Thursday thoughts and a mid-week lightning round

Some suggest that Bud Norris’ latest start — one of his worst of the season — was somehow critical to his season…and the Astros’ season as well. Now, manager Bo Porter is hoping to somehow salvage Tuesday’s debacle by saving Norris for the All Star Game. With Yu Darvish headed to the disabled list, perhaps Bo knows. Is Norris an All Star?

Indeed, the Astros’ (ahem) ace has been brilliant at times, even dazzling! Take away those three of 19 starts he gave up six or more earned runs and he’s been absolutely spectacular. But make no mistake, one start shouldn’t change the season. And, one start — spectacularly good or horribly bad — won’t change the opinion of teams who may be interested in trading for him. They have enough data from the 19 starts this season and 116 over the past five to reach a conclusion of whether he’d make a difference on their team.

• •• ••• •• •

Speaking of making a difference, how much of an impact would Jed Lowrie have made on this current Astros’ team? Easy to look back and make a judgement in hindsight, but Lowrie has performed well with his new club in Oakland. He’s hitting .303 with a .372 OBP and .800 OPS. Would have fit nicely into the two-hole behind Altuve. Or even the third spot in the order, perhaps ahead of Jason Castro. But would he have made a huge difference, or would he be hitting .230 with the rest of the team?

The biggest question with Lowrie — at least for me — was his dependability. He’s never played more than 97 games in a season (2012), so the second half of the season will be critical for the player involved in Jeff Luhnow’s first trade.

• •• ••• •• •

How ’bout that Brett Wallace? After a 4-for-5 night Wednesday, are you ready to take back all those nasty words?  I’ve lost count if Wallace is on his third, fourth, fifth or sixth life with the big club, but he’s putting together perhaps his best stretch of games as an Astro. Which is fine, since Jonathan Singleton hasn’t found his stroke at Oklahoma City.

Let’s go out with a lightning round:

  • First base in 2014: Wallace, Singleton, Pena or someone else?
  • Bo Porter or Tony DeFrancesco?
  • Pitcher you’d rather see in Houston first: Jarred Cosart or Asher Wojciechowski? (Moot point now since Cosart was called up overnight.)
  • Astros’ MVP through the first half: Altuve, Castro, Norris, Veras or someone else?
  • Which of these players is not on a pace for 100 Ks this season: Chris Carter, Castro, Brandon Barnes, Matt Dominguez or J.D. Martinez?

11 comments on “Thursday thoughts and a mid-week lightning round

  1. Tough to comment on specific players because of the TV black hole this year. Did see Harrell vs Rangers and part of his “attitude” was he was getting squeezed by the ump in my opinion .
    Lowrie – if he only made 3-5 wins difference, then my opinion was to keep him. No one make a 20 win difference. (if you look at team WAR – 13-20 will get you into 1st place)
    1st base, Wallace & Singleton – if both can hit in 2014 ST. Still wish they had let Tony D continue after .500 record in Sept. MVP-Altuve. The only non 100 K hitter? this year will be the one in Bo’s doghouse and sitting on the bench.


  2. I wonder what Norris might do in a big game. He’s never had one. Must have been quite a few scouts watching him in STL on Tuesday might, a place he’s been dominant. Did the added attention get to him?

    If Lowrie was still with us, then we’d probably still have Frieman. Right now, a Wallace/Frieman platoon at first looks pretty good compared to our other options. But I need to see at least another month of Wallace before I can consider him well. That’s mentally well. I don’t know what to think about Cater. He’s done pretty much what he was brought here to do, but unless he’s hitting a homer, he’s really a liability in every other phase of the game. I want to see more athletic guys going forward.

    Singleton has got a ways to go before getting any consideration with the ML club in 2014. If I had to guess now, I’d say Wallace, but again, who knows what he’ll be doing in a few weeks.

    The cracks in Bo Porter’s game get bigger as the team swoons in summer. But I don’t see Tony D. having a more positive impact over a whole season either. This really is a terrible team.

