CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Spring has sprung, but it’s not eternal for Astros


For all practical purposes, spring training is over for the Astros. Just one week from the real season opener and fans are scratching their heads rather than licking their chops.

So much for heading into the season with some momentum. Instead, seems like a lull of a stall.

By the way, congrats to Tony Robichaux and the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, ranked #1 — yes, ranked #1, not LSU — in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll.

Meanwhile, here are a few (ahem) highlights of the Astros’ spring training.

Biggest disappointment.

  • There are a few — if not several — to be sure. Still, first base was Jonathan Singleton‘s to take and he fizzled. He hasn’t looked like the #4 prospect in the organization in quite some time. Honorable mention: Matt Dominguez.

Breath of fresh air.

Holding my breath.

  • Obviously, the Astros aren’t concerned since they’ve offered him a nice contract extension, but Dominguez needs to get his game together quickly. A .175 average and no run production won’t do a lot to breed confidence among fans. Then, again, it’s only spring, right? Honorable mention: L.J. Hoes, Jesus Guzman.

Lost cause.

Sleeper pick.

  • If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’m a Dallas Keuchel fan. As much as anyone on the roster, he’ll be here in September. Honorable mention: Alex White.

Put up or shut up!

  • Jerome Williams has the salary ($2.1 million), but he’ll need to make his case quickly. Otherwise, any number of pitchers will be knocking on his door. Honorable mention: Rudy Owens.

Yes, there’s hope.

  • It’s impossible to throw a dart at the Oklahoma City, Corpus Christi or Lancaster rosters and not hit a solid prospect. The question is how many will make a debut this season in Houston. The line is long, your top four nominations please?

Tell me I’m wrong:

  • The OKC outfield (George Springer, Austin Wates, Domingo Santana) may be better top to bottom than the Houston OF (Dexter Fowler, Robbie Grossman, Hoes).
  • With all the rancor created in the media and blogs, the Astros and Springer will agree on a contract this year that will buy out some of the #1 pick’s arbitration years.
  • Catcher may be the strongest/deepest position on the current Astros’ 25-man roster.
  • Dominguez started more games (149) at his position (3B) than any other starter (at their position) in 2013. This season, that will be Dexter Fowler.
  • Carlos Correa may take Lancaster, Corpus Christi and OKC by storm and could be in Luhnow’s office come September talking contract.

Quote of the day: “The Cubs last won in 1908. They’re now in their second century of rebuilding.” — George Will, a Cubs’ fan.

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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.

22 comments on “Spring has sprung, but it’s not eternal for Astros

  1. Dan P
    March 25, 2014

    Thoughts:
    – Go Ooh LaLa Ragin’ Cajuns – love it when the little guys rise (locally that is like when Rice is kicking butt in baseball)
    – Biggest disappointment – not having one player make their major league debut on opening day. Springer especially
    – Breath of fresh air – Grossman because I believe in him more than Marwin G. I noticed Fields pitching great from mid-August to the end of the season – so I’m not surprised. Maybe he’s the closer.
    – Holding my breath – Hoping Oberholtzer pitches more like last season than this ST
    – Lost cause – We may be saying this about Harrell or Williams in a month
    – Sleeper pick – Maybe Guzman will be a much better hitter here than in Petco
    – Put up or shut up – The left side of the infield needs to just be all around better.
    – Top 4 making their debut this season – Springer, White, maybe Wojo if he heals, maybe Owens if he figures things out – as a 5th I like to see Santana.

    Like

  2. BrianT
    March 25, 2014

    Maybe a trip to Omaha for those Cajuns? Make a trip of it, Chip, and I’ll meet you there!
    I like Dan’s disappointment, but I’d add the offense as a whole. The Astros looked to be in mid-season form … If the season was 2012.
    Definitely Grossman and Fields … maybe with a little Krauss mixed in.
    I’m holding my breath on Hoes. His success or failure will determine how quickly we see Mr. Springer.
    My new lost cause is Singleton. I know he’s young for AAA, but I think the clock starts now.
    Keuchel is hardly a sleeper. I’m going to go with (don’t laugh) Marwin Gonzalez.
    I think Williams is on a short leash money or no money.
    Springer, Foltynewicz, DeShields or Santana, and Appel.
    Oh, and the Houston outfield is better, but only slightly.

