster at its limit. Chacin will pitch as the lefty out of the pen in place of Byrdak.
Astros general manager Ed Wade said Byrdak’s hamstring had been bothering for several weeks.
“[Head athletic trainer] Nate Lucero called me after he came out of the game tonight and said Tim said he had trouble finishing his pitches, and Nate went back and looked at video of last year compared to this year and it was apparent to him he was really having trouble coming down on his landing leg,” Wade said. “It seemed apparent he was trying to compensate for the hamstring.”
Wade talked to Byrdak (1-0, 5.23 ERA in 13 games) after the game and he confirmed that was the case.
“Before the hamstring blows or he hurts his arm, we put him on the DL and hopefully it resolves itself in 15 days,” Wade said.
Chacin was 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in five starts for the Express. He’s allowed 24 hits, six walks and struck out 14 batters in 24 2/3 innings. He was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.
Wade said left-hander Wesley Wright was also given consideration for being called up, but he threw six innings Monday.
“I talked to [Round Rock manager] Marc Bombard and he said he Chacin could handle the role in the bullpen and [pitching coach Brad Arnsberg] is familiar with him from Spring Training and their days together in Toronto,” Wade said.
Gervacio, who threw one-third of an inning Monday and gave up a two-run single, is 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in 3 2/3 innings in six appearances. Lopez was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three relief appearances at Round Rock and was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA and five strikeouts in four relief appearances for the Astros earlier this year.
Astros pitcher Wesley Wright and Minor League outfielder Brian Bogusevic both suffered minor injuries while playing winter ball this week.
Wright, who is being converted to a starter in the Dominican Winter League, took a line drive off his heel while pitching Thursday night and underwent X-rays. General manager Ed Wade said the club may bring the left-hander to Houston soon to be examined by team doctors.
“He was due to come back here at some point before Christmas, and we may accelerate that and get him back here and checked out,” he said.
Wright was 0-2 with a 3.58 ERA in seven starts for Este. In 32 2/3 innings, he’d allowed 27 hits, 16 runs (13 earned), 20 walks and struck out 38.
Bogusevic, a former first-round pick as a pitcher who has converted to outfield, was examined Friday in Houston by team medical director Dr. David Lintner after he injured his left knee landing awkwardly on first base during a game in Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Wade said the injury is not believed to be serious.
“We thought initially it was a meniscus injury,” he said. “We’re still waiting to find out more, but he’s not going back immediately.”
Bogusevic was hitting .245 with one double and three RBIs in 49 at-bats for Mayaguez.
Astros pitcher Chris Sampson is playing host to a free baseball clinic from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at his newly opened academy — LoneStar Baseball Academy, located at 204 YMCA Drive in Baytown.
Sampson has invited 50 kids from the Baytown YMCA to a free, private clinic. Children attending will be taught the fundamentals of pitching, hitting and fielding. LoneStar Baseball Academy, which opened Nov. 16, is owned and operated by sampson and former Milwaukee Brewers farmhand. For more information visit www.lonestarbat.com
When relief pitcher Wesley Wright was doing a television interview prior to Wednesday’s game, he got a shaving cream pie to the face, courtesy of – who else? – LaTroy Hawkins. The same LaTroy Hawkins who was the mastermind behind the rookies dressing up in tight workout outfits for the flight to Philadelphia for the final road trip of the season.
As the season draws to a close, the Astros are certainly a loose bunch. And that is just fine with interim manager Dave Clark.
“I like a loose atmosphere,” Clark said. “I think that’s how you’re able to go out and be yourself and play the game like it’s supposed to be played and have fun doing it. That’s exactly what it’s all about it, trying to have fun and win ballgames.”
Clark believes the manager and coaching staff have to create a positive atmosphere. He doesn’t want players getting too high when they’ve won a bunch of games in a row or too low when they’re struggling to put anything together.
“We want it on an even keel,” Clark said. “There are times you’re getting your butt kicked but you have to find a way to get it done, find a way to keep it at an even keel. A lot of that comes from the veterans as well. That’s the kind of atmosphere I definitely want, and that’s the kind of atmosphere I’ll definitely command.”
Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled to start the first game of the final series of the season Friday in New York. He will be followed by Yorman Bazardo on Saturday and Wilton Lopez on Sunday, but interim manager Dave Clark said Lopez could be used in the bullpen prior to Sunday.
The Astros are shorthanded in the bullpen with Chad Paronto perhaps unavailable for the final four games of the season because of a strained left hamstring.
“The thought process behind that is maybe put Lopez back in the pen and see where we’re at at that particular time,” Clark said. “The last game of the season, if we have to run them all out there, we’ll do it.”
Relief pitcher Chad Paronto, who had to be helped off the field in the seventh inning Tuesday after straining his left hamstring, said he was sore on Wednesday, though not as sore as he thought he’d be. Paronto said he’d like to pitch again in the final days of the season, but interim manager Dave Clark suggested the right-hander is done.
