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Lineup shuffles now, roster shuffles soon?


The Astros have already shuffled the lineup multiple times (seven times in eight games counting Tuesday). Sooner or later, Jeff Luhnow will shuffle the roster with under performance and injuries all but a certainty.

Since you can’t get inside Luhnow’s mind, here are some questions and thoughts for your consideration on a Tuesday.

Will Austin Wates beat George Springer to the majors?

  • Or, should he? Wates has been nothing but consistent in his minor league career. He walks often and doesn’t have a high number of Ks. And, while he can swipe a few bases, he’s not likely to hit many HRs or drive in many runs. The 25-year-old third round pick (2010) could certainly provide some depth and fill in for a stint, but he’d need to be added to the 40-man roster before the Astros could make a move. Think about it this way, though. If the “clock” is a big concern with Springer, it won’t be with Wates, especially if the team needs a short-term solution.

How far do you go with Lucas Harrell (yes, Becky, let’s go there)?

  • Face it, if Luhnow could have traded him, he’d be gone by now. Harrell is one of those good day/bad days guys, and he’s a gap filler. He’s not presently blocking anyone, but it won’t be long before the music stop and he’s wearing another uniform. Meanwhile, the better he pitches, the better the odds of Houston picking up a decent prospect in return. He’ll be under the microscope for Wednesday’s start.

Who will man middle infield in the long-term?

  • You could do a lot worse than Carlos Correa and Nolan Fontana. High on-base guys with good defensive skills. Either put Dexter Fowler — or even Delino Deshields or that other guy — behind them in center and suddenly your up-the-middle defense takes two steps up. It would be hard to trade Jose Altuve, but his long-term, team-friendly deal could bring dividends if Fontana settles into 2B.

Simple question.

  • Who has the most challenging, difficult job ahead: Pitching coach Brent Strom or hitting coach John Mallee?

Another shout out.

  • Louisiana-Lafayette — those Ragin Cajuns — are ranked in the top three in every poll. Collegiate Baseball ranks ’em #1. Could be interesting to have a college regional in Lafayette rather than (ahem) Baton Rouge. Just sayin’.

And, the over and under.

  • The Astros indicated last month that Correa’s time in Lancaster would likely be short. Good, he should be in Corpus Christi soon. I give it through the end of the next home series, which would be April 19. Twelve more games would provide about 50-60 total ABs at Lancaster, just good enough to give fans a look at the future.

 

 

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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.

32 comments on “Lineup shuffles now, roster shuffles soon?

  1. 1oldpro
    April 8, 2014

    -I guess Wates’s fate lies in the bat of Bob Grossman. That batting slump, coupled with everyone’s denial of my obviously correct offseason assessment of Hoes’s defensive shortcomings may actually announce the simultaneous arrival of Springer and Wates. I really questioned Hoes’s arm but missed his being a clutz. Seriously, if you want to jump start those embarrassing turnstiles from this past homestand, send Krauss and Harrell packing along with the other two and bring Singleton and Martinez in with Wates and Springer for the next home series.
    -I think you go as far as the back door with Harrell
    -Long term middle infield: Correa and the winner of the battle between Torreyes and Kemp. Fontana could make a three person fight, but it is harder to get him to hit than it is for the other two to stop hitting. I would bet on Torreyes because of his longer legs covering more ground at second. I think Fontana could move into the utility role.
    – I think Strom will have the tougher job because Mallee will be looking for one.
    -I’m going to take the over on Correa lasting in Cali until May 1st.

    Like

    • daveb
      April 8, 2014

      Wait a second oldpro. don’t say everyone was in denial of Hoes shortcomings. Always a hazard to say “everyone”. Probably a nice guy, but my least favorite baseball player on the present 25 man roster. Mental errors offend me the most, and Hoes leads the club so far. He’s a bad base runner. And he can’t go back on a ball. And his arm is all over the place. I could go on. And he’s out there in right while we’ve got a ROY candidate fuming in OKC.

      Anyway, sure, if Grossman keeps not hitting, sit both him and Hoes and bring Springer and Wates up. Then we’d have a whole new outfield and I’d immediately feel better.

