ON THE FIELD
The Astros have added six players to the mix since Nov. 3, including IF Brian Bixler (waiver claim) and five minor league free agents (all with invites to Major League Spring Training): OFs Travis Buck, Brad Snyder and Nick Stavinoha, and IFs Scott Moore and Joe Thurston...36 current Astros Major Leaguers and minor leaguers are currently participating in Winter Leagues in Arizona and the Caribbean: 16 position players and 20 pitchers.
Yesterday, the Astros announced the signing of IF Scott Moore...Moore, 27, a left-handed hitting infielder, spent his entire 2011 season at Triple A Iowa in the Cubs organization, where he hit .295 (107x363) with nine home runs and 53 RBI in 123 games.
Over the Nov. 12-13 weekend, the Astros announced the signings of OF Brad Snyder and IF Joe Thurston...the left-handed hitting Snyder hit .290 in 102 games at Triple A Iowa in 2011 with 11 home runs and 57 RBI...the left-handed hitting Thurston, 32, spent virtually the entire 2011 season at Triple A New Orleans, where he hit .300 (136x453) in 126 games with 13 home runs, 59 RBI and 12 stolen bases.
On Nov. 9, the Astros signed OF Travis Buck and IF-OF Nick Stavinoha...Buck, 27, spent the 2011 season with the Cleveland Indians, where he hit .228 (34x149) in 50 games for the Major League club with two home runs and 18 RBI...Stavinoha, 29, was one of the top hitters in minor league baseball in 2011 while at Triple A Memphis, finishing T-1st in the Pacific Coast League in RBI with 109 and T-5th in home runs with 28, while posting a .270 average.
On Nov. 3, the Astros added IF Brian Bixler to their 40-man roster on a waiver claim from Washington...Bixler, 29, appeared in 79 games for the Nationals in 2011, hitting .205 (17x83) with a double, two triples and two RBI...he has seen most of his Major League time as a shortstop (51g) during his time with PIT and WSH.
THE BOYS OF WINTER:
Arizona Fall League: C Jason Castro, who’s recovering from knee surgery, has hits in four of his last five games, hitting .333 (5x15) in that time frame...he’s raised his average up to .242 (8x33) and owns a .381 OBP in 11 overall games...1B Kody Hinze has hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games and owns a .280 (21x75) average with three home runs, 15 RBI and a .372 OBP in 20 games.
Dominican Winter League: OF Brian Bogusevic has compiled a .296 (21x71) average with five doubles, two home runs and six RBI in 20 games for the Aguilas Cibaenas...IF Jimmy Paredes owns a .289 (24x83) average with four extra-base hits and 15 RBI in 24 games for the Gigantes del Cibao.
Venezuelan Winter League: 2B Jose Altuve has carried his regular-season success over into his offseason, leading all Astros winter ball players in average and hits (.400, 42x105)...he ranks second in the VWL in hitting and first in hits...he has multi-hit games in 15 of his 25 overall games and has done so in 9 of his last 12 contests...RHP Sergio Perez, originally a second-round pick in 2006, has gone 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA (9ER/33IP) in seven starts for the Tigres de Aragua...Perez tossed 5.0 scoreless frames in a no-decision last night and has not allowed more than two earned runs in six of his seven starts.
OVERSEAS: Astros right-handed pitcher Mark Melancon finished a successful trip to Taiwan last week while playing for the MLB All-Stars in a series of games against the Chinese Taipei national team...on the field, Melancon appeared in two games for the All-Stars, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings and earning one save...following the series, Melancon stayed in China to assist with instruction for MLB youth clinics held in Hong Kong and Beijing.
UPCOMING DATES: The date to set the Major League 40-man roster and to file reserve lists for all minor league levels is Nov. 18...the Baseball Winter Meetings will be held from Dec. 5-8 in Dallas, TX...the Rule 5 Draft will take place on the final day of the meetings, Dec. 8.
ARBITRATION DEADLINES: Nov. 23 at 11:00 p.m. CT is the deadline for a former club to offer salary arbitration to ranked Type B free agents in order to be eligible for compensation...the deadline for a player who declared free agency to accept an arbitration offer from their former club is Dec. 7 at 11:00 p.m. CT...the last date to tender contracts is 11:00 p.m. CT on Dec. 12...the Astros have two players eligible for arbitration: LHP J.A. Happ and C Humberto Quintero.
