Results tagged ‘ Astros ’

Statement by Ed Wade

In mid-February of this year, we began contract negotiations with the agent for free agent pitcher Shawn Chacon.  During those negotiations, the player’s agent stated on more than one occasion that Chacon had offers from other teams, but that none of them were willing to give the player an opportunity to be a starting pitcher.  We made it clear to the agent -and in a subsequent conversation with Chacon–that we were prepared to bring him to Spring Training and give him an opportunity to compete for a spot in our starting rotation.

At no time did we give any assurances that he would be inserted into the rotation for the entire season.  Under those conditions, Chacon signed a one-year contract with the Astros on February 20.  I’ll invite you to go back and read the statements made by both the club at the player at that time regarding what the understanding was regarding the opportunity to start.

Chacon won a job in the Astros starting rotation and opened the season with five solid starts, compiling a 0-0 record and a 2.45 ERA.  However, beginning with his start on April 30 and ending with his start on June 19, Chacon had made 10 starts, compiling a 2-3 record and an earned run average of 6.66.  In his last four starts, his record was 0-3 with an ERA of 9.35.

On Sunday of this week, prior to our game against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Cecil Cooper met with Chacon and informed him that he was being moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen.  I was not present for the meeting, but was in the clubhouse both pre-game and post-game.  The player made no effort to speak with me and gave short, profane responses to media questions regarding his removal from the rotation.

On Sunday afternoon, Chacon’s agent called Assistant General Manager David Gottfried to discuss the move and informed David that Chacon wanted to be traded to a team that would allow him to start.  David informed the agent that our intention was to have Chacon play a meaningful role in our bullpen with the eventual possibility of returning to the starting rotation, depending upon his performance.

On Tuesday morning, I returned a call from the agent when he again stated Chacon’s desire to be traded to a team where he could start and I repeated what David Gottfried had stated two days earlier.   

Following batting practice on Wednesday evening, I was on my way to the home clubhouse when a member of the media stopped me to tell me that Chacon had informed him that he wanted to be traded to a team where he could start and said that his agent had informed us of his desire.  Chacon also told the reporter that he would accept his unconditional release.  I went on camera with the reporter and restated our position that we had no interest in trading him because we felt that he could help us in a meaningful bullpen role and eventually earn a spot back in our rotation.

Following the interview, I went into Cecil Cooper’s office in the clubhouse.  Present were Coop and pitching coach Dewey Robinson.  I told them of the media conversation and said that I would like to have a meeting with Chacon to clear the air.  At that point, Dewey Robinson informed me that he had asked Chacon to throw a bullpen session during the game on Tuesday night and that Chacon had ignored him.  Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning with Jose Valverde pitching to close out the game, Chacon got up in the bullpen on his own and began throwing.  Based upon this information, I was even more convinced that a meeting was necessary, and I asked Coop to arrange it while I returned upstairs to retrieve something from my brief case.

When I returned to Coop’s office, he and Dewey were still present.  Coop informed me that Chacon refused to come into his office for a meeting, telling Coop that he had nothing to say to him and that he had no interest in coming into the office.  I asked Coop if he knew where Chacon was and Coop responded that he was in the lunch room.

I proceeded to the lunch room and asked Chacon several times if I could speak to him.  On each occasion, he refused to meet with me, finally telling me that anything I had to say to him could be said right there.  At that point, I told him that if he wanted me to address him in front of his teammates I would, and I told him that he needed to look at himself in the (bleeping) mirror.  Up to that point, contrary what was previously stated, I had not raised my voice to the player, cursed the player and had not made any defamatory remarks toward the player. Chacon responded with profane and threatening remarks and got up from his seat. He moved in front of me until we were standing chest-to-chest and then shoved me to the ground.  When I attempted to get to my feet, he shoved me a second time, at which point players and coaches intervened.  After order was restored, I told him that he was suspended and he eventually left the clubhouse.  I then held a short meeting with the players.

Along with the incidents that I’ve already covered, I believe it’s also important to point out that on Sunday, June 1, Chacon started a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee in which he allowed two hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and four runs in the first inning.  When Dewey Robinson went to the mound to settle him down, he turned his back on Dewey and refused to acknowledge his presence.  When the inning was completed, Chacon disappeared into the clubhouse.  Cecil Cooper entered the clubhouse with the intention of calming him down, but was eventually forced to remove him from the game.  Chacon was fined by Coop for those actions.

As an organization, we believe that we have fairly treated the player.  His pattern of disrespect and defiance to me, the manager, the pitching coach and most importantly the organization led us to this decision.

Shawn Chacon released by Astros

The team has requested waivers on Chacon for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.

