CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Three wishes: You’re on the clock with Dan Peschong


As the Astros streak toward perhaps their worst season in history (again), we continue our look at next season. Dan Peschong sticks to the basics today, inquiring on the three biggest items on your 2014 wish list.

• •• ••• •• • 

There is this old joke about an ever optimistic manager taking questions during spring training.

Sportswriter: “How do you see the team shaping up this year?”

Manager: “We are close, really close. Just a couple guys short of a contender.”

At which point the sportswriter turns to one of his fellow journalists and whispers, “Yeah, Babe Ruth and Cy Young.”

We all know that no manager is going to say the Astros are close, even if Polyanna takes over from Bo Porter next week. They have maybe 2 or 3 good players right now rather than being 2 or 3 good players away from being a contender.

But if Robin Williams with a blue face and a turban appeared at your door today and granted you 3 wishes for the Astros organization heading into this off-season what would they be? (No cheating with a cheap wish like “Win the World Series in 2014”. Be specific.).

Would you wish for a change/miracle in:

  • The front office
  • The dugout
  • The owner
  • Starters
  • Finishers
  • Hitters
  • Ball Field
  • Minors
  • Trade philosophy
  • Anything else you can think about?

Just like a batter – I’m giving you three swings here – what are you wishing?

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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.

53 comments on “Three wishes: You’re on the clock with Dan Peschong

  1. 1oldpro
    September 20, 2013

    My first wish is for a television deal. So I guess that falls under the front office redoing their deal.
    My second wish is that Jeff Luhnow will indeed acquire a couple of veteran relievers to IMPROVE the bullpen and a hitter to IMPROVE the lineup. I am basing this on his comments to Ortiz a couple of days ago. He used the word “investments”
    when speaking of acqiring theses players.
    My third wish is for the noticable improvement in the on-field play of Villar, Dominguez, Grossman, Altuve, Lo and Cosart. More concentration, less errors, less BB for the pitchers and more from these hitters.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      Nice list 1oldpro.
      The best wish for the TV deal is the Rockets, not the Astros. if the Rockets get on a roll – I think there will finally be pressure to get this done. But I don’t expect that until some time in the next season.
      The side joke on the Luhnow point is that it would not take much to improve them in those two spots.
      I get real frustrated with the on-field play – but a big chunk of this is tied to the lack of experience of these guys. They do not have a lot of experience and there is no veteran left that can lead by example.

      Like

  2. devin_
    September 20, 2013

    Dan – I have only spent a few minutes on google, but found some interesting trivia:
    http://research.sabr.org/journals/they-could-run-but-couldnt-walk
    It’s not perfectly answering our question, but we can see that Altuve has a way to go before catching Alejandro Sanchez who put together a streak of 207 consecutive big league at-bats without walking. What’s amazing about this is that it ran over the course of five years!

    However, Rob Picciolo did much better (worse?) than that in one season!
    http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1980/Ipiccr0010041980.htm
    I saw one site list his record as 259 consecutive AB without a BB. However, by my math he actually went 260 consecutive AB without a walk (259 in games before 10/2, singled in first plate appearance, walked second time up).

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      I saw one place where they said former Astros manager Hal Lanier had the record at 279 – but it did not say what year(s) even – so I don’t know if it is true.

      Like

      • devin_
        September 20, 2013

        Wow, I think you’re right about Lanier. I’m fairly certain the 279 is wrong, but in 1964 from 7/1 to 9/18 he managed to go 262 at bats without a walk. I don’t know how many plate appearances that was.

        Like

  3. devin_
    September 20, 2013

    Ok, for my wishes:
    1. Indestructible elbow ligaments for our pitching staff (majors and minors)
    2. Angels shock the sports world by trading Mike Trout and cash considerations to Houston Astros for Trevor Crowe, JDM, Brett Wallace, Lucas Harrell.
    3. Astros batters are allowed four (4) strikes per at-bat

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 20, 2013

      FOUL BALL! That’s not fair Devin. I left pole dancers off the list because they gave reasonable guidelines here.

