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Astros’ spring just ain’t got that swing


Chime in on today your Astros’ dream job here.

By Brian Todd

With apologies to Irving Mills and Duke Ellington, I think we’d all like to live by the following song:

“Oh it don’t mean a thing if it happens in the spring …
Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah,
It don’t mean a thing if it happens in the spring …
Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah,
Makes no difference if they’re cool or hot …
Cause you got to trust in the team with everything you’ve got …”

The fact is, this Astros’ spring training isn’t looking so great. Oh, sure, Marc Krauss and Robbie Grossman are looking good. Marwin Gonzalez is looking like our starting shortstop instead of the backup.

But the rest of the team is having some trouble. George Springer? Well, we know he can do a Nolan Fontana impersonation. Jon Singleton? Hello Oklahoma City. Even Dallas Keuchel, who was looking fabulous this spring, took his lumps Tuesday. While Keuchel was giving up 7 earned runs in the first two innings, the Astros were managing one lousy hit (Krauss, driving in Jonathan Villar, who’d been doing a Springer, er, Fontana impersonation by walking in his first two plate appearances).

So, spring “don’t mean a thing,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were some worrying signs.

So, what worries you?

  • Springer is batting below the Mendoza line, with just ONE extra-base hit in 26 at-bats (as of this writing).
  • For that matter, Dexter Fowler is below .200 with an OPS below .600 at sea level. Someone poor that man a Coors, right
  • Singleton’s OPS is over .740 (not great, but not bad either), but his batting average is a whopping .130 as I sit here.
  • Matt Dominguez is hitting all of .200, but he’s not knocking the ball out of the park.
  • Japhet Amador is still looking for a home run … or any extra-base hit at all.
  • Brad Peacock, Bret Oberholtzer and Lucas Harrell all have ERAs over 10.00. And Jarred Cosart has an ERA over 7.00.
  • No one—and I realize Jesse Crain is still sidelined, but that’s part of the problem—has grabbed the closer role by the horns.
  • Villar has been buttering his fingers again, committing 5 errors in just 12 games.
  • Oh, and our best-looking shortstop not named Marwin Gonzalez is ticketed to AA at best. Carlos Correa has just a single error in about the same number of innings as Villar and Gonzalez, and the 19-year-old is obviously the best glove of the bunch. Marwin has two errors but about half the range factor of each, which even in limited innings is a sign. Sure, Marwin is hitting .4-never-gonna-happen, but that’s going to fall. Meanwhile, Correa and Villar are similar at the plate right now.

So, what tell-tale signs are bugging you?

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About BrianT

Brian Todd is a freelance writer working and living in Rochester, Minn.

23 comments on “Astros’ spring just ain’t got that swing

  1. Dan P
    March 19, 2014

    There a number of problems with spring stats:
    – Low quantity – Springer is currently batting .167 with 5 hits in 30 ABs. If he gets two hits in a row his BA goes up more than 50 points. He won’t be hitting .167 a month from now any more than Marwin G will be hitting over .400.
    – Competition – When you look at baseball-reference spring stats they have a column for opponent’s quality. It rates the pitchers a batter faces (and vice versa) based on what level they played last season. Based on this Marwin G has been facing – on the average – AAA pitching in ST.
    – What they are working on – If a pitcher is being asked to work on a particular pitch or on a new pitch – their ERA may be real ugly. We don’t know when or if this is happening.
    So, I am Alfred E. Neuman here – “What, me worry?”
    I worry most that the coaches and the front office will pick the wrong folks to stay up or go down for the wrong reasons – but I have no control over that.

    Like

  2. Steven
    March 19, 2014

    I’ll jump on Dan’s comments – short sample for all of it.

    No doubt I am an outside the box thinker – I say play the kids now. Put Singleton, Springer and Correa all on the field opening day. They may struggle, but those that have the talent make the adjustments. For all that fear about “ruining” players by bringing them up to soon, there are remarkably few examples of that actually happening. Pitchers are a little different – in that you have to ensure they are ready to handle the work load – so a little slower on them, sure, but Appel is a guy that has carried a pretty decent workload through college without injury, and is entering the prime years of health for a pitcher (23-27), so I may consider having him here by August if he is down there starting every 5 days, getting consistently to 100 pitches (or close) every start.