“It’s frustrating to finally get a chance to get out there and show people what I can do and get hurt,” Paronto said. “I’m not as effective when I pitch every five or six days. Being a sinker-baller, I do better when I pitch every one or two days.”
Astros left-hander Wesley Wright is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Sunday before going out on a Minor League rehab assignment to Triple-A Round Rock. Wright has been on the DL since Aug. 12 with a left shoulder strain that is the result from arm fatigue.
“I’m doing whatever I can to get my legs in shape until my arm gets back to where it needs to be,” Wright said. “It’s close and I’m ready to give it some games and see how it reacts. I’m just ready to get back on the mound. This year has been a long, frustrating one for me.”
After going 4-3 with a 5.01 ERA in 71 appearances in his rookie year in 2008, Wright is 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA in 33 games this year. He’s been shuffled between Round Rock and the Astros after spending all of last season in the Major Leagues, and he was even wheeled out of Wrigley Field on a stretcher last month after suffering from dehydration.
“I had heard about the sophomore slump or jinx or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “As an athlete, you try not to believe in those things, but perhaps. I was sitting here watching TV and I saw the [2008 National League] Rookie of the Year [Geovany Soto] is hitting .217. Baseball is a game where you constantly have to made adjustments. That’s what I’m in the progress of doing.”
Kaz Matsui was back in the lineup Saturday with hopes of breaking out of a 1-for-25 slump, including no hits in his last 14 at-bats. He entered Saturday hitting .235, but has been especially poor from the left side of the plate. He’s hitting .222 left-handed and .290 right-handed.
“His left-handed swing has not been there,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “He has not had the good left-handed swing. He has not had the patience he normally has left-handed. As a matter of fact, he looks like a different hitter left-handed than he looked a year ago.”
Matsui hit .293 in 96 games in his first season with the Astros last year, batting .291 right-handed and .294 left-handed. He was on the disabled list three different times, but has managed to avoid the DL but one time this year. Saturday marked his 95th game.
Cooper said he will continue to play Matsui.
“The guy can do so many things for us,” Cooper said. “When he does get on, he can run. He’s one of the two or three guys we have that goes first to third without any problems. We have to keep him healthy and give him time off and hopefully in these last few games he finds his swing because we need him to be an offensive force for us as a left-handed hitter.”
Don’t expect the Astros to have a flurry of September call-ups when the rosters can be expanded to 40 players on Sept. 1. Astros general manager Ed Wade believes in calling up players who are going to play a role on the team and doesn’t believe in using the call-ups as a reward.
The Astros already expect to get back injured pitchers Doug Brocail and Wesley Wright, along with rehabbing infielder Aaron Boone.
“Whether it’s playing defense or pinch-running or pinch-hitting, you have to fill a need,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “Or maybe be a guy that’s a good situational pitcher that comes in.”
Among those likely to be called up is catcher J.R. Towles, who is recovering from an injury and might not be ready. Most teams like to add a third catching option for September. But don’t expect Chris Johnson and Tommy Manzella to get a call. Not only are they unlikely to get playing time, but they will begin to accrue Major League service time when recalled.
The Astros were ranked 25th in baseball in the number of innings thrown by their starting pitchers prior to Friday. Astros starters had thrown 646 innings, which was just ahead of the 644 1/3 thrown by the Brewers starters.
Astros starting pitchers went exactly five innings in all four games of the series against the Marlins in Florida, putting a big strain on relief pitchers. The bullpen, which was one of the Astros’ strengths last year, has been ravaged by injuries and overuse.
Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Sampson, Geoff Geary and Wesley Wright have all spent time on the disabled list year, forcing others into roles they wouldn’t have been in otherwise. Jeff Fulchino and Alberto Arias have been called upon more, but even they haven’t pitched as well as they did earlier.
“We need two or three days in a row of seven innings [from a starting pitcher] and we’ll be in pretty good shape,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “It hasn’t happened too often here lately for us.”
Cooper was undoubtedly cringing when Wandy Rodriguez gave up eight runs in the first inning Friday. He threw seven innings in his previous start Sunday before the run of four consecutive five-inning outings by the starters.
Cooper said trying to identify a pitcher to work in long relief has been difficult. The addition of Yorman Bazardo will help, but the Astros will have to keep him back in case Mike Hampton can’t make his next start.
“Last year, we had Geary and we had Sampson and they both would flip-flop every other day, and they were both strong and did a good job for us,” he said. “This year we had to press Arias into some spots we wouldn’t have used him, as well as Fulchino. Geary’s not here and Sampson was good in the first half and has struggled lately.
“It’s been a little struggle to keep it all mapped out, but that’s still not an excuse. We have to go out and get it done.”
Sampson was sent to Triple-A Round Rock following Thursday’s rough outing in Florida, and Cooper reiterated that he was told by Sampson and the training staff that the right-hander was healthy. Sampson says he hasn’t been 100 percent since coming off the disabled list.
Still, Cooper admitted that perhaps he could have not used him as much.
“I wish we could have given him more rest, maybe, early on and tried to avoid some of this,” he said.