Houston Astros

Former Phillie Ken Giles demoted after cursing at Astros manager

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Former Phillie Ken Giles demoted after cursing at Astros manager

The Houston Astros have optioned reliever Ken Giles to Triple A Fresno, a night after he appeared to curse at manager A.J. Hinch when he was lifted from the game.

The Astros were up by four to start the ninth inning against Oakland on Tuesday night when Giles took over and gave up three straight singles, which cut the lead to 4-1.

Hinch came to the mound to take Giles out and the television broadcast caught the former Phillie appearing to curse at Hinch right after he walked by him on his way off the field.

It was the second major outburst of the year for the right-hander, who punched himself in the face as he left the mound after another bad performance earlier in the season.

The Phillies traded Giles to the Astros in 2015 for a haul of pitchers Vince Velasquez, Thomas Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer, Harold Arauz and former first overall pick Mark Appel.

Even with Giles' demotion, it's tough to say which team really won the trade. Giles has saved 61 games for the Astros but was wildly inconsistent during the team's 2017 World Series run, posting an uncharacteristic 11.74 ERA. His struggles have continued in 2018, as Giles has posted a 4.99 ERA in 34 appearances.

In parts of three seasons with the Astros, Giles' ERA has ballooned to 3.57, compared to 1.56 during his two seasons in red pinstripes. Still, Giles is just 27 years old and will surely be back in the majors at some point. How soon (and with what team) remains to be seen. Fortunately for the Astros, they can afford to send Giles down as a teaching lesson.

Houston went on to win Tuesday night's game 6-5 in 11 innings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ken Giles angrily punches himself in the face

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YES Network

Ken Giles angrily punches himself in the face

Ken Giles was always an intense dude.

With the Phillies, following a big out or save, he'd be so pumped up that he'd often hop off the mound and wear this fierce scowl on his face.

When a closer is zoned in, he's zoned in.

Like this …


(USA Today Images)


(AP Images)

Whether it was good or bad, Giles would show his emotions. Many remember the dugout confrontation he had with Ryne Sandberg and Bob McClure in 2015.

As a visitor, Giles returned to Citizens Bank Park last season with a boom box and some dance moves, somewhat jokingly (we think) getting himself ready out in the bullpen for a July game.

Has anything changed with Giles since he's gone to the Houston Astros?

Not really. He did win a World Series last season despite struggling with an 11.74 postseason ERA and ultimately losing his ninth-inning role amid the team's run.

If anything, though, Giles' intensity has actually gone up a notch.

Didn't think that was possible? For proof, here was his reaction Tuesday night to allowing four runs on 16 pitches in the Astros' 4-0 loss to the Yankees.

Yes, that is Giles punching himself in the face. Like actually punching his own face.

Listen, you've got to like his passion. You want players to be upset when they don't perform.

But socking yourself in the jaw? That might not help Giles tomorrow.

The 27-year-old had allowed just two runs in 10 innings (1.80 ERA) prior to Tuesday's outing. Maybe he felt a good thumping was needed in order to get back on track the next time he takes the mound.

Whatever works for those closers.

Phillies prospect Mark Appel stepping away from baseball

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Phillies prospect Mark Appel stepping away from baseball

Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick acquired by the Phillies from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade, is stepping away from baseball.

Four months after being removed from the Phils' 40-man roster, Appel is taking an "indefinite break."

"I don't know what the future holds. I'm pursuing other things, but also trying to become a healthy human," Appel told Bleacher Report.

"I'm 26, I have a Stanford degree, I have many interests beyond baseball, which I still love, but I have a lot of things I care about. I enjoy challenging my mind. My last four years in baseball have challenged my mind."

Appel's entire professional career has been a struggle. In five minor-league seasons, he had a 5.06 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, allowing nearly 10 hits per nine innings.

While he was in the Phillies' system, strike-throwing was a huge issue. In 122⅓ innings over two seasons on the Phils' farm, he walked 74 and struck out 94.

Appel, who missed most of 2016 after requiring elbow surgery, had consistent problems going deep into games, something that didn't sit well with an organization that has become increasingly focused on economy of pitches.

The Phillies acquired Appel from Houston on Dec. 12, 2015 along with Vince Velasquez, Tom Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Harold Arauz in exchange for Giles. At the time, it looked like a shrewd move for the Phils. Unfortunately, two years later, Appel is out of baseball and Velasquez is still very much a question mark, both from a health and efficiency standpoint.

As for Giles, he's a World Series champion. He pitched poorly in the playoffs but did have a 2.30 ERA with 34 saves in the regular season.

The Phillies pushed to acquire Appel in the Giles trade because of concerns over Velasquez's health history, per sources. The initial return package included Velasquez and young outfielder Derek Fisher, but because of the concerns with Velasquez, the Phils chose to fortify their return with more pitching. Appel was a prime change-of-scenery candidate, but the Phils swung and missed.

In two seasons with the Phillies, Velasquez has been limited to just 39 starts, going 10-13 with a 4.48 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He's had three stints on the disabled list and was shut down at the end of the 2016 season.

Eshelman has progressed through the Phils' farm system and could end up making some starts in the majors in 2018. Last season, he went 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts, 18 of which came at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Eshelman, whose calling card is his control, struck out 102 and walked just 18 in 150 innings.

As for Appel, barring a surprise comeback, he will go down as one of the biggest busts in recent history. To his credit, he seems to be mentally moving past that.