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Weekend sweep: Ughh! That was awful!


No offense. A blown save. And a sweep.

What year is this?

Yet again, the Astros snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As if losing three straight to the Royals wasn’t bad enough, the losing skid has now hit seven games after a sweep by the A’s. Hey, I’m as excited about George Springer as the next lonely Astros’ fan, but a win or two might be nice.

Yeah, I know, asking for two wins is getting greedy.
So, is there anything going right with this club? Any good news at all? Or should we all just check back around July of 2015 to see if Carlos Correa is on his way?

AWFUL
Well, despite the addition of Mr. Springer, this team still can’t hit. After the sweep by the A’s (why am I stunned?), I’m not sure the team stats are updated on the MLB site. But rest assured, Houston has the dead-last worst batting average in the majors. The number I’m looking at is .192. A team of Mendozas would be better. Getting a little more SABR-metric, the Astros’ OPS is a whopping .603.

NEARLY AWFUL
OK, still awful, but at least we’re not 30-for-30 in these stats. The 4.68 ERA is only 27th in the majors, and Houston’s team WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.47 ranks all the way to 26th. Surprisingly, it is the starting rotation that’s holding up the team effort. The starters have the 24th ranked ERA (4.36) and the 20th ranked WHIP (1.33). By contrast, the “much improved” bullpen is trotting out to the tune of a 5.34 ERA (29th) and a 1.67 WHIP (29th). Oh, look, they’re not dead last. See, things have improved. (Rolling my eyes like a teenager.)

QUESTIONABLE
Jose Altuve has been batting lead off. This is a sure sign that Bo Porter is either deranged or spent his off-season in Colorado (hint, hint). I’m going with deranged. Of course, this is a more reasonable spot in the lineup for the slap-hitting Altuve than clean up.

For all the good press on “the shift,” Porter has made some bizarre lineup changes, made Matt Dominguez look like an idiot for, well, being an idiot. (But did he have to do it publicly?) And had an on-field spat with Jed Lowrie for no good reason when it seemed like Altuve was taking care of the problem.

GOOD NEWS
Altuve has walked nearly as much as he’s struck out (6 vs. 8). He has 5 steals and hasn’t been caught. I’m guessing he had his seventh Saturday. His .681 OPS is a bit low right now, but it’s bound to go up the way he’s playing. This is a better version of 2012’s Jose Altuve.

Jonathan Villar has played error-free baseball at short. Sure, it’s only a matter of time, but between his surge of power (3 HRs) and his, frankly, amazing defense, I say let Correa incubate for 2014.

So, we’re more than two weeks in.

  • What has you pulling your hair our and throwing the remote at the TV? Or glad you can’t see them on TV?
  • Is this team better, really, if even just marginally than the 2013 version? If so, where?
  • What silver linings do you find yourself clinging to when you wake up in a cold sweat after a nightmare where Spring is sent down?
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About BrianT

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

15 comments on “Weekend sweep: Ughh! That was awful!

  1. Dan P
    April 20, 2014

    Good piece Brian – and Happy Easter to you.
    The bad decisions are what are driving me crazy whether it is the lineup choices, the bad base running and sometimes the fielding decisions.
    I think this team will be better than last year because I cannot believe that this team can possibly continue this type of insanely bad hitting. When the team is averaging the BA/ OBP and OPS or a back up catcher – even these guys cannot keep being this bad.
    Silver lining is the better starting pitching especially if you look at Harrell now being out of the picture. The bullpen is bothering me – but perhaps with Crain joining them at some time and Qualls getting over the flu things will get better there.
    I am glad Springer is here and hope Singleton is coming up soon also. They need some punch and they need some of the guys to get back to their norms in hitting.
    I’m tired of looking to the future – I need some Now to happen.

    Like

  2. BrianT
    April 20, 2014

    Hoppy Easter indeed!

    Batting average of a backup catcher. That made me laugh.