      Harrell will give the club a reason to unload him, whether via a trade for anything, or outright release. He will self destruct. Along with Becky, he is probably already whining again about the defensive shifts. We just need a Folty to look ready.

      Fontana needs to start doing some more hitting in the minors before we think about him taking over for Altuve. Remember what Altuve did at the plate in the minors? But chances are that we’ll see Fontana and Correa working together in CC within a month. By design? I think so. Will be a fun double play combination to watch.

      I think our pitching coach has more talent to work with, at least for right now.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        April 8, 2014

        Fontana has to hit and he is not hitting. Tonight he was 0-6 with 4 strikeouts, but his line for the year is .174, .240, .261. That is just horrible batting behind DDJ in the top of the order. Fontana gave us a look at this in the last half of last year and he did not play well in Arizona in the fall. The pitchers will not walk him if he cannot hit and in AA they know how to throw strikes to guys who can’t hit. He’s starting to feel the pressure.

        Like

  2. Astro45
    April 8, 2014

    So maybe we should have kept Jordan Lyles, not to pitch, but DH.

    Like

  3. Dan P
    April 8, 2014

    Thoughts –
    – Always a good point that they could bring up somebody that they are not concerned with starting the clock on.
    – I think Grossman is close to breaking out of his slump – can’t give up on a guy after 1 week and he has been hitting in tough luck here.
    – Hoes I can not defend. His baseball IQ is near Krauss’ batting average.
    – Carter can not do anything at home – goes on the road and gets 2 doubles in the first game (though one was just an excuse me bloop).
    – Luhnow is praying that Harrell can string something together so he can trade him – not sure if it can happen or not.
    – I want to see Correa, Sclafani, Fontana, Meyer and Torreyes up here in the next year or two and see who can do what.
    – I think Mallee has the toughest immediate job and he could be gone after this season. Strom will have a challenging job as the youngsters come up – but I think he is a better coach.
    – LaLa – love those small schools kicking big school butt. Though my UH Cougars have been solid this season.
    – I’m betting Correa will at least put a month in at Lancaster – but I want him to get on a fast path this season.

    Like

  4. 1oldpro
    April 8, 2014

    Minors:
    OKC won 8-1 as Wates, Petit, Springer, Stassi and Torreyes all had two hits with Stassi’s 3-run homer in the first starting things off. Paul Clemens pitched five scoreless innings in his start and got the win.
    CC won 7-6 in 11 innings on a homer by Jio Mier.
    Enrique Hernandez had 3 hits and Travis Ballew pitched the 11th and got the save.
    Lancaster-Carlos Correa finally had his first two strikeouts of the season but Lancaster won 4-2 as Tony Kemp had three more hits and Gulbranson and Meridith and Scott had two each. Kyle Smith was crazy wild in the start with 5BB but Lambson, McCullers and Cotton combined for 6 scoreless innings in relief
    Quad Cities lost 5-4 and had 9 hits and 7 walks but could not hit with men on. Chris Lee started and pitched 4.1 scoreless inn but Andrew Thurman and Andrew Walter got hit hard and gave up the lead.

    Like

  5. Becky
    April 9, 2014

    daveb………I didn’t “whine” about the shifts. I just think they are being over used by a LOT of teams, and the last three games with the Angels……the didn’t work.
    Strom has his plate pretty full right now, with the young guys, AND Lucas Harrell.
    Tomorrow’s start may tell Harrell’s fate with Porter. As far as the crazy lineup’s
    are concerned…….we better get used to them, This manager is doing EXACTLY what Mills did, and it was maddening to watch….if you’re lucky enough to
    actually SEE the games.

    Like

  6. Devin
    April 9, 2014

    Until the strikeouts drop I am going to throw nasty looks toward Mallee.

    Off topic, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks the players found a new, magical pharmaceutical. Either that or the baseballs are 1987-level juiced. Have you seen those bombs they (not the Astros) are dropping?

    Like

  7. Steven
    April 9, 2014

    I do think this team made choices in who to keep up and who to give PT too. No doubt.

