September 2007

B-G-O! B-G-O!

BgoWhen the 2007 season started, we knew it was going to be a year of huge changes within the Astros organization. But we never thought we’d see so many twists and turns.

New manager, new GM, and now Craig Biggio, after 20 seasons of achieving every imaginable milestone, bids farewell as an active player.

A crowd of 43,000-plus said goodbye to the Great Biggio today at Minute Maid Park. It was a moment filled with emotions, slowly building up during this final series against the Atlanta Braves, until today’s heartfelt ceremony.

Biggio thanked the crowd. With a tip of his hat, the ceremonies ended and the baseball started.

Many feelings and sentiments were echoed in the many banners and signs fans displayed at Minute Maid. "Biggio began playing when I was 5, today I’m 25 and he will be my hero forever". "Thanks for the ride, Craig. "Biggio, from H-Town to C-Town".

I don’t believe there’s a single Astros fan in this world who doubts Biggio’s Hall of Fame credentials, being the only MLB player to reach more than 600 doubles, 250 home runs, 3000 hits and 400 steals.

And despite all of this, there will always be the class displayed on and off the field, his commitment to social causes and the way he formed the Astros identity, alongside Jeff Bagwell.

We’ll sure miss the Great Biggio a huge deal. And we’ll always thank him for so many good memories.

We anticipated this moment and we knew it was going to happen, but no one and nothing made us ready for it. We admit it. Fans felt many things, and they passed it along to us.

—-

With Biggio’s farewell, the Astros 2007 ends. A huge thank you for those who read us throughout the season in our blogs, our articles and for logging on to astros.com and astrosdehouston.com. It sure was a year in which our Stros didn’t live up to expectations, but never dull and we shared plenty of great moments we’ll always treasure. Thanks for those who supported us, and to all of you for reading us.

We’ll take a short break, but we’ll return very shortly.

Reading this will make your head spin

Capt532920e179994ff1b6e7ab6465a5acacastrThanks to Media Relations for the notes!

Here’s some interesting tidbits, including a few Astros franchise records, from tonight’s 18-1 win over St. Louis:

18 runs, 23 hits for the Astros:

* The 18 runs are the most for the Astros since the 18 on August 26, 2003 vs. the Dodgers.  Houston has scored 19 in a game twice (May 11, 1999 vs. PIT, June 25, 1995 vs. the Cubs).

* The 17-run win (Astros 18, Cardinals 1) is the largest margin of victory in franchise history (old record was 16, accomplished twice – 4/29/74 vs. the Cubs – 18-2; 6/7/67 at the old Busch Stadium, 17-1 over the Cardinals).

* The 23 hits are a season high and tied for the 3rd-highest total in Houston franchise history…23 hits are also the most for Houston in 40 years, since the 23 on that same June 7, 1967 win at the old Busch Stadium vs. the Cardinals. (The club record is 25, twice).

* The 18 runs are also the most scored by Houston in a game vs. St. Louis…the Astros previously scored 17 runs three times.

* Two of the six highest single-game hit totals in Astros franchise history (23 tonight, 22 last Sunday) have happened in a five-day span from Sunday through tonight.

J.R. Towles – 4×4, two doubles, one home run, and a club-record eight RBI.

* The 8 RBI for Towles sets a franchise record.  It’s also tied for the 3rd-highest total by a rookie in a single game since 1957 (with five others) and the most for any Major League rookie since James Loney drove in 9 for the Dodgers on Sept. 28, 2006 at Colorado.

* The four Astros who had driven in 7 runs in a game were Jeff Bagwell (twice, Aug. 13, 2000 at Philly and July 7, 2001 at Kansas City), Pete Incaviglia (6/14/92 vs. SF), and Rafael Ramirez (8/29/89 at the Cubs).

* Other than Loney, the only other Major League rookie (at least since 1957) with more RBI in a single game was Fred Lynn, who drove in 10 on June 18, 1975 for the Red Sox in a 15-1 win at Detroit.  Lynn won the AL Rookie of the Year and the MVP that season (near-unanimous in both cases)

* Stating the obvious, the franchise-record 8 RBI also sets the Astros rookie record, which was 6, accomplished twice (Chris Truby, 8/6/2000 vs. Montreal; Russ Johnson, 8/7/1999 at the Cubs).

* Towles’ 8 RBI is also the 2nd-most in the Majors in 2007, trailing only the 10 by Garret Anderson on 8/21 for the Angels vs the Yankees.

* The 8 RBI is the most for a catcher in a game since Ivan Rodriguez drove in nine on April 13, 1999 for Texas at Seattle (tied for 2nd-most since 1957 for a catcher).

