CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Free Blog Weekend and 3 reasons to keep Jose Altuve


Welcome to the weekend and a Free Blog Weekend!  With the All Star break just days away and the trade deadline only a couple of weeks out, let’s celebrate.

There are no Oswalts, Berkmans or Pences available to Jeff Luhnow, but the Astros may be active at the trade deadline for the fourth straight season.

The name “closest” to those icons is second baseman Jose Altuve. The diminuitive second baseman may not be a Jeff Kent and he certainly hasn’t shown Biggio stuff yet, but in his three-year tenure in Houston, he’s provided the only consistent production in lineups smitten with holes and .200 batting averages.

Here are three reasons not to trade him.

  • Morale. If the Astros move him at age 23, it could signal chaos in the organization. No one is safe. Is Jason Castro next? Maybe George Springer? Hey, maybe teams start calling about Jarred Cosart. No, frankly, trading the closest thing you have to the face of the organization at this point would simply send the wrong message.
  • And the replacement is… Yeah, right. No one is busting down the door. You see what happened when the Astros traded Jed Lowrie. How did that work out? Shouldn’t be the only reason not to trade a guy, but if that “hole” is plugged — and plugged well — why mess with it.
  • Part of the future. There is no doubt Altuve fits into the future. If he’s hit and performed consistently on this team, imagine his production on a team of players with similar abilities and contributions. He could be a regular .300 hitter, steal 40+ bases, hit 40 doubles every year.  Match him with a young shortstop and Springer in center and the Astros could be strong up the center for a decade.

I had written once that trading Altuve could bring riots in Houston. Probably a bit overstated, but this is one move that would absolutely be unsettling for a fan base already unsettled by a potential third straight 100-loss season.

Here are some other thoughts to get your blog brain rolling.

  • Have you noticed George Springer’s over 2013 stats? .315/.394/.559 with 26 HRs and 72 RBI. Hard to believe he’ll be in Oklahoma City much longer. Right?
  • Looks like Bo Porter’s decision to hold Bud Norris out of Sunday’s start in hopes of getting him added to the AL All Star team fell on deaf ears. Seems to be a no-go for Bud…and for Bo.
  • Seems to be a little disgruntlement with Porter. What’s your main beef?
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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

26 comments on “Free Blog Weekend and 3 reasons to keep Jose Altuve

  1. Astro45
    July 12, 2013

    My main beef with Porter is using interview time to point out deficiencies of his players. If you are the manager of a young team, that will get you some “attitudes.” Can you imagine what Bo would do if during an interview a player said, “Bo made a bone head move by going to the bullpen.” It may be factual, but ruins any chemistry on the team. Springer (and several other) prospects are having good years. If the Astros moved Norris, Harrell, Bedard, et. al – there are at least four (4) starters at CC and OKC that would be worth a look. Astros not going anywhere this year anyway.

    Like

  2. devin_
    July 12, 2013

    Jonathan Mayo has Singleton rated the #1 prospect among first basemen. He has Delino Deshields, Jr., rated the #2 prospect among second basemen. He has Carlos Correa the #4 prospect among SS. Unfortunately, only Singleton is close to the big leagues. Deshields is only in A ball.

    I’m not yet sold that Altuve will be the long term second basemen for the club in the same way Biggio was, but he’s certainly the guy for the next few years. He can hit, but should conceivably walk much more than he does. His defense needs some serious work. If he stays healthy I think he remains a strong contributor.

    Like

  3. daveb
    July 12, 2013

    Using Chip’s terminology, I just think that once a hole gets plugged, it should be kept plugged. We got Carter and lost Lowrie. Looking at the deal now, I would have kept Lowrie because I don’t see such a one dimensional guy like Carter being a part of a good team. And again, we’d have gotten a real look at Frieman, one that the A’s have not been able to give him. Altuve should stay where he is until we get a guy from within the organization to do a better job.

    Porter is a rookie manager. He makes more mistakes than most experienced managers. But his players make more mistakes than he does. A couple of quick examples: J.D. Martinez takes a step in on a liner to right and gets burned. Norris loses an out and ends up giving up two runs in the inning and wastes a bunch of pitches. J.D. Martinez goes on a safety squeeze. It’s called a safety because you are not supposed to go unless you can score. Martinez has a low baseball IQ. For now, Porter is stuck with him. Players ultimately make a manager look good or bad. Maybe Porter will get a chance to play with a full deck. Odds are that he won’t though.