    I also think some of you are going over board quoting batting lines after 7 games. That is a little ridiculous. So and so is hitting .150/.210.250 after 25 at bats! Drop him now!

    Grossman will hit. Carter will hit (and yes, strikeout a ton, but we don’t have better). Even Hoes will hit better than he has – though he is a 4th outfielder and shouldn’t be playing everyday. Ready to dump Krauss after he has appeared in what, 2 games? Really?

    Early stats are stupidly overblown. Now if a guy is hitting .200 after 30 games, we can start to talk about what other options exist. After 50 games, we probably waited too long. After 7, we are wasting our breath.

    I want to see Springer as bad as anyone else. I think Singleton may struggle some, but I would rather watch him struggle than give at bats to Guzman. I am the crazy one that said Correa was ready now. Remember I said play Stassi. But the Astros made their choices, and after 7 games they probably aren’t going to deviate from the plan immediately because a few players got off to lethargic starts. Making decision on short sample consistently just turns you into the Mets.

    And I have to agree with Becky (mark the tape, it happened) – Porter is trying to over manage a poor lineup. Too many shifts. If you want to use Villar in the leadoff, stick him in the leadoff. I don’t agree with batting him leadoff, but batting him 1st today, 2nd tomorrow, and 9th on Wednesday is not letting anyone get comfortable in the role they are supposed to play. I don’t think you have to rock the same lineup everyday, but there has been more movement in the lineup and batting order than short sample should justify. Injuries have played some part, but its still over done.

    I know LaRussa shifted his around alot, but there was method to his madness. He created matchups that favored his guys consistently, Porter just seems to be shuffling bad to shuffle bad.

    Like

    • Devin
      April 9, 2014

      I agree with this. The difference between .270 and .220 is one more hit out of every twenty at-bats. Shuffling the lineup in an attempt to maximize doesn’t guarantee success. Sometimes leaving players in a tough matchup is preferable as it creates less uncertainty around them in the lineup, but the catch is that the player must be smart enough to take advantage of what the pitcher gives them. Last year we saw far too many guys strikeout when simply hitting the ball anywhere on the right side of the diamond would have been more productive. I can understand the players trying to do too much in an effort not to get shuffled / pulled from the lineup.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        April 9, 2014

        Devin, couldn’t agree more! Players — especially baseball players — need consistency to get in a groove. You think differently going to the plate as a cleanup hitter or a two-hole hitter. Expectations are different. If you’re changing your mindset or approach every night, it can be problematic, especially for younger players.

        Yeah, yeah, you may say, what’s the difference, the situation is different everytime they come up to bat. True, but take it from someone who’s been around baseball and seen kids/players not be able to manage the day-to-day changes. There’s enough to think about without having to switch places in the batting order everyday.

        Like

  8. 1oldpro
    April 9, 2014

    So let me get this straight. We shouldn’t judge Grossman or Krauss’s horrid performances based on Small Samples(SS), but it’s ok for you to suggest giving Guzman’s at bats to Singleton. Guzman hitting .261 vs Krauss’s .000 BA.
    And Porter is over managing even though most of his players aren’t hitting or were out of the lineup and then you try to compare him to Tony LaRussa as an example of how bad he is managing.
    Porter is doing what he was told to do by his boss. If he doesn’t, he’s gone. Is that clear enough? The stats guys are calling the shots. The shifts are controlled by the stats he is given and he calls the shifts by the stats.
    Now you can call for every player to be given 30 games before something is done about him(unless his name is Jesus) but if the Astros are 10-20 after those 30 games, what good has Porter done. Krauss was kept because of his bat and he doesn’t have a hit yet even though he’s facing righties most of the time. And Grossman isn’t just not hitting, he’s not fielding either. And he’s not running the bases because he can’t get on base.
    We’re not turning into the Mets. The Mets are much better than us and have been for more than three years now. Who do you think you are kidding? We root for the worst team in baseball and replacing the players who are batting .069 may work better than replacing the ones who are hitting .261 just because you don’t care for them.