If he isn’t claimed by another major league team by Monday, waivers will expire and his contract will be terminated without pay. 

Press conference today at 3:30 PM

The Astros are calling for a press conference today at 3:30 PM CT. Well keep you posted.

Nobody wins in Chacon mess

Shawn Chacon has always been a volatile pitcher. The Astros gave him an opportunity. He proved to be efficient enough during Spring Training, and he got a spot in the rotation.

His performance in the last month or so hasn’t been the best, that’s why the manager considered moving him to the bullpen, maybe in an effort to ease pressure off him.

What happened last night and ended up with Chacon being suspended indefinitely, his request to be traded and maybe his end as a professional baseball player (and he’s well aware of that) is definitely beyond me.

This is what Chacon told the Houston Chronicle, and has been quoted by several news services:

According to Chacon, he was in the dining room after batting practice when Cooper asked him to come to his office.

“I said, ‘What do you want to speak to me about?’ ” Chacon said. “He said, ‘We just want to talk to you.’ I said, ‘Anything you can say, you can say to me right here. I don’t want to go to the office.’ He looked at me, and I said, ‘There’s nothing for me to say to you guys.’ And I don’t think whatever they had to say to me they were going to make me happy. I didn’t want to get in a closed-room conversation.”

“I sat down to eat, and Ed Wade came to me and very sternly said, ‘You need to come with me to the office.’ I said, ‘For what? I don’t want to go to the office with you and Cooper.’ And I said, ‘You can tell me whatever you’ve got to tell me right here.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, you want me to tell you right here?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I’m not yelling. I’m calm.”

It deteriorated quickly afterward, according to Chacon.

“He started yelling and cussing,” Chacon said of Wade. “I’m sitting there, and I said to him very calmly, ‘Ed, you need to stop yelling at me. Then I stood up and said, ‘You better stop yelling at me.’ I stood up. He continued and was basically yelling and stuff and was like, ‘You need to (expletive) look in the mirror.’ So at that point I lost my cool, and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him, because at that point I wanted to beat his (behind). Words were exchanged.”

Players quickly separated Wade and Chacon, who remembers being pulled away by outfielder Reggie Abercrombie.

I have never heard anything similar in my five years writing about the Astros. I can tell you that for certain.

I’ll let you make up your own minds about it. If you allow my two cents, I don’t know whether Wade crossed the line in his actions and words towards Chacon. Maybe he lost his patience with him. Let’s be honest, a baseball team is not precisely your five-year-old daughter’s tea party, whether you like it or not. Many have remembered stories of his alleged behavior during his tenure with the Phillies.

Chacon could have waited, kept quiet, you name it. Such violent behavior cannot be tolerated. If he was fed up with Wade’s tirade, there were other ways of dealing it. And it only makes it harder to believe in what he said. You cannot treat your boss that way.

Drayton McLane stood by Wade: “We can’t have anarchy,” McLane said that he told the players. “You can’t have rebellion. If (Chacon) disagreed with what Cecil wanted him to do, he should have had the courage to sit down and talk to him. He wouldn’t come in Cecil’s office.”

Nobody wins with such a shameful incident. Chacon will weigh questions about his behavior and why he can’t amend his ways; this episode is the latest on a series of tantrums and attitude (without mentioning his two positive test for marijuana use while being in the Minor Leagues). Wade will have to ask himself why he took such a risk, that ended up coming back to him like a boomerang.

Leaving Arlington

capt.b42d556d1fcf4e58ad729af687f49d2c.astros_rangers_baseball_arl107.jpgThese have been some very good days to keep an eye on your Astros, haven’t they? Many things are floating around our heads after this final game against the Rangers:

– It looks like the Rangers will always pound the Astros no matter what. It was different today, though. It was to be expected to see one or two losses in a row for the ‘Stros after this latest roll. We don’t think losing will become a new pattern in the near future.

– Lance Berkman, Lance Berkman, Lance Berkman. He finished this game very near the .400 mark (just one tiny point). This run by the Houston first baseman has been unbelievable. He has always been a top-notch ballplayer, but what he’s done these past few days defies description. It’s a 17-game hitting streak now, folks. You’ll see something we wrote on him very soon at Cronicas de los Astros, the Spanish-language official magazine.

– We hope Roy Oswalt’s pain is not an indication of anything too big. Oswalt has been a factor of stability among a very shaky starting rotation. And there are a few days left for Wandy’s return.

– José Valverde has picked up the pace. Thank God. This team is not Berkman alone, they have  “a truck full of lumber” as they say where I come from. But the pitching is always a reason for concern.