    Just bought great seats on the field level, first baseline at Target Field for that first full weekend in June. Hope Singleton and Springer are in the lineup … And Foltynewicz is starting the game.

    Probably not that last thing. The rotation is better. Now we just need Crain and an offense.

    And for Porter to make good decisions on leadership. I like that he make a point to praise Villar. He needs to do more of that. These are still kids, and a little praise in the press can help.

    Like

  3. Chip Bailey
    April 20, 2014

    Brian, as far as offense, I hear Brett Favre is available! Brian, I do believe the team is better than ’13. Know I’ll take some heat for this, but it’s early. Very early. Yes, it’s horrific, but the team needs a little time to gel. Rotation is better, bullpen is better. Luhnow is buying time until the Springers, Singletons, Foltys, Crains, Wojo-alphabets, and Whites (hopefully) get here. Go ahead and beat me up, but that’s my take. And hope.

    Others will join Harrell on the DFA club, hopefully sooner than later.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Astro45
    April 20, 2014

    I believed in ST that on paper, this team was an improvement. Unfortunately, the game is not played on paper. Still think this is a better team, and don’t see them losing 15 in a row, but it is time to gel and get better. I also wonder how much has been caused one by one with the “flu” or maybe the “Bo-flu” – they may be sick of him.

    Like

    • Dan P
      April 20, 2014

      They sure aren’t doing much to save Bo’s job

      Like

  5. drbill14
    April 20, 2014

    It’s tough when the manager castigates the players for mental errors when he probably leads the league in bonehead lineups and decisions. I don’t fault Qualls so much as I do Porter calling on him to close a game when he had not pitched an inning for over a week. He should have pitched in the seventh or eighth if Porter was dead set on giving him some work. I doubt Porter has much if any respect in the clubhouse. Going back to when the team quit playing for him last season the Astros are 5 and 29. Shades of July and August of 2012. Carter is complete dead weight and Dominguez is under performing badly. This team needs the spark Springer and Singleton and perhaps even Wates could bring and a major change at the manager level.

    Like

  6. 1oldpro
    April 21, 2014

    So why don’t we go down the position list and see what’s what and if there is a fix available.
    1. Catcher-Our catchers are ranked 24th out of 30 offensively at .197, .289, .439. The only way to fix that is to get Castro out of his slump. Stassi is not ready w/ 14 games at AAA. Castro has to get with it. Period. Bat him third
    2. 1B- We are last in baseball at .164, .243, .284. That’s worse than last year and the solution to that problem is Jon Singleton. Bat him fifth.
    3. 2B-We are sixth in baseball at .276, .333, .342. Put Altuve batting second and leave him there.
    4. SS-We are 24th in baseball at .206, .286, .397. Leave Villar there batting ninth.
    5. 3B-18th in MLB at .227, .268, .394. Bat Dominguez sixth following Singleton.
    6. LF-Last in MLB with .149, .227, .313. Tell me that Austin Wates is not a better outfielder and couldn’t do better than this. If Grossman hadn’t hit two HR’s this would look even worse. Bat Wates eighth in the lineup.
    7.CF-Last in MLB at .167, .247, 342. I think you stick w/ Fowler, hope his sickness is over and leave him in the leadoff spot.
    8.RF-28th in baseball at .174, .250, .275. Springer is the only reason it’s not 30th. He is the fix, bat him cleanup
    9.DH-Last in the AL and not considering NL stats. Horrible! .141, .243, .281. Thats a .281 slg from your DH. Whats the answer? Tucker is the best bet. As the DH at CC his line is .338ba, .366obp, .552slg. He has only struck out 10 times in over 70PA’s. He’s young but can anyone hit worse than Carter and Tucker is a lefty who kills righties but still hits .280 against lefties. Bat him seventh behind Dominguez. Tucker is probably ready next spring but Carter forces your hand here.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      April 21, 2014

      In case you are wondering, the Astros are tied for last in MLB in pinch hitting with a .000 BA.