    Like

    • Steven
      April 9, 2014

      Friendly old guy, aren’t you? Like a Grandpa that thinks he knows all the lessons and the young uns just aint listening, are they? You fairly misrepresent what I said. I said I would rather have Singleton, yes, but I don’t, so I am not going to pile on Guzman after 7 games. I didn’t want him here to begin with is the intent of my statement, but he is ours now. Wait it out, give him 150 plate appearances, and if he is still bad then you have an argument.

      My guess is Grossman is not waste of our time, but Guzman is. Is Grossman a superstar in the making, probably not, but my guess is he will be a serviceable major leaguer. But, yea, I get it, Guzman is here and the Astros will give him a chance to succeed.

      Every player that has ever laced up has had a bad 7 game streak. It happens.

      As for how Porter is managing, are you suggesting that he is told by Luhnow and the “stat” geeks who to play? Are you saying Luhnow is filling out the card? I am not saying that isn’t correct, but unless you happen to be a disguised blogger ID for the bench coach, I would slow the horses on calling out other people and giving them absolute information that you absolutely can’t verify.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        April 9, 2014

        I am a Grampa I do know all the lessons and, even better, I can read. I read what you wrote, then I wrote what I wrote. The difference between you and me is I don’t back off. You back Grossman and Krauss and trash Guzman even though he is playing better than them. You want to give them time but don’t want to give him time because you never wanted him.
        I told you why Porter shifts. I didn’t say a word about him being told who to play. You did bring LaRussa into a Porter conversation and you did bring the Mets into the conversation as if they were toads compared to the Astros. I called you out because you don’t know what you are talking about. Being old sometimes means a person has seen it all. I haven’t. I’ve been a baseball junkie since 1956, so I’ve only seen 58 years of it. Before that it was just girls I liked.
        Porter believes in the shifts, but he shifts his infielders because that is what his boss wants. You can take that to the bank.

        Like

      • Steven
        April 10, 2014

        Yea, but Newt Gingrich is old, been around politics his whole life, and still isn’t qualified to run this country.

        How do I know you are a Conservative? Because you do what Conservatives do, you take a statement like I would rather have Singleton than Guzman, and you misrepresent my position completely and make up your own truth that I am “trashing” Guzman. we all have the guys we are fans of. we all have guys that we are willing to move on from. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong – the enjoyment of the conversation is the debate. Like a Conservative, you typically like to move the debate to make it personal instead of a conversation about the players. When you can’t win an argument, make it personal. Thats the mantra.

        Now specifically on Guzman – certainly he is a better baseball player than I am – my point is not to give guys that have no track record, like Grossman and Krauss, the hook after 7 games. Guzman has almost 1000 major league plate appearances, we know what this guy is. He is a stopgap. Again I stress, now that he is here, we don’t give him the hook either.

        It’s possible, even likely, that Grossman and Krauss are stopgaps also. But you just don’t know that. They both have successful minor league careers, and very little major league opportunity. My brain works by analytics. Statistics matter. So does your opinion in the exchange of ideas, no matter how wrong it is.

        Like

    • Chip Bailey
      April 10, 2014

      Steven, I respect you, but you have just done what many others do: Paint a picture of everyone because of the views of one person. I am very conservative. In religion. In politics. In my personal life.

      Yet, I am easily able to debate, discuss or have a reasonable conversation about any of those subjects. Without resulting to personal name calling or labels.

      Unfortunately, what you describe above and designate specifically for “conservatives” is true about people on both sides of the aisle. Both sides hurl and throw out untruths, accusations and one-sided arguments without seeing the “stick” in their own eyes. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way of life in this generation.

      Brother, I’ve worked hard to keep politics and name-calling and labeling out of our conversations. I can make serious arguments — and cordially — about politics but to what end. In this day and age, we just need to agree to disagree. Honestly…because it gets us nowhere since politicians on both sides have changed the way our country operates. Back in the day, senators could debate major issues on the floor and then go to dinner and enjoy one another’s company. Nowadays, forget it. They despise one another..and that’s unfortunate. They’d just as soon hold another press conference to talk about the other one.

      Sad, sad day.

      Like

      • Steven
        April 10, 2014

        Chip – I am also a registered Republican – though a Libertarian truth be told.