    Like

  4. Steven
    July 12, 2013

    Devin hit it – not sure Jose is the long long term guy, but he is the guy right now. In baseball things change so much in a short amount of time that even talking about DeShields right now, or planning a position around his arrival, is moot.

    Jose needs to swing at better pitches. Last year he went after 30.1% of the pitches he saw outside the strike zone, well above the major league average. This year he is struggling at 37%. The last few weeks he has gone from seeing watermelons to seeing golf balls. Unfortunately his aggressiveness at the pate makes it look like he will never be a guy that can fall back on the walk when he is seeing golf balls and his BABIP disappears.

    Can’t watch the games so I have no idea about Porter.

    Like

  5. Sandy
    July 12, 2013

    Granted Porter has bad players to work with, but, aren’t coaches & managers supposed to work with players on those issues? And we’re talking about basically the same team that played around 500 ball the last few weeks last year. This basic team made T D look pretty good last year.

    I agree with Astro45. Calling out the players to the media can’t ever result in anything good.

    Over managing is my is my main beef.

    Like

    • daveb
      July 12, 2013

      When you’re 26 and don’t know how to react correctly in a safety squeeze situation, you’re not going to learn it.

      Like

    • chipalatta
      July 12, 2013

      Sandy, indeed, coaches and managers should help players improve and maximize their God-given abilities. But, they can improve ability, only try to get the most of them. They can’t make players run faster, improve hand/eye coordination or improve natural instinct. Honestly, if players haven’t learned certain things by the time they make it to Houston, they just ain’t gonna learn it. For example, players should understand basic base running, they should know how to bunt and read a squeeze, they should hit the cutoff and other nuances. You can only reinforce some of these elements of the game and others. If they haven’t learned to bunt in little league, junior high, high school, junior college, college or the minors, Bo ain’t gonna be able to help them much in the majors. Kinda sad.

      Like

      • Sandy
        July 12, 2013

        You’re both right about the players but it’s still basically the same team as last year.
        You think that good run at the end of 2012 was just luck?

        Like

      • Astro45
        July 12, 2013

        Chip, was watching some game the other night, and the color guy (former ballplayer) was railing about guys today unable to bunt, squeeze, or adjust, etc. etc. J.D. is a terrible base runner. Fundamentally bad base runner. That being said, I doubt bashing him to the media will improve that. He reminds me of that great college running back that no team wants because he never learned to block and your QB gets killed.

        Like

  6. Dan P
    July 12, 2013

    Let’s see here –
    – I think you have to build around someone and 23 year olds who have already been an All-Star at 2B would seem to qualify. I know he is not likely to turn into Joe Morgan, but at 23 – Little Joe was not yet what he would become (though he sure could take walks) as far as power and defense goes.
    – Yes Altuve can improve his defense, but he has made some breathtakingly quick pivots at 2nd this year that make me think he can improve.
    – On the Lowrie trade – I agree that SO FAR it is bad for us…and yes it could end up bad. But you cannot judge a trade this quick. What if next year Carter is the full time DH with some fill-in at 1B and bats .260 with 40 dingers and 100 RBIs or Peacock turns into a good pitcher or either of them get traded for Luhnow gold along the way. Or Lowrie turns back into a 1/2 season player. Too early to judge.
    – I must confess that I do not watch the after game press conferences. i have seen snippets where Porter is throwing guys under the bus – and sometimes driving the bus. I’m fine with that, if… Porter also has a little Kubiak in him and says when it is appropriate “That one is on me”. I don’t think he is that guy, but again I’m not watching it.
    – The biggest problem with the manager spilling the beans in front of the cameras is that it encourages the players to do the same thing. I think you build better chemistry when most of this is taken care of behind close doors – once in awhile sly managers (LaRussa) would leak strategic things just to put a burr under someone’s saddle.