      Like

    • BrianT
      September 20, 2013

      Even with that extra strike it guys would still K at record rates.

      Like

  4. Dan P
    September 20, 2013

    And by the way – thanks for the above walk research.
    1. Yes – it is something that can derail young arms…
    2. So in reality you are wishing that the Angels GM comes down with dementia (though he might consider sending Pujols and /or Hamilton in the same trade).
    3. For many at bats the 4 strikes would only prolong the agony – not avoid the Ks.

    Like

  5. Dan P
    September 20, 2013

    1oldpro – If you want you can “Devin-ize” your wishes – make 3 wishes that do not meet my guidelines – though I will put my foot down on pole dances – this is a family blog. Now if it is Fowl pole dances and has something to do with the Chick-Fil-A cows dancing around the poles – that is OK.

    Like

  6. Dan P
    September 20, 2013

    Here is a good list from a friend – Sam – who reads the blog but does not post:

    My three wishes:

    1) Legitimate #1 Starter – Right now our staff features a handful of legit 3-5 starters and maybe a decent # 2. We need an ace, we need a guy who would pitch games 1, 3 and 7 of a playoff series. We don’t have that right now, nor do I see that guy in the minors. Appel is not as ML-ready as I thought he’d be coming off 4 years of college ball and that worries me a bit. I wonder how much better Rodon will be coming out of NS State. I think he’ll be the #1 pick as it stands right now.
    2) Clean-up Threat – I shudder to think of how many different guys have filled in the #4 hole in the line-up this year, I don’t even want to do the research. I like Springer out of the 3 hole rather than clean-up, but again I don’t see a guy on the roster or in the AA-AAA range that’s going to fill the power bat need. Chris Carter simply strikes out too much to be a threat. No one else has enough power to fill that role permanently. Offensive upgrades over current roster spots is needed, and I think that’s a FA signing or two.
    3) Bullpen – I know Luhnow has been saying this is an area he plans on spending money on this offseason and it’ll be money well spent. I don’t think we should go into “Ed Wade” mode and sign a bunch of guys, but we need a veteran closer and a decent arm or two not named Hector Ambriz. We’ve lost 15 games after having the lead in the 7th inning or later this year. We get a strong bullpen and we’re already closer to being a 90 loss team instead of a 105 loss team.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 20, 2013

      In regards to #1 on Sam’s list. I am of the opinion that we are going to have to grow our own #1 starter and we will have a list of candidates. Acquiring one thru free agency means paying huge money right away for someone who has already used up some of his ammo.
      I think it would be crazy to assume that an Appel or a Rodon or a Velasquez or a Feliz or a Folty or a McCullers would be the same pitchers in two years that they are now. But all of them have the stuff to improve to where one of them might be a true #1 and lead the others in a good rotation, especially with the other ten or so pitchers that may develope.

      Like

  7. Sandy
    September 20, 2013

    #1. A better manager. Not asking for a Larussa, I’d settle for TonyD.
    #2. FA power hitter & a couple of good relievers.
    #3. TV deal before ST starts.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      Sandy –
      #1 – By the way – have the Astros ever officially announced how long Porter’ contract is? If it is 3 years and the club keeps not spending money as they have not spent it up to now – we have him thru 2015.
      #2 – Sounds like a deal
      #3 – Keep hope alive!

      Like

  8. Zanuda99
    September 20, 2013

    A couple of GOOD journeyman hitters, A couple of GOOD relief pitchers, the TV deal for all those who can get it (I’m 1100 miles away but I’m with you guys), a new Hitting Coach, and Tony D as manager (Just not impressed with BO). I think the starting rotation will be OK if the last couple of month’s are an indication.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      Zanuda – that seems like 5 wishes – but you might get 3 of them.

      Like

      • Zanuda99
        September 21, 2013

        Sorry, Dan P, just got carried away, but I would definitely go for the 1st two and #5.

        Like

  9. BrianT
    September 20, 2013

    Three wishes? I want a pair of quality relievers (is that one wish or two), a decent corner outfielder and a wish to be granted later.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      I’ll let that be one wish – 2 quality relievers are equal to a quality starter right?