      Like

    • Astro45
      April 21, 2014

      I feel like the back benchers in the British Parliament. We all jump up and shout. “I agree with the right honorable gentleman we loveably call OP.” Then about 15 start yelling “Here, Here” in the background.

      Like

    • daveb
      April 21, 2014

      oldpro, I was with you until you suggested that Tucker come up from AA to DH, but Stassi, with only 14 games under his belt at AAA, is not ready.

      I’d bring up Stassi now. He’s already a better backstop than Castro. I’d make Castro the DH against righty pitching.

      And I’d put Singleton and Wates on the same flight.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        April 21, 2014

        I thought long and hard about Stassi. I honestly think he may be the catcher of the future, which is what led me to leave him at AAA playing every day until later in the year when we can bring him up for good. Remember that Castro again got hurt not catching, but batting. He has never gotten injured behind the plate.
        I didn’t want to bring Tucker all the way from AA, but as a DH Tucker would be able to concentrate only on hitting and nothing else and he has really adapted well going to DH from OF this spring. Tucker has always been thought of as a hitter with power. Right now I would settle for a 245 avg from him with some power over Carter who is hitting 100 points below that.

        Like

  7. Zanuda
    April 21, 2014

    I agree with this line up as garbage. Nobody knows form one day to the other where they will be batting. How about some consistentcy. The deal with Bo-Bo making a complete and utter $#^ out of himself with the Lowrie deal shows he was not the right guy for the job. I can talk about that all day on that issue but not now. Players on a team are like employees at work. Indecision and constant cheange will kill a business…same in baseball.
    I don’t know really what message C & L are trying to send but one thing is for sure, it ain’t working. We hear about the plan so let’s apply that to the line up, etc. Make a plan, go with it and see it through. If it doesn’t work, change it but change for change’s sake doesn’t work. It’s kind of like the cook preparing a meal. As you prepare it, it looks good and tastes good but you think that maybe you should tweak it here or there. Soon you have it so screwed up nobody likes it and you have to throw it out. I don’t like the taste of this particular dish as I expect some others feel the same way.

    Like

  8. Dan P
    April 21, 2014

    I think the players are playing like they are looking over their shoulders, except for Springer – who not surprisingly is the only player with no reason to look over his shoulder.
    Now I think they are looking over their shoulder at the minors and at their manager. I don’t think players like to have their foibles thrown out there by the manager at every post-game press conference and they sure are not playing like they want to play for him much longer.
    oldpor – I like what you have done there – I think you have hit on the main areas that they can address in the lineup. And I would say that teh only reason Dominguez is not in big danger is that no one is doing much below him at 3B unless you go all the way to Ruiz in A+ ball.

    By the way – what is going on with blog favorite Joe Sclafani – only played 6 games so far (1 and AAA and 5 at AA) and is just being moved around. Is he odd guy out?

    Like

  9. kevin
    April 21, 2014

    Sad all I can say is Sad. It seems like everything we do or touch turns to crap. IE Fowler Geez, Barnes anyone,Quails??
    OK lets see here we have Altuve and Springer, Villar is really trying, he has worked hard on his D, Castro hopefully. finds his bat, Domingo I think sadly over achieved last half of last year, I have never liked his Ho Hum demeanor. No matter how hard we pray, Guzman, Carter, Krauss, Presley and Hoes will always be 4 AAAA dudes every team needs 1 not 5. So its pretty bad, look on the street, make a trade, or just bring up some kids what the heck.

    Like

  10. Tim
    April 21, 2014

    At what point do we stop giving Luhnow a pass for rebuilding the farm system and question whether his plan will work? I went through the batting averages of the players he acquired and the highest is Fowler at .207. I am sure his hands are somewhat tied by Crane and his lack of finances, but, so far, it has been a failure.

    Like

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2014 by in Astros.
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