Tagged: Houston Astros Rumors

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Trade Between Astros and Phillies

There’s been a trade between the Astros and the Phillies with one major name involved. Check it out in the Houston Astros Rumors and Philadelphia Phillies Rumors categories over at The Rumor Mill’s new location, YourSportsFix.com/mlbrumormill!

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Rumor: Astros’ Ensberg and Lane Untradeable

It’s no secret the Astros would be open to trading away Morgan Ensberg or Jason Lane. However, if Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is correct, no other team wants them.

Forget my hunch that the Astros are on the verge of a significanttrade. Not going to happen. Morgan Ensberg and Jason Lane are here to
stay, at least for now. There’s no market for either of them. I’m not
sure how committed Tim Purpura was to moving to either of them, but
voices I trust inside the organization emphasize they simply have no
value.

That’s pretty strong language for a couple of players that two years ago hit a combined 62 home runs and drove in 179 runs for the ‘Stros. Unfortunately the game of baseball seems to be a fickle thing. This year the pair are batting .213 and .200 respectively and have hit only 6 home runs and driven in 21 collectively. If the Astros are going to make a deal to shake things up, it doesn’t look like Ensberg or Lane will be the chips that make it happen.

Rumor: Astros Losing Clemens

Look, I know I’ve all but sworn an oath to ignore this "Will he, won’t he" **** that goes on with Clemens every year but, hey, it’s a slow news day.

Astros fans, you might want to skip this one for now. I mean it is the holiday season and all… Anyway, apparently the Astros do not expect Roger Clemens to pitch for his home town team again. In the Houston Chronicle today, John Lopez wrote an article (a very good one at that) about the new direction the Astros are headed in. Old stallwarts like Bagwell, Biggio, Pettitte and Clemens are either already gone, or will be soon and the Astros are building on players like Oswalt, Berkman and newly signed Carlos Lee. However, as you might have guessed, the biggest buzz created by the article was the quick mention of Clemens’ impending departure. It’s a shame, but in terms of the Hot Stove, Lopez might as well have ended his article after these three sentences.

"The Astros are of course willing to wait on Roger Clemens to decide whether to pitch again, and where. But the organization, like you and me, would be surprised if Clemens wears Astros pinstripes again. Beyond the probable Clemens departure, Pettitte is gone to the Yankees."

Alright, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I now return you to my regularly scheduled boycott of stories that crop up every year but never actually happen (Clemens retirement, Manny’s departure from Boston, and the Marlins trading Dontrelle Willis).

The Coors Field Effect & the Jason Jennings Trade

*Update at end of article

This article comes in response to some of the best discussion and analysis of a trade that I’ve been a part of lately, (read the discussions, here and here). I’ve decided to dive into some stats in hopes of projecting Jason Jennings’ 2007 performance as well as find out how much Coors Field actually does affect a pitcher’s ERA.

Coors
First of all let me say that despite popular belief, the infamous humidor was actually installed at Coors Field in 2002. This apparatus received a lot of press last year due to the Colorado Rockies pitchers’ amazing performance at home. However, as I said, the humidor has been in place since 2002. To be honest, I think the Rockies simply finally had a pitching staff that suited their stadium, not the other way around. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into some of the stats.

I’ve gathered a somewhat small list of pitchers who have pitched in Colorado and looked at their ERA before, during, and after their time spent with the Rockies. While the list is far from complete, it’s the best I can do while still holding down my day job. I’d love to do this stuff for a living but we’re not there yet. Without further ado, the pitchers and their stats…

Joe Kennedy – in 2003 with Tampa Bay he posted a 6.13 ERA. In 2004 with the Rockies, that dropped to 3.66. And oh, by the way, his ERA was 0.14 BETTER in Colorado than away from it. In 2005 Kennedy’s ERA ballooned up above 7 with the Rockies. He was then dealt to Oakland where his ERA dropped to 4.45 after the A’s converted him to a reliever. His career ERA now sits at 4.79.

Pedro Astacio – In 1997 Astacio went from the Los Angles Dodgers to the Colorado Rockies. His ERA with the Dodgers was 4.10 compared to his 4.25 ERA with the Rockies. Over the next 4 years Astacio’s ERA with the Rockies averaged about 5.50. He then dropped his ERA to 3.14 when he went to Houston, however that was only over the course of 4 starts. The next year with the Mets, Astacio’s ERA rebounded to 4.79, much closer to his career average of 4.67.