      Like

  10. BrianT
    September 20, 2013

    Oh, contact. That’s my third wish. I want these hitters to stop whiffing and watch strike three.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      I think the key word here is “these”. You may have to wait until “those” hitters replace “these” hitters for that to happen.

      Like

  11. daveb
    September 20, 2013

    Using last nights game as an example, our hitters went down in the 8th inning on 11 pitches, the 10th on 10 pitches and in the 11th, 9 pitches. We have to make the other teams pitchers work harder. So, request # 1, by far, is to create an atmosphere and a requirement that our hitters are working the count. So many good things happen when this concept is embraced. As I said the other day, throughout our minor league system, OBP is a main focus. We are signing kids with a history of high OBP. It’s time we forced the issue with the big club. And forcing the issue would include getting a new hitting coach.

    Item # 2 is the quality left handed bat in the outfield. I’m realistic. We’re not going to get a guy like Choo, but we might get a Nate McLouth for 7 or 8 million over a couple of seasons. We need a solid bat in the outfield against righty pitching. Barnes and Grossman don’t provide that. Hopefully Springer will. And Hoes might too, as he’s hit them in a small sampling. By most all accounts, McLouth is a good clubhouse guy. He’d be a veteran presence. And we don’t have any ML ready left handed outfield bats in the system. So, that free agent lefty bat would not be holding anyone up.

    Item # 3 of course, and no less urgent, is to remake the pen, even if it costs 20 or 30 million to bring in several guys. I’m not asking for a payroll of 80, or even 70 million. 50 or 60 is what I have in mind.

    I see continued growth at third, short and second. I see the potential combination of Stassi and Corporan behind the plate. Stretching a bit, I can see Castro playing in 140 to 150 games at first and DH. And if we somehow ended up with an outfield of Hoes, Barnes, Grossman, McLouth and Springer, that would be a huge improvement over April of 2013. Last, I think we’re already way ahead of where we were a year ago as far as the rotation goes. It’s time we got away from the embarrassment of 100 plus losses a year.

    Like

  12. Dan P
    September 20, 2013

    daveb –
    #1 – Main Moneyball tenet – get players who work the count and get on base. I’m not sure if changing the hitting coach (Missing coach?) is going to get the leopards to change their spots – but they don’t seem to have a clue in so many games.
    #2 – I like the McLouth name – because he is the type guy we could get here and he does fill a real need.
    #3 – If they don’t start spending money next season – they will be out of excuses. It would be like showing up at Spring Training and George Springer is not on the 40 man…..

    Like

  13. Dan P
    September 20, 2013

    I thought I would hold off a bit before I gave my wish list – now seems like a good time to hand one out:
    #1 – I want one of these kids (and I’m talking about a minor leaguer) to be THE GUY. I want my own Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez – stud muffin. And I want it soon.
    #2 – I want two solid middle of the order hitters with power.
    #3 – I want Luhnow to pick up a good fairly young major league player by trading a couple of the minor league chips — maybe combined with a Carter or a Villar.

    Like

    • BrianT
      September 20, 2013

      Carter, yes. Villar, lets keep him for now. We don’t really have another shortstop and finding another even of Villar’s quality is problematic (remember Ronnie Cedeño?).

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      Brian T – that is true – but somehow very sad….

      Like

  14. rj1953
    September 20, 2013

    #1. TV deal. i only got to see 2 games this year
    #2. patience to let Luhnow’s plan unfold fully
    #3. no long term albatross around the neck FA contracts – such as Pujols, Hamilton, Zito et al. Would you rather have the Astros future or the Angels?

    Like

    • BrianT
      September 20, 2013

      I’d rather be the Astros. The Angels look like they’re going to be better than average for years to come. Well, better than average is a long way from good and even farther from great.

      I think by 2016 the Astros will start approaching great.

      Like

      • rj1953
        September 20, 2013

        i agree Brian.

        Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      RJ – three solid wishes that most of us can get behind.