* The home run in the 9th inning was the first of Towles’ Major League career.

* Towles’ 3 extra-base hits also ties a club rookie record, accomplished several times and most recently by Luke Scott on Sept. 19, 2006 vs. the Reds.

Also:

* Cody Ransom scored five runs, tying the franchise record for most runs scored in a game (accomplished four times, most recently by Chris Burke on June 13, 2006 at the Cubs).

* Houston rookies Josh Anderson and J.R. Towles combined to go 7×10 with 11 RBI in the win.  Anderson is hitting .444 (16×36) during the month, while Towles is at .412 (7×17).

* Wandy Rodriguez’ 8.0 innings pitched were his most in a road game, and his previous high was 7.0 on April 26 of this season at Pittsburgh.

Latin flavor en la calle…

Spanish_festival_032A big gracias to all of you who attended the Hispanic Heritage Festival this Sunday. Lots of fun, lots of color and plenty of latin flavor. I couldn’t attend, but judging from the pictures I’ve seen so far, the mood was great. Music bands, food… I wish I can spend some time there next year. It was a hit and I’m sure it will happen again.

Will we have a new Astros GM tomorrow? 11 candidates have been interviewed so far, and the answers seem to have pleased Drayton McLane and Tal Smith so far. So, there won’t be a second round. Let’s see what happens…

Luke Scott is being announced by the Magallanes team from the Venezuelan Winter League as their main attraction for the upcoming season. Scott would repeat with Magallanes after a breakthrough season two years ago.

Finally some good news, also from the Venezuelan League. Caribes de Anzoategui will play this October. The bickering has been put aside (at least for the time being). There are still some issues to solve, but the final announcement will be made Tuesday. I’m really happy about this.

So much stuff. So little time.

There are times in which you have so much stuff to talk about, you simply don’t know where to start. It might be unbelievable, but today is one of such days.

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– It’s true that the chances for the Astros to advance to the postseason are very remote. However, new manager Cecil Cooper is trying to infuse a new mood into the clubhouse. Of course, the losses are still there. But the job is being done. Talent is being evaluated, and that has a lot to do with this particular edition of September callups. This is for the long stretch, not a sprint; so we’ll have to be a bit patient. It seems like things are going the right way, though.

– Interviews for finding a new GM have begun. Names are being tossed from inside (Ricky Bennett, head of Player Development) and outside (former Expos GM Jim Beattie, reports say the Phillies’ Ruben Amaro Jr. is also in the mix) the organization. This interview process will be a bit long. They really need a VERY creative person, I’d say.

– We hope Matt Albers and Troy Patton keep on pitching well for the rest of the season. In their arms rest a lot of our hopes for a better 2008. It’s great to see Brandon Backe back. He was missed.

– It’s time for Felipe Paulino and Juan Gutierrez to show us what they’re made of. They must not waste this chance.

Lucati_andrea_20060402_baseball_ponzano_
– We’ve seen an interesting baseball movement going on in Italy. It has caught MLB’s eye, and they have set up an Academy in that European nation. As a product of those efforts, the Astros have signed RHP Andrea Lucati, who belongs to the Ponzano Veneto team. Lucati’s signature has caused headlines big and small in Italy, going from the TV giant RAI to local dailies, and of course, it has been featured in the Italian Baseball and Softball Association Website. Lucati will remain in Italy until his High School promotion, and we’ll get to see him next year in Kissimmee. Reports say the 17-year-old already owns a 90-MPH fastball. Hopefully, this will mean some increase in the interest Italians have in baseball (which is far from being a mainstream sport. Very far), and why not, they will start to follow him in the Astros organization. As a descendant of Italians, I can only be happy about this news. Benvenuto e complimenti ad Andrea!

– I have received some very bad news today. Caribes de Anzoategui, a team from the Venezuelan baseball league, might disappear tomorrow. A power struggle between its stockholders has no solution as of now, and tomorrow will be a decisive day. This saddens me, not just because of the fan base which was hard for Caribes to built, but for its employees, which we know, respect and appreciate, and for the talent this team has showcased in its almost two decades of existence. The list is scary. Magglio Ordo˝ez, Victor Martinez, Carlos Zambrano, Fernando Nieve, just to name a few. Carlos Lee worn the Caribes jersey while he played in Venezuela.

Caribes and its Chico Carrasquel stadium was the place in which yours truly learned to love baseball, then moved on to the pressbox, and learned the craft of writing, interviewing, keeping score, and basically, living and breathing baseball. That was where I fell in love with baseball for life. I feel that, if they take Caribes away from us, a huge piece of my life will cease to exist.