        I didn’t mean my response to be insulting – I am only pointing out that Conservatives can be very personal in their responses because they are emotional about their politics – and OP is emotional about his baseball. I get that. The best way to have constructive conversation with me is to make your point via statistics, and I don’t mean 7 days and 20 plate appearances worth.
        Dave gets me all the time, and I just nod my head and read on.

        Like

  9. daveb
    April 9, 2014

    I made a point the other day that all but maybe 2 or 3 offensive players on the club are simply bridges until we get competent guys permanently into positions. I include Grossman in that lot of “bridges”. Maybe he’ll get on base at some point, but really, he does nothing else very well. He’s not a great fielder, does not have a strong arm, and is not a very efficient base runner/stealer. And heck, I want my corner outfielders to be homerun hitters. Steven, I consider Grossman to be another JB Shuck. I think Shuck produced a .8 WAR last year. And I think Grossman will be that kind of guy too.

    But I fully agree. It’s too early to drop a guy after a weeks worth of stats. Fact is that we simply have a bunch of ballplayers that are not real good at what they do.

    As far as the shifts go, as oldpro has already noted, all of those stat geeks working in the Astro office are putting together the book on every hitter in the game. And I’m pretty certain that Porter is obligated to use that thick book of information provided to him before every series. Regarding the the line up changes, well, I think that’s on my favorite manager.

    Like

  10. videoidget1
    April 9, 2014

    Anybody take notice of this?:

    http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2014/04/09/astros-match-last-years-0-0-tv-rating/

    Market demand drives all, ladies and gentlemen. Without revenue from advertising, without people who give a crap about the team, there’s a paucity of resources to make the team competitive.

    If mediocre interest begets mediocre results, what does NO interest beget?

    Like

    • Steven
      April 9, 2014

      Interesting. I honestly left ultimate Astros when Chip did. I don’t even visit the Chron website anymore.

      You pose an interesting question, one that Bo will be along shortly to answer.

      Like

      • Astro45
        April 9, 2014

        Steven, let me fill you in on what you have missed. …………………………….. Now that I have done that, the fan base is down to Apnew and the whiners have now doubled. So, I could have just as easily stopped above right before the word “Now.”

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      April 9, 2014

      Why do I think you are an old friend in sheep’s clothing?

      Like

  11. Steven
    April 9, 2014

    Pro – again, as you like to do towards me, misrepresent my position. I made it clear that the Astros made their choices, but if I had been given those choices, Singleton and Springer and Stassi would be here, and even Correa, getting those at bats. I have been clear and consistent in that for months. My personal feeling about that remains unchanged.

    That said, yes, again, I will stress that it 25 plate appearances is way too small of a sample to talk about. Krauss is hitless in what, 10 at bats? He has hardly seen the field. If he and Guzman and Grossman and Carter are the way the Astros have gone, then by goodness give them a little more than 25 at bats before you pile on them.

    Like

  12. Astro45
    April 9, 2014

    Headline “Lineup Shuffles” and tonight we have Altuve batting clean-up. I mean really…………………..

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      April 9, 2014

      Astro45, totally agree. 9th game tonight, 8th different lineup.

      Like

  13. daveb
    April 9, 2014

    Who knows, maybe my man Bo is on a short leash and is overreacting to the pressure…….

    Like

  14. kevin
    April 9, 2014

    Man Oh man watching the game tonight ESPN same ol crap . Cant hit, cant pitch harrel sucks, carter sucks, grossman sucks, Catsro domingo sucking, No one cares and no one watching. I’m starting to lose faith here in year 4 of Crap. Come on man we have no one in this organization better the Kuechel. Once again we are just a AAAA team

    Like

    • kevin
      April 9, 2014

      sorry for typos just pissed!

      Like

    • videoidget1
      April 9, 2014

      Yep. A ruined team chock full o’ scrubs.

      Like

  15. videoidget1
    April 9, 2014

    Did you know that in Texas you can catch more Cubs games than Lastros games on TV? And I hear their color announcer is pretty good, to boot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rj
      April 9, 2014

      why did you change your name bo?

      Like

  16. rj
    April 12, 2014

    wordpress did it?

    Like

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