      Like

  15. Astro45
    September 20, 2013

    Hummm. Only three (3) wishes! ! Let’s see, only three. Well, then, a Great Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2014 for Chip, BrianT, & DanP – and give them the strength to drag us along for the ride next year. I hope that is ONLY three. It may count as 6 or 9.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      Astro45
      So very kind of you. For that you can have as many wishes as you want. Some may even come true.

      Like

  16. Dan P
    September 20, 2013

    Well as unbelievable as it may be – Jose Altuve walked on 4 pitches tonight (and then they immediately yanked the pitcher). I have never liked the rule that if a game goes over the minimum length (4-1/2 or 5 IP) that it can end when interrupted by rain. Never made sense to me – especially a one run game like tonight. Three errors behind him and two unearned runs for Oberholtzer who has been pretty luckless this season – rarely do they score for him.

    Like

  17. daveb
    September 20, 2013

    Was surprised they called it, with the Indians and others fighting for a Wild Card slot.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 20, 2013

      Yeah – it just does not seem to be a fair way of doing it. I’m sure the other team’s in the chase are none too pleased.

      Like

  18. Becky
    September 20, 2013

    Only three wishes??? DANG……there’s so much wrong right now with this club
    I may have to add a couple of extra wishes.
    1. FIX THE TV DEAL!!!!!!!!
    2. We need a *solid* infield.
    3. We need a solid #1 pitcher
    4. We need *2* pure bats…..who?
    5. The bullpen……COMPLETE overhaul
    Sorry I had to add a few wishes but if Luhnow can pull off three of these things we can be way better than this year!
    ONCE AGAIN……….the rest of the team took guns to the game and shot the pitcher.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 21, 2013

      Well, Zanuda basically took the same tact above – 5 wishes by my count – so it is not really cheating if you are letting Luhnow choose the 3.
      #1 – TV deal? i think it ties to having a hot start by the Rockets.
      #2 Solid infield – might take a couple seasons
      #3 Solid ace – Cosart is the closest – we might end up with three #2s
      #4 Pure bats – Springer and a player to be named later
      #5 Bullpen – I think a few of the guys they have like Chapman and Fields and Zeid would work fine with a couple solid vets helping them in the pen.

      The fielding was the killer last night – and to your amazement I’m sure – Villar was not one of the culprits. Now he is in a hitting slump – he started fielding?

      Like

  19. Billy Castillo
    September 20, 2013

    If wishes were fishes this team would have mercury poisoning.

    Is there any chance that Bo leaves after this year to take the Nats job?

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 21, 2013

      I would say none, Billy C. But I could see a change made by the end of next year. This is not me defending Porter – though he appears to be trying to make lemonade from lemon seeds at this point. I think you need to see in his second year managing if he has learned anything and is applying it. Lord knows I would not want to be judged simply by my first year working as an engineer – very enthusiastic and very ignorant (as I look back 34 years).

      Like

  20. Astro45
    September 21, 2013

    Not a wish, but have to mention that 2013 strikeouts are now at 1444. Need 11+/- more in each game to set new MLB record. But this team with a DH strikes out at the rate of a very poor hitting team with pitchers batting. Also the run differential is over 200. This team needs a lot more than 3 wishes. 3 is better than -0-, but it might take as many as 20 wishes to get them over .500. So, I will go with 1 wish, and that is that Crane opens his wallet, lets the two moths fly out, and then decides to NOT “keep the powder dry” this winter.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 21, 2013

      Kind of like I said Astro45 in the original post – they are not 3 wishes away – they may only have 3 good players.
      If Crane does not increase the spending next year what is left of the fan base will hit the Despair button. And we are not saying we need to have Robinson Cano, but we don’t want to revisit Ankiel and Pena. We need some smart FA pickups that are solid and maybe a trade for someone who can help – even if it means giving up a couple redundant chips.
      Strikeouts are just beyond belief. To me this is why the hitting coach is in trouble – I just don’t see improvements in approach by anybody this season other than Castro. (am I missing someone?). At least on the pitching side – the starters seem to be improving during the second half of the season – on the whole.