    Like

    • Steven
      July 12, 2013

      Bill James wrote in one of his books the reason he liked hitters that could draw walks was because it demonstrated strike zone recognition, and his contention was that strike zone recognition was more of a natural trait vice a learned trait. In other words, and he proved it statistically, MOST hitters don’t improve their walk percentages long term significantly. The notable exceptions he said were power hitters that proved their worth and started getting pitched to differently, and we can probably not put Altuve in that category.

      Hitters that can walk 10%, or more, of the time can be equated to a pitcher who has “command” of his pitches. They have more time to put the the bat where they want it. That’s why a hitter likeAltuve isn’t getting the press outside of Astro fan sites. The team, in my view, is going to be built around Singleton and Springer on the offensive end – and while Cosart and McCullers, and maybe Wojo, can be major league starters, to contend we will probably need to go out of the organization for that “Ace.” I would like to see the Astros be players in the 2014 race for David Price – a Houston guy that can win a Cy in any given year – we will have the young assets to attract, we have the payroll flexibility, and a rotation of Price-Appel-Cosart and a suitable 4 and 5 might can contend in this division by 2015 or 2016.

      The moral of the story – Altuve, great piece to have, here while he is under team control, but if the day comes that I have to choose between Altuve at 12-14 mil or take a chance on a young DeShields or Fontana, Jose might price himself out if he doesn’t improve either his power or his ability to walk.

      Like

      • chipalatta
        July 12, 2013

        Steven, indeed, it would become the same argument I used concerning Michael Bourn. He simply priced himself out of Houston. Great center fielder, great defense, incredible speed. But not worth the $12 million per season he was asking at one point in free agency. But, with Altuve, we’re not close to that point just yet. He hits arbitration after 2015 and free agency in 2018. If he gets to that point where he’s asking “12-14 mil”, he’ll have significantly more trade value than he does even now. Wasn’t trying to suggest that Altuve would never be traded, only that now isn’t the time. Ideally, if he develops into a key part, Luhnow will work a shrewd deal that buys out some of the arb or even free agency years…if he’s worth it. Sooner or later, we’ll see how Luhnow is with that portion of his job.

        Like

      • daveb
        July 12, 2013

        Steven, I’d like to see the day come when Altuve is worth 12 to 14 million. That would be a good problem to have to deal with.

        Like

  7. Steven
    July 12, 2013

    BTW, did anyone grab all of our season and player predictions off the chron site? I hate to have to try and claim to have out guessed Flash, I would rather have the evidence!

    Like

    • chipalatta
      July 12, 2013

      It’s all still there, they just removed the link.

      http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/author/chipbailey/

      Like

    • Dan P
      July 12, 2013

      Steven – I think I kept the comments along with the blogs on those. (chron.com would delete all the comments after a couple weeks). I’ll have to look around to confirm that….

      Like

      • Astro45
        July 12, 2013

        Dan P: Please delete any comment or prediction that I made that is over 4 hours old. That is the length of time before my memory clears out, and I really like it that way.

        Like

  8. Sandy
    July 12, 2013

    Man, I wish I could watch that game tonight!

    Like

    • devin_
      July 12, 2013

      Truer words may never have been spoken

      Like

  9. Sandy
    July 12, 2013

    Now that was FUN! I actually listened to the whole game.

    Like

  10. Dan P
    July 12, 2013

    Wow – I guess Cosart wanted to make this more than a single start stay in the majors.

    Like

    • Becky
      July 12, 2013

      Only got to listen to it, but WOOOOW!!! He sure sounded like he was locked in!

      Like

  11. Becky
    July 13, 2013

    Keuchel wanted to stay in the game today…….after 80 pitches.
    He “voiced” his opinion after the game. Me thinks not all is so
    PEACHY in the Astros clubhouse. Yeah, I know Dallas was getting
    off the plan for a few minutes, but putting Harrell in there REALLY
    paid off. Right? Is Porter using Harrell, to prove a point, or……..

    Like

  12. tedf1948
    July 14, 2013

    I’m having issues logging in on Chip’s site. This is a test.

    Like

  13. tedf1948
    July 14, 2013

    I’m having trouble making my passwords work. This is a test.

    Like

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This entry was posted on July 12, 2013 by in Astros.
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