    For Houston, the future needs to be now, let them struggle, but give us something to root for. I am much more apt to watch a lineup with the aforementioned 3 kids – with the ones that are there now.

    Like

  3. kevin kuns
    March 19, 2014

    I was just sharing everything you stated Dan with My Wife UGH. I know its spring, but watching other teams they still have great players doing what they do in spring HIT and PITCH. What did Florida have yesterday 40 hits to our 3. I’m just crossing my fingers that mediocre spring equals better start to the season . Please baseball Gods.

    Like

  4. daveb
    March 19, 2014

    Nothing worries me in regards to this team. I worry about things like world peace and Jim Crane certainly can’t help in that regard if he can’t run a baseball club. But I do lament the fact once again we have a club with holes all over the place. We’re on our way to another first round pick in 2015 and I’m not pleased about that. I just read last night that Luhnow might be kicking the tires on another guy for first base. If this is true, after having a logjam over there, it seems to me that the plan is certainly not working. How could Luhnow and other club officials not be fully aware of the turmoil surrounding Singleton?

    I agree with Steven. Bring as many guys up now as possible. That includes Singleton. It will be easier to keep an eye on him at the major league level. Play em all!

    Like

  5. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2014

    I know that I am merely speculating, but it is amazing to me that there is a very real possibility that the team with the worst record in MLB for the last three years and with the #1 farm system in baseball may begin the year with not one of their top 20 prospects making the team. Can anyone here name any other team that has ever let that happen? Can anyone believe that their favorite team would allow that to happen?
    Is there anyone out there who thought that Luhnow’s plan would call for this absolute trashing of the baseball team to this extent?
    In a chron article i read this morning Luhnow said that we would not exceed our pool in the international signing period this year or any year but he had the nerve to make a sly joke that five years from now, when we have the LOWEST pool of money we wont exceed that either. So he plans on us winning the world series in five years.

    Like

  6. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2014

    For two months all of us have been watching this team develop. This spring has gone exactly like I saw it. Did You see it happening like this?
    We are not with the team, but if you were a pitcher on this team how would you feel about the makeup of the players that are fixing to take the field? If you were going to start the year with a SS behind you that wasn’t hitting and had made 5 errors in 12 games how would you feel about your team? If you were a position player on this team, how would you feel about every starting pitcher on the team getting bombed in the last week? How would you feel about getting pounded by the Marlins yesterday with your top performer of the spring on the mound?
    I wouldn’t have Bo Porter’s job for any amount of money.

    Like

  7. BrianT
    March 19, 2014

    Folks, I understand the sample size is small, and pitchers are working on the grip of their fluegelhorn pitch or whatever.

    But Kevin hit the nail on the head. Other teams’ players are doing the same stuff. Small samples. Getting that fluegelhorn pitch to fluffle just right. Yet Tueaday’s game was painful. And Springer has had ONE extra base hit. And every starter has stunk on ice.

    So even though I rationally know it’s just spring training, a little voice in my head is saying, “Crap, I thought I was supposed to see signs of progress, not signs of further regression.”

    Like

    • daveb
      March 19, 2014

      There are quite a few pitchers out there, good ones anyway, that are way beyond trying out new grips and are at the point of stretching themselves out, just two spring starts away from their openers.

      None of our guys seem to be close.

      Like

  8. Dan P
    March 19, 2014

    I guess I could ask you the reverse question Brian. If we were sitting here after about a month of ST and everyone was hitting over .350 and the pitchers had ERAs under 3…..would that worry you too as baseball is such a cyclic game…..

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 19, 2014

      I’d be worried about when the bottom was going to fall out. I am, after all, a true Astros fan.