    Like

  3. 1oldpro
    March 25, 2014

    -The CC outfield of Aplin, Heras, Tucker, DDJ may be as good as OKC’s
    -My sleeper pick is Cosart
    -Put up or shut up: Springer in OKC
    -I don’t think Springer signs a deal during the season
    -The strongest, deepest position on the 25-man roster is non-existent. They don’t have one.
    -Starts most games: Altuve
    -Carlos Correa finishes the year in CC with a Texas League Championship.

    Like

    • daveb
      March 25, 2014

      oldpro, Tucker is slower than Wallace, if that’s possible. A good bat, but if he progresses to the majors, he’ll be a DH, or will have to learn first base. I’ve seen him on Corpus. It’s like he’s slogging through quicksand.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 25, 2014

        I agree with you on Tucker’s speed but when he gets to the ball he’s smart and has a good arm. He is still going to have to play a position to stay in shape in the minors even if he DH’s in the majors, and he will still need to be able to play outfield or 1b in an emergency. I’d love to see him try practicing 1b since he is a natural lefty.

        Like

  4. Dan P
    March 25, 2014

    Did nto have time to hit the bottom column questions before:
    – OKC OF vs. Houston – it is possible that Springer and Santana will have more HRs individually than the Astros OF trio cumulatively.
    – I don’t see Springer signing such a contract this season
    – Catcher is strong on the 25 man roster and strong all the way down thru AAA and AA.
    – Most games started this season – I think Altuve will get the honor this season
    – Carlos Correa – I think will get up to AA this season – I wish he started there and got to mlb this season.

    Like

  5. Devin
    March 25, 2014

    I’d like to see White in the rotation. I’d also send Correa to CC to start the year. We need to At least see Luhnow preparing the team to promote players to be competitive.

    The OKC outfield is more exciting, but the Houston one way be better right now. I Loved the way Springer and Santana looked in the box, but Grossman and How’s both have mature approaches at the plate.

    Again, if the opening day roster resembles the July 1st roster by more than 80% I’ll be very disappointed. Get the show on the road. I’m not investing any of my entertainment dollars until I see progress at the MLB level. I will go see Brett Wallace and others play milb though.

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      March 25, 2014

      Team announced that Correa will start at Lancaster with the expectation of a quick jump to Corpus Christi. The short — hopefully — trip to Lancaster should give him a chance to make a cameo appearance for fans, really get off to a fast start and hit Corpus running.

      Like

      • Devin
        March 25, 2014

        Thanks, Chip. How does that work in practice? Give him 10 games at Lancaster and then release someone to free up room at a higher level? Demote someone from CC?

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 25, 2014

        Just a reminder that Correa will not be on the 40-man by September(unless there is an earth shattering unforeseen injury run at SS). The Astros could be in a similar situation with not wanting to put him on that roster for the rule 5 draft deal. If he has a great year like last year they might offer him a contract and bring him to camp in the spring with the job at SS in mind.
        If Correa is who I think he is, they may leave him in OKC next spring. until he clears that last year of eligibility hurdle like Springer will this year. After all he is still 19 until this fall. I find it hard to believe they would bring him up this year because of the little bit of Luhnow’s master plan that I have seen.
        I wonder if Luhnow sees what I see when he looks at his 25-man and then looks at the rest of the AL West’s 25-man rosters. This team does not have a lot of power, speed, defense or pitching. Of the four, I guess they are closest in power, because of their park.

        Like

      • Devin
        March 25, 2014

        Oldpro, I fear you are correct. It doesn’t make sense to lose a 40 man spot until after /during spring training 2015. At some point they need to make the best possible effort to win games as possible. They also need to commit to a face Of the franchise. I think starting Correa in Houston next year maximizes their profits long term.