– Some interesting series we have coming up. Astros, Cubs, a division rivalry, Berkman on fire. What else can you ask for? The Juicebox should be packed.

Berkman NL Player of the Week

Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros has been named Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week for the period ending April 27th. Bank of America, the Official Bank of Major League Baseball, is the presenting sponsor of the National League and American League Player of the Week Awards, which reflect Bank of America’s long-standing tradition of promoting and recognizing higher standards of accomplishment.

Berkman led the National League with 12 RBI and a 1.136 slugging percentage and tied for the N.L. lead with four home runs and 25 total bases. The 32-year-old first baseman hit .455 (10-22), including one double and one triple, and recorded a .517 on-base percentage. On April 24th at Cincinnati, the four-time All-Star went 3-for-3, including a three-run home run and a double. The home run was the 18th of his career at Great American Ball Park, giving him the most for any opposing player at the park since its 2003 opening. The Rice University product hit two homers against St. Louis on Saturday. Lance recorded three multi-hit games and four multi-RBI games and hit safely in six of seven games en route to capturing his third career weekly award.

Other nominees this past week included Berkman’s teammate Miguel Tejada (.414, 1 HR, 7 RBI); Washington’s John Lannan (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 SO); Arizona’s Brandon Webb (2-0, 2.25 ERA, 12 SO); Colorado’s Garrett Atkins (.344, 3 HR, 9 RBI); Philadelphia’s Pat Burrell (.375, 2 HR, 8 RBI), Chase Utley (.379, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and Jayson Werth (.323, 4 HR, 7 RBI); Cincinnati’s Edwin Encarnacion (.357, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Brandon Phillips (.321, 4 HR, 8 RBI) and Edinson Volquez (2-0, 1.29 ERA, 17 SO); James Loney (.300, 8 RBI), Russell Martin (.524, 3 2B, 3 RBI) and Brad Penny (2-0, 2.77 ERA, 6 SO) of the Dodgers; Aramis Ramirez (.296, 2 HR, 8 RBI) and Carlos Zambrano (2-0, 0.64 ERA, 9 SO) of the Cubs; Florida’s Hanley Ramirez (.273, 3 HR, 4 RBI), Dan Uggla (.393, 4 RBI) and Josh Willingham (.458, 2 HR, 7 RBI); Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady (.296, 4 2B, 8 RBI) and Paul Maholm (2-0, 1.20 ERA, 8 SO); Albert Pujols (.455, 6 RBI) and Adam Wainwright (1-0, 2.81 ERA, 12 SO) of the Cardinals; Atlanta’s Matt Diaz (.391, 3 RBI); Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder (.304, 3 HR, 7 RBI); Luis Castillo (.429, 2 RBI) of the Mets; San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez (.296, 2 HR, 8 RBI); and San Francisco’s Fred Lewis (.393, 2 HR, 5 RBI).

Tourneau, the world’s largest watch store, will award Lance Berkman with a luxury Swiss Timepiece, suitably engraved, in recognition of his accomplishments as Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week.

OK. Tejada fudged his age. So what?

The news is already making the rounds on MLB.com, Chron.com and even on those emails Roto League owners subscribe to for their breaking news.

Miguel Tejada lied about his age ever since he was signed by the Oakland A’s back in 1993, when he was signed by then scout and current Dominican Sports Minister, Hall of Famer Juan Marichal.

So Tejada wasn’t really born on May 25, 1976, as originally stated even on the Astros media guide, but two years before, in 1974. That means Tejada will turn 34 next month.

Has Tejada something to be ashamed of? Not really. It’s true that he wasn’t a hundred percent truthful when he turned in his data, and it’s totally true that he is not the first nor will be the last Latin ballplayer to do something like that.

José de Jesús Ortiz just stated in his blog something I will have to repeat. You have to go to our countries, see the poverty and misery these kids grow up with. They play with balls made of cardboard and duct tape, and hit it with broomsticks turned into bats. As a matter of fact, Tejada’s story is quite well documented and you can look it up.

You try to picture yourself with that choice, of a ticket on your way out of that misery and few opportunities, and into a life of glory and economical stability. Then you’ll realize fudging about your age is not such a bad thing after all. Our Latin baseball history is full of similar cases. Even cases of players who were thought of being born on a different month just because in the Spanish Language when stating a date the structure is of day/month/year, instead of month/day/year as used in the English language.

Tejada himself would have been the one confessing the truth to Houston GM Ed Wade, when he realized a new era was about to start with the Astros, and we can only applaud him for that. I don’t want to sound like singing Tejada’s praises one note too many, but if there’s a baseball player loved in the Dominican Republic because of his actions, is precisely the shortstop born in Baní. He has turned the blessings he has received through baseball into huge sums of charity work. He has never stopped playing in his country. He has not forgotten his humble beginnings.