Daryl Kile – Kile had the best year of his career in 1997 with the Houston Astros. It should be noted however, that for the three seasons before ’97, Kile’s ERA averaged 4.57 with the Astros. In 1998, Kile went to Colorado and proceeded to put up ERA’s of 5.20 and 6.61. In 2000, Kile went to the St. Louis Cardinals and resurrected his career averaging an ERA of 3.57 for two and a half years, before his life and career were tragically cut short by heart problems. His career ERA was 4.12.

Jose Mesa – In 2005 Jose Mesa put up a 4.77 ERA with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last year with the Colorado Rockies, Mesa finished the year with a 3.86 ERA.

Kevin Ritz – From 1990 to 1992, Kevin Ritz had an average ERA of 9.46 with the Detroit Tigers. Ritz then went to Colorado and over his first three years there averaged an ERA of 5.03.

Hampton
Mike Hampton

– In 1999, Mike Hampton had a career year for the Houston Astros. He
compiled an amazing 22-4 record with a 2.90 ERA. The year after,
Hampton had a 3.14 ERA with the New York Mets. Similarly to Kile,
Hampton then put up two horrible years with the Colorado Rockies.
Hamptons ERA’s over 2001 and 2002 were 5.41 and 6.15 respectively.
Hampton then escaped Colorado, moving to the Atlanta Braves putting up
a much improved ERA of 3.84 and 4.28 over the next two years. It’s
undeniable evidence that Coors Field kills pitchers right? Hampton gave
up career highs in home runs over those two years, so that has to be
Coors right? Not so fast. Hampton also had career lows in strike outs
per 9 innings as well as walks per 9 innings pitched.

AND, the clincher is that Hampton’s ERA was actually 0.76 WORSE away
from home in 2002 (his 6.15 ERA year). Even more astonishing is the
fact that 12 of Hampton’s 15 losses that year came away from home. By those numbers, Coors Field actually HELPED Hampton’s ERA.

So, what have we learned? Well, Daryl Kile and Mike Hampton sure seemed to suffer from pitching in the thin air of Coors Field. However, as we saw with Hampton, you can’t attribute their inflated ERA’s merely to where they pitched. Mike Hampton would have had a horrible year in 2002 if he had pitched at sea level. To top it off, I have the stats to back that statement up! As we just saw, Hampton’s ERA was three quarters of a run better at home than when pitching away from Coors Field. So, let’s go back and take a look at the pitcher who inspired this whole article, Jason Jennings.

Jennings
Jennings is coming off a career year in terms of ERA. His 3.78 ERA was nearly a run better than his career average. So, will leaving Coors behind for the spacious center field of Minute Maid Park help Jennings’ stats? Before you answer take a look at Jennings’ stats over the last three years. His ERA has averaged 4.71 but is nearly half a run (0.43) better away from Coors Field. But wait, his ERA was only 3.78 last year, if he drops half a run off that he’d have a very good 3.25 next year for the Astros. Well, if you only look at last year’s stats, I’ve got some bad news for you. Jennings’ ERA was actually nearly half a run (0.41) worse away from home.

So, where does all that leave us (besides probably half asleep)? We’ve learned that you can’t simply subtract a run or more from a pitcher’s ERA just because he pitches half his games at Coors Field. In fact, several pitchers, including Mike Hampton, performed BETTER at Coors field than away from it. Last year, the Houston Astros’ newest pitcher, Jason Jennings, fell into that category. So, using last years numbers, his ERA for Houston should be around 4.00. If you look at Jennings’ stats for the previous three years, his ERA will be about half a run better away from Coors but that is only good for an ERA of about 4.25. So, looking at those numbers I’ll let you decide whether you’d want Jennings as your team’s #2 pitcher.

Update: I just found Kile’s split stats for his two seasons with the Rockies. His ERA was nearly 1.5 and 2.0 runs better AWAY from Coors than in it for his two season with the Rockies. It would certainly appear that Coors field had a negative impact on his ERA. However, Kile appears to be the only pitcher who’s stats support the idea that Jennings will be a drastically better pitcher away from Colorado. I’m still digging into the stats but I’ll post more when I have it.