        Like

  6. Chip Bailey
    March 25, 2014

    Devin, don’t know that they have a time frame for him to be at Lancaster, but rosters are usually somewhat fluid in the early part of the season. Someone will get hurt, moved to the long-term DL, released, promoted, demoted. With Correa the priority, it won’t be hard to find some “chaff” at CC if push comes to shove. If, indeed, they’re thinking short, short term (10-15 games), I’d think they’re already shaping the roster with that in mind.

    Like

  7. Dan P
    March 25, 2014

    Oh and Chip – relative to the title above – spring is not eternal, but this dang baseball nuclear winter we are stuck in sure seems to be.

    Like

  8. Astro45
    March 25, 2014

    Talk about fluid minor league rosters. Right now OKC has 20 pitchers, 3 catchers, 6 OFers, and -0- 3rd Base. So there will be a little shuffling there for sure.

    Like

  9. Astro45
    March 25, 2014

    As to Singleton. Years ago I saw Roger Miller on a show and he explained that when he wrote “King of the Road” and “Dang Me” etc. He was high on drugs. Another guest noting that Miller had not done anything lately said, “Maybe you need to go back to drugs.”

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 25, 2014

      Hilarious and sad at the same time Astro 45

      Like

  10. daveb
    March 25, 2014

    I wouldn’t call Singleton the biggest disappointment, because what he didn’t do on the field is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. He’s certainly the biggest concern though. In my 59 years, I’ve never heard of a guy being addicted to marijuana, who then went to 30 days of rehab to get off the stuff who then got out of rehab and started getting drunk every night to replace getting stoned all the time. I think he’s got real issues. Maybe he should try some of that new medical marijuana.

    I’m not at all worried about Dominguez, at least beyond him reverting back to what little he accomplished during the first half of last year. He’s a steady, even keeled guy. I expect something similar to his second half of 2013.

    Marwin is destined to revert back to his .600 range OPS once pitching goes live next week. He’s a floozy, or at least he teases like one.

    Guzman will do just fine as long as our manager (when do we get to talk about Bo?) does not try to make him our everyday first baseman. He should start against lefties and pitch hit. Period.

    Grossman will be a serviceable guy until we get real corner outfielders. He’s an overachiever, but with his .725 range OPS, he’s got no business as a corner outfielder on a respectable squad.

    I’m not too worried about Jerome either. I think he can give us the same 4.62 ERA that our ace has posted lifetime.

    That Springer/Wates/Santana outfield will be fun to watch. Box seats for the opener? 19.00 tax included. Grossman/Fowler/Hoes: Box seats for the opener? 165.00 plus tax.

    I hope they are putting Correa up in a hotel, because otherwise he’ll lose his deposit for moving out of his apartment before the lease is up. Seems like a frivolous trip to Lancaster.

    Like

  11. Bo Weaver
    March 25, 2014

    Earlier in February I asked if the Astros still had the lowest payroll in all of baseball. Nobody replied.. Now we know that indeed they ARE bringing up the rear:

    http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2014/03/25/astros-rank-last-in-mlb-payroll-at-45-million/

    Not only are they the worst of the worst, there are only six other teams with LESS THAN DOUBLE THE LASTROS PAYROLL. Six!

    And they are lowballing Springer? Why? Could it be they have no legit resources????

    Like

    • Astro45
      March 25, 2014

      Bo, I admit the Astros are making you look like Elijah or some Biblical Major Prophet, but surely you don’t think this collection of talent is underpaid (except maybe the thumb in the eye to Cosart).

      Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 25, 2014

        Ha! No, the majority are being paid commensurate to their actual talent level. But to see those with real talent lowballed — it tends to reveal what’s forthcoming.

        Like

  12. Bo Weaver
    March 25, 2014

    Mediocrity. On-going mediocrity. That;s what’s reasonable to expect during Crane’s tenure, and that’s all the market will bear.

    Like

  13. Eric Girard
    March 29, 2014

    Speaking of the Astros future and while watching today’s game against the Rangers in the Alamodome, it struck me that the Astros have a Rio (Ruiz), a Jio (Meir), a Teo (Hernandez) and a Leo (Heras) in their system, all of whom are prospects. I know, I need a life. lol.

    Like

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2014 by in Astros.
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