    Bring me Wojoski. I’ve been clamoring for him for some time while other guys have been mentioned more frequently. Why Cosart now, when he’s been walking guys at a faster pace than Harrell, who leads the league in that category? We might see Peacock first though.

    The Astros do not have an MVP, although I’d give it to Veras if forced to make a decision.

    If all five guys get the at bats, then all five will strike out 100 plus times. But the Barnes experiment might be ending soon. He’s hitting, or not hitting, more along the lines of what would be expected from him. And can they really keep Springer in OKC until September?


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  4. Thoughts:
    – Norris – it looked as though he sprained or twisted his ankle at one point early in his last start – not sure if that affected him or not. He has been very solid for the vast majority of his starts.
    – Lowrie would have helped, but like you say – without much protection in the lineup – don’t know how much and what would it bring you – 2 or 3 more wins?
    – Wallace – It is hard to remember that he got sent down after 7 games (yes they were terrible putrid games – but only 7 is not long enough to be a slump). He has been great since coming back up 10 runs, 3 HR and 11 RBI in 13 games – OPS over 1. Baseball is a streaky game and he will slump again – but hopefully not so extreme. Right now he has to look attractive in the trade market.
    – First base in 2014? Singleton – 60 % chance, Wallace -30%, Other – 10%
    – Bo or Tony D – How about Tony LaRussa? (I can dream can’t I) Frustrating again last night – pulls Lyles early (in my opinion) so Wright can give up the game winning 2 run dinger. He does not have a lot to work with – but keeps making poor moves – Sandy – I’m moving slowly towards your side.
    – MVP – I think Norris has been the best player – unusual for me to me to pick a pitcher – but he has been good.
    – I would not be surprised if they are all on pace for 100+ – Barnes might be marginal because he has the least ABs.
    – I’ll comment on Cosart in your other column.


    • Dan, don’t get me wrong. I think in time Bo could become a good manager. I would like to see him as a bench coach, perhaps under LaRussa, I like to dream too.
      This team needs a manager with some managerial experience.


    • I’m with you Sandy – I think Bo will improve with time – just don’t like some of his thought processes right now. His starters are better than his bullpen – he should give them a chance to work out of troubles.


      • Brings back a memory from 1997. Larry Dierker was criticized about leaving a pitcher in too long, his reply ” I didn’t have a better choice”.


  5. – First Base: Enter spring training with Wallace having the job to lose. Let him know Singleton is on his heels.
    – Porter – I want to see him with some better talent. Sometimes he makes the “right” move but the players inability to execute kills him. The HR by Wright was inexcusable last night. That’s how you lose 100+ games.
    – Cosart – Like daveb, I want to see Wojo as he seems like a more complete pitcher, but Cosart is supposed to have electric stuff. Our fans NEED something exciting.
    – MVP – I actually want to say Dominguez, but his inability to take walks and get on base drops him. I know Altuve suffers from the same problem, but he makes up for it with better placement of balls in play. This would be hands-down a vote for Altuve had his defense not cost them a few too many games for my taste. Note that Castro is disqualified for defensive reasons as well.
    – Not 100 K’s – Dominguez is slightly under the pace for 100, but could easily still hit it. Carter is actually on pace for over 200 K’s. Castro, Barnes, and JDM are all closer to 100 than Dominguez. Castro will eclipse it easily. Barnes will pass it unless Maxwell comes back to kick him out of the lineup. This could be said for JDM as well – he hits 100 easily unless they pull him from the lineup or send him to OKC.

    Unless Pena is traded, he’ll hit 100 K’s as well. Altuve is still in striking distance of that, but probably comes up short. Wallace and Maxwell have a long way to go, but given another 200 AB each might both hit it. I think the only guys on the club safe from having fewer than 100 K’s are the pitchers and platoon guys (Cedeno, Crowe, Elmore, Marwin, etc).


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