 

Trade Report: Astros and Rockies Deal Pitchers

ESPN.com is reporting that the Houston Astros have acquired starting pitcher Jason Jennings from the Colorado Rockies. The Astros will receive Jennings and pitcher Miguel Asencio for center fielder Willy Taveras along with pitchers Taylor Burchholz and Jason Hirsh.

The Astros found themselves needing to add a starter after Andy Pettitte decided to return to the New York Yankees and a trade for White Sox starter Jon Garland fell through.

ESPN.com summarizes the involved players’ performances like this :

   Jennings, who was born in Dallas, was 9-13 with a 3.78 ERA last
season for the Rockies. He will make $5.5 million in 2007 and is
eligible to become a free agent after next season. He is Colorado’s
career leader in victories (58) and shutouts (three).

Taveras hit .278 with one home run and 30 RBI this year. He had
a 30-game hitting streak that ended Aug. 29.

   Buchholz, whose medical reports may have caused the White Sox to
back off a trade, was 6-10 with a 5.89 in 19 starts and three
relief appearances. He was demoted to Triple-A Round Rock for a
spell and made seven starts there.

   Hirsh, a 24-year-old prospect who is highly rated, made his
major league debut last season and was 3-4 with a 6.04 ERA in nine
starts.

   Asencio was 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA in three games with the Rockies
last season and 8-7 with a 5.03 ERA in 16 starts and 22 relief
appearances at Triple-A.

Jennings is currently slotted as the Astros’ #2 starter behind Roy Oswalt and that is something that would make me a bit nervous if I were an Astro fan. While Jennings had a fantastic year last year, turning in a sub 4 ERA
while pitching half his games in the thin air of Colorado, this was his first year with an ERA under 5 since 2002 and his career ERA is 4.74. Sure, he might have turned the corner and become a much better pitcher last year, however, he could just as easily revert to the 5.51 ERA pitcher he was in 2004. Having that type of uncertainty in your number 2 starter is less than ideal and that’s before we even look at who the Astros gave up.

The Rockies on the other hand traded away a pitcher they were unlikely to resign after next year while he is at his highest value. By giving up a year of Jennings’ services, the Rockies gained three major league ready players. So, which team got the better end of this deal? As usual, only time will tell. At first blush, though, I’d have to chalk this one up to the Rockies.

As usual… time will tell.

Update: In response to this post over at Hot Stove and Beyond (you should add it to your reading list if it’s not already on it), I dove into Jennings’ stats a bit more. Here’s what I found:

I realize you (along with many Astro fans) want to feel good about this deal, however, I have to pick on your stats.

First of all, this was Jennings first year with a sub 4 ERA, EVER.
His average ERA over the last three years (including his career best
year last year) is still 4.71. That’s not exactly #2 material.

Also, you claim that leaving Coors will drop his ERA by a ********
1.5 runs. Well last year, Jennings actually pitched BETTER at Coors,
than away from it. By almost HALF a run. Granted his career numbers are
about .4 runs better on the road, but you either have to go with his
numbers from last year and add half a run for a projected ERA right at
4.25 or go with his career numbers and subtract .4 runs from his
average which would put him slighty higher than 4.25.

So, I’d say your new #2 pitcher is probably going to have an ERA around 4.25 NOT 3.25.

 

Rumor: Yankees Add Pettitte

ESPN.com is reporting that free agent pitcher Andy Pettitte and the relatively quiet New York Yankees have agreed to terms on a one year deal. From ESPN.com: "The left-hander and the Yankees have reached an agreement on a one-yeardeal that will pay him $16 million in 2007 with a player option for
2008, sources close to the negotiations told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster
Olney on Friday."

Pettitte had been mulling retirement or a return to the Houston Astros, however, it appears the 34 year old simply couldn’t say no to donning the pinstripes once again. Pettitte spent the first 9 years of his career with the Yanks, winning 4 World Series forever endearing himself to the New York fans.

Pettitte returned to his home town of Houston to pitch for the Astros in 2004 and was able to convince his longtime friend and fellow Texas native, Roger Clemens, to follow. As word of Pettitte’s possibly signing spreads, look for plenty of commentary on how this will affect Clemens and the Astros’ attempts to re-sign the Rocket. My guess is that he’ll once again "retire" before being lured out again for a stretch run with either Boston or the Yankees (Sorry Astro fans).