      Like

  21. Becky
    September 21, 2013

    Dan…..you missed Dave Clark, who I doubt will be asked to come back next year
    as he is the base running coach, and outfield coach. Probably should have been gone three years ago…….

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 21, 2013

      Ok, Dave clark was the 3rd base coach and did not do a good job. He was a first base coach and we get guys picked off and thrown out at second. He is the outfield coach and we need a lot of help defensively in the outfield. He is the baserunning coach and our baserunning is very bad.
      He’s a great guy with a bad resume’. Why don’t we find him a job he can do and hire a better coach?

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 21, 2013

      Can’t say much here – it is amazing he is basically the only one who has survived all of this the last few years…

      Like

  22. DrBill14
    September 21, 2013

    Late to the party but as much as I would like to see Crane open his wallet I think that wishing for contributing FAs is a pipe dream. The team needs a veteran winner or three but why would anyone with that kind of resume’ come to a team that isn’t ready to contend. The only guys who would be interested in the Astros are those simply looking for a paycheck or reclamation projects. I’m not sure what the young players can learn from them. Where he could open his wallet is to trade some of the young pitching inventory for some position players with real potential who are already in the league and pay them. The challenge for Luhnow would be to figure who to trade and who to keep. There’s likely to be even more pitching depth if we choose Rodon and maybe another good pitching prospect with the pick from Baltimore and/or the second round pick. My biggest wish though is for Springer to be the real deal and become the next home grown top dog in the tradition of Biggio, Bagwell and Berkman and then be followed shortly by Correa. I’ll also hope for Dominguez to grow and not experience a sophomore slump. I think he’s been walking a bit more lately and his glove will do a lot to keep our pitchers in the game. My wish for Altuve is for someone to mentor him on the mental aspects of the game. The “he’s young” excuse for his baserunning gaffes just doesn’t fly with me. If one of my former 14 year old players did what he did the other night I would have made him run laps until his cleats wore out. And how much effort would it take Clark to just say “station to station, Jose”?

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 21, 2013

      Lots of great points Bill. I think they might pick up a decent FA but I agree that they need to trade from depth – like a pitcher they don’t think I’d quite it.

      Like

    • daveb
      September 22, 2013

      It’s too early to assume that there is any pitching depth in this organization. So I would not trade any such prospects, unless there is a firm belief that a particular guy will not fit in for any reason. And I would not rule out a Free Agent coming to this club either. For instance, Nate McLouth got 2 million in 2013. If the Stros paid 8 million over two years, that might get the job done. Money does play a role. Like the rest of us, baseball players, and especially their agent’s, want a good deal. Agree on the Altuve assessment. Porter continually says that Altuve is the least of his worries. That’s one reason why I’m not high on Porter. Every guy has to be pushed to be better and Altuve, by no means, has reached any sort of an elite status.

      Like

  23. Astro45
    September 21, 2013

    Let me begin by saying, I don’t want Porter fired. But today’s story in the Chron is about number 50 where he as manager blames everyone by old Bo. Yes, the players have made tons of mistakes, but if you want someone to work (play) for you, you can’t run to the newspaper and tell everyone in town how stupid they are. He could have said all season, “We are young and have a lot to learn, and not named names.” I have -0- respect for him as a leader. Doubt he has much respect from the players.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 21, 2013

      Yes – and this is not the first time he did this. I believe in personal responsibility but with sports teams to me that means talking to the players face to face not thru the media. Once in awhile is OK – but this is his modus operandi all the time it seems.

      Like

    • Sandy
      September 21, 2013

      Exactly!

      Like

    • daveb
      September 22, 2013

      What if Joe Girardi became available?

      Like

  24. Becky
    September 21, 2013

    I watched the Braves Cubs game today, and just DROOLED over the thought this team could EVER have a pitcher like Chris Medlen. DANG……..he’s good.
    As for Bo Porter and his “lose lips”…….we saw how that played out with Cooper.

    Like

  25. rj1953
    September 22, 2013

    ok since you are giving out extra wishes, my fourth would be that there is a player that easily stands out from the others for our #1 draft pick.

    Like

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