FREE BLOG WEEKEND: Lancaster, weak links and more

It’s early to get restless, but as players stumble out of the gate and Bo Porter struggles to find the right combination, it’s easy to start playing Monday Morning Quarterback. Meanwhile, let’s continue the conversation with the season’s first Free Blog Weekend. Here are some conversation starters…


Lancaster fans getting their money’s worth.

  • Nearly 8,000 fans (7,920) watched Mark Appel pitch and Carlos Correa, Rio Ruiz and Danry Vasquez beat Lake Elsinore 6-5 in extra innings Thursday night. So what, you say? Last April, Lancaster was playing in front of crowds of hundreds, not thousands. Yes, it pays for the Astros to have Appel, Correa and others hit all the stops along the way. Just how long they stay at those pit stops, though, is another question. When those players reach Corpus Christi, you can bet on standing room only crowds since Whataburger Field can hold under 8,000 fans.

Introduce yourself.

  • From time to time, we have an open house. Take the opportunity this weekend to introduce yourself, along with a little background: Where you are from, how long you’ve been an Astros’ fan, perhaps a favorite Astros’ story and how you follow your favorite nine.

Weak links?

  • Only a few weeks ago, most fans viewed Jonathan Villar as one of the weak links on the 2014 team. You could still make the weak-link argument — especially since Villar has a higher K-rate than BA — but it’s turned out he isn’t the weakest link. By far. Robbie Grossman, Matt Dominguez, Chris Carter and even Jason Castro are hitting 50 points are more below Villar. Grossman and Castro are probably the most surprising, but Dominguez (at least from this perspective) continues to be the most concerning.

How ’bout that trade?

  • The Astros made a great addition acquiring Dexter Fowler to be lead off and play center field. In a handful of games, he’s lived up to expectations. But, Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes are both on the Rockies’ major league roster and Lyles had that off-the-charts’ start recently, which included a 3-for-3 game at the plate.  Still like the trade? Will you still like the trade in September?

In case you were wondering, the Astros…

  • Lead the AL in Ks with 91.
  • Are second (14) in HRs behind Chicago (15).
  • Do not have a caught stealing this year (7 stolen bases).
  • Have 31 RBI. Only one team (Kansas City) has fewer.
  • Have no sacrifice bunts and only one sacrifice fly this season.
  • Average 9+ Ks and 2.8 BBs over the first 10 games.
  • Are 4-6 after 10 games, the same record as 2012 and 2013.


29 comments on “FREE BLOG WEEKEND: Lancaster, weak links and more

  1. -Isn’t it awesome, the crowd in Lancaster they had last night. I think they averaged about 2000 per game all last year.
    -Hi! I’m 1oldpro, the easy going, liberal minded, sweet-as-strawberry-wine Grampa. I used to be okwhatever in a previous life in Houston but was turned to the dark side by I am still haunted by those demons, as some here will testify to. I have been an Astros fan since Moby Dick was a minnow and the south loop was the outskirts of the city.
    -A few days ago I listed Villar as my surprise player of the season, so far.
    -I love the Fowler trade because he has filled a huge hole in CF and the guys we traded are doing well for Colorado. Making trades that end well for both parties ends up helping other club’s see us a a good partner. I especially like it because we traded w/ a NL team.
    – As far as the stats go, of interest is that the Astros defensively are middle of the pack in almost every defensive stat. we finished last year last in almost every defensive category. I cannot wait until George Springer is playing right field for the Houston Astros and our defense is even better.


  2. I think the weak links are Villar, Krauss, Corporan, and Marwin G. All are outright scrubs in my book.

    The jury is still out on Grossman, Carter and Dominguez.

    Speaking of MattyD, there’;s definitely a weak link regarding the Lastros DEPTH at 3B, (and the entire left side of the IF, if predictions on Villar and MarwinG hold true). The club is extremely vulnerable here. Still think a trade or waiver wire scrub will be in order.

    If not, can you imagine how sucky the team would be if MarwinG had to fill in at 3B if Dominguez went down for extended time? Wow. That would eclipse records of badness.

    Castro and Altuve will be fine. But that’s assuming that BoPo will get his head on straight regarding Altuve batting 3rd and/or 4th in the order.

    I wish I could see Fowler play more often. Does he make good contact? Is he selective? Does he get a good jump and read when stealing? Just how good of a leadoff hitter is he?

    The real question here is how good of a tandem are Fowler/Altuve, as that is the obvious and irrefutable top of the order, in my humble view.

    Oh, and Crane is bad. The weakest link of them all. In case you are still wondering…


    • Villar is a very good athlete. He runs as well as anyone, can hit a 400 foot homer. He does some pretty special things defensively in glimpses. Will he hit and get on base enough? Who knows. But he’ll have a long ML career somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Long ML career? Not going to happen until he starts hitting ML pitching. And Villar is no Deon Sanders.


  3. I think that Villar is the biggest surprise to me so far – he had never shown an inkling of playing defense under control all the way thru the minors.
    Carter is disappointing me more than Dominguez at the moment – I was hopeful he could learn something and it looks like the answer is he has learned nothing.

