There's hope in Houston, just not for next season (or the one after that)
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade -- whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
With an abundance of trades over the winter, who is left to take over as the NL Central's top prospects?
Chicago Cubs How'd I do in 2010?: Of the five players given odds, three were not eligible for the this year's list; shortstop Starlin Castro (4-1) and right-hander Andrew Cashner (15-1) both saw their big-league timetables accelerated, while shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (10-1) went to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal. The eventual top prospect, outfielder Brett Jackson, got decent odds at (6-1), but the player with the best odds, third baseman Josh Vitters (3-1), saw his stock dip significantly.
Albert Pujols leads the roster of players newly anointed with "10-and-5" no-trade rights.
For Albert Pujols, the 2010 season was his 10th year in the majors, meeting the requirement for election to the Hall of Fame. With the end of the season, he also earned full no-trade protection as a "10-and-5 man": a 10-year veteran who has spent the last five seasons with the same team.
Astros manager Brad Mills hasn't lost the faith in his rookie season, along with other news and notes from around the majors.
As the Astros prepared to take the field for their first game following the All-Star break, manager Brad Mills looked at freshly-minted hitting coach and franchise legend Jeff Bagwell. Mills had just one thing to say to Bagwell.
The Astros' failure to launch bodes poorly for the shape of their season.
Houston, we have a problem. On Monday, the Astros lost 5-0 to the Cardinals, running their 2010 record to 0-7 and marking the third time in this young season that they've been shut out. To date, the Astros have been outscored 42-13—by an average of 4.1 runs per game—which comes out to a Pythagenpat winning percentage of .114.
With the Winter Meetings about to begin, here's what to expect from every National League team.
I'm not going to be in Indianapolis-with Kevin, Will, John, and Christina on-site, think of my absence as the Secretary of Agriculture being assigned to skip the State of the Union, to assure continuity of government should disaster strike. That doesn't mean I'm not as geeked for the Winter Meetings as any fan is. I'm not sure we'll get much in the way of transaction action, but the anticipation of movement makes for a fun four days.
Some veterans who may get moved this month, umpires dodging lightning bolts, disgruntled Venezuelans, and more developments on the diamond.
While most of the heavy-duty trading is over now that the deadline to make deals without securing waivers passed on July 31, there are still potential swaps to be made. A couple of relievers cleared waivers and changed teams this past week; the Rays acquired right-hander Chad Bradford from the Orioles, and the Phillies picked up left-hander Scott Eyre from the Cubs. The Red Sox had a deal in place to add to their already impressive arsenal by trading for Padres outfielder Brian Giles, but the San Diego native invoked his no-trade clause, preferring to remain in his hometown with the last-place Padres rather than join the contending Red Sox.
The stakes get raised in the NL Central by the Brewers and Cubs, but some of the other teams are still painting themselves into the picture.
Many looked at the Astros at the end of last season as a rebuilding situation. The Astros had gone 73-89 with a veteran-laden team, their most losses since 2000, as they finished fifth in the National League Central. Furthermore, general manager Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner were fired in late August.
However, rebuild isn't part of owner Drayton McLane's vocabulary, which is why former GM Ed Wade was brought in as Purpura's replacement last September. "There is nothing like being a general manager, especially if you are a competitive person," said Wade, who was fired by Phillies in 2005 after eight years as their GM. "I'm thankful to have a chance to do this job again and I couldn't have asked to come into a better situation than a place where the owner wants to be competitive."