      Like

  9. Devin
    March 19, 2014

    I’m a bit more optimistic here. I see Correa holding his own and expect great things as he continues to gain experience. Springer and Singleton showed me enough LAST spring to put them on the 25 that will take on the Jeters. My only concern is seeing our pitchers shelled wHole our offense struggles as a whole. Same conditions for both teams…

    Like

  10. Astro45
    March 19, 2014

    It is obvious based upon the two new blogs today, we need better “evaluators” in ST. So I suggest you “working” guys get up a pot of money for Old Pro and Me to go to ST 2015 (wherever it happens to be) for the Astros and between the two of us (after a couple fist fights) we will decide who needs to be on or off the team. And YES it is distressing that we have supposedly all this talent and prospects, and they appear to not be pushing guys that lost 111 games last year.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 19, 2014

      Astro45, all I would ask is that if all our prospects get sent down this spring, that we would leave them there all year and let them play together, maybe win some minor league championships and bring them up for the last two weeks of the season.
      That way, we would get to see our major leaguers all season and get a true evaluation of what they have, and give all our prospects a full year in the minors so that next spring we don’t have to listen to folks tell us they need more seasoning.. Then next spring maybe we will give our prospects a real chance to make the team rather than the pretend game they played this spring.
      By the way, the Astros quietly released a bunch of minor leaguers recently, and a few of the names a recoogniable, including Alex Gillingham, Blaire Walters, Jean Batiste and Kyle Hallock. I found that list on WTHB and Astros County. Thanks to all Astros-related sites for their info.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 19, 2014

        a recoogniable? OMG

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 19, 2014

        Padres signed FA RHP Hector Ambriz to a minor league contract yesterday.

        Like

      • Steven
        March 19, 2014

        We have to remember this is a business, for the player as well, and leaving him in the minors for the entirety of the season is against his business interests. There is a not so insignificant difference between AAA salary and major league minimum. Alot of them have families to support. You get them here as soon as they prove they are capable of handling the level, whether that is April, July, or September.

        But I do understand how you feel in the context of the fan, and wanting them to develp winning attitudes and habits.

        Like

  11. daveb
    March 19, 2014

    Speaking of business, I just looked into picking up two more seats for the opener. In section 132, far down in the right field corner, tickets are 165.00 each plus tax. That’s dynamic pricing for you. Looking at the seating chart of available tickets for the entire stadium, they’ve got a ways to go before coming close to a sell out on April 1. If our marketing experts can’t figure out how to sell out the opener against a team like the Yankees, it’s just another example of how badly run this operation is. And I’m not giving Reid Ryan a free pass here either. This is just another opportunity for a clueless organization to further alienate itself from the still eroding fan base. Ryan has already announced that 10% of last years season ticket holders did not renew. This is an arrogant organization.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 19, 2014

      If you get those RF tickets you will be close to Mr. Hoes, our one-man Yankee wrecking crew. If ESPN carries the game I might be able to watch it.

      Like

      • daveb
        March 19, 2014

        oldpro, I wouldn’t pay 165.00 to sit down there, but if I had, I’d have put a sign up for you. By virtue of the fact that our family has been buying full season tickets for 37 or 38 years now (we’re all nuts), our full season price is somewhat lower, although we also get hit with a dynamic bump when a team like the Yankees comes to town even though we give the club 25K a year in ticket revenue alone. Thankfully, we don’t drink as much beer as we used to.

        Like

  12. rj
    March 19, 2014

    im wondering about 1B. when singleton got off to such a slow start and wallace was released, i thought that as been predicted in here by a few that castro would start getting some reps there. apparently that hasnt happened. amador hasnt impressed, krauss and guzman dont exactly get you excited. so if castro doesnt play any 1B i guess that means on the days they dont want to catch him but want his bat in the lineup he will DH and carter play first. i have read lately they are looking at first basemen in a trade situation and that we have a ‘surplus’ of starting pitching. id hate to lose any good up and coming starters for the first basemen that are available… soooo singleton please start hitting the ball.

    Like

  13. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2014

    Cosart is dealin’ today! No hits, no walks, 8 k’s through four innings.
    I know, I know, Mr Jinx!

    Like

    • daveb
      March 19, 2014

      Yes, great to see such a quality five innings from Cosart. When he’s making it look easy out there, he reminds me of a young Oswalt. His ball was moving tonight.

      Like

  14. Astro45
    March 19, 2014

    Starting to look like “money” is raising its ugly head if the Springer story is true in Chron. (Cosart’s agent had a similar reaction) http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2014/03/19/luhnow-springer-decline-to-comment-on-contract-chatter/

    Like

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This entry was posted on March 19, 2014 by in Astros.
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