    Let’s see – y’all do know quite a bit about me already if you read my bio. What else can I tell you.
    – Coldest weather – 2nd grade walking to school in Chicago -20 F and that was not windchill.
    – Warmest weather – Summer of 2003 – Basra oil fields in Iraq – somewhere around 130 F.
    – Oddest place I’ve ever been – climbing inside the reactor building at Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville, Arkansas with the reactor at hot standby.
    – Best baseball memory – getting something like 5 pairs of free tickets to Astros games for making all A’s on my report card.
    – I remember moving to Spring Branch (near northwest side of Houston) from Dallas when I was 9 years old and looking around as we drove in hoping to see the Dome – this was back in 1966.
    – I love all sports – I wrote some as a guest blogger for the Texans fan blog on – but baseball is the best for writing about – just so much to comment on.


  4. I have been an Astros fan since I moved to Houston from Upstate NY in 1977. As a young boy in Upstate NY I was a Mets fan and my favorite players were Tom Seaver and Dave ‘King Kong’ Kingman. I followed the Mets some after my move to Houston, but by 1986 I completely hated that team.

    On here I am Tim, but I am stros1fan on the Chronicle. I find myself arguing too much with disgruntled fans on the Chron who do not understand what it takes to build a winner. All they want is instant results.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember being so excited in grabbing the Post and reading about Bobby Shantz and Roman Mejias and that first win of 11-2. Grew up in East Texas, lived in Metroplex, South Padre, and Houston, but retired back to East Texas. Got to see last night’s game. Two pitchers making hitters look bad. Must say, if the Astros got pitching for 162 games like that one, they would be “competitive” again. Hitters looked bad, but for both teams. Both sides were one hit from a win. And the strike zone was HUGE. And the only way to follow the Astros now is right here, or as Tim above mentioned – go to Chron dot com and get beat up for having a difference of opinion.


    • Oh, and Tim, welcome. You will find that 1oldpro and videoidget1 are a couple doppelgangers from Chron dot com also. But neither of them have a strong opinion about anything, so you might not recognize them. (Yes that is Sarcasm. )

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When I showed my wife how the CC Hooks destroyed Jonathan Gray last night in the first inning, I never thought I would have to go back and tell her that Heidenreich and Thomas Shirley would fall apart and blow a huge lead and lose 10-9. That was so unlike the Hooks, and it was their home opener.
    Baseball is a humbling game.
    Then Folty just fell apart and blew a lead in OKC and it was hard to sleep.


  7. Well old pro you could follow the Astros who rarely have a lead to blow. Jeez Louise – 2 hits in 12 IP. They make Darvish look like Cy Yu-ng.


    • All I could do was follow the Astros on Gameday. No radio or tv coverage out here in the country. I think the Rangers broadcast is available to me tonight, but alas, company is coming and they aren’t interested in the Astros.
      Sure wish Peacock could have gotten that last batter out.


      • old pro, I was pulling for Peacock to get those outs too. Then, I’d look ahead to the top of the next inning and wonder if it even mattered since the offense wasn’t hitting on ANY cylinders, much less just one.


  8. My name is Becky, and I’ve been a fan since I chartered them in 1969. I’m a retired delta Fight Attendant. My late husband and I had season tickets in the Dome from 1975-1983. Those were the days, where a homerun…….was a BIG deal!! So far this season I’m impressed with Villar…….I know, don’t fall out of your chair. It appears he has had some guys talk to him about when to try to turn a double play…..
    and when to leave it. I’m crossing my fingers that he stays on task. Biggest disappointment so far is Chris Carter, and LJ Hoes. Carter is outta options, but Hoes is not, and I think Hoes needs to go somewhere where he can play everyday.
    I gave Peacock a big atta boy last night, it was tough to see that winning run come across. For those of us who don’t have Comcast, the game will be on FSN tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hi im rj and im an astroholic. i have followed them since the first game of the colt 45’s. Most times on an in and out radio station out of shreveport that chip gave me the name of and i have forgotten that barely reached amarillo tx. now i am in the austin area and still have to listen on radio. favorite player of all time is bagwell. hope he is in the hall along with biggio next year or so. by the trade deadline i expect to see a trade or maybe two and springer to be called up. hope to see santana this year as well. would like to see more power in the outfield. thanks for this blog


  10. You know, Thomas Shirley has been flying under the radar. Since 2010 after leaving Xavier, he’s only thrown 156 innings, so I’m guessing he’s been on the DL a time or two. But he threw 75 frames in Lancaster last season ending up with a 1.195 WHIP. That’s a darn good stat throwing out there. At 6’5″ and 220, he’s a pretty hard throwing lefty who historically has been a strike out pitcher We need a guy like that. And it looks like they are starting to stretch him out in CC. Stay healthy Thomas!


    • i think so becky. doesnt mean he wont regress now and then, but he is an athletic young player that likely wont be going anywhere till correa pushes him out. even then maybe he makes them think about correa as 3B, unlikely as that may be.


    • Becky, I know Villar is no Jeter, nor Ripken, but their minors fielding stats are .931, .933, & .932. Jury is still out on Villar, but Jeter & Ripken .976 and .979 in the majors over long careers.

      So if he improves as they did, we can live with those numbers.


  11. Heard this last night……..Bo Porter called the entire team down in the tunnel last night in the 4th. inning. No idea what he said, but those guys came out swinging after that talk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be nice if they didn’t lose runners on the base paths – like when he sent Dominguez on a hit and run. When you send Dominguez on a hit and run you better have super high contact guy at the plate because you are running into an out automatically – and they did.


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