So don’t think Tejada is looking for your compassion by excusing his age fudging with his story of poverty. Because it’s the whole truth. And there’s nothing else to it.

PS: Wow. Wikipedia is fast.

Closing in on a dilemma

311xInlineGallery.jpgEarly today, everyone who greeted me, called me, even those who sent me SMS or emails, said hi to me with two words.

José Valverde.

I believe everyone remembered me about what happened at Philly on Tuesday. A friend of mine said he could only think of my face watching that meltdown. Why describe it, right? The ballgame was going 3-0 Astros. Shawn Chacon pitched one heck of a ballgame. Obviously, Cecil Cooper relied on his closer to finish things off.

But finishing things off was the least thing for Valverde. The Phils took advantage and ended up with a walk-off victory, leaving the ‘Stros looking for answers.

Talk radio was almost explosive today. Many people trying to make sense of what happened. Many will tell you Valverde’s amazing 2007 was a fluke, so he’s returning to his usual, iffy self.

Tonight, Roy Oswalt did what he’s expected of him. Pitched wonders. Cooper went this time with Doug Brocail. A perfect excuse: Valverde threw too much last night, the guy’s arm must be tired. The experiment ended up nicely. Brocail got his first save in approximately 3 years. Astros win.

Tuesday was Valverde’s second blown save this season. Let’s be clear about this. This is just beginning. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played. Valverde will bounce back. I can almost assure you that.

But it is also true that if Valverde keeps on failing, now the Astros have something they haven’t had in ages: Options. Cooper has chips to gamble this time around. That makes me breathe a bit easier tonight.

So bad that talking and worrying so much about Valverde will make us stop thinking about what a great ballplayer Michael Bourn is, and how great starting pitching for this team has become, instead of being that huge burden they were supposed to carry.

Welcome home

r1901214050.jpgWe’ve heard a lot about the Astros’ initial woes. That’s our topic for a feature at astrosdehouston.com, the official Spanish-language website of your Houston Astros. For those of you already swearing to tune in to Grey’s Anatomy or whatever else is on TV, I have a message for you:

Don’t panic yet. There’s a very long way to go.

In fact, this isn’t the Houston team that was destined for the cellars last year; not even the 2005 team which rode all the way to the World Series, with pitching so good they could bear a lack of hitting so bad I wouldn’t even want to think about it again. And they were NL champs with that.

You can see all Astros starters have had at least very decent outings. Some even could be considered brilliant. That was the case tonight. Wandy Rodriguez was again at home, and you could feel it. Heck, he has even pitched great on the road.

7.1 solid innings, and he had his teammates’ support to back him up this time. Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and J.R. Towles went yard. All Astros runs were scored courtesy of the good old homerun.

Jose Valverde’s missteps were erased with a Miguel Tejada walkoff homer. Yes, you read that right. The Dominican-born player couldn’t have dreamt with a better welcome to Minute Maid Park, turning the tables for good against the Cardinals.

Fans can’t say they didn’t get their money’s worth tonight. It was a very entertaining ballgame to watch, defined in the most dramatic way possible. They have not won the World Series, very far from it. They’re celebrating their season is starting to show different shades and colors, instead of gray.

All places set

I was wrong. sorry about that.

I thought that, despite a not-so-stellar Spring Training, Woody Williams was going to survive the last round of cuts. But that wasn’t the case.

Chris Sampson will be No. 5 of the starting rotation. Besides, the somewhat controversial idea of keeping three catchers in the roster will not be kept. Humberto Quintero was sent to Triple-A, while J.R. Towles and Brad Ausmus remain on the big team.

Williams was unceremoniously released. It is expected for the Houston-native hurler to call it quits after 15 MLB seasons.

Against Woody we can mention his age, his Spring outing and, above all else, his 15-8 record of 2007.

His teammates are not really pleased.

“Fourteen years in the big leagues, you have one bad year…you can’t really go on that,” Roy Oswalt said. “A lot of people have a bad year.

“I don’t think it’s right for Spring Training to be judged. But that’s [management’s] job. They’re trying to put a team on the field and I guess they’re trying to go a different way.”

A whole different case could be made for Quintero. The Maracaibo, Venezuela native really made his best effort, he shed a few pounds and proved himself at his top game. But in the end, Cecil Cooper didn’t go through with the three-catchers combo.

Venezuela-born seasoned infielder Tomas Perez made the cut though.

It’s true, this is a different path for the Astros. A road never travelled before, and a 180-degree departure from last year.

Or maybe, from the past 5 or 6 years in management style terms.