Defense rivals bullpen as Astros’ biggest need for improvement

The Astros are bad in so many areas and good in so few, it’s hard to isolate which area is in the worst condition. Starting pitching has been a highlight, even a bright light in recent weeks, but that one area hasn’t been enough to improve a poor team, much less carry it.

Obviously, the bullpen is not only horrific, but in need of major revision. Astros’ hitters are among the worst in the majors in average, runs scored and strikeouts. Most of us can recount several base running fiascos during 2013 and the Astros have been caught stealing (42) more than any other team in baseball.

Still, one of the most perplexing areas is defense. The Astros lead the league — in fact, the majors — with 95 errors. It’s quite possible that Matt Dominguez, once projected as a gold glove type, will make more errors than any other season as a pro. Add to that countless errors by four different shortstops and pitchers must be pitching to hitters so they hit to the right side.

Indeed, the bullpen has the worst ERA in the AL (5.20), but it’s also allowed the most unearned runs in the league (31).

If the name of the game is pitching and defense, it’s no secret why the Astros are in trouble. Despite strong outings that portend promising careers, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and even Jordan Lyles or Brad Peacock or Dallas Keuchel can change that.

You may arrange these differently, but here are the five worst areas of the 2013 Astros:

  • Bullpen.
  • Defense.
  • Clutch hitting.
  • Fundamentals (base running, bunting, working counts)
  • Overall hitting. How many regulars are below .250?

Your thoughts on the worst area(s) for this year’s Astros?

More quick thoughts heading into the weekend:


6 comments on “Defense rivals bullpen as Astros’ biggest need for improvement

  1. Chicken-Egg, or Poor defense-poor pitching. It is difficult to stay alert, when a pitcher nibbles with 100 pitches in 4 innings & and who wants to “pitch to contact” with poor fielding behind you. Randy Galloway has been irritating for years, however he normally is right on most of his comments. Maybe some more minority partners have the “$10 Million” to help Crane out. As to Stassi, I know that Scheppers was wild, but I wish the umpire had tossed him BEFORE Washington had a chance. If you hit two in a row, who cares if you are “throwing at them.”


  2. I wouldn’t pick on Dominguez. In the AL, he’s tied for third in DWAR, third in fielding percentage and second in range factor. That’s pretty good stuff. I just wish his OBP was not hanging around .270.

    Looks like we’re stuck defensively at short for the time being unless Luhnow brings in a guy over the winter, but I’m guessing Villar keeps the job for now, if only because he’s getting on base, sort of.

    The outfield, assuming Grossman, Springer and Barnes platooning with a lefty hitter, will be very solid defensively, a huge improvement from the beginning of 2013.

    Altuve is unremarkable defensively, but he won’t hurt us at second.

    I’m hoping Stassi has a great spring and pairs up with Corporan behind the plate. I think that will improve our defense up the middle considerably and certainly help a young pitching staff.

    And then I’d give Castro a new glove and put him at first. If he continues to grow at the plate, he’ll be even better off as a hitter if he’s no longer having to squat for nine innings 125 times a year. Just getting Wallace out of the picture finally would please me too.

    And I agree with Randy Galloway. With encouraging signs coming from a new, young, in house rotation, it’s time that Luhnow is given some resources to build on the pen. I think there are some guys in house that are about ready to help at this point, but a couple of wise short term deals to give the pen some credibility are needed, And if Luhnow gets a few bucks to spend, it’s about time he starts getting held accountable for his pitching staff.


  3. I had a lot of things in my mind reading your article, Chip and then I read daveb’s post and he hit on so many points I had in mind. No point in me being redundant – so I say ditto to his post.
    So – I will move to other items in your article.
    – It does not completely surprise me that they are ahead of 2012 pace – but I think even if they put Tony D back in charge they are going to struggle to match 2012’s finish. The better starting pitching might get them there.
    – Hey, Castro is the best offensive C they have had in a long time. Not going to talk about the other 1/2 of his game.
    – I am old enough to remember when Tony Conigliaro got cut down many many years ago. Ruined his career just like Thon’s.
    – If someone showed you a montage of his worst ABs, you would never think that Chris Carter had 2 HRs much less 23. If someone showed you a montage of his best ABs you would wonder how his BA is so bad. Quietest 23 HRs I can ever recall.
    – Crane will have no excuse to not spend more next year – none – and the bullpen is one place where they could spend effectively.
    – One small correction – the Marlins lead for the first pick is only 7 games. Here is some perspective….. The Astros are 11 games behind the next worst team (ChiSox) in the AL, 14 games behind the next worst team (Angels) in their division, 30 games behind the second wild card (A’s) and 32.5 games out of first place (Rangers) in their division.
    Perhaps the only way this would be worse is if they were back in the NL Central with the Pirates (75-52), Cards (74-53) and Reds (73-55), who would probably all have more wins if they had the Astros in their division.


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