2011-12 OFFSEASON TRANSACTIONS: Nov. 16: Outrighted C Carlos Corporan off the 40-man roster...Nov 15: IF Scott Moore signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training...Nov 13: IF Joe Thurston signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training...Nov 12: OF Brad Snyder signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training...Nov 9: OF Travis Buck and IF-OF Nick Stavinoha signed to minor league contracts with invites to Major League Spring Training...Nov. 3: IF Brian Bixler claimed off waivers from Washington...Oct. 31: RHP Brandon Lyon, LHP Sergio Escalona, and C Jason Castro removed from the 60-Day DL...Oct. 30: SS Clint Barmes and OF Jason Michaels declare free agency...Oct. 28: C Craig Tatum claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles; OF Brandon Barnes re-signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training; Astros hire three amateur scouts: Tim Bittner (Mid-Atlantic), Gavin Dickey (South Texas), and John Martin (Central and North Florida)...Oct. 24: LHP Xavier Cedeno, RHP Alberto Arias, and RHP Jose Valdez re-signed to minor league contracts; Cedeno and Valdez invited to Major League Spring Training; Jon Matlack named Minor League Pitching Coordinator; Bryan Lambe hired as professional scout...Oct. 17: RHP Jose Valdez refuses minor league assignment, becomes free agent...Oct. 13: C J.R. Towles, RHP Alberto Arias, and RHP Jose Valdez outrighted off 40-man roster; RHP Alberto Arias removed from 60-day DL; C J.R. Towles to become free agent after World Series...Oct. 11: Astros agree to terms on one-year contracts for pitching coach Doug Brocail and hitting coach Mike Barnett...Oct. 7: RHP Lance Pendleton refuses minor league assignment, becomes free agent...Oct. 5: LHP Xavier Cedeno, RHP Blake King, and RHP Lance Pendleton outrighted off 40-man roster.
IN THE COMMUNITY
One of the Astros organizational goals is to make a positive difference in the community, a mission that spans the entire season and offseason.
AIAF HOSTS ANNUAL ALUMNI GOLF TOURNAMENT: On Nov. 9, the Astros In Action Foundation hosted its annual Alumni Golf Tournament at Wildcat Golf Club, and raised nearly $60,000 for the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park...the tournament featured alumni including, but not limited to: Bob Aspromonte, Kevin Bass, Enos Cabell, Larry Dierker, Phil Garner, Art Howe, John Hudek, Mike Jackson, Cliff Johnson, Scipio Spinks, Bob Watson, Brian Williams and Jimmy Wynn...Astros broadcasters Bill Brown, Jim Deshaies, Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond also competed in the tournament, while Hall of Fame Broadcaster Milo Hamilton served as the event emcee.
BOURGEOIS IN THE COMMUNITY: Astros outfielder and Houston-native Jason Bourgeois has stayed active in his local humanitarian efforts this offseason...earlier today, he teamed up with former teammate Michael Bourn to serve dinner to 100 adults and kids at the Fifth Ward Church of Christ in Houston...last Friday, Bourgeois hosted the first Annual Jason Bourgeois Youth Sports Golf Classic...the event, which took place at Hermann Park Golf Course, had 44 participants, including fellow Astro Bud Norris and Major Leaguers Brandon Allen (OAK) and Chris Young (ARI)...the event raised over $4,000 for Jason Bourgeois Youth Sports, Inc., a foundation that raises funds to purchase equipment and uniforms for inner-city youth baseball programs in Houston.
MINUTE MAID PARK EVENTS
While Minute Maid Park might not be hosting Major League Baseball games again until April, the stadium remains active in the offseason with special events and community outreach programs populating the venue on a near-nightly basis. Below is a recap of a few events that Minute Maid Park has played host to over the last couple weeks.
ASTROS HOST FEAST OF THANKS: On Saturday, the Astros welcomed approximately 50 hard-working families to their home, Minute Maid Park, for a Feast of Thanks...families were offered a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, games, family activities and autograph opportunities with pitcher Bud Norris and first base coach Bobby Meacham...each child also received an Astros goodie bag, and each family received a grocery bag of food for making their own Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of ConocoPhilllips Black Employee Network and the Houston Area Urban League...the Astros Feast of Thanks event, held in the Union Station lobby, was hosted at the beginning of national Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 12-20).
MINUTE MAID PARK HOSTS MAYOR PARKER’S VICTORY PARTY: Minute Maid Park’s historic Union Station played host to Mayor Annise Parker’s official electoral watch party on Nov. 8 when Parker was re-elected to her second term in office...more than 200 guests celebrated with Mayor Parker and her family...following the victory, Mayor Parker arrived to give her acceptance speech, which was carried live on all the 10:00 p.m. news programs.
TAYLOR SWIFT SELLS OUT STADIUM: Country music star and 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards Entertainer of the Year Taylor Swift performed in concert at Minute Maid Park on Nov. 5 in front of a sellout crowd of 40,295...other notable artists who performed that night were Adam Brand, David Nail, NeedtoBreathe and Nelly.